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.