Sedona with Kids

Our family did 5 days in Sedona, Arizona and it did not disappoint. My boys are 7 and 4 and they were the perfect age for this trip. I’m so glad we waited for them to be old enough to do the hikes themselves. We traveled at the end of April and the weather was absolutely perfect. 80s every day, but the dry heat made it comfortable and it was a fabulous escape from the cold Michigan spring we’d been having. 

We traveled on Thursday afternoon. Leaving Detroit at 1:30pm EST got us into Phoenix around 2:30pm PST. By the time we rented our car and drove to Sedona, it was 7pm PST, which was 10pm EST….WAY past bedtime. We got burgers to go and the boys went right to bed. Since hiking is best early AM, we knew we’d be in a good position for the boys to wake up early and hit the trails.

Sedona was surreal

We met the most interesting and friendly people wherever we went. Everyone was so friendly and it was fun getting to know other people’s stories. We met a lady named Misty that has been traveling the US living out of her Suburban. Her work is fully remote which allows her to work anywhere with wifi. We hung out with her for hours at Grasshopper Point just talking about all the cool places she’s been. We also met Harry, a war veteran and retired college professor, who volunteers at the parks so he was able to give us great park recommendations. Everywhere we went we made friends. 

Hikes

Bell Rock – Easy hike to the base of the mountain. From there the trails weren’t 100% clear so we didn’t go up too far, I’d say ¼ the way up. Beautiful views of Sedona from the base. We got to the trailhead around 6:45am PST and there were plenty of spots, but when we left around 7:30 it was pretty full. 

Soldier’s Pass (includes Devil’s Kitchen and Seven Sacred Pools) – This was our longest, hardest hike. Round trip from the parking lot (taking shuttle back) took about 5 hours. At the end of the hike we were out of water, tired, and felt amazingly accomplished! At the time, our boys were 4.5 and 7 years old. They did this hike with ease, like champs, however, they are use to long hikes. My youngest needed a little bit of help during the last 15 minute of the hike – the ascent to the top was extremely steep!

  • Parking was tricky for this one. When we were there, you could not park at the trailhead. There was designated parking about 1 mile away. There is a shuttle that will pick you up from parking lot and drop you off at the trailhead (and then also take you back to parking lot), but it only runs every 20 or so minutes. We parked and missed the bus so ended up walking the extra mile to the trailhead. At the end of the hike, we were too tired to walk another mile with the kids, so we waited about 20  minutes for the shuttle and it was worth the air conditioned ride. 
  • The first sight you get to is Devil’s Kitchen, which is a huge sinkhole. This is only a 10 min walk from the trailhead. 
  • Then you walk on to the Seven Sacred Pools, which is only another 20 or so minutes. 
  • If you continue to the top of the mountain to see the caves, it’s about another hour, and towards the end it gets tricky. It’s more climbing, some small pases, but totally do-able for my kids.
  • When you get to the top, there is a narrow climb that is tricky, that gets you to the caves. My husband and oldest son did it, but I stayed back with Xavier. It was a very small passage way and ledge so my husband was afraid of my 4 year old being up there. However, I saw kids his age get up there so I know it’s possible, just not for us that day. 
  • We took a small rest at the top and took in the views. Had a snack, drank some water, and then trekked down. 

Grasshopper Point – Beautiful spot, with water! The boys were so excited to swim, even if it was really cold! It was $11 to get in without a pass. We got a great spot after breakfast around 9:30am. It was a short walk to the creek that had little mini waterfalls. It was a bit of a rocky walk to get to the creek. Great spot to put down a blanket and picnic. I heard that people also fish there as well but we left our poles in the car. 

Chapel of Holy Cross – Not really a hike, but worth checking out! We parked fairly close, only a 5 minute walk up to the Chapel. Beautiful views from the top and you can see the ‘Eagle’ carved into the mountain. We went into the chapel to say a prayer and then made room for others to sit. 

Crescent Moon & Buddha beach – This was a beautiful spot in West Sedona. We arrived right when the park opened and it wasn’t that busy, but when we were leaving around noon cars were lined up to get in and park. This is a short walk to the creek and lots to explore. There is a large area of red rock where people were hanging out. We found a few different spots we could walk across the creek in water shoes which the boys thought was a lot of fun. We lounged on a huge red rock and picnicked while the boys explored (within our view). 

FOOD

Main advice: Make reservations ahead of time. Like, way ahead of time. Months! I didn’t because I wasn’t sure what time we’d be eating dinner (wasn’t sure if we’d stay close to EST schedule), so a few restaurants we showed up right at opening and snuck in, and got a few meals to go to eat on our balcony. I tried to sneak in a reservation at Elote Cafe and they were booking out two months ahead. 

Here are the places we tried….

Butterfly Burger – OMG so good. We ate here twice. This is not a Burger King burger. These delicious gourmet burgers are so good and huge. Also recommend their sweet potato fries. Lisa Dahl is a famous chef who owns a few restaurants in the area. 

Cucina Rustica – Another Lisa Dahl restaurant. This is upscale Italian (husband was asked to remove his hat in the dining room). The food was great. My boys split the seafood pasta and dominated it. I can’t believe they ate the clams and mussels! 

Elote Cafe – We got this to go. Highly recommend trying to get a dining reservation. The Elote dip was delicious. I may try to recreate it at home. 

Creekside American Bistro – We had an awesome brunch here. We got a spot on the patio with an epic view! Highly recommend their homemade croissants as an appetizer. 

Sedona Crepes – Delicious sweet and savory crepes and delicious coffee! Boys tried crepes and they were a hit. I had the breakfast tacos and they were delicious! 

Red Rock Cafe – This was walking distance from our condo. My boys loved the banana bread french toast, and I heard their cinnamon rolls are awesome. 

Coffee Pot – This restaurant is known for their 101 omelet options. Their enclosed patio is really pretty. Great coffee and fun mugs (I tried to buy one, but they are no longer making new ones). 

Rocky’s Ice Cream – This was the treat for the boys complete Soldier’s Pass with almost no complaints. 

Oak Creek Espresso – STRONG iced coffee if you need a jolt! 

SHOPPING

I did not visit Sedona to shop, however, I love a cute downtown with souvenir and jewelry shops. Uptown Sedona has two separate shopping areas, Tlaquepaque (pronounced T-la-keh-pah-keh), is Sedona Arts & Crafts Village, and then about a half mile up A89 there are several clusters of shopping areas.. There are several crystals/rocks, jewelry and t-shirt souvenir shops. This is also where you can sign up Pink Jeep and Trolley tours. 

The boys were given souvenir money from their Nonni, so they were excited to shop. I was also on a mission to get a fun souvenir mug (I collect them from our vacations). The souvenir stores mostly carry the same things. I did enjoy visiting Red Rock Apothecary. Their prickly pear perfume oil is my new favorite sweet scent for summer. 

GENERAL TIPS

I loved our coordinating shirts from KeepNatureWild.com
  • If you are from EST, stay on CST timing for an easy transition back with kids, especially if you will be in Sedona for less than a week.
  • We used the AllTrails.com app to keep a pulse on the crowds, parking situations and research difficulty levels. It’s free!
  • Water shoes came in handy for walking across creeks, playing in the water, etc. I bought the boys their first pair of Keens and they didn’t disappoint. I was surprised they didn’t have issues with rocks getting inside them.
  • Don’t bring your ‘good’ sneakers- my beige New Balance shoes are now tinted mauve from the red rocks. I don’t care one bit, but just a warning 🙂
  • Bring a cooler backpack for hikes! This is similar to the one we used. It kept our water water cold during our longest hikes. 
  • If you think you have enough water packed for a hike, pack more. We fell short on our 5 hour hike so please learn a lesson from my failure. 
  • If your kids like to fish, check out these travel fishing poles. These were easy to pack in our suitcases. Grasshopper Point and Crescent Moon Beach would be great spots to fish. 
  • The views are absolutely breathtaking and make for amazing photo opportunities (but please, be careful while taking photos and selfies)! I packed the boys matching shirts and a few coordinating shirts for all 4 of us just to make the photos that much cuter. Check out this retailer with an amazing cause, Keep Nature Wild. Their products are designed in Arizona and ‘made for the wild.’ For every apparel product sold they pick up one pound of trash via nationwide community cleanups. They have dedicated Wild Keeper Ambassadors that spend time tiding up their community and when you purchase an item they will include a biodegradable trash bag so you can pick up in your own neighborhood.

Have you been to Sedona yet? If so, please share your favorite hike or adventure in the comments! Or better yet, let me know of another awesome hiking spot for our family to adventure to!

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank – In Theaters Now!

We’re always on the lookout for a new animated film in theater, especially for rainy summer days! Paws of Fury is out NOW in theaters and comes with a big name cast, including Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais and more. It’s rated PG and has an adorable plot….

A hard-on-his-luck hound Hank (Michael Cera) finds himself in a town full of cats who need a hero to defend them from a ruthless villain’s (Ricky Gervais) evil plot to wipe their village off the map.  With help from a reluctant teacher (Samuel L. Jackson) to train him, our underdog must assume the role of town samurai and team up with the villagers to save the day. The only problem… cats hate dogs! Also starring Mel Brooks, George Takei, Aasif Mandvi, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Kylie Kuioka, and Cathy Shim.

Check out the full trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkDmYBuDcnU

Did you see this in the theater yet? If so please comment below and let me know what you thought! We’ll be going to the theater next week to check it out.

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Review Wire Media for Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies

Family Trip to Lake Huron (Greenbush/Harrisville, MI)

Greenbush and Harrisville, MI are a little slice of heaven just waiting for you to experience them! Beautiful sunrises, beaches and the nicest people. Below are tips and recommendations when visiting with families!

What to pack:

  • Beaches are a combination of soft sand and rocks, and change daily. One morning we will wake up and have a rocky beach, and the next day it’s sand for as far as the eye can see. Be prepared and bring water shoes! I love these water shoes for my boys, and also recommend these for Men and these for Women
  • Bring life jackets if you want to swim! We also heard that boogie boards are a good option for the waves when a bit calmer. 
  • Sunscreen & hats! Even when it’s very chilly the sun will get you. 
  • It gets chilly at night…make sure to pack long pants and a sweatshirt to stay warm and protect yourself from mosquitoes. 
  • Bug spray!
  • If you visit in the winter, pack your snow pants and snow boots! It’s a ton of fun to hike up and down the beaches in the snow and see the ice volcanoes along the Lake Huron shore!

Where to eat:

  • Breakfast:
    • The Red Fork – Hands down best breakfast in area. On Sundays they feature a special benedict menu. Their kids funfetti pancakes are delicious. And you have to try their homemade white bread. And if you want a real treat, their chicken and waffle is just insane in a good way.
    • Grab a cup of coffee from Alcona Coffee Co. They have wifi and an ice cream shop next door.
    • Dudley’s in Oscoda is another breakfast option
    • Connie’s is also a good breakfast spot about 20 min north on US 23. 
    • Bobcat Bar & Grille have a Sunday Brunch, this is on the Greenbush Golf Course, walking distance from our cottage.
  • Dinner:
    • We highly recommend The Red Fork for dinner too. Their whitefish and cod are delicious. Also try the loaded mac & cheese. 
    • Alcona Brew Haus 
    • Harbortown Pizza – They have inconsistent hours but their pizza is great and makes for an easy dinner. Make sure to get the stuffed cheese bread.
    • Shotmakers for bar food and they have live music on the weekends.
    • Bobcat Bar & Grill – Recommend the Bunker Burger and spicy cheese balls.

Where to shop:

  • For small things you forget (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) Dollar General has it all. They also have a small grocery section.
  • If you’re cooking at home, you can find pretty much everything you need at Harrisville Harbor Grocery
  • Main street in Harrisville has a few resale shops worth checking out for fun finds and local creators.

Beaches:

  • Three-Mile Beach in Oscoda is a few miles south of Greenbush and has a stream that runs into the lake which is fun for kids to play in.
  • The Oscoda public beach has a playground and splash pad for kids.

Other fun:

  • Village Lane Bowling alley is fun for a rainy day!
  • Greenbush Golf Course 
  • Harrisville also has a new playground near the harbor. 
  • We popped into the Harrisville library and checked out a few books for the weekend. They have a drop off box so you can return at any time. They also have movies you can check out as well. 
  • The Harrisville Harbor has live music on Fridays
  • Check out this calendar of events to see what’s going on around town.

Bring Photos to Life with Printique

When I go to my parents house I like to look at all of my old albums filled with pictures from high school, college and trips with friends. Although I like having these to look back on, I have no idea how I would store all the photos of my kids these days….I take at least 10 photos of them a day! They are all saved in Google Photos but there is something so nice about having them come to life in an album or canvas.

We’ve been having some epic adventures up north this winter and I wanted to bring one of our hiking photos to life. I used Printique to turn it into a canvas so we can admire the picture year round!

Printique is an online photo boutique that specializes in printing memories in photo books, prints and wall decor. From start to finish, it took me about 10 minutes to order my canvas! You can sync Printique with your online photo albums or upload individual photos.

I chose to do an 8×10 canvas print of the boys looking out at Lake Huron. It’s by no means a professional photo, it was taken with my Android phone, but getting it professionally put onto a canvas really makes it come alive!

Printique also has photo books. I create a photo book at the end of each school year for my boys. I capture all their art projects, school work, field trips etc. This way I don’t feel guilty about not keeping all of their artwork and keeps clutter down!

I have a special deal for you to try Printique for yourself! Save 15% on your first order with code: WELCOME15. Enjoy bringing your memories to life!

*This post was sponsored but all thoughts are my own

Disney Princess the Concert – Detroit, MI

Disney Princess fans old and young, read on! Disney Princesses are magical for all ages, and now the magic is being brought to the Fox Theater March 23 for Disney Princess – The Concert! Read on to see how you can enter to win 4 free tickets to the 7pm show!

Now, for the first time in forever, a quartet of Broadway, television, and animated film icons celebrate all these beloved characters in an unforgettable evening of songs, animation, and stories in Disney Princess – The Concert. Tony®-nominee Susan Egan (original ‘Belle’ in Beauty and the Beast, ‘Meg’ in Hercules), Arielle Jacobs (’Princess Jasmine’ in Aladdin, In the Heights), Disney Channel star Anneliese van der Pol (final ‘Belle’ in Beauty and the Beast and ‘Chelsea Daniels’ on That’s So Raven/Raven’s Home), and Broadway World Award-winner Syndee Winters (‘Nala’ in The Lion King, Hamilton) join forces in this concert of a lifetime, joined by their magical Music Director, Benjamin Rauhala (Fiddler on the Roof) and enchanting Prince, Adam J. Levy (Waitress). Your every dream will come true as larger than life animation and special effects immerse the audience in pure Disney magic, while these acclaimed stars sing the music of every Disney Princess and share their behind-the-scenes stories from their time on the stage and screen. Come be part of our world…dress up in your best royal attire … and join us for an unforgettable evening at Disney Princess – The Concert, presented by Pandora Jewelry.

Be our guest [7:00p, March 23, Detroit, MI Fox theatre] for a magical evening of Disney music, performed by Broadway, television, and animated film stars. Whether you’re reliving your VHS glory days, dressing up as your favorite character, or sharing the joy with your family, Disney Princess – The Concert is an unforgettable celebration not to be missed.

FILL OUT THIS FORM TO ENTER. Giveaway ends March 20 – I’ll email the winner. If the winner doesn’t respond within 24 hours I will select a new winner. Tickets will be emailed. Good luck!

Baby Shark’s Big Show! DVD Giveaway

Come on, we all know the song…”Baby Shark! Do-do-do-do-do-do!” I can’t even see that cute baby faced shark without singing it!

Super Shark and Captain Kelp are here to save playtime in this new release DVD! Keep reading to find out how you can win a free copy for your little one!

If you have a little one who loves Baby Shark, they will love this adventure! The Baby Shark’s Big Show! Super Shark DVD features eight episodes and three bonu shorts from Nickelodeon’s new preschool series Baby Shark’s Big Show, co-produced with The Pinkfong Company. Sing and dance along with Baby Shark and his friends as they become superheroes, play on a game show, brave the dark depths of Wavey Jones’ Locker and more!

Here’s a rundown of the episodes:

Captain Kelp
Shark-Off
The Show Must Flow On
Baby Mayor
Sink or Swim
Shadowland
Wavey Jones’ Locker
Rocky-Bye

Special Features:

  • Knock It Off
  • Goldie’s Lock
  • Chore Song

The show runs for a 1 hour and 36 min and was released on Feb 1, but you can enter below to win your own copy for free!

***ENTER TO WIN!***

Use this form to enter to win a copy of Baby Shark’s Big Show! Super Shark DVD! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and/or Pinterest for extra entries!

Contest ends February 15, 2022. Once I select a winner and reach out they will have 24 hour to respond with their mailing address. If I don’t hear back I will select a new winner. Must be 18+ years of age and live in the US.

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

The boys and I were super excited to get a sneak peak preview for Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. This is the 4th movie in the Hotel Transylvania series, and it’s just as entertaining as the first 3. We made a big, buttery bowl of popcorn, put our PJs on, and settled in to watch the fun unfold!

What would happen if a mysterious invention turned Drac into a human and Johnny into a monster? Check out the the movie on Prime Video on the 14th to see the trouble they get in! The two team up and race across the world to find a cure before it’s too late (and before they drive each other crazy). It’s another big name cast with Brian Hull, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Han, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Fran Drescher, Brad Abrell and Asher Blinkoff.

Check out the trailer here. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania premieres on Prime Video January 14th. I can’t wait for everyone to see it….let me know what you think of the movie in the comments below!

*This post is sponsored by Review Wire Media for Amazon Studios & Sony Pictures Animation

6 Last Minute Self Care Gift Ideas

Need some last minute ideas for self care gifts for family or friends? Or even better, for yourself? Here are my ideas that can be delivered fast (and in most cases instantly!):

Milan Laser gift card – Give the gift of smooth! I can tell you firsthand laser hair removal WORKS. I’ve had both my bikini and lower legs treated. I absolutely love not having to shave every day. Laser hair removal not only saves me time from shaving, I also don’t have to stress about razor burn or irritation. Milan Laser Hair Removal has a lifetime guarantee, meaning, you get as many treatments as you need for one price (it’s what they refer to as their Unlimited Package). If you have a Milan near you (they have over 155 locations — 10 of which are in Michigan!) and want to find out more, you can book a free consultation. And, if you decide to purchase, you can use my custom discount code ‘Angela60’ for 60% off ANY body area (discount cannot be used on Full Body purchase)! They also sell gift cards!

Lapcos masks – I love these masks and they sell through Amazon with 2-day shipping as an option. I’ve tried all of them in the Variety pack and loved them. I have sensitive skin and had no problems with them. These make great stocking stuffers!

Olive & June Manicure or Pedicure System – You can shop online but if you’re in a pinch for timing they also sell gift cards that are uber cute and ship overnight! I love the full manicure system but if I had to choose my favorite products I’d pick their Dry Drops, Super Glossy Topcoat, and Clean Up Brush for perfecting my manicures. Doing my own nails has become very therapeutic for me. Check out my review of their manicure system here. Use code ‘XOAngela20’ for 20% off a manicure, pedicure or press-on system!

Wellness Journal – I love a good journal! My daily planner incorporates a weekly gratitude section, but I think keeping a wellness specific journal would be great for selfcare in 2022.

Weighted Blanket – I purchased these for my parents last year and they were a hit! There are several options on Amazon that can ship fast. Or if you can make it to the store Bed, Bath & Beyond & Walmart have several to choose from. Weighted blankets can help with stress and anxiety, and also provide a better nights sleep. Just curling up with one and a good book sound amazing to me!

Deep Tissue Massage – We have one of these massagers at home and we love it. I like to use it after a tough workout. The different attachments are awesome to test out.

The Delicious Michigan Advent Calendar

If you love Michigan as much as I do, or need a gift idea for someone who loves all things Michigan, I have you covered. The Delicious Michigan Advent Calendar will treat you to a fun, Michigan gifts, throughout the month of December.

Behind each door you’ll find 24 mini versions of some of the most beloved products throughout the state of Michigan. Some of the brands include Zingerman’s, Sayklly’s, Dave’s Sweet Tooth and Mindo Chocolate. Some of the snacks include popcorn, carmels, hot chocolate, dried fruit and more.

The physical box is fairly large (21 inches x 14 inches) and all items are non-perishable. They also have boxes for Wisconsin, Illinois, Marquette University, Chicago and Minnesota. Some boxes are smaller and include 12 items instead of 24.

My boys can’t wait until December 1 so they can start opening the little doors. I’m going to post our items to an Instagram Story as we open them.

I can think of so many cool ideas for gifting this calendar….do you have friends or family that moved out of state and are missing home? Want to welcome someone back to Michigan? Have friends who just LOVE the Great Lake state? Or just to treat yourself and family! Start shopping – there are less than 100 calendars left!

*I received a Michigan Advent Calendar as a gift, but all opinions are my own

Holiday Gift Guide 2021 – Top STEM Toys

I was fortunate enough to get invited to The Toy Insider Holiday Gift preview in NYC. Anyone who knows me knows I jump at any chance to visit NYC. I’ll be doing ‘top toy/gift round-ups’ leading up to Cyber weekend.

Here’s a list of this season’s top 10 STEM gifts:

  • The Young Scientist Club Future Veterinarian set (5+) – This hands-on science kit includes 10+ engaging activities that will teach little learners the ins and outs of veterinary science.
  • HEXBUG HEXMODS Pro Series Elite Raceway (14+) – Adults and children can work together to create their own scale model vehicles for road play.
  • Arcade Game Maker Lab Candy Claw Machine (6+ w/ adult help) – Cranks, gears, and belts work together to move the claw arm left, right, forward, and backward. Hydraulic levers move the claw up and down, open and shut. A spring-loaded trap door launches your prizes at you when you win.
  • Osmo Math Wizard and the Secrets of the Dragons Game (6-8) – Learn measurement & estimation through hands-on play on a 1st & 2nd grade math adventure!
  • Crayola Paper Butterfly Science Kit (7+) – This science kit features everything needed to make 12 Wicking Paper Butterflies, as well as a guide with step-by-step instructions. Kids can learn about capillary action as they use physics to create colorful, one-of-a-kind paper butterflies!
  • Artie Max the Coding, Drawing Robot (8+) – Perfect for coders-in-training and robot pros alike, Artie Max teaches the artistic side of coding with five built-in languages (Blockley, Snap, JavaScipt, Python, and C++) allowing kids to level-up their STEM skills while creating frame-worthy works of art. Through safe built-in Wi-Fi, Artie speaks directly to your connected device—no internet needed.
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Magnetic Marble Run (8+) – With its innovative magnetic connectors, kids and adults alike can build, create and explore engineering on any magnetic surface.
  • Learning Resources Coding Critters MagiCoders: Blazer (4+) – Meet Blazer the Dragon, your magical coding friend! Your Preschoolers will discover the magic of 100% screen-free coding with this Learning Resources Coding Critters MagiCoders: Blazer.
  • Game Builder Garage – Nintendo Switch – Kids can learn how to make their own games with guided lessons created by Nintendo. From a simple game of tag to a run-and-jump obstacle course, each lesson is broken down into multiple, manageable segments that let kids go at their own pace—and have fun in the process.
  • Just Play Ada Twist, Scientist On-The-Go Lab Set with Experiment Cards (3+) – Parents and children can work together to create fun pre-school level experiments. Gather the needed tools and additional home supplies (not included) then follow the instructions on the experiment card. Just like Ada, aspiring scientists can formulate a hypothesis, test it, and observe the results!

*This post contains affiliate links