Momma Cuisine & Sabra family fun #SabraFamPicnic

I was so honored to be invited to Momma Cuisine’s Sabra Family Picnic, weekend before last. The kiddos had a ball. We met other families, caught up with some of my blogging friends, and ate great tasting healthy foods. I want to thank Johanna and Sabra for throwing such a fabulous event.

Check out a few of our pictures:

The personalization was just so cute.

The kiddos loved the basket full of healthy goodies!

I’m a huge fan of mason jars so these just stole my heart.

Look at the spread! The Sabra bags were filled with footballs and Frisbees. The different varieties of hummus were super cool to try and the tasty salads, snacks, and hot dogs were so filling.

The kiddos didn’t even realize they were eating healthy! LOL. They enjoyed the food, company, and fun!

Thanks again=)

My day 3 recap: Social Media Week Chicago 2013 plus 5 tips every blogger should use! #SMWChicago

Day 3! I had a jammed packed day, less sessions than day 1, but more than I had on day 2.

The first session of the today was “Mommy blogging your way to success” and it was an early morning one. So of course I was running late. After I took the kiddo to school I kind of got into relax mode thinking “oh I have more than enough time” and ended up running to catch the train, literally. Thank God he kept the doors open I’m sure everyone on the West Side of Chicago saw me running. Even though I caught the train I would still be late because of the train stopping and going pretty slow so to avoid having to run anywhere else I made it up in my mind to cab it from the train stop. I made it to Tribune Tower with about 10 minutes left until start time which was impressive since I had just left my house only 30 minutes prior 😉

Like I stated previously The first session was centered around Mommy blogging and boy was it packed! I guess a lot of mommies want to start blogging. We all have stories to tell. The panel of mommy bloggers was very impressive and motivating and they dropped sooo many gems. One hour was not enough! Here are some tips I picked up that I feel every blogger should know and use:

1. Generosity IS currency in the blogging world. The best thing you can do is share, comment, & like. Let that blogger know you like what they are dishing out! We all love a pat on the back.

2. Write about what matters to you. What’s your passion? What can you talk about for hours and hours and not get bored? That’s your niche! There is somebody out in the world with interests just like you.

3. If you started blogging just to make money or to get stuff you may as well STOP right now. Sure a lot of people make good money off blogging, but guess what it started off as a hobby or something they loved to do and then evolved to a business. You can’t just focus on the dollar signs because you will lose sight of your readers and or content.

4. Write as if you are a celebrity. Don’t down yourself! If you don’t believe in yourself who will? You never know maybe Oprah will read your blog and you are a overnight sensation!

5. Privacy act! if you have children come to an understanding if you will post their pic, name, or even mention them. Also the same with your mate. Some bloggers share there children pics & name but keep their mate private or vice versa you just have to do what’s comfortable to you.

After the first session I caught up with my blogger friend One Haute Mommi and then ran to grab lunch before my second session started. I had one of the best burgers ever! From coast burgers. Yummy!

The Second session was at Tribune as well and it was about starting or saving your blog and it was a great class. Some of the things mention was a repeat of what I heard earlier of course in a different way. I also heard fresh information, but most importantly I left feeling empowered.

I went home after session 2 because I had a 4 hour wait before my next session and I missed my husband and son 😉

My boys drop me off for my last and longest session of the night it was about how to become Facebook famous (super cool title). The panel was super cute and had a wealth of real life experience. A Social Media tool I learned about and can’t wait to use is Flickr. The questions the audience asked were great too.

The three workshops yesterday gave me the fuel and info I needed to keep going. As I walked out of the Tribune last night I embraced the light walk and the wind. It felt so inviting yet limited so I cherished it plus I was able to capture a few shots.

Today is my last day of sessions with #SMWChicago and I’m super excited. Ii will do today’s recap tomorrow.

My day 2 Recap: Social Media Week Chicago 2013 #SMWChicago

History
History

I didn’t over do it today. I only took one class today. I was extremely tired this morning when it was time to wake the kiddo up, so I am glad I took it easy today. My session was at the Tribune Tower on Michigan Ave. The building is just so historic. I was on time and found a seat easily. The core of what was taught today was basically how to keep your readers engaged through the various social media sites. The speakers were Social Media gurus from Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, and Entertainment cruises. Here are a few tips that I felt were very useful:

1. Have a quick response time on your social media outlet. If someone tweets, repost, or comments to you then have the decency to respond even to negative comments.

2. Only post things that are funny, important, or relevant. You can lose readers if you are always posting random things unless that’s your style and or brand.

3. Be consistent. Have a voice and stay in that lane. If you are claiming to be a car expert please don’t venture off into make up tutorials!

The class was about 50 minutes long and then they opened the floor to questions. I learned some pretty cool tips and have already notice more responses.

Tribune Tower
Tribune Tower
With all those floors available my class would be in the basement. LOL
With all those floors available my class would be in the basement. LOL

Afterwards the sun was shining and the weather was just right. I felt like a tourist in my own city so I took a few photos with my beat up iPhone. (Brag: all the pictures posted from #smwchicago was taken with my iPhone.)

The wind was just right...
The wind was just right…
A quick picture of the city life!
A quick picture of the city life!

I walked to grab a bite to eat at Panda Express (my fave) and I enjoyed the alone time and the use of their electric socket to charge my dying iPhone lol. I then made a quick… OK, long stop at forever 21 for a few items. Overall it was a good day. Looking forward to tomorrow’s line up, I have 3 sessions on the slot for tomorrow and 2 for Thursday and then I’m done:)

Social Media Week Chicago 2013 Day 1 recap #SMWChicago

This is my first year going to Social Media Week here in Chicago and I am super pumped! I have a full agenda planned.

Here is a quick blurb from their Facebook page in regards to what Chicago Media Week is:
Social Media Week is a global initiative to explore the cultural and economic impact of social media. The event highlights expert discussions, workshops and networking opportunities, with most events free and open to the public.

The Google sign

My Social Media Week agenda started off with Google. The Google+ session was fantastic! Just the whole thought of being at “Google” was pretty inspiring. Oh and the cute green dot pen they gave us was petty cute. The host was Interactive Amy and she was funny, well informed, and pleasant. The information she presented was helpful, well organized, and relevant. I struggle with totally understanding Google+ so this workshop gave me a little more knowledge and the motivation to really figure it out.

Inside the Google conference room

Google’s office space is innovative, fun, and engaging. They have different themes on each floor and I just fell in love with one of the floors they decorated from the theme of Chicago in the 1920’s. They have a Speakeasy! How cool is that? Let’s not forget the view! The office is dead smack in the middle of beautiful Downtown Chicago and the view of the skyline is priceless from their floor to ceiling windows. Thank you Google!

The view...

MorningStar

After leaving Google at 3:55 (Google doesn’t think any meeting should be a total 30 minutes or a full hour so all their meetings are either 25 minutes or 50 minutes so you can have time to get to your next meeting). I rushed to my session with Morningstar. Since I was running late I took a cab. I was only about 5 minutes late, but it seemed like the class was in session for a while because the presenter was deep into his personation. The whole auditorium was packed so I struggled to find an open seat once I secured one and took out my notebook it was only a few minutes left. Although the session was slotted for 1 hour the presenter only used 35 minutes and wanted to save the other 25 minutes for questions. I picked up a few gems out of the class, but I believe this class was for business owners trying to get their websites noticed.

Thank God for Aleve

As the session ended I was hit with a blinding headache. I believe it was from hunger and also looking at computer screens and power point presentations for over two hours. Thankfully there was a Walgreens across the street from Morningstar and I was able to grab a travel size of Aleve. I then quickly walked a block and a half to McDonalds to grab something to put on my stomach before I took my pain pill. I was able to kind of gather my thoughts and prepare for the other planned events that ware less than an hour away.

Food from #foodiechats created by Yolk

After I took my pill, ate my food, and took a breather I took a Cab to Yolk for the #foodieChats event and was pleasantly surprised with the food and drink selection. Everything was well organized and the food was tasty. They had giveaways and I even won a $25 gift card to an upcoming boutique! I made a mental note to check out Yolk again, next time with my husband.

Mimosa!

I'm a WINNER!

After the tasty Banana French toast skewers and fresh strawberry orange juice mimosas, I hiked to Billy Dec’s Rockit Bar and Grill for Social Media Week Chicago’s opening party. The walk wasn’t bad, but since I had a pretty full day I just wasn’t feeling it. I was carded at the door (yes I have a baby face) and I entered to see tables full and the bar packed. No one came to seat us or lead us to an open table (if there was one) so I just looked around one good time and left. I was exhausted.

Crossing the Chicago river on my way home..

But overall day one was pretty cool. Great experiences and I am excited for the rest of my week exploring Social Media Week Chicago!

Nationwide Fun Fall activities for the kiddos + Money saving coupons

Being born and raised in Chicago has taught me one thing…weather has a mind of it own. Hence it was 95 degrees this past Tuesday now it’s 55 degrees! But the drop in temperature means one thing….FALL! I am super exited about the Fall season because it’s my favorite season, the weather is amazing and the Chicagoland area always have a million Fall festivities to participate in.

Nothing like taking the kiddos out for some Fall fun for cheap and guess what? I have some great coupons for you! Are you ready for some Fall Festival Deals?! Here is great list of Corn Maze Coupons and Fall Festival savings nationwide. Download or print these valuable coupons for Corn Mazes, Pumpkin Patches and Fall Family Activities.

Arizona
Schnepf Farms – Queen City

California
Forneris Farms – Mission Hills

Colorado
Anderson Farms – Erie
Flat Acres Farm – Parker
Fritzler Maze – La Salle
Sunflower Farm – Longmont
Mile High Farms – Bennett
Wishing Star Farm – Calhan
Harvest Farm – Wellington

Texas
Devine Acres Farm – Devine
Fiesta Farm – San Antonio
Yesterland Farm – Canton
South Texas Maize – Hondo
Dewberry Farm – Brookshire
Brazos Valley Maize – Brenham

Louisiana
CM Farms – Dry Creek

Georgia
Lane Southern Orchards – Fort Valley
Poppell Farms – Odum

Michigan
Farmer Charley’s Corn Maze Adventure – Monroe

Indiana
Amazing Fall Fun – Waterloo
Harvest Tyme Pumpkin Patch – Lowell
Hobson’s Fun Farm – Rockville

Illinois
All Seasons Orchard – Woodstock
Kuipers Family Farm – Maple Park
Odyssey Fun Farm – Tinley Park
Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm – Lockport

Maryland/DC
Summers Farm – Fredrick County

Massachusetts
Sauchuk Farm – Plympton

Missouri/Kansas
KC Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze – Gardner
Shuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch – Pleasant Hill

Mississippi
Seward Farms Maze – Lucedale

Minnesota
Afton Apple Orchard – Hastings

Montana
The Maize at Grandpa’s Farm – Billings

Nebraska
Camp Fontanelle – Nickerson

NewJersey
VonThun Farms – Monmouth Junction
Sahl’s Father Son Farm – Egg Harbor City

New York
Wright Family Farm – Warwick
Harbes Family Farm – Mattituck

North Carolina
Patterson Farm Market and Tours – Mount Ulla

Ohio
The Corn Maze at the Sharp Run Market – Millersburg
Meadow View Growers – New Carlisle

Pennsylvania

Hurricane Hill Farm – Coatsville
Triple B Farms – Pittsburgh
Reillys Summer Seat Farm – Pittsburgh

Rhode Island
Confreda Greenhouses & Farms – Hope (Western Cranston)

Virginia
Cows-N-Corn – Midland
Wayside Farm Fun – Berryville
Belvedere Plantation – Fredericksburg

Utah
Cornbelly’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Fest – Spanish ForkFor Daily Updates on these coupons and coupons for other family attractions please visit and bookmark: http://www.usfamilycoupons.com

Join Macy’s Culinary Council and Chef Takashi Yagihashi in Chicago

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram then you know I LOVE FOOD! Yes, I am one of those people that takes pictures of their food and posts them on social media =) I can’t help it!

My husband is a cook so we eat a home cooked dinner at least 4 times a week. Now don’t count me out, I cook at least twice out of the four…But I am no pro. I enjoy watching cooking shows on TV, looking up recipes on Pinterest and Facebook, but I really love watching live cooking demonstrations. I can actually see how they create their dishes. No editing just raw cooking!

If you are a cooking or food enthusiasts like myself this upcoming event is perfect for you. On Thursday September 12th at Macy’s Downtown Chicago location at Noon the Macy’s Culinary Council presents Chef Takashi Yagihashi!

World renowned Chef Yagihashi has appeared on many television shows like Top Chef Masters, Martha Stewart, and Iron Chef! Not forgetting about his top rated restaurant here in Chicago and several magazine features. He is a Chef to really learn from. This event will be a refresher course with new and fun ways to create classic dishes for your family at home. Plus, with any purchase of $35 or more in the Home Department you snag a $10 Macy’s Gift Card and a Macy’s Culinary Council backpack which Chef Yagihashi will autograph after the demonstration. If you want to start getting an ‘A’ on your after-school menu Call 1-800-329-8667 or email TakashiYagihashi@eventbrite.com to RSVP for this tasty event!

When: Thursday, September 12 at Noon
Where: Macy’s on State Street (Lower Level) Chicago

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere is compensating me for this post on Macy’s Culinary Council.

Back to School rescue by Walgreens HealthCare Clinic

I am a member of Collective Bias Social Fabric Community. This Shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

Back to school prep is officially over for the Pyles’ household. Dereon just started first grade this month at a new school so they needed all his medical forms and records up to date. Of course this is a headache and most mothers dread this time because it may include your poor kiddo getting SHOTS, long wait times, as well as high doctor bills. Luckily for Dereon his shots were current, he only needed a physical. Excited to hear this I called to make him an appointment with his doctor. Sad to say Mommy was SO behind! When I called the receptionist said his doctor didn’t have any open availability until after September 1st. I asked about another doctor in our network and was told the same thing about him. I was disappointed because the kiddo had to get a physical to start school.

That’s when Walgreens HealthCare clinics came to my rescue! Walgreens HealthCare clinics are running a promotion where you can get your child’s back to school physical done for only $39. It’s normally $60 so I thought this was a huge deal. It is for a limited time only and ends 9/30/2013 so make sure you take advantage of it. But let me tell you how easy the process is. First off you can go online and make your appointment or you can also go to your local Walgreens TakeCare clinic and sign in to be seen the same day or make an appointments for another day. Another great thing is Walgreens HealthCare clinics have flexible hours including evening appointments which is a must for some working moms. I booked the kiddo appointment online for the same day at 6:30 pm. I called to make sure they had the school forms I needed (which is recommended since school forms may vary) and verified what identification would be needed when we arrived and we were all set to go.

#shop easy touch screen sign in screen

When we arrived we went straight to the area designated for the clinic. There was a huge touch screen sign in kiosk that I approached and signed in electronically. As we waited to be called I noticed the face masks, hand sanitizer pumps, Kleenex tissue boxes placed around the sign in desk. Also a phone next to the sign in kiosk where you can talk directly to a representative of the Takecare clinic. We waited about 10 minutes and then Dereon was called. The doctor gave him a thorough exam and was very friendly and knowledgeable. Once the physical was over she signed necessary papers and also asked how we would pay for the visit. What I didn’t know was Walgreens TakeCare clinic takes patients with or without health insurance and you have the options to pay with cash as well. We paid for our services and received our paper work and was free to leave. Since the Walgreens TakeCare clinic we visited is in our neighborhood we were only 5 minutes from home and we didn’t have to deal with finding a park in a busy area or paying for parking in a huge lot.

#shop takecare clinic

Our experience with Walgreens HealthCare clinic was pleasant and super convenient  I recommend others to look online at Walgreens and see if they have a TakeCare clinic in your neighborhood. Keep them in mind for your back to school and work physicals and other minor health issues. You would be surprised on how quick you will be serviced, how close it is to home, and how they work around your availability while offering services extremely less than a traditional office clinic.

#Shop promo sign

#shop Stay well

Cheap and fun things to do with your kids this summer break!

Still have a few weeks until the kids go back to school?

summer

Yay to not having to wake up extra early in the morning to get the kiddo to school. And yay to not having to wash uniforms and yay to not having to beg them to go to bed by 9pm. But what about when you wake up at 9am and the kiddo is hungry and cereal won’t cut it? Oh what about it’s 11am and you hear “It’s boring mom!” The questions open like a flood gate. Can Justin come over? Can we go to Great America? I know you made a huge breakfast, but now I’m hungry and I want lunch but no PB&J today we had that for lunch yesterday? Sigh.

Well I totally understand what you are going through here are some fun and cheap things to do with the kiddos this summer!

McDonald’s Playland
Yes, for many reasons. If you have more than one child going out to eat is pretty expensive and sometimes just isn’t in the budget even having one child it gets pricey going out to eat so of course McDonald’s has a dollar menu as well as reasonable prices kids meals. Plus they have a little healthier alternatives now. The kids get sliced apples with their meals as well as the option to have milk instead of soda.

The Beach
Oh yes the infamous beach. If you are a city girl like myself you only visit the beach in the summer maybe quickly In the spring but most likely the kiddos only get to go in the summer so don’t rob them of their sand filled buckets and pop bottle experience 😉 the beach is free some places here in Chicago make you pay to park, but you can always take CTA if that’s an issue. Visit Dollar Tree or any dollar store and grab sand buckets, water guns, kites, a few snacks and enjoy a family day at the beach. The children will remember the beauty of that day and your pockets shouldn’t be too empty.

The Zoo
I know I need to walk around the Zoo a few times a week to shed some pounds, but also it’s a great place to take the kiddos. Animals, petting zoo, sometimes even group activities and musical performances. Check out your local Zoo website and you will be amazed of the activities they have planned for your little ones this summer and all through out the year.

Library
Here in Chicago our public Libraries teamed up and launched a reading program to keep the kiddos reading during the summer and as a reward they can earn prizes. I entered Dereon and he has been trying to keep a book in his hands once a day at least. If you aren’t in Chicago try your local library and see if they have any reading programs or activiies during the day.

Park District
Summer camp is one of Dereon’s favorite summer activity and it’s very helpful for me. During the day he can goes to his sports camp at the local park. They teach him the basic basketball, football, soccer, and baseball moves and rules. They take weekly field trips and they also talk about nutrion and offer swimming classes. The fee is reasonable and covers everything including lunch! Also the kid has made new friends and got an awesome sun tan=)

Bowling Alley
Take a field trip to the bowling alley. Catch dirt low prices during the week and keep practicing until strike is your middle name. Oh and make sure you and the kids take funny photos with the vintage chic bowling shoes.

Skating Rink
Oh you have extra smooth moves? Showcase them on the shiny skating rink. Your kid would love to see you fly gracefully or fall on your face as a cool summer day activity. The chances of finding free or cheap lessons and helpful skating tips are easy around the summer months just make sure you call ahead and double check that there is no huge group trips planned the day you attend.

The summer isnt over yet. Lets keep our children busy and active!

KId and Man free vacation? Top 5 budget friendly Girl’s Night out ideas for moms

Just made it back last night from an all girl trip to Miami. Our stay was Wednesday morning til Sunday night. We had a blast! Tried lots of new things, had cocktails, went clubbing and did all kinds of sight seeing. It was. Incredible. I left the kiddo and the Hubz at home. They both had camp and work so they were busy, but I first felt guilty when I boarded the plane. I would be over 1,000 miles away from the both of them. Having fun without them. Was I wrong?

No! Every woman/mom deserves a break. Some time to themselves to unwind and relax. We give so much daily. I was reminded en route to Miami that nothing good can come from an empty person and I embraced my trip. I relished the fact I could be off mommy mode for a while. Have a few drinks, dance a little and get up to do it all over again. I didn’t have to set the alarm (other than for our planned tours) I didn’t have to wait until my son was sleep to have a drink. I didn’t need to request a kiddie menu, didnt have to listen to whatever sporting event was going on the TV and lastly I didn’t have to do anything unless I wanted to. Which is very uncommon if you are a wife, mom, or a caring woman period.

Don’t get me wrong I missed my husband and son tremendously when we landed I was so excited to hug and kiss them and to hear all about their adventures while I was gone. I couldn’t wait to hear how they missed me and how they realized I was the glue that kept our family together and organized (I didn’t hear that but a girl can dream right?) I wanted to be in MY bed again and I wanted to take a break from my vacation since I was partied out. I love being a mom and a wife. I love my son and husband more than I love myself, but every now and a then a sister needs to get back to the center. I think my 5 day break made us all appreciate the love and unity in our home.

This trip taught me a very important lesson…All girls vacations are great! Woman need to treat themselves every once in a while. It’s OK to take a break. Being a mom, a wife, or a woman in general is a full time job and we never totally stop for a breather which causes us to have melt downs. Here are some cool, cheap, and fun things to do with your girls if going on a vacation may not be in the budget for you right now:

1. Do a staycation! call your girls up and book a hotel in your city. Since you won’t need airfare try to book a 4 or 5 star hotel that way you could feel a little fancy. The goal is to experience new and different things and to unwind. While in the big city or the resort in your local area go sightsee, visit places the tourist go and find out about your city or town. You would be amazed about how much history you uncover.

2. Toy party!! That’s right get the girls together and book an adult toy rep for a Friday night girls night “X-rated” style. Have appetizers, cocktails, games and prizes. Remind the ladies no men allowed. This choice is loads of fun and not so much cash needed.

3. Waterpark fun! Find your local indoor waterpark and a have a field trip Splash Style! Girls like water too. Enjoy the daring slides, fun wave pool, and the funnel cakes. It all about having fun and letting loose you can enjoy splashing around without having to have to keep checking and watching your child(ren).

4. Sleep over!! Redbox or Netflix. Pizza or Chinese. With a few cartons of ice cream oh and don’t forget the popcorn! Make a few pallets in the front room and watch all the romantic movies your heart can take. Play truth or dare or “I’ve never” and watch the room get live.

5. Class is in session! Sign all the girls up for a class like flirty girl Pole Dance, Line Dance, Belly Dance or even swimming. Doing something all as a group makes it so much fun and also healthy for your crew’s body and soul!

Our Adventure: The 2013 Taste of Chicago |The Humana Experience

Last Wednesday me and my little family ventured to the 2013 Taste of Chicago. And we had a blast! Our first stop was the Humana Experience booth. Dereon was treated like an “adult” registered in and encouraged to try the fitness challenges. Once he received his pedometer he kept tracking his number of steps the whole day. We tried food off the Humana Passport Healthy guide and all I can keep thinking about is those tacos from Carbon grill. I got my passport stamped and had an tasty taco! Last but not least we were able to take a family picture in the photobooth as a keepsake. It was a very nice touch and a overall great experience they were right calling their area the Humana Experience because it truly was one. Check out some of our pictures.

 

And congrats to our Giveaway Winner Raijean Stroud that won 24 Food Tickets to this year’s Taste!

This was a sponsored post, but my thoughts were my own.