Spy-Themed Restaurant?  SAFEHOUSE!

Spy-Themed Restaurant? SAFEHOUSE!

On our last night in Chicago, we were treated to a wonderful experience at a restaurant called The SafeHouse.  This is the second location for this spy-themed restaurant (the first being in Milwaukee) but I could definitely see it growing.  In fact, during dinner, we mentioned several times that this would be a huge hit in the Orlando area. Your first challenge is finding the restaurant.  There is an address, but there isn’t a big splashy entrance like you’ll find at most restaurants.  In fact, the only clues are a small plaque and a few signs – on a busy street like this one in Chicago, you have to look carefully or you’ll miss it! Open the door to find a simple reception room.  The receptionist asks who you are there to see.  If you know the password, you’ll be let right in.  Don’t worry if you don’t know the password though – you’ll just have to do something to gain access and prove you aren’t a double-agent.  If your kids are with you, ham it up – they’ll love it. The restaurant is really amazing.  Once seated, you’ll be greeted by your special agent and asked to make your own special agent nametags – which you are now known as … Our agent – Agent Mardi Gras was as fun as her name implies and she didn’t let us off the hook at all.  We had a variety of fun challenges throughout the meal that we had to complete.  Being a competitive family, we relished the chance to try to beat each other to the answers, solve the...
Try Something New – Live Shows

Try Something New – Live Shows

The lights flash, everyone around us begins to quiet down.  All eyes are on the stage.  The orchestra fires up.  The show is about to begin. How I love live theatre! Unlike a movie, live theatre feels more like an “event”.  Something special.  It takes a lot of people and tons of talent to put on a live show.  We are lucky to live in a world where talented people can entertain us while doing something they love.  Here are my favorite tips for adding live theatre to your life: Find a performance that interests you.  If you live near any decent sized city, college or university, I guarantee there are many options available year round.  Google “your city live theatre” and see what you find.  Take a look at the upcoming shows and give something a try – you never know if you’ll enjoy it until you go – and even if you were to hate the show, it might make for a good story later.  Live in a small town?  How about adding an evening of theatre to your next vacation plans?  That will make for a fun vacation memory! Create a plan.  Decide how much you enjoy live theatre (after trying out a show or two) and put the necessary amount into your budget.  Sometimes buying tickets ahead of time can save you money.  Or, it might be less expensive to purchase season tickets.  I like doing that because then I KNOW I’ll go – it gives me 5 or 6 guaranteed fun nights out for the year. Can’t afford it?  There are options.  Volunteering is...
No Vacation In Sight?

No Vacation In Sight?

Summer is in full swing, and many of us have exciting vacations planned.  But what if you don’t?  Or you just got back from your vacation and don’t have another one in the works?   What to do when you need that “I’m on vacation” feeling? I say fake it. Nope, you probably can’t just take off and go somewhere (if you can, I’m envious!), but you CAN change your mindset – at least for a few hours. Take a look around town (or Yelp) for a fun, local restaurant that has outdoor seating.  A water view is ideal, but at least find something with good people watching.  If you are lucky enough to score someplace with live music that’s a real bonus.  Another fun option would be a local winery or brewery that offers appetizers or charcuterie. Order yourself a fancy cocktail or glass of wine and a few appetizers – preferably something fancy.  Now, pretend you are off on an amazing vacation.  Don’t think about what you “should” be doing the rest of the night – tonight is all about vacation time and vacations don’t have to-do lists.  After dinner, stroll leisurely through a nearby town or neighborhood.  Have fun conversations about where you’d like to go, what you’d like to see in the next year. Is it a real vacation?  Not even close, but it’s amazing how a little break in the ordinary and experiencing the types of things you’d do on a vacation can help you feel a little more carefree and relaxed.   Just like a good vacation. What do you do when you don’t have...

Things I love – Weekly Breakfast Date

Have you ever started something for fun and it quickly became a long-standing tradition?  I love it when that happens! Years ago, my daughter’s birthday fell on a school day.  To make it special, I had her invite her two friends (neighbors) to breakfast before school.  I bought donuts at the grocery and we stopped at our local coffee shop for hot chocolates.  It was fun and a special way to start the day. Next birthday I had the same request. After that visit, it dawned on me that we could be having a fun breakfast before school more often.  “Coffee Shop Day” was born.  Once a week I’d wake the kids up twenty minutes earlier and tell them it was coffee shop day.  It was always a fabulous way to start the day and a terrific break in a busy week. After a few years of this, my daughter moved on to middle school and a much earlier start time.  Coffee shop day with her had to end.  My son was still in elementary so we started branching out.  Now we rotate between three different restaurants (two of them are local!) once a week before school. Early morning breakfasts have been a fun way to connect, spend quality time together and slow down even in the midst of the school year. What fun traditions have you created by accident?  I’d love to hear all about them in the comments, so please...
Up for a FREE meal?

Up for a FREE meal?

Who doesn’t love getting something for free?  Especially a meal at a nice restaurant, a hotel room or an afternoon of bowling.  Thanks to the years I’ve been mystery shopping, those are a regular part of our lives. In just the last month, I’ve had a breakfast date with my hubby ($42), went bowling and played laser tag with the kids ($115), had pizza and beer for lunch over Spring Break ($50) and got a carry-out lunch at a national chain restaurant ($35).  This is just me doing a shop or two here and there.  If I had the time I could do so much more.  I started mystery shopping almost twenty-five years ago when the company I was working for closed it’s doors and I was out of a job.  I started doing a few dinner shops a month so we could still enjoy a nice meal out without spending money we didn’t have!  Now I just do it for fun, to stretch our entertainment dollars and to force myself out of my routine and try new things. It would be challenging to make a full-time living mystery shopping; most shops don’t pay much outside of reimbursement, but for cutting costs or adding extras to your life, it’s a great part-time gig.  It is important to undersand that once you conduct the shop, you will have to come home and fill out an online form (sometimes within 12-hours of doing the shop), upload some pictures and be available for the next few days for questions.  At first, it would take me an hour or so to fill out...

Early Mornings Make Me Happy

That first sip of hot coffee, a cuddly blanket with a warm kitty curled up at my feet.  Add in my current reading material, and THAT is the perfect way to start my day.  Once I have a few moments of easing into the day in that manner, I am ready to do some yoga or pilates, work on a personal project and get ready with plenty of time to spare. How I love a great start to the day. Getting up early to enable such a perfect morning routine is a struggle for me, but the days I am successful are ALWAYS better days.  I’m more productive, less stressed and just plain enjoy life more. And since enjoying life and creating a healthier and happier life is exactly what I promote here, I thought I’d share one of my favorite resources to help you create a better start to YOUR day: I’ve taken the online course myself and gleaned quite a bit of useful information.  This time around, Crystal is doing a live version – for extra motivation.  The class starts April 9th and registration ends then, so if you think you need a little push in improving YOUR mornings, sign up soon!  I’ll be participating and I’d love to have you join me!  Go check it out HERE. What makes up the perfect morning for you?  I’d love for you to share in the comments!...

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