THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO CREATE A VISION BOARD

It’s that time of the year when people set their intentions, make goals and plan out the next few months! Now that you know what Vision Boards look like and learned the basic ideas behind how they help us attract success with our dreams and goals, how does one make a vision board? There is no wrong way to create a vision board… What a relief! 

Two varieties of vision boards
Super Simple (& Inexpensive) Supplies

Honestly I got most of my supplies at
Dollar Tree (#afflink) which offers free shipping to a store near you! I got such a good deal that I purchased enough to invite friends. I’ll share more on hosting a party in an upcoming post. If you use any favorite supplies that I forgot to mention, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

  • BOARD can be poster board (I started with 14” x 22”), foam board, canvas, index cards, journals or even adhesive note squares
  • Piles of old magazines
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks/clear tape
  • Stickers or printed out affirmations
  • Pens

Gather magazines, scissors and glue
Super Simple Instructions
While the internet overflows with templates and classes, I personally wouldn’t pay a significant amount of money for them unless they serve wine or plan to check in with you from time to time to help you shape your goals. A few dollars for templates helps shape your board, though I prefer the potential of a blank sheet to start.

Cut out motivational phrases

Cut out anything that gives you a little surge of positive energy when you look at it:

  • Mantras: Your theme word of the year, words you live by, or motivational phrases
  • Resources: Books, courses, role models or mentors that could prove resourceful
  • Visuals:  Homes you love, a snapshot showing people with the attitude and feeling you strive for, vacation destinations, or career goals

Bottom line, anything you cut out should be intentional and meaningful to YOU, not anyone else’s version of you.
Organize your vision board into zones

Organize the board into zones (again, no wrong way – do what makes sense to you):

  • Short-term vs. Long-term goals: Perhaps half of the page features short-term goals that may be done this year, while the other half shows long-term bucket list items
  • Personal vs. Career: Personal goals (health, wealth, wisdom) seem independent but then tend to overlap career goals (career path, starting your own company)
  • Dreams vs. Goals: Dreams help divide your board into sections with smaller goals in the corresponding section: For example: The dream to do a marathon starts with the goals of buying running shoes then committing to running 10 minutes a day.
  • Personal vs. Family: Some goals involving other folks in your life may creep into your board. Of course they would – your family or friends are important to you! Make sure your dreams occupy a prominent position on your board.

Bottom line, if you’re still feeling scrambled, start with the big pictures, try to fit on page in zones, add little pictures around those zones, sprinkle with motivational phrases and mantras and embellish if you want to. Having white space around your pictures helps create pause in your thoughts so don’t feel you need to cover every centimeter.

Advanced challenge: You could create a sunburst-shaped board with each ray being a different dream or goal.  Or, perhaps, a tree-shaped board with roots being goals to ground you and branches being dreams and things that help you grow.

Artistic vision board

I don’t know who made this but this example and many more are on Pinterest!

Revisit often:

  • Grab a coffee or tea and instead of jumping onto email or social media, look at your vision board first thing in the morning.
  • Post your vision board in your workspace to enable you to glance at it often.
  • Digital pictures or versions of your vision board could be posted as your desktop or phone background so your eyes fall on it regularly.
  • Some people suggest last thing at night so that your dreaming mind can play with the ideas while you sleep.

Digital pictures of your vision board can be used as computer backgrounds or headers

When to make a new one:

  • Create a new board annually, but consider bi-annually or even quarterly.
  • Sometimes when facing a large project, significant change or new challenge, a board specific to this new challenge helps organize your thoughts.

What if you’re still stuck:

  • Consider some self-reflection: Ask yourself what you would do if you could not fail or if money was no object. Ask yourself what you would volunteer to do if you didn’t have to have a job.
  • Journal: Some people swear by morning pages to jostle your dreams loose – 3 pages of free writing first thing in the morning. Write anything dancing through your  mind.

If you make a vision board, please share! I would love to get to know you better through your boards!

Be true to who you are

What about you?
Have you made a vision board before?
Will you try one now?
Do you have additional tips for vision boards?
Do you follow templates or let creativity guide you?
Share your best example of your vision board helping you attract something in your life!

#VisionBoard #SetYourGoals #HappyNewYear #Visualize #LawOfAttractions #MakesMeWander

#Afflink means if you purchase your supplies using this link then I may earn a few more pennies towards next year’s vision board party – at no extra cost to you.

WHY YOU NEED TO CREATE A VISION BOARD

As always, I’m SUPER excited and counting down our last 20 minutes until we roll over into a new year. While every day presents a new opportunity to walk in the direction of our dreams, I love the feel of a measureable new start! January 1 feels malleable and untarnished no matter how late I celebrated the night before. But, a few weeks ago, someone reminded me that not only would it be a new year but a new decade and I immediately felt a twinge of anxiety crawling up my spine. 

I immediately turned inward for some quick introspection (does that really every work if you rush it?)! I’ve spent every living day since then simmering on my word for 2020 and wondering how that would shape my vision board!

My vision board and why you should make one!

My 2020 Vision Board balancing myself, family, and my side-hustle!

WHAT IS A VISION BOARD?
In the most basic terms, vision boards represent your long-term and short-term goals and dreams plus offer a way to set, track and motivate you towards your goals. 

HOW DOES THE VISION BOARD WORK?
By creating a visual reminder of our dreams and goals, it helps create our intentions. Intentions create our reality. If we think we’re too busy to tend to our dreams then we will be too busy and blame it on work, our kids, or our spouses. But, if we live our life only for everybody and everything else, we’re not living ourselves. It’s not until we decide to make something a priority that we will commit time to it.

Oof there’s that word, commit – commitment. Setting a wide goal to write a book carries with it a big, scary commitment. However, if I put on my vision board the specific action goal, “Write 15 min. a day” then the task doesn’t seem as frightening. Plus, we reason with ourselves that we deserve at least 15 min. of our day to grow our dreams, right? I’m a big believer in baby steps and celebrate each one! Also include at least a few reach goals, try something new – the results may thrill you!

My 2018 vision board was hectic but I get to make a new one whenever I want to!

My 2018 vision board was 2-sided and way too hectic but it still served it’s purpose!

Visualizing helps train our brains for success! When I used to run foot races, we’d train only up to a certain distance but never the full mileage of our race. Part of preparing for our opportunities involved physical conditioning (forming the habit and getting our bodies used to the action). The last portion simply involved the mental belief that we’d make it. Just like the athletes who mentally visualize being successful in their match or events before competition day, if we create a board visualizing our dreams, we start thinking in terms of us reaching our goals and dreams. It will happen because we’ll start to feel like we’ve been there all along. 

Another key component involves repetition, referring back to your vision board regularly so either post it in your home, save it to your phone screensaver, or post a mini version on your car visor. By consciously checking in with it regularly, you keep your dreams and goals in the forefront of your mind. Then, when opportunities come up in the form of a class, conference or person who could perhaps help you grow, you’re more apt to notice them. This isn’t magic or rocket science, but just like when you get a new car and suddenly you feel like you see a ton of the same car on the road… 

My first vision board ever

My first vision board! Remember, sometimes goals show up in a different way than expected. While I never made it to the Oprah show, I’m now a Brand Ambassador for her magazine!

Positive Mindset helps you move forward. Stress and negative thoughts put an anchor that either creates a lot of extra work to drag it around, or keep you stagnant. Ask yourself what you want to manifest. Affirm the things you want to see in your life. For example if you’re hoping to increase the number of books you read this year, don’t say “I’m too busy to read” say “I look forward to reading Sundays!” When you focus on things from the positive side, you’ll not only keep moving forward, but you’ll recognize the gifts as they arise.  So then when your morning commute took longer than usual in your vanpool it becomes less about the delay and more about getting to read an extra chapter.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the step by step process for creating your vision board.
(Spoiler: There is no wrong way to create a vision board!)

Subscribe with your email if you want to receive that notice and learn how to host a great Vision Board party!

What about you?
Have you done a vision board before? For 2020?
How do you arrange yours? On a board? On a Wall? On your computer?
What do you always include? What do you never include?
Do you have another way to explain how they work?
Do you believe in the Law of Attraction?
Do you believe that vision boards tie in with that Law?

#VisionBoards #HappyNewYear #SetYourGoals #Visualize #PowerOfAttraction #MakesMeWander

NATURALLY, KIDS! A family bucketlist…

A childhood friend shared this article on Facebook. I immediately recalled the hours chasing her around outside her home. With her, I got to first experience feeding dogfood to a rescued baby bird, wheeling, then dumping, her little brother into the rosebushes because red wagons don’t corner well, and protesting the adoption of all her roly-poly puppies because we wanted to keep them all.

The article states what we already know, that in the age of Facebook and smartphones, children are more sedentary than ever even when they are outside, with one in 10 unable to ride a bike. This is their list of 50 things kids should do before they are 12 (plus a few I threw in). Since my son is almost 11, I’m just going to use it as a rough guide of 50 things to try to do before college. Though now that he is heading to college, we’ll say before his younger sister goes to college…

Feel free to join us for any or all of them!

The full list is as follows:

1. Climb a tree

After volunteering at a pancake breakfast we found an awesome tree with thick broad branches perfect for climbing!

2. Roll down a really big hill

One of the greatest activities at this party was the impromptu roll down a huge hill. If kids picked up enough speed they could go right in the lake.

3. Camp out in the wild

It’s dawn – time to wake up?!

4. Build a den

5. Skip a stone

skip

Right-handed Softballer; Left-handed Stone Skipper

6. Run around in the rain

7. Fly a kite

Flying Free with the wind in her hair!

8. Catch a fish with a net

9. Eat an apple straight from a tree

10. Play conkers

11. Throw some snow

This was the first snow found – dirty snow in the parking lot

12. Hunt for treasure on the beach

13. Make a mud pie

14. Dam a stream

15. Go sledging – I’m guessing they meant sledding as sledging is a great way to pollute the air with smacktalk!

Sailing over the snow!

In CA we also sand sled!

16. Bury someone in the sand

What if your head isn’t what’s buried in the sand?

17. Set up a snail race

18. Balance on a fallen tree

19. Swing on a rope swing

I called this Ewok Training Camp in Hungary

20. Make a mud slide

21. Eat blackberries growing in the wild

22. Take a look inside a tree

23. Visit an island

24. Feel like you’re flying in the wind

Not a ride in nature, but the closest thing to flying at Knott’s Berry Farm!

25. Make a grass trumpet

26. Hunt for fossils and bones – or our hunt for Elliott if we want to be fully transparent – Like Elliott!

dragon

Only the cave knows what treasures it holds

27. Watch the sun wake up

28. Climb a huge hill (bicycle optional!)

Carson rode all the way up this exhausting hill for bragging rights and an ice cream!

29. Get behind a waterfall

30. Feed a bird from your hand

31. Hunt for bugs

32. Find some frogspawn

33. Catch a butterfly in a net

34. Track wild animals

35. Discover what’s in a pond

36. Call an owl

37. Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool

38. Bring up a butterfly

39. Catch a crab

40. Go on a nature walk at night

41. Plant it, grow it, eat it

42. Go wild swimming

Swimming upstream!

43. Go rafting

44. Light a fire without matches

45. Find your way with a map and compass

46. Try bouldering

47. Cook on a campfire11/9/13 Lauren and her friend Riley learned how to cook Snickerdoodle cookies on a campfire in a box oven. I wish I’d taken a picture, but I didn’t so here is what it looked like (but we used cinder blocks, not coke cans).

The Snickerdoodle cookies were a huge hit! Lauren ate 3 herself! Thanks Prepared-Housewife.com for this photo! I'm your newest fan!

The Snickerdoodle cookies were a hit!  Thanks          Prepared-Housewife.com for the photo! I’m your newest fan!

48. Try abseiling

49. Find a geocache

50. Canoe down a river

51. Go on dog sled

Mush! We have a lot of Montecito Sequoia to explore!

52. Visit a national park preserve

Even grander in real life!

53. Do snow/sand angel

After falling off her bike a lot that day, she preferred activities already on the ground.

54. Squish toes in the mud

55. Jump in a pile of leaves

The crunchy leaves smell like fall!

56. Relax in a cave

Contemplating Superstitions at Superstition Mountain

What about you?
Do you have any bucketlists for your family?
What have I left off of this list?
Which National Park MUST I see first?
How have your family travel plans changed once kids go to college?

O WOW! OPRAH MAG 2019 FALL BEAUTY O-WARD WINNERS!

As a whole, I am a low-maintenance kinda gal. Primarily born out of necessity, coupled with the fact that I no longer like to wake up early, I have a very simple skin and hair routine – more than half of which I complete in my parked car before going to work. 

 

Usually using my phone light for better and brighter lighting!

 

So it was super fun for some of us #OMagInsiders and the magazine staff to play beauty queen and sample some of the products that O, The Oprah Magazine’s beauty editor Brian Underwood singled out for award consideration!  

Some products were classics, some were brand new. Some were high-end, many were more reasonably priced. All were deliciously and delicately scented, super effective and easy to use so they fit in well with my mornings! Here are my my longer (than the magazine) reviews:

JOHN MASTERS ORGANICS
FINE HAIR SHAMPOO WITH ROSEMARY & PEPPERMINT
This shampoo performed great! Because the shampoo ran thinner, I used less but it still permeated to my scalp. It left less buildup on my hair too. The peppermint smelled and felt wonderful, energizing me in the mornings. 
I recommend the shampoo if you enjoy treating your hair to a day at the salon! 

BEACHWAVER CO. GOOD VIBES
MOISTURIZING CONDITIONER WITH COCONUT OIL
I used a little bit of the conditioner – but I cheated and applied product all the way up to my scalp, not just stopping halfway like the instructions said. My knots instantly fell loose leaving smooth wavy hair! I didn’t need to apply a lot to my thick hair, and after I rinsed, I still felt the benefits without any residual buildup!

I used it at home and brought it in my beach bag for extra protection from the drying sun and salt! Transitioning from the beach to cafe just got easier simply by running my fingers through my hair.

ALTERNA
CAVIAR ANTI-AGING ANTI-FRIZZ AIR DRY BALM
I am extremely low-maintenance with the styling of my hair and this product worked really well with how simple I keep things. I used it both on wet hair straight from the shower, just running my fingers through my wavy hair and also on dry hair to seal my hair for a high ponytail! In both cases, it doesn’t require much product, spreads out easily between my two hands, applies clear and distributes evenly.

It does a great job holding my hair’s desired shape in both cases without tons of angel hair popping out (which is the norm with my wavy hair). I love that my hair doen’t feel waxy (dirty) by the end of the day, it doesn’t feel crispy when first applied. I just rub the rest of the balm into the back of my hands for extra moisture!

RODIN
LUXURY LIP & CHEEK OIL
The best feature of this product surprised me in that the oil didn’t feel oily. It applied to lips easily and didn’t leave huge glossy marks or come off in weird sticky blotches onto my coffee cup.

My tint-free oil absorbed nicely into my cheeks leaving a shimmer that looked more natural (to me) than the powdered highlighters do. This provided a more delicate, natural look that creates highlights better than the powdered highlighters or fine glitter lotions. I look forward to trying some of their tints!

ESTEE LAUDER
ADVANCED NIGHT REPAIR INTENSE RESET CONCENTRATE
Estee Lauder officially helped me turn the page from my aggressive younger blemish-fighting skin routine to a more caring, respectful mindful skin care routine! Advanced Night Repair felt richer and immediately relaxed and protected my skin. It felt as though this one product and I trusted each other to work together.

While using this, I didn’t have to use as many skin-care steps during the day (extra masks; serum + lotions) because the impact of the night repair lasted to the morning – even after washing my face. I saw a difference in the fine lines on my face after a few days and overall, my skin looked younger and more supple, more elastic. This earned a permanent spot in my skin care routine moving forward. More than a fan, I’m an advocate.

 

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU?
How long does your morning routine take?
What about nighttimes?
If you could only use one product for beauty and one for cosmetics, what would they be?
What is your favorite product that you feel deserves an Oward?
What’s the craziest beauty product you ever purchased?
Did you try any of the products from the list?
They’re so reasonable for how well they work!

#OMagInsiders #OprahMag #BrianUnderwood #FallOwards #Beauty #BeautyBlogger #MakeUp #Skincare #BeautyOver50 #BeautyOver40 #Over40blogger #Womenover40 #blogtober #MakesMeWander

 

 

YOU WENT WHERE? VEGAS! (WITH KIDS, COUSINS, & GRANDPARENTS?!)

When planning your family vacation, did the words Las Vegas ever cross your mind? Did it stay in your mind or did you immediately dismiss Sin City? Oprah Magazine just did a feature talking about Vegas attracting families hoping to see their favorite artists’ shows while in residency in Vegas. …But, what can the family do before and after the concerts?

Would you believe that my family roadtripped to Vegas with ages 5 to almost 75? We spent hours in the pool and more hours chasing adventure!  Some things we did together, sometimes we split up into smaller family groups, but we were pleasantly surprised with how many of the attractions fit the bill for all ages! 

Always chasing deals, I purchased things from Groupon or looked for specials on the ground in Vegas. MGM offered a 3 for $57* card with choices of a wide variety of attractions! Everyone in the group mixed and matched to fill in their bucket lists – we didn’t all stick to the same itinerary. So here are the top 10 (in alphabetical order) from our last trip to Vegas. For even more things to do in Vegas, check out what we did on our first trip to Vegas – just myself and my 2 kids.

ADVENTUREDOME at CIRCUS CIRCUS* – My t(w)eens’ easy first choice for the 3 for $57 card! Even though Circus Circus felt a little stuck between classic crooner Vegas and the new flashy resorts, it held SO MUCH fun under one Adventuredome for kids of all ages. Tons of games, rides and fanfare to enjoy many air-conditioned hours! My young niece chose to see Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage instead. 

BODIES … THE EXHIBIT* – After hearing so much about this exhibit we eagerly chose this as one of the 3 for $57. The t(w)eens did less cringing than expected and more studying of each display. The human bodies’ exhibited such intricacies and artistry that really drew our attention and awakened our fascination. Sorry, they did not allow photographs.  My 5 year old niece chose to do the Titanic exhibit instead – we just left out the ending of that story.

ETHEL M CHOCOLATES – When considering our favorite chocolates, everyone knows about M&M Mars, but did you know Ethel Mars?  Just 13 miles or so from the Vegas strip in Henderson, NV we found the factory store (that happens to be surrounded by a beautiful succulent garden)!  I looked closely for Lucille Ball operating a conveyer belt within the inner workings. The best part was creating our own custom assortment of flavors to take home – sharing not required!

GORDON RAMSEY BURGER at the PLANET HOLLYWOOD – While I influence the foodie adventures, the kids recognized Gordon Ramsey from Hell’s Kitchen. They both stick to simpler choices in general, but instantly noticed the differences in textures and flavors while inhaling these delicious plain cheeseburgers and shakes!  

JABBAWOCKEEZ at the MGM GRAND – My kids don’t remember the Jabbawockeez as winners of the premiere season of America’s Best Dance Crew, though enjoyed them after I offered an extensive online video review. They absolutely appreciated and were inspired and energized by the moves they saw on stage.  The theatre offers great seats from every spot – plus the show and story goes beyond the fourth wall.   

JOHN MULL’S MEATS & ROAD KILL GRILL – Upon learning the name of this restaurant, I instantly wanted to freak my kids out and go.  It’s a short drive into a residential neighborhood but when you arrive, the smell pulls you from your car and brings you to the crowded door.  The barbeque options were tender and flavorful and a welcome change from the miles of buffets on the Strip! 

LUXOR – The Luxor offered a central location to so much of what we did in a magnificent pyramid!  The kids dug the Egyptian theme with the nightly pinnacle beam of light – perhaps a beacon for travelers from outer space! They gasped at how huge the interior felt with each level revealing more hidden treasures! My kids’ yearn to stay in every resort on the Strip!

MARVEL AVENGERS S.T.A.T.I.O.N. – We received an invitation to check this place out and what a fan favorite!  My kids know the Marvel Universe better than they know U.S. history and this offered an even more intimate look at the many characters and their stories.  Such an amazing interactive exhibit to let us walk a mile in their shoes and suits!

SHARK REEF AQUARIUM at the MANDALAY BAY* – The unanimous favorite for all ages, this exhibit fulfilled all of our deep-diving fantasies.  Next time I go, I want to fasttrack through the attractions and spend more time sitting in the hull of the ship just watching the sharks.  Take your time strolling because the jellies mesmerize and the aquariums made us fantasize. This was our last of the 3 for $57!  

lauren slotzilla

SLOTZILLA ZIP LINE at the FREMONT STREET EXPERIENCE – I often try to find attractions uniquely special for each child. For my daughter’s first-time ziplining, I thought the rock-n-roll light show from the “ceiling” of the Fremont Street Experience fit perfectly. The course was fast enough to thrill but not scare us and Bon Jovi music left our hearts pumping! Downtown Vegas offers an older charm but the scene is changing and growing each year! 

ON THE ROAD HOME…
ALIEN FRESH JERKY
– Not going to lie – the idea that this jerky came from alien-abducted cows stayed in my head while we walked all over the store! Final verdict: The aliens know what they’re doing and you need to stop here! This shop offers the best in roadtrip snacks of all kinds (and happens to be across the street from a place offering the widest selection of sodas and pop!). Easy to spot from the highway, just look for the World’s tallest thermometer in Baker, CA!

What about you?
Did this change your mind that families can vacation in Vegas?
Need more convincing?
Where have you travelled with kids in Vegas?
Where should we go next?
Where do you find special deals?
What’s your favorite Vegas season?

#lasvegas #youwentwhere #familyfun #familyvacation #roadtrip #travel #travelwithkids #blogtober #Nevada #Baker #Henderson #EthelM #MGM #Luxor #Adventuredome #Slotzilla #FremontStreet #GordonRamsey #Burger #bbq #aquarium #makesmewander

MAKING LIFE SIMPLY DELICIOUS

[📷: betsylife.com]

As a single mom, working a day job and blogging by night, I’m always looking for ways to simplify my routine.  No longer wanting to take the time to window shop, stroll through aisles, collect free samples, and do mini fashion shows in the dressing rooms, I started to notice so many people purchasing boxed subscriptions!  Everything from wine to snacks to cosmetics to books to clothing easily and regularly brighten people’s doorsteps!

You can get FREE sirloin and salmon!!

I recently subscribed to ButcherBox (#ad) and I love how many ways you can personalize the box – from the contents (we chose the beef, poultry & pork box), to the delivery schedule!  The quality of the meats are great and they arrive still frozen and sealed in portioned sizes!

 

Loved that the fruits and veggies came with no signs of a rough trip!

I also signed up for Imperfect Produce (#Coupon – We both get $20 off).  I’ve always rooted for underdogs, including unappreciated imperfectly shaped or sized produce!  These boxes contain a wide variety of selections that you review and personalize based on preference or social calendar! The sizes or shapes may vary, but the flavors and freshness impressed me.

[📷: betsylife.com]

With both boxes, I remained curious and open to adventure! I discovered new cuts of meat or exotic produce that I’ve never cooked with before. This led me to look through my pinned recipes online where I found Betsylife.com. First of all, her beautiful photography and her personal ramblings drew me in.  I felt like Betsy and I were hanging out in her kitchen chilling and chatting! Her posts set the tone but don’t hide the recipes in a long, scrolling blog post (thank you!).

One day I wound up with an overabundance of strawberries and a craving to bake so I tried this beautiful super simple Almond Strawberry Upside Down Cake!

I felt like the best mom ever with love oozing from the tendrils of steam as it cooled near the window sending billows of strawberry and almond scent to my neighbors. I never did get around to sharing the cake. …yet.

 

[📷: betsylife.com]

Impressed with Betsy’s recipes – simple enough for me to pull off, elegant enough that they look and taste like a masterpiece – I wanted to see what else she had up her chef sleeve!  Always looking for fun ways to feed my kids, but knowing their individual pickiness, inability to agree with each other and collective aversion to condiments, I went for the

Obviously, I lack Betsy’s food styling skills!

Individual Oven Baked Sloppy Joes. Super simple to make and how smart is she to make so many fun recipes for 1 when the rest of the world cooks for 2 or 4!  I made it for 3 #easy! Flavorful and beefy enough for one child and easy-to-chew meat for the other!

Alright, now convinced, (and with lots of ground beef because ButcherBox’s deal when I signed up was free ground beef for life – right now YOU could get free Salmon and Sirloin), I realized that my kids don’t mind trying new things if they’re teeny!  For my last dinner and using jalapenos from my Imperfect Produce,

I made Jalapeno Cheddar Juicy Lucy burger sliders (how smart that the cheese is INSIDE the burger?!) with a Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Loaded Potato Bites appetizer! Save this recipe for this week’s big game! 

 

I felt like a real chef with all the ingredients laid out!

Trying Betsy’s new recipes felt fun, creative, delicious – which is way more satisfying that what I usually cook!  I own a row of cookbooks and pinned over 7,500 recipes to my boards, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: I will find new chefs and try at least 4 of their recipes that month! My skills simmer somewhere around beginner but I had so much fun cooking with Betsylife.com and she added a dash of confidence, inspiring me to improvise! 

The next time I made the Strawberry Almond Upside Down cake – for a family celebration – I went extra adding blueberries to the top too! I just cooked it a little longer (because extra berries means extra juice).  Delicious!

What about you?
When’s the last time you tried a new recipe?
Have you tried Betsy’s Life recipes?
Do you have a recipe I should try?
What chef should I check out next?
Do you subscribe to any boxes?
When’s the last time you cooked outside the (subscription) box?

RECIPES:

ALMOND STRAWBERRY UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

BROCCOLI BACON CHEDDAR LOADED POTATO BITES 

INDIVIDUAL OVEN BAKED SLOPPY JOES

JALAPENO CHEDDAR JUICY LUCY BURGER

#ChallengeAccepted #NotAnAd for #BetsyLife #JustAnAdmirer #FoodStylist #Recipes #Afflink for #ButcherBox #ImperfectProduce #Jalapeno #Cheddar #burger #slider #strawberry #Almond #cake #broccoli #Bacon #Potato #bites #Individual #RecipesForOne #SloppyJoes #Oven #blogtober #October #cook #Dinner #Lunch #Appetizer #omaginsiders #makesmewander

MY 2018 WORD OF THE YEAR

Every year and every day offers a new opportunity to start over, to learn, to grow, and to be kind – to ourselves and to others. After reading the title of Shonda Rhimes’ book, 2017 became my Year of Yes! [I hope to actually read the full book in 2018 because if the title alone launched one of the most amazing years of my life so far, the possibilities seem powerful]! Spending a year living outside my comfort zone, and at the same time, very much inside my head and heart, helped me contemplate and focus my goals, get in touch with my history and plot new paths for my future. [Cue the confetti and the marching band!] What word would be worthy to follow the Year of YES?!

Truth be told, at the end of the year, I felt like the inside of a spaghetti squash in that every time one scraped the internal surface, a whole new pile of stringy things spilled out all over the place giving a whole lot of goodness, but at the same time, making an even bigger mess. You can dress it up and fool the world into believing it’s as good as pasta, but truth be told, it’s still spaghetti squash. [I think I just nominated a mascot to accompany the Word of the Year!]

My 2018 Word of the Year:

Since I already felt a bit raw after everything that happened in my life and in the country during the last year [Who can relate?! Woo!], I yearned to bring things back to a level that I could control by forming deeper connections with people while also helping others strengthen their connections! To truly connect, one must be willing to be vulnerable.

Honestly, it just felt like the right year to bust everything open for inspection. I’ve always ended my job interviews by bragging about my ability to compartmentalize to ensure employers that my crazy busy home life won’t spill over into the workplace. This skill also helped me cope with yucky situations [aka: loss of control when knocked off track] like my divorce, times where I know I didn’t stand up for my goals, or the literal shit show – the flood of 2015, and put them away in a shoe box in my closet to return some normalcy to my life. By constantly rushing to stay ahead of the discomfort to prove “I’m fine!” I was not present in my life, nor was I living an authentic life. [#FineIsFake]

Now, More than Ever:
a) I’ve stepped into some new circles of amazing people:
Connecting with my tribe of Insiders, my family of Korean adoptees and working to deepen connections with my large circle of family by friendship, I’ve noticed that part of me loves to drop a joke, create a diversion and flee when people get what I deem “too close.” I’m calling my bluff.
b) I’m fixing to celebrate my 50th (in 2020) with an epic mid-life Personal Journey: …As opposed to a mid-life crisis [unless Elon Musk wants to throw a convertible red Tesla at me – even if it has 70 million miles on it]. Since a journey of that size takes time and I’ve already started the ball rolling – why NOT now?
c) I don’t want my quirks to spill over to the next 50 years, or to my kids: I want to contain the crazy to my first 50 years so that my kids can find their own colorful ways to go a little nuts. Plus it’s a great lesson to them that I can identify things in myself that I want to improve then find a way to do it.
d) I’m tired of putting myself last: My health depends on it. So easy for us to say, so hard for us to do, to say we’ll stop putting ourselves last. If you do this, just STOP! No, I have no idea what you and I will do with our scant free time, but let’s start by grabbing a green juice [I meant caramel latte with whip] and we’ll figure something out.
e) I’ve never been one to fight to keep up with the Jones’: That’s served me well, especially as a single parent, because it’s just not going to happen – and I’m fine with it. We want for nothing. …OK, maybe I tried to keep up for a hot second while in college. My son can tell you verbatim [rolling his eyes] about the time I bought myself an expensive watch. After wearing it for a day, becoming totally paranoid and squirmy in my own skin [rather than totally over-the-moon higher than “Fine”], I returned it.

So what does this mean?
Does this mean that as of NOW I’ll be wearing my spaghetti squash heart on my sleeve?… Corner you at the grocery store demanding to know your 5-year plan?… Buck any trends and purposefully go in an opposite direction?… No! I still would love to check out catchy new exercise trends [dance craze], hang out at relaxing travel destinations, or try the newest age-fighting lotions. I’ll admit though, without the help of my #OMagInsider role, I’m usually a late adapter. So, maybe don’t look for the latest trends here, but I’ll tell you what I’m loving right now! You’ll get my in-depth reviews boasting about the obvious fun and the secondary benefits!

The Sparks of Inspiration:
My kids – I don’t think my kids feel I’m any crazier than their friends think their parents are crazy [sorry if that is news to you]. But, before I send the kids into the world, I want to teach them the value of human connections and being connected with your inner self.
Other’s truths – So many of the amazing people that I connected with this year trusted me with their truths and gave me the strength to follow suit.
Brené Brown – Having just dived into Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcasts [since Summer 2017 – told you, late adapter…], Brené was the first one I listened to – hoping for a cliff notes of her books since I look forward to hearing her speak in May! Call it a bandwagon or call it a message from the universe. She’s got my ear now, so I will listen.

What about you?

  • Do you have a word or mantra for this year? #OneWord
  • What are your favorite podcasts for personal growth?
  • How do you take Super Soul Sunday? Watch it? Podcasts? Read the Book?
  • Do you have a better answer than “Fine” when someone asks you how you are?
  • Is this me subliminally whining about needing to wean myself off flour carbs?!
  • Do you have a favorite Spaghetti Squash recipes so SS & I can be on good terms?
  • Should I commit to this word and hammer my into a necklace?
    I’m thinking myintent.org

    myintent.jpg

    Click thru for $5 off your necklace or bracelet! It’s meant to be!

THE STAR! The Premiere

The magic of films, the power of storytelling and the glitter of Hollywood remain a few of the reasons I choose to live near Los Angeles. Films entertain and educate us, they change our perspectives, and expand our views of our world – or what exists beyond. My favorite trend right now revolves around telling historic or well-known stories from a different perspective – whether showcasing a lesser known person who had a significant role in history, telling a side of history that we’re not familiar with, or telling historic stories through fictionally-enhanced side-stories. My new fascination with history lies not with people’s outcomes, but with their journeys.

When invited to the world premiere of Sony Pictures The Star, the twin angels on my shoulders, Oprah and Shonda, eagerly responded: Year of adventure! Year of Yes! Despite working at a film studio for many years, I rarely participated in a project’s release. What a fun opportunity to see a film first and a festive way to ease into the holiday season! Plus this was another amazing destination on my journey this year. With two of my #OMagInsiders blogging pals – Camesha [MamaMotivator] and Rachel [RachelSimmondsFitness] – we set out to support Oprah in her film project, and hopefully thank her in-person for inspiring my Year of Adventure in person.

Approaching the Westwood movie theatre, crowds of fans outlined the streets huddling to catch a glimpse of their favorites from this star-studded cast. The snowy white carpet glistened as elegantly decorated Christmas trees reflected the flash of paparazzi bulbs.

Glimpsing the well-choreographed dance between the celebrities and the press fascinated me – especially the young media with a larger camera and staff than ours.

To our surprise, we effortlessly walked past the will-call line and crowds to the back of the festival set up along the white carpet for the guests and their families! Stocked with comfort finger-foods and carnival games, smiles shone bright from all who lingered in this carved out Winter Wonderland before heading into the screening.

This film exceeded my expectations in so many ways because of the balance in the film. While it’s a familiar story, this film presents the stories of many less-visible characters, little obstacles we hadn’t thought of before and the shock of experiencing it first-hand. While it’s a story of great magnitude, it’s presented in a sweet, simple way that people of all ages can follow with a great balance of good, evil, struggle, humor, skepticism and faith. While it’s a religious story, the amount of religion infused in the story isn’t too much, or too little – it’s just right. I highly recommend this film for families this holiday season. I can’t wait to take my mom, children and my niece!

Seeing The Star film in this huge theatre filled with the magic-makers – who took months, even years to complete this film – escalated my excitement for this project. I always try to sit through credits but in this moment we could applaud the creators as they closed this chapter in their amazing journey! Plus this amazing soundtrack had us dancing in the aisles!

There were a few messages from the film that resonated with me, especially reflecting on my personal journey this year, yet will benefit all ages. Whether your destiny remains unclear to you so far or it shines like a beacon as obvious as the star in the sky, it’s not just reaching the point of achieving your goal that defines you as successful. Equally as valuable are how well you stay your course, face fears or evolve when unexpected things happen or undesirable situations are put in your way. If your faith in your journey and in your goals persevere you rise above the naysayers and reach your goals.

No, we did not congratulate Oprah this time, but I left the afternoon with amazing memories, new life experiences tucked under my belt – shared with my newest best friends, and a new holiday family film tradition (to balance out our tradition of watching Christmas Vacation)!

For more shots of who I met on the white carpet check out my Instagram!

What about you?

  • Have you seen The Star?
  • who was your favorite character?
  • Who is your favorite celebrity voicing a character in this film?
  • What was your favorite holiday song/performer from the film
  • What holiday film do you traditionally watch?
  • What is your favorite holiday tradition?
  • What is your favorite role that Oprah has played?
  • What was your last new experience that you were excited about saying yes to?
  • Are you ready for the holidays?

#thestarmovie #sonypictures #Oprah #OprahWinfrey #TylerPerry #TracyMorgan #Sony #AnimatedFilm #Animation #HolidayFilm #ChristmasMovie #ChristmasMusic #ChristmasCarols #Soundtrack #MerryChristmas #FirstChristmas #Mary #Joseph #Bethlehem #Thestar #film #movie #premiere #makesmewander

I BET I CAN STILL SP(+)(+)K YOU

You know that annual exam we women look forward to every year?

It’s our routine hour spent lying on our back trying to make small talk with someone who knows us more intimately than our significant others desire to. Ice-cold tools send a chill of anticipation up our pelvis as we’re waiting to hear those three words “You’re all done!”

If really looking for an escape from our 9-to-5 routine perhaps after the pelvic exam we double book appointments so that our top half doesn’t feel neglected. It’s always a smashing good time to visit the imaging center for a mammogram. We leave feeling like overworked supermodels after forcing our bodies through a blend of interpretive dance and yogilates for the perfect shot.


Thanking the staff for too much fun for one day, we wave goodbye, skip to our cars and return to our everyday lives. A few days later we hopefully get calls from our doctors saying that everything looks normal. I so look forward to that dance so this time I felt comfort in seeing their message on my phone, putting a happy ending to my annual exams.

When finally treated to a slower afternoon, I dedicated one ear to clear out phone messages.  As the forgotten message from my breast imaging lab began, the transcribed words caught my eye! They read, “We recommend you come back for further test…” Now fully engaged, I scrambled trying to get the message to play faster as if that would answer all of my immediate questions.

My heartbeat surged and the “What ifs” peppered my head like hot sparks. To tune them out, I focused on fixing this – though I still didn’t know what “this” was. I clawed to gain the upper hand by calling the lab, masquerading calm, to book an immediate appointment. My next call, to my doctor, actually preceded the paperwork from the lab so I chalked that as a small victory for me – staying one step ahead of the nasty order. Still, I had to wait 10 days until my next visit, so I needed to exist with the anticipation for that long before getting one step closer to a resolution or a plan. I am horrible with secrets but wanted to process my questions and concerns, not be overwhelmed by everyone else’s yet.

My brain immediately and incessantly drew conclusions between things that I’ve encountered in my life, giving me a few theories to check out. I researched the impact of cell phone towers and possible links to cancer since our work building supports a communication kingdom on the rooftop raining all sorts of waves that we don’t truly know enough about. After an information overload, I held off with the rest of my investigative research online until I could ask the nurses or doctors in person with their real-life experience. The Internet provided material to support any theory I wanted to pursue, but not always the truth, nor information specifically to help me.

I briefly dipped my toe in the irony of having just been picked for the most awetastic Oprahtunity of my life layered with my excitement to cruise with Oprah in a few months then felt frustrated that this could balance out that joy. I refused to live in those thoughts for long because, especially this year, I believe in manifesting our futures. If those negative ironies aren’t allowed to wander the universe, hopefully they couldn’t pick up speed. I remained defiant that whatever these future photos showed, they would not put a damper on those plans.

Realizing that my kids’ homework would still flood us and the morning rush wouldn’t lighten up, for the next 10 days, I buried the secret and lived life as usual. OK, yes, I’ll admit to the exception of not sticking my phone in my bra when I needed an extra free hand. Oh, and being still and talking to God a few more times than usual. Despite trying to keep my chin up, I did not sleep well. My mind wasn’t stewing on anything in particular, I just couldn’t sleep. It didn’t help my writer’s block either.  I’m not great with receiving surprises and this unknown had a strong possibility of delivering an unwanted surprise.

On the morning of my appointment, I chose to remain optimistic and focused on staying present. I remember the waffle texture of my starched white robe and how peaceful the waiting room felt with its natural stone walls. Enya’s voice filled the air while other women and I flipped through a library of beauty and fashion magazines. A snapshot of this moment might look like a lovely girls’ spa day.

When called into the first room for a few more smashing images, I suddenly appreciated all of the large machines it takes to stare at my chest. The images on the rocket control monitor looked like a foreign galaxy. I asked the technician what foreign bodies or alien bodies we hoped to locate and she indicated that it’s an asymmetry (I thought everybody’s boobs were asymmetrical). But it just means that one side grew something new.

The Carina Nebula, originally shown in The Telegraph UK

I recovered briefly in the calm waiting room, before a new technician invited to my next stop: Ultrasound. After having two children, I prided myself on my mad ultrasound deciphering skills (even if not my own). Nothing in the shading of these ultrasounds made sense to me. I made a mental note to never play cards with either technician because their poker faces held solid. Not unfriendly at all, but void of any discovery, definition or significance.

While bored on the table, hindsight started my highlights reel. I recalled that my left breast sometimes felt different, but not in a lumpy way. When I did my breast self-exams I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, it just felt different. Occasionally, I felt a brief pain, too small to set off an alarm, but I chalked it up to mid-life sagging or ill-fitting bras and hoped for an Oprah bra intervention. Perhaps I felt a slight connectivity within the tissue where I hadn’t before. But now, after smashing and poking and prodding for a closer look, I centered in on the area in question!

It gets serious fast when you see things in writing!

The technician asked me to get off the table and hang out for a minute while, I assumed, she made sure the slides captured clear enough images to send to my doctor. When she walked back into the room, the full color of the emotion on her face filled the room as she announced: Benign! I avoided making eye contact with a paper reading “malignant” or “benign” that emphasized in what felt like 75pt bold font just how much weight this answer carries. Then I got dizzy trying to remember which word I wanted to receive, or not. Benign!

Turns out it’s just a little cyst. Bodies make them sometimes, my body seems better at this than most. Because of my delight and previous pixie dust use, I immediately pictured the cyst as a friendly Disney character (It’s weird where our mind goes in times of stress). I thanked her profusely, wished her a wonderful weekend, returned to the dressing room to change back into my normal clothes, and cried. Relieved.


Take Aways:

  • Get annual exams – I’d fallen off my regular schedule after a work event competed for time last fall. After the urgent reminder of a friend who hoped to get even one friend to make her appointment – I called.
  • Do monthly breast exams – Just do it!
  • Don’t be afraid of doctors – Don’t be scared to go to the doctor because you’re afraid of what they’ll find. They are trained to know how to fix you so you can focus on being or getting well. Often, the issue is smaller and treatment is less scary than your enthusiastic imagination or Web MD says.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion – Even if they have similar diagnosis, their treatment style could be different. Find a doctor you feel comfortable with.
  • Consider finding your family history – Doesn’t mean you will get something or guarantee that you won’t. But when faced with a health challenge, I feel the more knowledge we have, the less irrational fear occurs. If nothing else, it helps knowing there is someone else who understands what you are facing.
    • Relax – Remember that hopefully your story will be less crazy than people who came before you thanks to progress made in medicine during the last decade.
    • Be Confident – Consider too that these days, technology advances with DNA may allow us to someday change the negative DNA we’ve been gifted with.

What about you?

  • Please share tips or resources that helped you get through a health challenge or scare.
  • Please share your ideas for gifts that patients and their families really enjoy.
  • Do you use your bra like a pocket too? Keys, credit cards, loose change…
  • Did you do your annual exam this year? Go! Call! Now!
  • Do you have any fun rituals like treating yourself to a spa day afterwards?
  • Bonus points if you remember what movie my title came from!

(C) Disney

#Breast #PelvicExam #BreastSelfExam #Mammogram #Ultrasound #Health #Healthscare #Symptoms #Cure #Care #OBGYN #AnnualExam #BeHealthy #WomensHealth #Diagnosis #Treatment #Assistance #OMagInsiders #Cocktail #WaltDisneyPictures

YOU WENT WHERE? SAN FRANCISCO (With Kids)

During the toddler years, my family’s cranky moods  (mine included) disappeared with some creative distraction and a change of venue – if severe. Now that the tween and teen years dictate the mood in the house, when the bickering levels get intolerable, Mom offers a proportional change up – Roadtrip adventure!

MB transamerica-pyramid_san-francisco

Photo courtesy of megabus.com

I’ve been dreaming of a trip to San Francisco since the last time we’d been almost 13 years ago. My teen son only remembers riding in a limo at 3 ½ years old (over riding his first cable car) and my tween daughter simply made it through that trip to her due date!  I love the energy of the city with its cool modern minimalistic hotels next to classic historic hotels with warm solid mahogany bars in the lobby. I love that everywhere you turn, distinct neighborhoods welcome you with their distinct charm, as do the piers decorating the waterfront!  So the three of us set out on an adventure blending history, new experiences, old favorites and of course something weird!

32 hrs in San Fran (with kids)!

DA, DA, DA – ANOTHER ONE RIDES THE MEGABUS
Always up for an adventure, the wheels in my head started turning immediately (The wheels on the bus go round and round)!  When you put things out into the universe, the universe responds! Amazingly, we received the opportunity to try Megabus.com for free in exchange for our honest opinion.  I immediately responded, “Yes, Please!” after a great first-hand testimonial from my office mate who used this bus line recently during her East Coast holiday adventure.

Planning a weekend getaway limited our time in San Francisco, so the idea of showing up only 30 min. early, getting on a bus with reclining seats and sleeping my way to San Francisco – then waking up refreshed at my destination – cemented the decision for me! The night we left, California disappeared under the rainstorm that my generation will retell vividly for generations to come. The Megabus travelled securely on the roads, unfazed by the elements. In fact, for both directions of the trip, energetic and helpful employees kept us on track. Their rates remain reasonable, only additional charge should you wish to reserve seats!  Check their site often for their $1 sales! I wish I’d known about this when I was a college kid – weekenders would have educated me! For a full review click here.


YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE FOR A FIRST IMPRESSION
As we crossed the Oakland Bay Bridge, the sun shone on the waking city and almost converted me to a morning person (Hah, you know how unlikely that’d be). The bus dropped us at the Caltrain station and Uber picked us up before we even stretched out our rested bodies! Everything feels closeby in San Francisco and in minutes we arrived at the Hilton SF Union Square – a hotel I’m super familiar with thanks to my Team In Training (TNT) years.  Though they aren’t the most hipster or historic place in town to rest your head, they consistently provide a comfortable experience that seems upgraded from the price paid (especially with their renovated rooms). Feels like dropping in for a visit with a long-time friend!  What cinched our future return was letting us check in 8 hours early! Thank you!

hotel

Despite our welcome middle of the night snack from the roadside rest stop, we arrived to San Francisco hungry for adventure …and breakfast!  Wanting to set the tone for the weekend, and to fuel us for the day, we chose another favorite from my TNT days, Sear’s Fine Food

The moment you enter, you step into your grandparents’ era for some unconditional love delivered in a heaping serving of delicious warm food. With our bellies and hearts filled up, we left for our first adventure… except nothing was open yet. So we went to the hotel to plot our course, unpack, watch TV…

Two_hours_later_in_Squidtastic_Voyage

THRILL OF A NEW RIDE
While the kids power napped, I navigated and doubled back cross-checking the Cable Car routes to deliver us to all of our desired locations. We opted for a single-day pass immediately opening up our access to the city. I purchased our tickets while the kids watched the city’s tradition of re-directing the cable car at the turn about.  We hoofed it 2 blocks to the next stop up from there (where 10 people stood in line vs. 100s at the turntable). For the first leg of our trip we jumped onto the outside of a crowded cable car and held on!  My daughter told me later that she got nervous – not that she’d fall off – that other people wouldn’t get out of the way.

One of the most memorable visuals of the city flashed briefly at the change between the Powell-Hyde and California lines as we looked downhill through the city.

Alcatraz is first on our list for next time!

OFF TO EXPLORE – AH, TOUR – EE, YUM!
One parental benefit allows us to run alongside our kids, watching the world through their curious eyes, bright with wonder.  At the Exploratorium, everyone’s minds expanded and repeatedly blew as we flew from exhibit to exhibit, squealing like loudly deflating balloons!  Each new stop offered fascinating exhibits where you learn by interacting with the exhibit! This museum encouraged touching or climbing into and through exhibits!  My daughter’s and my favorite experience deprived us of our sight as we traversed through a maze in complete darkness. As a pair, we relied primarily on touch and sound while traveling through the Tactile Dome (slight additional, but highly recommended fee).  She turned out to be an amazing leader providing step-by-step directions as to what challenge I would find next.  My son’s favorite challenged him to learn Morse Code – harder than it looked considering it’s only dashes and dots! Totally exhausted though only getting a fraction of the experience done, we finally broke for dinner!

PEPPER MEAL WITH HISTORY
As a divorced mom, I haven’t shared a lot of their Dad’s and my history. At first I lacked an age-appropriate answer for their innocent questions, “So if you had fun, why’d you break up?” Later, out of respect for his new wife, and largely because I’d boxed them all away, wrapped in impenetrable box in my self. 11 years later, I realize that the generic statement “Even though we’re no longer together, you were created from love.” doesn’t carry weight if I don’t sometimes share proof.  Their Dad and I enjoyed The Stinking Rose restaurant a few times both here and the one in LA. One thing we actually agreed on was that only the SF one seasons the experience with a mythical bohemian feel – being that it’s the original location.  Also, honestly, this restaurant wouldn’t have teased my palate without his family’s cooking. The first time they opened their door, a rush of garlic took my breath away! The rest is history.


WALK RIGHT DOWN THE STREET
After dinner, though absolutely stuffed, we desired something light but sweet.  We calculated the distance we needed to walk to make enough room for Gelateria Naia (who are we kidding – there’s always room for gelato)! My kids stuck with classic flavors of mango, coffee and chocolate chip (though not all together).  They featured a whiskey flavor I’d never encountered before that blended smoothly with chocolate – the recipe for the perfect evening nightcap. 

I SPY… SOMETHING GOLDEN
The next morning, after we slept in a bit, we hunted for a meal large enough to rush us through the day and sustain us until we got on the bus to relax for the ride home to Los Angeles.  Originally, we went fishing for a fish and chips truck, but, they weren’t open when our stomachs started growling at us. The mist of the heavy fog led us straight to Tarantino’s Restaurant on the pier promising a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top floor (talk about multi-tasking when on a limited timeframe).  The kids laughed at the names of boats in their slips, communicated telepathically with seagulls begging for the kids’ fries through the scenic glass window, and squinted to find the bridge through the fog. We raved about the crispy golden seafood (lightly battered and fried, without any recognizable fish features).  


LIKE KIDS IN A CANDY STORE
As we exited the restaurant, the bright red logo of Rocket Fizz served as a beacon from across the street.  My son’s sentimental side insisted that we go “support the company” so that they don’t go out of business (I doubt there’s any danger of that, he’s still sore we lost the location in Westchester). Your sweet tooth compels you to stop the next time you pass near this store. It offers many childhood or jumbo-sized favorites and hard-to-find imported candies.

WTF: WEIRD, TOTALLY FUN!
Headed towards the Pier, we pulled inside a doorway to briefly to plot our course …and never left.  We’d stepped through a door into the most fantastically freakish place – Musée Mécanique!  This features the personal collection of Edward Zelinsky’s arcade games, and other mechanical wonders, collected from 1933 on (though some originated from decades earlier).  This collection felt slightly unsettling only because we had no idea what to expect (or was it the large clown at the entrance). Uneasiness immediately yields to exponential levels of excitement as you discover each new relic from a player piano, to old-time picture machines, to Space Invaders and a steam motorcycle.  We completely fell into this parallel universe, lost track of time, and wish we could have stayed longer.
 

MY NEW PERSPECTIVE
After a relaxing and a more spacious ride home (less people on the bus so each person could take a row of seats), we returned home from vacation refreshed, a little exhausted from our adventures, and with new perspective.  Our Three-thumb review is 3 tired thumbs up.  My tween daughter loved the unique challenge of the Tactile Dome and a new appreciation for her vision. My teen son left for San Francisco believing that one beach town resembles the next one. He returned with an appreciation for the history and the varied terrain (and we didn’t even visit the largest or curviest hills) of Northern California.

I caught a glimpse of my children and how they treat each other when mom’s not around thanks to the water fountain experiment in the Exploratorium. It featured back-to-back water fountains and two buttons on each side: SIP or SQUIRT. Each sibling simply pressed one button and if they match, it happens, if it doesn’t match, it cancels each other and nothing happens.  I fully expected to need to buy new dry clothes, or that they’d cancel each other out.  My heart grew when I witnessed my kids gently lowering their heads (and dare I say they were both a little bit surprised) to get a sip of water.

I found out AFTER we got back that if we purchased a CityPASS for our trip it would have reduced my time researching fun destinations AND saved us money! San Francisco’s CityPASS offers two options: 1 booklet of 5 attractions, or one booket where you choose 3 out of 8 attraction choices.  (Note: This is an affiliate link which means if you purchase the CityPASS not only will I be super excited for your upcoming adventure, but I earn a little bit of change towards my next CityPASS purchase – at no extra cost to you!)

If you want even more detailed reviews on each place we visited, check out the Yelp Reviews. Plus subscribe to check back when we update the list after future roadtrips!

Follow the blog to see where we go next!

What about you?
What is your favorite San Francisco gem?
What do you do to save your sanity on trips?
How do you remain present and not skip ahead to the next destination?
What changes in perspective do you encounter while traveling?
How often do you travel with your kids vs. on your own?
Where are you off to next?
Where should we go next?

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