Curls and Pearls

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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!