Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bouchard Chocolate Cheesecake Bites- Product Review






 i was invited to review some Belgium chocolate cheesecakes bites, so how could i say no? :) The whole family helped to test and review these and they got a unanimous double thumbs up. They are seriously delicious!!



Bouchard chocolates has been perfecting the art of chocolate making from the historical city Ghent, Belgium since 1931. The box contains three different flavors. Dulce de Leche, Strawberry and chocolate fudge. These are perfect for those moments when you just want to indulge.  



The chocolate is crisp when you first bite in, and then super smooth, melt in your mouth goodness.
They would make a wonderful Mother's day gift. (hint, hint) They are all so good, i can't even pick a favorite.

 You can find Cheesecake Bites this spring at your local Walgreens. they retail for around $10 a box.  Visit the website for more information about Bouchard chocolates. https://www.bouchardchocolate.com

i received this product at no cost in exchange for my honest review, i was not compensated.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring Break- Frida Kahlo at The Dali, St. Pete

One of the best and unplanned parts of our Spring break, was getting to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at The Dali museum.  Kenan mentioned wanting to take the boy to the Dali, and having been there before many years ago i said i didn't need to go. i had no idea that they had a new building, and i was picturing the little museum i had visited probably 20 years ago. 

On the morning they planned to go, i decided completely last minute that i might as well go too. My girl was planning to stay home with Nana, but she too decided to come along.


So you can imagine my surprise when we walked up and i saw this gigantic museum! To add to the excitement, i comepltely freaked out when i saw that there was a Frida Kahlo exhibit on disply. i absolutely love Frida Kahlo and would have been so disappointed if i had stayed home and then found out her work was on exhibit! 


The new building is a work of art in itself. *The Dali’s stunning new building was designed by architect Yann Weymouth of HOK, it combines the rational with the fantastical: a simple rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls out of which erupts a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the “enigma”. The Enigma, which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, a twenty-first century homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s museum in Spain.


Inside, the Museum houses another unique architectural feature – a helical staircase – recalling Dali’s obsession with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule.


The museum offers self guided, audio tours. they provide an ipod and headset, and as you move from piece to piece, you click on the picture on the ipod and it narrates the corresponding story.  It was interesting, but i honestly found it a little distracting. i would have rather just read the info myself. i suppose it's helpful for when the museum is very busy, you don't have to wait for your chance to get close enough to read the info about each painting.


As we were getting our headsets from the front counter i asked the woman working if we were allowed to take pictures. Often times cameras are not aloud in museums. She told me that no pictures were aloowed inside the Frida Kahlo exhibit, and you could take photos (no flash) in the Salvador Dali exhibit.  So we snapped pictures on the outside before entering the exhibit.


Once inside the Frida exhibit, i immediately noticed that EVERYONE was taking pictures. There were museum staff standing right there, and smiling and seemed to have no problem with it. Several people were even using their flash and the museum staff, standing right there,  didn't say a thing. There were also no signs anywhere saying not to take photos.

So after we finished the Frida Exhibit, i went back and took one photo. :) 


The Salvador Dali exhibit was amazing. i was surprised how small some of the paintings were, and how large others were. He detail work on the small painting is just unbelievable. 


The audio tour does provide a lot of information about the Dali's life and work. It was a very enjoyable museum to visit for the entire family. For kids, there is the Mustache tour treasure hunt.  It's the family friendly version of the audio tour, and they win a prize for completing the treasure hunt. The only downside of it, is that the mustache tour didn't include all the paintings, and my daughter wanted to rush through the treasure hunt to get her prize, so i ended up missing some of the information from the regular tour trying to keep up with her.


After we finished up in the museum, we went outside to the gardens. There is a tree with ropes hanging down that are covered in admission bracelets. So we took ours off and added them to the tree. There is also a hedge maze and there was a tribute garden for Frida Kahlo.


They also have a nice gift shop, with souvenirs in all price ranges. The Dali Museum was a really neat experience. i'm so glad i decided to tag along last minute. i would have been devastated to miss the Frida exhibit, and see the new museum. Definitely add it to your to do list next time you visit the St. Pete area! 



*See more at: http://thedali.org/about-the-museum/the-building/#sthash.iXdWOMon.dpuf

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Break 2017- Bradenton/Anna Marie Island

Spring break in Florida!  This year we decided to take a quick trip down to Florida to visit with my parents over the kids spring break. They ony get 2 days off for spring break, the Friday before and the Monday after Easter. We took them out of school Thursday and Tues, so we had a little more time to enjoy the break. It still ended up being a very quick trip.

 The first day we drove around 6 hours, and stayed the night in Savannah. The next morning we headed to Leesburg to visit my 79 year old Grandma.


Since we were just stopping for a few hours we brought pizza and pie, so she didn't have to worry about cooking. After eating we went down to the pool house and the kids spent an hour enjoying the pool while we sat around a visited. It was great to see my grandma and a nice break from all the driving. After leaving my grandmother's we headed on to Bradenton, where my parents live 6 months of the year.  It's only about 2 hours from my grandma, so we arrived Thursday evening.


The next morning we got up early and headed to the beach! Anna Marie Island is just across the bridge from Bradenton. We like to go to Coquina beach.  If you get there in the morning, it's really not that busy. 


The water is crystal clear and quite shallow, so i could let the kids play in the water without worrying too much. While they were swimming, a school of fish came close to them and then pelicans began diving all around them scooping up the fish.  It was a pretty neat thing to observe.


We spent a few hours on the beach with my mom, then headed back to their house for lunch. The kids enjoyed the pool at the clubhouse, while Kenan and i tried to recover from the drive. After dinner, we headed back to Anna Marie Island to enjoy the sunset.


This was taken at Bradenton beach. There are beaches all down this strip and fun little shell shops and touristy stuff. We were looking for a relaxing low key vacation, and the beach was just what we needed. 



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring at Panther Creek

Ever spring we visit Panther Creek, which is just a few miles from us in Dugspur, VA.  


The creek here is actually Big Reed Island Creek, and the road is called Panther Creek rd. Panther Creek is a smaller creek, that parallels the road for a while then connects up with the Greasy creek, which then connects to Big Reed Island.  The 'thinking rock' is a popular spot among locals. It's easy to climb up on it, it's relatively flat on top and the views of the creek are amazing. 


The area is always pretty, but in early spring Wild Phlox blooms on the rock faces. It's a pretty spectacular drive.  



It's hard to capture it in a photo, but the phlox is different shades of pink and sometimes white and covers the rocks. 



There is a place to pull over and trails that follow another small creek and cascading falls up into the mountain.  It's a really wonderful place to hike, but it's not uncommon to come across rattlesnakes here.  There are lots of native wildflowers that come up in this area, which is why it is one of my favorite places to hike.  This is wild columbine.


Wild Bleeding heart is a favorite that i rarely come across. So it's always a pleasure to see it growing here wild. 


Photographed my first Eastern Tiger Swallowtail of the season here. They were loving the wild Phlox. This is such an beautiful area to drive and hike, but when the phlox is blooming it's truly spectacular. We make point of coming here every spring to see it.

We have lived in Virginia for 17 years now, and we still feel so blessed to be here. i'm still completely fascinated by all the different fauna and flora of the area and never take any of it for granted.  In my humble opinion, there is just no place better than the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Spring hiking and Staying Hydrated- Sunshack Hydration Backpack Review



Yesterday, the boy and i went on an afternoon hike. It's so hard to stay out of the woods when it's this pretty out! i love exploring and looking for new wildflowers and mushroom spots. We Hiked down to the creek with the dogs and visited a couple of my favorite morel spots.



Blood root and bluets are blooming. Trillium is up, but not flowering yet.


i found these brand new morels coming up in one of our spots. They are brand new, the largest one is less than an inch tall. SO i covered them up with leaves, marked the spot and am going to go back and check them again in a few days.  The soil temperatures have been warm all week, but it's pretty dry.  i think if we were to get a rain shower the morels will start popping up everywhere!



Sequoia wanted to try out his new #Hydrationbackpack by #SunShack. i actually got this for him to use during band camp, as he had mentioned how hot it is and they don't get a lot of water breaks.  This one is really lightweight and comfortable. It holds 2L of water, and also has a zippered pocket to hold some small personal items. This will come in really handy during our summer hikes on the AT and also good for bike riding. i always have the kids bring water bottles, and somehow i always end up carrying them all!  Now, he'll have no excuses for not carrying his own water.


My boy is very pleased with this SunShack Hydration Backpack available here. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M1KLBCW 

The company is Australian owned. It's made from waterproof honeycomb ripstop fabric and the water bladder is BPA free.It also features an insulating hose cover for prevention of freezing and overheating in extreme conditions. Dynamic 360 degree, removable bite valve for hand-washing and first-aid and high visibility reflective back strips.

It's great for jogging, hiking, biking and any outside activity where you need to take water with you.


*i received this product at no cost in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.  My opinions are my own. i was not compensated.
#freeforreview #hikinggear #cyclinggear #productreviewer #stayhydrated