We’re Going On An Adventure! – New Zealand Edition

To wrap up our great 2018 year of adventure, we decided to make the trek to Middle Earth aka New Zealand! While I’ve made the trip a few times as a singleton, this was my first trip this big with the family. (John thought the travel to S. Korea was long…HA!). I’ve covered the basics of traveling with kids in other posts, but this trip was epic. The heroes of the day(s) were the kindles loaded with all episodes of Puppy Dog Pals, several movies and games (thanks John!) and headphones for the kids. I’ve realized that my sanity was all-to-closely linked to the happiness of my kids. I had two books with me and got through exactly 5 pages during the combined 50+ hours of travel to Auckland and back. When the kids were entertained, I slipped into some sort of zen state and blankly stared at strangers. Lol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My parents met us at the airport and what a relief it was to pass the kids off to someone else. Ha. During our two weeks, we spent about a week in Auckland. There is SO much to do and see within an hour or so around the capital.

 

One Tree Hill:

 

MJ Savage Memorial Park:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission Bay:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waitakere Ranges National Park:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piha Beach (on basically every episode of best beaches in the world)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferry to the city center:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sky Tower:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John and I got away and visited Queenstown for a few days. We left the kids with my parents and headed to the adventure capital of the world! We didn’t bungee jump (invented here!) but we did do some awesome things. I would have never guessed that I would have done one of them:

One of the best places we ate was Fergberger. It was our first stop off the shuttle from the airport. It had a line around the block and we soon found out why. Two things of note here: 1) Coke Zero is EVERYWHERE in NZ (score!!) and 2) We sat where Ed Sheeran sat! (ahhhh!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We rode the Shotover Jet and I would HIGHLY recommend it. We had a fun driver and whipped among the canyons and did 360s in the open water. Whatever you do, don’t be fooled by the other companies offering similar experiences. Shotover

Jet has the rights to this part of the whitewater and in my opinion has the best views and experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown:

Not only were the views so crazy (the Remarkables aren’t called remarkable for nothin’) but the ice cream and street performers kept us entertained. (John: “Jess the Mess”- need I say more? LOL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In some parts of the city, I felt transported back to merry old England:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Hayes Loop Track:

 

Ok, I was lead to believe by my better half that this “walk” was going to be an easy “beginner” hike. I knew I had been duped when we “started” the hike with a walk up a hill so steep my feet were at a 25 degree angle to my leg (think: Lombard Street in San Francisco). We finally make it to the start of the hike and see people with walking stick and Camelbacks on…I had tennis shoes on and one water bottle. Lol. The sign also mentioned that this is an intermediate to advanced hike. (JOHN!!!) Once we made it to the forest area, the temperature was awesome and we wound around the mountain taking breaks to enjoy the scenery (and catch my breath). Several of the hikers were encouraging as we made our way to the summit, but others were complaining that the hike down was even harder. I had some choice words for those people – luckily they thought I was joking. Anyway, once we made it to the top, the view was INSANE and I had a major feeling of accomplishment. Maybe there is some outdoorsy person in me hoping to come out. Ha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown Skyline Gondola:

I guess by now you know that I’m afraid of heights. This gondola ride took us to the top of the sister mountain that we just climbed. Tons of mountain bikers hooked their bikes to the gondola and flew down the mountain. I was just freaking out as we flew up the mountain in the gondola.

Once we got to the top, we took the luge ride about midway down the mountain (3 times, ha). John and I raced down and got some serious air. Major MUST DO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matamata:

One of the bucket list items for John was Hobbiton, and it didn’t disappoint. This private farm still hosts the set from the Lord of the Rings Series and Hobbiton. We were transported to the Shire and couldn’t get enough! There were some HARD CORE Hobbit fans there (this one guy had “the ring” and took pictures with it at every Hobbit door). We had an awesome guide and got the scoop on behind the scenes info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest:

I was so low-key excited to hang where the Royals (Prince Harry and Megan Markle) were visiting a couple of months ago!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davenport:

NZ has some of the most awesome playgrounds and I think my parents located ALL of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t have been luckier with the kids on the long flight. If you get the chance, make sure and reserve the “sky couch”. The cushions pop up and create a flat couch-like area. A cushiony mat is put on top of the seats, big pillows and fluffy blankets are provided. It helped these babies get a good 8 hours each way. PTL!!

All-in-all this was a trip of a lifetime and it was so special that I could share it with my family. NZ is so beautiful and would totally recommend that everyone visit!!

Leave a comment

The People You See in the Airport and Other Entertaining Ways to Pass Time

At some time or another, we have waited at the airport, subway, for a bus or even just in the Starbucks or school pick up line. I think we can all agree that WAITING SUCKS! What is the first thing we do when we are presented with a wait (besides uttering four or five choice words)?? Pick up our phones, right?! We start scrolling though social media like a boss (you are MINE Snapchat filters!).  However, sometimes we are in areas with little to no (free) access to the internet – cue people-watching! During my last few kid-less flights (because we all know this isn’t happening when you are wrangling tiny people) I noticed a trend in the groups of people I saw in the airport. They might look a little different, but they all follow these general categories –

People You See in the Airport:
  1. Judgy old people – This is the couple or group of friends that finds something wrong with everyone around them: “those people are too loud”, “why so much luggage”, “that muffin top isn’t going to stay in those jeans for long”, “there are seats all around here [*there actually aren’t], why is this boy sitting right next to me”. Of course they are loud and everyone can hear them. Depending on your mood (and how close you are sitting to them) these people are some of the most entertaining ones.😜
  2. College/Grad students – They are always talking about how busy they are (HA! Get back to me in 10 years), what exams are studying for and what paper they have just written. They love talking about their coffee addiction and you’ll hear: “UUGGGHHH, I need a double espresso mocha latte…I haven’t had a coffee in hours”.☕
  3. Emo high schooler – This kid is wearing all black, has hair in their face and is scribbling in their journal or drawing some dark picture. 🧛‍♀️ 🧛‍♂️
  4. People with headphones – They like to pretend that headphones makes them or everyone else invisible, leaving them with no situational awareness. Someone needs you to move your giant bag so they can wheel grandma through the aisle? “Sorry, I neither see nor hear you.” (I have to admit that I am a recovering earbud wearer – they are basically an accessory in D.C.) 🎧
  5. Exhausted business travelers – These people get really irritated (somewhat like my toddler)  when anything delays their mission of getting home (*raises hand*).😴
  6. Over-packers – Its one thing to over-pack your checked luggage (it only harms your back and your wallet), but it is quite another to over-pack your carry on! There is always that girl – and I say girl because it’s 9 times out of 10 a girl – who has so much junk stuffed in her carry on and personal item, plus the 4 to 5 things she is holding, that you are praying that you don’t sit next to her on the plane, because you know that shiz is not going to fit under her seat and will most definitely be spilling into your personal space.👜 💼
  7. Food on the plane – Now I know that it is a necessity sometimes and anyone wearing a military uniform gets a pass on this one, but the people that bring STINKY FOOD on the plane…shame on you, just shame.🤢
  8. Overly friendly mid westerners – Ok, I know what you are thinking, don’t you live around the friendliest people ever? Yes, but while I appreciate courtesy and a friendly smile, I’m usually not looking to make a life long friend and bare my soul to the person sitting next to me on the plane. Sometimes people are interested in convo, sometimes they aren’t – check the body language, people.😂
  9. Over/Under dressed – Just recently I was on a flight with a guy in a full (and I mean full) Gucci get-up. It wasn’t gaudy and believe you me, I took note and appreciated e.v.e.r.y. piece. There are also always those people in their PJs. It’s a jungle out there.😎
  10. Family with kids – God have mercy on your souls. I know your pain but, have also already inserted my earplugs/headphones.🙏

Other Ways to Pass Time:
  1. Zulily – Do you all know about this site?? I think most people think babies when they think Zulily – but not so! You can get everything from Egyptian Cotton Sheets to Swimsuits (for the whole family to yoga mats and kitchen appliances.
  2. Shop It To Me – If you love bargain shopping but hate surfing the web 24/7, Shop It To Me does the work! It is a completely free, daily shopping update for the clothing, shoes and accessories you love. You pick your size and favorite brands, and Shop It To Me searches hundreds of online stores  to find your favorite items on sale in your size.
  3. Poshmark – This is an easy way to buy and sell your fashions! There are over two million sellers and millions of shoppers. I have sold and found tons of great items on this site. Use the code: LAUR_SAV to get $5 when you sign up!
  4. Virtual Library – I have recently rediscovered the awesomeness of my local library! There are tons of books that you can “check out” virtually and read them on your kindle/iPad/phone. If you live in Ohio, check www.clevenet.org. It has one of the most expansive virtual libraries.
  5. Ebates – The Ebates Cash Back Button gives you Cash Back while you shop! It even applies coupons automatically at checkout so you’ll always get the best deals. I was really skeptical of this at first. How does this work? Is there some type of bot that follows my purchases? What are they getting out of this? Well, I have to say, I have regularly been receiving checks since signing up! Sign up with my referral code and you will get $10 right off the bat: Ebates.
  6. Ted Talks – Want to learn about your sleeping disorder? Need some parenting advice? Want to know what it’s like to go undercover in North Korea? Plus tons of other interesting videos? Check out Ted Talks. They are some of the most interesting and inspiring videos of varying lengths.

What are your favorite ways to pass time??

Have a great vacation and here’s to all those entertaining co-travelers!🍹

Lauren

Leave a comment

Making Kimbap with my Mom

Kimbap (or Gimbap) is one of my favorite Korean eats and in honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to show you how one of the best (my MOM!!) makes it from scratch.

Throwback to one of my bridal showers. (circa 2008)

For those of you unfamiliar with kimbap, it is basically the Korean version of sushi (but fresher and less raw fish). This dish is a healthy, super easy one to pack and take as a snack or eat at home (after your kids have gone to bed, because seriously, you aren’t going to want to share.) BEWARE – after you make this once, your family will be begging for it day after day. 😂

Ingredients:

  • Korean Seaweed (aka Kim or Gim) – Make sure you get the full sheets and not the snack size (at least 5 sheets)
  • Rice – Get the short grained variety for this recipe (2 cups, uncooked)
  • Eggs (2 or 3)
  • Carrot (1 large or 2 small)
  • Spinach (1 bag of baby spinach or 2 small bundles of fresh spinach)
  • Garlic Cloves (3 whole or 3 teaspoons of the pre-minced kind)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Soy Sauce (2 tablespoons)
  • White Sugar (1 to 1.5 tablespoons – to taste)
  • Sesame Oil (2 to 2.5 tablespoons – to taste)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Canned Tuna (optional) (1 can)
  • Skirt steak or tenderloin (optional) (.5 pound)
  • Yellow pickled radish (optional) (1 radish or 5 small strips)
  • Cucumber (optional) (1 large or 3 small)

Ok, this seems like a lot, but if you are like me, you will double it and have enough for a couple of days.

Directions:

  • Cook the rice (do yourself a favor and get a rice cooker if you don’t have one already).  A rule of thumb I learned from my mom is that you should rinse the rice at least two times to get it clean. After that, fill the pot to about an inch of water over the rice line.
  • Transfer the cooked rice to a mixing bowl and add .5 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil with a rice scoop or a wooden spoon.
  • You are ready to prepare your veggies!
    • Dice the carrots into matchstick sized pieces and saute them with a drop of vegetable oil and pinch of salt. (TIP: buy the precut carrots and save yourself a few minutes!)
    • Spinach (recipe here!)
  • Crack Eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat. Spray or drizzle some vegetable oil in the pan (just enough to lightly coat the bottom) and add the eggs. Cook the egg on low and flip with a spatula before it gets too brown.
  • The rest is optional:
    • Steaks – Trim the fat from the skirt steaks and slice into ¼ inch wide, 3 to 5 inch strips. Put the strips into a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon of pre-minced), ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper,1 tablespoon white sugar, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil. (Let marinate while you are prepping the other ingredients.)
    • Tuna – Brace yourself…open the can and drain (whew!) – Many times I opt for this instead of the steak.
    • Yellow pickled radish or Danmuji – cut into thin strips.
    • Cucumber – cut into thin strips or dice like the carrots.

TIP: If you have all of these ingredients ready before you attempt to assemble, it will make your life so much easier!

READY to ROLL:

  • Place a sheet of kim (seaweed) on a bamboo mat (like this one) or just on a cutting board if you don’t have a bamboo mat.

  • Add a layer of rice on the kim (seaweed) on about half of the sheet.
  • Add the carrots, a few egg strips, and spinach in the center of the rice (in addition to tuna or steak)

  • Here’s the tricky part, use both hands to hold the filling and start rolling the kim. Check out the master at work:

  • Then, simply cut the roll into ¼ inch pieces.

If you really want to send this over the edge, dip the pieces in soy sauce or as I like to do, pour a few drops on each piece as you devour them! Ha.

Enjoy!

XOXO,

Lauren

Leave a comment

V-Day Gift Guide: Super Unique Gifts You Can’t Miss!

Who doesn’t like getting a gift? I realize that there are other “love languages” out there, but let’s be real, no one is going to to turn down a present picked just for them!!  If you are looking for some unique options that will up your gift game from chocolate and flowers for your parents, sibling, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, and friends, keep reading!

Capitol Market

We stopped by this market on our way back from Aerial Yoga for some fruit and found a huge selection of tasty treats and drinks! There is something for everyone here. You will find everything from delicious candy, wine, coffee to cheese, meats and fruit. There is something for everyone here!

 

 

Birchbox Subscription

While this isn’t a new idea, Birchbox had evolved with the times and have started curating more personalized boxes of makeup, skincare, nail care, and fragrance options. I absolutely LOVED receiving these boxes each month with new beauty products to try. These start at just $10/month and now have them for the GQ men in your life. 😉

 

UE Wonderboom

This little waterproof, super portable, bluetooth speaker will change your life. The sound quality is awesome. This is a must-have for anyone with kids.  You can easily carry this speaker from room to room for dance parties and sound machine noises. It is also especially good for traveling.

 

Packing Cubes

For your organized friends (or ones that need some organization in their lives), these packing cubes are AWESOME! They are totally worth the less than $25 price tag. I used these when packing my kids for Disney and it was super helpful.  They come in several different colors, which makes it easy to identify whose clothes are in the suitcase!

 

Mousepad

While this might not be the most romantic gift you’ve ever given, I can say that this is one of the best mousepads I’ve ever used! My husband, who spends the majority of his day at the computer, recommended this to me and I haven’t turned back. It is super responsive and under $10! Your techie friends/family will thank you!

 

Silicone Ring

In addition to our Acro Yoga and Aerial Yoga adventures that you’ve seen, these rings would definitely be great for weight training or crossfit workouts. I got my husband one and he says it is super comfortable and would totally recommend it. These are less than $25!

I hope these unique gift ideas will be a great paring with the fun/romantic/crazy night you have planned with your boo or gal-pals!

XOXO,

Lauren

P.S. Make sure to check out the Sushi Bar at Capitol Market – they have some of my favorite grab-n-go treats (even my kids approve!)

Leave a comment

Some of My Favorite Christmas Sweets and Treats for Every Occasion!

For the Big Guy in the Red Suit:

If you have been watching the Food Network over the past couple of weeks, you have seen a million different recipes to make a party special/get into the holiday spirit/surprise Santa (does anyone really think Santa has time to sit down and enjoy a raspberry galette while delivering presents to all the children around the whole world in one night??). If you want something a bit different than cookies, but will still travel well and satisfy Old St. Nick, try Christmas Crack!

Photo Cred: Gal on a Mission

My Aunt Nancy introduced us to this delicious treat a couple of years ago and I was hooked at first bite! It is a great treat to keep around the house to munch on or spread the holiday spirit to your neighbors. (Shock! Horror! I may actually get to know a neighbor.)

 

For Your Child’s Class:

We all want to be that parent that brings the tasty, yet somewhat healthy treat that brings just the right amount of Christmas cheer to the classroom.  *Insert* Fruit Kabobs and Santa Hat Brownies!

Photo Cred: Daisy’s World

Both of these treats were easy to put together (tip for the santa hat brownies: buy the mini brownie bites, add a strawberry, put some icing in a sandwich bag, snip the corner and use it as a piping bag, make a circle of icing around the strawberry and a dot on top). It seemed like most of the kids popped off the strawberry, ate it and threw away the rest. Ha.

 

For the Dips and Desserts Party:

Some of my best holiday memories are making the next dessert – Pecan Tassies!

Photo Cred: Hi Cookery

These mini pecan pies are SOOOO tasty and taste better and better throughout the week. I can’t remember a Christmas without them.

As I started looking through family recipes (and had some major #fails as I tried recreating them), I think what makes them so special are the memories of flour all over the kitchen, feeling exhausted after adding the first ingredients and watching my mom finish the rest (he he), back and forth arguments with my brother about what dessert/how to make it/who would eat the most, my dad eating the lion’s portion of the sweet treats, and everyone passing out on the couch with a plate of tasty cookies/brownies/cake and watching Christmas movies or playing games.

This makes me think about my family of four and the traditions we will create. My son is super into baking right now (which I LOVE) and I am soaking up every minute of it. We have made enough cakes/cookies/muffins to last the whole year!

What are your favorite family traditions and tasty recipes?? Do you have something special that you wouldn’t miss this holiday season?

Here’s to the next few weeks of sweets and treats!

XOXO,

Lauren

Leave a comment

Disney Cruising During Hurricane Season

If you are anything like me, you have been seeing your friends/family/colleagues/ people-you-don’t know-why-you-are-still-friends-on-FB-with/random strangers, constantly post pics of their Magical Vacations to Disney World, Disneyland, and on Disney Cruises! I will admit, I am one of the culprits. 

I love the memories I have at Disney with my parents and grandparents, and want to share that with MY kids! We took my son to Disney World at two (still free and no dining plan required). With the help of a Disney Vacation Planner (look up Michelle Farrell!) and lots of discussions with fellow Disney-loving friends/veterans, we had a super stress-free and completely fun vacation, (Side note: I was seven month preggo and the Zika virus was alive and well, so that’s saying something!).

This year, we decided on a new type of vacation – a Disney Cruise! If you haven’t heard how awesome a Disney Cruise is, you may be living under a rock. But, good news, I’m here to tell you all about it! While there are tons of reviews of Disney Cruises, you may not have read one about cruising during HURRICANE SEASON!! (What were we thinking?!).

We kept our eye out for changes to our cruise itinerary or complete reroutes, but we got lucky and got to sail as planned. We liked arriving in Florida a couple of days early, in case of flight delays or last minute cruise changes. Disney cast members are true professionals – they aren’t going to chance it or take you anywhere near harm’s way. So, if you decide to cruise during hurricane season, here are 8 of my observations: 

1. Scop patches and Dramamine!!

This was like gold for my hubs and other members of our group! The first night we were on the ocean, Hurricane Maria had just passed by Florida, so it was a little lot rocky, starting at dinner. Luckily, we were in the Animator’s Palate restaurant that night and the “Turtle Talk” with Crush was super entertaining and hilarious.  I won’t ruin the surprise, but let’s just say it was a conversation. This kept us distracted from the swaying of the boat. We were bouncing off the walls getting back to our room, and that’s where the $%&# hit the fan.  At least two members of our group were down for the count. I generally don’t have motion sickness, but I even popped a Dramamine, preventatively. Once those Scop patches kicked in, everyone was back on their feet the next morning.

2. Dance Parties!

There are a ton of these and the next one is better than the last. I think one of the most underrated things on the ship is the live music! The performers on our ship were awesome. Occasionally, they would provide the music for the dance parties and really played off the crowd. The Disney characters  make appearances and dance with the kids; which for my 3 year old, was LIFE! A huge plus about these dance parties – you don’t feel the sway of the boat!

3. Aquaduck

Do not miss the most fun ride on the Disney Dream. The hubs and I stole a couple of hours away and had a blast on the water coaster that goes around the top of the boat. Parts of the ride are in a clear tube, so you can see the ocean. If we didn’t have to wait 45 minutes to ride, we would have ridden it over and over. It’s a popular attraction, but down times are early morning and late evening.

4. Character Meet and Greets

There are 1000 of these!  While the lines are long, the Cruise Navigation app gives you times and locations of these character meet and greets. My kids LOVED the characters and the variety was really great. They are all over the ship and are in different costumes throughout the cruise.

5. Rotational Dining

While I was skeptical about this at first, this proved to be a great change of scenery for the kids especially. The Animator’s Palate had very kid-friendly decor and as I mentioned above, Turtle Talk with Crush.  I don’t know if you can requests certain seats at dinner, but if so try to get a seat by the screen. The Enchanted Garden was so pretty and we had a fabulous view of the ocean and sunsets. Royal Palace had spectacular food (they all did really). Besides the rotational dinner restaurants, we had wonderful experiences at the lunch buffet, Cabanas (shrimp galore!) and our 3-year-old loved Flo’s Cafe (of course, with the Cars theme). Also, anti-bacterial wipes were handed out before every meal. It made my germaphobe self so happy.

6. Customer Service

Everyone knows that Disney service is another level, but the Disney Cruise customer service is beyond! We had the same servers each evening and they had the kids’ drinks ready when we got there. They cut up the kids’ meals and helped keep them clean. It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E. They were friendly and even provided the adults some entertainment by way of riddles and puzzles. The guy whom cleaned our stateroom (who we called “our friend” because his name was super long and hard to pronounce and I forgot it after the first day…oops) was so great. He greeted the kids each time he saw them and they ran to him and said “hi, my friend”! He was a great guy and we felt like we we were getting special treatment. He even made baby girl’s bed and put her Mickey and Minnie on the pillow, every night.

7. Staterooms 

The family staterooms are so spacious! The bed was super comfy and raised, so you could store luggage underneath. The sitting area includes a couch that turns into a single bed. There was plenty of room for a pack ‘n play beside the bed (with enough space between, so the kids didn’t mess with each other). A heavy curtain separates the sitting room and the bedroom, which keeps out the light when the parents want to stay up and watch TV. 🙂 I was nervous that the kids were on the side of the curtain by the door to the balcony. However, there is a lock at the top of the balcony sliding door; Disney thinks of everything. Two closets and tons of drawers, in addition to the two bathrooms, made it so easy for a family to “live” in a stateroom. The kids were rocked to sleep by the sway of the boat the first night! Also, when the boat is rocking, it is nice to get some air – splurge for the balcony. 

8. Take advantage of the kids clubs

We made the mistake of not dropping off our kids in kids clubs. The 3-year-old loved them when we visited the open house, but silly us, we felt guilty for leaving him, since we were on a “family vaca”. Seriously though, anyone young or old would love being dropped off there. The Disney counselors are fun, on steroids. I think I would have been more comfortable leaving him if he was a bit older (i.e. school-aged), but he definitely would have had some major fun in the clubs. (Check out the awesome hand-washing stations!) The smart parents took a few hours a day to themselves and seemed to be more mentally zen than others. 🤣

Honorable Mention: Castaway Cay – Include this island on one of your cruises.  It is Disney’s private island and offers all of the Disney amenities.

I hope this gives you some good perspective on Disney Cruising during hurricane season.  All-in-all, we loved our Disney Cruise and would definitely recommend it to anyone (especially those of you with school-aged kids)!! If you have any Disney cruising tips or things you loved, we’d love to hear them in the comments below.

 

XOXO,

Lauren

1 Comment

That Time We Almost Dined and Dashed

We had the funniest experience today and have to tell you about it…

It was a typical Monday: I dragged myself out of bed, the kids barely got to school on time, I had a meeting with the boss and planned the rest of the week.  I started feeling hungry, so I texted Jill about lunch. She is in the midst of some serious life moments (new house!!) and informed me that she forgot her wallet, lipstick and powder, so she was going to go home at lunch to get it.  I convinced her that I would spot her some dough and that  we needed to get some Chinese food. She agreed.

 

 

We both get to the restaurant late (of course).  It was surprisingly busy but we got a table and had a delish lunch! We caught up and laughed the whole time. We got our bill and I started fishing around my purse for my wallet. I have a giant bag, so I wasn’t worried at first, then panic started setting in. I DIDN’T HAVE MY WALLET!

So there we were, two moms, two bills, and no wallets. We started digging in our purses and found that we both had our checkbooks! Did they take checks? NOPE! At this point Jill was about to SOS her hubby to bail us out.

More digging… Finally, I found an envelope full of $1’s that I was saving for tips for our upcoming Disney Cruise. I started counting it out and O.M.G. we had enough to cover the bill and leave a $2 tip!

 

 

I was TOTALLY embarrassed to leave all these $1’s. What is this waiter going to think we do for a living?!? Jill tried to explain the situation to the waiter, but we just died laughing.  She then told him to “keep the change” (all $2 of it…ha).

You can’t make this stuff up. This is real life you guys. While dining and dashing crossed our minds, we love that restaurant too much and if we did, would never be able to show our faces again.

Here’s hoping for a less eventful Tuesday!

XOXO,

Lauren

2 Comments

Easy Peasy Strawberry Pie Recipe; Perfect For The Fourth Of July

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, my favorite holiday of the year!  To me, the Fourth of July is the height of summer; I look forward to it all year long.  It means sunshine, pool time, family gatherings, lots of laughs, friends, outside play, fireworks, watermelon and strawberry pie – a family tradition.  As I was making strawberry pie today, I decided that it was only fair that I share my easy peasy DELICIOUS recipe with my Glitter Jungle family.  My momma and I have been making this recipe together since I was a kid and it’s always a big hit.  Here’s what you’ll need:

 

Ingredients:

  1.  1 Large container of strawberries
  2. 1 Pouch/Cup of strawberry glaze
  3. 1 Graham Cracker pie crust
  4. 1/3 Cup of sugar

 

First you’ll want to chop up your strawberries.  We cut ours into thin slices, rather than big chunks.

 

Isn’t my tiny sous chef adorbs?!? (All the heart eyes, y’all!)

 

After you’ve chopped up all of your strawberries into a large bowl, then you’ll add in one package of strawberry glaze and 1/3 cup of sugar.  (I know…sounds like a lot, right?!  But we’re from the south and we like things sweet.  It’s ok to splurge every now and then!  Just do a few extra burpees tonight.)

 

Stir thoroughly until all of the sugar and glaze is mixed in.  Then you’ll pour your strawberry pie filling into your graham cracker pie crust.

 

Voila!  Your pie is complete.  Now you’ll want to cover the pie and put it in the fridge for a few hours to chill and firm (I suggest at least 2-3 hours ahead of meal time.  The longer it sets, the better.)

 

Other Serving Options:

Although I enjoy the pie just as it is, we have family members who love to add cool whip,  vanilla ice cream and even Hershey’s spread as a topping.  I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any of these toppings!

 

Happy Snacking, y’all!   And, most importantly, Happy Fourth of July to our great nation.

XOXO

Jill

 

(Affiliate Products Included.)

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Healthy Food Your Family Will Actually Eat – Korean Style Spinach

Spinach.  What a polarizing little vegetable. For those of you who love it, great! For those of you who add a little to your salad to be healthy, I hear ya.  In either case, I am about to change your life with a family recipe.

Here is a disclaimer: I’m not a great cook.  I am more of a baker.  I like the precise measurements and the predictability of baking.  However, when I got up the courage to attempt some of my favorite Korean recipes (with frequent Face Time calls with my mom), I couldn’t believe how easy they are! This spinach recipe is pretty easy and SO tasty that it has won over some of the most picky eaters I know. Delicious, healthy food with little effort? Um, check yes!

Here’s how to make it!

Prep time: 10 mins (or less) / Cook time: 10 minutes / Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of baby spinach (or 2 small bundles of fresh spinach)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of minced garlic (or 1 to 2 clove(s) of garlic, finely chopped)
  • 1 bundle of green onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sesame seed
  • 1 pinch of sugar

Tip: If your spinach is looking too “wet” start adding less of each ingredient.  Taste it as you go (I hate doing this, but it’s the only way).

First, bring water to a boil.

 

 

Then, pour the spinach into the water.

 

 

Make sure and submerge all of the spinach and stir (bring the bottom to the top and vice versa). This should take about 30 seconds.  Immediately after, strain the spinach and run cold water over it, while gently tossing.

 

 

After, squeeze all of the liquid out of the spinach. This will take a minute or so, but getting as much excess water out as possible will make everything taste better.

 

 

Next, add the soy sauce, garlic, green onions, sesame oil, sesame seed, and sugar.

Don’t let the tablespoon fool ya, I only used half of it.

 

The purist method calls for actual garlic cloves. Who has time for that?? This minced garlic is a super easy substitute.

 

I used all of this, however, feel free to add as little or as much as you want.

 

It’s best to slice these pretty small (I could have gone even smaller…)

 

Sesame Oil gives me LIFE! You can find this in the “asian” section of any grocery store.  It generally comes in a much smaller bottle. (I inherited this industrial size from my mom.)

 

Toasting the sesame seed gives it a little extra oomph! However, you can use it without toasting.

Mix with YOUR HANDS! Apparently, if you don’t do this is will not be that awesome…something about 손맛, “son-mat” (Google it sometime).

 

 

Add this mixture to a plate, garnish with a little more sesame seed, refrigerate for about 30 mins (or eat it right away because it will smell so good that you can’t wait).

 

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

XOXO,

Lauren

2 Comments

Sneak Peak Into Our Wild Easter Weekend

Here’s a sneak peak into our lives this Easter weekend.  We enjoyed delicious food, amazing family time, soccer games, tons of outdoor play and countless Easter egg hunts.  I mean, how many times can a person hide eggs??  And whose bright idea was it to give toddlers easy access to several open containers of food coloring?!  Hello!  Hot mess express!  (Lifehack – Do this outside! Thank you moms with older kids for the tip.) There were lots of laughs, a busted lip, and some tears, but we loved spending every minute with the ones dearest to us.  Besides Easter baskets and cute clothes, let’s not forget the reason for the season, am I right?!  We would love to hear how you spent your Easter weekend and what your favorite memory is.  Comment below!

 

XOXO,

Jill & Lauren

Leave a comment