Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Who's Ready for a Little Adventure?

 "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than those you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
 — Mark Twain, Great American Writer
♥~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ♥

My family loves adventure. We love to explore and see new things. So when I heard about an old shipwreck on the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes that you could hike to ... we were OFF! 

It is fairly easy to get there. From Pasadena, it took us roughly 45 minutes. We went on a Sunday and I was expecting it to be more crowded but it wasn't at all and there was ample street parking. We parked near the intersection of Paseo Del Mar and Cloydon. Between two houses (ok, fine, big, huge, sprawling mansions - you are in Palos Verdes, afterall!!) is a drainage pipe that heads down the cliff. This is where you want to head down. There are other areas along the coast that you can try to maneuver down, but with 2 kids, this seemed like the safest way to get down. Concrete has been poured on the cliff to make it less slippery heading down. Take your time and it is fairly easy. 
Once you make it to the bottom, head West (for the more navigational-challenged, go left!) 
You will be walking on rocks the entire time so I HIGHLY recommend wearing good hiking boots that keep your ankles stable. We all were wearing tennis shoes and paid the price later on with sore feet & ankles. 

The shipwreck debris is roughly 2 miles from this point. There are many things to see along the way ... we happened upon this makeshift wall where people before us had added things to the wall. There was a big shell there that my daughter wanted to take. I asked her is she liked looking at the wall with all the things people had left and she said, "Yes". I then went on to explain that if she took it, it wouldn't be there for other people to admire and instead of taking the shell, why don't we find something interesting and on our way back, we can add to it. This made her very excited and the 2 mile trek to the shipwreck debris was spent exploring for what she wanted to leave behind.

We picked a great day to hike. It wasn't too warm and the sun kept playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds so it was never beating down on us. This made for a much more pleasant hike. Along the way we saw many abandoned lobster traps strewn along the coast. We also saw many dead lobsters, and a few dead birds as well. We briefly spoke to a couple that we passed on our hike and they said there was a dead fox, a dead sealion and dead squid as well, However, we did not see them but at times during our hike, we sure smelled something dead!!! Eeeeew.
We also encountered seagulls, pelicans and sandpipers. 

Before you actually get to the debris site, you will start to see scattered rusty metal pipes & other other pieces here & there. In the distance you will see what appears to be a tractor or a crane. When you see that, you know you are close, as the shipwreck is just around that bend.

Once you see the crane, you know you are close!

There are a couple of big pieces of the shipwreck as well as many smaller pieces scattered around. They are very old & rusty so please exercise caution, especially with younger children. 

As well as the scattered remains of the shipwreck, there are hundreds of tidepools with crabs, sea urchins, starfish and other marine life. We have a rule in our family ... you can pick up and be gentle, but you must put it back. Both kids loved having the crabs crawl on them and their giggles as the crabs "tickled" them was so cute. But after a few minutes, they gently put the crabs back into their home. 

Sadly, the sun was beginning to set and we had to leave and start our 2 mile trek back.(trust me, the 2 miles back is much harder than the 2 miles there!! My legs will testify to that!) The sun gave a spectacular show as it was setting on us, begging us to return another day, which we will surely do!

The most rewarding thing of the day was as we were leaving and headed home, both kids thanked me for all the adventures we go on! I am so grateful to be able to share these experiences with my children and I can only hope that they get us much out of our precious time as I do. 

Goodnight, Palos Verdes. Thank you for a wonderful Adventure! 

The story doesn't end there, though! When we got home, I had both kids do a little research on the Shipwreck and then they shared what they learned with Mike & I. At first, both kids groaned a little bit when I asked them to do it, but afterward, they both said it made their adventure that much more interesting. If you are interested in learning more about the shipwreck of The Dominator, here are 2 fascinating websites:

And that night, when the kids added their Thankful Leaves to our traditional Thankful Tree, both kids shared how thankful they were for adventures! I hope that their love for adventure never ceases! 
Our 2014 Thankful Tree

"I am thankful for adventures
because they always have
something new"
"I am thankful for the beach
because when I go it takes me on
fun adventures"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who's ready for the Ever After High Thronecoming?

My daughter and I were fortunate enough to receive (free of charge) the Ever After High Thronecoming Briar Beauty Doll and Furniture Set from Mattel to test out and give our opinions*. My daughter (9 years old) is a huge fan of the Monster High and Ever After dolls. She is actually on a mission to collect as many of the dolls as she can and is currently at over 80 dolls. I consider her to be an 'expert' in this field. 

Briar Beauty fits in the
binding of the book.
How cleaver!
So excited!! 
When the box arrived my daughter was so excited. It comes in a big box.  My 1st thought when I saw the product was how clever the design was - the book opening up to make a playset. I love how the doll can be stored in the binding of the "book". It all folds down & opens up for 2 rooms of play and an outside. 
It was very easy to get out of the box and assemble. The pieces all fit and worked well. The directions could have been a little more detailed, but it was easy enough to figure out. The Briar Beauty doll (who is the daughter of Aurora, or better known as Sleeping Beauty) is very pretty and very detailed. Her mask fits in her hand well and can easily be used to hold up against her face. 

We love the holes for
the items to sit on the table
without falling off!
One of my favorite features that sets this apart from other playsets is that it has holes in the tables for the items (cups, cake, etc) to be placed in. This is a big plus. With all our other playsets where things are placed on tables, etc., the slightest movements usually send the items scattering. I love that you can snap the items into the holes and they stay put. I hope they continue to make playsets with this feature. 

Another plus is that all the pieces can be broken down and stored into the bottom of the bed with all the pieces fitting well inside for easy, compact storage. As a mother who is constantly picking up toys and pieces o playsets, this is definitely a nice touch! 

My only complaint is the cardboard "furniture" like the turntable and the flower piece that pops out on the top in the bedroom. 
Turntable made of cardboard. One of my only complaints
While my daughter is extremely careful with her dolls and playsets, I can see these items tearing/ripping/falling apart with others who are not as careful. I think these could have been made of plastic that folded, rather than the cardboard. Aside from that, it is a wonderfully designed playset.

The price tag of $50 is a little much, but I realize you get the doll, the book & playset with furniture. I think around the $35-$40 range would be more appropriate. However, my daughter absolutely loves the Ever After Thronecoming. As soon as it was put together, she got her other Ever After High dolls and started playing with it for hours. All in all it is a very fun & well designed playset and a great addition to the Ever After High line.
hours of Ever After High fun!

*While I was given a free product, all opinions are truthful and my own 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Welcome to my Blog!

I decided to finally take the plunge and start my own blog. I mean why not? Everyone's doing it, right? So I thought about what I love the most ... my family and saving money, and decided I will share with you my savings adventures. I will also be giving reviews of free products I get asked to try through various sites I belong to. I also have a group on Facebook for Holiday savings if you would like to  get in on the deals from there as well ...
From time to time I will also share my adventures with my family ... we are always searching for our next adventure!
taken at Oak Alley Plantation (June 2014) in Vacherie,  LA