SEMA 2017 : Kia Stinger Style

SEMA 2017 Kia Stinger StyleYou know the reaction that most people have if you ask them about going to Disneyland? That’s the same reaction I had when Kia asked me to attend SEMA with them for the unveiling of TWO custom designed Stingers. Not only would I have the opportunity to see them I would have the opportunity to actually get behind the wheel myself AND do a little drifting with a professional driver. This is what automotive dreams are made of y’all. I was 100% all in.

SEMA IS my Disneyland. Growing up in the Midwest, our small family of four took a lot of day trips and even more long Sunday drives than I could ever count but we took only one true family vacation together. A single day at Disneyland and a single day at Knott’s Berry Farm, saddled next to an automotive conference for my father’s business. To this day I can still recall how the excitement over what would be revealed at the show was built up with slightly more enthusiasm than the visit to Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Curiosity Keeps Leading Us Down New Paths

Whether your heart dreams of magic castles or the magic that can be found in a paint booth, the common ground these two venues, companies, creators, and attendees all have is best summed up by this quote from Walt Disney himself:

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

It’s this curiosity that binds us together. The curiosity to build something better. Something faster. Something more compelling that connects the story of creator and consumer. Each year the companies and creatives work around the clock, creating something spectacular to reveal. Each year SEMA draws a crowd bigger than the last curious to see whats been done whats been created.  In this world it is where the artists and dreamers really shine and since there’s simply no city that shines brighter than Las Vegas, here we are.

SEMA Kia Stinger Style

Kia  has been working relentlessly to elevate their design and product for years. In a sense the Stinger is the embodiment of that vision before us. It’s a monumental offering to add to the brand’s line up. So they weren’t playing when they partnered with West Coast Customs to bring an amazing amount of style to this years SEMA show.

SEMA Kia Stinger GT wide body rear plate

 

Kia Stinger GT Federation

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation front view

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation front

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Federation rear

Kia unveiled the Stinger GT Federation in a color aptly coined “Performance Orange”. It is a uniquely modified Stinger outfitted with parts and accessories from leading aftermarket suppliers. The Stinger GT Federation reveal followed the announcement celebrating the offering of high-performance aftermarket parts available for purchase in conjunction with the Stinger launch. The exterior body accent kits include a rear spoiler, rear diffuser and redesigned hood vent. A K&N cold-air intake and a low-restriction quad-tipped Borla exhaust help the Stinger breathe more freely and are designed to pump an additional 15 horsepower through the twin-turbo 3.3-liter engine, bringing the vehicle’s horsepower to an estimated 3806. Eibach springs, thicker antiroll bars and a reduced ride height aim to offer a more spirited driving experience, while aggressive staggered 20-inch TSW wheels shod with Falken tires round out the Stinger GT Federation’s visual and technical achievements.

Kia Stinger GT Wide Body

SEMA Kia Stinger GT wide body West Coast customs

SEMA Kia Stinger GT Wide Body interior

The Stinger GT Wide Body is a specially modified work of art by legendary West Coast Customs. Unveiled in beautiful pearl metallic blue took the Stinger GT to a whole new level of stunning. “Taking inspiration from the racing GT cars of the 1970s, this modern interpretation seamlessly blends tire accommodating wide fenders with the Stinger’s already narrow waist. Riding on a suspension that’s been lowered 1.4-inches up front and 1.2-inches in the rear, the Stinger GT Wide Body rides on 21-inch Keen forged wheels wrapped with high-performance tires. A lightweight carbon fiber aero kit and rear diffuser will keep the Stinger firmly planted at high-speed, while the quad-port exhaust tips proclaim that this is no typical sports machine. Inside the driver-centric cockpit, the Stinger GT Wide Body includes custom blue leather seat piping, a distinct hand-stitched gray leather dash panel, alcantara-wrapped steering wheel as well as gloss black center console trim.”

Drifting in the Kia Stinger

SEMA 2017 Kia Stinger Style

At this point, no one could deny that this is a pretty car. It’s designed and crafted to be more than just looks though. Honestly, to comment on the aesthetics alone would be slightly insulting but if we’re really being honest there are those who are still trying to reconcile the name badge with the performance level that this car is touting. Maybe that’s fair… we all have to prove ourselves from time to time and when you are confident in your abilities it’s fun to show off a little too.

The opportunity for Kia to show what the Stinger is capable of came just outside the convention center floor. In the Gold Lot outside, Kia provided an exclusive opportunity for us to get behind the wheel for ourselves and do a little drifting with a professional driver in the all-new Kia Stinger. Words alone just cant do it justice. Here’s a few video clips of our experience:

It was truly an incredible Vegas experience and my ride in the Stinger was definitely faster than the Dumbo ride at Disneyland. I had a few more foodie adventures and an evening with Sir Elton while I was in Vegas that I want to share with you soon. Before that I’ll be heading out to Hollywood to spend a little more quality time with the Stinger and see how it handles on the streets of California. Stay Tuned I have so many stories to share with you.

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. My host for this adventure was Kia Motors America as part of the #StingerExperience #KiaSEMA

 

Where to Stay and Play on South Padre Island

South Padre Island Texas WelcomeBeautiful South Padre Island has a known reputation for the influx it receives during a couple busy Spring Break weeks in March. If that’s the only thing that comes to mind when you hear South Padre, I’d suggest you think again! It is a WONDERFUL getaway for families too! During the rest of the year, South Padre Island is a relaxing oasis that rivals the best beach towns in America. This summer our family was invited to experience this Texas island as a family and we’ve got the best recommendations for a getaway you’ll never forget.

*We believe in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by the South Padre Island CVB in partnership with Texas Travel Talk. As is common in the travel industry, our family was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. As always we only provide opinions, recommendations, and experiences that are 100% authentic and our own.  

Where to Stay on South Padre Island

Pool at the Sapphire South Padre Island

One of the things I love most about staying on South Padre Island is that there are a wide range of available properties to fit every accommodation preference and budget. I can assure you that there is not a bad view anywhere on the island but if luxury accommodations are what you are looking for (you KNOW this is what our family enjoys most!), I highly recommend booking at the Sapphire through Coastal Lifestyles Luxury Rentals. The Sapphire has two private pools and rows of private cabanas to enjoy a beautiful day poolside.

Sapphire pools South Padre island

Beautiful lush landscape leads you to the beach boardwalk and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico just steps away from the pool cabanas. If you like to pool hop, staying at the Sapphire also allows you access to the neighboring Pearl pools and facilities as well. After spending a little time in the sun you can indulge yourself in luxury with amazing massages, refreshing facials, relaxing manicures and pedicures at the Sapphire Spa.

Sapphire Spa South padre island

Your teens can enjoy a space all to themselves in the Teen Game Room to enjoy some shuffleboard, pinball, pool and foosball! All fun and games here at Sapphire South Padre! At the end of the night, when you want to wind down as a family there is a private movie theater that let’s YOU choose the movie from a lonnnnng list of new releases. Just schedule the movie of your choosing with the front desk and it’s all yours!! This was one of our family’s favorite amenities.

Private Movie Room Sapphire South Padre island

Where To Play on South Padre Island

There is so much to do on the island you might have a tough time choosing exactly what to do first. We spent a very full weekend here and STILL didn’t have enough time to fit every thing in that we wanted to do. That gives us plenty of reason to plan a second (and third) trip back! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything that the island has to offer.

-Get up early and watch the sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise Sapphire South Padre Island

Build Sandcastles with the Experts!  Who else is fascinated with the elaborate sandcastles you’ve seen on the beach? I am always enamored with them. As it turns out, the experts are available and willing to teach you and your crew a few simple techniques to make you a master architect of sand as well. Several members of our group had the opportunity to meet on the sand to get an in-person lesson. This will be one of our “bucket list” items for our next beach trip!

Sandcastle building South padre island

-Get out on the water in a kayak, jetski, water bike or stand up paddle board!

If your body is a little water logged from being IN the water, you can still have fun ON the water. Even if your family has never kayaked before South Padre Island truly is the perfect place to learn. Of course you’ll all be wearing life-vests but the water surrounding the island in most places is only four feet deep. This means even if you are a little apprehensive about your stability on the water, and worst case scenario you do tip, all you need to do is stand up.

ProTip: Be prepared for the hyper-salinity (extra salty) of the water here. If it gets in your eyes it may be a bit more noticeable than average salt water.

Kayaking on South padre island

-Take a Eco-Sea life cruise while Dolphin watching or go on a pirate adventure on the Black Dragon with Osprey cruises

Pirates Pier Port Isabel

We arrived on a Friday night just in time for the evening pirate show and cruise on the Black Dragon. Drinks and snacks are available on the deck and aboard the ship. This cruise is IDEAL for families with young children.

Black Dragon Sign

The Black Dragon cruise is super interactive and the crew is just incredible with families! You’ll be on board to catch a beautiful sunset over the water and if you are there on a Friday or Saturday you’ll also get to watch the fireworks!

On Saturday, we took the 2 pm Dolphin watch cruise and we saw one of the most active dolphin pods I’ve ever seen!  This was a perfect time of day to be out on the ship too.

Osprey Cruises Chase Family South Padre Island

The ocean breezes kept us cool and there was plenty of shade on the deck to ensure we wouldn’t get too much direct sun. While sightseeing, you’ll also learn about the local wildlife and ecology of the Laguna Madre. The crew will use a trawling net to bring sea life directly to you onboard the ship and return it safely back into the eco-system.

Eco Tour Osprey Cruises Starfish South Padre Island

-Go Birdwatching at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The birding center is fascinating and people come from all over the world just to see the birds that migrate here.

Swim the Day Away Remember the two awesome pools I mentioned at Sapphire? AND at the Pearl? Almost every resort or condo has great pool access to enjoy splashing the day away. Be sure to take enjoy some pool time while you are here!

Swimming at Sapphire South Padre Island

-Enjoy a fun filled day at Schlitterbahn South Padre

“Experience the best the Gulf Coast has to offer… a 25-acre paradise and the most popular waterpark in the Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy nearly two dozen world-class attractions, roar down 13 amazing indoor and outdoor water slides, or float one of the multiple river systems. The resort includes lodging, great Gulf beaches, fantastic dining location options, and unlimited use of both the indoor and outdoor waterparks.”

Where To Eat on South Padre Island

Vegetarian foods at the Painted Marlin grille

Whether it’s prepping for the day or coming in from a full day of island activities, South Padre has you set for dining options for breakfast lunch or dinner. Two of our best recommendations are WindJammers Beachfront Cafe ( located inside the IslaGrand Beach Resort) and The Painted Marlin Grille. Both have spectacular views and casual attire is acceptable at either location. Remember to be laid back enjoying the views and atmosphere, even though you are in Texas this is island life!

Painted Marlin Grille

Painted marlin South Padre dining

 

Fish and Chips at the painted Marlin Grille South Padre Island

For more family fun and ways to explore South Padre Island head over to Visit South Padre for all the latest activities and fun on the island! Be sure to check out our Instagram for more photos of our trip to South Padre Island and for the latest in Texas travel follow @TXTravelTalk on twitter.

Have you visited South Padre Island? What was your favorite activity, accommodation, or memory? Share in the comments below!  

Working For Peanuts: From Field to Food #TXPeanutTour17

Texas peanut Tour 2017 Peanut Plant uncovered

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until a few weeks ago the extent of my peanut farming knowledge was what I learned of George Washington Carver in elementary school history lectures. Given that peanut butter is a staple on our weekly grocery list, I was excited to receive an invitation by the Texas Peanut Producers Board to come visit several cities in west Texas to meet with current peanut farmers, tour their fields and expand my knowledge of the peanut plant.

Texas is the second largest peanut-producing state in the nation. Texas farmers produce hundreds of millions of peanuts every year and ship them around our state, the country and the world. The Texas Peanut Producers Board was founded in 1969 and has worked tirelessly since then to support research programs, provide education, develop markets and promote what they believe are the best peanuts in the world.

Day 1 : Welcome To Lubbock!

Upon arriving to the Lubbock airport, I was greeted by the shuttle driver to the Overton Hotel  who was waiting out front. I highly recommend staying here if you are in the Lubbock area. It’s the first and only four star AAA rated hotel in west Texas.

overton hotel room

I arrived early in the day so I met up with a friend to do a little sightseeing. We had a fabulous time touring the city and even though my first thought was “What’s in Lubbock?” I can TOTALLY recommend everything we did. It’s worth the trip! I’ll link up with everything we did and an itinerary of what do in Lubbock in a future post here.

That evening we were treated to a fabulous three course dinner of peanut inspired dishes at Las Brisas Steakhouse crafted by Chef Matt Lopez.

Las Brisas Texas Peanut Tour menu

Texas Peanut Tour Las Brisas

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 las brisas Tacos

Texas Peanut Tour Las Brisas Entree

Day 2: Out in the Fields and Vineyards

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 in the field

This day began early with a drive out to meet with the farmers in the field. We met up with Mason Becker, a multi-generational peanut farmer and advocate for agriculture and farming through his work with the West Texas Young Farmers Association. First it was time to really get to know the peanut plant. Did you know peanuts grow underground? If I’m being honest this was the first time I had ever seen them pulled right out of the ground before.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Peanut Plant

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Virginia Peanuts

The variety you see above is the Virginia peanut. It’s one of the largest and most recognizable. Could you identify the 4 main types of peanuts? Well thanks to the Texas Peanut Board Tour, now I can. Here’s a chart so you’ll be up on your peanut name game too!

Types of Peanuts

 

Mason was open and honest with us about the current state of farming in America especially as it relates to peanut farming. We discussed the truths and myths of farming. He shared his personal story and what kind of commitment it takes to be out in the fields providing and nurturing the crops that will be harvested to stock store shelves. We learned just how important it is to support our local farmers and how difficult it can be to get into the business of farming. It takes a lot of financial backing, education and the ability to employ skilled workforce. As it turns out, finding labor with the skills required to farm in today’s fields isn’t as easy to come by as you may have thought.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 Mason Becker

“My first tractor cost 3x the amount of my first house. Most years you’re just trying to break even.” If you haven’t gotten out in a field where your food is being grown or talked to the people who grow it recently, I highly recommend it putting that on your list. I know for me it had been too long between visits. It will give you a great appreciation for what you choose to put on your plate and they’ll be glad you came.

Our time in the fields was incredibly insightful and Mason was great to answer any questions we had. I learned a lot but there was still more to see on the tour. Following the life of the peanut, our next stop on the tour was the Birdsong Shelling facility. After the peanut is planted, grown, and harvested it comes here.

Texas Peanut Tour 2017 BirdSong

We saw the storage facilities, that house millions of tons of unshelled peanuts and geared up to walk through the loud shelling facility. It’s quite a process! Some areas were very loud, some extremely cold, and others quite dusty from all the shelling that was happening. We also met with the employees in quality control. They are checking around 1 million pounds of peanuts a day! It was truly amazing to think this location in Brownsville, TX provides peanuts for a majority of the national brands you and I enjoy. If you’ve ever eaten a Mars or Hershey bar with peanuts chances are you’ve eaten a peanut from this facility.

Time to Wine Down : Trilogy Cellars

Uncork and and Unwind Trilogy Cellars

It had been full day of learning, working and touring. While almost everyone can appreciate a glass of wine midday this location was well thought out. You see, most wine makers and grape growers are also peanut farmers. Peanuts are a fantastic rotation crop because of the nutrients they put back into the soil. Lots of crops take from the soil but peanuts give back.

We were scheduled to enjoy an outdoor patio lunch at Trilogy vineyards catered by Farm to Fork Gastro Truck. This is not your typical street foods. Farm to Fork is gourmet street food utilizing local sustainable ingredients. The Farm to Fork experience is crafted by Chef Antonio Pina and supplied by Pereira pastures dairy. They are all about supporting local farmers.

Farm to Fork Lunch

Korean Fried Chicken Farm To Fork

Trilogy Cellars

While we dined under the warm Texas sunshine and sipped on the wine that grew on the vines just feet away from us, Steve Newsome and Chace Hill retold the story of how Trilogy came to be. Trilogy Cellars, located in Levelland, Texas, is a family owned winery. In short Trilogy is three families, three vineyards united in one vision. That vision is more than just making great wine but after a tasting its easy to tell they excel at their craft. Each glass poured easily rivaled Napa. I joined the wine club on the spot. It was that good.

There is just something about hearing the stories of a person’s life and passion over a glass of wine. It was an honor to be there that day and even more so to have the opportunity to visit the vineyards right outside Steve’s personal home.

Trilogy vineyard tour

Grape growing 101 Texas Peanut Tour 2017

Grapes on the vine Trilogy Cellars

After visiting the fields, vineyards and dining establishments of West Texas it was time to return home. I had a wonderful visit and left with an open invitation to come back any time. Lubbock has given itself the moniker of “the friendliest city in Texas” and I think I’d have to agree. Everyone was incredibly welcoming. I’ll be sure to plan a trip back soon. Until then I won’t pick up a jar of peanut butter without thinking of the time spent here. I definitely won’t ever take for granted the farmers who work so diligently to produce these crops.

Making School Uniforms Uniquely Their Own

Bummed about school uniforms this year? In collaboration with JCPenney, Kaitlyn & Sebastian took a unique shopping trip to prove there are plenty of options to style original back-to-school uniform looks WITHOUT breaking any rules. Back to School Uniform looks JCPENNEY accessories

I was a little worried this year might be a challenging one. Not because we will officially have two tweens in middle school but because this is the year we are starting over. Starting completely from scratch in a new city, new campus, making all new friends, and new uniforms. We’re the kind of parents that have always allowed our children their own personal style and expression. While this wouldn’t be the first school for our children to have worn uniforms, it was the first time they would have flexibility in what styles of uniform they could wear. In an effort to make uniform shopping lighthearted and fun we took a Friday afternoon and headed over to JCPenney. We gave each child a budget and reviewed the parameters of their new school dress code carefully before letting them shop. They were actually excited to pick out school uniforms!!!

I have to tell you, we REALLY did have a lot of fun together and I was pretty impressed with the unique uniform choices they came up with. They also have a few tips for making a school uniform look your very own without breaking the rules. Their number one school tips for styling your school uniform is to accessorize! Backpacks, jackets, and shoes are all great ways to make a look your own. Switching it up from ballet flats to sneakers can completely change a look. Read on for a few more tips and examples of how Kaitlyn and Sebastian styled beyond the basic uniform and each developed unique looks they loved.

Back To School Uniform Looks For Girls at JCPenney

Kaitlyn discovered a black jumper paired with a white button up uniform shirt that she spun around in like it was a princess dress. She also picked out an IZOD khaki Skater Skirt and paired it with a perfectly fitting blazer. Going a little more casual, she choose a fitted red polo with a pair of casual slim fit khakis rolled the hem and for a little flair choose a pair of floral sneakers to personalize this look.

JCPenney Back To School Uniform trends

Girls Back to School Uniforms JCPenney

Girls Back To School Uniforms Prep JCPenney

Back To School Uniform Looks For Boys at JCPenney

Sebastian is always a wild card. He’s a pretty easy-going, athletic kid but his new school dress code doesn’t allow for athletic clothing to be worn during school hours. He chose to embrace it full on and his first look was dress shirt and tie. He even found a perfect belt. his second look was more comfortable and casual: Red polo and khakis. I noted he did find a pair of high-top Converse sneakers to give the look a little more of his own style.

Back to School looks Boys JCPenney

JCPeney Back to School Boys Casual

JCPenney has all the Shoes and Backpacks For Back To School

After we were done in the dressing room we headed over to the shoe department because new shoes are always one of the best parts of back to school shopping. Sebastian admired the bright white Adidas on display but was torn between these and a few others pair we had seen online. Asa professional boy mom, I know we’ll be going through several pairs this year so I assured him we’d be getting a few pairs to put into the school year rotation. Just don’t grow too fast, okay son?

JCPenney Back To School shoes

JCPenney Back to School Shoes Girls

Are you done with your back-to-school shopping yet? No? Just stop in at JCPenney to find all your children’s needs in one stop for boys and girls, from the latest trends to a classic uniforms. You can also check the great deals and see what everyone is wearing by following the #SoWorthIt in all the social spaces.

But wait there’s more!!! Did you know you can also check the Back to School haircut off your list while at JCPenney? From now through 9/9 kids K-6th can schedule an appointment at your JCPenney salon for just $10!

JCPenney Haircuts 2017

iFLY Austin : Our Indoor Skydiving Experience

Thanks to iFly Austin for inviting us out to participate in one of the coolest family activities in the Austin area- INDOOR SKYDIVING!! Read on to find out about our first family skydiving experience, our initial thoughts, and what surprised us most!

iFLY indoor skydiving Austin TX

iFLY is an indoor skydiving experience that creates true free fall conditions, just like skydiving, without having to jump out of an airplane. iFLY’s vertical wind tunnel generates 1600 horse power from 4 powerful fans, creating a wall-to-wall cushion of air on which you can safely float. There’s no parachute, no jumping, and nothing attaching you to planet Earth. It’s just you and the air, AND it’s the most incredible adrenaline rush.

Our daughters have always been the extreme thrill seekers in our family so I knew immediately that Kaitlyn would want to come along to experience this for herself. Sebastian had recently gone with his class on a field trip here just a couple of weeks before so I was prepared to have to sit on the bench this time, thinking he would be ready to go again. To my surprise he INSISTED I go in his place because as he put it “Everyone should try this at least once in their lifetime.” It looked like this would be my day to try indoor skydiving. I’m so glad I did!!

austin iFLY indoor skydiving building

First time Indoor Skydiving? What you can to expect at iFly Austin

When we arrived at the facility, check in was a breeze because we already had completed our forms online. We just provided our names and they were able to locate everything easily. We did have participate in a quick (very discreet) weigh in so that the air pressure in the flight tube could be calculated correctly for our flight.

After that we went upstairs to watch a quick safety video with the instructor and got fitted in our flight gear. The gear consisted of a helmet, goggles, earplugs, and flight suit. The flight suit is basically just a jump suit that goes on over your clothes. I recommend wearing athletic clothing that fit close to your body, athletic shoes and pulling your hair back. You’ll also want to remove any jewelry that could come loose as well.

iFly indoor skydiving flight suits

All suited up and putting on our best game faces as first time flyers. We looked brave but eek! We were a little nervous.

The biggest surprise was finding out what a workout this could be. You might not initially consider indoor skydiving as part of your fitness routine but during your one to four minute flight session you are engaging a series of isometric contractions to keep your entire body suspended and stabilized as you encounter the high-speed wind resistance in the tunnel. iFLY offers several flight packages that could be a really fun way add some new energy to your fitness routine.

ifly indoor skydiving tunnel

Not really knowing what to expect and not entirely sure I could remember the instructions from the safety video, I was relieved to see our instructor would be in the tunnel with us to help us remember what to while we were in there. Kaitlyn and I positioned ourselves somewhere in the middle of our group so we could watch a few other attendees go first and see how it’s done. There were people of all ages, sizes, and athletic ability in our group. I wouldn’t let any of those be a factor in holding you back from this super fun experience.

Here’s a video of what the iFLY experience was like:

We were able to experience 2 full flights in the tunnel each with our instructor. Kaitlyn had such a great time that we upgraded her experience and she took an advanced flight going higher and learning a few more techniques. At the end we both received a certificate for our indoor skydiving experience. We both agreed we would love to come back!!

iFLY Austin Certificate

Ready to take an iFly indoor Skydiving adventure of your own?

Have we convinced you to in check out iFly for yourself? You’ll find the Austin location at 13265 North US 183, Suite A Austin, TX. (Outside of the Austin area? No Problem! iFly has several location in Texas and throughout the nation. Just check the website for the location nearest you here)

Give them a call now to set up a visit (512) 774-4359

Hours of Operation:

Monday-Thursday: 10am – 9pm
Friday: 10am-11pm
Saturday: 9am – 11pm
Sunday: 9am – 9pm

Be sure to check out their website here for more information and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest offers and events!

Have you been indoor skydiving? I’d love to hear about it!! For other fun activities in the Austin area check out this post

 

%d bloggers like this: