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Monday, June 29, 2015

Real Wedding: River Vale, NJ

My friends Laura & Josh tied the knot earlier this month in River Vale, New Jersey at The Estate at Florentine Gardens for a beautiful outdoor ceremony and indoor reception.

I was really impressed with how the couple brought in the latest technology & social media to add to their celebration and to better connect everyone.

Guests were given the custom hashtag #ChasingLaura (the groom's last name is Chaise, so how cute is that?) for any photos uploaded to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We were also given a code to use a free wedding app called WedPics, which allowed everyone to post their mobile pics directly to a group album to view, share and download instantly.

The Knot recently listed the Top 10 Trends in Weddings for 2015 and among which was embracing tech like selfie sticks. Remember years ago, people would put those disposable cameras on the table? Now, brides and grooms should consider adding a Selfie Stick to encourage  candid pics that a wedding photographer wouldn't take. I thought I'd test this idea out and brought with me a Selfie Stick from The Click Stick, which allowed for some fun dance floor pics and large group shots. Sure, I looked a little weird having it around, but I had a blast. The cool thing about this selfie stick is that no batteries nor a Bluetooth connection are needed. It also has a button on the stick itself to snap the final photo. Since I'm petite, it also gave me additional height to snap the perfect pic. I also made this fun video using video that I captured via the stick.

Here are some other real wedding touches that the couple used:

Gotta love a LOVE ice sculpture 

 Peonies make such a bold and fragrant bouquet addition, perfect for a spring wedding 
You can't leave out matching flowers on the cake either

Or colorful rose petals strewn along both sides of the aisle during the ceremony 

 I thought their chuppah was romantic and unique too 

Bold centerpieces  

Oh, and the mint ruffle dress that I wore, I found via this pin on Pinterest! 

As if the beautiful cake wasn't enough, this dessert trio was provided as well and yes, that is an edible chocolate spoon!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

INSIDE OUT Sneak Peek #DisneySMMC

At the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we had the awesome opportunity to see an advanced screening of Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, well at least the first 3/4 of it. Even without seeing the whole thing though, I already fell in love with it. Yes, all of Pixar's films are magical, but this had the charm and sweet sentiment of Up. It was simply adorable, go see it and you'll know what I mean!

The film delves into the little voices inside people's heads, in particular, an 11-year-old girl named Riley. When Riley's family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge of the teenager's emotions.

During the conference, we also had the privilege of hearing from the film's producer Jonas Rivera, who said the story "is a parents love letter to their kids."

Rivera also shared the backstory on the film with inspiration coming from director Pete Docter watching his own daughter go through this turbulent part of growing up. He explained how she was always so happy when visiting their offices, but then when she became a teenager, the happy child all of a sudden was sullen and had her headphones on. Her father then remarked, 'I wonder what is going on in her head' and that's where the idea for the film came to be. However, what they then imagined is just brilliant. I mean, only the folks at Pixar could come up with such a lovely idea.

Inside Out producer Jonas Rivera at #DisneySMMC Photo by Disney - Preston Mack

Plus, the five characters/emotions are so perfectly casted with comedian Lewis Black voicing the role of Anger; Amy Poehler as the infectiously optimistic Joy; Bill Hader is funny as the paranoid Fear; Mindy Kaling is supreme as Disgust; and my favorite, Phyllis Smith as Sadness (not my favorite emotion in myself, but my fave of the characters. She's like a lovable Eeyore).

Meanwhile, the opening animated short Lava was also incredible. It actually made me cry. My husband keeps playing the abbreviated version of the ukulele song featured in the short on YouTube. I can't wait until we can buy the whole song.

Disney•Pixar's Inside Out and Lava opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, June 19, 2015.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On the set of TV's Graceland

I love going on set visits and seeing how the magic happens.

Last month, I was once again on the set of Graceland, USA Network's action-thriller, to interview the cast regarding what's to come this upcoming season. Since they film over in Fort Lauderdale, it was an easy trip.

Season 3 meanwhile, premiers Thursday, June 25, but if you haven't watched this addictive show yet, you can now binge watch on Netflix streaming!

A couple of reporters and I did round-table interviews with the cast in an office space near the sound-stages and after which we did some group shots with the cast.

Here we are with Brooklyn actress, Vanessa Ferlito (CSI: NY, 24, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps).
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
With Brandon Jay McLaren who you might also recognize from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and She's the Man.
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Posing with Serinda Swan (Chicago Fire & Tron: Legacy) and the gorgeous Daniel Sunjata (Grey's Anatomy, Rescue Me and Ranger in One for the Money)

We also went on a tour of the set, which is based on a real house in Malibu, California. It's amazing how much it looks and feels like a real house when you're inside it. Even the fake water backdrops seem real when looking out the windows.

I especially loved the artwork in the home, like this beach girl painting and wooden surfboard:

More pics from our set visit can be found in my Google+ photo album and be sure and read my complete Season 3 Sneak Peek with light spoilers now live on The Huffington Post.

Also, check out photos from last year's set visit experience, which included a visit to the props trailer and a tour from actor Manny Montana

Oh, and my cute dress was a selection from a recent StitchFix delivery! :)
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

You don't know who Bette Midler is??

For my birthday back in December, my hubbie suprised me with Bette Midler tickets for her May concert in Tampa. Not just any tickets though, but FRONT ROW seats! I was beyond stoked.

However, in the weeks leading up to the show, I was shocked to discover that several twenty-somethings that I met didn't even know who Bette Midler is. *SMH* I can maybe, but not really understand, that they might not know her music, but what about her films? These 23-year-old girls didn't even know Hocus Pocus, never mind all her other clasic comedies and dramas, argh!

Having grown up watching her films, I can't think of a time when I didn't know who Bette was. I also saw her in concert when I was 11 and the power of her voice gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes, especially when she sang From A Distance. From there on out I was a Bette fan. In high school I had her keychain on my key ring while my friends were all about NSYNC. Yeah, I never claimed to have been the coolest kid.

Bette is now 69-years-old and still puts on a great show and I really enjoy her wise cracks throughout. Being in the front row was definitely unreal and her voice still had the power to give me chills and make me cry. I was also delighted to see her come out in full Hocus Pocus costume and sing "I put a spell on you," watch bootlegged clip here.

Bette Film Fest

If you know of any other clueless folks out there or simply want to introduce your family to The Divine Ms. M, below is my reccomended film picks.

The Comedies:
  • Ruthless People
  • Outrageous Fortune
  • First Wives Club
  • Big Business
The Tearjerkers:
  • Beaches
  • For the Boys
  • Stella

Bette Midler Triva

Also, here are a few trivia questions that I quizzed my husband and a fan that we met before the show with. How many did you get right? 
  1. What TV mom was once one of Bette's back-up singers?
  2. What famous male singer was once her piano player?
  3. Where was Bette born? 
  4. She was nominated twice for Best Actress Academy Awards, what were the two films?
Answers: 1. Katey Sagal from Married with Children 2. Barry Manilow, 3. Honolulu, Hawaii, 4. The Rose and For the Boys, but sadly no wins :(

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Toddler Play Areas at Walt Disney World

My family and I were in Orlando recently as part of the coveted invite-only Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort ... and two weeks later I'm still riding the high from our adventure.

Why You Need to Take Kids Under 3 to Walt Disney World 

While I've always loved going to Disney's parks as a child and an adult, going as a parent and sharing the experience with my children is on a whole other level of fun. I'm actually at a loss on how to describe the eurphoria of it. It's also a bit surreal that I'm now the parent in the scenario, lol.

Just look at the joy on my kids' faces below, that is exactly how my soul felt seeing them so happy and spending this carefree time with them:

I know most parents say they'd rather wait until their kids get older before they take them to Walt Disney World or Disneyland for the first time, that way they remember it. But why wait? Especially since children age 2 and under are FREE at all of the parks and yes, there is plenty for them to do at each park and the photos alone are so precious (definitely purchase a Memory Maker and enjoy unlimited digital photos like the ones above taken at Disney PhotoPass locations and candid photographers throughout the parks. Tip: save $30 if you pre-purchase before your arrival).

Toddler Play Areas at Walt Disney World

Each Disney theme park has play zones that are perfect for toddlers to run around in, in fact, my twin 2.5-year-old boys liked these areas as much as the rides themselves, see below for a full list.

Magic Kingdom 
  • Waiting area at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In the line for this ride, there is a fun play area that kids can enjoy. We'll do this before and after riding, which they enjoy as much as the ride itself.

  • Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station is a water-based, open play area located inside Fantasyland near the train station in Storybook Circus in Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. It's actually based on the friendly circus locomotive from Walt Disney’s Dumbo. It's perfect for hot summer days to cool off overheated kids and parents.
  • Recommended Toddler Rides: It's a Small World (my boys loved being on the boat and of course all the colorful moving animitronics and the fun, upbeat song), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan's Flight, Dumbo, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. Plus, the parades and going on the Tomorowland PeopleMover and/or the train that goes around the park are always a great way to relax while keeping toddlers occupied. Oh, and doing a Meet with Mickey Mouse is a must, which you can thankfully reserve ahead of time via Fast Pass+ on the free My Disney Experience app or website.

  • SeaBase Aquarium:  After going on the The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride, my toddler twins enjoyed running around the 5.7-million-gallon saltwater aquarium with coral reefs, sharks, dolphins, turtles, manatees and more. Catch the fish feedings at 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • Advanced Training Lab: Little astronauts can participate in space-themed activities and even create space-age postcard in this interactive play area
  • Innoventions: While not exactly for toddlers, little kids can still hang in the air conditioned building as they play with computers and press buttons.
  • Cars Play Garden is another interactive area that is easy to miss, but one you'll want to look for near the popular Test Track ride.
  • Monsters University play area: during the annual Flower and Garden Festival each Spring, there is a temporary Monsters University themed play structure for children ages 2 to 5 with slides, bridges, tunnels and games. There is an older kids structure next to it as well. I only wish it was available all year!
Exploring the Monster's Inc play area
Hollywood Studios

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure: We let them run free in this 11,000-square-foot, enclosed play area with slides, caves and rope paths to climb and explore. We went here twice during our trip. At first, I was trying to follow them, but soon found myself in little crawlspaces, so I then decided to just hang back by the exit and see them dart back and fort
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area at Hollywood Studios
Animal Kingdom:

Who knew this would be our boys favorite park? They got to see animals up-close on the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride and ran wild in The Boneyard.
  • The Boneyard: dig site for kids in the Dinoland area of the park is a great play space for toddlers and preschoolers. There are slides, climbing structures, a big sand box, water zones and much more. Like with Honey I Shrunk the Kids, I liked that this area had canopies and cast members watching the entrance and exit.

    Watch this quick video showing more of this fun space:

More Disney family travel tips:

Bet you weren't aware of these insider secrets about Disney's Animal Kingdom! To pack or not to pack? That is the question. Here are some tips & options to consider for strollers at Walt Disney World #DisneySMMCDisney's Coronado Hotel

Disclaimer: I paid a conference fee to attend the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and was provided with discounted and complimentary items. As always all opinions are my own.
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Monday, May 4, 2015

Upgrading to Hardshell Luggage

Ricardo 2.0 hardshell
As a writer, I was psyched to have received a 4-wheel, hard shell, 360 spinner from Ricardo Beverly Hills for our recent retreat at Walt Disney World Coronado Springs Resort.

I've been wanting hard-sided luggage for some time because they are known for being more durable and lighter. Though not completely water resistant, hard shell luggage is much easier to keep dry in rain, snow, or puddles too, and it provides better protection against general spills and accidents. The same is true for keeping the luggage clean in general. This is a huge perk especially since no matter how much care I took with my previous fabric luggage (see below) it quickly was riddled with black streaks after being forced to check it in at the gate.
My scuffed up fabric carry-on
The Roxbury 2.0 carry-on case features a "split book" style opening, offering two separate compartments for maximized organization. It even has a garmet bag hook to hang and fold a suit or dress.
Garmet hook option
I also love the foam cushioned handles, it makes it so much easier to grab and lift it.

If you have hardshell fever too, the team negotiated a great deal with Ricardo to give readers 65% off and free shipping on orders over $99 when using this exclusive coupon code: TMOM65Off. This deal is only good through May 31.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Looking stylish thanks to RocksBox & StitchFix

I love shoping, but I don't have the spare time or the paitience to browse and when I do, I often find myself going to the same shops and buying the same styles.

For these reasons, I'm loving the convenience of the following personal stylist susbcription boxes. My wardrobe and accessories have come to life with fun new trendy pieces. And those that I'm not into I can simply send back without any additional expense. The end result is making me feel confident and stylish when I go out, even my husband has been commenting on my new chic ensembles.
RocksBox gives you unlimited access to rent designer jewelry for only $19. You get 3 pieces to wear on loan, worth an average of $200 per set. Then, return your Rocksbox pieces anytime and as often as you like for a new set via a free prepaid shipping label both ways. Potentially, you can receive a couple of boxes in one month if you should chose. The box also fits in the mailbox, so it's easier than shopping! If you end up wanting to keep a piece you can buy it at an insider's price too. Your account is also credited $10 each month, which you can use towards any purchases or not.

I often get bored of the accessories that I have or I'll wear it a few times in the begining and then forget about it, but this way I'm able to routinely mix it up and be glamorous as often as I like. Easy way to spruce up an old outfit and I also get to try new things without having buyers remorse or having to spend a lot. It's also a reasonably priced subscription and a fun package to recieve each time.

To start off your subscription you complete a style profile stating the kind of accessories that you prefer and you can even add pieces to your wishlist, which then may appear in a future box set.

From my first box, I loved this simply elegant House of Harlow 1960 Tessellation Cuff in Rose Gold.

Try RocksBox out for FREE for one month with my exclusive blogger code tarametblogxoxo. Unlimited free jewelry for a whole month? You got nothing to lose.

I also have a StitchFix membership, which has a similar premise, but for clothes! A personal stylist will even look at your social channels and Pinterest style board to select fashionable pieces of clothing delivered to your door to try on.  You buy what you like and send back the rest.

There is a monthly $20 stylist fee, however, that $20 gets applied toward anything you keep from your shipment. I've been a subscriber for almost a year now and some months I end up buying all the items and other months I send everything back. Typically I'll end up with at least one or two items that I keep. I've discovered brands I would never have known about, received the latest cuts and trends and the softest skinny jeans that does wonders for my figure. I wore this more professional looking dress that I got to the set of Good Morning America last year. It was the perfect mix of trendy color blocking and a business cut, which suited the situation perfectly.
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Introducing JLuxe Perfume by JLo

It's been a while since I tried a new fragrance. I usually only spritz on perfume on date night or for a special occasion, so as you can imagine, it takes awhile for me to finish a bottle. I was also getting bored with my current selections, so when I was approached to try out JLuxe by JLo for free, I eagerly agreed. JLuxe boasts an oriental, floral scent that includes key notes of juicy pineapple, soft violet and warm amber.

Bonus for me, I like fruity and sweet scents like this one. At first spray, it reminded me of candy and provided an instant lift in my mood and brought a smile to my face. I was actually suprised at how much I liked it and I plan on using it more regulalry in my daily routine.

Fragrance Notes
  • Top: Juicy Pineapple, Bergamot, Sweet Raspberry 
  • Heart: Soft Violet, Damascenian Rose, Orris, Ylang Ylang 
  • Base: Warm Amber, Cedarwood, Musk 
The Packaging for The JLuxe by JLo bottle is inspired by Jennifer Lopez’ love of high-end luxury and animal prints. Sexy and show-stopping, the opaque, square black glass bottle is enhanced with an elegant clear cap. It's also pretty substantial in it's weight and feel.

JLuxe Eau de Parfum is available now at Kohl's for $49. One lucky blog reader will win a full-size bottle by entering the below form. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I was NOT paid for this post, but as stated above I did recieve a free sample for review. All opinions are naturally my own though. 
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