Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Family Outing to the Rose Bowl Flea Market

The Rose Bowl Flea Market offers LA families a fun way to spend a Sunday morning

The saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure" couldn't have felt more accurate on the day we made a trip to the Rose Bowl Flea Market a few Sundays ago.
The truth is, we never intended to visit the flea market.
Paul and I had planned to jog around the Rose Bowl and take turns pushing the kids on their stroller, except, Paul forgot a key adapter and once we arrived, there was no way to connect the seats to the stroller! We were not going to make Benny walk for 3 miles so we walked across the parking lot instead, to check out the ever-so-famous Rose Bowl Flea Market.

Where should I begin?
It was definitely a fun family outing.
For starters, there's a $9 admission fee per person.
My first thought was, geez, eighteen bucks to get through the door, just to shop for old stuff!?
Well, we started by ordering lunch. And of course, we each wanted something different. Good thing there was food for all tastes.

Next, we started walking the dozens of aisles with stuff for sale.
There were many local vendors selling their homemade crafts, which I actually loved.
We tasted and bought a slice of the world's most moist cake, which was delicious.
We saw such things as taxidermy bats, an old carousel horse, Christmas ornaments and bric-a-brac to last a lifetime.

There were some fabulous vintage finds, like glamorous fur coats, authentic bomber jackets, old school mickey phones and decades-old chandeliers.
The kids loved it. Benny had ice cream as he walked and explored junky stuff, like empty Pez containers and asked questions about antique dolls that looked rather creepy.
We bought very little but enjoyed a whole lot, especially because my husband has this ability to make friends and chatted up a storm with several vendors.
Open on the second Sunday of each month, the Rose Bowl flea market has been around for 45 years and features 2,500 vendors every month.

It offers a pretty cool way to spend a Sunday morning in LA County, but be prepared to shell out some cash (an old Ghostbusters pin that Benny liked was offered to us for $50). But it wouldn't be labeled the "shopping place of the stars" for no reason!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Take the Stress out of the Holidays with a Celebrity Cruise!

Here's a stress-free New Year's Eve idea-- head to the ocean!

Ok, so Thanksgiving Day is over. Christmas and New Year's Eve are officially right around the corner!
I didn't have to go through the trouble of prepping, cooking, entertaining and cleaning for yesterday's turkey celebration... My mother-in-law prepared a delicious feast and we enjoyed a great time at her house.
But Christmas will probably be a different story because I do love to host and entertain guests.
And as far as a New Year's Eve celebration-- I'm thinking a top chef dinner overlooking the ocean, a fancy gala event where I can get all dolled up and an awesome concert to end the night. Doesn't that sound great!?

Well, Celebrity Cruises has several holiday cruises with perks and discounts (some that allow you to book into 2018). They start as low as $499 per person but you can book a 7-day Southern Caribbean Cruise or another itinerary sailing over Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's.
By the way, award-winning singer and songwriter Demi Lovato will perform outside Port St. Maarten on December 28, for those guests traveling to the Caribbean!

Fun, right? Also, aboard the cruises some top chefs will be creating unique menus.
I think I need some Vitamin Sea!

Visit Celebrity Cruises for more details or call 1-888-283-6879.

 *This is NOT a sponsored post. I received an email about this promotion and simply wanted to share :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Perfect Car Seat for Toby!

New in 2016: Britax presents the Advocate Clicktight, a state-of-the-art addition to its' collection of highly rated & dependable car seats

A few weekends ago, my husband Paul and I had the honor of becoming little Ricky's godparents (story here).
The baptism mass was held at 10am about an hour away from home, in Long Beach, CA. 

Paul and I knew from the get go that we'd have a very busy morning so we split up parental responsibilities in order to make it to the mass on time. 
My tasks were to bathe and dress the boys and get them seated and buckled up for the road trip to Long Beach.

Paul would pick up his suit at the dry cleaners, make breakfast and pack the diaper bag.
Well, I impressed myself because I was able to get everything done, including my own hair and make-up, without Paul reminding me that I "take too long"! We arrived at the church with plenty of time before the baptism mass started.

My fast & efficient morning performance (lol) was due in part to the ease of installing our new car seat, the Britax Advocate Clicktight with Anti-Rebound Bar. I first learned about it here.

It's a big car seat. It's a bit heavy too but it's incredibly easy to install. Once you have it secured in place, this seat does not move. Period. It's also very comfortable. I say this because Toby has fallen asleep every time we've buckled him in (something that didn't quite happen with his old car seat).

Other cool things about the Advocate ClickTight:
3 layers of side impact protection, an impact-absorbing base, steel frame, and an anti-rebound bar for maximum safety.
  • The Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB) minimizes forces associated with crashes by stabilizing the car seat when installed rear-facing.
  • Rest assured your child’s harness is within range of proper tightness thanks to the Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator.
  • Premium padding and fabrics wrap your child in comfort.
- See more at: https://us.britax.com/car-seats/advocate-clicktight-arb/#sthash.ka0le5N6.dpuf
* It offers 3 layers of side impact protection
* The Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB) minimizes forces associated with crashes by stabilizing the car when installed rear-facing. 
* It has an impact absorbing base which compresses to reduce the rough force of a collision
* Features a 7-position recline which makes for easy angle adjustment
* Proudly engineered, tested and made in the USA

Need I say more? Well, there is plenty more to be said about this car seat! You can read all about it & watch demo videos on the Britax Website.
The Britax Advocate ClicktTight retails for about $439 and it's worth every single penny. 
I'm just thrilled to own this super sturdy and reliable car seat that can be installed so easily. So proud to have my Toby finally enjoy the comfort and ease of a Britax product, just like big brother Benny did.
By the way, the trips to and from the baptism and proceeding reception were very smooth. Conclusion: a comfy car seat means a happy baby.  A safe and sturdy car seat means happy parents. And when baby and parents are happy inside the car, we've reached success. 

Britax ClickTight Knowledge Center

User guides & Instructional Videos

Thank you, Britax!

*This is a sponsored post. I received a Britax ClickTight Advocate Car Seat in exchange for a review on this blog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving turkey legs for dessert!

Here's a sweet turkey-themed treat to follow your turkey dinner!

When I first saw these on the Hallmark channel, I knew I had to recreate them! They are too darn adorable but the host on the television channel made them really large. I wanted to try a mini version and here they are...

Ingredients: butter, rice cereal, mini pretzel sticks, white candy melts & marshmallows

Directions: 1. Start by making your favorite rice crispy treat recipe. I melted butter, marshmallows and added the rice cereal

2. Dip the pretzel stick in the melted candy and stick two small pieces of marshmallow on each side.
3. This is what it should look like to create a drumstick bone effect.

When the rice cereal dessert is done, make small balls and mold them to look like ovals:

You place the rice cereal treat ovals over the candy covered pretzel sticks and dessert is served!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza, please!

This month, we are focusing on a delicious Indian Cooking Sauce, found inside our November Degustabox!

In our November Degustabox, we had so many awesome goodies, we had a hard time deciding which one we'd want to highlight! There was everything from delicious jerky to dark chocolate with blueberries and salted caramel coffee! 

On this occasion, my husband was in the mood for chicken pizza one evening when he arrived from work and I had all ingredients but the traditional pizza sauce... So I went into the pantry and found a glass jar of Sharwood's Tikka Masala Indian Cooking Sauce that had arrived in the November Degustabox.

Instead of using the traditional marinara sauce, I used the Tikka Masala cooking sauce and our pizza turned out scrumptious! Even Benny, our oldest son asked for second and third slices.  The sauce is described as "a classic curry with tomatoes, yoghurt, mild chilli and cream". It's made with a handful of ingredients and contains no preservatives, no artificial colors and no added MSG.

It's very easy to make this pizza.
These are the ingredients:
* 1 large pizza crust
* 2 Chicken breasts
* 1 TBSP cooking oil
* 1 jar Sharwood's Tikka Masala Sauce
* 1.5 cups grated cheese (I used a cheddar & Mozzarella mix)
* Cilantro for garnish

Start by cubing the chicken breasts.
Heat the oil on a pan and add the chicken to the oil; Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add Sharwood's Tikka Masala Sauce to the pan and mix well with the chicken.
Pour and distribute the chicken & sauce mix over the pizza crust.
Add cheese and cilantro over the chicken.
Place in the oven for 12 minutes.
Allow for it to cool off and... dinner is ready!

It's really darn yummy!
Just another reason why we love our Degustabox subscription... we're stepping out of the box and creating new ways of enjoying food at home with ingredients we would have probably never tried otherwise. Next time I go grocery shopping, I'll likely pick up a jar of Sharwood's.

By the way, Degustabox is a monthly food box subscription that costs $20 (including shipping).
I've shared many recipes based on awesome food products delivered inside my Degustabox, including:

July Cantaloupe Drink
August Mini Donuts
September Ratatouille Shrimp
October Harvest Snack

For more information on Degustabox, click here.

Hope you join and have some food adventures!
Thanks for reading :)

*I received a free Degustabox for a review on this blog

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ways to Repurpose Halloween Costumes-- Part I

This is the first of 3 posts showing how we're re-using our Halloween costumes (and keeping the kids entertained while we're at it!)

Halloween is so much fun, isn't it? But it's over in a blink of an eye!
In 2016, it was reported by the National Retail Federation that people spent over $8 billion dollars on Halloween, with the most amount of money ($3.5 Billion) going to Halloween costumes.
I know I'm guilty of buying my boys more than one costume...
How could I not?
With so many adorable options and the boys growing so fast, I couldn't help myself.
But then I started thinking--
Is it possible that their costumes will only be good for one month of the year?
What can I do to maximize their costume fun outside of trick-or-treating?
And, what's a creative way to justify the expense that will almost certainly be acquired again next year?
So I decided it was time to get creative and schedule some play dates.

I bought a few large, neon project boards at the dollar store and created planets and stars and dizzy circles out of them. This was done to make a planet scene and get the boys and their guests in full Space Ranger mode...

It all took place in a planet far, far away named...my backyard!  And all the space heroes going around made this morning too fun for us mommies who were standing by in case of a meteor meltdown! I placed all the Buzz Lightyears from around the house in different areas of the yard and their mission, among others was to escape the "asteroid ghosts".

The pretend spaceship skeleton was from Benny's 2nd birthday and was made out of PVC pipe.
I also turned a regular dart board into a space target, trying to mimic scenes from the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride at Disneyland.

You should try this at home... It's not too complicated and it's the kind of stuff memories are made of!
The Buzz Lightyear costumes will probably come out of the box a few more times...and they'll be transported to Infinity and Beyond!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Wonderful Baptism to End a Crazy Week

My husband Paul and I were honored to be the godparents of a sweet baby boy over the weekend.

The days following the presidential election were quite hard for our family. And it had nothing to do with a stubborn reaction to preferring one political party over another.
I tend to keep my political and religious beliefs to myself in order to avoid controversy and because my government job highly encourages neutrality.
Still, my husband and I had lengthy discussions at home about ways to promote love and tolerance of all cultures and respect for all religions in raising our boys, following the election.
By the time Saturday came around, we were feeling a new sense of hope, especially because it was the day we'd be baptizing little Ricky, whose dad is one of Paul's best friends (and whose mom is one of my favorite girlfriends).

The baptism was perfect. Baby Ricky didn't cry as they poured the holy water on his forehead. He simply blinked slowly... I got emotional and almost cried! It was such a sweet moment.

Ricky with his nino Paul

Later at the Garcia home, we celebrated with tacos, drinks and sweets. Connie, who is Ricky's mom decorated their backyard beautifully with fresh flowers and hanging crowns.
It was such a great way to end an otherwise gloomy week!

Flowers by: Connie Garcia Florals

Babies give me so much inspiration to stay positive and offer the best of me.  This baptism was a great reminder to always aim at instilling in the younger generations a sense of compassion,  kindness toward all people, a deep faith in God and a great love of country, regardless of who's in power.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cuteness & Cultura -- Greeting Cards With Cultural Flair

There's a new bilingual/bicultural greeting card shop that is beyond cute!
It's called Sweet Llamita and you will fall in love... 

Did you know I'm still old fashioned when it comes to writing notes and sending greeting cards through the US Postal Service (as opposed to online)?
It's true.
In my opinion, there's something about the written word that can never be matched by an email or an e-Card, and trust me I've used the latter plenty of times but I love writing and receiving hand written notes!
A few years back, I went on a shopping spree for cards and bought enough to commemorate all occasions for years ahead (sorry friends if you've received the same birthday card from me, several years in a row...). But my stash is finally dwindling and I decided it was time to purchase a few new cards for my collection.

This is my blank note card stash. I love to write notes!

This is how I've organized my greeting cards. Believe it or not, there used to be MANY more than what you see here.

That's when I came across Sweet Llamita.
Their cards are simple yet meaningful because they convey thoughts of the Mexican-upbringing type.
If you grew up in a Mexican home, then you know that no matter how awful the tumble or how painful the fall, as a little kid your mom would always say: "Sana, sana colita de rana si no sanas hoy, sanaras manana"  Translation: "Heal, heal, little froggy butt. If you don't heal today, you'll be fine again tomorrow."
It always made us feel better, if anything because the sing-songy chant distracted from the pain.

Well, Sweet Llamita has a "get well soon" card that reminds us of those good ol' childhood stumbles:

"Chiquita pero picosa" is sort of an interpretation of Shakespeare's famous line from A Midsummer Night's Dream "Though she be but little, she is fierce". A feel good card for your favorite girlfriend:

And if you just wanna be like me and write your lover boy (aka husband) a love note, just because-- there's a card for that too:

These are only a few of many cute and clever cards currently on sale at the Sweet Llamita website.
Check them out:

*Not a compensated post.

For other Cuteness & Cultura posts, click here and here and here.

Thanks for reading!