Friday, December 27, 2013

The impressive "One Ocean Resort" on Atlantic Beach, Fla

Last month, I had a chance to take an overnight business trip to the Jacksonville area.  The client suggested I stay at the Ocean One Resort outside of Jacksonville.  I could tell you amazing things, but truly, my pictures say enough!...

The hotel is beautiful, the service is excellent, and the hotel is ON the beach.  What more could a girl ask for!? 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

An Open Letter to Barnes & Noble Customer Service

Dear B+N Customer Service,

Last week I ordered a Nook for my daughter. This is her "big gift" from Santa as she is only 8 years old.  My mom ordered a second Nook for my son, who is 6 years old.  We were proud to get them at great prices on Thanksgiving Day.  I was anticipating the joy in their faces on Christmas morning!!

Sadly, when one arrived yesterday, and the second today, both Barnes and Noble packages had "Nook HD" stamped on the sides of the boxes.  (Epic fail!)  My kids saw the boxes at the door. 

They immediately were shouting, "We are getting Nooks for Christmas!".  I am heartbroken that I won't be able to see my kids faces on Christmas morning opening gifts from Santa. 

To cover up your packaging, and the secret of Santa, my hubby and I will now have to give the Nooks to the kids from us---and go find new "Santa gifts" for Christmas morning.

Knowing its Christmas, I wish you would consider using plain brown boxes.

A Discouraged, Saddened Mother of Two

Update from B+N: 

There response to me via chat stated, "Please be advised that you may suppress the prices and tags od your order during check out."  They said if I would have "checked" this option, my package would have arrived in an unmarked box.   So, did you my readers know of this option??

Saturday, November 16, 2013

We got to see Disney's FROZEN movie today!!

Disney's new movie FROZEN comes out on Thanksgiving Day, but we were invited to a "sneak peek" viewing today!  Simply put, it's a great movie!

Seeing the previews (mostly featuring the snowman Olaf), I was wondering if the movie would be silly with no real story line.  To be totally honest, I wasn't as excited about this movie as I have been about other Disney movies in the past. 

Boy, was I wrong!!  The story is about two sisters, one with magical ice powers. (There are some great one liners... and a comical song by Olaf ... but overall the movie is not a comical -- it's adventurous!)

Frozen is filled with excitement, included amazing music, and the 3-D animation is beautiful!!

Also, unlike most Disney movies (somewhat predictable) this one had a twist hubby nor I saw coming.  (I'll expand on this in a couple of weeks; don't want to spoil it for those who have not seen it yet!)

As a reminder, this movie is PG. There are a couple of scenes (such as a wolf chase) that may scare smaller kids. My 6-year old son and 8-year old daughter did fine, but use your judgment before bringing a 3 or 4 year old!

One last note, the preshow "short" is truly amazing!!!  The best 3-D I have EVER experienced!!  And my son couldn't stop laughing!!  (Hint: Classic Mickey Mouse)!

To sum it up, Frozen is a must see!

Monday, November 04, 2013

What’s red and green -- and lit all over?

What’s red and green and lit all over? 

Mood-Factory’s red Mood Passion and green Mood Renewal Mood-lites! 

An ideal stocking stuffer, Mood-Factory’s Passion™ and Renewal Mood-lites create a festive mood this holiday season.   

Not only are they "super cool" according to my two kids, but I think they are super festive. (I put the red one in my son's bedroom, and the green one on the front porch!)  But most importantly, mood lights are based on the sense of sight, and how colors affect how we feel!

The price is right!  So do yourself a favor, and add some color to your life!

Other uplifting hues you might want in the Mood-lites line include: Happiness (yellow); Energy (Orange); Serenity (Light Blue); Sassy (Pink); Creativity (Purple) and Tranquility (Deep Blue).   You can check out all the various colors online and see how the lights can improve your mood, by visiting the company's web site at:

Available from $2.98 to $6.99 at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores nationwide. And let me add, a percentage of the price goes to the nonprofit International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred). 


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

New haircut, Kelly Ripa Inspired

It's been MONTHS since I got a haircut, but I was ready to go short for the Fall.
Here are two BEFORE shots:

Kelly Ripa's new 'do inspired me to go to a short bob:
AFTER pictures:

Monday, September 02, 2013

My current Halloween Mantel

I have decorated my fireplace mantel the same way for the past six years.  I had a general Fall decor mantel with pumpkins and leaves that stayed up for weeks.  This year I wanted something new!

First, I wanted two separate Halloween and Thanksgiving mantels (instead of the above mentioned one general Autumn  mantel.). Second, I wanted to incorporate LSU football so knew I had to throw in some purple!  Third, I wanted it kid-friendly and cute (not formal or stuffy).  And, last, I didn't want to spend a lot of money (so I hit Old Time Pottery).  

So, what do you think!?

Tips for Visiting Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World

I have had season passes to Walt Disney World for many, many years.  I have friends ask me for tips and hints all the time, so today I am going to share with you some of my ideas!


On Saturday (yes, over the long-holiday weekend!) we spent 14 STRAIGHT hours at the Magic Kingdom.  The great news is that we never waited over 10-minutes for a ride!!  I want to share some of my best suggestions so you can also have a great time in the theme park. 

(Please note, since the fast-pass program is changing this month with the introduction of the new Magic Bands I won't even discuss the fast-pass option at this time!)

1. Two MUST-HAVE apps before you visit Disney.  First, I love an app called "Undercover Tourist" which gives the "crowd forecast" on when to visit the parks.  It will give you a green light, yellow light, or red light based on anticipated attendance.  USE THIS when selecting your day!  Plan your trip around the forecast!!!Second, the official Disney app is called "Mobile Magic".  You will want this once in the park so you can have the latest information on the wait times at the attractions.

2. Get there early.  Plan for traffic and other last minute hiccups.  Also remember, it takes time to get to the front of the theme park.  You must take the monorail (or boat) over to the park from the parking lot, so plan an additional 30-minutes!!  Sometimes the monorail line is long, and I have even seen the monorail closed in the past.  Make time for these possible problems!

3.  Check out the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, 15-minutes to park opening.  It's a cute little welcome show, lasting only 10-minutes, and it will get you in the Disney spirit!

4.  When the park opens, get to the rides!!!  Do not stop at City Hall, do not stop for pictures in front of the castle, and do not stop for a stroller.  You can do this later!  If you have younger kids, you want to head to Fantasyland.  Hit Peter Pan first, Winnie the Pooh second, and then Little Mermaid.  These rides have the longest wait times later in the day so get to them FIRST.  (This past weekend, we hit FOUR RIDES in one hour with NO WAIT!!)  If you have older kids, you probably want to hit Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Just make sure you hit your favorite rides first!

5.  Have a late-breakfast.  About an hour after opening, the park is getting many more guests.  This is when I like to have breakfast, around 10:00 or 10:15 am. (Either Crystal Palace or in Cinderella's Castle--remember to make ADVANCE reservations).  You will be able to sit in the AC, relax for an hour, and take pictures with characters.  I consider this meal an early-lunch!!  (Many of the restaurants, even quick service, get pretty busy from 11am to 2pm--but you won't have to stop to eat during this time since you had a nice big breakfast!!)

6.  While someone in your party is waiting to pay the bill for breakfast, send another person back to the front of the park, if you need a stroller or need to visit City Hall (Guest Relations). Meet back up in front of the castle if you want a group picture. 

7.  Back to the rides!! Hit your second-tier rides after breakfast. We all have our favorites, so you can decide on your own which rides you like!

8.  If you need a rest, hit the 3pm paradeSend one person in your party to hold your seats on the curb about an hour before (say 2pm) while the rest of your group continues to visit the attractions!  Have everyone meet back up minutes before the start of the parade!  (I will be honest, this parade is short and not my favorite.  Feel free to skip it, if you have other things to do! But if you have never seen it, and want to try it, make sure you sit in the shade!!)  I also suggest you catch the BEGINNING of the parade in Frontierland -- whereas most people try to watch it from Main Street.)   Also, I try to remember to pack a beach towel when I visit the theme parks.  Not only does it help to dry off the kids who get wet in Casey Jr. splash area, but it also helps to lay on the curb to "hold your spot" for the parade!  And let me also mention the concrete gets HOT so the towel is great to sit on!

9.  Now it's time for an early dinner.  Again, beat the crowds, by eating at 4pm (after the parade)!  There are many dining choices for dinner, including quick-service and sit-down service.  This is the hottest time of the day so sit for an hour in the AC, and rest your feet!!  While wrapping up dinner, map out the rest of your evening.  What rides are left on your list?

10.  Go for indoor attractions/rides around 5pm!  Not only is this the HOTTEST part of the day, but it's  also the time of day when rains hit Central Florida.  I suggest you hit INDOOR attractions at this time. I suggest Philharmagic, Hall of Presidents, Monsters Comedy Floor, and Stitch! 

11.  Line up early for the Night-time Festivities!  When the sun goes down, things light up (literally!) at Magic Kingdom.  It's time for the Main Street Electrical parade, the laser-light show on the castle and the fireworks.  I strongly recommend someone from your party start looking for seats about 75 to 90- minutes prior to the Electrical parade.  (Remember that towel I mentioned earlier?  Use it again now!)  I suggest you watch near the front of castle or on main street. (This past weekend, we made the mistake of watching the parade in Liberty Square.  As we tried to move up to the front of the park to see fireworks, it was impossible to go anywhere--big traffic jam!!)

12.  Leave DURING fireworks, not when they are over...OR be prepared to sit still for a bit and let the crowd leave!  It is a mad dash for the monorail, boats, and resort buses after the firework show.  I suggest you start walking out WHILE the show is still in progress.  (And instead of walking on the street to exit. walk through the shops along Main Street which are connected on the right, from Hall of Champions to the Empirium.) But if your family REALLY wants to see the entire show, bring your patience!!!  Or if your children still have a little energy, you may try for another ride or two while everyone exits the park. 

13.  Do not run from one side of the park to another during the day.  We have gone with friends in the past to Magic Kingdom, who run from one side of the park to another to hit shorter "wait times".  This is a huge waste of energy.  Conserve your energy.  Stay within an area, and visit that "world" at one time.

14.  Bring a few snacks and drinks of your own.  I always bring a back pack with a couple of water bottles (maybe freeze in advance if you want them cold!), a few snacks (crackers, pretzels, etc), sunscreen, a towel (mentioned above), extra batteries for my camera, etc.  It helps save a few dollars, but if money is not an issue, Disney offers great snacks!

15.  Disney has great Wi-Fi coverage, but still put your phone in airplane mode when not needed. Save your battery!  If you are constantly "checking in" and uploading pictures, your phone's battery will drain fast!  You may need your phone at some point if you get separated from your group!


Well, there you have it!  I hope my tips help some of you have a MAGICAL day at Magic Kingdom!  I'd love to hear if you have any tips of your own!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

"Fall" is up at Disney World's Magic Kingdom

Yesterday, we went to Magic Kingdom for the day and I was so excited that all the Fall and Halloween Decorations were up!  This is my favorite time to visit Magic Kingdom!  I took many pictures to share with you all...Enjoy!

Window displays:

Halloween items for sale:

Antenna toppers:

Mickey and Minnie plush dolls:

Candy apples, yummy:

Countdown to Halloween Home Decoration:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another KidzBop hit in my House!

For weeks, my kiddos have been asking for the new KidzBop 24 CD.  It arrived and the mail yesterday, and OH BOY, were they excited!!  We listened to it for three straight hours.  Yes, over and over and over.  But you know what, I didn't mind!  With hits like "Come and Get It" and "22", I was dancing around with them!! 

We've all heard of know "today's biggest hits sung by kids for kids".  Kids LOVE IT...and as a parent, I can relax  as I know the music is safe!  (My son learned a "bad word" two years ago while listening to my friend's iPad and from then on I have been extra careful about the music they listen to!)

My kids also love to visit the web site too!  My son loves Eva and thinks she's the best!  My kids want to be KidzBop Superstars one day...

Oh and that reminds me...don't forget to have your kid join the Kidz Star USA Talent Search 2013, which ends this week!

This is our eighth KidzBop CD, and again, it's a hit in our home.  You can grab your own copy today at discount stores, through the KidzBop web site or iTunes!  Let me know what you think!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

College GameDay - How to dress in Team Colors!

My new issue of Southern Living came and I was so excited to see these new striped ballet flats.
Tons of great colors for your favorite team!
They even sell matching shoe clips with team logos:
Image 1
 Another great online shop, Hazel & Olive, offers Game day wear.  They have a variety of dresses, shirts and jewelry in popular team colors.
L. Mae Boutique offers dresses as well.  You can get a solid colored dress and then add a colored game day sash in team colors!  (here's an orange dress for Gator fans!)
GLAM Dress
They also offer pretty tear bib necklaces such as this one:
Need a new handbag in your team's colors?  Try Grateful Bags!
And Totally Collegiate has great bags, totes, cell phone covers and more!
Loudmouth is my new favorite!
Loudmouth offers great college team shorts for men...
And skirts for women:
And we can't forget Thomas Dean's apparel for the men in our lives. 
I love their vest and gingham shirts:
Do you have any favorite College game day outfits to share?  Tell me!