I have to tell you cruising is one of our favorite family vacations! This is our second year taking a cruise as a family and it won’t be our last. Why do we all love it? It might be easier to tell you what we don’t like (which is simply that it took a long time to drive to Florida.) There are five people in our family and our kids range from 8 – 17 (how did that happen gah) read they have VERY different ideas of fun. On a Carnival cruise there is literally something for EVERYONE in our family to do to keep us entertained as well as more choices to eat and drink than you can shake a stick at available at all times of the day or night. 24/7 people. I haven’t even talked about the views and the destinations – which are amazing.
Earlier this summer I took a little (and by little I mean seriously amazing so much so I really didn’t want to come home) trip to The Florida Keys. This is part TWO of that amazing trip. The first two days of the trip were spent bouncing around the idealistic ISLAMORADA . We packed up ours bags and headed further South to Key West for the final 2 days of our trip. Key West was as vibrant and delicious as I imagined it would be. Trying to compare these two places would be like trying to compare apples to oranges. I adored them both. Clearly I didn’t want to come home.
Over the summer I was invited by the Keys Tourism Board to tour the beautiful and oh so sunny Florida Keys. I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. You can imagine that when the invitation arrived, it took me all of two seconds to say yes and thank you. Thank you very much. I had actually never visited the Florida Keys prior to this visit and I can honestly say that it was better and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I’m actually thinking that now would be a VERY good time to pack up and go for another visit. The people, the food, the restaurants, the hotels, the WATER, seriously I fell in love with the colors of ocean. So much so I bought a necklace off a gallery owner (true story) that reminded me of the water and my trip.
This usually surprises most people that don’t know me well, I’m a HUGE professional bull riding fan. It’s the truth. Okay fan really doesn’t describe how into it I am. I’m slightly obsessed. There I said it. I watch it just about every time it’s broadcast on television and I do my best to get to at least one live event every year. If you haven’t you really should. Good times people. Really good times. Not kidding. Whenever I get a chance to see bull riding I’m in. Period.
Disclaimer: This blog post is brought to you by SocialMoms and Funjet Vacations blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.
I don’t know about you but this time of year when the days are shorter, darker, colder and sweaters, scarves and boots are the norm vacation destinations are what I daydream and dream about. Since I am a beach girl through and through I gravitate towards vacation destinations like Mexico’s Vallarta-Nayarit. With nearly 200 miles of coastline, authentic charm and a rich vibrant culture it’s no wonder Riviera Nayarit was named one of Frommers’ top destinations for 2014. It’s a destination for pampering, stunning sunsets and incredible value that I can’t wait to experience firsthand with my family. There is literally something for every age to experience making it an optimal family friendly vacation destination that you can book for as little at $50 down!
You all know how much I LOVE Italy. Any time you mention the word I can not help but smile. I could talk about it (preferably in Italian) for hours on end. I spent my formative years living in Fruili. It’s my home away from home and where I feel incredibly connected. Once you’ve been to Italy you will understand. I try to return as much as possible, when I am away for too long I get twitchy. It’s best for all of us if I go at least once a year ; ) I think everyone should go at least once. You should get your ITALIAN FIX. 3 amazing women have put together a trip of a lifetime. 1 of which I have met in person, Leela who is an absolute peach and a very TALENTED photographer. Giulia, who I have not met in real life but I feel like I have known her for years. I was honored when she asked me to help look over the English version of her first cookbook (it’s awesome you should get it and her new one) and Bianca, my newest amica who I know I would get on with amazingly. Since she organized the trip I’m going to let her tell you all about it.
Yes there is such a thing as Chocolate Covered February and Susan and I took it in this past weekend with our hubs, all to report back to you of course. We’re such givers, I know. Where is such an event you ask? It’s at the sweetest place on Earth, Hershey, PA of course. Best part is this is going on ALL month long so you can jump on this chocolate train too. There are events for the whole family or events perfect for just you and your sweetie. Either way you won’t be disappointed, there’s chocolate involved and lots of it.
Beverly Hills dah-ling. Pinch me, I finally went there and I have to tell you it was as mah-vah-lous as I imagined (maybe even more so). Sus & I decided to tack a few days onto a work trip for a little vacay. We were hosted by the oh so fabulous Beverly Wilshire. Yes that one where Pretty Woman was filmed. We were greeted by Carrie our hostess who gave us a warm welcome and tour. If you love the movie like I do you’ll be happy to know that they have the movie running 24/7 in the spa. Who wouldn’t want a mani/pedi while sipping on a glass of champagne while watching Pretty Woman? I mean seriously.
It’s been a little over a week since I’ve worked the hardest I have ever worked in my life. My LIFE. Earlier this year my crazy bff Susan & I decided that hosting our OWN food conference would be a good idea. How hard could it be right? *sideeye* We had put together numerous well regarded sponsor parties after all. We worked for months on end putting together every single detail. We planned, planned and planned some more. Spent umpteen hours on the phone as well as emailing everyone and their brothers. Finally on Friday November 30th, 100 attendees converged on a mountain top in Virginia to be entertained and learn at OUR conference MIXED. We were thrilled, shocked and humbled and pretty much felt like we birthed another child.
I travel – a lot. Honestly, I tend to pack a lot more than I really need. What can I say? I like to be prepared. Ask Susan. She constantly makes fun of me when we travel. She shows up with the smallest bag and has twice as much as I do in my 21″ pilot carry on. I am always amazed at her mad packing skills. So when I had the opportunity to review this gorgeous Lo & Sons O.G. (Overnight & Gym Bag) Women’s Lightweight Travel Bag I jumped at the chance to see if I could take everything I needed in one small overnight bag. I took a trip to Chicago this week. 3 days, 2 nights. I packed EVERYTHING I needed into my Lo & Sons O.G. Army Green Bag. Seriously.
You do like bananas don’t you? I certainly do. It’s pretty much one of the most perfect portable snacks you can find. I’ve been eating them since before I can remember. Literally. They pretty much fueled my way through my sports years as well. Yep, you might be surprised to know that I played basketball and volleyball. #25 baby. I loved playing sports. What I didn’t love, the energy drain and cramps during games. To work around that I would eat a banana at halftime and was good to go before long. Bananas are definitely nature’s original energy bar.
A few weeks ago I headed to the left coast to visit loverly Fresno. I was greeted at the airport by a celebrity. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. He’s pretty famous. THE California Raisin! As I was walking up I could hear I heard it through the grapevine playing in my head. I have to admit I was a little star struck. He was definitely my most favorite airport greeting. Hands down. I bet you’re wondering why I was in Fresno and why the CA Raisin was greeting me? Because I’m a rock star of course (okay maybe only in my head) Really, I am one of several CA Raising Blogger Ambassadors and I’m tickled purple about it.
Who doesn’t love cake? I LOVE cake. COULD eat it everyday. Sadly I’m not one of those people who are blessed with a faboosh metabolism. Shaking my fist. So everyday turns into once in a while. I can bake a pretty tasty cake but the decorating part I leave to the experts. Like one of my bff’s Susan. She can decorate a cake on her head blindfolded and it would look spectacular. Or maybe you’ve heard of this guy named Duff. He’s pretty good at it too.
Last week at the crack of dawn I boarded my first of three planes en route to Prince Edward Island (PEI) Canada. If you know me, you know I’m REALLY excited to make a trip if I wake up that early. Although I’ve traveled to many countries all over the world I had never visited Canada. I know eh? Did I mention I’m now fluent in French Canadian? Not true but fun to pretend. Even before landing, from the air you can see that Prince Edward Island is simply stunning. I was ready to see all that PEI had to offer and see I did.
I absolutely LOVE the entire process of cooking. I enjoy shopping for the perfect ingredients. I enjoy slicing, dicing, chopping, mincing, chiffonading – is that even a word? It’s totally therapeutic and way cheaper than a therapist. What I also love is seeing and learning where my food comes from. Luckily I’m able to visit farms and meet farmers on a fairly regular basis thanks to my job.
The beach is my happy place. I’ve always been in awe of the power and beauty of the ocean. I could sit on the beach for hours and hours just watching, listening and of course napping. Napping is inevitable. The ocean calms me. No matter how much chaos and craziness is in my life I feel calm beside the ocean. It’s as if takes all of my stress and washes it away with the tide. I need more beach time in my life. Plain and simple.
My name is Paula and I am a choco-holic. But you already knew that didn’t you? It’s no secret. I have been. All. My.Life. My sweet tooth is wicked. I’m surprised it’s not rotten to be honest. So what’s a girl with a wicked sweet tooth to do? Go to Hershey Park of course. I decided after attending the always amazing conference retreat, Big Summer Potluck, that a trip to Hershey Park was in order. The family and I loaded up and drove all the way to PA. Note to self avoid driving through Washington DC at all costs. Hello traffic nightmare.
Have I told you lately how much I love my job? I really do (well except for doing dishes but hey we can’t have it all right). Part of my job includes traveling. Tough right? Last week we jetted off to Seattle. Susan and I had big plans for the city, one of which included a swanky soiree we co-hosted Friday night.
I recently took a trip to Minneapolis Minnesota to visit General Mills HQ. Did you know that people in Minnesota have accents? Yes, quite funny coming from the girl with a BIG OL SOUTHERN accent I know. I absolutely LOVED it though and couldn’t get enough. It’s one of those accents where it just pops in and out on certain words (like ohhhhhhhhh and nooooooooooo) and just made me smile when I heard it! Oh here’s a tip, if you plan on ordering a soda be sure to ask for POP. My PSA of the day (because I’m always looking out for y’all).
I had the pleasure of spending last Wednesday- Friday in Monterey, California. I’d never been to this part of the country. I was expecting beautiful and it certainly delivered beauty. I was the guest of DOLE and there to attend their Dole Summit. Did you think of bananas first? Most people do but Dole happens to be the largest produce of fruits and VEGETABLES in the world. Their mission? To get more people to eat more fruits, vegetables and yes salads (something I know I need to do more of). I learned so much about their company and even fancy myself a lettuce connoisseur now.