#SpringItOn At Gaylord Palms

This past weekend, Gaylord Palms Resort invited my family and me to stay at their hotel and experience their Once Upon A Spring Event. This event will get you in the mood for tulips and chocolate bunnies; between the cookie decorating, scavenger hunts, and water park, we had the best weekend ever!

Gaylord Palms is situated outside of Orlando in Kissimmee, Florida, and is located very close to Walt Disney World (seriously, minutes away). Gaylord Palms is large and opulent, but from the road, you can’t tell what’s waiting for you inside. The moment you step through their massive revolving front door, you feel like you are in another place altogether. Just past the lobby, you will find yourself in an expansive atrium full of plants and animals; it’s truly magical and the perfect vacation destination.

Gaylord follows Marriott’s Commitment to Clean Standards, and I found the hotel to be clean and safe. Masks are required by anyone two and older while outside of their hotel rooms, hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the resort, social distancing measures are in place, and we found hand sanitizer and wipes in our room.

We arrived on Friday and immediately wanted to explore. My husband has never been to a Gaylord Resort before, and I think I heard an audible gasp when he opened our balcony door. The gardens inside the atrium of Gaylord Palms are lush and feature four areas: Key West, St. Augustine, Emerald Plaza, and the Everglades. There is even a boat, a restaurant called MOOR, inside of the hotel! We stayed in St. Augustine and had the perfect view of the atrium and, at night, the Springtime Light Display (more on that later). 

My daughter was anxious to get a closer view of the atrium, so we headed downstairs to check it out.

During Once Upon A Spring, you will find the Eggspression Garden located in the middle of the atrium. This walkthrough experience full of oversized eggs and larger-than-life chocolate Easter Bunnies will get you in the mood for spring. Brooklyn loved this area, and we walked through it multiple times during our stay. We also participated in the Bunny Scavenger Hunt, which had us searching for Easter Bunnies throughout the resort! These activities helped give us a lay of the land and were a great way to kick off our trip.

As the evening turned into night, we put Brooklyn down for bed and headed out to our atrium facing balcony, where we were able to watch the Springtime Light Display. You can’t see the LED screens that hang from the St. Augustine Atrium ceiling during the day, but at night they come alive with flowers, bunnies, and all things spring. My husband and I really enjoyed sitting on our balcony and watching the lights. 

On Saturday morning, we decided to have breakfast at Villa De Flora.

This newly renovated restaurant offered a breakfast buffet (where your food is served to you) and an opportunity to dine with the Easter Bunny! During our breakfast, we met the King of Easter, who kept Brooklyn laughing throughout our meal. There was a large variety of food at the buffet, and everything we tried was excellent.

After breakfast, we headed straight to Cypress Springs Water Park, and it did NOT disappoint. Honestly, I could write an entire post about how wonderful the water park at Gaylord Palms is, but I’ll leave it at this; my husband and I both agreed it is a place we will definitely have to visit again.

While we were there, Crystal River Rapids opened, and we were some of the first to experience it! This not-so-lazy river is perfect for everyone in the family, and we had an absolute blast. When we finally got my daughter out of the river, she and my husband enjoyed the zero-entry pool, and I was able to enjoy a drink poolside. I also caught a glimpse of the Springtime Pool Party (during the weekend from 12-4pm), full of games, dancing, and prizes. 

The only way we could get Brooklyn away from the water park was with promises of Cookie Decorating. We changed into some dry closed and walked to Old Hickory, located in the Everglades (I think Everglades is my favorite section of the hotel!). Once we arrived, we decorated our own Easter Egg cookie, AND we got to meet the Easter Bunny.

After a quick afternoon nap (that water park wears you out), we enjoyed an evening production of Paint Me A Fairytale. This precious show is narrated by Mother Goose and tells the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, and Jack and the Beanstock and was the perfect way to end our Gaylord Palms stay. Once the production was over, Brooklyn was given a set of watercolors and a watercolor book depicting the show. This show runs daily during the weekend at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm and you can purchase tickets in advance. 

If you think that the Gaylord Palms is “just another hotel outside of Disney World,” you would be completely wrong! This resort is a destination within itself, and we had such a magical weekend experiencing everything that it has to offer. Between the whimsical springtime activities, delicious restaurants, and incredible water park, I am already trying to convince my husband that we need another trip back to Gaylord Palms soon.

You can enjoy Gaylord Palm’s Once Upon A Spring Event from now until May 16!

Sending love and magic.

Gideon’s Bakehouse at Disney Springs

Gideon’s Bakehouse is a local Orlando bakery that initially opened in 2016 at the East End Market. Although many Orlando locals have been familiar with their award-winning cookies, I was unaware that these delicious treats existed until a couple of years ago. In 2018, The Polite Pig (an incredible quick service barbecue restaurant at Disney Springs) started selling Gideon’s Bakehouse Original Chocolate Chip Cookies at their register. These cookies would sell out daily, but on one of my trips, I was able to grab one. It was the most delicious cookie I have ever had, and I was hooked.

After trying my first Gideon’s cookie, I was obsessed. So you can imagine my excitement when Disney Springs announced that a Gideon’s Bakehouse flagship store would be coming to The Landing. A little over a month ago, Gideon’s Bakehouse opened at Disney Springs, and with wait times that can be over three hours, you could say that it’s a pretty popular spot. I was lucky enough to try Gideon’s for myself, and it did not disappoint.

We arrived at Disney Springs on a Saturday afternoon, and the line for Gideon’s was already so long. At the end of the line, I spoke with a Gideon’s employee who explained that we would first need to check into the virtual queue (a different line altogether) to get in line. I waited in the virtual queue check in, which took about 5 minutes, and when I got to the front of the line, I gave the employee my name and phone number. They quoted the wait to be about three and a half hours and said I would receive a text message when it was my turn.

With three and a half hours to kill, my husband and I decided to leave Disney Springs altogether. We drove around, grabbed some coffee, and shopped before we returned to Disney Springs. Three and a half hours later, I received the text message that it was time to get in the Gideon’s line! Once I checked in to the line, I was told that the wait would be about 15-30 minutes.

There were about six groups in front of us in line, and before we knew it, it was our turn. Before going inside Gideon’s Bakehouse, we were greeted by Steve, the owner of Gideon’s. He was standing outside greeting every single party in line, talking to everyone, and sharing his story. It was such a cool touch! After our chat with Steve, we headed inside to get our treats.

Gideon’s Bakehouse is set inside of an old bookstore; it is beautiful, spooky, and whimsical all at the same time. The walls are lined with books and pictures, and the smells inside will take you to another place. The bakery itself is relatively small, only holding about five parties at a time, but the employees were accommodating and friendly (getting guests in and out as quickly as possible).

There are a few display cases around to help give you an idea of what you want, but there are also rotating items and secret menu items that aren’t on display. You will also find a drink menu with some crazy delicious drinks on it (peanut butter cold brew, anyone?).

We decided to order the Original Chocolate Chip Cookie, Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie, Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie, Red Velvet Cake, Peanut Butter Cold Brew, and Classic White Cold Brew. Full disclosure, each of their cookies weighs almost half a pound, and we didn’t even come close to finishing everything that we ordered.

After exiting the store, we found a bench to sit on and enjoy our snacks and quickly found that each cookie is just as delicious as we imagined.

The Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie was almost like a brownie (and very rich).

The Original Chocolate Chip Cookie was just as good as I remember from the Polite Pig (basically the best chocolate chip cookie you’ll ever have).

The Pistachio Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie was sweet and salty (my favorite).

We also enjoyed the Red Velvet Cake as it wasn’t overly sweet, and the cream cheese frosting was incredible. Both of our cold brew drinks were amazing and the perfect complement to our treats.

Overall, we were so impressed with the story of Gideon’s and their amazing sweet treats. There are so many other menu items that we want to try from Gideon’s, and I can’t wait to go back. We learned that to get into Gideon’s, the best thing to do is to get in the virtual queue as early as possible. The virtual queue wait times seem pretty accurate, so try to be back at Disney Springs around your quoted time if you leave. Waiting 3 1/2 hours to get a cookie might seem a little crazy, but it was definitely worth it.

Sending love and magic.

The Stair Barrier Review

When we bought our house almost two years ago, the thing that I fell in love with was the curved staircase. When you walk into our home, the first thing you see is the stairs, and they feel so grand and beautiful. My daughter was five months old when we bought our house, and to be honest, I didn’t even consider what stairs would be like once she got older. But as my daughter has grown, I have realized how stressful stairs can be with a toddler.

As an independent two-year-old, my daughter could spend hours climbing up and down the stairs. She “knows” that she only goes on the stairs with an adult, but if I take my eyes off of her for a second, she usually heads straight to the staircase. As she’s gotten more mobile, I have concluded that we had to do SOMETHING to prevent her from trying to climb the stairs without supervision.

For the past few months, my husband and I have tried all sorts of gates for our staircase, but we ran into two issues. The first issue is that, because we don’t have any walls at the bottom of our stairs, the gates we found didn’t fit correctly. The other problem we found is that nothing looked good on our staircase and, because it’s the first thing you see when you walk into our house, that was a problem for me. I wanted to find something that would keep our daughter safe, but would also look beautiful.

I searched high and low for something that would work, and then I ran across The Stair Barrier. The Stair Barrier is a fabric stair gate that can be custom made to fit any staircase. From what I read online before receiving my gate, it can be installed in minutes, it looks beautiful, and it is the ONLY gate on the market designed for installation on banisters. But honestly, I was skeptical; it seemed a little too good to be true. Luckily, The Better Options Company sent me a complimentary Stair Barrier to try out and review, and I am so happy that they did!

When The Stair Barrier arrived, I was first taken aback by the incredible quality and the beautiful fabric. I guess I was expecting something flimsy, but it is so well made. I skimmed through the directions, which seemed easy enough to follow, and six clicks later, The Stair Barrier was installed.

Once it was up, the first thing I wanted to try out was how it rolled up. The directions explain that you unhook one side of the barrier and carefully roll it inward so that it stands up on one side of the stairs. “Yeah, right,” I thought; there was no way that my rolled barrier would look like the picture, and shockingly, it did! Once The Stair Barrier is rolled up, it stays up and takes up very little room, so you can easily walk up the stairs.

Now, the real test of The Stair Barrier was my toddler. I let her look at it and then held my breath, waiting for her to maneuver around and find her way up the stairs. As soon as she saw The Stair Barrier, her first instinct was to try to climb on it (of course), but after a few minutes, she left it alone and went on with her day. The Stair Barrier almost hides the stairs from her point of view and has done a great job keeping her off the stairs and giving me complete peace of mind.

Bottom line? After a couple of days of having The Stair Barrier up, we are so impressed! The quality is impeccable, the fabric is beautiful (I went with “Farmhouse Black Lines,” but there are so many fabric options), and it safely keeps our toddler off the stairs. I also really love that it hasn’t caused any damage to our staircase and can be removed entirely and easily stored in a matter of seconds. The Stair Barrier is now the first thing you see when you walk into our home, and I am completely okay with that! If you are looking for a stylish way to keep little ones or pets off your stairs, I cannot recommend The Stair Barrier enough.

Sending love and magic.