Over The Top Mommy

Month: August 2016

Tower of Terror Receives a Final “Check-Out Date” + Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort

Did you know that Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort begins on September 9? We can’t wait!  As usual, there’ll be some new and exciting things this year in addition to the spooky favorites you see reappear from year after year. Family-friendly thrills, popular seasonal attractions and spooky decor make Halloween Time so magical. This year, the season runs from Friday, Sept. 9, through Monday, Oct. 31. with offerings such as the ever-so-popular Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy attractions, themed foods and merchandise, plus spirited decor that features a giant Mickey Mouse jack-‘o-lantern on Main Street, U.S.A.  giant-mickey-jack-o-lanternWhat’s New This Year for Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort?
This year, guests will have a special and unique opportunity to experience The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror, as “Late Check-Out”! What in the world is that? It’s something guests have never experienced before and a must-do before The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror approaches its final check-out date on January 2, 2017! Beginning Sept. 9, guests who arrive after twilight will enjoy “Late Check-Out” –a chance to venture beyond the fifth dimension into complete darkness! It entails free-falling in the attraction’s haunted elevator shaft with all the lights out! Do you dare?

Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland
Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror celebration, which begins on September 9, also includes special musical performances, commemorative merchandise and specialty food and beverage items. Performing at the Hollywood Tower Hotel are the Silver Lake Sisters, characters from the story of this famous hotel who once performed at its rooftop lounge. The sisters make their return to the Hollywood Hotel during Halloween season.

Also new  this year s the “Frightfully Fun Parade” at Mickey’s Halloween Party, a separate-ticket event on 17 nights during the Halloween season. The parade features some popular Disney villains and a procession of grim, grinning ghosts. Shortly afterward, the parade begins with greetings from Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Grim, grinning (and hitchhiking) ghosts follow along in the procession, joined by other spirits from the iconic Haunted Mansion attraction.
Inspired by Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog,” the creepy Dr. Facilier calls on mystical powers, summoning his Shadow Men from the bayou to loom large over his strange and twisted Voodoo parlor. Mischievous Disney villains appear out of the darkness, ready to stir up some trouble, and their wicked gathering includes the Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella.

The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow also appears for the first time at Mickey’s Halloween Party. He brings a warning to guests, riding through the park on his ghostly black steed with a flickering jack-‘o-lantern.more-halloween-decorSpooky Halloween Traditions at Disneyland Park
Throughout the Halloween season, guests will find special treats and thrilling traditions. Haunted Mansion Holiday returns to celebrate the collision between Halloween and Christmas, and a familiar guest moves into the Mansion: Jack Skellington from the Walt Disney Pictures classic “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

HALLOWEEN TIME AT THE DISNEYLAND RESORT (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – Haunted Mansion Holiday brings the frightfully fun cheer of “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas" to the Disneyland Resort. The friendly spooks of Halloween Time return in 2016 from Sept. 9 through Oct. 31 along with fun seasonal décor, themed food and beverage offerings and attractions that get a special seasonal overlay for Halloween Time. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)
Photo credit Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

Jack Skellington brings a unique spark to the season and, for the first time, his friend Sally joins him in the Mansion graveyard. The annual Haunted Mansion Holiday gingerbread house is back with a new theme. This year’s version appears to have been stitched together from pieces of other gingerbread houses and treats. In fact, the ghoulish architect has stitched himself inside the house, and one green arm still may be spotted, sewing the walls together around him.

Photo credit Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland
Photo credit Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

Another Halloween favorite is Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, which is a Halloween-themed reimagining of the popular thrill ride in Tomorrowland, at Disneyland. Guests on board the speeding Space Mountain vehicles are thrust into a ghostly galaxy where they are bombarded with eerie screams, sound effects and music. Spine-chilling spirits pop out of the darkness, appearing to reach out to menace the space travelers.
The traditional Mexican celebration,“Dia de los Muertos,” is observed with a skeleton display in Frontierland, near Rancho del Zocalo restaurant.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (ANAHEIM, Calif.) – A colorful display at Disneyland park honors Dia de los Muertos with cheerful skeletons, sugar skulls and marigolds during Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, from Sept. 9 through Oct. 31 2016. The Halloween season features seasonal entertainment and décor, in addition to the return of Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. This year, the family-friendly Mickey’s Halloween Party will be held on 17 nights at Disneyland Park, where guests are invited to trick-or-treat in costume, celebrate with favorite Disney characters and enjoy the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular. (Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)
Photo Credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

As a special, after-dark treat during the Halloween season, guests visiting Disneyland on select nights will enjoy the“Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks spectacular.

Photo credit Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland
Photo credit Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland

During the day, the dynamic“Mickey’s Soundsational Parade” marches down Main Street, U.S.A., throughout Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. mickey-trick-or-treat-decorMickey’s Halloween Party
As I mentioned above, Mickey’s Halloween Party guests is a separate ticket event. Guests are invited to visit in costume and trick-or-treat throughout Disneyland for candy and healthy snacks. An extra special treat is the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular, presented exclusively for guests of Mickey’s Halloween Party and hosted by “Master of Scare-omonies” Jack Skellington. For more information about the event, read my post here.

Have you visited the Parks before at Halloween Time? What was your favorite part?

This is not a sponsored post. Some images are property of Disneyland Resort. All opinions are 100% my own. 




New School Year, New Healthier Habits With Nature Made®

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

The start of each new school year is another chance to get organized and re-establish  a daily routine. This year, I’m hoping to not only establish a routine that helps our mornings run smoother, but to integrate some healthier habits for my family, especially my daughter. When I say “healthier habits”, I’m referring to a healthier diet, filled with better nutrition. Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of a busy life can interfere with efforts to eat a more balanced, healthier diet though.back-to-school-healthier-habitsAs my daughter gets older, she seems to have gotten pickier about foods that she’ll eat. It seems like she’ll gobble down any vegetable on the planet (even Brussels sprouts) but fights me when it comes to fruit. It’s so strange. brussels-sproutsAs a mother, I’m always concerned about my daughter’s eating, mostly concerned about her nutrition. I also feel like lack of nutrition affects learning and education is something we place a high priority on. gummies-in-hand

One way for my daughter to get the vitamins she needs is for me to give her Nature Made® KIDS FIRST Multivitamin with Omega-3 Gummies daily. They are great-tasting gummies that come in Strawberry, Lemon, and Orange. (They’re all natural fruit flavors.) kids-first-multivitamin-with-omega3 Have you seen tried these with your kids yet? I found them when I was shopping at Target, near the pharmacy and healthcare section. They are definitely kid-friendly and she loves taking hers every morning before school. nature-made-in-storeNature Made® KIDS FIRST Multivitamin with Omega-3 Gummies provide 3 key nutrients, plus the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. I worry about artificial colors but their colors are actually derived from natural sources and don’t contain any synthetic dyes.
learn-something-newI feel confident that we’re starting the new school year on track with healthy habits. Choosing high-quality vitamins and supplements from Nature Made® makes it easier. It also doesn’t hurt that I remind my daughter each morning before school that you can learn something new every day if…you take your vitamins! 

Connect with Nature Made® on Facebook and Twitter. Connect with Target on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration “On the Road” at Disneyland Resort!

One of the best ways to end Summer is with some pixie dust in your inbox, inviting you to attend Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration “On the Road”. I just happened to be out doing to some back to school shopping when the invitation arrived and I’m pretty sure I let out the world’s loudest squeal inside of Nordstrom! Disney-social-media-moms-celebration-inviteThis “On the Road” event was brought to the Disneyland Resort and held at Paradise Pier Hotel, which is one of the on-property hotels.disney-social-media-moms-paradise-pier-hoteldisney-social-media-moms-paradise-pier-sign

disney-social-media-moms-sign-outsideThe day of the event, everything began bright and early. Upon check-in, I received the most adorable bag filled with tons of Disney’s 60th Diamond Celebration merchandise. The tables in the ballroom were also set with a pair of light up ears and a “Paintbrush” for each attendee. disney-social-media-moms-mickey-artWhen I walked into the ballroom, I was wow-ed by the tables which were all glowing with EARs and “Paintbrushes” at every place setting! I couldn’t wait to use them in the Parks, especially during the “Paint The Night” parade. The centerpieces were adorable too, with the Disney Moms logo. Can you spot anything “hidden”? disney-social-media-moms-tables

disney-social-media-moms-centerpieceI enjoyed a delicious breakfast and had the chance to connect with a bunch of other social influencers. It was fun to make some new friends too. I just love to network!disney-social-media-moms-breakfast

disney-social-media-moms-making-connectionsAfter making the rounds to take photos with many of my lovely influencer mom friends, we sat at the tables, anxious to see which special guests we’d be hearing from.disney-social-media-moms-leanne

Leanne Jakubowski O’Regan, Director of Content Relations for Disney Parks, kicked off the festivities and got everyone very excited about what was to come. In my opinion, she has one of the best jobs in the world AND has the best boss!

Our first speaker was Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director at The Disneyland Resort. She had a lot to share with us about what’s new at Disney Parks. Michele recently spent an extended amount of time opening Shanghai Disney and basically explained that the feeling of stepping into a Disney Park, no matter which one it is, is universal around the world. disney-social-media-moms-whats-new-at-disney-parksEach of the Disney Parks has so many new things to see and do. Here are just some of the recent additions to Disney Parks:

  • Tree of LIfe Awakening at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Frozen at the Hyperion Theater at Disney Callifornia Adventure
  • Soarin’ Around the World at Disney California Adventure and Epcot
  • Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World. This new neighborhood has been completely revamped and includes a ton of restaurants and shops.
  • Elena of Avalor is the first Latin-inspired princess and an elegant warrior. She can be found inside the Magic Kingdom

It’s always an exciting time at a Disney Park because there’s almost always something new in store for guests, just right around the corner.  disney-social-media-moms-whats-new-at-disney-parks2Next, we heard from Erin Glover, Editorial Content Director for the Disneyland Resort. Erin is one of my most favorite people to follow on social media, specifically on the Disney Parks Blog channels. My most favorite video that she ever did was her interview with Harold the Abomindable Snowman inside Matterhorn. If you’ve never watched it, here it is! (It’s SO funny!) 

Erin talked to us about The Disney Parks Blog and what it takes to organize the blog, plan the edoritial calendar and everything else that goes into making this 5 year old site a success around the world. disney-social-media-moms-erin-gloverdisney-social-media-moms-walts-tipsThe next portion of the program was something top secret! You know they mean business when they bring in security and you’re told to turn off any and all electronic devices. I don’t know that I’ve ever been involved in something so important!  What a treat! Amy Smeed was there to share some behind-the-scenes footage and facts about the upcoming feature film “MOANAfrom Walt Disney Animation Studios!

Amy Smeed. Photo by Alex Kang. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
Amy Smeed. Photo by Alex Kang. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Amy is the first female co-head animator on a feature film at Walt Disney Animation Studios. You can actually feel her passion about her work when she speaks. I can’t really say much about what we learned or what we saw but I can remind you that “Moana” is due to set sail in theaters on November 23, just in time for Thanksgiving, so go see it! disneys-moana-posterSince everyone in attendance works in social media and/or PR, learning about video and making the most of video on your mobile device was super useful for us. Our next speaker was Victoria Lim, Managing Editor of Content at Walt Disney World. She is so much fun and I’d have to say that I love the fact she isn’t shy about being right up there on the screen while on-camera. disney-social-media-moms-victoria-lim-on-cameraMany social influencers already use a lot of video to share their content but there are also others who need help getting started. Victoria literally walked us step-by-step, through some of her favorite apps to make videos including Magisto and Videolicious. disney-social-media-moms-victoria-lim-video-appsWhen I heard Leanne introduce the next guest as someone who had starred in both “Saved By the Bell” and “Beverly Hills 90210”, my teenage self got ready to “fangirl”. Out on the stage walked Tiffani Thiessen. She seemed just as excited to be at Disneyland as we all were and shared with us about how her daughter loves visiting the Parks a lot more now that she’s getting older.disney-social-media-moms-tiffani-thiessen Tiffani shared about her latest ventures which include her own cooking show, “Dinner at Tiffani’s” and publishing her own blog, in addition to being a mom and a wife. She seemed as busy as all of us are, juggling it all. She also shared that she does all of her own recipes and cooking for her show, as well as all of her own photography and writing for the blog. She said that she also runs the social media herself. I appreciated her efforts to stay authentic and connect with fans and readers.  I love how real she was when she said:

I don’t succeed every day but I try. I try to balance it all but it doesn’t always happen.

disney-social-media-moms-ginger-zeeThe final speaker of the morning, Ginger Zee,  who is also a “working mom” trying to balance it all. Ginger is the Chief Meteorologist for ABC News and Good Morning America. She also recently starred on “Dancing With the Stars” just 7 weeks after having her 2nd child. She is a strong, confident woman who admitted to knowing that you have to give up on perfection. (even though just looking at her and hearing her speak you’d swear she is perfect) Ginger spoke about giving up on perfection, balancing it all, and learning to focus your time. She said it best when she spoke about “living in the moment” and focusing on what’s in front of you. I also admire her statement about being able to do it all and have a child. I sometimes think there are people in this world who think that mothers can’t do it all. disney-social-media-moms-you-canIt was such a magical morning of learning, It was a chance to be inspired. It was also an opportunity to connect with others like me. I think most of all, attending Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was an opportunity to take some time for me and to be able to do something that makes me happy….which always involves Disney! It was such an honor to be invited! disney-social-media-moms-mickey

I was invited as a guest of Disney Parks to attend this conference. I was also provided with admission  to enter the Parks afterwards. All opinions are 100% my own. Some images and graphics are property of Disney. 

Getting to Know Kaiser Permanente: My KP Experience

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kaiser Permanente Orange County. All opinions are 100% my own. 

I recently had the opportunity to visit Kaiser Permanente Orange County (in Irvine) for the first time and experience it through the eyes of a new patient. The KP Experience” is on boarding experience for new members as a way to get familiar with Kaiser Permanente.kp-orange-countyWhat to expect as a new member
Your first visit includes assistance with such things as the check-in process and the scheduling system. On that same visit, you actually meet with your primary care doctor to get to know them and allow them to go over your health and medical history. kp-welcomeAs a new member in a network, health care can sometimes seem hard to navigate, especially when it’s new-to-you health care. There are often different offices or labs to visit. Even having to drive to a pharmacy after an appointment can be another task. Did you know that most Kaiser Permanente Orange County locations include a pharmacy, a lab, X-ray services and more? During my visit, they literally walked me through everything and were so happy to answer any questions I had.kp-hospital-and-medical-officeThere are locations throughout Orange County, as far north as Brea and as far south as San Juan Capistrano, which include Tustin Ranch, Foothill Ranch and the new Radiation Oncology Center located at the Anaheim Medical Centerkp-all-under-one-roofKP members have easy access to services they need. Along with primary care, urgent care, emergency care, and labor and delivery, they have access to a wide choice of specialty services.  Busy families need convenience, and it’s simple to find the care your family needs at Kaiser Permanente Orange County

My Own KP Visit
Upon arrival, I noticed how soothing the decor and design was in the lobby. They brought elements of the outdoors inside. I especially enjoyed the artwork and murals throughout the building. As you walk around the buildings and courtyards, it’s evident that Kaiser is big on preventative care and healthy living as there are many signs with encouraging messages for good health on them. kp-hallway-mural-1I was quickly checked in at the main desk but I also learned you can access all of it on their app as well. (continue reading to learn more about their app)  After I was called into the office, I first sat to chat with the nurse while she took my vitals. They take the utmost precautions to preserve patient confidentiality. I like that you’re not just sitting out in the open, answering private questions about your healthy history, for all to hear.kp-check-in-processOnce I was placed in the room, my doctor came in promptly and introduced herself. As a new patient, this first visit is done with the doctor that’s going to be your primary care doctor. I loved how thorough my doctor she was and I never felt rushed during my visit.kp-choose-your-doctorDid you know that at Kaiser Permanente Orange County, you can actually choose your own doctor? I think sometimes people have the wrong perception and think that you must stay with the primary care doctor they’re assigned to initially, but that’s not true.  You can go to KP.org and search the doctors according to their personality and experience to find the best fit for you.

Going above and beyond traditional office visits
I loved the doctor I was put with so I don’t think I’d switch from her. In addition to traditional in-office visits, Kaiser Permanente also offers video visits with doctors, telephone appointments, and new clinics and a conveniences for their members. Also, primary care doctors can make referrals in office that are pre-approved which means there’s no waiting around for that authorization call after your referral to a specialist. It saves everyone so much time and waiting around. In this day and age, convenience is key and a necessity.

A KP mobile app
Wow! They even have a mobile app where kp.org members can schedule routine appointments, view their past office visit information, refill most of their prescriptions, and view most of the lab test results. Whether it’s at home, at work, in the grocery store, wherever, you can access all of that from your mobile device.
As a health care provider, Kaiser Permanente has been recognized consistently for providing high-quality care by reputable organizations, such as JD Power & Associates, the Leapfrog organization, U. S. News & World Report, WomenCertified and many others.

To learn more about Kaiser Permanente Orange County, visit http://www.kp.org/orangecounty. Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter, too.


Shop ’til You Drop at Ontario Mills®

I’ve partnered with Ontario Mills® to bring you this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Have you ever been to Ontario Mills®? I went for the first time last week, to shop for Back to School and wow! The is amazing! ontario-mills-facadeOntario Mills® is California’s largest outlet and value retail shopping destination. Set in an indoor climate-controlled mall, it provides the ultimate shopping experience for visitors and has the biggest names in men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, jewelry, sporting goods, footwear and more. There are over 200 stores to choose from there plus a variety of eateries. ontario-mills-neiman-marcus-last-callHere are just some of the stores you’ll find at Ontario Mills®:

  • Neiman Marcus Last Call
  • Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH
  • Coach Factory Store
  • Michael Kors
  • True Religion
  • Lucky Brand Jeans Outlet
  • Nordstrom Rack
  • H&M
  • Forever 21
  • J.Crew Factory
  • Tommy Hilfiger Company Store
  • Abercrombie & Fitch Outlet
  • Nike Factory Storeontario-mills-nike

As summer comes to a close, we’ve been doing a ton of shopping to get everything we need for the new school year. Between clothes, shoes, accessories, backpacks, etc, the list just never seems to dwindle.ontario-mills-converseSince I have a daughter who loves shopping, she kept me on my toes by wanting to stop and shop in all of her favorite places. I now know what they mean when they say “Shop ’til you drop”! ontario-mills-wet-sealontario-mills-hot-topicYou’re guaranteed to work up an appetite while you’re there. If you’re interested in full-service restaurants, you’ll find Market Broiler and Rainforest Cafe. There’s also a giant big food court area where you can grab something a little quicker and sit down to enjoy it.ontario-mills-shopping-makes-you-hungryWith the way that styles and trends change so quickly, I’m grateful to have a center like Ontario Mills which offers fashion at great prices. Then it doesn’t seem so devastating when something goes out of style after only a few months, and you need to go buy new things. ontario-mills-converse-shoesI highly suggest you set aside an entire day when you visit Ontario Mills because you’ll probably want to spend an entire day there like we did. I wasn’t sure where to start so we just started on one end and worked our way through the stores. There’s also a Dave & Buster’s and a GameWorks inside, as well as the Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theatre and an AMC 30 Theatres. See? I told you they have everything at Ontario Mills®!ontario-mills-a-simon-center

For more information about the center, visit here.

Connect with Ontario Mills®on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



Back to School Teacher Self-Care with Udderly Smooth® + Enter to Win

Back-to-School is an exciting time of year for parents, students, and teachers! It’s a chance to start fresh and begin another year of learning! back-to-school-is-an-exciting-timePrior to the first day of school, I’ve usually spent several days of my summer break working on my classroom. I always want it to be perfect for my students. There are pencils to sharpen, name tags to personalize, bulletin boards to put up and so more.back-to-school-bulletin-boardsOnce the new school year gets under way, I still find myself spending extra hours after school each week, in my classroom. It just seems like there’s always something that needs to be done.teacher-confession

I have a teacher confession to make: I am so busy trying to get it all done that I’m guilty of not taking care of me. There are actually days when I skip lunch to work in my room or run off homework or cut up paper for an art activity. I guess I have a lot more teacher confessions I could make in addition to that one.self-care-is-importantI’ve read a lot about self-care lately and am learning the importance of doing so. It’s important to take time out for yourself during the workday, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes at a time. My skipping lunch to work isn’t something I should be allowing to happen and I’m going to change it, in addition to some other thingsa-special-thank-you-to-udderly-smoothI was so touched when I received a special teacher care package, filled with goodies, from Udderly Smooth®! It was so thoughtful of them to send it to me and several of my teacher friends. Have you heard of their products? They are beyond moisturizing and have the most adorable packaging! I love cows! Also, all of the products are made in the USA!i-love-cowsThe first thing I reached for when I opened the package was the cow stress ball. Stress balls are like the world’s best invention. Kids love them too!  It’s definitely something I will utilize in my classroom often!udderly-smooth-amazing-productsThese products couldn’t have come at a better time because keeping my hands moisturized at work is something else I am totally lagging on. I must wash my hands at least 100 times a day, as I’m always coming in contact with little ones. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration but keeping my skin moisturized needs to be another priority at work.make-yourself-a-priorityI put together a list of the things I’m going to try to work on this year at school. I’m going to keep this list on my desk as a friendly reminder and daily check list. I’m there to teach, create, and inspire…but I also need to take care of me!

at-school-i-willWhat are some of the things you need to do to take better care of yourself? Maybe you could make a declaration of those things like I did. giveaway-enter-to-win

You can enter to win an Udderly Smooth® gift pack and a $100 Walmart gift card. Just enter below on the Rafflecopter. Good luck everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Connect with Udderly Smooth® on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This is not a sponsored post. I received a teacher gift from Udderly Smooth® and was excited to share about it. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Back to School Locker Survival Kit + Free Printables

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BTSSpirit #CollectiveBias back-to-school-locker-survival-kit-2Summer’s come to an end and it’s already time for Back to School. It’s sometimes hard to transition back into the busy hustle n’ bustle of the school year. I always try to do something special for the beginning of the school year. It’s sometimes hard to impress teens but I’m hoping I still have it in me. GB-BTSWhen I was out shopping at Walmart, I saw this huge Back-to-School display in the center aisle that was filled with Ghostbusters themed merchandise and I couldn’t resist! back-to-school-survival-kit-ghostbusters-palletSuch cute little Ghostbusters erasers, notebooks, and most importantly, hand sanitizer. Have you seen the film yet? It’s still playing in theaters and was a big hit with our family this summer. If you’ve already seen it, you probably understand my obsession with the movie. If you haven’t, you need to get to the movies! What a fun film! first-day-of-school-giftbagAfter my shopping trip, I was going to go home and put together a fun little first day of school Ghostbusters themed gift bag and make a cute printable to go with it. (see below to print your own out.) back-to-school-survival-kit-candyIn addition to the fun school supplies, I found at Walmart, I also loaded my cart up with a bunch of my favorite chocolate candies that I found on the candy aisle. You can never be too stocked up! Here’s what I  purchased:

  • Milky Way® Midnight Miniature 10.5 oz.
  • Mixed Mini Variety Bag
  • M&M’s® Milk 42 oz.
  • SNICKERS® Mixed fun sized variety 35.09 oz.
  • M&M’s® Milk Chocolate Bottle (Look out for in store coupon with savings of $0.75 off 1 M&M’s® Bottle July 17 – September 30)

I wanted to make something she could keep in her locker, too. First, I decorated a magnetic locker mirror (you can find these in the school supply section) with a couple of printables. Now her locker mirror would be extra cute! back-to-school-survival-kit-mirror-how-to

back-to-school-survival-kit-locker-mirror-doneI also stuffed a small Mason jar with some of the candies, tied it with a piece of bright green lace, and stuck a “School Survival Kit” printable on the front. This will be perfect in between classes when she needs a pick-me-up!  back-to-school-survival-kit-jar-assembly

back-to-school-locker-survival-kit-mason-jar-doneTo download any of the free printables I used in this post, go here.

back-to-school-survival-kit-suppliesDo you do anything special for Back to School? Share with me what you do in the comments.

Getting Back-to-School Shopping Just Right with JCPenney #SoWorthIt

This post was written in collaboration with JCPenney. All opinions are 100% my own. #SoWorthIt #ad 

I can’t believe it’s back-to-school season already! Where did the Summer go? We tried to make the most of our last days off with a trip to the beach and a couple of other fun things but I just can’t believe school is starting.  dont-go-summerJCPenney always helps us ease back into the school year by offering all of the “basics” that kids need to start the school year right at affordable prices. I shopped there when I was a kid and now I shop there with my own daughter. JCPenney is a one-stop shop for the whole family! back-to-school-shopping-at-jcpenney-1When we were in the store, shopping for this school year, she found a ton of looks including Arizona denim pieces. They have jackets, skirts, tops and jeans and shorts, which are pretty much all kids want to wear these days anyway. She picked out a pair of Arizona denim shorts (since we live in California and she can get away with wearing them to school), a cute Arizona top, and a denim jacket. I thought it was kind of ironic that she wanted to wear a denim jacket with shorts, but whatever works, right? back-to-school-jcpenney-trying-to-get-it-rightI don’t know if it was more difficult to get her back-to-school look right (since moms don’t seem to know what’s cool) or to grab a decent picture of her in the outfit? Luckily, we finally got her look and the picture! What do you think? Adorable, in my opinion!  back-to-school-jcpenney-just-rightDid you know that JCPenney is offering some great deals on the latest trends for BTS on “Penney” Fridays and Saturdays? Yep! Look for these deals on August 19 and August 20, Also on “Penney Saturday” this week, you can grab the $13 Arizona kids jeans and $17 Arizona jeans deal. back-to-school-shopping-jcpenney-2What great prices on something that’s already an everyday value. (By the way, if you play Pokemon Go, and tell an associate or show them an in-app favorite character, you can receive an addtional 15% off coupon.) 

 I love JCPenney and was excited to learn about its national partnership with the YMCA. JCPenney believes in supporting moms and their kids, and through this partnership with the YMCA, they will be able to support the community through grants and donations, volunteerism, events and shared expertise. back-to-school-jcpenney-free-access-to-the-yThe partnership with the Y kicked off with a special Back-to-School community event for teens participating in YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, which included Arizona Jeans fittings and giveaways, vision screenings, salon services, and entertainment, including a guest appearance by Vanessa Lachey.   back-to-school-jcpenney-did-you-knowJCPenney provides opportunities to its associates by connecting them with their local Y branch to volunteer in many ways such as supporting summer camp activities, helping with youth programs, doing community clean up and tutoring or mentoring. I love any company that encourages and supports “giving back”!

So, have you finished up your Back-to-School shopping yet? What were some of your kids’ favorite finds?

Kids in the Kitchen: Hatch Chile Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This post sponsored by Gigasavvy. All opinions are 100% my own

It’s Hatch Chile Season and you’ll want to get your hands on some of these amazing, flavorful chiles from New Mexico at a Northgate Market near you.  They’re available now through 8/28 at your nearest Northgate Market.northgate-market-truck-chile-seasonDuring the month of August, Northgate Markets are hosting in-store Hatch Chile Roasting events on the weekends. For a list of the locations hosting the events, along with dates and times, visit herehatch-chile-inn-store-1We stopped by the newest Northgate Market location in Anaheim, which is my new favorite grocery store to shop at, and grabbed some Hatch Chiles to take home and cook with. hatch-chile-in-store-2Lately, my daughter has been asking me if she could do more cooking in the kitchen. I’m happy that she has an interest in learning to cook, so of course, I want her to. She suggested we incorporate the Hatch Chiles into one of her favorite foods, Macaroni and Cheese.  hatch-chile-recipe-doneI think most adults love “Mac & Cheese”, too. I know I never turn down a simple comfort food! I love the flavor of Hatch Chiles, so I knew it would be a great combination.hatch-chiles-in-store-2

I first guided her through the process of roasting the Hatch Chiles. It’s not difficult, it just takes some time.hatch-chile-recipe-roastingI love using our cast-iron skillet so we used it to roast the chiles. I like the way they seem to “dance” while they sizzle. You need to allow both sides to roast really well. It’s Ok for the chiles to appear blackened on the outside. Depending on what you’re making, you either remove that part anyway, or incorporate the blackened part into your recipe, to give it a smoky taste. Mmm! hatch-chile-recipe-sweatingAfter the chiles are roasted to your liking, you immediately stick them back into the produce bag (if they came in one) or else into a plastic bag and seal it, allowing them to “sweat”. After about 10 minutes, you’ll be able to easily remove the outer skin of your Hatch Chiles. It will literally just peel off . You’ll slice open down the center and remove the seeds with a spoon. (or by hand) hatch-chile-recipe-peelinghatch-chile-recipe-remove-seedsFor this recipe, my daughter diced up the Hatch Chiles and set them aside while we prepared the rest of the iingredients. hatch-chile-recipe-kids-help


  • 3-4 Hatch Chiles, roasted and diced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups large elbow macaroni (or your preference of noodles)
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups Mexican Blend or Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion flakes or 1/4 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (crushed croutons may also be used)

Directions for preparation: 

  1. Roast Hatch Chiles, dice, and set aside. (see above for roasting instructions.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use non-stick cooking spray to coat your baking dish. (We used a Cast Iron Pan for this recipe.)
  3. Boil the macaroni in a pot of lightly salted water according to the instructions on the package. Drain and place back into pot. hatch-chile-recipe-macaroni
  4. On the stovetop, pour milk into a saucepan and whisk in flour, salt and pepper, and onion flakes or diced onion over a medium heat. After mixture comes to a boil, allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.  You’ll notice the mixture start to thicken. hatch-chile-recipe-mix-in-chiles
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cheeses together, add milk mixture into the bowl and whisk together until all are mixed well. hatch-chile-recipe-cheese
  6. Pour cheese sauce over pasta in the and mix well. Add diced chiles to the mixture.
  7. Transfer to the broiler-safe cooking dish and top with a generous layer of bread crumbs. hatch-chile-recipe-ready-to-bake
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Set the oven to “broil” for 3 minutes, watching it closely, until the top is slightly browned. Immediately remove from oven and allow to cool prior to serving. hatch-chiles-recipe-done-2

This recipe was so simple for my daughter to prepare, with my supervision of course. You can find all of the Hatch Chile recipe ingredients at your nearest Northgate location. Here are just a few locations:

  • 230 N Harbor Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92703
  • 2120 Pacific Ave, Long Beach, CA 90806
  • 1410 S 43rd St., San Diego, CA 92113

Click here for a list of all the Northgate Market locations. Do you have any favorite recipes using Hatch Chiles? I’d love to hear about them.

Find Northgate Market on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.