Renaissance Club Aliso Viejo Hosts Kids in the Kitchen

My boys participated in a “Kids in the Kitchen” cooking event at the Renaissance ClubSport in Aliso Viejo. They made apple turnovers and chocolate chip cookies with the help of the club’s executive and sous chefs! The treats turned out really tasty and the kids had fun. This class is offered as a part of the club’s Kids’ World Facility – which we were lucky enough to tour after the baking activity. Let me tell you, it’s definitely a safe and fun childcare environment.

kids in kitchen

Renaissance Club Aliso Viejo | Kids in the Kitchen

More than a health club, Renaissance ClubSport Aliso Viejo is also a hotel with many family-friendly events year-round.

Kids World

On December 21, they will be hosting a “Breakfast with Santa Event.” Call 949.643.6700 for more information.

Pacific Symphony’s ‘Nutcracker for Kids’ – a magical musical morning

The holidays are here and that means fun events for the family! One of our favorite holiday events is catching “The Nutcracker Ballet.” We’ve seen school productions and other variations but perhaps our favorite is the Pacific Symphony and Festival Ballet Theater’s (FBT) “Nutracker for Kids,” part of Family Musical Mornings presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank.
Nutcracker-630x185

The orchestra, led by Assistant Conductor Alejandro Gutiérrez, shares the stage with the enchanted ballerinas from FBT, led by Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla. Together, they bring this beloved Christmas tale of the prince and Clara to life, along with the classic battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s memorable music, performed live, fills the air with wonder. What’s cool about the “Nutcracker for Kids,” it was created especially for children ages 5-11, and runs only 45-minutes. This version of the ballet is adapted by Bree Burgess Rosen, and features narrator Charlotte Rubino, age 11, making it entertaining for the whole family.

Guess what? There’s more …to end the concert on an even more festive note, Santa Claus arrives to spread holiday cheer. Nutcracker for Kids will be staged on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Children are also invited to participate in a Musical Carnival at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. concert). Tickets are $35-$60; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.

I encourage you all to check out the Pacific Symphony’s Family Musical Mornings as a way to introduce your children to the orchestra and more classical entertainment, throughout the year. In January, they will be presenting “Cinderella, An Opera for Kids.”

Free Family Photo Day with Frozen Characters to benefit Motel Kids

CNN Hero Awardee Chef Bruno Serato of Anaheim White House Restaurant and his Caterina’s Club has been helping feed the motel kids*of Orange County for a few years now. They serve up to 5,000 meals each week to kids in need in Anaheim, Garden Grove, Buena Park and Stanton. The HBO Documentary* Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County paints a picture of families struggling to survive in the OC, one of the wealthiest regions of America.
Tomorrow, Chef Bruno will be hosting a free fun family event for the benefit of the “Motel Kids.”

Here are the details:

Enjoy a family photo day with “Frozen” characters, food trucks, henna and face painting, and bounce houses too! The event is free and open to the public but donations of Pasta & Cash Will Be Accepted For “Motel Kids”

WHAT: Families from around OC are encouraged to attend Family Photo Day where the characters from “Frozen” will come to life and food trucks, Planet Henna, face painting and bounce houses are among the free activities made available. 3 photogs will capture the fun and families will be emailed their photos at no cost. Donations of cash or pasta for Caterina’s Club, the nonprofit that feeds 5,000 OC “motel kids” (so named because their working class parents do not earn enough to escape living in dilapidated motels) are encouraged. The day is sponsored by Harcourts Premiere Properties.

WHEN: Saturday, November 15, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

WHERE: BILL BARBER COMMUNITY PARK, 4 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine

For more information on Caterina’s Club, visit thecaterinasclub.org

Ice Cream Chemistry

In sunny SoCal, frozen treats are a year-round staple. We’ve got everything from good ol’ scoops on cones, to ice cream sandwiched between cookies, and more. Now comes the newest trend, Nitrogen-blasted ice cream! Leading the pack is Creamistry, which handcrafts ice cream right in front of you by freezing your chosen flavors with Liquid Nitrogen.
It’s a neat science lesson for sure, but what’s more, it makes for a delicious scoop of ice cream. In a nutshell, Creamistry offers the freshest made-to-order ice cream since it isn’t batch-created but really made for you. The flavor combinations are endless.

Ice cream made to order. Liquid nitrogen tanks don’t just create ambience but are part of the experience. Nice touch with the interactive Instagram wall too.

According to Creamistry, “The secret to creating the creamiest ice cream is in the rapid freezing of the mixture. Traditionally, ice cream is made in a batch freezer, where it takes about 30-45 minutes to freeze cream into ice cream. Because liquid nitrogen is so cold, it causes the milk particles to stay very small and not form into ice crystals, leaving you with an ultra smooth, creamy texture.”

My kids picked cookies and cream and Nutella brownie, while I had a coffee shake. We also sampled mango and pineapple ice creams which tasted really fresh. The interactive Instagram wall was a nice touch.

There are Creamistry locations in Irvine and Cerritos and the just-opened Belmont Shore location. In fact, we have 4 free scoops to give you valid at Belmont Shore. Comment below with your favorite ice cream combination and we will choose a winner this week.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Creamistry Belmont Shore is located at 4725 East 2nd St. Long Beach, CA 90803

“Into the Woods” Musical Reunion at Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa

Before Once Upon A Time and Frozen and all these re-imaginings of fairy tales, there was “Into the Woods,” a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, which premiered at the Old Globe Theater in Sand Diego, in 1986. I admit I never saw the Broadway production, but as my sister was a big fan of the soundtrack, I am quite familiar with it. Plus, I love taking fairy tales, like Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel etc, and twisting them and bending them to make new tales. This Christmas, Walt Disney Pictures will be releasing a live-action fantasy musical film based on the Tony Award winning musical. But before the movie is released, how would you like to see the original Broadway cast perform some of the enchanting numbers from the musical?

This coming Sunday, November 9 at 1 and 6pm in Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine lead an all-star reunion of the original “Into the Woods.” Audiences will have the rare opportunity to journey back into the woods and American musical theater history with the creators and original Broadway cast of “Into the Woods.”
The reunion will include some conversation and of course, musical numbers! The show is written and produced by Eileen Roberts in association with Segerstrom Center for the Arts and will feature composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, author and director James Lapine, original cast members Bernadette Peters (The Witch), Joanna Gleason (The Baker’s Wife), Chip Zien (The Baker), Robert Westenberg (Cinderella’s Prince and Wolf), Kim Crosby (Cinderella), Danielle Ferland (Little Red Riding Hood) and Ben Wright (Jack). Mo Rocca will be the moderator; Tedd Firth is the musical director.

Tickets to the Into the Woods Reunion start at $59 and are now available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787.

Here is a look at “Into the Woods” in the 1988 Tony Awards:

TOCA Soccer Training Center Opens in Costa Mesa

Let me start off by saying I am not a big sports fan, but when my kids are playing a sport, I become the biggest fan! This year, I became a full fledged soccer mom when my younger son joined an AYSO soccer team. It’s been a blast! I admit I too went gaga over the World Cup this year.

So, when I heard about this soccer event, I thought I’d share it with all of you fellow futbol fans and soccer moms.

There are thousands of soccer players in Orange County, from AYSO to renowned clubs, high school, collegiate and even adult leagues. The first-ever TOCA Training Center is opening in Costa Mesa next Monday. Former Pro and World Cup player Eddie Lewis founded the center, which is exclusively dedicated to the TOCA Touch Trainer, a ball delivery system that allows players to improve their skills with increased “touches” to the ball, all of which can be programmed with an iPad. Think of an automated batting cage for baseball players.

Soccer TOCA Training Center

The 10,000 square foot flagship TOCA Training Center will feature five interactive soccer studios, each equipped with a TOCA Touch Trainer, a customizable ball delivery system created to improve training by increasing touches for soccer players. Retractable netting will also allow for a 100 by 45 foot turf field for team training or futsal games.

Featuring smart technology unavailable anywhere else, the TOCA Touch Trainer is able to precisely deliver soccer balls at specified speeds, locations and intervals for a unique and accelerated training experience. The Touch Trainer can be controlled by any iOS mobile device. Coaches, trainers and players can design their training sessions through the Training Center’s iPads or by downloading TOCA’s free app to their own iOS-enabled devices. Tracking the amount of quality touches and the results from training exercises will give each player a new way to assess and improve their skill level.

The TOCA Training Center will offer memberships, multi-session packages, group and team training programs appropriate for every level player. TOCA players have the ability to execute 10 games worth of quality touches in a 50-minute session with a TOCA Trainer. The TOCA training staff is headed by Dan Tobias, an award-winning Division I and professional soccer coach.

“The foundation for every soccer skill is a good first touch,” said Eddie Lewis. “The TOCA Trainer allows soccer players at every level to practice their touches and in turn, improve their technique and elevate their games.”

The TOCA Training Center is located at 2777 Bristol Street in Costa Mesa, off the 405 and 55 Freeways. They will be having an opening reception on Saturday 18th from 3-5 p.m. For more information, call (714) 361-8990 or visit TocaTrainingOC.com.

#TravelTuesday: Big Bear Family Getaway

We only usually think of Big Bear as soon as winter begins, when Southern Californians like us are looking for a place to hit the slopes. But the truth is, Big Bear is a great staycation destination year round.

We headed out to Big Bear Lake for a quick weekend overnight getaway recently and had such a blast that we hope to visit again soon even before snow starts to fall. From Orange County, it’s supposed to take about two hours up the mountain but delays on the 210 made our trip longer. (However, other routes to consider are Hwy. 38 (through Redlands) or Hwy. 18 (through Crestline), which is only five miles difference from Hwy. 330.)

Heading up the curvy mountain roads we rocked out to music, as we marveled at the scenery. The trees and elevation were so inspiring that my boys even dropped their digital devices to look outside!

When we got to Big Bear, our first stop was the Scenic Sky Chair at Snow Summit, where we had lunch. It wasn’t anything fancy but it was pretty good and the view was not too shabby. From the chairlifts, we watched mountain bikers navigate the terrain. At Snow Summit, we checked out the BMW Motorcycle Festival Powered by MotoQuest to the delight of my motorcycle-loving husband. Big Bear is an ideal destination for adventure riders! We passed so many motorcyclists along the way. My kids who weren’t as interested in the bikes, ended up geo-cacheing in the area with success.

Our accommodations for the night were courtesy of Gold Rush Resort Rental, which pays homage to Big Bear’s gold mining history! The Chipmunk Cabin was our home for the night and it was awesome. It was very spacious and clean (with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, it can sleep up to 15 people!) My kids loved the décor! (Yes, they were REAL stuffed animals.)

But what was even more exciting to them were the Mining Adventures at the front office next to the gift shop. Basically, the kids get to crack open geodes and pan for gold and other precious rocks and minerals. Gold Rush Resort Rentals/Mining Adventures/Gift Shop, is located at 40016 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake, Ca. 92315

One of the family-friendliest spots in Big Bear is the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain! It’s basically a small amusement park, the main attraction being the alpine slide luge track. We all enjoyed it so much that my boys went down the luge track several times. We also played mini golf and raced go-karts. Another family-friendly place is the Big Bear Funplex.

By the time the sun began to set, we were hungry for dinner so we headed into the village and strolled along the quaint streets. There were fireplaces along the street and singers on street corners. It was a lovely evening. We ended up having dinner at Teddy Bear Restaurant, with its laid-back atmosphere and home-style comfort food.
The next day, we visited the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which actually started as a rehab center for injured animals. Today, the zoo is still a rehab facility for injured, orphaned and imprinted animals and a home for those who cannot be released back into the wild to care for themselves.We viewed an arctic fox, some bald eagles, black bears, bobcats and even a pack of wolves! The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is located at 43285 Goldmine Dr., Big Bear Lake, CA.

For the grand finale of what had turned out to be a totally awesome Big Bear getaway, we sailed Big Bear Lake aboard a pirate ship! The 16th century galleon ship replica (named “Time Bandit”), the wench (!) and pirate captain lent to the atmosphere, which the kids aboard the ship loved! Grown-ups, on the other hand, appreciated the cold beverages on the ship, the good humor and the history of the Lake, as narrated by our Captain.

The tour was about 90 minutes long but it went by fast as it was pretty relaxing sailing on Big Bear Lake on a fall day. Current rates are $22 for adults and $14 for kids 12 and under.

Before long it was time to head back home. But we promise to visit Big Bear Lake again, maybe even go fishing and hiking, before the snow starts to fall.

Young the Giant Surprises Local High School

Two things I love. Good music and a good cause. When I heard that a favorite indie rock band of mine, Young the Giant, were making a surprise appearance at a local high school, I was all over it! Taco Bell Foundation for Teens had arranged for the “surprise” at Godinez High School in Santa Ana, as part of its Graduate for Más™ program. Through the program, the foundation is committed to inspiring and enabling America’s teens to graduate and accomplish great things through its programs, partnership, and direct financial assistance.
The Godinez High School band had been praciting Young the Giant’s new single, “Mind Over Matter,” for weeks and had no idea that they would actually get to perform with the band. In addition to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Taco Bell Foundation for Teens made a $20,000 donation to the school in the band’s name.

Young the Giant | Godinez HS | Taco Bell Foundation for Teens

The members of Young the Giant all went to Irvine schools and member Eric Cannata’s dad is a beloved teacher at Godinez High. After the performance, the students got to ask the band questions and it was a treat to see their curiosity. They asked about where each of the band members went to college and about how they knew that music was what they wanted to pursue. “We took a leap of faith,” lead singer Sameer Gadhia said. The kids then asked about what colleges Young the Giant attended, and about their first jobs. “You know, whether its Stanford or community college, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you want to go to college and when you get there, you make the most out of it,” said Sameer, who went to Stanford.

Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes This Saturday

My grandmother had diabetes so I am familiar with the disease. I had a friend in grade school who carried an insulin pen with her everyday. These days there is a rise in cases of diabetes. Federal health statistics show that 12.3% of Americans 20 and older have diabetes, either diagnosed or undiagnosed. Another 37% have pre-diabetes, a condition marked by higher-than-normal blood sugar. (Source: National Center for Chronic Disease Promotion and Health Promotion, 2014 Statistics Report) That’s why it’s important to support organizations like the American Diabetes Association, that set out to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all those affected by the disease.

The 2014 Orange County Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes will take place at Knott’s Berry Farm, this Saturday, October 11th! The 3 mile walk will go through the scenic grounds of the park (and Soak City) before it opens to the public. The event is set to raise $370,000. Registration is free and people walk together to join the movement to Stop Diabetes.
Step Out is the American Diabetes Association signature fundraising walk. The event has taken place in 125 cities nationwide for over 20 years, and has raised more than $175 million. Last year the Orange County Step Out raised $350,000.

There will be 5,000 participants, including corporate team sponsors; UnitedHealthcare, OPTUM Rx, Consolidated Fire Protection, Jackson Hewitt, Sanofi US, Walgreens, Walmart, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center, PIMCO, Corner Bakery, and Newport Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. Entertainment will include Emcee Maria Hall Brown: Executive Producer for Arts and Culture programming on PBS SoCal and current producer and host of the weekly program LAaRT, live entertainment from Union Hobos, Innovations Dance Academy, Katella High School’s Spirit Squad, The Laker Girls, Angel’s Strike Force, and Jack F.M.

Here are the details:
WHAT: Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes
WHERE: Independence Hall at Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90620
WHEN: Saturday, October 11, 2014
Check-In begins at 6:30 a.m.
Walk begins at 7:45 a.m.

To learn more about the American Diabetes Association of Orange County, click here.

Schoolhouse Rock Live! Comes to Costa Mesa

Once in a while, I like to take the kids to the theater (hear it with a snobby British accent). It is sometimes a challenge to find theater fare that both my kids and I would enjoy. Thankfully, there’s the Family Series at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.  This weekend is extra-special as they present something many of you parents are sure to remember fondly.

Here’s a clue:

 

You got it! This weekend, the cartoon Schoolhouse Rock comes to life on stage at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Presented by Childsplay, Inc., Schoolhouse Rock Live! will literally rock the Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on October 3 and 4, as part of the Center’s Family Series. How can you forget the TV show that taught a generation about history, grammar and math through songs like “Conjunction Junction” and “Just a Bill?” The songs have been updated and there will also be multimedia elements during the show giving the classic cartoon-come-to-life a modern vibe that kids and their parents will definitely enjoy.

Schoolhouse Rock Live

There will be free pre-show creative play activities beginning one hour before each performance. Schoolhouse Rock Live! is recommended for children ages 4-8. Tickets are $20. For more info, visit scfta.org or call (714) 556-2787

Here’s one more for the road:

Because Knowledge is Power!