Wednesday, July 30, 2014

FOOD REVIEW: Blaze Pizza, Custom Made Pizza in 180 Seconds! | @BlazePizza #MissionViejo


Last week, I had the pleasure of eating the best pizza I have had in a LONG time!  What made it so good?  I got to choose what I wanted on it from the bottom up!  Over 35 different options to put on your pizza! 


Did I mention that once your pizza is in the oven, it only takes 180 SECONDS to cook?  By the time you pay, get your drink and find a straw, it is done!   It really brings a new meaning to "fast" food.

What is this "do it yourself" pizza place?


Blaze Pizza!

Blaze Pizza just opened up in the Shops of Mission Viejo.  You might expect a large fancy restaurant with expensive prices to match.  Not so!  Blaze Pizza is in the food court of the mall.  There are many different choices in the mall and we always want whats healthiest, fits our dietary needs(gluten-free?), and cost effective but Blaze Pizza is how YOU choose all for under $8!


Did I mention how BIG these pizza's are?  It isn't the same personal pan pizzas that you see elsewhere.  I would say it is about the size of a medium at other chains.


If you had any doubt of how yummy they taste, giving us the choice of toppings even got my son to add spinach to his and he ate it, WILLINGLY! 


My daughters choice was Parmesan, mozzarella, olives, mushrooms, and red sauce.  

My pizza of choice included red sauce, cherry tomatoes, fresh cut garlic, mushrooms, grilled onions, salami, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. 

There are 25 locations nationwide currently but a new location seems to be popping up every couple weeks!

Other locations in California include:
  • Torrance/Palos Verdes(Rolling Hills Plaza)
  • Torrance(Del Amo Mall)
  • La Habra
  • Irvine
  • Culver City
  • Pasadena
  • North Farmers Market
  • Monrovia(Foothill Park Plaza)
  • Glendale Galleria
  • La Canada
  • Mission Viejo(Shops at Mission Viejo)
  • Riverside
Keep your eyes open for these future locations:
  • South Gate (Azalea Shopping Center)
  • Brea Gateway
  • Santa Ana (Westfield Mainplace Mall)
  • Brea Mall
  • Orange(Glassell)
  • Los Angeles (USC)
  • Newport Beach (Fashion Island)
  • Laguna Niguel
  • Topanga Mall
To get more information, check out Blaze Pizza at BlazePizza.com

DISCLAIMER:  This is not a sponsored post.  I was invited to the free pizza day to review Blaze Pizza.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  All photos are property of  www.socalkidsoutdooradventures.com.  Do not use any photos without permission.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

RINGLING BROTHERS: Truly the Greatest Show on Earth! | @RinglingBros @HondaCenter


Last week, we were invited to attend the Opening Night of Legends:  Ringling Brothers new show.  What a great family event!  There was something for everyone.  

First we were sure to get there early and check out the pre-show that allows the audience to come on stage and participate in fun games, dancing, shows and more!  This is free to all ticket holders so  be sure to come early.


The clowns were my favorite(I never thought I would ever say that after IT!).  They not only were extremely funny, they were amazing acrobats!


Now I tried a uni-cycle when I was a kid and it wasn't pretty... these artists make it look SO easy!


The star of the pre-show was one of the elephants coming out and painting a portrait of an audience member.  One lucky winner actually got to take the painting home!

The show was starting and there was so much to see!  I really can't explain all the acts because there were so many that I would've needed 5 cameras to capture them all but I will share with you my favorites of the night.


My son's favorite part was the Motorcycle Ball of Death!  Okay, that's what my son called it anyway.  He was amazed that they could fit at least 8 riders inside without crashing.



My daughter was torn between the beautiful acrobats with the fans on bikes and the elephants that she had met that morning.



Animals are my passion but horses have always been a part of my life. The equestrian skills shown that night make me yearn to ride again.



Lastly, my husband's favorite part of the show were the big cats.  He is a HUGE cat lover and to him, the bigger the cat, the more to love.  He would totally try this with our cats at home, if he could.

I hope that you get a chance to see this multi-talented, multi-faceted show.  While there are those that don't feel comfortable attending the circus' anymore, I hope that I can bring a little bit of the circus to them.  

Ringling Brothers will be at the Honda Center in Anaheim through this weekend.  Be sure to check them out before they move on.


Anaheim 
Honda Center 
(2695 E. Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806)

Schedule:

  • Friday, July 25 – Sunday, August 3 
  • Friday, July 25 – Sunday, August 3
  • Friday, July 25 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, July 26 11:30 AM, 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM
  • Sunday, July 27 1:30 PM & 5:30 PM
  • Wednesday, July 30 1:00 PM & 7:30 PM
  • Thursday, July 31 10:30 AM & 7:30 PM
  • Friday, August 1 1:00 PM & 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, August 2 11:30 AM, 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM
  • Sunday, August 3 11:30 AM, 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM 
**All shows include Animal Open House and All Access Pre-Show


TICKETS: Prices range from $20, $28, $42 (VIP), $75 (Front Row) and $125–$135 (Ringmaster Zone)

  • Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com or HondaCenter.com
  • charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or in-person at the venue Box Office.
  • *tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees
DISCLAIMER: I received tickets for the show for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and ideas are my own. Do not use any photos without permission.

CIRCUS FUN: "Popsicles with Pachyderms" | @RinglingBros @HondaCenter #Cops4Kids


Before opening day at the Honda Center, Ringling Brothers invited Anaheim Cops 4 Kids and a few select Feld Entertainment blogger families to a special event to kick off their new show Legends with "Popsicles with the Pachyderms".


The main reason for this event was to give at risk kids a chance to learn more about the conservation efforts and the plight of the elephants.  

We learned about training methods, diet and fun facts such as there were over 60 elephants born through the efforts of Feld Entertainment in an effort to increase elephant numbers.
I also learned that there are two main ways you can tell the difference between and African and an Asian elephant.  
  • African elephants ears are larger and actually shaped like Africa where as Asian are somewhat shaped as India
  • Asian elephants have 1"fingered" trunks where African elephants have 2 "fingered" trunks

All of the Ringling Brothers elephants are Asian elephants because they tend to be more docile and are actually closer to humans in their native land as they have worked side by side in partnership for hundreds of years.


We enjoyed popsicles with the elephants.  The youngest had never experienced one and learned from the older elephants that they had to squish it with their feet in order to enjoy the fresh fruit and ice.


One of the elephants waving goodbye as they returned to their barn to be pampered for tonight's show.

  

After our popsicles, we enjoyed a sneak preview of the new Hans Klose Dog Act.  I was amazed at the jump roping dogs!


After a few pictures, we were treated by Chick Fil A to lunch and the kids got to meet one of the "Eat More Chicken" cows.  

It was a great day with friends, great for getting us in the circus mood for that night.

Thank you Ringling Brothers, Feld Entertainment, Chick Fil A and all the entertainers that shared their morning with us, we had a wonderful time!


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Legends” will perform at the Honda Center located at 2695 East Katella in Anaheim, California starting July 25 through August 3, 2014! 


For more information, please see our previous post here: http://www.socalkidsoutdooradventures.com/2014/06/discount-ringling-bros-barnum-bailey.html


Anaheim Cops 4 Kids is part of Anaheim Police Department's youth outreach program. For more information, please visit their website at www.anaheimcops4kids.com.

DISCLAIMER:  We received an invite to "Popsicles with Pachyderms" to share our experience.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photos without permission.

Monday, July 28, 2014

PETS: Huntington Beach Dog Beach: Take Your Dogs Swimming!


While I post a lot about our family outdoor adventures, one of our family members gets left out a lot lately.  Out dog Brittany!

She loves coming camping with us and LOVES hiking!  One of her favorite past times is going to the Dog Beach in Huntington Beach.

In case you didn't know, there is a small stretch of beach set aside for dog owners and their fur-babies to enjoy the beach and water off-leash(if well behaved).  This beach is between Bolsa Chica and Golden West Blvd, just North of the Huntington Beach pier.  


This stretch of  beach protects our dogs(and children) from busy PCH by using cliffs as natural barriers.  There are life-guard towers at either end of the dog beach but most of it has none so be careful when swimming!  

My children love throwing Brittany her ball for endless hours(it seems) and we get to relax in the water or on the sand.  I personally have never seen any dog scuffles, although I am sure they happen as they do at dog parks.


Parking is metered and excepts coins or credit card.  It is 10 minutes for $.25 so be sure to come prepared.  If you really want to avoid the cost of parking, there is limited free parking on PCH near Golden West.  There are bathrooms at the top of the North-End ramp and dog pick-up bags available to use at the parking lot. 

Please be responsible dog owners and always pick up after your dogs especially on the beach so they keep this stretch of beach for the dogs as many have tried taking it away.  There are plenty of trash cans on the beach and bags provided.  

I hope you enjoy taking your furbabies with your as much as we do and maybe we will see you there soon!


Friday, July 25, 2014

WHALE WATCHING: On the Search for the Brydes Whales | @HarborBreezeC @AquariumPacific #LongBeach


It is that time of the year again, time to search our local waters for the largest animal that has EVER inhabited the earth, the Blue Whale!  New on the agenda, the Brydes (Broo-tus) whale.  

This warm water whale is so rare that only 12 have EVER been seen off our coasts and around 100 elsewhere!  The Brydes Whale looks like a small Fin Whale and may have been mistaken in the past as a juvenile Fin Whale.  

The M/V Triumphant of Harbor Breeze Cruises and the Aquarium of the Pacific invited our family and other media this week to see if we could spot one of these elusive creatures.  My kids were so excited to get a chance to see the whales and they love being on the water.


We saw such a variety of wildlife!  From Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, sea-lions, harbor seals, Mola Mola(Sunfish), to finally... the Blue Whale!

    

Blue Whales are always seen in Southern California waters in the summer because unlike the Fin, Gray and Humpback Whales, Southern California is their destination.  Most whales are migrating through our waters to travel North or South.


We were not fortunate enough to see the Brydes Whale on this trip but we did see 2 Blue Whales up close and several more off into the distance.

This is Eileen, a whale that has been identified often in our waters and known for an un-even fluke.  You can see that it is curved on one side and she leans to one side as she dives into the trenches off our coast.


The Brydes Whales and Blue Whales are baleen whales which have plated teeth instead of cone-shaped such as a Killer Whale.  The baleen looks almost like a palm frond section which filters out the red krill that sustains them.  It is MUCH heavier than it looks!  They have many sections like this in their mouths.

What goes in must come out right?  Ummm... I(and you) can now say that I have seen whale poop! LOL


We enjoyed a break from the heat as it was a good 10 degrees cooler on the water than the 90+ degrees on land.

Come out and cool off into nature and join the search for these magnificent whales!  The Triumphant is the newest and fastest whale watching boat in Southern California and it is my first choice of trips.


DISCLAIMER:  We were given media passes to the whale watching trip for sharing our experiences.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photos without permission.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

RIVER RAFTING: Part 2 The American River with Children 5+ | @WWExcitement #AmericanRiver

DISCLOSURE:  We received free rafting trips for the purpose of this review.  All ideas and thoughts are my own.
As we got settled into our campsite at the White Water Excitement Base Camp, we started thinking about our rafting trips that we were going on the next day.

We were a little nervous because not only would it be our kids first trip but ours as well.  Would they be safe?  Would they get scared?  What would the rapids be like?  You see, it wasn't just the kids first rafting trip but my hubby's and mine as well!  We really didn't know what to expect.

We met at the camp store and filled out the release and safety forms and met our guide, Anna.  She was knowledgeable, friendly and put our minds at ease.  Our raft was already on top of the van and all that were missing were us.

The first trip that we were taking that day was The Young Rafters Adventure.  It is for families with kids that are too young for the regular rafting trips.  It was less than a 5 minute drive to Coloma State Historic Park, the birthplace of Sutter's Mill and where gold was first discovered.  Our trip was about 5 miles downstream and ended up at their South Fork Basecamp.



We had a brief safety talk and Anna answered all of our questions and we were off!  We were all required to wear life jackets and the children were required to wear helmets in case they fell in.  Adult helmets were available but optional at the class 1 and 2 rapids. This trip was especially designed to introduce young children to the excitement and love of whitewater rafting.  None of the rapids were above a Class 2 and the kids loved it!




If you have never been on a rafting trip, there are lulls in the river where you can row your paddles to maneuver faster or you can relax and let the current pull you along lazily.


During these lulls, we played several games with the kids such as:
  • Points given for different wildlife
  • Points given for different colored rafts/kayaks
  • Balancing on the bow of the raft while others spun the raft fast to knock them off
  • Sliding off the over-turned raft from the beach and into the water
  • Swimming/floating along-side the raft
  • Water fights!
My husband enjoyed jumping for the rope hanging from the Stagecoach Trail Bridge.  He actually made it!


I think my kids favorite past-times on the raft(besides the rapids) was trying to push me in the water and encouraging the many river occupants that lined the river to do flips into the water from the boulders.




On our second rafting trip that afternoon, we enjoyed what is called the Sunset Cruise trip.  This set of rapids included more of the Class 2 and Class 2+ rapids and got all of our hearts pumping fast!  The second trip was on the "Lower Section" of the North Fork of the American river just below the town of Auburn, CA.

The Sunset Cruise was rated at a Class 2+ trip which is about a medium difficulty but still safe and exciting for the kids.  It is highly recommended that you bring dry clothes to put on(will be left in the van) as it is a 2-1/2 hour trip that doesn't end until about 8:30.

We saw deer, baby river otters, turkey vultures and more!  The trip ended up at the site of what was supposed to be the Auburn Dam(which was never built).  It was a great way to show the beauty of the American River to our kids.  It gave them a chance to enjoy nature and experience a fun new sport where they can learn to love the history of the area.


Water Excitement offers many discounts for families with kids 5-16 years of age!  From the Family 50% Discount trip(ages 5+) and the Young Rafters Overnight Adventure to their Sunset Cruise.  Check Availability for what other discounts might be available.

Call at 800-750-2386 for more information about their other trips and to make reservations.

What do the CLASS Ratings mean?  Here is a chart to help you make the best choice for which trip to reserve your trips.

CLASS I: EASY. Waves are generally quite small; passages clear of any major obstacles. FUN FOR EVERYONE.


CLASS II: MEDIUM. Rapids can be moderately complex, however, passages remain clear. FUN FOR EVERYONE.


CLASS III: DIFFICULT. Rapids are longer, and markedly more powerful. Paddlers are required to maneuver through forceful and irregular currents, rocks and holes in the channel. CHALLENGING.


CLASS IV: VERY DIFFICULT. Very long rapids; dangerous rocks and powerful waves and currents, boiling eddies mean that precise and powerful maneuvering is required. THRILLSEEKERS.


CLASS V: EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. Quite violent and long rapids follow each other with little interruption; a severely obstructed riverbed with big drops; seep gradient and a violent current. EXPERIENCED THRILLSEEKERS.

While we are planning on making this an annual tradition, my hubby and I have decided that we might have to make another trip sooner than later so that we may try some Class 3 trips.  We are HOOKED!



DISCLAIMER:  We received complimentary rafting trips for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and ideas are my own.  Do not use any photo's without permission.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

RIVER RAFTING: White Water Excitement is the Perfect Family Campsite/Rafting | @WWExcitement #AmericanRiver


Our Northern California road-trip was a great way to find out how close a family can get for the good and the bad.  The worst part of our trip was keeping our kids happy and occupied on the 7 hour drive to our main destination.  The best part?  The destination!  

Where were we headed?  The South Fork of the American River!   Just minutes away from Sutter's Mill.  The purpose of our trip was to experience River Rafting for the first time!  Since we have a young family, we weren't sure if our 5 and 7 year old would be able to experience it or were they too young?  

After doing some research, we found the perfect River Guide company in White Water Excitement!  Not only did they have several class 1 and 2 rapids trips perfect for our young rafters, they also had wonderful riverside campsite.

As we pulled into the parking lot on the South Fork Base Camp, we noticed a clean and well organized camp setting.  A camp store provided campers with the basics along with all that we needed for the rafting trips the next day.  The prices were very reasonable and I was happy that they offered water-proof camera's for sale as I had a camera malfunction!  

Outside the camp store was a great patio area where you could relax, charge your phones and sip a cold drink.


The actual campsites were perfect!  My family chose a site on the river so that my son could fish right outside his tent.  The area easily was roomy enough for two large tents and a fire-pit and picnic table were available to each site. 




If tents aren't your thing or you would rather not haul your tent up for a day or two trip, you will probably like their tent cabins that held several large cots and small patios.  This was our favorite one as it overlooked the main beach on the river where we spent much of our time.



Other amenities included:
  • Volleyball court
  • Horse-shoes
  • Group eating area with kitchen(for paid meals)
  • Hot showers and many roomy bathrooms
  • On-site camp manager
  • Rafting vans that left from the camp store
  

Since we were at the California birth-place of gold, I had to try my hand at gold panning.  I had brought a sleuce box and a couple pans to give it a go.  While we didn't find any nuggets, I can now say I have found(a very little) gold where so many 49er's found it before me.

  

While enjoying the beauty of the river and all the wildlife it offered.  We were fortunate enough to see this doe and  fawn directly across from our tents!  


Some of the other wildlife we encountered were:
  • Deer
  • Beaver
  • Baby river otters
  • Crayfish
  • Trout
  • Wild turkey
  • Turkey vultures
  • Toads
  • Bats, owls and more!
The prices of the camp-sites were very reasonable at $14 a person and were not lacking in anything.  The best part about the camp-sites?  It is not open to the public so the only people that are camping around you are the WWE river-rafters and that keeps the crowds to a minimum.  

There is so much I could say about this camp-site but I think the pictures tell it so much better!

Stay tuned for a second post sharing the wonderful time we had rafting and how beautiful the American River is!

WHITEWATER EXCITEMENT
Rafting/Campsite
6580 Highway 49
Lotus, CA 95651
800-750-2386