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.


Post-Christmas Blues

Well, the Christmas music has stopped and the pine needles from our tree have nearly all dropped. Christmas is over. After what seems like months of preparation, we pulled off another lovely holiday and now I think we are in a bit of shock now that it is all over. And by we, I mean myself and Iris. Todd is back in the office, but with another several days off of work I kind of don’t know what to do. I find myself wanting to finally relax and do nothing, but then I see all the things that need to get done that I never have time to do. Blogging, closet organizing, errand running, working out. The list goes on. As for Iris, she’s experiencing Christmas break for the first time – two and a half weeks of no school. Overall we’re navigating it pretty well, but there have been some overtired, emotional times.

All of that to say, we Christmas-ed so hard that I do feel a bit relieved it’s done for another year. I’m ready to start a new year, with new goals. We’re finishing off 2017 by staying in a cabin with a couple other families. It’s going to be absolutely freezing, but thankfully there’s a cozy fireplace, good company, and I’ll of course bring the wine.

Here’s to 2018!

Holiday Sparkle Spritzer Recipe #SimplyHolidaysAtSams

This post is sponsored by SheSpeaks, Inc. and the Simply Orange Juice Company.

If you have spent any time with me at all (or followed me for a mere second on Instagram), you know that I am a lover of wine. Red wine in particular. While it’s especially cozy to drink red in the winter months, it’s never my top-choice for a drink during daylight hours. A bit heavy and bold, red wine is always more of an evening indulgence for me. So finally last summer I found my favorite go-to day drink: wine spritzers. Light, fresh, and a bit toned down in the alcohol department, wine spritzers are perfect for parties on hot summer afternoons or to sip pool-side. But now that it’s winter, I’ve put my own holiday spin on my daytime favorite. My secret has always been to add the best tasting lemonade in conjunction with the sparkling water, so partnering with Simply® Lemonade at Sam’s Club was a natural fit. With 100% juices and juice drinks, Simply Beverages™ are deliciously simple and easy to find in the refrigerated section of your local Sam’s Club.

We’re hosting Christmas at our house again this year (one of my most favorite things to do, ever), so instead of your typical mimosas, the Holiday Sparkle Spritzer will be on the menu (you’re welcome, family!). I typically set up a little bar area, where it’s easy for me to mix up a quick drink for serving and so that guests feel welcome to help themselves. Purchasing the Simply Lemonade®, I know that I’ll have enough to last all day. And of course every holiday drink needs to be served with snacks, so I also picked up Member’s Mark Nuts to keep in bowls around the house. We usually eat our big holiday meal later in the day, so this helps keep people satisfied during the Christmas chaos leading up to the feast.

This recipe is as simple as it is festive – after pouring the Simply Lemonade®, sparkling water, and of course the wine – you just top it with pomegranate seeds and sliced lime! Personally I prefer rosé in my spritzers, but any chilled white will do. Scroll down for the full recipe details!

Holiday Sparkle Spritzer Recipe
Fill glass with ice (I prefer crushed)
1/3 glass of Simply Lemonade®
1/3 glass of chilled rosé
1/3 glass of chilled sparkling water or club soda
1 tablespoon of pomegranate seeds
1 squeeze of lime, with an additional slice for flare

And there you have it – a simple holiday spin on a classic cocktail!

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: