Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thank A Soldier This Christmas Season

afghanistan ornament

I posted this photo and the below comment in my instagram feed the other day. Because it stands to be said over and over again, I'm posting it here on my blog, too. It's my prayer that our fallen soldiers are never forgotten...especially not Andrew "Hutch" Hutchins. 

Each time I've walked past my Christmas tree this morning I've glanced at this ornament. I bought it when we lived in Ft Campbell, when my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. I never want to forget his service to our country. I'm so proud of him. 

This year, though, it hit me that this was also the Christmas {2010} that one soldier, Andrew "Hutch" Hutchins, not only wasn't home with his family, but he wouldn't be with them for any other Christmas. His wife and unborn daughter would never get to sit around the Christmas tree with him. His parents would never get to see the joy on his face as he opened his presents from them. His brothers would never get to play whatever new video games they got for Christmas with him. 

I have no idea why this popped into my mind today when I saw this one ornament. I've pulled it out and put it on the tree for 4 years now. Maybe it's because his family has become our family and they mean so very much to us. Maybe it's because I never want anyone to forget Hutch. He meant so much to my husband, they became like brothers while they served together. Whatever the reason, I'll say this...thank a soldier. When you see them out as you're shopping, thank them. Thank a military family. Some of them are missing their soldiers during this Christmas season.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fun Spot America in Kissimmee, FL {Lives up to It's Name}

I was provided accommodations, theme park admission and tickets to local attractions in exchange for my feedback. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you, Experience Kissimmee!


Snowy Holiday in Kissimmee, FL

If you're looking for a FUN family outing for all ages, I've got a great day trip idea for you! Located right in Central Florida, the heart of the Sunshine State, is an amazing attraction FILLED with thrilling rides, arcade games and tasty treats galore.

While in Kissimmee, FL a couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to Fun Spot America and spending the day with new friends and all of the friendly staff. As soon as we met Lola, Fun Spot's Promotions Director, we were told of all of the high standards and expectations of their Amusement Park. I knew after meeting her, we were somewhere that was Top Notch. I knew we were in for an exciting day!

Map of Fun Spot America in Kissimmee, FL

As soon as you pull into the parking lot, the first thing you notice is the Sky Coaster. How could you not? At 300 feet tall, Fun Spot America's Sky Coaster is the tallest in the WORLD. That's right, IN THE WORLD!!

World's Highest Sky Coaster in Kissimmee, FL

Guess who rode the Tallest Sky Coaster in the WORLD? You guessed it! Jonah and myself, along with our new friend, Marisa of Adventures of Tampa Mama, braved the more than 120 foot free-fall together. {It was windy that day, so we were told that our free-fall was more like 140 feet...but, who's counting?! LOL}

The experience of being hoisted 300 feet into the air, pulling the ripcord and then plunging toward Earth was exhilarating! It was INCREDIBLE! I truly cannot describe it. It was unlike anything else I have ever done before. And to experience it with my son and a new friend makes it even more special. Since the height requirement is only 42", the whole family can ride!! 

We Survived the Sky Coaster

Watch a video of our entire Sky Coaster experience here:


That's not nearly all there is to do at Fun Spot America! With more than TWENTY rides to choose from, we were in for a treat! First, we rode Go-Karts on tracks that are so unique they have patents. Patents, y'all! There are four Go-Kart tracks to choose from. The Vortex Track is 4 stories high and features the world's steepest banking curve at 32 degrees. When you come over that embankment you feel the drop. It's such a thrill! 

GO Karts at Fun Spot in Kissimmee, FL

Jonah and I said more than once that we would love for the rest of our family to be here. The go-karts, the Sky Coaster, the Hot Seat, the Screaming Eagle and so many more rides would make the perfect day of fun for our rowdy bunch! Did I mention the yummy snacks? Our favorite snack stop of the day was to the Dippin' Dot stand. We LOVE Dippin' Dots!

Screaming Eagle at Fun Spot America

Rockstar Coaster at Fun Spot Kissimmee, FL
{photo credit: Adventures of Tampa Mama}

Hot Seat Thrill Ride at Fun Spot America in Kissimmee, FL

Hot Seat at Fun Spot America in Kissimmee, FL
{Selfie's were totally invented while the inventor was on a thrill ride. Look at Marisa and I having way too much fun on the Hot Seat!}

Fun Spot America Entrance

Fun Spot America Big Wheel

Fun Spot America Big Fun Monster Truck

Fun Spot America in Kissimmee, FL
{Rochelle, one of our hostesses from Experience Kissimmee joined the boys inside the Monster Truck tire. We had two of the VERY BEST hostesses in Kissimmee!!! Thank you, Rochelle and Nori!}
So, next time you're in Kissimmee {Orlando area}, take a break from the theme parks and go spend a day in Fun Spot America. You won't be sorry that you did!

Be sure to follow Fun Spot America on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for special promotions and deals. 

Win a Snowy Holiday of your own from Experience Kissimmee by either texting "snow" to 82257 or going to SnowyHoliday.com. The prize is a 3-day, 2-night stay at a Kissimmee destination resort, theme park admission and tickets to local attractions for the winner and three guests.



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Craft Ideas from ME and @BlissfullyD!

Over the next couple of weeks I'll have quite a few Christmas craft posts popping up over at Blissfully Domestic. If you aren't already signed up for our newsletter, go here now. You won't miss a single craft idea, recipe or fashion tip with that weekly update. If newsletters aren't your thing, check back daily. We are working hard to bring you fresh new articles and ideas every day!

Without further ado, I present you with my newest Blissfully Domestic content {click link below photo to be redirected}:

holiday wreaths that dazzle slider

christmas ornaments you can make with your kids slider
Christmas Ornaments You Can Make with Your Kids

PicMonkey Collage
12 Days Christmas Crafts for Kids

Which craft is your favorite? The felt Christmas tree and Olaf footprint are my favorites! These are must-do crafts this year! If you make any of the above ideas PLEASE tag me, @jonahbonah, on Instagram so I can see your fabulous creations! Remember, check back often for more fun ideas! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Unique Gift Ideas from Heart of Haiti and Macy's

Last year I shared with you Macy's Heart of Haiti project. It's an initiative that gives men and women in Haiti an opportunity to share their talents with the world, and make money to support their families while doing so. I love that we, in America, can have unique items made by such talented individuals, that we may not have otherwise come in contact with.

This year is the five-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. I'm flattered to be part of on the amazing efforts of Heart of Haiti and Macy's.

A couple of months ago I was in Atlanta for the Type-A Parent Conference and bumped into, again, the Everywhere Society. {It's always nice to see familiar faces at conferences.} When I saw the new line of products coming from the artisans in Haiti, I knew I wanted to again get involved in spreading the word! Take a look at a handful of what I was able to see:

heart of haiti products

It's all so beautiful, right? Would you believe that the Sunflower frame is made of hammered oil drums and the Catch-All Bowl is made from tobacco leaves? Amazing stuff!

I partnered with Heart of Haiti and Everywhere Society to share with you the Metal Waves Texture Tray. It's absolutely stunning. Handcrafted with an intriguing wave motif along the border, this nature-inspired tray recalls the lush and beautiful Caribbean coast that inspires so many Haitian artists.


Heart of Haiti Hammered Metal Tray

The best part about each of Heart of Haiti's pieces, exclusively sold at Macy's, is the partnership between the two. 50% of each item sold is given right back to the artisan. In a country that is less fortunate than the United States of America, this is a big deal! When you make a purchase of a Heart of Haiti handcrafted item, think of it as putting food in the mouths of father, mother and child or providing a roof over a newborn child's tiny head. "The people of Haiti aren't looking for a handout, they are looking for a business relationship", as told by Bill Hawthorne, Senior Vice President of Macy's. You can bet that Haitians aren't throwing their money away on fast food or the latest Blu-Ray release. Buy in confidence. Know that YOU are giving back.



I absolutely LOVE my new Heart of Haiti Metal Waves Texture Tray, but my favorite part is that the artists name is hammered into it, as well. Now, whenever I look at my tray I can be reminded of the good life that he/she now has because of the collaboration between Macy's and Haiti Artisans!

Heart of Haiti Hammered Metal Tray


If you're looking for a unique gift for someone who has everything, go check out Heart of Haiti items at Macy's stores or on Macys.com. Prices start at only $9.99!

Thank you, Everywhere Society for providing me this Heart of Haiti Metal Waves Tray for review. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Idina Menzel's Holiday Wishes {an Album Review}

I participated in the Idina Menzel Holiday Wishes album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review, but all opinions are my own.

Today while the kids played and I made my grocery list for the things I needed for Thanksgiving dinner {Procrastinate is my middle name}, I listened to Idina Menzel's newest album, Holiday Wishes. You know her. She's the uber talented gal that sang Let It Go for a small film named Frozen. Maybe you've heard of it? I kid...of course, you've heard of it. It's only the highest grossing animated film of all time! Of. All. Time.

One could say that Idina is Queen Elsa in the flesh. I'll totally be selling this album to my daughter as "Elsa's Christmas Music!" She's going to love the upbeat songs and she'll even recognize When You WIsh Upon A Star. This album is one you can keep on repeat throughout the Holidays!

One of my favorites from Idina Menzel's Holiday Wishes is Baby It's Cold Outside. She and Michael Buble sing a duet. The best part about the video is that it's lip synced by two talented, dancing kids and Idina and Michael sing the song. Watch it and see for yourself.


Have you started listening to Christmas music yet? You can get your own copy of Idina Menzel's Holiday Wishes at Amazon or iTunes today!

About Idina Menzel and Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes, a Christmas album recorded by Tony Award-winning singer/actor Idina Menzel, is out now on Warner Bros. Records.
 
The album was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey) and features such classic favorites as “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” as well as Joni Mitchell’s Christmas-themed “River,” one of Menzel’s favorites.
 
Another highlight is a duet with international superstar Michael BublĂ© on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” An exclusive Target edition ofHoliday Wishes features two bonus tracks, including “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”.
 
Idina’s career has traversed stage, film, television, and music. She was most recently heard as Elsa in Disney’s global box-office smash Frozen, in which she sings the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.” After her performance of the multi-platinum song at the 86th annual Academy Awards, she made history as the first person with both a Billboard Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting.

Idina currently stars as Elizabeth in the original Broadway production of If/Then.

I can't wait to hear what YOU think of Idina's newest album!

Snowy Holiday Fun in Kissimmee, FL at the Gaylord Palms

I was provided accommodations, theme park admission and tickets to local attractions in exchange for my feedback. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you, Experience Kissimmee!

One of the amazing perks to living in Florida is all of the fun attractions and events that surround us. Within just a couple of hours, we can be right in the middle of Gainseville, Daytona or Tallahassee. A favorite of my family's, though, is Kissimmee, Florida. There's so much to do and see in Kissimmee...especially during the Holidays!

Recently, Jonah and I had the privilege of experiencing Kissimmee and quite a few of it's popular Holiday attractions. Over the next few days I'm going to share our Snowy Holiday travels with you. If you're looking for some incredible attractions and events to go to and make memories with your family, you'll want to be checking back often! I'll be sharing stories from Disney, Sea World and also from places you may have never heard of like, U Can Cook and Fun Spot...and boy, do I have stories to tell! Jonah and I had more fun in four days in Kissimmee, FL than we've had together in years!

The first stop on our Snowy Holiday Adventure was Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. We were there to enjoy dinner at Sunset Sam's, watch a preview of The Nutcracker by the Orlando Ballet, see a performance by Luminescence, feel the wind in our hair as we rode Snow Tubes at Alpine Rush and set our eyes on breath-taking displays of ice sculptures at ICE! featuring The Nutcracker. You could say we were in for a very eventful evening of {very COLD} fun!


mcogp_christmas_phototour08
photo credit
Gaylord Palms features three historic locations in Florida within their beautiful indoor atriums: St. Augustine, Key West and the Everglades. You can also see South Beach featured at the Quiet Adult Pool. In the photo above you see St. Augustine's Castillo De San Marcos.


Key West at Gaylord Palms

Sunset Sam's Fish Camp at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, FL

Sunset Sam's in Gaylord Palms Kissimmee FL

Our dinner reservations were at Sunset Sam's Fish Camp, located in "Key West" at Gaylord Palms. We boarded our vessel and dined under the twinkling lights. The atmosphere is romantic enough for date night and family friendly, too. Your kids will love that they get to eat dinner on a sailboat!

Sand Sculpture in Gaylord Palms

Sunset Sam's at Gaylord Palms

Sailboat inside of Gaylord Palms

Dinner at Sunset Sam's in Gaylord Palms

I enjoyed a Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Fingerling Potatoes and a Grilled Tomato. It was divine. The steak was so tender and the chimichurri sauce was an excellent compliment to it. 

The Orlando Ballet present the Nutcracker at Gaylord Palms

Next, we made our way to see the Christmas Tree Lighting and watch a preview of The Nutcracker performed by the Orlando Ballet. The dancers were are so graceful and beautiful. It made me want to find the nearest location to see the full performance.

Luminescence at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida





Guitar Playing behind the back at Gaylord Palms

After the ballet, we were dazzled by the breathtaking musical performance of Luminescence. When I say "breathtaking", I mean BREATHTAKING. There were numerous times throughout this show that I found myself either near tears or in complete awe of their talent. This band and group of entertainers will have you in the Christmas Spirit in no time!

luminescence at gaylord palms in orlando fl


Luminescence at Gaylord Palms

Alpine Rush Snow Tubing at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee
{pictured is +TampaMamaAdventures and FrugalandFunMom's kids with Jonah}

The night just kept getting better; there is so much to do at Gaylord Palms during the Holidays! After the tree lighting, ballet and musical performance, we went to Alpine Rush to Snow Tube down one of EIGHT lanes of snow. This time my breath was taken by the sheer fun I was having! I felt like I was a kid again racing down the slopes in my snow tube. After tubing, we enjoyed a Hot Chocolate Bar, Rice Krispy Treats and Italian Ice. 

ICE at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, FL

Finally, we went to discover what 3 million pounds of ice looks like. ICE! at Gaylord Palms is an exquisite display of The Nutcracker depicted in the form of sculpted ice. It's truly amazing. 

Before you step foot inside the 15,000 square foot, 9 degree "cold room", be sure to grab one of 1,500 parkas that is provided so you don't freeze your buns. Did you know it took Harbin Ice Carvers 11,160 hours of total carving time to create this Winter Wonderland.  

Gayolrd Palms ICE! in Kissimmee, FL

Photos truly don't do this attraction justice. I'm not sure what I expected to see when I first walked in...but, I was blown away by how beautiful and cold and colorful and cold it all was. {Yes, I said cold twice. It was cold, y'all!}

If you're looking for a fun Holiday event for your family then you'll want to be sure to check out Christmas at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, FL! On top of everything that I've mentioned above, you can also see Santa Claus or have Breakfast with Shrek and his Friends!

Win a Snowy Holiday of your own from Experience Kissimmee by either texting "snow" to 82257 or going to SnowyHoliday.com. The prize is a 3-day, 2-night stay at a Kissimmee destination resort, theme park admission and tickets to local attractions for the winner and three guests.

Want to follow along on all of the Snowy Holiday Adventures with Experience Kissimmee? Check out Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!





Monday, November 24, 2014

Last Minute Craft Ideas for Thanksgiving

last minute craft ideas for thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only days away. DAYS! But, there's still plenty of time to make some Indians and Pilgrims or re-enact the Mayflower. Today, I have a bunch of great crafts that you can make with your kids just in time for Turkey Day!

family of indians craft for kids
/1/ Family of Indians - How much fun would it be to put your head on little Indian bodies? Ooh, you could use these as place cards at your Thanksgiving table! How cute would that be?

I am thankful pumpkin
/2/ Thankful Pumpkin - Cut strips of orange paper, ask the kids what they are most thankful for and create a pumpkin from the strips. During dinner you can talk about all of these things.

thankful tree
/3/ Thankful Tree - Have the kids color this Thankful Tree before your guests arrive. Leave a small basket filled with paper leaves and a marker on a table next to it and have each of your friends and family write what they are thankful for and pin it to the tree. 

football-turkey-craft-for-thanksgiving-
/4/ Football Turkey - One thing I remember about Thanksgiving as a child was the TV being turned on after dinner. It was always football. These football turkeys are perfect if you're also a football loving family!

bubble-wrap-turkey-craft-for-kids
/5/ Bubble Wrap Turkey - If you can keep your kids from popping all of the bubbles in the bubble wrap then you'll have bubble wrap turkeys, too!

turkey hand print card
/6/ Turkey Hand Print Card - These Blessings cards would be a very nice way to tell someone that you're thankful for them. Keep snail mail alive!

handprint-indian-art
/7/ Hand Print Native Americans - I just LOVE hand print crafts! They just might be my favorite craft ever! So, when I found these little Indians I had to share them with you!

mayflower pilgrims
/8/ Pilgrim Hand Prints - Teach your children a bit of World History as they create this hand print Mayflower craft. A teaching lesson AND a craft. Win-win!

Thanksgiving-Napkin-Holder-Placecards
/9/ Napkin Holder Placecards - You could either use construction paper or recycle paper towel tubes to re-create these Indian and Pilgrim napkin holders. 

chief headdress indian craft
/10/ Chief Headdress Indian Craft - I've always wanted to make my kids great big Chief Headdresses and build a tee-pee in the backyard for a photoshoot. I'm thinking this tutorial is exactly what I needed to make it happen!

printable-turkey-day-placemat-coloring
/11/ Printable Coloring Placemat - Do you have a Kids' Table at your Thanksgiving Feast? I bet if these placemats would've been offered when I was a kid I would've been more okay with sitting at a separate table than everyone else.
Will you be making Thanksgiving Crafts with your kids? I'd love to see what you make. Share a link in the comments or tag me on Instagram!

For more Thanksgiving Crafts for kids go to Blissfully Domestic and see what else I've found for you!