Free Nativity Scene Exhibit (The Creche): I believe this is an annual event, but I was made aware of this free exhibit in Fountain Valley, CA. It’s free to enter and in the auditorium they have a 100 or so nativity scenes as expressed by different countries in the world (including a galaxy far far away). I really enjoyed seeing all the different materials used and the creativity at work. They also have local high schools and organizations perform as well. This year it was held during the first weekend of December. Check out their instagram page for more info.
Thai Food (Ruen Pair): Great inexpensive and authentic Thai food in the heart of Thai town (Los Angeles, CA) is a winner in my book. The portions are generous so come in a small group (four is ideal) so that you can try many different dishes. The papaya salad, Tom Yum soup, and pineapple fried rice are bomb and roughly $15 a plate. Pad See Ew is also a solid choice! Read more here!
Comic Convention (Los Angeles Comic Con): If you’re looking to experience a San Diego Comic Con kind of convention but haven’t successfully secured your tickets through their lottery system, Los Angeles Comic Con (in Los Angeles, CA) is a great alternative and you don’t have to fight over tickets. They always a great range of celebrity guests on year they got Amy Jo Johnson (Pink Ranger from MMPR), Simu Liu (Shang Chi), and many more. Additionally, they have a lot of cool panels, vendors, artists, and exhibitors. This convention had historically been in October, but it looks like moving forward it’ll be a December convention. Single day starts at $35 + fees for adults and $95 +fees for a three day.
Pop Person (Funko Hollywood): I’m lucky enough to get to attend premieres and sometimes get autographs from the celebrities in that feature. One of my favorite ways to commemorate the meeting is by purchasing a Funko Pop of that actor’s character and getting his/her signature. Well now we also can customize ourselves and get our very own Funko Pop with our own qualities. For roughly $25 I designed myself at the Funko Store in Hollywood, CA and thought it was so meta. Read about my entire experience here.
Boodle Fight (Lola’s by MFK): Curious about eating with your hands? In traditional Filipino culture a Kamayan feast (or a boodle fight) is where an assortment of food is spread across banana leaves. This communal gathering does not allow for utensils and Lola’s by MFK in Anaheim, CA has a lot of protein options. On my visit our party of 10 paid about $55 each (including tip), which does lean on the more expensive side, but it’s a fun experience to try at least once. Read more here.
Hotel Stay (Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel): I came here with my family for my mom’s birthday. At $500 a night this was definitely a splurge, but the shower and bath robes felt very luxurious. Read more here.
I do want to note that while I did/am traveling to Barcelona, Spain this month I will hold those favorites in January so that I can get a better grasp on which of those are indeed the best finds. Happy holidays!
Welp! It’s now the end of September and time for another round of my monthly favorites! Check them out below!
Almond Cookies (Phoenix Bakery): Situated in the heart of Chinatown LA, CA is Phoenix Bakery, which is home to their delicious Almond Cookies. I’ve purchased a double dozen box ($6.95) twice in the same month, which should be saying something! Read all about it here.
Museum (Chinese American Museum): This three story hub offers complimentary admission for all visitors. I thought it was a great exhibit to learn about the Chinese immigrants and their contributions to New Chinatown ironically located in Chinatown LA, CA. Read more here
Mini Taiyaki (Costco): I’m usually pretty good about my purchases from Costco in terms of moderation for a particular purchase – that was not the case with Suji’s Taiyaki. I bought four boxes in one week *gasp* But only because it’s not regularly stocked at my Costco (For some odd reason).This 30 count fish shaped dessert found in the freezer section has been in my regular snack rotation since I’ve started using an air fryer. For $10.54 a box I now can experience a taste of Japan in the comfort of my home. If you like crispy dough and cream custard you would love this!
Vegan Burger (Burgerlords): I’m open to trying new food and I really enjoyed my “cheeseburger” here. At $9 a pop, this fast food joint does a good job creating a meat-free option. Read about my experience here.
Oogie Boogie Bash (Disney’s California Adventure): Trick or Treating with villains and dressing up in costume to Disney? Yes please! While this event in Anaheim, California is sold out I enjoyed the character meet-n-greets and definitely stocked up on candy/health snacks from the Trick-or-Treat Trails. Also the lines for rides in DCA were very short! See more photos of the rare character encounters here here.
So Fall is just around the corner, which means lots of pumpkin flavors. Are you a fan or prefer other seasonal flavors?
Colorado Springs is a peaceful and serene place, and while I nearly died on the Manitou Incline (Post here), I was blown away by the beauty of the Garden of the Gods. This natural rock formation evokes a type of Jurassic World meets Cars Lands (from Disneyland); It’s really a sight to see and these photos don’t do the attraction justice. Visitors can choose to hike, drive, horseback ride, or bike around the mountain to admire the landscape. I came here twice during my Colorado trip and got to see it from various vantage points – up high and right at the base. Spanning a 1,367 acres the size alone would warrant a name worthy of the Gods – yet it was originally called the Red Rock Corral. The name was changed in 1859 from a group of surveyors who thought that was was a place fit for the Gods and since then the name stuck!
You honestly feel like you’re in another world, and even though I’m not really an outdoor girl, I can certainly appreciate the natural wonders!
How would you enjoy this park? Driving? Hiking? Horseback riding?
Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center 1805 N. 30th Street in Colorado Springs
If there’s two thing that my friends all know it’s 1) that I’m not a morning person and 2) I definitely do not like hiking; however, on a recent work trip in Colorado Springs, CO I did the unthinkable. I woke up at 4am (Colorado time, so it’s in essence 3am California time) to go (you guessed it) hiking *Gasp* But hear me out… It’s not everyday I get to visit a new state, so when some coworkers volunteered to lead a group up the Manitou Incline before our professional development training it seemed opportune to experience one of Colorado Springs most popular (and fatal) attractions.
At the beginning of the the hike I was very optimistic, but with each step I felt increasingly more light-headed and fatigued. If I’m being brutally honest, I felt like I was going to die. The top was 9000 feet above sea level and we were starting at 7000 feet and for someone who lives at sea level this drastic change in elevation was really hard on my body. It became increasingly more difficult to breath with each step and the stairs were extremely steep.
There were so many moments when I wanted to quit and go back down although it might have been more dangerous had I done that. I eventually made it to the halfway point where hikers can take a safer and much more even way down and while I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t make it to the top, I am proud that I at least did the halfway since I remember wanting to quit 1/4 of that!
Would you do this incline? I didn’t notice the sign until I looked more closely, but people have died from this hike!
As I was researching things to do (between Grand Rapids and Chicago) I was feeling discouraged that many of the attractions I found were closed on Sunday. However, my friend noted that we instead of driving along the coast of Lake Michigan we could head to South Bend, Indiana to see the University of Notre Dame before hitting Chicago. With this new revelation I did further research and found that any guests could attend Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which was right on campus. So we decided to wake up bright and early and attended the 10AM Mass. My friend and I got there around 9:15am to check out the area and wow the buildings were incredible – both outside and in. The paintings on the ceilings were so vivid and detailed. These pictures don’t even do the cathedral justice, but with the high ceilings and tall columns you just felt like you were a part of a very grand affair. Soon visitors filled the seats and while I have attended Mass previously, I’ve never been a part of one that was so structured. There was a pipe organ with a full choir performance at the beginning and many interactive sections of the service. We sang hymns, listened to the priests message, and there were a number of processions with various people dressed in white wardrobes parading down the aisle during different parts of the service. It was extremely formal. Once the service concluded many guests then felt comfortable to takes photos of the facility. While I do not practice Catholicism (I am a non-denominational Christian) I can appreciate the time that these individuals took to preserve this service, and openness and generosity to open this for all to attend. I had a wonderful and safe trip in the Midwest (up to that point) and was thankful to have an outlet to praise God
What are you thankful for?
Basilica of the Sacred Heart 101 Basilica Drive, Notre Dame, IN 46556 (574)-631-7800
I’m an avid movie goer and average about 5 movies a month; however when I was invited with my x-men cosplay family to attend the World Premiere of Dark Phoenix, I was beyond excited. I didn’t really know what to expect aside from potentially having the opportunity to see some of the cast and see a movie before anyone else. The day was beyond amazing and suffice to say I can now check mark off one of my bucket list items – attend a VIP Screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre!
I arrived there with some friends at around 3:30pm to get checked-in for the 6pm red carpet event. There were so many amazing cosplay and I was actually really surprised by how far these cosplayers traveled. One of the Jean Greys few from Ohio with her boyfriend and a genderbend Magneto’s flew all the way from Dublin, Ireland! I sometimes forget that I live in one of the coolest places in the world and only had to drive 2 hours (mostly because of the traffic) to get here. There were ample reporters and press covering the event and you might see me (the only Psylocke there) in a few local and international televised and/or print clips! Some of the media outlets included one from Australia, a Chinese channel, Marvel, Disney etc.
After the press interviewed a few of the cosplayers and snatched candid footage, the movie cast members arrived! and walked the red carpet. I had the opportunity snap a few selfies with some of the actors including James McAvoy (Professor Xavier), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), and Jessica Chastin (Vuk) *squeel* and take a group photo of the entire cast before we were moved to the theater to watch the movie!
I really enjoyed the movie and feel that it’s especially important to celebrate all our diverse backgrounds, gifts, and talents. It truly brought people from all corners of the earth and I will treasure this experience forever!
If you could choose your mutant power what would you pick? Obviously I pick psychic!
Are you a fan of Back to the Future? Well you’re in luck because Doc Martin’s House actually exists! Officially known as The Gamble House, (4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena, CA) this beautiful home was designed by architects Charles and Henry Green back in 1908 for David B. Gamble of the Procter & Gamble company. I had a chance to see it on my trip to Pasadena and it’s definitely very impressive.
You could take a one hour docent led tour for $15, but I opted to enjoy it from the exterior to admire the details. While many know it as Doc Martin’s house it’s registered as a National Historic Landmark, California Landmark, and museum.
Does anyone else geek out when they see places or things from movies in the flesh? Who’s house would you want to see IRL?
April is one of my favorite months because it’s my Birth month!! and to top it off many restaurants and businesses offer awesome freebies to celebrate. For two weeks and a half week I redeemed and compiled THE BEST freebies for you to enjoy! Listed in alphabetical order (with hyperlinks!) here are the best 35! Let’s get ready to rumble!!! 😀
AMC (Free Popcorn): AMC Stubs is free to join and you’ll get a free large popcorn. If you’re an AMC A-List or Premiere Member (both are subscription based) you’ll get both a large popcorn ($9.09) and a bonus large drink ($6.29)! Redeemable anytime during your birth month (est. value $15.38)
Arby’s (Free Sandwich with drink purchase): Join Arby’s Insider Program to get a free signature sandwich with a drink purchase. I choose the corned beef reuben ($4.99) and ordered a small fountain drink to qualify. For $2.25 the complete meal was a steal! Must be redeemed within the week of your birthday.
Burntzilla (Free Meal): On the Five Star App Burntzilla (in Irvine) gives patrons a free gold combo which includes a fountain drink, two sliders or mini hot dogs, and a choice of tater tots or french fries. This $10 value must be used a week before your birthday.
Churned Creamery (Ice Cream): Redeem 1 Free Scoop (through 5 stars) the week before your birthday. I think it expires on your birthday.
Creamistry (Ice Cream): I believe I signed up at their store for their loyalty program. You get a free Regular Size Ice Cream and it expires within the week of your birthday. (Est value $5.50)
Corner Bakery: (Free Baked Good): This staple never disappoints. Sign up for their eCafe list and the week of your bday you’ll get an email with a special code. I always chose their giant M&M cookie to take home. It expires a week after your birthday. (est. value $1.29?)
Daphnes($5 off one item): If you sign up for Pita Points loyalty you’ll get $5 to spend on your meal. I picked the Falafel appetizer and paid the difference ($1.07). Expires a month after your birthday
Del Taco (Free Milkshake): Join the Raving Fan Club and the day before you birthday and they’ll send you QR code to redeem a free shake! The coupon expires with 1.5 weeks of your bday. I usually get the strawberry milkshake. Yum! (est. value $3.29)
Denny’s (Free Breakfast Meal): Flash your drivers license the day of your bday to redeem a complimentary grand slam. For my breakfast I picked hash brown, sunny-side up eggs, sausage, and a biscuit. Just be sure to tip! (est. value $9.99)
El Pollo Loco (Free meal!): Join the E-Club and enjoy your choice of “Original Chicken Tostada” or “2 piece fire-grilled chicken meal.” They’ll send you the email on your birthday and ask you to show the code on the El Pollo Loco App.
Flame Broiler (Metro Point): Through the 5 star app, the Flame Broiler in Costa Mesa will give you a bowl of terriyaki beef, chicken or tofu for free. Must be redeemed within 7 days before your birthday, although they may not participate in the future.
Godiva ($10 off purchase): Complimentary $10 for chocolate though they did change their policy and you are no longer able to combine it with other promotions. You can buy three bars of chocolate and pay the difference to use the entire $10 credit.
Habit Grill (Free Burger): Join the CharClub and redeem a free cheeseburger! Expires 3.5 weeks after your birthday (value est. $4.29)
Hot Topic ($5 Birthday Credit): Sign up for Hot Topic’s “Guest List” and earn a $5 Birthday Credit to use within a month of your birthday. I signed up during my birth month I was also awarded a $5 anniversary credit. During my shopping spree I was able to combine both rewards towards a clearance sale and purchased two Riverdale sport bras for $4.31! Score!! Just be sure to ask the sales associate if there are restrictions during your birth month.
Jamba Juice (Small Smoothie): As a Jamba Insider you can redeem a small smoothie of your choosing. Expires 3.5 weeks from your birthday.
Juice It Up (BOGO Drink): In the Smooth EClub you can choose any drink for this great BOGO. I opted for the Bital Protein Blue Smoothie which tasted awesome and was so photogenic!
Kroft (BOGO Poutine or sandwich): On the 5 star app, you can share two very generously sized poutines. Cheese kurds and french fries? Yes please!
Luna Grill Free Dessert: Sign up for rewards and pick up a free dessert (no purchase necessary!). Expires 10 days after your birthday.
Meet Fresh (Free Mochi): Through the 5 star app you’ll be able to get a sweet treat with toothpicks to share. (est. value $5 )
Makeup Shack ($10 off any Makeup Shack Product): This is a new one that I discovered this year. I absolutely love their fake eyelashes and curated makeup selection. They carry many hard to find brands that I see at the tradeshows as well as their own products. I purchased a new contouring brush and paid the difference. I think about $1.50 or so, and it’s a great brush! You’ll sign up at the store with your phone number!
Magnolia Car Wash (Free Car Wash): Valid on your birthday (and I think the day before and after?) and must show id. Be sure to tip! (est value $16.99)
Mimi’s Cafe (Muffin Sundae): Grab a sweet treat at Mimi’s! Expires one week after your birthday and no purchase necessary, although this year I did have some problems with management accepting the email offer because there wasn’t a promo code associated with the email. Tread with caution!
Nothing Bundt Cake (Free Bundlet): Join the E-Club and get a free single serving bundt cake. There are many flavors to choose from and I decided to get the strawberries and cream – yum!
Paderia Bakery (Free Cookie): You may think that redeeming a cookie is no big deal; but this cookie is gigantic and reminds me of Levain Bakery in New York. So ooey and gooey
Pizza Rev (Free Pizza or salad) Sign up for Rev Rewards and you can choose any base including cauliflower (!!!) and add unlimited toppings. It expires a week after your birthday (est value $8.25).
Red Robin (Free Meal): I think this is the best deal of them all. A free gourmet beef or chicken burger plus unlimited fries free FREE! No string attached. Just show them your Red Robin’s Rewards Number (est. value $12.19).
Sephora (Makeup): Sign up to be a Beauty Insider and redeem a free beauty of skincare deluxe sample. For the month of April I picked up a jelly cleanser and cream from Drunk Elephant which will be perfect for my upcoming travels!
Souplantation (Free Meal): Join Club Veg and you will receive coupon for a free lunch with drink or a to-go combo #2 which includes a salad plate, two small soup containers, and a bakery bag (est. value $9.99).
Starbucks (Free Drink): On the app you will get a notification your birthday and a beverage must be redeemed on your birthday. You can get anything and any size. I picked a Venti Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk.
Stonefire Grill (Free Dessert): Sign up for the Loyalty Card in person (the website was weird). Provide the phone number you registered with and you get a free dessert with no purchase necessary. You can select from their heavenly cheesecake or incredible carrot cake. I picked the carrot cake which was moist and absolutely delicious! (est. value $3.69)
Togo (Free Sandwich): This a great lunch option that you can take “to-go” Sorry I had to lol. Expires 10 days after your birthday (est value $9.24).
Ulta (Makeup): Sign up for a free makeup sample during your birth month. For my birth month they were giving out Tarte Lip Stains.
Veggie Grill ($5 Credit): They changed it this year to $5 off an item. I bought _________
Victoria’s Secret (Free Panty w/ purchase): When you create an account they’ll send you a code for free panty with purchase. During my visit I was able to utilize their $10 sports bra deal and pick up a pair of panties.
Wienerschnitzel (Free chili dog): Score a wiener dog. Expires a week after your birthday (est value $1.99).
If your birthday coming up? Did I miss a birthday freebie? What’s the best freebie out there? Comment below!
Say my name so my powers may flow through you. The DC Universe,Wondercon, and AMC 30 in Orange, CA partnered together to host a special advanced screening of Shazam! for subscription holders and convention attendees – if you stopped by the DC booth. (Btw, it’s an awesome movie, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you definitely should! Perfect balance of action and humor and for context: I’m an AMC Stub Hubs member and watch a LOT of movies. I still give this one two thumbs up!)
During that special screening I was among 600 or guests eager to catch a glimpse of the all-star cast. My friends and I waited about an hour and a half before we were given a wristband, which entitled us to a large drink, popcorn, and candy! Sweet! Much of the theater had been occupied by the time we were let in, so my friends and I did have to find single seats. Thankfully our spots still had a good view to enjoy the movie.
Once my friends and I were settled with our snacks, Tiffany Smith from the DC Daily began the program and introduced Zachary Levi (Shazam), Mark Strong (Dr. Sivana), Asher Angel (Billy Batson) and Jacky Dylan Grazer (Freddy Freeman) along with the Director David Sandberg. It was so cool hear from the actors who played the characters and immediately watch them in action. And yes Zachary Levi is as charming in person as he is in the movie. *wink*
I’ll be honest I hate hiking with a passion. I had a really traumatic experience back when I lived in the East Coast and since then I forbade the “H” word into my vocabulary. Fast forward 8 years – a group of friends wanted to make a trek up to the Hollywood sign and because I was A) planning to be in the Hollywood area that day B) I needed to differentiate my exercise regime and C) seeing the Hollywood Sign up close and personal was a bucket-list item – it seemed that all the stars aligned for me go for it.
Bright and early in the morning the group of us tied our tennis shoes and wore layers of clothes before heading up. While most people hiked on foot, there were a handful who were on horseback which was pretty cool to see.
The 6.5 mile hike (round-trip) is a moderate hike for sedentary folks like myself, and while I probably won’t jump to do this hike again anytime soon I am glad that I did it and can share some cool photos! If you’re planning to hike to the sign – plug in this address (2927 Canyon Drive, Los Angeles, CA). There are two small parking lots, but they do get crowded so I did street parking before you enter the gate.