Being in the Right Seat can Make all the Difference : the 2017 Kia Niro #ExperienceNiro

My San Antonio adventure with Kia  was a welcome getaway before our personal marathon of holidays, wedding planning and welcoming a baby into the family began in the weeks to come. Truthfully, I was looking forward to the luxury travel experience the Hotel Emma and a few new experiences as well.

My previous experience with sports can be best summed up with the phrase… “I don’t sport”. I enjoy the competitiveness but just have never pledged an allegiance to one team over another. I’ve gotten by generically rooting “Go Team! Yay Sport!” This method typically works well for every sporting event. Needless to say, I felt a bit out my league attending a NBA game, Spurs vs Celtics, during our trip.

NBA San Antonio Spurs

We were transported from Hotel Emma to the AT&T arena in a spirited party bus and escorted up to a suite catered with an array of delicious food and drinks to pregame. Soon, a few of us would take our seats court-side to watch the game. Have you ever watched a game from the floor ? Oh my goodness, courtside is the MOST FUN EVER!! Here’s a few pics from my seat:

I even made a couple of new friends while I was down there and we took selfies, because of course,  we did! We also talked about what influencer marketing is and how great Kia is.

So, as it turns out I DO LIKE SPORTS! Who knew? A good seat can make all the difference.

Hotel Emma San Antonio Texas

As I walked through the hotel lobby the following morning, I couldn’t help but notice the elaborately decorated Christmas trees, holiday music playing in the background, and fireplaces roaring. My thoughts wandered toward the list of presents still to be purchased and wrapped, cookies to be baked, and errands to run back at home. I tried to reconcile time versus tasks and finally just pushed those thoughts aside as I walked into the morning presentation. After all, I really was so looking forward to hearing more on the 2017 Kia Niro and getting my first chance to get behind the wheel myself.

Hotel Emma Kia Niro Event

The Niro is the first hybrid crossover of its kind. It is stylish, aerodynamic and offers plenty of interior space you wouldn’t typically expect from a hybrid.

2017 Kia Niro

It also delivers on the exceptional fuel economy you do expect to see thanks to the hybrid-optimizing powertrain. The Niro touring model I drove, outfitted with top-level accommodations and trim, will manage 46 city, 40 highway, and 43 overall. If you’re willing to trade out a few of the comforts the touring offers, the FE base model will deliver impressive fuel economy ratings of 52 mpg in the city, 49 on the highway, and 50 combined.

2017 Niro fuel economy

After previously driving other a hybrids, there were a few things I just expected to have to overlook because of what I attributed to the nature of driving a hybrid. My biggest surprise was finding that those things I expected to overlook just didn’t exist in this car. On the road, the Kia Niro was extremely responsive and unexpectedly, simply felt like driving a high performing crossover. I highly recommend going for a test drive but be sure to leave anything you previously thought you new about hybrids at home.

In the Kia Niro San Antonio

Dare I say the Kia Niro was even fun to drive. It feels a little strange saying that a hybrid was “fun”. Can you be really be both fun and responsible? Does this mean we’ve grown up? Is this “adulting”? The answer is : Probably.

Luckily, the Kia Niro still looks really cool, so no one will know we’re adulting now.

Kia wasn’t about to let us get too serious though. This was the perfect opportunity to prove that the Kia Niro really is the perfect vehicle for any situation, especially spreading magic and cheer. Remember, I mentioned the increased interior cargo space?

Kia Niro trunk space

When we went out to get behind the wheel, we were delighted to find two Santa hats and every inch of cargo space filled with newly purchased toys to deliver to the Toys for Tots location on our route.

Kia Niro toys for tots

It didn’t take us long to quickly slip into our Santa hats and off we went with the 2017 Kia Niro as our sleigh for the day!

We drove through the city route until we arrived at the Toys for Tots donation center and unloaded the toys to deliver inside. Outside a line of Marines stood at attention.

toys for tots Kia niro

It didn’t take long for my long list of to-do’s, to-get’s and worries from earlier in the morning to be far removed. My concerns now seemed insignificant in comparison. My perceptions were shifted as I was enabled to give and serve. I was humbled to offer something that cost me nothing in front of those that would be willing to give their everything. I thought about the military spouses and children who will be separated from their loved ones this season. I wondered about the families receiving the toys and hope that on Christmas morning their homes are filled with laughter and that joy shines as brightly as the glow of Christmas lights.

My experience with the 2017 Kia Niro was completely different from what I originally expected. Originally, I was simply really excited to drive the Niro on familiar roads in my home state of Texas. What I came to learn was that  if you are open to something new,even in the very place you feel most at home, you can identify what is truly important. You may even discover you DO like sports, you DO love driving a hybrid, you’ve just got to be in the right seat.

HUGE thanks to Kia for allowing me the opportunity to get a first look at the 2017 Kia Niro and for being amazing hosts during my stay at Hotel Emma, including all transportation and expenses during my time in San Antonio. 

4 Perfect Gifts for the Girl on the Go

Gifts for the Girl on the Go

Finding the perfect gift for the girl you can hardly pin down is a tough feat. She’s someone who likes nice things but doesn’t have time to be weighed down. The things in her life have to be multi-functional, chic and bring joy. This can be complicated to sort out but with just a few shopping days left I’ve teamed up with Verizon to test out a few of these and offer you some of the best suggestions of the season!

Perfect Gifts for the Girl on the Go

Google Pixel

google Pixel

With this new phone by Google, she can be sure to document precious moments everywhere life takes her with the highest rated smartphone camera, a battery that lasts all day (through countless selfies and emails) and a charger that gets seven hours of battery life in 15 minutes. Couple that with UNLIMITED cloud photo storage and Verizon’s fastest LTE Advanced network. The girl on the go needs a network that works just as fast as she does.

FitBit Charge 2

Do you even walk bro? If you didn’t track your steps how do we know?! The Fit Bit Charge 2 tracks everything. Maximize workouts, automatically track all-day activity, exercise and sleep. Plus, make the most of your routine with smartphone notifications, Reminders to Move and personalized guided breathing sessions. Add interchangeable bands and it’s the motivation you need to push yourself further.

Cork Globe

Gift guide cork globe

Help your loved ones track previous and future adventures with this contemporary globe. Colored pins keep track of bucket-list destinations and favorite vacations, while the stainless-steel and cork design gives it a fresh, grown-up look.

Travel Blanket Scarf

gift guide blanket scarf

This is one item she can’t afford to be without. Whether it’s a trek across the country or across town, this is a MUST HAVE item in her bag. Planes are always cold and nothing is cozier on a long roadtrip in the car than the blanket scarf. Wrap it, drape it, twist it or belt it, with so many versatile styling options it is a gift any girl will love!

I hope these ideas spurred you on for one more gift under the tree or even a little something to surprise her with New Year’s day. Any of these gifts are sure to surprise and delight! Thanks again to Verizon for providing the lifestyle tech items to review for this gift guide.

For shopping and price info:

Google Pixel :Price $649.99 (retail); $27 per month (two-year contract)
Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate and Fitness Wristband:  Price $149.00 (retail)
Cork Globe:  uncommongoods.com Price: $48.00-$105.00 depending on size
Travel Blanket Scarf : check out several great options here

 

 

Eat, Drink, and Be Scary: 5 Easy Halloween Foods

5 Easy Halloween foods

It’s almost time for Halloween!! I love making a fuss over the holidays but I need everything to be super easy right now. I’ve put together and tested 5 Easy Halloween Foods to help you throw a party, pack a themed lunch, and basically make you look like the super hero that you are with minimal effort and supplies. All that’s left for you to do is eat, drink, and be scary with the ones you love.

Eat, Drink, and Be Scary: 5 Easy Halloween Foods

Monster Doughnuts

Supplies: doughnuts, bulk pack of vampire teeth, candy eyes 

Halloween monster doughnuts

halloween monster doughnut suplies

Our kiddos actually LOVED this idea so much that they requested to show everyone and did a facebook live video about it on our page. This little food activity is perfect for a group or class activity too.

Jack’O lantern Fruit cups

supplies: orange fruit cups, sharpie

halloween fruit cups

jackolantern-fruit-cups

Seriously, What can sharpies not transform?!

Witches Broomsticks

supplies: mini Reese’s cups, stick pretzels 

broomstick-supplies

Halloween witches brooksticks

Tip: I do refrigerate these a bit after I make them so that the chocolate hardens up a bit around the pretzel and they stay together better.

Sand”witches”

supplies: your choice of bread rolls, lettuce, turkey, witch legs/hat toothpicks ( these found at Michael’s)

sandwitches

Everyone thought these were adorable and all I did was push a few cute toothpicks in. I mean, I was going to make their lunches anyway, right???

Halloween Fruit & Cheese Skewers

supplies: orange/black skewers, cheddar cheese cubes, black seedless grapes, blackberries

orange-and-black-fruit-and-cheese-skewers

If you are running short on creativity and time, THIS is for you. You can’t go wrong with orange and black for Halloween treats and fruit and cheese is a hit with any crowd. Alternate cheese and fruit and you are all set.

I hope this has been a help to you and that you all aren’t judging me for not baking from scratch, creating an actual recipe, or something. The reality is we have to know our limits. Sometimes those restrictions are because of limited hours in a day and sometimes we just have to balance things. For me, this season is about bringing joy and keeping myself sane and it requires simple things. Simple can still be cute.

What easy, festive treats/crafts have you made this holiday season? Comment here or on facebook with your ideas or suggestions.

The Brightest Holiday Lights in Austin are on the 2015 Trail of Lights (Dec 8th-22nd)

Austin Trail of Lights 2015

Seeking out the most magical display of twinkling holiday lights with your family this year? After relocating last fall, we soon came to find that we didn’t have to look any farther than the Trail of Lights Austin TX to complete our holiday tradition.  Surrounded by TWO MILLION lights, taking 15, 000 man hours to assemble, there is certainly no shortage of holiday magic here.  Our family was given early access this year to share some highlights and help you plan a wonderful visit with your friends and family too!

Austin Trail of Lights couple

This year, visitors to the Trail of Lights have a host of new reasons to celebrate their holiday in grand Austin style. Beginning Dec 8th- 15th, gates open at 7:00 p.m, admission is FREE for guests of all ages. the last 7 nights(16th-22nd) admission is $3.00 and tickets can be purchased online or at the  gate box office. I highly recommend buying in advance here or at H-E-B stores.

Trail of Lights light tunnel

There is plenty of free fun to be had on the trail but you will get one of the best views from about 90′ up. The downtown skyline view from the top of this classic ferris wheel is totally worth the splurge, each ride 6 tokens ( 1 token=$1), so plan to include that as part of your visit.

City view of Austin from ferris wheel

Inside candyland, the kids can play carnival games operated by the sweetest elves you’ve ever met and receive a sweet treat in exchange. If all this fun has you hungry for more than candy, you will find more than 30+ food vendors onsite.

Candyland Trail of Lights

We ended the night taking nostalgic carousel rides capturing glimpses of the Zilker Tree on each rotation. We all left sharing a little more Christmas spirit than when we arrived.

Trail of Lights Carousel

For more information on planning your visit, be sure to check out the Austin Trail of Lights FAQs. Make sure you are following Austin Trail of Lights on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest to join in the conversation, ask questions, and post pictures after your visit!

Indoor ideas for Halloween Fun, treats & coloring sheets!

Rainy days here in Austin may mean we take some of our Halloween fun indoors.  Not to worry, this mamma always has a plan! From kid friendly movies, crafts, and treats we are ready for whatever comes our way.  We’ve got ideas for great Halloween indoor fun too!

Not so scary Movies : Mystery in Care-a-Lot

61bUT331gJL._SY445_

With a wide range of ages among the kids on the street we like to keep the movies just a little spooky and not too scary. Mystery in Care-a-Lot is the perfect for this! With 3 spooky episodes, focused on the power of caring and sharing, it is delightful for all ages. This DVD is broken down into 3 episodes makes perfect timing for little ones and gives great party transition time for getting set up with crafts and games! “Join the the Care Bears for a Halloween-themed adventure filled with friendship and good cheer. The Bears show the power of caring and sharing as they transform bad dreams into sweet ones, solve the mystery of the legendary Scare Bear, and save Care-a-Lot from turning into Grump-a-Lot in this delightful collection that kids and their families will love!” (Get a copy for your Halloween party here!)

Treats not Tricks

When kids are having to spend lots of time indoors, filling them up with sugary confections with no where to burn off the extra energy is a very frightening thought so opting for these treats may help keep things fun and under control.

Dark Chocolate covered apples– Take a twist on the traditional caramel covered apples. The pairing of dark chocolate and apples create an antioxidant-rich dynamic duo that may help protect your heart.

Spiders on a log– This concept is pretty self explanatory just adorn your almond butter filled celery sticks with a plastic spider or two.

Mandarin Oranges made into pumpkins

Cheese Stick ghosts

 

Craft ideas

If you have creative ghosts and gouls here are a few fun and simple Halloween crafts to keep them from getting into trickery.

Glow in the Dark Slime

Paper Plate Vampires & Paper Plate Ghosts

Care Bears Coloring sheet:

Care_Bears_MIC_activity sheet

Keep up with the latest on Care Bears:  www.CareBears.com You can also find Care Bears on Facebook , YouTube, & on Pinterest. 2 lucky readers will win a copy of Mystery in Care-a-Lot! Just comment below or tweet about the giveaway to enter. (Contest will end on 10/30 11:59 cst)

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