Sunday, April 14, 2019

Helpful Tips for Spending One Day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I had so much I wanted to share after our mother-daughter trip to Harry Potter World that I had to split it into two posts! In case you missed it, you can read the first post here, where I share my thoughts on spending one-on-one time and ideas to help inspire you. 

I also wanted to share some helpful tips I learned after visiting the park. It's my third time to Harry Potter World and I was able to do the most during this trip. Since it was just me and Ava on the trip, we could easily cover more of the park and stay there all day.
Look for the telephone booth in "London" and call the Ministry of Magic! 

If you're planning a trip soon, this post is definitely worth a read! 

First thing you need to know, the marketing geniuses split Harry Potter World in two parks. To fully experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you'll need to purchase the park-to-park pass. I definitely think it is worth it and you can totally do it in one day. 

To ensure you do, I'm spilling my secrets! So let's get to it! 

1) Download the Universal Orlando Resort App on your phone. The app comes in really handy when checking wait times for rides, when you need to quickly look at a map and also to reserve a ride time using Virtual Line. 

2) I found it extremely helpful to have an initial game plan. What do you want to do first? What rides do you want to ride the most? We came up with our list and mapped it out so we knew what direction to head once we got into the park. We used the map to familiarize ourselves on where things were and it was extremely helpful! Of course, you won't be able to stick to your game plan all day, but having a plan for arrival will save you confusion and precious time. 
Ava outside 12 Grimwald Place. Take a peek in the window and lookout for Kreacher! 

Stop and chat with the bus driver of the Knight Bus. The hanging head also talks!
3) I cannot emphasize this enough- wear comfortable shoes! You will spend most of the day walking and standing so don't try to look too cute with your brand new sneakers. Wear your tried and trues for sure! We spent 12 hours in the park and I was so grateful for my broken in Toms. They were comfortable and I didn't have one single blister to slow me down! 

4) If you're wondering what park to go to first, I say head to Diagon Alley (located at Universal Studios) first. It's the least crowded during the morning and you can take the best photos! We bought our wand first at Olivander's wand shop and then rode on Gringott's ride. Another quick tip- Olivander's is the official wand shop, but it's not the only place to purchase a wand, in fact, there is a pop-up wand shop just around the corner from Olivander's if you don't care about "The wand chooses you" experience that had no line at all! By purchasing the wand first thing, you can take advantage of all the magical spots to use your interactive wand.

5) Don't get discouraged if Harry Potter World is already crowded. There's lots of stores to explore and you can always come back. We actually left Diagon Alley to head to our other favorite rides like The Simpsons Ride and Men in Black. We walked around the loop making our way through all the rides with the least amount of wait times and ended back at Diagon Alley to hop on Hogwart's Express to the other park. The best time to come back is the golden hour- 7pm. We found there was little to no wait times in all areas of the park! People get tired and leave the park so take advantage of this by coming back to your favorite attractions or ones you missed earlier in the day.
Ava just purchased her interactive wand and it comes with a map for all the magical spots to use it!

Diagon Alley on our way to Gringotts! You can exchange your money for Gringott's gold to use throughout the park!

Knockturn Alley

Platform 9 3/4 in line for Hogwarts Express

Inside the train cart. Be sure to ride the train both ways for two different experiences!

6) Ride the Mummy! We came for Harry Potter World, but the Mummy is still my all-time favorite roller coaster at Universal! Ava was scared to at first but she loved it just as much as I did the first time I rode on it!

7) Florida rainy season is no joke. But I find it's all about attitude and preparation. If you know it will rain while you are in the park, pack your rain jackets. The ponchos in the park are over priced and are cheaply made. We didn't get rain on our trip, but I have in the past. The good thing about the rain is that is doesn't tend to last all day. It will come in waves so just have a good attitude about it and explore the shops or stop for a meal/snack until the rain stops.

8) Bring only a small back pack. If you don't have someone watching your belongings while you're on the rides, you'll have to use lockers for some of the rides. The free lockers are pretty small. We packed a back pack and just had a few essentials in it so it easily fit in the lockers.

9) If the wait times are long, take advantage of the single rider lines. I have to admit I was a bit jealous of the express pass people, but tickets for them are steep! But single rider lines cut the wait time in half! Ava is 9 and I was a little nervous at first. But, we agreed we would just wait for each other in the spot right after you get off the ride. And actually, we would end up riding at the same time just in different seats.

10) Ava and I packed some light snacks in our backpack so when we got hungry in lines we had something. We saved our money for a few fun park treats like churros and butter beer of course! We skipped lunch because wait times go down while people stop to eat, but we made a point to enjoy a nice dinner. Ava didn't care for the menu at the Leaky Cauldron (British menu) so we had dinner at The Three Broomsticks. She had chicken fingers and I had a nice rotisserie chicken meal.
Don't forget this photo op in Hogsmeade next to the butter bear cart! Frozen is my favorite way to drink it! 

11) My last tip is check to see if there is a nightly parade. During the parade, lots of people stop to watch. Use this time to go on your favorite attractions/rides! The wait time was 5-15 minutes during the parade so it was perfect!

If you're planning a trip soon, then I hope these tips are helpful! We had such a fun time and we rode all the rides and checked off everything on our Harry Potter list! I hope enjoyed reading this post and if you have other tips for us, please leave them in the comments! I know this will not be our last trip to Universal so I'll keep your pointers in mind for our future trips!
Ava outside of Hogsmeade! 

Ava and I outside Hogwarts! This is another must-have photo op!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Memorable Mother-Daughter Trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Bear with me, I'm covering a lot in this post. But I promise, it's worth it. 

Starting last year, Ava, my eldest daughter (she’s nine), discovered Harry Potter. She started off with the movies and has recently grown interest in reading the books. When she started to fall in love with it I was so excited because I am such a fan of the series. I knew I wanted to take her to Harry Potter World also known as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. Originally, I planned for the whole family to go, but then I started to think how awesome it would be to spend some one-on-one time with Ava. Ever since Lily (my second oldest) was born, we have always done things with both girls. This was an opportunity to take a mother-daughter trip and spend some quality time with just us.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

This is 35

So this is 35!
Happy birthday to me! It’s so funny how birthday celebrations change as you get older; at least it has been for me. Not that my birthday isn’t worth celebrating, but I don’t put that much emphasis on the actual celebration as I did in my 20s. I am now perfectly content with simply spending it surrounded by my favorite people.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Mom's Day Out: Morning with AR Workshop Savannah

I don’t get many mom outings, a day without the kids, especially on the weekend but I was invited a few weekends ago by my friend Amy Darley for a fun morning out with other influencers at AR Workshop Savannah! AR Workshop is a new boutique DIY studio in Savannah that offers hands-on classes creating custom home décor.  I love a good DIY and was so excited to create a custom piece for our home.

I chose to make a wood framed sign to hang in my master bedroom. AR Workshop has so many fun projects though, not just wood signs. A few of the ladies made cheese boards and decorative trays. They offer classes to make chunky knitted blankets and it’s on my wish list of classes I want to sign up for.

You don’t need any carpentry skills for these classes. The girls and I had a blast. There was fun music playing while we worked and we drank mimosas.  I mean, such a fun way to spend a Saturday morning! And I got to take my hard work home with me in the form of a super charming and rustic wood sign!

Check out some of the fun shots I took while we were getting our wood-working on!

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Coolest Hair Accessories for Spring 2019

Hair accessories are making a big statement right now! Just like statement jewelry, hair accessories are having their moment!

I am in love with how I have seen my favorite bloggers style the knotted headbands and wraps! The big clips are so fun too!

I've rounded up some of my favorites today! Are you here for the new statement trend?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Mindful Shopping in 2019: February Purchases

I shared my January purchases last month and I wanted to share the items I purchased in February. In the spirit of transparency and to keep myself in check for my spending, so here's what made the cut in February.

Two- panel acrylic earring stand. I bought a three-panel one in January and I ordered another one to hold all my Nickel and Suede earrings. I love the way my earrings look on this stand.

 H&M Leopard tee and Simple Addiction black leggings.  I bought the leggings on sale for $4 so together I spent a whopping $9 on this outfit. 

 Last month I won an Instagram giveaway for $50 credit to Loren Hope so I spent $17 on these pretty mint statement earrings! I think they will look so cute with all my spring pastels! 

During a random Target trip I purchased this side tie tee and leopard mules. I had been eyeing the mules for some time and I finally just bought them during a Cartwheel promo on clothes, shoes & accessories. 

So I bought more in February but I don't feel like I spent too much that I should feel guilty about it. Let's see how I do in March! Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

3 Ways to Style Grey Wedge Sneakers

I am excited to start a new series with you. Versatility is so important to me when I am making purchasing decisions because I need to know I can wear things in different ways and that those items will work with the rest of my closet. My first "ways to style" post is sharing different ways to wear grey suede sneakers. I don't know what has taken me so long to try this trend out.

I received these fun grey wedge sneakers care of Pic and Pay and I was so excited get to style them! This Zaven style is from their new spring collection! You can find them on Amazon!

So let's get to it! First I paired the sneakers with a grey peplum tee and green pants for a super casual look. One thing you will know about me is that I prefer outfits I can wear easily around my kiddos. Luckily these wedges are so comfortable and dress this simple outfit some!

For my next look, I changed into a pair of high-waisted black denim, a white tee and my favorite leopard utility jacket. I've had this jacket for years and I still love it! This is probably my favorite look out of the three! 

For the last look, I paired the wedges with some classics- a striped tee, black leggings and a denim jacket. This is my go-to weekend look. It's comfortable and casual- my favorite combo!

So which look is your favorite of the three? I'd love to know!

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this new series and if you'd like to see more. What else would you like to see styled? I hope these posts spark some inspiration for you. I would also love to know additional ways to style these wedge sneakers so if you have a pair and wear them let me know how you style them!

Monday, March 4, 2019

5 Lessons Learned After Loss

Wow, here we are in March. This month has so much significance for our family. It used to be such a happy month full of celebrations. My sister got married in March. It's my birthday month and Ava's too. Now, it will always be mixed with sadness. A sadness that will forever stay with me and return to me every March. On the 16th of this month it will mark 5 years since my beautiful mom passed away.

My mom taught me so much during the time she was alive. She taught me to be the woman I am today. She taught me about hard work and about loving and protecting my family fiercely.

She continues to teach me 5 years after her death.  

1. Memories are important.

All I have left of my mom are the memories we shared. I'm so thankful for each and every one. Not only are my memories of her special but she taught me I need to be making as many memories as possible with the ones I love. It's like a time capsule. It helps to keep your loved ones alive in your heart! 

2. Let go and make every day count.

After my mom passed away it was like something drastic changed in me. I was done with anything that didn't really matter ultimately. I learned to let go of pettiness and drama. I no longer had the energy or the desire to deal with it. It has made my life simplified and ultimately more enjoyable. Losing someone forces you to look for more things that bring you joy and let go of negativity. 

3. Grief is forever.

The reality of grief is that it lasts forever. It's not true that time heals because the truth is I miss my mom just as much today as the day I said good-bye. It comes in waves, sometimes its just feeling sad and sometimes it stops me in my tracks and I cannot breathe. I think my kids saved me from just drowning myself in all the sadness. I know they needed a functioning parent and I know my mom would have wanted me to be there for my family. I have simply learned to live with grief and accept it when it comes. 

4. Let your loved ones know you love them.

Life is too short. My mom was only 64 years old when she passed away and her sudden departure taught me every day is a gift. It was very difficult for all of my family because we didn't get to say our goodbyes the way we would have liked. My mom couldn't respond to any of us and it made it that much harder. I know in my heart she knew how much we all loved her though. So take it from me, make amends with your loved ones. Tell them how much they mean to you and that you love them as often as possible. 

5. Life does go on. 

Nothing shows you the amount of strength you possess than when you lose a loved one. I always thought "I would die" if I didn't have my mom. I was 29 when my world came tumbling down. In the days around this difficult time I felt numb. How could I get out of bed? How could I function? But what I learned from living through this experience is that life does eventually go on. I had two young children depending on me, a husband, my siblings and dad I needed to be there for. In no way has this been a fast process because there's this new normal I am constantly adjusting to. I really do miss the life I had before but what I learned is that now I have to live my life for my mom. She wouldn't want me to be stuck in my grief. She wants me to live a life I am truly proud of. 

To be totally honest, losing someone close to you sucks so bad! I don't wish it upon anyone. But I write this post in the hopes you realize these lessons are to show not to wait until you lose someone to learn them!

If you are a praying person, please send your prayers my way because this month is not easy for me. More importantly, call you mom, hug your mom, tell her you love her! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Mindful Shopping in 2019: January Purchases

One of my goals this year is to save money and be more mindful about what I spend money on. I want save up to make memories with my family. I am also saving money because I am working on turning my guest bedroom into my office. I can't do that if I am constantly shopping for new clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc.

To hold myself accountable, I decided I would start sharing what makes the cut on Instagram and on the blog. I created a highlight in my Instagram so you can follow along to see how much I actually spend this year on fashion purchases.

I have had many instances already where I'll put something back because I don't think it is worthy enough for me to spend money on and/or share with everyone.

Here's what I bought in January:

High-waist jeans: Lately, I haven't been happy with any of my jeans. I wanted a pair of high-waist denim in a light wash. I ordered these from Old Navy and I am happy with them. I got them on sale for $14.97 and I know they will get plenty of wear this spring and summer.

Camel Mule Slides: Another item on my wish list for awhile has been a pair of neutral colored mules I could wear casually. When I saw they were on sale for $20 I snagged them and the jeans above at the same time! These will certainly be making lots appearances!

A Tee with a Cause: I was in the Loft the other day trying on Valentine's Day looks and bought this tee. It's a simple graphic tee and the best part is, 60% of the proceeds will benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

Two other items I purchased last month were these jewelry organizers. My jewelry collection has been overflowing on my bathroom counter and it wasn't a pretty sight. Since I am working on my office, I purchased these organizers to help display my earrings, bracelets, and necklaces better. They are not only decorative but functional too. It's so much easier to see what I want to wear when everything is displayed and organized. I found them both under $17 on Amazon.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the purchasing decisions I made in January. There were lots of things that I wanted but I'm glad I didn't buy them. I am curious to see how February and the rest of the year will go. Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

5 Keys to a More Stress-Free Mom Life

Today, I have the pleasure of being a guest writer for Moss & Marsh blog offering some tips to make parenting easier. 

Being a mom is far from easy. No one day with kids is ever the same but, I wanted to share 5 keys to a more stress-free mom life. Who doesn't want to be a little less stressed? It's taken a few trials to figure out what works for our family, but I promise incorporating any one of these strategies will help you feel more productive and less anxious so you can enjoy motherhood even more!

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Space to Call My Own

One of my first home projects this year is transforming my guest bedroom into a space for me. Noah has his own room in the house and the kids have a playroom, but there is no space for me. We have a guest bedroom in the house but most of the time it's being underused.

I want to transform my guest bedroom into a space I can work and be creative. I cannot wait to share the big reveal but I thought I would first share my vision with you. I am working with a local interior designer, Stephanie Hoey Interiors, for help designing the space. Stephanie sent me the inspiration board and I love the mix of chic and modern. She's already provided some great recommendations and I know together we will bring this vision together!

Now, I am on the hunt for some budget-friendly pieces to order so we can achieve this look for the room. Below are some items I have purchased so far and also have my eyes on! Do you have a space in the house to call your own? I think it will make the world of difference to focus my blog work and also a place to relax! Let me know if you run across any of these items or items you think would complement my office! Please and thank you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

How to Slay your Goals in 2019

A new year means a fresh start right? 

I recently got my hair cut and it couldn't come at a more perfect time. I think a fresh new cut is a great way to start the next chapter.

I'm excited for what 2019 has in store for me.

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