Touring Lancaster! (Guest Post)

(Editor’s Note: She’s back! In her 2nd part of a 3 story series, Lisa, Along Comes Mary’s guest contributor, tells us more about touring The Boulevard in Lancaster, California, and how she fared being adventurous with mushrooms and squid ink! ;) Visit Lisa at Lisa’s Hodge Podge. xo, Mary)

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Touring Lancaster
By Lisa Altschuler

I have worked in Lancaster for going on 4 years, and this is the first time I actually got to experience what Lancaster has to offer. We got a tour of The Boulevard, the up and coming shopping and dining area in downtown Lancaster. I have heard of The Boulevard but never took the time to go and explore it. I am sorry I never did. There are so many little shops, amazing restaurants and great salons and spas.

The Boulevard itself looks as if it were taken from a small beach community and put right on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert. There are many Mom and Pop restaurants and small boutiques that sell everything from wedding dresses to comic books. We got to sample two of the restaurants along The Boulevard: Giannini Bistro and Grill and The Lemon Leaf.

Giannini Bistro and Grill is a small Italian restaurant. It has been on The Blvd for 7 years and the owners Nick and Sharon Giannini were very nice and informative. They treated us to a feast of their best dishes. Our first dish was a Portobello ravioli with red pepper in a creamy sauce. I am not a fan of mushrooms and tend to avoid them if I can. But, I wanted to be courteous and so I ate a bite. It was actually very good. I needed to mentally prepare myself, but once I did, I really enjoyed the dish. Next, was a cup of their Zuppa Toscana. This is a sausage soup with spinach. I finished the whole cup. It was too good to just have a taste. Then, we had a bacon wrapped tri-tip. It was so flavorful and juicy. I am getting hungry just writing about it. After that, we had more tri-tip and baby bake ribs in their homemade BBQ sauce. The sauce was smoky and not too sweet. It was a perfect paring to the tri-tip. And (No, I’m not done), we finished the savory foods with shrimp skewers with their homemade cocktail sauce. I was stuffed at this point, and then they bring out dessert. We had a plate of deep-fried cheesecake bites. I can never turn down dessert, so of course I had a couple of them. They were delicious, not too oily and not too rich.

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Apart from the food, the atmosphere was very nice. They decorate their restaurant three times a year. In the spring, it is decked out in Alice in Wonderland! In October, they have it Pirates of the Caribbean themed and during Christmas, they go all out! I want to come back not only for the food, but to see this place get transformed!

After that wonderful meal, we wandered down the street to the restaurant and bar called Bex. This place is for the younger crowd. At night, it turns into a nightclub, and they have an underground bowling alley. I want to explore this place on my next trip up here!

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For dinner, we wondered into the Lemon Leaf Café. We met the owner, Maria Elena Grado who told us this place has been here for 10 years. I can’t believe I’ve missed this place! She prepared our menu for us. We started with a Turkey Cranberry Cobb Salad. This was just what we needed after a day of bacon! It was very refreshing and I was planning on eating more, when she brought out her Salmon with Squid Ink Pasta. I was afraid, but felt adventurous and took a bite. The squid ink added a bit of salt but no extra flavor. The salmon was prepared perfectly. I thought this dish was amazing! She then came out with Gorgonzola Bread and some read sauce for dipping. It was really good! I could have eaten the whole thing if I wasn’t so full. We also sampled Spicy pasta with chicken. It was not terribly spicy and very flavorful. We ended the day with dessert, a lemon tart and their signature Orange cake with Coffee icing. These desserts were amazing!! I already have plans to come back to this place. I can’t wait to try more.

Lancaster is more than just that place in the desert. They are growing into a tourist destination! Visit www.destinationlancasterca.org for more details.

(Disclosure: Along Comes Mary was invited on a weekend tour of Lancaster. All opinions are author’s own.)

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For Madonna, Nothing Compares to Prince….

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So, there’s been a lot of mixed reception following  Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. Easily, the most anticipated performance was to be Madonna’s tribute to the late, great Prince. Whom we lost much too soon just a few weeks ago.

Dressed to kill in a Purple Rain-inspired suit (and cane to boot) that I cannot imagine the legend himself not approving of, Madonna graced the stage on her throne and while I was completely waiting for a tribute medley of such classics like When the Doves Cry, Little Red Corvette and Purple Rain, The Queen of Pop instead began to belt out Nothing Compares 2 U, the infamous Sinead O’Connor mega hit from 1990.

If you were thinking, “Oh my God, how embarrassing! Shes singing the wrong song?! Sinead O’Connor didn’t die!” rest assured. Nothing Compares 2 U was actually written by Prince himself. Prince wrote and recorded this song for a 1985 side project called The Family Band. It was an obscure, unknown track until O’Connor covered it on her masterpiece album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.

So, getting back t the million dollar question: Why did Madonna cover this song? It is not known as a Prince hit.

This was actually why I adored her performance, which ended with Stevie Wonder joining her onstage for a moving rendition of Purple Rain. Nothing Compares 2 U is one of my favorite songs. Its heartbreaking, it’s filled with longing and the lyrics against the minimal instruments makes for a space of loneliness like no other. The lyrics are one trying to grasp the stark realization that your love is never coming back.

I have witnessed such an outcry of sorrow since Prince Rogers Nelson left this world on April 21st. Much like my deep tides to musician, Tori Amos, its easy to understand how and why so many connected with Nelson and his massive catalogue of music. With genres ranging from dance, electro pop to contemporary and rock, he was an outstanding musical legend. (When once asked what its like to be the best guitar player in the world, Eric Clapton replied, “I wouldn’t know. Ask Prince”.)

And, social media has a field day....

And, social media has a field day….

That being said, I cannot think of a better song for Madonna to pay tribute to Prince with. I have already read countless comments on articles regarding her homage. Many are accusing her of lip syncing, being too old and not worth our time. (And, that she just wanted to look like the good guy. Since her and Prince had a feud years back and only recently made amends.)

Let me tell you. having seen Madonna for my birthday this past October, this woman is STILL rocking out so hard and putting on one of the best musical spectaculars out there. Yes, it has been nearly 35 years since her debut album, but, 300 million album sales later, and Madonna continues to put out quality pop records and tour like it’s no ones business. I would attend her concert again in a heartbeat.

Did you see Madonna’s tribute to the one and only Prince? What did you think? xo

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Bacon, Blues and Brews Weekend in Lancaster! (Guest Post)

(Editor’s note: Say hi. once again, to Lisa! In this first of a two part series about Lancaster, California, Lisa and her boyfriend, Mike, got to check out the 1st Annual Bacon, Blues and Brews weekend. Make sure to visit Lisa  at Lisa’s Hodge Podge! Oh, and she is also not joking when she says she LOVES watermelon! ;) Enjoy her post! xo, Mary)

Bacon, Blues and Brews
By Lisa Altschuler

BACON! Did I get your attention? Good! This past weekend I went up to Lancaster, California for their first annual Bacon, Blues and Brews Festival. The festival was located on the beautiful Lancaster Boulevard which has been nicknamed “The Boulevard”. There were 28 food vendors and 20 beer and wine vendors. There was something for everyone who loves bacon!

The writer in action!

The writer in action!

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I was able to sample quite a few goodies. The first thing I had was a spicy bacon taco from the food truck Izzy’s Taco House. It was very delicious and a great way to start the bacon adventure I was about to have. Next, we hit another food truck, Richeeze, for a Bacon Mac and Cheese on a Hawaiian roll. Are you drooling yet? This item has won many awards around Southern California. The owner told me he travels all around, so this truck is one to keep your eyes out for.

We decided to have dessert early and went to the Double D’s Cupcake booth. They were giving out delicious bacon cupcakes. One was a cinnamon swirled cupcake with maple frosting and a candied bacon. The other was a pumpkin spice cupcake with apple compote, bacon and a maple frosting. Both were amazing! Double D’s has appeared on Cupcake Wars and you can find them right here in Lancaster.

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We then tried a waffle and bacon dish from the Waffle Oh Truck. Oh so good! This is yet another truck that you can follow and sample yourself. We tasted some peanut and bacon brittle courtesy of Kinetic Brewing Company. They are a microbrew and restaurant on The Boulevard. Next, was a bacon, jalapeño quesadilla from 1800. It was a little spicy, but the cheese helped calm the heat. Lastly, we had a pork belly taco from the culinary students of the University of Antelope Valley. This was very good and they made everything right in front of you. They even had people giving out massages!

We visited a few booths that had nothing to do with bacon. We needed to rest our pallet! We stopped by Mama Vega’s booth. She specializes in jams, salsas, hot sauces and rubs. We sampled the Apple Butter, which had a slight kick to it. It was so good, I had to buy a bottle. She carries her products in Albertson’s in the Antelope Valley and in Bakersfield. She is spreading out soon and within a few months will be in Santa Clarita. You can visit her website at www.mamavega.com. You will not be disappointed.

And what does better with bacon more than beer (and wine for those that are not beer friendly). My first stop was the Stella Rosa booth. This is by far my favorite wine! My favorite is Stella Berry, but I chose to try something else: Stella Peach. I’m not the biggest peach fan, but one sip of this wine is making me reconsider the fruit! It was sweet and light and bubbly. I think I have a new favorite flavor (sorry Stella Berry, we can still be friends). I also tried She Beverage’s Pink Lemonade Beer. The taste was great, but it was too heavy in my stomach (or it could have been the bacon. I may need to retry this beer).

Blues jam

Blues jam

We then went over to the other beer tents and sampled Mike’s Hard Lemonade’s new summer flavor: Watermelon! I am a HUGE watermelon fan and I was not disappointed. The vendor told me it is in stores now, so I may have to go pick some up. And lastly, I picked an old favorite of mine, Angry Orchard. It is my go to “beer”.

While walking around The Blvd, music could be heard from two different stages along the street. We were entertained by six different bands throughout the day. Many were playing covers, which allowed the visitors to dance and sing along. I was very impressed by this event and I am already planning on returning next year. I hope to see you all there!

(*Disclosure: Along Comes Mary was invited to cover this event. All opinions are author’s own.)

 

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Fun Memories Made with the Fujifilm Instax 70 Camera!

 

 

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Something that can easily give my age range away is if I mention the good ol’ days growing up with a POLOROID camera. Polaroid’s were so cool growing up;  take a picture and get it instantly! Who would have ever tought technology could be so good? ;)
Well, fast forward to the millennium, my friends, and we all can easily have an instant photograph thanks to our phone.

But, ah…those early years of mine…..

Baby Mary!

Baby Mary!

If you’re like me and love to actually get a hard copy of your selfie the moment after taking it, you’re in luck. Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 70 camera gives you the best of both worlds. With this camera, you get the posh retro  look of a vintage camera, complete with that instant copy to put on your fridge or stash in your wallet. Added bonus? Theres an adorable mirror on the front to give it that flawless selfie assistance.

I was thrilled to get my own Instax thanks to Fuji when I attended the Mother’s Day movie screening. It could not have been more perfect timing as we were soon off to Vegas, and I got to test it out on our road trip….

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And, once we were home. Hammy and Nova needed in on the fun, right?

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This is such a fabulous camera for both millennials who might recall Polaroids, and for the younger crowd who just want a fun, instant photo. Just like Polaroids, you can write on the bottom of your picture, too!

Loading the camera with film, I was disappointed that there was a foul up with my camera and we lost 2 photos. They would have been cute group shots with the pups, but, instead…

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Luckily, we only lost 2 out of our roll of film for 30 snap shots. Except for that frustration, I have been having a blast with my Instax. This is a great gift for the photographer lover in your life, or just that someone who loves a good old-fashioned kind of camera. They’re super cute to keep on display in between takes. Very fashionable!

Learn more about Instax and ALL of the Fujifilm cameras by checking out my affiliate link below. Did you know they’ve even got a Super 8 camera?! xo

(*Disclosure: I received a Fujifilm Instax Camera 70 for review purposes. All opinions are my own.)

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Elton John at The Colosseum at Caeser’s Palace!

 

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Lately, I have sadly realized the importance of seeing some of the great musicians before it is too late. As far as the legends go, I feel extremely lucky to have seen Cher and Madonna thus far….and, my newest concert to check off the bucket list? Elton John!

With my friend, Tash, in Los Angeles from New Zealand, we headed out-of-town with Mike to hit the fabulous strip and night life of Las Vegas. With the main destination being The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace to see Sir Elton John’s final night until October of his “Million Dollar PIano” show, and let me tell you: This man did NOT disappoint to his sold out crowd of adoring fans.

Starting just shy of 7:30, Elton and his band hit the stage running with a rousing number of “The Bitch is Back” before moving on to perform all of his beloved songs from each decade of his career spanning over 40 years.

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Songs like Rocket Man and Your Song welcomed John doing extensive piano intros that showcased just how  talented he is. Throw in a mighty voice, that I reckon is just as thick as it was back when he released Mad Man Across the Water in 1971, and you have yourself a powerhouse of a performer. Right down to his sequined coats that easily could have been diamonds! (I think they were.)

While John has always been on my radar, and I know many of his beloved songs, I admit that I was in awe at how legendary he is. He treats his audience to chats down memory lane; told tales of one of his best friends, John Lennon, and showed clips of the English lads performing together. Even adding “I miss him so, so much” before launching into Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny), a tribute he and writing partner, Bernie Taupin wrote in his honor.

If you’re thinking, who is Bernie Taupin? He has been John’s  lyricist for nearly 50 years. He conversed with the crowd about the duo’s writing process, and that “they’ve never been in the same room together when they write. Thats how we’ve  lasted for 48 years” he joked.

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While I am an avid lover of songwriters who pen their own lyrics, there is nothing like Taupin’s words paired with John’s melodies. Performances like Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road welcomed back drops of Elton John’s entire career span; from the early days, to his work on such award-winning scores like The Lion King, Aida and Billy Elliot.

The screen also had candles….flickering in the wind. Paying homage to the famous song originally written for Marilyn Monroe, and then sadly, re-written for the heartbreaking passing of his dear friend, Princess Diana. (John stated, after the 1997 tragedy and funeral, that he would no longer perform Candle in the Wind.)

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A song I was not familiar with, yet made me a fan, was 1975’s Philadelphia Freedom. During this ruckus number, we were treated to patriotic red, white and blue back drops, shots of the liberty bell and confetti bombs!

The Million Dollar Piano show is an evening everyone can enjoy; whether you’re in Vegas for a celebration, with the family or a night on the town with friends, Elton John is a phenomenal performer and I highly recommend going when he returns October 12th! xo

 

Santa Clarita’s BBQ and Beer Festival! (Guest Post)

(Editor’s note: Say hi to my friend, Lisa! Lisa just began her blog over at Lisa’s Hodge Podge and cannot wait to share her adventures with the world. In the meantime, I am thrilled she was my contributor and covered the BBQ and Beer Festival in Santa Clarita for me, Enjoy her recap! xo, Mary)

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On Friday, May 6th, I ventured out to the BBQ and Beer Festival in Santa Clarita, California. The event was held in Central Park and that was a perfect venue for it. The park is huge and could fit the continuously long line of people waiting to eat and drink till their heart’s content.

As my brother and I entered, we were given a souvenir beer tasting glass. With our entry, we were able to taste as many beers as we wanted, and had live entertainment.

The first thing I would like to say is, they should have changed the name to the Beer and BBQ festival since there was way more beer. We came hungry and were expecting to our choice of amazing food to eat and then sample some beers. Unfortunately, there were only 4 places to choose from when it came to food. There was a food truck with chicken and pulled pork. There was a tent that served kababs and rice bowls, and a tent that has chicken strips and garlic fries. We chose the last tent that specialized in tri-tip, Low n Slo Grillin. We ordered the tri-tip quesadilla. Overall, it was good. I, however, do not like overly fatty meats, and this tri-tip had its share of fatty parts. They did give us their homemade hot sauce, which was amazing!
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We then sampled some beer. Me, not being a beer drinker, looked for anything that I would enjoy. I found one booth that had something I know I would like: Crabbie’s Ginger Beer! They offered two flavors: ginger beer and raspberry ginger beer. We tried the raspberry and it was delicious! It tasted like raspberry soda.
My brother sampled Shock Top and said he liked it. It is very similar to Blue Moon, which he loves. He also sampled a pale ale from Pizza Rev called Omission. It is gluten-free and he said it was very tasty.
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We didn’t stay for much longer due to the weather. It was freezing (for a Southern Californian that is) and it looked like it was going to pour any second. Under different weather conditions, I would have stayed and enjoyed the music.
Next time, I would like to sample all the food instead of picking just one place. I think I might have found other tasty things to snack on :)
(*Disclosure: Along Comes Mary was invited to The BBQ and Beer Festival on behalf of this feature. All opinions and photography are the author’s own.)

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Ohana Dana Point is So Cal’s New Favorite Music Weekend!

Ohana

In an unsteady economy, its refreshing to see that music festivals are thriving. From Coachella to Outside Lands, a new one to be added to the roster (and sure to be the first of many) is Ohana, coming to Orange County’s Dana point this August.

Taking place at Doheny State Beach, I’ve had the pleasure of attending events at the breathtaking Doheny, and the thought of seeing sets from such big names as Lana Del Rey, Elvis Costello and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, sounds like the perfect way to bid Summer 2016 farewell.

In addition to offering a full day in the sun with a diverse music lineup, Ohana will donate a portion of proceeds to the San Onofre Parks Foundation, a California non-profit that cooperatively works with the California State Parks to develop, preserve and enhance the recreation and experience of California’s unique and beautiful coastal parks.

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Along with the weekend of music, drinks and fun in the sun, Friday, August 26th, Ohana will host their LUAU! Dinner, drinks, live entertainment, laughs and good times are all included while an exclusive live auction with The Roast Master himself, Jeff Ross, will take place during the OHANA LUAU only for its attendees.

Featuring various limited edition items and one-of-a-kind items as well as gift packages and more, there will also be live entertainment provided by John Doe, and special guests to be announced.

Tickets are selling FAST for Ohana Dana Point, get all the info and your tickets HERE! xo

Celebrate Fiesta de Mayo at Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill!

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For a lot of us, Cinco de Mayo is simply a holiday we love to get our drink and tequila on. While May 5th is certainly a time to bust out a beer or margarita (or 2), I was interested to do some Google-ing about this day and the celebration of Mexico’s independence. Here is some of what I found, from history.com:

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

We all know I love me some Mexican food. Our go-to is always Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill!

Sharky’s is currently having their “Fiesta de Mayo” Celebration with special menu promotions and the chance for one lucky guest to win a catered party for 20.  Guests simply post their favorite Sharky’s party menu item with #SharkysShare and @SharkysSocial on Facebook.com/SharkysSocial or Instagram.com/SharkysSocial by 11:59pm on May 31, 2016, with the catered party winner chosen randomly on June 1, 2016. Guests can also win one of four $25 gift cards weekly during May! :)

The Fiesta Burrito

The Fiesta Burrito

The Fiesta de Mayo celebration, which runs from May 1-May 31 from 2pm to close at each of Sharky’s 24 restaurants in California and Oregon, includes: Tempura Battered Wild Caught Alaska Cod Taco for $3.75, or two Tempura Battered Wild Caught Alaska Cod Tacos with organic rice and organic beans for $9.99. And at participating locations, Dos Equis beers are specially priced at just $3.00 from 2 p.m. to close. I think I know where I’ll be this Cinco de Mayo!

What are your plans for May 5th?!

(*Disclosure: I work often with Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill. All opinions are my own.)

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Staying “Steady” as a Diabetic with Glucerna®! #GlucernaHungerSmart

(I have been compensated by Glucerna for this post; however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own.Talk with your health care provider about a diabetes management plan that’s right for you. #GlucernaHungerSmart  #CollectiveBias)

Gluverna

Growing up, I always thought of the aisle at Walmart with Glucerna® products as “The Grandma Section” since I had seen my Gram getting their items. Fast forward a bit, and I would tell my young self that she would be enjoying Glucerna shakes far before she’s a Grandma!

Unfortunately, I have been a Type 1 Diabetic for 21 years. It is not a fun condition, I have had several up’s and downs (literally) in my life from this chronic illness. A question I get asked a lot is, “Does this mean you can’t eat sugar?” and while that is not quite accurate, I do have to be aware of what I am putting in my body and stay on top of managing my Diabetes.

Glucerna

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Whether you’re a Type 1 or 2, one thing is very certain: You need to manage your blood sugar and keep it within a good range (think 110-80). I must take insulin injections throughout the day to stay alive, some take medications to enable their own pancreas to use its insulin (this is Type 2). All of these medications have a huge impact on our body and we need to ensure we’re eating well, staying full and managing it the best we can without getting shaky from a low or getting too high. Our motto? Steady is exciting!

Now, a confession: I have a HUGE sweet tooth. Yet, I try my best to not over-do it with the sugar. Thats also because I am not a growing kid anymore (drats!), and want to stay in shape.  This is when I reach for my handy (and tasty) Glucerna® Hunger Smart™ Shakes.

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I really notice what impacts my day and blood sugar is how I start my morning. It truly can make or break a diabetic’s groove. As the saying goes, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.  It IS true.

Something always on my Walmart list are Glucerna® Hunger Smart™ Shakes. Glucerna is especially designed for us diabetics, they get us. With 15 grams protein, 6 grams of sugar and just ONE carb per bottle (thanks to CARBSTEADY®,  which allows carbs to be released slowly over time and prevents blood sugar spikes.), they complete my very own POWER BREAKFAST perfectly as I am all about the protein to keep myself feeling full til lunch.

Mike always notices on our Sunday treks to Walmart that something always on my list are eggs. They’re my absolute favorite go-to for my power breakfast. They, like the Glucerna Hunger Smart Shakes, provide me with protein to keep me from getting hangry til lunch time, while adding in a smart, slow releasing carb like an apple (and sometimes some peanut butter). I have decided to take it a step further and cut out the egg yolks, making myself the perfect 3 egg white omelette with spinach, mushrooms (bring on the Vitamin D and iron) and herbs, currently? Sea salt and ground black pepper. It changes weekly.

Don’t like eggs? Here are some other options for your power breakfast to ensure you’re off to a steady start!*

(*use under medical supervision)

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Try a bowl of yogurt with fruit or, like above, with some chia seeds. I love the plain or vanilla yogurt then I pair it with a Glucerna chocolate shake ;)

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A protein bar, apple and Glucerna shake are great when I am in a rush

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And, heres a very simple grab ‘n go option if your sugar is doing good but you want to keep it that way: Glucerna Hunger Smart shake, apple and almonds.

Do you or someone you love have Diabetes? Have you tried Glucerna yet? Whether you’re a fan or interested in why I love these shakes, head on over to Walmart as they’re currently offering up to $3 off two large packs :)

I cannot wait to hear your thoughts! xo

 

Meeting Garry Marshall and Seeing Mother’s Day! #MothersDayMOMS

Garry Marshall has easily made some of the most beloved, iconic pop culture movies for the rom-coms and “chick flick” crowds for decades. Think no further than The Princess Dairies, Valentine’s Day, Beaches, and, of course, Pretty Woman. Beyond that, this unstoppable extraordinaire of a creative soul also created one of the greatest sitcoms from the 1960s  (Happy Days), has written for such legendary shows like The Lucy Show and Dick Van Dyke, and helped launch The Odd Couple into a successful TV series.

Another thing that should be added to Mr. Marshall’s resume? Advocate for women.

A few weeks back, I was invited to spend the day with The MOMS and be one of the first to see Marshall’s latest effort, Mother’s Day, hitting theatres April 29th. Following the film, you have no idea how excited I was to get the chance to meet the man himself, along with Mother’s Day star, Britt Robertson. While they had plenty to discuss and giggle about their latest film, Marshall spent a great deal of time discussing his up-bringing, his sister, Penny’s, road to being the powerhouse she is in the industry, and share memories of his Mom, who taught young Garry a valuable lesson: To not be boring!

So much fun with Fujifilm on site. I have a feature on their instax coming soon!

So much fun with Fujifilm on site. I have a feature on their instax coming soon!

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Garry spoke proudly;y of Penny, and told us that she did not let the powers that be at the studios stop her from making BIG and later,A League of Their Own . When she was first starting out to direct, she was told no one would go to a movie directed by a female. Her response? She became the FIRST female director to bring in over 100 million at the box office, with BIG!

Another topic of discussion was Julia Roberts, whom Marshall easily single-handedly put on THE map when he cast her for Pretty Woman, and, once again, is collaborating with her in Mother’s Day. He shared sweet stories of their friendship; and what its been like knowing her since she was celebrating her 21st birthday on the Pretty Woman set, and, now, needing to squeeze around filming with picking her kids up from school!

Mary and Garry.

Mary and Garry.

In Mother’s Day, the premise is similar to that of his previous movies, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, which are expertly centered around separate groups of stories of characters, who somehow end up intertwining.

There is Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), who is scrambling to keep it all together following a divorce from her hubby (Timothy  Olyphant), who has quickly landed himself a new, sexy wife within 2 minutes. Jesse (Kate Hudson) is happily married to an Indian man and their live-in room mates are Jesse’s siter…and her wife. Do their right-wing, middle America parents have a clue about their daughters spouses? Nope. Jesse’s friend, Kristin (Britt Robertson) is in no rush to wed her boyfriend and Father of her new baby, while Miranda (Julia Roberts) has never been a Mom yet is a business mogul with Home Shopping Network jewelry.

With Britt Robertson, sweetest girl!

With Britt Robertson, sweetest girl!

There are so many classic, “Yep, I’ve been there” moments in Mother’s Day. While you would think I would probably relate best to Robertson’s character (a new Mom trying to figure things out), I really could see some of myself in Sandy. Despite she has teenage kids and has been through a marriage and divorce, I could understand her desire to just feel GOOD. Job hunting and feeling very rejected in her love life, I appreciated Marshall and Aniston’s subtle portrayal of trying to keep everything together, when you just want to crumble inside.

And, furthermore…..this is Jennifer Aniston. A beautiful woman playing someone who can’t get a date? Further proof that no matter WHAT our looks are, that no matter how in shape and awesome and polished we are, we still have struggles. Something Marshall touched on when I asked him if he has any particular favorite film he has done (See below). Agreeing with my belief that no matter our looks, wealth, etc, we still have major ups and downs.

Bravo, Garry and cast for a fantastic film to see with your Mom or special lady this year! xo

“Join” The Riboli Family at San Antonio Winery! #WineWednesday

Los Angeles is massive, no doubt about it. Sometimes, you can definitely feel like a small fish in a huge pond trying to find your way. Thus, why it is the best when you discover your watering holes in the city and the places where “everybody knows your name.” Lucky for me, one of those places is Downtown’s San Antonio Winery.

Rich in history (and celebrating their 100th birthday next year!), I was thrilled to head out to the Lamar Street landmark recently to be a guest at their Barrel Tasting event. As always, theres plenty of decadent foods being served, and, of course, the vino flowing!

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Fun with Pilar, Melissa and Arnaud!

Fun with Pilar, Melissa and Arnaud!

Over the course of nearly 3 hours, we got an in-depth look at the barrel process for wine making, and an insider’s look at just how our wines get to the bottle. From the difference of an oak barrel to a steel, San Antonio’s French winemaker, Arnaud Debons and San Antonio’s  Manager, Dominic Menton took us through this fascinating journey and gave us the unique opportunity to taste wines RIGHT from the barrel, and explained how the same grape can produce an extremely different outcome depending on the barrel it was made in. We were also treated to trying out the wines once in their bottle and ready to go home for enjoyment.

While all 3 of San Antonio’s locations (Los Angeles, Ontario and Paso Robles, respectively) have fantastic events just like this one throughout the year, it got me thinking: Why not take this passion a step further and join The Riboli  Family?! Ok, well, kind of.  San Antonio has 2 wonderful wine clubs that invite you to become a member and get in on terrific wines, members-only events, tours, discounts and more. Next best thing to joining the family, right?

Arnaud Debons

Arnaud Debons

Dominic Menton

Dominic Menton

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I cannot think of a more perfect gift for the special ladies in your life who love a great glass (or 2) of wine. Not only will you get some of the best San Antonio wines shipped to your door 3 times a year, but you also get to visit the wineries and receive generous discounts on San Antonio select wines and items. Bonus perk: When you visit the LA location, they also have a fabulous restaurant, Maddalena. Wine taste, shop, eat. What could be better?!

Learn more about The San Antonio Wine Club HERE and treat someone special (and yourself!) to joining The Riboli Family. xo

(*Disclosure: I was invited to The San Antonio Winery barrel tasting. All opinions are my own.)

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Travel the World at Yogurtland as Flavor Quest Returns!

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Who doesn’t love frozen yogurt? Its been a love affair for me since I was a little girl. Over the years, several frozen yogurt chains have come and gone, yet, one that is clearly here to stay is Yogurtland and its no secret why they have become the leading one stop shop for your fro yo fix; All of the Irvine-based restaurants flavors meet the National Yogurt Association Criteria for “live and active culture frozen yogurt” and are produced in a kosher-certified facility. Yogurtland features non-fat and low-fat yogurt flavors as well as non-dairy and no sugar added choices while using milk that does not contain antibiotics or added hormones. As for the sorbet, fruit flavors are fortified with Vitamin C for an extra boost.

Whats not to love, right?! I was so excited when a gift card from Yogurtland arrived in my mailbox with an invite to stop in and try all of this year’s flavors they had dreamed up for their “Flavor Quest”promotion. Since I cannot make it to The Middle East or Thailand this week (darn), I decided to instead celebrate #TravelTuesday by trying out some of their featured flavors.

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Yogurtland’s big international flavor mixer, serving up sensational new flavors inspired by destinations from around the world, has arrived once again for the fourth annual Flavor Quest that will go through June 1st.

Fans young and old can go on a global culinary journey with nine hand crafted, custom flavors and three new toppings, in honor of nine countries around the world. A new flavor launches each week and will be available for two weeks. 

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The featured flavors will be:

–        Indonesian Chocolate Java Cake – This decadent dessert takes the cake with rich chocolate and subtle notes of coffee to create this Indonesian-inspired perfection.

–        English Toffee – Blended with real butter toffee sauce, this rich gourmet sweetness will bring out your British side.

–        Thailand Mango Coconut Tart – Taste a true tropical treat from Thailand and one of the country’s most beloved culinary combos. This flavor pairs two of the best mango varietals in the world and blended it with coconut water for a lightly tart flavor that refreshes your taste buds.

–        Austrian Apple Strudel with Caramel – A new take on the classic Austrian dessert, this flavor blends real caramel, apples and notes of cinnamon for a delectable treat.

–        Middle Eastern Fig & Honey Gelato – To create this sweet combination, figs, a staple from the Middle East, are paired with a touch of honey to create a rich and sophisticated gelato.

–        Mexican Horchata – With real cinnamon and almonds, this creamy treat is an authentic spoonful of the deliciously sweet and popular Mexican rice drink.

–        Argentinian Dulce De Leche Cookie – Creamy dulce de leche is combined with shortbread cookies to create an irresistible South American flavor.

–        New Zealand Kiwi Raspberry Sorbet – This flavor-packed sorbet blends real raspberries and kiwi fruit to create a naturally sweet and crisp combination.

–        American Peanut Butter Parfait – Enjoy a taste of true Southern comfort food without the guilt. This no sugar added flavor combines rich vanilla with real peanut butter for a delicious spoonful of flavor.

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When I popped into my shop, I got to select from Thailand Mango Coconut Tart , Austrian Apple Strudel with Caramel  and Middle Eastern Fig & Honey Gelato. Since the apple strudel was not gluten-free, the other 2 were and they were AMAZING, especially since you could swirl the Fig and Honey with my favorite: their Columbian Coffee! Adding honey to coffee has become all the rage, and its easy to see why; especially when the creaminess to the yogurt nearly makes this taste just like your morning java treat!

Make sure to stop by to your Yogurtland and try out all these new flavors for Flavor Quest. Once its gone, its gone!

When was the last time you went to Yogurtland? xo

(*Disclosure: I received a Yogurtland gift card for this review. All opinions are my own.)

 

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