Friday, January 31, 2014

Build-A-Bear Grand Opening in Torrance | @BuildaBear @SimonMalls #Torrance

Last week, my daughter and I attended the grand re-opening of the new Build-A-Bear store at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance.  We had never been to one of their stores but we had heard plenty about how cute the bears were.

Build-A-Bear and Make A Wish Foundation had teamed up to give to children who needed that extra hug in their less than ideal lives.  Being a child is hard enough and when they are fighting poverty, illness, family disruption and more, sometimes all they need is a hug to make things better.

We arrived to find Bearamy, the Build-A-Bear mascot greeting the young children that arrived to help create those hugs for children they had never met.  A balloon artist kept the children occupied as they made their rounds around the store creating their masterpieces.

The first station that we were guided to was choosing which animal/character to make.  These are fur shells that would be filled with love and personality for the children.

The Love Me station gives the children a chance to put personality into their bear by using the attributes that show specific personalities they like with an adorable red heart to place inside your bear.

If you wanted to make your animal especially unique, you could go to the "Hear Me" station which allows you to personalize your bear with music, sayings or love messages.  We chose "I love you Aunty Andrea" for my sister who was in a car accident 5 years ago and was getting Confirmed that very day.

The "Stuff Me" station was manned by employees that help you give that extra love to your bear with hugs.  Here, you are asked to give hugs to get the exact softness for ultimate hugging.  This is where the heart and voice box is entered with extra hugs.

My daughters favorite station was the "Fluff Me" station which electronically read the bear and allow the creator to "bathe" their new friend with electronic bubbles and water.  The station is actually bath tub shaped and their imagination runs wild.

The "Name Me" station is a computer where you can name your bear, enter in your name and address in case it is ever lost, and print out their birth certificate.

You would think that your bear is done since it looks like a bear but NO!  There is one more "station" which is actually the rest of the store.  The accessories.  This is what puts Build-A-Bear in a category of its own.  Anything that you would like your bear to represent.  Whether it is a special Disney costume, religious ceremony, Valentines day gift, or more, Build-A-Bear has it.


Today, we chose a Confirmation outfit for my sister which included a beautiful white dress, veil and cross.

When we were done making our bears(and Bunny for my sister) we gave one last hug to the little white bear that we had made for the Make A Wish Foundation and added it to the growing pile of love.

I loved sharing my first experience at Build-A-Bear with my daughter.  It helped me teach her about giving love to others and I think that is one of the most important lessons I could teach her.

My sister loved her Confirmation bunny and had a beautiful ceremony that included her new friend.

Build-A-Bear Workshop 
(Del Amo Fashion Center)
3525 W Carson St # 15 
Torrance, CA 90503

DISCLAIMER:  I was given a gift card to purchase a bear for my daughter.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photos without permission.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Day With Cloudy 2: Now Out On DVD/Blu-Ray | @CloudyMovie #Cloudy2

With the release of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 yesterday, my family and other media were invited to Sony Animation Pictures Studio for  a sneak preview of the bonus material that is found on the discs.  

The bonus material included four short animated films that tied in with the film:  Super Manny, Earl Scouts, Steve's First Bath, and Attack of the 50-Foot Gummi Bear.  These shorts were made with a variety of computer-generated wraparound animation and hand-drawn animation directed by David Feiss. 

While we were treated to a meeting with the creators, the children were treated to creating "Foodimals".  Learning that they can eat healthy and have fun too!  Using their imaginations, the kids learned to create characters with their everyday food.  


The kids were also taught the basics on how to draw characters from the movie.

When we emerged from our meeting, we were given a lunch that we will not soon forget!  Spaghetti pizza, grilled PB&J, hip"potato"muses, and more.  

Such cute ideas for a Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 themed birthday party!

We even had a special appearance from Barry and one of the Cucumbers!

Additional to a yummy and healthy feast, we learned more about the process about how the movie came to fruition. There were 30 effects animators on Pete Traver's crew supervised by Theo Vandernoot and paired with the animation lead by Joesph Cavenaugh.  It was especially difficult for them as they created the movie in ways that you would only see in live action films.

"People think effects in an animated film can’t be that hard because it’s a cartoon, but what our crew did was really hard,” Travers says. “At the epicenter was fluid simulation. Cloudy 2 takes place in a big world, so the simulations had to vary. And, we couldn’t shortchange anything – we really had to run full simulations.”

I hadn't realized that while they were promoting the film, Sony Pictures Animation partnered with produce companies and gave over 200,000 pounds of produce to Feeding America, a non-profit that helps feed children and families in need.  I love when large organizations help out those less fortunate especially in the battle to get those in need, healthy food instead of the cheaper food.
We had fun at the studio learning about the intricate process of making a complicated movie such as Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 and I  hope we get to visit again soon for their upcoming projects.

DISCLAIMER:  We were invited to a media day at Sony Animation Pictures Studio.  We were given lunch and swag in exchange for helping promote the movie.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photo's without permission.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Lean Turkey at Del Taco | @DelTaco #Giveaway #LetsTalkTurkey #ad

My family tries to eat at home whenever we can because it is the healthiest option. Like any normal on-the-go family, that is not always possible. What choices do we have? My kids have busy sports, scouts and school schedules that leave little time for sit down meals every day.

I keep hoping that the fast food chains will get the idea that in this new day of health conscience parents and everyday people, a change is needed.

I was approached to try out Del Taco's new line of Turkey Tacos which is part of their new "Unfreshing believable" campaign. Del Taco is the first Mexican fast food chain to offer a leaner protein option than the traditional higher fat, beef, Del Taco seems to be heading in the right direction.

On January 2, Del Taco offered up their new 33% less fat Turkey Tacos, that have the same yummy flavor that their traditional beef tacos. Each Taco has only 150 calories! Additional to the tacos, they are also offering a Turkey CrunchTada Tostada which is a part of their popular CrunchTada menu.

You can choose either corn or flour tortillas for these new lean Turkey Tacos for only $1.29. If you want to make a meal out of them, the $5 Turkey Taco Meal includes:
  • 2 Turkey Tacos
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Lettuce 
  • Pico de gallo
  • Chips with pico de gallo salsa 
How many calories? Only 430 when you get a diet drink or less with iced tea.

I ordered myself the turkey Crunchtada and two turkey tacos.  The turkey within both tasted just like beef with the seasoning and If i hadn't known better, I could have sworn it was beef.  I think the key was the salsa that they put on them.  It gives the food a lot of flavor and you don't feel like you are missing out on anything except calories.

To find out the full nutritional value of their menu, visit Del Taco at

Check out here for the nearest location to you.

Follow on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram, and Pinterest for new menu items and special promotional discounts.


DISCLAIMER:  I was given a gift card to try out the new turkey tacos for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  All pictures are used with permission.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cloudy 2: DVD/Blu-Ray Release | @CloudyMovie #Cloudy2 #Giveaway #Review

Last week, I got the chance to help celebrate the release of Cloudy With Chance of Meatballs 2 at Sony Pictures Animation Studios.  We enjoyed seeing behind the scenes shots and even got to talk with the creators!   The imagination of this movie showed off their incredible talents.

If you haven't had a chance to see this movie, it comes out today on DVD/Blu-Ray!

I enjoyed the book when I was a kid and the movies make our imaginations come to life.  The second movie leaves off where Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs left off.  Flint Lockwood gets the chance to work with his childhood idol, Chester V.  Only the best inventors get to work at Live Corp.  Flint blew his chance to make a great impression in front of Chester V and thinks his career is over.

Chester gives him the chance to redeem himself and return to Swallow Falls to find out why the Island has gone awry and employees wind up missing.

Following his idol back to the island, he realizes that his machine(that turns water into food) has run awry yet again.  This time, creating a whole ecosystem of Foodimals, the food/animal hybrids.  Flint's idol has fallen off the pedestal that Flint put him on and is trying to take Flint's machine for his own purposes.

Chester's right hand girl is a highly evolved orangutan with a human brain.  She is manipulative and devious and could be the only one to help Flint save the ecosystem that Chester has created to destroy to become even more famous!

Flint wants to become a great inventor like his idol and it takes meeting some of the amazing creatures such as the Shrim-pan-zee, Taco-diles, Marshmallows, and of course, Barry the loveable strawberry character that helps Flint and his friends save the world from the evil Chester V.

We laughed through this entire movie!  My children that are 4 and 6 wanted to make Foodimals for themselves and even made new ones that weren't in the movie with their apples and oranges.  I would recommend this movie for families of all ages as the graphics and creativity abounds.  The story keeps you wanting more.

We were so excited when we received our own copy to review the movie and loved the adorable lunch box and plush Barry.  I have been given permission to give one prize pack out to my readers as well!


DISCLAIMER:  I received a Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 DVD prize pack for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  All photos are used with permission.

Fresh Beat Band is Coming: Plus Print Activities to Get Ready! | @NokiaTheatre #Concert

Do you have a little dancer at home that loves the Fresh Beat Band?  My kids laugh, sing and dance every time the Fresh Beat Band comes on.  It is a great work out and I love seeing them trying to imitate the moves of their favorite dancers.  The catchy tunes and story-lines even have ME watching! 

I was so excited when I found out that the Fresh Beat Band was coming to the Nokie Live Theatre in Los Angeles.  If you are not familiar with this theatre, it is right next to the Staples Center and it is a VERY intimate setting.  There are no bad seats.  Courtesy of Nokia Live, my family was given a invitation to enjoy it and share with my readers.

Do you have the ULTIMATE Fresh Beat Band Fan?  Maybe the Party Package is just what you want to celebrate a special occasion or treat your child to a once in a lifetime chance to meet their idols!  In fact, one of my favorite things I love about the Nokia Live Theatre is that they have a special VIP room that lets you meet the band with the kids and get special goody bags and treats!  

Check out the FRESH BEAT BAND PARTY PACKAGE Cost: $165
  • One (1) premium seat in the first 10 rows of the venue
  • Meet and greet photo opportunity with the Fresh Beat Band in their exclusive party room
  • Enjoy healthy snacks, fun activities and meet other Fresh Beat Band fans
  • One (1) Fresh Beat Band party gift
  • One (1) Fresh Beat Band VIP laminate
If the party package is not a right fit for you, you can purchase tickets for one of the four shows by clicking the links below.

Prices:  $24.50- $65.00

The Fresh Beat Band Live In ConcertNokia Theatre L.A. LIVE
Los Angeles, CA
SAT, Feb 8 - 1:00PM
The Fresh Beat Band Live In ConcertNokia Theatre L.A. LIVE
Los Angeles, CA
SUN, Feb 9 - 5:00PM

E-Ticket Purchasers: Please note our $6.00 GREEN FEE. Any re-prints for tickets not printed prior to arriving at the venue will incur a $6.00 Green Fee. This includes tickets not properly printed. Your Seat Locations and Barcode must be clearly visible.

A few facts about the show you might be interested in:

  • The show runs about an hour including an intermission
  • There will be souvenirs to purchase at the show or you can buy them online at
  • If you buy the VIP Package, you can meet the band
  • If you have a child with special needs, they will accommodate you if you contact your box office ahead of time
  • Group sales might be available if interested, check your local box office for more details
Print out these fun free printables to get your little ones ready for the show!

                    Coloring Pages                                                  Autograph Book

                 Valentine Day Cards                                                   Lunch Notes

DISCLAIMER:  I was given tickets for my family to attend the Fresh Beat Band concert in Los Angeles to help promote this event.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our First Monster Jam! Monster Trucks Galore | @MonsterJam #MonsterJam #ANAHEIM

Yesterday, I took my family to Monster Jam for the first time courtesy of Feld Entertainment! The only time any of us had seen monster trucks before, was a few weeks ago.

I really didn't have too much of an idea of what went on at a Monster Jam so everything was new to me. What I thought we would see was a lot of demolition with a ton of cars getting smashed up without much rhyme or reason. That could not have been too much farther from the truth!

The first part of the show were fun races of Sprint cars that zoomed across the track, often on two wheels or less. They got us in the mood for what was to come and soon we heard the tell-tale rev of the 1500+ horsepower engines. Monster trucks stand around 12 feet tall and have over 5 foot tall tires. The rumbling of the trucks entering the stadium could be felt throughout our bodies.

One thing that I was not prepared for was the extreme noise. The veteran Monster Jam goers had noise cancelling headphones and most of the children had some kind of ear protection. If you forgot your headphones, they are available for purchase at the souvenir booths.

The 15 trucks paraded into the stadium and lined up for the qualifiers.

Monster Jam Racing racers were:
  1. El Toro Loco®(yellow) driven by Becky McDonough 
  2. def Grave Digger® driven by Jon Zimmer 
  3. Mohawk Warrior® driven by George Balhan 
  4. def Shocker driven by Pat Gerber 
  5. Northern Nightmare℠ driven by Cam McQueen 
  6. def Detour driven by Garret Ladelle 
  7. Monster Energy driven by Damon Bradshaw 
  8. def El Diablo℠ driven by JP 
  9. Batman™ driven by John Seasock 
  10. def Obsession driven by Rick Swanson 
  11. Iron Man™ driven by Lee O'Donnell 
  12. def Titan driven by Donald Epidendio 
  13. Time Fly's driven by Kelvin Ramer 
  14. def Obsessed driven by Eric Swanson 
  15. Monster Mutt℠ Dalmatian driven by Taryn Laskey 
The trucks fought good races with spectacular turns.

El Diablo leaped ahead of the competition early on.


The battle of the super heroes commenced with Batman coming out on top over Ironman.

My early favorite was the Monster Energy truck, he beat his competitors in the semi-finals but was outraced by Mohawk Warrior in the final round.

The fastest round went to Mohawk Warrior with a time of 22:25 giving him the trophy.

After the racing rounds, an intermission occurred with the funniest and most unexpected entertainment I had seen in a long time.  I am not sure what the official name of it was but I call it the Trailer Races.  The Trailer Races were stock cars pulling a variety of trailers in a almost demolition type race.  Imagine travel trailers, boats and even an ice-cream cart racing around a cramped track... crashes were inevitable.  

The cars didn't make it one time around before they crashed into each other.  Flames, pileups and even a switcheroo made it comical and heart-stopping as flames and smoke filled several of the cars with the drivers trapped inside.

When all of the cars were inoperable, the race ended with no clear winner except the audience.

Onto the event that everyone was waiting for, the Freestyle!  There are even "thrones" for the victors of the races, who will end up owning it at the end of the night? 

The Freestyle races start with drivers choice of jumps for 50 seconds and 30 seconds of "bonus time".  The trucks are score to 10 in 3 categories and then bonus points added to it.  The goal of the Freestyle is to jump higher and crazier than the rest of the trucks while finishing with a spectacular finish.  

Taryn Laskey, driver of the Monster Mutt, had a spectacular round and was the first to take the "throne".  

I have been a fan of motor-sports for years and while I hadn't had the chance to watch monster trucks, I hadn't given it much thought but I thought it was a male driven sport. I was down-right ecstatic to see a woman pull off her helmet after her spectacular run! I LOVE surprises like that! Go WOMEN!

Run after run the trucks jumped higher and farther. Some landed so hard that wheels, axles and gear-boxes were damaged. Several rolled smashing the the tops of the trucks and some were even able continue after to win!

Mohawk Warrior made great run but rolled over in the bonus time, unable to get the maximum bonus points.

El Diablo made so many vertical jumps and runs it seemed like it was mocking the competition.

With the most incredible jumps and recovers, the race was down to three.  Northern Nightmare, Titan and Grave Digger.  Titan looked like a clear winner as it jumped the highest of all and into the throne!

One last run to go.  Grave Digger was clearly the fan favorite and we were on the edge of our seats through out the run.  The unthinkable happened and it rolled, all over... but NO!  The driver rolled, recovered and went on to win the Championship!  WOW!

The 3 hours we spent at Monster Jam was like being on a roller coaster! Just when I thought there was a clear winner or favorite, I ended up cheering for them all. I have no voice and no hearing(no ear protection) and my body is sore from jumping up and down! I didn't know what to expect when I arrived at Monster Jam but I sure do now! I still don't have a favorite since every truck I saw, changed my mind.

I plan on trying to attend Monster Jam every year at least once. It was INCREDIBLE!

A few things that I recommend for others interested in attending would be:
  • Ear protection is a must, especially for children and people close to the field 
  • Check out if your favorite truck is running on the day you choose, there are over 80 different trucks that travel the nation wide tour 
  • Eat before you arrive and bring snacks for little ones, you don't want to miss out on the races 
  • The view is great at field level but if you want to see the whole track, go up a level 
  • Bring a camera! Camcorders are not allowed however 
  • Be sure to buy the Pitt Pass so you can get up close and personal with the trucks and the drivers before the show
The next Monster Jam is February 8th, 2014 at Angels Stadium. If you haven't been, it is an experience you don't want to miss! To see the full schedule and purchase tickets around the nation, check out their website.

DISCLAIMER: My family received media passes to review Monster Jam. All thoughts and ideas are my own. Do not use any photos without permission.