There’s no better way to unwind and recharge than with a massage at Massage Envy at Webster Rock Hill. What you may not know is that Massage Envy also offers an array of services dedicated to total body health such as stretches, facials,  skincare products, and peels. What’s more is that Massage Envy features affordable prices and high quality service, so you always know you’re getting the best treatment. Their services are perfect for the busy mom looking for a refresh and a little pampering. I wanted to share with you a few tidbits you might not know about Massage Envy–and reasons why I love them!

  • The  Hydrafacial.   This is not your typical facial,  It is a multi-step process to rehydrate the skin.  The final step of this facial your skin becomes infused with ultra-hydrating serums.  If you’re planning on attending an event like a wedding, reunion, or special occasion it’ll have your skin looking and feeling its best.  J.Lo gets this facial.
Massage Envy Hydrafacial
  • Total body Stretch. Before I recently ran in a 5K, I decided to give it a try and was so happy that I did! They helped me stretch from head to toe.  I felt amazing afterward. The experts work with a large number of athletes, older clients, runners, golfers, etc. so I knew I was in the right hands.
Massage Envy Stretch
  • Customized facial. Taking care of your skin is important to feel radiant and rejuvenated. My favorite is the relaxing hand and arm massage that comes with it!
Massage Envy Facial
  • HSA Accounts: If you choose to get a Massage Envy membership, most HSA Accounts will allow you to pay for your body/skin services. Double check with your specific plan first, but what a deal!
Massage Envy HSA
  • Massage Envy offers Murad Skin care products. After your facial, your esthetician can consult you on a skin care treatment regime. All the products were created by a dermatologist and are customizable for your skin. I have a combo for anti-aging and adult acne.   
Massage Envy Murad Skincare
  • You can book appointments anytime, day or night through their app. Sometimes I get the urge in the early morning hours when I’m tired and groggy that I’m in need of some total body care. The app makes it easy to book or cancel your services anytime you want.
  • Peels. I love taking care of my skin, so once I was confident in Massage Envy’s skin care services, I decided I wanted to take action with my adult acne as well as promote anti-aging. After a consultation and some hand holding, I tried my first peel. The results were amazing! Afterwards, they sent me home with a post peel kit which featured products to enhance the service.
  • As I mentioned before, the services at Massage Envy are super affordable. Where else can you get your first facial or massage for just $50?  I’m all about maximizing my budget and I have loved all the services and results I have gotten from ME.
Massage Envy
  • Lastly, I will always give my business to places where the people are friendly, welcoming, and experts of their craft. Massage Envy has always made me feel welcome and relaxed.

Check out the photos from our fun event Massage Envy put together! All the attendees got to try out mini services and went home with SWAG from these great local businesses. If you are thinking about total body health services, check out Massage Envy in Rock Hill.  Use the code SarahOutandAbout for free enhancements to any service. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

Best of Travel 2018

Last year was filled with road trips for my family.  I have set a goal to get my boys to all 50 states by the time they graduate high school so we hit the road and created loads of family memories doing it.  

My parents were avid travelers so I learned at an early age there is so much to explore in this beautiful country and I want my boys to experience that as well.  One of my biggest passions is traveling and I am thrilled to share all the places we would recommend with you is to hopefully make your travel planning process easier.  

Here are the most popular travel destinations from last year.  Click the link below each pic for all the scoop on where we stayed, what we did and where we ate.  

Nashville mural

Nashville

Gulf Shores
Mobile AL

Gulf Shores, AL

Branson Road Trip with Kids #notyourgrandmasBranson! #

Branson, MO  

Cape Girardeau MO

Cape Girardeau, MO

STL Staycation at the Ameristar

St Charles MO, girls weekend

St Louis Arch

St Louis Arch Staycation

Echo Bluff
Echo Bluff

Echo Bluff State Park

Kozy Kaboose

Kozy Caboose, Eureka MO

St Charles Christmas Traditions

St Charles, Holiday Staycation

We had so much fun on all these trips. I want these trip posts to be a valuable resource for you because I know the time it takes to plan a vacation. Please let me know anything else you would like to see that would be helpful. I’d love to know where your traveling to this year.

XOXO Sarah~

Mom to Mom:  Coach Gayle WhyPowered Coaching

Tell us about your background.

I’ve worked as a certified whole health coach and personal fitness trainer for four years. I’m a native St. Louisan (Parkway North, lol) but lived elsewhere for 15 years (Italy, Austria, Boston, Boulder, and Seattle). I’ve been back in the Lou for 5 years now and have one son who I gave birth to in Italy.  

I founded WhyPowered Whole Health Coaching to help women struggling to maintain a healthy weight by offering personalized support and accountability for making lifestyle and mindset shifts toward healthier living. I coach individuals and groups for finding their personal ‘whys’ for eating cleaner, exercising regularly and proactively managing stress. No gimmicks or quick fixes; just real and lasting change.    

Social handles:  

IG:WhyPoweredCoaching

FB:facebook.com/WhyPoweredCoaching/

Email:Gayle@WhyPoweredCoaching.com

Coaching questions:

What made you want to be a health coach?  

I’ve been passionate about health most of my life, but in my early 20s, I was carried an extra 20 pounds and felt miserable. I smoked and drank and just couldn’t seem to get untangled from it. Once I did, everything shifted positively.   

What type of person would benefit from working with a health coach?  

Anyone who has moved past the diet quick-fix mentality of weight loss.  

What created your passion in a healthy lifestyle?  

Personally moving out of an unhealthy and stuck place and having life open up as a result.    

What is your favorite thing about coaching?  

The positive life-changing impact it offers, especially for those who’ve struggled for years to find peace with food and for shifting to healthy lifestyles habits. 

What is your biggest challenge?  

Not enough hours in a day.  

Advice you would give someone wanting to make healthy changes in their life?  

Don’t go it alone.  Working with an accountability partner makes a huge difference—whether  with a professional coach, a friend, colleague or family member, when you have support systems to keep you in-check and cheer you on and help you right yourself when you get off-track, you’ll go farther than you would going it alone. 

What are healthy qualities you try and role model for your son?  

Moderation in all things– except love.  

What are some kid friendly healthy snacks you’d recommend for kids? 

Sliced apples coated with lemon juice (to prevent browning) and cinnamon

Fresh sugar snap peas

What are the best ways to keep kids active if they don’t play sports?  

Being outside in nature is fantastic, whether hiking or flying a kite or riding a scooter or a bike.  

What would you tell your younger self? 

Dream big and always invest in yourself.  

Advice you’d give to other working moms to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Keep your self-care and well-being high on your priority list. It’s not selfish—it’s vital.  When your ‘cup’ is full, you have so much more to give. 

Personal:

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Dark chocolate (70% or greater for the antioxidants)

Favorite beauty tip?

Exercise—it’s the number one way to control how you age.

Favorite beauty product?

Moisturizer with sunscreen (and smiling!)

What is one thing you cannot go to bed without doing?

For stress-management I prioritize a practice of nightly gratitudes. In a bedside notebook, I record 2-3 things that either made me smile that day or generally I feel grateful for. It’s had a profound impact on my ability to see the silver lining in challenging times and keep my optimism meter set on high.  

Best place in the world you have been?  Bucket List travel spot?

Tuscany.  I lived in northern Italy for 4 years, so I was blessed with being able to spend quite a bit of time there.  It’s dreamy– especially the food!

Bucket list travel destination is…

Too many to list.  I’ve experienced lots of Europe, but never Asia or Africa, so somewhere on those continents.  

Favorite App 

SworkIt 

Anything else you want people to know? 

Diets don’t work.  The industry has 95% failure rate. Learn to trust your body and yourself.     

The Grinch at Stifel Theatre

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is making lasting memories my boys will remember forever. We love Christmas, and everything that comes with it, so it’s the perfect time to have some festive fun. Seeing Santa Claus is always a fan favorite, but who could forget our most lovable green Christmas villain, the Grinch! This year, I surprised my boys by taking them to Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at Stifel Theatre in downtown St. Louis for a special holiday night.  The show was magical. Logan loved the Grinch and all his funny antics.   Mason thought Cindy Lou Who was pretty and I loved watching the excitement on my boys faces.  

Logan and Mason love the Grinch, and I loved dropping little hints that we were finally going to see him. They saw the commercials on TV for the musical, and kept asking me if we could go, so I decided to have some fun and build the excitement. I went for whipping up some delicious green Grinch themed smoothies for breakfast, that they not only loved but were also a super healthy way to start our mornings. We also made Grinch themed cookies, which were dark chocolate and mint. They were seriously tasty. When the night finally arrived, I couldn’t wait to tell them the big news that we were finally going to see one of their favorite Christmas characters on stage. They were so excited!

Grinch theme breakfast smoothies

I wanted to include some helpful tips below, in case you and your family decide to pay the Grinch a visit this holiday season. Tickets are still available. Not only is it a great way to spend a night out on the town (who doesn’t love going to the theater), but also a great Christmas memory to make with you and your loved ones. The show was so fun!

  • The show runs for four days, starting the night of December 13th.
  • If you purchase your tickets at the box office you save money on the added fees.  
  • For most shows, Abram’s Garage offers parking passes for purchase, which is right next door to the Stifel Theatre.
  • If you don’t pay for advanced parking, there is also parking available for $10-$20 at the Kiel Center Garage (owned and operated by the city of St. Louis) which is attached to the Enterprise Center. If you take the back exit, it leads straight to the venue.
  • I suggest coming early! The doors open one hour before the start of the show.  There are fun photo opps.  
  • If you need ADA tickets, give the Box Office a call. The staff at Stifel is happy to accommodate you.
    • A sign language interpreter may be requested through the Box Office.
    • For select shows, Stifel partners with MindsEye to provide audio description for those who are visually impaired.
  • Booster seats are also available for your littler ones. Ushers will provide them upon request.
  • This show does not have an intermission.  

So those are my tips to make the most out of your visit to Stifel! I’d love to hear about your experience seeing the Grinch, and as always, Happy Holidays! Tickets are still available here.  

Photo courtesy of Stifel theatre

To check out our holiday posts click here and here.   

Holiday Staycation

This holiday season, the boys, grandma and I took a holiday staycation in St. Charles! Every year the city holds the St. Charles Christmas Traditions featuring tons of festive events for the whole family. It’s a great way to reconnect with loved ones and take a break from the distractions of daily life. And you don’t need to take a plane or train to get there! I wanted to share with you some of our favorite events we attended, where we stayed, and a few of my favorite places to shop downtown; all in time for this holiday season.

What we did

 The St. Charles Christmas Traditions filled with all sorts of fun events such as parades, caroling, Christmas characters, and card collecting and more!

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After we got all settled and checked into the Drury, we decided to take the trolley that night into the downtown area to catch some fun holiday festivities. We used the Ride Saint Charles app to find out the trolley route and times which show you when the trolley will be in your area. It was free and best of all we didn’t have to park.

When we got onto Main Street in the downtown area, I felt like I had stepped straight into a Hallmark Christmas movie! Everything was so festive and jolly, with carolers, music, lights, decorations and even Christmas characters. They had Santas and Magical Legends of Christmas, who were in character all over Main Street. They give you a brief background of who they are, and even carry around cards with their name and a little picture of themselves, with a description on the back so you can remember them! Some of them were jokesters and others seemed to take a page straight from Ebenezer Scrooge himself. My boys got really into meeting and talking to all of them, especially the Christmas Angel who was Logan’s favorite.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

Another great event that everyone from 1 to 92 will get a kick out of is the Santa Parade! Every Saturday and Sunday during the festival, the Santa Parade rolls on down Main Street with music, floats, and even international Santas. The grand finale features Santa and Mrs. Claus riding in their horse-drawn carriage. The Ice Block Party is also a fun way to end the day with a bang. It starts every Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After strolling around for a bit, we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets to take in all the holiday cheer.  

The horse-drawn carriages are parked along the street.  You can take a short or long ride and they are equipped with cozy blankets to keep you warm.  We could not resist this cute horse.  I mean look at the glitter hoofs.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

St Charles Christmas Traditions

My Favorite Places to Shop on Main Street

No visit to the historic downtown area of St. Charles is complete without a little shopping! I love perusing the locally owned stores that line the brick streets for gifts and goods you really can’t find anywhere else.

Grandma’s Cookies

If you’re in need of a quick and delicious pick-me-up, make sure to stop by Grandma’s cookies. They have a holiday special:  Cookie and Cocoa for $2.00. With classic flavors like chocolate chip, sugar sprinkle, snickerdoodle, and coconut, Grandma’s cookies is sure to please all sweet tooths in your family. Not to mention the cute little location the bakery calls home is the same building where all the cookie magic started in 1976 with the Grandma herself, Charlotte Thompson.

Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium

Get ready to treat your nose, because Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium has soaps and bath products that smell good enough to eat. Spiced cranberry bar soaps, pumpkin spice latte bath bombs and apple mint oatmeal sugar scrub are just some of the indulgent creations this one of a kind soap shop whips up. They also make for great gifts!  My favorite-The bath bombs.  

Happy Camper

This shop makes me happy.  It’s the only shop you need for the best graphic T’s.  My current favorite T-shirt says Hallmark Movies and Christmas Cookies!  Yessss. They have loads of cute T’s for adults and kids.

Main Street Books

This cute little red brick building is every book lover’s dream. Stop by for a new book or a gift for your loved ones. The shop also has unique greeting cards, children’s toys, journals and more. Sometimes, just getting lost in the bookshelves the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Candle Fusion

If you are looking for a fun hands-on activity you can create your own candle at Candle Fusion.  They have over 100 different scents to choose from and you create your candle from beginning to end.  This would be the perfect girls night or fun to do with kids to create the perfect gift for someone special.

Holiday Lights

If you’re in the area of St. Charles, O’Fallon isn’t a far drive away and worth visiting for its “Celebration of Lights,” which you can experience from the comfort of your own car. The event is held at Fort Zumwalt Park and runs from Thursday to Sunday 6-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6-10 p.m. You can also make your visit a little more special by reserving a horse-drawn wagonette, a train, or a sleigh hayride!

We decided to drive around and catch some holiday light displays in the area! To limit our time trying to find houses all over the area, we used the website, Holiday Light Hopping, which lists an easy to use guide of all the best home light displays. 

Bass Pro Shop

If you’re in the area of St. Charles, a visit to Bass Pro Shop is a free fun indoor spot for kids. My boys love to come here for Santa’s Wonderland.  There are tons of fun activities for the kids inside the store like video games, kids shooting range, write a letter to Santa, play with remote control trucks, and even Santa photos for free.  

When you arrive you’ll get a pass for a specific time to see Santa.

Bass Pro St Charles

Where we ate

Looking for a pizza joint that offers delicious pies while also being completely customizable? Then Pieology is your new favorite spot! This week, the boys and I headed over to Pieology to try a slice (or a few) from the restaurant’s six new crusts. Not only were they super yummy, but we also got to choose exactly what we wanted. With tons of choices and individual sized pizzas, there’s a little something for everyone at this not your average pizzeria.

Pieology recently released six new premium crusts that you can choose from when building your pizza. The menu features Artisan Thin, Artisan Thin Hearty Wheat, PieRise® Thick, Hand-Crafted Deep Dish, Cauliflower Crust and Gluten Free. I ordered my boys the Cauliflower Crust as a base for their cheese pizza, and they absolutely loved it! They ate every bite and had no clue they were eating something good for them. I’d call that a win. I tried the Hand-Crafted Deep Dish and the Artisan Thin Hearty Wheat which were both delicious.

Pieology lets you create any type of pizza you want, but if you get a little overwhelmed with all the choices like I sometimes do, the menu also has Chef Inspired Pizza. One of the most popular choices on the menu is the “Butcher’s Choice” which features house red sauce, pepperoni, sausage, meatball, mozzarella and olive oil blend. The other favorite is the Margherita Da Vinci, which is a classic margherita pizza. The restaurant also has delicious salads, such as the Elevated Caesar, and the Classic Italian, and even beer and wine for the adults in the family.

Pieology

Another great feature that Pieology offers is their app, “Pieology Pie Life Rewards,” which makes it super easy to order and pick up your pizza. Although you can’t get delivery through the app, you can still order Pieology pizza using Grub Hub or Door Dash. With the restaurant’s app, you can easily customize your pizza any way you want just like in the restaurant, and it even has loyalty reward points and exclusive offers for an added bonus. You can pay through the app, and every 100 points earned is a free pizza!

App_Pizza_image 2

Pieology is perfect for kids, family friendly and in a great location in the streets of St. Charles. They also hold great fundraisers for organizations raising money for a charitable cause. It’s great food, with a great message. Give Pieology a visit today!

Where We Stayed

For our holiday weekend, we stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis St. Charles. It’s fun meets convenient! TripAdvisor lists the Drury as excellent, and it’s not hard to see why with amazing amenities to make your stay comfortable and completely stress-free.  This hotel is modern and new and is the only Drury with a mini convenience store

Drury St Charles

The boys loved the indoor/outdoor pool, and I loved hitting the jacuzzi after a long day spent out in the cold. But what was definitely an added bonus was our suite. Comfortable and roomy, the suite had a private bedroom separated by a door so the kids go could go to bed early and I can stay up binge watching Christmas movies.

Drury indoor outdoor pool

The free, hot (and delicious) breakfast the Drury features is sure to please even the pickiest eater in the family. With biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, Belgian waffles, sausage, fresh fruit, coffee and more, it’s the perfect way to start your day before heading into town.

Drury hot breakfast

In addition to the breakfast, what really sets the Drury apart from other hotels is their free “Kickback” hour. Yep, free food and drinks! Starting every day at 5:30 and running to 7, the hotel offers 3 free drinks per adult and yummy “snacks.” The snacks include chili, baked potato, hot dogs, and nachos as well as their main dish of the night which varies from chicken, tacos, or pasta. It’s perfect for kids (and adults) who want a little bit of everything without the formal setting or expenses of a sit-down restaurant.

Drury kickback hour

This hotel is just minutes from downtown St. Charles and is walking distance to the free trolley service that shuttles you into town for all of the holiday events. (No parking hassles-yeah)

So gear up for the holidays and create some long-lasting memories by visiting all the festivities in St. Charles! It’s a close to home holiday adventure, perfect for your family this Christmas.  We have posted more of our favorite St Louis metro holiday traditions here.  

If you are in St Charles check out my adult Ameristar staycation post too.

Have you been before?  Tell me your favorite Christmas tradition.

**  Thank you to all the businesses we partnered with to bring you this story.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As a lifestyle blogger, it’s my job to stay up to date with what’s happening in my hometown so that I can recommend my favorite local events and businesses with all of you! That’s why I use xplor which connects me with the best of the best. With xplor, I’m the first to know about St. Louis’ hottest events, trendiest restaurants, and coolest shops and boutiques.

What is xplor?

xplor is an evolution from the founder’s previous company, kidzxplor which you may have heard of or used in the past. Their new business model focuses on promoting and producing unique events for brands and organizations and connecting insiders to these inspiring experiences. Think outside of the box events. xplor is a great way to get involved in your community and find new and exciting ways to spend time with family and friends. For busy moms, it’s a godsend. For bloggers, it’s especially useful when looking for events not easily found. It also provides an opportunity to meet and connect with local business owners at VIP functions for collaboration and sponsorship opportunities.

The Hookup

xplor also offers a feature called the VIP Hookup, a membership program that offers savings on various products and services found in St. Louis Insiders receive discounts on kid’s activities, restaurants, bars, salons, and fitness facilities. A paid membership includes a year’s subscription to St. Louis Magazine, a $250 gift card to David Kodner Jewelers, a head-to-toe makeover at Saks Fifth Avenue (umm..yes, please), 2 weeks of free classes at Shred415, event swag, and VIP perks at all events including priority check-ins and first-to-know ticket sales and discounts.

Perfect for the busy mom on the go

One of the best things about xplor is just how convenient it is to have a service that helps you find fun activities to do with your entire family without searching around obscure event calendars online. I’m always in the know which I love and no risk of FOMO!

Upcoming Events Hosted by xplor

I am SO excited for some of xplor’s upcoming holiday themed events. Fun photos to come. Make sure to mark your calendars for these exciting happenings!

Breakfast with Santa at Saks Fifth Avenue – Dec. 8th 10 AM – 12 PM

Mercy Holiday Celebration with the St. Louis Symphony – Dec. 21st 2 PM (Matinee), Dec. 21st 7:30 PM, Dec. 22nd 7:30pm

Winter Break Rockin’ Tots Breakfast – Dec. 26th 9 AM

Winter Break Rockin’ Jump Pizza Party – Dec. 26th 3 PM

The Ultimate holiday events for kids in St. Louis

The Garden Glow, Botanical Gardens

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” at the Missouri Botanical Gardens! This year, create some new family traditions at “Garden Glow,” which runs from November 17th to January 1st, and is a perfect way to see the beautiful gardens in a new light…over one million lights to be exact!

This year the boys and I met up with some friends to walk around the botanical garden and take in all of the beautiful lights and displays, sip some holiday drinks, listen to some music and get some always appreciated fresh air and exercise. New to the event this year is a huge 24-foot pixelated tree and flower xylophones kids can play that change color with the beat. 

Garden Glow Garden GlowYou can also step inside a huge snow globe and have a visit with Santa, who comes to the garden Monday to Thursday nights.

Garden Glow snow globe

Garden Glow Garden Glow

If your kids are a little nervous around Santa they have a book they can write their wish in.  It looks like Logan is wishing for a hamster this year.  (OMG) 

Garden Glow Garden Glow

Garden Glow is mostly outdoors, so make sure to bundle up if the forecast is chilly! The walk itself is only around a mile, so it’s perfect for kids who tire out easily. The event also allows strollers and wagons for moms with littler ones in tow.  (I was wishing I had this after Mason started whining his legs hurt).   

This year, the general admission also includes the Gardenland Express Holiday Flower and Train show, which features G-scale trains of all different styles weaving around holiday landscapes and thousands of fresh plants and flowers. “Garden Glow” also features family night every Wednesday from November 21st to December 12th, where tickets for the kids are only $3!  

Garden Glow Garden Glow

If you need to warm up check out the Victorian Christmas at the Tower Grove House with our admission. All decked out in Victorian style with plant decorations, Henry Shaw’s country home was a beautiful addition to our night.

We all had such a fun time at “Garden Glow” this year, strolling around to see the light displays and spending some much needed time outdoors. If you’re looking for a fun new tradition to add to your holidays, make this your next family night out!

Garden Glow

Christmas Traditions, St Charles

The St. Charles Christmas Traditions filled with all sorts of fun events such as parades, caroling, Christmas characters, and card collecting and more!

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After we got all settled and checked into the Drury, we decided to take the trolley that night into the downtown area to catch some fun holiday festivities. We used the Ride Saint Charles app to find out the trolley route and times which show you when the trolley will be in your area. It was free and best of all we didn’t have to park.

When we got onto Main Street in the downtown area, I felt like I had stepped straight into a Hallmark Christmas movie! Everything was so festive and jolly, with carolers, music, lights, decorations and even Christmas characters. They had Santas and Magical Legends of Christmas, who were in character all over Main Street. They give you a brief background of who they are, and even carry around cards with their name and a little picture of themselves, with a description on the back so you can remember them! Some of them were jokesters and others seemed to take a page straight from Ebenezer Scrooge himself. My boys got really into meeting and talking to all of them, especially the Christmas Angel who was Logan’s favorite.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

Another great event that everyone from 1 to 92 will get a kick out of is the Santa Parade! Every Saturday and Sunday during the festival, the Santa Parade rolls on down Main Street with music, floats, and even international Santas. The grand finale features Santa and Mrs. Claus riding in their horse-drawn carriage. The Ice Block Party is also a fun way to end the day with a bang. It starts every Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After strolling around for a bit, we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets to take in all the holiday cheer.

The horse-drawn carriages are parked along the street.  You can take a short or long ride and they are equipped with cozy blankets to keep you warm.  We could not resist this cute horse.  I mean look at the glitter hoofs.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

St Charles Christmas Traditions

To see our entire St Charles staycation holiday post check it out here.

The Polar Express

All aboard the Polar Express! This holiday season, spend a festive night with your family riding St. Louis Union Station’s very own Polar Express. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit with Christmas carols, hot cocoa, yummy treats, a reading of Polar Express, and even a visit from Kris Kringle himself! Kids and adults can wear pajamas if they would like, but don’t sweat it if you don’t want to. The dress code isn’t a big deal! All in all, we had the best time and my kids loved every minute of it.

Polar Express

We booked our tickets for the train ride through Xplorcity.com under their events tab. When we arrived, we parked near the main entrance, which is across from where the old Hard Rock Café was located. There we picked up our tickets and our wristbands and were ushered to a tent area to wait for the train. They tell you to arrive at least an hour before your train departs, but don’t worry because there are plenty of fun little activities for the kids. Coloring pages, build a bear, and cute photo opportunities are just some of the things we enjoyed while waiting. There aren’t a ton of bathroom options so make sure the kids make use of the deluxe porta-potty before boarding the train!

When it was time to board, we were lined up according to what car we booked as they put on a little production. Then, we climbed aboard and found colossal sized cookies waiting in each of our assigned seats! My kids were so excited to eat them. And no cookie is complete without a cup of delicious hot cocoa which was then served to everyone as the train left the station. Just like the book, chef characters came out to greet us to make sure everyone got a cup. It was great because the hot cocoa was the perfect temperature for the kids so they didn’t burn their mouths.

Polar Express

After they came around and punched our tickets just like the story, the characters read aloud the The Polar Express and walked up and down the aisles with large books so the kids could see the illustrations. And before we knew it, we were at the “North Pole!” Outside we saw a fun little light display and then Santa himself!

You don’t get off at the “North Pole” stop, but that doesn’t mean a certain someone doesn’t get on. Santa Claus came aboard the train and made his way around to every kid to give them a little gift (as well as making sure everyone was on the nice list). He asked Mason if he was eating all his vegetables and Logan if he was picking up all his toys! The kids went nuts seeing Santa, and it also reminded them to get their act together in time for Christmas presents!

Polar Express

I highly recommend The Polar Express Train Ride to anyone wanting to experience a little Christmas magic this year. My kids were dancing in the aisles, screaming for Santa, and fa-la-la-ing the whole ride! It’s a perfect way to switch into Christmas time mode for the whole family.  Stay tuned for St Louis event holiday updates.  

**Thank you Xplor for hosting us at this fun event.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Grinch at Stifel Theatre

The holidays are such a special time, they’re filled with family + friends and traditions both new + old. One of my favorite traditions is celebrating Friendsgiving. It’s a perfect celebration to recognize the amazing friendships that I have developed in the wonderful community I am part of.

Speaking of a wonderful community… this Friendsgiving was even more special because it was put together to raise money for my son’s school. Me and a few of my mom friends thought it would be fun to host a Trader Joe’s holiday tasting party.

Friends-giving hostesses

As a mom, it can be hard to have a life aside from your kids. Too many times we don’t take the time out to do what makes us happy. This holiday season, be thankful for your family and the friends you meet that become family. Take time out for yourself and celebrate as we did!

We all got together this past Sunday and had an amazing time. We gathered some of Trader Joe’s tastiest items and paired them for an effortless holiday get together.

Friends-giving

Entertaining Made Easy

Trader Joe’s helps take the stress out of the holidays with delectable dishes that are easy to prep. The last thing you want to worry about during the holidays is making recipes with 342 steps. It is possible to serve mouth-watering food without the stress of making every single thing from scratch. Here’s how we did it…    

We started off with a few appetizers and snacks because a party isn’t a party without them.

  • Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips–  All the flavors of Thanksgiving mixed into a potato chip. It sounds strange, but they’re actually pretty good.
  • Cranberry Goat’s Milk Cheese with Scalloped Cracker Trio– An unexpected combination of fruit and cheese, but it was reminiscent of classic holiday flavors. We spread the cheese onto the Scalloped Crackers and it was so delicious.
  • Carrot Cake Spread All I have to say is you’ve got to try this out. It’s like carrot cake in a jar. I was skeptical at first, but boy was I wrong. We poured it on top of cream cheese and spread it on crackers and it was the perfect pairing of savory and sweet.
  • Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips with Fall Harvest Salsa–  We said so long to the classic chips + dip appetizer and said hello to these. The sweet potato tortilla chip was slightly sweet, but it was balanced with the spicy kick of the salsa.

Appetizers

Next, we brought out the main and side dishes.

  • Turkey & Stuffing EN CROUTE– What’s a Friendsgiving without Turkey. Trader Joe’s took a classic and made it casual with this ready to cook item. It’s actually a turkey tenderloin wrapped in cornbread stuffing and puff pastry. We can’t forget the gravy and cranberry sauce, both iconic holiday sides.  This was AMAZING!  

Turkey & Stuffing EN CROUTE

  • Harvest Blend Salad– This salad screams fall, it comes with kale, pumpkin seeds, cornbread croutons, and pumpkin vinaigrette… even pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, or dried cranberries would be a tasty addition to this. I’m a huge fan of jazzing up a bagged salad because it’s super simple. You could even make it a meal by adding in a protein like grilled chicken.

Harvest Blend Salad

  • Holiday Herb RollsThe smell of the herbs brought me back to when I was a little girl watching my family cook holiday dinners. These taste great by themselves but are even better when paired with a roasted garlic and herb butter spread.  

Holiday Herb Rolls

  • Green Bean Casserole– It can’t be the holidays without a green bean casserole. This is another ready to cook item that comes as a saute kit with all of the ingredients included. It comes with almonds, fried onion pieces, and a mushroom sauce.  

Green bean saute

  • Sweet Potatoes with PecansWho doesn’t think of sweet potatoes when they think of Thanksgiving? This was super yummy and tasted like it was a dessert. Nicole whipped this up from The Spruce Eats and it was a crowd fav!!  

Sweet potatoes

  • Cranberry Orange SauceStill eating cranberry sauce from a can? If so you need to give this sauce a try. It’s got that classic cranberry tart flavor paired perfectly with oranges.

And we can’t forget about dessert.

  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Bar– I didn’t know that Pecan pie could get any better. These bars are layered with rich chocolate and pecans atop a buttery tart shell.  YUMMMM!!!
  • Chocolate Mousse Pumpkins– These adorable chocolate mini cakes were shaped like pumpkins and layered with silky decadent mousse. They were a hit!   

Dessert

Throughout the evening we paired our food with hard cider, wine, and water.

  • Newton’s Folly Barrel Select Semi-Dry Cider- Made using bittersweet apples to deliver a cider that is not too sweet, this cider pairs well with savory meals
  • Shaw Pinot Noir– The perfect dinner party red wine made with organic grapes
  • Shaw Chardonnay– With notes of fruit and oak this white wine pairs well with the goat cheese appetizer we had as well as lighter dishes.
  • Apple Cinnamon Infused Water– I sliced apples and added cinnamon sticks to a vat of water to sit overnight for a festive fall flavor.   

Hard Apple Cider

Friendsgiving Decor

I was able to get all of the decor from Traders Joe’s… it’s the perfect one-stop shop for your party needs. I love getting their fresh flowers, boxed arrangements, and pumpkins and layering different textures on the table for a natural look. They also have beautiful pre-made arrangements that give the same festive feel that you can grab if you don’t have the time to put together your own or if you are bringing flowers to a party.

Table settings

Flowers

Reflecting on What We are Thankful For

I surprised the girls with one of my family’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions. I ordered white paper lanterns and had everyone write what they were thankful for on them then we sent them off into the starry night. It’s always so magical to see the lanterns floating through the sky and such a fun way to reflect on what’s important to us.

paper lanterns

Lanterns

Speaking of being thankful… at the end of the night, each guest walked away with a Friendsgiving Goodie Bag. I am truly thankful for the local businesses who donated items. I wanted to give a huge shout out to:

 

Goodie bags

So Much More Than Food

Friendsgiving is so much more than food. It’s a time to truly reflect on what we have and celebrate the friends and family that make the holidays so special. And Trader Joe’s has what you need no matter if you’re hosting a traditional get-together or a more casual one. Our Friendsgiving was super easy to host and I spent all of the time I saved, not prepping the food, chatting it up with my guests and making memories!   

For more entertaining ideas check out:  Brunch, Swag Bag Party, Scavenger Hunt

 

What are you taking to your family Thanksgiving celebration?

 

This post is sponsored by Fisher-Price. All opinions are my own. #RocktopusWalmart

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Have you thought about holiday shopping for your kiddos yet? November is here and it’s never too early to find the perfect gift. The Think and Learn Rocktopus from Fisher-Price is the perfect learning game that combines music and brain games for hours of educational fun. There are 15 different instruments and has three modes: math, music, and games.

The Roctopus Makes Math and Music Fun

I can’t recommend this toy highly enough! My younger son, Mason loves music and this is such a great way for him to experiment with different rhythms and sounds. It’s also a fun way to introduce your children to math and strengthen their problem solving skills. I don’t think there are enough toys out there that do this in a way that’s truly enjoyable for little kids with short attention spans. It provides hours of entertainment – a good, hands-on alternative to a educational TV show.

Who Would Love this Toy?

The Rocktopus is especially great for little music lovers ages 3-6. While it’s a great introductory method to math and music, it still provides a fun challenge for the five and six year olds.

The rockin’ Roctopus is a great gift for the little Mozart who enjoys creating patterns, solving problems and composing their own music. Who else is taking the Rocktopus home this holiday season?  Run to Walmart to pick one up.

 

 

I am so excited to share some insider tips on all things STL! As many of you know, I love to get out and about and explore my native St. Louis and I believe you can have a blast in your own backyard. You don’t have to stray far from the Lou to find adventure.

Recently I took the boys for a St Louis staycation.   I want to share with you all the inside scoop on what to do with your kids for a fun St. Louis trip. This is a roundup of sorts. From fairytale carriage rides to rooftop cocktails by the Arch, there’s really something for everyone to enjoy in this awesome city! Here are a few of my favorite spots and activities.

Getaway near the Gateway

For our recent weekend trip downtown, we stayed in the Drury Inn and Suites situated in the heart of St. Louis. TripAdvisor named Drury as the number one hotel downtown and it’s easy to see why! Only steps away from the Gateway Arch grounds, this hotel is the perfect place to stay with family when you’re looking to plan a little getaway that offers both convenience, history and value. The Drury attracts both locals and tourists for its many unbeatable amenities. It’s in a great location for going to a Blues or Cardinals game, attending a show downtown, or simply for taking in the sites. With a recent historic renovation, Drury Inn and Suites offers a few unique architectural touches that make you feel as if you were on a luxurious vacation. For the best view in town, simply take the elevator up to the 8th floor to their new observation terrace where you can enjoy a glass of wine from the daily kickback hour and take in the sites.  Location!  Location!  Location!  

Historic Drury showing arch proximity

Speaking of wine, what really sets Drury apart from other hotels in the area is their amazing dining options. From 5:30-7pm, enjoy Drury’s Kick Back Hour with 3 free drinks (yes 3 per adult) and “snacks.” These “snacks” include chili, salad, loaded baked potatoes, hot dogs, nachos and their main dish of the night which is chicken, tacos or pasta. This is perfect for traveling with kids who aren’t great at sitting still in restaurants for too long. Just grab your food and dine in style in their elegant dining space or head to the terrace.

Drury terrace kickbackIn the morning before a big day of sightseeing, start your day off right with a healthy and delicious breakfast downstairs. At Drury, you don’t have to worry about mediocre continental breakfasts. This truly is the breakfast of champions with a massive variety of options. Indulge your sweet tooth with a stack of fresh pancakes or fuel up on something hearty likes eggs and potatoes. We made our own waffles and I enjoyed some oatmeal and yogurt with a cup of freshly brewed Kelso Bros coffee.

Drury also has a state of the art fitness center to work off those pancakes. 😉 You don’t have to miss your daily workouts while traveling.

 

If you want to save 15% off your next Drury hotel stay use the code:  HAPPY at checkout.

STL must-see sights

The St Louis Arch

Now, I’m sure if you’ve lived in St. Louis for long enough, you’ve probably been to the Arch at least more than once, but you may not be aware of some of their new and improved features.

Arch museum

Their recently renovated high-tech museum is filled with rich Lewis and Clark history and has lots of interactive, educational exhibits for kids. It’s a great place to learn the story of the Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and rebels who made America possible. They also offer private tours which is definitely something to try if you haven’t already.

The tram ride itself takes about 4 minutes to the top and 3 minutes down.

Arch to the top

Tips to know before you go:  The best way to buy tickets is online at http://www.gatewayarch.com/buytickets. Tram rides sell out early and often, so online is the best option for purchasing.

Be prepared to go through security.

For a discount, check out the coupon here

 

The Riverboats

The St. Louis Riverboats are a great way to sightsee in a relaxing setting. It offers spectacular views of the Arch, Old Courthouse, and city skyline from the Mississippi on a replica 19th-century paddle-wheel boat. You can travel day or night.

St Louis Carriage Company

This was definitely a favorite activity with my boys, Logan and Mason! We cruised the streets of downtown in a cozy carriage led by our magnificent horse, Jett! Check him out on Facebook…he’s pretty awesome.

Drury and carriage

We made advance reservations and were picked up right outside our hotel. It was so convenient! It was a chillier day, so we were given cozy blankets upon arrival. Logan asked if he could sit up with our driver, Gina who was super friendly. She even let him take the reins for a bit!  #wesurvived lol.  

This is such a fun way to explore downtown and your kids will absolutely love it. Keep this in mind for date night too. It’s a romantic and charming way to see the sights.

Tip: You can request the Cinderella carriage too.

 Brookdale Farms

You can spend the day at Brookdale Farms.  They have events year round.  We love going in the Fall.  You buy a wristband that gets you unlimited access to the corn maze, bounce houses, hayride, kids zip line and play area, pumpkin patch, animals and more.  For an additional fee, you kids can slingshot pumpkins or do Logan’s favorite the Pumpkin chunkin!

Brookdale Farms

During the summer months, you can take a float trip or reserve a private hayride and bonfire for up to 20 people year round.

Brookdale Farms is also the home for the lantern fest along with rodeos, light shows, a balloon glow and so much more.

Mom tip:  Have your kiddos wear their old shoes so they can run free on the farm.

Brookdale pumpkins

City Museum,

If you have limited time in St. Louis, add this to the top of your list! This is a MUST for kids. This is no boring museum. The entire place is made of recycled materials including the gigantic bus on the rooftop — it’s the ultimate playground. Your kids will be begging you to stay. Mason’s favorite was the rooftop Ferris wheel and the bus and Logan’s favorite was the TEN…yes ten story slide.

City museum rooftop

 

Tip: Make sure you establish a meeting space with your kids no matter how old they are. There are so many nooks and crannies in this amazing space, so you will need it just to check in.

What to wear: I’d highly recommend wearing shorts or pants and comfortable shoes. When I took my boys, I had a dress on and flip flops…the worst possible idea because I think I flashed some kids below me on the airplane while climbing up to help Mason!

Parking: I’d recommend parking in the City Museum parking. The cost is $10 and cash only, but it’s worth it.

Children’s Garden and Botanical Gardens

I absolutely love the Botanical Gardens for its natural beauty and outdoor fun for kids. In the garden, kids can learn about plants, nature, and sustainability through hands-on activities. The park is open April-October and in the warmer months, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off in the Splash Area. Make sure in the cooler months to check out the Climatron for a toasty tropical experience.

Mo bot garden climatron

Tips:

-St Louis city and county residents get in free on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. It’s a little more crowded on these days, but it’s worth it!

-There is also an indoor kids area if it gets too hot or cold with interactive things for kids.  

-There are also splash pads during the summer months for kids who love to get in the water.  Come prepared with swimsuits and towels.

Magic House:  

This place is fun from top to bottom. My boys love the 3 story slide and the ball that makes your hair stand up. It’s also great for birthday parties!  

Tip: On the first Friday night of each month, they have family fun nights where you can get in free. For a discount coupon check out the link here

 

Big Joel’s Safari

This place is worth the trip if your kids love animals. My boys got a kick out of riding the camel and feeding the birds. You can buy a stick with peanut butter and the birds will eat it off!

Myseum

Myseum is an indoor play place perfect for rainy/extreme hot or cool days when your kids get restless. The great thing about Myseum is it’s a manageable size place to keep an eye on your kids without wondering where they ran off to. My boys favorite attraction is the Spaceship.

Tips:

-Don’t forget your socks.  Everyone must have socks or you can buy them for $2.00

-You can bring in your own food and drink.  They have an area of tables you can relax while the kids play so stock up on snacks!

Boathouse at Forest Park with paddle boats

The boathouse is a must if you are visiting St Louis. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, paddle boards or kayaks and cruise through the canals of Forest Park seeing the world’s fair museum, all kinds of birds and turtles and end up on the grand basin looking up at the beautiful art museum.  

Tip:  You can get fish and turtle food out of a coin cranked vending machine. This kept my boys entertained while we were waiting for the boats.

St Louis Zoo:  

My kids would go to the zoo every weekend if they could.  This place is a MUST.

Tip:  For parking all the local park on the street outside the zoo.  Even near turtle playground and walk over the highway bridge to save the parking fee.  If you can find Oakland and Tamm avenues, you’ll save some $$ and get to walk across the bridge above the highway.  You can also drive past the South parking entrance and past the stop sign there is free parking on the street but get there early.  

The early bird gets the worm. Tip 2: The zoo opens at 8:00. If you can get there when they open, you can go to the children’s zoo, pet the stingrays and ride the carousel for FREE. These are all typically paid exhibits. This is a hidden gem, so make sure to set your alarm and make the most of the freebies.  This is also for the last hour the zoo is open each day.  

Don’t miss the Tiki Fruiti hut with cored out pineapple with Pineapple whip.  Sooo refreshing. One of the only places besides Disney World that serves this tasty treat.  

Tip: One of our favorite spots to picnic in all of St Louis is Art Hill so after you leave the Zoo I recommend picnicking on Art Hill and you can watch the paddle boats cruise around the grand basin.

 

Eckert’s Family Farm

My family loves going to Eckert’s. It’s across the river in Belleville IL, but totally worth the trip. Our favorite activity is taking the tractor to the fields to pick fruit. Depending on the season, you can pick strawberries, blackberries, peaches, vegetables, flowers, apples, pumpkins and more. They have a massive market where you can buy produce and many other food items already made.

We also LOVE going to the country restaurant.  They serve fried biscuits with fresh apple butter that are off the charts amazing.  They are worth the trip alone!!! (Promise)

Grant’s Farm

This is a must for animal lovers! On the tram ride, you’ll see bison, deer, geese, and ostrich.

Once your at the end, you can walk through animal shows, ride the carousel and feed the baby goats.  You can get a fun pass for your kids: 2 goat bottles or food, carousel ride, and a snow cone for $6.  

The courtyard transports you to a German town center. There are free Anheuser Busch samples at the food and drink pavilion.  I tried the Golden Light and it was perfection.

This attraction offers free admission, but you pay $12 for parking unless you want to park at Gravois and McNary and take a 5-10 minute walk to the entrance. On nice days this is a good option since there’s a lot of traffic waiting to get into the parking lot.

 

St Louis Science Center

The Science Center is fun and educational experience for kids (and adults) of all ages and many of the exhibits are free! We love seeing shows at The Imax Theatre. It’s such a treat. My boys especially love the outdoor Grow exhibit where they can climb in an actual combine, see chickens, and get an idea of what it’s like to milk a cow. Important life skills, people.

My boys also like to walk across the bridge that goes over highway 40.  You can wave at cars below and see how fast they are driving.

Admission is free but some special exhibits have a fee.  In the discovery room, your kids can play and explore in a room full of fun hands-on attractions to keep them entertained. They only allow a limited number of kids in at once and have all sorts of exhibits.

For discounts check out the link here

Laumeier Sculpture Park

This park is an exciting treasure hunt. There are so many interesting sculptures to check out. My family loves the trails and all the interesting gems to see along the way.  

Tip: Print out a map of the trails and a scavenger hunt here

City Garden

This city garden has so many unique and fun sculptures the kiddos can climb on.  My boys loved the waterfalls and walking over the water path…never mind Mason put his foot in the water and completely submerged his foot.  

If you want to get a description of the sculptures and do a fun audio tour, you can get the info here.

St Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium,

At Centerfield, there is a family pavilion for kids 12 and under where they have a massive jungle gym to climb on, a virtual reality game to play, Yadi bobblehead to get some pics with, radar guns, and a soft play area for little kiddos.  

Fred Bird photo ops are in the Family Pavilion from 1st pitch to the bottom of the 2nd.  

The family pavilion also has their own kid meals with milk, apple juice and kid-friendly food that you will not get at other parts of the park, so make sure you get your kids the food at this concession stand if they are picky eaters like my boys.  

Tip: If it’s not a busy game and if you don’t mind sitting separate or if there are only two of you, you can get 1st pitch tickets through the ticket lottery the day of for $5.50 for TWO tickets. This could be fun if you just want to take your kids for the experience but don’t plan on sitting in the seats.

Here’s the scoop:  The ticket window opens at 9:00 am. You buy two tickets for $5.50 and then come back at first pitch and are handed an envelope to see where your seats are.  They can be anywhere in the arena.

For other discount, promotions check out the link here.

The Muny

The Muny is an iconic outdoor theatre in Forest Park that offers amazing Broadway shows from mid-June to mid-August. I love exposing my kids to the arts and The Muny is a pressure-free way as a mom to kids

Tip: You can always picnic around the theatre, bring icy towels to stay cool,

If your not sure how your kids will like it try the free seats first to test it out but bring binoculars.  

Transportation Museum

This museum is super fun if your kids are into all things trains, planes, and automobiles. They even have a little room called Creation Station filled with train tables. You must purchase tickets for this and times fill up fast, it’s best to book ahead.  

My boys love the miniature train outside that lets you ride around the property.  Check out groupon.com for discounts. 

Where to get good grub in the Lou:

Sugarfire at the Boathouse in Forest Park

Fitz’s Root Beer in the Loop

The Fountain on Locust

Bailey’s Range

Dewey’s Pizza

St Louis foods you must try while in St Louis.  

Imo’s St Louis style pizza

Toasted Ravioli

Gooey Butter Cake

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

These are all our favorite spots.  Tell me what you love in St. Louis.
We want to say a huge thanks for all the businesses who partnered with us to bring you this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

XOXO  Sarah~

To see other fun trips with kids check them out here:
Branson Mo
Cape Girardeau, MO
Nashville TN
Gulf Shores AL