Monday, January 26, 2015

Mama Juice: Toad Hollow Wine Club

I was a wine club virgin until last week. I always liked the idea of shipments of wine dropped at your door three or four times a year. I never found a wine club though that intrigued me. Most of them were either way too out of my price range, OR, didn't have a full offering of wines that met my fancy....until Toad Hollow. I adore Toad Hollow and have tried several reds, whites and sparklings that are just delicious. The wine club, Dr. Toad's Club, was right in my price range, and let's be honest, we all know I choose my wines by the labels and being a lifelong Wind in the Willows fan, the labels are right up my alley. I received my first shipment last week which contained a Risque (which I LOVE!), the Zinfandel and an Erik's the Red (I also love) for $37.50. Of course, just as with other wine clubs, you get all the discounts, access to events, newsletter, recipes, everything. Very very happy with the wine club decision. I love joining clubs, but I'm not sure this is one I could put on my resume....or maybe it is? 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Movie Studio Grill: A Great Way to Spend an Afternoon

We were so excited to make a trip to the newly opened Studio Movie Grill in Rocklin. The first location in California, the company has many other locations throughout the country. Speaks volumes to Placer County. I LOVED the concept....luxurious movie seats large enough to be comfortable in, a full menu including salads, sandwiches, pastas, burgers and movie favorites like popcorn and a full, and I mean FULL, drink menu....extensive wine and beer offerings, mixed drinks, even adult milkshakes....mudslide anyone?, all brought to your seat allowing you to fully immerse yourself in your chosen cinema. Genius! Funny actually....production companies spend so much $$$ making movies but until now, it doesn't seem like much thought was given to the experience in which one watches a movie.....

Our chosen cinema was Paddington. It was Xander's treat if he made good choices all week at school. Good choices meant listening, being kind, being helpful, napping when he's supposed to and not hitting kids with a hockey stick. He'd wanted to see Paddington since first seeing the previews over the summer during Fire & Rescue. I loved Paddington growing up so I was excited to see him take an interest in the most well-mannered bear that's ever roamed the Earth.

I had seen other friends take their kids to Studio Movie Grill and it looked so awesome. I could hardly wait to go. Alex too. We were really psyched. I think it was because we both liked going to movies, but have really become discouraged with movie theaters over the last decade. In high school I used to go to the movies every weekend. In college it got less, as a young adult it got less than that and until we had Xander, we really only went to the movie theater on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Xander has forced us back into the theater, but we now require more out of the experience.

I checked to see if Studio Movie Grill would be having the movie, and indeed it did. You reserved seats. Something I quite liked. We like sitting on the end, near the top of the stadium seating. While there were hardly any showings that still had three seats together for opening day (apparently I wasn't the only one with a soft spot for Paddington's British accent), I did find three seats that met our criteria for a matinee show last Saturday. To my surprise the tickets weren't any more expensive than a regular theater. There was a small service charge for reserving the seats, but pennies compared to the gas you'd waste driving to the theater only to find all the seats were reserved! The process was easy. Immediately I received a text with my confirmation and a link to a QR code. The big day arrived and there was only one word to describe what we saw when we walked through the doors....WOW! It was so cool. If you'd already purchased tickets, you bypassed the line and went straight to the computer terminals to pick up them up. Now here's where it DID get a little confusing....You're greeted by a HUGE bar in the middle of the lobby area. No popcorn, but alcohol. And, couches and cocktail tables. So do we order here, then they bring us the food? I didn't get it. We proceeded to the ticket taker who explained we were welcome to have a drink and wait for our movie (it wasn't quite being seated yet) but all food orders happen once we were inside the theater. Okay. Makes sense. As people kept piling in for the Paddington showing, I started to get a little anxious. Like what if our seats are double booked? What if there's not enough time to order? I don't get this! I'm out of my element! But it all worked out! About 10 minutes before the start of the movie, we were escorted into the theater where we found our seats which were super comfy, amazing and came complete with a fold over tray that doubled quite well as a barrier to ensure Xander stayed in his seat. Since the seats were actual seats, Xander's small little booty didn't get folded up into the seat like at a regular theater. I'm sure he really enjoyed watching the movie without my purse on his chair doubling as a weight. Alex and I had already studied the menu in great detail. I knew I was going to get the Steak Cobb Salad, Alex ordered the coconut shrimp and chicken and Xander just wanted popcorn and a soda. We touched our lights to let the servers know we were ready to order. People were still filing in and finding their seats, some were placing orders, but there was a pleasant, organized hum in the room. Everything was well executed, like an award-winning marching band. It was something to see. A server quickly found their way to us, took our orders, ran our card for payment, and within minutes the previews began. Our drinks were delivered, Xander's popcorn was delivered and shortly after, mine and Alex's lunches came out. The food was delicious!!! It was just absolutely perfect. We didn't order anything else during the movie, but many people did and it wasn't distracting at all. It was completely UN-distracting if that's even a word which I don't think it is. You didn't even notice the movement in the room. About 20 minutes before the movie was over, they dropped our check by, we signed it and that was it. So easy!

We were so incredibly pleased with the entire experience. We will definitely be back with Xander, but an even greater testament to Studio Movie Grill's success is that Alex and I will definitely be back on our own...just the two of us. The fun and excitement that transpired from our family outing was nothing short of movie magic.

Lobby Bar and Waiting Area

Seats with "barricades." A dream come true!

Extensive Menu

Fancy popcorn. No more digging into the bottom of a nasty bucket.

When was the last time you ordered a steak salad at the movies????