1.29.2015

The #1 best Disney tip I learned the hard way.

Did you know that the Magic Kingdom actually turns people away? Neither did I, until one fateful day. I have now successfully been to the Magic Kingdom a total of 3 times. The first two times were pre-Bean days and were during the spring break season. As for the most recent trip (which was about a month ago), boy oh boy I will never forget the most recent trip for as long as I live. Let me paint you a picture...
the #1 Best Disney Tip I learned the hard way.

You have been hyping up Disney World (or in other words the Magic Kingdom, but kids just call the whole thing Disney World) to your 3 year old for almost a year. She can't stop talking about finally going to "Dis-i-ney Wo-wold" and wants to meet Woody in the worst way. The day finally arrives and you all pile into the rental car with dreams of magical moments that await you. As you get closer to the gates you get more and more excited and hype it up even more to your already excited 3 year old. And then, your heart sinks to your stomach like a ton of bricks when you see the sign... "Magic Kingdom CLOSED". What???! They actually turn people away?! My heart is shattered into a million pieces!!! (at least that's what I was thinking in my head)

We unknowingly made the worst mistake of our lives by attempting to go to the Magic Kingdom on New Year's Eve. Little did we know, it was the busiest day of the year. On New Years Eve of 2014, the Magic Kingdom CLOSED to new guests at 10:45 AM and didn't allow anyone else in to the park until 7 hours later at 5:30 PM! And even after that they only allowed a small number in before they closed the park again to new guests for the rest of the night. Whoa. Even if we had gotten in, I definitely would not have enjoyed the 3 hour wait time to ride "Peter Pan's Magic Flight".

Luckily, we accepted our fate (after explaining that we wouldn't be going to Dis-i-ney Wo-wold that day to my surprisingly understanding and mature Bean, who didn't even shed a tear) and turned around before we got to the gates. We decided to enjoy a day at Islands of Adventure which, it turns out, is not little kid friendly. But us big kids had a blast on the roller coasters while Grandma and Grandpa entertained Bean. And, luckily, we had another day before my brother and his girlfriend had to fly back home. For the next attempt, we had a game plan. And despite what time of year I go back to the Magic Kingdom, I will follow this game plan again because IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Get there right as the park opens and immediately ride the rides that are the most popular, even if that means you end up walking a bit more from attraction to attraction.

It was absolutely wonderful. We pretty much walked straight on to Buzz Lightyear's. By the time we left the park that evening? It had about a 2 hour wait time. We then went straight to Space Mountain after that and waited about 20 minutes. By the time we left? About a 2 hour wait time. The wait times started filling up pretty fast (it was New Year's Day after all) so if you go on a non-peak day you'll probably have even better luck with getting on the popular rides quickly.

Don't do Disney with a toddler without following this tip!

After Space Mountain, the popular rides started getting packed very quickly, so we knew we had to turn to the Fast Pass option. With the app, you can select Fast Passes for 3 rides at a time. You don't have to use the app, they have a few kiosks where you can select them in person, but the kiosks even had a ridiculous line. We used our Fast Passes for Peter Pan's Flight and the Haunted Mansion. Yep, we took our 3 year old on the Haunted Mansion. And she loved it.


Don't do Disney with a toddler without following this tip!

When all was said and done, I had the best time taking Bean to the Magic Kingdom, and I was sad to leave. Even though she's still quite young, I have a feeling Bean will always remember the time that Jessie and Woody waved to her. Nope, I did not have the patience to wait in the hour long line for autographs and instead had Bean stand off to the side so that she could ask them to wave to her. She was starstruck.

Don't do Disney with a toddler without following this tip!

There's something about that magical place that still makes me tear up on the way out to this day. I can't wait to go again. You better believe the next time we go we'll be getting there before it opens.

1.25.2015

Love List: 15 Non-Candy Valentines

I was doing the usual rounds at Target last week when I spotted the valentines. So many memories came flooding back: the time that I lost the Valentine's Day teddy bear parade in kindergarten to a kid whose parents most definitely did all of the work for him (yes I remember and yes it still ticks me off), the time I redeemed myself and won the Valentine's Day Box Contest in 4th grade, the time I got a kid in trouble by reporting him to the teacher because he wrote a bunch of creepy questions on all of the girl's valentines, oh the memories. Then I realized, Bean gets to hand out Valentines at school and that means I get to help pick them out!

Being the crafty person that I am, I never like to go the store bought route. I had been seeing a bunch of cute ideas floating around Pinterest for non-candy valentines, an idea that I can totally get behind. I decided to round up my favorites so that when the time comes for Bean to hand out valentines, I have plenty of crafty options to choose from.

List of 15 non candy valentines crafts and gifts

Top to bottom, left to right:

STAMPendous Valentines via Plucky Momo
Glow Stick Valentines via Kommunicated
Play-doh Valentines via Random Thoughts of a Super Mom
Bubble Card Valentines via The Twinery
I'm Stuck on You Valentine via Kiki and Company
Love is in the Air Class Valentines via Eighteen25
You're the Highlight of My Day Valentine via Creating Really Awesome Free Things
Heart Pencil Arrow Valentines via Happiness Is Homemade
You Make My Heart Bounce Valentine via The Crafting Chicks


Not pictured:

"Bee" Mine Valentines via Pizzazzerie
You Rule Valentine via Re:located Living
Pet Rock Valentine via Little Lovables
"Dino"mite Valentine via Swell Chel
I Like How You Roll Valentine via Thirty Handmade Days
Kinetic Sand Valentine via Smart School House

Do you go the store-bought or handmade route when it comes to valentines?

1.23.2015

The perfect breakfast: scrambled eggs and Bigelow Tea.

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

perfect scrambled eggs #AmericasTea #ad

When I spotted a video tutorial from the geniuses that work for Martha Stewart about how to make the perfect scrambled eggs, I was intrigued. I thought it was basic knowledge: throw some eggs in a pan, turn the stove on, scramble them up with your spatula, done. Wrong. I couldn't wait to "get crackin'" (see what I did there?) and pair some perfect scrambled eggs with my morning tea. Upon learning this method, I will never go back to my old way of making scrambled eggs again.

fluffy scrambled eggs #AmericasTea #ad

Start with 2 eggs, add a pinch of salt and a bit of pepper. I once heard a quote from Alton Brown: "Salt makes food taste more like itself." That guy's a genius.

scrambled eggs #AmericasTea #ad

Whip it all together with a fork. You see those air bubbles? That's what you want for light, fluffy eggs.

perfect eggs #AmericasTea #ad

Melt a small pat of butter in your pan. The key here is low and slow. Low temperature and patience is what really makes the difference with these eggs.

american breakfast tea #AmericasTea #ad

While you're waiting for your eggs to start cooking, get your Bigelow American Breakfast blend tea brewing. I like to use my Keurig, it's so fast and easy! Pour a mug's worth of water into the Keurig, set a tea bag in the empty mug, make sure the k-cup holder is empty, and then brew a hot cup of water over the tea bag. Let it brew for 4 minutes.

50% more caffeine #AmericasTea #ad

I'm getting more into tea now because it gives a different lift than coffee. Tea gets help from Theanine, a naturally occurring compound unique to tea. This in combination with caffeine gives you a sustained energy boost along with a feeling of relaxation and focus that only tea can provide. And, as you can see, each box of Bigelow comes with 20 individually, foil wrapped tea bags with 50% more caffeine in every tea bag. More caffeine? Sounds good to me! Plus, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the American Breakfast Tea line goes to support our U.S. service men and women and almost 4 million bags of tea have been sent to troops overseas with Bigelow's Tea for Troops programThat's pretty awesome.

perfect fluffy scrambled eggs #AmericasTea #ad

Back to our regularly scheduled programming... keep an eye on those eggs. Once you see the eggs starting to cook, using your spatula, gently push the cooked eggs into the middle. I used to just haphazardly mix things around and chop things up with my spatula. Not any more.

perfect breakfast #AmericasTea #ad

Before the eggs are totally cooked, remove them from heat. They will continue to cook for about a minute after. This is how you make sure your eggs are soft and full of moisture and not dry and crumbly. Look at that delicious, nutritious, and energy boosting breakfast!
  bigelow tea #AmericasTea #ad

Don't forget to drink your Bigelow tea out of a super cool vintage mug. It's interesting to note, Bigelow Tea is All American: 100% American made by an American Family; an American Company for the American consumer. Available at an American Retailer - Walmart. And Bigelow Tea's Charleston Tea Plantation is America's largest working tea garden. So head on down to Walmart to purchase your American Breakfast blend tea to go with your morning scrambled eggs.

bigelow tea walmart #AmericasTea #ad

Visit here for more inspiration and stories about Bigelow Tea:

So, did I teach you any new tricks to make better scrambled eggs? Or did you already know the ways of Martha Stewart?

1.18.2015

Making new "mom friends" is exactly like dating.

You guys, I made my first play date phone number exchange EVER last week. How I managed to avoid it for the past 3 years of Bean's life, I don't know, but I finally DID IT!

"Do you like me" cookies via Bake at 350
It started a few weeks back at pick-up time. Bean's class is dismissed one kid at a time. After I picked her up and started making my way to the door, I was met with a warm, "Are you Bean's mom? (un-named child) can't stop talking about her!" Can you imagine how overjoyed I was to hear that my separation anxiety-stricken child had a friend?! I was caught so off guard that I barely remembered to introduce myself. Needless to say, phone numbers were not exchanged, and it was weeks before I saw my future best friend, I mean, Bean's friend's mom, again.

Last week was the preschool Parent Party. My husband was unable to attend as it was held during the day, so I invited my Mom to come along. A few minutes into the event, I spotted Bean's friend. And would you know it, her mom was wearing plaid (just like I was, of course). Could we be more perfect for each other? I played it cool.

Then came snack time. I could tell that my mom didn't want to butt-in, but also wanted to nudge me towards the other mom by the way that she "subtly" suggested that we sit at the table that said mom's baby carrier was sitting on. I took the hint.

After we all sat down (Oh, look! Bean's sitting by her favorite friend from school! What are the odds?) and had some small talk, I made the plunge. "You know, I thought it would be a good idea to exchange numbers so that we can have a play date with the girls sometime..." I entered my new best friend, I mean, Bean's playmate's mom's number into my phone with shaking fingers. Bingo. Now I only hope that in the haze of my excitement I got the number right.

I'm sure you've already heard the comparison between finding "mom friends" and dating. I'm here to tell you it is absolutely 100% true. Making "mom friends" is, in my opinion, even more awkward than dating. It is in fact 10x more awkward. Why haven't they come up with an internet dating site for mom friends? Someone better get on that.

*UPDATE: Somebody did get on it. It's called Mom Meet Mom. Ever heard of it? Neither had I until about a minute ago. Hmmmm...

1.16.2015

Bye bye chest strap: my new and improved 5K training program.

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

5k training program #BioSport #ad

"Fitness is 80% nutrition, 20% exercise." Have you ever heard that saying before? Or maybe you've heard, "You can't out run a bad diet." It's frustrating but true. I have always been an avid runner, but I have to admit that I often fall short on the nutrition front. I've naively told myself that because I was running a few miles a day I was burning a gazillion calories, so I could eat relatively healthy but didn't have to focus on a super restrictive diet. Ultimately, fitness boils down to one simple factor: calories in vs. calories out. I didn't have an accurate picture of the amount of calories I was expending during my runs. Luckily, I found a tool that was fusing fitness with technology for a smarter workout.

sms biosport headphones #BioSport #ad

I decided that in order for me to crush my fitness goals for 2015, I needed to get down to basic numbers. I had a super rough idea of the amount of calories I was burning during my runs thanks to my treadmill and other apps like RunKeeper (which I knew were based on averages and statistics) but I have always longed to get specific and invest in equipment that would track my burn based on me and my heart rate. The thought of wearing a heart monitor wasn't appealing to me, so I am incredibly stoked to say that I found the perfect piece of equipment.

In-Ear heart rate monitor headphones #SMSAudio #BioSport #ad

I found the SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones at Dick's Sporting Goods. I had never heard of headphones with a built-in heart rate monitor, let alone Intel. I thought Intel was strictly a computer thing. Plus, they came with a free month of RunKeeper Elite, score!

SMS BioSport Headphones #BioSport #ad


I have the world's tiniest ears, no lie. I wasn't sure how they would work for me, but since they include both small, medium, and large ear gels it was no problem. I just slipped the small ones on, tucked the heart rate monitor (ear wing) in, and I was ready rock. BioSport improves the consistency of data collection with an ear-wing design that sits deeper in the ear canal for continuous, real-time heart rate monitoring. Fusing fitness with technology, the built-in sensor continuously measures heart rate while dynamically removing noise signals caused by the body's motion during a workout. The sound was great, and the heart rate monitoring was on point!

SMS In-Ear Heart Rate Monitor Headphones #BioSport #ad #SMSAudio

Using your BioSport headphones is as easy as 1-2-3:
ONE | Install RunKeeper on your iPhone or Android device.
TWO | Plug in your BioSport headphones to your phone and move the slider up to heart rate mode.
THREE | Sync your headphones with the RunKeeper app by selecting the heart icon.

Here in Minnesota it's a little tricky to get an outdoor run in , especially when you're trying to use a jogging stroller on a snow covered sidewalk. When the weather gets warmer, I can't wait to use the GPS function with my RunKeeper App.

The final step in my running makeover, a super awesome 5K training program. I've done the "Couch to 5K" and other intermediate training programs, but I hadn't yet found one that kept me entertained, didn't have me running a million miles, and had room for cross-training. If you'd like to follow along with me, here is my 6 week training program (add one rest day to each week wherever you see fit):

faster 5k training program EASY RUN: run at a maintainable pace for the time allotted.

SURGES: start with a short warm-up and then repeat the following for the number of surges: go all out for the surge, then run at a steady pace for 2 minutes. Cool down for a few minutes at the end.

FAST FINISH: run the majority of the time at a steady pace, finish the run at a moderate pace.

LONG RUN: run at a maintainable pace for the time allotted.

TIME TRIAL: complete the distance allotted at a pace that is challenging yet attainable.

If you're ready to take your running to the next level, get yourself a pair of these babies. Now until 1/31/15, get 20% off SMS BioSport Headphones at SMSAudio.com with the promo code BioSport20 (US only).

Find SMS Audio on WEBSITE  ///  FACEBOOK  ///  INSTAGRAM

Do you use a heart rate monitor during your training? Are you currently following any 5K training programs?

1.14.2015

Illuminated Chalkboard Sign w/ Michaels Spring Wood Surfaces.

I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Plaid Crafts, Michaels and Blueprint Social. The opinions in this post are my own.

My downstairs is the most neglected area of the house. We spend the least amount of time down there (especially during Minnesota winters, brrrrr!), too many things get put down there "until I can find a better place for it", and it's severely under-decorated. I have had plans for a vintage modern slightly movie themed room for over a year, but has it come to fruition? Nope. Do I have some awesome minimalist movie art waiting to be hung? Yep. This project of mine using Michaels Spring Wood Surfaces is my way of kick-starting the downstairs transformation. 

chalkboard sign #MadeWithMichaels #PlaidCrafts

SUPPLIES
Michaels Spring Wood Surfaces
Chalkboard paint (I made my own out of Folk Art Acrylic Paint and baking soda!)
String of 10 battery powered lights
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Self-adhesive foam letters 

1.13.2015

Flying with a toddler and keeping your sanity! (it CAN be done)

We are fresh off of our first ever family vacation, not counting road trips to the cabin, and I didn't lose my marbles once! I was slightly nervous about how Bean would do on the plane, but I knew that she had lasted through a 5 hour road trip with myself, my mom, and sister for a national dance competition last summer pretty awesomely. There was a chance that the flight could go off without a hitch. Nevertheless, I decided to do a little research and see if I could find some tips and tricks that I might not have thought of myself for traveling with a toddler.

How to keep your sanity while flying with a toddler

Those tips, combined with my own experience, are what I'm sharing as my advice for how to keep your sanity while flying with a toddler.

How to keep your sanity while flying with a toddler

Pack the carseat in a duffle bag and stash extras Carseats can be checked for free! After picking our stroller up after our flight back home and seeing that the cupholder had snapped off and was now missing, we were glad that we had packed the carseat in a huge duffle bag. Otherwise, there's no telling what sort of condition it would have come back to us in. Plus, we were able to sneak a few "extras" in the bag free of charge.

Keep the stroller with you until you board You don't have to check your stroller before going through security. I'm glad that I read this tip beforehand, otherwise I might have. The stroller helped contain Bean when she was getting a little crazy, and it gave her a place to lie down while we were waiting to board.

1.12.2015

Whole grain oats DIY instant oatmeal packets.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Quaker. All opinions are mine alone. #MyOatsCreation #CollectiveBias

whole grain oats #MyOatsCreation #ad

The first words out of Bean's mouth every morning? Well, besides saying... "Moooommm, mooommmm, moooommmm..." into the monitor? "I can have some oatmeal?" My child is capital O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with oatmeal, which is a funny idea for me because I can't stand it. We go through instant oatmeal packets like nobody's business. I was opening my thousandth packet the other morning and thought to myself, "You are the DIY queen, there has got to be a way to come up with oatmeal recipes for your own packets." The variety box that I usually bought had just a C+ rating on Fooducate, no good!

After some research and a genius tip from One Good Thing by Jillee, I landed on my own versions of Bean's favorite store-bought instant oatmeal packets. Bean's favorite are the Fruit and Cream variety, so those are the flavors I have chosen to re-create. Off to Target I went (along with my husband and Bean in tow) to gather my supplies.