Monday, July 18, 2016

Our Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus Experience

We went to the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus last week at the Staples Center. It was opening night and I received a few media passes in exchange for a review on my blog.

The show, the stunts and the comedy were ALL truly spectacular. After all, the circus known as "The Greatest Show on Earth" has to, in some way, live up to the expectation of its name alone. My baby Toby was totally in awe with the performances! My 3-year old Benny had tons of questions like, "Mama, what happens if she falls?" and "Mama, is the floor slippery?" 

The Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus offers a close-up look at human agility and ability. From the most critical viewpoint, there's no question the show is fantastic and has an immensely talented cast of performers. It's a colorful, vivid and fast moving experience. 

This year's show, "Out of This World", is a space-themed adventure where audiences get to see a lot of bright, neon action! Imagine such feats as stuntmen dressed as astronauts, balancing beams atop a moving wheel and giant planet-looking spheres draped in unique, bold, space colors that suddenly unveil female contortionists inside... It's awesome!
I watched a giant pig go down a slide, which made me laugh out loud and seeing the clowns run around with their hats on fire made my son Benny have one of those never-ending and contagious laughing attacks. 
Now to the not-so-good part: Getting into the circus, which will offer nightly performances in three different arenas through August 7, may be uncomfortable and distracting-- and not necessarily in a bad way, although at first it may feel intrusive. I'll explain.

When we arrived at the Staples Center in Downtown LA, a huge group of animal rights protesters stood in front of of the main entrance trying to get everyone to think twice about going inside.
Their argument: wild animals should not be forced to perform and travel in what they describe as "cruel" conditions.
Side note: The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, took the Ringling Brothers Circus to court over their use of elephants during circus acts and as of this year, the circus no longer featured the pachyderms.
Nonetheless, there's still a lion and tiger act that's quite impressive but had me sweating and feeling WAY. TOO. NERVOUS. 

The lion tamer, a wildly brave Alexander Lacey, was probably nervous too, on opening night.
I wasn't the only person to sense this but the cats were getting aggravated and starting to act aggressive. A lioness at one point growled and clutched its fangs at Alexander. One of the tigers was refusing to cooperate. As the performance progressed, the cats seemed increasingly irritated.
The truth is, the big cats are simply out of their element. 
I kept thinking "OMG. How traumatizing for kids if the cats decide to rebel and attack their tamer!"

Throughout his performance, the tamer had a whip and lashed it out frequently, which made me wonder: How often does he give these wild cats a physical reprimand during rehearsals? 

For as much as the circus provides a chance to get a close glimpse of human interaction with wild animals, I kept telling my husband that I feared it was only a matter of time before one of those animals snaps, causing chaos and tragedy in front of thousands. What was once perhaps a passing thought started becoming a very permanent idea: the circus is not a place for wild animals. 

With this in mind, I'm not dissuading anyone from going to the circus. The horse show will make anyone proud of what humans can achieve with domesticated animals. The popcorn and snacks for sale carried up and down the stands make it fun and a perfect excuse to have a cheat meal. 

The circus is such an important element of American entertainment history (Ringling Brothers is 142 years old) that it's worth giving your children the chance to experience it, just be understanding of the protesters outside. They've definitely got a point too. 

Ticket information here.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Degustabox Review

I know you'll agree when I say there's something exciting about receiving a box of goodies in the mail, right?
This month, I received my first ever Degustabox.
It's a food box service already running in five European countries that recently launched in the US. The company's goal is to help customers discover new flavors and break the habit of buying the same ol' items.
Each month, the Degustabox features at least ten full-size products for a membership prize that's less than what you would pay in store ($20/month).
I don't know about you but for starters, that sounds pretty cool.
So what's the catch?

Well, as in everything else, there may be products that you don't necessarily love, which is great because the only way you would know that is by trying them.
Also, some products may be fairly familiar with your palate already (my Degustabox arrived with a bag of Haribo Sour Gummy Bears, which I buy regularly).

But what's really cool is that each Degustabox arrives with recipe ideas for some of the products that you don't buy regularly, if ever. 
In our case, we used the Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce to season salmon fillets for dinner one night and they were simply delicious. I had never tried this soy-based sauce but my husband says he lived off this stuff in college.
We also tried the JIF Cinnamon-flavored peanut butter and it was very good on a slice of toast with raisins on top.
Every Degustabox also features a product of the month.
For July, it was the Topo Chico Mineral Water from Monterrey, Mexico.
The Topo Chico Mineral Water came in handy for a refreshing summer drink.
I used it to make a Cantaloupe melon beverage and it was the perfect afternoon juice.

To make this drink you'll need:

*2 cups of Cantaloupe
*1 lime
*1/2 cup coconut water
*1/4 cup Topo Chico Mineral Water 

You blend the fruit and coconut water, squeeze the lime into the mix and serve on a glass with ice.
Then you top it off with Topo Chico (about 1/4 cup when served in a Mason Jar) and you have a fantastically refreshing drink, full of potassium, vitamins and minerals...yum!

But I digress.
The Degustabox gave us quite a few delectable experiences at the dinner table and for that reason, I say it's a good idea to try the service.

For those who are a little more ambitious, signing up also means a chance to get free boxes.
Degusta offers a point program where a person gets one free box for every hundred points gathered. Referring a friend alone gets you 50 points. 

You in?

Happy Weekend,

I received a free Degustabox in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

The Waypoint Cafe-- A Fun Place to Brunch with your Airplane-Lovin' Kids!

The Waypoint Cafe in Camarillo is a place where you can fly-in for breakfast (I'm not kidding-- there are even pilot instructions on the restaurant's website).
It's located adjacent to the small Camarillo Airport in Ventura County, CA.
The place is close enough to LA to make a morning trip and enjoy good food and drinks, while your kids run on a pretend runway and watch real Cessna Jets land and takeoff! 
We spent Father's Day morning at the Waypoint Cafe with my husband, my dad and my dear uncle Rafael.
We hung out in the cafe's backyard overlooking the planes as Benny ran with new buddies whose parents were also waiting to be buzzed to their tables.
The ladies enjoyed pineapple mimosas while the men had 805 Beer, which was pretty appropriate considering Camarillo's area code is *805*.
Once inside I went with the Berry French Toast, because...why not!
My sister ordered a veggie omelet with fruit and we shared-- both plates were awesome!
Benny colored on airplane-themed placemats waiting for his small order of pancakes.
The mood was very chill, reminiscent of a beach restaurant. Oh wait, the Oxnard beach is only a few miles
But honestly, The Waypoint Cafe nice little place to spend a weekend morning. 
If you don't believe me, just ask Benny.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The circus is coming to just a few more days!

I will be taking my sons Benny and Toby to the circus in a few days!
I'm excited because The Ringling Brothers & Barnun & Bailey Circus is coming to town and they're promising an innovative new space-themed show titled "Out of this World".
What's funny is that this week happens to be "circus week" at Benny's preschool and they're doing a bunch of  circus-themed activities so he's definitely getting hyped about attending the real circus.

Out of this World will make its debut at the LA Staples Center, July 14 - 19... See you there!? 

If you're not able to catch the Downtown L.A. show, it will be at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario from July 21 - 26, followed by performances at the Honda Center in Anaheim from July 29 - August 7. You can purchase your tickets online by visiting 

I'll be attending opening night with my little guys so make sure to check back to read my true and honest review. I do know one thing though-- the show no longer features elephants due to pressure from animal rights groups and a lawsuit that ultimately got settled. The absence of elephants in the show actually makes me feel better about going and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

For now, here's a couple of silly pictures of Benny and I, playing circus at home last year. LOL

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July Weekend Getaway

Spontaneous weekend getaways usually turn out to be the funnest and most memorable, especially when they happen on a holiday weekend.
We just returned from Pine Mountain Club, a quaint and cozy mountainside town about an hour and a half away from the San Fernando Valley.
My husband's cousin owns a cabin there and this cabin, which is usually rented most of the year, happened to be available this weekend, so we took off!
Sigh. Smiles. Happiness.
How nice it is to disconnect from the busy LA life and have a family retreat in a warm and lovely cabin! 
I tried to make our trip really festive and create fun Independence Day memories.
That's why you'll see quite a few pictures with red white & blue!
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Before the trip, we started getting into the 4th of July spirit with candy apples at home.
Pine Mountain Club is located in Kern County, a perfect getaway when you have small kids and don't want to spend hours traveling to your destination.

I made a 4th of July inspired pancake breakfast. These are supposed to be blue fireworks. The stars were made from strawberries.
Benny's been taking swim lessons... which made our visit to the community swimming pool, less stressful

Keeping with the red, white, blue-- I made some adult beverages with 7-up, vodka and a cherry on top. Two drops of blue food dye made these the perfect holiday afternoon drink. 

Due to the fire hazard in mountain regions, fireworks are not allowed... but nobody said we couldn't have a mad glow-in-the-dark patriotic party!!!