Brouwerij West at San Pedro, Ca

Beer Enthusiasts Stop Here!

Brouwerij West, pronounced Brewery West, is an amazing destination for visitors to Los Angeles and Long Beach in particular. They are more than just a brewery, with their tasting room, daily food trucks, pop-up restaurants, historical building, and proximity to other local attractions, they are a perfect stop. Kids and dogs (leashed of course) are welcome and the parking is free. Add the beer itself, which is excellent, and Brouwerij West is a great lunch break location or evening outing.

Visitors from further away can take advantage of the Brouwerji West special with the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Pedro, Beaches and Brews package. Then schedule a tour and tasting! The two-night travel package starts with two Brouwerij West beers when you arrive at the Hotel, transportation to a hosted tour of Brouwerij West; and a five beer tasting. Learn more about the process and how water, hops, barley, and other ingredients come together in the fine art and science of brewing.

Located in a converted U.S. Navy Port Warehouse that was built during World War II, the brewery gives the area a new life after the building sat abandoned. Visitors can come and get a look at soaring ceiling and brick walls initially intended to house ships, now home to beer barrels and brewing tanks. The tour was a real highlight of the visit for me as I knew very little about beer before.

Another aspect that deserves attention is that Brouwerij West is a green company running entirely off solar energy and 30% more efficient in their water usage than traditional breweries. This is possible with the use of a super fancy mash filter. Obviously when using terms like “super fancy” you can see I’m not an expert, so for true beer enthusiasts and home brewers here is an article from beerandbrewing.com about how the process really works. I did walk away from my tour far more knowledgable about the brewing process and ready to test some beers!
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Food Harmonics in Ojai California

A Dream stop for Foodies!

Food Harmonics is so good they merit a trip to Ojai, not just a stop in if you are already in town. Located in Ojai California, a fun little city overlooking the beautiful mountains of Los Padres National Forest between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Food Harmonics is an absolute must.
Don’t be fooled by the quick order appearance when you first walk in, this place is quality food made fresh and worth sitting down to savor. There is great seating in the back or on the outdoor patio where you can look out and enjoy nature.

Don’t be intimidated by the menu board either. Take your time, ask questions, and know that everything we tasted blew us away. Homemade bread, soups, unexpected drinks both hot and cold are a mix of the familiar and items that might be foreign to you.

The entire menu is organic and gluten free. There are also amazing Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Paleo options. I know, very California Foodie but don’t roll your eyes until you have their Raw Vegan Pizza on your tongue and then it will be completely pleasure induced. Yes the Raw Vegan Pizza is my top pick!

Raw Vegan Pizza – Not the first thing you think to order, but it should be! Not exactly the gooey cheesiness we usually associate with the term, but I would eat this any and every day that it is offered. The crust has a surprising crisp texture, thick and hearty. The toppings are so fresh they make you feel good from the first bite. Pesto, cashew cheese, mushrooms, fresh tomato, and pickled onion give the pizza a unique taste. It couldn’t be better proof that healthy and tasty can go hand in hand especial when added to the long list of dehydrated goodness that make up the crust! Honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten.
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All-Inclusive Spa, The Oaks at Ojai, Ca.

Ready to take time for yourselves ladies?

Then the Oaks at Ojai is your destination.

When you think about Southern California beaches come to mind, but there is so much more to see just a short drive from other destinations like Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. A highlight is Ojai and the destination, the all-inclusive resort the Oaks at Ojai.

Surrounded by picturesque mountains is an oasis of green housed in mission style architecture and the luxury of modern amenities. A retreat from the high speed and high pressure daily grind is hard to find. Even traveling carries the burden of planning and transporting yourself place to place for meals and activities.


The Oaks all inclusive resort is the answer to that. This is a place for women, though men are welcome. Leave the rest of the family at home and come with a friend or go alone. Either way you will have a great time relaxing poolside, enjoying exercise classes, and eating healthy, tasty, energizing meals and snacks. This isn’t a boot camp, though there are ample opportunities to get you up, out, and moving. Hikes, swimming, yoga, dance, and exercise classes engage all guests at the level of their choosing.

Take the morning walks as an example. They come in three “speeds”, Hikes, Walks, and Strolls. Hikes start at 6:30am and last 90+ minutes. I took the morning hike and adventured up into the hills of the San Pedro National Forest for a view of the valley well worth the early start time. If a later wake up call and slower pace is more your speed then definitely catch the Ojai walking tour that will point out the highlights of the town and fill you in on the historic points and current details that make this spot a great destination.
I took my first ever pool exercise class and loved the shade sail over the area. This allowed you to stay out of the sun or embrace it while working up an appetite and working out your muscles. I loved it for the variety of moves I learned that I now bring to my solo swims to get an extra burn and stretch. I also enjoyed sitting poolside and being close to nature under the flowering trees.

Outside the water there are activities that you can add on to your stay, or on week days some different adventures are offered like a kayaking trip. Private hikes are available or get together with some new friends and plan a small group outing. If you like to bike there is a great local trail that even takes you all the way down to the ocean. You can rent on your own or take the guided ride that comes with a lunch and car ride back up the road to save you from peddling miles uphill.
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Last Minute Gifts for Mom

Here are a few ideas for those that are running late or had Mother’s Day sneak up on them. A little thought and a few options that might surprise that special lady in your life.

Quick Combinations

Only have time for a fast stop before you next see mom? Grocery stores or Costco have gift cards and goodies to put together a quick gift basket.


Movie Passes
 – Mom might enjoy a trip to the cinema so scope out what theater chain is nearby and grab some passes. Amp up this gift with a bag of popcorn and a couple of boxes of candy!

Go Green

– Any local home goods store will have plants, grab one with your gift card. You can also throw in an IOU for a shopping or planting date to use the card together! No one says the gift garden needs to be in the ground today! Or if a live plant is not an option a few bags of seeds will fit in any card envelope.

Something Homemade

– You may not be crafty yourself but you can give mom a gift that opens the door to all kinds of handmade goodies at Etsy.com

Set a Date

– Groupon maybe a good match for picking out a treat for mom. Plan an afternoon together and buy two, or send mom to the spa for some pampering and alone time. Buying for the woman in your life? Grab two too and have her bring a friend!
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GelPro Anti-Fatigue Mat Review and Giveaway


Let’s face it, standing in the kitchen is not the most comfortable spot in the house, or at least not without some help. Anti-fatigue mats make doing dishes, cooking, and chores painless and GelPro mats make it stylish. Made in America and with hundreds of options GelPro comfort mats marry form and function to enhance the design of any room you add them to. Before discovering the company which is based out of Texas and does all of their manufacturing in America, I thought comfort mats were boring one color, gray or brown, floor covering. GelPro opened my eyes to all the possibilities with their custom designs and innovative options.

The gel filled mat is engineered with a non-slip bottom and the custom durable designed top. I loved the mat. It is heavy which kept it from moving around, and
the added cushion was a benefit with my bad knee and back. Even when I was cooking and cleaning up after a big party the GelPro mat did its job and kept me comfy. Normally after that much time on my feet the soles can be sore and my knee aching, but not while I was on the mat. If you like to go barefoot like I do this is a must.
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Woodloch Poconos Resort

all inclusive resort

An all-inclusive family resort, located in the Pocono Mountains, Woodloch offers the best in lodging, dining, and entertainment for all four seasons. Rent a cabin or a room and enjoy time with family and friends. With views of Lake Teedyuskung and mountain vistas a vacation here is a chance to relax and renew yourself.

Kids will never lack for indoor or outdoor adventures. In warmer months, hit the mountains and climb the hills. In winter, you can ski or snow tube. Too cold outside? Try the six sided rock climbing wall which is available any season. Swimming is always an option as well, as the resort has indoor and outdoor pools. For those that like a little speed and some motorized fun there, are the bumper cars, go karts, and even bumper boats! If you crave some quiet, you can glide silently through the water on a kayak trip and experience a new view of nature and the surrounding wildlife. You might even catch a peek at an American Bald Eagle flying the skies.
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Welcome to IOWA!

Ever consider visiting Iowa? If not, maybe you should. There are some great family stops and a lot to do.  These are a few of our favorite stops on our recent visit.

iowa

Amana Colonies

Located 20 miles from Cider Rapids are the Amana Colonies, 7 villages that were originally German settlements in Iowa. Settled in 1855 the colonies remained self-sufficient until the 1930’s. The Amanians operated independently as a community by farming and handcrafting to maintain their own local economy. Today you can visit the villages and shop at their craft stores, eat local fair, or drink a glass of wine or beer. Antiques, furniture, home decor, clothing, and gifts you will find nowhere else create a unique shopping adventure.

iowa food

The Colonies tradition of great food is available for visitors to explore in the restaurants or specialty shops. The Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse has over 160 years of experience offering ham, bacon, sausages, beef, and pork to visitors and online.  The Ox Yoke Inn is a fantastic place to stop for lunch, and has amazing German style food. The staff is gracious and the food is affordable and filling. The Broom and Basket Shop is exactly what you might expect, a store dedicated to selling locally handmade brooms and baskets. Another interesting stop is Iowa’s Largest Walnut Rocker, at over 650 lbs. and 11 ft. tall. Great for a family picture. These are just examples of some of the interesting sites you can wander through on a visit to the Amanas.
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Macaroni from Monkey Monkey Music with Meredith CD Release

New music is always a great way to invigorate kids and get them up and moving. Monkey Monkey Music has a new collection of songs, Macaroni, available for sale now. Parents may already be familiar with Monkey Monkey Music and Meredith LeVande (the creator). Her songs and music videos have been featured on PBS Kids, Kids Thirteen, and over 100 public television stations across the US.

monkey music

Macaroni is the title track and like many of the other songs it touches on a hallmark of childhood and creativity, all of the uses we can find for macaroni! Whether we wear it, or use it to make music, Monkey Monkey Music points out how something as simple as pasta can be transformed by imagination and ingenuity.
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