HELLO
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.

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Category : Travel

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.

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:

TRAVEL LOVE: Oklahoma City

As mentioned on my previous post, I recently went to Oklahoma City for the very first time. There aren’t many cities left on my “to visit” list within close driving range, but for some reason I had never found my way past Tulsa on I-49. Thanks to the kind folks at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, we were able to #seeOKC through some fantastic local experiences. It’s always our mission on a family trip to make it fun for everyone – whether you’re a grown-up or a kid. That means Iris might go to a restaurant or brewery that we really want to try, but we’ll even it out by hitting up a fun spot like a park or zoo.

We drove in on a Friday night so that we could have a full Saturday to explore. So upon arrival on Friday our first priority was, naturally, food and drinks. Situated right next to our hotel, 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City, The Jones Assembly was exactly what we were looking for. A lot of folks recommended this spot, noting the atmosphere was very Insta-worthy, but that reservations were hard to come by. Thankfully a table opened up at the very last minute and we were able to wander over for dinner. The food was delish and the atmosphere was a perfect introduction to OKC – very lively with a huge open dinning area, an open-air hangout space to play baggo while we waited for our table, and a swanky bar upstairs. This place was massive – and massively cool.

After an amazing night’s sleep, we woke up and rolled downstairs to Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge for breakfast, fueling up for a jam-packed day. From there, we ventured off to the Oklahoma City Zoo, where we found lots of wooden paths, curved through trees taking us to the different animals. Iris insisted on riding the train, so we got in a little ride before we left in search of lunch.

Wanting pizza, we found ourselves at Hideaway Pizza where we stuffed our faces and tried a couple local beers. The restaurant was in a cute older part of town so we explored a couple of the local shops (Plenty Mercantile was my fave).

Needing a little rest before our next round of fun, we headed back to the hotel for a little relaxation. I mean, looking at our room, can you blame us? For dinner we made a last minute decision to hop in our hotel’s complimentary shuttle and head to a spot called The Bleu Garten. Quite a few folks on Instagram recommended it, so we decided to give it a try. Lined with food trucks, Bleu Garten was completely outdoors and featured a couple different bar areas along with quite a few yard games – kind of perfect for a family. Iris was able to run around and play while we leisurely ordered drinks and food. I opted for the Healthy Hippo food truck and had an amazing black bean burrito (I’ve since tried to recreate it at home to no avail), while Iris and Todd opted for BBQ (our girl LOVES herself some BBQ).

As the sun went down, we weren’t quite ready to call it a night. So instead of heading back to our home-base, we grabbed an Uber and headed over to Bricktown. Right next to a little river were tons of restaurants, shops, and even mini-golf, but our sights were set on one thing – the Bricktown Water Taxi. We already checked riding a train off our list that morning, and now Iris was ready to end the day with a nighttime boat ride. Talk about the perfect night cap!

On Sunday morning we were sad to say goodbye, but since the drive home to Fayetteville was less than four hours we still had time for a little last minute food and fun. I kept hearing about a place for breakfast called Waffle Champion, but after peeking at their Yelp page I saw that sometimes the line wraps around the block. A little nervous about a long wait, we decided to go for it anyway. Thankfully the line wasn’t crazy yet, but sure enough when we left the line was around the corner.

While Waffle Champion would have been a perfect way to end our weekend getaway to OKC, we had one more place to visit before we said goodbye. I kept hearing that Riversport Adventures was a must-see, so we went to check it out. As soon as we arrived I could tell this was a place where you could spend all day – there was a huge river where you could go white water rafting, another spot for zip lining, and an entire adventure area for kiddos. There were also some extreme slides, which I was too scared to do, but Iris jumped at the chance! While I would have liked to stay longer, it made for a perfect last stop because after jumping on the Cloud Bounce and doing the mini-zip line a million times, Iris napped nearly the whole. way. home.

Now THAT’s the perfect way to end a trip.

This post is in partnership with the Oklahoma City CVB, but all opinions are my own.

TRAVEL LOVE: 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City

I recently partnered with one of my most favorite hotel brands – 21c Museum Hotels. Earlier this year I fell in love when Iris and I stayed at the Bentonville, Arkansas property. With only seven locations (and a couple more in the works), their boutique hotels are one of a kind. Each one also serves as an art museum that is open 24/7 and is paired with an equally unique restaurant (we love The Hive in Bentonville).

I had never been to Oklahoma City before, so when I realized that 21c had a location there and that it was less than a 3.5 hour drive away from Fayetteville, we had to go. The drive was easy breezy – perfect for picking Iris up when school let out and rolling into town just in time for dinner. This allowed us to stay two nights, making it pretty much the perfect weekend getaway. I’ll share our OKC adventures on my next post, but for now I can’t stop drooling over this property! Our room alone was amazing – the insanely tall ceilings and natural light won me over as soon as we walked in the door.

As a family of three, they couldn’t have put us in a better room – our 1.5 bedroom suite had a king bed for Todd and I, and an adorable daybed for Iris in her own private area (hallelujah!). It’s rare to find something that works so perfectly for our size family, but this was the best set-up. The suite also included a living area, so when Iris inevitably woke up before us she could watch her cartoons and we could keep on snoozing (especially thanks to those blackout curtains).

So while we were tempted to just hang in our room all weekend, we did make our way to the lobby and museum area for a little exploration before a cocktail at the bar. Right outside our room was this amazing installation…

And while we waited for the elevator there was even more art to explore. We got a bit side-tracked and made a stop on each floor just to check out the different art features.

One of my most favorite pieces was right next to check-in. And my second favorite place, naturally, was the lounge area at Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge . Seriously everywhere you turn (even the bathroom), there is art!

After a stop at, once again, Mary Eddy’s and lots of exploring OKC on Saturday, coming back to our “home base” was nothing short of awesome. Iris was pumped to find that our purple penguin had moved in our room. She remembered the green ones in Bentonville (people move around these huge guys and you never know where you might find one). And Todd was excited to find a great local beer selection in the mini bar fridge. I was impressed with the prices! Usually mini bar items are so high I never partake, but they know what they’re doing because we had a little bit of everything.

So after a night cap and a night bath (I mean, look at that tub!), we were super sad to wave goodbye to our hotel on Sunday morning. Thankfully though we now know just how easy of a road trip it is, so we will for sure be back soon! Thank you 21c for once again an amazing stay!

I Still Love You New York

Ever since I was a kid, I always dreamed of growing up and moving to New York City. I’ve probably been at least eight or so times, with my first ever visit as a child on a family vacation. All I remember about that trip, which was in the mid-1980s, was that there was a ton of garbage on the streets but I attribute that to being small and closer to the ground. My next trip was with school in the sixth grade – by bus all the way from Memphis, Tennessee. While that sounds like misery to me now, back then it was the biggest, most exciting adventure. Once we actually arrived, we stayed in a crappy hotel in New Jersey and then were bussed in during the day to do a little sightseeing and so that our teachers could do a lot of shopping. So my first couple of visits weren’t that great, but as I got older, I ended up with better experiences and more appreciation for the city.

I just got back from a four-night stay for work and I’m able to report that my love for New York is still the same. The smells (for better or worse), the people watching, the parks, the food, the hustle and bustle. I love it all. I still wouldn’t mind living there, but now my requirements include having millions of dollars, as I want to live the heart of it all. Until then, I’ll appreciate our home in Arkansas, which now looks even bigger and the grass looks even greener than before I left.

I wanted to share not only a few photos from my trip, but also the places I ended up eating. I received a ton of great suggestions on Instagram and was able to hit up a few of them. Here’s where I ate that I loved: Quality Meats, Jack’s Wife Freda, Rock Center Cafe, & Trattoria Dell’Arte. Now on the the photos!