Director Jewels

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Around the World in One Summer: Worlds of Fun is OPEN AGAIN!

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this event. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 



I have lived in Kansas City my whole life, but I've only been to Worlds of Fun a handful of times and surprisingly - never with my kids! When I heard that Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun were reopening this summer, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to remedy that situation. My kids, of course, were thrilled to check it out! 


We haven't been to an amusement park in a long time and I wasn't sure what to expect, given how things have changed drastically everywhere due to Covid. Good news: we felt safe and easily able to enjoy our experience the whole day. 

Before we headed to the park, I downloaded the Worlds of Fun app on my phone. This made our whole day so much easier! Worlds of Fun has switched to a cashless system inside their parks, and the app allowed me to easily stash my park tickets, meal deal tickets, and drink tickets all in one place. We took advantage of the souvenir drink bottles - refills were free all day during our visit, and when we go back again, they will cost just $1 each (tax included)! 



My kids are 8 and 10 years old. Their favorite part of the park was definitely Camp Snoopy! Even though many of the rides are aimed at the very youngest park guests, there was still an abundance of options that my kids enjoyed (and begged to ride repeatedly). Our very favorites were Lucy's Tugboat, the Kite-Eating Tree, and Sally's Swing. I enjoyed the nostalgia that the Peanuts Gang created, and thought the whole Camp Snoopy area was very well-designed. There was just one entrance/exit into this zone, so I wasn't concerned about watching multiple entry points to keep an eye on my kids. 


The day we visited was VERY warm, but the staff kept kids smiling even while waiting for rides. We only covered a small amount of the 235 acre park during our afternoon visit, and we're thinking that a season pass may be in order for our family! We want to have time to go back and explore many, many more times. I'm not sure anyone could get through every single activity in one day....the park has over one hundred rides, water slides, and live shows - plus seven world-class roller coasters! It is called WORLDS of Fun after all, and no one has ever made it around the whole world in just one day! 


We are really thrilled to see this Kansas City landmark back in operation again after the uncertainty that Covid-19 has caused for the entertainment industry as a whole, and we can't wait until things get even more "back to normal." Our family was delighted with our Worlds of Fun adventure, and we can't wait to go back this year or next for future special events like Halloween Haunt and WinterFest! 

Want to go check out Worlds of Fun, too? The very best place to buy tickets is at WorldsofFun.com! Make sure you check the website and social media pages for the latest operating calendar updates. 

Thank you to Worlds of Fun for providing our tickets, meals+drinks, and family memories! All opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Post-Quarantine Shopping? Support Independent Artists and #ShopRedBubble!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sivan Social. All comments and opinions are my own.


If there's one thing an ongoing pandemic has taught me, it's to stop taking things for granted and to look for silver linings through hardship. Many people turned to online shopping during the pandemic - but for me, part of the fun of shopping is being able to make a conscious choice about where my money is being invested. I love finding hidden gems in the local business community and supporting them whenever possible! As a small business owner myself, I can't imagine doing anything else. So where can you find a silver lining in a pandemic-shopping world where all the local shops are closed? 

At the beginning of the 2020 quarantine, I was looking for face masks that would fit my personality as a theater teacher. I have a vintage/eclectic sense of style and that is not something that is always readily available in a big box store! So I googled "Broadway masks" and stumbled across a wide variety of options in a hidden gem of an online store - RedBubble.

Not familiar with RedBubble? It's a little corner of the internet where over 700,000 independent artists and designers have joined together to share their passions with the world. The company, founded in 2006, is located in Melbourne, Australia - but artists around the globe use the platform to gain exposure and offer their creations for sale.

My mask-searching was actually not my first experience with RedBubble - I have purchased several items from them over the past few years, including my very beloved stained glass window phone case. This case has held up to my incessant mistreatment of my phone (I drop it routinely) for years now! I wasn't planning to buy a new phone case, but when I saw this one, it was instant love. 





RedBubble is a fantastic place to shop since they are able to offer a variety of extremely unique items. Hundreds of designs can be printed onto just about any product that you could dream up - t-shirts, notebooks, stickers, laptop cases, clocks, blankets...you name it, they've probably got it! I have ordered from RedBubble multiple times in the past and have always been pleased with the quality of their items. I was so thrilled to pick out a few favorite things to share!


I've been obsessed with stickers since I was a child, so I gravitated toward the selection of stickers very quickly! A few favorites that I snagged include this plant sticker, an "I can't - I have rehearsal" sticker (#dramateacherlife), and this absolutely adorable bike sticker. Now if only I could find that purple bike cruiser in real life and keep it in my garage! I also could not resist this Together in Paris sticker, and plan to use it to continue to spread love for the greatest movie of all time. 


Savings.com is giving away six $50 e-gift codes and one $100 e-gift code to spend at Redbubble! Contest is open now through May 20, so get your entries in fast! And let me know what you find when you #ShopRedBubble!

Win a $50 or $100 e-gift code from Redbubble!


Thank you to Sivan Social for sponsoring this post. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Dear Eight-Year-Old Me #AmericanGirlMemories

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sivan Social. All comments and opinions are my own. 



Dear eight-year-old Julie,

Hey, it's me. I mean...it's YOU...twenty-some years in the future.  

I know that you've recently spent hours and hours poring over that mail order catalogue from Pleasant Company, featuring all those really amazing American Girl dolls. You know how you think you won't make it through another day unless you receive that magical "Molly" doll for your upcoming ninth birthday? I don't want to give anything away (so watch out because there are some major spoilers below), but I can't help it - I just have a feeling that you might want the inside scoop on how things are going to turn out. 

Sure enough, that beautiful doll is going to find its way into your arms when you turn nine. #BestBirthdayEver, right?! She's going to become the best friend you can imagine! You're going to bring her with you everywhere. You might have a panic attack when she's loved so well that her leg falls off - but don't worry! After a quick trip to the American Girl hospital, she'll be back with a shiny balloon and your adventures can continue. 


A few years after you turn nine, you're going to be absolutely thrilled to receive a Samantha doll, as well. She may not go on quite as many adventures with you as Molly did, but you're still going to love both of them with all your heart. You'll keep them long past childhood because you can't imagine giving them away. Besides...what if you have a daughter someday? 


But, that's a long way off. Between now and then, you'll continue channeling your love for American Girl by recommending the books wholeheartedly to every child who you encounter when you're working as a librarian. You'll be the founder of an "American Girl Book Club" and bring kids together routinely to share their thoughts about each of the different characters. Over time, you'll help many, many students learn how to use old-time skills to make crafts and keepsakes inspired by these characters. You'll host more American Girl themed tea parties than you can remember, and you'll smile every single time a child learns something through the eyes and experience of these girls you've always loved. And yes - your Molly and Samantha dolls will be along for the ride throughout all of this. 



Around ten years from now, you'll finally make it to New York City - where you'll excitedly take your girlfriends on your first EVER trip to American Girl Place. You'll spend more time there than anywhere else near 5th Avenue, and you'll be wishing you could bring home the entire collection! From that point on, anytime you are in New York, you'll make it a point to stop and visit the store. 



However, the best thing that's going to happen is even further down the road. In 2020, you're going to have your own little girl who's turning eight years old - and that's going to be even more special than you can dream right now. That little girl is going to wholeheartedly embrace your love for these dolls and their world, and together, you're going to live through the magic all over again. There is something incredibly special about passing on your treasured keepsakes to your kids. Don't believe me? Just you wait and see how spectacular it is when the only thing she wants for her eighth birthday is that Samantha doll of yours. 


She's going to read the books over and over again. She'll giggle when Samantha teases Eddie Ryland. She's going to make secret presents and sneak them under the tree on Christmas Eve so she can feel like a Christmas secret-keeper like Molly. She's going to say "Mom, do you know what Felicity and Elizabeth keep calling Elizabeth's sister?!" And after you reply "Bananabelle, of course!," you'll both laugh and laugh. 


Oh, and her Halloween costume that same year she turns eight? It's a matching Samantha dress from Pleasant Company (but don't get too jealous of your kid....even though I know you'd die of excitement if you had that dress in your collection).  

Eight-year-old self, there's a little something more that I think you should know. Those characters and their stories are going to become such a big part of who you are. They're going to help define how you see the world. You're going to remember Felicity's loyalty, Kirsten's pioneer spirit, Addy's quest for freedom, Samantha's hopes for justice and equality, and Molly's patriotism and spunk - and each of those things is going to contribute to the woman you grow up to be. But it won't stop there! You'll be able to share those same stories and so many more with your own daughter, and watch her form her own thoughts and opinions about how to tackle the world as she grows up...your very own little world-changing American Girl. 

It's going to be beyond beautiful.


If you are looking for a gift this year, consider an American Girl doll - it may end up becoming a family heirloom (like ours have). We had to add a Julie doll to our collection this year because...well, that's my name! And to those of you who might be wondering....no, my daughter Addie was not technically named after an American Girl character. But with both of our names represented in the historical character collection, we kinda think we're gonna be American Girl fans for the long haul. 

American Girl is offering free shipping on orders of $135+ this holiday season! Leave a comment and let me know which doll was your favorite growing up...and which one you would choose now! 

Thank you to Sivan Social for sponsoring this post. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Hairspray at Kansas City Starlight Theatre {Review}

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this event. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 


The cast of Hairspray. Photo by Andrew Mather. Photo courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

Welcome to a whirlwind of energy, laughter, and pure joy - Hairspray has arrived at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre and it is a show not to be missed!

Erin Riley as Amber VonTussle, Don Denton as Corny Collins, Eric Geil as Link Larkin
and the cast of Hairspray. Photo by Andrew Mather. Photo courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

Hairspray originally opened on Broadway in 2002 and went on to win eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The show hasn't been at Starlight since 2006, so this is a welcome treat to the season lineup this year!

Broadway veteran and two-time Tony nominee Brad Oscar leads the cast as Edna Turnblad. Oscar was previously seen at Starlight in The Producers in 2010. The supporting cast boasts the talent of many Kansas City actors and the local support was evident throughout the show during opening weekend as the crowd cheered for their favorite performers.

Brad Oscar as Edna Turnblad, Jessica Alcorn as Tracy Turnblad and the cast of Hairspray.
Photo by Andrew Mather. Photo courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

If you're not familiar with the story, here's the synopsis from Starlight Theatre:

Set in 1960's Baltimore, Hairspray tells the story of 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad, who intends to groove her way onto TV's most popular dance program, "The Corny Collins Show." After auditioning and winning a role with the show's dance company, Tracy becomes an overnight sensation and uses her nnewfound influence to advocate for the show's racial integration. With the help of her fellow cast mates, Tracy tries to change the workd, dethrone the reigning Teen Queen and win the affections of heartthrob Link Larkin...all without denting her 'do!

Stephen Scott Wormley as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Katie Karel as Penny Pingleton and the cast of Hairspray.
Photo by Andrew Mathers. Photo courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

The cast was full of energy and it was easy to believe that they were enjoying the evening just as much as those of us in the crowd. Kansas City natives Jessica Alcorn (Tracy Turnblad) and Eric Geil (Link Larkin) took us on a wild journey as they learned to stand up to those who opposed change and progress. Standout characters included Stephen Scott Wormley (Seaweed J. Stubbs), who spent much of the show wowing the attendees with his flexibility and dance skills, and Katie Karel (Penny Pingleton), who continually brought those of us in the audience to uproarious laughter with her wit and antics. 

Catch the show before it's too late - it's playing now through August 2!

The cast of Hairspray. Photo by Andrew Mather. Photo courtesy of Starlight Theatre.

Tickets for Hairspray at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $14+. Tickets are available online at Starlight Theatre, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m.

Thanks to Starlight Theatre for providing my tickets to the show. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The King and I at Kansas City Starlight Theatre {Review}

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this event. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 


Elena Shaddow and the royal children in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

It's summer in Kansas City again, and that means that it's time to spend some evenings out under the stars at the iconic Starlight Theatre. Starlight has a lineup of many Broadway shows to entertain and astound you this year - and this week is your chance to catch the Lincoln Center Theater Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

Elena Shaddow as Anna Leonowens in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

The King and I originally opened on Broadway in 1951 and played for nearly three years. It has since had many revivals, most recently at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, where the production won four Tony Awards in 2015.

Elena Shaddow, Baylen Thomas and Rhyees Stump in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

If you're not familiar with the story, here's the synopsis from Starlight Theatre:

One of  Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works,  THE KING AND I boasts a score that features such beloved classis as "Getting To Know You," "Hello, Young Lovers," "Shall We Dance," "I Have Dreamed," and "Something Wonderful." Set in 1860's Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, whom the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

Jose Llana and Elena Shaddow in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

This production, led by Jose Llana (The King of Siam) and Elena Shaddow (Anna Leonowens), is absolutely visually stunning to watch. It was not difficult to believe that we had left the Western world and entered into an unfamiliar, breathtaking place in Siam. The Tony-Award winning costume design by Catherine Zuber left me wishing I could touch each of the vibrant colors and rich textures of the fabrics used. I could have watch Anna dance in the "Shall We Dance?" ballgown for much longer than the song allowed!

The cast is strong and supports each other well. Overall, this production is well worth spending an evening under the stars for - and you will have missed something truly wonderful if you let it leave Kansas City before you've seen it!

Q Lim as Tuptim and Kavin Panmeechao as Lun Tha in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Tickets for The King and I at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $14+. Tickets are available online at Starlight Theatre, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. Evening performances begin at 8 p.m.

Thanks to Starlight Theatre for providing my tickets to the show. I received no other compensation and all views expressed are my own. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.
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