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?

EATING OUR WAY AROUND THE WORLD WITHOUT LEAVING LOS ANGELES

Why do you travel? 

  • To get away from the daily grind?
  • To spend quality time with others?
  • To invest time in, and transform, yourself?
  • To learn about other cultures, flavors and traditions? 

My friends Christina, Marsha, Patty and I (and occasionally a special guest!) found a way to do all of the above during those in-between days while waiting for our vacation days to refill. We challenged ourselves to eat our way around the world without leaving Los Angeles! 

LA offers so many cultures living alongside each other. With our two-fold goal, we aim to learn about different parts of the world and different parts of LA at the same time. We drool in anticipation for each new restaurant, and also the quiet time to hang together.

We’ve filled a bowl with names of all the countries we could think of. We meet monthly to draw a piece of paper out to determine which country’s cuisine we will visit.  On occasion, we already know of a good spot. We often still do a bunch of research online if we need other suggestions.  

One of the best parts of travel comes from the anticipation of the upcoming trip! So it’s fun to look forward to our dinner for a few weeks before gathering for a wonderful meal together. In many cases, we just eat. A few times we paused long enough to wander around the neighborhood visiting nearby businesses, street vendors and open air markets! 

So far our itinerary has taken us to:

ITALY
Cantalini’s Salerno Beach Restaurant in Marina Del Rey
Marsha summed this spot up in one word: Sumptuous!  Truly a feast with so many courses – salad, pasta, shrimp and fish! We drank great wine and enjoyed the fantastic family pictures and local location!  We made mental notes to return with family!

PERU
El Pollo Inka in Hermosa Beach
Patty and I frequently visited this spot before we drew the name from the bowl. We loved the amazing grilled meats, Christina had a slow-cooked osso buco. The live music set the tone and the newly redone interior was beautiful!  

JAMAICA
Donna’s Home Caribbean Restaurant in Hawthorne
This cozy little spot felt like eating in the kitchen of a family relative. Though a small spot, the flavors were big! The jerk seasoning brought my favorite combinations of seasonings and the juices were delicious!

SOMALIA
Banadir Somali Restaurant in Inglewood
This restaurant, too, felt like we’d stepped into a friend’s home. When we arrived, a bunch of friends sat at a table watching a game. We asked the chef what he recommended and we eagerly upon a platter!  Patty pointed out how awesome it is that we four seem to be on the same page, often eager to try the same things, or a variety offering.  This platter of meats including chicken, beef, goat and lamp became Christina’s favorite! Great place to feed all of our growing teenaged (and older) kids!

KHAZAKHSTAN
Shamshiri Grill in Westwood
This spot had such a beautiful interior and the entertainment centered on a delicious view of the kabobs being fired on the grill! I surprised myself by liking goat – again – though I settled on shrimp curry. The cherries in the rice were an unexpected dimension for rice that I loved! 

DIM SUM
Ocean Seafood in Downtown LA
When we drew Dim Sum from the fish bowl all four of us were the most excited we’d been to date! We got there early and got right in, the carts began circling like chuck wagons and we covered the table in plates.  A few times Christina found herself saying “That looks interesting!” (We’ve all said that at some spot.) It was cool to try vegetarian options on a few
dishes

EL SALVADOR
Paseo San Miguel in Los Angeles
Marsha suggested this restaurant based on the crowds she saw anytime she drove by. Now that we’ve eaten there, we know why. This spot leaped into the leadership spot with many of us in the group! Patty even went back with her family the same weekend and I’m looking for the opportunity to do the same.  Again, like with the Somalian restaurant, they offered a large platter of food with fish, shrimp, sausage, chicken, and beef. We also ordered four different pupusas and a plate of plantains and beans. We ate so much we were stuffed – hurt so good!

We’ve only just embarked on this journey and we look forward to the next destination – that we will draw in a few weeks!  I’m looking forward to trying Ethiopian! I already know I love Spanish and Armenian food and can’t wait to share it with the gals.  Marsha looks forward to Korean food (as do I). Christina wants us to hurry up and get to Brazilian food – I may already know the perfect place!

This was a test run at work when they hosted an African buffet and we tried Chakalaka!

We’ve also made it our mission to try some American foods that may vary by region – Patty suggested starting with BBQ. Marsha can’t wait to sink her teeth into Memphis BBQ and I look forward to trying Texas BBQ!

I love that I might show up with the stress of the workweek or living with teenagers but between the food and friendship, they quickly point me in another direction and my stress melts away.  So, don’t wait! Gather a partner or a group and get an interest group or club started! Whether it’s for dining, crafts, travel or to start in on your bucket lists, as Marsha would say: Get out and get to it!  

What about you?
What book or film transported you the farthest?
Have you ever picked your next vacation destination based on how beautiful it looked on the big screen? Or from a dish you ate?
What bucket list item could you check off your list tomorrow?
What country has your favorite food or dish?
Do you belong to any clubs with your friends? Dining, Book, Travel, etc? 

#EatOurWayAroundTheWorldLA #yelpla #yelp #Girlfriends #GNO #losangeles #dinner #lunch #happyhour #eatourwayaroundtheworld #lafoodie #foodie #Africa #Italy #Peru #Jamaica #Italy #Khazakstan #Somali #restaurant #restaurantweek #makesmewander

YOU WENT WHERE? MY FAVORITE COFFEE MEMORIES

Please note that the cityPASS links are afflinks meaning I’ll get paid a few pennies towards my next dream vacation at no extra cost to you. I am only including the pass for towns I’ve visited and would love to return to with a cityPASS

Some people’s favorite memories bubble to the surface after seeing an outfit worn, hearing music played, smelling a familiar scent or feeling a season come around again. Many of my favorite memories (no surprise) center around coffee! 

I am the reigning champion Most Caffeinated Mom of my domain. I absolutely drink coffee to ensure that I can stay up later than my teenagers. No falling asleep on the job here. However, I also legitimately love to try different coffee flavors like one might try and savor fine wines (that post coming soon…).

The best part proves to be the town I’m in, or the company I’m with, even if I’m alone. For some of the towns, I sipped while skimming cityPASS info – sizing up my options and discounts for other nearby activities!

Take time to brew a cup, warm up a friendship or simmer on memories! I appreciate you indulging me with a few of my coffee highlights…

BIRD ROCK COFFEE ROASTERS 
Del Mar
Sometimes Moms just need to get away. I rented an Air BnB for the first time and headed out for a solo weekend (sort of – my son and his pals were staying in a beach house so I stayed close in case of emergency and to throw food at them one night). Mentally, it helped me begin to admit that he’s about to leave home and gotten more independent! 

The vibe here felt peaceful starting with the barista’s gratitude journal that you’re encouraged to add to, to the amazing view of Los Penasquitos Lagoon and Torrey Pines State Reserve. The wide open spaces helped breed large ideas!

The SoCal cityPASS has multiple San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles attractions and so many various options for you to choose from to plan your perfect visit! 

CAFE DEMITASSE
Santa Monica
After a fast-paced morning playing cars with my friends – real friends and real cars – they raced off to their next amazing destination. Since I didn’t feel ready to downshift yet, I wandered around walking to the pier, down 3rd street Promenade and found this spot.

The specialty drinks drew me in with ingredients I don’t usually see in a latte. When they made my chamomile strawberry latte, the sprinkle of strawberry brightened my morning! I can’t wait to go back!

This beautiful latte is located in a town many people visit when touring SoCal cityPASS attractions!

THE COFFEE HOUSE AT DISNEYLAND HOTEL
Anaheim
Another sign that my kids continue to grow and mature – they now just need me for a ride to Disneyland Resort but don’t me to go with them. I remember walking in those shoes when I grew up so I gladly spent the day exploring Downtown Disney and the many resort hotels until they exhausted themselves.  I’ve been a huge believer in Disney magic ever since my first tour of the park when I worked there during college.

Many surprises hid in every corner of the Diesney properties.  I found the coffee house while wandering through the festive property trying to see what was new. The coffee satisfied my craving but the magic appeared in the themed Snow White’s apple pastry.

Yes! Even Disneyland is part of the SoCal cityPASS!

COPA VIDA
Pasadena
This place felt productive – like important and creative work and conversations took place daily. It felt important that I finally caught up with a friend of over 22 years! I could not remember the last time we caught up without our families.

I ordered a turmeric latte. Is that even coffee? I think so?! It mixed steamed milk with turmeric and espresso. It felt very smooth with just a bit of spice. The anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric made it good for me too.  

Though a little out of the way, you are able to visit this coffee shop when on your way to the Los Angeles stops of the SoCal cityPASS!

GRAND CENTRAL STATION
New York
We did a whirlwind trip to the East coast as my son narrowed down college choices. Not only did it feel fantastic to make it to and pass through such a famous, historic building, but we navigated the trainlines, got tickets and filled the remaining time in line to buy snacks and coffee.

The kids preferred to ride in their own section of the train leaving me in my own little world for our long 2-stop train ride.  We enjoyed that campus and the East coast vibe but he landed at a West coast school for college.

When visiting the City that doesn’t sleep, the New York cityPASS gives you the option of visiting the top 6 NYC attractions, or to choose 3 out of 11 attraction options!

HEARTHSTONE LOUNGE AT DISNEY’S GRAND CALIFORNIAN
Anaheim
I love the network of Korean adoptees (KADs) that I’ve found in recent years. A few of us met in Downtown Disney to discuss things like first trips back to our birth country, birth searches.  I met one gal in San Francisco at the AKA | IKAA conference and they met since they found out they were related. We’ve definitely opened cans of worms by doing DNA – I look forward to see who comes forth. 

The Grand Californian offered one of my favorite places to hang for a while. Feels relaxing sinking into their sturdy but comfortable chairs! The cast members quickly spotted us and took my order. The latte cup, and my company, filled me with warmth!

With the SoCal cityPASS you can choose 2-5 days at the Disneyland Resort and the more days, the less the tickets cost!

LOFTY COFFEE CO.
Encinitas
My childhood friend – well, family by friendship who fits in as our 4th sister in our family (she’d be the oldest and we’re all still 4 years apart) – came to visit!  Since it’d been many years since she last visited, she wrote a short bucketlist and I could not wait to travel as much as I could with her.

We started in Encinitas at my folks’ beach house. We started exploring the charming stores up and down PCH – beginning at the Lofty coffee shop!  It felt like the local hangout, the corner coffee shop where you would find all your fastest made friends.

Take a ride up the coast to drive from the San Diego Zoo to Carlsbad’s Legoland visiting the best SoCal cityPASS attractions! Fill your lungs with sea air and your heart with latte love!

SCALA’S BISTRO AT KIMPTONS SIR FRANCIS DRAKE HOTEL
San Francisco
I flew to to Northern California for a book reading of the anthology that I contributed a story to: Mixed Koreans: Our Stories. Though many of the Korean Adoptees stayed together, I chose to stay closer to where I feel my heart in San Francisco – Union Square.

First of all, they greeted me with free brewed coffee in Scala’s. Instantly won me over! As I stepped down into the cafe, I couldn’t help but stare at the beautiful, lofty ceilings with my mouth wide open.  It immediately set a classic but casual tone with amazing views of the city through its huge front windows! As I sat, sipping my coffee, it absolutely convinced me to come back to grab coffee and croissant for the next leg of my travel. Perhaps next time I’ll have enough time for a real meal.

Structured like the NYC version, the San Francisco cityPASS allows you to either choose the pass with all 5 top San Fran hot spots or you choose 3 out of 8 hot spots for slightly less.

SEARS FINE FOODS
San Francisco
This restaurant marks many milestones in my history. I’ve sat down for breakfast with my kids, with many teams of Team In Training athletes, and with friends. As I sat down once again, I immediately jumped back in time to my other visits and also to the time when this place was built! So much history here.
 

The coffee and comfort food arrived quickly and the portions exceed the plates. Have you tried Sears? You must. 

One of our favorite attractions is the Exploratorium and tickets are available through the San Francisco cityPASS!

STARBUCKS
New York
I leaped at the opportunity to shadow the footsteps of what would be a dream job for me! Grabbed a Venti triple latte and headed to Hearst! Sadly I cannot move to New York right now but I penciled it in as part of my 8-year plan!

To be honest, the tour of O, The Oprah Magazine gave me a pep in my step over the coffee that day but I still loved the holiday flavors.

I need a week to spend in New York. It’s been so long since I visited any of the attractions, they’d be brand new now.  So glad to get a break on so many stops with my NYC cityPASS!

STARBUCKS RESERVE
Palm Springs
While in the middle of my friend’s So Cal visit bucketlist guiding me through my first mid-Century Modern Architecture Tour of Palm Springs, we stumbled upon a huge Starbucks Reserve! I had to take pause from this memorable trip traveling back in time to graduate to Starbucks Reserve.

Starbucks Reserve’s huge store blew me away. They boasted a daily menu featuring special brews and a multitude of brewing methods. I chose Sun-dried Brazil Vale Verde Estate featuring hints of dried fruit and sugar – clover brewed: Full-immersion and vacuum filtration to yield exquisite balance and body (Their words). My thoughts: It tasted about the same as always. Still cool to visit and I’d love to do a flight of coffees!

Palm Springs is a little off the beaten path from the SoCal cityPASS but if you can fit it in, I recommend it. With mid-century modern art & architecture, this desert is a real escape!

TRULUCKS SEAFOOD, STEAK and CRAB HOUSE
La Jolla
Though I grew up in San Diego, I don’t visit as often as I used to. So when I dropped in for the weekend, I felt so grateful that two of my friends made it for happy hour!  They’ve been such a source of friendship, reason, conversations and balance.  I love that we’ve gotten to know each other even better than when we walked home from 8th grade!

We arrived during happy hour and enjoyed a variety of appetizers, delicious cocktails and smooth music. But the chocolate bag dessert and fully-loaded coffee were the most memorable and beautiful together.

It’s worth it to detour through La Jolla to see native Sea Lions and amazing ocean views and experience a restaurant like this between themeparks you found on SoCal cityPASS!

WICKED SNOW
(and a few other coffees that helped me during my first trip back to my birth country!)
Seoul, S. Korea
After spending an amazing day-in-the-life with generous Korean host families who spoiled and fed us so much Korean street food, they brought me and a friend to experience this amazing dessert Mango Bingsu! It tasted like a dreamy creamy cloud! I got a simple coffee to counter the cold of the Mango Bingsu and because I took advantage of any opportunity to get simple brewed coffee while in Korea!

Around the main picture you can see how I fed my caffeine addiction while in Korea. I felt like Korea’s insta-coffee technology was more advanced than I’m used to in the USA.

HONORABLE MENTION:
MY OFFICE
Los Angeles
Every morning my office-mate and I make ritual foam for our coffee and whether I brew my coffee in the office or I brought it with me, it becomes the best part of the morning.

Now that I see the added value of my coffee ritual, I may have to figure out a way to extend this! Meet up with my friends all over for conversations and their favorite coffee (or wine)!

What about you?
What sparks the most memories for you? Sights, sounds, scents, etc.?
Do you have a favorite coffee shop or cafe?
Do you stick with big chain coffee shops or seek out independent chains?
What coffee drink is your part of the world known for?
Do you get coffee for fuel or to spark conversations?
Does the foamy coffee or the tiny espresso from my office has more caffeine?
Does anyone here drink decaf?! Speak up, I’d love to meet you!
…or do you drink tea?

There are 14 cityPASS destinations in the USA and Canada! Use them to simplify planning for your next trip! Which cities have you visited with cityPASS?

#memories #butfirstcoffee #connections #communication #lattelove #bepresent #coffee #cafe #espresso #caffeine #highlycaffeinated #begrateful #shopsmall #Disney #afflink #Canada #Disneyland #makesmewander

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

YOU WENT WHERE? CALICO GHOST TOWN (WITH KIDS)

When first planning a road trip to Vegas, I wanted to break up the drive with stops along the way.

Such a charming town with so much to discover!

During our July trip, knowing we were hours ahead of my family, we pulled off the freeway just a few minutes before Calico Ghost town to kill some time!

The landscape plucks you from now and transports you

Now this here used to be a bustling silver mining town of 3,000 people  that mined $13-20 million in silver and $9 million in borate minerals between 1881 and 1907 (silver stopped being profitable in 1897). When the mines dried up, the folks headed for the wilderness.

Townsfolk

Because we arrived early, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Calico House Restaurant. The views from their back porch hinted at other things to do while in town. Their rockers out front and the friendliness of the staff inside slowed our speed from freeways to tumbleweeds.

Town Center is the front porch of the Calico House restaurant.

With stuffed bellies, we moseyed down the road to the gold panning station!

(L) Gold! (R) Swirling slowly to get silt out and gold to stay!

Turns out this was just one of the many adventures in town.

Next time you’ll find us belly up in the town tavern

Thanks to the generosity of their new owner (the Knott’s family), there was a great deal if you planned to visit a few.


While they offer a train trip and a mine tour, we left those for the next time since we had to get back on the road to Vegas (and because my kids are still a bit apprehensive about ghosts)!


Our three thumb review is 3 thumbs waving in the air trying to find our balance in what we unanimously agree was the best surprise: the Mystery House!

Look at the angle of the door frame, kids are walking upright!

My teen son enjoyed repeatedly challenging an optical illusion that gripped our perception! I was totally floored knowing how much your mind could be tricked into believing and my tween daughter loved the extra puns thrown in to really drive that point home.

Wanna see a man eating chicken?

My teen son hinted that he felt like there wasn’t enough to do for kids his age – but I’ll counter that by saying there was a lot that we saved for next time including perusing the graveyard. Plus, I think camping near a ghost town may make teenage hearts pound!


Oh, here’s how hot the World’s largest Thermometer showed it was during our mid-July 6pm drive home.

WTF: Wow, that’s fiery! It was 119 when we arrived!

Elmer you’re next!

#ThreeThumbReviews #Baker #WorldsTallestThermometer #RoadTrip #LasVegas #Calico #Ghosttown #Silver #Mining #LongCut

YOU WENT WHERE? DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (WITH KIDS)

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!  

NATURALLY, KIDS: HUNT FOR FOSSILS AND BONES

Our neighbors always inspire us with their outdoor adventures. Where I overflow with curiosity, I lack in outdoor survival skills. Thankfully when we set out on this adventure, our neighbors gave us a few tips – wear tennies and watch the tide.

For years, I’ve wanted to explore a sea cave on the sea edge of the Terranea resort in Palos Verdes, CA. Ever since seeing Disney’s Pete’s Dragon.  I instinctually knew that Elliott retired to California.

This summer, our neighbors came home with this…

Big Boned

…proof that large creatures, dragons even, live off our coasts.

After guilt tactics that Mommy always does what the kids want to do and now it’s my turn, promises of adventure, and one of possibly the best pretzels ever at Nelson’s, my kids finally agreed to help me hunt for Elliott.

Arriving at the trailhead, their pace quickened.

Suddenly the jaded teenager leads the pack

Suddenly the jaded teenager leads the pack

The seawalls growing higher around us opened revealing a little cove.

Immediately the kids were submerged in the beauty of nature and the magic of the adventure.

Lauren, my rock collector, hunted for a treasured memento.

Please Mom, may I keep it?

Please Mom, may I keep it?

We opted to look for smaller ones.

What treasures the cove held

What treasures the cove held

Carson found one with a chain link fence in it. Knowing it came from the top of the cliffs chilled us. Lauren found unique rock formations.

Aliens or humans

Aliens or humans

The kids skipped a few.

Skip it

WTF: With True Force – skipping rocks!

The day surpassed Carson’s relaxation goal.

Recalibrating from hectic  Middle School days

Recalibrating from hectic Middle School days

The cave called us up the cliffs.

Wait for me!

Wait for me!

We stood at the open mouth.

Bom bombom bombombom bombombom... We love you too

Bom bombom bombombom bombombom…
We love you too

The tide warned us to stay out – but, Carson leaped in.

A squishy shoe for the hike back is worth this view!

A squishy shoe for the hike back is worth this view!

The tide pushed him into the cave!

Mom, it's open way up in back...

Mom, it’s open way up in back…

We gals vowed to return another time when the tide retreats.

Lauren secretly hoped he was moving in

Lauren secretly hoped he was moving in

After catching their breath in a cave and promising to not resist as hard next time I get a hair-brained idea,

We'll never doubt you again! Mark their words...

We’ll never doubt you again!
Mark their words…

we hiked back to civilization in search of cool refreshments.

Manhattan Beach Creamery:  They custom make magic there!

Manhattan Beach Creamery:
They custom make magic there!

 

With a name like that, curiosity wins, although the kids opted for standard options. While they weren’t thrilled with the flavor, it was all part satisfying our appetite for adventure!

Never met a flavor I didn't like... 'til now.

Never met a flavor I didn’t like…
’til now.

We will return to the cave and explore deeper with head lamps!  Plus we want to wander down another trail to take us closer to the bone yard.

Now, the kids can’t wait to see where we explore next.

SMURF HAPPENS! The Premiere

My kids and I rarely visit the Westside of Los Angeles. Traffic and rampant Bruins make it less-than-desirable for us. Last Sunday, we were noticeably blue because we got invited to Sony Pictures’ blue carpet premiere of The Smurfs 2! My kids didn’t grow up on the Smurfs like I did, but we loved the first movie and were thrilled to see the sequel!

Smurf Happens!

Smurf Happens!

We grabbed Lauren’s friend and set off on an adventure!

Smurfin' Street Scene

Smurfin’ Street Scene

Within a block from the parking lot, you saw Men In Black positioned at key positions along barricaded streets.  According to my friend, with Katy Perry and Britney Spears attending, the security detail was going to be a clusterfoccacia!  The first sign that we’d arrived at a premiere, not an alien invasion, was a huge Smurf melting in reverse positioned for his shining moment at the head of the blue carpet.

Where the Action Is

Where the Action Is

The street was a sea of blue laid with Smurfing custom cars,

Smurfin' Smart Cars

Smurf My Ride!  Smurfed Out Smart Cars!
I finally realize who fits in those cars!

and a Smurfing tiered cake.

My favorite Baltimore Baker - Duff!    Getty Images

My favorite Baltimore Baker – Duff!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Fans and paparazzi were already lined up warming up their flashes or their voices.

Smurfin' Tour Eiffel

Smurfin’ Tour Eiffel

I yelled to my friend and, after making eye contact, started to move towards her. The security twitched in my direction ready to pounce.  Seriously, do we look like we will body slam people to get pictures with them?

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it's startling - obviously! Really?!

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it’s startling – obviously! Really?! I couldn’t muster a smile?!

MMmmmKmaybe.

How adorable is NPH and his family?! The cutest!

Neil Patrick Harris and family (C) Getty Images/Sony

Neil Patrick Harris and family
(C) Getty Images / Sony

We waited to see celebrities inside the lobby. On the carpet, stars were moved along, but once inside, they had a moment to relax before entering the theatre. For my son and myself, the highlight was seeing various personalities and meeting a super polite kid who stars in one of my kids’ favorite shows!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

For the girls, tchotchkies, ushers with bottomless boxes of treats, a Smurfing Happy Meal with 2 toys plus chocolate milk was more valuable than free-flowing champagne.  Then came the Staff lanyards!  With the power of executives flowing through them, the youngsters could stand in the lobby where they wanted, ignore the wishes of security, and walk the blue carpet!

WTF: Wave towards Faces The power of the lanyard!

WTF: Wave towards Faces
The power of the lanyard!

Seeing the film before it opened, star-gazing and being thrown in with such a creative crowd was such a fun experience for us all!  Bonus:  Finally knocked a big item off my 101 in 1,001 list!

Grandma Perry's shirt was classic:  I've got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!  Check out the blinged out cane too! (C) Getty Images / Sony

Grandma Perry’s shirt was classic:     I’ve got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!
Check out the blinged out cane too!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy! Love them!

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy!
Love them!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

See you next time Katy!  Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch "Part of Me!"

See you next time Katy!
Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch “Part of Me!”

YOU should start a blog too…

WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: