Oct 16, 2017

West Inn and Suites Review (Room 115)

OMG we have found a perfect hotel for our Legoland travels and it's West Inn and Suites. For Brick or Treat at Legoland CA we stayed here to avoid driving back home tired at night and it was the best decision I made with hotel stays this year.

I booked this King Size bed on their website about 3 weeks before our trip. I had never stayed here and I needed something close to Legoland and the freeway. This was perfect.

We arrived after spending our morning at Legoland at 2pm. I know check in wasn't until about 4pm but me and my son needed a break from the walking and the sun. We parked in the back and was greeted by a member of the cleaning staff with a smile and a welcome.

The lobby was so adorable and looked more like a mansion than a hotel. At the front desk was 1 lady on the phone and another welcoming us, Sherrina. Sherrina didn't hesitate to welcome us, ask for my name and saw that there was a room available, no extra charge.. WHAT!!! Amazing. She asked where I parked and I told her I had to use the disabled parking in the back, she said ok, let me get you a room near your car so you wont have to walk far.. WHAT!!! OMG, more amazement.

She went over hotel policy and other options we had during our stay from a shuttle to and from Legoland, dinning options, milk and cookie nights, and the breakfast. We were given room 115, next to the rear door. I thought for sure I was going to hear the door slamming all night long... nope, no issue with noise.

The room was clean, had a clean smell, fresh sheets, a/c set at room temperature, TV with HBO, Sports, OWN, TVONE, TLC, Cartoons and others.

The restroom had a vanity, space to lay out my make up and a lighted mirror. (No bathtub but a shower)

There was a mini fridge with 2 water bottles, microwave, coffee maker, and desk. There wasn't a table for food but a small coffee table and chair.

Back out in the lobby area was a room called The Library. It has a fireplace, flat screen TV (2), tables with benches and tables with chairs. It really does look like a mansion in someone's home. They had a few Halloween pictures up and fall decor but nothing that would scare the children.

Next door was a bistro and a restaurant but neither were open. I believe they didn't open until after 5pm. We would be at Legoland at that time and would miss dinner.

We decided to save the $18 parking fee to Legoland and use the Hotel Shuttle service. You have to book your drop off and pick up times with the front desk. The shuttle is a van, it can hold 2-3 families at a time, so book your times in advance. The shuttle ran from 9am - 9pm on Saturday. Our driver was Shawn and he dropped us off at the Welcome sign at Legoland. I wish they could drop us at the Legoland Hotel area because there is major construction going on and trying to walk around the construction was not fun for someone that is disabled. I ended up hurting my knee from walking up and down the construction hills. My return time was scheduled for 8pm but by 7pm I couldn't take the pain anymore. I called the hotel and told them I hurt my knee and they immediately came to get me and my son. Right away they were offering me ice packs and things to help me, I didn't have to ask for a thing! Their customer service was out of this world.

We arrived on time for late night milk and cookies. It was funny to see all of the adults in line for milk and cookies. We were big kids again. I bet in the winter time they have the fire place going and having milk and cookie nights is a dream.

The next morning, 6:30am, we got our complimentary breakfast and the buffet was packed with food. Again we were greeted by staff saying good morning and welcoming us at every turn, from room service to people setting up the food, everyone had this southern charm about them that I miss so much from living in Mississippi.

We opted for eggs, bacon, muffins, bagels, hot chocolate, passion fruit, and a banana. Sounds like a lot but we ate it all, the food was great and there was plenty of food to go around. They had other items like cereal, toast, oatmeal, coffee, apple juice, orange juice and so on.

They thought of everything when it came to breakfast except an alternative meat. I don't eat red meat but the bacon sure smelled good and my son loved it. I took just a few bites and decided I would try and get in some exercise.

The hotel does have a small exercise room but it wasn't an option for me as a single mom. There was no one to supervise my son so I opted for something we could do together... SWIM. The pool opened at 7am and we were the first people there.

There was a ping pong table but you have to get the paddles from the front desk.

We opted on a much needed muscle relax session in the Jacuzzi. The water wasn't super hot, I could go for hotter, but it was a great way to help my knee and muscles recover from a long day at Legoland. It is big enough for 12 people but I was glad to have the Jacuzzi to myself.

Jayden can't swim. He's 8 and the shallow area to the pool isn't big. It quickly goes from 3 1/2 feet to 5 feet in just a few steps. He did panic because he didn't know it would get deep so fast but I was there to have him grab my arm from outside of the pool. There are no lifeguards so if your kids can't swim please stay with them as I did.

For the most part the steps into the pool is where Jayden played. I did notice how clean the outside was. There were no leaves in the pool, no insects, everything was spotless. The pool towels were also outside and ready for you to use.

Things we noticed

  1. Carlsbad has a train but not much info on how to get from the station to your hotel without calling an Uber. West provided train station pick ups and drop offs. You have to call ahead of time to schedule this shuttle service.
  2. They have underground parking if needed. Go to the back of the hotel and you will find it there.
  3. If you want food like pizza there is an outlet mall near by to grab food from.
  4. The shuttle service to Legoland and back needs to be booked ahead of time. If you are scheduled to ride with other families please be on time so the other families don't have to wait for you.
  5. There is a $100 additional fee that is placed on your credit card at arrive. This charge is a burden but is used from amenities like dinner next door or the snack shack area. We didn't use either and we have to wait 3-5 business day for them to release it and another 3-5 business days for the bank to process it. If you are on a budget this can be a strain.

Brick or Treat at Legoland CA 2017 (Park Tips Included)

Brick or Treat is back at Legoland CA and we didn't hesitate to make arrangements to travel to Carlsbad for this event. It has quickly become a family tradition for us. The decorations or pumpkins, ghost, skulls and other Halloween attributes were in full swing around the park.

The main stage arena for the costume judging isn't used during the day and the other entertainment items in this area were canceled. We made it into our rest stop lol.

At 5pm the Brick or Treat party began but we took advantage of the short lines and got on a few rides. Most people were looking for candy but we a seasoned veterans of Brick or Treat and we knew it was time to hit the rides.

This year Legoland Brick or Treat had serious competion when it came to the costume contest. I think the best one I saw was a kid dressed as the Marshmallow Man, his outfit puffed out and looked full of air. Jayden liked the kid dressed as a Minnion because it was huge and people thought he worked for Legoland. 

This year I really enjoyed that the lines for treats were roped off more than before. Before it was easier for people to cut the line and run and join in but this year the lines were more organized.

We didn't stay long year but after hitting 5 stations here's my candy loot. Not bad. I did pass on the Cliff bars that they were giving out and opted for more candy. I kind of wish I got more Cliff bars because I can put them in my son's lunch bag, ca't really do that with candy.

2017 Tips and Tricks:
  1. If you arrive at the opening time you will not be given a treat bag, you pick them up at the 1st candy station you visit.
  2. If you really want to ride the rides, head to 2 or 3 rides first. Most people are getting candy at this time. Then get candy and return to riding the rides.
  3. To get the most candy... get back in line. It's ok to get in the same line again, it's not ok to cut the line. There were enough candy stations this year so the lines weren't very long.
  4. Arrival, most people are leaving at 5pm from their day at LegoLand so parking can be a challenge. If you arrive at 4pm you will avoid more of the traffic jam of people leaving the park. Although I do suggest taking shuttle.
  5. Please know that the shuttle service provided by most hotels have to drop you off at the Welcome sign. You cannot walk straight across any longer because of the new Castle Hotel construction. You have to go down the hill, around it and up the hill again. Being someone that is disabled I had a hard time doing this and hurt my knee returning to the Welcome sign at the end of this visit.
  6. Costumes. If you didn't come for the competition then keep the costume simple. It's already difficult to keep up with a child, candy bag, the excitement, and add an elaborate costume to the mix can be a challenge for the kid, parent, and people around you. I saw people tripping over dinosaur tails and all night.

Sep 21, 2017

Darius Rucker Hosts New Doc Film Series REEL SOUTH Premiering 10/3 on Link TV

Hootie & The Blowfish’s Darius Rucker Hosts
New Documentary Film Series REEL SOUTH
Premiering Oct. 3 on Link TV

Anthology Series About the American South Explores Alluring and Complicated Region with Diverse Voices and Points of View

(Image of Darius Rucker - Courtesy of NETA)

 Link TV, a national independent public satellite television network, announced today a new documentary film series called REEL SOUTH. The series highlights the masterful, provocative Southern tradition of storytelling, exploring the alluring and complicated region and its diverse voices and points of view. REEL SOUTH is hosted by platinum-selling, Grammy®-winning recording artist Darius Rucker (Hootie & The Blowfish) who brings together the authentic stories from one of the most unique corners of America. REEL SOUTH premieres Tues., Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Link TV available nationwide (DirecTV 375 and DISH network 9410).

The episodes of REEL SOUTH in October will telecast as follows (subject to change):

Soul City – Tues., Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Learn the story of a group of civil rights activists who attempted to build a multiracial utopia – “Soul City” - in the heart of North Carolina’s Klan Country in the 1970s. Founder Floyd B. McKissick and his band of idealists who thought the odds were stacked against them risked it all to build the city of their dreams.

Eat White Dirt – Tues., Oct. 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
The film collects and combines the experiences, processes and explanations of people who eat white dirt with information from the scientists who study the phenomenon.

The Exceptionally Extraordinary – Tues., Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
The film highlights the creativity and personal expression linked in the cultural identity and narrative of New Orleans, providing a deeper look into the significance of costuming and the carnival season.

Last Barn Dance – Tues., Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Randy Lewis struggles to save his dairy farm in the piedmont region of North Carolina where dozens of family-owned dairies have disappeared. While keeping the business afloat, Randy also hosts one of the only true old-time barn dances left in the region, keeping the tradition alive and the community that loves it.

Red Wolf Revival – Tues., Oct. 31 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Three decades ago, the nearly-extinct red wolf was reintroduced in North Carolina. While this flagship conservation effort paved the way for reintroducing several other species across the country, today fewer than 100 wild red wolves remain. Learn how their fate hinges on significant biological, political, cultural and economic challenges.

Join the conversation on social media using #ReelSouth

Founded in 1999, Link TV is an independent viewer-supported media organization dedicated to providing programs that engage and educate its audiences with unique perspectives and activate them to become involved in the world.  Reaching more than 34 million U.S. satellite households nationally, Link TV (DirecTV channel 375 and DISH Network channel 9410) connects American viewers with people at the heart of breaking events, organizations at the forefront of social change and the vibrant cultures of an increasingly global community. Link TV is a service of KCETLink Media Group. For additional information about Link TV productions, web-exclusive content and program schedules, please visit linktv.org. Select programming from Link TV is also available for streaming on Apple TV and Roku platforms.

Kids to Form First Kid-Run Government in Carlsbad, Kidifornia


"Capital of Carlsbad, Kidifornia" was designed by Visit Carlsbad, the city’s tourism authority, to jump start the conversation on why kids (and their parents) love Carlsbad. Through a series of online promotions, social media activations and special events, Carlsbad will be the first city to officially form a government in Visit California’s Kidifornia including a Mini-Mayor, City Architect, Head of R&D and City Planner. In Carlsbad, kids take charge of their vacations…and the government!

“Capital of Carlsbad, Kidifornia” launches today with a series of activities in participating locations throughout Carlsbad, as well as on social media:

·         CARLSBAD, KIDIFORNIA CABINET: With the approval of their parents, kids are encouraged to form part of the city’s new administration and win fantastic prizes including a stay at West Inn & Suites, trips to LEGOLAND, dinners at Bistro West and Grubby’s, aquatic adventures at Carlsbad Lagoon, and more:
o   Mayor: To run for Mayor, kids will be asked to upload a 1-minute video on social media highlighting why they love the city; one winner will be chosen by Visit Carlsbad to be the Mayor of Carlsbad, Kidifornia from videos submitted under the #MiniMayorCarlsbad hashtag
o   Head of R&D: Kids will be invited to participate in the “Kids’ Check Out Survey” and share what they love most about the city; one winner will be selected at random to become the Head of Research & Development
o   City Planner: Kids can participate in a social media scavenger hunt and visit Carlsbad kid-friendly locations; one winner will be selected at random to become the City Planner from posts under the #HuntCarlsbad hashtag
o   Architect: Kids can attend the final event to be held at a Carlsbad beach and create their own “sand capitol”; the maker of the winning design will be awarded the title of City Architect
·         PACKAGES & OFFERS: Travelers are invited to enjoy special Kidifornia promotions available from participating hotels and resorts including West Inn & Suites (recently designated Best Family Hotel in California by Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor’s family travel site), Sheraton Carlsbad, Omni La Costa, and Cape Rey Carlsbad, a Hilton Resort, as well as electric bike company Pedego
·         CARLSBAD KID-FRIENDLY ROUTE: Travelers are invited to explore the many kid-friendly activities in the destination including seven miles of pristine beaches, theme parks like LEGOLAND® California Resort and SEA LIFE® aquarium, as well as the Leo Carrillo Ranch & Historic Park, Carlsbad Watersports, So Cal Surf Lessons, the Carlsbad Golf Center, the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, the Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad Skate Park, and more

The campaign will conclude on October 21, 2017 with the celebration of a “sand capitol” building contest at a Carlsbad beach where the names of the official kid-cabinet of Carlsbad, Kidifornia will be revealed.

Sep 13, 2017

Costero California Bar + Bistro at Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel Debuts All-New Bistro

Costero California Bar + Bistro at Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel Debuts All-New Bistro and Bar Menu Featuring Globally-Inspired Small Plates
New Executive Chef Collin Smelser reinvents bistro and bar menu.
 Costero California Bar + Bistro, located inside the recently remodeled Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, has debuted an all-new bar and bistro menu featuring classic dishes with an innovative twist. Under the direction of Costero’s new Executive Chef, Collin Smelser, both the bistro and bar menus have been reinvented with new, globally inspired dishes that use locally grown and sourced products.
“We are trying to transform people’s perception of hotel restaurants,” said Chef Smelser. “When people come to dine at Costero or to grab a bite at the bar, we want them to have an elevated experience with gourmet dishes that they wouldn’t expect at a hotel. Instead of overwhelming diners with a huge menu selection, we have taken a different approach by carefully curating an exclusive menu with options that will entice one’s taste buds.”
The bistro menu will include sharable small plates and entrée sized portions, and feature dishes such as Pork Belly and Brussel Sprouts, Mediterranean Blue Mussels, California Bass, Charred Spanish Octopus, and Brandt Farms NY Strip.
For those who prefer a casual setting and are looking for a lite bite, the bar area will feature tapas-style dishes including Fried Dill Pickles, Mary’s Chicken Wings with a choice of Sweet Chili or Ginger Soy and served with Avocado Ranch, Barbacoa Tacos or Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos, and Charred Shishito Peppers.
Costero California Bistro is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Costero California Bar is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. For a full menu or to make a reservation, visit www.sheratonlax.com or call 888-627-7104.

Follow Costero California Bar + Bistro on Facebook.
#SheratonLAX #Costero
About Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel:Operated by the Pyramid Hotel Group, the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel is conveniently located adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport. It’s situated in close proximity to several favorite Los Angeles attractions, including numerous beaches, shopping centers, and entertainment venues.  A modern 803-room luxury hotel, the property showcases 50,000 square-feet of flexible meeting and event space, an award-winning culinary team with two full-service restaurants and bars, heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, 24-hour fitness center, full-service business center, and a Sheraton Club with panoramic views of LAX (accessible to SPG members). For more information on Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel visit sheratonlax.com, follow @sheratonlax on Twitter, and Like Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel on Facebook.

Sep 7, 2017

Grab and Go Whole Food Soup!

Discover Soupure
Whole Food Nutrition on The Go for Busy Lifestyles

Are you always stuck in the office during lunch hour? Looking for ways to eat healthier while on-the-go?

Raise a toast to your health with Soupure -- an innovative brand of flavorful and nutrient packed soups you can enjoy from the office to the carpool lane. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Maria Shriver, Victoria Secret Model Alessandra Ambrosio and more are fans of the brand that makes eating smart easier than ever.

Developed by nutritionists and handcrafted by artisans, these whole food soups are nutrition powerhouses packed full of vitamins, micronutrients and fiber. Fueled by natural superfoods and whole food ingredients, Soupure’s nutrient and fiber rich plant based soups naturally provide an efficient food source which your body can quickly assimilate. The plant fiber and volume mean eating less to get more.  As a bonus, studies show on average, consumers who ate a low calorie soup, like Soupure’s, with their meal ended up eating 20% less calories overall.

Why Soupure?

  • Uses over 100 Whole Food Ingredients
  • Fiber-rich to fill you up while consuming 20% less
  • Made with Organic ingredients
  • Dairy-Free
  • Preservative-Free
  • Non-GMO
  • Responsibly Sourced

Get ready for Soup season and dive into the flavors with their seasonal Pumpkin Miso and comforting Japanese Sweet Potato, or take a walk on the wild side with their veggie packed Kale Minestrone and invigorating Spicy Asparagus soups. With  a range of varieties to choose from, Soupure also has raw, cold soup "Southies," Bone Broths and more available on www.soupure.com.

Ideal for weight loss without the hunger, they also offer solution based programs like 1, 3, and 5 day soup cleanses so you can detox without sacrificing taste or letting your blood sugar spike.

Soupure can be purchased online at www.soupure.com, as well as through select natural foods retailers and their retail store in Los Angeles.

Soupure is an up-and-coming whole food  brand of grab and go products that truly believes food is medicine. With this core philosophy guiding every aspect of the brand, their products are designed around a better and easier way to get the most from natural foods and to eat clean.  All in a grab and go bottle packed with colorful superfoods that include everything you need to feel and look great. Their artisanal offerings are created by nutrition experts and culinary artists to showcase the robust flavors of locally grown produce and organic ingredients with flavors that dance on your palate.  The seed of Soupure was born to be bottled.

Aug 9, 2017


Photo captionArmy National Guard Sergeant William Drake and family enjoying their recent trip to Walt Disneyland.
For more photos: http://bit.ly/2veJv8z

 Hyrum-based Army National Guard Sergeant William Drake recently received A Warrior’s Wish® of a dream Disneyland family vacation from Hope For The Warriors®.

Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope to service members and their families. Its first established program, A Warrior’s Wish, honors the goals and desires of severely wounded service members, veterans, and their families.

Looking to reconnect and recharge with his family, the stay-at-home, veteran dad requested a Disneyland vacation where he spent one of his most memorable childhood experiences.

“I am beyond thankful for this wonderful opportunity presented to me from Hope For The Warriors that it’s hard to put into words,” said Drake. “When I was told that my wish was coming true I couldn’t believe it. But seeing my kids’ eyes light up when we told them where we were going at the airport, was worth it alone. Each day brought new and exciting memories, from dinner with Mickey to exciting roller coasters, my kids were in heaven.”

Drake served four years in the Army followed by an additional 18 months in the Army National Guard serving two, one-year, deployments in Iraq. In 2005, four months into his second deployment, Drake and his unit were conducting missions in Karbala when an IED hit the Humvee behind the tank he was in resulting in self-blame for the accident.

Shortly after, his regiment’s continued IED patrols and direct combat firefights were resulting in more causalities amongst his fellow soldiers adding to his feelings of self-blame and guilt.

Upon returning from deployment, Drake began to experience flashbacks, zoning out, disturbed and interrupted sleep, and frustration with loud noises. He began treatment services in June 2013 and continues to regularly attend sessions to improve his PTSD and depression.

“When serving in the military, extended family vacations aren’t the norm due to time restraints, deployments and finances,” said Robin Kelleher, president and CEO of Hope For The Warriors. “We’re honored to have provided Sgt. Drake the opportunity to relax, recharge and create new memories with his family.”

In 2017, 12 wishes will be granted through Hope For The Warriors. The wishes fulfill a desire for a better quality of life or support a quest for gratifying endeavors for those who have sustained severe physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

Since the program’s inception, A Warrior’s Wish has granted 167 wishes.

For sponsorship and volunteer opportunities for the A Warrior’s Wish program, contact Chrystal Keilers at ckeilers@hopeforthewarriors.org or (832) 776-9379.

To apply for a wish, visit hopeforthewarriors.org/story/19331538/a-warriors-wish and register online.
For more information on Hope For The Warriors and A Warrior’s Wish, visit hopeforthewarriors.orgFacebook or Twitter.

2017 Mickey’s Halloween Party Ticket Info

Mickey’s Halloween Party ticket is now on sale!!! I am trying to get tickets now since I am a Disney Visa Card Holder.  Cardmembe...