Posted in Random Stuff

This is Halloween… 2018

Happy Halloween! 

Hope you all had a fun Halloween filled with lots of spookiness, laughter… and CANDY!  

Halloween is the best holiday of them all, isn’t it? Dressing up. The creative makeup. Pumpkins. Haunting decorations. Spooky treats. Fun snapchat filters! (which I know you all love dearly from me!) 

I get so ramped up for Halloween that I decorate my house the first week of September; which I have been coining for years as Septemberween.  IT IS MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY TO DECORATE FOR OF THEM ALL!!! Halloween is some serious decorating business.  I set aside two days to fully drape each room of our first floor in spooky goodness. Sometimes it takes me three days because I don’t really like anyone touching my Halloween stuff.  ha  I have a ritual here!  There is lots of singing, coffee and skeletons. 

🙂 The trifecta of fun!

I collect these funny skeleton ceramics, called Boney Bunch, that make a preview in each room. I buy a new one, or two, or three!, every year. They make me laugh because they are super cute and silly with spooky puns, and they each have a meaning relating to some special event in my life.  For example, I have a skeleton baby in a high chair for the birth of my oldest daughter. A skeleton baby in a carriage for the birth of my youngest.  A skeleton couple engaged and a skeleton bride and groom in a car for my wedding.  Snow White skeleton with skeleton dwarfs because I am Snow White. A skeleton cook because I love cooking. There’s a skeleton guy using an English phone booth for my first trip to London.  There is a skeleton ghost holding an eye-ball for when I bought my first iPhone. haha Yes I am eccentric. And I won’t go through them all, I have so many.  They always bring smiles to my face when I walk by.  And as I am sitting here typing, looking at the  Boney Bunch dish on the table and my Halloween decor around me that I have to take down this weekend, I am just utterly sad.  Big frown face.  I love how the house looks dressed up for the holidays, any holiday. It feels warmer, fuller, and happier. 

Well, I guess I have Thanksgiving decor to look forward to putting up.  Meh  Turkeys.  haha

But back to Halloween, we had a fun month overall.  Lots of family fun and parties with friends, so spooktacular!  We do have a lot of fun traditions in the Fall, like pumpkin picking at our favorite local farm as we scarf on cider donuts and feed the farm animals, pumpkin carving, watching spooky movies, or hitting up a local Fall themed event. This year we went to two, Screeemfest at Canobie Lake Park and the Great Pumpkin Festival at the Ecotarium.   Both were so much fun. Screeemfest was frightening for our oldest daughter.  She is a ‘fraidy cat’, but I even freaked a few times from the crazy clown wielding the chainsaw chasing people!  I am not that big into scary experiences like that, but I appreciate the scare nonetheless.  If that even makes sense?

Oh wait! The Ecotarium wasn’t without a scare, though.  Here’s a story I haven’t told anyone yet from our night there.  They had a slew of fun things going on and a special feature of fire magicians every forty-five minutes performing.  When we got there the people working the event told us the fire show was happening soon, and to make our way down to the large white circle in the parking lot.  Ok, so we did. 

We arrived to find a guy dressed in a full skeleton costume kneeling down by a speaker blaring Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne.  He was the MC apparently.  We all huddled close around the circle because the night grew chillier pretty quickly. A few more people joined in the circle. Within a minute, a steam punk dressed lanky guy with a large beard made his way into the center of the circle.  He started by telling us to stand on the outside of the circle, as he inhaled from this giant pipe, then exhaled into his hand lighting his hands on fire.  By this time more people were standing around the circle enthralled by the flames. And warmth.  Then the performer set two large batons on fire and started fire eating along to the music. 

The show was not terribly exciting, however, it’s fire and it is beautiful, and my kids seem pretty happy. The guy was shaky but was doing a great job being creepy and mysterious. Then another guy, dressed similarly came out to perform further with lager intricate batons (multi fire points) and fire chains.  He was the more daring one of the pair.  He was performing minor acrobatics with these fire props.  Allowing the pipes to roll across his body and lightly torch his beard.  And, by this point, the fire was so hot from one of his large batons, that I just had the urge to back up. I notice the circle now is encompassed with tons of tiny kids sitting in costumes along the edge and some in carriages. Worry swam over me seeing those kids on the ground. As I looked at my kids to say let’s move another step back, the guy performing the swinging chains moves onto swinging fire pipes and by mistake he let go of one of the fire pipes! It went cruising on the ground into the crowd right for those little kids!!! The pipe misses them by mere inches! It was just the craziest of luck they didn’t get burned. 

Needless to say, we left, as we all didn’t want to die. So.  It was a miracle not a kid was touched by the flames, seriously.

Well, that wraps up tis Halloween! Here are some pictures from our Halloween month of fun…

 

Posted in My Travels

San Diego Days 11 and 12

This was our day to celebrate our 17th Anniversary away, and we reserved it to do absolutely nothing but hangout at the beach and eat.  Boy, was this a big day.  hahaha

This is our last full day in California.  We departed the 12th day.

Day 11!

We started off by waking up as early as we could.  Trying to get our kids back on a somewhat normal schedule as they return to school a day after we land. We got ourselves ready for a fun last day.  We made two reservations for this day, breakfast at Duke’s La Jolla and dinner at George’s on the Cove.

Duke’s La Jolla was so much fun.  Like, apart from the beautiful view from the deck of the ocean, the atmosphere, decor, the staff, just everything was enjoyable from walking in.  Duke is the reason the world surfs.  The most I know of him was from what I learned before going to the restaurant. He was a multi-medal olympian, a hero, the first son of Hawaii, and just seemed like a really nice man.

We got checked in but our table wasn’t ready yet, so we decided to grab a celebratory drink at the bar. My husband ordered a Duke’s mai-tai which came in a large glass tiki head cup. For me, a mimosa, which came in a boring champagne flute.. ha!  And, for the girls, two chocolate milk shakes.  The bartenders we spoke with were so nice, like more than normal, and we joked about being all from the East Coast.  We had noticed a lot of people from California are actually not natives.  By the time we drank a few sips, we got greeted for our seats.  We were given a big half round booth on the deck.  The view of the cove below, as we were high up on a cliff, was gorgeous.

When we got seated, we ordered another round of drinks for the adults, my husband really liked that tiki cup, then we ordered our breakfasts. He got the Onolicious French Toast with a side of fried rice.  I ordered the Hawaiian Breakfast with bacon, and the girls each got the French toast, too. Absolutely amazing. We shared bites, talked a lot, looked over the rail a few times at the ocean, and enjoyed it all thoroughly. We thought this was by far our favorite meal of the trip. That fried rice was definitely the best thing ever.  I mean, THE BEST!! Everything was fresh and cooked right.  Also, the place was sparkling clean, which is always a good thing. It was such a great experience.

After breakfast, I stopped at the front to buy my husband that mai-tai tiki cup.  They have a small store set up on the side of the waiting area.  Since he liked one at Trader Sam’s in Disneyland that they had run out of, the HippopotoMai-Tai;  well, I just couldn’t resist.  Now we both have a tiki cup souvenir from this trip!

Once we left we took a quick drive to look at some of the cove sights again, then grab more drinks for the day before heading back to the hotel.  We were all looking forward to laze around on the beach.  And laze around I did. It was a super hot day, especially in the sun.  So we grabbed umbrellas with our chairs and set up camp.  And, I had done something I have never done before with my kids at the beach…. SLEEP!!  Yup, I have never napped on the beach with my kids around.  But this day, I cared two shiz less and left my husband to solely watch them, which isn’t that big of a job as the kids are very aware of their surroundings, swim like fish and play in the sand a lot.  I mean, we half ass watch them when we are chilling out on the beach, so he had to use his full ass here really.  😉  haha   With them supervised, I shut my eyes then immediately drifted off into a mimosa nap for a half hour.  It was the most glorious thirty minutes of my life.  hahah  The hot sun, warm breezes, sounds of the waves, gah, it was the perfect place to nap.  Which I never do.  I should change that.

After a few hours at the beach, we decided to hop to the pool and hot tub before getting ready for dinner.  It was real nice but short-lived as we had to get ready for dinner.  I jumped up first, because I take the longest..then I have to get the girls set up with outfits, so it’s just best I shower first.

The sun was starting to set as we headed to George’s on the Cove, on the ocean terrace upstairs, for dinner.  What a gorgeous view!!  HOLY MOLY!  The terrace over looks the cove from a huge cliff.  We were not able to get a table for four at the glass railing, but one set in.  Which worked out great.  The menu at George’s is very eclectic and fun.  I liked it a lot.

We were greeted with a Happy Anniversary right when we checked in, and everyone we saw knew it was our anniversary too.  Super sweet.  Our waiter was real nice.  We started off with a round of drinks and with an app of homemade chips, guacamole and salsa. We ordered our dinner at our leisure, which was super.  We ordered Kalbi skirt steak for me, braised short rib for my husband, shrimp tacos for our oldest and chicken tenders for our youngest.

The view from the table was perfect.  The ocean was our horizon line and the sun setting was golden.  Gah, just made for the perfect ambience.  The breeze up there was chilly, so our girls were freezing, but as soon as food arrived they stopped complaining.  I think also the breezes changed direction.  Our meals were fantastic.  We each shared our dishes with one another, and thought no one had one dish better than the other.  Even the chicken tenders were the most delicious tenders we had ever had.  At the end of our meal, the waiter gave us a gift!!  Can you believe that!?!?!  They gave us two bottles of olive oil from our favorite organic olive oil company.  Which was ironic and so awesome, and thoughtful!

After dinner we went back to the hotel.  As we were driving back we decided to park the car then take a walk over to the town to grab a sundae.  It was about a five-minute walk.  We went by a few cute shops in that town area.  Super cute area filled with quaint shops and restaurants.  Perfect beach town. We ended up stopping at this cute ice cream shop, Scoops.  This place is known for its natural ice cream and ingredients.  They catered to a lot of dietary allergies / vegan lifestyle.  Which vegan items, if you are unfamiliar, often times contain rice or nut based products, like cashew or almond as alternatives to conventional/non-vegan products like cow’s milk or eggs..just FYI.  Our oldest daughter has an all nut allergy so we are constantly asking ingredient lists wherever we go. They clearly list everything vegan, however.  We got some interesting flavors.. peanut butter marshmallow crunch sundae (for me), honeycomb (for my husband), salted caramel (our oldest), and, of course, chocolate (for our youngest).  We had a nice time eating our ‘sundaes’ on the street seating.  They had a very nice set up outside.   Ok, I do have a tiny complaint about Scoops.  The place was beautiful, clean, great flavors, and if I lived in the area I’d probably go back.  But not for sundaes.  I don’t know if you caught my quotations there around sundae.  They didn’t actually serve hot fudge!!  They have listed chocolate sauce, so you read that and scratch your noggin like, ‘what?’. Sundaes is about two things, not even the ice cream so much as it’s about whipped cream and hot fudge! Bahh!

Well.  By the time we had finished our chocolate syrup sundaes we saw that it was real late and headed back to the hotel.  We had to be at the airport by mid morning the next day, and still had a lot to pack up in the room; and by we, I mean me getting everyone packed before it was time to hit the hay.

 

Our last day… Day 12!

Well, this is a bummer to type out, though it was a pretty great last day.

We were all packed up, dolled up and out of the hotel early to grab a bite before heading to the airport. Luckily, we were located about 15 minutes from the airport and our plane was not taking off till early afternoon.  So we had some time.  Which was a huge bonus, as this meant we could literally go anywhere in the area before heading over to drop off the rental.

We had planned to eat breakfast at Richard Walker’s Pancake House.  We actually went.  Sat down.  Ordered drinks.  Got to talking with the waiter, got up and left.  They use peanut oil in their pans, for every dish. We couldn’t eat there.  Thankfully we asked about how they deal with food allergies because their peanut oil use was not listed on the menu.  So important to ask!!  So, a bit deflated we couldn’t get apple pancakes, we opted to go to a bakery we had heard about, Sugar and Scribe.

Holy wow, guys!  This place was unbelievable.  First, just the aesthetics, it was beautiful.  Rustic, welcoming; the aroma of coffee mixing with the pastries is what I figure heaven smells like.  The pastry displays were so beautiful, they challenge some of the boulangeries I had seen in Paris.  That is how beautiful the pastry work appeared.  We grabbed some coffees, waters, an apple turnover, a chocolate ganache cromuffin,  a prosciutto cheddar croissant, and a pistachio croissant.  It may have been the most delicious pastries we have eaten..and we have been around, folks!  (Dear Sugar and Scribe, Please open up here in my town.  TYVM, Fat Me)

We wished we could stay in that bakery all day, but we had to get going!  We had a car to drop off and a plane back home to catch!

The San Diego airport was so pretty, and not hectic as I had figured.  We landed in LAX, which we had been to many times, and is just crazy all day every day, especially compared to this place. We boarded on time and the flight home was seamless. Our girls sat together again on this trip home, which was a huge bonus.  Well, the big bonus was that we got home almost an hour earlier!!  YES AN HOUR!! Sometimes those airstreams work in your favor, girl!

We got picked up by grandma, and walkd into the house and let out that huge sigh.  You know, that sigh of relief that you are finally home.  Home always feels so good. 🙂

 

Even though home feels good, we had such a wonderful vacation that it was hard to say goodbye to SoCal.  

Especially for me. I felt so at home everywhere we traveled. The warm sunshine.  The salty ocean at our feet most days. The surfing community of Malibu. The fluttering palm trees. The postcard perfect views around Laguna Beach. The free parking all over!  The natural wildlife we were able to see. Fixing our daughter’s shoe at the Eames House (she busted her flip-flops and we ‘created’ a new pair out of twine!)  The unusual rock formations of the beaches in La Jolla. The art and architecture.  Laughing hysterically with everyone on Indiana Jones at Disneyland.  The chubby animals at the Zoo. The mirror exhibit at the Broad. Traffic all over LA. The meals that we ate steeped in culture and love. The funicular in Downtown LA. The diverse style in Hollywood. All the family moments.  Gosh!! I am so grateful I can travel with my family.  

It was magical …my soul sang richly with all these sights.

That is what travel does, doesn’t it?  No matter the destination, seeing new environments and cultures enriches us. From within. It leaves us with a feeling that nothing else can create which sticks with us a liftime.  It’s something truly extraordinary.  

xoxo

You Stay Classy, San Diego!

Posted in My Travels

San Diego Zoo and La Jolla Tide Pools and Caves Day 10

I LOVED THIS DAY SO MUCH!!

Day 10!  

It was another day of leaving our hotel in bathing suits because we had a big day lined up.  First, we hit up the Donut Bar for breakfast. We read online that this was the place to get unique donuts…and that there is always a line; and yup, there was definitely a line when we showed up.  My husband went to grab us coffee, at Achilles Coffee and Starbucks nearby, while the girls and I waited in line for donuts.  The wait was about 25 minutes, but the people watching in the area was so abundant that the 25 minutes flew by fast!  The place inside was adorable, and the amount of donuts on display was something else!  There were your average donuts, of course, but also some creative ones like a grilled cheese donut!!

Also, just something I noticed… The donut money is pretty lit in San Diego because the owner had a Ferrari out front with personalized Deadpool and Donut Bar advertising all over it.  (Who knew!?) 

We grabbed our order of donuts and took off for our next destination, where we were going to enjoy those fried babies!  Oh where were we off to?  Well, THE SAN DIEGO ZOO!!  SANDIEGOZOOOMG!! <– That was my tagline the whole morning.  I have been dying to go to the San Diego Zoo since I was a kid.  It’s the work-home of Joan Embery, guys!! JOAN EMBERY!!  

Hmm, I don’t feel your excitement.  Do you know who Joan Embery is?  Well, professionally she is the goodwill ambassador for the Zoological Society of San Diego, but my memories are that she was the only “guest” I cared about watching on The Late Night with Johnny Carson.  She would bring on some of the coolest animals that I had ever seen!! And that those animals would make Johnny and his guests squirm, made it fun!  

We took the donuts, coffee and our kids to a seated are right across from the zoo inside Balboa Park.  The donuts were delicious!  The perfect start to this fun day.  After we wolfed down those donuts we trekked right over to the zoo. We had purchased the tickets before leaving for this California trip, and mapped out where we wanted to start, to make the most of our one day there. We walked in, took a hard left towards the Skyfari.  This is a sky ride from one side of the park to the other.  It is super fun, and a great way to cool down.  The aerial views from the Skyfari were fantastic; you could see inside a lot of the fenced in areas.  Super cool!

After the Skyfari we walked down to the polar bears while stopping at each African animals along the way.  The polar bear exhibit was so great.  We got inside the area where you can see them in the water.  They spent a lot of time just chilling above, so all we could see were their chubby bums.  Once in a while they’d dip their head in or bite at some food that was chained underwater.  Once we walked to the exterior of the pool we could see them up close. through the glass.  They were playing with one another, swimming around and floating. Their floss like white fur outside the water was so fluffy!

From the polar bear we took a walk down the hill towards the hippopotamus.  At first I thought the animal was alone leaning on a small rock, but as soon as I walked to the right I saw the rock was a baby hippo!!  Aweee!  We back tracked to the entrance of the hippos to make our way to the panda bears.  Now, this is the part of the zoo I have been dying to see since we made these plans.  We have never seen a panda up close before! My gosh how cute and CHUBBYYYY!! We saw a mother and son panda, who were so docile and happy just being.   I wanted to jump into the area with them to lounge with them, scratch their bellies and feed them some bamboo.  But I was told I couldn’t go in with them.  Bummer.

From our visit with the pandas we walked up the hill towards the entrance to the treetops.  This zoo is just the coolest place!  We got up to the top, then went to check out some birds and an ape exhibit to the left, then went down an incline to cross the bridge.  We ended up right outside the elephant area, well, right outside a refreshment stop.  We grabbed slushies for everyone, except Mum and Dad’s were vodka soaked.  🙂

So, I love elephants.  They are such a beautiful, smart and bold animal.  This was my favorite part of our zoo trip.  The space was beautiful, and the elephants seemed so happy.  They had two Asian elephants and two African elephants.  They were doing their own things, eating, scratching, frolicking, uhm, poopin’.  haha   We spent a lot of time in this area watching them all.  There were other exhibits peppered around, but it was an elephant sanctuary really.

After we exited the elephants, we made our way up the prairie towards Australia to see the koalas.  This was another stop that we enjoyed.  Koalas are absolutely adorable!! They are so furry and slow paced.  They were climbing up their poles that were laced with eucalyptus.  Munch, munch, munch, snooze.  I swear each lil koala would be awake and asleep in seconds.  They were also chunky, I just wanted to squeeze them!!   We took a walk through Africa before exiting the zoo.  We saw a lot of beautiful animals, and learned so much.  I wish this zoo was closer!

We were all a little munchie, but we had another destination before heading back to the hotel, so we had to make a stop to an In and Out Burger.  We had to!  Their burgers and fries were too good to pass up, and I even had a Coke!  I never drink soda, but man a fountain Coke is hard to pass up in the heat.  Mmmm mm…  soooo good!

Our next stop was to Nicholson Point / La Jolla Tide Pool area.  The plan was to check out that one spot then go to the hotel, but instead we got to the tide pools then explored the whole way down seeing the Children’s Pool, hiking up a cliff, and walking all the way to Shell Beach where we ended up seeing caves.   I want to say that trek was about a mile, but not a straight one because of the turns from beach to cliff/walking path.

This area was the most beautiful sight.  Really, what a special place.  There were tide pools, cliffs, caves, seals, pelicans, lots of waves, sea moss and so much to look at around us.  At this point, the sun was starting to come down, so the sands glowed a warm gold and the ocean was glimmering like a dream.  Our girls were having a blast splashing in the waves then walking in the caves or looking into the pools.  My husband and I had fun doing that, too!   When we exited the top of Shell Beach it spilled out onto a big park.  There were so many people around getting ready to enjoy their nights on the beach.  I loved seeing everyone.  San Diego is hyper diverse.

Our first 24 hours there, and I was in love with everything that we were seeing.  ESPECIALLY THE BEAUTIFUL WEATHER!!!

After we explored the beaches, we headed to our hotel to soak up more sunshine! The sun was still hot, even though it was starting to set more.  We got at least an hour of sunshine time.  Once the sun set we hit up the pool area again.  The kids went to swim with my husband, because they like the abuse of being thrown around by a 6’3″ monster! And, well, I stayed in the hot tub!  Ooh the heat of the hot tub was perfection.  While in there I got to meet some nice people. Once they disappeared my husband got in. We got to have a lot of alone time to talk.  He is a great conversationalist, and I love hearing his point of view of things we experience together.

I also loved that he reminded me that it was time to eat and how he wanted a burrito.  hahah  So we got out of the tub to run to get ready for dinner.  By the time we got cleaned up we realized how late it was, so we went to grab take out again.

Where?  THE SAME PLACE AS LAST NIGHT! haha  It was too good to pass up!  And one of my vacation goals was to eat a lot of burritos while in San Diego.  This time we ordered a few more dishes to try.  Holy glutton over here. But it was worth every calorie.  EVERY ONE.

Before we knew it again, it was almost midnight, and even though our last full day in San Diego would be a relaxing one, we wanted to get to bed.

What a fun day!!!

Next up…our last days, 11 and departure, in San Diego.

And yes, I had to update the look of my blog …again. The phone viewing feature was confusing some people because it was starting the page with the menu rather than the actual post.  This is much cleaner now!  Woo!

Posted in Party Time!

Let’s Fiesta!!

Hello Everyone!

This Saturday we celebrated our daughters’ birthdays.  The theme this year if you can’t guess from the blog title was…a …. FIESTA! Olé!  

Every year we throw a themed party, of our kids’ choosing, and we try very hard to make sure it is not just a theme thrown together, but one that is a special escape for our guests.  Like a few parties of our past that I blogged about before … the Circus, Paris, Japan and Harry Potter.

We are huge admirers of the Mexican culture, all of us but namely me, so I am sort of surprised this theme hadn’t come up before. My thought process to execute this party was to keep with the authenticity of the culture. The heartfelt music, the vibrant colors, the flowers, the rustic street food, the folk art, and the overall natural beauty that we love in Mexico.  It all sounds amazing, and that is because Mexico is amazing!

Let me get started with the details.

We sat down one night to talk about what we could put together to convey the fun of a fiesta in an invitation…and we came up with this!

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The Food was my favorite part of this whole gathering.  I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD.  We ordered catering from Three Amigos in a town nearby.  Our good friends had introduced us to this place through their parties, and it was just a no brainer for this themed one.  and A big thank you to my sister-in-law who went to pick up this for us on her way over!  YOU ROCK!

Our menu selection was simple Mexican street food; it was loved by everyone.  We ordered chips, salsa, guacamole, chicken tacos, beef fajitas, rice, beans and all the accompanying items like lettuce, tomatoes, more salsa and guacamole, sour cream and cheese.  There was a lot of food!!

Then I worked on what to do for the Cake.  At first, I had talked about getting the cake from our bakery, but for some reason my husband and I talked ourselves out of that and made it ourselves.  We loosely designed a cake, then went from there.

Friday before the party I woke up early to bake the cakes (and cupcakes, and brownies, and cookies!).  The cake and cupcakes were a rich chocolate cake.  The brownies were fudge chocolate with a hint of cinnamon, Mexican Chocolate (which is my favorite!) and I made Mexican chocolate chip cookies.  *drool*   As everything was cooling my mother showed up, and we made different color marshmallow fondant for the cake.  We had a lot of fun making a mess in the kitchen, lots of powdered sugar everywhere!  Then I layered the cake with chocolate frosting, then crumb coated it with a vanilla frosting.  It was a pretty tall cake!

Saturday morning my husband, who is the artist, took the cake and layered all the fondant as I stuck on the FIESTA bunting I had made a week prior.

I think it came out pretty great!  Especially for a cake made with so much love from my family.  🙂

The cake was set up with all the treats that I made but also zeppole that my mom made, donuts, butter cookies sent over from my good friend’s mother (huge surprise!), oreos and candies.  The cake table looked like a kids fantasy!

Another one of my favorite crafty things to put together is the photo backdrop for every party.  I think it is a lot of fun and adds another element to the party.  For this I grabbed a serape, an extra-large hay bale, a cactus cut out and some plastic clothes with a printed image of the national eagle to create the Mexican flag.  We ended up having a few sombrero from past parties we have attended, and boom…cute backdrop!  Oh, and mustaches!!

The decorations was an aspect of the party that I wanted to get right.  The one thing that you will see everywhere there is a Mexican fiesta is the colors.  Everything is colorfully bright and cheerful.  I made tissue paper flowers, about twenty of them, to decorate the entrance of the yard along with colorful draping cloths.

Then I hung extra-large papel picado above the patio from the second floor windows.  Which are pretty high, but I didn’t take a shot of them but you can see some of the papers hovering above the heads of our guests.

The tables were set in colorful cloths and as the centerpiece I had fashioned mini serapes with a pair of maracas, a colorful glass vase filled with an array of colored tissue flowers and a Virgin of Guadalupe candle.  It all came together real well.

Then along the back fence I had hung Mexican folk art every few feet.

The party favor came to me totally by luck.  I was walking in a store when I happened to see these pineapple glass jar cups in a set of four.  After a quick hunt in the store, my daughter and I gathered together 24 cups! Yes for 24 kids!  (ay dios mio..I know)   After slipping a piece of colorful tissue inside, and topping the cups with construction paper leaves and handwritten Gracias notes, it was the cutest addition to the day.

Our kids and I decided to dress up for the occasion together.  Usually it is just them, but they love when I put my hair up with flowers, and I think it made our guests and their parents happy to see us all dolled up.  I got a lot of compliments.

We filled the air with Mariachi music, and the party started!  Here are the photos I had taken of the day’s fun:

Posted in My Travels

Our First Day in San Diego Day 9

About five years ago, we had mapped out a whole different California trip than the one we actually took. We planned landing in San Francisco, spending a few days road tripping in a vintage convertible all the way down the coast. Hitting all the major attractions and cities along the ride then stopping in San Diego for a few days. We even planned out a whole new trip a second time, two years ago, going in reverse up the coast in a giant SUV from San Diego to Seattle!!  But. Such is life and as other travel opportunities arose, we had always postponed this California trip.  Then when my husband brought it back up last year, I was not going to let it go by again. We just went for it, editing it down to what we really all wanted.  So if you have been following along, or not, we came up with landing in LA then driving with stops to San Diego, in a normal SUV!

Absolutely happy that we got to make this trip happen this year. And this trip allows us to go back to California to finish our original plans.

Notice that San Diego was always a destination point?  Well, go look!  I have dreamed most of my adult life about San Diego; even if I had never been before. Weird, I know, but there has always been this draw.  Maybe because my genes are direct from Sicilian, where it’s hot, desert-like weather combined with the ocean and an easy going-ness?  Who knows, but I think it may be due to the fact that I am growing tired of Boston’s ten minute Summers, and fifty year Winters.  I mean, who needs this much time out of the sun and in the gloom!!??   Not this bird!!

Ok, I will stop sounding like I am 75yo.  :)~

Day 9!  Woo! We made it to San Diego!

We sadly left Anaheim at 11AM.  We said goodby to Disneyland and made a bee line straight to La Jolla, which was an hour and a half away.  We knew our room would not be ready, but we took off in our bathing suits with hopes that we could make it to enjoy the beach.  My husband is such a sweet person, he changed all the drive coordinates this whole trip so we could drive along the coast (EVEN ON OUR LAST DAY DRIVING TO THE AIRPORT! I know he is pretty awesome). He even took us on a fifteen minute drive after we got to La Jolla just to see some of the ocean.  Explanation… Where we were driving the whole time was not vistas of the ocean so much, but of cliffs as high as buildings! The ocean was in the distance, but the cliffs were so impressive it didn’t matter where the ocean was.  IT WAS SO COOL!!  Everything so far was perfect, and I already felt so at home.

We rolled up to the La Jolla Shores Hotel.  This hotel is very pretty, and in such a convenient location, close to the smaller downtown area of La Jolla, and with parking beneath the building.  It is built in the Spanish style, most likely in the 70s; lots of brown tiles, fountains, piazza in the middle. It was also located right on the ocean.  The view was spectacular!  As soon as we arrived, we checked in (rooms not ready) and ran straight to the beach.  Ahh that sand, how much do I miss it!

We got into our rooms not too long after we hit the beach.  So we each took turns to check it out and put some stuff away.  We finished up at the beach at around 7PM, then went to hang out at the pool/hot tub for a bit.  The pool was a real decent size, and the hot tub was fun.  The kid swam a long time, and my husband and I sat in the hot tub.  Which was so hot that I didn’t want to get out. The jets were in the perfect spots, the timer was over 15 minutes for sure and all the kids stayed away. Man, I miss that hot tub.

One of our traditions on beach trips is to eat a meal on the beach if we can.  Keeping it casual. We grabbed some drinks from a local liquor store then take out from the Taco Stand in downtown La Jolla.  This place rocked and was hella-busy!  We got a mix of  burritos and tacos.  Everything was amazing, so big!, and their salsa was one of the best I have had in a long time.  Totally a must eat spot when you are in San Diego..we know there are a couple of locations in the area.

This day turned to night so quickly!  We were having such a great time laughing and snuggling up that before we knew it the clock said midnight.  So, off to bed we went. We had another big day ahead of us!

 

Day 10 is next where we go to San Diego and La Jolla Cove, probably my favorite day of this whole trip.  🙂  San Diego is a beautiful place.

Posted in My Travels

Disney California Adventure Day 8

Day 8!

Our only real plan was to eat breakfast at Flo’s V8 Cafe in Carsland on this morning.  Oh, and getting MAXPASS.  Which was a big help getting us on the rides we wanted, or repeating rides!

It was another hot day, but not as hot as the day before. Yep, I brought it up again! We got to the park in the same happy manner, the Pixar Fest music playing in the background as we walked to the gates.  We entered Disney California Adventure (DCA) with such a positive outlook, we were all so excited for our day ahead.

Now, DCA’s entrance felt like the old MGM Studios at WDW to me, which as we all know it now as Hollywood Studios, but it will always be MGM to me. And I don’t care.  You enter this park on Buena Vista Street, the main drag of the park entrance. Which is named after a street in Burbank where Disney’s studio company is or was, and that’s the connection from the top of my head.  The street is not all that long, but it branches to the themed areas of the park, from counterclockwise: Grizzly Peak, Paradise Pier, Pacific Wharf, Carsland, a Bug’s Land, and Hollywood Land.  FYI, a Bug’s Land is on its way out soon in favor of a Marvel theme land.

Our visit started with a walk down to Starbucks then we made a bee line right over to Carsland for breakfast at Flo’s V8 Cafe.  It was really hard to not get distracted with trying to do other things before fueling up.  But we did it!  We were floored at Carsland, like, we all were shocked at how engulfed in Radiator Springs we all felt.  We know this Pixar movie pretty well as our oldest daughter was obsessed with it for years and then our youngest jumped on board when she was at that same age.  They both said they wanted to live in that land, and I agreed!  It was spectacular.

Flo’s V8 Cafe was .. just super.  The design was set up after a 1950’s diner with everyone working there dressed from that era.  It was so cute.  We opted to grab breakfast to eat outside in the ‘gas pumps’.  It was perfect.  We had a good spread of food, which was all a great start to our day.  The girls got the brioche French toast with bananas, my husband the waffle and I got the chicken tamales plate, so my husband could eat the eggs. As I don’t eat scrambled eggs.  Everyone left an empty plate, so I think that answers the food question. The French toast was delicious and the waffle was, well, a waffle!  My tamale tasted great, but it was a little bit on the dry side.  (I am a tamales-aholic, so I know my tamales!)

After breakfast we started our big day!

The rides and attractions we experienced, almost in order:

  • Carsland: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree- Our first ride of the day!  You sit in a hitched trailer that a tractor pulls around in a frenzy of whipped turns.  It was sort of like if a Tilt-a-whirl tied to the Scrambler, if you know amusement park rides at all.  Super fun, and lots of laughs.
  • Carsland: Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters-  This ride is adorable!  You sit in roadsters that move along in a choreographed dance to a song sung by Luigi.  You can’t help but laugh on this ride because the cars go in a sequence you won’t quite know because there is no track ahead of you as everything is under the ground.  It’s a lot of driving across the ‘dance floor’!
  • Carsland:  Radiator Springs Racers (twice) – Ok, we all love love love this ride!  It is similar to Test Track in WDW,  the idea being you are in a car that goes through the building then speeds out onto a track… but this BLOWS TT OUT OF THE WATER!  It is so fun! We experienced a different ride, we got on twice, and on the second one we got to race one another (we sat single rider).
  • Pixar Pier: Toy Story Midway Mania- We all love this game!  It’s point and shoot gallery style game on big screens as you ride through, competing with your car mates.  Though this is the same as WDW’s attraction, we all thought it felt like it lasted a bit longer here.  We rode this twice, and both times we got off the ride thinking it was way better than WDW’s!!
  • Paradise Gardens: Golden Zephyr- Super fun ride gliding in a big silver zephyr in the sky.  The view from this ride was special for sure!  We don’t know why it’s called golden when they’re silver; so if you know, pls dm me.
  • Paradise Gardens: Jumping Jellyfish- What a fun ride!  This is a parachute ride that brings you high up into the sky then let to float down.  So cute and the belly giggles from everyone going up and down make your laughter even harder.  Super cute!
  • Paradise Gardens: Goofy’s Sky School (twice)- My my.  I wasn’t a fan of this like my kids were. This is a very jerky coaster.  It reminded me of the one and only ride I don’t like at Disney’s Animal Kingdom … Primeval Whirl.  It’s the same ride disguised with my main man, Goofy!  Jerky at every turn!
  • Pixar Pier: Incredicoaster (twice)- My husband and oldest rode this roller coaster twice, and they thought it was AWESOME! The coaster goes along with Jack Jack and his newly discovered powers.
  • a bug’s land: Heimlich’s Chew Chew- This is not a dig at this land at all, but a Bug’s Land was meh overall. This train was sweet and perfect for anyone with a baby/toddler.  My kids were not all enthralled even if I laughed the entire two seconds the ride lasted.  🙂
  • a bug’s land: Flik’s Flyers- It’s a super cute ride as it’s fashioned as if the bugs used discarded items for this ride-like a Chinese food container, Cool Whip tub, etc. This ride Goes up and twirls around softly.
  • a bug’s land: Tuck and Roll’s Drive’em Buggies- This ride was a bummer for us as it broke down as they were on it.  It’s bumper cars but the kids didn’t get to bump anyone else.  hahah
  • a bug’s land: Dot Puddle Park- The kids definitely took advantage of the water fountains as it was hot!  The theming was great, and the other kids looked like they were having a blast.
  • Hollywood Land:  Red Car Trolley (is this a ride?)- This is a great way to give your feet a break and got us from Hollywood Land to the top of Buena Vista.  The perfect place to get us back to Carsland!
  • Hollywood Land: Monster’s Inc Mike and Sully to the Rescue- On this ride you are whisked away in a taxi following along the rescue story of Boo of Monster’s Inc.  The best part of this ride is Roz at the end before you exit, she is real-time interactive!!  She made fun of some folks in glasses then called me out for recording her on Snap… which was super unexpected!
  • Hollywood Land: Sunset Showcase Theater Disney Animation- Our kids are into the arts, and they miss the Magic of Animation/Animation Station at WDW Hollywood Studios, you know, MGM.  When they heard there was the Sorcerer’s Workshop they had to go to there. They had a blast drawing moving cartoons and checking out the Beast’s Library.
  • Hollywood Land: Guardians of the Galaxy- Mission Breakout- This was ridden by my husband and oldest, it’s a free fall ride that was originally fashioned for Tower of Terror… renovated for this theme.  They said it was just as fun, but a little different.  Not sure what that means, but that’s what I got folks! 🙂
  • Grizzly Peak: Soarin’ Around the World – This was our last ride of the night. I won’t be talking about this ride, it is exactly the same ride at WDW except it was a little smoother on take off. Which is awesome.  What I am going to talk about is this special wait getting on.  The park was closing and we had one last Maxpass for 10PM; the line got pretty long real fast. There was a little boy with his dad behind us. He was pretty amped up talking a mile a minute (his father was making the glazed over face like he was all set).  So, I did what I do, I talk to strangers, especially cute ones. 😉  I knelt down, getting eye level is key with kids, then started a conversation I will never forget as long as I live. This little boy, myself and my two children had the funniest time talking, which lasted forty-five minutes. The ride had an issue, so we ended up waiting in the line together conversing. What a cutie. He was three years old, but wise beyond his years.  He spoke Spanish and we got to exchanging words. We played some games, talked what normal three-year olds talk about, like “colors we liked”, “our favorite animals” and “favorite numbers”.  He had an accent, sounded a lot like Miguel from Coco, HE WAS THE SWEETEST BOY EVER.  He grew so attached to us in this short amount of time that he didn’t want to leave my side. Especially when we got separated into our seating zone lines. He started bawling his eyes out, crying for us and his father couldn’t console him until he saw that there was a fence between us. He could see me, it broke my heart. He ran up to the fence, reaching through, trying to hold my hand. 😦  It was sweet but I felt so sad for him.  After the ride he found me, dragged me by the hand to meet his mother.  Gah what a special kid!

-Symphony Swings was down off and on during this day and we couldn’t catch it while it worked.

We drank and ate:

  • Skim latte, skim decaf caramel macchiato, skim double choc chip Frappuccino- Starbucks inside Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe
  • Chicken Tamale Breakfast- Flo’s V8 Cafe
  • Cars themed Waffles- Flo’s V8 Cafe
  • Brioche french toast w bananas- Flo’s V8 Cafe
  • Vodka Pomegranate Limeade w lemon fizzy foam (two)- Cozy Cone
  • Mac n Cheese- Cozy Cone Motel
  • Corn Dog- Corn Dog Castle
  • Mint chip milk shake- Shmoozies
  • Affogato- Shmoozies
  • Corn on the cob w butter
  • Sourdough bread samples from the bakery tour
  • Water, water, water
  • Carne asada rolls- Lamplight Lounge
  • Lobster nachos- Lamplight Lounge
  • Chicken sandwiches- Lamplight Lounge
  • Cheddar Burgers – Lamplight Lounge
  • Scream Canister (drink)- Lamplight Lounge
  • Open Ocean with a Splash (drink)- Lamplight Lounge
  • The Last Word (drink)- Lamplight Lounge
  • Graham cracker white chocolate caramel apple
  • Mike Wazowski shaped Rice Krispie treat
  • water, water, water, water!!

Dinner reservations were at the Lamplight Lounge. If I had to rate this place on a star system, I’d give it a solid 3.5.

We got seated downstairs on the deck right on the water to the right.  Wow. The location of this restaurant on the water, with the view of the park – namely the Incredicoaster of Pixar Pier- was perfect.  Seriously, it is probably the most beautiful restaurant setting of any amusement park Disney owns.  The aesthetics were real nice.  They designed it with very large cozy chairs set up around oversized coffee tables, which made it feel more relaxed and bar-like. Which was perfect.  The waiter we had was super nice and very well-rounded with the menu.  The cocktails were actually way better than we had thought they’d be.  I got The Last Word, which was so good..I would go back for that! But the food?  Well, I hate giving anything but good reviews but it was just …meh.  Nothing really blew us away.  We got the lobster nachos and carne asada rolls to start.  The rolls were good for the most part, but the nachos were just ok.  Then we got burgers and sandwiches for mains.  We got the chicken sandwich, which felt like it was missing something, and the burgers were decent.  It just felt like something was missing from the things we weren’t all that happy with, know what I mean?

 

Well, after dinner we ran across the park, caught the Paint the Night Parade on our way to Carsland.  We all wanted to see that area lit up at night and ride the Radiator Springs Racers one more time! It was so beautiful at night!! After this, we closed out the park riding Soarin’ then took a leisure stroll down Buena Vista shopping and buying treats for the rest of our trip.

Everything about this park felt spectacular, and we all left saying that this was our favorite Disney Park of them all.  OF THEM ALL!!! There was something about the size and the overall theming.  It felt more like being at an amusement park, the kind of park that leaves you with lots of great family memories.  It left us all feeling, just simply, happy.  It was uncomplicated and fun!

We had a hard time leaving Disneyland behind.  We always felt sad leaving WDW, especially as we spend a ton of days there, settling into a way of life, but Disneyland…it was truly magical. 🙂