Archives for December 1, 2021

GoodPop Celebrates National Cookie Day December 4th With Giveaway and Holiday ‘Poptail’ Recipe

GoodPop® Frozen Pops, the leading better-for-you frozen treat brand that exists to do good in the world, celebrates National Cookie Day by giving away free boxes of its top-selling Cookies n’ Cream pop on December 4.  Fifty people that take the Pledge Good Challenge to do a good deed will receive four boxes of Cookies n’ Cream pops. 

“Everyone loves a “cookies and cream” pop and so three years ago we set out to make one, but with ingredients our customers could trust,” said Daniel Goetz, CEO and founder, GoodPop. “We couldn’t find a cookie that met our quality standards so we created our own cookie for this pop that is gluten-free, vegan and organic, and meets standards of all of our pops. We tested grain-free flours, fair-trade cocoa, different plant-based milks and oils to eventually come up with the right combination and flavor for our own cookie that is used in these pops.”

To celebrate the “cookie” in GoodPop’s Cookies n’ Cream, GoodPop is hosting a giveaway to encourage its fans to do good deeds this holiday season. Through its Pledge Good Challenge, the brand donates $1 per pledge to various non-profit partners. Fifty do-gooders that make a pledge at https://www.goodpops.com/pledge on December 4,  will receive a four pack of Cookies n’ Cream pops. Winners will be selected and notified on Monday, December 6.

“The good in our name isn’t just about the ingredients we use or the way our products taste, it’s an integral part of GoodPop’s mission to use our frozen treats as a vehicle to do social and environmental good,” said Goetz.  “We are committed to donating for every person who pledges to do something good. Our goal is to create a ripple effect that brings more into people’s lives and creates positive change.”

GoodPop has also launched a series of poptail recipes in collaboration with Austin-based Tito’s Handmade Vodka to celebrate the holiday season with twists on holiday cocktail and mocktail classics using popular GoodPop pops and Tito’s vodka. The National Cookie Day recipe is Santa’s Milk n’ Cookies Spiked Shake, which can also be made as a mocktail, is a vegan and gluten-free twist on Santa’s milk and cookies made with GoodPop’s Cookies n’ Cream pop, Tito’s Vodka, oat milk, and dairy-free vanilla ice cream. Check out the whole recipe and other holiday poptails here.

The Cookies n’ Cream pops come in packs of four per box, and are part of GoodPop’s collection of plant-based pop flavors, such as Orange n’ Cream and Strawberry Shortcake. The pops are USDA certified organic, dairy and gluten-free and made without HFCs, GMOs, refined sugars, or sugar alcohol sweeteners. Like all GoodPop products, the Cookies n Cream was thoughtfully crafted with the highest quality ingredients available. 

GoodPop Frozen Pops are available for a suggested retail price of $4.99-$5.99 and can be found in natural and conventional retailers in 40+ states and GoodPop’s online store that ships to all 48 states in the continental United States. For a full list of retailers and to shop, click here.

Credit: GoodPop.

Easy Fall Mom Hacks and Must-Haves – National Lifestyle Expert, Cheryl Leahy, Offers Top Tips to Make Mom Life Easier

FunkAway is a unique odor elimination solution perfect for kids going back to sports. Whether it’s sports equipment or jerseys – FunkAway’s unique OM Complex™ breaks down odors at the source and eliminates the odor versus covering it up.

With more than 48 million kids (K-12)* returning to school this year and our world opening up again, fall trends indicate 1 in 4 of those kids have already or will return to sporting activity.** While sports provide countless physical and health benefits – health, teamwork, community, discipline – one drawback is the funky odors that come with it. The smelly equipment, clothes and bags can make your home and car unbearable. Cheryl Leahy, lifestyle mom expert, shares some easy mom hacks on how to clean and get funky smells out of sports gear quickly and effectively, a perfect solution for saving time and frustration.

Top 5 Sports Gear Cleaning Hacks

  • Make sure your washer is clean. Periodically run your wash cycle using two cups of white vinegar.
  • Wash your kids’ jerseys inside out. If you wash the jerseys inside out, you’ll avoid wear and tear on any writing or artwork on the uniform.
  • Remove the stinky smells – the first time! Use a max strength laundry booster like FunkAway along with your regular detergent, that breaks down the odors and eliminates them.
  • Get a sports hamper. Buy a hamper for sports-only gear to keep the stink and bacteria into one spot vs. letting it spread to other clothes.
  • Fumigate that smelly bedroom. Lots of times, the clothes don’t make it to the laundry room, they end up hiding in your kid’s room – which can lead to lots of funky smells. Use FunkAway odor eliminating beads to freshen up any stinky room.
  • Don’t forget about the gear that can’t go into the wash! Don’t forget to treat the stains on gear that can’t go into the wash with products like FunkAway Aerosol Spray to prevent odors from taking over your space. Perfect for shin guards, football pads and any other sports gear that needs to be refreshed.

“The versatile OM Complex™ formula in our FunkAway products are essential must-haves this fall as kids are getting back to sports,” says Kyle Bolke, CEO, FunkAway. “This proprietary complex attacks odors on a molecular level, encasing it and eliminating the funky smells. It’s great for parents who are trying to eliminate foul odors from multiple uniforms and gear, allowing them to get the “funk” out by breaking down odor at the core and eradicating it at the source versus covering it up.”

FunkAway has a solution for anything that stinks, including powerful sprays for shoes and gear you can’t put in the wash, a Max Strength Laundry Booster, and supercharged Odor Eliminating Beads that work where others fail. FunkAway offers a family of products for any odor and retail for:

FunkAway, with more than 10,000 5-star ratings, is the complete odor elimination solution, comes with a money-back guarantee and is made in the USA. To learn more, visit FunkAway.com.  

About B2Z Products and FunkAway:

B2Z Products, Inc. is headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, and creator of FunkAway, a line of odor elimination products that remove the horrible effects of bad smells. Guaranteed to work on clothing, shoes, gear, pet products, car interiors and more, FunkAway allows users to renew and refresh, rather than throw away. Find FunkAway on Amazon and at thousands of other retailers, including Walmart, Jewel and Meijer. To learn more about FunkAway, visit funkaway.com and connect on Instagram and Facebook.

Credit: FunkAway.

Holidays at Caruso: Snowfalls, Santa Sightings, Festive Dining & More

Photo Credit:  Caruso.

This holiday season, Caruso warmly invites locals and visitors to indulge in the spirit of the season across Los Angeles at The Grove ,The Americana at Brand and Palisades Village.

The iconic properties will be transformed into festive wonderlands, each one thoughtfully decked out in holiday décor set against a majestic centerpiece: a stunning Christmas Tree, soaring high above guests and brimming with baubles, bows and bells for all to admire

Amongst a calendar of robust holiday programming, carolers and brass bands will serve as the soundtrack to shopping and dining, while the famed fountains at The Grove and The Americana at Brand dance to beloved holiday tunes.

“Caruso has become synonymous with Christmas in California,” says Sunil Watumull, Caruso’s Executive Vice President of Operations. “Our properties are alive with the magic of the season: glittering lights, merry melodies and nightly snowfalls. We take great pride in being a part of so many cherished traditions for our communities and look forward to granting every holiday wish our guests may have this year.”


Flurries Without the Frost Bite

Those longing for a glimpse of snow can head to The Grove and The Americana at Brand, which will host twice nightly snowfalls, transforming the properties into Winter Wonderlands – without the freezing temperatures (November 26 – December 25 at 7 and 8 p.m.)

Meet Santa Aboard His New Sleigh

Santa Claus will wave hello, wishing guests a holly, jolly season as he rides through The Grove and The Americana at Brand aboard his newest sleigh: a festive Trolley. The twice-nightly appearances will be complemented by snowfall and brass band performances. (November 26 – December 25, 7 & 8 pm.)

For the ultimate family photo, guests can reserve a private trolley ride with Old St. Nick at The Grove. Packages include a personal meet-and-greet with Santa along with a choice from classic sips and sweets or a four-course dinner served on the Trolley. (November 26 – December 24, by reservations only via Bistro1759@caruso.com).

The Festival of Lights

In celebration of Chanukah, The Grove and Palisades Village will light their menorahs each evening from November 28 to December 5. In partnership with the Chabad Jewish Community Center of Pacific Palisades, Palisades Village will host a community menorah lighting ceremony on the first night of the holiday, November 28. The Grove, together with Village Synagogue, will celebrate the holiday with a ceremonial lighting on the evening of December 2.

Spirited Dining

Home to the city’s hottest dining destinations, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to holiday gatherings at Caruso. Enjoy Fountain-side dining at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill and La Piazza at The Grove, or take in views of one of the tallest Christmas trees in California on Bar Verde’s balcony. Home to the city’s hottest dining destinations, there is no shortage of choice when it comes to holiday gatherings at Caruso. Enjoy Fountain-side dining at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill and La Piazza at The Grove, or take in views of one of the tallest Christmas trees in California on Bar Verde’s balcony. Guests can also enjoy a meal along the trolley tracks at The Americana at Brand at Amici Trattoria and Ombra Cocktail Bar, or sample festive libations including Hot Toddy’s and Champagne cocktails at Palisades Village’s Hank’s and The Draycott.

Gifting Made Easy

Finding the perfect gift will be a breeze this season with help from Caruso Concierge. The award-winning Concierge is available to all guests, with an array of five-star services including private shopping appointments, gift wrapping services, dining reservations, movie tickets, and more.

For more information on this season’s happenings at The Grove, The Americana at Brand and Palisades Village and more, please visit Winterland.Caruso.com.

Credit: Caruso.

Ocean Avenue Community Pop-Up Art Event in Palisades Park, Dec. 4

Rendering of the temporary public art piece to be installed in Palisades Park, courtesy of Here LA 

The Santa Monica community is invited to a one-day pop-up art event to experience Ocean Avenue and Palisades Park in a new way on Saturday, December 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The temporary art installation component between Broadway and Colorado Avenue will remain on view through early 2022. 

The pop-up event is hosted through the City of Santa Monica’s Ocean Avenue Artists in Residence Program, part of the Ocean Avenue Project. The project aims to revitalize and enhance public use of the streetscape. The first phase of the Ocean Avenue Project focused on roadway enhancements including a protected bike lane and expansion of the eastern sidewalk for additional outdoor dining. For the next phase, Here LA, the interdisciplinary design firm selected as the Ocean Avenue Artists in Residence, will lead an arts-based community engagement process to gather feedback about how the street could be improved to better utilize its public spaces, support local businesses, and connect to adjacent corridors.  

On Saturday, December 4, the interactive event will explore ways of improving the street for a more people-centered experience and will feature:  

  • A temporary large-scale art installation mounted atop the park’s edge, between Broadway and Colorado Avenue. The installation features transparent wire letters that spell out the phrase, “WE ARE A DROP WE ARE THE OCEAN” (rendering pictured above), providing a moment of reflection as well as photo opportunities. The installation seeks to draw attention to the west side of the street and to create a unique visual that further complements the views. The installation will remain on view through early 2022. 
  • Prototypes of large play furniture in various colors and shapes that invite climbing and interacting. 
  • A colorful activity where participants show their feedback on how they think the street could be improved by throwing a powdered color ball on the ground in front of their favorite option. The activity will create a mural of color on the ground. 

The event and activities were informed by conversations with local stakeholders and over 500 survey responses from the Santa Monica community. Here LA found that what people valued most about the street is its natural setting, the unique location of the street and park atop the bluff, and of course, the view. Competing with this natural beauty however is the street itself, which is a key gateway to nearby destinations. Much of the corridor’s physical space is dedicated to roadway and vehicles, which separates people from the park and views. To bridge this divide, Here LA is using urban planning and temporary artistic activations to explore ways of improving the street for a more pedestrian-friendly experience and to enliven the space and engage passersby. 

For more information, visit SantaMonica.gov/Ocean-Avenue-Project.  

Credit: City of Santa Monica.

Books of the week!

Whether you’re planning your next trip or just escaping via your armchair, discover a world of beauty and creativity with Amazing Art Adventures, publishing this summer! Through more than 400 entries, plus photographs and maps, Amazing Art Adventures expands our understanding and appreciation of the world’s art in exciting new ways.  This would make a great gift!

What’s cuter than a puppy, otter, or owl? One you crochet yourself! Learn to create these adorable pals, and many more, in Crochet Your Own Kawaii Animal Cuties,!

What’s kawaii? Kawaii is the Japanese word for “cute” that has spread around the world thanks to the internet and cute memes. The 12 animals in this book are among the most popular kawaii animals on the internet. With step-by-step illustrated instructions and simple quick-to-complete projects, you’ll be posting your own cute kawaii creations in no time! Plus, this kit contains everything you need to make a Sloth and Shiba Inu, so you can get started right away! This all-in-one kit makes this the perfect gift for graduation, summer birthdays, and more.

Whether you’re planning your next trip or just escaping via your armchair, discover a world of beauty and creativity with Amazing Art Adventures, publishing this summer! Through more than 400 entries, plus photographs and maps, Amazing Art Adventures expands our understanding and appreciation of the world’s art in exciting new ways. 

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books. Information and images were also provided.

Universal Studios Hollywood Rejoices the Return of Holiday Favorites “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” and “Grinchmas”

 Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates the most wonderful time of the year with the return of yuletide favorites and family traditions, “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” and “Grinchmas,” beginning Friday, November 26 and running daily through Sunday, January 2, 2022. The holiday festivities are included in the price of admission.

Families will rejoice at the arrival of “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” where the quaint wizarding village of Hogsmeade™ is transformed to reflect the holiday spirit featuring merry décor and jolly ambiance. Guests can take delight in special holiday a cappella performances from the Hogwarts Frog Choir, stroll through the village shops while sipping a delicious Hot Butterbeer™ and enjoy savory festive fare at the Three Broomsticks™. 

Beginning at dusk each night, “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts™ Castle” dazzles with stunning imagery and animation as the impressive light projection show illuminates Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, bringing the iconic Hogwarts™ castle to life and infusing the land with the sounds of an arrangement of music from the Harry Potter film series.

Guests can commemorate their Christmas visit to Hogsmeade™ Village with a variety of exclusive keepsake items available for purchase, including personalized ornaments, garland, scarves and stockings.

The jolly “Grinchmas” Who-lebration returns in festive fashion as holiday park-goers will be rockin’ around the topsy-turvy 65 foot-tall “Grinchmas” tree in Universal Plaza, adorned with hundreds of ornaments and thousands of LED lights. A dazzling tree lighting ceremony accompanied by a snowfall flurry will take place every evening, bringing good tidings and season’s greetings as guests celebrate with The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and the Who-ville Whos, who will be performing on select nights. A selection of themed Who-tacular sweet treats, including hot cocoa will be available for purchase.

In addition to the theme park, spirited holiday décor will permeate Universal CityWalk. Guests to the outdoor entertainment destination will be enchanted by the spectacular 40-foot tall Christmas tree, featuring more than 200,000 LED lights. The ever popular Voodoo Doughnut will entice guests with a variety of festive designs and flavors to celebrate the season. 

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

Admission to Universal CityWalk is free. More information is available at www.CityWalkHollywood.com.

Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood. Images were also provided.

Holiday Crafts Day for Kids at The International Printing Museum

Holiday Crafts Day for Kids at the International Printing Museum Saturday, December 11, 2021 from 10 am to 4 pm

Our Krazy Krafts Day for Kids returns with a wintery twist. Join us on December 11th for a HOLIDAY KRAFTS DAY at the Printing Museum, a creative day of printing and crafts for the whole family. All are welcome, whether you are a kid or a kid at heart that just loves to make stuff!

Activities throughout the day include letterpress printing cards, bookmarks, keepsakes, fun wrapping paper, and ornaments. Participants will also be able to try colorful paper marbling, typing a note to grandma or Santa on vintage typewriters, screen printing t-shirts, bookbinding, special tours, and more! A great opportunity to make some holiday decorations and gifts.

Tickets are $10 and are available online and at the door. For more info visit printmuseum.org

Credit: The International Printing Museum.

India Sweets and Spices * The South Asian-American Coming-Of-Age Film Of The Year

Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns to her family’s posh suburban New Jersey home after a year away at college and upends their well-ordered life with her newfound independence. Befriending Varun (Rish Shah), the handsome son of the new owners of the local Indian grocery, she invites his family to a weekly dinner gathering with her parents’ wealthy friends. She is shocked to learn that her perfectionist mother Sheila (Manisha Koirala) has a previous connection to Varun’s mother Bhairavi (Deepti Gupta). Alia’s surprise turns to indignation when she uncovers secrets about both her parents that push her toward a daring and transformative confrontation. India Sweets and Spices celebrates a young woman’s coming of age set against a lovingly framed glimpse of the life of an Indian American family. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “India Sweets and Spices is the South Asian-American coming-of-age film of the year – a tale of family, feminism and biscuits and bravery. With masterful acting, beautiful cinematography, and a strong script, it’s certainly not a film to miss!” See his full review below.

India Sweets and Spices

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

India Sweets and Spices is the South Asian-American coming-of-age film of the year – a tale of family, feminism and biscuits and bravery. With masterful acting, beautiful cinematography, and a strong script, it’s certainly not a film to miss!

Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns to her family’s New Jersey hometown after a year away at UCLA and upends their life with her free-spirit personality. She befriends Varun (Rish Shah), the son of the new owners of the local grocery store, India Sweets and Spices. But when she invites his family to a dinner party at her house, family secrets from their Delhi University days are uncovered and lives are changed. Alia is motivated by the new discoveries to seek out more information about her parents’ pasts, which mounts up to a powerful (and slightly hilarious) rebellion.

Everything about this film is well thought-out and executed. I’m a massive fan of the star cast. Veteran Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala plays Alia’s mother Sheila. She is known for her work promoting women’s rights, and so it was only logical that she chose to be a part of this film. Her journey with feminism in the film (which I won’t spoil for you) is also one you won’t want to miss. A master of her craft, Koirala shows great depth of emotion and truly becomes her character in the film. Sophia Ali seems to hit one note for a large part of the film, and comes through with an emotionally dynamic performance towards the last half hour of the film. Deepti Gupta plays Bhairavi Dutta, Varun’s mother. Her portrayal of the warm, yet fiery shopkeeper truly steals the show. There’s so much mystique to Bhairavi, which Deepti plays beautifully.

India Sweets and Spices promotes standing up for yourself, especially in the context of women’s rights. It teaches others to never bend to the will of others if it goes against your principles. Some profanity is used and there are some intimate scenes.

I give India Sweets and Spices 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. India Sweets and Spices releases in theaters November 19, 2021