Monday, March 21, 2016

Taste of Mama Sparkles - New Seasonal Salads at Boudin SF!

*Click the Columns tab to see an explanation of Taste of Mama Sparkles.

I've always been a huge fan of sourdough bread. And Boudin Bakery seems to do it best. I mean, just look at this crab. Who wouldn't want to devour that in one sitting?!

Seriously tasty bread. So, I knew that Boudin had fantastic bread...which also means that their sandwiches are the bomb because of the bread. But, I hadn't tried their salads before. I've never been a huge salad eater. Perhaps it's because of the all the sad, pale iceberg lettuce and wilty cucumber and tomato combinations out there. They just don't taste that great. I like a little substance to my salad, which surprisingly is kinda hard to find.

I was willing to give Boudin's salads a shot though - because if they can make delicous sourdough bread in the shape of a crab, they should be able to make a decent salad, right? Luckily, my suspicions were absolutely correct!

At the San Diego blogger event, Chef Alan (who is awesome by the way), presented four salads to us. Each one was totally unique, and there was not one hint of iceberg lettuce, wilted cucumbers or pale tomatoes to be seen.

Instead, we were treated to spring mix, baby spinich and crunchy romained lettuce. These salads were packed with yummy things like chicken, green beans, goat cheese, beets and mangoes. As a "salad hater" I just could not get enough! These are the salads we got to try:

These are the Mango & Red Quinoa, Bacon, Blue & Beets, Forbidden Rice & Chicken Sesame and Lemony Couscous salads. I loved them all, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be a toss up between the Mango & Red Quinoa and the Bacon, Blue & Beets salads. The mangoes were super fresh with just the right amount of quinoa, red grapes and goat cheese. The house-made citrus vinaigrette was delicous! And how can you go wrong with bacon, blue cheese and beets? The answer is, you can't. This salad was jam packed with hearty goodness, including chicken, green beans, spiced walnuts and ranch dressing.

Needless to say, I will be back very soon for more salad AND for some crab bread! If you try any of these seasonal salads, let me know what you think!

What about you? What's your favorite item at Boudin Bakery?

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Zootopia - In Theaters Now!

Disney's 55th animated feature, Zootopia, makes your wildest dreams come true with a mammal metropolis featuring a small town bunny named Judy Hopps, a cunning fox named Nick Wilde and a hilarious slow-moving sloth employee at the DMV.

I really didn't know what to expect going into the movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. Seeing as my secret ambition is to be a detective, the "whodunit" nature of the plot had me thrilled. The film is filled with hilarious scenes, plenty of slapstick comedy and even some friendly jokes Disney itself. In addition, adults can appreciate the film noir feel, as well as some clever pop culture references. I myself didn't even see the twist at the end coming. So much for my detective skills!

The message behind the movie is simple enough - believe in yourself and don't judge others by how they look. Zootopia delivers it so eloquently and in a sophistocated way without compromising all the fun. It was so refreshing to see a new take on the issues discussed and presented in such an entertaining way. My whole family loved it and could easily watch it again. Two paws up!

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Avengers 2 Movie Review by Hubby

Go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. That's what a savvy, cynical product review reader would expect to see here. Without sacrificing any journalistic integrity though, I can say that a great product doesn't rely on word of mouth. You don't need me to tell you to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you're reading this, you've probably already bought your tickets. Good for you. A movie this big doesn't need me or you and yet it feels like it was made for all of us because it is. Just. That. Big. This isn't your usual plot-driven movie review because Avengers: Age of Ultron isn't your usual plot-driven costumed caper. Also, I'm going to make this shorter than my last movie review.

They say that a hero is only as interesting as the villain they must face. Speaking of faces, any villain without a prominent nose reminds me of Voldemort from the Harry Potter franchise. Ultron, the titular villain in this Avengers movie sequel, doesn’t have a nose. He’s a robot so he doesn’t really need one. His creator, Iron Man, doesn’t have a nose either and this brings us back to the symbiotic link between heroes and villains. Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man was already an interesting character, with or without a nose, and long before any sequels came along. What Ultron provides is an “ultra” version of Iron Man, a funhouse mirror of only his best and worst traits. It makes you wonder if “ultra” versions of Captain America, Thor, or even Harry Potter could make those less nuanced characters more interesting.

Is Ultron a better villain than Voldemort, or Loki from the first Avengers movie? I’m almost tempted to say yes, but I admit that his rage is far less meaningful. He essentially boils down to fear (which I consider to be a truer opposite of love than hate). He has no love for anything, not even himself, as he tries to “evolve” the mirror image of his creator. What he does have over Voldemort or Loki is direct contact with more and newer characters, and that’s what sequels are really about (Wakanda!). The Quicksilver character in Age of Ultron may not provide the laughs that the Quicksilver in last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past did, but he (SPOILER ALERT) personally saves way more people. I'm just glad that Disney bought Marvel so that Ultron could sing Pinocchio's song from Stromboli's puppet show because every villain deserves good theme music.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mama Sparkles Holiday Gift Guide - Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved

Welcome to Mama Sparkles' Holiday Gift Guide! This week, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite gift ideas for everyone on your list. Be sure to check back often as I add more items.

If you're a Disney fan who likes rhythm/motion games, you need to play this:

This new innovative game for the Xbox One, allows players to enter the magical realm of Fantasia. The concept is loosely based on the original Fantasia short starring Mickey Mouse. The goal of the game is to match the on screen patterns with your hands and arms. It's brilliant. One or two players can play, and the game requires Kinect. Last weekend we went to Disneyland, and Bean couldn't wait to get to Innoventions so he could play the game. I think it's fast becoming one of his favorites:

He even had a few cast members commenting on what an awesome player he was! The eclectic song list includes a great mix of classical pieces as well as modern ones. The graphics are also gorgeous and add some great dimension to the game. It's so easy to just pick this one up and start playing immediately. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is available on Amazon. Is this on your wish list this year?

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Monday, December 15, 2014

A Disney Christmas (plus New Ways To See Disneyland)

I don't need to convince anyone how amazing Disneyland Resort is during the holidays. Here's what we did on our recent trip last weekend for Family Media Day:


Jingle Jangle Jamboree is bursting with holiday spirit! This is the place to go to see plenty of Disney characters, shows, crafts, a petting zoo, plus you can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus! The decorations are top notch, as usual.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade had our kids smiling the entire time. It really is spectacular to see so many Disney characters all at once. Santa is the highlight at the end, but this was delightful from start to finish.

Certain rides take on a holiday spin, with Haunted Mansion Holiday, Jingle Cruise and It's A Small World Holiday. Try and ride Small World Holiday at night because really, is there anything more beautiful than this?

YOU MIGHT MISS (If you're not looking)

And now, here a few things you might miss if you're not looking carefully. We're always looking for new things at Disneyland, and this time we tried to look at things from a different perspective.

We've all walked by Monstro, but have you ever noticed how cool the water reflection looks?

Get a good look at who's making your popcorn...by the way, Disneyland's popcorn is the best I've ever had. No joke.

While our son was busy playing video games at Innoventions, we noticed this eloquent quote on the wall.

How's this for natural beauty? Anybody know what kind of fruit that is?

A sea of Baymax balloons - not hard to spot, but too beautiful not to share.

Who knew that the beautiful Grand Californian Hotel also had a Santa in the lobby? Pinga was overjoyed to see him.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Special thanks to Disneyland Resort for giving us a magical day at the parks!

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Mama Sparkles Holiday Gift Guide - Disney Princess Hairstyle Books

Welcome to Mama Sparkles' Holiday Gift Guide! This week, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite gift ideas for everyone on your list. Be sure to check back often as I add more items.

It's so much fun having a little girl...but I have no idea what to do with her hair! Most of time it's just hanging in her face. I don't think this makes her very happy.

Let's try something different, shall we? I received these two books to review and to help me with my dilemma:

Disney Princess Hairstyles: 40 Amazing Princess Hairstyles with Step by Step Images and Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa are beautifully put together and offer clear, concise directions for creating gorgeous hairstyles. Classics like Cindrella's bun, Elsa's Frozen braid plus other favorites from Rapunzel, Snow White, Tiana, Belle, Pocohontas, Merida, Belle, Ariel, and Aurora are all represented here. There's also a helpful braiding tutorial at the beginning of each book:

All hairstyles are shown with a colorful, attractive backdrop on a real model so you can see what it's actually supposed to look like:

Okay, here's my attempt at doing hair for my princess. We went with Belle, since that's her favorite.

Not bad for a first attempt at doing hair, right?! There was quite a bit of squirming involved, but even so, I think she looks beautiful and definitely a lot happier. Both books are available on Amazon and make wonderful holiday gifts!

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