Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Go get them LOADED FRIES!

Back when I wrote my post about trigger foods, I fully intended to write a review of Arterra Restaurant (the place with the infamous LOADED FRIES). I really did! But then the Momfia "scooped" me, lol!
Beth (@hipmamab) has written an absolutely FABULOUS post about the now-legendary Momfia Contributors Dinner at Arterra Restaurant. When you see it you'll understand why "I can't believe I ate the whooooole thing." But I did! There's even a cute video of that night (with a photo of me making the "tweeting face"-yeesh!) made by Theresa (@rockonmommies). You can read Beth's post over at San Diego Momfia. Sorry to send you "offsite" but I think you'll be glad you went because...Momfia is GIVING AWAY A $100 GIFT CERTIFICATE to Arterra!!! Do you know how many loaded fries you can get with that? A LOAD!

This is a golden opportunity for you ladies in the San Diego area-or for one of you who may be coming this way for, say, Blogher.  Arterra is located in Del Mar, about 25 minutes north of downtown San Diego, and is well worth the trip. :)

Now go get them loaded fries! Need that link again? Here it is!

Wishing you love with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nacho Mama Goes to Legoland :)

I wanted to hurry up and get this posted for you folks right away because I heard that San Diego is going to the #2 Vacation Destination this holiday weekend (after Vegas, can that be true?) I also know that many of you who'll be coming to town for Blogher in August are bringing your families and staying through the weekend to enjoy San Diego. I figured some of you have got to be planning to visit Legoland, and maybe for the first time-like me!

Today my husband, kids and I had the privilege of attending the opening of "Splash Zoo"-a new feature at Legoland Water Park, along with the other moms of San Diego Momfia. It was a BEAUTIFUL day to hang out by the water in a cabana...
The Momfia Cabana at Splash Safari
I have to admit that, until today, it never crossed my mind that I could take my 2-year-old to a waterpark. So when I heard that Splash Zoo was designed for TODDLERS to enjoy the waterpark experience, I was a little concerned that my husband, 8-year-old and I might not be enjoying the day as much as our little guy. I needn't have worried-we had a FABULOUS time! We ALL enjoyed the toddler-safe "lazy rizer" innertube ride, the slides and especially splashing around with the Lego animal fountains. We all had a BLAST!
DUPLO Splash Safari
Photo via Legoland
Now as I mentioned, I was a Legoland virgin. However, I've grown up regularly visiting pretty much every theme park in Southern California. There are things I really love about theme parks: I love rides and OK, I'm a huge sucker for anything with a "theme." There are also things I generally don't care for: pricey food, lack of shade, crowds.  Here's what I loved about Legoland:

-The WHOLE family had fun, even though we spent the day in the "little kid" parts of the park.

-Most of the attractions were interactive, like this musical fountain. You can play the different instruments by jumping or dancing on the yellow circular pads. They also had fountains where the kids can aim the water stream at the Lego animals or targets-my kids LOVED those!

-Another thing I REALLY appreciated was the lush landscaping and abundance of shady places to sit. This is a big beef I have with a lot of theme parks. You're tired, maybe your toddler has fallen asleep in his stroller, and you have no choice but to broil while waiting for your older child to go on a ride. This is exactly what happened when my 8-year-old wanted to go to "Volvo Driving School." BUT, instead of turning into a chicharron?  I got to sit on a nice cool shady bench to watch my kid drive the Legoland grand prix!
-Although the line to get our tickets was pretty long, it didn't feel crowded inside the park at all. We hit the waterpark at about 11:30 and it didn't start to get busy until we were leaving to visit the main park at about 2:30.

I can't really say what kind of food was on offer. I didn't want to risk being stuck with something my super-picky kids wouldn't be in the mood for, so we packed our own drinks and snacks and had a lovely poolside picnic under one of Splash Safari's GIANT umbrellas (really-they were like a Christo installation!) It was delightful :)

We had "Resort Hopper" passes, but my kids were wiped out after Legoland and the Legoland Water Park, so we didn't get a chance to see the aquarium. I was a little disappointed about that, I love aquariums and it looked pretty awesome! I believe you can pay $10 and extend your passes for an extra day, so that might be something you'd want to consider.

Another tip: instead of taking the exit off Interstate 5 marked for "Legoland" you can get there by taking the Palomar Airport Road exit, then turning left onto Armada. The roundabout will lead you to Legoland. We took this way home and got a jaw-dropping view of the coast, I wish we could have seen it at sunset!

Hope you find these Legoland tips helpful for your next family trip :)

MANY, MANY, THANKS to Legoland and San Diego Momfia for the invite. My kids are already begging to go back!

Wishing you love with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama

Disclosure: The tickets to this event were gifted to me by Legoland.  The above is my honest opinion and I have not been compensated in any way for what is written here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

GIVEAWAY! Nacho Mama Tackles the Ross Dress for Less Challenge! Will YOU?

As you may know, I have been working the new Weight Watchers Points Plus plan for a while. But I haven't mentioned that, during this month (May), I have also been participating in the Joggermom Marathon. Moms all over the country signed up to walk or run 26.5 miles during the month of May. And I? FINISHED BY MOTHER'S DAY!! Wooo-hooo!  I'm trying to finish another "marathon" before the month is out.

Two BIG things occurred to me while I was doing all that walking: first, I really need a new exercise bra (TMI?) and second, I could be toning while I walk. Thus began my quest for the perfect deal on a pair of Skecher Shape-ups. Yes, they're...unattractive. But everyone I know who owns a pair swears by them.

The problem? They retail for $100. Gulp.

Weight Watchers had coupons for 30% off a pair, which would bring the price down to $70. Not bad, but still a bit steep for me. I went to the Skecher outlet, where the lowest price was $65.00. I tried to tell myself that it was an investment in my health. I was not convinced.

And then?

Sorry it's so dark-it was super cloudy!
Last week a number of us contributors at the San Diego Momfia were contacted by the good people at Ross Dress for Less to take on "The Ross Dress for Less Challenge!" They sent us each a $50 Ross gift card and challenged us to see how much bang we could get for our buck. I crossed my fingers, made a silent wish and hit my local Ross.

They had TONS of Skecher Shape-ups! All styles, colors and sizes (for men too). They even had other brands of toning shoes like Reebok, Fitflops and more. After trying them all on I settled on the perfect pair of comfy Skecher Shape-ups for FORTY DOLLARS. FORTY! Which meant I had just enough left over for a cute red Champion exercise bra ($8.99). That's $125 worth of badly needed fitness gear for under $50!
Here's a better view...

I am one happy mama! I found some other awesome stuff that I think I have to go back for, like ankle weights for $4. And something that would be the perfect giveaway for one of you next month....but I'm not telling!

Speaking of GIVEAWAYS...Ross is giving away a $25 Ross gift card to one of YOU! I can't wait to hear what you are able to find on your own "Dress for Less Challenge!"

Here's how to enter (you'll get 1 entry for each of the following-limit 3 entries per person):

1. Leave a comment below telling us what you're hoping to score a bargain on at Ross. Need a dress for that high school reunion? New cookware? Shape-ups? There's still plenty left!

2. Like Ross Dress for Less on Facebook and come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did.

3. Follow Nacho Mama's Blog and leave a comment to let me know (or if you already follow).

That's it! Contest closes May 25th at midnight. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on May 26th.

Wishing you love and a great bargain with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama

Disclaimer: The items mentioned in this post and the gift card for the giveaway were gifted by Ross Dress for Less. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Trigger" Foods-I can't prove they're laced with crack....

So...tomorrow is my Weight Watchers meeting. Which means I'll be weighing in. Facing the music. Paying the piper. Or is it the fiddler? Whichever one it is, it's not going to be pretty.

This week? I went WAAAAY over my points. Just trust me on this one.

Why? Well, there was that excursion to Porkyland. But I had put aside some of my weekly points allowance for that. What I didn't "bank"on, however, was the dinner the San Diego Momfia would throw for us contributors last night. It was at Arterra Restaurant, perched atop the Del Mar hills at sunset. Don't get me wrong-it was super fun and the food was phenomenal (I'll do a proper post about it later-promise!) but there were so many fantastic foods to try! And just when I thought I couldn't eat another bite...they brought out a dish that, well, let's just say there's no way for me to prove that it was laced with crack. Congratulations, Nacho Mama! You now have a new "trigger food!"

Do you have those? I sure do! For me "trigger foods" are the ones that once I start, I cannot stop eating until they're gone. I can't prove they're laced with crack. But if it ever came out one day that they were? You totally owe me Coke.

Let's start with the earliest and for me, worst offender.
Photo via Wikipedia
I can't remember a time when I didn't love them. I simply don't buy these, because I know how it'll end. It always ends with me trying to get every last, tiny, orange granule off the bottom of the bag. I do occasionally indulge in them when they are on offer at Superbowl parties and the like, but I just cannot bring them into my home. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I've actually eaten these until I've become sick. Wanna know how many times that's happened? I've lost count. I'm totally not kidding.
Photo via Wikipedia
Next up? Pizza. Specifically from either Filippi's or Lefty's here in San Diego. Ah, pizza. It was the first word I ever learned to spell. Again, not kidding. Now, though, I'm proud to admit that I have managed to exert a little control over this one. When I started this new WW program, I also started filling 2/3 of the plate with salad and only 1/3 with pizza. And I've eaten much less pizza this way! I don't particularly care for most salad dressings, I usually have my greens plain. Why waste the points on salad when you can spend them on PIZZA, people?

And now? "Loaded" Fries from Arterra. LOADED. FRIES. Good thing this place is almost a half-hour from me with gas prices as high as they are! First-you must see them:
Photo via Beth Avant (@HipMamaB)
It doesn't look so bad, does it? An innocent, austere white bowl....but here's what's lurking inside: French Fries mixed with fried, CUBED bacon. Topped with 2 fried eggs. That's all. And before serving it to you, the waitress tosses it all together as though it were a delicate spring mix of arugula and frisee.

I ate those fries over 24 hours ago and I can't. Stop. Thinking about them. Yes, they're loaded with fat. They're loaded with cholesterol. But they're also loaded with the most exquisite flavor. And possibly crack. But there's no way for me to prove that. At least, that's what the Weight Watchers receptionist will tell me at the scale tomorrow.

Please tell me you have Trigger Foods too! What are they? Chocolate? Funyuns?


Wishing you love with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama

REMEMBER: There's still time to enter my FAIR TRADE GIVEAWAY. We lost TWO DAYS with the Blogger outage, and I know at least one of your comments was a casualty (sorry! I hope you'll re-enter!) but we seem to be back now and there is some fun, healthy, stuff in the prize bag!

Fair Trade Day GIVEAWAY

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to have breakfast with some sistah-bloggers and hear renowned dietitian Ashley Koff RD, speak about Fair Trade Day, which is coming up on May 14th. It was as enlightening as it was delicious!
What is Fair Trade? It's a movement to encourage folks buy goods that are produced in developing countries under safe working conditions, using responsible farming practices and paying sustainable wages. While fair trade products are not always organic (at the moment 62% of FT-certified products are) they are produced without GMOs and harmful agrochemicals. In order to be certified fair trade, producers have to meet strict farming, production and labor guidelines.

Many fair trade items are "specialty" goods, like chocolate, coffee, spices and exotic fruits. Things that we're probably paying a teensy bit more for already. It just takes a little more awareness to check out the label to support sustainability and fair wages around the world. I couldn't help but remember the data that came out just last week about the fact that there is still a wage gap in the US between women and men. Women still make less than men and Latinas make the least of all (which was fairly disturbing news to me both as a Latina and as the mother of a Latina). I think that support of fair and sustainable wages worldwide cannot but raise awareness of the need for fair and sustainable wages at home as well.

Some pretty big US brands are catching on. Starbuck's is currently the largest purchaser of fair trade coffee beans in the world. And Ben and Jerry's have supported fair trade for years.

So what can we do?
First, we can educate ourselves about fair trade and "vote with our dollars."
There are currently 9,500 fair trade products available in the US today, you can view a complete list at Fair Trade USA.

We can also participate in the Fair Trade Twitter Party on Friday, 5/13, @ 9AM PST
The hashtag is #fairtradeday.

Ashley Koff recommended that we start by swapping fair trade products for items that we're already using everyday. Like coffee and milk. I've been buying fair trade coffee at my local supermarket for quite a while and not only love the way it tastes but the price is definitely competitive with the coffee I would otherwise buy.

Fair Trade USA sent me away with a bag full of goodies to GIVE AWAY! I hope you'll enjoy these products enough to choose them the next time you hit your supermarket :)

HOW TO ENTER: Simply leave a comment below with your thoughts, questions or knowledge about fair trade! Contest ends midnight, May 18th and winner will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Wishing you love with extra fair-trade cheese,
Nacho Mama

*Disclaimer: The products in the giveaway were gifted to me by Fair Trade USA, but the opinions shared in this post are entirely my own. I was not compensated in away for attending, as a guest, the event mentioned or for writing about my experience there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lighting Tips for any room in Your Home!

This morning I received San Diego Home & Garden's weekly newsletter and was surprised to see...ME!

They're featuring some of my tips for lighting in your home. You can check them out HERE.

Wishing you love with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo (with Chicano Soul Soundtrack)

You know what I love about Cinco de Mayo? Aside from the food? And the margaritas?

By now most of us know that Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day (I hope), but instead commemorates the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexicans defeated the French who outnumbered them 2 to 1.  You can read more about this momentous day at Wikipedia. 

What I really love about this holiday is that it celebrates the fact that, even when the odds seem to be overwhelmingly against you, you can succeed.  I'm also a big believer in celebrating all of your victories in life, however small.

And then, of course, there's the food. And the margaritas. And by margaritas I do not mean some slushy, sugary neon-yellow concoction served in a fishbowl. I mean something made with fresh ingredients, served on the rocks in a lady-sized glass.
Photo via Wikipedia
And by food, I do not mean Velveeta microwaved with a can of Rotel and poured over Tostitos. I mean carnitas. And perhaps? Nopales.

I know some people hate on Cinco de Mayo, saying it doesn't mean anything to "real" Mexicans, and that it's a completely American phenomenon-an excuse to get your party on after Spring Break is over. I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to celebrate the pepper that Mexican-Americans (and Hispanic-Americans in general) have added to the Great American Melting Pot.

And in the spirit of celebrating our "flavor" - my soundtrack for Cinco de Mayo is not mariachi music (which I love, don't get wrong!) but always the awesome Chicano Soul music recorded in the 50s, 60s and 1970s. Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about-the Blendells' "Hispanicized" cover of Stevie Wonder's "La La La La La" As promised in the intro, it'll make you clap your hands, kick your feet, and as a matter of fact, it'll tear you up.
What will you be eating and drinking this Cinco de Mayo? What will you be listening to? And most importantly, what will you be celebrating?

Wishing you mucho love with extra cheese-
Nacho Mama

Monday, May 2, 2011

Coming to San Diego for Blogher 2011? Don't miss HILLCREST!

If you're one of the 3,000 attendees expected at this year's Blogher conference this August here in San Diego, I hope you've set aside a little time for exploring America's Finest City (yes, I still have trouble typing that with a straight face :) but San Diego is awfully pretty!)
The conference will be downtown at the San Diego Marriott and Convention Center. There are scads of parties being planned all over the city but what about daytime, family or after-hours fun? From the Convention Center, it's just 2.5 miles down Fifth Avenue to my lovable, colorful stomping grounds, the neighborhood of Hillcrest.
R Gang Eatery? Yeah, it's in Hillcrest!
I've compiled a Top 10 list of places in Hillcrest to see, eat and shop for San Diego Momfia. You can check it out HERE!  Writing this post kind of reminded me of this...
Because you can buy Kale in Hillcrest too!

Wishing you Love with Extra Cheese-
Nacho Mama