Tuesday, September 16, 2014

TIPS FOR DISNEY TRAVEL



Happy Tuesday, friends! Today, I wanted to share some photos and tips that you might find helpful if you are planning a Disney trip anytime soon. We returned home almost a week ago, but we are just NOW feeling like things are getting back to normal. We are the type of family that needs a vacation after vacation. There are two types of vacations in my opinion: one where you truly relax and get away and one where you just simply in a place other than your own home. Disney is so much fun, but so much work! So, I hope this little list of mine helps and informs in some little way.
I bought Amara a new little, lightweight backpack for traveling. I filled it with an activity book, candies, some new Doc McStuffin headphones ( which I don't recommend, as they are made for little ears so they have limited volume control. It makes them hard to hear on a loud airplane), and some crayons/markers and stickers. It was a short flight, so we didn't need much!!

Take a stroller fan - I purchased this fan two years ago, and it has served us well for two trips. For as inexpensive as it is, I would recommend just buying a new one each year. This last trip, the fan blades seemed a little worn out. Anyway, the fan is great for littles since it has foam blades (no ouchies) and it clips right on to your stroller. It is a lifesaver for stroller naps or just a plain ole breeze in the Florida sticky mess that they call "Summer".

Stroller it if possible - There is so much room for stroller parking around the parks! My husband and I just kept saying how happy we were to not be carrying around a backpack or diaper bag. Obviously, if you have a baby that still needs diaper changing, or you just feel more comfortable having your stuff on you, then a backpack is the way to go. Our daughter is potty training, and we simply carried one wallet ( my husband's) and carried our phones in our pockets. Everything else ( sunscreen, wipes, water bottles, ponchos etc.) we left in the stroller while we rode rides. It just freed us up to not have to carry everything.

Take ponchos - Even if it seems perfectly sunny and not cloudy outside, it is still good to have ponchos on hand. It is Florida.... it rains.... everyday. We went the first week of September and got rained on every. single. day. I don't mean a light sprinkle either. I am talking let your shoes dry out overnight kind of rain. I bought ours at Target or something I think. They are pretty expensive at the park! 
 Grocery shop - Just for two breakfast sandwiches, a kids' milk and two black coffees, our breakfast ran us close to 35 bucks a day! Think of doing that for every meal. It gets so pricey!! Especially since we are snackers, we thought it would be a good idea to go to a nearby grocery store and load up on bread, pb &j, yogurt, milk, fruit, bottled water, chips, and whatever else so that we always had something when we came back to the hotel room. We came back for lunch several days since our little one needed to nap. It really helped save money!! Then, you don't feel as bad splurging on all of the fun sweet stuff.

Buy Disney goods BEFORE you go to Disney - I know this sounds extremely cheap of me. However, let me explain..... When you go Disney with a toddler, they want EVERYTHING! We still bought Amara a princess dress ( compliments of Grandma), princess flip-flops, a Mickey T-shirt, a wand, and a doll. I think its a great idea to leave with some goodies in your suitcase to "gift" to your child throughout the Disney trip! There are Disney items to be found everywhere. Purchase them for a much lower price, and still be your kids' hero without breaking the bank. 

Stay on the Disney property - This is big for us just because we love the Disney experience! Two perks of doing this is FREE transportation to and from the airport via Magical Express. They even handle your bags for you!! It is a lifesaver! Also, you get to partake in "Extra Magic hours" at the parks. Certain parks stay open several hours later JUST for those that stay at a Disney resort. It cuts the lines down immensely, and its just an awesome experience!

Consider purchasing tickets in bulk - There are always deals on the Disney site (deal and special offers page)!My husband and I had a driver pick us up to drive us from our Disney hotel to Universal Studios ( where my husband had a show that day), and the driver told us that if you buy tickets in bulk, you can get park hoppers for as low as $30 dollars a day! WHOA!!!! When he said "in bulk", he was talking like 10 days worth of tickets. He said that you can get the ones that never expire, unlike the normal ones that expire 14 days after its issued, and save them for your next trip even. I can't find the EXACT deal he was talking about online, but I did find this page to be quite helpful as it talks about a very similar deal. Read under "Will you likely be returning to Disney?". We are definitely planning on bulk buying next year.
Side note: if you are a super safe kind of person, be sure and write down the serial numbers on the back of your tickets just incase you lose them. That is the only chance you have of replacing them.

Eat a Croissant Donut (Cronut) - Found at Epcot right before you get to the first "country"! You will thank me!
And Butter Beer (frozen) - Harry Potter.... I have no words. Our day at Universal exploring Diagon Alley was a highlight for me.

We also customized our magic bands online before we left for Disney! You can do this on their website as well.



Enjoy the Magic!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

HOMEMADE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR LITTLES

Well it's not even mid-September... so naturally it's time to post about Halloween. I was in Hobby Lobby today and was like...crap! Already? I wanted to share Ari's past Halloween costumes with you if you're into DIY'ing it. I totally got away with my choices when he was too little to come up with something himself, but this year it's his choice. Whomp whomp. Wild Kratts it is!

DIY HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

1. HARRY POTTER
This one is my absolute favorite! You know what a Harry Potter nerd I am. We tell Ari Harry Potter stories (the non-scary ones) now, so he loves looking at this picture of himself!
Outfit: khaki or black pants, white button down shirt, black or gray vest or v-neck sweater
Scarf: I knit this using this pattern
Glasses: here. I popped the plastic lenses out
I used an eye liner pencil for the lightening shaped scar :)



2. MARTY MCFLY
I still giggle at this one. Ari still doesn't really get who he was but people loved it! The Back to the Future Trilogy is one of Jeffrey and my favorite movies (next to HP obvs). 
Outfit: jean jacket, white button down with blue/red plaid, maroon t-shirt, red suspenders, red puffy vest, tight light wash jeans, white Nike high tops
"Look at them moccasins!"



3. THE ORKIN MAN

Ari is obsessed with our Orkin man, George. I think he thinks of George as a grandpa?? George retired last year, so it was only fitting to pay homage to him.
Outfit: white button down, pleated khakis, red hat
Details: I made the epaulets out of red felt with a white button sewed on. I just winged it whip stitched them on the shoulders BUT I did it backwards. The button side is supposed to point towards the neck of the shirt.
You can download the Orkin logo I made here.
Stick on eyebrows/mustache found at a costume shop.
I covered Max in little plastic spiders to make it more Halloween-y!
Tutorial for the spray can is below. There was probably a way easier way like using a silver coffee can, but I used what I had!
Punch a hole through the oatmeal can top for the rubber tube (bought at a hardware store)
Tape the tube inside and on the top of the can
Punch holes for the string before you tape the top on
Wrap can and hose with duct tape

4. CARDINAL
I made this for Ari's preschool costume, but count it anyway as a great Halloween DIY.
Tack/sew red boa around the turtleneck. I used yellow felt for the feet and attached it to Ari's crocs. For the hat, I glued felt on top of a foam visor from the craft store. You could always just stick feathers on a red hat and call it a day!



5. BABY NERD
This was my laziest costume but effective. Max already had the white onesie, cardi, and bowtie. I just put masking tape on Ari's Harry Potter glasses (above)!

Even though Ari is almost four and picking out his own costume this year... there's always hope for Max!

-L



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

30 SECOND RICE KRISPIE TREAT IN A MUG

Jenni and I were recently at a dinner with some of our favorite women telling each other our "real life" secrets. We like to keep it real here on the ol' blog, so I'll let you in on some of mine: 
* The first thing I do when I get home is unbutton my jeans. Duh. 
* If you're over at my house, know that I hastily hid and cleaned everything the 5 minutes before you came. I'm probably sweating and now you know why.
* Sometimes Daniel Tiger or Wild Kratts babysit my kids. 
* And lastly, I have nightly grownup secret eating time. 

The ladies were particularly excited about this recipe of mine: the 30 second Rice Krispie Treat in a mug. This was my j-a-m in college when all I had was a microwave and a mini fridge. And if you compare it to other snacks you could have, it's sort of healthy, right?
Ingredients:
Marshmallows
Rice Krispie Cereal
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray

1. Spray a large coffee mug with Butter Spray (about 5 sprays) just to coat the mug
2. Fill your mug about half full of marshmallows and spray the top with butter spray (about 3 sprays)
3. Put mug in microwave for 30 seconds (watch so the marshmallows don't overflow!)
4. Immediately pour cereal in to about the top of the mug and stir, stir, stir
5. Consume in secret from your children and husband
6. extra points for sprinkles, chocolate chips, peanut butter, whatever your heart desires.


Here is another easy and crazy fast grownup secret eating time recipe I'm pretty obsessed with. It's SO good. It's literally like the inside of a Reeses cup. But please, eat these warm!!

Any other recipes I need to know about??


-L

Thursday, August 28, 2014

DIY DOOR MONOGRAM - FOR THE LITTLES

Is it just my child that hoards "treasures"? Maybe hoarding is genetic, because he definitely gets it from me! Ari has a drawerful of little trinkets and toys that he doesn't play with all the time. Marbles, matchbox cars, "magic rocks"...they're all of course choking hazards for Max, so I decided to hot glue them into infinity. It's an easy way to personalize Ari's space in our rental and only $2 to make. Oh how I miss Ari's room in our old house. Dreaming about our new space we're building!
Click here for my holiday version of the monogram door hanger. Totally reusing it this winter!
STUFF YOU NEED: Glue gun, x-acto knife, pencil, ruler, string, paper mache letter (I got mine at my craft store for $3, but obviously I had a coupon for it!), and junk treasures.
 STEP 1: Measure 1 cm around the inside of the letter.

 STEP 2: Using your ruler to stabilize your knife, cut along the pencil line. Tip: score first, then cut without moving your ruler. It took me about 3 cuts to get all the way through the cardboard.
 STEP 3: Remove top and inside stuff, smooth down the edges of what you cut.
STEP 4: Using your x-acto knife, make holes at the top of the letter and use your pencil to make the holes a little bigger. Thread string through.
 STEP 5: Lay your treasures out to make them fit, then glue glue glue!
STEP 6: Hang up and be proud of your $2 craft!

STEP 7: Roll your eyes as your kid claims he wants to play with the toys you just glued even though he hasn't played with them for months. 

-L



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

OPEN SHELVING: STYLED


Hey friends! How was your weekend? My daughter and I hit the road this weekend with my husband, and although we traveled to an extremely ( miserably) hot place, I was just happy to not have to have our little family separated for those two days. I don't get to travel with him often.... well, like ever actually. So, I usually jump at the chance when there is room on the bus for me and the little.

It has been a pretty quiet Monday for us. We are tying up ALL loose ends on this kitchen this week, and we truly are almost done. I know I have been claiming that for a while now. When you are doing all of the work yourself while juggling a toddler and life in general, it all goes sooooo much slower than you could have ever planned. I am not complaining though! 

I took some time today (nap time) to finally style the open shelving in my kitchen. Up til now, I have just been accumulating dishes and throwing things up there without actually arranging and putting the final touches on everything. I knew I wanted lots of neutrals, with maybe a touch or two of color. 

I moved my rubber spatulas to a vase near my mixer for easy access while prepping baked goods. I am just faking it really, but I love the way it looks to have a little "baking station"

Most of my big plates were in the dishwasher when I shot these photos... oops! I found these recycled water glasses from a local general store here in Nashville called Whites Mercantile. It is a must visit if you are ever in town!
 I finally framed a water color print that I made LAST Thanksgiving.....oh, for our VERY FIRST post. Crazy!!
 Unfortunately, the colors and designs of some of my cookbooks that I love did not go with my kitchen color palette. I took off the cover to my Joy of Cooking book, which had bright red and navy on it, and it revealed this beautiful white and gold perfection! Then, I wrapped another cookbook of mine (which was bright yellow) in a charcoal floral wrapping paper. The three books look a little more cohesive sitting up there now.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BEAUTY OBSESSIONS

I wanted to share my favorite (MUST HAVE) beauty products right now! My budget is limited.... I don't wear makeup everyday, so I find it hard to splurge on a ton of beauty products just to try! I am the girl that will return the $8 mascara to Target if I didn't like it. To be honest, I scour beauty aisles whenever I am out shopping, and there are just too many new and fun products to try and not return the things that don't work for you. 

My actual claim to fame just normal, average, everyday life is that I am a licensed esthetician. I love talking about skincare and I would never tell anyone to try something that I personally didn't try or like for myself. So, with that being said, here are my top beauty obsessions now. ALL of these products make me feel beautiful and feminine. They feel luxurious, but don't have a hefty price tag. I can certainly get with that!


gel nail kit - Leah and I have both tried this, and we love it. I hate the price of a gel mani and the use of the harmful rays used to dry your nails. This kit totally gives you a gorgeous shine and makes your nail bed look thicker and healthier. It lasts an easy 5-7 days (depending on how much time you spend doing dishes) :)

simple wipes - I have really fallen in love with the Simple line. I also use the face wash for quick makeup removal. It is all so gentle on my skin, and its a plus that there are less harsh chemicals than in other products. I prefer these wipes over their exfoliating wipes! I use them every night before bed.

 fructis oil - I LOVE the smell of this stuff......oh so much! I apply is before drying my hair, and I get a sleeker softer look.
loreal blush - so pretty, so soft, reminiscent of a facial primer.

eyelid primer - I will try anything for a buck! e.l.f. actually will surprise you! I grabbed this primer in a pinch, and haven't felt the need to spend the money to replenish my Urban Decay primer that I usually use.

toothpaste - I have actually noticed a solid difference in the whiteness of my teeth. I have only been using this for about two weeks, and it has not bothered my sensitive teeth one bit. Loving it!You can actually go to their site HERE and get a coupon for your purchase!

 lip balm - Ok, this is the ONLY item not found at a drugstore. oops! I purchased mine at Anthropolgie. Who doesn't want to pull this beautiful container out of their handbag? So smooth and gives my lips a perfect summer dewy look.

suave hair care - Just try it! Love love love it! If you are a salon shampoo buyer, I challenge you to try this. Also, it smells amaaaaazing!

I would LOVE to know what some of your favorites are right now!! Got any you would like to share? pretty please?

-J

Friday, August 8, 2014

GUIDE TO ROAD TRIPPING WITH LITTLES

Every summer, our family vacations at our lake house in Northern Michigan. It's our little slice of heaven. The problem? It's sort of hard to get to. Flights are expensive, and we somehow miss our connection all. the. time. So this year, we drove! My husband was at Lollapalooza, so I was in the car by myself one day, then my parents drove my oldest the second day. It went really smoothly, so I wanted to share... any mamas out there getting ready to hit the road with littles? 

1. ORGANIZE. Organize the crap out of your car.
Back seat: 
*Structured tote bags (so they don't flip flop all over the place) of toys for each kiddo in reach of their car seats- more on this later...
*Blankets for nap time
*Hats and sunglasses (and lather your kids with sunscreen before you start- learn from my mistakes)
*These window shades- they just adhere to the window! No sticky residue, no suction cups. Love. 
*Cooler and snack bag

Front seat: 
*Large box of baby wipes
*Diapers and changing pad
*used plastic bags to be used as trash bags or wet/dirty clothes
*Phone charger
*CD's (Harry Potter audio books obvs)
*Secret grownup snacks

Trunk:
If you're spending the night half way like we did, pack the stuff you'll need at the hotel last for easy access. I packed each of our jammies, toiletries, and clothes for the next day all in one bag, so I wouldn't have to search through each suitcase in the hotel. 


2. KEEP 'EM BUSY
First thing to note... I don't have a DVD player in my car. Soooooo if you do, you're probably all set. But if you don't, read on. In each kid's tote bags, I brought age appropriate toys for each. Max is 9 months, so he gets bored easily with toys. I just packed a ton of little things I could hand him as he tossed them out of his seat when he was done. Ha! Ari is 3 1/2 and is able to really concentrate for a while. I had him go through all of his activities before playing with the iPad.

We also played a lot of games like I spy, car bingo, cloud shape-spotting, etc. 

Here are Ari's picks for iPad apps. I'd love to know yours! 
Comment below if I'm missing some of your favs. 


3. SNACKS. So many snacks.
I'd love to say I packed little ziplocks of fresh fruit and veggies for my kids... but at least I thought about it! Since Max is still too little for most snacks, I love to give him Mum-Mums- I can just hand him one from the front seat, and he can eat it all by himself. Ari is a snack monster and very food motivated, so I have healthy snacks but also "special treats" for milestones in the trip. In the front seat were secret grownup snacks as MY special treats. Anything crunchy and constant is a good way to keep busy (and stay awake). Oh and caffeine. Duh.


4. SCHEDULE + PIT STOPS
If you're able to, schedule your drive around your kids' nap times. Start an hour or two before nap time so the nap essentially breaks up the trip. I love to drive in the evening, so we can get some driving done when the kids are sleeping. 

Think about when your kids eat meals. Eating in the car takes up a good chunk of time for activities on the drive. Stopping to grab food for the car is a great time for potty breaks! Ugh. My first road trip with a non-diapered kid! We practiced a couple weeks before "holding it in" and it went pretty smoothly. I planned on stopping every few hours to pee, stretch, etc. 

On that note... when you stop, make sure to get your kids' wiggles out! I make up a game with Ari which essentially has him running sprints and doing jumping jacks! I'm that mom in the back of Burger King. You gotta do what you gotta do. 

Since we were driving in Northern Michigan, we were lucky enough to stop in some cute little towns on the bay. The perfect time to Yelp some restuarants. Found this little gem in South Haven. You know I loooove donuts! Excellent coffee at Julia's too. 

Worth it!

I hope your trip goes smoothly- as smoothly as it can be of course. 
And the most important things to take away from this are: 
1. wear stretchy pants
2. cut yourself and your kids some slack
3. try to make it fun! 

What are your tricks of the trade for travel? 

-L


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