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When my friends over at Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa invited me to stay on property, I jumped at the chance to extend my sunny Christmas vacation in Florida visiting the in-laws. If this doesn’t make me a legit “snow bird”, then I don’t know what does. Not to mention, this was a prime opportunity to ditch the kids for a few days with free, built-in babysitters (their grandparents) and have some alone time with The Giant, who was approaching a milestone 40th birthday. With the windows down and music blaring, we screamed “Be good!” and “Peace out!” to the kids and headed for the Treasure Coast for four days of uninhibited beachside fun.

Road-tripping through Florida is nothing to write home about (unless you count the hugest and busiest rest stop I’ve ever seen, it’s a very flat state with no interesting scenery), but the benefits of being together with your sweetheart – without kids fighting in the back seat – far outweighs anything else! After the two-and-a-half hour drive from our in-laws’ home, we arrived at the most gorgeous oceanside luxury resort, Hutchinson Shores Resort, that made us want to strip down to our skivvies and jump right in!

But first, we checked in to our room, which was airy and fresh with modern coastal touches like bold striped curtains. We had a breathtaking oceanside view from wall to wall glass doors, which we left open at night to fall asleep to the salty sea breeze and to wake to the gentle rolling waves. Our balcony was perfect for hanging out on every day. I’m obsessed with soft linens, and the bath towels at Hutchinson Shores Resort were heavenly – so much that I looked at the tag and saw the towels were all dated with utter care by month and year. That’s the mark of a luxury hotel, in my opinion.

We dined several times at the resort’s restaurant, Drift Kitchen + Bar, which was beyond delicious in a fresh seafood meets modern Italian kind of way. For our first dinner at Drift we got a bit wild, ordering a little surf and turf. My blue crab crusted grouper was the yin to The Giant’s yang (a center cut NY strip steak). The flavors were so perfectly nuanced, the sear just right – kudos to having a delicious meal just an arm’s length away from our home away from home the next few days. (And might I add, breakfast was pretty special too; think crab cake benedicts, amaretto French toast, short rib hash, ya know NBD.)

The truth is, Hutchinson Shores Resort seemed very family-friendly and I spent a few seconds thinking about how my kids would have really enjoyed it here… but somewhere in between a romantic horseback ride on Jensen Beach, checking out a cool car museum, lazily exploring charming downtown Stuart – oh, and poolside drinks – I’d be lying if I said our time alone here wasn’t just right. I cannot wait to “flock” back down to Hutchinson Shores Resort the next time we visit our in-laws!

This post is in partnership with Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa, but all opinions are my own.

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This post has been sponsored by Del Monte®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Things that happened before 11am:

I told myself I’m going to pretend they’re not fighting and acting like animals.

One kid got into my makeup.

I broke my finger, don’t ask (but score, for it being the first time ever breaking a bone). Then Rhys said to me, “I forgive you for breaking your finger”. Oh, the irony.

I didn’t have time to have my morning coffee, and I read a text message incorrectly and went to meet the girls for lunch…a day early!!! 

Two of my boys fell into mud and they smelled terrible.

I’m still scrambling around to find a sitter for tonight’s date night.

I’m pretty sure they banded together to make sure they break me today.

But, I did manage to eat a quick, satisfying breakfast before I hit the road this morning. Del Monte® has a line of fruit snacks for adults that are a godsend to all moms! Quick, easy, and tasty. Today, while my little one was busying himself in my makeup, apparently, I enjoyed a Del Monte® Fruit & Oats™ cup at home—it’s the first ready-to-eat oatmeal with one full serving of fruit*! It can be warmed up but is also pretty good eaten cold (like I did this morning). There are three delicious flavors: Pear Maple, Peach Cinnamon Spice, and good ol’ Apple Cinnamon. Love that I don’t have to whip out any pots, but I can still have all the goodness and flavor of oats that taste just like how mom used to make ‘em.

Who loves a good on-the-go snack like I do? My latest favorite mom hack is the Del Monte® Fruit Refreshers®. It’s conveniently packaged and would be great to take along during your day spent chauffeuring your kids around like it’s your job. Oh wait… At under 100 calories, these tasty fruit cups are basically the grown-up version of the fruit cups you used to love as a child—except with no artificial flavors or sweeteners. What’s your favorite refreshing flavor? Mine’s the Pineapple in Passion Fruit, hands down!

Don’t forget to try Del Monte® Fruit & Chia™ cups, too. Chia is a superfood, and it’s all the rage amongst hipster moms, but I’m just loving the tropical fruity flavors that take me back to the days of summer. The extra fiber, vitamin C and omega-3s don’t hurt 😉 If you’re so inclined to share your goodies with your little monsters (kidding), all of the Del Monte products come in a 2-pack and you can find them in the fruit cup aisle at your local retailer. Try it and save $0.75 on a one-pack of Del Monte Fruit & Oats Cups here, you’ll thank me later!  

*Each container has 1 serving (1/2 cup) of fruit per USDA Nutrient Data

 

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This post is in collaboration with Minted. All opinions are mine alone.

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It’s that time of year when bells are ringing and moms everywhere are scrambling to take family photos for the annual holiday card. That’s how the song goes, right? Cue the usual Christmas pjs and snowflake sweaters. If you didn’t wear cheesy matching outfits, did it even happen?

Every year I have such a great time concepting my family’s annual holiday photos. I think many moms feel stressed about this, but I love it! It gives me a chance to be extra creative and thoughtful with our family’s theme, and also, we usually have a good time together doing it. This year’s theme – a cookie baking food fight – was probably the wildest, most carefree one we’ve done to date. The Giant tried to shut down the cookie fight idea, but I told him he was being a party pooper for everyone involved. I mean, wouldn’t you have wanted to egg your mom or throw flour at your dad as a child?

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I actually had no idea what to do for this year’s holiday photos up until three days before. I happened to be visiting this amazing studio/kitchen for a client shoot. From there, and with a little inspiration from this Pinterest photo, the idea of a festive food fight was born. As a lifestyle blogger and also a professional photographer, I always try to think outside the box, push the creative envelope a little when it comes to photoshoots.

Once I have an idea in mind, I plan things down to the littlest details: I wanted a white kitchen for the photos, so we rented that incredible studio (bonus is that I didn’t have to make a mess in my own kitchen!). I bought a few props from Target like the Christmas tree table toppers and branches. We wore our regular clothes so no stress in coordinating outfits or shopping. I chose this pretty card design from Minted.com which offers the best curated designs from independent artists and designers. We had a great time relaxing together (um, I mean throwing flour at each other) and laughing. A lot.

baking with kids messy holiday cards funnypinthis

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Photos by the talented Lauren Ashley Studios.

For more family holiday photo inspiration, check out my previous years:

2017 Americana nostalgia

2016 Mrs. Claus and her elves

2015 Holiday chic in the city

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Of all the cities in the world that I’ve visited, London is my top pick for traveling to with children. This is my second time visiting, but my first bringing the kids. Despite all the cool things we did while on our 3-week multi-city Euro trip, my kids LOVED London the most. (Check out my posts from Vienna, Hallstatt, and Salzburg.) It’s safe to say they have the fondest memories of their time spent here in the UK, especially London.

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From prehistoric Stonehenge and the Roman-built baths in Bath, England, to the lavender fields of North Kent, our hearts were taken by all the charming pastel neighborhoods in London, and the city’s abundance of educational, historical, and entertaining activities. London is a family’s paradise – there is something for everyone – and I’ll tell you about some of our faves:

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Hop-On Hop-Off with The London Pass

Hop-on hop-off buses are the best way to see a big city with kids. We rode the Tube when we were just leisurely exploring the neighborhoods, but we also choose a hop-on hop-off bus tour day package (which we like to do in every major city we visit). In London, we went with The London Pass to get us to all the major sites. First, it saves you money because entry fees to London’s most popular attractions are already paid for and included in the price of The London Pass. Second, it saves you (and the kids) a lot of walking. On top of that, you can really pack in a lot of attractions without having to break a sweat. You can hop-off at the places you like to explore more, and then hop back on again!

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Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge is synonymous with LONDON to the world. It was built between 1886 and 1894 and designed to be harmonious with the Tower of London. This drawbridge has two prominent Gothic towers which are linked by high-level footbridges, encased in steel latticework. My kids’s absolutely fave part was the glass floor in the walkways at the very top of the Tower Bridge. It was even more cool when we were laying on the glass, the drawbridge was going up! This only happens 3-5 times a day! You can plan your Tower Bridge experience here.

p.s. LONG LINES here, so buy tickets in advance, or if you have the London Pass, it’s already included!

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Tower of London

The Tower of London is an absolute must-see part of any London itinerary. It has been a royal palace, a prison, an execution site, a zoo, a museum, and a crown jewel house. Because of its history over a thousand years, you can imagine the stories (and legends) are never-ending and highly entertaining! At one point inside the Tower of London, while we were waiting in the massive line to see the Crown Jewels, my kids were starting to act crazy. So I asked one of the Royal Guards to set them straight. And he did! They were on their best behavior after that ‘cuz they were scared they were going into the dungeon where they keep bad kids.

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The London Dungeon

This attraction is nasty in a good way, with all the gruesome gory bits from London’s history. Small boys love this stuff. The actor led tours are awesome and we learned all about medieval torture methods, Jack the Ripper, the plague and the great fire. If your kids are old enough (or just really brave and crazy like mine) and like their history horrible, they’ll love this experience for sure!

Hope you enjoyed reading the highlights from our time in London – scroll down for more pics!

xo, Melissa

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