James Kicinski-McCoy is a writer and blogger, specializing in strategic marketing and branding, and is a co-founder and editor of Mother Magazine. She lives with her husband and four children in Nashville, Tennessee.
I’m not really a big dessert girl, I usually make them for the kids, but you can count me in for anything that has chocolate and bourbon. Not to mention, pavlova with rose water? Yes, please. I’ve been on a huge rosewater kick lately, from beauty products to fragrances, so I’m drawn to the idea of using it in food. I’ve been itching to get back into the kitchen to make something sweet with the kids and these recipes are definitely on my list!
Earlier this month we were invited by Carnival Cruise Line to cruise for the first time, aboard the Carnival Breeze. We decided to schedule our trip right after school ended as a way to celebrate and to have a fun vacation with the big kids before they left for the summer with their dad. We flew to Miami, checked into our hotel for the night, and ordered Chinese takeout. The next day was boarding day, so we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the dock. Walking onto the boat was so exciting knowing that this would be our “home” for the next week. We had two state rooms next to each other and although there wasn’t a connecting door in-between, we were able to open the divider on our balconies, sharing one large deck. Aubrey and I shared one room with Birdie and Sailor, while Julian and Plum lived it up in their own teenage-dream pad next door. Since we were going to be living on the boat for the next 6-days, we decided to move right in, unpack, and tuck our suitcases under the beds to make it feel like home. We spent the first two days at sea exploring all the boat had to offer. It literally had every thing you could possibly imagine, from an Imax movie theater to an Internet Cafe, and a beauty salon to a candy store! One of our favorite discoveries was the Bonsai Sushi restaurant onboard. Plum, Birdie, and I ate there four times during our trip. The sushi was really good and it was nice to have a spot just for us girls to go. After the little kids were in bed, Julian stayed in the room with them, playing video games and watching t.v, while Aubrey and I snuck off for some alone time. We hit up the casino one night and I won $70! We caught an onboard couples gameshow (kind of like The Newlywed Game) one night, which was hilarious. Most nights, we sipped wine under the stars at the front of the boat, away from the commotion, and it was lovely. We, of course, spent a day at the waterpark on the top of the boat. The kids loved it! We laid out our towels, slathered on sunscreen, hit the waterslides, and got soaked. There were several hot tubs on the boat that we wanted to hit up at night, but sadly, never got around to it. As a fan of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, I was excited to see Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint next to the pool. We had fun building our own burgers, which were really good, and made ice cream a daily must-have. I think across the board, we all found the highlight of the trip to be our family dinners in the Dining Room. Every night, we had the same table with the same waiters (who were amazing) located at the back of the boat with a beautiful window view. We were able to spend a good two hours enjoying lobster, filet, duck, and other fancy dishes and talk about our days. Aubrey and I also loved getting a couples massage at the boat’s Cloud 9 Spa. We soaked in the tub for thirty minutes before getting an hour rub-down and it was incredible. We spent our last day at sea playing mini-golf, eating hotdogs from the hotdog stand SeaDogs, and exploring the boat even more. There was a video arcade, which the kids loved, and we spent many nights after dinner there before heading back to our rooms to get ready for bed. It’s started raining like crazy during our mini-golf game, which turned out to be pretty fun because everyone scattered indoors and we played in the rain and got soaked. We made three stops on our trip—Jamaica, The Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico. It ended up pouring rain the entire time we were docked in the Cayman Islands, so we spent that day on the boat, but we had a blast in Jamaica and Mexico, which I will be sharing images of soon! xx
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.
I’ll be turning 36-years-old in August, which feels totally crazy to me because I still feel like I’m a kid and like I’m learning the ropes as an adult. Something that comes along with every birthday, as well as every New Years Day, is the desire to take better care of myself and make “resolutions” to change the things in my life that I don’t like. It’s these two periods of time that I self-evaluate and tend to focus on all of the things I am not doing that I probably should be doing. This is one of those times.
I take really good care of my skin, which is something that my mother always told me to do—she always said to moisturize and never to go to sleep wearing makeup—and although sometimes I can get lazy in the moisturizing department, I am kind of a freak when it comes to my skincare routine. I look forward to that time each morning and night. It’s how I start my day and end my day, and it’s this very specific ritual that I cherish—my me time, if you will. So, I give myself an A+ when it comes to taking care of my face, but I am realizing that I don’t always put the same effort into other things. I don’t work out, which I think is starting to catch up to me. I don’t eat as good as I should. I could write a out laundry list of the things that I don’t do or could be doing better, but instead, I think I’ll focus on the things that I am going to DO to make small, good changes.
I am reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. A book that apparently is truly “life-changing”. I have noticed that over the past two years, after our giant purge before we moved, that things are starting to accumulate again. Shelves are starting to become cluttered and messy, closets and drawers are overflowing. It’s definitely time to do a clean out. I also could use some major help in the organization department, so I am excited to get through this read.
I’m taking vitamins! I buy supplements often, but always forget to take them. I recently started taking Olly Vitamins and I am hooked. They are gummies, which are not only fun to eat, but they taste amazing and I actually look forward to taking them each day. I keep mine beside my bed to remind me to supplement first thing each morning. I’m taking the Women’s Multi, Vitamin D3, and Undeniable Beauty.
I’m getting dressed 5 days a week. This may sound silly, but I work from my home office each day and it’s so easy to just stay in my pajamas. Aubrey and I have a shared office downtown, but I really prefer working in the comfort of my own home and want to do so as long as I am able. When I get up and get ready and dressed for the day, I feel better about myself and I also get to wear my clothes that I love. I love those lazy days when I work from bed, but am only allowing myself two of them each week.
We are starting to “unplug” more and more. We’ve turned dinner time into a technology-free zone and we try to leave our phones upstairs when having family time. It’s made a massive difference in our home. We get to have so many more “present” moments with the each other and the kids. I really think social media tends to consume us, so I have made an effort to cut down on my usage dramatically. I still post, but rarely will I scroll through Instagram or social media anymore. I’m just not feeling it lately and it feels great.
I am eating cleaner. I have dieted in some form or another for over half my life and after all of these years, I realize that they don’t work! So, instead of going on a “diet”, I am going to just eat better, while still allowing myself the indulgences that I love. More salads, healthier snacks, juices, increasing my water intake, and cutting out gluten and sugar when possible, without too much sacrifice. Everything in moderation. I love food too much to deprive myself.
I am going to be more active. I scheduled my first Barre class—yay! I am excited to give it a try. And, now that it’s warm, we have started our family walks through the neighborhood most evenings. It’s a good time to get in a little extra action at the end of the day, plus the little kids can get their wiggles out before bedtime. I am also starting to get more sleep. Feeling rested when I wake each morning is a major game changer and I have been trying to hit the hay earlier each night and take naps when I am able. I just can’t survive on little sleep like I used to.
So there you have it. A few ways that I am making small improvements as I enter year thirty-six. There are a few more little things that I will strive to do like keep up with my inbox and organize my calendar a little better, but I don’t want to bore you with those. Have you made any small changes that made a big impact in your life? If so, please share.
This post was in partnership with Olly Vitamins. A brand I use and love! For those of you who love Olly just as much as we do, or who haven’t had a chance to try them out, you can enter the Sweet Bliss Sweepstakes! The grand prize is a day spa package for a lucky winner and a friend, a 6 month supply of Olly Vitamins, and a personal wellness consultation with Olly’s resident nutritionist! Plus, 100 runner-ups will receive an Olly product of their choosing. Click here to enter and good luck!