During our stay at the We Ko Pa Resort in Fountain Hills, Arizona we were escorted by the lovely Gail Manginelli of GM and Associates PR to visit Fort McDowell Adventures. A sprawling adventure and entertainment venue set up two and half miles into the Sonoran Desert.
Set against beautiful mountains, there is something for everyone and I can't wait to share more this fall when we visit to experience what Fort McDowell Adventures has to offer hands on.
We started off our tour by visiting Rosa's Ranch, a charming Western BBQ cookout venue that can host 50-200 and can be rented for corporate events, family reunions, intimate weddings and more.
The authenticity was on point and I could picture shoot outs, wild horses, roasting s'mores over the open fire pits and the smell of BBQ wafting through the air. There were so many photo opp areas as well which would make for the perfect cookout keepsake.
The second venue we visited, La Puesta del Sol, was a breathtaking wedding, concert and corporate venue. The name means "the setting sun" and it's Arizona's best kept secret for one of the best places to watch the desert sunset.
Walking through you can envision a beautiful ceremony. Twinkle lights, built in stage and dance floor, bar and a fun and whimsical Dirty Docs saloon for photos or bachelor/bachelorette parties, the venue hosts up to 1600 guests.
Want to experience adventure in the desert? Beginning in the fall, you can choose where to begin. Take a horseback ride along the Verde River, participate in a real life City Slickers cattle drive, a drive through the desert in a Green Zebra Tomcar or cruise on a segway with a group of friends to experience the local desert plant life.
You can add a lunch or dinner option to any adventure to make it a well-rounded experience and the adventures are perfect for team building.
And for the full vacation experience, you can get a room at the WeKoPa Resort to enjoy a nice meal or a dip in the gorgeous pool to relax after your fun-filled day.
You can read our full post on our stay here, and view the highlight video we captured of the beautiful resort on our channel.
This post was sponsored by the beautiful WeKoPa Resort in Fountain Hills, Arizona. The review and all opinions are my own.
Walk on to the property at We Ko Pa Resort and Conference Center in Fountain Hills, Arizona and you feel as if you're truly transported to a luxury summer vacation alongside the Yavapai Tribe. Meaning "four peaks", We Ko Pa is set against peaked mountains that make for beautiful views morning or night.
You can watch our full We Ko Pa Resort VLOG highlight on our channel here.
The authentic music greets you as you head towards the lobby, taking in the sweeping mountain views. The summer smells of blooming florals and suntan lotion envelop you, and the taste of prickly pear jam comes to mind. A full sensory experience, our stay at WeKoPa was relaxing and fun and we can't wait to go back to experience the adventures available through Fort McDowell Adventures once the weather cools. We got to take a tour of the properties and excursions as a sneak peek - you can see those photos here!
The resorts attention to detail caught our eye as something truly unique. The homage to water and wood was breathtaking and was seen in the details from the rippled glass to the river stones leading from the pool, to the lobby and all the way up to the premier golf courses pro shop.
Upon entering our Junior Golf Suite, we felt at home. From the mini kitchen that made it easy to prep meals in room, to the cozy living room, the main living space made it nice to have a large expanse to play games, entertain our toddler and watch family movies cuddled up in the evening. The bedroom was a haven for good sleep with a luxuriously comfortable king size bed and black out curtains. The large chair and ottoman in the room was a dream for reading stories to our little guy to get him to sleep and for reading a novel once he was asleep in bed.
The bathroom included a lit makeup mirror which made getting ready a breeze and the jetted tub was the perfect touch for sore muscles after a day of exploring Fountain Hills.
You can view our view the full room tour on our highlight VLOG on our channel by clicking here.
After waking on day one, we headed to the resorts onsite restaurant, Ahnala. It was a large eatery that served southwest inspired breakfast, lunch and dinner and they were able to easily accommodate my allergies! For breakfast I got the Traditional Breakfast with eggs, gluten free avocado toast, plain breakfast potatoes and piping hot coffee. Doug enjoyed a breakfast burrito, (that was wrapped in egg instead of a tortilla!) and Grey had the kid's buttermilk pancakes. All of the staff we encountered, from check-in to check-out, were so friendly and helpful as well.
Before heading to the pool, I made a stop at the fitness center, which is quaint but offers treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and free weights. Enough to get in a great post-meal workout. I peeked in to the Amethyst Spa, and saw they had some amazing summer deals. You don't have to be staying at the resort to visit the spa, so if you're looking for a relaxing massage, a mani/pedi or a unique facial, give them a call.
Once we had a light lunch in the room, we headed the pool! It was PERFECT weather, 100 degrees and sunny and the water couldn't have been more lovely. The crowds were light and we were able to secure a few chairs in a shady area by the edge of the pool. Grey had a blast splashing and swimming with Doug and I, and I had a chance to lay out and work on my tan a bit with a book.
Conveniently located near Fountain Hills, Scottsdale and Chandler - there are many dining options. Aside from the resorts own Anhala, and room service options, the resorts adjacent casino for the adult crowd, Fort McDowell Casino offers dining options as well that are just a few steps from the hotels pool.
For those who love to golf, the resorts two world class courses (and home to Arizona's #1 golf course!) at the We Ko Pa Golf Club are beautiful year round. The rolling green grass against the desert landscape and iconic Red Mountains lends a contrast that is a sight to see. The golf course also features an on-site pro shop and an eatery that features classic favorites such as burgers, sandwiches and entrees with patio seating that features postcard-esque views.
Our second morning was spent venturing out to fun family activities you can see nearby. The Fountain Hills fountain park is a MUST visit if you haven't been before. For littles, the BEST offsite activity we found was visiting the Crayola Experience, just 25 miles from the resort at the Chandler Fashion Center Mall.
Fall-Spring you can visit Fort McDowell Adventures, located right near the resort. Horseback riding, boat tours, segway desert tours, Green Zebra rides, cowboy cookouts and more can be enjoyed and we can't wait to experience some of what they have to offer come September.
You can view our full post on Fort McDowell adventures here. Stay tuned for our full VLOG as well!
After a day out playing, we returned back to the pool to cool down and take a dip and enjoyed dinner and a movie cozy up in our room.
The next morning we headed home, filled with a million memories. It doesn't take venturing far to adventure and connect with your loved ones.
We are staycation lovers through and through and I highly recommend WeKoPa Resort for your next family getaway in the desert.
View their Summer Staycation rates and packages (starting at just $99!) by visiting their website:
My husband has always been stellar at surprising me. When we were dating and newly married it was tickets to my favorite concerts, earrings hidden on stuffed animals, nice dinners and, the one thing I joke is my love language, travel.
Vacations, staycations - if you surprise me with a vacation I'm pretty much goo.
Since having our sweet Grey, its obviously been harder to surprise each other with spontaneous getaways. However, for my 36th birthday this past week, my husband was able to pull it off in grand style. And it was lovely!
He had gone early to Cibola Vista Resort and Spa one day after getting off work before coming to pick up Grey and I and set up the room to contain birthday decor, balloons, fresh red roses, a vegan cheesecake and had packed the refrigerator in our penthouse suite (Arizona hotel rates are AWESOME in the summer, so you can get BIG rooms for lower prices!) for dinner and breakfast the next day.
The dreamy decor was modern farmhouse which made me feel right at home! The penthouse suite contained a full kitchen, dining area, living room with pull out sofa, a balcony with grill a huge bathroom and a king bedroom with its own large vanity area.
The beds were soooo comfy and the place felt homey and luxurious at the same time. Having booked two nights, Doug planned on us spending the next two full days at the resort which was the perfect length.
It was nice having this room because we grilled steaks for my birthday dinner and it was nice to have him grill them right on our own patio while Grey was able to play in the living room with me and we didn't have leave the room. After dinner we explored the grounds a bit and made our plan for the next day.
We slept in a little, which was so nice, and woke up and cooked a fresh breakfast of eggs, bacon and fresh fruit right in our kitchen then we headed for the pool for the day! (The hotel also has on site games, tennis and a full service day spa.)
The resort has two pools (one that is adult only, and then the large family pool) however, even when Doug and I stayed here kid-free, we opted for the family pool because it's the larger of the two. The water was PERFECT and Grey loved that it was a wading style pool so he could walk around and play in the water. The water slide is for older kids but it is awesome and was busy all day!
They also hosted food trucks the weekend we were there and played a movie on the lawn the night before we checked out which was fun to watch while we were swimming!
It was such a fun filled weekend in the sun and we can't wait to go back.
Have you visited Cibola Vista or a Blue Green property? We would love to hear your favorites as we are Blue Green Sampler owners and have some points to use!
*this post is not sponsored. This was a vacation we paid for ourselves.
Date nights are EVERYTHING once you’re a mama.
Married five years, and together for ten, my husband and I have always made date nights a priority. Now that we’ve welcomed our first little one, it’s become a little tricky to get away and make time to connect which is why planning and organization is key.
Date nights help recharge you as a woman, as a couple and reconnects you to your partner.
We keep a handy list of fun ideas nearby so that we don’t resort to the same activities over and over when we have time to slip away and I’ve compiled a list below of our favorite activities in the West Valley.
It was another deliciously exciting and eventful weekend at the GFAF Expo in Arizona this year.
The crowd was bustling, excited to try the newest sampling from some of the best gluten free and allergen friendly brands in the market today. The expo took place the last week of June at the gorgeous Renaissance Resort in Glendale, AZ where I spent the weekend with my boys.
I'd love to say the weekend was blissful and smooth, but after our first expo day and a wonderful night of delicious, healthy eats, swimming in the pool and grabbing frozen yogurt, the night took a turn when our little man took a fall in the hotel room, ending in a trip to the emergency room. He's ok now, but after six stitches and many tears (from all of us), we had to forego staying the night.
We returned the next morning (after closely monitoring Grey in the night and seeing that he was good in the morning), for day two of the expo. More on our wonderful hotel experience (aside from the hospital detour) is coming soon to Wanderlust, so stay tuned! Now, on to the expo!
If you caught my Instagram Stories, you got to experience much of the samplings and booths live along with me, however, if you missed it, this post will share my personal favorite finds and highlights of this years GFAF Expo of Glendale, AZ.
A long time favorite, Mikey's was in attendance with their Lemon Blueberry and Chocolate Muffin Tops. Moist and satisfying, the muffin tops are Paleo and perfect alone or on yogurt bowls, dessert bowls or oatmeal. Their traditional Paleo english muffins have been a longtime favorite of mine are a staple in our home for breakfast sandwhiches.
Thrive Life, a shelf stable dried food brand, great for easy meals and long term emergency food storage now offers full, pre-prepped meals that are nutritious and cater to various food allergies.
Grey's favorite, Enjoy Life Foods, had the CUTEST booth. It was set up like a little land to visit, complete with a maze of trees and a chocolate forest where you collect free samples along the way. We LOVE their chocolate chips for all things snacking and baking. Their Rice Milk Crunch Chocolate bars are also my go to indulgence for candy when I want something sweet and crunchy.
Canyon Bakehouse was the blogger sponsor, and were SO sweet to us! They fed us a DELICIOUS gluten-free breakfast and my favorite products were by far the blueberry bagels and the Hawaiian bread! So delicious and the family can't even tell they're gluten free.
Veggiecopia offered little travel packs of olives (a great snack for both mom and babe!) while Mozaic Snacks provided the most delicious pea based chips. The sea salt and salsa flavors were the BEST!
Other favorites included Grandpa's Kitchen, a new small company that sampled pumpkin cake using the BEST gluten free all purpose flour I've tried. (and I've bought many that are on the market today. GFC Bakery, a local Arizona bakery, also offers amazing pre-baked breakfast items, desserts and birthday treats.
Picazzo's Italian, another local Arizona eatery, is BY FAR our FAVORITE nosh spot for allergen friendly food and they were on site sampling delicious and fluffy gluten free vegan pizzas. I'm going to be completely honest and say we circled back a couple of times to visit, it was one of our faves and the staff were SO nice.
The show has inspired me to plan a BEST OF 2018 list of items ranging from breads to pastas, drinks to eateries around the U.S. that are the best in gluten free, dairy free and allergen friendly ingredients. I'd love to know what YOU would like to see, so comment below and I'll make sure it makes the list.
Summer means BBQ's, pool parties, vacations and Arizona's Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo. This year will be my third year in a row attending and I'm so excited to be sharing my journey once again and bringing YOU along.
Before I get into what it's all about, the products you can expect to try and taste and how you can get a ticket for free, make sure you're following me on Instagram (@noshandnurture) to be able to see my weekend at the expo live!
I make a point to attend most of the West Coast food expos and conferences, so I can be best equipped to know what gluten free and dairy free foods will be hitting the shelves, not just for my readers and clients but for my family as well. It's better to be able to get a hands on taste test before I have to shell out cash to try something I may not like, and I can then report back on my findings here on the blog as well as live through Instagram from the expo floor this month!
So onto the details!
The expo takes place JUNE 23rd and JUNE 24th
from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM both days.
If you want to say hi, I for sure will be there most of Saturday!
The official website offers directions, safety policy and more.
You can view the expected vendors list here, but below I named some of my favorites if you're looking for some new stuff to try.
Enjoy Life - The best dairy-free chocolate for noshing, baking and more.
Blue Diamond - Almonds are life.
Bob's Red Mill - The only way we cook up pancakes in our home.
Mikey's - They revamped their line and their muffins are now better than ever!
Picazzo's - Our FAVORITE Italian eatery for safe foods and ambiance.
Sprouts - I don't know how we'd eat without this store, honestly.
San J - The best sauces. Safe AND savory!
I know, I know you're wondering HOW DO GET A DISCOUNTED TICKET to sample all of this gluten free goodness? Well... I have TWO WAYS for you to save some cash, by either grabbing an early bird ticket with a 20% discount below or entering to win on my Instagram page.
GET YOUR DISCOUNTED TICKETS HERE NOW THROUGH 6/22 USING THE CODE ADVANCE
Presented by Enjoy Life, if you visit for no other booth other than theirs (except we all know we will all be sampling ALLLLL the goodies) Enjoy Life products makes the trip worth it. We are HUGE fans of their strict food allergy protocols and I feel so confident in their products in our home when it comes to wanting allergen free chocolate, snacks and treats.
I hope to see you all my Arizona locals there! It's going to be a GREAT time with great food, great friends and a ton of fun in the name of healthy noshing.
Will you be joining us?
This week Mr. Charming and I were sitting around the house after work, completing all the last minute details for Baby P's arrival and I got the urge to do something spontaneous and fun! With just 6 days out from my due date, I actually had energy on Thursday and wanted to sneak in one more date night while it was just us.
Wanting to do something different and away from home, we headed to Paradise Valley, AZ - just 20 minutes or so from us - to check out some old high school stomping grounds, like my old neighborhood and our old mall and then we planned to search for some gluten-free eats for a romantic dinner.
And we found the holy grail of Gluten-Free goodness.
Guys. I could literally order 90% of what was on the menu. INCLUDING drinks, appetizers AND dessert. This NEVER happens.
See that bread? That warm, moist foccacia? TOTALLY gluten-free. Made with tapioca, rice and potato flours it tasted HEAVENLY in a little EVOO, salt and pepper. Though I JUST put a little yeast back in after 5 years, I limited myself to one piece, plus a small toasted piece with my pasta, but you couldn't even tell it was gluten free.
Not only do they offer a fully gluten-free menu, everything is also non-GMO and they have SO many vegan options too! You can substitute Daiya cheese in any cheese dish or pizza and all of their meats are nitrate and nitrite free, as well as being free of antibiotics. An establishment where I can actually ORDER pepperoni or salami and not wonder if its sketch? SCORE. SCORE ONE BIG ONE FOR YOU PICAZZOS.
I think I'm in love.
So, on with our order and dining experience...
There were SO many things I was looking at, but I was remembering back to my decadent Italian experience at Vitello's and I was craving fresh pasta drizzled with with fresh herbs and olive oil, so my order was the following:
Gluten Free Foccacia Bread (which I of course shared.)
Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta with EVOO, Avocado, Tomatoes, Garlic and Fresh Basil
Mr. Charming's order was tres magnifique, and looked a little something like this...
And guys! You can GET THAT PIZZA, his decadent BBQ Chicken Pizza, gluten-free AND VEGAN. They have vegan chicken strips and Daiya cheese on a chewy-on-the-inside, crunchy-on-the-outside gluten-free crust. It's our new favorite out of all our favorites.
The staff was also amazingly sweet and are all so knowledgeable in allergies and celiac. It was such a wonderful vibe and it was really busy for a Thursday. Which is a great sign!
We are looking forward to visiting again after the baby's arrival and I have a few ideas for what will be up next on my orders...
Have you been to Picazzo's? If so, what is YOUR favorite dish? Seriously, because I'll add it to my growing list of must-trys!
Well, I have a new favorite Glendale eatery.
Which, OK, to be fair, isn't TOO hard to find since vegan & gluten free options are so few and far between here. I can count the places I can eat at in my town on one hand. And I still have fingers left over.
One day we will move back to a beach city that thrives on clean eats. But until then.
I was still super excited to find this place.
Celebrating Father's Day early, Mr. Charming and I were busy shopping around town and we got hungry. So I did a little search like I do for any local gluten-free or vegan eateries that may have popped up and was pleasantly surprised to find Fresh Healthy Cafe in Glendale, AZ at Westgate City Center.
This charming and inviting little cafe serves up just what the name promises, Fresh Healthy eats. From breakfast items (served all day!) to paninis and wraps for those who can indulge in the gluten there are many options.
For us non-gluten or vegan foodies there's a salad menu, a Quinoa bowl menu and a plethora of fresh juices and smoothies. Plethora is the word I use when I'm surprised by the volume of awesomeness a place offers. Almond milk and coconut smoothies, all fruit smoothies, coffees with vegan milk. Happy, happy girl.
Mr. Charming decided on the Turkey Bacon Avocado Sandwich, which I say if you can have bread looked and smelled amazing. He rated it a 4 out of 5 for taste which is high for a cafe locale. I got the Beach Salad minus the feta cheese and I had them add beets (for iron for baby and me) and tomato. I usually go dressing-less so the tomato gives it that moisture I crave in a salad. It was also topped with fresh blubes and avocado which made the flavors just explode. SO GOOD.
We paired our meals with Olive Oil Baked Kettle Chips & their Kale Pineapple Smoothies (SO GOOD).
They also have gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free cookies which I so wanted to get just because I could, haha, but I'm watching my sugar and trying to stay as healthy as I can to prep for birth, so I opted out. But the Cinnamon Sugar and the Chocolate Chip cookies looked divine. Maybe next time.
Have you tried a Fresh Healthy Cafe in your city? I'd love to know your favorite dish so I can mix it up next time! Leave it in the comments below.
I think we all reach a point where we take our "here & now" for granted. I've been feeling an overwhelming sense of wanderlust lately, not sure if my soul was pulling me to simply travel or to pack our bags and relocate all together. But it's been something. Strong and fierce.
And while things aren't always that simple, and it makes the most sense for us to be here, now, I needed to take a breath and make the most of the weekend and go on a date with my own city. Sometimes, right where you are can charm you if you let it.
So I picked out an outfit to set the tone for the weekend, packed some snacks for the day in case we couldn't find a safe eatery and we were off!
Mr. Charming was on board to be a part of the day, as weekends are our longest, most wonderful hours together in a week and so we mapped out some places that we'd never been before. (And they were only 20 minutes away!)
In Phoenix, close to downtown, there is an adorable street of shopping known as the Melrose District. Mr. Charming's aunt & cousins actually own a shop down there, Melrose Vintage, that has the CA-UTEST things and vintage shabby chic furniture. If you go, tell them Mandi sent you! Two of our favorite new stops we scoped out were Pearly Mae's (where I found a 1930's Stardust tea set) and Zinnia's at Melrose (where I fell in love with a pair of Ruby Slippers). Mr. Charming and I adore antique shopping so we spent a good couple of hours browsing.
After shopping we were getting hungry and I had heard of a marketplace on Instagram called Luci's Healthy Marketplace. I. Fell. In. Love. Not only did they have a quaint market STOCKED with some of my favorite Paleo & gluten-free products (I stocked up!) they also had a charming retro coffee shop and cafe.
The coffee shop offered an assortment of beverages including almond milk & rice milk lattes! However, having had my pre-natal B-12 smoothie in the morning, I was feeling a buzz and I was in no need of more energy stimulation. So instead I opted to try a new drink. It was carbonated water infused with ginger, vanilla & lime by Sipp. Pure, simple & less than 5 ingredients? I'm in.
Lunch was fresh & delicious. I had a salad topped with fresh turkey & avocado (of course, because avocado goes with EVERYTHING.) And Mr. Charming enjoyed a chicken salad with fresh tomatoes and toast on a bed of greens (which can be made 100% gluten-free! All their items can be!) We finished our meal with a little plate of gluten-free, vegan chocolate chip cookies that we shared as a weekend treat. We decided we are going to make this a date place for sure and come for breakfasts. After this visit I was feeling refreshed and I was already loving my city a little more.
After Luci's we headed to REI and a tactical shop so Mr. Charming could get in some camping shopping. Ladies, remember it's all about give & take. He perused shops with me and dined in my dream of a vintage cafe, so I enjoyed looking for all kinds of cool camping stuff with him for our next outdoor adventure.
After our tummies were fed and we were all shopped out we headed to another nearby shopping district closer to home called City North. We'd driven through it a couple of times and Mr. Charming had had work meetings there before but we wanted to check out a shop I had heard of called Pinspiration.
Yes, Pinspiration. It's a place where you bring your friends, drink champagne and do projects off of Pinterest! I of course bonded with the girl at the shop (she actually stated to Mr. Charming that she believed her and I were practically the same person, haha) and I made a mental note to bring all my girlfriends here with me. Whether they want to come or not. It's happening.
After a long successful outing we came home to play with our fur babies and crack open my newest find, the cookbook, Paleo Takeout by Russ Crandall, which after trying just one meal has pretty much changed my life of me longing for traditional takeout food of the past. The review is forthcoming - once the food coma subsides.
Until then, for those of you lacking a love, or even a like for the city that you call home, schedule a date. Go on Instagram, Pinterest or Google and look for a couple of new places you've never been before that fit into things that interest you. Scope them out, give your city a shot. Worst case, the date goes badly and you have a great story to tell the next city ;)
Do you have any great "date your city" stories? Or do you know of somewhere I need to check out in AZ to keep our relationship going? ;) Seriously, I've lived here a LONG time and haven't been to many places. I usually travel out of state to sight see. Leave it in the comments!
So, this past weekend Mr. Charming and I embarked on a Wellness Retreat. Read my post here on how to have a Budget Friendly Retreat.
There were definitely things I'd do different in the future, (this is the first one we've planned on our own) but it was nice to get away. I share below some of the activities, some photos, and of course, the food. The yummy, healthy, amazing, food.
I adored the quality time with my husband, and my friend Kym came by to lounge and swim and do mani-pedi's for girl time while Mr. Charming had to work. The food was delish, and the grounds were an amazing place to read. I could have done without the horrible cramps that threatened to ruin my entire weekend, and though I turned off the phone and left the computer at home, I'm going to aim for less TV time and complete removal of phones from the room next time to be 100% tech free. But all in all, a nice getaway.
We stayed at the Cibola Vista Resort in Peoria, AZ, near Lake Pleasant. The grounds were so pretty. I adore the expansive lawn and I spent time reading and catching up on books that inspire my writing. I also love fountains. So calming and serene. I thought about doing yoga down here, but it got quite warm out, so I opted to stay in and do yoga in my room.
This was the view from my rooms balcony. I left the doors and windows open while doing yoga and enjoying our meals. The weather was beautiful and we swam and soaked up some sun for natural vitamin D.
And of course, onto the food. Click each title to be taken to the recipe. Would love for you to share how you rejuvenate or what you do on your little weekend getaways in the comments section!
And of course I had to plan one decadent dessert. Completely refined sugar free, this deconstructed apple pie uses Nana's Cookie Bars crumbled to mimic a pie crust for a topping that is heavenly. Click here or click on the photo for the recipe.
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.