2/28/17

Why I love Rocksbox!

 If you haven’t heard of Rocksbox yet, you just don’t know what you’re missing. Think of it as Netflix for jewelry, a never ending jewelry box. You begin by signing up for a subscription and Rocksbox will send you 3 pieces of jewelry at a time. Wear them as much as you like and when you’re done send everything back in a handy prepaid mailer and wait for your next delivery to arrive. Here are just a few reasons why I'm loving this new service.

My first Rocksbox!
You can exchange as many sets as you want in a month. There have been several occasions where my Rocksbox came in the mail, I wore it the next day and it was back in the box getting shipped out to its Rocksbox home the very next day. You decide how long you want to keep a set, whether it’s a day, a week or a month.

Turnaround time is quick. This was actually my biggest concern when I signed up for the service. Since you ship your set with a prepaid label that they provide, as soon as the tracking is picked up by USPS you get an email telling you “thanks for returning your Rocksbox, your new box will be sent out soon.” Typically, I get an email the very next day saying that a new Rocksbox is already on its way to me.
Rocksbox #2 - I loved both these pieces.
If you love it, you can buy it. If you receive a piece of jewelry that you love, you can just keep it and Rocksbox with bill your credit card. You can keep just 1 piece, or all of them, or none of them. Your not required to purchase anything additional outside your subscription.

Your stylist really listens to your feedback. The best way to get pieces you love is to create a wish list and then to provide feedback when you receive your box. A few times there were items that I had put on my wish list, but when they arrived they weren’t exactly what I had in mind. I was sure to note exactly what I didn’t like in my feedback so that my stylist would know the type of jewelry I preferred. You can also let your stylist know if you have a special event coming up and there’s something particular you want.

My third Rocksbox.
It’s fun! One of the reasons my husband thought Rocksbox would be a great gift for me is because I’m completely non-committal when it comes to jewelry. I’ll see something I like, but I’ll never pull the trigger to buy it for myself. Rocksbox gives me the freedom to try different pieces and send them back when I’m ready for something new. If I really do love them, I can always go ahead and purchase a piece, or the whole set!

So what does it cost? Rocksbox costs just $21 a month and that includes free shipping on all your items and as many sets as you’d like to exchange. If you’d like to give Rocksbox a try you can use my code: SHANNONBBFF367 and you’ll get a free month of jewelry! When you get a free month of Rocksbox, I get a $25 credit.

2/21/17

10 Tips for Using Airbnb with Kids

If you click on any of the Airbnb links in this post you'll receive a $40 credit for your first trip with Airbnb, this is a referral link and I also receive a credit.

Last summer our family traveled to London, Paris & Scotland all while staying in the comfort of a home away from home through Airbnb. This was our first time using the rental service, but it won't be the last. Our experiences in all 3 rentals was excellent, but I found that traveling with kids does require a little extra planning. Here are my top tips for using Airbnb when traveling with kids.
Look for reviews by people who are in a similar situation as you.
Read the reviews - When searching for an Airbnb with kids I always read all the reviews. Yes, all of them. I specifically look for reviews from people with children, comments about the neighborhood and how responsive the host is. See how the host responds to any negative comments or criticism. This is a key indicator on how they’ll respond to you if you have a problem during your stay.  

Only book with a Superhost - There are people who are going to disagree with me on this one, but when traveling with kids I don’t like any surprises from our accommodations. When we’re traveling with the kids, we stick to hosts who have proven that they’re responsible and responsive. The last thing you want to deal with when you’re traveling with a tired, jet-lagged, hungry toddler is a host who keeps you waiting.

Look closely at the pictures - Review the photos on the site very carefully. Look for anything that your child might destroy or potential get hurt from. Bunk beds might be the perfect set up for older kids, but a nightmare for someone with a toddler.

Make sure you select all the amenities that are important to you.
Use the filters - When imputing your search criteria be sure to mark off anything that you want to be included in your rental. Will you need to do laundry during your stay? Do you prefer a rental that is not pet friendly due to allergies? Take a second to sort through exactly what you want so you aren’t disappointed with the amenities.

Be up front about bringing kids with you - We always search using the 2 adults, 2 children settings AND we use the “family friendly” filter. In addition, we contact the host to let them know we’ll be traveling with a 5 & 9 year old and make sure their rental is appropriate for kids. This may seem like overkill, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Child friendly is NOT the same as child proof - Just because your listing is family friendly and your host knows you’ll be arriving with children DOES NOT mean that your rental will be child proof. Even though my kids are past the “sticking a fork in the wall outlet” phase, I still do a quick sweep of our rental when we first arrive. I move anything that could get accidently broken.

Look for reviews that mention the location of the rental.
 Location, location, location - Did I mention location? When we traveled to London last summer, one of our top priorities from our rental was easy access to transportation. Since we were staying so long, we also wanted to be close to a park where the kids could get out and run around. If you can’t tell the exact location from the listing, don’t be afraid to message your host and ask questions the area.

Pay attention to the “bedrooms” and “beds” listed - This mostly applies to international travel, although I’ve been surprised by some domestic rentals in this area. In some cases, large cities for example, a 2 bedroom may just be a 1 bedroom with a fold out bed. Scroll through the pictures and make sure you actually see the number of bedrooms listed. Read the reviews and make sure 1 of the beds listed isn’t just an extra futon. When in doubt, message the host for clarification.

Mind your fees - When you’re searching for a rental you’ll see a per night fee displayed. This will not be your final charge. There will be a service fee and renters can tack on a cleaning charge. Sometimes the cleaning charge can be very cost prohibitive if you’re staying somewhere for just a few nights.

After your visit be sure to follow up with an honest review - Remember how helpful all those reviews were that you read before booking? Don’t forget to write and honest review after your stay is complete. Be sure to include if you were traveling with children, and what you did and didn’t like about the rental.



Ready to give Airbnb a try? Use this link to receive $40 off your first trip!

8/28/16

Kinder Surprise Egg Opening

Another Sunday, another Kinder Egg opening. You can tell she was really excited to open this one.

8/21/16

Kinder Egg Surprise Sunday

It's Sunday and that means it's time for another Kinder Egg Reveal. We're home from our London vacation, but I still have lots of Kinder Egg videos to show you guys.


8/14/16

Kinder Egg Surprise Reveal

Time for another Kinder Egg reveal. Do your kids love Kinder Eggs? Let me know what their favorite prize is that they've unwrapped.

8/7/16

Kinder Sunrise Egg Unwrapping

I mean, who doesn't love Kinder Eggs. Here's another video with a special surprise treat. Stop by every Sunday to see what we're unwrapping.

7/28/16

Summer Abroad with Kids :: Nevis Mountain Range

In the summer of 2016 our family set off to spend 8 weeks in London. We would explore the city and live like locals, renting a flat in Westminster. This was a far cry from our beach home in Florida and took a little adjusting to. We thrived in our new home away from home and had a jolly good time with many adventures along the way. This post is one installment in my series: Summer Abroad {with Kids}.

A Visit to Scotland and the Nevis Mountain Range

Last week we took a break from our travels in London, and headed up to the Scottish Highlands for a little getaway. We stayed in Fort Williams and decided to take a day and spend it at the Nevis Range Mountain Resort

We started off our day with a ride on the Mountain Gondola. I was skeptical on whether or not the kids would like it. Well let me tell you that they LOVED it. The ride itself was smooth and we loved looking out at the beautiful scenery.

The top of the mountain was my kids' favorite area to explore. There were trails with little streams and mountain bikers whizzing by. There was even a tube slide that was included in the price of your Gondola ticket.


But probably the highlight of our visit to the Nevis Range Mountain Resort was the High Wire Adventure ropes course. The two kids and my husband did the courses and everyone loved it. The highlight of my day was watching the kids complete the different challenges.

Squirrel Course
There were several different courses you could choose. My daughter was too short for any of them except the Squirrel, the lowest of the courses. But she loved doing it over and over again. My son and husband on the other hand completed the Squirrel, Barn Owl, and Wild Cat.

Barn Owl Course
Seeing my son (age 9) climbing in the trees and then zip lining down was amazing. He's a nervous kid so for him to gather the confidence to complete it was a huge deal. 

Wild Cat Course
I can't recommend a visit to the Nevis Range Mountain Resort enough. We had such a delightful day playing in the beautiful nature of Scotland.

Thank you to the Nevis Range Mountain Resort for providing a complimentary Gondola ride. All opinions are my own.

7/26/16

London Theatre with Kids :: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This post is part of my Summer Abroad with Kids series. You can read all about our summer travels in London with kids here.


One of the things top on our list of to do this summer in London was to take in as much local theatre and arts as possible. The accessibility of theatre for families in London is unlike anything we have in the states. The other night we took the kids to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was amazing. The special effects dazzled with all sorts of surprises throughout the show. That being said, for me this show didn't even come close to being as great as Matilda. I think both kids agreed with me that it was great, it just wasn't as great as Matilda.


So should you go and see it? I say yes! It was great and the kids will love it, but if you have to choose between Charlie and Matilda, I would go and see Matilda (sorry Charlie).

I used the site Theatre Monkey to read the reviews on all the different seat options at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. This was the best way for me to find out the best of the cheapest seats. 

7/24/16

Kinder Surprise Chocolate Egg Reveal

These kids are going to be so sad when we head back to the US without Kinder Eggs. Did you know that they've been banned in the US since 1938? You can read a little more about the history of the Kinder Egg here. Enjoy this unwrapping!

7/21/16

Summer Abroad with Kids :: A Visit to the London Zoo

In the summer of 2016 our family set off to spend 8 weeks in London. We would explore the city and live like locals, renting a flat in Westminster. This was a far cry from our beach home in Florida and took a little adjusting to. We thrived in our new home away from home and had a jolly good time with many adventures along the way. This post is one installment in my series: Summer Abroad {with Kids}.

A Visit to the London Zoo
The weather in London has been stunning lately. I really think this city gets a bad rap when it comes to weather. Since it's been so nice the kids and I decided to take a day and spend it at the London Zoo. Now I should tell you that Jacksonville has an amazing zoo. No aquarium, but our zoo is out of this world. For this reason we typically don't even bother to visit zoos when we're on vacation. But they really wanted to so we decided to give it a go. I knew the London Zoo would have to be something special to really wow my kids, and it didn't disappoint. 
For starters, this zoo is massive. It even has an aquarium (take that Jacksonville). If you're an American, think Animal Kingdom or Busch Gardens, but without the rides. That's the quality, cleanliness and size of this particular zoo. My kids loved wandering around to see all of the animal exhibits.

My favorite part of the zoo was Gorilla Kingdom. I swear, it seemed like every enclosure had some type of baby animal in it. We sat for a long time just watching the mamas and their babies interacting. The kids thought it was amazing, especially since they'd never seen baby apes that close up (and neither had I for that matter).
While everyone loved Gorilla Kingdom, I must say that the kids' favorite part of the day was the Lemurs. When they say "In with the Lemurs" they aren't kidding. You are literally walking around inside the Lemur enclosure.
I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that we went into this area 6 times during our visit. If you go, I recommend attending one of the Lemur talks. They tell you all about them, but the also feed them at this time so they are very active.
Trying to get a good Lemur picture!
Overall our day at the London Zoo was nothing short of amazing. The beautiful weather helped in that aspect, but the zoo itself is well worth a visit if you're visiting London with kids.

Thank you to the London Zoo for giving us complimentary admission in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and we would have gladly paid to attend this wonderful zoo.

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7/19/16

London Theatre with Kids :: Wicked

This post is part of my Summer Abroad with Kids series. You can read all about our summer travels in London with kids here.


One of the things top on our list of to do this summer in London was to take in as much local theatre and arts as possible. The accessibility of theatre for families in London is unlike anything we have in the states. One of our most anticipated shows for this trip was Wicked.

My daughter has been begging for tickets to Wicked for years. As soon as we knew we were coming to London we went ahead and purchased our Wicked tickets.

My husband and I had seen Wicked 7 years ago when it came to town, but this was the first time for the kids. They are huge fans of the Wizard of Oz and have been looking forward to the show for a while.

Wicked was just as amazing as you would expect. My daughter called it a "dream come true" and my son loved some of the witty references to the original Wizard of Oz story. Overall, it was a great show the entire family enjoyed.


7/14/16

London Theatre with Kids :: Matilda

This post is part of my Summer Abroad with Kids series. You can read all about our summer travels in London with kids here.


One of the things top on our list of to do this summer in London was to take in as much local theatre and arts as possible. The accessibility of theatre for families in London is unlike anything we have in the states. Last week we decided to take the kids to see Matilda.

Holy cow, this performance knocked our socks off. I've been a fan of musical theatre since a young age and Matilda is one of the best shows I've seen a long time.


We bought the cheap seats for the show for a few reasons. First, there weren't a lot left since it was short notice. Second, I wanted to get tickets to a few other shows so we decided to go cheap in order to see more. 

View from the cheap seats.

I used the site Theatre Monkey to read the reviews on all the different seat options at the Cambridge Theatre. This was the best way for me to find out the best of the cheapest seats. 

Overall, Matilda gets 2 big thumbs up from all the members of our family. Both kids (ages 6 & 9) thought it was amazing. My son even commented that our seats were terrific.

7/12/16

London Theatre with Kids :: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

This post is part of my Summer Abroad with Kids series. You can read all about our summer travels in London with kids here.


One of the things top on our list of to do this summer in London was to take in as much local theatre and arts as possible. The accessibility of theatre for families in London is unlike anything we have in the states. Our first arts experience in London was a visit to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


We decided to attend a performance at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a performance geared towards kids and was attended by school groups. It was an excellent chance for our kids (ages 6 & 9) to enjoy a trip to the orchestra.


If you're visiting London I highly recommend a visit to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was fun for the whole family. Royal Albert Hall is a stunning venue that even my 6 year old could appreciate.