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Dec 31
icon1 Susan | icon2 Special Days | icon4 12 31st, 2009| icon3No Comments »

It’s New Years Eve today and I know that a lot of parents will be enlisting the help of sitters so they can go out and enjoy the New Year’s Celebrations.  For some parents, that won’t be an option and for others, celebrating with the entire family is another age-old tradition.  For me, I am fighting a upper respitory infection with major pleurisy (inflammation of the lungs), so we will be home bringing in the New Year.  I actually prefer that because I am not a huge fan of being in crowded areas where I cannot hear the person next to me.  I will probably be sleeping in on New Year’s Day and eating some Dduk Guk (Korean rice cake soup traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day) in the morning.  My husband and I grew up on those traditions and it’s great to pass it on to my children.

When I was checking my email today, I came across a bunch of activities that families could do together on New Year’s Eve.  It was compiled by ParentsConnect.com (a very good resource I use).  So if you are in the Los Angeles area, I have the list for you.  If you live in another city or state, just go to ParentsConnect.com, and click on your City, then click on Events.  You will get a whole list of events for today!

Thursday, 12/31

Rock on! Ride on! New Year’s Eve
(through Thu, Dec 31)
Revelers can ride the rides, dance in the streets, and count down to a midnight fireworks display in Calico Square. Tickets are still available as we go to press…
Location: Knott’s Berry Farm
Cost: Adults $38; Children (3-11) $18, (under 3) free; Passholders free
Ages: 6 – 18

Rollin’ in the Years
(through Thu, Dec 31)
The skating rink sets its clocks ahead to celebrate New Year’s Eve by day, allowing families to ring in 2010 together – on wheels…
Location: Skating Plus
Cost: $7.50; Skate rental $2.50-$4
Ages: 4 – 18

Fireworks in the Marina (FREE!)
(through Thu, Dec 31)
The fireworks extravaganza over the main channel features one firework shot into the air for each second, counting down to midnight, followed by a full display lighting up the sky…
Location: Burton W. Chace Park
Cost: Free
Ages: All Ages

Kidspace at High Noon
(through Thu, Dec 31)
Young revelers are invited to ring in the new year (12 hours early) with special festivities, balloons, and a sparkling apple cider toast…
Location: Kidspace Children’s Museum
Cost: Free with Kidspace admission
Ages: 2 – 9

Noon Year’s Eve Celebration
(through Thu, Dec 31)
The Discovery Cube gets in the noontime swing, counting down to 12 o’clock and applying scientific principles to seltzer rockets, without keeping anyone up past bedtime…
Location: Discovery Science Center
Cost: Free with paid admission
Ages: 3 – 17

New Year’s Eve Cele-brick-tion
(through Thu, Dec 31)
Children and their parents get to ring in the New Year before bedtime at an event that includes a performance by [get performer details] a countdown followed by a huge LEGO brick descending 22 feet, and a dazzling fireworks display…
Location: Legoland California
Cost: Free with paid admission
Ages: All Ages

Dec 24
icon1 Susan | icon2 Experiences, Tips | icon4 12 24th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Did you ever stop to think how “wasteful” Christmas is?  It’s probably the time of the year when we collectively increase our carbon footprint on this earth.  With all the wrappings that are used, then thrown away, and all the driving that we do from store to store, it really becomes toxic.  My family and I try our best to reduce our carbon footprint in the little things that we do on a daily basis.

One day I was reading Jenslist, my daily newsletter for everything LA, and came across a post about an opening for The UCLA Family Commons.  I love when I hear about new places and new things.  They offer mindful awareness, yoga, coaching, martial arts, and many more classes coming soon.  One thing that catched my attention immediately was the free eco-wrapping that they were doing for Christmas presents.  Of course, I had to get my gift wrapped in a eco-friendly manner.

When I went there, they had set-up shop in front of the building.  Immediately, I was welcomed by the warm staff.  I could not help but stare at the eco-friendly wrappings, all accented and finished off with beautiful fabrics donated by designer Cynthia Vincent.  The name behind the eco-friendly wrapping extraordinaire: Sonya Nimri (Artist in Residence at The UCLA Family Commons), who is a mother, professional crafter, and author of Beadalicious and Just for the Frill of It.  She was very welcoming and had such a great spirit.  She also mentioned that she was going to teach art classes there, so be sure to check that out.

Eco-Wrapped Gifts at The UCLA Family Commons

Eco-Wrapped Gifts at The UCLA Family Commons

Sonya Nimri eco-wrapping my gifts

Sonya Nimri eco-wrapping my gifts

Our eco-wrapped presents looked like designer wear.  Out of all honesty, it put shame to all those presents that are wrapped at department stores.  If you want to follow a certain fad, then jump on the eco-wrapping bandwagon.  Not only will your gifts look très chic, you can reuse or recycle them after use.  So try to be conscious this Christmas and all those that follow.  Make sure to check out The UCLA Family Commons, as it’s definitely a privilege to have a whole center based on the well being of families.

Dec 18
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 12 18th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Our kitchen is filled with stainless steel bowls, spoons, forks, chopsticks, cups, mugs, just name it.  Well, a lot of those items, I grew up with.  When I got married, I did not have a registry or asked for any gifts, so my kitchen looked pretty bare.  When my mom came to help us out with our first child, she looked at our kitchen, and her jaw dropped. That’s when the nagging started, “I cannot believe you could live like this, you don’t have anything!”  You know how moms are (I am one too now).  So my mom shipped half of her kitchen to my place, which I was not pleased with because I am not a fan of clutter.  Anyhow, a lot of the kitchen utensils, plates, bowls, were some that I was very familiar with because I grew up with it, or shall I say, it grew up with me.

The stainless steel kitchen items looked as good as when I used it when I was barely in elementary school.  What I love about stainless steel products are that they are manageable, functional, and sleek.  Plus, they are eco-friendly, something all of us should be conscious about.  Most of the stainless steel items I have seen come with a lifetime warranty.  From my own experiences so far, I definitely believe that they do last a lifetime.

I wanted my children to have an alternative to the plasticware that they use (the plasticware that my children use are safe, tested, and do not contain anything harmful).  After some research, I came across the Anyware Collection from Untangled Living.  The collection contains a bowl, square plate, cup, fork, and spoon, all made of stainless steel.  It’s 100% made for children, but you’ll catch me from time to time, eating a snack out of the square plate.  The second my daughter laid eyes on the collection, she loved it (I mean how could she not when it had her favorite butterfly on it).  From the first day she got the set, she has been using it everyday.  Even if she’s not using the spoon or bowl, she still wants to have the entire set laid out before her.

Anyware Collection (Butterfly)

Anyware Collection (Butterfly)

I love that the collection is simple in design, easy to wash and maintain, and eco-friendly.  With any good product, there is always a story or message behind it.  Sue Volpe, mother and mind behind the Anyware Collection wanted a low maintenance and healthier alternative to plastic.  With children in mind, she was able to come up with her stainless steel collection.  She says, “As we raise our children, let our choices be conscious. Let us be the generation to raise our kids in full awareness. Let us give this gift to ourselves and our families – the gift that brings us happiness and health.”  Being a mother myself and always striving to be conscious, these words speak to me in mounds.

If you want an alternative to your children’s plastic dishes, cups, bowls, and utensils, I highly recommend the Anyware Collection.  You and your child will feel good about using it.  It’s one step towards conscious living.  I know my daughter will thoroughly enjoy hers for years to come and maybe I can ship half of my kitchen with her, when she moves out on her own!

Dec 17
icon1 Susan | icon2 Event | icon4 12 17th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Want to give the environment a holiday gift?  Join thousands of shoppers in LA County in using reusable bags in lieu of disposable ones for 24 hours.  I actually carry reusable bags in my diaper bag all the time, but it would be nice to know that other fellow citizens of this world are making the effort to reduce their own carbon footprint.  As an early Christmas present to you, Heal the Bay has a bag giveaway at 50 locations for you.  If you like free stuff, go there and get your bags and help the environment.

Today December 17th, 2009 marks Heal the Bay’s third annual “A Day Without a Bag.”  Held on the third Thursday of December, this event will give away more than 20,000 reusable bags at 50 different locations.  Join in on the festivities by using reusable bags.  It will also save you the trouble of sorting through unwanted shopping bags that end up going into the dumpster.  So if you live in LA County, be a part of this joyful movement!

Dec 14
icon1 Susan | icon2 Tips | icon4 12 14th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Watch video here.

Holiday Online Shopping Tips  from Microsoft’s “browser moms”:

  1.  Always be Prepared – Before you start shopping, make sure you’re running the latest and greatest technology.  You can keep all your software current with Automatic Updates, and click here to ensure you’re running Internet Explorer 8. 
  2. Stand Up for Yourself – We want to make sure you have the best defense.  For online shopping, this means using firewall, antivirus, antispam and antispyware software.  For an added layer of antivirus protection on your PC, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free or find other antivirus solutions.  
  3. Look Both Ways – Online, you need to be aware of phishing scams and malware.  By default, Internet Explorer 8 runs its SmartScreen Filter to block and warn you of malicious software or phishing threats.  
  4. Expect the Unexpected – In addition to the usual bullies, there are new methods for criminals to get your personal information online.  Internet Explorer 8 helps protect you against these types of attacks as well. 
  5. Only be Friends with Kids on the “Nice” list- Internet Explorer 8 helps you avoid deceptive Web sites that may trick you with misleading addresses.  The domain name in the address bar is highlighted in black to help identify a Web site’s true identity. 
  6. Don’t Gossip, Keep Your Secrets – When you’re shopping for a surprise gift (or helping Santa with his list), it’s a good idea to use Internet Explorer 8’s InPrivate Browsing feature – it ensures your browsing information is not left on your computer – so your tech savvy child or spouse can’t dig up your past purchases.    
  7. Follow the Signs – When you’re shopping online, make sure your payment websites uses encryption.  There are three indicators to look for to confirm this:  a) An “s” after http in the Web address – it should read https: b) A tiny closed padlock in the address bar, or at the lower right corner of  the window. c) If you’re running Internet Explorer 8, look for a green address bar as a sign of  trustworthy web sites.
  8. Don’t Talk to Strangers – Never respond to unsolicited requests to update your account information.  These email messages could be scams used to steal your identity.  Most legitimate companies never send unsolicited email or instant message requests for your passwords or other personal information.

Dec 11
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 12 11th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

I actually came across the Mytouch before it even came out on the market and before it even had a name.  I was anxious to know more about it and give it a test run.  Since I have been a T-Mobile customer forever (since I started using cell phones), I wanted to know more about this phone that is matched up against its competitor, the Iphone.  When the Iphone came out, I have to be honest, I contemplated on switching over to AT&T.  However, I had my loyalties with T-Mobile, and stuck with them.  Instead, I got my Blackberry Curve and loved everything about it.

I am not a tech geek or someone who knows a lot about cell phones in general.  When phones are good looking and make me look good while using it, I like to know more about it.  I am not vain, but its like buying a pair of shoes.  If you like the design and look good wearing it, you want to buy it.  Of course, I also like email capabilities, web browsing, and other little girlie things, but if it’s ugly, then I pass.  When I initially saw the pictures of this “3G” phone before it was called Mytouch, I definitely gave it a double take.

mytouchRecently, I was able to loan the phone out for 2 weeks from T-Mobile for my review.  When I received it, I loved that it came in its own black case (pretty thick I must say).  It felt pretty executive and powerful (I felt money behind it).  Once I opened the case, the right side had the phone, and the left side had all the accessories (ear phones, charger, etc).  The loaner that I received came in Merlot, it was pretty and sleek, but I actually prefer the white, it’s more me.

After I got past the design of the phone, which I love, I got to start the phone.  The screen opened up to this little android with a finger telling me to touch it.  The initial setup was easy, as I had to enter my gmail address, and it opened me up to the world of Mytouch. When it comes to 3G, touch screen, android platforms, I am like a newborn.  I have no experience navigating one or even trying one.  So if you are a tech/android/experienced 3G user, you may want to turn away now because I am giving my opinion as a mother/novice/amateur regular Blackberry user, who doesn’t even know 90% of what her Blackberry can do for her (I love speaking in third person).

First, I loved using the touchpad to make calls. At first, I thought the numbers were so close together, I didn’t know if my fingers were small enough to press the numbers (I have very small and thin fingers).  However, to my surprise, it actually correctly put all the numbers on my screen.  I was impressed!  Another important factor was the web browsing.  I touched the globe symbol and was able to go onto the Google page.  I loved the fact that I could touch all the letters to do my search.  I went to my favorite sites and loved that I could zoom in and out.  As a mother, everything has to operate quick and easy, and it definitely met my needs.

Another thing I got to try out was the GPS system.  I liked the fact that it gave me a detailed description from my place to the end location, but I did get lost.  Not the phone’s fault, actually the University was undergoing major reconstruction.  Even my friend liked the GPS over her boyfriend’s Iphone.  I did not get to try out the camera or the video, only because those are not my main interest on phones.  I only looked at things that I would need on a daily basis, which is good call quality, email, web browsing, and GPS.  The Mytouch did well on all of those things.  Plus, it’s cute and sleek, and fits perfectly onto my small hand.

Would I consider purchasing this phone?  Definitely!  I know that there are a lot of other smart phones/cell phones that can probably do everything that I am looking for, for a lot cheaper (full price), but I like to have a phone that gives me options.  Hypothetically, let’s say one day I decide to become a full fledged gamer (which I won’t), and I want to download games, the Android platform will become very handy for me.  I love that the Mytouch, is all about putting your touch to the phone and personalizing to your own needs.  As a mother and a smart phone user, I would feel comfortable using this phone and feel it offers me everything I need.

Currently, you can get the Mytouch for $149.99 with a 2 year activation.  I am tempted to get one, but I will see if the holidays will bring me one, or I may just have to put it on my own wishlist.

(Disclosure: T-mobile gave me a loaner for a 2 week period for review purposes. This review is based solely on my personal opinion and experience and results may vary person to person.)

Dec 9
icon1 Susan | icon2 Sale | icon4 12 9th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

adensale

Dec 7
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 12 7th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Well, if you are looking for a really nice gift to give someone or their family this Christmas, this next find is definitely a must.  Your whole family will get excited over it and will create everlasting memories.  What am I talking about?  I would like to introduce to you, SodaStream Soda Makers. It’s amazing, innovative, and eco-friendly.

pure-grey_seltzer_starter

When our family received the Pure Sodastream Soda Maker, it turned our so-so just-another-day into a fascinating, eye-lit, eye-brow rasing family event.  My daughter was interested in seeing what this cool looking machine would do, I had curiosity spelled all over my face, and there was my husband who was for the most part,”the skeptic.” 

We all sat around our kitchen table and started to set up the machine.  Let me tell you, I am always the one that installs things backwards, misses vital parts that are needed for the product to operate, and at times, the instructions are so hard to follow that it becomes one giant science project.  So when I say something is easy to install, it really is that simple, and something that doesn’t require you to sit around for hours, to figure things out.  With this soda maker, I snapped in the top to the base, then I screwed in the carbonator to the top, and it was ready for use.  Very easy and literally took seconds!

Once we did the initial setup, we filled the bottle with water (to where it is indicated), then we screwed the bottle in, pressed down on the handle (three times to which you hear a loud buzz), and we got fresh homemade carbonated water.  My daughter was so excited about all the Sodamix flavors that we received, we decided to add the flavor to our carbonated water.  After we carbonated the water, we took a capful of Cranberry-Rasberry Sodamix, and added it to the bottle.  Automatically, you see and hear the water fizzle up (very cool to see). We shook it once and then opened it, and had a little foutain action coming out of the bottle.  It took us by surprise and we just had to smile and laugh (my daughter couldn’t wait and started to lick the drink off the table).

sodabrie

We poured our homemade cranberry-rasberry carbonated drink into three cups and took our first sampling.  Wow!  It was crisp, light, refreshing, and delicious.  After having the first taste, I wanted to invite all my friends to show off my new baby.  I don’t think I could ever go back to buying store bought carbonated drinks.  You can’t beat anything that is made in the comfort of your home.  Plus, you know what’s going into your water or shall I say what is not going into your water.

The SodaStream Soda Makers come in a variety of models, but I love the one I received.  The Pure model is sophisticated in design, giving you that added modern-sleek touch, and gives functionality to even to the smallest kitchen because it takes up very little countertop space and very easy to clean (stainless steel).  Since you don’t have to plug it up to any electical outlet , you can pretty much place it anywhere you please.  Some of the noted features are: automatic access gas release mechanism, customized carbonation level, and metal dip tray.  I also love their Sodamix Flavors which come in 30 different flavors and include Diet and Energy flavors as well.  For those who want a hint of taste to their seltzer or sparkling water, there is also the Mywater Flavor Essence, which comes in Berry, Lemon Lime, and Orange.

SodaStream is also a “conscious” and “active green” product. Every time a soda or sparking water is made at home and not purchased from a store, we are reducing our carbon footprint.  On top of that, there is less packaging waste from cans and bottles and less pollution caused by the transport of bottled beverages.  I’ve said this before and I will say it again: As citizens of this world, we have the responsibility and obligation to take care of the world we are living in. We are not perfect, but we have to make a conscious effort in reducing our individual footprint on earth and being active in that process.  I love that Sodastream is enviromentally friendly and gives consumers the option to make that conscious choice and actively take part in conscious living.

After the first use, I was sold on the SodaStream Soda Makers, especially my Pure Model.  I love the sophistication in design, the fuctionality in any kitchen, and the portability that it has because it does not use electricity.  It’s easy to use and clean.  The added bonus, it’s environmentally friendly, and gives you that one step up from the next product, letting you become that conscious consumer.  For those reasons, I think this would be a great gift for yourself, your family, or just anyone you care about, for them to enjoy and use for years to come!

 (Disclosure: Product was provided free of charge for review purposes and does not affect my views or feedback of the product.  This review is based solely on my personal opinion and experience and results may vary person to person.)

Dec 2
icon1 Susan | icon2 Sale | icon4 12 2nd, 2009| icon3No Comments »

flippermain

The Flipper Toothbrush and Razor Holders make great stocking stuffers for the upcoming holidays.

Please read my past review for the Flipper. I love it and so does my daughter!

They are offering my readers up to a 45% discount on select items. The following styles have had their prices slashed.

Fun animal category – bear, lamb, puppy, duckie
Animal World category – rhino, koala and piggy
Dino Egg category – paras and rex
Puppy category – boxer, poodle, labrador, terrier, shih-tzu,
retriever, shepherd, schnauzer

Order by December 15th to receive your products in time for the holidays.

To order you can visit www.myflipperusa.com