My dear friend, Kyle took me to the Topiary Gardens for the first time about 8 years ago! We went for a picnic with my daughter who was only 18 months at the time. This beautiful park is right downtown, you can see the tall buildings surrounding the park, but you feel like you are in a picture book. Really, I'm not exaggerating. The Topiary Gardens located at 480 E. Town Street and is the most serene place you will find right in the middle of downtown Columbus. When you go and visit be sure to bring coins to pay the meters. I also suggest a wagon to load all your picnic supplies and a camera!! This place is a photographer's dream! There are picnic tables and restrooms available on the property but I like to bring a big quilt and sit under a shade tree. Take your shoes off and take in the scenery and enjoy a simple lunch with the kids. This year we also brought a kite to fly. Very fun and I noticed the kite brought smiles to lots of people walking the trail that loops the outer edge of the gardens. After lunch, we wander over to a picture on a plaque that shows the painting by George Seurat that has inspired the Topiary Garden. Then my kids notice all the shapes that start to pop out at them. People, dogs, boats, umbrellas. Lots of questions are sparked about how do they shape these plants? They use wires and someone had to trim the branches just right! This is a really peaceful and educational experience. Over the last 8 years I have introduced the garden to several friends and they continue to to return with their kids. The Topiary Garden is Columbus' hidden gem. SMAC Approved! www.TopiaryPark.Org
I can remember when my Gramma got central air conditioning! I can remember playing outside all day long and the humidity not even phasing me as a kid. That's right the days of NO Wii, NO Ipods, NO x-Boxes, NO AC in our house. "Go outside and play!", my mother would say. Well, one day last week I decided I was going to outsmart the central Ohio heat wave and take my kids to play at Supergames! Supergames is located at 535B Lakeview Plaza Blvd in Worthington and has bounce houses for all ages inside a big warehouse! How fun! Beat the heat! I had purchased a Groupon several months prior and of course I procrastinated and used the coupon on the very last day. I even invited all kinds of friends to meet us there! We checked in and then they opened the doors to the back warehouse for Open Play and to our surprise there was NO AIR CONDITIONING! Are you kidding me? The warehouse had to be at least 120 degrees. My kids looked at me and said, "Why is it so hot in here?" I said, "GO PLAY!" The kids ran around sweating like fools and made lots of trips to the drinking fountains while us mothers sat still trying not to move in front of the few fans Supergames had put out to cool down the area. Trust me there was NO cooling this place down. How could you not let people know there was NO AC? No wonder they did a summertime groupon. I am all the wiser now Supergames. In my opinion, Supergames is only "super" in the winter. SMAC Approved for WINTER ONLY http://supergames.org/
Yes, I take my kids to German Village! They love the cobblestone streets and the excitement of driving downtown! This particular German Village Tour allows you to walk to all 3 destinations! Our first destination is Katzinger's Deli at the corner of 3rd St and Livingston Avenue. Katzinger's is a Kosher Deli. There is plenty of street parking on 3rd or the surrounding side streets. There are NO meters, but most of the parking signs indicate a 2 hour time limit. I reccomend showing up at Katzinger's for a late lunch around 1pm to miss the work crowds. When you enter Katzinger's make sure and sample some of the breads and cheeses they have out on the way to the order counter. The menu selection is huge! On this trip down I ordered the Corn Beef on Rye with Spicy Mustard. Even better than the sandwiches is the barrels of pickles. Katzinger's offers two choices of pickles, Garlic and Dill. The barrels are out in the dining area where patrons can help themselves. After you are stuffed, I suggest walking back to your car and moving your vehicle up or back a foot so your 2 hour parking spot renews itself (that's a trick I learned from living in Bexley). The trot on over to the Book Loft (about 3 blocks from the deli) and get lost in the endless maze of books that tower on shelves from the floor to the ceiling. When I take my kids, everyone leaves with 1 book! My kids really love the Comic Book selections. Most kids have no idea what Comic Books are and also are not familiar with how to read the script in bubbles around the pictures. The Comic Books are inexpensive too and fun for everyone! After everyone finds a book, go next door to Cup O Joe. Cup O Joe is my favorite coffee shop even more favorite than Starbucks. My kids know exactly what they want at Cup O Joe before we go, they want a giant rice krispie treat or a homemade snickerdoodle cookie. I of course I only have one thing in mind too, a large Cafe' Latte. We sit on a comfy couch and look at our books while Mommy gets to savor every last drop of coffee. Ah, that hits the spot. http://katzingers.com/ http://www.bookloft.com/ http://www.cupojoe.com/location-hours/
Assortment of fruit, cereal, nuts and candy toppings!
Have you been here yet?? Seems like most of Westerville has--every night there seems to be people "spilling" out of the store sitting on the sidewalk or tables outside. This place just opened up a few weeks ago and it seems like it is a hit with everyone!
Some facebook friends have commented "Don't load up too much on the toppings because they charge by weight!" So after soccer practice one night, we headed on over to Orange Leaf to try it out!
As you enter, you are greeted and asked "Have you been here before?" and then they show you the various kinds of frozen yogurts that they offer. (All are self-serve--see picture below) Next, they ask if you would like to sample a flavor-they give you these tiny cups (think ketchup cups) for you to go and try the flavors. My son tried cake batter and loved it but the employee told my son he should "mix" the flavors. He said that his favorite mix was cake batter and cotton candy. After tasting both flavors, my son decided to go for the cake batter/cotton candy. My daughter stuck with the traditional vanilla even though I encouraged her to branch out! (Some other unique flavors: coffee lover, red velvet, and peanut butter) There are two sizes of containers: big and bigger as I would refer to it! I did the self-serve yogurt as I knew that my kids would have filled it the top and then some!
Vanilla frozen yogurt with M & M toppings and chocolate syrup!
Next, it was off to the topping station (see above picture). I was surprised at the number of fruit toppings to choose from: strawberry, pineapple, and blueberries just to name a few. Did my kids want any of that? NO! They wanted the good stuff: fruit loops cereal toppings, m & m 's and Ghirardelli chocolate syrup! (There were more toppings of course: granola, captain crunch, graham crackers, etc.!) Again, I was with the three kids by myself and I made sure I put on the toppings myself! After that, comes the scale to weigh the yogurt-.45 an ounce. So after all 3 containers were weighed, I paid around $12! A bit pricey, but to see the expression on my son's face as he closed his eyes while he ate his frozen yogurt was priceless!
For this post, I did go to the website (this is a chain restaurant) and take a look at the calorie count-all flavors were about 30 calories per ounce. So that means it is quite easy to fill up that container and go overboard!! (Does anyone remember the "Seinfeld" frozen yogurt episode??)
I may not be a fan of the prices but the yogurt was very tasty and my kids won't stop asking my daily about going back!
Once upon a time in a far away land... my kids and I went down 71 to Broad Street and found the Santa Maria. The Santa Maria is located just off Broad Street on Marconi Blvd in the Scioto River. Parking is available at Vets Memorial or meters along Marconi. I opted to park at Vets Memorial for $3 and walk over the bridge for a little extra excitement and truthfully to avoid parallel parking a minivan! The ship does not look that big from the street but is pretty impressive up close. There is a small visitors center beside the ship where you can buy your tickets for a tour. I recommend you bring Cash so you can avoid a fees when using a credit card. The tour was very informal, but could be challenging for anyone with limited mobility and small children (3 & under) because you had to climb up and down very steep and narrow steps see all of the ship. It was interesting to find out how the crew navigated, where they slept and what was eaten. The Captain's quarters were far superior to the crews! The thing my kids found the funniest is where the bathroom was for the crew and you will have to visit to find out! I would say that visiting the Santa Maria is a great educational learning experience but its really not a place you will visit more than once. After the tour we headed back over the bridge and continued walking down a little further and had lunch at the Spaghetti Warehouse. SMAC Approved!
Who plans the vacation in your family??? In my family, it is ME! I also have a unique situation because when I plan, I usually go to a Marriott Hotel. Why you ask? It is because my husband travels and we use his reward points for our hotels. This year, I selected the Marriott Vacation Club Crystal Shores-Marco Island, Florida. This was the second leg of our trip as we were coming from Orlando to Marco Island, Florida. (Facing the Gulf of Mexico) I am always impressed with the Marriott resorts that we select because they always have a variety of activities for the kids. This year though, I think this was the best resort we stayed at so far!! This year, we had a full kitchen, wrap around balcony, 2 bathrooms and a flat screen and DVD player in every room!
In addition to the room, the daily activities for the kids was amazing! Minute to win it contests, smores, painting shells, make your own bubble bath, etc. (see pictures below of all the activties!) I would say most of the activities had fees attached to them-i.e. painting shells-$5, smores-$3. I also loved the fact that this resort had a lot of families there and the place never seemed crowded. Another reason that the resort was so great was the staff--they always greeted you with a smile and were quick to respond to your needs. I wanted to say that two staff members in particular were amazing-Jennifer and Tracy. Tracy went out of her way to print off all of the different kind of shells that you can find on Marco Island for my son who wanted to know the names of shells he found on the beach--conch shells, sandollars, Florida's spiny jewel box, etc. (The most amazing shells I have ever seen--one website said that this was a Top Ten place to find shells) Jennifer was very patient with my girls when they were doing "Make your own bubble bath."
Our daily schedule: eating breakfast in the room, going to the pool and beach, going back to the room and eating lunch, doing some kid activites/pool/beach, then heading back to room to change and go out to dinner. For dinner, we either got pizza delivered or walked across the street to eat at the restaurants. The restaurants nearby the resort were just okay, nothing special. I realized on this trip that my kids simply don't enjoy eating at restaurant as much as my husband and I do~we are hoping that changes when they get older! In the evenings, we either did an activity or watched a movie in the room. I was also surprised to see that they had a number of movie channels-HBO and Encore channels to name a few. They also had DVD rentals in the lobby-$4 for the night.
The only cons of the trip were the overcast weather and quick thunderstorms. My husband did not mind the overcast weather as he said he would only burn and not last too long outside with a brilliant sun! We tried to stay for another night but it would have cost us $649! Yikes!
Everyone kept saying to me, there is NO way that you can do Magic Kingdom in one day! Well, I was bound and determined that we would do it one day! I asked my friends for their best tips: Fast Pass, Family Swap, order your tickets online, read the book "The Unoffical Guide to Disney 2011" ( http://www.amazon.com/Unofficial-Guide-Disney-World-Guides/dp/047061529X) and get there early! Another tip that I figured out on my own was loading the Disney World App wait times app for rides on my Iphone. We also had brought a stroller with us and loaded some drinks and snacks in it too! Three days prior to leaving, I did order my tickets in advance (TIP: buy your Disney gift card at Giant Eagle so you can also save on gas too!) and would be picking them up at "Will Call". There was still a balance on my Disney gift card but I would be able to use anywhere in the park!
We got to the park around 9:30 am (we drove and parked in the parking lot) and quickly got our tickets in the Will Call line. I knew in advance to proceed to the Monorail. (TIP: the Monorail is the fastest way to get to Magic Kingdom) Then, we entered the park and proceeded toward Tommorrowland. I checked my Disney app and saw that the wait time for Space Mountain was 20 minutes-the book I read said that this ride and Splash Mountain were the 2 rides that you must ride in Magic Kingdom! This is where went directly in line and waited (another TIP: don't waste your time getting a fast pass if the ride is 20 minutes or less). After that, I asked an employee about the Family Swap and they took my 4 year old, 9 year old and husband to the wait area called the "Astro Lounge". I went with my 6 year old daughter and we rode Space Mountain together. It was great-so dark and you don't know where you are going! I would say the thrill level was "medium low." Disney is NOT the place where you will feel that the rides will make your heart leave your chest! When we exited, my husband saw that the Family Swap was good for 3 people so my 9 and 6 year old rode together with their dad-again, using the fast pass line! Once we figured that out, each of us got to ride with the older kids on rides that my 4 year old could not ride i.e. Big Thunder Mountain. The weather was hot but we cooled off with water and ice cream. Since the day was overcast, we did bring an umbrella and of course it POURED for about 2 hours. That is when we returned to Fantasyland and went on indoor rides such as "It's a Small World" and "Snow White's Scary Adventure". My son complained about the "baby rides" and wanted to go back to the hotel but we told him to deal with it! After the rain stopped we headed back to Splash Mountain since we had gotten the Fast Pass earlier but couldn't use it earlier because the ride stopped due to the rain. (Yet another TIP: you can use your fast pass even after the time expires! Meaning if the time was 3:40-4:40 pm and it is after 5 pm, you can still use your pass). Splash Mountain(Froniterland)is the BEST ride in Magic Kingdom and our kids would agree!
For food, we ate at the fast casual restaurants and the meals were fairly reasonably priced for being in Disney ($45 for a family of 5). We ate lunch and dinner at Magic Kingdom. We headed back around the entrance area at 8:30 pm so we could buy souvenirs from the gift shop. My kids were tired and I did struggle to make them stay and watch the Electric Parade. We watched about 15 minutes of it and then they wanted to leave. They did not want to watch the fireworks. It didn't matter, they LOVED it anyway!
So did I acheive my goal of riding most of the rides in Magic Kingdom-YES and you can too!!!
Jordi Shoe from Flutterby Frills
I am so very excited to introduce you to Flutterby Frills and all that it represents. Let me begin by telling you a bit about what Flutterby Frills means to me.
In short, the Flutterby part of the name represents transformation. It’s about looking ahead when one door closes to see yet another one opening up. It’s about making meaningful changes in your life and watching the results unfold. Why? Because it’s only when you are willing to embrace the need to change—and make an actionable plan for it—that you finally begin to evolve. Putting this catalog together has helped me to grow both personally and professionally. As many of my friends and family members will tell you, I’m a very practical person and I am often reluctant to spend time or money on myself. In the past, my habit of tending to myself last hindered my professional growth. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s important for women to look good and feel good about themselves. I’ve found that when you project a sense of confidence, people around you gain confidence, too. It’s contagious! Discovering my inner confidence and wanting to help others find theirs is what inspired me to launch Flutterby Frills.
To that end, we have filled this catalog with beautiful, well-made accessories—each hand-picked by me and my team in keeping with the Flutterby Frills philosophy. As you peruse the product offerings and read the stories behind them, I hope that you—and everyone who comes in contact with Flutterby Frills—will feel the same excitement we had in discovering them for ourselves!
In the coming pages, you’ll fall in love with snappy, strappy, practical and stylish adornments for your feet. You’ll also find exciting new ways to define your style and express your personality with frills that will have you collecting compliments wherever you go. We even have special somethings to please the little ones in your life. Let’s take a few bold steps toward the new you. Starting right now, I challenge each of you to tap into your inner confidence. Set just one goal today and then start building on it tomorrow! Wonderful changes lie ahead for us all, so I look forward to growing with you and everyone who discovers Flutterby Frills.
Please like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/flutterbyfrills for a chance to win a free jordi shoe and snap. Winner will be drawn July 15th, please leave the comment, "SMAC"!
Also call me at 614-551-9356 to Schedule your next Mom Gathering!
CEO & Founder, Flutterby Frills