Activities

Mom to Mom-Angela co-creator of Kidzxplor

Angela Sandler

Background of Kidzxplor

Angela Sandler is the Co-Founder/CEO of Kidzxplor– a revolutionary app and web-based membership that connects families with local activity & experience partners. Kidzxplor strives to help kids find their passion by making parents lives a bit easier. Kidzxplor is a subscription-based B2B and B2C partnership that works in tandem with local business owners to manage their activity open inventory and redistribute it via Kidzxplor where consumers can attend a variety of activities, all on one platform. Kidzxplor takes the stress out of the search and discovery of activities- often a daunting task for parents. By utilizing technology, Kidzxplor is a one-stop-shop for all activities kid. Parents can purchase Passes through Kidzxplor on a monthly basis or via a la carte packages. There is never any commitment and flexibility is key.

Angela is a business manager with over 19 years of proven results in brand management, new product development, strategic planning, marketing, and sales. An intuitive marketer with a keen sense of timing to identify and capture emerging market opportunities. Angela started her career at May Department Stores and has worked for a variety of companies launching new brands, and developing existing brands such as Victorinox Swiss Army, Timberland, Carhartt, Jonathan Adler and BMW. Angela was recognized as one of 200 female founder startups selected by Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS, to participate in the 2017 Project Entrepreneur intensive.

Angela was born and raised in St. Louis and attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).  She is married to her husband, Andy, and lives in Creve Coeur with her daughter Joie, and a son, Grant.  In her free time, Angela enjoys spending time with family and friends, running and doing yoga, and traveling wherever and whenever she can.

Kidzxplor currently operates in St. Louis, Missouri and Houston, Texas.

Angela’s goals for Kidzxplor in the balance of 2018 is to continue to grow the events side of the business, network with more businesses, and continue to connect parents to opportunities in their community.

Social handles:

IG: http://www.instagram.com/angela_sandler

FB: http://www.facebook.com/angelawecklsandler

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mrssandler & http://www.twitter.com/kidzxplor

Email: angela@kidzxplor.com

Business Questions

Why/ When was the Kidzxplor app created?  The Kkidzxplor concept was created in September of 2015 on Miami Beach.  Attending a mutual friends 40th birthday celebration, after a walk on the beach complaining about how much we were spending on kids activities and the commitment involved- we felt there had to be a better way.  We were all ClassPass users and felt that the same concept could easily be adapted to kids activities and that the concept made even more sense since kids are finicky and often must try many things before they find their passion.  After the trip- we started the process of developing the technology and then launched to the public in August of 2016.

What is your favorite thing about being a woman-owned business?  The comradery.  I love working with different women business owners as we all really support each other.  We all face struggles in life that men don’t experience- the balancing of both the business, our families & children, running a household, and also trying to keep ourselves happy and healthy.  There is a lot of struggles in finding a balance or happy medium and women understand this.  We all can commiserate and help each other find solutions and support together.

How has your business evolved?   Our business has evolved very much from the beginning.  From the start, we have always been passionate about offering families experiences- and those experiences have now grown to include events, birthday parties, and finding unique experiences you cannot find anywhere else- much more than just taking an art or music class.  Initially, we were 100% focused on the child, and now we are moving towards being more focused on the whole family- mom, dad, and kids.  We also, in the beginning, were very focused on the consumer, but as we have developed- we find that the businesses are also a big part of the equation.  ALL businesses are looking to bring families in their doors – we have found that these businesses include retail, restaurants, services, etc.- much more than just the original kid’s activity providers we started with.

What’s the biggest challenge about creating an app?  The biggest challenge with building an app being a startup is budget.  App’s and tech can be very expensive and as you grow as a company- there are always additional improvements and updates you would like to make to improve the experience, which can be very costly.

What are your favorite mom apps?  I love Apps!  I use so many to help!  My favorites include Blinklist, kidzxplor (of course!), Mind/Body, Apple Music, Venmo, Open Table, Postmates, Shine, and The Skimm.  I don’t know if those are all Mom-App’s- but they sure help me manage my life!

You recently hosted an amazing Mod Mamas event.  How did you get the idea?  Moms today are so busy and rarely have a day to themselves to help nourish their mind, body, and spirit.  Mod Mama’s was created as a one-stop-shop for busy Mama’s to help them experience community, education on key topics for Mama’s, fitness, food, and friends all in one place.  It really was developed out of what we personally felt that we would like and enjoy and how we felt we could bring the best information these Mamas in small bites.

What do you want people to know about Kidzxplor?  Great question!!!  I think there is still a lot of confusion about kidzxplor and what it offered and how it works.  I think the main thing is that its such an incredible savings over retail!  You can pick and choose, on your schedule, what works for you and your child.  You can purchase credits that allow you to drop-in to whichever activities you want – there is no commitment, no membership, and it’s completely flexible to your needs.

Mom Life

Angela Sandler

How do you balance work and family?  I am not sure there is ever a balance- it’s more of an ebb and flow.  Some weeks are busier with families, some weeks are work heavier, some weeks you can breathe.  I do a lot of outsourcing to help.  I want to be having fun and enjoying my children when I am around them- so I try to offload the things I don’t like doing so that when they are home- I can be with them.  I hire someone to do our families laundry so that is taken care of, I order all my groceries online, I use a lot of app’s to have streamline processes, and I use my calendar to schedule everything to make sure that everything has it’s place- particularly exercise so it doesn’t get lost.

What are qualities you try and role model for your kids?  Kindness 100%.  There is never a reason not to be kind.  Thinking positive and looking for the good in most things.  I also really try to make my kids self-reliant.  I don’t do a lot of things for them that they can do themselves and I tend to let them manage their time and their actions- I don’t fight their battles and I look forward to opportunities for them to make mistakes (in reason) so that they can learn from them.

What would you tell your younger self? It’s all going to be OK.

Who inspires you?  I am really inspired by my business coach Erin Joy- and also female entrepreneurs that are making their dreams happen.

The advice you’d give to other working moms?  Take a deep breath- and outsource, outsource, outsource.

Personal

What is your guilty pleasure? Hmmmm… probably alcohol.  Truth.

What do you put in your coffee?  Hazelnut creamer from Trader Joes at home, half and half at coffee shops

Favorite workout?  Shred415 – hands down.

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

Best place in the world you have been?  There’s too many to mention!  Hong Kong, St. Lucia, Bangkok, Venice, Barcelona.

Your bucket list is The Maldives, Phuket, Galapagos’, Canary Islands

 

If you missed the other Mom to Mom check out:

Mom to Mom with Stephanie Pohlman Designs:
Mom to Mom Meet Sarah

 

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Are you planning a Nashville road trip with kids?  I’ve got all the tip and tricks for a successful road trip to Nashville including where to stay, where to eat, and more.

Nashville Road Trip with Kids

This year, we kicked off the boys’ summer break with a trip to Nashville. Nashville is a city close to my heart because I’ve been there on several girls’ weekends. It’s a place I knew my kids would love, so I new we couldn’t go wrong.  What made it even better, was Nashville was on the way to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where we were going for a beach vacation.

Nashville mural

Nashville Road Trip – Kid-friendly Activities

After the four-hour drive from St. Louis, we wasted no time heading straight to one of Nashville’s top attractions for families: the Adventure Science Center. It was a great choice for sure!  After being cooped up in the car for so long, my boys ran from one side of the science center to the other. The science center has a ton of hands-on and interactive activities for kiddos of all ages!

Mason’s favorite thing to do was pretending to drive the ambulance, while Logan was fascinated by the exhibit that allowed him to imagine what it would be like to walk on the moon.

Adventure Science Center

The next day we did the Hop on/Hop off Trolley tour of Nashville. If you choose to do this, here’s a tip: tickets for this are less expensive if you purchase online or over the phone than at the ticket booth.

Trolley Nashville

The first time I saw the trolley on previous visits to Nashville, I was dying to get the boys on it.    I knew they would love it and then we have loads of options to explore.  We boarded the trolley at Downtown Broadway. Our first stop was at the Nashville Farmers Market, where there’s plenty of fresh food for sale. There’s a ton of different food vendors, and we went with a brick-oven pizza, which was delicious!

Nashville Parthenon

Next, we stopped at the Nashville Parthenon, which looks exactly like the Parthenon in Greece. It’s an art museum on the inside, with lots of beautiful grounds on the outside, including a playground and lots of open fields. Finally, we stopped at the Gulch to get pics at the famous wings mural, which is just one of many fun murals in Nashville.

Wings mural

Some other fun kid-friendly ideas that we had on our list but swimming at the Drury indoor/outdoor pool won out :  

Nashville Zoo

Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

The Ryman Tour

Another tip when traveling with kids:  Be flexible.  I had a lot of things planned but ultimately they were begging to swim and Mason fell asleep on the trolley.

Nashville Road Trip – Where We Stayed:  

When it comes to lodging, I’m very particular.  We look for certain amenities that will make the vacation easier for all of us. A hotel breakfast is super important to my kids, and it saves us from having to eat out and spend a lot of money on food the kids may or may not eat. And I like having a separate bedroom with a door, so I’m not forced to go to bed at the same time as the kids. Also, the boys insist on the hotel to have a pool, which is fine by me so they can burn off all their energy.  

I was thrilled to partner with  Drury Plaza Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee, because it was the perfect fit for us.  We absolutely loved it!  Located just 15-20 minutes south of downtown Nashville, so you won’t have any parking hassles or late-night party scene.

The first thing you notice when you enter is the amazing lobby. It’s grand, yet welcoming.  And every afternoon, the scent of fresh popcorn wafts through the air, enticing guests both young and old, to stop and enjoy a quick afternoon snack.

Our room was clean and updated. There was a fridge microwave and sink in the bar area. The bathroom was spacious, featuring a gigantic tub and separate shower, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash) in large dispensers inside the shower.  (Check out my Instagram story by clicking the “highlight” button to see the full video)

While our room was wonderful, we certainly not prepared for the value of the breakfast at Drury. There was no shrink-wrapped, slapped-together convenience food—it was a full-blown breakfast with anything you could want!  They served a full spread of hot foods like eggs, biscuits and gravy and sausage and potatoes. Then there was a huge selection of cereals, fresh cut fruit, and yogurt. They even had a station where you could get made-to-order pancakes and another where you could make your own waffles, which the boys loved. The food was all super fresh, and the Kelso Bros Coffee was piping hot.   

Drury breakfast

Another great feature was the pool. My kids love to swim no matter where we are, and the pool at Drury didn’t disappoint. It was heated, with a neat indoor/outdoor feature—where you could swim under a large partition to go from one side to another.  There also was a huge hot tub, and an endless supply of high-quality clean towels too.

Drury indoor/outdoor pool

Drury indoor/outdoor pool

What was our favorite thing about Drury? It definitely was something called “kickback hour”.  It’s every evening at  5:30, and to say that it exceeded our wildest expectations, would be putting it lightly.  Even though it’s considered a snack, it’s really more like a full-blown dinner.  It has a full spread of items like baked potatoes, pasta, chicken tenders, a nacho bar, hot dogs, and salad bar. I found this to be a nice touch, and an unexpected surprise, because going out to eat with the kids can be stressful and expensive!  Also, get this, adults can get THREE free drinks during kickback hour. Yes, you read that right, THREE!  Amazing!  

Drury kickback hour

Drury kickback hour

We absolutely LOVED Drury and can’t believe the value and quality offered,  and can’t wait to stay with them again. 

Nashville Road Trip – Where We Ate:

When traveling I like to find out what special food the area is known for.  In talking with some locals the Nashville foods to try are:  hot chicken, biscuits, sweet treats, BBQ, and goo goo cluster bars

Since we regularly ate a huge breakfast at the hotel and appetizers for dinner at the kickback hour, eating around Nashville was more for lunch and progressive-style snacking and treats.  Because vacation calories don’t count right?

Biscuit Love, Immensely popular, known for cuisine centered around biscuits.  Make sure to try a bonut, which is fried biscuit dough topped with Italian cream cheese.  Delish!

Bonut Biscuit Love

Biscuit Love Nashville

Five Daughters Bakery Try and tackle one of their 100 layer donuts, which is a hybrid of a croissant and donut.  Are you kidding me?!

Five daughters Nashville

5 daughters Nashville

Caviar and Bananas This gourmet market and cafe uses only fresh ingredients to deliver a tasty culinary experience.   The decor is as amazing as the food.  This place looks like its right out of a magazine.  Caviar and Bananas

Martin’s BBQ Their specialty item is a Redneck Taco, which is any of their hickory-smoked meats on a corn cake.  Yee haw!

Martin's BBQ Nashville

Other kid-friendly places we wanted to try but didn’t have time:  

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken If you never tried chicken and waffles, this is the place to give a whirl.  Also, the chicken comes in different spice levels; the hottest contains the fire-breathing ghost pepper.  Yikes! Note: When we stopped by this place there was a 45-minute wait outside the building. Be prepared to wait and have something to entertain the kids.  

The Grilled Cheeserie Its humble beginnings was as a popular Nashville food truck, whose menu was created by a master chef.  So, this isn’t your run of the mill sandwich.

The Aquarium Restaurant  A true underwater dining experience, as you’re surrounded by a 200,000-gallon saltwater aquarium.    

The Pancake Pantry You’ll get a full serving of Southern hospitality at this 50 plus year-old Nashville hot spot.

Overall Nashville is such a great town to explore with kids.  We had so much fun, and hope to be back soon.  I hope this helps you plan a fun trip there with your family.

Nashville mural

XOXO  Sarah

We were so grateful to partner with Drury Hotels for this trip, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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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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Meet Stephanie Pohlman from Stephanie Pohlman Designs.
Stephanie has helped me design my entire home.  I love working with her because she designs for spaces that need to be, not only beautiful, but functional for my entire family.  Having two boys doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice on style.

Stephanie Pohlamn Designs

My name is Stephanie Pohlman, and I grew up in Saint Charles, MO!  Ever since “Trading Spaces” and “While you were out” aired on TLC in 2000, I have been obsessed with interior design. I went to Mizzou to follow my passion to be a designer and graduated in 2012. I worked for another designer and a builder before having my baby girl in January of 2017, which led me to start my own business.  After having my daughter, I realized I needed to have more flexibility and control my work hours.  I am married to my best friend, Matt and we have one little girl, Rey who is 15 months old!

Social handles:

IG: StepaniePohlmanDesigns
FB: Pohlman Designs on Facebook
Email: spohlmandesigns@gmail.com

Why/When did you start your Stephanie Pohlman Designs?

In 2016, I was working for a custom home builder part time and decided to start Stephanie Pohlman Designs on the side for some extra cash. After having my baby girl in January 2017, I decided it was the right time to start my business full time to allow for more flexibility with my work schedule. I gave it a shot in May of 2017, and it’s thrived ever since!

What are your favorite things about designing client homes?  

I love to see their reaction when my vision comes to life. My favorite is when my clients let me design while they are gone for the day and come home to a finished product. Receiving a text saying how much they love it, makes all the hard work so worth it! I can easily say I never dread a day of work. I mean I get to shop for a living, it’s pretty much a dream!

What’s the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is the very beginning of a job, trying to pinpoint my client’s style exactly. Everyone has something different they want for their own home, and it’s my job to figure that out!

Where do you get your inspiration?

I follow a lot of interior designers on Instagram and love to browse Pinterest. A lot of times, I will be walking through the aisles of Home Goods before I come up with my ideas.

Who are your favorite designers?

Ahh, this is a tough one! Of course, I love Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. Who doesn’t? On Instagram, I am obsessed with Studio McGee. Her style is probably more modern than my own, but I love it!

Mom Questions:

How do you balance work and family? 

I try to remove myself from work after 5 and on the weekends, but of course, that isn’t always easy with owning a business. Luckily, my clients are all very understanding and let me choose family first if anything ever comes up. Otherwise, I just make time in the evenings and weekends to spend time with her and my husband.

What are qualities you try and role model for your kids?

I want her to see that you can follow your dream and make a living doing what you truly love!  I also try to live a healthy lifestyle by exercising and staying active.

What would you tell your younger self? 

To take more business classes! Haha

Who inspires you?

My mom, she’s my biggest cheerleader!

The advice you’d give to other working moms?

To try to remove yourself from work while you are with your kiddos, even though I am guilty of this sometimes. We need to embrace every second with them because time flies!

Personal Questions:  

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Reality TV, especially Big Brother and the Bachelor/Bachelorette!

What do you put in your coffee?  

Natural Vanilla Creamer.

Favorite beauty tip?

Drink lots of water. 😊

Favorite beauty product?

Anyone who really knows me, knows I am not very good with makeup or beauty products.  So any advice here is welcome! Haha

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

Brushing my teeth and washing my face.

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

Jamaica for my honeymoon was absolutely beautiful. Australia is on my bucket list!

 

Read the other mom to mom questions here.

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Sarah Out and About

Mom to Mom

Hey, I’m Sarah.  I’m a working mom with two high-energy boys in St Louis, Missouri.  I work as a pharmaceutical sales rep for a fortune 500 company. I love spending time with my family and friends, traveling, planning parties and all things style.  Every day I try to find a balance between work/family and live life to the fullest by always have something fun on the horizon.

Social handles:

IG: SarahOutAndAboutBlog
FB:  SarahOutAndAbout
Twitter: @sarahoutandabout
Email:  sarahoutandaboutblog@gmail.com

Blog/Business Questions:

Why did you start your blog?

I wanted a way to connect with other working moms who have similar interests and needed a fun creative outlet away from work.  My goal for the blog is to be a platform where moms can share conversations, tips and tricks, ideas, new hot spots, good deals, like you’d share with your best girlfriends.  As my my 3 year old Mason says “Sharing is caring.”

What are your favorite things about blogging?

A couple of my favorite things about blogging are:   meeting so many new people and learning something new.  Another favorite is brainstorming and coming up with the content to share with you.  

There are a ton of blogs centered around style and travel, but my blog is geared toward the busy/working moms.

Where did you get your IG handle?

I’m always on the go searching for new places to explore, so “Sarah Out And About” seemed perfect.

The advice you would give someone wanting to start a blog?

It is a lot of work.  It is extremely challenging operating a blog but if your blog is about all the things you would genuinely do in your life anyway it is so fun and rewarding sharing your passions and learning from others.  Find your niche and go for it!

Who are your favorite bloggers?

My FAV’s are:  @HiSugarPlum, @LivinginYellow and @LivingwithLandyn

How do you balance work and family?

It’s a daily challenge, but I try to maximize the time I have with my kids and make daily activities special.  We always have several outings planned, so when I get stressed with work, I have something to look forward to that’s a break from my job.  

What are qualities you try and role model for your kids?

  • Always set high goals, and give it your all.
  • Learning is a lifelong practice
  • “YOLO”, so make the most of every opportunity.
  • Failure is part of the journey, expect it and learn from it.  

What would you tell your younger self?

Life won’t always go as you planned.  Embrace the hard times, enjoy the great times, and be grateful for each day.  I’d also tell my younger self to be very particular with who you surround yourself with.  Find your tribe of positive people that bring you joy and energy.

Who inspires you?

My mom. Most amazing lady ever.  Beyond grateful for her.

The advice you’d give to other working moms?

Give yourself a break and don’t expect perfection.    You are doing a great job and don’t compare yourself to others.  Spend time doing the things you enjoy with the people you love.

Make the most of the time you have with your family.  Try to focus on quality time over quantity. I always try to be present, and embrace the individual personalities of my boys.

Personal Questions:

What is your guilty pleasure?

Magazines (LOVE them), Jet’s Pizza with turbo crust (cheap and sooo freeking good) and The cookie skillet dessert at Bricktop’s,

I also LOVE The Bachelor and Real Housewives!!  

A bad habit you want to break?

Drinking Diet Coke

What do you put in your coffee?

During the week just vanilla almond milk.  

On the weekends I add a packet of light hot chocolate to make a skinny mocha

What podcast do you listen to?

“How I Built This” by Guy Raz and “The Influencer podcast” by Julie Solomon

Favorite beauty tip?

My dermatologist told me sunscreen, Retinol, and moisturizer are the most important skin products.  Everything else is just marketing.

Favorite beauty product?

I could use help in the beauty department so I’d say self tanner.  I love a good spray tan from Shine and use the L’Oreal Self-Tanning Towelettes when I need a little glow.

Bucket List travel spot?

Iceland, my new obsession.
My other travel goal is to get my boys to all 50 states before they graduate.  

Best place in the world you have been?  

There are so many places around the world I’ve been that were amazing, but doing a photo safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park was such a once in a lifetime adventure.  I also love Venice and Paris. As for the United States, I went to Alaska when I was 13, and it was an unbelievable trip. Hiking the Grand Canyon when I was 8 was also a highlight too.  I am at my happiest when I’m traveling to anywhere I have never been before.

Favorite App

Kidzxplor (mom lifesaver!)

Something people don’t know about you.

I grew up in a tiny town Gordonville Mo (population 500) just outside of Cape Girardeau MO

Craziest thing you have ever done?

Shark diving in South Africa

Most exciting moment?

In college, I went with a group of girlfriends to California.  We went to the Price Is Right and I ended up getting on the show and winning the showcase showdown.  Best day ever!!

I hope you enjoyed reading these FAQ and stay tuned for more mom to mom FAQ each week.  Drop me a line and let me know what we have in common.  I’d love to hear from you.

XOXO  Sarah

 

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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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CoCo Key Water Park Resort

Recently we had an opportunity to stay at the Adam’s Mark Hotel and CoCo Key Water Park in Kansas City during my boys’ spring break.  It’s about a 4-hour drive from St Louis right off Interstate 70, directly across the highway from the Royals’ and Chiefs’ stadiums.  It’s affordable family fun that gets you out of town in a few hours.

We arrived at the Adam’s Mark Hotel the lobby area was updated and inviting.  Our room was clean and simple no-frills accommodations. The outside of the hotel could use some updating, the good news is they currently have plans in place for an outside renovation. All my boys could think about was getting to the waterpark.

CoCo Key Water Park

According to my boys, CoCo Key Water Park was amazing!  Some hotels pools may have a slide or two, but never a full-fledged water park.  Even if you are not staying at the hotel you can still go to the water park.  It was a perfect fit for both of my boys, who are 7 and 3.  Logan, my oldest, was tall enough to ride all the slides.  CoCo Key also features a lazy river, splash area and lily pad adventure for little ones, and even basketball goals.   There were some local residents who were having their birthday party at CoCo Key. There are cabanas along the side of the pools for rent and a restaurant for food and drinks. No outside food is allowed.

The hotel has a huge arcade. In addition, they host several activities throughout the day, such as movie night, dance parties, face painting and appearances from CoCo the Bird.

For all the details check out http://www.cocokeykansascity.com

Logan’s favorite was: The big slides
Mason’s favorite was: The little kid slides
Mom’s favorite was: The boys slept like rocks after spending most of the day there.

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The weather was not so great when we were in Kansas City but it didn’t matter because Coco Key was inside and heated.  It was a fun place to stay for my kiddos while in Kansas City for the weekend that doesn’t break the bank. My boy’s keep asking when we are going back.  If you are needing a quick fun and affordable family getaway, Coco Key will have you kids smiling the entire visit.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Adam’s Mark Hotel and Coco Key Water Park, however, all opinions expressed here are my own.

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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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