If you’re anything like me, you love getting and giving gifts. I also really love shopping and supporting small business. So, I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite Magic Makers that are crafting away and supporting their families! As a work from home mama, I can’t tell you how awesome it is to know that I have support in my endeavors because juggling businesses, blog, kids, marriage, and school can be rough. There are many days when I just want to lay on the floor… But, because of my amazing hubby, kids and tribe of friends that are family, I press on.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I was thinking of what I would love to open for the special occasion, and came up with a few of my top magical gifts that would support small businesses run by Mamas, meaning quality products for me and pixie dust pay for a mama-preneur on Mother’s Day. A win for everyone! There are so many awesome women that are movers and shakers, and while I can’t list them all, I am sure that you will find something for the magical mama in your life (or for yourself) amongst this list! Already picked out your gifts to give for Mother’s Day? You know what they say.
Treat. yo. self.
Mama & Little®
Mama & Little® Silicone Jewelry • If I had access to these pretty little pieces when I was toting around my babies, it would have been a lifesaver. I can’t tell you how many broken pieces of jewelry I’ve endured from curious little hands and mouths. The jewelry is food-grade silicon and BPA free. These are perfect gifts for new mamas, aunties, and anyone that holds babies!
Custom Wood Signs & Graphics by EllieJoy Boutique • This little shop on Etsy is owned and operated by Rachel, who also happens to be my cousin! She’s an Air Force Chaplain’s wife, mama to five and graphic designer. We both began design around the same time in the early 2000s. I’m super excited for Rach’s new venture and wanted to share that she does custom work outside of what is listed in Etsy, so check out her work and follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook, too!
LILLIAN & CO
LILLIAN & CO Bracelets • These are beautiful statements to wear. As a mama who dares to live my dream, these are perfect mantras and reminders on a daily basis to live in our magic and spread it far and wide. With twelve (12) different sayings, you’re sure to find one that is perfect for the Mama in your life. I found this little gem of a company on Instagram one day, and drool over the pieces often. They stack perfect with other bangles and watches! I am hoping that the “Go Live Your Dream” bracelet graces my wrist soon. 🙂
Spireside Candles (formerly Anthology Candles) • Handmade in the USA, these are whimsically inspired candles and wax melts. I fell in love with their product branding and photos on Instagram! Pineapple Whip is on my wish list, along with Main Street Bakery and The Confectionary. I know, I know so much sugar. 🙂
For more Mother’s Day Gift Guides, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
I wanted to share my recent experience as an Annual Passport (AP) holder. Throughout the year Disneyland Resort has special events and often have exclusive experiences for AP holders. The AP Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Sip and Savor pass was a great purchase & experience, so I look forward to more AP events in the future! It was a great way to really get the most out of The Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival experience.
The AP Food and Wine festival Sip and Savor Pass was $45, including tax, and consisted of 8 coupons.
With over ten festival marketplaces there was definitely something for everyone. Like many AP events, alcoholic beverages are a separate fee. Even then, I knew that I had to try the Mimosa Flight, located at The Uncork California Marketplace.
The Mimosa Flight included a Pear Mimosa, Apricot Mimosa, and Mango Mimosa. My favorite? The pear!
If Mimosas weren’t your thing, there was a Beer Garden located in the Paradise Grill Marketplace. You know, if you prefer drink like Gaston. 🙂
WHAT I ATE AT THE DISNEY FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
Nuts and Cheese | Brie toast with fig and mint with roasted California almond crumble
I Heart Artichokes | Fried Artichoke Carbonara with Garlic Aioli & smoked bacon
Bacon Twist | Baby iceberg and heirloom tomato wedge with peppered bacon and blue cheese dressing & Smoked bacon mac & cheese with barbecue-seasoned crispy onions
Off the Cob | Sweet corn nuggets with beef chili, spring onions and sour cream
Sweet & Sourdough | White cheddar lager soup topped with bacon, served in a mini Boudin Sourdough Boule
LA Style | Chicken Teriyaki slider with spicy Dole® pineapple jam & Korean barbecue beef short rib tacos with Kimchi slaw
It was really hard deciding what my favorite food was, but my top 3 favorite bites were:
Sweet corn nuggets, from Off the Cob
Chicken Teriyaki sliders, from LA Style
Fried Artichoke Carbonara, from I Heart Artichokes
Pass holders also received a special AP button at each marketplace location, with a Sip and Savor Pass redemption.
The AP corner included a special photo opportunity, a Festival handout, a free Food and Wine Festival button (the design changed weekly) and of course you can’t forget limited time merchandise!
Did you attend Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, too? We would love to know what your favorite bites were from the Food and Wine Festival! Please share your thoughts with us!
See ya real soon!
I don’t know about you, but we are counting down to December 15, 2017. Disney has just released the official teaser trailer and poster for Episode VIII.
See for yourself.
“Breathe. Just breathe.” – Luke Skywalker
If you remember, we last saw Finn under glass like Snow White, poor guy. I want him to wake up so badly. It’s just so eerie to see him laying there STILL. He’d better not die on us. Although, my daughter reminded me that this film picks up from the last one and he was just injured. Let’s hope she’s right.
From the trailer, Poe Dameron is running from something, with our favorite droid, BB-8. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him in the film. He’s a bad ass pilot. Oh, and BB-8 is a little smart hunk of technology. He brings so much humor. Lucasfilm always does a great job of bringing EVERY character to life.
We also all know Kylo Ren is just a ball of crazy and we don’t trust him, so I have no idea what to expect with him in this next film aside from bad things.
Um. ALL tears when I saw General Organa’s silhouette. For reals. I will be bringing a box of tissues (most likely Star Wars themed) to the theater.
And now, the cliffhanger.
OMG. What hell did Luke just say?! Did you catch it? At the very end. Go back and rewind. I will not be a putting that out into the universe.
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.
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)!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, what do you say? Will you be making your way to experience Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival?
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.
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
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.”
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!