Hello there, do you remember me? I’m still here but I have been on an extended “time out” from my blog. I decided to take some time to see what the next step in my life (and this blog) would bring in order continue to “refine” my life. It had become very obvious to me that I was out of balance. I needed to take the time to make my soul happy.
I was blogging about events to come and not sharing what was helping to “refine” my life. After all – I am the project. Although I love passing along fun, family friendly, cost effective educational nature & STEM based events. I knew that my purpose with this blog was about more then that. I had strayed away from my initial passion of what I wanted to share when I started this blog.
I have started learning new things and brought a few old things back into my life that attribute to a more balanced life. I feel so much better taking some time for me. By once again feeding my mind, body & soul – I feel refreshed and excited and yes, sometimes scared all at the same time. This journey has become a new awaking for me and a very natural next step.
I will continue to blog but with more purpose and more balance. From time to time I will continue to share upcoming events that are rooted in things that inspire you and/or your children’s growth as a person. I will also share some of my personal and family adventures. My family I have visited some really beautiful spots this past year and I have so much to share. I hope you will continue to come along with me as I continue on this project of refining my life and hopefully shed some light on yours.
Put this on your calender now! Come see over 500,000 live and preserved exotic insects from around the world at the Cal Poly Insect Fair Insect Fair at the AGRIscapes Visitor Center (next to the Farm Store).
Have you ever touched a millipede or a Madagascar Hissing cockroach with your bare hand? Well you can at the Insect Fair. Learn how insects impact our lives and how you can make a career as an insect expert.
Some of the insects on display include:
Vibrant moths and butterflies from around the world.
Beautiful cicadas from Asia . . . many having unique wing patterns and colors. These insects are the loudest on the planet!
A colorful array of exotic grasshoppers and katydids. Many displayed to show patterned underwings.
Beetles! These are the largest, most diverse group of insects. Make sure to look closely because many displayed are small but full of color, texture, and unique patterns.
***This event is a perfect for opportunity for Girl Scout Brownies to complete several steps of their Bug Badge***
When: October 8, 2016 and October 9, 2016 from 9am to 5 pm
Where: Cal Poly Pomona, The AGRIscapes Visitor Center – next to the Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch , 4102 S. University Drive., Pomona, CA 91768 (Located just south of Temple Ave.)
Cost: Admission is $3 for adults; $2 for students and children 2-12, FREE for kids under 2.
Musuem Day Live! is an annual celebration of free admission to over 1,100 museum and cultural institutions nationwide. This fantastic event is hosted by Smithsonian magazine. provide entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket.
The Museum Day Live! ticket provides free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket on September 24, 2016. Each ticket provides admission for two people, per email address. My husband and I will both be signing up in order to get our family of four in.
STEP 1: To find a participating museum, click here.
It’s time to register for The Great Park’s Spooktacular Fun Days! Get your costume’s ready and enjoy fall activities for the kids of all ages. This FREE event not only provides your family a day of fun but also helps support our Orange County Food Banks.
Donate to scare away hunger by simply bringing a bag of canned goods or non-perishable food and each child 12 and younger will gain access to the Pumpkin Patch or Trick or Treat Town (while supplies last).
Enjoy traditional family-friendly fall activities including: kids crafts, petting zoo, carnival games, Harvest Walk, entertainment, gourmet food trucks and much more.
In order to take part in this spooktacular day of fun you must sign up. Registration is required for each child (12 & under); space is limited. Free admission and parking.
Activities are for children 12 & under, therefore accompanying adult ticket registration is not required. Event date options include:
Another angel was called home. The very sad death of Baby Liam has hopefully brought some attention to result of drinking and driving. Baby Liam was in his stroller and was hit by a drunk driver. The parents came to terms with taking him off life support on Tuesday. Earlier today – one of my family members posted Baby Liams parnets interview on Facebook. I knew immediately that although I wanted to listen to these parents, it had to be done later in the day. At a time when I would be allowed some free time, a moment that I could be left alone to cry.
As a parent you never get over the loss your child. The hurt, the pain and the yearning that exists every single day never goes away. Every single memory brings both extreme joy and pain. I find myself constantly trying to keep the memory of my son very much alive. I never let those around me forget that I have a son in haven.
Watching this interview, made me cry and then I became upset. Upset that so many people feel it’s okay to drink and drive. In the interview the father of baby Liam said ” if you can afford to drink, you can afford to get an Uber. I couldn’t have said that better myself.
I get beyond upset when I hear of someone who is out drinking and wasn’t considerate enough to have a designated driver or to call a friend or Uber for a ride. It really isn’t any of my business if you don’t care about your life but it becomes my business when you put someone else’s life at risk. At that point, it’s everyone’s business.
I grieve for these parents; as they are sitting there being interviewed, sitting there being brave in an effort to reach someone…anyone that will listen. I knew what they were thinking before the father said it “if I can reach just one person”,
So here I go again – If you have children, take just one minute to imagine what it would feel like to be to told your child is gone. Not because they don’t want to talk to you or they are mad at you but because they are no longer alive. Their precious life, removed, gone because you selfishly decided that you having a drink and getting behind the wheel is more important than the well-being of anyone else’s life.
This blog was started as a way of me reaching out to people and to come out of the shell that I had built around myself. Why – because my son and his best friend (both just 17 years old) were killed – murdered by a drunk driver. It made me want to hide, It made me pull back out of life.
It’s been 11 years for my oldest Son and I lost Michael. We are still trying to pick up the pieces of our life. You see, like Baby Liam and most other victims of drunk drivers – my son was healthy and strong. He wasn’t sick, there was absolutely nothing wrong. He had dreams, hopes and ambitions but someone decided none of those things mattered.
I am angry right now. I am angry for these parents who have been dealt a lifetime sentence of “what if’s. A lifetime of looking around at holidays and family gatherings and thinking “he’s not here”.
For these parents and the people around them, I pray. I pray for strength and the ability to be weak. I pray that they don’t feel horrible when they smile or breakdown and cry because of a song. I pray that their family and friends remain close to them and the yet allow them space. I pray for forgiveness and grace not for the drunk driver but for each other. I pray for the friends and family of these parents. You see – you will need to understand that there will be times when they get angry and that needs to be okay. There will times, days, hours that they will want to hide and not be around other people, that needs to be okay. Please give them grace and grant forgiveness and remember that breathing is hard most days.
I am still working on “refining” my life. Every event, every moment, every trip, every healthy meal….it all comes down to getting through what has become a my lifetime project. Please watch this video. See the hurt, feel their pain – don’t disconnect! It’s uncomfortable and painful and it should be. Take it in and feel it for a just a moment. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and help save a life. Just one life! If you don’t drink and drive, my sincere “Thank You” but now if you can please stop someone else who does. Take a stand before another angel is called to haven.
On our recent visit to Tanaka Farms, we sampled some of their fresh organic veggies along with a Cilantro dip. I didn’t think I was hungry but couldn’t pass up tasting the vibrant veggies and dip. The freshness of the veggies along with the crisp taste of the dip turned out to be an amazing little snack!
I asked for the recipe right there and then. I picked up a very healthy bunch of cilantro and a couple of beautiful lemons from the farm so I could go home and and make this delicious dip for my family.
This healthy dip (or sauce) is so easy to make and can be used as base for you to add to and experiment with. The dip can easily be used over tofu, chicken, fish, veggies, rice, roasted potatoes, etc. I changed the original recipe just a bit. We enjoyed the dip with some tortilla chips and freshly sliced cucumbers. We finished up the remaining dip the following day with some crackers and cheese.
In the future I plan on adding some red pepper flakes to spice it up. The original recipe was heavenly but I love to change recipes up to make them my own. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
When your out and about it’s hard to find healthy meals – especially for kids. The choices always come down to a very processed chicken nugget or a burger. I forget that Chipotle offers healthy, quick, cost effective meals for the entire family.
Since I’m always looking for good deals – this FREEBIE from Chipolte will help remind me to visit Chipotle when we’re on the go (and maybe some Sunday’s when I just don’t want to cook).
Every Sunday in September, kids can eat for FREE with the purchase of a burrito, bowl, order of tacos, or salad. The Free kid’s meal offer is valid only for kids 12 and under through the month of September
Here’s some great FREE family fun this weekend! Come down and enjoy Tanaka Farms End of Summer Festival.
Today, Saturday, 9/3 and tomorrow, Sunday, 9/4 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm., enjoy samples of sweet watermelons, grilled farm veggies, start a seedling at the planting station, free ATV rides for younger guests, and other fun activities for kids.
Also, Chef Joni Newman will be holding a FREE cooking demo at 11:00 each day. She is making Watermelon Poke and there will be samples to try!
The Tanaka Farms Food Shack will be grilling up some juicy baby back ribs, corn, and hot dogs in addition to their La Taqueria menu – carne asada and carnitas tacos, nachos, and tamales. Don’t forget Strawberry Lemonade and Strawberries and Ice Cream…YUM!
Melon Tours and U-Pick Tours will be running at the follow times:
Melon Tour times this weekend are: 9;30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30 and the price is $18 per person (2 and under free). No reservations needed – arrive 15 minutes before tour time.
U-Pick Tour times are: 10:00, 11:00, and 12:00. This is a free wagon ride – just pay for what you pick. No reservations needed – arrive 15 minutes before tour time.
Also – get a sneak peek into the acres of pumpkins that are growing for the upcoming Pumpkin Patch! Please note that Tanaka Farms will be CLOSED on Monday, Sept. 5th for the holiday, so get out there today or tomorrow and enjoy the farm!
Tanaka Farms is located at 5380 University Dr, Irvine, CA 92612
Halloween Boutique??? Yep, it’s time! For me the sure sign that Fall is on it’s way is visiting Rodger’s Gardens Halloween Boutique. This year the theme is “Grimm Tales” and it opens today, Friday, September 2, 2016.
My family and I have made a tradition of visiting this spectacular showcase. Each year, we look forward to the new theme and new chilling features each room holds.
I love gathering inspiration for our home with the works of artists like: Joyce Stahl, Vergie Lightfoot and Nicol Sayer. These decorations go way beyond Pumpkins and gourds. These are pieces of art and are simply amazing.
The Grimm Tales theme takes you through forested rooms that display a completely new spin on classics like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel & Gretel.
While your visiting Roger’s Gardens be sure to stop by the brand new restaurant Farmhouse Cafe Who wouldn’t want to eat here? The garden is beautiful and the restaurant supports an open feeling with all the charm that exists within the garden.
Halloween Boutique Date/Time
When: Open daily from 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Where: Roger’s Gardens 2301 San Joaquin Hills Rd., Corona del Mar, CA 92625
If for some reason you can’t make it out to visit one of our National Parks this weekend to celebrate our National Park’s 100th birthday, here’s a few local hikes and a intermediate bike ride you can take part in.
These guided hikes and the bike ride are all courtesy of our Orange County Parks and are all FREE – just cover the parking!
Saturday, August 27, 2106
Intermediate Bike Ride: Shoestring Canyon, Loma Ridge, to the Back Side of The Sinks – Irvine Ranch Open Space
Join a strenuous, extremely challenging early morning mountain bike ride through Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. Riders will visit the East Sinks Viewing Deck and gain beautiful vistas of Agua Chinon Canyon and beyond.
Pre-registration is required.
Driving directions will be provided after registration.
Laurel Loop Geology Hike – Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Enjoy an afternoon of unspoiled canyon views and learn about the geology of this area. The rocks and fossils reveal fascinating stories about the park’s ancient environments. This will be a 3.5-mile hike over steep and uneven terrain (600-ft. elevation gain).
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Willow Canyon Staging Area (20101 Laguna Canyon Rd, just south of El Toro Rd intersection).
For questions, call (949) 497-8324 Mon-Fri & (949) 923-2235 Sat/Sun.
Join O’Neill Regional Park naturalists and learn about the animals and nature of Trabuco Canyon. This will be a light to moderate walk on mostly paved roads.
All ages welcome.
Parking: $5 per vehicle
Event is conditional on the weather.
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Guided Nature Hike – Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park
Join the Park Ranger for a one mile nature hike in the beautiful Bell Canyon area of Caspers Wilderness Park. Hike lasts approximately one hour and is suitable for all ages.
Contact park office for hike updates.
Parking: $5 per vehicle (day use fee).
Meet at the Old Corral Day Use Area.
8:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Bird Walk – Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Spot year-round and summer resident birds with Laguna Canyon Foundation volunteer naturalists on this 2-mile hike over uneven, sometimes steep terrain (up to 200-ft. elevation gain) through one of the most diverse plant communities in the United States.
For ages 12 and up (minors must be accompanied by an adult).
Wear hiking or walking shoes and bring your binoculars. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Willow Canyon Staging Area (west side of Laguna Canyon Rd/SR-133, just south of El Toro Road).
For questions, call (949) 497-8324 Mon-Fri & (949) 923-2235 Sat/Sun.
Today marks the 100th birthday of our National Park Service and they are inviting everyone to celebrate with special events and FREE admission to all of the 412 National Parks from today through Sunday, August 28th.
Our National Park Service is encouraging everyone to #FindYourPark and attend one of the special events they have planned.
We’ve been pretty busy this summer with our summer exploring trips. We’ve visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon as well as two trips to Yosemite. One of which included camping inside Yosemite National Park. The parks are all surrounded with beauty and wonder at every turn.
In Yosemite, we were able to go to sleep to the sound of Yosemite Falls in the background and wake up to look up at Half Dome. There is always so much to see and do in our National Parks and never enough time to finish exploring.
Here’s a fun hike for all you gamers out there! Get your game on at this upcoming Pokémon Go Hike. This 4 mile hike in Whiting Ranch does require reservations and there are still a few spots available, so act quick!
Come mingle with other like-minded gamers while you explore the great outdoors. Join us at the active Poké Stops at the Whiting Ranch trailhead with three Poké Stops waiting for you. Arrive early to grab an egg from the Poké Stops or join us with one from a previous stop.
As you incubate your egg, venture out and see Mother Nature’s own version of Beedrill, Rattata, Spearow, Ekans and the elusive Persian. Along the way, learn which plant Pikachu would have used to name the city of Hollywood, and the plant that Muk would use to cover up his obnoxious odor. Keep an eye out for poison oak and hear about nature’s remedy should you get tangled up in it during your search for Ditto, the most powerful Pokémon.
Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality game that allows iOS and Android users to locate, capture, train and battle virtual creatures known as Pokémon. Come with the Pokémon app downloaded on your smart phone and at least one or two Pokémon finds. And definitely have your smart phone charged up to the max..
When: Sunday, August 21, 2016 from 9:00 am – 11:30 am
Where: Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park – Borrego Parking Area
Have you ever wanted to build and launch a rocket? Come to LA’s only rocket festival at Columbia Memorial Space Center for Rocket Fever 2016! Experience a full day of great science activities, awesome food trucks, incredible demonstrations, prizes, and of course, rocket launches.
Build and decorate a rocket of your very own, then get ready to see it launch into the air. See others launch their own custom rockets* into the air, or take a look at some of the larger rockets created by hobbyists!
Whether you are new to the hobby or a veteran rocketeer, the Columbia Memorial Space Center welcomes you for a fun filled day of rocketing. *Due to safety reasons, Only rockets with A and B motors are allowed.
When: Saturday, August 20, 2016
Where: Columbia Memorial Space Center, 12400 Columbia Way Downey, California 90242
Cost: FREE (Small fee may apply for separate activities)
How to built your own Rocket?
Step 1: Get a rocket: Bring your own rocket from home. Model rocket kits can be purchased at most hobby stores or online and are available for all skill levels.
Step 2: Buy a rocket motor: Individual rocket motors will be sold by the Southern California Rocketry Association (SCRA) on the day of the event only. Size A and Size B motors are the only motors accepted.
Step 3: Pass inspection: Pick up your “Rocket Inspection Pass” and head over to the Rocket Inspection Station along the outside of the baseball diamond. All rockets must pass inspection before flying. All launches are weather permitting.
We’ve been pretty busy this summer with weekend getaways, camping trips, hiking, exploring National Parks and our beautiful California Coastline. This weekend we choose to take an urban adventure to explore some food, some fun and some culture!
Our weekend included visits to The Natural History Museum, Grand Central Market, Clifton’s Cafeteria, a Farmers Market and Universal Studios but for me, the highlight was our visit to The Last Bookstore.
It’s been awhile since I’ve visited Downtown L,A., I was pleasantly surprised to see so many changes. The area is being transformed with lofts, restaurants, art studios, Grand Park, a Sunday Morning Farmers Market, the U.S. Bank Glass Slide and The Last Bookstore. It has a fun and cool vibe with much to discover.
The Last Bookstore sits in the heart of Downtown and is the world’s largest independent bookstore! It was stated in 2005 by Josh Spencer. Josh originally opened the bookstore down the street from it’s current location in a space just over 900 sq. feet.
The Last bookstore now resides in 22,000 sq. foot space within the Spring Arts Tower located at the corner of 5th & Spring St., within walking distance to Grand Central Market.
The last bookstore has managed to thrive in age of e-books and online book sales.It is regularly featured in travel guides, magazines and television.
First, the Spring Arts Tower is gorgeous! The building holds beautiful columns, detailed high ceilings and beautiful bank vaults. The architecture of this building is something that just can’t be found in the buildings of today. Stepping inside, you know immediately this is not your typical bookstore!
You would expect to find new books, gently used books, rare and hard to find books at a place this size but you’ll find more than that here.
Art is tucked into corners, on side tables on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Even the lighting is art. The bookstore also hosts a vintage comics book, vintage records, the Spring Arts Collective Gallery, a Yarn Shop and the famous Labyrinth upstairs!
In addition to their amazing assortment of books, they have a great children’s section. special book rooms made in the bank vaults. a stage, comfy sofa’s and chairs, a full schedule of events and workshops.
My girls had a great time discovering vintage books, reading time on the coach and walking through the store.
There was a kids writing workshop taking place while we were visiting. I love seeing the community involved and taking part in their independent bookstore events.
What was even more amazing was finding out a little bit about the owner, Josh Spencer. Josh has an outstanding view on life. In 1986 Josh suffered through a moped accident that changed his life forever. He has an amazing story of strength and the power to over come what life throws at you.
This FREE monthly event, sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Orange County Fire Department, M.A.D.D., and AAA, helps women and girls learn basic car maintenance in a fun environment.
A few months back, my family, a few of my Girl Scouts and their Moms attended and had a fantastic time. You walk into an immaculate garage that has been set up with 12 hands-on participation stations. Before you get started you are given a necklace to help you keep track of each station.
Each station is taught by a team member of Mission Viejo Transmission that is dedicated to teaching you how perform basic vehicle checks.
You’ll learn basics from knowing how to read the warning lights on your dash board, to checking the oil and tire pressure to changing a tire.
The garage is not only immaculate but it’s transformed into a place of celebration with a live band, state of the art lighting & sound, catered food, beverages, and cocktails. Make sure to check out their amazing 4 coat epoxy floor.
Make an evening of it – bring your family, invite your friends and tell your neighbors.This is a great service to the community – it’s fun, informative and FREE!
When: The First Wednesday of every month from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
Where: Mission Viejo Transmission is located at 27210 La Paz Rd, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Cost: FREE – Reservations are not required however if your taking a group please call and let them know in advance.
Every year, Ruby’s Diner celebrates their founder, Ruby Cavanaugh’s birthday with a special burger & Fries deal – Today, Wednesday, July 27th, is Ruby’s Birthday and time to celebrate!
From 11:30 am to closing they are offering Cheeseburgers and fries for just $2.99! Not only can you get a great meal but you can also give back to your community, $1 from each purchase will go to support the Ruby Dooby Foundation which benefits children’s charities.
The original Ruby’s Diner opened in 1982 on Balboa Pier, There are now 35 Ruby’s with more opening soon. My family and I know really enjoy going to Ruby’s diner and love their shakes. In addition to their great burgers and shakes – I recommend their veggie burgers, Ahi Tuna Burgers and Fried Calamari, just to name a few. We can always count on Ruby’s a for a good meal (and dessert) in a family friendly environment.