Thursday, December 30, 2010

Take the Metro Gold Line to the Rose Parade + Float Viewing Hours & Prices

When I was a teenager my father took us for a number of years to camp out the night before the Rose Parade. It was a night filled with fun, excitement, meeting new people, and staying up all night long. We had the time of our lives!

I probably won't try camping out again until my own kids were teenagers but I am considering waking up early to view the parade in person. One way to get to the parade is by using the Metro Gold Line. There are several stops one or two blocks away from the parade route which is a lot closer than any parking spot you'll find. You can catch the Gold Line at it's start on Atlantic Blvd just south of the 60 Freeway and leave your car at the Metro lot across the street.

Fares are $1.50 each way. Two children under the age of 5 may ride for free with each paying adult. The timetable says it takes 50 minutes to get from Atlantic to the stops in Pasadena, which is probably faster than if you were driving during the pre and post parade traffic. Click here for more information about catching the Metro to the Rose Parade. Save $1.50 by getting a really early start! Metro is waiving fares on New Years Eve from 9pm - 2am.

The Gold Line is running about every 20 minutes from midnight to 5am, then every 15 minutes to Union Station for the rest of the day. The return trip from Pasadena runs every 7.5 minutes. Click here for more details on the New Years Gold Line timetable. Take the train to the last stop at Sierra Madre Villa and watch the parade there, you're more likely to find space on the train on the way back since it's the first stop on the return trip.

If you want to brave the cold and camp out for a great spot here is a great article I found from last year: Click here to read it!

Want to view the floats up close? They will be available for public viewing after the parade. Tickets are $10 per person, children 5 and under are free. The hours are as follows:
  • Saturday January 1 from 1pm - 5pm
  • Sunday January 2  from 9am - 5pm
  • Seniors and Disabled Visitors can view on Sunday from 7-9am.   

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Extreme Couponing Show on TLC: See how the experts do it!

There is a tv show airing Wednesday night, December 29 on The Learning Channel called "Extreme Couponing". It profiles four couponers and we get to see how they save hundreds of dollars on groceries all with coupons!

For details about one of the Extreme Couponers in the episode check out Krazy Coupon Lady's article here.

For a list of when the show is airing click here to check out the TLC schedule. Remember that the schedule is on east coast time, so set your DVRs accordingly!

UPDATE: If you caught the show and want to read the Q&A session with the second couponer on the show, check it out here: The Krazy Coupon Lady!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ice Skating! Local Rinks set up for the Holidays in the Los Angeles Area

I used to do a lot of roller skating as a kid, so the first time I went ice skating it was just like roller skating. The only difference is when you fall it's cold and if you stay down too long your butt gets wet. If you want to share the joy of ice skating with the kids here are a few temporary ice skating rinks set up nearby for the holidays. 

The closest is in Pershing Square, Downtown LA. The cost is $8 for one hour of skating including rental. The rink is up until January 17. For details about skating downtown, click here.

The city of La Mirada has a rink that is up until February 21. Prices range from $6 for a 30 minute sesssion to $79 for a premium pass, all prices include skate rental. La Mirada also offers 30 minute skating lessons. For more details click here.

The November/December issue of AAA magazine listed a few more skating rinks including one in Irvine, Santa Monica, Riverside, and a couple in San Diego. To see the AAA article, click here.

TIP: If you have young kids, for the first time make sure you have a child to adult ratio of 1:1. The little ones will need a lot of hand holding!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Free Tickets to the LA Zoo: Guess my grocery total and win!!!

Win Two Free Tickets to the Los Angeles Zoo!!!
I've had my best coupon savings shopping trip today at Albertsons. I used so many coupons I asked if they could open another register just for me so I wouldn't cause a backup and they did!

Guess how much I spent on this cartload full of groceries 
& you may win 2 tickets to the Los Angeles Zoo!!!

To enter the giveaway, guess how much I spent on the groceries shown and either comment below (make sure you are signed in or leave your email so I can contact you if you win), comment on my Facebook page, or tweet me your guess!

Limit three entries per person, one per site:, Facebook, or Twitter. Post by midnight Sunday 12/26/10 to enter. The closest guess to my total will win! I'll post a photo of my receipt when the contest is closed. The winner will be contacted via email and have 3 days to respond or the next closest entry will be chosen. Good luck!

Congratulations to the winner: Ashley C. with the closest guess of $7.58!

Thanks to the generosity of the Polly's Pies I have consolation prizes for all entries! Everyone who entered will be contacted and mailed 4 coupons for a free slice of pie at Polly's Pies!

So how did I spend only $12.09 on all these groceries at Albertsons?
  • I had 7 coupons for $20 off a grocery purchase. A few weeks earlier I took advantage of the gift card promotion and loaded up on gift cards. For every $100 in gift cards I got a coupon for $20 off of groceries. That's how $140 came off the total.
  • I used $21.10 in my own coupons, some were as little as 35 cents off, some were $1 off.
It was by far my best grocery haul ever, but I owe it all to Albertsons for running a great promotion. Sometimes I do save quite a bit at the grocery store, usually around 30-40% of the total, but never with a cartload full of groceries. Many of the items I never would have bought at the grocery store, like the Tide, Cascade, and floor cleaner but I took advantage of the high value coupons I had and stocked up! Thanks to all who entered!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vacation: Suggestions on how to keep your kids from getting bored and driving you nuts!

I was inspired by a Facebook friend who posted,
3 weeks vacation, what to do?
I quickly rattled off a few ideas and thought I'd share with everyone here. If you are lucky enough to be home with the kids during vacation here are some ideas on what to do to keep everyone from getting bored.
  • Parkapalooza: Prepare a picnic lunch and visit as many parks as you can in one day
  • IKEA Covina: let the little ones play in Smaland and the big kids can test out all the furniture
  • Polly's Pies: Friday night date night with free childcare
  • YMCA: Kids under 12 can go to the supervised KidZone, and you and kids 12 and older can exercise
  • Library: check out books and videos, attend a storytime
  • Redbox: rent a newly released DVDs
  • Costco: try every sample available, samples are usually available after noon 
  • Snow: Go up to the mountains and find a hill to slide down
  • Christmas Lights: take a drive and see neighborhood displays
  • Shops at Montebello Mall: visit the play area for the little kids & get a sample of See's candy
  • Hiking: discover some local trials or just walk along the bike path on the riverbeds
  • Pool: Visit a friend who has a pool in their backyard or apartment building.
Stuck at home? Here is my go to list for when the kids don't know what to do:

  • Mail pictures or letters to your favorite Disney character: most actually write back! Send them c/o Disneyland, 1313 S. Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802
  • Play-doh: bring out a plastic knives for cutting and small plastic containers or lids and let them be creative
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Homework-like pages (found at 99 cent store, Target, Walmart, Costco)
  • Play in the yard: clip pillowcases around their necks and they are instant superheroes
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood and see who can find the most number "8"s
  • Bubbles: inside or outside the house
  • Read books: either together or older kids can read to little ones (I pay my son $1 per hour of reading to sisters)
  • Stickers: decorate a cereal, tissue, or Christmas box
  • Board games and card games: even 2-3 year olds can play "Go Fish"
  • Blocks, Legos, dominoes: use them all at once and create an empire
  • Kid friendly websites:,,,,,,,,
  • Bake something together, cookies, cake, bread, muffins
  • Drag out some toys from the garage or under the bed that the kids forgot were there
  • Drape a blanket over the kitchen table to make a playhouse or fort
  • Make a book: fold several plain white pages together, staple to make a binding and make a book
  • Have a movie night/afternoon: darken the room, pop popcorn, and serve drinks w/ Red Vines straws
  • Invite their friends over: kids usually play better with a new kid in the mix

Friday, December 17, 2010

YMCA Montebello Promotion: No Joining Fee! Save $75!

Have you always wanted to join the YMCA but have been putting it off because of the costly $75 registration fee?

Well, wait no more!

The Shops at Montebello Mall has generously offered to pay the joining fee for all new YMCA members!

Follow these easy steps to get your registration waived:
  1. Visit the YMCA gift wrapping booth in front of Macy's at the Mall.
  2. Pay $3 - $5 to get a gift wrapped.
  3. Take the wrapping receipt to the YMCA and sign up for membership!
Already have a membership? You can "Gift" a membership to a friend or family member. Purchase a 1, 2, or 3 month gift certificate from the YMCA and get a receipt for gift wrap at the YMCA booth at the mall and wrap them up as a gift!

This free registration promotion ends when the YMCA closes down their gift wrap booth on December 24 at 3pm, so hurry and become a member now or get your family & friends signed up today! The receipt to waive membership is valid from now through the month of January, so if you can't sign up right away you have some time, but you can only get the receipt until Christmas eve!

Visit the YMCA at 2000 W. Beverly Blvd, Montebello 90640 or call 323-887-9622

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Parent Shopping Day!!! Drop off daycare service for last minute errands & shopping!!

Because errands are much easier to accomplish without kids...the daycare center where my children have gone for the past seven years is offering time-crunched parents a much needed Shopping Day!!!

Parents can drop their kids off for a few hours or all day to finish
last minute shopping and errands for the approaching holiday!

The daycare is run by Sylvia Cisneros, a wonderful 20 year experienced pre-school teacher licensed with the state of California to operate a home daycare center. Her home is in a quiet neighborhood adjacent to the Montebello Golf Course. She has a large front room just for the daycare, backyard where the kids can play outside, and a newly remodeled bathroom & kitchen. Every day she feds healthy homemade kid friendly meals in her kitchen and is very accommodating to parent schedules.

Parent Shopping Days
Monday 12/20 through Thursday 12/23
 8:00am to 5:30pm

Call Sylvia at 323-725-3116 to make arrangements for the day and to discuss rates for the number of children and number of hours care will be needed. You'll need to fill out a Short Stay form with information about you and your child. Sylvia is great! You'll be glad you called her, both you and the kids will be happier at the end of the day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Let the YMCA wrap your Christmas Gifts at the Shops at Montebello Mall!

The YMCA is hosting a
Holiday Gift Wrap Fundraiser at the Shops at Montebello!

They'll be stationed in front of Macy's starting this Friday December 17 all the way through Christmas Eve! The gift wrapping center will be open from 11am - 9pm and until 3pm on Christmas eve. All wrapping donations go to YMCA scholarships! For more information contact the YMCA at 323-887-9622 or stop by the gift wrap center!

Ponytail Girls Softball Sign-Ups: Saturday 12/18 @ Grant Rea Park!

Girls ages 4-14 are wanted to participate in the Montebello Ponytail Girls Softball Association! Sign ups are happening this Saturday 12/18 at Grant Rea Park from 10:00am - 2:00pm!

If you miss this round of sign ups other dates include:
  •  December 22 6:00-8:00pm
  • January 5 from 6:00 - 8:00pm
  • January 8th from 10:00am - 2:00pm
  • January 12 6:00-8:00 pm
  • January 15 10:00 - 2:00pm
  • January 19 6:00-8:00pm
  • January 22 10:00 - 2:00pm
 The organization is also seeking coaches and managing staff. Click on the photo of the flyer below for details or visit the organization on Facebook or their website,! Have fun out there girls!

*There is an error with the flyer. Registration is $115.

Free PennySaver Ad or Holiday Greeting! Deadline Thursday 12/16 at 4pm!

Penny Saver is running their Free Holiday Greeting Promotion again! Write a message to your kids or have your kids write a message to their grandparents or other family member! The greeting will appear in the first few pages of the PennySaver magazine under "Messages".

Deadline to submit is Thursday, December 16th. Tweet (#pennyshout) or call (800-995-3333) to submit your 15 word message, include the zip code where the greeting is to appear. Greetings will be published the week of December 22nd. The best thing: it's totally free!

Did you miss the opportunity to sell that stuff in your garage at the last yard sale weekend? Get rid of it in the PennySaver! Private party sales ads for less than $100 are free! Rolling deadline is every Thursday by 5pm for the next week's issue.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Local Christmas Light Displays + Boat Parades + Americana at Brand + Theme Parks

I had a special request from Karina on Facebook to write about Christmas light displays. I've taken my kids to the display at Griffith Park since they were born, but it's not up this year due to construction, so I had to dig a little deeper and this is what I came up with.


A website in Santa Clarita has a list of neighborhoods not too far from here that are heavy on the holiday displays. The neighborhoods are:
  • Christmas Tree Lane, Altadena
  • Balian House, Altadena
  • Christmas Tree Lane, San Marino
  • Christmas Tree Lane, Long Beach
  • Canals of Naples, Long Beach
  • Candy Cane Lane, Woodland Hills

For driving directions and the author's tips and information about visiting each neighborhood, visit:

TIP: Check out the light displays on a weekday when it's raining. Even a little rain will keep people home, less crowds = better viewing!


I found an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times about the Americana at Brand shopping center.

You can experience snow and light displays every night! Click on the picture to see a larger image or for details call 818-637-8982 or visit

There are a few boat parades this weekend and next week. I found the following information from the November/December issue of AAA magazine.
Dec. 19, San Diego Bay Parade of Lights.
Dec. 15-19, Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
Dec. 17-18, Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights and Fireworks.
Dec. 17-23, Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights.

Since the kids are off of school next week you can spend some time at an amusement park. All the theme parks have holiday events or decorations set up.
  • Disneyland has it's a Small World set up with lights and a light show (every 15 minutes?), a decorated castle, and snowfall with Christmas fireworks Main Street.
  • Legoland has fireworks, displays, and a special New Years Eve party.
  • Sea World has daily holiday themed shows from December 18-31. Click here to read a previous article about an annual pass for $60.
  • Universal Studios set up Whoville complete with snow from December 18-January 2.
  • Knott's "Merry" Farm has the free admission with the Toys for Tots promotion through December 19 and has their annual Christmas craft fair set up in the park.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

RedBox DVD Rental: 3 Rentals for only $1!!! Just in time for Christmas vacation!

Allow me introduce you to two very good things: RedBox Groupon

RedBox is a self serve DVD rental kiosk found in supermarkets. There is one in Albertsons on Via Campo, two in Ralph's on Atlantic & Riggin in Monterey Park, one outside of the 7-11 on Pomona Blvd & Wilcox, and inside the Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera. It's really easy to use. You chose what you want to rent swipe your credit card, which is then charged $1.10 and you have the DVD until 9pm the next day. If you want to keep it additional days it's $1.10 per day. To return the DVD, go to ANY kiosk hit "return" on the screen, slide it in the slot and you are done. It's so easy my kid can do it.
Groupon is a website that offers daily deals for stores and services for a specific geographic region. Once signed up with the site you get a daily email for a bargain in your area. I've gotten Santa pictures and Gymboree classes for half price. If you like the deal of the day you pay online with a credit card and a code or a coupon is instantly emailed to you! It's really easy.

RedBox and Groupon combined their services and is offering a special 3 for $1 DVD Rentals! That is great for you and me because the kids will be off of school after next week and they will be begging to do something, now you can provide them with a whole day of entertainment for only $1! You don't even have to pay tax!

The terms of Groupon say you can buy one for yourself or you can give it as a gift, you simply provide the email addresses of the gift recipient to Groupon when you are making the purchase. The Redbox codes expire 3/10/11, and is not valid on Blu-Ray or Video Games. You will still have to swipe a credit card at the RedBox kiosk but you won't be charged if you return the DVD on time.
It's a great deal. I really like using RedBox and have had great experience and customer service with Groupon, you won't be disappointed!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Saturday Events 12/11: MHS Swapmeet & Hello Kitty Christmas @ Heavenly Choice

Besides the morning Christmas parades in Glendora and Pomona there are two events that are happening in Montebello on Saturday, December 11th, 2010!

Montebello High School Adult Transition Program
Saturday 12/11 Parking Lot on Wilcox & Madison Avenues

The funds collected from this event support the Students with Special Needs program at the high school. In addition to local vendors there will be fresh produce for sale and a DJ to entertain the crowd. You may be able to pick up a Christmas tree at the swapmeet, trees start at $25 for a 5-6 foot Douglas Fir tree.

Hello Kitty Christmas Week @ Heavenly Choice!!!
Now through Thursday 12/16
534 N. Montebello Blvd, Montebello 90640

Free family event that includes face painting, balloons, holiday snacks, and a contest to win Hello Kitty gift bags! Free gift with any $10 purchase and a Hello Kitty "layaway" plan is available. *The Sanrio store is no longer in the mall, Heavenly Choice is one of the few places you can buy Hello Kitty items in Montebello!

Here is the official press release for the event:

Heavenly Choice welcomes Hello Kitty Fans of all ages to our Holiday Hello Kitty Week!!!

Monday, Dec 13 - Thursday, Dec. 16 from 3:00 pm - 7 :00 pm. daily

Enjoy face painting, balloon twisting plus wonderful treats to munch on .

Enter our Santa Contest and you could win one of 10 lucky Hello Kitty Surprise Gift Bags

Save on Christmas Gifts in our great Kids Clearance Corner plus Specials on your Hello Kitty party supplies.

Parents and grandparents it is free so join us one day or every day

Heavenly Choice Plaza 534 N. Montebello Blvd.

For information call 323 728-2728

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

YMCA Montebello: Jingle Bell Mingle! Free fun for the family! Thursday 12/9

The YMCA is hosting a family friendly holiday event! Make sure the kids finish their homework, get dinner on the table, and take the family over to "Jingle Bell Mingle!" The event will be held this Thursday, December 9th from 6-8pm.

The YMCA will have activities for the whole family including karaoke caroling and a visit from Santa! If you bake a great cookie bring the recipe and a few fresh samples with you to enter the "Best Christmas Cookie Contest"

For more details read the flyer below or call the YMCA 323-887-9622 or visit The YMCA is located at 2000 W. Beverly Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. Merry Christmas!

TIP: The Halloween event was very popular. Leave the stroller in the car and it will be easier to navigate among the crafts and activities.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Free Slice of pie at Polly's Pies with any Toys for Tots donation!

Polly's Pies is giving away a free slice of pie with a Toys for Tots donation!

Offer good from now until December 10th! Try a slice of  Banberry, it's delicious!

Santa Fe Springs Tree Lighting Event 2010

The city of Santa Fe Springs is having their annual tree lighting event this Saturday, December 4, 5-8 pm on Town Center Green, located on the corner of Telegraph Rd and Pioneer Blvd.

 In the past I've taken my kids to this event and it's really fun! There are lots of local performances from vocal and band groups from the schools, craft events, and a photo with Santa opportunity for only $2! There are local vendors selling homemade crafts, they may have a snow hill for the kids to play on, and I think there is also a special North Pole mailbox so have the kids bring their letters to Santa just in case, they can put them in the box or hand deliver them  in person.  The Santa Fe Springs tree lighting event isn't as crowded as retail-type tree lighting ceremonies. It's a really nice local community gathering. Bring the stroller, bundle up the kids and enjoy the performances and tree lighting ceremony!

For more information about this event click here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Cards: Shutterfly vs. Costco (psst...I love Shutterfly!)

Elegant Tonal Red Christmas
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

I usually get order my Christmas cards from Costco but this year I'm going to use Shutterfly. If you are debating which one to order your cards through here is a list of how they compare.
  1. Shutterfly offers nearly 200 design choices that can accommodate up to 8 photos. Costco offers 97 designs and can accommodate up to 6 photos.
  2. Both Shutterfly's and Costco's photo cards are printed on photo paper, but Shutterfly offers a selection of cards that print on cardstock and open like "real" cards. Shutterfly's premuim cards can be customized with photos and written text inside and out!
  3. Shutterfly offers two sizes of cards 4"x6" or 5"x7". Costco offers one card size 6"x7.5".
  4. Both come with free envelopes that require only one stamp.
  5. Shutterfly cards start at 32 cents per flat photo card, and you can order as few as 12. Costco cards  are 30 cents each with a minimum order of 50, additional sets of 25 cards are $5.49.
  6. Shutterfly shipping starts at $2.49, unless you order is $50+, use SHIP50 for free shipping. Costco cards have no shipping costs because you pick them up in store. Shutterfly has a service where they will stamp and mail the cards for you, you just provide the mailing addresses!
  7. Shutterfly can get the cards to you in about a week. Costco cards can be picked up within hours.
I hope this helps you make the right choice! Visit Shutterfly or Costco Photo Center to start making your own Holiday card!

TIP: If you get behind in making your Christmas cards you can always send New Years cards instead! Both Shutterfly and Costco offer "Happy New Year" cards.

UPDATE 12/15: Yesterday I got my Christmas cards from Shutterfly, there was a mistake (they said it was my error, but I disagree). I called customer service and they gave me credit to replace the cards, free 2 days shipping, and the new cards have already been shipped! All in less than 24 hours! The cards are set to arrive on the 17th and will be in the mail the same day! Like I said, I love Shutterfly!