Once upon a time, paper dolls were something little girls played as a dress up activity. Technology has now replaced this, along with many other childhood activities, with digital ones.
Dress up. It's a rite of passage for children. It stimulates their imagination and allows their minds to create things adults no longer allow to enter in their thoughts. It's a requirement of childhood, and a way for the news ones here to develop ideas of what they see for their little lives. Disney has had a great handle on this for many years. I mean, when you go to Disneyland, does it EVER occur to you that you are in Anaheim? Why would it? You simply are NOT. You are in a transported place that magically makes the outside world disappear. The same is true for Vegas and ice skating competitions. You don't notice the time, the day or whether it's dark or light. You simply do what is there in front of you and become disoriented upon re-entry to the 'real' world at some point.
But enough philosophy.
My daughter and I recently had the opportunity to review the Disney Princess Royal Salon app that is a princess dress up game. Princesses Ariel, Belle, Cinderella and Rapunzel are the choices, and each setting offers apparel, accessories and magic sparkles with which to decorate your chosen princess. My daughter thoroughly enjoys her pinks and purples, and has an array of dolls and stuffed animals that include some princess related items. But her true love is horses. Rarely since she first sat on a horse has she turned her attention to anything else. But when I presented the app for her, the first thing that got her attention was that I was allowing her to use my coveted phone. My children never touch my phone. It is command central for me and nothing comes near it. Once she got past that, she was seriously interested in creation. Her favorite is Ariel, and Rapunzel is a close second. She enjoyed choosing which party to send the princesses to and what they should wear. Now, in all honesty, my daughter is pretty creative in her own clothing choices, so I didn't expect a Martha Stewart invitation choice or clean cut hairdos on the young ladies. She did not disappoint.
Rapunzel is seen here with a multitude of bows adorning her. My daughter was frustrated with Rapunzel's hair and not able to do what she thought the hair should do. So she covered it with bows.
Belle got lucky with three tiaras and a pink hoody.
Rapunzel also got an invitation to the masquerade ball, at which she sported a purse on her bicep.
We had a good time playing with the Royal Salon, and my daughter was especially happy to be allowed to play with my phone. But that's only because I realized too late that I should have downloaded it onto the iPad the kids are allowed to use. Royal Salon is a simple app and fun to use, and best of all, no paper cuts.
* * * I received a copy of Royal Salon to facilitate this review.
I don't get out much. But when I do . . . it's with the Moms LA gals.
This group is always a good time regardless of where we go. Last night we visited La Sandia, Santa Monica. I was happy to get out of the house and make the drive outside of the 'bubble' with Kim and Amy. A nice drive down PCH with friends beats the freeway at rush hour any day. Plus, there were cocktails awaiting us at the other end.
We were treated to a tasting of their new Latin Lite menu. Nothing over 475 calories! And it was indeed, light. All of it was traditional Mexican cuisine. And while tasty, was pretty standard in it's flavor and constitution. The presentation was simple and elegant on white porcelain square plates. Their appetizer shrimp was the most flavorful (also the most caloric, sadly), and also showed up on their Fajita entree. We had an array of steak, chicken and fish, as well as a delectably grilled portobello mushroom and a very spicy Chile Relleno. Lettuce wraps replaced tortillas (to cut calories), but were very messy to navigate.
The Lite menu drinks had a newly developed 'natural' sweetener called nectreese. I'm always suspicious of any artifical sweetener, and while the claim is natural, I couldn't abide. I opted for a Mango Mojito with all the real stuff in it. That did the trick.
We enjoyed a comfortably satiating meal, lots of chat with friends and plenty of neck craning throughout our visit to see Ben Affleck across the room. I have to say, when I was a kid, this mall was an eye sore. It was built at a time when things weren't that far off the ground (yes, I'm old, sigh). And when it was built, the food court was just becoming the 'thing'. So when I realized that this mall has been revamped, and that the restaurant we were at was in a mall, and Ben Affleck was also eating in a 'mall restaurant', I had to laugh and wince simultaneously. No celebrity would have been caught dead eating in a mall unless they were a teenager. I'd say that celebs have called their bluff, as no average teen can likely afford an upscale restaurant. On the other hand, perhaps I've been living in the 'bubble' for too long. I was less starstruck by Ben than I was by the ambient space indicator lighting system installed in the parking garage to help drivers find open spaces.
(Photo credit: http://www.surfsantamonica.com)
We thought we were done. And then . . . they brought us cones of sugar encrusted churros. One for EACH of us. With dipping sauce. Two kinds. So much for the 'lite' dinner. They were so good. Amy pointed out that she and hot dough have a long and difficult relationship. I completely get it.
So by the way, Ben Affleck, albeit with a streak of gray hair in the still fully covered head, is incredibly good looking in person. Actors are not always what you expect when you come across them in daily life. Growing up in Santa Monica I have seen and known my fair share of entertainment industry folks. I am rarely star struck by any. In fact, I don't really want to meet them. That would destroy the characters and images they have created in my rich fantasy life. Amy actually got him to sit on her finger. We settled on buying him a drink. Better that he come to us than we gush over him like tourists. Didn't happen. Oh well. A missed opportunity for Ben.
The ambience at La Sandia is elegant. It's hard to believe the restaurant is in a mall. Mall food sure has come up in the world. Santa Monica Place has evolved though over the years, from a standard teen hang out mall to an upscale, very high end shopping and dining experience. I was amazed at the parking garage ceiling lighting, designating spaces that are open or not. I don't tend to think of the bubble as that far from society, but if it is, I like it. Does that make me old? Old school? Removed? I guess I don't care. Anyway, The decor was pleasant but unremarkable. The general manager was very knowledgeable and friendly, though he outed Ben being there to us. First rule - protect your clienetele!
Oh, one more thing - they offer a kids meal on a cute, coloring menu. The crayons have sides so they don't roll. Brilliant! Though I can't say I would bring triplets here. We can make a mess at home.
We haven't been on a family outing in awhile, so while searching the web I came across a free activity that turned out to be a lot of fun!
Lowe’s offers a 'Build & GrowFree Kids’ Clinic', and this month they are promoting Disney's movie 'Planes'. I signed all three kids up and told them I had a surprise for them. We don't watch commercials, so they are mildly aware of the movie, and tried earnestly to convince me that the airplane's name was Rusty and not Dusty. Of course they know more than I do.
to find a moderate sized line of families tucked all the way in a back corner of the store. Lowe’s
provided small hammers and pliers along with the plane building kits, but it actually took some true grown up elbow
grease to get them assembled. But it was fun and a quick and easy way to surprise the kids and keep them busy on a hot summer afternoon!
Later on we stopped by the Apple store, always a favorite destination for our geeked-out clan. They always know how to entertain everyone.
Suburban Sunday. Nothing complicated, but kept everyone busy and got us out of the house!