Disneyland Memories

25 03 2017

When I think about my early visits to Disneyland when I was a child, the Main Street Electrical Parade is one of the first things that comes to mind, after Mickey and Minnie. In fact, if I’m being honest, I never even realized it went away….there definitely was a time lapse between my childhood, to now being a parent where I hadn’t visited Disneyland in YEARS!

Last year when I took my boys to Anaheim and Disneyland for the first time, I didn’t realize the night parade was not the same one I was accustomed to seeing during my visits as a kid. And, while the parade(s) we saw were awesome in their own right, it was very exciting for me to hear that the Main Street Electrical Parade is lighting up Disneyland once again!!!

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There sure is something about it that’s very nostalgic to me, and being able to share that experience with the kids is very cool, not to mention maybe I won’t feel so “dated,” as the characters and visuals that amused me as a child will have the same effect on them today! All this being said, I got to do an interview about this excited (limited time) event at Disneyland. I spoke to Disneyland spokesman Eddy Collins and the man mouse himself, MICKEY MOUSE even dropped in on the interview I did for Bay Area LIFE. Check it out here…

If you want to see it and “relive” that childhood experience or maybe see it for the very first time, be sure to visit Disneyland Resort by June 18!!

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Repost from 53 Weeks



Beer and Wine in Paradise

15 03 2016

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If you’re a beer and wine fan AND headed to Maui anytime in the future…here are a couple MUST SEE spots for your visit! On my recent (work) trip to Maui we were able to visit and tour the island’s hottest spots for beer and wine…Maui Brewing Company and MauiWine. It was actually my second visit to MauiWine, I had went there previously with my sister and dad…but this time I got more of a “behind the scenes” look! And — I got to spin the footage for each place into feature segments for ABC7 Bay Area LIFE and you can watch them below!



Get Outta Town MAUI

19 01 2016

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At the start of 2015, going to Maui wasn’t a prospect..in terms of work or pleasure, but as last year developed, many changes occurred in my life (and location), and I ended up living back on the West Coast working as a freelance TV Host. Fast forward, one of my freelance opportunities with ABC7 in San Francisco afforded me an assignment to the island of Maui in early December 2015! Who would’ve thought!?!?

So, now in 2016…last Sunday, the 30-minute “Get Outta Town MAUI” special aired with me as its host. I’m really proud of the work I did in helping put the show together from a writing and editing standpoint, so I want to share it with everyone. It was one of the best work trips and assignments I have ever had and it’s even better that through the magic of “TV,” I can share some of the highlights of the trip in this show.

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Hawaii is really a magical place and Maui has many gems that we barely scratched the surface in this half hour show. We did get to showcase the island’s farm to table movement, as well as how Hawaiian culture is weaved into every aspect of life there. WARNING, if you’re going to watch it, be prepared to crave the island life and put Maui on your travel to do list!

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To watch, just press play.

Special thanks to all our wonderful hosts while me and the crew were in the islands, from Virgina America to Grand Wailea Resort, Kumu Farms, Maui Tropical Planation, Hoaloha Farm, Hoaloha Group, Mama’s Fish House, Haleakala Ranch, Maui Gold Pineapple Company, Trilogy Excursions, Maui Fresh Streatery, Maui Brewing Co., MauiWine, Maui Ocean Center and all the awesome people we met on the trip…MAHALO!!!

And — here are a few behind the scenes photos from the trip.

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Frontier Flying

10 10 2015

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I flew Frontier for the first time last week on a trip with my family from San Francisco to Chicago and since it is one of those “discount” airlines that can sometimes be the “unknown,” I figured I’d share some of my takeaways from the round trip experience.

The two biggest factors that influenced why we chose to fly Frontier even though I am a proud miles collecting member on a handful of other airlines.

Pricing – The cost for my family of four to make the round trip cost us less than $1,000

Flight schedule – Even though we live much closer to Oakland, the times available for the nonstop flights worked well for us to leave out of San Francisco and land at O’Hare – even though we’d prefer Midway, and made the most sense.

Okay, so I booked our fares online and elected to forego selecting seats or paying for baggage when I initially booked the trip. Yes, this is an airline which only allows a “personal item” with you in the cabin of the plane and any carry-on bags that you’d put int he overhead bin will incur an additional cost. And, as I also alluded to in my previous statement, I didn’t pick (i.e. pay) to choose our seats. I felt a slight risk here of being separated from my family, but wasn’t too concerned…and it did work out in the end.

A couple nights before out departure date I decided to call in and ask about the random seating, since I didn’t pay “extra” to pick seats, yet with 2 and 3 year old tots in tow, it was pretty critical that a parent was seated next to each one. The four of us didn’t need to be all together, but 2 and 2 would be ideal. I mean can you image a toddler being forced to sit unattended!?!? At any rate, I was advised that since we were traveling with young children, it would be taken into consideration and I should inquire at the airport if the random seating didn’t already put us in an agreeable seating arrangement, and she noted my reservation. The other helpful tid bit she informed me of was that I would save money by selecting and paying for my baggage options online.

 

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So anyway, when I checked in..all was GOOD! We are all put in the same row 2 and 2 with the aisle between us and I paid for our 2 check-in bags online, saving $10, since it would have been $10 more if I waited to do that at the airport. I didn’t pay for any carry on bags, we each had a personal item…and the rule of thumb for your personal item is can it fit under the seat in front of you!?!?

Dropping off our bags at the airport was fine and their customer service was nice and friendly. I liked that they allowed us to pre-board since we have small kids. Every airline is different these days and many do not include people with small children in the “pre-board” category. The plane was clean and leg room was pretty good. The seats are comfy enough, but unless I just couldn’t find the button, they didn’t recline. They are also very slim seats, compared to the width of seats I’ve sat in on other planes, but it didn’t make a major difference. The tray table was also much smaller, a little silver tray that dropped down. I think water was complimentary, but anything else had a fee. By the way, I think if you are seated in the first few rows you are some kind of “VIP, special” …but I didn’t do all that! 😉

In hindsight, it was a very good experience. We had a non stop flight that was on time or early each way, we had great seat assignments (that we didn’t pay extra for), our bags made it to our destinations and it was minimal charges for our checked baggage…and let’s be honest, everyone charges for bags these days except Southwest. I can’t say I will always be flying Frontier, but if it makes sense for my future travel plans, I certainly won’t hesitate!

Photos courtesy: Frontier Airlines



Wedding Bells in Sin City

12 05 2015

I just spent an extended weekend in Las Vegas for my younger sister Adrienne’s neon-themed wedding – she the older of my 2 younger sisters! We weren’t on the strip, but in DTLV (downtown Las Vegas) and it was filled with fun festivities, true to the style of the couple we were there to celebrate. We stayed at the Downtown Grand Hotel which is a block off from Fremont Street, recently remodeled and very comfortable (and reasonably priced). We did head over to “the strip” for one night of table and bottle service partying, but everything else was within walking distance to the hotel, which was really nice. From the Container Park to Gold Spike, The Neon Museum and her post-ceremony venues of Le Thai and Commonwealth, it was the perfect wedding weekend. Many congratulations to my sister and new brother in law, may their marriage be blessed and filled with endless love.

Check out some of my favorite photos from our Sin City festivities…

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My VIP Tour of Raymond Vineyards

27 03 2015

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I recently embarked on my first ever wine-tasting outing in Northern California’s “Wine Country,” and it was so much more than I could’ve ever imagined. I went with a group of ladies, as we were all celebrating my sister Adrienne’s upcoming wedding, so it was a girls getaway bachelorette weekend of sorts. Like I said, I had never been wine tasting, so I asked around for recommendations before finally settling on a VIP Tour Raymond Vineyards in St. Helena. The contact who booked gave me a heads’s up that it was a  non-conservative and atypical of a traditional winery..whatever that is. Honestly I was just expecting a plain room in the middle of a huge field of grapes on a vine and wine barrels. I couldn’t have been more wrong in “stereotyping” a vineyard/winery. This was anything but boring, typical AND oh so perfect for our occasion!

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I instantly fell in love with our VIP host Gina, she was a complete doll! As soon as she saw our group, we got our glasses and popped the bubbly. Then she proceeded to take us for a short tour of their grounds, with beautiful gardens, farm animals and even a “Doggie Winery” if you will. She explained to us that they create their own energy and do their best to be “green.”

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From there, the party started! We went into an indoor facility where they make the wine and this place is almost indescribable, you kind of have to experience it for yourself. It has sexy mood lighting with several Vegas showgirl-like outfitted mannequins…it had a Moulin Rouge feel…lots of “French” influence! There were elaborate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and lounge music pumping through the room..and of course we were surrounded by wine!

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From there we went to another outdoor area where we had an impromptu photo shoot on picturesque white lounge furniture before being ushered in to the “JCB Lounge.” JCB standing from wine maker and owner Jean Charles Boissant. The JCB Lounge is all-gold EVERYTHING! There’s also a huge projection screen and just a very rich, very high end vibe. My first thought was this is the perfect backdrop for a hip hop video! LOL!

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Our last stop on the VIP tour was the private Red Room. Think velvet and leopard fabrics…it was out of this world, the room just sucked you in and invited you to relax. Gina was even kind enough to let my sister pic the Beyonce Pandora station to provvde our soundtrack for the room. All in all, I was blown away by this place..and I’m sure when I return there’ll be so much more to take in that I missed this time around. We may not have went to Vegas for this bachelorette, but Raymond Vineyards made us feel like that’s where we were..and the wines were amazing too! It couldn’t have been a more perfect VIP Tour of the Winery or for my sister’s special outing. We are so thankful we had the opportunity to visit it.

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I would highly recommend this as a stop for anyone’s next jaunt into wine country. It’s nothing short of amazing and didn’t disappoint..both of which I never expected to be saying about a winery.



Troy Simmons at Context Art Fair

23 11 2014

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I couldn’t be more excited for Troy Simmons and his solo show at the Context Art Fair. I met Troy some years back through his wife who is also in the TV biz and since then I’ve become more familiar with his art, and it’s just so impressive how far he has been able to take his craft through his hard work and dedication. And – early December in Miami is kind of a big deal in the art world when Art Basel sets up shop and the world’s focus on art shift to the spotlight on South Florida. Congratulations to Troy and I wish him continued success!!

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See the official press release below.

Local artist Troy Simmons has immersed himself in his latest artwork, exploring the evolution of urbanism and nature’s persistence to coexist. A consistent theme, which echoes true to his intense fascination with nature and modern Brutalist Architecture.

Under the direction of JanKossen Contemporary Art Gallery in Basel, Switzerland, Simmons will showcase his new concrete work during a solo show at CONTEXT Miami Art Fair December 2nd-7th at booth #E75. He will also have several pieces on display at SCOPE Art Show Miami Beach.

His massive, large-scale concrete canvases are a mix of acrylic paints and raw materials. At first glance, the magnitude of his work is clearly realized. Most of his pieces weigh more than 100 pounds. A rough and raw relationship often described as a cataclysmic illustration of urbanism.

Simmons calls his work a “re-incarnation of the Arte Povera genre” where the inclusion of simple natural elements, such as wood and soil takes an integral part in the creation of the art. His intended goal is to create a playful mix of the hard and soft, expressing the ideological perceptions of binary relationships.

Rochi Llaneza, Former Executive Director of Hardcore Contemporary Art, curated his first show in Miami in 2009. She says, “Creating an algorithm of inspired imagery, Simmons’ connection to his ecological charged pieces is clearly reflected in his use of re-purposed materials.”

The inspiration behind his latest collection evolved after a recent trip to Germany. He spent time with his wife’s family exploring Baden-Wurttemberg in the southern part of the country. The postwar architecture is a fragmentation of Germany’s traditional heritage mixed with simple modern construction.

Simmons currently works as a full-time artist, but his educational background is in Architecture and Environmental Science. He studied at Sam Houston State University and worked as an Environmental Lab Technician in Houston, Texas. He later went on to Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in Architectural Design.

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Simmons is a Resident Artist at the Bakehouse Artist Complex in Miami’s Wynwood Art District. Sample of his current work at www.TroySimmonsStudio.com.



Birthday in the Nation’s Capitol

30 09 2014

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I spent my (pre) birthday weekend in the U.S. Capitol with some of my best girlfriend’s. I’m not really big on making a BIG deal out of my birthday as I get up there in age…LOL, but since a few of my girls have relocated to the area and a few others willing to travel to hang out for a girl’s weekend…why not?

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My first night in town we had dinner at The Hamilton, which is not only a very tasty DC spot, but they have a great ambiance and a performance venue there as well. A couple of my fellow NFL Pro Cheer Alumni gals (Joi and Mari) came out to break bread with me, and we shared so many laughs…weekend got off to a great start.

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The next day we did some sightseeing…whenever you are in DC, a stop at 1600 Penn is a must! It was a beautiful weather over the weekend for walking around and taking in the DC sights…we squeezed in a little shopping too! 😉

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That night we enjoyed a yummy dinner at STK in Dupont Circle. Pictured above (l-r) Cat, Dara, Cherisse, Norma, me, Rene and Rohelia. I am so flattered that all these girls made time to hang out…we all get so busy in our lives that sometimes it is tough to find time, and especially as a Mom now, my social calendar revolves around their activities…it was kind of different to be around so many “grown ups!” haha

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One of the other big motivators to get to DC that weekend was to see my girl Anjelah Johnson’s show at Warner Theatre! She provided lots of laughs and I even got some one on one time with her at brucnh before we all headed home the next day.

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Fun times for sure…it was “Miami” reunited in DC!! 🙂 Love my girls!!!