Teaching Kids to Help Other Kids with Elmer’s Bag It Forward #bagitforward

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Champions for Kids.walmart-school-supply-shoppingit’s that time of year again…time to start getting ready for back-to-school. that means buying school supplies for the new school year. but did you know there are kids in our very own community that can’t afford the school supplies they need to help them thrive academically this year? there are over 16 million American children who live in poverty nation wide.

every year, my boys and i participate in Champions for Kids Elmer’s Bag it Forward program, where you gather school supplies, fill a backpack and donate them to a teacher, school, or local children’s shelter in your community. it’s something that the boys love to do, especially the shopping and picking out school supplies to give.

last year we donated school supplies to a local teacher who needed supplies for the kids in her class. this year, GigaSavvy, a local business firm in our community, invited us to help them collect supplies and backpacks for some local organizations; Helping Hands Orange County and Girls Inc. these organizations are working together to host a Back to School Supplies Drive for girls in Orange County who are in need school supplies. so yes…we are joining in.

we ran over to Walmart and picked out some of the school supply essentials…along with a backpack to put them in. the school supplies were all on sale and super affordable. $.50 crayons and glues and lots of items less than a dollar.


this year, Walmart also has these great backpacks that are filled with school supplies. they are part of the Champions for Kids’ SIMPLE Giving program. anyone can participate in the campaign simply by purchasing and donating a backpack of school supplies at your local Walmart store from July 7 - August 1. not only does it contain school supplies, but each backpack also has a coupon booklet over $50 of coupon savings! just remove the coupon booklet from the backpack for yourself and place the backpack full of supplies in the designated school bus donation bin at the store.  the money you’ll save by using the coupon booklet will pay for the backpack you donated, and your donation will help a local child.

elmers-school-supplies-dealthe boys had a lot of fun in the store, i always love sharing these special times together when we are serving others. we all feel good inside.walmart-school-suplly-dealsthen we headed over to drop them off. we know these supplies are going to help a child to thrive academically as well as creatively…as arts and crafts promote rich social interactions that help develop language skills and social cognitive abilities like understanding emotions.


you too can help kids thrive in your community! 

it’s this SIMPLE!

GATHER your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers and ask each person to bring new, quality school and crafting supplies to donate. you can assemble them into kits for classrooms or individual students, and even volunteer to help with a creative project in a classroom, day-care center, after-school program, or community organization!

LEARN about the needs of children in your community, and ask a teacher how you can share your time and resources to help kids thrive!

GIVE the supplies you have collected to a teacher, school, or local children’s shelter.

SHARE your story at championsforkids.org/share so that they can celebrate your participation and inspire others with creative ways to bond with children and provide the supplies they need to thrive! How many people were involved, and how many items did you collect? Please let them know that you are ONE of Millions who helped them reach their goal of helping 20 million children by 2020!

thanks in advance!
#BagitForward |  #SIMPLEGiving

{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are a bazillion times my own. }

Summer Ice Cream Party | Easy Homemade Ice Cream Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.


people know that i love to host parties and i like to serve fun food that looks pretty. next month i am going to have an end-of-summer ice cream party, and i have been having a lot of fun planning it.

when you have an ice cream party, you need lots of fun toppings and different ice cream flavors…and you need to have a lot on hand, because people love to pile up their ice cream sundaes with candy, whipped cream and toppings.

Smart & Final is my go to store for party shopping. it’s my secret oasis…because it has great items…not only food, but candy, drinks, unique paper goods and party supplies. and what’s great about Smart & Final is, that it carries warehouse sized items but has the feel and convenience of a neighborhood grocery store. this makes shopping easy because you can buy everything from fresh produce to bakery items in large and small sizes. and there’s NO club fee. i always find unique food and serving ware items.  i also love to shop at Smart & Final for my camping trips and family barbecues.

i was able to buy all the items i needed to make homemade ice cream and host my guests to a fabulous summer ice cream party.


i got ice cream cones, sprinkles, fresh baked cookies, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, nuts and not pictured; whipped cream, whipping cream, half & half, peaches and strawberries. these items were all a part of Smart & Final’s private label line “First Street”.best-ice-cream-toppingsby using fun serving dishes and some jelly jars, you can create a fun set-up for a summer ice cream party that is great for kids and/or adults.

ice-cream-topping-barfor the ice cream, i thought it would be extra special to make homemade ice cream. i could have bought it in bulk at Smart & Final, but i have been dying to try out my ice cream maker (that i got at our wedding 15 years ago…LOL!).easy-homemade-ice-cream-recipei started out making traditional vanilla. it turned out perfectly.homemade-vanilla-ice-cream-recipethen i added fresh strawberries to a batch of the vanilla…
homemade-strawberry-ice-cream-recipeand fresh peaches to another.

if you like other flavors, you can pretty much add whatever fruits or even chocolate syrup to the ice cream maker.  check out this great sundae!  i can’t wait to dig in.



2 cups whipping cream
3 cups half & half
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
plus…ice cream maker, ice and rock salt

in a sauce pan over medium heat, whisk the whipping cream, half & half, eggs, salt and sugar until heated through. add vanilla and mix thoroughly. place mixture in the refrigerator until chilled. once chilled, pour into ice cream maker and chill according to the ice cream maker directions. once soft ice cream is formed, place into freezer until ice cream has fully hardened. serve and enjoy! makes 8-10 servings

Strawberry Ice Cream: add 3 cups chopped fresh strawberries and a couple drops of red food coloring (optional). add to vanilla mixture before placing into the ice cream maker.

Peach Ice Cream: heat 3 cups chopped fresh peaches (4 peaches) and 1/4 cup sugar in a sauce pan until the peaches are soft. place into the refrigerator until cool. add to vanilla mixture before placing into the ice cream maker.

Chocolate Ice Cream: add 1 cup of chocolate syrup to vanilla mixture before placing into the ice cream maker.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream: add 3 cups of crushed Oreo cookies to vanilla mixture before placing into the ice cream maker.


Find more fantastic recipes at the Smart and Final Social Circular 
follow Smart and Final on social media
Twitter  |  Facebook

#ChooseSmart #CollectiveBias

{ Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are a bazillion times my own. }

A Visit to the Historic Pink’s Hotdogs in Hollywood

pinks-hotdogs-los-angelestoday is National Hotdog Day, and i thought this was the perfect time to share our visit to the historic Pink’s Hotdogs in Hollywood. i took the boys there to try some of their famous hotdogs on a visit to Los Angeles earlier this year, and we had a lot of fun.

best-pinks-hotdogs-los-angelesPink’s has been serving hotdogs in LA since 1939, as it began as a Mom and Pop hot dog stand. it all began when Paul & Betty Pink started selling hot dogs from a cart on a neighborhood street corner at La Brea & Melrose. everyone loved their hotdogs so much, that they are still serving them up today. historic-pinks-hotdogs-storyPink’s has become a Hollywood landmark and is famous around the world. it is currently operated by Paul & Betty’s family: Richard, Gloria, and Beverly, and has expanded to ten locations including Southern California, Las Vegas, and Ohio.historic-pinks-hotdogs-foodCelebrities love Pink’s too, they have been visited by many stars. from Orson Welles to Marlon Brando to Michael Jackson, Pink’s has served personalities such as Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, Betty White, Martha Stewart, Aretha Franklin and Guy Fieri. they even have been visited by celebrity chefs such as Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and Emeril Lagasse.pinks-hotdogs-celebritiesJackson was especially excited to find that Tony Hawk has visited Pink’s.historic-pinks-hotdogs-tony-hawk

Pink’s is known for its yummy variety of hot dogs, hamburgers and fries. plus…the portions are huge, and prices are affordable. i mean….check out these dogs!!!!!


Pink’s has all your favorites…and some you probably haven’t heard of before…like this
LORD OF THE RINGS DOG, a yummy BBQ sauce, topped with onion rings. $5.45

and the MARTHA STEWART DOG, relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut & sour cream. $6.75.



[Read more...]

Angel Soft® has You Covered When #SheetHappens

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Angel Soft® because sometimes #SheetHappens.
angel-soft-toilet-tissue has this ever happened to you? you’re sitting there and go to grab the toilet paper and….IT’S ALL GONE!

i can not tell you how many times this has happened in our home. i have three boys who gladly use the last of every roll of toilet paper, but never take the time to refill…and it’s mom and dad who are left sitting there #SheetOutOfLuck.

my husband just does the phone text….yes we are very tech savvy here (wink*)


but me?…i have my little helper who still thinks that helping mama out is a game.


for moments like these when #sheethappens, Angel Soft@ has you covered. their rolls have 60% more sheets than Charmin, so the roll doesn’t run out as fast, something i think everyone can appreciate. and if you are looking for a laugh, check out all of the Angel Soft® #SheetHappens videos…they re pretty funny.

here is one of them….

this week i am going to be heading over to BlogHer ’14 to do what bloggers will be do there…actually, i am not sure exactly i will be doing. but one place you WILL find me is at the Angel Soft@ Booth (#201). there i will be filming one of my most “exciting” #sheetoutofluck moments. and i would love for you to join me there, where you can meet the Angel Soft@ Team and share your own #sheethappens moments!

i also have exciting news! next week i will be host a giveaway where one of my lucky readers will win a year supply of Angel Soft® Toilet Paper. that’s a lot of toilet paper! so stay tuned.

in the meantime, follow the hashtags #SheetHappens and #SheetOutOfLuck moments online, “Like” Angel Soft® on Facebook and “Follow” Angel Soft® on Twitter, so that you can join the conversation. see you soon!

 {Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

Popsicle Blog Road Trip | Kanab, Utah

guide-to-kanab-utah-travelafter we left Zion National Park on our road trip, we continued by heading to the small town of Kanab, Utah. to travel to there, we drove highway 9 through Zion National Park and out it’s east entrance. highway 89 took us to our destination of Kanab. as we entered, we were greeted by gorgeous views that you would see in a western movie. well actually, you probably have seen views of Kanab in a western movie!!!!!

this little town is known as “Little Hollywood” because hundreds of movies and television shows have been filmed there….mostly old westerns, but there have even been movies filmed in Kanab recently.

Kanab used to be a mecca for Hollywood directors seeking beautiful western backdrops for their movies. and i can see why…the unique mountains and landscapes are breathtaking. you feel like you are back in time. and it’s untouched beauty was a welcome view, a lot different from my hometown. a few of the movies and shows that have been filmed in Kanab are: “The Lone Ranger” “My Friend Flicka” “Lassie” “Daniel Boone” “One Little Indian” “The Flinstones” and “Planet of the Apes.”kanab-utah-family-travelwe stayed in the historic world famous Parry Lodge which was the hotel for famous stars such as Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan and John Wayne. there are even signs above the room doors that will tell you which movie star has once stayed in your room. i will be sharing all about our stay at Parry Lodge in separate post.

parry-lodge-kanab-utahnow, you may not have heard of Kanab, Utah before, but you most likely have heard of the many National Parks and landmarks it is centrally located to. which makes it a great place to stay if you want to visit places like Zion, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell and more. click here to find out the many things you can do. this would make an excellent vacation that i am sure we will make in the future.

grand-canyon-hotelduring our two day stay in Kanab, we were able to enjoy some of its fantastic sights.  the Coral Pink Sand Dunes was one of the highlights of our entire road trip. so peaceful and beautiful.

coral-pink-sand-dunes-utahwe also visited the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and took a tour of it’s amazing facility nestled into 3,700 acres of scenic mountains….

best-friends-animal-sanctuary-kanab and also stopped by the Moqui Caves, a natural history museum featuring Native American artifacts.

moqui-caves-kanab-utah for some evening entertainment, we visited the Little Hollywood Movie Set Museum and check out some of the old western movie sets….little-hollywood-museum-kanaband enjoyed an authentic Chuck Wagon Dinner…..chuck-wagon-dinner-theater-kanab-utahwhere you can also enjoy a western show and be part of the action.old-western-movie-sets-kanab-utahour time in Kanab was amazing and i am still smiling from the fun we had there. it will be a place we visit again and again, as there is much to do in the surrounding areas.

kanab-utah-little-hollywood-family-travelplus, i want to return to these views again. we loved it.kanab-utah-travel-tips

and to read more about our Popsicle Adventures during our summer 2014 road trip through Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Yellowstone:

Where We Traveled
How We Traveled
Tahiti Village - Las Vegas
Denny’s and Fremont Street - Las Vegas
Cedar City KOA
Fort Zion – Utah
Zion National Park – Utah


Popsicle Blog Road Trip | Zion National Park

zion-national-park-entranceafter we left Fort Zion, we continued our road trip heading to Zion National Park which is located in Southern Utah. it was our first time visiting Zion National Park and we had no idea what to expect. driving in, we got our first views of the mountains. our car was filled with oooo’s and ahhh’s. the mountains were breathtaking.

it costs $25 per vehicle or $12 per person to walk-in to the park. since we had planned on visiting many national parks on our trip, we found that our best choice was to buy a National Parks Annual Pass (thanks for the tip Michelle from Nature Play Trips). it was $80 and would pay for itself on this trip.

you can drive into the park with your vehicle, but places to park are scarce. most people walk in and take the tram to their desired hiking spot. we learned this the hard way. we thought we could drive in, park and then hike. that’s not how it works!zion-national-park-ticketsthese park trams run up and down the road in and out of Zion National Park all day long. you can get on one at the park entrance, or at any of the stops in town. they run every 10 minutes, so it is really easy and fast to get where you want to go.utah-zion-national-park-tramafter asking the rangers and locals which trails were best for families, we headed on the tram to our first stop. we wanted to go to a spot called “Weeping Rock.zion-national-park-tram
the Weeping Rock Trail is a half-mile round trip trail that leads you to a large rock ledge that is literally weeping water! the trail is fairly easy for everyone except for the fact it is uphill. but the trail is paved, and we had no problem hiking up to the weeping rock.


when we arrived at Weeping Rock, it was breathtaking. as you looked up at the massive mountain ledge, water gently showered over us. it was beautiful and a very special experience we shared as a family. it was quiet and calm and the beauty was overwhelming.weeping-rock-zionweeping-rock-zion-utah
there was an area where the cliff over hung, and you could go under the ledge and be protected from getting wet. that is where we could look out and see a amazing view of Zion National Park.

zion-national-park-weeping-rock it’s hard to describe how beautiful it was . it was just amazing.zion-national-park-weeping-rock-trail [Read more...]

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Laguna Niguel | Giveaway

This is a sponsored post on behalf Menchie’s Laguna Niguel.menchies-laguna-hills-best-yogurtthere’s new frozen yogurt store in the OC…it’s Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Laguna Niguel...and you are going to want to try it!  it is some of the best frozen yogurt i’ve had…no joke. especially the fruit flavors, they taste so fresh.menchies-laguna-hills-frozen-yogurtplus, there are many things that are special about Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Laguna Niguel. first of all, it is owned by a fabulous father/daughter team. how cool is that! they are having a blast opening this store together, and are so excited to not only be opening a Menchie’s together, but they are also partnering with companies in the community….including the local high school’s anti-bullying program. they are donating a portion of the sales to the club. 

and at Menchie’s, you can get freshly made waffle cone bowls to put your yogurt in.

menchies-laguna-fresh-waffle-conethe team members make them right in the store….and they smell Heavenly.menchies-laguna-fresh-waffle-cones [Read more...]

Yummy Melon Spritzers | Summer Drink Recipe

This week I made my Sweet’N Low melon spritzers as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars #SweetNLowStarsEasy Melon Spritzers | Summer Drink Recipe  #mocktail #SweetNLowStars

summer! i love summer. the weather, the sun and most of all…summer fruits. melons happen to be my favorite, and sometimes i end up buying a little too many of them because my eye are bigger than my stomach. so what can you do with melons when you have to many to eat?


make Melon Spritzers!

Yummy Melon Spritzers | Summer Drink Recipe  #mocktail #SweetNLowStars

this is one of the easiest drink recipes i know. all you need to make some refreshing Melon Spritzers is melon, sparkling water (you can use plain water instead) and a few packets of Sweet’N Low. there is no added sugar in this recipe, which is great when you don’t want to add those extra calories that adding sugar brings.melon-juice-recipe

to make a Melon Spritzer, all you have to do is remove the seeds from your melon, cut it into cubes, blend it in the blender, then add water and Sweet’N Low to taste.

cut-up-watermelon-cantaloupe-honeydewyou will want to chill it before drinking, because it enhances the flavor and makes it more refreshing. also, add ice to it when you serve it. it makes the perfect treat for a hot summer day, or compliments a summer picnic. happy summer!Easy Melon Spritzers | Low Calorie Drink Recipe  #mocktail #SweetNLowStarsmelon-spritzers-drinks

5 cups of melon (watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew)
5 cups of water (or sparkling water)
5 packets of Sweet’N Low

first, remove the seeds from your melon and cut the melon into cubes. next, in a blender, place the melon and puree until smooth. in a pitcher, pour the melon puree and water and stir until combined. add the packets of Sweet’N Low. you can add more or less according to your taste. place in the refrigerator for a few hours until chilled (the colder the better!). add ice before serving. enjoy!

you can even make a single serving if you want! i found that 1 cup of water to 1 cup of melon and 1 packet of Sweet’N Low is the perfect ratio for this summer drink. make sure that it is nice a cold…that is the key to making it taste super yummy.

Easy Melon Spritzers | Summer Drink Recipe #cantaloupe #watermelon #honeydew #juice #recipe #mocktail #SweetNLowStars
to find more yummy Sweet’N Low drink recipes, visit the Sweet’N Low Beverage Page or Facebook page.

{ disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am an Ambassador for Sweet’N Low. All thoughts and opinions are my own. }





The Fresh New Look of Camp Snoopy


have you heard? Knott’s Berry Farm’s Camp Snoopy has a fresh new look!

not only has Camp Snoopy been beautified with brand new signage, a fresh coat of paint, a beautiful river flanked with flowers, it also now has a great photo op area where you can get photos with Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, a brand new Camp Snoopy theater, and THREE NEW RIDES!!!!!


all this excitement to celebrate 30 Years of Camp Snoopy.


the first new ride is called the Linus Launcher. fly on Linus’s blanket arcrossed the sky.


my boys loved this ride. you must be 42″ to ride.


next up is Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyers. a kiddie version of the swings ride.


this ride is super fun fun for the kids, and adults can ride too. being able to sit next to your kiddie is a great option, especially for the little ones.



camp-snoopy-new-ride-tree-swingthe third new ride is Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies. new-camp-snoopy-mud-buggies

bouncy car buggies that are sure to make any kids smile. just check out the cuteness of Pattie’s boys riding them.

our favorite part of Camp Snoopy was the photo area, where we got to meet and greet our favorite dog Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts Gang.

there was the cutest backdrops to take pictures in front of…just look out how fun these photos with Snoopy and the Gang are!

and the Camp Snoopy Theater is so cute now….

camp-snoopy-new-show-theateri can’t wait to see the new show on stage.

all around the new Camp Snoopy, you are going to find fun new signs, character back drops and colorful flowers throughout the camp. and don’t forget about all the other great rides. there are still all your favorite rides to enjoy.


the is even a new picnic area with picnic tables and climbing structures for a nice spot to sit down and relax. there is even a rocky river that runs through it.


and just so you can see how great the new Camp Snoopy looks….check out this great video.


{ Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I was given complimentary tickets from Giga Savvy for review purposes. }

Popsicle Blog Road Trip | Fort Zion in Virgin, Utah

Fort Zion Trading Post in Virgin, Utah. A fun stop to make on your travel to Zion National Park. #Utah #familytravel #travel #Zion when you’re on a road trip, you probably will be in the car for long periods of time. to break up those long stretches of driving, i recommend stopping at anyplace that looks cool along the way. a lot of times you will see signs promoting places to stop…or a place to get a local treat…or a historical site for the area. they don’t always end up being super exciting, but sometimes they are! it’s called exploring…and MANY times, these stops have been some of our favorite places to visit on our travels. don’t let the excuse of not wanting to get every one out of the car, or you need to get there faster discourage your decision to make stops along your route. everyone needs a break from driving and by stopping and taking a break to explore, you will probably continue your journey with renewed energy.

one of these impromptu stops we made along our road trip was Fort Zion in Virgin Utah. it is located on the side of the road just a few miles outside of west entrance to Zion National Park. it’s sort of a tourist trap….but a good one.

Fort Zion Trading Post in Virgin, Utah. #Utah #familytravel #travel #Zion

what draws you in, is the awesome little old wild west buildings and covered wagons. at least for me, it was a photographers dream with the detailed painted buildings, mountainous backdrops and perfect blue skies.


inside the main fort, there is a huge gift shop with everything you could image…from the old west to native American crafts and artifacts. there is also a restaurant that has burgers and homemade ice cream and treats that has gotten great reviews on Yelp and other websites.


my boys were very intrigued with everything, and the adventure in this stop was trying to make sure they didn’t touch anything!


you could even get your fortune told by Pappy.  my littlest boy Vann, thought this was soooo funny.

utah-fort-zion-family-fortune-telleroutside the main fort is where you find the great painted wild west buildings. to visit this area it costs $1 per person. there is also a petting zoo. you can buy carrots 3/$1 to feed them…animals such as lama, donkeys and deer.

my boys just needed to get their energy out and ran among the buildings and enjoyed the sunshine.


i had the best time taking photos of it all and taking in the beautiful landscape that surrounded Fort Zion Trading Post.

this is one of the many stops we made along our trip that we really enjoyed. it may have only been 30 minutes of our journey, but the memories of the fun we had will last forever.


read more about our Popsicle Adventures during our summer 2014 road trip through Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Yellowstone:

Where We Traveled
How We Traveled
Tahiti Village - Las Vegas
Denny’s and Fremont Street - Las Vegas
Cedar City KOA