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.
I know it’s late tonight but are you looking for something for the kids to do tomorrow? Why not send them to VBS for a couple of days. Calvary Church in Santa Ana offers FREE Vacation Bible School for kids through Friday, July 29, 2016 and they would love it if you brought your kids. This years theme is “The Cave”. (I love the theme this year).
They are always happy to accept kids, even if it’s just for a day! These are some of the things I LOVE about this VBS:
They never turn a child away
They help local children without transportation get to and from VBS
They are very organized and loving with the children
They teach children about giving back
Every morning starts out by meeting in the main church, there’s a group of people who get the kids ready for their high energy day, with by games,, skits, singing, and praying together then the kids head to their classes where they have a bible based curriculum and then circulate in the campus and do crafts, play games, have a snack and then meet back up in the main church and end their day by another entertaining skit, singing and praying together. It feels like a rock concert in there and the kids love it!
Children are encouraged to give back by contributing through the “Penny Project”. The kids bring in their “pennies” to fund a project to benefit the work of a missionary family. The kids will learn all about this family and what their pennies will help build or provide.
VBS not only helps our children discover and grow closer to Christ, they also make friends and have memories and values to last a lifetime.
If you want to bring the kids tomorrow just show up at Calvary Church located at 1010 N Tustin Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705, between 4th St. & Irvine Blvd.
The program begins at 9:00 am and is over at 12:30 pm and runs through Friday. You can show up around 8:30 -8:45 within a few minutes they’ll be signed up, assigned to a crew and ready to go! You can feel self assured in leaving your kids as everyone that is serving on the volunteer team has been full background screened.
They are looking forward to see your kids there tomorrow!
Big Sur is one of the “must-see places” in America and located on one of the most iconic road trips in our Country, Highway 1, a designated American National Scenic Byway. With approximately 85 curvy miles between San Simeon and Carmel, this stretch of highway hosts breath-taking views of both the mountains and the coast.
You could definitely stay in the car and drive through Highway 1 and be awestruck by its beauty (I’ve done that) or you could spend some time there and enjoy it to the fullest. Big Sur has plenty to do for the outdoor enthusiast. From hiking, to waterfalls, to the purple sandy beaches – Big Sur is amazing!
You can spend the day to discover Big Sur by stopping along the highway and visit places like Mc Way Falls, Pfeiffer Beach and the Bixby Creek Bridge. We wanted to go on some hikes, see the redwoods and feel the purple sand of the beaches in Big Sur.
We decided to camp in Big Sur and made our base at the Fernwood Resort. To make reservations you simply call them, that’s right – no internet reservations here. The friendly staff at Fernwood Resort, answers the phones (crazy right?) checks the dates your interested in and lets you know what’s available. Take note – campsites fill up quick as most of the campers I talked to while we were there book their camping spots a year in advance.
Highway 1 is filled with gorgeous resorts, inns and camping spots along the way. The Fernwood Resort came as a recommendation to us and I’m glad we stayed here. We were fortunate enough to scoop up a couple of cancellations for our trip.
One the first night, we stayed at camp site #63 – This campsite is located along the river on the other side of the bridge after entering the campsite. My first thought upon pulling up to our campsite was that the space was small, beautiful but small. We got out, set up camp and realized there was plenty of space.
As it turns out your campsite goes all the way down to the river, you can actually set up your tent near the river (just be careful if rain is in the forecast). Each campsite comes with a picnic table and a fire ring. All of the campsites along the river surprisingly have electricity and water and most importantly easy access to the river. You fall to sleep to the gentle sound of the river.
The campsites located on the opposite side are set among the Redwood Trees but do not have electricity and water. The restrooms, free showers, a dishwashing area (with hot water) and a coin operated laundry area are all conveniently located to all of the campsites.
As for our second night we moved to “primitive” Tent Cabin # 8 – which means a cabin with no electricity or bathroom. The Tent Cabins sleep 4 are also located along the river, have a picnic table and fire rings.
The Tent Cabins do offer a little more privacy as they sit between the Redwood trees. Our girls loved playing inside the cabin while my husband and I prepared meals and sat around the campfire with the sound of the river below us.
There are trails that leads down to the river from the tent cabin sites, my girls had a blast playing in the river.
The restrooms were a short walk from the Tent Cabins as well as private coin operated showers rooms. The downside for me was that the dishwashing station was located on the other side of the camp near the tent camping sites.
Fernwood Resort also offers Adventure Tents (a Tent Cabin with electricty, a bed, night stand, lights and bedding), a Motor Lodge, Fully Furnished Cabins with bathrooms and kitchens, RV sites and group camping spots. If you arrive here and realize you forgot something, don’t worry – they’ve got you covered.
There is a very fully stocked market (which includes vegan and vegetarian options), a very fully stocked camping supply store, a restaurant with an outside patio with heaters and a ping pong table, an Ice Cream shop (that serves very healthy servings) and live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.
A couple of things to consider – if were a camper, the camp sites are a little higher then your usually campsites (still far less than a motel room) and you can only get Wi-Fi service in the store/restaurant area, so be prepared to unplug during your stay.
Both Pfeiffer Beach and Andrew Molera State Beach are located within 5-10 minutes from Fernwood Resort. Staying here gave us the the perfect opprtunity to explore Big Sur, see the Redwoods, play in the oceans purple sand, play in the river, relax by a campfire and of course – make s’mores! How perfect is that!
Fernwood Resort has a gorgeous walking trail (great for the littles) a hiking trail and also happens to be home to one of the very rare “Albino” Redwood.
I highly recommend Fernwood Resort, no matter what level of adventure your at. If your looking to stay in a room, relax in a cabin or rough it in a campsite, they have something for you. You can’t go wrong staying here while you while you discover this beautiful area of California.
It’s time to thank our Orange County zookeepers for all their hard work caring for our zoo animals!
Kids activities include making thank you cards for our zookeepers, crafts, playing games, and a special scavenger hunt where you can enter to win a Zookeeper Shadow Experience!
Kids are encouraged to come dressed in zookeeper attire/costume!
The first 100 children ages 12 & under will receive a free train ride ticket for Irvine Park Railroad!
Zookeepers will be giving “keeper chats” throughout the day and giving out special treats and toys to the zoo animals.
Special talk on “So You Want To Be A Zookeeper” will be given by two of our zookeepers at 10:30 a.m. Visitors can learn what a zookeeper’s day is like, see some of the “tools of the trade” and meet some zoo animals up close! Reservations are not needed.
When: Saturday, July 23, 2016
Where: OC Zoo located inside Irvine Regional Park, 1 Irvine Park Rd, Orange, CA 92869
Cost: $2.00 per person, ages 2 & under are free, parking is $5 per vehicle