Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You say it's your birthday?

This is an ACTUAL conversation that O.G. and I had way back in July. She said she wanted to eat Dim Sum - totally odd since she HATES Dim Sum which makes this whole thing even weirder.

I don't mind Dim Sum in general, but since it was *my birthday* shouldn't I get to choose??

But no, not an option. So that's exactly what our family did - go to eat chinese food. However I did manage to force her to change the lunch to August...although the date was nowhere near my actual birth date.

And yes, she actually said 'no presents'. Happy birthday...to me. Ugh.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

There is a great disturbance in the Force.

Usually my birthday goes by without much fanfare and I have to say, I LOVE FANFARE. I love my birthday, it's my favorite time of year yet no one else shares these feelings...odd. Ha! Luckily this year my good LxL friends took my cause to heart and put together a mini celebration just for me - Star Wars style!

Ok, so maybe it wasn't JUST for me and it just happened that Star Wars Day at the L.A. Zoo fell on birthday weekend. In any case I say it was fate and no--I didn't tell my kids where I was going. D'oh. Normally the kids love the zoo but with record heat and tons of lines, I knew there'd be happier times to visit.

So just us gals, we set out to the Los Angeles Zoo to see stormtroopers and have a great time...on the hottest...day...of the year. Yikes. Seriously, the heat index was at about 100+ degrees. It was bad. As in mind-melty bad. I felt so sorry for the people dressed up, they must have been sweltering in there. This Tie-Fighter pilot all in black was truly feelin' the heat.

We got as far as the costume meet and greet and I'm sorry to say we headed back. We didn't see any animals, but then again there were signs everywhere saying 'it's too hot for the animals so they won't be coming out'. What the what. The animals were smart. I'm sure they had air-conditioned caves.

We went back to the theater and got a seating for the unseen Star Wars footage for the blu-ray release. It was a fantastic, there was a lot of behind the scenes footage, interviews, and sneak peeks at just some of the 40 hours of additional footage that will be on the release.

They also had Star Wars trivia (presented by Yoda) which was totally rigged with zoo animal questions. Man, can't a girl-nerd get a break?!

While we didn't win any prizes I got lots of nice gifts and for once I didn't have to bake my own birthday treats!! (As a baker, no one ever makes you cake. Ever. Boo!) Thanks to my good friend Christy I got custom Star Wars cupcakes for my birthday. The force was truly with me on my birthday!


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Part of your world

As you know I'm a HUGE Disney fan and go to Disneyland almost every week. So this past weekend was D23 - the Disney Fan Expo and I couldn't wait! I actually bought my tickets two years ago at the first convention - yeah, crazed fan for sure.

The thing is, this second year event was just...eh. Perhaps it was because no one knew what it was the first event so there was more room to walk around. This time? Insanity. My mom came along and she swears she won't go to another one. Mostly because we waited in this line...

...to get into a store. Yep, pay to stand in line and pay. That was the main complaint I heard behind me in line all day. Disney fans are tenacious and we'll stand in line for Disney no matter what, but it was a little grating.

But it wasn't all bad - especially when I came face to face with...

a TON of cupcakes for free! But yes, you also had to stand in line for them. Ho hum.

Didn't matter to me, cupcakes of any kind, I'll take 'em.

There were giveaways, panels and of course, more shopping. The best store was Mickey's of Glendale, which is actually the campus store for Disney Imagineering. There is NO WAY to buy these items unless you are a Disney employee, so the fact that they are now opening up the store and merch to fans is pretty amazing. There were great things there and virtually no wait. A win all around.

What really turned the day around was getting to see the Parks and Resorts presentation. (Yes, a 2 hour wait. Did you have to ask?) They revealed a lot of cool new things for Disney parks around the world including rides, resorts and lots of Imagineering information.

Since most of the stuff was never before seen people in the audience were snapping pics and taking video like crazy. I get it, but it was kind of disrespectful - sometimes it's nice to just sit and enjoy a presentation rather then being the 'first to break the news on youtube' or whatever. All in all, it was a great presentation and I'm excited to see what the future holds as far as themed entertainment.

While the day was a lot of waiting around, I still enjoyed being a part of the event. No joke, there truly is Disney magic and you can feel it when all the fans come together.

The Expo was fun but my mom and I left early and crossed the street and went into Disneyland for a few hours. We had dinner, walked around, and enjoyed the Disney-ness of it all. After all, she is the one who brought me to Disneyland before I was two years old and because of it I continue the love of Disney with my own kids today.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

You look marvelous

This past weekend Williams Sonoma stores offered a cookie decorating event for kids. For just $5 that went to Share Our Strength - kids got to decorate cookies made from the Marvel cookie cutters! How could we not particpate?!

I happened to get the new Marvel cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma as a birthday gift and they are fantastic. They are perfectly detailed and don't stick to dough. The best!

I've already made several things with them including mini Captain America hand pies! (recipe here)

For the event the kids got to choose two character cookies to decorate. My kids love Marvel and were excited to make their choices.

The Baby: Hulk and Iron Man.
The Kid: Iron Man and Captain America.
No Spidey love for these kids, I guess. My own personal usual complaint - where the heck is Wolverine?? I want an all Wolverine kitchen, thank you very much.

Williams Sonoma had everything prepared, from piping bags to sprinkles, as well as all the sugar cookies. It was a finely tuned process that went incredibly smoothly considering it was a ton of kids and a lot of colored sugars.

My boys decorate cookies a lot at home, so they had plenty of practice and did pretty well.

They had a great time and got to take home the cookies that they decorated and a free comic book. I hope the stores offer more of these events. The kids had a great time and it was for a great cause!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Boom boom acka-lacka lacka boom

Well we finally made it to the new Dino Hall at the L.A. Museum of Natural History! Just when the kids are getting into Dino Power Rangers too, what a coincidence. (I make them learn things even when they think they aren't.)

Our goal this summer was to visit all the museums in Los Angeles, and while we went to many - this one they just keep asking to come back to. The Baby loves the animals and dinosaurs and the Kid loves reading about all the artifacts.

When we rolled up to the front the volunteer said, "Do you want tickets to the Butterfly exhibit?" HELLZ NO was what I think I said...tho maybe not out loud. Me trapped in a room with a thousand flying bugs? Nope. Did it last year and ran out of there as fast as I came in, leaving my kids behind. No - we are here for dinos and dinos only, thanks.

Luckily we had membership passes so that means we got front o' the line Dino Hall tickets. Yep. There are tickets, and waits, and long lines just to get into this new Dino Hall and you know what? Totally worth it.

The new Hall is beautiful, the clear panels, two levels that allow you to see all the large fossils and bones - it gives you a good gauge as to the monstrous size of these creatures.

I've said it before, I love the new modern direction that this museum is taking. The kids get so much more interested in learning when interactivity is involved. By having moving parts to feel and work with, the kids tend to get a better understanding of what is going on.

The biggest hit by far, and not just with my kids, was the interactive archaeology table. Man, kids were jostling each other for a position to 'grab' a virtual archaeologist and 'dig' (by tapping) to find the bones. We went back to that 'table' plenty - it was like the world's largest gaming iPad.

Even though we went on a weekday the museum was PACKED. Weekends are worse. If you do plan on going - and you should - wait til the schools get back into session. It's a great interactive new exhibit and the perfect way for kids and adults to learn more about the Dinosaurs.

Natural History Museum
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Phone: (213) 763-DINO

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Everybody comes to Hollywood, they want to make it in the neighborhood

Yesterday was the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's annual Children's Festival. Held on the Paramount Lot in Hollywood there was an array of kid's activities!

I was happy to see my friend Justin as soon as we arrived. He has worked the event for years, but this was our first time going. All set up in the Paramount courtyard were were dancers and performers, food and information booths.

On the grass were tables with all kinds of arts and crafts for the kids. You could paint, make your own masks, make puppets - but my kids? They just wanted to draw. What the! We do this at home EVERYDAY. Oh well. Why complain, it was a nice day out and at least we were drawing outside.

The best part of the day for the kids was seeing Daffy and Bugs from Looney Toons. While the Baby loves costumed characters the Kid notoriously fears them. But not these guys. The kids have been watching the NEW Looney Toons show and they are smitten. The Kid even asked me to take his picture with them! When I started rattling off the Looney Toons characters names, Bugs, Porky, Daffy - the kids stared at me bewildered. "How do YOU know their names, it's a new show!" Look kids, I've been watching Looney Toons waaaay longer than you guys. WAY longer. ~sigh

It was a fun day but the heat was getting to us. Before we took off, the kids were dying for balloons. What is that joy that a balloon brings?? Wouldn't you know it - in a typical childhood trauma moment - the car door flew open and the Baby's balloon got loose and flew up...and away. I remember that as a child, in fact I don't think a kid ever forgets watching those things sail away into the sky. Goodbye orange balloon. I hope you had a nice flight. Sadness.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's morphin' time!

I don't know how tides change but suddenly Power Rangers are big with the kids. Did you know there are over 16 different Power Rangers series?? WHAT?? I've been going through them on Netflix with the kids and I definitely have my opinions on which series are the WORST. Don't get me started.

As with all new faves around here it all ends up as inspiration for drawing. Not content with the array of Power Rangers series available, the kids decided to make up their own versions.

To avoid freakouts we follow strict drawing guidelines around here, basically the same ones the kids follow in their Art Class.

1. Think about what you want to draw. 2. Outline it out in pencil. 3. Pen is permanent. 4. If you get to 3 and mess up, DON'T FREAK I told you to work it out. There is no white-out in this house.

Keeping to those drawing standards cuts back on tears for all of us, and actually it gets the kids to work out design issues, since that's really what the drawing is about anyway.

Do you want a sword, what color is your outfit, can you fly? Important questions like that is daily speak at our dinner table.

Of course the kids developing their own Power Rangers wasn't enough, MOMMY HAS TO DO IT TOO. Man. Designing my own Power Ranger was way below folding laundry on my to-do list, but when your kids want you to be involved, you gotta bite the bullet.

So here's mine. Obviously my color would be pink and obviously I'd have a Hello Kitty bow. Obviously. Now back to folding laundry.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Marukai Kawaii

Back when I made the Hello Kitty Cookie Cupcakes, I got a ton of inquiries as to where I got the cookies. I found them at Marukai, a local Japanese market but why go to any market when you can go to a KAWAII one?

No, seriously - there is a new Marukai Kawaii store that ONLY SELLS CUTE THINGS.

Kawaii means cute in Japanese and that's no lie, everything in here is adorable.

Marukai Kawaii is located in downtown L.A. in Little Tokyo in the Weller Court on Onizuka St. (You can't miss the giant Space Shuttle monument honoring who the street is named after - Ellison Onizuka - the Japanese American astronaut who died on the Challenger.) The store is across from the main Marukai in the same plaza.

What you'll notice about the small space is that half of it is FILLED with Hello Kitty items.

There is standard stuff you can find at a normal Sanrio boutique, but look closely and you can find some imported hard to find items from Japan, as well as the Hello Kitty face cookies from Italy!

But it's not all Hello Kitty, there are tons of other kawaii items ranging from Domo to jewelry to household products.

Candies, toys, stationery - you name it. The store just opened but I'm guessing it will expand and have even MORE cute items in no time.

Oh and of course Lolita eyelashes. Should that happen to be on your shopping list.

This store is a treat and I wish there was one on every street corner. It's definitely worth stopping by if you're downtown in the Little Tokyo area!

Marukai Kawaii
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue

We are city folk. And I like it that way.

Right now the 'goats' are back in town. Once a year the CRA brings in 100 goats to eat the grass on Angel's Knoll at 4th and Hill Street downtown, and man, is it a sight. It's supposed to be more environmentally friendly (though I wonder how much gas was used to cart them to L.A....) in any event it's a whole lot of fun to watch.

Locals cannot get enough of it, because it's so out of place for Los Angeles. The streets are lined with business men and women armed with camera phones taking pictures...of goats. Fascinating.

I get it - it's a novelty. In fact, I told O.G. about it while we were eating brunch in Santa Monica and she couldn't take it - she insisted that we HAD TO SEE THE GOATS. So off I drove from the Westside alllll the way to downtown just for goat watchin'. The things I do for that woman.

O.G. was thrilled and the kids got a kick out of it. Me? I've had my yearly goat fill. Let's just say you can guess how 100 goats smell, not all that great.

The goats are working fast. You only have 2 more days to see them!

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Hertz Donut

I was thrilled to be asked to be a 'celebrity judge' at the Blogging L.A. Donut Summit 2011! What qualifies me to judge donuts? I eat A LOT of donuts. Or at least I thought I did until I saw 40 dozen staring back at me...

Los Angeles donut fans from across the Southland brought a dozen from their fave local donut shops. This is the greatest idea ever because L.A. is so big, there's no possible way you can drive out to all of these places to try so many donuts. So here they all were in one place, in pretty pink and white boxes, stacked, prepped and ready to be devoured.
I met my fellow judges, Shelley (The Fry Girl) and Billy (the 99 Cent Chef). Armed with clipboards and iced coffee, we were off! I attacked the donuts with a plan, by going down the 'Donut Categories' list and trying to identify the winners in my book. Best glazed, best filling, most roundest (?).

I gave my best effort and found some really unique and lovely donuts I never knew existed. Did you know Philippes makes donuts? Yes, Philippes the reknown French Dip sandwich shop! They were cake donuts, beautifully round (design is important to me), not at all greasy, just the perfect sweet bite. A wonderful surprise that I plan to buy to compliment my Philippes sandwich from now on.

Another fave was The Donut Man's peach donut. He's the donut king but to venture alllll the way out to Glendora from the Westside is not exactly a fun trip traffic wise, it's quite a haul.

Luckily a donut fan brought them in and WOW, they were truly amazing. While Donut Man's strawberry donuts may be what he's famous for, the freshness of the peaches won me over.
So what was the one donut that stood out above all the rest? Which one did I still want to go back to despite eating my way through 40 dozen donuts? Stan the man. Stans' Donuts in Westwood makes a peanut butter filled chocolate covered donut. While the combination sounds intimidating, the sweetness wasn't overwhelming. A perfect balance to be cherished. Turns out, Stan's chocolate peanut butter filled donut was the clear judges choice for all three of us!

Judging a donut contest was a whole lot of fun! Perhaps it was the three cups of caffeinated Intelligentsia iced coffee talking, but at the end of it all after trying 40 dozen donuts, I STILL found myself wanting to eat more donuts. Now that is TRUE donut love.

Here's a complete list of winners, thanks Blogging L.A.!

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