Tips for Protecting Your Family From Fires

Thank you First Alert for sponsoring this post. October is Fire Prevention Month – practice safety in numbers to ensure your family’s super prepared too!

October is Fire Safety Month. as residents of Southern California, we are no strangers to fire danger. we experience wild fires on a yearly basis. it is important to be prepared not only for the wild fires we have here, but also in case there’s a fire in our home. so i have partnered with First Alert to bring you this post.

one year ago this month, i found myself driving as fast as i could towards my children’s school. as i drove, i could see the hill behind their school burn with sky high flames. at that time, i wasn’t sure of their safety. when fires hit our area, it’s often hard to tell how close the flames really are. on this day, the flames were so close that the school was under evacuation. i was unable to get to my kids school. luckily my friend was able to grab my kids and get them to a safe place where we could be reunited.

this is our local school during the 2017 Canyon fire.

this is a scene that us SoCal residents know so well. and this wasn’t the first time we were evacuated. we’ve been evacuated three times. in 2008, we almost lost our house.  and i am pretty sure that there will be times in the future that we’ll be evacuated again. it’s just how it is living in our area. so far, we’ve always been evacuated during the daytime, but if a fire happens to start during the night, it could be an even scarier thing. all three times the fires threatened our home, we had no warnings from fire officials to get out. the fires came to fast for them to get us out, and we had to leave on our own. if fire started at night, the only way we would know, would be our fire alarms.

October is Fire Prevention Month

what is Fire Prevention Month? Fire Prevention Month raises awareness about fire home safety to help make sure that we know how to keep our homes and family prepared in the case of a fire emergency. there’s safety in numbers, and when it comes to fire protection, numbers can make all the difference. in honor of Fire Prevention Month this October, First Alert and Super Prepared Family are encouraging everyone to practice “safety in numbers” to ensure we are “super prepared” when it comes to whole home safety.

it’s very important that the entire family be involved in home and fire safety so they know what to do in the event of an emergency. even little kids can get in on the action!

there are two things we should be aware of – fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on every level, including the basement and inside and outside every sleep area. did you know that 3 out of 5 fire deaths occurred in homes without smoke alarms. and carbon monoxide is the #1 cause of accidental deaths in America. CO is invisible tasteless and odorless that can be produced from any fuel burring device. CO alarms detect this poisonous gas and provide early warning. it’s sad to think that some of these deaths could be prevented with the proper alarms.

it’s important to practice an escape route with your family. show each member ways they can escape from a fire, including different exits from your home. make sure that everyone knows how to get out of the home and where to meet.

Alarms don’t last forever, remember to replace every 5 to 10 years (depending on the model). we decided to eliminate the need to replace batteries, and upgraded to First Alert’s 10-year sealed battery alarms. these First Alert Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are battery free, and last up to 10 years. they have a chip in them that lets you know when they need to be replaced. and just to be sure that are up to date on making sure our smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are replaced in proper time, we have put stickers on them so we know when we purchased them.

we own an RV, and it is also very important that we also have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside of it.

Important Fire Statistics

please don’t become one of the prepping you home with smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, you will be notified with an early warning in the event of a fire. fires spread quickly, and there is not a lot of time to escape so every second counts. and you cannot see, hear or smell CO.

did you know…

• Over 100 million homes in the US are not protected with smoke alarms?  fire department responds to fire every 24 seconds.

• 3 of every 5 home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with 0 working smoke alarms.

• 40% of homes do not have a single CO alarm

• Carbon Monoxide poisoning is the #1 cause of accidental deaths in the US. Every year there are 80,000 CO incidents.

these facts and statistics show the importance having the proper protection in your home. Fire Prevention Month is a great time to make safety a whole family affair. check out this fun little video about fire safety, and go check your fire detectors. we don’t want our family to become one of the statistics.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Family Dinner Fun at Mainplace Mall

if you have kids, then you probably have experienced the struggle that comes with taking them to a restaurant. i had finally gotten to the point in life with my boys, that going to restaurants with them was fun again. but now that Dani has come along, things are back to crazy! taking a two year old to restaurants isn’t fun at all. so we decided to try a family dinner night at Mainplace Mall since we heard it had been renovated to be more family friendly.

if you haven’t been to Mainplace Mall in a while, then you will be surprised when you go. they have done some great things in the mall, all towards making your family, food and shopping experience better.

there are a bunch of great family restaurants, and outside, Mainplace has created lounge areas with lawn games, plants, lights and music, to make waiting for your table enjoyable. and although there wasn’t a wait for dining at all, the kids had so much fun playing and running around. no fighting, great weather, nice music and a fun atmosphere started our dinner experience right.

on this evening we decided to try out Applebee’s, because we’ve never been to an Applebee’s before. it is a very family-friendly restaurant, with great kids meal options, a relaxed atmosphere, video/game pads for the kids to play and more.

having a family with kids ranging in age from teen to baby, it’s not always easy to find a restaurant to please everyone in the family. but we were able to find food that all the kids enjoyed, and including the parents. some of the things i liked about Applebee’s were the meal deals. they have a bunch of different deals where you could get an appetizer, side and entree for around $12-16, they also had couple deals where you could get two meals and an appetizer for around $20. the kids meals all come with drinks, and there was a little bit of everything on the menu.

after dinner, we headed into the mall to check out some of the improvements. a lot of changes have been made, and stores are being added. just think, the more people who come, the more stores will come, and the better Mainplace Mall will be. i totally see the potential. i was happy to see a lot of my favorite children’s clothing stores.

i was please to find two large family lounges with bathrooms, nursing rooms, changing tables, microwaves, televisions, game boards and couches. if your a parent, then you know how helpful this can be.

finally, we headed down to the first floor of Mainplace to check out the kids place area…

and we also rode the train!

i enjoyed my time Mainplace so much, that i brought back Dani the next week for some mommy and me time. the mall isn’t crowded and there are lots of things to enjoy, there are brand new art murals, and a big food court that have a dining area for families…including kid sized tables. and did you know that there is a movie theater in Mainplace?

yes, Mainplace Mall has changed for the better, and we can’t wait to see what else is instore for this mall. don’t be afraid to check it out, and be sure to go online to find out when they are having special events. there are many fun family friendly events that are being offered free to the public. way to go Mainplace!

Apple Picking in Oak Glen

Fall in Orange County means apple picking time. heading into apple country is one of the rare times us Orange County folks can get a slight glimpse on one of the four seasons. for our family, we have always gone apple picking in Oak Glen…and now we take our kids. it holds a lot of memories for me when i was a child, and i hope it will for my children as well.

(get ready for a super long post. i get asked so many questions about apple picking in Southern California that i wanted to include everything i know about Oak Glen.)

Oak Glen is a five mile loop of apple orchards and family owned restaurants and shops, nestled one-mile above the city of Yucaipa in Southern California. it hosts scenery like that of New England. it’s just over an hour drive from Orange County without traffic. the mile-high climate of Oak Glen provides a beautiful change of season, unsurpassed in Southern California – where its usually 10-15 degrees cooler than it is in the valleys. although Oak Glen is open all year round, the main Apple Harvest takes place Labor Day Weekend through Thanksgiving Weekend. the sooner in the season you go the better!

Oak Glen Apple Orchards

there are some main apple orchards that are family friendly and offer fun fall activities in Oak Glen. you can check out all the information for all of the apple orchards and businesses in Oak Glen here. people tend to find their favorites and go to the same ones year after year. there are unique things about all of them, but lots of similarities. i have found prices for apples, ciders and food are comparable at all of them. you can get apples, cider, baked goods, and food at all of them.

here is a list of some of the main apple orchards:

Snowline Orchard has a variety of fun & exciting activities, including raspberry picking, wine tasting and more. there’s a beautiful picnic area with historical buildings, the oldest Italian chestnut tree and mini apple cider donuts which a must when you visit Oak Glen. they don’t offer apple picking, but you can get plenty of fresh apples and cider. they also have a really neat farm store with artisan balsamics and oils, local honey, unique gifts, and farm made wine and hard cider.

Riley’s Los Rios Rancho is a favorite of our family’s. it offers cider pressing, live music, a country kitchen with fresh bbq and picnic foods including corn, cider floats and apple pie. in the market store you can taste apple cider, hard cider and apples. there are also beautiful nature trails, a petting zoo and miniature farm, wagon rides, tractor rides, and horse back rides.  on the North Side of the farm (closest to Wilshire’s peak) you’ll find…a corn maze, u-pick fruits, popcorn and vintage soda cart and tractor drawn hayrides.

Riley’s Apple Farm offers heirloom apple picking, blackberry picking, corn picking, pumpkin picking, cider pressing, and kids activities on the weekends. activities include archery, tomahawk and knife throwing. on weekends during apple season, Sharon’s Country Store has barbecued chicken apple sausage, hot dogssub sandwiches, cider floats, fresh raspberry shakes, ice cream, and high-top apple pie.  Also sub sandwiches, cider floats, fresh raspberry shakes, ice cream, and lots more!  and don’t forget to get a fresh hoecake (a tasty, historical treat – a cornmeal pancake with a topping) cooked fresh over the fire on the lawn!

Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard offers heirloom apple picking, cider pressing, gemstone panning and kids activities at their kid’s craft station on the weekends. activities may include rag dolls, candle dipping, and birdhouse decorating. the have a snack bar, farm stand and marketplace.

Rileys Colonial Farm is a living history farm and offers history education and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. you will find people dressed up in period clothing and sharing historical demonstrations. you can pick-your-own fruit including apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, Ollalieberries, pumpkins and a small crop of peaches. make sure to check their website for availability. visit the dinner theatre, and enjoy a historically-themed overnight stay.

Law’s Cider Mill & Ranch is a smaller stand that offers fresh cider, apple butter & preserves, Oak Glen grown apples, ornamental corn, squash & gourds. they have a historical coffee shop that serves breakfast and lunch daily. there you will find a year-round Christmas room, gift shop and collectables.

Moms Country Orchard offers pesticide-free apples and other produce in the area. they also offer a great selection of jams, jellies, honey, preserves, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Moms will ship items to you or for you, just go online!

Apple Picking in Oak Glen

there is something exciting about walking into and apple orchard and picking your own apple of the tree. for some reason, kids enjoy food that they harvest themselves better than if you give it to them. there are a few orchards left in Oak Glen that offer U-pick apples. the different orchards offer different varieties of apples, so if you are wanting a certain kind of apple, check out their websites first to see what they have available. the orchards in Oak Glen that offer apple picking are – Riley’s Apple Farm, Riley’s Los Rios RanchoRileys Colonial Farm and Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard.

when you get to the orchards, you check into the farm stand and get a bag for your apples. the apples are sold by the pound, so you need to purchase what you pick. prices vary according to market price. we ended up paying between $3.00 – $3.50 per pound. most orchards will have a guide run you through the process of how to pick apples without damaging the trees, and then let you into designated areasvto pick the apples.

Apple Cider Donuts at Snow-line Orchard

if you like hot, fresh apple cider donuts, you need to make a stop at Snow-line Orchard. you get 12 mini donuts per pack and they are so yummy! even if you go to the other orchards to pick apples and such, stop at Snow-line to get the donuts. they run just under $5 for 12 mini donuts.

Press Your Own Apple Cider

one of our favorite activities to do when we go apple picking is pressing our own apple cider. although it costs slightly more than the pre-made gallons of apple cider, the experience is really fun for the kids.

first, they get to fill up a 5 gallon bucket with apples and then wash them. once they are clean, the apples get fed into the apple cider press. once they are all crushed, it’s time to press the cider. the crank gets tightened and rotated until all the juice is pressed out of the apple chunks. then the juice is strained and poured into a gallon jug…READY TO DRINK! an boy is it good. the apple cider will last up to two weeks…but if your family is anything like mine, it will be gone much faster than that.

here are some pictures of our family pressing apple cider in Oak Glen.

U-Pick Berries in Oak Glen

if you want to pick berries, peaches, corn, or flowers in Oak Glen, i highly suggest going earlier in the season. in fact, the berry picking begins closer to July. check the websites of the different orchards to see what is still available and how the harvest is looking. Riley’s Apple Farm, Riley’s Los Rios Rancho and Rileys Colonial Farm’s offer berry picking.

this year we decided to pick raspberries and had a fun time. though, we were surprised at how much work it was to fill a little basket. it made us appreciate being able to have them already picked for us. it definitely was a great experience for the whole family and the berries were really yummy.

Food and Activities in Oak Glen

you go to Oak Glen for the apple food and apple picking, but there are also lots of fall activities happening from Labor Day through Thanksgiving. if you go to each of the websites listed above, you can decide which activities you would like to do, and find out which orchards offer them. also be sure to check out the special events happening on the different weekends.

hayrides, horseback riding, corn mazes, sunflower fields, kids crafts and more are offered at different orchards throughout Oak Glen.

and don’t forget about the food!

most of the orchards have farm stands and stores that have tons of baked goods and apple goodies, some have their big bbq’s going with tri-tip and pulled pork cooking. you can also taste jams and jellies and buy different varieties of apples.

Oak Tree Village

Oak Tree Village is a little village at the top of the Oak Glen loop that has shops, museums, restaurants, a petting zoo, carnival booths, and more.

we continue to make a stop here year after year because of the memories i have of going when i was a child. however, i feel the need to say that it is very over-priced nowadays. i don’t recommend buying your food here, as the prices are much better at the individual orchards. it’s fun to walk through, but we usually skip the attractions. i remember when the petting zoo was a $1.00, now it costs $6 per person. however…it is a fun little zoo. and i have to admit, the animal museum is pretty cheesy…but go if you like taxidermy. we passed.

i do recommend getting a pie or a bakery item at the village. they have some yummy mile-high pies and apple turnovers. i have found that the pies at all the orchards run around $16.00, so it almost doesn’t matter where to buy them. but i like the pies here the best. the candy store is also fun to check out. so many apple choices.

finally, if you are wondering about the cost involved with visiting Oak Glen, i am here to tell you that almost everything costs money. the activities, apple picking, and of course the food. if you are wanting to visit on a budget, i highly suggest bringing a picnic and just buying a few apple goodies to enjoy. bring plenty of water, as it tends to get hot. you can visit all the orchards for free and enjoy the beautiful scenery, you can also taste test apples and apple cider for no charge.

my must-dos for Oak Glen are: Pick a bag of apples, press a gallon of apple cider, get a bag of apple cider donuts, take a nature hike at Riley’s Los Rios Rancho and buy an apple pie. if i get to do that each year at Oak Glen i am happy. all else is just icing on the cake….and apple cake that is!

hopefully with these tips, you can enjoy your own stay at Oak Glen. what i love most about Oak Glen is that you will find so many different activities and varieties of food in the one 5-mile stretch that there is bound to be something that you enjoy. its family fun for the entire family with lots of memories to be had!


Why We Love Knott’s Berry Farm Season Passes!

knotts-season-passes-benefits if you have been a reader of Sandy Toes and Popsicles over the past ten years, then you know how much our family LOVES Knott’s Berry Farm. we love the convenience of easy parking and access to the parks, the. the main reason we are able to spend so much time at Knott’s are the Knott’s Berry Farm season passes. with them, we can go to all the events that are happen at Knott’s year round. we enjoy Knott’s so much, that i am trying to convince you that you also need to get annual passes for your family. did you know a Season Pass not only provides admission to Knott’s Berry Farm all year long, but ALSO include some cool perks? it’s true….there are even more perks to having a Season Pass beyond its great value (and no blackout dates)!!!! here are some of the reason you need a Knott’s Season Pass.

Why We Love Knott’s

at Knott’s Berry Farm they call it Seasons of Fun because the offerings always change based on the season.

to start of the year, the is the Knott’s Berry Farm PEANUTS Celebration. debuting this year, it was a month long celebration of our favorite PEANUTS pals and the lovable Snoopy. there are PEANUTS inspired treats, fun photo opps, games and fun shows throughout the park.

in spring, you can head to the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, the best time for food at Knott’s! it’s ALL THINGS BOYSENBERRY – a salute to the birthplace of the Boysenberry. it’s a month-long food festival featuring boysenberry-inspired dishes that are both sweet and savory, plus lots of fun family-friendly entertainment.

summertime means a whole lot more fun at Knott’s!

first of all, the town of Calico comes to life with Knott’s Ghost Town Alive! and if you haven’t experienced it, you need to. you can make friends with the citizens, taking part in cowboy shenanigans, solve mysteries, capture the bad guys, play games and attend the Hoe Down at sun down. my kids love it so much we went over and over.

PLUS, don’t forget about Soak City. there is more fun in the sun for Gold Season Passholders at Knott’s. this year was the debut of seven new waterslides and a great restaurant….all a big hit. so you are going to want to upgrade to enjoy this side of the park. it’s the only waterpark of this size in Orange County and is a blast!!!! 

other happenings during summer is the 4th of July celebration fireworks on the Fourth of July, and Snoopy Show at the Charles Shultz Theater….and who knows what else Knott’s has planned!

fall is the season of Knott’s Spooky Farm, the park-wide, family friendly Halloween celebration that is not-so-scary.  kids can wear costumes, and the entire family can enjoy the Halloween happenings around the park – 

PLUS, Knott’s Scary Farm….which is not part of the Knott’s Season Pass, but can be purchased

as winter approaches, Santa Snoopy and dancing lights fill the park for Knott’s Merry Farm. this is my absolute favorite time of year at Knott’s. there are nightly snow falls, festive holiday shows, Snoopy on Ice show, carolers, the Christmas Village, Santa’s Christmas Cabin and more. Christmastime at Knott’s is quite charming and special. it has become a family tradition for ours each year.
Vann with Santa at Knott'sKnott's Berry Farm CarolersKnott's Berry Farm Snow and Glow

finally, you can countdown the final moments of the year and ring in the New Year At Knott’s Berry Farm with a spectacular midnight fireworks celebration.

Knott's New Years Eve Celebration

all this plus hundreds of special memories are included with your Knott’s Berry Farm season pass!

Discounts, Add-Ons and Benefits of Knott’s Season Passes

Season Passholders receive Season Pass Benefits. that means discounts on select merchandise and food and dining throughout the park…that includes the signature Knott’s jams and preserves. you also get discounts on hotel stays and Scary farm. one of the best things about being a Season Passholder is that you will receive exclusive opportunities to attend previews of the Seasons of Fun events.

you can also add a parking pass for only $65. i highly recommend also adding the All-Day Dining pass for $105 – this allows you lunch and dinner every time you visit during the year. and for just $29.99, you can get a Season Pass Drink Plan and refresh every visit in 2019 with unlimited drink refills for one low price.knotts-pass-discounts

don’t forget about early entry. during the summer and select days throughout the year, Season Passholders receive early entry into Knott’s Berry Farm – where the park is open exclusively to Passholders. you can be one of the first in line for your favorite rides! Gold Season Passholders also receive early entry to Knott’s Soak City on select days in the summer. pony-express-at-knottsso head over to the Knott’s website and check out the Knott’s Berry Farm season pass options. if you buy now, you can visit the park once in 2019, or if you renew, you get a bring-a-friend-ticket! there are a million reasons why our family LOVES our Knott’s passes, and we hope that your family also has a chance to enjoy Knott’s Season Passes. as much as my family does. maybe you will even see us at the park one day. make sure to say “hi” if you do!

{ This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. }

Fun Ideas on How to Organize Breakfast for Back to School

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dannon® Oikos® Greek Yogurt and Danimals® Kids Smoothies. The opinions and text are all mine.

so, finally my kids are back to school! we had an entire summer of fun, and the time spent together with the kids was great. but now i’m ready for some alone time (well almost…obviously i still have little miss Dani Kat home with me). i always use these first few weeks of back-to-school to get our lives back organized and our daily routines going again. that includes stocking up the fridge with food so everyone can eat around their busy schedules. this is my favorite job because i get to go to my favorite place…TARGET!

this year, i have three different drop-off times at three different schools. mornings are going to be rough. so breakfast organization is key. i stocked up on all the kids favorites so they can easily grab and go in the mornings. yogurt is a big hit with the kids, they all like it. i’ve got all ages, so i bought a few different varieties including Activa, Danimals Smoothies and Happy Baby Organics. i also picked up some granola, fruits, cheese, breakfast sandwiches and hard boiled eggs. this is the very reason i love Target…everything i need in one stop!

they all have their own likes, so i make sure to cover all the bases, getting varieties of everything. then i prepare it so it’s easy to transport. this way, if we’re running behind, they can still take nutritious food with them while we are driving.

when it comes to organizing the refrigerator for the school year, i love using these clear plastic bins…which can also be found at Target. it keeps the food together in groups and i don’t have to worry about a stray yogurt getting lost in the fridge. the bins make it easy for the kids to see what we have and to grab their breakfast in a hurry. i also love clear glass containers for storing food.

see! nice and tidy.

this year, my kids are really into parfaits. so i made a little granola station where they can get the granola they like and layer it with yogurt and berries. i keep my fridge stocked in sections to keep us organized. i can easily see when we are running out of certain items, and the kids can easily find what they want to eat.

for the granola station, i keep little jars, spoons and granola on the cupboard so the boys can make their parfaits quickly. the berries i keep in the refrigerator in glass containers which keep them fresher longer. one cup of Activa yogurt is the perfect amount for one parfait that is layered with granola and berries.

my boys and little girlie are thrilled to have their favorite breakfast foods ready each morning. and i am happy that they are getting a full tummy with nutritious food to keep them satisfied throughout the school day.

these Danimal Smoothies are so cute and easy to drink in the car. Vann loves to have them along with some toast and fruit.

and my teen will eat anything!

i especially love the small sizes of the Happy Family Organics yogurts for toddlers. the perfect size for her to feed herself and not have any wasted yogurt. a little messy still…but she is doing great. and the flavors are yummy too!

by organizing our breakfast foods (thy also love them for snacks) we are off to a great school year. we haven’t been late yet, and i haven’t heard any complaints of not having any good food to eat. now that is a win in my mom book!

Happy Back to School!!!