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Stefani Tolson

About Stefani Tolson

Stefani Tolson is a multi-tasking mom of 4, PR friendly, a freelance writer, web designer, cook & more!

Danny’s Mini Donuts (Old Sacramento)

This Mother’s Day I only asked for one thing. I wanted to go to Danny’s Mini Donuts in Old Sacramento. This place has the BEST mini donuts and I have always had them made by Danny himself! If you have been to Old Sacramento, Danny’s Donuts is right across from the railroad museum and right by a parking garage so you can go walking around Old Sac once you are done with your donuts.

Danny's Mini Donuts in Old Sacramento

What makes these donuts so special is they are made HOT on the spot! When you eat them right when they are made they MELT in your mouth. They come in a variety too! I always get the powdered sugar donuts but you can get them in cinnamon sugar, glazed and plain!

Danny's Mini Donuts in Old Sacramento

On this last visit we got a few orders of the powdered sugar donuts like I normally get but I also wanted to try the cinnamon and sugar donuts which were really good too!

Danny's Mini Donuts - Cinnamon & Sugar

Danny’s Mini Donuts also has other desserts like pies, shakes, root beer floats, hot fudge sundaes and more. Visit Danny’s for more info at: www.minidonutsoldsac.com

 

5 Fantastic Fall Tours You Will Want To Take

Great Wall Of China

Do you like to travel?  Below you will find five different fall tours that you might want to experience:

  1. Greenland Fall Colors + Northern Lights – Explore and photograph fantastic landscapes of pristine beauty, exotic, arctic wildlife and northern lights. This fall tour demonstrates the beauty Greenland during a time of the year when warm fall colors contrast with the cool blues of icebergs and glaciers. October is also one of the best times of the year to see the magnificent Northern Lights. This 8-day/9-night adventure starts at $7,600 and is a splendid introduction to Greenland. http://bigchilladventure.com/trips/greenland-october-2015/
  1. Great Wall of China Beautiful Colors – In autumn, beautiful colors adorn Beijing and the forests surrounding nearby sections of the Great Wall of China. Smoke trees, maple, persimmon, and dozens of other species turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange, usually between mid-October and mid-November. Explore Beijing and its most popular attractions on this week-long China tour. Visit the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven. Hike along the renowned Great Wall, and try your hand at cooking Chinese cuisine. This tour starts at $1,635. http://www.adventure-life.com/tours/beautiful-beijing-the-wall-4336
  1. Blue Ridge Mountains Bike Tour – The quality of cycling routes in Brevard, North Carolina may very well be amongst the best in the country. Extreme elevations and more than 100 species of deciduous trees give the Blue Ridge Mountains one of the longest and most vibrant leaf seasons. This fall tour is the perfect opportunity to log some late season miles and witness the changing of the seasons through the beauty of the fall colors. The terrain offers amazing routes for cycling and will include valleys, winding mountainous roads, long elevated climbs and amazing descents. This 6-day/5-night tour starts at $2,195. http://thecyclinghouse.com/trip/north-carolina/
  1. Fall Trout Fishing in Montana – In Montana, dominant golden hues begin peaking in early October, with colorful trees including maples, larch and aspen. There also is no better time tofish Montana for large trout than October. The Big Hole Lodge, one of the great fly fishing destinations in North America, offers unmatched wild trophy trout fishing. This Orvis Endorsed lodge is nestled in a magnificent wilderness setting in the Pioneer Mountains of Montana with a beautiful trout stream at its doorstep. This 6/day/5-night tour starts at $3,675. http://www.frontierstravel.com/big-hole
  1. Tuscany Harvest Season by Bike – Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Italy. Crowds are thinning, prices and temperatures are dropping, harvest season is underway, and the food is fantastic.  Fall colors can be found in vineyards, foothills, and mountains in mid-October and into November. This bicycle tour savors the best of the incredibly rich and varied cultural wealth and natural beauty of Tuscany. It is an evocative time to travel to Italy, with hillsides cloaked in ready-to-pick grapes and a fragrance of fermenting wine permeating the air. http://ciclismoclassico.com/trips/bike-tour-tuscany-chianti-pienza-siena

Hagen’s The Original Orange Freeze #Carmichael

Hagen's - The Original Orange Freeze

When I was a child one of my favorite things to do was go over to my aunt’s house. Of course I wanted to go to play with my cousin but my aunt also lived right next to this place called Merlino’s Orange Freeze. They had the BEST orange frozen treats ever. I remember that my cousin and I would save up our money just so we could walk over and get one of the orange freeze treats.

When you think about something, sometimes it appears. Well just a couple weeks ago I was talking about the orange freezes I would have as a kid and I wish they still had them around. Well just this week I happened to drive past the old Merlino’s Freeze I used to go to as a child. It said Hagen’s The Original Orange Freeze on the front. I drove by and then had to stop and turn around. It was hot and one of those orange freeze drinks sure sounded delicious. I told my husband I had to find out if they had them.  We went inside and the first thing I asked when the gal asked me if she could help me was if the orange freezes where the same thing from over 20 years ago. When she said yes and told me the story of how the business got it’s new name, I was excited. Not excited that Merlino’s had went out of business, but that the new owner had kept the same recipes!

Original Orange Freeze

They have other flavors like watermelon, strawberry, pineapple, peach and more. I remember trying other flavors when I was young but the orange flavor was my all time favorite. They have these delicious drinks in three sizes too (small, medium, large). I got a medium size which was more than enough. I have also been craving another one of these since I had one.

While I was there I couldn’t pass up ordering a cheeseburger and fries too.

Cheeseburger - Hagans Original Orange Freeze

What I like about this little spot is that you can eat outdoors on the nice days. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating along with a great menu of food and friendly staff.

Hagens The Original Orange Freeze

Would I come back? Yes, definitely! I can’t wait to have another Orange Freeze this summer and try out some of the other food on the menu.

Hagen’s The Original Orange Freeze is located at: 2520 Walnut Ave, Carmichael, CA 95608

California Condor Rescue Zone – Los Angeles Zoo

Disclosure – I received an invite to the #DisneyNatureBears event. All expenses were paid for and covered by Disney. This post is not a paid post and the opinions stated herein are 100% my own.

California Condor Rescue Zone at Los Angeles Zoo

Earlier this year I visited the Los Angeles Zoo where they have the California Condor Rescue Zone. If you or your children have an interest in condors, this is a great place to visit to learn more about what it takes to protect the condors and how the Los Angeles Zoo takes part in the survival of these birds.

When you first walk into the California Condor Rescue Zone you are welcomed with a play area that has been designed for elementary school aged children. I will have to admit that I was there without my children and enjoyed the experience so you don’t have to be a kid to have fun here too!

Condor costume - Californa Condor Rescue Zone

While at the California Condor Rescue Zone you can learn about the life of the California Condor in the wild. You can also learn how the Los Angeles Zoo is trying to rescue this species from extinction with the California Condor Recovery Program.

You can also pretend to be a zoo vet. Or learn about the bad things that thee condors eat that they should not be eating.

Condor rescue zonecontents of condors stomach - los angeles zoo

Before we left the California Condor Zone we got a chance to meet Dolly, a California Condor. Dolly just isn’t any ordinary condor, Dolly has a story.

Dolly originally was an egg that was laid at the condor facility at the Oregon Zoo. She was hatched in Pinnacles National Park and then transferred to the wild. At four months old a zoo veterinarian noticed there was something wrong with Dolly’s wing and she underwent two different surgeries and it was determined that Dolly would never be able to fly. The Los Angeles Zoo did not want to put Dolly in danger so they decided to have her become the nation’s Condor Ambassador!

Dolly -  Condor AmbassadorDolly is not the only condor you can see while you are the Los Angeles Zoo. You will also see the Andean condors. They are a South American bird in the New World vulture family.

Andean Condor at Los Angeles Zoo

If you enjoy the condor species you will love taking a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo. For more information on this zoo visit: http://lazoo.org.

Tips For Cruises To The Bahamas

Since the Bahamas is comprised of many islands and cays with a tropical climate, many vacationers visit the Bahamas throughout the year. If you are considering a visit to the Bahamas, perhaps a cruise would be the perfect way to travel.

Bahamas

There are many things that you will want to do and see when you are in the Bahamas.  Here are some tips for cruises you might want to know before you head out on your cruise.

Tips For Cruises

What You May Need

  • The wonderful idea behind a cruise is that you will not need to bring as much as if you were staying at a hotel. For the most part, a cruise includes all your basic necessities such as toiletries and does not have the same restrictions as air flight. Airlines have placed restrictions on goods that are more than a few ounces in weight. Check with your local cruise facility to see what, if any, restrictions may apply.
  • Be sure to dress properly for warmer climate. Sunscreen and a sunhat may be items you wish to bring along for your protection. Most cruise ships also have fewer restrictions on how much luggage you can bring aboard. Check with your cruise facility to see what their rules may be.
  • Your passport is essential for your travel to the Bahamas. Make sure that you have a safe place to keep it and remember where that place is. Many times we pack something away for safekeeping and have done such a good job securing it that we forget exactly where we have put it.
  • Be aware of fees associated with non-cash purchases. If you are purchasing a beverage plan with your cruise, you want to make sure that you have enough cash on hand for things such as excursions and island shopping. Often times, you will have a better negotiating handle when you are using cash.
  • You may also want to look into a calling plan that incorporates international usage. Check with your cell phone carrier to inquire what they offer and for what duration. Unfortunately, for some travelers, some business just will not wait. Check your carrier to see if they offer internet service in the cabin.

Travel Time

  • The Bahamas typically have a temperate climate all year round. Most of the activities center on the water in the Bahamas. Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, and sunbathing are just among the few activities on the water.
  • Spring through fall have typically fine weather to enjoy the Bahamas, with winter being a bit more chilly. Some golf enthusiasts enjoy golfing in the winter in the Bahamas, as the weather is a bit cooler.

The Sea

  • Hurricane season is most prevalent from early spring throughout the end of November in the Bahamas. The peak for hurricanes is typically August and September. If you are not afraid of traveling and possibly having a change of plans, you will find rates much cheaper during this time of year.
  • Whether you have taken a cruise to the Bahamas before or not, being prepared as on any other vacation will ensure smoother sailing as you go along.

If you have ever been on a cruise to the Bahamas, feel free to leave a comment with your tips below.

Family Adventure: Travel to Egypt

Philae temple

Egypt has come a long way in regard to tourism. It is more than just pyramids and other ancient monuments (although those are incredible attractions). It’s becoming more popular as a family vacation area, because there is something for everyone there. Here are some ideas about what to do with your family in Egypt.

  • Entertainment – There is a thriving night life in Egypt. Dance clubs and other entertainments are available in the cities. Some hotels offer entertainment on site in the form of youth clubs. There are cafes, amusement parks, shows, dancers, and all sorts of entertainment for all ages. Golf lovers can play a round of golf with the beautiful pyramids looming in the background. While Dad plays golf, Mom and the kids can enjoy water sports, swimming pools, or shopping.
  • Water sports – Very thriving in Egypt! There is scuba diving, parasailing, and beautiful boat rides on the ancient Nile. There are seaside resorts that are child-friendly, too, taking the family beach vacation to another level.
  • Shopping – Beautiful shopping malls grace the cityscape of Egypt. Because there are so many other attractions in Egypt, one adult can take the kids to do something kid-friendly while another adult enjoys him or herself shopping.
  • History – The history of Egypt is still one of its main attractions, and for good reason. The Egyptian culture goes back thousands of years and was amazingly advanced in some ways. There are so many exciting things to do in this culturally and historically rich country. You can take camel safaris, donkey rides, and watch belly dancers. You can explore fascinating history and modern entertainments. Egypt truly is the total package.
  • Food – The local cuisine is exciting and enriching, but American chains abound as well. This is a boon for parents of young children who are picky about trying new fare, or who rely on cheeseburgers to get their kids to eat out.

Here are some recommended places to see:

  • Valley of the Kings – You and your family can take donkey rides above the area.
  • The pyramids – Go to Giza, Saqqara, and Dashur. Tours abound and are fascinating for everyone in the family. The low ceilings of the passageways leading into the pyramids are just the right height for children!
  • The museum at Cairo – Full of ancient Egyptian history. Mummies, artifacts, the entire Tutankhamen collection and much more are there for the viewing. If your children did not have an interest in Egyptian history before, they will after visiting the Cairo museum.

One Thing I LOVE About RENO

Yesterday we took a trip to Reno, Nevada for the day. I love this city but it had been about 5 years since I had last seen it. When it comes to the casinos, I always have my eye on these…

Wheel of Fortune slot machine

I was surprised on how many different Wheel of Fortune slot machines I seen. We seen them at the Atlantis, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus. So many different different versions now than the last time I was here. My favorite are the Wheel of Fortune slot machines that say 25¢ on them. I always hit the max bet button in homes for a SPIN!

While I was hoping to win big, I broke even! It was fun though and I got some drinks on the house!

5 Recommended Kid Friendly US Destinations

There are lots of kid-friendly destinations all over the US as well as around the world. Here are just 5 destinations in the US that we recommend considering on your next family vacation.

 

1.  Disney World.  This ultimate family vacation has been the source of great joy for adults and kids alike.  Whether you stay several miles from the theme park or enjoy the onsite amenities, this vacation affords you an endless array of activities designed for the entire family.  From Epcot Center to Sea World; from Disney Village to Universal Studios; Water parks to Wildlife parks; no time is wasted at this world-famous resort.

magic-kingdom

Moreover, many online travel sites are offering special packages to Disney World as well as Southwest Airlines and others.  In addition, you can save quite a bit of money by selecting hotels that offer free stays for children, as well as free meals for the little ones. This is one destination where you can easily book a trip based on your budget and stick to it.

2.    Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.  From Alaska to Wyoming, there are a multitude of dude ranches perfect for a family vacation.  But, one of the most notable is the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Colorado, approximately 20 miles from Rock Mountain National Park.  Here, your family can engage in an array of activities including: horseback riding, hayrides, nature walks, and a host of amenities provided by the ranch.

This dude ranch is perfect for families who love the outdoors as well as enjoy visiting such historic sites as Fort Collins, Old West Museums, and Cheyenne (where you can buy tickets to the world’s largest rodeo held from July 17 to the 26th).

3.    Hawaii.   While Oahu has always been a popular destination, it is Maui that attracts family vacationers more than any of its islands.  The reason is that it offers a wide variety of activities such as whale watching (seasonal); Lahaina, a famous whaling village; and Maui Ocean Center, home to the largest aquarium in Hawaii.

Your family can also take a ride on the Sugar Cane Train, circa 1890; visit Oheo Gulch to marvel at the spectacular waterfalls; spend a day at Iao Valley and view the Iao Needle; or visit the black-sand beaches at Waianapanapa in East Maui.

For fabulous weather, magnificent sunsets, and beautiful beaches; Maui is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy spending quality family time.

4.    New York.  Probably the most exciting vacation spot for families is New York.  The “Big Apple” has something for everyone; from Broadway to Rockefeller Center, you will never run out of things to do here.  Among the many sites to visit is Radio City Music Hall where you can take in a show; Madison Square Garden; the Empire State Building; the Village; 42nd Street, the Theatre District; museums; shopping, fabulous cuisine; the list is endless.

20120806_166

Spend a day walking along Fifth Avenue and stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; take a tour of NBC Studios; spend an afternoon in Central Park and visit the zoo there; go to the South Street Seaport or take in a matinee performance on a Wednesday afternoon. If you are bringing the kids, be sure to check out the Toys ‘R Us in Times Square!

Whether you stay uptown or downtown, you will always be in close proximity to the many historic sites and sounds that comprise Manhattan.  Moreover, your kids will enjoy all this city has to offer.

5.    Las Vegas.  The city that never sleeps offers a wide range of attractions for kids.  This is why it is among the top family destinations in the US today.  Moreover, it is an affordable vacation because the hotel packages and meals will fit any budget.

Among the many attractions offered for families include: M&M’s World, the Lion Habitat at MGM, Adventure Canyon, Game Works (a video game-playing wonderland), Sports Park, Circus Circus rides; Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage hotel; Shark Reef; New York, New York’s roller coaster; Madame Tussaud’s; Lake Mead; Children’s Museum (the largest of its kind); and Adventuresdome, the largest theme park in the U.S.

Many of these attractions are free and are well worth visiting.  Don’t forget the Flamingo Habitat at the Flamingo hotel or the spectacular water fountain show across the way at Caesars Palace.

For great fun and awesome rides and venues, Las Vegas is a wonderful choice for your next family vacation.

Preparing For A Family Road Trip

road-trip-carDeciding on a family road trip can be a big challenge for some families, not to mention an exercise in patience. If you prepare for your vacation ahead of time, the trip can be one of the most memorable experiences for you and your family.

Here are some quick and easy tips for making your family road trip a fun and safe one.

First you will want to prepare a checklist of items that you will need during your trip. This will include first aid kit, food, snacks, drinks, and lots of toys, coloring books, paper and crayons, a portable DVD player so your kids can watch their favorite movies; and a cooler. A good idea is to ask the kids what games they would like to take, within limits of course.

Ensure that the snacks are healthy in nature. Too many sugar snacks can have the kids bouncing off the car seats. Remember, this is a relaxing family vacation and you want to avoid the kids getting bored or repeatedly asking you when you are going to arrive.

Check online to print out games for the road that you and the kids can play along the way. There are an assortment of puzzles and riddles as well.

In addition, if you have very young children you will need to take the diaper bag and wipes for the occasional spills, blankets and pillows if applicable and a favorite item or stuffed animal for the young ones is a good idea as well.

Second, decide on the destination and then contact AAA for a trip ticket. Ask for the scenic route, one that is much more calming and pleasing to the eye, especially the driver!

Third, as you check out the planned route you may want to check online to find gas stations along the way that offer the cheapest gas. Also if there are any points of interest along the route mark them on the map and plan to stop at these sites.

Fourth, while on the road ensure that you make pit stops regularly. This will allow the kids to run around and let off some steam, while allowing the adults to stretch and re-energize. Bring along a football or soccer ball so that the entire family can have some fun while exercising at the same time.

Finally, it is very important that safety concerns are met. This includes having the car checked at your local mechanic or gas station. Ensure that the oil and filter are changed; the tires are well inflated (don’t forget the spare tire, too); the windshield wipers are replaced (if needed); and the car is in great condition before you head out.

In addition, you may want to place the following items in your trunk: a lawn chair, extra blanket, emergency road kit, umbrellas, water, flashlight and batteries, a battery-powered radio, and windshield wiper cleaner. In the glove compartment include a first aid kit and cell phone charger. Keep all medications in a Ziploc bag in the glove compartment as well.

Another good idea is to take a list of telephone numbers including the hotel or motel where you are staying as well as those of family and friends you may need to contact.

scrapbookingIf you enjoy scrapbooking, this road trip may be a perfect opportunity to add new treasures to the book. As you make stops at some scenic sites, ask the kids to find an item they would like to include in the scrapbook. Or if the kids point out something along the way that they find fascinating, take a picture of it to include in the scrapbook as well.

Engage the kids in the decision making, age appropriate, and allow them to decide what they would like to bring. Have them pack their clothes (check the suitcases afterwards) so they feel part of the overall experience. Planning ahead of time for a family road trip will save you time, stress, and money. And the kids will enjoy this adventure, too!

Five Important Tips When Planning A Camping Trip

While getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the reasons families choose to go camping, for kids – it’s the ultimate adventure.   If you are planning a family camping trip this summer, here are some tips that will ensure your vacation is both a safe and fun experience.

Camping Sign

1. Pre-camping preparation.  If you have small children, you may want to select a tent that will accommodate all if you comfortably.  On the other hand, if you are camping with older children, it may be a good idea to purchase additional pup tents to give them some sense of independence.

Another great tip is to practice assembling the tents in your backyard so as to avoid wasting time at the camp site.

2. Selecting a campsite.  Depending upon whether you decide to “rough it” or choose a campsite that is close to amenities, you can research the many campsites online that offer comprehensive information on the area.  This will enable you to decide not only what equipment, clothing, and food you need to take, but the available hiking areas and points of interest as well.

Ensure that the campsite you select is an official campsite area.  Moreover, when researching camping sites it’s a good idea to look for those areas that are on the high ground.  Thus, if it rains, your tent and equipment will not become water logged.

3. Make a checklist.  This is very important to ensure you do not forget anything on your camping trip. Among the items on your checklist, some of the more important items you will need are:

* Cooking gear such as a frying pan, a few pots, a bucket, barbecue grill or stove, bags with a Ziploc, and cooking utensils.  In addition, food containers and canned goods are best.  It is also recommended that you prepare meals at home and package them in containers for the trip.  Also bring water, a can opener, hot water kettle and coffee pot, and a cooler with a block of ice.

* Packing the appropriate clothing is also essential.  Depending upon the location, wearing light layers is a good idea as well as packing some sweaters and jackets for the evening hours.  Extra socks, hats, and gloves may also be warranted. If you intend to engage in some hiking, proper hiking boots are necessary.

* Sleeping bags, first aid kit, flashlights, cell phone, garbage bags, toiletries, sunscreen, ointments, a map of the area, insect repellent, games for the kids, and rainwear.

For a complete checklist on what to bring on a camping trip, there are many camping websites that offer a myriad of suggestions.

4.    When you reach the camp site, choose an area to set up the tents. Ensure there are no rocks or debris where the tent will be set up.  Most campgrounds will post warning signs or instructions regarding specific animals and vegetation.

5.    When preparing a campfire, if appropriate, ensure that it is set up further away from the tents.  After you have roasted the marshmallows, sang songs, and told ghost stories; douse the fire before going to bed.

Finally, enjoy the entire camping experience.  Sleeping under the stars, communing with nature, and relishing the time spent with family will not only bring a family closer together, but the memories of this experience will last forever.

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