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September 26, 2016

Tips For Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Halloween at Walt Disney World Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Party
When we lived in New England we would go apple picking every fall, but now that we are in Florida we attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom as our new autumn family tradition.

When it's 90 degrees out it's hard to feel the change of seasons amidst palm trees instead of falling leaves. However, thanks to the decorations and activities at Walt Disney World we are able to get in the harvest spirit, which is why we love the Halloween-themed event held each fall on select nights from 7:00 p.m. to Midnight.

Unlike at Disney Land, Mickey's Not So Scary Party requires an additional ticket at WDW outside of general admission or annual passes. Starting at $67 per child and $72 per adult (plus tax) for a one-evening ticket. Reservations are strongly recommended ahead of time especially for dates closer to Halloween.

Tips For Attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World

VIP Tips For attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World

Get Dressed Up But ... 

Last year, I wore a Snow White costume, which made for great photos, but this time we all wore Disney Halloween-themed t-shirts, ears and other accessories for added flair while still being comfortable. Before you arrive dressed up for the occasion though, please read the official costume guidelines at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for children and adults.

Tips for dressing up in costume for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World

Know Before You Go - Consult the Schedule & Map

Besides trick-or-treating and the short queues to rides, there is a LOT to do and only one night to do it all in, so consult the schedule ahead of time. Last year, we missed a few of the shows while caught on the other side of the park. This time though we were determined to see Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade, Celebrate the Magic light show and Happy HalloWishes Fireworks (watch my scope here) and knowing the show times helped us plan accordingly and this time we saw it all and had good spots.

TIP: You don't have to watch the Halloween parade just from Main Street or by the castle. In fact, you can see it sooner and first by Adventureland and near Liberty Square before it makes its way past the castle and ends at the entrance to Main Street, U.S.A. The map for the party indicates the parade route, but people tend to all congregate at the center of the park. However, for the fireworks and other shows you will need to be near the castle or have a view of the castle.

Tips for Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Eat Dinner Before You Arrive 

I know it might be early to eat, but not all of the restaurants are open during Mickey's Not So Scary party and the ones that are have longer than usual lines like at Starlight Cafe. Plus, as soon as you enter you're given candy and you're going to want to eat that anyway, so my tip would be to eat dinner ahead of time and get down to partying as soon as you enter. If eating at the park though, keep in mind that Columbia Harbour House closes at 8 p.m., but a few stay open till 10 and 11 p.m., just consult the program, which has a dining list with closing times. Fortunately, Dole Whip at Aloha Isle is open!

Pose for Photos After

At the start of Main Street there is a great pumpkin display and photo spot that is a must, but the lines in the beginning of the party are quite long and it can be blocked off at times due to the parade or cast members guiding non party guests towards the exit. However, after fireworks the line was less. Love that this photo spot has extra spooky magic too and included the added surprise of ghosts joining our family photo.

7 MORE Tips For Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party With Toddlers & Kids 

Tips for attending Walt Disney World's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party With Toddlers & Kids

Have Fun! 

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September 19, 2016

BRAVO! Introduces New 2-Course Dinner Menu at Mercato

Even before we moved down to Naples full-time we would dine at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana! in the Mercato when we would come to visit. Their outdoor dining and happy hour menu (weekdays from 3:30-6:30 in the bar) is especially inviting.

Following BRAVO!’s hugely successful new menu debut this summer, the restaurant is now introducing a 2-Course Dinner Menu starting at $12.99 and showcasing a selection of five entrées paired with one of three salads, now through Friday, Sept. 30, 2016.

The 2-Course Dinner Menu features dishes from fresh, cut-from-the-sheet pasta to premium quality meats, chicken and seafood with three always-fresh, high-quality Italian salads. Following are the dishes offered on the 2-Course Dinner Menu:

Salads (Choice of one)

  • BRAVO! Chopped Salad with chopped greens, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, olives, Feta cheese and red wine vinaigrette 
  • Insalata Della Casa with chopped greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, bacon, crispy pasta and Parmesan dressing (I ordered this one and it was really light, fresh and tasty. In fact, I ate more than i had expected to)
  • Antipasti Salad with romaine, sopressata, Provolone, peperoncini, red onion, black olives, marinated red peppers, basil, oregano and red wine vinaigrette

Entree: Baked Chicken Parm with Rigatoni

Entrées (Choice of one)

bravo mercato 2-course special Grilled Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato with Goat Cheese in Naples, Florida
Grilled Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato Goat Cheese
  • Pizza BRAVO!: Bursting with Italian flavors, Pizza BRAVO! is topped with spicy sopressata and peperoncinis, smooth mozzarella/provolone, crushed red pepper and parmesan, and finished with fresh basil and a drizzle of lemon aioli. 
  • Baked Chicken Parmesan: An Italian classic with BRAVO!'S delicious hand-breaded chicken covered in Pomodoro and mozzarella/provolone cheeses and baked to perfection. Served on top of a bed of fresh herb linguine. (I substituted linguine with rigatoni pasta instead)
  • Linguine Carbonara: A classic pasta dish made with fresh linguine, Alfredo, garlic, Applewood smoked bacon, fresh peas and a creamy white wine and parmesan sauce. Garnished with fresh black pepper. 
  • Grilled Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato Goat Cheese: Herb-marinated chicken breast, topped with a sun dried tomato goat cheese garnished with lemon butter sauce, pesto bread crumbs and fresh basil. Served with delicious mashed potatoes and perfectly seasoned haricot vert. 
  • Shrimp Scampi Pasta: BRAVO!’s fresh capellini with an abundance of sautéed shrimp, garlic, diced tomatoes, dash of lemon juice in white wine sauce topped with pesto breadcrumbs and a garlic crostini. 

If you're up for it, also order the Crispy Shrimp Napoli appetizer. It was juicy and great for sharing. The creamy red sauce with tomatoes was so yummy we kept dipping our bread in it even after we ate all the shrimp. I would come back just for this dish alone!

Crispy Shrimp Napoli appetizer at bravo mercato in Naples
Crispy Shrimp Napoli app
Also, while I already knew I liked their meals, I was surprised at how amazing their desserts were too since it was our first time ordering them. Go for the Dessert Trio which has three individual petite desserts including Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, Cannoli Crumble and Warm Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie for $9.99. We sadly couldn't finish it all. The creme Brulee was rich and superb and I don't even like Brulee normally. Raphael though loved the Peanut Butter mousee. 

Overall: Bravo! We will be back and now not just for happy hour thanks to affordable promotions like these.  

Disclaimer: Our dinner was hosted by Bravo, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. I only share what I truly like. 
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September 15, 2016

Chuze is Giving $5 free to Everyone

Last Fall, I eagerly blogged about an amazing new app that was still in beta called Chuze, a free shopping list app that rewards users with coupons and organizes your shopping list by aisle tailored to a grocery store near you.

They currently have a great offer going on that I just had to share, because who doesn't like getting free stuff?

Right now, every new person that downloads Chuze and prints & redeems a coupon is being rewarded with $5 being mailed right to their door! This offer is for a limited time only so get claiming!
Get five bucks for simply downloading the free Chuze shopping list app

Plus, there is ALSO the potential of additional savings when you add coupons to your mobile digital shopping list.
Chuze shopping list of deals

Coupons currently being offered in the Chuze app include:

  • $.50 off any 1 Jar of STAR Olives, STAR Vinegar or STAR Olive Oil
  • $.50 off any 2 Gravy Train dog treats
  • $.75 off any #Baby Mum-Mum or Toddler Mum-Mum product
  • $1 off Any Jar of Farmers Garden by Vlasic pickles
  • $1 off 1 bottle of C&H Organic Light Agave Nectar Liquid Sweetener
  • $1 off any Trident Seafoods Product
  • $2 off IcyHot with Lidocaine
  • $2 off 1 bag of #Dole Fruit N’ Spice Frozen Fruit
  • $3 off any 1 trusource protein product
To download and print the coupons, simply add the products to your shopping list and click on the clipping button on the bottom of your list and a PDF with coupons are emailed to you. I like that you don't have to download a coupon printer or any additional driver.

Free Candy for the Neighborhood!

If you buy your costume or holiday supplies at Party City you can score a giant bag of free candy with the following Chuze coupon bundle available for printing. Expires 9/25

  • Free $9.99 Bag - 115 piece Wonka Candy Bag with any purchase of $60+
  • Free $14.99 Bag - 200 piece Wonka Candy Bag OR 160 piece Mars Chocolate Minis Bag with any purchase of $80+
  • Free $19.99 Bag - 270 piece Wonka Candy Bag OR 240 piece Mars Chocolate Bag with any purchase of $100+
They have some other BIG coupon partners coming up too, so stay tuned for more!

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September 7, 2016

3 Simple Tips to Improve Your Home's Air Quality

Did you know indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoor air, even in the most polluted cities?! You can improve your home’s air quality by removing harmful toxins with these three simple tricks and tips.

Add Indoor Houseplants

Improve Your Home's Air Quality with Indoor Houseplants
Branch out your home decor with actual branches of the plant variety that is. Plants remove toxins from air – up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research.

"VOCs are something a lot of us don’t tend to think much about, but the more energy-efficient our buildings become, the more they’re trapped," says Costa Farms horticulturist Justin Hancock

Also, a study by the University of Agriculture in Norway found that indoor plants can also help fight colds.

Fortunately, you can add oxygen and ‘fresh air’ to your home with Exotic Angel houseplant varieties, which make the best indoor and office plants, ideal for sprucing up your space because of their hardy nature and varying lighting needs. Houseplants are also a great way to change the look of your home seasonally, especially if you treat containers and pots as accessories.

I recently redecorated the windowsill in my kitchen, converting a red polka dot teapot that I already had into a planter for a succulent. I think it's darling, no?

cactus planter in a teapot
Succelents double as trendy decor and natural air purifiers
I then found matching polka dot pots and planted a Jade plant, Croton and Dracaena all delivered to my door from Costa Farms exotic indoor houseplants.

TIP: Two of the best easy-care, low-maintenance plants for anyone just starting out with plants are snake plant and ZZ plant says Hancock. He adds, "I sometimes joke that you have to try to kill this houseplant duo with total neglect or consistently over water them."

Change Your Air Filters

Typically, your air conditioner's air filters should be changed every 3 months depending on your home, climate, and situation – yet the average is over 6 months – and that’s for people who remember to change them at all! This means you are wasting energy, losing money on HVAC repairs and energy bills, and families are breathing unclean air. Also, regular filter changes save 5-10% on energy bills.

Changing your filters removes allergens, pet dander, and bacteria from the air keeping
your home clean and your family healthy. Filters clean best when they are new and do a
progressively worse job as they get dirty. This is especially important here in Florida where we run our AC units constantly.

Yet, I'll admit I have been guilty of not changing our filters nearly enough and it has caused a disagreement or two between me and my husband, seriously, lol. Fortunately, I've since discovered Filter Easy to keep us on track and never forget again.

Filter Easy Free Air Filter to Purify your home's air quality FilterEasy is a convenient subscription service that delivers your filters right to your door when they need to be changed - so you will never forget again or have to bother going to the store and picking them up again either and delaying the change time further. Simply select your exact filter sizes and preferred filter grade (they have lots of sizes available). Schedule the your frequency and they will automatically arrive at your door in time for changing. I expected the convenience to be expensive, but shipping is free and the filters cost the same as my local hardware store, so I'm never going back.

TIP: Get Your First Filter FREE

Get Free $20 to spend on, so that's like getting one air filter for FREE, plus free shipping (although, shipping is always free), and you can cancel anytime. No membership fees. No commitment. Nothing to lose, but your dirty old filters. ;)

Buy A Himalayan Salt Lamp & Charcoal Bag

When the 200-million-year-old crystallized salt is heated by the small bulb inside, it releases negative ions which are known to neutralize pollutants in the air. Probably the most well-known benefit – and why the majority of people use them – is due to their incredible power to remove dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, and other contaminants from the air.

How? They attract water molecules from the surrounding environment then absorb those molecules – as well as any foreign particles they may be carrying – into the salt crystal. As the lamp warms up from the heat produced by the light bulb inside, that same water then evaporates back into the air and the trapped particles of dust, pollen, smoke, etc remain locked in the salt.

Real Himalayan salt lamps are hand chiseled solid blocks of ancient crystal salts. They have a beautiful pink color, often pinkish orange, due to the high concentration of minerals.

Fragrance Free, Chemical Free and Non-Toxic, the natural moso bamboo charcoal bag effectively absorbs odors, allergens and harmful pollutants. It also prevents mold, mildew and bacteria from forming by absorbing excess moisture. Best of all, you can reuse it for up to two years, to rejuvenate just place the bags outside in the sun once a month for about an hour. Covers 90 square feet. We put ours in the closet that houses our AC unit. I just added two more bags to my holiday wish list. Who knew I'd actually want coal for Christmas? lol. 

After two years as an air purifier, the Moso Bag will make a wonderful addition to your garden. Simply sprinkle the bamboo charcoal into the soil, where it helps plants absorb moisture and nutrients. This completes its life cycle as a product that comes from the earth and ultimately gives back to the earth. Love it!

Pin this Post Please:

Cheap and Easy Ways to Purify Home Air - 3 Simple Tips
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August 25, 2016

Cruising on Disney Dream with Preschoolers

Cruising Disney Dream with Toddlers and PreK
Our first Disney Cruise and cruising with toddlers / prek kids on Disney Dream.

Disney Cruise with Toddlers & Preschoolers

Growing up I had went on three memorable cruise ships with my father. We even sailed on Disney's The Big Red Boat when I was a little girl. During these vacations together, just the two of us, we made memories I'll forever cherish. These trips are even more poignant now that he has passed away.

Now, over 25 years later, I was able to travel with my own children on a magical Disney Cruise voyaging on the Disney Dream for a 3-night sailing to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. The cruise exceeded our expectations and was an unforgettable family experience that I know I will always treasure too.

While Raphael and I have gone on several cruises as a couple, this was the first time we took our almost four-year-old twins aboard and our first time experiencing Disney Cruise Line. While we always planned to take our boys eventually, we had assumed they were still too young to enjoy and appreciate it, but evidently we were wrong.

During the week's leading up to our trip, our boys kept telling everyone they met that they were going on Mickey's boat. Their excitement was almost palpable and turned into pure joy once aboard. Yet, I still worried how it would go once at sea, would they get seasick, would they be able to sleep in bunk beds, what about the dangers of the balconies would they be okay being left at the Kids Club for awhile when we dined alone one night?

In the end, I had stressed for nothing. I had failed to realize that Disney would have parent's backs. The same care, focus on families and attention to detail that I love at Disney Parks carries seamlessly over to their ships too. Merrily things rowed along without incident. In fact, it was all effortless, we could simply have fun without a care in the world. It really is a dream, see why:

Child Safety On Disney Cruises

During our sail, we learned that the ship was built specifically in mind for children and families. All openings and railings were double-checked to make sure a child's head couldn't fit through them. Even our stateroom's balcony had glass slats in between the bars for extra protection and security. Such wonderful peace of mind for parents.

Disney Cruise Line is also the only cruise ship that has lifeguards on duty at their pools, as well as on the beaches of Castaway Cay. I observed first hand how diligent these aquatic guardians were in their watching when they quickly came to the rescue of a fatigued 8-year-old girl within seconds even before her parents who were standing nearby had realized what had happened.

I was especially floored to learn that the 5th floor, where the kids club can be found on the Disney Dream, has lower ceilings to make children feel more comfortable. It's touches like that which assured me they were in good hands.

Disney's Oceaneer Kids Club & Small World Nursery

Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Lab are open to 3-to-12-year-old children and transports kids to the magical lands of Disney fairies, friendly monsters, adventuresome toys and undersea exploration. The space is large, but well staffed and full of entertainment.

I feared our boys would be overwhelmed by it, but there was so much for them to see and do they were too busy exploring and playing to think about it. They primarily played in the toddler friendly Andy's Room and colored in Pixie Hollow. Meanwhile, seeing a Star Wars Millennium Falcon replica had this mommy tripping! It was all I could do not to sit in the captain chairs and press warp speed myself.

During our trip we checked them into this area after breakfast, but before lunch for two hours while Raphael went to the gym and I went off to explore the ship and take photos. We also utilized this free convenience one evening to partake in the adult-only restaurant Palo. As soon as our meal was over, I hurried to pick them up thinking I was rescuing them. Silly mommy. Instead, they started whining when they saw me, because they didn't want to leave. Apparently, they had just made cookies with a chef and were waiting to have their treats. They had on little pastry chef hats and aprons, it was adorable!

Adults are only allowed in the kids area during open house hours and can not access the area where children have been dropped off. Thus, I felt confident they were secure and in good hands when we were not with them.

Also, in order to check children in and out of the kids club area a password is required along with scanning a child's Magic Band, which are provided to children once you register them into the system. Kids club staff can also locate exactly where your children are via these bands. So, when we picked them up the front desk area they would tell us which room each boy was in at that moment.

Meanwhile, for infants and toddlers not potty trained there is the It’s a Small World Nursery (included in the video below as well), however, this childcare area costs 9/hr, but still a bargain compared to babysitter rates. I thought the space was calm, colorful, and great for little children.

TIP: Pre-register your children online for the kids club, so when you get on the ship you simply have to pick-up their Magic Bands. Also, don't forget to return the bands before you disembark or you will be charged for them.

Family Dining on Disney Cruises

I was really impressed with the quality of food, service and attentive staff.

Disney Cruise Dining Options for Kids
Dining at Royal Palace
Although you are assigned a set time and table to eat at each night, Disney Cruise Line developed an innovative rotational dining concept that remains exclusive to the Disney fleet. Guests get to enjoy different restaurants for dinner each night and still have the same set of servers who also rotate with them. Thus, guests enjoy a variety of dining experiences with friendly, familiar, personalized service.

Without requesting it our dinner table always had two booster seats, cups of water with plastic lids with our boys names written on them and crayons and paper. We just sat down and ordered. It was effortless. If only that could happen every time we ate out. *sigh*

Animator's Palate was by far the boys favorite dinner thanks to interactive video walls featuring the turtle Crush from Finding Nemo, who would play games and talk to the dinner guests around him. Very similar to Turtle Talk at Epcot. Even when Crush wasn't making an appearance, different characters would float by making appearances and entertaining our little ones. They would get excited each time they'd spot another familiar character. There was also this part where a school of fish kept making different shapes and objects and encouraged the children to call out what they were forming e.g. a boat, a pirate flag, etc. Ben eagerly yelled out Boat to the screen, it was great seeing him so engaged while their food was being prepared.

As mentioned earlier, we also had a romantic dinner at Palo without the children one evening. This restaurant requires a reservation and is for adults only. There is an extra charge of $30 per person, but it was well worth it thanks to plush tables that overlook the ocean on the top deck. Time your dinner to close to sunset for extra romance. The lobster linguine and strip steak were amazing. Be sure and order the soufle for dessert too. More on this experience here.

In addition, there is a grand buffet at Cabanas, which we tried for lunch the first day and for breakfast (Mickey waffles!). Room service is also included and we ordered PB&J to the room for the boys and also got fries and pizza to go from Flo’s Café for a quick bite up on deck 11 by the pool. Since my boys are obsessed with Disney Pixar's Cars they loved the them of this quick service stand.

TIP: If you're with younger children request the 5:45 p.m. dining time as the other 8:15 option is too late and you'll have to rush to catch the live shows after too. You can also make a reservation at Remy or Palo online before you set sail.

Entertainment on the Disney Dream Cruise Ship

Disney Dream with Twins
Besides the water sides, pools, splash pads, movie theater (we watched Finding Dory again!), mini golf and ongoing schedule of fun activities, Disney Cruise Line ups the entertainment ante and lights up the sky with a fireworks extravaganza like only Disney can do.

Every night is show time in the Walt Disney Theatre, an elegant 1,340-seat entertainment palace that spans three decks with orchestra and balcony seating. We weren't sure how our boys would do during a live theater performance, but they were glued to their seats thanks to the familiar songs, colorful costumes, high value sets and spectacular stunts like Tarzan spinning from a rope in The Golden Mickeys' to Mary Poppins flying on stage in Disney's Believe. Best of all, we enjoyed the shows as much as the children. It felt like we were on Broadway.

Our Disney Cruise Stateroom 

disney cruise bunk beds for kids
On a Disney cruise, staterooms are family-size and come with a split bath with tub AND a shower. We've never been in a cruise room with a tub and it was ideal for bathing the boys after their sandy adventures ashore on Castaway Cay.

The boys especially LOVED the bunk bed option in our room with the sofa converting into a bed and the upper part folding down from the ceiling. Each night our steward would open it for us and have the beds ready for bedtime when we returned to our room.

Best of all, there is a privacy curtain in the room separating the bunk bed area and the Queen size bed, which was a super comfy mattress for a cruise ship by the way. This privacy screen though allowed us to do some reading while the boys took a nap or turned in before us, making the room feel like two bedrooms instead of one. Such a great feature for families.

Oh, and besides the live channels offered on the flat screen television in the room there is an on-demand feature too, where you can access almost all of Walt Disney’s animated films regardless of them being in the Disney Vault or not. This allowed us to show the boys some classics that we didn’t have on DVD like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Lion King. This was great, because we could always put on age appropriate content for them while we got ready or packed.

Want to see more? You can also watch this Periscope tour of the room too.

More Disney Cruise Tips

Check out my list of What to Pack for a Disney Cruise and Raphael's recap of the best Adult Options on the Disney Dream Cruise Ship.

Tips for Going on a Disney Cruise with Toddlers & Preschoolers

Disclaimer: I traveled on the Disney Dream as part of a FAM Media Tour. All thoughts and opinions though are of course my own. 
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August 10, 2016

Duffy's Sports Grill Debuts Best of Land + Sea Menu

A fun thing about moving to Florida has been discovering the different state chains that aren't offered up North. Since moving down here, we have been enjoying Duffy’s Sports Grill, Florida’s premier sports-themed restaurant concept with 33 locations in Florida. Fortunately for us, one such grill is only right down the street from us in Estero at Stoneybrook. There is also two more nearby in Ft. Myers and Cape Coral too.

We typically go on Wednesdays on Kids Eat Free night with our boys or on Sunday's for the NFL Ticket (Go Broncos!). Best of all, it's a place we can take the kids to and are welcomed. They have crayons, highchairs and on Wednesdays a balloon artist too. The TVs also keep our boys entertained while the food arrives.

beer battered Mozzarella Sticks at Duffy's

Last week we were able to catch the Olympics as we ate. As you can see, they have plenty of screens to choose from. They even have a television playing in the bathrooms.

Duffys in Estero Stoney Brook

Their menu changes seasonally, offering new options every few months to keep things interesting. This summer for a limited time only, they are celebrating the best of land and sea with the launch of their new seasonal Surf or Turf specials such as Lobster Street Tacos, USDA Prime Steak Salad, 24 oz. Prime New York Strip served with herb butter on top and Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl-sushi-grade yellowfin tuna, hand cut and tossed in a signature poke sauce, served over cilantro-lime rice and topped with avocado, scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

12 oz Prime NY Strip with maitre d' butter 

Go in hungry, because we particularly enjoyed their starters. Take a look:

Besides the food, we LOVE their drink deals, which include BOGO specials all day, every day. Currently, their handcrafted  2-for-1 seasonal cocktails include – an Apple Tart-ini or Pear…fect Martini, featuring hand-muddled pear, fresh sour mix, and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, garnished with a slice of pear. During our recent visit, we ordered the Guavatini and a Gummy Bear Mojito that's dangerously easy to drink and garnished with real gummy bears. Since gummy bears are my favorite candy, I was in sweet tooth heaven!

Duffy's Gummy Bear Mojito and Martini

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July 27, 2016

National Chicken Tender Day at PDQ

Source: PDQ
You might think it's just another Wednesday, but today is also National Chicken Tender Day (July 27).

In honor of this very delicious day, PDQ, which stands for People Dedicated to Quality, is providing codes for FREE chicken tenders. Anyone who signs up now for the PDQ Fan Club at PDQ before Sunday, July 31 will receive a coupon for 3 Free Chicken Tenders and other offers.

PDQ, which has 55 locations nationwide and counting, is a fast casual restaurant specializing in fresh hand-battered chicken tenders, made-to-order sandwiches, daily cut fries, hand-spun milkshakes and fresh salads made in store, everyday.

The location by me at Gulf Coast Town Center in Ft. Myers is very kid-friendly and immaculate. Inside there are TVs playing sports programming and by the Coke machine there is a sink that is operated with your foot via a peddle, which kids can reach. Mine enjoyed washing their hands before eating for a change. Yay! Also, by the cash register they have crayons and coloring paper available, which was a hit with my boys too. Outside meanwhile they have two corn hole bean bag toss boards set up, which they also played with before going inside to eat.

PDQ Gift Card Giveaway:

To help When Tara Met Blog readers celebrate National Chicken Tender Day properly, PDQ is providing the chance to win a $25 gift card to sample some of their yummy tenders. Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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July 25, 2016

LeapFrog's LeapStart Interactive Learning Books

LeapStart Learning System
I'm always looking for age appropriate learning tools for my twins as they continue to discover and grow.

As a LeapFrog Mom Squad member, we recently tested out their latest learning solution, the new LeapStart ($39.95), an all-in-one interactive early learning system for Preschool through 1st grade, jam packed with key school and life skills for curious 2-7-year-olds.

The LeapStart works with a library of replayable activity books (not games) that are sold separately for $12.99 each. The device comes with a sampler book though to get you started. Each book focuses on different skills from reading and writing to math, coding and STEM and more. Every book has the proper age range recommendation listed, which is super helpful.

Once a parent registers the device, you then need to download the compatible audio for the activity book, but it's pretty easy to do so. The book's binding then gets inserted into the LeapStart holder, much like an old school Trapper Keeper, but without the scary claws.

A pen-shaped stylus is connected to the device and encourages fine motor skills and supports proper writing grip. With this pointer children then tap to discover more within the book and solve the questions being asked in the different activities. Kids can tap any page or image to activate audio responses and play tasks designed to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

My Take: This is the perfect aged tool for my preschool boys right now as they start to trace, learn their numbers and practice letter recognition. I also like that while it incorporates technology, it's not another screen, but more like an interactive book. In fact, it needs a book to make it work. Unlike a delicate screen that I have to make sure they don't drop or break, the LeapStart is kid-tough. My twins have even stood on it and all was well, although of course I don't recommend doing that.

The Twins Take: They like it, especially the activities that incorporate music and songs, which most do. Because it folds like a laptop, they call it their computer. The other day while I was working on my laptop, Logan went and got his LeapStart. I looked over to see him studiously tapping away alongside me as I typed. It was too cute.

Your Take: Enter below to win your own LeapStart learning system and try it out with your kiddos! :)

As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador I receive products, promotional items and educational material to use and share as I see fit. However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience. Links may be affiliate.
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