Monthly Archives: November 2013

Need A Sitter For the Holidays?

The following post is sponsored by UrbanSitter.

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December is around the corner & as a busy mom I’ve got a lot on my to-do list. There are holiday parties, parent-teacher conferences and Christmas shopping, among many other things. While I do have family nearby that can watch my daughter, it’s not always possible. That’s why it’s so nice to utilize the services of UrbanSitter, an online resource that connects parents with babysitters.

UrbanSitter started out in San Francisco in 2011, but has quickly expanded to over a dozen cities throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago and San Diego. I learned about UrbanSitter last month through a mom-friend & eagerly checked out the site. I found it to be very user-friendly. The steps are simple: sign into the UrbanSitter website using your Facebook account, create a parent profile, then with a few clicks of the mouse you’ve got a list of babysitters to choose from.

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The great thing about UrbanSitter is that you can look for sitters based on recommendations from friends and parenting networks such as your local YMCA or mommy group. UrbanSitter also has search functions so that you find a babysitter based on their rate, experience, education level , response time & other criteria. Another handy tool that they have is the UrbanSitter iPhone app. It’s so easy & convenient to search for sitters while you are on the go! You can also use the app on your iPad or iPod Touch.

After reading the bios of several babysitters & reviewing their video profiles, I sent a booking request to a sitter located in a town about 15 minutes from my home. She responded within 2 hours (messages are sent  through the UrbanSitter website) & we made arrangements for her to come to my home to watch my daughter later that week, who would be home all day due to a school holiday. The sitter arrived promptly & I chatted with her for about 10 minutes so that I could ask her some questions about her background & babysitting style. How did it go? My daughter loved playing with the sitter while I got to work in my home office, free from distractions. Win-win!!

Parents, are you in need of a babysitter this holiday season or for the new year? Do you live in the LA/San Fernando Valley area? If so, you are in luck! UrbanSitter and Real Mom of SFV invite you to attend a special event in Sherman Oaks. Join us on Friday, December 13th from 5-7pm at Lollipop Dream. You’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the Valley’s newest babysitters, mingle with other parents, enjoy light appetizers & drinks, plus do some holiday shopping!

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Kids are welcome to attend, as we’ll have plenty of kid-friendly snacks & drinks, not to mention plenty of sitters to engage with your little one while you shop the store!

RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/babysitter-meet-greet-with-urbansitter-sherman-oaks-tickets-9451633089

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by UrbanSitter, but all opinions are my own.

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Visiting Crème Caramel in Sherman Oaks

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Earlier this month, I went to Crème Caramel with my daughter for an after school treat. It’s a tiny shop, filled to the brim with delicious sweet & savory treats!

If you’ve visited the various farmers markets in LA, then you may have seen Kristine de la Cruz’s handiwork. For the past 3 years, she has been showcasing her bread puddings & crème caramels at various places such as Atwater Village Farmers Market & Silverlake Farmers Market. This past September, Kristine opened her store on Burbank Blvd. in Sherman Oaks.

Blog26_OwnerKristine de la Cruz (left) with store manager, Liz Beeson

As soon as my daughter pushed through the door of shop, she immediately pressed her face against the display case to look at all of the shop’s goodies. The pumpkin white chocolate bread pudding (a rotating seasonal item) is really yummy! We also tried the Ube Upside Down Pie – wow, so good! For those who aren’t familiar with ube, it’s a purple yam used in many Filipino sweet treats.

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The three items you see below are part of Crème Caramel’s signature desserts: crème caramel (it is similar to flan in texture), ube upside down pie &  vanilla bread pudding. The store offers a Farmers Market Deal: buy four signature desserts, you get $2 off.

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We ended up taking several items home to share: two vanilla custards, an ube pie, vanilla bread pudding & a chocolate chip cookie. Sadly the chocolate chip cookie never made it into our take away box, as a large group of customers came in & things got a little busy behind the counter. Note to self: Always check your items before leaving the store!

Crème Caramel also offers lunch items, but I didn’t try any during this visit. There’s always next time!

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Crème Caramel is located on 14849 Burbank Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91411. There’s free parking behind the building, but I was able to score parking out in front. On nice weather days, there is a table out front for noshing & even a bowl of water for Fido! Visit their website for their holiday menu & store hours.

Blog26_TableOnFront***Crème Caramel will be participating in the Charity Bake Sale to benefit the Philippine Red Cross & victims of Typhoon Haiyan. It’s being held this Saturday, November 23rd at Coolhaus Pasadena, from 10am-1pm. Additional event details can be found here, along with a listing of bakeries/restaurants that are participating.***

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Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are my own.

Sleep Training Advice From Kim West & Natalie Diaz

20131114_110344 Last week I was invited to attend the Sleep Baby Sleep Boot Camp event where I got to meet the experts on sleep training. It was held at the Coop in Studio City, a children’s playspace. Kim West (aka The Sleep Lady) & Natalie Diaz (founder of Twiniversity) gave sleep training tips to the crowd of parents. PhotoGrid_1384914057488Some of those tips include:

  • Consistency is the secret to sleep coaching.
  • Being a well-napped baby helps your child sleep better at night.
  • You have choices with sleep training – use whatever method works best for your family.
  • Both parents need to be a united front & follow the sleep training plan.
  • When you are traveling, always bring along a favorite stuffed animal & nightlight.

Parents also had an opportunity to meet with the sleep training experts one-on-one for a 10 minute session. 20131114_112022 While we waited for our turn with the experts, parents & kids enjoyed lunch. The little ones were having so much fun in the Coop’s bright orange ball pit & dancing on the light-up dance floor. foodEveryone that attended the event donated a package of diapers to the charity organization Baby Buggy & in return got to take home a fabulous gift bag, courtesy of Cloud b!

Blog25_GiftBagDisclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I was invited to a community event, which facilitated this review. All opinions are my own.

Running Around Hollywood – The Hard Rock Cafe 5k

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Last Friday my daughter had the day off of school. Since my hubby took the day off of work, they both accompanied me to Hollywood & Highland so that I could pick-up my bib for the Hard Rock Cafe 5k, which was taking place the next day. My daughter “insisted” that we get Beard Papa cream puffs & I was like – “wait, we hadn’t even had lunch yet!” So we got a half-dozen in a box to go. Since my husband is rarely in this part of town he suggested that we grab lunch at ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen (on the corner of Sunset & Vine). How could I say no to a spicy chicken rice bowl with Sriracha sauce?!?

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The next day I got up before the crack of dawn & drove myself over to Hollywood. It was so strange to be in the city while it was still dark & the streets were so empty.

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I could have taken the Metro Red Line like my friend & fellow runner Melissa. The Red Line station is literally right under Hollywood & Highland, which makes it very convenient. Plus you save money on parking & you don’t have to deal with the drive! However the 5k organizers didn’t have gear check & I don’t have a running belt, so I had no other choice but to drive in.

I met up with Melissa & took a quick photo just as everyone was lining up. Then we were off!

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The run took you straight down Hollywood Boulevard – past the legendary Musso & Frank Grill, Pantages Theater & The W Hotel. Then before I knew it, the finish line was near & the 5k was over!

The last 5k that I participated in was about 3 years ago & my goal was to meet or beat that time. Although I love to work out & take fitness classes, I’m not a traditional runner. In fact I’m a slow runner, but that’s ok. Someone once told me to “run your own race, even if it’s at a turtle’s pace.” My next race is the Never Land 5k in January, taking place during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend at Disneyland.

So did I beat my time from 3 years ago? I did & in fact it was my best time ever at 34:45! Was it due to the fact that I was taking ENERGYBits at the time? Perhaps… Is it because my legs are stronger from all those spin cycle classes that I’m taking at the Y? Who knows… Is it because I wore my lucky Sparkly Soul head band? Maybe…lol!

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All I know is that I had a fun time running around Hollywood. Maybe next year I’ll be ready to tackle a 10k!

Do you run 5k’s? If so, what is your favorite one?

Sleep Baby Sleep Boot Camp

Calling all San Fernando Valley Moms with newborns! You won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn sleep tips and tricks for your little one! It’s at the fabulous playspace, the Coop, located in Studio City. FYI – I’ve been there for birthday parties & it’s a great location, but I digress…

See the invitation below for details. Hope to see you there!

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Flashlight Friends – Product Review

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My daughter loves anything that lights up or glows. When she was a baby, she had a light-up turtle that projected stars onto the ceiling of her room. As a toddler, she loved to watch her shoes light-up when she stomped her feet on the ground. Now that she’s older, her love has evolved into pillows that glow-in-the-dark & also a rather large plastic ladybug that contains glow-in-the-dark multicolored beads.

Her latest obsession is Flashlight Friends. I don’t know how your children react, but if there is a toy commercial that comes on during my daughter’s favorite TV show, she’ll instantly say “I want it!” It got to the point that she was singing the jingle around the house – “they are flashlight friends…” She also loves unicorns (what little girl doesn’t?), so when she saw that they had a pink one, guess what she wanted?!?

I received the Flashlight Friend in the mail & wanted to wait for the perfect opportunity to bring it out. Opportunity struck, as this past weekend our pet fish died. So to distract her from the situation, I had her help me set up the Flashlight Friend. It’s very simple, only requiring 3 “AAA” batteries.

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We instantly took it to her room to test it out in the dark. All you have to do is tap the button twice to turn the flash on.

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The flashlight is very bright & works really well in a dark room. It works so well that later that night, when I read my daughter her bedtime story, she wanted to try it in the dark with only her Flashlight Friend as a source of light!

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Now her new buddy sits at the foot of her bed every day. It provides a sense of comfort if she ever wakes up in the middle of the night & needs to go to the bathroom, but can’t locate the light switch. What’s also great is if your child ever forgets to turn the flashlight off (which she has done on occasion), the light will automatically shut off after 10 minutes.

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If you’d like more information on Flashlight Friends, check out their website. Your kids will thank you for it!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I received a sample product to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Mendocino Farms Giveaway

Blog21_EatHappyMendocino Farms recently hosted a Family Fun Day at their Sherman Oaks location. It was a fun afternoon of eating, music and arts & crafts.

There were several types of sandwiches, a pasta salad, sweet treats & drinks for everyone.

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While noshing on all of the great food, we rocked out to Rhythm Child, a family friendly band.

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Each kid got to decorate their own picture frame.

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They had a photographer on-site so you could take a picture with Mendocino Farms’ iconic blue cow. Check out the finished product!

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Readers of my blog know how much I love the food here, which is why I am offering a giveaway to Mendocino Farms.

One lucky winner will receive a gift certificate good for 2 sandwiches, 2 fountain sodas AND 2 kids meals!

The voucher is good for the Sherman Oaks location only, so you must live in the Los Angeles area or be willing to drive to the San Fernando Valley.

All you have to do to be entered to win is:

  • Follow Mendocino Farms on Twitter & leave a comment below saying that you did.
  • For an extra entry, “like me” on Facebook & let me know you did so in the comments below.
  • For a third entry, share this post on Twitter & leave a comment with the link below.

The contest runs until Thursday, November 14th at 5pm PST. Winner will be chosen at random & contacted on November 15th. Open to Los Angeles area residents only. The winner will have 24 hours to respond with a mailing address or the next winner will be chosen.

*** Update: The winner has been chosen & notified. Thank you for entering!***

Mendocino Farms is located at 14141 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Free parking garage located in the back. Visit their website for more information & to see what’s on the menu.

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I was invited to a free community event. The giveaway was supplied by Mendocino Farms.