raised by culture

raised by culture: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Labor Day Screening With James Van Der Beek #LaborDayMamarazzi

Note:  My lovely friend Jen of Skinned Knees is today's guest blogger, thanks Jen!

This past Thursday evening, my best friend, Aria, and I got together with a fun group of bloggers for The Moms ‘ Mamarazzi screening of Labor Day. We had both wanted to see the film so we were super stoked about being invited to an advanced screening! I am a huge fan of Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, and James Van Der Beek and their work so I was pretty sure I was going to love Labor Day!  I also am really into Jason Reitman, the director – he directed Juno, Young Adult and a few other films plus a couple episodes of The Office, which is one of my most favorite television shows ever. 

We met up at Paramount Studios. Having grown up in Los Angeles and driven past Paramount countless times, it was really cool to actually be inside the studios! We felt super special weaving around filming trailers and being ushered up to the Sherry Lansing Theatre for the screening.

Labor Day ended up being a SUPER intense movie, but in a really cathartic way. The movie opens with Kate Winslet’s character, Adele, and her son, Henry (played by actor Gattlin Griffith) giving Josh Brolin’s character Frank, an escaped convict, a ride and a place to stay. The plot evolves from there into a very human portrayal of love, coming of age, and loss. I loved the diversity of the characters and how easy they were to relate to. Plus, to say Josh Brolin is eye candy is pretty much the bigger understatement ever. That man is a dreamboat!

After the movie, we were all treated to a Q&A session with James Van Der Beek! The Moms’ Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein graciously facilitated the session and there were some great questions asked. James was incredibly humble and down to earth. He talked a lot about his new daughter (this was a mommy blogger outing, after all!) and told us all what it was like to work with Josh and Kate on set. And luckily, someone managed to find a way to tie in Dawson’s Creek so the 90s girl in my heart was pleased!

All in all, we had a fantastic time. Many of us got to take photos with Mr. Van Der Beek himself before heading into the lobby for dessert and coffee while we all processed the emotional ride we took during Labor Day. I definitely recommend seeing it – it’s perfect for a date, a night out with your best friend or even a matinee with your mom. 

Labor Day opens on January 31st, 2014!
Have you seen it yet? What did you think?

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eight Candles At Pirate's Dinner Adventure, Buena Park

Disclosure:  Pirate's Dinner Adventure graciously provided tickets for my family and I to check out the show.  All thoughts are my own.
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon
We surprised Duke for this 8th Birthday by celebrating at Pirate's Dinner Adventure.  We live in Buena Park so we drive by all the time and wonder what fun goes on in there!  I have a tendency to be a little ocd when it comes to planning but promised myself that I'd let loose this year and not look at reviews. This is what I knew: dinner would be served and there would be pirates.  What I didn't expect was an interactive adventure from start to finish.

Get there early for the h'orderves and pre-show.  Yep, a show before the show.  We roamed around and found most of the h'orderves were being served in the area farthest from the entrance.  Our favorites were fresh veggies and dip, sweet potato tots and corn fritters.  We happened to be standing right in front of the bar when the pre-show started.  We got a little startled but I'd say it was the best place to be.
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon
The show takes place on a replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon measuring 46 feet long, 18 feet wide with 40-foot masts and anchored in a 250,000 gallon indoor lagoon with night sky lighting.  We were ushered to our seats in ships surrounding the lagoon and got to meet our pirate, the red pirate Cutthroat Jack!
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon
Dinner is served during the show and you start off with soup or salad.  I requested the VIP (Very Important Pirate) Kids Meal for the two littles - it was chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and corn.  My birthday boy ate it up and wanted me to ask for another serving (that's a rare request from him).  The rest of us chose the roasted half chicken with rice and veggies.  Dessert was brownie a la mode.  
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon
The show is a classic tale of good vs. evil with the perfect blend of action, comedy and romance.  We were amazed at the special effects wizardry, aerial artistry, swashbuckling swordplay and dynamic duels.
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon
Rise of the Sea Dragon is very interactive, my birthday boy loved having the opportunity to board the ship!
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon
A birthday cake for a birthday pirate!
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon
After the show you can take pictures with the pirates!
Cutthroat Jack & Duke!
Pirate's Dinner Adventure #riseoftheseadragon

Our family had the best time!  The all-new show, "Rise of the Sea Dragon" is only a couple years old - we want to return in October for the Halloween-themed show, "Vampirate's" and in December for the holiday show, "Pirates Take Christmas".

Tickets for the 2014 Season are $58.95 plus tax for adults (12 years and older) and $39.95 plus tax for children (3-11 years old).  Show times vary, please call for show times & schedule (714) 690-1497

Pirate's Dinner Adventure is located off the 91 Freeway in Buena Park at 7600 Beach Blvd.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Facebook App Update Allows Them To Read Your Texts

The newest Facebook app update allows them to read your text messages - you might want to rethink that update, people.

It looks like they rolled it out to Android first but I wouldn't get comfy iPhone users, I'm betting you are next...

Directly from Facebook's app permissions page - see for yourself!
Read your text messages (SMS or MMS) - If you add a phone number to your account, this allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

I'm Going To The GRAMMYs!!! #PricelessSurprises

That happened 9 days ago.  SURPRISE!  MasterCard is sending me and a friend to The GRAMMYs!!!  It didn't sink in till the next night when I got all the details that I am going!!!  And the MasterCard Pre-GRAMMY Reception and Official GRAMMY Celebration After Party!  There is literally a hundred things you need to do to get ready.  The first was finding a +1.  I wanted to invite a good friend because hello-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity but when I reached out to my select circle, I got every excuse in the book.  Can't take the day off work, starting a new job, I don't have money, I live too far...  What a reality check.  So I asked a new friend.  It's something I've done a lot recently.  (It was in line with my theme word for 2014 - free. More on that later.)

Next, you work on finding a dress.  I wanted edgy for me (not Lady Gaga's definition of edgy) - I thought being plus-size, on a budget and with only a week till the big show would make it hard.  I was ready to be stressed out over a dress but by the power of the internet, I found one online and prayed to the fashion gods that it would be in stock at a local store.  When I saw it hanging on the rack, I swear the ceiling of the store opened up, the sun shined in and angels began singing.  Or maybe that happened when I tried it on.  I can't remember.  I ran to pay and skipped out of the store.  After that I figured everything else would come easy.  Wrong!  I was in search of a few bracelets and a big ring because I pretty much hate earrings and necklaces in my crochety old age.  I wasn't even excited when I found them at like the third store, I was just relieved that I didn't have to keep searching.

After all that, I focused on shoes which I already had but had to convince my husband to customize. I should've done that last because it is freakin' crazy to score a makeup appointment on a Sunday morning and Chris would've been a sure thing.  It was a small miracle I got one.  Thank you beauty gods.

Here's a sneak peek at my shoes - I'll reveal my whole outfit tomorrow!

I got lazy and ditched getting my eyebrows and nails done.  The reality is, the prep work is exhausting for a low maintenance girl like me and I'm just ready to get my party on tomorrow!  Music gods, please let Beyonce & Jay Z be the secret performance.  It would be amazing.

I can't take pictures during the actual show but follow me on Instagram for reception and after party fun!

Who do you think will win Record Of The Year at the 56th GRAMMYs?  

  • Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Lorde
  • Bruno Mars
  • Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Starting GRAMMY Night, MasterCard will have exciting news for their cardholders...
I am proof positive that dreams come true.  Thank you MasterCard!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Going Green With Great Value Naturals #WMTGreen

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  All thoughts are my own.

I'll be honest, we rarely use natural products.  The biggest factor for us has always been cost.  The other big factor is that I am loyal to certain cleaning brands and this is a bad excuse but I am completely lazy when it comes to researching new brands.  I know, I gotta do better.  I buy what I know which in the past has been what I saw growing up... whatever my mom used, I used.  I figured my mama knew best when it came to cleaning.  This past November, Great Value Naturals launched in more than 2,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. (check the store locator here) and online.  The new Great Value Naturals product line includes four products:

  • Liquid laundry detergent 100 fl. oz. bottle
  • Multi-purpose cleaner 32 fl. oz. sprayer
  • Glass and window cleaner 32 fl. oz. sprayer
  • Automatic dishwasher gel 75 fl. oz. bottle

The plant-based cleaning products are made with a unique and exclusive technology that makes them 100% chemical-free and toxin-free, biodegradable and non-allergenic.  People, planet and animal safe! The most disturbing thing I found was that the reason cleaning products use toxic chemicals is not that they work better but because the US has a vast oil industry and when you refine oil there is a tremendous amount of residue that we needed to find a use for.  GROSS!  The fact is: cleaning products do not need to have chemicals to be effective.  

Traditional detergents "weigh down" your towels and clothes with residues that stay on the fabric.  Laundry is huge in our home.  My husband and sons are super protective about their clothes (maybe because we don't shop for new clothes all the time)

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Vintage Vegas At The Neon Museum #runawaytovegas

Disclosure:  #runawaytovegas is a media trip, all travel, food and activities were sponsored.  All thoughts are my own.

I can finally cross The Neon Museum off my life list.  Ever since Audrey danced with cousin Vickie on the signs in Vegas Vacation I've wanted to visit.  You cannot go to Vegas without seeing the museum... it is magical.  Vintage Vegas was where the action was at - the history is exciting and seeing pieces up close really puts you in that era.  Or maybe it was me lost in my thoughts while walking the grounds... Tours are guided so you pretty much stay with the group - as long as you are in the docent's sight.  Our time spent there was too short so next time I'm in town, I'll be visiting again.  I just have to!  Maybe I'll do a night tour - anxious to see the place lit up!    

My #runawaytovegas chicas! AJ, Chris, me, Julie and Marla

Moulin Rouge sign moved around to say "in love" 
Neon Museum #runawaytovegas
Random letters and signs
Neon Museum #runawaytovegas Neon Museum #runawaytovegas Neon Museum #runawaytovegas Neon Museum #runawaytovegas
From the Stardust
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Me at the end of the tour, bye!

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sugar Factory Town Square #runawaytovegas

Disclosure:  #runawaytovegas is a media trip, all travel, food and activities were sponsored.  All thoughts are my own.

Four words: Sugar Factory Signature Drinks.  
We were waiting for our table and I noticed fishbowl sized glasses at tables with happy people.  I was intrigued, I wanted one and didn't even know what it was.  When you get the menu, you can't miss 'em - right there in the front, 8 glorious pages of goblets at a whopping 60 ounces each.  I didn't know if I could handle 60 ounces but the girls convinced me to go for it.  Lollipop Passion was my first choice but I have a soft spot for gummy worms and went with the White Gummi.  It was quite a production when it arrived - I totally didn't expect the little show but it was fun and yummy, I'd order it again!  The staff at Sugar Factory Town Square is attentive and very friendly.  If I hadn't already fallen in love with the decor, they would have sealed the deal and I'll tell you why, the whole restaurant was busy buzzing but they made sure we weren't forgotten while we waited to be seated.  Now that's a first impression.  After working in the industry as a manager for over 18 years, I knew that they were genuinely happy and eager to help.

What I would order next time:

  • Everything
  • The Barbie Milkshake - Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream and Strawberry Gelato blended with Marshmallow Fluff and topped with Whipped Cream and Pink Rock Candy Crumbles
  • Fried Macaroni & Cheese Pops 
  • Apple Pie Crepe
  • Banana Chunk Martini
  • Grape Crush Cocktail
  • Lollipop Passion Goblet
  • Rocky Road Fondue
  • World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae - $99 for 12 people.  Imagine what that baby looks like!
  • Coconut Hot Chocolate
  • Everything

White Gummi Goblet - fresh lemon sour, Peach Schnapps, Bacardi Red and Bacardi Razz.
Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas
That's a very happy me and my goblet.  I almost didn't order it because I was like, "OMG it's $29!"  But it's Vegas baby and you just have to!
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S'mores Martini for Marla
Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas
Memory Lane Milkshake for Chris
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We had the busiest day and this was a fun dinner for all of us
Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas
Some highlights from dinner.  Totally showing off the veggies because let's face it - not everyone can do veggies right.  Simplicity at it's best with asparagus and haricot verts (green beans).  French Onion Soup and White Pizza.
Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas
You just have to have dessert in Vegas.  We only got one.
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Sugar Factory American Brasserie at Town Square has amazing Happy Hour offerings.
Sugar Factory #runawaytovegas

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Shooting Glocks & Uzis With My Girls At Gun Garage #runawaytovegas

Disclosure:  #runawaytovegas is a media trip, all travel, food and activities were sponsored.  All thoughts are my own.

Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas
I get that this post is borderline controversial to some but don't be ignorant, read it anyway..  Life is not black and white, it's not things you read in a book.  It is intense and real.  I wanted to experience shooting a gun with a trained professional in a safe environment.  What I got out of shooting at Gun Garage was deep.  A deeper learning lesson than I had imagined and trust me, I played the pros and cons about doing this in my head many times before our trip.  I could've cancelled, I could've got cold feet but I wanted to do this rite of passage.  I can't explain my personal learning lesson (a big time aha moment), it is something you have to experience for yourself.  And I had fun (totally don't want to downplay that) it was a complete adrenaline rush that would keep me on my toes all day.    

My dad (who had been affectionally nicknamed Charles Bronson by friends) taught me gun safety when I was a kid.  He had guns everywhere but because he took the time to talk to me about the danger of them, I stayed away.  I didn't wanna have anything to do with them.  Guns are scary.  He taught me to shoot a gun when I was 14, my mom was going with my baby sister to Guam to visit my sick nana in the hospital and I would be left alone with my 10 year old brother while my dad was at work.  Life was different back then, I was responsible for watching my siblings since I was 10 years old.  I would never leave my kids alone at 10 years old in this day and age.  He's a Greyhound bus driver so he would be gone for a couple days.  These were our real life situations.  I was a scared kid but prepared.  Thank God I never had to use it.

I would never touch a gun till 10 years later when I was in my mid-20s.  I used a rifle while we were camping and busted my eye.  I busted my eye because I didn't have any training - I wasn't standing firm and holding the piece safely.  It was all my fault.  

Here's the thing, too many kids and adults don't understand the end all power behind a gun.  We need to keep this dialogue open.  I felt comfortable and safe at Gun Garage, definitely trusting the staff with my life (like I did my dad when I was 14).  I would definitely do it again.  I want to do it again.  I highly recommend Gun Garage for your first time or to sharpen up your skills.

Things You Should Know About Gun Garage:  

  • Bring your ID 
  • Packages start at $99.95
  • Book online - you get bonus rounds and you get to preview packages
  • You do not have to pick a package, you can rent the guns you want to shoot
  • Check gungarage.com for specials - there is currently one on there to shoot a grenade launcher for $25!
  • The gun selection at Gun Garage is amazing.  If you are a Southern California local, you won't find many of their guns here.  

The zombie targets are popular
Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas
Julie is a damn good shot.  Watch out!
Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas
AJ decimated that target with that uzi
Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas
Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas
When you have a good instructor and you LISTEN, you will get your shot.

Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas
Free shuttle to and from our hotel!
Guns & Ammo Garage #runawaytovegas
AJ took this amazing video of Julie.  Just watch it.
The last Sunday of every month customers can participate in a free gun safety course taught by National Rifle Association Certified Instructors that promotes safe firearm handling, safe firearm storage, how to select the right firearm for your purpose and safe firearm maintenance.

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