New road trip essentials

We’re headed out in a few weeks for a road trip across three states and straight into the middle of Texas. It’s going to be very fun, but very hot, and we are staying at four different hotels. With that in mind I got a few new items to help consolidate supplies and make the trip easier. First up is a new toiletries tote:

Before I was using three different totes to hold makeup, skin care, and brushes and it was ridiculous. This holds everything together and has movable Velcro dividers. Here is a peek at the brushes and mirror…

See! Everything in one spot, so easier and quicker for me to find what I need. My second task was to consolidate our shower and bath supplies. Previously in several totes, now in one hanging bag that I can put on the robe hook in hotel bathrooms…

 

And despite all this stuff it does actually fold up completely!

The label on the front is a bit twisted, but other than that it’s a sturdy tote. Lastly, I’ve consolidated the boys’ on the road trip supplies…

They mainly watch movies and J plays his iPad, so I’m limiting the amount of “stuff” we are bringing. Shareable card games, sticker books, magnet boards, and a few coloring supplies for creativity boredom. A fidget spinner, small squishy Tsum Tsum, and squishy basketball for stuck in a booster seat boredom. Books to read at night in the hotel room and neck pillows for in the car. They each will have a back pack, but it’s for their books, 3 stuffed animals, neck pillow, and blanket. And finally here are a few extra road trip tips that I have learned for our family are…

1. Bring smart water. It has electrolytes so it helps prevent dehydration on the road, and can help settle stomachs. You can buy it cheaper at Wal-Mart.

2. Bring all the medicine you think you’ll possibly need. All of it. Going to a Walgreens at 2 a.m. in an unfamiliar city is a pain. Trying to get a prescription filled in an unfamiliar city is even worse. Believe me. We’ve done both.

3. Sturdy, not cheap, ziplock bags with a zipper that you can access quickly. You’ll thank me later.

4. Snacks, lots of them, but not goldfish with extra cheese. Or anything labeled “extra cheese”.

5. Lollipops for on the road and at events that you need to settle kids who have decided they are now starving despite eating all the snacks earlier. As evidenced below…

This was right before he insisted he was starving. After he’d had snacks. Many of them. Lollipops are your friend.

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West World

When I was growing up my Dad’s parents were always reading and watching Western themed books and movies. I can remember the line of mass market paperbacks they had on the bookcase that now sits in A’s room. I remember watching The Searchers in Graduate School for a film course and giving the DVD to my Nannie after I’d watched it, only to learn she’d already seen it. Until I started down this reading road, I never understood the context of that movie, or perceived it the way I do now. It all started a few months ago when I picked up this book….

And I was completely intrigued by the story and that parts of it were based on true events. This lead me to the book here….

This is a challenging book to read, but such a powerful insight into the West in the mid to late 1800s. After that book, I began this one…

This takes a fiction look at the beginnings of paleontology during the mid to late 1800s. I would define this as a quick read, an interesting story, but it does get a bit muddled with American Idol type phrases (“after the break!”). Each of these stories happen effectively within the same time period, and it is two fiction perspectives mixed with a nonfiction history. Happy reading!

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Oven fries

These are A’s very favorite fries right now. Oven baked with a dash of paprika, salt, and pepper they are super simple to put together and the perfect side for Sunday night burgers.

Ingredients

3-4 russet potatoes scrubbed clean and sliced into wedges

1-2 tsp paprika

Salt and pepper

Canola oil

Rosemary leaves for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Place potato wedges on non stick foil on baking sheet. Sprinkle with spices (except for rosemary), then drizzle with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes, flip wedges and then bake for another 10-15 minutes until crispy, but not burnt. Out of the oven immediately place on paper towels and sprinkle with fresh rosemary.

 

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Friday Favorites

Story time crafts! These two cousins have had fun together this week! I think their Mom’s may need a nap though.

A stuffed spinach red pepper chicken for a fancier dinner.

My binge watch show of the summer, while I work from home.

Dealing with humidity hair = every summer in the south.

Caring for my current favorite house plant.

Simple summer craft projects like a rainbow pocket and a popsicle house are on our list for rainy day crafts.

A donut party sounds like the perfect idea for a sleepover birthday party!

Preventing wrinkles when packing for trips and events.

J and I have been working through the book list his teacher gave him in his summer packet. Yoko Learns to Read is my absolute favorite so far.

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The two smallest of the small

It’s not often that the two youngest of all my sister and I’s kiddos get one on one time. With the older three boys all having camps this week, the youngest two have gotten to go swim, play in the sprinklers, eat lots of popsicles, and check out the latest Mickey and the Roadster Racers episodes. I think J has enjoyed bring the oldest for once, especially because my niece pretty much wants to do whatever he’s doing. Cousins are the best!

 

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Octopus cookie cups

After making the key lime cups, the boys have been on a dessert in a cup kick, so this past week we combined vanilla pudding, crushed Oreos, whipped cream, and sour gummy octopuses to make these tasty treats. All you do is make up a small box of vanilla pudding, divide into four cups and let set (about ten to twenty minutes). Then crush up Oreos and sprinkle on top. Then top that with some whipped cream and a gummy octopus and you’re all set!

Oh, and if you want a grown-up version add a small layer of Irish Cream between the pudding and Oreos. Super tasty and adds just a bit of a kick!

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Summer vacation essentials

Whether we are headed out on a road trip, or headed to a summer camp, or just hanging out these are some of my must have items. I opt for casual and comfort during the summer, so with a few exceptions I look for super soft tees, moisture wicking tanks, and shorts that can be pajamas or I could wear if I’m working around the house. The best thing is that most of these tops and shorts come in a wide variety of colors so you can pick a color scheme and then just mix and match everything.

1. A halter for date night, or lunch out, that can be paired with all three shorts.

2. A lightweight cotton sweater for when we’re at home or at a hotel and everyone is hot and I’m freezing.

3. My go to work-out/hiking/running errands tank.

4. Printed pajama shorts, I always pack at least two pairs of these, and they can also work as swim cover-ups, or early morning coffee/donut runs.

5. A scoop neck striped tee, that can be tucked in or worn out, or tied slightly on the side.

6. Printed scallop shorts in lightweight linen/cotton that work with all the tops.

7. My favorite v-neck tee of all time. Seriously. I have it in at least four colors, and I’ll buy more.

8. These shoes shouldn’t be as comfortable as they are for the price point, but I prefer them over my Converse.

9. My favorite flip-flop brand I’ve owned a pair of mine since college and still love them.

10. The athleta shorts that I wear to work-out, or run errands, or go to Disney or anywhere else super hot.

11. A lightweight dress that works with the sneakers or flip flops. I could wear it with wedges, but honestly that’s a lot of extra effort when the heat index is 105!

 

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Friday Favorites

We’ve been doggy sitting all week! I think that A would be perfectly content with a dog sleeping at the end of his bed always. This third week of summer has included VBS in the morning and swim lessons in the afternoon. My boys are still waking up at 6:30 a.m. so I just don’t think any amount of activity will convince them to sleep in, ha! The boys passed their swim test, so they now get to move up to the next level swim class! This was their goal for swimming, so they were all pumped! It includes swimming the length of an Olympic size pool without stopping, so it’s quite a feat! This weekend we are planning to get in some free play pool time, test out J’s new bike, and celebrate Father’s Day!

Bees are totally genius, another reason to fear them.

The perfect exhibit to take J. And then maybe a Braves game. 🙂

I’m starting a must eat dessert list for our Disney trip. The mermaid cupcake is high on that list.

Career advice…my favorite is “your path is your own.” So true!

The anime series I have on my birthday list.

Perfect hoop earrings.

Summer stripes.

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This and that

Last week was our first real week of summer at home (last week we were at the beach), and I already ran out of popsicles…

The boys also started refresher swim lessons, and my niece was the best towel holder (and so good, considering she couldn’t get in the pool)…

We did a few “avoid the summer slump” things…

And a whole bunch of reading…

And J has been doing his own hair…

I’m thinking of getting him some styling cream, but all I can think of is these neon LA look gel that we used in the eighties…

Oh and I totally want this shirt in my size…

And the boys and I made key lime pie jars

That we ate while watching baseball on TV! Summer is definitely in full swing!

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Port Orleans: French Quarter

As I was going through past Disney posts, I realized I’ve never done a review of our favorite moderate resort at Disneyworld. Two years ago, we were planning to take the boys to Disney for the first time, so I turned to a friend of mine who knows a thing or two about Disney stays (she’s the original creator of the Disney Diva site). When I was a kid we always stayed at deluxe resorts, but I wanted to try out a moderate (for cost purposes). She immediately said “Port Orleans: French Quarter, you’ll love it”. We booked it, and have stayed there another time since. It is indeed our favorite moderate resort and one of our overall favorite resorts at Disneyworld, so let me tell you why!

First, ambience. This resort never seems crowded (we’ve stayed in both June and October, which are high crowd times at Disney), it is quaint, with beautiful gardens and views. We always pick a garden view room, and both times have been located close to both the quick service dining area and the transportation area. It is tree covered, so there are cool places to sit and you can get almost all the way to the quick service area under cover (helpful for when it’s raining).

Second, rooms. Unlike every other moderate (at this time, as far as I know) on property, they have queen beds. Now moving from a double to a queen bed may not seem like a big deal, but my husband is 6 foot tall, and my boys argue when they are in close proximity to each other in a bed. This saves us a lot of headaches. In addition the rooms have always been clean, and they’ve been quiet.

Third, transportation. You can take a boat to Disney Springs, and while every where else you’ll have to take a bus, there is bus specific for French Quarter. You can’t even get that at some of the deluxe resorts. We have only had one issue waiting for a bus, and it was at park close at Epcot. The cast members at transportation ended up calling us a separate bus after we waited for almost an hour. However, I’ve had that happen while staying at both Animal Kingdom Lodge And The Boardwalk, so it can happen anywhere.

Fourth, cast members. This is true of many Disney resorts, but we’ve always had great experiences with the cast members here. The door greeter is always humorous, they took us to our car with our luggage when we left on our first trip, and gave us lots of advice for places to go on our trip that everyone got sick.

Fifth, the pool and the playground. The pool is awesome. Water slide, splash pad area, on going kid activities. There is also a shaded playground. I know this sounds basic, so often you think, I didn’t take my kids to Disney to play on a playground! Believe me, I thought that too. However, I realized that when you over plan you end up creating so much structure, and my kids need to run. And you cannot always just run around in Disney World, but you can at the playground.

On the flip side, there is no table service dining at French Quarter. It’s only quick service. The quick service does have lots of options, like shrimp and grits, and our favorite…beignets.

A few other downsides are you can’t walk into any of the parks, and sometimes the boat for Disney Springs can take awhile. Also, the French Quarter doesn’t typically participate in special offers from Disney World (Port Orleans: Riverside does), so the standard rate is typically what you’re going to get. However, I really think it’s one of the best resorts on property. The rate, to me, is reasonable and it’s going to be a closer bus ride to the parks than the value resorts. This year we’re staying at The Beach Club for A’s tenth birthday, so we’re taking a break from The French Quarter. I haven’t stayed at The Beach Club in probably twenty years, so I’m interested to compare it to our experience at French Quarter. I’ll be sure to share when we return!

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