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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tools to Fight Frizz & Humidity and Get Shiny Healthy Hair

Since moving down to Florida and it's balmy weather, my hair went from New York sleek to Hermione the early years.

A year later, I've finally figured out how to manage it without needing an iron, but through affordable serums, leave-in conditioners and by even changing my hair brush. Now, my hair is actually shinier than ever. In fact, my mother even commented on it the other day, so if that's not the seal of approval, I don't know what is.

How to Avoid Frizzy Humidity Hair:

Monica's frizzy Barbados hair
  • * Do not wash hair daily - Only wash hair every other day to avoid drying out hair. Natural oils in the hair actually help keep a handle on frizz.
  • * Air dry & blow dry! Even when the brilliant sun will dry your hair for you, don't do it! While you should let your hair air dry as much as possible, I found doing it only halfway was the happy medium. Then I blow dry the rest on low heat for a nice polish, this will keep the waves out, frizz down and leave your hair shinier.
  • * Don't skimp on conditioner - I used to go light on the conditioner, not wanting my hair to seem oily, but since putting more conditioner on the ends of my hair I've noticed less breakage, thus less flyaways as a result to damaged hair. 
  • * Use a Clean Radiance hair brush  - The popular hair accessory brand Goody launched Clean Radiance in October, a new hairbrush line that is striving to change the hair brush game. Clean Radiance brushes have copper bristles to massage the scalp and work through the hair to reduce buildup and restore your hair's natural moisture balance for a healthier shine. The directions say brush hair 2-3 times per day on dry hair for maximum benefit, so I gave it a try. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that by the very next day I saw a difference and my mom even commented on how nice and shiny my hair looked. I was like, 'wow, that was fast!' However, optimal time to start seeing results for this brush is 7-10 days, so get brushing! I've now been touching up my hair at least 2-3 times a day if not more with the Clean Radiance brush. I keep it on my desk for easy access. It won't replace your normal hair brush for styling, but helps enhance your current routine.You can pick up yours in the haircare aisle at Walmart!
    Copper bristles massage the scalp and work through the hair to reduce buildup that occurs in hair over time, and restores natural moisture balance in hair.
  • * Try Infusium 23 Leave-in-Treatment- I was introduced to Infusium 23 during BlogHer this summer. I wasn't familiar with the line before, but it can actually be found at Walmart and Target. This miracle therapy spray with moringa oil extracts prevents breakage, smoothes cuticles and tames flyaways. I've been spritzing it into my wet hair before combing it out.

  • *Add Biotin to your diet! - When I was pregnant and taking pre-natal vitamins my hair and nails were healthier than ever and the main reason is because of the extra biotin in these pills. This B vitamin promotes hair growth and overall scalp health. A deficiency can cause brittle hair. Now, I take Nature Made VitaMelts Hair Skin & Nails, they are easy to take without water since they are smooth melting tablets that dissolve in your mouth. I also keep this little container in my desk drawer and to will take one whenever I spot the bottle. Try it, you'll thank me later! It's strawberry lemonade flavor make it taste like candy too! You can also eat high-biotin foods like peanuts, almonds, wheat bran, salmon, low-fat cheese and avocados.

What are some of your hair tips for battling humidity, sun damage and frizz?

Disclaimer: Thanks to Acorn Influence, Goody Hair, and Walmart for sponsoring today’s post. As always, all stated opinions are my honest thoughts and these are all products that I actually use and chose to include #CleanRadiance
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party with Toddlers

While Walt Disney World is always magical, there's something even more magical in the air there during the holidays. Before moving to Florida I thought Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party was just a name for the holiday season at the park. However, it's much MORE.

Like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (read those tips here), a separate ticket is required for admission to the evening's party, thus not open to general day ticket holders making the evening feel like a real party.

Besides the typical live entertainment, parade and fireworks that we were expecting, we were also delighted by the different Candy Cane Treat stations throughout the park providing free cookies, apple slices (thankful for the healthy option for my younger duo, especially by our third stop, lol) apple juice and hot chocolate. The cocoa was amazing actually. I had two cups of the sweet chocolate goodness.
My elves enjoying hot cocoa & cookies at MVMCP
My elves enjoying hot cocoa & cookies at MVMCP with nana
I heard rumors that the Holiday Wishes fireworks were the best and it's so true. The grand finale left me gaping as fireworks were going off in other areas of the park, not just in the same place by the castle. It was definitely grand.

My favorite part of the night though was the “snowfall” on Main Street before the parades and then at the end of the evening. My boys especially thought this was fun and were squealing with delight as the snow fell on their faces. Especially seeing snow in Florida made me homesick, but in a good way.
It's snowing in Florida! 

Tips for Going to MVMCP with Toddlers:

  • * There's a North Pole photo station next to City Hall near the park's entrance, so definitely take the opportunity to snap holiday photos with Santa. It beats going to the mall. Keep in mind though, Santa needs to leave during the parade, since he's a guest star in it. The key is to go just before the first or second parade starts, while people are lining up to save their spot. 
  • * To go with the above photo spots, you might want to take the opportunity to dress the family in holiday colors and get your holiday cards out of the way. My boys kept getting compliments for their red and green shirts. 
  • * Most of the kiddie rides like It's a Small World, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, Little Mermaid, etc. only have 10-15 minute wait times, especially after 7 p.m. 
  • * Due to the treat stations occupying several of the normally running fast food booths and stations, dinner options were limited. Maybe eat before going to the park or book a reservation ahead of time at The Crystal Palace for a kid-friendly buffet with character meet-and-greets. 
  • * A great place to catch the snowfall is by the Emporium and large Christmas Tree at the start of Main Street before the parade starts. It's not as crowded as the snowfall areas on Main St. closer to the castle. 
  • * Bring your own glow sticks, or be prepared to buy one, as every kid seemed to have some sort of light on them. The good thing, this helped to keep track of my kids as the night wore on.
  • * If your kids like to dance and hop around, be sure and take them inside the Starlight Cafe for a Holiday Dance Party with Phineas and Ferb. While my boys aren't familiar with the Disney XD cartoon yet, they weren't shy about bopping around to the DJ's tunes with the other children. It also allowed mommy and grandma to sit at one of the tables and rest for a bit, lol. There's also a bathroom inside there for potty breaks without the lines. 
  • * While the party officially starts at 7 p.m., guests who arrive early will not want to miss Queen Elsa using her powers to transform Cinderella's Castle into a glistening ice palace at 6:15 p.m. 
  • * Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is at 8:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., with the fireworks spectacular Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season beginning at 9:30 p.m. 
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is only available on select nights from November 08 - December 18, 2015. Be sure to purchase your ticket early as it's definitely a popular event for families across the nation to attend. Happy Holidays!
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Style & Life Hacks from #ChevyPlayMiami

Just got back from playing in Miami with Chevrolet thanks to SheBuysCars #ChevyPlay social program, which provided a group of us with an exclusive peek at the newest GM cars, tickets to the Miami Auto Show as well as some valuable life and beauty hacks.

Getting an inside look at the 2016 Chevrolet Suburban
(3 rows and such a tricked out ride!)
Style Hacks from Miami Style Mom:
  1. Go through your closet and get rid of things you don’t wear. 
  2. Go with what you’re comfortable with, and that means don’t wear every trend at once. 
  3. Fringe is the big fall/holiday trend, but only wear it on one item at a time, so it's the focal point.
  4. Wear boots and scarves this winter even if you're living in Florida. 
  5. Pull out all that dainty, pretty jewelry you put away a few years ago; it’s back!

Life Hacks from Ryan at Code Fever Miami:
  1. Focus on outcomes not assignments. 
  2. Involve your community in everything you create. 
  3. Don't reinvent the wheel, steal lessons learned from those that have done it well and improve upon them. 
  4. Have your kids learn to code, girls too!
Chevy Hacks:
  1. All 2016 Chevrolet vehicles will come with WiFi - this allows for GM to wirelessly deliver updates, thus less trips to the dealership and allows families always to stay connected. There is a wireless button found on the rear view mirror, simply press it and connection details will display on the screen below. 
  2. New Apple CarPlay in Chevy vehicles will allow drivers to access Pandora, Spotify and other apps right on the infotainment screen when connected by a USB cord (not Bluetooth). 
  3. Everyone looks HOT in front of a Corvette, especially the Z06! It's my new bestie, lol!


Join me on November 12, 7-8 p.m. ET for a #ChevyPlayMiami Twitter Party

Follow #ChevyPlayMiami #ILikeThatCar @SheBuysCars @TheSistersHood, @biggreenpen, @Coolchillmom, @whatsupmamis, @MommyMafia, @miamimommysavings, @HeLoEnterprises, @zeinabkristen, @bNiiontweet, @tarametblog, @ssstyle1

Enter to win below by answering a few simple questions; each answer qualifies as an entry to win. Winners must be able to pick up tickets to the Miami Auto Show in person; no accommodation for travel, parking or other expenses will be made. Value of each prize $40.

HOW TO ENTER: To be eligible, you must:

Enter to win in the Gleam widget below. You can enter up to 5 times!
Have at least one unique Tweet (other than a reTweet) on the Twitter party from 7-8 p.m. ET on November 12, 2015.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

What's Included at Beaches Resorts Turks & Caicos?

To make a long post short, pretty much everything!

Yes, the waters are really this blue, no filter needed.
Thanks to Beaches Moms Social Media on the Sand conference, this was our second time vacationing as a family to Beaches Turks and Caicos with our twin toddlers and honestly, the resort makes traveling internationally with children like a day at the beach! 

Forget any preconceived misconceptions of all-inclusive resorts that you may have with buffet lines, and dingy rooms, etc. Beaches Resorts is on a different level. Luxury included, 5-star service!

Here is a list of just some of the 'Luxury Included' perks that come with your vacation price:
  • Shuttle transfers to and from the airport.
  • Tips! The resort has a no tipping policy. 
  • Childcare is included with the price of your vacation too (dealbreaker!). Their  kids camp, Camp Sesame, is open for all ages including infants and toddlers! The camp has its own kids pool, toys and activities like baking cookies with Cookie Monster that Ben keeps talking about. 
  • Sesame Street characters are on-site and do live nighttime stage shows that kids will love.
  • Quality food at 20 specialty dining options from Italian, Japanese, French, an English pub and more. We still haven't tried them all! 
  • Unlimited top-shelf liquor from the refreshing, tropical welcome cocktail when you check-in (yes, please!) generous pours of Robert Mondavi wine with dinner (go with the Cabernet) their partnership with Remy, so Dewar's White Label whiskey is available too along with other brand names, combined with easy pool access to 3 swim-up bars for some fun, frozen concoctions (order a Humming Bird!) plus, a fully stocked wet bar with sodas, beer, liquor, wine and champagne in concierge suite rooms. 
  • Water sports including kayaks and Scuba diving in the beautiful azure waters that PADI voted as the Top 5 in the world (we went snorkeling!).
  • Friendly staff. I swear everyone was so kind to my boys, trying to make them smile, giving out high fives, asking their names, etc. One woman made us a message out of flowers that spelled out "Enjoy" on our table top! For our 7-year anniversary they also gave us a special dessert that had 'Happy Anniversary' in chocolate. 
  • Incredible family memories! OK that one is sort of like a hidden promise, but definitely real ;) 
Plus, lots more like  the Caribbean's largest water theme park, which is on property. Great for all ages, Pirates Island Waterpark features nine slides including small ones for younger kids, a lazy river, surf simulator, water cannons and spray features. Even though our boys are only barely 3-years-old, they loved the Water Park most of all. In fact, after we got home and I picked them up from school, I asked them what they wanted to do and they said "waterpark!" lol They are in for a rude awakening.

Here's a video of the water park and the fun my boys had (they even hugged each other!):

When traveling with two toddlers, there’s normally a lot of gear you have to bring, but not at Beaches. They had two cribs setup in our room right at check-in for us and we rented a red wagon ($10/day) for carting them around the large campus. All of the restaurants are kid-friendly with child menu items and highchairs were always available, which is such a relief. I’m relaxing just remembering it.

Basically, if you're looking for the most comprehensive all-inclusive family vacation on a resort that offers every imaginable amenity - Beaches Turks & Caicos is for you!

Are you planning on traveling to Beaches with infants or toddlers? Here is Every Tip You Need to Take Toddlers to Beaches Ocho Rios and Tips for Traveling to Beaches Turks & Caicos with Infants & Toddlers
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Make Your Own Halloween Costumes at Party City

My favorite holiday has always been Halloween from dressing up as a kid, to donning dorky couples costumes with my husband and now dressing up as a family for a fun night of trick or treating. 

However, as much I’d love to be the mom who makes her children a homemade costume, that just ain’t me. Fortunately, this year Party City and Chuze made it easier for us. Party City’s easy Make Your Costume Mix and Match sections allowed us to go outside the typical pre-packaged costume to customize based on each member of our family. 

Chuze meanwhile is a FREE shopping app that creates exclusive bundles of coupons that go together. Every time one goes live on the app you'll get an email inviting you, so you won't miss a thing. An exclusive Party City coupon launched this week for last minute holiday shopping. I ended up saving $20.99 on my haul.

To save simply click on the image below and download the PDF coupon for printing and bring to your local Party City store OR enter HALLOWEEN BUNDLE in the search bar of the app to get 20% off $70 or more at Party City expires 10/31/15. Have fun shopping!

 20% off at Party City Save 20% at Party City

With my husband named Raphael, we naturally went with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme this year. I selected a fun glittery TMNT skirt for women and matching top (I decided not to grab the tights though); a t-shirt for my husband with matching Ninja Raphael sunglasses instead of the typical eye mask; and two cute toddler hats for my twin boys that I’ll pair with TMNT shirts that they already own from The Children’s Place. 

They had fun green turtle hands too, but I knew they wouldn’t stay on their quick paws for more than 30 seconds, lol. Best of all, I got all four outfits, plus accessories for under $85 and had a blast selecting the different items and customizing our looks.

Why is the mix and match shopping feature at Party City so great? Oh let me count the ways …

  • ·         When you have toddlers, paying $45 each for an outfit in a bag that they will only wear once is hard to stomach, especially when they are picky and won’t wear the entire ensemble anyway.
  • ·         You can upgrade your current costume with fun extras from a wand, new accessory, hoodie, matching sunglasses etc.
  • ·         When everyone is going as Elsa, this allows your child to be a little different than the one-size-fits all Elsa costume.
  • ·         You can mix and match, so why not be a Princess Ninja?!
  • ·         You can utilize stuff you already own and just plus it up. Already have a Captain America t-shirt, just pick up the shield and you’re an Avenger.
  • ·         Depending if you live up North or down South, the ‘Make Your Own’ section has options for both cold and warmer weather. Being down in Florida this is great, since the outfits in the bag are usually too warm or bulky for October here. Plus, numerous genres had winter hat and tight accessories to keep you warm for colder Halloween nights too.
  • ·         It’s not just for kids, they have the same characters with adult options too.
  • ·         They have boy and girl options for even the typically male characters. They had adorable TMNT, Sponge Bob, Minions and Batman costumes for girls too. 

Disclaimer: I am honored to be a Chuze blog ambassador
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Kids Eat Free Restaurants in Estero & Ft. Myers, Florida

Having two picky eaters, we are all about visiting restaurants that are kid-friendly and offer "Kids Eat Free Options" or offer some sort of deal. Otherwise, $5+ per kids meal, per kid, quickly adds up. Not to mention that it's wasteful, when they only eat a few bites to begin with.

Fortunately, since moving down to Southwest Florida there is a plethora of kids eat free options in the area for every day of the week. Below is a calendar listing of the places we've found.

"Kids Eat Free" restaurants in Estero and Ft. Myers:

Kids Eat Free in Estero and Ft. Myers Florida
Every Day:
  • Pinchers Crab Shack -  Under 10, kids get a free kids drink along with several kids entrees that come with a side from fries to a fruit cup, with purchase of an adult entree. 
  • Rib City - Under 4 years-old your kids meal is free! - One piece of chicken and fries - Dine In Only.
  • Sweet Tomatoes - 2 and under eat free. Love the healthier food options found in the salad bar too and wholesome ingredients.
  • Blu Sushi - Double check your bill or confirm with waitress as they don't always automatically deduct it. 
  • Applebees - $1.99 kids meal deal, so practically free. Max 2 kids meals per check.
  • Iguana Mia - $1.00 kids meals, plus free chips and salsa to start. 
  • Ruby Tuesday - Kids eat free on Tuesday's after 5 p.m.
  • Stir Crazy at Coconut Point - Kids eat free with adult entree.
  • Denny's - kids eat free with purchase of an adult meal from 4-10 p.m. 
  • Moe's Southwest Grill - Kids eat free with purchase of adult entree. 3 p.m.-close. 
  • Pizza Hut - Tuesday kid's night buffet. Kids 10 and under eat free with each adult buffet purchased at regular price. Not available at all locations. 
  • Beef O'Brady's - One free kids meal with a purchase of an adult meal, 12 & under.
  • Texas Roadhouse - $1.99 meals. Limit 2 kid's meal discounts per 1 adult entree purchased.
  • Duffy's - Kids Eat Free All Day Everyday Wednesday! Also, a balloon artist is there to entertain kids as well. 
  • Stir Crazy at Coconut Point - Kids eat free with adult entree.

Call ahead for current guidelines as they are constantly changing. I will try my best to continually update this list though, so please do bookmark or pin it for updates. 
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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Meet the new Play All Day Elmo toy

While working in NYC last week for New York Bridal Fashion Week, I was able to sneak in some time for a quick blogger event too - Playskool and Hasbro's #PlayAllDayElmo Preview!

Sadly, I didn't have the boys with me, because they would have LOVED playing with all the Sesame Street inspired toys that filled the room and seeing the Muppet characters too.
Hanging with Grover and Dancing Hot Dogs
The new interactive Play All Day Elmo ($59.99) toy has 150+ responses, plus 8 games and activities to help keep kids engaged. It also has 2 modes of play to encourage both younger and older children to have fun. Ages 18m+
  • In Toddler mode, young children can enjoy basic cause-and-effect play, like tickling Elmo or squeezing his nose to see how Elmo might respond. 
  • In Preschool mode, preschoolers can take play to the next level with games and activities. They can actually play with Elmo and do pat-a-cake (my boys are all about pat-a-cake right now), freeze dance, Elmo says (like Simon says), Red Light Green Light and more! 
Being the most playful Elmo toys to date, the Play All Day Elmo toy is surely going to be a popular holiday present! It's also so soft and cuddly that I couldn't help but hug Elmo too!

Hugging Play All Day Elmo with Suburban Wife, City Life
Besides the toy itself, there is also the new Play All Day with Elmo DVD ($9.98) from Sesame Street. We've already played it several times here at home and I love that it gets my boys up and dancing and counting too. It's way more interactive than just the episodes of Sesame Street since it features more songs and encourages kids to join along by jumping and dancing. We've been putting it on when they come home from Pre-K each day. Oh, and Taye Diggs and Jack Black both guest star in it too. The DVD would make a great stocking stuffer for kids under 5!

Oh, and loved this great Sesame Street birthday party decorating idea. Simply fill a fish bowl with red M&Ms or Skittles, print out eyes and an orange nose and you have Elmo!

Easy Elmo birthday party decoration DIY
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pumpkin at Dunkin is Back - New Fall Menu

I love fall and all things pumpkin, so I'm all about the limited time seasonal items this time of year, which is why I was super stoked to have been inviteDD to a Dunkin' Donuts Fall sampling event where I got to sample their full fall lineup of pumpkin beverages and baked goods.

Leading the autumn menu are the new Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares filled with smooth and creamy pumpkin cheesecake and topped with orange icing, crumbled graham crackers and white icing drizzle & REESE's Peanut Butter Squares, filled with rich and creamy Reese's peanut butter buttercreme, topped with chocolate icing and an orange icing drizzle. As you can imagine, they were rich and decadent.

Being a bit traditional, I really enjoyed the returning glazed pumpkin cake donut though and the Pumpkin Muffin with white icing and sweet streusel crumbs, which was surprisingly moist, light and deliciously spiced.

PSL say hello to PSM! Dunkin’ Donuts has also added a Macchiato to the menu, with its new Pumpkin Macchiato. Served hot or iced, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Macchiato is a handcrafted, layered espresso beverage made with steamed milk and pumpkin flavored swirl, then topped with a double shot of Dunkin’ Donuts’ rich, freshly-brewed espresso. It was a bit strong for this tea drinker, but I really admired it's layered beauty (see pic below) and its bold taste with just a hint of pumpkin.

While I usually prefer hot beverages, but I really liked their refreshing iced pumpkin coffee though. We also tried the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta featuring real pumpkin puree and spice flavors with crumbled graham cracker pieces mixed in. Like their other Coolatta flavors, it was a sweet frozen treat.

Free Coffee on National Coffee Day

You can score some FREE coffee too! Today, September 29, is National Coffee Day, and Dunkin’ Donuts will welcome the holiday by brewing a special offer. Guests can walk into any participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant across the country and receive a free medium cup of Dunkin’ Donuts hot or iced Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Dark Roast Coffee, with a limit of one per guest.

More deals can be redeemed throughout the next several weeks too if you're a DD Perks member, plus you get a free, any-size beverage upon enrollment and on your birthday. To enroll in DD Perks for free, download the Dunkin’ Mobile App or visit

Donut Hole Acorns

Using a glazed munchkin, we made donut hole acorn desserts, which are perfect for fall celebrations. The kiddos can help make them too. Simply pierce a slim mini pretzel stick through a pumpkin munchkin, then add chocolate icing or Nutella around the top and cover with chocolate sprinkles. I was quite proud of the result!

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