February 1, 2017
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Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

If you love Disney what better place to spend Valentine’s Day than at the Happiest Place on Earth! What can you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland? Whether it’s just the two sweethearts or you’ve got the whole family with you, there are some very lovable ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland. Keep reading for sweet ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland from morning to night!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing via the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland

Love is in the Air – Photo Credit: Disney Store

Breakfast

Start off the day on either a sweet or a savory note. Since you may indulge in some sweet treats through the day, might be best to have some protein in your tummy first! We like to grab breakfast inside Downtown Disney District and eat while we wait for rope drop. There are hearty (and low-priced) breakfast sandwiches at either Earl of Sandwich or La Brea Bakery. Or sip and go with a fruit smoothie from Jamba Juice.

Sweet Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Inside the parks if you’re prefer a leisurely breakfast with your sweetie-pie, you can dine on Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon and fruit at Carnation Cafe and watch the crowds rushing by. And if you want to start the day with something sweet, swing into Jolly Holly Bakery and Cafe for a cinnamon roll or muffin.

A Fresh Bouquet

If you’re staying at a Disneyland Resort Hotel, consider a call to Disney Floral & Gift for the delivery of a magical floral arrangement. They can also go all out with romantic in-room decor like rose petals on the bed, spa robes and chocolate covered strawberries! If you’re celebrating the love with the whole family, they even have collections that include something for everyone, like red roses for Mom and sweet treats for the kids.

A Sweet Souvenir

Keep your eyes open for adorable love-inspired souvenirs in the Disneyland shops, including this Mickey & Minnie boutique lace-trimmed bag!

Image Credit: Disney Store

If you like to purchase your souvenirs online and have them arrive to you at home, shop the Disney Store online. They have dozens of precious Valentine’s Day themed items that will delight everyone.

Sweet Sips and Snacks

Enjoy a classic afternoon tea at Steakhouse 55 inside the Disneyland Hotel. As a special treat for Valentine’s (available Feb. 3-5, 10-12 and Feb. 14), the Classic Afternoon Tea will feature Shanghai Rose black tea, specialty tea sandwiches, a chocolate raspberry scone with vanilla glaze, chocolate cupcakes with ganache, pink velvet cupcakes with champagne mousse, a chocolate ganache cupcake, chocolate-dipped strawberries and a heart-shaped macaron.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Image Credit: Disney Parks

Very Sweet Treat

Only available on Feb 14th, both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park will offer Valentine’s Day cherry-vanilla flavored cotton candy for sale at their street vendor carts.

A Valentine’s Day Gift

Pop into the Pandora shop in New Orleans Square for a Valentine’s Day gift she’ll never forget (or buy it early online via Disney Store and have it ready for gifting at the parks!)

Image Credit: Disney Store

Dinner for Two

Perhaps your Valentine’s Day at Disney will be spent with just the two of you? A romantic dinner is in order then and Disneyland has some special meals planned.

On Valentine’s Day The Blue Bayou will feature a special menu item: Lobster A L’Americaine, a rich blend of lobster sauce, roasted lobster tail, snow crab, sautéed mahi and potatoes in a creamy lobster-cognac sauce with onions, celery and peas.

If you’re looking for an amazing splurge the ultra upscale Napa Rose inside Disney’s Grand Californian has a 4-course meal that includes a wine flight. Be sure to book your Advance Dining Reservations early for these meals!

Purchase discounted Disney parks tickets upfront with Park Savers.

Park Savers affiliate link

Watch the Sunset

Finding a lovely spot to watch the setting sun at the Disney resort is a perfect way to close out the day. The sun will set behind Mickey’s Fun Wheel so catch a ride on this Ferris wheel for a panoramic view. Or grab a drink at Wine Country Trattoria and take a seat on the steps in Paradise Park (located in front of the Little Mermaid ride, where World of Color is shown). Or dine on the patio at Carthay Circle for a view over the crowds.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Sun setting over Cars Land

Dinner for the Family

Several other Disney restaurant locations will be offering Valentine’s Day dinners that are inclusive of the entire family. Carnation Cafe will be serving up Surf & Turf featuring sirloin steak, shrimp skewer, mashed potatoes, sautéed broccoli, sun-dried tomato butter and herb beurre blanc sauce.

The Disneyland Resort hotels will also be offering special dinners. On February 14th, Storytellers Cafe a prix-fixe, three-course meal will be available, featuring farmer’s market field greens, New York strip loin and lobster tail with sun-dried tomato risotto and asparagus, vanilla crème brûlée with berry compote. At Goofy’s Kitchen, Valentine’s Day-themed desserts will be available on the buffet.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

For an elegant meal, Steakhouse 55 will have a three-course dinner that wine pairings, featuring chipotle-spiced Ahi tartare, bacon-wrapped filet of beef with Mascarpone whipped potatoes, vegetables and a cognac cream sauce and white chocolate crunch cake with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry ice cream (hello!)

Special Desserts

The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in Disneyland Park will have a heart-shaped strawberry macaron, how delightful! Over at Disney California Adventure life is sweet with three special Valentine’s desserts. At Clarabelle’s pick the Valentine Sundae, featuring strawberry and vanilla ice cream in a waffle bowl topped with strawberry sauce, graham cracker, pink whipped cream, Valentine’s Day sprinkles and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Lovely Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day at Disneyland

Image Credit: Disney Parks

If you’re a simple gal, perhaps you’d enjoy the chocolate-strawberry swirl soft-serve ice cream at Paradise Pier Ice Cream Company. Or sip your way to bliss at Schmoozies with a decadent chocolate-strawberry smoothie with frozen fresh strawberries, strawberry juice, chocolate syrup, ice cream and milk blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

Which way to celebrate Valentine’s Day at Disneyland sounds the most sweet? Share with me in the comments!

Julie-signature

 

January 30, 2017
Comments Off on 10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy - 10 money-saving tips including recipes

Grocery shopping doesn’t have to bust your wallet. You can still eat healthy and save money on groceries. Some will tell you that you’ll need to use coupons to save cash (not true!) Or the hype that tells you organic and healthy foods are so much more expensive. That’s certainly not true either! With 6 to feed in my family and only one full-time income, these are tried and tested money-saving tips. Here are my 10 practical ways we save money on our groceries.

Save Money on Groceries (and Still Eat Healthy!)

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing through the link helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Don’t Use Coupons (with One Exception)

I used to spend hours each week clipping coupons from the newspaper mailers and driving around to several different stores to redeem. So much work! Sure there were some times where I’d get a great deal (25 cent tube of toothpaste! 75 cent box of cereal!) however those really great deals weren’t the norm. Most of the time I was purchasing things I didn’t need just because I had a coupon.

I remember looking in my storage cabinet and bemoaning that I didn’t have any more space because it was already stuffed full of about 5 years worth of deodorant, mouthwash, hair conditioner and macaroni and cheese!  And my kids didn’t need to be eating all that sugary cereal, whether I got it on sale or paid full price.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Here’s my one exception to using coupons: If you flip through the mailer and see something there that you already use and plan on purchasing in the near future, then by all means clip and use the coupon.

If you can save 50 cents off your favorite brand of pasta then yes, you should definitely use the coupon. But if you find that you’re making purchasing just because you have the coupon, it’s time to step away from the mailers.

Make a Price List

It can be hard to remember which store has the best prices on the top 20 things you purchase each visit so I recommend creating a price list. Jot down the price on your list next time you’re at the store so you’ll know which store has the best price on bananas, peanut butter and milk, etc.

Our local Sprouts has the best prices on fruits, veggies and dry bulk bin items but prices for dairy and cereal are considerably higher. Keep track so you’ll know where to shop for certain items and aren’t spending more than you have to.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Recipe for Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

Don’t Shop at the Grocery Store

Grocery stores notoriously mark up the price of certain “convenience” items that you might pick up when you’re there grabbing fruit and veggies. Items in the health and beauty department are usually at a higher price than somewhere like Target or Walmart.

But I’ve found that other items can have a higher cost at the grocery as well. Things like canned tomatoes, pasta and cereal are often found cheaper at Target. You might find that your options are limited at the “big box” stores but that might not matter if you always purchase the same brand.

Shopping Apps

Certain grocery stores have special shopping apps that you can pull up on your smart phone before checkout to save you a few bucks. I personally use Cartwheel when at Target, Shopkick at many locations in my area (just open the app at the front door), and Ebates when I’m shopping online. I’ve received gift cards and cash just by using these apps and it doesn’t take me more than a minute or two.

And of course, if I’m shopping at Target I use my Target Red Card (debit) to save me 5% off my total purchases!

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Buy in Bulk

Yep, we’re Costco shoppers and buying in bulk is definitely one way we save money on groceries for our big family. But don’t load up that enormous shopping cart just yet. You’ll need to make sure you can get through that 5 lb bag of mixed greens before it goes bad! And do you really need a giant tub of coconut oil? Knowing how much your family can eat and balancing that with the product’s expiration date is a must-do before bulk buying.

   

Dry goods in bulk bins that you scoop and weigh yourself can give you a great deal. Just be sure to compare the weight per pound of the bulk bin versus purchasing the item prepackaged. A 1 lb bag of beans may run me about $1.25 but only 75 cents a pound if I scoop it from the dry goods bin. Consider purchasing your own oats, flour, sugars, beans, lentils and nuts from the bulk bins and storing them in your own containers at home.

Price Per Ounce

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the price per ounce listed on the shelf label and noticed that it’s actually more cost effective to buy the product in a small size. See, groceries often “trick” you into thinking the bulk size is more economical! So be sure to check out the price per ounce (or pound, or whatever) to make sure it’s really the best bargain.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Hidden Tip: Foods like pizza are cheap and easier than you think to make at home. Skip the frozen box pizza and make a quick dough, smear with pasta sauce and top with a few slices of mozzarella. For just over $1.00, I made this pizza for lunch in about 15 minutes! What other foods are you buying that you could be making yourself for pennies on the dollar?

Go Shopping More Often

What was the last item you had in the fridge that went bad before you had the chance to eat it? You might be purchasing too much upfront and then it spoils before you can cook it. Certain foods move quickly through my house, like onions, bananas, garlic and apples so I can purchase them in large quantities. But we can never seem to eat enough of the giant bag of spinach before it starts to smell funny.

Rather than bulk buying some items, we purchase smaller amounts and shop more frequently. We might spend a bit more on our greens upfront but if we aren’t tossing out half the package when they’re slimy, then we’re probably making out better on the cost in the end.

Pricing Organic VS Non-Organic

If you usually avoid organic foods as a rule because you believe they are more costly, take a look again because that’s not necessarily so. Yes, for sure there are some products that are more costly than others because they are organic but not always. At our local Sprouts, many of the organic fresh veggies are cheaper in cost than their non-organic versions! Some canned goods (like beans and tomatoes) are similarly priced organic versus non-organic.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

Isn’t that a gorgeous loaf? Bake your own artisan bread with the book, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. The beauty of making it yourself is that you know what ingredients you’re adding!

Shop the Outside Aisles

Visualize your grocery store. Generally stores are designed with produce, meats, grains and dairy on the outside aisles and canned and processed foods in the middle. Gone are the days when I purchased pre-seasoned rice and pasta mixes. Commercials will have you think that you’re saving time and money buying these types of products but it’s really not that much more time-consuming and definitely not more expensive to cook your own rice and add your own seasonings.

By avoiding processed foods, you’ll not only save yourself money but save your health from excessive preservatives, sodium and unpronounceable ingredients. Think about the foods you’ve been purchasing in the middle aisles of the grocery and how you could prepare them yourself instead.

Avoid Boxes & Bags

I’m working towards feeding my family more “real food”. By following Lisa Leakes’ book 100 Days of Real Food. I’m aiming to choose foods that have 5 or less of the “approved” ingredients. That means a lot of items that come in boxes and bags are off-limits. Avoiding foods that come packaged in boxes and bags (unless they follow the 5 approved ingredients or less) will save you money and help your health as well.

Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy

What are the ways YOU save money on groceries? I’d love to hear your tips…share them in the comments!

Julie-signature

January 16, 2017
8 Comments

MORE Ways to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

If you know me via this blog, you know that one of the BIG ways my family saves money at Disney Parks is at meal time. I’ve written about saving money on food at Disney on my popular post, 7 Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks. I’m back with MORE ways to save money on food at Disney parks…keep reading for my tips!

Save Money on Food at Disney

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing ways for you to save money while you’re at Disney.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you!


Customize Your Order

Even if the menu only shows “meal deals” that include a main dish, side dish and a beverage, you can (in most cases) request only the main dish at a reduced cost. So if you only want the burger but the deal comes with fries and a soda, request only the burger and ask about the cost (it should be lower).

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Be Choosy at Special Events

Special dishes can be found in the kiosks at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Festival of the Arts and Flower & Garden Festival and Disney California Adventure Parks Festival of Holidays. These plates of food are of high-quality and can’t be found outside of the event. And for that, you’ll pay a premium price!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

At the kiosks for these events you’ll be able to order fancy appetizers, small servings of a top-notch dish and alcoholic sips. And each one of these mini-delights could be almost the same cost as a full-sized quick service meal!  If you’re wanting to indulge in a few of these kiosk treats, stick to a set amount and choose wisely or else your meal budget could be eaten up very quickly.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Very expensive little dishes bought in Italy at the Flower & Garden Festival

Save Money by Purchasing Discount Disney Park Tickets from Park Savers!

Park Savers affiliate link

Two Tips About Kids Meals

Kids meals sizes and prices are smaller than full-sized meals. And that can be a both a positive and a negative, depending upon your needs!

When I last went to Walt Disney World, I arrived to my hotel late. I was hungry but didn’t want to eat an enormous meal. I opted to order a kids meal burger that came with a smaller amount of fries and chocolate milk. It was the perfect size meal for me and came at a much smaller cost than the full-sized adult meal ($6.50 versus $14). I was traveling solo, so ordering this made sense (both portion and price wise).

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

A kids meal burger ordered by an adult to save on cost and portion

However on the flip side of this, when it comes to ordering meals for my kids I very rarely order them kids meals. I have two kids who are almost the same age so we’ve always purchased them one full-size meal to split between them. Now that we have more kids, we tend to just order several plates of food and then share between us. This offers us a good portion for each person and a greater variety of food as well, as the menu for kids is often limited.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

A full sized burger meal to be shared (avocado on the side!)

This is Where You Should Eat Dessert

If you’re dining at a full-service restaurant, skip ordering dessert off the menu. The dessert prices are going to be considerably higher in the sit-down restaurants. Consider picking up dessert at a walk-up location that only serves sweets. There you’ll have a wider variety to choose from. Also the portions are often more generous as well, so you can share between two or more (but only if you want to share!)

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

These Lemon Meringue and The Master’s Cupcakes served inside Be Our Guest Restaurant are an astonishing $5.00 each! I can’t believe I spent $10 on these two (quite small) cupcakes! Especially when you can head over to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and get two huge chocolate chip cookies with generous scoops of ice cream for only a little over $5.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner…in That Order

If you’d like to eat one meal full-service but are still trying to be budget conscious, consider sit-down dining for breakfast. The prices of the dishes will increase at lunch and raise even higher for dinner.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

The cost difference between breakfast and dinner is significant

Beware the Souvenir Cup, Straw and Ice Cube

Just about every dining location offers some sort of upgrade to your beverage in the form of souvenir cups, twisty straws shaped like Mickey’s silhouette or flashy glowing colored ice cubes. Naturally these add-on’s come at a steep price! Disney seems to hit pretty hard on the kids menu in this category.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

While a standard pineapple Dole Whip in a cup is priced at just over $4.00, the same soft serve in a souvenir tiki sipper will cost you over $10. I bought the sipper in this case for my brother, who collects tiki items. Make sure you work these add-on items into your souvenir budget!

Leave the Park

No reason to feel trapped with your park-only choices! You can leave the parks and head over a Disney Resort hotel for dozens of more options. Rather than eat inside Magic Kingdom, I hopped the Monorail and had dinner at Capt. Cooks in the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The Pulled Pork Nachos plate was huge and just over $9. I couldn’t eat it by myself it was a very generous portion. There is also a Dole Whip location here, so that was a plus!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Downtown Disney and Disney Springs also have loads of dining options with budgets that fit everyone. There’s an Earl of Sandwich at each location and you can pick up a sandwich for a great price (they have delicious breakfast sandwiches as well).

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney!

Eat with Discounted Gift Cards

Purchase Disney gift cards at Target to use when purchasing your meals. When you use your Target Red Card to purchase the cards, you’ll receive 5% off! That may seem like small savings but if you’re eating a lot of meals in the parks and paying for them solely with these Disney gift cards, you’ll be saving good money! Sounds pretty sweet to me!

Image Credit: Target

7 More Ways to Save on Food at Disney

Be sure to check out my other posts about how to save money on food at Disney!  7 Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks and What are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland?

Top Tips on Saving Money on Food at Disney Parks  What Are the Best Meals

For more ways to save money at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Saving Money at Disney Loop:

How do you save money on food at Disney? Share your tips with me in the comments!

Julie-signature


January 11, 2017
Comments Off on Hearty Bean and Lentil Soup Recipe

Hearty Bean and Lentil Soup Recipe

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Bean & Lentil Soup is quick & delicious!

Let’s be honest. Lentils don’t make for the prettiest soup. They often look dark and unappetizing, making most kids turn up their noses at dinner. This lentil and bean soup is something different entirely though because it not only tastes delicious, it’s also lovely to look at and appealing for everyone. I hope that you’ll enjoy my hearty lentil and bean soup recipe!

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

Never Cooked with Lentils?

We aim to eat 2-3 meatless meals during the week for our health and digestion (lots of fiber in this bowl!) We also try and choose organic when we can. This is a deliciously hearty cold-weather meal that can be served with a slice of buttered bread, roll or a warm tortilla.

I’ll be totally honest: I never cooked with dried beans until just a few years ago. I thought they were time consuming and that I wouldn’t make them correctly. And I never really liked the flavor either.

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

I didn’t make beans because I didn’t think the kids would eat them. However all of my kids have grown to love beans, and so have I! If you use great ingredients, the flavors just come together. My preschooler says he doesn’t like soup so I just serve him the beans and the veggies on a plate, sans broth and he gobbles it up (silly boy!)

My local store sells these lentils and beans in a dry goods blend. For around $1.50 a pound, you’ll get a great mix of lentils and dry beans. If your store doesn’t sell this type of mix, you can easily put one together yourself with a colorful mix of lentils and some dry beans.

Never Cooked with Lentils?  This Hearty Lentil & Bean Soup is quick & delicious!

Sometimes I use the beautiful organic rainbow carrots for an even more colorful bowl of soup! The dark specks are from the fire roasted tomatoes, which add lots of great flavor but not a bunch of heat.

Hearty Lentil and Bean Soup Recipe

Hearty Lentil and Bean Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup of celery, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups dried lentil & bean mix
  • 2 cans (or one box) vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery. Stir and cook until onion is tender.
  2. Add garlic, oregano and basil and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in lentils and beans then add broth and water and the can of tomatoes with the juice.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer covered for 90 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot!
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January 9, 2017
Comments Off on Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for Everyone You Love

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for Everyone You Love

Special Disney Valentine's Day Gifts They'll Love

Celebrate your love for Disney and your love for each other with precious Disney Valentine’s Day gifts! These are all sweet but practical things that can be used and enjoyed after February 14th passes. I don’t really make big purchases for Valentine’s Day but these are all reasonably priced and sure to bring Disney joy to your sweetheart!

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts They’ll Love

I’ve put together a collection of Disney Valentine’s Day gifts for everyone. These are almost all budget-friendly (Come on, I had to put that gorgeous Dooney & Bourke purse in there!) I’m all for adding a sweet splash of Disney to my life and these gifts are sure to please your Valentine.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps support me in a small financial way, thank you! 

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for HER

Get in the romantic mood with this collection of heartwarming love songs from Disney movies. Essential Disney Love Song Collection

Credit: Target

I’m not much of a collector (tiny house = small space) but I have to admit that this Valentine’s themed figurine is precious! “Love” Minnie & Mickey Figurine by Jim Shore

Credit: Disney Store

Okay, I have a tiny collection…literally! I have three Disney-themed charms on my Pandora bracelet & I’d love to receive this one for Valentine’s Day. Mickey Mouse “Sparkling Mickey & Hearts Charm” by Pandora

Credit: Disney Store

So, this is love! Make-up lovers will appreciate this collection by Sephora inspired by Disney’s Cinderella Disney Cinderella Collection Storylook Eyeshadow Palette

Practical and pretty! And the love between Mickey and Minnie is a classic romance for all time. This one’s a splurge but she’ll totally love it and be able to use it day after day. Romancing Minnie Lola Pouchette bag by Dooney & Bourke.

Credit: Disney Store

Who doesn’t choke up a bit thinking about the love between Carl & Ellie in UP! Start your own Adventure Book as a place to store your greatest memories together.
Our Adventure Book DIY Scrapbook

Credit: Amazon

If I had this ring, I’d wear it every day to show my love of Mickey! (Psst…honey, size 6!) Mickey Mouse Love Ring 

Credit: Disney Store

Dress up those fingers (for a special Disney trip or everyday!) with the Disney Collection by Jamberry nail wraps. I wear them anytime I need a Disney boost and they just make me happy! Disney Collection by Jamberry Nail Wraps

Give her a place to safely put her ring (I like having a ring holder in the bathroom so I can take off my rings when I put on lotion). Lenox Disney Mickey and Mini True Love Ceramic Ring Holder

Credit: Amazon

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for HIM

He’ll wear his heart on his chest with a bit of Disney inspiration. Cartoon Glove Heart Men’s Long Sleeve T-shirt

You love him and he knows it. Give him a little sass with his morning coffee. Princess Leia & Han Solo “I Love You” Mug

Maybe it’s just my husband who loves soap and shower products but these are some of his favorites (and you can use it too!) Sea Salt & Sea Marine Spa Collection

Credit: Disney Store

Totally silly and fun but still practical! If your man loves Star Wars, Chewbacca and funky underdrawers, these would be perfect. Star Wars Valentine’s Boxer Briefs

Credit: Target

A candle that’s reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean? “A Pirate’s Life for Me!” I know a few guys who would be lighting this candle every night! The Black Pearl Candle – Anthology Candles, Pirates of the Caribbean Candle

Disney Valentine’s Day Gifts for KIDS

Wear it on Valentine’s Day (or any day!) Tweens love Tsum Tsum and this t-shirt is adorable! Girls’ Disney Tsum Tsum Tee

Credit: Target

Big boys don’t seem to want much to do with Valentine’s except for candy…they never seem to say no to candy! And this Darth Vader Valentine with a candy light saber is pretty cool. It even lights up! Disney Star Wars Valentine Candy Dispenser

Credit: Target

This iPhone case cover is so sweet (see the cut out heart?). Your teen may swoon! Mickey and Minnie Mouse Heart iPhone 6 Case

Credit: Disney Store

One thing my preschool son loves to do is reminisce about our Disney trips together. I bought him a Disney-themed memory album from Shutterfly with all his favorite Disney vacation photos inside! Disney Shutterfly Photo Books

Credit: Shutterfly

Babies will love this adorable board book. My little girl and I have been reading this one together a lot. The illustrations are adorable! Disney Baby I Love You This Much!

Credit: Amazon

Mickey is always Mr. Right. Toddler Boys Disney Valentine’s Mickey Mouse Tee

Credit: Target

Cuddle up to this precious polka-dotted personalized pillow! Disney Minnie Mouse Pillow

Credit: Shutterfly

What Disney Valentine’s Day gift do YOU have your eye on? Share in the comments!

Julie-signature

January 6, 2017
Comments Off on No Spending Month – 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

No Spending Month – 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

I have a 30 day dare with myself and my family not to have any extra expenses. This is our “no spending month” and I’d love for you to join me on this challenge. Read about my “why” and how I plan on implementing these no spending rules, without undue stress or resistance from my kids!

The Start of my No Spending Month

It was January 2nd and I needed to make a Target run for more whole wheat flour and canned tomatoes. I had no reason to walk through the Dollar Spot area but I did, you know, just to see what was there (I know you feel me on that, right?)

Into my cart went stickers ($1 – for the students I teach at the rec center), Valentines ($3 – for my preschooler) and a Day planner ($3 – for my husband, who’d mentioned wanting one). Then I remembered that the dish soap had run out so I grabbed a refill bottle ($3.99).

Almost eleven dollars spent. Sure, that’s not much but  in hindsight, it wasn’t anything I needed to buy. I already have stickers I could use for my students, I didn’t need to buy more but they were cute and “cheap”. Valentines Day is still a bit of time away and I actually could probably print them myself at home. The dish soap wasn’t really needed. I have multi-purpose soap concentrate that we bought in bulk that can be used as dish soap. And my husband said he didn’t really need the paper day planner after all, he’s going to use a free app on his phone.

If I took a more serious look at my budget I just know that there are more ways I could be cutting back; I know there are extra expenses I’m making that don’t really need to be made! I’ve decided to make January my “No Spending Month” and intend to go at least 30 days without extra expenses.

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

What are “Extra Expenses”?

Extra expenses mean different things to different people. Perhaps for you it’s skipping the coffee shop and making your morning brew at home. Maybe it’s brown bagging lunch to work or not buying any clothes for the month. Or eschewing entertainment costs for at-home family fun.

For us, eliminating extra expenses means-

  • Not eating out
  • No frivolous food purchases, including chips/crackers, dessert items and alcohol
  • Nothing that we don’t imperatively need or require to run our family or home.

What are your “No Extra Expenses” rules? Write them down to make them real and do your best to stick to it for at least 30 days.

Discuss it as a Family

Everyone will need to be on board to accomplish getting through 30 days without extra expenses. Talk about your plan with the kids so they’ll know what to expect. If they’re used to spending money out on the weekends or dinner in a restaurant a few times a week, they’ll need to see and hear why you’re making changes in the usual routine.

However saving money doesn’t have to be a downer and here’s a story to reiterate that. Once in a while I take my preschooler out to lunch, just the two of us as a special treat. Those “special treats” are usually only twice a month but with the average cost around $15 a visit, that’s $30 I could be saving! Today when I picked him up, he asked if we could go to lunch in a restaurant and I had to tell him no, that we aren’t doing extra spending this month.

However I want to make saving money a positive thing for thing, so I told him we could still do something special. When we got home, we made pizza together for lunch. It cost me about $1.50 in groceries (that I already had at home) and it was still a special treat for just the two of us!

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Why are Your Doing it?

In essence, why are you making this change to eliminate extra expenses? Your reason might be different from your spouses, and even your children.

  • Do you feel like you’re overspending?
  • Do you have too much unnecessary stuff in the house?
  • Are you an impulse buyer and need to rein it in?
  • Do you want to save up extra money for something specific?

Consider the Cut-Back First

If your family is accustomed to movies, date nights, dinners and shopping every weekend and you’re planning a nix to all of it, a drastic change in the usual plans may be a shock to them! Perhaps consider a cut back for 30 days first before completely cutting things out. If you’re used to eating lunch out every day, cut back and only indulge in one or two lunches out and pack your lunch for the other days. If you always purchase concessions at the movies, still go see a film but have a snack at home first. When you’re ready to cut back further, skip movies in the theater and watch them only when they come out on DVD.

Challenge Yourself to a No Spending Month - 30 Days Without Extra Expenses

Fun Stuff Already in the Plans

What is you already have something planned during the 30 days? Use good judgement and don’t outright cancel your fun plans. If you’re going to a birthday party it would be okay to purchase a gift rather than showing up empty handed.

What About Entertainment?

We’ve slowly eliminated most costly entertainment over the years so it won’t be much of an affect for my kids during the 30 days of no extra expenses. We eat at home before we go somewhere or pack a lunch and snacks to take with us so we aren’t tempted to eat out when hunger strikes. We choose free things around town to do, usually something that gets us up and moving. We’ll take the soccer or basketball to the park or we’ll set out on foot to explore a trail. We can usually find a family movie on Netflix or we pull out one of our tried-and-true DVDs to watch in the evening.

What Will We Do With the Extra Money?

As usual, I’m “Saving Up for Disney”! Hoping to be able to take my kids to a conference at Walt Disney World this year and airfare is over-the-top expensive for all of us. $11 here and there really can add up! My goal is to save $200 a month for the next 4 months to get the airfare costs covered.

What will YOU do with the extra money you’ll save from this challenge? Share with me in the comments!

Julie-signature

January 4, 2017
2 Comments

Dates to Avoid When Planning a Disneyland Vacation

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

It’s a new year and there is a wide open calendar before us, just waiting to be filled with adventures! Perhaps planning a Disneyland vacation is part of your travel plans? Choosing a vacation date when the stars align and weather, crowds and park hours are optimal is ideal. But that might seem a bit like finding a needle in a haystack! However, there are some tips for choosing the best dates when planning a Disneyland vacation. Here are a few dates I’d recommend avoiding when scheduling your trip.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

January

Avoid January 12-16th

runDisney Star Wars Half-Marathon will bring in runners and their families, making the parks busier than usual in January. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is also that Monday and kids will be out of school. Any time there’s a school holiday, you can be sure that the parks will be more crowded. Other than these few days, January should be fairly quiet in the parks. The chillier weather and frequent rain will keep crowds low.

February

Avoid February 5th

Contrary to popular belief, Super Bowl Sunday is not a good day to go to Disneyland! In fact, the park crowds are usually very heavy with people who thought the same thing and skipped watching the game.

Avoid February 11-13th and February 18-20th.

Lincoln & Washington’s birthdays mean 3-day weekends and more crowds.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

March

Other than possible rain showers, March is a pretty good month to visit. However, keep in mind that many schools celebrate their Spring Breaks starting in March so especially late in the month, the park crowds may increase. Even with the rain, you can still have a great Disneyland vacation. Check out my 10 Tips for Surviving a Disneyland Rainy Day.

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April

Avoid Spring Break

Spring Break dates vary depending upon where you live. My Southern California kids have their break from April 10th – 23rd. Spring Break is traditionally a very busy time in the parks becasue the weather is generally agreeable.

Purchase your discounted Disneyland Park tickets in advance with Park Savers and save time and money!

Park Savers logo

May

Avoid May 11-14

Not only is May 14th Mother’s Day (and lots of moms like to spend their day at Disneyland!) but it’s also the runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend.

Avoid May 29th

Two weeks later is Memorial Day. Don’t forget the rule about avoiding the 3 day weekends!

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

June

Avoid June 17-30th

School’s out! Which means Disneyland is going to be more crowded than ever. Early June is usually a great time to visit if you can make it.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

July

Avoid the entire month! Or at the least, July 4th.

Okay, I know it’s not fair to say not to plan a Disneyland vacation in July but if you can avoid it, I’d recommend it! In fact, July is the only month I’ve never been to Disneyland because crowds are traditionally heavy in the summer months.

Plan every detail of your Disneyland vacation and stay organized with a PassPorter Disneyland Resort and Southern California Attractions: The Unique Travel Guide, Planner, Organizer, Journal, and Keepsake

August

Avoid August 1st-20th

Once local kids return back to school in late August, the park crowds will lessen considerably. Keep in mind that August is one of the hottest months!

Avoid August 31st

August 31st is the first day of the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon weekend.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

September

Avoid September 1st-4th

Labor Day on September 4th is traditionally packed with local annual pass holders however the crowds will be even heavier than usual because of the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon that weekend. The rest of the month is usually one of the best times to visit in terms of crowds and warm weather (though it can still be extremely hot with temperatures over 100 degrees in September).

Avoid any day that hosts a Mickey’s Halloween Party

Guests who don’t have tickets to the Halloween Party will have to leave the park earlier than usual. Don’t buy a regular park ticket that day, especially if you plan on attending the Party and have a hard ticket to that event.

Pull out your calendar and figure out which dates work best for your vacation! Thomas Kinkade: The Disney Dreams Collection 2017 Wall Calendar

October

Avoid October 6-9th

Gay Days is an “unofficial” Disneyland event that brings in large crowds. It also falls over the Columbus Day 3-day weekend. However Disneyland does offer special things during the event, like multi-layer rainbow cake!

Avoid any day that hosts a Mickey’s Halloween Party

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

November

Avoid November 9-12th

Early November is usually a fantastic time for planning a Disneyland vacation. However try to avoid these particular dates as the runDisney Super Heroes Half Marathon will bring in extra crowds.

Avoid November 18-26th

Many people get their Thanksgiving turkey dinner at Disneyland!  The weekend leading into Thanksgiving, the entire week of Thanksgiving and the weekend after the holiday will be packed. I’ve been to Disneyland on Thanksgiving Day itself and for sure the mornings and afternoons had very heavy crowds. However the crowds seemed to lessen (a bit) into the evening as locals left.

Planning a Disneyland Vacation? These are the Dates to Avoid!

December

Avoid December 16-31st

While the first few weeks of December have reasonable crowds, the second two weeks are the busiest of the year! Avoid those dates or at least go into them with a steady game plan and know that you may only experience a small handful of things on your visit because of heavy crowds.

Check out these additional posts on planning a Disneyland vacation, choosing a date for the trip and dealing with heavy crowds.

Best Times of the Year to Visit Disneyland (and Why) and Crowded Disneyland Day? Top Tips on What to Do!

Best times   crowded-day-at

What month do YOU are you planning a Disneyland vacation? Share in the comments!

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December 30, 2016
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2016 – A Look Back at the Year that Was on Saving Up for Disney Blog

It’s been another very interesting year for me personally as well as for my blog and I’ve appreciated those of you who have been following along! Here is what I’ve been up to this year and what I have planned for 2017.

Please note that this post includes affiliate links

Shirts for Disney Fans That They'll Love to Wear!

Me, in a shirt from Etsy seller MouseApparel

This Life

Last year I’d found out that I was being laid off from my full time job and would be a stay-at-home-mom for the first time. That offered enough challenge on its own but then I also found out I was expecting another baby! We live in a small home so I “nested” before she was born and I got busy and organized the house on a budget and shared the tips in my post Budget-friendly & Practical Organizing Solutions for Small Spaces

Budget-friendly & Practical Organizing Solutions for Small Spaces

I tested out a few new recipes on my family before sharing them with my readers here including Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Potato Soup, Slow-cooker Baked Beans and Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies. Since having the baby and working to get the excess weight off, I’ve been focused on cooking “real food” and limiting processed meals, prepackaged items and other than the occasional Chick-fil-A lunch, have been dining mainly at home. I will continue to find and post budget-friendly recipes that incorporate real, wholesome foods.

This baked beans recipe is the perfect side dish! It's budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Best of all this baked bean recipe goes together in the slow cooker!

LEGOLAND Blogger

Early in the year I was asked to be a LEGOLAND Official Blogger! We’ve been visiting LEGOLAND California since it had first opened so this partnership was welcome. We visited several times this year, including the Brick or Treat Halloween Party.

pin-legoland-preschoolers   LEGOLAND® California Resort Brick-or-Treat Party Nights Halloween Celebration

LEGOLAND California – A Delightful Amusement Park for Preschoolers

Brick-or-Treat Party Nights Halloween Celebration at LEGOLAND® California Resort

Legoland Blogger

Traveling Mom

Before baby girl was born, we squeezed in one last Disneyland trip. It gave me plenty to write about and I was able to cover several topics for TravelingMom including Important Advice You Can’t Ignore If You’re Pregnant at Disney and Tweens & Toddlers at Disney – What You Need to Make Everyone Happy.

pin-disney-pregnant   PIN-Tweens and Toddlers at Disney

I loved my second year as a TravelingMom in 2016. The TMOM crew is extremely supportive and I’ve been living vicariously through those who are touring the globe! Having the opportunity to travel more outside of my small community is one of my goals for 2017. In the meantime, while I have a young baby at home, I’ve been exploring my area and wrote about it as the Day Trips TMOM.

Free in San Diego – 21 Things for Families in Beautiful Balboa Park

Little Italy San Diego – A Day Trip Tour of What to See, Eat and Do

pin-21-free-things-for-families   little-italy

My baby girl was only a few weeks old during the Traveling Mom’s annual spring retreat so I had to miss it in 2016 (believe me though, I was trying to convince my husband to the bitter end that I could travel alone with a 3-week old!). Fortunately for me, Traveling Mom hosted a retreat in the fall and I was able to travel cross-county alone with my girl (who was 6-months at the time) to Walt Disney World. It was my first solo trip with any of my kids and fortunately she appears to be a born traveler! We never had any issues and we had a fantastic time exploring the parks and Disney Springs at our own pace. The Traveling Moms lovingly welcomed #TBABY during the retreat.

I wrote for Traveling Mom about the character buffet we experienced at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista.

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My Number One Viewed Post for 2017

Given the questions I receive via email from my readers, I wrote this post that was extremely well received. It’s my #1 most viewed this year!

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!

Preschool Playdate #DisneyKids

About a week before I delivered the baby, I hosted a #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate at the park. It was a blast and I was honored to be invited to host two years in a row!

Celebration Fun at Our #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate Party 2016!

Celebration Fun at Our #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate Party!

Insider Disney Tips

As a Disney travel “expert” I wrote several articles about planning trips that were successfully shared via social media. Pinterest is my number one traffic driver, so it’s a good thing I love Pinterest and enjoy creating “pinnable” images! I love when my readers share, so please continue to pin and share away!

Tip #1 - No surprises! Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation!  Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

12 Things to Do Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Disney Baby

In mid-July I was approached about a dream writing opportunity, as a contributing author for the Disney Baby blog! I have been able to blend my love for babies and Disney into these posts and have so loved this amazing opportunity. I am writing about Disney Parks travel tips for families with babies as well as other baby tips as a “seasoned mom”!

pin-naps   pin-breastfeeding   pin-halloween-party

9 Guaranteed Ways to Get Baby to Nap at Disney Parks

8 Tips for Breastfeeding Your Baby at Disneyland

Taking Baby to Mickey’s No-So-Scary Halloween Party

Social Media Moms On-the-Road

In August, I was delighted to receive an invitation to the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Event at Disneyland. This year was invite-only and the bloggers there were able connect with each other in a small venue, hear from celebrity speakers and watch a sneak peek of Moana! Afterwards we were able to enjoy the Disneyland parks, my baby girl’s first visit!

Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road…at Disneyland! #DisneySMMCDLR

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

New Affiliates

I picked up a few new affiliates over 2016. Thank you again for anyone who has clicked and purchased through my affiliate links; it continues to help me in a small financial way to run my business.

Park Savers affiliate link

If you’re needing Disney vacation tickets, hotel room or an entire vacation package, Park Savers is my go-to!

Target is a favorite and I happily welcomed them as an affiliate this year. Gotta love saving that 5% with a Target Debit RedCard!

What to do with all those vacation photos? Put them in a book, on a place mat or on a coffee mug from Shutterfly! A Shutterfly calendar has been my must-do family gift for 10+ years so I really appreciate being able to share their products as one of my affiliates.

gymboree2

Baby Girl in her new Gymboree outfit

I’ve been shopping at Gymboree for nearly 13 years for my kids and love that they are one of my new affiliates. My kids received a lot of Gymboree clothing this Christmas (their sales are exceptional!)

And naturally The Disney Store is a favorite place to buy gifts for my fellow Disney-lovers (or gifts for myself!)

Blogorail

I love my Blogorail community and how we’ve continued to grow and learn from each other! They really help me think of new and exciting topics to write about. Some of these posts are among my most popular and in part, because they are shared in the Blogorail community.

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland  What to Wear in the Parks? These are the Best Disney Outfits for Kids  Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

What to Wear in the Parks – Best Disney Outfits for Kids

Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney

Jamberry

I continue to run a side business as a Jamberry Independent Consultant. I was beyond thrilled to see the Disney Collection by Jamberry come to fruition and have the hardest time deciding on a favorite wrap! Remember that if you’re saving up for Disney too, all those little ways you can earn money count and Jamberry is a great way to do that. Let me know if you’d like more information about becoming a consultant (or would like to host an online party!)

disney-hand2 disney-hand1

Family Media Day

I was tickled to receive an invitation to Family Media Day at Disneyland in 2016. It was my first visit to Disneyland during the holiday season in 4 years. We loved being able to have one last visit for the year and taking fantastic family photos together at the Happiest Place on Earth. I welcomed having new holiday photographs as well, since it had been so long since we’d last visited during the holidays and I’d used every Christmas shot I had in my portfolio!

disney-holiday-pin  disney-holiday11

I also had enough new material to write this post for Traveling Mom.

9 Must-Do Attraction Tips for Disneyland Christmas Celebrations

Pinterest

My most Pinned post of the year came right at the tail end of 2016! Hoping this one will grab some traction for next year too (Click through and Pin it yourself!)

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

If you’d like to take a look back at my blog over the years, here’s how Saving Up for Disney has evolved –

2015 Look Back

2014 Look Back 

Looking Forward

Looking forward to 2017, I’d like to give thanks to my readers and subscribers. I particularly appreciate the comments and connections and seeing you share my posts via social media (that’s what really helps me to grow!) I’ve had a few readers reach out with personal trip planning questions and I’ve enjoyed the personal connection and helping them out.

Thanks for bouncing along with me in 2016!

Thanks for bouncing along with me in 2016!

I’ve said it before, but please continue to comment and share my posts via social media if you can, it helps me (as a small business owner) to grow and succeed. Reach out to me or comment on the posts if things resonate with you!

Blessings to everyone in the new year and cheers for what’s to come in 2017.

Julie-signature

 

December 17, 2016
Comments Off on 12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break

12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break

 Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break?

The winter break is upon us and that means two full weeks with the kids at home. It can either be two weeks of fun or two weeks of hearing, “I’m BORED” 473 times a day! This year I’m determined to be prepared with a calendar of activities to keep boredom at bay without breaking my holiday budget. Here are 12 budget-friendly things to do with your kids on winter break!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking and purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Seasonal Tabletop Craft Decor

Add a bit of joy to the house with a simple craft. These would be so pretty decorating a tabletop as a centerpiece. I plan on making these with the kids on winter break. We have pine trees lining our street so finding them will be easy enough but if you don’t have them readily available, they are sold online. To create your own pinecone centerpiece you’ll need Ponderosa Pine Cones, White Acrylic Paint, Small Clay Pots and Gold Stars.

12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break

Photo Credit & Link from Town & Country Living

Holiday Titles from the Library

We have a small collection of holiday books and movies that we pull out during this time of year. Pick up a few new seasonal story books, music CDs or DVDs from the library for entertainment this holiday. You can often reserve them in advance online as well.

Pajama Day

Declare a PJ Day! Stack up all those holiday books and pile the pillows and blankets on the floor in the living room for a cozy day in your pajamas. Make a special treat like popcorn or Rice Krispy treats served with cocoa and marshmallows and let everyone lounge and relax.

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Gymboree Gymmies come in the cutest holiday patterns!

Holiday Art Project

Last year my daughter made this in school. Give each child a canvas, acrylic paints and a brush and let them create their own winter scene that you can pull out with the decorations each year. To make your own painting you’ll need a Stretched Canvas, Acrylic Paint Set, Paint Brush Set and Crafting Plastic Drop Cloth

 Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Window Scenes

When I was a girl my grandparents let us us acrylic paints on the inside of the living room windows to create a holiday scene. I wish I had a picture to show you! It was a highlight of our season and we painted new scenes every year. My other grandmother had the cutest retro window clings and we’d decorate with those and rearrange them throughout the season. Try these adorable seasonal window decor ideas- White Snowflakes Window Clings,  Crayola Washable Window Markers, Super Window Sticker Art

Movie Marathon

Pile up a stack of those Christmas movies and work your way through them. I recently picked up A Christmas Story which my kids hadn’t seen but is one of my absolute favorites! White Christmas is my 13-yr old’s holiday favorite and it’s streaming on Netflix right now. My preschooler loves The Polar Express so we’ve already seen that one several times this year!

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Cut Snowflakes

Coffee filter snowflakes are easy for older kids to make and look so pretty taped to a window or strung in a garland. Cheap and easy entertainment and decor in one! To make this craft you’ll need Coffee Filters and Titanium Softgrip Detail Scissors

snowflakes2

Coffee Filter Ornament craft and image from The Pink Couch

Snuggly Knotted Blanket Making

This one is easy enough for older kids to make on their own. Consider crafting a few as gifts or to donate. You’ll need a good, sharp pair of scissors because it require quite a bit of cutting. But the cozy soft blanket you’ll have at the end is worth it! You’ll need Winter Fleece Fabric by the yard and Fabric Scissors with Comfort Grip

fleece-blanket

Knotted blanket tutorial and image from Sewlicious Home Decor

Nature Walk

Kids on winter break get stir crazy from being cooped up inside. Bundle up and head outside for some fresh air and a blast of nature! I did a quick search on Pinterest and found a free printable for a Winter Adventure Hunt from Montessori Nature.

Cookie Baking

Most kids love to help in the kitchen! Here are a few easy kid-friendly recipes, including one of my own for oatmeal peanut butter cookies. Try Christmas Crinkle Cookies, Chocolate Thumbprints or Christmas Snowballs. Baking items you may need are Holiday Metal Cookie Cutters, Mini Squeeze Bottles, Meringue Powder for royal icing and Christmas Holiday Sprinkles.

If cut-out sugar cookies are your thing, I highly recommend this recipe from SweetSugarBelle that uses powdered (confectioners sugar) instead of granulated. These cookies are melt-in-your-mouth yummy! This is also where you’ll find the perfect recipe and tutorials for making royal icing. You might not be able to decorate quite as fantastically detailed as she does, but here is some inspiration! Seriously, are those too cute to eat or what?!

polar-pals-cookies

Image credit and recipe from Sweet Sugarbelle

Wrapping Paper Games

If you haven’t finished up wrapping gifts, let your kids have at the tape and paper and allow them to wrap gifts for friends and family. When they’re done with the paper, the cardboard tubes can be used for several things. One Christmas, my Dad painted them red and white striped like a candy cane and slipped them around metal stair railings for a cute decoration. Of course, my boys always use the wrapping paper tubes as mock light sabers!

  

Gingerbread House Decorating

A friend of mine has the Candy Cottage Gingerbread House which looks like it’s made of cookie but is really plastic. All you need is your own icing and candy and you can decorate the house without risk of it toppling over! Some great candy suggestions are TWIZZLERS Christmas PULL ‘N’ PEEL Candy, Necco Wafers, Star Brites Peppermint Starlight Mints and Sixlets.

I love the “gingerbread” house made of graham crackers. Did you know that Honey Maid actually makes gingerbread crackers and chocolate grahams? This is a great petite size that kids can tackle on their own and enjoy the snack when they’re done!

gingerbread-house

Image from Our Best Bites.

How will you be spending winter break with the kids? Share with me in the comments!

Julie-signature

December 14, 2016
2 Comments

Cookies for Santa – Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe with "healthier for you" ingredients!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

When Christmas Eve rolls around this year, don’t forget to set out that delicious plate of treats for Santa (with a cold glass of milk, of course!) This is one that Santa (and the rest of the family) is sure to love. These Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies would be perfect for a cookie exchange or bake sale as well.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

I prepared these Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies with “better for you” ingredients like whole wheat flour, coconut oil, organic peanut butter and oats. But there was no scrimping on taste whatsoever; my family went wild over these cookies with such phrases as, “Melts in my mouth!” and “Amazing!” I think you’ll love them too…just don’t forget to leave a few for Santa!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used organic version, just nuts & salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup quick-cook oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together coconut oil and butter until blended.
  3. Add brown sugar and white sugar and mix until creamed.
  4. Add peanut butter and mix well.
  5. Add eggs, beating after each.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and coconut. Mix well to combine.
  7. Add dry ingredients to wet a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  8. Mix in dry oats.
  9. Use a tablespoon to drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  10. Bake 10-15 minutes until cookies are lightly browned. Watch to make sure they do not overcook.
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http://savingupfordisney.com/2016/12/14/cookies-for-santa-oatmeal-peanut-butter-cookies/

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