Friday, February 28, 2014

Teach Your Kids About the International Space Station: Free Star Chart and Coloring Pages | #Astronomy #Kids


My son is in his Tiger year of Cubscouts and sometimes its a challenge to find fun learning activities for them to do as a den.

I help out the Akeela(den leader) in coming up with activities and I thought, why not do something about space? I get notifications of when the International Space Station(ISS) is visible in my area. It just happened that a couple days ago, the ISS would be visible during our den meeting. I thought, why not?
Well, what I had not taken into consideration the storm that was on the horizon which blanketed the sky in cloud cover with small patches of sky visible.

While I had hoped we were able to see it, it was only going to be visible(if we were lucky) for 6 minutes. What would we do for the remainder of the hour? I wanted to teach them a little about the ISS and do an activity that they would remember.

I started out by teaching them about the ISS with this printable fact sheet.
  • It took over 100,000 people to build the ISS 
  • The ISS orbits(goes around) Earth 250 miles above us 
  • It is 290 x 356 feet length/width 
  • Over 1 million pounds heavy 
  • Uses solar power to operate 
  • Orbits Earth 16 times a day 
  • There is little gravity on the space station(they float in the air) 
  • The astronauts have to strap themselves into sleeping bags to sleep 
  • Scientists do experiments to better life on Earth without gravity effecting it 
  • There are 3-10 people on the space station at any time 
  • People stay on the space station for up to 6 months at a time 
  • The last launch to the space station in 2/27/2014! In Japan.
I found this great printable Star Wheel at Kids Love to Learn which the kids put together and are able to use when the weather permits.



I found more free coloring pages courtesy of Coloring Pages 7 that the kids could do at home.

  
                                  Click to print                                                          Click to print
The den meeting was a hit even though the ISS wasn't visible due to clouds.  If you are interested in finding out the viewing schedule for the ISS, feel free to visit Spot the Station.

I hope that our den meeting helps your little ones learn more about our skies.  Feel free to print copies of the pages for future learning.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Warrior Dash Week February Training: A New Plan | @WarriorDash #Couchto5k #Running

I know that it seems like I should be on a week higher than week 4 and if you have been following along, it should be.   I have been working hard on doing my best for the Warriors Dash and I am very proud of how far I have come in the 8 weeks I have been running/exercising.
Beautiful flowers on my running route
I have come to a conclusion that the Couch to 5K programs are great for getting motivated and started running but one size does NOT fit all.  I am pushing 40 next year and I came into all this with the not so perfect body.  I have had knee surgeries, back problems and the ever remaining problem of running with a 36 DDD chest really doesn't make the ideal running conditions.  

I told myself that I would do my best to follow the program that was set before me on my Couch to 5K app but what I didn't anticipate was my body doesn't know that I am doing it for the kids and to get into shape, it just keeps screaming at me WHAT ARE YOU DOING! LOL


I have been able to follow pretty closely to the workouts on the app but I will admit.  I have hit a plateau.  I cannot push my body at this time to run more than 4 minutes at a time(and that is pushing to my limits).  Week 4 has me running 5+ minutes straight for 3+ times a week.  I have tried week 4 twice now and I have decided that while the app means well, I am not as advanced as it expects me to be.  When I push beyond my limits, I find myself injured.

What am I doing instead?  There is an option for an Open Run on my Couch to 5K app that allows me to either run for time or distance and start and stop at my own leisure.  I like this option.  I have found that if I run more shorter distances at my own time instead of the programmed time, I actually can sustain my stamina and speed more than if I was running for 5+ minutes straight.

Do I think I will get back on track and finish their suggested program?  Probably.  Maybe... Well we will see.  I like being in charge and pushing my body to just before breaking point instead of feeling like a failure if I can't do that whole 5+ minute run.  Maybe I am selfish and maybe I am just getting old.  I WILL finish what I started and do my very best at the Warrior Dash but I will do it my way.  Wish me luck!

My stats for the month of February are:

    
   


I have by no means given up but I have learned to listen to my body when it says that I have pushed it too far too fast.  I will finish this Warriors Dash and plan for the next one.  I may even try another 5K if I survive the Warrior Dash.  I have 5 weeks to go and while I am not as strong as my app would like me to be, I feel that besides the 10lbs that I have lost by running, my body feels healthier and I love it!  I will continue to eat less junk and more balance so that I may teach my children that if we take great care of our bodies, we will be rewarded with health, strength and energy.

El Dorado Park: One of the many ponds 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Farrells is Back! New Buena Park Location | @FarrellsUSA #FarrellsIsBack #FarrellsBuenaPark


Growing up, I was fortunate to have a Farrells Ice Cream Parlor about 10 minutes from my house.  I have many memories of birthday parties, sports parties, special event treat nights and just because it was a fun treat, nights.

If you have never been to a Farrells Ice Cream Parlor, it is SO much more than just ice cream.  The moment that you walk in the door, you know you are stepping into an experience, not just a restaurant.  I was so sad when my childhood Farrells and many others closed in the 80's!  I was hoping that one day I might make those memories with my own children.  Well thanks to Farrells USA, the restaurants are now making a HUGE come-back in Southern California!

I was invited to a media tasting preview last week to get a chance to see the new location to see if my memories have still held up.

Candy of all shapes and sizes greet you as you walk in the door.  All the candy you remember as a child in one place.  I found my favorites, Zotz, giant Smarties and wax lips! There were jaw breakers larger than your fist!

  

  

The hosts and hostesses greet you with songs and usher you to your seat for the show... I mean food.  Each and every employee in the parlor are like a character in a show who are their to make your experience, one to remember!

If you are celebrating a birthday that day, expect to be serenaded by all the employees!  "Take Me Out to the Parlor" (sung to the tune of Take Me Out to the Ballgame" was popular when I visited the new Buena Park location, which is now open on Beach Blvd next to Knotts Berry Farm.

After looking at the full menu, we decided to order one of our favorites, garlic fries.   YUMM!  It was lightly salted and covered in freshly minced garlic.



After witnessing many song and dance parades around the restaurant, we ordered our food.  French dip sandwich for me and a club sandwich for my hubby.  The portions were great and it all tasted wonderful!  The menu included salads, burgers, sandwiches, appetizers and of course, DESSERT!



For lunch my hubby and I ordered the French Dip and Club sandwiches.  I must say that my husband is a bit of a bacon snob and for him to finish that entire club sandwich(it was HUGE) and comment several times about how good the bacon is, means that it is good.


  

Finally the moment we had been waiting for!  The dessert!  What to choose! There are so many fabulous choices that we had a hard time deciding.  Should we get the Zoo which feeds up to 10 people?



This is actually what the table next to us ordered and between the 8 of them, there was still a half of a bowl left.  It was that big!

I decided to leave the Zoo to our neighbors and chose the Nutty Nutty Hot Fudge Sundae.  We had the choice of caramel or hot fudge and since I chose the dessert, I let my husband choose the hot fudge... like that could ever be a WRONG choice.   It was large enough that the two of us struggled to finish it but someone had to do it. 



If you want to play a trick on your kids, look into the Rebel menu where the desserts are not what they seem.  Imagine ordering your children the "Fake Chicken Dinner" or the "Ice Cream Nachos".  The kids will get a kick out of it once they realize their peas and carrots are actually a sweet treat!  Be sure to ask the waiter about them without the kids noticing for a fun joke.

We loved that the employees literally entertained us from start to finish.  The music, dancing and singing kept us in great spirits and watching all the wonderful desserts walk by made it hard to make our own choices.  We finally waddled out to the car wondering if the 4 miles we walked and ran earlier could even put a dent in the calories we had just consumed.  It was totally worth every calorie!

The Buena Park location is now open to the public and I recommend calling ahead for reservations.  Once the word gets out about the new Farrells Ice Cream Parlor, the line to  get in will be wrapped around the building.  I have heard that some of their other locations can have up to a 2 hour wait!

Whether you are having a birthday party or sporting event or just a fun treat for the family, be sure to bring your appetites and dig in.

To find your closest location, check the menu and make reservations, click here.


FARRELLS USA
BUENA PARK LOCATION
8650 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone # (714) 484-9700


DISCLAIMER:  I received and invite to a special media tasting in exchange for helping promote the new Buena Park store.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Valentines Day on the "Love Boat" w/ MIXIM™ | @EhrmannUSA @QueenMary #MIXIMLove


Valentines Day is a day to spend with our loved ones.  This Valentines Day I was fortunate to enjoy my evening with not only my husband but several good friends on the romantic(yet haunted) Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary was transformed into a pink "Love Boat" for the special launch of the German based MIXIM™  Greek Yogurt in the US.



Ehrmann  MIXIM™  representatives gave all of us ladies roses as we entered the "red carpet" photo op and all were offered full sized samples of their delicious yogurt in the very appropriate heart shaped containers.


One thing that was distinctly different about our Long Beach landmark was that the "Love Boat" was lighted in a pink glow in honor of the romantic day.  Not only did we have the chance to taste the all natural yogurt, we were treated to the chance to break a Guinness World Record!

What is a party without music?  The band "Don't Stop Believing"(Journey music) were to rock the boat before being treated to a spectacular firework display.

My hubby and I enjoyed a few drinks and a VIP dinner on the Sunset Deck of the "Love Boat" as we indeed watched the sunset and the full moon rise on the horizon.

  

The 6 different flavors of MIXIM Greek yogurt, we were treated to, were:
  • Raspberry with Dark and White Chocolate Curls
  • Mango Pineapple with Coconut & Almonds
  • Honey with Coconut & Almonds
  • Strawberries with Granola
  • Blackberry Pomegranate with Granola & Dried Fruits
  • Cherry and Chocolate Curls

Soon it was time for the Guinness World Record attempt.  We needed 250 couples to feed each other simultaneously to set it.  Guess what?  We SHATTERED it!  There were over 500 couples that showed up!



Why were we trying to break the world record?  MIXIM Ehrmann™  had pledged $20,000 to the Children's Heart Foundation if we were successful!  Christian Ehrmann, owner of Ehrmann USA was more than happy to present the check with little 2 1/2 year old MacKenzie present.


We went back to the VIP lounge and enjoyed appetizers and a glass of wine as we prepared to dance the night away with "Don't Stop Believing".  My husband and I both love Journey and it made the night extra special.


The music was amazing and after over an hour of dancing, we knew the time was near when the song "Don't Stop Believing" was played.   As the final notes of the song passed, the sky that was already full with the moon, were alight with fireworks!  Hearts filled the skies as we said goodbye to another Valentines Day.

  

The fun wasn't completely over.  MIXIM is hosting a sweepstakes!!! How does a night out with your favorite person every month for a year AND a month delivery of MIXIM yogurt? Who wouldn't want this?


Enter right now here (click): MIXIM Love Sweepstakes.

To find out more about MIXIM, or the MIXIM Love Sweepstakes, connect via social media: 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored, compensated post. All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photos without permission.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gaufree's: Organic, All Natural, Gluten-Free, Free Range Artisan Waffles | @GaufreeIrvine #Review


My family loves trying new foods, there is no hiding that fact, especially since my pants are getting a little snug even with my new running and exercise schedule.  When we are looking for a new restaurant, we look for our healthiest choices while still tasting good.  Heavy on the tasting good.  Why would we want to waste calories on food that doesn't?

I was approached to attend a media tasting by a restaurant in Irvine called Gaufree's.  Gaufre translates into "waffles" in French.  In the United States, our waffles are all malt based as opposed to elsewhere, which is yeast dough based.  Gaufree's waffles are all the traditional yeast based dough which complements a limitless variety of flavors.


As you probably guessed it, Gaufree's is a Waffle House that brings waffles out of the traditional breakfast food and into your whole diet!  From the Gaufree Waffle Hamburger and fried chicken to smoked salmon and desserts!

It all started 25 years ago with a simple goal, of a fast casual concept fits perfectly with our California lifestyle.

They strive for fast tasty fare with exceptional quality. They not only strive for excellence, they refuse to accept less. While their name is a bit more ecclectic it certainly will prove that GAUFRE or WAFFLE is a tasty fare and such novelty that it will explode in the coming years.

Some of the favorite things I learned about Gaufree's are:
  • All food is local and fresh and organic, whenever possible
  • All protein is free range, grass fed, as well as antibiotic and hormone free
  • All the dressings and most of the condiments are made from scratch
  • They have served McConnell's ice cream since 1949
  • All the coffee is organic Moto coffee
  • All of the wines are from Caliornia wineries
  • The beer is Belgian, hand crafted beer
  • All soft drinks are with no artificial ingredients or coloring
  • They use recycled, reclaimed materials whenever possible
  • The employees are treated with respect and are important pieces of the team
All of these things make me want to try everything on the menu.  One thing I always worry about when trying new foods with my children is taste.  Will my kids like something new and different?  In a society that is full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors, how would they like an all natural approach?

I must say they ate everything I placed in front of them.

We decided to try the Chicken and Waffles, Philly Cheese Steak and an Asian salad.  The french fries were sprinkled with garlic and made with a garlic dipping sauce that was to die for!

Gaufree's brings new meaning to "Chicken and Waffles"
  
               The Asian Salad had waffle croutons!           The Philly Cheese-steak had a sweet crunch

We really enjoyed the food although I wouldn't get the Asian Salad again with Kale.  I would rather get it with spinach or mixed greens instead.  It wasn't bad but the kale overpowered the rest of the salad and I would have rather tasted all the complexities of it.

My kids gave the Philly cheese-steak sandwich two thumbs up and my husband couldn't get enough of his chicken/waffle sandwich.  Although the main dishes were great, the best was about to arrive, dessert!

The Peanut Butter Pie I could eat morning, noon and night!  I had to fight my kids over it!

Peanut Butter Pie Waffle with Sea Salt Caramel
Brussels Street Waffle with Chocolate Sauce and Rasberry Coulis
There were so many good looking and healthy alternative foods at Gaufree's!  I will have to return many times to put a dent in tasting the whole menu.   I think if I could choose ONE item to come back for, it would be the Peanut Butter Pie Waffle! O.M.G.!  It was that good!  

How about trying it for yourself?  Would you like to win a gift card?  Enter below!

WIN A $50 GIFT CARD TO GAUFREE'S, ENTER BELOW!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLAIMER:  I was invited to a media tasting for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photos without permission.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Big Help DVD Release | @FHEInsiders #BerryBigHelp #GIVEAWAY

Our favorite sweet smelling Strawberry Shortcake and her friends have done it again! Their new DVD, Strawberry Shortcake: Berry Big Help comes to DVD/Digital Copy on Tuesday, February 18th. My daughter is a huge fan of the TV show and loves watching her movies.

She is so excited to get to see their new adventures and this DVD is packed.
The new DVD is consists of three delightful Strawberry Shortcake episodes:
  • “Babysitter Blues”: in this episode, the Princess asks Strawberry to look after a very special Baby Berrykin.
  • “A Stitch Of Time”: Orange and Lemon take on the role of “Fashion Elves” to help Raspberry with her fashion design dreams.
  • “There’s No Place Like Home”: Orange adopts a bitty fish that turned out to be a very homesick tadpole.
Also on the DVD is the "Sunshine Girls" music video.  It's sure get your little ones up and dancing!

To get your little ones excited for the movie, I have a special coloring printable just for them! Enjoy!  

Click to print

WIN A COPY OF BERRY BIG DEAL! ENTER BELOW



a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLAIMER:  I will receive a media copy of the DVD in return for helping promote the DVD.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Feel free to make as many copies of the printables as you want for personal use only.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Making Catalina Even More Beautiful: Avalon Harbor Cleanup | @VisitCatalina #SCUBA #Travel

Divers in front of Casino

February is my favorite time of the year.  No not because of flowers and candy, although those are definitely a plus!  But it is when I get to spend a weekend at my favorite place on earth, Catalina Island, for a romantic getaway with my husband.

I actually start planning the last full weekend of February almost a year in advance.  What is so important?

The Avalon Harbor Cleanup.  This sounds like an odd thing to look forward to but it is my favorite fundraiser that I have been a part of for 21 years!  YIKES!  The only time that I had not participated was the year I had knee surgery the week before and my doctor wouldn't clear me for diving.

Catalina Island, only 26 miles across the sea... (insert music here)  has been a large part of my life since before I was born.  In fact, my family had built some of the original ferries that made it's way across to this paradise in its hay day.  Many a celebrities crossed over on ships we built!

Growing up, I spent all my summers on the beautiful Island of Catalina and more specifically, Avalon.  I learned to walk on the decks of boats swaying in the harbor and took my first swim along the sandy shore next to the green pier.   My first job was giving snorkel tours at Lovers Cove, a beautiful marine preserve that you can enjoy from the water or the glass bottom boats.

One thing that I wanted to do more than anything else was SCUBA dive!  I had grown up swearing that I would be a marine biologist and up until I met a boy in high school, that was the plan.  Long story short, I got SCUBA certified in 1993 and one of my first memorable events I did was the Avalon Harbor Cleanup.

What is the Avalon Harbor Cleanup?  Once a year, the City of Avalon, the Catalina Conservancy and hundreds of volunteers get together, rain or shine, to clean up the bottom of beautiful Avalon Bay.  The only time in the whole year you have to dive in the harbor is on this day.   People arrive from around the world to check in at 5 different stations around the harbor with underwater trash bags in hand to do our part to clean up our oceans.

Divers entering at Green Pier

Imagine a beach cleanup under water and you have a pretty good idea of what happens.  What could be found underwater to cleanup?  You guess it and we have found it!  To make the cleanup fun, prizes are given out to objects that are brought up each year that are made by the Avalon School's art department.  The categories include:
  • Smallest
  • Rarest/most expensive
  • Historical
  • Most Romantic
  • Most perverted(I actually won this category the first year it was created)
  • Most unusual 
  • Household items and more!

  

Some of the most unusual items I have personally brought up include:

  • A nautical pin with a naked woman spread eagle on it attached to a rope(no kidding! This won the most perverted)
  • A shopping cart
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Area rugs
  • Whole chicken eggs
  • Money
  • Glass bottles
  • Wallets
  • Ironing board
  • MUCH more!
You would think that after all the years(this is the 33rd year) all the trash would have been found but with Avalon being a popular summer hang out for the boating scene, the trash is replenished and multiplied year after year.

Divers have 1 tank to dive in the harbor and for the second year, Lovers Cove.  Depending on the divers experience and dive conditions, that can last from 30 minutes to over an hour and a half.  There are safety officers in kayaks available to watch out for problems and are wonderful for helping find lost "buddies".

Avalon, Catalina

More volunteers check in and out the divers as the enter/exit the water.  Every diver is checked in/out to make sure that no divers are lost or still out in the harbor.  Often, a diver will exit another station due to getting lost or lack of air.  The divers are encouraged to enter and exit the same station but situations due occur and as long as the check out as soon as they can, it isn't a problem.

After everyone is accounted for and dried off with a little food in their stomachs, the award ceremony is held at Wrigley stage(the stage found on the beach next to the green pier).  Here the divers can pick up swag bags that include tee-shirts, discounts and other goodies and buy their raffle tickets.

The raffle is the most anticipated part of the day as often, over $20,000 worth of items are given away. The prizes are all donated for the Catalina Conservancy.  The prizes have included in the past:
  • SCUBA tanks
  • Regulators
  • Masks/fins/snorkels
  • BCD's
  • Trips to Catalina
  • Parasailing
  • Glass-bottom boat rides
  • Zip-line tickets
  • Hotel Stays
  • Catalina Express tickets
  • Videos
  • Oh... and a favorite in the last decade, stuffed monkeys, often donated from the LA Zoo but more recently donated by one of my great friends, the Master of Ceremonies, TJ Jones
  • and much more!
Swag items such as candy, dive cards, tee-shirts and more are thrown to the enthusiastic crowd awaiting the dive and raffle prizes.

Throwing swag to the crowd

There are a couple awards that take place additional to the normal dive awards which include:
  • Golden Flipper Award- for the volunteer that is recognized for donating above and beyond to the Catalina Conservancy cause
  • The Bull Shit Award- (actual Catalina bison poop that is spray-painted gold on a plaque) for the best story made up using the items that they found in the harbor
Avalon Harbor Cleanup, 2014

We generally plan on making a adults weekend of the event which starts off with drinks on the Catalina Express and karaoke on Friday night at the El Galleon and ends with caramel apples and ice-cream at Big Olaf's on Sunday.

To register for this memorable event, check out the the registration/information page.

My husband and I don't get many date nights and almost never any date weekends.  This weekend we make sure that we mark on the calendar every year as OUR weekend and it helps that it is always the weekend after Valentines Day.  It is a time to re-connect with each other away from the kids and remember how it is to be adults again.

Avalon Harbor, Catalina

There is no other place in the world that I would rather be than Catalina Island!  If you don't make it over for the Harbor Cleanup this year, be sure to look into it for a great close get away or family vacation.  There is so much to do even if you don't SCUBA dive.

  • Snorkeling
  • Scenic tours
  • Glass-bottom boats
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Horse-back riding
  • Shopping
  • Zip-lining/ Eco-Tours
  • Ghost Tours
  • Botanical Gardens 
  • Historical Tours and more!
Visit the Catalina Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau to book your next vacation.

Avalon, Catalina