Tag Archives: kids

An artisanal ice cream boutique

This week my friend Texas and I took our little cowboys with us on our weekly exploration of Miami (weekly exploration described here).


We took in a little Cuban culture and visited Azucar Ice Cream Company on the “main street” (8th Street) in Little Havana, less than 10 minutes from my  house.


Azucar is an artisanal ice cream and sorbet boutique.  Normally I would not indulge an ice cream parlor by repeating their marketing material’s fluffy words, but the creator of Azucar went to Penn State’s Ice Cream University and has her  abuela’s (grandmother’s) passion for creating tropical ice cream flavors “tattooed on her soul”, y’all. These Latino sabores are for real!

The Cafe Con Leche (coffee and Oreo) was to die for and the Elvis(peanut butter and banana) looked fabulous too. My little niños did not venture too far from chocolate and vanilla and honestly, I think both flavors could have received a gold medal for best in their class they were both just perfect (oh the fruity sorbet looked wonderful, but even so I always go for the chocolate, it’s just who I am).

So fellow Miamians if you haven’t been to Little Havana since last July (when they opened), run! Azucar is the ice cream bomb.

And to all the others, when you find yourself in this corner of paradise, Azucar is the sp0t where you can get a little taste of Heaven!




Find all of the information that you need on Azucar here on their website.

The opposite of anonymous

The opposite of anonymous: distinctive, named, known.

I like known.

Being known.

For me, the hardest part about moving across country is leaving the place you are known.

In your home town, friends honk when they see you and wave when they run by.

It might not be true, but it feels like an extra set of eyes are watching your children at school, because the principal knows your name.

The clerk at the laundromat has your dry cleaning pulled and ready to go when she sees your car pull into the parking lot.

Your running group never leaves at 1 minute after your designated meet time because they know you might show up in 5.

When you are sick, or recovering from surgery, you never know which friend or neighbor will show up at the door with dinner, or offer to take your children to play so you can have a quiet house.

And maybe, the waiter at your favorite restaurant will keep your glasses in his front pocket for 3 weeks until you return again, because he just knew you would be back soon.

But then all that knowing gets a little overwhelming.

The more people you know, the more people you have to say good-bye too when you leave.

Sometimes the right words don’t come.

You have to say good-bye to your family, your friends and even people you don’t know very well.

How do you say thank you for the organizational help when you were preparing to show the house, because your friend knows that organizing is really not your “thing?” Or to another that invited the neighborhood and everyone you have ever known in the city to a wonderful goodbye party? And then to your parents that came to every one of their 3 grandchildren’s soccer games, dance recitals, and swim meets not out of obligation but because they really wanted to be there.

The packing and planning and partying and packing and planning and… it all becomes so chaotic, there is a huge crescendo and then you are gone!

You move. And, after you unpack the boxes, and get the kids enrolled in school… it stops.

You become anonymous.

Someone hands you a clean slate.

AFter the craziness that moving can bring the silence of anonymity is nice.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do because you have no obligation.

Want to try a new church? Do it.

Want to be a faceless parent in the PTA, you can try.

Grown tired of the traditional furnishings in your house? Get rid of them. Your new town is full of contemporary furniture stores, why don’t you give it a go?

How about a belly dancing class at the gym? No risk someone you know will see that your hips don’t move like the rest of the class because you don’t know anyone!

Ever wondered if blondes really DO have more fun? Of if it is the red color, not part of their personality that give your sweet carrot topped friends their extra spunk? Why don’t you check it out?

Adding a little adventure to my life has helped ease the pain of leaving home. It has been fun! Thursday I entered La Bella Salon in Coral Gables a brunette and left like this:

Do reds have more fun?

And I have to tell you, I am feeling a little feisty! With this new color, I need to be careful. It might be hard to remain anonymous with my new flaming head.

Have you taken your children to happy hour?

Does my title remind you of the movie Sweet Home Alabama? Reece Witherspoon’s character had returned home and was not too impressed when she saw her highschool friend toting her baby on her hip in the local hang-out: “you have a baby, in a bar?”

My children didn’t seem to mind being at a local happy hour and if we did get any funny Reece Witherspoon looks I didn’t notice because it was loud, we were sitting outside on a beautiful late afternoon and every little Kallaher was eating a delicious dinner.

It was 5:30, and my kids and I had been running errands in South Miami and we were all hungry. That day it felt too late to deal with the stove and I could not face the golden arches.

We were walking back to the car and passed a restaurant I had always wanted to try. I noticed there was outdoor seating, so we took a seat.

We were at Town Kitchen and Bar at 7301 57th Court, South Miami.

The 3 sprites I treated my kids too might have cost more than our food. Well, not quite now that I think about it but it was not very expensive because Town has a happy hour menu that they serve daily from 4-7 pm. We started our meal with calamari that my son recently realized that he likes ($6). The kids shared a Margherita pizza ($8) and I had a tuna avocado on toast concoction ($7) that was quite good while I sipped on my free glass of champagne (that they offer to all adults over 21). Only $25 for dinner at what some critics say is the best restaurant in South Miami and what made it even better was no dishes for me that night!

Friends from Dallas are vacationing on Miami Beach this week and we will only get to see them for one day before we go on our own trip. I wanted to make sure to leave them with a list of restaurants we’ve enjoyed with the kids, because in our family that honestly does not happen very often (I really wish that wasn’t the case but my kids are usually more interested in exploring the new scenery then enjoying their food and sometimes that makes me lose my appetite).

As I completed this list I realized that it worked out pretty well because each spot is in a different part of Miami. If this were a “fun and delicious spots to eat with your children” guide that you followed daily on your vacation, you would get a great tour!

Big Pink 157 Collins Avenue, 33139 (South Beach)
They had us at pink. From the Volkswagen bug parked out front to the seats inside everything here is pink and my girls loved it! It’s like a 1950’s diner covered in cotton candy. Their typical diner faire was definitely not typical. My kids and I went for breakfast after witnessing our first (and only, thus far) Atlantic sunrise on the beach. The pancakes were stacked high and the eggs were delicious. Even though it was only 8:00 am I let my kids have a homemade milkshake for desert because, truth be told, I knew I would get to finish what they did not drink. Those shakes were as wonderful as I knew they would be.


Andiamo’s 5600 Biacayne Bay. 33137 (upper East Side)
We sat outside here recently and I’m telling you guys, even in late July we were not that hot. It was about 6 pm, 87 degrees but there was a breeze coming off the ocean (though the restaurant is not right on the ocean) and we felt just fine. Isn’t sitting outside with your children just better? It is for us because we are pretty sure we have the LOUDEST CHILDREN IN THE WORLD (but they are really cute and funny and sweet… just extremely loud!). This pizza was “slap-yo-mamma” good… or I guess whoever’s mama made these pies. The crust was that perfect thickness and the combinations they offered were divine. We were able to order a kids pepperoni and sausage (which my husband tried as well) and then divide a second pie in half trying two of the combinations on the menu. The blank was out of this world.


The Cocowalk Main Hwy, 33133 (Coconut Grove)
Any of the chain restaurants here would be a great place to take your children but my family’s favorite is Chili’s. The kids and husband love the ribs (I probably need to run that statement by my husband… he is from Memphis so I am not sure how Chili’s ribs rate with him, but I do know that I have never seen him meet a rib that he did not eat). I honestly have been disappointed with Chili’s but the kids beg for it and I’m happy for a walk to dinner (it is half a mile from our new house) and a fun night out. You never know what you will see in Coconut Grove and the kids are always entertained by the street performers. I love the music, especially the kid with the guitar on the corner that I know I am going to see on American Idol soon (note thee are many wonderful, non-chain restaurants in Coconut Grove that are just not in “the Cocowalk”). My husband and my favorite is Jaguar’s but we’ll save that for another post… we have not taken the kids there yet).

The Shake Shack South Dixie Highway (Coral Gables)
This New York born restaurant just opened its largest store yet, and second in Florida, in Coral Gables on July 15th. I haven’t been to this location yet because the lines were so long. I have been to the other Florida location on Lincoln Road on South Beach and it was great. It is simply hot dogs, hamburgers and shakes (and beer!) but the ingredients are top-notch “free of artificial trans fats and cooked with 100 percent Renewable energy.” But more importantly to the kids it IS YUMMY! They have done a few special custards just for Miami (key lime pie) and I understand just for Coral GAbles they are serving the “Smokeshack” (apple-wood smoked bacon with chopped cherry peppers and cheese). Let me know when you are going, and I’ll meet you there!

So Bon Appetite to You and Yours. And if, out of the corner of your eye, you see a Ms Witherspoon type give you a funny look, do not fret. You are in the Magic City, the land where anything goes. Trust me. As you are walking out of that bar with your smiling full children you will wave at the children walking in to begin their family’s evening meal.

I wrote and mailed via U.S. Post a thank you note straight from my iphone

Yesterday, in honor of their recent collaboration with Sanrio Inc., Yogurtland Miami hosted an awesome party! Hello Kitty and Tuxedo (the short round blue penguin whose name I had never known until yesterday) greeted guests on the dance floor and made themselves available for a photo-op with anyone who asked.

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Each guest was treated to as much yogurt and as many toppings as her little heart desired or his mom would allow. My family left with cute Hello Kitty t-shirts, reusable bags, bright balloons, big smiles and full bellies.

It was such a great morning and Yogurtland was so generous I wanted to make sure our family showed our appreciation. As the kids colored a few notes for The Cat I found the “Postagram” Ap in the Apple Store on my Iphone.

It’s so cool! I was able to create a customized thank you note using a picture from the party, that I edited in Instagram. My cute little postcard was then addressed and stamped at the Postagram headquarters and mailed directly, via the U.S. Post, to Yogurtland! There was even a gift with purchase- the picture was perforated! We can’t wait to send postcards from our upcoming trip to grandma, so she can hang them on the refrigerator!

My first Postagram was free (and yours could be as well if you download the application now) but after that they will cost me $1.99 each (that includes postage).

Let me stop right there. Have you heard of Instagram (I mentioned above that I used it to edit the picture in the thank you note). I LOVE INSTAGRAM! It is a photosharing AND photoediting site AND IT IS FREE! It is so easy to edit your photos and then post to your Instagram account or another sharing network you might be a part of, and anyone you are friends with can see your picture. I love it because:

1. The editing is super easy and so is either sharing it on Instagram, twitter or Facebook directly from the application. I can post to all, or just one of those networks, depending on the purpose of each particular photo.
2. It has been so fun to see what all my friends have been up to this summer. OK, maybe not all of my friends I have over 800 Facebook friends and only 40 of them are on Instagram… but I’m working on that… really encouraging everyone to use the application.
3. My mom does not like to spend the money on text messages, but I convinced her to download Instagram on her Iphone so now I can send her pictures of her grandchildren straight to her phone (I had to explain that it was much easier than emailing the shots, and she agreed to give Instagram a try… so far, so good).

Proud that I had actually written, addressed and stamped a thank you note on the same day I attended the related event I was feeling a bit ambitious and ready to conquer a few more photo applications. I did a little research, checked-out a few online recommendations, and found some EASY, FREE photo editing tools that I thought you might enjoy too.

1. Instaframe helps you (a) frame your photos and (b) combine multiple sized photos into one frame, AND (3) easily add words on your photos. When finished you have several options of where you want to post, i.e. Instagram, Facebook, email, your “photo album” Check it out:


2. PopBooth, by the company Sincerely, Inc. that produced Instaframe will snap 4 shots and create a photo strip that you can, edit, post to one of your networks OR mail in a perforated postcard for $1.99. This would be so fun to use for birthday party thank you notes! The only problem is that it can only be used as a front sided camera. I believe the makers intended you to use it with a kick-stand in a make shift photobooth. I love the result, but wish I could snap the pictures of other without having to “mess” with a kick-stand


3. From the Top, Photobooth is also free and does have a rear facing camera. It doesn’t allow you to mail them to your friends via the U.S. Post, but you can send via email or post to facebook or twitter AND you can add costumes!! I could play with this all day!


While writing this blog, and re-reading each AP’s description, I realized I had miss the fact that I could add word bubbles to my photo strips and edit single pictures using the From the Top, Photobooth AP. It wasn’t extremely user friendly.. but once I got the hang of it- I had fun playing with some photos I had stored on my phone:


4. BeFunky is a free photo editor with no ads, which is nice and A LOT of creative and, well funky, effects. This is not a sharing site, like Instagram, but will post to what seems like any network that you would like it to post. Look at the fun that I had!





Note: This last picture was taken INSIDE Forever 21 at North Park Mall in Dallas. Did we have you fooled?

I had fun playing with these photo applications today. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know and I’ll give it a try.

A bag of peace for my friend’s road trip

In May, I made a new friend here in Miami (yeah), but tomorrow she is moving back to San Diego (boo!).
Kelly and her husband are DRIVING the entire way with their 6-year-old and 4-year-old so everybody, please, start praying!

No, I am sure the kids will do great, but I am tired tonight and feeling a little bit silly so I had fun putting together a going away present for them.

I raided the dollar section at Target and loaded up a “car bag” with wrapped gifts.



Here is a copy of the note that I included.

You’re headed out on the road
I’m sure it will be great
You will Kumbaya, eat McDonald’s and search for license plates.

But when the games get old
And the kids just don’t want to sit
I have a present for Mom to ward off the next fit

This “Car Peace” bag is filled with presents
Pink for Lexi, green for Jeff
The kids will be rewarded for boundaries that you set

Quiet until Pensacola?
The next present is yours
Don’t whack Sis before Texas?
You’ll draw a prize for sure

And when the car regains calm
As the kids dream of their next grab
Enjoy a moment of silence
With chocolates and trashy mags!



My kids gobbled-up dinner

It is rare that I put something on the dinner table and ALL 5 OF US LIKE IT! In fact, I’m not sure the last time that happened so I had to share my successful experiment.


One of my favorite recipes to fix for the family is Gina and Pat Neely’s sloppy joe recipe. It tastes like the traditional sloppy joe (traditional meaning the one out of the can that I ate as a child) but it is made from scratch with a few “hidden” vegetables (often I use lean turkey meat).

Last night we got home past our normal dinner time and the cupboard was light on groceries. I had leftover sloppy joe in the freezer, cooked earlier in the week, but no buns.

As the vultures kids looked on with hungry eyes I threw them a graham cracker and grabbed the Bisquick.

My 4-year-old would not be convinced to exit the kitchen as dinner was made so I put her to work! First Anna Kate and followed the biscuit recipe on the side of the Bisquick box. Then, we sprayed a large muffin tin (holds 12 muffins) with butter flavored Pam. Next we scooped a large tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each muffin cup and sort-of stretched it out over the bottom.

Next we layered a scoop of sloppy joe mix, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, then another dollop of biscuit mix and put our Joe muffins in the oven at 450 degrees for 9 minutes.


I served our new idea with a papaya I have had in the refrigerator for a week (I was not sure what to do with it… it was my first papaya purchase, but I find that dinner desperation often leads to bravery at my house- I’ll try anything).


Voila! The plates were cleaned and all were happy.

A Surprise trip for Charlie to Legoland Florida


Last Spring an old friend called with an idea. She and her family were leaving from Tampa for a Father’s Day cruise but planned to stop first at the new Legoland, Florida. Wouldn’t it be fun to surprise our boys with a day together at the park? Breaden and Charlie were fast friends on the first day of kindergarten and we knew they would love a fun day together.

We made a date! There are not very many places to stay in Winterhaven, where Legoland is located, so my husband and I booked a 3 night stay at the Wyndahm Reunion Grand Resort just outside of Orlando (check back later this week for a post on this resort- we loved it!). Orlando is about 40 miles from Winterhaven; it was a very easy drive!

We told the kids we were going to play at a resort for three days- they were thrilled. Friday morning I woke Charlie up and had him change in clothes I picked out the night before. I explained we were going for an adventure and to please quietly get in the car before the girls woke-up. In the car I told him we were headed to Legoland for the day! Just about the time Charlie started to wonder why the rest of the family wasn’t with us we arrived at Breaden’s grandparents house, just around the corner from the park. Checkout the boy’s surprise in this short video:

I think we could have turned the boys lose in a shopping mall with a map and they might have had just as much fun, they loved navigating around the park!


But what made the day even more fun were the kid friendly roller coasters- there were 5 of them. The coasters seemed to be just scary enough to take your breath away but not too scary that the 6 year old in our group could not ride. The clickity-clack up the first hill of the wooden coaster was the scariest moment of my day!


The park also included (1) flying school, (2) driving school and (3) boating school. On the two latter the children were actually in control of the car and boat and they thought this was super fun.


We spent a good hour in the racetrack. Here the kids were given Lego pieces to build cars and then they were able to race each other down multiple ramps.

There were rides that required strength and games that required creativity and the kids really enjoyed every moment of our day.

We all wished we had saved enough time to really study Miniland but we had to rush through before the gates were closed. Designers recreated cities from all over the world and it was truly amazing.

Mom-to-Mom advice:

1. We did the park in 1 day but did not have enough time to pay the $12 extra and try out the new water park that opened last month. If you make the trip to Legoland I would allow 2 days.
2. I also liked this park because it seemed a lot less expensive than Disney. I spent $75 for the two of us to enter, with a buy an adult ticket and child enters free coupon, and I think the price would have almost been double if we had ventured to Orlando. I used a Pepsi coupon but I have seen that deal multiple places if you would like to use it- yesterday, I noticed it printed on the back of my Nature Valley Bread.
3. The sign says no outside food or drink so we did not bring any inside. I did however notice that lots of other people did bring in snacks so next time I might stash a few crackers for the kids.
4. The good news is that there are many healthy options for the kids to eat. We did treat the kids to slurpees, but were able to provide them with a healthy lunch that we purchased at the park.
5. Buy your tickets on line! We were able to go straight to the turnstile and enter the park, but those that were buying their tickets at the gate had to wait in a long line.
6. Legoland was a 4 hour drive from Miami- an easy road trip.