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    15 MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises

    15 MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises

    MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises

    Almost 3 years ago, after our very first Disney Cruise, I wrote a post that has gone on to please the Pinterest Gods and is frequently one of my most-read posts in any given month.  That post told you about 8 cool things to do on a Disney Cruise.  It’s a great starter post for the beginner Disney Cruiser (much as we were beginner DCL’ers at that time).  We have now logged 3 Disney Cruises and yes, our deposit is down for a future 4th cruise.  We love Disney Cruise Line that much!

    Bob and I brainstormed up a fantastic NEW list of cool things to do on Disney Cruises.  These are completely different than the suggestions in our first list and I am really excited to share them with you!

    Without further ado, here are 15 MORE Cool Things to do on Disney Cruises! Read more

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    9 Must-Try Foods in the Outer Banks, NC

    Best Food in OBX

    If you ask me to choose my utmost idyllic, perfectly perfect beach vacation spot, I’m pretty much guaranteed to say the Outer Banks, NC.  There are many reasons that I would pick this chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina as my favorite beach destination.  The reasons begin with happy memories from my childhood when my parents would take us almost annually for a week in Rodanthe, NC.  The reasons then continue from memories of wonderful trips with my own family over the last few years.  It is a wonderful land where sun meets surf meets sand.  The beaches are not nearly as crowded as we have come to expect at the close-by Jersey Shore and there is plenty to see and do for young and old.  Oh… there is also plenty to EAT in the Outer Banks (OBX for short).  

    Yes, there are so many incredible meals and treats, from fresh caught seafood to delectable sweets for dessert.  Last summer we set out to round up as many of these delicious foods as we could in our one week in Nags Head, NC.

    Here are the 9 foods that we highly recommend you try during a trip to OBX! Read more

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    5 Important Things to Consider When Planning a Vacation

    The 5 Important Things to Consider When Planning a Vacation

    Who loves a vacation?  ME!  I love a vacation!  You know by now that we love traveling, and I know that many of you do too!  I’m not super picky about my travels – as long as we get to go somewhere fun as a family, I’m usually up for it.  This could mean a simple day trip to an amusement park or a long week at a theme park, or it could very well also be a camping adventure.  Bob and I traveled a lot before we had kids.  I remember being pregnant with Lily and having a lot of doubt that we’d travel much with a baby in tow.  I laugh now at my former self, because we travel WAY more with kids than we ever did without them.  Sure, our destinations may be a little different these days now that they’re along for the ride, but not as much as you might think.  The camping, the road trips, the cruises – these were all things that we enjoyed pre-kid and continue to enjoy as a family of four.

    While we almost always have at least one future trip in the works, I find that the winter months are a great time to really lay out the framework for big vacations on the horizon.  We currently have a couple of trips planned, including one massively huge undertaking for the summer (you’ll hear more about that one in months to come).  Having planned so many of our trips on my own for the most part, I have amassed a collection of helpful travel tips.

    Today I want to suggest 5 Important Things to Consider When Planning a Vacation: Read more

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    7 Easy Tips for Hosting a Kids’ Birthday Party on a Budget

    This post is sponsored by BJ’s Wholesale Club. They provided us with a gift card to facilitate this post. No compensation was received. All opinions are 100% our own. #ShopTheClub

    7 Easy Tips for Hosting a Kids' Birthday Party on a Budget

     

    This time of year we are certainly no strangers to birthdays! With my birthday and Lily’s birthday having just past, we have our eyes set on Bob’s birthday tomorrow, Landon’s birthday on Saturday and my dad’s birthday next week. We love to celebrate birthdays but never look forward to the price tag that goes along with throwing a party.

    For Landon’s birthday this year I challenged myself to put together a party that was very budget friendly. We shopped at BJ’s Wholesale Club for our food and supplies.

    Check out the tips below to see how we put together a birthday party for less than $100! (Our party example aimed to feed up to 8 kid party guests!)

    1.  Hold a party at your own house or a local park.  Just by hosting your party at your own house or a local park you can eliminate big time costs in your party spending.  Let the kids run around and/or play on a playground.  Super fun for them and easy planning for you!

    2. Shop a wholesale club for big savings on club packs and family sized food packages.  Many times you can also save money on paper supplies like plates, napkins and cutlery!  We always keep the Berkley Jensen 360 Ct pack of Heavy Duty Cutlery on hand in the pantry.  It usually lasts us through several holiday dinners and family parties!  I found some great deals on party themed plates and napkins as well!

    Berkley Jensen Premium Cutlery

    BJ's Wholesale

    BJs Wholesale

    3. Hold your party during the afternoon, BETWEEN lunch and dinner time.  Afternoon parties held between mealtimes don’t come with the expectation that guests will be served a full meal and you can serve snacks and drinks instead of a huge spread.

    We love to to grab big bags of chips, popcorn and pretzels to put out at parties.  The kids are crazy about the Wellsley Farms Organic White Cheddar Popcorn (a big 1 lb bag!).

    Wellsley Farms Organic White Cheddar Popcorn

    We also LOVE the Wellsley Farms Single Serve Hummus packs.  Delicious!!  They are perfect with carrots or other fresh veggies or crackers of your choosing.

    Wellsley Farms Original Hummus Singles

    4. If you serve hot foods, go for kid-friendly favorites in big club-size packs.  Chicken nuggets frequently appear on our menu for the kids’ birthday parties.  They are easy to cook, hold up great in the buffet warmer and the kids LOVE them.  We find that we get a lot of bang for our buck with the big pack of “Dino Buddies” Chicken Breast Nuggets from BJ’s.

    Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

    5.  Serve juice boxes or pouches to avoid having to buy cups!

    Juice Pouches

    6.  Indicate a start AND end time for your party on the invitation.  Give parents the info ahead of time so they know when to pick up their kids and/or to start gathering their things.

    7. Get your birthday cake from BJ’s Wholesale Club – they have a big variety to choose from INCLUDING their new Wellsley Farms 2-tier cake option that is just $29.99!  We couldn’t believe the bargain that BJ’s is offering with their new 2-tier cake option.  For just $29.99 you get a 2-tier cake (10 inch round on the bottom, 5 inch round on the top) that will feed up to 40 guests!  These cakes are available in gold cake with a smooth and creamy vanilla buttercream icing.

    We opted for a non-themed cake in the colors of our choosing.

    BJs Wholesale 2 Tier Cake

    If you’d like to add a theme to your cake, you can choose from one of 16 of today’s most popular licensed kid themes including Finding Dory, Angry Birds, Darth Vader, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Paw Patrol, Hello Kitty, Sesame Street, as well as a selection of Disney princesses and superhero classics.  This decoration is included in the $29.99 price!

    wellsley-farms-stacked-cake-examples

    What are YOUR tips for saving money when hosting a birthday party for the kids?

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    7 Easy Tips to Hosting a Kids' Birthday Party on a Budget

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    The SECRETS to Saving BIG on Disney Souvenirs

    Disney Souvenirs

    Years ago, I wrote a post all about how I save SO MUCH MONEY on Disney souvenirs.  And here I am, almost 5.5 years later, still saving a ton of money, still heading to Disney almost annually with a big ‘ol bag of pre-purchased souvenirs that I have literally sometimes paid pennies for.  My kids usually hit the Parks or cruise ship decked in Disney – either character clothing or costumes – and I can’t help but smile knowing how little I paid for all of it.

    I like to take the other souvenirs (plush, toys, books, etc) and surprise them throughout the trip.  One night I’ll leave a plush on their pillows while they put on their pajamas.  Another day they’ll wake up to find a new costume to wear to the Parks.

    So one question you might ask me – WHERE do you find all of these bargains?  Well.  I have many answers and you can watch them all in this video (I’m LOLing at the video image – I promise I’m happier in this vid than I look on the thumbnail!! LOL!):

    Links to the places mentioned in this video:

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    How to Save Money in Disney

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    17 Insanely Clever LUNCHBOX HACKS for Packing School Lunches

    Lunchbox Hacks for Back to School

    There are several things that you can do to prepare for a great start to a new school year.  You can follow the latest Back to School Deals, you can PIN this collection of school morning breakfast ideas, and then you can PIN this collection of lunchbox hacks!

    Check out these 17 ideas to make lunch packing more efficient, to offer more of a variety of food options to your kids and to add some fun to the lunch presentation!

    1. Make sandwiches at the beginning of the week and freeze until it’s time to pack the lunch. We have had lots of luck freezing hoagies and freezing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    Homemade Italian Hoagies
    PBJ Sandwiches

    2. Upcycle an empty, clean fruit cup by turning it into a cracker holder on a mason jar like this example from Soup Spice Everything Nice.  Stick your favorite salad (tuna, chicken, egg, etc) in the mason jar and you have a very portable homemade lunch!

    Tuna Salad Masonable

    3. Use cookie cutters to cut fruit, cheese and other items into fun shapes.  Don’t ask me why, but when you up the FUN factor, kids are more inclined to eat whatever you’re serving.  I cut shapes with cookie cutters and sometimes I’ll break out the Fun Bites for sandwiches.

    Star Apples
    funbites 2
    Finding Dory Inspired Lunch

    4. Make your own Lunchables using divided containers and cupcake liners.  This example is from Krazy Koupon Lady.

    DIY Lunchable

    5. Portion and bag lunch snacks at the beginning of the week so that mornings can be a simple “grab, fill lunchbox, go.”

    Veggie Snacks

    6. Pickup a sandwich sealer and crust cutter and you can make some legit looking homemade Uncrustables.  This example is from Frugally Blond.

    Homemade Uncrustables

    7.  Make your own icepacks with a dollar store sponge and a sandwich bag!

    Sponge Icepack in lunchbox

    8. Don’t discount the uses for a thermos!  Send an array of non-sandwich foods that actually stay hot until lunchtime!  Foods include soups and leftovers.. plus I love this idea to use chicken nuggets and pizza rolls from Coupon Closet!

    Pizza Rolls in Thermos

    9. Celebrating a birthday?  Wrap the birthday kids’ lunch items to give them a fun surprise at school!  This cute example is from Happy Home Fairy.

    Happy Birthday Lunch

    10. Pouch foods are super convenient and easy to pack.  Buy a pack of reusable food pouches and make your own!

    Reusable Food Pouches

    11. Put a rubber band around a sliced apple to keep it from turning brown!  This example is from At Home with Real Food.

    rubber band around apple

    12. Stick lunch items on wooden skewers to switch up presentation and because, well, everything tastes better on a stick!!  This example is from Skinnytaste.

    lunch kabobs

    13. Want to stick a cute note in your kids’ lunch but can’t seem to ever find a pen or paper in the morning?  We love Lunchbox Love Notes – colorful, cheerful, easy.  (Not to mention the kids LOVE them.  Remember when I found that Lily had been saving every single note I sent her in her desk?)

    lunchbox love

    14. I know my kids would love to find some Lunchbox Smoothies in their packed lunches like these smoothies from One Good Thing by Jillee!

    lunch-box-smoothies

    15. Mason Jar Salads are a fun and colorful way to pack a salad.  Swap to a plastic container (like a quart size plastic takeout container) if you prefer not to send glass.

    mason jar salads

    16. You’ve got your divided containers and cupcake liners, why not pack these DIY Pizza Kits like this example from Mostly Homemade Mom?

    DIY Pizza Kit Lunch

    17. Use small bottles for dressing and dipping sauces like this example from Passion for Savings where she used a clean MIO bottle!

    MIO bottle

    Now that you have your lunch packing ready-to-go, make sure you take a look at the Back to School Deals that have posted!

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    Lunchbox Hacks Back to School

    Also check out…

    25 Quick and Easy Breakfast Recipes for Busy School Mornings
    Back to School Breakfasts

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