Friday, February 4, 2011

The Groupon Weekend Getaway - Part 1

Fact #1: I fully admit, that I've turned into a bit of a hotel snob.
Fact #2: I fully admit I have a motel 6 budget.
Fact #3: I am my mothers daughter and hate to pay retail.
Fact #4: I like pretty things
Fact #5: I needed a Christmas gift for the glass man.
Fact #6: I could go on endlessly, but then you'd get bored as usual.

Groupon is a pretty cool place. Well, except for the incredibly stupid descriptions and the moronic cat, other than that it's pretty cool. There are tons of offers there for places and events. Like: restaurants, spas, hair salons, botox (yeah really!), hotels and tons of other stuff. All for 50-80% off retail!

The businesses want to reach more customers so they offer you a screaming deal to get in the door. Pretty cool eh?

So back to the gift part. I bought a Groupon for one night's stay at Hotel Phillips in downtown KC and gave it to Gene as one of his Christmas gifts to be used later. Caveat: he was not allowed to pass this off as my "valentine's gift". He's been warned!


I thought it would be fun to share some of the fun things we did on our Groupon weekend (I bought 3 all together), and show you some parts of this historic hotel. In fact, It's on the national register of historic places.

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Our room was surprisingly bigger than I expected. I think we might have been upgraded to the executive suite. Nice. If we weren't, then I'm even more impressed.

The front desk staff was very helpful and kind. The woman that checked me in had a thick french accent, and didn't seem annoyed when I had to ask her to repeat herself twice. *oops* (English accent, I can handle pretty well ;)

With our package we also received free parking, which ended up being Valet service. That was so nice! Just call down and the car is there and waiting for you a few minutes later. The valet attendants were really polite people also. Not once did we feel like one staff member was impolite.

Our package also included a bottle of wine which I had just one glass and Gene had most of the rest *lol* I prefer a very sweet desert wine, and he likes his much more dry. It was pretty good, but he liked it better than I did.


We stayed on the 19th floor, which I didn't ask for, but I always want to be as high as I possibly can. Mainly because I love the view! My only complaint was that the windows were kind of dirty so it was hard to get good pics, but really considering the time of year, it's a minor complaint if one at all.

The hotel is an historic art deco period hotel with much of the original decor. Don't expect brand new construction. If you do, then I hear there's a Best Western a few miles a way. Remember that this hotel was built at a time where the average American isn't 325 pounds so the elevators and hallways are a little narrower than what you see in new construction.


Having said that, the decor of the hotel is really stunning, and I'm *not* a big art deco fan. I just wanted to hang out in the lobby and take photos all day. It might be fun to dress up a model or bride in a period dress (I just so happen to have a period gown.. ;) and do some shooting in this lobby.

*must investigate further*

I would say, that my favorite part of the hotel, wasn't even in the hotel... it was the view. We had the best looksee of all downtown. We stayed right next to the Bank of America building and still couldn't see the top of their building it was so tall. It gave the best reflections all times of day and night.






We were very close to Bartle Hall and Sprint Arena. I have dozens of awesome pics of the sculptures on Bartle Hall.



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I don't know the name of this building (I'm sure someone reading probably knows), but the lights change that light up the tower all night long. It was straight out our window. And FYI, the pic on the right was handheld at 1/4 second, ISO 320 at 200 mm. Be impressed.

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The next morning, we had the last part of our package - it was breakfast for 2 at 12 Baltimore in the hotel. It was very good and there was only one incident where I accidentally shot a sausage patty across the table at Gene while cutting it.

We both recovered beautifully.

Our wait was a little long, and we did get stuck sitting very close to the strangest couple. (she wouldn't speak, and he wouldn't shut up), but really, if we'd gotten around a little earlier (hello, it was sunday!!!) then we wouldn't have had either issue.

The restaurant sounded really pretty good. They had a large pizza with 2 toppings that you can get delivered to your room for $9. That's cheaper than any chain pizza place. I kinda regretted having dinner reservations when I saw that.

This whole package cost us around $90 - with a retail value of $214 (which at retail I thought was a good deal).

Over all, I give this hotel an A. I definitely want to go back again just to explore the hotel a little more and take some more photos... and stay the night!

Tomorrow - I'll share the rest of our Groupon weekend!

The Groupon Weekend Getaway - Part 2

I meant to share with you yesterday the second part of our Groupon weekend, food!

Oh, we ate and we ate! Trust me... the old pants were tight.

One of the things that Groupon seems to offer (in my area anyway) on a regular basis is different restaurants. Everything you can imagine across the spectrum. Places I've never heard of... and that's the point, for the business to gain access to a new larger customer base, for not a lot of advertising dollars. Win-win

Our first stop was at O'Dowds authentic Irish pub. In North KC. Having actually been in a real irish pub, I looked forward to it.


I knew before I got there what I wanted. I wanted Bangers and Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) just like the last time I was in an irish pub (when I went to the UK). Gene ordered a Shepherd's pie. He really enjoyed his, and I was a little disappointed. It was good but not *omg I want to quit my job and be irish* good. The decor was pretty good and seemed pretty real. Considering it's in one of the busiest retail developments in KC (zona rosa) and not in say, Ireland, I give them a solid B.

We got $20 worth of food, for $10 (plus a tip)

That evening, we went to Em Chamas which was a spur of the moment purchase for me. I bought this literally minutes before going to bed on Christmas eve (actually Christmas day around 1 a.m.!)

Em Chamas is a brazilian place, and the concept I knew Gene would love. You get a "coin" at the beginning of your meal and when it's on the blue side, it means you're interested in the waiters to stop. What do they have? Spears of all kinds of meats.

Gene is a carnivore. I knew this was a hole in one.

And it was, he really enjoyed it a lot and it was a unique experience. We got to try lots of different things that we'd never seen before, or often. Gene seemed to like it more than me. Probably because lots of things were more rare that I like them - which is well done.. WELL. I don't like to see blood on my plate.



(No idea who those ppl are on the left lol. I just wanted to show some decor)

We ended our meal sharing a apple turnover type desert. Very yummy. The down side was, it was very busy. We were sitting in the middle of a busy room (I hate that.. I want a booth lol), and even with a reservation, we had to wait around 15 minutes (after being told it would be 5).

I'd give it a B- Gene would give it a B+. There is a location in St. Joseph, so we'll probably try there at lunch time and see if we enjoy it more.

We bought $50 of food for $25 - plus tip

Tips on buying food on Groupon.
-Make sure that you check out the menu online first to see if you're getting a good value for your money. I want to know that I CAN eat on just the groupon if I wanted to. Plus, I want to know that they have things I'll like.
-If you want to take friends, make sure you can get multiple gift certificates and can use them all at once.
-Make reservations if you can, it could be very busy!

Over all, we enjoyed the experience. It was a way to try new things with not a lot invested.
For the weekend, we spent around $135 for $300 worth of "stuff" (not including tips).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

LG Text Ed - Sexting and Texting

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Being a mom is never an easy task. Sometimes we talk with our kids about things that we'd rather chew off our left arm to get out of the death grip, but, being good parents, we do it anyway gosh darn it!

Blogher and LG Text Ed has asked me, to help them on a mission to encourage parents (like you and me) to raise the issues of online and cell phone safety with their kids early and often. They have asked several parents just like myself serve as an example, and a jumping off point, for you and your kids too. Their request? It's simple. Interview my son about texting and driving, and sexting .

This topic is so important for our kids and their futures, BlogHer really wants to get the conversation about texting, sexting and safety going – both with our kids and among parents.

I didn't want this to be the Spanish inquisition, and I didn't want him to be mad, put out, or embarrassed (well, any more than usual), so I did this really an easy way. I emailed him! That actually worked pretty well. He didn't have to be embarrassed that his mom was talking to him about dirty pictures, but the message still came across.

On Texting and driving:

Me: What would you do if you were in a car with your friend while he/she was texting while they drove?
My son: I would tell them that they should stop it, its very dangerous and illegal.

Me: Did you know that it is illegal in some states for teen operators to use a cell phone and in many, texting while driving is also illegal? What do you think of that?
My son: Yes. I think it is a good thing because texting and driving endangers the person driving (and passengers) and endangering others on the road.

On Sexting:

Me: What would you do if you received a text from a friend that had a naked photo of them, or someone you knew?
My Son: I would tell them to cut it out, that's something that they shouldn't be doing and that i don't want any of that sent to me.

Me: Would you date someone if they "expected" you to send them inappropriate photos?
My Son: No. Like i said before its something that shouldn't be done and i don't want it sent to me, so i wouldn't send it to them.

Me: How would you feel if you showed someone something very private about yourself, and all your school mates saw it?
My Son: I would probably just ignore any criticism I got from any of my class mates.

See, that was relatively painless! I think something else important that we need to remind our kids, is that they are now charging kids with possession of child pornography for passing sexting photos! This is something I support fully. Yes it's scary. Yes, it could end up being my kid, God forbid, but I think it is important to send a message to kids that this is not acceptable behavior and they will have to be an example to others. Sadly that comes with a sex crime file that stays with you FOREVER. This is not a case anymore of "boys will be boys" or even "girls will be girls"

Remember, that being a teen today has a whole new set of rules, and what you and your kid puts out there, remains forever. So if you don't want your boss in 7 years to see a photo of you in your underwear, I'm going to suggest that they never take it!

Have you had a conversation with your kids about texting, sexting and safety?

Or if you haven’t had the conversation yet, what’s holding you back?

BlogHer is matching LG’s donation of .50 to for every comment on this post, so please tell me about your conversation with your kids in the comments. It’s important for all our families, and will get a $1.00 for every comment, question or suggestion.

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LG Text Ed - Call to action!

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and LG Text Ed

I'm a mom to two boys (one turns 21 today!) and my younger son is 16. I've officially been a mom for 900 years now.

OK, sometimes it just feels like it.
(Trust me, it's really hard to be a mom for 900 years, to 21/16 year olds when you're only 27!! ;)

Anyway, Blogher and LG Text Ed has asked me, to help them on a mission and you know me, I can never resist the urge to pull out my pink glittered cape and mask.

Oh wait, it's not that type of mission. *sheepish grin*

This mission, is to encourage parents (like me and you) to raise the issues of online and cell phone safety with their kids early and often. They have asked several parents just like myself serve as an example, and a jumping off point, for you and your kids too. Their request? It's simple. Interview my son. Simple no?

Here's the HARD PART (and why I need your help so badly).

I need to interview my son about sexting and how this affects him and his life, our life, his future, etc. I'm also going to talk to him about texting and driving, because, lord help us, boy has his license! (the ink isn't even dry)

Yeah, I told you it was gonna be hard!

This topic is so important for our kids and their futures, BlogHer really wants to get the conversation about texting, sexting and safety going – both with our kids and among parents.

Have you had a conversation with your kids (or nephews/nieces, grandchildren) about texting, sexting and safety?

Or if you haven’t had the conversation yet, what’s holding you back?

Please give me your suggestions on questions for my kid.

BlogHer is matching LG’s donation of .50 to for every comment on this post, so please tell me about your conversation with your kids in the comments. It’s important for all our families, and will get a $1.00 for every comment, question or suggestion.

Check out Jane Lynch's other videos in the series.

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Got my license! I'm street legal."

Each comment left on this post benefits with a $0.50 donation!


I received some horrific news the other day, sadly it came via facebook. My newly turned 16-year-old son posted this on his wall for pretty much all the world to see, "Got my license! I'm street legal."

There is possibly nothing more that strikes terror in the heart of a mom than the proclamation that a license has been acquired by a brand new 16-year-old. Mom and Dad have now set themselves up for higher insurance rates, sitting up late waiting on nights out with buddies on the town, new found freedom and letting their "baby" go. Today's teen has another obstacle also, distracted driving, in particular, texting and driving. Let's face it, it's easy to be distracted by a foot long chili cheese dog, your favorite new tune blasting through your stereo or even your best friend in the back seat, but one of the most common driving distractions of today's teen is the cell phone and texting in particular.

Here is a gadget that even we just can't seem to live without, our connection to the outside world. Unfortunately, we never let ourselves become unplugged from this device even when in the driver's seat, sadly, maybe even more so for our teens. Did you know that reaction times to emergencies is reduced by 35% if you are reading or writing text messages? It has also been concluded that actually texting while driving is more dangerous than talking on the cell phone itself since you must take your eyes off the road for longer periods of time to text. The National Safety Council has concluded that approximately 28% of car crashes or 1.6 million accidents per year happen because of drivers texting while driving.

A study released this past summer by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) showed that people who text while operating a motor vehicle have a 23 times greater risk of being in an accident. Furthermore, statistics have shown that drivers who drive while intoxicated have a four times greater risk of being in a motor vehicle accident. So basically, it's 6 times more dangerous to text and drive, than it is to drink and drive. (Not that anyone finds either acceptable behavior.)

Because of statistics like this, many states are reacting by banning texting while driving. 30 states, D.C. and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. 11 of these laws were enacted in 2010 alone. An additional 8 states prohibit text messaging by new drivers.

Teens face another front, which has more influence over them than even the strictest parents or police officers, this is their peers. Remind your kids that when faced with the dilemma of riding with a texting friend, that they must stand up to them and make sure their friends know that texting while driving is not cool, and not acceptable behavior.

As a parent, it's important that not only do we set a good example for our kids by not texting ourselves while driving, but to have a frank discussion with our kids about the dangers of texting and driving. You can start with the statistics above and insure them that there are stiff penalties for texting and driving. Not just from the mom and dad, but also very likely by the state you live in.

You might also remind them that driving is a privilege, not a right and so are cell phones. Those privileges can all be removed at any given moment. no matter who foots the bill!

What do you do, to insure that your kids are not texting and driving? Your comment will benefit with a $0.50 donation!

Read the other articles about texting and driving over at Blogher!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review - Skechers Shape Ups

This is the second installment of a new section I am adding to the blog. Product and service reviews. Soon, this will be switched to a whole different blog, but in the meantime, I thought I would share this review with you here.

Skechers Shape Ups - Purchased at Browns Shoe Fit in Maryville, MO

If you are anything like me, you probably could stand to lose 10 or 75 pounds. LOL. I would settle for 10 at the moment... temporarily. Anyway, couple that with the fact that I had a severe case of planter fascitis two summers ago, and a broken foot this last summer, well, I'm a hot mess in the foot department!

Shopping is taxing on me, even standing for a while, my feet are on fire. I knew I could fix the weight issue "easily" (har), but the leftover pain from previous injuries was going to be a little more difficult.

I decided I needed to go straight to the source.
My feet.

I had heard about the shape ups, and that people really loved them, so I started doing my research and reading how others felt about the shoes, almost all were great reviews.

Their original intention is a fitnes shoe. From the Skechers Shape ups site: "Shape-ups are designed to help you strengthen your muscles, including your back, abdomen and calves. Shape-ups will help you lose weight and improve your circulation, creating a healthier you! It's easy to shape up with Shape-ups. Wear your Shape-ups everywhere and anywhere you walk (or stand), and your body will feel the benefits."

However, that was not my intention, but it would be a great benefit. I was mainly looking for support for my feet, plus cushioning and less jarring on my back.


{a lil' dirty here lol - I'd just been to the chicken coop!}

I saw a sign at Browns Shoe Fit in Maryville, MO that they had their shape ups in, so I popped in. The really nice guys there, showed me the shoes and a few days later I returned to buy a pair. They are not cheap shoes. I paid $107 with the tax, but Browns had them on the low end of the spectrum of pricing. They explained that they had to be priced between $99 and $120 as per Skechers requirements, so I got a deal. I have found that $99 is some of the best prices that you can get, internet included (factoring shipping).

The guys also said that I could use these for a regular walking/exercising shoe if I wanted to.

They were comfortable immediately. They do take a little getting used to as you lean back a little on your heels as you stand up. I wore them to Walmart, and with 20 minutes, my lower back popped.

For the record, my lower back never pops!

I did not feel aching in my legs, but other people report that they have, and they do claim that you can lose a little bit of weight. I have not paid attention to see if I have, so I can not confirm that bit.


My honest opinion? I'd rather have these shoes on all the time. Really. I always walk around sock footed at home, and now, I hate having to take them off ever! I can really tell the difference between these and regular shoes, it's like walking on a cloud.

Definitely worth the money, and if I were buying another pair of shoes, I would buy these again. To make things even better, they have tons of styles, even flip flops! Lots of colors in the tennis shoe style.

Lastly, the guys at Browns were really cool. You should stop in and have them scan your feet! You can do that, it's so awesome to see where all the pressure points are in your feet.

I was so glad to see there was no scale attached to that foot scanner!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's true!

Future home of "It's True! Reviews" Reviewing products, places, and services locally and throughout the world