Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from Garcia Family and Creative Creatures Photography

A good friend once told me, "You only have your kids for a small amount of time. You have to cherish every moment." I remember this every time my boys reach for a hug or leave a mess in their room. I savor the hugs and use patience with the mess. I only have them for a small moment of time. In a blink of an eye, they'll be in high school then off to live their own lives.

Looking at our recent family photos by Creative Creatures Photography, I can't help but tear up looking at my grown up boys! They are not babies anymore.

My cousin, Wena Lee, owner of Creative Creatures Photography, did a great job at capturing our family's personality. With two squirmy little boys, it's often challenging to get a decent picture, but Wena caught my boys at their best.

I've always loved the colors at the Spanish Village at Balboa Park. I always thought the multicolored walkways, as well as the brightly painted facades were perfect for a fun, lively photo shoot. The colors, for me, are symbolic of the many facets of our lives: God, work and school, individual pastimes, and shared interests.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my loving husband and my two loving boys. God has blessed me with a home filled with happiness, laughter, and love. We are blessed in abundance and have to remember to always to give thanks to Him. I am thankful for the love of family and friends, as well as my rewarding career as a school counselor. I am thankful for the opportunities, experiences, and new friends I've made through my blog. 

Thanks to Wena and Creative Creatures Photography for capturing this moment in time in our family.

Visit or check them out on Facebook to book your family photo session just in time for your holiday greeting cards.

Disclaimer: My family and I received a complimentary photo shoot in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bye, Bye Plastic Grocery Bags! Hello Trolley Bags!

San Diego is the latest city to ban the use of plastic grocery bags. The day after the election, I was surprised to see the stores were already on board, ready to charge their customers for reusable bags. 

Lucky for me, I've scored myself a set of Trolley Bags! I was stopped a few times at my last visit to the grocery store with curious shoppers wanting to know where I got my cool bags. 

How do they work?

I find that with other reusable shopping bags, they are cumbersome and hard to organize. I find myself putting all of my shopping bags inside of one of the bags. Then bagger has a hard time pulling the bags out or they spill out into the cart. It becomes a puzzle trying to figure out which bags will fit the larger items, all the while the line behind me is getting longer and longer.

With the Trolley Bags, they fit just right into the cart so there is no guessing whether you have enough bags to fit all of your items. They are also different colors to help organize the items you've bought. I like to put frozen and cold items in the blue bag (blue like ice) and veggies in the green. The bags are also different sizes to allow for big items like toilet paper, detergent, and gallons of milk. It's super easy to transport your items from cart to car with the sturdy handles and the velcro which closes each bag up.

Here are my bags in my trunk after my Thanksgiving Dinner shopping trip. Those are TWO turkeys inside my orange Trolley bag!

Where can you get my own Trolley Bags?! Visit A few lucky family members will be getting their own set of Trolley Bags this holiday season!

Visit Trolley Bags on Twitter too!

I love, love, love my Trolley Bags! I know you will too!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary set of Trolley Bags in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Let's Play for Change with IKEA

We recently had the privilege to hang out with a few other blogger families at our local IKEA home furnishings store to celebrate World Children's Day and the start of IKEA's Let's Play for Change campaign.

Mommies and kids from the San Diego Filipino Blogger Network

San Diego Mom Bloggers and IKEA Staff
The IKEA Let’s Play for Change campaign focuses on children’s right to play and develop, highlighting the benefits of play for all children. For every children’s book and toy sold from November 20 to December 24, the IKEA Foundation will make a donation of $1 to projects in some of the poorest communities in the world, supporting children’s development and learning, equal participation, sports and of course – play. Locally, Rady's Children's Hospital will be on the receiving end of the Let's Play for Change campaign. 

Here are a few of the items you can purchase to help with the Let's Play for Change campaign!

Kids Bedding
Plush Toys
Costumes and Dress Up Items
For more information about the campaign:

I have to mention IKEA offers an AWESOME breakfast for an even more awesome price! Yummo!

Thanks IKEA for a great morning discovering the great things you all do to make our world a better place, especially for the children! Visit for more information on the Let's Play for Change campaign. 

Disclaimer: My family and I received a complimentary meal and promotional items in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Guest Post: Chipex Bring Life to my Old Car

Guest Post by Garcia Memories Dad

My wife's 2003 Honda Element has seen better days. It’s her daily driver to and from work 50 miles round trip every day. It’s helped her move twice, once into her condo, and another time when we moved into our home together. It’s our workhorse. Its size is misleading as it is able to move a lot of cargo, especially with the seats removed.

Hoping to get a couple more years out of it with 200k miles plus, we were excited to review Chipex paint chip repair system. Being over 10 years old, there are a lot of fine scratches, some chipped paint, and the occasional deep gouge. We ordered the correct factory paint color and once received reviewed the process.

Chipex is 3 step process of painting, blending ,and polishing. The kit consists of paint, a couple of microbrushes, blending solution a small foam block, a paint removal cloth for blending the paint, polish solution, and microfiber polishing cloth.

After washing the car I used a provided microbrush to apply the paint to the scratches and chipped areas. On the fine to medium scratches, I used the paint sparingly. For deeper scratches and gouges, I filled the scratch with a blob of paint and allowed it to dry.

chipped paint to bare metal
After allowing the paint to dry, I moved on to step 2. I wrapped the foam block with the paint removal cloth and applied the blending solution. I proceeded to wipe the excess paint on the repaired areas and let the solution, block, and cloth do the work.

I was amazed how well Chipex worked on the scratches. After applying the paint and blending, most of the scratches were unnoticeable, and polishing made the fix complete.

BEFORE: Fine scratch
AFTER: Fine scratch gone!
The deep gouges were a different story. Most of them were paint chips down to the bare metal. I had to wet sand the paint a little bit, but that was user error. I guess I needed to watch more of the tutorials, or maybe the scratches were wider than what the repair kit was meant for.

After getting the paint smooth and using the 3 to polish the paint, the repairs to the deep gouges were still noticeable, but looked way better than before. I was extremely impressed by the kit, here is hoping for another 100k on this lovable car!

>>> GIVEAWAY <<<
Win Your Own Chipex Paint Repair System

Win a Chipex Bundle #31

Visit for your own Chipex Paint Repair System.

Disclaimer: We received a complimentary Chipex Paint Repair System in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are mine.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Say Cheese with Whiter Teeth with Smile Brilliant

Being a school counselor, I'm in front of people all the time. Sometimes in one-on-one parent conferences, other times in front of groups of students in classroom lessons, or even in workshop settings in front of my peers.

I've always been self-conscious with the color of my teeth. Teeth Stains are not cool! Years of daily cups of coffee have definitely taken it's toll. I know my teeth are yellowish when my kids say, "Ew mom! Your teeth are yellow!" It's super embarrassing. 

Cheese! Here is my BEFORE picture!

Thanks to Smile Brilliant, I was able take a few shades off my yellow teeth. The three step process to get started was super easy. 

Step One: Order the Smile Brilliant System

Step Two: Send off your teeth impressions and wait for your teeth trays to arrive. My teeth trays were delivered to me very quickly. Within the week of me mailing my teeth impressions, my teeth trays had arrived! They were a perfect fit!

Step Three: Whiten Away!
Starting off, I did my whitening treatments every other day at about 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Any longer than that, I started to feel sensitivity during the treatment. After a few treatments, I started to increase the time I had my teeth in the trays 15 minutes more minutes each time. 

I found the whitening was most dramatic when I kept the trays in a hour and a half or longer. It was hard to find the right time during the day to keep the trays in for the maximum 3 hour recommendation. 

Again, I could only do the treatment every other few days because of the sensitivity with my teeth. I then started to use the desensitizing gel which is formulated to help eliminate tooth sensitivity caused by whitening and prevent re-staining in the process. 

After a few weeks of trying the product, my teeth were a few shades lighter so much so my honest kids noticed!
Representing Sweetwater High Red Devils!
At my 20 year high school reunion
Thanks Smile Brilliant for a whiter, brighter smile!

Want to win your own Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening System?

to purchase your own Teeth Whitening System!

Have 5% with Coupon Code: garciamemories

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary Teeth Whitening System in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Nurture and Celebrate YOU at The Oaks in Ojai

The past few years, there are two days in a year that I allow myself to enjoy a day at the spa: my birthday and good friend Joyce's birthday. With our busy lives and the stresses of being educators, we've made the commitment to help each other take a "mental health break" during our birthdays. 

For Joyce's birthday this year, we headed to Ojai, California for a spa weekend getaway at the Oaks at Ojai, The drive from San Diego was surprisingly pleasant since the Los Angeles traffic usually makes me go mad. The traffic was light and the three hour drive went by quick. The jokes and stories Joyce and I share is more than enough to make the time to by. 

Nestled in the mountains of Ventura county, The Oaks at Ojai is in the town's main arcade. The Spanish feel of the town and the melodic sounds coming from the 99 year old Post Office Bell Tower really made me feel like I was truly on a retreat.  

The Oaks at Ojai is welcoming, supportive, and fun. Joyce and I met many guests who have visited The Oaks for years, as well as guests who were in the midst of their 5, 7, or 15 day stay. They all shared how much they love The Oaks and how it has helped them become well and mindful.

The Oaks at Ojai program includes:
  • overnight accommodations
  • pre-fixed delicious, healthy meals  
  • Over 15 fitness classes per day
  • Evening seminars developed to help you sustain the healthy changes when you return home

There is so much I love about The Oaks at Ojai! Here are my five favorites:

1) I totally loved our Spa Mini Suite. It was located in the garden area very close to the pool. At first glance at the private patio entry, I was already in love! The beautiful Spanish tile on the floor, as well as the accents in the bathroom and the patio were details that made the room special. Our two queen beds immediately invited me to take a nap in it's comfy goodness! So much so, I didn't get to take pictures of our room. The photos below are from The Oaks' website. The bathroom had a spa tub and separate tiled shower. The spa tub had different settings for the strength of the jets. I went 100% on those jets and it bubbled away my aches and pains from sitting at the desk at work. The spa tub even had heliotherapy, which involves the use of specific wavelengths of light to treat disorders of the skin as well as some mood disorders and sleep difficulties. Violet, red, yellow, green, and blue - it was a light show in my bathtub! We also had a private patio with a tiled wall fountain and two lounge chairs. From our patio, you can hear the famous Ojai Post Office Bell Tower ring throughout the day.

2) Perusing the website before our visit, I was a bit worried about the food. The food was surprisingly delish and super filling! The Oaks provides a well-rounded, portion conscious food plan that consists of three meals, snacks and beverages. The varied menus are balanced, low in salt and sugar, with special attention to good fats needed to fuel an active mind and body. The portions were just right and had me satisfied at the end of each meal. There is a fixed menu for each meal but guests have the option to customize their meals a bit if desired. The goal here is to eat healthy with portion control. Thumbs up here!

3) The Oaks at Ojai has a variety of fitness, wellness, and mindfulness classes to take. The fitness classes are geared for all levels of physical activity and the instructors ensure accommodations are made for all physical abilities. Zumba, strength-training, aerobics, hikes around beautiful Ojai, and more are available. There are also cooking demonstrations throughout the week. There are classes all day long, so guests have the luxury to pick and choose which activities to participate in. Joyce and I took advantage of the cooking classes, aqua fit, yoga, meditation, as well as a life-coaching session with Karin Lehmann. These activities totally helped us get into relaxation mode.

Here's a video of the Aqua Fit class we took. Can you find Joyce and I?

Yoga Class
Cooking Demo
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar tasting
4) Although the Oaks at Ojai retreat was created to fit the needs of women over 40, it really is a place for mature men or women who are looking for a spa retreat to truly work on taking of themselves with a focus on their mind, bodies, and souls. This is a place I really needed. Truthfully, you won't see cute spa-goers in their bikinis, designer shares, or giant sun hats here. You'll find moms in their yoga pants, retired folks n their lounge wear, and spa goers walking around in their Oaks Spa robe, no make-up, hair up in a mom-bun, with the smiles of zen and peace across their faces.  The Oaks Spa is really a place to relax and not have to worry about pretentious spa appearances. I loved waking up, not worry about make up, putting on my comfy lounge wear. I didn't have to decide what I was going to eat. I could attend a class or not without judgement. All the guests at The Oaks were super friendly. We all had much in common: busy women needing a timeout from the responsibilities of life. It was easy striking up a conversation with other guests - whether at dinner, in the pool, or hanging out at movie night in the "Libbey Lounge". The wonderful company of the other guests made our stay at The Oaks at Ojai even more special.

Lounging in our patio

Movie Night and Scrabble
5) The Oaks also has a full-service spa. I was fortunate to have had a 75 minute Sea C Spa Facial. The combination of vitamin C, organic mud and marine algae did wonders to my face, so much so I had lots of compliments at work two days after the treatment. Meg, my  , did a wonderful job bringing a glow to my face and a lift to my self-esteem!

The Oaks at Ojai has special offers through out the year. At the award-winning Oaks at Ojai destination spa, friendships – whether through family, childhood or brand new connections made at the spa – are the bonds that are nurtured and celebrated, bringing guests back time and time again. 

There is a Mother-Daughter (or son) offer where guests receive a 40% discount off the program rate for each daughter (or son) sharing a room with Mom. 

There is also a "Bring a Friend" offer where guests can enjoy twice the fun and a 25% discount for both guests who share a room. Workout, chat poolside, explore Ojai and stay up late catching up!

Check out more about the room rates here.

It was such a treat staying at The Oaks at Ojai. Having been voted in the Top Ten spas by Conde Nast Traveler, Haute Living and USA Today’s 10 Best, our experience superseded my expectations. Thank you for a wonderful time. The facility, food, activities, and people made the weekend one to remember! Our visit was a great time for Joyce and I to focus on taking care of ourselves for a few days. Our renewed energy is going to help us continue taking care of others! Thank you The Oaks at Ojai!

For more information, please visit or 
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Disclaimer: Joyce and I received complimentary stay at The Oaks at Ojai in exchange for this blog post and social media shares. All opinions are mine. 
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