Saturday, August 9, 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs Report

Still deciding whether you should treat your kids to Walking With Dinosaurs tickets for this weekend? Read on before you decide!

Wednesday night I took Connor, Mathilda, and my godson to the Palace of Auburn Hills to see Walking With Dinosaurs. I had heard of the movie, and in fact Connor and Chris had seen it at the theater when it was out. But, even though I had read a bit about this live show and wrote about it over at MichiGal Travels, I wasn't really sure what to expect.

I've been to the Palace for basketball games, Disney on Ice, concerts, and other live shows. They always manage to change things up to suit the performance. In this case, I'd say the staging area was about the size of the ice arena for the ice shows. Really big. There was a (human) narrator who was out there the entire time, and two jumbo screens on either side of the stage so that the audience could get a better view of what was happening down there.

Walking With Dinosaurs was way more educational than I was expecting. The narrator basically took us through an abridged version of the history of dinosaurs. As he told us about different eras and various species, the dinosaurs would come out on the stage. Some were manned by people who were inside of them, but most of them were robotic. They were massive! Aside from the educational value of the show, there were some cool special effects - like when the narrator explained about the origin of flowers, colorful flowers "grew" all around the stage.

If you have kids, you have probably read and learned quite a bit about dinosaurs since becoming a parent. Nonetheless, I felt the show was pretty interesting, and I learned some new things. Having the huge dinosaurs up on stage illustrating the narrative really brought it to life. They moved around the stage, demonstrating some typical dinosaur behaviors. A few times they sort of interacted with the audience by growling up close or bending their long necks over them.

We were sitting in section 224, and the seats were great. We had a clear view of everything. But it might have been fun to sit on the lower level, especially when those big long necks poked their head over and got up close and personal.

A word of caution: at times it was super loud. When we got up during the intermission, I noticed someone selling ear plugs. If you have a child who is sensitive to loud noises, you might want to consider bringing some. Also, when the T-Rex is out, and you notice her walking over to the edge of the stage to look directly at the audience, know that she is about to snarl really loudly. She walks around and does this to different sections of the audience, and it's loud and potentially scary. So, I'm not trying to ruin anything for you, just giving you a heads up so you can be prepared in case you think it might scare your child.

Other things you should know:

The show started at 7:10 and was over at 8:50. This included a 20-minute intermission.

Parking is $10.

Food is expensive but I've seen worse. I bought 3 regular size beverages, an order of nachos with cheese and salsa (big enough to share) and a soft pretzel (also big enough to share) and the total was $24. I also bought three individual size cotton candies, and that was $9 total. The serving size is small, but how much sugar do you want your kid consuming anyway?

If you have a dinosaur fan on your hands, I'd say this show is a MUST. The three kids I had with me, ages 5, 8, and 11, are not particularly huge dinosaur lovers. But their attention remained drawn to the show the entire time and they really enjoyed it. This is a unique performance and I was impressed with the stage production and the flow of the narrative. If you're looking for a fun family outing this weekend, this just might be it.
Walking With Dinosaurs

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Squirrel Cheeks Boutique Romper Giveaway
Pink and grey lace romper
One of the greatest things about having three daughters: the clothes. Little girl clothing just keeps getting cuter and cuter. On the flip side, my girls have very strong opinions about what they wear and I don't really get to pick out their clothes anymore. If you have a little one, take advantage! You might not believe me, but before you know it they will be insisting on personal fashion statements and throwing your carefully coordinated ideas out the window.

Boutique clothing is not something I've delved into much. I see other little girls dressed up in sweet little boutique outfits and always think it's too expensive. I'm sure some of it is, but I have found a place that has the most adorable, precious, items - at a REASONABLE price. I mean, very reasonable. Squirrel Cheeks Boutique is the place to visit if you are shopping for a little girl. Looking for a lace romper, or a satin romper? Unique dresses, tutus, outfits and accessories? Doll clothes? Click over and take a look around. I think you will be surprised.

Think the shipping prices will kill you? Think again. Orders from Squirrel Cheeks ship for just $2 plus 10% of your order, and orders over $200 ship for free.

Regular costumers will love that they can earn reward points from Squirrel Cheeks. Create an account and start earning, one point for every dollar spent. Reach 100 points and redeem them for a $5 gift certificate that can be used on anything on the site.

Are you a boutique wholesaler? Squirrel Cheeks is the place to buy wholesale rompers and other girly girl items. In fact, Squirrel Cheeks caters to wholesalers, offering free drop shipping and and automatic 20% discount on all orders - and NO minimum order.

For more info, follow Squirrel Cheeks on Twitter and Facebook.

Now, how about a giveaway? One lucky MichiGal reader will win one solid colored romper (color of choice) in Small (0-12 months), Medium (12-24 months), or Large (3T/4T). (Please note that larger sizes are available for purchase at Squirrel Cheeks, but this giveaway is only for S, M, or L). Just use the Rafflecopter form to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dearborn's Giulio and Sons Offers Tasty Vegetarian Options
Our dinner group, with Chefs Vera and Mills
At times, being a vegetarian has its challenges. For example, when eating out I am sometimes underwhelmed by the vegetarian options available at certain restaurants. On the other hand, one of the things I love about adhering to a vegetarian diet is that it has often pushed me outside of my typical food comfort zone. If  I had turned vegetarian in my 20s, I probably would have lived on grilled cheese sandwiches. Now I'm more willing to try new things, which often leads me to delicious culinary discoveries that, at one time, I would have never believed I could love.

A recent dinner at Giulio and Sons, located within the Adoba Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, is a case in point. I met up with a few fellow local bloggers (Gwendolyn from Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life, Amber from Metro Detroit Mommy, and Stephanie from Mom Among Chaos)  to sample some items from the new dinner menu. Having no idea what to expect, other than a vague idea that Giulio and Sons serves Italian fare, I kept an open mind and palate.

Giulio and Sons has recently welcomed a new head chef, Chef Gabriel Vera, and a new sous chef, Chef Byron Paine Mills. The two have collaborated to create a new menu of unique, contemporary Italian dishes.

First Impression The Adoba Hotel, at 600 Town Center Drive, was easy to find coming from I-94. Free parking is ample and the restaurant, on the second floor, was easily accessible from the front lobby via stairs or elevator. Giulio and Sons itself is lovely, if a little dimly lit (some might say romantic).

Staff  From the hostess to the waiter, to the manager and chef, everyone was friendly and accommodating. Our waiter was especially wonderful, which enhanced our dining experience all the more.

Food We sampled smaller portions of several menu items, as well as a full sized main course and the decadent dessert buffet. In short, we ate until we were ready to burst.

Giulio's Caprese Salad  Heirloom tomatoes, barrata cheese, micro basil, smoked sea salt, and house made balsamic reduction.
This was not something I would normally order because I am not much of a fan of anything balsamic. However, mixed with the delectable dainty tomatoes and the flavorful cheese, it was a very tasty combination.
Would I order it again? Yes, I would order it to share. Balsamic is still not my favorite, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Miniature Portobello Burger  Made with chimichurri sauce, roasted red peppers, and Swiss cheese on toasted brioche.
This is something else I would not typically order because I generally steer clear of mushrooms.  In fact, I'm going to have to admit that this was the first time I had ever tasted a portobello mushroom. Unbelievable, I know. But I went to dinner with an open mind and I'm glad I did because this little "burger" was so enjoyable. (My stomach is growling as I type this.)
Would I order it again? Yes, it was quite good. And now I can say I like portobello mushrooms. See what I mean about vegetarianism? If I weren't a vegetarian, I could have easily passed my entire life without ever trying this!
 Vegetable Lasagna  A 60 layer vegetable lasagna served with marinara sauce.
The spiciness of this dish really overpowered the flavors. I like a little spice, but not this much. I'm not sure if it was the marinara or the lasagna itself, but this was definitely my least favorite sampling.
Would I order it again? No, I don't think so.
Homemade Mushroom Ravioli  With brandy tarragon cream sauce and glazed sweet peas.
Again, because of the mushrooms, I would not have ordered this on my own. But I loved it. The sauce was perfectly creamy and scrumptious, and the mushrooms were just right - not overpowering at all.
Would I order it again? Absolutely, yes. This may have been my favorite dish of the night. 
Lemon Parsley Risotto  With chili oil, sweet peas, and parmigiano reggiano cheese.
This was a creamy, flavorful, mouthwatering dish. It is really too bad it came last because I was fairly bursting at the seams by this time. But no worries - I brought it home to finish.
Would I order it again? Yes, I would most definitely order this again.
Clockwise from top: Risotto, Vegetable Lasagna, Caprese Salad, Ravioli, Portobello Burger

Despite the fact that we were stuffed to capacity by the time our last tasting was brought to the table, none of use would think of leaving without a visit to the dessert buffet. I would come back to Giulio and Sons just for dessert. It was amazing! There were platters upon platters full of various cakes and treats. The bread pudding was particularly heavenly, but there were so many options it was really difficult to choose. Save room, trust me!

We tried so much, but we didn't try everything. The menu is full of many enticing options. We also didn't try the salad bar, but I took a peak and was impressed with the expansive spread. In speaking with the chef, I was also impressed to learn that Giulio and Sons uses many local ingredients from the surrounding area, and that all pasta is made in house.

Giulio and Sons is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Guests staying in the hotel can also order up room service from the restaurant. This would be a perfect place to come for a special occasion meal. It's a bit of a splurge, but well worth it. (Note: I did not see the breakfast and lunch menus.)

I had a very enjoyable dining experience at Giulio and Sons, and would like to thank the staff and management for a fabulous evening of good food and good company.

Please click over to read Gwendolyn, Amber, and Stephanie's takes on our evening at Giulio and Sons! 

Finding Sanity in Our Crazy Life - Unveiling of Giulio and Sons New Menu
Metro Detroit Mommy - Check Out These 5 New Menu Items at Giulio and Sons
Mom Among Chaos -New Menu at Giulio and Sons Restaurant

Disclaimer: As part of a blogger dinner, I received a complimentary meal from Giulio and Sons. All opinions are my own. No other compensations was received.