Planes: Fire & Rescue in theaters now!

Disclosure: Disney Pictures provided me with admission to a pre-screening for Planes: Fire & Rescue, as well as the opportunity to attend the round table press day with Erik Estrada.

I recently had the chance to participate in a round table interview with Erik Estrada, voice of Nick “Loopin’ ‘” Lopez in Planes: Fire & Rescue. As a child born in the 70′s, I remember seeing Erik Estrada on episodes of CHiPs, and in the years that followed in novelas and as a guest star in several other series. I felt so cool meeting this 70′s Icon! He was super buena gente. He walked into the conference room laughing with a soda in his hand, sat beside me (the only empty chair at the table), and opened up about life, his journey from Harlem to Hollywood, voicing Nick “Loopin’ ” Lopez for Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue, and how he taught himself Spanish for a role. Here are my favorite nuggets from our interview.

Erik Estrada on the importance of learning Spanish:
I wrote a book ten years ago called My Road from Harlem to Hollywood. I dedicated the book “To all children: get in touch with your background, it’s the key to your future”. If you know where you came from and where your parents came from, that gives you strength.

Erik Estrada on the character of Nick “Loopin’” Lopez and CHoPs in the film:
It was Disney’s idea. I saw the screening of it, and I was blown away. It was a flashback, and it hit me the impact that show had. When I was doing it [CHiPs], I was just happy to have a job and get my mother out of Harlem. They created that segment for the movie, threw it in, and called to see if I was interested. So I did it, it was cool. It was a lot of fun.


Erik Estrada on how he ended up an actor:
My mother divorced my father when I was 4, and she dated a cop later on, that’s where my love for cops came in. I was going to be a cop, that’s what I wanted, but there was a pretty girl at the age of 17. She never came out school at 3 o’clock, she always came out later, at 3:45. I followed her and she was going to Drama Club so I said, “I grew up in Harlem, I can act!” So I auditioned, got in, got bit by the acting bug, left the idea of becoming a NYC policeman, which freaked my mother out. I made a deal with her that I could chase this until I’m 30. I got my first movie at the age of 19, “The Cross and the Switchblade”, the first Christian based faith movie made in America. I got the New Centurions, then Hawaii 5-0, and after Hawaii 5-0 I told my mother I was going to stay in California. For about six more years, I guested on everything, did some more movies, Then CHiPs came along, I always wanted to be a cop. This was a cop on TV!

Eric Estrada elaborated that no matter what career path he ended up in, his goal was to get his mother out of Harlem. He wanted her to live como una reina, and she is, right here in Miami!

About the movie:
Disney”s Planes: Fire & Rescue continues where last year’s Planes ended. Dusty Crophopper is now a world-renowned racer, and is preparing to star in the annual Corn Festival, but a glitch in his gearbox causes him to crash into the Propwash Junction airport The local firetruck, Mayday, is too old to deal with an emergency, and unless there’s another member of the safety squad, the airport will be shut down. Dusty volunteers to train and is sent to train with the Piston Peak Air Attack Team, which includes a former TV-star turned firefighter Blade Ranger and an eclectic cast of characters. Together, they battle a huge wildfire, and Dusty learns what it means to be a real hero.


The four of us went to watch the pre-screening, and we all had a great time watching this latest Disney animated film. Brandon liked it and says it was better than the first one. Matty liked it too, thought it was funny, loved that it was about  firefighters, and wants everyone to know that his favorite character was Blade Ranger.
Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue is in theaters now, go check it out!

Social Media:
Twitter: @DisneyPictures
Facebook: DisneyPlanes

Posted in Disney, Movies | 5 Comments

Easy Mango Smoothie Recipe

If you live in South Florida, you know that May through September is Mango Season! Mangoes are everywhere, and you can enjoy them in a variety of ways: mango marmalade, mango chutney, mango bread, mango smoothie, and the list goes on and on. We don’t have a mango tree, but between family, friends, and a few other resources, we’re fully stocked during the season. We usually just cut off the skin and eat them as is, but hubby requested mango smoothies this week so I obliged. Here’s a quick and easy recipe to enjoy this great summer treat.

2 small mangoes, cut into chunks
2 cups of vanilla yogurt
sugar to taste (I used about a tablespoon, hubby likes it sweet.)
dash of salt

Put all the above items in the blender.
Blend on Low for a few minutes, when all items are mixed.
Add a few pieces of ice to water it down a little (if needed).

See? I told you it was easy!

Posted in Feed Me | Leave a comment

We went on a Florida Keys Staycation and loved it!

Do you know what it’s like to live in paradise? I do, though we don’t take advantage of it as much as we should. But that changed this past holiday weekend. We headed south, just a little over an hour away (I spend more time in the car trying to get downtown!), for an impromptu weekend getaway to the Florida Keys. My dad, stepmom, her mom and brother, and my stepsis and her boys were staying in Islamorada for the long weekend, and we decided to join them on Saturday, once hubby got home from work. We were only gone for about 30 hours, but it was enough to relax and recharge.

If you’ve ever been to the Florida Keys, you know that you can’t help but slow down once you’re there. I know I unwinded once we arrived just by smelling the ocean air and feeling the breeze on my face. We had an early dinner at Wahoo’s with my sister and nephews, and her boyfriend and his kids, and then headed to Lorelei’s to watch the sunset. It was spectacular!

On Sunday, we all went to breakfast at Mangrove Mike’s which is adjacent to the hotel we stayed in. All of us left with happy bellies, ready for whatever adventures lay ahead. After a dip in the pool and some lounging, I thought we were calling it a day and heading back home, but hubby wanted to tag along with the rest of the group on their snorkeling adventures. He hadn’t been snorkeling in years, and I’d never done it (or the boys, for that matter) so we decided to join them. I’m so glad we did! Eric was so happy, and Brandon loved it! (Matty decided he’d rather watch us from the boat, so we took turns). It took me a little bit to get the hang of breathing just through my mouth using the tube, but once I did, it was great! The boat we toured with had noodles for us to float on, and that made it so much easier to just relax and check out the amazing scenes below us in the ocean.

Before we knew it, our tour was over and the boat re-docked. We had to start heading home, but the traffic had other plans for us. We could see the Overseas Highway from the boat dock, and traffic heading back north was not moving, so we decided we might as well have an early dinner at The Hungry Tarpon and wait out the traffic having fun instead of sitting in the car for possibly hours. That worked out perfectly because by the time we were done, the traffic was flowing and we got home in no time.

I am so happy we decided to join our family for this impromptu staycation. We needed the time “away”, and plan on doing it again soon. After all, paradise is just a few miles down the road!

Posted in Around Town, Family & Friends, Holidays, Life Happens, Travel | 4 Comments

Longhorn Steakhouse has a new Happy Hour Menu #LHPrimeTime

Disclosure: I was invited by Miami Mommy Savings and Longhorn Steakhouse to experience the PrimeTime Menu. I was provided a gift card as compensation. All opinions indicated are my own.

Did you know that Longhorn Steakhouse now offers a Happy Hour menu, with affordable appetizers and drink specials? It’s called the Longhorn PrimeTime Menu, and I had the chance to explore the options with a few blogfriends from Miami Mommy Savings, Cool Moms Cool Tips and Mommy Mafia Miami last week at the Kendall location. Hubby and I have been there before with the boys so the restaurant is not new to me, but I was excited to try out the Happy Hour menu with my girlfriends. After a long week, a little girl time was just what I needed last Friday!

Longhorn Steakhouse introduced the Prime Time Menu to their restaurants about three weeks ago. It is available Monday through Friday from 4pm until 7pm. This special menu includes a variety of drinks and bites for $3, $4 and $5.

Here’s the full menu:


  • Wild West Shrimp Tacos ($5): Plump, breaded shrimp tossed with peppers and diced pimentos, brushed with garlic butter, and served with avocado-lime drizzle.
  • Shrimp & Avocado Stack ($5): Garlic shrimp layered with guacamole, cucumber and tomato with wonton chips, and served with red chili ranch.
  • Spicy Chicken Bites ($4): Hand-breaded chicken bites tossed in a sweet-n-spicy chili-ginger sauce.
  • Crispy Jalapeno Shooters ($4): Three-cheese stuffed jalapenos served with red chili-ginger sauce.
  • Housemade Kettle Chips ($3): Housemade kettle chips with smoky barbeque and horseradish aioli.
  • Sweet Corn Fritters ($3): Crispy bites of sweet corn served with red chili ranch.


  • Prime Time Margarita ($5): 1800 Silver 100% Blue Agave Tequila, organic agave nectar and all natural lemon & lime juice.
  • Classic Steakhouse Martini ($5): Finlandia Vodka or Bombay Gin, olive juice, and hand-stuffed bleu cheese olives.
  • Sunset Cosmo ($5): Finlandia Vodka, orange juice, all-natural lemon & lime juice and a splash of pomegranate.
  • Cucumber Mint Mojito ($5): Cruzan Silver Rum and white cranberry juice hand-muddled with fresh cucumber, mint and a splash of club soda.

    We tried the Shrimp and Avocado Stack, the Crispy Jalapeno Shooters and the Spicy Chicken Bites. They were all so good!

    The hit of the table was the Spicy Chicken Bites, we ordered three of those!

    The Prime Time Margarita not only looked good, but tasted good too!

    Longhorn Steakhouse makes it easy to enjoy a good time with good friends on a budget. Check out their Prime Time menu, and for more news, updates, and specials, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    Posted in Deals and Discounts, Feed Me | 3 Comments

    The Journey to Middle School Has Begun

    It’s been almost two weeks since Brandon finished 5th grade. Almost two weeks since I’ve been brainstorming in my head how to write this post. The last month or so was a whirlwind of events: 5th Grade trip to Busch Gardens (which I chaperoned), 5th Grade luncheon, Middle School Orientation, Promotion Ceremony. Each event making clear the inevitable, my first born is growing up. I know that I have an 11 year old who will be entering middle school in two months, but I honestly can’t believe it. It feels like just yesterday I dropped him off for his first day of preschool.

    I don’t think I’m ready for what lies ahead. My boy will be more on his own. He’ll be on the bus to and from school, in the crazy Miami traffic, instead of just down the street from my job. He’ll be even more accountable for keeping up with a schedule and assignments for seven classes and seven different teachers. What worries me most are the social challenges he may face. His two best friends will be attending his same program, but he will inevitably be faced with the trials and tribulations of attending a new school, curiosity about girls, bullies, and the information kids are susceptible to these days (gosh, I sound old!) via the internet. Kids are growing up way faster than when I was his age. I know I can’t stop him from growing up, and I can’t stop him from being exposed to things I’d rather he not be. All I can do is encourage that he communicate with us, and let him know that we’ll always be on his side, and we’ll always be there for him, no matter what.

    Posted in Family & Friends, Life Happens, The Boys | 5 Comments

    Prevent Color Bleeding with Purex® No Sort™ #laundrysimplified #cbias

    Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

    Just a few short weeks ago, right around the time we moved into this house, I was sorting laundry, piles and piles (more like miles and miles) of it. Matty walked into my bathroom and said, “Mommy, I’ll help. This can be one of my chores!” Hallelujah, an assistant! I was so grateful for this little laundry helper that I grabbed him, gave him a big hug and lots of mushy kisses. After our little love fest, we continued sorting. And sorting. And sorting (WHY did we have so much dirty laundry? I washed almost everything right before our move!). We finally got to the bottom of the basket and had about seven loads. But the work was far from over. Those seven loads have to be washed, dried and folded. Ayayay!

    Every laundry day (or days) after that, my little assistant and I go through the same routine…until this week! I received an email from the folks at #CollectiveBias telling me that the “Rules Have Changed” thanks to Purex®. They wanted to know if I wanted to try the new Purex® No Sort™ for Colors detergent. Of course I did! I love spending time with my little guy, but I’d rather be having fun than doing chores, and it sounded like Purex® No Sort™ would cut my laundry time in half. We could stop sorting and start playing!

    Now we had to go purchase the detergent. We hopped in the car and headed for Walmart. There it was, right there with all the other Purex® products. That was easy! We were now ready to go home and do some laundry.

    I’m happy to report that after using Purex® No Sort™ for Colors, we’ve reduced our typical seven or eight piles of laundry to four. Success! Because of its Anti Color Transfer Technology, the reds, blues, purples, beiges, blacks and whites stayed exactly as they should. We’re saving time, and money: we’re washing less loads, so that’s less times we run the washer and dryer. Purex® No Sort™ for Colors make #laundrysimplified!

    Here is some information from Purex® about this latest product:

    Laundry users believe sorting is an essential part of their laundry routine so our challenge is to convince them that has changed. In order to reassure our consumers we have focused on educating them on our breakthrough Anti-Color-Transfer Technology which traps loose dyes in the wash and does not let them settle onto other fabrics. As a result they are able to simplify their laundry routine by doing less sorting and less loads.

    There’s one small disclaimer to using this new detergent. The label on the back of the bottle says: Purex® No Sort™ detergent is packed with innovation, but it can’t perform miracles, so please follow these words of advice: wash strongly colored fabrics or new pieces of clothing, especially jeans, separately at least 5 times before doing a mixed color load with Purex® No Sort™ detergent.

    Learn more about Purex® No Sort™ by going to the Purex® site or on social media:
    Hashtag: #laundrysimplified

    Posted in Deals and Discounts, Social Media | 3 Comments

    Disney’s #Maleficent, and my interview with Sam Riley

    Disclosure: Disney Pictures provided me with admission to a pre-screening for Maleficent, as well as the opportunity to attend the round table press day with Sam Riley.

    I attended a pre-screening for Maleficent last week, and have had to hold my tongue regarding the awesomeness that is this movie…until now! With it’s official release today, I can tell you that it is amazing! I had been waiting for the release of Maleficent for months, and was overjoyed when I was invited to attend a pre-screening of the movie.

    I also had the opportunity to interview Sam Riley, who plays Diaval in the film. Diaval is Maleficent’s sidekick and confidant throughout the movie. The interview process was a lot of fun, and he provided lots of wonderful insight into the film and the roles. But before things got started, we had to accessorize: Upon entering the room, Sam asked us all to put on the plastic Maleficent horns we were given, and of course we obliged! Here are some of the things Sam shared with us.

    How the relationship between Maleficent and Diaval develops:
    “At first the relationship is servile and he’s scared of her. They are going to spend every single day with each other for 16 years, and that’s a lot for any relationship, that’s a very long relationship in Hollywood! I’m the only person who’s more or less her sole companion for that time. We thought it would be fun to develop a certain element of bickering and them getting on each others’ nerves, but also the mask that she wears of coldness slips in front of him because he sees moments of vulnerability. Over time he can start to occasionally point that out to her with the courage that grows from of long relationship.”

    About working with Angelina Jolie:
    She brought an edge to the character, not only with her ideas of the costume, with the leather…it’s pushing the boundaries–she loved Maleficent as a girl, she didn’t like Aurora. She’s born to play it [the role].

    How he prepared for the role:
    He has played “the darker sides of people” before in the independent films he’s been in. He spent some time with ravens, he watched him, filmed him and worked with a movement coach to take on the elements of his personality and movements to use towards the human incarnation of Diaval. This process helped him realize that “even when I’m a man, I consider myself first and foremost a bird”.

    About the movie itself:
    “It’s a classic family film, it’s a bit scary…they (Disney) pushes the boundaries, kids want to be thrilled, they don’t necessarily want to be terrified.”

    About future roles:
    Sam and his wife had a son early this year. When I asked him if, now that he’s a father, is he more inclined to work on more family films, and Disney films specifically, instead of the roles he’s played in the past in independent type of films, he joked that it’s nice that he’s been in a film his son can see before he’s 18. He is hopeful that this role will provide other opportunities for him to work in these sorts of films, but one of the great things of doing film is that you devote yourself to a character for a limited amount of time, and then move on to the next. Whether he takes on work more often to have the family be more secure is one thing, but at the same time he wants his son to know that his father took roles that meant something to him, not just for the sake of working.

    More about the film:
    I want to avoid spoilers, because it is truly a film you have to see for yourself. You will expect a movie filled with evil and darkness, and there is a bit of that, but there is also a tale about love, revenge, redemption, and the fine line between good and evil.You will be familiar with some characters, like Aurora, the three fairies who watch over her until her 16th birthday, and of course Maleficent, but you will also be introduced to the Moors, a magnificent land with inhabitants and surroundings that are pure Disney magic. There will also be things you didn’t expect: this is Maleficent’s story, not Aurora’s, and everything is not what it seems.

    Angelina Jolie plays Maleficent with perfection. From the moment rumors were circulating two or three years ago that she’d been chosen as Maleficent, I knew she was meant to play the role. I’m even more assured of this after seeing the film and the way the character develops.

    In a nutshell, Disney pictures has done it once again. They have taken a classic story, given it a few twists and turns, and turned it into something spectacular!

    Maleficent is rated PG, and does have a few scary parts. I think children over the age of 7 will enjoy it most. It is definitely a film to go see with the entire family. It opens today, so please go catch it and come back and let me know what you think!

    Social Media:
    Twitter: @Maleficent
    Facebook: DisneyMaleficent
    #Maleficent, #MaleficentEvent

    Posted in Disney, Entertain Me, Here's What I Think, Movies | 1 Comment

    Summer #Giveaway from Good Luck Charms Miami!

    Summer officially starts one month from today (although here in Miami it’s summer pretty much all year round) and what better way to ring in the warm(er) weather than with a giveaway?! Last fall, I became fast friends via Instagram with Mish Pelaez, the creative force and owner of Good Luck Charms Miami. A friend re-posted one of Mish’s pictures from her monthly giveway, and I fell in love with her pieces. I placed a custom order immediately, and was hooked!

    Good Luck Charms makes custom jewelry for all occasions for women and men. Their creations feature beads of all colors and themes, from fun to fabulous, and everything in between. One lucky reader will win the three bracelet set below, “Honeydew Mellon Rosé”. (Another great thing about Good Luck Charms Miami, they give their pieces awesome names!) It’s the perfect addition to your summer wardrobe!

    GIVEAWAY: One lucky Brandon’s Puppy reader will win the stunning three piece set pictured above from Good Luck Charms Miami. Just fill out the required entries on the rafflecopter form below. (For first time visitors, one of the entries is a comment on this post. Please scroll to the end of the post and “leave a reply”.)  Winner will be announced on Monday, June 2nd. Good luck!!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Posted in Giveaways, Social Media | 10 Comments

    Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World Coming to DVD!

    Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World DVD for review. All opinions are my own.

    Disney Jr’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World is coming to DVD on May 20th. This latest Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD features five episodes totaling 126 minutes of all your favorite Clubhouse friends: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Pete, and even Professor Ludwig Von Drake.  The main title, Around the Clubhouse World, takes the gang to the Eiffel Tower in France, on a trip down Italy’s Grand Canal,  to Egypt’s great pyramids, and through the Great Wall of China. With the help of the right Mouseketools, the Clubhouse friends get their special passport stamped at each fantastic location. Other episodes include Donald and the Beanstalk, Goofy on Mars, Mickey’s Handy Helpers and Pluto’s Dinosaur Romp.

    Around the Clubhouse World is a great way to introduce young children to different parts of the world, and different cultures too! This DVD is a wonderful edition to any Disney video library, and a sure hit with your little ones! After all, who doesn’t love Mickey Mouse?!

    Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Around the Clubhouse World is available at The Disney Store, Amazon, and other retailers tomorrow!

    Posted in Disney, Entertain Me, Movies | Leave a comment

    We’ve Moved!

    About two weeks ago, we moved out of the house we called ours for just over 8 years into a bigger, lovelier house just a mile and a half away. Even though it’s not “ours”, we love it as if it were. Prior to our move, We I (thanks to my awesome friend Angie for helping on the weekends!) had been packing for what seemed like an eternity, but really was only about three weeks. We had an army of people help us move on our actual moving day (so thankful for family and friends who don’t mind a little exercise!). Two and a half weeks later, our space is livable: we finally have internet as of two nights ago, and there is no longer an obstacle course to walk through to get from room to room.

    We still have boxes to unpack and frames to hang, but most of what’s left is decorative and we can tackle it little by little. I’ve learned a few things during this time we’ve been living out of boxes that I wanted to share:

    • I may deny it, but I’m definitely a hoarder. I kept every kids’ art project, birthday card, Christmas card, theme park map, and every. single. receipt. to. everything. ever. purchased. I think we threw away about seven large garbage bags full of junk prior to the move, and at least four after! I went through piles of the boys’ artwork and assignments from the last few years and kept just a few special ones. I also prepared piles of clothes and toys for an upcoming garage sale. Now that I had to weed through eight years’ worth of stuff, I’m hoping my hoarder tendencies are kept at bay moving forward.
    • When it comes down to it, we only really need the following essentials in our kitchen: plates, glasses, and silverware for four, a mixing bowl, a small saucepan (don’t forget the lid! I packed all the lids, and had to improvise while making rice our last week in our old house, but like a good Cubanita, resolví!), a large pot, one large skillet, a rounded serving spoon, a good cutting knife, my coffeemaker, and a mug for said coffee. Everything else, while great to have, is not necessary for our everyday existence.
    • Even after 17 years and four homes together, my husband and I still can’t agree on furniture placement or decorating ideas. He wants the TV in the living room and I want it in the family room. He wants the boys to have a playroom (the converted garage), and I say absolutely not because they now have their own rooms and I’m not going to have three messy rooms! Coming up with ideas that work for all of us takes time and patience, but is necessary so that we are all happy with our new living space.
    Posted in Here's What I Think, Home Sweet Home, Life Happens | 4 Comments