Saturday, July 23, 2016

#3DSKidforaDay at the Nintendo Gaming Lounge

San Diego Comic-Con gets crazier every year, with bigger displays, more people and a myriad of outside events for the whole family. But the highlight for my kids is definitely visiting the Nintendo Gaming Lounge!

After a full day of experiencing as much of Comic-Con as we could handle, the kids finally had a chance to experience the Play Nintendo Tour through a special sneak peak of the new Nintendo 3DS XL.

We were treated to a much needed, delicious pizza dinner and then headed off to the lounge to play some games!

Beloved classic games like Super Mario were a big hit - just look at that face!

Bean was selected to take part in a super fun tournament for a chance to win prizes.

The lounge was decorated with awesome displays. Bean loved the giant Kirby and Pokemon ball. Luigi himself even made an appearance!

Pinga discovered a new (to her) show and game called Yo-Kai Watch. She spent a good part of the evening chilling and watching the show. Both kids are now kinda obsessed. I have to say that the physical watch that you can buy in stores sounds pretty cool!

She also found a girlie game that she loved called Style Savvy: Fashion Forward, which is launching on August 19th. How cute is this setup with the vanity?!

You can experience all the fun of the Nintendo lounge too, for one more day. Come on Sunday, July 24th to the Marriott Marquis Marina hotel and experience the fun from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Happy gaming!

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Friday, July 1, 2016

In Theaters Now - The BFG

As a child, my absolute favorite author was Roald Dahl. I pored over his books, and read every title multiple times. His way of storytelling fascinated me and I strived (and still do!) to write books that would leave a touch of magic and a sprinkle of inspiration in every reader's mind.

Out of all the books I read, the one I loved best of all was The BFG. It had everything - ghastly giants, a poor orphan, the Queen of England, dream blowing, and of course, the Big Friendly Giant. Everything about it was perfect, and so I was curious to see how it would translate to the big screen.

I was not disappointed. Steven Spielberg directs this imaginative story of young Sophie and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. The BFG, while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. The film captures the otherworldly feel of the book spectacularly, and with some pretty awesome special effects. I loved Sophie's spunk, and the gentle BFG with the great sense of humor. The dream catching sequences were absolutely gorgeous and the man-eating giants downright terrifying. The final scenes with the Queen of England are endearing and brought back all the feelings I had as a child reading the book.

A captivating movie with a whirlwind of emotions, both kids and adults will love it!

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Put Me in the Story - Plus Win a Trip to the San Diego Zoo!

We feel lucky to live in San Diego - perfect weather, plenty of family fun activities, plus awesome attractions like the San Diego Zoo! What's even more awesome is that Put Me in the Story and National Geographic Kids personalized books are celebrating San Diego Zoo's 100th Anniversary The Little Explorer Drawing Contest. If you've ever wanted to visit this world famous zoo, now's your chance! This is us at the zoo, only because it's one of my favorite pictures. Yes, that is an elephant in the background.

And here are the rules!

To Enter: Adults 18+ can fill out the form on the contest page to enter. Plus download a free coloring page on the contest page. For extra contest entries, share a photo of your child’s drawing on their coloring page with the hashtag #ColorAndExplore or by uploading the drawing directly to the contest page. The contest runs until July 8th, 2016.

1 GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive:
· Family vacation to San Diego to visit the San Diego Zoo for their 100th Anniversary!
4-days/3-nights for a family of 4! Includes flights, hotel, & zoo admission.
· National Geographic Little Kids Book of Animals and National Geographic Little Kids Book of Dinosaurs personalized books

2 RUNNER-UP WINNERS will receive:
· National Geographic Little Kids Book of Animals and National Geographic Little Kids Book of Dinosaurs personalized books
· 1-year subscriptions to National Geographic Kids magazine and National Geographic Magazine.

So, you know how it sometimes seems like the first child in the family gets everything, and then the second one kinda gets the leftovers? Not that I would know anything about that. But, since Bean already had a really cool personalized book with his name all over it, I was excited to finally get one for Pinga too! I decided to get her the National Geographic Little Kids Book of Animals.

We haven't gotten it in the mail yet, but she is going to love it! She actually reads Bean's all the time and loves searching for his name so it's only fair that she gets her own book! There is also a dinosaur themed book, and both books come in paperback or hardcover. They are also super easy to personalize and include all sorts of fun facts, trivia, and pretty pictures. I was able to include a personal message and add a picture as well. This book will definitely be treasured always!

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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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