Wednesday, March 30, 2016

List: How to plan a Disney vacation in 2016.

Growing up I was a very lucky girl.
Every summer my grandparents took me, my brother, and my cousin to Disney World.
We always looked forward to this road trip and the vacation never disappointed.
As we got older my grandparents starting cashing in their Disney timeshare for other trips.
While we haven't gone in years, the memories have never left me.
I may just have the best nanny and papa in the entire world.  Just saying!

These days my grandparents are completely uninterested in making this trip.
While that's true, they kept their timeshare so their great grandchildren can have the same memories.
With a new generation on the family tree, our nanny and papa is still the best!

My husband and I agreed this year we'd utilize the timeshare and take the famous road trip.
He doesn't know how we'd spent a night at Savannah, Georgia or about our special detours.
We're going to take this family tradition and make it our own this time.
And I can't wait!!!!

How to plan a Disney vacation in 2016.

1.  Start the planning as early as possible.
Things aren't as simple as they were all those years ago.
Everything in Disney and Disney related are based on paid reservations.
Example:  We started planning 3 months ago and we're unable to reserve half of what we wanted.

2.  Download the Disney application.
This makes booking, changing, and canceling reservations real easy.
It's also a fantastic way to view your "itinerary".
I'm a little disappointed how a Disney trip became all time slots and schedules.

3.  Consider opening a Disney credit card.
I've searched high and low for discounted tickets for Disney world.  They don't exist.
The best deal was opening a Disney card for a $200 credit on your first large purchase.
Buying the tickets with the card was like having a $200 coupon.  Then pay it off.

4.  Learn the Disney lingo.
You'll want to research things like "hopper tickets", "memory maker", and "fast pass+".
If all else fails, call Disney direct and have them explain these terms for you.
Overwhelming is an understatement.  One plus is "fast pass+" is free!

5.  Pick which parks you're going to on which day.
You'll need to know this so you can schedule your "fast pass+" options and reserve dining spots.
Dining reservations seem to book up the quickest.  If you're picky with this, do it stat!
I was real sad to learn that all 3 meals with the princesses was booked MONTHS in advance.

6.  Decide if you want to attend a character dining.
I wanted to book a fun dining for my mush and a fun dining for my Godson.
Unfortunately, 3 months in advance was too late.  Many of these experiences were booked.
I was able to grab a spot for Brunch at Chef Mickeys and a lunch with Safari Donald Duck.

7.  Decide if you want to attend a dinner show.
These book just as quickly as the character dining.  If you want a popular show, book it now.
Look into the different cuisines, shows, and drink availability to decide which is the best.
We settled for the Hoop Dee Doo Revoo.  We were sold at unlimited Sangria.  Heyyy!!

8.  Research what rides or events have the longest line.
You can only book 3 "fast pass+" appointments per park per day.
You want to pick these wisely.  Word is the character signings have the longest lines.
We tried to book our fast passes in the morning and around our dining reservations.

9.  Look into the free events that your ticket includes.
There are many experiences that don't cost anything extra once you're in the park.
There are parades, fireworks shows, and other events that go on during the day.  Plan around them!
This is when the app's itinerary comes in handy.  You can set reminders for these events!

10.  Become real familiar with your app.
This app lets you know wait times and character appearances without walking the park.
Use it to avoid long waits and to get the most out of your trip.
The magic of Disney has become a very meticulously planned event.

What are you Disney trip planning tips?

Monday, March 28, 2016

List: Ten words and phrases created and used by a toddler.

Last week I suffered through a very traumatic event at work:  my favorite water bottle died.
Feel free to have a moment of silence for my beloved cup.  He was a faithful work companion.
The next day I had no choice but to borrow my baby girl's Elsa & Ana cup.
When a co-worker quickly made fun of me, their giggle turned to a laugh when I called it a baba.
Apparently there's no need to refer to things in baby talk when speaking to adults.  Woops.

That got me thinking of all the different things my mush has changed into her own word.
In an attempt to record these cute fake words forever, I decided to share them all with you!
I know, I know.  You all got a little nervous that I wasn't going to share.  No worries, here they are!

Ten words and phrases created and used by a toddler.

Please note:  It took all the power in the world to write "toddler" and not " baby".

1.  Let it go
Anything Frozen related including the actual movie will forever be known as "Let it go".
Except for Olaf.  Apparently he deserves his own identity...

2.  Chicken
Every single type of meat in the world will forever be called chicken.
This causes confusion when fulfilling her requests.  We always hear "not THAT chicken"...

3.  Blah Blah Blah
Hotel Transylvania will forever be known as Blah Blah Blah.
The best was hearing my grandpa say "Mushy, what is blah blah blah?!".

4.  Picker
While the rest of us are using our computer, my baby girl is using her picker.
This one actually took me a while to decipher.  I had to ask her to show me the picker.

5.  Pop Pop
The movie Rio and all of its characters will forever be known as Pop Pop.
Apparently the only part of the movie that stuck is the 2 second clip saying "I'm the pop pop".

6.  Tangled
When my Mush wants her "tangled" she isn't talk about the movie.  She wants her scarf.
I can only assume the dangling ends of the scarf reminds her of Rapunzel's hair.

7.  Meow
For months now she ends almost every word, phrase, and question with "meow meow".
The sad part is, I do it back.  And, no, I have no idea why...

8.  S'kito
Every bug in the world, except for a spider, will forever be known as a S'kito.
Spiders are always referred to as itsy bitsy.  Trust me, some of them were NOT itsy bitsy.

9.  Dookah Dookah
She's been saying this since before she was one and I still have no clue what it means.
At this point she may just be saying it on purpose to hear me ask "WHAT IS A DOOKAH?!"

10.  Queen Mommy
When I'm not mommy, I'm Queen Mommy.
Don't look at me like that.  I have no idea where Princess got that from...

What made up words have you heard toddlers say?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Recipe: Pizza Rustica AKA Easter Pie

**While I'm busy playing Easter bunny and getting my home ready for the holiday, enjoy my favorite Easter themed re-posts.  For those who celebrate, here's to a very happy, happy Easter!**


Every year on Easter, my grandmother serves the most delicious Italian Easter pie.
The tradition goes that after fasting throughout lent, we indulge like a piggy on Easter.
This Easter pie, better known as Pizza Rustica, is filled with meats, cheese, and eggs.
And, oh my goodness, is it yummy!!!  My man was drooling for a month before it was served!

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Pizza Rustica

2 Pie Crusts
¼ lb Salami
¼ lb Ham
¼ lb Soppressata
¼ lb Pepperoni
8 Eggs
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
16 oz Mozzarella
16 oz Ricotta

Take each meat and make sure the skin has been removed.  Dice eat meat into ¼” pieces and separate them.  For the majority of the meats, I use my cooking scissor.  Dice the chunk of mozzarella into ¼” pieces and put to the side.  In a bowl, beat the (8) eggs and mix in the Parmesan and the mozzarella into it.
This pie is made with layers, so try not to mix the ingredients together.

Lay the bottom pie crust along the bottom on the pie tray.  Coat with a thin layer of your egg mixture along the bottom.  In separate layers, spread each meat all across the bottom of the pie.  In between each layer of meat, spread an equal amount of ricotta, and the egg mixture.  Continue this until the pie is full and all of your ingredients have been used.  Top the pie with the second pie crust and seal it closed.
Nanny always brushes melted butter and pokes a few small holes in the top pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 325* and bake for an hour and half.
Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Have you ever or will you ever make pizza rustica?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ideas: How to make an epic Easter basket that any kid would love.

For all of my readers that celebrate Easter, here is a step by step guide to make the perfect basket.  Some of you may not know this about me, but I am totally NOT crafty.  Luckily, this lack of creativity is genetic which means Madre was able to guide me in simple terms.  She gave me step by step instructions that will make my Mushy think I’m a basket making pro.

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Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

How to make the perfect Easter basket.

Step 1:  Pick a practical theme.

This could be a color, a hobby, a movie, or even a band.  While the possibilities are endless, you're going to want to pick something with options.  For example, a pansy themed Easter basket may be harder to fill than a flower garden theme.

Step 2:  Buy a basket.

As my husband reminded the other day, don’t buy a huge basket.  You will feel obligated to fill the basket, so choose one that’s cute and reasonably sized.  Try to pick a neutral color or one that goes with your theme.

Idea:  Get a neutral, handwoven basket like this gorgeous one so that you can reuse it every year.  If you get a good enough basket, it can be the best investment under $20 that you'll make all year.

Step 3:  Pick and buy the “big” gift.

I'm going to be real firm and say that this is NOT Christmas.  Proper Easter basket etiquette is to fill it with one large gift and then a bunch of smaller items.  To be extra fun, keep your big gift somewhat in line with your theme.

Idea:  For the girls, try a unicorn theme and make your big gift the appropriate Rainbocorn toy (click here).  A Rainbocorn is a surprise animal with a unicorn horn obviously hidden in a giant egg.  

Idea:  For the boys, try a Ryan's World theme and make your big gift the appropriate giant mystery egg (click here).  These are giant eggs filled with different toys from the Ryan's World show on Nickelodeon.

Step 4:  Pick and buy (1) chocolate bunny.

The chocolate bunny is an Easter staple and should be displayed appropriately.  The size of the bunny is dependent upon the size of the basket.

Idea:  For a chocolate bunny that you would all actually eat, try the Dove chocolate bunny like this one.  Other chocolate bunnies look pretty, but don't taste all that great.

Step 5:  Purchase paper grass.

You will need this to line the bottom of the basket.  I suggest paper grass because a child or pet is less likely to choke if it’s consumed on accident and it's better for the environment.  As I'm sure your hyper aware of at this point, the grass should be neutral or in line with your theme.

Idea:  Use extra paper grass to make a nest on the floor as an extra surprise from the Easter bunny.  You can top the nest with all the extra candy so it's doesn't mysteriously appear the day after Easter.

Step 6:  Buy Easter themed candy.

There are so many options to choose from that this part was the most fun.  I suggest to stick to three candies plus Peeps because they're classic to keep in budget and still be festive.  We usually buy a bulk bag of mixed chocolate candy, chocolate carrots, and blow pops.

Step 7:  Pick your basket fillers.

Try the dollar store or the <$5 section in Target to bulk up your basket.  You'll be surprised at how many fun things you'll find to fit in the Easter theme that were only $1 each.  Think crayons, chalk, bubbles, sticker, etc.  These fillers are meant to be fun surprises, not Christmas morning in a basket.

Idea:  Feeling lazy?  Don't be afraid to purchase party favor multi-packs like Unicorn themed one.  This is probably the easiest way to bulk up that basket without breaking the bank.

Step 8:  Purchase plastic eggs.

These were surprisingly inexpensive and could totally be reused year after year!  Use the majority of the eggs to hide on Easter morning, but set aside 3 or 4 to put into the basket.  Growing up there was always a dollar inside the eggs in my basket.  I decided to do the same.

Idea:  No time to stuff eggs this year?  Try a stuffed 100 pack like this one.  They're inexpensive, already stuffed, and there's no reason you can't still save the empty eggs for next year.

Step 9:  Buy plastic cellophane.

This is to wrap around the completed Easter basket so make sure it’s sized accordingly.  I've wanted to make this themed with color cellophane in the past, but it was a major fail.  Plus, your roll of cellophane should last for life.  Instead go with clear plastic to emphasis that gorgeous basket that you just worked so hard one.

Idea:  If you're having a hard time finding a roll, like I was, you can just click here for exactly what you need.  I find that the stores push colored cellophane bags so that you have to buy it again every year.

Step 10:  Put the basket together.

Start with lining the basket with the grass and placing the “big” gift as the focal point.  Then place the chocolate bunny to the side, yet in a place where it would be the second thing noticed.  Sprinkle the candy along the bottom of the basket and then randomly place the plastic eggs.  Take the filler gifts and strategically place them around the “big” gift.  Cover with the clear plastic cellophane and staple closed.  Bonus points if you have ribbon to tie around the plastic cellophane.

That's it!  You're officially DONE.  Send me pictures so that I can add them here for inspiration and will link back to your page.

What are your Easter basket tips?

Monday, March 21, 2016

List: Ten simple ways to break a mundane routine for a more fulfilling life.

If your family is anything like mine, you've fallen into a routine that leaves you yawning.  Work, dinner, chores, sleep, repeat, and throw in the occasional movie night or shopping trip.  This busy routine with little excitement has me feeling like life is just passing me by.  That forced me to brainstorm ways we can continue to be productive and still be spontaneous.

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Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

How to break routine for a more fulfilling life.

1.  Host a forgotten holiday.
Growing up, my mother threw holiday parties every Chinese New Year and National Pig Day.  These holidays may seem odd for us to celebrate, but it was a great way to break routine and celebrate life.  Pick a holiday that you never celebrated before and host a fun, themed event in your home.

2.  Have an after dinner game hour.
Our Friday nights consist of a trip to the grocery store, Chinese food, a movie, and then bed.  Talk about routine..  Change it up your after routine for a family game night instead.  Whoever won the last family game night gets the game of choice during the next spontaneous game hour.

Idea:  Our family game to play together as a family is Color Brain.  When we play with the kiddies we use this Disney Edition of Color Brain so that it's an even battle.

3.  Take on a productive project as a family.
Whether you're a family of one or ten, there are always multiple projects that need to get done.  Take a dreaded task like painting the living room or re-potting your plants and make it fun!  For example, while my husband was painting the sitting room, the kids and I painted an undone wall with water colors.

Idea:  Instead of a productive project, make something fun and then go use it.  Try this kite decorating kit to make a kite each.  Then go to the park and fly your kites.  Hello fresh air and FUN!

4.  Pick one day to play hookie.
Pick a day to break your routine and play hookie.  That means skipping work, school, or even your weekend errands.  This spontaneous act is a great time to go on an impromptu adventure.  Go to a place you've never been before an explore even if it's just the next town over.  It's not about big and luxurious.  It's about unexpected change.

5.  Respond yes to an invitation.
Everyone declines at least one too many invitations due to lack of time, funds, or the desire to go.  This time surprise yourself by forcing a yes.  Almost anything can be fun if you make it that way.  It's all about perpective.

6.  Be competitive.
I find that a little competition can make any mundane task just a little bit more interesting.  See who can finish their chores first.  Loser has to make dinner while the winner sips wine and watches.  You may still be fulfilling your responsibilities, but the "how" is different.

7.  Utilize Groupon for spontaneous adventures.
Grab inexpensive tickets to a local concert, zoo, aquarium, or wine tasting.  Be grateful for the discount and thank Groupon for the inspiration.  Then stay awake an extra hour Saturday to clear up your Sunday schedule for your unexpected plans.  It's funny how easy those Saturday night chores will be when the reward is a fun filled day.

Idea:  Don't forget to take LOTS of pictures to make a photo album later.  That album will be filled with memories and motivation to do it again.  Click here to see some great deals on prints.  You can thank me later.

8.  Start a cook book challenge.
That mundane routine seems to take over mealtime like a fungus too.  Forget meatloaf Wednesdays and spice up your dinner with a cookbook challenge.  Get a cookbook, open to a random page, and then cook it.  Can't get more adventurous than that!  What if you land on cow tongue?

Idea:  We do this periodically with this cookbook.  It's my absolute favorite.  Easy recipes and we haven't had a bad dish from it yet.  In fact, I love it so much that I already gifted it twice.  Don't like books in the kitchen?  This will take you to the Kindle version.

9.  Plan a pot luck dinner with your closest friends.
This requires little work for the host but always ends with lots of laughs.  Give each person an assigned course to bring any food of their choice for a real interesting menu.  You'll be saving yourself from that boring routine while saving others at the same time.  Let them know they can thank you with a bottle of wine.

10.  Plan a vacation.
I'm a firm believer that everyone deserves at least one vacation a year .  It doesn't matter if that vacation is a trip or a staycation as long as it's a break from life.  Take time to plan some time off and thoroughly enjoy it.  Vacations are the best breaks from life's routine.

Do you prefer routine or excitement?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Recipe: Tomato Soup with Eggs and Ricotta.

One of my favorite meals to make when I was single was tomato soup and eggs.  It was REAL easy to make and very filling.  It's also less the carbs so it was kind of waistline friendly.

Once my hubby and I got together, I tried to make it once in a while as a quick dinner.  He would refuse to eat it and tell me that it didn't look good.  Finally, after some strong persuasion tactics, I got him to try it.  & he absolutely loved it...

How to make tomato soup with eggs & ricotta.

First, you need a can of Amy's Organic Chunky Bisque Soup.
I use three cans to feed my husband, my daughter, and myself for dinner.
It really HAS to be this brand.  I've tried many others and none compared.

Second, you need plenty of eggs.
I use two eggs for everyone one can of soup.
I'm not fussy on the brand of eggs, but I somehow always end up with Market Pantry.

After gathering both ingredients, I'll coat the bottom of my medium sized pot with olive oil.
Then I'll pour all of the cans of soup into the pot and add the eggs.
I'll then thoroughly mix together the soup and the eggs.
Once they're combined, I'll boil the mixture for a solid 10 minutes stirring frequently.
When it's fully cooked, the soup should pretty much be sucked up by the eggs.

After it's cooked, I'll pour them into large bowls leaving a decent amount of room.
I'll then add two very large spoon fulls of ricotta on top of the soup.
I strongly suggest using Polly-O ricotta.  I've yet to find one to even closely compete.

I like to eat it by grabbing a little bit of ricotta and soup at the same time.
My husband likes to mix the ricotta into the soup before eating.
Either way, it really is delicious.
Quick, easy, and budget friendly.  You just need to get past the appearance.

Have you, or will you, try tomato soup with eggs & ricotta?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

List: Ten things to never say to your wife.

There are many things that men should really try to avoid saying to their wife.  I'm not referring to those mean, hurtful things that we all could say in a fit of anger.  I'm referring to those silly things that just come out in a fit of verbal diarrhea.  Don't deny it!  We all have those slips of the tongue that make us think "what did I just say?".

This post is meant to be fun.  So let's keep it like that!
I'd also like to squash the reasonable assumption that my husband said most of these.

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Ten things to never say to your wife.

1.  "Maybe you should try that Kim Kardashian shape wear."
When I asked if I looked fat in this outfit, all I really wanted you to say NO.  ...& don't ever compare me to a Kardashian!

2.  "Dinner is great!  Can you get me a drink?"
The fact that I made and served dinner means that you can fill MY glass.  Preferably, with a nice pinot noir!

3.  "...because I'm a man."
That is not an excuse or a justification of anything.  You and you're extra body part can leave now.

4.  "I don't have high blood pressure.  Can you use more salt?!"
Just because you like things salty, doesn't mean the world does.  Get the salt shaker and SHAKE!  Why should we all suffer when you can just put a little extra on your dish.

5.  "My friend's wife always does this."
Perfect!  Why don't you ask him to divorce her so that you can be with her yourself?!

6.  "Why can't you dress more conservative like your sister in law?"
First off, I dress appropriately.  Second, you had no problem with how I dressed when you asked me out!  Or is that the problem?

7.  "That's the woman's job."
Just for that, I'll never do that again.  Like, ever.

8.  "I'm hungry."
That's nice.  I have to pee.

9.  "This house is a mess."
I'm glad you noticed!  The broom is in the closet and the paper towels are under the sink.

10.  "He just said or did that because he wants you."
Or, MAYBE, he's just a nice guy?  In which case, you may want to ask him for some advice.

Related - If you did say something, and want to make it up to her with a fabulous gift, check out this gift guide.  Just remember to deliver it with an apology AND never say it again.

What's the worst you've heard?

Monday, March 14, 2016

List: Ten stereotypes about women leaders that need to end today.

I'm a firm believer that women can do almost anything a man can do, and sometimes they do it better.  While we're lucky enough to live in a time that men and women are typically considered equals, it's disheartening to hear a select few people still put men on a higher pedestal.  While these ignorant people are far and few between, I got stuck with two of them!

Ladies, let's get together and squash those idiotic rumors I was forced to overhear.  FYI:  In my family's household, our chores, childcare, and salaries are all pretty much equal.

stereotypes about professional women;

10 stereotypes about women leaders that need to end.

1.  Women take more time off then men.
All employees are given an equal amount of paid time off based on position and seniority.  Apparently this stereotype is backed by women's stereotypical mental instability and their motherly instincts.  I fail to see the fine print in my employee handbook that states "Women get an extra 3 days off".

2.  Women with children are less reliable.
As a mother, I would think this stereotype would be the opposite.  I became more reliable after having a child.  Apparently, children make women use more PTO time, make women more susceptible to get sick, and fill all women's brains leaving no room for work.  Unless men have an invisible shield to protect them from getting their child's cold, this stereotype is rubbish.

3.  Women can't work extended shifts.
Most responsible people wouldn't have applied let alone accept a position if they couldn't work the required hours.  The stereotype typically states that all women need to come in later and leave earlier to take care of a household.  I work a solid 10-12 hours shift several times a week...and I'm a woman, wife, AND mother!

4.  Women aren't a good business investment.
Women get married and have babies which makes them more likely to quit after a certain age.  Apparently a woman's desire to gain a certain position isn't enough evidence to prove this rumor false.  Not all women want to be full time caregivers.  Those that do, probably won't waste time pursuing a career.

5.  Women sleep their way to the top.
Believe it or not, many women work real hard to obtain certain titles and positions.  Insert gasp.  The common stereotype amount women leaders is that they are incapable of using anything other than their bodies to get anywhere in life.  Truth is, women typically have to work harder than men to overcome stereotypes while still maintaining their personal responsibilities.

6.  Women get upper management positions to fill a quota.
See number five.  As a woman, I find the fact that these laws still exist insulting.  Their existence puts a damper on any woman's success.  To say that a woman is only most qualified female candidate as opposed to the most qualified of all candidates is disheartening.

7.  Women are too emotional to make hard decisions.
Not everyone is qualified to be in a decision making position.  Both men and women need to learn how to separate their emotions from their business duties.  This stereotype about women leaders absolutely false.

8.  Women need to be protected.
While I'm all about chivalry, men need to know that it's more of a want than a need.  As the stereotype typically goes, a woman needs a man by her side to protect her physically or from a professional nightmare.  While most women appreciate the concern, don't be fooled into coddling us.

9.  Women don't like to get dirty.
While I'll admit that I hate to get dirty, not all women are that way.  According to the popular rumors, women are the only sex that will shy away from the dirty jobs and physical labor.  I recently asked a male coworker to hold something and he told me "but, my shirt is clean".  Just saying!

10.  Women are weaker and submissive.
The majority of men are physically stronger then women, but that doesn't make women weak.  As the stereotype goes, a man's physique is going to make women jump and say "yes sir" at every request.  Besides, I know plenty of women that could mentally or physically kick anyone's butt!

What stereotypes would you like to end?


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