Curls and Pearls

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Shopping...On a Budget




Shopping and budgeting don't generally go hand in hand, and it can be so tempting to just throw our budget out the window when Christmas time approaches. Credit card companies are trying to lure you in to a debt trap, and there is so much pressure to buy bigger and better gifts every year. I know. It's hard. 

Here are some helpful tips that work for our family when getting ready for the Holidays.

1) Remember that Christmas isn't about presents. Nope not at all, it's about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Do we give presents? Why yes, we do. We give and get gifts because it's fun, it's tradition, and it's a birthday party for crying out loud! What you shouldn't be doing is strictly focusing on the gifts, trying to one-up your neighbors or your child's schoolmates. There is constant pressure to buy the most expensive new gadgets or the $100 name-brand rain boots your teenager seems to think they cannot live without. I cannot for the life of me understand paying an exorbitant amount of money for rubber boots, I just CAN NOT. {off soapbox} Don't fall in to the trap of purchasing gifts that you can't afford or plain out don't need just to "keep up" with society.

2) Set your budget at the beginning of the year for Christmas. Okay so it may be a little late for this one this year, but at least you can go ahead and get ready for next year. Many banks and employers offer a Christmas Club account. You can deposit a set amount of money every paycheck in to this account and it pays out in November. There is usually a penalty for drawing the money out early in order to encourage you to keep the money in the account for its purpose. You won't even notice you are saving and when Christmas rolls around you have enough money to cover what you are planning to spend.

3) Don't go in to debt for Christmas. DO NOT go in to debt for Christmas, it's just not worth it. Remember what I said about Christmas not being about presents? Don't buy things you cannot afford just for the sake of buying Christmas presents. Make your traditions less about gifts and more about spending time with friends and family. Maybe cook a special breakfast Christmas morning or bake cookies together Christmas Eve. Memories with friends and family are what your children will remember, not the gifts they receive.

4) This may get me in to trouble, but for the sake of being honest I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I save gifts given to my child during the year, maybe for a birthday or maybe even the Christmas before and re-gift them to her. I know this is limited to age because at some point she will figure out my tricks, but many times she gets so many gifts she can't keep track of what she received. {She's a very blessed little girl.} I will sneak away gifts and put them in a special hiding place for a later date. These gifts then re-appear at Christmas time. No money was spent. Sue me.

5) Shop for the best deals. This doesn't mean you have to go out at midnight on Thanksgiving and risk your life in the freezing cold to save $5. I can promise you, I can't hang with the Black Friday crew. We do most of our Christmas shopping online. Why? I can get cashback on my purchases through Ebates. What is that? Check out my post {HERE}. I can also usually do a quick google search and find the best price on what I'm looking for. I can then search out a coupon code for the website I'm purchasing from. And then after I purchase I get cashback from Ebates. I'm also saving gas money and getting to shop in my bed in my pj's. WIN. 

Don't let Christmas become a stressful time for you or your family because of money. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It's also about creating traditions and memories with friends and family. And maybe about gaining 10 pounds eating red velvet cake {cough, cough Aunt Kathie you know I like my cake}. It's not about who can spend the most money. Don't wake up on New Years morning facing a credit card bill you can't pay.

Friday, November 20, 2015

LuLaRoe Review and CONTEST GIVEAWAY



My top five criteria for purchasing clothes for myself are:

 1 - Comfort
 2 - Modesty
 3 - Quality
 4 - Price
 5 - Style

Maybe not in that exact order, but those are definitely the check-offs that every piece of clothing should have before it's new home becomes my closet.

A few months ago I was approached by a childhood friend of mine turned rock-star mother and military wife about hosting a pop-up boutique for a clothing line she was carrying. This was my first introduction to LuLaRoe.

Let's pause and answer a couple of questions I KNOW you are thinking.

What is a {pop-up boutique}?

In short, a LuLaRoe Fashion Consultant will bring and set up a boutique in your home while you visit with your friends, meet new people, shop a little (or a lot), and earn free product at the same time!

I hosted an event just like this a few months back and it was a hit! I got to visit with friends and family while shopping, that's a no-brainer good time if you ask me. We had good food and good company, because in the South food is a must at all events. I also scored an entire free outfit for myself!

I may have even made a purchase of my own, which has quickly become one of my favorite pieces in my closet...

{The Amelia Dress}



It is SO SO difficult for me to find dresses that are long enough. I need dresses I can wear to work, to church, and out with the Hubby. I need versatility, and this dress has it! Not to mention it has pockets. HELLO, POCKETS. A necessity in every skirt and dress if you ask me.

Can't host a boutique party in your home? That's okay, she does online parties too!

What is LuLaRoe?

It's a consultant based clothing company founded by a single mother raising seven children trying to balance her work and home life. Their clothing is high quality, modest, and made for all shapes and sizes of women. They even have clothes for little girls too! Mini d already has two dresses she is waiting to grow in to. She picked them out for herself, chosen because of their excellent twirling ability.

A few weeks ago that same friend that introduced me to this brand I had come to love made me an offer I couldn't refuse. She decided to send me some pieces to review and all I had to do was be honest and write a blog about it. Ummm...was this even a question?!

I was ecstatic to open up the package and find this top. It is pure PERFECTION and Daddy d liked it too...wink wink. The material is sweatpants and a cup of coffee on a cold day comfortable and it seriously fits like they had me in mind when they made it. The variety of patterns and colors this top comes in makes me want more.

Let me introduce you to {The Randy}...



She also sent me the softest leggings I have ever put on my body. And yes I did just say leggings. There are no words to even describe the level of comfort these leggings reach. This particular print was sent to me as a surprise and I normally wouldn't have picked them out for myself. I know I won't be wearing them in the office anytime soon, but I'm thinking this will be my new weekend uniform. What do you think?



The top I'm wearing is a freebie I got from hosting my pop-up boutique. It's called {The Irma}. Let me just say, I also need more of these. They make leggings as pants possible, which I'm usually 100% against. This top is long enough in the back to more than cover all of the necessities and then some. Keeping modesty in check.

What makes this brand different?

I think this is a mixed combination, and that's what makes it so great. The prices are about middle of the road, but once you consider what you are getting for the cost it really becomes irrelevant. The styles are vintage and unique, unlike anything I have ever seen at a local boutique or department store. The quality is exceptional and so I don't mind spending a little more when I know I am purchasing something that will last for years to come. Finally, there is the modesty factor. With all of the micro-mini skirts and crop tops running around it is SO difficult to find clothes that are modest and still stylish AND current. I love that these options allow me to feel cute, comfortable, and maintain my modest values at the same time.

How do you shop and what do you do if you want to set up a {pop-up boutique} and earn free clothes for yourself?

This is the exciting part! My LuLaRoe Rep has agreed to an AWESOME giveaway for you guys! Here are the details...

Click this {LINK} and like her LuLaRoe Facebook Page to follow it, make sure you tell her my blog sent you there. Next week she will open up a Black Friday Event just for all of us! For every purchase you make in the event you will be entered for a chance to be chosen as a Mystery Hostess.
What does this mean? You will get the incentives of a party hostess, which means for every 10 pieces purchased in the event you will get one free item of your choice. Yes, I did just say FREE clothes! You don't want to miss this event.

In the meantime go check out her Facebook page and pin your favorite look from the blog to Pinterest!


DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.

Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of valuable information. Thank you, in advance for your support!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Disney World with a Toddler



As excited as we were about our trip to Walt Disney World I was terrified at the thought of trying to conquer it with a toddler. There were so many unknowns. How would she handle waiting in line? What about trying to actually sit down and eat at a restaurant? Would she be scared of the characters?

We heard horror stories of meltdowns and tantrums. So how did we prepare for Walt Disney World with a toddler and how did it work out for us? My plan is to detail some of our biggest concerns, explain how we prepared for them and how they actually ended up working out. 

Fears...fears of the dark, rides, fireworks, and characters?



Mini d is notorious for saying she is scared of the dark. She had never really riden any rides before so we weren't sure how she would react. And let's just say our experience with Santa at the mall last year was less than ideal. All signs pointed to setting ourselves up for failure. 

Knowing this going in to it we tried to prepare her for what was to come. Months before our trip we started watching parades and firework shows for Walt Disney World on Youtube. We talked about the characters as they went by, and we got excited about the fireworks. We really built it up as something that was going to be really fun and not scary at all. 

Anytime we were outside at night and she mentioned being scared of the dark we would say that the dark is silly and not scary. We would laugh at the dark because it was so silly. We also purchased glow necklaces and bracelets from the Dollar Tree before our trip that we wore the entire time we were there. These glow accessories lit us up on dark rides and at night, they were even great for attaching to our stroller and making it easier to find at night. 

Although she was shy and a little intimated by meeting the characters she was never scared. She never got scared of the fireworks or the dark because she was prepared for them. She knew what to expect because we had watched it all countless times on Youtube leading up to the trip. 




What about trying to have a sit-down-dinner?

Eating out with a toddler is it's own form of torture for many parents, let's be honest. Between having to {go potty} every five seconds and needing to get down and explore it's challenging to say the least. Character dining is a must. Meeting the characters gave mini d an incentive to stay seated. We also kept coloring books in our backpack to pull out whenever she was getting really impatient.




Waiting in line...my biggest worry.

Standing in a line waiting with a toddler seems almost impossible. I'm thankful we never really had to wait for a long time. Our longest line was about 25 minutes. Using the Fastpass system and getting to the parks EARLY was our biggest help. We also used the Disney app to see what rides we could go on that didn't have a long wait and planned around those rides. Things that helped when we were waiting were pulling out bubbles from our backpack to play with or talking about the ride that we were about to go on and watching other people ride it when we could see what was going on.

Naptime meltdowns...

I read a million blogs leading up to our Disney trip on how to avoid an over-tired toddler. What I learned after our trip was that every child is different. We planned our days around going back to the room at lunch for a nap and to eat. In actuality mini d slept in her stroller in the parks just fine. When we got back to the room for our break she was already rested up and looking for something else to do. Usually she ended up at the splash pad until we were ready to hit the parks again. I say that to say if they are going to have a meltdown they are probably going to do it regardless. Know your kid. If you have a toddler that won't sleep in a carrier or a stroller you may have to go back to the room. Or you might have a child that will be just fine sitting in a shaded area napping in their stroller while you people watch. In our case daddy d would head off to the single rider line on many of the roller coasters while I sat with mini d during her naps. I don't ride ANYTHING scary so this was the perfect opportunity for daddy d to get in his "thrill riding". Or we would enjoy a nice quiet quick service lunch during her nap time. 



The best tip we received was to take our time and not try to do EVERYTHING. We didn't over-schedule meals and if we had to skip a fastpass we just skipped it. We didn't wait in long lines for characters or rides. If the line was long we went on to something else. Disney is not something you can do in just one trip. We knew we were going back so we did what we could and are saving the rest for another trip. If you are anything like us you will develop a love for the mouse and will be back time and time again. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Christmas Wish List

My favorite radio station started playing Christmas music this morning, we've watched our very favorite cheesy-Christmas ABC Family movie on Netflix {The Mistle-Tones}, what can I say, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


Yes, I am one of THOSE people. I started buying Christmas presents last January.

I may already have 90% of my Christmas presents bought, but what's on MY Christmas wish list this year?

I started making a wish list on Pinterest this year for myself, because every time my husband asks me what I want I draw a blank. Honestly, I don't NEED anything. I don't like jewelry or flowers or chocolates so that makes me especially hard to buy for. I also don't like spending money on materialistic items, again making me hard to buy for. Sure I will take a trip to Disney World, or a privacy fence for my backyard, but he wants to buy something just for ME. Weird concept. I'm trying to be prepared this year.

Leather Booties. I love this look for Fall/Winter. I'm still not 100% sure I can pull this off, but it won't stop me from trying.


A good, sturdy leather bag. Something I can wear year-around and doesn't show wear easily. I don't like changing out my purse and I don't want something I have to replace within a couple of months.

If you'll remember I got a very similar bag in my last Stitch Fix, but just could not justify spending the money on myself, AND it wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I'm still holding out for the {perfect} bag.

Truth be told I had this exact pair of shoes for about five years, through college. After college I'm not sure where they went, and I have been longing for them ever since. I just haven't been willing to spend the money on myself to replace them!

Lots of browns and neutrals, I know. I may be totally boring, but this is as {un}practical as I think I can get. These pieces are more expensive than I would be willing to pay usually, but I would be ecstatic to receive any one of these for Christmas from the hubby. 

What's on your Christmas wish list???






Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Walt Disney World: On A Budget



My version of a successfully budgeted vacation is getting the best accommodations you can afford for the least amount of money. If you can't pay for your vacation without putting it on credit cards and building debt you don't need to go. Period.

That being said, there are ways to reduce the burden of paying for your Walt Disney World vacation. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Stitch Fix: # 3, A Review


I don't think I could be any more excited that I'm FINALLY receiving my third Stitch Fix!!!

Ok maybe I could be more excited, this is my excited face...


HA! You should know that this is completely awesome, and oh so addicting. This is my fair warning...

So what is it?

You know I love a good subscription service, or at least trying it. This is similar except you get to pick when you want it shipped. You also get to pick how often you want them, or only schedule one. You aren't signing up for something that you will get every single month, unless that's what you choose. You can change it at any time!

You get to choose your price point. I, of course, selected the option for {the cheaper the better}.

After you sign up you complete a style profile, which I actually thought was kind of fun. You can even link your Pinterest board to the profile, which I recommend doing! Based on your preferences a stylist, assigned specifically to you will pick out 5 items for you. These items may be clothes or accessories. You pay a $20 styling fee, but that $20 can be applied towards your final purchase.

It's not all or nothing. You can choose which pieces you would like to keep, if any. If you keep everything they offer a 25% discount. You have three days to try the clothes on and decide. If you decide to send anything back they provide you with the bag and shipping label. It's super easy.


Before each fix you can also send your stylist a note explaining any special requests. This time I specifically requested a leather tote, similar to the one Joanna Gaines carries, she is totally my girl crush right now. I also requested some transitional pieces for Fall. My stylist delivered on every single request! I've requested to keep Janelle around for a while. She even reads my blog...cue blushing now.



When you open your box there will be a styling card included, which I found super handy. I have an issue not knowing what pieces to put with what so this was great! Most of the items I never would have thought to wear the way the stylist presented them. And you get to keep the card. I like that this will help give me ideas for things I already have in my closet.






I received my Fix on Friday and we were heading out to our favorite spot for a little {glamping} for the weekend. I couldn't wait to open my box so I took a peak at my style cards before we hit the road. It wasn't until the next day that I actually got to try my clothes on, which of course felt like an eternity. When we go to "the river" I wear zero make-up and in many cases I didn't have shoes on. Another warning for the pictures that are to come... 

What did I get?


Market & Spruce
Mainy Pullover Sweater

My first impression: This material, OMG. Unfortunately, I knew immediately I had almost this exact sweater already hanging in my closet. 

Trying it on: I was SO tempted to keep this even having its' twin in my closet already. The material felt just as good on as it did when I first pulled it out of the box. I had to use my Accountant brain to talk myself out of keeping this one.

Verdict: Sent Back! Sadly.



Mavi
Mauli Stitch Detail Knit Top

My first impression: I loved the color and the material, but I wasn't sure about the style. The line across the top was throwing me.

Trying it on: This top hugged me in all the wrong places. I wanted it to work, but no. Just no.

Verdict: Sent Back! 



Just Black
Jimmy Skinny Jeans

My first impression: I just bought a pair of dark wash skinny jeans from New York and Company...for $10.

Trying it on: I knew I wouldn't keep these from the moment I opened the box. I will say that the fit was pefrect, and the wash. Unfortunately, these weren't as buttery soft as the pair they sent my in my last fix

Verdict: Sent Back!


Skies are Blue
Sia Embroidery Peasant Top

My first impression: It was love at first sight. This shirt has my name ALL OVER IT.

Trying it on: There was no way this shirt was going back, it was mine from the moment I saw it. The fit was perfect, the style was perfect. My stylist nailed this one!


And I can dress it up for work! Gasp! White pants after labor day, what can I say, I'm a rebel. 

Let's all take a moment and thank the good Lord for make-up. We can all see the improvement. Clearly. Excuse the odd yellow tint of this photo, it was pouring rain outside this morning! Mini d just HAD to join me for a picture.


And then she wanted one of her own. My little model...

Verdict: Kept it! And her, she is just the cutest isn't she!

And then there was this bag...



Street Level
Highland Genuine Leather Tote

My first impression: This bag was exactly what I had asked for. It was beautiful.

Trying it on: I wanted to keep this bag SO SO badly. I would pick it up and put it down. I would convince myself to send it back and the next thing I knew I was convinced I was keeping it. The leather was like butter, and the smell....mmmmm


I almost wanted to cry when I put it in the return bag and sent it back. It needed a tad more structure and a lower price tag. I just couldn't justify $95 right now, leather or not. 

Verdict: Sent Back! I'm probably going to regret this...



I was on the fence about almost every item this time. The more you do it the better they get, which makes it hard if you are on a budget like I am! I have requested to keep Janelle my stylist for my future {fixes}. She gets me.

If you are interested in trying Stitch Fix yourself and you found this blog informative please use my referral link to sign up. I will get a $25 credit, which will allow me to continue to do posts just like this one for you! Trust me, Stitch Fix isn't paying me to write these for you, I assure you. I can promise you, you won't regret trying it. 


Want to check out my previous {fixes}?

Stitch Fix: My 1st Fix, A Review





DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.
Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of valuable information. Thank you, in advance for your support!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Saving Money on your Mortgage



Let's take a step out of Walt Disney World for just a minute, long enough to talk about saving a little money. I mean really we are all just trying to pay off our mortgage early so we have more money to take more vacations anyway, right?! Just kidding...maybe.

I learned something new this week and I just HAVE to share it with you! Yes, I'm an Accountant and I probably should have already known this. But I didn't. So maybe you don't know either, or I've just been living under our mortgage rock.

Did you know that many times your mortgage company will allow you to structure your monthly mortgage payments bi-weekly?

Wait, what am I talking about?

Instead of paying your mortgage payment in one lump sum, monthly, you will pay half of your mortgage payment every two weeks.

What does this mean for me?

You will be saving a substantial amount of money that would have been paid in interest over the life of your loan.

It also means that you are making 13 payments a year instead of 12 and you don't even realize it. That extra payment goes straight towards the principal you owe on your house. Thus, you are paying off your house faster and shaving years off of your loan.

Mind blown. Our mortgage company offers this service for free! I wish we had known this when we built our house years ago.

As an Accountant and self-proclaimed {saver of all the money} I would highly recommend you at least crunch a few numbers and check in to it.




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Walt Disney World: Fastpass Experience



Fastpass...the only reason taking on Walt Disney World with a toddler is even possible. Seriously. Best. Invention. Ever.

I'm not going to give you a history lesson on the Disney Fastpass System, because I don't have all of the answers nor do I care to research them and spit out that information here. That's what google is for. What I would love to do is share our experience with using the fastpass system for the first time!

By staying on Disney resort property we had the luxury of choosing our Fastpass Plus selections 60 days in advance. If you are staying off property I believe you can only make those 30 days in advance. This is a big deal if you want to ride some of the more popular attractions without a significant wait time. It's also a big deal if you are an ultra-planner like me and already know which rides you want to ride and in what order. 

For a single theme park per day you are able to select three attractions for a fastpass. It's important to note that you make the selections 60 days out from the first day of your trip for your entire trip. 

We made the following Fastpass selections:

Epcot:

Turtle Talk with Crush
- Not worth a Fastpass
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Soarin'

When we go back we plan to use our Fastpass selections for the following at Epcot:

The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Journey Into Imagination with Figment 
- This was actually our favorite ride! I would love to by-pass the 30 minute wait next time!
Frozen - The new frozen ride *might* be available on our next trip!

Animal Kingdom:

Kilimanjaro Safari
- This one is a no-brainer for sure!
Nemo - Show
- Great seats and great show! The only problem? Keeping my toddler entertained for the 30 minutes in between the time the Fastpass individuals chose their seats and the time the show started.
The Lion King - Show
- We were a little disappointed that we were limited to one section of four with our fastpass for this show. We still ended up having to sit in the back and people without a fastpass got closer seating in the other three sections. I'm not sure if this was worth a fastpass for us. We loved the show, but I think I would rather just take my chances on seating and use my fastpass elsewhere. 

Hollywood Studios:

Toy Story Mania - Fastpass MUST HAVE. These go so quickly that if you aren't staying on the resort and booking 60 days in advance chances are you will have a tough time getting a fastpass.
Disney Junior Live - Again, worth the fastpass if you have a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse lover in your family like we do.
Voyage of the Little Mermaid - Confession time, we didn't use this fastpass. Mini d was getting sleepy and we didn't think she could sit through another show so we skipped out on it. Instead we let her nap and then took her to play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area, which she LOVED!

Magic Kingdom:

Peter Pan's Flight - This HAS to be one of my all-time favorite rides. We got to the park for the {rope drop} ceremony and headed straight for Peter Pan. When we got there we didn't even have to wait! So we rescheduled this fastpass for a meet and great with Tinkerbell. 



Side Note: By the time we got off of the Peter Pan ride the wait time had already jumped to 50 minutes!

Winnie The Pooh - Again, I loved this ride! Definitely worth the fastpass!
Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid - Another perfect use for a fastpass for a toddler that loves Ariel. 

If I were to consider a different fastpass it would be for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Mini d loved this ride and the line was consistently very long. We were finally able to ride it with only a 20 minute wait during the Halloween Party!

Okay so maybe mini d wasn't the only one that loved this ride...



Having your fastpass on your magic band is super convenient, and even though mini d didn't really have to wear her magic band she loved being able to scan hers too as we got on rides!

We were able to ride just about every ride we wanted to ride during one of the more crowded times of the year. We never waited more than 25 minutes for a ride, and we only waited that long for maybe 3 of the numerous rides we rode. By using the fastpass system and checking the ride wait times on the Disney app on our phones we were able to ride more and save valuable time and our sanity!

I know there are tips and tricks to the system that make it even more efficient and we surely haven't learned them all. I would love to hear any tips and tricks you guys might have! 


Friday, October 16, 2015

Walt Disney World: Staying On Property



We debated for quite a while on whether or not we wanted to stay on property at Disney World. We all know I tend to lean towards the cheapest option in all scenarios. The more I researched though the more the idea of being fully immersed in {the magic} appealed to me. If we were going to "do Disney" we were going to go all out.

We chose to stay at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. This resort is known for having spacious villas, which we needed because of the size of our group. It was definitely made more affordable by being able to split the cost.

Initially I REALLY wanted access to a monorail, but the budget just did not permit. We ended up settling for knowing we would need to use the bus transit system. I was prepared for long wait times and uncomfortable rides to and from the parks. And I was WRONG. The transit system at Disney is awesome! It seemed like luck was always on our side and we never had to wait for a bus, they just always magically appeared right when we needed them. Mini d LOVED riding the bus because she didn't have to get in her carseat, it was almost like another attraction for her.

Our room was beautifully decorated, and very clean. We really didn't spend a ton of time in our room, but we did enjoy amenities of our resort. We were a very short walk from one of our resort's many pools and a splash pad. Mini d used the splash pad almost daily. We also enjoyed breakfast at The Artist's Palette. We were able to secure a room in an excellent location by using tips I found on the WDW Prep School Blog {Here}. We requested the room location we wanted and were within walking distance of the bus stop, dining, and pools. I definitely recommend using online check-in and requesting the area of the resort you have chosen that will work best for your family.

The staff at our resort were wonderful. One morning while waiting at the bus stop at our resort mini d fell down and bumped her knee. This, of course, resulted in dramatic crying. Her tears lasted merely seconds because the attendant at the bus stop was quick to pull out bubbles and start interacting with her. She cheered up immediately. Everyone we encountered that worked for Disney was always smiling, cheerful, and quick to offer help when needed.

There are so many perks guests get by staying on Disney as opposed to off of the property. This includes making dinner reservations 180 days in advance, as well as using their Fastpass Plus system. The Fastpass system was invaluable for us during our vacation!

In our room we were surrounded by Disney, it was even on the television on multiple channels when we turned it on. We watched their bedtime stories every night before bed. We truly felt like we never left the magic. I can't imagine ever staying off property now that we have had the experience of staying on one of their resorts. We are so looking forward to our next vacation! We have actually already scheduled it for April/May 2016! We loved our experience at Disney's Saratoga Springs, but would like to try other resorts as well so we are planning to stay at Disney's Art of Animation on our next trip!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Driving To Disney


We just arrived back from our very first family trip to Walt Disney World and I'm literally bursting with newly learned information. I wasn't even really sure where to start blogging because there is just SO MUCH I want to talk about. Please excuse me if my blog is taken over by Walt Disney World for the next few weeks!

I guess you just start at the beginning when you aren't sure exactly where to start. We only live about six hours from Orlando, Florida. Driving is definitely the most cost effective way for us to travel to Walt Disney World. We weren't exactly sure how this was going to go with a toddler because most of the time a two hour drive for us is torture. She HATES sitting still for any length of time. She is go, go, go ALL THE TIME.

We are all morning people so we tried to get up and head out by 6:00 am. We were all excited and ready to hit the road! In reality we were out of the house by 6:20 am, so close enough to our goal time.


What were our driving necessities?

Mini d just HAD to have all of her {friends}. On our trip we were accompanied by Olaf, Elsa, Anna, Minnie Mouse, Pooh, and Buzz Lightyear. 

Books

Snacks

Water Bottles

Color Wonder Coloring Books

Potty Chair. This is kind of funny actually. We took mini d's elmo potty chair with us on our trip because we are right in the middle of learning to use the potty. She was really good the entire trip about holding it until we stopped...until we got about 30 minutes outside of Orlando. We were SO close and all of a sudden she just HAD TO POTTY. We pulled off on the first exit we saw, which happened to be a toll road. A toll road that only took $1.25 in quarters and there was no attendant. We had no quarters. We had to grab an envelope and smile for the camera; just mailed that check in today. Then, come to find out, no bathroom in sight. We pulled over on the side of a busy road and put the potty chair right in the grass. She went potty, we cheered, all was well...right on the side of the road. 

What we didn't really need?

Our DVD player. Shocker, I know. Mini d actually unplugged her dvd player and never even really watched anything. She was much more interested in playing with her {friends} and singing songs with Mommy and Daddy. I did end up losing my voice by the time we got down there though...so many songs. 

Puzzles. Mini d usually loves puzzles, but I found they were kind of a hassle in the carseat. She would much rather read books than play puzzles while driving. 



Our trip totaled about 8 hours down and 8 hours back. We had to stop about every two hours for mini d to get out, run around, and potty. I would say she slept about 2 hours each way. Taking those few breaks was definitely key for us. There were a few times we had to bribe her with jelly beans to get her back in the carseat, but overall she surprised us and did great! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pizza Egg Rolls - Recipe


We love Pizza in our house, it's a guilty pleasure. When I ran across the recipe for these pizza rolls I knew we had to try them. This Pinterest inspired recipe is perfect for a quick dinner or appetizer.

So what do you need?



Eggroll Wrappers
- Helpful Tip: These are located in the produce section. Who knew? I know the Publix employee I asked to help me locate them didn't.
Mozzarella String Cheese
Pepperoni
Oregano
Oil {for frying}
Marinara Sauce {for dipping}
- As you can see I already had some leftover in my fridge.

How do you make it?


Take an eggroll wrapper and lay it flat on a plate. Corner to corner situate your pepperoni slices and string cheese. Sprinkle with oregano, generously. 

Using a little water to wet the edges follow the instructions on folding the eggroll. Water is the glue that holds the eggroll together. 


Set aside until you are ready to cook. In the meantime start getting your grease hot. 


Fry in your oil of choice for about 2-3 minutes. Place cooked eggrolls on a baking sheet covered in paper towels to soak any remaining grease out. 

Warm your marinara sauce and serve with your eggrolls.

These were a hit at our house and SO SO easy to make!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DIY Pallet Pumpkin


The break of Fall and Spring are my two FAVORITE times of year. You can literally smell Fall in the air, even if it is still 90 degrees outside. We don't really get in to decorating for Halloween, but decorating for Fall is a whole different story!

Let me just say, I LOVE pumpkins. I'm seriously one of those super annoying pumpkin {everything} people. We currently have a pallet abundance at my house just screaming for free projecting, my favorite kind!

As usual, I approached Daddy D with a Pinterest plan to make pumpkins from some of our pallets. I assured him they would be super easy and take no time at all...2 hours later....


In all honesty the project didn't take THAT long considering the amount of work that we put in to it and the fact that other than some orange paint it was free. Because you know labor isn't worth much more than kisses around here. Wink wink.


As you can see, mini d was working really hard on this project! We had to re-fuel with some popsicles. Orange of course.

Now, what you really want to know, how did we do it?

Supplies

Pallet (one for each pumpkin)
Orange outdoor paint
 - Yes we could have used spray paint, but painting it by hand was way more fun!
One large stick
Nails, Hammer, Jigsaw, Pencil

How did we do it?

Daddy D pulled the pallet apart using whatever manly ways possible and removed the already existing nails. 


He is so stinkin' cute, right?! I know.

We lined the boards up vertically next to each other and using a pencil I drew out the pumpkin.

Daddy d then used a jigsaw to cut the boards to size.

Using spare pieces of the pallet he nailed the pumpkin back together and attached a random stick we had laying in the barn (for whatever reason).  Daddy d has hoarding tendencies and although that doesn't fly in the house I leave the barn alone. At any given time there are all sorts of random things in there, which actually does come in handy sometimes. Shhhh....don't tell him I said that.

Mini d and I then worked together to paint the pumpkins, which was a fun project for all of us! Then Daddy d and I worked together to spray mini d off with a water hose. HA! She had a little too much fun painting.



The end result was exactly as I had envisioned, and so worth the time and effort we put in to it!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Breastfeeding Mommy, What's on Your Nightstand?



I'm one of those habitual type people that likes to do things in a routine. I'm also a little OCD about placement...of well everything. You never guessed that about me, right? 

Prior to about 9 months we co-slept with mini-d. Meaning she slept in the same room with us (not in the bed with us). And no we never got her out of our room, we just got promoted to bed sharing (okay now she is in the bed). You're jealous of that cute little foot in my face all night, I know!

Breastfeeding and co-sleeping go hand-in-hand and if your little one doesn't sleep through the night it is practically a necessity. After a few weeks of waking up in the middle of the night and stumbling around in the dark on a blind hunt I figured out there were a few things that I needed to add to my {perfectly organized in it's own little way} nightstand!

My number one necessity....the ever so glamorous tap light. This bad boy gives off just the right amount of light needed to change a diaper or re-latch a newborn in the middle of the night without waking everyone up. It's also super fun for a baby or even toddler to play with. Safe, who knows? But fun, yes.


Water, Water, and did I say Water? Water is such a necessity when you are trying to keep your supply up. Especially if you are trying to work and pump. Keep a straw cup with water in it or two on your nightstand at all times! 

Why the straw and lid? Because it's no fun knocking a full glass of water over on to your phone and alarm clock in the middle of the night. 


All that water may create a little more milk than you bargained for. You will want to have a washcloth on your nightstand for random milk that decides to spray everywhere or for possible spit-up from those middle of the night feedings.


And finally, a must, your smart phone. At some point there will come a time you can just roll over in your sleep and breastfeed without ever waking up, but that takes time. Until that point you will want to stay awake while the baby is eating to reduce the risk of SIDS and all that other dangerous stuff we won't talk about. What better way to stay awake than to stalk people on Facebook or play on Pinterest?

What's your nightstand necessity?