Kira’s Korner

I Am Now A Mom Ambassador For Moms Meet

Kira Riley : March 31, 2014 4:20 pm : Kira's Korner

moms meet Hampton Roads

I am excited to add another ambassador title to my growing resume! I was accepted as a Mom Ambassador for Moms Meet, a community for eco-friendly mothers who want to raise healthy families. As a mom ambassador, I will lead a moms group to sample natural, organic and eco-friendly products & services to share our feedback with the companies. Some of the companies include:

Stonyfield Organic

Bob’s Red Mill

Applegate

SO Delicious

…and more!

I am already a consumer of some of the brands and I am looking forward to trying some more! I am looking for Moms in Hampton Roads to add to my moms group to review products. If you are interested in participating,  email momsgroup@757Lifestyle.com

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Diet Confusion: 5 Reasons Why I Don’t Know What To Eat

Kira Riley : March 25, 2014 1:09 pm : Food & Dining, Kira's Korner, Lifestyle

 

what is the best dietIt’s been 9 years since I started on my journey towards eating healthy and losing weight. I have lost over 100 lbs and for the most part kept the weight off (minus a few pounds – or 10 – here & there). Now in my 9th year, I am more confused than ever. As soon as I had a way of eating down pat, I would come to discover that maybe it wasn’t so healthy for me after all. *Enter very frustrated and annoyed GIF here.* With all of the conflicting information on what is healthy vs. what isn’t, I came to the conclusion that the best results were to basically eat air. At least that would be safe. Well, minus the toxins in the air.

Pic Source 

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Know What To Eat

1. Wheat Is Good For You… Or Is It??  Well, depends on you ask. The Sugar Buster’s Diet (which was the reason I lost all my weight) taught whole wheat vs. white flour products were good for you. I recently discovered that I am gluten intolerant and now eat gluten-free. There are arguments on both sides on whether or not to eat wheat. I can say from personal experience my health is better since eliminating wheat/gluten from my diet completely.  Source

2. Good Fats vs Bad Fats  Another source of conflict. There are proponents for eating healthy fats (organic grass-fed beef, dairy, etc) as much as you like and those who say in moderation. Then there is the ages old no fat at all is best. Who do you believe? As for me, right now, I am eating healthy fats (coconut oil, Kerry Gold Butter, Olive Oil).   Source

3. Dairy  For years we have been told to eat yogurt, cheese and drink our milk in order to receive calcium and have strong bones. We are now hearing that dairy causes inflammation and cow’s milk was not meant for human consumption.  What to believe? :-/ As my options are already limited and I seem to tolerate dairy well, I do continue to eat dairy but have changed what I eat. I now eat Organic Greek Yogurt (full fat). I eat cheese occasionally and stick to the serving size.  Source

4. Eggs  I have heard eggs are very nutritious and should be a part of healthy diet & it does not affect cholesterol levels.  Some say they should be avoided because of the cholesterol content.  I’ve read no yolk is better (although the nutrition is in the yolk) and only eat the egg whites. In prior research, I also discovered it depends on how the egg is cooked or whether it is still healthy for you (oxidation). Sigh.  With eggs being one of my favorite, I continue to eat them.  I try to choose Organic, free range eggs from chickens fed a healthy diet (non-GMO feed). They are sometimes hard to find, but I just do the best I can and leave it at that. I am looking forward to Farmer’s Market in the spring to try to get some local sourced eggs, from an organic farmer.  Source, Source 2

5. Grains, Legumes & Nuts Are Bad For You?  After discovering I needed to eat gluten-free, I relied  more on grains, legumes (rice, quinoa, lentils)  and nuts (almond butter, sunflower seeds) as a healthy part of my diet. Until I was introduced to the wonderful word (sarcasm) phytates. Foods with phytic acid present are said to leach  much-needed minerals out of your body. Wow, another one bites the dust. I have read and re-read Weston Price’s research on the subject. I now only eat them sparingly and organic versus it making up a large part of my diet. I know sprouting is best to help reduce the phytic content, but I haven’t gotten to that level yet.  Source 1, Source 2

 

While deciding what to eat and how to eat can be extremely frustrating and overwhelming (especially for those who try to eat healthy), it is best to take what you find on the internet with a grain of salt. Everyone has their reasons for why the believe a certain way is better and it can be rather convincing. My advice is to  do your own research, follow your intuition and listen to your body. Ultimately, it is your health and your body will let you know what is best. Although the past few months have been challenging trying to navigate yet another new way of eating, the following websites have been very helpful. You may not agree with everything they say, but I believe they are a great starting point. Check out:

Food Babe

The Healthy Home Economist

Wellness Mama

Do you share my frustration? Do you have any tips or comments? Share below!

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I Joined The Savvy Shopper Street Team

Kira Riley : February 27, 2014 11:48 am : Community, Featured, Kira's Korner, Lifestyle

savvy shopper hampton roadsAnyone who truly knows me knows I love a good bargain. I hate paying full price for anything, if I can help it. I decided to apply for the Daily Press Savvy Shopper Street Team (headed by Nicole Paitsel) to help share some of my knowledge of saving money in Hampton Roads. You can check out my feature in the Daily Press, along with the other new members, here. In the feature I share my tips for getting the best deals on food, movies, Great Wolf Lodge and more.

If you want to stay up-to-date on all the great deals, sales and more in Hampton Roads, be sure to visit The Savvy Shopper Blog and Facebook page. You can also follow the Savvy Shopper on Twitter.

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My Favorite Things: ShoeDazzle Shoes

Kira Riley : January 10, 2014 11:35 am : Fashion, Featured, Kira's Korner

 

I have not been this obsessed over anything in a while, and now I am sharing that obsession with you! I have known about the shoe dazzle shoes reviewcompany since Kim Kardashian first introduced it a few years ago, it just wasn’t something I was interested in at the time. Being that I am short and love shoes to give me a little lift, but also value comfort now over anything else, I fell in love with the wedge sneaker. I purchased my first pair from Steve Madden and became hooked. I wanted different styles and colors, but I didn’t want to break the bank. I came across the ShoeDazzle “Amuse” wedge sneaker and fell in love. The price was great, it was cute and on sale, so I ordered it in silver and white. They were SO comfortable and looked great on my foot. After my initial purchase I became ShoeDazzle crazy, and went on an ordering spree. After my first purchase in September, I ordered 6 more pairs in November! (Hides face in shame).  I purchased the “Izabel” in two colors, “Amuse” in Gold, “Boast,” “Marianny” and “Charge.” But being the smart and savvy shopper that I am, I always purchased the shoes on sale, so I got a great deal. 😉 I even purchased a pair from eBay that was no longer being sold on the site. I later received an invitation to become a ShoeDazzle VIP, which means even more savings. I also love the fact that I can skip a month (great for when money is tight, especially after the holidays). As long as they keep providing affordable and fashionable shoes, they have a customer in me!

Review by shoe

Izabel: Love these boots! They are so beautiful and comfortable; but they have a time limit. At least with me. After about three hours, I was ready to take them off.

Amuse: These sneakers are super comfy and I could wear them all day & night long!

Boast: Very comfy and cute!

Marianny: I LOVE this bootie but it doesn’t love me 🙁 It hurt/was uncomfortable from the time I put it on until the end of the night. It just progressively got worse. I don’t know if I ordered the wrong size or if the way the shoe is made is not good for my foot. Only wore it once (recently on our Anniversary) and I think I may sell them. :_(

Charge: Love this shoe! The ONLY downside is the squeaking it makes when you walk. It’s annoying but if you are in a noisy place, it’s not noticeable. Still hoping it goes away eventually. It was a great travel shoe (airport).

Riya (fur boots in pic): I haven’t worn these out yet, but I have a feeling they may not be for a lot of walking. Will update my review once I wear them.

Any other ShoeDazzle fans out there? What’s your favorite purchase?

* I was not paid to write this post, I am just a huge fan!

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[Review] Our First Visit To SeaWorld Orlando

Kira Riley : January 3, 2014 5:56 pm : Kira's Korner, Travel

family vacation seaworld orlando 2013

As we planned our first trip to Disney World, I knew that I wanted the opportunity to visit SeaWorld Orlando as well. I wanted to take in as much as possible because I had no idea when we would be able to make it back.  I was able to secure two media passes to visit the park and used my Busch Gardens Williamsburg 2-Park Pass to get 50% off two tickets from my children.

Our Visit

Upon walking in, everything was decorated for Christmas, giving a beautiful festive holiday feel. It was so beautiful to see Christmas trees up with a backdrop of palm trees. The park gave me a feel of a zoo and theme park rolled into one with the animals, aquariums and the rides. It was the best of both worlds! I hated that my children were missing instructional time, but I made sure to make our entire trip as educational as possible. SeaWorld Orlando made that a breeze with animal facts posted at the attractions. It was great for my children to have fun but learn at the same time.

Rides

I wasn’t much in a mood for roller coasters which is rare for me, but with the landscaping of the park and wonderful shows, I didn’t need the rides to enjoy myself. My husband and son had a wonderful time riding Manta and Kraken. My son would not stop raving about how awesome Manta was. He said there is nothing like it and you have to experience it for yourself. Kraken, although enjoyable, they described as kind of mild and underwhelming, which I guess after Manta, it would be. Next, we rode Journey To Atlantis together as a family and I LOVED it. It was so much fun, and nothing like I expected it to be. The ride theming itself is impressive and beautiful when you see the ride from afar. We wanted to ride it again, but with it being a little chilly (to me) I didn’t want to get wet again.

Antarctica: Empire of The Penguin was wonderful! Although the ride itself is a little short, it is very enjoyable and the end is awesome. Seeing the penguins in their habitat and being able to visit their world (it’s freezing!) was an amazing experience. Although I couldn’t stay long once the we got off the ride ( I don’t tolerate cold well), my husband stayed and took some great pics.

We made our way to Shamu’s Happy Harbor, the kid-friendly section of the park. (It is very similar to Sesame Street Forest of Fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg ride-wise.) We first tried Net Climb, which was hilarious. It was fun to run behind the kids and play with them but it also reminded us that we aren’t as young as we think. We were winded and even got stuck at one point- but we had a ball! We also rode Shamu Express, Jazzy Jellies (a little too fast & high for me!) , Sea Carousel and The Flying Fiddler. It was nice to relax and have fun with my “babies” who aren’t exactly babies anymore. It made me appreciate the age that they are now and realize how fast they grow. 🙁

In between the rides, we had the chance to enjoy Blue Horizons and Miracles. I was absolutely mesmerized by both shows. They were wonderful. At the end of night we enjoyed the the Holiday Reflections Fireworks and Fountain Finale. It was fantastic! One of the best firework displays I have ever seen.

Overall Experience

I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to SeaWorld. It was cool how many things reminded me of my “home park” of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, which gave it a familiarity. I loved the shows, the rides, the landscaping and theming/ design of the park. The park was clean, prices were reasonable and there was something for all of us to enjoy.

You can view photos and video of our trip to SeaWorld Orlando via our Instagram and YouTube pages.

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[Review] Our First Trip To Disney World: Tips & Tricks

Kira Riley : January 3, 2014 4:41 pm : Family Fun, Kira's Korner, Reviews, Tips & Tricks, Travel

epcot december 2013

After years of saying we were going to make the big trip to Disney World, we finally did it! It was by far one of my favorite family trips to date and I will never forget the entire experience. I used to wonder why everyone made such a big deal of visiting “Walt Disney World.”  It wasn’t until after I experienced everything for myself that I understood why it’s a place you must visit at least once – more if you can afford it/handle it!

Tickets

I decided to use Undercover Tourist  for tickets based on the recommendations of other bloggers. I am very happy I did! Lila responded to a question I had about purchasing very promptly and was very polite. Picking up the tickets locally was a breeze and they were exactly what I paid for (real hard souvenir tickets, not paper vouchers). Based on my research, they also have the best pricing. I will definitely use Undercover Tourist again and I highly recommend them!

When To Go To Disney World

As I talked about in my previous post, I made sure to do my research and prepare myself for the trip. Thanks to my husband, he also did his homework in regards of when to go. After reading the recent story of the crowds at Disney during New Year’s, there is NO WAY I would ever go during the holiday or summer season. With the amount it costs to get into the park (and travel from out of state), I want to make sure I am getting my money’s worth by experiencing and riding everything possible. Thankfully, we went at a great time of the year (December 9-12, 2013) where our longest wait time was only about an hour. We were pretty much able to ride everything we wanted to ride. The longest ride time was Toy Story Midway Mania! with 70-90 minutes and we chose to ride Tower of Terror as our last ride instead of waiting, since we had Fast Passes. *You also have to keep in mind that depending on the time of year, rides and attractions may be shut down for refurbishment.

When you decide to go may vary depending on many factors, with most families vacationing around school breaks and holidays. Due to that being the most popular time of the year, be prepared for large crowds and long wait times. If you are able to travel during low volume times when kids are still in school, go for it. I recommend this only if your children are able to afford missing the instructional time based on school district requirements, work load,  school grade/age, etc. This is a case by case basis and should be discussed as a family and with your school principal and teachers. My children are honor roll students and are great at catching up, but are also only elementary school students. As they move on to middle school and up, I will not allow them to miss unnecessary instructional time due to the work load increase and demands.

Undercover Tourist has a great calendar that is very helpful in planning when to visit Disney parks based on crowd volume.  View the Disney World Crowd Calendar.

What Disney Park Should I Visit and When?

Once you decide when you are traveling to Disney, the next hurdle is what parks to visit and on what day.  Although it is Florida, considering we went during the winter, I was not interested in visiting any water parks. (Although the weather was warm enough most days!). I also visit water parks and beaches quite frequently here at home and on other vacations, so I was more concerned with visiting Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. What parks you will visit will depend on each families preferences, the time of the year you are traveling, the length of your trip and your budget. *You also have to keep in mind that depending on the time of year, parks may be shut down for refurbishment.

I would advise you discuss as a family what rides and attractions are most important to your visit and prioritize based on that information. Upon checking in at the Guest Services desk our first day at Disney (Magic Kingdom), we received a great schedule that helped with planning our days at the parks based on the hours. Make sure to pick up the calendar for the week as it has the most up-to-date information with park hours, shows, etc. While there, you can also pick up your complimentary buttons to wear showcasing it’s your first visit, or if you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary.

The trusty calendar from Undercover Tourist also helps in planning what parks to visit on what days based on crowd levels. View Disney Parks Crowd Level Calendar

Navigating The Park/Planning Your Day

Since it was our first time, we had no idea where we were going or what we were doing! The My Disney Experience Mobile App was great and helped out tremendously! Not only does it have a map with GPS navigation (although it drains your phone!) it also will give you ride wait times. You can also find character greetings, FAST PASS return times and more.  It was an invaluable tool. I also utilized the schedules given to us from  guest services. I sat down and circled everything I wanted to do and we planned it by ride wait times and locations. The FAST PASS is a wonderful tool and I LOVE that it is free! When we visited Universal Studios Orlando for the first time last year during a cruise stop, we gladly paid for the Express Pass/Universal Ride Reservation System due to being on a tight schedule. Having the option for free at Disney is awesome! Bear in mind that popular attractions can run out of Fast Passes, so get them early and hit less crowded rides in the mean time.

I also planned rides and character meetings around show times and the night time fireworks. It’s possible to fit (almost) everything in with the right planning.  Undercover Tourist also offers great apps to help with planning your trip to Disney as well as Universal.

Saving Money On Food At Disney

I discovered through my research that Disney allows food (that does not require heating) and drinks in the parks. Everyone behind us at the security line said they wanted hang out with my husband after seeing all the food and drinks he packed into his book bag. 😀 My hubby was great about making and packing lunch for everyone to munch on throughout the day. (Sandwiches, drinks, chips, apple sauce, water, juice boxes, sunflower seeds, candy, you name it!)  Over the four days at the parks, we only spent about $50 on food, buying little things like ice cream, smoothies and cotton candy/popcorn. We stayed in a condo with a kitchen so we made sure to have a nice big breakfast before hitting the park and ate dinner or a little something (if we weren’t too tired) once we got back to our place.

Lodging

While everyone would love to stay at one of the many wonderful properties offered by Disney, it may be out of your budget. We knew we needed – and wanted – a space that included a kitchen and more room than your standard hotel. We knew it would be more cost effective for us as a family. I found a travel company (Squirrel Travel) on eBay that offered a great deal for 7 days and 6 nights in a 2 BR, 2.5 bath condo at Encantada Resort. It was big, spacious and beautiful. We had an enclosed porch with a hot tub and patio set – although we were too worn out from the park to enjoy it. They also offered complimentary shuttles to the parks (we opted to rent a vehicle) and other amenities. The cost was only $400 BUT it was due to a timeshare presentation opportunity. We also received 2 SeaWorld Orlando tickets. It worked out GREAT for our family, but you may choose to go another route. But for those who love a great deal and don’t mind checking out a timeshare presentation/property for a few hours, check them or another timeshare/resort out.

However, on our next trip, we definitely want to stay at a Disney property. The Extra Magic Hours and other Disney resort benefits make it worth trying out.

Overall Disney Experience

I started to name my favorite rides, but then started to think about all the other shows and attractions that I loved as well. I became overwhelmed. I would get tired of writing about it and I am sure everyone would get tired of reading it. I will just say I enjoyed it ALL. I had a magical time and truly felt like a kid again. I was probably more excited and had more fun than my children. Growing up and going to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion on a regular basis made me think I knew what to expect when visiting Disney World. I figured it would be similar – albeit a step up – from other theme parks. Boy, was I wrong. I lost count with how many times my mouth dropped open in surprise and delight while on a ride and while exploring the parks. Normally my children are the ones poking me and asking, “Did you see that?!” I did a lot of the poking and pointing this trip – and I am proud of it. There is something I loved about each park, but I think Epcot was my favorite. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to everything I wanted to see there; I had no idea how massive that park truly is! I am looking forward to our return trip so I can finish exploring the other side of Epcot and the rest of Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. I am hoping to get at least one ride in on Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios and take in the Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom. Someone said once you return you would start planning your next trip. Although I have not fully put my plan into motion, I am already thinking about it. I can’t wait. 🙂

Feel free to share your Disney experience in the comments below!

You can check out more pictures and video from our Walt Disney World Trip on my Instagram and on 757 Lifestyle’s Instagram.

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[Review] Christmas Town Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Kira Riley : November 26, 2013 4:49 pm : Kira's Korner, Reviews

I had the pleasure of attending the Christmas Town Blogger Preview/Media event on Friday, November 22. Friday was opening night for the annual holiday event, now in its fifth season. As part of the blogger event, we were able to enjoy Santa’s Fireside Feast, a dining experience available exclusively during Christmas Town. In addition to being served a delightful meal (turkey, mashed potatoes, chicken nuggets, Swedish meatballs and more!), we had the chance to dine with Kris Kringle himself.  Santa, Mrs. Claus and Jingle (the elf) welcomed us with open arms and helped to set the mood for a great night of Christmas cheer.

christmastown blogger event

 

 

After dining on the lovely meal and photo opportunities, we were treated to a story by Santa and cookies for dessert  (other goodies were available too) by Mrs. Claus.

We were then left to explore all that Christmas Town has to offer. The feeling cast by the millions of sparkling lights and the Christmas music is truly magical. The beauty of Christmas Town is that just strolling and taking in the sights and sounds is enjoyable enough; the shows, food and tours are added bonuses. After dinner, we left Castle O’Sullivan and headed for Italy. There is no way you can pass the amazing array of lights on Escape from Pompeii without admiring its beauty. We had to stop, take pictures and take it all in.

christmastown busch gardens

After enjoying the twinkling lights of Escape from Pompeii, we headed toward Holiday Hills where the kids enjoyed popcorn and riding Snowman Summit.

busch gardens christmas town

We tried to take the train to head towards Le Catapult, but it was full. We decided to  head towards Da Vinci’s Cradle and Battering Ram instead and we were able to walk right on (woohoo!). The kids were anxious to ride Verbolten, the only coaster open this year during Christmas Town (weather permitting). (See list of available Christmas Town Rides ) On our way there, we were mesmerized by the sight of Miracles on the stage at Il Teatro di San Marco Theatre.  (See list of Christmas Town shows) We stopped to take in a little of the dancing before declaring we would have to return to Christmas Town again to enjoy the full show. After a ride on Verbolten (my hubby and I sat that one out), we decided to  browse the Mistletoe Marketplace and check out all of the local vendors. There were so many wonderful gifts to choose from at great prices! From jewelry to home-made keyholders and hair bows, there was a little something for everyone.Can’t forget the awesome wine!

We were given a voucher to enjoy decorating an ornament as family, so we headed to The Caribou Pottery. The kids enjoyed painting their ornament in their favorite football team colors (Bengals for my son and 49ers for my daughter) despite it being a poinsettia flower ornament. I pointed this out much to their chagrin, but they continued on anyway. The ornament had to be left behind to be fired, so it will be shipped to us once it is ready. I am very interested to see how that turns out!

make christmas ornament christmas town

Although we didn’t get to experience any shows  or every detail of Christmas Town, we had a wonderful evening together as a family and I wouldn’t change a thing. Strolling hand in hand (normally we are more rushed during the normal operating season, trying to take everything in) forces you to slow down and really enjoy the wonderful family-oriented atmosphere and truly get into the spirit of Christmas and what Christmas Town is about. Going to Christmas Town has become a family tradition and we look forward to many more years to come of keeping the tradition going.

Start your own Christmas Town  tradition by visiting the park  now until December 31, 2013. For operating hours, ticket information and more visit, my post HERE.

For pictures and video of our night at Christmas Town, visit our Instagram page, HERE.

To see my review of the Christmas Town Holiday Decoration Tour and other available tours, visit HERE.

To explore everything Christmas Town has to offer and plan your visit, www.ChristmasTown.com/va.

Fun Christmas Town Facts By The Numbers

*There are 6 million Christmas lights used throughout the park
*85% of the lights are energy-saving LED lights
*There are more than 1500 fresh-cut Christmas trees used to decorate the park. They are turned into mulch at the end of the season        and placed in planters and flower beds.
*25 miles of cable are used to provide power for Christmas Town.
*The park is wrapped in more than 3 miles of garland.
*More than 700 wreaths and artificial trees are used as decoration.
*There are 800 lit snowflakes and stars illuminating the park.
*20,000 Christmas ornaments have been strategically placed on the trees.
*900 window candles and luminaries brighten Christmas Town.
*Thousands of hours of installation are completed by a 70-person team to bring Christmas Town to life.

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[Review] Holiday Decoration Creation Tour At Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Kira Riley : November 26, 2013 1:00 pm : Featured, Kira's Korner, Reviews

busch gardens holiday decoration tourI had the unique opportunity to review The Exclusive Holiday Decoration Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this past Friday. We (Myself & other bloggers) were actually the first to experience the tour, a new offering during Christmas Town for the 2013 season. The Holiday Decoration Tour featured a journey into the wonder of Christmas Town (during the day) and observing some of the impressive holiday arrangements. After getting some inspiration from the masters, we were given a chance to put our skills to the test by making our own holiday arrangement at the greenhouse.

My Review

 

The Walking Tour

We were greeted warmly by Millie and Philip, Landscape supervisors at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Millie has worked at Busch for 14 years, and her passion and enthusiasm for design and landscaping is very apparent and infectious. As she walked us around the park and we stopped to examine some of her creations, you could see (and feel) that she truly loves what she does, which was very refreshing. Millie also shared valuable information about using items you already have and repurpose them by using spray paint or utilizing them in different ways. Philip was just as nice and genuine throughout the tour. Philip shared he deals with the landscaping side more, while Millie handles pots. They were very open and constantly invited us to ask any questions we may have, no matter what they may be.

With the natural beauty of Busch Gardens, it makes the decoration transition of the normal operating season to Christmas Town a little easier. Philip shared they hold back on pruning, allowing things to go grow, so the materials used to decorate could be harvested.  We observed the addition of holly to the reindeer this year, which Millie shared can brown quickly. She explained some of her crew will spray paint it, which eliminates the problem of browning. While the temperature drop may affect the holly, it actually helps to preserve the moisture in the soil of the watered plants, helping them to last longer. MILLIE TIP – placing ice cubes in the soil of indoor plants due to the heat in the home during the winter will offer the same effect.

I learned that the park planted 1500 trees for Christmas Town, which workers planted around the clock in shifts! Up until the last minute, the Busch Gardens team was hard at work, preparing for opening night of Christmas Town. As we toured, there were a ton of leaves on the walk ways, but by the time the gates opened, they had been blown away.

If you ever wondered how they  helped to spread the delightful smell of pine throughout the park, they let us in on a little secret. They will put pine trees through the wood chipper and sprinkle the pieces throughout the flower beds. Smells great!

The tour really helped me to truly appreciate the work, time and effort that goes into decorating and beautifying Busch Gardens throughout the year. Busch Gardens has not been awarded the Most Beautiful Theme Park Award for 22-consecutive years for no reason; the title is definitely earned hard through a lot of hard work and dedication.

Our Turn

After we finished our walking tour, it was our turn to get our hands dirty and create our own masterpiece. We headed back to the greenhouse where we were introduced to our workstation and given safety glasses, gloves, pruning shears, a pot and soil. We were then led outside to start picking our plant materials. We were given a variety of great materials to work with; so much so, it was overwhelming! There were neatly set up outside, sprawled across a few tables. As the daughter of an interior decorator and a master floral arranger, I was intimidated but excited to get started. I had already admitted that arrangements were not my strong suit, but I wanted to give it a try to see if some of it had been passed down. As I stared at the materials trying to decided what to use, I decided to just relax and have fun. What initially turned out to be a great arrangement while in my hand, once I got back to my work space, that was another story. I was lost! But regardless, I enjoyed trying and had a ball giving it my all. After realizing my decoration needed a little more umph, I asked Millie to use her expertise to spruce it up a bit. It turned out great! It is now sitting proudly in my front yard for all to see. I enjoyed myself so much, I am going to book the tour to take my mother back. With her design background, I know she would thoroughly enjoy the tour.

holiday decoration tour at busch gardens

holiday decoration pot

The Holiday Decoration Creation Tour is available on Christmas Town Operating Days at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. from now until December 31. The tour costs $30/person and is only for ages 18 and up. The cost does not include admission and parking for the park, which is not included. For more information, visit http://seaworldparks.com/christmastown-williamsburg/Book-Online/Extras/CTExclusiveTours. To see all of the pics from the tour, visit our Instagram page, instagram.com/757Lifestyle.

*Thank you to Busch Gardens and Koy for the invite to review the tour!

*Special thanks to Lauren as well, the Tour Supervisor. She was a sweetheart and helped with taking pics. She also shared about all of the great tours available throughout Christmas Town, which you can find here.

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ShadowQuest Opens At Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg

Kira Riley : October 14, 2013 10:35 am : Entertainment, Family Fun, Featured, Kid Friendly, Kira's Korner

Shadow Quest

As the Ask-A-Mom for Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, I had the pleasure of attending opening weekend of ShadowQuest over the weekend (October 11-13, 2013).  Lodge guests will now have the opportunity to partake in another exciting and magical adventure, in addition to MagiQuest. Similar to the original interactive quest, ShadowQuest allows you to choose from ten quests or an adventure to find the “Vanishing Light.”  For more information on the game, visit http://www.greatwolf.com/shadowquest.

Being that we frequently visit the lodge, my children were excited to try the new adventure game. They enjoyed running around the lodge collecting crystals to complete their mission. We are looking forward to returning so they can finish what they started!

 

ShadowQuest Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg

 

 

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[Review] Disney On Ice Presents Let’s Celebrate!

Kira Riley : September 26, 2013 1:27 pm : Featured, Kira's Korner, Reviews

disney on ice

After months of anticipation, last night we attended opening night of Disney on Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! at Hampton Coliseum. As expected, the show was non-stop fun from beginning to end. Let’s Celebrate! takes you on a journey through the holidays with your favorite Disney characters from Alice and Wonderland, Aladdin and more, with entertaining dialogue, song and dance. While I enjoyed all of the celebrations, my favorite was Valentine’s Day with the Disney princesses. I caught myself singing  and bopping along as each princess took the ice with her prince and their signature song from their respective movies. (I love “Kiss The Girl” from The Little Mermaid!) My son enjoyed the Halloween celebration with “Jack Skellington” as well as the Fantasia segment. The props, set and pyrotechnics were a great enhancement to an interactive and well-woven story. The thing I love most about Feld Entertainment productions is that it brings out the kid in all of us. You are never too old to enjoy Disney On Ice! My only disappointment is that it went by too fast! We didn’t want the fun to end. We can’t wait to see what Feld  Entertainment comes up with next year!

Highlights – The “ring of fire” during Lilo & Stitch set was neat!

Biggest surprise – Seeing all of the Toy Story characters come out, that was great! The crowd went nuts!

Most fun – The finale with all of the characters during the Christmas scene and the snow was wonderful. It made me look forward to the holidays!

Tip –  I under dressed this year. Dress warm! Bring a jacket if you are wearing short sleeves and wear socks and shoes. I don’t recommend sandals, my feet were freezing!

 

Let’s Celebrate is a show you do not want to miss! Tickets are still available for remaining performances at the Hampton Coliseum from September 26-September 29.

 

To see more pictures and video from Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate!, visit 757 Lifestyle’s Instagram page.

 

As a Feld Family Ambassador, in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion on 757 Lifestyle, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows. However, I give an opinion that is 100% my own.

 

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