3 Simple Photography Styling Tips

Easy photography styling tips to help you take better photos for your blog. Learn a few simple photo styling secrets to help your photos look more amazing! 3 Simple Photography Styling Tips I hope you enjoy these quick and easy photography tips for bloggers. Over the many years of my career as an art director, […]

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Tamron 24-70mm Camera Lens Review (Sonoma Trip)

Tamron 24-70mm Camera Lens Review for Food and Lifestyle Bloggers. Should you get a new camera lens? See how this new lens measures up with a photo tour of my most recent Sonoma trip! Sponsored by Tamron Tamron 24-70mm Camera Lens Review for Food and Lifestyle Bloggers One of my most asked questions about blogging […]

The post Tamron 24-70mm Camera Lens Review (Sonoma Trip) appeared first on Living Locurto.

Round Top, Texas – What You Need To Know

Here’s everything you need to know about Round Top, Texas! Known for its twice-yearly antiques fair, this small Texas town is full of charm. Travel along with me as I share what we did on our most recent trip to Round Top.   Round Top Texas – Everything You Need To Know I’ve lived in […]

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What I Love About Beaches Turks & Caicos (VIDEO)

Trying to decide where to go on your next family vacation? Beaches Turks & Caicos is by far our favorite all-inclusive beach resort. Of course the beautiful Caribbean is amazing, but the service, food and fun at Beaches Resorts makes it 100 times better! Here’s why you must go to Beaches Turks & Caicos on your next family vacation.

Why You Must Go to Beaches Turks & Caicos! Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review. Social Media on the Sand. #travel #caribbean

Why You Must Go to Beaches Turks & Caicos

This post is in partnership with Beaches Resorts

I recently attended the 4th Annual Social Media on the Sands event sponsored by Beaches in Turks & Caicos. When I got my invitation, I had to pinch myself because it’s my happy place! I’m a huge advocate of traveling with kids, so was excited that I could bring my daughter along. We definitely enjoyed the beautiful Caribbean water and wonderful event  activities!

The first year I got to attend this event, I fell in love with Turks & Caicos and Beaches Resorts. A few months later cancer took my mom away from us way too early. After caring for her, I was exhausted, depressed and totally lost until I booked a trip again to this resort. I wanted to go back for a work free trip with my family to hopefully find happiness again. I remember being greeted with a big hug from Cookie Monster (Sesame Street is exclusive at Beaches Resorts), and finally got my smile back! So when I gush and brag about Beaches Turks & Caicos, it’s because they seriously helped me heal during a deeply sad time of my life.

Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review.

I have traveled all over the world, believe me when I say it’s worth EVERY penny to go on a family vacation here!  

What I Love About Beaches Turks & Caicos + Event Recap

This is a quick summary of everything I love about the all-inclusive Beaches Resorts Turks & Caicos along with a recap of the 2018 Social Media on the Sand event. I hope you find it helpful for when you plan your next family vacation!

Have Questions? Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below.

Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger. LivingLocurto.com

 

What is Beaches Resorts Social Media on the Sand?

Social Media on the Sand is an invitation-only event for social media influencers and their families hosted by Beaches Resorts. It was by far one of the best conferences I have ever attended! We did not get a free trip, but did get an incredible discount and tons of great perks for attending. Ready to go? –> You can save up to 65% at Beaches right now, click here to learn more. 

 

Amazing Speakers

We got to hear from several celebrities, amazing entrepreneurs and learn what is new in our industry.

Our keynote speaker was Adam Stewart, the CEO of Sandals and Beaches Resorts. After hearing him speak, I can safely say some of us might have a crush on him! His dad, Gordon “Butch”, is the founder of Sandals and Beaches Resorts. I wish they had a show, because their family seems like a ton of fun! Adam started working for the company when he was sixteen years old and helped make Sandals and Beaches two of the top resort brands in the world. Did you know they are who invented the swim up pool bar? GENIUS!!

Adam shared some great family stories and news about both Sandals and Beaches Resorts. If you didn’t know, Sandals is a collection of 15 of the most romantic all-inclusive luxury beachfront resorts on earth, created exclusively for couples. After Sandals customers started making babies, the family version (Beaches) was created.

I’m DYING to stay in Sandal’s over the water villas!!! There is a very long waiting list, and I might have offered Adam cash to get me on the list, but I don’t think it worked. I’m still waiting for my invite. LOL!


All NEW Sandals Royal Caribbean Over-The-Water Villas now open!

Other amazing speakers included:

Thanks to the Dry Bar girls for taming my crazy curly hair with this fun braid!

Dry Bar beach hairstyle. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger. LivingLocurto.com

 

Out of This World Events

Social Media on the Sand Pool Party. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger. LivingLocurto.com

Beaches Resorts know how to throw a seriously AWESOME party! We got spoiled with a welcome party on an Island Routes catamaran, a crazy amazing Alice in Wonderland themed party and Floatopia Pool party, sponsored by Spin Master, where the boy band In Real Life (IRL) performed for us!

Social Media on the Sand Pool Party. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

IRL are super cute and talented, so of course my daughter and I had a first row pool spot for their concert!

Social Media on the Sand Party. In Real Life (IRL) boy band concert. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Social Media on the Sand Party. In Real Life (IRL) boy band photo. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

 

Lovely People and New Connections

The blogging and social media industry has grown so much, it was wonderful to meet new fabulous people! Beaches gave us precious time to get to know each other in the beautiful Caribbean. I will cherish our friend and family time together here forever!

Social Media on the Sand event for Beaches Moms. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Beaches Pool Volleyball. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Funny Moment

Lands End was one of my favorite sponsors who gave us the most amazing gifts. One of them being a magical dress that fits any body shape. I met my friend Holly for dinner one night and without planning, we both had on the exact same dress, same handbag and wore our hair with it’s natural curls. We definitely turned heads that night! Ha!!

Exclusive Lands End Discount–> Get 40% off full-price styles on Lands End by using code: BEACHES and pin: 2018 at checkout!  Hurry! This offer expires: 10/31/2018

Beaches Moms Social Media on the Sand event. Holly Homer and Amy Locurto Texas bloggers. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review.

Beaches Friends Forever Getaway

 

What’s New at Beaches Resorts

Beaches spent over 70 million dollars to rebuild after last year’s hurricane. Everything is in tip top shape now! I noticed the Caribbean Village lobby got a beautiful makeover since the last time I was there.

Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Here are more new things you’ll want to know about! 

  • Barbados –  The newest Beaches Resort is coming to St. Peter, Barbados in a few years. I can’t wait!
  • No More Plastic Straws  – Starting this fall, there will be no more plastic straws to help save the environment. All 19 Sandals and Beaches Resorts across seven Caribbean islands will eliminate the 21,490,800 single-use plastic straws and stirrers by November 1, 2018. Eco-friendly paper straws will be available upon request. Visit the Sandals Foundation to see more ways they help the community and environment.
  • Over the Water Chapels – This isn’t at the Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Sandals now has glass bottom chapels over the water! Each chapel seats 40 people. If you are planning a wedding or want to renew your vows, be sure to check them out here.
  • Food Trucks – You’ll not only find 22 incredible restaurants (all included in your price), but don’t miss out on the new food trucks! Our favorite was the Mr. Mac truck. Any flavor of Mac & Cheese you want, they have!

Food Trucks Mac & Cheese. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Take a Tour of Beaches Turks & Caicos

Watch my video tour below to get a better glimpse of the incredible Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos!

 


Beaches Resorts: Huge Savings Now!

Beaches is a Kid’s Heaven!

Beaches is my FAVORITE resort for kids! The kids activities and water parks are to die for!!!

Waterslide pool for kids. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

You can see all they offer at their Kids Camp here. How adorable are these mini lounge chairs and umbrellas?

Kid Camp pool. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

I love that Sesame Street Is Exclusive at Beaches Resorts. It’s so fun seeing the characters walking around. Even I get excited because I basically grew up with them!

Beaches is Highly Trained to Work with Special Needs Kids

Beaches Resorts is the first resort in the world to complete the rigorous International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards training and Autism Certification! If you have kids with special needs, this resort will be a heavenly place where you can rest assured your kids are safe and happy!

What about teens?

Beaches makes it tons of fun for pre-teens and teenagers too! From pizza bars to soda bars, to their own nightclub with karaoke, they give teens their own scene all day and places to hang each evening. There are great water sports, pre-teen events, teen only boat cruises, pool olympics, tennis clinics, karaoke, discos, dance parties, talent shows and much more!

Boogie boarding surf simulator for kids at Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Other Things I love about Beaches Resorts

  • The Restaurants – Their specialized restaurants are like no other all-inclusive resort. It’s so fun to walk into any restaurant and not have to pay or tip! (All food and tips are included in your vacation price) We often ordered two dinners and ALL of the desserts! I love how they require the chefs to have experience working in the country of the restaurant’s theme. All of the food we ate was amazing!
  • Safe Surroundings & Friendly Staff – The people who work at Beaches LOVE their jobs! They not only make your vacation the most fun ever, but also safe. My older kids roam around on their own and I always feel totally at ease with the wonderful service and staff around.
  • Butler Service – If you want luxury and nothing to worry about, the butler service is a must get!
  • Premium liquor brands – There is no generic ANYTHING. If you like Tito’s Vodka or Crown Royal, that’s what you’ll get.

I got a chance to learn how to make some of their delicious specialty drinks in a bartending class. I made a Dirty Banana and can’t wait to share the recipe with you soon!

Making drinks with Social Media on the Sand event at Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Leave a Comment about Beaches Turks & Caicos on Living Locurto

Thank you the Beaches Resorts team for the event of a lifetime!! Also a huge thank you to the other amazing sponsors! We were so spoiled by everyone who came. What an amazing time. I hope you get to visit a Sandals or Beaches Resort soon!

Beaches Resorts Social Media on the Sand event partners. Living Locurto

 

The post What I Love About Beaches Turks & Caicos (VIDEO) appeared first on Living Locurto.

The Cheesecake Factory Behind the Scenes

A behind the scenes look at The Cheesecake Factory kitchens. Learn secrets and fun facts about how your food is prepared at one of America’s favorite restaurants!

Get a behind the scenes look at The Cheesecake Factory! I got a VIP tour of the Culinary Center and revealing some top secrets and fun facts about how your food is prepared at one of America's favorite restaurants! Get a sneak peek at the new fall menu recipes and learn how each dish is made fresh from scratch!

In partnership with The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory Behind the Scenes Look

Last week I was invited to California for a private tour of The Cheesecake Factory Culinary Research and Development Center where all recipes are tested and created. Then got a behind the scenes look at one of the restaurant’s kitchens and treated to an amazing lunch to try the new fall menu items. It was an exciting trip and I’m betting you’ll have a whole new outlook on The Cheesecake Factory after you read this!

Get a behind the scenes look at The Cheesecake Factory! I got a VIP tour of the Culinary Center and revealing some top secrets and fun facts about how your food is prepared at one of America's favorite restaurants! Get a sneak peek at the new fall menu recipes with food bloggr Living Locurto

Fun Cheesecake Factory Secrets!

Here’s a fun secret that I never knew about The Cheesecake Factory… EVERY dish on the menu, yes all 250 menu items, are made fresh from scratch in each of the restaurant’s kitchens. Nothing is frozen or pre-made on the menu but the cheesecakes. Each head of lettuce is cut by a person, every eggroll hand rolled and each sauce is made fresh simmering for hours until perfect. For such a large restaurant chain, making the recipes from scratch is unheard of these days and what makes The Cheesecake Factory stand apart from the rest.

It was so much fun being invited for a behind the scenes look at the Culinary Center and having a chance to taste so many recipes!  The incredible aroma as soon as we walked into the kitchens was mouthwatering. Full of beautiful fresh fruits, vegetables, bread baking in the oven, bacon sizzling and amazing sauces I didn’t know if I could make it to lunch! Luckily we got to nibble things as we got the tour. Click here to see my Instagram Story about my trip.

Made fresh from scratch Th Cheesecake Factory Vegetables and sneak peek.

If you don’t know the background story of The Cheesecake Factory, it all started in 1978 when the founder, David Overton, wanted to share his mother’s cheesecake recipes by offering a variety of cheesecake flavors at his small Beverly Hills restaurant. Most people thought it would fail, because who would want different flavors of cheesecake? Fast forward 40 years and The Cheesecake Factory has became one of America’s favorite restaurants.

The founder didn’t know much about the restaurant business when he started and used fresh ingredients with no shortcuts. When he realized there were ways to have food pre-made and shipped, he already had a system that was working and never changed. All recipes are still made fresh from scratch to this day. What an amazing story!

Behind the scenes look at the Cheesecake Factory Culinary Center Kitchens

The Cheesecake Factory VIP Tour

Getting a never before seen look at the Culinary Center kitchens where the recipes are developed was definitely a treat! Donald Moore, Chief Culinary Officer at The Cheesecake Factory gave us a tour and introduced us to his team.  It was evident how much they love their jobs because many have been with the company for 15 years or more. We also got to tour a kitchen of one of the restaurants. The kitchens were so sparkly clean! It was great watching some of our favorite recipes being made from scratch!

Love The Cheesecake Factory? Go behind the scenes to learn top secrets, get a sneak peek at the new fall menu and learn how each dish is made fresh with food blogger, Amy Locurto from LivingLocurto.com

Crispy Brussels Sprouts

The first secret we learned was how they make their amazing Crispy Brussels Sprouts, an amazing new fall menu item. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was, because this is my all-time favorite appetizer! Fried Brussels sprouts and Brussels sprouts leaves tossed in salt, maple butter syrup, and smoky bacon, this dish is to die for! The chefs put so much time and care into each recipe. They actually tried about 500 different kinds of syrup over the years before they picked the perfect one. Wow!

The Cheesecake Factory Crispy Brussels Sprouts Recipe Living Locurto

Cocktails

Even the cocktails are tested daily! It was fun meeting the people who develop the drinks, because I love the Cheesecake Factory’s happy hour. They let me taste test some Passion Fruit Mojitos. I tried three different varieties… 1) mint was muddled 2) mint was torn 3) mint was not muddled or torn. My favorite was the drink with the torn mint. It had just the right amount of mint flavoring. I could really get used to this job!!!

The Cheesecake Factory Cocktails Taste test with food blogger Amy Locurto from LivingLocurto.com

When I told friends I was going on this trip, the most requests were for me to ask them why are there so many choices on the menu? The answer was straight and simple… the founder wanted a place where everyone would enjoy a meal together. His vision was to bring people together, so there would always be something on the menu for everyone. Now you know why the menu is so large. It makes total sense, because you could definitely try something different on each visit!

But what happens to all of that fresh food at the end of the night? I love that it’s donated to local food banks to help the community. Just another bonus of visiting your local Cheesecake Factory more often!

New Fall Menu

We got to try a lot of the new fall menu items and I’m excited to share the photos I took with you today! If you haven’t been to The Cheesecake Factory in a while, check out these amazing recipes below and head over as soon as possible!

 

Favorite Cheesecake Factory Recipes

We tried SO MANY menu items, but I have narrowed it down to my favorites to share with you today!

First, I fell in love with the Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes. These fluffy buttermilk pancakes with Ricotta cheese and lemon zest topped with strawberries is a speciality on their brunch menu that you can’t pass up!

The Cheesecake Factory Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

 

New this year is a chocolate lover’s dream, Peanut Butter & Banana Waffles. It’s a Belgian waffle covered with peanut butter, fresh banana, Nutella and crispy almond-toffee. Several people thought it was too much, but I could have eaten this entire plate! I’m a crazy chocolate person and there is no such thing as “too much” chocolate for me!

I’m actually going to use this as a bribe for my teenage son who loves chocolate. If he does something good, we’ll have to celebrate with these waffles! ha! He doesn’t like bananas, but that’s no problem because since all dishes are made from scratch in the kitchen, it’s easy to ask for them to modify something for my picky son.

The Cheesecake Factory Peanut Butter & Banana Waffles by Living Locurto

 

The Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Salad is a dish I would probably never think to order, but as soon as they brought it to our table, I knew it would be my new favorite dish! Perfectly grilled shrimp served over warm quinoa with avocado, corn, black beans, peppers, feta cheese with cilantro-lime dressing is so delicious.

The Cheesecake Factory Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Salad

 

The Cajun Jambalaya Pasta has always been my husband’s favorite. Just looking at this photo of shrimp and chicken in a spicy cajun sauce on top of fresh linguini is makes my mouth water! If you’ve never tried this pasta before, you’re missing out!

The Cheesecake Factory Cajun Jambalaya Pasta Recipe Food blogger Tour with Living Locurto

 

I’ve never ordered a Mexican dish at The Cheesecake Factory, but now I’m addicted to these Grilled Steak Tacos! These are SO GOOD! I think the crispy onions on top is what made them so amazing.

The Cheesecake Factory Grilled Steak Tacos Recipe

Take a look at more amazing fall menu recipes that we got to taste. Everything was crazy delicious!

The Cheesecake Factory amazing fall menu recipes

From top to bottom; Almond-Crusted Salmon Salad, Breakfast Tacos, Tuna Poke, Avocado Eggrolls, El Diablo, Roadside Sliders.

Mocktails

If you’re not a drinker, there are some amazing mocktails on the menu now. The Passion Mint Fizz and Citrus Sparkler are pictured below. My daughter would go crazy over these!

The Cheesecake Factory Passion Mint Fizz and Citrus Sparkler Mocktails

New Cheesecake Flavors

We couldn’t end our trip without having some cheesecake! We got to try a few of the newest flavors.

The Cinnabon Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake is layered with Cinnabon cinnamon cheesecake and vanilla crunch cake topped with cream cheese frosting and caramel. I thought it was incredible!

The Cheesecake Factory Cinnabon Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake

I was shocked that I actually liked the Very Cherry Ghirardelli Chocolate Cheesecake the best out of the two! What’s even better is for every slice sold, 25 cents will be donated to Feeding America: the nation’s largest organization dedicated to fighting to domestic hunger through a network of food banks.

The Cheesecake Factory Very Cherry Ghirardelli Chocolate Cheesecake Living Locurto

Thanks to The Cheesecake Factory for inviting me to be a guest on such a fabulous VIP tour and lunch! I hope you enjoyed drooling over some of these amazing fall menu items.

Let me know what dish looks the best to you!

The post The Cheesecake Factory Behind the Scenes appeared first on Living Locurto.

Living Locurto Retreat Recap (Giveaway)

Enjoy a recap of the Living Locurto Retreat! Get a behind the scenes look at what we do here at Living Locurto. Meet the talented new team who will be helping Amy create amazing recipes, party ideas and crafts for you soon!

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers. LivingLocurto.com

Living Locurto Retreat Recap

I’m excited to share this recap of the Living Locurto Team Retreat. I hope you will enjoy seeing some behind the scenes of Living Locurto! I’ve also got a fun giveaway for you today. Be sure to scroll down to enter!!

For 10 years, I have done most of the content here at Living Locurto all on my own with some contributors adding content occasionally. I’m happy to make a change and now have a small team of fabulous women. We had a great time away at a lake near Dallas, Texas connecting, learning, fostering our creativity and planning.

Meet Pam, Naomi, Natalie and Annaliese. I’m so thrilled to have them on the Living Locurto team!!! You can learn more about each of them here.  I’ll be sharing a lot of what we created for you over the next few months. You’re going to love it!

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers with Amy Locurto founder of LivingLocurto.com

It’s been raining so much in Texas, I thought we would get rained out. But we had wonderful weather! I knew it would be fun when we were welcomed by a full rainbow!

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers. Texas Lake Rainbow

I love planning retreats and the best way to start off a girls’ trip is with gifts!  The first thing that arrived for me to take on our trip was some beautiful flower arrangements from AboutFlowers.com .

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers. Fresh Flowers Roses

Did you know a new study done by the University of North Florida says that living with flowers significantly reduces daily stress? We filled our vacation retreat home with flowers and definitely let the stress float away!

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers. Fresh Flowers

Thanks to Gracious Bridal Design House, I had these fabulous personalized tote bags to fill with goodies for the team.

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers. Personalized Tote Bags

Each team member got a bag filled with goodies from Sur La Table, Red Duck FoodsGoverre and Original Jel Shots. Thanks to these companies for partnering with me.

Read to the end to enter to win some of these fun goodies!!!

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers. Goodie Bags Sponsors

First, we checked out our lake house. Can you believe this HUGE shower?? HA! We had to get in for a photo.

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers.

Second, we said cheers to a great weekend with our new Goverre portable wine glasses. These are  unique glasses that have a drink-through lid, be sure to check them out here. I plan to stock up for gifts!

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Meet the team of creative bloggers. Wine Glasses

Third, we pulled out goodies from our gift bags and got to tasting these fun adult treats from Original Jel Shots! They come in unique flavors such as banana and cinnamon. You can see all the flavors here. We decided the Blu-Razz (raspberry) was our favorite.

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Original Jel Shots

Another fun gift were sauces from Red Duck Foods, a small Portland based women-owned, company committed to making superior organic sauces. They’ve recently launched a new taco sauce with three fun flavors! I love supporting women-owned companies and really love these flavorful sauces. Be sure to look for them in your local market or order online here.

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Red Duck Foods

To practice our photography skills, I baked a Better Than Sex Cake with our new bundt pan from Sur La Table. You cake find the recipe here. It’s AMAZING!

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Better Than Sex Cake Recipe

We also made this amazing cocktail that I will be sharing soon! It was super fun to photograph and taste test.

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Cocktail Recipe

Since a few team members had never been to Dallas before, I made sure we took some time off to enjoy the Texas countryside and a fabulous dinner at a local winery. We also hit up a small town Whataburger, which is a MUST do when in Texas.

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Texas Winery

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Texas Winery

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Pool Lake House

A recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Best Party Bloggers

We had so much fun. I personally feel so energized and can’t wait to share more of the creative ideas we did at the retreat soon. Be on the lookout for a lot of fun content coming soon!!!

 

Enter to Win the Giveaway!

Now enter to win some goodies of your own!

Follow directions below on how to enter to win The Nordicware 1/8 Sheet Pans and 6 Cup Anniversary Bundt pan from Sur La Table. Giveaway value $56

Giveaway and recap of the Living Locurto Retreat in Texas. A behind the scenes look at the DIY Lifestyle, Food and Party blog. Best Party Bloggers

HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

  • Leave a comment below letting me know what you would have loved best if coming to the Living Locurto Retreat.

That’s it! I’ll pick a winner at random and announce on this post by Wednesday October 3rd.

Rules: Must be 18 years old or over and living in the United States.

Get a Second Entry:

For a second entry, go follow me on Instagram here. Let me know you did so in a 2nd comment below.

The post Living Locurto Retreat Recap (Giveaway) appeared first on Living Locurto.

8th Year of Blogging Celebration Giveaway!

8th Year of Blogging Celebration Giveaway with Living Locurto! DIY Party and Food Lifestyle Blog by Amy Locurto.

Hey friends, it’s hard to believe, but I’ve been blogging here at LivingLocurto.com for 8 years!!!

Blogging takes a TON of work, so I want to celebrate making it this far with a giveaway to say thank you for being here to celebrate with me!

All week, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Living Locurto recipes, crafts, home decor and party ideas from the past 8 years. There is so much… I’ve been having fun looking at the archives.

How to Make a No Sew Mermaid Tails for a Mermaid Party. Easy DIY idea for party favors and Little Mermaid girls. Living Locurto craft tutorial.

If you have read my blog from the beginning, you’ve seen my kids and pets grow up and hopefully been inspired to be more creative at home. If you are a blogger, I’ve probably seen your kids grow up too!

Fun Way to Give Money! Perfect for a birthday, graduation or special occasion! LivingLocurto.com

Remember when my daughter started her own craft show for kids back when she was 5 year old? She’s 10 now and we still get a kick out of watching them! She’s now a regular on my Facebook Live Episodes and Youtube videos.

I’m so thankful to have had so many amazing opportunities because of this blog. Throughout the years, I have designed product lines, worked with big brands and conquered my fear of speaking. It amazes me that I was so scared before!  Now I enjoy speaking to hundreds of people. I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to work with, mentor and teach so many other talented bloggers. It’s been a blast meeting Living Locurto readers and some of my favorite celebrities as well.

8th Year of Blogging Celebration Giveaway with Living Locurto! DIY Party and Food Lifestyle Blog by Amy Locurto.

I love the blog community and so thankful that you follow along and share with your friends. I’m happy to have been able to share creative ideas with you over the past 8 years. I look forward to continue doing more for a long time!

Giveaway Time!

Because I couldn’t have made it without you, I’m excited to be giving away one of my favorite things! I couldn’t decide on just ONE favorite thing, so if you win, I’m giving you the option to pick one of three of my favorite things.

8th Year of Blogging Celebration Giveaway with Living Locurto! DIY Party and Food Lifestyle Blog by Amy Locurto.

Not only am I celebrating my 8th year at Living Locurto, I’ve reached some exciting milestones on social media. In the last month, I’ve hit 200,000 followers on both Pinterest and my Facebook Page… and still growing! I remember when I had 1,000 followers and freaked out. I could have never imagined 200,000 people! What a blessing. I would have LOVED to have given away $200,000, but since that isn’t an option (I sure wish it was!! ha!), I’m giving away gifts valued at $200.

Here are the gifts you can choose from if you win…

Disney-Giveaway-Gift-Card

Anything Disney is a favorite of mine! A $200 Disney Gift Card can be used for both Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort tickets, which is what I would use the gift card for. But, if you aren’t traveling anytime soon, you can also use it at the Disney Store which would be great for Christmas gift giving.

 

KitchenAid-Mixer

I LOVE my red KitchenAid mixer and drooling over the white one for my new white kitchen. You can pick either the white or black mixer if you win. I will be jealous since I want that white one!

 

Amazon-gift-card-choice

I shop at Amazon.com weekly. Seriously don’t know what I would do without Amazon Prime!!! I love it and you are welcome to choose an Amazon gift card valued at $200 if you win.

Enter to win the 8th Year of Blogging Celebration Giveaway

Follow the directions below to enter to win. Thanks so much for reading Living Locurto. I so appreciate you! Please check back this week for more 8th year celebration fun. Good luck! (more…)

Buy Everyday Essential Oils YL

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Just Because – Life is Short, Eat Dessert First

Life is short. Eat dessert first.

Find out what happens when you make an effort to eat dessert first. Thoughts of dealing with stress from a professional DIY blogger and entrepreneur.

I have been thinking about the meaning of “eat dessert first” all summer long. If you didn’t know, I had something tragic happen in my life this year, so my outlook on the way I live has changed in many ways.

If you follow me on social media, you will know that I’m alive, but there haven’t been many blog posts from me here on Living Locurto lately. Around this time I usually have a whole week devoted to back to school goodies, tips for getting organized and new items in my shop. But not this year. This is just because I made the choice to take a break from blogging.

As a blogger or small business owner who is working to build a thriving business, you might gasp at this. If you’re a busy mom running around like crazy trying to finish your to-do list, or working late to make ends meet or a blogger killing yourself to create content, this article is for you. I hope you take a few moments to read it.

NOTE: Before you read this article, I wanted you to know that I have a special gift just for you. Just because! See details at the end of this article:-)

I’m back to work now, but took a break this summer JUST BECAUSE…

Losing my mind was not an option.

Mentally, I needed a break. When life goes out of control, or something bad happens to you or a family member, a dark cloud can loom over your mind. That cloud is depression and often exhaustion. I’m a very positive person, but have never in my life been to the point of breaking down in tears anytime or anywhere for no reason. This year that happened to me. It was scary! If you have ever been depressed, my heart goes out to you!

My medicine to beating depression and getting over things I can’t control was to take a break from the pressures of life when I could. I did fun things and spent time with people that make me happy. Since my mom passed away, I have no time to waste on drama or frivolous things. It often takes something traumatic to happen to make you change.

Find out what happens when you make an effort to eat dessert first. Thoughts of dealing with stress from a professional DIY blogger and entrepreneur.

Nobody can do it all.

To be the best mom, best wife, best friend, best blogger, best graphic designer, best boss, I have to make myself do only a few things at a time. This summer, I couldn’t move on with new things in my life without catching up on the things that needed to be done from the past. Can this really be achieved? I don’t know, but I have sure tried!

Grand Tetons - Jackson Lake Family Cruise - Amy Locurto Travel Blogger

 

Kids grow fast.

Seriously, I don’t know when my kids got so big? It won’t be long before they are going to college!! After loosing both of my parents at a young age, I want to enjoy my family as much as I can. I am holding on tight to my children while they let me!

This summer we have traveled together and enjoyed just being together. As a business owner it’s hard to say no to awesome new client jobs, turn down invites to cool events, or jumping on the latest social media craze… but that’s what I did this year and you know what? It has totally been worth it.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park. Amy Locurto travel blogger family vacation

 

It doesn’t really matter.

Driving the best car, wearing the latest trends, having the best body at the pool, being the the volunteer of the month, or being on CBS This Morning (which I actually did this summer!) doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

You can’t take your fancy car with you with you die. Nobody in heaven will care about your love handles and double chin. In another day or so, someone new in your world will be the beloved mom that everyone wants to have playdates with, they’ll be the business guru launching a new product, a friend invited to a popular event or a blogger writing a new book. That’s fine and dandy, but does any of that really matter?

Find out what happens when you make an effort to eat dessert first. Thoughts of dealing with stress from a professional DIY blogger and entrepreneur.

I’m so happy if amazing things happen to you! If you win a gold medal or gain a million followers, I’m cheering you on! But as for myself, I’m thankful for what I have, even if all of my goals haven’t been achieved yet. It’s all good and I’m fine taking time off to enjoy life even if my dreams get delayed. It only took me about 40 years to figure this out!!

Find out what happens when you make an effort to eat dessert first. Thoughts of dealing with stress from a professional DIY blogger and entrepreneur.

 

 

Life is Short… Eat Dessert First

In the last few months of my mom’s life, she couldn’t eat much at all. It was hard getting calories in her to keep her alive.

Rolo-Smores-Living-Locurto

Just because I wanted to enjoy my summer not glued to my computer, I took some time off to enjoy dessert. I drank sangria and ate chocolate with friends by the pool without worrying about how fat my booty looked. I went on some awesome trips with my family, read books, went to movies, slept late and snuggled with my kids and cat.

Yes, I worked, I cleaned, and I parented, but not everything got done such as updating this blog. Life goes on and it’s all okay. I knew the blog and social media would still be here and waiting for me!

This break gave me a chance to store up creative DIY ideas that I can now make when I’m less stressed so both you and I can enjoy them better! I started this website because I wanted to share the things I LOVE making to inspire others to live a more creative life. Managing a blog as a business is a lot of work, but now I will enjoy it even more, and plan to take more breaks when I can.

If you are burned out, I highly recommend taking a break. Mine was so worth it!

—> Don’t miss out on a FUN GIVEAWAY coming soon! I can’t wait to share it with you! If you are reading from an email, look in the right sidebar for a new free gift.

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Buy Everyday Essential Oils YL

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6 Tips for How to Use Periscope

How to use Periscope and 6 Tips for Doing a LIVE Broadcast the right way. By @livinglocurto

I’m addicted to Periscope! If you don’t know what it is, Periscope is a free app that lets you do live-stream broadcasts from anywhere. You can add it on your phone or iPad. It was purchased by Twitter in February of 2015 and was official launched on March 26, 2015.

I started “scoping” this summer when I went on my trip to Greece. It was so much fun sharing my travels via live-stream with friends and family! Since then, I have met some great new people, began a weekly Tip Tuesday segment, broadcasted my travels, shown behind the scenes looks of what happening at Living Locurto and shared fun DIY ideas.

I also just started something new that I’m super excited about called The Scope Movement! (#scopemovement) It’s coming soon, so be sure to follow me on Periscope at @LivingLocurto – you won’t miss our kick-off week!!

Periscope is completely LIVE! I love that there are no retakes, no fancy cameras or editing needed, nothing is perfect… it’s just what is happening at that exact moment and being able to interact with the broadcaster is pretty cool.

If you have a Twitter account, you can easily get on Periscope to watch and do your own broadcasts (aka scopes). Anytime a new social media channel comes out, I cringe because it’s just one more thing to learn. But, don’t worry about that, because I’ve got everything you need to know condensed in this post!

Should kids use Periscope?

I personally wouldn’t recommend letting your kids use this app, as it’s still new and I’m not sure there is a filter on adult content. Plus, there are often some creepy people who write nasty comments. My kids aren’t allowed to use any social media channels at all without me managing the account – so know that I’m a pretty conservative mom. But really, until Periscope works out the kinks, I would say to monitor your teens or just say no.

 

Amy Locurto - DIY Blogger from Dallas Living Locurto on PeriscopeHow to use Periscope

Download the App & Sign In.

The first step in using Periscope is to download it to your iOS or Android device. The first time you launch the app, you’ll be asked to sign in. You can sign in using your Twitter account or you can use your phone number.

Click the camera icon to start a broadcast. (aka a Scope)

Swipe down to stop a broadcast.

To Share a Scope:

  • Android swipe up
  • iPhone swipe from left to right

Tap the screen to give hearts. 

You can do this in both a live broadcast and the replay. Hearts are a good thing to do to show support and lets the broadcaster know you are watching. When you do a broadcast for the first time, you will appreciate the hearts because sometimes it seems like you are talking to yourself.

Only live viewers can comment.

Commenters can follow and reply to each other by clicking the comment. A popup window will show up with options.

Replays expire after 24 hours.

You can choose who watches and comments on your scopes:

  • Limit a broadcast to specific followers by clicking the lock icon before broadcasting.
  • Limit who can comment by clicking the comment icon.

 

Here are 6 Tips for How to do a LIVE Periscope Broadcast…

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Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto and Wholesome Grub. LivingLocurto.com

Last week Pinterest announced their very first Pinterest Ambassadors. I am so thrilled to be included in the list of pinfluencers across the U.S. to represent one of my all time favorite brands! Being the first Texas ambassador is quite an honor.

As a Pinterest Ambassador, I’ll be hosting local events in the Dallas, Texas area. This weekend I teamed up with Wholesome Grub, a family owned healthy food on the go restaurant, for a Spring Fling Pinterest Meet-Up. Pinners and their families came to enjoy a casual meet-up where we brought Pinterest to life. We actually saw the sun for the first time in weeks! I was so happy!!

Sara from Pinterest even flew in to join us. I love getting to know the Pinterest community team. They are lots of fun!

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto. LivingLocurto.com

Wholesome Grub was founded by three brothers who wanted to provide fresh and healthy food to the community. The first time I stepped into their restaurant, I loved it! The food was amazing, but the DIY decor was also super cute. As I began to eat there more often, I met one of the owners who told me they got most of their decor ideas from Pinterest. I love how Oscar phrased it by saying they were just a “bunch of dudes” who didn’t know how to craft and Pinterest was a life saver. What better place to have our first Pinterest event right?

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto. LivingLocurto.com

To plan for this party, I made a Pinterest Spring Fling board and began pinning ideas! You can follow the board here.

I wanted to share some simple party ideas that anyone could make this summer. Don’t you just love this edible bouquet of flowers? It’s super simple to make, especially if you order your cupcakes like I did! ha!

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto. Edible Flower Cupcakes Bouquet. LivingLocurto.com

Since we were at a healthy food restaurant, I made some fruit flower kabobs. I used spinach for leaves, but you could also use mint.

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto. Edible Fruit Flower Kabobs. LivingLocurto.com

The guys at Wholesome Grub served up the most gorgeous healthy dishes! Check out their menu here.

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto. Wholesome Grub Healthy Recipe. LivingLocurto.com

The kids had a total blast crafting and posing for photos!

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto. LivingLocurto.com

It was so nice to talk with old friends and to meet some new ones too! I love meeting others who also share the love for Pinterest.

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto. LivingLocurto.com

If you couldn’t make it to the Spring Fling Meet-Up, I hope to see you at the next event. Thanks to everyone who came out for the fun!!

Pinterest Ambassador Dallas Spring Fling Meet-Up Party with Living Locurto and Wholesome Grub. LivingLocurto.com

Follow Living Locurto on Pinterest for more fun DIY party ideas!

Stop by Wholesome Grub for amazing healthy food! Find them on Facebook here.

Photos by Tanner Ellison Photography.

Cupcakes by Haute Mama Dessert Company.

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