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Friday, January 19, 2018

Tasting My Way Through Yolo County - Taste of Yolo

I was not paid for this blog post, however I did receive a complimentary admission to the event to facilitate this article.

Join me on my exciting adventure at Taste of Yolo, won't you?

Hemly Cider, capay organic, capay valley, farmers market, mckinneymommas

It may not be the largest foodie event in California, but Yolo County can sure put on a spread.  

I was excited to attend this food and wine event at Central Park in #Davis, where surrounding wineries, farms and restaurants brought out their best products to sample and share with the community. 

All attendees received a nice, reusable bag to carry swag, pamphlets, and also included a beautiful wine glass, just the right size for tasting samples throughout the park. 

There was a detailed map inside of the swag bag, which made it easy to find your favorite farms, restaurants and wineries - all categorized by region. The Yolo County areas included:

  • Capay Valley
  • Clarksburg
  • Davis
  • West Sacramento
  • Winters and
  • Woodland

The closest "region" to the main entrance was Clarksburg, so I made that be my first stop. Hemly Cider caught my eye with it's chalkboard sign advertising samples of Jalapeno Pear Cider. 

Now, I'm not a fan of sweet ciders, but love to try any new funky combo so I requested a pour. This was a pretty fun, unfiltered, cider, just the right amount of spice and not too sweet. Did I mention that the only ciders Hemly makes are from the pears grown on their 165 year old estate?  

The only thing I love more than a good cider, is one with some history - and this one was both!

Hemly Cider, jalapeno pear cider, davis, mckinney mommas,

The next stop in the Clarksburg section was Séka Hills at The Old Sugar Mill  - with a fantastic Rose of Syrah - very nice people and lovely wines, a perfect compliment to the warm weather we were enjoying. 

Seka Hills, rose of syrah, mckinney mommas, davis, wine

After a few samples of wine, I figured I should stop to take a bite of something to balance out the delicious vino.  So, I found my way to the Winters section, where there was a crazy intense buzzing around an empty table of food. 

I figured there was a reason people were still hanging around, so I also waited, and caught the re-fill in progress in the video below.

I might have a had to wait another round to get my sample - but it was 

OH, so worth it! 

The Buckhorn Steakhouse put out a perfectly balanced Farmers Market Crostini, built on a grilled kalamata olive baguette, a smear of fresh farmers market cheese, and topped with a fork-tender tri-tip and finished with a tangy chimichurri sauce.

buckhorn steakhouse, appetizer, tri tip, mckinneymommas, davis, chimichurri

I'm going to have to plan a trip to Winters very soon to check out the Buckhorn Steakhouse in person! If this sample was an indicator of their offerings - I'm going to be a very pleased eater indeed! 

The DIY stage had a nice lineup of Chef demonstrations, of which I was only able to catch one. Stazi Dulman from Nugget Markets put on a very informative and delicious presentation on pickling spring vegetables.

The lineup for the DIY Stage was:
  • Ann Evans - author of Davis Farms Market Cookbook - canning apricot jam and pickled onions
  • Stazi Dulman - Chef at Nugget Market - pickling spring vegetables
  • Kevin O'Connor - Chef at Cobram Estate - olive oil demo
  • Hannah Muller - Full Belly Farm - making bouquets with spring flowers

The Black Bicycle Farm drew me to their booth with the lovely aroma of fresh lavender of which they were giving sample bouquets (that kept my swag bag smelling very sweet) and some very cool stickers. 

I had never heard of this farm, in my very own town of Davis before, which is why I love events like this. They apparently have estate grown olive oil for sale, and will be opening a tasting room for their vineyard grown wines in June 2018. 

I can't wait to visit their Vineyard.

simas family, capay valley, capay valley vineywards, sparkling tempranillo, mckinneymommas

About half way through the event, I began to wander around sniffing out booths that looked interesting and made my way to a few tastings and samples which I enjoyed, not region specific (photo above):
  • Capay Valley Vineyards - the sweetest family owns this vineyard - likely it will be Tom or Pam (owners since 1998) pouring you a taste of their amazingly refreshing Sparkling Tempranillo - yes, I will have another pour, thank you!
  • Nugget Markets put out a cooling and very richly flavored Cilantro Gazpacho sample, of which I wouldn't have minded taking a whole bowl home!
  • Taber Ranch Vineyard pouring samples, looked like a beautiful place for weddings, and other events in Capay Valley. 

Chef Ryan Scott, top chef, davis, central park, foodie

Next stop, time to give my feet a break and sit down for a demonstration on the Nugget Stage. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see veteran Top Chef (2007) Ryan Scott doing a cooking demo, in which he included many guests in the audience, that got to participate in crazy shenanigans - each of them loving every second of it. 

I found out that Chef Scott is a frequent guest on the Rachael Ray show, and after meeting him, I was happy to find he was was quite down to earth. He was very happy to pose for photos and sign autographs for young fans (pictured above). 

Heck, he even took a #selfie with me which was a fun memory! 

Maria's Cantina, woodland, taste of yolo, morgans on main, savory cafe

After an entertaining demo at the Nugget Stage, I made my way to the Woodland section, where I found some super tasty bites (pictured above).

Maria's Cantina was serving up an Elote Salad - if I was being picky it was slightly thick and the cheese tasted like cheddar instead of a more traditional cotija or similar.  I think of Elote as more tangy and spicy. Either way, it was a welcomed bite served with a dried plantain chip.

Morgan's on Main was serving a beautiful Strawberry Lemon Cream Tart - a very nice treat.

Finally, Savory Cafe was working hard to get all their Belgian endive filled with hummus, olive tapenade tapenade, red pepper and a micro greens topping.  It was a eye catching presentation with the two colors of endive, and despite being not extremely experimental - all flavors and portions were executed perfectly to create one very nicely balanced bite!

craft beer, honey blonde hibiscus, ipa, davis, UCDavis

After my belly was full, I kept seeing people walking around with this pink/peach looking drink that looked tasty. I got up the courage to ask a fellow what it was so I could try it myself. 

Found out it was a Hibiscus Honey Blonde from Three Mile Brewing (Davis) - a relatively new brewery in Davis, CA. Made with local honey and dried hibiscus flowers, this unique pink brew was just what I was looking for on a warm summer day.

Three Mile Brewing gets mad points for making this pink ale not too sweet - even though the color would indicate otherwise. I'm not into sweet brews!

mckinneymommas, woodland, craft beer, blue note brewing

As I walked up to Blue Note Brewing, I remembered a friend of mine asked me to meet her there a few months back for a beer and some live music. I wasn't able to, and after tasting their Hopamine Mosaic Pale Ale, I regretted not making the trip.

Woodland is only a 15 minute drive from Davis, and the downtown area is really starting to get exciting with new restaurants and breweries. Blue Note is no exception, a family friendly spot with picnic tables inside and room to hang out with the whole family while sampling unique craft beer. 

I think I'll go this weekend and check it out.

I have a lot more photos of booths, pours, bites and fun at Taste of Yolo, but I don't want to overwhelm you. So, I'll leave you with this fun clip I took of the main man at Berryessa Gap Winery pouring his selections through a crazy cool elephant spout!

Trust me. 

You won't be disappointed if you meet me at Taste of Yolo this year! 

(Taste of Yolo 2018 date to be announced!)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

California H2O School Challenge - deadline 1/31/18

This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are my own and may not reflect those of the companies described.

I grew up in Southern California, but never thought much about water conservation as a kid - maybe it wasn't such a big deal back then.  

However, when I moved out of state for 12 years and back just a few years ago I could feel the serious need for myself as a Californian to conserve water.

When I bought my first house, a few years ago, I found myself filling a tub of water to wash dishes instead of running the faucet like I used to for each dish.  Also, we as a household decided to..... "if it's yellow, let it mellow". Yes, gross, I know, but a water saving option.
I often take the water I used to blanch broccoli or cook pasta and use it to water the plants once it's cooled.  I'm always thinking about water now as a Californian - because it's important.

Important for me and most importantly, my children's future given the current state of California's drought. 

Luckily, there are programs that are helping our children to learn about being water-wise and actually be awarded for creating new ways for conserving our precious water in California. 

Photo courtesy of

Cal Water H2O Challenge’s Classroom Challenge 

There's still time to enter (January 31st, 2018 is the last entry date) for your school or classroom, grades 4-6 to come up with a project - with teacher direction - to explore how water is a global and local resource, and attempt to preserve water in your community. 

A great resource, if you, or your teacher is interested in finding great lesson plans, or participating in the challenge, can be found at:

The most important prize is saving water for generations to come - but in this challenge - kids can also win some awesome prizes:

Grand Prize
Class Celebration: Classroom tent-camping trip to the Santa Monica Mountains with NatureBridge
Class Funding: $3,500 grant

Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

2nd Place
Class Celebration: A Pizza Party
Class Funding: $2,500 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

3rd Place
Class Funding: $2,000 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

4th Place
Class Funding: $1,000 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

All Participant Prizes:
Student Recognition: A certificate of participation for every student
Teacher Recognition: A teacher certificate Teacher Gift: An AMEX gift card 

To learn more about the Cal Water H2O challenge, access the resource center, and read the FAQ section, please visit:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

5 Better Breakfast Tips For Kids!

I was not paid for this post, just passing along information I found to be helpful myself :-)
Well, I'm a little late to the game since September is "National Better Breakfast Month" and there are only a few days left in the month...

However, we shouldn't stop eating healthy just because it's almost October, right? Right.

I often struggle getting my three kids out the door for school in the morning, making sure they've had a healthy breakfast before the bell rings.  I came across some great reminders written by Barbara’s & Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert, mom of 3 and best-selling author of Eating in Color, and thought I'd share them with you. 

  1. Breakfast Time over Screen Time – Mornings are hectic, especially at the beginning of the school year, before everyone has settled into their schedules. Make it clear to your kids that breakfast time needs to come before they turn on the TV or play with their phone.
  2. Better Breakfasts – Barbara’s Breakfast Survey revealed that juice and cereal are the most common breakfast foods on school days: 71% of children drink fruit juice and 95% of children eat cereal. Clearly, kids love juice and cereal but you can still help them make better choices. For example, 100% fruit juice rather than “drinks” or “blends” and lower sugar cereals like Barbara’s Puffins, which are also packed with whole grains.
  3. Add Color!  Studies show that kids like food that’s colorful, so take the opportunity to fit in an extra serving of antioxidant and vitamin C-rich fruit--and tempt their taste buds--by offering brightly colored berries, diced apple and melon, or sliced grapes and kiwi fruit on the breakfast table.
  4. Streamline Set Up – Having a sit-down breakfast is much more doable if you do a little prep in advance. Set up the breakfast table the night before: Clear clutter, and set out bowls, spoons, and napkins. Then all you need to do in the morning is serve the food!
  5. Always Have Backup! – There are some days when you just have to grab and go! Being prepared with a healthy back up option is smart. I like to make extra whole grain pancakes on the weekend and freeze them for a rainy day.

As much as I would love to cook them a hot breakfast each morning, it's just not happening every day so cereal is our easiest breakfast meal.  My girls' favorite Barbara's cereal has been Cinnamon Puffins.

What's your kiddo's favorite breakfast cereal?  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Problem With Picky Eaters? #DailySunshine Shakes To The Rescue

I was given complimentary samples of this product to facilitate this post. All opinions are 100% my own and may not reflect the opinion of the company described. 

Luckily, I was blessed with children who aren't picky eaters.  

My problem is that I can't keep up with the quantity of food they seem to need to ingest, to fill their giant sized tiny bellies.

I swear 10 minutes after they finish lunch, they ask me for a snack. Not a joke. Sometimes I feel like I should just live in the kitchen because chances are, in 10 minutes one of my three girls will be requesting another snack.

#Beachbody, #beachbodyondemand, #shakeology, #DailySunshine

Since they never stop eating, it's important to me that I'm feeding them food that fuels their body and provides essential nutrients - not just empty calories.

Now, I had heard of #Beachbody, Shakeology and #BeachbodyOnDemand before, but what does this have to do with nutritional snacks for kids?
Turns out, they have a yummy smoothie blend called #DailySunshine that is a fruit and veggie shake blend containing healthy fats and plant based protein. 

#Beachbody, #beachbodyondemand, #shakeology, #DailySunshine

The question though, is of course, "will my kid drink it".............

Often, I find a snack with a good source of protein and vitamins, but my kids just won't like it.  

All three of my kiddos tried Daily Sunshine, and asked for more...

which I take as a good sign! In fact, I may have snuck a few shakes myself when I was feeling like something sweet in the afternoon, but didn't want to make a bad snacking choice. 

One of my favorite things about these shakes are that they blended up really easily, without being lumpy.  One of my complaints about another whey protein powder I use is that unless you use a blender, there will be lumps (yuck).  The Daily Sunshine packets, easily blend in a shaker cup with just 8 ounces of water or milk. 

My daughter also had fun adding her own extras to the shake, blending up frozen blueberries, peaches and chia seeds for an antioxidant punch.  

Benefits of Daily Sunshine
  • One packet is equivalent to 1 FULL serving of fruits and veggies
  • Made with organic fruits and vegetables
  • Made with organic pea protein (10 grams of protein per packet)
  • Healthy fats - ALA omega-3 fatty acids
  • Contains fiber and probiotics to support healthy digestion

After experimenting with adding our own ingredients, as well as blending with ice, and simply shaking in the shaker cup - I'd definitely purchase these shake packets for my kids.

All three of my kids (6, 5 and 3) loved the taste of both the Strawberry Banana and also the Chocolate Daily Sunshine, for a healthy snack after Tball practice, school, and weekend errands. 

To find out more about this nutritional shake for kids, or to purchase, visit:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Baby Shower Essentials #Giveaway - ends 8/31

I'm officially through having babies. But, I still like to hold them and think about how just three short years ago I was flipping through catalogs, trying to find the best baby gear for my little minion.

Well, instead I'll pass along the gift to you, since I'm not having anymore, there is this awesome giveaway for all the essentials you'll need Mommy Scene's Baby Shower Essentials & top picks for feeding, clothing, diapering, and setting up baby's nursery!

 Don't miss entering this fabulous Baby Shower Essentials Giveaway for the chance to win these must-have baby products!

Baby Shower Essentials Gift Guide Giveaway - Mommy Scene

Baby Shower Essentials Giveaway - Prize Collection

LILLEbaby COMPLETE Airflow Baby Carrier
Baby K'tan Chevron Diaper Bag
Babo Botanicals Convenient 3-in-1 Cleansing Wipes
Revelae Kids Cozy Sleeper
Yummi Pouch Brights Reusable Food Pouches & Cloth Snack Bags
Pacific Baby Bamboo Feeding Spoons
Baby Comfy Kit:Â Snot Trap Baby Comfy Nasal Aspirator - Baby Comfy Nail Deluxe Safety Clipper - Baby Comfy Hydrator - Baby Comfy Gummi Chewy Jewelry
Active Essentials Unscented Healing Baby Balm
Crane Drop Humidifier
Cover My Heart Chevron Nursing Cover
NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle
BabyIt Perineal Massage & Postpartum Comfort Gel
Tottigo Pack 'n Potty Travel Potty Seat
One Z Pillow for Nursing & Support
NOURISH by BeliBea Pumping/Nursing Bra
Snuggle Me Organic Co-Sleeping Baby Lounger
Buttons Diapers Trial Pack of Diapers (1 Cover + 3 Inserts) + Hanging Wet/Dry Bag

This giveaway is coordinated by Mommy Scene and is open to US entries ages 18 and older. No purchase required to enter. One (1) winner will be randomly chosen and contacted through e-mail, and their name displayed on the giveaway widget after the giveaway ends on 8/31/17. Mommy Scene and participating blogs are not responsible for fulfilling brand-sponsored prizes. Prizes will be shipped directly from each brand.

Now don't you think it's time you enter to win?  A super easy Rafflecopter entry form is below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 26, 2017

Kids Love To Decorate for July 4th with Oriental Trading!

I received complimentary items in order to facilitate this article. However, all opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by the company described.

With three girls, and the oldest just entering first grade, holidays in our home are always an excuse to decorate and celebrate.

My girls love to dress up our yard, windows, and their rooms with fun and colorful flair, and this Fourth of July is no different.

If I'm being honest, we frequent our local discount store, to find outdoor and indoor decorations and it can be hit or miss. Often, we find cute stuff we can use to decorate, but other times it's picked over and only the "junk" is left. 

If we are a little late in the season to shop, hands down, Oriental Trading is always a sure bet to find exactly what we need for July 4th decorations. 

With three kids, it's often frustrating to navigate traditional stores, up and down the aisles, trying to find the perfect decorations, and of course unlimited amounts of...

"Don't touch that!!!!"

So, when I'm at my wits end, I can search by theme, or type of item, online at Oriental Trading. Which saves my stress meter for keeping my kids from burning themselves with sparklers or the hot lava dripping from toasting marshmallows!

It's not too late, you can still order 4th of July decor that will arrive in time for your festivities - if you order by June 28th midnight Central Time!

Click here to find all your July 4th decor:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Forget The Fidget Spinners, Give Me Safe Toys!

I received a sample of this item from the company to facilitate a review. I was not paid for this article and all opinions are 100% my own.

If you have children of, well almost any age, you know what a fidget spinner is, right?
When my kindergartner came home a few weeks before school let out for summer, and said, "MOM, I really want a fidget spinner" I began to do some light research.

Often, I entertain these whims, as long as it doesn't cost a fortune.  However, in this case, I really didn't see any benefit for my daughter in using this toy, so I held out. 

I'm so glad we did, because now I'm reading more about how some of the cheaper versions of fidget spinners are being made with toxic materials and unsafe paint for children

It makes me thankful for companies like Pebble, that make ethically and environmentally safe toys, like this Rainbow Bunny Rattle (pictured below).  Their toys are made from 100% cotton (+polyester fill) so you don't have to worry about your child's safety if they happen to munch on it. They are totally safe, and can be thrown in the washing machine afterward!

Here's my little peanut at naptime, cozying up to her new Pebble Rainbow Bunny Rattle, which I kind of want to steal borrow from her. The texture of the crochet feels so nice for kids who need some sensory exploration.  

One touch, and you can tell it was made from very talented artisan craftworkers

Pebble toys are guaranteed fair trade and made in Bangladesh, and their production centers provide 100 jobs per community, not to mention offer preschool and daycare for the moms who work there. 

So, instead of paying for silly toys like fidget spinners that are potentially made with toxic paints that could harm your child, grandchild, niece or nephew - check out Pebble and help provide a family in rural Bangladesh a future. 

You can find Pebble products at over 800 retailers, including: