Life by Cynthia: November 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Creating New Family Traditions: Baking With My Boy

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving break. My little guy got sick right before his break and missed a couple of days of school. We have a little bit of school work to make up but I am so glad that he is feeling much better now and that he is very excited for the holidays. I myself have been a bit run down, but I too am looking forward to some quality family time. Tonight was a GREAT night. With the help of Betty Crocker Cookie Mix, my little boy baked cookies for me instead of the other way around!

Our plan was to bake a batch (or two) of cookies then set up our Christmas Tree. Our son has been asking relentlessly to set up and decorate our tree! He fell asleep before the cookies cooled... so we will save the decorations for tomorrow!

This tuckered out child baked his first batch of cookies.

Before I share our baking experience, I must ask: What are your all time favorite cookies? Or are you like me and have an appreciation for any and all cookies? As long as it is fresh from the oven, I'm in! To be honest, we don't often bake sweets so this was an extra special treat for my little guy! It was fun and super easy.

"Oatmeal for Mommy, Chocolate Chip for the Kid, Peanut Butter for Daddy, and Sugar Cookie for Santa" ~ The Kiddo

The most recent school project that my son worked on was about sharing Thanksgiving traditions. He knows that my sister, my mom, and I all help each other to prepare our Thanksgiving meal. He wanted to help out by more than just setting the table this year. He and I have cooked together many times so his request didn't surprise me. We do our Turkey Day in a bit of a pot luck style. Each of us is takes on a dish (along with sides). My little guy is on board for cookies. I absolutely LOVE that he wants to be involved.

With the help of Betty Crocker (and some from mom), this kid is set. He read the directions out loud and then took off running. I am impressed that this kid can crack an egg into a mixing bowl without getting any eggshell in there!

What started off as his desire to help turned into a total take over of the process. I did not mind at all. I supervised (a little) while he ran the show! I like watching cooking shows, especially when the show is put on by my kid! He did a great job. I didn't bake my first batch of cookies until I was about 10 years old. This guy is 6.

I would say that from start to finish it was a total success. We made a run to our local Walmart store to scope out the flavors. There were so many choices! We picked out our favorites. I am now wishing that I tried some of the other flavors. Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice! Doesn't that sound good? I talked myself out of it because if my child didn't go for the flavors, then I would have been forced to eat the entire batch all by myself. Maybe that could be a good thing! I'll go back for some!

Update: We got the decorations on the tree the following day. All is well and we are ready! From our family to yours, we wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Holiday season with your loved ones! Make those memories and create your traditions!

A photo posted by Gerald Labrador (@geraldlabrador) on

Your turn! I would love to know how you celebrate your family traditions. Share!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Celebrating Universal Children's Day With IKEA San Diego, Let's Play!

My favorite people in the world are children. I admire their honest, curious, and resilient nature. I am soaking up every moment of childhood with our only child. My favorite thing to do is to watch our boy play and enjoy life. I wish this for all parents and children. Every child should have a life filled with play.

We attended a blogger event at IKEA San Diego and I wanted to share our experience. First off, my son and I absolutely LOVE when we have the opportunity to attend events like this together so my thanks go out to team IKEA and Kylie @Made by a Princess for including the kiddos.

The event was appropriately held on Universal Children's Day, Sunday, November 20, 2016. We gathered with blogger families at IKEA San Diego 2149 Fenton Parkway San Diego, CA 92108.

We got to play! At the event we learned about the new IKEA Good Cause Campaign "Let's Play for Change". The campaign focuses on children's right to play and develop. We fully support our child and encourage play in his life! It saddens me that there are many children in the world that are not afforded the opportunity to simply play in an environment that is safe. It is heartbreaking. From children with disabilities that may feel left out, children that are struggling with poverty, or those living in nations in conflict - it is a terrible plight for the youngest, most innocent people of our world. I was happy to learn that the IKEA Foundation is seeking to help organizations that are focused on the little ones in need.

Here is how we can help when we shop at IKEA from November 20 - December 24, 2016:

For every toy, play furniture item, or children's book sold, the IKEA Foundation will donate $1. Funds raised will support children's right to play and develop. Some soft toys are only $.99, they still qualify, $1 will go to the campaign! Organizations that benefit include: Save the Children, UNICEF, War Child, Special Olympics, Handicap International, and Room To Read.

Playing with the Garcia Boys! Blogger Buddies!

In countries from all around the world, children were invited to a drawing competition in which the winning designs were chosen for a special limited soft toys collection. My son is a budding artist and is thinking of entering in the future!

These soft toys were designed by children!

IKEA Blogger Breakfast

The 6 children’s rights groups that will receive funds are organizations that support children affected by disabilities, the Syrian conflict, unsafe migration and poverty. To learn more visit IKEA Foundation and please watch the video below.

Disclosure: We attended the IKEA Blogger Breakfast as invited guests. We enjoyed a hosted breakfast and received a gift bag for our participation. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Weekend: Sing Saturday At AMC Theaters

Illumination Entertainment, Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres announced a Thanksgiving weekend event for audiences of all ages: “Sing Saturday,” ‘Sing Saturday’ marks the biggest advance-screening program in the history of Universal Pictures. Sing officially arrives in theaters on December 21, 2016, but you will have the opportunity to see it this weekend!

FREE nationwide screenings on Saturday, November 26th at 10am! Click here for a list of participating theaters.

Important details:

  • Admission is on a first-come, first-served basis
  • At least 200 free tickets available at each theater location
  • Free tickets available at the box office starting at 9:00 AM
  • Doors will open at 9:00 AM

Check out the official trailer!

The film stars Academy Award ® winners Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, alongside Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Grammy Award- nominated Tori Kelly.

Who's in? Watch the trailer and comment with one of your favorite songs! There are a lot!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Comfort Food, Filipino Style! Kare Kare (Oxtail Stew) + GIVEAWAY!

My fondest food memories come from what my mom prepared for us in the "big pot". When I was a child and saw the biggest pot that we owned on the stove, I KNEW that I would be having one of my favorite foods at meal time! Thinking back, my favorite comfort foods (Filipino food that is) always came from that large pot on the stove. Kare kare, adobo, and nilaga to name a few!

My favorite pot. Fond memories for sure! I brought out the "big pot" to cook for my little family of three! The other day our  6 year old son asked me to make kare kare, one of my favorite Filipino dishes from my childhood. First off, kare kare is a savory peanut sauce based stew. I was elated when my son asked me to make some.

World Kitchen sent me their REVERE 10 Piece Cookware set AND want to give one of my blog friends the chance to win a 2-piece frying pan set. I will list the giveaway information below.

There are many ways to make kare kare and I've seen it made with varied meats. I am a fan of good old oxtail. Some folks add tripe, but I have never been a fan so I just skip it. Veggies do get loaded into my version. I can't always find the "right" beans (sitaw) but I make do with what is available.

I wish that I could say that I had an exact recipe to share with you! They simply don't exist in my world when it comes to Filipino dishes. I have asked many a Filipino elder to share their recipes. ALWAYS the same reply... add: this, that, and the other then cook until it's done. Cryptic. HOW MUCH of each ingredient? Measurements? For how long? At what temperature? Forget about it! I've learned through trial and error and now I just wing it to too. You'll "just know", they say. My suggestion: find a recipe online, follow it loosely and make it your own. They do sell flavoring packets for kare kare, but to me it just isn't the same!

6.5-quart stock pot with lid

Tenderizing the oxtail takes time, but it is worth it. I've tried methods to rush the process but have found that the way that Mom used to do it is best! Take the time to build this dish with love! Look closely below and you can see the Quick Measure Marks inside the pot! Cool right?!

While the oxtail continues to tenderize, I prep the veggies and saute them a bit. You can easily skip this step, but I don't.


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The 10 Piece Stainless Steel Set (MSRP $229) includes the following:
  •   8-inch fry pan
  • 10-inch fry pan
  • 2-quart sauce pan with lid
  • 3-quart sauce pan with lid
  • 6.5-quart stock pot with lid
  • 3-quart sauté pan with lid

There are so MANY features to fall in love with! I am most impressed with Nest & Protect™ – The interlocking handles elevate pans for scratch-free, space saving storage!

  • Copper Confidence Core™ – Aluminum encapsulated stainless steel base features a copper disc at the center for quicker and more even heating to help cook foods up to 50 percent faster than heavy gauge pans
  • Nest & Protect™ – Innovative interlocking handles elevate pans for scratch-free, space saving storage (patent pending design also compatible between stainless steel and aluminum)
  • Quick Measure Marks – Laser-engraved easy reference measurement marks included in sauce pans, stock pots and Dutch ovens
  • Stay Cool Handles – Dual-riveted stainless steel and phenolic handles stay cool for maximum comfort and safety
  • Classic Stainless Steel – Resists discoloration, does not react with food or alter flavors
  • Cooktop Compatibility – Compatible with all cooktop surfaces, including induction
  • Tempered Glass Dome Lids – Lock in heat and moisture and make checking cooking status quick and easy
  • Interchangeable Lids for All Vessels – Compatible between both stainless steel and aluminum; Sauté Pan, Dutch Oven, Stock Pot and 10” Fry Pan can share the same lid
  • Oven Safe – Up to 350 degrees; Dutch Oven and Braising Pans up to 500 degrees without lid
  • Drip-Free Pouring Rims – Transfer liquids or food without making a mess
  • Dishwasher safe – For effortless clean-up
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

Enter to WIN: REVERE® Copper Confidence Core™ 2-pc Stainless Steel Medium Frying Pan Starter Set using the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck! Giveaway open to U.S. Residents 18+ and ends 11/21/16.

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Get social with REVERECookware!

For more GIVEAWAYS from other bloggers, I suggest  visiting Running with SD Mom and Erica Finds! They host a Wednesday GIVEAWAY Roundup and you can enter to #WinAllThePrizes!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 10: Throwback Thursday

NaBloPoMo Day 10

Looking back to my high school graduation. 1989.

I have lived long enough to see that anything is possible. I have seen change in the world. The good and the bad. I am both thankful and sad. I am both hopeful and discouraged. Feeling conflicted and it is exhausting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 9: Wordless Wednesday - Be Happy

Day 9 NaBloPoMo. Feeling spent. A healthy smile to get through the day. Short post better than no post. Stay up friends.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 8: Election Day 2016

Day 8 of NaBloPoMo. Struggling with migraine pain today.

Election Day 2016 and also my husband's birthday. We just blew out the candles and had cake. Happy at home while waiting on the election results.

I voted. End of post.

Monday, November 7, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 7: Thanksgiving Thoughts

We are now on Day 7 of #NaBloPoMo and I have been blogging every single day. I am glad that BlogHer challenged me to up my game and do a daily post.

Today, I'll share a Thanksgiving memory.

This is my all time favorite Thanksgiving photo. Our little baby boy taking his place for his very first Thanksgiving feast. I love his chubby little baby face and am thankful that my husband snapped a photo with him and the turkey! This kid is such a blessing to us. We were a bit on the older side when we were gifted with parenthood. We had a scare during pregnancy. 

Our bundle of love was born healthy and is growing up happy and loved. I thank God for him every single day. 

 November 2010

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday. I wanted to share a photo of the day celebrated as a daddy. I have these two to remain thankful for, even when they try their best to drive me bananas! It is hard to believe that six years have flown by us so quickly.

November 2010

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Style Made Simple

The weather is getting cooler and the excitement of the upcoming holiday season is building at our house! What may start off as a cool morning can quickly turn into a quite warm afternoon here in San Diego. Once the sun sets, the temperature can dip down just as fast. My simple fix: layers. I found a simple solution that is stylish and comfortable. Enter Cuddl Duds! I found my Cuddl Duds at Kohl's. I now have added quite a bit to my collection! So far, I am the happy owner of a long sleeve crewneck top, a long sleeved v-neck top, leggings, a hooded wrap, and Cuddl Duds socks! I really took advantage of the opportunity to stock up! Kohl's was having a sale AND I had a coupon!

Check out my go-to Cuddl Duds staple! I am loving this Cuddl Duds Fleecewear with Stretch Hooded Wrap. The material is soft and warm. It is one of the coziest pieces that I have. Bonus: it has thumbholes, hand pockets, and it is hooded. Not to mention that it goes with anything and everything. I love the soft fleece material so much that I purchased the matching Cuddl Duds Fleecewear with Stretch Leggings!


  • Relaxed fit
  • Hand pockets
  • Thumbholes for effortless layering
  • Spandex allows for easy movement all day long
  • Incredibly soft hand
  • 94% Polyester, 6% Spandex

Soccer season is starting soon and I know that this hooded wrap will be with me on the soccer fields! We are also now a Scouts family so this will in the rotation for outings and scout meetings too! I am ready!

I went to TWO Kohl's stores in search of my size and style choices. Visit your area Kohl's for the latest styles!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Being Mom Is A Lifestyle. Get Comfy With It.

I recently shopped at Kohl's and fell for Cuddl Duds separates. There are so many styles and color choices to choose from. I wasn't the only Kohl's customer to discover this as they were sold out of my size in styles that I wanted. I did score a few great items and I will be back to Kohl's for more!

I needed to jazz up my "ready-to-go" wear arsenal with some colors, patterns, and prints. Cuddl Duds delivers. I found the Women's Red Multi Stripe Crew Neck Top in Cuddl Duds Softwear with Stretch and it is PERFECT for our on-the-go/impromptu jaunts around San Diego!

On a recent Sunday afternoon we were invited to celebrate our nephew's birthday. After the lunchtime celebration we stuck around to explore the area. Of course, snapped a few photos. As you can see, I have a young son. He's a pretty active kid and I always find the need to keep up! Being comfortable and able to play is a must! It is nice not to have to fuss over what to wear! I threw on my brand new Cuddl Duds long sleeved crew neck top and a pair of shorts and I was set. Lately, I've had so much going on in my head with a to do list that is begging for attention that it is so nice to eliminate the what to wear dilemma. 

In San Diego it does cool down every so often so this is a great layering piece! I'll put my new top to good use throughout fall and well into winter. Admittedly, our winter is a mild one which makes layering a MUST.

It was another great weekend in the books for my family and I.  I have a few more Cuddl Duds items not pictured in this post that I will be posting to share my love of Cuddl Duds, so please stay tuned for more! There was a sale for 25% OFF when I was there and I used my phone for a Kohl's coupon offering an additional 20% OFF, SCORE! I love good deals and great clothes.  I will heading back to Kohl's for a few more Cuddl Duds pieces! They would also be GREAT as a holiday gift! Check out your local Kohl's and find Cuddl Duds in the intimates section. Hurry for best selection!

At Kohl's you will find Cuddl Duds socks, hats, gloves, and scarves in addition to apparel items!

Friday, November 4, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 4: Fall Entertainment | Pass the Popcorn

I am still going strong with my daily blog posts. Thank you for the inspiration BlogHer! Sending virtual high fives and thank yous to my fellow NaBloPoMo post every day tribe! It is still not too late to join the party. You have until midnight PST tomorrow, Nov. 5 to join the blogroll using the form which can be found HERE - this will enter you into the sweepstakes to win a free pass to #BlogHer17 in Orlando next June.

Here is today's writing prompt:

Which fall shows should totally be canceled already?

First off, I am not following any new fall shows. I am, and have been, a Netflix kind of gal. I like to find a show that I like and binge watch. Get this - we don't even subscribe to cable TV. We cancelled that noise years ago. We watch network shows/news sometimes. We stream Netflix or Amazon other times.

Fall Family Photo (a couple of years ago)

Since I cannot really speak on what show should be canceled, I will blog about what I am looking forward to watching (or watching AGAIN) both from our couch and at the movie theater.

The Edge of Seventeen
In theaters November 18. I was fortunate to catch an advanced screening of The Edge of Seventeen. I was entertained and loved this coming of age film. GO SEE THIS MOVIE! If you have ever watched and loved any John Hughes movie, you will be pleased. The entire cast is great, the writing is great, I laughed... THIS is a movie that I want to watch over and over just like I did with Sixteen Candles ages ago! This generation is lucky: Kelly Fremon Craig, just wow. Hughes-ish but, to me, even better! Look out for ERWIN, he killed it and I am an instant Hayden Szeto fan. See it. Just see it.

One of the stars asked me to share the news. DONE!

In theaters November 23. We love Disney. At the Disney Social Media Moms conference earlier in the year we were treated to behind the scenes action, the making of, and an early peek into this movie and I am in awe of the production. I am fortunate to be attending an advanced screening and I CANNOT wait!

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
On Netflix November 25. I cannot tell you exactly how long I've been waiting, but it seems like a lifetime at this point. The light at the end of the tunnel is near! That tunnel will take me back to Stars Hollow! I can hardly wait!

NaBloPoMo November 2016
Thank you for taking the time to read my post! Before you head away from my blog, I hope that you will share back with a comment to the following questions:

Which fall shows should totally be canceled already? OR what "must-see" recommendations do you have for me? Go!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 3: Let's Be Honest

Thanks to BlogHer I have been challenged to write a blog post every single day for the month of November. Every November thousands of bloggers pledge to post every single day. Who else is participating in  National Blog Posting Month?

We are on to Day 3 of NaBloPoMo! It's not too late to join in! I'll need lots of encouragement and hope that you will help me on my way! Please chime in and keep me going!

Here is today's writing prompt:

If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom?

Let's be honest, blogging EVERY SINGLE DAY isn't always cool.

Today I will be completely honest with BlogHer and myself. Initially I was excited and encouraged to write every single day. Today was not one of those days. Truth be told, I wanted to skip it. I obviously didn't. I wanted to though! But I don't like to back down from a challenge. Especially when the challenge is with myself. So begrudgingly, I am throwing out this blog post.

I feel like crap today. I have a migraine. I felt the need to concede. The thought to ditch this whole NaBloPoMo business DID cross my mind. Instead, I have THIS to say to my headache: You lose. Crappy post or not, I posted today. I succeeded.

Thanks for reading this sorry (but honest) post. Please excuse me while I get some rest. See you all tomorrow.

I hope that you are all hanging in there! I was not going to quit! 3 days in the books!

NaBloPoMo November 2016
Thank you for taking the time to read my post! Before you head away from my blog, I hope that you will share back with a comment to the following questions:

If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 2: Be Brave

We are on to Day 2 of NaBloPoMoNational Blog Posting Month. It's not too late to join in! Every November thousands of bloggers pledge to post every single day. I'll need lots of encouragement and hope that you will help me on my way! Please chime in and keep me going!

Here is today's writing prompt:

When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

I was contemplating what brave feat that I have conquered recently. I didn't feel like sharing a story of personal bravery. It just didn't feel natural and I don't want to use this space to boast. Not today anyway.

It didn't take much to get my mind to shift on to bravery that I have witnessed. I hear the word BRAVE and my immediate thought: HERO. I have a hero that I think so highly of. Of course I hold my family in high regard and many of them have been very brave examples in my life. They are a bit shy when it comes to me sharing so I decided not to write about them at this time.

The hero that came top of mind when considering this post is a person that I have admired since I met her. YES - a female hero! She is brave, confident, and I have never seen her without a happy, positive attitude. She is the person that I wished that I was at her age (and even now at 45)! You see, I was shy, awkward, and not very confident during childhood. This girl is a polar opposite.

My hero is in the first grade. She is my son's classmate and former soccer teammate. For privacy, I am not showing the children's faces in the post. I wanted to share this image of the tiny little girl that is a HUGE inspiration to me. See how little she is? Well she is BIG in my book!

My child hero! She is a firecracker and I love her spirit. She never hesitates to give me a great big smile and cheerful hello every time I see her! She may be small in stature but the biggest, boldest, bravest person I know! She is chatty (I barely spoke as a kid), she is generous with her beautiful smile (I barely made eye contact as a kid), and she is fearless on the playing field (where I was hesitant and afraid to get hurt). I admire her confidence. She asks questions without hesitation, she is outgoing, and funny too!

She is the smallest one on the soccer field but she is fierce! I strive to be mighty like this little one! I can hear her girly (but loud and commanding) voice in my head shouting "pass me the ball" or "over here" then see her chasing down the the opposing team for the steal- her opponent sometimes almost twice her size. 

Fearless. A force to be reckoned with. Inspiring. Brave.

NaBloPoMo November 2016
Thank you for taking the time to read my post! Before you head away from my blog, I hope that you will share back with a comment to the following questions:

When was the last time you did something brave? What happened? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 1: Bad Days and How I Cope

Oh hello November! If you didn't already know, every November thousands of bloggers pledge to post every single day for National Blog Posting Month. I've decided to join NaBloPoMo 2016! It sounds like a big undertaking, but I will try my hand at it. Blogging every single day? I'll need lots of encouragement and hope that you will help me on my way! Please chime in and keep me going!

Here is today's writing prompt:

When you're having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?

Some people like to talk things out when bad days happen. I don't. Since childhood, I find the need to cope quietly and alone. I help myself by pressing pause and just allowing my mind be still. It isn't easy as it sounds. I often get stressed out and anxious, those closest to me can attest to that. Even with little stresses (like going to a blogging conference) I can find myself over thinking, worrying unnecessarily, and having what feels like mini panic attacks. I don't think that it is obvious to strangers (or maybe it is). As long as I can remember I have felt socially awkward but think that I disguised it fairly well. When I find myself having one of those days bad days (usually in social settings i.e. conferences), I help myself by acknowledging my discomfort and taking deep, slow breaths. I've used Natural Vitality Calm (the Anti-Stress Drink), Stress Away Essential Oil (Young Living), and sipped on calming camomile tea and it seems to help. That covers my awkward social discomfort. I am lucky and have made friends along my blogging journey and it has gotten so much easier. The funny thing about my discomfort (and its causes) is that I LOVE attending events! I really really do. The people that I meet are great, I just need to focus on not getting so worked up!

With the daily stresses of life, I know that we all need breaks. I always plan on heading to the yoga studio, going to the spa for a massage, or soaking in a bath to melt away bad days! I have not yet mastered the art of making enough time for self care. I have a gift certificate to my favorite yoga studio as well as a spa gift card and some great bath salts ready and waiting. Sometimes we all NEED to just check out for a mental health day! I need to get to it and take advantage of the resources that I have. Who's coming with me?

A sure fire way to feeling better is hugs, kisses, and silly time with my family! I live with two goofballs. They are my favorite fix for the tough days.

NaBloPoMo November 2016I would LOVE to know how you take care of your mental health when having a bad day! Perhaps I can adopt some of your methods!

My question for you before you head away my blog: When you're having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?

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