Mom to Iris. Wife to Todd. Our little family lives at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We love it here and I love sharing little bits of our life.

© 2014 sarahfortune.


TRAVEL LOVE: Overland Park, KS

You know I love a good weekend road-trip, so when I got invited to check out Overland Park, Kansas I jumped at the chance. We make it up to Kansas City pretty often, but except for an occasional excursion to Deanna Rose, I’d never thought to explore Overland Park as my primary destination. Thanks to the kind folks at Visit Overland Park we got the lowdown on everywhere we needed to go. The only problem being that we couldn’t fit it all in one weekend! Typically Todd joins us on our trips, but he couldn’t make this one, so I thought it would be fun to bring my mom along. And I’m so glad I did – three generations of girls, on a family road-trip before the holidays to one of the best shopping destinations in this part of the country? Yes, please!

The first great thing about Overland Park is that it’s only a 3.5 hour drive from my front door. For the first time I did all the driving and it was easy-breezy – Didn’t even have to navigate through crazy Kansas City traffic! Checking Iris out of school just a tad early (she was super excited to hear her name called over the intercom), we arrived just before 5:00 on Friday evening. We got settled in our room at the Marriott Kansas Overland Park and, realizing we were all starving, made our way over to the Prairiefire area for dinner at Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzaria. This cute little area looks brand new, but has such charm!

At the restaurant our server brought Iris a pan of pizza dough to play with while we waited for our food – absolutely genius. After eating the most delicious pizza, we wandered around and found a fun little toy shop called Fat Brain Toys. From there, we were picked up by the nicest driver, who surprised us with hot cocoa for our tour of Christmas lights around town. Back in our hotel room, we had another surprise waiting for us – s’mores cupcakes & popcorn courtesy of our new friends at the Marriott. All-in-all, the holiday lights and sweet treats were a perfect ending to our first night in Overland Park.

Officially in the holiday spirit, we woke up fairly early the next morning and went off in search of breakfast. Landing at McLain’s Market, a lovely coffee shop and food joint, we had breakfast bites, lattes, and chocolate milk to fuel our full day. But Iris could hardly wait for our next stop – the American Girl store, where her doll had a hair appointment scheduled. Oh, so fancy! They took such great care of her doll and Iris. It was so sweet to watch. We could have stayed there all day, drooling over all the accessories. Growing up I had the Samantha doll, so I felt myself revert back to my childhood – wanting it all (to share with Iris, of course). The American Girl store is located in the Oak Park Mall, so we took full advantage and did some shopping. It was near impossible to drag Iris away from the candy and Lego shops, but we finally managed.

So what’s my favorite thing to do on our trips? Eat and drink of course! Nearing lunch time, we made our way to Dave & Buster’s – a place I hadn’t been to in years. Basically like a grown-up Chuck E. Cheese, Iris had a blast and I had a DRINK. :) We hung out for a few hours, playing games, eating food, drinking drinks, and of course – Iris’ favorite part – picking out prizes. Needing a little rest from the fun, we headed back to our hotel before our last adventure of the day – the Luminary Walk at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

Once it got dark we made our way to the Luminary Walk. It was so magical with the Christmas lights woven throughout the gardens, pathways lined with candles, and little fairy houses hidden in the trees. There was hot cider for sale, fire pits for a quick warm-up, carolers, and even a gigantic gingerbread house. Wiped out from all the fun, Iris fell asleep on the way back to the hotel. After waking her up for a cozy dinner at our hotel, she got a second wind and had a little tea party with the goodies from The American Girl store.

Sunday morning came too soon, but we weren’t ready to hit the road just yet. Heading back to Prairiefire, we had brunch at Pinstripes, which features bowling, bocce ball, and of course food and drinks. This place wasn’t your standard bowling alley though. The atmosphere was elegant, but family-friendly and the buffet was top-notch. Iris not only got to see Santa, but she experienced her very first CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! I was most impressed with the Bloody Mary bar, but with the drive home I couldn’t quite partake. That said, if you live anywhere close (or if you go to Overland Park for a visit), I highly recommend Pinstripes’ Sunday brunch!

Back on the road, we made it home without so much as a pit-stop and even made it back in time for Iris to attend her friend’s birthday party. Living in Northwest Arkansas, I love that we live so close to so many awesome places – and now Overland Park is officially on my “weekend get-away” list!

Visit Overland Park sponsored this post.

A Walk Around Campus

It had been far too long since Todd and I walked around our old stomping grounds, The University of Arkansas campus. So long that Iris didn’t even remember visiting. The University is only a few miles from our house, so we are really fortunate to have such a beautiful space so nearby. We really need to remember to take advantage of our surroundings more often.

You know those viral photos of the girl leading her boyfriend around the globe? That’s how I feel when I take pictures of Iris lately. Always running ahead, off to explore the world. Me left with a blurry shot of her dress and her legs mid-air. It captures the moment and her spirit all in one snap, so I certainly don’t mind. It was so cool (and a bit surreal) watching her explore a campus where I spent so much time so long ago. I never imagined I would have a little girl roaming those same spots. I also couldn’t help but wonder if Iris might go to school here one day too. If so, I now have some photos to include in her graduation slideshow.

Disney World Scavenger Hunt – How to unveil your future trip!

I wasn’t quite sure how we should surprise Iris that we were going to Disney World. This was mostly because we were going over a month away from the big reveal. I searched high and low on the internet on how to make a child excited about a Disney trip in the future, instead of making them confused or disappointed that they weren’t going right away. I wanted to be the mom that woke up Iris and said, “Pack your bags – we’re going to Disney World TODAY!” But our plans just wouldn’t have it. A trip to Disney was her big birthday present this year (she’s six!), but we are waiting until Thanksgiving break when school is out to go.

Whenever I get home from a work trip, Iris asks me if we can do a scavenger hunt with the souvenirs I brought her. I happened to do this one time (after a particularly long trip where I felt guilty for being away) and she’s never forgotten. So while I’m traveling (or sometimes before I’ve left and happen to think of it at Walmart… shhh!), I gather a few trinkets and pieces of candy to surprise her with. I hide them throughout the house and come up with clever clues to lead her to them. I think she loves this more than the actual treats. So knowing how much she loves this game, I decided to take it to the next level because, well, it’s Disney World we’re talking about!

After a little help from the internet and a little brainstorming of my own, I sat down and got my clues in order. Since Iris wasn’t getting her main birthday present until later on, we thought she deserved to find some fun little prizes the morning of her birthday, all of which were hints about our trip. She opened the first present, which was just a simple poem that informed her about the treasure hunt she was about to partake in. From there, it led her to the first clue (with the first prize), and so on.

Inside the initial gift bag, was this “poem”
along with the very first clue.

Clue #2 came with the first hint: A Minnie Mouse cup full of sweet treats.
I accidentally mixed up the printed clues in this photo and the next one, but you get the idea. Thankfully I realized it before I hid everything!

Clue #3 came with a wooden airplane because we’re flying to Orlando.

Clue #4 came with a nightgown for the trip of her favorite Disney princess – Belle!

Clue #5 came with a calendar I found on Amazon,
with the date of our trip marked with question marks.

Clue #6 came with a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt I picked up from Zara when I was in NYC.

Clue #7 came with, what else, Minnie Mouse ears!
(And if you’re wondering, Iris had a very hard time picking up on all of these clues.
She still didn’t get it – even after getting this hint!)

Well, I couldn’t stop there – especially when I found a black light and invisible ink pen in my office. The treasure hunt continues!
(Iris thought this was WAY cool.)

In her playhouse she found a box with a ribbon around it, and when she opened it she found only a safety pin instead of a clue. Looking around, she noticed a ballon and decided (with a little encouraging) to give it a pop.

Inside the balloon was one of the last clues…

And in the mailbox Iris found a package…

Which she put together and read out loud,
“We’re going to Disney World!”

After a slight struggle with reading the Disney font, Iris FINALLY got that we were going to Disney World. She was happy, but not over the top excited because, honestly, she doesn’t fully understand how big of a deal it is yet. I think the true surprise will be how awesome it is when we get there. We travel so much with her, often taking her along on our grown-up adventures, it will be very special to have a trip that is solely focused around her kind of fun. We leave in just a few day, so check back in to see how it goes!

For now, here’s the moment where it finally clicked:

One Year of Advanced Skin Care

Well, I don’t know how but it has been a full YEAR since I began my new skin care journey with the Northwest Arkansas Center for Plastic Surgery‘s Skin Care Center! As you may remember, I began partnering with them last fall as I dived deep into the world of advanced skin care. Inching closer and closer to 40 (I just turned 37 in October), it’s a world I was desperately wanting to know more about, but had no clue where to start. In the past, I would fluctuate between a cheap moisturizer at Target and what ever specialty products I thought looked cool at Ulta. Well my friends, I’m happy to report that not only is my skin changed thanks to some TLC from my girl Krissa at NWACPS, but I feel so much more knowledgeable on the entire process of caring for my largest organ!

So what did I learn? We see a professional for our hair, our body, our eyes, our teeth, etc., so why did I just start seeing one for my skin at age 36? It’s the first thing people see when they meet you, and it’s often the first thing that changes as you age. NWACPS taught me that it’s all about prevention: the better you take care of your skin now, the less you’ll need (or at least want) to do later.

So what treatments did I love the most? Dermaplane changed my skin almost instantly. I wrote about it over here, but ultimately it’s what gave my skin that instant glow that we all desire. I also fell in love with SkinMedica products – you can read all about my favorites here! And I was super curious about laser treatments, so I was excited to try Nordlys. It took a few treatments, but I could visibly tell that it made my complexion more bright and even over all. This is something that I will certainly keep in mind as I age. And last, but CERTAINLY not least, I am now a Botox believer. Can I get an amen? I started this partnership with NWACPS because I was so intrigued by Botox, but it was hard to get any details on first-hand experiences from folks I trusted. Botox is one of those things a lot of people do, but just don’t talk about. It’s all very hush-hush, but I don’t think it needs to be. So what did I do? I tried it and talked about it on the internet for the world to hear. I had SO many people message me with questions, so it was fun to be open and chat about Botox with others that were curious.

So what’s next? The VIP membership at NWACPS is the way to go. While $500 may seem like a big chunk to pay at once, it’s totally worth it. You get your choice of four treatments per year (Microdermabrasion, Dermaplane, or specialty custom facial – one each quarter). One Skin Peel per year. 10% off all skin care products. AND exclusive pricing on injectables (like Botox!). So basically, if you plan on getting four skin care treatments in a year, it more than pays for itself. If you’d rather start smaller, sign up for a complimentary consultation and see what’s right for you. The aestheticians help guide you in the best direction not only for your skin, but for your time and budget too.

So there you have it, folks. Not only is my skin changed, but so am I. I feel more thoughtful about the way I take care of my skin and am even more thankful for what I have as I grow older.

This post is in partnership with NWACPS, however the words and opinions in my blog are truly my own.

Iris Turns SIX!

Hip hip hooray! Iris had another birthday! This year we gave her the choice of having a smaller birthday party at a fun location or a big party at our house. She opted for the latter and I didn’t complain. Even though there’s a lot of prep no matter how “simple” I keep it, there’s a casual ease about having it at home. Plus there’s wine. Hah.

Anyway, this year Iris chose two themes so I tried my best to blend them together – a unicorn and candy party! The weather called for rain, but it ended up being the most beautiful, crisp October afternoon. That morning when she woke up, we led her on a scavenger hunt where we FINALLY unveiled her big birthday present – a trip to Disney World. I will share the scavenger hunt on a future blog post because, honestly, I put way more planning into that than her party.

For now though, here are a few pictures…