Anders Ruff Workshop

Pineville and Davidson, NC

Disney Hacks

Stroller Edition

Adventure Air

Rock Hill, SC

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Halloween Boo-ing for your Neighborhood {FREE Download!}

Every year when the crisp air rolls in (that's going to happen any minute, right?) I can't help but feel anticipation as we fully embrace fall. The apple picking, the pumpkin spice everything filling the air - and of course, my favorite holiday - Halloween.

Our neighborhood is a great place to live, lots of young families who are always busy and bringing in the FUN. A few years ago our neighbors introduced me to the Halloween tradition of being BOO-ED.

The kids and I were getting ready to head up for bath and bed time when the door bell rang. We answered it to find a plastic pumpkin head filled with Halloween goodies and a print out with instructions on how to participate in the neighborhood BOO-ING.

It said "You've Been BOO-ED!" The kids were delighted at the idea that our neighborhood ghosts and goblins had chosen us to participate in this fun Halloween tradition. After the kids poured over their loot - halloween stickers, pumpkin pencils, glow-in the dark necklaces and plastic spider rings we posted the right hand side of the instruction sheet up on the front door "We've Been BOO-ED" to let our neighbors know that we'd been properly haunted.

Next we chose two neighborhood families to BOO, printed out two of the instruction sheets and hit the store. Each of my kids picked out a few halloween-themed items to add to our witches cauldrons. Went out just around dusk (not too late!), placed our filled cauldrons on the neighbor's stoop, rang their door bell and all ran off like we were ghosts!! 

The kids were laughing and squealing with excitement that they had just BOO-ED their friends - they thought we were SO stealthy! It's a fun neighborhood tradition, and it can easily start with yours! Just scroll down and print the instructions and you're well on your way to creating a new neighborhood holiday tradition. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Frozen on Ice Ticket Giveaway!

Comment on the Facebook or blog post to be entered to win 4 tickets for
The show on Thursday, October 5th at 7PM. Drawing will be on October 1st!

You can guarantee your little ones a night of fun when you Purchase Your Frozen Tickets Here!

The complete adventure of the Academy Award® winning tale will be told live for the first time in this production, capturing the dynamic of two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa. Anna, a girl with an extraordinary heart, embarks on an epic journey to find her sister, the magical Elsa, who is determined to remain secluded as she finally feels free to test the limits of her powers. Rugged mountain man Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven, the lovable and hilarious snowman Olaf and the mystical trolls help Anna along the way in this story about love conquering fear.  Audiences will get to sing along with such musical masterpieces as “Let it Go,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “Fixer Upper.” Frozen directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee add, “Seeing audiences around the world embrace Frozen has been the experience of a lifetime.  And to now have the chance to consult with the talented team at Feld Entertainment and watch their creation come to life on ice, is thrilling.” In Disney On Ice presents Frozen, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse take the audience through the magical story based in Arendelle, with special appearances by beloved Disney princesses and favorite characters from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story and Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, who come together to prove that true love is the greatest power of all.  Director Patty Vincent says, “Our goal is to showcase these heartwarming characters in a way that allows the audience to cheer and sing along throughout this emotional journey.”

Get your tickets here! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Amazon Groupon Coupons - Say That Three Times Fast

I've spent thousands of dollars from the comfort of my own bed. Well maybe not THOU$AND$, but my Amazon cart can get pretty weighty as I load it with evenly measured amounts of necessary house hold products and a some random mud/clay mask I read a blog about how to do an underarm detox with. It's called balance people, and I balance this Mom life from the comfort of my bra-free, feet up, happy place.

One cost saving win I've found to help me shave a few 💵 bills off of my cart 🛒 are Amazon Coupons from Groupon. Groupon offers free online coupons from all your favorite stores and products, and Amazon is my jam.

Check them out here

Girl, with all these clippers coupons you may save enough to even out the cost of that Veggiti that will totally entice the kids into finally eating the color green! #AddToCart #GreenIsNotPoison

Monday, July 10, 2017

No-Fee Disney Vacation Planning by Mom About Charlotte

I've been traveling to Disney World for 30 years. I love that mouse, and the life time of memories I've made there on vacation with friends, family and loved ones.

If you follow my blog you'll see I've written several Disney Touring and Planning posts, I've gotten so much positive feedback that I've decided to take the Disney plunge with Walts World Vacations. I'm now a certified travel agent specializing in all things Disney.

Disney World. Disneyland. Disney Cruises. Aulani. Adventures by Disney.

My services are FREE. How? Well, all Disney trips have an automatic commission structured into them (I didn't know this until recently!) whether you use a travel agent or not. My prices will be exactly the same as if you book online alone. When you book with me I'll keep an eye on promotions to see if I can help you take advantage of reduced pricing after you book, but before you vacation.

When you book with me you can enjoy my 30 years of experience, tips and suggestions. From traveling with my parents, to honeymooning with my husband, and family vacations with little ones and extended family - I've done Disney inside out.

With my services I will help you plan as little or as much as you'd like. I can help you choose and book your travel to Orlando, hotel, tickets, dining packages. I can book your fast passes and show you how to optimize your fast passes and touring plans so you experience a effortless, fun, memory-making vacation.

I'd love you to like my Facebook page, Lareina With Walts World Vacations, and you can learn about tips and upcoming promotions.

As with my blog - I don't recommend what I don't love. So you'll get honest suggestions, prompt friendly answers to your questions and all the tools you'll need to make your next trip extra magical.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Charlotte Showcase and Cool Down at Sea Life

One of my favorite things about living in Charlotte are all the family friendly choices for entertainment. So when my long time friend from New York Antoinett and her family came to visit the Queen City for the weekend I wanted to give her the ultimate showcase tour of Charlotte. I won't lie - I have ulterior motives and high hopes that once they allow the beauty of Charlotte to settle in they will join in the migration South!

I wanted to guide them through the beautiful parks, trails and festivals speckled across the Queen City,  but it was about 90 degrees in the shade, and they were looking for a more temperature-friendly option. One of my favorite places to bring company with young kids, especially when it's CLT-HOT is Sea Life in Concord. Not only is it perfectly air conditioned, they have over 5,000 creatures to visit and view in their 117,000 gallon ocean tank, plus Antoinett and I could get some shopping in at the Concord Mills Outlet Mall when we finished our aquatic adventure.

The colors and vibrancy of Sea Life makes you feel like you're stepping into a totally nautical world. Her 10 and 6-year-old loved the touch pool where they were able to explore sea stars and urchins hands-on. There were many oohs and ahhs as we walked through the Shoaling exhibit where thousands of Pilchards circled around us like a NASCAR race. It's quite a mesmerizing experience. 

My personal favorite is the sea horse exhibit, they seem so exotic and calming the way they glide and float across the tank.

Antoinett's son read every single informational post and her daughter enjoyed collecting badges throughout the exhibits with my kids.

I think the kid's favorite was the coral reef, this is where the ocean tanks stretch to the ceiling, and sharks and fish swim overhead as you walk through the middle of the coral reef. 

With the heat of summer and the fun of house guests, a trip to Sea Life is a great way to escape, enjoy and make memories all in a comfortable, educational and fun-filled aquatic setting. 

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and with Charlotte expecting the 90's it's a great opportunity to explore Sea Life!

Tuesdays are Toddler Tuesdays where you can break up the long summer weeks and save money. When you buy a full priced ($15 now) adult ticket you get one child ticket for FREE on Tuesdays. Additional children are $5 up to 5 kids. It's a great play date meet up spot!

For more information about Sea Life and stay up to date on special events you can visit their website here, check out their Facebook page here and follow them on Instagram here.

Sea Life provided passes to our families to facilitate this review, but as always, all opinions are my own. I only share what I love with my readers. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bar Menu Deals at Cheesecake Factory South Park

My boring shuffle from work to home was pleasantly interrupted last week. My girlfriend Shannon and I scheduled some much needed face-to-face time to catch up and experience the new bar menu deals at the Cheesecake Factory in South Park. Twist my arm Cheesecake Factory! Yes I'll enjoy delicious apps for $5.95 (normally $12) any Monday thru Friday from 4:00-6:00pm while I sip on martinis and laugh bar-side with one of my favorite ladies instead of sitting in traffic on 77!

We all know that the Cheesecake Factory is second to none in all things cheesecake, but what I hadn't expected was the flavor and variety of their $5.95 bar menu. It's not your average bar fare.

First we started out with the Korean fried cauliflower, a sweet and spicy take on our favorite white veggie.

My absolute favorite was the Avocado egg roll, they are crispy and savory avocado happiness.

If you enjoy a little bit of heat I recommend the crispy tempura dynamite shrimp.

For a more costal flare we tasted their crispy crab bites - who doesn't love crab cakes? They taste like vacation feels.

The most unique item we chose was the sweet corn tamale cakes - they were sweet with a hint of savor from the salsa verde.

I love mojitos, and Cheesecake Factory served up one which was perfectly muddled and refreshing.

They offer an extensive bar menu for $5.95 (4-6pm M-F) including fried macaroni and cheese, "Happy Hour" burger, foot long hot dog, factory nachos, Tex Mex egg rolls and more.

We ended our visit with to-go slices of mouth watering cheesecake for the hubbies who were home with the kiddos.

Shake up and enjoy your M-F afternoon with a stop to the Cheesecake Factory in South Park to get a great deal on their new bar menu.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Asheville Getaway - Soaked in Bliss at Shoji Spa, Lodge & Wellness

This parenting gig can be pretty scarce on indulgences - but a few weeks ago my husband and I partook in a weekend filled with many of our favorite things during a kid-free getaway to Asheville, NC. 

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have second thoughts about going, it's a LOT of planning and it was tugging at my heart strings to be away from the kids, especially our baby. However, every ounce of me was so thankful that we carved out this special time to be together. We were like giddy teenagers, smooching, laughing and walking hand in hand (because we weren't carrying anyone or holding little hands) along the unique streets of Asheville. 

We were invited to experience one of the most luxurious ways to warm up and chill on the side of a mountain at Shoji Spa, Lodge & Wellness Center. They offer private, scenic hot tubs nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

I was impressed with the cleanliness of the spa and the tub - everything was meticulously maintained and the staff was attentive and helpful as they led us to the dressing rooms to take a rain down shower prior to tubbing. We walked out of the dressing rooms donned in over-sized robes, sandals and towels. The spa attendants offered a fruit-infused cup of water as they gave us a tour of the grounds. We began our afternoon of relaxation in their cedar sauna. 

Next we were off to the main attraction. Doesn't this picture just say it all? It was B-L-I-S-S.

The hour of Shoji's hydrotherapy was exactly what we needed to soothe our parenting-weary bodies. Each muscle relaxed as we melted our stress away, encircled by nature and the gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We breathed deep, with the breeze in our hair as the quiet rolled over us throughout our long, hot soak. We finally had the time to connect and enjoy one another's company without a basket of laundry to fold or grocery list to compile. It was just silence - and him and me and nature, and the time to lay my head on his shoulder and reflect on all the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place. It was the time and presence we needed to give to each other because we give our kids, our families and our jobs so much. 

We left Shoji feeling more connected, relaxed, rejuvenated, recharged and ready to step back into the real world of adult-ing. It was a wonderful escape and we're already planning our return trip. 

Shoji Spa also offers a cold plunge pool, but I was so elated in my toasty warmness that I skipped taking the plunge. In addition to their renewing hot tubs Shoji Spa provides massage therapy, couples massage, lodging as well as hike and soak packages. 

You can check them out online here, on Facebook or on Instagram. Plus (my favorite) you can book your partner for a you and them weekend - then go online and book your package at Shoji Spa.

My awesome video skills are on display if you want to see more of Shoji's grounds here

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Disney Hacks: Saving Money $

Looking for NO-FEE Concierge Disney Vacation Planning? I'd love to chat with you about how to make your family's Disney Vacation (World, Land, Cruise, Aulani, Hilton Head, Adventures) seamless, fun (even for you Mom!) and full of life-long memories. Email me at Lareina@WaltsWorldVacations or on Facebook at Lareina with Walt's World Vacations.

By any measure a trip to Disney World is pricey. Here are some tips on how to save on your Disney Vacation before you book and while you're there. Follow my tips to help you #HackYourDisneyVacation.

1. We signed up for a Disney Visa credit card. They offer a $200 credit, but charge a $50 annual fee. This gave us a net $150 credit. We purchased our 4 annual passes using the Disney credit card and got about $75 in rewards for purchases at Disney. There are other perks including a special meet and greet for Visa card members. 

2. We bought night time items for the parades and to keep our group together. This is what we purchased on Amazon and were happy with the products. These really helped to keep track of the kids and join in the glowing fun of the night at the parks. 

3. We bought these kids thermoses and filled them with boiling water for 10 min (then discarded the water) and added hot mac n cheese, pasta or hot dogs (left those in the water after cooking them). The food was still piping hot and we saved a lot of money not having to purchase them lunches they may or may not eat - depending on their mood. It was also nice not to have to wait in lines for food when they were hungry. Disney has lots of silverware and condiments that you can use. My husband waited in line for our food while I set the kids up at a table and by the time they were set up and eating, he was back with our food. We saved about $20-25 a day doing this. We also brought many other snacks in our snack bags. 

4. Any counter service restaurant will give you a free cup of water, we brought water bottles and saved a lot of money on water. We also brought some bottles of cold and frozen water to have in a pinch and put them on our stroller. Read more about how we packed our stroller here.

5. Because we purchased annual passes we also received a discount of 10-20% at certain restaurants and shopping at Disney. Annual passes also included Disney Photo Pass, which we loved. 

6.  We did the Bippity Boppity Boutique, which is pricey - but we saved some $ by purchasing their dresses in advance. We told the kids that their fairy god mother delivered them, which added to the excitement of the day when they wake up. You can purchase them at the Disney Store on sale, online or second hand for cheap. Kids don't check for tags, so you'll be in the clear. 

Check out my other blogs on how to #HackYourDisneyVacation

Disney Hacks: The Stroller Edition

Disney Hacks: How to Pack a Disney Grab Bag

Disney Hacks - How to Pack a Disney Grab Bag

Looking for NO-FEE Concierge Disney Vacation Planning? I'd love to chat with you about how to make your family's Disney Vacation (World, Land, Cruise, Aulani, Hilton Head, Adventures) seamless, fun (even for you Mom!) and full of life-long memories. Email me at Lareina@WaltsWorldVacations or on Facebook at Lareina with Walt's World Vacations.

Knowing what you'll need to bring with you to the parks is essential to a good Disney vacation. Here is how to #HackYourDisneyVacation by packing the perfect Disney grab bag.

So there are many things you'll want to bring with you to the park, but only the essentials need to be in your grab bag if you're also bringing a stroller to hold your other less important items.

Leave with the stroller (see my blog for more info about how to select and pack the perfect stroller)
  • Ponchos, food and water bags, blanket, water fans, LED glow items
Pack in your Disney Grab Bag
  • Wallet with credit cards, license & cash
  • Magic Bands
  • 2 pairs of sunglasses for each person
  • Sunscreen
  • Bandaids
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment
  • Ibuprofen for kids and adults
  • Nail scissors 
  • Camcorder
  • Camera
  • Battery pack phone charger (you will ROLL though your phones battery in Disney)
  • Plug in phone charger
  • A change of clothes in plastic bags for each kid (this could also be left with the strollers)
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Bug Spray (especially with the Zika virus) 
  • Water bottle (I keep one with me at all times)
  • A dry snack (usually a snack bar) for each kid
  • Lip balm
  • Gum (they don't sell gum in Disney) or mints
  • bubbles (for waiting in line)
  • Games to play while waiting in line (uno, 5 second rule) 
No selfie sticks, costumes if you're over 12 or alcohol - they won't let you in the park with any of it!

Check out my other #HackYourDisneyVacation blog posts

Disney Hacks: Saving Money

Disney Hacks: The Stroller Edition 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Anders Ruff Workshop in Pineville & Davidson, NC

This mama is a level 10 goddess with a glue gun, but a nail gun? Not so much.... it gives me flash backs of the staple gun incident of 2005 (see this video for the embarrassing details). However, I do love honing my DIY skills and attending workshops. When the lovelies at Anders Ruff Workshop in Pineville, NC invited us to blog about one of their workshops I decided I'd have to leave my torrid staple gun history in the past and learn a cool new skill.

If you haven't checked out AR Workshop, you'll love what they're all about. In addition to creating useful and beautiful custom DIY masterpieces the ambiance is like stepping into a designer magazine.

The colors, the textures and the decor are all on trend. Their aesthetics woven with creativity and know-how provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable GNO, date night, party or just some YOU time.

I've been obsessed with all the projects I've been seeing on their Instagram, so choosing just one from all of their carefully selected options was hard! The ability to choose something that fit my home decor, while my cousin chose something that fit her home decor was one of my favorite things about the AR Workshop. We didn't all have to do the exact same project unless we wanted to.

I opted for the signature family established centerpiece box.

My cousin chose the monogram laurel wreath established plank wood sign. 

We saddled up to our benches to survey our wood, tools and pre-printed custom templates. Then we chose our stain and paint colors. We met Jeanette our table lead, who shared insider tips and helped us through each step of the project. If you are a super savvy with all things wood and power tools, or if you're a total newbie, the ladies at AR Workshop can adjust their instruction to make sure you're feeling confident and empowered to create something totally unique. 

Jeanette showed us how to use different tools and techniques to smooth then destress the wood. Next she guided us through staining, dry brushing and additional distressing with a hand sander. It was an interesting process to get hand-on-experience with. I already have another project at home that I plan to try wood distressing on with my new found knowledge. 

I received one-on-one instruction with the nail gun and was able to overcome my nervousness about using the power tool. My cousin and I laughed, distressed (in a wood-way) and enjoyed our conversation as we created our custom projects. We applied the customized template and technique to ensure that the letters didn't bleed outside of the lines. 

We did a tour around the workshop to see everyone's finished products, check out the Facebook LIVE video here. I was really excited about how my centerpiece box came out, it's going to be the perfect addition to our dining room table, and it's fun to tell people that lil 'ol me made it. 

To schedule your one-of-a-kind workshop experience with AR Workshop you can check out all their workshop locations and projects here. You can follow them on Facebook here and Instagram Pineville here and Instagram Davidson here. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Disney Hacks - Strollers

Looking for NO-FEE Concierge Disney Vacation Planning? I'd love to chat with you about how to make your family's Disney Vacation (World, Land, Cruise, Aulani, Hilton Head, Adventures) seamless, fun (even for you Mom!) and full of life-long memories. Email me at Lareina@WaltsWorldVacations or on Facebook at Lareina with Walt's World Vacations.

When you #DisneySoHard, your stroller is your royal carriage. After you've pushed the kids for seven miles in the Florida heat it can feel more like you're schlepping around a pumpkin on wheels if you haven't used my #DisneyHacks for selecting and loading your stroller like a #DisneyBoss. Check out my Disney Hacks series here to learn how to make your life easier and how to #HackYourDisneyVacation.

"Lareina, how many more double strollers do you really think we need to try?" questioned my Prince Charming as I scoured the stroller section during our third trip to the baby store, "They're all going to be the same."

"Ha! All the same?!" I retorted "There are double wides, double tandems, sit and stands and even a double tandem that looks like a bunk bed! Our kids need to be able to eat, recline and be comfy - all with good sun coverage. I need to have storage and the ability to hang food bags on it like it's heading up the Alps. I want it to be easy to maneuver through the crowds on a dime. I need to be able to add a third kid if our oldest gets too tired at the end of the night. I need to find the SUPERFECTA of double strollers for our year of Disney visits!"

Prince Charming gave me his somewhat amused "Riiiiight..." look. 

Then, I saw it. It was Epic. Magical. Tears of happiness streamed down my cheek as we loaded all three kids into the BOB Revolution Pro Duallie jogging stroller and maneuvered past the diaper section and around the the high chairs like WHAT - effortlessly! 

I had to pay for the BOB stroller, so this is NOT a paid ad. Nope, it's much more organic than that. I'm seriously #MomCrushing on this stroller, even at home walking through the neighborhood and at the mall. Through the vacation my Prince Charming, sister and my mom fell in love with it too. Especially when my sister was straining to maneuver her double stroller and I gave her that "I told you should have rented/borrowed/bought the BOB Revolution Pro Duallie" look and she shot me back her "Shut your face, ugh, I hate it when you're right" look. #HiveMind

Here is our Daddy sherpa pushing all three kids through Epcot after a long day in the park. 

Loading your stroller is equally as important to a successful day at Disney. You can check out my post about how to pack a #DisneyGrabBag here, and see which essentials I recommend toting to the park. Below I'll show how to load it on your stroller so it's easy to push and not top heavy and tipping. 

What I used on the stroller:
  • 2 mommy hooks
  • 2 16-can Igloo cooler totes
  • Back pack (see how to pack a #DisneyGrabBag blog here)
  • Flashing LED hanger (to help you find your stroller at night or stay together with a group)
  • Blanket (if there are any mornings or evenings that will be chilly)
  • Wipes holder
  • Hanging hand sanitizer
  • Extra carabiners attached with zip ties
  • Velcro mesh stroller bag

I attached the two mommy hooks on the frame of the stroller (not on the handle) under the fabric and pushed them toward the middle to evenly balance the weight on the stroller. 

I looped the cooler tote handles around the mommy hooks twice so they wouldn't hit the wheels. I also attached the velcro mesh stroller bag on the frame too. 

I filled the cooler bag with frozen water and the other with snacks. We either carried the back pack, rested it on the top of the stroller or put it in the triangle area near the front wheel. 

Underneath I used the stroller storage space to put our LED glow items for after dark, our stroller rain cover, our water fan/misters and our ponchos. 

One last thing, strollers can be stolen in Disney. I've yet to meet someone where this has happened, but I had spent a pretty penny on my BOB. I borrowed a Tile, which I attached in a non-viewable location on the stroller frame. This allowed me to GPS locate it from an app on my phone if it was taken (or if it got re-located by the stroller gods of Disney) and it gave me peace of mind. 

Check out my other #DisneyVacationHack blogs..

Have Disney questions? Want more info? Comment on the blog and I'll get back to you! Happy Disney planning!