Ireland – The Emerald Isle

Prior to visiting Ireland, all I knew about it was that it is very, very green and there are a lot of sheep. While doing research about what we would do while there, I discovered that Ireland has so much to offer and it got me pumped for my very first visit with my family.

Ireland, Dublin specifically, is a 6 hour plane ride from the NJ/NYC area and that is where we decided to make our home base for the next few days. We spent 3 nights/4 days exploring the city of Dublin as well as venturing out to the countryside and Northern Ireland. To be completely honest, Ireland was never on my list of places I wanted to visit, but my husband had his eye on it for a while and I am SO happy we finally made the trip there.

Just a side note: Our itinerary might sound a little aggressive for some people, especially if traveling with younger kids, with such a short amount of time but for our family I knew it would work.

Where to stay?

When you don’t have too much time in a city, location is KEY! My one big issue with Dublin was how expensive accommodations are. Most decent, non hostels, in the heart of the city will easily cost you $300+ per night when approaching peak season. I personally prefer rentals when traveling because they provide more room for my toddler and always end up being more cost effective. We found the most PERFECT rental and I couldn’t have been more happy with our choice. Dublin City Condo is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with full kitchen, washer/dryer and balcony. It was in a great location too – 1 minute to the nearest grocery store, 2 minutes to a Starbucks and in walking distance to pubs, restaurants, shopping and most major tourist attractions. Best of all – it was a lot more affordable and had way more space than any other hotel we could have booked.

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Click HERE to view our rental.

 Day 1:

We landed in Dublin at about 6am but by the time we went through customs, grabbed our luggage and made it to our rental – it was almost 9am. We were exhausted, so we took a quick nap and then headed out to explore. Prior to heading to Dublin, I scored a great deal on Groupon for a 1 day Adult Dublin Pass – normally priced at 59€ (abt $69) for only 40€ (abt $47) so picked up 3 of them as I was traveling with my husband & mother – Victor is still free at most attractions! If you are not familiar with the Dublin Pass, it’s basically a sightseeing card that includes a ton of the top places to visit. Even though we had a late start to the day, we were determined to make the most of our pass. These are all the things we were able to do/check out on our first day:

-Hop on Hop Off Bus

-Dublin Castle

-St. Patricks Cathedral

-Teelings Distillery

-Guinness Storefront

I would say my highlights were St. Patricks Cathedral and Teelings. I’m not religious but I love visiting churches while in a new city, mainly because many have a lot of history behind them and architectural wise are simply stunning. Teelings was also a big surprise to me because I feel like people don’t talk about it as much as Guinness or Jameson. It was my favorite of the 3 – it is much more intimate in the sense that the people who work there seemed to genuinely LOVE their job and telling you the history behind the distillery and overall just more personal. The tasting room was great & parents, it’s kid friendly so absolutely don’t miss doing a tour when you are in town.

 Day 2: 

I knew I couldn’t visit Ireland and not make my way to the Cliffs of Moher. Usually, I have no problem just renting a car and driving while on vacation, but we decided that ultimately the best thing to do for this trip was to book tours. Doing this allowed us to see more in such a short amount of time. While that may not be ideal for everyone – it ended up being the perfect decision for us. I booked the Cliffs of Moher tour with Irish Day Tours that included a visit to Doolin, The Burren and Galway City. The tour was about 12 hours long but we never felt rushed, except for the short stop in Galway. The drive was super serene and scenic with lush greenery going on for what seemed like forever. I can’t really properly put into words what it feels like when you get to the top of the cliff and are finally able to just take that view in. It’s one of those things that in pictures it’s amazing BUT in person… you are left speechless. I think at that moment, I officially fell in love with Ireland. Each stop left a big impression on me and I am looking forward to the day I get to return to Ireland to Glamp in Doolin and spend a few days exploring Galway.


Day 3: 

On this day, we got to visit Belfast, the Giants Causeway and Carrick A Rede Bridge with Wild Rover Tours, which also was about a 12 hour tour. Sidenote: I’m pretty sure Wild Rover is the only operator in Dublin that offers something that includes all 3 of these in one day. While in Belfast, we took a 1 hour Black Taxi Tour and I now totally understand why they are so highly rated. I am very fascinated about history in general but visiting Belfast makes you open your eyes to current day issues and I honestly was so shocked to learn about how separated by religion/national communities they still are. The art work on Shankill and Falls Rd show two complete different ideologies. My top highlight from that day would have to be seeing my son cross the Carrick A Rede Bridge. At only 2 years old, he is so brave, because after crossing once – my knees were shaking but it was worth EVERY STEP. That evening me & Ryan stepped out solo for some adult fun. The bar area around Temple Bar was a little more rowdy than I could deal with after a super long day, so thankfully we found this really awesome spot called Mulligan & Haines. I highly recommend this spot for drinks and good music.

Day 4:

Today was our last day in Dublin.  Since we would be catching a flight to our next destination later in the evening, we decided to sleep in a bit and then head to the Jameson Distillery for a drink and then catch lunch at The Brazen Head, which is Ireland’s oldest pub, dating back to 1198. The Brazen Head was super busy but was worth the wait for a table. We got a table at the back bar area and stepping in that room you are instantly transformed to a past era. There is something really cool about having a pint of Guinness in the oldest pub in Ireland, so I would say this is one of those stops you have to make when in Dublin. The food was also really good!

One of the questions I got most from people after our trip was regarding safety while at some of our stops – in particular, the Cliffs and walking across the bridge. Victor is your typical toddler boy. He is full of energy and is very curious. We discussed before leaving for our trip how we would make certain stops work. When we got to the part of the cliffs that were fully open, my husband held him. As you can see from the photos above, the only shot I got of him there was behind a secure wall and in front of a castle. To me personally, his safety is worth more than a cool shot. If not careful, it can be very dangerous as it is fully open. I would not recommend letting a small child walk/run around this area by themselves. As far as the bridge – it’s actually very secure and I did a lot of research about small children walking across it before deciding we would let him. We knew that when we made it to the bridge, if he expressed that he did not want to go (my son is very vocal about not doing certain things) one of us would stay back with him but he was so brave and crossed it, holding my husbands hand, with no issue. This bridge is also much shorter than it appears in photos. Getting to the bridge was actually way more work than we anticipated but was totally worth it.

Ireland exceeded my expectations. It’s such a gorgeous country and for the parents that follow me – it’s super doable with kids. You know your children better than anyone else, so just plan accordingly  and go at their pace. As always – if you have any questions on my recap or maybe something I didn’t cover, leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

Walt Disney World…. The Most Magical Place on Earth!

While I love meeting with characters, going on rides and watching the shows – eating and drinking my way around the Walt Disney World parks is one of my absolute favorite things ever.

Here are 12 photos that will make you want to eat & drink your way around Disney World!

  1. Is there any way to start off this list other than with the infamous Dole Whip? One taste of this delightfully smooth pineapple flavored soft serve and you will be hooked! You can find the Dole Whip at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs and a few of the Disney Resorts. IMG_9956

PC: @ohyeahdisney

2. Another delicious classic that can be found at all the parks has to be the Mickey pretzel!IMG_9715

PC: @stickaforkinme

3. LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern is a frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow and topped with passion fruit foam… some people think it’s even better than the Dole Whip on those hot Disney days. Head on over to Magic Kingdom to try this one out.IMG_9721

PC: @readerlygeek 

4. Churros need no explanation! With a side of caramel dipping sauce, these are sure to be a family favorite when visiting the Mexican Pavilion in Epcot. IMG_9717

PC: @disneyhungry

5. Calling all Sake lovers! This Violet Sake is not to be missed at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot. It’s the perfect combo of sake, purple pear and lime juice. IMG_9955

PC: @jan_eats210

6. Pulled. Pork. Cheese. Fries. — head on over to Animal Kingdoms Flame Tree BBQ to dig into these!

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PC: @disneyhungry

7. Everyday can be Sunday Brunch with this insane Bloody Mary from Paddlefish at Disney Springs. It features King Crab, Jumbo Shrimp and Candied Bacon! IMG_9722

PC: @disney_foodie_

8. NUTELLA…. do I need to say more? These Nutella Stuffed Beignets are what dreams are made of. Head on over to  France while in Epcot to taste this deliciousness. IMG_9714

PC: @disneyhungry

9. The Night Blossom from Animal Kingdom’s Pongu Pongu is insanely popular…and pretty to look at. It’s a mixture of limeade with apple and desert pear  flavors topped with passion fruit boba balls. IMG_9713

PC: @disneyhungry

10. We all know that when at Disney World, you are constantly on the go. That is why I love that they have quick service locations for many of the restaurants. This honey chicken from Yak and Yeti on the go looks delicious!IMG_9719

PC: @kingdommagic

11. Macarons and a Slushy cocktail always sound good to me but they are even better when they are from the France Pavilion in Epcot. This is the Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette and La Vie en Rose Frozen Slushy.IMG_9712

PC: @thesassymom82

12. The Mickey Kitchen Sink Sundae! This is sure to be a fan favorite amongst those young and old. This can be found at both the Plaza/Main Street Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and at Beaches and Cream in Disney’s Beach Club Resort. It consist of a scoop each of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry then topped with hot fudge, strawberry, and caramel. Finally it is covered in whipped cream, chocolate and peanut butter chips, and cherries. Mickey-Kitchen-Sink-Sundae-600x618

PC: @disneyfoodblog

Now, I want to hear from YOU! What are your favorite treats from Disney World?

[ This post is in partnership with Spirit Airlines, as always – all opinions are my own.]

Did you check out my Disney Recap?

If so, then you already know that we flew Spirit Airlines last month to get to Orlando.

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While I have flown with international budget airlines before, this was my first time flying with a US based budget airline. Spirit Airlines is the leading Ultra Low Cost Carrier in the United States, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Latin America – serving 39+ destinations!

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Spirit’s total price saves you 30 percent more than other airlines, on average, by unbundling ticket prices.

4 Reasons Why Spirit is Different

  1. Ultra-low fares

Home of the Bare Fare

Their fares are fully unbundled. No “free” bag. No “free” drink. Other airlines bake those options right into their ticket price. They don’t. A ticket with Spirit will get you and a personal item from A to B.

  1. Options

They call it Frill Control

They believe in paying only for what you use, not what you don’t. You get to control your options and never pay for someone else’s “free” bags.

  1. Fresh planes

They have a fit fleet

Spirit has one of the youngest fleets flying. They’re safe and fuel-efficient, and that saves you money.

  1. Cozy seating

They are plane simple

Spirit adds more seats to their planes because when you fly with more people, the cost per person goes down. The seats are simple: they don’t recline, so you don’t wind up with someone’s head in your lap.

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Still want the extras?

Spirit has them! While the Bare Fare doesn’t include extras that certain passengers may not want – you can absolutely still have them. They have a great menu filled with water, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, muffins and snacks that can be purchased. Click HERE to check out the menu.

A few other extras that you can purchase prior to your flight if you would like are:

-Travel Insurance

-The Big Front Seat

-Carry On Bag

-Check In Luggage

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Spirit Pro Tips

To help save you time and money while traveling with Spirit:

  • Buy bags early: If you know you’re going to need a checked bag or carry-on, buy it early and online to save major money.
  • Personal item included: One personal item is included in the Bare Fare – something like a purse or small backpack
  • They’re light on legroom: Spirits a cozy airline. They add extra seats to our planes so we can fly with more people.
  • Get the big front seat: For a little extra cash you can secure the Big Front Seat.
  • Print your pass at home: Save yourself some money and print your boarding pass at home. It costs you $10 to print at the airport.
  • Refreshments for purchase: Your Bare Fare doesn’t include refreshments – even water. Beat the system by filling up a water bottle after security.
  • Travel insurance is available: They don’t give refunds if your plans change. Insurance is available to protect you from the unexpected.
  • Join the $9 Fare Club: Looking to save even more? Join the $9 Fare Club for access to exclusive travel deals and special bag prices.

What is the $9 Fare Club?

When you join the $9 Fare Club, you’ll get exclusive access to some of the lowest fares available, as well as discounted prices on bags. Plus, you’ll get special deals that are available only to members of the $9 Fare Club. Joining costs only $59.95.

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I’m a big fan of budget airlines because they take you where you need to go at a super affordable price. My experience flying Spirit was great! The seats were comfy and the plane staff was helpful. Click HERE to head to their site to plan your next getaway!

I remember the day I received that e-mail, “You Are Invited to the 2018 Disney Social Media Moms Land and Sea Celebration!”, like it was yesterday! It was back in October of last year but I remember getting an instant smile and being like OMG – yessssss! I was invited for the first time the year before but already had a trip to Iceland planned for that exact week, so I had to pass. No one knows how you get selected but a lot of people say it’s just a random draw, so I was very surprised to see I got the invitation for 2018. It took no convincing on my part because my husband was down for the trip the minute I mentioned being invited. I already knew Disney events were magical, but attending DisneySMMC far exceeded my expectations.

The conference was held from February 20-26th. The first 3 nights we would be staying at Coronado Springs Resorts and the last 3 nights aboard the Disney Magic!

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Thank to Spirit Airlines (who I partnered with) & our Wu-Tang apparel, we were flying in comfort and style to Orlando. This was my first time flying Spirit and my family & I were were impressed. The seats were comfy, the plane was on time and the attendants were super nice! We had a great flight so our trip was off to a perfect start.

February 20 – The conference began with a brief attendee only reception where our week and all the activities were broken down for us. It was great to be able to meet and mingle in person with so many people that I follow through social media. The Family Welcome Dinner followed and was sponsored by Mini Babybel. The theme for the evening was PIXAR! The food was delicious and having the characters there to take pictures with was a great bonus. 

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February 21 – This was one of my favorite days of the entire conference! We had a super early wake up call but it was all worth it because Disney had the most magical morning for us. We were going to Animal Kingdom to have breakfast and VIP time at Pandora before the parks opened! A.K.A. ride Flight of Passage as many times as you can and for me, that was 3 times! Experiencing Pandora while it is dark, is a world of its own – breathtaking and spectacular are a few words I can use to describe it. We also got to go on the Na’vi River and Victor was mesmerized. We then had some free time, so we did a few things at Animal Kingdom then headed back to the hotel, where we enjoyed the pool before heading to Hollywood Studios. At Hollywood Studios, we got to chat with a Walt Disney Imagineer who answered all of our questions about Toy Story Land, which is opening June 30th. We then had a delicious dinner sponsored by GoGo squeeZ at PizzeRizzo. Our final event was a VIP viewing of  Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular which unfortunately ended up being cancelled but we still had a great time inside the park.

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February 22 – This morning started off with a delicious breakfast sponsored by Alamo which was all about Disney Jr. Afterwards our 1st general session began. All of the speakers were amazing and I learned about so many really awesome things that will be coming to the parks. We also got some extended sneak peeks at some great movies that were coming out, including A Wrinkle in Time and Christopher Robin. I think who I really connected with most during the session was John Breckow, who is the Director of Corporate Citizenship for WDW. He gave us a glimpse of all the wishes Disney grants (10K per year globally!) and just hearing and seeing how much good they do behind the scenes makes me love them even more. After the first session we got to experience an exclusive showcase where we got to engage with all the sponsors.

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 February 23 – The morning started off with an awesome family breakfast that was Star Wars themed! After checking out it was time to head on over the port to board the Disney Magic! I was REALLY excited about this portion of the conference because I am a big fan of cruising but never sailed with Disney before – this was also Victor’s first cruise. Check in was smooth and we had some time to roam around the ship before the welcome aboard reception, sail away party and dinner at Enchanted Garden.

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February 24 – We started the day with our 2nd (& final) general session. This session was filled with great speakers, great information and lots of up and coming news. Heads up for all you Disney Cruiseline fans – Disney will be coming out with 3 new ships by 2021! We also learned a bunch of new information about Adventures by Disney. As a travel enthusiast, I was in awe listening to all the new destinations and itineraries. In 2019, they will be adding a Japan vacation with bookings starting this Spring. Booking a Adventure by Disney trip has officially been added to my bucket list. After the session, you could either disembark to explore beautiful Nassau or take part of the Family Junkets. Our evening consisted of Pirate Night, dinner at Royal Palace and a viewing of a Broadway style Beauty & the Beast.

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February 25 – Castaway Cay time!!!! My family & I were SO excited to spend our whole day relaxing at Disney’s private island. I plan to do a dedicated post about Castaway Cay so I won’t go into much detail here but it was absolutely beautiful and the BBQ lunch they offer on the island was delicious. This was our last night on the Disney Magic and we spent it having dinner at the Animator’s Palette, which is my favorite restaurant onboard.

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 Overall, no amount of words can describe the magic that is #DisneySMMC. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity. I left the conference feeling refreshed, motivated and excited for what is next for my brand, ready to put into action the new tips I learned and just thankful that I got to experience it all with my family.

[PC: Disney, Photographer: Alex Mirabal and Shareen from Pearls & Paris]

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Greece has always been on my MUST VISIT list, so my husband and I didn’t think twice on making it the destination for our honeymoon. Since we aren’t very traditional, we skipped out on engagement photos and instead decided to do a photoshoot while in Santorini, our first stop in Greece. I use Tripadvisor for all travel related questions before any of my trips, so I posted in one of the forums looking for a photographer but honestly all of the suggestions sent to me just weren’t my style. A few weeks before our honeymoon I got a message from a photographer, RAZMIK. He is based out of Lebanon but would be in Santorini, the same time we would be, shooting a wedding. I checked out his website and I booked him right away! Our day shooting around Oia with Razmik and his wife Rita was nothing short of magical. The photos captured on our honeymoon session are some of my favorite memories.

I highly recommend booking a honeymoon shoot if your budget allows, even if it’s only an hour or two.  We spent a few hours with Razmik, so we left the creativity and locations up to him but if you are short on time, discuss your vision with your photographer. Click HERE to check out RAZMIK’s website. Since he is a traveling photograper he might just be in whatever European city you are visiting.

Here are a few of our favorite shots:

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