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Share your Universal Studios Orlando Tips!

18 Apr

You guys, I am totally counting down the days until our next vacation, which is coming up in May. Travis and I went to Universal Studios Orlando back in 2010, but this time will be even more awesome…

This time we are bringing our own 5 year old ‘thing 1’ with us, Jack! Also, when we last visited there was only one side to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and now there is EVEN MORE to see! So much excitement! So many exclamation points!

We’ve been preparing Jack by watching Harry Potter movies, in addition to familiarizing him with other characters that he will see at the parks. We can’t wait to see Spiderman, the Hulk, the Minions, Transformers, Curious George, Shrek and more. We already know that Jack is a rollercoaster fiend, just like his momma, so really it is up to Travis to be able to keep up with us!

We are staying right on property at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, so we will be able to walk over to the parks each day and we also got those ‘Universal Express’ unlimited ride passes so we can skip waiting in lines.

So, here’s where I’d love your help! Is there anything you think we absolutely shouldn’t miss? Do you have a restaurant or snack recommendation that we should be sure to add to our list? Anything you think we should know? Feel free to fill up my comments section with your tips!

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Our B&B Weekend in Northern Virginia

15 Dec

Each year, my parents give us the most wonderful gift. They watch Jack and Ollie while Travis and I go out of town for a weekend to ourselves. It’s pretty awesome and I look forward to it all year long. In the past, we have stayed at B&B’s in Baltimore, but this time we decided to mix it up and take a little trip to Northern Virginia.

You may wonder why we chose Northern Virginia. Basically there are a bazillion wineries to try out and it’s only about an hour and a half from our house. We stayed at the Airwell Bed & Breakfast in Purcellville, VA and we absolutely loved it. The Ashby Suite in the main house was basically like my dream retreat. It was so inviting and comfortable that I totally want to recreate the exact room and bathroom in our house.

On Saturday, we drove to Virginia, checked into the Airwell B&B and then took a 20 minute drive to a local cidery called Mt. Defiance. Yeah, that’s right… a CIDERY! I love hard cider, so when I found out that cidery’s were a thing I totally added them to our list o’ fun.

Unfortunately, we were not a fan of Mt. Defiance at all, so after we tried their offerings (and discretely escaped to the bathroom to pour a couple out), we decided to check out the local Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. OH MY GOSH, all movie theaters should be like this one! You get an actual menu so that you can order food before or during the movie. I got warm chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk, because I COULD and it was awesome. We saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them and absolutely loved it.

On Sunday, we enjoyed breakfast in our room at the B&B (SO GOOD) and packed our stuff back into our backpacks. Lisa and Todd, the Innkeepers, were so sweet to let us check out of the room late so that we could wait until another local cidery opened for the day.

We stopped by Wild Hare Cider’s taproom not long after they opened at noon and tasted all the ciders they had to offer. Unlike the other cidery, we really liked most of them! Travis chose his favorite and we bought a half-dozen bottles for Christmas gifts.

We didn’t really have anything else on the agenda and had such a great time at the movies, that we decided to grab lunch at Matchbox and then see another movie at the Alamo before we drove back home. This time, we saw Dr. Strange… which we also really enjoyed.

All in all, it was a super relaxing B&B weekend. Jack had a great time too with his Mimi and Dippy and already asked when we can leave again…

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Visiting Virginia: Luray Caverns & Dinosaur Land

28 Nov

A month or so ago Travis surprised me with a trip. Yeah, I know… mind blowing. I’m usually the planner in the family and the one time he DID plan a trip, it was an almost disaster due to the fact that he accidentally signed us up for a timeshare weekend. Oops.

Anyways, we didn’t really plan anything for our wedding anniversary this year since we went on a cruise earlier in the month, so Travis thought it would be fun for us to do a weekend in Virginia to enjoy some foliage and family time.

But, um… less dorky then that sounds.

Or maybe more dorky. This post is basically just an excuse for me to share ridiculous photos of us with dinosaurs. You’ve been warned.

We started the day with a trip down a portion of Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park and it was gorgeous. From there, we went to Luray Caverns. I can’t believe I’ve never been there before! The caverns were discovered in 1878 and are the largest series of caverns in the East. They were absolutely amazing and I totally could not stop taking pictures.

I actually had a momentary freak-out when I thought of how far below the ground we were and that I could be stuck in a cave forever. But, I was able to put that out of my mind. Mostly.




After our visit to the caverns, we grabbed a bite for lunch and decided to make a slight detour to Dinosaur Land. Let me start by saying, it was totally ridiculous in a good way. Dinosaur Land is a roadside attraction that has been open for 50 years… and it certainly has seen better days. It was nice outside though, so we decided to walk around and take some silly pictures.


dinosaur-land-3I have no idea why King Kong is at Dinosaur Land…




I totally should have used this one for our family Christmas card…


This one is a really accurate and flattering profile pic for me too:


If you are in the area, it was a great little weekend trip!

If you saw Dinosaur Land on the side of the road, would you stop to take ridiculous pictures?

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30 Hours in New York City

14 Nov

A couple weeks ago I was sent on a quick trip to New York City for work. It was a super quick trip actually… just about 30 hours or so. However, in those 30 hours I walked 29,950 steps, shopped, ate, watched an Olympic ice skater perform, marched in the NYC Halloween parade, and also did those two work events that I was there for.

So, I figured I’d share a few of the highlights of my trip!

The best shopping
Obviously if I’m going to go to New York I’m going to run around a do a little shopping while I’m there! I actually did hit up a few thrift stores (which was a total bust), but the real gem was the Winter Village at Bryant Park. My hotel was only a couple blocks away, so I truly stumbled upon the Winter Village having NO idea what was going on. Basically it’s like Etsy exploded all over Bryant Park! The Winter Village Shops opened on October 29th and are there until January 2nd. You can check the hours here if you are planning to visit.

I LOVED the shops. Oh my gosh, I spent so much time just wandering from one shop to the next and fondling everything. I ended up buying three things at the shops, but I could have totally bought something for every single person on my holiday list.

I ended up getting a comfy t-shirt from the Strand Book store (it’s New York’s largest family-owned independent bookstore with EIGHTEEN miles of books), a super soft poncho/shawl thingie that I will be showing you later this week, and this handmade necklace from Friction Jewelry:


The charms are a real leaf and baby pine cone dipped in copper and 24k gold. The lacy oak symbolizes strength and the pine cone is for optimism. Friction Jewelry has an online shop with their handmade jewelry and even a whole page of leaf necklaces that you can choose from. Find them here: Friction Jewelry.

The best thing I ate
Not only were the shops at the Winter Village pretty amazing, but there were a bunch of food stands too! Since it was so near my hotel, I pretty much stopped by any time I needed a meal or a snack since there were so many fun options. Out of everything I ate, this was my absolute favorite:


TopArepa offers traditional Arepa, which is a staple food in South America. I had the Artichoke, Parmagian and Garlic on a sweet corn patty, which was sliced in half with melted mozzarella cheese inside. It was SO GOOD that I am considering taking another trip to NYC by the end of the year to get another one! You can find their website here: TopArepa.

The most unexpected but expected moment
Did I mention that I ended up being in New York for Halloween? Yup, I arrived Monday morning and departed on Tuesday, which meant I was in the city for the Village Halloween Parade. My co-worker, Edward, and I joked about jumping into the parade… but I knew that it would probably happen. I mean, why not? We ended up getting down to the parade area pretty late in the evening, but after some running/dodging/and general finagling found ourselves marching along in the parade.



All it all, it was a super fun and productive 30 hours! If you get the chance to get to NYC to experience the Bryant Park Winter Village, I totally recommend it. Just make sure you are prepared to buy everything!

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