We had such a great time in Disney! My favorite part was seeing the joy on the boys’ faces when they met their favorite characters! These are memories that I will cherish forever. I haven’t been to Disney since I was little and obviously so much has changed with the park but also with preparing for your Disney trip. I did a lot of research and asked my Disney expert friends what I needed to do and came up with a trip that was best suited to our family’s needs. Here are my Disney tips and tricks with what worked for us!
We purchased the 5 day Park Hopper Pass. We were able to go to all of the Disney Parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios) plus we were able to go to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon with our tickets. We chose the Hopper pass which allows you to visit more than one park in a day. We felt this was good for us because we knew the boys weren’t going to last all day in a park. We wanted to have the ability to come and go as we pleased so we would go to the park during the day and take a swim break at the hotel and go back to the park if we wanted.
If you stay in a Disney hotel you will automatically get Magic Bands sent to you. If you don’t stay on Disney property you have the option of purchasing your own Magic Bands. I highly suggest getting Magic Bands for many reasons!
- You don’t have to carry tickets in with you. Your Magic Band will scan at the park entrance
- If you plan on making FastPass selections you will just scan your bands at each FastPass ride entrance
- If you plan on purchasing the Memory Maker Photos you just scan your band at each photo location throughout each park and your photos are automatically uploaded to your My Disney Experience App.
My Disney Experience App
Now that you have your tickets and Magic Bands it is time to plan out your trip. You can do this all through the MyDisneyExperience website and App. I used the website for my laptop and downloaded the App on my phone for when we were in Disney. This is where everything for your Disney trip is stored. This app is so user friendly and walks you through how to link your tickets to your Magic Bands, book FastPasses, dining and more.
I highly suggest purchasing the Memory Maker Photo Pass. There are Disney Cast Members all over the parks who take your photo in front of your favorite Disney attractions and character meet and greets.
Nick is a Hilton Honors member so were able to use his points for our stay. We stayed at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace which is located at Disney Springs. Being that we were not on Disney property I had to make sure our hotel had shuttles to the parks. So that is one of the main reasons we stayed here. The shuttles came to our hotel every 25 minutes starting an hour before the parks opened. Then we were dropped off just outside of security at each park.
On Sundays the Hilton Buena Vista Palace has a Character buffet breakfast. Minnie, Pluto, and Goofy go around to each table and visit with each family. This was awesome because I didn’t have to stress about booking a character breakfast within the parks. The boys had a great time!
We were also within walking distance to Disney Springs which is a great outdoor shopping and dining area. We went there just about every night for dinner. I had made reservations for restaurants in advance and I would definitely suggest you do this as well because it gets very crowded.
There are also a lot of great shops in Disney Springs. They have a huge Disney store so that is where we did most of our souvenir shopping so we didn’t have to carry our purchases around with us all day at the parks.
Another lifesaver for us was Amazon Prime Now. I placed an order with Prime Now at midnight the night we arrived in Disney and our order was in our hotel by 8:30 the next morning! I would highly recommend doing this because you can bring in food and drinks to the parks and this will save you money!
If you have younger kids I highly suggest the Pirates League Makeover where your kiddos can get transformed into Pirates or Mermaids. Also for your littles who love Princesses they can become their favorite princess at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Both are located in the Magic Kingdom. This was such an awesome experience. From the moment you walk in it is a Pirates Adventure where you get your own Pirate name, pick your costume, receive special Pirate goodies, and more. You need to make a reservation so you will need to call (407- WDW-STYLE) to book your experience.
We are heading to Disney in a few weeks! The boys are so excited and I have to say so am I. I haven’t been there since I was little and so much has changed. I have been doing so much research on the do’s and don’ts of the happiest place on earth! So as we prepare to head to sunny Florida I am going to share with you all of the essentials I have found for our trip!
- 1 Orange
- 1 Cup Fresh Cranberries
- 2-3 Sprigs of Pine or Rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon Cloves
- 2-4 Cinnamon Sticks
*Slice orange and place in a medium saucepan with cranberries, pine, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and 2 cups of water
*Simmer mixture and turn heat to low. Your house will then smell amazing!
Cinco De Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is a fun excuse for a party! We love Mexican food and love to entertain so it is a win-win! One of my Mom’s famous recipes that I continue to make is her mango salsa! It is such a great addition to any party! So easy to make and the color that it adds to a party table is fabulous!
I am all about great fresh ingredients with lots of color and that is why I love making a coleslaw! This recipe is a kicked up version with jalapenos and is great served with pulled pork, brisket, or anything bbq!
Your Cinco de Mayo party is not complete without Tequila so what is better than pairing it with dessert! These Margarita Cheesecake Bites are delicious and the perfect addition to any summer party!
Mango Salsa Recipe
1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1 Small Red Onion
1 Small Bunch of Cilantro
Juice of 1 Lime
Pinch of Salt
1.) Chop mangos, red pepper, green pepper, jalapenos, red onion, and cilantro
2.) Mix all together in a medium bowl
3.) Juice the lime over the salsa mixture and add salt
4.) Mix and Enjoy
**You can eat right away but I always refrigerate for at least an hour before serving
Jalapeno Lime Coleslaw
Margarita Cheesecake Bites
Let’s talk about running! Most people I think have a love or hate relationship with running. Take me and Nick for example, I love running and he hates it. For me running is my “me time.” I love just getting lost in my thoughts and let my stresses go away for a little bit.
Ever since high-school I have always loved running and it has been one of my exercises of choices to stay in shape. This upcoming May I will be running in my 5th half marathon, which I am really excited about. This picture is from last year’s half marathon which was the race I was most proud to accomplish.
It was not my fastest race but it was the first race after having the boys. Running this race gave me a great sense of accomplishment because it was so exciting to see the boys cheering me on and the look on their faces when they found me after the race that they were proud and excited for me! I want to show my boys that you can do anything you set your mind to and no matter what you can do it!
For this race I ran my long runs on the weekends when Nick was able to be home with the boys and made sure to run short runs during the week even if it meant pushing the boys in the stroller on the trail! I was determined to stick to my training schedule!
My love for Barre3
I also attribute the ease of last year’s race and my strong legs to Barre3. I have been going to Barre3 at least 4 times a week for almost 2 years. My legs along with my arms are the strongest they have been in years. If you are not familiar with Barre3 classes they are a full body workout that incorporates ballet and pilates moves along with weights for some cardio that gives you a total body workout. I am serious when I say my legs are so strong and I believe my half marathon last year was such a breeze due to Barre3.
I remember my first half marathon in 2011 and I was probably 30 pounds lighter than I am now but I could barely finish the race and was in so much pain. All because I didn’t train that well.
It really goes to show that with setting your mind to a goal and executing it, you can do it! So last year I ran the race the heaviest I have ever been (thanks to pregnancies, I wouldn’t change it though) but the race felt so good and was a breeze to finish all because I trained and wanted to show my boys that you can do anything you set your mind to!
So whether you have never put on a pair of running shoes or are training for your first marathon you can do it!
- Always train wearing the shoes you are going to wear on race day! You want to make sure that you break in your shoes and that they are comfortable. The last thing you want on race day is a blister or broken ankle!
- Know what outfit you are going to wear on race day too! I have certain leggings that I can only wear running because they stay in place as I run. Plus you don’t want any chaffing from uncomfortable activewear. Since I have discovered leggings with side pockets I will only wear those when I run because my phone fits in perfectly, leaving me hands free!
- Create your playlist beforehand. I have a “running” playlist on my phone with all of my favorite rap and fast country songs. When I run to this playlist I get lost in my songs and forget that I have 8 more miles to go. Plus the songs keep me motivated and want to run faster!
- Run hills during your training runs. It will make the actual race a breeze. I always incorporate training on bigger hills than I will actually see on race day because when you train harder the race course will feel so much easier.
- Running on a treadmill is so much different from pavement. If you train on the treadmill that is great but make sure to incorporate some outside runs on pavement. It is a little harder on your joints and I run at a slower pace outside than I do on the treadmill.
Upcoming Races in the Burgh
I am sure most of you are experiencing the same bitter cold and snow we have had in Pittsburgh. The cabin fever has also already set in with my boys! So I wanted to share with you some of my favorite things that get me through these cold winter months.
We love comfort foods in the winter and one of our go to meals every week is soup. Here is one of our favorite recipes.
Chicken Meatball & Orzo Soup
1 lb. Ground Chicken
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1 TBSP. Garlic
1 TBSP. Italian Herb Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
6 cups Chicken Broth
1 cup Orzo Pasta
1-2 Cups Chopped Spinach
1.) Mix Ground Chicken, Parmesan Cheese, Italian Bread Crumbs, Egg, Garlic, Italian Herb Seasoning, and Salt & Pepper in bowl. Once combined roll mixture into meatballs (mine made about 40) (I used a small cookie scoop so all the meatballs were the same size) Then set aside
2.) Dice Onion and saute with Olive Oil over medium heat in large pot. Once cooked add in Chicken Broth and bring to a simmer
3.) Once broth is at a simmer add in Meatballs and Orzo (cook about 10 minutes)
4.) Chop Spinach
5.) Once Meatballs and Orzo are cooked add spinach and cook for 2 minutes
6.) Serve and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese
Last weekend Nick and I had tortillas, jalapeno’s, and some chicken we needed to use up so we came up with these chicken enchiladas which were amazing and we even made them again a few days later because we loved them so much. They definitely are not the healthiest but oh-so-yummy!
1 lb. Chicken Breasts (You can use ground chicken or even cooked Rotisserie Chicken too)
Salt & Pepper
1 TBSP. Cumin
1 TBSP. Chili Powder
Flour or Corn Tortilla’s
Green Enchilada Sauce
Cotija Mexican Cheese
1.) Dice Chicken, Onion, and Jalapeno’s (leave seeds in if you want extra spice!) and cook in skillet over medium heat. Add in Cumin, Chili Powder, and Salt & Pepper
2.) Spread a thin layer of Green Enchilada Sauce on the bottom of your baking dish
3.) Lay out your Tortilla’s and place Chicken mixture in each tortilla and sprinkle each with Cotija Cheese (make as many as you would like)
4.) Roll each Enchilada and place seam side down in baking dish. Spread remaining Green Enchilada Sauce on top of each Enchilada and then top with Queso and sprinkle Cotija Cheese
5.) Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly
My skin gets so dry in the winter especially my hands. They get dry and cracked so I have to keep my skin hydrated everyday. For my hands & body I love this Shea Butter Body Cream because it is thick like whipped butter & contains shea butter & vitamin E which leaves my skin feeling deeply conditioned.
I swear by Climate Control which is essentially a drink of water for your face and hydration in the purest form. (Can’t get any better than that, right?!) Not only does in hydrate your skin but it helps to bring new skin cells to the surface to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and keep your skin glowing. Plus it has anti-aging properties to keep your skin looking youthful!
I am obsessed with lip products (I am talking I have lip products in every room of the house, car, purse, you name it) and in the winter need something extra moisturizing so that is why I love this Moisturizing Lip Balm. I love that it contains natural ingredients (like all of my other beauty favs!) including coconut oil and cocoa butter which help to soften the skin and protect your lips from any environmental influences.
Just because it is winter doesn’t mean you have to give up a sun kissed glow. I have tried many self tanners and they all left me streaky but I finally found one that doesn’t! I am loving this Self-Tanning Bronzing Coconut Milk. You just spray and gently rub it in and it will give you a glow for days!
Warm and Cozy Must Haves
On these blistering cold days I just love to stay warm and cozy at home with my boys. So these are some things that are keeping me cozy this winter.
This sweatshirt is so soft plus I love the saying! I also love these slippers because even when I am all cozy at home I need a little sparkle! I also pretty much live in these velour pants on those rare days when we have nowhere to go. (Best part is they are on clearance now too!!) Also a hot cup of coffee gets me through the day but I love it even more on cold days. So a great mug is a must have and I just picked up this Valentines mug!
I hope some of my favorite winter must haves will help get you through these cold days too! Stay warm and remember spring will be here before we know it!