My Golden Girls in Italy

There is a lyric in the new Ed Sheeran song, Castle on the Hill…
But these people raised me
And I can’t wait to go home

I just returned from a trip to Italy with my “these people”. These gorgeous people.

They raised me.

To be crystal clear, I am aware that it was my family that raised me (thanks Mom and Dad :-) )

But these girls, these women, these amazing humans; were and are a huge part of the person I have become.

We have all known each other for over 35 years. We grew up in small-town New England. 180 kids in our graduating class. People have come and gone from my life, but these lovelies, I can’t seem to shake. They have seen me at my absolute worst and my glowing best, and every step in between.

To make use of a completely overused an inappropriately used word – our trip was amazing. I was amazed daily and hourly. We laughed and we cried. We ate and we drank. We talked about the past and the future. We spent long hours in the car, on hikes, and in search of bathrooms. Oh and we were in ITALY! Bellissimo.

Did I mention we laughed? One of T’s very young coworkers remarked upon hearing we were coming, “Oh it’s just like the Golden Girls!” Bless her heart. T nearly killed her, but we fully embraced it after nearly peeing our pants (let’s find a bathroom!) hearing the story about it. We are now the GG’s.

And on and on. These women know my soul and I feel so fortunate to have them in my life.


We travelled from Vicenza to the Cinqueterre then to Bellagio on Lake Como, and to Venice. More on our #ItalianGNO adventure to come! A Domani.



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Week 1 of Summer – Cape Fun

We started the summer off with a bang! A trip to the Red Jacket Resort in Yarmouth, fireworks on the beach. Back home for a bit and swim lessons. Then to the cape again for the 4th and more fireworks on the bay!

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El Dorado Casitas Royale – Adults Only Resort

My husband and I have been married 10 years this year. We have 3 kids. They just turned 5, 7 & 9. We have not been away for more than an overnight together since our honeymoon.

We went away for our anniversary, just the two of us for 5 days to the El Dorado Casitas Royale. It was pure loveliness.

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We needed this. The word deserve gets thrown around a lot, but dare I say after the winter we’ve been through with said 3 kids, we might just deserve this.

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It took a lot of planning, negotiating, compromising, prepping the puppy for a doggie hotel, and 2 sets of grandparents. Basically just sheer will to get this done. Probably the reason we’ve haven’t done it in 10 years. Because holy hell I need a vacay from planning my vacay. And the guilt too. OMG the mom guilt. I got over it as soon as my toes touched the sand however. YES I did. In the end we were rewarded with 5 glorious days to ourselves.

We decided early on in the planning that we would give all inclusive a try. Even on our honeymoon we didn’t stay at a super fancy resort. We backpacked, finding hotels on the fly in Greece. It was amazing and we loved it. But this time around we’re a bit older, slower and well, in need of a bit of a rest.  I planned the whole thing with my husbands only two requirements in mind: A swim up bar and NO KIDS.

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I zoomed in on Cancun because the travel time was reasonable, the weather is awesome, and rave reviews from others. We narrowed it again to the Riveria Maya. A little less spring break-esque. I looked at a lot of all inclusives in the area and there are many. Wittled it down to the adults only. I kept coming back to one over and over again – the Casitas. In particular, I kept coming back to this picture imaging myself there…

I looked at this picture every day as we prepared to go and I worked out the details. I couldn’t wait to get there! I mean LOOK AT IT!

We arrived in Cancun at 3 in the afternoon. We found our car that was taking us to our resort no problem. It’s best to set up the car before you even leave the country. When time and relaxation is of the essence you don’t want to wait on a taxi. Hire a service. It’s well worth it. As we got our belts on the driver offered my husband a beer. An effing roadie man, are you kidding me?

His face lit up. Seriously. He was on vacation and I could see him settle in. I declined because Corona Light smells and tastes like a frat party to me and um, no thank you. I do not need to be reminded of frat parties on my romantic weekend with my husband. When we got to our resort I was offered something a bit more my speed… a chilled glass of champagne. Thankyouverymuch.

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Everything about the Casitas Resort didn’t scream luxury, but rather mentioned it in a quiet attentive voice. There’s no need for screaming, the kids are at home. Did I mention that already? There are no kids. My kids aren’t here. YOUR kids aren’t here.

I just adored this resort. From the room to the pool to the restaurants. Everything. A special mention needs to go here about the people that run the resort. And I mean the men and women on the ground. Sweeping the beach, bussing the tables, serving the deliciousness, cleaning, organizing, working. WORKING. The resort staff are so service oriented, it’s staggering. We wanted for nothing. Ask and it appears, with a smile. A warm genuine smile, not an ‘I’m just getting through my day here’ smile. As someone who is not accustomed to this type of service, I was just in awe of it. Lovely people, all of them.

But you want to know about our stay right? :-)

Our suite was just gorgeous. We had breakfast delivered to our room every morning because I couldn’t be bothered to leave. Really, could you…

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But when we did leave the room our pool with swim up bar was only steps away. And a few steps after that… the beach.

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During the day, I sat by the pool, laid down on the Bali bed, or took a walk on the beach to the salt water pool. (This would be the ONLY con to this whole resort. Beach erosion has taken it’s toll and the surf is sometimes unswimmable. They have also put large unsightly barriers in the water to help with this problem. Not one person ever mentioned this the whole time we were there as being a problem. After the first day I was okay with it too.)

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I read a whole book cover to cover. I even read a magazine.

But mostly, I just had lovely daydreams. I dreamt about my kids, my life, what my husband and I would do later ;-) I had time to day dream people. I was lying around doing nothing. A highly under rated activity IMHO.

At night we had the most gorgeous meals with crazy exceptional service. This Karisma Resort is a Gourmet Inclusive. I had uninterrupted meal time conversations with my husband. No one asked me for anything except what I wanted to eat and drink :-)

We went to shows at night. Beach bars. And wine by moonlight on the beach beds. We held hands and went for walks. Had some sexy time. No “OMG what’s that noise? Is it one of the kids.” Nope just the ocean or someone bringing us room service!

The Casitas are a part of the larger El Dorado Royale by Karisma. It is a private enclave dedicated to providing an even higher level of luxury and personal attention. You can enjoy all of the amenities, restaurants and activities of the neighboring El Dorado Royale and Generations Riviera Maya. But as guests of Casitas Royale we had exclusive access to our own private pools and swim-up bars, and concierge services just steps from our room. They even have aromatherapy and pillow menus! There is just so much goodness.

As an all inclusive we never had to worry about what to eat or drink. We just ordered and it arrived. Price was not a factor or a deterrent in any of our decisions. We ate and drank as we pleased. That was a true luxury. I think the food and drink alone need a post!


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IF you can get away. DO IT! I would go back in a hot minute!

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Disclosure: This post (and my sharing on social media) was inspired by my participation in a program by Karisma Hotels. I have been given a discounted room for this post. 

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Mexico on Instagram The El Dorado Casitas Royale

Do you follow me on Instagram? You should! That would be fun :-) I post pics of cute kids and dogs, silly stuff, and travel photos! C’mon over!
These are my favorite pics from our Mexico trip to the ElDorado Casitas Royale!

What? It’s *almost* noon ;-) #karismaexperience #cancun #mexico #cocktails #travel

A photo posted by violacay (@violacay) on

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Red Jacket Beach Resort Video Review

We had so much fun last week when we stayed at the Red Jacket Beach Resort last.

Here’s the kids and I telling you all about it. Don’t mind my hair – it was hella humid, mkay?!



I’ll be adding our tour video soon here as well!

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Great Wolf Lodge New England for the Holidays

Last weekend my family and I were asked to attend a Howliday sneak peek at Great Wolf Lodge New England!   We got to experience Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all in one sitting!

First we started with Howl-o-ween. The kids decorated treat bags and got some candy from the witch. During the month of October kids will get in their costumes and participate in Spooktacular family activities such as the Trick-or-Treat Trail or Monster Bash Dance Party. It’ll be a howling good time! (Get it? Wolf. Howl?)

We had a Thanksgiving feast fit for KINGS I tell you. Every bit of it was delicious (between my husband and I we tried most of it ;-). And as a bonus it was all nut free!

Then they made it SNOW! Inside. The kids thought it was so cool. It was part of what will be called  Snowland – From snow showers and twinkling lights in the Grand Lobby to gingerbread houses and enormous snowflakes. We had hot chocolate with handmade marshmallows, and the kids decorated Holiday cookies and basically got all hopped up on sugar. There was also a storytime and then a dance party. I suppose to account for the different levels of sugar intake ;-)


Dollops of Diane’s kids. Mine would not stand still for a second here.

That was all just our blogger preview of the holidays! Everything else at Great Wolf Lodge was equally as awesome.

The Dunkin Donuts and a bar for adults -that’s the way to begin and end the day ;-) The buffet breakfast for everyone. And of course, of course the WATER PARK and everything in between our room and the water!

There are shops, a salon, arcades, indoor mini golf, a ropes course and so much more. Be sure to look them up on Facebook for deals!


We had so much fun and would definitely go back! Among the water parks around these parts it’s most certainly the leader of the pack (sorry I couldn’t help myself.)


This post (and my sharing on social media) was inspired by my participation in a program by Great WOlf Lodge. I have been given aComplimentary stay at the resort. Image used with permission. All opinions are my own.

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