Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Things to Do in Sweet Home Chicago

Here's an ongoing list of things to do in the Chicagoland area.  If you know of something I can add, please let me know!  I'm slowly but surely linking the various activities. 

Sky Zone

Goebbert's Farm & Pumpkin Patch

Stratford Square Mall Train, Carousel, Indoor playground

Brookfield Zoo

Buffalo Grove
Rockin' Jump

Carol Stream
Rockin' Jump

The 606 (elevated running path/artwork)
Adler Planetarium
Art Institute
Buckingham Fountain
Chicago Cultural Center (Free, great photo ops, free tours at certain times)
Chicago Design Museum
Chicago Riverwalk
Field Museum
Lincoln Park Zoo
Maggie Daley Park
Museum of Science & Industry
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Promontory Point
Shedd Aquarium

Crystal Lake
Chuck E. Cheese's
Monkey Joe's
Pump It Up

Des Plaines
The Choo-Choo (restaurant)

East Dundee
AZoosement Park (Old Santa's Village)

Adventure Island indoor water park @The Centre
Hawthorne Hill Nature Center

Elk Grove Village
Fountain Square Park
Jumps N Jiggles
Pirate's Cove Children's Theme Park
Rainbow Falls Water Park

Sky Zone

Chicago Botanic Garden
Little House of Glencoe

Kohl Children's Museum

Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall
Key Lime Cove
Six Flags Great America

Hanover Park
Chuck E. Cheese's

Highland Park
Ravinia Festival

Lake Zurich

The Morton Arboretum

Maple Park
Kuipers Family Farm

The Ball Factory

Sky High Sports

River Trail Nature Center

Carlson Acrtic Ice Arena
Discovery Center Children's Museum
Magic Waters Water Park
Monkey Joe's
Sapora Playworld  More info here
Sinnissippi Park
Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens

Rockford Things to Do

Roscoe (near Rockford)
Board & Brush (this is for adults only)

MB Financial Park
Rosemont Website
Chicago Wolves hockey

Bison's Bluff-outdoor playground, discovery area
Jump Zone-inflatable "playground".  Our 4 year old loved this.
Kids Club-it's been said that they often have Groupons available
Legoland Discovery Center - went here with our 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old. They really enjoyed it and we were there longer than I had anticipated.  If your child loves Legos, I think they'll enjoy it.  My kids loved the little ride, the Lego water table area, and the 4D movie theater. I also recommend checking out Groupon before buying tickets, since I probably wouldn't pay more than the Groupon $14 price we paid.  I'd also skip the photo packages; it's not worth it. Ages 2 and under are free.
Pilot Pete's (restaurant) This is a fun, airport/plane-themed restaurant.  We go there with the kids and they love it.  It overlooks the Schaumburg airport.  It's a noisy place (great for kids) and a huge menu.
Pump It Up
Rainforest Cafe (restaurant)
Schaumburg Park District Website
Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary
The Tot Lot-Sch. Park District
The Water Works-indoor waterpark Sch. Park District
Woodfield Mall
Yu Kids Island- indoor playground/play place It's inside Woodfield Mall. Must wear socks.

Chuck E. Cheese's
Skokie Exploratorium

South Elgin
Epic Air-it's recommended that small kids go during the designated toddler time

St. Charles
Hickory Knolls Discovery Center

Donley's Wild west Town
Illinois Railway Museum

West Dundee
Randall Oaks Zoo

Cosley Zoo
Mokey Joe's 
Monkey Business
Kids Town

Misc. Northwest Suburban Parks blog

Monday, August 1, 2016

It's Consignment Sale Season!

Consignment Sale Season!

Fall Consignment Sales are here!  Here is a list (with some of my opinions) of the local consignment sales that will be coming up in August and September 2016.  I get most of the upcoming season's clothes at these sales on 50% off day.  Of course the selection is less than on day 1 of the sale, but if you don't look at the clothes at all until half-off day, you don't know what you've missed.  Plus, there has never been a time when I didn't get any good clothing on half-off day.  I highly recommend it for everyday, play clothes.  Most of these websites also have Facebook pages, so "like" them to get new information as the sales approach.

If you know of any sales that would be worth it to add to the list, let me know!  I love checking out sales I haven't been to before.

Click on the Sale name for their main website.  Click on the word Facebook in my description to get to their Facebook page.

Cannon UMC Consignment Sale
August 13-15, Snellville

Toads & Teacups Children's Consignment
August 10-13, Buford
I have not been to this sale.  I found out about it via Facebook.

Kidsignments, Inc.
August 16-20, Lawrenceville
This is the HUGE sale at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.  They're also on Facebook.  If you're looking for bigger toys, strollers, exersaucers, train tables, bikes, kitchen sets, things of that nature, it's in a separate building the first few days.  I did not know this the first year I attended.  They do move it all to the main building once the "stock" is much less.  If you can't find what you're looking for, ASK!  Also know that no children/infants OR strollers are allowed until after 2 pm the first day.  If you go at a crowded time, be prepared to wait in a hot line for over an hour.

Kids Closet at Winters Chapel
September 22-24, Atlanta
No children the first day unless they're infants that can be worn.
Facebook page.

St. Matthews Preschool Consignment Sale
September 23-24, Snellville

Rhea Lana's DUNWOODY Children's Consignment Sale
July 24-30, Dunwoody
I have not been to this sale.  This is their Facebook page.

Snellville UMC Consignment Sale
September 14-17, Snellville
This sale is run by and supports the Early Learning Program at the church.  In my opinion, this is by-far the best smaller consignment sale in the area.  I have purchased awesome ride-on toys, Little Tikes toys, instruments, toy box, etc. at this sale.  I have also had good luck on 50% off day for clothes.  I recommend this sale, but do know that it's not as big as Kidsignments or TTT.  Sometimes this sale can have a long line, but not as long as the fairgrounds sale  I have also sold at this sale and it's a pretty easy process.  They are also on Facebook.

Mountain Park UMC MOPS Consignment Sale
September 23-24, Stone Mountain/Lilburn
This is a nice, smaller sale.

Bright Beginnings Kids Consignment Sale
September 8-10, Loganville (located in gym of First Baptist Loganville)

Tykes, Tots & Teens Consignement, (TTT)
September 10-17, Conyers Horse Park
I discovered this one after a couple of years of checking out consignment sales.  I held off from checking it out due the distance it is from my house, but I LOVE this sale due to the fact that the entire check-out process is computerized/scanned.  It goes by so much quicker than Kidsignemtns.  I waited in line no more than 10 minutes.  Super quick!  They also have re-stock days so items are continually coming in to the sale.  Check them out on Facebook.

Rhea Lana's Children's Consignment Event
dates not announced, Lawrenceville
Here's their Facebook page.

Rhea Lana's CUMMING Children's Consignment Event
October 23-27, Cumming
I have not been to this sale.

Jack & Jill Kids Sale
August 24-27, Lawrenceville, GA
I have sold at this sale and it was well done for a smaller sale.

Gwinnett Mothers of Multiples Sale
dates TBA, Lawrenceville
You don't have to be a mom of multiples to attend this sale.  If you're looking for matching clothes twins, for friends, your child's cousin, etc. this would be a great place to look. Here is their Facebook page.  Read their website for rules for shopping the sale, for example no diaper bags, no food, etc.

Lil' Hands Kids Consignment Sale
August 3-6, Winder
I have not been to this sale before, again finding out about it on Facebook.   

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *
Half-Pint Consignment
Unfortunately, this sale no longer exists. (super sad face)
I have liked this sale and have even sold in it, but they won't be having a sale this time around.  They do have a Facebook page, but they will not be having their spring sale due to their needs for a new location.
*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

Looking for more?  Check out Atlanta Parent Magazine's Consignment Sales List.

This is another search site where you can find seasonal consignment sales near you.  Consignment Mommies

Local sales are often listed on your local Macaroni Kid Facebook Pages, too!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Things to Do in Atlanta

I am basically writing this post as an ongoing list of things to do in the Atlanta/Georgia area.  I have tons of bookmarks and emails saved with locations and events, but when it comes to finding something I know I have somewhere, it's close to impossible.  Therefore, I am creating this post as a central location for me to collect my ideas, but it's also here for you to browse when you're looking for something to do around town.  If you know of something I can add, please let me know!  Even if you have not been there, but know of its existence, I'd love to add it to my list.

Not all of the listings are places I have been to.  I might have a comment or I might just have a link for easy reference.

All Fired Up paint-your-own-pottery
The Matilda Cottages

Botanical Gardens  Beautiful place to explore, take photos, enjoy the afternoon.
Bear Hollow Wildlife Trail  We enjoyed this, but it's not worth the drive if not combined with something else.  Reminded me of a super-duper-mini Yellow River Game Ranch.
Georgia Museum of Art
The Varsity (restaurant)
Visit Athens website
World of Wonders Playground

Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Food Truck Park
Atlanta History Center
Atlanta Monetary Musuem
Centennial Olympic Park
Center for Puppetry Arts
Chicken and Waffles (restaurant) Owned by Gladys Knight's son now.
CNN Studio Tour  1 1/2 hour walking tour, interesting to see behind-the-scenes of the tv station.
Cyclorama  I have not been here.  It's right next to the zoo.  Learn about the Battle of Atlanta during the American Civil War.  Civil War Museum.
Fernbank Museum of Natural Science  I've been here a few times.  Lots to explore, a couple of children's exhibits.  They run various weekend programs from time to time.  IMAX is really neat, but it costs extra.
FLIP Burger (restaurant) This was a fun place with eclectic burger choices and shakes.
Georgia Aquarium  This is quite expensive, but it's an awesome aquarium.  Hard to find any deals on admission.
Georgia Tech Museum of Papermaking  They have various workshops for families.
Hard Rock Cafe  (restaurant)
High Museum of Art  If you love art, this is an excellent museum to visit.
Imagine It! Children's Museum  Save $ with Half off Halfternoons & Target Free Second Tuesdays
Jumpin' Kritters Indoor playground.
Margaret Mitchell House & Museum
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site  LOTS to learn here.  You can spend as little or as much time as you'd like.  There are various things you can pay for (the church, home, etc.) but there are things you can see for free (musuem, firehouse, etc.)
Mary Mac's Tea Room (restaurant)  Traditional Southern Cooking
Oakland Cemetery
Souper Jenny (restaurant)  Cash & checks only.  They request to put cell phones away.
Starlight Drive-In
Sun Dial Restaurant (restaurant) We love taking out of towners here.  The view of the City is amazing and the restaurant revolves.  A great hidden find in the city of Atlanta.  Newly remodeled as of August 2013. 
The Varsity (restaurant)
World of Coke  This was a fun toursit place, but again, I'd combine it with something else.
The Wren's Nest
Zoo Atlanta We enjoyed the gets very crowded on weekends!

Six Flags over Georgia

Ball Ground
Gibbs Gardens

Blairsville (also See Helen)
Brasstown Bald

Chateau Elan
Mayfield Dairy Tour
Road Atlanta

Buford Artists Colony
Everland Play Indoor playground near the Mall of Georgia.  I've heard a few good things about this place, but I have not been here yet.
Gwinnett Environmental Heritage Center
Lake Lanier Islands
La Madeleine Cafe (restaurant)
Mall of Georgia
Mall of Georgia fountain
Mimi's Cafe (restaurant)
P.F. Chang's (restaurant)
The Tannery Row & Artist Colony

Cagle's Family Farm

Booth Western Art Museum
The Etowah Indian Mounds  A friend told my this is a VERY pretty place to see.
Tellus Science Museum  Free Bank of Amer. Weekends

57th Fighter Group Restaurant More upscale restaurant overlooking the PDK Airport
The Downwind Restaurant at PDK Airport This is a more low-key grill-type restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the airport.

Cabbage Patch Kids Baby Land General Hospital
Gold 'n Gem Grubbin
North Georgia Zoo

Dahlonega Square & Shopping
Gold City Corral and Carriage Company

Rancho Alegre Farm  This was a fun little tour, but a little over the heads of our toddler/preschoolers that attended.  We enjoyed the short hay ride around the farm and feeding the animals.  The pony (horse) ride was a neat touch, but a bit overpriced at $5 a child.  The cost to tour the farm was $4 per adult, $7 per child.  Overall, a neat tour but slightly overpriced in my opinion.  They did have a great pavilion for lunch with a playground.

City of Decatur
Dekalb International Farmer's Market
Decatur Restaurants
Brick Store Pub (restaurant)  This was a fun little restaurant to check out.  It's in the heart of downtown Decatur.
Leon's (restaurant)

45 on Main
Dave & Busters 
Duluth River Tubing
Duluth Town Green
Duluth Town Green fountains
Eye Candy Art Studio (They have paint your own pottery & more.)
Georgia Diner (restaurant)  This is our "Pseudo-Sally's" restaurant.  It's a coffee shop-type place with a huge menu.  Open 24 hours.
Hudgens Center for the Arts
The Melting Pot
Park Cafe (restaurant)
Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf
Red Clay Theater
Ruby Tuesday
Southeastern Railway Museum
Stoney River Legendary Steaks (restaurant)
Sweet Tomatoes (restaurant)

Elachee Nature Center
INK Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, Inc.

Hail Mary Pub
Joe's All American Grill
Johnny's Pizza
Marco's Pizza
The Pancake House (not part of the chain restaurant)
Salamandra's (Mexican)
Taco Bell/KFC

Helen, GA (also See Blairsville)
Anna Ruby Falls  LOVED this!  An uphill hike to a beautiful waterfall.  Definitely a beautiful place to spend the day.
Balloons Over Georgia
Black Forest Bear Park
Charlemagne's Kingdom Railroad
Cool River Tubing

Gilliland's Heritage Alpacas Educational Farm Tours  This was a neat little tour, however, I do not recommend this for anyone younger than school-aged children.  The highlight was getting to feed the alpacas carrots at the end of the tour, but then again, my child loves feeding animals.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History

ABC Pottery Art Studio (Inside Sugarloaf Mills Mall)
Aurora Theater
Aurora Children's Playhouse
Bethesda Park Aquatic Center
Blue Rooster on the Square (restaurant)
Buffalo's Cafe
Dave & Buster's
Dominick's Italian on the Square (restaurant)
Fun-A-Thon (indoor playground)
Gwinnett Braves Minor League Baseball
Jumpstreet (indoor trampoline park) Inside Sugarloaf Mills Mall
McCrays on the Square (restaurant)
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament (restaurant)
Mellow Mushroom This location has a train that goes around the ceiling.
Pollo Tropical (restaurant)
Randy's Perennials & Water Gardens
Stars and Strikes Bowling
Sugarloaf Mills Mall
The Flying Machine Restaurant @Briscoe Field (restaurant)
Trolley Tours 1pm Saturdays. Lawrenceville Square, free. Come hear the history of Lawrenceville from Mary Long, our local Historian, resident and author. The tours are first come, first serve.

Bounce A Rama  closing Aug. 2013
Yellow River Game Ranch  We've been here several times.  It's nice for kids to be able to pet the animals.  It's not super big, so it's easy with young children as well as older kids.  It's also inexpensive, under $10.

Locust Grove
Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary

Buffalo's Cafe
Legacy Alpaca Farm
Loganville Toddler Park
Ruby Tuesday
Vines Botanical Gardens & Railroad
Washington Farms (Strawberry Picking)

Catch Air indoor playground/bounce houses.  Fun and their Facebook pages often offer daily discounts with "password" used at checkout.
Gone With the Wind Museum
Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art  Link for Toddler Tuesdays ages 1-5
Marietta Fire Museum
Six Flags White Water (outdoor water park/water slides)

The City of Norcross website
Chamberlain's Chocolate Factory They do chocolate factory field trips
Cracker Barrel (restaurant)
Lillian Webb Splash Park
Malibu Grand Prix & Buccaneer Cove* water park (*new in 2014)
Norcross Station  (restaurant)  I have not been here, but it's in the old train station.
Superior Play Systems (This is inside.  Free Open Play Wed. & Fridays 10am-1pm)
The Varsity (restaurant)

Pine Mountain
Calloway Gardens. They also hold an annual hot air balloon festival.
Wild Animal Safari  We thought this was a lot of fun.  We took the bus tour and saw tons of neat animals, fed them, they stuck their heads in the bus...lots of fun.  Be prepared for a hot day if you visit in summer.

Restaurants with multiple locations
Fellini's Pizza
Frontera Mex-Mex Mexican
Ippolito's Italian
Mellow Mushroom Pizza
Nancy's Chicago-style Pizza  In Midtown and Buckhead.
Provino's Italian
Taco Mac  Family-Friendly Sports Grill
Twisted Taco Tex-Mex

Chattahoochee Nature Center
PLAY Activity Center
Splash 'n Play at Riverside Park (Sprayground)
Stoney River Legendary Steaks (restaurant)
The Spray Station at East Roswell Park (Sprayground)

Sandy Springs
La Dee Da Studio

Alexander Park
Bonefish Grill (restaurant)
Cabana Grill (restaurant)
Chili's (restaurant)
First Watch (restaurant) Open for Breakfast, Lunch, Brunch only.
Little Mexico (restaurant)
Longhorn (restaurant)
Macaroni Grill (restaurant)
Moe's (restaurant)
Olive Garden (restaurant)
Pizzeria Venti
Red Robin (restaurant)
Ted's Montana Grill (restaurant)
Which 'Which (restaurant)
Wild Wing Cafe (restaurant)
Zoe's Kitchen-opening June 2014. (restaurant)

Stone Mountain
Get Air
Stone Mountain Park
   Miss Katie's Sideboard (restaurant) We recently discovered it closed!
   The Commons (restaurant)  This was a standard restaurant, but the view of the mountain is beautiful.  There is also a lot of outdoor seating.

Catch Air   indoor playground/bounce houses.  Fun and their Facebook pages often offer daily discounts with "password" used at checkout.
Cracker Barrel (restaurant)
Five Guys Burgers & Fries (restaurant @Town Center)
Mellow Mushroom (restaurant @Town Center)
Old Atlanta Spray Park Here's a 2nd link for this.
Rita's (ice cream @Town Center)
Suwanee Restaurants  (restaurant)
Suwanee Town Center
Suwanee Town Center Big Splash fountains
Ippolito's (restaurant @Town Center)

Fort Yargo State Park  We were here on "free State Park Day" and really enjoyed it.  We had no idea there was so much to do here.  There were paddle boats, playground, camping/yurts/cottages, trails, fishing, etc.  Lots to do!

Websites to find more!  money-saving tips  family travel blog  Georgia State Parks  Look for drive-ins when you're travelling.

Atlanta Area Festivals

Yellow Daisy Festival Stone Mountain, Stone Mountain Park, September
Atlanta Ice Cream Festival Atlanta, Piedmont Park, July
Dogwood Festival Atlanta, AprilGrant Park Summer Shade Fest Atlanta, August
Lavendar Festival Roswell, June
Virginia-Highland Summer Fest June

Sunday, April 3, 2016

VBS & Summer Camps 2016

This is basically a running list of area VBS programs and summer camps/activities.  If I happen to know information about specific things, I'll include it.  Otherwise, it might just be a link or something you can Google for more information.  
If you know of something not listed, let me know and I'll add it to the list!

Anchor Church (Grayson/Loganville)
Grayson UMC (Grayson)
Cannon UMC (Snellville)  June 13-17
Mountain Park UMC (Stone Mountain)
Mountain Park First Baptist (Stone Mountain) June 6-10
First Baptist Snellville (Snellville) June 6-9
First Baptist Church of Lilburn (Lilburn) June 13-17
Gwinnett Community Church (Lawrenceville) Five Forks & Arnold
Snellville UMC (Snellville)
Lilburn Community Church (Lilburn)
Mt. Carmel (Stone Mountain)
Cornerstone Bible Church (Lilburn across from Parkview HS)
Lilburn Alliance Church (Lilburn)
Calvary Baptist Church (Lilburn)
Mt. Zion Baptist Church (Snellville)

Misc. Summer Camps & Summer Programs
Good Shepherd Presbyterian Summer Camps (Lilburn)
Cannon UMC (Snellville)  Summer Camp
Camp Invention @Mt. Carmel (Stone Mountain) I know several teachers at this location.  Great for kids who like figuring things out, science, logic,etc.
Camp Invention @Craig ES (Snellville)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Rice Soup (non-cream)

Here I am, yet again, posting a soup that I love!  This is a soup I made sort of off-the-cuff, but it was delicious and the entire family gobbled it up.  I make a tasty cream of chicken rice soup and used that as the base for this non-cream soup.  You can play with it a little, adding or deleting veggies and/or seasonings that you prefer in your soup, but this is a great, basic soup for a chilly day.  (I tend to go a little overboard with veggies when I make soup; I always add more than it calls for.)  I also doubled this (other than the chicken; I just used 3 breasts) to maximize the use of my big crock pot.

Chicken Rice Soup

2-3 chicken breasts (I used 3 frozen.)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Sazon Goya seasoning packet (see pic below, can be found in ethnic/Hispanic food section)
1 cup carrots, grated, diced, or chopped
1 cup celery, grated, chopped, or thinly sliced

Dump all ingredients into Crockpot. 
Cook on Low for 6 hours or High for 4 hours. 
Remove chicken from Crockpot and shred. 
Add chicken back to Crockpot. 
Let everything cook about 30 more minutes in Crockpot.

(I’m Italian so I always sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese on my bowl of soup. Plus, everything is better with a little cheese, ya know. J )

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hamburger Stew

Ok, so I haven't made this yet but I can't figure out a way to pin it to Pinterest.  I'm just copy and pasting this from the Taste of Home Facebook page so I can keep it for later. :)


From -

Note: Serve with buttered cornbread.
2 pounds ground beef
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced
4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons pepper

Cook beef and onions over medium heat; drain. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, water, rice, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables and rice are tender. Uncover; simmer 20-30 minutes longer or until thickened!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Good 'ol Chili

Good ol Chili

It's that time of year when you warm up with a cozy sweater and bowl of chili.  This is one of Joe's favorite chili recipes that he got from a co-worker several years back. We continue to make it a few times each fall/winter.  It makes a good amount and has lots of great flavor.

2 ½ lbs. ground beef (We usually use 1.5-2 lbs. only.)
28 oz. can Hunts diced tomatoes
15oz. can Bush’s chili beans
15oz. can Hunts seasoned, diced tomato for Chili (This can be difficult to find.)
20 oz. +/- Campbells Tomato Soup
15 oz. can kidney beans
1 pkg. McCormick mild chili seasoning (or hot)
½-1 bell pepper, chopped 
1 med. Onion, chopped
1 small jar jalapeno peppers (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef, drain, then add everything together.

Simmer on stove for 1-2 hours OR all night in crock pot. (I typically cook it in the crock pot on low for 8ish hours.)

Now, if you are an Aldi shopper, you can find most of these ingredients there, which will save you some money on ingredients.  If you don't see them in the regular canned foods aisle, check the aisle that has promotional food items.  Usually I can find the chili beans, seasoned diced tomatoes, etc. in one of those two places.