FruiTea2Go™ – Fruit and Veggie Infused Water Bottles!

During these hot summer days, it is really important to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! As you know, I try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week, so I am always drinking water – especially pre & post workout. Often times I like to put lemon or cucumber slices in my water. However the little bits of fruits & veggies sometimes get sucked up into the straws of my water tumblers. So what’s a person to do when you really want fruit or veggie infused H2O? FruiTea2Go™ is the solution!

FruiTea2Go_blueberries

This is such a cool invention! All you have to do is cut your fruit &/or veggies that you want to include in your water.

FruiTea2Go_slicedveggies

Then you drop it into the chamber & screw the top to seal it in.

My first time trying it, I wanted to have cucumber water. For some reason, sipping on chilled cucumber water makes me think that I am at the spa when in reality I am at the gym sweating it out in the Valley.  :)

FruiTea2Go_cucumber

I also tried a fruit combination of blueberries & lemon slices!

FruiTea2Go_lemon

There are countless combinations that you could make for your own custom fruit or veggie infused water! For recipe ideas, you might want to check out the FruiTea2Go™ website.

 Tell me, what fruit or veggie recipe would you want to try in a FruiTea2Go™ Bottle?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary FruiTea2Go™ Bottle which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

Sandbox Fitness: Come Exercise on the Beach in Sherman Oaks!

Just last week I was invited to attend classes at Sandbox Fitness in Sherman Oaks. This studio is located on Ventura Blvd, near Woodman Avenue. When you first walk inside the studio, you’ll notice right away the beach-like vibe. Instantly I felt calmer, as being near the ocean always makes me feel more relaxed & centered (even in a faux one such as this).  :)

SandboxFit_Beach

SandboxFit_Lobby

All of the classes are taught in the sandbox. The sand comes from Cal Silica & is non-toxic AND silica-free. You are allowed to go barefoot or you can purchase “sand socks” which they sell in the lobby area. As many of you know, I suffer from plantar fasciitis. I wasn’t sure how this was going to feel, so I made sure to tape up my foot really well with KT Tape.

The thing about going barefoot in the sand is that it cushions your feet really well. In fact when I took the classes at Sandbox, I noticed it actually felt better to do TRX barefoot in the sand than in my workout shoes at my local gym. The sand really conforms to your heels & feet, hugging it in such a way that I felt more stable than I had thought I would. I’m not a professional & who knows what my podiatrist would say about it. All I can say is that for me, it did not aggravate my foot or cause my heel pain to flare up.

Tidal Turbulence
The very first class that I took was called Tidal Turbulence. This class, taught by Tonni, combined a type of fitness class that I love (TRX) with Surfset, which is class that is done on a surfboard-type of equipment. It is unstable & you are meant to wobble at first (like I did) but then you will eventually get your balance & just flow with it.

After a light warm-up, Tonni took us through some TRX moves that I was familiar with. It was a really good workout. Then after a while, she had us hop onto the Surfset & do balancing exercises that really worked our core, legs & arms. Since it was my first time channeling my “inner surfer girl” it was a challenge for me to get the board steady. Tonni was really great about helping me balance, remembering to breathe & making modifications. There were several exercises that I had to modify & perform on top of the board with my knees & not full on in a plank position (with my toes). Tonni explained afterwards that these were all great modifications & that in time I would be able to do it in full plank without the wobble.

SandboxFit_TidalTurbulence

TRX
Minna, the co-owner of Sandbox Fitness, taught the TRX class that I took the very next day. I’m not sure what I was thinking about taking back to back classes, but I did just fine. I was sore while performing the TRX moves, but I made it through! One thing to note is that I am used to taking 30 minute TRX classes. The class at Sandbox Fitness is about 45 minutes long (not counting the cool down). I really enjoyed it, as I knew that I would. The longer session & being on the sand really made for a great TRX class.

SandboxFit_Minna

Beach Yoga
This was the last class that I took at Sandbox & it was nice to save it for last. After all of the things that I put my poor muscles through, I really wanted to stretch my body & be mindful of how it felt. Stacey’s yoga class was exactly what I needed after a week of exercise. I had also driven a lot that week, attending various work functions. You know how you can sit in a car during a 45 minute to an hour traffic jam & just feel your shoulders & neck tense up? Taking a good yoga class will cure that.

Stacey’s voice was very calm & soothing. Her vibe & general presence was really nice, which helped because she came over several times to make tiny corrections & reposition my body. Btw, I like taking yoga, but I don’t take it often enough. So when I do take yoga classes, it always takes me a while to remember how to get into that stance or move my arms into a certain position. My favorite pose of the whole entire class was the pigeon pose. It really opened up my hips & legs. After the class, I had mentioned to Stacey that my sciatica flares up on occasion & that I was going to practice that stretch on a regular basis to help prevent the sciatica from coming back.

Here’s me doing one of my signature moves! Just kidding…it’s Stacey looking fab out on the sand.

SandboxFit_Yoga

I cannot say enough about Sandbox Fitness! This place is SO cool, I love their classes & best of all, it is in the Valley!! I could easily see this type of studio in West Hollywood or Santa Monica. The fact that it is in Sherman Oaks is awesome for me because I don’t have to take the dreaded 405 freeway to get there! However if there was one fitness studio that is worth the drive, it is definitely Sandbox Fitness!

Tell me, out of all the classes that I described in this review, which one would you like to take?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I attended complimentary classes which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Meet Selene B. Kepila of Naked Infusions Salsa

Recently I tried out a new salsa brand that is SO fresh & delicious! It’s made with organic ingredients sourced from local California farms. I personally love fresh made salsa, but honestly I don’t always have the time to make it. For those looking for a really great, smooth yet rich tasting salsa, then you might want to give NAKED infusions a try! I will be giving my review of the product line next week. In the meantime, please meet the latest Real Mom of the SFV, Selene B. Kepila – founder of NAKED infusions.

(Photo credit: Selene B. Kepila)
(Photo credit: Selene B. Kepila)

How/why did you begin your business?
Selene: I began my business out of a desire to share salsa that I grew up with with others. There was no leading jarred salsa and I felt I could solve that problem. I reinvented the recipe by memory and hired a co-packer and other experts to help me market and sell.

As a working mother, what is one tip or piece of advice that you would give to other female entrepreneurs?
Selene: Stay balanced. Between work and family life.

What do you like best about having a business in the San Fernando Valley?
Selene: There are lots of conscious people looking for satisfying and healthy food.

If there was one thing you wish you knew before you began your business, what would that be?
Selene: How much money it takes to bring a product to market.

Selene’s company NAKED infusions is based in Calabasas. Personally I’m so glad that something wholesome & good for you has come out of Calabasas, unlike some of those reality TV stars that start with a “K” or that Bieber kid. Lol…

Seriously though, I love this salsa brand. You’ll have to check back next week for more info on it! In the meantime, check out their website. If you live in California, their products are sold in Sprouts & Whole Foods.

Have you heard of NAKED infusions salsa or seen it on store shelves? Now that you know where to find it, will you give it a try?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. The image shown in this post is used with permission. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

New Trailer & Poster Revealed for Penguins of Madagascar!

My daughter just cannot wait to see Penguins of Madagascar! We had seen a trailer a few weekends ago at the movie theater.

(Photo credit: 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation)
(Photo credit: 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation)

I recently found out that 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation have just released a NEW clip and poster for THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, featuring everyone’s favorite, mysterious birds!

Discover the secrets of the most entertaining and mysterious birds in the global espionage game: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private now must join forces with the chic spy organization, the North Wind, led by Agent Classified, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich, from taking over the world.

For more movie info, check out  the official website for Penguins of Madagascar & also follow them on Facebook!

Are you or your kids excited about this movie that will be released on November 26, 2014? Do you like it when studios release new movies around Thanksgiving? I do, as it gives us something to do the day after!

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received information about this movie release & simply wanted to share it with my readers. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Anime Expo 2014 in Downtown Los Angeles

Earlier this month I attended my very first Anime Expo. This was my very first conference in the anime industry. It’s funny that when I worked in the toy industry many moons ago, I had several opportunities to go to Comic-Con. Back then the focus was more on comic books & the toy industry that surrounded those characters. Comic-Con has now evolved into more of a pop culture festival. Sure you still have comic book fans that head down to San Diego. However somewhere along the way, when the Twilight fans emerged in 2010 & stormed Hall H, Comic-Con turned into more of a film fest for big studios/TV meet & greet for television shows. I’m not knocking it, in fact I would love to attend Comic-Con one day! However for people who are really into anime, the Anime Expo (AX) in DTLA is the place to be!

When I arrived on Thursday, which was the first day of AX, you could feel the excitement in the air. I made my way over to the press/media section so that I could collect my badge. All attendees received a goodie bag & a fun Dragon Ball Z crown/headpiece. The goodie bag contained a Anime Expo program, map of the convention hall areas & other assorted items. However I knew that the one item that would score some points from my kiddo was the Dragon Ball Z paper headpiece!

AX_Goodie Bag_PressBadge

There were SO many cool costumes! I found out that these intricate pieces take months to create, so people are quite proud AND happy to pose for pictures.

AX_CostumesAX_Costumes1

Since I had a little bit of time to wait before the Women in Pop Culture panel started, I checked out one of the smaller halls with some merchandise & electronic items in it. It was in this hall that I saw Hello Kitty clothing for sale from Japan LA. Being a big Hello Kitty fan, I had to buy a skirt that I hope to wear at Hello Kitty Con later this October.

AX_SmallHall

AX_SmallHall2

Eventually it was time to head over to the Women in Pop Culture panel.

AX_WomenInPopSign

The panel was moderated by Cassandra Peterson (aka Elivera). Rileah Vanderbilt & Clare Grant (from Team Unicorn), singer Noelle Bean & Danielle Vasinova made up the panel. Sho Murase was supposed to be there but wasn’t able to attend. The women talked about pop culture, anime & breaking barriers in the entertainment industry.

AX_WomenInPopPanel

Here is a snippet of Rileah giving props to Cassandra Peterson who played Elivra in film & TV.

Singer Noelle Bean also performed her hit Lois Lane. Here’s a clip: http://instagram.com/p/qADtLDiFA8/?modal=true

If you want to hear the song in its entirety, check out this YouTube video:

After the Women in Pop Culture panel, I made my way down to the front to talk briefly with Team Unicorn & Noelle Bean. They graciously agreed to pose for pics.

AX_TeamUnicorn

AX_MeAndSingerBean

Then it was time for me to walk the giant showroom. So much merchandise! I knew Hello Kitty would have merch here, but who knew that llamas (or alpacas) would be a thing?!

AX_Merch

Cool display of Batman & Superman figures!

AX_TeamUnicorn_Batman-SuperDisplay

Of course I had to stop at a Hello Kitty booth where they were promoting the latest mobile game app.

AX_HelloKitty

I walked around a little bit more, but then I was starving so I left to go outside to the food truck area & grabbed a very late lunch. I wasn’t able to go back for the rest of the weekend at Anime Expo (due to work commitments). All in all it was a very cool expo to experience!

Have you been to Anime Expo? How about Comic-Con? Which do you like better & why?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I attended Anime Expo as a member of the media. I was under no obligation to write about my experience, but I wanted to share it with my readers.  All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

Zola Coconut Water Lemonade

Like a lot of my fellow fitness friends, I enjoy coconut water. I recently tried a new drink from Zola that contains the perfect blend of tart & sweet. What is that drink? It’s Zola Coconut Water Lemonade! This drink contains coconut water, lemonade, Vitamin C (yay!) and cane sugar, among other items. It’s also gluten-free & dairy-free.

ZolaCoconutWater_Lemonade

But how does it taste? I really like it! It’s not overly sugary tasting like most lemonade. My husband & daughter love their sweet lemonade, which is why I rarely drink it or have it with an iced tea (Arnold Palmer style). With a Zola Coconut Water Lemonade, you get the refreshing taste of a lemonade, plus the health benefits from coconut water. Win-win…

I also received a few other goodies in my care package from Zola, which their company motto is Live Live to the Fullest!

ZolaCoconutWater_Package

Inside this care package were cans of Zolo Coconut Water with Pulp, Coconut Water without Pulp & Coconut Water with Expresso! I’m not a fan of pulp. I don’t even like it in my orange juice. So I am glad that I got to try it with & without pulp. The Expresso drink gave me a little kick that I needed after my workout.

ZolaCoconutWater_Pckg contents

We are in the midst of a heatwave in Los Angeles, with highs in the Valley at 100+ degrees. So I really enjoyed that cold Coconut Water with Expresso, which has as much caffeine as a 2 oz. shot of expresso. Plus the calorie & fat content of this drink is lower than a blended coffee drink that you would get from your local coffee chain!

(Image credit: Zola)
(Image credit: Zola)

So the next time you find yourself wanting a refreshing drink, you might want to consider one of the coconut waters from Zola!

ZolaCoconutWater_Cup
Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received complimentary samples of Zola which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

Meet Marni Rosenthal Chaikin of Pure Barre Woodland Hills

I tried out Pure Barre in Woodland Hills a couple of times earlier this month. I needed to try something that was out of my comfort zone, especially since I had been away for 2 weeks on a summer vacation. When I found out that one of the co-owner’s lives in the San Fernando Valley AND is a mom to a young daughter, I just knew that I had to interview Marni for my new series on the blog.

So SFV followers, please meet Marni Rosenthal Chaikin, the latest Real Mom of the SFV!

(Photo credit: Marni Rosenthal Chaikin)
(Photo credit: Marni Rosenthal Chaikin)

How/why did you begin your business?
Marni: I was a professional dancer and Pilates instructor working freelance.  I got to a place in my life where I wanted to build something a little more concrete and have a place to call home. I was in New York City dancing while living in LA and took a barre class and fell in love. I did some research once I got back to LA and there was very little to choose from at the time in terms of Barre classes. Coincidentally, around that time I joined  a women’s entrepreneurial networking group called Ladies who Launch and, on first meeting, in walked the founder of, what was then, a small company known as Pure Barre. Carrie Dorr, our founder impressed me on so many levels. We got to know each other and before long she offered me the first license in LA (at the time it was a licensing program-we have since become a bonafide franchise). I knew Pure Barre was going to be huge. I fell in love with the high I got from running my own business and what Pure Barre itself did for me both physically and spiritually.  It’s been a win win situation from the start.

As a working mother, what is one tip or piece of advice that you would give to other female entrepreneurs?
Marni: It’s impossible to get it all done.  When you have your own business you could feasibly working from the time you wake up until the moment your head hits the pillow.  Prioritize and strategize.  Learn to say no.  I try to make a minimum of an hour each day where I turn off my ringer, shut down my computer and focus solely on my daughter to give her quality one on one time. It means so much to her and to me. When I return to my work I am so much more refreshed and at ease knowing that we had that time together that has really mattered.

What do you like best about having a business in the San Fernando Valley?
Marni: The SFV is so SO community oriented.  I can’t believe how at home I feel at my Woodland Hills location. People are so loving and dedicated and many clients have become like family to me and my business partner Kayla.  It’s a small town feel in the middle of a big city existence and that is so refreshing in LA!

If there was one thing you wish you knew before you began your business, what would that be?
Marni: I wish  I knew that it was okay to delegate. When I opened my first location in early 2009 I thought I had to do everything myself. I worked 24/7 and didn’t think there was any other way to be successful.  Learn what your strengths are and capitalize on those.  Then surround yourself with people that excel in the areas where you might be weak and delegate delegate, delegate!

I just love Marni’s advice, don’t you? Marni not only co-owns the one in Woodland Hills, but she also co-owns the Pure Barre studios in Brentwood & Santa Monica!

Have you been to a Pure Barre fitness studio? If so, what did you think & if not, what’s stopping you? Sound off in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. The image shown in this post is used with permission. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

JicaChips™ – All Natural Jicama Chips Product Review

Ever since I got back from my vacations in Utah & Arizona, I’ve been making it a point to eat healthier snacks. I’ve had jicama in salads & as a garnish in other items, but I never thought about it as something that I would regularly snack on. So when I heard about JicaChips, I was very intrigued.

JicaChips_4Pack

JicaChips come in four flavors: Sea Salt, Smoked BBQ, Cinnamon Sugar & Spicy Szechuan. They are made from real jicama slices & baked (yes that’s right – baked, not fried). JicaChips are low in calorie, low in carbs & have 3 times the fiber of oatmeal! My cousin who is a registered dietician & also my friends who are into nutrition will be happy to know that these are gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO & 100% All Natural . In fact, these chips are made with olive oil, spices & pure cane sugar (depending on flavor).

(Image credit: JicaChips)
(Image credit: JicaChips)

I tried all four flavors & my personal faves are the Smoked BBQ & Cinnamon Sugar ones. The BBQ one reminded me of a BBQ potato chip, but a much healthier version. I’m not fond of overly sweet snacks, so this Cinnamon Sugar JicaChips satisfied my craving for something sweet.

JicaChips_BBQandCinnSugar

My husband’s personal favorite was the Spicy Szechuan. He likes snacks with a spicy kick!

JicaChips_SpicySzech

Want to know where you can buy these JicaChips? Well for now you can buy them from their online store. However I hear that they are going to roll out in other places in the near future, so check their Facebook or website for updates!

**Update: Get 20% off your first order when you go to their online store & use DISCOUNT Code “jicachips20″**

If you are looking for a healthy alternative to the average chip, you might want to give JicaChips a try!

JicaChips_CloseUpBowl

Do you like jicama? If you could try just one of the JicaChips, which flavor would you buy?

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary sample pack which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

San Fernando Valley Startup Weekend 2014

Last week was the TechLA Startup Summer Jam 2014. The TechLA Conference brought together startups, entrepreneurs & investors in one place to take part in a startup competition, panel discussions & (most importantly) to network. If you missed out on that opportunity, then take note Los Angeles & San Fernando Valley folks because there is a SFV Startup Weekend taking place in a couple of weeks!

(Photo credit: Startup Weekend SFV. Photo used with permission.)
(Photo credit: Startup Weekend SFV. Photo used with permission.)

During the weekend of August 1st-3rd, Gazoozle HQ (located in Burbank), will play host to the SFV Startup Weekend.

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 1800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

During Startup Weekend, you will start a company together with passionate people by:

  • Pitching an idea
  • Forming a team
  • Building a prototype
  • Validating the market
  • Making a business model
  • Winning prizes
  • Gaining new connections

From idea to business in 54 hours!

I don’t have strong roots in the tech industry, but I do know what it is like to have an entrepreneurial spirit (having worked for a startup, as well as working for several female entrepreneurs when I was a VA). The first time I heard about San Fernando Valley Startup Weekend, I immediately thought of it as a cross between Shark Tank & TechCrunch Disrupt. While I don’t think it will be as wild as the way TechCrunch Disrupt was portrayed on HBO’s Silicon Valley, I do think that there is going to be a lot of value gained & lessons learned from this Startup Weekend in the SFV.

Click here for more information & to buy tickets to San Fernando Valley Startup Weekend 2014. For my readers, you can use promo code SFV2014SW to get a 25% discount off the tickets.

Tell me: Do you know anyone with a startup idea or who is an entrepreneur? 

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received information about SFV Startup Weekend & although a post was not required, I wanted to share this with my readers. Photo image used with permission. My thoughts & opinions are 100% my own.

An Insider’s Guide to Using the Opoli App

There are several ride-sharing apps out there in the marketplace. You know the ones, they rhyme with “rift” & “tuber.” ;) However what sets Opoli apart is that this app lets the customer & provider do business one-to-one in real time. Once the connection is made, then Opoli lets you do your thing! Plus, all Opoli drivers are commercially licensed AND insured professional providers. Thus making Opoli rides a safer & better alternative.

(Photo credit: Opoli. Photo used with permission.)
(Photo credit: Opoli. Photo used with permission.)

I had the pleasure of using the Opoli app & scheduling a pick-up so that I could be driven to a part of LA that is known for traffic. I’m talking West Hollywood folks! Getting to WeHo from the SFV is no easy task at times. There is a fitness studio in WeHo that offers a cross between boot camp & CrossFit that I had been dying to try! So naturally I thought, if I am going to be super tired (i.e. legs are dead) afterwards, wouldn’t it be nice to be driven home in style like a rock star?

Using the app is easy. I had it downloaded to an iPhone (hubby’s) & also to my iPod Touch. Note that it’s always best to use it on the iPhone because it works better on that particular Apple platform.

(Photo credit: Opoli. Photo used with permission.)
(Photo credit: Opoli. Photo used with permission.)

First you type in a date & time, plus the address that you want to be picked-up & dropped off at. Then you simply wait for the Opoli App to search for available drivers. Once you get the list, you can read their bio & car description. If you don’t like the price that is listed, you can counter & negotiate. You have the power to make reservations, select your driver, the price & the best part – the car! They have limos, Teslas, town cars, SUVs, etc. What does the driver get out of it? The freedom to collect the whole fare & not pay a commission.
I chose a town car for my experience. The driver was polite & had texted me 15 minutes ahead of time, letting me know that he was outside my home & parked at the curb. Since I was finishing up a blog post, I told him that I would be step outside at the prearranged time. When I was ready, I walked to the town car & he opened my door & offered me a bottled water for the ride into West Hollywood. It was so nice to be able to relax during the drive, check out Twitter & answer work emails during the 45-minute to an hour one-way commute.

Here’s a photo of me kicking back & relaxing in the car. Yes, I have pink workout shoes. :)

Opoli_KickingBackInSeat

I arrived at Sweat Garage in style, completely relaxed & read to workout! (Note: a blog post recapping my experience at Sweat Garage will be posted next week.)

I had already made reservations for a return trip to my home with the same driver. Thank goodness I did because I was dead-tired after that awesome workout! Let me just say that having someone drive you home after an intense workout was great. I nibbled on this yummy cheese broccoli quiche while my driver dealt with the LA traffic. Yay!

Opoli_Snack

Getting driven somewhere is fun times, let me tell you! Doesn’t this sound like a great thing to try for your big night on the town – date night, movie premiere, prom, wedding, etc? Well guess what, you are in luck! I am giving away promo codes to 20 of my followers who are first time riders. These have a $50 value & expires on December 31st, so you have time folks to take advantage of this sweet ride! To enter, please check out my Facebook page for details!

Also Opoli just launched a #FreeRideFriday sweeps for new riders on their Facebook page. You can enter that contest here (after you enter mine first – lol!): https://www.facebook.com/opoliapp/app_143103275748075

Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for this post. I received promo codes for a giveaway & was provided credit for transportation to use at my leisure. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My opinions (as always) are 100% my own.

Opoli is providing $50 promo codes for readers who will be selected via the Real Mom of SFV Facebook contest. Winners will be contacted by me via email. Giveaway ends July 31, 2014 at 12 noon PST. Please note this giveaway is open only to residents of Los Angeles County.