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Halloween Toddler Activities!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! In case you missed the memo, Halloween is in SIX days! Our house has been decked out all month long and my 4-year-old wants to wear his costume day and night. The older he gets the more he can participate in festive actives which is why he usually has a few costumes to choose from. This week there are so many fun activities planned for kids in our area and I’m sharing a few of them with you so you can have a week-long Halloween celebration too!

Kroger Moonlight Madness: Several Kroger stores in the Atlanta area will be participating in a fun Moonlight Madness event this Thursday, October 27 from 4pm-7pm. Different stores throughout Atlanta will have a costume contest for kids, trick or treat at different departments, cake walk, pumpkin carving contest, cookie decoration station, a scavenger hunt, and lots of samples. The best part? It’s totally free to attend. Since we regularly shop at Kroger and it’s down the street from us, we will definitely be taking the kids there this week. We love a reason to get out of the house during their witching hours anyway!

Pumpkin Patch/Carving: Probably the most comment activity to experience with your kids in the Fall. We love to go at the beginning of the month so we can enjoy our pumpkins for all of October. We wait until just a few days before Halloween to carve them so they don’t rot. Since Halloween falls on a Monday this year, we will be carving up ours this weekend. And when I say we, I mean my husband. The kids will be painting pumpkins 🙂

Trunk or Treat: Plenty of churches and police stations host Trunk or Treats the week leading up to Halloween. They’re typically free and it’s a great way to interact with your community. Our local PD decorates squad cards, has a bounce house, prizes and even has the fire station come with a fire truck. This year the kids costumes will be very appropriate for the police station and I’m sure Henry will enjoy telling everyone that Evelyn is a criminal.

Halloween Movie Night: There are so many new and classic kid friendly Halloween movies and I love that Freeform (formerly ABC Family) plays a different one each night up until Halloween. Some of our families favorites include: Hocus Pocus, The Adams Family, It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Room on the Broom, Scared Shrekless, Mickey’s Monster Musical, and Hotel Transylvania. We always spend Halloween Eve watching festive movies and eating fun snacks, like Happy Halloween donuts from our favorite local bakery. Do you have any Halloween traditions or activities that you love doing as a family? Let me know in the comments below and happy haunting!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kroger. The opinions and text are all mine.

Loews Hotel, Atlanta

For our five year anniversary, my husband and I decided to do a mini staycation at the Loews Hotel in  Atlanta. We were excited to experience all the hotel has to offer: prime location in the city, an incredible room service menu, a fabulous restaurant, a Starbucks in the lobby, and an amazing spa. We really struck gold with the Loews and had the most wonderful time. Everyone was so helpful and kind and really made sure that our anniversary was special and all of our needs were taken care of. Located in the heart of Midtown, the Loews Hotel is within walking distance to nightlife, amazing restaurants, attractions, and landmarks.
We checked in around 3pm, had some drinks at the lobby bar and then headed to our room. We stayed in the Grand Luxury King Suite which overlooks Midtown with beautiful corner views and floor to ceiling windows. There is a separate living room with dining table and a huge bathroom with a soaking tub. I cannot tell you how long it had been since I was able to relax in a bath without hearing kids crying and dogs barking. It was nothing short of amazing and so needed. When most parents have the luxury of getting away, even for a night, most want a nice king size bed, cozy sheets, great pillows and a relaxed environment. The Loews provided all of that and more for our anniversary and we really felt pampered throughout our entire stay.
After relaxing for a bit we headed down to Exhale Spa, located on the 7th floor of the hotel. This spa has a few locations around the Atlanta area however this was our first time visiting. We had a couples massage with two female therapists which were beyond excellent. I’m usually not a fan of massages because they always seem to hurt me more than relax me, but my masseuse Monica was amazing. She listened to my concerns and was really experienced in the art of therapeutic massage. If you are an Atlanta local, you need to request her for your next visit. When we were finished with the couples massage we headed into the dry steam room to further relax and clear our minds. It can be so hard to unwind after a long week of working, taking care of children, pets, households, etc, but I have realized these past few months that self-care needs to come before anything else. We can’t expect to take care of everyone else if we don’t put ourselves first. Parents need their time together (and alone) to really be the best version of themselves. Even escaping for just 24 hours helped me get centered and focused again. After our wonderful visit to Exhale, we got ready for our anniversary dinner at Saltwood, the hotel restaurant. Before heading down we were treated to an amazing charcuterie platter and bottle of champagne. The presentation was so beautiful that it was hard to eat, but I’m so glad we did because it was delicious. You can read my full, detailed review of our dinner experience here. It was one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten.
After getting a full, uninterrupted night of sleep, we woke feeling refreshed and energized. Sleeping in is something we never get to do and it was one of the aspects we were looking forward to the most. We visited the fitness center at Exhale Spa before heading back to our room to indulge in a beautiful hotel breakfast spread. From the Belgium waffles to the eggs benedict, every piece of our meal was to die for. Ordering a hotel breakfast is one thing we cannot stay away from when traveling. We were so impressed by how amazing everything looked and tasted.
Our experience at Loews truly made our anniversary memorable. Even if you don’t have an anniversary or special event to celebrate, I encourage you to take time and escape!  Where is your favorite escape?
Thank you to the Loews Hotel, Atlanta, for hosting us. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Local Eats: Saltwood, Atlanta

This past Sunday, my husband and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary (!!) We were lucky enough to have a night out alone and had a mini staycation at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta. Tucked inside Loews is Saltwood, a wonderful charcuterie and bar. They serve the best selections of fresh cheese and meats which can only by topped by the beautiful presentation of each platter. They are carefully put together and almost look too pretty to eat. All of their cheeses and meat are locally sourced, which makes this farm to table style of dining work so well. A few of the local artisan cheese companies that Saltwood works with is Sweet Grass Dairy, Woodsman & Wife Cheese, and Calyroad Creamery. We had one of their beautiful cheese boards for an appetizer in our room before heading down to the lobby for dinner. The decor and style of Saltwood is modern, cozy, and sleek. There are plenty of tables in four separate dining areas, including the patio.
We arrived just before 7:30 and were welcomed by a lovely host who was more than accommodating throughout the entire evening. The staff have a warm, approachable attitude and make sure you’re taken care of without being obtrusive. We ordered some delicious cocktails and two appetizers: fresh burrata and the Gulf Coast seafood. The burrata was nothing short of amazing but the standout of the two was hands down the Gulf Coast seafood. Fried oyster, shrimp, snapper, okra with an escabeche aioli set the stage for only amazing dishes to come. My favorite cocktails of the night were the Contingency Plan {Tito’s Vodka, Fresh Lemon and Lavender} and the Summer Break {Peach Ciroc, Fresh Lemon & Lime}.
It’s not uncommon for the chef to come out and greet you while your dine, ask if you have questions about the menu and offer his suggestions. We loved getting to know Jeremy and hearing about how much love and dedication goes into making each meal at Saltwood. He also informed us of some exciting menu additions coming in the next few months which we will definitely be checking back in to try. My husband decided on the Spice Crusted Pork Tenderloin with potato purée, roasted mushrooms, date, and cilantro chimichurri. The infusion of all these ingredients was excellent and the pork was cooked to perfection. Pork is not something I tend to lean towards when ordering dinner, however, I would definitely order this for myself next time. After speaking with the chef, I was set on ordering the Southern Paella. This seafood wonderland included pan seared red snapper, scallops, mussels, and andouille sausage which sat upon a bed of amazing Carolina gold rice. Paella is a dish that originated in Spain but has evolved throughout the years and I love seeing the southern spin on this old classic.
Our dinner at Saltwood was one of the highlights of our anniversary. We cannot wait to come back and try out the amazing brunch menu. Breakfast tacos, chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, cold pressed juices … the list of plates I want to try is endless. If you work around the Midtown area, are in town for the night, or just want to try a new place, I can not recommend Saltwood enough. You will not be disappointed with your visit and it will quickly top your list of favorite places to dine at!
*Our meal & drinks were provided by Saltwood. As always, all opinions expressed are my own*

Local Eats: Mama’s Boy, Athens

My family loves breakfast. It’s our favorite meal of the day and on weekends we always have a least one big, hearty breakfast together. When planning vacations, food and restaurants are the number one thing I start researching (after accommodations). One of my favorite ways to find out about local eateries is through Instagram. Most restaurants follow their cities Instagram account and vice versa. I had followed the My Athens account for a few months prior to our trip and food pictures from Mama’s Boy frequented their feed. I could not wait to visit here during our Athens trip. 

I need an iced coffee first thing in the morning before anything else. Sometimes I think I am addicted because I literally crave it when I wake up. My husband prefers his warm but I drink mine iced year round. It could be -30 degrees outside and you would still see me sipping on iced coffee. Mama’s Boy coffee is delicious and they offer free refills when you order it iced. For our starter, we decided to share the banana bread with honey poppy seed butter.  This butter was definitely the start of the show and if I worked at Mama’s Boy, I would be hiding in the back on my break eating this with a spoon. 

My husband usually orders the heartiest thing on the menu and chose the Mill Town Breakfast Plate. I’m a huge fan of a restaurant’s specials and on this Saturday one of their specials were the Shrimp & Grits with poached eggs, creole sauce, and cheddar cheese. It was without a doubt phenomenal and had a kick to it which added a ton a flavor. If you follow my food posts, you know I am egg obsessed and add eggs to just about everything. I can’t make poached eggs to save my life so when I see them on the menu, I can’t resist. The kids shared the Cinnamon French Toast sticks and biscuits. Ahhh, the biscuits. Paired with the homemade raspberry jam, they are melt in your mouth deliciousness and will have you dreaming about them for weeks on end. 

When visiting Mama’s Boy on the weekends, I suggest coming early or be prepared to wait for a bit. This place is so popular with the locals and for good reason. The restaurant is cozy, service is fast and the food is outstanding and budget friendly. Thank you, Mama’s Boy for hosting us! 

*This review was in partnership with Mama’s Boy. As always, all opinions expressed are my own*

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Date Night Atlanta: Topgolf

I am so excited to bring you a new blog series today called Date Night Atlanta. This series will cover some of the best places to visit in the Atlanta area that have been tried and tested by me and my hubby. Kicking off the series is our day date at Topgolf. If you haven’t checked out Topgolf than you have been missing out! It is such a great place for date nights, family nights, birthdays or to just go and have some dinner and watch the game. What I love most about it is that you don’t need to know how to play golf whatsoever. Topgolf is like a driving range on steroids and it’s fun for any age. There are several spots across the US so be sure to check the locations and see if there is one near you.

While it may not be our New Years resolution, my husband and I have tried to set aside one day or night a month where we have a date. Whether it be at a fabulous restaurant or to explore what the city has to offer, making our relationship number one is crucial for a thriving marriage. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day lives of working, kids, housework and general adult responsibility. Setting aside time together allows us to reconnect and focus on each other. We love having some drinks at the rooftop bar at Topgolf before going to our bay. They have live music quite often and it’s such a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The food at Topgolf is not your typical bar food. They have so many delicious options. From flat bread pizzas to burgers and sandwiches, there is something for everyone. They also serve brunch which is my favorite meal of the day (try and Chicken & Waffle Sliders!) Since it was past brunching hours, we started off with the Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese Spring Rolls and Craft Beer Queso and Chips. After enjoying some signature cocktails we decided to skip right to dessert. We kept seeing these amazing looking donut holes coming out from the kitchen and knew we had to have them. Turns out they were the Injectable Donut Holes that you can inject with chocolate, raspberry jelly and Bavarian cream. Even if you’re not hungry, you have to order these. They’re life changing!

Topgolf has seven different golf games you can play on your bay. My husband and I usually just play the signature game where you score points by hitting into any target. However when my husband goes with his friends they usually play more experienced games like Top Drive and Top Shot. During football season this is the best place to go and watch all the games, have some drinks, order yummy food and enjoy the crisp Fall air. All bays are climate-controlled making Topgolf fun year round.
If you’re looking for a fun day or night activity with your spouse, be sure to check out Topgolf. Now that I’m officially a golf & donut injectable pro I’ll be back every weekend! Thank you Topgolf for such a fun date!
*this post was in partnership with Topgolf, Alpharetta. As always, all opinions expressed are my own

Local Eats: South Main Kitchen, Alpharetta

In the past few years there has been a wave of remodeling of historic neighborhoods in the North Atlanta suburbs. Downtown Alpharetta is one of those amazing spots. They have a wonderful farmers market on the weekend, food trucks every Thursday, a brand new city hall with a huge green lawn, new sidewalks and plenty of shops and restaurants. One eatery that is sure to catch your eye is South Main Kitchen, located on South Main Street directly across from the new City Hall. They focus on the social aspect of dining with their farm to table atmosphere.

I love all the outdoor space that South Main Kitchen has. It really is the best place for a summer date or girls night out. There is an upper and lower deck, side patio and a few tables in front. Upon entering the original building that has been completely restored, you are welcomed with friendly faces and a laid back attitude. The members of the staff could easily become your friends by the end of the night.

My husband and I sat on the upper deck since the weather was beautiful. For starters we went with Flo’s Sweet Fries with blue cheese dressing and the Meatballs with beef gravy, blueberry jam and watercress. Neither disappointed. Other small plates which stood out were the Brisket Tacos, Lamb Poppers and Kale Chips. Guests also swear by the Brussels Sprouts so I am going back there as soon as I can to order.
After sampling a few cocktails and sadly finishing our starters, we ordered our main courses. Whenever there are scallops on the menu, I cannot pass them up. This particular plate had sea scallops served in a tarragon and miso broth with red potatoes, snap peas, pickled mushrooms, watercress and basil oil. I am a huge vinegar fan but if you are not keen on that taste, this dish isn’t for you, being that the mushrooms are pickled. My husband chose the Filet Mignon which was served over a parsnip puree, quinoa, grilled asparagus, pickled mushrooms and a blueberry & peppercorn balsamic reduction. The plating of the entree was so beautiful and my husband said it was cooked to perfection. He isn’t a huge quinoa fan but he loved how this was mixed with all the other flavors.
Usually I never save room for dessert but as soon as I saw the Strawberry Shortcake I had to indulge. Served on a house made oat biscuit with strawberry balsamic jam and chamomile whipped cream, this Strawberry Shortcake was without a doubt the best I’ve ever tasted. My husband and I made room in our bellies for after dinner cocktails before calling it an evening. If you’re visiting this summer, you must try the strawberry & basil cocktail. Simply delicious!
A huge thank you to South Main Kitchen for having us. I cannot wait to return!
*This review was in partnership with South Main Kitchen. As always, all opinions expressed are my own*

LegoLand Discovery Center {Atlanta)

It probably comes as no shock when I say that my almost four year old son is obsessed with Legos. Literally obsessed. He loves to build, tear apart and rebuild. A few weeks ago we planned a trip to LegoLand Discovery Center in Atlanta with Henry, myself and husband. We left Evelyn with my mom so we could have some quality time with Henry. Being that Evelyn is only 16 months old, she wouldn’t have enjoyed herself since 99% of the actives are for older kids (however children 2 and under have free admission). We were able to really experience LegoLand and all it had to offer without having to worry about pushing a stroller or rushing to leave for Evelyn’s nap. We also were not the only parents with this mindset because all the children I saw there that day were at least 3 years old and up.

LegoLand is located in the heart of Buckhead in Phipps Plaza on the third floor. It is promoted as an indoor discovery center and playground. From the moment you step off the elevator you are hit with all things Lego. We arrived right when it opened at 10am and stayed for about two hours. There is endless entertainment, building stations, climbing stations, slides, karaoke, a cafe, rides and a 4D movie theater which plays several different short films throughout the day. There is a helpful countdown clock at the theater entrance so you know when the next showing is.

Henry has been to LegoLand once before with my mom but this was our first time. Trust me when I say he never forgot a single thing he did there, even after a year from his first visit. He was so excited that he woke up at 3am Sunday morning saying it was time to “shoot the bad guys!” LegoLand has an interactive ride where you can “shoot” bad guys on the screen in order to rescue the princess. They also take your picture while riding on the ride which you can purchase after for $12. Totally worth it  since you get a 5×7 size and the option to go online and download and print more. The keepsake is so sweet and Henry chose to hang the picture in his room.

The race car station allowed children to build their own cars and then send them flying down a ramp to see if the cars would get enough momentum to land in the bucket. Henry loved the building part but the bigger kids definitely loved the racing!
There is an earthquake table which Henry and my husband both enjoyed. They spent nearly 20 minutes at that station building the tallest buildings and then setting off the earthquake and seeing whose building could stay up the longest. There are stations everywhere and they are nicely spread out. The center never felt crowded, even when it got busier as the day went on.
My favorite part was the Lego recreation of Atlanta. From Turner Field to the Varsity, the entire city was built made out of Lego’s. It was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. Most of the Dad’s in attendance seemed to love this room the most 🙂 Did you know there are 62 lego bricks for every person on Earth? The fact that there are more legos in existence than people blows my mind. Lego takeover anyone?

Henry’s favorite part of Lego Land was by far the new Pirate Island Adventure cove which had a great indoor climbing and play area, a lego build station and even a water build station where kids could build pirate ships in the water and send them floating down to the bottom. Your child will definitely get wet here, which is part of the experience, so be sure to keep that in mind when dressing them for the adventure!

After finishing up in the discovery center you are taken to the incredible Lego shop which is a mecca for kids. They have every building set you could imagine and a ton of fun accessories. I personally wanted the pink lego backpack but my husband vetoed that idea. LegoLand even offers hosted birthday parties that include pizza, drinks, a private party room and plenty of play time.

After Lego Land we had lunch right across at Johnny Rocket’s. We finished out our day with milkshakes, root beer floats, french fries and old fashioned burgers. It reminded me of times when my dad and I would go there because he always loved the Johnny Rockets milkshakes.

He had a smile on his face the entire time and I haven’t seen him that happy in a while. I knew he loved being able to spend time with his parents alone and have the focus solely be on him. After Evelyn joined our family a lot of my attention went to her, naturally since she is a lot younger and cannot do anything on her own yet, so my time with Henry was cut short in a lot of ways. Spending the afternoon together with just the three of us reminded me that I need to take more time and do one on one activities that just involve the three of us or even him and me. Experiencing LegoLand together was such incredible and I highly recommend it for kids 3 and up. If you have an older child, it’s ideal for a solo date with just them. You can find more information about tickets, hours and location on their website.

*Thank you to Lego Land Atlanta for providing tickets for our visit. As always, all opinions expressed are my own*

 

 

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