Happy 100th Anniversary Flagship San Diego

A harbor cruise is always a good idea, in my book. So when the century old Flagship Cruises and Events company invited us to a Champagne Sunday Brunch Cruise in San Diego Harbor, we were all over it. San Diego is a family favorite and so here was yet another way to experience it!

Photo courtesy of Flagship San Diego

Photo courtesy of Flagship San Diego

My family and I boarded the California Spirit at 10:30 am. There were other cruise goers all dressed up and seemed to be celebrating a birthday or anniversary. The vibe was immediately festive. My husband and I were handed mimosas as we stepped into the luxury yacht with our two sons (of course, they didn’t get mimosas). A delicious brunch buffet was laid before us and the staff were very attentive. From 11am – 1pm we cruised along the harbor, enjoying the gorgeous views as we dined on a breakfast spread, roast beef, turkey, crabs, shrimps, desserts and more. My boys especially enjoyed the chocolate fountain. There was live music too.

The boys even got to meet Captain Berkan, who allowed them to literally “steer the ship.”
steer ship1

All in all, it was a most pleasant way to spend a Sunday in San Diego.
Family Photo1

On May 2nd, Flagship Cruises and Events will host a 100th Anniversary Party from 2 to 6pm. Guests will enjoy food, drinks, and fun aboard Flagship’s Fleet of luxury yachts, docked along the embarcadero at 990 North Harbor Drive. It’s right next to the historic USS Midway aircraft carrier. Flagship’s 100th Anniversary party is free and open to the public.
According to Flagship representatives: “The party will take place aboard the California Spirit, California Princess and Quiet Heart yachts, and guests will be able to freely embark and disembark in order to enjoy the offerings and harbor view on all three boats.

Additionally, Flagship will offer free high-speed thrill rides on the Patriot jet boat for party guests. The newest addition to the Flagship fleet and the only boat of its kind in San Diego, the 70-foot Patriot features two turbo-charged 1,400 horsepower jet engines that send passengers racing through San Diego Harbor on an unforgettable joyride at 50 miles per hour. The complimentary rides will depart at 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.”

For more information, visit www.flagshipsd.com or call 1-800-442-7847.

I highly recommend Flagship Cruises!

Treat Yo’ Self* During #SpaWeek

National Spa Week, April 13-19, is when hundreds of spas, fitness facilities and wellness centers around the country will offer signature treatments that normally cost between $100-$500 at a major discount of just $50 each! That awesome facial $50. A hot stone massage $50. Feels like Christmas to me.


I like the idea of spring rejuvenation and going to the spa definitely fits right into this plan. Just take a look at the list of participating spas in Orange County.
Haven of Wellness – Huntington Beach
Hylunia Wellness MD Spa – Costa Mesa
Skin Laundry – Newport Beach
Lemon and Honey Day Spa – Newport Beach
Total Woman Gym + Spa – Irvine
Total Woman Gym + Spa – Laguna Hills
Total Woman Gym + Spa – Placentia
OC Facial Center – Mission Viejo
Kalologie 360- Ladera Ranch

And when you think about it, LA isn’t too far really if you want to experience that Korean Body Scrub + Hot Oil Massage with Milk Rinse at Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica!

To kick-off my “Spring Rejuvenation,” I visited #SpaWeek participant Skin Laundry in Fashion Island for the first time. I received their Signature Laser and Light Treatment, which took all of 10 minutes. It wasn’t quite the “escape” I had envisioned. I thought I’d have at least an hour to “spascape” into a facial…but guess what? It ended up being even better! In that time, my skin was “rejuvenated” in a way that it hasn’t experienced. Skin Laundry’s laser technology is an alternative to formula facials. Under the supervision of a registered nurse (hi Brooke!), the laser treatment was quick and effective. It is a deeper clean since the laser stimulates collagen and removed dirt and bacteria from the second layer of skin. The treatment is usually $75 but during spa week it’s only $50!


Don’t wait for Mother’s Day to have an excuse to treat and pamper yourself. Get on spaweek.com ASAP to see which treatments you’d like to experience and go make an appointment!

*ParksnRec reference :)

We Spent an Actual Night at the Museum

To celebrate the release of “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb DVD,” my sons and I participated in an Overnight Adventure at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Yes, thanks to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, we had the opportunity to spend an actual night at the museum.

Night at the Museum 3

We packed our sleeping bags and headed to LA on Friday afternoon. At the museum, we stayed up to play a scavenger hunt that took us through all the exhibits, with all the other campers, including Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops! Then, we enjoyed the third installment of “Night at the Museum” sitting on the floor at one of the exhibit halls. The movie itself was an enjoyable “bookend” to an enjoyable comedy trilogy. All the kids loved the monkey of course, and my older son, liked the “historical references.” The effects were cool too. And in the end, when the Ben Stiller character, Larry, says goodbye to Theodore Roosevelt played by the late Robin Williams, I felt sad knowing that Robin was really gone.

Natural History Museum LA


We slept in the Dinosaur Hall and woke up to breakfast by the Dueling Dinos. The staff of the Natural History Museum LA were awesome. And we were able explore more exhibits and the outdoor garden before the museum opened to the public. All told, if you are a fan of the Night at the Museum movies, you MUST watch this installment. If you are a fan of history and science and dinosaurs, you MUST visit the Natural History Museum. Make history come alive for your family.

Twin Infinity – An Intergalactic Nemesis Live-Action Graphic Novel Lands at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

If you haven’t caught any of the offerings of the Segerstrom Center’s Family Series, you’re missing out! The family series continues this weekend with the third and final installment of The Intergalactic Nemesis. The final story is called “Twin Infinity – An Intergalactic Nemesis Live-Action Graphic Novel” and it will be staged on March 21 & 22 at the Samueli Theater. It is the sequel to the hit shows “The Intergalactic Nemesis” and “Robot Planet Rising,” which follows the adventures of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Molly Sloan and her fiancé Ben Wilcott in this period story set in 1942 as they fight against a secret society of spies that spans the globe. No previous Intergalactic experience is necessary.

What I enjoyed the most about the Intergalactic shows in the past was its unique storytelling method with more than 1,000 hand-drawn, full-color, hi-resolution and intensely vivid comic book images displayed on a giant screen as three actors play all the parts and one Foley artist and one keyboardist perform all sound effects and music. Kind of like an old school radio show actually.

Remember to try and arrive early before the performance as the show is preceded by an hour of free creative activities. The Center’s Education and Community Programs Department offers these enriching experiences to provide young people and their parents more opportunities to play together creatively.

“Twin Infinity – An Intergalactic Nemesis Live-Action Graphic Novel” is recommended for families and children ages seven and older. Tickets start at $29 and are available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. For inquiries about group ticket savings for 10 or more, call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. The TTY number is (714) 556-2746. The performance on Sunday, March 22 at 12 p.m. will be sign-language interpreted.

Destination: Carlsbad

The Sheraton Carlsbad is located on Grand Pacific Drive off of Cannon Road in Carlsbad, near Legoland. If you are looking for a staycation destination, look no further than San Diego County. Just an hour drive from Orange County, Carlsbad is ideal! My family recently spent an overnighter at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa and had a great weekend there. We’ve gone to Legoland many times on day trips, and stopped at Carlsbad en route to San Diego many times. But making Carlsbad THE destination – that was kind of new to us.

The hotel itself offers a private entrance into Legoland. Discount tickets are available at the concierge desk. If you opt to skip Legoland like we did, you can lounge by the pool and just chill, or work out at one of the most state-of-the-art hotel fitness facilities I’ve ever seen. Then book an exquisite massage at the Ocean Pearl Spa.

Sheraton Carlsbad PoolSide1

If you have kids, then chilling out at a hotel, even if it is the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa, may not be their style and so I give you the TOP FIVE FAMILY-FRIENDLY PLACES TO VISIT IN CARLSBAD.

Carlsbad State Beach
7201 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, CA 92008
Recently named one of America’s best beaches, you can swim, surf, scuba dive, fish or play in the soft sand at Carlsbad State Beach. There are restrooms and shower facilities available along this beach.

San Diego Coastline with Pacific Ocean Waves

Carlsbad Lagoon
4215 Harrison St., Carlsbad, CA 92008

This was the find of our recent stay! This private aquatic center is a mecca for water sports. You can rent kayaks, wave runners, boats, stand up paddle boards and aqua cycles at reasonable rates and spend the day in the calm, un-crowded waters of the lagoon. You can also go wakeboarding or waterskiing. On land, they have decks overlooking the lagoon, where you can have a small gathering and barbecue or picnic.


Legoland California
1 Legoland Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92008
Over 60 rides, shows, and attractions all built around everyone’s favorite snappable brick toy – LEGOS! Everything is awesome.

Museum of Making Music
5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008

There is a permanent display of vintage instruments, audio and video clips, and an interactive area. The museum hosts many musical performances and events geared towards children.

The Flower Fields
5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Opening March 1st this year, the Flower Fields are home to over 50 acres devoted to raising the beautiful Tecolote Giant Ranunculus flowers.

Keegan Allen of PLL: Book Signing at The Grove

True confession. I’m a big fan of the ABC Family show Pretty Little Liars. And I do not even have teenage daughters! But I am an even bigger fan of the actor who plays the moody and sensitive Toby, Keegan Allen. I’ve been following him on Instagram, which he not only uses to post behind-the-scenes shots of his show and films he’s working on, but also to share his creative projects, his art and poetry.


Lately his feed is filled with shots of fans on stops from his book tour for his debut life.love.beauty, a photographic journal of his life thus far. Let me tell you, the book isn’t the usual actor’s vanity project. It does, in fact, have substance. It is a moving look into a young man’s life. In the book, he writes about his childhood, his ambition, his parents, an actor and an artist, growing up in California and more. A section of the book is dedicated to his co-stars on Pretty Little Liars, so fans will be happy about that.

OC Fans, would you like to meet Keegan in person? He will be at Barnes and Noble at The Grove in LA on Tuesday, February 10th for a book signing.


WHEN: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 7:00pm
WHERE: Barnes & Noble, The Grove – 189 The Grove Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90036

Music, Art, Imagination Combine in Gustafer Yellowgold at SCFTA

Back in the early aughts, we were all about the kid rock. We lived on the East Coast and my boys were really into the likes of Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkner. We even watched Dan Zanes at an intimate tock concert venue and had a grand old time. We were also starting to listen to a newcomer named Gustafer Yellowgold. What was great about their music was that it wasn’t patronizing, corny, annoying children’s music. The songs were in fact tunes that grown-ups didn’t mind listening and singing along to as well. From these kinds of songs, my boys grew into an appreciation of music by the Flaming Lips, They Might be Giants and David Bowie.

Gustafer Yellowgold

I’ve always wondered what happened to that kids’ music scene since neither Nickelodeon nor Disney play any of Dan or Laurie or Gustafer’s music. But I’m glad to know that they are still around (just not on TV, you could try the non-Radio Disney Children’s music channel on Satellite Radio.)
In fact, Gustafer Yellowgold, the alien from the sun living out an explorer’s life ina slightly psychedelic version of the Minnesota woods, a.k.a Morgan Taylor, will be performing at the Segerstrom Center For the Arts in Costa Mesa, as part of their Family Series, on February 21-22, 2015. Part pop rock concert, part animated picture book, the show will be a fun interactive multimedia experience.

Acclaimed by The New York Times as “A cross between ‘Yellow Submarine’ and Dr. Seuss.” Gustafer Yellowgold has some really whimsical, catchy songs. In a recent phone interview with the artist, singer/songwriter behind Gustafer, he revealed that it all started out with a yellow doodle and a song that he had already written for his rock band that they didn’t use.

This is the first song that got me and my family into Gustafer:

Here’s a peek into what a Gustafer Yellowgold live show is like:

You can purchase tickets to Gustafer Yellowgold at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts here. For more information, visit scfta.org and gustaferyellowgold.com

Family Values Come Alive in “The Book of Life” Movie

It is always such a treat to speak with the creator of a work of art. The movie “Book of Life” is not just another kids’ animated movie, in fact, it IS a work of art! So it was with pleasure that I interviewed the artist behind this opus, the genius who created the beloved characters, the gorgeous visuals and most importantly, the heartwarming story of Manolo, Joaquin and Maria in “The Book of Life.” His name is Jorge Gutierrez. “The Book of Life,” is his feature directorial debut.


The movie was originally released around Halloween, because the movie’s setting is the Day of the Dead (Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos). But far from being a dark and scary film, it is actually, a colorful, positive and uplifting story about three friends and their devotion to each other, their families and to love! The visuals are unlike any animation we’ve seen in a while – they are vivid and detailed!

Jorge was the artist behind Nickelodeon’s show “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera,” the WB’s “Mucha Lucha” etc. “I wanted to bring some of the things I had done in TV animation to film,” Jorge revealed. “I wanted something that looked unique.” He draws inspiration for his distinctive style from Mexican folklore, Japanese animation, Picasso and other artists.

Without giving anything away, the movie is a classic love triangle. Manolo the reluctant bullfighter-with-a-soul-of-a-singer and Joaquin the soldier, vie for the heart of the pretty and smart Maria. Woven through the tale are generations of families, Mexican beliefs, and Mariachi versions of rock songs!
But enough of my thoughts, you really should just go out and see it. Better yet, buy the DVD.

Jorge’s vision for the “Book of Life” was brought to life with help from composer Gustavo Santaollala and producer Guillermo del Toro. The movie features an all-star voice cast – Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, Ice Cube and Kate del Castillo.

Now comes the fun part, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment gave us a special “Book of Life” prize pack for one of our lucky OC FAMILY readers! The prize pack includes:
• The Book of Life Stencils
• The Book of Life Stationery
• The Book of Life Backpack
• The Book of Life Blu-ray
• Crayola Sketchpad
• Crayola Crayons

For a chance to win, simply name one of the stars in the movie in the comments below.

Knott’s for the Cure

Let’s face it, cancer is scary and painful and sad. It can be all these NEGATIVE things but put in perspective by people like the amazing Jaime Jenkins, it can be more than that. It can be something life affirming. Recently, I attended an event at Knott’s Berry Farm that launched “Knott’s for the Cure,” in partnership with Susan G. Komen Orange County. Knott’s and Komen are working together to raise money for breast cancer awareness, services and research by offering a special “Pink Ticket” and limited edition specially designed “pink” merchandise until March 27.

During the launch event, we honored fellow blogger, Jaime Jenkins of Polka Dots on Parade, who’s currently fighting breast cancer and is not letting it get in the way of living her life to the fullest. Her strength and bright spirit has inspired many of us online. She is a wonderful mom and an all around amazing woman! She gave a short speech at Knott’s telling us all to be positive. She shared the importance of the work that Komen does. Other Komen representatives shared more about what it is they do to help in this big fight against breast cancer.


Komen Orange County is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community. Through events like the Knotts for the Cure and Komen Orange County Race for the Cure®, Komen Orange County has invested more than $35 million in community breast health programs in Orange County and has helped contribute to the more than $800 million invested globally in research.

I attended the Knott’s for the Cure event with a dear friend of mine, Marie Walker Riddle, who is also battling for her life. Despite the light rain that morning, we had a blast and even went on the Jaguar ride twice!

Knotts for the Cure

The three month long promotion will provide guests with the opportunity to enjoy Knott’s world class entertainment, attractions and specially-themed “pink” décor, while supporting a great cause. The famous Calico Mine Ride, Knott’s Berry Farm Main Gate and the Camp Snoopy waterfall will all glow pink in honor of the campaign. From now till March 27, guests can purchase “Pink Tickets” for theme park admission only online at knotts.com. A portion of the “Pink Tickets” proceeds will benefit Komen Orange County.

TV Host Kit Hoover Talks About ASPCA and How You Can Help

I had the opportunity to chat with Kit Hoover, Billy Bush’s co-host on Access Hollywood Live, and a correspondent for Access Hollywood. She was very lively and friendly during our phone interview. We talked about her show, her work and animals. Yes, animals. She is currently involved with the ASPCA and wanted to let OC FAMILY readers know that you can help The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by shopping online! That’s right, the ASPCA has partnered with We-Care.com, an online shopping portal that raises funds for nonprofit organizations.

Kit Hoover | ASPCA

Easy enough right? Simply sign up for a We-Care account (it’s free!) and you even get the chance to win a visit to the set of Access Hollywood with Kit Hoover! Here’s the link: https://aspca.we-care.com/kithoover
But wait, you wanted to read about my conversation with Kit. Actually, the phone interview was with me and two other bloggers, one from Maryland and the other from Idaho. (Gotta love technology!) Here are some highlights:

You and co-host Billy Bush have such great chemistry working together on Access Hollywood, what’s the secret?

You know, what’s funny is that so many people want to know about the chemistry and it’s one of those things you can’t define, but when it’s right it’s just right. It was instant from the moment we met. Nobody makes me laugh harder. He probably gives me a full on belly laugh every day! We’re truly friends off the air too.

That’s probably the secret, you’re friends.

Yeah. We go out with our [spouses] all the time. He loves hanging out with my husband, I love hanging out with his wife. We have fun together, we love to laugh. I have fun sitting beside him every day.

You’re now working with the ASPCA, so let’s talk animals. Do you have pets at home?

When we moved out here (to California) from Connecticut, we were told we couldn’t have a dog [where we lived] so we rescued two cats, a guinea pig and a bunny. They said “No dog.” They didn’t mention the others.

Do your kids help with them?

I was emphatic about having animals for my children. My kids are 12, 11 and 7. Pets are so important. They teach kids so much. We had a rescue kitty named Daisy that died from leukemia and that was [my kids] first experience with loss. They cried so hard, but I think that’s an important part of life. With the bunny, they’re in charge of cleaning the cage, feeding the bunny and cleaning it. In school, all their creative stories are about the animals.

Did you grow up with animals yourself?

My parents rescued German shepherds. We’d always house them until we found homes for them. We took pride in finding great homes for the ones we would bring in. I think that taught my brother and I a lot. My [parents] were big into animals. They were always rescuing them, or when someone would move they knew to come to the Hoovers first if an animal needed a home.

Finally, tell us how your involvement with ASPCA came about.

I was so excited when they came to me. In this job, you get asked to be part of a lot of charities, and this one is really close to my heart. What is cool is they partnered with WeCare.com and I love this aspect: You can shop online and the proceeds go to ASPCA. It helps with rescue animals; it helps to protect animals from cruelty, any at risk animals. I love it. It is really an honor.

And anyone who logs onto to WeCare.com is entered to win to come out to California, see the show and hang with me. So you should all enter, that would be fun!

*Hoover is currently featured on a special We-Care/ASPCA page at https://aspca.we-care.com/kithoover. Every time shoppers make purchases from their favorite retailers via We-Care.com, a portion of their purchases will be donated to the ASPCA at no cost to the consumer. The We-Care/ASPCA page also features an opportunity to win a visit to the set of Access Hollywood Live, where the winner will meet Kit and view a taping of the TV show from behind the scenes.