Our introduction to Scotch Whisky

Scotch whiskey

Going to Scotland without sampling Scotch whisky (note: in most countries it's spelled "whiskey" but in Scotland it's "whisky" without the "e"!) is like going to Napa without sampling wine.  When we decided to go on a road trip to Scotland this summer, we had visions of hopping from distillery to distillery, savoring different kinds of Scotch.  Alas, it was not to be; our whisky tour is going to have to wait till a future visit, but we did get to learn about whisky production and taste a few great whiskies on this trip.

How to make the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge more meaningful to your child

When I first heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, my initial reaction was one of distaste.  I'm all for raising awareness for causes you care about, but I didn't like the "hey look at me, I'm so cool" part, and I didn't like the "take the challenge or donate" part.  It seemed like a case of empty actions -- if you don't donate, all you have to do is pour a bucket of ice water over your head, and you feel good about yourself because you think you've done something to help the cause?  Instead of buying a bag of ice, why not donate that money to ALS research?  Here in California, we have another issue -- we're in a severe drought, so it's a waste of water.

First Day of School, and the Beginning of the End


Today is the first day of the schoolyear, and I'm feeling all nostalgic.  See, it's 3Po's and Jammy's first day of 5th grade, and The Pea's first day of 8th grade.  Next year they'll be moving on to middle school and high school.  That means it's our last year at the elementary school that we've been going to since 2006, when The Pea first entered kindergarten.

Things I didn't know about Monsanto


Monsanto is a company that people love to hate.  There are many companies that attract controversy: Nestle, Walmart, McDonald's, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, to name just a few, not to mention just about any oil company, tobacco company or bank.  But none of them, not even Philip Morris or RJ Reynolds, is as universally negatively viewed (reviled, even) as Monsanto.

So why did I agree to spend a day with Monsanto at their research facility in Woodland?  I guess I wanted to hear what they had to say.  Are they really worse than Morris or RJ Reynolds, the companies who marketed tobacco to minors and concealed research proving that smoking is addictive and lethal?  Or can a company that was recently defended by Neil Degrasse Tyson -- the spokesperson for science and logic, every liberal's hero -- be all bad?  

10 Reasons to Attend Mickey's Halloween Party

photo credit: Disneyland News

We're still on summer vacation, but the Disneyland Resort is already preparing for Halloween!  Their Halloween Time season is set for September 12 through October 31, 2014, and tickets for Mickey's Halloween Party are already on sale.

We attended Mickey's Halloween Party for the first time last year, and it was an amazing experience.  Halloween is my favorite time of the year, and my favorite time to visit the Disneyland Resort, so Mickey's Halloween Party was basically the culmination of everything that I enjoy in a great party!  I would definitely recommend it to any family.  I've listed 10 things that make Mickey's Halloween Party an experience like no other.  Here are 10 reasons why I love Mickey's Halloween Party -- and 10 reasons why you should go:

Changing of the Guard: Is it worth braving the crowds?

Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard
Quick, what's the most tourist-y thing you can do in London?  Chances are, you thought of the Tower of London, Big Ben, or Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard. We've done the Tower of London and Big Ben on past visits, so I decided to take the kids to see the Changing of the Guard on our most recent visit to London.

A trip to Gretna Green (aka, my teenage romance fantasies come to life)


Do the words "Gretna Green" ring a bell?  If you've read a ton of historical romance novels, they ring more than just a bell, they ring a wedding bell!

When I was a teenager, I read a lot of period romances.  A LOT.  I combed the used bookstores for Barbara Cartland and Mills& Boon, and filled my head with fantasies of debonaire dukes, regency rakes, villainous viscounts, and the fiery ladies they yearned for. Sometimes I wonder if my taste for Georgian era and Regency era romances had any influence in my falling in love with an Englishman fourteen years older than me!

How to Spice Up a Chicken Salad Sandwich


No doubt you already have a tried-and-true recipe for chicken salad. I know I do.  I love chicken salad, whether it's served on a salad, on crackers, in a sandwich, or in a wrap.  Like most of my recipes,  my chicken salad recipe is vague on measurements.  I don't bother with the measuring cups and teaspoons, I just mix it up to taste.

The Best of BlogHer 2014


It has been 2 years since I last attended a BlogHer conference.  I had a great time at BlogHer11 in San Diego, but I skipped BlogHer12 in New York and BlogHer13 in Chicago because I was traveling.  I did attend (and speak) at BlogHer Pro last year, and I had a great time, but I missed the scale and excitement that the main BlogHer conferences generate.  So when BlogHer announced that their 2014 conference would be held in San Jose, right where they started 10 years ago, I knew I had to attend.  Attending the conference was so important to me that I gave up a trip to the Philippines and shortened our trip to the UK in order to attend!  After all, a 10th Anniversary is a special thing, and who knows when it's going to be held in the Bay Area again.

Stonehenge: Visiting in 2014

Stonehenge

Today is Throwback Thursday, so I decided today would be the perfect day to blog about our trip to Stonehenge.  There aren't many things that could be more of a throwback than Stonehenge!  A few months ago, I blogged about Stonehenge and its previous visitor facilities, and wondered what the new Visitor Center would be like. Fourty-four years ago, Alfie could stand right next to the stones. Four years ago, we could only stand 100 feet from the stones.  What would our visit be like now?  Would we be even farther away?   Happily, the new logistics don't diminish the experience at all;  in fact, I was able to take exactly the same photo, standing at exactly the same spot, as I did four years ago!   With all the new exhibits, the whole experience is actually much better than it was, because you come out of it with a much better understanding of the history and culture behind this ancient site.