Time To Get Your “Ticket to Explore”

Image courtesy of JPL facebook page
Image courtesy of JPL facebook page

Today’s the day!!! I just reserved our tickets!!!

For the last few of years I’ve been telling you about the amazing once a year Open House at JPL. Due to the popularity of the event, the lines were so long a couple of years ago the policy to attend needed to be altered.

Last year JPL introduced  a new way to attend JPL’s Open House. “A Ticket to Explore JPL”.  This new ticketed system helps to assure that this one special weekend a year is a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

JPLopenhouse

The event is set to place on May 20 & 21, 2017. Tickets for this event are FREE, but limited. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and the maximum number of tickets per family is limited to five.

To enter JPL, you must have your ticket in hand and with a matching ID if you are 18 or older. Tickets are not transferrable.

Tickets will be available online on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 9 a.m. PDT on JPL’s Special Events web page where you can also find additional information: //www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/special-events.php

Mark your calender’s and be ready on March 11th. I tried last year but the site kept crashing. Hopefully the bugs are all worked out and I can get through this year to reserve a spot for my family.

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Butterfly Day

Let’s get ready for Spring with this fun and FREE community event.

Celebrate Butterflies on Saturday Morning, March 18, 2017 from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm.

“Butterfly Day Open House”  will be held at the Education Farm located at: 356 N. Lemon St. – Old Towne Orange, CA

There will be scavenger hunts, crafts, storytime, prizes, education, healthy snacks and more!

Butterfly Day
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Prepare To Get Your “Ticket to Explore”

Image courtesy of JPL facebook page
Image courtesy of JPL facebook page

For the last few of years I’ve been telling you about the amazing once a year Open House at JPL. Due to the popularity of the event, the lines were so long a couple of years ago the policy to attend needed to be altered.

Last year JPL introduced  a new way to attend JPL’s Open House. “A Ticket to Explore JPL”.  This new ticketed system helps to assure that this one special weekend a year is a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

JPLopenhouse

The event is set to place on May 20 & 21, 2017. Tickets for this event are FREE, but limited. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and the maximum number of tickets per family is limited to five.

To enter JPL, you must have your ticket in hand and with a matching ID if you are 18 or older. Tickets are not transferrable.

Tickets will be available online on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 9 a.m. PDT on JPL’s Special Events web page where you can also find additional information: //www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/special-events.php

Mark your calender’s and be ready on March 11th. I tried last year but the site kept crashing. Hopefully the bugs are all worked out and I can get through this year to reserve a spot for my family.

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Make Your Soul Happy!

Take the Time to do what makes the soul happy

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.

Xoxo,

Annette

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Insect Fair 2016

Insect Fair at the Bronco Student Center

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:

insects

  • 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.

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Museum Day Live!

museumdayliveMusuem 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.    

Where will your curiosity lead you on Museum Day Live!? Tag your visit on social media with @MuseumDay  #BoundlessCuriosity  #MuseumDayLive

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Great Park Spooktacular

OC-Great_halloween_ballon

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).

ProjectRefinedLife.com
ProjectRefinedLife.com

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:

  • Saturday, October 15, 2016 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 16, 2016 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 22, 2016 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 23, 2016 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Registration for Spooktacular Fun Days begins September 14, 2016 at noon.

The Great Park is located at Marine Way and Sand Canyon Irvine, CA 92618

Please note: Special event entrance for the Orange County Great Park is located off I-5 or I-405 at Sand Canyon on Trabuco Road/Great Park Boulevard in Irvine.

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Another Angel is called Home

MADD_logo

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.

Michael

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.

Baby Liam
Interview with tha parents of baby Liam.
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Cilantro Dip

Cilantro Dip
Cilantro Dip

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!

Veggies&CilantroDip

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.

Cilantro Dip
Cilantro Dip

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.

Cilantro Dip
Cilantro Dip

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.

 Here’s the recipe:

Cilantro Dip

Cilantro Dip

Cilantro Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice - Freshy Squeezed
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions

  1. Put Olive Oil and water in blender or food processor, add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  2. Enjoy!
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://projectrefinedlife.com/cilantro-dip/

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Free Kids Meal

Image Courtesy of Chipolte.com
Image Courtesy of Chipolte.com

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).

Photo courtesy of Chipolte.com
Photo courtesy of Chipolte.com

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

To find a location near you click here.

Offer must be redeemed simultaneously in a single visit and is subject to availability. Not valid for catering orders. May not be combined with other offers; additional restrictions may apply.

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BBQ at Tanaka Farms

Photo courtesy of Tanakafarms.com
Photo courtesy of Tanakafarms.com

Here’s some great FREE family fun this weekend! Come down and enjoy Tanaka Farms End of Summer Festival.

tanakawatermelon1

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.

tanakasign 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!

Photo courtesy of Tanakafarms.com
Photo courtesy of Tanakafarms.com

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!

Tanaka Farms U-Pick Tours
Tanaka Farms U-Pick Tours

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

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Roger’s Gardens Halloween Boutique

GrimmTales 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.

 Grimmtales5

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.

grimmtales7

GrimmTales2

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.

Grimmtales6

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.

GrimmTales1

GrimmTales3

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.

FarmhouseCafe

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
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Hikes & Bikes

hikesnBikesPRL

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.
  • For more events in Limestone Canyon,click here.


Online Registration

Date:  8/27/2016
Time:  6:00 AM – 8:00 AM
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.
  • Parking: $3 per vehicle.


Online Registration

Date:  8/27/2016
Time:  8:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Walk with a Naturalist – O’Neill Regional Park
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.
  • Fee: Free
  • Parking: $5 per vehicle

Event is conditional on the weather.

Date:  8/27/2016
Time:  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.
Date:  8/28/2016
Time:  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.
  • Parking: $3 per vehicle.


Online Registration

Date:  8/28/2016
Time:  8:00 AM – 10:30 AM
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Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service

Image courtesy of nps.gov
Image courtesy of nps.gov

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.

ProjectRefinedLife.com
ProjectRefinedLife.com

Our National Park Service is encouraging everyone to #FindYourPark and attend one of the special events they have planned.

ProjectRefinedLife.com
ProjectRefinedLife.com

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.

ProjectRefinedLife.com
ProjectRefinedLife.com

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.

JR-Centen-Wood

In addition to their special centennial programs offered through out the country this weekend, the NPS offers their Junior Ranger Program everyday as well as  the special Girl Scout Ranger Program and the Scout Ranger Program for Boy Scouts.

nps-gs-ranger-patch

If you have other plans this weekend – break them and go FindYourPark  (EncuentraTuParque).

ProjectRefinedLife.com
ProjectRefinedLife.com

Don’t forget if you have a 4th grader – your entire family gets into the park for free for a full year with the Every Kid in a Park program.

Every Kid in a Park

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Pokémon Go Hike

Image courtesy of pokemongo.com
Image courtesy of pokemongo.com

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! 

whiting ranch

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
  • Cost: FREE – parking fees will apply.

Visit Letsgooutside.org to register

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