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.


Category : Sponsored

TRAVEL LOVE: Loews Hollywood Hotel

You know what you just gotta do sometimes? Go on a little getaway to California. Being in Arkansas, I find myself usually exploring this half of the country, but man-oh-man is it worth it to branch out a every once in a while. I’ve been to the west coast quite a bit, but usually it’s for work and the journeys I’ve taken for fun were years ago. Recently though, we had the the opportunity to hop on a plane and be treated to a long weekend at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.

We spent three glorious nights right in the heart of La La Land. As we left the hotel, the stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame were under our feet and inside the Hollywood sign was in perfect view from our (two!) king beds. When we arrived, we were greeted with an early check-in along with some major goodies in our room.

Our first day we were a little tired from the early morning flight, so after a bite to eat we all took some much needed naps. Waking up refreshed, we took a little trip to the rooftop swimming pool and then ventured out to dinner. We hopped in a Lyft and explored a part of Hollywood with two dining spots I’ve been admiring from afar for quite a while: Au Fudge (Jessica Biel’s restaurant) for a little dessert before dinner and Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR (featured in my guilty pleasure, Vanderpump Rules). Checking those items off my bucket list, we headed back for a good night’s sleep at Loews.

The next day we woke up and explored the area around the hotel. There are shops, restaurants, world-famous theaters, and other excitement surrounding the property. Loews Hollywood is actually a preferred hotel partnered with Universal Studios, so after breakfast at a retro diner around the corner, we were off to spend the day riding rides and drinking Butterbeer!

Universal Studios exceeded our expectations by far. Iris is on the small, but brave side so I was afraid there would be things that she wanted to do, but wouldn’t be big enough for. Thankfully, she could ride almost everything. We were pleasantly surprised that the wait times weren’t bad at all, and of course the California weather was perfection. I had forgotten that so many of the rides were 3-D, which was such a cool, unique experience.

Of course we had to stop by The Simpson’s Krusty Burger for lunch (and a Duff Beer!) and take the studio tour, but the main attraction for Iris was Harry Potter World. She has recently gotten into the movies, so our very first stop was for a Butterbeer, while our last stop of the day was for a wand at Ollivanders. One of the coolest things in Harry Potter world is that there is some legit magic in these wands. There are certain spots where you can stand, do a spell and actually make things move. After a very magical day, we headed back to the home at Loews where we had dinner in the hotel lounge, H2 Kitchen & Bar. It was exactly what we needed – a relaxing, yet delicious ending to our busy day.

The next morning after we slept in a bit, we grabbed coffee and breakfast from Bodega (the cutest little hotel shop, fully stocked with everything from wine to fresh fruit). From there, we headed over to the Santa Monica Pier because you can’t go to California without seeing the ocean! It was another gorgeous day so we explored the pier and dipped our toes in the pacific. From there, we made a spur of the moment decision to rent bikes and ride along the boardwalk to Venice Beach. I got quite a sunburn, which I’m still nursing, but it was well worth it.

On our last night, we wanted to stay around and enjoy the luxury of our hotel. We had an early morning flight and wanted to soak in the last hours in the comfort of our home for the weekend. There is so much to do, to see, to eat, to drink, to play, and so on – all right there. I only wish we had more time. Guess that means we’ll just have to venture back that way sometime soon..

Special thanks to the Loews Hollywood Hotel for hosting our stay! While our experience was sponsored, all opinions are my own.

RECIPE: Pizza Pasta Salad Featuring Barilla

Nothing makes me feel more like a super-mom than opening my pantry door and whipping up an impromptu dinner with items I already have on hand. Some days are so full, I forget to meal plan – but that’s when being smartly saves the day. I must admit, most of these last-minute meal decisions involve pasta, but I’ve recently learned that there’s a more wholesome way to be prepared in the pasta department. I’ve teamed up with Barilla to share an easy, yet tasty pasta recipe that also happens to be very kid friendly (mom-win!). Pizza Pasta Salad , using Barilla ProteinPLUS Farfalle Pasta, can be served as a side-dish, but’s it’s hearty enough to be a perfect main course on a warm evening.

The idea of eating pizza in any form other than by the slice, is so hilarious to Iris that she usually cleans her plate. It’s also a recipe that’s easy to get her involved with. From picking the fresh basil, to combining all the ingredients, Iris loves to help out in the kitchen.

Available at Walmart, Barilla ProteinPLUS isn’t your typical pasta. it’s a good source of lean protein from a simple blend of egg whites, grains, lentils and chickpeas. Barilla ProteinPLUS provides 17g of protein (per 3.5oz portion) from all natural vegetarian ingredients. Not to mention, it’s a good source of Fiber and ALA Omega-3. Ingredients aside, Iris loves it (as do I) and Barilla’s wholesome pasta line-up doesn’t stop there. Barilla Whole Grain Pasta and Barilla White Fiber Pasta are all options that as a mom I can feel good about. Barilla Gluten Free pasta has even recently been named one of Parents Magazine’s “Top 25 Allergy Free Foods”.

Now on to the recipe!

1 package of Barilla ProteinPLUS Farfalle Pasta
1 (5 oz) package of mini pepperoni
1 (8 oz) package of mini mozzarella balls
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
1 bell pepper
3/4 cup of parmesan cheese
1 (2.25 oz) can of sliced black olives
7-10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup your favorite Italian dressing
salt & pepper to taste

– Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
– While your water is heating, wash and prep the fresh veggies (roughly chop the fresh basil, medium dice the bell pepper, & slice the cherry tomatoes)
– Boil pasta until al-dente, approximately 10 minutes
– Let pasta cool, add back to the pot and combine with other ingredients
– Serve at room temperature or chilled

For more ideas on using Barilla Pasta, visit the recipe section on their website and Pinterest for more inspired dishes. And be sure to check out Barilla on Ibotta for some savings too!

This is a paid post, however all opinions are my own.

Annie’s Love

Spring has sprung, and so have our schedules. With our calendars in full bloom, our days are bustling from sun up to sun down. The older Iris gets, the busier our schedule gets and, of course I swear Iris is growing by the minute. That means not much time goes by without her tiny voice requesting a snack. Thankfully, as a long-time Annie’s fan, I have easy choices that I can feel good about. Whether it’s as soon as she gets home from school, during a back-yard picnic, or on-the-go, it’s comforting having snack choices that not only does Iris love, but that I know are better for her than many other options out there.

Available at Walmart, I was excited to see that Annie’s has an assortment of new treats. Located near the breakfast and snack bars, Iris is pretty keen on the new Organic Chewy Granola Bars. Since I already make a Walmart run at least once a week, I consider this a win-win.

I learned early-on to keep a packet of Cheddar Bunnies in my purse for any emergency grumpy situations that may arise, and now I’ve added Iris’ new fave (quite literally) to my back-pocket. This weekend we are going from work events, to play-dates, to the grocery store, so looks like another whirlwind of fun (and snacks) is in store!

This post is sponsored by Annie’s, a brand we have loved for many years.

#VeggieSwap with Green Giant!

As with many 5-year-olds, dinner time is a struggle in our house. Getting Iris to eat her vegetables (or any part of her meal at all) takes so much effort. I actually enjoy cooking dinner every night, but I find that when it’s finally time to sit down and enjoy dinner as a family, the work has just begun. Whether it’s telling Iris to eat something other than her bread or to eat “just three more bites,” we’re constantly having to make sure she’s getting her nutrients. Things changed a little bit this weekend though.

Green Giant has launched a new line of frozen veggies, including Riced Cauliflower & Sweet Potatoes, which is 100% made with vegetables. And not only is it gluten free, but it has 70% fewer calories than rice! I also love that it comes without any sauce or seasoning, so you can prepare then just the way you like.

Finding the new Green Giant veggie options next to the other frozen vegetables at my local Walmart, I grabbed the Riced Cauliflower and Sweet Potato mix to give it a try. After throwing a couple chicken breasts in the oven, I steamed the riced cauliflower and sweet potatoes in the microwave. So instead of serving the baked chicken with the standard rice, I was able to sneak in some (yummy!) veggies – and in no time at all.

To say Iris loved it is an understatement. I think the natural sweetness of the sweet potato made her an instant fan. I paired it with another new Green Giant product, Broccoli and Cheese Veggie Tots so she got a double whammy of easy, kid-friendly veggies. The end result? Iris had a “happy plate” not even realizing that she ate all of her vegetables. As a busy mom that wants to make sure my kid eats – and eats well – these will no doubt be staples in my freezer from here on out.

This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are my own.


Did you know that February 28 is National Tooth Fairy Day? This is more timely than ever in our house because Iris has her first loose tooth! Actually, she has two of them – the front two bottom teeth are getting wigglier by the day. Iris is beyond thrilled, while I can’t help but be a tad bit sentimental about my baby growing up so fast!

Iris has been going to the dentist every six months since she was about two and a half years old and thankfully she’s THE biggest fan of dentist visits… especially after her last report of no cavities and finding out that the Tooth Fairy will soon be visiting. I sat down and asked Iris a few questions about the Tooth Fairy and here’s what she had to say:

And not only is National Tooth Fairy Day coming up, but February is also National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). This year I’ve teamed up with Delta Dental of Arkansas, who is celebrating NCDHM by empowering parents like me with important information and myth busters to help protect our children’s smile and overall health. We started out making going to the dentist a fun, exciting experience and thankfully Iris still loves it. Even though we’ve been taking her for a while now, I was still surprised to learn a few new things myself about kids and dental care.

Here are some powerful stats from Delta Dental, along with some interesting Myth busters:

Each year, children miss an estimated 51 million hours of school because of dental-related illnesses, many of which are easily preventable.
Tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease of children aged six to eleven and adolescents twelve to nineteen years of age. In fact, according to a 2010 report from the Arkansas Department of Health, 64 percent of Arkansas students have evidence of current or past cavities, 29 percent had untreated cavities and 27 percent were in need of routine care.
Studies show that the earlier a child received regularly-scheduled, quality dental care, the less likely they will develop long term oral health illnesses.

Now that we know even more about protecting Iris’ oral health and how important it is, we keep brushing, flossing, and waiting for the Tooth Fairy (and maybe even a dollar bill).

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Delta Dental. The opinions and text are all mine.