I hate to admit it, but I love grocery shopping and meal planning. I don’t know what it is, maybe it just sets the tone for the week and helps us stay organized? Whatever it is, I do it weekly. Sometimes even on a Saturday night by myself? It’s like a night out right? Hah.
I will make a list of the meals first Monday through Friday and then list out all the ingredients needed for each meal. We have our weekly usual meals, but I try to add in a meatless monday meal, a meat focused one and usually ending with pizza on Friday nights.
One thing that helps meal planning go smoothly is grocery shopping, Some things I look for in a grocery store are: Continue reading →
When HP reached out looking for our aspect on what the American Family was, I felt two things. One, I was like, YES! I would love to share our family, our values and so on. What a cool experience right?! Family is one of the most important things in my life, in the world really. I couldn’t pass that up. And two, HP is an amazing company. It’s actually the computer I do all my blogging on. I got rid of my Mac a few years ago and have only been using this HP Envy Computer and just love it.
After a few rounds of interviews, a video submission and questionnaire, we made it in. I didn’t really know what to expect from the video shoot except I knew it was going to be a long day of filming with other families from the Chicagoland area. Continue reading →
I have been visiting New Buffalo, Michigan since I was a little girl. In fact, my parents even had their joint bachelor and bachelorette party there over 30 years ago. I grew up going to the beach and going to the farmer’s market every summer. For our very first family vacation with our 4 month old, it seemed only right to head to Michigan. We rented a house on the beach and really had a vacation I’ll never forget. Ever had one of those?
Spring is officially here (although no physical signs of it. Sigh) and Easter is right around the corner. Get out your pastels, boat shoes, and Easter egg baskets and let’s talk about brunch. I have put together some of the best Easter Brunches and Egg Hunts in the city for the entire family.
Commonwealth Tavern- One of my favorites this year has to be at Commonwealth in Roscoe Village. They will be having a kid-friendly Bunny Brunch on Sunday, March 25 (Bunny Brunch) and Sunday, April 1st (Easter Sunday Brunch) from 10 am to 2 pm. There will be FREE kid-friendly activities will include Easter egg coloring, crafts and a special appearance from the Easter Bunny.
While the little ones have fun, adults will enjoy a $3 Build-Your-Own Mimosa Bar and $6 Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar (YASSS PLEASE!). There are several brunch options like a Brunch Schnitzel (herb aioli, smoked potatoes, pickled red onion, fried egg; $14), or a Pig Muffin (maple pig head, farm egg, American cheese, English muffin; $12). The Kid’s Menu ranges in price from $5 to $6 with options like bacon and eggs, grilled cheese, mini cheese burgers and chicken fingers. You can make reservations at (773) 697-7965.
Easter brunch at Macy’s (Chicago-Walnut Room) and Oakbrook-Signature Kitchen): March 24th, 25th, and 31st– Meet the Easter Bunny, enjoy balloon artists and face painters while eating a breakfast buffet. You can find both menus and pricing here. Brunch on Saturday starts at 9am and Sunday at 10am. Macy’s Bunny Brunch
I/O at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago: Sunday, April 1st, 2018– Boasting to be Chicago’s largest indoor outdoor rooftop lounge, Easter Brunch is being served under their retractable roof. Besides some of the best views of River North and downtown, eat brunch with the Easter Bunny, get your face painted and my favorite, a play room for the kids. Brunch includes a carving station, an omelette station and family style pastas for $39/adults and $12/kids. To make reservations and find more information, find it here.
Bistronomic: Sunday, April 1st, 2018 (9:30 am-4:00 pm)- If you and the family feel like getting a little fancy, head over to Bistronomic. Located in Streeterville, serving French food and well known among “foodies” for being top notch farm-to-table food. This brunch includes a menu with filled with seasonal produce from the Green City Market, with a vegetarian option. $42/adults and $56 with Bottomless Mimosas (PARENT BONUS) 2-course Children’s menu $20 (under 12). Make your reservations here at Open Table
Lunch with the Bunny at Independence: Mar. 24th, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.– Head to the Irving Park neighborhood to Independence Park for breakfast and pictures with the Bunny, face painting, inflatables and art projects. For $15 dollars per person, you can find out more information at Chicago Park District.
New City Lincoln Park- Located at 1457 N. Halsted Ave, this recently “modern” mall has been actively throwing family friendly events (we like the tree lighting) all year. For Easter this year, they have a free Easter Wonderland event on their plaza.On March 31st, from 10-12 pm, there will be Easter activities, bunny visits and special appearance by Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter. You can RSVP here.
Tuscany on Taylor: Sunday, April 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuscany Restaurant on Taylor Street will feature an a la carte Easter specials menu created by Executive Chef Victorio Padilla. The regular menu will also be available, and some of the specials will include items like a Smoked Salmon Crostini ($11), Gnocchi ($19), Braised lamb shank ($28) and more! You can make reservations here.
900 Shops- This is the first year the Easter Bunny will be at this location. Located in the 900 N. Michigan Avenue building, the Bunny will be available for photos from Friday, March 23 – Saturday, March 31. The Bunny will start seeing guests at 12 pm and will see the last guest at 6 pm. Very similar to Photos with Santa Clause, keep in mind that all guests must be present in order to sign up for the virtual line. Once entered, you will receive a text with your estimated wait time. Online reservations are not available. Upon arrival you cannot select your preferred time slot.
Or if you feel like running around with your little one and getting those eggs, the Chicago Park District has great hunts across the city that are free. Find more at Chicago Park District
Every family has their recipe’s that have been passed down. One that everyone fights over the last bite during the holidays. This recipe is that dish. My MIL makes the best Puerto Rican rice, no matter how many times I have tried to replicate it. It’s fluffy, so much flavor and filled with “love”, as she says.
When I first started dating my husband, I have never had it and now, I don’t think I could live without it during our family gatherings. It’s that good. Although, it has never been written down, this past weekend, I was finally able to get an approximation of what makes it so good.
If you make it, I’d love to see it! It’s such dish that is near and dear to me. Enjoy!
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, there are lots of events and activities happening, many involving over indulging in some adult beverages and creating some fuzzy memories. But just because you have a family now doesn’t mean the fun can stop. There are a ton of family friendly activities happening and even ones that involve green beer just for you parents. Yes parents, you deserve a green beer or two.
I gathered a list of things we have done as a family, alone and other popular events throughout the city. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Before having our son, my husband and I rarely went out on Valentine’s Day. It’s so much more fun to stay in and cook a big meal of all our favorites (and also a lot cheaper!). Now with a toddler, we still celebrate with a home cooked meal, but it’s slightly different. If you are staying in with your family, I put together an easy meal for you with a fast cleanup that you and your family to enjoy together this Valentine’s Day.
Drink- Shirley Temples
One of my favorite drinks to order as a child was a Shirley Temple. I always felt so grown up. To be honest, I occasionally still order them. This makes the perfect Valentine’s Day drink because kids love it, it’s festive and adults even make it more “adult” like if they’d like 🙂 I prefer using tall plastic SOLO cups because really, kids and glassware just don’t mix.
1(12 ounce)bottle Grenadine
1(2 Liter)bottle lemon-lime soda
Maraschino cherriesfor garnish
Pour 1 ounce Grenadine over ice in a glass.
Top with 8 ounces lemon-lime soda.
Garnish with maraschino cherries.
Main Dish- Pizza with Heart Shaped Pepperoni
Heart shaped pizza is such a fun Valentine’s Day dinner, but to save time on making it, why not just buy your favorite pizza and make heart shaped pepperoni? It’s easy and you can do it together.
You can use a cookie cutter, but I just used scissors and cut the pepperoni into heart shapes.
Heat it up and serve on SOLO plates. These can later serve as crafts for your kids to color and make their own hearts!
Dessert- Cake “Fondue”
Now, for the best part, dessert. Instead of the traditional cheese fondue, replace the cheese with frosting. This cake “fondue” is so fun to dip your mini cake pops into different icings and everyone customize their own Valentine’s Day treat.
1 box Funfetti cake and cupcake mix
Sprinkles of your choice
Cookie sticks (quantity depends on how many you want to make)
Cream cheese frosting
Fruit of your choice (I like pineapple with cream cheese frosting!)
Mini chocolate chips
Pink, purple, red and white gel food colors
Mini cupcake liners
SOLO bowls with lids
Bake the mini cupcakes according to the instructions on the box
While baking, make your frosting colors in the SOLO bowls.
Let the cupcakes cool for 10-12 minutes.
Place the mini cupcakes on the cookie sticks
For the leftover frosting, stick a lid on the bowl and place in the fridge.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day meal with your loved one!
Until next time,
This post was sponsored by SOLO cup however all opinions and experiences are my own!
Super Bowl is one of my favorite events of the year, but you guessed right, not for the game. But for THE FOOD. Super Bowl food is the best. I took some classic Super Bowl recipes, fun hosting ideas and made them a little bit more kid-friendly. So whether you have a family or a party with kids, there is a little something for everyone to get you ready for the big game!
I love hosting. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But if there are a lot of people, especially with little ones, I need easy ideas for setup and clean up. I decided to minimize the dishes and use Solo Cup Products to make clean up easy and less complicated. They are completely disposable, recyclable and really durable. Once you are done with them, they can also be used for kids to write and color on them. It’s a win, win right?
Some fast and easy ideas are a snack bar, pigs in a blanket, tater tot skewers and individual 7 layer dip cups (because nothing says football more than dip).
SOLO has write on cups that are perfect to label the snacks. The kids can make their own snack bowls with lids. These bowls are easy for them to hold and whatever they don’t finish, the bowls serve as to-go cups. The small, clear cups are the perfect size for the individual 7 layer dip cups. Lastly, the paper plates are the adults for the skewers and other snacks. Don’t forget about the red and blue cups for the adult or kid beverages you serve. Plus, they add lots of color to your table.
The best part of a snack bar is that you can customize it to your guests preferences. Since this is more kid friendly, the options are kid friendly, but even adults would enjoy them (I know I do!)
Here are the snacks I used:
ring pops (everyone’s a champion!
M & M’s
blue corn chips
Pigs in a Blanket
This is an appetizer that everyone likes. You can definitely make them with recipes like this or you can buy them frozen, whatever makes your life easier! But either way, they are a great for kids and adults.
7 Layer Dip
These are perfect for a few reasons. The cups are very sturdy, so they are able to hold a lot without feeling too heavy. They are great size for those small hands and you don’t have to worry about any double dipping 🙂
1. In a small bowl mix taco seasoning with refried beans.
2. Add about 2-2 1/2 tablespoons for each layer
Layer 1: beans and taco seasoning
Layer 2: sour cream
Layer 3: guacamole
Layer 4: pico de gallo
Layer 5: cheese
Layer 6: tomatoes
Layer 7: green onions and olives
3. Garnish with one tortilla chip. Store in the refrigerator until serving and serve with chips. Makes around 6 individual dips.
Tater Tot Skewers
These are super easy to make and really fun to eat. You can eat them right off the skewer or add it to your SOLO plate. 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees, let them cool and add 4-5 tots to each skewer. You can add ketchup to the small SOLO cups for dipping.
So if you are inviting friends over to watch the Super Bowl or watching it with your family, enjoy the game, whoever is playing….most importantly, enjoy the food with a no fuss clean up.
Until next time,
This post was sponsored by SOLO cup however all opinions and experiences are my own!
Chicago winter months can be brutal, especially with little ones. The days can become even longer when you are stuck inside all day. I have rounded out a list of our favorite indoor spots. I have included classes, open playrooms and additional fun, indoor activities to keep everyone entertained (hopefully!) and sane during the cold months. I also got some help from fellow moms too and included their favs. Even included a special discount code, a promotion and several free options because who doesn’t like to save some extra cash right?!
Merry Music Makers– Music based classes from kids birth to 5 years old. Children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat and participate in the music of our culture, provided their early environment supports such learning. Merry Music Makers offers research-based curriculum.
TIP: There are three locations throughout the city; Lakeview, Andersonville, and Edgewater
NYC Kids Club– Just recently opened, this gym has various classes, but several are gymnastic based. We have done one open play and a Gym Tots class and really enjoyed it. They have some great grand opening specials that includes Monthly – 50% off your first month + 1 year unlimited open play! Offer expires January 31.
TIP: There is a parking lot on the side on the building.
Bubbles Academy– We have been to several events and open plays here, Noah has always enjoyed it. They focus on an art integrated curriculum and have many classes like art, music and creative movement. The facility has lots of space and they are always having FREE events. Some upcoming parent workshops like potty training and building math skills are really informative for parents.
TIP: Sign up for their newsletter and get the latest events, workshops, and classes.
Purple Monkey Playroom– Located in Bucktown, this playroom is nice for children to explore in the large play space. They have free coffee, tea, and WiFi. I really like the mini kitchen area to heat up lunch and have some snacks. We have always done a day pass for $15 and usually stay for at least minimum of two hours. I think its a great place for play dates on a cold day.
TIP: They have lot parking available in the 90 mile Cuban Cafe gated parking lot at 2449 W. Armitage, directly under the El tracks. It’s about a 3 minute walk to the playroom.
Sod Room– Sod Room is an eco-friendly, indoor play space located in the South Loop of Chicago. They provide toys and materials from recycled cork flooring, low VOC paint, and reclaimed wood. It is uniquely designed to utilize as much natural light as possible. They also have workshops and classes. A day pass is $15 dollars.
TIP: They also feature a retail boutique which offers local, organic, fair trade, and recycled products and gifts for children and parents.
Goldfish Swim School- Through some research and word of mouth, we found Goldfish Swim School and we LOVE IT! It’s our favorite activity to do as a family. We each take a turn in the water with him during the 30 minute class (because of his age). We have the same teacher each lesson in a very small class and they work with you and the level your child is at. You can read more about our experience here. By lesson 3, Noah was enjoying it and learning to do the activities much more independently. After we showered, they have diapers, blow dryers, lotion and wipes to help get ready after the shower.
TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.
Lesson 1- He definitely warmed up 🙂
Lil’ Kickers Soccer– We started soccer lessons when Noah was 20 months (now turning 2 in two weeks) and LOVE it. The program is designed to help develop a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive skills while providing physical exercise and developing players who are good sports and good teammates, on and off the field. The coaches are very encouraging, always high-fiving, and players get stamps at the end of each lesson (my son’s favorite part!). It is a 50 minute lesson with an adult, but at the age of 3, a parent is no longer required.
TIP: They have locations in Chicago and Chicago-land suburbs.
Mini City on 21– Located in Norwood park, this is an open playroom that is a parent/guardian supervised indoor play, party and cafe. They have have classes and birthday party packages available. Day passes are $10 for children 1 – 10 years old and $7 for children 11 – 12 years old. 0-11 months are FREE.
TIP: You can get a MINI “PASSPORT” (only for children 1 -10 years old) with a 5-day pass, $40, 10-day pass, $80 or 15-day pass, $120.
Tinkergarten– All classes take place outside at a local park. Outdoor classes where children can play with other children alongside adults to learn through well-designed, outdoor play-based activities. They help kids develop a host of important capabilities, including empathy, collaboration, creativity, persistence and problem solving. Classes range from 18 months to 8 years old.
TIP: Free trials in March for the spring season
Zumbini– Created by Zumba and BabyFirst for kids ages birth to 4 years old, the Zumbini program combines music, dance and educational tools for 45 minutes of parent and child bonding! Also taught by a local fellow mom! Check out their schedule for classes all over the city.
TIP: Use the code Mamatribe15 for 15% off (only valid at the Irish American Heritage Center).
Young Explorers at the Adler Planetarium– Children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old can check out Young Explorers’ Mondays from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, where children and their families can try hands-on activities like Fly a Kite, Stories Under the Stars, and more. Or add a sky show to your day when you purchase a Basic Pass that includes One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.
TIP: Free with admission.
Kidsyard– Located off Irving Park Road, it is a 2,400 square feet play center for children aged 0-12 years. They have soft play structures, giant blocks and a climbing wall. All activities are created and appointed based on the age of the children and other safety requirements. For the babies or children under 4, there is a specific area to enjoy, with activities that engage their senses, body and mind. They have their own ball pond, mini slide, soft play blocks to crawl on and play equipment.
TIP: They do NOT allow outside food, but have a cafe.
Learning Loop Academy-Learning Loop Academy is dedicated to providing a safe and caring learning, playing and growing space where parents and caregivers can spend time together with their infants and toddlers. It is an interactive area to gather and explore many aspects of movement, music, art language and literature with the opportunity to meet and connect with other families. Check website for pricing.
TIP: Free parking and Wifi
Kohls Children’s Museum– Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, offers 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8. All of our exhibits and programs are aligned to the Illinois State Learning Standards and are designed to nurture a love of learning in young children. Adults and children are $12 dollars.
TIP: Children under 1 years old are free.
Adventure Playland– Located in Mt. Prospect, it is an indoor playground for the kids while serving food, coffee and free WiFi for parents. Open to children 6 months to 7 years old. Children under 1 are free with paid sibling. Monday-Thursday is $10.00, Friday & Sunday is $12.00. An after school special on Monday-Thursday after 3:00PM, is $7.00 per child
TIP: They have punch cards available.
Fun Republic Play– Fun Republic in St. Charles, was founded by three local moms whose main goal was to create a play center to help children not only develop basic motor skills and social skills, but also develop self-confidence while having fun. Fun Republic strives to offer a safe, creative and exciting play setting for children of all ages.
TIP: Kids under 1 years old are FREE.
Wonder Works Wonder Works is 6,400 square feet of fun, a place of creative play for kids birth to age eight. Located in Oak Park, the children’s museum helps kids, their parents and caregivers unleash their imaginations. Wonder Works Children’s Museum provides a hands-on environment for children from birth to age 8 years old. The museum includes six permanent experience zones and hosts parties, field trips, concerts and other fun, educational events. Plus, an outdoor organic garden. Regular Admission is $7 per person, child or adult
TIP: Wonder Works also offers reduced admission for groups of 10 or more children when scheduled in advance through our field trip program.
Peekaboo Playroom– A playroom located in Oak Park, children from 0-6 years old can enjoy the variety of toys, play hide-and-seek in between the little house, read books in the book corner, play basketball, climb and slide in the clubhouse, and much much more. One day unlimited play is per child $12, sibling #2 and Sibling #3 FREE.
TIP: 1 hour pass for $6 dollars
Meet at Gather– Located in downtown Evanston, this playroom offers a place to Gather for art and music classes, workshops and events, open to all ages and abilities. They are open for drop-in art and play Monday-Saturday.
Have the fun delivered to your door! These are kits that are toys with a purpose. Ranging from science to arts and crafts. Here are some kits that you can customize based on your child’s preferences.
HOOT for Kids- For newborn to 6 years old, these treasure boxes are customized based upon your child’s age and developmental stage. They are toys with a purpose.
Bramble Box– Bramble Box award winning Play and Craft Kits are hand-curated activity boxes for kids age 3-7. Mom created and kid tested for hours of fun (& learning) with items to inspire imaginative play and all the materials for at least 2-3 hands-on activities and crafts.
Curiosity Pack– Curiosity Packs inspire a love of learning through age-appropriate activities. Children will learn about letters, numbers, friendship, science, art, love, and every other intriguing subject you can imagine.
My Giant Box– My Giant Busy Box will keep ’em busy! There’s 16 projects, mold dough animals, collage a farm and sticker art. Decorate paper bag puppets and tissue art pictures, then frame them. Includes plastic frames, animal punch outs, bright dough colors, peel and stick tissue art pictures, tons of tissue paper, glue, and easy to follow instructions.