Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Healthy Living Fun with Adventures of Little Noodle at the Center for Puppetry Arts!

She's back! Everyone’s favorite champion of healthy eating and active living returns to Center for Puppetry Arts for another odyssey of self-discovery this spring. Set in a grocery store,Adventures of Little Noodle follows the title character as she makes her way home through the store after being swept away from her parents. Along the way, Little Noodle meets many quirky characters who all have opinions on how she should eat and live. This interactive adventure plays in the Downstairs Theater March 8 through April 1.

Perfect for families with children ages four and older, this interactive show encourages kids to make smart choices and fosters self-esteem. Adventures of Little Noodle focuses on four main tenets: make healthy eating choices, stay active, love yourself and be respectful of others. Little Noodle solicits audience participation throughout the show, allowing several opportunities for kids to interact with the story and help guide the pint-sized pasta toward healthy choices. As the audience gets in on the healthful action, they travel along with Little Noodle as she learns messages of self-respect, healthy eating and anti-bullying.

To create this fun story, Center for Puppetry Arts Artistic Director Jon Ludwig teamed up with a group of experts to promote healthy living and provide ideas to prevent one of the most prominent problems plaguing Georgia families – childhood obesity. Using an innovative combination of projected animation and black light puppetry, Adventures of Little Noodle reinforces the experts’ messages in a manner which children find both fun and understandable. This original work is part of the Center’s Healthy Children Initiative and is sponsored by the Aetna Foundation.

Adventures of Little Noodle will be presented in the Downstairs Theater March 8 through April 1. Show times are as follows:

March 8-11

· Tuesday-Friday: 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

· Saturday: 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

· Sunday: 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

March 13-April 1

· Tuesday-Friday: 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.

· Saturday: 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

· Sunday: 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Don't forget! Single show tickets include museum admission as well as the Create-A-Puppet Workshop, where kids can make their own Little Noodle Rod Puppet.

Through its Healthy Children Initiative, the Center empowers its audiences with knowledge and hope concerning making healthy choices at any age. During the show’s opening weekend (March 10th and 11th), patrons can attend a free, interactive Health Fair where health-focused organizations such as C.H.O.I.C.E.S (the Center Helping Obesity in Children End Successfully) will be on hand to provide information, answer questions, lead activities, and encourage audiences to follow up what they have learned in Adventures of Little Noodle.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Evelyn's Eden in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

I told you about our amazing trip to Gatlinburg already but I really had to show off the gorgeous Evelyn's Eden cabin we stayed in while we explored everything the town had to offer! We were lodged at this beautiful cabin high up in the gorgeous Smoky Mountains and I just can not explain how happy we were with it! 

Newly remodeled in 2011, Evelyn's Eden boasts a full kitchen, 2 truly spacious bedrooms, 2 full baths and large living area with a view you would just not believe. There is a car port attached for those snowy days and a screened in porch so you can sit and relax to the sounds of the Smokies all around you. This is the kind of cabin you could definitely stay in for awhile and make yourself at home.

My favorite part was the gorgeous view. It snowed the first night we were there and we woke up to a white and perfect winter wonderland. The large glass wall in the living room gives a straight view to the valley and the rest of the Smoky Mountains across the way. I kept saying that it didn't look real. It looks like something that belongs in some great painting or a movie its so beautiful.

Can't beat that view, right? If you are ever looking for a beautiful, quiet place to stay in the Smokies, definitely seek out Evelyn's Eden. It is the best place for peace and relaxation but is close enough to the strip in Gatlinburg and the parks to be able to get out and have a ton of fun while you're at it!

*I was provided the lodging for our our stay in return for this review. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jersey Boys is Coming!

Dates have been announced for the Atlanta return engagement of the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning hit musical JERSEY BOYS, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The musical will make its much-anticipated return to Atlanta to play the Fox Theatre May 22 through June 10 as part of the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta 2011-12 season.

JERSEY BOYS is the winner of the 2006 Best Musical Tony Award®, the 2006 Grammy Award® for Best Musical Show Album, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical and the 2010 Helpmann Award for Best Musical (Australia). The premiere engagement of JERSEY BOYS in Atlanta was an overwhelming success, seen by more than 91,000 theatergoers and hailed as “A virtually seamless musical entertainment that transcends generational appeal to tell a good story,” by Wendell Brock for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. JERSEY BOYS worldwide has been seen by approximately 13 million people (as of July 17, 2011).

“Atlanta audiences embraced the premiere engagement of JERSEY BOYS,” said Broadway in Atlanta Vice President Russ Belin. “In addition to receiving tremendous feedback from theatergoers, we estimate that the 2009 engagement added more than $2 million to the local economy through patronage of area restaurants and parking lots as well as through local staff hires.”

Directed by two-time Tony® Award-winner Des McAnuff, JERSEY BOYS is written by Academy Award-winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics byBob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.

JERSEY BOYS will play in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre May 22-June 10. The performance schedule is Tuesday-Saturday evenings at 8 p.m.; Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. A special weekday matinee will take place on Thursday, June 7 at 1 p.m.

Tickets are on sale beginning Friday, February 17. Tickets for JERSEY BOYS begin at $28 and are available through authorized ticket sellers at the Fox Theatre Box Office, Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.broadwayinatlanta.com or by phone at 1-800-982-2787. Orders for groups of 10 or more may be placed by calling 404-881-2000. Performance schedule, prices and cast are subject to chance without notice. For more information, visit www.JerseyBoysTour.com or www.broadwayinatlanta.com.

For more information on JERSEY BOYS, go to www.JerseyBoysTour.com or www.broadwayinatlanta.com.

Catch a sneak peek of Jersey Boys! Log on to www.JerseyBoysTour.com/watch.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LISTERINE® Healthy Habits For A Lifetime Oral Care Challenge!

We all strive to adopt healthy behaviors in our everyday lives, right? To try to take care of ourselves and our children in order to feel and be well? I know that we, as a family, try to everything we can to take care of our bodies in order to continue living life to its fullest. It helps maintain our vitality and our sense of happiness when we are feeling our best. 

One of the things that people to take for granted most though, is there dental health. Dental health is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body. Did you know that there can be more germs in our mouth than there are people on earth? Gross! Many people don’t realize that brushing alone misses 75% of your mouth! Plus, nearly 75% of American adults suffer from various forms of gum disease and don’t know it – brushing with the REACH® TOTAL CARE Multi-Action Toothbrush removes up to 90% of plaque for a superior whole-mouth clean to help you on your way a healthier mouth. That is a whole lot of clean, people!

Just a few minutes a day for your mouth can help you establish healthy habits for a lifetime – adding a 30-second rinse, like LISTERINE® Antiseptic, twice a day, can help to provide 24-hour protection against germs that cause plaque and gingivitis. Who doesn't have 30 seconds to spare in order to take care better of themselves? If you don't, it might be time to rethink your time management!

For the LISTERINE® Healthy Habits for a Lifetime Oral Care Challenge, my family is beginning a renewed commitment to our oral health. We will be flossing, brushing, and rinsing our little hearts out and keeping track with a handy dandy chart in order to keep ourselves in line. My kids have always been really good about keeping their own teeth brushed and flossed (with a little help from mama of course). D is super good about remembering to rinse and spit too but K needs a little more practice in that department. 

To help us out with our challenge, we were sent a box of Reach and Listerine products to help us on our way (of course you can pick up your supplies with your next trip to your local Wal- Mart!). The boys were super excited to see a bottle of Phineas and Ferb Smart Rinse and brand new toothbrushes in our box to get them started on the right track. I was more excited about the bottle of Listerine Total Care Zero. I love my regular, burn your mouth Listerine but lets face it, sometimes it gets to be a bit much! The Total Care Zero has zero alcohol so you get zero burn!

For the next month, we are on a mission to keep everything moving in the right direction with our oral health! If you would like to join in and take the LISTERINE® Healthy Habits For A Lifetime Oral Care Challenge with us, you can get all the information you need on Wal-Mart's website. Jump right on in, join us and come back to check in on our progress!

Disclosure: I received products and compensation from Johnson & Johnson and The Motherhood
as part of my participation in the Oral Care Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee: The Perfect Mountain Getaway

This past weekend, we got the chance to head North a bit and stay in one of the most beautiful, relaxing family getaway destinations in the South East. A place where you can spend your mornings watching the sunrise over the Smokies with a cup of hot cocoa, and then spend your afternoon relaxing by the cool mountain stream before taking in some amazing family entertainment and getting in some much needed retail therapy.

Where is this veritable family relaxation oasis? Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Nestled at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg attracts more than eleven million visitors a year. Folks come from all over the world for vacations, outdoor adventures, family fun and memory making.

We were lucky to get to take a trip up and experience everything they had to offer including a beautiful mountain top cabin nicknamed "Evelyn's Eden", the gorgeous Ripley's Aquarium, and lots of local treats and shops that make this little town an amazing treat for the whole family.

A personal favorite of mine is walking the Downtown Parkway. Its filled with the most beautiful shops carrying everything from Christmas treasures to handmade chotchkeys and the classic local T-shirts shops. Of there is also an amazing array of things to see and activities to experience, places to eat, super shopping and attractions.

The boys' favorite thing to check out was the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. This huge aquarium boasts an underwater tunnel with 12-foot sharks, giant sea turtle & thousands of exotic sea creatures. The boys enjoyed watching the live feeding and diving shows the most and getting to interact witht he divers while they were in the tank was a real treat to all of the young ones.

Of course another don't miss Gatlinburg attraction if you are lucky enough to visit in the winter season is the snow tubing park Ober Gatlinburg! Boasting Ski and snowboard rental equipment with lessons available, plus an indoor ice rink, restaurant and lounge and much more, Ober Gatlinburg is a sure hit with the whole family.

If you visit in the summer time, suit up and take a trip down one of the class III and IV rapids. The Big Pigeon and other regional rivers offer Gatlinburg rafting challenges to the max.

If you are looking to relax for a day (or week!) you can cozy yourself up in one of the many cabin rentals or hotels along the Riverwalk and enjoy some quiet relaxation overlooking the gorgeous Smoky Mountains. Take a hike around the Smokies or even pay a visit to the gorgeous Cades Cove. No matter where you are in Gatlinburg, you are always reminded to slow down a little and smell the beautiful smells and take a look at the surroundings. Breathing in that mountain air is good for your body and soul!

If you want more information on booking your trip to visit Gatlinburg in the great Smoky Mountains, check out www.Gatlingburg.com. You can find all the information you are looking for from cabin rentals to attraction tickets.

*I was provided lodging and attraction tickets for this post but all opinions are my own.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Our Visit with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey in Atlanta!

Last night, we visited the circus at Philips Arena. We had more than lots of fun. We had a blast! After we arrived at the arena for a VIP meet and greet, we got to listen to the animals routines and have a Q&A session with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey veterinarian. The boys even got to meet a couple of the horses!

After that we got an up close and personal look at a few of the acts during the pre-show entertainment. The boys got lassoed by a cowboy and even got to try out the yo-yo things!

Then we took a little time to get dressed up like clowns and have a little fun.

After that, it was time for the show to begin! Ringmaster Brian Crawford Scott got the show started in true circus style and we settled in for a great show.

 The grand finale was a spectacle like always! Hopefully we will get to join in the fun again next year!

*Fully Charged is playing in Atlanta at Philips Arena Feb. 15 – 20 and Gwinnett Arena Feb. 23 – 26, 2012. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty Hits Theaters Tomorrow!

Residing quietly beneath the floorboards are little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered, where the smallest may stand tallest of all. From the legendary Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”) comes “The Secret World of Arrietty,” an animated adventure based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series “The Borrowers.”

Co- written by Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most influential and admired filmmakers working in animation today and a major figure in the Japanese cinematic landscape, this is sure to be an adventure for the whole family. His films have inspired moviegoers and colleagues around the world, from Pixar's John Lasseter to fantasist Guillermo del Toro to Chinese director Tsui Hark, and consistently top the box office in his native Japan.

Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger. The English language version of “The Secret World of Arrietty” was executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, and directed by Gary Rydstrom. The film hits theaters Feb. 17, 2012.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Craftiness

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I have finally finished all of my crafty, decor projects. What can I say, I procrastinated a little. Of course when I say a little, what I really meant was a lot. I am not known for being a particularly crafty type person. I love doing crafts and I usually love the end results but my OCD tendencies kick in hardcore when I do crafty things which means it takes forever to complete anything and even then sometimes I trash them when I'm done because they aren't my idea of perfect. Its frustrating and kind of expensive when I get crafty.

This year though, I am determined to do better about decorating my house for the various holidays and that means being more crafty. I guess I have Pinterest to thank for that? The best decorations are the ones that are home made after all and now that its crazy in my face how easy this is supposed to be, I am going to make it work or else.

So, there's that unreasonable neurosis out there for you.

Anyway, Valentine's Day is first. I got the supplies for these things in early January and have slowly but surely making my way through the bag of slightly intimidating craft projects and I have to say, I am quite proud of myself! So far, I have only thrown one project in the trash but trust me, it was bad. That and it took me quite a bit of practice to make my crepe paper rosettes look more like roses than crumpled piles of paper, but still, a win.

First there was the wreath. It was extremely simple. I took a styrofoam wreath from the craft store, ever so carefully and meticulously wrapped the string around the frame, row by row, inch by inch, until my fingers would cramp up and I would have to take a break. It took me longer to figure out how to wrap the points than anything though so I can't really complain. After I got it all wrapped up and the ends glued and tied and hidden, I made the paper rosettes in three sizes out of pink crepe paper and glued them to the wreath. Then I just tied the ribbon in a bow around the inside of the heart and figured out which way to hang it. Bam! Easy, peasy. It took my about 3 hours total to do this one.

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Then there was the hearts I put around our family picture arrangement on the wall above our ginormous couch. This one was super easy. I bought some red and pink contact paper at the craft store. I had a few scraps of other colors from another project a few years ago also. All I did was take the contact paper to the preschool my mother works at and die- cut the hearts out then arrange them around the pre-existing photo arrangement. It as a little color and a little fun to the wall and it ties in with the hearts on the rest of the decorations. Of course if you don't have access to a die-cut machine or a Cricut, you can always cut them out by hand just as easy. Pin It

I also made a felt heart garland. This one was a little more labor intense and it took a lot longer. First, I took two sheets of stiffened felt from the craft store, folded it half and glued right down the crease. It took me a few trial and errors on this one to find the right kind of glue but I finally decided a hot glue gun was the way to go even if it was way messy. After that glue dried and wasn't burn my fingers hot anymore, I cut it into strips about an inch wide from the bonded edge down. Then I folded the ends back over the bonded edge and glued them together to make a heart. Super cute. Then all I had to do was take some regular, clean filament thread and string the hearts together to make the garland. The original tutorial had little wooden beads between the hearts but I kind of liked the hearts all in a line. When all was said and done, I had about 10 feet of garland which I strung across the bar that separates our kitchen from the living room.

None of these craft things took very long to make and none of them were over 7 bucks. Can't beat that, right? Of course I did buy some regular decorations as well because just these three things wouldn't satisfy my decoration ideas and I didn't have time to make all I wanted. The best part though, is over the next few years, I can add to my homemade decorations and eventually replace or get rid of the things I don't like as much.

Next holiday coming up: Easter.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Making Your Own Playdough

When I was a kid, my most favorite thing to play with was playdough. I would sit and play as long as I could stand the smell but eventually I would get awful migraines and I wasn't allowed to play with it any more. You know the smell I'm talking about. Playdough, of all brands, has that smell. Its distinct and strong.

As I started working in childcare when I got older, that smell followed me every where I went and it still gave me a headache like no other. Still, it wasn't until D started getting to the age where he was more interested in playing with it that I started looking into what was actually in it that made me ill. I knew that its labelled non-toxic but that smell was just too much.

Apparently I am the only person on the internet that it does that to. Great. Add it to the list.

I did however find out that regular playdough contains petroleum distillates which is part of the smell (think kerosene odor) and is also not recommended for skin contact or the inevitable toddler taste test. If fact, the CDC recommends immediate medical attention with the ingestion of any amount of petroleum distillates and avoiding any kind of skin contact. It also attacks the respiratory system and the central nervous system so that explains my headaches.

So, yeah. Needless to say, I went looking for a more natural solution. Over the years I have tested and deleted or changed tons of playdough recipes. From the edible kinds to the good smelling to the completely useless. These are some of my favorites. Of course, I wouldn't make all of them at once. Try one and see how you like it. Next time, try a different one. The best thing is that they are all so cheap, they are easy to toss when they get gross or start to dry out.

Regular Homemade Playdough- This is the closest in consistency and moldability to the store bought kind. Kind of a pain to make though.

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
a few drops of food coloring

Mix all but the last ingredient in a small saucepan. Cook over a very low heat until it turns into a dough (it’ll take just a few minutes). Knead the dough on a floured surface until cool enough for kids to touch. Separate the dough into as many colors as you want to make. Put just a few drops of coloring in each ball and knead until evenly mixed.

Peanut Butter Playdough- This is one that people always seem to make fun of me for. I always get the "you're crazy" or "no thanks" when I talk about this one but not with the others. I have never figured out why exactly but I do. Its a huge hit with the boys because they can play with it and snack on it at the same time and it tastes amazingly good!

1 cup peanut butter (Don't use the natural kind with the oil on top. Just trust me.)
1/2 cup honey
2 cups powdered sugar

Mix peanut butter and honey in a bowl and add powdered sugar until you get the right consistency. Let it sit for a few minutes to settle before playing. You can add more honey or powdered sugar as needed to make the consistency just right. Of course, if have a peanut allergy in the house sunflower butter works just as well. Store in an airtight container or plastic baggie with air sucked out of the bag.

Salt Dough- This is not going to taste good. Technically I guess its edible but seriously? Gross. This actually dries out pretty quick too so its more a one day dough. You can keep adding water to it to make it last a little longer though. You can also make ornaments and decorations out of this dough by cooking it.

1/4 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/4 cup water

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl then add water. Knead and squeeze the dough to make a clay consistency. You may need to add more water.

Sand Dough
- This is kind of like the Moon Sand stuff thats so hot right now. Not my favorite because its messy.

1/2 cup sand
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup boiling water
Mix ingredients together and knead. Carefully. You just put boiling water on it.

Gingerbread Play Dough- This one smells and tastes great. We use it most around the holidays but its nice all year. It makes a really cute class gift too.

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
Mix together and knead until smooth.

For almost all of these (except the edible ones) you can divide into sections, then knead in food coloring (liquid or paste). Kids love making the white play dough change colors. Use unsweetened Kool-Aid for color and scent. Add glitter for sparkly play dough. Get creative with and have fun!

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