Category Archives: Fresno

A Visit to Santa HQ (and a Giveaway)

Visiting Santa was a huge tradition in my childhood. So when HGTV’s Santa HQ and Fashion Fair reached out to me to come check out their high tech Santa experience, I couldn’t resist taking my 2 younger children. HGTV’s Santa HQ isn’t only in Fresno so you can check the site to find a location near you (but I am sure that Fresno’s is the best). You can also set an appointment online. But before I get into telling you all about it, HGTV’s Santa HQ is sponsoring this post and giveaway but these are all my thoughts and opinions!

This is not the boring Santa experience of my youth. This is technology and fun! You can start by picking up a selfie stick so you can grab some great family snapshots along the way. There is so much to see and do before you get to the official picture taking areas, you are going to want to document it!

First, we had to see if they were going to land on the naughty or nice lists! It was touch and go there for a minute;).  Then we go into the Observatory and that is when things got very interactive! We got Elf’ed! They take pictures and then place it into a cute video. They will even email you that video (check NerdFamily’s social media to see ours).

The next area, the proper observatory, is my favorite part. There are interactive spots with AR in a variety of places in the walls and ceilings! Don’t worry about having apps downloaded because there are tablets waiting for you! There are elves, gears, and even snow! 

There is also an opportunity to push buttons!! There is a great dashboard that lets the kids look at the “plans” of the different areas of Santa HQ. 

Next up are the pictures and Santa!!! There are 2 opportunities to have your picture taken. There is a gorgeous backdrop with accessories up first. Then you meet the man of the hour! Santa time! They have the sweetest Santa this year. He really listens to the kids and makes them laugh! And something that the moms will love, he has a large bench that can accommodate more than one child. So you can easily have all your kids in one photo and I love that. 

There are a variety of photo packages you can get right there at Santa HQ that will be printed on the spot. You can also order more online (or let grandma order what she wants). I also love that the digital photos are included in all packages. So while you may print 1 or 2, you will have them all forever. 

One of the best things about this whole experience is the staff. Audrey escorted us through the whole process and even took our pictures. If you see her when you go to Fashion Fair’s Santa HQ please tell her I loved her! We aren’t actually Santa people and this experienced offered so much more than just Santa and you should check it out!
If you aren’t in Fresno don’t worry, HGTV’s Santa HQ is in a variety of locations. Just check the site to find a location and set an appointment! No lines for my readers;).
Fashion Fair wants to help one of my readers to have a Merry Christmas so they are letting me give away a basic photo package. Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

(HGTV’s Santa HQ did sponsor this post but all thoughts are mine and mine alone.)

ZappCon is Back with All Things Nerdtacular!

ZappCon 2015

This weekend (Saturday and Sunday, October 17-18th) is the 2nd Annual ZappCon down at the Fresno Convention Center! I know that half of you are probably asking, “What the heck is ZappCon?” It is a local convention that is all about gaming, comics, and general geekery! Ok, that sounds boring in comparison to the fabulous schedule I have seen. Here is just a small glimpse.

For gamers there are a bunch of opportunities to actually play throughout the weekend. There will be groups playing specific games like Giant Tsuro, D&D, My Little Pony, Pokemon, War Machine, and lots more.  There will also  be open tables where you can bring your own games too. Want to know how to play some new games? Great, there will be some 101 and learn to play sessions for games like Pathfinder. There will be gaming panels too!

zappIf cosplay is you thing they have a variety of stuff planned for you too! There are a variety of cosplay celebrities who will be part of a Cosplay Super Panel. You can also LARP or attend a session all on the 501st Legion!

Of course there is a lot more geekery planned! I am personally really looking forward to the Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator. There will also be a very cool Artist’s Alley and comic panels. Like t craft? Then attend the session that will help you to make a Harry Potter scarf! Love music? Great! The DoubleClicks will be there and even teaching a ukulele session.

Little geeks? Don’t worry, there is something for them. Little Zapp’s Kid Zone is going to have a variety of events over the weekend. The coolest is the  Super Hero Training Course. The Snake Guy will be there as will Batman. There will also be games and face painting so the kiddos haven’t been left out. I didn’t see an age on that but I hope at least a couple of my kids will fall in the age range! 

This is looking like it is going to be a very cool and exciting event. I am even more excited because this is a local production! You can still get tickets at the door for $25 for one day or $35 for both. It is being held at Valdez Hall in the Convention Center. You can head over to the ZappCon site for more details and the actual schedule of events. 

So who will I see there?


A New Grocery Outlet Grand Opening & a Giveaway

Logo-Low Res

I know that I was not alone in my sorrow when the Fresh and Easy at Tulare and R closed here in Fresno. But a new Grocery Outlet opened this week in its place. I am so excited because there are always great deals to be had a Grocery Outlet!  And to celebrate there is a big Grand Opening this Saturday (May 24th)!

The festivities will kick off at 7am where there will be free coffee and treats along with free reusable bags for the first 500 customers. At 10am they are bringing out the Wheel of Bargains where you can spin and win (until 3pm). Then from 11am to 3pm there will be free face painting!

If you are there between 11am and 2pm you can get a $1 hot dog and drink. All proceeds will benefit Edison High School Athletics! You also should check out their facebook page before you go too. There may or may not be a deal to be had over there;).

I am going to go check it out and I hope to see you all there. And to get us all excited for the new store, Grocery Outlet is providing a $25 gift card for one of my readers. Just enter in the Rafflecopter! There will be lots of opportunities for entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to enter and check back for another giveaway with my write up on the new store!

(Disclosure: Grocery Outlet provided me with a gift card to go shopping and with gift cards for giveaways. But all thoughts are mine!)

Lush Has Come to Fresno (and a Giveaway!)

Fresno Lush

Fresno got a LUSH store! Lush is a natural, handmade cosmetics store that apparently everyone else knew about except me! Lush makes the most divine smelling (and working) bath and body products along with cosmetics. They are possibly best known for their many varieties of bath bombs but they have lots of other great products. I received a package with some great soaps, shower gel and bath bombs that were divine! (side note: I really love the It’s Raining Men shower gel)

The Fresno location of Lush opened in April over at Fashion Fair Mall and I got a chance to pop in and look around. While I was there I also picked up some bar shampoo and conditioner for a trip! When you walk in you smell fabulous scents and see beautiful products! There are lots of items out for you to try from soaps to lotions to makeup. It is just a fabulous place!

To celebrate their opening of the Fashion Fair they are having a Grand Opening Party on Saturday. May 10th from Noon to 5:00pm. They will be doing face care demos, giveaways with $50 purchases and more. If you RSVP to the Facebook event and are once of the first 100 you will get a free gift too.

Lush has also decided to do a giveaway here on my blog! 1 lucky winner (who is here in the US) will win a Ray of Sunshine package! Just enter in the Rafflecopter!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I was provided Lush products! All thoughts and words are mine.)

Fresno Staycation Outings

Forestiere Underground Gardens
Forestiere Underground Gardens

Life is busy and expensive! We all want to do fun and exciting things with our kids but between time and money it can be challenging. Challenging to find something exciting to do beyond the Boomers or water parks! At least for many people I talk to. So here are some great 1/2 to 3/4 day activities to do with the whole family. None of them are more than an hour away from Fresno and quite a few are right in town. I haven’t been to all these places but I am hoping to this summer!

(Continue reading at NerdFamily Things)

Fresno Area You Pick Farms

We all know that Fresno is the home to great produce but it has always seemed like all that produce is on a truck to a grocery store. I am sick of hearing from friends around the state and the nation how much fun they have had at the You-pick farms in their area while it seemed to not be an option for me!!! So I did a little research and found out that we have a few great You-Pick opportunities in the Fresno area! Not all of them are in Fresno proper but that shouldn’t be all that surprising;).

Continue reading at NerdFamily Food…

Me on TV?

I don’t know how this is happening but… I have a regular gig on Central Valley Today on KSEE 24 here in Fresno! Central Valley Today is a daily show that is on from 11am to noon. I will be on just about every week and usually on Mondays. I don’t understand why a medium that is all about looks lets me on but it is a lot of fun!

I will be talking about a variety of things from household management, smart shopping, and technology. Every week I will put up a corresponding post with the details that I talk about in my segment! This week I am talking about Shopping Smart at the Dollar Store and that post is up over at NerdFamily Things!

Pay Cut for Early Retirement?

I find the concept of collecting retirement and at the same time collecting a pay check from the same entity a bit disconcerting. Is that was is going on with Superintendent Larry Powell and his voluntary pay cut? While I really like him and think that what he is doing is nice, is it all people are thinking? Do people realize he might be getting retirement at the same time?

I just want to declare my motivation for this post. 1)I think Larry is a good guy but I thought there should be full disclosure if he was also collecting retirement just to properly frame everything.  2) I just don’t like this loop hole! Not everyone is doing it for such noble reasons and that costs us all lots of money.

Update: Brad saw an interview on FOX where Larry Powell said he was going to donate his salary to charity! Good for him!

Avoid the Illusion…

I assume that our local CSU is not unique. I assume that they all have budget issues and crazy hiring policies. So it is hard to not look at the recent hiring of Carole Brown-Welty as Dean of Graduate Studies at CSUFresno with a lot of cynicism.

For those who don’t know, she is married to the President of CSUFresno John Welty. The announcement of her hiring was made only 1 week after her predecessor announced her departure. Apparently Provost William Covino didn’t conduct a search or look at other qualified options.

So, I am off base? I think President Welty should have insisted on Covino conducting a full search, even if his wife still got the job. Just to make sure that it was done right? I remember hearing a lot as a kid, “Avoid the illusion of an indiscretion”. But here is seems that they didn’t care how it looks. So was this straight up nepotism? I am just a hater?

Buy New or Fix Old?

I saw in the Fresno Bee that First 5 of Fresno County (an agency funded by tobacco taxes) has $50,000 in seed money for a children’s museum. Of course, a local consultant has been hired to research this. Now this isn’t necessarily the beginning of the First 5 money so it needs to self sustain. 

Umm, has anyone heard of the Discovery Center? Do we remember when what happens when our museum eyes are bigger than our stomachs in Fresno? Why don’t we have the local consultant research how to use the $50,000 in the best way with in our 1 existing children’s museum? Granted, I haven’t been out there in years but it has survived in some state since I was a kid.

Granted, maybe some of that money might go to restructuring and improving what is already there. But the idea of trying to build something from the ground up? $50,000 won’t get you far and as far as community financial support? Aquarium anyone? And let us not forget what happened the last time we used the “if you build it, they will come philosophy”. Has the City of Fresno found anyone to rent the Met building yet?

I saw over at the Beehive that someone said that one of the reasons to not use this money to strengthen the Discovery Center was that not all kids are interested in Natural Science. I understand that point, I love the Tech Museum in San Jose. But then I read this in the original article.

Rogers and the handful of residents behind the proposal envision a large indoor learning center with interactive children’s exhibits on science, art and local culture. Agriculture and water would be central themes.

So, isn’t that the Discovery Center? I just don’t want to see Fresno City or Fresno County start wasting money down the rabbit hole of a new high tech facility. The way to do that is to wait for the money to exist before building begins.

So my vote? Spend the money on fixing the old! Invest that into the Discovery Center.