Friday, February 16, 2018

Disney on Ice, Golden One Arena, and Light Rail Review

Tonight, we got to go to Disney on Ice at the Golden One Arena in Sacramento.  It was our first time going to the Golden One.  I was lucky enough to get some press tickets for the show.  This was also the kids first time seeing Disney on Ice and riding the Light Rail.


The Show

I'll start with the show.  Disney on Ice was more magical than I remember from childhood.  How often does that happen?  I feel like technology has taken things a long way.  For example, they project snow all over the audience during the Frozen scenes.  The scenery pieces and skaters who played background pieces were really amazing as well.  What took my breath away the most were the aerial stunts done by some of the skaters.  I don't remember them doing anything like that when I was a kid.  It was crazy to see people flying in the air on just a piece of fabric!


I also really liked that they started the show on time.  We walked in at 7:04pm which is 4 minutes after it started due to going to the wrong area at first and there were already skaters on the ice.  Another really cool thing is that we got to see Inside Out and Finding Dory which made their Disney on Ice premier this show.  These numbers were great for keeping the attention of my boys.  I also found out that one of the skaters from the Inside Out scenes is a Sacramento native named Justine Wong.  I thought that was really awesome!

Overall, Avery LOVED the show!  She really liked the interactive number and of course seeing Anna and Elsa from Frozen.  At 5, she is the perfect age for Disney on Ice.  My son Parker is 8 and he seemed to really enjoy the show.  He would put his hands up when the characters said to do so and he was clapping for the numbers.  He did get a little bored during some of the princess numbers but overall, I think he enjoyed about 90% of the show and that's pretty good.  My 10 year old son didn't complain at all during the show and he did perfectly fine.  He said he liked it.  I'm pretty surprised by that.  It was a great night out with the whole family which is usually hard for me.  There are still tickets available for $20 each.  If you go to Raley's or Bel Air, they had coupons to get tickets for $15 each but I'm not sure if they still have them.




The Golden One Arena

The Golden One is obviously a lot bigger than the Arco Arena.  I don't even know if that's what it's called anymore... but I think you know what I'm talking about.  I found the outside layout a little confusing.  We needed to go to the box office and struggled to find it.  There are so many doors yet so few you could actually enter.  It is a beautiful structure and the art around it is lovely.  

We sat in section 118 row S which is on the main floor without being an up close seat.  We were toward the back on the main floor, I imagine it starts with row A.  The seats were great.  The chairs themselves are comfortable.  There are cupholders on the back of the seat in front of you for drinks.  I really liked how there were lots of aisles with a railing going down the stairs.  It was really easy to get to your seat without trying to step over tons of people.  We, including my littlest, could see just fine from our seats.  I would come back to the Golden One.  


TIPS!  
1. I had my Swell bottle confiscated since you're not allowed to have water bottles.  I carry it in my purse at all times and did not think to take it out.  They would not place it in the lost and found nor let me pay check it.  Boo!  
2. Tell your kids you will buy them treats a different place or time.  Popcorn was $12 for bagged popcorn and a small soda was $5.  Ask me how I know.  They also have people walking up and down the aisles during intermission trying to sell stuff.
3. Get there early and take a trip to the bathroom.  My daughter was SO sad to have to go to the bathroom during the show.  She said "I don't want to miss anything!"  I felt so bad for her.  
4. I also heard you aren't allowed to have weapons and usually they consider pepper spray a weapon so any ladies who are trying to be safe instead of sorry cannot.  :(  They should really offer lockers outside of venues for this reason.  Walking downtown in the dark can be risky.  


Light Rail


We decided to take the light rail into downtown Sacramento because we thought it would save money on parking and stress on driving in traffic.  In retrospect, I would not do this again.  First off, you have to give yourself 45 mins to get downtown no matter what time of day it is because the light rail has to make a bunch of stops.  Second, it was not cost effective for a family of 5.  The tickets were $2.75 each person for a one way ticket.  To go to downtown and back, it was $27.50 plus $1 to park our car in the light rail parking lot.  I'm pretty sure I could have parked near the Golden One for about that cost.  I might have even been able to Lyft or Uber for that price depending on if we were at a surge rate or not.  Third, we missed our train twice.  The first time, we were trying to figure out how to pay for parking which was not information given in the parking lot.  (That's dumb!)  We had to wait 15 minutes for the next train since it was 5:45pm and it was during commute hours.  We missed our train coming back home too.  We were across the street when it pulled up and didn't have time to get there on time.  This time, since it was 9:15pm and not commute hours, we had to wait 30 minutes in the cold and dark for the next train.  Fourth, on the way, there were a lot of young people on the train talking really loudly to each other using swear words.  I'm guessing that's par for the course when school is getting out and commute times.  


While the kids thought it was kind of cool to ride the train, they did not like the waiting and how long it took to get to our location.  With the cost and the extra time we had to add onto our day, I would not do this again.  Perhaps you could plan it out better and not miss your train but if one kid needs to go potty, that whole plan is out the window.  

Hope you found this post helpful!  If you have tips for us on Disney on Ice, Golden One, or Light Rail, I'd love to hear them!  



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Monday, February 12, 2018

Walmart Grocery Pick-Up Service

Hi friends!  Today, I've decided to write a post about the Walmart Grocery Pick-Up Service.  I wrote a post about Amazon Prime Now/Sprouts delivery that went really well but I've noticed that every time I go into the app, the minimum order amount seems to be going up.  I think it's now a minimum of $50 to get Sprouts delivered.  It's $100 for Raley's to deliver or do pick up without a fee.  I wanted to showcase a lower cost option.  The minimum for Walmart is $30.  (This is NOT a sponsored post.)

walmart produce

You first start out by picking out your groceries online.  You can select a 1 hour window to pick up your groceries.  You can also get things beyond groceries such as personal care, health, pet items, etc... but the whole store is not available for this specific service.  The store I was ordering from has a full grocery section.  The ones that offer this service probably all do.  There were a lot of things that I'd never purchased at Walmart before so that was exciting!

When your order is ready to be picked up, they send you an email.  You can also opt to get text messages too.  They also provided a diagram telling you where you should pick up.  At my location, there were plenty of spots and they were out of the way from the rest of the parking lot which was really nice.  When you get to the parking lot, you can either call or check in on their Walmart Grocery App.  I got the app since I think I will be using this service a lot.  A person comes out with your groceries in crates and will bag them in your own reusable if you want.  You also have the option to buy buys if you don't have any.



For my order, there was also a list of substitutions that were emailed to me.  I was pleasantly surprised with Walmart in this sense.  For the items that needed substitutes, they gave me the same amount if not more.  For example, I ordered a Rice Krispie Treats 8 pack for $1.98.  They were out of stock so they replaced it with a 40 piece and gave me the $1.98 price!  I have had issues with other services trying to give me less product like ONE half gallon of milk instead of a full gallon.  I appreciate that Walmart is willing to give me the same if not more!  This is important to me!  Also, when I go there, the lady loading my groceries asked me if I was ok with all the substitutions so I could have turned them down at that point.


Now, onto produce.  This is where I'm always weary.  I know that a box of cereal will be fine no matter where I order it from but produce, who knows?  I ordered some loose produce and some packaged.  We have no complaints about any of the items.  Everything showed up in tact.  Everything tastes great.  You cannot make any requests though.  You buy the produce by the pound, each, or package.  There's no place to make a comment like "we like green bananas."


I also ordered other items like some candy for Valentine's Day.  I liked the option of buying holiday stuff since the kids would see it if I took them to the store.  This way, it's a surprise.  I also bought things like dried pasta, pasta sauce, bread, yogurt, etc... I didn't photograph all of it because it was a HUGE haul and would have taken me forever to stage.  Everything was good and showed up in tact.

Overall, I will order from Walmart again.  When my kids are on break, it is almost impossible for me to go to the store and remember everything on my list.  This is a great option!  I also like that the minimum is $30.  If you are sick and just need some medicine and soup, you can do this without having to pay an extra fee for the service.  If you'd like to receive $10 off your first order, please email me and I will send you a referral.  Or leave a comment with your email address and I will not post it publicly.  (If you do this, I also get $10 off an order.  Thank you for any support you show my blog!)




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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Galentine's Outfits, Celebrating Friendships, & Collab w/ DoYouKnowHeatherFrick

Late last year, I started watching Parks and Rec and one of the things I love about it is Galentine's Day.  I love how much Leslie loves her friends and how she takes time to celebrate them!  I think it's so important to foster and celebrate the friendships I have!  I literally could not make it through life without my friends.  Today, I'm collaborating with one of my very best friends Heather of DoYouKnowHeatherFrick to show you some outfits and share some thoughts on friendship.

Confession time: we don't really celebrate Valentine's Day in my marriage.  At one point, we decided to take the pressure off of the holiday.  It's actually the day we got engaged.  I guess you can't really top that.  We started doing small presents for each other and the kids, heart shaped take and bake pizza, and homemade cupcakes.  On Valentine's Day, I usually wear jeans and a t-shirt or sometimes sweats.

On the other hand, I love getting dressed up when I go out with my girlfriends!  I feel like they appreciate the clothes and the accessories.  That's one of the things I love about girlfriends!  There are countless reasons why I love my friends from being able to talk to really understanding and hearing me, I'm just so thankful for the women I have in my life!

Onto the clothes.  I put together 3 different looks to suit different personalities or situations.

 Look 1: Soft, Girly, and Romantic



Sheer top: Torrid | Tank: Old Navy | Tulle Skirt: Charlotte Russe

I wanted to just go uber feminine with this look.  It's Galentine's so I think pink is appropriate.  Honestly, I think pink in appropriate for any time.  The sheer top has ruffles and swiss dots which give it a really girly, cute vibe.  I just had some black flats on and that's the look.  I also think that plus women need to try to embrace things like a fluffy skirt.  I know it might not be the most flattering but it's fun and I love it so I'm wearing it.  I think you can tell that some of the volume is from the skirt.

Look 2: Classic Valentine's Look



Dress: Lularoe | Necklace: Walmart | Shoes: Payless

For this outfit, I wanted a classic kind of Valentine's Day vibe.  I've had this rose print dress in my closet forever and I think a red dress is such a lovely look for a night out or a brunch.  I put it with a pretty necklace I got on clearance at Walmart for $3 and some peep toe flats.

Look 3: Edgier


Dress: Old Navy | Cardigan: City Chic | Flip Flops: Crocs | Necklace: Walmart


You know how I'm trying to be more edgy?  It's a thing, read about it here.  I went out of my box and tried this body con dress.  It is ruched on one side so it pulls in at the waist.  I like that it's not too tight because I'm not here for showing all the lumps and bumps.  This leopard cardigan is currently one of my favorite pieces.  I wish I had gotten it one size smaller though.  I put on a mixed metal necklace (also clean race at Walmart) and flip flops because I didn't was the look to be too dressy.  Boots probably would have been better but it's feeling like SPRING here.

Cheers to all my Galentines!  You keep my world spinning and hold me up when I can't stand on my own.  I love you so so much!  Are you celebrating Galentine's this year?  Let me know what you're doing and what you're wearing in the comments.  Don't forget to check out Heather's blog for her photos and thoughts on Galentine's.

Photos courtesy of Mike Stewart.  You can check out his work on his Instagram @mikestewart528.



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Monday, February 5, 2018

January New Finds - Random Favorites

Hi friends!  Sorry for the lack of posts lately!  December was rough as we were dealing with a loss in our family and then January was almost non-stop illness.  I'm ready for cold and flu season to be over!

I've decided to start a new series on the blog (how many times have I said that?) to highlight new things I've enjoyed over the last month.  Just kind of a random assortment of stuff that has my attention.  Some of the items will be affiliate links, some won't.  Today, I have no affiliate links.  I just want to write a chatty kind of post to tell you want I've been enjoying in case you might enjoy it too.   I'm gonna start with my favorite picture from the month but more on that in another post.



1. Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix.  This is a travel food show on Netflix.  The show used to be on PBS as I'll Have What Phil's Having and has since been picked up by Netflix for 2 seasons.  The first season is available to watch right now.  I love food and I love travel (even though I don't get to do much of it) so this show is perfect for me.  But what really seals it is the host Phil Rosenthal.  He is the loveliest human being and a joyful eater.  He's so respectful of other cultures.  His self depreciating humor and willingness to immerse himself in different cultures is joyful.  It's a joyful show that just feels good and it's exactly what I need right now.  I wish there was more of it.

Screenshot from Netflix

2. Disney Emoji Blitz app.  YOU GUYS!  I am embarrassed about how much time I've spent playing this game!  It's a match 3 game like Bejeweled or Candy Crush except you play with cute little Disney emojis and they are so cute.  When you unlock an emoji, you get it on your keyboard and you can send it to people via text message.  It's a free app and I don't buy any of the upgrades or anything.  This has been great while I've been in bed sick.
Photo from Disney Emoji Blitz Facebook

3. William Rast Skinny Jeans.  William Rast is a company co-owned my Justin Timberlake.  They make clothes for men, women, and plus sizes!  I had a Macy's gift card and saw a video on YouTube about how these jeans were good for plus sized ladies so I got a pair with my gift card.  I am in LOVE!  I wear them all the time!  They are so comfy!  They also came with a tag that says "I'm Bringing Sexy Back."  I mean, what's not to love?!  I am an Apple shape with large legs (does that still make me an Apple?) and these worked for me in my usual size.

Photo from Macy's
4. Egg Tarts from 85 C.  I know that people have told me about this for a long time.  But I didn't really think that it would be that big of a deal.  I've had plenty of delicious egg tarts in my life.  In Chinatown in San Fransisco or in Little Saigon in Sacramento.  From fancy places and from grocery stores.  This is in my top 3 egg tarts of all time.  These are so so good!  I only bought two and I almost cried eating the second one because I knew there weren't any more.

Photo I took :) 

5. Coco from Disney Pixar.  I think every time a new Pixar movie comes out, I say that it's my favorite.  Coco knocked my socks off.  It was such a beautiful movie about family, tradition, and following your passion.  I wish Disney and Pixar would make a movie about every culture in the world because I felt like I learned so much!  I laughed and I uncontrollably sobbed.  I went with my daughter and I cannot wait for this to come out on DVD so I can show my sons this captivating movie.

Photo from Coco Facebook
Us before Coco started

What are your January finds or favorites?  Do you have something you think I should check out?  Please leave a comment and let me know!  

Monday, January 8, 2018

EASY Instant Pot Beef Tips Recipe

Raise your hand if you got an Instant Pot for Christmas!  I've actually had one for a few years (my first Instant Pot post)  but this Christmas, my amazing friend and fellow blogger Jax from Jax Chronicles (be sure to check out her blog for Instant Pot Recipes too!) gave me an 8 quart Instant Pot!  Oh my goodness!  It's been such a huge upgrade.  We have a family of 5 and my boys are big eaters so this gift has been life changing!  Today, I'm sharing a recipe with you that my WHOLE family including the picky eaters like.


I've been making Beef Tips in the oven for years based on the No Peek Beef Tips recipe from Mommy's Kitchen that my friend Angie shared with me.  My family really enjoys the beef tips especially over egg noodles!  Over the years, I've adapted the recipe just a little.  My only issue with these before tips is the consistency of the meat.  Sometimes it would be tender, sometimes it would be tough, other times it would be dry and stringy.  I felt like I was doing the same thing every time but it was a crapshoot what the beef texture would be like.

One day, I had purchased some stew meat but it was too tired to make stew.  It was already passed 5pm so my usual oven method of slow cooked beef tips would not work.  I asked my hubby if I should try making the beef tips in the Instant Pot.  I scoured the internet and didn't find ANY recipes for Instant Pot Beef tips.  I thought maybe it was a dumb idea since no one had done it before.  But Dustin told me that if I didn't try it, I'd never know if it would be great.  FRIENDS, you should never doubt yourself if in your heart you know something might work.  And in this case, if it didn't, I'd just be out a few ingredients and we'd have peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.  But that didn't happen!  They were the BEST darn beef tips I'd ever made and everyone raved about how tender the meat was!

Instant Pot Beef Tips:
1-2 pounds Stew Meat
1 can Light or Heart Healthy Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 packet reduced sodium Brown Gravy Mix
1 packet Onion Soup mix
1 cup Ginger Ale
1 drizzle oil

Directions:
1. Turn your Instant Pot on Saute Mode.  Add your preferred oil to the pan.  Brown stew meat.  Turn off Instant Pot.
2. Add all other ingredients.  Stir until meat is coated.
3. Close lid and set Instant Pot to manual for 9 minutes.
4. After 9 minutes, let Instant Pot naturally release.  If you're in a hurry, slowly release pressure after letting the meat rest for 10 minutes.  This helps the meat from becoming tough and dry.
5. Serve over egg noodle, rice, or mashed potatoes.


Now, I'm not saying this is the healthiest recipe but I did try to make some healthier substitutions.  This is a stick to your ribs comfort meal that is perfect for winter and fall.  We have it about once a month during the colder months and it's always a huge hit!

What are you making in your Instant Pot?  Let me know!  I'd love to try some new recipes!



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