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Jun 23
icon1 Susan | icon2 Event, Giveaways | icon4 06 23rd, 2014| icon39 Comments »

What are you doing to make a mark in 2014? Are you looking for something physical, challenging, and can test you in every way imaginable? Say hello to Spartan Race. The race will not only get your heart rate pumping, it will test your stamina and endurance to the max, and even give you a little spa treatment with all the mud that will come your way.

If you’re looking to challenge yourself or even offer something fun for your kids to do that’s rewarding, try taking a stab at this race. I’m going to try my first attempt at it when it comes to the Los Angeles, CA and see if it’s just as fun as it’s excruciatingly painful. I’m also going to see how many friends I can gather to take this challenge head-on, I’m sure it’s an alternative to glamping!

To enter to win a free race during this 2014 Spartan Race season, please enter below. You can also save 10% on your race by entering code SPARTANBLOGGER.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apr 4
icon1 Susan | icon2 Product Review | icon4 04 4th, 2014| icon3No Comments »

Does your child’s hair get tangled often? Do you see knots in their hair? Are they crying and kicking because it’s very painful when you brush? If you said yes to any one of these questions, then I have the solution for you, the Genie Supreme from The Knot Genie.

the knot genie2

After countless times chasing my kids around the house to brush their hair so they didn’t look like they were wandering the streets all night, I had to find another solution for brushing my kids’ hair. I tried over a dozen brushes sold at big box stores and boutiques, and nothing worked. It was a waste of time and money.

I took to the web to find the perfect solution and came across the Knot Genie’s Genie Supreme. I loved the idea and how it looked. I got an inkling that my kids would give it a try because it looked very princess-y and looked like a wand. So I reached out to the folks at Knot Genie and they sent me one to try.

As you can see the packaging is very cute.

knot genie

At first look, my kids thought it was a toy. But then, my older one broke it to my younger one that it was a brush. Since I knew they were horrified from previous experiences, I decided to be the guinea pig. I sat the kids down in front of me and brushed my hair. I was singing and having lots of fun with it, enjoying my inner youth, and they began to beg me to brush their hair. It was a miracle, they didn’t cry nor run away. It was a home run for me!

Thank you, The Knot Genie, for making brushing painless and fun!

Mar 5
icon1 Susan | icon2 Savings Tip (@Savings.com) | icon4 03 5th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

Hey guys! Along with revamping my other blog (my full-time job), I’ve been contributing content for US News & World Report, Ladies Home Journal, More.com and Woman’s Day. If you haven’t had the chance to read them, I will list some below for you to enjoy. As always, thanks for all your support!

You can also see a lot of my Savings.com articles syndicated on all of Cox Target Media properties including AJC, Dayton Daily News, Statesman, radio and tv stations. Also, make sure to check out the awesome new content on savings.com brought to you by some of our amazing writers including Rick Broida, Cheryl Lock, Mike Pearl, Gabi Moskowitz, Grant Pardee and more. You have to see it to believe it!

Feb 24
icon1 Susan | icon2 PTPA Award Winner | icon4 02 24th, 2014| icon3No Comments »
SchoolKidz Teacher Tailored Kit

SchoolKidz Teacher Tailored Kit

Are you familiar with getting your school’s back-to-school list and then dreading the fact you have to go out into the sea to fetch those items? That scenario is one that is common among us parents. The mere fact of dragging the kids around stores to get the items is scary in itself (remember, it’s summer break).

Well, if you’re like me, saving time and energy is the way to go after a long summer of having kids home every day. If you’d like a hassle-free solution to get your school supplies this back-to-school season, look no further than SchoolKidz Teacher Tailored Program. For parents, here are some reasons why you would want to go with this program:

  • Each kit comes personalized with child’s name, school name and grade
  • You can order online
  • Brand-name supplies at affordable costs
  • Save time and energy!

The process takes no longer than 20 minutes total. You input your information including school’s name and then you can create your own list of items you need for your child’s school year. Once you are done adding your items and receive approval, you are pretty much done!

Some items you may find in your kit.

Some items you may find in your kit.

If you’re a parent that’s part of the PTA, you can help raise money by selling these kits. You can set the price on each kit. So let’s say the kit normally costs $35.99, you can price it at $50. The difference of $14.01 would go towards your fundraising efforts. You set how much money you can raise from each kit. Or you can opt to give the savings to the parents by not adding anything additional. It’s completely up to your PTA or your school. You can schedule out when the flyers are distributed to the parents which is usually before summer break starts and you can set a deadline for when the parents can place their orders. You also set the date for when the parents can pick up the kits which is usually right before the school year starts. You control what happens when!

If you’re looking to save some headache, time and energy for yourself, get a kit this year. If you want to raise money for your school, this is another avenue that might be more appealing than your normal “ask a certain amount per family” contribution option.

After last  year’s back-to-school shopping trip which included 3 days of consecutive shopping at 6 different stores and 4 major breakdowns by my kids, this year will be very different as I will be investing in one of these kits (actually 2 since I will have a kindergartner).

ptpa

 

Feb 8
icon1 Susan | icon2 Newsworthy | icon4 02 8th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

Ok. Let me start off by saying, I am not one to judge parenting skills or the way in which you want to raise your kids. That said, I do have a problem when you make careless choices and put your children in harms way.

Of course, “careless choices” can have a variety of meanings depending on who you are.

So here I go…this mom waited at the makeup counter to get her makeup done while her 6 year old and 3 year old sat in a car at 16 degree temperatures, another mom left her children in the car at below 4 degrees to get groceries at Wal-Mart, now this mom left her five children in the car while she shopped for 2 hours, and this mom left her toddler in the car at a boiling 110 degrees while she shopped.

Oh and just to let you know, it’s not a “mom” thing. This father takes the cake as he left his babies in the car while he went gun shopping! His response to the whole ordeal, “Awww”.

There have been instances where parents accidentally left their kids in the cars because they were off-routine and it’s heartbreaking because honestly that can happen to any one of us. But what I’m trying to point out is the careless and conscious act of leaving your young children in cars, in either freezing or boiling temperatures, as you shop (in these instances). What are your thoughts on this matter?

Jan 25
icon1 Susan | icon2 Family Vacation, PTPA | icon4 01 25th, 2014| icon3No Comments »

If you’ve been following day 1 and day 2 of our trip at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa, you now know that they offer a one-stop shop for family fun. If you’re a mom or dad, day 3 is what you’ve been waiting for. Sadly, it was our last full-day before we had to leave and the poor kids were still sick.

Although I was feeling a lot better than the previous day, I opted to skip breakfast and instead, drink some green tea.  I took a short walk to Spa Avania for my 90 minute hot stone massage (Scottsdale is well known all around the world for their luxury spas, so I had very high hopes).

spaaviani

My reservation was about an hour after my arrival, so opted to look around. Here is what you see at the woman’s entrance.

spaavaniafront

The first place I darted to was the eucalyptus steam room. I attempted to take a picture, but you only see fog so opted for this image.

spasteam

I also tried the sauna which I usually love, but I started to dry cough, so I left.

spasauna

After trying out all the amenities, I went to the relaxation room to meet my massage therapist.

sparelaxation

I had the best massage therapist, who really listened to me and what my body was going through. If you’ve never tried a hot stone massage, you must try it. It’s by far the best experience I’ve ever had and guess what, I completely fell asleep (I never fall asleep during massages).

spahotstone

With the relaxing music called sunrise and aromatherapy oil called fresh, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

spamusic

After the massage was over, I headed into the hot tub. There was also a cold pool next to it.

spahottub

I couldn’t leave without checking out the mineral pool.

spamineral

It was so wonderfully sunny outside, I had to drink a nice organic blueberry with acai tea poolside…

spatea

…followed by a nice barbeque salmon with jicama salad and watermelon detox juice. Again the staff was attentive and very accommodating.

spasalmon

I then headed back to my room to check on my kids. My older one wanted to check out the birds of prey flight presentation, so we were able to sit around for about 10 minutes. The first bird we got to see was the American Eagle.

hyattbird

We also got to see the Peregrine Falcon.

hyattfalcon

Before the show ended, we headed back to the room and I got ready to go to Noh solo, for my 6 course Omakase menu. My kids and mom who were coughing and lethargic, stayed back and got in-room dining.

noh

When I got there, they were all prepared and ready to go.

nohfront

Chef Marc and Nicole were amazing (one of the best service I received in a long time). They started me off with a house-made green tea.

nohstart

First course: Salmon tartare with fried salmon skin on top of Sunomono salad with toasted sesame seeds.

noh1

The second course: A medley of tuna sashimi, garlic chips, edible flowers and eel sauce.

noh2

Third course: Hamachi, grapefruit, shredded daikon, on top a bed of wakame.

noh3

Fourth course: Beautiful clam soup with potatoes and scallions. Perfect for how I was feeling.

noh4

Fifth course: Pan seared scallops, sauteed mushrooms on top of fava bean puree (puree was divine).

noh5

Sixth course (Dessert): Green tea coconut milk Panna cotta, glazed mangoes and ginger cookies (all dairy free, completely vegan). They knew that I had a dairy allergy ahead of time, so they created a menu specifically for me and it was fabulous!

noh6

This sums up day 3. All I have to say is that the level of service was above and beyond my expectations. Because we were gravely ill, the staff did everything possible to make us comfortable and welcomed.  While we were limited on our activities, I couldn’t think of a better place to have the flu because it was 5 star service. My family and I will definitely come back when it’s not flu season!

(Thank you to Ann Lane, Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations and the staff at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa for all the spectacular accommodations and making things work when we were sick.)

Jan 24
icon1 Susan | icon2 Family Vacation, PTPA | icon4 01 24th, 2014| icon3No Comments »

If you had the chance to check out day 1 of our trip at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, I’m sure you’re back to find out what else the resort has to offer. I can tell you that the offerings are limitless.

Our morning began with a light European breakfast at the Regency Club lounge which also offers afternoon snacks, drinks and evening hors d’oeuvres. We kept it light by eating an assortment of strawberries and melons.

hyattclub

After we ate breakfast, we took a walk around the resort to see what they had to offer. Everywhere we went, the scenery was amazing. The best part was this serene lake behind the resort.

hyattlake

My children also wanted to check out the swimming pool area because it’s usually their favorite part of the trip (poor things were sad that they couldn’t swim because they were sick).

hyatt swimming

I liked the fact that the resort offered an adult only pool and an open pool for everyone. For the adult area, it offered a Grotto bar and a beautiful pool with wonderful lounging areas.

hyatt adult

Of course the open pool that was filled with families was a lot more fun, considering that it had a ginormous waterslide.

hyattwaterslide

After discovering the many pool areas, we decided to continue our walk through the resort. We then found the Native American Learning Center located on the second floor of the resort.

hyattnative

There was so much information about the Native American history and we loved seeing all the different art pieces.

hyattart

After we walked out of the Native American Learning Center, we came across Canyon Market which is the resort’s market that sells everything from gelato, coffee, snacks to gift items.

hyattmarket

Look at some of the desserts they offer.

hyattdesserts

The gelato offerings…

hyattgelato

They also offer many other things including gift items.

hyattother

After a few hours of discoveries, it was time for the kids to head to Camp Hyatt. The camp is offered for kids ages 3-12 so that parents can also have some alone time.

hyattcamp

We finally arrived to the entrance of Camp Hyatt.

hyattcampsign

The kids immediately began their craft project and we (the adults) were out the door.

hyattcraft

And of course the fun began. We headed to H2Oasis for some poolside dining.

hyatth2

My mom and I were still not feeling all that wonderful, so we ordered something light. I ordered a shrimp salad.

hyattshrimp

My mom ordered a chicken panini with a side of house-made potato salad.

hyattchicken

After lunch and a brief period to rest, we picked up my girls and headed to the gondola area.

hyattgondola

What a gondola ride looks like from afar.

hyattgondolaride

With the beautiful sounds of Italian opera and a view to die for, it topped off this year’s Thanksgiving.

hyattgondolaview

Once our wonderful ride ended, we rushed to Thanksgiving dinner. It was a buffet lined up with anything imaginable.

hyattThanksgiving

Some mashed potatoes and turkey.

hyattmashed

Salmon and grilled vegetables.

hyattsalmon

Another area filled with fruits and assortments.

hyattotherfood

The kids didn’t have an appetite, so my mom and I ate about a half a plate and ended up leaving. The food that we did get to taste was great. It was a wonderful end to the 2nd day of our trip.

If you want to learn more about the other half of the resort, come back tomorrow when I get a hot stone massage at Spa Avania.

Jan 23
icon1 Susan | icon2 Family Vacation, PTPA | icon4 01 23rd, 2014| icon3No Comments »

If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for family fun, you must check out Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa. The Hyatt brand is well known throughout the world, but it’s not only for corporate travels. The Hyatt Resorts is a place where families can enjoy a true vacation without leaving to go anywhere.

For PTPA, I had the great opportunity to travel to their Scottsdale location with all accommodations paid for (this does not affect my opinion).

The drive from Los Angeles was approximately 6.5 hours which was filled with unexpected twist and turns. The long drive ended up with 2 sick children, vomiting here and there, but I guess you have to expect that when you travel. By the time we arrived, we were all sick. But it was all worth it when we were greeted by a picturesque resort that quickly became a slice of paradise in the desert.

scottsdalemain

For check-in, the folks at the front were amazing. They were very quick which was helpful since I had 2 cranky kids and dealing with my own illness. They provided us with a suite that took over one whole side of the executive boardroom area. There’s nothing like being sick, VIP style.

We entered our suite and the spoiling started. We had our own living room with a big screen TV, a few different sitting areas, a wet bar, a huge bathroom and 2 balconies with amazing views.

scottsdalefront

Our living room turned out to be a big hangout area for my kids. Very chic with clean lines and functional for our family.

hyattliving

This picture does not do justice but the bathroom was nicely designed and I loved the fact that they had TOTO brand toilets which are my favorite.

hyattbathroom1

The wet bar and entertainment area turned out to be an area we used a lot. We were constantly heating water for our throat teas.

hyattwetbar

To welcome our stay, the resort brought in a fruit bowl, wine, chips with their signature guacamole and 2 different salsas, juices, water, 2 Canyon Market water bottles and 2 stuffed animals for my kids (piggy and turtle) which came with books starring those animals.

hyattwelcome

The fun did not stop there. We had two separate bedroom areas on the opposite ends of the suite.  They each had their own bathroom (we had a total of 3 bathrooms), fridges, closets, sitting area and TVs. One room came with double beds and the other had a king size bed.

hyattdouble

After we settled into our room, it was time to head down for our reservation at the resort’s Italian restaurant, Alto ristorante e bar. My mom stayed back in the room with my youngest one because she was still feeling very queasy, so I took my older one with me.

alto

My daughter ordered Build-Your-Own pizza. They brought out a pizza base with a bunch of toppings she could add to it.

altopizza

I was still feeling very queasy as well, so I ordered a very light dinner which included a soup, a small plate of scallops and assorted olives. The fagioli zuppe was the perfect soup for how I was feeling. Very hearty, warm and easy on the stomach.

altosoup

If I wasn’t so sick I would have finished this plate and probably licked it too. The capasante bruciato featured pan seared sea scallops with spicy heirloom tomato jam and basil oil.

altoscallops

I of course ordered assorted olives because I love olives. It had bold flavors and again I wished I could have eaten more than 2 olives.

altoolives

Another thing I must mention was the level of service. Once the server found out that my one child and mom did not make it to dinner, he had food delivered directly to our room. I thought it was very thoughtful and an amazing example of top-notch hospitality.

When we all got sick on our drive to the resort, I was worried that my trip would end before it even started. With the help of the staff, we were comfortable, taken care of and having fun (that says a lot when the whole family was feeling blah).

If you’re interested in knowing what else they offer, check back tomorrow to see what we did on day 2 of our stay. It includes a gondola ride, Camp Hyatt and more!

Dec 18
icon1 Susan | icon2 Experiences | icon4 12 18th, 2013| icon3No Comments »

I’ve been a member of American Express Gold Card since 2001. I have some major history with it, including using it for my travels to Korea, getting ready for my babies, using it to pay my hospital co-pays and even childcare. Here is my story, what is yours?

membersince

 

Nov 21
icon1 Susan | icon2 Event | icon4 11 21st, 2013| icon3No Comments »

bluenile

Is jewelry high on your shopping list or wishlist for Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Most people end up buying jewelry during the holidays because they’re able to score the best deals during that time, especially in the month of December.

Blue Nile wants to kick it up a notch by offering 50% off select jewelry including diamond tennis bracelets, diamond bands and diamond hoop earrings for Black Friday (from 11/27-11/29). Plus, they are offering 40% off select premier diamond stud earrings on Cyber Monday (December 2nd).

I think it’s about time to buy anniversary gifts, birthday gifts and maybe even an engagement?

 

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