Toddler Valentine’s Day Cookie Decorating

Toddler Valentine’s Day Cookie Decorating

This post is not sponsored. Thank you so much for your time and support! Enjoy!

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Happy Valentine’s Day amiga!

Not a major holiday in our household, since we believe LOVE should be celebrated every day, but having a toddler brings new light and fun into these small holidays! Don’t you agree?

We can feel like kids, again!

Plus, this is a great way to start getting used to helping our little toddler girl with future school projects!

Something, I can wait for though! ; )

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We were at the market on our bi-weekly grocery shopping trip and I spotted this Valentine Message Cookie Decorating Kit — it was in our shopping cart without a second thought!

We make an effort to shop the perimeter of markets, as opposed to the inner isles so we choose healthier options, but this kit caught my eye, girl! haha

It was right next to the bulk section where we get our oats, beans, and nuts (and sometimes dark-chocolate covered pretzels for our Netflix trail mix! Keeping it real.)

First Cookie Decorating Experience

Our daughter is 2.5 years old and I thought this kit was perfect for her first Valentine’s Day cookie decorating experience!

Which holiday was your first cookie decorating experience with your child?

I have not decorated Valentine’s Day cookies since I baked a batch for my husband when we were newlyweds. They were delicious!

I opted not to bake with her for the first time because I’m not ready to handle the experience, yet, but perhaps by mid-summer when Ellie is a full 3 years old!

This cookie decorating kit is super easy and not messy at all (thank goodness the sprinkles didn’t spill! haha)

FYI, a good-to-know detail is that this kit is sealed with a badge of having been created in a peanut-free factory, so it’s safe, if you or your toddler are allergic to pea(nuts).

Also, the sugar cookies are delicious on their own, too!

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Red, Pink, White, Oh, My!

Ellie was super excited when she saw the red, pink, and white heart-shaped sprinkles through the bottom of the heart-shaped box!

As soon as I opened the box for her that’s the first thing she picked up!

Which is so funny because once I opened the icing tubes for her and showed her how to squeeze the icing out and on to the cookie, she forgot all about the sprinkles… toddlers!

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At one point Ellie didn’t want a new cookie! She just kept adding the icing to that ONE sugar cookie! All three colored-icings, if I may add, all on top of each other!

Looked SUPER SWEET! Literally.

She finally added sprinkles and tried to imitate my decorating. She’s very observant.

I admit, her hand-eye coordination skills are really great! I’m a proud mama.

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I want to share a little small fact that made this day extra special.

My tiny dancer is wearing a 18-month-sized onesie in these photos and it fits perfectly! She’s now usually wearing between a 2T and 3T, so it was quite a surprise when she asked me to put it on her and it actually still fit her.

It’s like she knew that having her decorate cookies was bittersweet for me! She’s growing up so fast! I was so happy to see that she’s actually still physically my baby and not a big kid, yet! haha Do you relate?

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I was so excited to have completed this Valentine’s Day cookie decorating kit a week prior to actual Valentine’s Day, but of course, here I am a little over a week after Valentine’s Day posting about it for you! #MomLife am I right?

Nevertheless, Ellie and I had a great time during our mid-afternoon ‘Arts & Crafts Time’ creating an art project in our kitchen that was edible and not to hang on our refrigerator or on her bedroom walls!

Daddy was also very happy to find some tasty snacks, made with tender loving care, when he got home!

Love,

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P.S. Any day is a good day to buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers for your home! Our favorite flowers are from our local street vendors.

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LA Mommy Blogger Tribe Luncheon, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Burbank, CA – New EnLIGHTened Entrees® Menu

LA Mommy Blogger Tribe Luncheon, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Burbank, CA – New EnLIGHTened Entrees® Menu

This post is in collaboration with LAMBT for BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Burbank, CA. All thoughts and opinions are my own. All photos taken by me, Vanessa Torres, unless captioned otherwise. Thank you so much for your time and support. Enjoy!

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Do you need 4 fun & easy steps
to brighten a mommy’s rainy day?

You do? Great! Because the girls from LA Mommy Blogger Tribe (LAMBT) and I discovered all 4 of them at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Burbank!

Follow along below to find out how you can help out your mommy friend… hey, this could even be for you!

1. Call your amigas and head over to BJ’s!

Yes, getting to BJ’s is the first step! The SoCal-comfort, with attention to detail warmth welcomes and serves you – whether you arrive alone or with a large party of your favorite gals!

So, schedule child care, do you hair, add some mascara to your lashes, and find your favorite rainy-weather comfy-chic outfit to head out the door!

LAMBT was fortunate to have BJ’s in Burbank invite us to experience their new EnLIGHTened Entrees® Menu on Sunday, February 10th just in time to celebrate Galentine’s Day a few days early!

Do you celebrate Galentine’s Day? This was my first time celebrating and I had a blast! Proof? This was a three-hour lunch! haha Time passed by so quickly!

Photographed from left to right: Naza (@sweet.p.and.sky), Suzie (@happymessmom), Erika (@asocalwayoflife), Rosie (@thehustlingmama), Vanessa (@lifeoftorres), Danica (@thememoirsofamommy ), Cecily (@hollymomtress ), and Marie (@beautifulday_blog).
Photo provided by Naza Holliman.

2. Order drinks to get the fun started!

21+ and over and please have a designated driver.

Even though not all of us enjoyed an alcoholic drink, the rest of the girls did, and they were super satisfied. Not only with the taste, which is the most important, but with the presentation! Look at these pretty party enhancers!

If you prefer to eat your calories instead of drinking them, I have a solution for you!

For the days where water just doesn’t cut it for you and would like to splurge a little. You can enjoy BJ’s Oasis® Amber.

This light beer is under 160 calories and just won an award at the 2016 North American Beer Awards or you can try BJ’s Lightswitch® Lager at under 140 calories per pint. Most beers are over 200 calories per serving!

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Photographed left to right: Suzie, Rosie, Erika, Danica, Naza, Vanessa, Cecily, and Marie.
Photo provided by Naza Holliman

3. Order appetizers and entrees that will satisfy cravings and not leave you stuffed with guilt!

“At BJ’s we’ve listened to our guests who want ‘better for you’ options. Comfort food is great, but some of our guests find more comfort in our myriad of options to meet their special dietary needs…

Because we believe it’s not what you take out that makes it better for you, it’s what you put in it.”

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Below you will see a few of the tasty dishes our host, Leanne, curated for our table, from the EnLIGHTened Entrees Menu®, after kindly asking us of possible food allergies and dietary preferences.

Best Beginnings® Appetizer Combo
Spinach and Artichoke Dip | Avocado Egg Rolls | Boneless Wings
Best Beginnings® Appetizer Combo
Mozzarella Sticks | Avocado Egg Rolls
Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts
Crisp, lightly fried brussels sprouts | Big Poppa Smokers’ Desert Gold seasoning | sweet sriracha crema
Enlightened Seared Ahi Salad
Sashimi-grade ahi tuna | baby field greens | napa cabbage | romaine | red bell peppers | tomatoes | avocado | pickled cucumbers | cilantro | spicy wasabi |crispy wonton strips | red + green onions | rice wine vinaigrette
New Enlightened Blacked Chicken Zucchini Noodles
Blackened chicken breast | zucchini noodles | red onions | mushrooms | fire-roasted red peppers | green onions | creamy alfredo | San Marzano marinara | parmesan cheese
Enlightened Pacific Pole Soba Noodles
Sashimi-grade ahi tuna | buckwheat soba noodles | poke sauce | carrots |
pickled vegetables | soy ginger sauce | wasabi guacamole | crispy wonton strips | green onions | sesame seeds
Vegan Lentil with Ancient Grains Soup
Hearty lentil soup

From all the delicious food that was delivered to our table by Leanne and her kind staff, I was picking out what I could eat from the dishes since I’m vegetarian.

…and then here comes Leanne surprising me with their Vegan Lentil with Ancient Grains Soup! Friend, I was so grateful! This soup was savory and hit the spot on this cold and rainy day!

There aren’t many restaurant just yet where you’re able to find steak dishes and vegetarian and vegan options, plus gluten-free meals! And not only that, but they are accommodating to their guests with food allergies and/or sensitivities! BJ’s you’re the MVP!

Happy Galentine’s Day Mommies

While enjoying our savory meals we updated each other on our children’s most recent silly escapades, learning achievements, and opened-up about challenging moments we have encountered recently or overcome. It’s amazing to have a tribe you can confide in with an open heart and mind.

And in the same level of care, we discussed and listened about our success and hiccups with our individual businesses. Moms Supporting Moms. Can it get any brighter?!

Cheers to enlightening our lives with like-minded humans!
Boomerang provided by Naza Holliman.

4. Come back and enjoy
Ballast Point Tap Takeover!

Tuesday, March 19th at 6pm! Come alone, bring a friend, or your mom and enjoy award-winning brews in a great atmosphere at one or both of the grand bars at BJ’s in Burbank!

If you feel like you’re not a “beer person” not to worry! You can take this fun opportunity and find the right beer for you with the expertise of one of the bartenders, or you can order any other drink from the beverage menu and still enjoy a great time!

The gals and I are planning on returning to join in the Ballast Point Tap Takeover – “Tap Tuesdays!” If you see us, please say hello!

Ballast Point Tap Takeover is Featuring:

  • Brut IPA, Bone-Dry India Pale Ale
  • Ballast Point Lager, Lager
  • Passing Haze, Hazy Session India Pale Ale
  • Grapefruit Sculpin, India Pale Ale with Grapefruit
  • Barrel Aged Victory at Sea, Imperial Porter aged in High West Bourbon & Rye Barrels
Seriously, the detail in the bars’ woodman-ship is gorgeous!
And there’s large flat-screen TVs throughout the restaurant and at the bars for your extra entertainment!
Photographed from top to bottom and left to right: Leanne, Cecily, Rosie, Marie, Naza, Erika, Danica, Suzie, Vanessa.
Photo provided by Naza Holliman.

We are thankful to our hosts for not only providing the gals and me with a place to disconnect from the mundane mommy duties (like laundry and dishes) and to connect with each other as mompreneurs with passions and goals, but also for providing us with a complimentary opportunity to learn of and experience their new EnLIGHTened Entrees® Menu!

For most moms, eating out is an adventure in itself, especially with kids (I mean, we pack half the nursery in the diaper bag when venturing out of the house!), so it’s great to know, that we will be taken care of when we enter their doors with not only healthier food, but super-foods, too!

Have you been EnLIGHTened®, yet?

Let me know in the comments and share this awesome new BJ’s menu and Ballast Point Tap Takeover event with your friends and family!

Love,

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P.S. We were each sent home with one of their famous Mini Pizookie® desserts for our kids!

And it gets sweeter…

Earlier in our luncheon, while discussing future yummy menu options, I had mentioned that my 2.5-year-old daughter, Ellie, loves quinoa and Leanne surprised me with some to take home to her! So thoughtful!

FYI: This is the Enlightened Vegetarian Quinoa Bowl and we both enjoyed the flavors so much!

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
107 South 1st Street, Burbank, CA 91502
(818) 557-0881 – Instagram @bjsburbank
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., Monday through Thursday
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., Friday

10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., Saturday
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., Sunday

Valet (cash only) and self-parking lot provided.

Take-out/curb-side pick-up, and delivery through online and BJ’s App orders.

LA Mommy Blogger Tribe Brunch, Joe’s Cafe, Granada Hills, CA – Homemade American-style Dishes with a Twist

LA Mommy Blogger Tribe Brunch, Joe’s Cafe, Granada Hills, CA – Homemade American-style Dishes with a Twist

This post is in collaboration with LAMBT for Joe’s Cafe and all thoughts and opinions are my own. All photos taken by me, Vanessa Torres, unless captioned otherwise. Thank you so much for your time and support. Enjoy!

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Ping! My instant messenger softly sounded in the background as it shared the sound-waves with “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack, as I water-colored with my two-year-old daughter on the kitchen floor, dubbed our art studio. A few hours later (or was it days?), because #MomLife, I checked my messages. It was Naza!

Super-excited, she shared of how much she had enjoyed an unexpected breakfast date with her husband at Joe’s Cafe, and she would love for as many of us from the LA Mommy Blogger Tribe (LAMBT) to attend our next monthly brunch there!

The way she described the creative menu and the warmth of the customer service – I was in!

Come On In!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Lunch Room Entrance
Joe’s Cafe
17823 Chatsworth Blvd., Granada Hills, CA 91344
Breakfast & Lunch: 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Sunday (Lunch starts at 11:00 am)
Dinner: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday

Happy Hour: 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Thursdays

Street parking, with additional parking behind Joe’s Cafe establishment.

Delivery available through Postmates, Grubhub, and Doordash.

Are you ready to dive into a menu overflowing with authentically “homemade” and craving-filling dishes created by owners, Chef Joe Wheterbee and his business partner and wife, Aliceon?
Yes? Me, too!

But First, Coffee!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, coffee, creamer, best customer service
Destiny pours the much needed hot and freshly brewed coffee for the mompreneurs.

My friend! Here are a few of fun facts I learned while at Joe’s Cafe:

  • Chef Joe won the Food Network’s “Chopped,” on the last episode titled “Dread and Breakfast”, which aired in 2014;
  • Joe’s Cafe was recently featured on an episode of Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise;”
  • You can enjoy live local music at Joe’s Cafe on scheduled Friday and Saturday nights;
  • And if laughs are your thing, check-in with Joe’s Cafe for their next Comedy à la Carte for “a delicious night of stand-up;”
  • They have an Instagram account: @JoesCafeGH and use the #FoodDoneGood

How awesome is that!

There are so many sweet and savory breakfast and lunch options to choose from, and there’s also a variety of hot & cold drinks. Beer and wine for the 21-and-over, but I’m a sucker for the traditional breakfast staple: fresh-squeezed orange juice!

As I reviewed the menu, I did notice that Joe’s Cafe does not have plant-based diet friendly options; however, vegetarians may have better luck, especially ovo-lacto-vegetarians.

Parents: there’s a kids menu!

You can find the staples: chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwich, and mac n’ cheese.

These protein-stuffed pancake balls pictured below are perfect for kids, too!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Fried Sausage Pancake Balls
P-Cake Balls
Sausages dipped and fried in pancake batter, and served with maple cream.

Small Details

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Pouring Water

I absolutely appreciated the environmentally-friendly paper straws, the farmhouse-chic mason jars, and the large & beautiful green reusable water bottles, and the tiny glass milk bottles for the milk and/or creamer for the coffee!

Plus, cacti plants for decor here and there around the cafe – my favorite!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, breakfast menus

Below are a few photos of our flavorful “homemade” American-style dishes.

Not pictured is Rosie’s order, Ojan’s Junk (a pancake sandwich with two eggs, a sausage patty, smoked Gouda cheese, sliced tomato, and house ranch) – the Food Network’s “Chopped” winning dish!

You’ll have to check it out!

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Croissant Sandwich
Thick bacon, fried egg and smoked Gouda cheese on a buttery croissant with optional avocado.
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Pork Belly Eggs Benedict
Toasted buttery garlic bread with heirloom tomato, basil, pork belly, and poached egg topped with hollandaise sauce, with optional Avocado.
(Photo taken by Ericka Castanos)
Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Ericka Castanos
Stuffed French Toast
Local French loaf bread stuffed and grilled with fresh berries and cream cheese.
(Photo taken by Ericka Castanos)

Foodie!

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We’re bloggers!

You know we had to take the mandatory aerial photo of our aesthetically pleasing dishes – the taste did not disappoint either. Look at that not-so-basic avocado toast!

I also noticed Gouda cheese and bacon seem to be a staple in most of the dishes. Are you a fan of Gouda cheese? This was my first time trying it!

Naza speaks to LAMBT members regarding goals, Joe's Cafe, Vanessa, Life Of Torres Blog

Being able to spend time reflecting on January, and sharing our goals and plans for February with the LAMBT while enjoying great food was the best!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Naza Holliman, Vanessa Torres, Tyler E. Johnson, Rosie Nguyen, Tiffanie Westgor, Ericka Castanos, Raquel Harbin, Suzie Boluarte, Kelly Short, and Lara Scott
LA Mommy Blogger Tribe Members (from left to right): Naza Holliman, Vanessa Torres, Tyler E. Johnson, Rosie Nguyen, Tiffanie Westgor, Ericka Castanos, Raquel Harbin, Suzie Boluarte, Kelly Short, and Lara Scott. (Photo/Selfie taken by Naza Holliman)

Homemade Desserts

Desserts made from scratch, just like the rest of the food on the menu.
Not pictured: the chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting! Enough said.

Ready for Super Bowl LIII 

As soon as you walk into Joe’s Cafe the excitement for this weekend’s Super Bowl LIII (Sunday, February 3, 2019) is evident!

The dessert pantry is decorated in Patriots’ gear (and Joe’s Cafe merchandise available for purchase)!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Patriots Fan

Aliceon may not be a New England Patriots fan, such as her husband Joe, but she’s the real MVP at Joe’s Cafe!

#WomenSupportingWomen #LAMBT #CommunityOverCompetition

BTW, Go Rams!
(Welcome back to LA!)

Joe's Cafe co-owner, Aliceon, expertly gives the members of LAMBT the sweet run-down of the breakfast and lunch menu, the history of Joe's Cafe, and the inside scoop of what's baking next for this Spring! (Photo taken by Ericka Castanos)
Joe’s Cafe co-owner, Aliceon, expertly gives the members of LAMBT the sweet run-down of the breakfast and lunch menu, the history of Joe’s Cafe, and the inside scoop of what’s baking next for this Spring! (Photo taken by Ericka Castanos)

As mompreneurs, having a tribe of women to lean on is essential, and as a member of the LA Mommy Blogger Tribe, I look forward to our monthly brunches, not only to help support my fellow mommy bloggers, but also our local small business, such as Joe’s Cafe.

It was such a treat to get to know Aliceon during our brunch! This multi-tasking new-mompreneur (Yay!) attended to her guests, prepped and baked fresh desserts, and still made time to have real conversations and pose for a Boomerang with our mommy tribe! Aren’t Boomerangs so much fun?!

Shout out to Destiny for her attentiveness and sweet, yet sassy sense of humor – she was Joe’s Cafe first hire and I can see why she’s a valued member of the team. Everyone was awesome!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Naza Holliman
LA Mommy Blogger Tribe Members (from left to right): Ericka, Vanessa, Tyler, Tiffanie, Naza, Lara, Rosie, Suzie, Kelly, and Raquel with Aliceon and Destiny.

Here we are after much deliberation and great laughs:
Mommies with their creative spirits and bellies full.

Thank you Joe’s Cafe for hosting us!

Joe's Cafe, LAMBT, Vanessa, Life Of Torres, Lifestyle Photographer

Friend, I hope you stop by at Joe’s Cafe and enjoy the warm and casual environment, and deliciously creative “homemade” menu. Would you like to visit?

Don’t forget to leave a comment and share this post. Your feedback fills my creative cup to share even more with you!

See you on the other side of the camera lens!

Love,

Vanessa's Blog Signature

P.S. How stinkin’ cute is it when restaurants provide clean water bowls for your doggies?! All the heart-eyes!

P.S.S. Subscribe to our Life Of Torres newsletter tribe to be the first to know of our LAMBT brunch adventures and get the scoop on the next place in Los Angeles you should go have a foodie experience!

& follow LA Mommy Blogger Tribe on Instagram @LAMommyBloggerTribe



Shop My Look

L.A Mamacitas “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” Pumpkin Decorating Party

L.A Mamacitas “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” Pumpkin Decorating Party

This post is sponsored in collaboration with L.A Mamacitas. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you so much for your time and support. Enjoy!



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My Ellie and I took a mini road trip on Monday, October 8th to the Montebello Town Square. We were invited to attend the L.A Mamacitas “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” Pumpkin Decorating Party hosted at the Robles Pumpkin Patch Festival!

The family-owned Robles Pumpkin Patch Festival not only has pumpkins (obvi), but they also have a jumper play zone for multiple age groups (#momapproved); a super cute petting zoo with bunnies, goats, pigs, chickens, and even a pony; many snacks, including popcorn and candy apples; and all of the instagramable photo ops for the whole family!

Having fun with my Ellie and my fellow mami bloggers, and their super cool kids, at the Robles Pumpkin Patch Festival totally has me looking forward to attending the early showing for “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” this Thursday! All U.S. showings start on Friday, October 12, 2018!

Both, my husband and I, read the Scholastic Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, as kids in the 90s, and love that now the Goosebumps Monsters are in comedy-adventure movies!

Low-key, wouldn’t you like a R-rated Goosebumps movie for us 30-something-year-olds who grew up reading the original series? Just an idea my husband had. I mean, Ken Jeong is already casted, and Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy still scares me! Yep!

Don’t you feel the same?

I was so excited to attend the pumpkin decorating party, as this would be my little girl’s first time decorating a pumpkin!

She happily chose our pumpkins and then we joined the rest of the mamacitas and kids to decorate — some of us may have been distracted by the yummy donuts and pizza generously provided by L.A Mamacitas.

Last year Ellie was a one-year-old and was too tiny to join in the festivities. This year, she was able to participate in the Halloween tradition and was introduced to Goosebumps!

I look forward to handing over my R.L. Stine book collection to her! Yes, I have not donated my collection after two decades — they’re ready for her!

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Ellie and her friends decorated their pumpkins with silly faces, stickers, and colorful rhinestones.

However, she took to the awesomely designed “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” movie poster and explored with patterns and compositions to add her own bold and  abstract designs to it! ; )

Don’t you find joy in letting your kid’s imagination run wild?

I love when Ellie creates wooden-block buildings and street-chalk masterpieces. I can already imagine the spooky adventures she will author as she brings Halloween to life à la R.L. Stine!

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Thankful to @la_mamacitas for sponsoring this post and being awesome at organizing fun-filled family events in our community for moms and kiddos! And thankful to you, for riding along the nostalgic train with me on this post. Seriously.

Let me know when you go see “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” and your thoughts in the comments section below!

Find me on Instagram @LifeOfTorres and hashtag #GoosebumpsMovie and #LAmamacitas — we can both go down memory lane together!

Love,

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P.S. Here’s a sneak peek inside the complimentary promotional swag bags!

We will definitely use the tote bag for trick or treating in a couple weeks. I felt like a kid, again, with the pencil pouch goodies and bookmarks (I collected those, too!). Wouldn’t you?!

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Goosebumps 2 Haunted Halloween Official Movie Poster
Only in theaters October 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Goosebumps, Sony Pictures