Skip the Cooking – Collin Street Bakery Delivers the BEST Desserts!

This post was brought to you by Collin Street Bakery.  All opinions are mine.Collin Street Bakery Praline CheesecakeIt's a great time of the year.  Summer is on it's way, end-of-school and graduation events are happening, Father's Day is coming, and many picnics and family BBQs are on their way!  There are many different gifts and foods to celebrate with, but what's more awesome than cheesecake?  Collin Street Bakery has made it easy to give delicious, homemade desserts for gifts or keep them on hand for all of the family get togethers this summer.  

This praline pecan cheesecake is absolutely delicious and definitely a real treat.  The bakers at Collin Street Bakery coat the native Texas pecans in sugar and syrup to make a crunchy praline coated confection that is then mixed into the New York style cheesecake.  They take care of making sure it is perfect and shipped to your doorstep when you need it.

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I'm always searching for the perfect, original gift for different occasions.  Collin Street Bakery has a variety of delicious desserts so you will be sure to find the perfect one!  Ship directly to your lucky recipient for a special surprise or have it shipped to your home so you can personalize the package!  Cheescakes, fruitcakes, pies, cookies, squares, Texas pecan cakes, snacks, and more are available all year long.  Find the perfect gift or summer dessert at Collin Street Bakery.
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Father’s Day Crafts for Kids – Great Gifts For Dad

Gifts For Dad That Kids Can MakeFather's Day is in a few weeks (June 21, 2015 to be exact.) My boys always love to make things for Daddy, all throughout the year.  Sometimes, they could use a little direction, because really, how many pictures can Daddy hang on his office walls?  This year for Father's Day, I hope to give hubby something meaningful and from the heart, that his children spent time on and created with love.

If you want to get the kids involved in making a great gift for Dad, look no further than this collection of some of the cutest gifts that kids can make.  These Father's Day crafts for kids are adorable and have varying levels of difficulty.  There's something for the toddler or the more advanced artsy teen.

Let's celebrate dads everywhere on this special day!

DIY Drinking Glass

No Sew Upcycled Fabric Bookmark – Creative Green Living

Father's Day Shrinky Dink Cufflinks – Creative Green Living

"My Dad Rocks" Jar – Creative Green Living

Toddler DIY – Personalized Gift for Dad – Thinking Outside The Sandbox

DIY Father's Day Cards – KidPep

DIY Necktie Gift Bag – KidPep

Personalized Insulated Mugs – Simply Kelly Designs

"I Love You To Pieces" Picture Frame – Simply Kelly Designs

"Dad Rocks" Paperweight – Artsy Momma

Father's Day DIY Magnets – Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Salt Dough Dad Magnets – Crafts by Amanda

Father's Day Bookmark – Hi! It's Jilly

Quick Father's Day Card – Organized 31

What will you do for that special dad in your life?  Do you have a cute craft for Dad that kids could make?  I would love to see it, so I encourage you to leave a link in in the comments section!

Easy 10 Minute Strawberry S’mores

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions in this easy 10 minute strawberry s'mores recipe post are mine. #LetsMakeSmores #CollectiveBias #sponsored

Easy 10 Minute Strawberry S'mores

Some of my fondest memories are being surrounded by friends and sometimes family, around a campfire, laughing at making s'mores together.  It is always a good time when you try to brown marshmallows over a fire because it's so hard to get them well…not black!  

A few years ago, when we were house parents at a children's home, I started making oven s'mores because they are a quick, easy solution for snacktime.  They were, of course, always a huge hit!  I occassionally make them for my own kids now and they truly do enjoy them.  It is the perfect summertime snack, especially lately since it has been dreary and rainy outdoors.  We whip up these strawberry s'mores and dream of being able to go outdoors.  This recipe goes to show that you absolutely do not need a campfire to make delicious s'mores.

The other day I stocked up on s'mores supplies at Walmart, along with some fresh strawberries.  It was very convenient to find the perfect s'mores making supplies, all in one place:

Easy 10 Minute Strawberry S'moresAs the recipe title suggest, it's super simple to make these Easy 10 Minute Strawberry S'mores, which is handy when you have a lot of hungry mouths to feed!

Ingredients:

  • Kraft Jet-Puffed S'moreMallows
  • Hershey's milk chocolate bars
  • Honey Maid Graham Cracker Squares (exclusively at Walmart and so convenient for S'mores making!)
  • strawberries, sliced thin

s'mores ingredients

Directions:

1.  Place graham cracker squares on a pan.  (I use parchment paper because these can get messy.)

2.  Break apart Hershey's chocolate bar and place 2-3 rectangles on each graham crackers.  (Three rectangles are messier, but of course more delicious.)

Easy 10 Minute Strawberry S'mores

3.  Put one S'moreMallow on top of chocolate.  Then, place in the oven or toaster oven on broil.  

4.  Watch CAREFULLY because the marshmallows brown quickly.

5.  When marshmallows are browned to perfection, take them out of the oven.

6.  Place 2-3 slices of strawberries on each marshmallow.

7.  Top with another graham square, serve on a plate, and enjoy!

Easy 10 Minute Strawberry S'moresEasy 10 Minute Strawberry S'mores

These 10 Minute Strawberry S'mores are great for an after dinner dessert, too!  Perhaps you have guests who stop by at the last minute and you don't know what to prepare?  You can fix these in less than 10 minutes and make just the right amount, too.  Make them for summer BBQs, parties, and more!

Easy 10 Minute Strawberry S'mores

Now that I've shared our favorite way to make s'mores…I'd love to hear yours!  How do you like your s'mores?

How To Safely Introduce Your Baby To The Water

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for #SwimWays. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.  The opinions in this post about how to safely introduce your baby to the water are all mine.

Safely Introduce Your Baby To The WaterAll three of our boys LOVE the water.  We have diligently tried to teach them to both love the water and to respect it, because it can be very dangerous.  The Captain and D know they cannot be around pools, lakes, or any water without an adult present.  They are both getting better at swimming, too.  Now that Baby Brother is old enough to enjoy the water, we are mindful to teach him the same things about the power of water!  

When the weather does warm up, we will be hitting the pool more often.  The older boys wear life jackets in the pool unless we can be one-on-one with them.  Sometimes kids can get too confident in the pool, so it's a good idea to let them get used to the water while wearing a life jacket or water safety object.  

SwimWays has been teaching children to swim for over 40 years, so we trust the information on their website to teach our kids how to swim.  For Baby's first time in the pool, SwimWays suggests:

  • Help Baby feel more comfortable by helping him explore the water safely.
  • Stay with your child at all times.
  • Have fun and play in the water.
  • Let Baby feel water with their toes and splash it around before getting in.
  • Don't force Baby in the pool if he doesn't want to go.  Make experience stress free and fun.
  • Enroll in a Mommy and Me class, if available.

When your child is ready to do more in the water, visit SwimWays' Teach Me To Swim site to learn how to go about that.

babyswimfloat

When we do get to go to the pool, we will be using SwimWays' Baby Spring Float with Baby Brother.  It's a perfect way to get used to the water and be safe for babies ages 9-24 months.  It's the single best baby float on the market today.  

SwimWays

The seat of the Baby Spring Float is soft and covered in fabric to make it comfortable.  There is a soft mesh seat, too.  I also like the adjustable and removable canopy for added shade.  It's very important for sensitive eyes and a toddler who hates to wear sunglasses.

The patented inner spring ensures stability, which makes Mom and Dad more comfortable with Baby in the pool.

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When Baby Brother gets older and is ready for something different, SwimWays' Swim Steps line of products is where I will look.  They have done their research and know what they're doing!  Helping children become confident swimmers is what they do best.  Visit ToysRUs for the Baby Spring Float and other helpful products in the Swim Steps line!

National Learn to Swim Day is May 16, 2015. This day is designed to remind parents and guardians to kick off summer safely by engaging their children in water safety and swim instructions. SwimWays believes that swimming is an important life skill and that all children should have the opportunity to learn to swim. This will be the fourth annual National Learn to Swim Day.

How do you keep your children safe in the water?  Have you enrolled your kids in swimming lessons?

The Men of Frozen Cupcakes: Kristoff and Sven

contains affiliate links

Men of Frozen: Kristoff and SvenFrozen is very much alive and well in our house.  It's Baby Brother's absolute favorite thing to watch, the songs are still fun to sing, and whenever it is on, we all have to watch.  The Captain has reached a point where he thinks he's "too cool" for Frozen, probably because the two main characters are female, of course.  But what about the men of Frozen?  You have the evil Hans, cute little Olaf, and the manly Kristoff and his sidekick Sven the reindeer.  Frozen is very much a movie to be enjoyed by boys and girls, men and women of all ages!  These Frozen cupcakes would be a great addition to a Frozen themed birthday party or celebration.  And they are more "boyish" than the frilly pink Elsa and Anna cupcakes.  Don't get me wrong, I love Anna and Elsa and all things pink, but that doesn't really fly around here with three blue loving manly men.  And who can resist these yummy chocolate cupcakes with blue icing and "snow"?

Kristoff Cupcakes

Cupcake Recipe:

  • 2 2/3 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 C sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 TBSP stick butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 C whole milk

Cupcake Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Line cupcake tins with paper liners.
-Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.
-Mix in one egg at a time.
-Mix in vanilla.
-Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa in another bowl.
-Add the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
-Mix well until are ingredients are thoroughly blended.
-Add the whole milk.
-Beat until well combined.
-Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake tins.
-Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
-Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

{keep scrolling for frosting recipe and directions}

Sven Cupcakes

 

Frosting Recipe:

  • 1 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 4+ C powder sugar
  • 4 TBSP heavy whipping cream
  • Sky Blue and Dark Blue gel food coloring

Frosting Directions:

-Cream the butter.
-Add the powdered sugar, continue to mix.
-If not able to cream, add the heavy whipping cream.  (Be patient, this can take several minutes.)
-If not able to form and keep a stiff peak, add more powder sugar.  Continue to mix the butter and powdered sugar.
-Once the frosting can form and keep a stiff peak, divide the frosting equally into 2 bowls.
-In the first bowl add several drops of sky blue gel food coloring.  
-Stir the food coloring and frosting until the color is thoroughly blended.
-In the second bowl add several drops of dark blue gel food coloring.
-Stir the food coloring and frosting until the color in thoroughly blended.
-Scoop the sky blue frosting into a pastry bag with a large frosting tip.
-Use the back of a large spoon  mash the sky blue frosting in the pastry bag.
-Turn the pastry bag.
-Scoop the  dark blue frosting into the pastry bag mashing it by using the back of a large spoon.
-Twist the open end of the filled pastry bag forcing the frosting out of the tip.
-Test the filled pastry bag on a paper towel to make sure the frosting is blended the way you want it.
-Frost the cupcakes.

Cupcake Decorations:

-Locate the images/pictures that you want from Google 
-Print the pictures that you want in color . (This is VERY quick and easy to do wirelessly from your phone with the HP Envy 5660.)
-Use wooden craft circles (purchased from Amazon or a craft store) to trace and cut out pictures.  Lay them on top of the printed pictures, position the wooden circles and trace around them making sure that the parts of the pictures that you want are in that circle.
-Cut out the picture.
-Using non-toxic glue, apply the picture to the wooden circle.
-Once the picture is completely dry on the wooden circle place it in the center of the frosted cupcake.

Men of Frozen: Kristoff and Sven

 

Bring Tuscany to Your Table With A Grilled Chicken Alfredo Sandwich

Compensation was provided by Bertolli® via Mode Media.  All opinions in this grilled chicken alfredo sandwich post are mine.

Bertolli

Spring is here, which means it's time for grilling!  We love grilled chicken and are always looking for ways to jazz it up a bit.  Lucky for us, we all can agree on Italian food.  We all love the robust flavor of alfredo sauce, but I have found that it can be very time consuming and difficult to get it just right.  

When I had the idea to drizzle creamy alfredo sauce on a grilled chicken sandwich, I looked no further than Bertolli®.  The jarred sauces are made with high quality ingredients and taste delicious.  I knew that the sandwich would taste exceptional, and I was right!  This meal was a huge hit in our house!

Ingredients for four sandwiches:

  • one jar of Bertolli® Alfredo Sauce
  • four small chicken breasts, or two large chicken breasts cut in half
  • olive oil for drizzling on chicken prior to grilling
  • salt, to taste
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • one loaf of Ciabatta bread
  • four thin slices of Provolone cheese

Grilled Chicken Alfredo Sandwich

Directions: 

  1. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken breasts.
  2. Sprinkle salt and garlic powder, to taste.
  3. Grill chicken breasts on high heat until the internal temperature reaches 165° F.  (approx 15 mins, flipping once midway through cooking)
  4. Warm Bertolli® Alfredo Sauce in a pan on the stove until hot.
  5. Slice Ciabatta bread in half and in four pieces, to make four sandwiches.
  6. Place hot chicken breast on the bread.
  7. Add a slice of thin Provolone cheese to each sandwich.
  8. Pour about a 1/4 cup of Bertolli® Alfredo Sauce on top of each of the chicken breasts.
  9. Close the sandwiches
  10. Add a side of sweet potato fries, sauteed bell peppers, or any other side and enjoy your meal!

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The perfectly toasted Ciabatta bread is the perfect bread for this sandwich.  It was a bit thick for the boys, but they did enjoy their bread on the side.  The key is the Bertolli® Alfredo Sauce.  It really pulls the sandwich together and brings it to another level!  

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As Bertolli celebrates its 150th anniversary, they want to help you commemorate your special moments this year.  Visit their Facebook page to see how you can win a dinner celebration and other prizes, too!

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Viva Bertolli® and join me in celebrating 150 years of delicious Italian food, friends and family. Felice Anniversario and Buono Appetito! Visit Bertolli on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for more inspirations and ideas to bring Tuscany to your table.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Disclosure:  I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Restonic and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions of this blog post are my own.  #GoToBed  Get Enough Sleep!  Images courtesy of Gratisography.

Sleep Restonic #GoToBed

Sleep… it's something that we all need to survive.  We need sleep to recharge our energy, repair the body, rest our brain and body, and so many other things!  Scientists have studied sleep and all that occurs during sleep for many years and have come to the conclusion (if we didn't already know!) that sleep is very, very important for survival.  If we are not getting enough sleep, we suffer from a myriad of side effects.  I recently asked on Facebook what side effects people have when they do not get enough sleep.  There were far more than I even realized!

#GoToBed Sleep Deprivation Side Effects

Here are just a few:

  • headaches
  • mood swings
  • tendency to yell
  • excessive consumption of sugar
  • migraines
  • irritability
  • blurry vision
  • inability to focus
  • no motivation
  • vertigo
  • sluggish
  • stomach problems
  • forgetfulness
  • crabbiness

Do you identify with any of these?  Maybe all of them?  For me, I think the most common side effects are feeling lethargic and being super cranky.  I am lucky that I have a hubby that recognizes that I need my sleep and will offer to help so I can get the sleep that I need.  I find that a 20 minute nap midday is helpful for me to recharge.  My three sons often disagree, but I try!

I know that I cannot be the best mom, wife, and person that I can be unless I get a good night's sleep.  It is difficult to get enough sleep with three kids.  It seems someone is always sick, scared, wet, itchy, cold, etc.  Check out these Six Tips To Help Parents Get More Sleep, but the bottom line is, we just have to go to bed.  No one can anticipate how many times we will be woken up in the night, but we can control when our sleep starts.  I have really been trying to wrap things up and resist the urge to stay up late.  Everything will still be there in the morning, so I head to bed soon after the boys are asleep.

Besides avoiding the side effects of sleep deprivation, going to bed is a good idea because well, sleeping is awesome and fun.  Waking up feeling refreshed is amazing!  A great bed can help you achieve your goal of going to bed and getting enough quality rest.  Restonic is a great company who cares about your sleep.  Here are Restonic's rules for taking time to take care of yourself:

R – Rejuvenate on a Restonic mattress for the rest of your life

E – Embrace your need for sleep.  Getting out of bed is overrated.

S – Supporting your dreams of a healthy life with healthy sleep.

T – Think about your need for sleep.  At the end of the day, it's night.

O – Observe how much sweeter life is with a good night's sleep.

N – Nourish yourself with a sleep sanctuary.  Every.  Night.

I – Innovate your life with a good night's sleep.

C – Celebrate life, it's good!

I love a company that loves sleep as much as I do!  They're very serious about their sleep and I love it.  Visit the Restonic website to find a store near you and follow Restonic on Twitter and Facebook for more info on quality sleep and how to get it.

One lucky winner will receive a brand new Restonic ComfortCare Select mattress! 

#GoToBed giveaway

About the ComfortCare® Select Mattresses:

Rest, rejuvenate and revive your mornings with one of our ComfortCare Select mattresses. You’ll find a nourishing layer of tempadvantage to help reduce temperature fluctuations and extend the comfort life of your mattress. Our individually wrapped, foam encased coil unit cushions pressure points, reduces motion transfer and delivers peaceful, healthy sleep. 

Tempadvantage™

·         Proactively regulates temperature so no more shivering or shucking blankets throughout the night

·         Reduces tossing and turning by maintaining a consistent, comfortable temperature 

·         Keeps sheets, bedding and mattress fresher, longer

Individually Wrapped Coils

Individually wrapped, zoned, tempered coils:

·         Furnishes stress-free spinal alignment

·         Reduces motion transfer between sleep partners

·         Equalizes pressure distribution across the entire body

Marvelous Middle™

Thicker gauge coils in the center third of the mattress:

·         Delivers resilient, reliable support where it’s needed most

·         Protects against sagging for a longer-life mattress

·         Improves circulation with equalized pressure distribution

Superedge Plus™

High-density foam surrounding the perimeter for edge to edge sleeping comfort:

·         Resists sagging

·         Extends the life of the mattress

·         Provides a stable base for the entire mattress

Restonic Mom 2 Mom Challenge

How To Survive (And Thoroughly Enjoy!) Walt Disney World With An Active Toddler: Part Two

contains affiliate links – all opinions are my own 

Disney World

(If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, check it out.  It highlights the planning phase of surviving Disney with your toddler.)

Our Disney adventure was a bit stressful at first.  I wasn't quite prepared enough for the plane ride, but all in all, it wasn't bad.  I think we could call it a a successful first plane ride for the boys.  When we landed in Orlando, it was so exciting!  We searched for the Magical Express line at the airport and to our surprise, it was completely empty.  No lines, yes!  But then again…we had to wait a little while to have enough people to fill up a bus to take us to the Pop Century resort where we would be staying.  We were tired and getting hungry and also getting used to the warm Florida temps.  (We are from Texas, yes, but we had left freezing temperatures and SNOW!)  Continuing where I left on in Part one….here are more tips for surviving Disney with an active toddler:

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6.  Be aware:  There are no carseats on the Magical Express.

If you're a carseat nerd like me, you may have an issue with it.  I did at first, but had to let it go.  Friends assured me that it was safe, legal, and all that jazz.  If you have a carseat, they will store it under the bus, but you cannot take it onto the bus.  So, we held Baby Brother and hoped for the best.  I know, I know, it's true of all buses and it's not really a big deal, but it kind of is.  Just don't be shocked when you get there, is all I'm saying.  We drove on the highway at pretty high speeds, and there very well could've been an accident, but it was okay.  The drivers are very safe.

Moving on…

7.  Babywear!  Toddlerwear!

A lot of parents know the extreme awesomeness that babywearing is.  It's great to be hands free while keeping your baby close.  But a lot of parents ditch the baby carrier once their little one becomes mobile.  I'm telling you…don't.  Baby Brother still loves to be worn at 29 lbs and 17 months old.  I brought the Boba 4g on the airplane and wore him in the airport.  I wore him while walking the long trek to our room at the resort, in lines, for naps in the park, on the bus to the parks when it was standing room only (although most of the time people offer women with babies a seat…thank goodness,) waiting in line for the bus back to the resort, when D needed to sit in the stroller for a bit, and more!  We still let him down to walk and play a LOT, but there were times when the Boba was the most valuable thing in sight!  I never left the resort without it.toddlerdisney6And in case you didn't know…the Boba can hold kids up to 40 lbs…indeed it can:toddlerdisney5

8.  Naps.

Okay.  Baby Brother is baby #3 for us, so we are definitely more relaxed about naps than we were with the first two.  Some days he naps in his crib, some days he doesn't.  But I can honestly say that having to go back to the resort every day when he needed a nap would have been a nightmare.  First of all, the trip back to the resort would have assuredly lulled him to sleep and he probably wouldn't have napped once we got there.  Secondly, there were days he was exhausted at 10 and then days he could go and go and never be tired.  So, we planned to stay at the park for as long as we wanted to, or as long as we parents could go.  That meant we went back to the resort at 3 or 4, which was far too late for a Baby Brother nap.  So again, he napped in the Boba, stroller, or once in my lap at the Frozen Sing Along show.  He slept when he could and we managed well!  One parent would take the older two so they didn't have to sacrifice their Disney time for Baby Brother and the other parent would take him for a stroll so he could get some rest.  This was my favorite naptime:

toddlerDisney10

D needed a nap most days, (as did I!) so we pulled it off at 3 or whatever time we made it back to the resort.  It worked well for us.  You just have to see what works best for your family.  If you want to break up the day and have lunch and a nap at the resort, so be it.  The afternoon break was good for us to get out of the sun, take a rest, and then come back for the night time activities.

9.  Take advantage of the play areas.

We didn't really think of play areas as an option until Hubby found the awesome, age appropriate play area while the older two boys and I were riding Splash Mountain.  It wasn't crowded at the time and Baby Brother LOVED it.  It gave him a chance to run around and play and have something to do while we were on the ride AND gave Daddy a chance to sit down and rest.  We also loved the play/waiting area of the Dumbo ride.  It was perfect for him and while I assume it can get pretty crowded, it is a secure area that has a center area just for toddlers and prevents them (for the most part) from running off.  Both of these play areas are out of the elements and are just fun.  I'm sure there are many more play areas for toddlers in the parks, but we just didn't discover them.  At Disney Hollywood Studios, all of us loved the "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" movie set adventure area.  There are slides, places to climb, and just a cool place to check out.  Baby Brother loved it, too!

Disney World

10.  Take a stroller with storage.  Rent one if you must.

I don't know why I actually thought about this one for longer than 10 seconds.  We flew, so I didn't want the stroller to be a huge inconvenience, and I didn't know about storing it on the Magical Express or the bus, and I didn't know how difficult it would be to maneuver in the parks.  Seriously though, if you have kids under the age of 6, you need a stroller with storage.  Not an umbrella stroller, mind you, although that would work if that's all you have.  You need a comfortable stroller with a good canopy that is easy to push and also has a big basket underneath for storage.  If you don't have one, there are stroller rental places at the front of each park.  Strollers can be annoying, for sure, especially when you're staring at a sea of strollers and can't locate yours… because a cast member moved it to a different location, perhaps.  If your child is far too excited to ride and wants to walk the entire time…still…take a stroller.  You can store anything and everything in it and one with cup holders to hold your drink is worth it.  Make it happen!  We took our Graco Jogger and while a slightly smaller, lightweight stroller (like the Graco Verb) would've been easier to manage, this stroller was a lifesaver.  It carried kids (all three at one time or another,) beverages, diaper bags, backpacks, gift shop purchases, snacks, water bottles, maps, freebies, extra clothes, ponchos, and much more.  The only downside was it's size and the fact that Hubby had to lift it onto the bus and off, but he did that while I wore Baby Brother in the Boba and it wasn't a big deal.  If I were alone, I'd definitely take a lightweight stroller, but we had two people so it worked.  

toddlerdisney3

11.  Take, apply, and reapply sunscreen.

 Slather on sunscreen before you leave your room and take a bottle with you.  The Florida sun beats down and can burn a person very quickly.  We relied on TruKid while we were there.

12.  Take snacks.

In part one of this series, I talked about Garden Grocer and how we had groceries delivered to our room.  This was so helpful in packing snacks for the day, too.  We could take grapes, apple slices, crackers, and lots of water bottles and not have to buy snacks at the park.  We did, of course, as a treat, but not just because we were starving.

13.  Know that there are Baby Care Centers available.

In each park, there is a Baby Care Center for parents with infants and toddlers.  Each facility is complimentary and includes a private nursing room with rocking chair; changing room with tables and a unisex bathroom; feeding area with high chairs; kitchen with microwave, oven, and sink; main room with TV, table, chairs, and sofa; and an on-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, OTC medicines and clothing available for purchase.  Most restrooms in the park DO have baby changing stations, but the Baby Care Centers have everything you might need to take care of the littles.  This is also the place that Cast Members will escort children who have become separated from his or her parents so the parents can be reunited with their lost child.

14.  What will you do if your child gets sick at Disney?

We all got hit with a case of allergies while we were at Disney and Baby Brother was cutting his molars at the time, but thankfully we avoided all other illnesses.  I could list out everything to prepare, but Jeannette experienced it first hand and she wrote a brilliant post, so make sure and read "What To Do If Your Child Gets Sick At Disney."

15.  Not all kids like characters!

Every time we approached a character, such as Daisy Duck, below, Baby Brother flipped out.  If I switched him to the other side, opposite the scary (to him) cast member, then he was better, but he never wanted anything to do with them!

Disney CharactersOnce the characters were far away, he really enjoyed them!  He really loved seeing Sofia the First at Play 'n Dine…from a distance, of course!

toddler disney

16.  Take your toddler on rides…especially "It's A Small World!"

We took Baby Brother on the "It's A Small World" ride twice, and I really wish we had taken him at least once more.  It's a truly fun, magical ride that is slow and easy and a great escape from the heat.  He ADORED this ride so so much.  Check out this fun video I took of his first ride.

Walt Disney World

There are many other rides that have no height restrictions, so toddlers can ride.  Some of our favorites were:

  • It's A Small World (of course), Magic Kingdom
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, MK
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant, MK
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris, Animal Kingdom
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, MK
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, MK
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, MK
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends, AK
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, MK
  • TriceraTop Spin, AK (pictured above)
  • Jungle Cruise, MK

There are many more rides with no height restrictions, but these were our favorites.  Check out the Disney World site for more information.

17.  Watch the Parades

Make sure you watch the parades.  There are parades in the day at different times and at night, each one magical and special.  I didn't really want to fight the crowds, but twice we were kind of in the right place at the right time, and we all had a great time.  This was from Baby Brother's first parade:

 

The line to meet Anna and Elsa were way too long, but we got to see them in one parade and for me, that was awesome!  And Baby Brother loved it, too!  He was waving at all of the characters and the older two were very excited, as well.

toddlers

18.  Stay for the fireworks, at least one night.

When we were planning this trip, I did not know HOW we would swing staying up late for the fireworks, but we did, twice, once at Epcot and once at the Magic Kingdom.  The fireworks are amazing and magical and all that jazz.  And seeing it through your children's eyes…..there is nothing like it.  The most excited I saw my 6 year old son all week was the first night during the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  He was excited most of the week about everything, don't get me wrong.  He was MEGA excited at the fireworks show at MK.  He was sharing in the joy of his baby brother and it was just overwhelming to me because…well, it's hard to explain.  You just have to experience it for yourself.  Just don't miss out on the fireworks!

Disney World Fireworks

Well, that's it!  My tips on how to survive and thoroughly enjoy Walt Disney World with an active toddler!  It was such a great experience and we are all dreaming of when we might be able to go again.  Which is another thing…. not to be a downer, but there is such a thing as Post-Disney Letdown Syndrome, but well, let's just say every good thing must come to an end, but the memories you and your kids will make at Disney will be worth it all.

How To Grow Strawberries In One Season

How To Grow Strawberries in One Season

Strawberries are a wonderful addition to the garden because they provide you with delicious fruit and add a little color to one of the hardest areas of the garden to fill in. No matter if you decide to grow them in a container, bed or hanging baskets, strawberries can start bearing fruit in just a single season when you get everything right. With all the different varieties of strawberries out there, and three main fruit bearing times, you can enjoy fresh fruit for the entire summer.  Here are some easy to follow tips to grow strawberries in just one season.

Start With New Plants

There are several options for getting started with strawberries, but new plants, already growing from a nursery are the best option. Beginning with new plants versus transplants or roots ensures that you have a health strawberry plant and is a headstart on the growing season.

Plant for Your Zone

One of the biggest mistakes people make when purchasing plants is to buy things that are meant to be grown in other hardiness zones. When you force a plant to survive in less than ideal temperatures and conditions it puts all its energy into survival rather than producing fruit. Choose those plants that are meant to be grown where you live only.

Plant a Bed

While you can grow strawberries in a single container or basket, the ideal way to grow them is in a bed of their own.  (Check out this 3 tier strawberry bed.) Strawberries like to spread out, be near other plants and really get into the soil, so an entire bed for them to do this is heaven for them.

Plant Different Types

There are three main types of strawberries, but June bearing and everbearing are the easiest to grow and find in nurseries. Plant a combination of different types of strawberries in order to have something to pick throughout the summer. Doing this also helps you determine what varieties are the best instead of sticking to just one type year after year.

Provide Full Sun and Compost

Strawberries need a lot of organic matter worked into their soil, so make sure you feed the soil bed before planting and give it time to break down. The plants also need full sun in order to bulk up their energy sources and produce fruit, so make sure that the bed is in an ideal position. Finally, keep the moisture and nutrients in the soil where the plants need them by providing a layer of mulch or straw on the beds. 

Have you had success with growing strawberries?  Leave your tips in the comments section!  I'd love to hear them.

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Reduce Food Waste For The Earth And Your Wallet {Free Food Storage Printables!}

One of my favorite things to do is to go grocery shopping for the week.  I know that sounds crazy, but I really do enjoy it.  (It's even more fun without kids, but, I probably spend less when they tag along….ha!)  It is fun to see the fresh fruits and vegetables that my favorite store has.  We live about 20 minutes away from "my" grocery store, so I do like to stock up for the next week or two, to avoid too many trips to the store.  That means I need to have a game plan and also know how to reduce food waste by eating everything that I buy.

We have been much better about properly storing our food and eating it all up before it goes bad.  Sometimes life happens and we are invited out to eat when I had planned to make dinner, or we get sick, or we decide to go to Grandma's for the night.  I feel better about the food purchases that I make because I do know how to properly store them and how long they will be good in the fridge.  This goes for leftovers, too.  They usually have a short shelf life, but proper storage is key.

#SAVEITSUNDAY #FoodFairyTaleHere is a random food fact for you.  Did you know that Americans throw out an average of 400 lbs of food a year?  That is roughly $1,500 in food…thrown away because it wasn't eaten quickly enough or stored properly before it went bad.  That's a lot of pounds of food that are hauled off to the dump and a lot of money just thrown away.  It kinda makes me sick to think about it.

As Earth month comes to a close, I want to challenge all of us to learn some food storage Protection Pointers from Glad®.  The website has many pointers about how to properly store fruits, vegetables, and other foods so they will last longer and taste better when you do eat them.  

We go through a lot of strawberries around here.  I have started to buy many cartons of them because the boys love them!  Here's the best way to store them:

#SAVEITSUNDAY #FoodFairyTale

I think apples is seriously what we waste the most of.  The boys ADORE apples, but cannot usually eat a whole one by themselves.  An apple sounds so delicious but mid way through, they realize they are full and want to save it for later.  You don't know how many times I've come upon an apple that looks like this:

half eaten applesWell, now I know that I should probably take the time to cut up a bunch and let the boys eat what they can so we can waste fewer apples.

#SAVEITSUNDAY #FoodFairyTale

I have created these two handy printables for you to download, print, and keep on your fridge to anticipate just how long your foods will stay fresh and delicious.  (Just click on the image and download the PDF.)


#SAVEITSUNDAY #FoodFairyTale

Download this free printable to hang on your fridge!

Are you ready for a challenge?  Do you want to reduce food waste and stop throwing away spoiled food?  Check out Glad Protection Pointers and stop letting so much food go to waste.

I've admitted that we throw away way too many apples….what is your most thrown away food?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad Food Protection. The opinions and text are all mine.