Sun & ICE!

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Last weekend, we went to Orlando for a little Christmas fun. We stayed at a fabulous hotel, the Hilton at Bonnet Creek, where it was warm enough to swim in their heated pool. The pool had a giant slide, a lazy river, and at night we watched the The Lion King while we swam!

The next day we went to Gaylord Palms to experience ICE! This year’s theme was Frosty the Snowman, and it was pure magic. We had layered on all of our winter gear, because they keep the convention hall at 9 degrees. There was a slide made from ice that was a great hit with Amelia, and at the end, a beautiful nativity scene. It was a perfect Christmas get away!

A Year of Disney

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We have just finished one whole year as Disney passholders, and boy, what a year it’s been! We started our passholder journey last September, and we have learned and experienced so much! Our annual passes will be expiring next week, so we spent this weekend trying to get in a few new experiences before we said goodbye to our annual passes.

Here are some of the highlights.

-Amelia was finally tall enough to ride Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom. It was a bit scary for me, but my brave girl had a blast!

-We finally got to see the Finding Nemo Musical at AK. This is not to be missed, it is so good.

-We went to a character lunch at The Tusker House in AK. The food was awesome, and the girls got to meet Daisy, Donald, Mickey & Goofy. The orzo pasta, and volcano chocolate cakes were especially yummy.

-The Magic Kingdom was decorated for fall, which is my favorite time at the parks.

-The evil stepmother from Cinderella and her wicked daughters rode the carousel with us today at MK. That was something I had never seen before.

-We were at MK right when they opened this morning and got to see the welcome show, complete with a few of my favorite old songs, and then the train rode in with several Disney characters on it.

-Amelia rode Splash Mountain for the first time at MK. She is already talking about doing it again sometime soon.

-I know there are a lot of people who are upset about the new presence of Starbucks inside the Disney parks, but I, for one was pleased to be able to get my iced vanilla latte this morning at the Main Street Bakery.

I will be back soon with some specific travel tips for the Disney Parks. In the last year we have made 9 separate overnight trips to the Disney Parks, visiting the parks nearly two dozen times, and enjoyed special events such as the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and Star Wars Weekend at Hollywood Studios. 

I loved every minute of it!

Backyard Tourists

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We are so very lucky to live on the west coast of Florida. One of my favorite things to do is to act like a tourist in my own town. This morning, we took the girls to John’s Pass in Madeira Beach. It’s a fun boardwalk on the intracoastal waterway with restaurants, kitschy shell shops, ice cream parlors, and charter boat rides to see the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. We had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and let the girls do a little shell shopping, they both chose starfish. It is officially hot here in the south, but the humidity is low, and that makes it more comfortable. 

I hope you all are enjoying the long weekend, and the unofficial start of summer!

Sandpearl Resort, A Love Letter

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I’ve just returned home from three days at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach. We take a beach staycation every year around this time to celebrate the warmer weather, and my birthday. Yesterday, I turned thirty-six. I have spent the last few days eating gelato, drinking Blue Hawaiians, dining on seafood, swimming in the warm Gulf of Mexico, and not having a care in the world.

I have been very fortunate to have traveled quite a bit in my life, and I can easily put the Sandpearl Resort at the top of my favorite hotels ever list. This resort just takes care of you, and no detail goes unnoticed. The hotel itself is beautifully appointed, with large hotel rooms, super comfortable beds, the deepest bathtubs I’ve ever seen in a hotel, an awesome zero entry pool, and wonderful restaurants. You receive complimentary champagne upon check in, and the girls received buckets and shovels for the beach. At sunset, the resort comes alive with music, a fire pit to sit around, and they ring a bell when the sun goes down, which was one of Amelia’s favorite things. The hotel staff is very helpful and friendly, and you receive turn down service at night, complete with chocolates and bottled water left by your bedside. The Sandpearl has set the tone for you to feel pampered and relaxed. I arrived at the resort wound tight, and left feeling like a wet noodle. I am very lucky to live just 10 minutes from Clearwater Beach, but I have never experienced it like this. We will definitely be back, and may stop in just for a meal, or drinks and a sunset viewing in the very near future.

I love you, Sandpearl Resort.

If you go: We had two meals at the resort. The first was breakfast at Caretta on the Gulf. We had the breakfast buffet, and it was spectacular. We requested a table outside, and it was the perfect way to start our day. The buffet price is $21 per adult, including your beverages, and children 9 and under are free. This meal was well worth the price. The second meal we had at our resort was at Tate Island Grill. We sat outside and enjoyed the view of the beach from our table. I had the pulled pork nachos, and they were yummy.

Next door to the hotel is Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill and the Palm Pavilion. Both restaurants are favorite spots for locals, and have amazing food. Buffalo shrimp & she crab soup are two of my favorite dishes at Frenchy’s.

Now, let’s talk gelato. I had the best homemade gelato of my life at Gelato Bello, which is also located next door to the resort. Try the pistachio, it is heavenly. In the same plaza as the gelato is a small restaurant called Clear Sky Beachside Cafe. This is a great casual spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

*This is not a paid post. The opinions are 100 percent mine.

Staycation

This weekend, we decided to vacation in our own back yard on beautiful Clearwater Beach. A new motel recently opened, and I was excited to stay there. The Frenchy’s Oasis Motel is a redo of an old motel that sits on the intercoastal side of Clearwater Beach. The owners have several popular seafood restaurants on the beach, so they already had a good reputation. They decorated the property with a retro vibe, and it was a great space and location for a weekend of fun in the sun. The first night just the mister and I stayed, and we met my sister and her husband for dinner and cocktails. Let me tell you, I recreated my own version of The Rum Diaries. Then the next morning my mom dropped off the kiddos for some pool swimming, shell shopping, ice cream licking, seafood eating, and wave surfing. It was a great way to enjoy our local beach, and kick off the holiday week. 

We will definitely do a trip to NYC with our kids when they get a little older. Traveling there with your family this summer? This book is half off right now over at Zulily.

We will definitely do a trip to NYC with our kids when they get a little older. Traveling there with your family this summer? This book is half off right now over at Zulily.

The Letters P, Q, R, S, T, & U

Well, I really dropped the ball on this weekly feature, and have fallen 6 weeks behind! 

Each week Amelia’s preschool class focuses on a new letter of the alphabet. I have decided to play along. Every week I will list some of my favorite things that start with the corresponding letter.

P is for …

Polka Dots

Q is for…

Queen

R is for…

Radiohead

S is for…

Skirts

T is for…

Travel

U is for…

Umbrella

Images one, two, three, four, five, six


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Little Passports, A Global Adventure
This is really cool. You sign your child up, and for a small monthly fee they will receive a personalized package from another country in the mail with a letter, souvenirs, activities, and more.
click pic for link

Little Passports, A Global Adventure

This is really cool. You sign your child up, and for a small monthly fee they will receive a personalized package from another country in the mail with a letter, souvenirs, activities, and more.

click pic for link