Sunday, April 9, 2017

The America’s Family Pet Expo Returns to OC Fair & Event Center April 28-30

By Annie Rivera

In its 28th year, The America’s Family Pet Expo returns to the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa April 28 through 30. Pet lovers and enthusiasts of all ages can delight in a classic Springtime gathering of animals from cats, dogs, mini-farm animals to birds, exotic reptiles and more. 

“Making its debut this year is The Catit Playground,” said Doug Poindexter, President of the World Pet Association. “This is an interactive close up view for guests to watch adorable cats and kittens interact with many different toys and people. This atmosphere, great for guests to learn about cats and the toys they like, is the ‘Cat’s Meow.’”

Also new this year, The America’s Family Pet Expo will feature the first ever surfing cat during the return of Lucy’s Wave Maker where the best surfing dogs will be showcased. Lucy’s Wave Maker made international headlines with its appearance in the 2017 Rose Parade and will be kicking off its 2017 National Tour in Costa Mesa.

Another new feature is America’s Family Pet Expo Hobbyist Aquascaping content. Intermediate to advanced aquarists will compete to create the most natural live aquarium. Guests can watch the process in a live viewing starting from Friday, April 28 at 10AM to Saturday, April 29 at 12PM. A panel of aquascaping experts will select the top three (3) aquascapers on Saturday, April 29 at 5PM. Winners will receive ribbons and cash prizes.

Fan favorites Splash Dogs, a wet-and-wild canine competition, and the Police Dog & Protection Demonstrations that showcase crime fighting dogs in action displaying their serve and protect training will also be returning to the America’s Family Pet Expo.

Also returning are: the Kids Aquarium Contest where winning selections will be used to decorate a 10-gallon aquarium; Cook’s Racing Hogs & Dogs that feature four pigs that race around a 90-foot U-shaped track and four dogs that compete in a similar race for vanilla ice cream and Golden Oreo cookie treats; pony rides, face paintings, and The Great American Petting Zoo where the entire family can enjoy - and many more.

 Tickets are on sale now. General Admission $15, seniors 60 and over $13, Children ages 6 to 12 are $8, and 5 years and under are free. Active retired military are free with ID. 

Show hours: Friday, April 28 - 10am to 6pm; Saturday, April 29 - 10am to 7pm; Sunday, April 30 - 10am to 6pm. Parking is $8.

For more information and to purchase tickets online visit 

Kindly leave all pets at home.

Disney On Ice presents “Dream Big” Coming to Long Beach and Inland Empire April 20-30

By Annie Rivera

Dreamers all over Southern California can witness Disney’s most courageous leading ladies perform at two conveniently located venues at the Long Beach Arena and Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario from April 20 to 30. Tickets on sale now.

Watch Disney Princesses Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana, Jasmine, Aurora and Snow White take us on adventures of a lifetime determined to make their dreams come true. Also see Elsa and Anna from Disney’s Frozen relive their wintery experiences on the ice stage. 

“There is something magical about this show,” said Greenville, North Carolina-native Courtney Mew who plays Cinderella. “Each story is a timeless classic and that teaches about love as the most important message.” 

Transform into an imaginary world of Disney tales as the iconic Tinker Bell, spreads enchanted pixie-dust to begin the tale of a wonderful journey. Splash around with Ariel as she explores life above the sea. Watch while Rapunzel, Cinderella and Belle learn the power within themselves to make dreams come true. Dare to discover a whole new world with Jasmine and join Snow White, Aurora and Tiana as they learn about inner strength and kindness. This high-flying, breath-taking and memorable experience is awaiting your presence.

Show dates and times are as follows:


WHEN: Thursday, April 20 to Sunday, April 23
- Thursday, April 20 7:30PM
- Friday, April 21 7:30PM
- Saturday, April 22 11AM, 3PM & 7PM
- Sunday, April 23 11AM, 3PM & 7PM

WHERE: Long Beach Arena - 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802

TICKETS: Prices start at $20
        Discount Opening Night tickets available as low as $15 each on select seating
        Purchase online at, call (800) 745-3000 or in-person at the venue Box Office


WHEN: Thursday, April 27 to Sunday, April 30
- Thursday, April 27 7PM
- Friday, April 28 7PM
- Saturday, April 29 11AM, 3PM & 7PM
- Sunday, April 30 1PM & 5PM

WHERE: Citizens Business Bank Arena - 4000 Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario, CA 91764

TICKETS: Prices start at $20
        Discount Opening Night tickets available for as low as $15 each on select seating

        Purchase online at, call (800) 745-3000, or in-person at the venue Box Office

Thursday, August 11, 2016

San Francisco sites

During my very short stay in San Francisco recently, I entered and exited through Oakland and found the transit system to be very efficient.

Beginning with the shuttle service that took you from Oakland International Airport to the Coliseum (former home of the Oakland Raiders and the Oakland Athletics, aka A's).

Once at the Coliseum I took Bay Area Rapid Transit, better known at BART. I admit, I was a little intimidated by BART, especially after viewing the different lines that ran throughout Oakland, San Francisco and neighboring cities:
But once you figure out where you need to go and follow the color-coded graphic, it wasn't all that bad. I took the Green line from the Coliseum to Civic Center/UN Plaza. 

Caution: Be sure to pay attention to the signage along the platforms otherwise you'll miss your stop or do what I almost did, got on the wrong line. It helps to ask someone knowledgeable about the schedule and specific lines. Thanks to the ladies who helped me figure it out!

I couldn't help but notice the massive monument that hovered near BART: the Oakland Coliseum itself. 

Once in the city, I either walked to my destinations or if they were a little further out, I ordered an UBER ride. It was fast and simple with a short wait time for the driver. If you've never taken an UBER ride, visit my dealspotr for a promo code for a free ride. 

Needless to say, the transit system (shuttle, train, and UBER), those specifically that I used, were very efficient, fast and convenient. Glad I used them to get around the city.

Now, the very little site-seeing I was able to do, I did with my Cousins. 

On my way to meet the Cousins, I stopped by Treasure Island (est. circa 1936-37) first. This picturesque spot has a wonderful view of the Bay Bridge and the boat dock.

Back in Oakland and before heading back to the airport, I rendezvoused with the Cousins. 

We ate at Samurai Sushi Boat in Oakland and had ourselves a feast (sorry, no photos taken...we were enjoying our food so much, we completely forgot to snap some photos).

I had a BENTO box with California rolls and Salmon Teriyaki served with soup, salad and rice. 


We walked off our meal with a quick stroll down Jack London Square while soaking up the local vibe at the pier. We even got photo-bombed by some random guy! Don't mind my being oblivious to the lipstick stain on my teeth. Hilarious!

There are a few historical points on the pier (not pictured here, of course...sad to say, I had storage issues on my iPhone 6 Plus and that didn't retain my pics) like the Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon, an historic pub built in 1883 named after John H. Heinold; the USS Potomac referred to as the Floating White House, one of the only few floating museums left in the U.S. once occupied by Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and Jack London's Cabin, a tiny house in the middle of the square believed to have been occupied during the winter of 1897-1898.

We topped off our Jack London Square visit with dessert at Kincaid's Classic American Dining right on the edge of the pier with this to-die-for view (don't hate...I have no pictures). 

Dessert included: Cafe Mocha, Coffee with cream and almond syrup, New York Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, and the prize winner Warm Brie with Macadamia Nut Crust! So yummy!

That concludes my short trip to the Bay Area. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

America's Best Value Inn & Suites SoMa, San Francisco

I've always wanted a career that would allow me to travel, and now my wish came true. I get to travel a handful of times a year, hopefully more.

I recently took a business trip to San Francisco and stayed at America's Best Value Inn & Suites SoMa and have nothing but good things to say.

Here are my top five favorite features about my stay at this hotel:

1) Dead end street. Well L-shaped street anyway. Nestled off Folsom and Hallam streets in San Francisco, ABVIS SoMa (SoMa = South of Market Street) is located caddy corner from a Cul de Sac adjacent to a few houses or town homes, which means no through traffic! 

Directly across from the hotel are what appears to be a three-story business building next to other apartments (judging by the visible balconies). So not quite the alley-view one would expect.

2) Easy street access. As you exit the hotel and turn left for a short walk, you hit Folsom and the city is at your finger tips.

The only drawback is a small pub at the corner that was thriving with late-nighters who were respectful and non-belligerent (thank goodness). I guess it helps that the city (I suppose, anyway) posted a big huge sign at the street's entrance that read: Please be respectful of our neighbors and keep the noise level down (I might be paraphrasing, but you get the point). 

2a) Here's an added bonus: despite the three-story building across from ABVIS, there was just enough room to see the skyline and skyscrapers (in the distance) above the neighbors' rooftops. It was a beautiful view. 

3) Fit for a King. I'm five-feet tall so any room large enough to fit a full, Queen, double or King-sized bed is perfect! This room was equipped with cable TV, a mirrored-desk (in case you want to look at yourself doing work on a laptop or tablet, I guess...OK, so it's a vanity and mirror -- I get it), a min-fridge, a safe located inside the cabinet (too bad the safe didn't work after numerous attempts in changing the combination as instructed in the directions), an open closet with just enough hangers to hang clothes, lay my luggage on top of the luggage rack, an ironing board and an iron (what I call simple amenities).

The bed was calling my name with more pillows than I have in my own house (no joke). It was incredibly comfortable and cozy! Just my size and perfect firmness! You bet I had a very good night's sleep too!

4) Decent sized bathroom. The bathroom, although a little small, was very clean and I especially loved the clear glass doors (maybe they were super clear plastic, I couldn't tell).

Only two shortcomings: a) the shower head did not adjust well and I ended up showering with the equivalent to a garden hose on turbo jet stream (ouch); and b) the small sink was located right next to the toilet, which means guests would have to wait until you finish your business to wash their hands. Awkward.

5) Semi-continental breakfast (not pictured). Semi because there was only once choice of coffee (caffeinated) and Minute Maid orange juice. There were a variety of pastries and muffins to choose from so if you are gluten free or trying to stay away from carb-overload, you'd have to look elsewhere for your morning pick-me-up. Downfall: no fruit or yogurt alternative.

Overall, I had a satisfactory overnight business stay at ABVIS SoMa. I recommend it.

Cost: $209/night (early August rates)

Rating: A-

Friday, August 5, 2016

Funny thing happened on the way to Oakland

I know I'm making light of it (and I really shouldn't), but I thought it worthy to chronicle my business trip to Oakland/San Francisco, thus far.

When I arrived to LAX Parking Lot C, there were no instructions anywhere on where the shuttle picks up. I stood at one of the Shuttle Stops for about 20 minutes before I braved myself to ask a guy, in his car who was parking, where to go. Feeling rather silly, he points me in the direction of the "Depot" and I sheepishly make my onward. Thanks for the detailed information Lot C administrators.

I met this really nice couple on the shuttle who were Hawai'i bound (envy overcame me for a brief moment, then I was over it).

The shuttle bus driver nearly missed my stop at Terminal 3 but after I politely yelled out "Spirit please" she came to a screeching halt. Thanks.

When I went through the automatic doors imagine my surprise when I saw many people camped out (I'm talking families, their luggage and their blankets -- Yes! Blankets...that should have been a red flag, right?). My initial thought was, "Dang! Something cool must be happening in Northern Cal for all these folks to be overnighting it!" Hah! 

As if the a la cart prices for just about everything Spirit could offer wasn't enough (from CARRY-ON fees to select-your-STANDARD-seat fees), the horror to learn that many of these exhausted people were stranded by several canceled flights to Puerto Rico.

One guy said they basically just told everyone to "get off the plane" with no explanation, no meal voucher, no hotel accommodations, nothing.

One lady said something about the pilot having flown too many hours and it was against policy to have him fly further. Understandable. Safe, I suppose.

But I guess that was just the tip of the iceberg when I overheard another lady, who also stranded, have a strong and heated conversation with an attendant at the ticket counter who told her, "You can call Customer Service" to which she replied, "Well, what the *ell are you? I'm telling YOU. Aren't YOU Customer Sevice? Why do I have to call someone else when I'm here now talking to you? Let me see your supervisor!" Ouch!

I'm about to go through TSA shortly and all I can say is, "Hope this goes smoothly." 

I feel for the stranded people who missed their flight to PR. 


Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey presents "Out of This World" at the Honda Center


We're here!

Much anticipated all week, we're finally here.

Thanks to Jennifer P. for tickets and Media/VIP check in, we arrived pretty early to enjoy some fun from our seats pre-show.

There's plenty of souvenirs to take home as keepsakes.

Even the "big" kids love the circus.

Lots of photo opps everywhere.

The view from our seats: Section 223, Row P, seats 7, 8 and 9.

Always love saving these tickets for memories.

New this year! Be sure to download the Ringling Bros app from iTunes or Google Play for interactive fun plus alerts throughout the show.

There are "selfie" photo opps directly on the app to enjoy! 

I couldn't resist a selfie opportunity!


There are plenty of ofther activities to choose from the menu and you can even VOTE for your favorite circus act!

Clown Alley entertains you throughout the show and in between acts.

Space Walk opened the show and it was an attention-grabber for sure!

Gravity-defying aerials were spectacular!

There was so much to look at during "Out of This World"

Unicycles galore and other athletic performers!

Lion tamer Alexander Lacey was captivating with his Lions and Tigers (Oh My!) act!

The trapeze act was a close-second to a show-stopper.

Show girls highlighted "Out of This World" circus performance

Watch LIVE videos on my Facebook page

The trapeze artists did an amazing triple somesault

Closing acts!

The finale!

The only thing missing were the elephants who have since been retired and living the life in some jungle oasis. We'll miss you mighty pachyderms.

Enjoy the show. Bring a sweater since this show is on ice (it's not 100 percent an ice-skating show, but it comes really close).

Be prepared to spend some dollars for festival-like food and drinks.