Family Story Time at Westfield Topanga!

10 Mar

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WESTFIELD TOPANGA AND GIGGLES N’ HUGS TO RE-LAUNCH FAMILY ‘STORY TIME’ TUESDAY, MARCH 11

Monthly Story Time events to be held in The Canyon at Westfield Topanga the first Tuesday of each month; March 11 kick-off event to include reading, arts and crafts, and special characters

Story Time events are scheduled for the first Tuesday of every month.

 

WHAT:                Story Time returns to Westfield Topanga on Tuesday, March 11. This 2014 Story Time kick-off event will include a live reading, arts and crafts stations, and a visit from Elmo and Sleeping Beauty walkabout characters that will be available for a meet-and-greet and photos.

Following the kick-off event, Story Time will be held in The Canyon at Westfield Topanga from 11:00am – 12:00pm on the first Tuesday of the month for the remainder of the year. Intended for families with young children, Story Time events are hosted by Westfield Topanga, in partnership with family restaurant and play space Giggles N’ Hugs.

WHERE:             The Canyon at Westfield Topanga (near Splendid)

6600 Topanga Canyon Boulevard

Canoga Park, CA 91303

 

WHEN:                Tuesday, March 11

11:00am – 12:00pm

And then the first Tuesday of every month following.

For more information about Story Time please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/events/638150459585351/

For more information about Westfield Topanga please visit: https://www.facebook.com/westfieldtopanga

Homemade Almond Butter – How To Make It!

18 Jan Almond Butter

GLUTEN FREE * VEGAN * SUGAR FREE * PALEO

Almond Butter

GAME CHANGER!

My life is forever changed now that I googled homemade almond butter. I added a little pizzaz to it, so copy mine because it’s better.

Ready? Set? This is how we do it … (I hope you just sang that line)

You will Need:almonds

  1. 3 cups of raw almonds (the packs they sell at Trader Joes are 3 cups already)
  2. sea salt
  3. cinnamon
  4. coconut oil
  5. vanilla
  6. a food processor

nuts spin

All you do:

  • Put the raw almonds in the food processor. Press ON. (That was tough, huh?) It will be on for about 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Here is your warning: It’s Loud!  It gets quieter as your nuts get soggier. LOL ;)
  • All of the sudden your chopped up nuts will turn to an almond meal. After the almond meal it turns to a dough and then the magic happens … the dough starts to turn into a beautiful spread and if you put your hands on your processor you will see how hot it has become. It’s actually cooking in there!  At this point in the process add about 1/4 tsp sea salt, about 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/3 cup of heated coconut oil and about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Turn that thing back on for 30 seconds, let it mix in and voila! Delish!

Go ahead … taste your magic. Be proud. You made that! Post that deliciousness, put it on Facebook, put in on Instagram but most important … put that butta on a spoon (or in my most favorite delish protein shake) and enjoy every single second of it!Almond Butter

almond butter pkg

butter

If you are not crazy like I am and you actually eat sugar, please feel free to add sugar or whatever sweetener you want. In my opinion, you don’t need it!

ENJOY!

xo

TVM

Erica’s Delish Gluten Free Oatmeal Banana Raisin Muffcooks

18 Jan muffcooks 1

GLUTEN FREE * VEGAN * SUGAR FREE * PALEO * ALL AROUND HEALTHY!

Here is my very first recipe that I have ever made up … ENJOY!!! I hope you love these as much as we do! ;)

Erica’s Delish Banana Oatmeal Raisin MuffCooks (muffin cookies)

You will need:

  1. Gluten Free Cooking Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Oats)
  2. Flaxseed Meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Ground)
  3. 2 Bananas (Ripe)
  4. Raisins (Handful)
  5. Baking Powder
  6. Baking Soda
  7. Sea Salt
  8. Gluten Free Vanilla
  9. Ghee (or butter of your choice – you can now purchase Ghee at Trader Joes too)
  10. Almond Butter (or your favorite nut butter, homemade is yummiest and you can see my almond butter recipe here)
  11. Applesauce (I use real applesauce, made with only apples and water but any will do)
  12. Coconut Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1st bowl mix:

  • 1 ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • Tad less than ½ cup of flaxseed meal

Use a fork and mix it all together.

In a separate bowl mix:

  • 2 mashed up bananas (I mash them with a fork)
  • ¼ tsp GF vanilla
  • 1 tbsp Ghee butter
  • 1 tbsp applesauce
  • 1 tsp melted coconut oil

Use fork and mash and mix it all together.

Pour dry ingredients into wet mixture. Add ¼ – ½ cups (your preference) of almond butter to mixture. Add heaping handful of raisins and mix. Again, you can use the same fork or spoon and mix together!

Drop big drops of batter into muffin tins (makes 12).

muffcooks tray

Put in oven and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes. And Voila! Delish!

(For my kids I put in a couple chocolate chips in a few for fun).

These are great treats, breakfast on the go or even something yummy with coffee. Let me know if you like them!

muffcook

xo

TVM

6 Reasons You Need Your Kids

11 Jan

6 Reasons You Need Your Kids.

If you want to fall in love with a hilarious new blogger, then read this, like it and follow her! Not only is she a dear friend, a fellow valley mom but she’s one hell of a funny writer! Bravo Confessioness! Bravo!

Flying With Kids?

11 Oct

I’m bringing this post back, it is a favorite for sure! 

If you are flying with kids and you need something … anything … for gawd sake ANYTHING … try this amazing trick! 

Best Kid Tip for Flying … You will LOVE me for sharing this!

We went away to Cabo a couple of years ago and had the most AMAZING flight experience with both kids we were traveling with because of this ONE, SIMPLE idea!

PRESENTS!!!

Disney Toy Story backpack with luggage wheels for small children

  • Get your child their very own backpack that they can carry if they don’t already have one! Wheels are best in case it gets too heavy, but either way is fine. (Good news, if you need to buy one, they will use it in school one day or if they are in school use that one) 
  • Go to the Dollar Tree or 99¢ Store and load up on about 8 – 10 items for each child (more if you think will fit). – For example: packs of stickers, crayons with a small coloring book, hot wheels cars, small figurine barbie type toys, puzzles, etc…
  • Wrap each present, stuff half of them inside the backpack and then leave other half in your bag!

Tasty Brand Organic Fruit Snacks, Mixed Fruit Flavors, 2.75-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

  • Put some treats (organic lollipops, sweet snacks, Tasty Gummies, etc) small sandwich, freeze dried fruit from Trader Joes, chips and a juice box in a little bag that will fit in the backpack for the trip in the car, airport and especially the flight.
  • Once you get on the plane you can start with either a snack or a present to open! I started with a present as we had 20 minutes to kill before we even took off! Just watch your child light up with each small, new and fun present! These things keep them busy! Do not let them know in advance that there are more coming, let it be a surprise each time! There will be no crying kids on that flight … or at least not your kids! ;)

VERY IMPORTANT: try to leave about 4 or 5 of those wrapped presents either in your suitcase or another bag so you can use them on your flight home! And if our child is getting bored or whiny on the actual vacation, you can always pull out a couple fun toys, even more mobile ones to throw around! Listen, I don’t ever recommend giving a whiny child a present – I get it. But when you need a vacation … well, you get my point!

Best part … this whole thing costs anywhere between $15 – $20. Hands down the best $20 you will spend for the flight!

Happy Flying Moms & Dads!

 

xo 

TVM

The Veggie Grill … I have died and gone to Veggie heaven!

11 Jun

The Veggie Grill – Encino

AND A GIVEAWAY!!!!!!

taste and enjoy

All I have to say is … WHOA! That was surprisingly the BEST meal I have had in a really long time! May I please tell you more? Great, thanks! Listen up … this place is AMAZING! I was expecting to eat food with healthy choices on the menu. That’s when I was in for a real treat. I was blown away. The flavors in this food took me for a real loop. I had no idea food like this existed! You all know by now that I eat Dairy Free and Gluten Free, so when I walked into  a restaurant who had so many choices for vegan and dairy/gluten free items, they had already-mostly won me over. Then to be greeted with such friendly and accommodating service? Ok, major bonus again! That’s when I took my first bite. The smile from ear to ear was probably obnoxious and unattractive … more like a crazy person. I realized I had fallen in love with this place. Since then I have been day dreaming about their food and I will continuously dream on that one day “Erica for Veggie Grill” will be like the “Jared for Subway” (ew, Subway is gross). Anyway for all you Moms and Dads reading this … this place has plenty of space for the kids to run around outside on the patio and/or melt down while hungry! Again, major bonus!  Oh and there is free valet or self parking in the back too! We really needed a healthy restaurant in the Valley, so thank you Veggie Grill for coming out here. All them City Folk get the good restaurants too often! ;)

Ready for the goods? Ok, here we gooooo …….

salad 1

 

Above is their most popular item – All Hail Kale Salad:  Marinated kale and red cabbage, corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts, ginger-papaya vinaigrette. Add Tempeh or Blackened Chickin’. Uhhhh maaaaaazing!!!!

Below is the GF Power Plate:  Blackened tempeh-portobello mushroom-caramelized onion stack, steamin’ kale, sliced tomato salad, chipotle ranch. Heeeeavannnnnnn on a platter!!!!!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I truly believe pictures can say a thousand words … so go ahead and just get ready for your mouth to water …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Nachos!!! And I about died. Yep, just picture that going into your salivating mouth right about now. You’re welcome.

 

 

Everyone’s favorite … The Sweetheart Fries. More like sweet cheezus! I literally couldn’t stop.

Want to love me even more? Ok, take an imaginary bite of this little slice of heaven. I dare you. Chocolate Pudding Parfait. Vegan and you wouldn’t know it!

 

And by the way, you don’t have to be gluten free, dairy free, vegan or even like health food to enjoy this restaurant. Trust.

 

So you want the best part??? There are TWO Gift Certificates up for grabs!!! Are you going to be the lucky winner???

Here is how you can win one of the two Gift Certificates ($15 each) that I am happily giving away:

1: Subscribe to The Valley Mom.com up at the top right (if you are already a subscriber, then step 1 is already done for you!)

2: Go “Like” Veggie Grill on Facebook by CLICKING HERE

3: Send me an email at thevalleymom@gmail.com with the subject line” Veggie Grill” and write “Am I the lucky winner”?

I will be drawing names out of a hat on Thursday, June 13th at 3:00p! I will write you back to send me your address of where you want your gift certificate mailed! Good Luck Fellow Moms (and Dads too)!

Everyone … trust me! Go eat at the Veggie Grill in Encino! You will LOVE me for sending you!

The Veggie Grill – 16542 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 91436 | map | 818.788.2621 | Open Daily from  11am to 10pm | www.veggiegrill.com

xo

TVM

*anything in pink is a hyperlink throughout the whole post, feel free to click!

 

Holy Fukushima – Radiation From Japan Is Already Killing North Americans

8 Jun

Read this … it’s the scariest thing ever … but we all need to know about it. Period. End. Read it. Know what you eat people!

Holy Fukushima – Radiation From Japan Is Already Killing North Americans.

Keeping Kids Safe As They Play – Football

26 Mar

I get requests from guest bloggers often, and this one struck a chord. It’s important we are all informed. I feel very strongly about this as well. My husband works in Sports Television and especially with NFL games. We talk often about how scary it is today for our kids to play football as the consequences have grown so great. Please read blow from my guest blogger, John O’Connor. 

Keeping Kids Safe As They Play

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“Participating in sports like lacrosse, soccer or football can instill invaluable life skills like leadership, teamwork and discipline in our children.  With all the fun and health benefits that come with playing sports, participation in these sports does not come without risks, unfortunately.  As parents it is our job to become fully educated on the potential risks that come with playing sports and ways in which we can help protect our children. 

The National Football League over the years has been working ways to improve the safety of players participating in these sports.  Injuries like concussions or ligament tears have become a common occurrence among football players.  The NFL has decided to make it a top priority to improve the safety of the NFL players to prevent these injuries.  Changes to certain rules like prohibiting players from using the helmet to hit others or not hitting quarterbacks below the knees are examples of how they are improving the safety of the sport.

While the NFL has implemented these rules, they are seeing how their efforts can improve the safety of athletes of all ages.  Educating people on the dangers of contacts sports has become a priority; they have launched the NFL Evolution to promote awareness about safety in youth sports.  As a parent of a young athlete, I appreciate the organization taking leadership on such an important subject.

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Concussions

Each year, over 3 million children under the age of 14 participate in organized football, putting them at risk for concussions.  A concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury that can occur as a result of sudden contact with an object.  Symptoms of the condition include headache, nausea and confusion.  More severe symptoms can include memory loss and even hearing loss. If permanent hearing loss occurs, the use of hearing aid may be required to help increase hearing levels for better hearing.  Parents can protect their children in several ways.

•           Wearing the right protective headgear while playing
•           Ensuring that all protective gear is the right fit and size
•           Instruct kids on how best to use their bodies while playing
•           Seek immediate medical attention when injury is suspected

Ligament Tears

Ligament tears are another common sports injury among young athletes.  The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury prevents the body from being able to stabilize the knee and protect it from improper movement or shifting.  Athletes feel this when they run, jump or land while doing certain sports.  Here are some ways that athletes can prevent ligament tears.

•           Athletes should complete specific training drills that teach them proper balance, power and agility
•           Strengthening the areas surrounding the knee and the muscles within the leg
•           Allotting proper time to warm up their muscles and loosen up

Heat injuries

Children who train during the summer months in certain sports face risks of heat exhaustion.  During these months, the extreme temperatures can cause injuries.  Luckily, most of these injuries can be prevented.  These are some extra precautions parents can take in protecting their children.

•           Children should be hydrated
•           Light clothing should always be worn
•           Sunscreen should always be worn

Sports are great way for children to have a good time, but as parents, we must make sure that our children are safe while they play.  Taking these extra precautions will ensure that your child remains safe while having fun.

Hi my name is John O’Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!”

 

Thanks, John! Great post! 

TVM

 

What if …

18 Dec

Here’s the deal Moms and Dads … you have all had the “what if’s” crawl in your head. I know you have. It’s human nature. Worst part is, when you become a parent, those “what ifs” get worse and worse and worse and somehow you even get a little morbid. I know, you totally agree with me. It’s not weird. It’s called being a Parent.

what-if

Want to know where I am going with this? Well hold on, I need to vent!

It really started in November … I had just read about these two young girls who were in a car accident with their parents and are now orphans. I don’t want to go into the story, it’s way too emotional. And then my husband and I were going on our first alone vacation to Cabo shortly after, yes … with no kids. I freaked out! I had nothing planned for my children if that stupid “what if” actually happened. For the last four years (very rarely) I have been telling my husband, Zac, that we need to set up a trust. I wanted to make sure that Dylan and Madison were set if Gawd forbid a “what if” happened. Well, someone told me to just write down my wishes and title it a Will. You know, put it all on paper and both of you sign it? So … we did. Want to know where it is? I HAVE NO CLUE! Want to know something crazy? If a “what if” happened to you, do you think a family member of yours or a friend of yours will find it? Ummm … NO! They won’t. And that’s where the fighting begins. Actually, even if they found this janky piece of paper, someone will think they will do a better job then the other family member and say something stupid like, “they must have wrote that 4 years ago, and things have changed and I don’t think that’s what they want anymore.” Listen, people get crazy when emotions run high. Being in Real Estate I have seen the worst of people when there has been a death and people fight for kids, money, homes, etc. Who wants a fight? Who wants the unknown? And notice something here? I am completely “what if-ing” right now! Ugh.

In the most recent tragedy in our Country I find it completely relevant and appropriate to make sure that you and your family are taken care of in the awful case that something were to happen.

Get yourself a Trust. TRUST ME! It’s worth every penny. Don’t try and do this online and print it out. If you are going to do it, do it right. You need to call an Attorney who specializes in Estate Planning. Do not be discouraged if you don’t have money in the bank, if you don’t own a home or if you don’t have family close by. None of these things matter. THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS is if a “what if” was to occur and your children were left behind to make decisions for themselves or were to become an orphan, it would only make things worse for them in time of tragedy. Make the decisions for them now. Have everything documented now. Not only will you get a copy of your Will, Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directive … but you can do what I did and just email your family, or whoever you named in your Estate Plan, all your Attorney’s information as they have a copy as well.

trust

I know that my husband and I are safe. I am sure nothing will happen for a long time … we all hope for that. But if that “what if” happens to either of us, we have already made all the decisions that will best fit ourselves and our children. We know who they will live with, who will handle their finances and that everyone will be loved and in good hands.

There is only one Attorney I would recommend for this – she is a fellow Mom, a very intelligent woman, she takes you by the hand and leads you in the right direction. When you start to feel too morbid and uncomfortable doing this, she gets you back on track and reminds you that it’s the opposite of morbid. It took me too long to do this for my family. It even took me too long to write this post. I regret not doing it sooner. She helped me the entire way and has the patience of a Saint. And major bonus … she is HALF the price of any other Attorney out there. I can promise you this, you will thank me later!

Julie S. Berkus, Attorney – 818.986.8080 or jberkus@oclslaw.com

She is with the Estate Planning Law Firm of Oldman, Cooley, Sallus, Gold, Birnberg & Coleman, L.L.P.

CLICK HERE for their website.

Julie S. Berkus

Do me one favor, at least email her right this minute or call her immediately and just ask the questions you might have. That is the least you can do for your children. Then make a decision.

Please make sure to tell Julie that The Valley Mom sent you for the fellow Mommy discount! ;)

Love,

TVM

Phenomenal Photographer

15 Oct

Another blog about another photographer? Damn skippy! You know why? BECAUSE SHE IS THAT GOOD! And this one is worth reading, trust me!

When I met Ashley, fellow Valley Mom, she just had that “light” to her. She has that glow of sweetness and a smile that is so sincere. She is so down to earth and just has that certain quality that makes you want to be around her. She’s beautiful on the inside and out and it shows right through on to all the beauty she finds in everyone else. You can see it in all the moments she captures. They are pure, light, airy, fun, genuine and full of love. All those incredible qualities that Ashley possesses in herself.

Meet Ashley Forchelli

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She’s a Mom to two beautiful children and just all around sweet as can be. Difference between Ashley and all the other photographers I have used and loved? It’s the way she is with your kids, it’s her positive energy, it’s the light she finds in your eyes and it’s the color she sees that I have never witnessed anyone find before. She captures something in everyone and her surroundings that we just don’t see ourselves. It’s magnificent. That’s the difference.

All the colors and warmth in her pictures makes me want to jump in them …

She makes people feel comfortable during their most vulnerable state – in front of a camera. Unless you are a model, being in front of a lens is so intimidating. You are thinking way too hard – do I look ok, is my hair out of place, is my hair flying up to the clouds, does my arm look fat, hide my arm, are my kids smiling, does my husband look like he is enjoying this, will my kids sit still, is that a booger in my son’s nose, damn I need to suck in my stomach, I should have worn something different … etc. BOTTOM LINE: She makes it all easy and all that worry or insecurity go away. She captures those perfect moments that you had no idea were even going on and she brings out the love and light in each picture.

Her patience is remarkable. If your child starts to melt down, she just identifies and knows how to help the situation. She makes the entire process easy. It comes natural to her because she has two little ones.

You have to see some other pictures she has taken besides my family …

Here are a couple great shots she took for our Real Estate business, EricaAndTiffany.com

Here is one of one of my FAVORITE BLOGGERS from Coconut & Bean, Piper Chuthakieo, showing off her sensational sense of style and Ashley capturing it in the form of true art ~

Or look at the newest addition to this beautiful family. Such a simple moment where you can feel all the love ~

Or this … I have no words. It’s my favorite!

CLICK HERE to see more of Ashley’s photographs.

This is how it works: She has on location custom photo sessions, those are $300. With that you get more than you could ever imagine! You get timeless memories captured, her amazing time spent during the photo shoot, her hours of behind the scenes editing to make them even more amazing and then you get approximately 30 digital photos with print release! Yes, that means you get to do as you please with all those pictures that you LOVE so much! CLICK HERE for all those details. Obviously she offers professional printing as well, at a very low cost! But it’s nice to have the option within the set price!

If spending $300 is just not doable right now or you just want a quick photo session of your baby who just turned one, or pictures for an anniversary, or a fun small holiday shot, etc … those are really inexpensive and you can afford it! Those are for sessions where you get around 10 pictures or so. These are “mini sessions” and the pictures are still AMAZING!

I know this is getting long … BUT … another AMAAAAZING thing: She offers classes! Yep. To the average Joe Schmoe like you and I who take a gazillion pictures of our kids and don’t know what the hell we are doing with our Cannon 30 D’s or even 7D’s that our husband’s bought us, well, for themselves in my case.  She studied this art and for a very small cost, she can share what she knows and teach you how to become the real deal, or so we will at least think we are! (wink, wink) I mean, now you can tell your besties that the Canon you are using is because you are a professional now. I mean, you are. Right? Anyway, trust me. She’s on a damn pedestal for me! I can’t help it. She is truly a phenomenal photographer.

CLICK HERE for her website. CLICK HERE for her blog. CLICK HERE for her Facebook page. Either way click something here and get in touch with her. If you have already had photos taken by Ashley, please leave a comment below about your experience with her!

Ashley Forchelli – 818.332.5987 or ashleyforchelli@mac.com

PS! She still has some weekday time available for Holiday Shoots in November only. CALL HER NOW! ;)

Love,

TVM

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