Happy Halloween Peeps

I love this idea from Jenny at Bloom Designs.  In fact, I pretty much love all of her ideas!  Check out her blog HERE, she’s giving away the printable labels for free.  I have my labels ready to go, and have been so excited to make these, but can’t seem to find the ghost peeps.  Does anyone know where to buy them?

For more fun ideas, stay in touch…

Cool Destinations for Summer Travel

Is it hot where you are?  Perhaps you’re one of the fortunate ones who lives in a temperate climate year round.  As for us here in Florida, it’s the dog days of summer.  It’s been hot for months, and there’s no end in site.  I’m longing for a vacation to somewhere cooler.

Here are a few of the summer travel deals I came across in cool climate destinations.

Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah

Photo credit : Waldorf Astoria Park City 

You may recall from my “Luxury Travel Ideas” article that our vacation bookings are often quite impromptu.  Yesterday was no exception.  One minute I was browsing for vacation ideas, and the next thing I know, we booked a trip to Park City, Utah!  I’ve never been there before, and not sure what to expect, but I know it will be cooler weather than Florida!  I’m looking forward to bringing you the full review of the Waldorf Astoria Park City in a few weeks.  Wow, did I mention how phenomenal the rooms look, and the residences have full kitchens?!  And since it’s off-season in Utah, the rates are a fraction of what they would be in the peak of ski season.

 Four Seasons Resort, Vail, Colorado

We stayed here for a week in late September/early October last year, and it was incredible.  From the minute we walked in the door, we were pampered.  They had a full size crib for our baby, bottle warmer, baby bath tub & bath amenities, toys, milk and cookies with her name on it, and the list goes on and on.

The fall colors were in their full glory.  Being off-season, it felt like we had the place to ourselves (which I could hardly believe given how GORGEOUS the weather and foliage were).

The best part of all- the price was amazing.  We booked on a special “every 2nd night FREE” rate- at the Four Seasons!  Just when we thought it couldn’t get better, the package also included “buy one get one free” spa treatments, and dinner entrees!  We had such a fun family vacation at a price we may never see again at Four Seasons.  Read more about the Four Seasons Vail spa HERE.

Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Colorado

 Photo Credit: Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch 

I’ve had my eye on this resort for a while now.  It’s nestled into the mountains in Avon, Colorado.  The lodge-like feel looks so cozy and inviting.  Being a long-time spa junkie, I am drawn in by the 21,000 square foot facilities with 19 treatment rooms!

And for the best part, I found “pay in advance” rates in September for as low as $143/night!  $143 at the RITZ CARLTON!  Wow, I could jump for joy.  Off-season has it’s privileges.

Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, British Columbia

I’ll be honest.  Before my business trip to Vancouver in May, I hadn’t really thought about visiting here.  I had no idea what I was missing…Vancouver is fabulous!  I cannot wait to go back.  My bathroom at Fairmont Pacific Rim was the best hotel bathroom I have ever experienced.  It should be on the list for top 10 hotel bathrooms in the world.  The view was delightful, and the tub…oh my.  Before this trip I only used showers.  The thought of using a bathtub was icky.  Well, I was transformed at the Fairmont.  I used the tub everyday.  I would have used it twice a day if I had more time.  I was mesmerized by the view from the tub, watching cruise ships coming into port, and sea planes take off and land.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the flowers of Vancouver.  Everywhere I turned, I was in awe of the lush landscape and abundant floral beauty.  The rates in the summer are not what I would consider a “deal” (Vancouver is an expensive city), but the weather is oh-so-blissfully refreshing.  Read more about my Vancouver experience HERE.

Those are just 4 great spots.  I am also a huge fan of California (San Francisco, Big Sur, Cambria, and Malibu- just to name a few!)  What’s your favorite vacation spot when you want to escape the heat?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Fruits of the Summer

Need some refreshment from the summer heat?  Try this delicious fruit salad.  The “secret” ingredient I use to make it extra tasty…fresh chopped spearmint leaves.  They’re easy to grow, and come in handy for a last-minute recipe add-in or garnish.

Something about the taste of mint mixed with watermelon is oh-so-delicious!  For this salad I used watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, organic apples, and fresh spearmint.  Serve it on top of some vanilla Greek yogurt for the perfect afternoon snack.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Yum, so delicious!  This dip is healthy yet amazingly good.  It’s borderline hummus, but not quite.  The perfect balance of pepper and chickpeas.  I wasn’t planning to blog about this dip so I didn’t take photos of the ingredients.  It’s too good not to share, so here’s the finished product…

Roasted Red Pepper Dip


Before I list the ingredients, I have a confession.  I love to create new recipes…but I don’t ever measure ingredients. I eyeball everything.  So, these are all estimations. If you come up with something close to these amounts, you should be successful!

  • 1 medium red pepper, grilled or oven roasted, seeded and peeled
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 can of garbanzo beans (chick peas)
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel cheese)
  • red pepper flakes (optional) for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Combine roasted red pepper, garbanzo beans, garlic, Greek yogurt, and cream cheese in food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Refrigerate 30 mins or until ready to serve, dip will thicken while refrigerated.  Top with red pepper flakes to add a little kick, and add salt & pepper according to taste.

Yummy, so easy to make and a nice change from everyday dips!  For more great info, please stay in touch.

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Travel Deal Alert

I’m always on the lookout for last minute getaways, or great offers on luxury travel.  I thought I would share a couple of my finds from my daily search.*

Hilton Bonnet Creek, Orlando, FL

I’m seeing rates from $95/night this summer!  This new hotel is close to Disney and shares some of the amenities (such as the luxury spa) as the Waldorf Astoria Orlando (managed by Hilton).  Rumor has it that the spa at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando rivals that of the Ritz Carlton Orlando, which is one of my all-time favorite spas.

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando is running some good deals too, including a $100/night resort credit.

I say Hilton Bonnet Creek earns the Busy Modern Family “best buy” award with rates starting at $95!

Four Seasons Resorts

In my humble opinion, Four Seasons Resorts sets the standard for luxury travel.  They know how to please the discerning luxury traveler.  I am continually impressed by the attention to detail they put into every aspect of their brand.  Can you tell I really love Four Seasons?

Not only does Four Seasons define extravagance, they happen to be offering some noteworthy promotions this summer.  You have to be willing to hunt down the promos by location (click HERE to go to the offers page).

I found several offers for “Third Night Free”, including at the Four Seasons Miami.  I saw rates as low as $193/night with this offer!  $193/night at Four Seasons Miami is a fabulous special!

Marriott Credit Card Offer

Marriott finally wore me down with their continual offers for free nights with their credit card.  Now that Marriott rewards points are accepted at the Ritz Carlton, I caved.  You can earn 50,000 points (enough for a night at a Tier 4 Ritz Carlton) after your first purchase with the  card.  Not a bad deal, especially with no annual fee for the first year.  You ALSO get a certificate for a free night at a Tier 1-4 Marriott brand…sadly, that part of the offer didn’t excite me.  Call me a travel snob, it’s true.  Anyway, more details about the offer can be found HERE.

Additional Resources

Those are just two of the deals I came across today.  I will keep you posted on any other amazing offers I find, since I’m always on the lookout for “luxury for less”!

Another one of my go-to sites is Luxury Link.  Click HERE to check it out.

For more dream getaways, take a peek at my “Take Me There Now” board on Pinterest.

Have you come across a great travel deal?  Please let me know!

5 Amazing Spa Getaways

I have to admit, I am a spa junkie.  I love everything about the spa.  When I walk into the doors of the spa, it’s like time stands still.  The familiar smell of eucalyptus instantly calms my nerves.  The cool cucumber towels draw me in.  The spa is my place of peace and tranquility.

Come with me on a mini mental vacation to these 5 beautiful resort spas.

Four Seasons Resort, Langkawi, Malaysia

I have been intrigued with this photo ever since seeing it on Four Seasons Hotel’s Facebook page in January.  The resort boasts six spa pavilions where Eastern and Western traditions meet to encourage healing.  Perhaps the most fascinating of treatments is the Raja and Ratu Sehari.  This traditional wedding ritual is a series of 8 (yes, EIGHT) treatments over the course of 2 (yes, TWO) days.  Count me in please.

Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Covering over 102 acres of pristine California coastline, Terranea Resort is perched on the Palos Verdes Peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Spa treatments and fitness classes correspond to the body’s natural bio-rhythms. In the morning, treatments and programs energize and invigorate. In the afternoon, treatments are calming and restorative.

I had the privilege of going to Terranea spa during a 14 hour layover in LA.  It proved to be the perfect oasis during a 35 hour journey to the South Pacific.  Each evening at sunset, the end of the day is signified by the ringing of crystal singing bowls, an ancient ritual known for healing and relaxation through sound and vibration.  I would like to start doing this at my house each evening!

Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea, Maui

If you’re looking for an extensive spa menu, Spa Grande has it.  There are more than 100 treatments, many uniquely infused with Hawaiian grown ingredients.  I enjoyed a body wrap with Hawaiian flowers.  How can you not love being wrapped up in flowers?  Before your treatment, lounge in five aromatic baths, and enjoy the 50,000 sq ft. facilities.  Spa tip: try to book during off-hours, as this popular spa becomes crowded.

Silver Rain Spa at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman 

Silver Rain, a La Prairie Spa, celebrates the energy of healing waters in all its forms.  The entrance of the spa gives the feeling of walking into a glacier.  My favorite part of this spa is the relaxation area.  It’s an all white room with plush white couches.  White drapes segment the room and form private coves.  You may not see another soul the whole time your at the spa.  Instead of magazines, or televisions, there are books.  Photo books.  You can look at gorgeous pictures of green fields, waterfalls, and turquoise ocean.  And after your treatment, the photos come to life as you visit gorgeous Seven Mile Beach, located on the opposite side of the spa.

The Spa at Four Seasons Resort, Vail

It seems hardly a day goes by lately where I don’t say, “I love Four Seasons Resorts!”  Today I am saying it twice, as Four Seasons makes the list again.  The spa at Four Seasons Resort in Vail offers unique therapies, such as the Earth, Wind, and Sky ritual.  This therapy helps reduce blood pressure and shift brain waves into a theta state, which is correlated to creativity and the deepest possible relaxation.

But my favorite part of this spa is the highly experienced therapists.  These therapists have worked on Olympic skiers, so they understand the ins and outs of an extraordinary massage.  After your treatment, relax in the extra large jacuzzi before going back to the slopes.

Do you have a favorite spa getaway?  Please share, I would love to learn more.  Have a tranquil day!

Single Tier DIY Cupcake Stand

For the new and improved 2-Tier version of the stand below

Looking for a new way to display cupcakes or desserts?  It’s easy to make an attractive cake or cupcake stand in minutes.  My daughter’s first birthday is at a park this weekend, and I didn’t want to haul all of my glass serving trays.  Instead I used a box and some fabric to invent a stand.

Supplies needed include a box, fabric, ribbon, and glue

Simply wrap the box like a present with the fabric of your choice.  Instead of tape, I glue the edges and creases using fabric glue.  To make it easier you can first tape, then go back and glue.  I prefer to buy “fabric quarters” from Joann’s, so I don’t have to wait in the seemingly always LONG line for fabric cutting.

Glue ribbon to the bottom edge for a finished look

Choose any ribbon to go around the bottom, or even the top crease of the box.  You can mix and match different colors to go along with your fabric.  Ideally, you would use several different size boxes to create a tiered effect.

Jazz up everyday cupcakes with toppers and a nice fabric stand

These fun St. Patrick’s Day cupcake toppers are a free download from The TomKat Studio.  Just click here to print yours.  Wilton makes the petal cupcake cups in a variety of colors.

It’s easy to make grass with Wilton icing tip #233

Once your fabric stand is complete, the cupcake possibilities are endless.  These “grass” cupcakes are a cinch to make.  Simply use Wilton icing tip #233, and mix up a batch of buttercream icing and add green dye.  I made the flowers using the Wilton lollipop molds and candy melts.

Try something different by baking cupcakes inside ice cream cones

If you’re looking for a unique idea, try making your cupcakes inside ice cream cones.  I use Wilton icing tip# 1M to make the “ice cream”.  Super fun for a kid’s party.

Nursery and Kid’s Rooms Ideas

Want to win $3,000 in kid’s furniture and decor?  While looking up ideas for nursery and children’s room design, I came across this giveaway from Rosenberry Rooms, so I thought I would pass it along.

It’s the “Pin it to Win it” giveaway.  Create a Pinterest board of your favorite items from Rosenberry Rooms, and you could win the items you choose.  Check out this link for full contest details.

I decided to go with a funky nursery design for my “Very Rosenberry” board.  Here are a few of my picks…

A cozy haven for kid’s to read in bed

I would have loved this tent when I was a kid

Check out more fun finds on my Pinterest board.  Do you have a great nursery idea?  Please share.  Leave a comment below, or e-mail me at [email protected]

Happy Pinning!

Spring Break Getaway Idea

Dreaming of a vacation?  South Seas Resort offers an array of family friendly options.
My husband’s family has been coming to South Seas for years, and we all came back again last July 4th weekend. We stayed 4 nights in the Harborside Hotel rooms. The rooms were renovated after the hurricane several years ago, and are clean and comfortable.

Harborside Hotel Room

If you have never stayed at South Seas before, the main thing to keep in mind is that it’s not what I would consider a “luxury property”. Yes, there are people who own 100-foot yachts who come to the marina, but the resort should not be confused with the Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton. Imagine something more like a Disney property, but bigger and more spread out, and on the beach. Almost like an upscale summer camp for families.

Games and activities for the holiday weekend

That being said, we always have a wonderful time and come back again and again. It’s just important to know what you’re getting when you book at South Seas. It’s a large property (you can rent golf carts or take the trolley to navigate around) with many different rental options, most of which are individually owned and managed by the resort.

We like to stay on the north side of the property, as it’s closer to the marina, golf course, Harborside Grill, beach, and other activities. The property is under new management, and they seem to be doing a much better job with customer service and keeping guests happy.  We are avid boaters, so we usually request a marina view, as it’s fun to look at all the boats. Many people may prefer the open water view (which is considered a higher category) if you’re staying in the Harborside Hotel.

We ate several times at the Harborside grill, and had good food each time. Service ranged from decent to good, depending on how busy the restaurant was at the time. The resort was completely sold out over the holiday weekend, so given the large # of guests, they did a good job.
South Seas doesn’t have too many dining options. They do have grills all over the property and many people bring food and make it in their condos (most units- not in the hotel- have full kitchens). the Ship Store has a small but well-equipped deli and meat selections. If you don’t mind spending a little more, it’s not even worth hauling a cooler and going shopping ahead of time, you can get what you need at the Ship Store (especially if it’s only for a couple of meals over a long weekend).

The main beach has a designated area for chairs and umbrellas, and when it’s a busy weekend, it’s packed. It would be nice if they could expand the “sitting” area. The beach itself is huge, but there are private homes on the south side and you cannot sit in front of them, and the golf course is on the north side, and they will not set up chairs in that area. It’s a wide beach, so they just stack the chairs 3 rows deep to accommodate everyone.

Main beach can get crowded; walk north or south and you will have shoreline to yourself

I highly recommend bringing or renting bikes. You can cover a lot of ground, and bike all over Captiva Island. Be sure to bring bug spray, as there are lots of mosquitos here.  The nature center is a fun place to stop into, especially for kids. Vince does a great job running the place, as he has for years. The new management cut the hours for the nature center, so it seems like it’s barely open.

Lots of activites for children at the nature center and kid’s club

You can rent pontoon boats from the smaller marina, and it’s a great way to get out on the water for the day. There are also cruises on the Lady Chadwick that run on a daily basis. The pool is large and has water slides for the kids, but it does get quite crowded. I would hit the pool first thing in the morning (while it’s nice and clean and calm) then head over to the beach midday.

Have the pool to your self early morning or evening

Overall, South Seas is a fun place to come with family, and there’s plenty of things to do. Don’t expect posh lounges or luxurious rooms, but set your expectations appropriately and you will have a great time with your family.