Win 2 Copies of “The Light Within” CD – Cat’s Meow Giveaway Hop

Win 2 Copies of “The Light Within” CD – Cat’s Meow Giveaway Hop

 

It’s giveaway time! It’s been a while since I’ve done one, so I’m excited about it.

A friend recently approached me about helping him get the word out about his CD, “The Light Within.” Although it is designed to be a lullabye CD, I love to put it on when I’m stressed. The music is sweet and soft and light, perfect for helping kids settle down for bedtime or playing on in the car when you’ve had a stressful day.

The title song is one of my favorites:

 

We thought it would be fun to give the winner two copies – one to keep and one to share with a friend or loved one. It would be a perfect gift for a new mom or anyone you know who could use some soothing music!

You can visit SkipLotten.com for more info, samples of songs, and a super cute animated video for The Light Within.

“The Light Within” CD is also available on Amazon, or you can purchase MP3s on CD Baby.

 

This giveaway is open to US residents 18 and older. You can do as many entries as you would like – the first one can be completed once a day to increase your chances of winning. The winner can choose physicals CD or codes for digital versions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We are participating in the Cat’s Meow giveaway hop. Check out the linky below for more than 60 other giveaways with a wide array of prizes!

 

Thanks for entering, and good luck!

Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, MO

Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, MO

 

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Hollywood Wax Museum in Branson, MO and wanted to share my experience with you guys!

 

Hollywood Wax Museum Branson MO

I received complimentary admission in exchange for an honest review.

 

I recruited my friend Debbie to come with me – this kind of attraction is best with a friend who is totally ready to take a bunch of silly photos with you. It’s a great rainy-day activity, and will appeal to a pretty wide range of ages. (I don’t think small children would get much out of the experience, but kids old enough to recognize the celebrities and enjoy getting their photo taken will probably enjoy it.)

 

It’s almost impossible to miss the Hollywood Wax Museum as you’re driving down Highway 76 in Branson, which is the main street where most of the live music shows are located. In addition to the eye-catching King Kong above, the exterior features a Mt. Rushmore-style sculpture featuring classic stars:

 

rushmore faces on branson 76

 

There are a few different ticket options available. You can buy a ticket for just the Wax Museum, which at the time of posting is $22.99 ($12.99 for kids), or you can purchase an All Access Pass that also includes admission to Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors, the Castle of Chaos 5-D ride/game experience, and Shoot for the Stars Mini Golf, all of which are on-site and range from $13-16 each if purchased separately. The All Access Pass is currently $29.99 ($19.99 for kids), so you get a lot of extra entertainment for just a few dollars more! I even have a Branson Hollywood Wax Museum coupon that you guys can print out – it gets you $2 off each All Access Pass for up to six people! Score!

 

Castle of Chaos Branson MO

 

We went fairly late in the evening and wound up spending about two hours in just the Hollywood Wax Museum, but hopefully I can return at another time and write about the other three attractions. They all get good reviews on TripAdvisor, and your pass is good all day so you can always do one attraction in the morning, come back for another in the afternoon, and two more in the evening.

 

 

The Hollywood Wax Museum has exhibits spread out across two floors. (You can choose stairs or elevator to access the upper level.) Most rooms feature celebrities that all fit a certain theme, from classic Hollywood with Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland to country music superstars including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. I like that they offer wax figures from a pretty wide range of eras and genres, so your teens can get just as excited about Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift as grandma does about taking a photo with Frank Sinatra. (Or hey, maybe it’s Grandma who’s the Bieber super-fan and your 10th grader is into Old Blue Eyes. You get the idea!)

 

A few more classic stars:

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Planning A Trip to Japan? Check out Fish and Tips!

Planning A Trip to Japan? Check out Fish and Tips!

 

You guys know that I’m a hotel nerd. I write about hotels for a living, I’ve worked front desk and concierge, and my absolute favorite thing to do on my blog is to stay somewhere cool and share all of the details with you guys so that you can make informed choices when you’re travel. (Or just add a cool place to your wanderlust wish list!)


This is a sponsored post brought to you by Fish & Tips. I thought their website was so interesting that my fellow travel fans would want to check it out, too!

 

This week, I was introduced to a cool website called Fish & Tips. It’s a Japanese hotel review site, but all of their content is available in English. When you’re booking a trip to a place as far away as Tokyo or Okinawa, it’s super helpful to be able to see a lot of photos and info before making your decision!

 

While they focus on hotels in Japan, they do also offer a limited number of reviews of hotels in international destinations including Singapore, the USA, and Canada. I was super excited to see that one of the USA hotels that was reviewed was Disney’s All Star Sports Resort. I’ve worked there!

 

 

 

Each hotel on Fish & Tips is reviewed by an individual person who stayed there following a specific format (see above), and has SO MUCH INFO. I was so impressed when the first one I looked at listed out all of the toiletries and such that were supplied in the bathroom.

 

 

Given that some reviews appear to be written by people fluent in English and others are translated from Japanese, there is the occasional head-scratcher where something got lost in translation (among the list of bath products in one post was “milky lottery” – I still haven’t figured out what that could be!) but for the most part the reviews are easy to understand. Definitely better than my Japanese!

 

I’m instantly a fan of any hotel where I get to relax while someone brings me drinks!

 

As a lover of details, the amount of work that goes into the hotel reviews gets a big thumbs-up from me. They start with the exterior, show you the lobby and check-in, give a tour of the room they stayed in, show other amenities and restaurants on-site, etc. From the kind of products available in the gift shop to whether or not your room’s fridge is stocked with free drinks, they cover everything!

Unlike a lot of other review sites, these reviews mostly stick to being informative rather than being rants or raves. They do offer some opinions, like “It was nice to be able to see the ocean from the balcony,” and thoughts like “There was plenty of room to stretch my legs in the bathtub.” or “The meal was very filling.” That said, they do still point out flaws – I saw one review that said, “The room was beautiful except for the white carpet that was a little dirty.” It’s a nice alternative to sites that are purely informative and those where random travelers complain about every little detail.

I liked that each review also offers notes on the staff and guests, including if it seems like mostly families, couples, or business travelers. That kind of info can be hard to figure out just looking at a regular hotel booking site. Another thing I really liked is that each reviewer include why they picked that particular hotel to stay at. An example:

 

 

Even if you’re not currently planning a trip, it’s fun to look at the hotels if you’re a travel nerd like I am. I found it interesting just to see how different things like the coffee makers were, and how some of the rooms came with things I’ve never seen in the US, like pajamas provided on the bed or a “beach robe”. (Basically a waffle weave bath robe but designed to be used as a beach cover-up. Can we get those in Florida hotels, please and thanks?) Just browsing the reviews definitely stirred my wanderlust! To be totally honest they only requested that I write at least 150 words about the website, but I wound up looking at cool hotels for about two hours. Am I the only one who finds that kind of thing really fun?

 

Have you ever visited Japan? What kind of info do you like to know about a hotel before you book a stay there?

Last Friday Favs of 2019!

Last Friday Favs of 2019!

Happy Friday! What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been. Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season. I’m SO ready to start the 20’s! New year, new decade, fresh start. Bring it on!

 

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

 

1. IT WAS SO GOOD. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it there for now! I waited until the 23rd to go in hopes of less crazy crowds, and my small local theater only had about 18 people at the showing I went to! I wanted to catch it in the theater again, so I saw it in IMAX last night. The temptation to go a 3rd time to see it in 3D IMAX is serious, but good seats are like $20, which would mean I’ve now spent like $50 seeing this movie. That seems a little much?

 

2. Since I last posted, I watched these on Disney+:

Inside Out
One Day at Disney
Monsters University
Coco
The rest of Season 1 of the Mandolorian

 

Thumbs up to all of them! I’ve been meaning to watch Coco, Inside Out, and MU for years. I’m not even sure what I’m going to dive into next!

 

3. I have heard a ton of ads for Skillshare and finally decided to try it out.聽If you sign up via my link, you will get two free months of unlimited classes and I will get a free month for referring you. Win-win!

A couple of classes I’ve enjoyed this week:

How to Write a Blog Post That Strangers Will Actually Read

Writing for Self-Discovery: 6 Journaling Prompts for Gratitude and Growth

 

 

4. This 3-pack of dot-to-dot books was my Christmas present to myself. I loooooove “extreme” dot-to-dot books. Adult coloring books are fun but I have to stop and overthink which colors to use – these are similarly soothing but without the need to make decisions. YAY. I was just going to get the two-pack that had Folklore and Architecture, but it was only $5 more to get the 3-pack. (The individual books are like $9 or $13 each if you buy them separately and my 3-pack was only $20!)

Embarrassing story: I emailed the manufacturer because all three books had pages that were weirdly short and the dots ran off the edge of the page. I thought it was a weird printing/binding defect, but right after sending the email I realized that no… those pages fold out to make a bigger page. Oops.

I really want the Cats one, for obvious reasons. Maybe next time!

 

 

5. This has been my background music while working this week!

Makes me feel right at home.

 

I need to do an end-of-year wrap up post, but I have another dental surgery scheduled on Monday so we’ll see if that actually happens before the end of the year or not. Either way, hope the rest of your year is awesome!

Friday Favs – December Shenanigans

Friday Favs – December Shenanigans

Happy Friday, friends! I have so much catching up to do, as usual. Tis the season to be super busy, I guess!

 

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

 

Harry Potter Sorcerers Stone in French book cover

 

1. I found a French copy of the first Harry Potter book at a thrift store, and I’ve been having SO MUCH FUN trying to read it! I’m far from fluent so I have to look a lot up, but it’s really neat to see what changes and what stays the same.

 

 

One of the weirdest things to me was that they changed the house names. Hufflepuff is now Poufsouffle! 馃槀

 

 

 

2. I had the opportunity last weekend to attend a celebration of Rumi that included whirling dervishes. SO FREAKING COOL. Before the actual event, I got to take a turning class. I have always been TERRIBLE at doing any kind of turns without getting dizzy and this was no exception. But it was still cool to learn! At the end of the class, we each took turns (no pun intended) turning in the center of a circle created by the other participants. Somehow, I was able to turn without getting dizzy for that brief moment in time. Super cool.

 

 

The woman in yellow taught the turning class – I was totally captivated by how she managed to look totally blissful no matter how long she was whirling. (I’m off to the side with the yellow scarf and a black skirt loaned to me by the dancer in blue, who I randomly met earlier that day. It’s that kind of group.) If you ever get the opportunity to watch semazens (whirling dervishes) – GO. It’s fascinating and mesmerizing.

 

 

During one of the last dances, we all had the opportunity to join in twirling in the center. Despite not being great at it, I had to give it a go – How often do you get the chance to spin in the center of a chanting group to live music in a stunning setting?

 

 

I didn’t take any photos that night (the two above are courtesy of friends on Facebook) but I found this photo of the church on Instagram to give you an idea of the space we were in:

 


(Side note – I’m not Sufi, but they’re a super welcoming bunch. It’s so cool to experience the ceremonies and rituals of a totally different group.)

 

 

 

 

3. I finally gave in and did the free 7-day trial of Disney+. Today is my 3rd day and so far, I’ve watched…

*The first 6 episodes of the Mandalorian (Obviously.)

*Moana (SO MUCH CRYING.)

*Free Solo (OMG insane.)

*I just started watching the Imagineering Story series. Started with the second episode – SO much good Haunted Mansion stuff and vintage Epcot! Everything I love in one place! And again, so much crying. I miss home and the company SO MUCH. Even though I hated working at Magic Kingdom, I cried seeing the Tunnels again. (Ok, I didn’t *hate* working at MK, but compared to working at the resorts, having to travel so far from the parking lot to your work location is a huge hassle. We actually got paid for “walk time” there.)

 

 

4. I needed a hotel for my KC trip, and discovered the total magic of booking a last minute Priceline deal. As a former concierge and absolute hotel nerd, you have NO IDEA how hard it was for me to book a room not knowing which hotel I was going to end up with. THE HORROR. But when I saw that I could get a 4-star hotel RIGHT in downtown KC for $100, I had to do it. I wound up at the Westin (I will probably do a whole post about it soon) in a corner room with amazing panoramic views of downtown. I looked it up and that room is usually about $190/nt, so I did in fact get a great deal!

I totally recommend going the Priceline mystery hotel route if you’re booking a same day stay. It tells you how many stars the place is, and most of the ones I looked at show you three hotels it might be. (I think mine showed me brands – I was getting a Hilton, Westin, or the 21C.)

 

5.聽And finally, a reminder as this year draws to a close:

 

 

A question for you guys: Are there any rituals or habits you do to finish up a year? I’ve picked up the practice of trying to clear up my email inbox and phone photo folder to go into the new year with a little less clutter. I wish I had the time and energy to do the same with my house and car – leave all of the last year’s mess in the past – but I’ll settle for emails and photos!

One year I tried ringing in the new year with green juice instead of vodka, but I ended up in the ER the next day so I decided that trying to be healthy was just not worth it.

I’d love to hear your end of year stuff!