Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Discovery Cove

For G's birthday I surprised him with tickets to Discovery Cove. His birthday is actually in July, and I gave him the tickets then but it was $400 cheaper to actually go in September, so being the price conscious (read: cheap) person I am, I bought tickets for September. G has always wanted to swim with the dolphins on every cruise destination that we've been to, and I always say no since I've done it before, so I decided this would be a good birthday present for him! We went this past Saturday. The park opens at 8am and the Dolphin Swim is a first come, get first appointment basis so we arrived a little before 9am. Side Note: I got us a hotel for the night since it's an all you can drink and eat place and figured we'd be too intoxicated to drive. The hotel said it was only half a mile away so we walked there and back (and it was more than just half a mile, but the walking was good for us).

G posing beside the entrance, true tourist style
Ok back to Discovery Cove. When we got there, there was a small line already formed, but while we waited we got to meet a little armadillo. It was actually cuter than the ones you see dead on the side of the road. (But still not actually cute)

meet our little friend
We then went and got signed in where they give you a lanyard with a badge with your picture on it. This also functions as your credit card if you wish to buy anything that isn't included. We signed G up for the 10:20 Dolphin Swim (I wasn't doing it, I decided to just be a spectator). We then proceeded in the park where they took our complimentary photo. G looks like a creepster in it so I'll refrain from posting it.

Since breakfast was included, we went straight to eat. Since I LOVE breakfast food I was very excited for the breakfast. The food quality was a step above a continental breakfast quality but a step below an Embassy Suites breakfast buffet (you know, where they make your omelets fresh). I was definitely disappointed. They did have a large selection, but nothing was really that good. After breakfast we went to the lockers (included in your park ticket) and put away our stuff. They require you to wear a wetsuit while in the water (either a farmer john suit or just a vest - also included), I elected for just the vest and G got the full suit. They also provide masks, snorkels, towels and sunscreen. It really is all-inclusive! We walked around to see what all was at the park and went in the water and saw some cute little marmosets. The park is pretty much set up with a fresh water area with the lazy river, the dolphin area, and the reef (salt water) area. All areas are surrounded by beach (sand, beach chairs, hammocks, etc). If you didn't know you were in the middle of the state, you'd definitely think you were on a Caribbean island. It's definitely a place to go and relax!

I didn't get a very good pic of the marmosets
After our swim to see the monkeys, it was time for G to meet for the dolphin swim.  He went to do the little "class" and I went and relaxed in the sun. Once his group came out to the water, I went down to take pics. Of course his group had to be the farthest away from where the spectators could see, and he was the farthest away within his group. Luckily I was able to still get some decent pics! I was also able to listen and see the group immediately in font of me so I was able to learn a little more about one of my favorite animals and get some great up close pics! G enjoyed his Dolphin swim, although he did say it would have been more fun with me there. Once EM gets older (maybe like 7 or so and would actually remember it, we'll come back and do it again, all together). Oh yes, they do take "professional" photos and videos that you can purchase for a small fee (read: price rape). We didn't buy any of their pics. I was also nice and took some pics for the girl in the group right in front of me on her camera. I got some awesome pics for her. If only G was in that group, his pics would have been so much better!


We had lunch after the dolphin swim, also not impressed. Once again they had a large selection, but nothing was really that good. They did have a snack bar with soft pretzels though and those were probably the best thing, food wise, at the park. However, at lunch time, they did start serving beer. so that was a plus and I started indulging right away. Unfortunately, they really didn't have one of G's types of beers he likes but he indulged in a few as well. They had mostly lights beers, wine, or 2 frozen drink choices. They had my favorite though, so I was happy. After lunch and a few beers, we went in the lazy river and lounged around. At one point, G went and took a nap in the shade and I went snorkeling in the reef area where they had all the fish, sting rays, etc. It was pretty cool, although I've seen all these before in the wild. They had sharks in one area, but we weren't allowed in there, but you could get up to the glass so it looked like you were swimming next to them. After I snorkeled, G was still sleeping so I went back to the lazy river and stopped in the Aviary. Normally, I am not a bird person. Some are pretty, but they don't really excite me. However, when I walked through the Aviary, I saw the guests were allowed to feed the birds and the birds actually would come and stand on your hand and eat from the little cups of food they provided (also free). I even got a bird to perch on my shoulder. In another area of the Aviary, there were different birds, some which were meat eaters, so the trainer asked if I was brave enough to feed them worms, and of course I was. I fed the birds live little worms, right out of my hand. The trainer also fed the birds tiny little mice, she didn't offer me to do that part, I probably would have said no anyways. Worms were enough for me! Surprisingly, I really enjoyed my time in the Aviary. 

just hanging with the sharks

some of the pretty fish
there were a ton of stingrays in there

feeding the birds
yep those would be real live worms in my hand

After that, I went and found G. We had a few more beers, sat and relaxed in this one area where they have chairs in the water and did a few more laps in the lazy river before the park closed. Overall it was a great day! I was worried G wouldn't really enjoy it since it's pretty much a beach and he's not a big beach person but since there was shade and beer (and the dolphin swim) he seemed to have a great time or m just aybe it was because he was with me and we had some good quality time together :)  We probably won't go back until EM and future baby # 2 (no I'm not pregnant) are older and would remember it, as it is still pretty expensive. With your Discovery Cove ticket, you do get 14 consecutive day admission to Sea World and Aquatica, so if you use that portion of the ticket, it definitely makes it worth it. Unfortunately, we probably won't get a chance to use them. 

We had a great time!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month

It's September and in Orlando that means it is Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month. For those of you who don't know, Magical Dining Month is a month-long program where participating restaurants feature three-course, prix fixe dinners at the exceptional value of $33 per person. One dollar from each meal sold will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Florida. (That's straight from their website) Bottom line, it's a chance to eat at typically more expensive restaurants at a cheaper price! I first learned about MDM two years ago, at that time it was only $30/per person/per meal and G and I went to Charley's Steakhouse. This year we decided to go to Ocean Prime. I had only eaten here once before and it was for a work function and the food was amazingly good. I've been dying to go back but at around $50/meal (assuming you get a soup or salad or appetizer and a meal) it's pretty pricey to go for just any reason. Ironically, the MDM menu for Ocean Prime had the same items on it that I had at my work luncheon (plus additional choices) which is probably why I picked this place over the other restaurants on the list. 

Off the MDM prix fixe menu, I chose: 

  • Ocean Prime House Salad (Romaine, Spinach, Granny Smith Apples, Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette)  

This salad was absolutely delish! It was perfectly dressed and all the flavors of the ingredients mixed so well together. I ate every last bite of it!
  • 6oz Filet Mignon with Creamy whipped potatoes, cabernet jus 
    • Regular menu Price: $30 (estimated since the menu doesn't have a 6oz filet and the sides are al la carte - I estimated the per oz value based on the 8oz filet and assumed a side of potatoes would feed approximately 3 people) 

I ordered my filet medium, as I do whenever I get steak/filet. When I took my first bite, I thought it was a little more on the medium rare side, which would have been OK for me. Then I cut into the filet a little more, and in my opinion I thought it was closer to rare than medium-rare. Now, I'm not a steak connoisseur or anything, and don't eat at these fancier type restaurants often so when I summoned the waiter back over he asked if it wasn't cooked enough for me, and I said no, and he said he forgot to mention this was "traditional steakhouse" medium. I never knew there was a difference. Needless to say, I sent it back, cooked a little more, and it was great the 2nd time around. The potatoes were nice and creamy and the cabernet jus that was atop the steak just made them taste even better!

Not much to say about this, other than ahhhmazing! So yummy!

So for $33 I received an approximate $50 meal! Score! 

Now G on the other hand didn't order off the MDM menu. He doesn't eat soup or salad (and neither of us ever order dessert, but since it came with the deal, I of course got it!) so it doesn't really make sense for him to order off the menu unless the main course is more expensive then $33. He said he wasn't in the mood for steak tonight so he ordered the Teriyaki Salmon with Shiitake Sticky Rice, Soy Butter Sauce. He said it was great! I'm not a huge Salmon fan, but I did try it and it did have a good flavor. Oh yea, and they had some of the best table bread I've ever had! G and I polished off the entire loaf!

On Saturday Night, we went to Kobe's Steakhouse and I had forgotten they too were participating in MDM so when I saw the sign I had to check it out. We go to Kobe's kind of regularly (if you like hibachi/teppanyaki Japanese food, Kobe's is the place to go). Both of our phones had died so I don't have any pictures (and didn't know I was going to blog about it either, so did't plan accordingly)

Off the MDM prix fixe menu, I chose: 

  • Shrimp Appetizer (Jumbo shrimp & mushrooms skillfully prepared by your chef at the Teppanyaki table)
    • Regular Menu Price: $8
  • Land and Sea Entree (Experience the best of both worlds with our 4 oz. filet mignon served with garlic red potatoes & lobster tail accompanied with sauteed mushrooms)
    • Regular Menu Price: $37
  • Fried Ice Cream (well I actually chose the Japanese Chocolate Cake, but they had ran out -- and it looked SO delicious so I was semi disappointed until I tried the Fried Ice Cream - wow it was ahhhmazing!) 
    • Regular Menu Price: $5.95 (not 100% sure on this, but I'm sure it's around $6)
I normally just get the steak and shrimp combo with shrimp appetizer if it's on the summer special for $1.99 (which it currently is not), which would normally come to around $23-$25 (can't remember the exact price). So for $33 I received an approximate $50 meal! At Kobe's your meal also comes with clear onion soup, garden salad with ginger dressing, fried rices and noddles! And as always, Kobe's NEVER disappoints  The food is always plentiful (clearly, look how much you get) and yummy!! 

We normally only do one MDM meal, it was only by chance we did 2 as we would have dined at Kobe's regardless. Can't wait until next September, maybe we'll try a place neither one of us have been before! I obviously TOTALLY blew my diet over the last few days but so worth it! ahhhhmazing is also my word of the week apparently. I've been saying it over and over lol

Sunday, September 22, 2013


If you remember, with my Citrus Lane August Boxes I received a code for a free FabKids outfit and since I had two boxes, I got two codes. Since I have like 5 email addresses I just used two different ones to redeem my codes and used my Amex gift card to order them. The outfits shipped very quickly and I received them a few days later. The quality seemed pretty good but it'll be quite a few years before EM will get to wear them and really judge the quality. Regardless, I would have never paid $40 for these but for the $5/each, I'm glad I ordered them! 

Oh yea, and apparently you can only cancel your membership by calling - ugh so annoying, I wish it could be done via email or website. So, I skipped my next month for each account until I feel like calling to cancel, which I will do!

Lee Farms Webster - Local Produce

My mother in law mentioned to me that she came found out about this local farm that you can buy produce from and that they have a pick up point near her office. She said she did it the week before and was impressed with the quantity and quality of what she received. So I decided to give it a shot. I tend to spend a decent amount of money every week at Publix on fresh fruits and veggies and they definitely aren't organic or GMO free. They also don't support a local farm family. I don't care so much about the organic/GMO thing because I'm too cheap, but if I can get it for the same price as I would pay at Publix, well then I'm game. (Yes, I know I should care what I'm consuming and it's better for me and whatnot, but I'm a hard sell) 

Lee Farms Webster has 2 sized baskets (well they get delivered in reusable shopping totes, which if I read it correctly, I'm supposed to bring back for re-use) and then each sized bag has a "green" or "purple" option. So the small baskets are $12 and the large baskets are 20. It appears the green option has everything in it and the purple is everything less one specific item (I assume a less popular item). I ordered the large green basket (I read the desciptions too quickly and ordered at a later time and I knew one of the baskets didn't have beets, and since beets are purple, I assumed that the purple basket would have the beets, so I ordered the green since I only use beets in one receipe and so since I screwed up looks like I'll be making my homemade tomato soup this week to use up the beets lol). 

I put in my order on Tuesday or Wednesday and pre-paid on PayPal and my wonderful Mother-in-law picked it up for me on Friday and brought it over. I didn't have time to go through it all on Friday so I just put the entire bag in the fridge but did try at least 2 peaches and a plum and all 3 were delicious and the bag was super heavy! Today, I finally got around to seeing what all was in there and I was more than impressed! Including what I remember eating, my bag had: 7 peaches, 6 plums, 5 sweet potatoes, 4 yellow squash, 3 zucchini, 2 onions, 4 tomatoes, leaf lettuce, and one bunch of beets - wow! 

all my goodies (minus what I ate and I chopped off the top of the beets when I took the pic)
I was so impressed with everything that I have actually gone and e-mailed the farm to ask them about potentially adding in another drop off point in my neighborhood (the point where my MIL picks it up is a good half hour away) and I posted in my neighborhood FaceBook group and several of my neighbors are also interested so I'm hoping they will consider us :) Otherwise, my MIL may be my produce taxi for awhile!

Check them out at - it's so cool that it's a local farm family and that even the kids are involved in the growing of the crops! 

Citrus Lane - September 2013 Review

We received our September Citrus Lane box over the weekend. For those of you that don't know, Citrus Lane is a monthly subscription service where you get a box of goodies for your child that are geared towards their current age (and sometimes Mommy) each month delivered to your door. You never know what you are going to get, but overall I have not been disappointed. 

This is what I got in my 10 Month Old, Baby Girl Box and the approximate retail value I found for each item from their specific website (or Amazon, since if you know me, I'm an Amazon Junkie and would most likely buy from there). Sometimes I have to do some math because the sizes aren’t quite the same, hence why they are approximate values.

At first glance it did look like another great box! They also always include an information card with descriptions of the items and usually coupon codes to buy additional items at a discount if you like them. 

Charley Harper's 123s Board Book - We love board books as they are great for babies. EM loves to be read to, so I'm sure she'll love this book as well. It is beautifully illustrated and of course educational. (Amazon Price: $7.96)

Hide & Hug Owl Stroller Toy by Skip Hop - I'm not a huge fan of the owl trend, but overall it's a cute toy. It's basically a larger owl hugging a smaller owl and the smaller owl has a teething ring attached. It has a clip to clip onto a stroller or pretty much anything. EM loves to grab at things, so I'm sure she'll love this as well. We currently have a few toys clipped on her rail cover on her crib and she recently starting playing with those, so maybe that's where we'll put this one since we usually use her umbrella stroller and there isn't much room to clip things on to it. (Amazon Price: $8.50)

Babytime Playful Wash by Episencial 3.4 oz - Citrus Lane must work closely with this company because we get a lot of their products. Two in this box and we've definitely received a few in previous boxes as well. We used this Shampoo plus Body cleaner tonight and it smelled great. It's a nice change to the lavender Johnson and Johnson we typically use. It is Organic, and not that I care that much about that part, it is nice to know that it's better for EM. (Episencial Price: ~$3.83)

Babytime Soothing Cream by Episencial - Looks like just lotion, haven't used it yet, but I'm sure we will. Also Organic, as all Episencial products are. (Episencial Price: $11.00)

Julep Nail Polish (Color: It Girl - Coco) - I haven't tried this yet, but have heard good things about the brand. The color is OK, wouldn't be my first choice, but we'll see how it looks once I put it on. Julep Nail Color is “4-free” and does not contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, or DBP. It claims to be chip-resistant and fast drying. Once I try it, I'll let you all know my opinion on it and if I feel it's really worth $14 a bottle! I don't think I've ever spent more than $5 on nail polish. (Julep Price: $14.00)

Total estimated value of box: $45.29 (not including shipping)
Total Cost of box: $25.00 (free shipping)

Overall impression: Great box, especially once I added up the value. Everything in the box will get used and whereas I may not typically buy organic bath cleanser and lotion, It's always better for EM to have it. 

If you are interested in signing up for Citrus Lane… use my referral link and get $10/off your first box (and I’ll get a $10 credit as well):
Remember, you can cancel at any time, so your first box would only be $15, not too shabby!

Friday, September 20, 2013

UCF Football Weekend

Well I was going to break this into multiple updates, but since I'm slacking so much and the following weekend is starting, I guess I'll do one post! Last weekend, well it really started on Thursday, we headed up to Pennsylvania, with the main purpose of our trip being to cheer on our UCF KNIGHTS at the Penn State game!

We arrived in Philly after an uneventful, empty flight (haven't been on a flight this empty in years, pretty sure each passenger could of had their own row of seats!) and headed into the city and to G's sister's apartment. We spent some time with her and then took the subway to the Phillies game. Since the Phillies are doing so terrible this year, we were able to score tickets in the Hall of Fame Club off StubHub super cheap! This was especially nice because it decided to rain right before the game was due to start so we were able to stay in the Hall of Fame (air condition and out of the rain) during the hour rain delay and they had some cool stuff to look at. The Phillies won, so that was nice, the 1st inning took FOREVER, but overall it was a good game.

We got up nice and early on Friday morning to make the drive from Philly to State College. Along the way we detoured to Hershey, PA! I really wish the park was open, but it's their slow season, so we just checked out Hershey World, got our free sample and bought EM an adorable outfit. It was cool to learn that Milton Hershey built the town to support his company and gave his employees housing! The whole town was very cool! Next trip to PA, we are definitely going to the park though!
even the light post were all Hershey Kisses!
After Hershey and a few more stops for lunch and shopping (we were able to score some great deals on clearance stuff for EM - and ourselves) we finally made it to State College. We took a nap and then hit the town. We found the UCF Alumni Association and met some really fun people to hang out with on Friday night. I was amazed at how cheap all the beer was up there (and updated my FB status every time lol) We had a great night, probably drank a little too much, but at $5 a pitcher, it was easy to indulge :) 
having fun in my UCF bling
Saturday was game day! We went out for a little in the morning and napped before heading over to the UCF Alumni Tailgate Tent. We didn't want to deal with traffic, parking, having a DD, etc, so we walked almost 3 miles from the hotel. (we walked everywhere the night before for the same reasons, probably a good 6 miles each day) It was all you could drink/eat for 2 hours and then there would be an hour from the end of the tailgate before kick off. Our friend drove in from NYC and joined us and we had a great time at the tailgate and then cheering on our Knights to a 34-31 victory over Penn State. This was a BIG game for us, so it was very exciting to be there and to actually win! The Penn State people were nice before and after the game, very hospitable and a joy to talk to and the college town was so much fun to hang in, I'd totally go back! Sunday we flew back, nothing too exciting other than getting to see EM.

Woohoo We Won!! (and yes it got pretty cold!)
last call, Tommy and I had to grab a few roadies

We were pretty high up, but it was such a great game

Enjoying the tailgate

The Guys and I


EM stayed with her Nanny and Pappy while we were in PA and she enjoyed her time there :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

EM's First Cruise

Well continuing on.. On Monday, September 2nd, EM and I joined my parents, my brother and SIL, nieces, nephew, my sister and BIL, my sister's BIL and SIL, and two other couples (family friends) for EM's first cruise. (18 people total) We sailed out of the Port of Tampa on the Carnival Paradise. I will do a different blog update on the cruise ship /voyage itself on our family cruise blog, Cruise Loving Family. G refuses to go on Carnival cruises, but I don't care which cruise line it is  and I wasn't going to let a fun time pass us up (especially for the great deal this particular voyage was). On this 5 night cruise, we had a sea day, a day in Grand Cayman, a day in Cozumel, and another sea day. EM loved it! Of course she got lots of attention from all of our family and friends plus she LOVES being in the water. So after boating on Sunday, she was able to be in the water for the next 5 days straight! I really enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my family for a longer period of time, I haven't spent more than a day or two with them in a long time because of our busy schedules (and the distance) so this really allowed for that. I love watching my family with EM and watching her cousins dote on her, aah so cute! Here are a few of my favorite pics from the cruise, they didn't upload in order though:

Paca and EM

EM playing (with her towel animal?)

Uncle T and EM

Formal Night

My oldest niece and I on Formal Night

My youngest niece and I on Formal NIght

waiving "HI" in Grand Cayman

Hanging out in Cozumel

Half the group on the pool bat at Mr. Sanchos in Cozumel

oldest and youngest cousin

She fell asleep while we were at the swim up bar, I didn't let that stop me from indulging.
She slept on my shoulder for a good hour!

Grandma and 3 of her grand babies

Paca and Miss Bug

so precious

Paca and his Boy

playing around

loving being on the ship

Me and my Girl in Grand Cayman

Playing on the Cozumel Beach

Cousins <3