Planning a Trip with the Help of Groupon! #Groupon #ad

(This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.)

GG_Bridge_DisneyMuseum_View

While I live in LA and therefore, a lot of my stories are about adventures and sights to see in SoCal, I definitely have “left my heart” in San Francisco. Growing up, I wanted to live in the Full House home and have always jumped at any chance to visit the Bay Area since my first trek there when I was 8.

I am SO excited that I will be joining my IFWTWA peeps next month on a trip to San Mateo/Silicon Valley, with a day in my beloved “San Fran”! Being the excited planner I am, I immediately started researching where I wanted to go with what precious time I have by the bay. My strategy? Search restaurants and attractions I want to see, then jump over to Groupon to see if they have access to my picks at a lower rate.

9 times out of 10? They do! 😉

All I have to do is switch my location I want to search for Groupon Goods, and, bam: An array of options are at my fingertips. First thing, of course, was searching ice cream in the area and sure enough, $4 for $8 worth of Brazzle Berry Frozen Yogurt in Half Moon Bay, came up (I’ll be visiting there, too).

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An attraction that had really caught my eye was available, too: A Historical Walking tour of San Francisco, half off.  If museums are your jam, San Fran has so many for everyone, and on Groupon some of them were The GLBT History Museum (at 52% off for groups of 15!), The Bay Area Discovery Museum or even $20 for an “Urban Scavenger Race”.

The only catch? You should act fast when you see a deal!

Madame Tussaud’s and The Beat Museum caught my eye on Groupon, and since Madame Tussaud’s was a “Trending” item, that indicates its selling fast and will only be up for a short time. They include a ticker on the page to let you know how much time you have left (3 days in this case.). The Beat was listed as “Limited Time Remaining”…so, if you have your heart set on a discount, get ’em while they’re hot.

Get your grub on in San Francisco Bay, with help from Groupon!

Get your grub on in San Francisco Bay, with help from Groupon!

Your everyday faves are often on Groupon, too!

While I love experiencing new cafes and coffee houses on trips, its sometimes easy to dash into my trusty Starbucks for my usual, especially when I am starting my day. Groupon Goods just had an amazing $5 Groupon good for $10 of your fraps and coffee favorites. Whats not to love?!

While I have learned what a great “hack” Groupon is for trips, I want to remember it more for everything in my life. What do you use Groupon for?! xo

 

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A Day in Claremont Village. #RoadTripOil

(This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoadTripOil#CollectiveBias)

Something that I needed to address before we headed out to Claremont, California, last month, was….my car. My trusty, old reliable 2004 vehicle has been there for me since 2009. Back then, I was lucky to do a getaway here and there with it, but, now? Living in Los Angeles, just wanting to go anywhere in our traffic can feel like a “road trip”!

I did realize that I was over due for an oil change and thank goodness I could kill many birds (Or catch Pokemon) with one stone: I needed to head to Walmart for some road trip essentials and realized that while I shop, I could drop my car off for an oil change at their Automotive Care Center. Not only was it easy-peasy when I called to schedule my appointment, but, I was also informed since my car is a bit of a “senior” (Ahem, older!) that  now through September 28th,  PennzoilÂŽ High Mileage VehicleÂŽ is on Rollback from $39.88 to $35.88. Win-win!

How convenient is this?!

How convenient is this?!

With PennzoilÂŽ High Mileage VehicleÂŽ motor oil, I was told by the guys at Walmart how it helps clean out the “sludge” lesser oils leave behind, and can even help reduce leaks and oil consumption. It’s a motor oil specifically designed for new or late-model vehicles with over 75,000 miles, with the idea of keeping engines running clean and going strong. Which my car definitely needs.

My car certainly felt strong and mighty as we headed out to Claremont. And, while Claremont is the ideal walking city, we were staying about 6 miles from the restaurants and fun, so, perfect excuse to take advantage of my oil change and service!

With Claremont’s very own city gift cards in hand, Mike and I were starving and ready to find a great meal. If you’re wondering what “Claremont Gift Cards” are, you can purchase them at The Chamber of Commerce to use at any or all of the participating local businesses. While it’s usually a personal shop or cafe that provides gift certificates, The Claremont Chamber of Commerce has once again proven how creative they are with generating new visitors and those that already know this gem of a city (psst, like me).

Claremont's gift cards are available in amounts of $25.

Claremont’s gift cards are available in amounts of $25.

We decided to check out BUA Thai, in the heart of “The Packing House”, which the city began in 2007 and found an old railroad station getting a major face lift to attract those in Claremont looking for a bit of a modern experience without taking away Claremont’s “laid back” college town vibes.

With indoor or patio dining, BUA boasted many traditional Thai restaurant amenities and had a massive selection of Thai cuisine faves (as well as most available gluten-free! Just let your server know.). Craving my “go-to”, I decided to get Spicy Tofu Eggplant. If nothing else, to see how it fares with my most favorite Thai restaurant here in the valley. The verdict? I told Mike that I would choose BUA’s over my usual!

Gluten-free Spicy Tofu Eggplant at BUA Thai.

Gluten-free Spicy Tofu Eggplant at BUA Thai.

While at first, Mike was surprised he was not asked how spicy he wanted his dish, the answer was soon revealed that every spice and peppers and hot sauces you could think of to have on your Thai food, was set in front of us at our table. It turned out to be a great thing, instead of hoping you spoke correctly by saying “medium”, or even “mild”.

And, of course, no visit to Claremont is complete without a visit to their Folk Music Center and Rhino Records. Both apart of the gift cards program, we had a ball in Rhino deciding what to bring home. Their Donald Trump coloring book was awfully tempting!

Right across the street from Rhino, is the Folk Music shop, which I have written of before. Owned by musician, Ben Harper, and his family, this store is an absolute treasure chest of magic and creativity. Whether you want to pick up a banjo or guitar for the first time, or are a violinist needing a new one, or some strings, this is a legendary shop that musicians far and wide flock to. Nearly every instrument displayed is available to pick up and play a tune on. They’re also the creators of Claremont’s annual Folk Music Festival.

Claremont's world renowned Folk Music Center.

Claremont’s world renowned Folk Music Center.

Rhino Records.

Rhino Records.

 

If after you get your folk and rock fix on, mosey on down to get some major NERD on at A Shop Called Quest. While I am not as familiar as I’d like with comics, I usually get excited in comic shops as they have so much beyond comics to enjoy. From a beautiful complete series of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, to T Shirts and the most POP! bobble heads I’ve ever seen, this local fave is a must see.

A Shop Called Quest.

A Shop Called Quest.

Our little local getaway to Claremont was just what we needed, and to have zero anxiety about my car’s needs, thanks to PennzoilÂŽ and Walmart, made it even more fantastic. Not to mention, my fun shopping time while I waited for my car….this could at last be the ideal purse to hold all my junk when I travel. Went around it a few times, and decided I was being stupid, and bought it. I was saving money with the oil change rollback, right?? 😉

So many compartments, and 2 are Velcro which I love.

So many compartments, and 2 are Velcro which I love.

 

Huge thanks to Visit Claremont as well, for the great experiences with our gift cards! Where will you go after a PennzoilŽ oil change at Walmart?! xo

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Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice Will Have You Thinking Alot About Your Life.

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When in life do you know you have “made it”? What defines success to you? What if you’re seeing all your wishes come true for your best friend, and never yourself? These are some of the subjects covered in Mike Birbiglia’s newest dramedy, Don’t Think Twice.

After its world premiere earlier this year at SXSW, Don’t Think Twice has gone on to play the film festival scene, just had an amazing premiere at New York’s Sunshine Theatre and will at last  will begin playing at more theatres this month (Including LA this week!).

I went in not knowing too much about the premise, other than it boasted a fabulous cast including Kate Micucci (whom I am already a fan), Keegan-Michael Key from Key and Peele and Keanu fame, and Birbiglia himself.

Gillian Jacobs, Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard make up this ensemble cast who play improv comediennes with their own troop, The Commune. Each week, The Commune host a super fun improv show at a small club that is about to go bye-bye. This group of friends are not only fiercely talented, but, also, devoted to their comedic craft.

DDT

To get some of their own laughs, The Commune gather each week to giggle, have some drinks and poke fun on the living room floor at Weekend Live (AKA-Saturday Night Live). While I do watch SNL, it certainly has not felt in a great phase as of late. The talent is there (How can you not love Leslie Jones on Weekend Update? Or Kate McKinnon as Hilary Clinton?), yet, sometimes? The writing and laughs feel forced. Much like how Birbiglia portrays Weekend Live. Yet, it is clearly how The Commune gang will know they have made it: When they join the cast of Weekend Live.

When talent scouts from the series arrive at their improv night, some members shortly get the phone call to come in for an audition, while some do not. When one of The Commune’s very own gets IN on Weekend Live, several emotions come forward as they see their now star friend get more busy, more known, and favoring their TV roles over Improv nights in a basement. When audience members seeing The Commune seem more interested in seeing their star comedy member, feelings get hurt, naturally.

While I am in no way a comedienne, I related to Don’t Think Twice so well. it is all about knowing when you need to give up on your dreams. Living in a city in your 20’s, then 30’s. One of my most favorite lines in the film (And just that I’ve heard in a long time) is when it is said that your 20’s are when you hope, then, in your 30’s? You often are left feeling dumb to have ever hoped, and instead, you end up taking odd jobs just to try to make the rent.

The cast at the NY premiere of Don't Think Twice. Photo by: Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix

The cast at the NY premiere of Don’t Think Twice. Photo by: Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix

Birbiglia absolutely nails mocking Saturday Night Live, right down to Timothy, the head honcho at the show (and clearly boasting traits of Lorne Michaels) and also at some of the guest bands on SNL. He did not hold back at the tongue in cheek, and it plays brilliantly.

Following the film, I had the pleasure to head  out to Vintage Enoteca on Sunset Boulevard to meet Mike Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key and Kate Micucci to get their views and insights on Don’t Think Twice. Stay tuned as later in the week I will share that fun afternoon with you! xo

 

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Visiting Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden & Giveaway ends 7-26!

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is visit all the beautiful butterflies to be seen at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. While I was lucky to see them last year with my IFWTWA Family, this year I was invited back to see more sights and eat great food in this adorable college city in the Inland Empire. This time, with Michael in tow!

We spent an absolutely fabulous weekend in Claremont, and in the coming weeks I will be sharing more about our adventures with you. For the first story, I want to introduce you to Butterfly Bill and his Butterfly Pavilion that opens up every May at the gardens.

Mike and I were fascinated at the different types of trees at the gardens. The bark on this one especially caught our eyes. Photo: Michael Farah.

Mike and I were fascinated at the different types of trees at the gardens. The bark on this one especially caught our eyes.
Photo: Michael Farah.

Kids get a kick out of this grass hut.

Kids get a kick out of this grass hut.

“Butterfly Bill” is none other than Bill Gendron. Gendron is a retired engineer who dived back into his passions for entomology when he was 50. His main jam? Studying and collecting butterflies. For just $3 admission (in addition to your admission into this nearly 800 acre garden), you can enter his world of butterflies and even see caterpillars right on the verge of earning their wings.

While I have visited similar pavilions before, Rancho Santa Ana’s is easily my favorite. While many zoo’s and exhibits give you the chance to get up close and personal with species, no one is usually around to tell you more about what you are ooh-ing and ahh-ing at. Bill is right there to greet you and take you into the pavillion. As butterflies are literally fluttering all around (and maybe even on!) you, Bill is there to explain to who is who, where they start at, their mating tendencies and what makes them unique.

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

Along with the dozens of butterflies to see, many of Bill’s framed ones are on site to see and learn from, too. He is at the ready and eager to teach you all about these unique, gorgeous creatures.

Rancho Santa Ana also hosts countless classes and field trips all year through, too, and you can even rent out several parts of the gardens for your own event. Get all the info HERE.

Michael made a friend!

Michael made a friend!

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While Rancho Santa Ana is open year round, the butterflies will be released on August 7th, and the pavilion will close up shop until next  May. I highly recommend visiting this Summer to see The Butterfly Pavilion. Like I mentioned: This is the Inland Empire. So, it’s very warm! Definitely dress appropriately, wear a hat, slather on the SPF and don’t be like Mike and me and run out of water. (There are water fountains and a gift shop to re-hydrate, though).

I have a pair of tickets, as well as admission to The Butterfly Pavilion, to give away! Simply enter using the form below by July  26th, and make sure to read over my Sweepstakes Rules under the tab above! Good luck! 🙂 xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I Bought a Bikini (For the First Time, Ever!) #SimplySmooth

(This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SimplySmooth #CollectiveBias)

I am not going to lie, this has been a very hectic Summer already. I have had some ups and downs personally, and it seems almost everyday I am either doing something really fun on behalf of the blog, or writing and catching up on my articles. August is already shaping up to be filled and I could not be happier to be heading up to Chico, California, for a much-needed vacation and some R&R with one of my best friends, Ariel.

I had to giggle recently when someone asked me if this was a press trip I was taking. Nope! While it seems most of my traveling is for Along Comes Mary, this trip will be simply, to visit with Ariel, her friends and hit the lakes and outdoors.

Something that has been on my mind is sorta silly, but, its been to get a new bathing suit for the trip. That may not be a big deal to some of you, but, for me? I hate showing off my body. And, the thought of a bikini? Fuhgheddaboutit. I am guilty of never feeling too confident in my skin, wanting to hit the gym more, you get the idea. The 2 piece you usually see me in is this cute tie-dye suit….

Bikini

A modest suit with no belly showing. And, get this: I bought it last time I visited Ariel, in 2011. I think its time for a new one, no?! When I see my friends rocking their bodies and looking fabulous in a legit bikini, it makes me want to take more risks. I am almost 30 and hitting a point of, who cares? Love what you got and be happy if you are healthy.

This new ‘tude led me to check out some sections of Target I don’t usually frequent: Swim suits and the waxing aisle! I found 2 pairs of suits to try out and then headed over to take a look at Sally Hansen Wax Strip Kit (Body). Sally Hansen has always been my BFF for nail polish, so I knew I would be in good hands with her waxing products. I was excited to see that along with the wax kits, Sally Hansen offers a bunch of other items to help you out, too. I grabbed their Ouch-relief wax strip kit for body, too.

I found my Sally Hansen wax kits in Target near the pharmacy, with the shavers .

I found my Sally Hansen wax kits in Target near the pharmacy, with the shavers .

While Michael was eager to see me in my bikini’s, first thing was first: ensuring that my legs do not look like King Kong. So, I tried out my wax kit. I actually had just shaved, but, it’s never that great at getting rid of all the hair and I already had little ones popping back up. Luckily, Sally Hansen Strip Wax Kits can handle the short hair, too, and helps reduce the appearance of hair regrowth while helping you stay smooth for up to 8 weeks. That is 2 months, girls! Sign me up.

No more shaver for me!

No more shaver for me!

The numbing strips for ouch relief were heaven sent.

The numbing strips for ouch relief were heaven-sent.

And, now….the big moment. I love you guys very much….to be posting pictures of me in a 2 piece! I also need some help. Which bikini do you like better? Mike and I know which we like, but, I want your input on which I should pack on my trip up north!

Bikini1

Bikini2

So….I felt very skimpy in this one. I don’t like sleeveless stuff so this was huge for me to buy. I do love striped anything, so, that’s what drew me to this one. Thoughts?

Then, this suit below is a bit more “safe” for me. The top has a top and bottom tie so I felt very secure in this one, and it also offers some push up and support for smaller chicks like me. I like the colors to the bottom, too. How about you?

Bikini3

Bikini4

One thing is certain, though: I felt completely confident in these suits as far as my hairless legs! These pictures were taken right after I tried the Sally Hansen wax kit, and, as you can see, there’s no redness or bumps at all. These tutorial videos were awesome for a first timer, too. Check out “The Secrets of Using Wax” and you will be in good hands.  I am a fan!

Please let me know your thoughts….and, don’t be afraid to say I should stick to my safe pink suit, too! 😉 xo

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Beautiful: The Carol King Musical is a Must-See at The Pantages!

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While it is no secret how much I admire many of the female singer/songwriters that have filled concert halls through the years (Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell, PJ Harvey….the list of talents are endless), one of them some may be surprised to know I have always enjoyed is Carol King.

Probably a good 10 or more years ago, I found myself with an old cassette of her 1971 masterpiece, Tapestry. During the era of Joni’s Blue, Janis Joplin’s Pearl or even Buffy Saint Marie’s She Used to Wanna be a Ballerina (which, oddly enough, features a cover of Smack Water Jack, co-written by King), along came Carol King. Then, better known as half of the powerhouse writing duo along with her Husband, Gerry Goffin.

Since 1960, these “kids” (Carol just 17 and Goffin 20 when they met) were churning out the hits for such notable names as The Drifters (Up on the Roof) and The Shirelles (Will You Still Love me Tomorrow?).

Carol King’s incredible journey from teen writing sensation, teenage Mom and Wife, to writing songs for herself when her marriage to Goffin crumbled, is currently being told in the remarkable Tony Award winning musical, Beautiful: The Carol King Musical. I am so lucky that I got to witness this spectacle at The Pantages Hollywood with one of my best blogging buddies, Melissa from Miz Meliz (and on her birthday eve, no less!).

Selfie sillies.

Selfie sillies.

Beautiful is the authorized story of Carol, her then-husband, Gerry Goffin, and their best friends/friendly rivals, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. While The Mann’s were also successful songwriters (You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, He’s so Shy), there really was no way to compete with The Goffin’s. While King was a lyricist, I had no idea that some of their most beloved songs, like Will You Still Love me Tomorrow and (You Make me Feel..) Like a Natural Woman, were her husband’s words to her music. It brought to mind one of my favorite authors, Wally Lamb, who so hauntingly brought to life Dolores Price in his highly acclaimed book, She’s Come Undone.

While all the songs are in Beautiful, it’s the story that really inspired me. Carol King has always struck me as such a happy, humble, kind woman, yet, behind the fun and games of ruling the radio in the 60’s, she was dealing with a husband with a drifting eye and 2 young daughters by the time she was only 28 (She had their first, Louise, at just 17).

Abby Mueller, who plays our leading woman in the touring company, is certainly one for her peers to look up to. Mueller BECOMES King effortlessly. From the shy, ambitious girl we meet in Act 1, to a woman picking up the pieces of her divorce and getting the courage to move to LA and tell her own story in Act 2, Mueller not only sounds so much like Carol with that raspy, hearty voice, but also delivers the heart and soul to her songs.

CK

I also appreciated Mueller’s ability to be so brilliant, yet, not take all the spotlight. Her co-stars, Liam Tobin (Gerry), Becky Gulsvig (Cynthia) and Ben Frankhauser (Barry) shine on stage along with the rest of the cast, and are equally as marvelous as Mueller.

Some fun facts: Abby’s sister, Jessie, originated the role on Broadway and earned her first Tony Award for her portrayal, and, as Carol is changing her life towards the end of the night, she tells The Mann’s she is moving to California to record her first album….to “somewhere called Laurel Canyon” and, mentions that her girls want a cat. This made me giggle as I love the cover of Tapestry, with Carol’s 2 cats sitting with her 😉

Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, is currently on its North American tour (as well as on Broadway!) and at The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood through this Sunday, July 17th. I cannot recommend this musical enough, one everyone can certainly enjoy! Bravo, cast! xo

 

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Behind the Scenes with Ray Romano and Queen Latifah in ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE #IceAge #CollisionCourse

(Editor’s Note: Along Comes Mary was invited to experience all of this Ice Age fun. This is a guest post by Mary K. Tran, on behalf of Along Comes Mary. )

ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE, the fifth installment of the ICE AGE movies is coming to theaters July 22nd! We went to a pre-screening hosted by 20th Century Fox to learn more about the film and the characters behind the voice. Do you recall a moment in the first film about them stumbling upon a spaceship in a block of ice? The writers have always wanted to go back and revisit that. In this film, Scrat accidentally falls into the spaceship and sets off a series of chain reactions due to his obsession with the acorn. It’s his version of the Big Bang. It’s catastrophic but his version is pretty hilarious. As a result, a meteor shower threatens the Ice Age World so Manny and his friends have to find a way to save themselves. Meanwhile, Manny is having a hard time with Peaches wanting to move away after she marries her fiance. That’s all I want to say. You’ll have to watch the rest to see what happens.

At the press junket, Ray Romano (Manny) talks about being a Dad and the process of recording. He can totally relate to what’s going on in the story because he too has a daughter that is around the same age as Peaches (Keke Palmer). It’s pretty fun to see Queen Latifah (Ellie) and Ray Romano in the same room because the actors usually don’t even see each other in the recording studio. Ray explains there is no one to play off of, and they’re in a booth. It’s pretty interesting how they do it. Both Ray and Queen Latifah agreed that the best part is they don’t have to get all dressed up for it. It’s not always in chronological order and they have to match the intensity.

Ray Romano: “The Director will read the other line to you, but I don’t hear her voice, no. It’s all done in such piecework, you know.”

Queen Latifah: “And sometimes instead of just having the Director, maybe they will start to read the scene, and then I’ll just start doing it by myself. I’ll just hit my lines. And then, maybe I’ll do a line three times in a row. Because I hear it in a few different ways. And that’s where we as actors are. That’s what we’re hired for to do it our style and kind of bring to it what we bring to it.”

Ray Romano: “Right. And a lot of times they’ll say, ‘Okay, you’re falling down the cliff now, and so we need to scream -Ahhhh. And I’ll tell them we’ve done five movies. You have me screaming 5,000 times. Can’t you just take one of those? Obviously you can’t, no.”

You know how Ray Romano has a daughter so he can relate to the story in ICE AGE. I think any parent can relate to the story, because no is every good enough for our children.

“I have a daughter who’s around the same age as Peaches. As a dad it’s bittersweet. You want your daughter to be happy to find somebody special, and yet you think whoever she does find isn’t going to be good enough for her. And that’s who Manny is. He knows that Julian is not a bad guy, but that doesn’t mean he gets to marry Peaches. Julian has to prove himself to Manny, and Manny has to learn to accept that his daughter is moving on to this next phase of her life. And it’s not easy – I know that from experience.”

I loved when Queen Latifah talks about kids these days. It’s a bit lengthy but I think she said it perfectly.

“I think it’s always important that kids see themselves reflected in the stories they see, so anything that speaks to being okay with being yourself, with being different–being different, being normal–being different is normal. Kids are trying to figure things out. Sometimes things should not be that deep. They should really be kind of simple, they should be fun. I mean, kids’ lives are about innocence and learning and growing and making lots of mistakes.

And so, anything that makes them have to be perfectionists–it’s okay to strive for that, but if you fall a little short, life is not over because they’re kids. And so, there has to be some redemption in things or second chances in things, so the kids know, “Hey, you’re okay. You made a mistake, own it, whatever. But, get up, and dust yourself off, and try again,” all those life lessons I think that are important.

I just think that today we are smarter than we’re behaving as human beings. And I think we could show much more compassion, I think we could show much more inclusiveness. I think we can completely disagree respectfully, and we should see what that it looks like to not agree with someone at all but yet not kill them, not take their head off, you know, not bully them, you know. So, it’s not to say those things don’t exist.

It’s just that we’re trying to teach kids at the same time and show them that there is a better way, better than what we even did, better than what our parents did. And we’re supposed to grow. So, I mean, I like to see those stories told. But, at the end of the day, if you sit a kid down, and they tell you what they feel, that’s the truth. And you have to hear them on that.

So, it’s not about you trying to tell them what they feel and think. Just hear where they’re coming from because it’s going to be honest, more honest than us in this room. Kids will be honest because they haven’t learned to lie like we have or to cover things up. So, I just think it’s important to hear where they are coming from and then also show them the way, so to speak, and then let them take over.”

My family love ICE AGE movies and the new movie makes a great addition to the series. My kids loved all the cool features of the spaceship. I loved the new world that they found, and the parts of Manny with this new future son-in-law. It’s overall a pretty good movie.

Mary
_________
This is a post written by Mary K. Tran. Mary is a super active mom of two boys who likes to blog about her adventures in Orange County. You can learn more about Mary at www.LetsPlayOC.com.

Ice Age Encounters at La Brea Tar Pits Museum!

Experience a multimedia performance where we dig into the past to uncover the mysteries of some of the extinct creatures who roamed Ice Age Los Angeles over 10,000 years ago. This dynamic, 15-minute show features a life-size adult Saber-toothed Cat puppet, a live performance and film projections that bring the distant past to life.

The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
5801 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA

(213) 763-3499
www.tarpits.org/museum/programming/ice-age-encounters

Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm.
Fridays at 10:30 am, 11:15 am, and 12 pm
$4 Adults, Seniors, Students
$3 Children 3-12
Children 2 years and under FREE
Members FREE

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Saturday at LA Food Fest.

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

 

Last weekend marked one of the most anticipated weekends of the year if you are a hardcore foodie and Angelino: The LA Food Fest. Formerly known as The LA Street Food Fest, this food faire with the possibility of “all you can eat” was a favorite of Michael and me when we went a few years ago. Back then? One entry fee got you into The Rose Bowl and the ability to eat whatever you want, as much as you want, from the festival’s food vendors. There were massive lines for the Stella Rosa wine samples, Sushi Roku’s hand rolls, tequila tastings and all kinds of bar-b-q’ed meats.

Since then, The LA Food Fest has had changes in management, PR and location. Now taking over Exposition Park behind The Natural History Museum, they certainly have managed to transform a generous amount of space to their 100 vendors, entertainment and, now, food trucks, indy co-op shop stands and their “Rose Garden” al-fresco style dining experience.

Wine. I wasted no time. Photo: Michael Farah.

Wine. I wasted no time.
Photo: Michael Farah.

Like I quite often say with festivals involving help-yourself-food-samples and crowds, there are going to be some kinks. What I previously loved about the food fest was the one ticket price for all to enjoy. The only other ticket option was a VIP, which meant you got to come in earlier to start your noshing. VIP now indicates “The Golden Hour”: Giving those of us wanting to enjoy samples til our heart is content for 2 hours (from 12-2) to do so. Once the clock striked 2? The vendors stopped serving for an hour, to make way for the MRKT ticket holders.

MRKT passes got you into the fun for a small fee, and you then select from the vendors full portioned dish on ap for the day. From the signage, it appeared that the prices went from $5 and up. Not sure if the prices meant a different sized dish, too.

And, for the full treatment, their Rose Garden Pop Up Restaurant passes got you an intimate, Chef hosted, long table style dining experience, including a brunch, for $95 and access to MRKT.

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

And, there is also the elephant that’s always in the room with me: My diet. Many have asked me, Is this worth it if you’re gluten-free? Or, better yet, gluten-free AND Vegetarian/Pescatarian? While it was a fun afternoon at Exposition Park, and I got a great share of wine, ice cream and iced coffees, I would vote no, judging from 2016.

In 2014, I had a ball trying a great selection of “Mary Friendly” foods. While Michael enjoyed himself a plenty (BBQ, ice cream, meatballs….), he also felt that the variety was not as elaborate as 2 years ago.

Nevertheless, I will always have fun and enjoy LA Food Fest. Here is to 2017! xo

(*Disclosure: I received media credentials to cover LA Food Fest. All opinions are my own.)

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15 Hashtags for 7 Days a Week! #SocialMediaMonday

 

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Are you looking to make each day a theme on your social media posts and/or your blog? Whether you are a blogger or business owner, hashtags are huge and key to getting your posts seen and heard.

Luckily, there are many hashtags utilized on each day that social media lovers thrive on and search for on other people’s posts on their favorite days of the week. Today, for #SocialMediaMonday (or is it more of a #ManicMonday?), I am going to share a handful of tags that are popular and perfect for you should you be searching for new, creative tags.

#MotivationalMonday

If Mondays gives you a case of the #MondayBlues, find a quote you love or a silly meme about your morning cup of coffee. Post it and include #MotivationalMonday. If you’re a blogger, maybe write a story about when motivating yourself got you somewhere you are proud of. The sky’s the limit!

#TravelTuesday

A Travel bloggers favorite day. Whether you are on a trip, or recalling a great place you have been, post about it and use #TravelTuesday. Search this tag, too, on Instagram and Twitter. to discover like-minded wanderlusters.

#TravelTuesday could take your audience to The Hollywood Bowl...

#TravelTuesday could take your audience to The Hollywood Bowl…

#WineWednesday

You made it through #HumpDay, and now, a glass of Pinot is calling your name. Snap an artsy-fun pic and slap #WineWednesday on the caption. This is one of my favorite days on Twitter as there are several chats, like #SonomaChat, that bring wino’s from around the world together.

#WellnessWednesday

Wine not your thing? Not to worry, there’s #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) or another goody, #WellnessWednesday. As someone who loves holistic living and learning ways to continually enrich myself, Wellness Wednesday will find you a slew of great articles and shares on living your best life.

#ThrowbackThursday (Or #TBT)

Did you write an article you thought was just the BEST ever on your blog, yet you were disappointed that it went unnoticed, or maybe didn’t get the hits you thought it would? Re-share your content on #ThrowbackThursday and see what happens. Do you have a shop and are remembering a fun event or your opening day? Post some pix with #TBT.

And, don't forget #FoodieFriday!

And, don’t forget #FoodieFriday!

#FollowFriday (Or #FF)

One of my favorites. On Twitter, you will commonly see #FF on Friday for #FollowFriday. This is a great chance to give a shout out to your fellow blogging friends or a favorite brand and tag your friends in with them. #FF is to encourage new follows and friends.

#Saturdate

A no brainer. Date with your love at the park? A blog article about a great date night restaurant? Use #Saturdate to tell peeps where the date hot spots are.

#SundayFunDay

This one is retro for me. I used this term way before I got into social media! Sunday is meant to be a fun day, so if you are out having a blast, snap some pictures for Instagram and include #SundayFunDay as a hashtag.

Did I miss your favorite hashtag for a day during the week? Let me know! And, as always, I am available for tutorials, coaching and/or social media managing. Email me anytime at alongcomesmary26@gmail.com and lets chat 🙂 xo

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Go SOLAR Powered with SoCalGas! #SolarH20 #SoCalGas

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Have you noticed that a lot of companies are turning to solar energy power? I have but had never paid much attention until Michael and I bought our own (and very first!) townhouse nearly 2 years ago. It has been quite the learning experience to own instead of rent. When there is an issue, or you need an improvement? There is no landlord or office to call. It is all on you. It sounds scary at first, but, now? We’re slowly becoming home improvement pro’s…with a little help from our friends along the way.

That includes our friends over at SoCalGas. When I first heard they were promoting solar water heating systems, I was skeptical. How can you rely on the sun alone to give you the power you need? Well, if my SoCalGas branded solar-powered Birksun backpack is any indicator, the sun is a mighty and powerful tool to utilize for keeping your laptops charged, and your water hot!

This Birksun backpack is the bee's knees....

This Birksun backpack is the bee’s knees….

 

Some quick facts about  Solar Water Heating Systems:

• Solar water heating is an effective way to boost the efficiency your existing hot water system, while reducing energy costs.

• A solar water heating (solar thermal) system does not replace your existing water heater. It works with it by preheating the water with the warmth of the sun to help your hot water system use less energy. This way you always have hot water, day or night, rain or shine.

• Choosing the right solar water heating system not only maximizes the energy you save every month but also determines your rebate from the California Solar Initiative. The amount of your rebate is based on how much energy the solar water heating system is expected to displace annually, so it’s important to find the right system for your home.

Beach4
• Upgrading to solar water heating can help you:

Reduce your energy consumption.
­ Lower your water-heating bill.
­ May be eligible for federal, state and local rebates when available.
­ Make your house more environmentally friendly.
­ Reduce your carbon footprint.

And the cat's pajamas! I'm now able to charge my laptop AND be eco-friendly, at the same time.

And the cat’s pajamas! I’m now able to charge my laptop AND be eco-friendly, at the same time.

When you live near paradise, why not consider solar energy for your home?!

When you live near paradise, why not consider solar energy for your home?!

But, what about on overcast or cold days? Does solar power still work?? 
Yes! The solar water heating systems work with your traditional or tankless water heater to provide hot water day and night, rain or shine. How nifty, right?

Another reason to look into going solar-powered if you are in SoCal? Homeowners can receive a rebate up to $10,238 if you either find a certified contractor or attend a self-installer workshop. Find more information about a certified contractor, check out the website HERE.

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Enter to Win a Pair of Tickets to The LA Food Fest!

(Editor’s Note: Due to time restrictions from LA Food Fest, I had to close this giveaway a day early. I apologize for any inconvenience. See you at the fest! xo, Mary)

Remember a few years back when Michael and I covered The LA Food Fest? One of my most “liked” pictures was taken that day….

Food Fest1

I must admit, I have always loved this picture, too. Mike is always capable at getting the best photos of me. Even when I don’t feel the most photogenic….like here. Any other time, I would complain that my tummy rolls are noticeable, I have on a stupid hat, I am pigging out on ice cream. You get the idea. It’s a woman thing, I think. But, somehow, it all came together here and all I see is a girl in her bliss. Having a great time. Even my tee-shirt is matching my AWESOME hat I had just gotten 😉

Lucky for us all, it is that time of year once again and The LA Food Fest will take over Exposition Park at USC this coming weekend (July 9th and 10th) for 2 filled (literally) days of any and all kinds of cuisine and drinks you can dream up. Two words: Stretchy. Pants.

Quick stop to the Iced Coffee Lounge!

Quick stop to the Iced Coffee Lounge!

From Sage Vegan Bistro to Canter’s Deli truck, from Dr. Brew’s Kombucha to Firestone Walker, there will be something for EVERYONE at this year’s food fest, and, like always, this event is awesome whether you’re looking for a date day to get your drink and donuts on, or a family with little ones looking to try out some ice cream and wines (for the Moms and Dads!)

Formerly at The Rose Bowl, LA Food Fest now takes over “The Trojans” and Exposition Park in Downtown LA. Just like when USC is taken over by The Festival of Books, this is another match made in heaven as you’re also surrounded by such gems as The Natural History Museum and The California Science Center.

The LA Food Fest and their partners (and my friends) at Nederlander have offered one of my readers a pair of general admission tickets to the festival! Tickets will be valid for the event July 9th OR 10th. ($30 value.) Simply follow the directions on my Rafflecopter form below and enter by July 8th (I know, very quick turnaround! Act fast!). Winner’s tickets will be emailed to name and email provided, and check out my sweepstakes rules tab, too! 🙂 Good luck and see you this weekend to get your STRETCHY PANTS on! xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick Team up for DreamWork’s Trolls!

 

Trolls6

Growing up, I was absolutely obsessed with Trolls. I think most 90s kids will tell you they had at-least a small collection of those “ugly but cute” dolls that were revamped with the colorful, crazy hair and a far cry from their humble Danish beginnings as a “Dam” doll in the 1960’s.

Now, get ready for another generation to fall in-love with Trolls! 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation is proud to announce and unveil their first trailer for the highly anticipated feature film, TROLLS, arriving to theatres November 4th. Just in time for the holidays!

I was beyond thrilled when I was invited to head out to the DreamWorks Campus in LA to interview the Director of Trolls, Mike Mitchell, Co-Director Walt Dohrn, Producer Gina Shay (the creative team also responsible for Shrek!) and the stars of Trolls, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick.

Trolls

Trolls5

Kendrick plays perky Troll, Poppy, to Timberlake’s grumpy boots, voice of reason, Branch. As you can see in this brand new trailer, they definitely are “opposites attract” when it comes to their friendship….

I have had the pleasure of speaking to celebrities before, yet, I found myself very nervous at the thought of speaking to Timberlake. In my opinion, he is the Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson of our generation. With a musical catalog spanning nearly 20 years, he has manged to make the leap over to film with flying colors.

Anna Kendrick has been on my radar since I first loved her in 2009’s Up in the Air. A “triple threat”, Kendrick has managed to get an Academy Award and Tony nomination under her belt all before she was 25 years old.

Trolls3

I was intrigued to learn that Timberlake also serves at the Executive Music Producer for Trolls, and I was interested to ask him how the process of adding such beloved songs and great music to a film goes down; if you begin researching songs and have an idea of the story before the film is at all created, and such?? He was so gracious and offered me a quite lengthy response:

“This is my first time to do it on this level. I’ve never sort of been a music producer for a film.  Now, I came on a little after some of the songs were sought after and cleared, and I don’t  know if you know about the clearance process, but that can be, like, mind-numbing. So, I think that once these songs were cleared and I kind of came in, True Colors was definitely already picked out for this moment in the movie.

So, my job for that was hopefully to put our own spin on it, make it sound unique, make it sound like it belonged in the scene, much like a musical theater, musical theater almost.
So, then I wrote four original songs, one of them that you may or may not have heard, which is in the movie as well, and specifically written for the movie. I’ve never done anything like that as well.”

Trolls2

Trolls1

Trolls is sure to be a ht this Fall. I cannot wait to report back with more exciting announcements as they come, and, in the meantime, follow along to the countdown for TROLLS here!  xo

(*Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Trolls press conference on behalf of this blog. All opinions are my own and it was a highlight of my blogging career to interview this phenomenal creative team!)

 

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