raised by culture

raised by culture: December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

This Is Our LA #LoveThisCity

There are a million ways to do Los Angeles and having lived in Southern California for over 26 years, I hate to admit that there are still things I haven't seen, done or ate yet!  That is the beauty of this city, everyone has a different, priceless version!  There is always an adventure, I love this city!

Family and friends from out of state have visited California over the years and we always play tour guide.  We love playing tour guide, I think we're awesome at it.  One of our ways to do LA and my favorite is our traditional Sunday Funday - we start off at the Hollywood Farmers Market, order lunch from one of the many vendors, grab a spot on a community table and just enjoy the beauty in the food and people.  Checking out music, sampling fruits and getting fresh squeezed orange juice are other farmers market musts.  Sometimes we peek in at the shops at Space 15 Twenty which is right next to the market.  There's an Urban Outfitters and one Sunday Funday we saw Mr. Brainwash looking at a pair of Adidas.  Random, right?  Next door is Hennessey + Ingalls - an incredible bookstore with amazing titles.  Across the street is Amoeba Music, one of the last standing music stores!  One afternoon we lucked out and watched Peanut Butter Wolf spin a live set.  The area is also known for Nike Montalbán, Iguana Vintage, The Pantages Theatre, W Hollywood, Katsuya.

After eating, we venture out to see art and shop!  My favorite museum is LACMA.  We recently checked out the Stanley Kubrick exhibit.  One of my favorite directors, he definitely understands the art of making a movie.  Our favorite galleries are Gallery 1988 and La Luz de Jesus at WACKO.  I never turn down visiting WACKO - it is a fantastic shop.  Next door is Ozzie Dots, a cool costume shop.  There is no shortage of places to eat/see/do.  The possibilities are endless - culture, adventure and discovery await you!

Will you wanderlust LA with me?  I guarantee you a priceless experience.

LA is diverse - Chicken Kabob plate from the Greek vendor!
#Priceless #SundayFunday
LA is art and film.  The Shining at Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA.
#Priceless #SundayFunday
LA is innovative.  Only a rock can bring so much fascination to a city!
#Priceless #SundayFunday
LA is random! Ran into tattoo artist Kat Von D outside one of my favorite stores!
Kat Von D
LA is fun, silly and full of personality.  LA is not shy!
i <3 Wacko.
LA is unique - forget red velvet cake, we do it blue velvet style!
blue velvet cake
LA is the city of dreams.

Disclosure:  I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias®  and MasterCard #CBias #SocialFabric #LoveThisCity

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Crock Pot Lasagna Recipe

I am in love with my Crock Pot!  I bought it on Black Friday 2011 and only started using it this Summer.  Southern California had a super hot Summer and used it so we wouldn't melt even more by turning on the oven.  I have even made banana bread in my Crock Pot!  It was fluffy and moist - did not sink down like banana breads I've made in my oven.  More on that recipe later... I have had requests for this recipe and here it is!  Enjoy!
Crock Pot Lasagne
Crock Pot Lasagna Ingredients

  • 24 oz. Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 8 oz. Lasagna Noodles (Not Oven Ready)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 16 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


  • Brown ground beef in a pan, add spaghetti sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes
  • Mix ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and parmesan cheese
  • Layer the bottom of your Crock Pot with meat sauce, next layer is lasagna noodles and then finally add cheese mix, repeat till done (about 3 noodle layers)
  • Set temp on low for 2 hours then change temp to high for 30 minutes, remove lid and sprinkle shredded cheese (can be cheddar, etc.)
  • Let the lasagna stand in your Crock Pot for 20 minutes, serve
You can do a mix of ground beef and italian sausage or you can use only italian sausage or ground turkey.  This lasagna holds up well - you can freeze it and reheat.  It is yummy and easy!    

Crock Pot Lasagne

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas (Eve) Story 2012

We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with the bigs and it was the best gift ever.  It was a treat because this was my first Christmas Eve and Christmas off in years.  My husband Chris planned our day - lunch at Stonefire Grill and opening presents.  Somehow we got in some shopping and thrifting.    The bigs loved their presents: a pair of shoes and clothes - they got A LOT of t-shirts, some new and some thrifted.  They aren't picky, goodness how are they so good?!

My night ended listening to Ghostface Killah, playing Basketball Mania on my Droid and watching Bob's Burgers Christmas Special and A Christmas Story with Chris.

From our family to yours - Have a very Merry Christmas XOXO
Merry Christmas!

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Monday, December 24, 2012

'Tis The Season To Gift Exchange Part II

You know that saying, "the right place at the right time" - thats how I kinda felt that this gift exchange happened.  I was checking out my Instagram when I saw bellandpistol arranging a book & ornament swap for something like 20 followers.  I added my email and made the cut!  Korey (bellandpistol) emailed us asking for the little one's name, address, age and titles of 3 books on their wish list.    The limit for the whole gift exchange was $20 minimum, $25 max!  Done deal!  I emailed our info with these titles:   Dragons Love Tacos, My Abuelita and Hello, Rock

And we had to include info on our kid, sweet!  The cool thing is that the little we were sending to wouldn't be the one we would be receiving from.  I totally forgot to take a picture of what we gave before I wrapped!  I impressed myself with that ribbon cause I suck at creativity!  Looks great on Pinterest but not when I try haha
We received from ohdearmama and it is such a lovely, lovely package!  Duke loved everything about it!
#bellandpistolgiftexchange #bellandpistolgiftexchange #bellandpistolgiftexchange #bellandpistolgiftexchange
He really adores these drawings with information on all the kids!  They are so cute too!  We learned a lot about their family!
#bellandpistolgiftexchange #bellandpistolgiftexchange
And this book is funny!  I read it to him and Omieoso and they loved it!

Thank you ohdearmama family XOXO

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'Tis The Season To Gift Exchange Part I

We participated in TWO very fun gift exchanges this year!!!  I really love doing this with the kids, it teaches them about giving.  You want well-rounded kids, show them the many, many ways they can give.

Tee and I decided on a book, ornament and drawing exchange for Teagan & Duke.  We met up one Sunday afternoon at Hollywood Farmers Market and hung out for a couple hours.  The kids hung out with a goat, had a jam session mini concert, we ate coconut cake from the Thai vendor, sampled fresh squeezed orange juice, apples, grapes, oh my!  It was fun!  We're very blessed to know The B family!

Here's what Duke gave!
Book + Ornament exchange
They were so excited for gifts!
Book + Ornament exchange
Here's what Teagan gave Duke!
Book + Ornament exchange
This drawing from Teagan is so adorable!  I love the curls in our hair and my eyelashes are fantastic!  Duke taped it to his toy shelf!
Book + Ornament exchange
They make such good friends!  It was precious watching their little souls take in the music, help arrange the instruments and offer up their chairs to kids that were smaller than them.
D & T

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Future As A Mommy Rapper...

My husband and I are silly and random.  So when he tells me to bust out a rap, I don't question him - I do it.  Turns out he was recording me with Auto Rap app and this is my song, My Boys Shirts.  Its kinda catchy and makes us all laugh.  I think I sound a little like Kreayshawn.

More proof, I am that Mom!  This app is fun for the whole family!
I sound like Kreayshawn

This post is so not sponsored.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Finding Our Way On The Holidays.

My husband loves the holidays.  When I met him, I was at a point in my life where the holidays were just ehhh.  I mainly did 'em for the kids.  He made me fall in love with Valentine's Day, Halloween and Christmas.  With a deep love for these special days, we don't have traditions.  Sometimes we celebrate Valentine's Day the day before or the day after and we're okay with that.  We never have a set plan for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas either.  We have ideas in mind but thats about it.  Its not that we're spontaneous because we are both planners by nature but I think its because our families are in Texas and we just leave it up in the air and try new things.  We're still finding our way.

This Christmas we'll be doing it "A Christmas Story" style.  Lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant.  No duck.  No turkey.  No roast.  I'm excited about it.  We're thinking about venturing up to LA.  One of the best things about living in Southern California is that we cater to tourists.  Disneyland is open.  Area hotels have restaurants that are open.  Chinatown is open.  The Lakers always play on Christmas so LA Live is bound to be open. (I tried to confirm via Twitter but haven't heard back)  And of course movie theaters are open on Christmas.

I won't be taking a break from blogging and social media, I admire those of you that are... I like being connected and so do my husband and the kids.  I have to admit, it is pretty liberating to be non-traditional.  We're cool like that.

Are you traditional or non-traditional?  What are your plans for Christmas?

Breaking tradition in 2009 with our bacon wrapped turkey.
Bacon Wrapped Turkey

Restaurants that are open on Christmas Day:
Canter's Deli on Fairfax in LA
Keno's on La Palma in Anaheim
All Downtown Disney Dining
El Torito, Marie Callender's, Shakey's, Del Taco, Sizzler, McDonald's - Please call ahead to make sure your location is open.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heart of Haiti: A Gift That Gives Back

I received this Heart of Haiti bracelet to review, I'm not sure I can say anything to do it the justice it deserves but I'm going to try.  This bracelet is stunning, high quality and more importantly, handcrafted.  It is a true piece of art.  Because these pieces aren't made on an assembly line, there are tiny variations that make it truly one-of-a-kind and limited edition.  It made me wonder why more people don't know about this program... Heart of Haiti has something for everyone - These are the types of unique gifts I love to give and receive!
Macy's Heart of Haiti Macy's Heart of Haiti

Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and despite the devastating earthquake, people there are filled with hope and a desire to improve their lives through employment.  The Heart of Haiti initiative provides artists with an opportunity to make a living feed their families and pay their children’s school fees. Already, The Heart of Haiti collection has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,000 people in the country.

The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, and paintings. The craftsmanship and technique behind these works of art, ranging from papier-mâché vases to hand cut metal frames & wall hangings, is truly remarkable.  The collection is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums & local gommier wood. Sharing a “gift that gives back” is a great way to raise awareness and celebrate artistry and regrowth. Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively at 25 Macy's stores around the country and on www.Macys.com/Haiti.

Get Social with Heart of Haiti:  @HeartofHaiti on Twitter / Heart of Haiti on Facebook

Painstakingly cut, hammered and varnished by hand, this meaningful picture frame displays your favorite people and places in the tree of life. Steel from recycled barrels gives each one-of-a-kind piece a rustic beauty perfected by Haiti's master artisans.
  • Recycled steel
  • Handcrafted in Haiti
  • Holds 4" x 6" photos
  • 9" x 11.5"
  • Because each item is a unique work of art, variations in size and color will occur
  • Includes a Certificate of Authenticity
  • Signed by the artisan
  • Artisans receive half the wholesale price for each item sold

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I was provided with product to review and for giveaway.  All thoughts are my own.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FREE Pre-Party Event for OC Fair NYE Block Party + Giveaway!

This Wednesday from 5:30 - 9pm, experience the food trucks that will be showcased at OC Fair New Year's Eve Block Party!  There will be contests with giveaways for Block Party tickets, food truck vouchers and other fun stuff. Attendees can also buy their Block Party tickets fee-free from the onsite Box Office before the prices increase.
I have always wanted to attend a safe and fun New Year's Eve Block Party and this year OC Fair New Year's Eve Block Party looks like the place to be!  There are a lot of fun things planned but most exciting are the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s stages with tribute bands Green Today and No Duh!  
It’s a party only the OC Fair would throw with tribute bands, gourmet food trucks, demolition derby, Vegas-style games, carnival rides and a midnight pyrotechnic celebration, all for one affordable admission.

Hours:  Monday, December 31st 7:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
Admission: $47.50-$95 (Pre-sale discounts available through December 30)
Parking: General $10 (first-come), Preferred $20 (reserved)
Location: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Information: ocfair.com/blockparty (714) 708-1500

Get Social with OC Fair:  @OCFair on Twitter / OC Fair on Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  This is not a sponsored post.  I received complimentary tickets to the fair.  Thoughts are my own.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012


This weekend, I will be holding a #blogheartout while I mourn the loss of these precious lives.


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Net10 Family Talk Plans Are What This Family Needs!

I really enjoyed having Net10 Wireless service for a few months this Summer... It went with me to New Orleans for the Niche Mommy Conference, Las Vegas for Blogalicious and hung out with me at Disneyland & Knott's Berry Farm.  The LG Optimus Net on Net10 Wireless was perfect in every way. It kept me connected - no dropped calls, always kept me connected so I could upload pictures to Instagram, share thoughts on Twitter and check-in on Facebook.  Being extremely satisfied with their service, great plans and no contracts - I just had to look into their family plans for the rest of the family.

I have 2 teenagers and an almost 7 year old thats going on 17.  Unlimited data and text is mandatory for all of us and $90 for a 2 line family plan is easy on my wallet.  We decided to get Duke a test phone because sometimes I'm on work calls and he wants to talk to our family in Texas.  He also loves taking pictures and making videos.  I set up the LG 800G ($49.99) for him and he already started sending me texts.      

Net10 Wireless is great for families - this is how the new Family Talk Plans work:
The first line is $50 for unlimited data, text and talk; each additional line is just $40.
  • 2 line family plan: $90 for unlimited nationwide data, text, talk, 411

  • 3 line family plan: $130 for unlimited nationwide data, text, talk, 411

  • 4 line family plan: $170 for unlimited nationwide data, text, talk, 411
With Net10 Wireless there are no contracts, credit checks, activation charges or cancellation fees to worry about.  Simply buy a phone and purchase any one of several airtime or monthly plans.

He loves texts from Daddy!
Net10 Wireless Family Plans Net10 Wireless Family Plans
Look for the airtime cards in over 90,000 locations across the USA including Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Family Dollar, K-Mart, Radio Shack and CVS stores and online at net10wireless.com
Net10 Wireless Family Plans
Duke showing off his phone!

For more information on Net10 Wireless, please visit:

Get Social with Net10:  Net10 Latino on Facebook

Disclosure:  This is part of a compensated campaign with Latina Mom Bloggers and Net10 Wireless.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Semi-Homemade Avocado Ice Cream!

My grandparents had an avocado tree on their property in Guam.  Along with the avocado tree, they had coconut, guava and starfruit trees.  I can close my eyes and picture exactly where each tree is even though I haven't visited since I was a teenager.  The avocado tree is right next to this little hill.  We used to get cardboard from cases of soda and slide down that little hill.  Sometimes we'd land right in fallen avocados.  Other times I would be chasing my brother or little cousins and slip on an avocado.  I hated them for a portion of my childhood.  Seriously.  Not because they weren't yummy but because they would interfere with playtime!  Some days though, I would stand under the avocado tree, with its massive branches to hide from the piercing sun and pluck one, squeeze off the skin and have the freshest snack right there.  That was the life.

My nana used to yell at me, "Bring in some avocados".  And then she would make the yummiest avocado sweets ever.  One was "ice candy" - you can make it with coconut or mango but my favorite was avocado ice candy.  I don't remember how she made it but I do remember them sitting in bags in the freezer.  I would open the freezer door and my nana would yell, "close the door, they aren't ready yet!"  Hours later, she would call me in the kitchen, cut off the top and push me out the door to eat on the porch.  It was great being a kid!

Avocados from Mexico remind me of home and family.  The Holidays are all about home and family, here is my version of my nana's avocado ice candy - I hope it makes you feel like a part of our family.    
#iloveavocados #iloveavocados #iloveavocados

Semi-Homemade Avocado Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 1 Avocado
  • 3 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • Cut avocado in half, remove pit and skin
  • Add avocado, ice cream, sugar and milk in blender.  Puree until smooth
  • Pour in a bowl and serve!
You can also put this in a glass and drink it like a milkshake/smoothie.

{ Celebrity Chef Pepín shares Avocados From Mexico Posadas Recipes }

Disclosure:  This is a compensated post in collaboration with Avocados from Mexico and Latina Bloggers Connect.  All opinions are my own.

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Starbucks Holiday Blend & Cinnamon Rolls #DeliciousPairings

I'm not a coffee drinker but I have many, many great memories of waking up early and hanging out with my grandparents while they sat together, enjoying their coffee, talking and reading the paper.  My dad is the same way.  His cup of coffee and the newspaper.  Coffee was a part of their lives and just about everyone I know.  It was their morning routine.  The fuel to get them going...  Now that I'm getting *gasp* older and definitely in need of caffeine to get me through the day, I've been looking at coffee as my new hero.

I happened to see a lone package of Starbucks Holiday Blend at my local Walmart and went for it.  I figure if its almost sold out, it has got to be good!  To ease my taste buds, I started looking for something sweet to go with it and thought my favorite Cinnamon Rolls with White Icing would be perfect!  After a day of trying to finish shopping for Christmas and needing to tackle finals - I decided to brew a pot to help me get through some deadlines.  I pulled out a fancy teacup set I found at a thrift shop and sat down to enjoy my delicious pairing.  I'm totally an amateur at coffee so I added creamer but it didn't cut the boldness and spice of the coffee.  The coffee is sweet and spicy but smooth and rich.    What did cut the strong flavor was the cinnamon roll.  It complimented the coffee and made it enjoyable.  With all the flavors dancing in my mind and mouth, I could pick out a little bit of ginger, pumpkin and cinnamon.

Do you love coffee and pastries? What would you recommend for me, a coffee newbie?  I would love to try your #DeliciousPairings!
Delicious Pairings Delicious Pairings
The Bakery At Walmart has amazing Gourmet Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing too!  I love them both!
Delicious Pairings
Can be habit forming.
Delicious Pairings
Starbucks Holiday Blend and The Bakery Gourmet Cinnamon Rolls impressed me so much that we're giving them to our homeschool teacher/advisor Miss MJ!  Her office is decorated in Tigger and I came across the art piece and figure while thrifting!
Delicious Pairings
Here is the gift basket we're giving Miss MJ!  I put the cinnamon rolls in a bakery bag (not pictured)
It came out cute!
Delicious Pairings
Disclosure:  I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™.  All thoughts are my own.  #CBias #SocialFabric

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