Hogwarts Holiday Weekend

Well hello, friends!

Is anyone still out there in blog land? Lately I’ve been checking in on a few blogs that I used to faithfully read and it has ignited a fire in me to sit down, check-in and write a little post here and there since I haven’t done one since mid-December 2015!

I wanted to share our adventure yesterday to Universal Studios and our maiden voyage to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Now, Universal Studios is NOT my favorite place. I do not care for the virtual reality, nausea inducing rides. In all honesty, I’d much rather suit up in a bathing suit and go 10 minutes away to Hurricane Harbor. BUT, the other 75% of my family LOVE Universal, so I swallow my pride, go with them and usually hold the camera bag and sweatshirts while they ride.

However, yesterday was different.

Elliott has started reading the Harry Potter series and is OBSESSED. She has been asking to take her little friend, Emma, for the past couple weeks as the two are certain they are part of Gryffindor House.


For just $10 more than a day’s visit, we bought passes that are good through February ’17 and I’m so glad we did. I went into yesterday’s trip 110% clueless on all things HP. I have no desire to read the books and wizardry isn’t something that has ever interested me {Sorry J.K. Rowling}. But the minute I walked into Harry’s World, I was under the spell. It was all kinds of awesome. Seeing the joy and wonder on their faces was priceless. We let them lead the way {our friend Emma had already been} and our first stop was a short rollercoaster, Flight of the Hippogriff.

We then waited in line to enter Ollivanders to learn all about wands.


Once inside, Elliott was chosen to test out several wands and be fitted for one perfect for her. For me, this was the most magical part of the day.


After that, we strolled into Honeydukes and picked up something for our sweet tooth. The kids chose some candy from the bulk bins to snack on during then day. They also had Peppermint Frogs and lots of other sweet treats that I would love to sample on our next visits!

We hit a couple other attractions {The Mummy, a foiled attempt at The Walking Dead Attraction and the ever popular Studio Tour} before and after lunch at City Walk, but the kids were chomping at the bit to go back to Harry Potter World and go on the Forbidden Journey ride {wait time was about an hour}. I opted out of this one and again, held all the belongings and met everyone at the exit.

We also enjoyed watching the Frog Choir, sipping on a frozen Butterbeer and using Elliott’s new “Willow” wand to cast spells in the windows throughout Hogsmeade.



It was just a great day and I seriously can’t wait to go back!


There is talk about being Hermione for Halloween and the kids are watching the first movie as I type this.



With Labor Day supposedly signaling the end of summer, I am happy to say that my favorite season is upon us. I have been burning my Coconut Pumpkin candle, researching & making comfort food and stalking Trader Joe’s for their seasonal autumnal goodness. I am ready to dig my Uggs out from the bottom of the coat closet, trade my tanks for chunky sweaters and have football on during the weekends!

Bring it.

Holiday Fever

Hello friends!

Just popping in to follow up on this year’s big holiday party that I shared on my last post. We almost didn’t make it as Jay was under the weather with a fever for a few days leading up to the big night. I was bummed but at peace with the fact that we probably weren’t going to be able to go. BUT, he rallied and we went for a little bit, had dinner and visited with friends.

I ended up wearing the reddish-orange jumpsuit and loved it.


I had plans to get my hair colored and blown out for the party, but since I didn’t think we’d make it, I cancelled. Therefore, the hat! 😉

I also had my friend lined up to do my make-up, but ended up cancelling that as well and just doing my own. I visited with the beauty concierge at Target and she helped me find the perfect lip color. Actually, as we were looking for colors, my 10-year old daughter Elliott found this Maybelline shade ~ Vibrant Mandarin and it was PERFECT!



I really wanted a lipliner and the friendly consultant recommended this e.l.f. Lip Stain in “Hot Tamale” which worked perfectly with the lip color…




I chose Essie’s “Leggy Legend” for my pedi color….


It’s always fun to get dressed up for the holidays and go to these corporate parties. This year’s was held at Hummingbird Nest Ranch and was an Indiana Jones Adventure theme.


Here I am fighting off the bad guys with my cheetah clutch!


I tried to get a full length view of my outfit at one of the photo stations, but the guy said my feet would always get cut off unless he just kept the green screen, so for the sole purpose of sharing my cute shoes, here you go….


{shoes are Mad Love cheetah wedges from Target}



It really was so fun even though we didn’t stay too long or hit the dance floor. I got to have some of my favorite bacon wrapped stuffed date appetizers, too, so it was a great night! So grateful we were able to at least show up. It simply wouldn’t be the holidays without a night out at these elaborate corporate parties.

Now onto enjoying the rest of the season. Hopefully the holiday fever continues, just NOT in the form of the flu!!

Holiday Celebration ~ Indiana Jones Style

Jay’s company holiday party is only about 2 weeks away and I am trying to tie up some loose ends with our outfits.

This year is an “Adventure. Action. Thrills.” theme with nod to Indiana Jones so I immediately thought I would wear a khaki safari inspired dress I’ve had sitting in my closet waiting for the perfect occasion. It looks similar to this one…



However, last week I found this Jennifer Lopez jumpsuit at Kohl’s for about $15…


I LOVE jumpsuits. I always like to be comfortable at these big corporate parties. For the most part they are business casual so I could totally get away with the simple khaki shirt dress, but because I love to get out there and dance with the other wives, I like to be extra comfy. This jumpsuit fit like a dream and I loved the reddish orange color thinking that it would be a little more festive.

I plan on wearing these wedges I found at Target over the summer with either of the pieces…


I also have some chunky wooden bangles and a leopard print clutch that I will accessorize with.

I ran the idea by Jay of wearing a cheetah print bow tie. 😉 He immediately showed his disapproval, but I was on a mission to at least find him a tie that coordinated with my outfit. Behold….I stumbled across this gem at Kohl’s the other day and had my trusty 30% off coupon which brought the final price to right around $15.


He approved since the print is more subdued and doesn’t obnoxiously scream, “CHEETAH!!”.

I really want to wear the dress, but am afraid I won’t be as comfortable as if I were to wear the jumper. I’m glad that I have options, though, and BOTH pieces together were less than $25 so I can’t go wrong.

CanNOT believe that it’s holiday party time once again. This is the ONE night that we both really look forward to every holiday season. His company always does such a beautiful job choosing the venue and carrying out the theme.

I’ll report back with pictures from he evening and the outfit that I end up wearing on our adventure to The Temple of Doom!

Naked Tree

Lately on Facebook I have seen lots of friends posting pictures of canvases they have created at these wine and painting places where you sip and follow along step by step with an actual artist as they walk you through your way to a beautiful, colorful masterpiece made by YOU!

We have one here in town, Pinot’s Palette, and I have wanted to go for awhile now. I searched their calendar and found a “simple” Fall inspired scene, called Harvest Moon, and rounded up some friends to join in the fun.

You start with a big blank canvas and all your colors are measured out for you on a paper plate…


The artist instructs how to do each step, which paints to mix, what brush to use, etc. and before you know it, you see your picture start to come together…


I was very conservative with my sips at first, but then picked up the pace a bit as I became a little more confident with the brush. Ha! This is about halfway through when we took a 10 minute break.

What I really liked about it was that you were totally able to bring food in…just no beverages. They have beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase. There were 7 of us so we ended up getting a couple of bottles as that worked out cheaper.

We had tons of goodies, too: deviled eggs, crudite platter, salami, cheese & cracker platter, brie, 7-layer dip and tortilla chips and Oreo truffle balls and caramel apple cheesecake bars for a sweet treat. I think all the other painters not in our group were secretly jealous. 😉

There were little tags that you could mark your food with which was very thoughtful. They supply little plates, napkins and plastic ware, too!


At one point the artist used a seemingly benign description for painting our tree and it didn’t take long for the sexual innuendos to start up. C’mon…you have a bunch of over 21 ladies who got out of the house on a Tuesday night and gave them some wine…..there was ONE poor guy on staff and he loved every minute of it, I think. At one point, I felt like we had hit the jackpot with wine, painting AND comedy. And when I sit with this girl to my right, Devyn, and Karen to my left  {pictured next in pink} things are bound to get out of hand!!


The 2 hours FLEW by. I didn’t want to finish my painting because I didn’t want to go home.


Such a fun group of sweet friends {and neighbors}.

Here is my final masterpiece. I think as the night went on I lost concentration and my tree ended up a little sparse ~ we nicknamed mine “Naked Tree”…



I love seeing how they all differed. It was really so, so fun. We all want to go back!

Thank you, ladies, for coming out and gettin’ crazy with me on a random Tuesday night. I loved every minute of it and I love you all!!

Since it MAY have been my birthday, they brought out several canvases for me to choose from to take home. I chose one that they did as a St. Jude fundraiser last week. I love it…



I totally recommend getting some gals together and going. It exceeded my expectations which is always good in my book because I tend to always keep them high! 😉

Mickey Mouse’s House ~ Fall ’15

Well, HELLO!

I’ve been a terrible, terrible blogger. The summer came and went and we are now knee deep in my favorite season….FALL! I have grabbed all things pumpkin and pumpkin spice at Trader Joe’s, lit my Pumpkin Donut candle every evening and am so close to getting my Uggs out of hiding as the weather seems to be cooling down…knocking on wood. One day it’s rainy here and the next it’s in the 100s. So weird.

In June Elliott got a 3-day park hopper ticket and only used 2 days so we had her Minnie Mouse Disneyland ticket staring us in the face and decided to go as a family before it expired. The kids had last Wednesday off due to parent/teacher conferences so Jay took the day off and we headed down I-5 to Mickey Mouse’s House. We hadn’t been sine 2012! Again, where does the time go?


I had resigned to the fact that there are no more “uncrowded” Disney days and was prepared to wait in 1+ hour lines for the main attractions. Well, boy was I wrong. We were able to hit 7 big rides before lunch ~ all with wait times under 20 minutes. I was blown away.


The longest we waited was for Splash Mountain which is one of my faves. It was a rather warm day so we dried off in no time.


After lunch I demanded that we only do low key rides since my roller coaster threshold is a lot lower these days. We hit up Autopia, Small World, the carousel and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride before enjoying our first Dole Whip! I can’t believe I have never gotten one of these before. I think we waited in line about 10 minutes, but it was well worth it.


The park closed to the general public at 6:00pm which was perfect as the kiddos had school the next day.


Next year we’ll definitely try to get tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party. How fun would it be to dress up and trick or treat your way down Main Street and through the rest of the “Lands”?

I must say, it was the most perfect day. The 2 hour ride there and back could have been a little shorter, but……hello….L.A.!!!!




We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney

Summer So Far…


We’re in our second week of summer her at FFF…we’ve been on the go since school got out on the 12th! Forcing  myself to have a day at home today to get caught up on household chores and get a break from the sun & heat!

Last week we hit Hurricane Harbor twice and the pool once. Needless to say we will be going through lots of sunscreen in the next 7 weeks. I also picked up a couple more SPF rash guards for the kids, too.



I drew up out Summer Bucket List and we’ve already checked a few things off…


Unfortunately cherry picking is no longer an option as the season was shortened this year.

On June 13th we participated in The Color Run at Dodger Stadium and again, had a great time!


We had a coupon for Rita’s and used it for an after dinner treat last week…


{Island Fusion Gelati with vanilla custard}

Holden has started summer basketball and is loving it. I signed him up last summer, but was too late and never got called off the wait list. He is on The Scorpions and has a wonderful coach and a nice group of boys as teammates. They played their first game last weekend and came away with a W {10-4}…..looking forward to this new sport in the Aspiras household! I kind of felt like a fish out of water since basketball is new to us. I have a few things to learn about the rules as I was totally clueless! LOL Double dribble what?!? 😉


So blessed to live in a city with an awesome youth sports mentality. We’ll find this little guys passion eventually….this is his third sport since January!! He loved flag football in Winter, had a great baseball season this Spring and is now looking confident out on the court. Oh, and he’s all signed up for soccer in the Fall!

Last, but certainly not least, I have found a new summer coffee beverage…


{iced coffee with 2 pumps sugar free syrup of choice and a splash of half & half or “breve” if you’re feeling fancy}


I hope your summer is off to an amazing start.

Here’s to popsicle drips, flip flop tan lines, bronzed shoulders and laundering lots and lots of towels!


Lemon-Garlic Shrimp With Israeli Couscous & Broccoli

Last night I decided to make a recipe from my Weight Watcher Weekly handout and it was nothing short of delicious. It’ll definitely be added to the rotation for future meals! Therefore, I wanted to share it with you. I am always looking for more ways to get fish and shrimp onto our meal plans. We eat chicken A LOT! 😉


Lemon-Garlic Shrimp with Couscous and Broccoli

{Weight Watchers Weekly ~ May 10-16, 2015}

4 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided

1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous {got it at Trader Joe’s}

4 cups broccoli florets {got it pre cut in a bag}

2 tsp EVOO, divided

1 pound large shrimp, peeled & deveined

1 large shallot, minced

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/4 cup dry white wine {I used Chardonnay}

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon zest

3 tbsp minced fresh basil {I used thyme}


In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups broth to a boil over high heat. Add couscous and broccoli to pan; cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until broccoli is tender and couscous is cooked, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick sauce pan, heat 1 tsp oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook, flipping once, until lightly seared and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side; remove to a plate.

Add remaining teaspoon oil , shallot, garlic, and hot pepper fakes to pan; cook, stirring a few times, 1 minute. Add wine; stir and scrape up browned bits from the bottom and sides of pan. Add remaining 2 cups broth and increase heat to high; cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick sauce, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add shrimp to pan; stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and basil.

To serve, spoon shrimp over couscous-broccoli mixture. Yields about 3 1/2 oz shrimp and 1 cup couscous-broccoli mixture per serving. {4 servings, 9 pointsplus/serving}


I hope you enjoy.

Happy Monday!

Rolling Into Double Digits ~ A Skating Party

Let me start off by saying, “Second post in as many days.”  It’s a miracle! We have a rainy afternoon and the kids got out early….that translates to perfect blogging conditions.

Last weekend we celebrated Elliott’s 10th birthday. I wanted to combine it with Mother’s Day weekend since my mom would already be in town {her actual birthday is May 29th}. We talked about what kind of party she’d like and since this was a milestone birthday we decided to go big! I suggested going to the roller rink since that’s what I did as a preteen/teen back in the 80s. At first she turned her nose up at the idea, but then seemed to warm up to it. I promised her that it would be FUN! Mind you, she had never roller skated before. She has ice skated several times and was pretty good at that, so I figured she’d catch on to roller skating quickly. I had intended to take her skating before the party, but that never happened. Oops!

I ordered her invites through Merriment Press on Etsy to make things simple…


These were formatted as 5X7s so they cost a little more to print {I did Target Photo, but had them sent to my home which was a lot less expensive than printing them to the store. If time permits, I suggest doing this!} and the envelopes were harder so source. I went the most economical route by grabbing some small manila envelopes at Dollar Tree and trying to pretty them up….


She wanted to do a little photo booth so I found these Kate Spade photo props at Home Goods…


The party was held at Northridge Skateland. We ended up doing a shared party which means that the rink was closed to the public, but there would be 2 other parties going on at the same time as ours. Turns out there was just one other party so that was great and made it less crowded.



We were allowed 50 skaters for our party and were given wristbands to hand out. Once the guests had their wristband, they were free to get their skate rentals and hit the floor {literally AND figuratively!!}




The party was from 5-7pm so I wanted to serve “dinner”. I was pleased to find out that you were able to bring in your own food. The only outside food not allowed was pizza. I went ahead and made things simple and ordered pizzas there and brought some snacks and drinks on my own. Elliott wanted to have her favorite, Chex Mix, and I made a couple trays of 7-layer dip for the adults to enjoy. I brought water bottles and 2-liter bottles of soda. They supplied ice which was great.




The birthday girl requested a Red Velvet Nothing Bundt cake…


She was afraid that everyone wouldn’t like red velvet so she asked for some mini 2-bite cupcakes, as well…




After we sang, she went into the birthday blaster and was able to grab little papers with numbers on them to trade for tickets and redeem for prizes.


Party favors were funky knee high socks that I found at Dollar Tree and 99¢ Only. My mom also made some cute patchwork boxes and I filled them with candy and a little note of thanks…



{I finished them off with pink and white baker’s twine.  😉 }


{selfie with the birthday girl}


I was extremely impressed with how the party flowed. I wish we could have had an extra 30 minutes because the crowd was just becoming more graceful on their skates and then all of a sudden it was time to go. LOL But everyone seemed to have a great time and couldn’t wait to go back. Our personal hostess, Christine, was awesome too. She helped set everything up, served the pizza, refilled the tortilla chips, cut the cake, bagged up the gifts and loaded the car with us.

Holden has asked to have HIS 10th birthday party there.


Many thanks to my friend Courtney and staff for an amazing evening celebrating our sweet Elliott!!


Anchored In Christ ~ A First Communion Celebration

Two weekends ago Holden made his first holy communion. Two years of CCD brought him to this point and he was looking forward to this sacrament….tired of “just” getting a blessing at communion and ready to receive the body & blood of Christ.

We worked on his banner together over Spring Break…he did the layout and I did the hot gluing.


I spent months looking for the right dress pants, shoes and tie. One day while killing time I popped into Janie & Jack and found some brown trousers on the clearance rack for under $20. And while we were enjoying a holiday stroll through The Grove back in December, again, I ran into J & J and found some darling brown wing tip boots for half price. Once we settled on the anchor icon, I knew I needed to locate a tie with said symbol and found one in navy blue from Hobo Ties on Etsy.


No photos were allowed during the ceremony, but here he is with Father Albert after mass…



{Jay just happened to already have a dress shirt with anchors on it! I found Elliott’s sailor inspired dress at nautica.com for under $20. My skirt is Lauren Conrad from Kohl’s, top from Old Navy, pearl & gold statement necklace is from Target and fedora from Kmart!}

Holden had team pictures and a baseball game later that afternoon so we had a quick lunch at In N Out and shifted gears. For his special dinner, later that evening, he chose Lucille’s for ribs.


We hosted a brunch the following morning to celebrate our sweet communicant.

I found some simple little anchor notecards at Target for the invitations and that quickly became the theme of his celebration brunch ~ a nautical nod to this very big faith milestone.


I had a couple pieces of wood laying around in the garage and decided to make a sign with the Hebrews verse that prompted me to go with the anchor icon for this special occasion…


I put a light coat of white on it to give it a beachy, white-washed look, hand wrote the design in pencil and then pained over it with metallic gold and navy blue paints.


I don’t have a good picture of them, but the party favors were a faux succulent pictured on the mantel to the right of the sign and a little bag of peppermint Lifesavers. The succulents were a huge hit. Everyone couldn’t believe they were artificial and was glad they required absolutely NO water!


I saw the Lifesaver idea on Pinterest for a nautical baby shower and had the little paper treat bags, but wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. The mints were perfect and I added a little label with the verse Jeremiah 31:24 ~ “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”.

We have a huge vintage Cinzano poster in our dining area that I covered with wrapping paper to give this space a more cohesive and festive look…


I also hung 2 of these navy paper lanterns over our huge dining table.

The paper plates, napkins, straws & cups are all from either Target or Home Goods. I picked these up months ago knowing I’d most likely go with navy blue & some shade of green.


Fortunately being close to summer, it was easy to find anchor goodies!


{large anchor from Marshalls and “Let’s Set Sail” sign from Home Goods}


For the brunch, I tried to keep things simple. We had a couple baked egg casseroles {one with sausage, cheese & sourdough bread and one with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and hash browns as the base} They were both a hit, however, I think most of the guests enjoyed the Mediterranean one a little more.


I also made Monkey Bread and should have made two as this stuff is ALWAYS popular and the first to go…


Fruit salad and mimosas are always a must for brunch…


Lolo & Lola ordered a 10″ marble Nothing Bundt Cake and there wasn’t a crumb left!


Holden was blessed with so many wonderful keepsake gifts of his faith, gift cards and a telescope from Gramma Kathy to look into the heavens!

It was another wonderful milestone on his faith journey and I am sad that it’s over. The next big one is confirmation in high school!

In the meantime, we’ll continue religious education and faith formation.

Glory to God in the highest.

Thumbs Up

A month or so ago this article was bouncing around Facebook and I clicked on and read through it ~ Six Reasons Parents Should Not Watch Practice .

Was I doing it all wrong? Was I supposed to just drop her off like some of the other parents? Was I not supposed to lug my chair, my blanket and my complaining son from the parking lot across the BIG field and sit for an hour and a half and watch her practice?

Was I “watching” practice or was I there to be social with the other moms? Was I staying because I felt more it was more safe being there?

Truth be told…I enjoy sitting at practices and visiting with other mamas while Holden plays with other soccer siblings. I don’t watch per se and take copious notes or correct her or make sure she’s listening to her coach. I’m just there for my daughter while she practices because it’s less stressful than running a few errands and rushing to get back by practice’s end. Generally her practices are over by 6:30 and we’re home by 7:00 for a rushed dinner, shower and bedtime on those nights. But now she’s started practicing from 6:30-8:00 and it makes for a late night.

Jay and I have been sharing the latched on parent roll {LOL} and tag teaming her practices. I’ll take her and stay ’til he gets there around 6:45 and then I’ll go home and get dinner going, get Holden fed and in the shower, etc.

Recently Jay said, “Just drop her off. Hardly any of the parents stay.” As lovely as that sounded, I had to ask myself, “Is she old enough to just be “dropped off”?” “Should I just stay until he gets there?”


Truth is….YES, she’s old enough to be left with someone that I trust for 45 minutes before Jay gets there. YES, it’s OK if I can’t {or don’t want to} stay and “watch”her practice or be there to “protect her”.

She’s almost ten. It’s time to let the leash out a little longer, so to speak. Remind her about strangers. Let her get out of the car while I pull to the side of the parking lot, grab her water jug and her bag and walk across the field to meet her coach and teammates. By herself. I don’t need to park and walk her over there.

It’s hard. I worry. I promise her that I will NOT drive off until she waves at me when she sees that her coach is there.

Tonight I sat, jack parked, and watched her walk across the big field. She stopped and looked back to see if I was still there. I was. I hadn’t yet got “the wave”. She walked a little further, then turned back and looked at me again. She started walking back towards the parking lot. I stuck my head out the window in case she needed to yell something to me. She gave me a thumbs up and smiled. I did the same. She turned and headed back across the field. And I watched her in the distance….I followed her in her hot pink Wonder Woman shirt and her light blue socks from her first AYSO season when she was on the Cotton Candy Girls. I still had to make sure she got there OK. Even though I got a thumbs up.

I hope she knows that even though I stayed long after I got the OK from her, that I trust her. And I hope she knows that when the day comes and I leave immediately after I get the OK from her, that I love her.

It’s hard to let the leash out. Part of me wants to keep it retracted and close. Not let her wander too far. Dropping her off at soccer practice is different than dropping her off at school.

It’s a learning experience for BOTH of us. Letting go for me and gaining a little bit of independence for her.

And you know what, we’re BOTH going to be OK.

Thumbs up!