Fall is Shoe Shopping time at Great Mall of the Bay Area

Fall is always shoe shopping season in our household. The kids' feet always seem to sprout over the summer, and all of a sudden their running shoes and soccer shoes and ballet shoes and sandals feel tight. It has become a tradition to go shoe shopping at the start of the school year, and I have to say that going back to school always seems easier when you're armed with a nice new pair of shoes!

Along with fall shoe shopping, it has become a family tradition to shop for our shoes at the Great Mall of the Bay Area. They have so many great bargains on shoes that I can't remember a time that we haven't found the perfect pair of shoes at Great Mall. Sometimes my kids say they want to keep looking at other stores, but they never seem to find the variety, the sizes, and the prices, so we've always ended up going back to Great Mall and getting their shoes there!

Great Mall has bargains on shoes (and everything else) every day of the year, but Fall seems to be a particularly great time to go shoe shopping there. The fall styles have arrived in the Great Mall stores, so there are all kinds of cute chunky heeled booties, velvet flats, and all the latest trends -- all at great prices, up to 70% off retail! As if the variety of styles and great prices isn't enough, Great Mall is offering a couple of fun promos during this Fall Shoe Shopping Season. They are giving away a pair daily from September 12 – September 30 and offering shoppers a chance to win a Simon® gift card to put toward new shoes!

Vans® Shoe Giveaway

Great Mall Facebook fans will have the chance to win a pair of Vans shoes every day. Each winner will receive a Vans voucher to redeem for one pair of shoes inside the Vans store at Great Mall. Shoppers can enter to win by commenting on the Sweepstakes Facebook post on Great Mall‘s Facebook Page. The winner will be announced daily on Facebook at 10 a.m. The official rules and regulations are available at Guest Services located inside the mall

Mystery Shoe Box Giveaway

The first 20 customers to stop by Great Mall’s Guests Services between 10:00AM – 9:00PM on 9/15, 9/16, 9/22, 9/23, 9/29, 9/30 and from 11:00AM– 8:00PM on 9/17, 9/24 dates will receive a Mystery Shoe Box as supplies last. Each box will contain a retailer gift card ranging anywhere from $20 - $100 for shoppers to use toward their new fall shoe wardrobe. The official rules and regulations are available at Great Mall’s Guest Services booth.

Last Friday I took advantage of a lull at work and headed to Great Mall to shop for shoes -- not for my kids, for myself! Walking around Great Mall is one of my favorite ways to spend some quality "me" time. I get lots of exercise (the place is HUGE!), I can treat myself to some of my favorite foods, and I have fun finding some great bargains.

At Dick's Sporting Goods, I found a pair of Nike Zoom Vomero running shoes for $120. Zoom Vomeros are the only running shoes I have worn for 10 years and the only kind I will ever wear. I usually pay $130-$150 for them, and I was all ready to buy them, but I decided to keep walking around. After all, they were on regular sale, not clearance, and my feet are big, so I was reasonably sure they wouldn't sell out.

Then I went into Cole Haan, and I found a classic pair of black leather wedges, the you always want at least one of in your closet. The kind Jackie O was probably wearing as First Lady, the kind I'll probably be wearing when I'm 90 and want to look nice but can't be bothered to wear stilettos. They are so stylish and they actually make my gigantic feet look slim :)

When I looked at the price tag, I literally did a double take: $20. For Cole Haan! The original price (I even went online and checked because I always think that MSRP's are overinflated) for these shoes is $180, so I got them at almost 90% off. Yes, of course I got them! How could I not? I even had enough left over in my budget to get the running shoes!

If you live in the Bay Area, you need to run, don't walk, to Great Mall before their Fall Shoe Shopping event ends!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Hyundai Hope on Wheels: Hyundai funds the fight against pediatric cancer

On Thursday morning, August 31st, I attended the funeral of a cousin who had lost her fight with cancer. She was the happiest, most generous soul I knew, and she had started chemotherapy just over six months ago. There have been so many advancements in cancer treatments that cancer no longer seems like a certain death sentence. That may be true, but the odds are 100% if you happen to be one of the unlucky ones like my cousin who can't beat it. And even though the odds of survival have improved, cancer is still a serious disease that has a lifelong impact on patients and their loved ones.

Cancer is even more devastating when it happens to a child. Children are so full of life, so full of promise and unrealized potential, that it seems particularly unfair when a child is diagnosed with cancer. The good news is that today nearly 80% of pediatric cancers can be cured. The bad news is that 20% still can't be cured -- and that the kids who are cured may have to live with side effects of their illness for a long, long time. A child is diagnosed with cancer every 36 minutes in the US, and yet less than 4% of federal research funding for cancer is designated for pediatric cancer.

Auto company Hyundai believes that young childhood cancer fighters deserve a  chance. Hyundai Hope on Wheels is a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding pediatric cancer research. Since its inception in 1998, Hyundai Hope on Wheels has awarded over 840 grants totaling more than $130 million.  Funding comes from Hyundai Motor America and its more than 830 dealers.

On September 1, the the first day of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, the day after my cousin's funeral, I had the privilege of attending a Hyundai Hope on Wheels gala honoring kids who fight cancer and the doctors who help them. I got to meet Zafar Brooks, the Executive Director of Hyundai Hope on Wheels, who told me that in 2017 alone, they will be awarding over $15 million in grants. Some of those grants were awarded at the gala, to organizations such as UCSF and Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Everything about the event was moving. Child cancer survivor Nick Norcia took the stage and shared his experience of being diagnosed with leukemia at age 13. Nick is 16 now and a junior in high school, and he is doing fine. He is the same age and stage as my daughter, and the thought of what he had to go through just overwhelms me. He was full of praise and thanks for his oncologist who was one of the grant recipients that night.

Other highlights included a panel of doctors talking about the latest developments in pediatric cancer research, videos showcasing kids who have beaten cancer, and a musical performance by Luke Wade from "The Voice".

The night closed out with a medal and hand print ceremony. All the kids in the audience who had beat cancer received a medal, then the kids came together with Jennifer Freeman and Luke Wade to create a special hand print canvas commemorating the event. The Hyundai Hope on Wheels logo features three child's hand prints, symbolizing the many hands that help in the fight against pediatric cancer.

How you can help

Join the Run for Hope 5k & 10k event and Benefit Concert
Don your superhero cape and join Hyundai at the 7th Annual Superheroes Run For Hope event on September 31 and October 1 in Fountain Valley, CA. Head to HyundaiHopeOnWheels.org/run-for-hopehttps://hyundaihopeonwheels.org/run-for-hope/ for details and registration.

Buy a Hyundai car
With every purchase of a Hyundai vehicle, a donation is made to Hope on Wheels. Gala attendees were treated to a sneak peek of Hyundai Hope on Wheels' new ad, entitled, "Hope Comes Standard", which it coming out soon. I don't know if many Hyundai owners know about this, much less the general public, so I hope more people see this ad when it begins to air.

You can donate to Hyundai Hope on Wheels online. Your donation is tax-deductible, and over 90 cents out of every dollar goes directly to pediatric cancer research.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Cool frames, hot prices, free lenses at GlassesShop.com


I first started needing eyeglasses when I was about 20, and I've been wearing them 24/7 since age 30. Fifteen years after that, my vision has taken an interesting new turn: I need reading glasses. I've become that old lady who looks over the top of her glasses to read medicine labels and cereal boxes. My aging corneas can no longer adjust when switching from long-distance sight to short-distance sight.

I've never needed or wanted more than 1 pair of glasses at a time, but now I find myself wanting to own at least 3 or 4! I can't quite get used to progressive lenses just yet, and there is no way I will ever get bifocals, so I need 2 kinds: my regular glasses and my reading glasses. The problem is that I refuse to carry around 2 pairs everywhere. My mom used to have both pairs of glasses hanging on chains from her neck, and switch around when needed. Um, no. I just want to have my reading glasses lying around where I need them most: on my bedside table, at my computer desk, in the living room for watching tv, and in my purse.

I never thought I would need to look at buying glasses online, because the one pair I needed was always covered by vision insurance. But now that I want multiple pairs, I'm thinking that sites like GlassesShop.com are going to be essential! They sell inexpensive frames and lenses so even if you don't have insurance, purchasing prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

GlassesShop.com offered to send me a pair of glasses, and now I'm hooked.  Ordering from them just couldn't be easier. Just pick your frames and lenses, upload a copy of your prescription, and you'll have them in no time! They have a great choice of lenses starting at unbelievably low prices. I know, I sound like an infomercial, but $25 for frames?? I've never seen frames that low in any brick and mortar glasses shop, ever! Not only that, but when you purchase frames, you also get single vision lens, anti-scratch coating, a protective case, and a microfiber cloth included for free! Lens enhancements (i.e. progressives, tinted lenses or sunglasses, polarization, transitions, polycarbonate, etc...) do cost extra, but they still charge less than my regular shop.

The catch, of course, is that you can't try the frames on before you buy -- but GlassesShop.com lets you try them on virtually, so you feel confident that the frames will fit your face. They post detailed measurements of all their frames, not just frame width, but also bridge distance, lens width and height, and temple arms length. You can upload your photo and see how the glasses look on your face:

Here's what the software showed I would look like wearing the frame that I eventually chose:

I'm so happy with how these glasses turned out! The red frames are adorable (I've always wanted red frames, but couldn't commit to wearing them 24/7). Already I've gotten several compliments on their sassiness and style. The lenses are basic lenses (i.e. not polycarbonate) but they are very light; the weight of the frames + lenses don't bother me at all.
red glasses

Now that I need reading glasses, I can try all kinds of styles! If I had to buy 3 pairs of reading glasses from my optician, I would probably end up paying $300 per pair after the first pair, but with GlassesShop.com, I can get a basic pair for less than a movie ticket. The lowest full price I saw was $15, and the lowest sale price was $6! And with discount code GSHOT50, you'll get 50% regularly priced frames plus free lenses!

red glasses

Disclosure:  I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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McDonalds is giving away FREE merchandise to celebrate McDelivery on July 26

McDonalds McDelivery merchandise

When I first heard that McDonald's will be partnering with UberEATS to offer delivery service, I was excited. Finally, a way for people who can't get away from their desks or homes (I see you, stay-at-home moms with kids napping!) to enjoy their favorite Big Macs or McRibs! Now I'm even more excited because McDonald's will GIVING AWAY FREE McMerchandise on July 26 to celebrate! Think Big Mac onesies, Egg McMuffin hoodies, Quarter Pounder pillows and more. Go to McDeliveryatMcDonalds.com on July 25 to see if your city is one of the lucky ones that will be participating in the freebie bonanza. The McDonald's delivery service via UberEATS starts July 26.

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Summer Fun at California's Great America

Summer is halfway over, and if you haven't been to California's Great America yet, you're missing out! We spent the first half of summer traveling, but now that we're home, visits to California's Great America are definitely on our agenda. In fact, we already have season passes! Even if we weren't able to use our season passes for the first half of the summer, there's still plenty of time to enjoy all the rides and attractions at Great America. And since the season pass is good all the way through December, we get to enjoy Great America for many more months to come. That includes Halloween Haunt and Winterfest.... but I'm getting ahead of myself. There's so much summer fun to be had!

One of the best things about California's Great America during the summer is Boomerang Bay. There are times we go to the park just for Boomerang Bay! It's such a fun way to keep cool when the temperatures soar. It's by far our favorite water park in the Bay Area.  Whether you enjoy plunging down slides...

... or floating lazily on a river....

... or getting dunked while climbing on a playground, Boomerang Bay is the place to go.

Of course there are all the great Great America rides, including the meanest, fastest wooden roller coaster in the Wild Wild West, Gold Rush.

My kids adore Tiki Twirl. It's probably the only spinning ride that I enjoy, so I take advantage and ride it whenever I can!

This ride is NOT for the faint of heart. My kids could probably ride this all day long.

The double decker carousel is a perennial favorite, whether you're 2, 12, 22, or any age. The kids all have their favorite animals, and it makes a nice shady break. An added bonus: there's rarely any line!

California's Great America also has a lot of carnival games and shows, so there's plenty to keep kids entertained all day, every day. Our season pass is so worth it!

Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Save big with Groupon Coupons

Over the years, I have used Groupon to get some fantastic savings on everything from bikini waxes to driving school for my daughter to airport limos to yoga classes to a box of KrispyKreme donuts. Seriously, what could be better than a Groupon deal?  Well, how about Groupon Coupons? Now you don't have to wait for a Groupon deal to show up! With Groupon Coupons, you can enjoy great savings at your favorite stores. You can find Groupon Coupons for hundreds of stores, whether they are in your area or not.

So exactly what is Groupon Coupons? Groupon Coupons is a partnership between Groupon and over 9,000 national retailers with the aim of passing savings along to customers. Every company needs to reduce inventory through sales and this is the perfect bridge for that. Groupon Coupons is an entirely free and efficient way for shoppers to find thousands of coupons and exclusive promo codes from popular stores and companies like Sephora, Ebay, Oakley, PetSmart, Nordstrom, Walgreens, and so many more. Shoppers simply search by store to find the best deal for them.
For instance, we just got back from a fabulous vacation to the Philippines, Thailand, and Bangkok. Usually whenever we travel, I get a photo book made to commemorate our trip. Shutterfly is one of my favorite photo book companies because it's so easy to make photo books with their online software. I just upload photos and the photo book practically makes itself. Shutterfly always has great deals, but Groupon Coupons just happens to have a ton of Shutterfly coupon deals right now! I love that the deals are all in one place, so I can choose the coupon that gives me the most savings. For instance, here are some of the Shutterfly deals on Groupon right now:

  • 40% off everything
  • Free shipping
  • Free 8x8 photo book
  • Free luggage tag

Want another example? I'm currently on the market for a new cell phone -- which means I'm also on the market for a new cell phone case! It would be inconceivable for me to get a phone without a case. For my past 3 phones I have gone with Speck phone cases, and they have worked unbelievably well for me. I can't tell you how many times my phone has been saved by my Speck case! I have dropped phones on the floor, on the street, and off table edges, and my phone screen has survived intact. What's more, even though Speck phone cases offer military grade protection, they don't look like a military tank! Speck phone cases are fun and colorful and I love them.  The Groupon coupon site for Speck currently has some fantastic deals, including:

  • Free shipping on any order
  • Upgrade to 2-day shipping for only $5
  • Up to 50% off select items

These are just some of the great coupons featured on Groupon coupon!

Disclosure: This is a compensated post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Summer Camp and Label Daddy

Label Daddy

Are your kids headed out to summer camp? Make sure all the stuff is labeled so you don't have to spend a fortune replacing everything! Label Daddy labels are the perfect way to keep track of everything. These labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels -- they're washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant! Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive. You design your own labels! Pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more. These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide.

Label Daddy let me choose a set of labels so I could see how easy it is to order labels and how great the labels are. Of course, I already know this because I've been a Label Daddy customer since 2009! But Label Daddy is always innovating with new designs, colors, and fonts, so took them up on their offer. I was certainly not disappointed. It's amazing to see all the design options! Kids going off to summer camp can get labels made with logos from popular summer camps. Sports fans can get labels with logos from the NBA, MBL, and NFL. There are emoji logos and many more. You can also get labels without logos or designs.

Whatever you need for camp, Label Daddy has a label for it. Allergy labels? Check. Clothing labels? You can choose from iron-on or stick-on! Bag tags? Yup, they have it, along with shoe labels and all-purpose labels for everything from flashlights to toothbrushes.  The labels I ordered arrived quickly, and the colors were true and bright. I've never had a Label Daddy label fade, so I don't expect these will fade, either. Check off one more item from your kid's summer camp to-do list and order Label Daddy labels ASAP! You can even save 25% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFAMILY25 when you check out at www.usfamily25.labeldaddy.com
Label Daddy

Disclosure: I received free labels from Label Daddy. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Five easy snack ideas with California Walnuts

Walnuts, how do we love thee? Let me count the ways! When California Walnuts challenged me to come up with ideas for snacks or dishes using walnuts and other pantry items, it was hardly a challenge at all. Walnuts are a staple in our house. Alfie loves walnuts and eats them every single day.  We love having walnuts in our salad or on cereal. We eat walnuts with cheese, olives, and crackers. Walnuts make a great crunchy batter for fish or pork. Finally, they are wonderful in baked goods!  Here are four dishes that I was able to make using ingredients already in our kitchen -- no last minute grocery run needed:

1) Instead of munching on potato chips, grab some walnuts! Just a handful of walnuts will fill you up, and they're chock full of nutrients including omega-3 fats, folate, antioxidants and more. They're a true superfood! If you don't like raw walnuts, you can toast them with a pinch of salt, or make candied walnuts.

2) One of the easiest and most delicious ways to enjoy walnuts is to toss them into a salad. Walnuts go well with fruit and cheese (two other pantry staples!), so in the salad below we topped mixed greens with a combination of walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and cranberries. You can a drizzle of olive oil and lemon, but this salad is already so flavorful that you won't need much.
salad with walnuts

3) When we aren't in the mood for salad, we just skip the greens and enjoy walnuts, fruit, and cheese!

4) If you're in a baking mood, you can't beat walnut chocolate chip cookies! This recipe from Country Cupboard Cookies is divine. The walnuts give these cookies a wonderfully nutty taste and keep the cookies from being overly sweet. Instead of using walnut pieces as the recipe specifies, I prefer to grind the walnuts to a fine crumble. That way the walnut taste is evenly distributed across the cookie.

5) Another walnutty treat we love is cranberry orange walnut muffins. These are great for a quick, hearty breakfast.They're not overly sweet, almost like a scone, so you can enjoy them with jam or honey. They have a wonderfully fluffy, moist texture thanks my secret ingredient - yogurt - but they're nice and hearty thanks to secret ingredient number 2: walnuts! You can find the recipe on my blog. Enjoy!
walnut cranberry orange muffins

For more walnut recipes, go to walnuts.org. You 'll also find preparation tips, snack ideas, storage info, and more.

Disclosure: I received sample products from California Walnuts  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Summer fun means Label Daddy

Label Daddy

Save 25% on Label Daddy labels! Label Daddy is the number one solution for labeling your belongings! Their exclusive laminated coating gives labels an extra layer of protection and is a must for camp! Remember to label all clothing, sports equipment, electronics, and other personal belongings your kids bring to school, camp, sports leagues, day care, vacation, and other places. Label Daddy labels keep them from getting lost or mixed up with others. These labels are great for adults too! -- Put them on your sunglass/eyeglass case, phone, camera, sports equipment, tablet, e-reader, hats, clothing, and more.

These labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels -- they're washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant! Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive. You design your own labels! Pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more. These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide.

Save 25% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFAMILY25 at checkout. www.usfamily25.labeldaddy.com

Label Daddy

Disclosure: I am receiving a code for free labels in order to facilitate my review.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Meet the Easter Bunny at the Great Mall of the Bay Area!

Easter is almost here! Avoid the Easter Sunday rush and get your photos taken with the Easter Bunny before April 18. The Easter Bunny has taken up residence at the Great Mall of the Bay Area, and he's waiting to make friends with children of all ages -- including teens like my kids. It has been a while since the kids have posed for photos with the Easter Bunny, so when the opportunity arose to take some photos with the Easter Bunny, I jumped at the chance. 

You'd think my teens would be whining and groaning about it, but they more than game to see the Easter Bunny. To be honest, it's not like we need much of an excuse to visit the Great Mall of the Bay Area.  Even though it's a bit of a drive from our home, we love going to the Great Mall because there are so many outlet stores with great prices, and they're all in one place, so I can get all my clothes shopping done in one visit. My teen boys actually ask me if they can go to the Great Mall to buy clothes! Their favorite brands like Vans and PacSun and UNIQLO and Adidas and Nike and Forever 21 are all here, as well as their favorite Filipino fast food restaurant, Jollibee. 
Easter Bunny at the Great Mall of the Bay Area

 You'll find the Easter Bunny in the center court at Area 2 of the Great Mall of the Bay Area. His little spring hut is brightly decorated and the perfect setting for your family's Easter photos.

Easter Bunny at the Great Mall of the Bay Area

You can choose from several print packages which range from $25 to $35, with add-ons like photo magnets, photo keychains, and photo CD.  You can also select an all-digital package which consists of all your photos on a CD for $29.99. Each package comes with coupons for a free photo book on Shutterfly, and it's given to you in a cute shopping bag printed with images from the animated movie Sing!.

Because we live in a digital world, I selected the photo CD package. I think it's the best deal of all because you get multiple poses (we got 7!) and all the rights to the digital images, so you can send them via email, post them on social media,  or print them in any size you want.

The cd includes a printout of the thumbnails of your images, which is very important, because this printout contains the id number of each pose. When I got home and loaded the cd onto my laptop, I discovered that I had been given a blank cd! This was annoying, as you can imagine, but thanks to responsive customer service and those all-important id numbers, I was able to contact someone and they were able to retrieve my images! I was so relieved and happy. I can't give enough praise to the Great Mall customer service team as well as the Noerr Programs Photography team for how they handled the whole thing.

Despite that momentary glitch, all's well that ends well. How could I not be happy with these happy smiles?!  It has been a while since my kids visited the Easter Bunny, so it was quite the reunion. They were a bit too large to sit on his lap, but there was plenty of room on Easter Bunny's garden bench.
Easter Bunny photos
Easter Bunny photos
Easter Bunny photos

The kids had so much fun hamming it up with the Easter Bunny. My favorite photo is this one, where they're all giving each other Bunny Ears!
Easter Bunny photos

Disclosure: This is a compensated post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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