Archives for September 11, 2022

It’s Time for Back-to-School!

It’s that time of year, although it feels like Summer! Here are some of my favorite items for the school year!

Back to school means prepping lunches. Make your life easier with The Dearest Grey’s silicone bento boxes. Perfect for lunchtime, the silicone bento boxes are unbreakable, reusable, and made with 100% food-grade silicone making for easy cleaning after sitting in backpacks for hours. Best of all these boxes are both freezer and microwave safe, and can go in the oven up to 410 degrees! Perfect for storing sandwiches or your child’s favorite snack store it away with The Dearest Grey bento boxes. Available on Amazon. Price: $1. I received the Mini Bento Boxes in Milk, Denim, and Emerald and I just love using them!

Bring healthy and exotic to your lunchbox! With Congo Tropicals’ Plantain Chips, you may be wondering, what are plantains and how are they healthy? Plantains are sugar-free vegetables found in tropical regions. Nutritionally high in fiber, potassium, energy, and low in cholesterol, plantain chips are a healthy alternative to potato chips. Containing an abundance of vitamins and minerals, they are truly the hidden superfood. A great delicious, yet healthy food that fit perfectly in all backpacks! Available on Amazon Price: $24.69 (Pack of 12)

Ideal for back to school lunches, Smelly Proof reusable bags’ multi-track zipper seal in freshness. They are 100% odor-proof, FDA approved, and eco-conscious! Whether you’re cooking in the kitchen or grilling in the backyard, Smelly Proof can be used to soak meats ahead of time, prep chopped ingredients or store leftovers. The smell proof bags come in a variety of sizes and are liquid, moisture and puncture resistant. No mess, no smells! Made in the USA!Also on and Amazon

NOMATIC Access Sling

This next product is great for summer travels and for back to school! I really like the quality and was quite impressed! The Access Sling is a versatile daily companion that can be worn around your waist or thrown over your shoulder. I also like that it is great for both men and women! You can find it at They also have some other great products on this site!

Perfect for lunches!

Get an A(toria’s) in lunch! Whether you’re grocery shopping for your family, or picking up food for yourself, quick and tasty lunch options can help everyone build healthy habits. Some lunches can ensure everyone is eating enough veggies, while others can save you time and get everyone out the door quicker. Still others can add a touch of variety to the same old, same old each day.

Having flatbreads from Atoria’s Family Bakery on hand is a mighty meal solution to get the pickiest of eaters (including you!) saying “I can’t wait for lunch!” These flatbreads are baked with simple ingredients and nothing artificial.

Here are some fun ideas as the kids head back-to-school:

Breakfast all day! Surprise your kids with a breakfast Pita in their lunchbox.

No fork, no problem! Handheld Lavash wraps are an easy lunch option for school or the car.

Power your performance! Fuel your kids for after school activities with a protein-packed Lavash foldover for lunch.

Veg-out! Cold pizza topped with veggies will ensure your kids eat them…maybe they won’t even notice!

Culture Cuisine! Try out some flavors from around the world to help expand your taste buds! We love adding curry into our chicken salad. Perfect for wraps!

Twist on Traditional! Kids love PB&J – try adding their favorite fruit or some granola for crunch. Perfect for a Lavash wrap or on top of Naan.

Build their own! The more kids are part of the lunch making process, the more likely they are to eat it!

About Atoria’s Family Bakery

Atoria’s Family Bakery offerings are perfect for wraps, pinwheels, flatbread pizza, panini, dips, chips and more. Non-GMO and Vegan, with two low-carb and keto-friendly options, the tasty varieties include NEW Cauliflower & Coconut and Traditional Pizza Crusts, Roasted Red Pepper Mini Lavash, Coconut & Cauliflower Mini Lavash, Flatbread, Whole Grain & Flax Mini Lavash Flatbread, Traditional Flatbread, Garlic Naan Flatbread, Pita with Whole Grain Flatbread, Traditional Pita Flatbread and more.

Learn more at

Coffee is a must for both parents and college students! This one is so fast and easy to make! Grab a box of Nostalgia Coffee Roasters’ Brew Bags and you will be ready to start your day! The first specialty roaster to create its own brew bags, the brand brings convenience and whole-bean medium and dark roast blends to coffee lovers and a new way to experience bold, rich flavors this season. You get a full jolt of caffeine packed into each brew bag and no fancy equipment is needed! The coffee is 100% ethically grown and sourced globally. Price: $25 (pack of 10)

Allergy-Friendly Baked Goods from eat G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R.

Without grains, eggs, dairy or nuts, eat G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R cookie, cake, NEW Vegan Pancake & Waffle Mix, and NEW frosting mixes are the perfect way to whip up allergy-friendly snacks and treats for your child… from breakfast to their lunchbox to after school. Grain-free, Additive-free, Nightshade-free, Gluten-free, Soy & Legume-free, Tree-nut & Seed-free, Egg & Dairy-free, and Refined Sugar-free. The line includes Vegan Banana Bread Mix, Choconot Fudge Cake Mix, Cinnawin Spice Cake Mix, Oatmeal Schmoatmeal Cookie Mix, ‘Cut-Out’ Sugar Cookie Mix, and Caro’Bout Fudge Cookie Mix. Learn more at My favorite was the Oatmeal Schmoatmeal Cookie Mix!

one backpack every parent should add to their list is, Wanderwild.

Wanderwild backpacks are mom-invented and kid-approved! Why do kids and parents love them?

  • Ergonomic design that makes carrying it comfortable and adjustable with chest clips and padded straps
  • Fun prints and patterns to fit their style and interests such as unicorns, sharks, strips
  • Space to personalize with their name, initials, or monogram
  • Made with high-quality, recycled material that is both durable and washable

Wanderwild backpacks come in three styles: The Explorer, The Wanderer and The Adventurer. ‘The Explorer’ has a front Velcro pocket for quick access while ‘The Wanderer’ has a zipped front pocket for small essentials. The Adventurer is roomier and is a favorite of older kids and parents. In addition to backpacks, Wanderwild has a line of insulated lunchboxes called, Out To Lunch with a zip front, easy carry top handle and plenty of room for lunch, drinks, and snacks.

They are available

Stay tuned! We will be featuring even more back-to-school must-haves next week!

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

Baja Splash Cultural Festival at Aquarium of the Pacific on September 24th and 25th

Photo credit : Raíces Peruanas

In celebration of the beauty and diversity of cultures found from México to Central and South America to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and beyond, the Aquarium of the Pacific will host its twenty-first annual Baja Splash Cultural Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25, 2022, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The event takes places during “National Hispanic Heritage Month” and features cultural dance and music, environmental education programs in English and Spanish, and booths from participating organizations.

During this year’s festival the Aquarium will present its Heritage Award to Latino Outdoors in honor of the organization’s commitment to inclusion, making nature accessible, and empowering community members while celebrating their important cultural connections to the environment. The award ceremony with Latino Outdoors Founder José González will take place on Saturday, September 24, at 2:30 p.m. in the Honda Pacific Visions Theater.

Folk dancers and musicians representing various cultures from México, Central and South America, Cuba, and beyond will share their traditions during the festival. Participants include those who have been part of Baja Splash for more than two decades, including Danza Azteca Cultural Ketzaliztli and musician and teaching artist Martin Espino, who will lead interactive music programs for everyone.

The Aquarium of the Pacific gives special thanks to the Bernadett Family for supporting the Little Ocean Explorers programming for its youngest learners during the festival. This special program will be offered in the Aquarium’s Ocean Theater on both days in English and Spanish. Also, as part of the festival, everyone can participate in an ocean conservation-themed lotería game in English and Spanish with prizes in the Ocean Theater on Sunday, September 25, at 3:40 p.m. Visitors can also explore booths from organizations like Caracol Museo de Ciencias (science museum in Ensenada), Los Angeles Zoo, and the Museum of Latin American Art, which will be sharing a free take-home arts and crafts activity. For those who are unable to attend in person, the Aquarium will offer a free live-streaming program on Sunday, September 25, at 2:30 p.m. with Danza Azteca Cultural Ketzaliztli. It will also release a special program on its YouTube channel starting on Saturday, September 24, featuring Martin Espino and the Aquarium’s Pacific Pals puppet named Axl the axolotl.

The name Baja Splash was inspired by Baja California, Mexico’s Gulf of California, which is one of the most important wildlife havens in the world. Visitors can learn more about this important ecosystem and how people can help protect it by exploring the Aquarium’s Gulf of California exhibition created with World Wildlife Fund México. The festival is included with Aquarium admission. General admission is $36.95 per adult (ages 12+), $26.95 per child (ages 3-11), $33.95 per senior (ages 62+), and free for Aquarium members and children under age three.All festival elements are subject to change. Advance reservations are required for everyone. No walk-ups. Safety is the Aquarium’s top priority. For the most current safety information, please visit For more information on the festival and for reservations, please visit  

FESTIVAL SPONSOR: The Bernadett Family

Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific.

“Back in School” Discount Offer – Disney On Ice

Save up to 25% on Tickets*

  • Unlock with Code: SCHOOL​
  • Limited-Time Offer Ends 9/18/22


  • Enter code before selecting seat(s). Savings offer may vary based on performance and seat location. Savings offer is not available on all seats or all performances. Enter code prior to seat selection to see if an offer applies. All tickets are at market pricing and subject to availability. No double discounts. Other restrictions and exclusions may apply. Valid on up to 8 tickets per order. Offer expires 11:59 p.m. local time on September 18, 2022.

Credit: Disney On Ice

Gigi & Nate * Uplifting Movie With An Encouraging Message And Elicits A Range Of Emotions

Nate Gibson’s life is turned upside down after he suffers a near-fatal illness and is left a quadriplegic. Moving forward seems impossible until he meets his unlikely service animal, Gigi – a curious and intelligent capuchin monkey – who helps Nate find what he needs most: hope.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Gigi & Nate is an uplifting movie with an encouraging message. This movie will put you through a range of emotions, and may even bring on the “waterworks.” See her full review and talent interview below.

Gigi & Nate

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Gigi & Nate is an uplifting movie with an encouraging message. This movie will put you through a range of emotions, and may even bring on the “waterworks.”

After barely surviving a tragic accident that left him paralyzed, Nate Gibson (Charlie Rowe) has nothing worth living for, until he meets Gigi, a capuchin monkey. The two develop an inseparable bond, but not everyone’s a fan of the relationship. Can Gigi and Nate stay together?   

This movie is inspired by the organization Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled which helps to match people with disabilities to monkeys who will help them in their day to day life. The special effects are so impressive as I could barely tell when it switched from CGI to real life. Allie (who plays Gigi), the adorable capuchin monkey, makes her acting debut in this movie, and she is trained incredibly well. Too bad for Allie that there aren’t Oscars for animals, because she would win one! Kudos to Allie’s trainers for making her actions seem so organic and natural! The chemistry with Charlie Rowe (Nate) and Allie feels so real that sometimes I forget I’m watching a fictional movie and not a documentary.                        

The primary message of Gigi & Nate is to never give up – whether that means on yourself or on something you believe in. This movie has some profanity, alcohol consumption and attempted suicide.

I give Gigi & Nate 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. Gigi and Nate comes out in theaters September 2, 2022.


Breaking * An Intense And Emotional Film, Filled With Many Levels Of Suspense


When Marine Veteran Brian Brown-Easley is denied support from Veterans Affairs, financially desperate and running out of options, he takes a bank and several of its employees hostage, setting the stage for a tense confrontation with the police. Based on the true story.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Mikella G. comments, “Breaking is an intense and emotional film, filled with many levels of suspense that constantly grab the audience’s attention.” See her full review below.


By Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

Breaking is an intense and emotional film, filled with many levels of suspense that constantly grab the audience’s attention.

Breaking, based on a true story, follows the main character Brian (John Boyega), an ex-Marine struggling after being discharged due to injury. After being turned down for financial support by the Veteran Affairs office, Brian has had enough. In order to get money he feels his only choice is to lock himself in a bank with two of its employees as hostages. While doing so, Brian manages to get the attention of police officers, FBI agents, firefighters and newscasters in order to make his situation known to the VA offices.

Breaking has an outstanding storyline. The execution of the meaning and message behind it—about how dysfunctional the VA offices can be— is done really well. It definitely has an effect on audiences and educates us on this extremely important topic. Furthermore, the acting in this film is phenomenal—every single actor has such strong talent. They really lock you in with their words and emotions. Brian’s character, especially, has so many different layers to him, and each one is showcased so well, and feels so believable. Finally, Abi Damaris Corbin’s direction is one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Each angle feels so specific and his direction sets the tone strongly. For instance, a scene would zoom in on particular things, which not only highlights those actions, but makes the film feel overall more realistic and natural.

The message of Breaking is to never give up on what you believe is right. This film includes profanity and gunshots.

I give Breaking 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Breaking in theaters August 26, 2022.


Summering * Tells A Relatable Story About Young Girls Finding Their Way Through A Challenge

As their last summer before middle school comes to a close, four best friends face the uncertainties of growing up and embark on their biggest adventure yet.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Maica N. comments, “We all know what it’s like to face change and challenges. And we always desire the best possible outcome from a predicament. Summering tells a relatable story about young girls finding their way through a challenge, while delivering a distinctive storyline.” Tiana S. adds, “Just in time for back-to-school season, the new adventure film, Summering, is here to throw a plot twist into your summer adventures! Summering has a strong cast and loads of twists and turns. Even when the movie seems to be slowing down, something surprising happens.” See their full reviews below.


Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, Age 14

We all know what it’s like to face change and challenges. And we always desire the best possible outcome from a predicament. Summering tells a relatable story about young girls finding their way through a challenge, while delivering a distinctive storyline.

Summering focuses on four best friends Dina (Madalen Mills), Lola (Sanai Victoria), Mari (Eden Grace Redfield), and Daisy (Lia Barnett) who are about to start middle school. With that comes plenty of questions and new challenges. On the weekend before school starts, the girls find themselves embarking on a peculiar adventure. These four best friends must work together to find the answer to their mystery and prepare for this new chapter in their lives.

Even though the characters in Summering are facing a fictional and fantasy-like situation, the plot is still somewhat relatable. These four best friends have to explore themselves and find out who they really are as they are growing older. They know that it is best to go on this journey together, but they worry about what obstacles will get in the way. Dina, Lola, Mari and Daisy also all have specific issues present in their life, making their friendships even more crucial. Anybody that is going through significant changes, no matter if they are young or old, can find something applicable to their lives in this story. The plot of Summering does seem a bit incomplete and choppy at certain parts of the film—the main mystery and conflict aren’t really resolved which can leave viewers confused after watching. The background music of the film is particularly interesting as it matches the tone of the film and the events taking place in the scenes. Summering has a darker style, and the dark music compliments that—“props” to Drum & Lace for providing this high-quality soundtrack.

The message of Summering is that a lot of times opposites attract. Dina, Lola, Mari, and Daisy need each other to balance themselves out. Each brings something different to the friend group, ultimately bringing them all closer together.

I give Summering 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. This film has minimal mild language and a middle school to high school demographic would enjoy it. You can find Summering in theaters now. So make sure you check it out!

By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Just in time for back-to-school season, the new adventure film, Summering, is here to throw a plot twist into your summer adventures! Summering has a strong cast and loads of twists and turns. Even when the movie seems to be slowing down, something surprising happens.

Summering follows four best friends who are reaching the end of their summer break. With many events and drama amongst family members, including keeping secrets, the characters try to make the best of their last week of summer. One particular day, they head to the woods to leave memorabilia at a tree. While in the woods, the kids come across a man’s dead body and set off on a mysterious adventure to discover his identity.

The leading young ladies in Summering are Daisy (Lia Barnett), Dina (Madalen Mills), Lola (Sanai Victoria) and Mari (Eden Grace Redfield). Overall, this movie is very interesting with multiple plots. Even though the plot doesn’t answer many of the questions that are being uncovered, it still portrays the friendships and adventurous side of the four main characters. The parents in the film are interesting, too; they love watching their kids grow up together and seeing how they are just like them when they themselves were younger. There is a scene where the parents are peering upstairs and enjoying hearing their kids laughing and having fun together. Fun fact: This was the first film director, James Ponsoldt, has made for a young audience.

Summering touches on how friends are always there for you—the four girls are always finding ways to help and support each other when needed. And this film delivers the messages that things can always change, and that telling and knowing the truth is important. For example, Daisy’s mother was not honest and kept a huge secret from her. The truth would have been less harmful and possibly saved Daisy from making poor decisions. Things parents must look out for are kids using a gun, a bar scene, creepy flashing images, the showing of a dead body, and the topic of suicide.

I give Summering 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 12-18, plus adults.  Summering is now playing in theatres.


The Lonesome Trail * A Dramatic And Heartwarming Cowboy Story Of How Faith Helps Us Keep Hope During Dark Times

The story begins when a cattle baron starts using trail hands to terrorize homesteaders in a small mining town a preacher comes to the rescue. With a Bible, not a gun this man is able to sway the homesteaders into standing their ground for their rights to free land. The homesteaders are rallied by preacher Carson to hold their position and not be frightened away by the constant barrage of raids on their families. Mike McCray, the cattle baron, doesn’t stand for the resistance, claps back and causes much damage to the preacher’s family and homesteaders. Frustrated with the outcome, one of the preacher’s own family members turns against him and sides with the McCray clan.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C., comments, “A blast to the past! The Lonesome Trail captures the dramatic and heartwarming history of how faith is used to keep hope during dark times. “See her full review below.

The Lonesome Trail 

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 18 

A blast to the past! The Lonesome Trail captures the dramatic and heartwarming history of how faith is used to keep hope during dark times.  

The Lonesome Trail, set in the American cowboy era, follows a preacher named Brent Carson (Peter Wray) who just recently moves to a small mining town. With the help of the local teacher Elizabeth Turner (Kelly Schwartz), he makes it his mission to ensure that the new visitors are welcomed and accepted despite their race and ethnicity. However, he faces some challenges when the town founder Mike McCray (Donald Imm) starts plotting to remove him and other new residents out of town. 

The Lonesome Trail captures the true environment of an old western film quite well. I am a big fan of Western films starring Black actors such as Buck and the Preacher with the award-winning Sidney Poitier. However, some modern elements do not mesh well in this film such as the appearance of some of the characters where the haircuts of the male characters are too modern. The sets and props are authentic to the time. The cinematography gives us an old Western vibe however; in some instances you cannot fully see the characters because the lighting overexposes the actors. Another thing that makes a Western film special is the set. This was clearly shot against a greenscreen and I missed having it take place on an actual Western set. I am curious if director Arlette Thomas-Fletcher did this intentionally in order to provide the audience with what a film may have looked like in the 1950s.  The music is appropriate to the theme. The twangy, western tune that is often heard during tense moments makes the film feel familiar and nostalgic. My favorite character is Preacher Carson because, in every scene, he seems like a genuine person that you would want to get to know in real life. My favorite scene is when Preacher Carson stands up to Mike McCray. I love how he uses faith to combat the hardships he faces. What an important lesson, especially in times of difficulty. 

The message of The Lonesome Trail is to be true to who you are and be kind to others. In times of inequality and unfairness, we must respect each other and have faith. You should be aware that this film contains scenes that mention racial inequality. 

I give The Lonesome Trail 4 out 5 stars and I recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Lonesome Trail comes out on digital July 12, 2022.