Monday, July 24, 2017

#HikeForGrayson

Hello, my friends!  Today, I have a super special post for you!  A little over a year ago, I started following the story of a local three year old little boy Grayson Kemp who was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs Disease which is a "rare genetic condition where the lack of key enzymes results in progressive cell damage and neurological disorder.  There is no known cure." (Quote taken from Grayson's Go Fund Me Page.)  I have become good friends with Grayson's mom, Felicia.  When she decided to create a campaign called Hike For Grayson, you know we were all for it!


Felicia picked hiking because she knows that Grayson loves to be outside and spend time with his family.  He's never been able to walk so they take him on hikes in carriers.  The disease is taking Grayson's eyesight but they know he enjoys feeling the sun and breeze on his face.  Felicia wants people to see, hike, and explore places that Grayson will never get to go to.

The Kemp Family with local TV host doing a segment for Goodday Sacramento 

I've asked numerous times to fundraise for this family and she always tells me to have the money donated to Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation never asking for anything for herself or her family.  She does not want to see this happen to another family and is passionate about finding a cure.  Here's how to help (copied from Felicia's Blog):

The hike for Grayson challenge:
  1. Make a tax deductible donation to the Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation (CTSF)(curetay-sachs.org);
  2. Go on a hike and snap a photo;
  3. Post photo on social media (FB/Twitter/Instagram/etc.) with #hikeforgrayson (public post, please); and
  4. Tag @curetaysachsfoundation + challenge at least two friends to hike for Grayson!

Felicia also said that a hike doesn't have to be miles in the wilderness.  Explore trails in your town or take a walk around your neighborhood.  Whatever suits your lifestyle!  

Our family took a hike on a trail while we were on our Glamping Trip.  We hiked down the trail to the creek to explore.  Of course, we had to collect rocks because my kids love collecting rocks.  We brought binoculars because of course we did.  





The Kemp family is off to their Make A Wish trip on Wednesday and I would love for them to return to a lot of new #hikeforgrayson posts on social media and donations for Cure Tay-Sachs Foundation.  This was a fun and meaningful way to really value the time I have with my children while teaching them about service.

A few lovely bloggers are joining me today to share their hikes for Grayson too!  Please check them out!
Not in Jersey
Little Dove
Deer and Daisy



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Friday, July 21, 2017

Dear Glamping, It's Not You, It's Me. (And Boredom Busters for Kids)

If you follow me on Instagram (please do, I need all the followers I can get!), you'll know that we packed up the kids and took them glamping a couple weeks ago.  What is Glamping?  It's "glamour camping."  For us, it meant staying at Dustin's grandparent's cabin in the mountains where they have running water, a toilet (soooooo important to me!), electricity, a fridge, a small stove, and even "backyard" area where they had a nice gas BBQ.  I mean, how bad could it be?

Let's be real.  I'm not very outdoorsy.  Or the roughing it kind.  I'm actually a spoiled living in luxury especially on vacation kind.  I'm just saying.  But I thought I could do Glamping.  I mean, it's just like a little house, right?

In my defense, I lasted 4 days!  With no air conditioning in JULY and no cell service.  That's like a small miracle.  But on that fourth day, I had it with the being hot and sticky.  I couldn't handle more bug even though I was coated in bug spray.  I couldn't handle not being able to sleep because the kids were up all night chatting then having to wake up super early because the sun was shining right in my face.  I also couldn't take more time without the internet.  I need to be able to look things up and plan out my day.

I did, however, want to share with you a couple ideas for keeping the kids entertained when you're out in the wilderness besides the usually making s'mores and board games which we also did.  Obviously, I'm NO expert but I did come up with a couple things that the kids really enjoyed so I figured I should tell other moms and dads.  Maybe you struggle like me.  ALSO, these ideas are great for at home too.

1. Foam Glow Sticks
Here's a picture I got off Amazon of what they look like.  I didn't get a picture of ours before they were in action.  I actually picked up a couple at the Target Dollar Spot for 4th of July festivities.  These ones are cheaper on Amazon (affiliate link) if you wanna spring for 18 for $8.99 which I would because the ones at Target were $1 each.

Anyhow, we waited until evening and the kids each got a foam glow stick.  They are like short, thin white pool noodles.  You crack the glow stick inside and shake it.  The concept was SO cool!  I don't know how people didn't think about it sooner.

The kids had a blast outside with these!  They threw them in the air and caught them.  They had pretend lightsaber duels.  The spun them.  They danced with them.  They ran and jumped and swung them around.  It was literally the best $3 I spent on this trip!  Also, I got some SUPER cool pictures and video!




 2. Photo Scavenger Hunt
The next day when the kids were walking around and complaining they were bored.  I decided that we should have a photo scavenger hunt and everyone got a prize for COMPLETING the challenge.  I think it's important that they learn that they have to finish something before getting a prize.  Also, the kids all have tablets that they were allowed to bring on this trip for the purpose of taking pictures and a little bit of down time each day.  But you could either let them use your phone or buy cheap disposable cameras and actually print the pictures.  I prefer digital pictures.

Notes about my list.  I wish I had put more collaborative things on the list so people had to work together to get the photos.  14 photos was the perfect size list for the boys (ages 8 and 10) but we probably could have added a couple more.  This activity only took about 30 minutes but that was a lot for my 4 year old who was partnered with Daddy.  Also, the insects were extremely difficult for the kids to photograph so I would not suggest that.  I would suggest things like "a leaf with green and yellow", "a plant you've never seen before", or "art made from sticks" so they would have to really look around or make a little something.  This was really fun for us!  Here's my list and a couple pictures I took.




3. Farmers Market
Ok, this one is kind of cheating.  We can go to the farmers market at home.  I guess if you're roughing it, you might not wanna leave your cabin and go to the farmers market in the next town.  BUT if you're anything like me (bless your heart) and you want a taste of the local produce, why not check out the farmers market?  I just went on Facebook and typed in the town we were going to and looked around for events.  I found this market and it was SO fun!  There was a band and it was in a park with a playground.  We got some lemonade from the local baseball team lemonade stand that was fundraising and tried a bit of local food.  Oh and Avery got her "nice soft peach."





4. Giant Bubbles
Hey, it's me and I'm cheating again on this list.  We actually found a guy at the farmers market doing giant bubbles for the kids.  I checked out what he had and it was just dowels and cotton string.  I figured you could make it yourself at home.  There's tons of tutorials on Pinterest.  The man said his bubble solution was Dawn dish soap, water, and a little glycerin.  (The tutorials on Pinterest have bubble solution recipes too.)  It was SO cool!  You can see on the kids faces how amazed they were!


Hope you enjoyed the list!  These are things you could do at home too!  You don't have to Glamp if you don't want to... I know I don't.  :D  Sigh... I'm sure I'll try it again at some point.  Probably.  Maybe...


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Monday, July 17, 2017

$10 at Target: July Taste Test Candy

Hi friends!  Sorry this post is up a little late.  I took a bad fall crossing the street the other day and I've been hobbling around in pain since.  I have a skinned knee!  I feel like a kid except I sure don't heal like a kid.  I'm sure I'll be as good as new in a few days though.

I've been thinking about my $10 at Target challenge and while the concept itself is perfectly in my wheelhouse, I decided I needed a change.  I'm going to start having each month be a taste test of new or interesting things I've found at Target.  Dustin and I did this for a while when we were helping out our friend Tony with his Dynamite Gun podcast.  I've decided to bring back the taste test.  What do you think?  I always see products thinking "I should try that" and then I never do.  This is the perfect chance to go ahead and try.


This month, I was way behind on getting things together so I decided to try candy.  Life has been so busy and I didn't have time to cook or bake anything so I figured candy would be an easy and fun way to go.  Here are the items I found:

1. Sweetarts Whipped and Tangy - $2.69
I love tart candy so I was excited to try these Sweetarts!  They do have an airy texture but much more dense than a marshmallow.  They are definitely tart and finish sweet like most Sweetart candies.  I don't know how to explain the texture to you.  Avery said that they were squishy and she's not wrong.  I think there are other puffy types of candy you can get at special candy stores that have the same texture but I'm not sure what they are called like puffy strawberries.  Anyone?  Overall, we'll likely finish the bag but I wouldn't buy these again.  I like gummy Sweetarts better or even the original circles in the tube thing.  

2. Brookside Vineyard Inspired Chardonnay Grape and Peach - $3.69
I've loved the Brookside candies since my friend introduced me to them.  I usually buy the blueberry acai or the pomegranate flavors.  I was interested in this Chardonnay Grape and Peach flavor.  The chocolate is consistently the same in all the flavors I've tried.  It's polished to a shine on the outside but a nice dark chocolate taste under.  The soft fruit candy in the middle definitely tastes like grape and peach and the flavor is pleasant but I'm not sure I love it with the chocolate.  It's not bad and again I will likely finish the package.  I will go back to the pomegranate or blueberry afterwards though because I enjoy the tartness of those flavors more.

3. M&M's Caramel $2.69 (after Cartwheel discount)
I know these were in HIGH demand over the last few months.  I'm happy to tell you that Target had a GIANT space on the shelf full of these M&M's now.  These are really, really good!  They have a nice amount of chewy, creamy caramel inside.  I would buy these again and I'm sure my husband will love them too!

For the first time EVER, I was under budget at $9.07!  I'm so proud of myself!  Please check out the other hostesses in this challenge!  And link up with us if you love Target like we do!



Stephanie | www.wifemommyme.com
Becky | www.bybmg.com
Stephanie | www.thegiftygirl.com
Jess | www.secretsofasahmom.blogspot.com




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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Things to Do in Sac: Gather Nights

I've been meaning to write this blog post for so long but I have been so busy!  I wanted to continue my Things to Do in Sac series with one of my FAVORITE  events in Sacramento, Gather Nights.  I wanted to write this because the next one is coming up on July 13 and if you haven't ever been to Gather, you must go!  I've only been to the Gather in Oak Park but I haven't been to the new Gather in Rocklin yet since it was canceled last month.

Gather is an outdoor festival where there is live music and DJs, food vendors (tented and food trucks), beer, wine, and cocktail vendors, a craft area that sometimes has vendors, and a kid area.  It's from 5pm to 9pm and the event itself is free, you can walk around and enjoy the music, the company, and enjoy the ambiance.  Everything else is something you'd have to purchase should you choose to partake.  Parking can be a bit rough so unless you get there early, be prepared to walk a bit.



Some of my very favorite food vendors can be found at Gather.  I usually hit up Masa Guiseria, Wheel Lemonade, and The Rustic Puff.  Afterwards, I check out the food trucks which vary a bit from time to time.  Next, we grab a drink sometimes a lemonade or sometimes an adult beverage.  Then we make our way to the long communal tables.  I love the communal tables!  It adds so much to your experience!  I always end up talking to someone new because that's who I am as a person, let's be honest.




Personally, I don't bring my kids to Gather because I like to enjoy myself...LOL!  But really, I talk to a lot of vendors, chat with local photographers, and I usually see friends there who I chat with.  My kids do not enjoy waiting around while I chit chat.  It's not their thing.  They also don't like artisan type food and drinks.  They prefer kid food.  And while there is an awesome kid area at Gather, I like to wander around and chat and I would not leave my children unsupervised there.  That's just my own personal preference since I don't think they are old enough to be there on their own.  If they came, my hubby or I would have to stay with them in the kids zone which costs money for games.  Doing the art projects are really inexpensive but they cost money too, I think about $5 each.  After all the activities and food TIMES THREE, I think it's cost effective to get a sitter for them so hubby and I can have a date night.  Also, Gather is on a Thursday night and my kids have year round school so it's actually a school night for them most of the Gather Nights.

However, if you wanted to bring your kids, it is a great environment.  I've seen lots of kids there having a great time.  Like I said there are games for them to play, there are crafts for them to do, there's a little dress up area, sometimes there is a balloon animal twister, etc...  I've also seen lots of kids dance it up on the dance floor.  Also, since Gather is outside, it is a dog friendly event.







For me, Gather is all about the vibe.  Everyone is relaxing and having a great time.  There's music playing and the delta breeze starts coming in.  It's just always a nice night.  It's probably my very favorite date night in Sacramento so I'm linking this up to my friend Justine's How to Revive Date Night link up party.





What's your favorite date night?  Or does your town have special outdoor festivals like this?  Let me know!




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Monday, July 3, 2017

Best Bites: June 2017

Happy July!  Can you believe it's July and over half this year is over?  I can't.  I'm actually kinda freaking out over it.  I feel like I should have done so much more by now and changed into a far better person.  What can you do?  I guess we have 5 more months to get it together.

I'm starting something new this month and you'll have to let me know how you like it.  Instead of doing "favorites", I wanted to do Best Bites of each month.  I post so much food on Instagram and I don't post nearly enough here on my blog so I figured this is a great way to bring them together.  In no particular order, here we go!

Cupcakes from Katelynd Knill.  Katelynd is a local baker and I have been dying to try her baked goods.  She makes GORGEOUS cakes!  I got the chance to try a few cupcakes from her and they were AMAZING!  This girl knows flavor!  I got to try the Oreo, Mocha, and Lemon cupcakes and each flavor was so bold and pronounced.  I loved them!  I feel like a lot of cupcakes have the tendency to just taste sweet but these each packed a bunch and there was no questioning what flavor they are.  I can't wait to try more treats from Katelynd!

Green Tomatillo Spaghetti and Meatballs from Todo Un Poco in Elk Grove.  I really try to order different dishes each time I go to a restaurant because I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone and experience new things all the time.  I've gone long enough doing the same thing every single time.  HOWEVER, I was craving this dish.  You KNOW it's good when my hubby tells me he's ordering it too and I don't even care.  I usually try to get something different and we share both dishes.  Not this time.  I was gonna eat this ALL to myself.  It's a Mexican spin on spaghetti where the sauce is made with tomatillos instead of tomatoes.  This time it was dressed with some sriracha sauce and as always served with their fried bread.  I LOVE the green sauce on this dish!  It's so good!

Thai Papaya Salad from Deliciozo in Elk Grove.  My current obsession is papaya salad!  It doesn't matter what style it is (Thai, Vietnamese, Laos, etc...), I just love it!  It doesn't hurt that it's served cold and it was over 100 degrees so many times in June.  I love the pungent dressings!  And I like some spice in my papaya salad.  This version from Deliciozo is so fresh and bright!  I got the medium spicy and it packed a real punch of heat.  It's so good and the flavor always has me coming back for more!

Fried Chicken from Bar Rouse in Sacramento.  Here's where the getting a new dish every time you go somewhere really pays off.  I've eaten my way through quite a bit of the Bar Rouse menu but I hadn't had this fried chicken dish.  Honestly, I don't tend to order a lot of fried chicken.  No reason behind it, I just usually gravitate towards other things.  Well, you should gravitate yourself towards this chicken.  This is one of the best fried chicken dishes I've ever had!  It's served with a corn sauce, bacon braised kale, and smoked chili honey.  I can't even tell you how good this is!  The chicken is flavorful and juicy and crunchy and a little sweet and a little spicy from the honey.  The kale was good too and I loved the corn sauce!

Lobster Miso Ramen medium spicy from Ramen Parlor in San Mateo.  My cousin told me that she found the BEST ramen place near her home.  That is a TALL order so of course when we went to visit her, the first thing we did was go have ramen.  Their broth is AMAZING!  They get so much flavor into the broth but it's not overly salted (which I find happens a lot when places simmer broth all day.)  The medium spice level had a good kick but I honestly could have gone for more spice.  The noodles were a lovely al dente texture and the pork belly was melt in your mouth tender.  It was definitely one of the best bowls of ramen I've had!

Hope you enjoyed this post!  What was your best bite from last month?  Leave a comment and let me know so I can check it out to!




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