Jul 28
icon1 Susan | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 07 28th, 2010| icon3No Comments »

So what person doesn’t like free?  Especiallly with many households trying to make ends meet and not having the luxury of spending money, other than paying off bills. It’s always nice to hear about free food, free events, and anything free in general.  I am always trying to find activities to do with my little ones that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and can create a lifetime of memories.

Summer months can be fun and difficult.  I love spending time with my children but the truth is that they get bored and I get bored, trying to do the same old same old.  However, it’s not easy to plan a field trip everyday considering the added costs that come with it.  So this is where “free” and “summer” comes in to save our days, weeks, and summer months!

I’ve listed some free activities and free food options to make all of our summer lives easier and more fun with our adorable children:

Coco’s and Carrows Kids Eat Free All Summer Long: Dinner promotion runs nightly from 4pm until close, starting July 8 at all participating restaurants.

Chipotle’s Free Kid’s Meal Deal: I love going to my local Chipotle because they offer healthier options (even Vegan options with the Garden blend) to the normally not so figure friendly Mexican food. Recently, I was excited to get an email from Chipotle with a new kid friendly promotion.  From August 1 through August 22, when parents eat a burrito, salad, taco, or burrito bowl, kids eat free.  I will definitely take advantage of this offer since I frequent the one near my home.

Free Bowling at 300: From now until September 7, kids 12 and under can join 300’s Summer Kids Club program at no charge, and every Sunday through Friday before 4pm, kids get one free game and free shoe rental.

Target Free Sundays: Every third Sunday, Target sponsors a free day in select museums across the country.  To see if there are any in your local area go here.  My children and I go to the Free Target Sundays at the Japanese American National Museum and they have fantastic activities for the kids as well.  The last Sunday my children got to make backpacks, luggage name-tags, and also did a stick on activity.

Whole Foods:  While this may be an odd choice for some of you as a destination spot, my children and I love goin to Whole Foods.  They offer Kid’s Club activities, which includes making healthy snack options and even doing a craft project or two.  The last time we went to a Kid’s Club event, my daughter made my husband an apron for Father’s Day.  Also, being a part of Kid’s Club means that your children get to choose an apple or a cookie from the store as their treat for coming to the store.  You can’t lose on this one!

Westfield Malls:  They have Kid’s Club events that range from cooking classes to crafty activities and sometimes they will have local musicians come and perform.  My children love going to these little events because they get to play and if it’s a cooking class, they get to eat too!

Have a Happy Summer!

Jul 22
icon1 Susan | icon2 Experiences | icon4 07 22nd, 2010| icon31 Comment »

Five years ago when we moved into our place, I thought I wanted a French country theme in our dining area.  So I went to a furniture store and bought pieces that went along with my interpretation of what a French country style (royal with a hint of shabby chic) would be like.  Although it was very luxurious and everything I had imagined, the dining set was massive and it was not practical for our budding family.


Flash forward to today and things are very different.  I have two children and everything has to be simple, clean, and child friendly.  What was my inspiration this time around?  My daughter’s Svan High Chair.  It’s very modern-sleek and almost something that you would see in an Eames inspired room (very mid-century modern).


Once I knew what sort of style scheme I was going for, I looked to find examples of the dining room I was envisioning.  The whole process took about 2 weeks from start to finish.  During that period, I had to match wood tones, test out chairs for comfortability, and made sure I wasn’t sacrificing taste in order to stay on a budget.  So how did it turn out?  Fabulous for my family!


(Disclosure: This post is in conjuction with a review I will be doing for CSN Stores.  CSN will be providing me with a $40 promotional code to use towards a larger purchase for my future review.)

Jul 15
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 07 15th, 2010| icon33 Comments »

A couple weeks ago, after we had come back from our two week vacation, my kids were struck with everything under the sun.  My baby woke up crying with a really high fever (103.5 to be exact) and my older one woke at the same time with a really really high fever (105.5-106).  As a parent, you want to make things better for them and also find out the root of the problem.  After trying to lower the fever for a good 24 hours and being unsuccessful, we took both of our children into Urgent Care.

Sometimes I don’t like to take my children to the ER or Urgent Care because I leave there feeling like they didn’t really solve anything.  Of course, the nurse was really shocked to see how high the temperature was with both of my kids, and asked me a whole bunch of questions, but they could not answer any of my questions.  My older daughter kept complaining about her throat, so immediately I thought it could possibly be Strep, and notified the nurse about that.  After the on call doctor examined her, he diagnosed her with an ear infection and could not explain what was wrong with the baby.   He prescribed antibiotics for both of them.

Two full days into the antibiotics, both my children’s fever did not change.  Usually by day two, it should have kicked in and the fever should have dropped.  I called Urgent Care to ask them what I could do and they told me to take them to the ER.  Being highly frustrated, I tweeted about ear infection and natural alternatives, and got a really great tweet from Ear Doc.  After checking out their website, I had to try it out for myself.

Ear Doc is a non-invasive device that treats the problem and not the symptom.  The device is used for a variety of ear related issues such as swimmers ear, trapped fluids and gas in the middle ear, eustachian tube dysfunction, and any earache related problem.  At first, I was a little skeptical because the testimonials were very high praise and there was a lot of fluffy reviews.  As I read more and more into it, especially hearing stories of parents foregoing ear tube surgery because they had used the Ear Doc, I wanted to try it out and tell my friends about it.

By the time I received the Ear Doc, both my children had gotten better from whatever they had, but I tried it out on myself because I had been dealing with some on and off ear pain.  After using it a couple times, I could definitely feel a little of the pain getting better, and oddly I could hear better as well.  For any parent dealing with an ear related issue, whether it’s from swimming on a daily basis or to contemplating ear tube surgery, I would definitely try this safe alternative before making any huge decision.

I am glad to have this device right next to my homeopathic remedies.  When my kids have anything ear related (ear infections), in the future, I will definitely be using it on their ears.  For now, they think it’s a fun toy that buzzes.  The Ear Doc is super easy to use, painless, and compact in size (you can carry it around in your purse).  I always love finding out about alternative options and this one is definitely an option to have in our medicine cabinet.

(Disclosure: Product was provided free of charge to test 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.)

Jul 13
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 07 13th, 2010| icon3No Comments »

What do you get someone for a birthday, graduation, birth of a baby, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or any other special day?  Whenever a special occasion comes up, I usually order flowers or some sort of gift basket online.  The last two times I ordered a flower and gift basket, it was through ProFlowers.com.  The reason I ordered through them was that they had great deals (too good to pass up) advertised both online and on the radio. 

From my experience, all my gift recipients were very happy with their gifts, but I never got the low-down, or shall I say a detailed experience about their gifts.  So when I had the opportunity to receive my very own ProFlowers gift, I was pretty excited.  The idea of receiving something was very special because I’m always the one who gives, gives, and gives (don’t get me wrong, I love giving).


I chose to receive the Hibiscus Bonsai which is a great outdoor plant to have.  According to my mom, it’s not a difficult plant to take care of as long as you water it on a daily basis (to some people that could be a difficult task).  I have my 4 year old who aspires to be the best gardener a 4-year old can be.  So although, I have a hard time watering my plants, my daughter is great at doing that for me.

proflowers packaging

I received the plant in a big and long box.  At first, I was surprised at the size of the box because I was expecting a plant that was much smaller in size (the description said “dwarf” and approximately 12-14″ tall).  However, once I opened the box, I was impressed.  The plant was packed a specific way so that it would be perfect when delivered.  Everything was intact and not even a little piece of soil got out.  I loved that the box was labeled “Live Plant” to indicate to the delivery service to be very careful (FedEx & UPS has the tendency to throw things around).

proflowers bonsai

Once I took it out of the box and removed the packaging, the plant looked very fresh.  There were no hibiscus flowers blooming yet, but the bulbs were present and I could see flowers coming in very soon.  The glazed ceramic bonsai container was perfect in size and color. 

After experiencing first class packaging, prompt delivery service, and top of the line product, it’s good to know what my friends, parents, and relatives are experiencing when they get their gift baskets and or flowers.  My daughters and I are excited to see how “Bella” (the name for our new bonsai) is going to blossom in the coming months. The hibiscus bonsai makes another great addition to our mini garden on our balcony!

(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)

Jul 9
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 07 9th, 2010| icon31,454 Comments »

My daughter is a princess and I don’t say that just because she likes to dress up in ballgowns, crystal heels, and matching accessories for all of her outfits.  She is a princess (well not royalty, although we do have royal blood in the family).  From the time she was born, she had princess mannerisms and she continues to do so.

What does every princess need to complete her princess life?  Princess furniture.  When I was watching the movie Marie Antoinette, all I could see was the fabulous beds, armoires, side chairs, and tables.  They looked like they were made out of the finest gold and silver a franc could buy.  So what was my princess missing in her princess room?  You guessed it, princess furniture.

When I was presented with an opportunity to review some fabulous furniture, I had to check to see if they had princess furniture, and of course they did!  Finally, the icing on the cake for my daughter and her imaginery luxury lifestyle coming to fruition.  If you knew my daughter, you would know that this would be more important for her than meeting the Queen, and I mean the real one.

So after sifting through Guidecraft’s online catalogue, I decided to review the Swan Lake Table & Chair Set.  The design which included tiaras, ballet slippers, and a princess theme, immediately got my attention.  The table and chairs are hand-carved and hand-painted, which definitely gives it the custom luxury appeal to it.

The huge box the table comes in. Sorry UPS man!

After I chose the table and chair set, I was super-excited to receive it, and get it set up for my daughter while she was preschool.  When it arrived, I could tell my UPS man giving me the look, as he had to drag it all the way up the stairs, and by no means was it light.  As I opened the box and laid out everything to set up, I noticed one of the legs had split in two.  Although it was dissappointing at first, I knew that anything could have happened from the factory to the warehouse and in transit to my home.  I immediately contacted Guidecraft and they rectified the situation by sending me a whole new table and chairs set.  With any business, you MUST have superior customer service and Guidecraft really exceeded my expectations.  It definitely made up for my semi-huge dissappointment.

All the pieces that came in the box for assembly.

All the pieces that came in the box for assembly.

The second time around went really smooth (although, I did get the evil eye from my same UPS man).  It was like spreading butter on a warm piece of bread.  I laid out everything and followed the instruction page, step by step, and had chairs and a table within 30 minutes.  I must stress that you have to follow the instructions.  There is no, “This goes with that, and that goes there.”  Nope. Nada.  When a company makes an instruction page, there is a reason, so you have to follow the instructions for it to go smoothly.  My husband is a “wing-it” kind of guy, so I assembled everything when he was at work.  It saved me from any late night wars with him!

The finished piece all settled into my daughter's play area.

The finished piece all settled into my daughter's play area.

The finished product?  Exquisite.  It was made to fit my little princess.  All I can say is that the chairs and tables have been getting a lot of attention from my daughter, and her old cinderella table and chair set has taken a back seat.  She told me to give it to her little sister and trust me, she doesn’t even want to give her old teething ring to her sister, so this was huge!

My suddenly shy daughter looking away as I take her picture.

My suddenly shy daughter looking away as I take her picture.

I love that the table makes my daughter feel special.  The fine detailing, the pink and sage green color, and the design makes me want to go back to my own princess days.  The quality and craftmanship are superior and it makes sense that Guidecraft has been around for 46 years.  Not only are the table and chairs very adorable, they are functional, durable, and easy to maintain (can I say, a parent’s dream).  Even after a couple mishaps, Guidecraft’s table and chairs exceeded my expectations on my many levels.

(Disclosure: Product was provided free of charge to test 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.)



If you would like to have a chance at winning your very own Swan Lake Table & Chair Set you must (mandatory) visit Guidecraft and leave a comment here telling me something else you would like to have.

For Extra entries (please make every entry separate even if you comment on multiple posts):

Giveaway ended July 20th, 2010 at 7:00 pm PST. Please make sure you leave a valid email address so that we can notify the winner. We will notify the winner, and the winner has 48 hours to respond. If the winner fails to respond within that time period, we will choose a new winner. Open to US residents only.

Jul 2
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 07 2nd, 2010| icon32 Comments »

When you have kids, there’s always a mess that is waiting to be cleaned.  Whether it’s crumbs all over the floor, random cut paper, or dirt droppings from crafty activities, there’s always something waiting to be cleaned.  While there are many methods to cleaning these random things, I am always looking for the easiest, most convenient, and time saving option.  In the past I have used a broom and dustpan, my own hands and some paper, and a Black & Decker handheld vacuum.  They all worked to some degree, but ultimately did not meet my satisfaction because I would always miss something and have to go back and re-clean.  While my Black & Decker was handy, it was not as powerful as I would have liked and I always had to go back and run the vacuum on the same spot over and over again.

Having kids means a lot of mess and no time to dilly dally.  In order to smoothly manuever my way through my daily activities and not waste time, means I need to be time efficient in everything I do.  I don’t have the time to clean my place in entirety on a daily basis and I don’t want to drag out our huge vacuum everytime my child spills something.  Hence, I need something that cleans well and saves me time, which brings me to the Dyson DC31.


I can honestly say I have never seen anything that looks like the DC31.  It looks like a beast of its own and reminds me of something you would see in Transformers.  Very masculine in its appearance but certainly has a sexy techy quality to it too.  The second I pressed the ON button, it went “ZVROOOM.”  My mom was scared by the sound, but I found it to be freeing.  It made me feel like I had complete control over a powerful machine.  In order to try it out, I tested it on my most fussiest micro-fiber couch.  I have a love-hate relationship with my couch because it’s probably the toughest thing to clean, aside from my kitchen floors.  For some reason, if anything falls onto the couch, I can NEVER get rid of it (even the littlest crumbs).  You just learn to get used to sitting on the couch and having the sensation of crumbs or whatever tickling your butt or thighs.


I took the DC31 and put it on the toughest area of my couch and it suctioned everything away.  It was probably one of the most exciting moments I had in a long time, next to my baby crawling and breaking teeth.  Seriously, it picked up everything and anything that I thought was a permanent attachment to my sage green couch.  My daughter and I took turns cleaning our couch and after it was all said and done, it was a glorious moment.  I felt like a soldier that went to war and came back with an accomplishment.  We had a couch that was salvaged and it looked like the day we had it delivered to our home, minus the cushions wearing down from age.

Getting down to the specifics, the DC31: Dual power mode (10 min of high constant suction or 6 min w/70% higher suction), Dyson digital motor (smaller and lighter w/o carbon brushes or carbon dust), Lightweight/Ergonomic (only 2.9 lbs), Hygienic/quick to empty, and ENERGY STAR qualified battery charging system.  I love that the DC31 does not lose suction power as I clean, which means no more going over the same area.  On top of that, it comes with a 2 year warranty.  We all know that even the best of best things can sometimes encounter minor to major issues, so having the security of a two year warranty is always a plus.

Spot cleaning has never been more easier with the DC31.  I also took it on a test run on my SUV where my back seats (near my children) is a disaster zone.  It picked up every particle off the carpet (now only if Dyson could come out with a dual steam cleaning handheld system).  The only negative to some people may be the strong and loud sound.  While it bothered my mom, I actually felt empowered and ready to clean (to each his own).  DC31 was easy to handle, powerful, and time saving.  Everything a mother could ask for!

(Disclosure: Product was provided free of charge to test 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.)