1.30.2013

Could it be "Pittakioniphobia?" : A Sticky, Southern Tale

Sometimes, it is hard to believe that two children who came out of the same womb can be so different.

Photo by:  Rebekah Tozer Photography

My son has never liked stickers or stamps. In early childhood education classes, he would run away if any teacher tried to give him a sticker or stamp his body.  He deplores them.  The teachers would look at me puzzled.

I would shrug my shoulders and repeat every time, “Yeah, he’s not a fan of stickers!”  I would encourage him to say “No, thank you!” instead of embarrassing me with a big, fat, exasperated no that would usually come from his mouth angrily.

My other child, on the other hand, could cover her entire body in tattoos, and stickers, and then sleep in them if she could. She became potty-trained simply out of her love of receiving owl stickers. She is always the first in line to receive a sticker or stamp after participating in any event that they are given out.  She is obsessed.

Does she dance just to get stickers?

Let’s just say that her like of stickers and his dislike of stickers are creating a sticky mess in the Hines house.

You know that preschool art is basically just a showcase of what can my child do with stickers.  We have stickers everywhere.  Sometimes, she will even put a sticker on my husband and me.  Who knows? We may even have a sticker on our behinds right now, and not even know it.

Will was wearing a June sticker from “Little Einsteins”   on the front of his shirt as he sat down for dinner last week.

The non-sticker fan in the family immediately spotted the blonde girl on his shirt. “Seriously, get that off your shirt now!”

He proceeded to not sit at the dinner table until his dad removed the sticker. This is not an isolated case.  We say he’s being silly, but he sticks his ground.

The infamous sticker hat

My daughter came home Friday with this dinosaur hat decorated with stickers.  She wanted to wear it at the dinner table. We have a no hat rule, of course, but we sat the hat near us in the room. The hat was in my son’s view.

He couldn’t stand it.  He had to get it out of his view. We think he’s being a little melodramatic, but is he?  

We’ve not gotten a note from elementary school saying your child acts like a lunatic around stickers, but he certainly does at home.  His reaction to a sticker is almost the same as if someone made me hold a snake.

That got me to thinking. Could he have a sticker phobia? Is there such a thing?

The sticker-hater who just lost another front tooth.

I’m still not convinced that he’s not putting some of his school’s acting lessons to good use when he views a sticker, but good old “google” has told me that people do exist who have sticker phobias.

One doctor has termed it, “Pittakionophobia.”

The real test is whether or not my son will wear a band-aid.  He will.  He doesn’t love it, but he’ll do it.  He’ll also eat a banana with a Dole sticker on it.  

So maybe he has a minor phobia of stickers, but in reality, I think he just likes to aggravate his little sister, and create a family squabble.

Of course, I can only hope that this little bizarre dislike of anything on his body will mean that his body will remain tattoo-free once he’s living away from me.

I’m a little worried about the youngest one though.  She could be a problem.

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1.27.2013

Buying, Selling, and Swapping Kid’s Clothes/Toys with Valet Service with Swap.Com {A Review}

Like most parents, I have bought a lot of clothes through the years.  Some get totally worn out or ruined.  Let’s not even talk about my daughter cutting her brand new Tea leggings yesterday with scissors.  She put a big, fat hole in them on purpose testing to see if scissors cut fabric. 

Guess what? Scissors cut fabric. It makes me want to cry. But thank God events like that only happen once in a blue moon because, surprisingly, I learn from my mistakes.

The majority of the clothes my children have worn are in great shape with no scissor holes.
I do donate outgrown clothes or give them to a friend who has a younger child, but the majority of the time they are in piles sitting in a spare closet collecting dust.  And I’m always buying the next size of clothes or toys for the next stage in life.



In December, I was contacted by a new online service for selling your children’s clothing/toys or swapping your kid’s items for other items that you like.  It’s called Valet Service with Swap.Com. They wanted me to review this new and convenient service that is designed to make life easier.  You simply pack up your items, ship the package to them, they take the photos for you, and you set the prices for the items you want to sell.  And if you prefer, you can swap items rather than getting a cash payout for items you submitted.

 It all sounded easy, but I was hesitant. I thought packing up items and shipping them to the service sounded like a hassle.  I almost turned down the job.

But then a friend emailed and said, “Do you want a Janie and Jack peacoat for the Diva? I tried to take it to the consignment store locally, but they wanted only $3 for it. That is ridiculous.”

Right then, I decided to test Valet Service with Swap.com, and I’ve been testing it all month.

Trying out Valet Service with Swap.com


I packed up a Lilly Pulitzer dress in a size 2T.
I packed up a few things to send to Valet Service, including a Gap sweater that my daughter had barely worn, a Lilly Pulitzer dress, and a Bailey Boys one-piece for a toddler.  In a few days, they had taken professional photos, and I was ready to set my prices: sell or swap.

I think I set my prices too high because nothing sold right away.  I set the Lilly Pulitzer dress for $14.  The other items were priced below $10.

I decided to look further into swapping items.  I needed a pair of ballet slippers in an 8T.  They had one pair of ballet slippers, and it was an 8T.   Talk about meant to be. I swapped my daughter’s red sweater for the ballet slippers.  I paid $2 for shipping, and the ballet slippers arrived in a few days nicely packaged. We’ve been using them for dance class.  I was pleased.


The ballet shoes arrived within a day or two of the order, and were in good condition.
I also saw a cute Hanna Andersson red velour dress in 3T. I decided to put it in my queue for my swapping "wish list". I could have bought it immediately for $12 but decided not to do so. I decided to wait it out to see if I could swap the item.

The next week, I dropped the Lilly Pulitzer dress price to $10 and the Bailey Boys romper to $7.  Soon afterward, I got an email congratulating me because the red Hanna Andersson dress was now mine.  I could either sell it or ship the dress to me.  That meant another customer either wanted to swap their item for my Lilly dress, or they bought my dress for $10.  The red dress is on its way to my house. The Bailey Boys romper is still for sale. 

My Valet Service with Swap.Com Findings
  • ·         The company is reputable, professional, and trustworthy.
  • ·         The company rates your items: Like new, or new with tags, good, and fair.  I accidentally sent in a baby hat that was missing a part. They found it and refused to sell it.  That’s good because they make sure the items are in good shape.
  • ·         You can make returns for any reason.
  •          The seller sets the price, so some clothing items are priced very reasonably and well below the asking price of consignment stores that sell upscale children’s clothing. For example, there is a Mini-Boden sweatshirt for a boy listed in good condition for just $6.  That’s really reasonable, since that sweatshirt was probably $35 to $50 new. 
  •          They bundle some of the seller’s items together to get a better price.  I’m not a fan of this because I may not like all the clothes in the bundle and only want the one item that I like. But for bargain hunters, you can’t beat it. They currently have a girl’s bundle of clothes in size six that includes items from Gap, Ralph Lauren, and Gymboree, all listed in good condition for just $6.  That’s a lot of clothes for $6.
  •          If you sell, buy, and swap a lot, it will cost you in shipping, so you will need to price items accordingly and remember that a swap will cost you some money in shipping. That could add up over time.
  •          Don’t send boutique items without labels. I sent in some handmade booties that a boutique sold for $20. They were barely worn, and the company didn’t even think they could get $3 for them, which is the minimum price you can set for an item.
  •          Study what is for sale on the site, and consider the buyers. In the South, a Bailey Boys romper that retails for $70 new would be snatched up in a heartbeat for $7. So far, not one customer sees that as a bargain.

I’m glad I tested the service, and I do recommend it as a way to sell your children’s items or swap items that you no longer need for things you do need.




If you decide to use the Valet Service with Swap.com, tell them that the Hines-Sight Blog sent you.  I’m giving you a free shipping discount code for shipping kids' items to the Swap.com Valet Service. The code is valid for 30 days.

Go clean out your closets!


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own. 

1.24.2013

Quaint Towns and Skiing in Canaan Valley, West Virginia

Do you like to ski? Raleigh blogger Chana Lynn recently vacationed in Canaan Valley, West Virginia. Her photos were so great from her trip that I asked her to share her travels with us today.  This rural area of West Virginia looks beautiful, and like me, Chana can always find a good brew or cup of coffee about everywhere she goes.  And this may be all the snow I see this year. Enjoy!  Leigh

Just about every year around Christmas time, we pack up the car and leave Raleigh in search of “whiter” pastures.  This search often has us heading Northwest to Canaan Valley, West Virginia. Quite rural, and almost untamed, this area is a diamond in the rough. We have been going to Canaan for the last ten years and it remains truly “wild and wonderful”. We enjoy spending time “off the grid” here every year.

Picturesque Canaan Valley, WV near Timberline Ski Resort 

The drive from Raleigh to Timberline is around 7 hours, but most of the drive is highway until the last couple of hours. There are lots of great places to stop for breaks on the highway including Richmond, Charlottesville, Wintergreen area and Harrisonburg. Once you hit Canaan Valley, the McDonald’s and Starbucks give way to beautiful pastures, forests and farmland.

Canaan Valley includes two ski resorts in very close proximity to each other.  Canaan Valley Ski Resort and Timberline Ski Resort. They are within a mile or so of each other. We are partial to Timberline because our family has a place up on the mountain. 



There are lots of rentals and a new slope side hotel for lodging. We have always skied at Timberline but we often take some time at Canaan for some fun snow tubing and ice skating. Canaan Valley’s snow tubing park has just completed a major renovation, and has its grand re-opening January 2013!


 Skiing at Timberline is a little like stepping back in time. It’s not fancy or high tech, but there is a good variety of slopes to ski and the resort is ideal for families with young skiers. Our girls have grown up learning to ski here and have enjoyed getting their bearings here in preparation for that dream ski trip out West some day. The best thing about Timberline is they have the longest green/beginner trail in the Mid-Atlantic called Salamander that is two miles long and provides amazing views from the top and a great run down the mountain. Timberline offers nice accommodations where you can actually ski right onto the slopes. In the Summer months, Timberline offers horseback riding, mountain bike trails, golf, canoeing on the lake and much more.



 If you are into Cross-country skiing, White Grass is a great place with great trails near both Timberline and Canaan Valley. They also are home to an amazing little café with all natural, local dishes served up in a cozy little space. Delicious, organic meals are their specialty.

It’s not just the skiing, sledding and snow tubing that brings us here every year in the Winter (all seasons are amazing here by the way!!), it’s also the two local towns of Davis and Thomas. We always make time to drive into the quaint post-industrial towns of Davis and Thomas every time we are up here. It’s about a ten mile drive from the ski resorts, but well worth it.

DAVIS, WV

Siriannis Cafe in Davis, WV

In Davis, we make our usual stop for pizza at Siriannis. Located on the main drag, they offer up delicious specialty pizza and local craft beer on tap. The place is very homey and it’s always a warm cozy spot on a freezing cold winter evening! The place can get very busy during the ski season and they do not take reservations. First come first served! They also DO NOT take credit cards, and it’s important to know that so you don’t get stuck driving across town looking for an ATM! But, try and make time for lunch or dinner there, it’s delicious. Davis also offers Hellbenders Burritos and Boomtown Java for your specialty coffees.

THOMAS, WV

The Purple Fiddle in Thomas, WV


Just about two miles further from Davis is the town of Thomas. Lots to fill an afternoon or evening here!

Purple Fiddle is a highlight in downtown Thomas. “The Fiddle” always has high quality live music lined up and their food is delicious. Local micro brews are on tap and fabulous homemade ice cream make this a must stop for the whole family. 

Tip Top Cafe in Thomas, WV
Depending on the weather, there is indoor and outdoor seating.  Just down from the Purple Fiddle is a new place called Tip Top Café. They are a wine bar, coffee bar and also serve up a small menu of tasty treats. They do a great job of offering up fresh, quality food and drink. There are several other new food, drink and shopping establishments starting to pop up along the main drag nearby such as Gargantuan Emporium and Flying Pigs Cafe that we look forward to checking out during our next visit.

Before leaving Thomas, you have to make a quick stop at Blackwater Falls. Winter or any season, these Falls are a fun and easy hike down the path where you can view the Falls from several vantage points. In the Winter they are generally frozen over and very cool to see. In the Summer the water comes gushing over the Falls and the cool spray is a welcome relief on hot sunny days. Kids can hike this easily and lots of photo ops here. Bribe them with some ice cream from the Fiddle if you must! 

Mountain State Brewing

  After the hike, you may need to refuel and hydrate, so consider stopping off at Mountain State Brewing for an excellent craft beer off the taps. We often fill a growler to take back to the cabin with us. Winter hours can be a little tricky, so check their hours on Facebook or their website before stopping by the brewery. Fill up a growler or have a drink at the bar. We always end up having some great conversations with other folks and we have had many fun, unexpected adventures here in the Summer or the Winter.

If you enjoy handmade crafty items, nearby MountainMade is worth a stop. Local crafters and artisans offer up beautiful art, jewelry, ceramics, food, textiles, etc. This is a great place to stop and pick up a unique gift or simply something to remember your mountain trip.

Artistic benches in Thomas, WV


Overall, if you are looking for an opportunity to truly get away from it all, leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind for a few days and discover Canaan Valley. It is definitely worth the drive to make your escape to this beautiful WV mountain destination and reacquaint yourself with a renewed appreciation for a slower pace and natural beauty.



WANT TO GO:


Chana Lynn has lived in Raleigh for the past 12 years working as a Web Designer and Social Media Consultant for several local businesses. Besides working with clients to improve their web and online presence, she is also the creator of RaleighWhatsUp.com, a blog about the latest happenings in Raleigh regarding restaurants, breweries, boutiques, music and other fun city events! Supporting the local businesses is a critical part of making Raleigh the hip and trendy city it is quickly becoming! When not pinning or tweeting, she keeps busy with two active girls, loves traveling, interior design, and spending time with friends and family. Follow her on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @RaleighWhatsUp.

1.22.2013

Have Lunch Courtesy of Me for Mimi's Cafe Wear Red Day on February 1st (Giveaway)

I invite you to wear some red, and have lunch on me at a Mimi's Cafe near you. I'm giving away two $25 e-gift certificates courtesy of the restaurant so you, too, can wear red and support the American Heart Association.  I participated in this campaign last year, and revealed to you all that hypertension runs in my family.  I take a blood pressure pill daily. It's just in the genes, but I can control it better with the right diet, and exercise. 

Put on anything in your closet that is red, and support this great cause!




Mimi’s Cafe is raising awareness throughout February, American Heart Month, by participating in the American Heart Association’s mission to turn America red. In its second year supporting Go Red for Women, Mimi’s is dedicated to shout louder and stand stronger for the fight against heart disease, the number one killer of women.

Beginning on the 10th National Wear Red Day, February 1st, Mimi’s will recognize guests who show their support by wearing red with a FREE cup of signature soup. Throughout the month, guests that donate $1 will receive a red heart-shaped tribute card to inscribe and post on a giant in-restaurant red dress display. A limited-edition sparkle red dress lapel pin will be given to those giving a $5 donation. As a thank you for every donation, donors will receive up to $30 in Mimi’s savings. Every Tuesday throughout the month, Mimi’s will thank  guests that donate with a cup of FREE soup.

A winner was drawn at random on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 at 9 P.M. EST. 

CONGRATULATIONS to Elena and KeAnne!


Look for a Mimi's location near you.





Disclosure: I, too, will receive a $25 gift certificate to have lunch at Mimi's Cafe. 

1.20.2013

Desserts, Beer, Fast Cars, and Other N.C. Travel Planning News

Go ahead and grab a cup of tea or coffee for this post because I’ve got lots to share.  It seems life is getting crazier in the Hines house, and I have even less time to write on top of my weekly News and Observer and Skimbaco Lifestyle deadlines. Writing is kind of like exercise.  If I don’t get it done in the morning, then it doesn’t get done. Period.

I’ve really tried to get back into an exercise routine in 2013 because, as you know, I like to eat like this.

It was a beautiful January day to enjoy an outdoor lunch at Raleigh Times Bar.
Raleigh Times Bar on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh was the perfect spot to watch Raleigh’s 2013 inaugural parade.  My son’s Tiger Cub troop was invited to march in the parade, and on this abnormally warm Saturday for North Carolina, I had lunch outdoors.  In January.  I couldn’t believe it.  By far, it was the best seat on the parade route, and being about to enjoy a coffee mocha stout and strawberry tres leche cake made it even more enjoyable.

Pat McCrory is North Carolina's new Governor. 


I’m also excited to announce that April is going to be N.C. Beer Month.  Truthfully, I believe every month should be “beer month,” but North Carolina will host a month-long tourism promotion that will feature offerings such as gourmet prix fixe menus, beer pairings and chef dinners, beer-themed cooking classes, educational beer programs, hotel and tour packages, festivals and special events. You can learn more at www.ncbeermonth.com when the site launches in February.  Talk about hot off the press!

Sean Lilly Wilson, founder of Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, NC (right) and Page Skelton, originator of Cackalacky Sauce based in Chapel HIll, NC are collaborating on a new NC craft beer that will be on draft at Fullsteam 1/27.

North Carolina has more than 70 craft breweries in operation, and FullSteam Brewery in Durham is a local favorite.  Its winter brew, First Frost, just won the national “2013 Good Food” award. At the TerraVita tasting event last year, I really loved FullSteam’s Beasley’s Honey White, which is available only at the brewery and Beasley’s Honey + Chicken in Raleigh, but will be in bottles this summer.  Yea!  I think it will be great on my screened porch in the summer.  This week, the brewery will debut a new special brew called “Fullsteam’s Cackalacky Ginger Pale Ale.”  Cackalacky is a spicy, sweet potato-based sauce made locally in Chapel Hill.  Last year, I made a great veggie dip using the sauce.  The beer is spiced with ginger rather than the sauce, but it bear the Cackalacky name.  I’m going to get a taste of this new Cackalacky brew on Friday, and it will go on tap for the first time on Sunday, Jan. 27, with a special launch party from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 726 Rigsbee Avenue.  The public is invited to attend.

The Taste of the Outer Banks is one of the top 10 seafood and wine events in the country. 

Food and beach lovers, mark your calendars for the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach on March 14-17.  Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, there will cooking classes, brewery tours and tastings, multi-course fine wine dinners, oyster roasts, new N.C. BBQ Showdown, tapas crawls, beer-pairing dinners, and much more! The event is sponsored by the Dare County Restaurant Association.  Coastal Living Magazine has named the event as one of the Top 10 Seafood and Wine Festivals in the U.S.A.  Here is a listof the some of the food events that are now available for purchase.  You can also order the Outer Banks’ new 2013 vacation guide to help you plan your Outer Banks vacation.  I think I may start planning mine, too.  This is an area of North Carolina that I’ve never really explored.

Downtown Wilmington is a lovely place to take a carriage ride.  The beaches are less than 20-minutes away. 

If you are star struck, then Wilmington, N.C., is a place you will want to visit this year.  Known as “Wilmywood” by the locals, three motion pictures filmed in the Port City will be released this year.  Nicholas Sparks’ “SafeHaven” will open on Valentine’s Day. The 8-year-old actress Mimi Kirkland, who plays Josh Duhamel’s daughter in the film, is from Raleigh and is friends with my niece.  “Iron Man 3” and “We are the Millers,” starring Jennifer Aniston, will open later this year.  Many celebrities take part in Wilmington’s Azalea Festival.  The 66th annual Azalea Festival will take place April 12-14, and a highlight will be the Diamond Jubilee Garden Tour.  If you want to be right in the middle of the action, I would suggest checking into the Hilton Wilmington Riverside.  To start planning your Wilmington area beach vacation, visit: http://www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/

Orchids are in bloom at the Biltmore Estate Conservatory.

If you have ever wanted to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., then now is the perfect time to visit at a reduced cost.  Also, kids under 16 get in free with a paying adult through March 20.  January–March is peak bloom season for orchids in Biltmore’s Conservatory.  The Grove Park Inn is also celebrating 100 years this year. All year, the hotel is hosting special events to mark the occasion.  To plan your Asheville vacation, visit: http://www.exploreasheville.com/

The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. provides great family entertainment. 


Before Christmas, my family visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.  I highly recommend the experience, even if you don’t know one thing about NASCAR.  I’ve got the scoop on Skimbaco Lifestyle

And finally, I’ve already started thinking about spring break.  I’ve decided to pack our suitcases for the mountains of Highlands, N.C., for a few days.  This beautiful area is only 30 minutes away from where I grew up in the small university town of Cullowhee.  I’m excited to show my kids the area.  We’ll be checking into the Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, and, of course, through social media, I’ll be taking you there, too.  The waterfalls in this area are amazing. 

Waterfall near the Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, N.C.

But before we go there, Will and I are getting away from the kids for a night. Yea!!!! We’re not going far, but we’ll be experiencing a little of “Italy” in the Tar Heel state.  I think that is a perfect theme for February.  Don’t you think? We will enjoy an overnight stay at the Siena Hotel and  dinner at the Four Diamond award-winning restaurant, Il Palio, in Chapel Hill, N.C.



Il Palio Executive Chef Adam Rose is creating a special Valentine's Day menu for February. Nothing speaks the language of love like Italian. He also has a special menu for Triangle Restaurant Week.

Also, it is Triangle Restaurant Week. This is a great way to try new restaurants at a great price. Chef Ryan Payne of the Weathervane Restaurant is creating his winning "Got to Be NC" menu where he earned top prize in the statewide dining competition.  There are 80 Triangle restaurants participating in this special week. 


1.16.2013

Soup's On: A Busy Mom's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I searched a long time for a good, easy chicken noodle soup recipe.  Most kids like chicken noodle soup, and we all agree that the homemade kind beats a can of soup filled with preservatives.  If you have the ingredients on hand, you can make this soup in less than 30 minutes. 

I'm delighted that I finally found a good recipe that warms our hearts on a cold night and soothes our souls when we’re feeling poorly. 

We're having this for dinner tonight with peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  Sometimes, I serve it with cornbread. 



I adapted this recipe from the Southern Living Kids Cookbook. The original recipe calls for alphabet pasta, but I rarely find alphabet pasta so I use egg noodles. 

A Busy Mom's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped  

2 carrots, chopped (I chopped baby carrots) 

2 celery ribs, chopped 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

2 (32-ounce) containers reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth 

2 cups chopped cooked chicken ( I poached chicken breasts)

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 

1 cup of egg noodles  (I used one small package because I like noodles in mine)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot. Stir in onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté vegetables in hot oil 5 minutes; add garlic, and sauté 1 minute or until vegetables are tender and mixture smells good. Stir in broth, chicken, and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in pasta, and cook 11 minutes or just until pasta is tender.







Enjoy!


1.13.2013

An Apple a Day: Does it Keep the Doctor Away?

Throughout the Christmas holiday, my family had the upper respiratory crud.  You know the drill. Runny nose, sore throat, and the cough.  My husband’s cough was so bad that for three days straight after six nights of constant coughing, I would plead, “I think you may have bronchitis. You need to go to the doctor.”

He never did, and even though he is better, he still has a minor cough.  The kids are well.

For some reason, I remained crud-free. That’s very atypical because germs usually love me, and I am the first one to say, “Achoo!”

You may remember that I went through a vegan 10-daycleanse/detox. Caffeine, dairy, and sugar were off-limits.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  It was hell.

But after the 10 days, I felt better, had more energy, and was five pounds lighter on the scale.  I quickly went back to having a cup of tea with milk very soon after the program was over.  Overall, I have continued to reduce sugar in my diet, but eating buckeyes and a 12-layer chocolate cake throughout the holidays put more sugar back in my diet than a body needs.  As suspected, that extra sugar added a pound to each butt cheek and one pound to the waist on my body.  I’m also more tired in the afternoons again.

Every morning, I take a shot of unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
But I haven’t been sick even when I was living in a germ-infested house.  The one thing that I continued to do religiously after the detox was to start my morning with a shot of unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar.

Seriously! I’ve got a shot glass by the sink, and take about a tablespoon a day.  Research supports that Hippocrates in 400 B.C. discovered that natural, undistilled apple cider vinegar helps strengthen your body’s immune system, and fights germs and bacteria.

The saying “an apple a day helps keep the doctor away” had to come from somewhere.

Is there any truth to this? I’m not sure, but I’m keeping that shot glass by the sink.

It’s a lot easier than eating an apple a day.  Will thinks I'm crazy.  I think not!


1.09.2013

Pack Your Bags: A Traveler's Look at the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, N.C.

I’m just going to cut to the chase here and declare on record that the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, has the coolest, hippest, most luxurious bathroom that I’ve personally experienced so far in my travels.

As soon as our bellman left our room, my son pushed us out of the way and headed to the bathroom uttering, “Make way, I’m going to watch some TV in the bathroom!”

Marble and granite bathroom in deluxe room at Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, NC

How often does a 7-year-old get to say that?

This eco-friendly boutique hotel, located in the heart of uptown Charlotte, has bathrooms so large that it rivals the size of a small bedroom.  The TV screen, located in the bathroom mirror, makes it urban cool.

Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

In fact, the entire hotel carries a cool, city vibe.  Not only is it in one of the best locations in the city, but it’s Mother Earth’s best friend, too. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, is the first LEED® Gold-certified hotel for greater Charlotte and the Ritz-Carlton brand. The hotel offers environmentally mindful features and practices, including a green, vegetated roof and rooftop beehives to make its own honey that is used in ice cream and organic spa treatments.

We didn’t visit the bees, but we saw lots of chocolate. 

Delicious goodies from the chocolate afternoon tea


The hotel is known for its sinfully delicious Bar Cocoa, the hotel’s decadent chocolate bar featuring hot chocolate, cookies, pastries, cupcakes, and confections.

Look at what greeted us when we entered our room on the 12th floor.

She could not keep her hands off the cupcakes

 I’m pretty sure my kids thought they stepped into a dream world: a room filled with chocolate goodies, and a TV in the bathroom. That’s living life to the fullest.  And truthfully, that is what we were there to do.  As I shared in my article on Skimbaco Lifestyle, I wanted a pre-holiday getaway to experience the excitement of the holidays in another town, indulge in the hotel’s chocolate tea, and to make December birthdays a little more special.

And there is just something special about a Ritz-Carlton that makes a destination even more special.  Charlotte is no exception.  This is a boutique hotel with just 146 rooms and 18 floors.  The rooms are sleek, plush, and contemporary.  So modern, in fact, that we were like “country mice” visiting the city. We had to ask how to turn on the lamps beside our beds. 

Two people could sit at the desk and work.

We settled into our spacious room for four quite comfortably, and one of the design elements that I truly loved about the room was the work desk.  It was designed so that two people could easily work at the desk, which our children adored.  I think I’m going to frame this little beauty made by my son.  I love that it is on hotel stationery to record this special, family time.



The entire weekend we were in Charlotte was kid-focused. The hotel is within walking distance to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Discovery Place, in addition to other uptown attractions and restaurants.  

The hotel has complimentary trek bikes for guests to use while in the city as well as weekday complimentary transportation around the city using a hybrid vehicle, all part of its award-winning eco-friendly initiatives.

When we first arrived at the hotel around 4:30 p.m., lights in the lobby were very dim, and I later learned that this happens every Saturday as the hotel salutes candle power and a simpler, more energy-efficient way of illumination. 

This table in the Lobby Lounge by the fire screen is so cozy. 

With the sleek, sophisticated, modern design of the lobby, along with the dim lighting, I did wonder for a few brief seconds if I had made a mistake bringing the kids.  But let me assure you that no matter how fancy the building is, Ritz-Carlton is still one of the most kid-friendly hotel brands I’ve stayed in on a vacation.

When we returned to our room after swimming in the coolest indoor pool ever, we found out that Mother Nature left my kids new eco-friendly friends.  They really know how to go the extra mile to make a young guest feel welcomed, and a seasoned guest feel pampered.

The hotel's "Mother Nature" left my kids new friends. They continue to sleep with them at home in Raleigh.  The
indoor pool at the Ritz-Carlton,  Charlotte is fabulous. It also doubles as a lounge and one can sip on drinks overlooking the city skyline. 


In addition to Bar Cocoa, we dined in the Lobby Lounge for breakfast.  One of the things that you can pretty much guarantee when you check into a Ritz-Carlton is delicious cuisine.  They had a fantastic children’s breakfast menu.  Apparently, the chocolate chip pancakes will rock your world.  My son, who ordered French toast, took a bite of his sister’s pancake and declared, “That is PARADISE!”

Breakfast in the Lobby Lounge was delightful.

He wanted to order those the next day, but our beds were so comfy that we slept in and were too late for breakfast.

Instead, we grabbed a pastry in Bar Cocoa and told Madame Cocoa, who is dressed entirely in chocolate, that we will visit again one day.

Her chocolate hat, dress, and shoes are quite impressive

When the valet said goodbye to us as we were on our way back home, he stocked our car with complimentary bottled water. I have to honestly say that I love the complimentary bottled water perk in Ritz-Carlton hotels because when I travel, I can't seem to drink enough. 

And after staying in an award-winning green hotel, you can bet that I recycled the bottles when I got home. 

WANT TO GO:
Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
201 East Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 
Visit http://www.charlottesgotalot.com/





Disclosure: I was a media guest of The Ritz-Carlton so I could feature the resort as part of my “Pack Your Bags” segments as well as on assignment for Skimbaco Lifestyle Magazine.  My family did have out-of-pocket expenses while at the hotel.  As with all of my hotel reviews, these are my honest opinions and are not influenced by the hotel.

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