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And the winner is…

The winner of the Avenger’s giveaway is:



Comment #3, Darlene. Congrats! I’ll contact you for further information.

Category: giveaways and reviews  Tags:  Comments off


So, I don’t know about you, but I’m kindof a little teeny bit looking forward to a movie coming out next week. Maybe you’ve heard of it?


(image courtesy of MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS)

And it might have a little bit to do with Tony Stark. Maybe, but I’m not telling. Okay, so it’s not *just* Iron Man. It’s all of the characters, brought together in one place. And I’m even a little partial to The Hulk. I grew up watching Bruce Banner on the TV show(even though it’s not exactly like the comic). You know, the one with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno? Yeah, that one. Reminds of when I was a kid. So I’m a little curious to see how the character is handled in this movie (no, I didn’t see the other movies that led up to THE AVENGERS, but now that they’re all coming together I wish I had).

Anywho, I think it’s going to be pretty cool. And even cooler, I get to give away some sweet AVENGERS gear. Here’s what’s up for grabs:

- MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS t-shirt in adult sizes of S, M, L, XL
- MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS set of 6 buttons
- MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS one pair of limited edition 3D glasses



I love those buttons. Want!

So here we go. Contest rules:

-Must live in the US
-Must be over 18
-Winner must respond to email announcing winner within 48 hours of notification or a new winner will be chosen
-You get to choose your shirt size and which pair of glasses you’d like, which MARVEL will do their best to accommodate/fulfill based on demand
-Contest void where prohibited
-CONTEST ENDS ON MAY 12, 2012 AT MIDNIGHT PACIFIC. Entries after that time will not be counted


-Leave a comment telling me which character is your favorite, and why
-You can “like” my Facebook page for one additional entry (come back and leave a comment to let me know you’ve done so in order for the entry to count)
-You can “like” MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS on Facebook for one additional entry (come back and leave a comment to let me know you’ve done so in order for the entry to count)
-You can follow MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS on Twitter for one additional entry (come back and leave a comment to let me know you’ve done so in order for the entry to count)
-And you can tweet the contest out for one additional entry (come back and leave a comment to let me know you’ve done so in order for the entry to count)

That’s it! Hope you enjoy the movie!

Disclosure: No payments or freebies for me. I just thought it’d be fun to do a giveaway for the movie coming up. I like THE AVENGERS. That’s it. Prizes will be shipped directly from the sponsor.)

If I could I would run away and join the Circus

Last night I got the chance to see Cirque du Soleil for the very first time. And what a show to see for your first. It was premiere night for TOTEM by Cirque du Soleil and man, do they put on a production. Cirque du Soleil has been putting on shows for close to 30 years. I wondered how they could be original and creative and amazing after all that time. But they are. They are fantastically good at what they do.

TOTEM is about the origin of our species. It starts with a big shape covering the stage that’s reminiscent of a turtle. But underneath that shell there’s a surprise in store for you. And from that moment, you will be mesmerized by the whole thing. The acrobats, the actors, even the stage are amazing. I have never seen a stage like that. It was like it was alive. Not only did it serve as part of the show by having scenery reflected on it, it moved like a serpent or scorpion. I was blown away by the imagination of the people who built the set.

I’ve seen some Cirque du Soleil shows featured on television. Each time, I have watched, pretty much incredulous at the feats performed. Nothing, but NOTHING compares to seeing it live. I found myself holding my breath more than once, sure that someone was going to miss their cue or timing by just a teensy bit. But they never do.

Dude, I can’t even walk across the room without tripping over something (yeah, even when the kids toys are actually put away). These actors/ acrobats/ crazy, scary good performers are flawless.

And these women:

image courtesy of TOTEM by Cirque du Soleil

Wow. Just… wow. They were incredible. I can’t even look at a unicycle without falling over. And these women were throwing things. With their feet! While on a unicycle that’s, what, 7 or 8 feet tall? Who does that? These women do. And they are fantastically talented at it. I am running out of adjectives here. I am not kidding. I cannot stop talking about it.

Wait til you see the guys that climb things like monkeys. I almost got a headache I was holding my breath so much. I have never seen things done midair like that. EVER. And the cosmonauts? I will give you a little spoiler and say that I got really excited when I saw them pull out the Russian barres. Three of them. At the same time. If it weren’t so scary and required amazing acts of skill and balance, I would absolutely love to do it. The jumping in the air? I would love. The balance? I would totally fail at. Big time.

I was talking with some friends during intermission and we all agreed that we love that Cirque du Soleil gives new life to these amazing performers that a couple of decades ago could never happen unless you were able to do something that got you into the Olympics. Some of these performers are talented on that level. Actually, all of them probably are.

One more thing. I cannot forget the musicians. (My daughter would hurt me if I did.) They went from tribal sounding music to gypsy music to almost techno music (using scientific instruments, no less). They are wildly talented. I should have bought the soundtrack. But maybe you can pick it up for me, because I have a code for you to save some money on tickets if you get them before Mother’s Day. How’s 25% off hit you? Buy just two tickets and you’re looking at saving around $50 or so in certain sections.

By the way, when you look at the map, don’t be deceived by the seating chart. While it may look like you’re a ways from the stage when you’re in the upper rows, you’re not really. You can see everything just fine. Yes, there are some supports that may block a little, but it’s really minimal. The action moves around enough that it won’t be an issue. So here are the details and fine print:

TOTEM by Cirque du Soleil has hit San Diego, and you can save 25% on tickets and make this Mother’s Day more memorable! Get 25% off price level 1, 2 or 3 tickets on select performances, and treat mom to an unforgettable experience. TOTEM is now performing for a limited time at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Click here to take advantage of this generous offer:

totem_mday_san_diego_300x250[1][3][2] In order to receive this special offer you will need to be a Cirque Club member—registration is fast and free, and Cirque Club members receive advance access to the best seats under the Grand Chapiteau, ticket upgrades, partner promotions and insider information on the world of Cirque du Soleil!

Applicable on select performances on Price level 1, 2 & 3 only. Prices shown during the purchasing process already reflect this offer and will appear as a 25% discount on each ticket. Maximum of 19 tickets per purchase. All tickets subject to regular service and delivery charges. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Not applicable to previous purchases. All sales final, no refunds nor exchanges. Offer expires May 14, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Offer applicable on TOTEM in San Diego, CA.

Disclosure: I received tickets to the premiere. I was asked to please provide a review, but all words, save the promotional text for the discount, are my own. I really do love Cirque du Soleil and have always wanted to attend a show.

Get smart with First Street from Smart & Final

My husband and I have been Smart & Final shoppers for years. When he worked on a fishing boat as a cook, he shopped there for galley supplies. Some of our favorite products are from Smart & Final’s own First Street brand. We buy them all the time.

Some of our recent favorites have been in the frozen food section. Well, it works great when we can remember to thaw something for supper, that is. For our son we keep tater tots on hand, and french fries for us. They both work great in my little convection toaster oven, crisping up nicely. No oil, no unhealthy fats to worry about! That’s a big one for me, as I have to watch my cholesterol. We also like the hash brown patties, as they’re great for a quick breakfast side.

Another thing I am loving recently is the package of frozen chicken thighs. I know, that sounds weird to some people. But thighs are probably THE best meat on the chicken. Forget the chicken breast. Go for the thigh! My favorite way to cook them is to just liberally sprinkle them with spices (my favorites are just salt, pepper, and granulated garlic and a special seasoned salt when I have it on hand) and put them under the broiler for around a 1/2 hour (depending on size) and turning them a few times. They get nice and crispy on the outside, but are so tender and juicy. I love LOVE chicken cooked this way. Our son FINALLY started eating chicken when we cooked it this way. Score!

I have to stop for a moment and mention that I really, really miss the frozen steaks that First Street used to carry. They were awesome. Almost all of the boats we knew used them, as they kept well, were tasty, and were individually wrapped. I’m still on a mission to get Smart & Final to bring them back.

Okay, now it’s your turn. How would you like to receive a sampling of First Street products AND a $50 gift card to Smart & Final? All you have to do is enter the contest on Facebook. You’ll love it. In our sample, we got pancakes and syrup, paper towels, pasta and sauce, popcorn, aluminum foil, food storage bags, chocolate chips (which I just eat instead of making cookies. oops.), mayo, ketchup, dressing, croutons, and whole lot more. It’s a lot of food. And every bit of it so far has been good.


This is a compensated post through a partnership with collective bias. But we’ve been Smart & Final shoppers—and First Street brand fans—for a long time. Opinions are my own, as always.

Discover the Secret Science of Dirt at KinderCare

Some of you may remember that we have an older daughter who is currently in college. When she was younger and my husband needed childcare, he turned to our local KinderCare. It was close, convenient and had a good reputation locally. And it was affordable.

Things haven’t changed all that much—it’s still close to us and we’ve been considering putting our 3-year-old son in a couple of days a week. I think he needs the socialization. And mommy just may, might, maybe need a tiny bit of a break. Maybe. But you know me, I can’t make up my mind. Yet.

Coming up, though, is the perfect opportunity for us to try things and see how they go. That’s because KinderCare is presenting a week-long Spring Break camp called the Secret Science of Dirt. During Spring Break, kids will have the chance to dig into the science behind “growing green” and get excited about the natural world.

Preschoolers (including my son) will experience hands-on science lessons, veggie cooking, and craft-making. I bet my son will love the science lessons, especially if he gets to dig in dirt. I imagine him coming home a little disheveled but with a big grin on his face. He’ll manage to find the dirt, wherever it is. Trust me.

Older kids will plant and tend vegetables, make compost, create garden-related crafts, and (after clean up!) prepare tasty veggie treats. I can only hope that seeing all of the kids eating and preparing veggies will inspire my son to try them.

I’m looking forward to this camp for my son. I think he’ll learn a lot, meet some new friends and get a chance to play with someone other than (boring) mommy.

Spring Break already over in your area? Take a look at their awesome Summer Camps as well.


Want to discover some fun things to do at home? Check out this take-home adventure from KinderCare:

Science Adventures(tm): Take the Adventure Home
Fun, hands-on science activities to engage your child in discovery learning

By Science Adventures’ Andy, the Science Wiz

Indoor Lawn

As spring buds to life around us, it is the perfect time to engage a young explorer in nature. Children will discover what seeds need to sprout when they nurture a dormant grass seed into mini-pet lawns.

What you will need:

1 brand new clean kitchen sponge
1 Plate
1 Gallon resealable baggie
1 Straw
Grass Seed (Any Variety)

What to do:

growing grass on a sponge

Learn how to grow grass on a sponge - fun with science!

Soak the sponge in cold water for a few minutes. Gently squeeze out the excess water, and place the sponge on a plate. Have your child sprinkle the sponge liberally with grass seed. Next, slide the plate into the baggie. Seal the baggie around the straw and have your child gently inflate the bag by blowing into the straw. Pull the straw out and seal the baggie. Success! You built a mini-inflatable green house.

Place the baggie on a sunny window sill.  Have your child check the baggie each day and report any changes they see. Make sure they add more water If the sponge dries out.

After the first day you should notice that water clings to the top of the baggie in droplets. This is because the sun has heated the water in the sponge causing it to evaporate, rise, and condense into drops. This is a great way of showing how clouds form and sometimes make rain.

After two days, the seeds should start to germinate, pushing out roots. The roots look white and fuzzy. The white strands are the roots seeking a home in some damp soil.

After 4 days, you will notice that the seeds have sprouted tiny green shoots. This is the grass. Each seed will produce one blade of grass.

After 7 days, you should have grown a small pet lawn.

What is happening:

Discuss what plants need to grow with your child. Plants need water, air, soil, sunlight, and space to grow. Our mini-green houses provided plenty of sunlight, water, air, and allowed the seeds to flourish using the nutrients that were packed in the seed. However, the sponge cannot provide nutrients long term. To continue the experiment, the grass can be peeled off the sponge and planted in a small pot.


Disclosure: We will be comped the Spring Break camp at our local KinderCare learning center. Opinions here are my own and I am already a fan of the centers, hence it’s a good fit for us.

Giveaway: Smart & Final’s Ambiance Coffee

Going without coffee during my pregnancy was tough. I’m a big coffee drinker. A couple of cups every day, at minimum. Sometimes more. Think of me as the average or slightly above-average coffee drinker.

Ambiance coffeesSo when Smart & Final asked if I’d like to try their new line of Ambiance coffees, I said yes. We’d been stuck in a coffee rut for quite a while, so a change was just what we needed. Just before Christmas we received a sweet basket with an assortment of coffee.

We started out with the French Vanilla. We almost always use french vanilla creamer, so we were pretty sure it would be right up our alley. It totally was. I enjoyed a couple of cups during my morning routine of shuffling over to my computer and starting work. We later tried the other blends, of which Gourmet Supreme is probably my favorite with the House Blend coming a close second. My husband took the French Roast to work, which they liked. I’m not a huge french roast fan, so I was more than happy to have him take it. But I smacked his hand when he tried to make off with the Kona Blend before I got to try it. What? I just wanted to try some! Then he’s welcome to take it to them and get their opinions.

I liked them all and would drink any of them again. Really. I shop at Smart & Final a lot, so I have no doubt I’ll be making a run up there the next time our coffee is getting low. And now the good news.

How would you like a gift basket of all six Ambiance coffees? And what if said gift basket also included a Smart & Final gift card for $150? I thought so.

So how do you enter? I thought you’d never ask.

1. For one entry, leave me a comment with your favorite coffee moment. Make sure you leave your email so I can contact the winner.

2. For one additional entry each day, tweet about the giveaway using the #MyAmbianceMoment hashtag: “Enter to win an Ambiance Coffee gift pack & $150 gift card from @smartfinal #MyAmbianceMoment” and then come back here and leave a link to your tweet. One per day only, please.

Contest deadline is February 8th at midnight PST. Comments after that will not be counted in the giveaway. Winner must respond within 24 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: As mentioned, I received a basket of coffees to try, along with an offer to send the same + gift card to a reader.

Want some more chances to win? Check out Mel’s giveaway (ends on the 8th) and Jen’s giveaway (ends on the 7th). Oh, and here’s Lily’s giveaway, too (ends on the 9th).



random number 201102202004.jpg

And the winner was Deb from San Diego Momma! Thanks to everyone for your participation.

(Sorry for the delay in actually posting the results. I had let Deb know via Twitter, but I didn’t get a chance to note it here and then time got away from me and we’re already 2/3 of the way through February. Next thing I know, it’ll be July.)

Last minute gifts…

If we were in San Diego right now, I would totally hint to my husband to go to Tiffany & Co. for any last minute gift ideas. I’m seriously coveting their key necklaces, like this one:


(Although that one is really out of our price range, I do love it.)

Or maybe this one:


(Okay, so that one’s out of the price range, too.)

And this one, which was my favorite (but I don’t see it on the site right now – it was gorgeous in person)

(photo shamelessly swiped from La Jolla Mom – that’s my hand in the pic!)

But this one is TOTALLY in our price range:


So why am I dreaming of Tiffany? Because I got to have breakfast there several weeks ago, but didn’t get a chance to write about it because I was busy gestating and prepping to have a baby. But it was an awesome time, we got to try on jewelry to our hearts content (I tried on a ring that’s probably more than I’ll make, like, ever, which you can see on Jen’s hand here) and see the new yellow diamonds and leather collections.

After the new year, I’ll post a couple of the pics I took and maybe even hint again to hubby, since our anniversary comes up at the end of February. That should give him plenty of time to shop, right?

Disclosure: I received an invite to Tiffany & Co. to have a small breakfast and preview some of their holiday offerings (in early Nov.). I was not asked to write anything, but I did receive a Tiffany coffee mug as a gift.

Good intentions

America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010 Light & Healthy 2010 from America’s Test Kitchen

I originally bought this book for the low-fat recipes. After a severe gallbladder attack, my doctor told me to cut down on fatty foods. I thought these recipes would be perfect, given how much we love America’s Test Kitchen. And the recipes are really good and I want to try a bunch of them.


I’m also currently pregnant and have gestational diabetes, which means I also have to avoid sugar. It’s quite hard to find low-sugar recipes in this book. I’m not just talking about added sugar either. High carbs. Lots of fruit. Those all contribute to higher blood sugar for a diabetic and there are a LOT of those types of recipes in here. So even though I anticipated great things, I haven’t really used the cookbook that much. I certainly will after the baby’s born and some of my dietary restrictions are removed.

What I’d really like to see, though, are more diabetic-friendly recipes. It doesn’t need to take up the entire book, but how about a few thrown in here and there? Or a section just for low-sugar recipes? My ideal cookbook would contain low-fat, low-carb recipes with alternatives to fruit and sugar. Some fruit is fine, but dishes that rely heavily on it just won’t work.

If you want low-fat, I think you’ll like this cookbook. I’ll be cooking more from it very soon. But if you’re diabetic AND looking for low-fat recipes, you might want to take a really close look at the recipes before buying. Or stick with a diabetic-friendly cookbook. Maybe America’s Test Kitchen will come out with that next?

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Second verse, same as the first

I feel like I’m on repeat right now, saying the same old thing over and over.



Ready to get! this! kid! out!

And yet, that is my life right now. Getting a lot of Braxton Hicks today. They are ramping up. And that’s okay. Know why? I found some of the baby clothes. That’s right. We no longer have to bring him home from the hospital naked. Er, diaper only. Yes, I did a little happy dance in the garage when I found them. I don’t think that was all of them, but enough to get by for now. Even though I didn’t see the “My First Thanksgiving” onesie in there anywhere and I so wanted to have that out and ready to go. I mean, c’mon. How often do you get to use an item like that FOR BOTH SONS?

Of course, we still haven’t dug out the infant seat, so we don’t have anything to PUT HIM IN on the way home. Details. (Actually, that’s something hubby could do last minute if needed. But I’m hoping we can get to that tomorrow so it’s off the list.)

Drove the van a little more tonight. I so *love* the backup camera. Even though it feels weird to face forward instead of look over my shoulder as I’m backing out of a parking spot. It was quite helpful at Costco when some guy walked past INCHES from my bumper as I was moving my foot over to the gas pedal. So, the camera has already saved one pedestrian’s life. A stupid, clueless pedestrian that apparently doesn’t understand what backup lights mean, but still. LIFE SAVED thanks to the Odyssey.

Anyway. More appointments tomorrow and Thursday. More work deadlines. Still no full post on Tiffany & Co, but it IS COMING. Hopefully before the baby’s born. I can make NO PROMISES at this point.

Coming soon…

Honda Odyssey

We get to drive an Odyssey for our annual holiday trip this year. Cannot wait. It arrives tomorrow. I know I won’t want to return it when we get back! It’ll be fun to see how it does on a longer family trip. We’ll be sharing lots of photos and videos of the van in action. Let me know if you have any specific things you’d like to hear about.

FTC disclosure: No monetary compensation involved, although we are getting to drive a van from Honda’s press fleet. I have not been asked to write or say anything. In fact, the trip – which we do every year anyway – & blogging about it was my idea. I was just lucky that Honda agreed to give it a try by letting us drive the van.