Maria Smith

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Ikea 2015 Catalog is Here! Enter to win a $100 giftcard!

2015 Ikea catalog is now available
It's no secret that I love Ikea.  I am, after all, one of their key demographic.  I am a mom.  I like things inexpensive, but not cheap.  I am a fan of modern furnishings. I big-fat-puffy-heart warm cinnamon rolls (especially when I can get six of them for $4). Throw in a supervised kids area, kids eat free days, 'families with kids' parking, and a convenient, central location in Atlanta and it's not hard to see why Ikea is my happy place!

So you understand why I was thrilled to be invited to their blogger/media event for the unveiling of the 2015 Ikea catalog. I got to spend time with some of my favorite bloggers, eat some delish Ikea food, and hear all about the latest and greatest additions to the Ikea store. I also received a gift card for attending.  (Totally the icing on the proverbial cinnamon roll.)  Right after the event, I headed out on a seven hour trip to Myrtle Beach so I had plenty of time to peruse the 2015 Ikea catalog and decide what updates my house "needs".

Have you requested your 2015 Ikea catalog? You totally should! The retro idea of actually having a book to page through is very cool.  Of course, you can also download a digital copy to your smartphone or tablet if you're so inclined. You also get a coupon for a FREE meal just for requesting a catalog. (If you're in Atlanta, bring that coupon and the kids on Tuesday and everyone eats for free!)

Want to win $100 gift card to spend on the 2015 Ikea catalog (or anything else in the store)? Leave a comment below about what you would buy and then enter the contest below.  The contest will run from August 1-30 and one lucky winner will win a $100 Ikea gift card! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Homestyle Veggie Plate = Slimmer Sides for Summer at Picadilly

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Piccadilly Restaurants for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Salad 4 photo 0267f672-1519-4022-a8cd-e1b7cccdb694_zps55bd1ca0.pngI'm trying to be healthy. I play tennis, take Zumba, and run. I only eat turkey or chicken for meat.  I have focused on choosing more whole grains, fruits and vegetables in my diet.  It's hard as a mom but I know I need to be an example for my children.  So when the fine folks at Piccadilly Restaurants Salad 1 photo ced61599-0001-474c-b7ac-3034ba31c39f_zps9cd9cecb.pngasked me to introduce you all to their new "healthy as you want to be" Homestyle Veggie Plate promotion , I was very interested.  
I like the idea of not being forced to choose a meat!  Guests who choose the Homestyle Veggie Plate can pick three sides and add their choice of freshly baked bread, all for $5.49. You know I love that price! With the Homestyle Veggie Plate, you can choose from an array of sides including everything from broccoli florets and fruit salad, to smothered okra, French fries and carrot soufflĂ©. Like I said...healthy as you want to be! Being able to taste a little bit of everything, and keep the calories in check, is really important to me.  Check out all of Piccadilly’s menu of sides online. 
Anyone who has spent a number of years in the South knows that Piccadilly is a hometown favorite for good ol' Southern home cooking. The restaurant chain, known as Piccadilly Cafeteria back then, first opened in 1932 in Baton Rouge, La. Today, there are approximately 60 restaurants and 80 food service locations all across the southeast. Never been? Go check them out! Haven't been in forever because you think the food will all be smothered and gravy-covered? Come back to see how things have changed! For more information on the Homestyle Veggie Plate promotion please visit www.piccadilly.com, like them out on Facebook  or follow @EatPiccadilly on Twitter.
Salad 2 photo 9fbbdbf9-4cee-4e1e-9317-6fc3b6694cb2_zps4875a012.pngSalad 4 photo 0267f672-1519-4022-a8cd-e1b7cccdb694_zps55bd1ca0.pngWhat is your favorite Piccadilly meal? Which sides would you choose for this Homestyle Veggie Plate promotion? (I think I'd go with broccoli florets, fruit salad and carrot soufflĂ©.  Everything in moderation...!)
Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kids Birthday Party Venue: Main Event Entertainment center

Main Event Alpharetta, Kids birthday party venue
Looking for a unique kids birthday party venue?  Check out Main Event Entertainment center!  I ALWAYS find myself in the predicament of looking for a different kids birthday party venue. Being a "mom of many", I need three things when it comes to hosting a birthday party: Easy, Affordable, and Fun. I heard about a new "entertainment center", Main Event-Alpharetta and it seems to have all three!  I think this might be the place for my son's upcoming 6th birthday party!  

Not near Alpharetta? Main Event has 18 current or coming soon entertainment centers in Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Georgia.  Main Event Entertainment is the fastest-growing family entertainment center in the US. The 65,000 square foot Alpharetta location opened last month, and a new location in Atlanta's Cumberland Mall area will open later this year. Main Event centers pride themselves on knowing how to throw a great kids birthday party and are consistently voted as "best birthday party venue" in their markets.

Main Event Alpharetta, Kids birthday party venueI like the kids birthday party options at Main Event because it is one-stop-shopping.  They handle all the details so moms don't have to.  The kids can explore their multi-level laser tag arena, bowl, play the virtual and interactive games, and/or maneuver through the "gravity ropes obstacle course".  (Know that kids must be 48" or taller for the ropes course and laser tag.)  Every birthday party package include a birthday balloon bouquet, plates, silverware, cups, drinks and choice of food from their party menu. They even give the guests a $5 or $10 arcade card (depending on the birthday party package booked).  There is even a birthday party package that also includes a souvenir bowling pin as a take home prize. All parents need to bring is the cake and maybe a goody bag...if you feel you must. Kids birthday parties start at $13.95/person (minimum of 10 children) and even the most expensive option is just $19.95/person.

Main Event also has specific birthday party options for those hard-to-please tweens and teens and even adults too. Just remember that they need at least 72 hours advance notice for all party packages.  Want to save some money?  Book parties on a Sunday through Thursday to get the $5 arcade card upgraded to $10!  Want to save even more?  All parties booked in July and August get a $25 discount! 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Main Event-Alpharetta and these opinions are my own. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

#BackToSchool is upon us! #GoBackHealthy with @MinuteClinic #ad

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own. 

Back to school time is upon us.  Ok...so it might just be upon me and my fellow Atlantans but it is coming soon everywhere else. And I am NOT READY. I have no paper, notebooks, or the 10 boxes of tissues I'm supposed to bring in 2 weeks from now.  And I have will have two kids in grade school this year.  I need to get started...like yesterday.

Feeling a little overwhelmed myself, I was really intrigued when I heard that MinuteClinic at CVS is offering a variety of back-to-school vaccinations so moms can take that one back to school item off their list. I just spent two days in the doctor's office this summer getting updated vaccination records for summer camp and it was A PAIN to say the least. You don't want your kids don't miss their first day so it's important to know your state's requirements for vaccinations such as meningitis and pertussis. (To find out which vaccinations are required in your area, go here.)

Got some soccer, volleyball or football players this Fall?  MinuteClinic also offers pre-participation sports physicals for just $39 (that's $20 off!). Even if it's not required, it's important to make sure your little ones are healthy enough to participate. It might just be for "mom" peace of mind but at $39 that's well worth the price. And though I am far from thinking about this, anyone who has kids leaving home for college should know MinuteClinic offers college physicals too. No matter the age of your "little" one, make sure they start off on the right (and healthy!) foot.

MinuteClinic is also offering a FREE $22 coupon book when you visit. (No purchase necessary. Available while supplies last through 12/1/14.) So go on in and check them out.  And while you're there can you pick me up 4 wide-rule notebooks, 2 reams of typing paper, 5 differently colored folders with the three-prong inserts, 2 packages of washable markers, 1 box of plastic baggies...etc..etc...

[VIDEO] "Planes: Fire and Rescue" is a movie for everyone


Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue Extended Trailer on Disney Video
I had the pleasure of taking two of my sons to a complimentary preview screening of Planes: Fire and Rescue this week.  To say they were excited was an understatement. They have been seeing the MANY commercials during all their favorite Disney Jr. shows lately and have been asking to see it for weeks. Truth be told, I wanted to see it too!  And we were not disappointed.

I love how Planes: Fire and Rescue didn't have any bad guys, or monsters, or things that jump out. The scariest part in the movie was a forest fire, and quite frankly, that's something my kids should be scared about.  There was a sweet overall message about doing the right thing and taking care of friends instead of thinking about one's self.  And it was funny.  There were more than a few parts when I LOL'd and my kids asked me why I was laughing. I like those kind of movies.

Even though I just took my boys to this screening, this is not necessarily a "boy" movie.  My daughter would have loved it and I plan to take her soon.  The whole family could really enjoy this movie with no need to worry about sensitive kids remembering some scary character a bedtime (like the giant snowman in "Frozen" which kept us up for several nights).  Planes: Fire and Rescue was a hit with my crew!

Planes: Fire and Rescue opens TODAY July 18, 2014. Here's the boiler plate from Disney/Pixar:
Rated: PG
“Planes: Fire & Rescue” is a new comedy-adventure about second chances, featuring a dynamic crew of elite firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park from raging wildfire. When world-famous air racer Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter Blade Ranger (voice of Ed Harris) and his courageous team, including spirited air tanker Dipper (voice of Julie Bowen), heavy-lift helicopter Windlifter (voice of Wes Studi), ex-military transport Cabbie (voice of Captain Dale Dye) and a lively bunch of brave all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero. Directed by Bobs Gannaway (“Secret of the Wings”) and produced by Ferrell Barron (“The Fox and the Hound 2”), “Planes: Fire & Rescue” hits theaters in 3D on July 18, 2014.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I'm the @HeartofHaiti Ambassador for #TypeAParent Conference

Heart of Haiti products from Macy's
Heart of Haiti products are all handmade.
I am feeling really grateful right now. I was selected by the representatives at Everywhere, an Atlanta-based digital marketing agency, to represent the Heart of Haiti collection at the Type-A Parent conference this Fall.  Obviously, it's always nice to win anything, and in this case a ticket to one of the hottest blogging conferences and a hotel stay at the conference hotel, the Grand Hyatt Buckhead, are certainly great prizes.  But this ambassadorship is not about me...it's about telling YOU about the great work Heart of Haiti is doing.

Heart of Haiti is a collection of products all handmade by amazing artisans of Haiti and sold at select Macy's and on macys.com.  Using primarily recycled materials, the collection includes beautiful items for the home. Quilts, jewelry, vases, picture frames, candle holders, and more are included. Each item comes with an individual hangtag designed to connect cultures through business, art and understanding.

The sales of Heart of Haiti products at Macy's put real, sustainable income into the hands of the artisans who create them, changing their lives in remarkable ways. These artists are able to become entrepreneurs and business owners. They are able to take care of their families, to educate their children, to pull themselves out of the clutches of poverty, because of this program.

Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively at select Macy’s (25 stores including 5 flagships) and on macys.com through a unique partnership with Fair Winds Trading and The Clinton Foundation. Heart of Haiti is built upon the principle of trade instead of aid. The sales of these works put real, sustainable income into the hands of the artisans who create them, changing their lives in remarkable ways.  These people don't want a hand out...they want a hand up.  I'm beyond thrilled to be a part, however tiny, of promoting this fantastic collection.

Please follow @HeartofHaiti on Twitter and like them on Facebook. They are being the change they want to see in the world.  I'm happy to tag along.

Disclosure:  I will receive a conference pass to Type A blogging conference and hotel accommodations at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead as a Heart of Haiti Ambassador.  Truth is, I'd tell you about them anyway. But I love how they are giving me a hand up too.

Passing on my LOVE for tennis

Maria playing tennis
I am not a great tennis player.  But I do love to play. I'm an athlete at heart and so I can play just about anything relatively well but tennis is something I've continued to play over the years because I just have fun playing, not because I always win.  I love that I can be strong and tall and athletic but also feel feminine in those oh-so-cute tennis outfits. (I mean...even if you don't like tennis you have to admit the sport's wardrobe is the best.)  I've recently gotten back to playing and every time I'm on the court I just have fun!  I even joined an ALTA team (which is the biggest recreational tennis organization in the country) this Fall.

Two oldest kids with tennis racquetsNow that I've gotten back into it, I want my kids to learn to love this game too.  They spent a week at Concourse Athletic Club in Sandy Springs (which was gratis in return for telling you all about it) learning the basics of tennis and getting a huge jump start into playing the game well. The tennis director, Issac Yarell, is very hands-on and doesn't baby the kids.  He expects a lot out of them and it is amazing how kids rise to the level of expectations. My kids had such a great time, they begged to cancel another camp and come back to tennis camp again.  I love that and signed them up for another week!
Want to immerse your child in the sport of tennis?  The Youth Tennis Camp at Concourse Athletic Club will do that for you.  They still have openings available for the final three weeks of summer!  The camp runs Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Cost: $300/members $325/non-members. For more information contact the Tennis Desk or Isaac Yarell at 770.698.2080 or iyarrell@wellbridge.com.  In addition to hours of tennis instruction, they also swim everyday and have time for fun and games.  And by the way, Concourse Athletic Club is an amazing facility with a very posh, country club feel

In addition to tennis camp, I'm taking the kids to a real live professional tennis match this weekend for the opening matches of the BB&T Atlanta Open at Atlantic Station.  It's Kids Weekend so kids 18 and under get in free with an adult. I love that they have activities for all ages and keep the kids entertained.  Truth is, I've never been to a professional tennis match in person so I'm stoked that the nice PR folks for BB&T Atlanta Open invited me!  

Disclosure: I received complimentary camp registrations and tickets to the BB&T Atlanta Open in order to facilitate a review. My opinions are always my own though.