Cavalia Odysseo Flash Giveaway

odysseooc_flash_giveaway_2
Last week, I attended a social media event for Cavalia Odysseo. It was as fantastic as I remembered it to be. I would like to give two of my readers the opportunity to see the show and experience the wonders of Odysseo. This is a flash 24 hour giveaway with one simple entry.

Odysseo is truly a remarkable show, perfect for the whole family. Visit Cavalia for more show information and to purchase tickets. You can connect with Cavalia on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Use code SocialOC to receive a 10% discount off ticket sale price.

Giveaway Time

Two lucky Just Another Hat readers will win an OdysseoOC Family Pack (2 adults & 2 children tickets) to see Odysseo at Irvine. This giveaway is open until December 7, 2016 at 8:00 AM, PST to US residents 18 years and older. Sponsor is responsible for prize award. Winners will be emailed and have one hour to claim their prize. If the winner doesn’t respond in a timely manner, a new winner will be chosen. For complete rules on giveaways hosted on this blog, visit Giveaway Rules & Policy.

Good luck!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

To increase your chance of winning, enter giveaways at other blogs:
Let’s Play OC
Cleverly Catherine
On the Go OC
Balancing the Chaos
Eat Drink OC

Odysseo is Back in Orange County

odysseo big top
Credit: Cavalia

Due to overwhelming demand, Odysseo is back in Orange County. Thanks to Cavalia, I will be taking Big B to this unique experience and live show. The breathtaking show Odysseo: Larger Than Life is back just in time for the holidays.

odysseo freedom
Credit: Cavalia

Cavalia Odysseo

  • Matinee and evening shows run December 1, 2016 through January 7, 2017
  • Location: White Big Top at the junction of the I-405 & the SR-133
  • Ticket price starts at $19.50 for kids, $39.50 for juniors, and $44.50 for adults for weekday shows
  • Family packages available, use promo code: FAMILY
  • Group discounts available for a minimum of 15 guests
  • Rendez-Vous VIP experience is back

Last spring, I took my husband to see the show and we were both blown away. We began the night with the Rendez-Vous VIP experience in the lounge. It was the perfect way to begin an extraordinary evening. You can read more about the show and the Rendez-Vous experience on my post. I’m hoping that Big B will enjoy the experience as well. Whether you go for a date night, to celebrate a special occasion, or for a fun night out with friends, the show will mesmerize you. If you do go with a group, you can avail of the group discount which includes priority reservation, group seating, and exclusive presale.

odysseo aerial acrobat
Credit: Cavalia

If you’re on the fence about seeing the show, I do hope you consider it; 90,000 people can’t be wrong. Yes, that’s how many saw the show during it’s first run earlier this year. The show is truly for the entire family. It’s a nexus of equestrian and performing arts. The stunning visuals, costumes, and special effects enhance the acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts and live music that performers exhibit throughout the show. Tickets would make a wonderful holiday present or stocking stuffer.

odysseo fly
Credit: Cavalia

Visit Cavalia for more show information and to purchase tickets. You can connect with Cavalia on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Use code SocialOC to receive a 10% discount off ticket sale price.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

DIY Star Wars Felt Ornaments

star-wars-ornaments

Last year, as the family eagerly awaited the seventh installment of the Star Wars saga, I created felt ornaments for the kids’ mini Christmas tree. I searched online to find ideas. Upon stumbling upon DIY Geekery, I was inspired. These easy-to-make DIY Star Wars felt ornaments were so fun to make. The kids LOVED them. Although you can make ornaments from pretty much anything, I made these from leftover felt.

The ornaments are about three inches tall. I fully intended on stuffing the ornaments with filling, but since I ran out of time, I decided to keep them flat. I would definitely stuff them the next time around just to give them a bit more depth. Also, I might use a blanket stitch for the edges instead of glue; I think the stitching would add a nice classic look to the ornaments.

As for the felt, I bought colors that were closest to the character features. Yoda is a combination of green, tan, and brown felt, with brown thread for eyes and hands.
Yoda ornament

Obi Wan’s face is cream, his hair and beard are white (it’s actually one piece), and his clothes are tan and brown. In the picture below, you can see all the layers of each ornament. Each character has at least two layers to add stiffness to the ornaments. One layer was just too flimsy since I didn’t stuff it. (Yes, I’m still obsessing over not stuffing them.)
Obi Wan felt ornament

Princess Lei’s hair is actually black, though the picture makes it look brown. Her face, like Obi Wan’s, is cream. Her dress is white with a black belt.
Princess Leia ornament

Boba Fett’s helmet is dark green and burgandy. His body is tan and his armor is dark green. The stormtrooper in the background is white and black.
Boba Fett felt ornament

Darth Vader is all black. He was the easiest of the characters to make since it required very little cutting. I used silver thread to outline his helmet to indicate his eyes and mouth. All of the ornaments pictured are one-sided. If you are so inclined to make them double-sided, more power to you.
Darth Vader ornament

Materials for Star Wars Ornaments

  • Felt, multi color
  • Ribbon
  • Thread, multi color
  • Glue

Although you can pretty much make whatever shape you want for the ornaments, I love the angel shape featured on DIY Geekery. I have since created my own template for these ornaments. Feel free to download them (Skywalker twins, Jedi, the Dark Side) for personal use.

Happy crafting.

My Babywearing Experience: An Update

baby k

Since my first post on babywearing, I have had the opportunity to try a variety of baby carriers (mei tai, structured carrier, wrap). I wore Big B as an infant and used the Baby Björn®. It was the one thing that my husband got to pick out all my himself for our baby registry. We both loved it. I liked being able to carry Big B like a backpack (albeit in the front) since I was used to carrying backpacks. I liked that I didn’t have to switch arms while carrying him or reposition him since it was arms-free. I liked that his weight was equally distributed so there was no stress on one part of my anatomy. Unfortunately, the model we got didn’t have quite the back support that I needed so as my son grew and gained weight, I couldn’t carry him in the Baby Björn® for more than 15 minutes as it hurt my back. My husband continued to use it for much longer since he didn’t have the back issue I did.

freehand at beach front view

Babywearing meant freedom to me. If and when Big B wanted to be held, it afforded me the luxury to have him close while being productive at home. It was also freedom from using a stroller, especially while shopping. I loved our stroller but the basket was just too small to fit my groceries. During those quick errands to the store for groceries or other things, it was definitely more convenient to put him in the carrier than to bring the stroller or put the infant seat in the cart. After Little B was born, babywearing gave me the freedom to play with Big B and go out-and-about with him with more convenience.

There are so many types of baby carriers and brands out there that it sometimes get overwhelming. Even when you do your own research, it’s still a little confusing. My suggestion is to go to a store and try the carriers out. It’s good to hear mommy friends and bloggers talk about their favorites, but it’s not the same as physically using one yourself based on your body. I think carriers are available to try at boutique baby stores and even Babies R Us. However, don’t quote me on BRU.

Once done with your carriers, feel free to give them to new mamas or donate them. I gave all of my carriers to my sister when she was pregnant. She is getting some good use out of them now that my nephew is here.There are also organizations that take used carriers and provide them to families who need them.

Whichever you decide on getting, I firmly believe that it will be helpful. So many parents wear their kids. There’s even an annual event to help celebrate it and create awareness.

Happy wearing!

Boudin Seasonal Salads

Have you tried the spring seasonal salads at Boudin yet? If not, you better hurry because the salads will only be available until the end of the month. Hand-crafted with fresh seasonal ingredients, the three seasonal salads pack quite a flavorful punch.

Boudin SF in Huntington Beach

My family and I had the opportunity to try this season’s salads during a media preview a while back. At each presentation of the carefully plated salads, my mouth watered with delight. The salads were perfectly paired with either a Sonoma Coast 2013 Pinot Noir from La Crema or a 2013 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay from Kendall-Jackson®. Wine with salad? Yes, please!

It was difficult to pick a favorite since they were all so delicious. The Mango & Red Quinoa salad was a culmination of many favorite salad ingredients like the supergrain quinoa, arugula, almonds, and goat cheese. Also included in the salad are Romaine lettuce, red grapes, and red onions. Of course, the addition of mangoes endeared this salad to me instantly. I love mangoes. I usually buy them by the box. Week after week, my family goes through boxes of this tasty fruit.

Boudin's mango and red quinoa salad
Mango & Red Quinoa Salad

I was giddy with anticipation when the Bacon, Blue & Beets Salad was presented. First of all, it had bacon. Bacon. Enough said. After Expo West, I was in love with beets. I couldn’t get enough of it. The combination of the two in a salad was a perfect union for me; and with the addition of blue cheese, it was an explosion of flavors in my mouth. Okay, I admit, I do love salad. All you have to do is look at my Instagram feed to see that I am a fan of salads. This particular salad had spring mix greens, chicken, red onion, red and golden beets, green beans, applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese, and spiced walnuts. That is one hearty salad.

Boudin Bacon blue and beets salad
Bacon, Blue & Beets Salad

The last of the spring salads introduced was the Forbidden Rice & Chicken Sesame salad. It contained baby spinach, black rice, chicken, Granny Smith apples, garbanzo beans, pickled red onion, and goat cheese. Similar to the Mango & Red Quinoa Salad, this salad is topped with a house-made dressing.

Boudin spring season salads
Forbidden Rice & Chicken Sesame (bottom)

All three salads boasted of tremendous flavor with limited calories. The three salads are all under 500 calories each, with the Mango & Red Quinoa Salad topping the list with just 287 calories. Are the salads filling? Yes, well, at least they were very filling to me. I would probably order at least two of the three and share with someone the next time I go back. It’s just more fun that way.

Visit the Boudin website to learn more about the seasonal salads. You can connect with Boudin SF on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saving on Organics and Groceries at ALDI

This post was sponsored by ALDI as part of Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

aldi food market anaheim

In an effort to save money on groceries, I do the typical things: buy items when they are on sale, use coupons, buy in bulk, and buy seasonal items. Last year, I started reading that ALDI stores will be coming to the west coast. I knew only a little about ALDI from the few news articles I read and knew that it was a no-nonsense grocer that had great prices, saving its customers up to 50%* on grocery bills. I recently visited an ALDI in Anaheim, one of 10 new stores that opened in SoCal in early April.

As someone who consistently strives to feed my family fresh, high-quality, (and if budget permits) organic foods, I found ALDI quite a competitor compared to other groceries I shop at. Although the organic produce section was smaller than other grocers, the price point was definitely lower. During this particular shopping trip, I purchased organic strawberries for $2.99 a pound, its regular price. I’ve only paid that much at other grocers when organic strawberries were on sale. I also grabbed a bag of organic Fuji apples for $3.99 a bag; again, quite a bargain. Given that EWG puts these two fruits at the top of the Dirty Dozen list, I make an effort to buy these fruits organic.

aldi produce aisle and organic produce

One thing that customers will find at ALDI is the focus on selling exclusive brands. In fact, about 90% of the groceries sold are under its own premium exclusive brands. Now, many shoppers who may not know that may find unrecognizable brands a turn-off. However, since most of the items I buy anyway are not the typical nationally recognized brands, I had no problem with that at all. In my experience, store brands are cheaper compared to national brands and the quality is comparable.

Below were some of my favorite finds at ALDI. I found one Barissimo Fair Trade Ground Coffee in the coffee section. I am hoping that the grocery chain adds more Fair Trade products to its shelves in support of this philosophy. The frozen Sea Queen WildCaught Salmon that sold for $3.79 a pack was the best price I have seen for wild-caught salmon, even compared to big wholesale stores. There was also a whole section dedicated to gluten-free products. Similar to organic products offered, gluten-free products were competitively priced.

aldi specialty products

In my quest to scout as many organic items as I could, I was thrilled to find SimplyNature® Organic Eggs and SimplyNature® Organic 100% Grass Fed Ground Beef. Both of these items were priced below what I would have paid for at other stores. Whether in the dairy section, produce department, or grocery aisles, it was easy to find organic products all throughout the store.

ALDI quick facts

  • 25 stores currently opened in California
  • Exclusive brands include: SimplyNature® (organic and non-GMO verified products), liveGfree® (gluten-free products), NeverAny! (products that are free from added antibiotics, hormones and animal by-products)
  • Customers deposit (refundable) $0.25 to use shopping cart
  • Encourage customers to bring own bag, but can buy plastic or paper grocery bags at the store
  • Customers can bag own groceries at a counter

aldi unique store features shopping cart pay per bag

ALDI focuses on providing fresh, natural products at affordable and competitive prices to its customers. My first shopping experience at ALDI was very positive. I went early in the morning, and without kids (yay!), so I definitely took my time to go up and down the aisles, read labels, and check out all that ALDI has to offer. My savings on pantry staples and organic items were noticeable in the receipt. As more stores are planned to open in California in 2016, I’m hoping that one will open closer to me.

Below are some of the items I brought home with me. As you can see, my bagging technique needs a little work. Thank goodness I brought a lot of reusable bags with me.

aldi haul

Visit the ALDI website for more information on how you can save money and when new stores are set to open. You can connect with ALDI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
*Based upon a price comparison of comparable products sold at leading national retail grocery stores.

Semi-homemade Cooking with Sprouts

Sprouts shopping cart

Sprouts is one of my go-to grocers. Not only because it’s close to my home, but because Sprouts offers brands that I feel reflect my philosophy for a better diet, nutrition, and overall lifestyle. I am working with Sprouts to promote the Better For You Brand Sale (#BetterForYouBrandSale). During this sale, Sprouts has amazing deals for the entire month of April.

On my last shopping trip at Sprouts, I picked up a few items that helped me create semi-homemade recipes for those times when I’m in a rush. Sometimes, I just don’t have the luxury of making a meal or a snack from scratch. It’s not just because I shuttle the kids to and from school and extracurricular activities, but I also volunteer for organizations, I am a MOPS leader, and I help take care of my aging parents. Even if I’m in a hurry, there’s no reason not to make something as healthy as I can possibly make it. That’s where Sprouts comes in.

I decided to experiment a little with one of the boys’ favorites: mac and cheese. In an effort to add more veggies to the kids’ diet, I decided to make mac and cheese veggie bites. The kids, and hubby, loved it. The recipe was simple and easy to execute. I pretty much just chopped whatever vegetables I had at hand with a mini processor and mixed them with the mac and cheese. I also added uncured bacon to add a layer of smoky flavor to the dish and topped with cheese.

mac and cheese veggie bites

I made the mac and cheese veggie bites as a side for dinner and leftovers kept well for the next day’s lunch. The mac and cheese veggie bites are perfect for school lunches or as a snack to take to the park or playdate. It’s bite sized so there’s no need for utensils, it’s compact so it doesn’t require much space, and it’s relatively mess-free. Additionally, every bite has macro and micronutrients that growing kids need.

mac and cheese bites for school lunch

Another quick semi-homemade recipe I experimented with was mini pull-apart monkey bread. For this, I bought the Immaculate Baking Company cinnamon roll and added cinnamon apples. Instead of making my own apple cinnamon, I simply added cinnamon to an apple snack and roughly chopped the apples into small pieces. I used the sauce in the snack pack and mixed that with the glaze that came with the cinnamon roll.

preparing cinnamon roll and icing

The kids devoured the monkey bread. I don’t know if it’s because they’ve never had it or because it was delicious. Either way, I’ve found a quick and simple recipe to make on the mornings when we don’t have a lot of time for breakfast.

pull apart monkey bread with omelette

Drinking their food is probably the quickest way to get fruits and vegetables into my kids. A yogurt smoothie with frozen berries and some fresh veggies certainly packs a nutritional punch. In a matter of 2 minutes, I can create a delicious and refreshing afternoon snack for the kids before we head out to the next thing.

berry smoothie

As for me, if time permits, I prefer to savor my smoothies in a smoothie bowl. Don’t let the appearance fool you, this smoothie bowl still took less time to make than homemade pancakes. It just looks like I spent time on it.

berry smoothie bowl with coconut chips granola hemp seeds

Healthy recipes don’t necessarily mean you have to spend a lot of resources. You can create delicious, nutritious meals, even when you don’t have a lot of time. Sprouts makes it easy for you to be healthy in a hurry with two simple recipes.

Check out Sprouts’ April Deals of the Month to see how you can save on your favorite brands. Additionally, each week Sprouts offers sales not on the monthly publication, so stop by to see what else you can get a deal on.

What are your favorite healthy recipes to make when you’re in a time crunch?