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Family Travel: Fun in Philadelphia… Legoland & The Franklin Institute

21 Aug

Sometimes it’s nice to get away… even if “away” is just a few hours from your own house. Jack has been begging to go back to Legoland again this year, so we decided that instead of just driving to Plymouth Meeting, PA and back in the same day, we’d spend a night in the Big City. The Big City is what Jack calls any city — Philly, Baltimore, NYC — they are all BIG to him.

This was actually our third year in a row of visiting the Legoland Discovery Center, but somehow, I’ve never blogged about it. If you have a kid obsessed with Legos, this place will blow their mind. There are a bunch of different Lego build and play zones, a full Lego recreation of Philadelphia landmarks and also a 4D cinema that shows Lego short films. Oh yeah, and the gift shop full of amazing Lego sets and a spot where you can build-your-own mini figures!

Here are some of our photos from the Legoland portion of our weekend:

When it came to choosing a hotel, I didn’t really care where we stayed as long as it was right in the middle of everything. We ended up at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown because they were priced pretty much the same as everyone else, but they had a Visit Philly Overnight hotel package that was PERFECT for us. The package included: free overnight parking, two tickets to the Franklin Institute Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibit, a $25 gift card to some nearby restaurants, and some other stuff.

Considering that no other hotels nearby included parking and it costs around $50 to park overnight AND the two Franklin Institute tickets totaled at $70… it was quite the deal.

Of course, if you do end up booking that package it pays to KNOW what you should receive because I had to remind them multiple times that we didn’t have to pay for our parking and that they owed us the packet of tickets. Just saying.

Anywho. We checked in, went to dinner, slept in the next morning and checked out at 11am. The room was fine – comfortable and clean. The hotel was perfectly located, with the Reading Terminal Market right next store and a Starbucks in the lobby. My only complaint was that we had super loud neighbors who yelled, hooted and hollered until about midnight. They drove me crazy, but Jack and Travis slept through the whole thing.

Since we had parking until 4pm, we loaded up our overnight stuff in backpacks – one for each of us – and hit the road for some exploring. We walked around the Reading Terminal Market for a bit and then took an Uber to the Franklin Institute. Since we got two tickets in our packet, we just needed to buy one additional child’s ticket for $31. The tickets gave us access to Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, as well as the rest of the science museum. The Marvel exhibit featured more than 300 artifacts, including comic books, costumes and props. I thought it was super cool, but Jack enjoyed the regular science center exhibits more.

We wandered through the exhibits for hours until my stomach started rumbling… then we hit up Urban Farmers Philadelphia for lunch. The food was delicious, but I was even more impressed with the décor. The place was absolutely gorgeous and I totally wanted to grab a book and snuggle into one of their corner booths for a few hours of uninterrupted reading!

Oh, one last photo of our weekend. There was a fun “I Love Philly” thing in Love Park where people were taking turns posing for photos. Well, when it was our turn this happened…

Yup. Exactly the photo I was hoping for!

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Subscription Box Review: Summer 2019 She Lives Aloha Box

22 Jul

As you all know, my husband and I had the most wonderful time on our Hawaiian vacation back in May. In fact, it took two whole blog posts to share all of our Hawaii fun and adventures (if you’d like to revisit them, click through for part one and part two).

We absolutely loved Kauai and we hope to return to the islands as soon as we can. So, imagine my joy when I found out that my friend Vanessa was launching a She Lives Aloha subscription box! She sent me over the inaugural box and asked for my honest feedback. In return, I asked for her permission to blog about it! I know many of you followed along with my Hawaii trip and shared your own tips and tricks from your visits (or wishes to visit soon!), so I thought you’d enjoy taking a look inside the very first She Lives Aloha box.  

What is She Lives Aloha?

The goal of She Lives Aloha is for you to feel like you are back in Hawaii without leaving home.

When you are part of the She Lives Aloha ohana, we are committed to helping you incorporate aloha for a minute or thirty into your daily life. You will take a moment to remember the sand beneath your toes, the sun melting your reality away, and just for a moment, you’ll breathe and remember that aloha feeling.

The Lives Aloha box is a curation of some of the best products found on the Hawaiian Islands. Each box contains five items that have been crafted with aloha. All items for the box are either made in Hawaii, designed in Hawaii, or crafted by someone who has lived in Hawaii. Additionally, each box will support a Hawaiian charitable organization with a donation. The inaugural Lives Aloha box is a limited run and will ship July 22, 2019. The special introductory price is $49.95 plus tax. Free shipping to anywhere in the United States.

Let’s take a look inside the Summer 2019 box:

Each box contains an insert that tells you a little about each of the surprises inside. You can learn even more about each maker by visiting the She Lives Aloha website.

I love that they included a personalized post card in the box!

Kauhane by Elias Maulili Kauhane Jr.

First up, a download of Kauhane by Elias Maulili Kauhane Jr. You can check out some sneak peaks of his music here. This album is a great way to relive the aloha of your Hawaiian vacation!

Big Island Delights Furikake Party Mix Delight (find it here)

I went to taste the party mix and I accidentally ate the whole bag. Oh my gosh, it was delicious! Luckily the She Lives Aloha team included the company’s information in the box and I can order a 14 oz jar whenever I want. That way I could share the yummies with Travis and Jack… or keep it in my special hiding spot and NOT share!

Ola Tropical Apothecary’s Passion Fruit Body Lotion (find it here)

Ola Tropical Apothecary is a family owned and operated Hawaiian brand. Robin and her husband Chris Rooke make every one of their products by hand. By supporting Ola, you support a number of small farmers and businesses and a company that is responsible, sustainable and transparent. The Ola Passion Fruit body lotion included in the box smells like the most delicious frozen drink you could hope for!

Island Woods Pineapple Bowl (find it here)

Island Woods is a Hawaii-based company located on the island of Oahu. Island Woods offers hand crafted Acacia wood products inspired by Hawaiian designs. Their products are food-safe and made to last. I love this pretty little pineapple bowl! It can be used for snacks, dip, or even non-food items such as paperclips or jewelry. The carving is exquisite and this will certainly be used in our home. Also, I love that if you look closely at the inside of the pineapple you can see a heart!

Aloha Keychain

This fun little aloha key chain was handcrafted by Lori Shen just for this limited edition She Lives Aloha box. Lori was born and raised on the island of Oahu. Once her little one was born, Lori started a business of her own: Letter On!, a design and lifestyle brand that’s all about living aloha. You can find her on etsy here. This key chain is the perfect reminder to Live Aloha every day.

Thank you to my friend Vanessa for sending me the Summer She Lives Aloha box. It was a wonderful way to re-live our beautiful Hawaiian vacation. If you’d like to order the inaugural box, you can find it here!

I agree with the ladies at She Lives Aloha… “Every day should be Aloha Friday.”

Disclaimer: I was provided the She Lives Aloha for free in exchange for my honest feedback. I was not required to blog about the box, but decided to share it with you all because I thought you would like to take a look!

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All About our Trip to Kauai, Part Two

13 Jun

In case you missed it, I shared Part One of our Kauai Adventures earlier this week. The post started getting so crazy long that I had to split it into two posts to keep from overwhelming you (… and me).

Here’s Part One: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Let’s pick up where we left off…


On Sunday it was another sunny and beautiful day so we decided to head East and North. We started out by following the signs to the Opaeka’a Falls. There was a nice little parking lot for us to stop in and we walked over to the viewing areas to catch sight of the falls.

It was so beautiful and quiet. We hopped back in the jeep to go find the Wailua Falls, which had a much busier lookout area. There were cars and jeeps packed on the small road that took you to overlook the falls and lots of people selling fruit and food. We ended up buying some white Sugarloaf pineapple, which was absolutely delicious. We also got a homemade mochi/rum/pineapple cake thing that a nice German lady was selling. What can I say, eating random road food is what you do in Kauai!

Here is our view of Wailua Falls:

After visiting the falls, we decided to keep going North to visit the little town of Hanalei. As soon as we got to the North side of the island it got humid and would rain on us every 45 minutes or so. We walked around the town a bit and then decided to work our way back towards Poipu. We ended up stopping to see the Kiluea Lighthouse.

We also got a delicious taco lunch from a random food truck. We ended the day with yet another visit to Puka Dog (what can I say, they are so good!) and topped ourselves off with a visit to Lepparts Ice Cream.


We had another lazy coffee and HGTV morning on Monday with another serving of Little Fish Coffee acai bowls for breakfast. From there we grabbed our beach chairs and set out for a beach we saw on the way to Spouting Horn. We did some beach sitting and snorkeling for a bit and just enjoyed the quiet. We grabbed lunch at Savage Shrimp and then showered and prepared for our evening adventure… a sunset cruise of the Napali coast!

We went through Holo Charters, which offered a sunset dinner cruise. We shared the catamaran with a couple dozen guests and enjoyed snacks on our way out from the island. There was a little rain and fog here and there, but mostly it was cool and calm.

The views were absolutely beautiful. There were cliffs and caves and waterfalls. There were even mountain goats climbing up on the sides of cliffs and pretty much defying gravity. At about the halfway point, the crew served us dinner – all the makings for some homemade tacos, with fresh pineapple on the side and cookies for dessert. There was an open bar too with local beers and Mai Tais. The return ride was breathtaking.

And then the sun went down:

We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful night!


On Tuesday we decided that we wanted to do a fancy dinner for our last night, which meant that we had to buy a nice shirt for Travis to wear. Everyone on the island sports Hawaiian shirts, so we decided to venture out to buy one for him. We stopped at the Hawaiian Trading post and they had some silly photo opportunities outside:

From there we visited Old Koloa Town and stopped by the Fish Market for an authentic and delicious poke bowl:

Travis and I are both fans of sushi, so the poke bowl was so delicious to us! From there we hit up a pie shop that we had driven past a few times and had some mini pies for dessert. THEN, we went rum tasting at the Kauai Rum Company.

To do a tasting in the Rum Company Tasting Room is free, you just have to be 21 years old or order. We tasted: Koloa Kauai Dark Rum, Koloa Kauai Gold Rum, Koloa Kauai Spice Rum, Koloa Kauai Coconut Rum, Koloa Kauai Coffee Rum, and Koloa Hawaiian Pineapple Passion Rum Cocktail Punch.

Travis has a stomach condition, so he can’t really drink hard alcohol (only beer and wine), so he would basically stick his tongue in the rum to try it and then I’d drink both our shots. We were being sneaky about it so that nobody got annoyed, but apparently the couple next to Travis was giving me the hairy eyeball for being a rum glutton. My favorites were the Coconut Rum and the Coffee Rum and Travis really liked the Pineapple Passion Rum Cocktail Punch.

After rum, we got yet another shave ice. This time it was a snow ice from Uncle’s Shave Ice. It was really cool how every single place we tried had a different take on the shave ice. I, of course, loved them all.

For our fancy anniversary dinner we went to Keoki’s Paradise (find it here) . We went online to reserve a table and put in the notes that we were celebrating our anniversary. They had a live band and the food was AMAZING. There was a poke appetizer, fish and scallops’ risotto for me, a double fish meal for Travis, and their famous Hula Pie for dessert. They surprised us with the hula pie for our anniversary and it was an amazing end to a delicious dinner.

Also, Travis looked awfully cute in his Hawaiian shirt.


After having a super relaxing and amazing week, I woke up on Wednesday feeling rather horrible. Something hit me stomach bug-ish, so we just spent the morning hanging around the condo, watching HGTV and drinking a ton of water. We packed up and drove to the airport to return our jeep and jump on the 1pm plane.

The first 5-hour plane ride was absolutely miserable for me. I felt a combo of nauseous and feverish, so I basically was just trying to keep myself together and not vomit. I had some ginger ale and basically dabbed my forehead with ice water for 5 hours.

We got off the plane in LA and had a 90-minute layover, so Travis had a terrible airport burger and I slowly drank a coke. We hopped on another 5-hour flight – this one a red eye – which would take us back to Maryland. I was feeling a little better by this point. I was still nauseous but the feverish feeling was gone.


In the middle of the night while everyone on the plane was trying to sleep.

A MAN VOMITED 4 times on the 5-hour flight.

He didn’t even bother to get up from his seat. He just got out his sick bag, loudly vomited and then went back to whatever else he was doing. So. Gross. Even if I had not been fighting back the pukeys for the last 10 hours, it would have made me ill listening to him. I can’t believe he didn’t take his dang butt to the bathroom to do it there. But instead just did it WHILE SITTING NEXT TO STRANGERS.


Thank god he was on the other side of the aisle from me. But, really. EW.

I am happy to say I was NOT sick on the plane coming home. We landed around 6 am Maryland time (that 6-hour time change really bit us on the return), scooped up Jack and Ollie from my parent’s house on our way by, dropped Jack at school and then went straight into our house and took a 5-hour nap.

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful trip. It was relaxing and exciting and fun and romantic. Basically everything I hoped it would be! The only thing we didn’t fit in was going to a luau, but considering that we did everything else – well, so much stuff it took up two blog posts – I feel like we really crushed the whole grown up vacation thing.

I think I covered everything, but I’m sure there are bits I forgot here in there. Do you have any questions about our Kauai adventures?

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All About our Trip to Kauai, Part One

11 Jun

Here’s your quick recap: Travis and I had wanted to go to Hawaii ever since our wedding and we finally booked it to celebrate our 10 (and a half) year wedding anniversary. It was also going to be our FIRST kid-free trip without Jack, who is 7 ½ years old. We decided to go to Kauai and booked a fantastic condo through HomeAway in the Poipu area of the island, which is on the South side.

Our plans were to be really lazy, eat delicious food, spend time on the beaches, and maybe go for a hike.

I shared a ton of photos on Instagram while we were gone, but now I finally have had the chance to sit down at my desk and write up a post. I took notes while we were there so that I could look back and remember what we did each day because it was such a whirlwind!

This post ended up being super long, so I broke it into two parts:

Part One: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday (you’re reading it!)

Part Two: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (find it here!)


We flew out from Maryland early in the morning and arrived in Kauai on Wednesday afternoon. The 6-hour time difference worked in our favor, so we kept with it by going to bed relatively early each night and also waking up pretty early in the morning. Once we landed, we went to pick up our rental car and we totally let the nice rental car lady talk us into upgrading to a jeep.

The top popped off the jeep and we were SO GLAD that we had it for the week to enjoy exploring in the beautiful weather. On our arrival day, we didn’t do too much. After settling in our condo, we went for a walk to Shipwreck Beach (less than 10 minutes from our condo).

After hanging out for a bit, we returned to the condo and went out to find a store to buy some groceries (mainly breakfast foods and coffee) and had our first Puka Dog.

Puka Dogs are pretty much one of my favorite things I ate all week and here is my perfected order: polish sausage with mild original sauce, coconut beach relish, and Auntie Lilikoi’s Hawaiian mustard. Absolute heaven!


This is where we started our morning routine of making a pot of Hawaiian coffee and sitting out on the lanai to enjoy a few cups each morning. When it got too hot, we’d move our coffee party into the living room and watch some HGTV. We both get sucked in and Fixer Upper is our absolute favorite!

On our first full day in Kauai, we did some exploring. We started by walking to Poipu Beach (less than 10 minutes from our condo in the opposite direction of Shipwreck Beach) and saw some sea turtles.

We walked back, took the top off the jeep and decided to drive West to explore. We went to Hanapepe and walked around that little town, tentatively walked across the swinging bridge, and enjoyed lunch at that location of Little Fish Coffee.

Then, we kept on driving until we ended up at the lookout for Waimea Canyon. It was absolutely beautiful!

Pictures truly don’t do it justice. We bought some fruit from a man at the top of the lookout and had a little picnic before driving back down to visit Kauai coffee.

We walked the self-guided coffee tour and then helped ourselves to lots and lots of coffee tasting samples. We ended up buying me a t-shirt (it says Sunshine & Coffee), a bag of ground coffee for us, and a bag of coffee beans to bring home to my coffee-loving brother. We hit up Puka dog for an afternoon snack and then had dinner at Brennekes, a nearby restaurant. They are known for their “World Famous Mai Tai’s”, so that’s what I got with my fish tacos.


After another lazy coffee and breakfast morning on the lanai, we made our way over to the East side of the island. A couple weeks ago I went ahead and booked a tubing trip through Kauai Backcountry Adventures. We got there a little early, so we walked to the corner to grab me my very first shave ice and got Travis a waffle hotdog.

The shave ice was so delicious! I got pineapple juice and coconut on the top and macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom. I’m still drooling over it, weeks later!

For the tubing adventure, we wore our swimsuits and I topped mine with a SPF 50 surf shirt. I really didn’t want to get burned on the 3-hour adventure! It worked out perfectly and even kept me a little warmer when we were going through the cooler dark caves.

I love this photo of Travis:

And you can basically hear me going “SQUEEE” in my photo from the cold water hitting me on the sudden drop:

We LOVED the tubing trip and we had so much fun. I highly suggest adding it to your Kauai itinerary if you go!

Once we got back to the condo and showered, we decided to head back to Hanapepe for their Friday Night Art Festival. All of the shops were open late with lots of food trucks and bands playing in the streets. We ended up eating a food truck smorgasbord of Chipwrecked Nachos, Malsadas, and more Shave Ice for dinner.


We enjoyed the Little Fish Coffee shop so much in Hanapepe that we decided to visit the location closer to our condo for breakfast. It was absolutely delicious, but we learned after this second visit that it saves a ton of time to order online and just schedule for pick up. Then you can bypass the long line and go straight to grabbing and enjoying your breakfast!

After we fueled up, we stopped by the Ke Kahua O Kaneioluma statues and then made our way to Spouting Horn.

From there we went to Warehouse 3540. OH MY GOSH, this place is a total treasure trove of amazing finds. There was handmade jewelry, vintage dresses, a used book shop, and more (check them out here). We spent so much time just oooohing and aaaaahing over everything. Then, we made our way outside to the Kauai Poke Co food truck to grab a Kalua Pig bowl, followed by some hand shaved ice at Fresh Shave.

Then we went thrifting! We stopped by a nearby Salvation Army store and I found the cutest Hawaiian shirt to take home to Jack, I also found a skirt for myself and Travis found two Playstation games.

We went back to the condo to laze around for a bit and then hit up Kalapacki Joe’s for happy hour/dinner before running outside to watch the sunset.

Okay, that’s the first half of our trip… so I’m going to cut it off here. I’ll come back on Thursday with Part Two, which includes a catamaran tour of the Na Pali coast, rum tasting at Koloa Rum Company, and a nasty man who kept vomiting on our flight home.

Let me know if you have any questions about our fun Kauai adventure so far!

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