Monday, September 29, 2008

Great Deal at THE Hotel Las Vegas

Next week (after putting on the San Diego Family Fair), we head off to Hilton Head, SC. And since my mom is helping me with the kids almost every day this week, Steve and I decided to send my parents on a little get-away of their own... the swanky "THE Hotel," part of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas!

Check out the amazing deals we found on Travelzoo: THE Hotel for $110/night (usually $300/night for a suite) with free transport to the airport, free upgrade to a 600 or 750 sq ft suite, 2 for 1 spa access, 10% off meals and 2 for 1 breakfast at the House of Blues. I think you have to book the hotel by Sept 30th to get the suite upgrade. Airfare was $230 roundtrip on Southwest, about what you'd pay for gas each way there!

THE TIP: Always check these two websites when making travel plans: for the best deals and for candid reviews and photos from other travelers.

About Marriage and Bark Bowls

Yesterday was lovely; I attended a bridal shower in Coronado and got to see dear friends and so much love among Beth, her sister and some pretty amazing women in their lives... and we were even blessed with the most beautiful weather -- blue skies as the "something blue" to be :)

Congratulations Amy, for picking such a terrific guy (some of you got to see Marcel during his San Diego performance with Tales of Banyan). And congratulations to Marcel for not only getting a great gal to marry but one with such good taste -- I could not get over the unique items on her gift registry!

One gift that we all just had to pass around was the Crate and Barrel Bark Bowl - an eco-friendly bowl made from a solid piece of mango wood, it still had the most amazing woodsy, smoky smell and was a piece of art.

So the "Bark Bowl" is now on my holiday wish list, along with the corresponding "Twig Servers," which are such a quaint little pair that I'm reminded of this young couple and the marriage advice I offered them on a card at the shower...

THE TIP: What I wrote to Amy, "You have already done the most important thing, which is to pick the right guy! Now just be sure and treat him like your boyfriend from the very day he becomes your husband." XOXO

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Launching a Business...

I taught a class this morning that actually combined two classes I have given before ("Building a Business for Long-Term Success" and "How to Get the Word Out").

The people in the class were pretty amazing -- an author and career coach, an entreprenur developing a great must-have bag, an artist, a financial planner... it was amazing that although we came from so many different backgrounds and have such different businesses we were all on the same page when it came to the excitement, challenges, obstacles and definition of success.

We had lengthy discussions about how to measure success and I loved the quote one woman shared from a mentor: "Find success at the speed of balance."

As I shared marketing outreach strategies and tactics learned from working at places like CNN and one of the oldest PR firms in town, it was extremely gratifying to see the confidence building for each person to call up an editor or reporter and share their press release and unique offering. We all promised to stay in touch and track the progress of each business, which I know will each be successful.

THE TIP: You cannot be successful if you run your business behind a computer. It is one thing for people to receive your emails, but a tremendous benefit for your contacts and for you to engage in community and networking activities as you get out there and have fun "working" :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Self Defense

I wish that was me, though that's how strong I felt during the self defense class I took Saturday at West Coast Martial Arts Academy (thanks to my Stroller Strides instructor Wynne for setting up the class for our group!)

The instructors Steve and Eric were outstanding, covering a difficult topic with seriousness and some humor. They explained how to avoid getting a dangerous situation and then had us practice various self-defense mechanisms.

It was great to take the class with other moms, and I feel much better know being armed with the knowledge and some moves that could help me in an unthinkable situation. I'm thinking of adding this class to the catalog, it really is a must-do for all women.

THE TIP: One of the most effective techniques I learned was how to use balance in order to get away or strike once with effect.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Free Disney Ticket on Your Birthday!

Thank you Sandra for this awesome TIP: Click the link below for a free ticket to Disneyland on your birthday!

I just signed up Steve and I, and even the grandparents so they can take the kids for a great day "on the mouse" - cool :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Fashionable Fall

We had a great class Thursday night: "A Fashionable Fall" taught by Michelle Fuller-Wigg at the W Hotel. Michelle recently moved to San Diego from New York, where she worked for Self Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and designer James Coviello.

Presented through a series of photos fresh from Fall 2008 runways, she led a class covering all aspects of fashion (from designer's inspiration to what can work in your closet today). And she also shared insight from her days on fashion shoots with people like Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet.

The W's Agave Lounge (formerly Magnet) was a perfect spot, allowing us to enjoy appetizers and drinks as we also enjoyed the class -- thank you Brent, our dedicated and very stylish server!

Also thank you to Sephora, who set us up with goodie bags that included their must-have lip glaze and bare minerals i.d. product. The take-home bags also included 20% off VIP cards from Cache, a VIP book from Carlsbad Outlet Malls, drink and app gift cards from Red Circle and other hip and high fashion treats...

We raffled off the best gift of all -- a two hour in-home consultation from Michelle, who is a stylist, personal shopper and closet consultant. The winner also gets free admission to the next "Shopping With a Stylist" class at Fashion Valley.

Click here to see more photos from the class. and stay tuned for the next one at the W: "A Fashionable Winter."

THE TIP: Michelle says "Accessories follow the rule of three -- don't go overboard."

And, "The most important thing in fashion is ALWAYS fit! Get to to know a tailor."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Favorite New Restaurant

I just returned from Minneapolis and found my new favorite restaurant... 112 Eatery, loved it, loved it, loved it.

Maybe it was that this came as such an unexpected surprise (we were at a conference and restaurants near convention centers are hardly ever breathtaking). Or maybe it was the good company - hadn't seen my boss from GovPartner in about a year and was meeting our client from Abu Dhabi for the first time. Definitely it was the fantastic Russian River Valley bottle of wine that we polished off!

The food was just outstanding -- click here to read a review and visit their website for more info ( I ordered the marinated tenderloin for dinner, but just LOVED the lamb scottadito with goats milk yogurt (pictured above) that we had as an app.

Tell me if there is a restaurant like this in San Diego... or share your favorite hidden gems that make your mouth water!

THE TIP: Most people expect veggies to be kind of boring, but I have been finding some amazing vegetable dishes lately -- like the cauliflower fritters at 112 Eatery. Veggies absorb and then release so much flavor, have such unique textures and are good for you, so skip the potato skins or calamari and order a veggie appetizer next time you eat out!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The things you can accomplish...

Saturday morning was awesome... we attended the second annual "Walk Their Walk" event at Lake Muray in La Mesa, a walkathon where 100% of the proceeds go to build water wells and a school in a village in Zambia.

Two years ago the need in Zambia was as dire as ever, yet this effort that began construction for the desperately-needed water and education after last year's walk simply did not exist... until our friend from high school, Kathryn in the photo above, decided she would do something about the life-changing experience she had visiting the African village.

Kathryn, a local mom, created Walk Their Walk working with friends Tara and Jody, and they have raised over $44,000 for the African village! The event was great, with over 250 walkers and a busload of students from one local high school (thank you Sonja from our MeetUp group for arranging that). The educational exhibits, music and just plain old old sense of community is something we will not forget. Our one-year old loved the African displays (below), we can't wait until next year!

THE TIP: You can do anything, and we must teach our children to try to do everything to help those in need. Lead by example and let people like Kathryn be an example to us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's hanging around your neck?

This morning I was at photographer Zoe's studio in Encinitas getting some headshots taken (with a 3 and 1 year old in tow.. whew!) and I got to see some of her beautiful custom jewelry firsthand.

Admittedly I'm not really into "bling" (I wear the same gear every day - watch, plain wedding ring, diamond earrings and pendant to match, Tous boy charms around my neck with my "diamond" Steve in the middle to keep me sane!)

But I love the idea of making even the most basic accessory have meaning. It could be my excuse for not having much variety, my special pieces are all I need and I'm able to coordinate with whatever basic outfit I pull together! Yes, I'm the first in line for the upcoming class with a stylist, I know I need it!

Check out Three Sisters Jewelry and somebody please tell me what song that is playing on her site -- love it! I'll try to remember to ask Zoe and post here whenever I find out...

THE TIP: Create your own heirloom piece; who ever knew that just selecting initials or typeset would make you feel so creative or beautiful when wearing your timeless piece?! What kind of custom jewelry have you all created?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Birthday Celebration!

Isn't it funny how as we grow older we can have just about anything we want, except for the things we REALLY want? Everyone kept asking what I wanted for my b-day and didn't understand when I would say there is really nothing material that I want or need, but I am dying for just 8 solid hours of sleeeeep!

My amazing husband Steve got me exactly what I have been wanting for so long now. He went to work late on my birthday and let me sleep in until 8 am, WOW! And I did also get my favorite perfume ;)

The photo is of dinner with my family last night at a terrific new restaurant in the Otay Ranch Center called "Frida." It is a branch of the Beverly Hills location and was perfect for this celebration. The wine was excellent, the food just savory (best salsas I have had since being in Guadalajara) and the decor is so cool.

Thank goodness the boys were on their best behavior for the 2 1/2 hour meal. Now there's something I always want but seem to only get on special occasions!

THE TIP: Schedule nothing for your birthday every now and then so that you can bask in the greatest gift of all - down time with the family and catching up on much needed rest!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Our first and most important class: A New CPR Method Everyone Should be Aware of...

People often ask what the very first class was that we offered on our online catalog. And the response surprises them, since our "CPR / Infant CPR / First Aid" class may seem a little bland compared to other activities.

The amazing instructor, Brenda, whom we selected after interviewing about a dozen, was already teaching a brand new "hands-Only CPR" method last Fall before it became official in May. As she explained, the research data has been astounding, showing that hands-only CPR is effective in accomplishing the #1 goal of performing CPR: To keep oxygen flowing into the brain until paramedics arrive.

Click here for info about our next CPR class, October 4th in Little Italy, and to see photos of that very first, and very important, class in our living room where we, and 8 other new friends were CPR certified. We look forward to seeing you there!

THE TIP: Everyone should be aware of the new guidelines for "Hands-Only CPR." Please click here for an MSNBC article on the new method and share the info with everyone you know.

Our newest class on Channel 10

Check out Stacey of San Diego Bargain Mama; or maybe you saw her live on Channel 10 Tuesday sharing her expertise on helping families save money.

Her segment featured our newest class "Taking the Grocery Store by Storm" that pays for itself giving $25 in coupons and 3 months subscription to Thrifty Kitchen. This is a great new service that couples items on sale at the grocery store with coupons PLUS RECIPES so that you know what to do with that chuck roast and fancy spice that is on sale that week.

Lisa Leete, founder of Thrifty Kitchen, is a terrific lady and is really on to something with her new service. We are so lucky to have her here in San Diego to share directly with us the secrets to thrifty, healthy cooking and ot then walk us step-by-step at the grocery store.

We'll post the clip on the "News" section of our website (check out the text posting of the Ch 10 news segment). We'll also be sure to include a posting with photos when the class takes place!

THE TIP: You get the greatest grocery store savings when you buy an item already on sale, use a coupon for the item and buy at a store that doubles your coupon. The $5 off $20 purchase at Henry's and Fresh & Easy are also great savers. We'll have these coupons for people in class!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Great class with Chef Marcela

Yummy Friday Night!

We had another great class with Chef Marcela Valladolid Friday night.

As one student said: "Trying new wine, making new friends and cooking up unique dishes with an expert instructor - what more could I ask for? The Chef Marcela class was amazing!"

In between chopping up gooseberries and stuffing ravioli, we learned what "quick par boil" means and got a little bit of dish on Marcela's experience on the Apprentice and Martha Stewart Show.

THANK YOU Mickey and Jeff for hosting in your fabulous kitchen! Stay tuned for our next class, click the link below to see more photos:

THE TIP: Chef Marcela says, "Serve appetizers that do not require silverware (bite-sized pieces) so guests can have an app in one hand and glass of wine in the other. " We say a toast to that!