Celebrate the Holidays at Six Flags Over Georgia #HolidayinthePark

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For the first time ever you can celebrate the Holidays at Six Flags Over Georgia at their new annual event “Holiday in the Park”.

If it wasn’t for the crisp weather, I wouldn’t believe that the holiday season is almost here. Each year, I try to find fun family events that both my husband and son will enjoy.

When you step inside through the front gates you will witness the magnificent beauty that is “Holiday in the Park”!

“Holiday in the Park” will consist of more than one million LED lights and dozens of Christmas trees that will create the perfect magical atmosphere this holiday season.

Take a walk through the Peppermint Plaza by the “Georgia Scorcher” ride, and soak in the aroma of minty delight.

I think this event will make everyone happy (I don’t ride rides but my family does, and I always enjoy spending time with my family and watching them have fun during the holidays).

Thrill seekers especially will have a reason for extra holiday cheer at Six Flags Over Georgia, ”Georgia Scorcher” is not the only ride that will be open.

The park’s most popular rides like Goliath and other family rides are going to be open, and for “Holiday in the Park”, the the historic 1910 Riverview Carousel and the surrounding area will be covered in nearly 94,000 lights, 1,350 feet of garland, 1,200 ornaments and more than 200 luminary candles.  This is one carousel you and your loved ones will not want to miss as it brings true Christmas cheer to all.

So come out this season and experience the joy of the sparkling lights, festive shows, tasty culinary treats and of course, the Big Man of the North Pole,  Santa Claus!

“Holiday in the Park” runs from November 22 through January 4, 2014.

Disclosure: My family and I, are attending a complimentary media preview of this event this holiday season

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[Giveaway] Cirque du Soleil “Amaluna” Atlanta

Amaluna_Island imageIt’s a whimsical colorful show that celebrates womanhood, and dazzled the crowd with a storyline that celebrates the coming of age, love, and rebirth, of familial relationships.

Amaluna which is the fusion of two words, “ama” mother, and “luna” which means moon and is a symbol of femininity, and this performance is unlike any Circue du Soleil show because it is all women. Well, not all women, but we made up 70% of the cast and it was empowering to witness the acts.

20141002_amaluna-0690This is a show that speaks not in words but in the actions of the performers who graced the stage, and one performer in particular had me in a trance. She is the “Balance Goddess” (Lara Jacobs Rigolo) who brings balance to world of Amaluna.

She is the “Balance Goddess” for good reason. During her main act she starts with by holding a feather, then balances 13 palm leafs on it. You have to see it to get a full appreciation for her skills.

Rigolo is an amazing performer who was trained at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. Rigolo’s father is the originator of the balancing act, and has trained others including his daughter in this art.

This is certainly a show for families and especially women who will appreciate the feminine side of Cirque du Soleil. I hope you can attend, and I have a family 4 pack of tickets to giveaway (tickets are for Tuesday, October 28th’s performance) if you want to experience this breathtaking show for yourself…
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Even if you don’t win tickets you still can experience Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil, under the iconic blue and yellow big top at Atlantic Station.  The show is playing now until November 30, 2014. Save 20% on a Family 4 Pack and take an adventure to an island governed by goddesses.  CLICK HERE and buy your tickets today.

Disclosure:  I received complimentary tickets in order to facilitate this show review.  All words and opinions expressed are my own

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Enter to win $100 Ikea Gift Card – Help Devereux GA Help Youth Who Need it Most

 

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When it comes to serving youth who suffer from emotional and behavioral issues, Devereux Georgia is leading the way to help troubled young people get their lives on track.

Some of these young people suffer from mental illness, sexual exploitation, neglect, abuse and have developmental disabilities.  Devereux Georgia helps these youth overcome their challenges be giving them hope, dreams, and new choices.

Devereux Georgia was founded in 1912 and is the nation’s leading nonprofit behavioral health organizations with 13 centers in 11 states.

How can you support the cause? On Thursday Oct. 2, 2014 Devereux Georgia is hosting its Annual Hope Event.

Guests will enjoy dinner, cocktails, and music along with a silent auction showcasing works of art created by Devereux youth. The featured guest speaker is Lynn Garson, Esq., mental health advocate and author of the novel “Southern Vapors.”   Ms. Garson will also be joining nationally renowned child psychiatrist, Dr. Yolanda Graham, in a panel discussion on mental health issues and treatment.

YOU ALSO HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN A $100 IKEA GIFT CARD, ENTER BELOW
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For more information please visit www.devereux.org/hopeevent or call 770-427-0147.

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Oshkosh #BgoshJeanius Back to School Campaign

Growing up back to school was always a special time for me.  My mother would take my sisters and I shopping for school supplies, book bags and let’s not forget a new lunch boxes.  Then, we would visit my granny in the city and go on a shopping spree for new school clothes.  Those were really special times for me. That’s why when I hear of kids that don’t have what they need for the new school year, I feel compelled to help.

I usually donate by filling a couple book bags with all the supplies the children need for the school year however this year I want to do more.

I attended an event at a local Oshkosh store and found out about a campaign that Oshkosh recently launched that will give me another way to help kids in need this upcoming school year.

Oshkosh believes that all kids should have everything they need for back to school from blue jeans to books.  That’s why they decided to celebrate back to school with the launch of their national “B’gosh Jeanius Campaign”.

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#Bgoshjeanius

OshKosh B’gosh, in partnership with K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., and DonorsChoose.org will give customers the opportunity to donate a new pair of jeans or make a cash donation to a student in need this school year. All denim donated from July 29 through September 17, 2014, will be delivered to local children in need through K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers, Inc., while cash donations will be dispersed to local schools through DonorsChoose.org

Oshkosh is making it so easy for everyone to give back with incredible door buster deals on jeans with most jeans costing only $10 or $12.  B’gosh Jeanius denim donation bins are conveniently  located in all stores throughout the United States. Monetary donations can also be made either in-store or online.

If you live in Atlanta, visit the one and only Oshkosh B’gosh location, that’s inside the perimeter. Located in Buckhead’s Peachtree Battle Shopping Center at 2345-B Peachtree Road NW Atlanta, GA 30305.

Everyone else you can find your local store here

For more information about the B’gosh Jeanius Campaign, visit: www.oshkosh.com/bgoshjeanius

 

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Simple Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa

Although I am no longer a kid who’s out of school for the Summer, it is still my favorite season.  This is the time of the year that I entertain friends at my home the most. I usually prepare everything and my husband fires up the grill for a tasty meal.

I typically like my friends to arrive just as we are beginning to put the meat on the grill, so while the guys are outside enjoying a beer and watching the grill, we ladies can catch up on everything from the kids to pop culture.

The other day I decided to have a couple of friends over for dinner, and since I knew my hubby wouldn’t fire up the grill until people arrived, I decided to whip up a quick little appetizer.  I thought to myself that a dip would be great, who doesn’t love to dip. So, I created something new using Johnsonville Smoked Brats that I call my “Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa”.

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I like trying different things and thought that Johnsonville Sausage would give it that extra something I was looking for.  When I picked up the package of Johnsonville Smoked Brats I was happy to read that there were no added fillers and that they only use premium cuts of pork to pack in the flavor.

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 RECIPE

Ingredients:

2 Johnsonville Smoked Brats links, 1 medium mango, 10 strawberries, Cilantro                    2 tablespoons each of Peach Preserves, Orange juice, Lemon juice, and Sweet Chili Sauce

Directions:

  1. Finely chop cilantro, then dice mango, strawberries, and Johnsonville Smoked Brats.
  2. Stir together the peach preserves, orange juice, lemon juice, and sweet chili sauce in a large bowl. Gently fold in the cilantro, mango, strawberries, Johnsonville Smoked Brats until blended. Allow the mixture to rest at least 20 minutes before serving.

This was such a simple recipe, I served it  chilled as a dip(like Salsa) with Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips.  It also makes a great topping for grilled meats such as Pork Chop or Seafood. We tried it as a topping for our Grilled Salmon and it was amazing.  Everyone loved it.

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I recommend this recipe to anyone looking to make a quick tasty appetizer. This Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa is extremely easy to make and full of flavor.

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post I was compensated by Johnsonville in exchange for me creating and sharing my recipe. All content and opinions are my own.

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I am Thankful for… #thankfulthursdays

So often people don’t slow down to appreciate their blessings, so I decided to start a weekly post where all my readers can share what they are thankful for.  Take a minute to sit down and reflect and appreciate your life.  Then share one thing you are thankful for.

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This week I want to share with everyone that I am thankful for my loving and supportive husband.

I hear so many stories from friends or freinds of friends about how they are looking for love or seeking more support from their significant other and it makes me realize that sometimes I may take things for granted.  From today on, I plan to make it a point that on a daily basis I communicate to my spouse something that I love and appreciate about him.   

What are you thankful for?

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Interview with Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living, NRA #KidsLiveWell

The National Restaurant Association recently held their annual convention  in Chicago where they got to highlight their Kids LiveWell program and #KidsLiveWell recipe challenge. This challenge let several food vendors and restaurants create healthy and delicious kids recipes to see who would be able to come up with the most popular delicious and nutritious recipe.  The purpose of this event was to promote the Kids LiveWell program and to recognize the people in the food industry that are already doing it right and making difference.There are already nearly 42,000 participating restaurant locations nationwide and the National Restaurant Association is looking for more.

Since the convention I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Joy Dubost, who discussed with me more about this program and why it is important. She also gave me tips how we can   help our children eat healthier.

Interview with Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living, National Restaurant Association

 Joy Dubost

 

Why should the restaurant industry take a hard look at providing healthier options for children and families?

Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in what is on their plates, where it comes from and how it’s prepared. In particular, health and nutrition continue to be top of mind. According to National Restaurant Association research, more than seven out of 10 consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers healthful options. The restaurant industry is committed to providing these options to their patrons. In fact, more than eight of 10 adults agree that restaurants offer more healthful choices now compared to two years ago.

One way restaurants are showing their passion and commitment to children’s nutrition is through the Kids LiveWell program. The National Restaurant Association launched this initiative in 2011 to help make the healthful choice the easy choice when dining out with children. The voluntary program has grown from 19 restaurant brands representing 15,000 locations to over 145 restaurant brands, representing 42,000 locations nationwide. The program has also expanded beyond restaurants to museums, theme parks and resorts.

Can you share some examples of restaurants that are doing it right?

Restaurants across the country are taking the steps to provide healthful menu options. To see specific examples, HealthyDiningFinder.com lists the restaurants that are part of the Kids LiveWell program. Restaurants in the Kids LiveWell program have committed to providing meals that meet specific nutritional criteria based off the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. The meals focus on increasing the consumption of low-fat dairy, fruit and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, while limiting unhealthful fats, sugars and sodium.

The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with McCormick for Chefs, created the Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge to shine a spotlight on the positive efforts of the restaurant and foodservice industry in kids’ nutrition. The Challenge takes an “industry tested, kid approved” approach with a panel of food and nutrition professionals selecting finalists and elementary school students choosing the winners.

Restaurants and foodservice companies that applied are examples of those using their culinary ingenuity in not only creating a healthful meal, but a meal that is creative and memorable for kids. This year’s winners are a prime example of this: Sysco Hampton Roads, O’Charley’s, UW Health and Bean Sprouts Café.

If you were going to grade the food industry in general for healthy options, what grade would it receive.

The industry is taking all the right steps in creating healthful options for consumers; however, it’s important to keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. It’s encouraging to see that children’s nutrition is a top priority for chefs and that they continue to put their creativity in healthful kids meals to work on restaurant menus. In fact, healthful kids’ meals have ranked as a top 10 menu trend on the Association’s What’s Hot Chef Survey – a survey of nearly 1,300 professional chefs – for the past five years, indicating that children’s nutrition is a true trend for the restaurant and foodservice industry, not a passing fad.

The restaurant industry is committed to health and nutrition in a myriad of ways – from looking for ways to reduce sodium in meals to providing options for consumers with celiac disease and food allergies to working to make nutrition information available on websites and menus.

Please share some examples how families and moms can provide healthier meals to our children.

We know that when parents dine out, they are increasingly looking for healthful options for their children. Many restaurants already have them and with the Kids LiveWell program, our goal is to make the healthful choice, the easy choice. We want to make locating a Kids LiveWell restaurant and identifying their qualifying meals as simple as possible.

I encourage parents and caretakers to look at HealthyDiningFinder.com. The site has a dedicated Kids LiveWell section that not only lists every participating restaurant, but also each member’s qualifying Kids LiveWell meals (which must include an entrée, side and beverage), as well as each meals’ nutritional information.

We also have a free Kids LiveWell app for both iPhone and Android that helps to find participating restaurants while on-the-go, and when dining out, keep your eyes out for the Kids LiveWell logo and apple on restaurant menus.

Making healthy meals is one thing, but getting our kids to eat them is another, how can we balance the two?

Keep in mind that kids typically outgrow many picky eating habits after the age of 6, as growth spurts are often accompanied by changes in appetite and food consumption. But while they are going through this stage, I have several tips that could help:

  • Make sure fruits are ripe, sweet and juicy to tempt kids’ taste buds.
  • For picky kids – introduce foods over and over – kids’ taste buds change over time.
  • Offer picky eaters sweeter veggies like carrots, acorn squash and sweet potatoes.
  • Give fruits and vegetables fun names to make them more appealing.

We even put together a video for my Ask the Nutritionist series featuring myself and Bill Wurtzel, the creator of Funny Food. The video has fun tips on making meals that are nutritious and fun for children to eat: http://youtu.be/r7aLj9Xuxxo.
How serious is the child obesity problem, and what are ways we can fight it?

In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. However Philadelphia, New York City, Mississippi and California are among the locations reporting declining childhood obesity rates as a result of taking comprehensive action to address the epidemic. A recent survey found that the obesity rate for children 2-5 years old has dropped 43 percent in a decade.

Through efforts and initiatives such as the Kids LiveWell program, the restaurant industry has been taking a proactive role in addressing childhood obesity. The Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge was also created to not only shine a spotlight on the current positive efforts of the industry, but also to encourage more restaurants to diversify their children’s items by offering healthful, innovative meals.

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UFC Gym Perimeter Kids’ Program #ad #ufcgymperimeter

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Devin recently participated in a kids’ fitness program at UFC Gym Perimeter.  UFC Gym Perimeter is new to the Atlanta area and has something for every member of the family.  My son is 5 years old and has recently begun to show a big interest in sports and fitness.  So, when I was invited to bring my son out to review a class at UFC Gym Perimeter, I was excited and knew my son would be too.

 

UFC Gym Perimeter just recently introduced their kids’ program to the gym and it is offered to kids ages 5-12.  It is a great way for kids to burn some energy after school, especially since PE classes aren’t what they used to be, if your kids school even offers it.  Kids can stay fit and healthy while having fun learning basic boxing techniques, kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

The  classes are all taught by a staff of attentive professional. Coach Floyd, who was one of the coaches Devin trained with was really great with the kids. He was patient and showed interested in each individual child.  During the class the kids did a cardio warm-up,  went through several drills, and learned a few combinations on the heavy bags. I was amazed at how quickly my son was able to remember the number combinations. This class is a great way to build discipline, improve coordination and build self-confidence. The class was safe and fun, so much so the kids didn’t want it to end.

Want to learn more about UFC Gym Perimeter visit them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Mums the Word Network and UFC Gym Perimeter.  All opinions expressed are my own

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Nutritious and Delicious Restaurant Options #KidsLiveWell

PrintThese days, it’s more important to me than ever to give my family healthy options when it’s mealtime.

The other night, I was pleasantly surprised when Devin went so far as to eat brussel sprouts with his dinner.  I couldn’t believe it!

Dining out poses its own hurdles when it comes to healthy options. However, some restaurants make it a priority, and now the National Restaurant Association (NRA)  has a campaign to get more restaurants on the healthy food for kids train.

The NRA is teaming up with Healthy Dining on the Kids LiveWell program.  This initiative is highlighting the restaurant industry’s commitment to offer healthy options for children.

Kids LiveWell is a first-of-its-kind voluntary industry program, reaching over 41,000 restaurant locations committed to providing families with a growing selection of healthful children’s menu choices when dining out.

The National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining verify that Kids LiveWell items meet specific nutritional criteria established by leading health organizations’ scientific
guidelines.

A Kids LiveWell meal provides the following:
• 600 calories or less
• ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
• ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
• < 0.5 grams trans fat (artificial trans fat only)
• ≤ 35% of calories from total sugar
• ≤ 770 mg of sodium
• Each meal must contain two sources of either fruit,

Restaurants are now being challenged to create healthy menu items through a partnership with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and McCormick For Chefs.

It’s called the Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge and the goal is to showcase healthy menu options available when dining out.

Restaurants and food service providers submitted their healthy creations from their kids menu for consideration for this exciting, new award.

2014 Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge Winners:

Bean Sprouts Café & Cooking School: The Do Re For Me Sandwich is organic multi grain oat bread spread with sunflower butter and organic strawberry jam and cut into piano key sized/shaped pieces,served with a skewer of grapes and water. The pumpernickel bread is  cut into smaller pieces and placed on top of the wheat bread to represent black piano keys.

O’Charley’s: The Cloudy with a Chance of Spaghetti and Meatball Pizza has grilled sirloin meatballs and spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and whole wheat pizza dough served with apple juice.

Sysco Hampton Roads: The Kids Quesa WOW Dilla is a chicken quesadilla with broccoli, chicken,peppers and corn, served with a side of grapes and water.

UW Health: The Swimming Taco is served with fresh grapes on the side and a frozen banana avocado smoothie.

These restaurants really did a  great job coming up with creative healthy meals kids would love. They put a twist on these meals using healthy ingredients in a fun way for kids, which is a great way to distract kids and  get them to eat things that are both nutritious and delicious.These restaurants provided great examples to let us know we can have both we don’t have to choose. I am learning that when it comes to healthy eating, if I season things just right and present them in a fun way, my kid will try just about anything.

13784029145_dd98ba5dc8_zFor more information on Kids LiveWell, follow Kids LiveWell on Twitter and Facebook.  Also, check out HealthyDiningFinder.com and download the free smartphone app for a list of all Kids LiveWell restaurants and menu items.

 

 

Follow me on May 17th,2014  I will be tweeting with #KidsLiveWell sharing information from the National Restaurant Association’s annual show in Chicago

Please share with me any healthy kids recipes you love and other tips/tricks to get your children to eat healthier foods.

Disclosure: I am being compensated to share this information, however all opinions and words expressed are my own. 

 

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Mamma Needs A New Pair of Shoes

I have a secret vice that I’m almost afraid to write about, but I’ve wanted to get this off of my chest for a while. I’m a risk taker, I love odds, and playing a game or two…  Okay, enough beating around the bush already. I’m a gamer, and Mamma needs a new pair of shoes.  I think I get it from my Granny (R.I.P) who was quite lucky and known to play the numbers in New York city where she lived for most of her life.

In Georgia, we only have the Georgia Lottery, which is okay, I usually buy the scratchers. But I really like more thrill than that, truth be told I love table games which is why I make an annual trek to Tampa’s Indian Casino for my birthday.

The thing is that I have really good luck, and I recently discovered online gaming. Hmmm… I’ve always wanted to try my luck online. The only thing is that online gaming is illegal in most states including Georgia. Now I’m not encouraging you try either virtual or real gambling, but states are starting to legalize real money gaming starting with New Jersey last November.

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So since I’m talking about grown up fun… which it is for me (I know how to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, and walk away), I wanted to share a few of my favorite gaming venues.

1. Hard Rock Casino Tampa:  I used to live in Tampa, and love the Sunshine State. The Hard Rock Casino is fun and it has table games from Blackjack to Poker, and Casino WAR (which is played just like the childhood card game).

2. Georgia Lottery: Scratchers (instant games) are a fun affordable way to try your luck. I’ll usually buy a stack from 5-10 scratchers, grab a quarter, and see if or what I’ve won. My favorite games right now are  ”Lucky Streaks” and “50X the Money”.

3. Las Vegas: This should be top on the list but I don’t get to visit Vegas often, but it is like Disney World for adult fun. They don’t call it “Sin City,” for no reason.

4. Tropicana Casino: The Tropicana Casino has great online gaming options (which is only available to people physically residing in NJ). I’ve been curious about online gaming for a while, I think it could be lots of fun.

5.  OnlineGambling.com This is the mother of all online gaming sites.

Now, I’m not endorsing or suggesting that you should play with your money, but a little gaming in moderation sometimes yields big wins.

Disclaimer: I am sharing this content with you as a paid partner with Tropicana Casino.  All opinions and words expressed are my own. 

 

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