Top 5 Picks for the Week, August 3, 2012

Italian Ice, Geeky Gifts, Make it Yourself, Fantastic Food, and Children’s Books

1. Rita’s: Ice. Custard. Happiness.

Photo Credit: RitasIce.com

Photo Credit: RitasIce.com

This spring we were introduced to one of the East Coast’s culinary delights, Italian Ice.  Growing up in the rural Midwest, we did not have any businesses in our area that made this product or sold it regularly.  Hearing nothing but great reviews I was anxious to try it out, and friends suggested that we go straight to the source, Rita’s.  We were blown away by the flavors and texture.  Their Italian Ice is made fresh daily using real fruit, which you can easily tell from the outstanding taste.   They also offer sugar-free flavors and fat-free Slenderita vanilla custard.  If you are looking to indulge a little more, try their Cream IceMistos, Blendinis, Gelatis, or Milkshakes all incorporating their original rich and creamy Frozen Custard.  Since starting out in Pennsylvania back in 1984, Rita’s has grown to over 500 locations across the United States.  Join their Birthday Club and follow your local Rita’s on Twitter for great discounts and promotions.  Hit them up before summer is over and enjoy a cool and unique treat today.

2. Think Geek

Photo Credit: ThinkGeek.com

Photo Credit: ThinkGeek.com

Think Geek is one of my favorite online sites to hit up when I’m looking for fun items to liven up my desk or for great gift ideas.  Specializing in tech, science, comic, and entertaining products and apparel, they are sure to have things you’ve never seen before and bring a smile to your face.  Where else could you find a Chewbacca Messenger BagGummy Bear Ice Cube Trays, or a Wi-Fi Detector Shirt?  Perfect for every occasion, Think Geek has jewelry and accessories for the ladies; money clips and multi-tools for the gentlemen; even toys and t-shirts for the little ones.  Browse through their ever-expanding selection of geek-inspired merchandise and don’t forget to hit the Clearance section.  You’ll have the coolest cube in the building thanks to them.

3. MAKE

Photo Credit: Makezine.com

Photo Credit: Makezine.com

If you are one of the crowd that would rather spend your weekends at the craft bench or in the garage rather than on the couch, MAKE is your kind of site.  It has been developed to provide an online source to showcase projects, tweaks, hacks, and enhanced technology performed by a growing group of talented people, like yourself.  Scientist, inventors, crafters, and gardeners all contribute to the content and provide you with the steps and tools necessary to complete projects for your home and office.  Not sure you have all of the supplies you’ll need for a task or looking for a fun science experiment to do with the kids? You can purchase one of their kits bundling everything together for your convenience.  Bringing the vast community together, they also host Maker Faires across the globe.  Between live events, stay connected to news and advancements through their daily blog.  More than your basic DIY site, MAKE is sure to entertain and inspire.

4. Iowa Girl Eats

Photo Credit: IowaGirlEats.com

Photo Credit: IowaGirlEats.com

“Eat well, run often, and travel far” is Kristin Porter’s philosophy, blogger of Iowa Girl Eats.  Tearing down the notion that you must live on one the coasts or in a major metropolitan city to enjoy great food, her site is a refreshing place to visit for healthy and unique recipes.  Her posts are honest, open, beautifully photographed, and the results are delicious.  You can feel her passion come through in the writing and images.  Going beyond just her culinary talents, Kristin also shares her workout routines, tips, tools, and her personal log highlighting her day’s activities.  Additionally, the site has a page dedicated to her travels and one for daily escapes to just take a mini vacation in your mind to various exotic locations.  Inspiring me to enjoy life more, Iowa Girl Eats has found a home in my bookmarks bar.

5. Children’s Books Guide

Photo Credit: Children's Books Guide, Dr. Seuss

Photo Credit: Children’s Books Guide, Dr. Seuss

I have always been a fan of children’s literature.  I was blessed at one point in my life to work in the media center of an elementary school.  Between designing bulletin boards, reading to the kids, and watching them learn, I was in heaven.  Authors such as E.B. White, C.S Lewis, and Kate DiCamillo all hold a special place in my heart, and are responsible for the education and enlightenment of millions of children through numerous generations.  Even though it’s only been a few years now since I was fully immersed in the “kiddie lit” culture, it can be difficult to remember all of the greats and to keep up on the new works.  Children’s Book Guide has become the tool many parents and teachers are turning to for direction in this matter.  The site has several pages listing the top books with cover art and a quick synopsis, Top 100 Children’s Books of All-Time, Caldecott Medal Award Winners, and Best Book Series for Young Adults, just to name a few.  If your students are studying dinosaurs, for example, use their search to find the best books related to that subject.  They also offer a section for assistance with Social and Behavior Issues addressing topics like sharing and coping a with the loss of a loved one.  Start getting your kids ready and excited for school to start again soon; visit the Children’s Book Guide and swing by your public library to start checking off your must-read list.

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