Author: Michele Duncan

10 Strawberry Fields in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Virginia

10 Strawberry Fields in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Virginia

In the month of May, residents and visitors in the Hampton Roads area get excited for the start of the strawberry season. In fact, we love strawberries so much, we have an annual festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Pungo strawberry festival is a weekend event that includes strawberry picking, foods, events, and so much more. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the May 2020 festival has been cancelled. This would have been their 37th annual event. While the festival will be greatly missed, I have put together a list of 10 places to either pick your own or pick up a container of the freshest strawberries around.

Please note that there are a few guidelines in effect that the farms have to strictly follow because of Covid-19. Most farms are not requiring you to wear masks/gloves, but strongly recommend it. You also have to practice social distancing while picking your berries. Farms will not be weighing berries this year, instead you will pay a flat fee on a bucket to fill. There is also absolutely no sampling of berries while picking. Please be sure to follow these protocols so that we can ensure our farmers can stay in business. Visit the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for the full list of rules for picking during the pandemic.

Cullipher Farms

1444 Princess Anne Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23457

Image from Cullipher Farms Facebook page

Cullipher Farms is not doing pick your own strawberries this year. You can however order a 5-pound bucket online, and pick up at their produce stand in Pungo. I purchased a bucket last week and they were amazing! They also offer other fruits, vegetables, ciders, eggs, and bakery items.

Flanagan Farms

Located on the corner of Princess Anne Rd and North Muddy Creek Road. Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Image from Flanagan Farms Facebook page

Flanagan Farms is open for strawberry picking. They also offer pre-picked strawberries for those that aren’t interested in self picking. The normal picking hours are normally 7am – 7pm, but have been adjusted daily due to the abundance of pickers. They also offer other fruits and vegetables. Check out there Facebook page to see what items are offered daily.

Salem Berry Farm

1763 Salem Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Image from Salem Berry Farm’s Facebook page

Salem Berry Farm is open daily for strawberry picking. Like every other farm, be sure to check out their Facebook page for up to date business hours. If the farm becomes picked out, they often have to close for a day or two for the next batch of berries to ripen for picking. This farm also offers pre-picked berries in containers with lids.

Henley Farms

3484 Charity Neck Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456

Image from Henley Farms Facebook page

Henley Farms offers strawberry picking for $2.59/pound or $5.50/quart. You can even pick your own kale for $1.00 pound. While you are there you can also shop for bedding plants, hanging baskets, and herbs. The farm asks that you wear gloves and a mask while checking in and checking out only.

Vaughan Farms Produce

1258 Princess Anne Road., Virginia Beach, VA 23457

Image from Vaughan Farms Produce Facebook page

Vaughan Farms in Virginia Beach is open this year for you-pick strawberries as well as pre-picked berries. They will be offering two sizes of containers to fill this year: 4-quart buskets ($15 to fill) and 2-quart baskets ($8 to fill). You can save $1 if you bring buskets/baskets from home that you have previously purchased from them. You can also purchase additional vegetables while you are at the farm. Please check out their Facebook page for daily hours.

VB Farmers Market

3640 Dam Neck Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23453

Image from VB Farmer’s Market Facebook page. This berry is from Creekmore’s Place.

You won’t find a strawberry picking field at the market, but you will find fresh farm to table vegetables. This includes (you guessed it) strawberries!!! You will also find, watermelon, peaches, cantaloupes, green beans, and so much more! For a complete list of their markets, please visit this link www.vbgov.com/farmersmarket

Brookdale Farms

2060 Vaughan Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456 & 2133 Mount Pleasant Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Image from Brookdale Farms Facebook page

Brookdale farm offers two different locations and are open for you-pick strawberries as well as already picked berries. Because of the pandemic (to limit contact between clerks and customers), they will not be weighing baskets of picked berries this year. Instead, Customers will pre-pay for a busket that holds approximately 5 pounds of berries. The cost is $14.00. They also require that everyone wear a mask to pick their berries. Children over the age of two are also required to wear a mask.

Hickory Ridge Farm

2928 Battlefield Blvd., Chesapeake, VA 23322

Image from Hickory Ridge Farm Facebook page

Hickory Ridge Farm is open daily from 10-5 and 12-5 on Sundays. You can pick your own berries at the farm or have them pre-picked for you. If you bring your own basket that is similar to theirs, you only pay $14. If you buy a new basket to fill the cost is $15. They also have smaller baskets for $7.50. I can’t add everything that Hickory Ridge offers, but let me just say it’s a lot. Here is a sampling: cucumbers, zucchini, squash, apples, corn, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, baked goods, jams, honey, salsa, Amish butter, and hanging baskets.

Lilley Farm

2800 Tyre Neck Road, Chesapeake, VA 23321

Image from Lilley Farm Facebook page

Lilley Farms is open daily at 8am until berries are picked out. They offer both you pick berries as well as pre-picked berries. The cost of a fill basket is $12.50 each. This farm also offers honey, jams, jellies, CBD products and more.

Mount Pleasant Farms

2201 Mount Pleasant Road, Chesapeake, VA 23322

Image from Mount Pleasant Farms Facebook page

Mount Pleasant Farms offers you-pick strawberries as well as pre-picked berries. Their 4-quart basket is $14.50 and $7.25 for a 2-quart. This farm has all of your produce needs from watermelons, squash, peppers, potatoes, flowers, and more. You can also order grab bags with an assortment of items.

This concludes my list of 10 must-see strawberry fields in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, VA. Let me know in the comment section below if you have visited any of these farms or if you know of any others to add to the list.

10 Activities to Do While Stuck at Home

10 Activities to Do While Stuck at Home

During this serious time of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for eliminating social contact, many people have had to cancel their upcoming plans. This includes vacations, concerts, hands on activity classes, and so much more. We live in a fast paced society and look forward to these down times for rest and relaxation. A time to forget about all of the stress in our lives and just have fun. While having to cancel our plans, we don’t have to succumb to the sofa. I have put together a list of 10 activities to do while stuck at home.

Visit explore

explore (www.explore.org) is a multimedia organization that documents leaders around the world who have devoted their lives to extraordinary causes. Both educational and inspirational, explore creates a portal into the soul of humanity by championing the selfless acts of others. (explore)

explore features a wide range of topics—from animal rights, health and human services, and poverty to the environment, education, and spirituality. Delivered in short, digestible bites, explore films appeal to viewers of all ages, from children learning about other cultures for the first time to adults looking for a fresh perspective on the world around them. (explore)

You can watch an array of live cams. Just to name a few – African safari, dog shelters, cat sanctuaries, oceans, birds, bears, alligators, zen cams, and so much more. I don’t know how I am going to finish this article, because I can’t stop switching through all of the different live cams. FYI, if you don’t already know, I am a huge animal lover.

Visit NASA

Take a look at the International Space Station on UStream. This is a live video from the International Space Station which includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/iss_ustream.html

You can also watch high definition views of Earth from the space station. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/iss-hdev-payload

Visit Scholastic Magazines

From the editors of Scholastic Classroom Magazines: Even when schools are closed, you can keep the learning going with these special cross-curricular journeys. Every day includes four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own, with their families, or with their teachers. Just find your grade level and let the learning begin! classroommagazines.scholastic.com

Visit Josh Gad on Twitter (@joshgad)

Every night during the Coronavirus quarantines, actor Josh Gad will be reading children’s books at 7:30 PM/EST/4:30 PT

Visit Stand Up NY

Laughter is good for the soul. While it is not a good idea to go out to the comedy club at this time, you can still see the shows from the comfort of your own home. Stand Up NY is offering live stream shows. Check out their website www.standupny.com for performance schedules. There is a fee for this activity.

Stand Up NY opened its doors in 1986 and has since become one of New York City’s premiere comedy clubs. Celebrated for its rich history, elegant interior and outstanding performers, Stand Up NY has created an exclusive comedy experience as it sets the standard for other comedy clubs. From Jerry Seinfeld to Chris Rock to Jon Stewart, our stage continues to be a breeding ground for the brightest stars of today and tomorrow. (Stand Up NY)

Visit the Metropolitan Opera

Beginning March 16, the Met will stream a title from its Live in HD series each night through the duration of the closure. The performances, originally captured as live broadcasts in movie theatres worldwide, will begin at 7:30 PM from the company’s homepage.  (The featured performances—and several others—are available via the Met Opera on Demand subscription service, though the videos in the nightly series will be made available for free for 20 hours following the initial stream). (PLAYBILL)

The Metropolitan Opera is a vibrant home for the most creative and talented singers, conductors, composers, musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers from around the world. (The Metropolitan Opera)

The Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883, with its first opera house built on Broadway and 39th Street by a group of wealthy businessmen who wanted their own theater. In the company’s early years, the management changed course several times, first performing everything in Italian (even Carmen and Lohengrin), then everything in German (even Aida and Faust), before finally settling into a policy of performing most works in their original language, with some notable exceptions. (The Metropolitan Opera)

Visit Google Arts & Culture

Going to a crowded museum is not in the cards for us at the moment, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the arts. Google has partnered with over 500 museums and galleries so that you can view these exquisite pieces right from your computer. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en&tab=pop

Cook Meals Together

Get creative with what’s in the kitchen and prepare a meal with your family. This would be a wonderful opportunity to teach children how to clean vegetables before cooking. It is also a great way to enjoy quality time together.

Read a Book

Do you love reading books but life is just too fast paced? This is your time to shine! We will all be having some downtime, so take a moment to enjoy a new novel. Reading material tip: many public libraries have books to download on to your computer.

Play a Board Game

My husband and I are big board game fans. In our home we have four large shelves stocked with our favorite games. Most people have at least one game or a deck of cards to pull out. Bring it to the table with a favorite snack and enjoy family game night. If you are leery of touching game pieces, try doing some charades using the Play Charades app. It’s free, gives clues, provides a timer, and you can keep score http://www.playcharades.net/

Shown above is the game Caverna. One of my favorite games. https://amzn.to/2x0d8Q2

That concludes my list of 10 activities to do when stuck at home. Let me know in the comments below if you have tried any of my suggestions. Please feel free to share other ideas that I might have missed.

10 Best Travel Accessories for Dogs

10 Best Travel Accessories for Dogs

I am a huge dog lover! I have two at the moment, but would definitely have more if room permitted, and we didn’t travel much. How do dogs and traveling relate? There are decisions to make on how to provide care for your dog(s) while you are away. The options that are available are bringing them with you, finding someone to make house visits, or have them stay at a boarding facility. Boarding can be very expensive. Our family has been extremely fortunate as our Australian Shepherd’s breeder does boarding. She takes great care of the dogs in her care and we highly respect her. With that being said, we have traveled with our dogs in the past. Listed below are 10 travel accessories to bring while traveling with dogs. A few of these items I have used (and wouldn’t travel without), but I have also listed a few pieces that I haven’t, but will definitely be trying out in the future.

1. Top Dog Travel Bag – Airline Approved

This bag is amazing! In the past I used a beach bag to carry everything, but this is a game changer. There is a divider inside to keep everything organized. On the sides of the bag there is a pocket for a water bottle, and the other side has a zipper pouch. The bag also includes an insulated storage container for food and treats. The container can hold up to 13 cups of dog food. The bag also provides two collapsible bowls. If there is one thing to take on a trip, this is it! https://amzn.to/32MFol0

2. The Absolute Kitchen Reusable Airtight Pet Storage Container

If your dog’s travel bag doesn’t include food storage containers, you may be opted to store their food in plastic bags. You can help keep the environment cleaner by using these storage bags by The Absolute Kitchen. These containers are built to last and can be washed and used over again. They are even dishwasher safe! https://amzn.to/39hkPzl

3. Comsun 2-Pack Extra Large Collapsible Dog Bowls

I love carrying around these collapsible bowls, whether we are out on a long walk or on a road trip. It’s a convenience to always have a vessel ready to offer your dog a fresh drink of water. https://amzn.to/2vydeOb

4. RC Pet Products Pet First Aid Kit

You never want to be stuck in a situation where your pet needs medical attention. Having a first aid kit is especially helpful if your are hiking. This kit includes bandages, gloves, gauze pads, antiseptic and more. https://amzn.to/32HjMGw

5. AmazonBasics Enhanced Dog Waste Bags

This item is good for everyday use and not just for traveling. I just wanted to share, because the bargain is too good not to. We live in a condo and don’t have a huge back yard. This means we take lots of walks. These bags are thick, have a nice scent, and an amazing price! If you go through a lot of waste bags, you will definitely want to save this link. https://amzn.to/2Te366u

6. Zesty Paws Advanced Calming Bites

Many dogs have heightened anxiety while traveling. It’s such an exciting time to be out with their humans. We have been fortunate that our dogs do well in the car…now. When our Australian Shepherd was a puppy, she would always get car sick. She outgrew it. If she didn’t I definitely would have given these calming bites a try. They have excellent reviews. https://amzn.to/2PCSITl

7. Doggie World Dog Car Seat Cover

This car seat cover works in cars, Suvs and trucks. It will keep your dog safe and your seats clean. I also love how it has a seat belt that can attach to their harness, and a flap to protect the sides of the seat. This car seat cover is machine washable. https://amzn.to/38ft25O

8. Vastar 2 Pack Adjustable Pet Dog Car Seat Belt

This seat belt is designed to keep your dog away from the center console. It is so easy to use. Simply click the belt hook to your furry friends’ harness and they will be safe on your travels. https://amzn.to/39iIIGN

9. Trunk Cargo Liner

We don’t have one of these yet, but it is literally sitting in my Amazon cart (as we speak) for later . When we travel with the pups, we always take them in the suv. This means that there is dog hair EVERYWHERE. Having this insert will save time, as you can just shake it out and throw it in the washing machine as needed. https://amzn.to/39iBaDR

10. Car Dog Barrier

On short trips I usually have my pups in the backseat without a belt or seat protector. My Australian Shepherd constantly tries to hop in the front seat, so I will be purchasing one of these shortly. The mesh barrier is also great; as you can detach it from one side, and use it as a storage bag when your dogs aren’t traveling with you. https://amzn.to/2Th4tRV

I hope that my list will be helpful for you on your next travel, which includes your furry family member. Let me know in the comments below if you have tried any of these items or have any other recommendations.

5 Reasons you should take a Winter Vacation

5 Reasons you should take a Winter Vacation

Today is my husband’s birthday and for the past three years we have been taking a winter vacation to celebrate. Even though we live close to the beach, we travel 2 and a half hours to another beach. It’s not warm here, but it’s not home. It’s a week where we can spend time in a different atmosphere, and just have fun. We take this trip with our 12 closest friends. We are big board gamers, and we all bring our favorite games and play all weekend. As I was sitting here thinking about something travel related to write about, it got me thinking. Why do we predominately take our vacations during the summer? Why not divide the long winter season up by taking a much-deserved vacation? I have put together 5 reasons why you should start planning for a winter vacation.

It’s Cheaper

The beach house that we are staying in is almost 6,000 sq. ft. It includes 10 bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms and 2 half baths, 2 kitchens, 2 living areas, 2 dining room areas, a theatre room, two recreation areas that include arcade games, air hockey, table tennis, and a basketball game. There is even a billiards room. In the winter you will only pay $2,495/week. Which is only $205 person/per week for our group of 12. In the summer you will pay $6,950/week. That’s a $4,455 increase.

Nice Break After Holiday Rush

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, why not take some time to breath? While the holidays are a time of togetherness and love, it can also be a time of stress. We all need a break once in a while, what better time than shortly after?

Minimal Traffic

This is one of my favorite reasons to travel during the winter time. I am an introvert and crowdedness can often overwhelm me. If you travel to a summer destination during the winter (i.e. the beach), rental neighborhoods can be a ghost town. We literally pulled up into the neighborhood last night and it was pitch black. Literally no one is here. The only downside to traveling to summer destinations in the winter is the fact that there are hardly any restaurants open. The grocery stores don’t offer everything that they normally would either (smaller selection in the meat section, etc.). It’s not a problem though if you are staying in a rental home. Simply bring your food with you if it’s a short drive, or plan according to what the grocery stores may offer during the month you will be traveling there.

Cabin Fever

When you live in a place that is extremely cold, you often stay indoors most of the time to stay warm. This can be frustrating. In my case, the trip that we are on is only 2 and a half hours away from my home, which is on the east coast. It is still cool here, but the vacation house is much larger, which provides a different atmosphere. The beach is only a walk down the street, so I bundle up and take the walk. Back home, the beach is 30 minutes away from where I live. I also have to find street parking and walk to it. With that being said, I’m less likely to visit the beach at home in the winter months, despite the fact that it is so close.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

“Did you know that seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect 10 million Americans? Another 10 percent to 20 percent may have mild SAD. Research suggested that people with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D in response to sunlight; vitamin D is believed to play a role in serotonin activity. Insufficiency of vitamin D is associated with clinically significant depression symptoms.” (Psychology Today) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder

 According to Psychology Today, they suggest planning pleasurable activities for the winter season (as well as other examples). This would be the perfect time to get excited about planning a winter vacation. Plan a trip to a warm destination and soak up some of the sun to aid in natural vitamin D.

I hope I have provided you with a few ideas on why vacationing in the winter is an excellent idea. Let me know in the comments below if you and your family have done a winter getaway.

5 Tips for Staying Healthy on Vacation

5 Tips for Staying Healthy on Vacation

Vacation is a time of relaxation. Not worrying about cooking dinner, cleaning, or any other responsibilities that you would have while at home. If you are following a diet plan and trying to stay on track with your workout plan, traveling could stress one out a bit. It takes a little planning beforehand; but staying on track can be done, and I am going to share some tips with you.

If You Are Staying in a Rental Vacation Home

If you are staying in a rental property, you will have the amenities to cook all or some of your meals. Before leaving on vacation, simply create a menu and grocery list. On the day/night that you arrive at your destination, take a trip to the grocery store to get everything you need for the duration of your stay.

If You Are Staying in a Hotel

If you are staying at a hotel, see if there are refrigerators or microwaves available in the room. This option is best if you will be driving to your destination. We previously took a trip to Durham, North Carolina for a board game convention. The hotel that we stayed in provides microwaves, but you have to ask the front desk to bring one to your room. The night before we left for our trip, I went to the grocery store to pick up lunch meat, 647 bread by Schmidt, a bag of pre-cut veggies (for snacks), beef jerky, Sargento Balanced Break packs, and fiber one 70 calorie snack bars. When I got home I prepared a batch of chili and portioned it out in containers. Let’s get back to the 647 bread. I absolutely love bread, and there is no way I would cut it from my diet. This bread is amazing as it only has 40 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and provides 7 grams of fiber per slice!

As mentioned above, going on vacation is nice because you don’t have all of the responsibilities of being at home. We were on our trip with a bunch of friends, and knew that we would be going out to dinner with them in the evenings. With that being said, we used our pre-made food for our lunches during the week and of course snacks during the day.

Tips on Eating out

This is the part that stresses me out. It is often hard to tell what the food is cooked in, how much ingredients are added to the dish, and if it is portioned out the way that is described in their nutritional guide (if they provide one). Don’t be afraid to ask the waitress what dishes are cooked in, as well as any other information you would like to know about your selection. Try to avoid things that are labeled creamy, breaded, fried, crispy, crunchy, and even sautéed. Sautéed could indicate lots of butter or oil. Sticking with fresh veggies and meats with healthy spices is the way to go.

Portion Control

To ensure you are eating the serving size you are targeting, there are two good ways to take your measurements:

Use a picture guide. This one from How Stuff Works gives you examples of everyday items to compare your portion sizes to. https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/food-proportion-pictures.htm

This is a great method if you didn’t bring along your measuring cups and spoons to the restaurant (which may be a little awkward and messy).

Another idea is to purchase a small travel size scale. I have this one from Amazon. https://amzn.to/39cKt89 Ask your waitress for an empty plate to place on the scale and zero it out. Next add your food and take note of the weight.

Working out

Many hotels, and even cruise ships offer workout rooms that provide a few machines and a rack of weights. Figure out what time of the day will work best for you and take advantage of what your hotel has to offer.

If you are staying in a rental home, you may not have access to gym equipment. That doesn’t mean that you can’t workout, it just means you will have to be a bit more creative. My husband and I do workouts from Beach Body. If you are not familiar with Beach Body on Demand, it’s like Netflix for workout programs (I do not sell Beach Body products). You can also find many workouts on YouTube. Our current favorite Beach Body program is Liift4, which is weight lifting and high intensity interval training 4 days a week. We also do yoga on rest days. We download all of our workouts on to our computer, so that we can still stay on track while we are away from home. If we are at a place that doesn’t provide weights, we just do cardio workouts. We even did all of our downloaded workouts while we were on a cruise!

If weights are a part of your workout regimen, there is another option available. You can actually find travel weights. Don’t worry, they aren’t heavy…well at least not until you fill them up. Once you are ready to use them, you fill them with water. It’s such a great idea! If you opt to try them out, please let me know what you think.

You can find these travel water weights on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2RVTr3H

If you are going to a theme park or doing a lot of hiking, this may be enough exercise for you during your trip. You could even take advantage of the hotel pool and do laps. Don’t forget that if you don’t have access to a gym, or downloaded workout videos, bring your tennis shoes. Do a fast-paced jog or walk around the hotel facilities, or the neighborhood of your vacation rental home.

I hope my tips will help you during your fitness journey while on vacation. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips for staying fit while on vacation.

1 Day in Seattle, Washington

1 Day in Seattle, Washington

In May 2019, my husband and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary. We have always wanted to see Alaska, and that is where we decided to celebrate our special milestone. We toured Alaska by cruise, and the ship left out of Seattle. Click here to read about our Alaskan cruise. We have family that lives about an hour away from Seattle, so we spent a day/night with them. The next morning, we got up and headed our way to spend 1 day in Seattle.

Space Needle

It wouldn’t be a trip to Seattle without visiting the Space Needle. I don’t mind heights, but as a child I had a strong fear of elevators. I grew out of that fear, but I have to say that I was a bit nervous about going into an elevator that goes up that high up. It’s a long way down if something happened. I didn’t let that fear bother me though, and really enjoyed the view from the top. There were so many exciting things to see being that high above the city. Many of the apartment buildings had roof top terraces where you could lounge. They even had grassy areas for you to walk your dog. We also saw some amazing murals that were on the roof of the buildings.

One of the levels of the space needle had a rotating floor with a glass bottom, which was very exciting. If you get motion sickness, you may want to opt out. It’s not that it goes fast, it just might affect you with the slow spin and seeing through the floor. At least that was why my husband skipped that portion.

On the way out, you can explore the gift shop and even do a virtual reality experience that is included with your ticket. My son did it and I believe it was a bungee jump.

Museum of Pop Culture

Just a short walk away from the Space Needle is the Museum of Pop Culture. There were so many amazing exhibits to view in a short period of time. While we only did a few hours, I can see taking a long day at the museum or even two days to really take it all in.

Some of our favorite exhibits were the Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, Mario Bros., Phantasm, Nirvana, the music room and the guitar sculpture. They always have a changing exhibit, and while we were there it was Queen (the band). The featured exhibit is not included in the general admission ticket. As much as we love Queen, we unfortunately didn’t have time to tour the exhibit.

The Public Market

Our feet were hurting dearly by this point and we were so tired, but only having one day in Seattle, we crammed it all in. The Public Market is somewhere that you really should visit at least once when you are in the area. It’s the famous market where they do the fish throwing. They don’t do it as frequently as they did in the past. We didn’t even see it, but we did see the fish market. There were so many other wonderful vendors in the market. We saw florists who did arrangements that were so beautiful. Other artisans included jewelry makers, artists, butchers, and varied food vendors. For lunch we ate at The Crab Pot where we had delicious Dungeness, King, and Snow crabs.

Tacos Chukis

We are big fans of tacos and came across Tacos Chukis on Yelp, so we chose it for dinner. It did not disappoint. I have never been a fan of corn tortillas, but Tacos Chukis changed me. My tacos also had the most delicious avocado sauce on top, and I don’t usually like avocado anything. It’s a simple shop that only offers main dishes such as tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and Mexican sandwiches. They don’t offer sides such as rice, beans, or chips. It’s not a problem though as their servings are enough to fill you up.

Amazon Go

We just walked out! We had heard about this market and were excited to see what it was all about. Amazon Go is a small shop that has pre-made meals, and other convenience items. You have to download the Amazon Go app and login before you begin shopping. Once you enter the store, you open up your app and begin shopping. Simply put what you want in your bag, and walk out when you are done. There is no need to stop at the check-out line. In fact, there is no check-out line in the store. I am not sure the technology behind it, but there is something in the store that knows what you put in your bag and charges it to your account.

As you can see, we crammed an extremely large amount of stuff into a one-day period. We like to see it all and we were only there for one day. We live on the east coast, so it is not a place that we visit frequently. You could easily take my one-day plan to Seattle, Washington and turn it into a 2-day itinerary.

If you have visited Seattle, Washington, what were some of your favorite places to visit that I may have left out? Let me know in the comments below.

15 Things to Do in Virginia Beach, Virginia

15 Things to Do in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach, Virginia is a coastal city in Southeast Virginia. It lies where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is an amazing place to visit in the summer where you can spend the day sun bathing on the beach. It does get cold in Virginia during the winter, but it’s pretty mild.  January and February are the coldest months, but the city offers a wide array of activities to keep you busy all year long! Below you will see a list of my top 15 things to do in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

ifly

3 years ago, I surprised my husband with a trip to iFLY. If you have ever wanted to go skydiving, but want to try a safer version first, you have to schedule a visit. When you arrive, you are greeted by an instructor who teaches you how to communicate with them in the wind tunnel, as well as several motions/movements that will help you get the most out of your flight. Once you step into the wind tunnel, relax, and enjoy the ride. You even have the option to fly high in the tunnel. It is definitely worth it! iFLY has several locations around the U.S. as well as international locations. Children can be as young as 3 to fly. FYI…you will want to try the real deal after this experience. I’m hoping to for my 40th birthday in July! https://www.iflyworld.com/virginia-beach/

Adventure Park

Ziplining is what Adventure Park is all about! The park spreads through about 6 acres of the tree canopy just north of the Marsh Pavilion. From the main platform, climbers have the choice between 16 different trails that are color-coded to indicate the degree of challenge they offer. Trails are marked just like ski-runs, with some suitable for novice, some for intermediate, and some for advanced climbers. These trails include more than 165 challenging crossing made of rope, cable, and wood. Among these crossing are more than 25 zip lines. The most challenging trails are up to 55 feet above the ground. Their longest zip line runs 315 feet and crosses Owl Creek. You will definitely get a good work out in after a day at the Adventure Park! https://virginiabeachadventurepark.com/

Virginia Aquarium

The mission the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is to inspire conservative of the marine environment through education, research, and sustainable practices. Some of the major exhibits include harbor seals, komodo dragons, tomistoma crocodiles, sharks, ray touch pool, and a Chesapeake Bay aquarium. In the winter you can go on whale watching tours; in the summer dolphin watching tours are available. They even have an Imax theatre for educational documentaries. https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/Pages/default.aspx

Ocean Breeze Waterpark

Ocean Breeze is Virginia Beach’s only waterpark. It offers 17 waterslides, a million-gallon Runaway Bay Wave Pool, the Buccaneer Bay Water Playground, a quarter-mile Adventure River, and other fantastic attractions. You can even rent sunbrella canopies as well as full-sized cabanas (this can and should be done online as they sell out fast). Be sure to buy your tickets and food voucher’s online to save money. Parking is also free at Ocean Breeze. https://www.oceanbreezewaterpark.com/ (All pictures are from the Ocean Breeze Waterpark website.)

Vrbo

ViBe Creative District

Nestled within the oceanfront area is Virginia Beach’s cultural arts enclave – The Vibe Creative District. “It is a hub for artists and spirits, roasters and restaurants, workouts and wares, museums and more, the ViBe is where creative businesses have set up shop to share their passion and inspire a sense of discovery in locals and visitors alike.” – ViBe Creative District https://vibecreativedistrict.org/ (All pictures are from the ViBe Creative District website.)

Farmers Market

Old Beach Farmers Market

The Old Beach Farmers market is a fresh outdoor marketplace in the heart of the resort area, just six blocks from the ocean and one block from the Virginia Beach Convention Center, in the parking lot of Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. They feature seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, seafood, cheeses, a wide assortment of baked goods, artisanal breads, savory foods from local chefs, soap, and flowers. They are open the second Saturday of every month. http://www.oldbeachfarmersmarket.com/

Virginia Beach Farmers Market

The Virginia Beach Farmers Market is open year-round and features a variety of agriculturally inspired shops and related businesses that offer seasonal, fresh vegetables and fruit in addition to many other products. Some of the shops include a butchers shop, seafood market, dairy and ice cream, florist, candy store, bakery, full-menu restaurant, home, garden and specialty stores, offer a unique and varied shopping experience. The Market is located at 3640 Dam Neck Rd. https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/agriculture/farmers-market/Pages/default.aspx

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

“The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art is a non-profit institution which exists to foster awareness, exploration, and understanding of the significant art of our time.” (MOCA) Their regularly changing exhibitions feature painting, sculpture, photography, glass, video and other visual media from internationally acclaimed artists as well as artists of national and regional renown. https://virginiamoca.org/

The Charged exhibit that is running from September 2019 – February 2020. (This image is from the Museum of Contemporary Arts website.)

Cape Henry Lighthouse

Cape Henry Lighthouse is the first federally funded public works project of the newly formed United States government. It was authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton. The Lighthouse is situated near the “First Landing” site where English settlers first set foot on their way to settle in Jamestown. Built with the same Aquia sandstone as much of Washington, D.C, the lighthouse guided sea travelers to safety for almost 100 years. The distinctive black and white striped “New” Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1881 but remains closed to the public. During your visit you can enter the lighthouse and climb to the top. https://preservationvirginia.org/historic-sites/cape-henry-lighthouse/ Please check the website before visiting as it is currently under renovations (January 2020).

Spend the Day at the Beach

The Guinness Book of World Records has awarded Virginia Beach the title of “Longest Pleasure Beach.” Virginia Beach offers 35 miles of coastline waiting to be explored. Be sure to check out the King Neptune Statue on 31st St. The bronze statue was sculpted by Paul DiPasquale.

There is also a 15,000 square foot beach park that features wheelchair-accessible entrances and an incredible playground that includes poured-in-place surfacing, raised sand tables for sandcastle building at an accessible height, a sensory board for children who are autistic and visually impaired, and a sway boat. https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/parks-recreation/parks-trails/city-parks/Pages/grommet-island.aspx

Kayaking at the Beach

While visiting the beach, be sure to book a kayak trip with one of the local rental shops in the area (link provided below). Many of these shops will take you on dolphin tours where you may come eye to eye with these magnificent creatures. We did a tour a few years back and was instantly hooked. We now own kayaks and frequently take them to the beach. http://www.vbsurfsessions.com/VB_Surf_Sessions___Kayak.html

Hiking

While Virginia Beach is predominantly flat, there are many gorgeous trails to hike and enjoy nature! https://www.visitvirginiabeach.com/blog/post/experience-virginia-beach-hiking-trails/

Mt. Trashmore

World-renowned Mount Trashmore Park encompasses 165 acres and is comprised of two man-made mountains, two lakes, two playgrounds, a skate park and vert ramp, and multi-use paths. The main mountain, Mount Trashmore, now 60 feet in height and 800 feet long, was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil. Recognized for its environmental feat, this former landfill features a water-wise garden that boasts xeriscaping which requires minimal water. The park also features a smaller mountain, Encore Hill, and two lakes. Lake Windsor (located along South Blvd.) is brackish water fed by Thalia Creek. Lake Trashmore (located along Edwin Drive) is freshwater and hosts various species of fish. Fishing is permitted from land only and requires a Virginia freshwater fishing​ license​. Anglers must adhere to all State regulations regarding creel and size limits. No boats, swimming or wading is allowed in the lakes. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Kayaks are permitted at Lake Windsor.​ https://www.visitvirginiabeach.com/listing/mount-trashmore-park/44/

Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheatre

Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheatre is a 20,000-seat outdoor concert venue that offers music of all genres. See some of your favorite bands during the summer at this hot spot. https://www.livenation.com/venues/14474/veterans-united-home-loans-amphitheater-at-virginia-beach

Town Center

The Town center area is Virginia Beach’s slice of city life. Visit many popular shops and restaurants and enjoy live entertainment in front of Bravo’s. In the summer, take advantage of YNOT Wednesday free summer concert series. https://www.sandlercenter.org/events/free-events

Photo from the Virginia Beach Town Center website
Dresslily Mid-Year Promotion

COMING SOON 2020! The Wave VB and Wavegarden Cove

The image below is a conceptual rendering of The Wave Virginia Beach surf venue being developed by the Venture Realty Group and supported by Pharrell Williams. The plan proposes a 2-acre Wavegarden cove that provides up to 1000 waves per hour, right and left waves, multiple surfers at the same time, great for pro surfers and beginners, and open year-round! There will be an area for live entertainment, as well as 150,000 square feet of dining and retail space. https://www.surfparkcentral.com/the-wave-vb/

Image from the Surf Park Central website

These are my top 15 things to do in Virginia Beach, but I am sure that I left out a few other places. If you have visited Virginia Beach, what were your favorite things to do? What on my list sounds interesting to you? Let me know in the comments below.

5 Days in Salt Lake City, Utah

5 Days in Salt Lake City, Utah

When my husband invited me on his business trip to Salt Lake City, Utah I was quite excited. We visited St. George, Utah the year before and loved all of the hiking offered in the national and state parks. ST. GEORGE, UTAH LINK HERE Salt Lake City is at the opposite end of the state, and we were eager to see what new trails we could explore. It definitely did not disappoint. This 5-day itinerary to Salt Lake City, Utah will interest anyone who loves to take in all of the beauty of the great outdoors.

Hotels.com: $99 or Less

Day 1: Tracy Aviary & Botanical Garden in Liberty Park

Tracy Aviary is the largest and oldest of only two-free standing aviaries in the nation with 19 different exhibits. It’s a beautiful place to spend the day. The snow owl and the toucan were my favorites to admire. The aviary is located in Liberty Park. If you have time to visit the park beforehand or after, I highly recommend it.

Day 2: Hiking Bells Canyon Trail

We did this trip in August and the trees were already turning beautiful shades of fall. Our hike on the Bells Canyon Trail took us about 4 hours. We took many stops to take in the beauty of the scenery. We also took time to explore the waterfall. To get to the waterfall you have to go down a steep area. This made me come to a complete stop. It isn’t a straight down area, but I began questioning the danger I would be in if I slipped. With that being said, I sat on a rock to think about things for a few minutes. I LOVE waterfalls, and the hike to the fall was about 2 hours. I could hear the fall from where I was sitting and could see a tiny bit of it. I began to give myself a pep talk that I didn’t go that far to see a sliver of it. So, I grabbed onto my courage, got up, and walked straight to it. It was all worth it!

Day 3: Hiking Small Cottonwood Canyon

Small Cottonwood Canyon was such a fun trail to hike. As we ascended up the mountain we came upon a lake on top. It was absolutely stunning and I could have stayed there all day in the silence. It was an amazing place to relax and meditate. Coming from the east coast I was on the lookout for some big animals, particularly moose. My husband’s coworker had mentioned seeing a lot of moose on this trail in the past. I unfortunately didn’t see any on this hike or the Bells Canyon trail we took the day before. Perhaps if we take a trip in the future we will get lucky.

Day 4: Hiking Lake Mary at Brighton Ski Resort

We got an early start in the morning for this hike and it was surprisingly cold for August. On our drive to the trail we saw a moose! I was so excited and hoped it was a sign that we would see some on our hike. As we began the ascend up the mountain. We learned the air was much thinner than we were used to, and we were out of breath quite fast. I had done some research on what animals we could see on this hike and have to admit that I was a bit nervous about stumbling upon a bear. I felt eerie for most of the time, despite never seeing one. I know it was all in my head. I also know that they were there, but want nothing to do with us. We did however see several chipmunks, ground hogs, and a squirrel that kept throwing things at us from the tree.

Day 5 Antelope Island

Antelope Island State Park is about an hour away from Salt Lake City, Utah. The park is home to several herds of bison, and it was quite amazing to see these gorgeous creatures roaming about. They look so gentle and calm, but don’t let that fool you. They are large and can charge you if they so choose.

Antelope Island, with an area of 42 square miles, is the largest of ten islands located within the Great Salt Lake, Utah, United States. The island lies in the southeastern portion of the lake, near Salt Lake City and Davis County, and becomes a peninsula when the lake is at extremely low levels. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antelope_Island

Antelope Island has an array of wildlife and is famous for its large bison population, the Antelope Island bison herd. Though the island was named for the pronghorn antelope that John C. Frémont and Kit Carson discovered there when they explored the Great Salt Lake, bison (American buffalo) were later introduced. All of the bison on Antelope Island are plains bison. The Antelope Island bison herd got its start when, “Twelve bison, 4 bulls (males), 4 cows (females) and 4 calves were taken by boat to the island on February 15, 1893 by William Glassman and John Dooly. These twelve animals provided the foundation for what has grown into one of the largest and oldest publicly owned bison herds in the nation.”[15] The herd of bison increased quickly in numbers and by the early 20th century, several hundred of them were present on the island. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antelope_Island

In 5 days my husband and I were only able to explore a small amount of the hiking that is available in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. We hope to go back again some time in the future to explore even more.

Let me know in the comments below if you have ever hiked in the area. What were some of your favorite trails? Also, be sure to let me know if you spotted moose along the way.

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10 Gifts Under $20 For the Woman Who Travels

10 Gifts Under $20 For the Woman Who Travels

Note: Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my affiliate link. Read my full disclosure policy here.

As a travel blogger, it is apparent that I love traveling. What many of you might not know (if you didn’t read my article on packing cubes), is that I despise living out of my suitcase. I love adding items that provide organization to make it easier for you to unpack. I also appreciate components that are compact to make you feel as though you have everything from home, but without the extra baggage. If there is a woman in your life that you know feels the same way, you will surely find something off of my list of “10 gifts under $20 for the woman who travels” that will make her very happy.

#1 Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag by Hikenture

I absolutely love this toiletry bag! There is plenty of room for your makeup, hair products, and other personal hygiene essentials. The added bonus is that you can hang it up in the bathroom, and never have to unpack/store a thing on the vanity.

#2 Travel Storage Jewelry Bag by Bagsmart

I love costume jewelry, but have often avoided traveling with it in fear of my pieces getting damaged (until I purchased one of these). This travel storage jewelry bag provides plenty of space to store your bracelets and earrings. What I love best about this bag is the necklace storage area. You never have to worry about them getting knotted or twisted while traveling.

#3 Universal Folding Electronics Bag by Dot & Dothttps://amzn.to/2sZACTb

Like many of us, I travel with quite a few pieces of technology. I have my phone, Apple Watch for working out, and my headphones as I love listening to music. I also carry around a portable phone charger to make sure that I always have enough battery to snap lots of pictures. This electronic storage bag provides an area to keep all of your wires in place to avoid all of the untangling later.

#4 Travel Adapter Outlet by Dandelion

This travel adapter is amazing for the world traveling woman in your life. The Dandelion travel adapter provides different travel shapes for anywhere you travel. It covers more than 150 countries around the world!

#5 4-Piece Packing Travel Organization Cubes Set by Amazon Basics

Packing cubes make me smile! So much that I did a write up on them about their practicality (The Best Suitcase Organizer (Ever). They eliminate the dreaded, “living out of your suitcase”, or the need to unpack each and every item. Store all of your clothing into the different cubes, and then unpack them into your dresser at your destination. If I had to recommend my most favorite item on this list, this would definitely be it!

#6 Travel-in-Style Pocket Scarf by Pop Fashion

This infinity scarf is genius! Not only will it keep you warm, but it provides a safe place to store your valuable items. It is also great for when you are out jogging in pants that don’t have pockets.

#7 Collapsible Water Bottle with Carabiner by TEMEAYE

While I am at home I always have a water bottle within arms reach. The one thing that I usually forget to pack in my suitcase is you guessed it…my water bottle. One of the main reasons is for lack of space in my luggage. This collapsible water bottle solves that issue.

#8 Luggage Tags by Getaway Simply

Most travelers choose standard luggage in the black, blue or gray variety. This issue causes all of the luggage to look the same. My husband usually ties a bright shoestring to our suitcase, but I wanted something a little more stylish. That is why I created these personalized luggage tags. They are now available in my Etsy store, with free shipping in the U.S.

#9 Selfie Stick Tripod by UBeesize

Selfies serve their purpose and I have nothing against them. I do however, appreciate a full length body shot of my family or myself at the beautiful destination we have traveled to. This selfie stick tripod makes it easy to capture those moments, and even has a remote to snap the picture when you are ready.

#10 Passport Holder – Neck Wallet & RFID Travel Wallet

This passport holder would be great for anyone. My son actually used something similar while he was studying abroad. It is easier for someone to pick your pocket than it is for them to grab something off of your neck. This holder also offers RFID blocking.

There are many other items that I could have added to the list, but I wanted to keep it brief. Have you used any of these items or did I leave off one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.

5 Day Itinerary: Las Vegas, Utah & Grand Canyon

5 Day Itinerary: Las Vegas, Utah & Grand Canyon

We absolutely love everything about the west coast. The mountains, the desert, you name it. While my children have never been a huge fan of the outdoors, my husband and I crave it. The one thing that we all agreed on, in regards to an outdoor vacation, was that we wanted to take a trip to the Grand Canyon. The Southern Rim is the most popular, which means that rental properties close by are going to be expensive. With that being said, we opted to explore the North Rim, where it is less crowded and a bit cheaper in regards to lodging. We also wanted to do some hiking in St. George, Utah, so we decided on a combined 5-day trip that included Las Vegas, Utah and the Grand Canyon.

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Day 1

Las Vegas, Nevada (Evening Preview)

We flew in to Las Vegas around 3:00pm via plane and immediately picked up our rental car. From there we took our boys to dinner at Secret Pizza. If you’ve never been, you must give it a try. The restaurant is hidden (hence the secret), on the 3rd floor of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. You will not see a sign for the restaurant and will have to look out for a hallway leading to it. There is limited seating in the actual restaurant, but there are plenty of places to sit in the hotel lobby.

After dinner we took a walk to see the 9:00pm show of The Fountains of Bellagio.

St. George, Utah is almost 2 hours away, so we left shortly after seeing the fountains. The drive was breathtaking with all of the mountains so close to the road. We are from the east coast and see lots of flat land, so mountains are always a sight to see.

This is the condo that we rented and it was perfect. It had everything we needed to cook with in the kitchen, and even had a community pool for relaxing in the evening. This condo has 2 bedrooms and a sleeper sofa.

Day 2

Sand Hollow State Park

There is lots to do at this park from ATV riding in the sand dunes to jet skiing in the man-made reservoir. It’s about a 30 minute drive from St. George, UT. We spent our morning on the jet skis and had a blast. It was a hot day in Utah (as it is in June), so this was refreshing. Just be sure to use sunscreen or you will burn. Here is the link to check out the prices on their rentals. https://thebeachatsandhollow.com/rental-pricing/

Cinder Cone Volcano

If you don’t spend all day at the reservoir and want to explore a bit more, I recommend a short hike on the cinder cone volcano in Snow Canyon State Park. It was about 20 minutes from our condo in St. George, UT. “Cinder cones are the simplest type of volcano. They are built from particles and blobs of congealed lava ejected from a single vent. As the gas-charged lava is blown violently into the air, it breaks into small fragments that solidify and fall as cinders around the vent to form a circular or oval cone. Most cinder cones have a bowl-shaped crater at the summit and rarely rise more than a thousand feet or so above their surroundings. Cinder cones are numerous in western North America as well as throughout other volcanic terrains of the world.” https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/volc/types.html

On our walk to the cinder cone (before ascending up), we had a moment of uncertainty. You have to go through this chain latched gate to get there. It felt like we were about to enter Jurassic Park. There were no lists of these “dangerous animals”. We scouted the area before going through and didn’t see a thing. We think that the property owners are just protecting theirselves legally incase of injury due to snake bites, etc. If anyone knows what kind of animals we needed to look out for, I would still love to know.

Day 3

North Rim, Grand Canyon, AZ

Get up early and drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Without stops, this is about a 3-3 ½ hour drive from St. George, UT.  While the North Rim only has three sights (Cape Royal, Point Imperial, Angel Point), it is still absolutely breathtaking. There is a $30 fee to get in to the canyon park. Please visit the Grand Canyon website for their schedule as they close in the winter months because of snow. https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/north-rim.htm

Day 4

Mt. Zion National Park

Mt. Zion National Park was about an hour to an hour and a half away from our condo in St. George. We found many trails for hikers of all skill levels. We did the easy trails as our son was with us, but there were some amazing trails for the advanced hiker. Be sure to get to the park early as it gets very hot in Springdale, UT. We went in June and the temperature was already up to 92 degrees by 11am. It got to 100 degrees by 2pm. Make sure to bring your water and take sips throughout the day to avoid getting sick. The cost to enter this park is $45.00 as of December 2019.

Day 5

Las Vegas, NV

We left St. George, UT around 11am and arrived back in Las Vegas around 12pm. We had a delicious lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Burgr. After lunch we visited the Gold & Silver Pawn shop, the location of the Pawn Stars show. We were hoping (but not expecting) to see some of the people from the show, but unfortunately, they weren’t there. It was neat to see though. After that we did more exploring on the strip.

Have you ever been to any of these destinations? What were your favorite things to do there? Let me know in the comment section below.