Archives for February 2021

Valentine Gift Ideas for the Kids!

Looking for gift ideas for the kids? Here are a few of our favorite ideas for the upcoming holiday!

Welch’s Fruit Snacks Mixed Fruit Valentine’s Day Heart is a must-buy! Providing a gifting option beyond traditional offerings, the 2021 limited-edition offering features custom Valentine’s Day-themed graphics and are bursting with delicious flavor, just like the fruit snacks you already know and love. Perfect for spreading the love this season, Welch’s Fruit Snacks Mixed Fruit Valentine’s Day Heart is available: 

  • At CVS and Walgreens ($5), where each box features a “To/From” signable panel making it easy to add a handwritten touch for your Valentine.
  • On Amazon ($13.95) and easily shipped straight to your Valentine’s doorstep. The best part? It’s completely customizable! At checkout, simply enter your heartfelt message and it will be printed directly on the Welch’s Fruit Snacks Heart-Shaped box.

I like that they are made with real fruit and contains (3) 2.25oz Pouches of Mixed Fruit, Fruit Snacks in each Heart-Shaped box.

This next option is super cute! How can you go wrong with crazy straws and Valentine’s cards? You can find this super cute set at www.joyin.com. These are just perfect for all ages! Joyin is known to put joy in every occasion. They have everything from balloons and banners  to bath bombs and tons of fun Valentine’s Day cards to choose from with goodies attached like puzzles, finger puppets, race cars, slime and more! I’m sure you will find some other great gift ideas but I love their Valentine Gift Cards with colorful loop reusable drinking straws! You can find them here.

Looking to get crafty with the kids? Mom and Parenting.com’s lifestyle editor, Bethany Braun-Silva, has some adorable ideas (using items you likely already have at home) that parents can do with their kids to let their creativity loose! Check out her site here.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this holiday post. Images were also provided.

Downtown Santa Monica Celebrates Black History Month on Third Street Promenade

Photo provided courtesy of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.

This February, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) will recognize and celebrate Black History Month on Third Street Promenade with art installations by local Black artists and a banner program to honor historic Santa Monica Trailblazers for their significant achievements and contributions to the community.
DTSM will present three public art displays in storefront windows beginning Wednesday, February 10 through March 15, 2021, from A Brilliant Dummy, Shplinton, and Mira Gandy. Each art installation celebrates the Black experience as part of a greater effort in the City of Santa Monica to deepen the community’s knowledge and foster understanding of other cultures and experiences that have been marginalized or overlooked due to a legacy of slavery and institutional racism.
DTSM worked closely with Black Santa Monica Tours and Concierge, Robbie Jones, and the Quinn Research Center, whose mission is to empower community members by being an educational resource that promotes the study and research of Black Family History and Culture in the Santa Monica Bay Area, to feature Black Santa Monica Trailblazers on decorative banners along the Third Street Promenade.
DTSM encourages everyone to visit DowntownSM.com to read more about their contributions in our community and to find a full calendar of Black History Month events produced by the City of Santa Monica.
The Black History Month Art Installation Project was made possible by “Art of Recovery,” an initiative of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs, santamonica.gov/arts/artofrecovery. #DTSMBlackHistory  #ArtofRecovery #ArtSaMo #SantaMonicaShines
DTSM remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of the community, visitors, and staff. Face coverings are required when visiting the art installations on Third Street Promenade and all guests are encouraged to practice physical distancing. For more information on the new health and safety guidelines as well as details on what to expect when visiting the Third Street Promenade, please visit DowntownSM.com.
WHEN:
Wednesday, February 10 – Monday, March 15, 2021

WHERE:
Installations are viewable at three locations along the Third Street Promenade.
Shplinton – 1201 Third Street Promenade
Mira Gandy – 1344 Third Street Promenade
A Brilliant Dummy – 1343 Third Street Promenade
PARKING:
Parking is widely available in the downtown structures including the Santa Monica Public Library or Parking Structures 9 and 10 just north of Wilshire Boulevard. Biking, walking and public transit are encouraged.
MORE INFORMATION:
For more information, visit DowntownSM.com or follow @DTSantaMonica on Instagram and Twitter or DowntownSantaMonica on Facebook.

Credit: Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM, Inc.)

Dana Point Harbor Welcomes Community for Valentine’s Day!

There is a lot to love at Dana Point Harbor this Valentine’s Day. Couples, friends and families can enjoy safe, physically-distanced activities including seaside stays and dining, takeout specials, shopping along the waterfront, a sunset sail and photo moments in front of Dana Point’s very own “Love Wall” mural.

Book a weekend getaway this Valentine’s Day at the Dana Point Marina Inn. Providing beautiful ocean views, the Marina Inn is perfect for those looking to soak up the laid-back Harbor scene with loved ones. For a full Harbor experience, book exclusive packages and special offers with your stay including whale watching, fishing, paddle boarding and a trip to Catalina Island. The Dana Point Marina Inn is taking all necessary steps outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) to provide guests with a safe hotel stay. For more information visit danapointmarinainn.com

Visitors can spend time with loved ones at the Harbor and embark on an island adventure to Catalina Island with Catalina Express, resuming daily trips just in time for Valentine’s weekend on February 12. More information can be found at danapointharbor.com.   

Capture your love and take a photo with the “Love Wall” painted special for Dana Point Harbor by local Orange County mural artist Mikala Taylor. Located in the Harbor’s Clock Courtyard, the “Love Wall” is the perfect backdrop for Valentine’s Day memories. Use the hashtag #DPHLoveWall in your social media posts before Valentine’s Day to be entered to win a gift card to a Harbor restaurant of your choice.   

Valentine’s Day specials at the Harbor include: 

  • Aventura Sailing will host Valentine’s Cocktail Cruises on February 13 and 14. Start your day with a Mimosa Cruise from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. or watch the sun set during the Cocktail Cruise from 3 – 6 p.m. Call 949-493-9493 to reserve your spot. 
  • Frisby Cellars will offer Valentine’s Day wine tasting kits for wine lovers interested in their own at-home wine tasting. Pre-orders taken through February 7. For more information and to pre-order visit shop.frisbycellars.com.  
  • Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari will host Dolphin & Whale Sweetheart Sunset Safaris on February 13 and 14 as well as romantic whale watching private charters with your loved ones. For more information visit dolphinsafari.com.
  • Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching will offer Valentine’s Day cruises February 12-14. Enjoy whale watching at sunset with a complimentary drink and treats. For more information visit danawharf.com
  • Killer Dana Surf Shop will offer 25% off any one clothing or accessory item (excluding sale merchandise) and complimentary gift wrap while supplies last. Use promo code KDLOVE for 25% off any one clothing or accessory item at kdsurfshop.com. Offers valid February 8-14. 
  • Enjoy outdoor dining with waterfront views of the Harbor and soak in the stunning Dana Point sunsets or order takeout from a variety of restaurants for the perfect date night in. Make a reservation or order to-go from the diverse mix of Dana Point Harbor restaurants.       

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Dana Point Harbor and experience all of the adventure, fun, romance, and relaxation this seaside destination has to offer. For more information visit DanaPointHarbor.com or connect with us via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter

Credit: Dana Point Harbor. Images were also provided.

Lily, Feb. 10th Pet of the Week!

Roses may be the traditional flower for Valentine’s Day, but have you considered a Lily? Our beautiful tan-and-white blossom has been blooming for five years, and she has shown our staff and volunteers so much love! She’ll thrive in a loving home, garden or not! Because the shelter is closed to the public, adoption appointments are conducted through appointment, so call 562-570-PETS or email PetAdopt@longbeach.gov to meet Lily. Ask for ID#A653598.

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)

Learn More About Your Home Drinking Water for Good Health in 2021!

Do you want to know if your water at home is safe to drink? Safe Home Drinking Water Test Kits can bring peace of mind to consumers at home sweet home. Chris Myers, President and CEO of Environmental Laboratories, Inc., is the Senior Scientist who developed Safe Home Test Kits, based on more than 40 years of experience studying and testing drinking water quality. The Safe Home Test Kits are designed so anyone can test their own tap water and we invite you to analyze yours and share your experience. And if you want to learn more about the state of drinking water in our country, why you should test,  how the science works, etc.

I had the opportunity to try out a kit for myself and was quite impressed with how simple it is to use. It’s also a great science experiment to do with the kids while they are doing school at home during the pandemic.
 
You may also be interested to know that:
• Safe Home Test Kits is the exclusive brand of water test kits that has received the Good Housekeeping Seal. 
• The Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit was also chosen as the Best Overall Test Kit in the USA for 2020, by “The Spruce.”
• Safe Home Water Quality Test Kits were named one of the “Top Ten New Products in the World” at the National Hardware Show. 
You will see there are a variety of kits available: DIY at Home “You Test It” for screening of your home drinking water and In-Lab Certified “We Test It” for detailed testing of your home drinking water. Consumers can purchase kits directly at: SafeHomeTestKits.com and they are also available on Amazon, Home Depot, Menards, Bed, Bath and Beyond stores/online, and Walmart online. 

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.

Enjoy Valentine’s Day Date Night Outdoors or At-Home with Love from Little Tokyo

Tsurumaru Udon’s at-home DIY Udon Kit for two (left). Heart-shaped vegan doughnuts from Donatsu (center). Shojin’s vegan Valentine’s Day special package (right). 
Photos provided courtesy of Go Little Tokyo.

Celebrate love this Valentine’s Day in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles with a variety of al fresco dining options and take-out meals from Little Tokyo restaurants. Whether planning a romantic dinner, Galentine’s celebration or date night at home, Little Tokyo offers the perfect opportunity to share a special moment with loved ones.
Little Tokyo’s many eateries offer diverse outdoor dining options along the historic First Street, where guests can dine under the romantic overhead lighting, perfect for a date night out. Treat that special someone to a patio dinner under the stars at Rakkan Ramen for an authentic Japanese ramen experience. Ootoro LA’s al fresco dining will continue the tradition of serving their exquisite sushi and sashimi dishes that are almost too beautiful to eat.
Tsurumaru Udon will be celebrating love all weekend long with do-it-yourself Valentine’s Day meal kits perfect for those interested in making delicious, fresh homemade Japanese udon from the comfort of their own home. Udon kits for two are $7.75 and available to order Thursday, February 11 – Sunday, February 14 at tsurumaruudon.com. Pair the udon with a delicious Valentine’s sushi box from Tamon Sushi featuring an arrangement of the restaurant’s signature dishes for two for $65 or Shojin’s vegan Valentine’s Day Special for a rosey night in with your loved one for $88 per person available Friday, February 12 – Sunday, February 14. Orders can be placed online at tamon-ten.com or at theshojin.com.
Add some sweetness to your Valentine’s Day celebration with heart-shaped, hand-crafted vegan doughnuts from Donatsu available to order on Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14 or a box of manju from Little Tokyo’s beloved confectionery shop Fugetsu-Do. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for your loved ones this Valentine’s Day, Popkiller’s B My Valentine collection offers stylish gifts everyone will love. For a limited time, buy two t-shirts and get a sale t-shirt free when you place an order online.
Restaurants and businesses in Little Tokyo remain committed to the health and wellness of the community and are open and implementing additional safety protocols. A number of convenient amenities including curbside, in-store pickup and takeaway dining options are being offered to make Valentine’s Day meals and shopping easier than ever. Visitors are encouraged to contact individual businesses for their guidelines. Face coverings are required when visiting Little Tokyo and all guests are encouraged to practice physical distancing. For more information, visit golittletokyo.com.  

Credit: Go Little Tokyo.

Apollo 11: Quarantine * Unique Film Sure To Allure Space Fans, History Buffs And More

Apollo 11 astronauts spend three weeks in medical quarantine after safely returning to Earth in the summer of 1969. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Apollo 11: Quarantine is a uniquely relatable found-footage style film that is sure to allure space fans, history buffs and everyone else, too! The creators of this film have pieced together parts of old footage from newsfeeds and other sources to tell a grand story of astronauts in quarantine.” See his full review below.

Apollo 11: Quarantine

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Apollo 11: Quarantine is a uniquely relatable found-footage style film that is sure to allure space fans, history buffs and everyone else, too! The creators of this film have pieced together parts of old footage from newsfeeds and other sources to tell a grand story of astronauts in quarantine.

Now, more about that story! The film follows the crew of the Apollo 11 spaceflight that first landed humans on the moon (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) in their 21-day quarantine in the summer of 1969. Scientists weren’t sure if they had made contact (and maybe even brought back) dangerous lunar microorganisms like bacteria, so the astronauts had to be contained and swabbed and scrubbed down regularly. But the Apollo 11 crew weren’t as isolated as you’d think: they kept contact with the outside world through a pane of thick glass. This film shows the activities that went on during those 21 days and how much patience and emotional strength the astronauts had to show; it took a lot of resilience for the roving moon-explorers, but they pulled through!

To the fun stuff, now! Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins are the lead “characters” in the film. Todd Douglas Miller brilliantly edited together all of the individual incredible clips. Besides the editing, the music and small intercut scenes of footage shot in the 21st century both help create the ambiance for the film. I also have to say that the audio work is quite interesting; I didn’t think that audio from the late ‘60s was surround sound or stereo. I watch the film with headphones on and was surprised that the audio in parts of the film (like when the crew uses walkie-talkies) goes from one ear to the other. Quite modern for the mid-to-late 20th century!

Apollo 11: Quarantine promotes the message of resilience and sticking through anything that comes your way. The film shows exactly how difficult it was for the crew of Apollo 11 to be quarantined for 21 days, interacting with the outside world through a glass pane or capsule. But they pulled through, and President Gerald Ford congratulated them with a proud speech on Day 21 of their quarantine, the last day.

I give Apollo 11: Quarantine 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. Adults will enjoy this film as well. Apollo 11: Quarantine will be released exclusively in IMAX™ on January 29, 2021, and on Premium On Demand on February 5, 2021.

Go, Dog, Go! * Adaptation of the Classic PD Eastman book, With Quality Animation and Story

Based on P.D. Eastman’s best-selling, classic children’s book (over 8 million copies sold), Go, Dog. Go! follows six-year-old Tag Barker on her adventures in the city of Pawston, a fun-loving community of dogs on the go. Tag is a skilled mechanic and loves anything that goes. With her ingenuity and creativity, Tag can go as far as any plan will take her with her best friend Scooch Pooch by her side. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “Throughout the series, I am impressed time after time with its amazing animation. While it is colorful and fun; it is also fairly realistic. The dogs look so real and cute, I want to hug them! Something that makes this show even more special is the creative way that it uses so many elements from P.D. Eastman’s original book and creates a whole new world out of it.” Katherine S. adds, This new series will not disappoint all of the Go, Dog, Go! lovers as there is a reference to almost every storyline in the book. Also, the characters’ names are hilarious. Instead of grandpa it’s grandpaw and there is a group of singing dogs called the Barkapellas.” See their full reviews and interview with Adam Peltzman, Executive Producer below.

Go, Dog, Go
By Kyla C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

The creative TV series Go, Dog, Go! based on the book by P.D Eastman is completely satisfying. Every element of traditional animated shows is used to create a brand new, originally entertaining series. With intriguing animation and impressive voice-over acting, Go, Dog, Go is a must-see for young viewers!

Each of the nine episodes follows Tag Barker (Michela Luci) in her adventures through Pawston with her friend Scooch Pooch (Callum Shoniker). Together, they solve problems and have fun. There are two individual stories per episode, with the same general characters. The antagonist is primarily Frank, (David Berni), who stands in the way of Tag and Scooch.

Throughout the series, I am impressed time after time with its amazing animation. While it is colorful and fun; it is also fairly realistic. The dogs look so real and cute, I want to hug them! Something that makes this show even more special is the creative way that it uses so many elements from P.D. Eastman’s original book and creates a whole new world out of it. All of the main story parts are included and more are added such as a doorbell shop, a racecar track and so much more. All these locations and lots of extra events are important to the story. One of my favorite aspects of the film is when the dogs sing. It’s very clever and funny. The creative story is amazing, but the acting is even better. With such cute, specific-to-character performances, I almost wondered if these characters are real! There is only one minor issue that most likely isn’t noticeable to little kids – some of the episodes are repetitive. Most of the time, the series doesn’t change the plot very much from one story to the next. That doesn’t make much of a dent in my overall enjoyment of this series however.

The message that Tag, Scooch and all of their friends convey is that teamwork and kindness are best. They work together to problem solve and help out dogs around town. Sometimes there are additional themes for individual episodes.

I give Go, Dog, Go! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 7. You can watch Go, Dog, Go on Netflix beginning Tuesday, January 26, 2021.

Go, Dog, Go!

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Yes! The classic book by P. D. Eastman is now an animated series. Go, Dog, Go! has such clever dialogue and references to the book, high quality animation and is very fun to watch.

This series is about a dog named Tag Barker (Michela Luci) and her adventures throughout her town, Pawston. There are big dogs, little dogs and even a dog party in a tree. On Tag’s adventures, we meet her family and friends as well as new friends like Scooch Pooch and Gerald the Mail Dog as she helps to solve problems along the way.

This new series is based on P. D. Eastman book, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, so this story is not only relevant to the kids of today but to their parents as well. I grew up with this book; my brothers grew up with this book; and my dad grew up with this book. My whole family grew up enjoying this book! And this new series will not disappoint all of the Go, Dog, Go! lovers as there is a reference to almost every storyline in the book. Also, the characters’ names are hilarious. Instead of grandpa it’s grandpaw and there is a group of singing dogs called the Barkapellas. The animation is so colorful as there are red dogs, blue dogs, green dogs, yellow dogs, purple dogs, and, pretty much, dogs of every color of the rainbow. I also enjoy seeing a town full of dogs riding bikes, trikes, blimps, boats and cars.  My favorite voice actress is Michela Luci, who plays Tag, because she brings so much energy to the role.

There are many positive messages throughout the show, like helping others, perseverance and friendship.

I give Go, Dog, Go! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 10. Adults will love all of the references to the book. This show comes out on Netflix January 26, 2021.