Kira’s Korner

My Experience With Going Gluten Free

Kira Riley : September 12, 2013 11:10 am : Health & Fitness, Kira's Korner

gluten free hampton roadsI know there is a lot of controversy surrounding gluten free diets and whether it is actually necessary. I never in a million years thought I would ever have to worry about eating gluten free.  But after experiencing a turn around in my health after removing gluten, I can honestly say that it worked for me. Due to my interest in health & nutrition, I had heard of “gluten” and eating “gluten free,” although I was not 100% as to what it meant exactly. I started to have issues with my teeth that led me to do some research and allowed me to learn all about gluten intolerance. After reading the symptoms, it was as if a light bulb went off. Prior to turning 30 I would hear others say everything starts to go downhill once you turn 30. “You don’t have the energy you used to, it’s hard to get out of bed,” etc. I refused to believe that because in my eyes 30 was still young! But, unfortunately I did notice a difference the closer I became to my 30th birthday. I was always energetic and wanted to be on the go, but  it slowly became harder to go as hard – and as long – as I used to. I would have aches and pains off and on in my upper and lower back and I constantly felt achy and sore. At times, I just didn’t feel good, although some days were better than others. I would have great energy and feel like the “old me” and then 1 day of poor eating and I didn’t want to get out of the bed. I would also have occasional “head fog” where it was hard to concentrate and stay focused. I had other health issues off and on as well, (psoriasis flares, anemia, to name a few) and I assumed that it was just me getting older.

Once I started to research gluten intolerance and becoming gluten free, I started to wonder if my diet was the source of my health issues. I reluctantly decided to give it a try. After reading everything I could not eat, I was near tears. After realizing focusing on what I could not eat was doing more harm than good, I started to focus on what I could eat. Once I did that, I realized going gluten free wasn’t as intimidating as I was making it out to be. My biggest fear was letting go of two of my diet staples – whole wheat pasta and oatmeal. They were two of my favorites and they were going to be sorely missed. But I was more interested in becoming healthy than pleasing my taste buds.

I initially set out to do a trial run to see how I felt once the forbidden items were removed from my diet. I felt so good after I started that I have never stopped! That was four months ago and I haven’t looked back since. There are days where I am tempted to eat a gluten filled treat but when I think about how I felt and how I feel now, I realize it is not worth it. It feels good to have energy, a clear head and not be in constant pain. Who would’ve thought what I was eating was causing me so much pain? I am just happy to know the culprit and I am busy working to restore optimal health.

I had great help in turning my health around thanks to the following blogs, Wellness Mama and the Health Home Economist. I highly recommend them!  In a following post, I will share my list of  favorite gluten-free friendly restaurants, grocery stores and some of my fave gluten-free foods in Hampton Roads.

Are you gluten free? Are you thinking about going gluten free? Share your experience below!


 Picture source

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Review: New Town Dental Arts

Kira Riley : September 11, 2013 10:35 am : Community, Kid Friendly, Kira's Korner, Local Business Directory, Reviews

dentists in williamsburg va



After having a very unpleasant experience at Kool Smiles in Newport News, I was desperate to find a pediatric dentist for my children. We had received flyers in the mail advertising New Town Dental Arts months ago and I decided to look them up and give them a try. After reading glowing online reviews I made an appointment and hoped for the best. My son and daughter were dreading their first real dental appointment and were very nervous. I was hoping to have a doctor that was sensitive to the nervousness of first timers and would be patient and gentle. We received that and more from Dr. Harper Thomas. From the front desk to the dental assistants, every one in the office is friendly, upbeat and a pleasure to be around. My son loved being able to put on headphones and watch cartoons on the flat screen mounted on the ceiling while they worked on his teeth. The staff treats the children in a very approachable and appropriate way, which relieved my son’s fears. He enjoyed it so much he couldn’t wait to go back. His experience in turn made my daughter more excited for her appointment as well. As expected, her first time was just as enjoyable and pleasant.

I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Sebastiana Springmann for my first appointment at the office. She was very sweet, polite -and most of all- very knowledgeable about dentistry. Although my prior dental visits were not bad, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and overall experience at New Town a lot more.  It is nice to have a doctor who really listens to your concerns and cares about not only the health of your teeth, but your health in general. Dr. Springmann makes it a point to check your blood pressure while you are in the office to ensure that is not an issue that needs to be addressed.  She listened to all of my concerns and genuinely addressed them. I am happy to have found a dental practice that my entire family can patronize and enjoy. If you are looking for a dental practice in Williamsburg or on the Peninsula, I highly recommend New Town Dental Arts. You will not be disappointed!



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Back To Business

Kira Riley : September 5, 2013 10:02 am : Featured, Kira's Korner

back to businessI hope everyone enjoyed their summer break (if you were fortunate enough to have one).  As I stated in a previous post, I take the summer off with my children and take a break from writing and running the site. I thoroughly enjoyed the summer weather, the free schedule, and spending time with my family. Now that school has started, it is time for me to get back to work! When you work for yourself and are in control of your  own schedule, it is hard to get the motivation to get back to a strict routine after months away. I am getting things back up and running – slowly but surely. We have a busy few weeks coming up with the Howl-O-Scream media event and Disney On Ice (including the ticket giveaway), so stay tuned!


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Review: Bahama Breeze Island Grille In Virginia Beach

Kira Riley : July 24, 2013 10:34 am : Featured, Kira's Korner, Restaurants, Reviews

Bahama Breeze Island Grille Pembroke Mall

Bahama Breeze Island Grille in Virginia Beach may have just opened last week, but if our visit last night was any indication of what this place has to offer, they are on track to become a Hampton Roads favorite. From the relaxing and laid back atmosphere to the live music (played daily outside) you will feel as if you have been transported to a tropical island. The food was well-seasoned, had the appropriate temperature and was plated (presented) beautifully. The staff was courteous, helpful and very attentive. The managers (Eric, Tim and Jamie) are very passionate and knowledgeable about the food and the brand as a whole. Tim described the Bahama Breeze experience as being one that should be relaxing and enjoyable, and it was for us from the beginning to the end.


lemon breeze lemonade bahama breeze

Lemon Breeze



The Lemon Breeze (Non-Alcoholic) is Bahama Breeze’s version of  fresh Island lemonade and it is delicious! It is made with freshly squeezed lemons and sugar cane juice. No artificial flavors or ingredients, which I love!







bahamarita non alcoholic drink

Bahamarita (Virgin)




After out waitress Javier discovered I do not drink, she asked if any virgin drinks had been made for me. One of the drinks she recommended was the Bahamarita. Yum! It was wonderful; great for a summer night! It featured kiwi, strawberry and mango ice.









bahama mama, painkiller, Yaka Hula Hickey Dula

(L. to R.) Painkiller, Yaka Hula Hickey Dula, Bahama Mama


Thankfully, I brought my husband along to try out the alcoholic drinks. He started with the Bahama Mama. He was very impressed with how smooth and well mixed it was. It was not overwhelming at all. If you like a fruity, smooth alcoholic drink, Bahama Mama is the way to go. The rum-soaked pineapple and the cherry were very fresh! The Bahama Mama features Malibu, Myers Dark and Bacardi Rums, Banana liqueur, pineapple and orange juice.

If you want something tropical with a little more kick, try out the Yaka Hula Hickey Dula (Hawaiian-inspired).  It features pineapple juice, Chateau Ste. Riesling Wine and Myer’s Dark Rum.

For those who can handle it and want an even stronger kick, try the Painkiller. Self-explanatory! The Painkiller features Pusser’s Dark Rum, cream of coconut, pineapple & orange juice with freshly ground nutmeg. It was interesting to hear the back story of the drink and how it came to be a part of the menu at Bahama Breeze! Ask the bar manager Eric about it ;-).


crab stack bahama breeze

Jumbo Lump Crab Stack




Our first food sampling was the Jumbo Lump Crab Stack. This was my favorite! It was so fresh, flavorful and delicious. The Sriracha and honey mix served around the plate was amazing and gave the crab stack an extra kick! I highly recommend it if you want something light to eat.  It’s perfect for summer! The crab stack features premium jumbo lump crabmeat, chilled shrimp, avocado and apple-mango salsa.






Jamaican chicken wings bahama breeze

Jamaican Chicken Wings




The Jamaican Chicken Wings were seasoned to perfection! They were so good, my husband asked how they were prepared. We were told they are allowed to marinate in authentic jerk seasonings for 48-hours before being baked – twice I believe. The sauce it is served with is great as well.








steamed edamame

Steamed Edamame




The Steamed Edamame with ginger-infused sea salt is good if you are a fan of edamame.  My husband is not big on trying new things, especially of this nature, but he kept eating them. The only recommendation he had was that the outside be seasoned a little more.






warm goat cheese and flat bread crisps

Warm Goat Cheese and Flat Bread Crisps




Last, but not least, we tried the Warm Goat Cheese and Flat bread Crisps. I had never tried goat cheese before, but I was pleasantly surprised; it was really good. The goat cheese melted in your mouth. The pico de gallo was a perfect compliment. Bahama Breeze also decided to serve the warm goat cheese in a sweet red pepper cup versus a bowl, to give an extra level of flavor. Very good!





Overall, I highly recommend Bahama Breeze Island Grille! There is a vast variety of dishes (and drinks!) to choose from and they are very appropriately priced. The staff was very proactive in asking about any dietary restrictions. I am following a gluten free diet due to possible celiac disease and they let me know what I could and could not eat. They were upfront about the presence of gluten in their sauces and the possibility of it being in something they may be unaware of due to pre-packaging. But I had no problems with the food I chose to eat (didn’t eat the crisps, I ate everything else). I can usually tell if I have eaten something I should not have and I had no reactions at all. It is also noted on the menu that items can be made to order, so you can discuss any dietary specifics with your server.

Have you tried out Bahama Breeze Island Grille? Share your experience below! If you choose to go after reading this review, let them know Kira from 757 Lifestyle sent you! 😉 Enjoy!

*Special thank you to Sarah for the invite to come out and review the menu.


*Photo credit: Kira Riley for 757 Lifestyle

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Wolf Your World Tour At Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg

Kira Riley : July 13, 2013 12:19 pm : Featured, Kira's Korner

As the Ask-A-Mom for Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, we had the pleasure of experiencing the Wolf Your World tour last night. The summer long event has the tour team and all six Great Wolf Kids characters going from lodge to lodge spreading wolfie cheer. We enjoyed story time and meeting all the characters. Thanks to being an Ask-A-Mom, we were moved to the front of the line and the first to take our picture with the Great Wolf Kids.  Special thanks to the lodge’s manager Angie Brown for being so kind. We had a great time!

great wolf kids characters meet and greetgreat wolf lodge williamsburg wolf your world tour


There is still time to receive free pairs of Great Wolf ears and to enter the Wolf Your World Summer sweepstakes!

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Inexpensive Summer Fun: Let’s Get Wet!

Kira Riley : July 11, 2013 8:52 pm : Family Fun, Featured, Kira's Korner

tick n tater hot potato water balloon toyAs summer moves right along, one thing that has become necessary is finding things to do that are inexpensive and fun to keep the kids – and myself – busy. It is amazing how quickly spending can escalate between the cost of gas, the summer treat splurges (gotta love ice cream!) and fun activities. It was hot this past Tuesday and the kids and I wanted to have some water fun, but I wasn’t up to the crowd – or the price – of going to Water Country USA. I found a Tick N Tater water balloon toy at Ollie’s in Hampton for only $5.99 (plus 15% off!) the day before. The kids and I love water balloon fights and this was a great twist to the traditional throwing the balloon and hoping it would burst on the actual intended target. After filling multiple balloons, I got tired of the back and forth of filling more. I also was ready to get wet and the toy seemed to only favor my daughter. I recalled having Water Blasters from Dollar Tree last summer and the family having a ball with them. They fill with a nice amount of water very quickly and they are easy to aim and shoot. By the time you are finished you are soaking wet. It’s a great way to beat the heat and for a very cheap price. Unfortunately I remembered our blasters from last year were long gone. We made a quick trip to our local Dollar Tree and I was 26" water blasters from dollar treepleasantly surprised to see them still being sold in the store. We loaded up some for the family and a few for the neighborhood kids as well as buckets (we use the buckets to fill the blasters). We were back at our place having a water-filled blast in no time! Best of all, it didn’t break the bank…Priceless!

Try it out and let me know what you think! Enjoy!



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[Movie Review] ‘Peeples’

Kira Riley : May 7, 2013 10:28 am : Check It Out, Entertainment, Kira's Korner, Movies, Reviews

tyler perry presents peeplesI had the pleasure of screening “Peeples” last night at the AMC 24 in Hampton, thanks to AMC Stubs. I hadn’t heard much about the movie, so I had to look up the trailer to get an idea of what to expect. I have to admit, I wasn’t really impressed by what I saw, so my expectations were rather low. But, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie. Craig Robinson was hilarious and kept the movie rolling and David Alan Grier was great as the “uptight, overprotective dad.” By no means is it an award-winning comedy, but it was very entertaining and kept me laughing. I wouldn’t call it a “Must Go,” but if you were interested in seeing it and were not sure about it, I would definitely say “Go.”  I don’t think you will regret it. “Peeples” opens in theaters nationwide on May 10.

Have you seen the movie? Share your thoughts on “Peeples” below!

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[Review] Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey Presents Built To Amaze!

Kira Riley : April 12, 2013 11:42 am : Featured, Kira's Korner, Reviews


 Built To Amaze review

After much anticipation, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Presents Built To Amaze! ® opened last night at Norfolk Scope. After the awesome DRAGONS! show last year, I knew we were in for a treat with Ringling Bros. 143rd edition of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus.  Once again, the opening of the show gave an exciting preview of what was to come for the next two hours. Pre-show announcer Ashley Vargas, Ringmaster Andre McClain, and husband-wife team Alex and Irina Emelin did a wonderful  job of getting everyone pumped and excited for the show as well as kept the excitement going throughout. The acts were all outstanding at keeping the crowd on their toes and engaged throughout their performances. My kids and I loved them all but one of our favorites was Eliana Grace, the Human Cannon Ball. We also enjoyed the entertaining King Charles Troupe as well as the beautiful and majestic tigers led by trainer Tabayara Maluenda. Due to the variety of the Built To Amaze! ® stars, there is something that will appeal to and entertain the entire family. We were so entranced from the start of the show until the end, we didn’t realize how much time had gone by.  Now that is a good time!

Built To Amaze! will be at the Norfolk Scope from now until April 14. The show will then open at Hampton Coliseum on April 17 and run through April 21. Tickets start at $15 and are available now via Ticketmaster.

Norfolk Scope

Friday, April 12 – 10:30 am, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 13 – 11:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 14 – 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

Hampton Coliseum

Wednesday, April 17 – 7:30 pm

Thursday, April 18 –7:30 p.m.

Friday, April 19 – 10:30 am, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 20 – 11:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 21 – 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

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[Review] Olympus Has Fallen

Kira Riley : March 21, 2013 12:56 pm : Entertainment, Kira's Korner

olympus has fallen review


I had the pleasure of attending the “Olympus Has Fallen” screening last night courtesy of Hot 100.5. I won the two screening passes via a giveaway on their Facebook fan page – thanks guys! Let me start off by saying the movie starts off with action and grips you all the way until the end. I was hunched down in my seat and cringing as if I was truly experiencing every thing that was happening on the screen. I LOVE movies that take you on a ride from beginning to end, and”Olympus” is no exception. I fell in love with Gerard Butler’s character, he was amazing!! The movie is definitely intense; in a very thrilling and real way. If you get a chance to see the film, you will not be disappointed! The only downside is the dialogue seemed kind of choppy and not well written/thought out or focused in some parts. But that is VERY minor and does not take away overall from it being a great movie.  “Olympus Has Fallen” opens in theaters nationwide  tomorrow, March 22, 2013.

For showtimes and theaters in the Hampton Roads area, click here.

Pic Source


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[New Partnership] Great Wolf Lodge Ask-A-Mom Panelist For Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg

Kira Riley : March 14, 2013 5:10 pm : Family Fun, Featured, Kira's Korner, Travel

Hello everyone!

I am excited to finally announce that I am a Great Wolf Lodge Ask-A-Mom (and Dad) panelist! I entered the contest last fall not expecting much, but hoping for the best. I actually learned I had won the contest while on our cruise in February. It was such a Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburgpleasant surprise to hear I was chosen. My family and I are regulars at the lodge and it is one of my favorite places to visit in the  area. The Ask-A-Mom panel was designed to help moms and dads plan their visits to GWL by answering any questions about their trip including activities, amenities, events and more. This year they have expanded the program to include Twitter parties, blogging on the award-winning Behind The Howl” blog, Facebook Q&A, attending events at the lodge and video posts.

I am looking forward to an awesome year with GWL and all of their faithful fans. Stay connected with me through 757 Lifestyle, our Facebook page, my Facebook Fan Page and my Twitter to stay up-to-date with all things Great Wolf.


757 Lifestyle Editor



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