POSH City Club Debuts Members-Only Lounge in NYC

POSH-City-Club-2016At the POSH City Club, members are treated to an experience that takes the stress out of spending time in the city that never sleeps. The POSH City Club is an exclusive members only lounge where travelers, suburban commuters and city dwellers alike can kick up their heels between work and meetings, after an outdoor run or while sightseeing with their families.

When members open the doors to the POSH City Club, they’ll be welcomed into a world of clean, comfort complete with immaculate private restrooms, sitting areas and sanity-saving private lockers. Parents can breathe easier in a space that will allow them to regroup and take care of their small children’s needs worry free, while individuals looking to freshen up after work or avoid rush-hour can do so with ease.

Loaded down with the day’s shopping, but expected for a lunch date? The POSH City Club’s private lockers are a convenient space for stowing purses, shopping bags and extra coats when there’s no time to run home. They’re even equipped with charging stations for electronic devices and complimentary Wi-Fi for all those last minute e-mails and travel directions.

While stopping in at a locker, members can also take advantage of the club’s luxury bathrooms. These are not the typical rows of toilet stalls as seen at the office or gym, but rather individual restrooms that are completely private. Touch-less toilets and sinks, personal showers, changing stations and soundproof bathrooms all await for those in need of a quick pick-me-up. In order to meet a high standard of quality, full-time attendants are at the ready to ensure restrooms are freshened after every use.

Membership packages start at only $15 a year, with day passes available at four pricing tiers. The different tiers determine how many day passes members will need to purchase at minimum. The more passes purchased, the better the savings. Each pass gives the member full access to all the lounge’s services for the entire day and can even be gifted to an accompanying friend regardless of whether they’re a member or not.

Finding Neverland Delights on Broadway

Finding_Neverland_Broadway_PlaybillThe classic musicals of Broadway past will always have a special place in my heart. I walked down the aisle to “Wedding Processional” from The Sound of Music to marry a man who won me over by gifting me an entire DVD collection of Rogers and Hammerstein movie musicals including Oklahoma and The King & I. However, at some point during my adult years living in New York I developed a stronger taste for that darker and edgier theater with adult themes that usually fills my itineraries when I visit my old home. So despite frequent excursions to see local school and community family-friendly productions with my daughter, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen a good-hearted, family-friendly, positive musical at the Broadway level. Thankfully, last week in New York City I had that opportunity.

 

At the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street, I was transported back to the Finding Neverlandmagical and sentimental world of the classic musicals of my childhood during a matinee of Finding Neverland, the musical based on the 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet that came to Broadway earlier this year. Currently the show stars Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Broadway stars Terrence Mann (Pippin, Cats, Les Misérables, Chorus Line, Beauty & the Beast) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, Mamma Mia!, Sweeney Todd), and all three of them blew me away with their voices and presence. Like the film, the show follows playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer – and the man – he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. His journey rediscovering his childhood imagination leads to the now renowned stories of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and the lost boys of Neverland.

Surrounded by a packed audience of all ages, from young children on a special holiday adventure with their parents, to elegant ladies from upper Manhattan known for frequenting matinees, to even otherwise cynical teenagers, I was swept up in the magic and spectacle of a musical that brought me back to why I fell in love with theater in the first place. Finding Neverland BroadwayA highlight was the scenic design by Tony Award®-winner Scott Pask (Pippin, Book of Mormon), particularly in the number Stronger (see video), where we first get a glimpse of the Neverland in Barrie’s imagination. And while mainstream audiences may at first be disappointed to no longer find familiar TV star Kelsey Grammer in the double role of the producer and Captain Hook, I was beyond grateful to instead get the theater legend Mann who has delighted us as a natural on the stage for decades.

Listed this month as one of Time Magazine’s Top Plays and Musicals of 2015, the funny, charming, and beautiful Finding Neverland plays at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (205 West 46th Street) Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 2pm & 7:30pm, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets and more information can be found online at www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com, in person at the Lunt-Fontanne box office. Follow the magic on Twitter and Instagram: @NeverlandBway.

Dallas’ Northpark Center Celebrates 50 Years with Special Events!

Northpark 50 years

The iconic Northpark Center in Dallas, TX  recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary on August 22, 2015 and is celebrating this huge milestone with a series of unique and very fun events that you will not want to miss.  If you’re familiar with Northpark you know that it’s not just a shopping center, it’s a cultural experience!

First, here’s a little background on Northpark:  It was named as one of the “7 Retail Wonders of the Modern World” by Shopping Centers Today.  NorthPark Center is a luxury shopping experience with over 235 unique retailers, restaurants and legendary department stores, and a clientele from around the world.  NorthPark Center is also very unique because it also features an incredible display of art, architecture and landscaping throughout the mall.   The center has won countless awards, including the American Institute of Architects’ Best Design of the Decade, and features internationally-acclaimed 20th century artwork on display throughout the light-filled space and amid the 1.4-acre landscaped garden, CenterPark Garden.

northpark

Here are some of the events that are happening at Northpark as part of their 50th Anniversary Celebration:

Northpark 50 years of fashion

FASHION EXHIBITION

Art Meets Fashion1965 – 2015
August 22, 2015 – January 3, 2016

A definite “must see”!   This exhibition features specific examples of dress that reflect the synergy between art and fashion from 1965 to the present. The exhibition includes The Texas Fashion Collection at the University of North Texas (which is considered to have one of the most important historic fashion collections in the country).  The exhibition is located on Level One between Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.  Garments on display include designs by Oscar de la Renta and Giorgio di’ Sant Angelo.

NorthPark fashion photos 1

Northpark fashion photos

Guided Tours
Saturday, October 10, 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm

Free guided tours of Art Meets Fashion: 1965 – 2015 with Texas Fashion Collection Director and Curator, Myra Walker.

RUNWAY SHOWS – Friday, October 9th and Saturday, October 10th

For the  schedule of runway shows go to:   http://www.northparkcenter.com/pages/northpark-northpark50-fifty-years-of-fashion

Reserve tickets for October 9 Runway Trend Presentation.

Seating for all shows is limited and must be reserved.

Northpark garden

 Saturday, October 17, 2015
7:00 PM, CenterPark Garden

NorthPark Center invites you to a free family concert in CenterPark Garden. Enjoy the magnificent 60-piece orchestra performing popular selections by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Gershwin, as well as scores from JawsPirates of the CarribeanFrozen and more. Open seating in CenterPark Garden. Reserved seating will be available on the Bread Winners patio by calling 214.303.0049.

ArtROCKS! 
Featuring a concert by Gravity Feed and a performance by Dallas Ballet Company

Sunday, October 18, 2015 
1 – 4PM, CenterPark Garden

Children can participate in hands-on art activities led by important artists from North Texas, including Joanne Cervantes, Nathan Green, Kelly Kroener, Annette Lawrence, Suzanne O’Brien, Shamsy Roomani, William and Thoele Sarradet, James Thurman, and more! The event open to the public, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Leo Villareal Exhibition
Coming Soon

In celebration of the 50th anniversary, two major works by Leo Villareal will be on view within the shopping center, including a newly commissioned piece inspired by his iconic Buckyball sculpture. His work can otherwise be found at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, The National Gallery in Washington D.C., and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Northpark HammeringMan

IN-STORE EVENTS

For a complete listing of the many “In Store” Events at North Park go to:

http://www.northparkcenter.com/pages/northpark-northpark50-fifty-years-of-fashion

4 Smart Spots for a Ljubljana Coffee Break

Ljubljana is lined with cafes along the beautiful waterfront serving up the local specialty drink, a white coffee. With a huge population of students, you can understand why the city is filled with coffee shops and bookstores. The white coffee may not be for coffee aficionados since your precious shot of espresso is topped with LOTS of milk and frothy foam, but you should try it to enjoy Ljubljana like a local. Pair the white coffee with a tasty cake, and the European café culture is alive in this green city. While in Ljubljana, there are four coffeehouses that make me want to come back, so here’s my list!
cafe-coklCafe Čokl
There are people who take coffee seriously, and then there are people who work at Cafe Čokl. This café by the puppet theatre serves the best coffee in Ljubljana. Cafe Čokl roasts their beans and feature daily recommendations on a chalkboard outside. For all the coffee snobs out there, you will love the sweet taste at the front and a hint of bitter at the back.

cafetinoCafetino
Cafetino offers a huge range of coffee, using only freshly ground beans. With a wide selection of worldly coffee beans, this is place is for those who take their coffee seriously. Climbs the stairs, and upstairs to enjoy your brew. Consider ordering their turkish coffee while you are with your friends and possibly a cappuccino when you want to be alone with a book. 🙂 This coffee shop has no sign out front, but you can’t miss the selection of coffee roasting equipment in their window display.

daktariDaktari
With an interior resembling your grandparents’ living room, Daktari is one of the coolest café in Ljubljana. Daktari has the best Turkish coffee in Ljubljana. They also offer some delicious masala tea for those non-java drinking friends. In the evenings, they host a diverse program of social events, live music and literal readings. Daktari is definitely the place the intellectual // smart people. 😉

tozdTOZD
TOZD produces a relaxed atmosphere with has several bikes decorating the small café, which also adds for a great element of quirkiness. TOZD offers cold brew coffee, which is simply amazing. First, let’s talk about the presentation: coffee and water are served in beakers accompanied by the TOZD orange cup. Depending on the way you like your coffee, you are the “chemist.” You can have is straight up, by pouring the coffee into your cup and drinking as is. You can dilute it with some hot water, think warm Americano. Lastly, you can chill the coffee with the ice water and sip an iced coffee along the waterfront. What a great idea from TOZD because if you don’t like your coffee, it’s because you don’t know the “science” of your coffee palate…not because of their delicious cold brew. 😉

Which of these coffeehouses are your favorite? How do you like your coffee? Let’s experiment!

4 Smart Coffee Spots for a Zagreb Coffee Break

Coffee culture has always been particularly strong in Zagreb, not just in flavor but in society. People value a good strong espresso, cappuccino or latte in a ceramic mug rather than an overpriced sweet “coffee” drink that they take away as they walk through town. People want to chat or do business in a relaxed way, sitting at a café with a delicious cup of locally roasted coffee. While in Zagreb, there are four coffeehouses that make me want to come back, so here’s my list!
eliscaffeEli’s Caffe
Locals come here for great coffee, located on the most prominent street of Zagreb, Ilica. This is not only a coffee bar, but also a coffee roaster. Owner Nik Orosi is a pioneer in the field of all things coffee, sourcing coffee from specific producers and roasting it himself for maximum freshness and flavor. Eliscaffe coffee brand is available for purchase, which is where I get my supply every time I am in town – convenient for true addicts. Eli’ s Cafe is known as “no logo, just taste!”, and it just opened its second location.

cogito-coffeeCogito Coffee Shop
At Cvjetni trg, you can have coffee in countless cafes, but if you look closely you’ll find excellent coffee in a small café, hidden in a passage and decorated in an industrial, hipster-style. Cogito Coffee Shop make truly amazing coffee. The concept was devised by two Matijas, who were frustrated that there were not enough coffee roasters in town, so one of the Matijas opened a roasters in Jurja Žerjavića Street, right next my next favorite coffee shop called Cafe u Dvorištu, which was opened by the other Matija.

u-dvoristeU Dvoriste
U Dvoriste is situated in a quiet backyard setting in the center of a building block. Immediately next door, there’s a small roastery – Cogito Coffee Roasters – where you can see where your coffee was roasted. You can enjoy a delicious coffee with milk or even a cup of aeropress coffee, as well. Naturally, they also sell their coffee – either in bean or ground version. Do you know why Cogito Coffee blend is called “Tesla”? Because their location actually used to be a lightbulb factory.

42-coffee-co42 Coffee Co.
In the cozy ambient of 42 Coffee Co., located on (old) Vlaška, they serve top-notch coffee and guarantee pure pleasure. The lovely barista will chat with you about all the wonders of coffee. Industrial decor paired with a giant community table with a dog-friendly environment, and you have yourself a winning combination.

chocolat-041Honorable Mention: Chocolat 041
There are few reasons why locals love this place. First it is owned by once very famous football player Zvonimir Boban; Second, decoration is unique with lamps made of old cassettes, chairs look like big puzzle toy or old chairs taken from high school classrooms. This place is fun for the WHOLE FAMILY when you are wanting coffee but need something for your kids to enjoy, too. The ice cream is superb, and the range of irresistible cakes – all of which are based on chocolate in some way or another – almost guarantees repeat visits. Order a delicious espresso which goes sooo well with chocolate, and you’ll have a sweet experience for the whole family.

Which of these coffeehouses are your favorite? How do you like your coffee?

8 Lessons From My First Year Overseas

Today, I hit my anniversary since my family packed everything that we owned and moved overseas and boy, did it fly by. The list seems endless, as I sit here and reflect on what I’ve accomplished and learnt in the last year, but there are certainly a few lessons to note. The best part is that you can take most of them with you no matter if you have moved overseas or not.8LessonsOverseas #1 – Pay Attention to Your Surroundings.
Keep your eyes opened and ears perked at all times because safety and security is important. Before you sign a year lease, rent for a week or a month in a neighborhood, and see if it fits your lifestyle. Does it have a good school for your kids? How close is it to public transportation? Does it have petty crime? Don’t be afraid to ask the locals. I have found them to be the more helpful than the real estate agents.

#2 – Relationships Relationships.
This is becoming such a cliché, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of whom you know in your city. People want to know who you are and why you live in their country. Get out there and meet people. They will soon be like family. When you have an emergency, it is good to know that you have friends who will be there for you.

#3 – You’re in Control.
No one is going to push you forward, but yourself and that really applies to all aspects of life. You won’t be confident all the time, especially in the beginning, but you should never take a conservative approach by waiting in silence for your neighbors to invite you over for coffee or for dinner. You dictate where you want to be and where you can go – knock on their door and ask someone over to your house.

#4 – Be Open-minded and Willing to Learn.
Yes, you are knowledgeable, but your way isn’t the only way nor is it the right way. Be humble, flexible and adaptable because you are the foreigner. By observing and learning from those around you, you may begin to act more like a local.

#5 – Know Your Currency.
Learning currency conversion is very important. Before you go on a shopping spree, make sure that you have the conversion rate ready, and your calculator on your phone open. You don’t want to bankrupt the first month or two of moving overseas.

#6 – Be Willing to Put in The Hours of Language.
Learning a new language is not easy. Just accept the fact that you will not be fluent in an year. Ok, well, there are some of you that will be, but I just want people to be realistic. There is so much to learn and absorb. Although it’s not always fun, you will need to put in the hours, especially in the beginning when you’re learning and trying to communicate with locals. Be prepared for super high and low moments. I have some great stories about things I said that were COMPLETELY wrong, but the people are so gracious because you are trying. Just remember that. 🙂

#7 – Don’t Be a Whiner.
No one likes to be around the pessimist, who complains about everything. That’s the kind of attitude that doesn’t get you friends. Conditions won’t always be ideal, so strive to have a “what’s the best way to approach this problem” attitude. This way, you’ll become more tactical and strategic in how you handle any obstacles that come your way.

#8 – 100% All the Time.
You won’t like living overseas all the time. There will tasks you’ll need to do that seem insignificant, inconvenient and just flat out senseless. You may even realize that living overseas is not as romantic as you thought, and you’re just not into the gig anymore. Focus on the positive. Take sometime to stop what you are doing, and go outside. Go to your favorite restaurant. Hike your favorite mountain. Sit on your favorite beach.larrybirdquote

10 Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria

IMG_0704If you’re looking for a city with absolutely everything then Varna should be on your bucket list. It’s oozing with tradition, coastline and history, and to add to its appeal, it’s incredibly cheap, which makes it a perfect destination for a family on a budget. But what is there to see? Here’s my top 10 things to do in Varna, Bulgaria.

1. Play at the Children’s Nook
Located inside the Primorski Park, your family can enjoy different entertainment for kids of all ages. They will find an excursion train, mini golf, artificial pond with water wheels, inflate castle and so much more. There are restaurants beside the Children’s Nook, where the parents can rest, while the kids play.IMG_0744
2. Eat at Parmy Restaurant
Parmy is family-run restaurant in Varna, and it is absolutely unbeatable in terms of value for money, quality of food and service.IMG_1703
3. Lay on the beach at Sunny Day
Sunny Day is perfect for the family who loves making sand castles, get a tan and relax on the beach. It’s not as touristy as the other beaches and you still enjoy the golden sand. The water is calm from the middle of June until the beginning of September, providing perfect conditions for summer holiday.IMG_1720
4. Explore the Varna Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum displays fine collections from prehistory to Antiquity but, above all, it houses two treasures. The first of these, found in Varna’s necropolis, consists of weapons, objects and gold jewelry (4600-4200 BC). The second comprises chased-gold jewelry, including exceptionally fine earrings. The upper floor presents the main periods of Bulgaria’s history, from 681 to 1878: medieval treasure, religious gold work and superb icons. The works of the Triavna school should not be missed either.

5. Stroll Through in the Sea Garden
Sea Garden is located by the beach. You will not only enjoy the nice atmosphere of impressive trees and accurately arranged small gardens, but you also will be able to visit some of the best sight of Varna that are located namely in this park.IMG_0746
6. Grab a gelatoIMG_0738
7. Walk to Aladža Monastery
A thirty-minute walk takes you to Aladža Monastery. Occupied during the 13th and 14th century, it was hollowed into a limestone cliff over a height of several stories. The chapel of the deceased, the refectory and the monks’ cells are on the first level. On the second level, the rock church, decorated with remarkable frescoes, offers a splendid view of the Black Sea. Not to be missed: the catacombs, a small museum devoted to monastic life and terraces reserved, in summer, to cultural events.

8. See How the Romans Bathed
The Roman Baths are one of the most valuable monuments of culture in Varna, situated in the central part of the city, on the corner of the streets San Stefano and Khan Krum. This is one of the sites of the Archaeological Museum in the city. The Public Baths of Odessos are one of the most preserved architectural monuments of the Roman Age in Bulgaria (1st – 4th century). They are of the so called “small imperial style” and their construction refers to the end of the 2nd century.

9. Visit Summer Palace of Queen Marie & Botanical Gardens in Balchik
This palace was completed in 1926 by King Ferdinand of Romania for his English wife, Queen Marie (as Balchik was a part of Romania). It was rumored that Marie entertained her much younger Turkish lover here. The architecture – a blend of Bulgarian, Gothic and Islamic styles topped with a minaret – is unique. The rooms on show contain original furnishings, including paintings by Marie, and several photographs of the queen striking dramatic poses in the grounds. Also here is a curious collection of local archaeological finds, including Roman pottery and mammoth bones. Behind the palace are the extensive botanical gardens. Around 600 species of flora are featured throughout a series of themed gardens, including an impressive collection of cacti.

10. Parasail on the Black Sea
A parasailing ride is the new trendy attraction along the beaches of the Black Sea. You enjoy a motor boat-driven, parachute flight over the sea. The flight lasts approximately 12 minutes and guarantees high adrenaline and an unforgettable view over the beach.varna-parasailing

LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort Travel Guide

LEGOLAND-Deutschland-Resort-Travel-GuideJust a train ride from Munich, Germany, in beautiful Günzburg, LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort is a budding brick-builder’s paradise. The whole park is themed around the colorful LEGO bricks, which you’ll find oversized on rides, pieced together for fantastic photo ops and assembled in models throughout the park, as well as the entire section of Miniland, which offers LEGOized reproductions of ten areas around the world + imaginary Star Wars universe. That’s 20 million LEGO bricks in that one section alone!MinilandLEGO-R2D2If you’re always stepping on stray LEGOs around the house, then you already know this is a place you should go. But even if you’re little ones aren’y yet hard-core LEGO devotees, they will still have a blast because everything in the park is geared for ages 2-12. The park is the ultimate little playground, but it can get very crowded, especially during the summer months. We’ve put together these LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort Travel Guide, so that you can make the most of your day or two in the park. Now, we are talking about making the most of your time, but be prepared for your kids to find at least one place in the park they love and don’t want to leave like Adventure Land. Let them go at their own pace and enjoy the sights and attractions! Actually, we HIGHLY recommend coming back a second day. 🙂

Edutainment

LEGOLAND Deutschland offers a little education with their fun-filled experience at the theme park. Located in LEGO X-TREME, LEGOLAND ATLANTIS by SEA LIFE is a great place to cool off in the summer, and the kids learn a lot while enjoying amazing views in the aquarium. Also in LEGO X-Treme is the LEGO Academy, where you explore your creative side.

Shows

LEGOLAND Deutschland offers numerous shows throughout the park, and they change throughout the season. From the Castle Theatre to LEGO Arena, from Monkey Theatre to LEGO Studios, your family will be entertained. Be sure to check the show schedule when you visit the park. On busy days, you should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to show time to see a show.LEGO-Monkey-Theatre

Food

LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort’s food is delicious with international options at many vendors. My family’s favorite is Schnitzel Depot. Who doesn’t German Schnitzel?! If you’re in the mood for something sweet, make a stop at Ice Cream Station for some yummy ice cream. However, you may also pack a picnic and bring your own food (we especially appreciate this with children who may not want to wait in line or desire smaller portions).LEGO-Schnitzel-DepotLEGO-Ice-Cream

LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort Travel Guide Tips

  • Bring bottled water, snacks and consider bringing a picnic.
  • Set a budget. You can spend as little or as much as you like. If you bring your own camera for pictures, pack a picnic and limit souvenir purchases, you can still have a great time with rides, shows, demonstrations, etc. Plan according to your family budget and know that souvenirs and food are typical amusement park prices and plan accordingly. We purchased the Family F&B Ticket in advance, where we saved up to 30% of our delicious food and felt fortunate to enjoy the full LEGOLAND Deutschland experience.
  • Measure your children before the trip and determine which rides they will be able to enjoy.
  • Bring a camera.
  • Dress comfortably for a day at an amusement park. Wear comfortable shoes. In the summer, plan for water rides. In the winter, plan to be outside in the cold.
  • Don’t forget to put on or bring your sunscreen!

I hope this LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort Travel Guide proves to be helpful for your next trip. I highly encourage you to bring your family and friends there!

Family Summer Vacations are Important Not Just Fun!

family-vacation-quotes

It’s August and as summer vacation time begins to wind down I am more than a little emotional thinking about the last summer of my boy’s high school years.   We just got back from our annual summer family vacation and this time it was our family’s first cruise together.   Some years we have had big vacations (Florida, Colorado, California, Europe, New York, and DC) and others years we’ve taken shorter and closer to home summer vacations like San Antonio and Galveston.   But I have always made sure we do something to get away for a few days because I am a huge believer in the importance of family summer vacations.

Cruise Summer 2015 3021

“We can’t afford it”, “I can’t take the time off from work” or “The kids are too busy with summer activities” are the standard excuses that most people give.   They may all be great reasons why you shouldn’t but there are many more reasons why you should.  But first,  I want to be specific here, it’s okay to go on trips with other families or friends sometimes but I believe that you will not get the same benefits from those trips.  I’m talking about your family, whether it’s both parents or a single parent and your kids (and not your kids’ friends tagging along to keep them entertained).   These trips should be about you and your core family and the time you spend bonding, sharing experiences. and getting to know your children even better.  They are forced to interact with you, no distractions like video games, TV, etc.  Some distractions are okay occasionally, but make sure you have rules about it.  We’re here to bond kids, okay?

Here are some of the many benefits that you and your family will gain:

  1. Your kids grow up really fast and won’t be kids forever….

My twin boys, Jack and Jared will be seniors in high school this year.  It seems like they were in grade school the day before yesterday.  If your kids are still really young it probably seems like time is crawling.  But believe me when I tell you  (and everyone else who has kids) that your time with them will fly by.  Don’t say to yourself that you will take a vacation when they’re older, or when we have more money, or use a million other excuses.  Just do it. There will be a time after they graduate from high school and have busy lives of their own when it just won’t happen.  Don’t allow them NOT to go on the family vacation.  You’re the parent here.

Family Photo San Antonio 2010.JPG2

I’ll be honest. some vacations will be more successful than others but here’s where planning skills come in.  That’s what we have the internet for!  Take in consideration your kids’ ages and select appropriate activities for them.  There are many websites available to help you plan that dream family vacation.

  1. Vacations mean spending quality time with your family

This is a huge benefit.  Families are consistently on the go. There’s work, school, sports and numerous other activities that distract you from each other.   Vacations force you to spend quality time together.   You will actually eat meals together and those are invaluable moments to get to know your children’s better.  Take advantage of it!

Cruise Jack and Jared 2015

  1. Vacations are about creating memories.

The big summer family vacations my family took when I was growing up are huge memories that I have from my childhood.  I may not remember everything that happened during the school year or the million things that my parents did for me throughout the year but I have precious memories from the vacations we took together as a family.  Surprisingly, I can remember so many things from the age of 5 when we made that classic family driving trip to the Grand Canyon and California.   I wouldn’t trade those trips for anything.  My father died when I was 9 years old and most of the memories I have of him are from the vacations we took as a family.

These are the memories that your children will remember years from now.  They will talk about the good things that happened on the trip and yes the bad things too.  Vacations are not always perfect but even some of the bad experiences can be learning moments and hopefully you can laugh about them later.   Take lots of photos and videos too because that will help embed those memories in your child’s mind.   I still love to look at my families’ old home movies.

  1. Vacations give you permission to relax and are healthy for you.

Parents and children constantly have their heads in work and school work.  Our kids have much more homework these days than we ever did as children.  They are under so much stress to keep up their grades to ensure they get into the colleges they want and to be involved in extracurricular activities.  Most families don’t even eat dinner together anymore.  Everyone is too busy going in different directions.   Go have fun together for a change.  Be sure and don’t schedule too many activities though on the vacation, remember this is all about fun and not stressing out about having to be somewhere every minute.

     5.  Vacations are about seeing new places and experiencing new things.

You don’t have to break the bank on vacations.  Whether you go far and take a luxurious vacation or do something nearby that is more economical, it will be beneficial.  You and your children will have several new experiences that they otherwise would not have.  My husband took my son, Jack scuba diving for the first time on our cruise which was an unbelievable experience for a father and son to share.  My other son Jared and I went on our first submarine ride together to see the wonders of sea life but stayed dry while doing it.  We loved it (both the sea life and staying dry).

Cruise Jay and Jack Scuba 2015

These are just a few of the many benefits.  Go with a great attitude, be ready to let loose and have fun.   I guarantee you will never be sorry that you took the time to take a family vacation.   Our recent cruise was priceless to me.  The four of us shared a cabin and yes it was uncomfortable and annoying at times but the night time banter that we had when we were all trying to go to sleep was priceless.

Here are just a few of the memories that I have from this trip that I will treasure forever:   Jack singing one of my favorite songs during Karaoke night just because he knew I loved it and wanted him to sing it.  I almost cry every time I think about it.   Also, watching Jared laugh his head off at the Comedy Shows  was priceless.  Jared loves comedy and kept us entertained the whole trip with his puns and sarcastic wit.  But the best memory of all was just being together for five days as a family of four.  How do you put a price on that?

Cruise Jackie and Jared

So it’s not too late to work in that last minute trip this summer before school starts!  Go make some memories and Bon Voyage!

Cruise Summer 2015

Top 10 Restaurants in Ljubljana

Ljubljana-RestaurantsLjubljana has a vibrant culinary scene. There are kitchens that turn out the very best dishes which left us drooling on the tablecloth and others that deliver special, sincere service. Ljubljana has hand-picked the best foods around Europe and adopted them as their own. Here are our top 10 favorite places to eat.

1. Druga Violinadruga-violina-krompirdruga-violina-strukeljDruga Violina uses locally grown produce from a nearby farm, only serves traditional Slovene dishes and located in the city’s old town, but there’s a twist in the tale with the “second violin.” It’s actually a project for people with special needs, who complete tasks on a farmland near Ljubljana and also work as servers in the restaurant. Try their daily specials (meat, chicken and vegetarian) – our kids and adults LOVED them. Also, try pražen krompir. In 2002, this Slovenian love for this dish resulted in the creation of the world’s first Society for the Recognition of a Sautéed Potatoes as a Main Dish and organized a World Sautéed Potato Festival, held each year in a different Slovenian town, so it is fitting that when you visit Slovenia, that you enjoy this dish. 🙂 Lastly, you must order their Ljubljanski štrukelj , which was the perfect “coda” to our musical culinary concerto!

2. Gostilna Delagostilna-delaGostilna Dela has a special focus given to creating employment opportunities for local youth that would be otherwise excluded from the working world. A variety of daily menus are on offer (meat, fish and vegetarian), and you won’t find a restaurant more in tune with the desires of its customers. Trying the homemade štruklji, and thank us later.

3. Gostilna Na Gradu
Gostilna-na-graduLocated on the grounds of the Ljubljana castle, this friendly restaurant is posh without feeling pretentious. Much of the menu is determined entirely by the local ingredients available form the nearby food market. Try their sampler appetizer plate with some pâtés and their daily specials, which they pick up that day in the market.

4. Gostilnica XXIgostilnica-xxiGostilna Rimska XXI is perfect when you want to try traditional Slovenian cuisine in an attractive setting. The chefs use local ingredients. Try žlikrofi or Istrian fuži.

5. Restavracija JBJB-ravioliChef Janez Bratovż is famously known for his ravioli with pistachio, foie gras, goat cheese and covered in a cream sauce. Try the polenta or bear meat appearing from time to time.

6. Güjžina
gujzinaGüjžina offers traditional cuisine from the region of Prekmurje, which is situated in the far northeastern corner of the country and influenced by neighboring Hungary, Austria and Croatia. Try the award-winning bograč and the gibanica, considered the best in the city.

7. Pri Škofupri-skofuRun by women, Pri Škofu serves some of the best prepared local dishes and salads in Ljubljana, with an ever-changing menu. Try their ginger soup and traditional cherry and cheese dumpling.

8. Restaurant Asgostilna-asGostilna As has an eclectic international menu with delicious salads and pastas, but the prosciutto stands out. The atmosphere in the restaurant and its rooftop terrace make it a super cool place to enjoy an appetizer and light meal in the evening.

9. ŠpajzaspajzaOld Town’s Špajza offers less common meats on their menu, such as rabbit, lamb and even kid goat in its homely decorated establishment.Try the žrebičkov z jurčki, if you want to feel like Andrew Zimmern.

10. TaBarTaBarTaBar offers a huge variety of Slovenian food. With the small portions (remembers that they are tapas), it is a great way to sample the best of local delicacies. Try their prosciutto, which is considered a Slovenian specialty, oxtail, sea bass and sausage.

For those wanting a culinary experience beyond simply eating in a restaurant, consider joining Ljubljananjam Food Walks, created and led by born and raised local Iva Gruden. There are also cooking classes on traditional Slovenian food, like Cook Eat Slovenia. On Fridays between March and October, there is Odprta kuhna market, which has become a staple for many Ljubljana people and foreigners alike.