Monthly Archives: June 2014

Poncho Baby’s Bandana Bib

We’ve had a baby boom of sorts in our extended family. My brother-in-law’s son is about to turn 1 year’s old. My husband’s cousin just had a baby girl & another cousin is about to have twins in October.

Although my daughter just turned 8 years old, I am always on the lookout for new baby/toddler products to purchase for my relative’s kids! Enter the Bandana Bib by Poncho Baby!

Poncho Baby Bag

This reversible AND stylish bib comes in an assortment of colors. I love that you can flip it over & use the reverse side – it’s two bibs in one!

PonchoBaby_Reversible

Look how cute the bib looks on this baby!

PonchoBaby_Infant

There are two types of bandana bibs designed by Poncho Baby – an organic one & a non-organic one. Both versions are reversible & made with FOUR layers of soft muslin fabric! The bandana bib was created by a mom & you can definitely see the thoughtful design touches incorporated by her. Not only is it stylish, but it is very absorbent & there are two adjustable snaps so that it can grow with your baby!

Nowadays, many moms are making a conscious choice to use organic products. That’s why it’s so great that Poncho Baby has developed an organic Bandana Bib! It comes in two colors – olive & beige. As in all of their bandana bibs, both organic colors are reversible.

PonchoBaby_Organic

If you are looking for a stylish, yet practical bib for your baby, then give Poncho Baby a try!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary bib, which helped facilitate this review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review. All images & opinions are 100% my own.

Meeting Alison Sweeney – Author, Actress & Mother

A couple of Mondays ago, I had the opportunity to meet Alison Sweeney at Duff’s Cakemix in Los Angeles. Melissa Musen Gerstein of The Moms was hosting a meet & greet with Alison, who was promoting her latest book Scared Scriptless. You probably know Alison from her various TV show credits, such as The Biggest Loser or Days of Our Lives.

I had been to Duff’s Cakemix before, having taken my daughter to decorate cupcakes over Spring Vacation.

When I arrived, I saw how cute the room was decorated with cupcakes & cakes specially made by Duff’s bakery team.

AliSweeney_TeamDuffCakes

It wasn’t long before Alison Sweeney arrived. After posing for pictures with some of the guests, she sat down with Melissa for a brief Q&A. I found her to be sweet, down-to-earth & a wonderful mom with a parenting style very similar to mine.

AliSweeney_MelissaQandA

She spoke about her son who doesn’t have his own iPod or iPhone. Alison specifically tells him, “This is not your iPod, it’s the family iPod & I’m letting you use it.” She also talked about being a strict parent & not wanting to be a “friend” to her two children.

Here she is talking about being a “type-A” mother: http://instagram.com/p/pCBq1LCFGX/

Being a working actress, she loves telling a story that affects people & making them laugh or cry. Being a performer is in her blood. She mentioned playing the violin as a little kid & Alison’s mom said that she always performed the best when there was an audience.

With that said, she also shared that her younger daughter is the “performer” in the family. However, Alison does not want her to go into the entertainment industry. She is really concerned about her daughter facing rejection.

During the Q&A, I was able to ask Alison a question about her fitness routine as a busy working mom. She talked about working in exercise as much as possible, but during hectic times (like her book tour) she sometimes has to forgo her exercise routine. So during those times, she just focuses on eating clean, healthy food & not indulging in alcoholic drinks (which we all know can be high in calories).

Speaking of calories in drinks, one of the sponsors for this event was Arizona Beverage Co. They provided the Skinnygirl Sparklers which are a low calorie sparkling water mixed with real fruit juice. I sipped on the pink grapefruit & also the tangerine mango. Both were delicious, but I found the pink grapefruit flavor to be very refreshing!

AliSweeney_MeBooksSkinnyGirl

After the Q&A, Alison signed copies of her Scared Scriptless book & we got to pose for pictures. I started reading the book on the plane this past Saturday, on my way back from Park City to LA. I’m halfway done! It is fun fiction, an easy-breezy book – perfect for the beach, during vacation or while you’re on a lunch break! Alison briefly describes the plot in this Instagram video here.

AliSweeney_Me with Book

Alison had to dash off for another promotional appearance, but the rest of us got to decorate cupcakes at Duff’s Cakemix. Here’s my finished product! I chose “M” for the initial of my last name. The bottom portion of the pic shows my workstation & the box that we packaged our cupcakes in.

AliSweeney_DecoratedCupcakes

Thanks to The Moms, Alison Sweeney, Duff’s Cakemix & Arizona Beverage Co. for an awesome #SweeneyMamarazzi event!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a promotional event. I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. All photos, videos, thoughts & opinions are 100% mine.

Sugarfina – A Unique Candy Boutique at The Americana

A couple Saturday’s ago, I had the pleasure of attending a media preview of Sugarfina at the Americana at Brand (which is an upscale, outdoor shopping area). For those not familiar with Sugarfina, it is a luxury candy boutique that contains a unique selection of gourmet chocolates, caramels, gummies, malt balls, licorice & other delicious confections from around the world. Their very first retail location opened in Beverly Hills a couple of years ago. Now the owners have decided to open a second location & fortunately for me it is located in Glendale, CA – just a short drive from where I live in the San Fernando Valley.

Sugarfina_Signage

When you first walk into the store, you’ll notice how the décor is very elegant.

Sugarfina_BehindCounter2

Sugarfina_Decor

From a merchandising perspective, this store is a dream! The packaging is beautiful. This was the display area behind the counter.

Sugarfina_BehindCounter

Check out the “bento box” candy containers. I love that the display shows what is inside each little box. You’ll notice that the lower left-hand corner (of my photo) shows each candy with the ingredients listed. As a mom of a child with nut allergies, I appreciated knowing that a caramel may or may not have nuts inside.

Sugarfina_BentoBox

Every table is thoughtfully appointed with a theme.

Sugarfina_BevHillsDisplay

 

Sugarfina_TableDisplay

I love these “conversation” gift boxes! They would make a great Valentine’s gift or Graduation gift.

Sugarfina_ConvoGiftBox

Isn’t this mini martini shaker (filled with candies) adorable?! I can see this as a housewarming gift or wedding/bridal shower favors.

Sugarfina_MiniMartini

Sugarfina also has non-candy gift items. I really wanted to buy a heart-shaped necklace!

Sugarfina_GiftItems

For those of you looking for 4th of July decorations & treats, here is this cute table display to browse! The candy in the lower left-hand corner is called Frutta Bella, which is a fancy crème fondant from the Piedmont region of Italy.

Sugarfina_4thOfJuly

Sugarfina is located on Caruso Avenue, across from Nordstrom & Kate Spade New York. Many of the candies are found in countries outside of the United States. The collection has been thoughtfully curated, only displaying candies of the finest & highest quality.

Sugarfina_Doorway

Sugarfina_LocationSign

On a side note, I know that there are folks who are trying to avoid sugar. As a mom, I am conscious of the fact that my daughter will always want a sweet treat. It’s my job to monitor what she eats. I believe that you can indulge in a sweet treat every now & then. It’s all about moderation in my family. So if you are going to reach for a sweet treat, wouldn’t it be nice to get something that was thoughtfully sourced from a European country & is so unique that you can’t find it elsewhere in the States? I think so…

Have you been to Sugarfina? If not, what would you buy if you did visit?

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview of Sugarfina. Though a post was not required, I wanted to share my experience. I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. All photos, thoughts & opinions are 100% mine.

NRDC & the Sustainable Food Movement

For those that follow my blog, you’ll remember that I attended a dinner hosted by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) a couple of weeks ago. You can read all about the wonderful reception & the great musical guest Aloe Blacc here.

The reason why we were gathered in Santa Monica for the dinner was to celebrate safe & sustainable eating. During the evening, we also learned how the widespread use of antibiotics in our livestock & poultry farms affects the meat & chicken that we consume.

Foster Farms is the leading chicken supplier in the United States. While I try to buy organic chicken as much as possible, one tends to forget that school lunches, restaurants & cafes all probably buy their chicken from Foster Farms. Personally I found the infographic below very shocking.

(Image provided by NRDC)
(Image provided by NRDC)

The information highlighted in this graphic was addressed during the dinner by Dr. David Relman. He described the human health risks involved that are created by the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals.

DrDavidRelman_NRDC
Did you know that recently: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an alarming updated count of illnesses from a persistent antibiotic resistant Salmonella outbreak plaguing the nation, particularly California (77% of the cases). Since the last update a few weeks ago, 50 new cases have emerged in this ongoing outbreak, now totaling 574 human illnesses and counting. This widespread Salmonella outbreak, starting last spring, is linked to California-based poultry producer giant Foster Farms – the nation’s sixth largest poultry producer and the largest in California. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly two-thirds of the Salmonella sampled from afflicted patients tested resistant to one or more antibiotics.

Statements from Foster Farms suggest that the company relies on antibiotics to keep its chickens alive — a practice that is known to breed antibiotic resistant bacteria. The World Health Organization recently warned that livestock use of antibiotics is contributing to growing antibiotic resistance.

While Dr. Relman discussed these issues during the dinner, I couldn’t help but think of that Matt Damon & Gwyneth Paltrow movie Contagion. While the movie may be a little extreme & far-fetched, if industry practices don’t change, we may not be too far off from the way things were portrayed in that movie.

If you would like to learn more about the poultry industry as it relates to antibiotic resistance, click on this link to read an article highlighting the issue.

For those active in social media, feel free to Tweet the following:

TweetToFosterFarms_NRDC
I know there has been some discussion online & among certain entertainment folks (yes Shonda Rhimes, I am name-checking you) about the effective use of social media as it relates to social good. Personally I think that if a hashtag (#) can create a dialogue amongst friends & the community at large, then it is all good. Creating awareness & contributing in a way that you are able to is wonderful (in my opinion). So whether it is through raising awareness online, volunteering or donating money to the cause, I encourage you to learn more about NRDC’s efforts by checking out their website here.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the NRDC “Thought for Food” dinner along with several other media folks. I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. All images/photos are mine unless otherwise stated. My thoughts & opinions are 100% mine.

David Gray’s Latest Album “Mutineers” Drops June 17th!

The following post is sponsored by One2One Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

I’m always on the hunt for new music by different artists. I love listening to music in the car (especially when I am stuck in LA traffic), while I am working out & at home when I am cleaning, answering emails or trying to write out my latest blog post. 🙂

David Gray is an artist from the UK who came on the scene in the late 90’s with his big hit album White Ladder. I remember listening endlessly to the song “Babylon” which came from the album White Ladder. It has a great melody & a catchy hook.

I recently had the opportunity to preview his new album Mutineers, which releases on June 17th (about a week & a half away). The songs are mellow & haunting. It’s great music (in my opinion) to listen to at home or in the car when you need to zen out.

DavidGray_Mutineers_800x600

My favorite songs are “Back in the World” & “Beautiful Agony.” Check out David’s video for “Back in the World” & see for yourself how cool it is!

The complete listing for Mutineers is as follows:
Back in the World
As the Crow Flies
Mutineer
Beautiful Agony
Last Summer
Snow in Vegas
Cake and Eat It
Birds of the High Arctic
The Incredible
Girl Like You
Gulls
Nearly Midnight (bonus track)

For my LA readers, you’ll be happy to know that David Gray is coming out to tour our city on  September 3rd at The Greek Theatre! For additional tour dates & ticket info go tohttps://tickets.davidgray.com/.

Are you eager to get your hands (or ears) on the Mutineers album? Well guess what – you can pre-order it on iTunes:  http://bit.ly/DavidGrayMutineersiTunes or Amazon: http://bit.ly/DGMutineersAmazon.

Happy listening!

Disclosure: I received a free download of the album to review from One2One Network. Images & video are used with permission. All opinions remain my own.

 

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) “Thought For Food” Dinner

Last week I attended a dinner in Santa Monica at California Heritage Museum. This lovely dinner was hosted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). NRDC is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members & online activists. Since 1970, the NRDC lawyers, scientists & other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health & the environment. I have to admit that prior to that evening I knew very little about NRDC. However I was very excited & open to learning new ideas about NRDC’s Food & Agricultural Program.

After I checked in, I was greeted warmly by Jackie who is a Communications Strategist at NRDC. After chatting with her for a while, she introduced me to her colleagues Sasha & Claire. Claire is an attorney & policy writer whose family farmed in Nebraska for over 100 years. The issues that she works on at NRDC are very important to her as it affects the industry that she grew up in, as well as countless farmers across the United States. Sasha is an advocate who has lived all over the States & abroad. We chatted about the public transportation system in LA & how those who live here are somewhat reluctant to try it. Personally I love our Metro System & have frequently used the Red & Gold Lines. I’ve even taken my daughter on it once so that she could experience it.

I mingled with a few other folks at the reception, briefly chatting with Avinash, a lawyer with NRDC. Avinash works on NRDC’s campaign for healthy & sustainable food. I also noticed there were several entertainment industry folks in attendance. Doesn’t Amber Valetta look beautiful?!

(Photo credit: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)
(Photo credit: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

On a side note, the food was so delicious & the decor at the reception was so charming. The sustainable & vegetarian meal was catered by Heirloom LA. Foodies take note that all of the food components were sourced locally! My favorite dinner item was the mushroom steaks. However the squash blossom from the reception was my pick of the night. It looked like it would be messy & challenging to it, but when the folks that I was chatting with gave it a thumbs up, I just had to try it.

NRDC_FoodRegarding the theme of the reception, for someone who has never heard the term “rustic-chic” until a few days prior to the dinner, wouldn’t you know that I ended up in love with the concept!

(Photo credit: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)
(Photo credit: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)
(Photo credit: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)
(Photo credit: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

I was so enamored by these wagon wheels. I thought the rustic decor looked great & it was so fitting since the theme of the night was about agriculture and the safe & sustainable food movement.

NRDC_rusticChic

During the first course we watched a short video, entitled “We Are NRDC.” I noticed right away that it was narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver & when I turned to Jackie, she confirmed it. 🙂

As a mom, I try to be educated on the food choices that I purchase. Most of us have heard about the “dirty dozen” when it comes to fruits & veggies. I have several friends who try to by organic chicken & meat, but let’s face it, these things cost more than regular food & sometimes our budgets don’t always allow for that type of expense.

Throughout the dinner, we learned about different facts & figures regarding agriculture & our food industry. Here is another film that we watched that explains the issue & how it affects the American food consumers. See if you can spot Sasha, Claire & Avinash, the folks that I had met during the reception!

I was amazed at what a leading poultry provider was doing (or NOT doing). If the graphic shown below upsets you like it did me, feel free to send a message to Foster Farms that you won’t stand idly by while the threat of antibiotic resistance grows! You can send a message on Twitter telling them “Hey @FosterFarms! Come clean on antibiotics! #FosterHarms.”

(Image provided by NRDC)
(Image provided by NRDC)

The evening ended with a rousing performance by Aloe Blacc. This talented musical artist is passionate about certain causes that are near & dear to him. After kicking off an awesome performance of “The Man” – Aloe sang one of my faves “Wake Me Up.” I think that song title aptly describes how I was woken up by some of NRDC’s food facts.

Next week I will share with you some additional key learnings from this dinner, so stay tuned!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the NRDC Thought for Food dinner along with several other media folks. I did not receive monetary compensation for this post. All photos are mine unless otherwise stated. My thoughts & opinions are 100% mine.

Peanut Butter & Jane – Children’s Resale Boutique on Wheels

For those who follow my blog, you know that I’m into the food truck craze. I also believe in repurposing your clothes and/or your children’s clothes. Well friends, here is a company that combines BOTH of those concepts! Meet Peanut Butter & Jane, a Los Angeles children’s resale boutique on wheels & also now an eCommerce website.

The Peanut Butter & Jane fashion truck started in January of this year & is the creation of a Mother/Daughter duo Mariya Hamilton & Kelly Snyder. The website, www.PBandJaneLA.com, was launched in May & features great finds to share with moms across the country who appreciate quality name-brand clothing at a fraction of the cost.

(photo credit: Peanut Butter & Jane)
(photo credit: Peanut Butter & Jane)

Peanut Butter & Jane features gently used clothing with brand names like Tea, Diesel, Mini Boden, Crewcuts, Janie & Jack, Juicy Couture as well as Nike, just to name a few. Each item is selected carefully & the owners make sure that the items show hardly any signs of wear or are still new with original tags.

Look at this cute swim cover-up that was on the Peanut Butter & Jane website!

PBJ_Dress

I even got a pretty cream colored hair bow to go with it.

PBJ_HairBow

The website is user-friendly & accepts PayPal & major credit cards. At the events where the fashion truck is present, they accept cash & credit cards.

Peanut Butter & Jane sets up shop every 2nd Sunday at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Market & also at the Orange County Market Place every other Sunday.  More locations are planned.

For more information, check out their website and don’t forget to follow them on Twitter or Facebook!

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary product & fashion accessory, which helped facilitate this review. All images are mine unless otherwise noted. All opinions are 100% my own.

An Insider’s Guide to Orangetheory Fitness Los Angeles!

On the Saturday of Memorial Weekend, I tried out Orangetheory Fitness Los Angeles for the first time. It is located in an office building on San Vicente Blvd, where they offer free valet parking for OTFLA members.

Once I entered the Orangetheory Fitness studio, I was amazed by all of the high-tech equipment, the weight room & overall look! Here is a picture of the lobby where they have cool looking merchandise on display. I can’t wait to get one of those tanks that says “Base-Push-All Out-Repeats.” These phrases are repeated during the course of an Orangetheory Fitness session.

OTFLA_Lobby

There are complimentary lockers for you to store your gear inside. Once I stashed my gym bag inside, signed the release forms & got my heart monitor strapped to my chest – it was time to begin!

Locker Area

The group is split into two teams. One group goes to the treadmills, while the other group gets warmed up on the water rowers. I started with the row machine, which I had never used before. I enjoyed this part of the workout! The important thing that I had to remember was to push out hard with my legs, than the arm work is somewhat secondary. It all works together in tandem, but the legwork is very important.

OTFLA_WaterRower

OTFLA_treadmills

After warming up on the rower, my group went over to the weight room to do some planks, arm weight exercises & what not. The weight section is within viewing distance to the runners, so I would glance over to see what they were doing (in anticipation of what was to come). We also did some weight-resistance work with straps that was very similar to what I do in my TRX classes at my local Y. Loved it!

OTFLA_Weight Room

The part that I found really cool is that the heart rate monitor that you wear, beams info onto a flat screen TV so that no matter where you are in the exercise studio, you can check your heart rate & see if you are in the green or orange zones. Those are the zones that you want to “live” in.

Half-way through the session, the teams trade spots & then it was time for my group to run on the treadmill. I was hesitant to go all out since I have had foot issues in the past. However I modified it by not jacking up the incline too much. I was still able to jog/run throughout the session & get my heart going into the orange zone.

After the treadmill portion was done, the entire group went to the center of the floor to do cool down stretching. Then our instructors talked about the stats on the screen.

OTFLA_HeartRateMonitors

I was really impressed with the entire workout. I’ve done two sessions so far & will do a third session this Thursday. What I thought was a VERY nice touch is that after your session, you are sent a training report via email. Here’s what mine looked like:

OTFLA_Training Report

Cool, right?! I can’t say enough about Orangetheory Fitness! I love this type of circuit training, the way the instructors really push you to go all out & the data that is given throughout the session as well as afterwards. So awesome! I sure hope they open one up in the Valley soon!

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I attended free community sessions that were open to the public. All opinions are 100% my own.