Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Deep Sea Wines Review

There are some things I DEFINITELY don't mind reviewing and one of them was THIS. Deep Sea Wines sent me a bottle of chardonnay and red wine to review and, my friends? I smiled a very large smile when I opened that box!
Photo credit, Ian Shive

As some of you may know, I adore all white wines. Cheap or expensive; I'm not picky. At about 20-$30 for a bottle of Deep Sea Wine, the cost is a bit more than I can normally afford, but well worth it (in my non-expert opinion!).

I will say though, that I usually detest red wines. As in, "ICK! Don't even get near me with a glass because the smell alone makes me a bit grossed out..." Since I was reviewing both the red AND the chardonnay, I delved into the bottle of red last night with a friend (who DOES like red!). 3 glasses later, and I was singing a new tune! Believe it or not, I actually LIKED the Deep Sea Red! I won't go so far as to say that I loved it as much as the chardonnay (because nothing compares to my love for white wine...) but for me to not only finish a glass but to continue drinking it until I actually get buzzed says A LOT.

Deep Sea Wines have offered all of you a chance to try their wine at a great discount! If you use the code VINO at the "Enter Coupon" button during check-out, you will receive 30% off of your purchase!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A day at the Adler Planetarium

The Adler Planetarium has a new exhibit! Called "Planet Explorers", it is a fabulous, hands-on experience. Though it is geared towards the 3-8 crowd, all of my kids (ages 4-11) enjoyed the exhibit! It was great to sit down and watch them crawl through the tunnels of Planet X and bounce foam-balls on the Moon*. Corinne's favorite part of the entire MUSEUM was the section of the exhibit which had us walking through a tunnel of darkness and mirrors to simulate walking in space. (4 times, folks. She dragged me through that tunnel FOUR TIMES.) I will have to suggest to Adler that they rethink the digging material in the first section of Planet Explorers, though. That teensy, rubbery stuff stuck to EVERYTHING and I am still picking it out of Corinne's pigtails...

My children are very hands-on when it comes to museums and exhibits. All 3 were interested in the telescopes, infrared, and ancient astronomy pieces. We learned about how astronomy has changed through the ages. And everyone was interested in the interactive exhibits on the Solar System - Especially blasting our own craters and driving on Mars!

I found it unfortunate that our general admission tickets at the planetarium doesn't include at least ONE of the many shows available. As Justin said, "Isn't that what a planetarium is all about?" Though our own tickets were complimentary for this review, had I paid for the entrance fees of simply general admission, it would have cost us $50 for the 5 of us. Had we wanted to upgrade to the Galaxy package which DOES include 1 show and another amenity, it would have doubled. If we wanted unlimited access to all that Adler has available, it becomes $125 for our entire family! That price seems absolutely astronomical** to me. Especially when you include parking of $16! I find it sad that the wonderful museums of Chicago aren't always available to the families of the surrounding areas due to their high prices. If you are able to take advantage of the free days offered by the Chicago museums, I highly recommend checking out this site:

But, all in all, we had a good time and are really grateful that we were able to experience some of what Adler has to offer. I do recommend checking out the new exhibit for the younger siblings!

* Wish that my camera's batteries hadn't gone dead before I could snap any pictures!
** I never tire of puns...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter and Musselman's Applesauce

When the good people at Musselman's sent me some applesauce, cinnamon and a cookie cutter, I grinned. Mainly because Corinne LOVES applesauce, but also because HOW CUTE is that cookie cutter?!? Adorable, that's how cute. (I have a thing for cookie cutters. They make me smile...)

Since applesauce doesn't go into sugar cookies, I was a bit perplexed as to what they wanted me to do with the cookie cutter until I read the little insert with the recipe for the bunny place cards/decorations. DUH! Justin and I used the same recipe in Cub Scouts for Christmas ornaments! It's the easiest thing, too. Basically, you use equal parts of applesauce and cinnamon (with a tiny touch extra of cinnamon if it's too gooey) to make a dough. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper, cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and bake on low until hardened and voila! Instant decorations that smell divine.

We used a pen to make little holes at the top of each bunny. Once they had cooled, we threaded some leftover ribbons through and glued on pastel pom poms to make our Easter bunnies just a touch cuter.
And then? Then we made 2 batches of applesauce/oatmeal/raisin cookies and served them on froggy plates. Simply because they're DAMN GOOD.

Applesauce Oatmeal cookies

1/3 C butter or margarine
2/3 C packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 C flour
1 1/4 C rolled oats

Mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and baking soda until blended. Add the egg and applesauce and blend. Beat in the flour and then stir in the oats by hand. (add raisins if you 'd like!)

Drop by teaspoons onto and ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for about 8-11 minutes (lightly browned). Makes about 30 cookies that even my pickiest eater likes. Plus? They're not too horrible for you (as cookies go)...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Little Black Ant on Park Street review

I received a children's book to review the other day titled "Little Black Ant on Park Street" and I have to say, I'm so happy to have it in our family's library. Knowing how much Evan adores ants (and I mean ADORES. We have ant farms and pet ants and he is forever sitting on the sidewalk beside the grass, studying how they move and walk.) he was enthralled with it and has read it several times already!
Illustrated by Kathleen Rietz and written by Janet Halfmann, the pictures are absolutely beautiful to accompany a sweet story about a little ant's adventures in an ordinary yard.

Little Black Ant on Park Street is part of the Smithsonian's Backyard collection. This grouping of children's books is focused on the animals that our kids may find in their own backyards. The habitats, life cycles and other important facts about ants, bullfrogs, badgers and more come to life through the lovely artwork and age appropriate descriptions.

I highly recommend them all!