Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NYTMBlog Travels: Medieval Times

Last week we had Fall Break at our school so my girls and I, in true fashion, lived it up. School breaks are a time for fun, lots of it.

One of our stops last week was to Medieval Times.

Now, I love Medieval Times.

I can remember visiting them when I was in 6th grade (Twenty years ago... wow, I'm old). I loved it.

So I packed up the girls and we made the drive to Kissimmee.

Medieval Times is a full-on entertainment dinner. We got front row seats in the yellow section (Go Yellow!) and got down to eating with our bare-hands.

The girls were so excited. They are total horse-lovin' girls so they were right at home. They had little yellow flags that they could wave at our knight as he trotted on by.

The entire show lasts about 2 hours and is packed with entertainment. There's the presentations of the knights, the demonstration of the horses, the Master Horseman, the drama and the actual battle against evil.

It was exciting, I have to admit... plus, the food was good (I won't lie and say it was amazing... but I don't know if eating chicken with your bare hands, unless it's fried, is amazing). The entire Bill of Fare (food) was: garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, oven-roasted chicken, a spare rib, potato wedges, a pastry (ours was apple) and a choice of beverages.

We were able to purchase flashing souvenirs (which helped because it is dark inside during the show). We spent the whole two hours cheering and clapping as loudly as I could.

Sadly, our knight did not win, but he did toss a flower to Roo and she was thrilled about it (Turtle, not so much because she wanted a flower too and couldn't understand why she didn't get one).

Overall, it was a great time for us. The girls were happy. I was happy. I could not ask for a better outcomes.

Prices for Medieval Times are as follows: Adults $59.95 and for Children 12 and Under $35.95.Be sure to call and see if there are any discounts for Florida Residents!

Check out their website and their Facebook page to get more information.

Note to FTC: I received media tickets to attend this event and review it. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure policy for more information. 

NYTMBlog: Titanic the Experience

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by the Titanic.

When I was in elementary school I can remember flipping through books in my school's library and examining every photo.

I'm not sure why I was enchanted by the whole thing, but I was.

And I still am.

When the Titanic movie came out, I loved it. I still love it and when it comes on television, I always stop and watch it.

I first went to Titanic the Experience when it open right after the movie came out in 1998. Fast forward to today and the exhibit is back (in a new spot).

I gathered up the girls and we went to visit last week on Fall Break. 

They loved that it felt (and looked) like they were actually boarding the Titanic. I enjoyed reading all the information about the artifacts (there are over 400 artifacts!)  and the people that were aboard that fateful night.

They did have issue when we went "below deck." The noises and the darkened areas unnerved them so we rushed right through those areas. 

At the end, there is a fantastic gift shop where you can buy trinkets and dishes that are replicated from those that were actually on the Titanic. 

Overall, I loved it. I do not recommend bringing little kids (such as mine) to the exhibit. They don't understand the need to read all the information or look at every artifacts.

Titanic the Exhibit is located at 7324 International Drive in Orlando, Florida. You can call for more information, 407/248-1166, check out their webpage and make sure you "like" them on Facebook

FTC, I received media passes to do this review. All opinions are 100% my own. Please see my full disclosure policy for more details. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Click Click Click

Yesterday, my graduation present arrived in the mail.

A spankin' new Canon 60D DSLR Camera.

And I'm in heaven.

And in hell at the same time because I have to work and don't have time to go outside and take photos of chickens and flowers.

I started taking photos when I was eleven years old and since that first click, I fell in love (cheesy, I know but true). My dad bought me an amazing camera hoping to foster my creativity (Thanks, Dad!) I took photography classes. I went everywhere with my camera shooting rolls and rolls of film. It was a wonderful time in my life because it distracted me from the pains of growing up (Eleven is a real hard age).

For years I never left the house without my camera. I would take photos of my brother crossing the finish line at a cross country meet. I would lay in the grass in my backyard and wait for the right cloud to roll by so I could capture it. Flowers in cracks on the sidewalks, planes flying overhead, whatever I thought I was pretty, I snapped a picture of it.

When my girls were born, it went into overload... And with my girls also came the need for a durable, portable camera so out went the big hunky DSLR and in came the convenient point-and-shoot. The quality of my pictures went down, but my subject matters were so stinkin' cute that it didn't matter.

I finally put my foot down and said it was time for a new DSLR.

And as a graduation present my parents (Thanks, Mom and Dad!), I have in my hands a beautiful Canon 60D DSLR and a ton of photo ideas to shoot.

It's kinda like coming home, back to a passion that in truly in my blood.

And once I learn how to properly upload them here (Damn MacBook!), I'm going to share them with you. Be prepared for lots of cuteness.

Free Drinks, What? Bruegger Bagels Bottomless Mug Helps Children

Passing along news of those helping others! Check out the latest from Bruegger's Bagels:

Bagel chain launches third annual campaign for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®

(BURLINGTON, Vt.) Oct. 24, 2012 – Bruegger’s Bagels kicks off its annual fundraising for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals today with a coffee-flavored campaign that benefits children’s hospitals across the U.S. The bagel chain, known for its authentic, award-winning New York style bagels, will donate a portion of proceeds from sales of its popular Bottomless Mugs through the end of the year.

Bruegger’s Bottomless Mug Club started more than 10 years ago, and has been helping out local children’s hospitals since 2010. Guests who purchase the Bottomless Mug receive free coffee, tea and soda for the remainder of 2012 and throughout 2013, saving an average of $300 per year. Sales begin today at nearly all of 300+ Bruegger’s locations nationwide.

“Through the Bottomless Mug campaign, Bruegger’s staff and loyal guests can work miracles together for their local children’s hospital,” said Bruegger’s Bagels President David Austin. “Our customers love the benefits of the Bottomless Mug, but more importantly, enjoy the opportunity to help kids in need.”  

The highlight of the national campaign comes on Wednesday, Nov.14, when Bruegger’s hosts its popular annual Free Coffee Day until 2 p.m. Guests can enjoy their first cup on Bruegger’s while donating their spare change (or more) to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at canisters located by the register. In 2011, guests contributed more than $30,000 on Free Coffee Day.

"Bruegger’s Bagels is such a valued partner, raising both awareness and funds for our local hospitals,” said Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Chief Corporate Partnerships Officer Clark Sweat. "Through sales of its coffee mugs and the support of its guests, Bruegger’s helps us do more good for millions of children and families across the U.S.” 

Last year, Bruegger’s donated nearly $100,000 to benefit kids and families in need through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In addition to the Bottomless Mug campaign, Bruegger’s neighborhood bakeries host fundraisers and events for local children’s hospitals throughout the year.

About Bruegger's Enterprises, Inc. Bruegger's Enterprises, Inc. (BEI), a leader in the fast casual restaurant segment, operates more than 300 Bruegger’s bakeries in North America. Renowned for its award-winning bagels, Bruegger's offers a wide variety of freshly prepared breakfast and lunch options made with high-quality, simple ingredients served with its unique brand of hospitality. Bruegger's is dedicated to the communities it serves and supports charitable causes locally and nationally. BEI’s parent company, Groupe Le Duff, SA, is the world’s second largest company in the bakery-café sector. Founded in 1983, BEI is headquartered in Burlington, Vt. For more information, please visit www.brueggers.com or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/brueggers.

About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds for 170 nonprofit children’s hospitals across North America, which, in turn, use the money where it’s needed the most. When a donation is given it stays in the community, ensuring that every dollar is helping local kids. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $4 billion, most of it $1 at a time. These donations have gone to support research and training, purchase equipment, and pay for uncompensated care, all in support of the mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Learn more at CMNHospitals.org."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Update on Me

I don't know if you've noticed lately, but my blog has been all about press release and reviews. There hasn't really been anything personally personal and I wanted to say I'm sorry.

The past year I've been swamped with every little thing that life has thrown at me and things that I have lifted upon my shoulders on my own.

Needless to say, it's crazy around here.

Everything from illness, to jobs, to heart break, to anxiety, to God...

It's been insane.


Isn't there always a but?

I'm back... I have finished up my Masters Degree (as of the 26th I should be graduated), I've worked out my illnesses, I have a plan for happiness and I have a plan for my blog.

I. Am. Back.

And it's the most comforting thing in the world.

It really is true that you don't know what you have until it's gone.

Without  my blog, I had no time for me. No time for you! Nothing.

Without my blog, I didn't have a community to turn to for help and support.

Without my blog, I'm not really me.

I mean, I am... but I'm not... You get it, right?


It feels damn good to be back.

Mega Blocks Princess Party

My girls are not your typical girls... Don't get me wrong, they love girlie stuff and are crazy about Princesses... but they also love the "boy" toys at the toy store.

And I'm not picky, if they like boy toys, they get boy toys.

But I'm a girlie girl and I love pink.

So when Mega Blocs came out with PINK building blocks that were PRINCESS themed, I flipped out.

I've always loved Mega Bloks. The dang things are so sturdy (especially when someone leaves them out at night and I step on them after giving her kisses). Plus they are easy to wash. You cannot lose with these toys, I'm telling you.

The new line is called the Mega Bloks Lil Princess series.

Love it!

And you know what, my daughters flipped out.

And the little girls (and one adorable little boy) that came over to check out the latest Mega Blok toys. The kids got to play with the new 3-story Enchanted Castle, the Magic Carriage and an assortment of Princess Dewdrop, Princess Sunray and Princess Starlight.

The Enchanted Castle was a hit! The kids loved that they could build it up as high as they could and take it down and start over again. 

My oldest adores the Magic Carriage and drove it around in circles for the entire party. My youngest couldn't get enough of the Lil Princesses (she still sleeps with one under her pillow each night).

All the Moms that attended received Lil Princesses toys to take home with them along with some great coupons to purchase more Lil Princess toys on their own.

We had snacks and played all afternoon (without any fights over the toys, SCORE!) and the Moms got to catch up and check out some great new toys (Hey, Christmas is right around the corner).

Mega Bloks Lil Princess Toys are on store shelves now and you can check out their Facebook page for more information. 

I received a party package to host this party. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. 

Chevy Gives Holiday Travel Tips

Holiday travel is right around the corner... can you believe it? Where in the world does the time go? 

I'm prepping already (such a Mom) for our Christmas trip to Grandma's House.

Chevy recently gave me some holiday travel tips and I wanted to share them with you incase you are like me and already in planning mode for the holidays.

"Safe and smart travel tips as travelers venture off for holiday vacations. 

GM in the Southeast reminds Orlando residents some easy ways to maintain their vehicles and drive smarter to help save money and improve fuel economy.  Tips like:

o   No Junk in the Trunk - This holiday season when packing your luggage, make sure to pack light! GM in the Southeast wants to remind travelers that more junk in the trunk and changes to your vehicles aerodynamics, can have a big impact on fuel economy. 

o   Most cars are equipped with cruise control. Try to use cruise control when possible.  This will maintain a constant speed over time, which is much more efficient than speeding up and slowing down over and over again.

o   When you stop to grab a cup of coffee or a snack on your trip, get out of the car vs. idling for 15 minutes in the drive-thru lane.  Did you know idling for 15 minutes can burn through an average of a quarter of a gallon of gas?

o   On the highway, take it easy and drive 70 vs. 80mph. This 10-mph difference likely won’t add much time to your commute, but it will save you up to four miles per gallon on the highway.

o   Roll up those windows when on the highway even when the cool weather hits the state of Florida! Windows down on the highway will consume more fuel than air conditioning."

Travel safe, y'all! 

BYOB @ Dennys

Okay, so normally you see BYOB and you think... well, you think Beer. Nope, you cannot bring your own beer to Dennys.

BYOB stands for Build Your Own Burger (you can also build your own shakes)!

I've been a fan of Dennys since I was in high school (honestly, I use to skip school and go there in high school... sorry Mom!). I always go to Dennys for their breakfast because I'm a sucker for bacon but I took the girls last week for a surprise trip to check out their burgers.

And you know what, YUMMY!

They were really good.

The Build Your Own Burger and Shakes is a menu where you choose your core basics and build from there. You can choose  the Macho Nacho (the best name for a burger, huh?), Fresco Italiano, Cheesy Chili Cheeseburger with Cheese (think there's cheese in it?), Cali Jack Turkey, and Moons over my Hammyburger.

The names alone are enough to get your mouth watering.

You can also choose a plain burger and build it up any way you want.

I'm a plain Jane kinda gal and I always go with a Cheeseburger, add bacon and lettuce and slather it with mayo and ketchup

Delicious, I tell ya.

The endless options you can pick yourself are crazy: Beef Patty, Veggie Patty, Grilled Seasoned Chicken Breast, Turkey Patty. Find Your Base: Sesame Seed Bun, Whole Wheat Bun, Grilled Potato Bread, Cheddar Bun. Say Cheese: American, Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Swiss, Mozzarella. Choose Your Toppings: Sautéed Mushrooms, Lettuce, Pickles, Ranch, Pico de Gallo, Grilled Onions, Tomato, Mayo, Frisco Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Spinach, Red Onion, Sour Cream, Chipotle Sauce, Jalapeños.
Premium Toppings: Hash Browns, Onion Tanglers™, Mac ‘n Cheese,
Fire-Roasted Peppers & Onions, Fried Egg (Over Medium), Bacon, Coleslaw, Chili, Avocado.

The milkshakes are to die for with options like Oreo Mud Pie and Maple Bacon. 

I'm telling you, it was a great meal.

Check out Dennys website to build your own burger and shake and then find your closest Dennys and get going. 

Trust me, you won't regret it. 

I received a gift card to check out BYOB. All opinions in this post are 100% my own. 

New Trailer for Lincoln!

I'm really excited to see this movie. I'm kinda a history nerd on the side and wanted to share this with you:

The Winter Woods Come Alive in Downtown Disney

If you live near Anaheim, California...

"The Winter Woods Come Alive in Downtown Disney!

Tinker Bell and Frost Fairy Periwinkle from Disney ‘Secret of the Wings’

Winter fun comes to Downtown Disney tomorrow with the opening of the Magical Tinker Bell Rink themed to the all-new Secret of the Wings which also flutters into homes on 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD and Digital Download tomorrow.

The Winter Wonderland that Tinker Bell experiences in her new film Secret of the Wings will come to life in Downtown Disney with the grand opening of a brand new ice rink in the center of town!

Tomorrow's opening ceremony will include magical appearances by Tinker Bell and her sister, Periwinkle, Disney's own Daniel Delcourt, leading skaters onto the ice to officially open the rink -- all to celebrate the release of Secret of the Wings on Blu-ray and DVD."

Also, check out some great new activities with the Fairies!

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

National Pork Month Recipes

I adore spending time in the kitchen cooking (not cleaning though). Anytime I get the chance to hole myself up in the kitchen up to my elbows in something yummy, I'm a happy girl.

In honor of National Pork Month (remember that sale at Cosco?), I'm sharing one of my favorite pork recipes (one that will be on the table this year at Thanksgiving).

This recipe is one I've cooked many times before (I actually got it from Allrecipe's website): Caramel Apple Pork Chops.

And yes, they taste as yummy as they sound!

Okay, the ingredients are the following:

4 (3/4") thick pork chops
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tart apples - peeled and sliced

What you do once you've assembled all of your ingredients, is preheat your oven to 175 degrees. Put a baking dish (about medium sized) in the oven to warm up. Heat up a large skillet (I use a cast iron one) over medium-high heat. Brush oil on the pork chops and put in the hot skillet. Cook them on both sides for about 7-8 minutes then put them in the warm dish in the oven.

In a bowl, mix up the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Put butter in the skillet and add the mixture and the sliced apples. Cover the skillet and cook the apples until they are tender. Add the apples on top of the pork chops in the oven. Stir the remaining sauce until it thickens and then cover the pork chops with the sauce.

I serve this dish with a sweet potato and some sautéed green beans (and don't forget the rolls!) Or if you want to lighten it up, add in a spring salad with a light dressing and wah-la!

Make sure you check out Costco's Pork Sale this month and come up with your own mouth-watering meals.

Also, enter to win $50 Costco Cash on this post.


FTC: I am working with the Motherhood and am receiving compensation for this post. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mmmmm, Pork... National Pork Month!

Cooking dinner every day falls upon my shoulders. Sometimes this is a laborious task and I loathe it, but I still plow through it because my family needs to eat (and heck, so do I!). I also like to switch up  my meals so my family isn't eating the same thing every week.

October is National Pork Month (did you know that?) and to celebrate, Costco is having a PORK SALE! 

Here are the official deets on the Costco sale: 

"To celebrate October as National Pork Month, Costco is offering discounts on top pork cuts from chops and roasts to pork tenderloin and boneless loins. Costco members can take advantage of weekly savings ranging from $2.00-$2.50.

Between October 15 and October 21, Tenderloin is $2.50 off. Juicy and delicious, the tenderloin is your holiday entertaining hero. With its versatility and quick cook time, the tenderloin is among the most flavorful, guilt-free party food: ounce for ounce, it is as lean as a boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Pork Makes the Party: 
Pork’s versatility and its ability to pair perfectly with a variety of foods and flavors makes it perfect for bringing people together this holiday season.  This holiday season celebrate pork as the catalyst that “makes” any party – join in!

Temperature News: The USDA reduced the temperature guideline for pork loins, chops and roasts from 160 to 145 degrees F, with a three minute rest. This will yield a juicy, flavorful product that may be pinker in color than most home cooks are used to. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees. "
Check out this great video with a yummy recipe to help switch things up in your kitchen. 

Mmmmm, right?

To help Costco and the National Pork Board want to help you get in the swing of things and switch it up in your kitchen. To do this, I'm giving away $50 in Costco Cash.

All you need to do to enter is tell me your favorite pork recipe. 

Easy, huh?

I am participating in a campaign for the Motherhood and was compensated for this post. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sea World Handles Food Allergies.

Sea World is doing their part for the environment and its customers in its parks. Check out the latest press release regarding their food and gearing towards those with food allergies. 

Straight from the press release: 

"Vacationers with Food Allergies Now Have New and Personalized Dining Options at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place Parks
Orlando, Fla. (October 10, 2012) - As many as 15 million Americans suffer from a food allergy. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has introduced this fall a new line of allergy-friendly dining initiatives for guests at its 10 parks including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place. These initiatives range from personalized service to new menu options.
“We serve millions of guests each year and are committed to provide each a great experience. For families with allergen concerns, we understand how challenging it can be to safely dine out, especially while on vacation,” said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Our new initiatives ‘serve up’ a family experience that everyone can enjoy.”
The company partnered with the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN™) to educate and train more than 6,000 culinary employees to assist guests with allergen needs. With more than 22,000 members worldwide, FAAN is a trusted source of information, programs, and resources related to food allergy and anaphylaxis.
The new initiatives include:
  • Increased personal attention to ensure the safety of each meal. Park restaurant managers and supervisors will work one-on-one with guests and oversee the preparation of each allergen-friendly meal from start to finish. “Chef Cards,” filled out in advance by guests to outline the foods to avoid, are handed to a chef before the preparation of the meal.
  • All park restaurants are equipped and trained to take care of guests with allergen needs.
  • More menu options, ranging from gluten-free pizza to an allergen-friendly Shamu-shaped chocolate bar, enhance the experience for dining guests. For those on the go, the parks also provide prepackaged snacks such as cookies from companies that specialize in allergen-friendly foods including Divvies and Gluten Free to Go.
  • To help guests plan, detailed information on allergen-friendly services and helpful safety tips can be found online at each park’s web site. Guests can also download the Chef Cards and fill it out prior to their visit. At the parks, in-park educational handouts are available.
“We commend SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment for implementing a comprehensive food allergy training program, which we were pleased to help carry out,” said John Lehr, FAAN’s Chief Executive Officer. “Families often exhaustively research vacation options that will keep their loved ones with food allergies safe. SeaWorld has taken extra steps to educate its employees about the risks that families managing food allergies face on a daily basis.”
For more information on the parks’ allergen-free efforts visit www.seaworld.comwww.buschgardens.com and www.sesameplace.com. For additional resources about food allergies from FAAN, visitwww.foodallergy.org."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Oral Care Challenge

I'm going to be straight up with you here for a moment... I only brush my teeth once a day.

Egh, that sounds so nasty to admit.

But hey, honesty is the best policy, right?

And kids follow your examples as parents so you know what that means... Yup, my kids only brush their teeth once a day (sometimes more, b/c like most parents I yell at my kids to brush their teeth twice a day but I don't do it myself).

So when the Motherhood asked if I wanted to be a part of the Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Oral Care Challenge I jumped at it.

I'm in a spot where I'm desperate not to pass on my bad habits to my children and this was the perfect opportunity for a kick in the ass.

So what is the Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Oral Care Challenge, you ask?

It's actually really simple. My plan is for the next month to tackle this bad habit of ours (mainly mine... bad Mama, I know) and encourage my children to stay on the right dental track and keep our mouths healthy.

I was able to participate in a great Live Chat from the people with Listerine and Reach and learned great facts about dental hygiene.

Did you know:

" 44 percent of American kids will suffer from pediatric dental disease before they reach kindergarten
Of the 4 million kids born each year, more than half will have cavities by the time they reach 2nd grade 
·         43% of Americans lack dental insurance
     16 million kids suffer from untreated dental disease"

      Egh, these numbers kill me! I am vowing to change up my family's bad habits! I am!!
      Keep an eye out on my Facebook page for updates, my tweets on Twitter (with the hashtag #SweetSmart and here on my blog as well. 

     I am participating in the Listerine Sweet Smart Challenge as part of the Motherhood. All opinions in my post are 100% my own.