Celebrate Mother’s Day with Heart of Haiti Gifts

The life of a mother is never ending.  It can feel like you carry the weight of the entire world on our shoulders.  Parenting is tough!  As a mother, I know how tiring it can be. As a teacher, I hear the stories often of the real struggles you face.   I know how we find ourselves believing that we aren’t doing it right!  Nearly everyone of us would say we love our kids unconditionally, but we find that this is the hardest job we truly have in life. Today’s world, as it was many years ago, is a struggle.  We face battles daily in our homes, workplace, and schools. It certainly isn’t limited to those locations though.  Are we meeting their needs?  What more can I do?

Imagine the life of Chena Giles, who travels down the hill from her home to collect soapstone from the river, and carve it into beautiful pieces, all while her two children are at school.  Isn’t this what we do?  When I hear her story I know without a doubt that she is not a failure!  “Am I doing enough?”  I am sure she may ask herself that very question!  That question that we all ask ourselves from time to time.  Guess what?  We are!  Just as Chena Giles works to provide for her family from the resources she is given, she helps to give back to them, and they are learning from her firsthand what it means to preserve.  More importantly, what it means to be a mom!

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Maybe your finances or marriage are a mess. Maybe you have lost that drive and motivation to just make it from day to day.  I know I have been in your shoes more often than I would like to have been.  We live paycheck to paycheck.  We are down to one car and one income.  We have real struggles with our children and family.  Trust me when I say I have experienced great hardships in my own life; however, I don’t let them define me just as those  living in Haiti.  Recovering from the devastation’s of this world takes time.  It takes time, energy, and resources for a community or country to put the pieces back together.   On January 12, 2010, an earthquake measuring a catastrophic 7.0 on the Richter scale, hit this impoverished nation. The already weak infrastructure of this country was more or less obliterated.  Aid came in droves, but very little of it reached the actual citizens. More than 160,000 were killed and close to 1.5 million people were displaced.

Imagine this happening to you?  I can only imagine being a mother in an area like this that faced such destruction.  I imagine that waking up day to day to the rubble surrounding you and thinking how am I going to provide?  Where are the jobs?   What am I going to do?  Where is that silver lining amidst the pain?

Despite the utter destruction that took place 6 years ago in Haiti, the citizens did not let that mark their fate or identity.  No!  The people of Haiti came together, and in recent years there has been a movement to continue to help these people through a unique way…gifts that give back!  They have embarked on a Trade-Not-Aid mission!

Yvette, employs and manages a number of artisans, and from that job she supports her own child, nieces, and nephews through the orders she gets from Macy’s.  Is she a failure?  I think not!  Did she suffer?  Absolutely!  Does ti define her?  Did she choose to sit in that grief and do nothing?  The answer is a resounding NO!

As we approach Mother’s Day, I want to challenge you to buy gifts that actually give back.  Gifts that mothers like Chena Gile create from their talents.   As many of you probably are aware of, there are many companies that are now giving a portion of their sales of an item back to areas in our world that need them.  Whether it is a pair of shoes or clean drinking water, there is a movement in our world today that screams “We want to do more!”  As you decide what to invest your money on or in this year, make your first stop at Macy’s for gift giving ideas.  Macy’s sells unique hand made home décor items from artisans in Haiti.

Macy’s Heart of Haiti has been in support of the Haitian artisans ever since the devastating earthquake hit this economically fragile nation over five years ago.  The Macy’s Heart of Haiti line is NOT a charity. Charity is when you give people money or donate goods. With Macy’s Heart of Haiti, people are employed and can make a livelihood, doing what they love most. It’s a sustainable trade-not-aid program where artisans make 50% of the wholesale price of every item sold.

Shortly after the earthquake, Macy’s began carrying this product line featuring an array of beautiful handmade goods crafted by artisans in Haiti. The country of Haiti, rich in the arts, has skilled artisans that make products that are unique and stand out.  Haiti has an estimated 400,000 artisans (out of a 10M population) who rely solely on their handcrafted goods as a source of income. No other sector of employment even approaches such numbers. While other organizations have come and gone, Macy’s has remained in Haiti since shortly after the earthquake, deepening their commitment to this Trade not Aid initiative.

Macy’s Heart of Haiti

Presently the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line is only available at a few select Macy’s stores listed here:  Herald Square, Brooklyn Downtown, Metro Center, State Street, Northland Center, Seattle Downtown, Portland Downtown, San Francisco Union Square, Biltmore Fashion Park, South Coast Plaza Home, Mission Valley Home, Dallas Galleria, Lenox Square Mall, Dadeland.

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I choose to buy my mother a gift from the Heart to Haiti line.  This beautiful  large papier mache vase with cord will look great on my mother’s dinner table.  I also love that it can certainly be a conversation starter as well!

Macy’s has a large collection of these gifts that give hope.

When thinking of unique gifts to give your mom, make your first stop here.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a Heart for Haiti item to facilitate this post.  The opinions presented here are 100% mine and was not influenced by the promoters.

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Ratchet & Clank “Let’s Kick Some Asteroid!”

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My husband and I recently checked out the highly anticipated release of Rachet & Clank, a CG-animated movie based on the popular PlayStation video games.  For someone that has not played the game at all and knows little about it, I was quickly able to follow the story line.  My husband, who loves this game and knows the story line well, commented on how much it really stayed true to the game.  You will quickly fall in love with these characters and enjoy their antics on the big screen.

One thing was for certain, Ratchet & Clank is a fast paced action movie.  Kids will really enjoy this film esp. those that are video game lovers.  Imagine your favorite game being played out on the big screen.  What gamer wouldn’t love that? Parents would like the humor that is embedded throughout the film.  More importantly, the message behind the film is something worth discussing.  I am always looking for ways to talk about shows and movies with my kids.  I want to make sure that they get the implicit meanings behind the characters they love and enjoy.  That is probably some of the “teacher” coming out in me.

This film really spotlights how anyone can be a hero, and this could not make me happier!  In this and age our kids are sucked into media like never before, many of our children are growing up with a false sense of what heroes may look like, or that they are too small to make a difference.  Social media is FULL of what things “should” look like, and it seldom highlights those true heroes.   While this film may be animated, it has such great lessons for parents to talk about with their kids.  It does not matter your size or class, heroes are found EVERYWHERE!

Ratchet & Clank, two individuals that would never be seen as “super heroes” in their galaxy, rise to the top for doing what is right.  Ratchet, a mechanic that longs to become a Galactic Ranger, and Clank, who is a defect robot, join together to show that

“A hero doesn’t need to do big things. A hero just needs to do the right thing.”

Official Ratchet and Clank Movie Website

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Movie Synopsis

In order to save the galaxy, a pair of underdogs must join forces – for the first time! Bringing along its ingenious gadgets, intergalactic exploration, and playful humor, the iconic best-selling PlayStation video game blasts onto the big screen in Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment’s all-new CG animated movie adventure Ratchet & Clank, telling the origins story of two unlikely heroes hurtling through an irreverent, action-packed universe.

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They are quite the pair, if small in stature, and Ratchet and Clank (voiced as in the video games by, respectively, James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye) overcome obstacles through vastly different approaches. Ratchet is the last of his kind, a foolhardy “lombax” who has grown up alone on a backwater planet, although he has a friend and mentor in Grimroth (John Goodman); Ratchet is impetuous and learns by doing. Clank is a pint-sized robot with more brains than brawn; tactical and logical, he rarely acts without extensive planning, and is guided by his conscience.

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When they both stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets as part of an evil plan by vile Drek (Paul Giamatti), their efforts to help stop it are met with skepticism because of their size and lack of experience. The peacekeeping Galactic Rangers, captained by Ratchet’s idol Qwark (Jim Ward) and including team members Cora (Bella Thorne) and Elaris (Rosario Dawson), finally agree to make the duo part of their mission to stop Drek. Qwark pushes the unit to act fast, not realizing that Drek and his enforcer robot Victor (Sylvester Stallone) are in league with an alien engineer, the shadowy Dr. Nefarious (Armin Shimerman).

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As the mission takes wild and woolly turns, Ratchet and Clank will learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one’s own identity. They will surprise everyone – even themselves – by proving that they are capable, and will become lifelong friends ready to go wherever adventure takes them.

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Who in your family is looking forward to seeing Ratchet & Clank?  Have you ever heard of this game before?

Disclaimer:  I was provided with tickets to preview this film prior to the theatrical release.  All opinions presented are 100% mine and are not influenced by the promoters.

Blue Ridge Mountain Food Tours- A MUST Do!

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Have you ever traveled somewhere and wanted to check out the restaurants?  You know, the ones off the beaten path or the ones that are not franchised.  I think that refers to most of us that travel.  We want to sample the foods of the area, but narrowing it down to a few choices can be difficult.  Not to mention the money involved can be quite costly if you eat out morning, noon, and evening! If you want to enjoy a culinary adventure when traveling, check to see if the area is offering a food tour.  I found about the Blue Ridge Mountain Food Tours a few months ago.  We had hoped to get to Blue Ridge in the Fall to check out the stunning Fall foliage, but our schedule simply did not allow for that.  Needless to say our Spring schedule was a little more open and we took off during Spring Break to catch a glimpse into the  culinary world of Blue Ridge, Georgia!

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The Blue Ridge Mountain Fabulous Foodie Tour is a three hour long walking tour through the downtown area “where you will sample tasty offerings at an eclectic representation of unique eateries in downtown Blue Ridge. Top chefs and owners will share what inspired them to call this quaint mountain town their home.”  They describe it as a “tasting adventure” and I will agree that 100%!   Just be sure to come on an empty stomach as you will  not leave hungry!

Our first stop on our tasting adventure began at Christy Lee’s Courtyard Grille.

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New England Clam Showder

 

 

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Crab Cakes, Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Vegetable Beef Soup, and Fresh Cut French Fries

 

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Drinks from local breweries and wineries

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Our 2nd stop was at the Blue Ridge Grocery.  Now don’t let the name deter you from this establishment.  The Blue Ridge Grocery serves breakfast and lunch daily and everything is made fresh right in the store.

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Macaroni Salad, Healthy Cole Slaw made with vinegar, Turkey and Cheese sandwich, and a grilled cheese

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 Our 3rd stop was Masseria, A Kitchen & Bar.  Masseria is a Mediterranean restaurant located in downtown Blue Ridge. that serves  American (New), Greek and Mediterranean, Italian, Middle Eastern, Pizza and Tapas Bars.

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Arugula and baby spinach salad with feta, apples, and craisins. Of course they serve up some special drinks such as Grumpy Old Men craft beer and a special strawberry lemonade.

 

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Margarita pizza

 

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Italian sausage and feta pizza

 

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Nutella Pie

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Our final stop was at the Vine Wine Bar & Bistro.  The Vine is a Wine Bar & Bistro showcases Georgia Wines from exceptional wineries and vineyards such as; Wolf Mountain, Montaluce, Habersham, and Frogtown Cellars. They also feature several varieties from the West Coast. If wine isn’t your forte, have no fear! They have a number of beers from domestic to import and many craft style brews. The food?  The food is simple, delicious, and fresh.

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Pimento Grilled Cheese

 

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Brunswick Stew

The last part of our food adventure included a chocolate and wine pairing at the Vine Wine Bar & Bistro.   Paul John Kearins, a true chocolatier,  indulged us in his unique chocolate creations.

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Have you ever been on a food tour?  If you are heading to Blue Ridge, Georgia, I highly recommend that you sign up for one of their tours!  The Blue Ridge Mountain Food Tours offer:

Brew House Tour

Fabulous Foodie Tour

Sugar High Tour

With excellent tour guides and a wide variety of stops, your taste buds are sure to be dancing in all kinds of flavors.  They know there area well and are passionate about bringing the essence of Blue Ridge to their guests.

 

Aurora Theatre sails toward summer with camp sessions for all ages!

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School’s out for the summer…almost! Kids of all ages are invited to burn off school-year stress alongside Aurora Theatre during its sizzling 2016 Summer Camp series, happening this June and July.  From improv practice to collaboration with peers during group performances, students will be taught and trained by some of the region’s top professionals!

For those interested in learning about Aurora’s sun-sational camp offerings, an open house for parents and students will be held on Tuesday, April 26 from 4-6:30 p.m. Prospective campers will get to participate in free sample classes and experience what a day at camp will look like, while parents review class structures and tour Aurora’s world-class facilities featuring its 175-seat Mainstage theater, studio, rehearsal space and more!

Elementary School Camps

Camp Aurora
Grades 1–5 (Mini: grades 1–3, Master: Grades 4–5)
For younger students interested in learning what it takes to put on an actual performance, Camp Aurora is a weeklong session giving students the opportunity to have valuable stage experience, all the while encouraging teamwork and collaboration with peers. These half-day sessions will allow students to become hands-on and create portions of the sets, costumes and props! Tuition is $200 per morning or afternoon session.

June 27–July 1, 9:30 a.m. –12:30 p.m. (Mini/Master)

June 27–July 1, 1 p.m. –4 p.m. (Mini/Master)

July 11–15, 9:30 a.m. –12:30 p.m. (Mini)

July 11–15, 1 p.m. –4 p.m. (Master)

 

Bilingual Camp
July 25-29 (9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.)
In Aurora’s first-ever bilingual camp, students will be active participants in character creation for exciting, whirlwind productions of fairy tales from Hispanic culture presented to family and friends! Tuition is $200.

Esta clase de producción no solo proporcionará a los estudiantes con valiosa experiencia en el escenario sino que a la vez fomentará el trabajo en equipo y la colaboración entre compañeros. Esta experiencia infunde en nuestros estudiantes un gran sentido de confianza en sí mismos. En estas sesiones de medio día, los estudiantes participaran activamente en la creación de personajes para una emocionante producción de cuentos provenientes de la cultura hispana para luego ser presentada a sus familiares y amistades!

 

Middle and High School Camps

Acting Edge Camp
July 11-22 (10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Tweens and teens are invited to explore the craft of acting through hands-on experience with various styles like Stanislavski, Shakespeare, Stage Combat, Improvisation classes and more! This two-week camp will culminate with a showcase of scenes and sketches in the Aurora Studio for friends and family to see. When registering, please select the appropriate class for middle or high school students. Tuition is $500.

 

Guerrilla Theater Camp
Session one: June 27-July 1 (10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.); Session two: July 18-22(10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.)
It’s time to break the boundaries of the stage and go bananas for theater! In this wildly upbeat camp, students will learn many styles that shatter the convention of the fourth wall – from Commedia dell’Arte to improv comedy and even flash mobs! Tuition is $300.

To register for either the Acting Edge or Guerrilla Theater camp, visit bit.ly/auroracamps or call the box office at 678.226.6222.

 

Musical Camp – All Ages
June 6-25 (10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.)
For the third year in a row, Aurora Theatre Academy invites students of all ages to participate in a summer musical led by the region’s finest professional actors! Students, grades 3-12, will have the opportunity to attend three weeks of classes in acting, singing and dancing in preparation for the end-of-session production of The Wiz- A TYA version (tickets are $5), in which they will perform four shows on Aurora’s Mainstage! Tuition is $600.

The Wiz – A TYA version performance dates are as follows:

  • Friday, June 24 at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 25 at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

 

Scholarship Auditions
Tuesday, April 26 (times vary)
Aurora offers students both financial need and talent-based scholarship opportunities. Through the continued support of Scott Hudgens Family Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Suwanee and other generous groups, Aurora Theatre Academy is able to offer students the valuable experience of honing their craft with seasoned professionals.

Talent Scholarship Auditions
Auditions for the summer musical camp THE WIZ –A TYA version, will take place on Tuesday, April 26 from 6-8:30 p.m.  Please email Jaclyn@auroratheatre.com to schedule an audition timeslot for that day.

Financial-Need-Based Scholarship Applications
For those interested in applying for financial-need-based scholarships, please call 678.226.6222 for more information on how to apply.

For all camp sessions, there is a one-time new student registration fee of $25. Discounts are available for multiple sessions and siblings registering together. For one day only on Tuesday, April 26, Aurora will offer all students a $25 discount off of tuition. Students may register online, via phone or in-person at the open house. Enrollment in each class is limited to 15 students, so register soon!

For more information on Aurora Theatre programming or to register for camp, visitwww.auroratheatre.com or call the Box Office at 678.226.6222.

Groundbreaking rock opera ‘pinballs’ onto Springer stage

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In 1969, the Who established themselves as one of the most influential bands of the 20th century with the release of “Tommy.” Now over 40 years later the Springer is producing the Broadway musical version of the rock opera that changed the face of popular music.

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In the intervening years “Tommy” has been produced as a ballet, an actual opera, a symphony and a film. It opens at the State Theatre of Georgia at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website says that “Tommy” is “barrier-shattering.” “The Who are one of the great bands in rock and roll history, and ‘Tommy’ is one of their greatest works,” said the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum’s curator Jim Henke.  When “Tommy” was released conductor Leonard Bernstein said it is “a powerful performance that outstrips anything that has ever come out of a recording studio.”

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“Tommy” is the story of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who triumphs over his adversities to become the “Pinball Wizard.” At the end of World War II, Tommy’s paratrooper father returns home to his family. When Tommy sees his father accidentally kill a man, he is traumatized into catatonia. As an adolescent, he discovers his amazing talent for pinball and becomes an international superstar.

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“Tommy” paved the way for subsequent concept albums, such as Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” But it also influenced musical theatre, leading to such shows as “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” according to Bill Demain in Mental Floss magazine.  The Broadway version, “The Who’s Tommy,” opened in New York on April 22, 1993, and ran until June 17, 1995, for a total of 899 performances. It was nominated for 11 Tony awards and won five of them. It was nominated for nine Drama Desk awards, winning six.

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Playing Tommy as an adult is Chris Tipp who is making his Springer debut. For the past seven months he’s been touring for the Repertory Theatre of Saint Louis.  Playing Tommy as a child is Sophia Boyanchek and Patrick Chappel. It’s Boyanchek’s Springer debut. She’s a fourth grader at Bookstone. Playing Tommy as an older child, Patrick is a student at Columbus High. He’s appeared in Springer Mainstage productions of “Mary Poppins” (Michael), “Les Misérables” (Gavroche) and “The Wizard of Oz” (Munchkin).  Alison Rose Munn returns to the Springer to play Mrs. Walker, Tommy’s mother. Munn lives in New York and last appeared at the Springer in “The Taffetas” (2007).

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To celebrate the opening of “The Who’s Tommy,” the Springer is holding a pinball tournament in the lobby of the Springer from 4-6 p.m. Thursday. The theatre will take care of the quarters. Just bring your crazy flipper fingers and come prepared to prove that you’re the pinball wizard. The winner will get at Who T-shirt, two tickets to see “The Who’s Tommy” and bragging rights.
“The Who’s Tommy” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, May 5- 7 and May 12- 14 and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 15. For tickets or more info visit springeroperahouse.org or call 706-327-3688.

I’m Not Rappaport playing at Aurora Theatre

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Celebrating the unwavering bond that friendship brings, Aurora Theatre closes the curtain on its 20th anniversary season with a heartwarming presentation of the Tony Award-winning play I’m Not Rappaport, May 5-June 5! Based on the author’s real-life encounter, the touching tale follows the daily ritual of two elderly men who inhabit a bench in New York City’s bustling Central Park. While both dream of escaping the current realities of life – nursing homes, aging and dangers of urban living– they end up finding solace in each other’s company and forming an irreplaceable friendship.

Revisiting the storyline almost three decades after playing identical roles in 1989 at Theatrical Outfit, Rob Cleveland and Kenny Raskin, along with director David de Vries, reunite in I’m Not Rappaport. Aurora Co-founder and Producing Artistic Director Anthony Rodriguez, worked on the set alongside them when the theater was located in Midtown.

“What is so special about this production is the rarity of having two actors star in the same roles they performed in 27 years ago,” said Ann-Carol Pence, Co-founder and Associate Producer. “Aside from being more age appropriate for the roles now, Rob and Kenny offer audiences a deep-felt connection that can’t be taught or rehearsed. Having David transition from actor to director this time around, and having Anthony serving as artistic director, brings an added layer of historical reference to our production; one that will certainly be an emotional revival.”

Audiences will delight in laughter as the feisty Jewish Nat (Raskin) and Midge (Cleveland), a half-blind and cantankerous African-American, chat away their afternoons in the heart of the Big Apple. Nat’s love of spinning tall tales paired with Midge’s griping of his unruly tenants, offer the two seniors plenty of issues to gab about as the commotion of the concrete jungle surrounds them.

Recommended for teens and adults interested in a taste of the Big Apple, I’m Not Rappaport is presented May 5-June 5. There will be a discount matinee onWednesday, May 25 at 10 a.m. with tickets starting at $16. Regular show tickets range from $20-$55 and can be purchased online at tickets.auroratheatre.com or by calling the box office at 678-226-6222.

Show times are as follows:

  • Wednesday- Saturday: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday: 2:30 p.m.

Town Center at Cobb celebrates Mother’s Day with Mom’s Night Out on Thursday, May 5

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Town Center at Cobb prepares to pamper moms with an evening of fashion and fun. Mom’s Night Out celebrates motherhood with a stylish shopping experience on Thursday, May 5 from 6-8 p.m. in the Sears Court. Town Center at Cobb will provide goodie bags for the first 250 women to register, along with entertainment, food samples, door prizes, interactive tabling, fashion presentations and more! Attendees will also receive a special gift with the purchase of $100 or more at participating retailers, while supplies last. Plus, two lucky ladies will be selected to receive flash makeovers from stores like Aveda and Macy’s in the mall.

     

Mom’s Night Out
Festive evening includes flash makeovers for two lucky moms plus entertainment, food sampling, door prizes, interactive tabling, fashion presentations and more

WHEN:

Thursday, May 5 (6-8 p.m.)

WHERE:       

Town Center at Cobb
400 Barrett Pkwy.
Kennesaw, GA 30144

HOW:            

This event is FREE and open to the public; the first 250 guests to register will receive a complimentary goody bag

For more information, visit www.simon.com/towncenteratcobb

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a media release.  I did not received compensation for this post.