Seize the end of summer with a beach picnic basket from Sessions

As summer winds down, seize the dreamy beach weather and plan a beach picnic in Newport Beach with the gourmet grub of Sessions West Coast Deli, new to OC.

To celebrate the least week of summer, Sessions has assembled a promotion for its Newport Beach Peninsula customers and beyond for those aiming to soak up surf, sand and some charmed family time together. From Aug. 25 through Aug. 29, Sessions West Coast Deli will offer a “Last Week of Summer Sandwich Special” beach picnic basket for $35 (a retail value $75), to serve four people.

Surfers as well as grab-and-go sunbathers have made Session Sandwiches a locals’ favorite, with the restaurant’s unique combinations of flavors, highest quality foods, farm-fresh produce and preservative-free bread baked fresh and delivered daily.

The beach picnic basket will features fans’ favorites including:
  • Meddock Melee sandwich
  • Summer Zephyr sandwich
  • Greatfella sandwich
  • Pirate Coast sandwich
  • Cucumber Salad
  • Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Shaka Spuds
  • Any four fountain drinks

Learn more about these menu items at
Sessions is located at:
2823 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92663
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Indian food anyone? A vegetarian look at Tamarind of London.

Crystal Cove’s Tamarind of London is one of the most exquisite Indian cuisine kitchens in Southern California. The location’s Michelin Star Chef Alred Prasad offers an array of flavorful find for vegetarians. I’m not sure why, but I never thought to stop in this upscale eatery–perhaps I was intimidated by unfamiliar dishes or just hadn’t fallen in love with Indian before. I’m so glad my husband and I popped in for this divine Indian food experience.

Walking into the restaurant is inviting indeed. You’re met with cheerful, energetic and contemporary shades of red and burnt orange. It’s a lovely ambiance with indoor seating and alfresco dining. I started out the without-kids night out with a refreshing Tower of London cocktail–a light libation of cucumber, basil, gin and more.

From there, we began a sampling of much on the menu, including dishes of black and yellow lentils, okra tossed in a tangy tomato paste and Aldo Gobi, a potato and cauliflower cuisine with onion-tomato Masala and Cashews.

The dedicated, authentic culture of Indian traditions were a delight to experience and the flavors were rich with authenticity but not overbearing in any regard. Dishes were prepared table side with fun finishings.

And everything had a special sauce that made the dish. All of which made for a fresh new find, with an array of flavors and options for fellow Vegetarians.

Tamarind of London’s food is cooked in these unique tandoori ovens (large red ovens pictured below) in their open kitchen, for healthy food and hearty taste.

Our evening ended with a sweet sampling of desserts of rice puddings and more.

Tamarind of London is a refined night out for a gathering with girlfriends, a date night or even an outing with adventurous kids. You’ll see a few multi generations of Indian families who are seeking out the eatery for its traditional authenticity–a nice sight.

Why settle for the same ole-same ole all the time. Get out there and live a little.

Also look for a new array of wine offerings on the horizon. Simplified vino choices that perfectly complement the restaurant’s menu.

More on Tamarind of London’s Chef Prasad:

Chef Prasad is the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin Star (retained for the 11th year). He holds the the title of Executive Chef of the Tamarind Collection, which has four locations in London and one in Newport Beach. Celebrating the immense diversity of India through his cooking, Chef Prasad has shared his sensory dishes with celebrities and public figures including the royal family, Tom Cruise, and Rihanna, to name a few. Some other notable accolades included being named one of Restaurant Magazine’s top twenty ‘Movers and Shakers’,  ‘Rising Star’ in Delicious Magazine, and voted ‘Chef of the year’ at the English Curry Awards.

Tamarind of London
7862 E Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, California 92657
(949) 715-8338
Mon – Sat: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sun: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Pacific Symphony outdoor concerts, Fantasia to Labor Day’s Tchaikovsky

Disney “Fantasia” Live in Concert show last weekend was such a perfectly engaging evening under the stars. And good news, another show hits Labor Day weekend!

With the almost-Supermoon shining during a classic repertoire from the original 1940 version and “Fantasia 2000” being performed live, heart-warming Disney footage appeared bigger than life on the big screen.

Fantasia music included “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” Suite—we particularly loved the Nutcracker pieces since my daughter dances to it each December with FBT.

The place was packed at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Several times throughout the night, I looked around and tried to appreciate the moment: my kids immersed in classical brilliance, the perfect summer SoCal temps, grown adults laughing to silly and beautiful animated imagery–all amongst a full-house crowd who there all in appreciation of the arts. It was perfect, really.

(An example of the fun on-screen footage during the Fantasia concert.)

If you get a chance, definitely consider going to the final concert of the season (complete with real cannons and fireworks!) It’s August 30 (details below). If you plan to go, plan on a picnic. We started our Fantasia night with a picnic on the lawn (picked up from Veggie Grill). The kids love eating and running about the lawn (it also helps them get the wiggles out before a show).

So you might wonder how kids do at a symphony? Well, I can tell you my little guy, Fox, is 2 years old and he’s been to four shows already since born. Fox was wildly engaged by the on-screen Disney antics and had a blast. My older children, Zoe and Ty, could appreciate the talents and notes, as they take piano lessons and definitely had their eye on the conductor as he led the orchestra to sync PSO’s sounds to the visuals on the conductor’s laptop before him. Everything working together was true magic.

In addition to a picnic dinner, parents can of course bring some vino. I picked OC’s own Red Siren from the Purple Corduroy folks. It was a fitting choice of classical sound waves and the waves of the Pacific Ocean. (The Purple Corduroy guys are a trio of epic surfer dudes; fyi, you can now buy Purple Corduroy at SoCo’s new LCA store.)

More details here on the upcoming show you won’t want to miss …

Tchaikovsky Spectacular

with fireworks & cannons

August 30, 8:00 p.m.Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

The traditional end to Pacific Symphony’s Summer Festival, includes the thrilling climax of thundering cannons and spectacular fireworks in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the concert opens with some of Tchaikovsky’s incomparable dance music, the Waltz and Polonaise from “Eugene Onegin.” The evening concludes in grand tradition with the dramatic finale of fireworks and 16 cannon shots in Tchaikovsky’s victorious “1812” Overture, featuring the Huntington Beach Concert Band, which also provides pre-concert entertainment. This aural and visual spectacle takes place Saturday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Click to buy tickets. 

Here we are (above) at July 4th Big Bad Voodoo Daddy PSO summer concert this year that we enjoyed with lawn seats, and you can bet we’ll be at the Tchaikovsky Spectacular too! We’re huge fans of PSO!

Have a last summer hurrah at Harrah’s Laughlin!

It’s a sublime time to hit the lake with cooler desert temps and less intense crowds. Harrah’s Laughlin lets you enjoy one of the top stays in the area—with your family and even your pup!

We’re a boating family but haven’t hit Laughlin in a few years since our youngest was born. It was fun to be back, and to experience the rewards of Harrah’s. If you’re not familiar with the area, Laughlin is located just 90 miles south of Las Vegas. It’s a relaxed, friendly atmosphere that welcomes millions of visitors annually. The town along the Colorado River has grown to include nine casino resorts–Harrah’s is the nicest.

 Harrah’s Laughlin is quite large with 1,500 rooms and 170 suites in three towers, four restaurants, Kids arcade, a fast food court, two specialty bars, a Starbucks, two pools (one adults only), a boutique, convenience store, health club and day spa. To be able to take your dog too—what a treat (their new “PetStay” dog-friendly program is relatively new)! Harrah’s is a welcome spot to return to after a day on the lake.

The resort’s sandy, ocean-style beach along the Colorado River is the only one of its kind of the hotels in Laughlin. It’s a handy spot to hang out after boating and a great spot to rent a jet ski with your kids.

Perks of a Harrah’s stay included the hotel’s Baja Blue Restaurant & Cantina with south-of-the-border favorites. It’s nice to have an on-trend spot to dine at, without walking elsewhere. And families will definitely appreciate the grab-and-go food court with ice cream, burgers and more.

The rooms are quite spacious. We stayed six days, so we were settled in for awhile and it was so nice not to be cramped and have gracious housekeeping services.

 Just a short walk out the back of the hotel, it’s fun to grab a water taxi and adventure down the river. Be sure to go at night when the town’s lights are a beautiful sight.

On top of all the water fun, the kids got to see a Vegas-like show.


Dirk, whose been seen on NBC’s World’s Greatest Magic, David Lettermen, and his own documentary “Big Cat Magic” on Animal Planet, had the kids mesmerized. It’s a fast-paced show with big-cat magic, comedy, beautiful dancers and large scale illusions including an appearing helicopter. You can catch the show through September 28, 2014.

Now, of course you have to also talk gambling when you talk Laughlin. I played a few slots, but my husband got his gamble-fix with a few hours at the tables (like he did before we had kids). Laughlin also makes for a close getaway for the guys. Hard-working Dads do deserve some time too. I’m told the fall season is a great time to go with the appeal of a long boat ride on the river with the guys, chased by some gambling at night (fyi, fall rates are seriously affordable too).

So whether a last summer hurrah at Harrah’s or a guys fall getaway, Harrah’s Laughlin is a fun stay with an array of offerings.

Also, speaking of guys, look out for Guy Fieri and Caesars Entertainment. They’re creating several new restaurants including one at Harrah’s Laughlin.

Harrah’s Laughlin

2900 South Casino Drive

Laughlin, NV 89029

Tel: (702) 298-4600

More ahead from me here, or keep up with me at, on Facebook and Twitter.

Also look for my stories each month in the OC Register Family Magazine.


Tried the Fresh Diet? Gourmet, fresh food delivered.

As busy moms, we often put “everyone else first.” It’s almost a cliche, as it’s heard so often, and seen repeatedly when it comes to our health and wellness.

With that said, this busy mom of three set out to try the Fresh Diet–gourmet, fresh food delivered to your door. All without having to worry about weighing, counting calories or cleaning up.

The gourmet delivery service, created by a Le Cordon Bleu Institute trained Chef, offers a Premium Plan, Chef’s Choice and Fresh Classic plan with seven days of the fresh food, prepared and delivered in Fresh Diet cooler bags that are thermally insulated to ensure the food is fresh, never frozen.

As a vegetarian, I found much to choose from, below is a look at a lunch salad I had of tofu, greens and veggies. Choosing the Premium Plan lets you dictate which foods you’d like to opt for. The serving sizes are generous and the food is quite delicious.

More than anything, the Fresh Diet gave me the insight into what I should be eating as a lifestyle, not a trendy diet.

Daily meals include a breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, appetizer, dinner and dessert (very gourmet sweet options will satisfy your sweet tooth). All the food is made without preservatives, so it really delivers for those interested in clean eating. Here is a sample menu of a day in the diet to give you an example.

So the big question: did I lose weight? I did lose a few pounds after being on it several weeks, but I cheated here and there (as summer vacations hit and traveling interfered). More than anything else though as mentioned, I was remarkably enlightened about what kind of foods I should be eating and learning the portion sizes. I saved all the daily menus to help me learn what to make in the future—even sweets can be a part of my reality now. 

Staying on the program “forever” isn’t a reality for anyone, as it is a premium service and wouldn’t probably be affordable to most. But taking the wealth of knowledge is a beautiful thing. I’ve since been so inspired by the program that I’ve picked up a clean eating cookbook and began cooking myself (for the first time in my life!). I’m cooking meals for my whole family now and learning to incorporate health into a time-crunched schedules.

I’d definitely recommend the Diet to those interested in a lifestyle and long-term wellness success. It’s a great jump-starter when time is tight and you really don’t know where in the world to start a clean-eating philosophy.

To try the Fresh Diet yourself, call 866.FRESH.50 (373-7450) or visit

VIDEO: OC kids love Pirate Coast SUP camp

In the world of Mom Ambassadors, this Mom is a big ambassador of Pirate Coast, as are many moms on the OC Family team. It’s a company with heart, love for the kids and passion for fun in the sun and all things OC. Their Kids SUP camp rocks and there’s still four more weeks left with Pirate Coast Paddle Company.

Here’s a video look I put together at some of the fun a week holds at the 5-day camp packed full of awesome when my kids were campers last week.


The SUP counselors are great fun with the kids (several are even teachers in the Irvine school district). In addition to learning water safety, balance and mastering SUP, campers do paddle races, beach challenges, water games, relays, SUP tricks, swimming, treasure hunts and enjoy ice cream hikes, a BBQ and much more.

Remaining sessions include:

Session 6 August 4th through August 8th – $275.00
Session 7 August 11th through August 15th – $275.00
Session 8 August 18th through August 22nd – $275.00
Session 9 August 24th through August 28th – $275.00

Plus, kids can often do drop in classes for the day; just call ahead to be sure-714-600-8454;  or email

Pirate Coast Paddle Company

1131 Back Bay Dr. Newport Beach, CA 92660

Get Directions | 949-278-0011 |

It’s a Minion Invasion at Universal Studios Hollywood

It was all minions, all day for us at Universal Studios Hollywood. The all-new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride is a giggly, mischievous, fun-hearted, little-yellow-people frenzy.

As soon as we arrived at the park, it was minions everywhere we looked, and our minion-obsessed two-year-old was in heaven. My kids had been seeing the park commercial on TV and couldn’t wait to see what it was all about. We were even that family who dressed in all minion wear for our little guy, Fox.

The fun factor started before we even got on  the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, as there were oversized minions outside the ride entrance, who were causing mayhem for photo opps. They are wildly misbehaved and will make you laugh.

The Minion Mayhem ride itself was really a riot. We rode it several times throughout the day.

And to our welcomed surprise, Fox got to ride his own “minion ride” (2-year olds are too small–must be 40″–to ride the real ride). Universal Studios set up a great thrill for littles, as their spinning version lets young children pilot their own “car” by moving a lever up and down. It doesn’t disappoint. The ride is in a recreation area of the first film’s memorable seaside carnival, Super Silly Fun Land; it’s an all-new, over-the-top outdoor family play zone.

(FYI, it’s very easy for parents to switch off riding; big kids can ride the real ride with one parent, who then gets a switch ticket that allows the other parent to come back and ride too–all while littles play in the Fun Land.)

Also fun is a host of minion games set up outside the minion ride area, allowing kids to win a minion of their own. We got lucky and Fox got his wish with a win by my husband.

As always, the best part of a day at Universal Studios Hollywood is Front of the Line pass. You save time by skipping lines–on everything, all day. It’s like magic, really. Enjoy one-time priority access at each ride and attraction*, including Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. (Gets you reserved seating at each show. Includes 1-day Park admission. Fyi, Front of Line Passes often sell out at the front gate ticket booths. However, when you buy online these sellouts will not affect you.)

After much minion fun, we hit many of our favorite other rides at the park, including The Simpsons Ride™ (crazy clever and will have you cackling). Plus we loved the classic Studio Tour (with all the Hollywood movie secrets revealed). Jurassic Park® is wet and wild good times. King Kong 360 3-D is a quick thrill. Shrek 4-D™ is relaxing movie entertainment. And there is much more fun based on your kid’s interests.
Fox also got to meet Curious George. It was like Christmas in July for him really.

The new minion ride is a perfect addition to Universal Studios Hollywood. If you’re planning to visit soon, here is some pricing information below. Have fun and make the most of summer before it’s over!

OC Fair 2014 is on! Are you in? Eat, play, ride, make memories.

The 2014 OC Fair (on through August 10) is in its second full week of summer fun with deep-fried munchies, Texas-sized donuts, daily exhibits, rides and games, games and more games. We went opening night, and all I can say is nothing says summer like the Fair.

We went on a Friday night, which is my favorite time to go; you get a little day time fun (and cooler temps) and the night’s bright lights.

In the spirit of the O.C. Brew Hee Haw, my husband and I sampled the world varieties. I opted for a frozen-topped Kiran (why not try what’s different, that’s what the Fair is about, right). It was like a Beer Slushie–refreshing, really.

This year, we indulged the kids with lots of games (which we don’t always do). We figured, what the heck, plus our 2-year-old was working us hard to win a Minion.

We ate our Fair-share of Fair food, starting with grilled corn on the cobb, varieties of ice cream and cupcakes, some popcorn, baked potatoes, fries and wrapped the night with Funnel Cake–of course!

Fox got his first ride on a pony (classic Fair good times), and he screamed like crazy after begging to get on. It’s those memories that make the Fair such good ole fun.

After that, we hit the more tame merry-go-round, and the big kids and I got giddy on some spinning rides (that went a lot faster than they looked!).

We played, ate and rode like 5 kids being kids at a summer Fair.

What more could you ask for really?

Visit for a full listing of each day’s offerings.

Experience the food, rides, exhibits, animals, music, action sports and fun, as well as the Super Pass, Toyota Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheatre and events in The Hangar and Action Sports Arena. The Fair is open Wednesday-Sunday.

Pricing info:

Children 5 and younger are free every day.

Super Pass – Get the exclusive Super Pass and enjoy admission to the 2014 OC Fair for all 23 days. The Super Pass may be purchased at the OC Fair and includes 23-day admission, express entry at all gates, 2-For-1 tickets for select events in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar and Action Sports Arena and a carnival savings book for the pass holder.

Kids Days – Every Thursday, children 12 and under receive free admission all day.

Kid’s Pirate Coast Paddle Camp now open through August 18

The Kid’s Pirate Paddle Camp is a 5-day camp packed full of fun. Kids learn the basics of stand up paddle boarding, and have a really great time. My kids went last year and were stoked SUP’ers at pick up time (click to read our experience).


Each day is focused on teaching a new skill and new water activity. Instructors will teach balance, control, steering and paddle etiquette, marine education and water safety. Campers will participate in paddle races, beach challenges, water games, relays, swimming, treasure hunts and much much more. Students will also be taught new skills and moves/tricks each day. The daily agenda will be subject to daily weather and ocean conditions. At the end of the camp, kids will be an equipped paddler with the skills and confidence needed to continue paddling all summer long.


$275 per week, with 10% off for siblings

Monday-Friday from 9:00am to 12:30pm (Ages 7-12 years old)
(10% discount for siblings) *promo code: “HAPPYSIBLING”

Campers should bring swimsuit, sunscreen, towel, water, snack, and lunch daily to class. Minimum of 4 participants per camp in order for program to be offered, with a max capacity of 20 participants per camp.

*2014 Summer Schedule

Session 1 June 30th through July 3rd (No camp July 4th) – $220.00
Session 2 July 7th through July 11th – $275.00
Session 3 July 14th through July 18th – $275.00
Session 4 July 21st through July 25th – $275.00
Session 5 July 28th through August 1st – $275.00
Session 6 August 4th through August 8th – $275.00
Session 7 August 11th through August 15th – $275.00
Session 8 August 18th through August 22nd – $275.00
Session 9 August 24th through August 28th – $275.00

Register Now
Questions? Email or call 714-600-8454


Fun new splash: get wet and wild at the Legoland Chima Water Park

My family and I got to check out the newly opened LEGO Legends of CHIMA Water Park at Legoland, and I’m happy to tell you that there’s much to love!

The Chima Water Park is presented by Cartoon Network so kids will instantly identify with some of their animated friends. The Lion Temple Wave Pool (pictured above) is the centerpiece of our new Water Park, where you enter though a LEGO archway (seen below) and into the pool area.


The whole water park is refreshingly clean, and the wave pool has an almost Vegas sense of splendor and beauty about it, which makes for an easy place to hang without worries of being knocked into anyone, as the waves are very gentle.


My husband and I remarked to each other how  it was so nice to hang out, while the kids played about.


You’ll find many different areas at the Water Park to entertain a family for hours–from the Cragger’s Swamp, a hands-on water play area that invites you to ride water slides, blast water cannons and jets and slide through the head of a massive crocodile, to the Eglor’s Build-A-Boat to more than 50 interactive water play features.

After you get your fill of water play, it’s fun to hit the rest of the park and ride awhile. i had a blast with my little guy on the many rides just his size.


I’d say definitely make Legoland a summer jaunt for the family. And so close to OC, it makes for a fun escape to play (or also stay at Legoland Hotel).

For online ticket prices click here, and check out the season pass which may be your best value. (Also fyi, admission to the new LEGO CHIMA Water Park is included with the Resort Hopper ticket and the Water Park Hopper ticket. You can upgrade a LEGOLAND only ticket or SEA LIFE Hopper ticket to include admission to the Water Park at Guest Services or at the Water Park entrance.)

LEGOLAND California
(760) 918-5346
Carlsbad, CA 92008

More ahead from me here, or keep up with me at, on Facebook and Twitter.

Also look for my stories each month in the OC Register Family Magazine.