P.C.Pop with Pablo

Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Family TV-Food Road Trip

In Food, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Pop Culture, Summer for Renewal, TV, TV shows, Uncategorized on August 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm


Food — Travel — Family; the combination defines me. So when we were deciding what to do this summer, our Summer for Renewal, we knew it had to include all three. All of my family is in Connecticut (and a bit of New Jersey) and to fit the budget of a family of four, we drive. Travelling by car from Indiana to Connecticut is a drive into which you must put some thought. I guess you can just get in the car and go; but when you have two kids, you should think a little bit about getting there without killing each other. The more you plan, the easier the Road Trip part of your vacation will be. After all the drive to your destination is not really your vacation; so, if the trip is a disaster it could potentially ruin the “actual” vacation. Regardless the Road Trip is a part of the overall experience — a part of the family vacation memories that will last a lifetime (good or bad). The most recent strategy we tried actually worked — for us, that is. We are big fans of any TV shows about Food, Cooking and Restaurants. We find ourselves watching hours and hours food related TV on the Food Network, Cooking Channel, PBS, TLC, OWN, and Travel Channel.



Some of our favorites TV Food Shows are as follows:


I even watch PBS’s Check, Please! which features review of Chicago restaurants and classic Julia Childs’ cooking and baking shows. And lucky for us there are new shows popping up each day like the latest — All You Can Meat and Invention Hunters.


“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

– James Michener


Actually searching out restaurants all along our 1600 mile round-trip, Road Trip to the east coast from the mid-west is a first for us. In the past we have searched the internet before we go on vacation to a new city to find out where Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Adam Richman or Guy Fieri had been in that city, and it wasn’t easy. Today thanks to two guys from New York who love Foodie TV as much as we do, the process of finding restaurants featured on most national TV programs is much easier.  These two guys created a website that is such a great idea and so easy to use — you wish you had thought of it first. TV Food Maps is their website which allows you to search for restaurants featured on TV by location, type of food and/or TV show. And if that weren’t easy enough, they launched a mobile app in its second version. There are other sites and blogs about Food TV but this is my favorite; again, because it works for me.


“The air you smell, the sights you see, the food you taste, the language you hear, and the feeling you get…nothing familiar. That is true freedom.”

~ Anonymous


Whenever we take a car trip that is focused mostly on family, we make a deal with our kids. The deal is we will try to see something interesting on the way there and on the way back. For the past few Road Trips eastward, we have spent a day in New York City because we are so much in love with this city. On the way back to home to Indiana we pick a different city each time and go exploring for a day or two.  The last two trips (this one and the Road Trip this past January), we have stopped in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, respectively. On this particular Road Trip we also managed to spend a good part of a day in Hoboken, New Jersey – birthplace of Frank Sinatra and Buddy Valastro — the Cake Boss.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain


Now, I don’t want you to think that all we do is eat — our Road Trips also include fun, history and culture. For instance  in New York City between lunch at John’s Pizzeria (of Bleeker Street), a sweet treat from Dylan’s Candy Bar  and dessert in Little Italy at Ferrara Bakery, we have visited all of our favorite places in the Big Apple including the Statue of Liberty, Belvedere Castle in Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Whitney Museum, and South Street Seaport; to name a few. Getting our kids excited about touring a new city or taking a 15 hour Road Trip to see family is a challenge. But when you can tie the trip to pop culture it sure does help — like visiting the Abby Lee Dance Company (home of Lifetime’s Dance Moms) while in Pittsburgh. In New York City finding pop culture references is a bit easier. Walking through the Central Park Zoo and finding some of the animals from the movie Madagascar or exploring the American Museum of Natural History and looking for exhibits featured in the movie Night at the Museum have also been strategies for us. Now we add getting a corned-beef sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen which was recently featured on the Travel Network and also is famous for a scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally — which we will consider discussing with our kids when they are much older, if you get my drift.


“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

– Henry Miller


For our family Road Trips and hectic sight-seeing days in new cities are now a bit more enjoyable. Following the food just adds another dimension giving us something to do together, a new memory to create, and another page in the photo album and scrapbook. We can’t wait to try this out on our next Road Trip south to the in-law’s home and west to my brother-in-law’s. As long as there’s a PBS, Food Network or Travel Channel — there will be funky restaurants to explore and unique foods to eat. If you want to see the lists of restaurants we have explored on our various Road Trips, check out my posts featuring the restaurants’ names and locations as well as reviews of our visits (coming very soon). And next time you head out on a Road Trip with your family — consider making it an official Family TV-Show Road Trip.


Happy Trails — and Buon Appetito!


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:


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Have Yourself A Rosie Little Christmas

In Malavenda, Oprah, OWN, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Rosie O'Donnell, The Rosie Show, TV shows on December 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm

The Rosie Show - Rosie O'Donnell

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, the Malavenda clan had an epic day.  During the Fall of 2011 we have hit a very, very low point. Somehow though on this special day we managed to have one of the best days in the history of our family. It all started when Oprah put Rosie O’Donnell back on the air.  My partner and I have LOVED Rosie O’Donnell for a very long time.  During our time at UConn, I managed to get ~50 tickets to see a taping of the new Rosie O’Donnell Show at “30 Rock” in New York City.  On January 12, 1998, during Rosie’s second season of her original show my partner and I chaperoned a busload of college students to the Big Apple.  It was a great day.  We have forever been die-hard Rosie fans. That is why when Oprah announced that Rosie’s Show would be a part of the line-up for her OWN network, we were very happy.  To our surprise and delight, Rosie would be taping in Chicago.  Rosie the ultimate New Yorker was moving to Chicago and taking over the Harpo Studios.  We knew that we had to be there.  After 25 years of failure in getting tickets to see Oprah, we got on it right away with Rosie.  My partner was on the website every day and NOTHING.  All of a sudden one day, dates appeared.  We put our names in for every date available.  BINGO.  We got tickets.  We were going to the ROSIE SHOW!

We put our heads together and decided to make it work.  Our plan was to give this as an early Christmas gift to our kids.  Our budget is fine for now but if our situation doesn’t change in 2012, money could be an issue.  Using this as a Christmas present made sense financially.  The beauty though (and irony) is that our kids would much rather have experiences like this than any game or electronic device.  We also decided to make it a surprise to our kids.  It was not easy though.  On Friday, Rosie’s people emailed us the Friday before our taping encouraging us to wear our “ugliest Christmas sweater” to the taping.  We don’t have any ugly clothes so my partner posted a request on Facebook.  She got an immediate response from several friends.  Once that ugly sweater was in our possession our kids started to ask questions.  What do you need the sweater for?  Whose party is it for?  When is the party? Are we going to the party too? We dodged those questions for most of the weekend.

Thank goodness Monday arrived and the kids went to school.  Our kids got home from school, participated in their after school activities, made it home and immediately began working on their homework.  It was around 9 p.m. before they were both done with their work.  They got the clothes ready for school because it was going to be spirit day and they got ready for bed.  They went to bed.  We waited about 5 minutes and called them back downstairs to our family room.  I turned off the TV, had them sit on the couch across from me, and told them I had to tell them something — something good.  We told them they were not going to school the next day and that we were going to Chicago to see the taping of the Rosie Show.  They thought we were kidding.  Once they figured out we were “for real” they went to bed, of course, too excited to fall asleep right away.

The next morning we headed to Chicago for one of the BEST days of our history as a family.  We had a wonderful breakfast at Ina’s, we found parking right across the street from Harpo for only $10 for the entire day, and we got in line about an hour before we were supposed to be there.

Waiting in line and waiting to get in the studio was a lot of fun.  Once inside Rosie’s people gave us a very yummy cupcake.  We then got our seats and although we weren’t in the front section, we had perfect seats.  We could see the band and the main-stage without any problem.  Under our seats were Snuggies because Rosie keeps the studio really cold (because of her hot flashes) and she wants us to be comfortable.  Of course our boy put his on right away. As the time passed the show started to come together.  There were ugly sweaters all over the audience as well as antler ears, Rudolph noses, Santa hats, (Christmas) light-up clothes and lots of bows, tinsel and garland.  The stage was decked out with several Christmas trees and decorations including candy and cookies.  The audience coordinator gave us our instructions, the warm-up comic did his stand-up routine, Holly the announcer got into place, and the band arrived including Katreese Barnes their leader.  And the show was about to start and out comes — R O S I E!

She was brilliant and gracious.  The show theme was “It’s a Crafty Christmas.”  The guests were Marjorie Johnson, the Blue Ribbon baker and Rosie’s favorite craft guru, Bobby Pierce.  The musical guest was Casey Gorab from the new A Christmas Story: the Musical which is on tour in Chicago (hoping to make it to Broadway).  The show was great but what made the experience special was Rosie.  Our theory is that since there wasn’t a big star on the show, Rosie was being very engaging with the audience during breaks — and she gave us lots of stuff.  My boy actually caught her attention and was able to ask her a question during one of the breaks.  His question was great.  He asked “What kind of performing did she do as a kid?”  She was not sure at first if he was a boy and then she called him a cutie patootie.  She then gave a great answer and asked him if he has been performing.  They chatted about the PMO Christmas Show. It was a wonderful interaction between Rosie and my boy.  After the show, Rosie invites children to the stage to meet her and take a picture with her.  Rosie immediately called out my boy’s name and was delightful with both our kids.  They not only got a perfect photo with Rosie (see above), but she also gave them Hanukkah gelt, huge Christmas cookies, candy canes filled with chocolate, and chocolate truffles — all directly from the Christmas set that the crew was tearing down around us.  We were walking on a cloud.  She was engaging, gracious, generous, and slightly humble.  She really likes kids and seemed to like ours. We filed out of the studio with the rest of the audience and gathered up our loot. We ended up with the following:

We contemplated getting in the “Stand by” line for the second show which featured Penny Marshall but it was full.  We decided to pack all of our Rosie give-a-ways in the car and go get some deep dish pizza.  (When in Rome….)  We have had deep dish pizza many, many times but we have not been to Giordano’s Famous Pizza restaurant.  It was close enough to walk and even the walk to the restaurant in the Greek Town neighborhood of Chicago was fun.  We walked through the Adams-Sangamon Park which had an awesome sculpture, a doggie play area, a great view of the Sears Tower, and a lighted Christmas tree.

Because it was only 4 p.m., we were seated right away, got our pizza and were very content (full) with pizza. Surprisingly, it was some of the best deep dish pizza we have ever had. We headed home to Indiana and reminisced on a great day. The best part of the day was that we were able to share it with our kids.  My partner and I have seen a few tapings in our day in New York City and Los Angeles (SNL, Letterman, Maury) but I cannot describe how wonderful it is to share something like this with your kids.  Especially a taping of a show like the Rosie Show.  It was truly entertaining from beginning to end. We experienced something very special. We all had a great day — TOGETHER.  It was perfect.

We even got our Christmas card picture (see below), finally made it to Harpo Studios (check it off the bucket list), got lots of loot, didn’t spend too much money (We even lucked out and found gas for only $3.09 a gallon in Merriville), and have a reason to go back to Chicago soon — to see A Christmas Story – the Musical (for free)

The next day, my partner signed up for tickets for all of the tapings of the Rosie Show in January 2012; and my boy spent most of the night in his new Snuggie.

It might actually be a great Christmas after all.  Thank you, Rosie (& Oprah); and Thank you to my precious family. Peace – Love – Laughter! (Especially NOW!)

Snowflake Dazzle Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.