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Titles & Tangents Book Reviews

As a working mom, I find reading time comes in waves. I get most of my reading done while traveling for work or once my kids have gone to bed. I’m thankful my friend invited me to her book club Titles and Tangents so I could be more accountable for finishing the books and made some great friendships along the way. The 7 of us in the book club all have 2 kids and are moms, but other than that we are a diverse group with really different backgrounds and it makes for very interesting discussions and tangents.

Here are 6 of the books I read, what I thought of them, and maybe a little slice of what the other ladies in the book club had to say about them.

THE POWER

Part of me really liked this book. The first part really captured me and I loved how premise. What would the world look like if women had all the power? What I liked the most about the book was how it made me question how I think and gave me a moment in time to wonder what if. Great book for conversation and really enjoyed hearing what others in the book club thought about the book. About half the ladies didn’t like the book and found the middle section hard to get past. If you find this to be true, skip ahead and read the last 20% and you will be fine. Great topic and good thought-provoking ideas but overall I would give the book only 2 out of 5.

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THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

I really got into this book. I love to travel and I enjoyed hearing about the places the main character went and what she saw and did there. It was a captivating mystery and I really wanted to know what happened and got halfway through the book quickly. Then about at this point, I started to really not like the main character, she was so self-destructive and was a total mess. I was a little disappointed with the story and found it very stereotypical and not very realistic. Then, in the end, they try to wrap it all up with other typical women like ended. Makes me wonder about the man who wrote it and who are the women in his life? This gets a 1 out of 5 even if the first half is great, not worth the time.

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EDUCATED

This memoir about a girls family, her upbringing, and the journey she took to gain formal education and the price she paid when she took off the sunglasses that shaped her whole life. I really enjoyed getting this peek into her life and I see how it reminds readers of Glass Castle. Both ladies came from really hard situations and made it out. One thing that is very different about them is Tara’s family was very religious. This is a story about love, commitment, but there is also a lot of abuse, enablement, and damage that cannot be undone. It is heartbreaking but also a good reminder that we all take different journeys in life, we all belong, and to be humble as we never really know everything behind the face of the people we interact with. This book gets 4 out of 5. Great story but I would have liked to see more tied together like the horses that take up a lot of the story and could have been blended better to enhance the underline meaning.

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KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL

This book was something my husband had started and didn’t finish so it was fun reading it and telling him all about it as I had moments that made me wonder if I would ever eat out again or to remind him to not let me order the Sunday Special ever!!! Hubby and I are foodies so this book was interesting to hear the behind the scenes of the kitchen but to be totally honest ignorance is bliss and maybe it is just better to not know.  As a vegetarian, it is clear Anthony isn’t a fan and I too wasn’t a fan of the details on some of his meat dished. Just TMI if you ask me, even if you like meat. In the end, I do feel more educated and will avoid lemons on my drink and other dishes as a result of reading this book. So I give it a 2 out of 5 and might suggest listening to the audio version with Anthony narrating.

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NINE PERFECT STRANGERS

I really enjoyed this book, and not just because I met the author with my book club. The story really captured me and I loved the mini stories around each person and how they all got this place. It is really about people, love, connections, and what we are all looking for in life. Liane is a great writer and I couldn’t put this book down as I wanted to know what was next in their journey or how they might manage the situation they didn’t realize they would be in. As a mom some parts even made me cry and I was sad the book was over. I give it a 5 out of 5 and would suggest others to read it.

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SADIE

I was recently on a long road trip and heard Sadie was a great audiobook. It was the BEST I have ever heard. In fact, it was as if it was designed to be an audiobook since the story is about a podcast. Looking back at the book (at book club) it reads more like a script and that seems kind of annoying so totally recommend the audio version. Loved the story about Sadie and her journey with the what life tosses at her. It is a story about bravery, about love, family, and how dark the world can be. Even thou I wasn’t a huge fan for how it ended I will only give it a 4 out of 5 since there was a big flaw in how Sadie got to stalk people to then find them at the bar without a cellphone or access to the internet. So the book only gets 4, but a 5 for it being an audiobook.

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See what I am currently reading on my Two Working Mom Highlights and let me know what you are reading and if you have any recommendations. * L


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LOVE for all the Seasons of Your Life

Today is Valentine’s Day and I just love, love!!! Life is how you see it, so I wanted to share several ways I share love, in the different seasons of life. Perhaps something will inspire you to bring more love and happiness in yours.

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SINGLE LADIES 

When I was single I hosted a Glanetine’s brunch at my little San Francisco home. For several years we gathered with bubbly, flowers, and yummy brunch dishes. One year I got all the ladies corsage and every year it was a drunken haze after everyone left with my heart feeling full. Even when I had a boyfriend I made sure to leave February 14th brunch window open for my girls. Friends are so important, not only when you are single and need a buddy, but as we change our seasons, grown, and be there for you on life’s journey.

One year I made mimosa wedges!!! It was a lot of work but would love to make these again. I also miss hosting my girlfriends now that my life has changed but might try to fit this back in next year.

I don’t have a lot of guy friends but I did at one time. Another fun option to include everyone is to have a gender-mixed Pajama Party with all your best friends. Play Truth or Dare, watch a movie, play games and maybe even bake cookies or decorate them together.

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If you are not able to host a party here are some fun ideas if you want to do something fun with your favorite pals this Valentine’s Day:

  1. Make a “date night” where the two of you head out to a favorite restaurant and bring along a sentimental gift to mark the friendship celebration.
  2. Why not do a Couples’ Massage, with your BFFs. Enjoy the luxury of a spa visit with your BFF and you won’t care how bad your hair looks after the massage. You can make a day of it and just relax.
  3. If massage isn’t for you, do a Mani/Pedi. Choose a fun place that lets you bring a bottle of bubbly and fun treats to share.
  4. Create an adventure – whether you choose skydiving, a spa, private yoga lesson, hike, or a day/weekend trip to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle or some other great destination for the day. Do something with a friend that you’ve both always wanted to do, but don’t have the courage to do on your own.
  5. Binge on Netflix and your favorite snacks.
  6. You could sign up for a class, like one of the paint and wine ones, or the new ones that let you make a terrarium or new personalized sign to hang up.

LADIES WITH A PARTNER 

I had a first date on February 12th and when he asked if I wanted to go out again 2 days later for Valentine’s Day I knew he was the one. We went to some local sushi restaurant in San Franciso and we have been together ever since. New relationships are always so much fun.

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2 years later, my boyfriend proposed to me on Valentine’s Day in Tahoe CA while on vacation, and it was super special. We snowboarded all day, got massages, and had a nice dinner. The couple next to us got a bottle of champagne to help us celebrate. As a couple, not all valentine’s need to be this extravagant but it really did make me feel special.

Having a new love is so much fun and here are a few fun and exciting things you might want to consider this Valentine’s day with your new love:

  1. Go shopping for something fun to wear that night. Go bold and see who can top each other with their wild sexy gift.
  2. Plan a fun day trip or a weekend get-a-way.
  3. Do something to stretch yourself, dare to do something new, romantic, or wild. Why not, you only live ones and you are in love!!!
  4. Create something together or go on a tour.
  5. Create a fun game for your new love. A scavenger hunt, or a blindfold adventure.
  6. Or be you, and just treat your new love to breakfast in bed, a massage, or a special meal made by you.

MARRIED LADIES 

Having a partner to spoil is so much fun! Our first year married hubby made me a special dinner at home. He got new fancy serving plates and made my favorite dish, chocolate covered strawberries (along with other stuff). We hung out at home and watched a movie together.

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Being married doesn’t mean you don’t go out, but these days I do love staying home. Here are some fun things to do with your old time favorite love:

  1. Bing on your new favorite show and eat junk food in your new matching PJs.
  2. Recreate your first date. Maybe you can’t actually go there but you can try your best to redo it at home with the same dishes and maybe music.
  3. Take a blood test and find out your DNA, or go donate blood and feel good about saving someone’s life.
  4. Volunteer at an animal shelter or deliver meals. Sharing you care for others is a fun way to build the love for one another.
  5. Make the love last longer and give your partner a series of dates all year long with a fun membership or already planned dates with gift cards or reservations.
  6. If you can’t be with each other text them, send them fun videos, or memes to make the day fun and special and plan something at another time.

MAMA LADIES 

Having a partner to spoil is so much fun, but having kids to spoil might be more fun! My son is 6 and my daughter is 3 and I love giving them making them a little gift bag to celebrate the day.  For my kindergartener, I do a fun valentine’s day bento box lunch with heart cut apples and all. Then at dinner, we do heart-shaped personalized pizzas. It’s a lot of fun making the day special for them.

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Some other fun stuff I might do with them one day:

  1. Dad and daughter date, while mom and son go out too.
  2. Pamper night at home, with nail painting, face painting, and maybe a fun movie while drinking kids spa water (aka lemonade).
  3. Do a dance party with music, balloons, and fun snacks.
  4. Have the kids make valentines for others. I love crafts and this is a kind way to have little ones give back.
  5. Make a love obstacle course for your little ones. You can have the bag of gifts at the end as the reward.
  6. Find a bunch or valentine related love books for kids at the library and have a quiet day of love at home with hot cocoa, cookies, and books.

Also never forget to love yourself. Self-care is super important so you can be there for not only yourself but for all the ones you love.

Happy Valentine’s Day and let me know if you have other fun ways to celebrate the season of love. * L

 


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My Top 5 Kid Books of 2018

Here are some of my favorite kid books my 3 and 5-year-old daughter and son loved last year.

Not Quite Narwhal: Love the colors and illustration of this book about identity. This year my son started Kindergarten and as little ones and even adults grow up we often ask our self are we a unicorn or a narwhal? Well, maybe not that but it is a very kind story about Kelp finding out he might not be what he thought he was and how this new discovery actually made his life better by bringing two worlds together.

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Dagons Love Tacos: This is a funny book about dragons who don’t like to eat spicy foods but love tacos. Funny since I love spicy foods and my kids don’t, but also a fun way to show them that not all foods are spicy. Not even tacos who are usually spicy, especially the ones on mama’s plate. Found these absolutely cute taco holding taco trucks that came two per a pack (orange and green) so it turned into a fun night.

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Linus the Vegetarian T.Rex: My family is vegetarian (well hubby is pseudo) and this is a fun book on the topic to help not only my kids talk about what is a vegetarian but for all kids to open up to learning that everyone is different and we may not look the same, or maybe we don’t eat the same. My son started Kindergarten this year and I liked this book about diversity.

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Robo-Sauce: This is a fun book about a kid who turns into a robot. Love the creative images and a BIG foldout page that my kids can’t wait to play with. Great book about being yourself and noticing the people around you. Of course, I paired it with spaghetti night.

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Try a Little Kindness: Was the perfect addition to our month of December and random acts of kindness. This book is about different ways we can be kind, like letting others go first in line, holding the umbrella for someone, and opening the door for others. We can all use a little reminder and what a cute book to share with a little one in your life.

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Let me know what favorites you have. * L


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A Quality Year

I’m not sure what I think about 2018. At first, I was thinking it wasn’t a great year overall, but when I look at my goals I crushed it and got 85% of them accomplished so why was it just an OK year. I thought a lot about this, goals, life, and what makes us happy. It is the New Year and as I reflect and plan what this year’s goal would be I found myself returning to a specific word, quality. Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 4.40.56 PM.png

I have never had a word for the year, but I saw others doing this and it really resonated with me. Right now I have a lot of options and possibilities and I am not really sure what direction I am going to take. What I do know is I want my life to be happy and I want to live a quality life. I don’t need a lot and I want to make sure the things I do, buy, am, are a life of quality.  My 2019 word is quality.

But what does a quality life look like? How do I create one for myself? I brainstormed what this quality life looks like.

A quality life …

  • that is healthy
  • full of love
  • that is in impactful
  • when I feel centered
  • that is beautiful
  • that is intentional
  • that is adventurous
  • full of my family
  • with true friends
  • that is creative
  • that is financial responsible
  • that is a kind life

I am very much a planner, a goal driven lady who takes on too much. I like details and having goals for the year without the specifics made me nervous that I wouldn’t have a focus or a true direction to follow so I built out my 12 areas of a quality life into my monthly challenges.

My thought is you can’t change everything at once, so focusing on one aspect a month on a specific area might be enough time to turn that focus into a new habit.

For 2019 I am kicking off the year with a month focusing on a quality life that is healthy. Last year I had a running goal to do 2 half marathons. I ended up doing 3 and ran more than ever. However, I didn’t reach my weight goal and at the end of the year I sprained my ankle and had to stop running.

So to make up for a little too much sugar and treats, and no running for the last month + I am doing a Keto challenge for all of January. I have been a vegetarian for over 25 years and I eat a lot of veggies but I also eat a lot of sugar and carbs. Curious to see if Keto eating makes a difference to my body. I even bought a scale for the first time in my life to really see if the numbers change. If you are interested in my meal plan or what I am eating following me on Instagram.

Here are some other things I will be doing in January to have a quality life that is healthy.

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Whatever your goals are or whatever you plan to do this year I hope you all have only good days ahead. Really every day can be a good day if you find the good things that hide amongst the darkness. It’s all perspective and with the right glasses, anything is possible.

I’ll keep you posted on how my first month of healthy living goes.

Happy New Year all and thanks for following TWM. * L


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Par-TEA Tips for Busy Parents

My little girl turned 3 a few months ago when it was still warm out. It feels like forever ago but finally getting around to posting about it. I wanted to share some birthday tips for a busy parent who wants to do it all.

My little girl wanted to have a tea party for her 3rd birthday. At first, I thought it would be fun to do an Alice in Wonderland type of party but ultimately wanted to try and do something a little more unique,  so I thought perhaps a spinoff would be fun and a little different and we, instead aimed to do a dragon and fairy tea party in the backyard.

Here is the birthday girl with her fabulous nanny and these cute plastic tea cups with straws I got from Amazon. A blessing since the party ending up being inside and a bunch of little kids ran around with drinks in their hands.

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I really wanted to go all out and be crazy because I love parties, but I have been so busy at work, (starting work at 7am,  working evenings and weekends) and there just wasn’t a lot of time to do everything myself in my typical DIY kind of way.

As moms, we have to learn what is too much and not drive ourselves crazy with unrealistic goals. This is a great lesson we can teach our kids by example. 

I was an 80’s kid and I had my birthday parties in the garage with store-bought cake, and you know what, I loved it.

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Outsource Anything You Can

Instead of making a cake, I bought one. I wanted to get a really nice cake from one of the amazing local ladies but they both couldn’t do it that weekend. It kind of killed me not making my own cake since I love baking but it was a hot August day here in Seattle and that week of the party we had the worst air quality due to wildfires. I just didn’t want to cook in a hot house with the windows closed (we don’t have AC). So I got one at the store and it was fine enough. They got her name right and you know what… the kids loved it.

Get a Helper

My mom made a bunch of paper flowers we used pink tule to bunch them and decorate our home. Originally the party was going to be outside with a big white cabana for the sun, but the bad air quality kept us inside. Again, let it go and go with the flow!!!!

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It is always great to have a helping hand, and I was thankful my Mom was in town to help decorate and get the birthday girl ready. Especially if you have to pivot and go from an outside to an inside party. Trust me, get help. If you don’t have a close friend or family member then I would suggest hiring a local teen in the area to play with the kids while you set up.

Give Big Kids a Job

We did things a little different for this birthday party and didn’t do party favor bags to give at the end of the party. Instead, we did gift bags right when they got there. My son who is 5 got to have the job of passing them out and being a host for the event. He really liked having a job for the party and felt included at the tea party. The kids could either get a bag with dragon wings and a mask or fairy wings and necklace, in their gift bag along with some other sparkly and fun treats to take home with them.

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Activity or Game

I am a big fan of having a game or some kind of activity for the kids to do at a party. For the tea party, we had gold crowns, markers, stickers, and jewels for the kids to decorate and personalize them. We also had a bubble game for the backyard since it was summer and wanted to get the wiggles out after cake but of course, due to weather, we had to stay inside. Who would have thought?!

Keep it Simple

This was my lesson learned. We went a little overboard with food options. We love food and wanted to have healthy options as well as fun tea time treats. Everyone loved the options and ate, but we had a lot of food leftover. In the end, I think pizza, some fruit and maybe a veggie plate is fine enough. Keep the food simple and the kids won’t care either way. That said, I do appreciate coffee at birthday parties before noon.

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In the spirit of keeping things simple check out my friend’s blog on The Easiest Kid Birthday Party Formula for some other great suggestions. Right now I am planning my son’s 6th birthday and I am not making some of the same mistakes I have made in the past. * L


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Juice Cleanse Made Me Feel Dirty

If you have been following me then you know I like to do new challenges for myself. I would consider myself a healthy person who has been a vegetarian for 28 years, runs regularly and tries to live a healthy lifestyle. I have never done a juice cleanse and thinking about the new year and my goals I thought this might be a great time to try it out. Everyone’s experience is unique, and this is mine and why I don’t think the juice cleanse thing is for me.

Everything came by mail and I got it in a few days at my doorstep. 18 juice bottles arrived mostly frozen and I put a few in the fridge to start later that day. Since I didn’t give it enough time to defrost the first few, what I had was more of a slushy, but, as it turns out, I really enjoyed the crunch. The directions did say to give it 24 hours to defrost. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 11.06.47 AM

The directions said there wasn’t any order to juices and to drink them when I was hungry. It was a 3 day cleanse and on top of the juice you should drink lots of water. Raw veggies and some nuts (very little) can be added if you must have something. The directions also said you didn’t have to drink all 6 juices in one day.

I loved 4 of the first flavors I had and to my surprise, things I don’t normally enjoy, like carrot juice,  were super yummy with a touch of ginger and lemon.  The 5th one I had was not that good and reminded me of grass. I was so hungry I drank it and was looking forward to the 6th one. Sadly it was the same flavor. Just my luck that the one I didn’t like was the only one doubled up each day. So out of 16 juices, it was 4 of them.  It was so gross that I just opted to not drink it and went to bed early, hungry and a little worried about how I was going to manage the next day on 4 juices.

I have never gone to bed hungry and as I laid there in my bed I felt dirty. Here I am a white privileged 40-year-old starving myself in the name of cleansing. My tummy growled as if it agreed with me and in the dark I found comfort knowing my daughter at age 3 didn’t see this disaster. I’m her role model and what I am saying by starving myself? I do agree drinking all that water and having to go to the bathroom every hour did something. I do feel lighter and my clothes fit better, but when I went running I was weak and my body just wasn’t at its best.

For me the juice cleanse isn’t the lifestyle I want to represent. I want to celebrate food, people, community, and treat my body with respect and fuel it with love. * L


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Enchant Christmas in Seattle

I was so excited to take my family to Seattle’s new Christmas event, Enchant Christmas. Wanted to share my experience so you can judge if this is the right event for you and your family. Also shared some tips if you do go to make the most of it.

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Getting In

We went on Saturday night for the 4:30 opening. Got there early and parked in the parking garage across the street for $25. When we drove by the front the line was so long getting in so we took our time getting out of the car and had snacks ready for my 3 and 5-year-old to be patient in line. When we got there at 4:30 the line was mostly gone and everything went really fast including security check. Do not show up early as you will just be waiting in line, but do show up early if you do not have your pre-sale tickets. When we got there tickets are sold out till the 9pm opening. Thankfully we got in… long story.

Snow and Ice and Everything Nice

I wasn’t really sure how the maze and ice skating worked. The maze was more of an open area so having a running 3-year-old wasn’t any fun. Should have brought the stroller, but dang that elevator line must have been a long one, so happy we didn’t. The maze or walk about was super pretty and there were so many photo ops. I loved it when I wasn’t chasing my little one. Would have loved a kid-friendly area that was fenced off and stuff they are allowed to touch and climb on. For this reason, I really didn’t think this event was little kid appropriate.

Tip: if you do go with little one, make sure to take them someplace beforehand to get the wiggles out. Really my advice would be not to bring them till they are 8 and up. (After I took the photo below we came back to this area and noticed they put up signs saying not to touch or walk on this.)

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My kids got really excited to see snow. There were a few special spots with snowfall but it was so tiny you almost missed it. Nothing like what you saw on the site. The worrier in me wasn’t sure what the snow was made of and once my kids tried to eat it and catch the snowflakes on their tongue we moved on.

They had a fun game to find clues to catch the raindeers but my 3 and 5-year-old didn’t really care much for it and just wanted to run around. I thought it was a very nice touch and kids 8 or up might enjoy something like this to make the maze more interactive.

Other than the maze there is a lazy river ice skating area. For $10 and maybe an hour wait in line, you can take part. My kids don’t know how to ice skate as most 5 and under might not so we didn’t take part in this. My kids really wanted to play with ice and snow so even showing them the area made them a little sad they couldn’t take part.

Tip: If you aren’t skating just avoid this area with your little ones.

Shopping & Food

I’ve been to the German Christmas Markets and got chestnuts, pastries, and hot mulled wine. Here the only food you are going to get is the normal Safeco food. They did add mulled wine and spiked hot cocoa. I brought a lot of snacks, so for our family, we got 3 slices of pizza, and a bottle of water, hot cocoa for the kids for $50. I also got spiked hot cocoa and a cup of mulled wine for $20 ($10 each). The wine was disgusting we couldn’t drink it and just tossed it in the trash. Kind of tasted like everything in it got burned and was really not drinkable. Another person who attended said the same thing so whatever you do do not order this.

Tip: Do order the spiked hot cocoa and make sure to bring your own marshmallows.

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Stores at these Christmas Markets sell cookies and treats but also ornaments, scarfs, things to keep warm and seasonal stuff. The stores at this event are lipstick, Seahawk gear, and stuff people like but not traditional to what I was expecting. Also after spending $165 for a family of 4 ($70 family pack, $25 for parking, $70 on food) for a few hours, I wasn’t in the mood to shop and my kids didn’t have the patience with the crowd. Perhaps if it was just hubby and me, it might have been more fun to look around the little booths and shop a little.

Tip: Not sure what the policy is but I brought a lot of food and snacks for my kids. I’d bring a sandwich if you don’t want to pay $6 for a slice of pizza.

It’s Christmas

I just love Christmas and this place is super magical and beautifully decorated. Would make for a fun date night with a loved one. They also have Santa and some great spots for photos. The line for Santa was really long and there wasn’t much for the kids to do while they wait. There is also not a lot of sitting areas so after eating dinner standing and drinking some hot cocoa we opted to leave after being there for 90 min.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring a coat. The event is covered but it is very cold and drafty. We had jackets but I wish I had brought the kids gloves.

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In the end, I was happy we went and I loved how pretty everything was and so magical. But when friends ask it was a lot of money and I don’t think it is a great place for little kids. Save the money and go to candy cane lane and get hot cocoa as you walk.

I can’t wait to go Enchant next year without my kids. * L