Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brother P-Touch Might Make Organization a Snap

I recently received a Brother P-Touch kit as part of the P-Touch Ambassador program. I have to admit, I was hoping to receive an actual P-Touch as part of the kit, as memories of my first label maker came rushing back to me - you remember the one your mom had??...the one with the handle and wheel that you turned to punch out letters onto that thin sticker-like strip? Well, I've been told that an actual P-Touch is on it's way and you can rest assured that I will label everything in my house and hopefully live to tell about it (that is, if my wife doesn't kill me for labeling everything). An additional post will be coming soon where I highlight all the places I've stuck the labels and tested their durability, and hopefully better news about how they've helped organize my family photos, bills, work folders, and more.

In the meantime, what did come in the mail was a kit for me to use in the P-Touch Tough Test-It Challenge. Inside the kit were several pre-made labels, a plexi-glass block, nail polish remover, travel size bleach with palm brush, and sponge. My challenge, was to affix one of the pre-made labels to the plexi-glass block and to use the included tools to test the label's strength and durability. To tell you the truth, I was skeptical. I thought the label would easily come off and that I'd have to decline to write the blog post. However, that was not the case. My son and I scrubbed as hard as could, my wife used the nail polish remover on the label and then on her own nails, but nothing happened. These are professional labels that are not coming off anything. In fact, I'll need to ask the P-Touch folks what the secret is, in case I actually do need to remove one in the future.

What I can tell you after taking the challenge is that although we’re all familiar with label makers and their ability to help keep us organized, not all labels are created equal. Brother™ P-touch® labelers create durable, laminated labels that appear to be able to stand up to some of the toughest of conditions including rough handling, sunlight, water, and spills.

As I mentioned, I should be getting an actual P-Touch soon and boy do I have plans for it, including my tool kit and garage shelves. We'll see if it can survive inches of dust! And I have some packages to ship to my sister in Washington D.C. We'll see if the labels can survive UPS! In the meantime, if you are interested in a Brother P-Touch, you can order off the company site or head to your local office retailer including Best Buy, OfficeMax, Staples.com, CDW, amazon.com and more.

I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Brother P-Touch and received a product and gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grocery U Scan Makes Shopping Fun

Our four year old has never minded grocery shopping. He likes driving the carts that look like cars and he's usually pretty anxious to help get items off the shelves for us. However, grocery shopping has taken a whole new level of excitement with the new U-Scan machines at our local Vons, which allow you to ring up your own groceries. Our son loves it. The computer screen full of buttons to touch, the beep that sounds when he scans the product and even the bagging. And I have to admit, I kind of enjoy doing something with my son that makes him so happy. (Apologies to anyone who waits behind us in line -although we do speed it up once we see someone is waiting).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Parachute Express Is Coming to Town

For anyone who attended Gymboree classes in South Pasadena or Monrovia, you probably know every Parachute Express song by heart. Well, tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 17th, they'll be at the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena as part of its free summer concert series. We'll be there...hope to see other Gymboree families, too. Teacher Jenny, you listening?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Paying off the Carnival Manager for an Angry Bird

On our way back from the Long Beach Sand Castle Competition, we stopped off an old fashioned beach-like carousel complete with random carnival games. One such random game was a new Angry Birds game where you have to push a plus Angry Bird doll off it's perch with a stick that I swear is too big for the hole in which it is supposed to go in, making people like me, who played about 10 times, suckers. We'll for the past 4 months, my four year old has been asking for an Angry Bird plush doll and when he saw the possibility of finally getting one, he insisted on using all remaining tokens on this game.

Of course, then the addiction began....and $20 later, we still had not won the Angry Bird plush that I swear cost .25 to make elsewhere. Seeing how sad my son was when he went to turn in 20 tickets for a plastic army soldier and plastic ball, I pulled a guy who worked there aside and said "you've seen us playing for over an hour, can I just buy one of these birds off you?" It didn't take long until the manager was opening the game and handing my a red angry bird, for a little bit of cash. Although I would not normally do this, the best part was that my son didn't see any of it, so he assumes we won it fair and square!! I know there is something bad in this story, but at the same time, I was able to talk to him about being persistent and not giving up....Ugh!!

Ice Princess Time!

Each year we look forward to having the Ice Princess drive around the neighborhood bringing delicious ice cream to all of us - along with cheerful music and ice princess kindness. We had not seen her all summer and thought that perhaps she had moved on, but that was not the case. The city had delayed her permit, so she was unable to start until July, half way through the summer! Although we wish we had more time with her, we'll take advantage of the time we've got. If you're in the neighborhood, she drives by around 5:30 - 6 p.m.

79th Long Beach Sand Castle Sulpture Contest

Today we drove down to Long Beach to check out the 79th Grand Sand Sculpture Contest, located on Granada Beach in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach. It's a signature event of the Long Beach Sea Festival and has been covered by the news for years.

In the past, it has been full of professional sand sculptors, the kind you see on "Sand Masters" on the Travel Channel. However, that was not the case this year. Don't get me wrong, many were still far more impressive than anything I could ever do myself, it was just noticeably different than in years past. The fun part is that anyone can enter, which makes me think we'll enter one day when my son is old enough to do it with me. In addition to sign up stations, there were a couple food vendors, a beer garden, a kid’s zone, and various attractions for all ages. Teams began sculpting at 9am and were supposed to create the sculpture that best embodies “The Spirit of Long Beach”, which is this year’s theme. The contest and the prize ceremony took place today between 2pm and 4pm, but the sculptures will still be up tomorrow for anyone in the area looking for something fun to do.

After viewing the competition, we played a little in the water, avoiding random pitbulls running on the sand (yes, this ain't Santa Monica), but enjoying dolphins swimming in the water! (Not sure if you can see it from this photo - it's the little black dot in the water.

To learn more about the competition log on here: http://www.visitlongbeach.com/calendar/index.cfm?eventid=3440

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Forget Cupcakes...Macarons are the new IT Treat

We've blogged about our favorite little hole in the wall restauraunts before, we've shared our adoration of Bulgarini Gelato in Altadena (where the Italian owners are as dedicated to authenticity as the $75 a bottle olive oil they pour over their delicious desserts), yes we do appreciate the finer things in life. Today we discovered huge flavor in the tiny elegance of a carefully and divinely crafted macaron in Old Town Pasadena. Barely open one month, 'lette opened its second shop in our community meaning we'll no longer have to make the trek to the original store in Beverly Hills to enjoy their signature violet, pistacio, caramel, vanilla and chocolate macarons my family devours - and that serve as divinely sophisticated gifts!

Each day fan favorites and new delicacies - 13 in all - are created in the Beverly Hills location by Christophe Michalak, French pastry chef extraordinaire and winner of the 2005 Coupe du Monde de la P√Ętisserie. With deliveries arriving early in the morning, each day is a new conbimation of select flavors. Make sure you know which day they serve your favorite so that you don't miss out, although if you have to eat a different flavor, consider it a favor - they're all delish!

Without knowing where the chef is from, you can sense that you are being transported somewhere unique with each bite. You think you know what vanilla should taste like, but you don't until you try one of these! Stop by and treat yourself to my family's new favorite spot! And if you are our friend or family member, you'll probably get a special treat the next time we see you!

For a complete list of flavors, log on to: http://www.lettemacarons.com/macarons.html To purchase online and ship overnight, log on to: http://www.lettemacarons.com/order.html

In the meantime, stop by their new Pasadena location at 14 South Fair Oaks Avenue.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Family Movie Night - "Who is Simon Miller?"

It's time for the latest installment of Family Movie Night on NBC. The upcoming movie, called "Who is Simon Miller?" is on this Saturday, August 6th at 8/7 central. Check out the Facebook page. It is the story of a family of 4 who finds out that the husband/father is not who they think he is. The movie was a great family movie that brings the family together and gives you a chance to talk as a family about how you would deal with certain difficult situations.
The cast features Loren Dean (Simon Miller), Robyn Lively (Meredith Miller), Skyler Day (Sarah Miller), Drew Koles (Kevin Miller), and Christine Baranskui (Amanda).

This was a very good movie that has some good action scenes and good clean fun that you can watch with your family. This is my first Family Movie Night and after this, it is a tradition that my family and I will continue to do. Next time, we'll get some microwaveable popcorn!

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalof of P&G and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

BlogHer for a Newbie

Today was the first full day of the BlogHer Conference. Now in it's 11th year, the leading conference for bloggers and the brands that want to work with them, all converged on the San Diego Convention Center. That's where I was, too. Half party, half educational sessions, I was a little overwhelmed at first. I started the day walking the expo hall where I saw the Pringles mascot - the mascot of my cupboard since I was a kid.

I then passed through the P&G booth, which was the recreation of a home, complete with giant toilet! I then hit the Egglands Best booth, where I played a slot machine and won a plush "egg" for my 4 year old. Other booth visits included Glad, where they unveiled plastic containers with a built in compartment for dressing, dips or sauces! This had to be one of the best take- home tchotkes of all! Look for them in stores this fall. The Post-It company gave away purses that held post-its, which I knew my wife would like.

Hallmark had a special suite where you could pick a greeting card and they'd mail it off for you - complete with postage. They also raffled off a library of their recorded-book library - all 17! Skinny Cow handed out ice cream and chocolate candy. There was a Hot Wheels suite that was showing their new hot tracks, Hot Wheels tracks that actually mount on the wall! Kids will get a kick out of seeing their cars to loop-de-loops and more practically in the air!

Hershey's had a cozy suite that allowed people to actually make s'mores onsite!

And the Jimmy Dean Sun was on hand to great bloggers as well.

ChapStick handed out my wife's favorite item from the conference - apple flavored chap stick. My wife immediately applied it and began kissing our entire family! She kept saying how it reminded her of Bonnie Bell from her childhood, but that it had the thickness of the Chap Stick that she is addicted to. Aside from the brands, as blogger newbies (can't you tell we're new from the photographs?? - I actually forgot left my iphone and camera at home!) we attended several of the conferences that spoke about the business of blogging, the fun and personal side of blogging, content creation and more. There were also sessions hosted by leading brands whose marketing executives talked about how bloggers - even the smallest - could partner with brands on product reviews, though leadership and more. There were also several sessions that featured leading media folks, including one panel that included reporters from the Huffington Post and The Hollywood Reporter. The conference runs through Saturday and apparently there are a lot of "celebrities" coming on Saturday as brand spokespeople. My wife was excited about celebrity trainer Bob Harper, but we returned home today so she'll miss out. Anyway, it was quite an adventure.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Little Jessie James??

Anywhere we go with my four year old, they have kid-friendly tattoos. The library, tattoos featuring dogs reading books, birthday parties, super heroes or trains, school, books or food. Every weekend finds us putting tattoos on my son's arms and by Monday, they've faded just enough that they look the same color as a 80 year old sailor's 80 year old tattoos - you know, that faded blueish gray color. So I wonder...are all these tattoos creating little Jessie James'?