Star Wars: Forces of Destiny

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny

©Disney/Lucasfilm

©Disney/Lucasfilm

Star Wars fans rejoice because Disney and Lucasfilm have announced a new animated shorts series that celebrates the stories of iconic heroes throughout the Star Wars universe. Fans will be delighted to see key heroines of the films: Rey, Jyn Erso, Sabine Wren, Princess Leia, Ahsoka Tano. There are books, toys and even a TV special that will be following later this year!

Star Wars Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia’s heroism, Rey’s courage, or Ahsoka’s tenacity,” – Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm

About the Series

Narrated by Lupita Wyong’o (Maz Kanata), the Disney YouTube channel will launch the animated shorts in July 2017. 

What’s extra exciting, is that the series will remain true to the Star Wars canon, so fans will have an opportunity to see, as Kathleen Kennedy stated, “small moments and everyday decisions that shape who these characters are.” It’s important for us to remember that even small decisions impact our destinies, and our kids need to understand that, too! We can’t wait to watch them together.

©Disney/Lucasfilm

©Disney/Lucasfilm

©Disney/Lucasfilm

©Disney/Lucasfilm

Adventure Figures

Joining Disney and Lucasfilm on this venture is Hasbro, showcasing newly created ‘Adventure Figures’ (think dolls + action figures). If you watched the Star Wars Celebration live stream | Day 2, they revealed the 11″ figures to Daisy Ridley (Rey), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) and Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren)!

©Disney/Lucasfilm/Hasbro

©Disney/Lucasfilm/Hasbro

It is so important that our kids can run down toy aisles with strong female character representation, and more options that don’t involve a beach outfit, stilettos, or shopping bag. I was not a fan of dolls growing up and I loathed dress-up dolls. In addition to the fabulous heroines we will see other favorite heroes, sidekicks and villains in the consumer products line. 

The figures will hit the shelves in August 2017, along with a global launch of bedding, toys, books, and apparel. OH, Did I also mention that Hasbro will roll out Star Wars Forces of Destiny role play and accessories? You’ll find Rey’s Extendable Staff and a new electronic Jedi Power Lightsaber toy. I’m most excited about that staff, and I’m sure my kiddos will be thrilled!

Will you be watching Star Wars: Force of Destiny this summer?

Spring Break at Dillon Beach, CA

Spring Break at Dillon Beach, CA

Spring break has come and gone.

We spent our family vacation in Dillon Beach on Bodega Bay, CA with my husband’s family. Every year, they rent a home that sits midway up the mountain of Oceana Drive. IT IS GORGEOUS.

This quaint little beach town is about 30 minutes west of Petaluma, CA but approximately two hours from us (Lodi). As a SoCal girl, the first thing I will tell you is that this is a cold beach. I usually pitch a fuss about having to wear a jacket on the shore. I know, such a baby. However, our kids love it though and somehow manage to still dip their toes (or depending on which kid) or whole body into the freezing water.

Some of the fun things they enjoy include digging holes, hiking up the mountain, and rolling down the massive sand dune.

If you plan a trip to Dillon Beach you should know a few things:

It was amazing time spent just revelling in the beauty of the coast and closeness of our loved ones. We are forever grateful for the memories we get to make with our babies, and that they get to grow up appreciating these moments of family, creation and fun.

Pictures say a thousand words, so I will leave you with Jeff’s amazing visuals.

Other sights & experiences in the area:

What are some of your favorite spring break excursions?

Five Reasons to Attend Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

Five Reasons to Attend Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

 

Disney + Food and Wine?

Sign. Me. Up.

Fantasia © Disney; Image via GIPHY

It doesn’t take much to get me excited about visiting Disneyland Resort (DLR), but the notion of amazing eats and adult drinks has me absolutely elated. I didn’t have the chance to visit DLR for last year’s event, and sadly this year I will not be eating and drinking my way around Disneyland California Adventure Park (DCA), but my bestie, Sarah will be so stay tuned because she will be reporting on her fun soon!

Are you a food and/or wine enthusiast with a love for magic? You will want to mark your calendar for this year’s Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, now through April 16, 2017. There are just two weeks left of this event, so make it a date night (or day) and head to DCA! There are so many activities for all ages, so feel free to bring the kiddos!

Bonus, if you’re an Annual Passport holder, make sure to check out AP Corner for limited edition experiences and treats.

Images © Disneyland Resort Images © Disneyland Resort

5 Reasons you need to visit Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

1| Food & Wine

Need I say more? There are so many ways to enjoy the cuisine and beverages available during the Food & Wine Festival. For those of us that have food allergies or restrictions, they also offer gluten-free and vegetarian at many locations! I heard there is a Mimosa Flight and I am all about that life. Peruse the park, eat, drink and be merry. Very merry. 🙂

2| Festival Marketplaces

There are over a dozen marketplaces open daily that will offer complementing cuisine to the Festival-inspired menus throughout the theme park’s restaurants and eateries. We have picky eaters & food allergies in our house, so knowing the amount of options available to all of my kids (and me) is important.

Image © Disney Image © Disney

3| “In the Kitchen” with Celebrity Chefs (Saturdays)

So many amazing celebrity chefs have been scheduled to appear since opening on March 10th!

Here’s the lineup for the last two weekends. Visit Disneyland.com/foodandwine to purchase your tickets!

Saturday, April 8 – 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Cat Cora
Cat Cora’s Kitchen

Saturday, April 15 – 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Jet Tila
Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen

Event Location and Price
Festival Showplace, Stage 17 in Hollywood Land
$99.00 per person, plus tax and gratuities for servers

Image © Disney Image © Disney

4| The Signature Events

You know Disney does it big, so they have an amazing schedule of activities and opportunities for pretty much everyone in your group.

Sweet Sundays sound like an amazing way to spend a lazy Sunday – learning how to make sweet treats, and then eating them! This is a 90-minute culinary demonstration that includes a light breakfast and sparkling toast!

Winemaster & Brewmaster Dinners (Thursdays) offer a four-course meal, paired with either wine or beer. Courses are created by the Disney Executive Chef Team and you’ll have an opportunity to hear from the winemakers and brewmasters about the pairings!

*Signature Events require separate ticketed admission to enter Disney California Adventure Park. 

Image © Disney Image © Disney

5| Junior Chef experience

Who wouldn’t want to cook with Chef Goofy?! I seriously wish this was around when I was young! Kids ages 3 to 11 are invited to get their cooking groove on with Chef Goofy and the Jammin’ Chefs, and you can’t forget sous chefs, Chip ‘n Dale. Get hands on cooking experience and go home with a yummy treat! This musical program will happen daily in Paradise Park, near Golden Zephyr. Space is limited and is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Don’t miss out on a chance to hang with some of Disney’s celebrities!

Alright, magic makers, if you’ve got the time and the budget agrees, clear your calendar for a day to enjoy the Disney Food & Wine Festival, it would be a wonderful time spent, especially if your family is getting ready to relax for spring break! Feeling extra spontaneous?

Make it a weekend and book a trip with my travel partner – Get Away Today (affiliate link). Use my code “SPARKS” to get $10 off a 2 night package.

Happy spring!

So, what do you say? Will you be making your way to experience Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival?

Spread Magic

 

Girls’ Guide to a Hands-On San Francisco Adventure

Girls’ Guide to a Hands-On San Francisco Adventure

I was hosted by Dagne Dover for an exclusive event.

There was no compensation, just great community, good drinks, crafts, and a lot of fun! All opinions are mine.

Unsplash Unsplash

Ever in need of a quick pick me up that portals you to a new space and environment to enjoy something different? Do you have a love affair with crafting with your hands? I love taking trips. They can be anytime of day, for an hour, 24 hours or a week. I also love crafting and making things.

I am pretty sure that getting out of your everyday environment refreshes your spirit and soothes your soul. So, what better way to do that, than with one of your favorite people? I recently had the pleasure of making a fun girls’ Sunday adventure with my little sister. Not only was it a lot of fun, it was budget friendly!

WikimediaImages WikimediaImages

1. Take Public Transportation and/or a private driving service (uber or lyft)

As much as I love driving (it brings clarity), the event we were attending at The WorkshopSF, courtesy of Dagne Dover, was in the evening and I am not fancy with night driving. That being said, I did some research on taking the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) realized it would save me a ton of stress and a couple hours of night driving, plus it was cheaper than parking once in the City. Since we are in the Greater Stockton Area, we parked at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station, which is about an hour or so from us. You can find the closest station to you on their website, which is a lifesaver once you are in the City!

We arrived in Dublin pleasantly surprised that we did not have to pay for parking on a Sunday. So, it only cost us $12.30 each (round trip) to Union Square, San Francisco. Irrespective of random fear, and the nightmares that I have previously had about people falling on the BART tracks, I put on my big girl pants and hopped (literally, I was not trying to fall through the crack) onto the car. My sister was definitely amused, but she loves me.

For those of you that might be hesitant about public transportation, I have to say that BART is pretty swell. My next adventure will be to take our entire clan on a family trip to SF via the BART system. Woohoo! Mentally preparing for that one.

Once we were in the City, thanks to BART, we had Lyft pick us up to drop us off to our destination. When we left for the evening, we called for an Uber car to return us to Union Square.

2. Find food. because, food.

Just as our pink mustache car dropped us off at the location, we realized we were a tad early and this super cute Mexican restaurant across the street pretty much called our names. At that moment we also realized we were really hungry. The question was, “should we have margaritas before the event?”

Hello, Green Chile Kitchen

As you can see, the food looks gorgeous. It tasted even better. Joy had a burrito – potentially the Chile Verde (I was too busy thinking about my meal I forgot what she ate, but it was around $11) and I had a Pulled Pork Quinoa dinner bowl ($16). If you are gluten free, this is an amazing little spot. The ambience was quaint, refreshing and super chill. They were very accommodating with knowing my allergy and I slept well and most importantly – pain free, score! This restaurant is definitely family-friendly and I can see the kids enjoying the space and drinking water out of mason jars like little adults.

Exploring the City is half of the fun, so make sure you research restaurants prior to your trip, or do as we did and be surprised.

3. Find an Event at workshopsf.

For us, we had an event planned in advance, but for you – if you’re crafty, or secretly want to be, check out WorkshopSF because they have a TON of awesome DIY workshops. Past workshops include sewing bootcamps, screen printing, iPhone and photography, metal smithing and jewelry making!

Seriously, the coolest work space that I have seen. Seriously, the coolest work space that I have seen.

Our fun for the evening consisted of fashion, terrarium making and cocktails. We learned from Jenny Lennick about terrarium making basics. She did a wonderful job keeping us busy and confident in our terrarium making skills. It was really easy and fun. I chose to create a tiny-sized terrarium with three little succulents and moss. Oh, and hello R2 🙂

The Force is strong with this little one. The Force is strong with this little one. Joy makes a mean Gold Rush! Joy makes a mean Gold Rush!

I love a good cocktail. We made the Gold Rush, which is extremely simple and contains only three ingredients: honey simple syrup, bourbon and lemon juice. SO GOOD. I passed on the Moscow Mule, because, beer (wheat), but I was happy with the Gold Rush.

4. Last but not least, travel in style.

The entire reason we attended this event was to check out the awesome Dagne Dover handbag collection. I haven’t had the pleasure of having my own Dagne yet, but I definitely have been drooling over them for a while now. Based out of NYC, the company was founded by Melissa Mash, Jessy Dover, and Deepa Gandhi. It was really cool to see Melissa at the event, she’s so down to earth and I enjoyed chatting about how the bags are game changers.

I shared with her that I am all too familiar with the “two bag schlep” that inspired the Signature tote, as a graduate student and working professional. I carried books, food, and other things along with me in one bag in addition to a fully stocked purse (hey, mama of five. You can never be too prepared. Although I recently found my kids’ socks in my bag at work (mind you, I no longer have toddlers or “little kids” so please tell me what this is about).

The lovely Melissa Mash, CEO of Dagne Dover The lovely Melissa Mash, CEO of Dagne Dover

If you know me, you know that I love a good handbag, clutch, wallet, or anything that helps me to organize my massively chaotic life and responsibilities and feel like I look adorable doing it.

Dagne has recently released its 365 collection, which is “designed for a life in motion” – guys they also have a sweet backpack called Dakota. It would be perfect for a day trip to San Francisco, perhaps to a visit at The Walt Disney Family Museum, just saying. The Landon Carryall is also perfect for a field trip with the kiddos, and yoga or gym session.

Image via Dagne Dover - The Dakota Backpack comes in 3 colors Image via Dagne Dover – The Dakota Backpack comes in 3 colors Image via Dagne Dover - The Landon Carryall - comes in 3 sizes and four main colors (availability varies)  Image via Dagne Dover – The Landon Carryall – comes in 3 sizes and four main colors (availability varies) Image via Dagne Dover - The Essentials Clutch Wallet comes in 10 colors! Image via Dagne Dover – The Essentials Clutch Wallet comes in 10 colors!

I also love the Essentials Clutch Wallet, it would be the perfect go-to for a quick run to the store, or to keep as an everyday wallet when I need to hop out the car and leave my tote in the trunk. The Signature collection is made from coated canvas so it will hold up to spills and frills.

For a client meeting or a coffee-house work session that would involve some homework or blogging, they have beautiful options with a new set of leather styles. I am crushing on this Simone Satchel. The leather is gorgeous and the hand is amazing. The quality of the bags, the philosophy of the company and the options in colors and styles is pretty awesome.

Thank you Dagne Dover for such a wonderful event!


No matter how you decide to spend the day in the City, make sure you’ve figured out your transportation (or suck it up and just drive), keep your hangry in check by exploring local restaurants, plan a fun activity or attend an event, and make sure you’re keeping your day stress free by having a handbag or clutch that looks great and keeps you organized on-the-go.

 

Spread Magic

Magic Makers: A Coffee Chat with Auli’i Cravalho #MoanaBluRay

Magic Makers: A Coffee Chat with Auli’i Cravalho #MoanaBluRay

I’ve been toying with the idea of interviews for the blog, focusing on people that are movers and shakers – ultimately, they are Magic Makers in my book, inspiring to many. I see it fitting to begin my first article with a well-known name and face, a young lady is who is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside: Auli’i Cravalho.

I was invited to participate in the Moana PR Tour for the Blu-Ray & DVD release, and would be interviewing Auli’i Cravalho, the voice actress for the character “Moana.” I had never attended a press junket before, and I went in with way too many assumptions. Long story short, I was prepared to maybe ask one question because I honestly assumed there would be a lot of journalists asking much more intriguing questions, and I probably wouldn’t get a word in otherwise.

I arrived at the gorgeous Fairmont San Francisco a couple of hours early so I could scope out where I’d be going before Jeff & MeiLani left me (I tend to get lost). They ended up coming with me upstairs since it was only going to be 30 minutes of interview time so they were right outside the room.

I met two other freelancers, and we found out that this truly was a big press day & event, but it was not a big press room or a bunch of crazy journalists, like you’d see on Scandal in the White House Press Room. We were going to have some quality time with Auli’i, just the four of us.

H E L L O.

My excitement levels jumped a few notches because I really had no idea it would be such a close encounter. My inner child was freaking out, and then I literally thought “shit, I should have brought more questions.” However, what happened next was an insightful, candid, and sweet conversation that I will never forget…

Thoughts from Auli’i

I will start first on how this sixteen year old has an amazing heart, is down to earth, wise, curious, humble and has a bubbly spirit. I knew the minute she walked in, that we’d have a fun time. She is truly an old, sweet soul sprinkled with the heart of a child, and it was an honor to spend some time with her talking about life, the movie, and her future.

Fun Facts:

  • Auli’i has music flowing in her blood, through her rich Puerto Rican, Portuguese & Hawaiian heritage.
  • She’s pretty sure her strong vocals come from screaming as a child
  • She never had music or voice lessons until she became Moana
  • She has no intentions of watching her performance on the Oscars
  • She loves history, science & butterflies 🙂
  • She is a Junior in high school & would love to visit colleges in SF

On Moana

When asked what she appreciates the most about the character, Moana, or what resonates most with her, she mentioned the strength of Moana and being the heroine of her own story. Since Moana has no love interest in the film, it truly is about finding out who she is on her own, above anything else. I appreciate the direction that Disney took with this film, to encourage and empower our youth (kids and adults, too) to look inward first.

As for similarities, Auli’i shared that she had a lot in common with Moana, growing up on the island of Hawai’i, with pigs and chickens – you know, like Pua and Hei Hei! She also paddled as part of her all-Hawaiian school’s canoe club, and has a loving family.

Auli’i appreciates the journey that Moana takes to figure out who she is. Moana’s strength and resilience, and curiosity to find out who she is will always be inspiring.

On Empowering Others

The next burning question began, “Did you ever in a million years think …” to which Auli’i quickly interjected “Noooo…” and caused us all to roar with laughter. Her demeanor in that moment reminded us that she has not lost that sixteen year old spark!

Auli’i was only fourteen (14), when she landed the role of Moana. When asked if she ready for that? In a sense of – being ready to be a role model to people everywhere, of all ages? She said to a certain degree, yes. She knew the importance of the film, because of how important Moana was to her. However, she had no idea just how much this would empower people of all ages. She had us chuckling though, as she expressed her disdain for dishes and chores, which isn’t surprising because who likes that? Although now I tell my kids, “See, even Auli’i has to do chores.” LOL.

On Life, Hopes & Dreams

I asked Auli’i, courtesy of my daughter KaiLeia (14), what the theme song of her life is/would be. She smiled, and pondered for a moment. Then replied, “Moon River.” She loves Audrey Hepburn and said that the song is full of hope and talks about dreams and while they might not happen quickly, it is about that journey. If you haven’t heard “Moon River,” and listened to the lyrics. Heck, if you haven’t seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, you should add it to your “must watch” list.

One of my favorite parts of our conversation focused on hopes and dreams, and the idea of truly knowing who you are. We began chatting about if she ever envisioned her life, how it is today – singing live at the Oscars, preparing for a new show, empowering so many, and she shared that while she is a role model, she is not perfect or complete. Her journey always continues. She will never be complete.

So, how do we get to the point where we “just know” that we are complete? We don’t. There are no absolutes and “we are not a complete person ever & we are never to stop growing.” What we can do is explore and take a journey for ourselves, which Auli’i says “doesn’t have to be across a vast ocean like Moana.” It is merely listening to the voice you have inside, to be brave enough to see what else is out there and available to you. Finding who you are might be about leaving everything you know, but “the person you become is worth it.”

What’s Next?

Auli’i will be starring in an NBC Pilot called Drama High, and will be playing the role of Lilette. She shared that this project is about youth coming together from all walks of life to express themselves through theater.

We can only imagine the amounts of singing, and other talent that will be involved with this theatrical production. According to Deadline, the show, brought to us by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) and Jeffrey Sellers (Hamilton), is based on the true story of high school drama teacher, Lou Volpes – as told via the book Drama High, written by one of Mr. Volpe’s former students, Michael Sokolove.

For the rest of her visit in SF, Auli’i had her heart set on a bread bowl full of San Francisco’s clam chowder and exploring museums, enjoying the city, and perhaps visiting some college campuses. Compared to Hawai’i and New York, she said SF has just enough hustle & bustle for her, plus the weather is colder so she can wear jackets, scarves, and mittens!

Auli’i shared that her family would be traveling from Hawai’i to visit her this weekend in San Francisco before heading to New York to film for three weeks. I hope she gets a nice relaxing family time and special moments before her travels. She has a great support system, and I hope that as she continues to thrive in the entertainment industry her family bond just keeps getting stronger!

 

Speaking of family, mine waited outside for me! After our interview, Auli’i made a quick surprise stop in the hall to say “hi” to my eldest, MeiLani – who is also 16, and they took some pictures. While she said adults are fun and all, she was pretty excited to see another teenager! I know that MeiLani will remember that moment for a lifetime.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with Auli’i and share laughter, happy tears and hugs. Our family looks forward to watching her in Drama High and follow this bright star as she continues to spread her magic in the world!

You can follow Auli’i on her adventures via her Instagram – @auliicravalho!

MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD +Digital HD

Make sure to catch more fun outtakes and features exclusive to the MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD, including more interviews with the cast of characters, musicians, writers and directors. We digitally downloaded the film on iTunes early, and our kids (ages 10-16) have watched it already a dozen times!

MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD will be available in stores beginning Tuesday, March 7, 2017! Start planning that movie night!! 

Well, Mahalo for reading my experience, I had a blast & hope you enjoyed it, too!

As Maui would say, You’re welcome. 🙂

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Visit the official MOANA website here: http://movies.disney.com/moana