Life Lately: Great Wolf Lodge, Williamsburg VA

Two massive stoic wolves plank the grand entrance of this whimsical lodge. Playful upside down umbrellas hang from the ceiling swaying ever so slightly. A giant rustic antler chandelier floats above.

There are speedy, laughing children running around everywhere and it’s awesome.


What’s better? The smell of donuts and coffee wafting in the lobby. There is a Dunkin Donuts right there. Iced coffee all the time, helping you to keep up with those speedy little people.


We arrived on 4th of July so we got American flag wolf ears. We kept ours on at all times. Lodge rules we told Austin.

“I’ll race you to our room. Ready, set, go.” We flew by families (who I apologized to as we almost knocked them down) and they smiled right back at us. They weren’t annoyed. You know why? Because this is a place where kids can be kids.

Run, jump, sing. Get out those wiggles.

We shot dinosaurs and won bouncy balls. We ate grab machine candy. We played Magi Quest. Correction, Nick played Magi Quest with Austin, because real life dungeons and dragons isn’t really my thing, but they loved it.

Austin made his very own stuffed red dragon, stuffed exactly to his squeezability preference.


We ate many buffet dinners around a magical tree house that lit up with the wave of a wand.

We ate gooey cake brownies that glistened and tacos and pizza and pretzels. Kid food at it’s best.

We bought “wolfies” and gave hugs. We even slept in a little which was amazing since we all shared one room.

Yes, there was a waterpark. Yes, the kids loved it. There were also pina coladas, mom liked that.

There were pajama dance parties and bubble wands and story time with singing trees and forrest animals. Austin and I had a lunch date while Nick and Lilly napped. We met a nice waitress who showed us a picture of her giant pet turtle.

If I was a kid dreaming up a magical forest vacation this would be it.


Austin wants to go back for his “five birthday and bring nana.”

I’m all in.

Great Wolf Lodge
Williamsburg, Virginia
Eat: All the online reviews say the food situation is bad. I can’t speak for all of the resorts but ours was great. I had a bbq chicken salad for lunch at the “Loose Moose Bar and Grill” with an angry orchard cider and it was delish. Dinners were buffet style and they always had a taco bar. That’s a win in my book. There was tons of kids food too. We had late night (8pm) pizza one night from the smaller more casual style restaurant because Austin was still hungry and it was good. There was a snack bar in the waterpark that had soft pretzels and fresh fruit with yogurt dip. I really can’t complain. Okay, here is my one complaint. It was a bit pricey when all is said and done but it was worth it for the convenience with two small children and it tasted good.

Drink: I ordered multiple pina-coladas from the snack bar in the water park. They hit the spot and kept mama happy.

Sleep: We skipped the themed room this time. Austin still comes in our bed around 2am every night so it made no sense to get a pricey “wolf den” that he wouldn’t stay in. We brought our pack and play for Lilly to sleep in. There was a little wall divider that sectioned off the couch in the room and the bed. It was perfect since she goes to sleep a little earlier than Austin.

Play: Everywhere. There is just so much to do. Lilly (just one year old) loved the outdoor baby waterslide and the dance parties and bubble wands. Austin (four years old) was just jaw dropped all the time and having a blast. This place is made for playing. Can’t go wrong. I thought my littles might be too young but it was great.

Kiss: Yeah so, this place isn’t really all about getting romantic BUT I was surprised to see that you can get a cheese and wine plate delivered to your room! I was all about that until I got stuffed with tacos at the buffet. There was one thing I missed though. Nick and I like to order a movie when the kids go to sleep and they weren’t any pay movie options.

The Post I’ve Been Wanting to Write for Too Long

I’ve been wrestling with what I’m about to write for a few years now. But this month for some reason I’ve found the clarity and courage to say what I’ve been feeling but unable to express.


It’s time for me to be open about the fact that I have outgrown a few major aspects of this blog. Perhaps it’s become really obvious to everyone else. I still have to write this down though.

Ever since I had Austin things started to feel a little different (I hear motherhood will do that).

Many of the posts I wrote became difficult to complete. They felt forced and I was less satisfied with the final results. I didn’t get that same feeling of creative release and accomplishment. It felt more like a chore.

I took breaks here and there, but I never really came back to my old groove.

The hardest part of the upkeep and forced writing were the Jell-O shot recipes. Which is most definitly why it was so difficult to stop or better yet …. change. This was the profitable part.

The book deal that came right after I had Austin. The exposure and adoration from well known publishers. It felt as if it was too late to give that up. I had responsibilities to be this “person.” To sell books. To be the brand.

But it’s painfully obvious that I’m just not this girl in this picture anymore with vodka soaked gummy bears in my hair.


Toddler saliva soaked fruit snacks, yes. Boozy gummy bears, no.

So even though my life was pulling me joyfully in a different direction I resisted and fought the current.

Aside from the boozy treats I also no longer have timeto make fun or fancy recipes and photograph them.


Cooking used to be a creative outlet and stress reliever. These days cooking is about meal prepping, time saving and convenience for my husband when I’m running late from work.

Not much fun sadly. More rushing and multitasking.


The good news is there are many things about this blog that I still love very much and want to keep contributing to. I miss writing. I love photography. I love all of the creative sharing that this blog makes possible.

I want to paint and show you. I want to read books (audio books is what time allows for) and tell you about them. I want to take trips with my family and document them.


I know my audience looking for “Michelle the Jell-O shot queen” might not be looking for what this season of my life has to offer. But I’m okay with that.

It’s time to float easily toward where this season of life is pulling me.

Not a brand. Not a product. Me the mom. Me the writer (albeit rusty but hoping to work at that more). Me the poet. Me the photographer. Me the dreamer.


This is me. This is it. Im leaving my “Jell-O shot queen” sash and tiara at the foot of my front steps and closing the door.



Hershey Park after Christmas

After Christmas, in an attempt to get out of the house after multiple days of the kids home from school, we packed up the car and headed to Hershey Park.

It was just as wonderful as I remembered it from my childhood trips.

Fresh fudge and chocolate bars in every shape and size around every corner. Elves popped popcorn and spun cotton candy.

Austin rode dragons and helicopters and the adult scrambler. We waited in a long line for the cocoa cruiser kids coaster three times and each time was worth it.

We rode a real steam powered train around the park. We had giant s’mores and hot cocoa with whipped cream

We saw Santa’s reindeer and asked multiple times where Rudolf was.

We rode the ferriswheel and saw the sunset from up high, bright orange and pink. We made multiple trips to the heated bathrooms (that smelled like chocolate!?) for diaper changes and potty breaks.

We covered Lilly’s little hands with socks so they stayed on tight and warm. She was a good sport. That face! Those cheeks!

When the sun set the colder air really settled in so we walked briskly to our last destination, the chocolate world ride.

The line was long. We did “pick me up” and “put me down” and “don’t touch that” and “don’t put that in your mouth” for almost an hour but stayed happy.

All four of us squished together in one car while thesmooth ride coasted forward.

Chocolate milk cows sang. Big vats of chocolate were stirred. Cocoa beans were roaster. Giant hershey kisses danced.

After the ride we bundled back up and headed to our hotel all smiles.

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn instead of one of the Hershey hotels and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Clean and modern. Room service picnic dinner. Burgers and grilled cheese with tomato soup. The kiddos passed out quick from a day full of fun.

I rented Bridget Jones Baby and watched while Austin slept nuzzled in my shoulder and Lilly snored in her pack n’ play.

I love hotels. One family. One room. No responsibilities. Just time spent with each other extra close.

When we woke up it had snowed. Austin marveled at the powder white view out the window and played with the hotel phone pretending he was at a dentists office. “Hello, do you have cavities?”

We had a quick breakfast by a fireplace (make to order omlets!) in the lobby and hit the road.

Best overnight trip ever. I think we’ve found a new Christmas tradition.


Paris in Late November Part 1

Pretty much since I was a little girl I’ve dreamed of going to Paris. There wasn’t anything in particular I wanted to see, it was more of a pipedream about luxury and hard work paying off. “One day Belle, one day we will go to Paris together,” my mom would say.

I thought maybe when I was old and gray we would make it. I can’t believe how blessed I am that this trip happened already.

Let me first say that Paris in late November is perfection.

It not too cold yet. There are no lines at the Louvre. The Christmas decorations and festivals are magical (get ready I am going to say magical a lot) and there are outdoor heaters in all the cafes so you can still dine outside.

There is no way I could recap this trip in one post so I will start with our first full day. My favorite day.

Nick had to work so I was on my own. The Louvre was close to our hotel so I decided it was as a good place to start.

It was so quiet everywhere. Sunny, breezy and prefectly chilly.

On my way in a street vendor was selling roasted chestnuts. He had an old school grill with a burnt wire rack and an open flame. The chestnuts looked questionable but the idea of actual roasted chestnuts made me happy.

I sat outside by the famous entrance and fountain for awhile to just take it all in. You see these places in movies or on your friends Facebook feeds, but it’s just so. much. better. in person.

It’s old. It’s massive. It’s almost whimsical.

When I got inside it was so huge that it took me awhile to figure out where I was and what I wanted to see.

After hanging out in this atrium for awhile I decided to focus on the paintings.

I walked slowly through each gallery. Again, it was so quiet. Hardly any tourists it seemed. There were times I was completely alone. I got lost in my thoughts about what a Spanish or French artists life in the 1800 must have been like before anyone cared about their work. Or, who was that painting really about?

Here was one of my favorites.

In 1839 Francois Biard (the artist) went on an expedition to the arctic. This was a landscape that he painted when he returned from his trip. The contrast between the beauty of the northern lights with the agony of the figures trapped in the ice is captivating and thought provoking.

I stood and stared for awhile.

Moms of two kids under four don’t get to stop and stare you guys. Like I said, it was magical.

Like this view out the window.

Or how about when I was about to leave to grab a quick lunch and saw there was an Angelina’s (a place I really, really wanted to go to so I could have some famous hot chocolate) right there at the end of the paintings exhibit inside the Louvre.

Destiny. Destiny with dark, rich, thick (the thickest) hot chocolate.

And this view from my table. And the girl with the BERET! Come on.

Like a dream.

I was almost too giddyto eat my croque monsieur.

I left after this and met Nick at our hotel and then we went out for dinner. I can’t write more now. Austin’s got bronchitis and a fever of 103.5 (asleep next to me) and Lilly has a double ear infection.

That brought you right back to reality right? Yeah me too.

More next time on where we stayed and other memorable moments.

NEW Candy Corn Jello Shots

I worked on some new jello shot recipes with one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE publishers this season! Check out the amazing video that Delish made with one of the recipes! More to come soon,

Recipe here.