Saturday, December 22, 2012

Modern Day Treasure Hunt- Geocaching | @GoGeocaching

Who doesn't like treasure?

When I was a kid, I used to make up pretend treasure maps and search for buried treasure! When I went out onto boats I could picture myself as a pirate looking for sunken treasure.

There is something about the thrill of a hunt to find something hidden that gets your blood pumping and heart racing. Especially if you are trying to not get caught doing it!

There is a way that millions of people participate in treasure hunts every day!

In the year 2000, the government made available satellite capabilities to pinpoint people and objects using GPS technology to the average person. A few individuals decided to test the new technology by placing a container with hidden objects in it within a forest nearby. He posted the coordinates on a GPS users group. Soon after a member of the group went out and located it. Inspired by this new game, he placed one of his own. In each of the containers, there was a log sheet to sign and small prizes for the finders and the "GPS Stash Hunt" was born. Every time someone found a hidden item, they would post it on the Internet and hide another of their own. The GPS coordinates we're compiled into a large data base that has grown to almost 2 million containers around the world! Over 5 million people play this game now called "GeoCaching".

"Geo" meaning Earth and "Cache" meaning hidden item. The containers come in all different sizes and shapes. A "micro cache" can be as small as the end of your pencil eraser and can be as large as anything imaginable. There are different types of caches that are hidden in plain view of anyone but is hidden so that it doesn't get removed by "muggles" or people not playing the game. The containers are camouflaged to look like the area it is hidden in.

An example of one in a remote desert area would be a "ammo can"  with a pile of rocks on top. If someone sees a piles of rocks in the city, people might wonder about it and investigate it. "Urban caches" are caches that have to blend in and become one with its environment in form of a fake rock, sprinkler head, or even a birds nest! There are more difficult caches such as ones you have to swim/SCUBA dive to or hike a mountain or easy ones that are at your local grocery store! Each hidden geocache has a difficulty and size rating to help you prepare you for what you need to locate it.

 A description helps you get an idea of what to look for but often, there is a hint if you are stuck. Once you find the container, sign the log, if you see an item in the container you would like to keep, replace the item with something of your own for the next person. Replace the container exactly the way you found it and look for the next one.

To start your treasure hunt, first go to "", download the Geocaching iphone app and sign up. You choose a "user name" to sign on the log sheets and use either your GPS or Smartphone to do a search from your location.  If you need help choosing the right GPS you might want to check out here. You will be surprised at how many hidden containers you have been walking by and never knew about them.

I am warning you, Geocaching is VERY addictive and you will get frustrated at not being able to find some well hidden containers until you get some experience. Geocaching is great for families because it is a treasure hunt that brings out the kids in all of us. It also brings people to areas of interest that they may not have been aware of before. My family and I have found over 300 geocaches in Hawaii, California, Nevada, and Mexico! we even looked for geocaches on our honeymoon and on cruises! We have hidden about 20 geocaches of our own and have created 4 "trackable" items that travel from geocache to geocache around the world! One of our "trackables" made it all the way to Australia!

When you are Geocaching, you might encounter a language of acronyms that you haven't encountered before.  This easy glossary might help. 

If you are ready to try something new and have a treasure hunt, check it out today!

We have enjoyed spending many hours making memories and getting quality family time. It is my hope that more people can discover the fun of this new game and hide more treasures for us to find!

Santa's Wonderland- A Review


Who doesn't love seeing the happy faces on our children's faces? The wondrous looks they get when they think of that magical creature called Santa Claus?

Today my children and their friend had the chance to see Santa's Wonderland, up close and personal!  We drove to Irvine where the Jolly Elves had set up shop to share with their many fans.

In an industrial area of Irvine, nestled a large warehouse with colorful signs noting that we were indeed at Santa's Wonderland! We were greeted by our own special Elf to guide us through the maze of wonders that was our destination for the afternoon.  Colorful Christmas tree's adorned the lobby and we could hear Santa in the next room. 

We were led through the warehouse which had been set up to resemble the North Pole.  In each room lay a new activity and wonder for our children.  We started in the control room where all of Santa's activities on his special night were followed.  The large map showed the kids just how much distance the trip covered. 

In the following rooms, the kids assisted in quality control for toys, toy testing, and even making special reindeer food to keep them going on their big night! The children also got to try their hand at wrapping gifts! 

The next room was a very important room for the children.   It was the Mail Room!  This is where all of their holiday wishes might come true.  The children received special Santa Letter paper where the elves assisted in helping them write their special requests.  When they were done, they dropped off their specially postmarked letters into Santa's own mailbox. The kids were very excited!

Would the children receive the presents they asked for? In the next room the kids were interrogated about whether they had been Naughty of Nice by a head elf.  After assuring the elf that they had been good, they received their certificate of the Good List and was ready to move on to the Elf Academy.  For a fee of $10-25 the kids could get dressed up and facepainted just like their elf friends!

Reindeer games are a favorite area where the kids get to burn off a little energy playing a variety of games from golf, darts and bowling to an obstacle course meant to increase their rooftop stamina.

Large benches and candy filled the next area.  It was time to decorate gingerbread cookies!  The cookies were colorful and tasty and were no extra charge.  Even my friend and I decorated. 

We could hear laughter coming from the room behind us, so we investigated.  It was "SNOW"! There was a room dedicated to playing in the snow, indoors.  Who doesn't love having a good old fashioned snowball fight or making snow angels?  While the snow wasn't cold, it was a little damp and messy.  The kids spent a good half hour playing with their elf friend and others in the snow before looking for the big man himself.

We were all excited to see Santa and tell him in person which gifts that we would like.  Santa was very friendly and took his time to get great holiday photos for us parents.  The elf helper even took a photo to give to us for a free gift!

The kids were getting a little hungry so we took a break and ate our cookies while the kids took turns driving Santa's Sleigh.  We enjoyed watching the kids roam around playing with the other kids and called it a day. 

We really enjoyed how much the kids enjoyed each room/area.  It was simply created and the kids loved it. 

 I recommend this place for kids up to 7 years old.  The older the child, the more detail they like.  While it was adorable and the kids loved it, I don't think the older kids would see the "magic" in it.

The people were super helpful and very nice.  It was fun to let the
kids run around with the elves while we enjoyed from the sidelines.                                         

Comfortable, Environmental Friendly, Luxury Beds!


Have you been looking to buy a new bed but there are SO many options and prices out there?  If you are looking for a environmental friendly bed with all the comfort of luxury, look no further!

You aren¹t dreaming (at least not yet)! Hästens' annual floor model sale begins December 27th. Hästens is offering their showroom beds; and offering existing ones for extraordinary prices. Hästens makes beds like no other ­ by hand in Sweden, using pure natural materials.



The vision of giving the world the best sleep, and therefore the best bed, allows for no shortcuts. We use only the finest natural materials in our beds. Sustainably resourced horsehair, cotton, wool, flax, Swedish pine and steel provide the ultimate in comfort, support, quality and durability. For our efforts in environmental sustainability, Hästens is exclusive among bed manufacturers by being the very first to have our beds awarded Swedish Swan environmental certification.

In a Hästens bed:
    - you fall asleep faster with a higher quality of sleep.
    - you add years to your life, 8 hours at a time.
 The Hästens CA locations are below!

Beverly Hills
8827 Beverly Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048                     
Santa Barbara   
909 De La Vina Street 300
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
San Jose
300 Santana Row, Suite #2005
San Jose, CA 95128

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Santa's Wonderland in Irvine! GIVEAWAY!!!

Have  you checked out Irvine's newest Santa's  Wonderland?


It is an indoor 23,000 sqft two story building of fun located in Irvine! It has Reindeer Games, Santa's Office, giftwrapping area, gingerbread cookie station, "snow" play area and much more!

You even get to write your letter to Santa and mail it in the mail room after getting a picture with him! There is an Elf Academy where your children can be made up to be honorary elves!

You can buy special discounted tickets by using the Code MOMS10OFF!

You could PAY to get into this fun new adventure or you could WIN tickets by entering the Giveaway below!

Pictures courtesy of Jennifer W. of Toddler Trails

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A great new Holiday tradition! CHILL! A Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

Tonight, my family and friends had the pleasure to enjoy the new holiday tradition at the Queen Mary, CHILL. The whole area was beautifully decorated with
candy and nautical decor.

There was a cute maze of candy and snowmen that the children could run through as we strolled in, that gave a wintery feel to a southern California day. As we walked further into the outside pavilion, the wonderful smell of sausages and pizza overwhelmed us! It made our mouths water but we wanted to check everything out first before we gave in to our appetites.

Just past the food vendors lay the outdoor ice rink. It was a good size rink but was closed due to the rain that had taken place all weekend. We would check it out later, before we left.

In front of us was the historical dome that once housed the Spruce Goose! It was an incredibly large hanger that held many wonders of the holidays. As we walked in, we were greeted by a large ice slide that we inter-tubed down. Fun was had by all! The children begged for more as they were seeing who could slide all the way to the end and bump into the pads. When it came time for us adults to have a try, the kids got sulky! They wanted to slide some more but their turns were up. We hauled our inter tubes up the stairs and slid down like we were kids again! It was just as much fun as it looked!

We saved three rides for the kids to end the day with and continued to explore the large dome. There were several stores that held an assortment of holiday decorations and served coffee and sweet treats. One of the stores held a Gingerbread making station while Santa looked on from across the room. Santa and Mrs. Claus were as kind as could be but one of our little ones seemed to have a guilty conscience and refused to go near.

As we pressed on, the air started get chilly! We walked through an archway where we were greeted and handed large blue parkas! How cold was it going to get? 12 degrees!!! Yes, you read that correctly! We knew it would be cold since the area we were about to enter held ice sculptures but we really had no clue how cold 12 degrees was! I highly recommend bringing snow hats, scarves and gloves!

As we entered this frozen wonderland, we were astounded by the artistic beauty that was created in ice! A whole Santa's Toyland was created with the stunning colors of classical toys never forgotten.

A frozen castle stood guard over a Unicorn pulling a carriage while a penguin paradise greeted us as we walked into the amazing Queen Mary room!

A ship with Queen Mary's likeness took up the majority of this large space. Next to it was a small ice slide where the children could slide down through a whales mouth! For the more adventurous, a large ice slide stood tall over the stern of the ship which deposited them on a path that guided them into the most wondrous scenes of them all.

The Nativity Room depicted the birth of Christ in the manger while the animals and wise men looked upon him. It was a magical room where despite the bitter cold, one could feel at peace.

About 20 minutes later, we could endure the cold no more and returned to the what felt like a stifling 65 degree external pavilion. We warmed up with steaming cups of hot chocolate and coffee. We had explored for about 2 1/2 hours and the kids were getting hungry and tired.  They had school 
the next day and we had to go home.   

We were unable to try the yummy smelling pizza and sausages due to time restraints but enjoyed the smell as we walked back out through the Candy Lane maze. We had enjoyed our time exploring the many rooms of the Ice Kingdom and the lights and decorations really put us in the holiday mood. I would have to say as amazing as the ice sculptures were, everyone's favorite of the day were the Ice Tubing and the internal ice slides.

While we had a great time enjoying the beautiful frozen art, I cannot stress enough about bringing your own snow gloves and scarves at the very least while attending the Ice Kingdom! My fingers were painfully cold in the 12 degree air, especially while taking pictures. There were so many great opportunities for holiday photo ops and I am having a have a hard time choosing which one I like best!

There were no carolers singing at the time we went, from 3-6pm so I would recommend checking the times for the performances ahead of time so that you don't miss them. The ice rink had reopened by the time we were ready to leave but unfortunately, we ran out of time. We did stop and enjoy the skaters in the holiday lit arena that stood in front of the brightly lit Queen Mary. 

We will make a point in making more time to see and do more on our next outing to CHILL at The Queen Mary!

Now that I have given you a glimpse into the Ice Kingdom at The Queen Mary, I would like to give you a chance to win tickets to see it yourself!

Enter my giveaway drawing for a chance at winning 2 free tickets to see CHILL at The Queen Mary!

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