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SWFL Dining Review: Metro Diner in Naples

We recently checked out Naples’s newest restaurant, Metro Diner, offering classic comfort food with flair. The new eatery opened January 31 in the shopping plaza by Off the Hook Comedy Club and considering it is only a few weeks new, I was shocked at our packed it was. However, after eating there I can see why. The prices are good and the food is even is better!

Metro Diner originates from Jacksonville, Florida and prides itself on quality ingredients and a scratch kitchen where they make their own sauces, soups and compotes. In addition, Metro Diner hand cuts their home fries and cracks fresh eggs daily.

We ordered their two signature dishes, Fried Chicken and Waffles topped with house-made strawberry butter and signature sweet and spicy sauce and there Charleston Shrimp & Grits.

Chicken and Waffles at Metro Diner in Naples, Florida
The restaurant serves all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner- designed to indulge the taste buds with new twists on traditional dishes made-from-scratch. The large portion sizes enable every guest to enjoy a delicious meal at a great value, with most dishes priced under $15. Next time, I plan on trying their pot roast or open faced Turkey.

Charleston Shrimp & Grits at Metro Diner
At the back of the restaurant is a large, colorful chalk board with their daily specials, which our waitress said you won't find in their menu, so order while you can.

They also have a children's menu with a perfectly grilled cheese and french fries, which I couldn't help snagging a bite or two of. A paper coloring placemat and crayons were also provided to entertain little ones.

Another good value is there drinks priced at only $3.99 for a glass of wine or $4.99 for Mimosas that are generously poured. It wasn't brunch any longer, but it didn't stop us from ordering two Mimosas just the same!

There is outdoor seating available too, but we prefered the large booths inside.

Disclaimer: I received a gift certificate to use at Metro Diner in exchange for my honest review. We paid the difference and tip. 
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VIP Insider Tips for the Disney Wonder Cruise

15 VIP Tips for the Disney Wonder 

VIP Tips for Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder

Download App Prior to Boarding - The Disney Cruise Line Navigator is a free app that helps you navigate the ship, see the ship schedule and text with your travel party while onboard. You'll be using this app often to message other passengers on board at least my husband and I did, since it made coordinating so much easier, plus the adorable Disney emojis! All of the functionalities will work once you are connected to the on-board wifi, but in the meantime, there is also a countdown clock for your trip.

Check in Online for Earliest Boarding Time  - Our first Disney cruise I checked in online weeks in advance, but this time only several days before our trip. This was my mistake, because by then the earliest available boarding time was 2 p.m. and we wanted to get on as soon as possible. So, to get the most of your time on the ship, check in online as soon as you are able to via the My Disney Cruise Line website. This site also allows you to schedule a character call with one of the characters welcoming everyone, which is really fun for the kids. BONUS TIP: Even though you may board around Noon, you still will not be able to go to your rooms until after 1:30 p.m., so be sure and bring a tote bag with pool gear or other items that you'll want handy before your luggage arrives.
Mickey Latte from the Cove Bar on board Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder
Order a Mickey Latte on the Disney Wonder

Order a Mickey Latte - The Cove Cafe itself is a hidden gem for ordering cocktails without the lines and for getting your daily cup of coffee. Like a traditional gourmet coffee shop the options are endless, but if you want an Instagram-worthy pic, do request that the barista (Leyston) add a Mickey shaped cinnamon sprinkle to your cappuccino or latte. Mine was definitely the envy of my friends! :)

Room Service Milk & Cookies - 
In an effort to not overeat entirely, we stuck to a continental breakfast in our room. Breakfast cards that you hang on the door each night can be found in your cabin's desk drawer. We also used this morning delivery as our wake-up alarm each day. Room service itself is free and available 24/7. There is a menu in your room with a full list of options. This came in handy for an afternoon snack for our boys when we ordered Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. Also, a fun tradition we started was ordering cookies and milk before bed while watching whichever Disney movie was playing on the TV. (Sadly, the Wonder ship does not have the awesome On-Demand movie feature like the Disney Dream does).

Pack Two Bottles  –  If you imbibe and would like to save some money, bring your own. Each adult is allowed to bring 2 bottles of wine or champagne and/or 6 bottles of beer. Since this was only a 3-night cruise, we carried on two bottles of prosecco, another perk of not flying and worrying about ounces. Make sure that liquor is in your carry-on bag as you go through the cruise terminal for inspection. Do not check it in with your bags, as it will be confiscated and returned at the end of your trip. We opened our bottle on the balcony before dinner and ordered a cheese plate to be delivered to our room. See above about free room service!

Ask for the Drink of the Day - Save a few bucks on a cocktail by ordering the Drink of the Day for just $4.75. Doesn't matter what it is, they are all great, but the Bahama Mama was my favorite though.

Bring Door Decorations – The cabin doors aboard Disney cruise lines are a work of art. Guests decorate their doors with photos and decorations of all kinds, including magnets with their names and favorite characters on them. It's fun to simply walk around see what others have done. To personalize our door we ordered this cute door magnet from Etsy with each of our first names listed and I also added a shameless plug to my blog URL, lol. Another great thing about decorating your door is that it makes it easy for kids to find the right door. My four-year-old boys would run ahead down the hallway and then know just where to stop thanks to our magnets. Lots of Disney Cruise Line Door Printables can be found online too. Stickers are not allowed.

Disney Cruise Family Packing List - Pack Door Decorations
Eat at Palo instead of Triton's  - Disney Cruise Line has an innovative rotational dining, where each night you are assigned a different sit-down restaurant to dine at. While we loved them all, Tiana's Place, Animator's Palate offered more entertainment and ambiance than Triton's, so I would recommend skipping Triton's in favor of the adult only restaurant Palo. However, there is an additional fee for dining at Palo - $30 per person or if you'd like the wine pairing dinner option it's $59 charge per person, in addition to the $30 dining charge for dinner (total $89 per person). It's so worth it though as the food is amazing! It's also nice to have an adult-only night, so feed your kids first at the upstairs food court or one of the quick serve options by the pool and then check them in for fun at the kids club (Oceaneer's Club). You can make your reservation ahead of time Online or once on board. We were able to still get a 7:30 reservation for the night we wanted after we set sail. Oh, and this is a formal dining experience, so no flip-flops or sneakers and guys must be in dress pants. We saw a man who had to leave to switch his shoes, so fair warning.

Schedule a Whiskey Tasting - On the first day we noticed a brief mention in the Navigator that read, Go to Guest Services to schedule a whiskey, vodka, margarita, tequila, wine or bourbon tastings. Since we were only on a 3-night/4-day sailing not all the choices were available. However, the whiskey tasting was set for 10 p.m. for $25/per person. We purchased two tickets, but later found out that it was the same time as the fireworks. Luckily, we were able to step out for five minutes and see the fireworks perfectly from the Cove Bar's deck. During the tasting, we received four generous pours of whiskey each from different brands and gained some general history of the liquor, the distilling process and other tasting tips along the way. We were even more fortunate to be the only two at the tasting, so it was like having a private course. Apparently, there is usually about 10 guests at a time. Our instructor Chris was really knowledgeable and made the tasting even more enjoyable. Given that it's an hour long class and the amount of alcohol provided, the nominal charge more than balances out. I'd highly recommend this hidden itinerary gem, so do check with guest services to find out when it is offered.
Whiskey Tasting on board Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder
Whiskey Tasting on board the Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder

Line up Early for Frozen -  Frozen, A Musical Spectacular is the MUST SEE show at sea and only Disney's Wonder has it. My husband and I were both seriously impressed at the quality, singing and special effects of this stage show. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's at the same caliber as a Broadway show and I'm a New Yorker who grew up seeing musicals on Broadway. Each night the stage shows are crowded, but this one had a line starting almost an hour prior to show time (doors open a half hour before), so get in line early. We let the boys stay in the club playing while we waited in the queue. TIP: Sit in the first 15 rows if you'd like to have the snow fall on you and your family at the end of the show. We missed this experience by just three rows and my boys were disappointed. Also, as you enter the theater be sure and snag the provided booster seats for smaller children, so they can sit more comfortably in their seats. Other parents would see ours and have to circle back to get them.

Frozen, A Musical Spectacular on Disney Wonder Cruise

Drink Juice from Sulley's Sips - Up on the pool deck, head to Sulley's Sips drink stand, which despite the Monster's Inc. name isn't just for kids. They also have some yummy frozen cocktails here, but we liked ordering the healthy Juice Tonic, which is a blend of fresh Apples, Bananas, Kale, Spinach, Chia seeds and Spirulina. We substituted coconut water in lieu of the ice cream to keep it even healthier.

Order a Juice Tonic for Sulley's Sips on the Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

Embarkation Day WiFi Special - Each passenger can get free 50MB Internet Data Package Offer on their first day on board. Don't sign up for it though until you no longer have cell phone reception, then sign up and use the 50MB to send any last emails, post your embarkation photos, etc. 50MB goes fast. We took advantage of Grandma's too since she was in a different cabin. After that, you'll need to purchase a package or unplug for the rest of your trip.

Dance & Eat Hot Beignets at Tiana's Place - Hot beignets are the must order dessert and treat on the ship! Just as good as the French Quarter. Also, be prepared to dance while dining here as the live jazz music and performances make for a lively dinner. My boys loved parading around the tables at the end of their meal with Louis the alligator, waitstaff and fellow passengers. Fun memories!

Dance & Order Hot Beignets at Tiana's Place on Disney Wonder

Bring Change - Yes, tips are already included in the daily occupancy rates, but we added an extra $5 bucks to each of our waitstaff envelopes and $10 for our Steward. However, since cash isn't really needed on the ship since you can easily charge food and gifts to your account using your room key, we had to scramble to get change. Thus, be prepared and have some smaller bills on you for this purpose. Also, there is a post office on Castaway Cay that only takes cash and not room keys, so if you want to send a postcard, remember to pack a few bills in your beach tote.

Scuttle's Cove on Castaway Cay - Some of the other families we met on the beach didn't realize that on Disney's private island Castaway Cay (pronounced key) there is a kids club where children can also be dropped off with sand and water play areas, called Scuttle's Cove. You can use this alone time to visit the adult only beach, Serenity Bay on the island or try out the bigger water slides. We didn't leave the family beach this time, but we did check the kids into the club for an hour after lunch so they could run around before going back on the ship for nap time. Be prepared to hose them off after as they were super sandy! Also, as mentioned in my below packing list, pack a sand shovel or two or be prepared to buy some.

Take a Tour of our Stateroom #7114:

Tips for going on a Disney Cruise with Toddlers and Preschoolers

Tips for Going on a Disney Cruise with Toddlers & Preschoolers 

Disney Cruise Line Family Packing List

 The Ultimate Disney Cruise Family Packing List
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2017 Walt Disney Studios Movie Preview & Giveaway

During this year's Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I received a sneak peek at the upcoming 2017 Walt Disney Studios' movie releases. Here's what's coming to theaters soon and what to look forward to, at least I know I will.

Beauty and the Beast movie and product preview
Getting a Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek and Product Preview
My FAVORITE preview was seeing the first 8 minutes of the live action version of the classic fairy tale Beauty and The Beast. It's my favorite Disney animated film, so I was already looking forward to seeing it, however, after seeing the extended look ... it's beyond what I could have imagined. Seeing the opening sequence of Belle played by the beautiful Emma Watson and the townspeople singing "Poor Provencial Town" was amazing, colorful and just gorgeous. I didn't want it to end. I liked that they mixed it up a bit with some extra humor and dialogue mixed in from Gaston (Luke Evans) and LeFou played by Josh Gad. Meanwhile, forget the prince, Gaston is HOT! If I was in the story I think I would have been one of those simpering girls going "he's so strong and handsome" lol. Although I do always have my nose stuck in a book. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST opens in theaters everywhere on March 17, 2017.

Also, check out the lovely Beauty and the Beast collection on HSN starting March 1st, I especially loved their Royal Albert tea cups and plates!

We also saw an advanced screening of BORN IN CHINA. I'm always impressed with the beauty of Disneynature films, especially African Cats and this story did not disappoint. Narrated by John Krasinski this true life adventure takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. From the movie poster I thought it was just going to be about panda bears, but it's more than that. It follows the stories of three animal families. A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard—an elusive animal rarely caught on camera—faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Opening in U.S. theaters on Earth Day, April 21, 2017

Meanwhile, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 blasts into theaters on May 5, 2017. We only saw an extended trailer, but it looked fun like the first one and baby Groot looks adorable! Can't wait!

Also, Jack Sparrow is back again with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The scene that we previewed was swashbuckling fun and had me cringing in my seat as the heroes narrowly escaped the royal guards again. I had really liked the last one with the mermaids and Penelope Cruz, so am looking forward to this one. This edition features a heroine too played by Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer. The new tale drops anchor in U.S. theaters on May 26, 2017

My boys though are most excited for Disney/Pixar's Cars 3. We only saw some character shots and a trailer, but we did get to see in its entirety the animated short that will be playing before it - LOU. While we were asked not to go into much detail about it, I will share that it's adorable and sentimental and tackles playground bullying. I got misty watching it. LOU and Cars 3 cruises into theaters on June 16, 2017

However, if you are looking to cry for some reason, watch this inspiring runDisney video from the Disney Parks Blog. Have tissues handy, and don't say that I didn't warn you! This video was also shared with us during the conference and I lost it when the kind stranger says "every superhero needs a cape."

Disney Studios Movie Prize Pack

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Valentine's Day Gift Guide for the Dapper Man

I've done the gag gifts, the romantic ones, but now that we're a little older like fine wine, I'm opting for a more refined Valentine's Day gift giving this year.

Your guy will love these fashionable and tech-friendly finds to spruce up their professional life -- affordable little splurges they wouldn't get themselves.

Valentine's Day Gift Guide for the Dapper Man & Tech Obsessed Guy. Gift Guide for Him

  1. Lapel Pin - Who says you can't buy your guy flowers on Valentine's Day? Truly unique, I love this microfiber flower pin from Sprezza, which spruces up a tired jacket and also works as a conversational piece too. I first spotted this attractive statement accent on my Instagram feed and especially adored how these two dapper guys boldly wore it (one, two). Best of all, it's only $12! Available in black, red, or gray. I

    Felt flower lapel pin for the dapper man - $12
  2.  Sprezza Box - Fashion delivered for men! A subscription box curated by Sprezza's personal stylists will bring Valentine's Day joy to your man every month and will keep him looking sharp and trendy. Effortless Style for just $28 a month. Each box is guaranteed to have over $100 in value with 5-6 fashion and lifestyle products, so you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. You can pay upfront $300 for the entire year and save $36  or pay monthly and cancel anytime. Everything sent is his to keep!

  3. Cord Keeper - This 3-pack of black/beige/grey leather cord keepers keeps your cords neat and stylish. Perfect for travel and work. $9.99.
  4. Echo Dot - Alexa is the only woman I don't mind my husband talking to each morning ;) We are obsessed with our Dot. We have it in our bedroom and we'll tell it to play NPR in the mornings, provide us updates on the weather, give us a flash briefing of the day's news and even play little kid music for our boys. I'm saving up to get another one for my office too and have a feeling my husband wouldn't mind receiving one for his either. $49.99.
  5. Wooden Bow Ties - Yes, bow ties and neck ties made out of wood! My husband came back from Vegas purporting that men at the convention he attended were donning them and that they were getting a lot of positive attention for it. Definitely a conversation starter and great for the rugged gentleman in your life. $14.99 and up. 

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SWFL Dining Review: Burgerfi in Naples

Sometimes you just need a big juicy burger and thanks to BurgerFi in Naples you can eat one that not only tastes great, but is made from 100% all-natural Angus beef patties that are hormone and antibiotic-free with no additives.

Established in 2011, BurgerFi is among the nation's fastest-growing better burger concepts with nearly 100 restaurants. Founded by gourmet chefs, Burgerfi is committed to serving fresh food of the highest quality. All recipes are created from natural, fresh ingredients that require team members to cut chop, mix and prepare daily.

Allergies? Be advised that peanuts, nuts and other food allergens are present at BURGERFI as they cook with 100% peanut oil because it’s healthier than other oils out there. Peanut oil contains antioxidants and good fats, and is naturally trans fat- and cholesterol-free.

I tried The Grilled Cheese Burger Melt, featuring two Natural Angus Patties, Caramelized Onions, Aged Swiss and American Cheese in between three griddled buns! This new menu item though will only be available through January 29.

Burgerfi Grilled Cheese Burger Melt
Grilled Cheese Burger Melt
Although I came for the burgers, I was particularly impressed with their hand cut fries. Seasoned with Parmesan, Herb and Garlic Aioli, these fries are Oh. My. Fantastic! They offer Chili & Cheese or Cajun style toppings too. You can also opt for the Cry + Fry, which loads 3 of their large onion rings on top of your order of fires.

Parmesan Garlic Fries and Mexican Coke
TIP: Looking for a healthier, lower carb option? Order your burger ‘green style,’ which is a lettuce wrapped burger with no bun.

Burgerfi green style lettuce wrapped burgers
Burgerfi ‘green style’ - lettuce wrapped burgers 
Need something to wash it down with? We were surprised to see they had local craft beer on tap and bottles of wine for pouring.

There is also a kids menu too with reusable plastic cups and hot dogs and other options.

Inside, the fast-casual restaurant has a modern setting with exposed light bulbs and aluminum benches and tables.

Good news, another Burgerfi location will be opening soon in Ft. Myers / Estero area across from Gulf Coast Town Center.

Disclaimer: My meal at Burgerfi was complimentary in exchange for an honest review. 
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Legoland Florida with Toddlers & Preschoolers

(PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida, Merlin Entertainments Group, Chip Litherland)

Tips for Going to Legoland Florida with Young Kids

My boys have always been obsessed with building and blocks, but now they are LEGO crazed. Yet, we had stayed away from going to the LEGOLAND Florida theme park when visiting the Orlando area, unsure if they were ready for it. Let me assure you the 150-acre park is built for little kids (pun intended) offering more than 50 rides, shows and attractions designed for families with children ages 2-12. Located in Winter Haven, Florida, just 45 minutes from Orlando (shuttle busses from the Orlando outlets are available).

Tips for going to LEGOLAND Florida with Toddlers & Preschoolers - Height Requirements and moreAre They Tall Enough?

Yes! Originally, we heard that the majority of the rides had a "42 inch height requirement to ride and with my 4-year-old twins still barely hovering at "39 inches, I wasn't sure there would be enough for them to do to justify buying tickets. However, I was wrong. Yes, I'm sure my husband would love for me to repeat that statement, lol! The 42-inch limit is only for kids to ride alone and does NOT prohibit them from going on the attraction. Thus, as long as we went on the boat, train and safari cart with them, they could experience the same fun as everyone else and even better we could do it as a family.

Ford's Jr. Driving School 

Ford's Driving School has two different tracks one simple loop for kids ages 3-6 (not height dependent) and a more complicated track for bigger kids. This was by far their favorite ride, which is towards the back of the park. They were so proud to ride lego built cars by themselves, steering and pressing the peddle all by themselves. They are still bragging about it in fact. There is a ride attendant there though for when kids get stuck to help move the vehicle in the right direction. At the end of the ride, all drivers receive a paper driver's license too, which makes for a great free souvenir.

Legoland Florida Play Areas

While my boys like rides, they are still at the age that they would rather just run around and play. Fortunately, there are several areas in the park for this, including shaded or air conditioned spots!

Pharaoh's Revenge is a two-floor covered jungle gym play space with foam balls and crawl areas, which also protects from the sun.
Listing of the LEGOLAND Florida Play Areas and Playgrounds

Dupolo Village is ideal for toddlers, it's one big playground with a train, a mini tractor ride and a water play area. The bricks for kids to play with in this village are also much larger and softer so as not to be a choking hazard or rough. Plus, the DUPLO Tot Spot is designed especially for children under the age of two and features a small slide and colorful playhouse. Meanwhile, DUPLO Farm offers that and more in an air-conditioned barn with benches for parents to relax and watch from. There is a baby care center located inside too.

In Imagination Zone there is a Building Zone with a huge assortment of loose LEGO bricks and already built models for inspiration. Kids are also given wheels when they sign in so they can build LEGO cars and race them. Just be sure and return them when you leave. There is also AC inside and a panini grill cafeteria area, thus a perfect spot to eat at on hot days.

In the new Ninjago World (our video here) there is Cole's Rock Climb area by the entrance that my boys ran to along with Kai's Spinners, which are rotating spinners for a child to jump on and Jay's Lightning Drill, which is a Simon says type game that my boys didn't really understand, but they still enjoyed pushing the buttons and hearing the sound effects.

Technic Tot Spot slide, climb and build! Even the smallest guests can take control in this shaded play area just for them.

In Lego City there is yet another Tot Spot to cool off in this air-conditioned play area and prepare for take off climbing and playing.

Pre-schoolers and older kids will love the shaded outdoor wooden playground called The Forestmen's Hideout with slides, nets and climbing areas. It is also staffed for further supervision of kids.

Figurine Trading

Minifigure trading at Legoland

Forget pin trading, I now love figurine trading and wish I had known about this BEFORE we went to the park for the first time. Model Citizens, or employees, wear colorful badges that display their name and will have little LEGO guys attached to it. If you spot one that you like you can swap a LEGO Minifigure that your kids don't want any more. Thus, you could leave the park with new souvenirs that they can actually play with, so buy one ahead of time or pick up the discarded LEGO people loitering under your kid's bed and get ready to trade them in for some new ones, maybe even Batman, Disney or Harry Potter!

The Must Order Treat at Legoland Florida

The Must Order Treat at Legoland

Don't leave the park without stopping at Granny's Apple Fries, which tastes like an apple pie in stick form. Basically, they are warm granny smith apples fried and covered with sugar and cinnamon. They come with a whip cream dip and for a few cents more you can order a caramel dipping sauce as well (we did both dips!). My mother said she'd come back to Legoland for the apple fries alone ;)

What We Love about Legoland & Savings Tips

    Tips for going to LEGOLAND Florida with Toddlers & Preschoolers
  • Order your tickets online at least two days in advance for additional savings. Subscribe to their monthly newsletter to discover their latest promotions as well. 
  • Unlike other Orlando-area parks, Legoland wasn't as crowded - neither the rides or lines for food. (Note we visited in January and February). Also, if you stay at the hotel or have an annual pass you get to enter the park a half hour earlier. Use the time to go on Ninjago The Ride, their latest attraction. 
  • Create while you wait! Even when there was a short line for an attraction, EVERY queue has an area where kids can build and play with LEGO bricks while adults hold their spot in line. Wouldn’t life be great if every line had LEGO bricks for children to play with? *sigh*
  • It wasn't overwhelming like other theme parks. I could easily see myself going solo with the kids too as it would be manageable. 
  • Lots of food options with restaurants named by what they offer - Lakeside Sandwich Co., Burger Kitchen, Fried Chicken Restaurant, the new Peper & Roni Pizza Stop, etc. Easy! 
  • Kid-sized sinks in the bathrooms. 
  • Family bonding! 

Pin it:

Tips for Visiting Legoland Florida with Toddlers & Preschoolers + listing of all the play areas!The Must Order Snack at Legoland Florida - Granny's Apple Fries
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My Favorite Things Holiday Gift Exchange & Gift Guide for Her

A Few of My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things Gift Exchange
Besides the office grab for over 10 years now, I have participated in a holiday gift exchange with a bunch of girlfriends scattered across the country. This year, we did something different - a "My Favorite Things" exchange. It's where you think of a favorite thing that you love (lipgloss, best candle you've ever found, fuzzy socks that you adore, chocolates you crave) and then buy multiples of that one thing for everyone in the exchange. So, you then everyone in the group receives multiple presents and everyone's favorite thing.

So, I thought, what do I like? Besides books, which are subjective and cats, which I can't very well send in the mail. I then narrowed it down to wine, chocolate and tea! I purchased whole leaf tea bags and individually wrapped dark chocolate mini bars from World Market and placed them inside a Tervis Wine Tumbler along with a note. Sadly, I'm now envious that I didn't make myself one too!

Tervis Stemless Wine Glasses -  these sturdy, unbreakable cups fit perfectly in your
Tervis Stemless Wine Glasses
I love my Tervis tumbler's for water and their stemless wine glasses are especially great for messy red wine drinkers like me, lol. No fine glass to break or delicate stems to drop. These sturdy, unbreakable cups fit perfectly in your hand and keeps wine at the perfect temperature. I can bring them by the pool or to an outdoor concert or game too and not worry about breaking them. I'll drink to that! They are also  American-made and dishwasher safe for easy party clean-up. Oh, and they have clear, witty wine sayings, monograms, NFL and college team logos and floral design options to choose from. I went with the wine puns like Save Water, Drink Wine and Uncork & Unwind. Cheers! Easy housewarming or teacher gift or present for a coworker too! Price: $19.99 each.

Stocking Stuffers for Her

Ninja Loop – Phone StrapWhether I'm tweeting or trying to snap a photo for my blog, I drop my phone a LOT, but now not so much. Why? Because I added a simple Phone Loop to my case, a simple back-strap to help avoid unfortunate and expensive phone drops. It can be added to any case and easy to remove too. I like hooking my finger through it when I'm walking and talking on the phone too. CNET agrees and says it's "the best 6 bucks you can spend on your smartphone." This useful gift is only $4.99. Perfect for the stocking!

Softlips CUBE Vanilla Bean Lip Balm (I'm obsessed!)

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (I also like Crabtree & Evelyn lotion tubes too, I keep them in my desk).

essie 2016 holiday mini kit nail polish

Soxxy unisex compression socks are the perfect gift for the traveler, athlete, and mom on the go. Soxxys energize your legs, decrease swelling and reduce the risk of DVT. I like their navy ones with a plane on it, very PanAm retro. For 30% off, use coupon code: SOX16.

Purse sized hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works or the yummy holiday smelling Marshmallow Fireside candle in mini size.

Gifts for Her

Straight and frizz-free hair in just several minutes with a Hair Straightener Brush. I found this to be easier and gentler on my hair than a traditional flat iron, quicker too. Simply brush your hair at a sloewr pace and it leaves behind a smooth finish. I have the version from USpicy that sells on Amazon for under $30 and comes with a glove to protect your hand from the heating tool.

I had received a lovely glass jar of colorfully wrapped Chocolate Covered Oreo Cookies from Shari’s Berries and not only were they delicious, but they made a lovely centerpiece during the holidays and ideal for holiday entertaining. It' a perfect hostess gift too.

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Holiday Gift Guide for PreSchool Boys

Holiday Gift Guide Ideas for Preschool Boys

Holiday Gift Guide for PreSchool Boys

a.k.a what my 4-year-old twins are getting (shhh!)

Hot Wheels 7” Tablet Powered by Nabi 
The Hot Wheels 7” Tablet Powered by Nabi comes with several Hot Wheels screens and preloaded content, including “Hot Wheels Labs” where kids can watch videos about the science of hot wheels cars - resistance, friction and gravity. In addition, the tablet has over 25 apps and games already loaded onto the device. It runs on the latest Android OS and comes with Google Play, so parents can access over one million additional apps, games, music, movies, books, and more as your child gets older. The tablet comes with a custom orange bumper for protection and durability, so no need to buy an additional case. Besides watching Hot Wheels videos my boys mainly play with the Hot Wheels activity pack featuring a coloring book, a puzzle and a matching game. Oh, and there is a front and back camera that they were posing and taking photos with.

Overall, as a parent looking to invest in a kids tablet, this one is affordable and won’t set you back extra with additional app purchases either. Nabi also makes an American GirlBarbie and a Fisher-Price themed tablet for the same reasonable price. Ages: 3+ Price: $79.90 at Amazon.

Disney Mickey Mouse Express Ready-to-Play Train Set 
What’s a Christmas tree without a holiday train set? And this locomotive is uber adorable. All aboard the Mickey Mouse Express, featuring iconic Disney characters dressed in their holiday best. It’s a perfect set to run under the tree, bringing a dose of holiday cheer and providing families with an annual tradition for holidays to come.

The ready-to-play set comes with the train locomotive and cars, easy to connect interlocking tracks with various layout options and a RC remote control with easy-to-use buttons for even preschoolers to get their hands on. The train features a battery-powered general-style car driven by Mickey with accompanying authentic train sounds. Ages: 4+ Price: $79.99 on Amazon.

Super Wings World Airport Playset  
It's Fly Time! My kids and I enjoy watching the show Super Wings, which is why I was excited to see this airport playset from Auldey Toys. Seen in each episode the airport sets the stage for the ultimate playset for preschool boys and girls. Basically, it's a Barbie dream house for boys. It's large too! The 35-inch scale delivers loads of fun, with electronic sounds and lights plus tons of activities for kids to recreate their favorite Super Wings scenes with mini-transforming characters Jett and Donnie. The figures can attach to the fly-around balance bar and spin them to circle the World Airport before they come in for a landing. Load Jett into the elevator and lift him up to the Control Tower, then launch him down the ramp. Flip open the base compartments to reveal a rotating luggage carousel and a cargo scale too. Batteries are included! Age: 3+ MSRP: $35.99

LeapFrog Leaping Letters 
This interactive game teaches letters and is fun for the whole family to play. Kids race against the clock to put the letters in their proper spots before time runs out otherwise they go POP! The timer can be adjusted to accommodate players of all skill levels and ages to play. The level of difficulty can easily be increased as well with color-coded letter pieces that advance the game to word building and kids can start forming words with add-on activity cards. We aren't there yet, but it's great seeing them race to build the alphabet. This toy also builds matching and fine motor skills too. Surprisingly, no batteries are required and there are no noises except the slight ticking noise the timer makes. Hopefully future editions will include some fun sound effects too, but for now at least this isn’t another musical toy to get on mommies nerves or go off in the middle of the night and scare the bejeezus out of me. Ages: 3-6 Price: $14.99

Toymail Talkie
Between my husband and I, one of us is often traveling and although FaceTime makes it easier for us, the Toymail Talkie makes it more fun for kids. This quirky looking monster plush provides screen-free messaging let's kids exchange voice messages with their friends and family. Talkies can communicate with smartphones and tablets via the accompanying free Toymail app for IOS, Android, Kindle, through which you approve which contacts can connect and participate. Kids do not need to use a screen to play and record their own messages though. While I was on a recent press trip, I used it to leave daily messages for my boys. They would wake up to press the toy to hear what I had to say each day before they went to school. It was like a game to them like searching for the Elf on the Shelf each morning, but at the same time, I was able to participate even though I was in another state.  Great for long-distance relatives and grandparents to communicate with kids too. $59.99 and available in three different animal creatures and colors.

For MORE ideas including STEM toys and gifts for older kids and tweens, check out my 2016 holiday gift guide
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