~Thank you to Sunglass Warehouse for providing product for review. As always, opinions are still 100% my own.~
Just in time for our end of summer vacation last week, I discovered an awesome frugal fashion find – Sunglass Warehouse. You may already know that I love sunglasses and always have a pair (or two) in my purse, plus a handful lying around the house. Well, the obsession has just gotten stronger.
Thanks to Sunglass Warehouse, I now have a pair for just about every mood. And since sunglasses never go out of style and are always in season (because the sun isn’t going anywhere), they’re good to have around.
Featured in photo: Granite $13.95 – Brown Tortoise/Gold Frame with Amber Polarized Lenses
The options at Sunglass Warehouse are affordable too. For $10+ you can get a stylish pair of sunglasses, and so long as you care for them properly, they’ll last for as long as you need them.
You would think that for just $10-$15, you get what you pay for, but this frugal find will surprise you. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much when I ordered my sunglasses. I ordered about six pairs by the way, two of which were for my boyfriend.
Featured in photo: Garnet $12.95 – Black Frame with Blue Polarized Mirrored Lenses (Spring Hinges)
When they arrived, we found that some of them have spring hinges on the sides so that they fit well. I find this is a great feature when you have kids too, because if they get a hold of the sunglasses, chances are they’ll bend the sides outward. With the spring hinges that actually allow the sunglasses to do this, it provides a less likely chance your child will break them.
And not just that, but I also found that I could see objects and colors more clearly and vividly with some of the sunglasses on. Without wearing them, the sunlight just dulled the colors of cars and trees, but wearing the sunglasses with polarized lenses put things into better perspective.
Featured in photo: Douglas $14.95 – Gold/Light Brown Aviator with Green Polarized Lenses
I don’t wear prescription glasses, so it’s not a matter of needing clarity, but for those sunglasses that featured the polarized lenses, it was a nice bonus for my frugal find. Now I feel like I’ve been deprived of vivid vision my whole life. Polarized lenses really do offer a completely different view.
Featured in photo: Primrose $11.95 – Brown/Gold Frame with Amber Lenses
With literally hundreds of sunglasses to choose from, and various shapes and color combos offered, there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll find more than one pair you love and at a price you’ll love even more! I already told you I got six pairs and there are still more I want! Shipping is also free with U.S. orders of $25+.
*Thank you to Sunglass Warehouse for providing product for review. As always, opinions are still 100% my own and in no way influenced by the brand. Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the brand. Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.
~Thank you to Airplus for providing product for review. As always, opinions are still 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links, in which I will receive a small commission for your purchase.~
Have you started crossing destinations off your travel bucket list? If so, I’m sure you’ve realized that traveling can put you outside of your comfort zone, both mentally and physically. While it’s nice to see and visit places near and far, the physical strains can be quite tiring.
I’m the type of person who wants to see and do everything imaginably possible wherever I go. So whether it’s a personal vacation or traveling for business, my body is always hurting when I return home. With that being said, I’ve learned a trick or two about how to travel in comfort so that when I get back, I’m not glued to the pillow recovering before getting back into my usual routine.
Take Only the Essentials
I will be the first to admit that on a three day trip, I pack like I’ll be away for a week. You never know what you might do or need while traveling, right? But I’ve slowly learned that really trying to narrow down my luggage to just the necessities will not only save me a little sanity when packing, but it’s less weight I have to lug around. Toting lighter luggage is much easier on my body.
Don’t Skip Out on Sleeping Accommodations
If you’re trying to travel on a budget, skipping out on comfortable sleeping accommodations may be a go-to for you. And it makes sense if you’re not going to be in your room other than to sleep. But this can take a major toll on how you feel day after day. Just like at home, if you’re bed isn’t comfortable and you don’t get the rest you need, your travel experience will suffer and so will your body.
Care for Your Feet
I don’t know about you, but when I travel I do a LOT of walking and boy, do my feet feel the wrath. Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally take a cab or call an Uber, but when you’re exploring a new place, it’s the little hole in the wall restaurants and stores that make it all worthwhile.
To keep my feet comfortable during the trip and ready to go when I get home, I turn to Airplus. Airplus, a pioneer in unique, comfortable and affordable foot care accessories has everything you need to care for your feet while traveling.
I have had plantar fasciitis problems for a few years now and with the help of Airplus Plantar Fascia Orthotics, I’m able to walk for long periods of time in some otherwise uncomfortable shoes, and my feet feel so much better afterwards.
While traveling, I also like to take along my Airplus Aloe Infused Socks. I may or may not be wearing them right now (I totally am). At the end of the day, these babies are great for a little R&R. They’re comfy, ultra-moisturizing, and have a soothing texture. Ahhhh, bliss for my feet.
If I’m being honest, I don’t only use Airplus when traveling because they’re also great for everyday use. And I’m not the only one. My boyfriend uses them daily for his commute to and from work. We live in New Jersey, just across the river from New York City. He works in NYC and commutes daily.
His commute consists of walking to the bus stop, taking the bus to the train, taking the train as close as he can to work, and then walking the rest of the way. On top of that he walks anywhere he needs to go during the day, but he never leaves home without Airplus Memory Plus Insoles in his shoes.
While traveling, when you’re out and about you don’t want to forget about hydration. Right now, in the middle of summer, the weather is insanely hot. I can’t even walk a block down the street without a few drops of sweat rolling down my face. This doesn’t change just because you’re visiting some place new. Keep a bottle of water handy, or travel with a reusable bottle so you can fill up when you need to. And this goes for cooler weather, too. Don’t be left in the cold without the ability to quench your traveling thirst.
So no matter where your travels take you, make sure you’re set for a comfortable trip and comfortable return back to your usual routine.
*This post contains affiliate links, in which I will receive a small commission for your purchase. I also received samples free of charge. My opinions are still 100% my own and in no way influenced by the brand. Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the brand. Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.
~I received a Carlucci’s Waterfront gift card to help facilitate my review. As always, opinions are still 100% my own.~
To end our family’s staycation in Mt. Laurel, NJ this past weekend, we decided to have a nice sit down dinner after checking out of the hotel and before heading home. I searched around online to see what restaurants were in the Mt. Laurel area and came across an Italian fare, Carlucci’s Waterfront.
Carlucci’s Waterfront is just one of six of Carlucci’s family of restaurants, and is owned and operated by the Capuano family. When the Capuano’s came to the US from Italy in ‘83, they brought along with them some amazing family recipes and are sharing those recipes in their restaurants.
As adults we enjoy the food, atmosphere and overall experience of fine dining, but as parents, kid-friendly dining is imperative. Carlucci’s Waterfront is the perfect combination of the two – fine dining for families – and was a perfect way to end our family weekend.
Upon pulling into the parking lot, which is fairly large by the way, you see the restaurant sitting in the distance. At the moment, Carlucci’s is doing some renovations, but luckily is still open for dining.
As we walked in, we were immediately greeted by the hostess who sat us right away. We arrived just after Carlucci’s opened at 11:00 am on Sunday, so the restaurant was pretty empty. But it didn’t take long before guests started rolling in.
And lucky for us, we were seated at a great table right next to a set of sliding doors, and had an amazing view of the outdoor seating and the waterfront. While it was a very nice day out, it was still a bit too nippy to eat outside on the terrace which I would have loved, but I’m glad we were still able to enjoy the view.
After being seated, we were each poured a glass of water, and brought out a plate of bruschetta and basket of bread. You’d think my family hadn’t eaten in a week because the bread was gone before I could blink. The bruschetta was delicious and I could have eaten the whole plate, but I was generous enough to share with everyone else even though they hoarded the bread.
We then ordered some additional beverages and our meals. I want to add that Carlucci’s Waterfront offers a lunch menu on Sunday’s, which in my experience is rare, so that was a nice little surprise. And before we knew it our dishes had arrived.
I started with a Caesar Salad and then moved on to my Seafood Duette. The Seafood Duette is a combo of scallops and shrimp tossed with spinach, cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil with a touch of lemon, white wine and zafferano, all served over a plate of linguine.
Ooohhh maaan, my taste buds were in heaven! My daughter even had a few bites. I’ve had “Italian food” before, but this was real and it was love at first bite.
My other half started with some Lentil Soup, one of the soups of the day, and then enjoyed some Broccoli and Shrimp Pappardelle. This dish consists of homemade pappardelle sautéed with broccoli, shrimp and cherry tomatoes, in garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
It looked very appetizing on my end and his favorite part of the dish was the shrimp and sauce. He didn’t much care for the pappardelle, but simply because it is a larger sized pasta. Any other pasta and he probably would have cleaned his plate, so it’s just a personal preference. But he enjoyed trying something new!
The kids enjoyed some typical children’s menu favorites. My son, the picker eater, had his usual Chicken Fingers and French Fries, and my daughter had some Penne Alfredo.
I tasted the Penne Alfredo and I have to say, I would be very surprised if the alfredo sauce was not homemade. It was like no alfredo sauce I have ever eaten before. It had a bit of a sweet taste to it and was very distinctive. If my daughter didn’t eat it, I certainly would have had no problem finishing it for her.
The food was absolutely delectable and the overall ambience was delightful. Carlucci’s Waterfront also features a fully stocked bar for any type of adult beverage you may want.
While we were dining, a group of guests strolled in, ordered some drinks from the bar and then enjoyed some conversation on the terrace before coming back inside to dine. Carlucci’s really is a great place to just come and hang out, and enjoy some amazing food.
Carlucci’s Waterfront also offers banquet and event dining, including wedding events. The restaurant itself is beautiful and then open up the sliding doors that lead to the outdoor terrace, and you’re all set for your next large event.
It just so happens that while we were there, a group of guests were preparing to host a baby shower and I was thinking to myself Carlucci’s was a great choice. I would love to hold a party there!
I can say with confidence that if we are ever in the Mt. Laurel area again, we will definitely be dining at Carlucci’s Waterfront. Quite frankly, I can’t wait to go back!
Do you have a restaurant in your area that offers fine dining for families?
*I received a Carlucci’s Waterfront gift card to help facilitate my review. My opinions are still 100% my own and in no way influenced by the restaurant. Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the restaurant. Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.
~Thank you to CoCo Key Water Resort for providing complimentary passes to facilitate this review. As always, opinions are still 100% my own.~
This past weekend my family enjoyed a short staycation in the Mt. Laurel, NJ area. It was nice to get out of the house and explore what the state has to offer and there were different things about the weekend that each of us enjoyed, from shopping, to dining, to a little indoor water park fun.
Yeap, you read that right. We had water park fun in NJ, in April! It was cold and rainy ALL weekend, but it didn’t stop us from splashing around at CoCo Key Water Resort like it was summer.
CoCo Key is an indoor water park that offers family fun for all ages. Guests of The Hotel ML can purchase passes to visit anytime during their stay, or the general public can purchase a daily pass and just spend the day splashing around.
My kids absolutely love playing in the water and since moving from FL to NJ, the only water play they’ve gotten is during bath time. So I knew CoCo Key would be the perfect getaway for them and they ended up having a splashing good time! The water park was their favorite part of our staycation and my son is already asking to go back.
We ventured over to the water park, which is accessible via the hotel and also has its own entrance, sometime early Saturday afternoon. As you walk in, there’s a counter for purchasing your passes and another counter for cashing in your arcade tickets.
Not only does CoCo Key offer an indoor water park, but also has a nice little arcade. If it weren’t for my son wanting so badly to play in the water park, he could have spent all day in the arcade.
Just beyond the entrance area are doors that lead you into the water park, which is two levels. You enter on the upper level and can either walk down a flight of stairs or take the elevator down to the lower level.
Dip-In: This is a kiddie play area that’s perfect for the littlest swimmers. A one foot deep wading pool, Dip-In features a pirate ship in the center with double slides, as well as a baby bungee corner, and is lots of fun for toddlers and smaller kids.
The weekend we were visiting, the hotel was offering special movie nights that took place at the water park at 9:30 pm. This was after the water park closed at 9:00 pm, so it was only available to hotel guests. Friday night we went to check it out and the movie, Shrek the Third, was actually playing on the sail of the pirate ship! I thought that was pretty fun and a little added perk for the kids.
Coral Cove’s Slam Dunk: A three foot deep circular pool where you can enjoy a little water basketball.
Coconut Grove Lazy River: A three foot deep lazy river where you can hop in a float and take a relaxing 300 foot ride, but be sure to watch out for the splashy surprises along the way.
Lily Pad Adventure: A fun water activity that tests your balance and strength, the Lily Pad Adventure is like something you’d see in an obstacle course. With the help of an overhead rope to hang onto, do you think you could keep your balance long enough to cross the pool on floating “lily pads” without falling in?
Palm Grotto Indoor/Outdoor Spa: This one is for adults only. While the kids splash around, sit back and enjoy a hot, relaxing dip in the whirlpools of the hot tub spa.
Parrot’s Perch: In the center of it all is Parrot’s Perch. It’s like a big water playground and jungle gym that everyone can climb on, shoot water cannons, slip down the slides and get drenched when the 300 gallon water bucket at the top fills up and tips over.
Large Water Slides: If you’re looking for a real thrill, take a ride on one of the three large water slides – Pelican Plunge, Barracuda Blast, and Shark Slam. Grab a raft and make your way to the top by climbing the indoor stairway. The slides themselves twist, turn and wind outdoors, but they’re all completely covered and protected from the elements. The entrance and all three slide exits are indoors so you never actually step foot outside.
If you plan to spend the whole day at CoCo Key, I can guarantee you’re going to get hungry. But never fear because you can pick up pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets and more at Gator’s Grab & Go, or grab a cocktail at Wet Rooster’s, a full service bar.
There are lifeguards, on lifeguards, on lifeguards at CoCo Key. They’re everywhere and they actually pay attention to ensure everyone stays safe. There was a lot of whistle blowing during our visit, haha.
If something were to happen though, there’s also a first aid station. And if you need a life jacket for your little swimmer, they’re on hand too.
What to Bring
For a day at CoCo Key you’ll definitely need to bring your own towels. We just used our hotel bathroom towels since we didn’t bring any from home.
And since I know you’ll want to preserve some family memories, I’m sure you’ll bring along a camera or take photos with your cell phone. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any photos of my kids playing around, for fear of dropping my phone in the water and the shear fact of having to wrangle two small kids, I really needed both of my hands available. I did see a lot of people who were wearing waterproof cell phone holders around their neck, so I would recommend bringing something like that along so your phone isn’t far out of reach, but is still protected.
And for anything else you bring along, lockers can be rented ($10) to keep those items safe. There is plenty of space on both the upper and lower levels to sit, but if everyone in your party is enjoying the fun, you will not want to leave your belongings just sitting around. So the lockers are plus and you can access them at any time you need to.
Since we were visiting on a Saturday, I think the water park was a little more crowded than if we had visited another day. The kids had a really great time and we did too, but there are a few things I want to note.
The first thing is the smell of chlorine is pretty overpowering, which I totally understand given it’s a water park, but it kind of smells like a dirty chlorine. Not that fresh, super clean, dive right in kind of smell. And for as strong as the chlorine smell is and as much as they must be using, the water was pretty murky. I don’t know if this is just a result of all the traffic that comes in and out, or if it was intentional to give kind of like a natural outdoor look to the water.
The thing that really bummed us out was that Dip-In, the kiddie area on the upper level, was closed off and reserved for a birthday party. Birthday parties are a great feature that CoCo Key Water Resort offers, and there are a handful of private rooms near the resort entrance for facilitating them, as well as a large sitting area on the upper level where these parties can also be held.
But at the same time, this really hindered how much freedom we could give our one year old. Since we couldn’t access the kiddie area, we were forced to stay on the lower level.
Let me preface this a little bit so it makes more sense as to why this bummed us out. So once you get wet, you better stay in the water because – You. Will. Freeze. After getting wet our daughter was literally shivering in our arms so it was either keep her in the water or wrap her in a towel, which she was not about to sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else having fun.
The water in the Parrot’s Perch area is very shallow. We sat her down and it barely covered her legs, so this wasn’t going to work for us. The only other option was to sit in the water that was at the entrance to the lazy river. The water was warmer there and it was deep enough to keep our daughter decently submerged so that she wasn’t shivering. The problem is that this was not a very safe place for us to be, or anyone else for that matter.
There was traffic coming in and out for those visitors who wanted to ride around the lazy river, and not only that but there were bigger kids hanging out in that area as well and their splashing around and rough housing was not safe for our kids. So not having access to the kiddie area on the upper level was a bit of an issue for us and we actually only stayed for a little over an hour.
The other thing I want to note is that the day we checked out (Sunday), the water park was only open until 3:00 pm due to a private event (normally open until 6:00 pm). Since we had our passes, we could have stayed after checking out of our room and enjoyed the water park until it closed, but we chose not to. And I’m all for private events like this, but as a visitor who’s paying to enjoy a full day of water park fun, this would upset me. I’d hate to show up promising my kids a full day of fun, only to find out that’s not going to happen.
So I suggest calling ahead of time to ensure there are no special events taking place that could hinder your family’s fun. So long as there’s nothing going on that would have certain areas closed off, or affecting the park hours, I think you’ll have a good time.
Overall, my kids didn’t know any different and they had a ton of fun playing in the water. At CoCo Key Water Resort you won’t have to worry about sunscreen, but it’ll still wear you out like a day in the sun. Just the little amount of time we spent at the water park wore me out and I was ready for a nap as soon as we returned to our hotel room.
*Complimentary CoCo Key Water Resort passes were provided for purposes of facilitating this review. My opinions are still 100% my own and in no way influenced by the brand. Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the brand. Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.
~Thank you to The Hotel ML for hosting the Making Time family at a discounted rate. As always, opinions are still 100% my own.~
It’s been a while since my family has taken a vacation, so it was time I took action and planned something fun for us. Rather than going all out and traveling far, I decided to find something that was a little closer to home.
Since moving to NJ last November we haven’t really ventured out of our immediate area, so I thought a short staycation would be a great way to get out of the house, explore the state and enjoy some time together.
Just about an hour and a half drive from our home, The Hotel ML is situated in Mt. Laurel, NJ. The hotel itself is very beautiful. The entrance is gorgeous and very inviting. As soon as we stepped foot into the hotel lobby, I was blown away.
There’s obviously the front desk, two sitting areas and a lounge where you can enjoy some beverages and watch a little TV. Everything appeared to be new and modern, and if it’s not new, then they’re doing a good job of keeping it up.
To the right of the lobby area there are meeting rooms for private events, such as conferences, wedding activities and other social events. In fact, I believe someone was hosting wedding activities the evening we checked in. I overheard their party talking about it while passing through the lobby the next day.
To the left of the lobby area is the elevator and rooms. Our third floor room at The Hotel ML was a very nice size. It was probably the largest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in and the kids were able to run around to let out a little of their excitement. With two double beds, a lounge chair and ottoman, office desk, dresser with TV and mini fridge, and full bathroom, it was a home away from home.
After arriving we headed to the closest store to pick up a few snacks and drinks to stock our mini fridge. This was great because the kids are always wanting something, so having the mini fridge helped save us some money on food and drinks throughout the weekend.
While it was a spacious room, there were a few things that could use some improvement and it’s mostly all aesthetic. I was told the room was newly renovated, but the only thing that looked new was the bathroom sink and counter.
There were marker lines on the window curtains, most likely caused by kids during a previous stay. But it’s a kid-friendly hotel, so things like this are to be expected now and then. The furniture and mini fridge were also pretty dinged up. Again, this is something that can be expected with the traffic that comes in and out, but it was very obvious and immediately noticeable.
Another issue was the mattress or bed springs on one of the beds was broken, I think. I didn’t even notice it until the day we left because I had been sleeping on the other bed, but I sat on it while getting ready to leave and drastically sunk down.
So again, nothing in the room really stood out to me as being renovated besides the bathroom sink. While I’m on the topic of the bathroom, I also want to note the toilet was lower to the ground than an average toilet. Not a complaint, but just something to mention. This is actually great for the kids, but as an adult you better make sure you have your squat game on point.
After being blown away at the entry and lobby area, I was expecting a bit of a nicer room. Overall, the room was okay and I’d consider it pretty average. Nothing too over the top and fancy, but it was suitable for our weekend stay.
If you get a little hungry, you can always order room service or head down to Talia’s. Situated just behind the lobby lounge is Talia’s Restaurant and Bar. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to dine at Talia’s, but they serve up-scale comfort food all day.
In the morning you can enjoy a breakfast buffet, and for lunch and dinner you can order dishes like Short Rib Grilled Cheese, Portobello Sandwich, half pound Black Angus burger or Cajun Seared Salmon, just to name a few.
If you’re just looking for a snack, sweet treat or cup of coffee, I suggest heading to The Little Shop of Coffee, located between the elevators and front desk. You can find snacks, ice cream treats, a variety of coffees and a table or two to just sit and enjoy some conversation.
There’s also PLENTY of off-site dining options, too. Starbucks, Ale House and Bob Evans are just across the street from the hotel. And in the general area, a short ride will take you to any restaurant you can imagine. It would take me a while to list them all, but during our stay we dined at Don Pablos, Cracker Barrel and Grand Lux Cafe.
So, you’re probably wondering what’s so great about The Hotel ML that we chose to spend our weekend family staycation there. The answer is simple – CoCo Key Water Resort! The kids had a blast and I can’t wait to tell you all about it – tomorrow, haha.
Sounds like fun, right? I’ll give you a little info now, just to be fair. CoCo Key Water Resort is on the same premises as The Hotel ML. It’s housed in a separate building towards the back of the property, but can easily be accessed from the hotel.
As soon as we left the lobby area and walked to the elevators, we could smell the chlorine so there’s no missing the fact it’s there, even if you’re not visiting the hotel for purposes of the water park. To get there, just take the elevator down to the first floor (the lobby is on the second floor) and walk your way through the halls.
There are rooms on the first floor, so I would assume if you’re staying on the first floor, you’re probably going to hear a lot more noise and traffic as hotel guests utilizing the water park make their way through the halls. But just a short one to two minute walk and you’re ready to enjoy some indoor water park fun!
Aside from the on-site fun of CoCo Key Water Resort, there are also some fun things in the general area to do. Want to do some shopping? Head to Moorestown Mall or Cherry Hill Mall. Want to do something fun with the family? There’s a bowling alley right down the road or spend a few hours at Sky Zone Trampoline Park. Still not enough? Make your way to The Funplex for bumper cars, laser tag and more!
I had no idea there was so much to do in the Mt. Laurel area. It was nice to get out of the house and have a mini family vacation, while exploring what our new home state has to offer. I can’t wait until our next staycation!
*This hotel stay was provided at a discounted rate for purposes of this review. My opinions are still 100% my own and in no way influenced by the brand. Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the brand. Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.