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Celebrating 12 Years Blogging!



Last Build Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:21:39 +0000

 



VIP Tips for Staying at Animal Kingdom's Lodge

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:43:00 +0000

Guests can step into the heart of Africa at the magnificent Walt Disney World deluxe resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge in Orlando, Florida. Its horseshoe-curved design provides spectacular views of four lush savannas that over 200 hoofed animals and birds call home including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, kudu and flamingos.Families can experience an African safari adventure with a touch of Disney magic right from their hotel room. As expected, it's pure magic staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. I've always wanted to go and finally my boys and I stayed at the infamous hotel. Here are some VIP tips to making your stay even more magical.Savanna View guest room balcony - pack binoculars! VIP Tips for Staying at Animal Kingdom's Lodge Pick the Village that's Best for You - Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has two villages, Kidani and Jamba House (the main resort). The main lodge has a larger lobby and more activities and dining options, but it's also more crowded. At first, I was bummed we weren't at Jamba House, but soon welcomed the more peaceful Kidani side more. Plus, as a hotel guest, you can easily access both villages via a free shuttle van, which we never had to wait more than five minutes for.Savanna View Rooms Are Amazing, but Optional- If you're able to reserve and pay the extra cost for a Savanna View Room with private balconies overlooking exotic animals, definitely go for it. However, you don’t need a Savanna View room to enjoy the up-close animal sightings. There are several areas on the second floor of the resort near the lobby where you can view animals. They contain rocking chairs and offer views from a little higher up, which is often better for picture taking. There are also several floor-to-ceiling windows in the hallways leading to all the guest rooms. My kids had to stop at nearly all of them! Jamba House also has a flamingo area near the pool.Savanna views from the hallwaysPack kid binoculars to make spotting the animals outside the hotel even more interactive. Although most of the animals can be viewed easily without them, my kids enjoyed feeling like actual explorers. We ordered GeoSafari Kidnoculars, which are reasonably priced and easy for toddlers to use too. You may also want to back a more sophisticated, grown-up pair for the adults in the room too - binoculars for adults. frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B00B1Z6EPS&asins=B00B1Z6EPS&linkId=14bb60b49d6c808adf6e44735ba308f8&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;">Take in the animals at night too! - It might be time to go to sleep, but that's also when the more nocturnal animals come out. Luckily, the Savannas are given a moonlight glow for evening observing too. Look for hidden Simbas - Disney fans are trained to look for hidden Mickey's throughout the parks and resorts, but here be sure and keep your eye out for hidden Simbas too! We spotted one on our headboard and in the tile of our bathroom.VIP Experiences Can Be Booked for Even More Animal Magic -Dine with an Animal Specialist while enjoying a 4-course lunch at Sanaa restaurant in Kidani Village. Take the Wanyama Safari private tour,  where you can explore the savanna at the lodge and enjoy a fine dining, multi-course meal at Jiko, and even roast marshmallows when the sun goes down at the Jambo House Campfire! This experience features a ride in a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna. Available for $209 per Guest. Be sure to reserve this popular experience in advance—up to 180 days prior to your visit! Guests must be 10 years of age and older to participate in the Wanyama Safari and Dinner though. Jiko Wine Tasting Explore South Africa’s distinguished varietals while[...]



Winning Halloween with AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 19:17:00 +0000

It's no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Lucky for me, I live on a street that takes the holiday serious as well. People decorate over-the-top like at Christmas time. We're definitely among the ones that go all out with lights, blow-ups and homemade decorations. This year though, we are really bringing it thanks to the AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit, the home decorating effects company that pioneers the art of digital decorating.With this easy to install device, we can project a zombie apocalypse or singing jack-o-lanterns on to our windows. And believe me, these animated digital effects cause everyone to stop and take another look. While I love some of their really creepy options, we are displaying the singing pumpkin scenes since it's not as scary for our preschoolers. Although on Halloween night, once my twins are in bed, I think we'll switch it to the psycho with a hook one or the creepy haunted twins.The kit includes a projector, screen, tripod stand, remote and 14 pre-loaded scenes on an SD Card including Christmas graphics too, so we'll be using it then too. You could also use the same projector to play your own videos and movies. I was really surprised at how easy it was to install, especially considering the high-quality end result that it creates. Simply plug in, hang the included screen and follow the prompts on the screen to project your desired decoration. Wifi isn't needed and there are timer settings you can use too. frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B073L258BV&asins=B073L258BV&linkId=fc4ea888f60c2be09f0917019d3be79e&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"> frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B012Y1V8EY&asins=B012Y1V8EY&linkId=ccade9c662b98f86a5a181dfa9c678bb&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"> frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B00C7WEAAK&asins=B00C7WEAAK&linkId=657034ff9eb832d62ea745a8287a72b9&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;">If you already have a projector, AtmosFX also sells the different looped visuals separately, which you could then load onto a USB drive or play through a computer, etc. For $19.99 you can pick a theme and get several interactive scenes or purchase them individually for $5.99 each. They are constantly doing updated scenes each season so I can see myself downloading new packs too. You can also order the different gear like a screen or projector separately too through their site.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JLlM_yjoFWE?rel=0" width="560">Disclaimer: I received the AtmosFX unit complimentary for my honest review and opinions -- and as mentioned it rocks! [...]



What I learned from Irma

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 21:17:00 +0000

The hurricane that is and not my husband’s aunt Irma.As I watched the eye of the storm go over Naples and our community on CNN these are some of the lessons learned from my first hurricane since living in Florida.Get the hell out! Better safe than sorry. I wanted to stay, but Raphael talked me into leaving the Wednesday prior. Keep in mind though at that time all the models were still saying Irma was going to hit the East Coast of Florida, which brings me to my next lesson learned. Models don’t mean shit and meteorologists can guess all they want, but mother nature doesn’t watch the news or take in account the European model vs. the American model, it is going to do what it wants to do. It also keeps changing. Although ... it seems the European model is more accurate than all the other spaghetti lines that were being drawn on the map of Florida. Pack more. You can replace everything but your family and pets. However, since I was dragging my feet when I left, I only brought with us some of my finest pieces of jewelry and minimal clothes. I put our important documents in a ziplock, packed my boys’ clothes, blankets and that was it. I had time though, I should have planned for being gone more than just four days, which we were! Power was off for several days so we weren’t in a rush to head back, plus traffic and gas shortages kept us away longer than expected. Thus, I should have packed smarter, better and for non-Florida weather too. Duh! As we got further away from our home I’d think of something else that was important to me that I didn’t better protect. Like the photo album of my dad and sister, which I haven’t digitized yet. We had room in the van too. Get gas! Fill even the car you’re not taking with gas, so when you get back you’ll have enough until supplies are replenished in your area. Fill up extra gas canisters with fuel too. It’s a shame we are still so dependent on the damn stuff, but we all are! Charge your Kindle so you can have hundreds of books on one device and can still read once all the lights are off. Nothing like escapism. I read the entire Castles Ever After trilogy by Tessa Dare on a single charge with battery to spare. Water is essential. Fill your tubs with water in case the water supply is turned off. We prepared for this but didn’t end up needing it. Power up every battery pack and power brick ahead of time. Fortunately, we did this. Would totally recommend a Mophie case and Pocket Juice. Leave at the right time. Although I’m glad we evacuated even before it became mandatory, I would have preferred to have left closer to the storm's actual date, because after the storm we still couldn't return for several days due to traffic and gas shortages. Leaving sooner was also more costly since it required additional days in a hotel. We also drove through the night instead of the day for less traffic, which seemed to help, plus that meant more time that our kids slept through our total 35hr journey and fewer "are we there yets?" Keep your blessings to yourself. While I do indeed feel thankful that our house was only minimally affected, not everyone was so lucky. So does that make those that suffered more not blessed? You know what I mean? So keep social posts of celebration to a minimum and maybe leave God out of it. Don't overpack your freezer or be better about eating frozen items.  I'm all about Publix BOGO's and freezing the other item. We even have an extra freezer in our garage. It made me ill having to throw it all away when we got back home since we were several days without power. Any other hurricane tips?  My boys appear here in this video I did about the evacuation:  allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhelloswfl%2Fvideos%2F1873494429645498%2F&show_text=0&width=560" style="border: none[...]



Travel Essentials for Bloggers

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 13:32:00 +0000

Between blogging here, attending conferences, writing for HuffPost Travel and TravelingMom.com, I obviously find myself traveling quite a bit. Yet, no matter the destination I pack the same essential items.Best Travel Gadgets and AccessoriesBetween using Maps' location services and sharing live updates on SnapChat and Instagram Stories, even a fully charged cell phone is practically dead by midday if not sooner. So, when I travel even my phone gets a new look. Instead of having an external battery bank and worrying about carrying around extra cords in your purse or backpack, I just swap out my regular phone case for a Mophie Juice Pack Battery Case in the uber chic Rose Gold, but they have colors too. I've had other battery cases in the past that were overly bulky and hard to open, but the new iPhone 7 Mophie one is lightweight, sleeker and easy to put on and off.Chargers, chargers and more chargers. Traveling can be rough on cords and cables, especially iPhone cables, which is why I stopped using the standard charger that comes with a device for a more durable one that won't fray, break or stop working while traveling. Kanex Apple Certified Premium Lightning to USB Cable in Rose Gold is my favorite. This premium metal material cable is built to last. It's durable yet flexible and will never fray and never tangle. It also looks really sleek and can help your cable easily stand out from othersA good book, or 100! I always make sure my Kindle Paperwhite is charged and loaded with e-books the night before I leave. While I love taking a book, I hate finishing it mid-trip and having it take up weight and space in my bag. With a Kindle at least it's lightweight, can hold up to several books, including travel guides and with the built-in light, so I can read on the plane without turning on that bright overhead spotlight. frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B01N1JKVIX&asins=B01N1JKVIX&linkId=49a3bb40e52540e5e2c3b03a6c83749c&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"> frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B01DM8PVS2&asins=B01DM8PVS2&linkId=9200bb378f2b797ec55555daeebe4487&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"> frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="https://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B01BFIBRIE&asins=B01BFIBRIE&linkId=9e83834871166c41491695524b026380&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; text-align: left; width: 120px;">Best Clothing and Gear for Travel Fabletics tights & Sanuk sandalsFabletics Savina tights. I get so many compliments on their peek-a-boo, not your typical yoga pants. They keep me warm on the plane, yet not too hot either. Better yet, you can get two leggings for just $24 here!My favorite shoes for travel are Sanuk Sandals, which are made from yoga mats. They look nice, feel great and are affordable too. I own 3 pairs! My feet have never blistered or hurt from these and I've walked miles in them. And don't just take my word for it, on my last press trip two other travel bloggers were wearing them to[...]



Tips & Secrets to Visit Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 23:29:00 +0000

Pandora – The World of Avatar immerses guests in a mystical world of massive floating mountains and breathtaking rides in the entirely new land found in Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.It's the largest addition in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Pandora carries on the park’s tradition of celebrating the intrinsic value of nature, transformation through adventure and a personal call to action.Based on Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron’s record-breaking box-office hit, AVATAR, the new land welcomes guests to the lush world of Pandora long after the human conflict with the Na’vi has ended.Besides the beauty of the imagined alien world come to life, the highlight is the thrilling new ride, Avatar Flight of Passage, where you can soar over Pandora on the back of a fearsome mountain banshee. It's an amazing 4D ride that really transports all of your senses. It's not a roller coaster, but more like Soarin, but taken up 100 notches. allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ftarametblog%2Fvideos%2F10154784654009677%2F&show_text=0&width=560" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" width="560"> 11 Tips & Secrets for Visiting Pandora at Disney's Animal KingdomThe new quick-serve dining option at Satu’li Canteen offers healthy and tasty options like wood-grilled chicken over rice. You pick your protein and then select your base and your sauce. There are kids meal options too. The outside area is thankfully covered providing shade and inside has lots of tables too. I really liked the sustainability aspect with meals being served on real plates and silverware, which are then collected in bins near the garbages and washed and used again.Order Your Meal on Your Phone Avoid the line to order and place your order using the My Disney Experience app on your mobile device. There is a separate line to pick up your mobile order.Alcoholic beverages are served at  Satu’li Canteen too including wine. Order the green beer called "Hawkes Grog," which is definitely Instagram worthy! So is the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mouse for dessert.Hawkes Grog - Green AlePongu Pongu is a drink stand selling colorful drinks. Meaning “Party Party” in the language of the Na’vi, Pongu Pongu welcomes weary travelers to quench their thirst with "bioluminescent" frozen cocktail, indigenous beers and snacks you won’t find elsewhere.The Na’vi River Journey boat ride is great for kids of all ages and there's no height limit, so perfect for little ones. I'd also recommend saving this ride for the middle of the afternoon when it's hot and you're tired because you can sit down and it's nice and cool -- a great way to recharge.Ride Avatar Flight of Passage WITHOUT a FastPass+ Although traveling to the front of the line is convenient, you will, unfortunately, miss a really amazing queue and won't see an incredible looking Avatar floating in hibernation. So, do ride Stand By at least once.Avatar seen while in the standby lineRub the large "Flaska Reclinata" interactive plant near the entrance of Pandora and it will spray a water mist on those walking by.Also, look for the Na’vi-built drum circle, containing instruments and drums playable by all for interactive play for kids with no lines. It's located in the middle before you walk underneath the floating rocks.Be sure and visit Pandora at night too. The grounds and plants light up with bioluminescent lighting. It's a whole different experience and worth checking out.Speak with tour guides from Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) and scientists from the Pandora Conservation Initiative (PCI), or even an eclectic expat or two! These cast members know all there is to know about Pandora!There are brand-new Wilderness Explorers challe[...]



Gift Guide for the Dapper Man

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 01:00:00 +0000

I've done the gag gifts, the romantic ones, but now that we're a little older like fine wine, I'm opting for a more refined gift giving this year.Your guy will love these fashionable and tech-friendly finds to spruce up their professional life -- affordable little splurges they wouldn't get themselves.Lapel Pin - Who says you can't buy your guy flowers on Valentine's Day? Truly unique, I love this microfiber flower pin from Sprezza, which spruces up a tired jacket and also works as a conversational piece too. I first spotted this attractive statement accent on my Instagram feed and especially adored how these two dapper guys boldly wore it (one, two). Best of all, it's only $12! Available in black, red, or gray. I Sprezza Box - Fashion delivered for men! A subscription box curated by Sprezza's personal stylists will bring Valentine's Day joy to your man every month and will keep him looking sharp and trendy. Effortless Style for just $28 a month. Each box is guaranteed to have over $100 in value with 5-6 fashion and lifestyle products, so you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. You can pay upfront $300 for the entire year and save $36  or pay monthly and cancel anytime. Everything sent is his to keep!Cord Keeper - This 3-pack of black/beige/grey leather cord keepers keeps your cords neat and stylish. Perfect for travel and work. $9.99.Echo Dot - Alexa is the only woman I don't mind my husband talking to each morning ;) We are obsessed with our Dot. We have it in our bedroom and we'll tell it to play NPR in the mornings, provide us updates on the weather, give us a flash briefing of the day's news and even play little kid music for our boys. I'm saving up to get another one for my office too and have a feeling my husband wouldn't mind receiving one for his either. $49.99.Wooden Bow Ties - Yes, bow ties and neck ties made out of wood! My husband came back from Vegas purporting that men at the convention he attended were donning them and that they were getting a lot of positive attention for it. Definitely a conversation starter and great for the rugged gentleman in your life. $14.99 and up.  frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B01DFKC2SO&asins=B01DFKC2SO&linkId=5009d17c2af63ba2ea6a15bb643af417&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"> frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B01I821YGA&asins=B01I821YGA&linkId=14a9b1ba83fa694381c00bba60e6cfd6&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"> frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=tarablog-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=B01B5AAP08&asins=B01B5AAP08&linkId=518f0d452d58a708d909593abb4f5a5b&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;">[...]