Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve- Build a Bear, Games, Ball Drop

New Year's Eve was pretty low key.  I caught up on some grocery shopping and did some returns.  The girls had some gift cards to use at Build a Bear Workshop.  They have been wanting outfits to dress their favorite stuffed animals. Each girl brought 3 stuffed animals that are not from Build a Bear to try on outfits. It's cute that they have a little dressing area for the critters.  We must have been in that store for about an hour before the girls could decide what outfits to get and to try them on all their animals.  Luckily, I found a $10 off coupon and the girls got some outfits that were on sale.  They each walked out with 3 outfits and 1 big smile.

Later in the evening, we attempted to stay up until midnight to welcome the new year.  We watched a movie, played several games including, Simpson Clue and the never ending Simpson Monopoly.  Hubby is a big Simpson fan. I quickly became bankrupt after buying several expensive properties and landing on hubby's hotels.  The girls got so sad that I had no money that we just ended the game after about an hour.  We turned on Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve to watch the ball drop in New York, popped our poppers, made some noise with our very noisy noise makers and off to bed.  The girls camped out in our room with their sleeping bags, tent and kid's camping gear to top it off.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Date Night at Rockwell Table and Stage

Tonight was also date night for hubby and I. The last date we had was our anniversary 6 months ago, so we were due. I was searching on Goldstar for something different to do and came across For the Record: John Hughes Holiday Road Show at the Rockwell in Los Angeles.

What is For the Record? Incredible performers from stage and screen will belt out the most memorable songs from your favorite movies while acting out small scenes right there in front of you -- or beside you, or up on the bar. The show takes place all around you! This Holiday Road version of the popular For the Record series features holiday-themed music and moments from John Hughes classics like Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and more
I bought the cheap seats to save some money. For half off reg. admission I paid $10/ea plus processing fees, we had a date.  The website did tell me that there would be a 2 item minimum per person. I didn't find the menu until later when I discovered how much the cheapest thing on the menu was. It was $5 for a beer. Neither of us drank beer! If that was the cheapest thing, than we knew we were going to pay at least $20 just on drinks. This is turning into a more expensive date than I had planned. I quickly began to search for another coupon for the Rockwell and found one on Groupon. It was $40 worth of food and drinks for $20. I had some credit on my Groupon account from a previous refund; so I bought it. We were really looking forward to having a dinner and show. The part I was not really looking forward to was possibly having to share a table with another couple. Chit chatting with strangers for about 2 hours was not ideal for me. We dropped off the kids and headed out. There is no parking anywhere when we got there. They do have valet parking for $5; but wanted parking on the street for free. We got there early and they seated us at the best cheap seat there was. We then ordered our food. I got the chicken picatta sandwich with captn crunch onion rings and hubby got the blue cheese burger. Both meals were $15 each.  We ordered soda at $3.50; so I guess soda would be the cheapest item on the menu. The food was delish! It was nearing showtime and so far we had a table to ourselves! Even for a sold out show, they didn't put anyone at the other cheap seats. The show finally started 30 min. later. The cast sang all these great 80's songs and had a little skit from each movie to go with the song. They perform all around the tiny room; so your eyes are going in every direction. We had a decent view from our table which was 54, I believe at the 2 seats closer to the stage. The other 2 seats at that table, were really obstructed. We really enjoyed the show and the dinner. It was a super fun date night. Would definitely go back to do that again. They have all different kinds of shows for 2013.

Griffith Observatory

My 8 year old has been learning about planets at school and wanted to take her on a field trip to the Griffith Observatory.  We have been there several times before but wanted her to watch one of their planetarium shows to go along with what she was learning.  We opted to catch the 1st show at 10:45 so we might have a chance at some decent parking.  It was also raining as we drove, so I chances for good parking was even better.  We did get decent parking and made it in time for the show.  the observatory is free; but the shows are not.  I couldn't find any discount tickets for the shows, so we paid full price which was $7/adult and $3/kid to see the Water is Life show.

 Water Is Life takes visitors on a journey through the solar system in search of water. On Earth, water is the key to life. If we find water on other worlds in the solar system, could we find life there, too? Blast off to Mars, crash through the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa, and travel alongside a comet in a search for habitable worlds beyond Earth. Originally conceived and developed for Griffith Observatory’s school field trip program, Water is Life is an ideal family program that will appeal to even our youngest visitors.

 It lasted about 30 min. and the girls loved it because it felt like we were moving in space and the effects of falling rain and snow were very fun.  After the show, the girls were hungry.  We walked back to the car to eat our packed lunch and then walked back to visit the rest of the observatory.  They also had the free demonstration of how to make a comet; but the girls were not interested in that since we have seen it the previous 2 years.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Baking Cookies

I needed to set a whole day a side just to bake cookies cuz it takes forever.  Today was that day.  I went to the store to buy the ingredients and of course the store is out of the sugar cookie dough that I get which was on sale.  I go to the next nearest store, find the cookies and also pay almost double the price.  Ugh!  Luckily, a couple coupons printed at checkout for me to save on something at a later time.  That kind of made up for my cookie dough price. 

I got home and got everything ready for baking day.  I split the sugar cookie dough in half so each girl has their own.  Each girl took turns rolling out their dough in Christmas shapes, put on gobs of candy then into the oven.  We just bake the cookie with candy and do not use frosting.  Frosting these cookies would take forever and they do not have the patience, nor do I to frost all those cookies.  The girls were done with their part and wanted to play.  The rest of the cookies I made were Magic Cookie Bars, Chinese Noodle Cookies, and Butterball Cookies. 

After baking, I promise the girls they could build their gingerbread house kit that we got.  Daddy helped out with that since I was exhausted from baking a cleaning up.  I now have about 6 dozen cookies to eat! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Knotts Merry Farm

The girls (and so did I) wanted to go to Knotts Merry Farm during vacation.  The girls love the rides, Snoopy on Ice and the dancing lights in the evening.  I love it for Snoopy on Ice and to watch the Christmas Carol play they have every year.  All the light in Camp Snoopy are fun to look at too! I found a good deal for tickets on ebay, where we got 4 of them for $70!  It was a lot less crowded this year than last which was really nice.  I think the longest we waited in line for a ride was about 20 min.  We happened to be at the right places at the right times to see all the Peanuts characters and get pictures with them.  Because of the crowds being light, we squeezed in a Peanuts character show and saw the holiday parade.  The parade is pretty sad compared to Disneyland.  The music is played from one float that is in the middle of the parade and a speaker that was really far away.  The parade members were full of smiles and all the characters came out or by floats and got the job done.  The girls and I enjoyed the parade.  I much rather see Peanuts characters than Disney characters any day.  We got on all the rides we wanted to do and saw all the shows we wanted.  We closed our day by looking at the lights in Camp Snoopy and the girls danced around the dancing ground lights of snowmen, bells, and snowflakes as we headed for the exit.

Pretend City

The girls had to come here during their vacation.  We having been coming here once a year for the past 3 years and they still love it.  I'm a little bored of it; but it's for the kids to have fun and not me.  I tried to lure them with other suggestions to go instead; but they wouldn't budge.  So off to Pretend City where the drive is about 1hr. 30 min. to Irvine.  We arrived at lunch time; so we were hoping there would be a little less people playing and more people eating lunch.  There were many people who were leaving when we got there, so that was a good sign.  We got in at $11/person and the girls just kind of stood there pondering at which place they were going to tackle first.  I took them so long to pick a place, I thought we would only be there for 2 hrs. max.  The 1st time we stayed here for 8 hrs!  Their first pick was the grocery store, then moved to the farm and the water table area.  Last time, the water area was their favorite and spent sooo much time there.  This time, they probably spent about 15 min. there the whole day.  Their favorite this time was the pretend greek restaurant. They liked taking turns serving each other meals.  They also loved the library this time.  It was not opened the last time we were here and they enjoyed sitting down in the lounge area to read a book and pretend to be librarians scanning books to check them out.  After visiting areas more than 2 times and making a couple art projects, hubby and I were getting tired of walking around.  We made it to the 4 hour mark and called it quits around 4:00.  We headed back home and made it for enough time to cook some spaghetti dinner.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking at Christmas Lights

The girls ended their day at noon after their Christmas party at school and are now officially on Christmas break!  As a small kick off, we went to look at Christmas light around town after dinner.  It is a must to get some hot chocolate to sip while looking.  There are many houses that go all out that we visit every year.  We have them all programed into the GPS, so its very helpful when driving around.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beverly Hills Holiday Trolley and CityWalk

I read that Beverly Hills was having a holiday trolley ride with Mrs. Clause telling stories and singing and thought it might be fun.  The cost for the trolley is $5/person and $1/child. It runs on the hour and we got there about 45 min. before the next trolley was scheduled to arrive. During our wait we walked around Rodeo Dr. and Doheny where the stores were decorated and had a large Christmas tree with carolers around.  The girls had never been to Beverly Hills and were excited to check out all the expensive shops where we would never step foot in.  The trolley arrived and we were greeted by a Mrs. Clause.  She handed out candy canes and sang one song, stayed on the trolley for about 15 min. then left at a nearby stop.  Not what I was expecting.  The tour continues around Beverly Hills showing us houses of celebrities that once lived in them.  The information during the tour was interesting and the girls enjoyed looking at all the big houses.  We noticed that out of all those houses, we only saw one with Christmas lights on it.  Humbugs! The tour lasted about 45 min.

We left Beverly Hills, and got some dinner at Burger King.  Buy one get the second whopper for 55 cents was the deal for today.  After dinner we went to CityWalk.  We have not been there in a very long time, so we decided to check out their holiday light show and snow fall.  It cost $10 to park.  Good grief!  The holiday light show was nothing great and lasted about 5 min.  The snow fall was bubbles blowing down in a certain area.  My oldest thought it was real snow and started catching it on her tongue.  Regardless, the girls enjoyed all the bubbles coming down on them.  We walked around the stores; but the favorite was the candy store.  We spent a while in there and also watching the indoor sky divers at iFly Hollywood.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Too Many Santa Clause's/Holiday Boat Parade

Today was a busy yet fun day trying to cram in all those free fun holiday activities.  Our 1st stop was the Richard Rioux park where they were having their free holiday celebration.  We never expect much from this small event; but the kids are entertained for a little while.  They have hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies, a gingerbread photo frame craft to make, a few games, a bounce house and a visit from Santa.  The girls were not interested in seeing Santa who was even handing out stocking with goodies in it.  They were way more interested in playing in the bounce house which was all to themselves while the other kids waited in line to see Santa.  We were there for about an hour before our next stop to the local library where another Santa would be there reading stories.

We got to the library and waited for Santa to come and read stories as well as sing songs.  As kids and parents sat around Santa's chair, he came, read a story, then sang some songs.  He was a good story teller and even got some kids on his lap to read with him and help turn the pages.  About 30 min later, he gave opportunity for each child to sit on his lap and tell what they wanted as parents got out their camera for a snapshot.   The girls really enjoyed seeing this Santa.

After storytime with Santa, we went to get our Christmas tree and headed back home for lunch.  We had just enough time to get the tree unloaded into the living room, leaving it bare for a few more days when we have more time to decorate.

We are now off to Marina Del Rey to watch the holiday boat parade.  It's a 45 min. drive and thought by leaving at 4:30 we would have plenty of time to make it to see the firework show that started at 5:55.  After driving for about 5 min., we realized the girls had forgotten their jackets. We turn around, and get the jackets which cost us about 15 min.  We get back on the road and ran into some traffic about half way there.  At this point we didn't have any hope to see a firework show.  We finally got to the parking lot at 5:55 just as the fireworks were starting.  Yeah, we made it on time for the show!  But what does hubby do?  He drives around looking for a parking spot in the other direction of where this short firework show is.  We then stopped in the parking lot to watch them in the car.  Then we left to get something to eat.  I was looking for a Carls Jr cuz I had a coupon for it; but the GPS led us to some apartment buildings, so we ended up at a McDonald's to carry out and eat at the boat parade.
We got back to the parking lot where some lady couldn't read the huge free parking sign and was sitting there for 5 min. with a huge line behind her as she was trying to figure out how to get in.  We finally got in and then walked  what felt like a mile to the parade.  We got there around 6:30, so it was really crowded; but managed to find a spot to view.  It was in front of a very large decorated boat.  What a great spot!  Wrong!  This boat was docked and was not going to move.  We still had a decent size opening to view the boats as we ate our cheeseburgers. 

The boats were festive looking at it was fun to watch what must have been about 70 decorated boats go by.  There were several boats that had Santa's riding on them.  My oldest said, look there's Santa, excitedly.  Then again, look another Santa and another Santa.  Why are there so many Santa's, she asked?  I thought there was just one.  Quickly we had to come up with something before she stopped believing.  The answer was, because he can very quickly go from one place to another.  That answer was good enough for her.  But we must have seen about 15 Santa's throughout the day and are Santa'd out.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Gift Card Bonuses

Purchase a $10 gift card, get a free Peppermint Stick Swirl Shake. Participating locations only. Participating locations only
Barnes and Noble
Buy $75 in gift cards, receive a $10 eGift Card free
Get a $25 gift card when you spend $100 to $199. Get a $50 gift card when you spend $200 or more.Use promo code GCBONUS50.
Receive a $10 Promotional Card when you buy $50 worth of gift cards
Earn a $15 Holiday Bonus Award Card with every $100 in gift cards purchased
Black Angus
Get $5 in Bonus Bucks for every $50 in gift cards that your purchase
Bonefish Grill
Buy $100 worth of gift cards, get a $20 bonus card
Boston Market
Receive a $5 gift card, when you buy a $25 gift card
Get a $20 bonus, when you buy $100 in gift cards
Get a free dinner for two (a $25 value) for every $100 that you spend on gift cards. Ends Dec 31
Buca di Beppo
Receive a $10 Reward Card for every $50 in gift cards that you buy
California Pizza Kitchen
Purchase $100 in gift card, and receive a $20 Rewards Card
Carl's Jr.
Get a free chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich coupon when you purchase a $5 gift card
Purchase $100 in gift cards, get an $20 bonus card
Charlie Brown's
Get a $5 voucher with every $25 gift card purchase or a $15 voucher with every $50 gift card purchase
Cheeseburger in Paradise
Receive a $10 bonus card for every $50 in gift cards purchased
Cheesecake Factory
Get a free slice of cheesecake for every $25 in gifts that you buy
Chevys Fresh Mex
Buy a $50 gift card, get a $10 certificate to use towards your next meal
Children's Place
Get a $10 ecard for every $40 ecard that you buy
Spend $30 on gift cards get a free burrito, bowl or, salad or order of tacos
Chop House
Get a free bottle of steak seasoning with a $100 gift card purchase. Get a $50 dinner voucher with every $500 gift card purchase
Claim Jumper
Receive a $10 Reward Card for every $50 in gift cards that you buy
Get a free Value Basket for every $25 in gift cards purchased
Get a $5 e-gift card for every $25 in e-gift cards that you buy. Can be used online or in store
Del Taco
Buy gift cards and get free food. The more you spend, the more free food you receive
Get a $75 eCard for every $400 in eCards that you buy
Spent $25 or more on gift cards, get a $5 bonus card
Don Pablo's
Buy a $25 gift card, get an extra $5 added to your Habaneros Card
Fleming's Steak House
Get a free $20 gift card for every $100 gift card that you buy
Get a free $10 gift card for every $50 that you spend. Four card limit.
Half Price Books
Get a $5 bonus card when you buy a $25 gift card
Get a coupon for a free chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich with a gift card purchase of $5 or more
Jamba Juice
Buy a $25 gift card, get a free 16 oz. smoothie
Jason's Deli
Earn a $5 gift card, when you buy $50 in gift cards
Joe's Crab Shack
Get a winning scratch off ticket for every $25 that you spend on gift cards
Get a $25 bonus certificate for every $100 in gift cards that you buy. Good at 40 restaurant brands
Kona Grill
Receive a $20 bonus card for every $100 in gift cards
Buy a $10 gift card, get a $20 coupon book
Purchase a $50 gift card, and receive a $10 Reward Card
Longhorn Steakhouse
Score a $5 bonus coupon, when you buy a $25 gift card
Macaroni Grill
Earn a $5 Bonus card for every $25 gift card purchased
Maggiano's Little Italy
Spent $100 on gift cards, get a $20 Bonus card, plus a subscription to Food & Wine Magazine
Max and Erma's
Get a $5 Bonus Holiday Card for every $25 in gift cards
Morton's Steakhouse
Buy $250 in gift cards, get $50
Olive Garden
Get a $5 bonus coupon for every $25 gift card that you buy
Outback Steakhouse
Get a $20 bonus card for every $100 in gift cards purchased. Limit 10
P.F. Chang's
Purchase $100 in gift cards, get a $20 Bonus Card
Qdoba Mexican Grill
Get a $5 voucher for every $25 that you load on a single Q-Cash Card
Buy Redbox promo codes to give (starting at $6 for five rentals), and get a free promo codewith each purchase
Red Lobster
Purchase a $25 gift card, get a $5 bonus coupon
Red Robin
Get a $5 Bonus Buck for every $25 in gift cards purchased
Score a free treat when you buy a $10 gift card
Ruby Tuesday
Buy $50 in gift cards, get a $15 bonus coupon. Includes free shipping too
Smokey Bones
Give $50 in gift cards, get $10 in Bonus Bucks
Sonny's Real Pit BBQ
Receive $10 in Bonus Cards when you buy a $50 gift card
Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes
Earn a free meal pass for every $50 in gift cards purchased
Steak and Shake
Buy $20 in gift cards, get a $5 certificate
Purchase a $25 gift card, and get a free six-inch sub
Taco Bell
Buy $20 worth of gift cards, and get any menu item free
Texas Roadhouse
Spend $30 or more on gift cards, get a $5 Bonus Card
T.G.I. Friday's
Get a $5 Bonus Bites card for every $25 that you spend on gift cards
Tony Roma's
Score $15 in RomaBucks for every $50 in gift cards purchased
White Castle
Buy a $25 gift card, receive a $5 promo card
Tip: See one of your favorite stores or restaurants on the list? Buy gift cards for yourself, and tuck them away to use later in the year. It's an easy way to save.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Events

Halloween Carnival at Northridge Rec. Center.

Today we went to the Northridge Rec. Center for their Halloween carnival.  The kids were entertained with about 15 different carnival type games.  They also got to decorate Halloween shaped cookies of pumpkins or ghosts, make giant hands out of popcorn and plastic gloves, make a Halloween sticker scene and collect candy along the way.  The tick or treat village was neat where kids could go onstage to different houses to trick or treat.  The girls did not want to participate in that though.  They also had a costume contest but we didn't stay long enough for that.

Richard Rioux Park Halloween Event
We grabbed some lunch and went to the next free Halloween event at the Richard Rioux Park.  This is very small, low key, low budget event.  They had a few carnival type games outside, a bouncer to play in and a costume contest.  The girls were here for a short amount of time, then wanted to play at the playground.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Road Trip to Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Sacramento

Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Sacramento

 Vacation 2012

I really like to take road trips because they are cheaper than flying and it's fun to explore new places along the way.  The focal point of the whole vacation was around river rafting.  I found many river rafting companies who give tours in the Sacramento River. So Sacramento had to be a destination.

We decided to go up the coast to Santa Cruz, then to San Francisco and finally to Sacramento.

Day 1 - Driving to Santa Cruz was about a 5 hr. drive, which was not so bad.  The girls had fun spotting how many potato and tomato trucks we drove past.  We got close to our motel when the GPS said we were at our destination.  We were kind of disappointed.  The outside looked pretty run down and had low expectations for the inside.  We were right.  It had the bare minimum, just to get us through the night.  I chose it because it has decent reviews from Expedia, and FREE cont. breakfast.

After settling in, we went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  It's much bigger and better than the Santa Monica Boardwalk we have been before.  They had summer night specials on Mon and Tues. where you could buy hot dogs for $1, cotton candy for $1 and rides for $1!  That was dinner and entertainment for us that evening.  We enjoyed eating hot dogs sitting at a bench outside watching the waves and people playing in the sand.  The girls rode on about 10 rides and concluded the evening with some cotton candy.

Day 2 - From Santa Cruz we went to Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton.  We took the steam train, Dixiana, that went to the Redwoods.  The scenery of the tall redwoods is very pretty.  After the ride, we decided to leave to buy some lunch rather than pay the high prices of food there. We wanted to come back to have a picnic at the tables and hike through Cowell Redwoods. We opted for Subway because they had their $5 foot long turkey special for me and hubby to share.

We ate our picnic lunch, then went to do some hiking at Henry Cowell Redwood Forest.  The hike takes you through a loop and took us about an hour to complete it.  It was very pretty and we even saw two deer!

Afterwards, we drove to The Mystery Spot.  Tickets sell out in the summer, so it's best to order them ahead of time online. Tickets are $6/person plus $5 to park. It was a 45 min tour that didn't take you very far; but the tour guide was funny and the place was interesting.  It was neat to see the mysteries of gravity.  My youngest got scared of walking in the house cuz she kept falling over.  She and I just quickly went through it and watched hubby and my oldest try to walk through it.

After The Mystery Spot, we drove to San Francisco, which was about a 2 hour drive.  The hotel was nicer than the last which was a plus.  We ended up eating dinner at a Denny's which was right next door.  Kids eat Free on Tues!

Day 3 - Driving to San Francisco.  This was going to be our busiest day as we were going to cram in everything touristy in one day.  We left early in the morning around 7:30 to we could make sure to get to the Japanese Tea Garden on time.  If you get there before 9:00 or 10:00 you can get in for free.  We hit some traffic and had trouble finding parking, then finding the place, we barely made it on time.  The garden was beautiful with all the ponds, streams, and trees.

We spent about an hour at the Tea Garden before we headed to find the Golden Gate Playground.  This was another hard to find place.  We didn't realize this area of town was so big.  We spent about 30 min. trying to find it cuz the girls just had to play there.  We finally found it!  The playground is nice and big. But because we had to stick to the schedule, the girls only got 10 min. to play.  They crammed in a lot of playtime in those 10 min.

After playtime, we drove to China Town for lunch.  I read good reviews for the Capital Restaurant and decided to check it out.  We had more issues with parking but found a metered space on the street.  We walked about 3 blocks to get the the restaurant and was told they only take cash.  So, we walked another 2 blocks to the nearest ATM.  Walked back and finally sat down to eat.  This was the girls first memorable time eating Chinese food.  They loved the chicken chowmien and my oldest discovered she loves won tons.  They bought rabbit chop sticks at the Japanese Garden that they used to eat their lunch.

Next stop was to drive through the famous Lombard Street.  The wait was not very long and we were able to drive the crooked road in about 15 min.

After driving Lombard St., we were headed for Pier 39.  We paid $15-$20 to park at a lot for the remainder of our day.  We walked around the shops for a while, saw some sea lions and tried to find the Golden Gate Bridge.  We could not find it from this location.  We also tried looking for a mirror maze that we read was fun but came to the Ripley's mirror maze since we didn't see the other one.  We checked it out and were done in 5 min.  Nobody enjoyed it and it was the biggest waste of money.

We headed to our next stop which was the Duck Tour, the vehicle that goes on land and water.  I found tickets for half price on Goldstar. We all really liked this tour.  The guide told us some information along the way, played some fun music and the girls had fun blowing their duck whistles they give you.  People on the street thought we were the best tourist attraction as they were taking pictures of us.  The vehicle transforms to go in water which takes you around some bay and the guide lets everyone take turns driving it.  My oldest took her turn; but my youngest didn't want to.

After our tour, we were going to eat at The Cod-mother for dinner; but it was closed.  We ate at Boudin Bakery instead, which is famous for their bread bowls.

From dinner, we continued our search to see the Golden Gate Bridge and to find a cable car stop.  After walking several blocks, we finally came to an area where we found both which was all the way at the end of the pier.  It was sunset by the time we got to see the bridge and there was quite a bit of fog where it was; but I still got a picture of the girls standing a million miles away from it.

We stood in line at the cable car stop which was about an hour in the cold.  The girls made a friend while standing in line.  Finally got on and ended up being a fun ride.  A little scary going up and down those steep streets.  Luckily the brakes worked good.  You could tell those brakes are being worked from the smell of them.  After 1 1/2 on the car, we drove to our next destination, Fairfield.  We arrived in Fairfield around 11:00pm and were exhausted.  Our hotels are getting better by each destination!

Day 4 - The Jelly Belly Factory, Fairfield.  They have Free tours!  We toured the factory which I think lasted about 45 min.  It was neat to see how Jelly Bellys are made.  They make you wear of paper hat before you go in.  They have several tv screens that show videos and my girls favorite part was when they passed out samples along the way.  You can even try free samples at the Jelly Belly bar.  They have some weird flavors that we tried such as Baby Powder and Dog Food.

After the Jelly Belly Tour, we got some lunch at headed to Sacramento.  Once we arrived in Sacramento, we took a rest at the hotel before our River Raft cruise in the late afternoon.  This was the highlight of our vacation. This would be our first time rafting, so we felt it would be best to do a guided tour than go floating down the river by ourselves. Who knows how may rocks we would end up hitting or how many times we would be tipping over.  We chose White Water Excitement, Coloma for our tour company and they were awesome!  We met them at a pizza place where they then drove our family as well as one other person in their van to our destination.  We got on board our raft and away we went down the river.  We chose a sunset cruise that is good for families and young children with a class 1 and 2 rapids that lasted about 2 hours.  This was perfect for us.  We saw an otter, and some other nature, my oldest got out to take a dip in the water and the guide was informative. My youngest got scared of the 1st couple rapids; but was having a great time after she got used to it.  It was a really fun trip and was only about $80 for all of us to go  Afterward, we ate dinner at the pizza place they met us.

Day 5 - All about the girls in Sacramento.  We went to Fairytale Town and Funderland so the girls could spend hours playing and riding on unlimited rides.  I found a buy one get one free coupon online for unlimited wristbands for Funderland. One wristband cost $15. It was great cuz the 2 places are right next door to each other and there is a park to eat lunch. In the evening, we went swimming in the hotel pool.

Day 6 - We went to Old Sacramento to rent some bikes, eat lunch and stroll through the shops.  They have carriage rides that we took that can take you to the park.  It was a fun experience.  Once we were done exploring downtown, we went to the State Capitol to take a tour.  Again, finding cheap parking is always the biggest headache.  After searching for the best parking bargain, we parked at made it for the last tour of the day.  I wasn't sure if the girls would be very interested in this tour; but it did keep their interests, especially since my oldest had been learning about how laws get made and the different branches of government.

Day 7 - California Auto Museum, Sacramento.  We ran out of time on Day 6 for the car museum hubby wanted to go to.  So, we made this our last vacation stop before heading home.  The employees there are super friendly and even gave us a private tour of all the cars.  I could care less about the cars but hubby loved this place!  We headed back home for our 6 hour drive that turned into 8 hours cuz of traffic.  We all had a great vacation!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Newport Beach and Harbor Cruise

I bought a Spreebird deal for $21 to do a harbor cruise, pizza and a ferris wheel rides for two at Newport Beach.  My car was in the shop at the only time we could use this voucher, so we borrowed my in laws mini van which was more roomy for the long drive than our Civic.  We left our in laws much later than anticipated and was hoping to make it to our tour on time.  Well, we were a couple minutes late and the boat was about to leave.  The employee at Fun Zone Boats was nice enough to suggest coming back an hour later when we might have a chance to see sea lions.  I said great!  Meanwhile, we went to the pizza place to get our big slices of cheese pizza.  The youngest didn't want pizza; so we brought a lunch from home for her.  After eating lunch, we went to use our Ferris Wheel vouchers.  My 8 year old and I went together.  Hubby and my 4 year old didn't want to go and my daughter discovered she does not like ferris wheels.  We were on there for a good while that we had to tell them to take us off since our boat tour was about to start.  We chose to sit on the top part, outside of the boat to get a nice view of the harbor.  We saw several sea lions on the tour.  Apparently, we were the 1st tour to see them in a while.  The girls loved spotting the sea lions and could care less of what famous person lived in the huge houses.

After our harbor cruise, we went to Corona Del Mar State Beach which was about 10 min. away.  We had to climb our way up some rocky paths to make our way down the other side where the cove was.  We made it down and discovered the cove was not as big as I expected.  We found a shady spot in the cove to set up.  The water is very very calm.  The girls were able to play in the water without waves knocking them down or taking them further in the water.  There was also a nice sand area for them to play and lots of shells and little crabs found in the rocks nearby.  This is a great beach for families an small kids. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Petersen Automotive Museum and Castle Park Mini Golf

Today is hubby's birthday.  He wanted to go to the Petersen Automotive Museum, Mini Golf and eat In N Out Burgers.  So that's what we did.  I found a buy 1 get 1 free coupon for the Petersen Car Museum on a website, so we saved $8.  Admission for kids 5-12 is $3 and kids under 5 are free.  Hubby and my 4 year old daughter really enjoyed looking at all the cars.  She wanted to take pictures of every single car there.  I must have 100 pictures of her and those cars.  It's a pretty big place with 3 levels, so we were there for at least a couple hours.  The 3rd level is mainly targeted for kids where they have a couple cars you can go inside, coloring area and some car related science exhibits.

Afterward, we went miniature golfing at Castle Park.  We never come here, so my youngest was not used to the "greens" here.  I guess it was a little harder than where she's used to playing at Mountasia. She kept getting frustrated while playing cuz her ball didn't go as far or didn't go where she wanted it to.

At last it was time for the In N Out Burger dinner.  The girls don't like In N Out (how dare they), so we made a separate McDonald's run for them at ate dinner at home.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ronald Reagan Libary July 4th Celebration

Ronald Reagan Library
Monday July 4th, 2012
10:00 am -3:00 pm

To celebrate our Nation’s 236th birthday, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is hosting a day full of family-fun activities. This year’s celebration includes patriotic concerts, family entertainment, games, crafts, and more. All outdoor activities are free; however, regular admission rates apply to visit the Museum and exhibits. Schedule of Events.

Friday, June 22, 2012

10th Anniversary in San Luis Obispo

Our 10th Anniversary was on a Friday this year and we decided to leave the girls to spend the weekend at the grandparent's house.  This was the first time we would be leaving them for this long of a time.  Hubby and I agreed that we both would like to take a food tour during our get a way.  The only ones we knew that would be a decent drive is in Newport Beach and San Luis Obispo.  We didn't find much we wanted to do in Newport so we went to San Luis Obispo.  This was not going to be a frugal trip; but I did try to find deals where I could. I found some discounts on SLO Car Free.  The website promotes clean air and encourages you to be car free.  I got a $10 discount for the Central Coast food tour.  I also got a 15% off discount on the Apple Farm Inn we were staying.
We left on Friday and drove 3 or 4 hrs. to our first destination in San Luis and ate lunch at Splash Cafe'.  They have award winning clam chowder; so that's why we went to check it out.  Apparently they have 2 locations.  One is by the beach in Pismo at the other next to the street in San Luis.  I picked the wrong one next to the street.  Oh well.  I ordered the clam chowder in the bread bowl and hubby ordered fish and chips and ate outside.  Both dishes were very good.  It is the best clam chowder.

After lunch we drove to Avila Beach to rent a couple bikes.  The only bike trail we saw was right near the street.  We drove up and down the road but didn't see any other bike trails.  So far, things were not going well.  We finally called the bike rental place and they said there is a bike trail that is not by the street.  We drove up to find parking and found the bike rental place, Joe Momma's Coffee.  We rented 2 cruisers at about $8/hr. each.  The girl was very friendly and told us where the trail was.  After a bit of a walk with our bikes in tow; we found the trail.  I had not ridden on a bike in a very long time and was very wobbly when I first got on.  It was so embarrassing.  I eventually got the hang of it and headed down the trail.  It was a very pretty trail with lots of trees.  We crossed a bridge that had a large stream underneath.  We were out riding for about 30 min. until the trail came to an end to a busier and not so pretty section.  That's when we turned around to head back.  There was a lot of downhill riding on the way up; so we had to deal with all the uphill riding on the way back.  We were so tired, we barely made it up without having to walk the bikes.  We got back to the bike rental about an hour and a half later.  She charged us the cheaper amount by giving us the half day rate than charging us for 2 hours, which was nice.

It was now check in time for our hotel at the Apple Farm Inn.  We drove about 20 min. before we arrived at the very cute and charming Inn that has a stream right outside.  We got a room right next to it.  We rested for a little while before heading out to dinner at Steamers in Pismo Beach which was about 15 min. away.  We made reservations ahead of time to get a window seat.  We only waited about 5 min. before we were seated next to a window looking out at the beach watching the waves crash.  I ordered the surf and turf and I think hubby ordered a chicken dish.  The steak was OK. a bit dry.  Maybe, I'm too picky about my steak.

After dinner, we went to the American Melodrama Theatre in Oceano which was about a 10 min. drive.  We wanted to do something different and both of us thought this would be fun. We saw a western show that was full of comedy and good performers.  At intermission time, the performers become the servers if you would like to go to the back for a snack or a drink.  We thought that was kind of neat that they run the whole place.  The show lasted about 2 1/2 hours and we paid $22 for each seat.  Would definitely go back again. Around 11:00 pm, we drove back to the Apple Farm to get some rest.

On Saturday, we went to have light breakfast of cereal and a muffin at the Apple Farm restaurant before heading out to our food tour.  We got to our destination which was a chocolate shop and was greeted by our guide, Yule.  It looked like we were the only ones there taking the tour.  We sat down and he served us our 1st food tasting of a chocolate truffle and a decedent chocolate shake.  Yule was very informative on the chocolate we were eating and where the cocoa beans came from. The 2 items both were very good.  As it turned out, we were waiting for some late arrivals who got lost. The 2 girls joined us and we walked to the next place which was a Mediterranean restaurant.  Some of the Mediterranean food was new to me, so this was fun to try.  We then walked downtown to a pub that served us mac and cheese and beer.  I do not like beer; but drank it anyway; but the mac and cheese was delish!  Yule, gave us a wealth of information about the history of every place we went. We stopped off at Gumball Alley where all the chewed up gum is stuck on a wall.  Yule gave us some gum to chew and stick on ourselves.  We then went to a nearby oil and vinegar shop to taste different kids of olive oils.  I love olive oil; but too much does not agree with my tummy.  Luckily, I was OK.  We then walked to a mission and our guide gave us much history about that as we toured the inside of it.  We stopped at a winery to have some wine tasting with cheese and crackers.  I also don't like wine; but drank it anyway.  I did like the cheese and crackers though.  Our last stop was a restaurant where we got dessert.  I don't remember what it was; but it was good.  Our tour lasted about 3 1/2 hours of walking, talking and eating.  It was a very fun experience.  We drove back to the Apple Farm to rest.

After a little rest we decided to go downtown on the trolley to walk around some more and eat some more for dinner time. The trolley driver made us nervous.  He had forgotten how to drive the thing and had to call someone to get directions on how to drive it.  We were the only ones on there and were hoping we didn't have to go very far.  After the few minute drive, we quickly got off to wander the shops. After wandering around it was almost our reservation time.   We had seen a restaurant called Novo during our tour that was along a tree lined street with a stream next to it.  It looked very pretty and so that's where we decided to eat.  It was packed; but luckily we got seated outside.  It was decorated with pretty white lights strung and heat lamps to keep us warm.  There was a wedding party celebrating next to us.  I was not very hungry; so I just ordered an appetizer, the Avocado Spring Rolls.  They were soooo good!  We also shared some chocolate truffles for dessert; which were so rich and good!

After dinner, I was soooo stuffed that I could barely walk.  We walked over to the trolley stop to wait for the next trolley to come.  After about 10 min. of waiting we realized this trolley only stops on the weekdays.  We had just seen the last trolley drive by at a nearby stop.  We had to walk all the way back to the Inn.  Great, more walking.  I guess it was good exercise to walk off all that food I ate.
We finally got to our room and hit the hay.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the Apple Farm restaurant.  We used the $10 free voucher they gave us at check it, so our bill was not very much.  We walked around for a little while exploring the Inn before packing up.

Our last stop of our anniversary weekend was the Sycamore Mineral Springs for a soak in the hot tub.  The cost is $13.50 per person per hour.  They gave us a couple towels to rent and gave us a tub at the very top.  Note bring your own towel.  We went earlier in the day; so there weren't very many people.  The private tubs are surrounded by trees and it's very pretty.  We brought some apple cider we had left from the Apple Farm Inn to drink.  We enjoyed our hour soak and headed our long drive back home. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tom's Farm in Corona & Jet Skiing

Today is Father's Day and also happens to be my birthday.  I really wanted to go jet skiing for my birthday and hubby didn't really care what we did for his Father's Day. After a falling out on another jet ski place from Groupon, we decided to go to All Day Jet Ski in Lake Elsinoire despite the fact the lake is full of green water.  We thought it would be fine to jet ski in the green water since we were not going to be swimming in it.  On the way to jet skiing, we stopped at Tom's Farm in Corona.  It's a cute little place with shops, restaurants  and attractions for the kids.  We walked around for a little while in the shops.  I felt that Father's Day was overshadowing my birthday as everyone would say to hubby, Happy Father's Day, Happy Father's Day.  I guess it can't be all about me all the time; but my birthday should be all about ME!  We also went to the petting zoo area, the girls went on a train ride and a tractor ride.  They have a magician that comes out; but the girls didn't want to stay for that.

We packed a lunch to have a picnic at the lake.  We got to the lake, put out the blanket and started to eat when we noticed the company of bees all around the grass.  So, we packed up all are lunch and ate in the car that was 90 degrees hot.  We quickly finished lunch at walked to the Jet ski place, All Day Jet Ski, which is right on the sand.  The customer service was great and we were ready to go within 10 min.  We had made reservations ahead of time for 2 jet skis for the 4 of us.  It was the girls and hubby's first time on a jet ski and we all had a blast. We got an hour of riding, which was the perfect amount of time cuz my fingers were getting tired from holding the gas lever so long. 

Later, we went to dinner at Kisho, Valencia to eat at the tappan grill.  We enjoyed the "show" while they cooked.  The food is OK.  I got a tummy ache after from all the oil they use in the food.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Los Angeles Zoo

Yes, it's a zoo to come to the zoo on Memorial Day weekend; but that is what we did.  We came later in the day when the lines had gone down a little.  I bought some tickets on ebay at $20 for the 4 of us to get in.  This was the first visit to the zoo for youngest since she was a baby.  The zoo is not our most favorite place to go; but thought my youngest needed to go out and see some zoo animals.  They had more fun at the playground area than the zoo part.  They did really enjoy the petting zoo though.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day- Fiesta Days, La Canada



Saturday, May 26

Vintage Car Show – La Cañada Memorial Park – 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Family Flick, Memorial Park – Movie Puss & Boots at 8:30 PM (as soon as it is dark enough)

Sponsor: State Farm Insurance, Barbara Marshall and other local businesses

Bring your blanket/chair; no host snack bar will be open.

Sunday, May 27

 La Cañada High Jazz Band 6:30 p.m

 Fireworks Show Sponsor, Allen Lund Company – Thank you!!
 Fireworks Show – 8:45 p.m. (as soon as it is dark enough)

Monday, May 28

 Afternoon In The Park (Food Court, Games, Music and more) La Cañada Memorial Park - Noon – 3:30 p.m.

 Food Court – La Cañada Memorial Park – 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 Music in the Park – La Cañada Memorial Park – 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Sponsored by the City & Valley Sun)