Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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January 25, 2015

Smarty Cooking School: Mac-n-Cheese

So I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Mac n’ Cheese. I didn’t grow up on it, in fact, the first time I ever had it was in college and it was not my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I had made it before (many times when I was babysitting)…boil the noodles, add milk, butter and orange powder – stir and done! It just looked and smelled so gnarly, but the kids always woofed it down like it was the tastiest thing ever. Then one day in college, while telling my friend that I never had it, she decided to make it for dinner. It was still from a box, but this box was fancy…yellow, not blue and the mix was already creamy, not in powder form. All right, I’ll try it. Ummm, what’s the word I’m looking for… about anti-awesome! The noodles were über mushy and over cooked and there wasn’t much if any flavor at all. Yet, once again, everyone woofed it down, and I was left wondering what the heck was I missing?

I think I get it now. It’s called, nostalgia. I have no idea if half of the foods that I LOVE so much from my youth are in fact ridiculously delicious, or if it’s the fact that they bring back memories and a sense of comfort, reminding me of my youth. I have to believe that’s true, because my husband will tell me all day long that the “Beefie” dish that I hold near and dear to my heart, “tastes nasty.” Ummm, wha?!!!!   Is he nuts?!   It’s delicious and every bite makes me smile! How could he not like it?!!  Anyhoo…

So back to Mac n’ Cheese – I was determined to find one that I did like! Boy did I ever – lobster mac n’ cheese, BACON mac n’ cheese, baked 5 cheese mac n’ cheese with a delicious cheesy crust…. Alas purists will say, “none of those are mac n’ cheese”, and no way in heck would I get most kids to try it. So I decided to create my own! It had to be cheesy, NO mushy, overcooked noodles, had to have flavor (but not overwhelming so the little ones might be tricked into liking it too) and it couldn’t be ORANGE ;) I think this one is a winner!

I hope you’ll give this one a try…I’d love to know what Mac n’ Cheese lovers think!! Enjoy! Xoxo!

Let’s get those ingredients ready! You’ll need: Shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded gruyere cheese, 2% and skim milk, nutmeg, Dijon mustard, onion powder, pepper, panko bread crumbs, butter, salt, flour and elbow shaped noodles.
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Smarty Alert: This Week’s School Open Houses

Smarty School Open House Guide Large

Don’t miss this week’s School Open Houses we’ve listed below. This is NOT the full Open House listing for each school or school system – it’s just this week’s. So for the full list, make sure to check out our Smarty Guide to 2014-15 School Open Houses.

Charlotte Christian School

Charlotte Christian

Established in 1950, Charlotte Christian School is a Christ-centered, college preparatory, independent, non-denominational school serving students in grades JK-12. Their vision for students includes the integration of a Biblical worldview into a curriculum where character, values and essential life skills are emphasized and modeled by a professional and dedicated faculty. A rigorous academic program is offered including strong co-curricular offerings with successful athletic and fine arts programs. For more information, schedule a tour of campus, attend an open house or visit

Open House Schedule:

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6pm
Grades JK-5 Open House (dinner provided)

To RSVP, please register here. For more information, visit

Charlotte Christian Logo

Charlotte Christian School
7301 Sardis Road
Charlotte, NC 28270
(704) 366-5657
twitter: @charchristiannc

January 24, 2015

Playmobil -Toys for the Crazy in Us?

While hanging at a toy store one afternoon, I started browsing the Playmobil catalogue. After reading for only a few minutes, I quickly determined the toy makers at Playmobil to be seriously sick people. I started a list of the most inappropriate products and decided insanity like this needs to be shared.

I present you with my personal WTF products. I’m not making any of this up. Each and every toy is currently for sale online. I’ve included links for all you non-believers.

Sit back, enjoy and get ready to question humanity . . .

Playmobile Workout Room

The Fitness Room Collection

Start their Lululemon obsession off early! It’s the perfect time to force your dolls to shed some pounds! Oh, is that a boom box? The toy sized scale is ideal for early self esteem skills. On the website it says this toy is available in August. Damn, isn’t summer what we want our toys getting in shape for? Bad move Playmobil.

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January 23, 2015

Fitness Friday: Pure Barre’s Baby Bounce Back

Pure Barre Baby Bounce Back

Smarties, we’re having a blast with our jacked up Fitness Friday series! Today we are featuring Pure Barre’s “Baby Bounce Back” special. Who better to chat with than Caris Malone of Pure Barre Ballantyne – she’s expecting her 2nd and she’s a barre diva!

Tell us about Pure Barre’s Baby Bounce Back.

For $450 you get 3 months of unlimited classes. Clients can purchase the package up until their child turns 1. Keep in mind, typically, one month of unlimited classes costs $225 so you basically get one month free. As an added bonus, you can take advantage of the new client special, which is $100 for one month unlimited. So big savings here with four months of great pricing!

Why is Pure Barre good for pregnancy and postpartum?

The first thing that goes on us pregnant gals is our abs. Which is why we got those awesome pains in our back, hips and legs. Pure Barre is a 55-minute AB workout. Your first thought during each exercise should be to pull your navel into your spine; creating strong, flat abs. Doing Pure Barre during pregnancy helps keep your abdominal wall strong, which helps during your first post-partum workout. The stronger your abs are during your pregnancy the faster you will be able to bounce back.

It is also super important to stretch, whether pregnant or not. We spend a lot of time in Pure Barre focusing on long, lean muscles. You achieve these muscles through stretch. Be present in every second of stretch during class; try not to shorten your stretches during class. It is also a good idea to stretch even more when you are outside of the studio. While your Bravo or HGTV is on break out in a little butterfly, straddle, or pike stretch. It will make a huge difference in how you sleep and feel the next day. Read More →

Channeling my Inner Audrey Hepburn as a Parent

Taking away Annie’s pacifier (at age 2) was, at the time, one of the most difficult things I had faced as a parent. It was brutal as she also learned to climb out of the crib the same night. It was a dreaded day on many accounts. Bedtime quickly went from a 5 minute beautiful time to an hour long dreaded ritual. As I shed tears over my frustration at the park to my dear Mom friends one remarked, “is it really that you are frustrated with Annie, or are you just frustrated with your new reality?” Her words hit me like a ton of bricks. Annie was coming into her own as a two-year-old. She was learning to express her opinion and stand up to change. This was my new reality. Hepburn

The two’s have been a rollercoaster. I go from adoring my child so much to reigning in my screaming two minutes later. It has not been easy for me and to be frank, I think I was completely unprepared. Most parents talk about how horrible their two-year-old is, but what about the parent? I’ve been shocked at my own behavior. Is that embarrassing to admit? No, I’ve never spanked etc. but at times I’ve been downright angry with this child who is beautiful, innocent and mostly doesn’t know better. I’ve been too harsh, and yet I’ve babied too much. It’s been, perhaps, the most humbling year of my life.

I’ve learned to have patience for the mother in the grocery store who is short with her child. She’s imperfect just like me. I’ve eaten my words as I’ve bribed with goldfish or a TV show. I’ve read multiple books, tried new techniques and worked to reign in my impatience. As a child, harsh, loud words made me cry at the drop of the bucket; yet, I’ve found myself raising my voice. My heart breaks as I think how it must feel when I lose it over silly battles like wearing a tutu to Target. I am nearing the end of the terrible twos and still debating if the three’s will be terrific or terrifying. I’ve learned a lot this last year. A lot about Annie, myself and my husband. Read More →

January 22, 2015

From the Smarty Health Corner: All About CEENTA

When something is right in your backyard, you don’t always realize how lucky you are to have it. In 1923, Charlotte welcomed Charlotte Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and its three physicians to the community (that’s 92 years ago!). Better known now as Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates (CEENTA), CEENTA has over 100 providers in 19 locations bringing specialty care to our community.RS_CEENTA

What does it mean to have the second largest multi-specialty practice of its kind on the East Coast in your city? You don’t have to travel to receive top-quality care! Their physicians come from prestigious medical schools and fellowship programs which mean you and your family are receiving the best possible care when you visit them.

Did you know these fun facts about CEENTA?
– One of its physicians invented a three-dimensional fluoroscope that helps radiologists and doctors locate foreign bodies on X-ray and also proved that glass in the eye can be photographed on X-ray film.
– One of its physicians pioneered the nasal approach to tear duct surgery.
– One of its physicians designed the ear tube.

You don’t have to be practicing with or working for a medical university to discover more in your field. Actually, in 1992, CEENTA’s clinical research department, Southeast Clinical Research Associates, LLC, was established to conduct phase I-IV clinical research trials on eye and ear, nose and throat disorders. To this day, they continue to advance medicine through their research studies. Read More →

Dear Nike,

Let me start by saying, I’ve supported you from almost day 1, before you were the powerhouse brand that you are today. In my early days, I wore these vintage 80s Nike Canvas Tennis Shoes for five years in a row.


I had them in every color – light blue, navy blue and red. I lived for these shoes. That is when my love affair with Nike began.

Over the years, I’ve bought pretty much everything you’ve put in front of me. Nike was a brand that essentially raised me.

Then I gave birth to four beautiful and athletic children. They had Nikes as soon as they could walk. So now you’re raising my kids.


My first Nike snafu began with the Nike Elite sock craze that hit HARD in the Plym household last year. I remember my twin 8-year-old boys telling me they HAD to have Elite socks. That was the first time they ever had an opinion about clothes and style, so I thought “why not?” They are boys and let’s face it, boys typically don’t care all that much about fashion, so why not embrace a new trend for them. And then I saw the $15/pair price tag (which has now gone up to $18-$20!), and my jaw hit the floor.

Lucky for me, my kids are growing up with alot of siblings. We talk about “street smarts” often, and they used their noggins to score a big loot of Nike Elites right out of the gate. Remember, they are twins, and the timing of the Elite craze hit right before their birthday. They must have told every friend that they wanted a pair of these over-priced socks. They received 14 pairs of socks that year – 7 for each of them. Just like you to invent the perfect birthday party gift at a $15 price point. Genius, as usual. Read More →

January 21, 2015

Support GoJenGo with Charlotte Checker’s Pink Weekend February 6th & 7th

Pink in the Rink Go Jen Go

From our Smarty friends at GoJenGo:

Many will remember the moment pictured above from last year. A mere five days after Jen’s passing, we were afforded the opportunity to show our support of Jen’s family and the GoJenGo Foundation at Pink in the Rink. The Checkers organization did what they always do for us – honored Jen in a very public and powerful way. We watched a video and the Checkers players, in a rare appearance on-ice during a period break, circled the rink to honor her memory.

Bring the family and join us yet again for an exciting night of hockey that celebrates the commitment the Charlotte Checkers have shown year after year to our local survivors and the organizations that serve them! The event has become so popular that is has expanded to two nights! GoJenGo will be honored on Saturday, February 7th, but a portion of tickets sold through the link above (or simply click on picture) from both nights will be donated to GoJenGo. Plus, if you buy tickets through this GJG link, you will be seated with GoJenGo faithful! Tickets are $16 with $5 going back to GJG. But you gotta act fast. Tickets for this event SELL OUT! Read More →

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events: January 23-25

Discovery Place

Smarty Scoop is proudly sponsored by Discovery Place, Discovery Place KIDS – Huntersville and The Charlotte Nature Museum.


Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week
All around Charlotte (125 restaurants)
See website for details
January 16-25, 3 courses for $30
Summary: Resolve to treat yourself like royalty in the New Year, as 125 of the best restaurants in metro Charlotte, NC, offer 3 courses (or more) at dinner for only $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Reservations are recommended. Take a tour through the participating restaurants’ menus and book your table today. It’s the best of Charlotte dining for a deal! Some, but not all, participating restaurants use OpenTable for online reservations. Please see the individual restaurant pages for reservation instructions.

St. Ann Catholic Church Concert
St. Ann Catholic Church
3635 Park Road, Charlotte, NC (704) 523-4641
January 23, 7:00pm, All ages, $8-$30
Summary: “Winter Songs and Spring Trifles” features music and verse from the Middle Ages to today about the New Year and the anticipation of a new season.  Program narration by Griffin will include poetry from the ages.

Foodtruck Friday
1613 Camden Road Charlotte, NC
Every Friday, 5:00pm – 9:00pm, All ages, Free
Summary: Every Friday night, Charlotte’s favorite food trucks gather on the lot at the corner of Park and Camden in the Historic South End. These aren’t the roach coaches of yesteryear! The nationwide revolution of the food truck industry has hit Charlotte, and we’ve got an ever-growing community of trucks that cater to your every taste. From burgers to tacos to soul food to cupcakes to ice cream and everything in between…there’s something for everyone. Meeting every Friday night since February 2012, Food Truck Fridays have taken the city by storm. Periodically featuring entertainment as well, the crowds have swelled to over 1,000 each week. We’re family and dog-friendly, too! So bring a chair, bring a blanket, BYOB, bring the kids, take the dog…it’s a neighborhood night out in a relaxed, casual atmosphere. Most of the trucks accept credit cards as well as cash. Accessible by public transportation…take the light rail to Bland Station. A good time and great food are guaranteed!

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January 20, 2015

Smarty Giveaway: Grace Thomas™ – the NEW 2015 American Girl of the Year!

We told you recently about the 2015 American Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas ™. We know you’re thrilled because Grace is a super cool entrepreneur and let’s face it, she’s just precious – all of the American Girl Dolls are. We think Grace is a PERFECT addition AND we think you’re going to be really excited because Charlotte Smarty Pants is giving away one Grace Thomas ™ American Girl Doll to one lucky Smarty Reader!

Here’s what happened when my two sweet girls found out they were getting to have Grace Thomas come live at our house! They could not contain themselves! Yes there was shouting and jumping and so much smiling…
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