Monday, August 12, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA TRAVEL GUIDE...








Some of my girlfriends and I decided to take a girls trip to Scottsdale last month and I had no idea what to expect. I was on board because I needed to venture out of the places that I visit over and over. Life had been pretty crazy as well so I knew it would a great time to take a break and relax. I didn't have any expectations for my trip. I was up to do anything, eat anywhere, ect. The area itself is on the smaller side but I love that because we didn't have to drive more than 20 minutes to go anywhere. In Houston, I could be stuck driving one hour just to meet up with a friend for lunch. We got around in a Lexus GX460 and it was a great ride for us. It was very spacious and rode smoothly. The trip overall was relaxing and so chill. I'm not even going to lie, it was extremely hot. I enjoyed our time there but highly recommend going when it's a little cooler. There are tons of AMAZING restaurants, outdoor activities, and cute little shops. Travel guides have always been extremely helpful for me and I want to start working on more so I organized everything by places to stay, what to do, places to eat, and any other tips to make the trip easier for y'all. 

WHERE TO STAY: 

LOCATION: We stayed at Mountain Shadow Resort and it's was one of my favorite resorts that I've ever stayed. It's really a breath of fresh air when you walk in. It's located centrally, so a lot of things are nearby. As soon as you walk in, there's this stunning view of the mountains. There is a restaurant, bar, and pool on the first floor. 

ROOM & LOBBY: Our room was very spacious. The design was sleek and modern and included everything you would need during your stay. What I appreciate about our rooms was that we actually had connecting doors. Dawn, Sarah, and I shared one room and then Rebekah and Jessica shared another. Even though we had two different rooms, it felt as if we were all together in one big one.  Right outside the lobby was where the beautiful lawn area was. The view there was stunning. There are many guest that have their wedding there so you know that view is breathtaking. Mountain Shadow Resort also has 2 pool and cabanas.We spent the second morning at the pool and it definitely helped cool us down. It's extremely hot in Arizona so a day at the pool was exactly what we needed. 

FOOD & DRINKS: We had breakfast in the restaurant and the food was amazing. Even if you aren't staying at Mountain Shadow Resort, I highly recommend grabbing breakfast/brunch there. There were multiple areas in the lobby that you and your girlfriends could hang out and drink wine too!


PLACES TO EAT/DRINK: 

The restaurants in Scottsdale are honestly all delicious. Most of the restaurants served a huge variety of food and felt light. There wasn't one time that I left the restaurant regretting feeling that I ate a lot of hearty/fatty food. There isn't much to do in Scottsdale but the restaurants make up for it. I would go back just to eat the entire time! 

The Henry: We went to here for dinner our first night and the drinks and food was AMAZING! It is on the higher priced side but worth every penny. Even though it was a higher end restaurant, the vibe was very relax. It gets extremely packed and everyone is mingling with everyone. I got the Bolognese and I would fly back just to have it again.  

Sugar Bowl: One of the cutest little ice cream shops ever! You can get sundaes, milkshakes, bananas splits, pretty much anything your heart desires. They also serve food so you can grab lunch and then dessert. 

Diego Pops: Diego pops is a very hip and lively place, lol. It's a cute little place for lunch, dinner, or drinks. The Poke Bowl there is one of the best that I've ever had. I didn't even order it but tried to go back the next day to have it togo! 

Hash Kitchen: We went here for brunch and everything is "Texas" size. They have a the biggest bloody mary bar, massive French toast, and delicious meals that taste home made. 

Montauk: We ate at Montauk twice and the food and drink there were so good. If you enjoy a good bloody mary, this is the place to get it. The house potato chips and dip, Ahi Poke Salad, and breakfast dishes were so delicious.

The Canal Club: The Canal Club is a very beautiful bar inside of a hotel. The lobby area is white, clean, and modern. If you're looking to sit down and have a few drinks, The Canal Club is the spot to do it. 

THINGS TO DO: 

There are a handful of things to do in Scottsdale. Unfortunately, it was insanely hot so we weren't able to do a lot of things outdoors. If you visit during the cooler months you can go hiking on Camelback Mountain, visit Frank Lloyd Wrights' home, and see the Musuem of Contemporary Arts.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

GETTING ORGANIZED FOR BACK TO SCHOOL...












Liam starts Pre-K in exactly one month from today. These past few weeks I've been trying to organize all of his clothes, books, shoes, and school necessities. When I put Liam in school last year, I was surprised at how many things I had to label for his class and at home. I had bought little stickers from the store but they never stayed on and would wash off under the water. I got to the point where I was labeling everything in a permanent marker and it probably wasn't the best decision because it doesn't come off at all.

This year, I'm using labels from Stuck On You and it has already been a game changer. Liam's school requires us to bring extra clothes incase they have an accident and Stuck On You happens to make labels (sticker or iron on option) specifically for clothes. I've also been using these labels to put on his books, crayon boxes, and dividing Liam and Chloe's things at home. 

When it comes to school accessaries, I knew that it would make it easier for everyone to grab this personalized backpack and bento box for lunch. This bento box organizes all of Liam's food so well. There is a section for vegetable, dairy, proteins, fruit, and grains. The tray makes it easy to organize and also helps ensure that I'm packing all of the right foods. I'm learning that Liam enjoys snacking on smaller portions of food for lunch versus giving him one massive meals. I think it also makes it easier for Liam to pick at finger foods like strawberries, cut up broccoli, cheese, ect. 

One of Liam's homework this summer is learning how to spell and write his name. We've been working on spelling his name and he has it down. Next up is writing it out. If he's anything like me, he'll have pretty handwriting, if he's like Tommy, it'll be very very hard to read. I have one month to get this down! What are you moms most excited for when school starts again? I'm excited for Liam to start this next chapter and I'm ready to get some alone time to refresh. 

Thank you so much for reading! 

xo, 
Annie

*Thank you Stuck On You for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own








Tuesday, July 30, 2019

HOSTING A STRESS-FREE BACK TO SCHOOL PARTY...

This post has been sponsored by Randalls. All thoughts and opinions are my own.





RANDALLS

The first half of this summer has flown by! I can’t believe we’re already talking about our children going back to school. Liam starts Pre-k this year and I’m so excited for him to create new friendships and learn from his teachers. 

Before everyone starts getting ready for school and the fall season, we thought it would be fun to throw a back-to-school party and invite all of our family and friends. Randalls is having their Anniversary Sale from July 31st– August 13th and there is a huge selection of snacks, drinks, dessert, and food on sale. Our family has been shopping for groceries for Randalls for years. They have amazing prices and we love using the mobile app for deals. I purchased these products and more at my local Randalls, but you can also shop Anniversary Sale and save at any of the Albertsons Companies retailers. Visit the Randalls website to find a store near you and discover some fun meal prep tips and recipe ideas! 

Hosting a party can be stressful but I try to keep it simple. All I really have to worry about is entertaining children and feeding everyone. Besides that, everyone just typically enjoys being around each other. I’ve found that children love doing simple things. For our back-to-school-party, the children were jumping on the trampoline, swimming in the inflatable pool, painting, and grubbing on snacks and inhaling in the juice. With children, they typically gravitate towards yummy simple snacks because they’re basically here to play with the other children. I can’t tell you how many times I have to call Liam in to take a water/juice break. He’s on the run with all of his friends! We picked up Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Capri Sun Fruit Punch, Lays Classic Family Size Chips, and Haagen Dazs Ice Cream Vanilla Bean flavor for the children. That’s probably every child’s dream lunch. For the adults we decided to cook easy and simple foods like BBQ and finger foods. During the Anniversary Sale, I try to stock up on items that I know I’ll use when regularly at the house and for school lunches; Coffee Mat French Vanilla Creamer, Starbucks Coffee Breakfast Blend Ground, Tide Pods, Kelloggs Cereal, and Yoplait Yogurt Strawberry. 

Even though Liam has been asking to go back to school, I know he isn’t ready to give up days at the pool, sleeping late, and going on multiple play dates during the day. I mean, I’m not either! What has your family been doing this summer? We still have a month left and I’m itching to do something new before this season ends. 

xo,
Annie


*The products mentioned in this post are on sale at the Albertsons Family of stores from July 31st -

August 13th. Products on sale at Randalls retailers may differ. *The

Sunday, July 28, 2019

DONATE TO NO KID HUNGRY WHEN YOU SHOP AT STAGE FOR BACK TO SCHOOL + 4 QUICK AND EASY LUNCHES...







LUNCH TOTE // WATER BOTTLE // ROMPER // LIAM'S SHIRT & PANTS // CHLOE'S DRESS 

Is everyone ready for school to start back up again? Liam has been asking to go back to school for weeks now, but I told him that we still have about a month of summer left to enjoy. I’m humble to share that our family has teamed up with Stage to share how we can all help donate to No Kid Hungry and make a difference in a child’s life. If you’re not familiar with No Kid Hungry, No Kid Hungry is a national organization that is focused on ending childhood hunger. 1 in 6 children in the United States suffer with hunger and over 12 million families live in homes where they don’t have enough food for the entire family. As a mother, I wouldn’t want any child to be hungry or not have their daily meals.
 
My siblings are I are first generation children. My grandparents, mom, uncles, and aunt moved to the United States about 3 years before I was born from Vietnam. My family started with nothing and worked hard and long to build a strong foundation and financial comfort. During the first few years of elementary, my brother, sister, and I depended on our school to feed us breakfast and lunch. Even though that was over 18+ years ago, I still remember that the meals our school provided weren’t fulfilling or as nutritious as our meals at home. I remember some nights where we weren’t able to eat actual meals. Rice and eggs is EXTREMELY affordable to make and that’s what we ate when my family didn’t have the resources for an actual dinner meal. There are 22 million children today that rely on school meals to feed them. We were once a family in need of help and I’m thankful that I’m able to help give back today. 
 
Now through the end of summer, Stage is focusing on giving back by donating 50% of retail sales from select back to school items in stores and online with a minimum of $100,000 in donation. I got this fun avocado lunch tote and water bottle for Liam and 50% of retail sales of these items are donate to No Kid Hungry . There are also 2 other ways you can contribute; post a photo of a meal that gives you strength through the day and add #FUELKIDSFUTURES or make a direct donation here. $5 can provide up to 50 meals to children that are facing hunger! You can also team up with Stage and help end childhood hunger. 

As yall may already know, our family has been shopping at Stage stores for over a decade. I’m a huge advocate of business that continuously give back and that’s just one of many reasons why we always shop at Stage stores. Liam starts school soon! I knew I wanted to get his back to school shopping done early so I could avoid huge crowds. Whether your child’s school has a uniform dress code or not, Stage carries options for both. I picked up two tops to share with yall. This button up top is adorable and comfortable for boys to wear to school. I paired it with these pants which matches majority of Liam’s tops. Liam’s red polo comes in 10+ colors and is available for toddlers and older boys and girls. Stage also carries dresses, skirts, and accessories.
  
Xo, 
Annie 
 
 
QUICK AND EASY SCHOOL LUNCHES
 
When Liam started school last year, I was nervous about making his lunches because at home, we eat a lot of soups and foods that aren’t the best for school (because they get soggy or bad when they sit in the backpack for 3-5 hours). I’ve learned several delicious, nutritious, easy, and affordable meals that I want to share with everyone. I usually add sides to these dishes as well. (like cheese, multi grain crackers, or fruit). 
 
 Zucchini Noodles 
 Zucchini noodles taste delicious and are healthy for you! I added olive oil, mushrooms, and chicken to a pan for about 5 minutes, stirred in the zucchini, and then added salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I cooked everything until the zucchini was about a medium soft. 
 
 Chicken and Rice 
 I cooked rice, broccoli, and chicken (all separately). I combined everything into a pan and added shredded cheese, salt, and pepper. It’s super easy to make (especially since a lot of these ingredients are things you typically have from leftover meals). 
 
 Broccoli Cheese Quesadillas 
 I love making quesadillas for Liam because it’s one of his favorites. Instead of your basic cheese quesadilla, I added leftover chicken and broccoli. 
 
 Chicken Wraps
 I took a tortilla and added chicken and cheese to it. I rolled it up and cut them into little pieces. I added fruit, cheese, and multigrain crackers as sides. 

*Thank you Stage for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DISNEYLAND AND DISNEYWORLD...

Our family has been to the Disney parks a handful of times this year and I feel that I have enough experience to share my advice and thoughts on the two parks. Our family has been to Disneyland with children 3 times and Disneyworld 2 times in the past 4 years. When you and your family are planning a Disney trip, one question I get asked often is which park should I go to? Disneyland or Disneyworld? For me, the answer is pretty simple. If you have children under 6/7, I highly recommend Disneyland, Ca. If you have older children, Disneyworld is for yall!  





DISNEYLAND CALIFORNIA

I’m not going to lie, when I went to Disneyland for the first time for Liam’s 1stbirthday, I was a little disappointed. I had only been to Disneyworld prior and seeing how small Disneyland compared to Disneyworld shocked me. Fast forward 3 years and I wouldn’t think twice about choosing Disneyland over Disneyworld when I’m with my children. Because the park is smaller (you can finish both parks in one day) it’s a lot calmer, easier to navigate, and relaxing. The size is perfect for families with younger children. Disneyland has most of the major rides that Disneyworld has. When you’re at Disneyland you can easily go back to your hotel and take a break. It takes maybe 10 minutes to walk to your car and drive. With Disneyworld, there are trains, ferries, and massive parking lots. Getting in and out of Disneyworld takes an hour itself. We went to Disneyland one night at 6pm and it was so calm. We rode 2/3 rides, grabbed dinner, and went home. It was honestly the most relaxing and enjoyable time. My children are younger so if they don’t take their naps or break, all hell breaks loose. 

Disneyland is split into two parks; Disneyland and California adventures. Disneyland is the main attraction, it has the castle, Disney princess, and OG rides you saw on TV growing up. California Adventure is more of the movie side of Disney. They have more shows and newer movie characters. California Adventures now has Star Wars and Avengers area’s so that was really fun for Liam to see. Disneyland also has “fast passes” available to everyone for free. How it works is that you go up to a “Fast Pass” machine, scan your wristband or ticket, and then it’ll let you know a time frame to come back to get in the fast pass line. So, if you go up to the machine at 1pm, your fass pass might tell you to come back from 3:30pm-4:30pm. You’re limited to how many fast passes you can get per day but not having to wait in long lines for 1 ride makes your day so much easier. You’re able to bring snacks into both parks but the food at Disneyland is pretty good! 

Overall, if you’re looking for a calmer more relaxing Disney trip, Disneyland is for you. We probably won’t take the kids back to Disneyworld for several years because it’s overwhelming with them. Plus, the weather is California most months is AMAZING! Be sure to check the weather forecast when you go because it does get really chilly some nights. 







DISNEYWORLD, ORLANDO

I don’t even know where to start when talking about to Disneyworld. Call me cheesy but I tear up every time I go to Disneyworld. I immediately get that magical feeling that wishes comes true, pure bliss, and all those Disney feelings, lol. Disneyworld is split into 4 parks; Magic Kingdom (main park), Epcot (has more adult rides and cultures), Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios (has the movie side of Disney). I’ve been to all four and Magic Kingdom is a MUST. It will take you most of the day to finish each park because there massive. Plus, the lines are really long. If you have older children, they would love Disneyworld because there are more “adult” rides/roller coasters. If you have younger children, there are plenty of rides but because it’s overcrowded, huge, and really hot, it gets tiring and overwhelming really fast. Disneyworld is in Orlando so it’s humid as well. 

When we went to Disneyworld, we went from 9am-3pm. We rode 3-5 rides per day and was done. We still enjoyed our time but it’s hard to spend the entire day there with little ones. If you’re going with most adults, Disneyworld is the place to be. I’m going next month again for my best friends’ bachelorette party and I’m so excited to be able to experience it without children. I know it sounds bad but when you’re with little ones, you can’t ride all of those big rides. I also don’t have to worry about changing their diaper, making sure they’re cooled down, ect. 

I hope this has helped! If yall have any questions, please feel free to emails or DM me! 

Thank you so much for reading! 

Xo, 
Annie

 

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