Not Very Scary Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. Recipes with Dole

This is a sponsored post. I am an official ambassador for Dole. Dole provided me with compensation for my time. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Dole Food Company has called upon Mike, Sulley and the rest of the gang from Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, to help kids (and their parents) learn more about fruits and veggies that they still find scary. Dole’s “Fruit and Veggies Don’t Have to Be Scary” initiative includes 10 exciting, character themed original recipes using fruits and veggies that may look scary to some. Brussels sproutsartichokeshorned melondragon fruitstar fruitkiwiplantains and a host of other commonly misunderstood fruits and veggies are the stars of these recipes.

Read to the end for a super fun GIVEAWAY!!!!

Plus, right now, shoppers can find images of Mike Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan from Pixar’s Monsters, Inc., on millions of DOLE® Bananas and Pineapples in supermarkets throughout North America!

Dole new character recipes that incorporate “scary” produce are not only super fun, but yummy too! My kids and I made the Mike Wazowski Fruit Stack recipe – Mike is one of our favorite Monsters, Inc. employees. He came alive on the plate thanks to DOLE® Kiwi and Pineapple slices arranged with horned and honey dew melon. Dragon fruit and a dried blueberry become Mike’s eye.

We really enjoyed making this recipe together. The kids especially liked tasting new fruits that they’ve never had before. Lets just say they gobbled down the dragon fruit!

Check out this fun little video on how to make your own Mike Wazowski Fruit Snack!

Yummy Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. Recipes

Here are some more of the Dole original, Not-Very-Scary recipes inspired by Pixar’s Monsters Inc. and Monsters University characters. Although, all 10 look great, these ones especially caught my eye.

Chicken Stuffed Roz Heads – Create the face of the iconic Monsters, Inc. receptionist by topping DOLE® Avocado halves stuffed with lean chicken breast, DOLE® Green Grapes, DOLE® Celery and nonfat Greek yogurt with pretzel twists and sticks, and DOLE® Strawberry and Blueberry slices.

Green Slimesicles – Dessert time takes an icky-but-tasty turn with these healthy frozen popsicles made from DOLE® Spinach, Bananas and Pineapple.

Monstropolis Waffles – Mornings will never be the same with these scary-good monster versions of the breakfast classic made with DOLE®Green Plantains, Kiwi and Blueberries.

Sulley Banana Dip – DOLE® Green Apples and Red and Green Grapes are dipped in a blend of DOLE® Bananas, natural peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, dried berries and natural teal gel food coloring to give it that unmistakable Sulley hue.

Oodles of Monster Swoodles – DOLE® Sweet Potatoes or Broccoli Stems are way more fun when they are spiralized and mixed with garlic, olive oil and cherry tomatoes for a little shock value.

Don’t these recipes look great?!! I can’t wait to make them all. For more original recipes and other information about “Not-Very-Scary” fruits and veggies go to www.dole.com/Disney

Dole’s “Not-Very-Scary Monster Inc. Games and Crafts

PLUS, not only has Dole created these great Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University themed recipes, right now you can also find themed digital downloads and other family activities on Dole’s Website. Downloads such as fun printable to make your own monsters with fruits and veggies that you have at home. Get creative (peanut butter?) and stick the silly parts to the item, and then have fun eating them. Just don’t forget to remove the faces first. Who says you can’t play with your food?

Or improve your memory and have fun learning about some exotic or misunderstood fruits and vegetables with this flip game. Cut out each square and put them face down to start the game. Take turns flipping each square matching the characters and the whole fruit or vegetable with its sliced-up version. Most matched pairs wins!

Pixar Monster Inc. and Dole Prize Giveaway

Excited for the Pixar’s Monster, Inc. Recipes? I have a FUN giveaway to celebrate! One lucky reader will win a Pixar’s Monsters.], Inc. Not-Very-Scary Prize bundle featuring – a Pixar Crock Pot and more! (Retail value of $100)

Just enter via Rafflecopter below! Giveaway ends August 20, 2020. Open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!!! *This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Disney or Dole. The giveaway is solely owned, administered, solicited and operated by me.

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More Dole X Disney Recipes!

Want to check out some more Dole Disney inspired recipes? Check out this post I wrote here! 

Dole Recipes to Celebrate Disney Mickey Mouse’s 90th Anniversary

Dole Recipes to Celebrate Disney’s Frozen II

Dole Recipes to Celebrate Disney’s The Lion King

Code Ninja’s Coding Camps for Kids!

This post is brought to you by Code Ninjas®and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

For those of you who have children and were hoping to find a summer camp for them to attend, then may I suggest Code Ninjas! At Code Ninjas camps, kids get to learn how to code and have fun while building their own video games. They gain problem solving, critical thinking, and STEM skills in a fun, safe, and inspiring environment, and most of all, have FUN!  You can find week long Code Ninjas camps being hosted right here in Orange County (and at over 250 across the US for that matter), starting now and throughout the summer. 

(psst! Make sure to read to the bottom of this post to see how you can win a free workshop from Code Ninjas®)

About Code Ninjas Camps

Code Ninjas has a variety of camps available to kids ages 5 -14. You can choose from week-long, full & half day, and virtual options. It’s a fun learning experience for kids to explore topics such as game building, STEM, and robotics, and can build something awesome. Whether it’s their own video game, a flashy robot, a cool website, or a flying drone. Camps include their drop-in CREATE program, their completely visual and hands-on JR program for younger learners, camps in a variety of engaging topics like robotics and game building, At-Home Coding for creative and productive screen time, and more!

During the classes, each kids gets to work on their own computer station. They receive support from talented Code Senseis™. Since Code Ninjas is themed to martial arts, some classes allow you to earn and receive rankings with a martial arts-inspired colored belt system.

My son is so excited to attend Code Ninjas next week. He decided to join the Roblox Royale camp where he will be building his own battle royale game in Roblox. Even though he may be playing one of his favorite video games, he will also be learning skills he can take with him in the future, so it’s a win win for parents and kids.

What Steps is Code Ninjas taking to Prevent the spread of germs?

In response to COVID-19, Code Ninjas is taking many safety precautions to keep families safe, including enhanced cleaning and social distancing. Kids are required to wear a mask, all instructors will be wearing masks, and desks are spread out in the classroom 6 feet apart. Siblings are welcome to sit together. I visited the Code Ninjas Tustin location, and felt totally safe. The facility was clean and set up well for social distancing, and the staff was very professional and following protocal.

If you still feel uncomfortable taking your child to an in-person camp, many locations are offering virtual camp options.

How Can Coding Help your Child?

Coding has been called “the literacy of the 21st century”. Just like math, science, and literature, coding is a key aspect of understanding our technologically-advanced world. There’s a huge need for a generation that not only understands technology, but how it works. Code Ninjas believes that there’s never been a more exciting time to advance our culture – starting with our youngest ones.

Every kid deserves the chance to unlock their innate, unlimited capacity to learn. Whether or not they pursue coding as a career, we want to provide kids with skills that will help them pursue their dreams. Computer science majors earn 40% more than the college average, so the time is now to get our children interested in the educational part of computers.

Kids have fun, parents see results®.

How to Register for Code Ninjas

To find a Code Ninja’s camp near you or to register, head over to the Code Ninja’s website. Right now they are offering a special 10% discount off all camps for a limited time! Woo hoo.

Code Ninjas Camp Giveaway

Now is your chance to win a free Code Ninjas summer camp for your child. This summer, Code Ninjas is hosting an amazing giveaway for their Code Ninjas Camps – you can enter to win one of 100 FREE Code Ninjas Camps (in-person or virtual)!  Head over here to enter: https://bit.ly/3eaBY00

Code Ninjas is proud to support families nationwide by sharing the joy of coding through this giveaway. It’s their way of giving back to deserving families, including first responders, essential workers – everyone doing their best to cope with recent events.

Awesome Online Summer Camps for Teens and Tweens with DigiPen Academy

This post is brought to you by DigiPen Academy and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Summer is almost here and the hunt to find activities to keep the kids occupied is on! Usually summer means sending kids to summer camp, but for many of us, that is not an option. Many camps have opted not to run this year, and many of us parents aren’t sure about having the kids leave the house yet. So I have a solution for you…DigiPen Academy

(psst! Make sure to read to the bottom of this post to see how you can win a free workshop from DigiPen Academy)

Does your kid love gaming, animation, engineering, music, even web design? DigiPen Academy’s online summer programs offer elementary, middle, and high school students the opportunity to access over 40 engaging courses from wherever they are. I am very impressed in the classes that DigiPen Academy has available in creative technology for our kids…the latest trends that our kids love are taught with a career path in mind. And all DigiPen Academy classes are all taught live by skilled instructors who take a student-centered approach to their teaching.  

What programs does DigiPen Academy offer?

DigiPen Academy has one week of spring sessions left, beginning June 8. Their summer session begins July 6 and runs until August 28, 2020. Most programs have morning and afternoon sessions making it convenient to schedule around your family’s activities. Sessions run anywhere from one week to four weeks, depending on the topic.

DigiPen has a great range of programs for kids ages 6-18 years. You can choose from workshops, studio classes, and masterclasses that will further your child’s knowledge in a familiar topic or help them branch out and try something new! 

Course materials are mailed to you by DigiPen and even include the equipment you need to participate with. These materials are included in the price.

Here are some of the programs available:

  • Art Explorer Club offers guided activities for students ages 6-8 years old. Programs include Art Around the World and Exploring Art Fundamentals.
  • Workshops that explore “STEAM”-based topics such as Junior Digital GamingJunior Programming FundamentalsJunior Art FundamentalsJunior art of Manga, Web Design and Junior 2D Digital Animation. Does your child love MinecraftRoBlox3-D PrintingRoboticsDJ & Music Production, or Animation? Then you’ll be excited to see there are programs for these!
  • There are studio programs offered for students with prior experience and skills in video game developmentprogramming & software engineeringdigital art & animation, and music & sound design.
  • Masterclasses focusing on topics such as animation and film scoring that feature teachers with extensive industry experience.
  • Pre-College classes that include topics such as game designart & animationmusic & sound design, and computer science. Experience the college side of DigiPen with faculty level instructors. Students will receive a transcript and be eligible for tuition credit to DigiPen Institute of Technology.
  • For DigiPen Academy’s full listing of summer and spring programs or to register, please visit the DigiPen Academy website.
  • For more information about DigiPen Academy, email academy@digipen.edu or call 425-629-5007.

Registering for DigiPen Academy

To view DigiPen Academy spring and summer programs or to register, head over to the DigiPen Academy website. Make sure to check the tabs at the top for all of the different programs offered. 

For families who need advice on what program to sign your student up for, or who have questions about how the programs are taught online, DigiPen hosts a live weekly information session for parents. To register, please visit https://bit.ly/2Lrg2Rx

About DigiPen Institute of Technology and DigiPen Academy

DigiPen Institute of Technology has been offering students from around the world with pathways to rewarding careers in computer science, engineering, art and animation, music, and interactive design for more than 30 years. It’s college is ranked as a Top 5 Video Game Design School by the Princeton Review. DigiPen believes it is important to provide K-12 students with specialized learning experiences, and through its DigiPen Academy, has developed amazing success at the post-secondary level and beyond. They have partnered with many organizations including aSTEAM Village, Microsoft, Facebook, Museum of Pop Culture, and Pacific Science Center.

I am so excited to have my kids participate in the DigiPen Academy this year. I have three children who can’t wait to learn new skills. I have one child who wants to learn video game development, one child who will be joining the Electronic Dance Music Production & DJ Technique Workshop, and one child who is excited to do the Exploring Art Fundamentals. This is the first time that I have been this excited for a summer camp…because they will not only be having fun, but they will be learning some great skills that will help them in the future.

DigiPen Academy Workshop Promo Code

If you are planning to join me in signing your child up for DigiPen Academy, you could probably use a discount code! Get $25 off a DigiPen Academy Workshop by using promo code BDC25 at checkout.  (Expires July 3, 2020)

DigiPen Academy Workshop Giveaway

Here is your chance to win one FREE DigiPen Academy Workshop! Just enter via Rafflecopter below and one entrant will be randomly selected on June 12, 2020. Must be 18 years old and a U.S. resident to enter. Good luck!

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Best Tips for Visiting the Niguel Botanical Preserve

If you are looking for a scenic, family friendly nature experience, then the Niguel Botanical Preserve in Laguna Niguel is a great place to check out. The Niguel Botanical Preserve is 18.2-acre of beauty, situated above the amphitheater within Crown Valley Community Park (which is a great park I might add). It displays garden-worthy plants appropriate to the Southern California region. All of these plants have been collected from five areas of the world with similar Mediterranean climates. I believe that this is one of the best botanical gardens in Orange County.

Information about the Niguel Botanical Preserve

Admission to the Niguel Botanical Preserve is FREE to the public and 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. Our family went just before sunset and it was so nice. The weather had cooled down and there was still plenty of light to see the different varieties of plants and flowers.

To get to Niguel Botanical Preserve, you will want to park at Crown Valley Community Park. You can enter the preserve at multiple entrances. The easiest one to find is just above the Amphitheater. There is also an entrance at the west end, and the east end. Here is a map of the different areas of the preserve. I expect that you will find something you didn’t see before each time that you go.

While you are in the preserve, you can walk the trails and explore the different greenery. Most of the plants have markers to let you know what they are. There are also some informational boards throughout the reserve. I suggest you have the map handy, as there are no maps displayed within the preserve.

How to Enjoy the Niguel Botanical Preserve with Your Family

Here are some photos from our visit to the Niguel Botanical Preserve. There are so many trails and areas to explore that I might as well show you in pictures. There are also places with seating available to sit a relax along the way.

There are some areas of the garden that the kids enjoyed the most. This Garden Labyrinth was fun to learn about. We never knew that labyrinths are not meant to be tricky mazes, but as a way to meditate and find peace. Our whole family followed the labyrinth to the end!

Attached to the Garden Labyrinth, there is an area with this pretty gazebo. It’s located at the back of the preserve at the top of the hill. It looks like the perfect place to have a wedding although they don’t hold weddings at the Niguel Botanical Preserve at this time.

There is also a Children’s Garden at the Niguel Botanical Preserve which the kids had the most fun at. It’s located on the west side of the preserve at the bottom of the hill. It’s next to a beautiful rose garden that smells heavenly, and is flanked with royal blue arbors and topiaries. There is also a small little garden maze and butterfly artwork.

Wow! We spent almost two hours exploring. You could easily spend more, or less. There’s no amount of time that you must spend inside. It could be a short trip or a long trip depending on your schedule. We also isn’t see many people at all on our visit, so we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

I highly recommend a visit to Niguel Botanical Preserve! It makes a great adventure for all ages. The trails are very accessible, you can easily bring a stroller, and there are plenty of shade areas. If you want to bring a picnic, you can eat within the preserve or right outside in the park. As I mentioned before, the preserve is located next to the Crown Valley Community Park that has a terrific playground, splash pad, amphitheater, bike trails and sport areas. You could easily make a day out of your visit. Happy trails!

Make a Neighborhood Safari for Earth Week

This is a sponsored post.

It’s Earth Week! 🌏 We are very excited to partner with National Geographic to celebrate Earth Week by having a “Neighborhood Safari” at home!⁣ National Geographic is encouraging families across the globe to bring the wonders of the wild world to their very own neighborhoods with an Earth Day Neighborhood Safari, as a way of staying connected with both nature and each other.

The kids and I had the best time creating this Jungle Safari in our front yard so that everyone in our neighborhood could enjoy it this week. We had more fun with this activity than we have had in weeks, we really needed this time to create together as a family. We used chalk to create a jungle map with fun obstacles through our front yard, complete with monkeys, elephants, tigers, snakes and crocodiles.

Also, during Earth Week (April 17-22), NatGeoathome.com is offering some extra special programs to inspire families to celebrate the planet from home. From engaging animal videos and DIY projects, to daily live talks from National Geographic Explorers, National Geographic has set up a virtual base camp to keep the spirit of exploration and adventure strong for kids. So make sure to check those out. I am sure we all could use a dose of animal cuteness. ⁣So make sure to head over to National Geographic to check it all out.

Our Jungle Safari Obstacle Course!

Here is a video of the kids going through our entire neighborhood “Jungle Safari Obstacle Course.” Isn’t it fun?!!!

How Did We Make Our Neighborhood Safari?

We started off by searching our house for any stuffed animals that would be seen in the jungle, and placed them around the Safari obstacle course. We found some tigers, and elephant, a crocodile pool toy and a lizard.

I loved making the moneys and jungle vines. We used fabric scraps for the vines. Just ripped the fabric into strips and tied it to a long piece of twine. I found a template for this monkey online. You might recognize it from the “Barrel of Moneys game.” I cut out a bunch of them from brown cardstock. They hung so perfectly from the vines…it was so cute!

Then we made these binoculars from paper towel rolls and construction paper. First we wrapped the colored paper around each of the rolls, and then we taped them together. We used a hole punch to make a hole on each side of the binoculars, and tied on soft twine for the neck strap.

Our next stop on the Jungle Safari Obstacle Course was an Elephant Ring Toss Game. We make the elephants from random boxes we’ve been collecting. The flaps were the ears, and we glued a cardboard tube on the front to make the elephant trunks. After that, we painted everything gray and added black eyes once dried. The rings were just made from crumpled up kraft paper.

Sidewalk chalk worked perfectly to map out the jungle safari course and make different sections to enjoy to different jungle scenes. Our main scenes were the monkey vines, the tiger area, elephant ring toss, snake hurdles, crocodile swamp and snack table.

For the snake hurdles, we used pool noodles. To make the zig zag design and the eyes, we used black electrical tape. We cute the noodles with scissors to create tapered tail and head, and glued a ribbon into the hole for the tongue.

We added fun elements to make our jungle obstacle course more exciting such as “RUN!” when you get to the crocodile.

At the end of the obstacle course, I wanted to add a jungle safari themed snack table for the kids to enjoy after all our hard work. I also added water and called it the “water hole.” The kids loved all the fun jungle themed snacks, which we ate all up. We did leave some bananas, oranges and water out for our neighbors to enjoy though!

Now it’s your turn! I’d love for you to join in and design your own safari stop with your own kiddies. You can create a jungle safari obstacle course like ours, or do your own take on a neighborhood safari – decorate your front door, garage door or cars, chalk your driveway, make a bird feeder, etc. If you need some resources, head over to NatGeoatHome.com. ⁣

And please encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Wouldn’t it be cool to have your whole neighborhood participate? And be on the lookout, Nat Geo will be creating a feed of “safari art” to help bring neighborhoods all over the world together during this moment of isolation. Make sure to tag your creations on Instagram with #NatGeoEarthDayAtHome.

Happy Earth Week!!!!