Mar 26, 2015

Fresh & Natural Make-up Looks for Moms from Susan Posnick Cosmetics

Spring is here and this is the time when I treat myself to a couple new items for my make-up bag. I am a minimalist for the most part when it comes to daytime make-up. I don’t believe in looking too “made up” unless I’m stepping out for the evening or going somewhere others will see me. Susan Posnick cosmetics seem to really fit the look I am aiming for; clean and polished. I have been using the Colorflo mineral foundation and blush, as well as the ColorCoated mascara and ColorEssentials Lipstick. I am currently into nude lip color and Susan Posnick’s ColorEssential Lipstick in Dubai (SRP $21) has become my go-to favorite. I wear it over my lip balm and find that it never dries my lips out the way some other premium brands can. It has a light sheen with a creamy finish.

The ColorCoated mascara (SRP $24) gives my eyelashes enough fullness for a brighter bolder look, while keeping them looking natural and soft. This is very important to me since I don’t care for that false lashes look in the daytime hours when I’m in Mom-mode.  I love how easy it is to remove at night and leaves little to no residue behind. I have not experienced any flaking, so this product would be great for contact lens wearers.

You can order Susan Posnick Cosmetics online and be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates.

I received product samples for review purposes. All opinions are my own as always.

Marco’s Grilled Chicken Florentine Pizza is back for a limited time!

A couple nights ago, I walked into my local Marco’s Pizza to pick up my order I placed by phone. To my surprise upon opening the door to the store, about 5 people back in the kitchen greeted me at the same time saying, “Welcome to Marco’s Pizza!” They all seemed like they were having a great time baking up those delicious pizzas. I ordered the Grilled Chicken Florentine pizza that is currently back at Marco’s until 6/21/15 at participating stores. If you haven’t tried this pizza yet, you better hurry! I tried it last year for the first time and fell in love. We’re talking grilled chicken, Parmesan garlic sauce, fresh spinach, fresh red onion, fresh Roma tomato slices and their perfect blend of cheeses including my favorite, Feta on top of the most crisp, light and airy crust. Truly, pizza perfection! We just love authentic Italian pizza.

The flavors all go together so well and my whole family can’t get enough of it. This will be our Friday night take-out until they stop offering it. That makes me wonder why they would only offer something so delicious for a limited time. I would LOVE to see it available as an everyday menu item (hint, hint Marco’s!) If you order online, you can view all of the specials they have. I believe most stores offer delivery within a certain area. We are lucky to have two nearby locations so it is never a problem to go pick it up. Give the Marco’s Grilled Chicken Florentine pizza a try and let me know what you think!

Find Marco's Pizza on the web, Facebook and Twitter.

I received a complimentary pizza voucher to try the Grilled Chicken Florentine Pizza in exchange for spreading the word about Marco’s limited-time offer. All opinions are deliciously my own as always. 

Mar 25, 2015

Our visit to The Prince Resort at The Cherry Grove Pier (Review) #MyrtleBeach

This past weekend our family took a trip to Myrtle Beach to celebrate William's 7th birthday. We chose the Prince Resort at The Cherry Grove Pier because William loves that location. He enjoys fishing with his dad, so the Prince was the best choice for his birthday celebration. This was actually our second time staying there, so we had a good understanding of what we needed and how to make our check-in process smoother. The Prince Resort is actually made up of two separate towers; Tower 1- oceanfront and Tower 2- ocean view. We love staying directly on the beach with a full oceanfront view so we stayed in Tower 1. When you get to the actual property, they have temporary guest parking for checking in/out as well as getting your luggage loaded up to take to your suite. All parking is across the street in Tower 2. It's no big deal at all to take the few steps back across the street to have access to Tower 1, the beach, restaurants and the pier.
Checking in was a breeze, just be sure to have the credit or debit card you used to book your suite with as well as your license plate number for the parking pass. It was nice to receive a courtesy call from the front desk to ensure that we had a pleasant check-in experience and to see if our accommodations were to our liking. Very professional!

We stayed in a 1,075 square foot 2 bedroom/2 bathroom oceanfront suite. It was very spacious and included one King bed, two extra long double beds, full kitchen and a Queen sleeper sofa in the living room.  Additional amenities included a private balcony, dishwasher, washer and dryer and three televisions. We loved the overall layout and it really felt like home. The one thing that really was the star of the show was that 6th floor view of the ocean and Cherry Grove Pier. It is incredible! It's so nice to be just steps away from that glorious ocean and sand.

Check out the photos below to get more information and my personal tips to make your stay even better.

The living and dining rooms are very comfy and have plenty of space for your family to eat, lounge or just take in the scenery. It's not unusual to see flocks of seagulls or pelicans a mere 15 feet away flying past your balcony. The couch has a pull-out bed and this was perfect for my little guy. He loves "camping" out in the family room.
The master bedroom was super nice. The bed was very comfy and the bathroom was huge! We love keeping the blinds open to be able to watch the waves crash ashore. The bathroom had a big tub and relaxing waterfall style shower head. They kept it fully stocked with towels and toiletries. Just remember that if you go in the warmer months, bring your beach towels. The second bedroom was very spacious for the girls to share and the bathroom was surprisingly huge!
The homemaking nerd in me loved the full kitchen and washer/dryer unit. I had all of the basic tools I would have in my own kitchen at my finger tips! I recommend packing up food and drinks especially if you have a big family. They provide coffee, but I prefer my brand I use regularly. I am one of those crazy moms who packs the things most people would never think of-- coffee creamer, sticks of butter, condiments, dish scrubbers, kitchen cleaning gloves and laundry pacs. I figured that if I bring everything I need, we won't have a reason to leave the property. It's great to be able to cook up a family style meal while overlooking the beach. 
The weather was in the mid 50's so it was too cold for us to get in the water or the pools. That was fine since the highlight of the trip for William was the pier. My husband rented a fishing pole and purchased bait. Although they did not catch a thing after fishing ALL day long, they were able to make fun father and son memories. They have already planned their return trip for when it warms up and they will bring their own fishing poles. It costs $2 per person to get a walking pass for the pier that is good for the entire day. That's a great deal! In the summer, we were able to see dolphins playing in the water as well as nurse sharks on the side of the pier where the fish cleaning station is set up. The kids love watching the sharks feed on the discarded fish parts left over from cleaning them. 
You can enjoy Oceanfront dining at 3500 Ocean Grill or the more relaxed Boardwalk Beach Cafe and Ice Cream Shoppes. We love ordering shareable menu items from the Boardwalk Beach Cafe to bring back to our suite to enjoy. While we wait for our food to be prepped and cooked, we enjoy a beer or cocktail at the bar. It's nice chatting with other guests to find out where they are visiting from and how they are enjoying Myrtle Beach. One thing that can't be beat in the state of South Carolina is that true Southern hospitality!

You can visit the Prince Resort website to see details of all of their accommodations and book your trip with a few simple keystrokes. You can even call to book a reservation. Their staff is always very courteous and happy to answer your questions. If your budget is tight, consider going in the off season when the rates are extremely reasonable and you don't have to stay the minimum of three days like you do in the summer months. It's really very nice and super relaxing. Also consider getting an ocean view suite. You will still have great ocean views and easy access to the beach, pier and restaurants. The last time we stayed at the Prince we were on the 19th floor in a 3 bedroom suite. I think I actually preferred the 2 bedroom and the lower level being on the 6th floor.

If you ever want to visit Myrtle Beach you should definitely give the Prince Resort a try. Be sure to check them out on the web, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for their emails so you can see what offers and promotions they are running. We loved our stay and look forward to going back at the end of the summer. This specific area of Myrtle Beach seems a lot less 'touristy' than some other parts we have visited. It's perfect for a romantic couples getaway or even for Mother's/Father's Day. What are you waiting for? Go run and book your Myrtle Beach getaway!

Disclosure: I was given a media discount rate in exchange for an honest review of the resort. All opinions are my own as always. 

Mar 23, 2015

Getting Teens To Talk About Their College Goals #CokeMiniMoments

The Coca-Cola Company provided promotional consideration for my participation in this program

Parenting is a tough job, we all know that. No two kids are the same and each one requires a different approach to really reach them. I have two older daughters and I think the years between 13 and 16 were the most challenging. My younger daughter, Briahnna is a high school senior and over the years, she has been a little harder to really talk to in general. She’s a high achieving IB student and is very involved in extracurricular activities, but when it comes to serious topics, she seems to want to hide inside her shell. My older daughter was the complete opposite and would want to talk about anything and everything. Over the last few years, I figured out that the drive to school and back home were great times to catch up and chat. We sometimes listen to the radio and do a little car dancing which ends up leaving us in tears from laughing so hard. This is usually a great ice breaker and gives us a few minutes to discuss school-related things. There has even been times when I bring her favorite snack or drink as an after school treat to help lighten the mood after a long day of classes.

Briahnna applied to four colleges and we had to stay on her about making sure she didn’t wait until the last minute. She’s the type of student that cranks out outstanding work although her work area is almost always a complete mess. Organized chaos seems to work for her. I have to come to the point that I really don’t waste my breath sweating the fact that she is messy. I more focus on working with her to make sure she is achieving and even exceeding her goals. I have recognized that she likes to have her personal space, but also respects my time when we need to be serious. Chatting in the car seems to take some of the pressure off of her instead of doing it in her messy room or with all of the rest of the family around. I am sure there are times that she wants me to shut up, but as an old family friend and mother figure told me many years ago, “Always talk to your children. Even when they act like they don’t want to hear it, talk to them anyway.” I have taken this advice to heart and you know what? It works!

Now that Briahnna has gotten accepted into her college of choice, she is in full scholarship application mode. Since our older daughter already has nearly two years of college under her belt, we use her experiences to help Brie have a better understanding of how it all works. Brie even mentioned the other day how one of her friends was trash talking a smaller dollar amount scholarship that she deemed a “waste of time”. Brie said she will keep on applying no matter how small the amount might be. She sees how much a little amount can really add up. I guess those little chats in the car are really working.

Do you need some help talking with your teens about their goals for college? Check out the Coca-Cola Pay it Forward Mini-Moments to get some great tips to help engage in positive conversation. You can download a PDF to your computer as a guide. This specific one,  Let's Talk:  Encouraging your teen to open up about their goals and how you can help achieve them is tailored to help open dialogue with your teen. They are very simple to follow and are a great resource.  While you are on the Pay It Forward site, be sure to take a moment to nominate your teen for an amazing opportunity to attend the Coca-Cola Pay it Forward Academy and also win a $5000 scholarship. You can see the complete contest rules here.

Now crack open a mini can of Coke and get the conversation started! #CokeMiniMoments

Mar 18, 2015

See what's cookin' at Great Wolf Lodge Concord #hosted

Recently, my family and I had the great pleasure of visiting Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte/Concord, NC. This was our second time visiting, and that was almost 3 years ago. Although the resort had the same overall feel from the first visit, we soon learned that so much had changed, for the better. We were greeted at the door by the friendliest gentleman who quickly offered to unpack our car and take our bags up to our suite once we got checked in. The front desk clerk was very polite and the check-in process was a breeze. It felt like we were the only guests in the entire place despite how busy it was.
We had a special delivery brought up to our suite; Great Wolf Lodge's homemade fudge. Oh. My. YUM! 

Look at the great books and collector cards gifted to my son. He loves reading about the Adventures of the Great Wolf Lodge mascots. 
We stayed in the Family Suite that sleeps up to 6. There was more than enough space for my family of 5 and the overall suite was huge. The room was immaculately clean and we had ample towels, toiletries and extra pillows and blankets available. The rooms are so quiet although there is almost always a group of kids or families walking up and down the hallways. You can take a nap and not hear a single noise. I don’t think I have ever stayed at a hotel like that before.

The main reason we went to GWL was because I was invited to tour the resort and sit in on a luncheon to learn all about the latest updates and even upgrades happening at that GWL location. Angie Brown, the General Manager, took us on a tour of the resort and showed us all of the amenities offered. They have everything from a spa, gym, arcade, mini bowling alley, dining places and of course, the water park. It was really neat to learn some of the behind-the-scenes details of how Great Wolf Lodge was established and how the resort is run in a nutshell. I wish I could have spent a few more hours hearing more, but we had to eventually end the tour to get to the luncheon.
This was the perfect sampling from the new Lodge Wood Fired Grill. Everything was delicious and full of flavor.
They had their Executive Chefs standing by in the business/conference center. I did not know that they even had a business area! It was very professionally set up with a very big dining table in the middle of the room. The table was set up beautifully for all of us. Chef Chris Hammond spoke to us about the latest developments in the Great Wolf kitchen and I think he surprised all of us. He gave us some background about himself and talked about when his wife was pregnant and they had their first child. He said she was constantly looking up information online and came across a blog that gave her so much information about food and what was best to feed her family. He said something that really stuck in my head; “It started with a blog”. Chef Hammond realized the power of social media and how he really needed to make some necessary changes with the food they serve their guests. They have completely revamped their menus to include many organic selections as well as foods with no GMO’s including their French fries. The amazing part is they don’t charge you more to give you much higher quality food that you can feel good feeding your family. They even spent 6 months researching all new ingredients to make the perfect pizza. I have to say that they last time I ate the pizza at GWL; we were completely turned off and actually threw most of it in the trash. It was that bad! Their all-new pizza is absolutely delicious. It is NY Style and they did not skimp on quality ingredients. Needless to say, none of it was left over and we know for a fact we will order from Hungry as a Wolf on our next visit. Chef Hammond informed us that if guests have any type of food allergies, they could make dishes to suit their dietary needs. All it takes is a request to speak with one of the chefs and they will make it happen. This is great news since so many people have sensitivity to gluten, nuts, dairy and many others foods. Speaking of nuts, they have made all of the food establishments at the resort nut-free. Of course you can’t stop guests from bringing foods into the resort containing nuts, but it’s so good to know for family’s that have nut allergies.
This was breakfast from the morning buffet at the Loose Moose Cottage. There was something for any taste or appetite. This was the BEST breakfast buffet I have ever had.

We visited newest restaurant at the resort called Lodge Wood Fired Grill. In a nutshell, it is family style fine dining. The menu offerings range from comfort foods like steaks and mac and cheese, to lobster and shrimp pasta or calamari with homemade dipping sauces as an appetizer. Choosing what to order was hard! We all ordered something different and shared everything. My hubby got the barbecue platter with all the fixin’s. It was fit for a King! The rest of us ordered the ahi tuna sandwich, chipotle chicken Panini, lobster and shrimp pasta and the little one got the mac & cheese with fries. We all shared the calamari appetizer and were blown away by how tender they were and how scrumptious the homemade dipping sauces were as well.
Oh boy, we had so much delicious food! 
We were served enormous portions and had to take half of it back to the room to heat up for a midnight snack. They have a full-service bar and instead of traditional full-size desserts, they offered mini desserts. These mini desserts come in what looks like a double shot glass and is just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. We all picked different varieties: salted caramel brownie, red velvet, cheesecake, strawberry shortcake and chocolate pudding. They were all amazing! The salted caramel brownie was my personal favorite.

I found out from Executive Chef Chris Hammond that they use all organic ketchup in their restaurant and also non-GMO potatoes for their fries that are cooked in organic oil. It really blows me away how large their French fry portions are. I don’t think I have ever dined anywhere that organic ketchup was all they had. This is truly a different Great Wolf Lodge than I remember 3 years ago. You can tell how much time and love goes into each dish.
Wiley the Wolf and friends were always photo-ready. They have so many fun activities for the little ones including a dance party and story time. 
Our family enjoyed most of the amenities the resort has to offer, especially the water park and arcade. The girls even went to the new “Howly Wood XD Theater”. They have some amazing ‘rides’ and games in 3-D. I don’t think I have to tell you how much fun the indoor water park is. It was 49 degrees outside and we enjoyed the 84 degrees inside as we splashed and slid down the fun slides. Like always, Great Wolf Lodge makes safety a number one priority for their guests and there was no shortage of life guards, life vests for kids and staff members available to help with any of your needs. If you have never been to Great Wolf Lodge before, you are missing out on an amazing family adventure. I think the grown-ups had more fun than the kids!
Be prepared to unleash your inner child on the super fun slides and attractions. 
A good tip is to go during the week for the best rates and fewer crowds. Amazingly with how crowded and busy the resort was when we went, there was minimal waiting and we still received the type of service like if we were the only family at the entire property. The staff is top notch and always there to help in any way or answer questions. Be sure to have the kids save up their allowance and birthday money because they will definitely want to check out the Northern Lights Arcade and partake in MagiQuest. They even have a new Great Wolf Kids Store where your child can create his/her own stuffed toy. Check out the Great Wolf Lodge website to book your trip. You can even browse dining options, menus and services offered to help plan better and budget for your visit.

A big thank you goes out to Great Wolf Lodge for hosting my family and taking good care of us. We can’t wait to book our next visit!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin