If you’ve been following my social media posts for the past few weeks, then you probably know that John and I are celebrating our 9th anniversary in CALIFORNIA! Ok, so to be honest, it’s a few weeks before our actual anniversary, but you do what you gotta do right?
My first time visiting...
This is pretty much my first REAL Southern California experience. Back in 2009, I went on a road trip from Atlanta to Seattle, and my time in California was pretty much a day and a half – for the entire state! Yea, so needless to say, I wouldn’t count that as having “visited” California. In November I finally got to travel to Northern California to visit places like the Apple campus (huge Apple fans in my home) and San Francisco, to celebrate John’s birthday. Now I get to visit Los Angeles and… DISNEYLAND!!!
Some of you might be thinking, “but Michelle, you live in ORLANDO, home to Disney WORLD, which is MUCH bigger and MUCH MORE exciting than DisneyLAND.” Well, guess what? I disagree – I can’t wait to see the original park that inspired Walt to make Disney World. I can’t wait to walk the paths he walked, see the original dream come to fruition in person, and experience California Adventure – we don’t have that here you know! I even booked us the “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour” which allows us to see his apartment within the park! So, to me, this is a huge deal and I am super geeking out over here!
But first, Los Angeles!
Before Disneyland, we will be spending a day and a few hours in Los Angeles. We’ll be visiting John’s sister and going super touristy – because again, it’s my first time and I want to see everything I’ve always dreamed of seeing! I cannot wait to see Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame (especially Lucille Ball’s star), Rodeo Drive, Pink’s Hotdogs, etc. and we’ll be seeing all of this using the Starline Tours Hop On Hop Off buses – something I LOVE doing when visiting a new area – you learn and see so much!
Thanks to some of your suggestions, I plan to check out some other spots, such as the carousel that inspired Walt Disney to make Disneyland, visit Griffith Observatory, and hopefully check out Santa Monica Pier. Don’t worry – I will be sharing everything on social media and then later in blog posts, so you can travel with me!
I’m looking forward to sharing my adventure with you all and I hope that you will enjoy following along too. If you have any suggestions of MUST-SEE, MUST-DO, MUST-EAT in LA, Anaheim, and/or Disneyland, please comment below – I’d love to hear from you!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
Just outside of the tourist hustle and bustle of mainstream Orlando, is a quaint little area of Winter Garden, called Plant Street. Although updated within the last few years, there is still a charm about the area that brings you back to decades before our time (or at least mine). From old rustic buildings, to bricks from past train tracks used to build the walls of the citrus fountain gazebo, lots of unique restaurants, and great biking trails, this little area has quite the appeal for Millennials and more. I told John that it reminded me of that small town feel you see in shows such as Gilmore Girls, yet you’d live in a more suburb area outside of this street.
I was invited to attend one of Winter Garden Food Tours’ Sunday brunch tours, and being the foodie I am, I accepted. The tour groups are small (about 8 people) which makes for a nice, intimate outing. We met our guide, John, and the group at the citrus fountain. To my surprise and delight, two other local bloggers, one of which I have been trying to meet up with, ended up on our same tour! (check out @tastecooksip + @beautyandthebeets on IG)
We began our tour by walking to our first stop, The Chef’s Table. I had previously heard great things about this restaurant, but during our tour, I learned that The Chef’s Table has been listed as one of the top 100 restaurants in America! We did not dine in the main dining room, but instead in the “tasting room” which serves more of a tapas style (and is a bit less pricey- for those of us wanting good food but are on a budget!).
Here we tried the chicken and waffles (only offered at weekend brunch) and the shrimp and grits. Both were good, but the shrimp and grits stole the show for me. If you do not eat pork, order the chicken and waffles without the bacon!
Our second stop on the tour was Rosallie Le French Café. Probably one of the cutest restaurants I’ve ever visted. The desserts on display all looked delicious and the décor was just fabulous! We sat in the back to enjoy some of their quiche lorraine (which sells out very quickly). Unfortunately, as I do not eat pork, I couldn’t try the quiche lorraine, but it did look really good. In all honesty, before leaving Plant Street, I returned to this restaurant just to get a slice of quiche chèvre (goat cheese, tomato, & spinach – no meat) to go, because the lorraine looked so good. Let me tell you, it was the best quiche I’d ever had. So fluffy and melts in your mouth.
Our next stop, only a few blocks away and a short walk, was the Plant Street Market. Here you will find Crooked Can Brewery and many open vendors. At the beginning of the tour we got to sample some of AntiquiTEAs coffee cake, this vendor was one of the first when we walked inside.
Our first stop within the market was Sir Benji’s Donuts. These little donuts were made on the spot and were so, SO good. I did not try the bacon one, but the sprinkles one was great.
We then sampled from charcuterie and cheese boards from the Market Deli. Here you can buy fresh meats/cheeses, lunch, and they even dry-age steaks! Unfortunately, I couldn’t try any of the meats from the charcuterie board, but the cheeses and jams were wonderful. I could literally sit and eat off cheese boards all day long (LOL).
The next stop was Morthan Cheese. You might be thinking, what is “Morthan”? Well, the market wanted a cheese vendor, and the owner wanted to do “more than cheese” … next thing you know, he has a name and a very interesting business! When you walk by, you’ll find wheels of cheese cooking under some sort of contraption. When you order your sandwich, they take the melted part of the cheese wheel, and slide it onto your sandwich, before piling it high with other ingredients. I won’t lie, I wanted to try this SO badly, but unfortunately, it had pork, so I had to rely on John to tell me how amazing it was. I didn’t have to pry, he was sure to tell me how great it was. We plan to go back SPECIFICALLY so that I can try one of these amazing sandwiches, sans pork!
Watch a Morthan Sandwich being made in the video above!
See the completed sandwich below!
From here we passed by many other amazing looking food vendors to get to our Crooked Can Brewing Company tour. Crooked Can hasn’t been around very long (just a few years), but has already made a huge name for themselves. They sell in almost all parts of Florida, except for the Tampa/St. Pete area. They get their name from the founders wanting a reference to the can, which really keeps the beer fresh and delicious – something many have gone away from, and “crooked” for how you get after you have some beer. Their logo, Mr. Swagger, represents how one might feel after that first beer sets in and you begin to relax and have a good time. They even name many of their beers after emotions.
This was my first brewery tour, I come from Virginia where wineries are aplenty, but not breweries, so this was very different for me. It’s crazy how much beer they produce, considering how new they are. Plus, all the different processes the beer goes through and the different things they need, to make sure everyone gets a nice cold glass of beer from the tap.
During our tour, we learned about their barrel room, which is a lot smaller, but where they produce beer in old barrels. Some barrels are from whiskey, some from tequila, some from wine, etc. The three of us bloggers (and John) were lucky enough to be given a little tour of that area too. We sampled the Cherry Cheeks beer, which was aged in a wine barrel, which was really very good – almost like a cider, but not as sweet. I will definitely be coming back to try more of their barrel-aged beers!
Our tour came to an end and John and I decided to walk around a little more and check out Ms. Bee’s Gourmet Popcorn and Candy Store. Although not on the tour, this is a MUST! They have old-time candy, taffy, and chocolates, but also popcorn in every flavor you can imagine! We sampled a few flavors and ended up buying 3 smalls bags (banana pudding, dark chocolate salted caramel, and cheddar). I highly recommend that you stop by Ms. Bee’s!
John and I are already planning our next trip over to Plant Street as there are so many restaurants we want to try! I’m also considering taking my bike and riding it around town, as it’s just so beautiful. We were told on our tour that they also have huge events for July 4thand Christmas, so I think that might be in our future as well.
If you are looking for something new to do, or maybe a new area of Orlando/Central Florida to explore, I suggest checking out Plant Street – you won’t be disappointed! And if you are in the mood for a food tour, check out Winter Garden Food Tours – they have all sorts of food tours, including dessert! I do have to note that if you have food allergies or dietary needs, the tours may not be for you.
Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary tour for me and a guest by Winter Garden Food Tours; no postings or reviews were asked of me in exchange. As always, all comments and reviews are my own.
Cirque du Soleil is coming to the Amway Center with a brand-new arena creation. Cirque du Soleil’s CRYSTAL, explores the artistic limits of ice for the first time in the company’s 34-year history. This unique production pushes boundaries of performance by combining stunning skating and acrobatic feats that defy the imagination. CRYSTAL will perform in Orlando from Wednesday, August 1 through Sunday, August 5 for 7 shows only.
In CRYSTAL, gymnasts and skaters perform acrobatics on the ice and in the air, seamlessly combining multiple disciplines for a world class audience experience. Synchronized skating, freestyles figures, and extreme skating are featured alongside circus disciplines such as swinging trapeze, aerial traps and hand to hand. The result is an adrenaline-packed show for the whole family that pushes the boundaries and surpasses all expectations!
Watch world-class ice skaters and acrobats explore their new frozen playground with speed and fluidity as they challenge the laws of gravity with never-before-seen acrobatics. Cirque du Soleil’s CRYSTAL fuses circus arts and the world of ice skating in a stunning new production that will take the audience on a journey into a surreal world where figure skating blends with acrobatics and aerial prowess.
Cirque du Soleil Crystal will be at the Amway Center in Orlando:
Wednesday, August 1st at 7:30 PM
Thursday, August 2nd at 7:30 PM
Friday, August 3rd at 7:30 PM
Saturday, August 4th at 4:00 PM and 7:30 PM
Sunday, August 5 at 1:30 PM and 5:00 PM
For more ticket information, please go to https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal or call 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783). Amway Center is located at 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801; parking is available in the attached garage for a fee.
More about CRYSTAL – A Breakthrough Ice Experience
Follow CRYSTAL, the lead character, on an exhilarating tale of self-discovery as she dives into a world of her own imagination. Feel the adrenaline as she soars through this surreal world at high speed to become what she was always destined to be: confident, liberated, and empowered. CRYSTAL invites you to suspend reality and glide into a world that springs to colorful life with astounding visual projections and a soundtrack that seamlessly blends popular music with the signature sound of Cirque du Soleil.
For more information, visit: www.cirquedusoleil.com/crystal
To watch a preview video of CRYSTAL, visit :YOUTUBE (and see video clip below)
Follow #CRYSTAL and #cirquedusoleil on social media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
About Cirque du Soleil
CRYSTAL is Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd original production since 1984. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 180 million spectators in more than 450 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleilhas over 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from 50 different countries.
Cirque du Soleil wishes to thank Forsythe Technology ; official sponsor of Cirque du Soleil.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.
To find out more about the ONE DROP Foundation, visit www.onedrop.org.
Disclaimer: I am a Boza Agency Blogger Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest live entertainment, Boza Agency has provided me with complimentary tickets to Cirque du Soleil shows and other exclusive opportunities. As always, all opinions are my own.
Our June charity spotlight is International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES). ICES is a nonprofit student exchange organization dedicated to promoting a peaceful world by increasing international awareness and cultural understanding. They are a team of experienced professionals who are passionate about offering fantastic international and American student exchange opportunities. They have been doing this for over 25 years and they are amazed by the remarkable achievements of their students.
ICES was founded in 1991 by John J. Crist, as the President/ CEO he has worked in the U.S. as well as Sweden, Spain, Brazil and England and has been in the student exchange industry for over 35 years.
The ICES staff truly understands the challenges that exchange students may face, many of their team members have lived abroad and learned another language while overcoming cultural differences. This understanding and compassion is transmitted through ICES’s exceptional customer service.
As the global community we live in becomes increasingly interdependent and subject to change, today’s young people will face numerous challenges on the journey to becoming tomorrow’s leaders. They believe the foreign student exchange experience helps young people of all nationalities embrace those challenges and discover new opportunities that will help them dream and achieve more than they ever thought possible.
In May of 2016 ICES developed the IQ USA brand to define its Academic Service, F-1 & Short-Term programs. With the strength of 25 years in business, ICES and IQ USA offer experience in J-1 & F-1, Short-Term and Academic Service programs along with a reciprocal program, their High School Study Abroad for American students!
ICES is a designated as an official J-1 sponsor through the U.S. Department of State. They meet meticulous government regulations that assure their students, partners and host families have safe and positive experiences. ICES has been a member of the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange (ALLIANCE) since 1997. They have maintained a full listing with the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) for 25 years. ICES President John J. Crist, has served four terms on the CSIET Board of Directors. CSIET establishes standards for operating international exchange programs, they monitor compliance, and disseminate information regarding international educational travel organizations.
With 38 office staff members and a team of 425 local coordinators, they are dedicated to providing participants with experiences that will have a positive impact on their lives for years to come. Their team manages over 1,300 students yearly, with a network of school partners in 45 states. Their students come from 39 countries and are supervised by trained coordinators and compassionate student counselors.
Their partners help ICES to recruit and screen students ensuring that each student is emotionally prepared for the challenges inherent in studying abroad. Their Partners administer language exams and conduct interviews with students and parents prior to accepting them into the ICES program. The ICES President believes in building long-term relationships that allow them to learn and understand their Partners’ expectations, so they can provide excellent service to their international program participants.
U.S. schools play an important role in the success of their inbound programs. ICES staff focus on building and strengthening relationships with schools across the nation. Their school partners work closely with ICES to serve the best interest of their students and host families.
HOST A STUDENT
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A HOST FAMILY
Your role as a host family is to provide room & board, and a nurturing home environment for your exchange student. The rewards of hosting are many, your family will learn and grow with the experience as you build life-long friendships.
ICES provides host families a network of support starting at the local level. Their trained Local Coordinators are available to help with any questions or concerns you and your family may have during the hosting experience. Local Coordinators will visit your home and provide you with detailed information about the hosting experience, while answering all of your questions. Host families are given an orientation before their students’ arrival to ensure they understand all aspects of hosting.
FROM A STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE
Students around the world contemplate and dream about an exchange experience, they wonder what things will look like once they are actually living with an American family and going to school. The impact an exchange experience has on these student’s is profound and meaningful. Being a host family not only gives students a place to call home, it changes their view on Americans, their perspective on life; it gives them the gift of friendship and of “family”. As you change their lives, you change yours, cultural differences melt away and the rewards of hosting come with the realization that you made a difference, you changed lives!
Learn more about becoming a host family here.
To apply to become a host family, please fill out this request form.
Still have questions or want to speak with someone directly? Call (800) 344-3566; ICES has an energetic and knowledgeable staff that is happy to tell you more about the hosting experience.
ICES works with its partners overseas who do the pre-screening of students. Their partners recruit only those students who they feel will be excellent candidates for the program. They continue the screening process to ensure they have a genuine interest in becoming an exchange student. Here are some of the things they screen for:
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
International high school students from Latin America, South America, Europe, Asia & Africa are excited to become a part of your family. Their overseas partners carefully select and pre-screen students, ICES follows up with additional screening for maturity and adaptability. Students come with medical coverage and their own spending money, they participate in a pre-departure orientation as well as an ICES arrival orientation, so they understand the rules and expectations of their program.
Program length is 5 or 10 months
Students are between the ages of 15 -18
Arrival dates are during the months of August and January
Read what previous Host families have to say here.
Read what previous students have to say here.
Connect with ICES on Facebook!
Connect with ICES on Twitter!
We will not be collecting any donated items at our June 26th The Big Easy Girls Night Out Meet Up + Networking Social, but you will be able to speak with a representative of ICES to ask any questions you might have! The deadline to sign up to be a host family for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year is Mid-July.
Be sure to register for your FREE ticket to our June 26th GNO here
A HUGE thank you to all who attended our May Girls Night Out event at Bartaco! The weather held out and it was a fantastic patio party event! As always, it was great meeting so many of you that were joining us for the first time and seeing those of you that have joined us at past events. A big thank you to the staff at Bartaco for being so accommodating, both before the event and during – the place was gorgeous, and we loved all the “extras” that made our group feel welcome (custom menus, the little signs for photos, taco tokens, etc..), plus everything was delicious. It was also tons of fun seeing the staff get really into the event by getting their hair braided at our braid bar! Lastly, a special thank you to those that brought donations to support our local charity for this event, Mamas of the NICU. If you are looking to learn more about Mamas of the NICU, be sure to check out our blog post here.
Below you will find an index of the amazing businesses that helped make our May 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
Michele DiMura of Michele DiMura Photography joined us at our May 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. We loved that she was also able to offer headshots at this event to those of you looking for a new professional photo.
Contact her today to book your next photo session or to be your next event photographer!
Paparazzi – Christie Tincher
Facebook: BLING with Confidence
Christie introduced our guests to Paparazzi Jewelry, which offers beautiful $5 jewelry. All jewelry is lead and nickel free, and great quality- I’m truly obsessed! Be sure to check out her Facebook group to join her in her live shopping parties and join her monthly birthday drawings!
Norwex – Krista Sickles
Facebook: Krista Sickles – Norwex Independent Sales Consultant
Norwex has four main goals: They want to save you time, save you money, save your health, and save the environment during your home cleaning process. They try to use cloths and water as much as possible. They have a very generous hosting program and as Krista is new to the area, she is spoiling her FL hosts with even more goodies – so be sure to check out her Facebook page and website! If you are looking for some amazing before and after photos, Krista can also share those with you!
Rodan + Fields – Maria Mesaros and Lauren Berton
Websites: mmesaros.myrandf.com & LaurenP0317.myrandf.com
Facebook: Rodan + Fields by Maria
Maria and Lauren shared with us the amazing skincare products offered by Rodan + Fields. 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, be sure to visit the websites and Facebook page listed above!
Shallamar’s Hair Solutions
Shallamar’s Hair Solutions joined us and showed off all they have to offer! Located on Turkey Lake Road in the Dr. Phillips area, they are a New York City multi-cultural salon with over 22 years of experience. They provide hair solutions for people with bald spots, thinning hair, problems with length or volume, as well as retarded hair growth. Shallamar's also offer extensions and weaves - they carry a full inventory of 100% human hair for extensions as well as customized lace wigs. Length 12 to 30 inches in all colors and hair textures!
To learn more about Shallamar’s Hair Solutions, be sure to check out the website, Instagram, and also their YouTube page!
Cherry Blow Dry Bar Dr. Phillips
We were very excited to have The Cherry Blow Dry Bar of Dr. Phillips join us again for our GNO! They provided us with a super fun braid bar for our attendees – which was a big hit (even with the Bartaco staff!). 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! They also offer memberships so that you can get that gorgeous hairdo at a discounted rate! When you visit, be sure to tell them Orlando Housewives sent you!
SeneGence – Christi Fey
Facebook: Glitter and Glam with Christi💋
Christi joined us as our Senegence vendor and showed off a variety of inventory, including the ever popular SeneGence product, LipSense. LipSense is 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 Christi and SeneGence have to offer, be sure to check out her website and Facebook page.
Couture Med Spa – Ocoee location
Couture Med Spa of Ocoee joined us at our GNO. They offer services such as: Botox, Latisse, Cosmetic Dermal Fillers, Kybella, Laser Hair Removal, microblading, and more! For more information on what they offer and pricing, be sure to check out their website and Facebook page!
Click here for more photos from our May Girls Night Out at Bartaco! See you at our next GNO on June 26th at The Big Easy in Winter Garden!
Yesterday John and I made the short trip from Orlando to Tampa to explore another theme park this area has to offer – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Most of you know already that John and I are originally from Virginia, so Busch Gardens Williamsburg was always our “go-to” place for fun growing up; I was an annual passholder for most of my life. I had visited the Tampa location a few times when I was vacationing in Florida as a child, but that was a long time ago. John had never been to the Tampa location, so I was very excited to bring him with me and experience the fun together!
For those of you that don’t know the difference between the two parks, the Williamsburg, VA location is themed as European countries (imagine a European Epcot, if you will). The Tampa, FL location is themed as Africa, and has tons animals!
After making our way into the park and purchasing our meal plan (I will talk about this more later), we began our adventure. If you are lucky enough to be in the park in the earlier part of the day, I highly recommend catching the cheetah run. This is when they have one of their cheetahs come out and it runs after one of their toys to show you their speed. It’s an amazing way to see just how fast these animals can run, but also get to see them pretty close up. Now, I have seen cheetahs in a park or zoo before, but they are usually far away and sleeping, so this was an amazing sight to behold.
We continued our adventure by riding the Cobra’s Curse roller coaster. I was scared to death to ride this coaster, but it ended up being a lot of fun! It has some twists and turns (literally the cart will move around), but my favorite part was when we got to the very top and could look out onto the Savannah and see the Giraffes. We then rode Montu, which is similar to one of my childhood favorites in Williamsburg, Alpengeist.
After a bite, while hiding out from the torrential downpour of rain, we began exploring the animals part of the park. We got up close and personal with hyenas, tigers, lions, elephants, gorillas, and more! Busch Gardens really had an amazing way of setting up these areas so that you can get very close. In the hyena area, there is a little car that kids (and adults) can sit in, and the hyenas will sometimes come over to the car and stand on top, giving you a great and seriously awesome view. In the tiger area, they have a little glass box you can look out of and the tiger might come and sit on top of the box! We saw both of these things happen while we were there, and it was truly awesome.
As luck would have it, it was Jack Hanna weekend during our visit, and due to the crazy rain, we decided to take a break and catch his last show of the day. This was seriously a great show. Jack Hanna is very knowledgeable, funny, and very honest. I loved the message he gave at the beginning of his show on why places like Busch Gardens, Sea World, and other zoos are so important to have. He asked the question of how can someone learn to love something and want to fight for it, if they have never had a chance to see it or learn about it? This really spoke to me. Aside from his great words, the animals that he brought out were just amazing. From South African Penguins, to Kangaroos, to Cheetahs, a sloth, and more, I was in love and in amazement.
After the show, we caught one of the trains and did a full tour of the park. The best part of the train is that it takes you to areas you cannot get to any other way. You actually get to ride out on the huge savannah and see animals up close. We were lucky enough to have zebras, giraffes, and rhinos walk right next to our train! We even got to catch a glimpse of baby Winifred (a rhino) – adorable! For those of you concerned, they do slowdown and/or stop the train if an animal walks on the tracks.
We ended our long day with a ride on the Cheetah Hunt roller coaster, more yummy food, and checking out the Summer Nights area of the park. They are still doing the free beer promotion (2 per person) for all attendees, so be sure to check that out this month!
Before I end this post, I want to circle back to the meal plan I mentioned in the beginning. You do NOT need to buy a meal plan to eat at the park, however, I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s such a great deal. The “All-Day Dining Deal” is $34.99 (pass members save 10%) and you literally can eat and drink ALL DAY. Here’s how it works: When you buy the meal plan, you get a wristband. When you go to one of the participating restaurants (there’s many), you get to choose 1 entrée, 1 side or dessert, and a drink (soda, tea, or Dasani bottled water). You go to the register, they ring it up, scan your band, and you are good to go. Literally ONE HOUR after they scanned your band for your food, you can do this again. YES, I am saying EVERY hour, if you really wanted to, you could have another entrée, side or dessert, and drink. This also means you can go back just for a side, or just for a dessert! And get this, the drinks – those are unlimited! So, if you are walking around the park and you think “man, I am super thirsty,” you can go into a participating location and grab a bottle of water (or tea/soda). Amazing right? One meal and a bottle or two of water and you have literally paid for the band. John and I were at the park for at least 8 hours and we had at probably 3 full meals, and LOTS of water (yay Florida heat!). Some other perks you get with the meal plan is the ability to get BOGO on wine, beer, and other snacks that are not part of the meal plan. So, we were able to get a beer and some fresh pretzels BOGO. Also Dippin’ Dots and a Shamu bar BOGO. Honestly all, this deal is a must and I always purchase it at Seaworld too!
Although the weather was pretty gross thanks to Subtropical Storm Alberto, we had a wonderful time at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the kangaroo feeding until it was too late, so I guess we will have to make another trip! An easy drive from Orlando and a whole lot of fun, why wouldn’t we go back?
A special thanks to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for allowing us to visit the park for the day – it was definitely one for the books!
I received complimentary entry to experience Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in exchange for my review. As always, all comments, thoughts, and opinions are my own.
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE’S MAN OF THE WOODS TOUR SETS RECORD FOR HIGHEST-GROSSING CONCERT AT orlando's AMWAY CENTER
This past Monday night (May 14, 2018), Justin Timberlake brought the great outdoors to Orlando’s Amway Center with his Man of the Woods Tour. While performing to a sold out crowd of 17,839 and grossing $2,387,112, the tour became the highest-grossing, single-day concert in the arena’s history.
"Amway Center has had a string of sold out concert successes but to be the top-grossing concert in the arena's seven-year history is a remarkable achievement," said Orlando Venues Chief Venues Officer Allen Johnson. "We are thrilled to make history with Justin Timberlake. He delivered a milestone night that our capacity crowd won't soon forget."
Timberlake may not have been wearing his trademark suit and tie, but he comfortably held court on a massive stage in the round, bringing an energetic, outdoorsy vibe filled with woodland landscapes and campfire settings surrounded by 35 projection silks illuminating Timberlake’s every move during his two-hour set. After working it, Timberlake closed with “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” leaving his fans dancing the night away and wanting s’mores.
This information was released via Press Release from the Amway Center. To learn more about the Amway Center, please visit www.amwaycenter.com.
Did you attend this amazing concert? Comment below to let us know what you thought!
Rebecca L. Palmer, Esq. is a Family & Marital Law attorney and Supreme Court Certified Mediator practicing in Orlando, FL. Rebecca has a broad background in providing intimate legal advice to those in need at a major time of change in their life. When she began her practice 23 years ago she did so to be in the courtroom for general litigation. Then she learned while litigation is sometimes necessary, often the best route is to use skilled negotiation techniques. Rebecca is passionate about alternative dispute resolution and collaborative law for domestic disputes. That said, she also knows when it is time to go to court.
With the magnitude of emotions that each client goes through, Rebecca is able to effectively assist them with not only legal counsel, but also a sounding ear and shoulder to lean on that ultimately fulfills her passion for helping others. Over the years, this kind of dedication to her clients, she believes, is what has created her successful path. It’s not uncommon for Rebecca to reach out after her services have been completed to check in with past clients to see how they’ve adjusted, which is why so many past clients are quick to refer her and consistently stay in touch.
Describe yourself in three words:
Compassionate. Energetic. Loyal.
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
My greatest professional achievements range from practicing as a family law lawyer where I am able to help people during their most difficult times to assisting a family in a successful international relocation case, to handling a high-profile celebrity divorce while maintaining confidence and confidentiality.
What are your professional goals for the next six months?
While I have been practicing for almost 24 years now, my focus remains on providing excellent representation for each and every one of our clients.
How does your company stay connected through social media?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Before pursuing law, it was my dream to move to New York City and become an actress.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Relying on the support of family, friends and my incredible team at the office, staying fully focused and engaged with my family when I am with them and being equally focused on my clients while I am at work help me maintain a positive work/life balance.
What websites do you visit every day?
NY Times; Orlando Sentinel; Etsy; Time; Facebook; and Twitter.
What are your top three favorite people/places/things to do in your city?
People: My husband, Dave Cannella
Places: Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts and the great restaurants on Park Avenue
Things To Do: Attend Orlando City Soccer games
What is your goal for retirement?
I don’t see myself retiring. Instead, I see myself, at some point years from now, taking a step back from litigation and being solely focused on being a mediator and collaborative work.
Do you have any advice for women who'd like to start their own company?
Don’t doubt yourself. If it is something you have ever wanted to do, I encourage you to venture out and pursue it without regret.
Any final comments?
Look around you and inside of you and reflect on what you know makes you succeed and concentrate on those people and those attributes.
CONNECT WITH REBECCA L. PALMER, ESQ.:
Rebecca L Palmer Law Group
800 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 1500
Orlando, FL 32803
On May 5th, John and I got to attend the media day at LEGOLAND Florida for the unveiling of LEGO® Star Wars™: The Force Awakens MINILAND Model Display and LEGO® Star Wars™ Days. This display and event will be taking place on May 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 ONLY – so be sure to visit while you can!
It should be known that this was both John and my first time visiting any LEGOLAND theme park, and we are both in agreeance that it was an amazing experience! We had always assumed that this park could only be enjoyed if you attended with children; this was not the case. From the moment we entered the park, we felt like we were transformed back to kids. Immediately as we walked into the park we were greeted by the sights of LEGO models. As we kept walking, we passed stores and restaurants, also displaying amazing LEGO models, from pizza chefs, to tourists buying gifts, to a man bird watching; we were in complete amazement! As this was the start of Star Wars™ Days, throughout the park there are extra models and lots of meet and greets as we continued to explore. Although this was our first time at the park, we decided to go map-free, to let ourselves take in our surroundings and really immerse ourselves in the experience. Within the first 10 minutes of entering the park, we had our photos taken with Star Wars™ characters, both made of LEGOs and real! The lines weren’t crazy long like at most theme parks, which made the experience even more enjoyable and made us actually stop to take photos (something we usually would skip due to very long wait times).
As we made our way to the Star Wars™: The Force Awakens MINILAND Model Display, we took in the sights (and sounds!) of the other amazing MINILANDs. Honestly, this was breathtaking. From models of the Daytona 500 and NASA, to the Vegas strip, Manhattan, Washington DC, San Francisco, Orlando, Miami, and more, we easily spent 40 minutes just taking it all in (and takings LOTS of photos).
As you pass these MINILAND models, you will find yourself at the Star Wars™: The Force Awakens MINILAND Model Display and all I have to say is WOW! This giant new display features memorable moments from Episode VII and is made out of thousands of LEGO bricks, enhanced with lights, sound effects and animation! It is truly a sight to behold and again, lots of time can easily be spent in this area to see every little intricate detail of the display. There are also more character meet and greet/photo opportunities in this area with both real and LEGO characters! I have to say, the LEGO characters are so life-like and made to scale, that there are moments when you wonder if there could actually be someone inside. For me, this character was Darth Maul; the likeness was impeccable!
As we continued through this amazing park, we checked out the other lands such as NINJANGO – which had an awesome 3D ride, which makes you get a pretty good arm work out. We made a quick stop near the Boat School to try the special “Light Sword” churros (1 of 4 LEGO® Star Wars™ Days treats!). Of course we got one in each color, red and blue, and had a little duel! I’d say we both won because these churros were delicious – and they left our lips colored the colors of our churros, which made for a fun photo opportunity!
We explored the driving school and flying school before making our way to the Cypress Gardens. The Cypress Gardens, established in 1936, have been preserved by LEGOLAND and were in pristine shape. The gardens gave a little escape from park life, and for a pair of thirty-somethings visiting without children, it was a romantic and tranquil addition to our visit. We LOVED the humongous Cypress tree and the historic gazebo! Although these botanical gardens are within the confines of LEGOLAND, there were only a few new LEGO additions (such as the Southern belle by the gazebo). If you are visiting without children, I highly recommend checking out this gorgeous area of the park!
After returning from the Gardens, we took our photo with LEGO® Captain Phasma! (Meet and greet opportunities are offered for both LEGO® Captain Phasma and LEGO® Darth Vader next to Kid Power Towers – be sure to check time schedule!)
From here we continued to explore the rest of the park, enjoy more LEGO models and then did a little shopping! The stores here are awesome and filled with so many cool LEGO toys – John was in pure heaven. I’ll admit, I was a bit jealous of some of the fun kids’ shirts – but no worries, I still found an awesome one to take home for myself! For you collectors out there, during LEGO® Star Wars™ Days, you can also pick up an EXCLUSIVE LEGO® Star Wars™ Scarif Trooper Minifigure for free with a $50 LEGO® Star Wars™ toy purchase at The Big Shop!
On our way out of the park, we made a stop inside the LEGOLAND Hotel. All I have to say is WOW! After checking out the amazing lobby, both John and I want to check out the rooms and stay there for our next visit! Just like in the parks, there are LEGO models displayed, including a real U.S. Post Office box – so very cool! Unfortunately, the Bricks Family Restaurant wasn’t open for dinner yet, so we just took a peek from the outside.
I think it’s plain to see that our first experience at LEGOLAND Florida was an amazing one!
Plus, LEGO® Star Wars™ Days made it even better! Would I still visit this park without the Star Wars™ fun? Yes, definitely – but if you are able to make it out during this limited-time event, I would highly recommend it! Did I feel like we missed out on anything since we weren’t with children? Definitely not -this park has something for everyone!
I want to thank Rebecca of Teacups and Fairy Tales for allowing me to cover this event on her behalf – we had the best time! Be sure to visit the Teacups and Fairy Tales blog here: teacupsandfairytales.com
I received complimentary entry to experience LEGOLAND FLORIDA in exchange for my review. As always, all comments, thoughts, and opinions are my own.
I’m very excited to announced that our May charity spotlight is Mamas of the NICU. For those that may not know, NICU stands for, “Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.” Mamas of the NICU is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created to help moms cope with their time in the NICU through journaling and documenting their journey, connecting current NICU moms with graduate moms as mentors, and providing an outlet through a blog with information and past experiences.
THE 5 PILLARS OF MAMAS OF THE NICU’s MISSION
Encouraging mamas to be the best advocate for encouraging positive change for their little one(s).
A community of mamas on the same journey making long lasting connections through similar experiences.
Sharing the latest medical research information and past experiences from graduate NICU mamas.
Giving mamas the tools they need to feel empowered about the making the tough life-changing decisions that they are faced with daily.
Helping mamas realize that they matter too.
FOUNDER OF MAMAS OF THE NICU – BIANCA DOTTIN
Bianca Dottin is a blogger and Millennial mom of two living in Orlando. She had never imagined that she would be a NICU mom. After 34 weeks of a rough pregnancy, Tristan was born with multiple congenital anomalies and admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for respiratory distress. 6 long months went by with daily visits to the NICU to be with Tristan. Bianca had to learn how to cope with her preemie son’s conditions and the stress of being a NICU mom, all while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for her 6-year-old daughter Tatiana. Her greatest coping mechanism was through journaling and joining a community of moms for trach babies. Throughout their journey, Bianca decided that she wanted to create an online community where all NICU moms could come for a place to seek comfort, knowledge, and understanding from fellow and graduate NICU moms. On April 19, 2017, Tristan Josiah Ferrell gained his angel wings. For more on Tristian’s story, click here.
MOMMY’S NICU JOURNAL
In November 2017, Bianca officially released My Mommy’s NICU Journal, a 60-day guided journal for reflection, self car, and precious memories.
“I created My Mommy’s NICU Journal for moms like myself. There’s no way that I was able to remember every single detail about my baby’s NICU stay. I needed a way to keep track of our milestones and memories. A journal was the way to do it. It’s more than just a journal. It’s a keepsake.”
There are many ways you can become involved and support their mission:
Join Their Online Community:
Join in on weekly convos with moms just like you. Our Facebook group is a private, safe place where moms can speak open and honestly, ask questions, and be uplifted through their NICU journey.
Sign-up for Updates
Subscribe to their newsletter to receive the latest updates, news, and events. You can sign up here.
Submit a Guest Post
Are you a mama looking to share your story, a medical professional wanting to give tips, or just a mama looking for a platform? Become a contributor by submitting original content including poems, inspirational words, personal stories, craft ideas, photos, etc.
Send an E-Card (COMING SOON!)
Do you know a NICU mom? Send an e-card to brighten their day.
NICU Survival Kits
Mamas of the NICU is accepting donations for their NICU Survival Kits. They rely on the support of individuals and businesses to fulfill their mission of making sure no mama goes through this journey alone. Their survival kit packages (see below) were created with mamas in mind.
DONATE AT OUR UPCOMING GNO
We will be collecting donated items at our May 21st Girls Night Out Meet Up + Networking Social at Bartaco and you will be able to speak with the founder, Bianca, to ask any questions that you may have about getting involved!
Items currently needed:
Mamas of the NICU has an online store where you can purchase items such as:
UPCOMING EVENT: MOTHER’S DAY NICU MOM BRUNCH 2018
NICU moms are special in every way. This year Mamas of the NICU is kicking off an initiative that is near and dear to their hearts. They’re hosting a NICU mom brunch to show mamas a little appreciation. Moms will get the chance to meet fellow NICU moms (both past and present), indulge in a delicious brunch courtesy of Ace Cafe Orlando, and receive survival kits filled with essential baby goods, snacks, and toiletries that will be used on a daily basis throughout their NICU journey. Each mom in attendance will also receive a hard cover copy of Mommy’s NICU Journal to document their journey. RSVPs are required as they only have 15 spaces available for this event. Why the number 15? Tristan’s birthday was on October 15th.
For more information, go here.
CONNECT WITH MAMAS OF THE NICU VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
MAMAS OF THE NICU RECOGNIZES THESE OTHER GREAT RESOURCES FOR NICU MAMAS
The Tiny Footprints Project
High Risk Hope
Hand to Hold
NICU Helping Hands
Can’t make it to our GNO but still want to donate? Donations can be mailed to:
Mamas of The NICU Inc.
321 Montgomery Rd.
Altamonte Springs, FL 32716
Hi! I'm Michelle. I love traveling, trying new restaurants, meeting new people, going to the parks, and playing with my dogs. I'm also super Disney obsessed - parks, cruise lines, movies - I love it all!
I host monthly networking events in the Orlando area for all women to attend. I look forward to meeting you at our next GNO!