Win 4 Tickets To Wet ‘N’ Wild Phoenix!

May 27, 2016 in Family Fun, Giveaways, Play

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Schools out for summer…yay! How are you planning on staying cool and keeping the kiddos busy during the summer? One of the best ways to do this in Phoenix is to head over to Wet ‘n’ Wild water park!

Here is an awesome deal they are having this weekend for Memorial Day:

Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix Salutes our Country’s Heroes 

With Fireworks and Free Admission Memorial Weekend

Up to Six Immediate Family Members Also Receive Half Off Admission

WHAT:           Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix located in North Phoenix near I-17, on Pinnacle Peak Road, would like to thank our country’s heroes during our “Salute to Heroes” Memorial Weekend Celebration with a breathtaking fireworks show Sunday night, May 29.  Additionally, on May 28, 29 and 30, 2016, veterans, members of the active U.S. military as well as first responders (active duty police, fire and EMT) can enjoy a day of fun at Arizona’s largest water park for FREE. Up to six immediate family members will receive also half off admission – $21.50 plus tax – during this special weekend. Offer valid at the park only.

  • One free admission per ID per day
  • All tickets must be used on day of distribution only
  • Must have a valid government issued ID or badge

WHEN:          

Saturday, May 28, Sunday May 29 and Monday May 30, 2016

10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday

10 a.m.  – 9 p.m. Sunday (Fireworks approximately 8:45 p.m.)

10 a.m. till 8 p.m. on Monday

WHERE:        

Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix

4243 W. Pinnacle Peak Road

Glendale, AZ 85310

*First responders are defined as active duty police, sheriff, highway patrol; active duty firefighters; active duty EMT and Paramedics.  

GIVEAWAY: One lucky reader will 4 tickets to Wet ‘n’ Wild!

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National Women’s Health Week May 8-14!

May 11, 2016 in health

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Solis Mammography.

Photo Credit: Solis Mammography

Photo Credit: Solis Mammography

This week May 8-14 is National Women’s Health Week. I know we as women get so busy taking care of those around us, we forget to take care of ourselves.

Solis Mammography, with over 29 locations including locations in Arizona, is a great resource for women’s health. They know women are busy so appointments can even be made online.

  • American Cancer Society just released their 2015-2016 Breast Cancer Facts & Figures report where they estimate in 2015, 231,840 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and of that, 46,350 (20 percent) were diagnosed under the age of 50.

Solis Infographic

That is a staggering statistic that all women should take very seriously! Early detection is so crucial and not something we like to speak about. Here are some things to consider.

  • Early Detection Matters – Think of food sizes (Source: ‘Feel for Yourself – Breast Lump Display’ ©1987, 2013 HEALTH EDCO®.)
    • Pea size: Average-size lump found by regular repeat mammograms

    • Lima Bean size: Average-size lump if found in first mammogram

    • Grape size: Average-size lump found by women practicing regular self-exams

    • Brussel Sprout size: Average-size lump found by women practicing occasional self-exams

    • Walnut size: Average-size lump found by woman untrained in self-exams

Please ladies, let’s be proactive with our health so that we can stick around for those that se care about the most!

Top 3 Reasons To See Annie At Gammage!

May 6, 2016 in Play, reviews

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So, I attended my first live musical the other day at Gammage Auditorium. Let me just say that it was phenomenal!

Here’s what I loved about the performance:

  1. The cast – I am so accustom to watching movies and television shows. I’m sure they have so many outtakes of each scene and the editors are working like crazy to make everything come together. Well, with a live show, the cast has to be perfect! Would I have known if they made a mistake? Possibly but everything looked pretty flawless to me. From the older cast down to the youngest, everyone seemed so comfortable with their lines that it was seamless!
  2. The props – Let me just say WOW! The props and backdrops were so realistic. The way the lighting was adjusted on certain backdrops allowed them to change the time of day from daytime to nighttime. I’m not sure if it was my imagination but one of the outdoor scenes depicted a cloudy day and I swear one of the clouds looked like the mask from Phantom of the Opera!
  3. The music – So many of the songs in this play are classics. The orchestra played every piece beautifully and the cast had amazing voices.

AnniePlayBill

If you have never attended a play or musical like Annie, I really encourage you to go. My boys were not able to go with me this time but I will be sure to take them with me in the future. I saw so many young girls in attendance and they were just mesmerized. I’m sure many of them have dreams of one day acting on stage just like the one at Gammage.

Annie will be at Gammage through May 8th. So be sure to grab your tickets before they are sold out!

Also, be sure to checkout my prior post where I interview the mother of Heidi Gray, the young girl that portrays Annie.

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review!

May 6, 2016 in Disney, Movies

Disclosure: One person plus a guest were invited to preview this movie in exchange for an honest review.
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To mangle a line from another superhero universe, Captain America: Civil War is the movie we need, not the movie we want. While most fans were eager for another installment of the expanding Marvel universe, I don’t think any of us were really looking forward to seeing the team divided and battered as they are throughout this film.
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The movie picks up a year after Avengers: Age of Ultron (do yourself a favor and watch it and Captain America: The Winter Soldier beforehand or you’ll be hopelessly lost) as the Avengers foil yet another bad guy, but not without the attendant collateral damage of chases and big explosions. That leads to drawn-out discussions of blame, responsibility, control, freedom, politics, and vigilanteism that are going to go over younger kids’ heads. The team quickly divides into two camps, helpfully shorthanded #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan.
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The teams draw in some minor players and rising stars, including fan favorite Ant-Man (to cheers in our theater) and Black Panther (who will get his own movie in 2018). Another standout is Tom Holland as the awkwardly eager Spider-Man. On the basis of his appearance in Captain America, I’ll be in line for the Spider-Man movie next year.
The major players all have good motives, but children are going to see their heroes pummeling each other with lethal weapons — themselves and their gadgets. And if you’ve ever wondered who would win in a Captain America/Iron Man fight, the answer is: neither ultimately. That’s harder to watch, and infinitely less satisfying than seeing them vanquish villains. While the 146-minute movie doesn’t end in a cliffhanger, Marvel is willing to leave many loose ends and divisions unresolved until the next set of films.
If you’re a Marvel fan, you need to see this intense, complex movie.
Bonus: Watch for the Star Wars reference during the airport scene!

Celebrate Mother’s Day at Mimi’s Cafe!

May 2, 2016 in dining deals, Eat

 

 

 

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Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend, May 8th and I hope you are ready to spoil your mom in a big way! Why not take mom out for a nice meal so she can have a break from cooking?

Mimi’s Cafe is a perfect choice to take mom for her big day! They will have a special brunch menu served until 2pm along with a special 3 course menu that will be served after 11am. You will be able to choose a soup or salad, an entree and then a dessert, all for $16.99. Some items are $1 extra and are clearly marked on the menu for you.

TillamookMac

My family had a chance to try out some of these yummy items that will be featured on Mother’s Day. My husband chose the Chicken Tillamook Cheddar Mac with pulled chicken in a rich Tillamook Creamery cheddar sauce, crumbled bacon, penne pasta and Parmesan crust. Cheese and bacon, what an awesome combo!

Salmon

The great thing about this Mother’s Day menu at Mimi’s Cafe is that there is something for everyone. I didn’t feel like eating pasta so I decided to try the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with a light Chardonnay Dijon sauce, sautéed garlic spinach and roasted potatoes. this entree is $1 extra but well worth it!

dessert

And of course, now the dessert! We had such a hard time deciding on just one that we tried two. The Strawberry Shortcake Crepe Cake and Key Lime Slab Pie. They were both really light and refreshing desserts. I loved the layers of crepe and shortcake together as well as the tartness of the lime in the Key Lime Pie!

Mimi’s loves mother’s so much that they will also be giving out coupons for a free entree that can be used in a future visit until May 29th. Why May 29th? That’s the day that Mother’s Day is celebrated in France. Of course Mimi’s Cafe wants to keep with their French heritage!

Be sure to checkout the special Mimi’s Cafe Mother’s Day menu and start planning an extra special Mother’s Day for your mom!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Mimi’s Cafe. All opinions are my own.

Iced Coffee Deal at Dunkin’ Donuts!

April 29, 2016 in dining deals, Eat, Giveaways

iced coffee dunkin donuts

Do you need at least one cup of coffee to get your through the day? Well, I have awesome news for you…May 2nd is “Iced Coffee Day” and Dunkin’ Donuts will be offering $1.49 iced coffee all day! This yummy deal will be offered through September 1st at participating Phoenix area Dunkin’ Donuts.

The weather is warming up so an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts is the perfect combination of cool treat and energizing boost! I love the hazelnut nut iced coffees from Dunkin’ Donuts with a little bit of cream – YUM!

GIVEAWAY:

One lucky reader will win a $25 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card!

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Annie is Coming to Gammage May 4-8!

April 20, 2016 in Family Fun, Play

Photo Credit: ©JOAN MARCUS Heidi Gray as Annie and Macy    as Sandy

Photo Credit: ©JOAN MARCUS
Heidi Gray as Annie and Macy as Sandy

I have a confession to make, I have never been to a play. Especially one that takes place at an amazing theater like ASU Gammage. Many times I’ve thought of going and then get too busy or just plain forget about purchasing tickets.

Photo Credit: ©JOAN MARCUS Heidi Gray as Annie, Gilgamesh Taggettas Oliver Warbucks and Chloe Tisoas Grace Farrell in “I Don’t Need Anything but You”

Photo Credit: ©JOAN MARCUS
Heidi Gray as Annie, Gilgamesh Taggettas Oliver Warbucks and Chloe Tisoas Grace Farrell in “I Don’t Need Anything but You”

I’m excited to announce that the musical Annie is coming to the ASU Gammage Theater May 4-8, 2016! I can’t wait to see this production. Sure, Ive seen the movie but watching a live performance on stage sounds so incredible. I can’t imagine all of the hard work and practice that goes into each and every performance.

I had the opportunity to interview Heather Coughenour, whose daughter Heidi Gray plays Annie. She gave some interesting insights and advice to those that dream of theater performance or acting.

Heather and Heidi

How long has your daughter been performing on stage? 
9 years total. She started when she was around three performing in church choir and ballet. Then when she was in kindergarten she asked us if she could go to Broadway. We were caught off guard as to how she knew what Broadway was because we had never discussed it. She said she had seen in the movie “The Little Mermaid” that they performed in a place called Broadway where they acted out the movie with song, dance, and costumes. We then looked up summer camps at our local community theatre that we had heard wonderful things about and she had her first role in camp and we could tell she absolutely loved it. Her first lead role was as Marie the Cat in the Aristocats with the Augusta Junior Players and in the ensemble in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for the Augusta Players main stage.
Is Annie her first leading role and what other parts has she played?
Yes as far as in the professional category, but in our local community theatre (www.augustaplayers.org) she has held many lead roles: Little Cosette, Gretyl, Grace Smythe, Small Fiona, Sphrintze , The Blue Fairy, and Leslie Burke over a period of seasons with them. She also has studied dance with Augusta West dance and taken piano lessons for years. She sings with a local performing group named VOCE that is a children’s choir in addition to the above activities. 
 
I would love to hear how she was “discovered.”
We found out about an open call on playbill.com for Annie the Musical. We drove up from SC to the audition and just kept it fun and light and as an experience for her. Joy Dewing Casting and Martin Charnin picked her from a few hundred children to play Annie after 3 days of auditioning with singing, choreography, and a dog call audition. 
 
Everyone probably thinks performing on stage is all glitz and glamour but I’m sure it is very hard work. How many hours per day is Heidi rehearsing and spending time with a tutor? 
The first two weeks the “new tourphans” joined the tour, they practiced for 6 hours a day for two weeks and shadowed the current cast that was performing. Now there are not a whole lot of rehearsals, maybe once a week if needed. A certified teacher works with all the ‘orphans’ during the week on their own schools curriculum. She maintains their daily school work as well as weekly test. All of this can be very challenging when riding a bus, especially if you get motion sick easily or tired from the night before’s show. Only one guardian at a time can be with the children so for Heidi, her Dad is with her while her brother and I stay at home.  She misses her family and friends very much and sometimes during the day there is not a lot of time to catch up with everyone back from home and when she does have free time that is usually when most people are sleeping already. Also, school is very strict as far as keeping your grades and meeting the school hours that are required. The bar is raised high for these kids and they are natural overachievers. They also have to be able to respectfully take direction and quickly implement changes on tour. There could be a show one night and then the next night a change is implemented and they have to go with the flow and adapt rapidly to change. They truly love it though and deliver every time on grades, overcoming tiredness and homesickness, and taking direction.
 
Do you have any other children that are involved in theater? 
No, she has an 8 year old brother, Sam, who plays every sport. He can definitely sing but will do it only for us.
I do consider our community theatre as family though and we have a lot of talent concentrated in our Augusta, GA area due to the awesome training and programs that are offered to the children at a young age.
 
Can you pass on any advice or nuggets of wisdom to other parents that would like their children to get involved with theater and acting?
Start small and locally. Heidi was so shy as a child and would cry during her choir performances at 3 and 4 and she still voiced to us that she wanted to perform. We didn’t give up on her getting that confidence but started small to get her comfortable and to overcome her stage fear. This can be something as small as a ballet class at that age. 
 Let your children blossom in whatever talent God has gifted them in but you must do some house keeping so to speak. If you notice your child has a natural gift in a certain area, then you must advocate for them to get the training they need to fine tune and hone their craft to best of its ability. Even though we knew Heidi had a gift with singing and memorization, that only carried her so far. She has put in the hard work and dedication with the right people and programs. More importantly, those mentors have put hard work into her because she was so eager to learn and respectful to them over the years.
Don’t ever give up and treat each audition as a free lesson in singing and choreography and encourage your child to go into it looking for new skills that will continue to push them in the right direction toward their goal. I promise they will gain new skills on each audition and it is never a waste of time. Heidi auditioned for two years for professional shows in NY before achieving her goal with Annie all while holding lead child roles in local theatre back at home. I never wanted her to feel like any audition was a failure if she didn’t cross the finish line to getting that contract. We kept an open dialogue about each audition and keeping it positive and she always walked away from the “no’s” with learning something new and most importantly meeting friends that were just like her. Keep it light and fun! Follow audition etiquette as a parent when waiting on your child that is auditioning behind that door. Respect others around you always because I promise the people running the audition will pick up on the parents’ overall demeanor too. Every child is different and yes, they are competition for each other, but remember at the end of the day that no one can be your child and each has their own unique qualities to bring to the table and make sure your child feels this too! Let them shut that audition door and let your child spread their wings. 
 
Anything else you’d like to add?
A ‘no’ is sometimes just a ‘no’ for now in this business and not a ‘no’ forever. Just an FYI…she auditioned twice for Annie the musical and most kids do before they are cast in a role. Never give up on their dreams. Performing also comes in many forms and doesn’t have to be in a professional manner if that is their passion. There are many outlets when it comes to performing. 
Be sure to purchase your tickets before this performance sells out. This play is sure to be a favorite to young and old alike!

Jungle Book Movie: A Parent’s Review!

April 15, 2016 in Disney, Family Fun, Movies, Play

Disclosure: This is sponsored post on behalf of Disney’s Jungle Book. We were invited to pre-screen the movie in exchange for your honest review.

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How do you update a 50-year-old classic like The Jungle Book without aping its unique blend of melody and comedy? It’s a tale as old as time as Disney tries to make its animated classics relevant in the new millennium by freshening them as live-action films. Director Jon Favreau and the writers of the new Jungle Book film shrewdly went for a lush, moody interpretation that hearkens back to the Rudyard Kipling book of the same name.

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THE JUNGLE BOOK (Pictured) MOWGLI. ©2016 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The current Jungle Book still owes much to the 1967 animated version, the last movie Walt Disney produced before his death. The famous and familiar music is deftly incorporated, but is reworked for a bolder, darker film. Character development is given higher priority this time around. We see much more of Mowgli’s bond with his adopted wolfpack family, understand Baloo’s motivation to befriend the man-cub, and discover why it’s a personal vendetta for Shere Khan.

Bring out your thesaurus with all the big words to praise the CGI. The depth of the jungle is breathtaking, especially in 3-D. You know it can’t be real because the animals are talking, but your mind wants to believe, because it seems so much more plausible that monkeys really are flinging Mowgli across the treetops. The credits end with the tiny tagline, “Filmed in downtown Los Angeles.” I originally laughed at the joke … until I realized it was completely true. Because everything except Mowgli is green-screen, the movie largely rests on the skinny shoulders of newcomer Neel Sethi. Luckily, he is believable as a petulant pre-teen who is trying overly hard to be a good wolf while slowly realizing he can be so much more.

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THE JUNGLE BOOK – (Pictured) MOWGLI and KING LOUIE ©2015 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Christopher Walken is a standout as the gargantuan King Louie. This is no jazzy buffoon as in the animated movie: Walken’s Louie is truly unnerving, to Mowgli and to the audience. The animators wisely gave him Walken’s signature dead eyes, and Walken’s voice supplied the rest of the menace. All of the animals in the movie are hyper-realistic and oversized, as if we are seeing them from Mowgli’s point of view.

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THE JUNGLE BOOK (Pictured) MOWGLI and BALOO. ©2016 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Despite Sethi’s charm and some light moments with Bill Murray’s slothful slothbear Baloo, this is not a comedy/musical. I’d classify it as an adventure drama with a few comedic and musical moments. Parents thinking of taking younger children should be cautioned — our young hero spends most of the movie in peril from both predators and nature, and the fights between the animals are very realistic. I’d rate this film a strong PG.

One small problem I always found with the animated Jungle Book was its ending. I am happy to report that this Jungle Book supplies both a more satisfying climax and a more plausible conclusion. (It also leaves it open for the sequel that is already rumored!) This is a stunning, worthwhile reboot that stands among the best of Disney’s newer live-action films.

Bonus tip: Stay to watch the clever “book” and song during the credits!

Thanks to our contributor Vikki for this awesome review!

Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches From Baskin-Robbins!

April 12, 2016 in Eat, Giveaways

Photo Credit: Bakin-Robbins Facebook Page.

Photo Credit: Bakin-Robbins Facebook Page.

Do you have a sweet tooth? I know I sure do. Some of my favorite sweet treats are cookies and ice cream. Baskin-Robbins has just introduced Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches so I can have these two together!

The Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches are customizable and made to order. You choose the cookies and then choose your favorite ice cream! You can even mix things up and get two different cookies.

Photo Credit: Baskin-Robbins

Photo Credit: Baskin-Robbins

Checkout the cookie choices:

  • Dark Chocolate Chunk
  • Double Fudge
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate
  • White Chunk Macadamia

I’m thinking Dark Chocolate Chunk cookies with Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream or Peanut Butter cookies with Peanut Butter Chocolate ice cream. Hmmm. So many choices, so little time.

Giveaway:

One lucky reader will win a $31 Baskin-Robbins gift card. That should get you quite a few Warm Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches!

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Giveaway: Kenny Chesney Concert Tickets!

April 8, 2016 in Giveaways

Photo Credit: KennyChesney.com

Photo Credit: KennyChesney.com

Are you a country music fan? Well, Kenny Chesney is coming to Phoenix May 7th. He will be performing at Chase Field with Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt and Old Dominion.

Concert

So, dust off those cowboy boots and pull out that cowboy hat because I have 4 tickets to giveaway to the concert!

Photo Credit: KennyChesney.com

Photo Credit: KennyChesney.com

GIVEAWAY: One lucky winner will win 4 tickets to the Kenny Chesney concert at Chase Field, May 7th, 2016!

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