Delicious Chinese From The Freezer

This post was sponsored by Tai Pei and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I am always on the lookout for ways to make my life easier so I was really excited to go to Chicago last week for a fun blogger event with Tai Pei. The invite said we’d learn some life hacks along with getting the chance to try some of the meal options from their new line of Asian inspired frozen entrees.

Before the event started we had a chance to chat with other bloggers. It was nice to catch up with those who I hadn’t seen in a while and to meet some new people. Every time I think I know all of the Chicago area bloggers I go to events like this and discover I don’t.

We also had a chance to play a homemade game with ping pong balls and empty Tai Pei containers. I love finding new uses for things and thought this was a great game that my boys probably would have enjoyed as well (and I’m sure they could probably have done a better job at getting those balls into the containers, too!)

After a while it was time to eat and I learned we would be sampling three flavors- General Tso’s Spicy Chicken, Beef & Broccoli and Chicken Chow Mein. I like Chinese food but don’t eat it often since takeout tends to be expensive so I was very interested in trying these because I hoped they would be a great replacement. I was pleasantly surprised that they tasted just as good as delivery!

All entrees are made with real, quality ingredients and tasted freshly made. The rice is also flavor-infused so each bite is full of flavor. Speaking of flavor, I liked that the General Tso’s Spicy Chicken had a bit of a kick to it but wasn’t too spicy that my kids wouldn’t be able to eat it. Nothing worse than serving dinner and hearing “it’s too spicy” and having the kiddos refuse to it. I don’t think that will happen with these meals!

Thankfully I left the event with a couple coupons because I headed right to the store and bought a bunch of them. These are perfect for the days I’m busy working (from home in my pajamas- let’s keep it real here lol) and look up to realize that it’s 2pm and I haven’t had lunch yet. I’ve actually made Tai Pei meals the past couple days and am loving how easy they are. I just heat them up for 4-5 minutes and then eat them right out of the container, which means no dirty dishes to wash.

Want to try Tei Pei single serve Asian inspired frozen entrees for yourself? Get a coupon here!

Mango Baked Beans Recipe

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The National Mango Board.

The easiest way to break out of a routine is to try something new. That is especially true for food. I enjoy trying new foods and introducing my boys to them.

One fruit I recently introduced to my children were mangoes. In order to learn a bit more about mangoes and how to prepare them easily I went to a cooking presentation with my son Luke. The event was sponsored by The National Mango Board. It was very fun for us both and very enlightening.

Most people do not realize there are 6 variety of mangoes in the USA and that mangoes are one of the few fruits available the whole year round. Besides just being very delicious and versatile when it comes to their use, mangoes are actually very healthy. They have as much Vitamin C as oranges. One cup of diced mango contains 100 calories, 1 gram protein, 0.5 grams fat, 25 grams of carbohydrate (23 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber), 100% of the daily need for vitamin C, 35% for vitamin A, 20% of folate, 10% of vitamin B-6 and 8% of vitamin K and potassium. That’s a lot of goodness in one fruit!

Together, Luke and I learned and created awesome mango snack recipes from a culinary expert.Here are some tips we were given:

  • Selecting: Don’t judge a mango by its color – red does not mean ripe. To find a ripe mango, just squeeze gently. A ripe mango will be slightly soft like a peach or avocado. A firm mango will ripen at room temperature over a few days.
  • Prepping: To cut a mango, simply slice off the sides of the fruit, avoiding the large seed in the center.  Once you have these two sides, you can get to the flesh and slice or dice as needed. Then, simply scoop it out of the skin. For more on how to cut a mango or delicious new recipes, visit
  • Storing: Keep unripe mangoes at room temperature. Never refrigerate mangos before they are ripe. Once ripe, mangoes can be moved to the refrigerator to slow down ripening for several days.

And some fun facts I didn’t know about the tasty Mango:

  • Mangos are one of the most popular fruit in the World
  • Mangos were first grown in India over 5,000 years ago
  • Mango seeds traveled with humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America beginning around 300 or 400 A.D.
  • The paisley pattern, developed in India, is based on the shape of a mango
  • A basket of mangos is considered a gesture of friendship in India
  • Legend says that Buddha meditated under the cool shade of a mango tree
  • Mangos are related to cashews and pistachios
  • A mango tree can grow as tall as 100 feet
  • The bark, leaves, skin and pit of the mango have been used in folk remedies for centuries.

Luke learned how to make a Cinco De Mango Quesadilla and Frozen Yogurt Dipped Mango Pops. At first Luke was shy about the Mangoes but then once he realized how sweet and juicy they were he was hooked. .

As we were both delighted we decided to make a tasty dish with mango at home very soon. We received a great cookbook full of flavorful mango recipes. I chose to try out the Mango Baked Bean recipe this week.

This is a very easy recipe. The prep time is just a few minutes. I started by gathering all the ingredients. I chopped the bacon and onions and the mango. While the bacon was frying, I started to make the sauce.  It’s a very sweet sauce with molasses and brown sugar.

As soon as the bacon was crispy and onions were clear, I added the beans and combined the sauce. The last thing to add was the mango (mango can be pureed or in chunks). Everything needs to be stirred well together and then it needs to be baked in the oven.

While the beans are baking you can go ahead and make anything you wish to use as the main entree. I chose to grill up some steak and shrimp because it was a nice day and fresh grilled meat sounded fantastic.

I hope you are a fan of mangoes. If you just became one, head out to a grocery store and pick up a few. Make a dish, juice them, or best of all eat them freshly cut up. I would love to hear what you came up with.

We Love Awana! Follow Me At The #Awana14Launch Blogger Summit

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

My children have been participating in the Awana program for the past few years and we love it. The kids have fun while learning Bible verses and making new friends. I thought I’d share a few photos of them in their cute little vests :)

The kids get membership cards in Sparks


Lucas is so happy to be a Cubbie


Race day!


A couple months ago I was contacted by Awana inviting me to their Blogger Summit with 8 other bloggers. Not only do I get to learn more about Awana and the people behind it, but I get to hear about the super secret thing they are launching at the summit! If you love Awana, you should follow the hashtag #Awana14Launch on Twitter TODAY and TMRW (April 29th-30th) to be one of the first to learn what they are launching because the other bloggers and I will be tweeting it out as soon as we can ;)


10 Gifts Under $40 And More Dream Gifts From Kohl’s

(Disclosure: I attended an event at a Kohl’s store and received a gift card for my time. All thoughts are my own.)

I love the Holiday season. The cookie baking, Christmas tree decorating, carol singing and hot chocolate drinking days are some of the most fun ones of the year. One thing not on the “fun” list? Shopping for the perfect Christmas gift. I love the gift giving part but going from store to store to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list is one of the most stressful parts of the season.

Last week I got a sneak peek at Kohl’s Christmas gift selection and I realized that shopping for gifts could be fun and easy when you shop at one location. From toys to home decor to fashions for the whole family you’ll find everything you need at Kohl’s. The best part? With the great deals they have you’ll save enough money on gifts to buy yourself something nice.

Trying to figure out what to get those hard to shop for people on your list? Here are 10 great gift ideas under $40.

doc mcstuffins doctor bag and doll gift set


Food Network™ wine sweaters


Simply Vera Vera Wang initial box necklace


Big Wheels riders


Wembley slippers


San Miguel picadilly votive candle holder


Melissa & Doug slice and bake cookie sheet


essie nail polish kit


St. Nicholas Square® angel tealight candle holder


Sony® studio monitor stereo headphones

Green Juice I Actually Enjoyed and {Winner of Biggest Loser} Danni Allen’s Tips To Stay Healthy

(Disclosure: Walgreens invited me to an event while I was in Chicago last week. I received a gift bag at the event but all thoughts are my own.)

The thought of “green” juice used to make my stomach turn. I could never figure out why people enjoyed drinking these vegetable filled drinks. I have had a few of these green juices and could never take more than one sip so you can imagine how I felt about going to a blog event and being subjected to these green, healthy drinks. In my head I thought there is no way I am going to like this stuff.

When I picked one up I discovered that it actually smelled good. There was a fruity smell to it instead of it smelling like a salad. I took a sip and surprisingly it was nice and refreshing and tasted nothing like vegetables. I actually hoped they’d come around with another tray of it because I wanted more of that green juice. Later on I got the ingredient list….cucumber, celery, kale/spinach, green apple, lemon/lime. Would I choose it over my flavored coffee? Probably not. But would I choose to drink it over my favorite pop {or soda for you down South…}, yes I would.

Here are Danni Allen’s top 5 healthy tips:

1) Drink mean, green and clean juice {As shown above, you can find one that tastes good.}

2) You can always find 20 minutes in a day to work out {Her quick routine is 40 mountain climbers, 15 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 plank up-downs and repeat until 20 minutes is up.}

3) Recovery is just as important as exercise. {She suggests stretching or Restorative Yoga}

4) Motivation is key! {Find a way to push outside your comfort zone by joining a team or signing up for a race.}

5) Food is about quality not quantity. {Danni says: don’t buy cheap fruits and veggies!}

Walgreens had lots of delicious, healthy items on their “fresh bus” for us to check out and enjoy. I loved our picnic (even though it rained and we collapsed a picnic table lol).

Energizer’s “Power The Creativity” Event With Crayola

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

{Sorry for the blurry picture. He was scribbling so fast I couldn’t get a good shot!}

A couple of weeks ago the boys and I had the opportunity to go to an event sponsored by Energizer and Crayola. While I networked with other Chicago bloggers and learned about some of Energizer’s new products the boys had a chance to play and try out new Crayola toys. We had a great time and it was fun to attend an event with the boys since they love seeing what mommy does when she goes to “acago” {aka Chicago}.

The first product I learned about was the Energizer Flameless candle. I had received one previously from Energizer and loved it because it had the look of a burning candle but was safe enough to have around children and pets. What I did learn at the event though was that there was a timer on it so I could set it to go on and off. I currently have my candle sitting on a high shelf in my entryway and it turns on in the early evening and offers a nice flickering of light in an otherwise dark area.

The other product I learned about were the Energizer Max Batteries with Power Seal Technology. These batteries can hold their power up to 10 years on the shelf! Wow! They’d be great for an emergency kit because they last so long.

Energizer currently has a great promotion going on with Crayola. Here are the details:

I am excited to get some of the Crayola products the kids tried out, especially the Color Wonder Light-Up Paint Pallete. Here’s what the Crayola website says about our favorite product: “Create like a real artist in a magical mess-free way! The Magic Light Paint Palette lights up to match the color of whatever paint you use. Dip the brush in blue, it lights up blue – in red it blushes red and so on!”

(Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Energizer. I attended an event and received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.)


My On The Field Experience With The Chicago Cubs {And How YOU Can Have A “Priceless” Experience Too!}

As a blogger in a big city I get to do a lot of fun things but there is nothing I like more than being able to involve my friends and loved ones in my blogging events. When I was invited to enjoy a day at Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs courtesy of MasterCard and allowed to bring a guest I knew exactly who I wanted to bring. My little brother is a huge Cubs fan and I knew he’d really have a lot of fun during this once in a lifetime experience. {Make sure to read below to find out how YOU can have a unique experience in Chicago, too!}

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day:

Love that they promote their social media channels here!


My little brother, Brock, right after he stepped onto the field :)


Brock playing catch on the field.


Brock standing in front of the ivy wall at Wrigley Field.


ME! Enjoying a relaxing morning on the field


Hope of Digital Megaphone {she’s the one who invited us along!}


Me and my little bro :)

During this experience we also enjoyed batting practice in the Chicago Cubs batting cages, got to take souvenir balls, and went to a private party at the Captain Morgan’s Club where we had lunch.


Do you want to have a once in a lifetime experience like this? YOU CAN!!

This event was part of MasterCard’s Priceless Chicago promotion. MasterCard offers priceless experiences to their cardholders. You can find out more details on MasterCard’s website but here are a few experiences that may interest you or your family members:

Pre-Game VIP Party at Wrigley Field

Brunch at the American Girl Doll Place with Author Valerie Tripp

A day of beauty at Neiman Marcus’s Michigan Avenue store

Private 15 Course Meal with Top Chef Richie Farina

(Disclosure: I attended this event courtesy of MasterCard and Digital Megaphone free of charge. All thoughts are my own.)

My Experience At Ribfest {With Ty Pennington & Sears}

I posted back in June about the Sears “Grilling Is Happiness” live event and how I was so excited because Ty Pennington was going to be there. I wanted to follow up and update you all about my experience and share lots of pictures, too!

Friday night I went to a media/blogger event at a beautiful hotel. There were about 10 bloggers, people from Sears, and then the cooking and lifestyle experts. The experts that attended the event were Ty Pennington {best known for Extreme Makeover Home Edition}, Robyn Lindars of Grill Grrrl, Perry Perkins of Burnin’ Love BBQ, and George Hirsch {a cooking and lifestyle expert}. We ate delicious food while chatting about grilling and blogging. It was also a great chance to get some pictures taken:

Ty & I


Robyn & I


Some of the Collective Bias Social Fabric bloggers at the event: myself, Laura, Kelly, and Michelle


The dessert- yum!


Saturday I attended the Ribfest in Naperville, IL. This is an annual event with many barbeque restaurants participating. This year Sears participated and hosted a “Grilling Is Happiness” event with live grilling demonstrations, pictures opportunities, and a chance to enter their sweepstakes to win some great prizes. Here are some pictures I took at the Ribfest:

George Hirsch showing off the Kenmore Grill he is using


Shrimp that George Hirsch made with the help of Ty Pennington {I tasted it and it was delicious! He paired it with asian style noodles.}


Ty being interviewed by ABC News


Trying to stay cool on a hot day


Perry showing what he uses to grill


I learned a lot watching the experts grill and think it’s great that Sears included a woman in their panel of experts. I don’t know a lot about grilling but seeing that a girl could grill just as well as the men could made me want to go outside and figure out how to use the grill I just bought last month. I also loved how she made a variety of things on the grill that I’d never think to make. She even makes dessert on the grill! {Check out her grilled pound cake recipe}

I had so much fun at the event and took over 60 pictures! You can view the rest of my pictures in my Google+ photo album. I also took two videos at the Ribfest. The first is of Robyn giving a couple of her grilling tips and the second is of Ty sharing a grilling story with the crowd.

If you are in the Chicago area I encourage you to attend the Naperville Ribfest next year! You will not be disappointed. The food is amazing, they have live bands playing throughout the fest, and they even have a fun family area with lots of things to keep the kids busy.


Connect with Sears:

Sears on Facebook, Sears on Twitter, Shop Your Way on Twitter, Sears Local Ad

Connect with Ribfest:

Ribfest on Facebook, Ribfest on Twitter

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears. #CBias #SocialFabric #GrillingIsHappiness All thoughts are my own.)

Crafting With DIY Network’s Jeanne Benedict And OFF!

On Thursday, June 21, I co-hosted an event for OFF!® at the Lincoln Park Conservatory & Gardens in Chicago. DIY Network’s Jeanne Benedict was on hand to share some easy ways to spruce up the backyard for Fourth of July parties and get the family offline and outdoors this summer!

The space was absolutely beautiful amidst the wonderful city views! Jeanne demonstrated the decorations we will be working on and we kicked things off by creating a floral masterpiece with red, white and blue flowers and spiced them up with additional decorations such as patriotic pinwheels and our own personalized flags we created. It was a blast! We also worked on these great table decorations filled with sand and seashells and chatted about our upcoming Fourth of July plans as well as how to help keep mosquitos as bay during the holiday.

Here are some pictures from the event:


Decorated Table


Gardening Table


Pot decorating table


Our Special Guest, DIY Network’s Jeanne Benedict


Finished Centerpieces {Photo Courtesy: Edelman}


Jeanne also shared ways that we can “log off” and enjoy the summer with our families. Here are some of her top tips for logging OFF!® while on vacation:

As I shared in my last post, OFF!® Clip-On™ Insect Repellent is a product that is fairly new to me. I have used OFF!® products since I was in grade school and am definitely loving the fact that I can get the same mosquito protection that I always did with the added bonus of convenience. I used the OFF!® Clip-On™ Insect Repellent the other day while sitting outside on my patio. I liked that, although it is a fan, the sound wasn’t that loud and didn’t bother me while I was watching my children run around the yard. The clip-on’s last up to 12 hours so I know that I can take them with me whether I’m gardening, fishing, camping or relaxing in the backyard.

(Disclosure: I was compensated for hosting an event and writing about OFF!® but all thoughts are my own.)

Enjoy Fourth Of July Fun This Summer With OFF!

There is nothing my family loves more in summer than spending every second we can outside. After shopping a few weeks ago, my outdoor oasis is finally complete and perfect for night-time relaxing. It appears perfect but then I remember that summer nights also include mosquitoes that make my evenings end in lots of scratching. I need to make sure I have plenty of OFF!® on hand to help keep mosquitoes at bay. I used to use the OFF!® spray but recently learned about their new clip-on product – OFF!® Clip-On™ Mosquito Repellent, which has a quiet, battery powered fan that circulates an odorless repellent, and within minutes creates head-to-toe protection for up to 12 hours. This is perfect for activities such as sitting on the patio enjoying a book or magazine. Plus 12 hours of protection is a lot of outdoor time! This product comes in four decorative covers that I can choose from so I can get the boys a camouflage print and myself a flowery design. (I will be sharing my thoughts on this new product soon!)

OFF!® Clip-On™ Mosquito Repellent also has a new Facebook application that I’m excited about. I shared a week or two ago about how last summer my family spent so much time indoors because I was working on my computer so much and how this summer I was going to spend more time offline. I created a summer bucket list of all the fun activities I hoped to do and places I wanted to take my children to. One of the items on our summer fun list is to go watch fireworks which I’d like to do on the 4th of July. I am going to use the OFF!® “Log OFF!®, Clip-On™” Facebook application to make sure I check “watch fireworks together” off of our bucket list.

OFF!® is encouraging people to “log off” their computers and smartphones for a whole day on the Fourth of July. They have a pledge that people can take saying they will be offline and outside. Once you take the pledge, the application will let you know the time you spent on Facebook on the Fourth of July and e-mail a report shortly after. I think it would be fun to make it a competition between friends and family to see who could spend the most time offline.


I’m also happy to share that I have teamed up with OFF!® to host a blogger event in Chicago this month. Just in time for Fourth of July parties and summertime backyard bashes, we will learn outdoor entertaining tips from DIY Network’s Jeanne Benedict while we enjoy yummy food and drinks. The event is being hosted at a Chicago garden so we will also be doing gardening activities and some crafting. I am so excited and I can’t wait to share all the great tips I learn at the event!

To learn more about OFF!®, visit and make sure to tune in tomorrow, June 21, on my Twitter and Facebook pages to get updates on my evening with OFF!®

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for my time but all thoughts are my own.)

Our Experience At Medieval Times {And A Giveaway!}

When I was younger I went to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament with my mom and brother. It was an experience I wanted to give my children as well so I was really excited when my family was invited to visit the castle and attend the debut of their first new show in five years.

View of the castle from the highway

Since my youngest is only two years old I chose to invite my mom and four year old nephew to attend the show with Jacob and I. We spent the car ride playing a guessing game of what kinds of things we thought we’d see at the show. We also were on the lookout for the giant castle that the show is in. The castle in Illinois is near a major highway so as we were driving we could see it and the boys started to get even more excited.

Jacob, my mom, and Camden

Once inside the castle we received crowns to wear. Since it was VIP night there was a cocktail party beforehand with drinks and delicious appetizers. We chose to buy the boys light up swords as well and I was happy to find that they were reasonably priced.

The King is coming!

Before the tournament there is a little show in the lobby area. The King comes out and there is a knighting ceremony. People who attend the show can pay extra to participate in this experience. After the ceremony, everyone is let into the arena and seated according to what knight they will be cheering for in the tournament. {Ours was the black and white striped knight.}

Once seated inside we were given our dinner in courses. We were fed soup, bread, a huge piece of chicken, a spare rib, potato wedges, and an apple danish. The chicken and soup were my favorites. I ended up with leftovers to take home to Sinisa because there was so much food. Keeping in line with the “medieval” theme, the food was served with no utensils so you may want to keep that in mind if you bring little ones who might need a spoon for their soup or straw for their drinks.

While eating we watched the story unfold in front of us, watched the jousting tournament, and cheered for our knight. Here’s a little more about the new show at the Chicago castle:

While the new show has undergone a complete overhaul, some traditions remain. The live show still features two- and four- legged performers with a true medieval utensil-free meal, all in a recently updated, castle-inspired arena. However, the new live production presents even more of audience favorites such as live jousting, swordplay, horsemanship and falconry. Guests become part of the action, filling arena seats and cheering for one of six “Knights of the Realm,” named after historic regions of medieval Spain.

“The new show is designed to keep our guests on the edges of their seats from the opening moment,” says Saj Rizvi, vice president and general manager of the Chicago Castle. “New & returning guests will feel the electriticty in the air from the riveting new battle scenes and grand costumes, to the new lighting and on-going action set to a fresh musical score.”

After the opening, guests will witness intricate battles that are in reality precisely planned sequences with have been practiced daily. With authentic weaponry and enhanced armor, the new production presents non-stop action tied to the tempo of the music. And while there’s still a general theme of “good versus evil” throughout the show, guests will see much more of what they’ve requested – fight scenes that maintain the highest quality and safety standards.

Since Jacob is only three, I wasn’t sure how he’d sit during the show but he behaved very well. He was entranced with the show and, though he didn’t follow the story line, he enjoyed all of the action. My nephew liked the show too, however it ran a couple of hours past his bedtime so he started to get sleepy towards the end of it. Overall, we really enjoyed the dinner and tournament and I am happy that my son got to experience the show that I have great memories of watching as a child.


Tickets can be purchased here.

Pricing for 2012: Children under 3 are free if they sit on a lap and eat of the adults plate, children under 12 are $39.95, and adults are $59.95.


One reader will win a complimentary admission ticket to Medieval Times {Chicago Castle only}

Ticket is valid through September 30, 2012.


{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want to win.

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Like Medieval Times on Facebook

4) Share this giveaway on a social network

5) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

Giveaway ends June 1, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. Giveaway does not include travel to Chicago or anything else other than one ticket.

(Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets for my family to attend the VIP night at Medieval Times. Italicized information in this post came from the press release but all other thoughts are my own. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

Business Card Giveaway {And Some Advice}

Blogging conference season is upon us and it’s important to bring business cards to conferences and events you attend. Having attended a handful of conferences and a lot of blogging events I can tell you one thing that I’ve learned:

Do something with your cards to organize them when you get them or you will probably NEVER do anything with them.

I have close to 200 business cards from various bloggers and businesses and they all sit in a large ziploc bag on my desk. Looking through the cards I can remember great conversations with some of the pr companies and fun nights out with some of the bloggers but with other business cards I look at, I can’t even remember meeting the people.

Here are a few things I wish I had done when I first got the business cards:

1) Connected with people on Twitter so we could keep in contact

2) Separated cards by conference or event

3) Put a star on the cards of people I wanted to follow up with or continue a conversation with

4) On PR cards, wrote down the brands they were there representing



50 Business Cards from Tiny Prints


1) Leave a comment telling me what you want to win the business cards for

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Follow me on Twitter

4) Follow me on Pinterest

5) Share this giveaway on a social network

6) Enter another one of my giveaways {found here}

Giveaway ends March 1, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way. I am giving away the business cards I would have been given. All thoughts are my own. This giveaway is not associated in any way with Facebook.)

Walgreens Grand Opening In Chicago

On Monday I went to the Grand Opening of a new Walgreens located in Downtown Chicago. To say that this store was amazing would be an understatement! The new Chicago Walgreens is two stories and located at State and Randolph.

When I think of Walgreens I normally think of prescriptions, over the counter medicines, and last minute items I need while traveling. I found all that and so much more at this Walgreens location. Here are some highlights of the store:

Walgreens Nail Bar

A Nail Salon inside with affordable manicures!


wine tasting at walgreens

Over 700 varities of wine and wine tastings during peak hours


virtual makeover

A virtual makeover machine that lets you scan makeup items and see how they would look on you.


frozen yogurt station

Frozen yogurt station complete with add your own toppings bar.


virtual bartender

Having a get together and need drink ideas? The Virtual Bartender and Virtual Wine Selector can help you select the perfect drink.


Other fabulous perks at this store include:

*a sushi bar

*pharmacists that come out from behind the counter

*European skin care products typically only found at the dermatologists office

*variety of grocery products, including fresh fruit “to go”

*someone who will fix your eyebrows and put fake eyelashes on you

*Coke freestyle machine


The Grand Opening event itself was a lot of fun. I enjoyed spending time with other Chicago area bloggers as we toured the store. We ate lots of sushi and a variety of other delicious foods and there was plenty of wine. The Mayor of Chicago and Governor of Illinois were VIP guests and invited to speak and officially open the store. There were also celebrities like Gabrielle Union, the Blues Brothers, the red M&M, and the twins featured in the Walgreens commercial. Here are some pictures of the people that were at the Grand Opening:


Bloggers with the twins from the Walgreens commercial





Gabrielle Union, the red M&M, and the #SoFab bloggers

To view more pictures from the event check out my Google+ story!

(Disclosure: I was compensated for attending this event by Collective Bias but all thoughts are my own. #CBias #ChiWalgreens)

Fashion Bloggers and…. ME!

Earlier this week my friend, Paula, and I attended an event with the Chicago Blogger Network. While I had fun, I felt out of place because almost everyone there was young, fashionable, and well, basically me before I had two kids. (Though I don’t think I was ever as fashion forward as these fashion bloggers were!)

You can check out all the really cute outfits here. Pictures were taken by @Tyliner of Darkroom Demons.

Here was my look:

Jokingly I asked Sinisa before I left if he thought I would win an award for being the most stylish. He said “NO!” He explained that he didn’t like my scarf or my jeans and probably could have went on but I stopped him. I said “thanks honey. You were just supposed to say yes.” Haha.

So Sinisa didn’t think I was the most fashionable but I thought I looked cute. What do you think? If you think I look at least somewhat decent I would love if you could visit my post on the Chicago Blogger Network page and leave a comment under my picture. I made it easy for you all and linked right to my page. The person with the most comments gets an IPod Touch! :)

To find out more about the party you can view the tweets from the evening with the hashtag #CBNTRIBUTEPARTY.

(Disclosure: I attended this event free of charge as a member of the Chicago Blogger Network.)

Building Blocks Toy Store

Building Blocks Toy Store (located in Chicago)

15th Anniversary Sale

 20% off everything in stock!!

 October 21, 22, & 23

Friday, October 21: 10am – 7pm

Saturday, October 22: 9:30am – 6pm

Sunday, October 23: 9:30am – 5pm

Stock up on gifts – Did you know you can return anything at anytime, even without a receipt? They have a great exchange/return policy!

And don’t forget:  You’ll also get one entry for every $25 you spend as part of their 15th Anniversary GIANT Giveaway

Find out more about Building Blocks Toy Store on their website.


My family and I attended a “Boogie With Building Blocks” event at the Building Blocks Toy Store in Wicker Park. The boys had such a fun time playing with the train table and the Thomas trains. I loved the selection of items the store had. I had looked all over for “dot” painters and not had any luck but Building Blocks had them! The best thing about the store was that the prices were reasonable. I often think of smaller toy stores as being really expensive but I didn’t find that this was the case at Building Blocks Toy Store.

We enjoyed relaxing in the “Blogger/Media” area (courtesy of ChiIL Mama), I got a mini-manicure next door at JUKO Nail & Skin Rescue, and we loved the fantastic gift bag we got. A huge thanks to Building Blocks for having us and I’m looking forward to the next event there! :)

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post but I did receive a gift bag from the store and a mini-manicure while I was there. All thoughts are my own.)

Chicago Toy And Game Fair {Ticket Giveaway}

The largest public game and toy fair is coming to Chicago November 19-20, 2011. At the Chicago Toy and Game Fair you can play, preview, and purchase the hottest new toys and games so it is a great way to kick off your Holiday shopping. There is lots to do for the whole family including live entertainment, free tournaments and contests, Star Wars breakfast, giant-sized toys and games, and costumed characters roaming the fair. Tickets are $10/adult, $5/child and ages 3 and under are free. You can find more information on their website here.


Four readers will each win a family pass to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair

(One winner will be chosen per week- 10/24, 10/31, 11/7, and 11/14)


(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each you complete)

1) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS

2) Tell me what your child’s/grandchild’s favorite toy is

3) Check out ChiTag’s website and tell me what you are most looking forward to

4) Follow me on Twitter

5) Write a blog post about this giveaway and include a link to this post

6) Share this giveaway on Facebook

7) Enter another one of my giveaways and let me know which you entered

8) Stumble, digg, or social bookmark this giveaway

9) Tweet “Enter to win a family pass to ChiTAG from @aliciamarie112 (4 winners!) at

10) Comment on one of my non-giveaway posts

Giveaways end on four different dates with four different winners. Winners chosen Monday, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7, and 11/14.

(Disclosure: I received a family pass to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and will be attending the media preview. All thoughts are my own.)

Social Media Masters Summit (For Bloggers!)

The 3rd Annual Social Media Masters Summit is coming to Chicago October 25th and 26th! This is one event that you do NOT want to miss since it is a fantastic way to learn about the best practices in the industry as well as meet other fabulous bloggers and brand/agency reps. They wanted to make sure the event was easy for you to afford, so a VIP blogger ticket to the event is only $99 (corporate people are paying $349 for the same ticket!!)

Your VIP Ticket includes all events on October 25th and 26th…

Bonus Sessions on the 25th include:

7 Day Video Challenge: V-log guru, Danielle Smith (@DanielleSmithTV), will be leading a session that will help you take your v-logs to the next level. This session will be very interactive as Danielle helps YOU become more comfortable in front of the webcam in addition to helping you create v-logs that will draw more viewers!

Driving Traffic with Community Building, SEO & Beyond: Sean McGinnis and Dan Newman started 12most just a few months ago, but their site already receives hundreds of thousands of unique visitors regularly. Joining Sean & Dan on this panel is Emerson Spartz of Spartz Media, which generates over one hundred million unique page views across their three websites. How did they do it? Let them tell you first hand!

Community Management on the FLY with Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines is hands down the leader when it comes to the airline industry and social media. Brooks Thomas from the Emerging Media team at SWA will lead a Power Session on how they leverage Twitter, Facebook and blog to interact with customers and increase customer satisfaction and will also share about their new blog that uses customer generated content.

Dress to Impress Red Carpet and Avatar/ Headshot Photo Session: Come to this event looking your best! We’re going to have professional photographers on hand to take head shots that can be used as your default picture across all your social media networks. Remember – this is often the first thing someone sees when visiting your various networking pages. First impressions count!

And of Course, First Class Networking… Bring your business cards, a firm handshake, and a smile! You’ll be mingling with the speakers, bloggers, your peers, and of course, our wonderful sponsor – Critical Mass!

Don’t Forget The Full-Day Summit on the 26th featuring Walgreens, Kellogg’s, Jockey, Pepsi, Domino’s and more…

As if it couldn’t get any better, they just added two VERY cool sessions – Just for you!!

Blogger/Influencer Breakfast sponsored by Jockey and Calumet Photo

Meet with brand representatives from Jockey and Calumet while you enjoy breakfast with other bloggers and social influencers. After breakfast and mingling you’ll have the option of going on a power walk lead by a fitness expert or a Photo tour lead by Teresa Peek who will show you how to enhance your photography skills by taking photos from a different perspective.

Danielle Smith / Aliza Sherman – Mom, Incorporated Book Signing

Meet Entrepreneurs Aliza Sherman (founder of Cybergrrl, Inc., Webgrrls International and Mediaegg) and Danielle Smith (founder Danielle Smith Media and who have joined forces to write a book that helps women who are already moms (or are thinking about becoming moms in the future) learn how to take charge of the family/work balance by starting their own businesses. Mom, Incorporated is a holistic, user-friendly book that draws on Aliza and Danielle’s own experiences as well as the experiences of other moms who’ve started their own successful businesses.

If you can’t make it to the summit you can still come to the Breakfast and/or the Book Signing which are free. If you can make it to the summit you’ll get a free copy of Mom Incorporated with the paid $99 VIP Blogger Ticket!

A HUGE shout out to the breakfast and book signing hostesses @SassyMomChicago and @selfmademom!

How do YOU go VIP?

Just pick the VIP Blogger Ticket option when you register!



Are you a business that wants to attend the Summit?

Full event details are at:


Register today using code “cb20” and save 20% on your registration.


(Disclosure: I am receiving a ticket to the Summit in exchange for spreading the word about this awesome event. All thoughts are my own.)

I’m A Kidgrade Ambassador!

I’m happy to announce that I have been chosen as a Kidgrade Ambassador for the 2011-2012 school year! is an awesome site that lets you rate how kid-friendly places around the Chicagoland area are. Here is more information about the site:

Once you become a member of the site it’s easy to “grade” a place. You just login, rate the location, and you also have the option of leaving comments.

Our first group meetup was at a place called Kookaburra Play Cafe. The children played, we enjoyed snacks and chatting with one another, and also learned more about our role as Kidgrade Ambassadors. While there we graded the location:

As you can see the location information is provided including address, hours, and pictures of the play area. The location was also graded on price, location, parking, and if it was kid-equipped. Instead of heading out to a place without knowing much about it you can head to and see what real parents think about the location! What a great idea!

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for posting about Kidgrade or the meetup at Kookaburra Play Cafe but I am receiving special perks as an ambassador and received a gift bag from Kidgrade. All thoughts are my own.)

ROSS Dress For Less Grand Opening {Giveaway!}

Last night I attended the VIP Insider Event at ROSS Dress For Less for a sneak peek at one of their NEW Chicago area stores. I had never been in ROSS before but heard it was a store with designer items at a discounted price. I love to shop but even more than that I love to find a good bargain so I was excited to see what ROSS Dress For Less was all about.

Ross Dress for Less, the nation’s largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain with over 1,000 stores in 27 states, will celebrate its initial entry into the greater Chicago area with the grand opening of 12 new locations on Saturday, October 8th. Savvy shoppers will find the same styles and brand names they see at department stores for 20 percent to 60 percent less at the new stores in Algonquin, Arlington Heights, Bloomingdale, Crystal Lake, Matteson, Naperville, Niles, Orland Park, Rockford, Schaumburg, Skokie and South Elgin. To celebrate these grand openings, each store is offering customers a chance to win a $500 shopping spree or one of five $100 shopping sprees from Saturday, October 8th, to Sunday, October 16th.

I found really good deals while I was shopping last night. Here is what I bought:

1) A name brand winter coat for myself that was originally $260 for $62.99

2) A name brand train engine for Lucas

3) A name brand train building set for Jacob

4) A children’s book of Bible Promises

5) A package of pillowcases

Total: $92.81

I will definitely be going back to ROSS! The employee who took us on a tour of the store told us that his tip is to shop ROSS first and I can see why. Once you shop at ROSS you will never want to pay full price again! They even had things at discounted prices that I wouldn’t expect to see like coffee from my favorite coffee shop, kid’s soccer gear, furniture, and bath and body products. Another tip he gave us was to shop early and shop often. He said they get new inventory five times a week!

Want to find out for yourself what makes ROSS Dress For Less so fabulous? Well, I have a surprise for you….


One lucky reader will win a $25 gift card to ROSS Dress For Less!

($25 goes far!!!!)


(Do any or all of the following)

1) Tell me what you’d shop for at ROSS Dress For Less

2) Subscribe to this blog via RSS or email

3) Follow me on Twitter

4) Write a blog post about this giveaway and include a link to this post

5. Share this giveaway on Facebook

6) Enter another one of my giveaways and let me know which you entered

7) Stumble, digg, or social bookmark this giveaway

8) Tweet “Enter to win a gift card to ROSS Dress For Less from @aliciamarie112 at


Giveaway ends November 7, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time.

(Disclosure: I received a gift card to shop at ROSS Dress For Less during the event but all thoughts are my own.)

Chevy Cupcake Quest

A couple weeks ago I spent my morning with other bloggers participating in a Chevy Cupcake Quest organized by Sharon and Chevy. We were put into teams (my teammate was Paula from Frosted Fingers) and drove around the city of Chicago in a Chevy Traverse, visiting cupcake shops and completing challenges. We did things like tweeting about the cupcakes we tried, sharing facts about Chevy’s 100 year anniversary, and doing a number of picture taking challenges. We were also given the opportunity to nominate a hero we knew for Our Town, Our Heroes program.

During the quest we had to visit four different cupcake shops: Swirlz Cupcakes, Sugar Bliss Cupcakes, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Sweet Mandy B’s. At each shop we got a cupcake (or two) to try, took pictures, and learned about the different cupcakes. At Swirlz Cupcakes I tried Gluten Free cupcakes that were amazing and tasted just like regular cupcakes. The Gluten Free Chocolate Mint one was my favorite (and best of all? It’s sold at Whole Foods all around Chicagoland!) At Sugar Bliss Cupcakes I ate a huge carrot cake cupcake with frosting shaped like a flower on top. At Sprinkles Cupcakes I ate a Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake that had a layer of peanut butter on top which was an unexpected surprise! At Sweet Mandy B’s I enjoyed a pumpkin cupcake and the old fashioned feel of the Lincoln Park bakery.

At the end of the quest we gathered for a “sweet-up” at Bleeding Heart Bakery where I enjoyed some peach pie and talked with other bloggers and representatives of Chevy. While we were there we learned who the winners of the quest were and guess what? Paula and I won! I was very excited because I had just spent the morning eating cupcakes and having fun and was now being rewarded with a $100 gift certificate to Bleeding Heart Bakery and a week long loan of the General Motors car of my choice.

Being the awesome mom that I am I came home with a bag full of cupcakes and cake balls for my children. Couldn’t keep all the yuminess to myself! Now the question is: which vehicle do I choose? A “mom” van or a hot sports car? :)

(Disclosure: I received a gift card to cover my expenses for the day but all thoughts are my own.)

Six Flags Great America {Fun For Young Children, Too}

Photo courtesy of: Lisa from Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

For my birthday a few weeks ago my family and I headed to Six Flags Great America with some other bloggers and their families thanks to Discover and Chicagonista. I had always thought of Six Flags as a place for older children, teens, and adults but when I put on Facebook that we were going to Great America I was told that there was lots to do.

We started the day eating lunch with the other bloggers, the family from the Coaster Tour, and representatives from Discover. We listened to a family tell us about their roadtrip from Six Flags in LA to the Six Flags in Chicago and stopping at three other Six Flags on the way. It sounded like a fun trip and great bonding time for the family of four. We also learned about the perks that Discover card holders get when they go to Six Flags like early admittance to the park, a 5% discount at the park, and cashback bonuses (you can learn more about the perks and more here).

After lunch our family headed to the children’s area. The boys didn’t go on many rides but Jacob rode his first rollercoaster! I wasn’t sure how he would like it but he loved it so much he wanted to do it again. We ended our day at Hurricane Harbor which is the water park inside of Great America. My children are so young (2 and 3) that we were only able to go in one area of the water park but we could have easily spent all day in that one area. There were small slides that both boys went on and also large tube slides that Jacob and I both went on. We climbed all the way to the top and I was told only one person could ride at a time so I went first and waited at the bottom for Jacob. He was supposed to lie on his back all the way down but ended up rolling around and had a mouth full of water on the way down. I thought he would be done with the slides after that but he wanted to keep going on them!

We left in the afternoon because it was a long day in the sun for the boys and they normally nap at noon so by four they were exhausted. We didn’t even make it to the front gates before they were asleep! If you have children of any age I think they will love Six Flags Great America :)

(Disclosure: I attended this event free of charge and received Discover cards to cover my expenses but all opinions are my own.)

Bebe Paluzza Ticket Giveaway

Bébé Paluzza, the largest Maternity, Baby and Toddler Show in the USA is hosting their second annual Bébé Faire in Chicago for expectant parents, seasoned parents, grandparents and caregivers of babies and toddlers. Hosting a four city tour, Bébé Paluzza events feature over 450 exhibitors and sponsors, and attract more than 15,000 consumers collectively. Exhibitors include manufacturers of baby and child-related products, service providers, national brands, and mom-preneurs who are creating unique products based on their personal experiences and needs. The company was started in 2007.

The second annual Bébé Faire at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. This family event will showcase some of the best maternity, baby and toddler exhibitors such as BUY BUY BABY, Costco, Language Stars, Mabel’s Labels, Miracle Cord, My Gofer and many more. Parents, grandparents and caregivers can expect live entertainment, expert speakers, and activities for the little one. Eddie and Jobo of K-Hits 104.3 will be hosting Bébé Boogie, a dance party for toddlers on Saturday, so don’t forget your dancing shoes!


Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center

1551 North Thoreau Dr. Schaumburg, IL 60173


Saturday July 30, 2011, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Sunday July 31, 2011, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


Tickets to the event are $10 each and include all-day access. Visit the Bebe Paluzza website to purchase tickets or learn more.


Two readers will each win 2 tickets to Chicago’s Bebe Paluzza.


(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each.)

1) Tweet this: “I want to win tickets to #BebeFaire #Chicago from @Bebe_Paluzza and @aliciamarie112 at”

2) Share this post on Facebook

3) If you are a blogger you may blog about this giveaway

4) Enter another one of my giveaways


Giveaway ends July 18, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time.

(Disclosure: Winner will be chosen randomly via Must be 18 years of age and a Chicago area Resident. I received tickets to attend Bebe Paluzza.)

Awesome Opportunity For A Young Woman!

I love being a part of the #GlueNGlitter community in Collective Bias because I get to connect with some of the wonderful people at Elmer’s and be a part of some awesome things they are doing. Today I want to share one of those opportunities with you! Here are the details:

At the 2011 International Year of Youth Culmination Celebration, girls will have the opportunity to speak out, change the world and be heard. And your young girl (or neighbor, friend, niece, etc.) can be part of this!  The celebration will be held August 11th, 2011 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. It’s a 1-day event from 8:30am until 5:00pm. This event is powered by AllyKatzz, an amazing on-line community for teen/tween girls only.

Elmer’s is a proud sponsor for this amazing summit and they want to see girls from the Glue ‘n Glitter family right there in NYC on August 11!

While 192 delegates will be selected from across the country, THREE will be selected directly from the Glue ‘n Glitter family and their blogging communities (that’s YOU guys)!

So who do you know that is interested in changing:

1.     Poverty and Hunger

2.     Universal Education

3.     Gender Equality

4.     Child Health

5.     Maternal Health

6.     Combat HIV/AIDS

7.     Environmental Sustainability

8.     Global Partnership

These are the eight millenium goals that were adopted by the United Nations.

Please help us find that special girl and have her apply to be a delegate at the Celebration! Click here for the application. They will need to register as an AllyKatzz too. Applications must be received by JULY 11, 2011, so help her apply asap! In addition to the huge honor of being a delegate and having her voice heard, girls will also hear from awesome mentors like Monique Coleman and world leaders (TBA).

In order to be considered for the Glue ‘n Glitter delegate seats, she must answer the question “How did you hear about the Youth Celebration?” with “Elmer’s Glue ‘N Glitter”. This question is right on the application.


If you, or a young woman you know, are applying I’d love for you to share in the comments below. Good luck to everyone who applies!

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post.)

Colgate #BuildingSmiles Tour

My children love to brush their teeth. A few weeks ago we headed to Walmart to get some groceries and I needed to pick Lucas up a new toothbrush and you should have seen these kids in the dental care aisle. You would have thought I was handing out toys and candy with as excited as they were. They each left the aisle with a new toothpaste and toothbrush and were content with those items the whole time we were in the store. As soon as we got home they wanted to go upstairs and brush their teeth. I made them eat dinner first and then they {literally} ran up the stairs and into the bathroom. They climbed up on their little stool and brushed their teeth. For almost 15 minutes. They only stopped because I made them go to bed.

Since my kids love brushing their teeth as much as they do I was excited to hear about Colgate’s Building Smiles event. Colgate is sponsoring an RV to travel around the United States to offer dental screenings to children for FREE. I knew my children liked to brush their teeth but wanted to see what a dentist would have to say about how well they (and I) were doing.

We went to this event last weekend when the RV was in a nearby town. Both boys have not been to the dentist yet. My doctor said they didn’t have to go until they were three years old and my oldest son just turned three a couple weeks ago. Since they had never been to the dentist they were a little leery about someone they didn’t know sticking their hands in their mouths but they both did pretty well. The dentist said Jake’s (my oldest’s) mouth looked great and Luke’s (my youngest’s) teeth looked ok but we could do a better job helping him clean them. Each child left with a goody bag including a new toothbrush, sample of toothpaste, coupons for Colgate products, a brushing chart, and a dental screening “report card”. You can view more pictures from the event here.

Want to see if Colgate’s RV will be coming to your town? Check out the location list here.

(Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #CollectiveBias. All opinions are my own.)

Dot and Ziggy at Chicago Children’s Theatre

A few weeks ago my family went to see Dot & Ziggy at the Chicago Children’s Theatre. To be honest, I probably would never have attempted to bring my children to the theatre if I hadn’t received free tickets. I just didn’t think that they would sit through a performance and I didn’t want to waste my money on something that my kids wouldn’t sit through.

I was wrong.

My children watched attentively through THE. WHOLE. THING. My boys who have sensory issues and don’t sit still for anything remained enthralled in this show until the end. I was amazed. The show, which is specifically for babies and toddlers, even kept the adults in the crowd entertained.

We sat on the floor as the story unfolded around us. We watched as Dot, a ladybug, and Ziggy, a skunk, became friends. Throughout the show they talked a lot about opposites and differences which were great learning lessons for the older children in the crowd.

My family enjoyed the show a lot and we will be back for future shows!

Dot & Ziggy runs through June 26th

2011-2012 Season:

Goodnight Moon
October 27 – December 24, 2011
Ages 4 to Adult

The Houdini Box
January 24 – March 4, 2012
March 14 – March 25, 2012
Ages 5 to Adult

Brown Bear, A Moon and A Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle
May 2 – June 2, 2012
Ages 2 – 7

(Disclosure: I received tickets for my family to attend this event. All thoughts are my own.)

The Walmart Ice Cream Social -My Experience #theicecreamsocial

I love ice cream but since I started eating healthier I haven’t had any. I was excited to treat myself as I headed out the door to go to The Walmart Ice Cream Social over the weekend. It was storming of course, but I will brave the rain for some ice cream any day!

Once at Walmart I had a hard time finding The Ice Cream Social. There were no signs posted on the doors or inside the store saying there was an event. When I first walked in I noticed a table with food and a Reddi Wip cooler but the employees behind the table told me that they were doing something different. Upon talking to a manager she told me that their store was not participating in the event. When I told her that the website said they were she told me to wait where I was and she would come back. 15 minutes later she still had not returned. I headed to the ice cream section because I thought if there was an event it would be back by the freezers but there was nobody there. It was already half an hour after the event was supposed to have started and nobody knew about the event so I was about ready to head home when I spotted a woman in a “Bright Ideas” apron. I asked her if she was there for The Walmart Ice Cream Social and she said yes. I was so relieved!

(Moral of the story: Call ahead and confirm that your local store is participating and what the hours of the event are!)

The Walmart Ice Cream Social was not busy at all. I was able to chat with the demonstrator. She said the ice cream she was serving had half the fat of other ice creams so that definitely made me happy when I heard that. I thought the Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Cream was really rich tasting and I couldn’t tell by the taste and texture of it that it had less fat which is a good thing! Reddi Wip is what I normally use on my iced coffees and desserts. Nesquick I have used before to make homemade chocolate milk but I have never tried it on ice cream before. I loved the flavor and thought it was comparable to Hershey’s syrup which is what I normally use on my ice cream.

I liked the products that I tasted but I would have liked to see a little more variety. When I hear “ice cream social” I think of people getting together and having a choice of ice cream flavors and toppings. I wouldn’t specifically make a trip to the store for The Walmart Ice Cream Social but in the future I would plan my shopping trip to coincide with the event so I could enjoy ice cream while I shopped.

Do you shop at Walmart for groceries or other items? Find a list of store events here.

The Walmart Ice Cream Social will be back in stores on July 2nd. I think I will just “happen” to have some grocery shopping to do that night! :)

(Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a campaign for Nestle. All views/opinions are my own.)

Storytime At The UPS Store #ToysForTotsLiteracy

Early literacy is very important to me and has been for years. I took classes about it in college and made it a focus of my classroom when I taught Pre-Kindergarten. When I had the chance to organize a storytime to benefit the Toys For Tots Literacy Program I was really excited to participate and happy that another blogger, Paula of Frosted Fingers, could join me in planning a great event. We made a Facebook event for the storytime and invited all of our local friends who had young children. We also made flyers with our children. Since both my boys are young (1 and 2) I had my oldest color a white sheet of paper and then I added all of the information to it. I went to The UPS Store to copy it. One of the employees made the copies for me. I love the service at this store and even told the manager I’d be coming back next time I needed anything.

I used to think of The UPS Store as a place to ship packages and nothing more. I learned back at Christmas time that they had other services when I went in to ship a package to my sister. I used The UPS Store to make a bound book of art as a keepsake, too. This trip I noticed they made banners. I loved the one with a giraffe that was made into a growth chart. What a great idea! There was also a sign saying that the store could turn your picture into a canvas print. After that I was wondering if there was anything The UPS Store couldn’t do?

On Friday we had the storytime at The UPS Store. Melisa Wells, local author of the newly released book, Chicken In The Car and The Car Won’t Go, was our “celebrity” reader.  We found a little corner that was perfect for keeping attention spans. The cookies and juice helped, too! Melisa kept the children engaged through a number of short stories and the children really enjoyed listening to her read. After the storytime we collected money for the Toys For Tots Literacy Program. The children all dropped their money into a jar and then we put it all in the donation box on the counter. You can see those bills really filled it up!

Me, Melisa, and Paula

(Disclosure: This  project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias #ToysForTotsLiteracy. All opinions are my own.)

The Walmart Ice Cream Social- Free Ice Cream Today! #theicecreamsocial

Does your family love ice cream as much as mine does?

If so, you will want to take them to Walmart today for FREE ice cream!

Stop by the Bright Ideas Station at your local participating Walmart for a cool treat.  Get low prices everyday on everything, plus a free sample of Edy’s ice cream topped with Reddi-wip and Nesquik while supplies last. (Brands may vary by store)

To find out if your local Walmart is participating you can go to this link:

Find participating Walmarts

Jacob enjoying ice cream on a hot day

(Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a campaign for Nestle. All opinions are my own.)

Chicago Area Families- Event Today! (And Recap of #gmchiCARgo Event)

Today at 4pm in Naperville, IL we will be hosting a storytime to raise funds for the Toys For Tots Literacy program. Melisa Wells, author of Chicken In The Car And The Car Won’t Go: Nearly 200 Ways To Enjoy Chicagoland With Tweens And Teens, will be our celebrity reader. If you have young children and a heart for the cause you can find more information on the Facebook event page. Feel free to invite your friends, too!


(Picture from

I had a chance to meet Melisa Wells at her book launch on Tuesday night during her #gmchiCARgo River “Cruze”. I had a great time meeting other Chicago area bloggers, tweeters, and brand representatives at the event while enjoying a boat ride. I loved that as a group we filled a Chevy Cruze with items for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwestern Indiana. You can read Melisa’s thoughts on the success of the event here.

My thoughts on the book:

I am the mom of two toddlers so I didn’t think that I would find much useful information in a book written for families of teens and tweens but I was happy to find that most of the information in the book worked for families with children of all ages. I love that the book includes information about places that are located in the suburbs. So many Chicago “travel” books forget that not everyone who calls themselves a Chicagoan lives within the city limits. Along with places to go for family fun, Melisa shares her tips for creating a personalized family summer camp which is a great alternative to costly, traditional summer camps.

(Disclosure: I was invited to the book launch by Melisa but all opinions are my own.)

Top Ten Tuesday- Elmer’s Trip

My trip to Florida a couple weeks ago with Collective Bias and Elmer’s has been one of my favorite opportunities I’ve had in my blogging career to date. I wanted to share my favorite things about this trip in Top Ten Tuesday fashion.

1. WARM WEATHER! Currently here in Chicago we are bracing for a blizzard so I’m really missing that t-shirt weather and sun in Florida!

Photo taken by: Monica Johnson

2. MEETING OTHER BLOGGERS. I loved meeting Keonte’ from Mommy 2K, Kim from Crafty Mama of 4, Naomi from Superdumb Supervillain, and Mel from Mama Bzz. It was also great to see Tonya from Create-Celebrate-Explore again (we met at BlogHer this past summer). I was honored that I got to join this group of wonderful, crafty women on this trip!

3. MEETING REPRESENTATIVES OF ELMER’S (including the CEO!). Not only meeting them but talking with them. I found the people from Elmer’s really cared about us as people. They started our two day conversation by asking “why do you do what you do?”. Most companies start the conversation out with “learn about our company and our products” so it meant a lot to me that Elmer’s wanted to know about me.

4. MEETING PEOPLE FROM COLLECTIVE BIAS. Have you heard of Collective Bias? It is the most awesome community that I have been privileged to be a part of as a blogger (and now I’m on the advisory committee *yay!*). The people I had the chance to meet including John, Monica, and Courtney were wonderful. It was great to put people to the little avatars I see online.

5. SHARING ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA. Most people in my life don’t *get* Social Media (other than Facebook of course) so it was fantastic to be with others who don’t look at me funny when I call someone a “friend” who I have never had the chance to meet in real life. I also loved talking to people from Elmer’s about Twitter and Whrrl , why I loved using those sites, and the benefit to companies and me as a blogger that each platform offers.

6. CRAFTING. We had an “iron chef” type crafting contest. It was fun seeing what each team could make using a common household item… a toilet scrubber!

7. BEAUTIFUL HOTEL. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six. Beautiful hotel. Here’s the view from my window:

8. TALKING ABOUT ELMER’S PRODUCTS. I loved learning about the assortment of products that Elmer’s has. I enjoyed trying out a not-yet released product and giving my input on it. I also loved spending time brainstorming about products we’d like to see created (who knows… one day our ideas may be on the shelves of your local Walmart, Target, or Michaels!)

9. DELICIOUS FOOD. We went to some wonderful restaurants at night time.  One night we even took a water taxi to the restaurant. My favorite meal of all was the Lobster Pie at Mango’s. I don’t cook but one day I’m going to figure out how to recreate that because I have dreams about that dinner!

10. IT WAS FREE! I don’t know how I managed to end up traveling to Florida on an all expenses paid trip but I am so thankful I was invited on this trip by Elmer’s and Collective Bias! (That was my disclosure!)

I had a wonderful trip and look forward to seeing everyone from Collective Bias and Elmer’s again!

Christmas Shopping at Family Dollar

Recently I was invited to a Family Dollar Holiday event. We entered a hotel suite with lots of beautiful decorations.



We were then told that all the decorations there had been bought at Family Dollar.


After listening to people from the corporate office speak we all went to a local Family Dollar and did some shopping. I could not believe all of the great Christmas toys that Family Dollar had at such great prices. Here are some of the toys they carry:



I had never considered doing my Holiday shopping at a “dollar” store. I always just assumed the only things I would find would be cheap little nick-nacks for a dollar. I was pleasantly surprised to see good quality, brand name items, and toys my children would actually want to play with.

Want to check out Family Dollar for yourself? Make sure to grab this coupon for 10% off your toy purchase of $100 or more!


Here’s a video from the event.

For more event coverage check out these links:

Toni @ The Shopping Adventures of Cheapo McFrugalPants

Kim @ Hormone-Colored Days

Paula @ Frosted Fingers


(Disclosure: I was invited to this event and received car pickup, appetizers, and a small shopping spree for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)