Living in South Florida has taught me to embrace new and interesting twists on how I view some of our family travel. I’ve learned to embrace certain wildlife and appreciate it’s preservation. I’ve also learned to adapt to a different climate. When envisioning holiday vacations, I would usually expect cold weather and perhaps even snow. However, in Florida, and particularly Longboat Key, I learned to embrace a different visual. We’ve spent some time on the west coast of Florida the past couple of years, and I’ve learned to appreciate a spectacular sunset. It comes with the territory.
Our most recent discovery was some time well spent at the hidden jewel of Longboat Key, the Zota Beach Resort. The Zota Beach Resort recently underwent a complete renovation (practically gutted) and opened its doors to reveal a gorgeous contemporary resort for the west coast. The colors, fabrics, and furniture are reminiscent of a classic time while embodying a modern spirit. Plus, you can’t beat the sunsets on this beachfront property ready to welcome you.
We spent four days soaking up the sand, sun, and wildlife that Longboat Key has to offer. When thinking about a beach resort, I normally wouldn’t consider bringing the boys for fear they would get bored. One of the sweetest surprises was how family-friendly Zota Beach Resort is. The menu at Viento catered to our tiny guests and made dining there nightly incredibly smooth. Waking up to the sound of the seagulls and strolling the beach with the boys after breakfast is one of my most treasured memories.
During the day there was plenty to do and see on the sand. The boys collected shells, went swimming in the crisp cool waters of the west coast, and we enjoyed an afternoon kayaking. There was no shortage of outdoor fun in the sand. Mostly at the hands of the fabulous Zota Bech Staff. They waited on us hand and foot, an extra set of hands for whatever our family needed. The resort was so thoughtful to already have strategically placed umbrellas with buckets and shovels on hand. We didn’t have to pack a thing! Such an incredible way to chill out and enjoy lunch with the family. This would later be the scene for the most spectacular sunset we’ve seen in Florida. Like, ever.
We enjoyed the luxury of a cabana to ourselves as we sat poolside. The kids enjoyed lunch while we sipped on frozen drinks and enjoyed the amenities of poolside luxury. Towels were in place when we arrived, and the kids had access to television while we lounged around. Although most of the time it was me watching a little HGTV!
We lounged around until it was absolutely necessary that we head back to our room and get ready for dinner. I mean, can you blame us?
Okay, so let’s talk about these rooms…
I love everything about them. They are light and airy, with a sophisticated beachside vibe. Every detail provided a layer of color, texture, and fabric all complimentary of each other without overwhelming your senses. There was a lot of thought put into the details and it shows.
The light fabric lets in just enough light to nudge you out of bed, while the blackout curtains invite you to take just a few more winks.
I was fortunate to be able to take a tour of the property and learned all about the many amenities offered at Zota. I was incredibly impressed by their 24-hour fitness gym, what a view to exercise with each day!
See more from my tour below:
Zota Beach Resort has something for everyone. Whether you are looking for some down time, or a good time. Their family-friendly service provides just enough for the kids and the parents to enjoy, and wraps it all in a bow with a fantastic sunset each night.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Complimentary accommodations were provided in order to facilitate an honest review. As always all opinions expressed are 100% my own.
One of my favorite parts of winter is the cozy and hearty meals we can enjoy. While we are only experiencing a mild cold front here in South Florida, I am a creature of habit. I need baked goodness throughout the winter, and that includes my dinner! This Three-Cheese Baked Penne os a cheesy wonder that crept its way into my heart years ago and I haven’t looked back. It’s my indulgence on a cool winter evening, and an excuse to get cheesy. Pun intended.
It’s a lot like a baked ziti (without the ziti), born of necessity. It includes ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and of course my favorite, Parmigiano Reggiano. The creamy ricotta lends to the heartiness of this dish, while the gooey mozzarella provides comfort that only cheese can bring. The parmesan is perfect for adding those crispy edges that are my favorite part!
You start with some cooked pasta (penne in this case) and boil it until al dente, saute some ground sausage meat and add to the pot. Incorporate your favorite marinara, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. Grate some fresh parmesan over the hot pasta and take a big whiff! This baby is already your favorite dish. Add the mixture to your greased baking dish and top with some more mozzarella. That’s right, you heard me.
Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees covered for twenty minutes, then add some more of the fresh grated parmesan (for that golden crust). Another ten to twelve minutes in the oven and let it sit on the countertop for another fifteen. This smoky, hot, cheesy dish is just begging for a big ol’… SALAD! Let’s face it, folks, with this much pasta you are going to need to counteract it with some heavy greenery. I like to chop some fresh basil and sprinkle it into the pasta, but… my youngest son is currently boycotting basil, so a sprig will have to do for now.
Enjoy! I know I will.
Thanks to Parmigiano Reggiano for partnering up with me to sponsor this post, and for single-handedly enabling my obsession with cheese. As always, all opinions expressed are 100% my own.
While there are many things I love about the holiday season, a failing immune system isn’t one of them. There are plenty of theories flying around about cold/flu season and the effect it has on the public. And while I think there are many different reasons, it mostly has to do with the level of care we show ourselves throughout the holiday. It’s true that joy and love may be filling the air, but along with it come sniffles, coughing, and sneezing.
With all of the pressure and extra demands of holiday cooking, spending, shopping, and events; there is no shortage of interaction with the public. So, here you have it… a room full of parents who are overworked, malnourished, overtired, underpaid and eating on-the-go. Whoever decided to stick everyone in a room during this season for winter concerts was surely a sadist.
Tip# 1: Remember Your ABC’s
It may seem old-fashioned, but a good washing of the hands is an excellent way to keep from any unwanted germs. It’s a scientific fact that the actual rubbing of your hands and the friction created is what helps to get rid of germs, not just the soap. A good rule of thumb is to sing the ABC song twice, that is sufficient time to rid any and all germs from your hands; particularly before eating when you are most vulnerable.
Tip# 2: What Goes In, Must Come Out
While we can do our best to keep gross germs and bacteria from entering our bodies as best we can, we cannot guarantee to get it all. I had heard of nasal flushing when you have a cold. It’s the process of flushing your sinus cavities with a natural saline flush. I recently had success with Nasopure, the gentlest of nasal saline solutions, using buffered salt for its gentle cleansing effects. Nasopure is the most comfortable nasal flush I’ve experienced, it’s so gentle it’s even kid-friendly.
Tip# 3: Control the Environment
Controlling the condition of your microbiome is a surefire way to stay healthy all year-long. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that the gut is the epicenter of the body and contributes a great deal to immune support. Probiotics are a great way to keep the good bacteria present in your body to fight off the illness-causing bacteria. Also, while it is one of the busiest times of the year, it’s important to be mindful of your nutritional intake. Double up on greens and steer clear of all the extra refined sugar that tends to come with holiday binging. While it’s impossible to ignore altogether, balance is the key to life. So if you indulged a bit, be sure to follow-up with a heaping plate of greens to help build you back up.
In order to help you stay healthy this season, I have partnered with Nasopure to give away a Healthy Holiday Kit! 10 winners total will receive the following: 3 Sampler Kits, 1 Little Sampler Kit, 1 Personal Refill Kit, Dr. Hana’s Book – ‘Clearing the Air One Nose at A Time’. Enter the giveaway below by following Nasopure and @essentiallyerika on Instagram and FB, then tag a friend to do the same. You enter by tagging new friends to follow each day. The giveaway will close Friday, December 22nd. Good luck!