Activities

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

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

Soccer, karate, tee-ball, cooking classes, guitar, swimming, gymnastics, dance. If you’re a mom, chances are, your kids have tried one of these activities. The real question though, is did they stick it out?

Little Mason, my younger son mentioned an interest in soccer so, I thought I’d try it out with him. I’ve been a little hesitant to sign Mason up for so many things like I did with Logan, my eldest after Logan refused to participate. In several classes, Logan initially showed interest and then quickly lost the desire to participate so, I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake with Mason while wasting time and money.

I expressed my concern to Vetta Sports after Mason said he wanted to try soccer and they were very understanding. Vetta, unlike other sports places we’ve tried, host an open house in the fall and the spring where kids can participate in a mini session to see if they like it or not. That way, you can gage whether or not it’s a good fit before making a full-time commitment. They also offer a free trial class before you sign up for the season! You can do this at any time of the year. Yeah!!

Mason’s progression with Kickaroos

Mason’s progression with Kickaroos at Vetta Sports has been surprising and fun to witness as a parent. During week 1, as I predicted, Mason did not want participate. With that being said, I was so impressed with the coaches and their patience with him. He was able to stay close to me which made him feel a little more comfortable, and they made sure not to pressure him too much but tried to include him and make the experience as fun as possible. Week 2 was a little better. Mason was a little shy at first, but started to come out of his shell near the end. He wanted to carry around a toy with him and the coaches were completely accommodating. Mason had a breakthrough during weeks 3 and 4 and actually wore his Kickaroos jersey and participated without any hesitation. He was having a blast and was a completely different kid from where he started. By the end, he had a big proud smile on his face and finished practice with energy and eagerness.

Little boy learning soccer
Mason’s first week. As you can see, he’s being a little shy.
Funny soccer coach teaches kids
Mason was able to warm up to the coaches early on. It’s easy to see why!
Little boy playing soccer
This is week 4 Mason sporting his Kickaroos jersey!
Little boy in soccer practice
Here’s Mason with a big proud smile on his face after finishing practice and receiving his special stamp!

Building confidence

This program really builds Mason’s confidence which is more important to me than whether or not he ends up a star soccer player. When it comes to deciding which activities should be priority for our kids, it’s important to pay attention to their growth and progression and listen carefully to their feedback. It’s not really about whether or not your child excels from the get-go. There may be times when something just fits so naturally with their talents and interests, but most of the time it’s a gamble with younger kids. Encouraging them to stick with it no matter what is also important. They may not remember how to dribble a ball or make a perfect pass in their adult lives, but the perseverance and confidence building skills are going to make a lasting impression.

Focus on the joy

As a mom, I think it’s important to focus less on obligation and more on the joy of the activity. Vetta is great at this. Every single one of the coaches were so sweet and so patient with Mason’s progression. He was introduced to the sport in a way that was comfortable for him. So, rather than associating negative feelings about the sport, he was able to embrace it at his own pace.

Kids soccer practice

Kids soccer practice

Kickaroos is an active and simple introduction to sports that allows kids to discover soccer in a pressure-free environment. The program offers sessions for tots at 18 months all the way up to six year olds. There are kids of all different levels building both their soccer and social skills and it’s a fun way for your kids to make new friends. I also love Vetta’s unique approach to teaching the sport. The Kickaroos program makes learning fun. It’s child centered by putting instruction into a context kids can actually understand. And it’s not just about developing them into soccer masters. While the fundamentals of soccer are introduced, Kickaroos helps develop social and cognitive skills that are important both on and off the field. I am a 100% behind this approach!

If you’re interested in checking out a Kickaroos soccer class, visit their website for more information on each program here. Signing Mason up was a big win in my book!

***We are so thankful to partner with Vetta on this blog post but all thought and opinions are my own.  

So, I have this thing with wall murals. I drive around the city during the work day and love stumbling upon big, bright and colorful works of art. There are so many unique murals in St. Louis and it’s always a fun surprise to come across new ones. Here are some of my favorites along with where to find them next time you’re in the city in search of some great street art!

Peacock pianist 

The Grove.  Manchester Avenue St. Louis, MO

St. Louis wall mural in The Grove

Greetings from St Louis

The Garcia Properties building at 3537 Kingshighway St Louis Mo  63139

Greetings from St. Louis wall mural

 

Psychedelic vibes on Cherokee 

STyLe House Cherokee and Compton 3159 Cherokee St. St Louis Mo 63118

Colorful wall mural in St. Louis

This way to antiques

 The Little Shop Around the Corner 4474 Castleman  St Louis Mo 63110

Antiques in St. Louis

 

Color me happy

SOHA Art gallery 4915 Macklind Ave St Louis Mo 63109

Soarin’ in STL

Koho Boutique 5433 Hampton Ave St Louis MO 63109

Nashville wings in St. louis

Little birdie

The intersection of Macklind and Sutherland in SOHA neighborhood. 

A true triumph

In between The moto museum and Triumph Grill. 3441 Olive St. St Louis MO 63103

Pantone perfection

Right by SLU and FOX. Turn right down the alley before getting to The Best Steakhouse 516 N Grand Blvd.  63103

Catch ya later in the Lou!

Lou Realty Group, 4600 Loughborough Ave. 63116

I’ll keep you in the loop

THe Loop.  Delmar Blvd, University City, MO 63130

 

Groovy murals in The Grove

Rad robo

‘Nest’led in the grove

Bird mural in St. Louis

Cute cardinal 

Cardinal mural in the grove

Grab some grub in the groove

Life’s a beach

 

 

 

Life gets busy and it’s easy to get overwhelmed especially now that lazy days by the pool are being replaced with manic mornings getting the kids ready for school. But, for some moms, September is the silent savior they’ve been patiently waiting for. Instead of biting your nails with anxiety like you did in junior high, you now sigh with relief when you hear the words, “back to school.” It’s different for every mom depending on your lifestyle, work, and the age of your kids, but chances are, no matter what situation you’re in, you could use a little time for more self-care.

walking-in-the-forest

Being Mindful

Fall is a great time to practice positive habits and daily rituals that give us the zest for life we crave and deserve. It’s important to stop and be mindful of what’s going on in our day to day and develop an awareness. In order to spend more time doing the things you love and less time being overwhelmed, you have to know what causes unhealthy stress and what makes you feel happy and fulfilled.

A few months ago, I hosted a Mother’s Day fundraiser brunch for first grade moms at my son’s school where we talked about work- life balance and the ongoing juggle struggle between kids and self-care. As part of a fun exercise, I had each mom write a letter to themselves with a summer goal (all self-care related) and I collected them all up to send back at the end of August. I partnered with Gladly Designs to create some pretty note cards the moms could use to jot down their personal goals. This could include anything from restorative yoga to MNO happy hour.

I decided that this summer, I would commit to some “me” time since it is so hard to find time to yourself when the kids are out of school. I made a plan to meet regularly with my health coach, try out a new yoga class (I love the quiet zen time!), float in a float tank, and get at least one facial for some much needed pampering and relaxation.

This exercise was challenging for some of the moms since it had been a while since they had the time to do something for themselves. Moments of downtime for busy moms are few and far between so, it’s tempting to take those rare hours of solitude to get ahead on work and cross off other housekeeping to-do’s. Rarely does float tank session make the list. As summer comes to an end, it’s important to prioritize health and well-being in order to feel restored and revitalized for the beginning of a new season.

Putting the ‘self’ back in self-care

Self-care is word that’s often overused nowadays with it being such a trendy topic on social media. Remember, self-care is about doing what’s right for you. Sometimes self-care can be as simple as quieting your mind for a few minutes with a glass of wine away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve a high-energy fitness activity or stressing out over a complicated vegan recipe you found on Pinterest. For me, journaling is a quick and easy way to find some peace. I like to reflect on my day and write down what I’m grateful for and looking forward to in the coming weeks and months. If your self-care routine ends up feeling more like a chore, it’s not fulfilling its purpose. Find activities that make you feel good!

relaxing spa in STL

Mom to mom: a few self-care routines to add to your autumn bucket list

As a working mom with a hectic schedule, I’m here to suggest some self-care activities that won’t leave you feeling even more exhausted than before you started them! Find some calm in your busy life and embrace Fall with open arms as a new and refreshed you!

yoga blogger

Try a meditation app or podcast

Meditation can do wonders for the brain and soul. It’s no easy task to empty the mind completely, but once you get into a flow, you’ll find just how restorative it can be. Apps like Rituals and Headspace are great for those of us with things to do and places to be. Simply pop in some headphones during your morning walks or even on your commute for a guided, easy to follow stress-free session. For those who struggle with meditation, opt for a new audiobook or binge-worthy, inspirational podcast. I love listening to Goal Digger, How I Built This, and The Influencer Podcast while I’m working out, taking a walk, tidying up the house or driving in the car. For busy bookworms, I recommend Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

Wake up earlier than the kids to do something you love!

I’m not suggesting that you wake up at the crack of dawn to get work done or get in that mile run before the sun comes up. Wake up a little bit earlier so that you have some time to yourself to simply ‘be.’ Sit in bed with some morning coffee, make a delicious breakfast or flip through the pages of St Louis magazines you never have time to read. Take a brisk walk as the weather gets chillier and enjoy the quiet morning calm before the storm.

Take a mini vacay with friends

Now, this one might be a bit harder to do with kids and busy schedules, but I highly recommend doing this at least once a year! Plan a mini solo vacay or getaway with friends over a weekend where you can decompress and indulge in a little R&R. It can also be incredibly empowering to go solo and do things your own way. You call the shots, you create the itinerary. You don’t have to travel too far either! Make it a staycation by staying local. Plan a spa weekend, an outdoor adventure or simply a couple nights in nice hotel with room service and a kid-free evening to enjoy a Netflix binge-a-thon. I recently took a little weekend trip to Ameristar with one of my girlfriends where we lounged by their luxurious pool and relaxed at the spa.

float tank #selfcare #spa

Try something new

I always look forward to new things I have not experienced before! Experiencing new things is a major thrill for me. Try something unique and unforgettable like a trapeze exercise class, sipping on a new drink from a coffee shop you’ve never been to or detoxing in an infrared sauna.

In a world where we’re always “on”, it can be difficult to slow down and just breathe. Add kids, work and other adult responsibilities to the mix and we’re left with very little time to focus on ourselves, but holding yourself accountable and making a real commitment to self-care will prove worth it in the long run. What commitments will you make this Fall?

 

Staying accountable to self-care over the summer.

Hey ladies.  I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation after being with my boys non-stop for 10 days.  We had so much fun but I’m exhausted.  Since a vacation is not possible my goal this week is all about self-care.  Can anyone relate?

Beach Vacay, Gulf Shores

A few weeks back I co-hosted a brunch for some other 1st-grade mom friends.  I wanted to have an activity that encouraged these moms to engage in a little self-care over the summer. As hectic as mom life is all year ‘round, somehow the summer months always seem to be the most frantic of all. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re suddenly tasked with entertaining your school-aged kids all day, every day—no easy task! And if you’re a working mom, it’s a challenge; I literally made a spreadsheet of what camps Logan will be at each week. You’ve got to schedule camps, sitters, and activities to fill all those hours your kids used to be in school while you’re at work so they are not plugged into the TV all day!

Gladly designs

With all that madness going on, it’s so easy to put ourselves last. Many of us can’t remember the last time we took five minutes to decompress and just, well, think our thoughts. With that in mind, I partnered with Gladly Designs to create a stack of beautiful note cards for my event. Then, at the brunch, I handed a card to each mom and asked her to write down at least one personal goal she wanted to complete over the summer or a self-care task that she’d like to accomplish. Maybe that’s meeting up for a summer MNO happy hour, going to yoga, or getting a pedicure; whatever their goal was, I asked the moms to write it on their card, address it to themselves.

Gladly designs

Gladly designs

The activity was a challenge for some and fun for others.  I loved hearing what they are willing to commit to doing for themselves. At the end of the summer, I’ll mail each of the moms her card so she’ll get a chance to check in with herself and see if she completed her task. I can only hope that they all do.

My question for you is:  What self-care do you want to commit to doing for yourself this summer?  You deserve it.  Here are a few of mine:

Meet with my health coach
Try a new yoga class
Float in a float tank
Get a facial

Thank you to Gladly designs for partnering on this activity.  To see all her amazing design work check out the Etsy shop here and be sure to sign up for a discount coupon on your first order.

Below are a few things she designed for the party and if you missed the brunch details check them out here.

Gladly Designs

Gladly Designs

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Mom’s night out, Fashion talk

After the selfie scavenger hunt we went to the bistro at Nordstrom for a special spring trends presentation by Amber Kemp, the Nordstrom personal stylist.

Amber discussed two topics:

  • Spring trends and pieces to add to your wardrobe
  • A wardrobe staple checklist everyone should invest in.

Amber Kemp Nordstrom personal stylist

If you have not shopped with Amber, you’re missing out.  Her services at Nordstrom are totally free.  She’s a major time-saver because when you work with her she’ll find out what you’re looking for ahead of time, and have everything ready for you in the fitting room.

If you love to shop (but don’t have the time), hate shopping or need help putting outfits together…Amber is your girl.  I’d highly suggest booking an appointment.  She assists people shopping for:

  • Special events
  • Weddings,
  • Finding seasonal updates,
  • Entire wardrobe overhauls
  • Work Trips
  • Vacations
  • Even help to find the perfect pair of denim.

You can even bring in pieces from home you don’t know how to wear, and she’ll help you.  If you’re in the St Louis area, just call her to schedule an appointment:  (314) 452-6589.  Or you can reach her via email: Amber.R.Kemp@nordstrom.com

Amber talked about runway trends for spring that can be turned into wearable pieces for busy on-the-go moms.  When added to a wardrobe, these items make for some fresh updates.  In addition, she shared a short list of wardrobe staples everyone should invest in.

Here’s what’s hot for spring:

  1.  Monochromatic- wearing the same color head-to-toe (all white, all black or all denim), and accessorizing with color.
  2. Pattern mixing- mixing up florals, gingham plaids, and stripes.
  3. A dramatic sleeve
  4. Sheer pieces

My favorite spring trends

 

Staple wardrobe pieces everyone should have:

  1. Classic blazer- perfect for work with a skirt or weekends with distressed jeans and pumps.
  2. White T-shirt- fitted so you can layer or a loose one if wearing alone.
  3. White jeans- lighter wash denim for spring, (try different pairs on to get a good fit and thickness).
  4. Long sleeve basic reversible t-shirt
  5. Bermuda shorts- substitute for what you would wear pants with.  Also try with pumps in summer, or with a blazer.
  6. Denim jacket- always good to have both a fitted and loose one, depending on what you’re wearing.

Here are some of my favorite wardrobe staples here:

While Amber was updating us on spring trends and wardrobe staples we were sipping wine and indulging with our Bissingers gummy pandas. A big thank you to Nordstrom and Amber for orchestrating a fantastic talk and for the beauty bag and for Bissinger’s spoiling us with amazing sweet treats.

Nordstrom spring trends

Nordstrom spring trends

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The winner of the selfie scavenger hunt were these two teams.  Congratulations ladies!  You win Nordstrom gift cards to do some shopping and Bissinger’s truffles.  Enjoy.

Nordstrom spring trends

Selfie Scavenger Hunt

What a fun night.  I had so much fun meeting you all.  What was your favorite part of the night?  Who is ready for another Mom’s night out?

A big thanks to Amber Kemp for putting together an amazing presentation and our sponsors Nordstrom and Bissinger’s.  I appreciate your generosity.   All thoughts are my own.  XOXO

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Happy New Year.

Each year in January I like to do what I call “Sarah’s Life Edit”.  I try to edit and declutter all aspects of my life:  finances, kitchen, closets, kids stuff, etc.

I like to start with finances since coming from December where there was an excess of spending, parties taxes due, tuition, etc.  So here are some simple ways I edit my finances in January.

Finances:
1.  Cash only in January.   I make saving a game with myself.  I take 1/4 of my normal variable expenses out in cash and this forces me to get creative, plan ahead and be resourceful.

2.  Print a calendar and write down expenses each day.  If you know ahead of time pre-track your expenses.  I like to use the calendar as a visual and challenge myself to stick to my budget.  Add up all your expenses at the end of the week to make sure you’re on track.

3.  Gather all unused gift cards.  Separate into categories:  Retail, Restaurants, and Entertainment.  Plan shopping dinners out and activities around your gift cards.

4.  See if your credit cards have cash back rewards programs.  My credit card gives you an additional 50% bonus if you get the cash bonus deposited back into your account.  No Brainer!

5.  Sign your kids up for a kids club checking account (First Community Credit Union-has one my boys love).  My boys got some money for Christmas and when they deposit up to $250 a year they get a $10 gift card.

 

 

Dierbergs Holiday Appetizers and Cocktails Class

I’m always looking for new and fun experiences.  So when Dierbergs invited me to one of their “pop up” cooking classes, I was thrilled.  This particular class was for holiday appetizers and cocktails, which is right down my alley.  I’ve been to some classes recently for a girls-night-out and work team-building activity, and each time picked up something new.  

Dierbergs offers some of their more popular classes as “pop up”, or last minute, so make sure you follow them on social media.  Their Instagram handle is @Dierbergs, or sign up for their newsletter here so you don’t miss anything.  They do fill up quickly.  

If you’re looking for a unique gift for someone celebrating an anniversary or birthday, these classes would be something interactive and fun.

Dierbergs holiday appetizer and jim beam cocktail class

Here was the menu:  

  • Seared Tuna Skewers and Spicy Avocado Cream & Pickled Cucumber
  • Sun-dried Tomato & Mozzarella Bread Sticks with Olive Caper Cream
  • Candied Bacon Cornbread bits glazed with Sweet Tomato Jam
  • Chocolate Caramel Mousse Cups with Candied Pecans

This class was a demonstration with Chef Christie Maggi.  In demonstration classes, you get to sit back and relax while the chef does all the work.  

What we ate:
While Chef Christie was starting to cook, she passed around a couple of apps from the store for us to sample.  We had a festive olive and salami tray along with a cranberry pecan torte you can pick up from the deli, which makes for a quick party-pleaser.  

Salami and olive tray

torteRecipes and a couple tips Chef discussed.

Seared Tuna Skewers and Spicy Avocado Cream & Pickled Cucumber

This was my favorite appetizer of the night.  Chef Christie had a great tip about working with food on skewers.  Instead of soaking the food on the skewers, she recommended cooking the tuna first, then add the skewer after.  This prevents the skewers from burning and falling apart. 

Seared tuna skewers

Avocado substitution option: if the avocados you were planning on using aren’t ripe, you can substitute with Wholly Guacamole.  

Lemongrass substitution option: use lemongrass puree in the squeeze tube.  

Candied Bacon Cornbread Bits glazed with sweet tomato onion jam

Candied bacon cornbread bits glazed with sweet tomato onion jam

Sarah’s Scoop: These would be great served at a brunch or holiday appetizer party.  The tomato jam is what transforms this from good into an amazing item!


Sun-dried tomato & mozzarella breadsticks with olive caper cream

Sun-dried Tomato & Mozzarella Bread Sticks with Olive Caper Cream

sun-dried tomato breadsticks

Sarah’s Scoop:  If you don’t want to make the dough from scratch, Dierbergs sells pre-made pizza dough in the same aisle where fresh pasta is made.

Chocolate Caramel Mousse Cups with Candied Pecans

Filo cups are very versatile, so pick some up in the deli department.  I love using them for holiday appetizers too (see how I did for my holiday appetizer party here) but using them for desserts is equally delicious.  

Chocolate caramel mousse cups with candied pecans

Chef’s Tip:  This mousse can be made a day or two ahead of time.  A snazzy serving option is putting them in a shot glass with berries on top, or use a martini glass for a larger portion.  

Chocolate caramel mousse cups with candied pecans

 Jim Beam Cocktails

Jim Beam Side Car

Here’s what Stephen, the Jim Beam rep, made for us to sample.

  1. Moscow Mule
  2. Sidecar
  3. Manhattan
  4. Penicillin
  5. Maker’s neat

Up until this point, I hadn’t drank any whiskey since I was in college, so I didn’t know what to expect.  The Moscow Mule is definitely something I would serve at one of my own parties for my girlfriends.  My friend Jana recently served it at her house, and she threw in some cranberry to make it festive for the holidays.  These drinks ranged from light whiskey taste too very strong.  Penicillin and Maker’s Neat are more for whiskey lovers that enjoy the taste.  There were several whiskey enthusiasts in the class, that really enjoyed these cocktails.  The cocktail size was quite large, more than just a sip, so you really got to enjoy it.

This class truly had something for everyone, including dessert.  So, do you prefer to savor a rich decadent chocolate mousse or sip on a warm whiskey at the end of your meal?

Maker's neat and chocolate carmel mousse cups with candied pecans

Jim Beam cocktail recipes

Overall this class was a lot of fun, with a lot of pleasant surprises and fun people willing to learn.  Many attendees were celebrating a special occasion or having a fun night with friends. One couple in the class said they were hosting a lot of guests for the holidays, and wanted to gather some ideas.  They love to go shopping right after the class so they picked up the ingredients of the apps and drinks they liked the best.  Very smart.  Thanks to Dierbergs for such a fun experience.  

Did you know Dierbergs has classes for all tastes and preferences?  Even if you are not a cook.   Check out their list of options for January and February here.  Here are some I’d like to attend:

New Year, New You
Make it- Take it Valentine Spa-tacular non-food class.
Friday Night Dine:  Classy Appetizers and Craft Cocktails (super popular)
Gal-entine’s Brunch
Crock Pot or Not (for those who can’t live without their crock pot)
Puppy Love, Parent-Child Kids Class (My boys love helping me in the kitchen)

Dierbergs is so much more than fresh groceries, my boys love it too. 

We thoroughly enjoy their children holiday events.  We recently saw Santa and did fun kid activities around the entire store; such as sampling foods, getting balloons, face painting, and making ornaments.  It was a win-win for everyone.  

Dierbergs Santa fair

Dierbergs Santa Fair

Dierbergs Santa Fair

Also, I hosted a pumpkin beer and treat tasting with friends this past fall, where I picked up some pumpkin beer and snacks for my girlfriends to enjoy.  If you’re looking for a great place to host, but don’t have the time to do it at your place, this is a perfect solution.  They even have live bands every Friday to make for a really festive atmosphere.  Read all about it here.

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