A HUGE thank you to all who attended our March Girls Night Out event at Firefly Kitchen & Bar! It was lots of fun and our first time in Winter Park. It was great meeting so many that were joining us for the first time and also seeing those of you that travelled to attend out event! Also, a big thank you to the staff at Firefly Kitchen & Bar for being so accommodating both before the event and during! The food and drinks – especially those coconut mojitos were awesome! Lastly, a special thank you to those that brought donations to support our local charity for this event, The Mustard Seed of Central Florida. Alexi was there representing the Mustard Seed and was full of great information and a huge help with greeting our guests. If you are looking to learn more about The Mustard Seed, be sure to check out our blog post here.
Below you will find an index of the amazing businesses that helped make our March Girls Night Out event even more fun; including their information to connect. This is a great opportunity to connect with those vendors that you might have missed networking with at the event. I also encourage you all to like each other's pages to keep the love going; as we all grow together! Oh, and don't forget to keep them in mind for your future shopping and event needs.
Julliarte: Photography by Julia Heredia
Facebook: Julia Photography
Julia Heredia of Julliarte: Photography joined us at our March GNO as our amazing professional photographer! Julia has worked with past clients such as MTV and Fort Lauderdale Magazine. She has a wide range of photography skills and has experience photographing fashion, fine art, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, events, food, headshots, and portraits too! She is based in Miami, FL, affiliated in Boston, Atlanta, Central Florida, and New York. She’s available for assignments worldwide and fully insured. Contact her today to book your next photo session or to be your next event photographer!
Pruvit – Ruby McDonald
Facebook: Keto Pets & Parents
Ruby McDonald shared with us all that Pruvit Keto has to offer, including allowing us to sample their yummy keto drink. Through Pruvit, Ruby offers Pure Therapeutic Ketones - Ketosis in Less than 60 Minutes! Her products provide all-natural energy, fat loss, increased focus, and more! Ruby also shared with us photos of her own husband and dog’s amazing results – yes they have dog friendly items! To learn more about what Ruby and Pruvit have to offer, be sure to check out her Facebook page and website.
Chloe + Isabel – Christine Santos
Check out Christine’s website here!
Chloe & Isabel has been featured in many popular magazines with hair accessories designed by Jen Atkin, hairdresser to celebrities like Kardashians and Jennifer Lopez. One of their bracelets was even featured as one of Oprah's favorite things! Christine brought a large selection of her jewelry to our GNO and raffled off a beautiful ring from the new spring collection! Be sure to visit Christine’s website to see all that Chloe + Isabel has to offer J
Rodan + Fields – Concetta DeTolla and Stella Tessler
Connie and Stella are currently working on a website/page for you to visit.
Until then, please contact them directly via Facebook: Stella and Connie
Connie and Stella joined us at the GNO to share with us the amazing skincare products offered by R+F. These products were developed by the dermatologists, Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields. The regimens offered by R+F help you address your skin concerns and overcome environmental aggressors to achieve visible, life-changing results. To learn more about the products R+F offer, first visit their website www.rodanandfields.com, then reach out to Connie and Stella to see what promotions they are running and place your order with them directly for a more personal experience!
LisaODesigns – Lisa OCampo
Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/LisaODesigns
Facebook: Lisa O. Designs
Lisa runs the Etsy shop, LisaODesigns. Lisa currently makes personalized t-shirts, water bottles, tablecloths, and aisle runners for weddings. She plans to expand her offerings by making even more fun items like mommy + me t-shirts, siblings t-shirts, and women's t-shirts with quotes/sayings! At the GNO she was making custom items on the spot – including leggings! Be sure to visit Lisa’s Etsy shop and Facebook page to learn more about all the custom items she can make for you!
332 North Park Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
Cottonways is a boutique in Winter Park (with 4 other locations in Florida!) that offers 100% Cotton Gauze clothing that is comfortable, unique, sophisticated but fun, tasteful, colorful, and vibrant. Perfect to wear from resort to dinner, from lifestyle to cruise. The cotton gauze is also preshrunk, washer and dryer safe and no ironing is necessary. They also offer accessories such as jewelry, purses, and scarves. One of the pieces I loved the most was the item that looked like a comfortable beach dress but it actually had pants – you have to see it to believe it! Be sure to visit their shop soon for some great spring and summer attire!
Pure Romance – Betsy Sanchez
Pure Romance carries a sophisticated line of educational books, bath and body products, exciting relationship enhancement products, lingerie and so much more. The Pure Romance experience begins with sexy pampering, continues with exciting ways to reconnect and ends with sheer satisfaction. Shop with Betsy for the best in bath, body, and bedroom accessories to discover what a little Pure Romance can do for you. Betsy can also provide you with a fun girls-only shopping party at your home - if you met Betsy at our GNO, you know it will be full of fun and laughs!
SeneGence – Ina Sacks
Facebook: Ina’s Kiss Proof
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Ina was unable to make it to our March GNO; however, she always has a variety of inventory, including LipSense for you to purchase from her directly. LipSense is the super popular long-lasting (4-18 hours!) liquid lip color that is formulated to molecularly bond to your lips. LipSense is Waterproof, 💋Kiss-proof, 👶🏻Kid-proof, 🌿Vegan and🙈 Cruelty-free. It’s also the official lipstick of Broadway!
In addition to LipSense, SeneGence offers many other long-lasting products, such as eye shadow, foundation, blush, mascara, etc.! To see all that Ina and SeneGence have to offer, be sure to check out her website and Facebook page.
Elite Sign & Graphics in Winter Park, FL
Facebook: Elite Signs & Graphics
Telephone: 407- 898-0111
A big THANK YOU to Elite Signs & Graphics in Winter Park for our beautiful banner stand! This was our first GNO where we had the banner stand and it was a huge hit! We will proudly be displaying this banner at all future events. If you need a sign, banner, logo, wrap, etc. for your business, be sure to give Elite Signs & Graphics a call and tell them Orlando Housewives referred you!
Click here for more photos from our March Girls Night Out at Firefly Kitchen & Bar! See you at our next GNO on April 23rd at Wahlburgers in Waterford Lakes!
As many of you know, my 30th birthday was in February. John and I had planned to take a Disney cruise to celebrate, but the cruise we had our hearts set on just didn’t work out. We began considering alternatives, and thanks to my generous parents, ended up traveling to Cancun, Mexico to stay at the gorgeous and luxurious Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, located in the Hotel Zone.
Being the planner that I am, I had researched the best shuttles from the airport to the hotel and booked with Canada Transfers. I highly recommend this company. As soon as walked out of the airport we found the man holding a sign with our name (not going to lie – this was pretty cool!) and we were welcomed and taken to our private shuttle. The van was very clean, had lots of room, and was air conditioned. We were given cold bottles of water and cold wet towels. Our driver was courteous and got us to our hotel safely. (We booked a roundtrip shuttle and were picked up from our hotel on the day of departure)
As previously mentioned, our hotel was in what’s known as the “Hotel Zone.” The Hotel Zone of Cancun is located not far from the Cancun airport and the drive is lined by palm trees and surrounded by gorgeous water on both sides of the road. In this area you will find hotels such as, The Ritz-Carlton, The Hard Rock, The Hyatt, The Omni, etc. There’s also fine dining restaurants and malls with stores such Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Teavanna, and more.
Once we arrived and checked in at the Westin Lagunamar we headed to our room. I was immediately greeted by a birthday banner across the door and a surprise in the room – a towel cake with “Housewives in the City” decorations, a dessert, card, and balloons! This was all done by the hotel and was definitely a wonderful way to start our vacation/my celebration trip. The view from our studio room was spectacular and over a week since we left, I still miss waking up to it.
We spent a lot of time at the resort. It is not an all-inclusive, but pretty reasonable, especially if you are an owner with Vistana. We dined in the mornings at Oceana for their breakfast buffet – complete with unlimited bloody mary’s and mimosas. We lunched by the pool and indulged during happy hour – AMAZING Pina Coladas!
We splurged on the Mayan dinner night which included a Mayan themed dinner show and Mayan buffet. Think luau but more intense.
We also participated in the steak night, which has a buffet plus a huge steak of your choice. One night we decided to be simple and have pizza at the restaurant by the pool – this is pretty neat as it almost feels like you are sitting inside the pool with how it surrounds you.
There are ancient Mayan ruins just next door to the hotel which you can walk up and see. John wished we had been in a room that overlooked them – although, I have to admit I liked the beach view. However, the beach views from these ruins are incredible too!
We ventured off property a few times to explore and dine. One of the days we took a full day tour to Chichen Itza. We went on the Xichen Deluxe tour offered by Xcaret, which we booked through the hotel. This was a fabulous tour! We were picked up early in the morning from our hotel and taken to our tour bus. Once on the bus, we were greeted by our fabulous tour guide, Santos. The drive is about 2-2.5 hours and they give you coffee and breakfast as you travel. They show some videos regarding Chichen Itza, but they were in Spanish and I get sick reading while in a car/bus. Chichen Itza was amazing. The history, the structures, everything. We learned about the “basketball” type games, the significance of the location of the temple, and so much more. After Chichen Itza we headed to the historical town of Valladolid and had lunch at a fantastic buffet restaurant, La Casona de Valladolid (also included). We then had a little time to explore the town before heading to Zaci Cenote. This was a sinkhole that now has water. In the past, this was where the Mayans got their drinking water and it was against the rules to swim in it. Now you will find people cannonballing and snorkeling. It really was a cool spot to visit. The tour ended here with us driving back to the hotels and me sleeping the whole way back. We learned that with our tour we also got free admission to the Cancun Scenic Tower. The next day we took the public bus ($19 pesos/a little over $1 USD – each way) to the tower and took in the amazing views.
Another day we took the public bus again to get to a ferry to Isla Mujures, “Island of Women.” The ferry takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the island. On the island, you can rent golf carts to drive around and explore. This was a unique and fun way to explore. We stopped first at a sea turtle aquarium and then ventured to the southern point. The water here was just breathtaking. We continued around the island until we decided we needed lunch. We stopped at North Garden which was a little outdoor café restaurant. It’s cash only but you can pay in both pesos and dollars. The pricing is very reasonable too, so it’s a great little spot for a bite to eat and for a delicious alcoholic beverage. We then walked to the beach right down the block, which was crystal clear, calm and beautiful. Of course, I had to take a swim! We went back to Cancun around 5pm and enjoyed the rest of the evening by the pool before dinner.
We tried a few restaurants located in the mall across from the Westin. My favorite was Elefanta, an Indian restaurant. It has super cool indoor seating and then outdoor seating along the lagoon – perfect for watching the sunset. The Thai restaurant right next door also has amazing seating along the lagoon, which really is an experience in and of itself.
This was our third time in Mexico, with both times before this one being a stop in Cozumel on our cruises. We were never very impressed with Cozumel but this part of Cancun blew our opinion of Mexico out of the water. Between the gorgeous views, fabulous accommodations, and great excursions, it’s safe to say I would gladly go back in a heartbeat!
If you are looking for a new place to travel to in February, I recommend Cancun and staying in the same section of the strip as the Westin Lagunamar – you won’t be disappointed. Until next time…Adios!
Our March charity spotlight is The Mustard Seed of Central Florida. The Mustard Seed of Central Florida makes a house a home. They are committed to their mission to help rebuild the lives of families and individuals who have suffered disaster or personal tragedy by providing household furnishings and clothing while being environmentally responsible to our community.
The Mustard Seed's vision is that the provision of basic household furniture may set the stage for individuals to achieve restored dignity and self-esteem, enabling them to move ahead and take control of their futures.
The team members of the Mustard Seed of Central Florida Furniture and Clothing Bank treat their family and all other families and/or individuals with respect and compassion.
THE MUSTARD SEED'S VALUES:
They engender trust by being sincere and honest in all of their dealings, both with those who call their agency partner as well as those in their community who lean upon them for support.
They remain humble and teachable before one another and those they serve, ensuring client dignity even in the most troubling of circumstances.
The community can depend upon each member of their team to show loyalty to their clients in service to their mission.
Each member of their team seeks to bring peace to their clients through selfless service. They provide genuine caring and concern, showing empathy with patience and understanding, knowing they play a key role in creating the community we all desire.
They bear the responsibility of meeting the needs they declare in their mission statement, inviting and fostering cooperation from other social service agencies to continuously strengthen their combined ability to mitigate the strife of their most disenfranchised brothers and sisters.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The Mustard Seed of Central Florida understands that there are many ways to get involved in their organization. They encourage you to donate generously in ways that are meaningful to you!
Mustard Seed Boutique & Donation Sorting – Volunteers assist their Seed Boutique team in a variety of ways, including sorting donations, counting, organizing displays and hanging hundreds of items of clothing they receive each month.
Office Tasks & Duties – Volunteers are needed to work directly with families to help them complete paperwork, assist with general questions and problem-solve and answer phone calls related to The Mustard Seed programs.
Furniture Bank – Volunteers are needed to help receive, clean, refurbish and replenish their furniture inventory, as well as assist families in selecting furniture to load their vehicles. This may include becoming a Volunteer Pick-Up/Delivery Driver’s Assistant, where you can interact with their donors and collect donated goods with their drivers!
Toys, Linens, & Houseware – Each department needs volunteers daily for counting, cleaning, sorting, and arranging items on shelves in each of the respective areas. Help them make linen sets, dish packs, and more!
Maintenance – Are you handy with tools or a paintbrush? Can you help with plumbing, electrical or landscape maintenance? Have a knack for organization and cleaning? They have opportunities for you!
Recycling – Want to get a little dirty and work up a sweat while protecting our environment? Then you’ll want to volunteer in their Mattress Recycling Center. To help raise funds for The Mustard Seed and reduce waste thrown in landfills, they deconstruct old mattresses and boxsprings people no longer want. About 95 percent of mattresses and boxsprings are recyclable, so that’s a huge amount of waste they’re keeping out of the landfill. Help them raise a more “green” community!
They serve 5-8 families per day allocating an average of 15 pieces of furniture per family; That is almost 500 pieces of furniture each week. Please consider donating furniture or hosting a Junk in the Trunk event.
Immediately needed items:
Your generous donation helps to support their furniture and clothing program. Did you know that $.87 out of every dollar donated directly supports their programs to serve needy families? Change a life: Donate today!
Did you know that Amazon will give The Mustard Seed of Central Florida .05% of every purchase you make if you set us up as your Amazon Smile charity of choice? Once you add The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, shop from their Wish List to make your gift go farther!
We will be collecting donated items at our March 14th Girls Night Out Meet Up + Networking Social at Firefly Kitchen + Bar and you will be able to speak with one of their representatives to ask any questions that you may have about getting involved!
For even more information, please be sure to check out their listing on Guidestar here.
Be sure to register for your FREE ticket to our March 14th GNO here.
A HUGE thank you to all who attended our February Girls Night Out event at Tapa Toro! It was lots of fun and I loved seeing many of you again as well as meeting many of you first timers! Also, a big thank you to the staff at Tapa Toro for being so accommodating both before the event and during! I think it’s safe to say that the drinks, food and the flamenco dancer were amazing! Lastly, a special thank you to those that brought donations to support our local charity for this event, Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. If you are looking to learn more about the Coalition, be sure to check out our blog post here.
Below you will find an index of the amazing businesses that helped make our February Girls Night Out event even more fun; including their information to connect. This is a great opportunity to connect with those vendors that you might have missed networking with at the event. I also encourage you all to like each other's pages to keep the love going; as we all grow together! Oh, and don't forget to keep them in mind for your future shopping and event needs.
Michele DiMura Photography
Check out her Facebook page here!
Michele DiMura of Michele DiMura Photography joined us at our February GNO as our amazing professional photographer! I think it’s apparent from the quality of the photos from this event that Michele really has an eye for details and is fantastic at capturing the moment. Michele does a wide range of photography to include individual and family portraits, sporting events, prom, and other special events. Contact her today to book your next photo session or as to be your next event photographer!
ZYIA Active – Ellie Krueger
Visit her Facebook page here!
Ellie Krueger showed us many pieces that she offered via ZYIA Active; ZYIA Active is an active lifestyle brand. It is also a culture that believes in embracing activity with excitement, vigor and delight. They feel that pushing your body and mind is easier and more fun with friends and family. Their mission is to inspire and uplift by making activity a fun and essential part of life. To learn more about what Ellie and ZYIA Active can offer you, be sure to check out her Facebook page (she posts lots of videos) and website!
Cherry Blow Dry Bar Dr. Phillips
Visit their Facebook page here!
The Cherry Blow Dry Bar of Dr. Phillips just opened in February and we were very excited to have them join us for our GNO! They provided us with a super fun braid bar for our attendees – which was a big hit. They also gave me a beautiful blowout before the event. If you are in need of a blowout, updo, extensions, makeup or eyelashes, be sure to check out this new gem in the Dr. Phillips area! Be sure to tell them Orlando Housewives sent you!
Paparazzi – Shay Hobbs
Visit her website here!
Shay introduced our guests to Paparazzi Jewelry, which offers fun and fashionable jewelry and accessories for only $5 a piece! They also have a $25 collection – both collections have gorgeous pieces with great quality. To see all that Shay and Paparazzi have to offer, be sure to check out her website!
Scentsy – Tanasia & Mary
Check out their website here!
Tanasia and Mary brought us the yummy smells from the global fragrance company, Scentsy. From beautiful diffusers to bath bombs and lotions, Scentsy has so much to offer!
To see all Tanasia, Mary and Scentsy have to offer, be sure to check out their website.
Pruvit – Ruby McDonald
Visit her website here!
Ruby McDonald shared with us all that Pruvit Keto has to offer, including allowing us to sample their yummy keto drink. Through Pruvit, Ruby offers Pure Therapuetic Ketones - Ketosis in Less than 60 Minutes! Her products provide all-natural energy, fat loss, increased focus, and more! Ruby also shared with us photos of her own husband and dog’s amazing results – yes they have dog friendly items! To learn more about what Ruby and Pruvit have to offer, be sure to check out her Facebook page and website – she will also be joining us at our March GNO!
SeneGence – Ina Sacks
Visit her website here!
Join Ina’s Facebook group: Ina’s Kiss Proof
Ina brought a variety of inventory, including all of the LipSense colors to our event. LipSense is the super popular long-lasting (4-18 hours!) liquid lip color that is formulated to molecularly bond to your lips. LipSense is Waterproof, 💋Kiss-proof, 👶🏻Kid-proof, 🌿Vegan and🙈 Cruelty-free. It’s also the official lipstick of Broadway!
In addition to LipSense, SeneGence offers many other long-lasting products, such as eye shadow, foundation, blush, mascara, etc. as well as an amazing skin care line! To see all that Ina and SeneGence have to offer, be sure to check out her website and Facebook page.
Click here for more photos from our February Girls Night Out at Tapa Toro! See you at our next GNO on March 14th at Firefly Kitchen + Bar!
I recently had the opportunity to check out the [somewhat] new exhibit in Orlando – Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition. This exhibit took over the space of the CSI Experience and is located on International Drive here in Orlando, FL. If you are looking for something new and fun to do with your children, this exhibit is sure to excite!
Before you start exploring, you will take your photo in front of a green screen (more on this later). You then enter into a prehistoric world with GIANT lifelike dinosaur animatronics. These dinosaurs have sensors to detect when someone walks by to provide a surprising and exciting interaction with their guests. Please note, if you have small children, you may want to warn them before they enter, so they understand what to expect. The dinosaur sounds are loud and what I would assume to be realistic; to an adult it’s pretty cool but to a small child they may need to be made aware as to not scare them.
According to the General Manager of the exhibit, a family with children could easily spend 1.5 hours at Extreme Dinosaurs – and I can see why. They not only have these awesome dinosaur replicas, but they also have fun activities throughout the exhibit. There are magnetic walls where you can build a dinosaur with their bones and one where you can mix and match the different bones to three different dinos. There is a scale to see how many of YOU would be needed to equal the weight of a dinosaur – 38.1 of ME would weigh as much as a single Stegosaurus – how cool is that?! There is also a “sand” pit where you and your children can dig for dinosaur fossils and a wall to compare your height to a dinosaur’s height.
One thing I really loved about this exhibit was their attention to accuracy and details of the dinosaurs. Over the last few years it has been discovered/revealed that more and more dinosaurs had feathers and you will actually see this depicted on many of the dinosaurs as you walk through the exhibit. You are also given the opportunity to touch many things, such as a T. Rex tooth and a Stegosaurus thagamizer.
It was also very clear that the staff of Extreme Dinosaurs want children to really immerse themselves in the exhibit and if you as a parent prefer to sit down and let your children roam and play, this is OK with them. A nice little perk I’d say ;)
I highly recommend this exhibit to those with children of the elementary school age, and those that just really love dinosaurs. This is a fun, educational, and indoor place to go when you are looking for something in Central Florida to do besides theme parks.
Oh and remember that green screen when you walk in? You’ll find some really fun photos in the gift shop – be sure to check them out! Here are mine:
Adults (16+) $16.95
Students (with ID) and Seniors (65+) $14.95
Kids (4-15) $11.95
3 and under are FREE
Combo tickets, which include admission to the Titanic Exhibit next door, are also offered.
Visit Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition's website for more details.
I received complimentary tickets in exchange for my review.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Thirty… the “dirty thirty”… it’s here. I’m not going to lie, I have actually been looking forward to this decade. I have plenty of friends that looked at this decade as a death sentence, but I have been hearing for years from people in their 50s & 60s that if they could do any decade over, it would be their 30s. I’ve seen many friends hit thirty and life just got “better” for them. Am I where I thought I would be at 30? Heck no, but I think many of us older millennials feel that way. The world is a different place than it was when we were kids daydreaming about what life would be like when we grew up. I’m not married, I’m not a homeowner, and my “kids” are my dogs. But hey, life is already getting better and I have all of you to thank – Orlando Housewives has really been a blessing in my life and I can tell my life is only going to get better from here on out!
So by now you are probably like, ok Michelle, how did you celebrate? Well, with a unicorn theme, a HUGE group of girlfriends and Disney of course! Oh and I wore a tiara ;)
First, let’s talk about the amazing unicorn shirts we had custom made for us by Be Younique Designs, located in Altamonte Springs. The owner, Melissa, was wonderful and so easy to work with! I gave her my ideas and she turned them into gorgeous shirts that made many children and adults jealous. Be Younique Designs not only makes shirts, but can make many other custom designed items, like window decals, cellphone cases, etc. Plus, with every purchase, a portion of the profits are donated to the organization Feeding Children Everywhere, which packages and delivers meals to families around the world!
Now after shirts were put on we all had an amazing brunch followed by indulging in the most amazing unicorn birthday cake I could have ever asked for thanks to Sweet by Holly! It was not only glittery and gorgeous but delicious too. Their strawberry flavor was divine and it was a huge hit! You may remember my post about Sweet’s delicious cupcakes, well their cake was just as fabulous! Plus, the cake was so big it fed not only all the girls at brunch but was a yummy treat for the rest of the week.
Once we were done brunching and eating cake, we made our way to DISNEY! This was the 2nd year of Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts and we had lots of fun looking at the artwork while stopping to take photos in our awesome shirts. We were lucky enough to catch the Broadway concert too, which was truly amazing – I had goosebumps from how beautiful their voices were. We finished the day with dinner in Morocco where – SURPRISE – my dad showed up to celebrate! He drove all the way down from Virginia that day and it was a great end to a wonderful day of celebration.
My actual birthday was just a few days later on February 6th and I then got to continue the celebration with my dad at Universal with Butterbeer and all. Plus an incredible dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – just WOW! And yes, I continued to wear the tiara all day!
All in all, I have to say turning 30 has been even better than I had imagined it would be. I have so many wonderful memories and I am so thankful to everyone that helped bring in this new decade. I will be continuing the celebration in Cancun later in the month with John and my parents... Here’s a little preview of the unicorn fun I will be bringing with me…
A special thanks again to Be Younique Designs and Sweet by Holly!
(links to websites above)
Our February charity spotlight is Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida was formed in 1987 by a group of concerned citizens who noted a growing problem of homelessness in the community. Their mission is to transform the lives of homeless men, women and children by providing crucial services to end their crisis of homelessness. Their goal is to return their residents to self-sufficiency through counseling, job training, and educational programs. While their clients work to reestablish productive lives, they provide housing and child care for their children until they are ready to move back into the community.
The Coalition is home to an average of 500 homeless men, women, and children every night who do not qualify for immediate housing or for whom housing is not yet available. They provide them with an array of social services from meeting their basic needs to helping with education, job skills training, financial literacy, and daycare — all with the goal of moving toward a more stable life in permanent housing. They provide individualized assistance through their two programs: the Center for Women and Families and the Men’s Service Center. The Coalition collaborates with numerous community partners to better serve their residents.
Many times, for a variety of reasons, permanent housing is not readily available. During that time, the Coalition provides stabilization and support for ongoing needs. In addition to shelter and food, they offer childcare, employability training, financial literacy, and other crucial services to put someone on the road to permanent housing.
WHO DO THEY SERVE
Single men make up 39% of the homeless population served by the Coalition nightly. Many of the men at the Coalition work every day and rely on the Coalition for shelter because they cannot afford housing.
Women, children and families make up 61% of the Coalition’s residents on an average night. Throughout the nation, the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children.
The Coalition serves about 140 children with their families each night. The average age of the children at the Coalition is just seven years old.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CONTRIBUTORS TO HOMELESSNESS?
Loss of income, low wages or unemployment: Any disruption for low-income families – unexpected illness and medical expenses, unemployment, divorce, loss of transportation, etc. – can create a financial crisis that results in loss of housing.
Lack of affordable housing: The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Orlando requires an hourly wage of over $19.27 – putting it out of reach for many working poor. A couple who are both employed full-time at minimum wage ($8.25 per hour) can still face significant hardship, preventing them from meeting their other basic needs, such as nutrition and health care, or saving for their future.
Domestic violence: Victims of domestic violence flee their homes, sometimes with only the clothes on their backs. Nationally, approximately 50% of all women who are homeless report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness.
Substance abuse or mental illness: A common stereotype of the homeless population is that they are all alcoholics or drug abusers. The truth is that a high percentage of homeless people do struggle with substance abuse — but it is both a cause and a result of homelessness, often arising after people lose their housing. For many homeless individuals, substance abuse co-occurs with mental illness as a way to self-medicate.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida has opportunities, both individually and as a group, to be a volunteer (see website). They also have an immediate need for items such as diapers & baby wipes, laundry detergent, deodorant, underwear/bras, and work boots. We will be collecting donated items at our Feb. 19th Girls Night Out Meet Up + Networking Social at Tapa Toro and you will be able to speak with one of their representatives to ask any questions that you may have about getting involved! Please check out their wish list for immediate needs here.
Further, although we do not collect monetary donations at our GNO, you can make one via their website. Here’s what your monetary donation can do:
$50 provides a week of a meals to 27 children
$100 provides a full day of shelter to 4 adults
$250 provides an hour of counseling to 12 people
$1000 provides a full day of shelter to 45 children
LuLaRoe – Dawn McClure
Join Dawn’s VIP Facebook Group here!
Dawn brought lots of her beautiful inventory to our GNO, from LLR’s famous “butter” soft leggings to dresses and cardigans. Something that makes LuLaRoe special is the fact that they only make a small quantity of each pattern. Plus all of their clothes are super comfortable and fashionable!
Be sure to join her page to see what patterns and styles she has in stock as it always changes, especially when they have holiday capsules!
Color Street – Carol Thomas
Check out Carol’s website here!
Color street is a fun and easy way to have gorgeous nail art/polish, whether you are at work or getting drinks with the girls! Carol let me try Color Street for the first time at our GNO and I am hooked – quick and easy application with no heat needed. The polish strips last 12-14 days and look great.
Colors, glitters & nail art designs are buy 3 get 1 free! French Manicure strips are Buy 1 Get 1 Free! Ordering is easy on Carol’s website and shipping is only $3!
Chloe + Isabel – Christine Santos
Check out Christine’s website here!
Chloe & Isabel has been featured in many popular magazines with hair accessories designed by Jen Atkin, hairdresser to celebrities like Kardashians and Jennifer Lopez. One of their bracelets was even featured as one of Oprah's favorite things! Christine brought a large selection of her jewelry to our GNO and raffled off a beautiful bracelet and a gift certificate. Congrats to the lucky winners!
SeneGence – Linda Bookbinder
Join Linda’s group here: Lips 2 Luv
Linda and Wendy brought a variety of inventory, including a large array of LipSense colors to our event. LipSense is the super popular long-lasting (4-18 hours!) liquid lip color that is formulated to molecularly bond to your lips. LipSense is Waterproof, Kiss-proof, Vegan and Cruelty-free. It’s also the official lipstick of Broadway!
In addition to LipSense, SeneGence offers many other long-lasting products, such as eye shadow, foundation, blush, mascara, etc. as well as an amazing skin care line! At our GNO Linda & Wendy raffled off a HUGE gift basket – congrats to the winner!
Pure Romance – Betsy Sanchez
Join Betsy’s Facebook group here!
Pure Romance carries a sophisticated line of educational books, bath and body products, exciting relationship enhancement products, lingerie and so much more.
The Pure Romance experience begins with sexy pampering, continues with exciting ways to reconnect and ends with sheer satisfaction. Shop with Betsy for the best in bath, body, and bedroom accessories to discover what a little Pure Romance can do for you.
Betsy can also provide you with a fun girls-only shopping party at your home - if you met Betsy at our GNO, you know it will be full of fun and laughs!
Missed out on all the fun? Be sure to join us for our next Girls Night Out on Feb. 19th at Tapa Toro! Look forward to seeing you there!
A few years ago the show Cupcake Wars came out on The Food Network. I became obsessed with this show, watching every episode, wishing I could be one of the judges tasting those amazing looking cupcakes. When I moved to Florida, I found out that a 3x winner of the show had her shop in Orlando - I was so excited and had to try some her famous mini cupcakes! Once I did, I became addicted.
The shop is called Sweet by Holly and is located in the Waterford Lakes shopping center in East Orlando. It’s a quaint little shop that not only offers cupcakes but frozen yogurt as well! When you walk in, you can pick up a menu describing and showing the 30 flavors that they offer. They have the cupcakes by the register too, so if you rather, you can pick them out based on which one catches your eye. I always end up with at least a 4 pack of minis and have the hardest time deciding on which 4 to choose. Why? Because they are SO good and I get legitimate FOMO (fear of missing out).
Well guess what? This Valentine’s Day they are offering an amazing promotion (find it here) and no one has to worry about FOMO! For $20 you get a dozen assorted minis from their Valentine’s Day collection! The flavors included are: Oreo Cheesecake, Banana Puddin’, Lava, Coconut Joy, Dipped Strawberry, Cotton Candy, Red Velvet, Cookie Butter, White Raspberry, Caramel Macchiato, Crème Brulee and Piñata. Some of these flavors are off menu flavors, which means this is a great way to try flavors you can’t normally get without special ordering!
They also offer custom cakes, which I am ordering for my 30th birthday. I will be sure to share photos with you, because I just know it will be amazing!
For a full list of flavors, be sure to visit their website and follow their Facebook page to see all of their future promotions and beautiful creations – you won’t be disappointed! Like easy? They offer online ordering for easy pickup or delivery so you can order and go on with your day :)
Oh… and be sure to let them know Orlando Housewives sent you!
January is just flying by and it’s time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day! Being in Orlando, reservations many weeks ahead are always a must in my book, so I figured I would share my TOP 5 Valentine’s Day restaurants to help you plan. So whether you are celebrating with a significant other or having a “Galentine’s Day”, here are some of my favorite places to celebrate!
K Restaurant is a charming local eatery located in College Park, right down the road from Downtown Orlando. The restaurant is actually located in one of the first houses built on Edgewater, which gives it a very unique look and feel from the moment you drive up. The menu changes daily, as they obtain many fresh ingredients from locally sourced Central Florida farms and artisans. Due to these menu changes, I can’t give you a recommendation on entrée, but they once had a mac & cheese, which is made with sausage, and John has raved about it for years! You will also find an extensive drink menu and delicious desserts made by their pastry chef. Definitely a local must-try!
Ocean Prime has a couple locations nationally and we are lucky enough to have one here in Orlando! Located in the “Restaurant Row” of Doctor Phillips, you will find this upscale dining establishment. We celebrated our last Valentine’s Day here and it did not disappoint. I had the “Berries & Bubbles” cocktail which was delicious and fun (they use dry ice!). Their steak was delicious and tender and the crab meat I had on top made it even better. As with many upscale steak restaurants, the sides are a la carte, but they do not disappoint. Their black truffle mac & cheese was out of this world. For dessert we shared the baked Alaska, which was unlike any baked Alaska I had ever had and so good; I’m not sure this is still offered based on their current menu. There are many more options available, including more foods with dry ice for flair, but you’ll have to check it out for yourself!
A LAND REMEMBERED
Another wonderful steakhouse located within the gorgeous Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. John and I love this restaurant and visit for many occasions. From the moment they set down little butters shaped as alligators, you know you are in for a treat! Being from near the Chesapeake Bay, I’ll admit I am a snob about my crab cakes. I want lots of sweet crab meat with almost no filler, and that is exactly what they offer with their crab cake appetizer. Their lobster bisque and French onion soups are some of my friends’ favorites – they even offer a gator stew! I always get the filet and it never disappoints. For our a la carte sides, their organic wild mushrooms and lobster mac & cheese (sense a pattern?) are very good. I believe we have had the creamed spinach and other sides as well, but these stick out the most in my mind. For dessert, I always go with the warm pioneer bread budding. It’s a pretty big portion and just so yummy! You will also find that they serve homemade cordial ice creams and have a bar that has been able to make any drink we’ve thrown at them. Lastly, Valet is free when you dine here, so be sure to validate your ticket with the restaurant.
I have been a huge fan of Melting Pot since my first visit to the one in Reston, VA in college. I used to go monthly with a bunch of girlfriends for their Ladies Night Out and it was just such a fun experience. Since then, I have been to many locations, including our two Central Florida locations: Longwood & Dr. Phillips. If you have never been, Melting Pot has a very intimate feel with dimmed lights and cozy booths. I usually go with the 4-course experience, but I’ve been known to do dessert only with John or the girls. The 4-course is definitely the way to go in my opinion. You’ll choose a cheese (bacon & brie is my new fav - even without bacon!), salad, entrée (which you’ll cook yourself), and finally a dessert (the white chocolate crème brulee is so good!). The cheese, cooking style broth (get mojo!), and dessert will all be shared with your date, so keep that in mind when ordering. If you are with someone with a food allergy, including gluten, they are very accommodating. I am obsessed with the pretzel bread for my cheese, the mushrooms with my meal, and the graham cracker covered marshmallows and strawberries for my chocolate. They have wonderful drinks too, including the yin & yang martini, which is my go-to. This is a fun experience, no matter who you are with and I love that having to cook my own food gives me time to enjoy the dining out experience and ability to connect with my dining mates.
BETTER THAN SEX
Ok, so this isn’t a place you go for dinner, but definitely a must for those of you with a sweet tooth! Better Than Sex has one other location in Key West and I’m so glad they opened the Orlando location; located not far from Downtown. Reservations here are a MUST as they get busy and are a bit small, but intimate. From boudoir photos on the walls to the mood lighting, this is definitely a romantic and unique spot. You are given an iPad when you sit down to determine your drinks and desserts. They offer beers and wines with chocolate rims, or “rim jobs”. The desserts are “adult” themed too, like the “Get Up & Go.” My favorite dessert was a special they offered one evening, which was a grilled cheese with brie, white chocolate, and blueberries – WOW. Just WOW. For a Valentine’s Day or a fun intimate night out, this is a dessert spot you don’t want to miss!
I hope this list makes your decision a bit easier this year. I would love to hear your favorites in the comments as well! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day or February 14th – either way, enjoy it!
Hi! I'm Michelle. I love traveling, trying new restaurants, meeting new people, going to the parks and playing with my dogs. I host monthly events in the Orlando area and cannot wait to meet all of you!