Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Building Room

The Building Room's Central Playground
Looking through my Groupon cell phone app one day, I was surprised to find an offer for a five-day admission voucher to a children’s activity playroom, located in my neck of the woods.
This was quite surprising since most child-activity related Groupons are nowhere near my house and mostly located in more kid-friendly and diverse areas like Pasadena, Downtown and the West side. But this offer was in West Covina so naturally, I purchased.

It was a 5-day pass to the Building Room for $20. 
It really wasn't an amazing deal considering children from 10 months to a year (like Benny) pay $4.00 for a one-day general admission ticket. Still, it seemed like a good thing to buy in support of the local economy.

We frequently take Benny to the local library so changing up the evening activity venue was a good idea, I thought. Quite frankly, I wasn't disappointed. 

This new indoor playground is a good escape for children. According to the website, the Building Room is designed to look like a local neighborhood with themed rooms that surround an indoor park.

There are all sorts of building blocks and activities for children. As you can imagine, Benny’s had a ball (literally!) each time we’ve taken him.

Places like these seem far more instrumental for a child’s development than say, Chuck E. Cheese (which Benny loves too) but it’s up to the community to support and continue to visit this relatively new venue in order to keep it open and successful.

Did I mention you can host a child’s birthday party here?

The Building Room is sorta' hidden in a corner
The Building Room is located at 1208 W. Francisquito Ave. Ste. F West Covina, CA 91790

Friday, November 22, 2013

Irene's Chanel-Themed Bridal Shower

Frances and I believe that Irene's bridal shower was the perfect mix of fancy and festive.

Lifelong family friends Silvia & Lizeth Lopez
The lovely Cervantes ladies
It was so delightful to see guests arrive in their little black dresses/outfits!

Cousin Vivi -- a childhood friend!
The garden looked romantic and we were hoping to give it a Parisian feel, which was complemented by Edith Piaf music in the background.

Champagne Flutes ready for the pouring of the bubbly.

Dessert table with pearlescent gum balls, gold foiled chocolates, Oreo cookies, powdered donuts & more!
Irene's best friend, our beloved Moni Llanes
My cousin Cindy made an amazing vanilla and fresh fruit Chanel cake.
As a way to entertain guests, we kept it simple with three games, which included a “design your own little black dress” competition (Irene picked her top six which made them winners of the necklace centerpieces), we also played “name the fashion designer” and “guess the number of pearls in the garden”.

Chanel themed cake and other pastries

Finally we hired a Flamenco dancer to entertain the guests and offer a dancing lesson or two… Kudos to cousin Monica who really showed she has some moves!

Toward the end our affair, all of our aunts, our wonderful mother and grandmother presented Irene with religious and symbolic gifts.

Tia Ani presents Irene with a wooden crucifix

The Marquez Sisters -- we complete each other.
It was a beautiful day in honor of a beautiful person.
Love you sister. Can’t wait for the wedding! Tick-Tock, Tick Tock.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Preparing for Irene's Bridal Shower

It took countless nights of brainstorming, planning, discussing, (a little disagreeing), online shopping, budgeting, and even sketching ideas in order for my little sister Frances and I to style and create Irene’s Chanel-inspired Bridal Shower.

Frenchee and I planned and syled the shower over several months
One thing was for sure: Irene needed to have a shower as classy and fabulous as she is!

Irenee Weenie

So, we decided we wanted to have it in a pretty backyard and we thought Irene’s godmother, our lovely aunt Ofelia, had the perfect setting in her home.

Arranging the buffet setting at Tia Ofe's backyard
Next, we knew we needed to stick to black and white colors (Chanel) and keep things simple yet full of gold and silver vintage details.

We wanted to make it elegant so we asked the guests to wear a little black dress in honor of Chanel’s signature contribution to the fashion world. And we wanted it to be a brunch in order to serve such items as French toast, Croissant Sandwiches, Quiche, Mimosas and pastries, among other things (Thank you mom and dad for always making things happen for your daughters).

My parents prepared the food!

The bottom line is, this task could have never been done without crucial the help of our parents and wonderful aunts.

Tia Laura and Cousin Nena helping at 7:00 am!
Let’s see, where should I begin? In my mind, I knew Frances and I had to be creative. She came up with the brilliant idea of necklace centerpieces. We thought champagne would serve as a perfect shower favor so we purchased mini champagne bottles and printed labels with one of Chanel’s famous quotes: “I only drink champagne on two occasions: When I’m in love and when I’m not”. How appropriate, right?

We gave ourselves plenty of little projects that could only be done late at night after my workout, after dinner and after putting Benny to sleep. Take this little canvas board, for example. I purchased the frame at Ross for $4.99 and bought tons of buttons at Joann’s Fabrics. Then I sewed on the buttons (which I thought appropriate for a haute couture themed party) and attached three pictures of Irene along the center of the frame. This took me several nights to complete but once it was done, it served as a neat little background frame for the dessert table.

We thought it would be fitting to place pictures of Irene around the garden since she’s always so stylishly dressed. We also felt the need to pretty much clear our home of candle holders, frames, candles and fixtures to decorate the garden with style.

Frances purchased several black and white umbrellas which were placed around the garden to give it a “shower” background and I purchased an 8’x8’ backdrop for ladies to take pictures using gloves, hats and other head pieces. I should mention, my father and uncle Mike were in charge of figuring out a way to make the backdrop stand upright… and they sure did!

The men at work early in the morning
With Benny in front of the photo backdrop!
Tomorrow, I'll share how the shower actually turned out. I was so afraid the chilly autumn Oxnard weather would ruin the moment but it turned out to be quite sunny!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Running a Half Marathon

Pre-Race photo at the Health & Fitness Expo
I finished my first half-marathon in 2 hours 25 minutes and 1 second. I wish I would have taken a bigger step across that finish line…that would have avoided going over those 25 minutes by one second!!!

Moments before crossing the finish line
Excuse my enthusiasm but this was big for me and I owe it to my husband Paul who kept pushing me and took me on ridiculously difficult, uphill, 12-mile runs from hell during my training. Every time we ran together I would get soooo mad at him for telling me I could do better when I started whining about feeling exhausted, thirsty, tired, etc. Paul just kept running saying I was fine and I’d better catch up. The truth is, my honey knows me best and I admire his commitment to helping me get through this race because he always led by example. He didn’t just talk the talk, so to speak. He ran the hardest, longest, most difficult runs with me and made sure I was pushing myself to the max.

What I learned about this race is that, the struggle to keep running is mostly mental. Running 13.1 miles straight requires physical preparation but more than anything, a focused, positive mind that tells you to keep going and pushes you to run faster and harder right when you think you’re about to hit a wall.

For my first half-marathon, I had my mom, dad, Benny and sister Frances waiting near the finish line (Paul had to work). As soon as I came close, they cheered me on and Frances actually ran the last quarter of a mile with me to take pictures and ran accross the finish line (HILARITY)!

See Frances right behind me...LOL
This was the Rock-N-Roll Halloween-Themed Downtown Los Angeles Half-Marathon. There were nearly 10,000 runners, several rock bands throughout the course, many Halloween costumes and great snacks and goodies at the end of the race.

The little sissy with me after the race!!

I’m glad I was able to complete this physical challenge and I think I’m going to continue training to run the LA Marathon in March 2014, God willing!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall Festivities with the Boo-Boo

In my house, as long as there’s kids in the picture, we’ll be celebrating the seasons!!
I can’t say how excited my sisters and I were growing up knowing that every holiday was a reason to celebrate. In the Fall, there were pumpkins and Halloween. The winter brought tamales, posadas and big Christmas Parties. Spring brought Easter Egg Hunts and gift baskets, etc. etc.
This year, Benny and I have had a lot of fun celebrating all the different holidays but the Fall has been particularly full of activities. 

First off, we made a trip to Disneyland as soon as the Fall decorations went up. It was sort of a mommy date with Benny since we spent an entire day at both parks. We got on rides together, watched shows and even had lunch at the new Carthay Circle Restaurant inside California Adventure (I had a steak salad with a signature cocktail and Benny had a bowl of pasta with a cup of apple juice).

Enjoying a fancy lunch at Carthay Circle Restaurant 

On another day, we enjoyed the Hurst Ranch’s Annual Fall Festival in West Covina, where Benny pet a donkey and couldn’t stop staring at a little llama.

Hi Little Llama!

Then, we went to a pumpkin patch in Monrovia, where Benny crawled in between the pumpkins and helped mommy pick out three of them for carving purposes (somehow two of them ended up at my parents’ house, uncarved…hehehe).

My cousin Cindy hosts a yearly Halloween Cookie Decorating Party and even though Benny's too young to decorate cookies, I took him and he enjoyed spending time with his cousins Franco, Iris and Noah while the older kids decorated.

Benny and his little cousin Iris
The kids decorate their very own Halloween cookies

As far as Halloween, I tried several costumes on Benny and his babysitter dressed him up as Alfalfa from The Little Rascals. Ultimately, though, Benny was most comfortable in a Dinosaur Costume that one of my high school best friends (Elsa) bought him even before he was born! On Halloween night, we greeted trick-or-treaters at the door but when it came to handing out candy, Benny wouldn’t release the chocolate bars from his little hands…LOL!

The fall has been a lot of fun. Now let’s see what Thanksgiving will bring... And I certainly can’t wait to share our winter adventures! By the way, the first official day of winter this year is December 21.