Monthly Archives: May 2014

Alex Lemonade Stand – Fighting to Cure Childhood Cancer #OneCupAtATime

Earlier this month, I worked at a charity event where the proceeds went towards breast cancer research. I found the whole event incredibly moving. Next month I will take part in another event, fundraising for the Alex Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF).

(photo credit: Alex Lemonade Stand Foundation)
(photo credit: Alex Lemonade Stand Foundation)

Did you know that this summer will mark 10 years since 8-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004) challenged the nation to help her raise $1 million for childhood cancer cures, one cup of lemonade at a time. The Foundation will once again invite volunteers across the country to host lemonade stands over the course of three days to continue Alex’s mission & bring renewed attention to the fight against childhood cancer.

FAQ_ALSF

National Lemonade Days started in Alex’s front yard & has grown into an annual June tradition that raises over $1 million for childhood cancer research through thousands of stands & events held across the country.

Signage

Held the weekend before Father’s Day every June, this three day event (Friday through Sunday) is open to all who want to participate by holding their own fundraising stands or events.

YOU can be a part of the tradition by holding an Alex’s Lemonade Stand with your friends, family or colleagues during the weekend of June 6-8, 2014! I am hosting a giveaway for an Alex Lemonade Stand Kit. The details are over on my Facebook page.

The Alex Lemonade Stand Kit will include signage, a guidebook & other relevant materials needed for you to host your own Alex Lemonade Stand during Lemonade Days.

HowToGuide_ALSF

So gather your family, friends & co-workers in creating your own Alex’s Lemonade Stand event! I believe that through social media, we can create social good. So please share this blog post with others if you can.  🙂

Disclosure: I received an Alex Lemonade Stand Kit to help facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. Any thoughts & opinions are 100% my own.

Teavana® Fine Teas + Tea Bar in Beverly Hills

Last week I visited Teavana® Fine Teas + Tea Bar in Beverly Hills on opening day! The beautifully decorated Teavana® Fine Teas + Tea Bar is located at the corner of Wilshire & Santa Monica Blvd.

(photo credit: Teavana Corp)
(photo credit: Teavana Corp)

As soon as I walked through the door, I was immediately offered a refreshing Tomato Lime “Cocktail” Iced Tea. There are 3 Teavana® iced teas that are cocktail-inspired: Cucumber Melon Cooler, Blood Orange Sorbet & the Tomato Lime. The Tomato Lime was interesting, but I tend to like my iced teas fruity & sweet. I can totally see these type of iced teas offered as an alternative at your next BBQ.

TomatoLimeIcedTea

Next I tried some scones, flatbreads & tea smoothies.

SconesFlatbreadSmoothie

I think my favorite unique drink that I was offered is the Apple Oolong Chia Fresca. This drink consists of a blend of Oolong and Pu-erh Tea shaken with cold-pressed apple juice & hydrated white chia seeds. It’s so delicious & I love that it has chia seeds in it!

AppleOolongChiaFresca

The best part of the entire tea bar is what I refer to as the “Great Wall of Tea” – I mean it is a beautiful presentation of tea canisters, don’t you think?!

GreatWallofTea

One of the items that I would love to purchase for my dad to give to him on Father’s Day (being that he is a big fan of tea, just like me) is this Perfect Tea Maker. This is the perfect size for him & makes it so easy to brew tea. At a retail price point of $19.95, it makes for a great gift for anyone!

Perfect Tea Maker

Before I left Teavana® Fine Teas + Tea Bar, I sampled some Butternut Squash Couscous Salad. It was yummy!

ButternutSquashCouscousSalad

I really appreciated the global influences of their food & drink menu. For instance, Teavana® Fine Teas + Tea Bar offers Lemongrass Ginger Chicken Rice Balls, as well as an Asian Glass Noodle Salad.

LemongrassGingerChicken

They do offer more traditional sandwich offerings like this Chicken Waldorf Sandwich. Bottom line, I think there is something for everyone to drink or eat at this tea bar!

Chicken Waldorf Sandwich

I had a great time trying out Teavana® Fine Teas + Tea Bar & I think you will too!

Disclosure: I attended a media event where I received complimentary food & drinks, which helped to facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My thoughts & opinions are 100% my own.

Getting Fly with Brett Hoebel

A couple of Saturdays ago, I met up with some of my blogger friends to “get breathless” with Brett Hoebel at the Larchmont location of Flywheel, which is an indoor cycling group fitness studio. As soon as I arrived, I knew that I was in for a different experience than my usual cycle class at my local Y.

The studio features stadium style cycling with “leaderboards” up at the front. These flat screen TVs will show which Flywheel cycle is in the Top 10 during the fitness class. Let it be known that this leaderboard kind of unnerved me. I’m somewhat competitive by nature, but I was in a room full of fitness folks who were very much “in it to win it” during the class. As much as I wanted to crack the Top 10, it wasn’t meant to be. NOTE: During a regular Flywheel class, you have the option of creating an “alias” or fun name. However during this special class, the leaderboard just showed our bike number.

Stadium class_front

stadium

The studio is modern, bright with a nice changing area & locker section. The lockers are free & you get to pick your own number combination after you stash your gear in the locker.

Flywheel_changing rooms

lockers

The studio offers free towels & cycle shoes that you click into the bike. I like that they have a seating chart for the bikes next to the towels. When you check-in at the front, you are given your bike number, so it was helpful to look at the chart so that I could find my bike. Take note though that each bike has a number above the front wheel, so you can find it that way also.

free towels_flywheel

Once the entire group was assembled, we gathered in the lobby to take a group photo before we got sweaty & breathless.

(photo credit: Nicole Dunn of Dunn Pellier Media)
(photo credit: Nicole Dunn of Dunn Pellier Media)

Then Brett Hoebel gave a brief pep talk in the lobby of the studio. He explained how the leaderboard worked & how these Flywheel bikes are different from other cycle bikes because they have a torque number device.

PepTalk_Brett_Flywheel

I’m used to the bikes where you just randomly turn the knob – full circle turn to crank it up/down or half-turn if you only want to climb the “hill” & change the resistance at an incremental rate. These bikes have a number, so you know your exact resistance or torque. I kinda like that because when the instructor yells out a number range as your guide, you know exactly where you should be.

Torque

About half-way through the class, Brett had us pick up a baton (found next to the torque device) & rest it on our handlebars. Then we started our arm exercises while we continued to pedal the Flywheel bike. I liked this baton. I generally don’t like to use hand weights when I exercise on a bike, but the baton was easier to grip & control (in my opinion). I liked getting an arm workout in while “burning out my legs” on the bike.

Baton

After the class was over, I was a hot, sweaty mess. But I still got my photo taken with Brett Hoebel! You may remember Brett as the trainer from “The Biggest Loser” Season 11. Brett is much more than just Jillian Michaels’ temporary replacement. Brett has his own company “Hoebel Fitness” which takes a body-mind approach stemming from Brett’s diverse experience in Eastern and Western disciplines. Also did you know that Brett has an undergrad and graduate education as a premed in biomedical science? So when he is yelling at you to get you’re a$$ up off the bike seat, just know that it is coming from a place of both love & science! Brett also has a new 20 Minute Body DVD Program coming out, so check out his website for more details.

BrettH and Me_Flywheel

After I was given my goodie bag of treats (thanks Kind Bar, Vega Sport, Flywheel for the treats & awesome tank top!), I met up with my Fly Girls (who were supposed to take the class, but got stuck in traffic – tsk, tsk). We grubbed out on some yummy food at a great restaurant across the street from Flywheel.

GoodieBag_Flywheel

(photo credit: Rhea, from RheaEtcetera.com)
(photo credit: Rhea, from RheaEtcetera.com)

NOTE: Being that the studio is located in the Larchmont area, I really appreciated the free parking in the back of the studio. Make sure you park there & not like my friends who paid for street parking because they didn’t know about Flywheel’s parking lot. 🙂

Disclosure: I attended a media event for fitness bloggers & influencers and also received a goodie bag. Though a post was not required, I wanted to share my experience. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My thoughts & opinions are 100% my own.

Earth to Echo Film

Have you seen the trailer for Earth to Echo yet? I personally can’t wait to see it. It reminds me of my childhood favorite films ET and The Goonies!

Earth to ECHO

I recently found out about a cool contest that will give schools the opportunity to win $100,000! All you have to do is visit www.echopostercontest.com to vote, watch the trailer and enter your school for the chance to win! How cool is that?! The school with the most votes will win the $100K prize. The winner will be announced on June 2nd.

E2EchoPosterContest

Happy voting & good luck!

For more info on the movie Earth to Echo click on over to their official website!

ETE_Billing

Disclosure: I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. I simply wanted to share this info with my readers!

Club MomMe Baby Registry Basics Workshop

The following post is sponsored by UrbanSitter and Club MomMe. All opinions are 100% my own.

Calling All SFV Parents & Moms-To-Be! Club MomMe is hosting a Baby Registry Basics workshop this Tuesday, May 27th at the Sherman Oaks Right Start.

Club MomMe Baby Registry SFV

UrbanSitter will offer free babysitting at the event! For more info & to purchase tickets to the event, check out the Club MomMe website here.

Hope to see you there!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from UrbanSitter and Club MomMe. Although I work as a Parent Rep for UrbanSitter, all opinions remain 100% my own.

 

How To Train Your Dragon 2

This past Saturday evening, our family watched How to Train Your Dragon. My daughter had seen it before at summer camp, but I didn’t have a chance to see it yet. I found it entertaining & we all agreed that Toothless is our favorite!

Later this week I will get to see a sneak peek of How to Train Your Dragon 2 on behalf of Surf & Sunshine.

H2TYD2

Naturally my daughter wants to see it opening weekend, so I’ll take her to see that later next month.

Until that happens, we will be on the hunt to “Spot Toothless”!

Spot Toothless

We love Hawaii, so of course we hope to win the trip! Good luck to those who enter. 🙂

Disclosure: I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. I am a fan of the movie & wanted to share this info with my readers.

 

Eating & Shopping My Way Through Unique LA!

A couple of weekends ago, I attended the 6th Annual Unique LA Spring Show in downtown Los Angeles. This genuinely unique event takes place on both Saturday & Sunday at the California Market Center. What I especially love about this event is that it is the largest Made-in-America shopping event in the country!

UniqueLA Signage

I had attended a couple of these shopping events in the past – both Spring & Winter shows, but that was before I was a blogger. You know what they say, if it isn’t on Instagram or some other social media, then did you really attend it? Lol… 🙂

My husband & I made the trek on a Saturday morning to DTLA. Fortunately my hubby works down there & we’d been to the CA Market Center before, so the commute wasn’t so bad from the Valley. Disclaimer: The day before the event I had entered a contest sponsored by Agapantha Jewelry, who happened to be giving away a ticket to Unique LA. Guess who won?! Yep, that would be me – score! So all we had to pay for was my hubby’s ticket since kids 12 and under are FREE.

As soon as we got there, one of the first booths I looked at was Eco Apothecary. I was admiring (i.e. smelling & using) the custom bath & body products when the owner (Danielle) came up to me. We started talking & within a few minutes quickly realized that we had worked with each other back in the day at a catalog company! Small world…  She is a fellow Valley girl & I love that her products are organic & vegan as well as paraben AND sulfate-free. Check out her website peeps!

Danielle_EcoApothecary

One of the first booths that my daughter set her sights on was the Mallow Mallow S’more Shop. These folks are based in San Diego & it’s probably a good thing because I know I’d probably hit up the store every other week if it was in LA. This place won my “best booth” award because it was decorated to look like a camp. I mean, look at it…

S'moreShop

Check out this blender! Just gold…

Blender

My daughter ended up eating The Scout (naturally since it had her favorite peppermint flavor) & hubby got a The Classic.

MallowMallow_sign

I opted to get my sweet treat from The Square Treat booth. These are the ladies who run The Square Treat which is based in the Valley.

Square Treat Ladies

These sweet treats are made with a mixture of graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows & coconut. I mention the coconut because my daughter is allergic to it, so when I asked, they said they could do special orders without the coconut. The Square Treat also makes a gluten-free version & when I sampled it, the GF version tastes equally good! Apologies for the slightly blurry photo, but I was so busy sample tasting to take a better photo. Take note Valley peeps, they make FREE deliveries to Valley residents!

SquareTreat

One of my weaknesses when I go to street fairs or these types of shopping expos is to buy specialty stationery. So when I came upon the iLoot Paperie booth, I just had to purchase a couple of cards! I actually bought my Mother’s Day card from them – it’s the flower one in the bottom middle.

ilootpaperie

My daughter & I spent considerable time at the Bloom Honey booth, where we sampled different flavors of honey. We both decided that White Clover was our favorite; however, I couldn’t resist purchasing 4 small jars of various flavors for the deal of $16! I gave one small jar to my mom for Mother’s Day.

BloomHoney

One of the very last booths that I checked out was Agapantha Jewelry. I had wanted to take a photo with owner/designer Dani Paquin, but her booth was just so darn crowded! That’s a good problem though right?! You’ll want to check out her jewelry site. I mean, look at these pretty & delicate pieces.

AGAPANTHA_heart_ring_1

AGAPANTHA_heart_studs

Lastly, I wouldn’t be a good blogger if I didn’t mention Freut Camp’s blogging workshop. These cards (see below) were ALL over the place at Unique LA! I have no affiliation with them, but I have a lot of blogging buddies who might want to check out their boot camp in June. Sadly I won’t be able to attend due to a prior obligation. However if you do go, let me know how it went because it looks fab!

FreutCamp_BloggingWorkshop

I took a lot more pictures & ate/shopped at a lot of other booths. These were just a few of my favorite things! (Nope, I’m not Oprah & honestly this was my short list of faves at Unique LA!) I do want to give a few shout outs to Bon Bliss Beauty, The Awesome Candle & I Heart Pies. You guys have awesome products!

Disclosure: I won a contest that provided a free ticket to Unique LA. Though a post was not required, I wanted to share my experience. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. My thoughts & opinions are 100% my own.

Cookbook Review – Taking a Culinary Tour of the Yucatán

Last month, I was invited to attend a media tasting at Chichén Itzá Restaurant located at 3655 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90007. The chef & owner of the restaurant is Gilberto Cetina, who also happens to be a co-author for the book Sabores Yucatecos: A Culinary Tour of the Yucatán, the first cookbook in English on Yucatecan cuisine by a chef from the Yucatán.

English Cookbook

Since the cookbook was so successful in English, the authors felt it should be translated to Spanish for all consumers to enjoy!

(Image credit: Vesper PR)
(Image credit: Vesper PR)

Due to a family emergency, I was unable to attend the media tasting in DTLA. However, I wanted to share with you a few details about the event & book!

Here is Chef Gilberto Cetina at the food tasting!

(Image credit: @notautiloficial)
(Image credit: @notautiloficial)

Doesn’t the food look delicious!

(Image credit: Vesper PR)
(Image credit: Vesper PR)

Unfortunately my high school Spanish classes didn’t provide me with enough knowledge to be able to read the Spanish version of the book. So I was provided with an English version to review! 🙂

I can’t wait to try out this Huevos Con Chaya recipe for breakfast soon!

Huevos recipes

There’s also a few beef dishes that I would love to try!

Beef recipe

If you like the pictures in this blog post, you should check out the cookbook (available at online book retailers).

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of the cookbook & invited to a media event which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. Though a post was not required, I wanted to share my experience. All opinions are my own.

Cardio Barre Woodland Hills

Earlier this month I tried out Cardio Barre in Woodland Hills. This particular Cardio Barre is located in a mini mall on Erwin Street, next to a Cost Plus World Market retail store. If you haven’t heard about  Cardio Barre, it is a unique, high energy exercise class that combines ballet barre work & light weights. I especially like this type of no impact fitness class because the focus is on toning & elongating the muscles. No bulky look for me! 🙂

CardioBarre_WoodlandHills_RealMomofSFV

The studio is well lit, with mirrors everywhere so that you can check your form. I had to look at my fellow fitness classmates to make sure I was doing the exercises right. The instructor I had was lively, played good music & walked around the room continuously checking out everyone’s technique. She gently corrected my leg positioning on a few moves, which I was very grateful for.

CardioBarre_Studio_RealMomofSFV
About mid-way through the class, we picked up light hand weights (1, 2 or 3 pound weights) from a bin. I liked that there was a bottle of hand spray/disinfectant to use right next to the box after class, but I digress…  We used the weights & I felt like I was getting a nice workout for my arms.

CardioBarre_handweights_RealMomofSFV
At the end, we did exercises on the floor (they tell you to bring your own towel). The floor work was a nice combination of leg & ab exercises. By the end of the hour, I felt good!

A few things worth noting:

  • They have cubbies in the front of the room for your bags & shoes.
  • Their lobby has a nice assortment of workout clothes for sale.
  • The cost for a single class at this location is $17. (Prices may vary depending on location.)
  • The parking at the Woodland Hills Cardio Barre is FREE.

CardioBarre_Cubbies_RealMomofSFV

CardioBarre_Lobby_RealMomofSFV

For more information on Cardio Barre, check out their site here.

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I happily paid for my fitness class at Cardio Barre! All opinions are my own.

Hungry for Laughs – Go See Chef!

Last week, on a gorgeous day in Santa Monica, I attended a fun event where I got to sample different varieties of macaroni & cheese from the Stouffer’s Mac ‘N Cheese Food Truck.

Stouffer's FoodTruck
We had the opportunity to meet Chef Lucien Vendome, who happily passed out samples of Classic Mac, Pizza Mac, Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cuban Mac.

(image credit: The Moms)
(image credit: The Moms)

My favorite was the Classic Mac, dressed up with crispy bacon & chives. Who can resist bacon?! I sure can’t…

BaconMac-Sample

After the tasting event, I caught an early screening of the movie Chef, which was written & directed by Jon Favreau. Jon also acts in the movie playing Carl Casper, a chef at an upscale restaurant that is owned by Dustin Hoffman’s character.

In the movie we learn that when Carl started out, he was a rising star who created innovative food & had a promising future. However in this point of his career, instead of using his talent to come up with unique menus, he has to toe the line & make what the restaurant owner wants him to cook. A food critic (played by Oliver Platt) pays a visit & rips into Carl on his food blog, by basically saying that his food is safe & pedestrian. Naturally Carl goes ballistic.

Bobby Cannavale (from Boardwalk Empire) & John Leguizamo (most recently seen in Ride Along) cook alongside Jon Favreau’s character in the kitchen & are hilarious in the movie! There’s an interesting side plot that illustrates how in the age of social media, you better be careful about engaging in Twitter wars.

Jon Favreau’s son in the movie is played by Emjay Anthony. In the film, he becomes Carl Casper’s social media manager (by default) as the father & son go road-tripping in Carl’s new food truck venture. Emjay also happened to be at the screening in Santa Monica. Isn’t he adorable?

RealMom_EmjayAnthony

I found the movie to be funny, totally original & the cast had great chemistry. Speaking of cast, I’m pretty sure that Jon Favreau called in favors with his Iron Man buddies because both Scarlett Johansson & Robert Downey Jr. are in the film. The always funny Robert Downey Jr. is only in a few scenes but makes the most of his screen time, stealing the show during those hilarious scenes.

Roy Choi (chef, author & restaurant owner) is a producer on the film. If you ever wondered what the man behind the Kogi food truck craze looks like, make sure to stay through the end of the credits. As someone who loves food trucks & has been a fan of Kogi since the beginning, I really appreciated that moment.

Take note that the movie is Rated R, so make sure to leave the kids at home! If you’ve ever worked in a kitchen, like two of my uncles who have made a living as a chef & line cook, then you’ll know that tough talking & wise cracking is par for the course. If you’re looking for laughs, then go see Chef!

Chef opens in select theaters on May 9th!
Visit the official website
Like Chef the Film on Facebook
Follow @ChefTheFilm on Twitter #ChefMovie

I was invited to a media event hosted by The Moms which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. Though a post was not required, I wanted to share my experience. All opinions are my own.