Dot and Ziggy – Chicago Children’s Theater

 

  On Sunday, I took my son to the theater.  Yes, that, son.  My 7-month-old Baby B.  To an actual theater.  Being a Chicago gal (only recently turned suburbanite), I love all the culture and activities Chicago has to offer – and I miss it.  That’s why I jumped at the chance to see a Chicago Children’s Theater performance of Dot and Ziggy at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by the lovely Kim Moldofsky of Mom Impact.

What is it?

Dot and Ziggy is an interactive performance for small children, specifically from six months old to four years old.  The show features Dot, a beautiful ladybug (played by Roni Geva), and Ziggy, a friendly skunk (played by Don Darryl Rivera), who learn to accept each other’s differences while still remaining friends.  Along the way, they are led by the wise spider who helps them navigate their friendship.

 Our Experience

We’ve never been to the Victory Gardens Theater and didn’t quite know what to expect.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see small tables with coloring pages and crayons to occupy the kids before the show started.  No cranky kids – perfect!  Additionally, there was a stroller area with seating for those of us with small children to sit before the show.

A few minutes before show time, we heard a soothing melody being played and Dot and Ziggy both led us upstairs to the performance area.  We entered a large room, outfitted with the Dot and Ziggy set and large, colorful, triangular carpets on the floor to serve as the seating area.  Pick any seat – both Dot and Ziggy use the entire space for the performance – the front, back, sides, and center of the room are all part of the show.

Dot and Ziggy did a fantastic job of holding the attention of the audience (um, the kids) and my son was mesmerized by Dot’s bright red costume and Ziggy’s skunk’s eyes (he is infatuated with large eyeballs).  Although a little more than midway through the performance, Baby B decided to have a full-fledged meltdown.  (My apologies to anyone within earshot!).  We then decided that he’d had enough and promptly exited the space.

Nevertheless, I was thoroughly impressed with Dot and Ziggy and highly encourage all parents with young children to attend.  Dot and Ziggy runs now through June 26, 2011 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.  Performance times are 10 a.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. and Noon, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets to Dot & Ziggy are $16 weekdays and $18 weekends.   Tickets can be purchased online at chicagochildrenstheatre.org or by calling (773) 871-3000.

DISCLOSURE: I received complementary tickets to the show, although all thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own. 

  On Sunday, I took my son to the theater.  Yes, that, son.  My 7-month-old Baby B.  To an actual theater.  Being a Chicago gal (only recently turned suburbanite), I love all the culture and activities Chicago has to offer – and I miss it.  That’s why I jumped at the chance to see a Chicago Children’s Theater performance of Dot and Ziggy at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by the lovely Kim Moldofsky of Mom Impact.

What is it?

Dot and Ziggy is an interactive performance for small children, specifically from six months old to four years old.  The show features Dot, a beautiful ladybug (played by Roni Geva), and Ziggy, a friendly skunk (played by Don Darryl Rivera), who learn to accept each other’s differences while still remaining friends.  Along the way, they are led by the wise spider who helps them navigate their friendship.

Our Experience

We’ve never been to the Victory Gardens Theater and didn’t quite know what to expect.  I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see small tables with coloring pages and crayons to occupy the kids before the show started.  No cranky kids – perfect!  Additionally, there was a stroller area with seating for those of us with small children to sit before the show.

A few minutes before show time, we heard a soothing melody being played and Dot and Ziggy both led us upstairs to the performance area.  We entered a large room, outfitted with the Dot and Ziggy set and large, colorful, triangular carpets on the floor to serve as the seating area.  Pick any seat – both Dot and Ziggy use the entire space for the performance – the front, back, sides, and center of the room are all part of the show.

Dot and Ziggy did a fantastic job of holding the attention of the audience (um, the kids) and my son was mesmerized by Dot’s bright red costume and Ziggy’s skunk’s eyes (he is infatuated with large eyeballs).  Although a little more than midway through the performance, Baby B decided to have a full-fledged meltdown.  (My apologies to anyone within earshot!).  We then decided that he’d had enough and promptly exited the space.

Nevertheless, I was thoroughly impressed with Dot and Ziggy and highly encourage all parents with young children to attend.  Dot and Ziggy runs now through June 26, 2011 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater located at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.  Performance times are 10 a.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. and Noon, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Tickets to Dot & Ziggy are $16 weekdays and $18 weekends.   Tickets can be purchased online at chicagochildrenstheatre.org or by calling (773) 871-3000.

DISCLOSURE: I received complementary tickets to the show, although all thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own. 

Does Your Pasta have a Personality?

Mine does! And, apparently, it’s Penne Franco…a pasta dish at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
You can take the pasta personality quiz too…head on over to Carrabba’s Facebook page and see what your Pasta Personality says about you.
Here’s the Penne Franco personality result:
You’re truly one of a kind, like Carrabba’s Penne Franco. You like to keep things fresh and exciting. So next time you want to try something new, choose our unique Penne Franco: penne with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and ricotta salata.
Hmm…sounds about right. And penne with mushrooms sounds like it’s right up my alley. I would love that dish! Although, most of the pasta I cook at home is made with red pasta sauce. For me it’s the easiest way to enjoy a nice pasta meal. I just doctor up any existing pasta sauce to my specifications and eat! Super easy. I’m like Chicago’s version of that Semi-Homemade show on Food Network.
Here’s what I do:
In a pan I brown my ground beef (or turkey) with sofrito (a Latin seasoning), minced garlic, Adobo (another Spanish seasoning), oregano, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. (This is BY FAR the best tasting meat for pasta sauce flavoring. I’m not a big meatballs kind of girl, so I just add the ground beef to my sauce.) Once that’s browned, I add a jar of pasta sauce (any pasta sauce will do – Ragu, Classico, store brand – basically, whichever one was on sale that week), a can of diced tomatoes, and extra tomato sauce if needed. And that’s it folks! Add this to any type of cooked pasta and dinner is served!
Wow…I kinda pimped that recipe out kinda fast. It took my best friend MONTHS before she shared that recipe with me. She said it was because she was always able to lure me over to her house just by saying “I made pasta!” and if she gave me the recipe I’d never come over for dinner anymore. LOL Well, that turned out not to be true because I still manage to drive over when she asks. It’s about hanging out with HER, ya know, and not some pasta dish!
But, I will admit, I make that recipe for my family often and I only have her to thank. Getting the recipe was like pulling teeth from her, but I'm so glad she finally gave in.  My family LOVES when I make pasta and, considering it only takes me about 30 minutes to make – so do I!  Because after a long day of work, NOTHING beats a 30 minute meal.
Mouth watering yet?  Make sure you take the Carrabba’s Pasta Personality Quiz for yourself, and check out some other deals they’re offering:
 Carrabba’s Signature Pasta Meals and New Limited Time Offers
Signature Pasta Meals, featuring seven distinctive dishes served with choice of soup or fresh salad starting at $10. There’s no better place than Carrabba’s to enjoy a complete Italian meal – any day of the week.

 

 CARRABBA’S PASTA: Carrabba’s makes every pasta dish by hand with the freshest ingredients.  Pasta is cooked perfectly every time and signature sauces are made from scratch daily. Creative flavors and combinations of ingredients are part of Carrabba’s authentic family recipes as well as new creations.

LIMITED TIME OFFERS: Now through July 2011.
Featured Signature Pasta Meal:
Pasto Rambo – Named for the chef who created it, it’s made with shrimp tossed with imported Italian linguine, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes sautéed in our basil lemon butter sauce. Lobster is available instead of shrimp for an additional cost.

Other Limited Time Offers:
Parmesan-crusted Chicken – Topped with fresh arugula and grape tomatoes tossed in a hand-prepared lemon vinaigrette, served with choice of side. Substitution of wood-grilled chicken also available. Pairs well with Estancia Pinot Grigio.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin – Three pork tenderloin medallions wrapped with prosciutto, wood-grilled and topped with an apple and fig infused port wine sauce, served with the vegetable of the day. Pairs well with Coppola Pinot Noir.

Limoncello Bread Pudding – Back by popular demand! Brioche bread pudding made with fresh Madagascar vanilla beans and a rich custard, served hot out of the oven. Topped with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream and drizzled with Carrabba’s homemade Caravella Limoncello liqueur sauce.

Now Introducing:
Peach SangriaCarrabba’s new light and fruity Peach Sangria blends Copper Ridge White Zinfandel, Absolut Apeach vodka and Patrón Citrónge with a splash of citrus. Topped with a fresh lemon wedge and strawberry, it’s a taste of the Amalfi Coast in spring.

Locations: Visit www.carrabbas.com for the closest Carrabba’s location. There are more than 230 locations nationwide.

About Carrabba’s:
Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola founded the first Carrabba’s Italian Grill in 1986 in Houston, Texas. Today, there are 232 Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations around the country, run by passionate local proprietors focused on delighting guests with fresh, made-to-order Italian cuisine and the ultimate dining experience. Carrabba’s serves dinner seven nights a week in a casual environment that pairs innovative dishes and a complementary wine list with abundant hospitality. For on-the-go guests, Carrabba’s also offers convenient Carside Carry-Out. To learn more about Carrabba’s, please visit www.carrabbas.com.

DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Carrabba’s blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Time to Hit the Road

Can you believe it’s already mid-May?  I know…me either!  I was supposed to plan a road trip for my family MONTHS ago (supposed to be taken in May…whoops, guess I snoozed on that one!) and still haven’t gotten around to it.  I mean, I know where we want to go, where we want to stay, and even what we want to do…so why have I procrastinated so long?

Truth be told, my family and I decided on this trip in DECEMBER!  Yes, you read that right…December.  As in Christmastime.  We talked about it, agreed on the destination, and the baton was handed off to me.

Um…yeah.  About that…

Still no definite vacation plans.  No reservations.  No tickets.  Nada.

So what the heck is taking me so long?

Who knows?  But, in my defense, I have a 7 month old so I guess you can say I’ve been a bit preoccupied.

Anyhow – the destination spot we picked was Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.  My daughter and I have been wanting to go there for years!  I mean, I’m the biggest shoptastic impulse buyer there is!  Even I’m surprised that I’ve never been there.

Sometime this year we WILL make it there!   Over 7 hours in a car with a baby…no sweat!  We got this!!!  And, you know what would be awesome to snack on in the car?  Why, Twizzlers, of course!  I LOVE Twizzlers!  (Hate black licorice though, but can’t get enough of the red!)  (Make sure you click on www.Twizzlers.com for some more cool stuff.)  Check out these photos too…wouldn’t you love to see this on the road?

        

So, help a sista out, click your heels three times or something and repeat after me:

“I will make it to MN.  I will make it to MN.  I WILL MAKE IT TO MN!!!”

Thanks, folks!

DISCLOSURE: This post was written to enter a contest for a Twizzlers Landmark Summer promotion prize pack as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.

Take the Cascade 24 Hour Challenge + GIVEAWAY

Recently I was given the chance to take the Cascade 24 Hour Challenge courtesy of my friends at My Blog Spark and P&G.  The rules of the challenge were simple:

1)      Bake a blueberry cobbler.  Enjoy!  (Recipe below: I followed it verbatim.)

2)      Set the empty baking dish out for 24 hours.

3)      Without rinsing, put it in the dishwasher with a Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPac.

4)      Blog about your experience.

Here’s the simple and delicious recipe (recipe provided by Cascade): 

FILLING:

1.)    1 pint (2 cups) of fresh blueberries 

2.)    1 can of blueberry pie filling

CRUST:

1.)    1 stick of butter

2.)    2/3 cup of all-purpose flour

3.)    2/3 cup of sugar

4.)    2 packets of instant oatmeal (I used the Maple Brown Sugar flavor)

5.)    ½ teaspoon of cinnamon

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Mix blueberries and pie filling in the bottom of a baking dish.  Melt butter.  Add all dry ingredients to butter and stir with a fork until mixed.  (This should be crumbly.)  Sprinkle crust over filling and bake for 30 minutes.  The filling should be bubbly, and the crust should be slightly brown and crunchy.

And that’s it!  Look at how yummy this looks!  (Yes, I realize I should’ve added more crust to the edge of the baking dish – but still, so good!)  Best part of the day, I got to spend some time with my daughter as she halped me make it…so fun!

 

 

 

 

 

I am happy to report that after all that 24 hour dried on food, Cascade Complete® All-in-1 ActionPacs™ rocked!  This dish, as well as all my other dirty dishes, came out spotless.  YEAH CASCADE!!!

Here are some of the benefits of using Cascade Complete:  Cascade Complete® All-in-1 ActionPacs™ give you the confidence of a job done right. They break down, dissolve, and rinse away tough food particles without the need to prewash.

• No prewashing

• More tough food cleaning ingredients*

• Rinse-aid action

• Powers away 24-hour stuck-on food

*vs. regular Cascade ActionPacs

New Trial Size Cascade Complete ActionPacs:  Try ActionPacs for less than $1.00 when you buy the new trial size at participating Walmart stores.

You can learn more about Cascade products at Cascadeclean.com.

Ok, so now for the giveaway.

WIN IT:  One lucky Thoughts from Her reader will receive a $15 Walmart Gift Card to purchase your own Cascade Complete® All-in-1 ActionPacs™ (or whatever else you need at Walmart).  Five additional winners will each receive a trial size Cascade Complete® All-in-1 ActionPacs™.

MANDATORY ENTRY:  You must be a GFC follower of Thoughts from Her to be eligible for this prize.

Note: Please leave a comment for this and all other entries.

EXTRA ENTRIES: 

Like Thoughts from Her on Facebook (1 entry)

Follow Thoughts from Heron Twitter @thoughtsfromher (1 entry)

Tweet this giveaway (3 entries)

Note: Please leave a comment for each extra entry. If you are already doing any of the above, simply leave a comment for each to let me know.

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents ONLY.

DEADLINE:  All comments must be received by midnight on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. Thoughts from Her will use Random.org to choose the winner.  Any comments received after the deadline will not be considered for the giveaway.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER:  This product review was based on using complimentary Cascade product provided by P&G. I also received a Walmart® gift card to share with my readers. P&G does not represent or warrant the accuracy of any statements or product claims made here, nor does it endorse any opinions expressed within this blog site.  All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Surprise Day Off Today…WOOT!

After a pretty eventful morning, I have the day off today!

It didn't start out so great, since I had to take MissY to the doctor this morning (almost turned into an ER trip, but thankfully that was avoided).  No need to worry, folks, she's A-OK.

But now, I've got the rest of the day to myself.  Baby B is fast asleep so I've got a little time to…

Hmm…what should I do?  Should I do a few loads of laundry?  Sweep the kitchen floor?  Vacuum the upstairs?  Umm…no.  I'm going to take the little time I do have to catch up on my blog reading, relax, and maybe even spend the afternoon with an hour of Oprah.  Dishes, laundry, and all the other "necessary" tasks can wait.

Uh-oh, my internal To-Do List is going NUTS right now.  Give me a second while I quickly SHUT HER OFF!  Besides, how can I think of all those dreaded chores when I have this waiting for me in about an hour.  {LOVE}

 

Have a great day, peeps!

Don’t Fret the Sweat!

I am so glad I heard about this campaign today!  Talk about timely…my daughter is twelve and I am so thankful for the facts I learned on the Don't Fret the Sweat website by Degree.  My daughter has been playing outside alot (the weather is finally getting nice around here) and hanging out at the park.  Sometimes when she gets home – not only does she play around at the park, but she BIKES there and back – she reeks!  Then making sure she bathes is a whole other bedtime power struggle…but how do I tell her…nicely…that she really needs to take better care of herself?

The folks over at the Don't Fret the Sweat campaign have all the answers.  No, really, they do.  They answer TONS of FAQs and their Expert Advice is exactly what I needed to read to help me navigate the complexities of raising a tween.  I especially love Rosalind Wiseman's helpful articles on the site.  She wrote an article on Sweat-Inducing Parenting Moments: How to Navigate Yout Child's Tricky Tween Years Unscathed where she offers helpful tips for us parents on how to keep our cool when dealing with our moody and sometimes rebellious tweens.

You can also check out their Facebook page – DON'T FORGET TO "LIKE"!  www.facebook.com/DontFretTheSweat  Not only can you get the same helpful advice here, but it's nice to read the wall and see other people's posts on raising their tweens.

Check out these videos:

Don\'t Fret the Sweat

DISCLOSURE: This post was made possible by the One2One Network.  Writing this post makes me eligible to win some cool prizes.

It’s a PB&J Party! + GIVEAWAY

Just writing that title made me think of Family Guy and that "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" song.  Hilarious!

Anyway…

This past weekend, I hosted a PB&J party for a few friends compliments of Hero Fruit Spreadables.  What is Hero Fruit Spreadables, you ask?  Hero Fruit Spreadables is a smooth jelly that contain all natural ingredients, no High Fructose Corn Syrup and are available in four fruit blends: Strawberry Red Currant, Mixed Berry, Strawberry Banana, and Cherry Banana.  (The Cherry Banana was my favorite, by the way!)  The kids LOVED the jelly – it was all they talked about!

How could a kid not like that?!?!  Bottles with their favorite cartoon caracters on them?  SCORE!  They picked their flavors based on which character they liked best.  Whatever makes them eat it, right?

I even let the kids decorate for the party – they LOVED that!

We really had a great time and the kids loved making sandwich cutouts and comparing sandwiches to see whose came out "best".  Which one do you think?

Some of us were ready for a photo opp… (UGH…just noticed that the date stamp is WRONG on my camera.  I assure you, these pics WERE NOT taken in 2008!)

Hero Fruit Spreadables are available exclusively at SuperTarget stores nationwide, with SuperTarget sampling events slated for Sunday, May 15.  Be sure to head out to SuperTarget (you know you had to stop at Target anyway!) to try Hero Fruit Spreadables for yourself!

But hey, I'll do one better…want to WIN the very same gift basket I received?  The gift pack includes one of sample of each of the four Fruit Spreadables fruit blends, peanut butter, sandwich cutters in fun shapes and sizes, balloons, streamers, recipes, two reusable lunch bags, and a $5 Target gift card so you can buy fresh bread and tortillas.  Come on…you know you want it!  Here's how you do it…

WIN IT:  One lucky Thoughts from Her reader will receive the Hero Fruit Spreadables gift pack described above.

MANDATORY ENTRY:  You must be a GFC follower of Thoughts from Her to be eligible for this prize.

Note: Please leave a comment for this and all other entries.

EXTRA ENTRIES: 

Like Thoughts from Her on Facebook (1 entry)

Follow Thoughts from Her on Twitter @thoughtsfromher (1 entry)

Tweet this giveaway (3 entries)

Note: Please leave a comment for each extra entry. If you are already doing any of the above, simply leave a comment for each to let me know.

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents ONLY.

DEADLINE:  All comments must be received by midnight on Saturday, May 14, 2011. Thoughts from Her will use the And the Winner Is plugin to choose the winner.  Any comments received after the deadline will not be considered for the giveaway.

DISCLOSURE: I received a Hero Fruit Spreadables gift pack for this review.  This review was made possible by Mom Spark Media.  No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

UPDATE: And the winner is…

 

 

 

 

 

Congrats Tami!  I'll be sending you an email.  The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn.

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