Category Archives: Fun

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!!

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!


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!!


Right On Target ~ A Laser Tag Birthday Party

Last fall Holden went to a birthday party at the local laser tag place and immediately said he wanted his 8th birthday party there. This mama party planner still loves hosting a good themed party, but after almost 10 years of birthday parties, I’m more open to letting someone else do all the work and having it “off-site”, as I like to call it.

I usually have a good handle on his February party right after the new year, but this January was full of flag football, the flu and lots and lots of post soccer season soccer games so I found myself scrambling to get the invitations out and didn’t have time to make them on my own. I found a cute one on Etsy and went with that. The digital file was just $7 and I had them printed at Target {4X6} for 19 cents a piece.


I reserved the party and made a deposit on-line. Easy peasy. The words “absolutely NO outside food or drink permitted” are utter disappointment for control freak party planners, but I took a deep breath and channelled my inner Elsa and just LET IT GO. I even had to order the cake through them which was the hardest part for me. I can handle pizza and sodas, but the cake?? And I almost brought my own coordinating plates, cups and napkins, but decided to keep it simple and go with what they supply. I did grab an “8” candle for the “mystery cake” and some balloons at Party City for a festive touch.

The party package included 10 guests and came with 2 hours of play {3 games of laser tag and 10 tokens per guest}, 2 slices of pizza/person {3 pizzas} and unlimited soda refills. Our hostess, Eliza, was great and kept the party moving along nicely. We ended up getting out of there just in time….apparently this is the weekend hot spot for teenagers and they started to take over around 7:30 right when the party was wrapping up. We practically had the place to ourselves for the first hour, though.

As a $12 “add on” they have a party wheel that the birthday boy/girl can spin and win anything from a free pizza, to more tokens, to extra tickets, etc. Holden spun and landed on 1000 tickets which basically translates to a absurd amount of cheap little trinket toys or ONE big cheap toy which he chose in the form of a disc launcher ~ a $12 disc launcher which retails at your local Dollar Tree for well…a dollar! Ha!


About a month before the party I came across some lightning bolt pajamas on clearance at Target. I scooped up 10 pairs, discovered there was a Cartwheel savings for an additional 20%, used my Red Card for an additional 5% and BOOM the party favors were done!


 I also picked up some brown craft paper bags at Dollar Tree, took a Sharpie to them and created a target to fit with the theme. The manila mailing tags are from Staples and the chartreuse polka dot washi tape is from Joann’s.


 {Disclaimer: the generic Pop Rocks were not my first choice, but they were made in the USA and not China so I rolled with it! 😉 }




{Waiting for the guests}






{Holden hits the jackpot}



{Pizza from next door at Pizza Del Sardo}


{Pretend this is a red velvet Nothing Bundt Cake, K?}



{Please note the $12 disc launcher 😉 }


I must say that this party was right on target. The seven and eight year old boys were in their element and sweaty messes when all was said and done! Unfortunately, I didn’t get all 12 kids to sit still long enough for a group shot {yes, I actually thought that was going to happen}. I loved holding it on a Friday night because that left the whole weekend open.

The best part was that I did not stress at all. Not once. I even chaperoned a fourth grade field trip earlier that day and was still standing. Throwing cozy intimate parties at home is nice, but giving up the reins and letting someone else run things is sometimes nicer.

Many thanks to all the gamers who came out and helped Holden celebrate EIGHT! He sure did enjoy your generous gifts all weekend long.

We love you to the moon and back, Holdy! You’re a blast to be around and we pray you have many blessings, adventures and laughs on your way to NINE.


Daddy, Mommy, Sissy, Riggs & Rassy

Twenty Fourteen ~ A Year In Review

Happy New Year! I am eagerly awaiting to see what 2015 will bring….it’s a big blank space just waiting to be filled with precious memories.

I hope you all had a joyous and safe NYE. We got together with several of our wonderful neighbors and overindulged on everything from Ethiopian enchiladas to key lime pie and washed it all down with everything from caramel apple sangria to Shock Tops! Needless to say I need to get back on track with my Weight Watchers program!! I have been attending the weekly meetings, but watching the pounds go up little by little here and there since the beginning of December. I did so well from early September to the end of November….the secret is to have all the right foods in the house and that has been the problem. So, tomorrow I shall gather all the right groceries to regain focus and watch the pounds head back in the right direction.


About this time each year I choose one photo per month from our iPhoto library and post it as a way to look back on the past 52 weeks. It’s difficult to narrow it down to a single moment, but that’s part of the fun.

Here are twelve memories frozen in time from Twenty14…


{Splashing in Santa Barbara on a January day}


{Game truck madness for Holden’s February birthday}


{Cosmic mother/son bowling in March}


{April brought the beginning of Spring Sports Saturdays}


{Celebrating 5 years at Star Dance Center with Miss Erin in May}


{June’s maiden voyage to Grand Central Market}


{July welcomed Auntie Anuja into the family}


{An August day at the tar pits and MOMA}


{Fall Sports Saturdays commenced in September}


{October hosted our first, and definitely not last, Color Run}


{A blurry capture of a perfect Thanksgiving}


{December brought a full house for Christmas}


This year I was surprisingly ahead of the Christmas card game…both photos that I wanted to include on it were done and captured by mid-October and our cards were in-hand by Halloween! I loved not having that hang over my head for the month of November.



The happiest of January Firsts to you!


Hand Santa-tizer Class Goody

Hello friends!

We’ve been enjoying the holidays with Jay’s annual corporate party, soccer playoffs, shopping, wrapping and getting little goodies packaged up for those important people that bless our lives during the year.

Over the weekend the kids helped me get their classroom treats labeled, washi taped, stuffed and stapled. I stalked the Bath & Body Works after holiday store clearance in early-mid January and picked up enough pocket hand sanitizers…..ahem, Santa-tizers…..for both their classes. They were 75% off and came up to 44¢ a piece. That is a super small price to pay to help do my part in the germ-y hands department. 😉


 I grabbed the little favor bags at Target over the summer for 70% off and the washi tape is from Dollar Tree. I just printed off a little message on a clear Avery address label, added a mini candy cane and DONE!

I will most definitely be visiting B&BW in the new year for next years’ supply.

Can’t go wrong for under 60¢ per classmate!


I hope you’re decking the halls, setting up nativity scenes, sipping peppermint hot cocoa, ice skating under the stars & white twinkly lights, getting frustrated when your kids waste all the Scotch tape and there isn’t any to be found when you need it {just me?}, cruising the streets to see the Christmas lights and just enjoying sitting on your couch staring at your tree!

10 more days.


Under The Mistletoe

Just wanted to pop in and share a cute holiday gift that I’ve been working on ~ Mistletoe Survival Kits.

I’ve been hoarding all things candy cane & peppermint for the past couple months.

Last year I saw this cute idea and wanted to put my own spin on it to give as gifts this year.


Each kit will include about 4 of the goodies shown and will be nestled in a small gift bag.

The majority of these things were only about a dollar so this makes a nice, inexpensive little gift.

1. Candy Cane Green Tea ~ Trader Joe’s

2. Socks ~ Target

3. Mug on the left ~ 99¢ Only

4. Mint Chocolate Chip mask ~ Wal-mart

5. “Pur” gum ~ Albertson’s

6. Mug on lower right ~ Dollar Tree

7. Ghiradelli peppermint hot chocolate mix ~ Wal-mart

8. Minta soda ~ Ralphs

9. Peppermint hot cocoa spoon ~ Wal-mart

10. Candy Cane Chapstick ~ Wal-mart

11. Candy Cane mini Oreos ~ Wal-mart

12. Peppermint tissue paper ~ Dollar Tree

Not pictured: EOS sweet mint lip balm and LUNA minis in Chocolate Peppermint Stick {both from Target}.


These will make sweet gifts for teachers, aides, hairstylists, babysitters, etc.

Now off to make my Thanksgiving shopping list ~ less than a week away.

Happy Friday!