review

Temecula Toyota and Tranquility Our Weekend Getaway #Sponsored @ToyotaLatino #Prius #LetsGoPlaces

Posted on June 10th, 2017 by & filed under Blog Venture, Events, Everything Miz Meliz, sponsored, Travel

Temecula, Toyota, and Tranquility, Our Weekend Getaway

Let me tell you about my experience at the Temecula Valley Wine & Balloon Festival sponsored by Toyota Latino #LetsGoPlaces #VayamosJuntos…A huge thank you to Toyota Latino (check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ) for hosting me and Lito on this amazing weekend getaway and giving me the opportunity to review the Prius Four! Please see my disclosure for details on why I post articles like this on MizMeliz.com. It was my pleasure to share my experience with you, all opinions are entirely my own (with some input from Lito.)

I am excited about getting away for the weekend! Let’s go!

Temecula

It was time for a romantic weekend getaway! Lito and I have lived in Southern California all our lives. We have been married twenty-five years. Can you believe we have never been to the Temecula Valley? It is just a short three hour drive from our home in Los Angeles (depending on traffic) and we have heard about how amazing it is, but we had not been there. So, when we got a chance to get away for the weekend and check out the 34th Annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, it sounded like a dream!

Driving out to the festival felt like getting away from it all!

The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is the perfect combination of many of my favorite things. Lito and I had a great time there! I felt like a kid when I walked through the gates! It was like a fairytale.

Taking the drive in the 2017 Toyota Prius Four was magical from the start. I had fun driving it. Lito took the pictures and we posted on Snapchat along the way. After a long day of doing errands around town, stopping at the dentist – which happened to be the only thing we couldn’t reschedule that day, grabbing lunch and making our way to Temecula, we finally were on the road to the festival. It was a long and windy road. (giggles) It was! Imagine it, a beautiful sunny and warm day, great music, a fun car to drive, my hunny by side and I am on my way to enjoy the best wine, listen to live bands (Bush, The Gin Blossoms) and see giant helium balloons light up the night!! It was a dream for me!

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If you have a chance to go to the annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, I highly recommend it. There is plenty to do there, even camping by Lake Skinner within walking distance. (Actual walking distance, the same as you would do from the parking lot – not hiking or having to take a shuttle, the campgrounds are right there.) I mention this because I wouldn’t have thought of a Balloon Festival/wine event as a family outing at first. However, there is plenty to do for the whole family. The festival part did not disappoint. The food and entertainment, craft fair booths, live music, and of course The BALLOONS would keep the kids happy and occupied while you taste wine and beer from the region to your heart’s content. Everything was clean, beautiful, well controlled, and very well organised.

The vineyards and estates that lined the road on the way to the festival were breathtaking!

There are two stages with bands playing almost non-stop over the three days of the festival. There are balloon ride packages available. There are wine tasting packages or you can have a single taste, all purchased separate from the admission ticket. There are plenty of options for meals. Make sure you have cash! Although most of the booths and vendors accept credit cards, the remote location has some limitations with internet connection. This made it difficult for the card readers to work, and the ATM machines also could not function in some spots.

Cheers!

I have to admit, I’m not that in to wine these days. In our younger days Lito and I did our fair share of wine tasting and enjoyed learning about wine. I can’t drink a lot of wine now because of dietary restrictions, or shall we say…lifestyle choices. I found it very easy to have a single taste while at the festival and there were volunteer stewards there to help me choose just the right thing. For my celebratory selection, I went with a peach champagne. It was c’est magnifique! If you are a wine aficionado, this would be a great place to try all the wines of the region in one location. Every winery in the area was represented. It was impressive. Check out the website for more details.

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

37701 Warren Road

Winchester, CA 92596

Toyota

I was so excited to have the opportunity to experience the Prius Four – with an EPA-estimated 54/50 MPG. With advanced materials, an innovative design, Prius promised to deliver the perfect drive. It turned out to deliver much more!

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Even though I had driven the Prius all day on the way to the festival, it was on the way out of the parking lot that I really got acquainted with all the features this model has to offer. We sat in the car for over two hours as the thousands of automobiles were slowly ushered out of the multiple parking areas through that one windy road we came in on. We looked at it as a positive since we had a great vehicle that was equipped for this kind of thing, we were actually charging the battery as we sat listening to music, reading the manuals, and playing with all the buttons and dials! We didn’t have to worry about turning off the engine, wasting fuel, or putting out emissions. It was pretty cool.

Here are my Five Favorite Things About the Prius Four:

  1. It Feels Like a Car – I never drove a hybrid before this and it wasn’t at all what I thought. It felt like a car. It didn’t feel like an electric golf cart. It was sturdy, great to drive, it had power, I loved the steering and handling, and I felt safe in it. The doors are heavy, the base is solid. It did have that “whirrr” sound when accelerating like a ride at Disneyland, which was strange. I usually drive a Jeep Wrangler, so nothing about that sounds cute! I liked that this Prius did not need to be “plugged in” to charge. It was everything I would expect from a vehicle, with more ways to save energy.
  2. Light Leather Interior – Living in a part of the country that gets temperatures of 80-100 degrees most of the time, I appreciate a cool interior. I also love leather. The two together are usually a disaster on a hot day. Not so with the Prius Four – I imagine it was the color that made the difference. It was very stylish with white on black. The dashboard was very modern and state of the art – futuristic even! I liked the crisp angles and large lettering and numbers. The design was fresh, from the fabric, to the little touches of metallic edges infused into the design that gave it a retro feel.
  3. Blind Spot Assist – The design of the Prius Four creates a big blind spot and Toyota has a great feature that I was skeptical about at first. I like to look over my shoulder and see what is next to me and behind me. It didn’t take long to get used to the indicators on the side-view mirrors that let me know if there was something in my blind spot. That really helped.
  4. It’s Roomy – The Prius Four is a hatchback with lots of cargo space. It also has a lot of leg room and felt comfortable. It is a small, mid-sized car, yet I would enjoy having it as a commuter car that I could use for long trips as well as family outings.
  5. It’s Sporty and Cute! – Not just because the Prius Four that I reviewed was “Hypersonic Red” but the design is pretty cool. It’s sleek and sexy. The tail lights have a unique design. Lito called it my spaceship! We definitely enjoyed all the features the 2017 Toyota Prius offers!

Tranquility

 Toyota thought of everything when they treated us to this little getaway. We stayed at the Pala Casino Spa and Resort.

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After all the driving, balloons, and wine tasting, we were ready for some rest and relaxation! I’ve heard of some other Indian Reservation casinos in the Temecula Valley area before but I was not familiar with Pala. It was off the highway a bit, but that added to the adventure. It is a smallish hotel and casino and reminded me a little of “old Las Vegas.” Lito and I got some ice cream and walked around the gaming tables and slot machines after we got back from the wine and balloon festival. We thought about trying our luck. We ended up not playing because we really feel like winners already! We were very lucky to have this fun weekend together with all the activities, transportation, and lodging provided. We felt truly blessed. I didn’t want to risk losing any of that!

In the morning we walked around the beautifully landscaped grounds of the resort. We checked out the pool and cabanas. We took a little peak in the spa gift shop. I did a Facebook Live tour (see below) to share the experience. It was a very nice morning. I enjoyed my stay and would return to Pala anytime. The room was luxurious and spacious. Next time, I will try the spa services!

They have live bands perform in the center of the resort, as you can see them setting up in the video. This would be a great all inclusive destination for any occasion. It is especially nice because it is close to the Temecula Valley wine country and Oceanside, which is a beautiful seaside town in North San Diego County. We ended our trip with brunch in Oceanside and took some beautiful photos with the pier in the background. It was a great day!

Listening to ’80s music all the way home, played on Sirrus XM by Richard Blade, brought us back to our younger days for sure. The entire weekend in Temecula, with Toyota, gave us just the tranquility we needed to recharge our battery and enjoy the fun summer ahead!

Pala Casino Spa & Resort

Pala Casino Resort & Spa

11154 CA-76

Pala, CA 92059

A huge thank you to Toyota Latino (check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ) for hosting me and Lito on this amazing weekend getaway and giving me the opportunity to review the Prius Four! Please see my disclosure for details on why I post articles like this on MizMeliz.com. It was my pleasure to share my experience with you, all opinions are entirely my own (with some input from Lito.) I was under no requirement or obligation to post this on my blog, nor did I receive any compensation for doing so. I was invited to drive the 2017 Toyota Prius Four for one week. We were treated to an overnight stay at the Pala Spa and Casino Resort, received a gift of $150 in Visa gift cards for gas and expenditures and two (2) general admission tickets to The Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival. #ToyotaLatino #Prius #VayamosJuntos #LetsGoPlaces 

 

Tech Review by Jay @GeneWildersHair @Hisgadget @TenMinitt

Posted on August 10th, 2015 by & filed under Affiliate Links, Everything Miz Meliz, Product Reviews

Ad: Disclaimer/Disclosure – HisgadgetInc. provided a sample of this product for the purpose of review. An additional sample is available for give away from iClever. No other compensation was received. All opinions are that of Jay @GeneWildersHair.
TECHreview

iClever® Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter with Car Charger

 iclever logo
 Construction: The plastic doesn’t feel cheap, as if it will break after some usage after time. I can see it holding up well for many years. It’s got a long bendable neck that while very pliable, feels very strong and again doesn’t feel as if it will break anytime soon. I love the fact that you can bend it to any position you see fit. The transmitter itself easily comes off of this bendable neck with a gentle tug, which is great if you don’t feel like leaving it attached while away from your vehicle. The base can be left plugged in while you pull the transmitter off so you can put it in your glove box so that no possible thieves in the area will see it and want to break in to your car. The base of the entire unit has a USB plug which makes it easy to charge your phone or other devices.
Usage: For those folks that don’t have an auxiliary port for their vehicle’s radio (or a USB plug in as most newer cars have now) this is the next best thing. It’s got buttons on the front to skip ahead or go back to the previous song. There is a button on the very top of the device that can pause, play, or even shut off the unit entirely.  There is also an easily adjustable volume knob towards the top of the device that you twist to the right to increase volume and to the left to decrease volume.
There’s a separate dial to turn for changing FM frequencies. The display is easily read on the front even in bright sunlight and is small enough to not be intrusive during night time use. To use this device all you have to do is plug it into your vehicles  power port or cigarette lighter port, activate your Bluetooth on your phone or tablet, and choose to connect to the device within your phone’s Bluetooth menu options. Now you will want to tune into an FM station on your vehicle’s radio that doesn’t have a signal coming thru (you want nothing but static here) and of course tune into whatever frequency you may have chosen here, on the iClever Transmitter. Once you’ve got that dialed in, you’re all set to enjoy any audio coming from your phone, including phone calls. This is probably the best use for this device, as you can use your vehicle’s speakers for hands free phone calls.
Sound Clarity: Music sounds okay. With all FM transmitters you can never really get rid of slight hissing (at loud volumes), slightly lower volume output, and a bit of static here and there.  Music doesn’t sound as good as say a CD or even a hardwired connection, but it’s still decent. like I said, if you don’t have an auxiliary port this is as good as you’re gonna get. In my opinion this unit is best used with phone calls, and podcasts. Neither one needs to be at the highest fidelity to notice any degradation in the audio at all. Overall this device does what it’s advertised to do, and does it quite well.

 

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Old Friends and a New Resto – A LOVE STORY by Melissa Reyes @solita_Valencia

Posted on February 1st, 2015 by & filed under Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews, I Love My LIfe

A Love Story

by Melissa Reyes February 1, 2015
http://mizmeliz.com New Love by Melissa Reyes 2-1-14

6 Pack Taco Sampler (Photo Credit: Courtesy of solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia)

Some Tacos

That should be read, “Some tacos!”

Yes, this story really does begin with tacos. And boy are they some awesome tacos. solita’s has the best Baja style tacos. Remember when I first had them and I told you that they talked to me? They still do. Do you want to know what they are saying now? Now, that we are in love, they say, “Mi Amor, my love, don’t share me with your friends. This can be our secret.”

But, I don’t want to keep it a secret. I want to tell everyone about my love. These tacos are meant to be shared. I want everyone to experience what I have at solita Tacos & Margaritas in Valencia! (disclosure)

It started with the first bite. And I knew. I knew I made the right decision when I suggested to my friends that we try this new restaurant. I had been there once already. Lito and I attended a soft opening. For a preview, it was well orchestrated and everything was absolutely perfect. We met Executive Chef Deborah Schneider  and Owner/Partner Rich Howland and they told us about their dream and vision for solita. The food was amazing that night. Would it be as good now that I brought my friends with me?

We shared a few plates of tacos. I tried the “wood-grilled ancho chile chicken taco” and the “red chile beef ‘borracho’ taco.” I will keep my secret of just how good they tasted. Some things must remain private. Besides, if I told you, you would stop reading this and go straight over there and order some. I want you to read the rest of the story. This isn’t even the juiciest part!

A Few Margaritas

solita's Grande Casa Noble Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

solita’s Grande Casa Noble Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Just a few. A few each. Who could resist the temptation? Top shelf imported Tequilas. A bar with an emphasis on freshness, quality, and affordability. They have the best tasting margaritas. Cue the blurry flashback sequence and strange throwback music…

General Manager Jason Goetz greeted us at the door. It was a very busy Friday night. He seated us at a big table right in the middle of everything – and there was a lot going on. Couples dining in the glow of the romantic fireplace in the front area engaged in low toned conversations, groups of families and friends were laughing and having a grand time in the main dining area, the bar was active and buzzing with young people imbibing before dinner and a movie perhaps, outside there were small groups of friends by the outdoor fireplace and around the outside bar area enjoying the pleasant evening ambiance as if it were somewhere tropical, somewhere beachy, and I felt transported to somewhere different. Is this what it is like in Baja?

Watermelon Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Watermelon Margarita (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Jason brought us our drinks. He was so warm and welcoming that we all instantly hit it off with him. He treated us like a friend. We asked him to surprise us with the cocktails so we could sample the special concoctions that solita is known for. He brought us each something different, gorgeous, icy cold, luscious, fresh, and well, yummy!

All the drinks were good. Seamus had “the bulldog” – a big margarita with a Coronita beer bottle inverted in the glass. Kristy tried the “guava margarita” which was – to – die – for with freshly prepared fruit juice from the kitchen.  Mark had the “el hombre,” a margarita made with a unique tequila infused with chipotle peppers. Tina tried the “watermelon margarita” which was sweet and then ordered a classic solita house “cadillac margarita.” Lito had “solita’s grande casa noble margarita” which comes in the shaker and is served table-side. Much like a fountain ice cream malt when it is served with the blender container, you get more than can fit in the ice cold glass and the shaker is left on the table.

The bar at solita’s specializes in tequila. Much like a vodka bar is known for great martinis, this margarita bar has over 40 different exotic and unique tequilas and serves margaritas especial (that’s Spanish for “special margaritas” folks.) I had a “skinny margarita,” tart and fresh, it was possibly the best skinny I have ever had – and I finished Lito’s shaker of margarita made with Casa Noble. Sharing is caring, right?

solita’s encourages sharing. Many of the dishes we had were served family style. The appetizers are prepared at the table. Many of them come with some verbal instructions. Our server, Rachel, told us how she prefers each dish and suggested varied ways of mixing items to make them even more spectacular.

photo copyright Lito Reyes Feb 2015 http://mizmeliz.com for solita tacos and margaritas valencia

photo by Lito Reyes, Feb. 2015

As we were sharing our “queso al forno,” the “tequila shrimp and avocado sundae,” and “grilled corn elote” – Co-Founder and Director of Operations Matt Baumayr  brought a special gift to the table. The bottle was empty, so don’t get overly excited. What made it special was that it is a collector’s item. Casa Noble is the single barrel private label imported tequila that solita serves exclusively. Each bottle is signed and numbered. Each barrel produces a limited few hundred bottles. Only a few barrels are allowed to be imported to the U.S. at a time. Muy especial!

Old Friends, New Friends.

Our group of friends are very special to Lito and me. We had grown apart for awhile. However, the bonds of friendship are very strong. In recent years we were reunited at the funeral of a dear mutual friend from the high school and college days. Sadly, we were reminded how precious life is. We vowed to get together for the good times and make each moment a celebration. We happily just spent time together at Mark & Tina’s wedding in Oceanside. We reminisced of the days spent in San Diego together when Lito and Mark were in college there and Kristy and I would drive down from the Valley to visit. Those memories were blurred for years as we “grew up” and moved on in life. Now, we can make new memories! That is the reason I thought solita would make the perfect spot for us. It is a neighborhood restaurant with a South of the Border atmosphere (similar to the San Diego area restaurants we frequented in our youth) and a super friendly welcoming staff, our new friends at solita.

This will be our new hangout. This is where I will bring out of town visitors from distances where they do not have anything like this. This is where I will bring my kids on their birthdays. I will meet clients here. I will suggest it the next time Lito asks me, “Where do you want to eat?”

The Main Event

Our Table (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Our Table (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

We were in the mood for surprises, so we asked our new friend Matt Baumayr to choose our entrees for us. He brought out some of his personal favorites and a newer dish that Head Chef Rogelio Vazquez had suggested. As Matt described, we would be needing some protein after our appetizers and cocktails. He brought out Chef’s smoked & grilled beef ribs, a half oak-roasted chipotle chicken, and classic chile rellenos con queso, beans and rice.

This is the juiciest part of the story that I promised. Have you ever had an orgasmic experience while eating something that exploded with flavor in your mouth? I didn’t want to swallow it because it tasted that good! I am having a hot flash this moment just thinking about it. I am talking about the chicken at solita. It happened to me just when Jason asked me how I liked the food. My mouth was full. Typical restaurant happening, right? The waiter comes by and asks you, “How is everything?” just as you take a bite. I usually nod and say, “Very good, thanks.”

This time, I reached out.  I grabbed Jason’s arm. I held on tightly. Right in front of my husband. Lito watched me as I leaned back in my seat, swallowed the mouthful of delectable smoked, fire-roasted, marinated, mouth-watering, out of this world flavorful moist and crispy chicken that I have ever had – and I said with utmost delight, “I am having a chicken orgasm right now.”

I can’t believe I said that to a man I just met.

But, it was truly amazing. (Honestly, I didn’t drink that much.) I took another bite. I looked around and everyone was loving it. We all kept saying, “Wow, this chicken is amazing!” Everything is great, but, “make sure you try the chicken.”

When Matt came over to the table, he asked what I liked best. I told him, “That chicken is so good. If they can make chicken like that, why would anyone make it any other way?” He agreed. It was magical.

Wait, There is More!

What could top that? Magical food, a truly memorable dining experience, presents. Then Jason and Rachel brought out the desserts. Fried Ice Cream, Creme brulee style Flan, fresh baked Churros with chocolate sauce, and a “Grown Up” Churro Sundae. At this point, I will admit – even though I tried to pace myself – the chicken really was the climax of the evening. But, I couldn’t resist solita’s charm. I was seduced by the beautifully presented and purely decadent desserts with their warm spicy cinnamon aroma, the chocolate sauces, the vanilla and rum taste sensations. We all tasted each of the delights that were placed in front of us. And guess what. They were terrific. You guessed it, huh? It’s hard to fool you.

I want you to experience these desserts for yourself, but to get you to read this all the way to the very end, I will just say that we weren’t satisfied. We loved them so much we wanted to get to know them even better. Kristy and I wanted to see how they were made. We asked Jason to take us…to the kitchen!

The Amazing Chef and Crew! (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

The Amazing Chef and Crew! (Photo Credit: Melissa Reyes 2015)

Bold move, I know. Jason was gracious and happy to escort us to the busy active kitchen. Everyone can see the kitchen in motion, it is an open kitchen with big windows so you see your food being prepared while you wait. We got the grand tour, and a demonstration of the secrets to making the perfect scoop of deep fried ice cream.  It was the perfect way to end the evening. Being romanced and charmed by the friendly people behind the scenes in solita’s kitchen.

 

 

 

Wow! What a night. You can see all the pictures we took of our evening at solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia in the gallery below.

Thank you to Matt Baumayr, Jason Goetz, Rachel, Chef Vasquez, Lawrence Moore, and everyone at solita’s for your hospitality and welcoming spirit. I received my meal gratis however, I was not asked to write this post/review, all opinions are my own, photos are copyright material of Melissa Reyes and Lito Reyes, unless otherwise indicated. Photos and press release information of solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia were sent to me by Lawrence Moore & Associates and used with permission. Read my disclosure for details on why I write blog posts like this on MizMeliz.com

Have a Romance of Your Own

solita Grand Opening Celebration

“To celebrate the official Grand Opening of their new Valencia location, solita Tacos & Margaritas is throwing a blowout celebration on Thursday, February 5th, 2015 that will highlight both their authentic cuisine and delicious cocktails, while also supporting the benefiting charity, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley.

 

GRAND OPENING INVITE 2015 (1)

100% of the beverages sold during the solita Tacos & Margaritas Grand Opening Fundraiser

will go directly to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley’s “it just takes one” Campaign

 

At the February 5th fiesta, there will be complimentary eats all night long, but drinks will be for sale, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, an organization offering education, leadership, sports and arts programs to needy youth in the area. “We are a community-driven company, and it was really important to find a cause that is not just important to us, but that is also important to the community,” says Co-Founder and Director of Operations Matt Baumayr. “We have a very lofty goal of raising enough money to fund the programming of twenty of our local youth for one year at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita, which is $10,000.00. Being that Santa Clarita Valley is so community driven, it is a goal we hope to achieve, if not surpass.”

I encourage you to enjoy the complimentary Fresh Guacamole Station with fresh mango, tomato, onion, chile and cilantro alongside their House-made Tortilla Chips and Duros. The Taco Bar will feature some of Executive Chef Deborah Schneider’s famous Baja-inspired wood-grilled and smoked dishes ranging from their Wood-Grilled Ancho Chile Chicken, Carne Asada, Pork Carnitas and much, much more.

One More Time, Please…

Valentine’s Day

“Don Juans who are looking to show their ladies some hot and spicy romance on Valentine’s Day, should look no further than solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia. With cocktails and cuisine made for two, and a fiery atmosphere (literally, the space features both indoor and outdoor fireplaces!) this sophisticated Mexican restaurant has everything couples need to celebrate their love. Executive Chef Deborah Schneider and Head Chef Rogelio Vazquez have created a special Valentine’s Prix-Fixe Menu for $39.95 per couple, with three mouthwatering entrées and several sides to choose from.  Lovers can experience both land and sea by ordering the fresh Surf and Turf with marinated carne asada and chipotle shrimp, sautéed corn, mashed potatoes, grilled jalapeño and lemon cilantro dressing, or the Catfish, cooked to a flaky perfection, and served with avocado salad. Can’t decide on just one thing, but want to indulge? You and your love can share a solita 6 Pack Taco Sampler, which is perfect for two and offers something for each of you, such as the Oak-Roasted Chipotle Chicken, Carnitas and Beer Battered Shrimp and so much more. Compliment your dinner with a side of Mexican Rice or solita’s Signature Slaw with a creamy lemon cilantro dressing. One glass and two straws please! Make sure to pair these romantic specials, with a decadent and delicious 32 ounce shareable Frozen Margarita for Two topped with La Pinta, a pomegranate flavored tequila. End the evening with a little sweet with your sweetness, and nibble on the rich and creamy Homemade solita Flan, flavored with vanilla and a dash of Mexican spices, and served in a deep dish on a bed of caramel, and lots of love! solita Tacos & Margaritas Valencia will be open on Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14th from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm with the bar remaining open until 12:00 Midnight; 24201 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 3470, Valencia, CA 91355; 661.291.1399; http://www.solitatacos.com/locations/valencia

 A Love Story in pictures to make your mouth water:

If you liked this story, please leave a comment. If you love solita Tacos & Margaritas, let them know @solita_valencia on Twitter.

Cheers!

Charged and Ready #WomenGetSocial @SITSGirls @RAVPower #Review

Posted on March 7th, 2014 by & filed under Discoveries, Everything Miz Meliz

Included in this recap of the Women Get Social 2014 conference are highlights of the event and  a review of products that I received from RavPower. All opinions are my own. (Disclosure)
photo and graphic by Melissa Reyes copyright March 2014 http://mizmeliz.com

My Take Aways From Women Get Social

I loved all the speakers at this thought-provoking and informative conference. Women Get Social is one of the best run conferences that I have attended. Tiffany and Fran really have it down! They share a fresh prospective and I could tell that they are charged full of energy from beginning to end, even though they must be exhausted from work, travel and the many conferences that they put on around the country all year long. They gave their full attention and were personally involved every step of the way.
I made lasting friendships at BBC Vegas

I made lasting friendships at BBC Vegas

My very first blogging conference that I attended in 2012 was Bloggy Boot-camp Las Vegas. I learned so much and was inspired by the fantastic speakers. Bloggers who had started out much like I did who had made a very successful business for themselves spoke about their experiences. It was a lot to take in especially since I was just learning the ropes. My goal for that conference was to meet the other ladies from my Facebook group, the SoCal Lady Bloggers. It was fun putting faces with names and names with blog and Twitter handles!

This time around, I wanted to get to know people a bit better and make some new connections.  Most importantly, I wanted to discover some new ways to build my blog and get known in the blogosphere.
photo and graphic by Melissa Reyes copyright March 2014 http://mizmeliz.com

This is how I felt after #WomenGetSocial 2014 in San Diego – like everyone there wants to be supportive!

I left WGS with a lot of questions. Good questions. This is what I need to ask to ensure that I am taking my blog to the next level.
  • Will this project/theme/idea/brand help me and my blog grow?
  • Is there a budget for this?
  • Is my primary intent/message above the fold?
  • Does my message solve a problem?
  • Am I telling my own personal story?
  • Am I thinking ahead? Am I planning far in advance?
  • What is my blog worth? How much does it cost in money and time?
  • Am I using my creativity and talents and sharing only my best work?
  • Am I maintaining my authentic voice and sticking to my core values in my work?
  • Can I build and demonstrate a cohesive digital campaign?
  • Is my content original and fresh?
  • Am I diligent and consistent with disclosures, checking links, siting sources and protecting my work?
Tiffany shares her wisdom

Tiffany shares her wisdom

More to think about.

As my blog grows into a business to support my interests (life coaching, writing and publishing, sharing my personal experience with travel and events) am I utilizing the proper channels and resources available?
Should I explore generating passive income with ads?
Am I presenting myself as an expert?
Is it time to get professional media training?
Should I be selling my photos?
Am I protecting my intellectual property assets properly?
Am I utilizing tools for task management effectively?
Should I be delegating to a virtual assistant?
Am I maximizing the benefits of engaging with Google Plus, Facebook Fan Pages, and Pinterest?

Exciting News

You might have noticed that I have monetized my blog. Since the redesign and transfer to a a self hosted website, I am able to collect payment and/or accept compensation for my work and use space on my blog for advertising. This is a way for me to fund my expenses and continue to bring high quality content to my readers. Lately I have been experimenting with different ways of doing this. I would love feedback and I am open to suggestions. It is my intention to provide meaningful, relative and informative material with interesting and engaging media on my website. I share a part of myself with you on every post. Every ad, sponsorship, and review is about something that I would use or like and I focus on authentic people and partner with brands with a passion for caring about people. I look for things that make a difference and have a heart.2014 February 027
Speaking about reviewing products, one of the best things I have been asked to try is the RAVPower external chargers. This is a MUST HAVE for conferences and travel. I use my phone nonstop and the battery gets drained quickly if I am not using wifi. Having the chargers with me at Women Get Social, I was always charged and ready! I won’t go anywhere without at least one of them in my purse for now on.
I like them both for a few reasons. The new luster gold lipstick charger is great because of it’s slick design and useful features. It charges up quickly, it has a pen style clip to hold it to the edge of a pocket or purse, it doubles as a flashlight with a strobe option. It’s a great tool! The best part is, as soon as I got that notification that my battery was low, I plugged it in and it totally saved the day! I didn’t miss a photo op or chance to Tweet a great quote on the spot. And no more cryptic text messages…“my phone is about to di…”
My notes enhanced by my charged up phone ready to Tweet!

My notes enhanced by my charged up phone ready to Tweet!

Ravpower specializes in high quality external batteries that allow users to charge their smartphones or tablets on the go. I also tried the luster series 6000mAh chargerIt’s a super handy one and has a stylish look. Mine is bright pink! It’s about the size of a candy bar. It has double the power of the “lipstick” version and can charge an ipad or tablet. I found both to be very useful. Carrying around these devises makes my purse extra heavy – but I didn’t mind, I have been told I am carrying around bricks anyways! People really notice the hot pink charger when I am using it. I am always asked what it is and how it works. I think everyone should have one. 
Shop for it on Amazon using my affiliate link and a small percentage of the proceeds will help support this blog.

Check them out on Facebook & Twitter!
Thanks to Randy at RAVPower for the great products to try, they really saved me at #WomenGetSocial! (Disclosure)

And…Here’s Something You’ll Really Like

Here are the Faces of Some Bloggers that I Admire and Love!

I want to thank all of the people who made Women Get Social a special experience, especially the speakers and sponsors. I must mention the Bahia Resort for making the weekend like a tropical getaway with superior service. It was a pleasure trying the wines from sponsor, Mirrassau.

What do you think? What did you take away from WGS? Are you charged and ready?

Sparking my Awesome in 2013 #ReReRe

Posted on December 31st, 2012 by & filed under Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

Before I can really get going in planning for 2013, I want to take a look back at 2012.  Here is a review of my greatest successes in 2012 in five key areas:

Finances

Financially speaking, it was a solid year.  I managed to do some fun things with my cash flow.  I am still living paycheck to paycheck, but I am not in any more debt than I was at this time last year.  Based on everything that I have happening in my family dynamic right now, in this economy, staying afloat is a good place to be.

I made a few “investments” this year.  I was able to pay for and complete a course on Life Coaching which will enable me to help others and help me increase my income in the future.  My hubby bought a mountain bike and if he rides it, it will pay for itself in place of a gym membership, that is an investment – especially for his health!  I leased a new car for my son, this was an important financial decision based on safety and peace of mind and replaced the old car that couldn’t pass the smog test.  My hubby and I managed to go away for a weekend here and there.  I believe that having a respite is a great investment for our relationship!  We joined a bowling league with two of our sons.  With having to pay fees for four people every week, it gets costly.  I look at it as another great investment because it was a nice way to spend quality family time and get out for some physical activity.  We indulged a bit here and there, but I consider that as investing in our quality of life.

Perhaps my priorities are a bit skewed since I really should have used the money that I spent on a new flat screen TV for the bedroom to pay down debt, but heck I am an American living the dream, so I am glad I did it.

As I am working on this, I feel like such a financial failure! Since I practice positivity, I am trying to glean some upbeat financial successes, but they will not compare at all to a anyone who actually had a financial gain. But in looking back at this key area of my life I have made a discovery. I recognize a pattern.  I do the same things each and every year.  It is not a surprise that my financial situation never improves. I am not doing a thing to improve it.  I need to consider this strongly in making my goals for 2013.

Relationships

In reflecting on my relationships this past year, I feel good about them.  My marriage is in it’s happy place.  We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this April.  I have everything right now that I hoped for when I got married.  My husband has given me a family, a home, and a bright future to look forward to.  What more could a girl want?  That is what I wanted when I was a girl.  Now, as I emerge as a woman and my children are growing and my home needs a lot of work I wonder what will happen in the next twenty years.  I have some ideas!  Luckily, he is game!  The number one success in my relationship has always been great communication.  We talk things through and when we don’t agree with each other, we accept and move forward.  My relationship with my hubby is my number one priority.

I have made a lot of new friends this year.  I have also reignited and strengthened relationships with old friends and family.  I have let a few relationships fall to the back burner.  I may let it stew a bit longer before I open up that pot!  But I won’t ever let the relationship boil away or burn what is left.  I can always spice it up and give it some attention and put some life back into it, right?  Relationships worth having can always be mended.

Health

Physically speaking, suffice it to say that I am still alive.  I am not better or worse off than last year.  I have written a lot about my health and my ailments lately.  I am working on it. I did next to nothing to improve my fitness level this year.  I started a few things.  I failed miserably at this.

I don’t feel healthy and I have very low energy.  I hope to get that back in 2013.  My son asked me recently if I ever wanted to go skiing again.  I told him I would love to, but my back starts hurting after an hour of shopping at the mall!  How would I be able to ski for a day without feeling miserable?  I can start “training” now to get in shape and be able to ski with my kids next year.  That goal restores the motivation I need to get moving and make healthy choices.

Intellect

Intellectually speaking, I am on top of my game!  This year, I completed a course online for life coaching, attended a conference for blogging, wrote on the blog an average of three times a week, and participated in daily discussions on topics ranging from birth experiences to the afterlife!

One test that I give myself from time to time is checking the dictionary for definitions of words that I use in my writing.  I score myself an A+ every time I use an uncommon word and apply it correctly.  I have never missed a meaning completely.  Once this year, I was glad I checked because I was using the wrong spelling of a word which would not have made sense in that context.  As a writer, to be understood is valued highly.  I have been doing what I can to make sure that I convey what I am thinking clearly.  That is the ultimate success for me.

Spirituality

Spiritually, I have looked deep into my heart and and I realize that I am whole and centered in my beliefs.  I have faith in God and I love praying to the Virgin Mary to intercede for me.  I appreciate my Catholic upbringing and I am proud to share that with my husband and glad that we are passing it on to our kids.  I did not attend Mass regularly in 2012.  There are many reasons for that and I am not ready to share them yet.  I will look at that more closely in 2013.

I plan to attend Mass more often especially because one of my sons will be making his Confirmation this year.  I love going to Mass, singing, praying, receiving communion and spending time with my community.  What I love most about belonging to a loving community is the care that I can give and receive from other people who share my beliefs.  I have learned that I have a similar experience with people of all faiths on Facebook and through my blog.

All people can feel that sense of belonging, love, and care.    I thoroughly enjoy that and it brings me peace.  However, physically being in the arms of my loved ones is something that I miss and hope to participate in regularly going forward.

a borrowed picture, source unknown at this time

a borrowed picture, source unknown at this time

In the spirit of “Sparking My Awesome in 2013” I plan to write more posts on my blog that are from my heart.  I created a new category, “Tell Me Something Good.”  This is where I will post my thoughts on the subjects that I have been contemplating during the month of December.  Here are some of them:

Peace
Creativity
Relationships
Growth
Healing
Forgiveness
Confidence
Love
Acceptance
Empowerment
Happiness
Excellence
Challenges
Life
Honor
Kindness
Compassion
Optimism
Gratitude
Simplicity
Perspective
Grace
Insight
Trust
Awareness

These are the topics I hope to explore and share with you.  With every post, I plan to ask you to reflect on the subject and give me your insights in a positive way.  I will ask you to please,

Tell Me Something Good. . .

I look forward to sharing my positivity this year with everyone that I encounter!

The Yard House

Posted on December 4th, 2012 by & filed under Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

The Location

We are lucky to have some good restaurants in Northridge and most of them are near or at the Northridge Fashion Center.  This week marks the opening of a wonderful chain restaurant at the mall.  It is located where the Cost Plus World Market has been for the past several years.  I was saddened by the closing of that store and many others in the “new” section of the mall which is adjacent to the movie theaters.  I am now hopeful that having the Yard House there will bring more new stores and restaurants to that part of town.

The Yard House is on the Plummer Street side of the mall and the closest parking is near the movie theaters.  Parking is free, but they do provide valet parking.

YARD HOUSE NORTHRIDGE

9301 Tampa Avenue
Northridge, CA 91324
818-721-0085

HOURS OF OPERATION
Open 11:00 am daily

Food Last Call
Sun-Thu 12:30am
Fri-Sat 1am

Alcohol Last Call
Sun-Thu 1am
Fri-Sat 1:20am

The Yard House

The Restaurant

The Yard House has a Facebook Page that has pictures and events posted.  It seems like a great place to work and the staff appear to enjoy being part of a community.  Their online presence makes you feel like a part of something and I liked that.

The service is very good.  I have eaten at the one in Lancaster, CA and I enjoyed it.  I went there for a late dinner with my nephew after a photo shoot.  We drove out of our way to eat there and I was so hungry.  I thought it might be out of my price range that evening and they had a huge menu.  I just wanted a quick bite!  I was pleasantly surprised that they had a late night happy hour!  We ordered and appetizer and sliders.  We also did a sampler of their brews.  Everything was terrific and very affordable!

The Food

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a VIP party at the Yard House in Northridge which preceded a “Soft Opening.”  What does all that mean?  It means free food and drinks!  I had the unique opportunity to try samples of many of the menu items as well as awesome full size cocktails from the bar.  I want to thank the Yard House and their marketing team for having this event.  I was so pleased to be able to share with my online community by Tweeting and posting pictures to Instagram about the event.  This is why bloggers are invited and a friend from my So Cal Lady Bloggers group on Facebook was nice enough to include me.

As soon as I walked in the door, servers were offering me samples of food which were served in bite sized portions on small plates.  Here is what I got to try:

  • FIRECRACKER WINGS boneless chicken, tossed in a spicy sesame garlic plum glaze garnished with green onions, the
  • BLUE CRAB CAKES with mango papaya chutney, passion fruit beurre blanc and tomato oil
  • SHIITAKE GARLIC NOODLES tossed with butter, garlic & shiitake mushrooms, topped with parmesan & chives
  • GINGER CRUSTED NORWEGIAN SALMON wasabi mashed potatoes, snow peas, carrots and spicy peanut vinaigrette topped with fried carrot strings
  • MINI CREME BRULEE with vanilla bean custard and chocolate topped with caramelized bananas

My son (who was graciously my “plus one”) and I made our way through the very large restaurant and found an open table outside on the spacious patio.  It was drizzling but there were large umbrellas over all the tables and powerful heaters so we were very comfortable outside.  Our server, Sean, came by and asked if he could bring us anything and took our drink orders.  He answered our questions and made us feel right at home.  He brought me my first of the two free drinks that were included for the VIP event.

Here are the drinks that I tried from the Specialty Drink Menu:

  • ESCALADE MARGARITA 1800 silver tequila, cointreau, hpnotiq, sweet & sour, fresh lime & orange, sugar rim
  • SOUTHERN BELLE jeremiah weed sweet tea vodka, lemonade, fresh strawberries and pineapple
  • MOJITO cruzan citrus rum or traditional |  mango • pomegranate • strawberry

I give the Yard House in Northridge an A+!  Everything was wonderful!  I really liked the Margarita.  I didn’t finish the Southern Belle because it was too fruity and sweet for me.  Sean offered me something else to try and I asked for the Mojito.  Also a bit sweet, I added some water and ice and it was perfect.

The music they played was fantastic, I loved it because it was mostly 80’s music and I thought I must fit the demographic for this place perfectly!  My teenage son enjoyed the TV screens all around (yes, even on the patio.)  When the event was over and we had finished our second serving of the Banana Creme Brulee, Sean told us that we could stay and were welcome to order off the menu if we wanted to pay for a meal or any more drinks.  We decided to take a look at the menu.

The Confession(s)

Confession #1, I ate too much!  I tried all of those samples and because they were mini versions I felt like I had eaten a small amount.  I realized that I was full just about the time our entrees arrived!

Confession #2, I drank too much!  I didn’t drink all three drinks, but they were full size drinks with a lot of alcohol and fruit.  Too sweet for me being a Diabetic.  My bad!  Slap my hand, please!  I should have had a glass of wine.  The Yard House has a great big menu with lots of choices, an extensive wine list and a beer menu.  They also have a FRESH & SKINNY drink menu!  The next time I go there, I will be sure to try a cocktail from that menu.  The Yard House caters to an eclectic crowd and has specialty menues to serve any taste.  In addition to the “skinny” drink choices, there are full menues for the vegan, the gluten sensitive, the health conscious, the gourmet and even kids!

My son and I enjoyed the foods we tried.  Here is what we ordered from the menu:

  • (MAC + CHEESE)2 chicken breast, applewood bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar, parmesan, campanelle pasta and truffle oil
  • CHICKEN ENCHILADA STACK pasilla peppers, garlic cream, jack cheese, corn tortillas, pinto beans, tomatillo, red chili sauce and sour cream

Luckily, Dan (our second awesome server, yes we were there for a long time!) brought us a “doggie bag” to take home our left overs!

My nicely packaged left overs

My nicely packaged left overs

Melissa Reyes Miz Meliz http://mizmeliz.com

Miz Meliz Likes It!

With two yummy sauces "you could drink"

With two yummy sauces “you could drink”

A Juicy Mojito goes well with the Enchilada!

A Juicy Mojito goes well with the Enchilada!

photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2012 Yard House #MizMeliz http://mizmeliz.com

The food samples were awesome!