Friday, August 14, 2015

Let's Chat...

Happy Friday! This summer is sailing along and it's hard to believe that September is around the corner! We've been in a full summer swing.... Our summer days have been filling themselves up at a rapid pace, which means we are having a lot of fun and definitely making the most of our time together. I, for one, want to savor every minute of it. Kiki is a great little traveler and she loves "adventures"! We've done a fair share of traveling, backyard adventures, but there are a few more things left on our summer fun list. 

This week I am finally home, off the plane, out of the airports and back to the office business and spending tons of time with Kiki.  We've been spending most of our time at the pool. This has been a breakthrough summer for Kiki and her swimming...she has become my little mermaid, no fear, no tears, just a lot of blue lips! This weekend will be very different for me because I am home for the first time in a very long time and Kiki is with her dad, so my list of things to-do and getting our home life in order is my priority...and strangely, I am looking forward it!

Here's what caught my attention this week...

Fulfilling my wanderlust!
I can not wait to see this movie...Bradley Cooper, cooking, sizzle, and all that heat!
Who would you like to have dinner with from this list of culinary celebrities?
What 30 well-known healthy people eat for breakfast every morning?
I am LOVING this memoir/cookbook from this family of food bloggers. I am totally obsessed with their gifted writing, storytelling and honesty of their rocky road.
How to create magazine worthy photos with your iPhone.
Yes, it takes a village to "have it all" - how do we achieve balance?!!
Tips on how to prioritize your to do list for the day.
No wonder I am so tired...I am doing too much multi-tasking. Four ways to retrain your brain when consumed with information overload.
Falling asleep might not be my problem, but staying asleep is a struggle. 
How to raise caring kids
I am not gonna lie, I am thinking of my next one...

What are you up to this weekend?
Whatever you end up doing, hope it's a great one!!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Most Magical Place in the World

Last weekend was a VERY big weekend for us… Kiki and I went to Disney for the first time (her first time)! 

For the last few weeks I've been prepping her by telling her we were going to a hotel. The Disney part was one big surprise and I could not wait to see her face once i told her where we were really going! When I finally did tell her...there was a big pause and her comment was "why do we have to go to a hotel to go to Disney when we have Disney store here by our house?". Obviously she didn't get the concept of the park...or maybe I didn't explain it to her correctly. Non the less, in a car we loaded and made a 4 hour drive to the most magical place in the world. Thankfully I made this trip with a very good friend of mine and her five year daughter. Everything with a friend is easier!

Since we were there only for a weekend, we decided to visit Magic Kingdom only...plenty to see and experience. Depending on when you go and what time you arrive, Magic Kingdom might be very busy. Your best bet is to plan out which rides and attractions are must-dos for you, and aim to do those first. Seeing Cinderella’s Castle in the distance from the start of Main Street, USA is just as magical a view for a toddler as it is for an adult. The Main Street exuberates magic! There was magic in the smallest of details...let me just say that Disney World is a well oiled (money making) machine! Not a detail was missed!

We did not stay on Disney property, but if you are staying in Disney for more than one day, I would highly recommend it, it’s worth it. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, which was absolutely charming, but I will leave that review for a separate post.

As soon as we got to the hotels, Kiki went to sleep, and I stayed up a bit setting up my wish list. Next morning we had a nice quiet protein breakfast at the hotel and headed to Magic Kingdom.

As soon as we got off the bus we went to pick up our tickets and our “Magical Bracelets”! Disney World was built around the concept of families. The magic bands provide such carefree Disney experience - with a little bit of magic, our bands were synched to my profile on the mydisney experience website and they hold all the information for your trip: hotel stay (if you are staying on property), tickets to the park, fast passes, dining reservations and even our credit card. Believe it or not, you don’t even need your wallet! I was pretty impressed. It was pure magic! They have made life as easy as possible for parents and fun for kids.

Kiki's favorite rides and huge success included the carousel (more than just one time), Dumbo the Flying Elephant and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin!

 "Under the Sea" - visiting Ariel at her Grotto and "It's a small world" ride.

She was in her element at the "Mad Tea Party" and could have gone again and again, but I was seeing stars by the end of the first ride...

Cinderella's Castle of course....and an adventure of the Swiss Family Treehouse

The next day we had a date with Chef Mickey for brunch! 

Here are a few tricks and tips on Disney experience with your toddler

  • The Disney App - make sure you download mydisney experience app to plan your trip. It offers a map, wait times, fast past selections, dining reservations, personal wish list. It really gets you (an adult into the Magic of Disney and you will feel better going in prepared).

  • Bring your stroller - a stroller in Disney is a must. I brought Kiki’s stroller, but you can always rent one as well. It's great for long days, naps, carrying all the snacks, all the toys you’ve bought and what's best there was supervised "stroller parking". It's a lot of walking even for grown-ups and unless you want to carry your 40lbs kid, give them a place to rest. Kiki took a beautiful hour long nap and she was like new for the second park of the experience.
  • Naps - Disney is overwhelming, a lot to take in, so count on meltdowns , encourage your child to take a didn't make sense to me to go back to hotel and take a nap, when I got a good walk around and she got a great nap and everyone was happy. This is where strollers are key. She was able to rest as I moved around the park and she had energy for the second part of our day.
  • Food - One of the great things about Disney Parks is they don’t blink twice about you bringing in your own food and drinks. That said, however, eating at Magic Kingdom is as junky or as healthy as you want to make it. The healthiest menu I found was at Pinocchio Village Haus (Fantasyland) and I actually enjoyed it. The kids’ meals come with carrots or grapes and milk, and if you would prefer a different (read: less healthy) side or drink you must specifically request that substitution.  Character dining is great fun but usually always must be booked in advance (sometimes MONTHS in advance), but we opted out of it since we had a date with Chef Mickey the next morning.
  • Snacks - bring snacks!!! Bring lots of snacks! Of course every corner is filled with snack options, but having your child's favorite is definitely a big help. I certainly overpacked on snacks but was thankful to have them at moments’ request. I packed a variety...Annie's gummy rabbits, go-go squeeze, organic fruit roll ups, veggie chips, sesame sticks, apples...
  • Toy purchases - We are definitely in the "I want, I want.." stage...she wants all the toys. So before we even got to the park, we made a pact/pinky swear that she will get one toy on the way out of the park. We agreed that she could look at all the toys during the day, pick her favorites and then at the end of the day we will purchase one toy. This worked magic...though it might have also sped up our exit out of the park because she was eager to get her new toy. We both kept our promises and bought one toy with no tears and no asking for more toys. She was overjoyed to get the Ariel doll! and I was overjoyed that there were no tears and negotiations! 
  • Saftey - Disney is busy, Disney is crowded and it takes a second to loose a sight of your child, so talk to them about safety before you get there. Make sure your child knows your name and not just mommy/daddy, make sure they know exactly what you are wearing and who they should talk to if they get lost. For a younger child or one with limited verbal skills, a basic ID tag with the child's name and your cell phone number will be a big help in case your child were to become separated from you at the parks.
  • Let them pick their rides - as a type A person this was a tough one for me, so I suggested the rides and then Kiki picked them. She was quite shy and timid and I let her choose her comfort level. I wanted her to experience it ALL, but after all, this trip was for her.
Besides being excited about our little getaway, I was more excited to share this experience with Kiki for the first time. Quick summary of our experience - I am glad I waited until she was four...she was very shy, timid at times, overwhelmed by everything. Even meeting Princesses and other Disney characters was too much for her. Though she's obsessed with Princesses, her favorite was Minnie Mouse character and she was going crazy looking for Daisy the whole time. Her favorite ride was the carousel and Aladdin's Magic Carpet! All in all...we will do it again...but not any time soon. Perhaps waiting a bit and her expressing the want to go will be my que. In a mean time, we will make a few extra visits to our local Disney store and the carousel that is a few blocks away from our house that seems to provide endless hours of joy and entertainment!

Until next time.....

Friday, July 10, 2015

Let's Chat

Hip, Hip Hooray, it's Friday!  Another crazy week behind us.  But I'm starting to wonder if maybe crazy weeks are just becoming our norm? I always look forward to things slowing down in summer, but for some reason this summer has been full speed onward...perhaps it's my inability to say "NO". Maybe my summer task should be learning to say no, slowing down, recharging and renewing.  Earlier this week I made a commitment to go to sleep at a reasonable hour one night a week [regardless of all the things that needed attention!] and it was blissful. Definitely improved my day. Tuesday: you’re now my “prioritize sleep” night. Let’s see how long I can make this last(!). But I have faith!

And on those sleepless nights I scoured the net and now sharing some of the  more "interesting" reads! Hope you have an amazing weekend!

1. How to focus, even when summertime distractions strike.
2. Wonder how our days would change if we started every morning with these 10 things? my favorite "SMILE"!
3. In search of should watch this!
4. I want to meditate, I really do! Maybe this is the secret?
5. This makes me want to vacation in Morocco this summer. 
6. Hope this makes you feel really good, working mom...
7. As a chronic over-apologizer, I really enjoyed this essay.  But now, let's stop apologizing so much, shall we!
8. I am doing something new...I've decided to make Sundays my most productive night of the week. 
9. Pure genius - Watermelon ice cubes...why have I never thought of this?
10. 10 Foodies who've made it happen on Instagram....Are you following?
11. My hero Ina shares her tips on how to run a business and do what you love. Oh, Barefoot Contessa, you can do no wrong!!! and have I mention how much I'd love to attend the Forbes Women's Summit?!! one day...

..have you read something lately that caught your attention?...Share your weekly reads in comments!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Day After...

Welcome back from the long holiday weekend! Was it a good one?  Hope you enjoyed yours as much as we did ours. Life lately has been a bit crazy to say the least, so having a few weekends in a row with Kiki was a pure delight. And having a long weekend together, well, that was like a cherry on top!

I think the Fourth of July weekend is one of my very favorite holidays of the year. Ours was packed with quality time together and with friends! Actually this weekend was the epitome of what summers should be all about...Backyard BBQ’s, swimming, breakfast in bed, brunch, watermelons by the water, raspberry popsicles, movie nights.... I wish every weekend was like this! In between all the pooling, swimming, BBQing and Fourth of July parading, I did a little bit of reading and lounging around on the's finally looking like the outdoor space I imagined it to to come as soon as the table arrives and completes the space!

So to sum up our weekend in photos....this was our view pretty much the whole weekend!

You probably won't believe when I tell you this, but I am cutting down on coffee... I have replaced one cup of coffee with a cup of green tea and feeling great....but this ice-coffee was out of this world. If you find yourself in Oakland Park area, the Alchemist is a place to won't regret it!

We entertained ourselves running through rainbows and jumping on our favorite colors...somehow all the colors were Kiki's favorite!

On Friday night, we ventured out to Miami Beach for a dinner party... My friend's home was one of the coolest places I've been to, it was like walking onto "Something's Gotta Give" movie set - an impeccable NYC meets Hamptons home with a view. And the food...oh my the food... simple, flavorful, refreshing and delicious! My hats off to the chef Ken!

Saturday, it was all about being patriotic! Kiki was very excited about the 4th of July especially after I explained to her that this holiday was America's birthday and fireworks were the candles, she couldn't get enough of it. If it was up to her, we would be still celebrating! And this was the first year she wasn't scared of the fireworks and she thoroughly enjoyed it!

Our 4th of July evening with friends was so much fun. We have been getting together with the same families on the Fourth of July for 3 years now. It’s such a special tradition and one that we hope will continue for years to come. 

These three ladies have known each other since they were only a few months old and suddenly they are looking so grown up. I know I am sounding like a cliche, but how is this possible?? Time is truly flying by!

Beautiful as always – my camera phone didn’t do it justice.

This photo sums up the weekend! Tanned skin, fireworks and waving an American flag. All signs of summer!
And this is pretty much how we spent the rest of our time...and I foresee this upcoming weekend with a bit of more of the same view! I don't mind it, the least!

After indulging in the most amazing and abundant brunch in town on Sunday at Made in Italy Gourmet, we chatted and discussed the important topics - kangaroo costumes, monkey butts, giraffe's long tongue, cheetah spots, etc....We left with our bellies and hearts full....Thankful for the friends whom I can call family!

By the end of the weekend I was too exhausted to cook, but I knew a very long Monday was waiting for us, and we needed our veggies, protein and carbs to balance out all the sweets. Powered by laziness, I got a bit creative...a one pan wonder - honey garlic chicken and veggies.  Tender, juicy chicken breasts baked to perfection with potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli. All cooked on a single pan! EASY! and Kiki approved!

We were dragging this morning, though. But it was a good tired. The kind where you feel exhausted but thankful for such a fun time. I hope you’re like me and took in every minute of the time and enjoyed the long evenings and early mornings of each day this holiday weekend. And now begins another week! Hoping my productivity level skyrockets tomorrow! Cheers to a fulfilling weekend and productive week! let's do it again!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Let's Chat

Happy Friday my friends!  I feel like a broken record when I say that life is crazy and we’re in the middle of a storm every week- but it’s true! Around Tuesday, I felt like I was in the middle of a cyclone!  Yup, one of those!  Do you know what I’m talking about- the days where you feel like you’re just spinning and getting tossed about and wondering where you’re going to land?  Well, that’s me over here - or over there, WHO KNOWS?!  HA! Anyway, I intend to forget about the cyclone this weekend and soak in my time with Kiki. Originally we had no plans, just kind of go with the flow, but last night she announced her plans for us and a few things came we will be doing some BBQ with friends, a little bit of shopping [Kiki needs new shoes. I feel like she needs new shoes every other week, she's worse than me, but she keeps growing them out] a movie party and  hopefully practicing our swimming skills. What are you all up to this weekend?

A little round up of the "interesting" things I've come across this week and thought I'd share....

1. I am beyond intrigued by this man!!!! To hear him speak in person only once...that's all I want!

2. Recently someone asked me about my political orientation...and I had to quote Elon... "I'm somewhere in the middle, socially liberal and fiscally conservative."

3. Six things the most productive people do every day. "Winging it" isn't one of them.

4. Ten tricks to appear smarter in meetings...oh yes, I am funny!

5. Patience is not my virtue...and now there is a proof that I am just efficient!

6. I never felt guilty about choosing to work...then again, I don't feel guilty about much at all. 

7. Sure, I live where others vacation, but I am in a desperate need of a beach vacation

8. A good read and reminder that this is what happens when you sloooow down

9. Moms, this one is for you!

10. This recipe combines two of my favorite things – Brussels sprouts and marcona almonds.  (Random, I know.  But I love them both.)

11. She's just like us! Even Ina gets nervous 15 minutes before a party. These are her best party tips. 

12. It's time to pass the whisk with great tips of how to get your mini-me to help cook in the kitchen.