THE SUPER COOKIE BOWL

The Super Bowl’s over, the puppies and kitties fell asleep in their bowls. Now it’s time to quiet the trash talk, restore familial relations and dive into the most delicious head-to-head competition – The Cookie Bowl! This match brings together a historic franchise against first-year rookies: Girl Scout Thin Mint (GSTM) cookies and Oreo Thins Mint Creme (OTMC)!

Thin Mints fans offer robust sentimental flavor, history, and loyalty. Every year, since 1951, fans line up to celebrate Thin Mints sale season opening day. If rationed properly, they just tossed the last box tucked deep in their freezer from the previous year. If not, true fans wait patiently because the cookies’ scarcity increases its fans’ fervor! Also – no reasonable substitute existed until now.

Oreo, although a 104 year-old brand, developed a thinner cookie with new flavors last year in 2015. Some missed their mark but mint cream hit the bullseye. Though a younger cookie, they came to compete. Change makes some people uncomfortable. How will this translate to their performance today?

TASTE
GSTM – Flavorwise, or as a result of years of conditioning, this mint flavor seems most authentic surrounding the chocolatey tasting cookie.
OTMC – The outside Oreo cookie sandwiches a sweeter mint creme center.

TEXTURE
GSTM – Smooth stiffer chocolate mint surrounds crumbly wafer.
OTMC – Feels like an inside out GSTM with the thin crispy exterior but a soft, smooth center.

VALUE
GSTM – The boxes cost $5 but the sleeves shrank in the last few years
OTMC – The boxes cost $2.50 but their boxes shrank a bit too, from what I recall. However since more of these cookies fit, compared to standard or larger ones, per box, the value feels satisfactory.

True, other chocolate mint cookies exist, though not in the same league. Our three-thumb review actually favors the Oreo Thins Mint Creme on flavor, texture and value!

IMG_0719

Still, when Girl Scout cookie sales are on (like right now!) my sentinental flavor fave remains: Thin Mints. However, now the rest of the year won’t be so bleak.

What cookies should be in the Cookie Bowl next year? Please nominate your favorite brands or copycat recipes to compete for the title. 

For more ThreeThumbReviews, follow me on yelp (click above)!

WORK FIELD TRIP: Ran off to the circus!

Julia Cameron calls this an Artist Date, I prefer Work Field Trip.  

IMG_8830

I’ve already mentioned how the invitation to attend the Premiere Event for Cavalia’s Odysseo in Irvine this weekend already fulfilled my dreams!  This show, and this assignment, took me on a creative journey magically stirring something awake in my soul. When I received another invitation to attend press preview day, I immediately accepted this gift.

IMG_8700

As with many favorite childhood trips, my experience started from the freeway once I spotted the flags atop the tent.  The idea that the largest touring show in the world sat on land where nothing existed a week before astounded me.

FullSizeRender (3)

I mingled with other bloggers, press, and VIP guests. Though many were there for an assignment, most bubbled over with passion for horses, music or art.  

2-5-16 blog gear

Hah! My gear vs. their gear – I need an upgrade!

The show itself was more spectacular and high-energy than expected. The beauty of the show overwhelmed me and invigorated all of my senses.  Each act flowed into the next gracefully – even the 18-ton merry-go-round!.

IMG_8736

Even more amazing, we received behind-the-scenes access from Odysseo’s Founder, Normand Latourelle.

IMG_8657

Odysseo’s Creator: Odyssey = Journey with O = “eau” (water) at the end of the journey

He explained that computers traditionally direct musical cues for a show of this caliber. Because this show features live animals with individual temperaments, this show’s cues come from a live director. With the timing of so many seemingly death-defying acts, timing was crucial.

Image

The live music added a delicate veil of beauty to our experience.

1-25-16 Odysseo stand up excited 1 wk left

Conversations with performers brave enough to leap from their career paths to follow their passion truly inspired me.  One performer studied marine biology before attending circus school, another hoped to earn money while studying for the Bar exam. Some turned their professional riding into performance careers.

IMG_8788

Most people I know dreamed of joining the circus at least once in their lives. The nomadic family lifestyle mixed with the artistic beauty and danger of a circus mystify and entrance us.  

IMG_8790

WTF: Way too fast – can’t wait to see the full-length show!

Normand pointed out what I feel represents the true beauty of the show:  With the many different breeds and cultures represented here, everyone gets along. They believe that peace is best for a beautiful show. It’s been thrilling spending my hours on a “job” submersed in such creativity and such beauty.

 

IMG_8649

Lea Riviere Mixed Media on Canvas

 

SET SAIL FOR THE LA BOAT SHOW!

Close your eyes, imagine yourself at the helm, captaining your ship. Wind blowing your hair, sun warming your face with the course set for the horizon!  For once, I’m not speaking hypothetically, I’m talking about real boats!  What’d your boat look like? A sailboat, a motorboat? A yacht with champagne?

Boating whisks us away, instantly freeing us from our land-dwelling ways, promising adventure, relaxation, nature, and romance. This form of travel rebuffs the usual constraint of staying within the lines and muffles the visual and auditory clutter of our neighborhoods.  The tension melts away with each wave. Realizing how small we are resting on the water’s surface resets our center.

boat2

I’m blessed with a marina view from my office. Every now and then we’ll see the tall masts of some super-huge luxury vessel, wonder who owns it and wish we could see it up close.

2[1]

Now is our chance!  The west coast’s premier boating event, the 2016 Progressive Insurance Los Angeles Boat Show cruises to town in a few weeks!  Whether you are looking to upgrade or just get your feet wet, it will offer hundreds of boats for sale: entry-level family cruisers, pontoons, wakesport boats, personal watercraft, inflatables, sailboats, catamarans, cruisers, to million-dollar yachts!  Plus, GEAR – it’s all about the gear!

147[1]

I’m so excited that Progressive offered me tickets to the show. I LOVE shows like this so I can submerse myself in all things nautical!

This show lasts four days (February 25-28), in two locations: The Los Angeles Convention Center and Burton W. Chace Park in Marina del Rey! The Marina will be a sailor’s delight with on-water lessons, sailing seminars and simulators!   There will be tons of Boat Smart activities and a high-energy kids zone where kids build their own sailing fantasy! Personally, I can’t wait to check out the Float-In Theatre!

43[1]

Buy tickets now: $15 for adults; Youth 15 and younger, with an adult, and active military are FREE. Save time, purchase tickets in advance at losangelesboatshow.com (Day-of-event tix sold at the box office).

OR, Enter to win a family four-pack of tickets! One lucky winner receives 4 tickets good for any day of the show, good for both show locations.  Click here to enter drawing! Now through February 13! Check back to see winner!

Til then, what boating theme song are you humming in your head?

IMG_8546

BRAINSTORMING TO BECOME A BIG-TIME BLOGGER (OVER BREAKFAST)

While trying a new recipe, hoping for our first Pinterest Proven Project, an idea hit me about changes to make to become a Big-Time Blogger!  When I say “idea,” I mean tupperware, jammed into my highest shelf leaped at my forehead and splashed into the crockpot – soaking before cleaning.

IMG_8445

My creative closet of “ideas”!

My first thought wasn’t home organization, remodeling or brighter home lighting.  I realized the rarity that I’d been afforded uninterrupted brainstorming on a weekend morning with my kids at home. More time means more assembly and prep time for recipes, and blog posts! What granted me this luxury to make Breakfast Crack Casserole?

IMG_8439

Bottom of skillet – Roll of biscuits

IMG_8442 (1)

One trick: Butter in skillet while heating oven means nothing stuck!  

IMG_8443

BEFORE: Dump it all in skillet – EASY!

1) MORE SLEEPOVERS

One naturally assumes that 2 kids + any friends = CHAOS.  Ironically, it works the opposite! When friends occupy my kids, my mind doesn’t constantly flip through the Masterful Mom rolodex of ideas to entertain, mitigate, or heal them. Without whining and bickering streaming from their mouths, creativity floods my brain’s bandwidth. Plus, with more tasting buds around, the “proven” rank increases in value.

IMG_8444

2)  FULL TRANSPARENCY

For the steady flow of friends, waivers, disclaimers and photo releases must reiterate to parents that when I’m suddenly free to blog, their child could appear in a post!  Parents must clarify – real/nick/no names, full/no face shots? One must disclose potential food allergies and sign extra forms for high-action posts.

IMG_8455

3) PROHIBIT PRIVACY PIRACY

When creating or writing, part of the joy comes from finding your boundaries and bounding through them. However, my kids show me I’m pushing it, hence the wacky or straight face photos.  Though they’re down for repeat adventures, they get fed up when I can’t get the photo right the first time. Obviously certain rooms provide rewarding respite.

wiigout

OK, really SNL Kristen Wiig, a great influencer of fun faces.

4) GRATEFUL GOALS

Some of my goals include: More social media followers than followees; Pushing positivity; Invitation to getaway; Writing my future. Yet, I’m grateful anytime I get a new idea, don’t burn a new meal, or share a great experience with my kids. Don’t forget to celebrate each little accomplishment and when I say “celebrate,” I mean dance in the endzone!

IMG_8449

AFTER – Where’s my sriracha?!

With Breakfast Crack casserole fueling the kids, they’re off and running! I try to keep up big time!

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

WTF: Warm, though furry! Safe to come out now?!

WE HEADED DOWNTOWN!

Though I’ve lived in Los Angeles for about 20 years, I still don’t consider myself local. I even lived downtown in 1992 – but back then, people escaped the city when work ended.  

To my kids, it’s the smoggy spot where their uncle works and home to modern miracles like LA Live or the Staples Center.  Their only tie to LA history is through The Original Pantry and USC.  Overall, they share the sterotypical LA sentiment that doesn’t appreciate old things setting the course for facelifts or being torn down.  

derby

Now, renewed energy of confident black and white business transactions blending with colorful artistic visions reflects off the skyscrapers drawing people downtown.  I wanted the kids to feel this vibe.

While heading out on our city walk, we ducked into the BRADBURY BUILDING. The kids haven’t seen Blade Runner, but the contrast of the sidewalk view to the soaring surreal interior thrilled them.

bradout

bradin

Next we headed to the HIVE GALLERY for a friend’s exhibit!  What an amazing collection of photography, ballpoint, graphic design, mixed media!  I was so excited to see her work in Dollmination! after having just reunited with her and meeting the co-creator – her husband – days before.

Dollmination

St. Michael Defeating the Devil (artist photo)               by Tamara and Michael Page

She suggested we visit CLIFTON’S CAFETERIA – what a gift!  We entered on the low-hanging ceiling first floor cafeteria. The expansive eating area mimics a forest allowing Angeleno’s an outdoor escape since freeways are never a great option – then or now.

cafecool

Cool original feel but obviously modernized too!

After eating, we explored upstairs. The 2nd floor boasts an expansive bar and plush seating inviting people to lean in, spilling their truths or to find comfort in someone else’s tales.

cafewtf

The 2nd floor also had a passageway that startled my kids. Neither was brave enough to pass thru.

Climbing another level, a gorgeous waiting area flanked the powder rooms.  Perfect for guests cordially courting after spilling out from the lively music hall.

cafe2ndsit

We finished at THE LAST BOOKSTORE. Entering on the ground floor, fellow hipster bibliophiles mingle, while escaping into the pages of great books.  

last1stfl

Next time there is an event here, I’m going! So cool!

Upstairs, my son rested…

last2ndsit

…while my daughter and I explored.

lastbooktunnel

Magical things around every corner!

last2ndvault

Not sure if the subject (horror) or the huge vault door scared us more.

We spent less time on books and more time on whimsical exhibits.  

It was rushed adventure this time, and we’re already eagerly throwing an itinerary together for our next walking tour! Hope we’ll see you wandering around town too!

For longer Three-Thumb Reviews for these destinations CLICK HERE TO YELP!  

DREAM COME TRUE: CAVALIA ODYSSEO

Think back to the days when we were read magical tales that filled our hearts with hope and adventure.  Swift, elegant horses, dashing, brave heroes and heroines were the ingredients mixed into myriads of stories.  These stories extended our world beyond our backyard. With our eyes closed, our creative imagination transported us to other worlds! Now, my kids, my niece and I have the opportunity to travel to a mystical world with our eyes open!  My family and I are so excited to attend the premiere event of Cavalia Odysseo on February 6th!

1-16-16 Odysseo head shot

You don’t have to wait – shows are open now through Feb. 26!

From the very first glimpse, this show promises to hold something unforgettably magical for everyone in my family.  I grew up with horses, wholeheartedly believe in fairy tales and am the last person on this Earth who has never seen a Cirque du Soleil show.  This newest and largest $30 million production of Cavalia Odysseo, created by Cirque co-founder, Normand Latourelle, promises to stimulate our senses on so many levels.

1-16-16 Odysseo death-defying

I predict that my son will be blown away by the death-defying acrobats, my niece will want to take all 65 horses home with her and my daughter will hum the tunes for weeks. I look forward to hearing their excitement over unexpected surprises that they’ll never forget.

1-16-16 Odysseo Merrygoround

This show is double the size of the 2007 tour boasting 48 riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians in a soulful and touching journey around the globe, showcasing at its heart, the mysterious relationship between men and horses.  I’m trying to imagine the sheer size of the production as the video clearly shows a lake and mountains – all under the big white tent!

1-16-16 Odysseo grand scope stage

For me, it’s also dream come true to be able to share this news with you before it happens rather than say “Look what we did, wish you were there!”  Wander along with us on this magical escape from our everyday lives!  Visit www.cavalia.net and book your tickets now!  The show premieres February 3rd with matinee and evening shows running through Valentine’s Day (what a great gift idea!). Some special pricing available.

See you in Irvine under the big white tent! What are you looking forward to the most?!

#OdysseoOC

 

Wander back soon and check my Wanderful Events page regularly for more exciting events!

 

COMMUNITY GATHERING: Going to Hell in a Handbasket

For some reason, a church group, who shall not be named, ruined their California vacation saving our high school from Hell. While claiming to be Christians, they are known for not living by the Golden Rule “Do unto others…” nor the Mommy Rule “If you can’t say anything nice…”

kind

I support Freedom of Speech but don’t agree with the church’s bully tactic spreading hurtful negativity to students still making up their minds about their place in this world. The community immediately rallied to support our students. I haven’t protested anything before, but felt strongly about protecting my town.

I’ve never really felt like I belonged to any community before – more like a long-term visitor. I moved around a lot throughout my life and had never lived anywhere longer than 5 years.  When I first moved here I felt like I was fleeing one life and throwing myself into another. Next thing you know, 10 years have passed and I’m settling in.

I shy away from confrontations, religion, and politics. I also didn’t want to greet the group with hate. My rational brain tried to follow and understand the church’s love logic though they’re pretty tight-lipped. They don’t talk as much as they hold signs. Nasty signs. I was nervous for my reaction.

Hundreds of school students and parents assembled with supporters from neighboring towns.  I was immediately swept up and woven into the colorful, compassionate community tapestry. Love tied us together.

easy

When the 5 or 6 members of the church group appeared, I was shocked to see how young two of the members were. These kids should’ve been in school, yet here they stood facing down hundreds of people.  I wondered if they were as nervous about us as I’d been about them.

Love drowned out hate. The church group’s chants were muted by our voices singing “Love Is Love!” Their disgusting signs covered by our messages of love. Within 30 min. they were gone. While their elders may have taken us in stride, I can’t help but wonder if the younger members recognized the difference between their community and its definition of love and true loving, supportive community!

Our students learned that love wins!

love

I purposefully left out the Church’s name and demonstration photos so they don’t get more publicity. The message was more powerful than their presence in this piece.

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers