A Colorful Day at Crayola Experience

To kick off our summer family vacation, we headed to Orlando a few days before boarding our Disney Cruise. Since we would be surrounded by Mickey and friends for an entire week, we wanted to experience a different side of Orlando.

Researching attractions outside of Disney, I found Crayola Experience — a fun and colorful attraction, bigger than a football field and filled with arts, crafts, imagination and play. We decided to spend our first afternoon exploring Crayola Experience! This was a great choice for our family as it was nostalgic for us and incredibly fun and engaging for Westley.

We started the tour by making crayons — Westley chose an orange and I (with his help and input) made a “Mama Blue” shade.

We then went to one of the interactive stations where Westley became the star of his very own coloring book page. Then he spent a while playing in the interior playground and after that we enjoyed some of the interactive exhibits from making frogs dance to creating a magical masterpiece mixing and melting two crayons.

The verdict: Crayola Experience was fabulous! It provided entertainment, learning opportunities and a creative outlet for our little guy. If we lived in Orlando, we would definitely buy an annual pass and would also consider the birthday party option as that would be such a fun party theme and event!

The best part?! Crayola Experience is offering my readers a discounted admission fee of $18.99 if you buy tickets using this link: http://bit.ly/2H86tUk

Happy Coloring,

Ivette

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Orlando Travel Diary: How to Vacation in the City without doing Disney

Since we are headed on our first Disney Cruise (five days out of Port Canaveral), we wanted to maximize our vacation and spend the weekend leading into the cruise in Orlando. However, as we’ll be spending an entire week with Mickey and friends on the ship, we did not want to visit any Disney parks during the Orlando leg of our vacation.

Instead, our family will be exploring Orlando’s many other awesome attractions and enjoying another side of the city. After researching potential activities, we landed on two attractions and a few yummy restaurants to kick off our getaway.

Here’s a sampling of our planned itinerary. I’ll be sharing full posts on each attraction once we’re back from our trip 🙂

Day One

Crayola Experience

We’ll be hitting the road bright and early and driving straight to Crayola Experience for a colorful kick off to our family vacation. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty excited about spending the day in a magical Crayola world that is bigger than an NFL football field! There are 26 hands-on attractions to explore from starring in your own coloring page to naming and making your own crayon (fingers crossed adults can curate their own Crayola crayon too)!

With two floors and more than 70,000 square feet of play space, we will be giving our creatiovy a work out. After all that fun, we will need to re-fuel and will likely grab a bite at the on-site Café Crayola, which serves pizza, salads, hot dogs and snacks. This entire experience will easily entertain W for 3-4 hours, which is perfect as we will then head to our hotel for check-in, nap and then off to dinner.

The team at Crayola Experience is so sweet they have shared a special offer for all of you! Click here to access the discounted general admission ticket for $18.99!

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 Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming

I’ve been dying to try Chef Art Smith’s new restaurant in Disney Springs. Last time we visited there were no reservations available, so I made sure to book well in advance for this trip. Chef Art Smith is an FSU alum who cooked for two Florida Governors and was Oprah’s personal chef. He’s fairly active in the Tallahassee community, making appearances over the years, so I’m looking really forward to this Southern cuisine experience. The hard part will be deciding what to order. I literally want EVERYTHING on the menu. A must have will be the Jasper Board with smoked fish dip, pimento cheese, shaved country and Tasso hams, bread and butter pickles, candied pecans and buttermilk crackers. Can’t wait to bask in all the grits, gravy and goodness of good ole Southern food and share the food experience post trip!

Day Two

 Columbia Restaurant, Celebration

I LOVE the original Columbia restaurant in Ybor City (Tampa) and the gorgeous St. Augustine location, so when we were discussing Mother’s Day brunch, I came across the Columbia in Celebration (an adorable Truman Show-esque perfect little town near Orlando) and of course decided to book it. Sam and I have a slight (okay huge) obsession with Cuban food, so there is no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with an original Cuban sandwich, “1905 salad,” Boliche, Sangria and Crema Catalana. Que rico!

 Medieval Times

This Queen will be spending Mother’s Day with her King and the Little Prince at the Medieval Times Castle in Orlando. We are super pumped about this experience because it will be a first for us all. I vacationed in Orlando growing up, but somehow never made it to this attraction. Sam has loved the idea of Medieval Times since he watched The Cable Guy way back when and Westley is all about horses and knights, so this will certainly be a treat.

We selected the 6:30pm show for obvious reasons (there’s also an 8:30pm show) and doors will open at 4:45pm, which will give us plenty of time to check out Medieval Life Village & Museum as well as the Castle Halls. The coolest part? In its 34-year history, the show has always had a King ruling the kingdom, but now a Queen is in charge. Can’t wait to check out this show.

Ready for jousting, epic battles, Falconry (our last name Faulkner is derived from Falconers!) and an exquisite equine experience all paired with a royal dinner and libations. Now what to wear to go with my crown?

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Excited to share pictures, videos and full reviews of each of these attractions and restaurants in the coming weeks!

 

Happy Traveling,

 

Ivette

Fit Tips: Making Time for YOU

The juggle is real. I get it because I live it. Managing being a mom, a wife, a full time job, friends, family and working out – there is a lot to do, with very little time.

Time is such an important currency and unfortunately it’s limited. So lately I’ve prioritized ME, making time for working out and using that time to level set, think and thank myself for everything I do.

As a working mom, I’m mostly giving, giving, giving. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to give. But I’ve also learned that when I take care of myself, I’m a happier, healthier and more sane version of me, which means I can give more and it’s a better quality always.

For me, dedicating time to health and fitness has been a real game changer, so here are my tips for carving out time for working out. And trust me, it’s not all about the outside result…the best stuff is what happens on the inside!

Make it a Priority. Say “yes” to getting healthy and fit and keep saying it. Taking the first step is the hardest part, but once you start, it gets easier and easier. For me, working out has become such a mental strength. I feel strong both physically and mentally. I find when I work out, I am less stressed about things. It just sets a good foundation. I’ve actually started working out a few days a week in the morning before work and it always makes for a great way to start the day. By 8am I’ve gotten a full workout, burned 700+ calories and the actual day hasn’t really begun. I’m in a much better mood and if things pop up during the day, I can handle them much more calmly because I started the day with a sweat!

Stay Committed. Schedules change, things come up and not every week is going to be perfect. However, staying the course is so important. I have committed (and pay for) three training sessions a week. So I move mountains to make that work. There are weeks where my workouts are better than others. There are times when I feel strong and energetic and others where it takes me forever to get through one circuit with breaks in between. But I show up and I put in the work. Remember, doing something is always better than doing nothing.

Find a Work Out Buddy. This is a big one! My friend Wendy was the one who had the awesome idea more than a year ago to begin working with a personal trainer and invited me along. It was the best decision ever. With a workout buddy, you have someone who holds you accountable and vice versa. It’s also more fun to challenge each other and you get to spend quality time with a friend. So it’s a win win.

Have a Travel Fitness Plan. I travel a good bit for work and for fun. But just because you’re traveling does not mean working out goes out the window. I always pack workout clothes and either visit the hotel gym or do body weight exercises in my hotel room. Traveling already messes with your routine, so the more closely you can stick to your regular fitness regimen, the better you will feel!

Find Pockets of Time for Mini Workouts. There are so many exercises you can do just about anywhere. Working in a set of squats, push ups or lunges throughout the day keeps you moving and you can do these any time! It’s a good way to keep the blood pumping and avoid sitting at a desk all day.

Invest in Cute Athleisure. Once upon a time (in college) I would wear whatever to work out. Old t-shirt and soffe shorts (remember those…) would usually do. But I find that dressing for the occasion makes working out even more fun. These days there are so many cute athleisure looks and it truly makes a difference. When you look good and feel good, your work outs are bound to reap the rewards. Another bonus, you can go from gym to work or out and about with cute apres gym gear!

Track Your Progress. Nothing beats seeing the progress in pics or on paper. You see yourself everyday, so sometimes the strides you make are not as obvious to you. That’s why taking measurements and photos is so important. You can see the difference in a tangible way. My other favorite tool is the MyZone app. I wear a heart rate monitor/belt when I work out, so I know how I’m pe performing every step of the way. After every work out I receive an email with tons of data from length of workout to calories burned, times in each heart rate zone, etc. At the end of each month, I get a report of my performance and that’s where I really see the time and effort materialized. It’s exciting and motivating to see all the hard work as a trackable report. I burned almost 10,000 calories last month and worked out for over 2,100 minutes. That keeps me going month after month!

Bottom line, being healthy and getting fit should be a lifestyle. There needs to be a mind shift (and it will happen with consistency) where working out is essential and part of your routine. Just like you need to eat, sleep, shower and work…it makes that list. That’s when the magic happens. When it becomes less of a chore and simply a part of who you are.

Happy Sweating,

Ivette

Day Trip: Orlando Science Center

While my family was driving up from Miami to Orlando, Westley and I arrived in the city with a few hours to kill. I did some research before our trip and decided on taking him to the Orlando Science Center.

This was Westley’s first visit to a science museum, but it certainly won’t be his last! Parking and two tickets ended up being around $40. It’s $20.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids ages 3-11. If your child is 2 and under then it’s FREE! For the sheer entertainment, learning and experiences available at OSC, the price is definitely well worth it.

KidsTown

Westley led the charge, so naturally our first stop was KidsTown, which is an exhibit hall with a ton of hands-on zones designed for kids age 7 and under. From a grocery store and massive climbing station to a theater with props and costumes, this section will keep young kids entertained for a long time. W’s favorite station (no surprise) was the Drip Drop Splash, where he spent nearly 40 minutes “painting” water, creating waves and making colorful water creations.

DinoDigs

Our next stop was visiting Dinosaurs, which is W’s new obsession. The DinoDigs area is really cool with giant fossil replicas of dinosaurs including the infamous T-Rex. We probably spent a good 15 minutes in awe of Mr. T. Westley went from being a bit scared, to roaring at T-Rex to trying to get into the exhibit area and touch him. Needless to say, it was hilarious watching his reaction!

As part of the exhibit, W got to play archeologist and dig for Dino bones! They have three different areas dedicated to digging, which was very engaging and hands on. Westley was a huge fan!

NatureWorks

Our final stop was NatureWorks where we discovered different ecosystems native to Central Florida from the Cypress Swamp to Pine Flatwoods.

Westley really enjoyed this area because of all the animals from alligators and turtles to lizards and insects. They even had an animal encounter with some kind of lizard (forgive my ignorance, but identifying animals has never been a strong suit). W was super into all of it!

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a fun, engaging and educational day for your littles, the Orlando Science Center is a fabulous option! We spent a solid two hours exploring and playing in several different areas and there was still a lot left to discover.

We never made it to the CineDome, which plays different movies throughout the day and there was the Mindbender Mansion (traveling exhibit), Our Planet and so much more.

I know for many of us, visiting Orlando usually involves a beloved Mouse…but if you’re traveling there for a different experience, I highly recommend the Science Center as a solid activity!

Happy Exploring,

Ivette

Road Trippin’ Tips for Road Warriors with Kids

Westley and I hit the road solo to meet my family in Orlando this weekend. Since I prepped for a four-hour drive with my wild 3-year old, I thought I would share some tips for making a long drive as smooth as possible:

1. Fill Up, Check Your Vehicle and Load Bags The Night Before

Part of fulfilling tip #2 “leave early” is to prep the night before. I always get gas, check my tires and make sure everything is in working order and load luggage before going to sleep. That way, when you wake up, you simply get in the car and start driving. This also allows for handling any last minute details that may have been forgotten prior to the start of a road trip. Planning pays off!

2. Leave Early

If you start the drive early, it’s dark and your child is usually tired and will likely fall back asleep with the vibration and hum of the road. There is also less traffic if you’re driving very early, which makes driving more enjoyable and less stressful. I don’t mind long road trips, but once you have precious cargo, there is a new level of awareness and stress that comes with driving. I would much rather drive on a nearly empty highway than deal with tons of cars, speeding cars and drivers who are auditioning for the latest Fast & Furious movie.The final perk to leaving early is you likely won’t hit traffic, arrive early and not waste an entire day driving!

3. Have Entertainment

Let’s be honest, driving for long periods of time requires entertainment for all of us, but especially for small kids. I personally love listening to podcasts while driving, and for Westley I always load his favorite movies and shows on the iPad, so he has endless entertainment during the drive. Pro tip, if you have Netflix you can download movies and entire seasons of kids shows, so you’re not using data while driving. I’ve loaded ours up with Moana, PJ Masks, Voltron, Trolls and Puss n Boots.

4. Snacks FTW

While having a food stop figured out is great (see #5), you always should have drinks and snacks in the car. This can also serve as entertainment. I always pack water, milk, Pirate’s Booty, apple sauce and string cheese, giving W healthy options for the road.

5. Midway Stop 

As soon as Westley wakes up from his car nap, I usually stop to grab food and let him walk around and stretch his legs. If we’re driving to Orlando, we usually stop in Gainesville for breakfast. If we’re doing the long drive to Miami, then Orlando becomes our stopping point.

Do you have any go to road trip tips?

Happy driving!

XO,

Ivette

Lookvine Street Style Feature

I’ve always loved fashion, putting together looks and expressing myself through clothing. You can become different versions of yourself and channel different personalities and vibes just by curating an awesome look.

From fun and frilly to rocker glam and boho chic to power plays, there are endless combinations of clothing to bring to life whatever persona you’re feeling. To me, it’s an art form.

So I was super excited when Lookvine, a site that showcases different street style looks and women they love, reached out with a short Q&A and asked that I share my five favorite fashion pics. Click here to view the feature.

Fashion Q&A

Piece I can’t live without: Dresses. It’s one piece and it instantly makes you look put together. A dress is also incredibly versatile. You can dress up or dress down, pair with a denim jacket or blazer and take it from day to night or from office to happy hour flawlessly!

Style Icon: Blake Lively. She makes boho chic and runway glam look equally effortless and accessible. She also knows how to laugh at herself and never takes herself too seriously! Love her.

Fashion Style: I describe my style as classic with a trendy twist. I love investing in pieces that will last forever and never go out of style, but also enjoy throwing in some affordable and fun trendy pieces to keep my fashion on point.

What I’m loving right now: Evert spring I get super excited about floral prints, which I often pair with stripes. I’m also loving all the fun ways to sport gingham this season.

Fave Shops: I’m a big fan of online boutiques because they carry a large variety of options at really great prices and often have discount codes for extra savings! A few of my favorite shops include Vici Collection, Red Dress Boutique and Evereve!

XO,

Ivette

Spring Fling

After spending a frigid week in NYC, I am ready for Spring and more grateful than ever for living in the Sunshine State.

Wearing tights, boots, sweaters and coats all week, has me dreaming of Spring florals, light dresses, open toed shoes and perfect pedicures. Here are some of the looks I’m currently obsessing over – all at great prices.

Gingham

This classic print is having a moment and there are so many looks to choose from — dresses, skirts, tops and even  bathing suits. Pair with a perfect picnic and celebrate the coming of Spring 🙂

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Gdress

Dress

Gwraptop

Top

Gwrapdress

Wrap Dress

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Bathing Suit

Florals

Nothing says Spring quite like floral prints. It’s a seasonal staple that is feminine and classic. Loving all these different ways to rock floral.

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Dress

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Jumpsuit

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Floral Lace Top

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Floral + Stripe Shorts

Nautical

This is a staple in my wardrobe every Spring and Summer. Nautical is classic and can take so many different directions from crisp white to traditional navy and white stripes to adding a pop of red.
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Jumpsuit

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Dress

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Maxi

Happy Shopping!

Ivette