#FoodieFriday Feature| Dinner For Two Review @bukuwakeforest! Eat Global,Support Local and Celebrate Grand Opening 6/28 in Wake Forest, NC

Recently, SobeSavvy.com was invited to a hosted dinner at the new bu•ku Wake Forest, a restaurant that is recognized for its global street food menu thanks to its flagship establishment in downtown Raleigh,NC. Their website states they are inspired by the pushcarts of street vendors from all over the world. I was excited to taste what they offered and hoped it would remind me of my experiences abroad as well as introduce me to something I’ve never had before.

If you are asking yourself… what is global street food?..It is basically no frills food native to the area it originates from. It tastes exactly like they would make these dishes in their home for their families. My introduction to street food was sudden and unexpectedly delightful. The year was 2006 in Phuket Island, Thailand. My friend who lived there at the time was taking my husband and I around and showing up the sights. We were hungry and he said “Let’s go by noodle stand #5”. Not quite sure what that was so we went along with it. We pulled up to a side street where an elderly woman had set up a plastic table on the back of her bike with a steaming contraption alongside. To our western sensibilities this was strange. We had one of the best meals of our lives right there in the alley. That unique dining experience shaped my willingness to try different foods and made me ready to enjoy dinner for 2 at bu•ku.

RESTAURANT VIBES

Since this locally owned and operated restaurant is celebrating global street food in an elevated way, you will not find plastic tables here. The decor is modern and the ambiance is inviting yet intimate. You have the option to dine inside or outside on the patio but as soon as I walked thru the doors at bu•ku Wake Forest, I knew I would enjoy dining in the serene, beautifully designed dining space. I had an early dinner reservation at 6p but soon the restaurant was bustling with quite a few large dinner party celebrations as well as friends casually meeting for drinks after work at the bar. There were even families with children enjoying dinner and couples enjoying a dinner date night. No matter how busy it got, service was welcoming and attentive throughout the evening.

COCKTAILS ANYONE?

If you are one that enjoys a good drink before, during or after your meal, then you will be quite satisfied with the wine list, beer and cocktail menu at bu•ku Wake Forest. Whether you chose to enjoy on their patio, at the bar or with your dinner, I do suggest this restaurant for their interesting selection of wines, beers and craft cocktails. Here are two drinks that you must try your next visit to bu•ku:

Sangria Roja at bu•ku is the perfect Summertime Sip!

My new favorite bubbly cocktail: The Secret Garden at bu•ku

DINNER MENU

Per bu•ku Wake Forest, their Global Street Food menu is ..”a new type of dining, designed for the type of mix & matched tadting and plate-sharing that sparks conversation.” If you ever been to the Raleigh location owned by culinary visionaries Sean Degnan and Tony Hopkins, you will notice some menu differences. The team partnered with longtime friend, Todd Ohle, owner of the second bu•ku Wake Forest, and each restaurant has its own Chef that develops their own creations while still supporting menus and programs for the entire restaurant group. Just like the Raleigh location ( which is moving to Cary in 2019), bu•ku offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu. Feast your eyes on the small plates, large plates and big bowls we enjoyed for dinner:

Small Plates | Chinese Steamed Buns at bu•ku | 2 per order- Braised Pork, hoison sauce, pickles and scallions. Served on a perfectly warm “steamed” bun. Perfection in it’s simplicity yet complex in it’s flavors. Yum!

Small Plates | Edamame + Ostras Asadas at bu•ku | Edamame has a bit of a kick thanks to the addition of peppercorn. The grilled local oysters are some of the best I have had in the Triangle because of the flavorful toppings!

Large Plates | NC Catch at bu•ku | Local Seafood meets Global Flavors on a plate! The flounder was perfectly cooked and served on a bed of cauliflower,rutabaga mash, pistachio and topped with fennel-shallot confit. My favorite part was pouring the parmesean beurre on top!

Big Bowls | Vietnamese Phô at bu•ku | The seared filet mignon was so tender and my favorite part about this dish. I wanted more flavor from the broth and plan to do some spice additions to my leftovers at home!

Dessert | Tres Helados at bu•ku | You get a trio of chefs selection of gluten free sorbet and ice creams, toasted coconut flakes, and fresh berries. It was my first time having avocado ice cream and I loved it!

SobeSavvy Tip: EVENT ALERT A celebration for the new bu•ku Wake Forest will take place Thursday, June 28th with a cocktail hour and ribbon cutting for media and city officials on Thursday, June 28th. Dinner service will begin at 5pm and feature live music from Joe O’Keefe’s “3 Second Rule” band (who owns neighboring Wine 101), as well as complimentary sangria for all guests. As founding members of A Place at the Table, Degnan and Hopkins will donate a portion of proceeds from this evening to this charitable cause!

Thanks for reading and I hope the are inspired to make dinner reservations for 2 at the new bu•ku!

bu•ku Wake Forest

1228 Heritage Links Dr suite 100, Wake Forest, NC 27587

#BeautyFinds | Five Summer Beauty Essentials Under $15

Summer Beauty Essentials Under $15 | SobeSavvy.com

Disclosure: This content uses some affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more info: here

Summertime for me means:

• random family road trips (like the one we took this Father’s Day Weekend to Asheville,NC to see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. (Catch a glimpse of it’s beauty in my instastories on Instagram)

• finding ways to beat the heat

• enjoying more outdoor fun!

Today on the blog, SobeSavvy.com, I am sharing some Summer Beauty Essentials that will help you stay fresh, dry, protect you from harsh sun and make those bugs fly on by!
Since they are all under $15, you can save money and have more to spend on summertime fun!

* John Frieda® Beach Blonde Sea Waves® Sea Salt Spray, $10.99

I am by no means a natural blonde, but I do have a fun wig that I rock sometimes in the summer. You can get the ultimate beach waves with Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray. Infused with an ocean-fresh coconut fragrance, this sea-salt spray provides subtle volume and fullness for an effortless, matte-textured style. Suitable for all hair types and shades, including color-treated hair. Shake well before use and mist product thoroughly into towel dried or dry hair, combing through to distribute.

*Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin, $14

Yesterday, my family hit the hiking trails but not without applying Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard! I definitely won’t leave home without this. Don’t let bugs get in the way of your summer fun. Protect your family when mosquitoes are most active with this fast-drying, dependable insect repellent. The non-greasy, DEET-free formulas provide long-lasting protection against deer ticks (that may transmit Lyme disease) and mosquitoes (that may transmit West Nile Virus). Available as Aerosol Spray, Pump Spray and travel-friendly Towelettes. Available at www.avon.com.

* Nubian Heritage’s 24-Hour Aluminum-Free Deodorants, $8.99

I love using Nubian Heritage’s line of skincare and bath products. They use organic, fair trade shea butter as well as other natutal ingredients. Their deodorants are available in seven of the brand’s best-selling all-natural fragrances, as a healthier alternative to feeling fresh and smelling great! Available at The Vitamin Shoppe and online at vitamineshoppe.com.

* Hotheads’ Mini G Hairbrush, $9.38

Good things really do come in small packages! The Mini G conveniently fits in your handbag, gym bag or travel bag. Use it with your favorite dry shampoo to refresh tired locks. It’s the perfect little brush to distribute your leave-in products before heading out into the sun. Great for detangling after a swim, the Mini G also helps remove sand debris from the scalp and hair. Finishing your day at the beach using the Mini G will reduce frizz and help create the perfect ponytail. Available at HotheadsHairbrush.com.

* Ola Tropical Apothecary Body Mist, $10

The secret ingredient in Ola Tropical Apothecary’s Deep Sea Body Mist is…the water. Found at 3000’ below the ocean surface off the Kona Coast, each Body Mist contains over 90 trace minerals, and is high in calcium and magnesium. A few simple spritzs to hair, face and skin instantly hydrates and moisturizes. It comes in 2 ounce sizes and available at HawaiianBodyProducts.com.

I packed some of these products in my travel bag along with a few of my everyday beauty essentials. Perhaps these products will make it into your suitcase to kick off Summer 2018!

Have you tried any of these products before? Do you have a summer beauty essential product that travels everywhere with you? Share below and Happy Summer 2018!

@ALAMORaleigh Launches Summer of #FAMILYFUN + Get FREE #Incredibles2 Activity Sheets for your little ones!

ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE LAUNCHES AN INCREDIBLE(S) SUMMER OF FAMILY FUN
Kids are in command this summer with the return of Disney/Pixar’s first family, classic family film screenings, and free milkshakes, tattoos, & pizza!

Hey Raleigh! Are you ready for a summer of film and family fun? How about some FREE Incredibles 2 activity sheets for your little ones? Keep reading and I will share how you can enjoy all the above this summer!

Alamo Drafthouse is celebrating Disney/Pixar’s long-awaited animated sequel INCREDIBLES 2, TODAY Saturday June 16 with a fun The Incredibles 2 Family Party! If you are not able to make this event, check out what other family fun activities you can enjoy this summer at Alamo Drafthouse:

Summer Family Fun Card

The cinema-eatery is debuting their Summer Family Fun Card. The program is free, and

available now at Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh or online.

What a fun way to encourage kids to track the new and classic movies they see at Alamo Drafthouse,

including the just-announced lineup of affordably priced Kids Camp and PBS Kids screenings

, plus they earn prizes!

Every film a child 12 or under sees between June 1st and August 31st is eligible for a sticker and a cute (and temporary) tattoo. The more stickers kids collect, the more prizes they’ll win, like milkshakes, pizza, free movies, and more. Plus, if it’s a child’s very first time at a theater, parents can pick up a free keepsake “My First Movie” certificate.

Kids Camp and PBS Kids
Each summer Alamo Drafthouse programs daily Kids Camp screenings of classic films that parents grew up with like THE NEVERENDING STORY and recent favorites like the recent animated musical SING for a super-affordable price — just $1, $3, or $5 — your choice! Ticket proceeds go directly to benefit local nonprofits, with an expected goal of raising $100,000 nationwide.
June

TROLLS

•HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

THE NEVERENDING STORY

THE LEGO MOVIE
July
MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN

THE LAND BEFORE TIME
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS

SING
August

PADDINGTON 2

PRINCE OF EGYPT

KUNG FU PANDA

DESPICABLE ME
But that’s not all. Alamo Drafthouse’s continuing partnership with PBS KIDS gives families a unique opportunity to watch their favorite shows on the big screen, with proceeds going to benefit local PBS affiliates. This summer’s offerings include presentations of WILD KRATTS, NATURE CAT: SUMMER OF ADVENTURE, and a BACK TO SCHOOL compilation.
Kids Camp screenings take place every day (with occasional exceptions) in matinee time-slots, at Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh from the beginning of June through August. PBS KIDS screening dates vary so be sure to check drafthouse.com/raleigh for a full schedule and to get tickets.

“We’ve seen generations of future cinephiles get their start at Alamo Drafthouse,” says Alamo Drafthouse Senior Director of Marketing Chaya Rosenthal. “And with our beloved Kids Camp and PBS Kids series and awesome new films on the way this summer like HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3, TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES, and INCREDIBLES 2, there are so many choices for parents and kids of all ages.”

INCREDIBLES 2 (#Incredibles2)

Speaking of INCREDIBLES 2, (now playing in theatres everywhere!!), families have long known that Alamo Drafthouse pulls out all the stops for Disney/Pixar titles, and the return of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, Dash, Jack-Jack and Frozone is no exception. In addition to both 2D and 3D screenings of the film, families can attend special INCREDIBLES 2 Family Parties, with photo booths, crafts, games and more. And exclusively at Alamo Drafthouse, Pixar devotees can add two limited edition Mondo designed collectibles to their order: an INCREDIBLES 2 juice glass and a one-of-a-kind sketchbook with a gorgeous cover designed by Mondo artist Dave Perillo. Both are available with INCREDIBLES 2 ticket purchases only at participating Alamo Drafthouse box offices, drafthouse.com, and the Alamo app for iOS and Android.

ABOUT THE MOVIE

In INCREDIBLES 2, Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.

Watch Teaser Trailer https://youtu.be/i5qOzqD9Rms

SobeSavvy Tip: Print out these FREE activity sheets which include coloring pages, recipes,and a matching card game for more INCREDIBLES 2 fun!

Like INCREDIBLES 2 on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarTheIncredibles/

Follow INCREDIBLES 2 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheIncredibles

Follow INCREDIBLES 2 on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theincredibles/

Visit the official INCREDIBLES 2 website here: http://disney.com/incredibles2

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INCREDIBLES 2 is now showing at Alamo Drafthouse Raleigh and theatres everywhere! I plan to check it out this weekend with my incredible family. What makes my #HeighPartyof3 incredible is that we work hard, play hard and love hard! That’s our superpower.

Do you plan to see Incredibles 2?

•Share below something incredible about your family!

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#FiveForFriday | 5 Bargain Finds To Put In A #Disney Goodie Bag For A Girls Party

Disclosure: This content uses some affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more info: here

Today is our daughter’s last day of 1st Grade. Where did the time go? She is a little sad because not only will she miss her first grade teacher/friends but because her birthday is in August, she does not get the opportunity to celebrate her special day in class. So I decided to throw her an ‘End of School Year Celebration~Disney Dance Party‘ for her and a few friends at our home. Here’s a peek of the invite I made online:

INVITE | End of School Year Celebration for #outandaboutAva

Since this was a sort of a last minute decision, I had a very small budget to throw this party at home. The plan is to keep it simple: polish their nails, put on *Just Dance Disney Party 2 – Wii Game, order pizza and have some Disney themed refreshments like the *Pepperidge Farm Mickey Mouse Special Edition! Cheddar Baked Snack Crackers and *Good2Grow Juices.

Ready to serve these Disney inspired refreshments

There will be two hours of fun and a Disney goodie bag for everyone! Here are my suggestions of 5 Bargain Finds To Put In A Disney Goodie Bag For A Girls Party:

Save & PIN IT On Pinterest >>> here

1. *Minnie Mouse Party Favor Cup

Found this Minnie Mouse Party Favor cup at my local Dollar Tree

2. *Disney Mickey Mouse Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly is The Original Gourmet Jelly Bean candy that kids/parents love because it’s fat free, gluten free, peanut free, and has a variety of fun flavors.

3. *Disney Headband

I picked up these Disney mouse ear headbands from Target and added some gems in case the girls wanted to bedazzle them!

4. Disney Mickey Mouse & Friends Lollipop

I found this Disney Sweet Treat at my local Target in the seasonal 4th of July section. So pretty and pink!

5. Disney Family Crafts Mirror Kit

Just a few days ago, I caught a BOGO sale at Michael’s on all their Disney Family Crafts items. I also used Retailmenot.com for a 50% off regular priced item at Michael’s Arts & Crafts

SobeSavvy Tip: Now that you have these budget friendly items, what should you put them in? The Disney Store sells these small Reusable Bags for only .25 cents each! They are only allowed to sell 5 max per customer. So take a friend or make several trips if you need more.

Did you know the Disney Store sells these adorable reusable bags?!

The bags can be used for both a girl or boys party but since it is a girls party, I will add some pink tissue paper for fun!

All the Disney themed Goodies ..Before and….

After! The Disney Goodie Bags are all filled with fun bargain finds!

I like living conveniently close to Dollar Tree, Target and Michael’s Arts and Crafts but if you don’t, you can always find bargains shopping online at Amazon.com. When the party is all done, I am going to enjoy a Disney Dole Whip Inspired Rum Cocktail (see my recipe here) because this Disney Mom deserves it!

PS..I’m happy to have another reason to rock my Disney Mom ears that I received at #DisneySMMC, but my daughter has already requested that I please don’t wear them all day long at her party. 😂

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Will you be doing any end of school celebrating ? When was the last time you did anything Disney related? Please let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

Hey #Raleigh, If you seek Authentic Greek, head to @TavernaAgora during @TriRestweek and #TakeBackLunch

Leslie, Founder of SobeSavvy.com visits Taverna Agora to #TakeBackLunch during Triangle Restaurant Week

Greece is known for many things. The Acropolis and inventing the modern Olympic games just to name a few. Something else Greece is known for… healthy and delicious food! Whether it’s how they cook their lamb or use feta cheese in different dishes, Greek cuisine is adored worldwide. Although Greece is 5,000 miles away and eating there for lunch or dinner tomorrow is impossible for most, I have some great news. Greece is right here in the City of Oaks in the form of Taverna Agora Restaurant!

Taverna Agora is a bi-level restaurant serving authentic Greek cuisine in the heart of downtown Raleigh

Located in downtown Raleigh,NC, Taverna Agora offers old world flavors and rustic roots “reminiscent of gathering places found in Greece.” As soon as you walk in you get a feeling of traditional mixed with modern. The atmosphere is quite charming and I loved the decor both inside and on the covered rooftop patio.

At Taverna Agora, get ready to Eat, Drink,OPA!

SobeSavvy.com was invited there for lunch during the special Triangle Restaurant Week that runs from June 4 thru June 10. For a fixed price, you get to try dishes from the regular menu at a discount. Lunch at Taverna Agora during this special is $15 per person (plus tax/gratuity) for 3 COURSES! THAT is such a great deal don’t you think?!

Taverna Agora’s TRW Lunch Menu

Drinks are not included with TRW Lunch menu but I shared on my instastories two cocktails identified as “Village Favorites”. Both the Greek Mule and Greek Lemonade were refreshing!

We started with a couple of great cocktails and got down to the business of food. Our waiter welcomed me back (since I dined there before) and gave a warm welcome to my guest who was there for the first time. We ordered an appetizer, entrée and dessert from the special Triangle Restaurant Week menu as follows:

1ST COURSE

Greek Village Salad at Taverna Agora

Options were Lemon Chicken soup or a choice of two different salads. Both the Greek Village Salad and the Watermelon and Feta Salad were fresh and flavorful. I also was pleased to see that the portions were big enough to share with each other. Thanks to the quality of the balsamic vinegar combined with watermelon and feta, I have found a new fave summer salad!

Watermelon and Feta Salad at Taverna Agora

2ND COURSE & 3RD COURSE

It’s Lunchtime at Taverna Agora!

For entrees we went with the Chicken Penne and a Gyro Pita. Each of these were quite good and we were impressed again by the quality of the ingredients used. I have leftovers of the pasta that I can’t wait to enjoy! We both finished with their signature Greek dessert of Baklava.

Save room for Taverna Agora’s dessert…the 3rd course was amazing!

SobeSavvy Tip: Make some time and join Taverna Agora during your lunchtime to #TakeBackLunch. Studies show you’ll be happier and more productive when you back away from your desk, leave the screen and take time for lunch. You could even win a midday meal for 10! Enter >>>>here.

#TakeBackLunch on June 15th National Take Back The Lunch Break Day at Taverna Agora!

Triangle Restaurant Week ends Sunday but there’s still time to experience multiple dishes and flavors and immerse yourself in the tastes of Greece. You can still get those amazing dishes on their regular menu but don’t miss this chance to try the TRW Menu at this great price! Plus service was attentive and professional and I loved the setting. For all of those reasons combined with delicious food, hurry down to Taverna Agora!

TAVERNA AGORA

326 Hillsborough St.

Raleigh, NC 27603

Thanks Taverna Agora for hosting SobeSavvy.com! I really enjoyed my dining experience and looking forward to next time!

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Shop, Eat, Play, Explore|Celebrate with a ‘Day in DC’ Family Date @American_Girl Store #charactercounts

Shop, Eat, Play, Explore | Celebrate with a ‘Day in DC’ Family Date at American Girl Store #charactercounts

Disclaimer: Thanks to American Girl for hosting my #HeighPartyof3, which consists of my husband, our daughter and me! All opinions expressed here are my own.

It’s been quite the school year for our daughter, #outandaboutAva. Besides doing so well in first grade and receiving an award for perfect attendance, she has had a busy year with after-school activities such as bowling league and gymnastics.

#outandaboutAva celebrates #GIRLPOWER with American Girl of the Year 2018, Luciana Vega

Now that the end of school year is here, there’s more time to enjoy quality time as a family. So I planned a ‘Day in DC’ family date at the American Girl store. It’s a great place to celebrate time together and I knew it would be a memorable experience for us all!

SHOP

More than just a girls’ day…Dad and Daughter get ready to shop, have fun and explore the American Girl Store

This was our first visit to the American Girl Store located in Tysons Corner Center. The first thing we noticed is that it has two floors! Compared to the Charlotte and Atlanta location, it was HUGE to us.

The American Girl Store Washington,DC has two levels!

The moment you step inside an American Girl store, you realize that everything inside has been designed with girls in mind. From dolls, accessories, outfits, and books, it’s worth it to stop by an American Girl store even if it’s just to have a look! You can plan to buy later and shop online at americangirl.com.

#outandaboutAva is an only child so she uses her imagination of having a sister American Girl Bitty Baby doll!

EAT

If you worked up an appetite after shopping in the store, I highly suggest making reservations at the American Girl Bistro. The food here is really good and I learned that while the bistros offer similar menus, they are not exactly alike.

American Girl Bistro- Washington,DC Lunch Menu

I am a fan of their ‘Design How You Dine’ format which allows you to choose a starter & a main course all for one price. This location offers cocktails and wine on their drink menu for the adults to enjoy as well as speciality drinks for the girls. Even Luciana Vega, American Girl of the Year 2018, gets a cup in case she wants a beverage!

Sip, Sip, Hooray..Parents, Girls and Dolls, too can enjoy hot or cool beverages at American Girl Bistro

More favorite moments from our dining experience at this American Girl Bistro….

Every table has a box of conversation starters on it. It’s a great way to learn more about each other!

Great customer service and dining suggestions from the staff at American Girl Bistro

Salmon for Him, Pasta for Her and for me, Asian Chicken Salad. It was all pretty tasty and filling especially after having scrumptuous starters. Can you believe we had no room for dessert!?

PLAY

Dad watches his daughter swaddle a Bitty Baby and is reminded of her own swaddling days! Time flies!

Children are so used to being told to not touch things in stores, don’t play with that, or put that toy down. But at American Girl store it’s different. They want to inspire your childs’ creativity thru play and let little girls be girls. Our daughter enjoyed learning how to swaddle a Bitty Baby doll, made silly faces like the Wellie Wishers and shared a fun secret with her Dad! Even at the Bistro there were activities to play while we waited for our meal. Check out americangirl.com/play to take play online too!

So many ways to encourage endless imagination and creativity thru play at the American Girl Store

EXPLORE

Luciana Vega, Girl Of The Year 2018, inspires girls to explore and shoot beyond the stars!

Our ‘Day in DC’ Family Date was inspired by American Girl 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega, whose dream is to be an astronaut and land on Mars. We encourage STEM learning and feed our daughter’s interest in science, specifically space travel. So I thought a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum would be cool, especially since its only about 20 mins from the American Girl store and entry is FREE!

After a visit to the American Girl store, check out the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum!

It was fun to see the real space suits worn by the astronauts and compare just how much attention to detail American Girl has added in Luciana’s Space Suit. In fact, have you noticed how all of Luciana’s accessories are quite realistic? Stay tuned, #outandaboutAva will share more about Luciana Vega and her fun accessories in an upcoming post!

SobeSavvy Tip: Explore more of the American Girl world with augmented reality, exclusive videos, and activities at American Girl Stores. Be sure to download the American Girl app before you go!

If you are planning a visit to DC, I recommend going to the American Girl store, dining at the Bistro and enjoy your time together. Life is busy and kids grow up so fast, so it is so important to spend quality time and make memories that last! Remember, “Time together is a gift. Make it count.” ~American Girl

Plan your visit at americangirl.com/stores

American Girl Washington, D.C.
8090 Tysons Corner Center
McLean, VA 22102

My #HeighPartyof3 enjoyed our time together at DC/Tysons Corner American Girl Store/Bistro

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Event Recap |Carnival Horizon’s Naming Celebration + More #FunontheHorizon @CarnivalCruise

#FUNONTHEHORIZON

If you read my previous blog, I shared My Top 5 Must See Features On Carnival Cruise Line’s Newest Ship, Carnival Horizon. Well, I just got back from seeing it in person at the naming ceremony and US inaugural celebration in New York on May 23, 2018. This momentous occasion has left me so inspired to cruise with my family this summer!

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Officially named by its godmother Queen Latifah, Carnival Horizon was celebrated by invited guests aboard the ship for an evening full of festivities. My time with Carnival Cruise reminded me that having fun is a daily choice and if I had one word to describe the event it would be FUN! Just take a look at my #FunOntheHorizon recap and you’ll see why:

MEDIA BRIEFING

Prior to the event, Carnival hosted a media briefing with Carnival President Christine Duffy, where St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was presented with a $100,000 donation check from Carnival representing monies raised from various fundraisers, both onboard and ashore. The funds continue the line’s ongoing support of St. Jude with more than $16 million raised in the fight against childhood cancer since the partnership began in 2010.

EMBARKATION

After the media briefing, it was time for the fun to begin aboard the Carnival Horizon! Check In/Boarding was a smooth process thanks to Carnival’s wonderful staff and The Cat in the Hat was even there to welcome us. When I boarded the ship, the first thing I noticed was the Dreamscape, a stunning three-deck-high LED sculpture in the ship’s atrium. It will showcase the artwork of the talented young artists from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It’s a beautiful sight to see and such a cool collaboration!

TOUR

Before the naming ceremony, my husband and I took a self-guided tour of Carnival Horizon. We started in our outside stateroom which was spacious, modern and comfy.

We could not wait to see the dozens of new innovations on this ship that makes it different than other Carnival cruises! Carnival Horizon has:

* Dr.Seuss Waterworks, the first-ever Dr. Seuss water park

* a new teppanyaki venue, Bonsai

* Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse, a unique dining concept that combines real deal BBQ favorites created by Food Network star and longtime partner Guy Fieri, along with four craft beers brewed on board by brewmaster Colin Presby.

Carnival Horizon is the second in the line’s Vista class series so it includes features like the following:

*the bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide

*a Havana section with its own Cuban-themed bar and pool

NAMING CEREMONY

Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line said “Carnival Horizon’s naming ceremony was one of our best yet, with Queen Latifah carrying out her duties as godmother then battling it out with Super Bowl champion Jake Elliott of my hometown Philadelphia Eagles in an entertaining Lip Sync Battle. We were also delighted to showcase the wonderfully talented children from St. Jude whose artwork on the Dreamscape will be forever associated with this spectacular ship.”

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Added Latifah, “My time aboard Carnival Horizon was nothing short of incredible. In addition to having the honor of serving as the ship’s godmother, meeting the amazing kids from St. Jude and their families and squaring off against Jake in an all-out Lip Sync Battle is certainly something I will always cherish.”

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

LIP SYNC BATTLE | #LSBCarnival

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Following the ceremony, we headed into the Liquid Lounge to see Queen Latifah square off against Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl champion Jake Elliott in Lip Sync Battle: Horizon modeled after the hit Paramount Network TV series and rolling out across the Carnival fleet.

Photo Credit | Carnival Cruise Line

Latifah rocked the house with her incredible interpretation of the Weather Girls classic “It’s Raining Men,” while Elliott had a chance to live out his rock star fantasies performing Whitesnake’s arena anthem “Here I Go Again,” all performed with back-up dancers from Carnival Horizon’s Playlist Productions to a packed house who were given light up microphones and foam banners to wave in support of “Queen” or “Champ”.

DINING

Dressed in our “cruise elegant” attire, [if you are like me and not quite sure what that is, find definition here] we headed to dinner in the Meridan Dining room. Being the seafood lover that I am, I ordered and enjoyed the oysters as a starter, the Lobster/Shrimp entree while my husband got the lamb chops. We also sampled food from the Seafood Shack,various dishes from the buffet at Lido and Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint!

There are so many dining options and amenities to satisfy any traveling foodie! The quality of the food was great and everything we tried was fresh, and flavorful. After dinner drinks are available at the many bars on the ship. If you enjoy craft cocktails, definitely try Alchemy Bar, where they take a scientific approach to Mixology.

ENTERTAINMENT

So much to see and so much to do if you choose aboard the Carnival Horizon. Sports Fans can hang out at the SkyBox Sports Bar, Comedy Lovers can catch at act at the Limelight Lounge, check out the DJ and party on the deck. Catch a movie at IMAX or watch a Dive-IN Movie at Seaside Theater.

There really is so much to do and I had so little time. However, this overnight stay gave me just enough glimpse into how entertaining a cruise on Carnival Horizon would be!

BOOK YOUR CRUISE


Carnival Horizon kicks off a summer schedule from New York with a four-day cruise to Bermuda departing May 24, 2018. The ship will operate four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from New York through September then reposition to Miami for year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises beginning later that month.


To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line or to make a reservation, visit Carnival.com, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, or contact any travel agent. Follow Carnival on: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

GIVE BACK #HOWICHOOSEFUN

Thanks again Carnival for giving me the opportunity to explore Carnival Horizon to get a first look at your 26th ship and share the #FunontheHorizon!

As part of their “Choose Fun” for a great cause campaign, Carnival invites us all to share a selfie on social media with the hashtag #HowIChooseFun and Carnival will make a donation to St.Jude Children’s Research Hospital!

Leslie, Founder of SobeSavvy.com and her daughter #outandaboutAva says Carpe Diem! Wake Up and Choose Fun! #HowIChooseFun

I choose fun by embracing my inner child while playing with my own kid. Everyday she reminds me to get some laughs and fun in before my Mom/Wife/Life daily duties begin!
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE FUN?

Dine with a View and Taste What’s New at @OceanicDining + @BlueWater_ILM in #WrightsvilleBeach @WilmingtoNCoast

Today’s #FoodieFriday feature is dedicated to two restaurants my family and I dined at during our recent visit to Wilmington, NC to see What’s In Bloom. Bluewater Waterfront Grill and the Oceanic Restaurant, both located in Wrightsville Beach, are two places that I would recommend for enjoying delicious food/cocktails with gorgeous views!

OCEANIC RESTAURANT

703 S.LUMINA AVE. | Seafood
www.oceanicrestaurant.com/

For dinner on Saturday, we had a reservation at the Oceanic Restaurant, located on the beach and connected to the Crystal Pier. They recently launched a new menu at the Oceanic and SobeSavvy.com was invited to check it out! Having lived in Florida, I have found that usually beachside restaurants either have good food and a non existent view or an awesome view and subpar cuisine. Oceanic Restaurant on Wrightsville, Nc is the rare gem that manages to do both.

Being the only restaurant in Wrightsville Beach situated on the Atlantic Ocean carries a lot of responsibility and they carry it well.
Oceanic also played a huge part in restoring the Crystal Pier, which literally stretches into the atlantic ocean with a fishing pier and outdoor above ocean tables.

We were seated upstairs at a table with a beautiful view of the sand and the surf below. They presented a neat kids menu with crayons for my little one to enjoy.

I ordered a White Sangria unlike any other I have ever had. It came with a frozen stone fruit popsicle immersed in the glass. Loved it! Hubby ordered a nice glass of Greek white wine, which paired well with our appetizer order of Oyster Rockefellers. I am still dreaming about those plump fresh oysters, topped with creamed spinach, pernod and crumbled bacon. So amazingly good!

In lieu of dinner rolls, you can expect an order of hush puppies to arrive in a basket for all to enjoy! My little one ordered the kids pasta marinara and a side of steamed broccoli. Kids and pasta go together like fish and water, so she was happy.

We tried two new items from their dinner menu that caught our attention: Shrimp and Grits and Brick Roasted Chicken. The Shrimp and Grits were large shrimp sautéed with shallots, pancetta, mushrooms, cajun spices, finished with cream and served over a fried Asiago polenta cake. The shrimp were good BUT that polenta cake was the perfect sponge to soak up all that creamy goodness. The chicken was amazing! I don’t usually order chicken at a seafood restaurant, but after the GM described it, I am so glad I did! It was moist, flavorful and the skin was the perfect grade of crispy without being overcooked.

SobeSavvy Tip: This restaurant and its unique seaside setting makes Oceanic very popular amongst visitors and locals alike. It is a place you MUST visit when in Wrightsville Beach, NC. Come for the food, stay for the view and GET IN LINE BEFORE YOU ARRIVE with Yelp Mobile App.

BLUEWATER WATERFRONT GRILL

4 MARINA ST. | Seafood
www.bluewaterdining.com/

Bluewater Waterfront Grill, recently launched a brunch program at the restaurant and includes a Bloody Mary bar, champagne cocktails and a new cocktail program. SobeSavvy.com was invited to check out what’s new so this is where we decided to enjoy Sunday Brunch for Mother’s Day!

Brunch, without a doubt is one of the best ways to start of a lazy Sunday morning/afternoon. Brunch on the Intra-Coastal waters of the NC coast is even better. Enter the Blue Water WaterFront Grill in Wilmington Beach, NC. Set amongst beautiful boats and folks pulling up their pleasure crafts right to their dock, this restaurant is a mainstay in the area.

What’s New! They have a special build your own Bloody Mary and Champagne Cocktail Bar on Sundays that we enjoyed. Peach Bellini and Red Sangria set the tone for a wonderful meal experience. Bananas Foster French Toast was divine as was the Egg & Bacon Croissant.

Sitting dockside was a fun treat for our little one. She loved watching the comings and goings of the watercrafts as she enjoyed her kids menu item Fish & Chips. Such a relaxed atmosphere on a picture perfect warm spring morning. This was a brunch to remember!

Thank you to Oceanic Restaurant and Bluewater Waterfront Grill for hosting my #HeighPartyof3 during our visit to Wilmington,NC and Island Beaches. If you are looking for family friendly dining with great service, a delicious food/drink menu and amazing views, make reservations at these two places for a memorable dining experience.

#TRAVEL | Visit #WilmingtonNC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom🌹

TRAVEL | Visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom! Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com

You all know the saying ..”April Showers Bring May Flowers“,well my #HeighPartyof3 decided to put the theory to the test and headed to Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to discover What’s In Bloom! In the past, we have visited during the summer as a fun, “Family Travel” destination and also spent a “Daycation” in Wilmington NC & Island Beaches because for us it’s just a 2 hour roadtrip from Raleigh, NC.

This was our first time traveling to Wilmington NC in the Spring and I thought instead of flowers as a gift for Mother’s Day, why not experience botanical gardens and more in this beautiful city! With just 24 hours to explore, there is so much to get outside and do here. Take a look at our weekend itinerary filled with nature-theme activities the whole family can enjoy!

DAY 1 Arrive Saturday

Wilmington + Wrightsville Beach

Before you explore, make your first stop at the main Visitor Information Center, located at 505 Nutt Street in Downtown Wilmington. It opens on Saturday at 9am and is open daily except for Thanksgiving/Christmas. You can get any questions answered by staff, pick up maps, guides and vacation coupons!

Pick up an Official Visitors Guide and more at the main Visitor Information Center | SobeSavvy.com

Take a self-guided walking tour at Airlie Gardens , a 67 acre historical garden in Wilmington. We took advantage of the complimentary tram ride and learned so much about the lush gardens and its rich history. Go and see a 468 yr old Airlie Oak, Azaleas, and the Butterfly House. Learn about Minnie Evans, an African American woman who was a domestic who sold her artwork at Airlie. She once said ” God has some 600 shades of green, and He dressed the world with them.” She died in 1987 and local artists created the Bottle Chapel, a memorial sculpture garden, in 2004 in her honor. It was such an amazing sight to see!

Walk thru Airlie Gardens and learn about history while enjoying nature | SobeSavvy.com

All that walking will surely work up an appetite! Sweet & Savory Café is close by and offers a Saturday Brunch. This farm to fork restaurant in Wilmington is known for its variety of menu choices and fresh baked goods at their bakery.

Dine at Sweet and Savory for Saturday Brunch for a variety of Farm to Fork dishes | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Short on time or rather have a quick bite to go? Grab something at Port City Java. I enjoyed an iced coffee for a caffeine boost before our next activity!

Port City Java uses the Japanese Iced Coffee method for a more flavorful,bright,complex brew and its oh so good| SobeSavvy.com

We checked in at the Hampton Inn Wilmington/Downtown and got changed into our bathing suits for some fun in the sun at Wrightsville Beach, located just 15 mins away from Downtown Wilmington. It’s a spacious, clean beach with clear blue waters and is one of the most environmentally friendly beaches in the state. We collected shells to take home as a souvenir and our daughter played by the shore until it was time for dinner at Oceanic Restaurant attached to Crystal Pier. *Be sure to check back here for my #FoodieFriday review of our dining experience at this restaurant. Wrightsville Beach is a walkable beach town with the beauty of nature all around!

Play, Relax and Start a Seashell Collection at Wrightsville Beach | SobeSavvy.com

The Arboretum at New Hanover County closes at 8pm which made it a great last stop of our day. It happened to be prom night and many people were there to capture the perfect photo. Visit the 7 acres of nature trails and gardens, which include a Japanese tea house, gazebo, children’s cottage, ability garden and water garden for FREE!

See the beauty of blooms for free at The Arboretum at New Hanover County | SobeSavvy.com

DAY 2 Depart Sunday

Kure Beach+ Carolina Beach

Sunday,Mother’s Day..all I want to do is sleep in but when you have a six year old daughter who’s motto is ‘Carpe Diem’, you get up early and seize the day! We enjoyed brunch with a view in Wrightsville Beach at Bluewater Waterfront Grill (which you can see a few of my photos here + stay tuned for my #FoodieFriday feature) before our visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach. It’s worth the short drive from Wilmington to see more than 2500 animals and the 2 special exhibits: Dinosaurs! and Butterfly Bungalow. The cherry on top of our Sunday Funday at the Aquarium was when one of the butterflies landed right on my husband’s hand! My whole family had a fin-tastic time at this attraction learning just how much animals and nature are connected to each other.

Visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher to be inspired by nature and all its wonder | SobeSavvy.com

We did not plan to have another beach day but our daughter’s pleas and the call of the ocean breeze encouraged us to stop at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. It is right down the road from the Aquarium so it really was a convenient stop. This public beach is great for bird watchers because alot of nature is unspoiled here.

Kure Beach is a pure and natural playground for beach goers, bird watchers and nature lovers | SobeSavvy.com

Did you know that one of the only places in the world where you can see the Venus flytrap growing in its native environment is at Carolina Beach State Park? See the rare Venus Flytraps for FREE and learn about one of the world’s most unique carnivorous plants!

Head to the Carolina Beach State Park for a tour along the Flytrap Trail | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Ranger-Guided tours of the park’s Venus flytrap trail are available Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10am. I recommend the guided tour, as the flytraps can be hard to find on your own. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes with socks for this guided tour. Insect repellent is highly recommended as are long pants. You can always change back into shorts and sandals in the park’s visitor center bathrooms. The hikes meet at the flytrap trail head and depart promptly at 10am so be sure to arrive in time to park and meet. If you gey hungry after hiking the nature trails, go a half a mile to dine at Michael’s Seafood and enjoy fresh seafood dishes like loaded oysters and snow crab legs!

Dine at Michael’s Seafood, conveniently close to Carolina Beach State Park | SobeSavvy.com

Thank you to Wilmington and Beaches CVB and the attractions who welcomed my family and I to experience nature-theme activities and feature them in my 24 hour itinerary. I hope you and your family will review this travel guide and take the opportunity to visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches soon to see What’s In Bloom!

#CheerstoMom Cocktail Recipe with @TOPOdistillery Organic Spiced Rum🍍Inspired by #DisneyDoleWhip

In celebration of warmer temps in NC and Mother’s Day weekend, I plan to host some Mom friends on my outdoor patio for a fun, ‘Cheers to Mom‘ celebration! I like to create speciality drinks when I entertain and to me, nothing says summer is near more that a good rum cocktail. I have been seeing all these Disney Dole Whip recipes and decided to try one of my own using NC’s own award winning organic spirits: TOPO Carolina Spiced Rum!

The Spirit

Admit it, the words “organic” and “liquor” do not usually exist in the same sentence. Not anymore. After being a fan and consumer of TOPO Organic Spirits [they offer a whiskey, vodka, gin and moonshine], I was excited when my friends at TOPO sent a sample of their new release, TOPO Organic Spiced Rum. After living in Miami for almost 20 years and attending several Rum festivals [like the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival], I became somewhat of a rum expert. dark rum, light rum, Haitian Rum, Jamaican rum, Puerto Rican rum. I have had them all at one time or the other. What I was not familiar with however was rum from North Carolina!

TOPO has the distinction as the only Green + Certified distillery in the country. Environmentally friendly and 100 % organic ingredients go into their lines of spirits. I didn’t quite know what to expect. But after the initial smell and sip, I was in love!

Per their website, the rum… “has flavors of the coastline: allspice, vanilla, orange peel, peppercorns, cinnamon and clove. It’s a marriage of the finest organic botanicals with an incredibly smooth rum. We make a tasty white rum and then use a mortar and pestle to grind spices to add more flavor. You can smell and taste the difference. “

The Cocktail

More than one of my Disney Social Media Mom friends [that I recently got to connect with at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference On The Road Celebration in Miami] has made me aware over the years of a special concoction they had enjoyed at one of the Walt Disney World Theme Parks called “Dole Whip”. It is sometimes in the form of a soft serve ice cream or as a non alcoholic beverage. However there are some places in the park that will serve this as a rum infused tropical cocktail, sort of like a grown up smoothie! I have not had one yet, but I am on a mission to get there soon to enjoy one or two for myself. Until then, I thought I would DIY my own Disney Dole Whip Rum drink and call it a ‘Cheers To Mom’ Cocktail.

The Recipe

🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍🍍

Dole Frozen Pineapple Chunks
Vanilla Coconut Milk
Topo Organic Spiced Rum 2 TBLS of White Granulated Sugar
Ice Cubes

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Blend the above in a blender at high speed for 30 seconds and sample. Adjust any ingredients to taste. I added a little more rum because well, more rum equals more fun! Top of with Whip Cream [optional] and enjoy!

SobeSavvy Tip: Give the gift of TOPO for Mother’s Day!

Known far and wide as one of the nations premier local breweries, plan a date and take Mom on a TOPO Distillery Tour at their Chapel Hill complex. When you are done, go upstairs to dine at their restaurant and patio bar, The Top Of The Hill, which offers great sunset views of Chapel Hill! You can also give your Mom a TOPO Gift Card or simply go to your local ABC, purchase her favorite TOPO Organic Spirits and box it up with love!

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED ANY OF THE TOPO ORGANIC SPIRITS? HOW ABOUT A DISNEY DOLE WHIP? If not, here is your chance to enjoy the two together on your very own with the above Cheers to Mom cocktail recipe!

Enjoy and Cheers to Moms everywhere! 🍍🍹🍍🍹🍍🍹🍍