Saving Up for Disney

Budgeting Tips for Your Entire Life!

May 25, 2016

10 Budget-Friendly Staycation Ideas for Summer with Kids

10 Budget-Friendly Staycation Ideas for Summer with Kids

Summer is coming and I need a bag-of-tricks ready to keep my four kids occupied all summer. I’ve come up with a few staycation ideas that I know my kids will love and remember! As much as I’d love to run away to Walt Disney World right now, sometimes it’s just not in the budget for a big family vacation. The ultimate summer-on-a-budget staycation is easy on the wallet and still full of fun! It just takes a little creativity and planning.

This is the first year that I’ll be spending at home with the kids as a SAHM. I’m equally excited about being able to relax and also worried that I’m going to have four bored kids on my hands after the first week at home! My plan is to get the kids on board and schedule special at-home events on the calendar. Some of these activities could be spread out over the course of the week, leading up to the “big day”. It really gives everyone something to look forward to and not focus on what we “can’t” do (take a vacation).

Here are my 10 budget-friendly staycation ideas!


Art & Craft Show

Kids love to get crafty and it doesn’t have to be pricey. You probably already have some craft supplies laying around that you could dig out. Set up an area outside where you can get messy and creative.

  • Local craft stores frequently mail out 50% coupons or you could search for one online or shop the dollar store for cheap crafting supplies.
  • Give everyone a sketch book and have a thirty minute session where you draw the portrait of the person next to you (this is sure to induce giggles!)
  • Save your glass jars from jelly or spaghetti sauce and use acrylic or glass paints to decorate.
  • Make pipe cleaner sculptures.
  • Use torn pieces of tissue paper and a glue stick on velum paper to make “stained glass” images.
  • Using clean paint brushes and bucket of water outside, have kids quickly “paint” a picture on the sidewalk and see if everyone else can guess what it is before it evaporates!
  • Recreate a famous painting in your own style.
  • Pull out cheap watercolor trays and paint a scene from your backyard.
  • Rainy day? Set up a still life on the table and have everyone draw the same scene then compare your pictures.
  • Cut out pictures from magazines and “mod podge” the images onto wooden frames or boxes.
  • Make paper bag puppet and have kids create a puppet show with their creations.
  • On the last day, display everyone’s artwork in the house and hang a handcrafted blue ribbon on each kid’s best work!
Art night for a staycation with the kids {Saving up for Disney}

Oh sure, honey, it looks JUST like me!

Under the Big Top

After we went to the circus (the animal-free variety) a few years ago, my kids were fascinated with the tricks and skills they saw.  Lots of great activity here to get you off the couch!

  • Dress up like a clown in old over-sized clothing and costumes.
  • A strip of blue masking tape on the patio makes an acceptable “tight rope”.
  • See who can keep multiple hula hoops going at the same time (one around your neck and one around your arm?!).
  • Practice balancing a balloon on your nose…and then walk the tight rope!
  • Create an obstacle course in the backyard.
  • Paint each child’s face like a circus animal
  • Enjoy a snack of peanuts and popcorn

Go Camping

Camping is cheap and fun {Saving up for Disney}

  • Local campsites have inexpensive overnight fees and you could try to catch your dinner in the lake!
  • Take a walk with flashlights to explore the sights and sounds after nightfall.
  • If you don’t want to stray too far from home, camp in your backyard instead. Pitch a tent, barbecue dinner over coals, roast marshmallows and fall asleep under the stars.
  • Or simply roll out the sleeping bags in the living room and “camp” in the house under the comfort of your ceiling fan!

Get wet!! Free ideas for summer fun {Saving up for Disney}

Get Wet 

  • If you don’t have your own pool, perhaps a family member or friend will let you “borrow” theirs for the day (especially if you volunteer to bring everyone dinner!)
  • Our local YMCA has a great zero-entry pool, water slide and play area for just a few dollars per person. Check at your local pools and find out when open-swim time is available.
  • High schools often open their pools in the summer for a nominal fee.
  • Wash the car, there is always an opportunity for a soapy sponge fight there.
  • Or just set the sprinklers or spray the hose and run through the water, every kid loves that!
  • I’m not crazy about water balloons because of the mess they leave behind, but sponges soaked in water are perfect for a good super-soaking!


A Night at the Movies…in Your Living Room

  • Pull out an old favorite and host a themed movie evening complete with handcrafted posters, costumes and a themed dinner around the film. (ie: Watching Mulan? Make Chinese stir fry and rice).
  • Pull out the floor pillows, pop up some kernels and settle down together after the sun has set.
  • Give the kids a task of recreating a favorite film in their own interpretation. Come up with a script and costumes and present it to parents!

Backyard carnival fun for summer {Saving up for Disney}

Backyard Carnival 

Gather up stuff from around the house for game play in the yard. Kids love to get in the silly spirit!

  • Craft blue ribbons for the winners of the contests.
  • Empty 2-liter soda bottles and a ball for a knock ’em down game. Or fill 2-liter bottles with water and use them for ring toss.
  • Toss a ball into a bowl or a coffee can.
  • Have a watermelon seed-spitting contest.
  • Pull out the face paint for added fun!
  • Have a mini-pie eating contest.
  • Serve hot dogs and potato chips outside, followed up with root beer floats.

Make sweet treats for inexpensive fun {Saving up for Disney}

Sweet Treats

If you have a budding baker on your hands (or simply kids who love sweets!), this is a fun way to get creative and maybe a little messy.

  • A bucket of vanilla ice cream, a few toppings and candy from the dollar store and you can all have amazing sundaes!
  • Or find a recipe online for making your own ice cream.
  • Find a delectable over-the-top recipe on Pinterest and make it for dessert.
  • Bake cupcakes and have fun creatively decorating them.
  • Spoon frosting into plastic baggies and snip off the corner for quick and easy pastry bags.
  • Make a summer-time themed “gingerbread house” that requires no baking with graham crackers, store bought frosting and candies.

2015-02-15 14.13.18

Fort City

When it’s too hot to play outside, take refuge in the house under a homemade fort!

  • Sofa pillows and blankets are fair game for fort making inside.
  • Pull out the dining room chairs, drape sheets and use binder clips to hold them up.
  • If you want to get fancy, a string of twinkle lights would be fabulous.
  • If you have a few cardboard boxes, take the time to paint and decorate them, cutting out windows and a door flap.
  • I think a quiet evening of reading is in order under your forts because horseplay would make your city fall down!

Family Game Night {Saving up for Disney}

Board Game Bonanza

One of our favorite family events is gathering around a few board games for a fun evening of competition and laughs.

  • Borrow some games that you don’t have from friends or family so you have a nice variety for all ages and host a game day at home.
  • Simple sandwiches make a great meal and have plenty to snack on between turns.
  • Write out your own Pictionary or Charades game ideas.
  • Find “Minute to Win It” games on Pinterest that use items from around the house.


An Elegant Evening

  • Every kid has a dress up box or can at least borrow something fun from mom and dad for the evening.
  • Time to pull out the sequins, get glamorous and have a fancy night at home.
  • Light a few candles at the table and elevate even the most boring weekday dinner.
  • Serve up a Shirley Temple in a fancy glass and the kids will feel so special!

Hope this list of ideas starts you on your way towards a memorable summer staycation! 


May 23, 2016

Minnie Mouse Hair Bow GIVEAWAY!

Minnie Mouse Hair Bow GIVEAWAY!

I’ve been an Etsy seller for 9 years so I love supporting small business. Though I’m currently on a shop break during my “maternity leave” from selling my appliqued tees, I’m still scoping out Etsy for unique Disney-inspired products. I ran across these adorable puffy Minnie Mouse hair bows from A Fancy Finish and totally fell in love!

Rachael sews these up herself and has graciously offered a giveaway, read on!

Minnie Mouse Hair Bow GIVEAWAY!  Minnie Mouse Hair Bow GIVEAWAY!

Minnie Mouse Hair Bow GIVEAWAY!

photo credit-Rachael Hixon

This over sized bow is perfect for a day in the Park. Here are my reasons why these Minnie Mouse hair bows are great:

  1. As much as I love Mouse-Ear headbands, there are a few reasons why I won’t wear them (they risk falling off, they squeeze the sides of my head a bit too much and cause a headache and they don’t hold my hair back)
  2. It’s just at home on my head as it is on my daughter, meaning it’s appropriate for all ages (so long as you have adequate amounts of hair for it!)
  3. It has a hair elastic so my hair is back in a pony tail and off my face.
  4. It has Minnie dots, my favorite!
  5. You can wear it with a hat! Unlike Mouse-Ear headbands or even Mouse-Ear hats that don’t shade your face, you can pair the Minnie Mouse hair bow with a hat.
  6. The hair elastic is replaceable. Rachael has cleverly created a snap in the center of the bow so the elastic can be replaced, so clever! (you can see the snap, shown in image below)

Minnie Mouse Hair Bow GIVEAWAY!

Would you like one of these A Fancy Finish Minnie Mouse hair bows for yourself? Here’s the giveaway.

A Fancy Finish on Etsy

A Fancy Finish on Instagram

A Fancy Finish on Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to US/Canada residents. Rafflecopter will randomly choose the winner. I will email you and you’ll have three days to respond. If you do not respond I will choose a new winner. I will mail the bow to the winner.


May 19, 2016

New Saving Up for Disney Blog Affiliate – Gymboree!

A word about my affiliates: I only have affiliate links for items that I’ve actually used and want to share with my readers. Please know that by shopping through my affiliate links, you help support me and my blog. Thank you so much!

My nephew, son and daughter all in Gymboree

My nephew, son and daughter all in Gymboree

I’ve been a Gymboree customer since my 12-year old boy was born! I’ve always loved the design, quality and price. The Gymboree clothes that his older brother wore were handed down to him, then to my nephew and now my 4-year old is wearing them! They really do last and last. My kids are regularly dressed head to toe in Gymboree, from pajamas, socks and underpants, shirts and shorts and even shoes and accessories.

My son wearing a shirt that his brother wore 9 years ago!

My son wearing a shirt that his brother wore 9 years ago!

I was so excited to have a stepdaughter and have a reason to shop the precious Gymboree girl’s line! Have you ever shopped and received Gymbucks? They are a great way to save even more on high-quality Gymboree clothing.


Loved this polka dot Gymboree ensemble from a few years ago

And now I have a new baby girl who is already outfitted in Gymboree…I bought items for her the week I found out I was having a girl. She has a few adorable outfits waiting for her in the closet that I just couldn’t resist buying!


Brand new Gymboree for the brand new baby!

I’m so happy to announce that Gymboree is a new affiliate on my blog. If you are so inclined to shop Gymboree, I’d appreciate if you clicked my link to help support my blog in a small way.

Gymboree Children's Clothing

May 18, 2016

Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney

Kncok out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we are sharing summer travel tips.

“Are we there yet?” Does that sound familiar? Long road trips can be challenging for adults, let alone kids! I’m personally not a fan of being confined to my seat for long periods of time. Kids in particular can get cranky when sitting too long. Fortunately for my family, it’s only about a 90 minute drive to Disneyland, so we often drive up and back in the same day. But if you have a longer drive ahead of you, it’s helpful to have a bag of tricks ready to occupy and entertain the kids on your road trip adventure!

Here are my kid-friendly road trip tips for driving to Disney!

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Reward Good Behavior

In the days leading up to our vacation, I use a “Disney Dollar” system to reward good behavior and pay for jobs done that are above and beyond the usual chores. The kids can use the Dollars earned on souvenirs during the trip. Cash prizes speak to everyone, don’t they?! Whining and fighting in the car doesn’t have to be the norm, especially if you give incentive towards good behavior. You could incorporate this tactic on the road, handing the kids Disney Dollars that you print at home as reward for appropriate behavior. Whining or fighting may “cost” them their cash. Kids can then cash in their faux money for the real thing at the end of the road. Bribery? Maybe…but if it gets you a few hours of peace, so be it!

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Feed ME!

There are lots of fun Disney dining ideas to use in the car, from sippy cups, plates, snack bags and water bottles. Stock up on Disney-themed food snacks in the store or online to feed the kids on the road and it makes the anticipation to your destination all the more fun!

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links) – Brothers Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Fruit Crisps, Disney Frozen Food Storage Container By Zak!, Disney Pixar Cars Fruit Flavored Snacks, Disney Mickey Mouse Tritan Water Bottle, Bumkins Disney Baby Reusable Snack Bag


Draw Me a Picture

I converted this empty Chick-fil-A salad container into a self-contained art box. We dine at Chick-fil-A about once a week and I always order my favorite, the Cobb Salad with Avocado Lime Ranch dressing! So why not upcycle those sturdy salad boxes into something useful? I decided to turn my boxes into a road trip art box.

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

My kids could entertain themselves for hours with drawing so having an art box for a road trip is ideal. But I don’t want crayons melting between the seats or markers making their way to the floor so it’s best to have everything contained in one box per child (no fighting over the art supplies this way either!)

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

I gave my son a sheet of Disney themed stickers to decorate his box and filled it with drawing implements. A good supply of blank drawing paper, printable Disney coloring pages and activity sheets attached to a clipboard is sure to keep him occupied in the car!

Answer the “Are We There Yet?” Question

Mouse Ears Mom has this perfect printable countdown calendar to use in the days leading up to your vacation. What if you took this concept into the car? Tape the pieces across the inner door frame of the car or across the ceiling (someplace where your child can see it) and move the Monorail to count down the hours until you reach your Magical destination!

Photo Credit: Mouse Ears Mom

You could also print out a map and slip the paper into a plastic sleeve. Use a wipe-off marker to show kids how far you have gone on your route.

Give them Early Souvenirs

Everyone loves a present! Stock up with a few fun things that you can wrap and surprise the kids with on the road. Coloring books, the new Disney LEGO figures, a character t-shirt and glow-sticks (for them to use in the parks at night) are all fun & cheap.

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links) – Art of Coloring: Disney Villains, LEGO The Disney Series Minifigures, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Little Boys Toddler T Shirt, Disney Frozen Glow Wand


Play a Game

One of our favorite travel games is “Guess Who I Am”. One person gives three clues about a Disney character and the other people in the car have to ask questions until they are ready to guess. The game would go like this: “I am yellow, I like honey and I live in the woods”. Then the other people could ask yes or no questions about characteristics, like “Do you wear clothes?”, “Do you talk?” or “Do you have fur?” until someone is ready to guess, “Winnie the Pooh!” Obviously this game can be played to the child’s age with more recognizable or obscure characters.

Or try the Alphabet Game and take turns naming Disney characters through the alphabet, like “A is for Aladdin, B is for Bambi, etc”

Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

A rare road trip treat, Slurpees!

Stories and Songs

I’ve never been able to read in the car (I get motion sickness!) but toting books in the car can occupy the time nicely. If you can’t read, consider a story on disc that everyone can enjoy along the way. And of course Disney music from the parks and soundtracks will get everyone singing and in the mood for the wonderful times ahead!

From left to right (Amazon affiliate links)Disney Storybook Collection, Inside Out Read-Along Storybook and CD, Disney’s Greatest, Vol. 1


For more summer travel tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Blue | Summer Travel Tips Loop:

May 6, 2016

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

This post is sponsored by Baskin-Robbins in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Growing up, Mother’s Day involved a handmade card for mom, church services, lunch afterwards with my extended family and a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake at home for dessert! I have distinct memories of my dad taking me with him to the local Baskin-Robbins when I was about 8 years old to choose the ice cream cake for my mom. I remember that it was rectangular shaped and covered with icing flowers. And it had a mint chocolate chip ice cream layer because that was my favorite (I recall him angling for pralines and cream himself!) I’m sure my mom would have been happy with whatever flavor we chose because they are all good!

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Mother’s Day Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake

Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes elevate dessert to a special level. They’ve been making ice cream since 1945 and have created over 1,300 flavors! Right now Baskin-Robbins is celebrating moms with a lineup of colorful Rosette ice cream cakes that can personalized just for mom. The pink Rosette Cake features a trendy ombre design and has a special message on a white chocolate plaque. For our Mother’s Day gathering, I chose the Elegant Rosette Cake with a cascading bouquet of flowers and personal message. I love the bright colors!

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Both of Baskin-Robbins’ Mother’s Day ice cream cakes can be customized to feature mom’s favorite ice cream and cake flavor combination. They can be pre-ordered in-store or through Baskin-Robbins’ online cake ordering site.

For this design I had my choice of either chocolate or vanilla cake and 16 different ice cream flavors. For our Mother’s Day cake, I chose chocolate cake and OREO® Cookies ‘n Cream, always a favorite! Baskin-Robbins’ has an extensive flavor library, including the May Flavor of the Month, Mom’s Makin’ Cookies™. Mom’s Makin’ Cookies features brown sugar flavored ice cream with chocolate chip cookie pieces, chocolate flavored chips, and a cookie dough batter flavored ribbon…doesn’t that sound decadent?!

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Order Ice Cream Cakes Online

Baskin-Robbins online cake ordering couldn’t be easier! Click the Baskin-Robbins link to browse through the gallery of ice cream cakes. From here you can create your own customizable cake by choosing the size, favorite ice cream and cake flavor combination. There are up to 16 Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavors to choose from (including Mint Chocolate Chip, Jamoca® Almond Fudge or Very Berry Strawberry) and one of two cake varieties, chocolate or vanilla.

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad
There are also options to add on additional items, including candles, to make your celebration even more special. Online cake orders are available for pick-up on the date you select, with cakes available as soon as 24 hours after the order is placed.

Or Order in Store!

We have a brand new Baskin-Robbins about 2 miles from our house so my little one and I stopped in to place our cake order. There was a book of cake designs and the cake decorator took down my order details. Quick and easy… and since we were there, we just had to get a cone too!

How will you celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day? Consider ordering your Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake today…you know she’ll love it!



May 5, 2016

Disney with Your Preschooler-Insider Tips for a Magical Day

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Disney is perfect for preschoolers!  The colorful parades, yummy treats, everything in Fantasyland and the familiar Disney Junior characters around the park are ideal for preschoolers. On the flip side there is also the possibility of waiting in long lines, new experiences that could make preschoolers nervous, loud noises and strange food that might sour the perfect Disney day. I’ve traveled to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland with my preschooler and it’s always been a fun and exciting adventure! I’ll share my tips on how to make the most of your day.

Here are my top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with a preschooler!

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Skip School

Pull your kid out of preschool for the day and plan your Disneyland vacation on a weekday. Ideally you should visit when most elementary-aged kids are in school with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday being the best. Avoiding weekends, summer and school holidays will help minimize crowds as well. 

Pack a Preschool Bag

Be sure to take in everything your preschooler will need for the day. My 4-year old likes to wear his own little backpack, filled with necessities. I toss in an extra pair of clothes, a few snacks, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. If you are staying into the night, grab a few glow in the dark treats (like bracelets or wands) from the dollar store pre-trip for your preschooler to wear. Easier to spot them in the dark and they love the glow, of course!

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Measure Up

Before your visit, measure your preschooler while they’re wearing the shoes they’ll wear on the trip. From here, check their height against the online height restrictions for each ride. Don’t promise a ride on Splash Mountain until you can be sure that your preschooler is tall enough to ride! Here is a list of the Disneyland height requirements.

Follow Their schedule

Is your preschooler accustomed to waking, eating and sleeping at a particular time? You might want to consider sticking to the same schedule, especially if your child is sensitive to change or if pushing back meals and bedtimes make them moody. If you really want them to stay up later for the vacation, plan ahead and start extending their bedtime by 15 minutes every night for the week leading up to the trip.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Nervous about riding.

Know What they Like (and What They Don’t Like)

Preschoolers are notoriously opinionated (at least mine are!) Ask them ahead of the trip what rides and shows are “must see” and make sure at the very least, that those things happen. Only you know your child’s likes and dislikes. If you know that your kid is terrified of characters, don’t force them to hug one. Same goes for forcing your preschooler onto a ride that they are afraid of. Your preschooler is going to have a rough day if they feel pressured. Check out this post with tips on what to do with nervous kids.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Preschool Dining is Easy

Jambalaya? Monte Cristo sandwich? Your preschooler may turn up their nose at such nontraditional fare. But even the pickiest preschooler can find great bites at Disney. Most restaurants offer a kids meal with childhood favorites like pizza, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and fries. Look for the Mickey Check Meals for healthier options that include veggies and fruit. Does your preschooler love characters? A character dining experience, like Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn can be a memorable way to capture photos and collect signatures.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Strollers are Still a Good Idea

Even if your preschooler hasn’t ridden in a stroller in years, the miles of walking and the hours of standing in lines will take a toll. Achy feet and tired bodies add up to cranky kids so consider bringing a stroller. Even a small umbrella type is better than nothing. You especially don’t want to be carrying an exhausted preschooler out of the park at the end of the night! Your preschooler might even surprise you and take a mid-day nap.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Let Them Burn Off Steam

Preschoolers need to MOVE! Find play areas that will allow them freedom to run around a bit. Allow about an hour in your schedule for them to play freely. This might mean taking your preschooler back to the hotel pool for a swim. After some free play, your preschooler will hopefully have more patience for standing in lines.

These are the top tips on how to have a memorable day at Disney with your preschooler!

Follow Their Lead

It can be hard to follow a touring plan with preschoolers so don’t be afraid to ditch the schedule and let your preschooler take the lead. They want to ride Toy Story Midway Mania three times in a row? Go for it! They are enamored with Minnie Mouse? Get back in line for the meet n’ greet and let your preschooler say hello again. When you follow your preschooler’s lead, sometimes some really magical things happen!

Traveling with a baby, toddler or tweens? Be sure to check out these posts as well.

 Babies-PIN  Disneyland with a Toddler - Top 14 Tips for a Happy Day at the Happiest Place on Earth!  PIN-Tweens and Toddlers at Disney

What tips do you have for taking preschoolers to Disney?


Park Savers logo

I recommend Park Savers for discount Disney tickets that you can purchase in advance (affiliate link)

May 4, 2016

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Disclosure: I received the Panasonic Lumix ZS60. This is my honest review and no further compensation will be given. All opinions are my own.

The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

In addition to my Smartphone camera, I have a “nice” camera that I usually take with me on vacation. Yes, the photos are of a higher quality than those I capture with my Smartphone, however the “nice” camera is also really big and heavy! This can be extremely cumbersome when visiting amusement parks because I have a bulky and heavy camera hanging around my neck for the entire day. It also just simply doesn’t take low light photos are well as I’d like.

What Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks?

I’ve been looking online for a more compact camera that will still meet my needs. Something small and lightweight. A camera that will still capture tack sharp images. A camera that would still catch the shot even in low light. And of course, it had to stay within a reasonable budget. All my research pointed me to the Panasonic Lumix ZS60. I was beyond thrilled to receive one through TravelingMoms!

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

The TravelingMoms recently took their annual retreat at Walt Disney World. While I was home with my newborn, the TMOMs were soaking in the beauty of Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, watching a sneak preview of the new summer show Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and meeting Jane Goodall! Jealous? Just a smidge! TMOMs Amy Barseghian and Leslie Harvey were kind enough to share these images with me that they captured during the trip on their Panasonic Lumix ZS60 (since I haven’t ventured farther than my own backyard lately!)

I’m anxious to test this camera during my next Disney trip and this is why I think the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is a perfect camera to take with you on your next amusement park adventure.

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian

Compact and lightweight

I’ve been lugging around my heavy DSLR on every vacation for the past 8 years. And yes, it takes great images but I hate having to carry such a large camera when visiting amusement parks. The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is super lightweight so you can easily slide it into your pocket, backpack or fanny pack (yes, you heard me, I wear a fanny pack at Disney!)

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

Multiple Modes

There are 11 possible modes on the Panasonic Lumix ZS60. If you just want to point and shoot without worry, set the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 to Intelligent Auto Mode and the camera will take photos with automatic settings.

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian


A small swivel on top of the camera offers optical zoom at 30x magnification without degrading the picture quality. Perfect for capturing moments undetected, catching details of the parades and shows or getting up close and personal with the Characters.

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian

Lumix 4K

4K technology enables Post Focus function to refocus images after they are captured. Capture the scene, review the image on the camera’s LCD and touch any portion of the photo to refocus. That’s impressive!

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

Low Light Capture

We’ve all tried to take a shot during Pirates of the Caribbean, right? But without the use of flash photography, capturing images in low light can be tricky. And photos of fireworks? Forget about it! Check out how beautifully the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 captures this nighttime image of the new Disney Animal Kingdom show, Rivers of Light!

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian

What’s your favorite feature of the Panasonic Lumix ZS60? 



April 22, 2016

GIVEAWAY! Current Disney Collection by Jamberry Designs are Retiring!

GIVEAWAY! Current Disney Collection by Jamberry Designs are Retiring!

Disney and Jamberry have collaborated to create a gorgeous collection of wraps that are perfect for your Magical vacation! But all good things must come to an end and the first phase from The Disney Collection by Jamberry is sadly retiring.

Disney Collection by Jamberry GIVEAWAY Disney Collection by Jamberry GIVEAWAY

No more Bow-Dacious. No more Aurora’s Castle. And no more Sapphire Sea! You only have until May 3rd to pick up these gorgeous Disney Collection by Jamberry wraps before they retire. There WILL be new wraps coming but these will be leaving to make room for the new. However I’m offering you a Jamberry giveaway to get these amazing wraps in your hands! Keep reading on how to enter.

Disney Collection by Jamberry GIVEAWAY

As a Disney fan, the Disney Collection by Jamberry has been a dream come true. I have loved sharing these wraps with my fellow Disney lovers and of course, wearing them every chance I can.

GIVEAWAY! Current Disney Collection by Jamberry Designs are Retiring!


Since I’ve started wearing Jamberry, I’ve always coordinated my wraps when taking a Disney trip. Even when I can’t get to the Parks, I wear them at home and they just make me happy! I couldn’t join my TravelingMom friends at Walt Disney World, but I still rocked Disney Minnie Mouse Bow-Dacious and Pop Heart wraps!


Whether you’re planning a vacation or simply just love to show your DisneySide at home, these wraps are simply gorgeous. This first phase is available until May 3rd, so get them while you still can.


I’m hosting a giveaway here on my blog of a $25 Jamberry gift card that you can use to purchase any Jamberry products on the website, including the Disney Collection by Jamberry wraps  or anything else on the website that “rocks your dots”. I’ll also send you one of these new Disney Collection by Jamberry wraps!

If you can’t WAIT for the giveaway to end and just HAVE to buy them now, these Disney Collection by Jamberry wraps are available NOW through my link.

I am a Jamberry Independent Consultant so please email me if you have any questions about Jamberry wraps, the Disney Collection by Jamberry or if you are interested in hosting your own Jamberry party in-home or online!

GIVEAWAY! Current Disney Collection by Jamberry Designs are Retiring!

One of the ways I “save up for Disney” is as a Jamberry Independent Consultant. I love being my own boss, working with other women and making a fantastic commission. The icing on the cake is the Disney Collection by Jamberry, which is proving to be a highly desirable product and easy to sell. If you’ve been on the fence, now’s the time to JOIN Jamberry!! (P.S. The 30-40% commission is lovely too!!)

Message me or email at for more info. You can also join up via this link.

Participants in this giveaway will be added to my subscription list for my Jamberry newsletter. You can easily opt-out if you decide you’d rather not receive this newsletter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open only to residents of USA and Canada. Disney Collection by Jamberry wrap sent to winner will be of my choice.

April 17, 2016
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5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

These are the 5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation! Don't be caught unprepared before your first Disneyland or Walt Disney World trip!

You’ve never been to Disneyland before? True, Disneyland requires less upfront planning than Walt Disney World, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to think ahead of your trip. Rather than just showing up and hoping that your vacation days fall into place, there are definitely a few things to consider pre-visit.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

Planning Your First Disneyland Vacation

An old friend of mine went to Disneyland a few years back with her granddaughter, son and daughter-in-law. The overnight trip was planned on a whim and they had one day to spend inside the Park. They’d done no research ahead of time and sadly, it turned out to be an unfortunate visit. The Park was busy and crowded and they didn’t arrive until afternoon. The trip was a surprise for the 4-yr old, who ended up terrified of every character and ride because she wasn’t familiar with anything. The family (who were on a special diet) didn’t know what to eat. They ended up staying only a few hours in the Park and returned home, sad that things hadn’t worked out as they’d envisioned.

Certainly this story broke my heart because it didn’t have to end that way at all! With a bit of preparation and planning they could have made the most of their visit. Here are my tips on what you need to do before your first Disney vacation.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation


Disneyland, having a smaller footprint than Walt Disney World, requires less upfront planning. Advanced Dining Reservations are generally unnecessary and you’ll schedule FastPass tickets throughout the day (instead of upfront like at Walt Disney World). Your Disneyland day can therefore be more spur-of-the-moment. But that doesn’t mean you should just show up at the gates without a plan.

These are just a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Before your visit, you should have a general idea of the rides, attractions and shows you want to see. Ask each family member what they want to accomplish and write it down. Take a look at the Park maps online to get an idea of location so you’re familiar with the “lay of the Lands”.
  • What time of year is optimal for your visit? Know that certain times of year (when kids are on school break, holidays and even weekends) are going to be much more crowded than a visit in the “off season”.
  • The Disneyland Resort offers two amusement Parks – Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park. Are you going to stay in one Park for the entire day or purchase a ParkHopper that allows you access to both Parks on the same day? I recommend Park Savers for discounted tickets that can be purchased upfront (affiliate link)
  • Want to maximize your time in the Parks? Plan on arriving at “rope drop” bright and early when the gates open and stay until the Park closes. Early morning and late night hours tend to be the least busy and allow you quicker line access to your favorite rides.
  • Do you have someone in your group with special needs? Disneyland offers a Disability Assistance Service (DAS) so make City Hall your first stop of the day.
  • What will you eat? Do you want to pack in snacks, enjoy sit-down full-service dining for every meal or eat counter-service all day?

Your first research stop should be the official Disneyland website. You’ll be able to access an entertainment schedule, see which rides and attractions will be closed for refurbishment during your visit as well as view complete dining menus and prices for all restaurants.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Make Decisions Before You Get There

If you are making the trip alone, then it’s no sweat to make decisions on the fly. But if you’re traveling with your family, it’s best to have a game plan in place and get decisions made before the trip. Know that everyone will have expectations about what they want to see and do on their first Disneyland visit and you want to make sure that those dreams are fulfilled!

  • Ask each person in your family what their top three things are and make sure those happen.
  • As the resident “Disney fan”, I am guilty of having a plan in my head about how our Disney day is going to play out…without letting my husband know! Oops. This can lead to major disappointment if the adults aren’t on the same page. I like dining in the Parks and my husband prefers to pack food in. I like to stay in the Parks way after dark and he’s ready to leave after sunset. If you don’t discuss these things upfront before your trip you might run into some big frustrations.
  • Decide where and what you’re going to eat to save time. We like to plan what restaurants and meals we eat upfront so the decision is already made when hunger strikes. Make sure to plan those Advance Dining Reservations if certain dining locations are a “must-do”.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Get Everyone Familiar

I’m not big on surprising kids with a Disney vacation because I think half of the fun is in the anticipation. Letting kids know about your vacation and having them help you in the planning stages is especially important if your children are nervous or have special needs. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest for “countdown calendars”.

No need to watch every Disney movie ever made, but a general familiarity with some of the Characters can be helpful, especially for young children. Many of the Fantasyland rides are based on Disney movies so watching a few before your trip will give them a bit of a background. Here is a post about what movies I recommend before your trip.

Order the free Disney vacation planning DVD and watch it several times beforehand. If my child is on the fence about a particular ride, I’ll even pull up a video of it on YouTube for them to watch and that gets them excited about riding it on their visit.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Ask Someone Who Knows

Naturally, as someone who has been visiting Disneyland regularly since she was just a baby, I consider myself quite knowledgeable on the subject and was disheartened that my coworker hadn’t asked for my advice up before the trip. Knowing her family dynamic, I’d have been happy to offer her customized tips that would have maximize their Disney day. Chances are you know someone who has been to Disney and who can verse you a bit with their “story” and sage advice for your visit.

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

Find Help Online

If you aren’t able to chat Disney with anyone on your personal circle, you can search online for just about anything you need to plan the best vacation. I must highly recommend TravelingMom first, as we have dozens of writers who are familiar with the ins and outs of Disney Parks around the world. There are thousands of blogs and websites dedicated to Disney travel so a quick Google search should help you find what you need. And finally, if you can’t find an answer to your Disney question, ask on the Disney Parks Moms Panel and they’ll be able to offer you a personalized response.




April 15, 2016
1 Comment

Organizing a Shared Bedroom-Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SnugDryUltra #CollectiveBias

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby #SnugDryUltra #ad

With six people in a 1000-square foot home, we’ve had to get very creative with our space. With four kids (a newborn, 4-yr old and two 12-yr olds), organization is key to keeping a tidy and well-run house! I’m here to share my budget-friendly nursery decorating and organization tips for combining a nursery and a big-kid’s room.

Big Kid and Nursery Shared Bedroom

I would like to share the ways that I created a nursery on a budget, including my tried-and-tested organization tips for combining a big kid and a baby in the same room. My 12-yr old son shares a bedroom with his 4-yr old brother and now my other 12-yr old is sharing her bedroom with her newborn baby sister. I’ve had to come up with some creative ways of organizing and storing clothing, diapers and other baby supplies in what is already a tight space. I also want to make sure my tween has a safe place to store her items, up and away from baby hands and mouth!

Here are my top tips:

Multiple Use Furniture

We don’t have the space in this room for a dresser so we make do with fabric boxes and bins. This compact shelving unit holds four soft-sided fabric bins with baby essentials. I have organized them with like-items.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Clothing and socks are in one bin and bedtime items like nightgowns and swaddles in another bin. Receiving blankets are stacked in the third and overstock items like extra baby wipes, lotion and shampoo are in the last bin.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

The top of the shelving unit doubles as a changing table. I simply purchased a changing table pad and my husband secured it to the back of the shelving unit so it won’t slide off. I sewed up simple fabric pad covers for a unique look.

Make Space on the Wall

A single shelf within arms reach of the changing table is a must for me. It keeps things close at hand, like diaper ointment, lotion and the thermometer. But it also keeps these things up and away from little hands. I also have a wire basket that holds toys and later when the baby is a bit older, I’ll be able to give her one to entertain herself while I change her. Baskets and bins are easy to find at the dollar store.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Hang it Up

If you can’t hide it or put it away in the closet, get it off the floor and hang it up. Rather than pile them in a box, we clip hair bows neatly onto a ribbon hanger that is hung on the wall.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Tween side of the closet

Safe Storage

Having a 12-yr old and baby share a space is not without its challenges. We need to make sure that certain items are kept away from little hands. My tween keeps electronics and cords stored in a plastic bin up in the closet. Art supplies and toys with tiny parts are also kept up high so baby can’t get to them.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Hide It

One of my favorite storage locations is under the bed. An inexpensive bed skirt can hide a multitude of things! Both of my girls were recently gifted hand-me-downs so we have the clothes folded into plastic storage bins underneath the twin bed where we can quickly access them. Diapers in a next size up are stored under the baby crib along with low baskets that hold toys and books so we can easily get to them.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Storage for Overstock

I save by stocking up when I can and storing the extras in creative ways so they aren’t taking up precious bedroom space! Extra diapers are stacked into a fabric holder that hangs from the end of the crib. We always keep a good supply of extra diapers on hand, because you definitely don’t want to be without!

A Beautiful DIY Bedroom for Baby - Nursery Decor on a Budget

We stock up on Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra. Huggies Snug and Dry Ultra is exclusive to Walmart and the low price of $7.97 makes it easy to stock up. The baby section at Walmart features quality products like Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra at a great price.

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

  • Snug & Dry Ultra has a unique quilted liner that locks away wetness from tender skin.
  • One peek at the Wetness Indicator lets you know if baby needs a change. When the indicator turns blue, you’ll know baby’s ready for a new diaper! Available in sizes 1 and 2.
  • The Leak Lock System provides up to 12 hours of protection to help prevent leaks.
  • Quality and value in one diaper: Huggies Snug & Dry Ultra

Organizing a Shared Bedroom - A Beautiful Space for a Big Girl & Baby

Check out the coupon, for $2.00 off any one pack of Huggies at Walmart…just click and print!

What are your favorite kid’s room organizing ideas? Share in the comments –