Friday, August 29, 2008

Back from the House of Mouse

Sorry to have been absent for so long but I was on vacation and really had to recoup for a few days. But yes, I survived Disney World! Last week (17th-23rd) we went to Disney. Yes, to answer your question, we were rained on by that lovely Tropical Storm Fay. It just circled over Orlando from Tuesday thru Friday Night. We ended up buying 2 sets of ponchos (that's 4 adult and 4 kids) because we destroyed the first set. Nothing like seeing Disney wearing an $8 plastic sheet over yourself. If you can't ever figure out how to goto the bathroom in one of those things, call me..I'm an expert now :-)

Just a few tips now about going to Disney World

1. Do Not go with a 3 year old or younger child. Not only are they a pain in the butt (my three year old was just driving us nuts so I'm just speaking from experience..this may not apply to your child lol), they can't keep up with everything you do.

2. Get the Dining Plan. I planned our trip thru AAA and they told us about the dining plan. On the basic get one table service meal, one quick service meal and one snack per person per day. Our table service meals averaged $85 for the 4 of us. Quick Service about $25-$30 and snacks..well (by the way, drinks are counted as one snack) they range from $2 for bottled water to $5 for a fancy pastry in France in Epcot. The dining plan cost us $600 but we basically got that back from the table service meals and a couple of quick service. Well worth the money!
With the meals...adults get non-alcoholic drinks, entree and dessert :-) kids get an appetizer (don't get excited it's like a tiny salad, apples or grapes) , entree, dessert and drink. Kids menus have fewer choices than the adult menu, but Disney really makes them healthier with the choices. I was impressed with that. There are websites out there that list all the menus for all of the restaurants and snack stands so you can plan ahead.

3. Make reservations for any table service meal. Or else you will find you can't eat till 9pm. Make sure you do this in advance!!! Months in advance!!!

4. Pick your hotel wisely. Some of the resorts are listed as "value" and end up kinda low on the totem pole. We paid a bit more for the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a great place. The lobby is just full of all kinds of African Art, TV w/Disney cartoons for the kids, a fire pit and more. There are daily activities for the kids from decorating cookies to an evening parade. The rooms were good but just being able to walk out on your balcony and see giraffes, zebras and other savannah animals is amazing.

5. Try not to go during Hurricane Season. Ok, it's the only time the kids are out of school besides Christmas. We planned for August and ended up in the rain from Fay for 4 days. Next time we go, it will be as soon as school lets out in June.

6. Use the Fast Pass system! Major attractions have what's called Fast Pass. It's basically scheduling you for the ride. You get your pass and it has a time on it for you to come back. Then you get in the fast pass line and the wait is less than 10 minutes on average. Some of the "biggest" attractions, you will need to get your Fast Pass upon park opening as they get taken up fast.

7. If you have your young and short child with you (alot of rides have a 40" height requirement), take advantage of the "Parent Swap". One parent goes on the ride and the other is given a Parent Swap ticket. It's the same as a Fast Pass but you get to take 2 more people with you on the ride. Once the first parent gets off the second one can go on with literally no wait.

8. Beware the end of the ride! Most of them exit you off into a gift shop.

9. Try not to look to much at the price tags in the shops. It's going to be expensive no matter what but it's not like you're going there every day. There are some really neat products that you can only get down there..not online and not in the Mall stores.

10. There are no calories in Disney Food. I know it's not true but trust me it's better if you keep repeating that over and over and over.

11. Take breaks. Especially if you've got young kids. Don't spend 8am-9 pm at one park with no breaks. First, you will end up killing yourself with exhaustion. Second, you will never see all the Disney stuff there is in one week if you do that. Make sure you go back to your hotel like at 3pm and relax for awhile before heading out for dinner at another park.

12. Buses! Every resort and every park has bus transportation. They run every 20 minutes.

13. The Disney Magical Express is not Magical and it's not an Express. When we arrived in Orlando they sat us on a bus for 30 minutes before it left for the hotel..then it stopped at two other hotels before ours. It tooks us over an hour and a half to get from the airport to the hotel. The only thing that is a big plus is when you arrive they take your luggage to the hotel so you don't have to stop at baggage claim. When you leave the resort checks your luggage and gives you your boarding passes.

14. If you're using airline miles you will be on the late flight out and the earliest flight when you leave. The complete opposite of what you want. Our flight left at 1pm and arrived after 3. Going home...8:42am and we had to be in the checkout area in the lobby at 5am.

15. Remember, it's the happiest place on Earth!

And, that's my advice for going to Disney World. It was our first trip with the kids and I haven't been to Disney since 1992. Alot changed and luckily I was prepared for it. Feel free to share your tips!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beauty Around the Neck of the Beholder

You all probably don't know this, but I was an Art History major in college..yes and now I'm a stay at home mom with a blog. But, I still have my love of Art and when I find something that deals with Art, it tugs on my heart strings.

That's how I felt when I found Heart Works by Lori on Etsy. Lori makes these "Art Pendants" and they are just beautiful. She creates these wonderful works of art by incorporating her love of jewelry with her love of Art. Each pendant makes me feel like I'm in a museum. The miniaturized artworks are surrounded by intricate little "frames" that look just like the painting (of course only smaller). Completely sealed with glass to keep the lil masterpiece safe.

What really got me interested in Lori's shop is that she mentions on her Etsy store that she's done a collection of jewelry for the Boston Art Museum (they still have them up for sale on the museum's website and if you click on the link, it will take you to them). She made them for a special exhibition on the Spanish Masters. You can see how really well done the pieces are by the pictures I have here. These two pictures (Madonna by Cotan and Plate of Pears) are pieces that are being sold at the museum's store. Lori's been making Art Jewelry since 2007 and with this Boston Art Museum gig, I trust her work.

Lori makes plenty of other pieces as well. Like the one that I got called The Bird Has Flown. The artwork is a photograph done by an award-winning Etsy photographer named Irene Suchocki (she was featured on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, very impressive). This is perfect for's a little melancholy yet liberating with the bird flying away from it's cage. The necklace is priced at $30 or you can go with it as an A La Carte pendant (although the "frame" is not as intricate) for $20.

And, there are still more Art some of the Masters...available on her Etsy store. Like this famous Klimt work, The Kiss and Starry Night by Van Gogh.

The Art Jewelry prices range from $26 to $75 and Lori has other pieces on her site that ranges from $12-$60. For me though, I just love these Art Works! Lori has a regular jewelry site that I've taken a peek at and even her non Art jewelry pieces are works of Art. I just love when I find a really unique jeweler. I have several "personal jewelers" now and Lori is one of them. I you trust me, then you'll be sure to find yourself a wonderful little piece of Art!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lovely Rita..Not the Meter Maid

Ok, I know, bad Beatles reference there lol, but I like my catchy post titles!

It's Lovely Rita Wilcox! Or Aunt Rita as she's know to the owners of Rita Wilcox Jewelry and Accessories. There's all kinds of things that you can shop for on their site from their well known bags to clothing to jewelry. Most things can be personalized (embroidered personalization) such as the handbags and clothing.

I had the honor to try out one of their Quilted Tote bags. One of their more simpler styled bags but a very good bag indeed. The one I tried out is this one with the Pink stitching but there is also black w/black stitching and brown with orange stitching. I like the black with the Pink stitching, to me it's more classic. Now, I'm usually more of a "small purse" person. I have my messenger bag and I use that one mainly when I'm out w/the kids so I can bring extra Pull Ups and such (I just love potty training). So, back to the topic here...this is a bit bigger than what I usually use for a handbag. It's got on zippered pocket inside and is has a zippered closure. Surprisingly, even with all my crap, it carried very lightly. Whether on the shoulder or just handling it by its handles, it almost seemed like I had nothing in it at all. Usually I get weighed down by all my crap but not with this bag. Very easy to handle! The only thing I would have liked to have in this bag is a couple more pockets. Like one for my cell phone etc. Not on the outside because it would take away from the look, but on this inside. That's just my personal may not be yours. This bag sells for $38 and you have the option of personalization (initials) for $10 more. There is also a larger version of this bag that sells for $50 and is wider than this one.

Here's some examples of other handbags on the site. Like these messenger bags...hands free since you can sling them over the shoulder (which is what I do with mine). Normally $45, they are on sale for $20..hey ladies that's over 50% off! And, my mother in law would probably like this one, this Nautical straw tote ($49). It just screams take me to the beach.
There's plenty of nice handbags (and other things) on the Rita Wilcox site. You can even become a consultant and host a Rita Party!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saints N Sinners

I want to welcome a new advertiser to Products of the Day...Barbe Saint John and her Saints & Sinners store. Barbe makes fantastic jewelry from vintage items..she also makes homespun yarn and mixed media art.

We actually did a trade :-) I was able to get this fabulous necklace..and let me tell you it took me 2 days to decide on what I wanted to get. It's called "Birds Sing Sweeter in Summertime." This is a mixed media piece with the cute sparrow bead, the resin birds in a tree piece, vintage beads and a wonderful quartz stone. How Barbe was able to find all these different things in the same blue color is amazing lol. One thing I just love about it is that each side of the necklace is a different chain. I just love this necklace. Chunkier necklaces are not usually my style but I ended up loving it when I got it.

Here are some of the other pieces that I was trying to choose from.

This cute little piece with Cardinals sitting on a branch (and you all know I love Cardinals) is called Lisa & Ethel Gossip Time. The birds are lampwork figures and they sit in little wired nests. Their "tree branch" is actually a piece of black coral. Lucy & Ethel are $45.

Then there's these Paris at Night earrings. They are made with vintage French brass charms, antique brass chain and antique beads. What's unique about these earrings is that they each have their own image on the focal part. I just thought these were cool and I love the blue color. Paris at Night will run you $34

Barbe also has this collection of necklaces called Wunderlust. Each piece has an etched disk with a vintage piece of map (protected by resin). The one I loved was the Paris piece in Sterling Silver. This line is just simple yet so unique. If Barbe ever makes on of Rome (hint hint hint), then I will probably have to buy it :-) The Wanderlust necklaces range in price from $43 to $60. This one of Paris is $60

You will find much more at Saints & Sinners. Feel free to click any link here in the post or scroll down to the Shop Shop Shop section and click on Barbe's banner. Just let me know what you bought wink wink.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Don't Mind Falling in This Crater

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Sharonn over at Crater Lake Company. She has lovely bath and body products and wanted to know if I'd try them out. You know me, I love bath and body stuff :-)

I perused the site (and the scents) and told her what I would love to try. So, Sharonn sent me her Flutter Butter, Triple Action Body Buffer and True Luster Conditioner. Sharonn has some really good Pink Sugar blends (I have Dark Pink & Bright Pink) and they smell as good as they sound. If you read my blog, then you know I'm pretty much addicted to Pink Sugar so this made me very very happy :-)

The Flutter Butter, I must say, is one of the best lotions I have ever tried. Now, when I try any lotion product for review here on Products..I always test it on my feet first. I have the worst feet, and lately my skin down there has been dry dry dry that even my beloved PedEgg can't get it all. I put the Flutter Butter on before bed and the next morning there was a very noticeable difference in the condition of my feet. This is very good stuff and there's good stuff in it. The Flutter Butter has alot of natural ingredients and yet still has a nice smooth..easy to apply consistency. It sinks into the skin without leaving any greasy feeling. The scent I got is Sugar me it smells more like an almond cookie than sugar cookie..but it smells good all the same. A 4 ounce jar will run you $9.95 but a little goes a long way. Plus, it's just a dam good lotion!

The Triple Action Body Buffer caught my eye because it's got European Sea Salts, White sugar and ground Apricot Seed. And, as the website description says, it feels like wet sand. It's very scoopable and I did not lose alot to the shower floor. Normally, I have problems w/salt scrubs because I always have a hangnail, but this one did not sting me at all. It has a great scrubbiness (you know I like my grit) and leaves your skin nice and moisturized. It does not leave you greasy or looking like you applied Rain X to yourself but it left my skin moisturized enough that I did not need lotion at all. The only thing that gave me trouble was trying to get the ground apricot seeds rinsed out of the tub. But, you live with little things if the big picture is great. It will leave your tub a bit slippery, but alot less than other scrubs that I've used. A 5 ounce jar is priced at $7.95 which is pretty average for 5 ounces of any scrub.

Now, I'm always skeptical about trying out handmade hair conditioner. I color my hair and I'm very particular about slathering the conditioner on so my hair doesn't get dried out. I usually like it thick and when I apply it to my wet hair I like it to feel nice and soft. So, when I tried the Triple Luster Conditioner, I was very surprised. It isn't thick that the type of conditioner I usually use, yet it really left my hair soft and manageable. I was impressed when I got out of the shower and brushed my hair that I needed NO DETANGLER! It really did a great job on my hair. The first ingredient is Aloe water, no alcohol..and that really impresses me. I wish more mainstream brands would realize that all that crap isn't always necessary. And, you don't need to use too much. I have long hair and I realized after a couple of uses that I didn't need as much as I thought I did. You can get this in 2 ounce, 4 ounce or 8 ounce bottles. The 2 ounce is $5.45, the 4 ounce is $7.95 and the 8 ounce is $11.95. Plus, you can get it in any your hair smells the way you want it.
I know that I try out alot of Bath & Body products, but Crater Lake really impressed me. They use good ingredients and the products really exceeded my expectations. I know that some etailer products are more expensive than what you find in the store, but from my experience brand names don't always make quality products. To me, quality is always the most important thing and Crater Lake really has that quality.