raised by culture

raised by culture: October 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Keep The Romance Alive... At Chuck E. Cheese

I don't get why parents complain about Chuck E. Cheese - I actually enjoy it.  Where else can you let your littles go crazy and not get judged!  But the real reason I love Chuck E. Cheese is NBA Hoops.  It is addicting.  My husband Chris and I aren't usually competitive - he's a creative, I'm more business minded.  But when it comes to NBA Hoops... we are downright ugly about it.  We love getting a game or two in.  Chris and I haven't had a date night since I was pregnant with Omar and the closest thing to a date happened a few weeks ago at Chuck E. Cheese.  What started off as a good time with the kids turned into us sassing each other about wins and losses.  The kids think it's funny. I think if we had a date night without the kids, we'd find ourselves here.  Crazy, I know but this is one way we keep our relationship alive!

There is nothing more charming than a man who has fun with his kids.
Chuck E. Cheese
Oh we let the kids have some fun too...
Chuck E. Cheese
His first time enjoying Chuck E. Cheese!
Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese Chuck E. Cheese
Not only where a kid can be a kid!  Good for parents too!
Chuck E. Cheese Chuck E. Cheese
This game is all us.
Chuck E. Cheese

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Monday, October 28, 2013

That One Time Stormtroopers Raided The Disneyland Halloween Time Express

A few weeks ago, Chris, a few of our Toy Story friends and a lost minion boarded the Halloween Time Express at Disneyland with 196 creepy readers from the Disney Parks Blog - it was the first time Disneyland did this type of event (last year's Get Spookier Halloween Meet-Up was at Club Skellington/Haunted Mansion) and I didn't know what to expect at each stop.  I was kinda scared to find out!

The event opened with the Cadaver Dans singing spooky tunes to us at Main Street Train Station, Jack and Sally at New Orleans Square, Billy Hill and the Haunted Hillbillies with Mickey & Minnie Mouse at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree and my favorite: Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and Jedi Knights at Tomorrowland Station!  We picked up some ghosts along the way and when we departed back at Main Street Train Station, we were greeted by Maleficent, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, Drizella, Jack and Sally!  We even had a private treat trail just for us!  Duke, I mean, Andy loved his time at his "home".  The funniest part of the night was when we were in the check-in line when Erin Glover, Social Media Director for Disneyland Resort, was greeting everyone - Duke points at Omar and says, "He's from Universal"

I couldn't resist sharing these closed eyes pictures!
Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland
Halloween Time Express Disneyland
This was amazing.  I will remember this for the rest of my life!
Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland
That's a bullet hole!  A very long time ago, one of the guests thought one of the animals was going to escape so he pulled out his gun and fired away!  I heard this story during a tour I took with one of the Disneyland Ambassadors!  I was finally able to get a good "shot" of the bullet hole!
Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland Halloween Time Express Disneyland
Maleficent was really chopping it up with Jack & Sally.  They all are a little sassy with each other!
Halloween Time Express Disneyland
I love how Sally is holding Woody's hand!  XOXO
Halloween Time Express Disneyland
We ran into Fix-It Felix, Jr. and Vanellope von Schweetz!!!
Halloween Time Express Disneyland

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pechanga Is More Than A Casino: Journey Celebrates 5 Years

I didn't find out just how beautiful and serene the Inland Empire is until a few weeks ago.  My adventures in the IE have been limited to driving by and seeing it from the freeway or heading out for one day outings.  We tend to measure things in California by two things:  travel time (aka traffic) and miles.  The beauty of living here is that everything is in our backyard.  From the beaches to the mountains... there is something to do for everyone.  I promise you, the travel time is worth it.  Being completely removed from city life for 24 hours was exactly the peace and inspiration I needed.  Thank you Pechanga Resort & Casino for inviting me & my family out to learn about Journey at Pechanga!  Happy 5th Anniversary Journey!  My biggest takeaway:  Pechanga is more than a casino.

2 Queen Bedroom is spacious.  Some of the Pechanga Resort amenities:  24-hour Room Service, complimentary Valet parking, wireless internet, heated pool and hot tub with private sun-deck cabanas, sauna, 24-hour fitness center and business centers...  Our room amenities:  fully-stocked mini-bar, personal coded safe, Flat screen LCD televisions featuring on-demand movies...  Loved our view of the golf course.
Pechanga Pechanga
My child loves traveling.  He was just as happy to see this bathroom!
After checking in and making sure the family was comfy, I had to run (literally) to Journey at Pechanga to make it for lunch.  (You could take a shuttle or walk)  It was well underway and I scarfed down my amazing steak so I wouldn't be late to my first workshop.  (Later found out that Chef Chong uses organic and farm to table so no wonder my lunch was so freakin' good!)         Pechanga
My first workshop was meeting Tessa and Honey - Border collies that were brought on at the course (and made actual team members with real Pechanga access badges) as a kinder, gentler way to get rid of mud hens that if left unchecked, overpopulate and leave acidic, toxic droppings that create big messes and damage turf.  Tessa and Honey, highly trained canines, run the course for about four hours each day and scare away the mud hens from Journey’s many lakes and water features.

Superintendent John Martinez and his staff of 23 course ambassadors use no pesticides and minimal chemicals to ward off bugs, invading plants and other forces of nature.  Amazed that Journey at Pechanga is so eco-friendly!  I got to pet Tessa and Honey and they were so sweet!  Love!
Since Temecula is very hot in the Summer, Tessa and Honey's coats are trimmed down!
My next workshop was learning about golf from Journey Director of Golf and PGA Pro, Scott Mallory.  I'll be honest, my knowledge of golf was limited to the movie Billy Madison, miniature golf and Tiger Woods.  Having learned about a few clubs, exploring the golf course and actually watching Scott Mallory nuke it (golf lingo, obviously) - I have a better understanding of the sport.  It was what I always assumed it to be, relaxing.  Instruction at Journey can start as young as 3 years old with their Tiny Tees program in the Junior Golf Academy.
Pechanga Pechanga Pechanga
My fancy ride.
My last workshop for the day was The "19th Hole" in the golf course's clubhouse - Journey's End.  Chef Daniel Chong-Jimenez was a major adopter of farm to table food movement since the late 2000s and makes it his mission to serve flavorful and energizing meals to visiting golfers and guests.  Chef Chong showed us how to make easy banana and orange juice smoothies with 3 ingredients:  bananas, orange juice and ice.  
Simple and delicious!  I had 3 glasses!
This was actually my breakfast the next morning but wanted to keep it with Chef Chong's recap since it was so good!

I'm working on three more posts on our quick getaway to Pechanga - stay tuned for my thoughts on the rich heritage and culture.  For now, you can read about our dinner Paisano's at Pechanga

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Paisano's At Pechanga

When I announced on my social networks I was heading to Pechanga Resort & Casino, the feedback I got was about the food and how good it is.  I knew we would be in good hands.  Our dinner reservations were for Paisano's - an upscale Italian restaurant serving "New World Old World" cuisine.  I fell in love with the decor as I walked in, pumpkin shaped lights hung from the rustic ceiling and mixed chairs at the tables caught my eye.  The kitchen layout is open so you can watch the Chefs and kitchen staff prepare your dishes.  The staff is superb.  (Actually the whole Pechanga staff is bar none thee best I've encountered.)  The food is superb.  Loved the ambiance.
Paisano's at Pechanga
Our Zuppe e Antipasti (appetizer) picks were between Bruschetta and Polpettine.  Polpettine won.  Homemade meatballs with fried polenta and parmigiano.  Tasty and juicy were these meatballs.  My son Duke is very picky and he loved 'em!
Paisano's at Pechanga
Fried polenta.
Paisano's at Pechanga
My cutie pie was excited to go out to dinner with us and Woody.
Paisano's at Pechanga
I almost always order steak.  This is the Il Filetto - grilled beef tenderloin, gorgonzola cheese and chicory.  I had to ask our server what chicory was, she said it is similar to kale.  I figured I'd give it a shot.  I did not like it.  It's not the chef's fault, chicory just ain't my thing.  The flavor and cut of my beef = GOOD.  
Paisano's at Pechanga
Chris ordered La Lasagna - fresh pasta layered with three meat ragu sauce, parmigiano
and mozzarella.  My husband graciously let me take a bite and I expected the lasagna to be heavy but it was surprisingly light.  It was so good, I made some a couple weeks later!
Paisano's at Pechanga
Our picky child ordered chicken tenders and fries.  There was a wait but our server and the manager let us know and apologized.  All was forgiven when he dug in and gave me this smile.
Paisano's at Pechanga
We couldn't say no to dessert.  Chris went for the Chocolate Mousse Hazelnut Cake - salted caramel, vanilla ice cream and candied hazelnuts.  It was gorgeous and was super delicious.  I ordered the Apricot Panna Cotta with apricot foam, candied pistachios but sadly my pictures don't do it justice.  It was SO GOOD.  
Paisano's at Pechanga
A little scoop of vanilla ice cream for Duke!  He was so happy!
Paisano's at Pechanga
Paisano's at Pechanga

You can read about my thoughts on Pechanga being more than a casino here.

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10 Life Lessons You Should Use In Blogging

Some people done lost their mind thinking they know everything about social media and blogging. The best bloggers will tell you they are still learning. This I do know for sure - it is hard work. There is no fast formula - what works for you might not work for some and you have to be open to change and criticism. It can be social and it can also be very isolating and lonely.

My advice:

  • Don't sell your soul. 
  • Don't be a diva. 
  • Don't be a bitch. 
  • Say no. 
  • Don't settle for free/no pay.  You are worth it! 
  • Keep learning. 
  • Enjoy the good days. 
  • Be you. 
  • Cherish the real friends you make. 
  • Have fun!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Win 2 Tickets To Danny Elfman's Music From The Films Of Tim Burton!

I cannot fully express how excited I am to host this giveaway for two tickets to see Danny Elfman LIVE at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live next week!  This is Danny Elfman's first live U.S. appearance in 18 YEARS.  What an early Halloween treat, these performances are so rare and you should take advantage.  His last performance was on Halloween in 1995.  Again, I emphasize rare.  Not only will Danny Elfman be bringing a concert of Tim Burton movie music but the award-winning composer will sing the role of Jack Skellington!  He has never done this LIVE.  The Hollywood Symphony Orchestra And The Page LA Choir Conducted By John Mauceri will back up Danny Elfman as the night is filled with movie music and visuals from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Frankenweenie, and more.  15 films in all including newly created suites from the composer-director!

Tickets are available for the shows on October 29th and 30th, Halloween night is SOLD OUT.  Do not miss out!

And a special for all of you - you can download original music from Danny Elfman here.

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Mexican Inspired Chicken & Waffles #SafewayMarcela

I love when companies give me complete creative control.  There were no guidelines when I created this recipe - I was sent a box of Marcela Valladolid products exclusively from Safeway/Vons along with a gift card to cover other ingredients.  I went wild with ideas.  Some background on Chef Marcela Valladolid - she is a Mexican powerhouse.  Top-selling cookbook author and cooking show host with her own tequila and dinnerware.  Her own tequila, people!  I was honored to be invited to show off my skills but I knew I had to bring it.  I wanted to highlight the meat especially since it's already marinated with real flavors from Mexico!  I actually worked on a recipe last week but I wasn't happy with the pictures and decided to head back into my test kitchen today and I'm excited I did... Behold the bold Ancho Chipotle Chicken & Waffles sandwich.  Inspired by Mexican (and not-so-Mexican) friends that love flavors that pop!  This is for you!  

I decided to go Pioneer Woman old school style recipe on you.  (If you don't know what that means, the recipe will be between here and the pictures.)  This recipe feeds 4.  The waffles recipe is from allrecipes.com - make those and set aside.
Mexican Inspired Chicken & Waffles Mexican Inspired Chicken & Waffles
The package calls for grilling but I pan-fried.  Add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil to a pan at high heat for about 5-7 minutes on each side.  Finish in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  It was so easy to cook and the flavors were on point.  I almost ditched this recipe and went for arroz con pollo with beans on the side.  And while I was waiting for the chicken to finish in the oven, I dreamed of laying the Chef Marcela's Ancho Chipotle Chicken flat on a waffle and topping with a sunny side up egg with cilantro and onions or pico de gallo!
Mexican Inspired Chicken & Waffles
While that's baking, make my Tapatio Ranch dressing and toss with Spring Mix.
Mexican Inspired Chicken & Waffles
You might have to cut the chicken to fit (there were 3 huge thigh portions in my package)
Assemble and serve!
Mexican Inspired Chicken & Waffles

Our favorite Marcela Valladolid products are the Arrachera Steak, Salsa Verde Tortilla Chips, Chile Lime Flaquitos and Corn Tortillas.  Authentic flavors that we love!  You can win a $50 Safeway/Vons Gift Card to try some!  Enter below!

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