Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Knott’s New Year’s Eve Celebration

knott's NYE 2Having kids has meant (most years) a low key family friendly way of celebrating. Which usually means me in my pajamas, wrapped in a blanket, on my couch, watching the ball drop in Times Square on TV. I was really intrigued to hear that Knott’s Berry Farm is hosting a family friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration. The celebrating starts during the day and goes until 1am. If you are pretty sure you aren’t going to make it to midnight, no worries, there is lots happening all day for all ages. In Camp Snoopy, the “Happy New Year Charlie Brown!” stage show will have several showings filled with song and dance. “Snoopy’s Magical Night of Lights” features thousands of beautiful lights and holiday music starting at dusk ‘til 1am.

All of the rides will be open and that is really the most fun for me. I feel like in as many trips as I’ve made to Knott’s, I still haven’t “done” everything. There is so much going on all day on the 31st: the ice show "It's Christmas, Snoopy" at the Charles Shulz Theater, Magician Dana Daniels will be performing his family friendly magic in the Boardwalk Ballroom and “Elton John – The Early Years” will be performed by Elton John impersonator, Kenny Metcalf. If someone in the family likes dancing, there are two options: Salsa and Country line dancing, including instruction if you are feeling a bit rusty.

knott's NYE

No doubt you will need to eat with all the running around you will be doing. My favorite restaurants are: Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, Spurs Chop House in Ghost Town, Johnny Rockets on The Boardwalk and Grizzly Creek Lodge in Camp Snoopy. Click here for complete Knott’s dining info.

Calico Square is going to be the center of activities on New Year’s. The popular cover band, Clueless Remix Featuring DJ Resso will be playing hits from past and present. Next, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang will ring in the New Year with song, dance and some fun audience participation! Then, starting at 11:50 There will be a countdown with aerial fireworks display, stilt walkers, party hats and horns at midnight to welcome 2013 at Calico Square!

All this comes with a regular admission ticket. Purchase ahead of time online and save money and avoid waiting in line to buy your tickets at the park. While you are at it, why not get season passes? For as little as 6 payments of $11.16 you can have access all next year plus one free visit in 2012 and lots of other benefits! Just make sure to take advantage of this offer before January 13. It is a really great deal and there are lots of new things coming in time for summer for family fun on The Boardwalk.

Well, that was easy planning…My family and I will be ringing in the New Year at Knott’s! Happy New Year to all my readers and an awesome 2013 to you!

Disclosure: Knott’s Berry Farm has invited my family and I to attend their New Year’s Eve celebration. No compensation has been received for this post.

Monday, December 24, 2012

CVS Pharmacy–last minute Christmas

cvs pharmacyIt’s a reality of life that even the most organized people will get hit with the need for a “last minute gift”. Then, there are the people who are always doing things last minute. Here is my recommendation: Go to CVS. They have something for everyone, are located all over the place, are open late on Christmas Eve, some are open on Christmas Day and some stores are 24hrs. A few of my suggestions for gifts are: scented candles, Nuance by Salma Hayek bath products, Whitman’s samplers, magazines, heated travel mugs, Essence of Beauty holiday sets, Norelco razors, and of course gift cards. Besides CVS gift cards, most CVS locations also carry hundreds of other types of gift cards like Amazon, iTunes and Starbucks.

You can easily fill stockings in the seasonal aisle. I always pick up Lifesavers gift packs because I remember getting them in my stocking when I was little. Then there are those people who realize last minute that they need something so they don’t show up empty handed at Aunt Eloise’s Christmas Eve Family Gift Swap. Some CVS locations carry alcohol, wine and beer (varies by local restrictions). I live in California and there is a large selection of wine and I even noticed some gift sets for the holidays. If alcohol isn’t your thing, you could grab candy or mixed nuts. The really great thing about last minute shopping at CVS is that you don’t have some huge store to make you feel overwhelmed. You can go on a low-stress treasure hunt and wander around for a few minutes—you will discover things you never would have thought to buy. Oh, and don’t forget to get some snacks for Santa! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of Made in LA - CBS Los Angeles

Many of us are in the thick of the holiday shopping season. Why not consider gifts made in the USA? I'm on CBS Los Angeles with Best of Made in LA.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shaun White Supply Co. Table Top Ramp

rampI started skateboarding when I was a bit older than Chip. It was sort of the dawn of skateboarding…For the Boston area. Surfer Guy grew up on the beach in LA which was the epicenter of skateboarding. It think it has been officially driven into his DNA. In fact, where we live, I see skateboarding legends all over. Just yesterday we were at a surf/skate/board shop and skateboarding legend, Kevin “The Worm” Anderson was there. Surfer Guy knows him from when he got his first skateboard and introduced him to Chip. There is a short film, Skaterdater, that was shot around our neck of the woods and won at Cannes. Several of the kids in it (who are now older than I am as it was shot in 1965) still live around here. I recently attended a screening and met oneDSC05105 of the “kids”. So, it’s only natural that Chip and Lulu have already started skateboarding. I’ve been quite happy with them staying on straight flat surfaces…Mostly the walkway in our backyard. But I also realized that was getting a little boring when they started pulling planks out of the garage and making their own ramps. I had been thinking of buying them some sort of a skate ramp when I was contacted by Shaun White Supply Co. (I’m pretty sure most people have heard of Shaun, aka The Flying Tomato.) They wanted to know if I’d be interested in reviewing any of their products. What great timing, I thought! They kindly sent me the Shaun White Table Top Ramp, msrp $49.99.
First thing to know is that it comes in a box with three pieces. The pieces are easy to assemble and have screws/wingnuts that fasten on the underside. I was somewhat surprised that the box contained no DSC05104paperwork/instructions/warranty information. I didn’t need instructions—it’s really self explanatory. Subsequent conversation with the company has confirmed that there is no paperwork in the box. Their customer service is quite responsive so if you need to contact them, they offer good product support. The second thing to know is that the ramp isn’t that big. See the videos for reference. I would say it is good for up to about 8 years of age. This is the size ramp I wanted and it is very portable, I have brought it to the park. I think that some people might assume it is bigger than it is. The material feels sturdy and is described as being “high impact”. It also has a textured surface to aid with traction. The base doesn’t slip, but I’ve only used it on concrete and grass, nothing super smooth. The ramps can be used alone and have a decent

radius for doing what I would describe as “kiddie jumps”. My kids really like it and also use their bikes on it. Lulu just got her training wheels off and loves doing her first “stunt” moves on the table top. All in all, it is a good little kid/beginner ramp and tabletop. I’m looking forward to my kids trying out the ramp with the latest retro-skateboarding trend—small skateboards. These are the skateboards that are like the ones I learned on. Shaun White makes the
Retro Dart, msrp $49.99 which just debuted on Black Friday.
Disclosure: I received one Shaun White Supply Co Table Top ramp for review purposes. All content and opinions are my own.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It’s a Wrap with Disney Princess

On Friday, I wrote about my shopping adventures in pursuit of Disney princess items. Cinderella has been re-released on Blu-Ray/DVD and there are a number of Cinderella items available at Walmart this season. Today, I embarked on an adventure to figure out how I would wrap them. You may recall I said I am donating the Mattel Cinderella Transforming Carriage and the Mattel Cinderella Magiclip Castle to a local charity that provides Christmas presents to local families in need. I really wanted to wrap the gifts up to make them special and to reflect the Cinderella theme. I started with the Transforming Carriage.


When I was at Walmart, I grabbed a bunch of things from the Fabric and Party departments as a plan started to form in my head. Below, clockwise from top: Cinderella Party Plates, Cinderella Table Cover, Cinderella Birthday Princess Ribbon Pin, Cinderella Ribbon (3 feet), shimmer ribbon.


When I was in the Fabric department, I got 2 yards of semi-sheer fabric, along with the Cinderella and shimmer ribbons. Walmart also has Disney Princess dresses, shoes and accessories. I decided to make a “Cinderella Suitcase” wrapping presentation. I wrapped the carriage box in two layers of the sheer fabric. I think it is fine that you can see Cinderella through the sheer fabric…You can’t see what the toy is and the wrapping is a pretty big clue as it is. I used the three yards of Cinderella ribbon and wrapped it around the box three times to make it look like luggage straps. In the center top I attached a Cinderella tiara and behind it a white beaded headband for the “handle”. I hung a white beaded princess necklace with crystal pendant around the tiara and another longer one around that. I pinned the Cinderella birthday princess pin on the left “strap” and removed the ribbons that say “birthday”. On the right “strap”, I tucked a fairy godmother wand and tied it with a sheer ribbon bow. I used two costume jewelry bangles on the lower right and left straps to complete the suitcase. Any princess needs good traveling shoes and we know Cinderella has shoe issues…So I put an extra pair for the little princess to slip on.


Next, I tackled the Cinderella Magiclip Castle.


When I was in the Party Supplies department at Walmart, I was keeping my eyes open for things that I could use for gift wrap. I saw the Cinderella Table Cover and immediately picked it up. I really liked the idea that it could be reused. I used the whole table cover even though it was much larger than needed for the present. I just folded it in half and in half again and folded the extra length in towards the box and taped it. I wrapped the sheer ribbon around the box in both directions and put a silver shimmer bow on. As a final glimmery touch, I attached a Disney Princess tiara onto the upper front corner.


I had a lot of fun shopping for and wrapping the Disney Princess items. I hope the little princess who receives these toys loves them as much as we do. I also hope that my wrapping post gave you some ideas for your holiday season wrapping challenges. I don’t consider myself to be particularly crafty. You don’t have to be crafty for this, you just have to look around the store and even your house with a different perspective. You will start to see the possibilities…And sometimes if you just start…It all comes together in a magical way.

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Disney Consumer Products, Inc #CBias #SocialFabric #DisneyPrincessWMT. All opinions and content are my own.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shopping for a Princess–Disney & Walmart

DVDAs my readers well know, I love Disney. Having kids makes Disney stuff all the more fun. Lulu is a true fan of Disney Princesses. She loves to dress up and play with a wide variety of Disney Princess toys. This past week I’ve been very involved in the world of Disney Princess products…Perfect timing for Christmas. The Disney Princess Augmented Reality App is available for Android and iPhone/iPad (free). I installed it on both my iPad and my Droid and checked it out with Lulu. There are three areas in the game: The Princess Boutique where you select your princess attire, The Carriage Shop where you design your carriage and The Royal Palace, your final destination for the Royal Ball. You can “unlock” additional features in the app at Walmart by scanning the QR code on the Disney PrincessIMAG0644 Displays and/or completing the full Royal Ball Dance in the app. Lulu has loved playing with the app. Her favorite feature is designing her Royal Ball outfit and then taking her picture—the app superimposes the dress, jewels and tiara on you. So cute. The app was released along with the re-release of Cinderella on Blu-Ray/DVD in October.

I headed out to Walmart to look for Disney Princess items and to buy some of them. I was looking for: Mattel Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle, Mattel Cinderella Transforming Carriage, Mattel Cinderella Magiclip Castle, Fisher-Price Little People Princess Palace, 16” Huffy Cinderella bike, 12” Huffy Princess bike, 12V Disney FJ Cruiser, 6V Disney Quad. I ended up visiting 3 Walmarts looking for the items. I highly recommend using the Walmart website to order and

choosing the “site to store” option which allows you to pick up your items without having to hunt around for them. has a really well done Disney page that is a great jumping off point for getting a grip on what Disney products are available in all departments. I had difficulty finding everything on my list. I eventually managed to find 6 of the 8 items. I decided to buy the Mattel Cinderella Magiclip Castle and the Mattel Cinderella Transforming Carriage. I really liked the castle because it has a lot of versatility. The age range is open ended (3+). The castle has 5 sections that allow for lots of imaginary play. To be honest, the Cinderella Transforming Carriage is something I would want, so that’s why I chose it. The ability to transform from a pumpkin to a carriage for Cinderella is so straight out of the story. I also think it pairs perfectly with the Magiclip Castle to create even more storylines.

I will be donating both of them to a local charity that provides Christmas gifts to local families in need. I have worked with this charity over the past several years and they do so much great work. One of their annual events is having a holiday party for children undergoing cancer treatment at our local county hospital. This party is really special as the kids’ parents and siblings are invited and everyone receives presents from Santa. Of course Lulu was intrigued by the Cinderella toys and “wanted” them. But when she heard who we were donating them to, she was totally on board. She and Chip have gone with me every year to volunteer and put together “santa sacks” of toys for the needy families. The whole family talked about the “little princess” who will receive the gifts. Of course, Santa knows Lulu loves the toys as well. He may very well come down the chimney with something from the above list…We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to see! I put together a Google+ Album of my Disney Princess Shopping Trip to the Walmarts.

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Disney Consumer Products, Inc #CBias #SocialFabric #DisneyPrincessWMT. All opinions and content are my own.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Power the Creativity with Energizer & Crayola

energi8866_Crayola_promo_bug_230x130r1I recently attended a fun event with Chip & Lulu hosted by Energizer & Crayola. I wasn’t really sure what the connection was between batteries and crayons, but I was game to attend. Because, honestly, if there are two categories of things I have a lot of in my house—it is batteries and crayons! We ended up having a great time and learning a lot about the latest offerings…And perfect timing for the holiday season.

Keeping a supply of “fresh” batteries on hand for emergencies is something that is on my “annual to do list” for our emergency supplies. I am involved in the emergency preparedness program at Chip’s elementary school. Part of our annual review is making sure we swap out the batteries in the walkie-talkies and flashlights. I snapped to attention when the Energizer representative told us about the Energizer Max Batteries with Power Seal Technology. These batteries have a 10 year shelf life! Now, I’ll just have to remember to rotate the stock…Once a decade! The event was full of kids and there were candles all over the place. I was kind of weirded out until I found out that these were battery operated candles. They looked like real wax pillar candles—they are even scented. Energizer Flameless Wax Candles have a natural flicker pattern that runs for 4 hours mimicking a real candle flicker pattern. The best part is that they go anywhere! I received two candles and Chip and Lulu could not wait to use them in their rooms. How funny that little kids can have wax candles in their rooms! I felt an urge to lecture the kids on stuff I didn’t get to have when I was a kid….But I just let them enjoy their candlelight.

Crayola has teamed up with Energizer to Power the Creativity. When you buy specially marked packs of Energizer MAX AA-16 and AAA-16 batteries, you will find coupons inside that will save you up to $20 on select Crayola products. We got to try out all of the products including the Light-Up Tracing Pad and Digital Light Designer which was my favorite.

For more information visit and find them on Facebook.

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Energizer. I attended an event and received a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All content is my own.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Day. Decisions. California.

voteTuesday is Election Day. It is a presidential election which means higher turnout. I vote in every election, big or small. I think about all the people who came before me who fought so hard so that I could spin over to the polls in my minivan, vote, slap an “I voted” sticker on my shirt and get on with my day. It’s something I take very seriously. Voting in person is something I like to do. It just “feels” more official to me and I like to bring the kids so they can experience the process. My parents always brought me.

Here are my thoughts on the people and propositions on my ballot:

President of the United States: I could spend 4 years and a whole blog on this one. Suffice to say, California is a blue state so it doesn’t matter. Obama is going to get all 55 electoral votes.

United States Senator: Elizabeth Emken

The simple fact that incumbent Dianne Feinstein has refused to debate Elizabeth Emken is enough for me to endorse Emken. Politicians work for the people. If a politician is arrogant enough to decide their seat is locked up for them and they don’t need to allow for an exchange of ideas, questions from constituents and important issues to be heard from all angles, then they are NOT someone who should be representing anyone. Because they are clearly out of touch and only care about themselves. Dianne Feinstein is arrogant. The kiss of death in a politician. Elizabeth Emken is a down to earth, working mom. She has a son with severe autism and began a second career as VP for Government Relations at Autism Speaks. She is smart, talented and knows what challenges we face both here in CA and in the US. Visit Elizabeth Emken’s site.

United States Representative: Bill Bloomfield

I thought I had gotten away from Henry Waxman when I moved from his district a few years ago. Thanks to some redistricting, I’m facing the possibility of having Henry Waxman be my congressperson…Again. No. No thank you. Where do I start? How about the simple fact that the man doesn’t even live in LA? He has a house outside Washington for decades. If that isn’t arrogance and being out of touch with the people you represent, I don’t know what is. Bill Bloomfield is an Independent. That’s right, he isn’t beholden to any party or special interest. He rejects hyper-partisanship and believes we need to focus on solving our nation’s problems. Bill Bloomfield and I see things in much the same way. This guy is my kind of candidate. Someone who is willing to step up and get things done and leave name calling, labels and destructive politicking behind. For more info, visit

Member of The State Assembly: Craig Huey

I like Craig Huey. He is a kind and personable individual. When I walked up to him after a town hall meeting, he was open and wanted to talk even though it was after 9pm and less than 2 weeks before election day. I figured the guy was tired, but I had questions. Contrast this with the two times I attempted to speak with Al Muratsuchi, Craig Huey’s opponent. I tried to ask a question in a forum where Mr. Muratsuchi only called on older men. I was the only young female in the audience. I followed him out of the room and tried to ask him questions, he was dismissive. On a more recent occasion, I ran into him at a civic event. I questioned him about questionable budget votes he had made as a school board member and filings made by a state inspector who said Mr. Muratsuchi ordered him to hide evidence as a state prosecutor. Al Muratsuchi didn’t want to talk about any of it. I guess his record is embarrassing to him. He has blocked myself and others from his Facebook page. When I asked him, in person, why he wasn’t answering questions and why he was blocking voters from his page, he responded, “It’s run by volunteers.” It’s clear that guy doesn’t care and he is out of touch. He has run a dirty campaign against Craig Huey sending out dozens of mailers with lies. Lies that have led to court actions. It’s disappointing that this could have been a great campaign where constituents isssues and questions could have been addressed by both candidates. Only Mr. Huey cares to communicate with voters. Craig Huey is committed to ending the special interest influence in Sacramento and bringing fiscal responsibility back into the vocabulary of our state. With a successful business career and track record as a job creator and business owner in Los Angeles, Craig Huey is uniquely qualified to serve all of us.

Los Angeles District Attorney: Alan Jackson

I don’t have a strong preference here as I believe Jackie Lacey to be a strong candidate. However, I think Alan Jackson has the edge. I am particularly impressed with his resume having spend five years as a prosecutor in the Hardcore Gang Division.

State Measures – ALL props and measures are now covered below. Thank you for your patience as I updated throughout the past couple of days.

Prop 30: No

Governor Brown is pushing Prop 30 hoping Californians believe it is the answer to our public education problems. The worst part of Prop 30 is there is absolutely no guarantee any money will get to schools. It is a “backfill” bill that is set up to “fill” in all the debt that Sacramento has created. They are holding our kids hostage as a means to solve their overspending and mishandling of the state’s funds. A response of “what about the trigger cuts?!” is what we often hear. The “trigger cuts” are cuts that are currently set up to go into effect for the state school budget if Prop 30 does not pass. The legislature can meet to cancel the trigger cuts. They had trigger cuts in place last year that they canceled when the Facebook IPO yielded less revenue than predicted. These trigger cuts that Governor Brown is threatening us with do not have to take effect. Beyond that, the CA Teacher’s Union, the most powerful union in the state will not stand for the cuts to their employees. The sales tax hike provision in prop 30 would make California’s sales tax the highest in the nation. Sales tax affects the poor disproportionately. It is absolutely imperative that we hold Sacramento responsible for cleaning up their own mess. Stop catering to special interests, make cuts in other areas and stand up to powerful lobbies. As a parent of children in CA public schools, I say enough is enough! NO on Prop 30!

Prop 31: No

Prop 32: Yes

Prohibits corporations and unions from taking money from worker’s paychecks for political fundraising without consent. I attended a meeting with Gloria Romero, the leader of Prop 32, speaking and taking questions from the audience. Yes on 32 to stop union interests in Sacramento is a good start to get CA back working for the people and not the special interests. As it is now, our politicians are employees of public labor unions. CA Teacher's Union has put $22 million into fighting prop 32. Can you just imagine what that money could do for the schools? Instead, they are fighting streamlining the process of getting teachers who are child molesters out of school districts. The CA Teacher's Union is the most powerful union in CA. It has more money than Big-oil and Big-Pharma. The union gets $300 million in dues from teachers...Without their choice of giving it or not. Then the union, run by thugs does everything they can to protect teachers OVER protecting students. You can't blame them, really, they are paid very highly to do their job. So a YES on 32 gets us to level the playing field of special interests owning the political process. Passing Prop 32 also means that contractors will not be able to donate to the political campaigns of politicians who approve their contracts. What a no brainer! Here is a link to a brief video supporting Yes on 32 and here is a link to Make a Change for California which has a really brief explanation on the main page about the Teachers Union putting politics ahead of students.

Prop 33: Yes

Prop 34: No

I feel very strongly that we need to keep the death penalty. We need to keep murderers and child rapists on death row. In my previous post on the sentencing of the murderer of Jamiel Shaw, I wrote of the irony that the man was given the death penalty on Friday and this Tuesday may no longer have that sentence. Jamiel Shaw was murdered by an illegal alien gang member because he carried a spider-man backpack. For everyone who has had their lives and their families torn apart…Let’s honor the living victims and their loved ones by keeping the death penalty in California.

Prop 35: Yes

I attended a meeting last week with the authors of Prop 35. It was one of the most intense experiences I’ve had in long time. Victims of human trafficking spoke to us about what happened to them and what they have been through. Parents of a victim of human trafficking, who, due to the twisted nature of our system, sits in prison, spoke to us about what their family has endured. It may seem like something that doesn’t involve us. Unfortunately it does, there are victims all around us, from families just like ours. In our state, many vulnerable women and children are held against their will and forced to sell their bodies. The traffickers often make $700,000 per year. Trafficking drugs requires an ongoing flow of narcotics. You can sell a human being over and over. The victims of human trafficking are girls as young as 12. The FBI has identified San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego as high intensity sex trafficking areas. Shockingly, CA is weak on laws to protect the victims. A yes vote on Prop 35 increases prison terms for human traffickers, requires traffickers to register as sex offenders, requires sex offenders to disclose their internet accounts and increases fines to pay for victims’ services.

Prop 36: No

Prop 37: No

This is very deceptive and written by a trial lawyer. Prop 37 authorizes shakedown lawsuits against farmers and grocers. If this measure passes, it means more government bureaucracy, which means increased costs for food. And who pays that? The consumer. The consumer bears the burden of the increased costs. The reality is that genetically modified foods are sometimes preferable to food that has been treated with pesticides. It is better to allow the consumer to dictate what they want and allow the marketplace to cater to customer demands. The analysis is that the average household grocery bill will increase by $400/year if this is passed.

Prop 38: No

Also knowns as “Molly Munger’s Intitiative”, Prop 38 is a bad choice for California. The income tax increases affect anyone earning over $7,000/year. That is pretty much anyone who works. If you earn more than $17,000/year, the initiative raises your rates by as much as 21%. And that is on top of federal income tax. The sales tax increase affects everyone who buys things. To top it off, the tax increases would be in place for twelve years…Even if the economy improves…Or gets worse. Why anyone would vote to lock ourselves into a revenue burden like that is unfathomable. The tax hikes also target small businesses, which is the heart of the economy. This will cause businesses to close or flee California along with the jobs. Prop 38 also does nothing to help higher education or any level of education in the first budget cycle. Like Prop 30, Prop 38 does nothing to address what is wrong with California. We need to make Sacramento accountable to the people to fix the budget and get their priorities straight. Taxing every one of us will only cause more economic distress and is throwing good money after bad. Fix the system, don’t enslave California citizens for the errors of our politicians! No on Prop 38!

Prop 39: No

Increased taxes on businesses mean increased taxes for the consumer. It also lead to lost jobs for California. Businesses don’t just absorb tax increases, it’s basic math and commonsense about how the world works. Californians are already the highest taxed people in the country. We cannot add to our burden.

Prop 40: No

Los Angeles County Measures

Measure A (Advisory Vote Only): I do not feel I know enough to say

Measure B: No

The Adult Entertainment Industry is already the most regulated in the state. Porn actors take blood tests every 14 days. The industry has proven it can regulate itself. A no vote is a must in order to keep the porn industry from going underground and therefore putting more people at risk. This would also cause a loss of jobs and revenue to Los Angeles when we have already experienced the flight of mainstream entertainment. There are thousands of regular people who work in the porn industry one day and mainstream another, just doing technical jobs like gaffers, grips, caterers. Why we would pass a measure that would cause lives to be endangered and jobs and revenue to be lost is just stupid. No on B!

Measure J: No

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Justice for Jamiel Andre Shaw II

Jamiels 001_thumb[1]Many of you are aware of my involvement with the fight for justice for the murder of Jamiel “Jas” Shaw II. Jamiel, age 17, was just a few yards from his home on March 2, 2008 when he was shot to death by an illegal alien gang member. He was shot to death because he was carrying a Spiderman backpack and because Spiderman wears red. I have rerun the post, with updates, each year on the anniversary of Jamiel’s death. This past Spring, I went to court and sat with Jamiel’s family at the trial of his murderer. I stood with them in the hall. I sat with them at lunch. I tried to will some of the pain away from them. The murderer was found guilty. On Friday, November 2, 2012, Four years and eight months to the date of Jamiel’s murder, justice was served. His murderer was sentenced to the death penalty. Justice has been served. Unbelievably, the murderer's death sentence may be overturned on Tuesday when Californians go to the polls and vote on Prop. 34, a measure to repeal the death penalty in this state.

The fight to protect American citizens from being murdered by illegal aliens continues. No one should have to go through what Jas’ family has been forced to go through. Here is a link to a report by Dave Lopez of CBS Los Angeles.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Los Angeles Central CityTarget Store

cityTargetI recently attended the preview event of the new CityTarget Store in downtown LA. I was particularly interested in checking out this new Target because it is designed for an urban shopper. Upon first glance, it looks like any Target store. On closer assessment, it is clear that it is a smaller store with a carefully edited inventory. I spoke with Carmen Moch, senior group vice president of Target stores, Los Angeles about the store and got some insider insight. They are focusing on trend in all departments, product packaging that makes items “urban shopper friendly” and free wifi. The free wifi is rolling out in CityTarget stores and will eventually be in all Targets. There is a Target App that has lots of convenient features, including a barcode scanner for getting prices…Something I definitely would appreciate having on my phone. If you have a Target Visa, you get free shipping on all items, no minimum. This applies to all shoppers but is something that I think would be of extra interest to an urban dweller who doesn’t have a car. Speaking of cars, and we know LA is all about cars, even in the city, there is ample parking at CityTarget. But, there is a spin on the parking situation. You can’t take your shopping cart out of the store. The problem is solved by CityTarget’s curbside pick-up program. Head to your car, pull up to their purchase pick-up area and everything you bought—from the pack of gum to the curtain rods—are loaded into your car, how convenient!

Downtown LA is attracting more and more residents, but the lack of shopping options have been an ongoing complaint. I asked Ms. Moch about the grocery options at the store knowing that supermarkets are a sore spot for downtown residents. She told me that there are a wide variety of grocery options that cater to the cook (fresh fruit and veggies) as well as the person who wants to pick up kitchen staples and frozen food. There is even a nice wine selection in the full liquor department. The preview party was attended by city politicians, media and bloggers. The USC Trojan Marching Band performed and paraded through the store, which was a highlight for me. Bullseye the Target do was there for photo opps. Overall, I think this CityTarget is a nice option for workers running in during lunch or after work as well as local residents.
CityTarget officially opened on October 14th and is located in the FIGat7th Shopping Center, 735 S. Figueroa St. Los Angeles. Parking entrances are on 7th and 8th.

Wordless Wednesday 10/17/2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland - Giveaway

In my Friday post, I told you we were on our way to Mickey’s Halloween Party. We had such a great time and I hope everyone will get a chance to experience Disneyland at Halloween. I have fun news: one of my readers and their guest will get to party with Mickey next week! I’m thrilled to announce that Disneyland has given me two (2) tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party on Tuesday, October 9 to give away to one of my readers! The party starts at 6:00pm which means you can enter Disneyland Park to play starting at 3:00pm. The tickets are $54.00 each and include parking for a total prize value of $123.00. All you have to do is enter below! (one entry per person)
Some of my favorite blogging friends are giving away tickets too! Check out the Mickey's Halloween Party Giveaways board over on Pinterest to find more places to enter!

Photo credit: Three photos in album are courtesy of Caryn Bailey of

Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. I received complimentary tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party for review purposes. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to Lynn T. for winning the two tickets for her entry #60 following @Disneyland on Twitter! Thank you to everyone who entered!
Giveaway open to US Residents only. Duplicate entries, entries and comments not following the above guidelines will be disqualified. For the "leave a comment" entry, you must either leave your e-mail address in your comment or login with your Google ID. Winner must respond by noon PST October 5 or a second winner will be chosen. I reserve the right to change the contest rules.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland - 2012

MHP_with_Mickey__MinnieTonight we are off to party at Disneyland! This year, Mickey’s Halloween Party started earlier than previous years allowing for more chances for more people to get in on the fun! As in previous years, Disneyland Resort guests will join Mickey Mouse and the Disney villains for some treats and family fun at Halloween Time. The Celebration started Friday, Sept. 14 and will continue at Disneyland Park on 11 special Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights until Halloween. This is a separate-ticket event and tickets are available at The fun gets even spookier this year with the new Disney's Halloween Time Carnival featuring "The Astounding Cauldron of Magic" at Big Thunder Ranch, plus new pirate makeovers at Pirates League and, at Disney California Adventure Park, "The Art of Frankenweenie" exhibit with a peek behind the scenes of Tim Burton's new film which opens in theaters on October 5. Nearly all of the favorite Disneyland rides and attractions will be open so you can jump on something in between your trick or treating.

A really great feature of the party is the opportunity to "mix in" with regular Disneyland guests for three hours prior to the start of Mickey's private bash. To use us as an example, today, we will arrive at 4:00pm for the 7:00pm party. The party starts at different times depending on the date, so make sure you check before you go. I always make sure we have a good spot for "Halloween Screams" fireworks spectacular, hosted by "Master of Scare-omonies" Jack Skellington and only for guests of Mickey's Halloween Party. It’s really fun to see those mischievous Disney villains who you don’t usually see as much in the park other times of the year. For Halloween, they are plotting to take over Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A.

Big Thunder Ranch is my favorite spot in Disneyland. I’m really looking forward to, Disney's Halloween Time Carnival which is new this year.  A highlight of the Halloween Time Carnival can be found inside a mysterious sideshow tent where guests are invited to help conjure one of the Disney villains - Maleficent, Jafar, Cruella, Captain Hook or the Evil Queen from "Snow White" - with a magic spell in "The Astounding Cauldron of Magic." When the villain appears, guests may join him or her to pose for photos. As in past years, visitors to Big Thunder Ranch also will find ranch animals, pumpkin carvers, Halloween décor and activities for youngsters. Please, don’t worry, fan favorites Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy are back again this year and I’m looking forward to Chip and Lulu being big enough to go on Ghost Galaxy.

At Pirates League in New Orleans Square, guests age three and up can live their pirate dreams and learn the ways of the seven seas by choosing one of three pirate transformation options: Jake and the Never Land Pirates, First Mate and Empress (created especially for all the pirate princesses). Pirates League is at Disneyland for a limited time only this fall. For Pirates League reservations call (714) 781-STYLE/(714) 781-7895.

What you need to know: The after-hours Mickey's Halloween Party is offered as a separate-ticket event on these nights: Sept. 28 and Oct. 2, 5, 9, 12, 15, 19, 23, 26, 29 and 31. This is the only time adults are allowed to dress up in costume. Kids and adults can trick-or-treat (candy and healthy treats). Be sure to get your tickets early as many nights sell out.

Tickets purchased in advance for Mickey's Halloween Party are $54 most days, while tickets purchased on the event days are $64. All tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party on Monday, Oct. 29, and Halloween Night, Wednesday, Oct. 31, are $69.

For more information about Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort, see This site will be updated with frightfully fun details.

Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to Mickey's Halloween Party for review purposes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Elmo, Sesame Street and me

ElmoLizThere are only a few things I’ll drop everything for. Meeting Elmo is one of them. Sesame Street is my show from my childhood. These kids today have way too much choice when it comes to tv shows. Chip and Lulu? Sure, they like Sesame Street…But not like I like Sesame Street. So the e-mail came in saying that Elmo would be hanging in an hip restaurant inside a hip Hollywood hotel and “would you like to interview him? Oh, and feel free to bring your kids.” Here is where I need to explain the complete awesomeness of this invitation. Me and Elmo, one on one and the kids can come too. Back when I was in the Sesame Street demographic, living outside Boston, the closest I ever got to this was when the human Sesame Street characters would make public appearances at places like malls. For example, I got to see Gordon at The Northshore Shopping Center in Peabody, MA. I was in the front row with my younger brother and Gordon came up and asked him a question. My brother froze. I whispered the answer and he said it. I spoke to Gordon via my brother while sitting on the floor of a mall in the 1970’s with hundreds of other kids. Now, a personal invitation to meet with Elmo. If I could have told my six year old self to just hold on…

I’ve had some great opportunities with Sesame Street. In honor of the 40th Anniversary in 2009, I was invited to meet with Caroll Spinney who plays Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird and Fran Brill who plays Zoe and Prairie Dawn. Henson Studios, founded by Jim Henson, who created the Muppets has invited me on several occasions and I’ve had the opportunity to meet two of Jim’s five kids, Lisa and Brian. They were both amazing to meet and told fun stories of growing up going to Sesame Street. Imagine that. How totally cool.

A couple of days ago, I picked the kids up straight from school and pointed the minivan towards Hollywood. It was kind of funny when we walked into the restaurant and I asked the girl at the host stand if she knew where Elmo was. She looked at me confused. I said, “red, puppet. Elmo?” A nice man sitting nearby said, “He’s in there.” And pointed to a private dining room. How awesome! One of his people stepped out and showed us in. There we were, sitting with Elmo talking about the latest happenings on Sesame Street. Elmo was fun, enthusiastic and being that he is 3 1/2, he got along especially well with Lulu. In fact, Lulu kind of took over the interview! Here is what we learned: The 43rd season of Sesame Street premieres today on PBS. One of the biggest changes this season has to do with “Elmo’s World” which has been the show closing segment. This season kicks off “Elmo The Musical,” which is replacing “Elmo’s World” after 13

Elmo The Musical new for the 43rd season of Sesame Street
years. In each skit, Elmo will use his imagination to make math musical - singing, dancing and taking kids along with him on fun-filled interactive adventures. Some of the adventures coming up this season include Elmo imagining himself in “Sea Captain the Musical,” “Mountain Climber the Musical,” “Prince Elmo the Musical” and “President the Musical.” The math component builds on the STEAM curriculum that Sesame Street integrated into the show last season. STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math and all figures into getting preschoolers to think artistically and critically. I personally think this is really great. Critical thinking is so important and something I have felt to be lacking in education.Elmo musical

As usual, there will be many celebrities this season, including Charlize Theron, Maya Rudolph, Steve Carell and Don Cheadle. Elmo told me that he is really excited that the band Train and rapper Common will be visiting Sesame Street this season too. There will also be muppet spoofs giving nods to popular shows. We can look forward to “Birdwalk Empire” and “Upside Downtown Abbey.”

Elmo gave Chip and Lulu some goodies from the Sesame Street Store. The store is a great place to look for Sesame merchandise that you don’t really see anywhere else. There are plenty of things for grown ups, the iPad cases, watches, reusable tote bags and coffee mugs are some of my favorites.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

ScholarShare–California’s 529 College Savings Plan

imageSaving for college can seem insurmountable, especially if you have multiple children. I get it. In fact, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that college tuition rose 439% between 1985 and 2005. Tuition for my college has more than doubled since I graduated…If that trend continues, it should cost roughly 5 times more for my kids to attend my dear alma mater. Nowadays, it feels like saving for anything is tough to do. I know. Although it “feels” easier to just put college savings “off”, I’m here to tell you that it’s not easiest in the long run. Here is why: The earlier you start saving for college, the more time the money has to grow. Time is your friend when it comes to investing. There are various ways to save for college and I recommend you do your homework to find out what method is best for you and your family. In this post, I’m going to let you know about California’s 529 College Savings Plan, ScholarShare, managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc. There have been a number of changes to the plan making it more attractive than in past years. If you looked into the California 529 in the past, I recommend you give it a second For those who are unfamiliar with the state 529 plans, you are allowed to participate in any state’s plan. Since I have readers from all over the country, I’m pleased to be writing about something in which all of you can participate.

September is College Savings Month and the perfect time to start contribution to a 529. One of the biggest benefits of using a 529 plan is that all the money (contributions and earnings) is tax free when withdrawn to pay for qualified education expenses. The Scholarshare website, has lots of information about how their plan operates, how to plan for college savings and how to open an account. Features of ScholarShare that I like are: the choice of nineteen investment portfolios for your account, accounts can be opened with as little as $25 and ongoing contributions can be as low as $25 (that’s less than a dollar per day!), low plan fees which means your account gets to keep more of your money, extensive customer service support online, by telephone and in three office locations in California. I love a mobile app! ScholarShare has an Android App called Saving4College and there is one for iPhone coming soon. The recent changes that have been made to the ScholarShare program have raised their Morningstar rating from “average” to “above average”.

How about some free money to kick off your college savings efforts? In celebration of College Savings Month, ScholarShare is running a Facebook contest two winners will receive $1,529 to open a new ScholarShare account or contribute to an existing one.  Just “LIKE” their page and then share your college savings story – could be about yourself, saving for your child’s education, savings tips you might have, anything about saving. Simply go to ScholarShare’s Facebook page and click on the Share Your Story Tab to enter. Entries must be submitted by 9/26/12.

Some other great aspects of saving for higher education via a 529 plan are: If your child receives a scholarship, you can withdraw an amount equal to the scholarship amount without penalty or tax. Account funds can be used for educational expenses other than tuition such as books, room & board, supplies and equipment. Account funds can be transferred to be used for educational expenses of other family members. An account is owned by the person who opened it, the beneficiary is not the account owner, therefore, allowing the owner to have control of the account. Only thirteen states do not give taxpayers a deduction for contributing to a 529 plan. Unfortunately, California is one of them. I really wish California would add this incentive to encourage college savings. Maybe if enough of us trying to save for college bring this to the attention of our state legislators, it will get on their agenda. I have already contacted my representatives in Sacramento and I hope my readers in CA will do the same!

If I leave you with nothing else about college savings after you read this post, let it be this: Start saving, even a little bit, but start saving now!

Disclosure: I attended a dinner with ScholarShare and TIAA-CREF where I learned more about The California 529 Plan. I am being compensated for this post. The content is my own.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Getting to Learn All About Teacher

apple teacherIn nursery school, we didn’t have official room parents and I frequently found myself stepping up to handle Christmas and end of year class gifts. Being someone who tries to give relevant and useful gifts, I tended to ask the teachers and aides what their favorite stores and restaurants were. We would put together gift bags with some swag and give everyone gift cards to a few of their favorite places.

Early in my teacher gifting career, I even asked at the school office as to whether they had a lists of the teachers “favorite things” or “wish list”. The nursery school director said, “that would be a great idea! But, no, we don’t.” Recently, I read a post over at my friend Jen’s blog, Tiny Oranges, about putting together a questionnaire for your child’s teacher to fill out at the beginning of each school year. What a great idea! With all the events that may come up, holidays and teacher appreciation day come to mind, it makes life easier to just refer to the questionnaire. If you have a room parent, they could give it to the teacher and then share it with all the parents. Just think, we could save so many teachers the pain of receiving ANOTHER red ceramic apple that says “#1 Teacher” on it and, instead, get them a gift card to their favorite sporting goods store. Let’s band together to share the questionnaire! I wrote my own questionnaire that I will give to Lulu’s nursery school teacher. Feel free to use it for your kids’ teachers. Have a great school year!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back to School at Del Amo Fashion Center

del amo 3Back to school shopping has always been mostly a non-event to me. Unless you had a massive growth spurt over the summer, your clothes still fit. Plus, as my mother always said, “wait to see what everyone is wearing first.” As of today, it seems like everyone of school age in my orbit is back to school. Summer is “over” and the mindset is shifting. I never underestimate the psychological momentum to be gained by having something brand new to kick off the start of an academic year. The Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, CA is one of several malls in the Los Angeles area. It’s one of my favorites because it is so big and has so much to offer. I run to this mall all year long for things my kids need. Here is my rundown of some of my favorite stores this year for back to school.

Starting at the south side, Sears is where I go for kids Land’s End shoes, clothing and outerwear. The Land’s Enddel amo department is located on the main level. Down the escalator is the children’s department which is a good source for licensed products like superhero sweatshirts and cartoon character undies. Heading north in the mall, is the Vans store, famous for their uber-popular slip on sneakers…A good way to get around having to tie laces! Continuing along the first floor, there is an elevator and escalator to transition up to the second floor.

This level is where the majority of stores are found and is a good access point for Macy’s. At about the midpoint of this level, we find the food court. I love the lemonade at Hot-Dog-on-a-Stick and the chicken strips at Chick-fil-a. Here is also where the mall makes a left and a right turn in short order. Around the second corner we have Build-a-Bear Workshop which always has something new to commemorate any occasion and just past that, The Disney Store. Disney is a fun place to pick up themed lunch totes and water bottles. At the end of the hall is a large Old Navy. Here I keep an eye out for boys shorts and underwear and girls leggings and tank tops. Old Navy is also a great destination for school uniforms as well as trends you don’t want to “invest” in because you think the trend will be over by Halloween. For example, brightly colored denim is a major trend this Fall. My son found a pair of green jeans, although “full price” they were still only $19.50. Turning the corner to the right, you have Stride Rite for kid’s shoes on the right and further down, also on the right, is H & M kids. I seem to always find fun girls’ socks and tights here. H & M is one of the best choices for keeping up with fashion trends. They have inexpensive accessories like neon colored hair clips.

del amo 2Just past H & M is a set of glass doors leading to the newest part of Del Amo, the two-story outdoor Promenade. Here I recommend two of my lifelong favorite stores, Marshalls and TJ Maxx! You never know what you’ll find at these places but the treasure hunt for the deal is so much fun. I tend to score shoes for kids at Marshalls with great regularity as well as team logo baseball caps, shirts and sweatshirts at both stores. Also located out here is GapKids/BabyGap (combo store) which is a great source for all kids’ basics. Some items I like here for boys are: khakis, cargoes, polos and light jackets. For girls: casual cotton dresses, yoga pants, fleece tops and long sleeve t-shirts. Finally, Skechers is a family favorite for footwear.

Having covered the whole mall, everyone is probably ready for a break and something to eat. Del Amo has many restaurants to choose from. I recommend Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ and applaud them for their spacious booths, kid’s menu and biscuits. Out in the Promenade, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse with a menu that has something for everyone, Stacked where kids have a blast ordering from the table’s iPads and Lazy Dog Café which offers a vast kid’s menu with lots of healthy choices and a fun outdoor patio with fireplaces.

Info & disclosure: The Del Amo Mall is located at 3525 Carson St., Torrance, CA 90503 at the intersection of Hawthorne Blvd. and Carson St. Exit the 405 freeway at Hawthorne Blvd. Barnes & Noble bookstore and Crate & Barrel are located on the mall property along Hawthorne Blvd. Get connected via:, and To facilitate my review, I was provided at $50 Simon Malls Giftcard. All content and opinion is my own.