Friday, July 20, 2018

Zoup!: Summer is for Chillin' - Review

Logan with his Zoup! sandwich and soup

Summer is finally here, and Zoup! is celebrating the season with fun new and returning menu items along with the introduction of Family Meals. The fast casual restaurant is also celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Since opening its very first restaurant in Southfield in 1998, the brand has grown to almost 100 locations and continues to innovate its menu of award-winning soups and made-to-order salads and sandwiches.

Chicken Toscana sandwich

Luckily, there's a Zoup! located in my city.  I frequent the eatery every couple of months with family.  The owners of the local franchise are super friendly, the place is always clean, and the food is delicious.  Logan and I ate at Zoup! earlier in the week and tried some of their new menu items.

Simply Gazpacho chilled soup has made a comeback, along with the newly introduced Avozpacho soup.  Simply Gazpacho features an assortment of fresh vegetables in a spicy tomato broth with cilantro, while the new Avozpacho also includes the best fresh vegetables served in avocado puree with roasted jalapeƱos. Both are topped off with sour cream and scallions for a zesty finish. 

Zoup! gives consumers the opportunity to try samples of their soups before purchasing, so people can decide what suits their palate.  I tried a sample of the Simply Gazpacho soup, and I liken it to what a liquid salsa would taste like.  Very summery and fresh.  I ordered a bowl of the Avozpacho soup and enjoyed it as well.  There was no sour cream added to the top (which I would have liked) but it was otherwise delicious.  Both chilled soups are perfect for summertime weather.

Avozpacho soup

Also back this year is the fan-favorite MTB sandwich.  I'd never had it before, but now see why it's a favorite after trying it this time around.  The sandwich comes piled with sliced mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil topped with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette on stone-baked ciabatta bread.  Logan ordered it as part of the Try Two Combo.  He wasn't real interested in sharing his food but I got a hold of his sandwich and had a few bites.  

Although we haven't went this route yet, Zoup! is also introducing the Family Meal, a new regular menu offering that combines delicious gourmet soup with the restaurant’s salads, sandwiches or Power Bowls for a full, filling meal to feed two, four or six hungry friends or family members.

Zoup!’s new Family Meal packages are available in the following sizes (prices may vary by location):

·         Feed 2 ($21.95): One quart of soup with two hunks of bread; one whole salad, sandwich or Power Bowl; four mini cookies.

·         Feed 4 ($43.95): Two quarts of soup with four hunks of bread; two whole salads, sandwiches or Power Bowls; eight mini cookies.

·         Feed 6 ($65.95): Three quarts of soup with six hunks of bread; three whole salads, sandwiches or Power Bowls; 12 mini cookies.
Throughout the summer, guests can enjoy these new offerings and have the opportunity to enter Zoup!’s “20 Years of Ladling Love Sweepstakes” to win a trip for two to Las Vegas. Enter by texting a weekly code word that can be found in the restaurant or in the InsiderZ email, which provides news and other special offers, including a “buy a bowl, get one free” deal just for signing up.

Have you ever eaten at Zoup!?
What's your favorite soup from there?
Which if the two chilled soups would you like best - Avozpacho or Simply Gazpacho?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

My Experience at Lost Island Water Park

As I often do, I went to my "home away from home" last weekend and drove up to Iowa to see my bestie.  To celebrate her daughter's birthday, we decided to take a trip with four kids to Lost Island Water Park in Waterloo, IA.  All in all, it was a good time.

I won't go into each and every detail of the park.  If you want all that, the park's website has tons of info.

Good impression #1:  The park isn't so huge that you feel overwhelmed.  But there's a lot of water slides and areas for adults and kids.  The water attractions and the park itself were very clean.

Azra, Greely, and Kaylyn

Bad Impression #1:  There are two bathrooms on the grounds.  The one I went into had poor upkeep.  There was no hand dryers or paper towels.  Water was everywhere.  Toilets were clogged, and the overall furnishings were outdated.

Good impression #2:  The lifeguards were super vigilant.  Their eyes were always scanning the water and it was obvious they were alert.  Their routines and behavior showed it.  All lifeguards everywhere should take heed.

You know I've gotten sun when the freckles on my face pop out like mushrooms.

Bad impression #2:  There are five eateries located within the park.  Of these, we went to three.  At the first one, they were out of souvenir cups and one of the smoothie flavors.  At the second one they were out of several foods.  The last eatery is where we did lunch.  

I don't expect to get a gourmet meal at a water park but I felt quite jipped for the price I paid.  I purchased a cheeseburger and fries for $10.25.  The fries were cold and the bun on the burger was super dry.  The meat itself was burnt.  Super not impressed.

Good impression #3:  There was plenty of seating.  Most people were crowded in one area but I'm not quite sure why because there were places to sit all throughout the park.   

Good impression #4:  Free parking!  Free tubes!  Free life jackets!

"Hello.  My name is Timmy.  Do not be alarmed if you notice me swimming in the park.  I am testing the vigilance of our lifeguards."  Love this!

It cost a little over $30 for each admission ticket.  I didn't think that was bad at all, considering the place is accommodating for kids of all ages and it can be an all-day event.

Have you been to a water park this summer?
What's your favorite aspect of a water park?  Mine is the Lazy River where I can take a tube and drift along.

Benji & The Giant Kite - Children's Book Review and Giveaway

Book Overview:

Have you ever wanted one thing – just one thing – more than anything else in the world? A toy? A new bike? A computer game? Did you imagine that this one possession would make you incredibly happy – forever? For Benji that one thing is an enormous orange kite. In BENJI & THE GIANT KITE, Alan C. Fox tells the enchanting story of a young boy who learns that possessing something is not quite as meaningful as letting it go.

BENJI & THE GIANT KITE is Alan C. Fox’s second book for children.  It is illustrated by Eefje Juijl, a graduate of the School of the Arts Utrech, who is based in The Netherlands.

My Review:

I had the opportunity to read author, Alan C. Fox's, first book a few months ago.  Benji & The 24 Pound Banana Squash was an entertaining and fanciful book for children, so I was rather happy to see that Alan authored another book.

The story tells of a boy named Benji who likes kites and uses his allowance to buy them.  He's lost many kites on the beach.  One day he is in need of another kite and works to earn money for it.  He was happy and used the orange kite quite a bit.  Then one day he decides to let the kite go and fix the moment in his memory.

Benji & The Giant Kite is an adorable hardback book for preschool children.  It doesn't take long to read.  I like that Benji decides to preserve the moment in his memory and realizes that possessions aren't everything.  I also like that the story shows Benji working for an allowance to get what he wants.  

Win It!

One person will win a hardback book copy of Benji & The Giant Kite.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received book for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
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Precious Moments Promotion: 2 for 1 Ornaments

It’s Christmas in July and Precious Moments is celebrating by giving away a free gift with their newest promotion. From now until July 31st, you will get a FREE 2017 dated holiday ornament with the purchase of the 2018 dated holiday ornament! This is a great opportunity to either start your collection with two new ornaments for the price of one, OR just take advantage of this once-in-a-blue-moon deal from

Promotion Details:

Buy the 2018 Holiday Ornament & Get the 2017 Holiday Ornament Free
Promo code: 2018DATED
Offer ends: 7/31

This post contains an affiliate link.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 131

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I believe in a God that hears prayers and answers them. I've witnessed the miraculous gift of answered prayer. And, I want to pray for you. I've started weekly Power of Prayer post every Thursday. We are now on week 131.  If you are needing prayer in an area of your life, please leave a comment and I'll commit to pray for your need or request. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Whether it be for healing, salvation, finances, emotions, or another area of life, I'd like to lift it up in prayer.

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
–1 Timothy 6:17

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Patio Table Confessionals

I moved into my current home two years ago.  The favorite "room" for me and the kids to gather and talk is the screened-in back porch.  It has a patio table much like the one pictured, and several chairs surrounding it.  That table has been dubbed "The Confessional".  I've spent many, many nights sitting at that table these last two years, talking and listening to my kids.

As many of you know, my kids aren't "kids" anymore.  They range in age from 16 to 24.  It's during those ages that it can be hard to know what's going on in their lives or what their feelings are.  That's where "The Confessional" comes in.

I don't know quite how it started but it became an unwritten rule that meaningful, deep-rooted talks could be done at that table.  I've heard about Allyson's adventure aspirations and Adam's parties with friends.  I've seen Logan's heart break over a breakup and Shelby's anger over mistreatment.  Some things I've found out have darn near caused my jaw to hit the floor.  I've learned more about my six kids' lives, dreams, wishes, and wants more over that table than I have at any other time.  Sometimes, it's just one kid out there.  Other times, it could be three or even all six.  When we're out there, we listen and give advice.  We talk of our experiences regarding the same situations.  We even talk of things that they wouldn't normally feel comfortable talking to me about. 

That space and place has become our sanctuary.  A bonding time.  A way to cry, talk, yell, and heal.  I love bonding over patio table confessionals.

As you can see from the looks on Shelby and George's faces, it's not always all seriousness at the patio table!

Do you have a special place that your kids feel comfortable talking and venting?

How to Host an Ice Cream Social - Go Organically Fruit Snacks Giveaway

National Ice Cream Day was July 15th.  You may have missed out on it but can still enjoy ice cream any other day of the year. (I sure do!)  Go Ogranically has some creative ideas on how to host an amazing ice cream social:

Host an Ice Cream Social

Set the Scene

Once you've picked a date and sent out invites, it's time to assemble everything you need for your party.

The setup: Summertime is the perfect excuse to be carefree, so keep things simple! Do a buffet-style setup with bowls, spoons, napkins, toppings, etc., so kids can make their own sundaes in an assembly line fashion. Add paper tablecloths and balloons in cheery, pastel colors to mimic an old fashioned ice cream parlor. Display a chalk board to welcome guests and announce the day's flavors.

The ice cream: Stick to classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry since they'll serve as a great base for all the toppings you'll have on hand. Consider adding one carton of a popular "fun" flavor like chocolate chip cookie dough or cookies 'n cream, but don't feel the need to overdo it with options. If you're hosting the party outside, keep your ice cream cartons in an ice-filled cooler to prevent them from melting.

The toppings: Fill colorful little bowls with kid-approved toppings like chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, crushed peanut butter cups and, of course, Go Organically Organic Fruit Snacks. Don't forget the chocolate syrup and whipped cream!

Put Together a "Sweet" Playlist

Set the mood by creating a playful music soundtrack themed around sweets and treats, with a mix of nostalgic, kid-friendly songs. Suggestions to get you started:

 "Ice Cream Man" by Tom Waits
"Peppermint Twist" by Joey Dee & The Starliters
"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" by Marvin Gaye
"Tutti Fruitti" by Little Richie
"I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" by The Four Tops
"Blueberry Hill' by Fats Domino
"I Love Rocky Road" by Weird Al Yankovic
"Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles
"Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond

Play a "Cool" Game

Delight little ones by adding an ice cream-themed game to the agenda. We love "Pin the Cherry on the Sundae"—a riff on the classic party game "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."

Draw a picture of a large ice cream sundae on a poster board, or simply print out an oversize photo.
Give each kid a construction paper cherry with double-sided tape on the back.  One by one you'll blindfold each guest, spin them around, and instruct them to place the cherry as close to the top of the sundae as they can.  The guest who places the cherry closest is the winner and gets to make their sundae first. YUM!

Be sure to follow Go Organically on Facebook for more family-friendly ideas!  Made with real fruit, Go Organically Organic Fruit Snacks are gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and a  great choice for your on-the-go life.

Win It!

One person will win two boxes of Go Organically Organic Fruit Snacks (one box of Mixed Berry and one box of Fruit Medley).

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received no compensation for this post.  This post is in partnership with PR firm.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

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