Mar 212015
 

**Disclosure:  I was invited to take part in an amazing press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  I swear**

While I was on a recent trip to Universal Orlando Resort, I had a chance to spend some time at CityWalk.  Actually, I ended up spending quite a bit of time there because there is so much to see & do. CityWalk is a massive entertainment/dining complex and it’s located adjacent to both of the theme parks. Everyone heading to one of the parks will pass through it and yes, there is a Starbucks there, so you can grab a coffee on the way in.

Not only does CityWalk play host to  a variety of restaurants, shops, night clubs and a huge cinema complex, they hold many different concerts and special events all year long. CityWalk is 30 Acres of fun and you will certainly find something for everyone there.

IMG_7330

Universal Citywalk

I spent three nights in Orlando and was at CityWalk all three of those nights.  My first night there, I had the pleasure of eating at the The Cowfish Burger Sushi Bar.  The Cowfish is the first and only “Sushi Burger Bar”! You’re probably scratching your head right about now thinking burgers and sushi?  Well, trust me, they make it work and if you are looking for a place to totally pig out, this is it! Continue reading »

Mar 202015
 

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Collage

**Disclosure:  I was stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort as part of an awesome press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  Really.**

Have you ever dreamt about visiting the South Seas, but were put off by the amount of travel involved?  What if I told you that I know how you can get a taste of the South Seas, without having to travel halfway around the world.  I recently had a chance to spend a few nights at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort and I honestly felt like I was on a tropical vacation.

check in

As soon as I arrived, I was greeted with a cheerful “Aloha” by the friendly hotel staff member that checked me in.  I arrived at the hotel a little bit before the 4 pm check-in time, so my room wasn’t quite ready when I got there.  The folks over at Luggage Services gladly held my bag for me until my room was ready, which freed me up to explore the hotel.

While I waited, I sat outside in the Orchid Court Lounge.  It’s a lovely area where I was able to enjoy the reflection pool that was surrounded by gorgeous carved statues. Continue reading »

Mar 192015
 

**Disclosure: As a Verizon #VZWBuzz  #VZBoston Lifestyle Blogger, I’m a member of a pretty cool team of influencers who share information about mobile living.   I was provided a device at no charge and compensation for my participation.  There has been no editing by a third party, nor any promise of positive feedback.   All opinions are my own.

It’s that time of  year again, folks.  Two words: spring cleaning.  None of us love it, but it’s a necessary evil.  And, honestly, don’t you feel good when you’re little piece of the world is all spic & span?  I know I do, even though it usually only lasts for a couple of days (if that).

Off topic a little bit for a second, but a few weeks back I got a Droid.  I’ve always been an Apple girl, so I have been spending the last few weeks getting acquainted with my new phone.  A few weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch playing around with my new phone, a dust bunny rolled by.  Eventually I got up to pick the big old dust bunny up and throw it away, but before I did,  I thought to myself, “I need to make this phone work for me.”  And I did.

I decided to go into Google Play and search for apps that were going to make my life easier and help me get my house in tip top shape. I narrowed it down to seven of them, actually.  Here they are (in no particular order).

1. Spring Cleaning Checklist

This is a free app that has spring cleaning checklists for every room in your house.

Spring Cleaning Checklist App

This app literally covers everything in your house. I mean right down to cleaning your blinds and wiping down windowsills. Continue reading »

Mar 182015
 

Mardi Gras Universal Studios Florida

**Disclosure:  I was invited to take part in the most amazing press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  I swear**

Although Fat Tuesday came and went last month, the Mardi Gras festivities are still going strong down at Universal Studios in Orlando! Every spring, you can enjoy the fun & excitement of “The Big Easy” right at Universal Orlando!  On Saturdays and select nights through April 18, Universal Studio’s Mardi Gras event treats their guests to an authentic celebration that transforms the a section of the park into a family-friendly version of the famous New Orleans festivities.

The annual event features big-name concerts, traditional Cajun cuisine, street performers, live music and one heck of a parade – oh, and that’s all in addition to complete access to all of the awesome Universal Orlando theme park attractions!!

Once you’re inside the park, you can visit the French Quarter Courtyard where you can eat authentic Cajun foods and listen to live music.  Every night during the event, you can listen to some of Louisiana’s most popular bands performing authentic blues, jazz, zydeco and more. I had a chance to listen to a from songs from a band called the Mississippi Rail Company & they were absolutely phenomenal. Continue reading »

Mar 172015
 

Snowboarding Tips

**I was invited to a complimentary day of snowboarding at Wachusett Mountain as part of a media event.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

For years I’ve wanted to try my hand at snowboarding.  I can ski, although I haven’t done so in a number of years, but for whatever reason, I had never given snowboarding a try – until last week.

Wachusett-Mountain-trails

I was invited to spend the day at Wachusett Mountain Resort in Princeton, MA.  I had the option to ski or snowboard, but I knew right away that this was my chance to have a go with the snowboard, so I jumped on it. Plus, I was going solo, so my husband wasn’t going to be standing there laughing at me, which was an added bonus.

Fun fact:  “Wachusett” is the Algonquin Indian word for “The Great Hill”.

As you know, winter is not over yet, and thanks to the copious amounts of snow we got here in the Boston area this year, there is still plenty of time to spend at the slopes.  In case you want to try your hand at snowboarding, I decided I’d go over some tips for snowboarding with you today.  You can never be too “safe” when it comes to snowboarding and I definitely learned a lot while I was out there on the bunny slope last week.

Bundle Up

It’s safe to say that if you’re going to go snowboarding, you should probably bundle up! Bundling up allows you to stay warm while you adventure out into the snow. Continue reading »

Mar 162015
 

Healthy Snacks for Hungry After School Bellies: Make them something good and filling that won't disrupt their dinner!My kids come home every single day starving. How? I’ll never know. Their lunches are completely full to the top of their lunch boxes, and when I say full I mean 5 snacks and a sandwich. Their lunches are full of healthy and filling foods so I just don’t get it. However, When they are hungry – they are hungry so what else can you do besides feed them?

Well, Lately I’ve decided to be a little more on the strict side when it comes to after school snacks. They get home from the bus stop around 3:30/3:35 and we usually eat dinner around 5:00-5:30 so I’d like to them to eat their dinner more than snack on a bunch of snacks.

I’ve come up with some idea’s for after school snacks, my kids just LOVE them so hopefully yours will too!

Tuna Cheese Dip with Crackers & Breadsticks – This is fairly easy and has nothing out of the ordinary in it. I use Dolphin Friendly tuna in water. Drain, Mix well with Mayo, Shred some cheese – put to one side of container, and serve surrounded by cheese crackers and mini breadsticks! Yum. They absolutely love this one.

tunaA Bento Full Snack - I love using Bento box type lunch boxes and having fruit chunks, veggies with dip and crackers ready for them! Sometimes I’ll cube cheese, put celery and PB in there or even just put out a bunch of things and let them fill their box, once that’s full that’s their snack. Continue reading »

Mar 152015
 

I don’t know about you, but I have been known to have epic Netflix marathons.  My kids are off with their dad most Saturdays and there have been times that I have literally sat on my couch from the time I woke up until bedtime just watching entire seasons of shows on Netflix.  True story.

netflix

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do this every weekend – or even once a month for that matter, but I work hard and sometimes I deserve a break.   For me a break involves great snacks, pajamas and my television.  And hey, if I am going to spend the day vegging out in front of the tv, I may as well do it right and binge watch shows on Netflix that I missed out on. Am I right?

If it weren’t for Netflix, I would have missed out on a lot of great shows, so today, I am going to tell you about five of my favorites (in no particular order). These are all shows that I never would have started watching had it not been for Netflix making it possible.

1. How I Met Your Mother

This sitcom details desperate bachelor Ted’s epic search for his soul mate, told through flashbacks as an adult Ted recounts to his kids how he met their mom. As Ted bounces from one red herring to another, his best friends help keep him grounded.

How I Met Your Mother Netflix

Remember above when I said that my five favorite binge watched shows were in no particular order?  That may have been a little bit of a white lie because I CAN NOT get enough of How I Met Your Mother.  It’s tied for my all time favorite comedy show (along with Scrubs) and it’s one of those shows I can sit and watch over & over again. The characters are so funny and you can’t help but love them all. Continue reading »

Mar 122015
 

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes The Perfect St. Patrick's Day Treat1

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit! That’s “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day” in Irish. If you really want to impress your pals, make sure you alter the grammar of it to Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh when addressing two or more people. However, nothing will astound your friends like these amazing Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes, the perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat!

These cupcakes are rich, moist, and the perfect balance of fluffy and thick decadence. An entire bottle of Guinness goes into these party-friendly delights. The flavor sings through dessert, adding a unique taste that compliments the chocolate. You can frost them with a fluffy white or vanilla frosting to fully encompass the tang of a bottle of Guinness. Using a chocolate ganache topping is also a delicious option.

You Will Need:

  • 1 bottle of Guinness (11.2 oz if you are lucky enough to have it on tap)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3/4 cup of quality cocoa
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of sour cream (plain Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Continue reading »

Mar 112015
 

**This is a sponsored post on behalf of  Pica Books.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

I feel like I have one of the pickiest eaters in the entire world sometimes. My seven year old would literally live on sting cheese, lollipops and goldfish crackers if I would let him. Seriously.  I honestly have no idea how he sustains himself sometimes because his eating is so erratic and unhealthy.  Not long ago I posted some of my best tips for dealing with picky eaters, but recently a new tool has come to my attention and I wanted to share it with you today.

It’s called the Pica Food App!

pica food logo

Pica Food is just one of Pica Book’s interactive animated educational books and games for your kid and a 10-minute expert advice video for you parents! Read, listen and play with your kid!

Learn together how you can encourage your child to transform an unhealthy menu into a healthy one, and receive a personalized diploma for your kid saying he is all grown up, and knows how to eat right to stay healthy and strong. You can share the diploma with your family and friends! Continue reading »

Mar 092015
 

**This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CrispyComeback #CollectiveBias**

M&M's Crispy Monster Cookies Recipe

You asked for it and you got it.  Oh yeah, I’m talking about M&M’s® Crispy!  They’re back! Customers asked for them and M&M’s brought them back due to the high demand. I was totally hooked on them when they were out before and when I heard that they were making a comeback, I couldn’t get to CVS fast enough to get some.

I found them right on candy aisle and may or may not have bought five bags of them when I was there.  Ok, I did, but come on, they’re awesome. M&M’s are my all time favorite candy and the crispy ones are SO good.  If you missed them when they were out before, get out there and get yourself some.  You will thank me.

M&M's Crispy CVS

In case you haven’t figured this out for yourself already, M&M’s are great to bake with.  You can do so much with them, but since I am a cookie addict, I went with M&M’s® Crispy Monster Cookies! Continue reading »

Mar 062015
 

Making the Most Out of a Bad Situation: No one likes being left with a huge issue or situation especially if it's bad. With kids? it can seem even more extreme than we are used to, heres how we deal with it! - massholemommy.com

The past year or so I’ve really been pushed to my limit as a parent. My patience has worn thin and my temper has gotten the best of me. No, I’m not talking about my kids making me mad, or having no patience with my kids. I’m talking about things that involve my kids. School issues, to household occurrences out of our control that put my kids health or safety in jeopardy. I’ve been put to the test and I will say, I’ve cracked. The pressure has been way too much for this mama bear.

As you may be well aware, because I know even Robin has shared here how much snow she has gotten this winter over in Mass, well Toronto has been hit pretty hard too. Not with much snow, we are all pretty used to snow – but temperature wise, it’s been really awful. This February Toronto has been under quite a few deep freezes. So much so over 2,200 people have called into the City without water due to freezing pipes.

Guess what? We are one of them! Right now there are 400 homes without water. As of now we’ve been without water over a WEEK. Yes, a week. Our toilets won’t flush, our showers and bath tubs won’t fill up, we can’t wash our hands, or dishes. It’s been something I have never ever experienced before and I can’t say I’m too happy, my limits have yet again been put to the test and I failed miserably. Continue reading »

Mar 052015
 

**I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Reebok and Finish Line. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating**

Are you looking for ways to keep your kids active? It’s so tempting to allow our kids to stay inside to play video games and watch television, but it’s important for them to get moving! I wanted to share some ways you can keep your kids active around the house.

#1. Have a Dance Party

Nothing gets the body moving faster than a dance party. Plus, your kids will love the fact that they are getting in exercise without even really trying. You can have a freestyle dance party, or you can try and learn a specific dance together.

#2. Set up an Obstacle Course

Putting together an obstacle course is really simple, you just use what you have lying around your home. You can create an indoor obstacle course or put together one outside. Either way, your kids will have a great time completing and competing.

#3. Create a Drum Line

What little person doesn’t like to bang on items? Just like a marching band marches, allow your kids to create a drum line and begin marching around the neighborhood. Anything and everything can be used for drums. Use old pans, sticks, or anything else you can find. The most important thing is that your kids have fun.

#4. Play Silly Games

When it comes to getting active, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Playing silly games with your kids is one way to keep them active. Games like “Follow the Leader” and “Simon Says” are great games that kids of multiple ages can play together. Don’t be afraid to try new games that keep your kids active. You never know which ones they’ll love. Continue reading »

Mar 042015
 

Big Hero 6 Cupcakes Baymax Recipe

**Disclosure:  My family received a copy of Big Hero 6 on Blu-ray & DVD at no charge.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Have you ever wanted to make your favorite character from Big Hero 6, but weren’t sure where to start? We recently got a copy of Disney’s Big Hero 6 on Blu-ray & DVD and I wanted to bring Baymax to life for my kids while we watched the movie, so I put my baking skills to the test. You can make these Baymax from Big Hero 6 cupcakes too! Just follow along.

Supplies:

  • 1 or 2 cupcake pans
  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix
  • 1 tube of black icing
  • 1 tube of vanilla frosting
  • Cupcake liners

Big Hero 6 Cupcakes1

Here’s what you do:

1.  Mix the cake mix together as instructed on the box. Continue reading »

Mar 032015
 

**This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #bringinginnovation #CollectiveBias**

5 Easy Steps Kids Can Take to be More Green

Have you ever wondered how you can get the kids more involved in being “green” around the house? There are tons of ways you can help the kids of your home become greener. I can tell you that the first step in being successful in this area is modeling the following behaviors yourself.

Shut the Front Door

Literally! My kids will come inside and forget to shut the front door. If you stand beside our front door and the screen door is open, so much cold air pours in. I don’t know about you, but it’s extremely cold where we are and an open front door makes the house just as cold.

Energizer New EcoAdvanced Recycled Batteries Shut the Front Door

Recycle 

We go through a lot of plastics in our house and because of that we’ve started recycling. By reducing the amount of stuff the kids throw away, they are helping to not only be green around the house but for the whole planet.  Before you recycle it, is there anything you can reuse or repurpose?  Try turning something old into something new. Continue reading »

Mar 022015
 

Crafting With Kids- The Good, The Baahd and The Ugly

So here is the reality of crafting with preschoolers- not much of it is pretty. Things can get downright messy and sometimes the glitter and glue can get out of hand. After attempting this sheep craft I wondered how much of the ugly do we really get to see on Pinterest? (This is pretty ugly).

My husband and I laughed at this little sheep idea I had for Chinese New Year. I thought it would be great to have the girls dump glue onto a paper plate and smear it around with a paint brush.

Crafting With Kids- The Good, The Baahd and The Ugly1

Then use chop sticks to transfer the cotton balls to the plate (because the chopsticks make it so Chinese). Continue reading »

Feb 282015
 

Mint M&M Bark Image

I don’t know how it is in your family, but in my house, each of us have a major sweet tooth.  Sure, a bag of M&M’s can satisfy that craving on most days, but every now then isn’t it fun to go all out and make something a little bit fancier with your candy?  That is why I love this mint M&M bark.  It’s super easy to make and even more importantly, it will not only cure your need for something sweet, but it will totally take care of your craving for something savory, too.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup mint M&M’s
1 1/2 C. broken pretzel pieces
1 12 oz package of Wilton dark chocolate candy melts
St. Patty’s sprinkles (green & white)

Directions:

1. Line a 9×13 baking sheet with wax paper or foil. Spread 3/4 cup of the mini M&M’s and all of the broken pretzel pieces onto the lined cookie sheet. Continue reading »

Feb 262015
 

Age Approrpriate Easter Basket Ideas: without all the junk! who needs it anyway?? - massholemommy.com

It’s never too early to start thinking about Easter! It’s coming soon so I’ve started thinking about what I can do. What exactly do kids need in an Easter basket? Probably nothing, but what would they like? Every single year I go all out. Last year I started toning it down a little bit and making sure there was a lot less candy and chocolate involved in all Holiday’s and I try to shop as frugally as I can when it comes to Baskets, Gift Bags and Treats for special days.

What I will buy my 11 year-old I most definitely won’t buy my 5 year old or 3 year old, so there’s lists I make to ensure I fill up the baskets with age appropriate toys, books, trinkets and gadgets that they will actually use. So, I sat down and came up with some ideas after looking around the dollar store and two other stores.

Ages 1-3:

  • Board Books
  • Blocks
  • Bunny Stuffed Toy
  • Puffs Baby Food
  • Socks
  • Cars
  • Light up toys

Continue reading »

Feb 252015
 

GE

Dr. Seuss’s birthday is quickly approaching on March 2nd.  Can you believe he would have been 111 years old this year?  His books are timeless classics and my boys both enjoy reading many of his stories.

One of my favorite books growing up was One Fish Two Fish by Dr. Seuss. This book came out in the 1960’s and continues to be a huge hit today. I love taking the concepts of Dr. Seuss and turning them into something fun for the kids to do. The craft we did is a spin off One Fish Two Fish by Dr. Seuss.

Supplies:
Construction Paper
Various Color Paint
Glitter
Paint Stampers
Paper Plates

Directions:
1.  Spread paint out on paper plates. We chose to use red, blue, and green because those are the only paint colors we had on hand. Dr. Seuss would want you to use your imagination, so go ahead and give it a try! Use whatever paint you have on hand.
2.  Dip your hand in the paint. If your kids are younger, they will need some direction. Your “fish” can go to the left or to the right. Whichever you choose.

GE
Continue reading »

Feb 242015
 

5 Things to do in Mystic CT During the Winter

When you think of Mystic, CT, what comes to mind?  Boating?  Fishing?  Summer?

Sure, Mystic is a fantastic place for your summer vacation, but did you know that a visit to Mystic during the winter can be just as much fun? I know, you’re probably thinking – “Don’t a lot of things shut down for the winter?”  Well, the answer is yes and no.  There are a few shops and restaurants that only open for the summer in Mystic, but for the most part, everything stays open year round. Not only is it a great place for a romantic getaway, Mystic has some really fun, family friendly attractions as well.  My husband, Chris, and I spent this past weekend in Mystic and today I am going to share five things that you can do in Mystic during the winter.

1.  The Mystic Seaport

The Mystic Seaport is known as the Museum of America and the Sea. It includes three major components for people who visit: a re-created 19th -century coastal village with historic ships, a working preservation shipyard, and formal exhibit galleries.  The Mystic Seaport is located across 19 acres of land along Connecticut’s Mystic River.  There is definitely something for everyone at the Mystic Seaport.

IMG_7116

The preservation shipyard is something to see.  My husband and I got to spend a few minutes watching a really skilled craftsman use 19th century tools and techniques to preserve this historic wooden ship.  It was fascinating to watch. Continue reading »

Feb 232015
 

Gross Science Project

Recently, I have been hearing my oldest son, who is ten years old, start to talk about what he wants to do when he grows up.  I have heard a few different ideas floating around like becoming a chef, being an inventor and being a scientist.

I just want him to be happy with whatever he chooses to do with his life, but since he’s still so young, I figure I can take the opportunity to help him explore all of the things he’s been mentioning.  In addition to working together in the kitchen, my son has been busy inventing all sorts of things up in his room.  I also bought a few books with simple science experiments that we can do at home to help encourage his love of science.  My son zoned in on one activity in particular: making boogers.  Yes, boogers.

Have you ever wondered where boogers and snot come from? C’mon admit it, everyone has! Children and adults alike get boogers and snot from time to time; no one is exempt from these things. Snot and boogers are actually formed from proteins and sugars in our bodies, that mix and in turn become stringy. That my friend is where snot comes from. When those strings of protein harden, you have boogers. It is gross and fascinating at the same time! Find out more about how boogers and snot are made when you try this homemade boogers and snot recipe below!

Here is what you will need:
½ cup of hot water
2 packets of clear gelatin
¼ cup of sugar
Green food coloring
Spoon Continue reading »