Friday, January 23, 2015

Enjoy Your Next Sweet Treat at Sweet Pete's in Jacksonville, FL

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe

If you're a Jacksonville native, new to town or just passing through, be sure to put Sweet Pete's Candy on your short list of things to do!

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe

Located at 400 N Hogan St., Sweet Pete's has given new life to the longtime abandoned Seminole Club in historic Downtown. {After reading further history of the Seminole Club, it's mind-blowing to know that Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy -- among many other famous people -- walked the same halls and steps as all of us who visit Sweet Pete's!!!!}

After you've enjoyed the arts @MOCAjax, head over to @SweetPetesCandy. Such an INCREDIBLE candy store!! ������ I can't wait to go back and have lunch or dinner at @CandyAppleCafe, inside Sweets Petes.  #dtjax #sweetpetescandy #ca

Sweet Pete's is such a treat to step foot into. The atmosphere will make you feel as if you've stepped right in to Willa Wonka's Chocolate Factory. The colors. The smells, The friendly faces. {Sorry guys, I didn't see any Oompa Loompas.} You'll become a kid in a candy store...for real. 

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe

I knew this place was awesome as soon as I walked in, but then I learned they make their chocolate in-house. Oh my, when you walk to the second floor and open the door that looks down onto the factory, you'll want to lick the air. It's pure chocolately goodness in there! AND, if you're lucky, you can even catch a glimpse of Sweet Pete himself and wave hello. {His office is in the far right corner, behind that wall.}

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe
This. Chandelier. Amazing details ALL OVER Sweet Pete's! Look up, look down, look ALL around!

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe

Up every step, around every corner, Sweet Pete's is magnificent! I don't think there's a single color in the rainbow that wasn't used in renovating this 112 year old building. 

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe

Not much into candy? Have a cupcake or a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cake. It's all there!

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe

Sweet Pete's Candy and Candy Apple Cafe

BONUS: While at Sweet Pete's, you can stop in to the Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktails for brunch, lunch or dessert. The menu has everything from Angus Burgers to Cornmeal Dusted Flounder, Candied Bacon topped Mac N' Cheese to Sauteed Escargot. After your meal, be sure to ask for a Gourmet Candy Apple!

So, who's up for Sweet Pete's on their next trip through Jacksonville? You know you want to see what all of the fuss is about. It's genuine fuss, too. This place is a MUST SEE!!!




Thursday, January 15, 2015

David Shipman Runs Away With the Ringling Bros. Circus

DavidShipman

Yesterday, I had the honor of having lunch with David Shipman, the Ringmaster of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Baileys Circus.

As myself and other bloggers from around Jacksonville sat and ate lunch {sponsored by Chickfila}, we asked David questions about being a Ringmaster. I mean, how cool is his job? He gets to travel the country with performers of ALL types, meet people from around the world, have the spotlight shone on him every night AND earn a paycheck!

Ringling Bros Circus Xtreme 2015
{David reads a story to the children at the Main Library in Downtown Jacksonville}

Want to know how he learned about the job? Facebook. Talk about modern technology at its finest. A twist in the story is that David didn't see the ad until after the auditions were over. He thought it couldn't hurt to send in his resume anyways so that Ringling Bros. would have it on file for a later date. Well, they called him an hour after he sent over his information and invited him for a private audition. He was hired ON THE SPOT!

David shared a story with us about how he can remember his first time at the circus, he was around 2 1/2 years old living in Pensacola, FL. On his second tour as Ringmaster, he went back to the same venue that he once watched the circus as a child in amazement. Talk about destiny coming in full circle!

Ringling Bros Circus Xtreme 2015

We were all enjoying the time spent with David Shipman. Of course, he didn't only talk about himself. He shared with us some facts about Ringling Bros. that you may not know already. A few of them I found to be fascinating! I think you will, too.
  • Did you know Ringling Bros. is a family-owned circus?
  • In 145 years, Ringling Bros. has only had 38 Ringmasters! That's pretty incredible...they must treat their staff well.
  • There are about 110 performers in the Circus and about 300 Crew Members. {I wonder how many pooper-scoopers there are?}
  • There are performers from 13 countries. USA is, of course, one of them!
  • Ringling Bros. will stop in 48 cities in only 46 weeks! WOW! That's a LOT of moving and shaking!
  • Here's my favorite fact David shared with us; Ringling Bros. has a traveling school and nursery for performers with families! That's right, mommy and daddy performers don't have to leave their families behind to go entertain the masses. Their family comes on the road with them. Fun side note on that favorite fact; the school will take a "field trip" once a week to go see their performing parent in the circus. AND, on off-time from performing, the kids are taught their parents act. So, a lot of times one can see a child walking a low-wire in preparation for the high-wire or learn to do trick on the trampoline. How fun, right?!?!
Today was more than I expected. Thank you, @thelizmorganpr for the invite! Now, let's go to the CIRCUS!! #RinglingBros #CircusXtreme #jonahbonahinjax #dtjax

Have you ever been to see The Greatest Show on Earth? Do you take your family? Tell me your most favorite circus memory in the comments!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Even More Things To Do in Kissimmee, FL {During the Holidays and After}

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!

Do you live in Florida? Wanna know one of my most favorite parts of living in Florida? The idea that no matter where in the state one might live, it's only hours to the best tourist attractions. And hey, we can be tourists in our own state!!! Did you know Kissimmee is right in the middle of our grand state? That means that we are all so very close to a whole lot of things to do that are super fun! AND, super yummy!

Market Street Cafe in Kissimmee, FL
You simply must make your way to Market Street Cafe. We went in for breakfast and I enjoyed a Western Omelette, plus mushrooms, topped with hot sauce, with a side of hash browns. Delicious doesn't begin to describe it. I will certainly be going back!

Western Omelette at Market Street Cafe in Celebration, FL

The next stop on our adventures for the day was to U Can Cook in Celebration, FL.
U Can Cook Store Front

Nutcrackers at U Can Cook

Once there, we met with Lorenzo who told us that we would be making gingerbread houses together.
Lorenzo at U Can Cook in Kissimmee, FL

U Can Cook in Kissimmee, FL
Look at how cute the kitchen is!

Snowy Holiday at U Can Cook
We're ready for some gingerbread house building!

Place Setting at U Can Cook
Each of us had our very own place setting, complete with chef's hat!



Nori Building a GingerBread House

Poor, Nori. Her little house just wouldn't stay together. 

Making Gingerbread Houses at U Can Cook

Gingerbread House Making at U Can Cook

Christmas at U Can Cook

Anna and Elsa Frozen Dresses at U Can Cook
Anna and Elsa's dresses were displayed in the foyer with our good friend, Olaf. 

U Can Cook is such a hidden gem. I kept thinking to myself that it would be a really great break in a busy vacay at the parks. If you're going to be spending 5-7 touring the Disney/Universal Parks, why not take an afternoon and go have some fun in a kitchen, learning some really cool things! 

If you live close-by, U Can Cook is the PERFECT location for a birthday party or Girls Night Out! Lorenzo even has some wine and cheese tucked away for you! 

Have you ever heard of these two locations? Ever been? Tell me your thoughts. I'd love to hear about your experiences and what your favorite part/food was!




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.