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21 Fun & Easy Easter Treats for Kids

21 Fun & Easy Easter Treats for Kids

Are you looking for an Easter treat for a party, brunch buffet table, or your kids’ Easter basket? Do it want it to be something that’s not only delicious, but also has a bit of a fun, cute quality to it? Well, you’re in luck! 

13 Fun & Easy Easter Cookie Recipes

13 Fun & Easy Easter Cookie Recipes

Whether you’re heading to an Easter egg hunt, spring classroom party at your kids’ school, or just a casual get-together with friends or family, a plate or bin of cookies is always a nice addition. While I’m a friend to all desserts, I’m especially partial 

One Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

One Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Do you have any dinner recipes that are your “go-to” — that when you can be bothered with figuring out dinner, you think, “Oh heck, I’ll just make _________ again. I don’t even need the recipe; I’ve got it memorized.”

Well, get ready to add this one to your “go-to” repertoire.

This meal is so easy to throw together that it almost feels like cheating to call it “cooking.”

It’s also super easy to customize. Add your own favorite spices. (I often like to put cinnamon on carrots and sweet potatoes.) Switch out the vegetables, depending on your tastes, the season, and what your garden is currently producing. Zucchini, carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms are all great choices.

 

 

Best of all, the entire dish is made with just one pan. I hate getting a bunch of skillets and pans and bowls and things dirty when I cook. Anyone else? Is it just me?

Not only is it easy, but it’s healthy. The likelihood of me eating vegetables goes up considerably when they’re roasted.

Note: I would strongly consider doubling this recipe, especially if you have a large family or want to have leftovers (which you do).

Speaking of leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you reheat them, add a splash of chicken broth or water to keep the food from drying out.

 

Looking for another easy “go-to” dinner recipe?

Check out my Crockpot Spaghetti with uncooked noodles. (And hey, if you make this one in a instant-pot-acting-like-a-crockpot, it also uses only one pot!)

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced beets
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup sweet potato
  • 2 TBS plus 2 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

 

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, add carrots, beets, onion, sweet potato, 2 TBS oil, salt, and pepper and mix until well combined.

 

 

Place chicken on a plate and drizzle with 2 tsp avocado oil.

 

 

4. Mix paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder and rub it on the chicken.

 

 

5. Transfer vegetables to the prepared baking sheet, leaving room for chicken breasts.

 

 

6. Place chicken breasts in the middle of the vegetables and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

 

 

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced beets
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup sweet potato
  • 2 TBS plus 2 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

    2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

    3. In a large bowl, add carrots, beets, onion, sweet potato, 2 TBS oil, salt, and pepper and mix until well combined.

    4. Place chicken on a plate and drizzle with 2 tsp avocado oil

    5. Mix paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder and rub it on the chicken.

    6. Transfer vegetables to the prepared baking sheet, leaving room for chicken breasts.

    7. Place chicken breasts in the middle of the vegetables and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

Notes

* Olive oil can easily be substituted for the avocado oil.

* You can mix and match any kinds of vegetables you like. Zucchini, carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms are all good choices as well.

     

     

    Taco Pizza Recipe

    Taco Pizza Recipe

    Once, a few years ago, I decided to simply our life by making tacos for dinner every Tuesday. But guess what? We got really, really tired of tacos after a few months. (Well, I got really tired of it. I’m not sure the kids ever 

    23 Valentine’s Day Desserts for Kids

    23 Valentine’s Day Desserts for Kids

    Looking for a homemade sweet treat your family can enjoy this Valentine’s Day? Whether you’re making something together with your kids or you signed up to bring something to school for a classroom party, you’re sure to find something easy and delicious among these 23 

    Creamed Spinach Stuffed Chicken

    Creamed Spinach Stuffed Chicken

    In case you’re unaware, I’ll let you in on a little secret:

    Everything with cream cheese is good.

    This is true whether you’re talking about desserts, pasta sauce, pancakes … or this Creamed Spinach Stuffed Chicken.

    This stuffed chicken recipe is super easy to make and delicious. You can easily pair it with roasted veggies, rice (or cauliflower rice), or mashed potatoes to make a well-rounded and filling dinner that your family will love.

    If you’re like my husband and prefer dark meat, you can certainly substitute boneless chicken thighs for the chicken breasts.

    Below are step-by-step instructions with photos. If that’s not your thing, keep scrolling until you get to the recipe card.

     

     

    You might also like:

     

    Stuffed Chicken Ingredients

    • 2 Large boneless skinless chicken breasts (the biggest ones you can find, to make them easier to stuff!)
    • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
    • ½ tsp. Garlic powder
    • ½ tsp. Onion powder
    • ½ tsp. Paprika
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 C. Fresh baby spinach
    • 2 Tbsp. Butter
    • 3 oz. Cream cheese, ideally softened and at room temperature
    • ¼ C. Bacon pieces
    • 2 tsp. Minced garlic
    • ¼ C. grated Parmesan cheese

    Ingredients spinach chicken

     

    Instructions

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Season the chicken with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and salt and pepper to taste.

     

     

     

    Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and sear both sides of the chicken evenly.

     

     

    Remove the chicken and set aside to cool a bit.

    Add butter to the same skillet at the butter and reduce the heat to medium.

    Stir in the garlic, and saute another 30 seconds.

     

     

    Mix in the spinach, and saute until slightly wilted.

     

     

    Add in the cream cheese …

     

     

    … bacon …

     

     

    … and parmesan cheese.

     

     

    Add salt and pepper to taste, and then stir together until the cream cheese has melted.

     

     

    Use a sharp knife to slice a pocket into the side of each seared chicken breast.

     

     

    Stuff the chicken with the filling.

     

    Place the chicken into a well greased baking dish.
    Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

     

     

    Stuffed chicken

    Spinach Stuffed Chicken

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes
    Total Time: 40 minutes

    With only 5 net carbs, this creamy chicken dish qualifies as "Keto" -- but you definitely don't need to be on a Keto diet to enjoy it!

    Ingredients

    • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
    • ½ tsp. Garlic powder
    • ½ tsp. Onion powder
    • ½ tsp. Paprika
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 C. Fresh baby spinach
    • 2 Tbsp. Butter
    • 3 oz. Cream cheese
    • ¼ C. Bacon pieces
    • 2 tsp. Minced garlic
    • ¼ C. Parmesan cheese grated

    Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Season the chicken with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and salt and pepper to taste. 
    3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. 
    4. Sear both sides of the chicken evenly. 
    5. Remove and set aside to cool a bit.
    6. Add the butter to the same skillet and reduce the heat to medium. 
    7. Stir in the garlic, and sautee for another 30 seconds. 
    8. Mix in the spinach and sautee until slightly wilted. 
    9. Add in the cream cheese, bacon, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste, and stir until the cream cheese has melted. 
    10. Use a sharp knife to slice a pocket into the side of each seared chicken breast. 
    11. Stuff the chicken with the filling. 
    12. Place the chicken into a well greased baking dish. 
    13. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through. 

    Notes

    5 net carbs

     

     

    19 Best Sour Cream & Pasta Dinner Recipes

    19 Best Sour Cream & Pasta Dinner Recipes

    I don’t know about you, but pasta is my ultimate comfort food. There’s nothing like sitting on the couch in your favorite “loungewear” with a big old bowl of some kind of noodles in one hand and a fork in the other, about to watch 

    What to Wear to Disney World in the Summer (June, July, & August Tips)

    What to Wear to Disney World in the Summer (June, July, & August Tips)

    For years I said that I would never go to Disney World in the summer. I mean, I actually said it out loud to people. It was one of those smug declarations people sometimes make when they believe they made a decision based on their 

    Disney World Rides & Weight Limits – Tips for Plus-Sized Guests

    Disney World Rides & Weight Limits – Tips for Plus-Sized Guests

    There’s nothing very magical about waiting on line for an hour at Disney World, then not being able to ride because you can’t fit in the seat.

    Or to be able to ride the ride, but be in constant pain the entire time because the lap bar is digging into you.

    There’s enough to worry about when you’re planning a Disney World vacation, and your body size shouldn’t be one of them.

    In this post you’re going to learn about:

    • Different types of ride seats and restraints
    • How they can pose challenges and how to overcome them
    • What test seats are and which rides have them
    • Which rides are most challenging for Pooh-sized guests
    • Other plus-sized guests specific experiences and tips

     

    Is Disney putting a weight limit on certain rides?

    You might have heard a rumor that, for safety reasons, Disney was going to implement a policy that only guests that weighed less than 180 pounds could ride certain rides.

    This rumor is completely false.

    There are no weight limits for rides at Disney World and absolutely no plans for there to be any.

    This rumor originated from an article in Mouse Trap News, a satirical website. (Kinda like a Disney-specific version of The Onion.

     

    Test Seats for Rides

    Test Track in Epcot
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Photography

     

    Some rides have test seats outside the attraction so you can find out whether you and the seat get along before you wait in line for an hour.

    If you have trouble finding the test seat, just ask a cast member for help.

    I’ve heard some people say that they’re embarrassed to try the test seat because they’re out in the open where everyone can see them.

    Please don’t let that stop you. Honestly, most humans (me included) are pretty self-absorbed, and they’re probably too busy paying attention to their phones, their families, and what the ride will be like to be caring about strangers on test seats.

    There are test seats for:

    • Expedition Everest
    • Tron
    • Test Track
    • Flight of Passage

     

    Tips plus size at Disney World

     

    Disney World Rides That Might Not Be Plus-Size Friendly

    By NO means does this mean that plus-size guests won’t be able to ride them.

    These are just the rides that might possibly be snug or challenging — as opposed to, say, Jungle Cruise or The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which are very plus-size friendly.

    Magic Kingdom

    • Astro Orbiter
    • The Barnstormer
    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
    • Space Mountain
    • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
    • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
    • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
    • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
    • TRON Lightcycle
  1. Animal Kingdom Theme
    • Dinosaur
    • Kali River Rapids
    • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
    • Avatar-The Flight of Passage
  2. Epcot
    • Mission: Space
    • Test Track
    • Soarin’ Around the World
  3. Hollywood Studios
    • Star Tours -The Adventures Continue
    • Rock ‘N Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
    • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

     

    Make sure to avoid chafing!

    Wearing shorts and walking outside in the heat for several hours is a sure recipe for “chub rub,” as some people call it.

    This product is small, inexpensive, and works wonders.

    I also like to rub it all over my feet every morning before I put my sandals on.

     

    Different Types of Seats and Restraints

    Understanding different types of ride seating and which ones are the most challenging, plus how to best deal with different restraints (like seat belts) is not only helpful, but will hopefully alleviate some concerns you might have.

     

    Lap bars

    Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom
    Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

     

    Thrill rides usually come with lap bars that pull from in front of you and rest across your lap.

    Rides with lap bars include:

    • The Barnstormer
    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
    • Space Mountain
    • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
    • Expedition Everest

    For these types of rides, it’s not a good idea to share a lap bar with someone much smaller than you, because the bar won’t be able to come down far enough to secure the smaller person.

    Instead, you can have your party “pair up” according to size, or as to sit behind the smaller person. If you’re not sure how to arrange yourselves, just ask a cast member.

    Here are two tips for when the lap bar comes down:

    • Keep your feet flat on the floor so the bar doesn’t bang against your knee
    • Sit up straight so it’s not as tight against your stomach

     

    Seat belts

    Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Photography

    There are lots of rides at Disney World with seat belts. These are for rides are ones like Dumbo The Flying Elephant where you move around, but you don’t feel like you might go flying out of your seat (see lap bar, above).

    Rides with seat belts include:

    • Astro Orbiter
    • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
    • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
    • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
    • Star Tours
    • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
    • Soarin’ Around the World
    • Dinosaur
    • Kali River Rapids

    The key to using seat belts is to gently pull it all the way out of its socket first, so that it doesn’t lock up.

    Many, if not all, rides with seat belts have seat belt extenders available. If you think you might need one, just ask a cast member. I’ve heard that they’re very discreet about it.

     

    Theater seats

    Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Photography

     

    Theater seats are generally not too much of a problem, but here are a few tips:

    Instead of just sitting down directly between the two armrests, sit on the front edge of the seat, the slide back.

    For theater seating that’s basically a big long bench, you can ask to sit on the edge of a row. Also, if you feel like the cast member smushed too many people on one bench and you don’t feel comfortable, just let them know that you need more room.

    Also, if you need one, you can ask a cast member to put an armless chair in the area for the wheelchairs.

    Rides with theater seats include:

    • Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
    • Mickey’s Philharmagic
    • Carousel of Progress
    • Country Bear Jamboree
    • The Enchanted Tiki Room

    The thing that’s funny about some of these theater-style attractions is that sometimes it’s not the seating that’s difficult so much as getting through the turnstile.

    In this video, Pammie Plus Parks gives you some tips on the turnstiles and seating for Carousel of Progress:

     

    Bench seats

    Ostrich at Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom

     

    Bench seats are probably the easiest and most comfortable seating option, because there are no restraints or arm rests.

    Rides with bench seats include:

    • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • Jungle Cruise
    • Na’vi River Journey
    • Kilimanjaro Safaris
    • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros

    Like the theater seating mentioned above, if you feel like the cast member has tried to cram too many people on your bench, just ask to be moved to a different row.

     

    Bucket Seats

    Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland
    Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

     

    Bucket seats can be challenging for many people, because you have to lower yourself a lot to climb down into them. (Actually, it might not be the “climbing down” so much as the “getting back up” that’s a problem.)

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid these rides, but it’s good to be aware of the situation.

    Ride alone?

    Rides with low bucket seats include:

    • Astro Orbiter
    • Test Track

     

    Ride Experiences from Plus-Size People

    Slinky Dog Dash ride in Hollywood Studios
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms DIsney Photography

     

    Knowing facts about different types of seating and tips on how to use the seat belt are helpful, but only to a point.

    I know that you what you really want is to hear some plus-size people describe their own actual experiences with different rides.

    This person on the Disboards was kind enough to share their experience:

    … I wanted to share my experience. I am 6’3″ 400lbs. My weight is fairly evenly distributed.

    The only rides I have had issues with is are as follows.

    Can do it, but takes a little maneuvering:

    • Slinky Dog Dash (a little snug, but nothing crazy)
    • Test Track (had to angle my body in a bit)
    • Frozen Sing-A-Long and Muppet Vision (kind of feels like an airplane seat)
    • Gran Fiesta (had to cross my legs, which was fine because I kind of needed to pee anyway)

    Can do it, but was so uncomfortable I needed alcohol after:

    • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (I am pretty sure the restraints were a form of torture)
    • Space Mountain (at one point, I was convinced the restraint was going to fail and I was going to become an internet story. lol)
    • Tea Cups (yeaaaaahhhhh, nooooooo)

    Can’t do it, but really wish I could:

    • Flight of Passage (sigh)

    Can’t do it and couldn’t care less:

    • Barnstormer (I’m not sad about this one)

    Can do:

    • Pretty much everything else.

     

    Quick Tip:

    Wearing leggings and sitting up as straight as possible might make it a little easier to fit into the Flight of Passage seat.

     

    Water wheel and Cinderella Castle in Disneys Magic Kingdom
    Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

     

    Someone else on Disboards shared this list of ride-specific tips:

    Winnie the Pooh: The doors is slightly larger in the back row as I recall.

    Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is difficult for many “skinny” people and impossible for many larger sized people.

    Tower of Terror: Ask for the transfer seats in the front. Bonus you get more air time.

    Star Tours: Ask for the transfer seat to be opened for you. It makes it easier.

    Rise of the Resistance: Again ask for the door to be opened.

    Expedition Everest: The back row, seat closest to the loading station is slightly larger than the rest.

    Flights of Passage has a test seat, but is definitely hard to impossible for larger guests due to them not thinking and deciding not to provide alternative seating for larger guests and guests with disabilities. Given when the attraction was built and the theme, I consider this a major design flaw.

    Soarin’: the seats on the ends closest to the edges of the theater are the widest. Unfortunately with around the World this isn’t a great view.

     

    Your Turn — Plus-Size at Disney World

    What has your experience been like?

    Were there any rides that worried you, but turned out not to be a problem at all? Any tips for having an easier experience?

    Let us know below in the comments!

     

    Is Disney World fat friendly

     

    Disney World ride limits

    What to Pack and Wear for Disney World in December

    What to Pack and Wear for Disney World in December

    Close your eyes and picture yourself at Disney World in sunny Florida … where you’re pulling your jacket around you tightly, wishing that you’d thought to pack gloves, and are debating whether or not to buy a hot chocolate just so you’ll stop shivering. Wait, 

    Best portable charger for Disney World (and what is a Fuel Rod?)

    Best portable charger for Disney World (and what is a Fuel Rod?)

    Gather around, children, and listen to the tale of my family’s very first Disney World vacation … As soon as we entered the Magic Kingdom, we went to a kiosk to get little slips of paper called “Fast Passes.” Once we had these very important 

    27 Easy Stuffed Cookie Recipes

    27 Easy Stuffed Cookie Recipes

    What’s even better than biting into a delicious cookie?

    How about biting into a cookie and discovering something sweet, creamy, gooey, or crunchy inside — that’s different but has a flavor and texture that goes perfectly with the rest of the cookie?

    Below are 27 recipes for cookies that are stuffed with delicious things, including:

    • Nutella/li>
    • Oreos
    • Strawberry cream/li>
    • Cheesecake filling
    • Peppermint Patties
    • Salted caramel/li>

     

    The list includes both vegan cookie recipes and gluten-free cookie recipes, so there’s no reason for anyone to feel left out.

    (By the way, stuffed cookies might sound difficult and intimidating, but they really aren’t. They will be impressive, though!)

     

    Easy Stuffed Nutella cookie recipes

     

    Recipes for Stuffed Cookies

     

    More Sweet Desserts Your Family Will Love

     

    easy stuffed cookies for wedding cookie table

    Free Printable October Word Searches (A Fun Fall Activity)

    Free Printable October Word Searches (A Fun Fall Activity)

    Like many people, I’ve always partial to fall (or “autumn,” if you want to sound a little classier). In fact, we got married in October, partly for that reason. Leaves, pumpkins, costumes, apples, corn on the cob, a light breeze … these are some of 

    What to Serve with Corn on the Cob: 53 Dinner Ideas

    What to Serve with Corn on the Cob: 53 Dinner Ideas

    Summer is finally here and you know what that means – it’s time to chow down on some sweet and juicy corn on the cob. I always get a kick out of going to the grocery store and seeing a bunch of people crowded around 

    Free Printable August Word Searches

    Free Printable August Word Searches

    Depending on where you live, August may mean back to school for you, or it may mean summer — beaches, vacations, picnics, relaxing at the pool, that kind of thing.

    Unfortunately, where I live, August technically means the end of beaches and vacations and time to go back to school. (In fact, I’m a teacher, so I actually back to school/work on July 31 this year).

    But it also means summer, because … well, it is summer. And it’s seriously close to 90 degrees some days.

    If you’re looking for a Back to School Themed Word Search, click here for my free September word searches.

    If you’re looking for something more Summer Vacation Themed, then just keep scrolling!

    There are two August word search puzzles below, with two difficulty levels, so there’s something for kids of all ages.

    There are either 14 or 18 hidden words, depending on the puzzle.

    There’s also both a color and a black and white version for each one, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs (and your printer).

    There’s no need to sign up for anything, give me your email address, or make any promises or swear allegiance to me or my blog. Just click on the image of the puzzle(s) you want, and you can immediately download and print it.

     

     

    Easy Color August Word Search

    This puzzle has 14 August and summer themed words. None of them are diagonal or backwards.

     

    Easy Black and White August Word Search

    This is black and white version of the puzzle above.

     

    Difficult Color August Word Search

    This harder version of the puzzle has 18 words. Some of the words are a little longer, and they can run diagonally, up, down, or backwards.

     

    Difficult Black and White August Word Search<.h2>

    Again, this is the same puzzle as above, but in black and white.

     

    10  Great Outdoor Toys for Toddlers (1 and 2 Year Olds)

    10 Great Outdoor Toys for Toddlers (1 and 2 Year Olds)

    People always talk about the “terrible two,” but honestly, for me, between 12 months and 24 months was the age that set me on edge. It wasn’t because my children were “misbehaving” or having temper tantrums at that age, but just that … well, they 

    12 Best Bath Toys for Babies & Toddlers

    12 Best Bath Toys for Babies & Toddlers

    Who would have thought — before having kids — how magical the bathroom could be? No, not because you can lock yourself in there to hide from your kids (we all know that doesn’t work anyway), but because when it’s bath time (and trust me, 

    18 Easy Dinner Ideas Using Leftover Chili

    18 Easy Dinner Ideas Using Leftover Chili

    I’m sure that you know how smart it is to made a huge batch of something when you cook. After doubling a recipe is much easier and much less work than cooking the same meal twice.

    The problem with leftovers is that … sometimes they don’t sound very exciting.

    The good news is that there are lots of easy and creative ways to repurpose leftover chili. (This is also true about leftover spaghetti.)

    Below you’ll find 18 dinner recipes for what to do with all that leftover chili — from chili polenta skillet pie to sheet pan chili nachos to chili cheese dogs.

    At the end of the post you’ll find answers to some common questions about storing and re-using leftover chili.

     

    Click here to see Jamie Deen’s award-winning recipe.

     

    What to do with leftover chili

     

    Leftover Chili Recipes

     

    Recipes using leftover chili

     

    Leftover Chili FAQs

    Can you freeze leftover chili?

    Yes, you can freeze leftover chili. In fact, chili is a great dish to freeze because it often tastes even better after it has been frozen and reheated.

    To freeze leftover chili, let it cool down to room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag.(These cool little gadgets lets you pour chili into a freezer bag without making a huge mess.)

    Don’t forget to label it with the date and contents so that two months from now you’re not staring at a brown lump that you discovered in the back of the freezer, wondering what it it.

    When you’re ready to eat the chili, thaw it in the refrigerator for several hours (overnight is ideal) until it’s fully thawed. Once it’s thawed, you can reheat it on the stove, in the microwave, or in the oven until it’s heated through to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

    It’s important to note that while chili can be frozen for up to three months, the longer it’s frozen, the more its quality and texture may suffer. Ideally, you want to eat the frozen leftover within a month or two.

     

    How long is leftover chili good for?

    Leftover chili can last for up to four days in the refrigerator if stored properly in an airtight container.

    If you need to store it for longer, you can freeze it for up to three months (see above).

     

    Is it safe to eat leftover chili that has been left out overnight?

    I’m not the only one who’s had this happen, right? You think your husband packed up the leftovers, he thinks you did it … Or maybe you just got so caught up in re-watching Arrested Development (as I’m currently doing) that you forgot all about the big pot of chili that’s still on the stovetop.

    But sadly, it’s not safe to eat leftover chili that’s been left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature and can cause foodborne illness.

    So yeah, if you wake up and discover chili still on the stove or in your crockpot, scrape it into the trash and promise to do better next time.

     

    Can I store leftover chili in the same pot I cooked it in?

    That would make life easier, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to store leftover chili in the same pot you cooked it in. The pot might not be airtight and can allow air and moisture to get in, which can cause the chili to spoil more quickly.

     

    How can I prevent freezer burn on frozen chili?

    Freezer burn is caused by moisture loss from food when it’s exposed to air in the freezer. To prevent freezer burn on frozen chili, you can take the following steps:

    • Use airtight containers that are specifically designed for freezer storage. (This one was on Shark Tank and lets you easily freeze your soup or chili into serving-size portions.)
    • Use freezer bags that are designed to prevent freezer burn. Make sure to remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag.
    • Leave some space at the top of the container or bag to allow for expansion as the chili freezes. That’ll help prevent the container or bag from bursting.
    • Freeze the chili as quickly as possible after it has cooled down to room temperature. That’ll keep ice crystals from forming on the surface of the chili, which can lead to freezer burn.

     

    How can I tell if leftover chili has gone bad?

    • Smell: If the chili has a sour or “off” odor
    • Appearance: If the chili has mold on it, or if it appears slimy or discolored
    • Texture: If the chili has a slimy or mushy texture
    • Taste: If the chili tastes sour or weird

     

    Dinner Recipes Using Leftover Chili.
Includes taco chili frito pie, homemade chili cheese nachos, chili cheese omelette, and chili stuffed peppers

     

    Dinner ideas with leftover chili

    14 Cool Science Experiments to Do at Home (using household items!)

    14 Cool Science Experiments to Do at Home (using household items!)

    Years ago, when we were homeschooling, shopping for science experiments sometimes drove me crazy. I didn’t want to have to go buy a head or red cabbage, and Borox and see if we had an eye dropper somewhere, and order the right kind of test 

    41 Easy Smoked Sausage Dinner Ideas

    41 Easy Smoked Sausage Dinner Ideas

    If you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner recipe that’s sure to satisfy, smoked sausage is a great ingredient to work with. Not only is it flavorful and versatile, but it’s also easy to cook and can be used in a variety of dishes. 

    Easy Desserts with 3 Ingredients (Chocolate, Strawberry, & More!)

    Easy Desserts with 3 Ingredients (Chocolate, Strawberry, & More!)

    Are you a chocolate lover looking for quick and easy dessert recipes that won’t break the bank or require a lot of time in the kitchen?

    Look no further! We’ve got you covered with a collection of delicious chocolate desserts made with only 3 simple ingredients. From rich and decadent chocolate truffles to mouth-watering chocolate-dipped fruit, these recipes are perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth in a pinch.

    Whether you’re looking for a last-minute dessert for a party or just want to indulge in a little chocolatey goodness, these easy recipes are sure to hit the spot. Let’s get started!

     

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    Chocolate Desserts with 3 Ingredients

     

    No bake chocolate desserts 3 ingredients

     

    Easy chocolate desserts for Valentine’s Day

     

    Easy Strawberry Desserts with 3 Ingredients

    Almost every spring we make the 45 minute trek out to a strawberry field and pick several gallons. (In fact, I still have sliced, frozen strawberries in my freezer from our last trip, just waiting to be made into a delicious dessert.)

    If you’ve never gone strawberry picking, I highly recommend it. The berries are distinctly softer and sweeter than the strawberries you find in the grocery store.

    But regardless of where and how you got your strawberries, you can combine them with just two other ingredients to make desserts ranging from ice cream to pie to brownies. Check it out below!

    easy strawberry desserts with 3 ingredients data-pin-title=“Strawberry desserts” data-pin-description=“easy strawberry desserts with 3 ingredients. Includes strawberry yogurt pie with Cool Whip and dairy free no-churn strawberry ice cream” data-pin-url=“https://threekidsthreecatsandahusband.com/easy-desserts-3-ingredients/”

     

    Strawberry Desserts with 3 Ingredients

     

    Quick easy strawberry desserts 3 ingredients

    17 Adorable Penguin Crafts for Preschoolers & Kindergartens

    17 Adorable Penguin Crafts for Preschoolers & Kindergartens

    Don’t you just love penguins? Whether of the cartoon variety or the real-life one, there’s something so cute about them. Whether it’s their waddle, their unique black and white coloring, or just the fact that they don’t live in the northern hemisphere, making them kind 

    Dinner Ideas with Mashed Potatoes: 71 Easy and Delicious Pairings

    Dinner Ideas with Mashed Potatoes: 71 Easy and Delicious Pairings

    When it comes to preparing a delicious and satisfying meal, choosing the right side dish can make all the difference. One of our go-to choices is mashed potatoes because they’re not only creamy and comforting, but they also pair well with various main dishes. (Plus 

    6 Delicious Recipes using Cream of Mushroom Soup and Pasta

    6 Delicious Recipes using Cream of Mushroom Soup and Pasta

    I don’t know about you, but when I think “comfort food,” I immediately think pasta. Give me a nice, wide bowl of some sort of noodles, and I’m set.

    Cooking with cream of mushroom soup and pasta is a super easy (no pun intended) way to create a quick, easy, and comforting weeknight dinner for the family. It’s a classic combination that never fails to create a delicious, satisfying meal.

    Here are six great recipes, with main ingredients ranging from tuna to pork chops to turkey to beef, that are sure to please.

    So grab a can of cream of mushroom soup and a box of pasta, and let’s get cooking!

     

    Cream of Mushroom and pasta dinner recipes

     

    Recipes with Cream of Mushroom Soup and Pasta

     

    Easy Dinner Recipes for Family Using Cream of Mushroom Soup and Pasta. Includes crockpot beef stroganoff with cream cheese and sour cream, chicken tetrazzini casserole pasta bake; and tuna casserole with potato chips on top Spaghetti pasta recipes noodles

     

    Is cream of mushroom soup healthy for you?

    “Cream of whatever” soups are often thought of as being a really unhealthy ingredient, but that’s not completely true.

    Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, potassium, and selenium. They are also low in calories and fat and contain fiber, which can help you feel full and satisfied.

    The problem is that many canned versions of cream of mushroom soup are high in sodium, saturated fat, and calories.

    I certainly have been known to crack open many cans cream of mushroom soup over the years. (And personally, I rarely choose the low-sodium or reduced-fat versions.)

    But if you’re less lazy than I am, you can certainly opt to make your own homemade cream of mushroom soup. Here’s a recipe from Culinary Hill and another one from Cafe Delites.

    Another easy way to make these meals more nutritious — and yummy — is to make a great side salad to go with it.

     

    What to do with leftover cream of mushroom soup

    If you make one of these pasta dishes for dinner and have leftover cream of mushroom soup, here are a few ideas to use it up:

    • Use it as a sauce for pasta or rice dishes. Simply heat up the soup and toss it with cooked pasta or rice for a quick and easy meal. Doesn’t get much easier than that!
    • Make a bowl of soup. Sauté some mushrooms, garlic, and herbs, add them to the leftover soup, and blend it until smooth. Don’t forget the rolls or baguettes!
    • Use it as a base for a creamy casserole. Search your fridge or pantry for leftover cooked chicken, vegetables, and rice or pasta, and then together whatever you find and bake it in the oven for a tasty and easy casserole.
    • Make a dip for vegetables or chips. Mix the leftover soup with some sour cream or cream cheese and serve it as a dip for your favorite snacks.
    • Freeze it for later use. If you don’t have any immediate plans for the leftover soup, you can freeze it in an airtight container for up to three months.

     

     

    Easy recipes using cream of mushroom soup and pasta

     

    41 Birthday Breakfast Ideas Kids Will Love

    41 Birthday Breakfast Ideas Kids Will Love

    Birthdays are a special day (no matter how old we are!) As a parent, you want to make your child’s special and memorable right from the start … but you also don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. One really simple yet creative breakfast 

    19 Fun Transportation Crafts and Activities for Kids

    19 Fun Transportation Crafts and Activities for Kids

    When my two daughters were young, we spent lots of time getting them craft materials and coming up with activities. They were crazy about any kind of stickers, and loved to glue, cut, color, decorate … you name it. But then I had a son. 

    The 8 Best Healthy Substitutes for Beans in Chili

    The 8 Best Healthy Substitutes for Beans in Chili

    Last summer I took a Spanish class in Costa Rica, and during one class the teacher called on me and asked me to name something we disliked.

    It was such a broad question that I fumbled for a moment, and then shrugged and said, “No me gustan frijoles.” (I don’t like beans.)

    A few minutes later I was called on again, to say what our favorite food was, and everybody chuckled when I answered, “Burritos sin frijoles.” (burritos without beans)

    I don’t hate beans. I’ll eat them. Sometimes.

    But I’m definitely not a fan of beans. I always skip the beans when I order from Chipotle, and I don’t eat the baked beans at a barbecue.

    And what my daughter used to call “cream beans” at Mexican restaurants? Ugh. No thank you.

    So I started researching what other options there were for people who wanted to try something other than beans in their chili.

    It turns out that there are a lot of healthy alternatives!

     

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    What Other Beans Can You Substitute for Kidney Beans in Chili?

    First let’s talk about what you can do if you’re not anti-bean in general, but you don’t particularly like kidney beans (or just don’t have them in the house at the moment.)

    In this case, there are several other types of beans that you can use. It’s basically just a matter of personal preference.

    • Black beans: Black beans have a similar texture and flavor to kidney beans, and they’re a popular substitute in chili recipes. I’ve heard them described as having an “earthy” flavor, although I’m not exactly sure what that means.
    • Pinto beans: Pinto beans are what refried beans (definitely not a fan!) are made of. They’re softer than black beans and have a slightly nutty flavor.
    • Cannellini beans: Surprise — cannellini beans are a kidney bean — just a white kidney bean! They’re the same size and shape as they’re red cousins, and they’re often used in Italian dishes. They have a mild flavor and a creamy texture.
    • Navy beans: Navy beans have the same creamy white color as cannellini beans, but are smaller and rounder.
    • Chickpeas: Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, have a nutty flavor and a slightly firm texture. They’re a good substitute for kidney beans in chili if you want to add a different flavor and texture to your dish.

     

     

    Why Substitute Beans in Chili?

    Now let’s talk about removing beans of all colors, shapes, and sizes from our chili.

    There are several reasons why you might want to do that:

    You dislike the mushy texture of beans

    That’s my main issue with beans. They’re creamy, but they’re savory, and that causes a weird disconnect in my brain. Creamy should be reserved for things like rice pudding and ice cream.

    Digestive Issues

    For some people, beans can cause digestive issues such as bloating and gas. Replacing beans with other ingredients let’s them still enjoy bowl of chili without any uncomfortable side effects.

    Variety and Flavor

    It’s possible that you’re a friend to all beans, but you get tired of the same old, same old, and just want to try something new to jazz up your chili a little.

     

    Fun Fact:
    I’ve never been to Texas, but according to House of Yum, true Texas chili, or chili con carne, doesn’t contain beans (or onions or tomatoes).
    As I understand it, the reason is that these ingredients change the flavor too much and make it too much like a stew.

    So the simplest solution to avoiding beans in your chili is to just make Texas chili.

     

     

    Best Substitutes for Beans in Chili

    Here are 8 great options that you can substitute for the beans in your favorite chili recipe.

     

    Lentils

    Wait … aren’t lentils beans?

    Nope. Lentils are grain legumes that contains lots of fiber and protein.

    “Legumes” and “beans” aren’t synonymous. All beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans.

    According to Master Class, lentils are much smaller and flatter than beans, which are usually plump and oval or kidney shaped.

    Also, lentils are lower in indigestible sugars and lower in carbs than beans are. And they also have a shorter cooking time than beans, so your chili will probably be ready a bit quicker than usual.

    They do have a similar texture and flavor to beans, which means — surprise, surprise! — that I’m personally not a big fan of lentils either.

    To use lentils in your chili recipe, start by rinsing them thoroughly and soaking them for a few hours. Then add them to the pot with your other ingredients and simmer until they’re tender.

    You may need to add a bit more liquid to the pot to accommodate the lentils.

     

    Split Peas

    Here’s another legume that isn’t a bean!

    Split peas are a great source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients. They’re made by splitting the whole pea in half, which makes them cook faster and easier to digest than whole peas. Split peas come in two varieties: green and yellow.

    They’re an excellent substitute for beans in chili because they add a thick, creamy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

    To use split peas in chili, simply add them to the pot along with the other ingredients and allow them to cook until they’re tender. You may need to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe to accommodate the split peas, as they will absorb quite a bit of liquid as they cook.

     

    Quinoa

    Quinoa is a versatile and nutritious grain that can also be used as a substitute for beans in chili. It has a slightly nutty flavor and a texture that is similar to beans, which makes it a great addition to chili.

    To use quinoa or brown rice in your chili recipe, rinse it thoroughly and add it to the pot with your other ingredients. Again, you may need to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe to accommodate the quinoa.

    You can also add other gluten-rice grains, like brown rice, polenta, or grits.

     

    Chopped Veggies

    Another option for bean-free chili is to use vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, or eggplant. You’ll end up with a chili packed with nutrients and fiber — and fewer carbs.

     

    Soy

    Soy is a great low-carb substitute for beans. You can use tofu, endamame, whole soybeans, tempeh or texturized vegetable protein (TVP).

     

    Chopped potatoes

    To me, adding potatoes does start to transform the dish from “chili” to “stew,” but I guess it doesn’t matter what we call it.

    Personally, I recommend sweet potatoes — plus some cinnamon or nutmeg.

     

    Toasted Seeds and Nuts

    I love cashews, walnuts, pecans, or almonds in my cookies and brownies, but I never would have thought to add it to my chili — what a great idea!

    If nuts are too pricey, or you’re dealing with a nut allergy, consider using sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

     

    More Meat

    An easy way to avoid the carbs, digestive issues, and yucky texture of beans is to just double your meat! You can use ground beef, ground turkey, chicken, and/or pork sausage. Don’t be afraid to mix meats.

     

     

    23 Unicorn Birthday Party Food Ideas (Desserts & Snacks)

    23 Unicorn Birthday Party Food Ideas (Desserts & Snacks)

    Planning a unicorn-themed party? Girls will love these 23 sweet treats that will be a hit at any sleepover. From the super sweet (Cool Whip and colorful sprinkles sandwiches between graham crackers) to somehow healthy (strawberry banana smoothies, rainbow fruit platter) to breakfast food (rainbow 

    18 Summer Arts and Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    18 Summer Arts and Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    One of the many nice things about doing crafts with kids is that it can be either and indoor or outdoor activity. We’ve done crafts not only at the kitchen or playroom tables, but also along the side of the neighborhood swimming pool or at 

    10 Ocean-Themed Under the Sea Snacks (beach party food!)

    10 Ocean-Themed Under the Sea Snacks (beach party food!)

    Looking for some cute and easy snacks for an ocean-themed party … or just a fun way to enjoy a summer afternoon with the kiddos?

    Here are 10 fun treats — from mermaid cupcakes to beach pudding cups to starfish sugar cookies — that will be a hit at your next pool party.

    Ocean Themed Party Supplies

    Under The Sea Party SuppliesUnder The Sea Party SuppliesUnder The Sea Party SuppliesBeach Summer Party Tableware SetBeach Summer Party Tableware SetBeach Summer Party Tableware SetPool Party Beach BallsPool Party Beach BallsPool Party Beach Balls

     

    Ocean Themed Snacks

     

     

    Beach themed snacks for summer

     

     

     

    Ocean themed snacks and desserts for kids

    Free Printable Food Word Search Puzzles for Kids

    Free Printable Food Word Search Puzzles for Kids

    If you’ve been studying nutrition and health with your kids, these free printable worksheets are a great way to reinforce spelling and vocabulary. Of course, you can also do them just because they’re fun, and hey, everybody likes food! These 3 printable worksheets are geared 

    Best Baby & Toddler Carrier for Disney World

    Best Baby & Toddler Carrier for Disney World

    If you’re bringing a baby to Disney World, a baby carrier that you and your baby both very comfortable is a very useful item to bring along too. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Oh, we don’t need that, we’re bringing a stroller,” keep in mind 

    How Big Is Disney World in Orlando vs Disneyland?

    How Big Is Disney World in Orlando vs Disneyland?

    I’m willing to bet that if you have kids (and maybe even if you don’t), you’re planning at least one trip to Disney World in the future — even if “the future” means three or four years from now.

    And if you’ve spoken to anyone who’s been already there, you know that there’s a lot to know, and the more information you have, the better.

    Because Disney World is huge. It really is its own little world.

    So knowing just “how big is Disney World?” can give you a good place to start planning your fabulous Disney World Vacation.

    In this post you’ll learn some specific numbers about the size of Disney World, the size of its various “parts,” and how Disney World compares overall to its California cousin (and the original park), Disneyland.

     

    Epcot at Disney World

     

    Where is Disney World Located?

    Walt Disney World is located in central Florida in the city of Orlando. Orlando itself is a very large city, and it incorporates the world’s biggest theme park (as well as Universal Studios, home of the Wizarding World of Potter) into its city limits.

    Disney World actually spreads over 43 square miles of land, which is 27,000 acres. That means approximately 20,812 football fields would fit into Disney World.

    Imagine walking all that with a toddler — or with crummy shoes. Yikes!

    Disney World Florida, consists of six different parks. Four are Disney Theme Parks, and two are Disney Water Parks.

    • Magic Kingdom
    • Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
    • Epcot
    • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon (water park)
    • Disney’s Blizzard Bay (water park)

     

    How Big is Magic Kingdom Park?

    Cinderella Castle at Disney World
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Parks Photography

     

    Here is a fun fact you may not have known … (I’m very big on trivia.)

    Before it expanded into what it is today, Walt Disney World consisted of only one park…Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, built in 1971.

    (More trivia — admission when Disney World first opened was $3.50, and then you’d have to buy tickets to ride the rides, kinda like a local fair.)

    Magic Kingdom alone is 107 acres and filled with iconic and historical attractions built based on the original ideas and movies of the Walt Disney company.

    Due to its size and number of attractions, you really need to spend at least one full day at this park if you want to see everything.

     

    Splash Mountain in Disney World
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Parks Photography

     

    Magic Kingdom Main Attractions

    • Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
    • Cinderella Castle
    • Space Mountain Ride
    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Ride
    • Pirates of the Caribbean Ride
    • It’s A Small World Ride
    • Main street

     

    Click here to see a thorough list and descriptions of all the Magic Kingdom attractions.

     

    How Big is Epcot Park?

    Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

     

    Epcot (originally EPCOT) was the second park built as part of Walt Disney World. Built in 1982, Epccot is 305 acres and therefore twice as big as Magic Kingdom.

    The original EPCOT was very different from what Epcot is today. It was designed as a celebration of human accomplishment, dedicated to emerging technology and a celebration of global cultures. It was an educational park, and there were no Disney characters there other than Figment and Dreamfinder from Journey Into Imagination.

    Some of the earlier Epcot attractions that are long gone include:

    • Body Wars
    • Cranium Command
    • Ellen’s Energy Adventure
    • Food Rocks
    • The Image Works: Creative Playground of the Future
    • ImageWorks: The What-If Labs
    • Innoventions
    • The Living Seas (now The Seas with Nemo & Friends)
    • The Making of Me
    • Maelstrom (now Frozen Ever After)
    • Surprise in the Skies
    • Symbiosis
    • World of Motion

    I gotta be honest: There’s a part of me that wishes the original Epcot still existed. Not instead of the existing Epcot, but in addition to it. Wouldn’t that be cool?

     

    Maelstrom ride
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Parks Photography

     

    Epcot Main Attractions

    • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Ride
    • Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana (coming soon)
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Ride
    • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
    • Spaceship Earth
    • Test Track Ride
    • Food and Wine Festival

     

    How Big is Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

    Hollywood Studios sign
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Parks Photography

     

    Hollywood Studios was built third, in 1989, and is 135 acres, making it slightly larger than the original Magic Kingdom Park.

    Hollywood Studios used to be quite a bit different as well. Originally named Disney-MGM Studios, the focus was on films and the process movie making.

    Yes, I kinda wish that park still existed too. But on the other hand, current-day Hollywood Studios has Toy Story Land, Star Wars Land, and two of my favorite rides — Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller Coaster.

    Hollywood Studios used to have a reputation of being geared toward a slightly older audience, but I don’t think that’s very true anymore.

     

    Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Parks Photography

     

    Hollywood Studios Main Attractions

    • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
    • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Ride
    • Tower of Terror Ride
    • Toy Story Land
    • Toy Story Mania Ride

     

    How Big is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park?

    Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

     

    Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest theme park in Walt Disney World, but it is also the world’s biggest theme park, period. At 580 acres of land, Animal Kingdom is home to roughly 2,000 animals that roam openly, plus rides and other attractions.

    Animal Kingdom Main Attractions

    • Pandora: World of Avatar
    • Avatar Flight of Passage Ride
    • Na’vi River Journey Ride
    • Kilimanjaro Safari
    • Expedition Everest
    • Dinoland

     

    Kali River Rapids in Disney's Animal Kingdom
    Photo courtesy of Judd Helms Disney Parks Photography

     

    How Big is Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon?

    Typhoon Lagoon
    Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

    There are two Disney World water parks your family can choose from. One is Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, and the other is Blizzard Beach.

    Typhoon Lagoon is a 56-acre water park. It was the first water park built at Walt Disney World and is home to waterslides, raft rides, and other fun attractions.

    Even though this is a water park, you can still see fun Disney parades, have character interactions, and see shows and fireworks.

    Main Attractions

    • Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool
    • Bay Slides
    • Castaway Creek

     

    How Big is Disney’s Blizzard Beach?

    Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach
    Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

     

    One water park was just not enough for Disney World. They had to defy expectations and build a second one on the resort.

    Disney’s Blizzard Beach is slightly larger than Typhoon Lagoon, coming in at 66 acres. Like Typhoon Lagoon, it is made up of fun water slides, shows, characters, and raft rides, you won’t miss out on any of the Disney magic.

    • Cross Country Creek
    • Downhill Double Dipper
    • Melt-Away Bay

    In the spirit of full disclosure, we have never been to either of the water parks — yet — but one key difference is that the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon is more intense.

     

    How Big are the Walt Disney World Resorts?

    When Disney World opened in 1971, there were only three resort hotels:

    • Contemporary Resort
    • Polynesian Resort
    • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

    Today there are over 25 hotels and resorts to choose from within Disney World Resort. But no matter which one you choose, they all give unique experiences you and your family will never forget.

     

    Disney Springs used to be known as Downtown Disney (I’m feeling older as I write this post) and is the premier Disney shopping district.

    Even though Downtown Disney Disney Springs isn’t inside any of the theme parks, it’s still part of the greater Disney World Resort. The area is 120 acres and consists of shopping, dining, and fun. The best part is that you don’t need a park ticket to visit.

    Restaurants and Shops:

    • The Edison (restaurant)
    • The Boathouse – (restaurant)
    • Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ – (restaurant)
    • DisneyStyle (shop)
    • Star Wars Galactic Outpost (shop)
    • The Lego Store (shop)
    • Disney Cirque Du Soleil (show)

     

    How Big is Disney World Compared to Disneyland Park?

    • Disney World Resort in Florida = 27,000 acres
    • Disneyland, California, is only 500 acres

    Put another way, about 51 Disneylands can fit inside Disney World

    Disneyland is one park with nine distinct lands:

    • Adventureland
    • Critter Country
    • Fantasyland
    • Frontierland
    • Main Street, U.S.A.
    • New Orleans Square
    • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
    • Tomorrowland
    • ToonTown

     

    FAQs

    How big is Disney World compared to a city?

    Disney World is about the same size as San Francisco.

     

    Is Disney World bigger than New York City?

    New York City is much bigger than Disney World. But Disney World is about twice the size of Manhattan (which is one of the five boroughs in New York City).

     

    How big is Disney World in miles?

    According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Walt Disney Resort encompasses 47 square miles, or 122 square kilometers.

     

    How long did it take to build Disney World?

    According to DOZR, it it took over 19 months (and over 9,000 construction workers) for the Magic Kingdom to open on October 1, 1971.

     

    How long did it took to build Disneyland?

    It took a year to build Disneyland (the only park that was actually built under Walt Disney’s supervision).

     

    Does anyone live on Disney property?

    Believe it or not, you actually can live on Disney property. (I did not know this until about two minutes ago.)

    There’s a neighborhood community on Disney World property called Golden Oak, located southeast of Magic Kingdom, near the Four Seasons Resort Orlando.

    The people who live there have their own concierge service that helps them schedule things like VIP tours and dining reservations. In addition, this service is also available to help you with Disney-inspired holiday decor and basic household maintenance.

    As you’ve probably guessed, it’s very very expensive to live on Disney property. Houses in Golden Oak start at $2 million.

    11 Gluten-Free Waffle Recipes Made From Scratch

    11 Gluten-Free Waffle Recipes Made From Scratch

    Craving the fluffy-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside, slightly sweet taste of waffles — but can’t (or don’t want to) eat gluten? No worries. These 11 waffle recipes are delicious, easy, and completely gluten-free. Pancake & Cupcake Batter DispenserTovolo Mini Silicone Easy-Grip Waffle Tongs         You 

    24 Easy Father’s Day Craft Ideas for Kids to Make

    24 Easy Father’s Day Craft Ideas for Kids to Make

    Father’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to show Dad you care than with a handmade gift? These 24 easy Father’s Day crafts all make great handmade gifts that are sure to make dad smile on his special day. Whether your 

    7 Best Wobble Boards and Balance Boards for Kids

    7 Best Wobble Boards and Balance Boards for Kids

    I regularly do yoga, so I’m very aware of the importance of balance, an area of physical fitness that’s often overlooked. (And I’m quite proud to say that I can still sit down — and get back up — off the floor without using my hands.)

    So I was intrigued when I heard about “balance boards” and “wobble boards” for toddlers.

    After reading this post, you’ll know why balance boards are beneficial for toddlers and how they can be used. You’ll also read reviews of the best balance boards, so you can decide which one is right for your kids.

     

    Are wobble boards good for toddlers?

    Wobble boards are great for toddlers. They’re a great toy for building strength and coordination, for open-ended play, and as a cause and effect toy.

    But you shouldn’t stop there! They are actually great for any age (even teens and adults) to help with balance and coordination in a fun way.

     

    What is the best age for a wobble board?

    Some wobble boards are small and safe enough for an 18 month old to start using. In general, though, most boards are recommended for age 3 up.

     

    What is the difference between a balance board and a wobble board?

    All wobble boards are balance boards, but not all balance boards are wobble boards.

    Put another way, “balance board” is the big umbrella category, and a wobble board is just one specific kind of balance board.

    A balance board is made for balance and can be made many ways, (ie. round, center balance, squishy half ball, wobble board, etc.).

    But a wobble board is a curved board made for balance, coordination, and imaginative play.

    Wobble board are generally the best type of balance boards for toddlers because they’re slightly easier to use and they allow for more options for play than just balance and coordination.

     

    How do you use a wobble board?

    Easy — just hop on, placing your feet on the raised sides of the curve, and then rock back and forth.

    But that’s not the only way to use it. Because of it’s shape, you can also:

    • Flip it upside down and make a car race track
    • Lean it against the couch and use it as a slide
    • Rock a favorite stuffed animal (or younger sibling)
    • Use it for pretend play — the rounded shape can be a bridge, rainbow, whatever

     

    What are the benefits of balance boards?

  4. Improve gross motor skills
  5. Work on core strength
  6. Give better sense of balance
  7. Grows spatial awareness
  8. Enhance coordination
  9. Increases physical development
  10. Encourage imagination
  11. Create active play
  12. Be soothing
  13. And these types of boards aren’t just for toddlers. They can be fun for the whole family.

     

    Best Wobble Boards For Toddlers

    The best wobble board for toddlers is the one that will work with the abilities and needs of your child. Below are several boards that are safe, durable, and received positive customer reviews.

     

    Gentle Monster Wooden Wobble Board

    Gentle Monster Wooden Wobble BoardGentle Monster Wooden Wobble BoardGentle Monster Wooden Wobble Board

     

    Board size: 31 x 12 x 0.66 inches
    Board weight: 5.19 pounds

    This particular curvy board has three things going for it:

    1. It has a weight limit or 480 pounds, so it can easily hold the weight of an adult or of multiple children at the same time
    2. It’s made of high quality natural wood, with unique coloring and texture, so that each board one of a kind
    3. It’s made in the USA

    The actual weight of the board is 5.19 pounds, so be sure your child can lift it if you want them to use it for imaginary play. But if you just want them to be able to do some exercise or work their core muscles indoors, this could still be a great option.

    Due to the size at 31 x 12 x 0.66 inches, this particular board may be better for 3 year old’s and up.

    Click here to see a photo of a 3 year old boy enjoying this board.

     

    Play-in-Joy Wooden Balance Board

    Wooden Balance BoardWooden Balance BoardWooden Balance Board

     

    Size of board: 36 x 12.25 x 0.5 inches
    Weight of board: 8.5 pounds

    Wobble boards are great wooden toys and are often found in Montessori homes for open-ended toddler play.

    This particular balancing board is slightly longer than the one above. It’s a high-quality board made of wood, eco-friendly water-based paint, 11 layers of high-quality birch and 2 layers of beech.

    The max weight limit is only 390 pounds for this one, but it’s recommended for ages 18 months and up.

    The larger size lends well to creative play and more fun. The company uses machine grinding to make these boards nice and smooth. They also offer 100% satisfaction guaranteed with a 30 day full refund.

    Amazon reviewer Heidi Gray says this board is amazing:

    … EVERYONE in the family can use it, for all different reasons and results.

    • Young kids practice their balance while getting some exercise in.
    • Young adults can use it to hone a certain skill, for example- a sports skill.
    • And adults can use it for exercise, core balance, meditation.
    • It literally can be used by all for so, so many things. This is truly an all in one product.

     

    Wooden Wobble Board and Montessori Rocker

    Wooden Wobble Board and Montessori RockerWooden Wobble Board and Montessori RockerWooden Wobble Board and Montessori Rocker

     

    Board size: 37 x 11 x 0.66 inches
    Board weight: none mentioned

    This wobble board has something none of the other original wooden rocker boards have — spacing around the edge that acts as finger protection. An additional piece of wood on the bottom cteates a gap around the edges between the floor and the edge of the board, so a toddler’s finger (or puppy’s tail) won’t get smushed while someone else is using the board.

    Amazon reviewer Elaine says that this safety feature is well worth the extra money:

    … within 10 minutes of opening the gift, I was so happy that I had opted for the beveled “safety edge”.

    From across the room, I saw the youngest with his fingers tucked under to hold on, and his sister standing above him rocked the board suddenly and there was no time to rescue his little fingers! We took a breath of relief when he went on giggling and having fun … It would have been very painful for those little fingers to get pinched or crushed under that board.

    The max weight for the board is 330 pounds.

     

    Infindez 360 Degree Rotation Wooden Balance Board

    INFIDEZ 360 Degree Rotation Wooden Balance BoardINFIDEZ 360 Degree Rotation Wooden Balance BoardINFIDEZ 360 Degree Rotation Wooden Balance Board

     

    Board Size: 16 x 10 x 3 inches,
    Board Weight: No mention

    Are you interested in using your child’s balance board yourself, but afraid that you’ll be bored after two minutes? Then this is the board for you! It includes a simple, yet challenging, marble maze.

    The board has an eye-catching design with a cute panda pattern. Geared toward indoor and outdoor pay, the safety design of this board is what makes it fun for young children. There’s an anti-slip surface on the top and an anti-slip material on the bottom.

    It’s made of solid wood, but the max weight on this board is only 250 pounds, which is low compared to the boards above.

    The rotation of this board is designed to help even more with balance, a child’s posture, and coordination. It’s portable and versatile, but from an imaginary play standpoint, it is not as open-ended as one of the basic curved wobble boards.

     

    Wood City Wobble Board

    Wood City Wobble Board for KidsWood City Wobble Board for KidsWood City Wobble Board for Kids

     

    Board size: 16.5 x 9.4 x 2.5 inches
    Board weight: 2.1 pounds

    This board is small and lightweight, making it easy for toddlers to carry around the house, bring it ouside, turn it upside down, and move around any way they like.

    Be aware that the maximum weight capacity is only 220 pounds, so adults should be careful. The fun on top is UV printed making is safe from fading and very durable. The board itself has polished edges, is durable and sturdy, and is ergonomically designed with a 15 degree inclination angle.

     

    Bodo Maze Balance Board with Labyrinth

    Bodo Maze Balance Board with LabyrinthBodo Maze Balance Board with LabyrinthBodo Maze Balance Board with Labyrinth

     

    Board size: ‎23 x 15 x 2.5 inches
    Board weight: none mentioned

    With one center point of balance and a marble maze, the Bodo Maze Balance Board may be one of the most challenging on the list. But that also means it is hours of fun.

    The board is made of eco-friendly material and is designed to help improve balance and train muscles through play.

    One thing about this board is that it doesn’t have traction on the bottom of the board, so it’s not ideal for smooth surfaces like hardwood floors. But it’s large enough for any age to use, even teens and adults. The maximum weight recommendation is 440 pounds.

    Amazon reviewer Jeremy was particularly impressed by the quality of this board:

    I bought this after looking at a bunch of plastic balance boards. I’m so glad I didn’t buy another throw-away piece of exercise equipment. This is attractive and very sturdy. It’s made of really nice solid 12-ply wood and looks like it will last forever.

    I use it for planks and balance training. You could also velcro your phone on it and play games instead of using the steel balls and voila – you have a classy and more versatile version of the ugly plastic stealth core trainer that I was considering when I found this

     

    Click here to see several photos of this board up close.

     

    Glintoper Wooden Wobble Balance Board

    Glintoper Wooden Wobble Balance BoardGlintoper Wooden Wobble Balance BoardGlintoper Wooden Wobble Balance Board

     

    Board size: 27 x 9 x 3.75 inches
    Board weight: 3.5 lbs

    This versatile balance board is a little different than the others, although it functions exactly the same way. The Glintoper board is made of natural wood but it’s backed with felt cloth to protect flooring and reduce noise.

    This board has a maximum weight of 250 pounds.

    Amazon reviewer Toni explained what she did and didn’t like about this board:

    I bought thus for versatile reasons….for my son of course to introduce him to balance, yoga and exercise but also use this when we have big emotions and want to calm down and talk. Just rock back and forth until we calm down. Love it.

    The only issue I have is I have hardwood floors and it slides. There is a gray grip on the bottom to use for other things… not sure if that is indeed suppose to prevent it from sliding, I can only assume because I bought a different balance board for myself that has grip on the bottom of it.

     

    26 Best Board Games for Toddlers (2 & 3 Year Olds)

    26 Best Board Games for Toddlers (2 & 3 Year Olds)

    Even though my kids are getting older, we still play board games all the time. We started playing board games when they were toddlers around 2 years old and they just fell in love with them. To help you get started playing board games with 

    23 Easy & Fun Bumblebee Crafts for Kids

    23 Easy & Fun Bumblebee Crafts for Kids

    Here are 23 adorable bee crafts that your kids will surely love. Not only are these crafts fun and entertaining, but they also provide a great way to enhance your child’s fine motor skills. Bumblebee crafts are not only cute and easy to make, but 

    Can You Freeze Cooked Spaghetti and Meatballs?

    Can You Freeze Cooked Spaghetti and Meatballs?

    I don’t know about you, but spaghetti and meatballs is one of my family’s favorite meals.

    And I always make more than I need. After all, making one double (or triple!) batch of anything is a lot less work than making one bunch twice.

    So can you freeze spaghetti and meatballs and make it work for another dinner? You sure can.

    Spaghetti dinner night is one of my favorites, because not only is it a quick dinner, but it’s one of the few things that everybody in the family loves. Plus, there are always spaghetti leftovers I can use for other meals or to freeze.

    Can you freeze spaghetti and meatballs?

    Good news — you can freeze spaghetti and meatballs! All parts of this dish can be frozen. The ground beef, tomato sauce, and pasta will last about 2-3 months in a regular 42 degree freezer. It’ll even last up to a year in the deep freezer.

     

    How do you freeze spaghetti and meatballs?

    The freezing process can be done a few different ways, but here are the most simple steps:

    1. Let Cool. Let the sauce, the meatballs and the pasta cool to at least room temperature.
    2. Whether mixed together or separate, place the components into a heavy duty freezer bag or freezer-safe Tupperware container.
    3. If using freezer bags, make sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag to guard against freezer burn.
    4. If using Tupperware, make sure it is airtight. Then also make sure that you either 1) fill a shallow airtight container almost to the brim so when it freezes it pushes out the air, or
      2) place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap over the top of the spaghetti and meatballs to help prevent freezer burn.

     

    Extra Tip:
    Lay your freezer bag on its side and freeze flat to help you save freezer space.

     

    Should I freeze the spaghetti, meat and sauce separately?

    There is most definitely an option to freeze the spaghetti, meat and pasta sauce separately.

    Since all parts of this dish freeze, you can be creative about how you use each item when you thaw it. For example, you could use the sauce on uncooked plain pasta in a baked pasta dish . . . or use the pasta in a cream sauce dish.

     

    Pasta noodles

     

    How to freeze cooked pasta noodles by themselves:

    Freezing the noodles when they are cooked al dente will give you the best results when you thaw and want to use them later.
    Also, try mixing a bit of olive oil into the spaghetti noodles so they don’t stick together from all the starch.
    Still make sure to use freezer bags or airtight freezer-safe containers and squeeze out all the air you can.

    NOTE: This process works with all types of pasta once cooked. But if you are freezing fresh pasta you will want to place it on a cookie sheet in a single layer then pop it into the freezer for 15 minutes. After that, you can follow the instructions above.

     

    How to freeze meatballs or meat by itself:

    You can freeze the meatballs individually on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, place them in a freezer bag and toss them into any meal to make it a little meatier.

    Freeze ground beef the same way as the meatballs by spreading the meat out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment and allowing it to freeze. Once frozen, crumble it and place the crumbles into a freezer bag so it can be used in other dishes.

     

    Tips for freezing sauce separately:

    Unlike jarred spaghetti sauce which can last a little longer in the fridge, your homemade spaghetti sauce should be frozen for sure. This cuts down on food waste and saves you time when you need it.

    • Freeze sauce in a freezer bag or freezer safe tupperware that is airtight.
    • For another option, try freezing your sauce in an ice cube tray to use for flavoring dishes and soups in the future.

     

     

    Can you freeze cream-based sauces?

    Some people like creamy sauces on their spaghetti, and guess what –you can still freeze a cream-based sauce.

    Here are the things that you need to make sure of:

    • You can freeze your sauce in heavy-duty freezer bags but because of the cream, I recommend doing a double wrap with some aluminum foil on the outside to help keep the temperature more constant.
    • The other option is to freeze in high quality storage containers that are airtight.
    • Unlike a tomato-based sauce which you could potentially pop right into the microwave to thaw, cream-based sauces tend to be more tricky. Make sure you thaw your cream-based sauce completely in the refrigerator before heating. For best quality results, I recommend heating over a low slow heat.
    •  

      spaghetti and meatball in bowl

       

      How long after making spaghetti sauce can you freeze it?

      Let it cool. Then freeze it. It should not take a long time (30-60 minutes) to completely cool as long as you stir it occasionally to let the heat out of the center.

      &Nbsp;

      Can you freeze spaghetti in individual portions?

      I love freezing our favorite foods into individual portions that can be grabbed and thawed at a moment’s notice.

      People usually think of storing people in plastic containers, but interestingly, glass jars are a great way to make individual portions. Just put a serving size into the jar, place a piece of parchment paper on top to cut down on freezer burn and then freeze it.

      You can also use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to make small piles of spaghetti to freeze. Then once frozen, place them into a freezer bag and pull one out whenever you want a small meal.

      Some days my lunch will consist of just an individual serving of spaghetti.

       

      What if there’s parmesan cheese on it?

      Parmesan cheese actually has a really high fat content, so it freezes really well. It shouldn’t compromise your spaghetti by freezing them together.

       

      Can you freeze spaghetti in Tupperware?

      Freezer safe containers (whether they’re technically “Tupperware” or not) can be used as long as they say they are an air-tight container. This helps prevent freezer burn.

      You also want to make sure they’re quality containers so they don’t crack from the freezing temperature (which we have definitely had happen).

       

      Can you put spaghetti in Ziploc bags?

      A freezer safe bag is one of the best ways to freeze spaghetti and meatballs. The most important thing is to remember to try to remove all the air from the bag before placing it in the freezer.

       

      How do you reheat frozen spaghetti with meat sauce?

      There’s a chance that reheating those spaghetti noodles can make them mushy. So for best results, it’s a good idea to thaw the spaghetti with meat sauce in the refrigerator before reheating.

      Once the mixture is thawed, bring it up as close to room temperature.

      Then just have to warm it up in one of these ways:

      • Pop it into the microwave oven until heated through.
      • Bake it in an oven safe dish in the conventional oven.
      • Place it into a crockpot until warm.
      • Use a pot on the stove and cook on low heat to medium heat.

      Make sure the internal temperature of the dish is at least 165 degrees (especially if you have meatballs).

       

      TIP: How to thaw faster from a Ziploc bag:

      Did you forget to get the frozen spaghetti out to thaw in the fridge the night before?

      No worries. Place the closed ziplock bag in a bowl with cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until thawed. Then heat the spaghetti and meatballs using a method mentioned above.

       

      Spaghetti Freezing FAQ’s

      How long can you freeze cooked meatballs?

      You can freeze cooked meatballs up to 3 months in the regular freezer and up to 1 year in a deep freezer.

       

      Can you freeze spaghetti with sauce on it?

      Yes, you can freeze spaghetti with sauce on it. You can either separate the components or freeze them all together.

       

      How long does spaghetti and meatballs last in the fridge?

      As we all know, refrigeration will only keep your perishable food good for so long before bacterial growth sets in, exposing us to possible food poisoning.

      Be sure to look for signs of spoilage before eating. Things like bacterial growth, mold, or a rotten smell can all be signs of bad spaghetti.

      Store-bought sauce is laden with preservatives and can last a little longer in the fridge. Be sure to check the expiration date.

      The best option for homemade pasta sauce is to freeze it as soon as possible. It can be put in the refrigerator overnight, but should be frozen by the next day. And mark expiration dates on your frozen meals so you know when you need to use them up.

      According to State Food safety and the FDA food code, all leftovers should be eaten before 7 days. That being said, I would recommend eating your spaghetti and meatballs in 3-4 days even if your container is airtight.

       

      What’s a good spaghetti recipe?

      My favorite spaghetti recipe is one that you can actually make in the crockpot. It is super simple and super delicious.

       

      Remembering to freeze perishable foods can make the shelf life of the food you make last so much longer (instead of just putting it into the refrigerator to go bad quickly)

      So, the next time you need a dinner idea on a busy weeknight, remember you have frozen spaghetti and meatballs in the freezer. And don’t you think food is always better the second time around? Pair it with a nice glass of wine and it will make that busy night feel so much better.

       

       

    Free Printable September Word Search Puzzles

    Free Printable September Word Search Puzzles

    When I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, September — specifically, the day after Labor Day — always meant going back to school. Even though I’ve lived in the south for my entire adult life, and everyone goes back to school 

    25 Easy Fun May Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    25 Easy Fun May Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    The weather is getting a little warmer (some days!), the tulips and daffodils that my daughter and I planted back in November are starting to form little sprouts, I hear birds singing outside as I type this … Yup, spring is coming soon! Below are 

    Mini Aquarium in a Bottle (ocean sensory play)

    Mini Aquarium in a Bottle (ocean sensory play)

    These ocean sensory bottles — or, as I like to call them, “mini aquariums” — are ridiculously easy to make and are a sensory activity that will keep young children calm and entranced for quite a while.

    There’s nothing wrong with making these bottles just for something fun and pretty for little hands to shake around, but they can also be a fun way to learn about sea creatures and ocean life.

    Just add a few books, a video or two (YouTube has some), and then throw in some ocean-themed snacks (like these blue jello cups with graham crackers and gummy sharks), and you’ve got a super-easy, hands-on unit study!

    Mister Seahorse by Eric CarleMister Seahorse by Eric CarleMister Seahorse by Eric CarleIn the Sea by David ElliottIn the Sea by David ElliottIn the Sea by David ElliottNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the OceanNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the OceanNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean

     

     

    We used a Voss water bottle for this, but you can certainly be creative with the type and size of bottle that you use.

    We used blue food coloring, but you can experiment with different colors.

    You can add a nice touch to your bottle by adding a few small seashells.

    Below are the step-by-step instructions, with photos, of how we made our ocean in a bottle.

    I also answered some FAQs about sensory bottles in general.

     

     

    How do you make an ocean in a bottle for kids?

    1. Gather your supplies. (See list in the card below.)
    2. Pour all of the glue into the bottle.
    3. Add the ocean animal toys.
    4. Fill the remaining bottle with water.
    5. Add one drop of blue food coloring to the bottle.
    6. Close the bottle. Use tape or glue to secure the lid.
    7. Shake the contents of the bottle well until the glue, water, and animals move around freely in the bottle.
    8. Enjoy your bottle!

     

    Ocean Sensory Bottle

     

    Sensory Bottle FAQs

    What liquid do you put in a sensory bottle?

    You can put either water or oil in a sensory bottle, depending on the look and feel that you’re going for.

    Vegetable oil will give your bottle a yellow color. Baby oil, mineral oil, or water will be clear and you can add food coloring to give it the color you want.

    You can add clear Elmer’s glue to water to keep the clear color but give it a thicker consistency.

     

    How do you thicken water in sensory bottles?

    You can thicken the water in a sensory bottle by adding clear glue or corn syrup. This works nicely in a sensory bottle with glitter, because it keeps the glitter from settling.

     

    Can you use tap water for sensory bottles?

    You can use tap water in a sensory bottle, although it might give it a more cloudy appearance than using distilled water.

     

    What do you put in an ocean sensory bottle?

    We made our ocean sensory bottle with water, clear glue, blue food coloring, and plastic fish and sea animal toys. Adding seashells would also be a nice touch.

     

    Why do you put glue in a sensory bottle?

    Putting glue in a sensory bottle makes the water thicker and makes the items in the bottle move more slowly, giving it a “swirly” effecct.

     

    Can you add sand to an ocean in a bottle?

    Yes, you can add either play sand or beach sand to an ocean in a bottle. It’s easier if you add the sand before pouring in your liquid.

     

    How do you fill a bottle with sand?

    The easiest way to put sand in a bottle is to place a funnel in the mouth of a bottle and then pour the sand into the funnel.

     

    What can I put in sensory bottles?

    You can put almost anything you want in a sensory bottle!

    You need to have some sort of “filler.” This can be liquid, like water mixed with glue, mineral oil, baby oil, or hand sanitizer. It can also be a solid material like sand or rice.

    Once you have your filler, you can add things like:

    Ocean sensory play bottle

    Ocean Sensory Bottle

    Active Time: 5 minutes
    Total Time: 5 minutes
    Difficulty: Easy

    Materials

    Instructions

    1. Pour all of the glue into the bottle.
    2. Add the ocean animal toys.
    3. Fill the remaining bottle with water. 
    4. Add one drop of blue food coloring to the bottle. 
    5. Close the bottle. Use tape or glue to secure the lid if you want.
    6. Shake the contents of the bottle well until the glue, water, and animals move around freely in the bottle.

      Recommended Products

      As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

       

      Here are some more great ideas for sensory activities with an ocean theme:

       

      More Sensory Play for Kids

       

       

      Free Printable Cinco de Mayo Word Searches

      Free Printable Cinco de Mayo Word Searches

      Word searches are a fun activity and a great way to learn new words, reinforce both spelling and vocabulary, and develop fine motor skills. These Cinco de Mayo word puzzles are at two different difficulty levels, so there’s something for all age groups. There’s no 

      February Word Search Free Printable

      February Word Search Free Printable

      It’s almost February, so I thought I’d make some February themed printables. The month of February has quite a few special days: Groundhog’s Day Valentine’s Day President’s Day Not to mention that February is also Black History Month, American Heart Month, Library Lover’s Month, and 

      4 Free Printable Groundhog Day Word Search Puzzles

      4 Free Printable Groundhog Day Word Search Puzzles

      These free printable word search puzzles are a fun way to celebrate Groundhog Day with your kids.

      They make great educational activities for home school or classroom use — or they can just be a fun activity for your kids to do at home, just because.

      Below are two different word searches. each in a pdf file that’s completely free and ready for instant download. You don’t need to give me your email address, click to a bunch of other pages, or anything else. Just click below and it’s yours!

      One puzzle is pretty easy and the other is a little more challenging, so there’s something for kids of all ages.

      For each puzzle, there is both a color and black and white version. The black and white ones are nice for kids who’d like to do a little bit of coloring as well.

       

      What is Groundhog Day?

      (Other than a Bill Murray movie, of course …)

      Groundhog Day is a tradition observed in North America (both the United States and Canada) on February 2nd.

      It’s based on the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a groundhog come out of his burrow that morning, there will be six more weeks of winter.

      If he doesn’t see its shadow because of cloudiness, there will be early spring.

      (Spoiler: studies haven’t found any connection between the groundhog seeing its shadow and how soon spring-like weather arrives.)

      The Groundhog Day ceremony is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (go Steelers!), starring the semi-mythical groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.

      Grumpy GroundhogGrumpy GroundhogGrumpy GroundhogGroundhog Gets a SayGroundhog Gets a SayGroundhog Gets a SayCelebrating Groundhog Day: History, Traditions, and ActivitiesCelebrating Groundhog Day: History, Traditions, and ActivitiesCelebrating Groundhog Day: History, Traditions, and Activities

       

      Easy Groundhog Day Word Search in Color

      This word search has only 14 fairly short words, and none of them run diagonally.
      Click here to download or print.

      Groundhog Day word search pdf

       

      Easy Groundhog Day Word Search in Black and White

      This is the same exact worksheet as the one above; except it’s in black and white.
      Click here to download or print.

      Groundhog Day word search black and white

       

      Groundhog Day Word Search in Color — Challenging

      This word search is a little more difficult than the one above. There are more words, some of the words are a little longer, and they can be found in any direction, including diagonally.
      Click here to download or print.

      Groundhog Day Word Search Color

       

      Groundhog Day Word Search in Black and White — Challenging

      Again, this is a black and white version of the word search directly above.
      Click here to download or print.

       

      You might also like:
      Free Printable February Word Searches

       

      15 Easy Recipes Using Leftover Spaghetti Noodles

      15 Easy Recipes Using Leftover Spaghetti Noodles

      As I’m sure you already know, one of the secrets to cooking is to always make extras. Doubling a recipe gives you double the meals without doubling the work. And if you’re really smart (and to be honest, I’m usually not), you’ll always make double 

      Best Wines to Pair with Spaghetti Bolognese Meat Sauce

      Best Wines to Pair with Spaghetti Bolognese Meat Sauce

      There are two basic ways a blogger can choose a topic for an article: Find something you really like and have a lot of experience with, and share your expertise with others Find something that you know nothing about, do some research on, and then 

      Guide to Disney Pin Trading, Fakes, and Scrappers

      Guide to Disney Pin Trading, Fakes, and Scrappers

      Around the time our daughter Rebecca was middle school age, she got turned onto pin trading during our Disney vacations. Looking for places to trade pins, discovering unique pins, and looking for pins of our favorite characters finding pins that she really liked became a big part of the trip for her.

      And, by extension, it added an extra dimension to our trips that I wouldn’t have thought to do myself.

      And it didn’t cost very much, either.

      In this post I’m going to go in-depth on everything you need to know about Disney pin trading, including topics like:

      • The history of pin trading
      • How and why to pin trade
      • Pin trading terminology
      • Tons of information about fake pins and scrapper pins and how to avoid them

       

      What Are Disney Trading Pins?

      Disney trading pins are small collectible pins that feature Disney characters, attractions, icons, or events. They can be purchased individually, in packs, or traded with others, particularly at the Disney parks.

      Many cast members working at the parks will be wearing lanyards with 12 pins on them. (These are not their own personal pins; they belong to Disney.) You’re welcome to look at their lanyards and choose a pin you would like to trade them for.

      They will be happy to trade with you if your pin meets the criteria (which we’ll talk about later.) In order words, they won’t say, “Mmm, no thanks, I don’t want a Minnie Mouse pin.”

      Cast members that are wearing green lanyards only trade with kids.

      You’re allowed to trade up to 2 pins, per cast member, per day. You shouldn’t grab their lanyard or touch their pins, but instead tell them which pin you would like. In addition, you’re not supposed to give them a pin they already have (although I have that rule is not well enforced).

      So how many Disney trading pins are there? I don’t think anyone knows for sure the exact number, but it’s several thousand. I’ve read numbers ranging from 70,000 to 120,000.

       

      Why Pin Trade?

      The short reason, for most people, is “because it’s a lot of fun.”

      One thing I liked about it was that it caused us to interact with a lot of cast members, and occasionally learn a thing or two from them.

      I also liked how it caused us to slow down and pay a little more attention to our surroundings: instead of just dashing to the next ride, we would be keeping our eyes out for pin boards or cast members wearing pin lanyards.

      If you’re the kind of person who likes a challenge, you could make it your goal to find a specific pin, or see how many pins of a particular character you can find.

      From a more practical perspective, Disney pins can be great souvenirs that are pretty inexpensive, don’t take up a lot of space, and provide an interactive experience. (It can also turn out to be crazy-expensive, though, depending on how you do it. So be careful.)

       

      When Did Disney Pin Trading Start?

      Disney pins themselves have been around since the parks opened, but pin trading wasn’t a “thing” until the Millennium Celebration at Walt Disney World in 1999.

      Ranker tells the story of how Disney Pin Trading all began:

      When George Kalogridis, the president of Walt Disney World Resort, went to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, he was looking for ways to spice up the Disney Millennium celebration he’d be organizing.

      He came across a group of people trading Olympics-themed pins and was impressed by the connections people were making despite not sharing a language. He decided to bring that experience to the Millennium celebration in 1999, and pin trading took off from there…

      Disney pins, the article goes on to say, were never intended to be a phenomenon, or even to last more than about a year, but the demand of guests, particularly collectors, caused pin trading to last for two decades and counting.

      The trading craze has spread to the Disneyland Resort in California (home of most Pin Trading events), as well as Aulani, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Disney Cruise Lines.

      Interestingly, pin trading officially ended at Tokyo Disney Resort in 2002 because guests were getting so carried away with trading that it was taking over the park. However, pin are still offered there as prizes for carnival games, and a relatively small number of pins are available for sale.

       

      Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

       

      How Much Do Disney Pins Cost?

      According to Wiki:

      • The base price for a pin is USD $9.99.
      • Limited edition pins, and special pins (e.g. pins that have a dangle, pin-on-pin, flocking, lenticular, light-up, moving element, 3-D element, etc.) cost up to $14.95.
      • Featured Artist and Jumbo Pins cost between $20 and $35 and Super Jumbo pins cost upwards of, and sometimes beyond, $125.

       

      Best Locations for Pin Trading

      According to Undercover Tourist, the best locations for either buying or trading pins are:

      • Disney’s Pin Traders (Disney Springs near Marketplace Co-Op)
      • Pin Traders Camera Center (EPCOT next to Spaceship Earth)
      • The Emporium (Magic Kingdom, Main Street U.S.A.)
      • Celebrity 5 & 10 (Hollywood Studios, Hollywood Boulevard)

       

      Are There Fake Disney Trading Pins?

      Yes.

      A lot of them.

      And by “a lot,” I mean “thousands and thousands.”

      And many of them — a huge number of them — are right inside the Disney parks.

      Surprised? I was. Let’s talk about this, because there’s a lot to say.

       

      What are Disney Scrapper Pins?

      When we bought these Pin Starter Sets in the past, I completely believed that I was buying genuine, bona-fide, authentic Disney pins.

      The set were recommended by a popular Disney blogger, who said the seller was incredibly high-rated, and that the pins in the set were “legitimate for trading.”

      That sounded great to me!

      And when the pins arrived, none of us were disappointed, and ever doubted their “realness.” I mean, they didn’t look weird or ugly or anything. They didn’t say “Diznee” on the back.

      So we traded these pins — which we firmly believed were authentic pins — with many Disney cast members’ pins, who of course were only trading authentic Disney pins, right?

      Whoops.

      Turns out we were wrong on both counts.

      You know those “tradable pins” that I bought from an “incredibly high-rated seller”?

      Well, apparently referring to a Disney pin as “tradable” doesn’t mean anything.

      Well … actually it kinda does mean something. It’s pretty much code for a “fake” or “scrapper pin.”

      Scrappers are officially-licensed pins, made where actual Disney pins are produced. However, they were meant to be discarded (hence the name) because they did not meet the quality control criteria. I’ve heard them be described as “factory seconds” or “production overruns.”

      Cheap packs of pins that you can find on Ebay or Amazon (like the pack we got) are very likely to be scrappers.

      As in, very very likely.

      As in, they are almost definitely scrappers.

      The Pins We Use
      Disney trading pins
      Check Price on Amazon
      A great way to start Disney Pin Trading without spending a ton of money — IF you don’t mind scrappers

       

      Will Cast Members Trade Scrapper Pins?

      I’m sure many readers will be rolling their eyes at my naivete, but I just assumed that Disney pins being worn and handed out by Disney employees at the Disney Parks would be real Disney pins.

      Nope.

      Well, okay … surely a couple fake pins get traded to a cast member here and there without anyone noticing … but the vast majority of their pins must be real, right?

      Nope.

      Turns out that roughly 90% of the pins you see on cast member lanyard and Disney pin trading boards are scrappers.

      You might assume that’s because cast members don’t know the difference, or maybe some of them do, but they don’t have time to check the pins closely.

      That may be true, but it’s also more than that.
      Cast members have to trade a pin as long as the pin:

      1. Is made of metal
      2. Has a representation of a Disney character, attraction, etc
      3. Has a Disney copyright on the back

      And guess what? Scrapper pins meet all 3 criteria.

      And that’s why they be advertised as “tradable.”

      Because they are.

      So that means it’s entirely possible to spend top-dollar on real Disney pins, trade them with cast members during your vacation, and end up with a bunch of junky, fake pins when you get home.

      Not only is it “entirely possible,” but it’s almost guaranteed.

      This creates somewhat of a dilemma for families like us: people who really enjoy the fun of pin trading in the parks, but don’t really care about how valuable or authentic our pins are, as long as we like them.

      • One one hand, I don’t want to give people fake pins or contribute to the problem of fake pins circulating the parks.
      • On the other hand, if we trade pins with a cast member — which we really enjoy doing — we almost certainly are going to get fake pins in return … so why should I pay good money real pins so that at the end of my vacation I can end up with a bunch of scrappers?

       

      As someone wrote in the comments of a blog post about pins:

      The fake pins are so pervasive, I find it best to make one of two choices.
      1. Don’t worry about fakes; or
      2. Don’t trade pins

       

      Disney blogger Tom Bricker explains how Disney themselves apparently feels about all this:

      Scrappers are controversial with hardcore Disney Pin Trading fans, but Disney itself is selling these to third parties and/or using factories in China that are known for producing overruns. Moreover, Disney allows Cast Members to trade scrappers. Given both of these facts, Walt Disney World’s official stance on these pins is quite clear.

      If Disney wanted to put an end to scrappers, they could easily do so by producing the pins elsewhere or instituting different pin trading policies. Disney has made a business decision to do neither, likely because moving production would cost more money and policy changes in pin trading would be bad for business goodwill.

      In any case, the practical reality is that the vast majority of pins on Cast Member lanyards (I’d estimate it’s over 90%) are scrappers. If you or your kids are trading pins with Cast Members, you’re going to get scrappers in return. That’s just a fact of pin trading.

      As such, we highly recommend going the eBay or Amazon route …

       

      And I tend to agree with him.

      To me, it makes no sense to spend $200+ on real pins and trade them with Disney cast members, only to end up with a pile of cheap, fake pins when you’re by the end of your vacation.

      Also, the way I see it is this: If I’m trading a fake for another fake, then that’s an even trade.

      So unless something makes me change my mind — and by all means, if you have something to share that might change my mind, feel free to share it with me in the comments — we will continue to buy cheap pin starter packs (which are almost certainly scrappers) and trade them with cast members (for different pins that are scrappers).

      However, this is an understandably controversial topic, and I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I “recommend” buying scrappers, or anything else. I’m just explaining the situation and telling you what we choose to do.

      I also want to stress that I would never knowingly trade a scrapper pin for someone else’s real pin, either by flat-out lying or just not mentioning it.

      The only trading we do is with Disney cast members, and since almost all of their pins are fakes … well, I consider that an equal trade.

       

      How Can You Tell if Disney Pins are Fake?

      I’m sure that right about now several are you are running to your Disney pin collections, eager to find out whether or not they are fake pins.

      There also may be some of you who are determined to continue pin trading in the parks, but to just do it very very diligently and look for the very few pins out there that are authentic.

      Here are some of the important things to look for in determining whether a pin is real or fake:

      1. Color — One of the most common colors in a fake pin is a “dirty yellow” or coloring that seems “too bright.” If the skin tone of a princess looks a little funny, that’s the sign us a fake. Also, an official pin should not have any paint peeling or coming off in any way.
      2. Sharp lines — Even small lettering should be clear enough that you’re able to make out all the words.
      3. Edges on a fake pin tend to be more rough.
      4. The Magnet Test — If you want to trade in the parks but want to avoid fakes, probably best thing to do is to pack a quality magnet in your park bag and test any pins that you’re considering.
        Generally speaking, fake pins cling to magnets, while real Disney pins don’t.

        NOTE: In the comments below, Tracy points out this is NOT a good way to tell a real Disney pin from a fake Disney pin. She’s had real pins stick to the magnet and fake pins not stick to the magnet and vice versa. So you can use the magnet test as one piece of the data, but not as a definitive test.

      5. Weight — Fake pins are often made with inferior metals, which tend to be lighter. If you’re holding a Disney pin that you know is authentic, you may be able to gauge the authenticity of another pin by comparing the two.
      6. Raised Front — The front of the pin should be raised and have a little texture to it, as opposed to being completely smooth.

       

      Since this kind of thing is hard to really “get” without visuals and comparisons, I’ve included some videos below from people who know a lot more about this than I do:

       

      Is my Disney Pin Fake? A Step-by-Step Guide

       

      Most Common Fake Disney Pins

       

      10 Easy Ways to Spot Fake Disney Pins! {Scrappers}

       

      What are Disney Fantasy Pins?

      Okay, so just when you think you’ve finally gotten things figured out, I’m gonna throw something else at you.

      Disney Fantasy pins.

      Disney Fantasy pins are simply cute pins created by Disney fans. You cannot trade them with Disney cast members and you should never try to pass them off as official or tradable pin because, of course, they’re not.

      However, people can and do trade fantasy pins with each other.

      Are Fantasy pins illegal?

      Mmm … the creators are possibly breaking some copyright laws (in the same way that, say, an Etsy seller creating T-shirts with Disney characters on them probably is), but as long as you’re honest about what they are, there’s nothing wrong with buying and trading them.

      You can buy Fantasy pins on Etsy or Amazon.

      Peter Pan & Tinkerbell Fantasy PinPeter Pan & Tinkerbell Fantasy PinPeter Pan & Tinkerbell Fantasy Pin

       

       

      Pin Trader says that the best way to tell the difference between an official pin and a fantasy pin is to look at the back.

      Official Disney pins will have the official Disney Pin Trading seal and a copyright Disney stamp (and possibly the Mickey ears pin back, if it hasn’t gotten lost). The backs of fantasy pins, on the other hand, just look like a plain old pin.

       

      Where to Buy Disney Pins

      So where can you buy Disney pins, either for the purpose of trading and/or starting your own collection?

      If you are okay with buying scrapper pins, there are places on both eBay and Amazon where you can get a pack of pins pretty cheap — roughly $1 per pin. (And again, just to make sure there is no confusion, the reason they are so cheap is because they are fake/scrapper pins.)

      Disney Trading Pins-Lot of 25-No DuplicatesDisney Trading Pins-Lot of 25-No DuplicatesDisney Trading Pins-Lot of 25-No DuplicatesDisney Trading Pins-Lot of 25-No DuplicatesDisney Trading Pins-Lot of 25-No DuplicatesDisney Trading Pins-Lot of 25-No Duplicates

       

       

      If you are only interested in authentic Disney pins, obviously your best bet is buying your pins directly from Disney, either at the gift shops in the parks, on online.

      Facebook is actually a good place to buy pins online. Pinderella is very popular for selling authentic pins at good prices.

       

      Video — Guide to Buying Disney Pins Online

       

      How to Carry Disney Trading Pins

      Your first consideration is to keep your pins safe. The backs that come with the pins can easily come off when they’re being jostled around. (Remember, the whole reason Rebecca got into pin trading is because somebody else lost their pin.)

      We replaced our pin backs with these more secure backs:

      25 PCS of Nickel (Silver) Plated Butterfly Clutch Pin Backs25 PCS of Nickel (Silver) Plated Butterfly Clutch Pin Backs25 PCS of Nickel (Silver) Plated Butterfly Clutch Pin Backs

       

       

      Most people (including Rebecca) like to wear their trading pins on a lanyard, like the Disney cast members do.

      Of course these lanyards don’t have to have Disney characters (in fact, you can make an argument that decorating a plain lanyard with pins is a better idea). But if you — or more likely, your kids — want a Disney lanyard, here are a few cute ones:

      Disney Princess Lanyard with Card HolderDisney Princess Lanyard with Card HolderDisney Princess Lanyard with Card HolderSet of 2 Mickey and Minnie Mouse Lanyards with Detachable Coin PurseSet of 2 Mickey and Minnie Mouse Lanyards with Detachable Coin PurseSet of 2 Mickey and Minnie Mouse Lanyards with Detachable Coin PurseMinnie Mouse Pink LanyardMinnie Mouse Pink LanyardMinnie Mouse Pink Lanyard

       

       

      If you go this route, keep in mind that a lanyard full of pins can get awfully heavy and turn into a real pain when you’re walking for miles in the heat.

      So if you have a lot of pins — say, more than 6 or 7 — consider:

      • Keeping your favorite pins safely back in the hotel room
      • Having 2 lanyards; one for “keepers” and one for “traders”
      • Wearing your favorite pins on lanyards, and keeping the traders in a coin purse

       

      PinFolio Lightweight Pin Display Bag

      PinFolio Lightweight Pin Display BagPinFolio Lightweight Pin Display BagPinFolio Lightweight Pin Display Bag

       

      This bag comes in five different colors (including “mermaid” and “villains”) and has dimensions of 10 3/4 by 7.5 by 1 3/8 inches. The concept is that you can display all your Disney pin without needing their pin backs, making it easier to adjust and rearrange your display.

      It even has a zipper enclosure so you don’t have to worry about your pins getting lost, and it allows you and everyone else to see your cool pin collection through the clear front.

      There are three surfaces for arranging your pins, two zippers for easy access, and a clear window with a zipper enclosure. There’s even a handy mesh pocket for additional storage and a felt divider to prevent scratching.

      There’s also a removable, adjustable strap so you can wear it as a shoulder bag or or crossbody style bag.

      Reviewers said this bag holds roughly 75 pins. Click here to see some photos of how one reviewers arranged theirs.

       

      PinFolio Compact Disney Pin Display Bag

      PinFolio Compact Disney Pin Display Bag, LightPinFolio Compact Disney Pin Display Bag, LightPinFolio Compact Disney Pin Display Bag, Light

       

      If you want a small Disney pin trading bag that can fit inside your backpack, this is the bag for you.

      Like the bag above, you don’t need your pin backs to store the pins (although you can keep them in the zippered mesh pocket on the back).

      The dimensions of this bag are 8 by 5.5 by 1 inches. Reviewers said that it holds about 30 pins.

       

      Another option is to wear your pins on a visor, hat, or vest.

      Wearing Disney trading pins on a vest
      Someone proudly wearing their Disney pins on a vest
      Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

       

      How to Display Disney Trading Pins (in real life)

      Sadly, eventually you have to leave the Disney parks and return to your real life in the normal world, where you [probably] won’t walk around with a lanyard covered in Disney pins.

      So what do you do with your pins that’s better than just tossing them into a drawer into your next trip?

      Well, if you already have your pins on a lanyard, you can simply hang your lanyard up on some sort of hook.

      Another easy thing to do is buy a cork board and hang it on the wall. You could use it just for Disney pins, or for more “normal” things as well, like grocery lists and Christmas card photos of your cousin’s family.

      Some people create “Disney boards” that have not only pins, but countdown calendars, park tickets, photos, park maps, and other paper souvenirs.

       

      If you’re crafty, you might want to make your own display board:

      DIY Pin Trading Display

       

      If you’re a hard-core collector — or just one of those organized people — you might like to keep it in an album made for storing pins. Each page can hold a different type of pin, or a different group of characters, or pins that you collected during a specific trip.

      Disney Parks Exclusive Pin Trading AlbumDisney Parks Exclusive Pin Trading AlbumDisney Parks Exclusive Pin Trading Album

       

       

      How to Make a Disney Pin Trading Book

       

      And hey, even in the real world it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a few Disney pins out and about. Rebecca keeps a few on her school backpack, and I plan to wear one or two on the collar of my denim jacket this fall.

       

      How to Style and Wear Disney Pins

       

      Disney Pin Trading Terms

      Like most hobbies, pin trading has its own set of terminology and abbreviations that seasoned vets toss around with ease, but which could baffle newbies.

      Here is a partial list of abbreviations from Disney Pin Blog:

        DPB (Disney Pins Blog)
        OE (Open Edition pin)
        LR (Limited Release pin)
        LE (Limited Edition pin)
        WDI (Walt Disney Imagineering pins)
        HM (Hidden Mickey pin)
        ISO (In Search Of)
        HTF (Hard To Find)
        NFT (Not For Trade)
        NFS (Not For Sale)
        PTD/PTS (Pin Traders Delight, Pin Traders Sundae)
        SPR (Surprise Pin Release)
        Grail (A pin collector’s favorite pin)
        CME (Cast Member Exclusive pin)
        CL (Cast Lanyard pin)
        Pinjury (Unintentionally stabbed from a pin post, sometimes drawing blood)

       

      And here’s an explanation of some different pin types from Complete Set:

      • Cloisonné — Surface of the pin contains individually set color sections
      • Dangle Pins — A portion of the pin hangs from small loops or a chain
      • Die Cast — Hand engraving dies used to create a three-dimensional image
      • Free-D — Contains a fastened rubber element on a pin adding extra dimension
      • Flocked — The pin has an area that’s a bit fuzzy
      • Hard Enamel — Next generation follow-up to Cloisonné allowing for more colors
      • Jumbo Pins — Larger, often more intricately designed and more expensive pins
      • Lenticular — A pin where the image changes when tilted back and forth
      • Light-Up — You guessed it! The pin has a section which lights when activated
      • Slider Pin — These pins have a movable piece which can slide across the pin
      • Spinner Pin — One part of the pin can move a full 360 degrees
      • Soft Enamel — Thinner pin than cloisonné pins but offering some of the same effect
      •  

        Video — Disney Pin Trading Lingo

         

        What is a Hidden Mickey Pin?

        Just as the name suggests, Hidden Mickeys are pins with small Mickey heads hidden on them. (They’re not so much “hidden” as they are tiny.)

        So what’s the history behind Hidden Mickey pins?

        According to Wiki, a group of pins called the “WDW Cast Lanyard Collection” was introduced in 1999, meant to encourage guests to trade pins with cast members.

        When guests complained that it was too hard to tell the difference between Lanyard Collection pins and “regular” pins, designers began placing Hidden Mickeys on the pins. In 2007, the series name was officially changed to the “Hidden Mickey Collection.”

         

        Disney Trading Pin Starter Sets

        When people are brand new to pin trading, they often like to start out with a “pin starter set,” containing just a few pins and a lanyard, to get going.

        Here are a few nice-looking starter sets that I saw on Amazon.

        While I do not know for sure whether they are real Disney pins, I am guessing that they are, between both the price and the fact that they either say “Disney Parks authentic” or have the Disney logo on the product page.

        Disney Parks Frozen Pin Trading Starter SetDisney Parks Frozen Pin Trading Starter SetDisney Parks Frozen Pin Trading Starter SetRogue One: A Star Wars Story Pin Trading Starter SetRogue One: A Star Wars Story Pin Trading Starter SetRogue One: A Star Wars Story Pin Trading Starter SetPin Trading Starter Set - VillainsPin Trading Starter Set – VillainsPin Trading Starter Set - VillainsDisney Pins - Friends Are Forever - Starter Lanyard SetDisney Pins – Friends Are Forever – Starter Lanyard SetDisney Pins - Friends Are Forever - Starter Lanyard Set

         

         

        Disney Pin Trading FAQ

        Here are answers to some common questions about pin trading:

        Is Disney pin trading worth it?

        Sure! A starter kit of trading pins doesn’t cost much. If you decide you don’t really enjoy pin trading while you’re at the park, you can just stop doing it, and you haven’t really lost anything. And if you don’t even want the pins, you can always brighten someone else’s day by giving the pins to the family standing behind you in line.

         

        How do I stop losing my Disney pins?

        The backs to Disney pins come off very easily. I suggest that you immediately replace them with butterfly clutch pin backs so they stay put.

         

        How many official Disney pins are there?

        According to DVS Shop, there are more than 100,000 different pin design, including limited edition pins, cast member pins, and event pins.

         

        How can you tell if Disney trading pins are real?

        Honestly, if you didn’t buy it from a Disney store, chances are very likely that it isn’t real — it’s either a “scrapper” or a full-blown fake.

        According to The Mouselets, the easiest way to spot a fake pin is by feeling. It it doesn’t have a smooth finish, and you can feel the ridges, it’s probably made of soft enamel and therefore fake.

        Another sign of a fake is that the pin looks like it’s been “filled in” with paint, rather than created smoothly.

         

        Disney Pin Trading Book

        I tried my best to include a lot of information in this post, and I certainly hope that it was helpful.

        However, as lengthy as this post is, it certainly isn’t an exhaustive look at Disney Pin Trading. Nor do I pretend to be either an expert or a collector.

        So if you want to learn more, check out The Mouse Pin Trading Guide.

        Mouse Pin Trading Guide:  The Beginner's Guide to the Fun and Obsessive world of Disney Pin Trading!Mouse Pin Trading Guide: The Beginner’s Guide to the Fun and Obsessive world of Disney Pin Trading!Mouse Pin Trading Guide:  The Beginner's Guide to the Fun and Obsessive world of Disney Pin Trading!

         

        I haven’t read the book myself, but it has very good reviews on Amazon.
        Reviewer LuckyLanena says:

        This was the best $13 I ever spent. This book guides you not only through the History of Pin but many helpful tips. The best part is the book includes full lists of all the “Hidden Mickey” and if you register your book on the author’s website you get print out copies of the pin list in FULL Color plus sign up for the informative newsletter. I now Trade with pride and knowledge. Thank you!

         

        What’s your experience with Disney Trading Pins — and Do You Mind Scrappers?

        Now it’s your turn.

        • Does your family enjoy pin trading at Disney World?
        • How do carry your pins at the park?
        • How do you display your pins at home?
        • Do you insist on owning and trading only genuine pins, or are you fine with owning scrappers?

        Let us know below in the comments!

         

        Rules to Disney pin trading and which pins are tradeable

         

        What are Disney scrapper pins?  How can you tell if a Disney pin is fake? Where can you buy Disney pins? Find out everything you need to know about Disney pin trading.

        Pin trading at the Disney Parks -- tips, secrets, and how to tell real pins from fake pins
      37 Easy Crafts for Kids to Make & Sell

      37 Easy Crafts for Kids to Make & Sell

      When I was about ten years old, a neighborhood friend and I were hanging around outside one day during summer break when we discovered mint leaves in my background. For some reason we got pretty excited about this discovery and thought we should go door-to-door 

      43 Delicious Side Dishes to Serve with Spaghetti

      43 Delicious Side Dishes to Serve with Spaghetti

      Since this easy spaghetti recipe is one of my most popular posts, I thought I’d follow it up with a post of the best sides to serve with spaghetti. These 43 recipes includes various salads, roasted and steamed veggies, soft pretzels (great for dipping in 

      24 Easy Dollar Tree Store Crafts for Kids

      24 Easy Dollar Tree Store Crafts for Kids

      When my daughters were younger, they both loved crafts — even very simple ones, like peeling off stickers and putting them on a piece of construction paper.

      We were always for craft supplies, craft kits, and art project ideas for them. But unfortunately, back then we didn’t realize what a great place the dollar store is for buying craft materials.

      Some craft supplies that you can find at the dollar store include:

      • Crayons, markers, pens
      • Artificial flowers
      • Craft foam
      • Ribbon
      • Craft moss
      • Tissue paper
      • Doilies
      • Googly eyes
      • Glitter glue
      • Popsicle sticks
      • Glue sticks
      • Paint trays
      • Pipe cleaners
      • Pom poms
      • Rope
      • Beads
      • Clothespins
      • Feathers
      • Posterboard
      • Construction paper
      • Acrylic paints
      • Watercolor paints

       

      Here are 24 easy crafts, all made with items that you can buy at your local dollar store — from craft supplies like pom poms and construction paper to household items like coffee filters, food coloring, and cupcake liners.

      Some of these craft projects can be completely made using only Dollar Tree items, while others might need a trip to another store as well.

       

      Easy Dollar Store Christmas Crafts for Kids

       

      Dollar Store Craft Ideas for Kids

       

      More Crafts that use Dollar Store Items

      Here are even more fun crafts that your kids will love.

       

       

      23 Best Open Ended Toys for Toddlers

      23 Best Open Ended Toys for Toddlers

      Isn’t toy shopping for your kids fun? I always think it is. But sometimes it can be overwhelming, or even confusing. There’s tons of stuff out there. And you don’t want to buy just any toy. You want a fantastic toy that’s high quality, lasts 

      18 Cause and Effect Toys for Babies & Toddlers

      18 Cause and Effect Toys for Babies & Toddlers

      When my son was a year old, we joked that his favorite toy with a light switch. But really, it wasn’t a joke at all. His favorite thing to do for a while was stand on a chair so he could reach the light switch, 

      15 Best Climbing Toys for Toddlers: 1, 2, and 3 Year Olds

      15 Best Climbing Toys for Toddlers: 1, 2, and 3 Year Olds

      We all know that toddlers have an endless supply of energy and curiosity. They love to explore and climb on everything within their reach.

      As parents, it can drive you crazy be challenging to keep up with their adventurous spirit, keep them out of things that they shouldn’t be into, and keep them safe, while still feeding that energy and curiosity.

      I did several hours of research to compile this list of the best climbing toys for toddlers that will keep them safely entertained and engaged while promoting their physical development.

      From foam blocks for babies and younger toddlers to outdoor obstacle courses to slides with basketball hoops attached, there’s something for all sizes and needs.

       

      Baoniu Foldable Climbing Triangle Ladder

      Baoniu Foldable Climbing Triangle LadderBaoniu Foldable Climbing Triangle LadderBaoniu Foldable Climbing Triangle Ladder

       

      This climbing set is made from high-quality eco-wood, making it very safe for kids to play on. It includes ladders on both sides, a climbing side, and a slide, providing lots of different ways to have fun.

      Assembly takes about 20 minutes, and an Allen key is included.

      Reviewers loved how this jungle gym was not only durable, but is also beautiful to look at, with the natural wood finish giving it it a classic look that’s way better that your typical bright-colored, plastic play equipment.

      Pros

      • The Baoniu climbing triangle set is made from 100% natural, BPA-free, non-toxic and odourless eco-wood, ensuring your child plays and grows in a safe environment.
      • With multiple modes of play, including ladders on both sides, a climbing side, and a slide, the Baoniu climbing triangle set provides endless hours of fun and excitement for your toddler.
      • The Baoniu climbing triangle set is easy to assemble, coming with fully detailed assembly instructions and tools, so you can assemble it in less than 20 minutes using the Allen key (included).

       

      Cons

      • The bridge in the set is quite thin and may not be as sturdy as the other pieces.
      • The knob on the triangle is small and may not be as easy to grip for some toddlers.
      • Some users have reported that the installation process can be time-consuming (and/or that the instructions were terrible) and may require some additional tools.

       

      Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing Tower

      Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing TowerEezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing TowerEezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing Tower

       

      This climbing tower is surprisingly lightweight and easy to assemble, making it easy to transport and set up in different places as needed.

      Amazon Vine Voice Sam B. gave an extremely thorough review of this toy:

      …. after looking at multiple dome-shaped climbers, we went with this one and we’re happy we did. For starters, the whole thing is pretty easy to set up.

      You get a big box of tubes and connectors with some instructions. The instruction booklet is laid out weird so I just tossed aside several of the pages until I found the assembly diagram – All of the connectors and tubes are labeled so you know exactly what tube goes where. Once you get the base tube sections assembled, it’s pretty intuitive from there. The instructions guide you through assembling the climber in chunks, then connecting those chunks to make the whole thing. I was worried that the climber would have some flex to it when fully assembled but by the time I was down to the last tube put on, I could tell that that wouldn’t be an issue …

      When looking around at other options, we took our kids to an outdoor equipment store and let them climb on everything. Though made of metal, the bigger domes had too large of a space between the bars to where our kids could’t climb to the top – this one is the perfect size for our kids right now and I can tell by the quality that it will last our kids for several years.

      PROS:
      – heavy-duty plastic components
      – easy assembly (aside from the stiff buttons)
      – all pieces are labeled so you know what goes where
      – easy to follow assembly diagram
      – great size for smaller kids – probably about 3 to 8-ish depending on how big they are – and even bigger kids can still have fun climbing under it as a “fort”.

      CONS:
      -Pins/buttons on the connectors can be stiff and hard to push down to get the tubes on
      -Stiff pins/buttons can lead to pinched fingers and subsequent swearing around children during assembly
      – The labels on the tubes are just stickers so if you have a destructive or OCD child, the stickers will be gone instantly and you won’t know what tube is what when you take it apart unless you sort the tubes by length.

      This thing was a hit with my kids at Christmas this year – they love climbing on it and throwing blankets over the top to make a fort. It’s big enough that my 45″ tall 5 year old can climb on it but small enough that it fits in our “family room” (aka kids playroom) downstairs …

      Note: If you do purchase this climbing tower, be sure to read this detailed review giving advice and several photos about the assembly process.

      Pros

      • Your child will enjoy endless fun and active playtime with this toy.
      • The interlocking plastic tubes and connectors with double self-locking springs make this set hard-wearing and tough.
      • The Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing Tower is made of high-quality plastic material that features UV protection for long-lasting outdoor play in the sun.

       

      Cons

      • Assembly is required.
      • Anchors are not included.
      • The size of the tower may not be ideal for larger families.

       

      4-Piece Set Climbing Foam Play Set

      4-Piece Set Climbing Foam Play Set4-Piece Set Climbing Foam Play Set4-Piece Set Climbing Foam Play Set

       

      The soft foam material on this toy is perfect for little ones to crawl, climb, and slide on, while the vinyl surface is easy to clean and maintain.

      Amazon reviewer Diana wrote a very thorough of her experience with this toy:

      I got these for my 13 mo but all my kids love them …

      The pros:

      • This is very sturdy!
        Four of my kids that weigh 70lbs, 65lbs, 40bs and 28lbs climb on it without it collapsing or caving under them. The foam is really thick and durable!
      • All the kids love this toy. Even the older ones! It also holds their attention for quite awhile before they run off to play with something else. But they come back to it soon after.
      • They are small enough to kind of stack in a corner if they are not being used. Also, they don’t take up a lot of space when they are being used.
      • The material is well made and isn’t cheap so it won’t fall apart I dont think! Also the foam fills the outer shell whatever that is made of! So there isn’t any gaps. I’ve seen some reviews on other products similar to this where that was an issue.

      Cons:

      • Doesn’t come with velcro. I put a playmat under them to stop them from slipping despite thr antislip base. I plan on buying velcro strips to hold them in place.
      • I wish it came with a few more things to climb on. I went back to buy more but they are out of stock with it saying they don’t know if or when they will get more. So I guess I have to wait to see.

       

      Pros

      • The soft foam material is safe for children to play on and provides a low-impact surface.
      • The vinyl surface is easy to clean and resistant to stains and wear.
      • The bright and colorful shapes stimulate children’s attention and promote the development of their coordination and color recognition skills.

       

      Cons

      • The foam blocks may not be as durable as other materials.
      • This toy might be too small for some family’s needs.
      • The foam blocks may have a strong odor when first opened.

       

      Costzon Wooden 3 in 1 Montessori Triangle Climber

      Costzon Wooden 3 in 1 Montessori Triangle ClimberCostzon Wooden 3 in 1 Montessori Triangle ClimberCostzon Wooden 3 in 1 Montessori Triangle Climber

       

      This Montessori climbing toy is made of 100% natural wood materials, making it not only safer, but also more environmentally friendly than sets made with plastic materials. The ramp for sliding can be firmly fixed into the climbing ladder without wobbling, and the burr-free surface, smoothly rounded corners, and raised edges help protect our child’s safety when they slide.

      Be sure the check the dimensions (the ramp is only 38.5 inches long and 15 wide) and make sure that it fits your needs. Somehow the photo makes it look bigger than it really is.

      Pros

      • The triangle climber uses 100% premium natural wood materials, making it safe and durable for kids to play with.
      • You can adjust the angle of the sliding ramp, so kids of different ages to play and slide safely.

       

      Cons

      • Some of the wooden dowels were warped and screws were missing, which made assembly more difficult.
      • The slide is smaller than it appears in the picture, so it might not be a good choice for older kids.
      • The screws are made from soft metal, so they may strip easily if not handled carefully during assembly.

       

      Click here to see photos of a happy little guy climbing around on this toy.

       

      CMFYDAILY Climbing BlocksCMFYDAILY Climbing BlocksCMFYDAILY Climbing Blocks

       

      This is a climbing toy and building toy in one, since toddlers can rearrange the colorful foam blocks
      to create imaginary worlds, buildings, and structures.

      Pros

      • The blocks are easy to assemble and rearrange in different configurations, stimulating your toddler’s creativity and imagination.
      • Made from high-quality foam material, CMFYDAILY climbing blocks are durable and long-lasting.
      • CMFYDAILY climbing blocks are certified safe by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and comply with all safety standards.

       

      Cons

      • The blocks are smaller than expected.
      • The blocks slide around on hardwood floors.
      • The blocks do not have Velcro to hold them together.

       

      Avenlur Magnolia Waldorf Style Indoor Playground

      Avenlur Magnolia Waldorf Style Indoor PlaygroundAvenlur Magnolia Waldorf Style Indoor PlaygroundAvenlur Magnolia Waldorf Style Indoor Playground

       

      This playground (which is designed for kids ages 2-6 years old) offers a mini rock climbing wall, Swedish slide, monkey bars, rope ladder, wood ladder, and swing.

      Amazon Reviewer RBJ what they liked and disliked about this toy, plus some advice;

      Pros:

      1. My boys (18 m & 2yr) love it!!!
      2. Easy to put together. Not sure what happened with the people who had trouble, but I just followed the directions and it took me about 3 hours.
      3. Feels very sturdy.

      Cons

      1. Swing is trash. I got jungle gym rings to hang instead of the swing.
      2. Padding! I know they are coming out with padding like seen in the ad soon. But there is padding that is needed around the slide. If you have the slide set up where it goes through the jungle gym, your kids WILL hit their heads as they slide down.
      3. The rock wall pieces hurt. They are so hard.
      4. Don’t wear socks. I only let my sons climb with bare feet or with shoes on. Your asking for an emergency room visit if you let them climb with just socks. Slippery!

       

      Pros

      • The playground offers a variety of motor skill activities that keep children entertained for hours.
      • The sturdy construction and low ground design make it easy for children to play and explore safely.
      • Made from top-quality varnished wood, the playground is built to last for years to come.

       

      Cons

      • The swing’s placement doesn’t allow for much movement with the slide in place.
      • It can be difficult to assemble at first.
      • Some parents have reported concerns about the size of the top bars.

       

      Step2 Panda Climber: Outdoor Toddler Activity Playset

      Step2 Panda Climber: Outdoor Toddler Activity PlaysetStep2 Panda Climber: Outdoor Toddler Activity PlaysetStep2 Panda Climber: Outdoor Toddler Activity Playset

       

      This toy’s crawl-through tunnel, archway, fun slide, and stairway holes provide lots of opportunities for imaginative play, while the large platform level with a rail ensures added safety during playtime.

      The manufacturer says this toy is only intended for outdoor use, but there were plenty of reviewers who said they had it set it up indoors, so take that for what it’s worth.

      Amazon reviewer Mommy2Lillybug claims this is the best slide/climbing toy out there for kids aged 18 months through 3 years old:

      … I researched a few other models, but ended up deciding on this one because of the curved yellow bar that snaps into the back of the climber, helping to enclose it and hopefully prevent falls

      Assembly was not bad, most of the pieces snapped together like a giant puzzle. It did take a little work to get one of the side pieces snapped into the standing platform, but keep in mind that these things are all manufactured in plastic molds, so the edges are not always going to be perfect. It popped in after some force was put forth … It’s your standard step by step list of pictures, with the parts labled A, B, C, D and so on. The screws were all included, and there were spots to screw them in, but no actual predrilled holes, so be prepared to put some muscle behind your screwdriver, or use an electric one.

      We currently have this in our living room, and our living room is not large by any means. My daughter loves this thing, she climbs up it and goes down the slide all day long. She likes to put her pillows and stuffed animals in the little hidey hole underneath and crawl in there with them

      Pros

      • The large platform level with a rail provides added safety during playtime.
      • The crawl-through tunnel, archway, fun slide, and stairway holes offer plenty of creative climbing adventures.
      • The durable poly construction wipes clean easily and lasts for years.

       

      Cons

      • Assembly can be a bit tricky and time-consuming.
      • The ladder steps may be challenging for younger children.

       

      Jugader 2X50ft Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course for Kids

      Jugader 2X50ft Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course for KidsJugader 2X50ft Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course for KidsJugader 2X50ft Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course for Kids

       

      This kit includes everything you need to create a complete ninja warrior obstacle course, including monkey bars, rope ladder, gym rings, and more. In addition, the slackline can also be used as a zipline, providing even more fun for your little ones.

      One of the best things about this course is the unfixed clips with attachments position adjustment, which make it easy to customize the course to match the age and skill level of your child. The ratchet straps also make it easy to tension the line and ensure a secure and stable course.

       

      Click here to see a photo of 5 kids all enjoying this obstacle course together.

       

      Pros

      • The kit includes everything you need for a complete ninja warrior obstacle course, including monkey bars, rope ladder, gym rings, and more.
      • The slackline can also be used as a zipline, providing even more fun for your little ones.
      • The unfixed clips with attachments position adjustment make it easy to customize the course to match the age and skill level of your child.
      •  

        Cons

        • The installation process can be a bit tricky and may require some assistance.
        • The weight limit of 250 pounds may not be suitable for older children or adults.
        • The rough metal clip may wear down the line over time.

         

        Montessori Wooden Triangle Climbing Toy with Reversible RampMontessori Wooden Triangle Climbing Toy with Reversible RampMontessori Wooden Triangle Climbing Toy with Reversible Ramp

         

        The set includes two climbing triangles, a climbing cube, and two sliding boards that can be combined in different ways to create new challenges and games. The reversible ramp can be used as a climbing ladder or slide, adding even more variety to playtime.

        The high-quality wood material of the climbing toys is durable and sturdy, with paint, BPA-free construction We appreciated, and a smooth wood surface that keeps your kids from getting splinters. In addition, the triangular structure helps keep it stable.

        Not only are extra screws, a screw driver and an extra Allen wrench included to help with assembly, but even gloves are included. (Although something to note: one reviewer recommends using a screw gun instead.)

        That’s the good news about assembly. The bad news is that it could take you 45 minutes to assemble it, and you’ll probably need a helper, so be prepared to grab your spouse or your next-door neighbor.

        Pros

        • The set includes five different pieces that can be arranged in various combinations, providing endless possibilities for climbing, sliding, and balancing.
        • Made from 100% natural wood, the set is non-toxic, odorless, and environmentally friendly, ensuring your child’s safety and health.
        • The triangular structure of the climbing toys ensures stability and safety, and the smooth surface protects your child’s hands from injury.

         

        Cons

        • Assembly can take up to 40 minutes, and some parts may require two people to put together.
        • The set is quite large and may take up a significant amount of space in your home.
        • The weight limit of 150 pounds may not be sufficient for larger or older children.

         

        Toddler Playground Set with Basketball Hoop

        Toddler Playground Set with Basketball HoopToddler Playground Set with Basketball HoopToddler Playground Set with Basketball Hoop

         

        With this toy, kids can practice throwing and catching as well as climbing.

        Be aware that the ball is not included, so you’ll have to take care of that yourself. Also, some reviewers said that the assembly directions were terrible and difficult to understand, so brace yourself.

         

        One clever parent attached this slide to a ball pit! Click here to see the photo.

         

        Pros

        • Equipped with climbing ladder, slide, basketball hoop, telescope toy and football goal, providing a lot of fun and learning opportunities for kids.
        • Made of sturdy, non-toxic HDPE material that is built to last and can withstand kids’ rough play.
        • Comes with safety features like raised castle guardrail and a deepen texture on the ladder to prevent slipping, ensuring your child’s safety while playing.

         

        Cons

        • The ball is not included, which might be disappointing for some kids who were expecting it.
        • Some users have reported that the assembly instructions could be better.

        • The price might be a bit expensive for some families.

         

        Step2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center Playset

        Step2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center PlaysetStep2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center PlaysetStep2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center Playset

         

        This toy has a 3-in-1 design that provides plenty of activities to keep your little one entertained, including a basketball hoop, soccer goal, and tethered baseball bat. The extra-wide step and slide also help your toddler practice their balance and coordination.

         

        You can see from this photo that it’s also a great toy for puppies!

         

        Pros

        • The 3-in-1 design provides multiple activities for your toddler to enjoy.
        • It’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

        • The built-in storage makes it easy to keep everything organized.

         

        Cons

        • It’s a bit small, so it may not be suitable for larger toddlers.
        • The basketball hoop can be a bit wobbly.
        • The baseball bat tether is a bit short, so your toddler may have trouble hitting the ball.

         

        Action air Bounce House, Inflatable Bouncer with Air Blower

        Action air Bounce House, Inflatable Bouncer with Air BlowerAction air Bounce House, Inflatable Bouncer with Air BlowerAction air Bounce House, Inflatable Bouncer with Air Blower

         

        The Action Air Bouncer is a great gift for toddlers and children. It’s perfect for indoor and outdoor use and can fit multiple children with a maximum weight of 250 pounds.

        Pros

        • The jumping area is surrounded by three sides of mesh safety netting to protect children from falling while jumping.
        • The bouncer is extra thick and has a large jumping area, which encourages major motor skill coordination in children.
        • Set-up and take down is easily done in under 3 minutes, making it portable and perfect for the park, garage, backyard, etc.

         

        Cons

        • The product requires constant air flow, which can result in air leakage from all the seams.
        • The blower is included, but it can be noisy.
        • The bouncer isn’t for young toddlers; only kids 3 years old and up.

         

        Simplay3 Young Explorers Adventure Climber

        Simplay3 Young Explorers Adventure ClimberSimplay3 Young Explorers Adventure ClimberSimplay3 Young Explorers Adventure Climber

         

        This playset (which was the winner of the 2019 Parents’ Choice Award) It’s great for both indoor and outdoor play, and it’s even small enough to fit through a standard door frame. The extra wide slide provides a more secure ride for toddlers and young children, while the easy grip side rails make it easy to climb up the ladder and onto the two-tiered platform. The crawl-through round doors lead to a secret fort with a steering wheel for pretend driving fun.

        One really cool thing about the Simplay3 Young Explorers Adventure Climber (especially is you have plenty of space to work with) is that it’s part of a Modular Play System. Each playset can be enjoyed by itself or combined with other sets (like this clubhouse) to build a bigger playset.

         

        Click here to see a photo of this playset in a family’s living room.

         

        Pros

        • Winner of the 2019 Parents’ Choice Award.
        • Indoor or outdoor playset.
        • Durable construction.

         

        Cons

        • Assembly required.
        • May be too small for older children.
        • Some parts may not fit together perfectly.

         

        Toddler Jungle Gym Play Tent with Ball Pit Tents and Tunnels

        Toddler Jungle Gym Play Tent with Ball Pit Tents and TunnelsToddler Jungle Gym Play Tent with Ball Pit Tents and TunnelsToddler Jungle Gym Play Tent with Ball Pit Tents and Tunnels

         

        Do your kids love ball pits, but you hate all the germs of public play places? Not a problem! This ultra-durable and lightweight playset, made the soft polyester fabric and thick steel wiring, includes a ball pen (but not the balls; you have to buy those yourself).

        Pros

        • The bright and vibrant colors of this playset will keep your child engaged and entertained for hours.
        • The target dart wall with four safe sticky dart balls included adds a new level of fun to the playset.
        • The entire play jungle gym pops up and opens in seconds, making assembly and storage a breeze.

         

        Cons

        • The ball pit balls are not included, so you will need to purchase them separately.
        • This playset is not recommended for use on hard surfaces like concrete or pavement.
        • The plastic balls can come out near the tunnel pretty easily.

         

        Little Tikes Hide and Seek Climber

        Little Tikes Hide and Seek ClimberLittle Tikes Hide and Seek ClimberLittle Tikes Hide and Seek Climber

         

        This toy is Amazon’s Choice in the category of “Little Tikes Outdoor Playsets.”

        It includes an easy climbing rock wall, gentle slope slide, and crawl tunnel and hideout.

        However, be sure to pay close attention to the dimensions. The “climbing wall,” for instance, is barely over a foot high, and the slide height is just under 20 under inches.

        Pros

        • The easy climbing rock wall and gentle slope slide are perfect for beginners.
        • The crawl tunnel and hideout add an extra element of excitement.
        • The sturdy construction ensures that it can be used both indoors and outdoors.

         

        Cons

        • The climbing wall may be too short for taller toddlers.
        • The steps leading up to the slide may be difficult for younger toddlers to navigate.
        • The product may not be as durable as other climbing toys on the market.

         

        Would you rather build your own climbing toy?
        Learn how to make a DIY Climbing Arch here.

         

        Climbing Toy FAQs

        What are the Benefits of Climbing Toys

        Here are some of the key benefits of climbing toys for toddlers:

        • Physical development: Climbing toys help toddlers to develop their gross motor skills, balance, coordination, and strength.
        • Cognitive development: Climbing toys can also help toddlers to develop their problem-solving and spatial awareness skills. As they navigate the climbing structure, they learn to plan their movements and make decisions about how to move from one point to another.
        • Emotional development: When a child successfully climbs to the top of a structure or overcomes a challenging obstacle, they feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.
        • Social development: While climbing, children can learn to take turns, share, and communicate with others as they play together on the climbing structure.

         

        Are Toddler Climbing Toys Safe?

        They’re a lot more safe that having your 2 and 3 year old trying to climb your furniture!

        Seriously, though — yes, toddler climbing toys can be very safe — if they are designed, installed, and used properly. Here are some key safety considerations:

        Age-appropriate design: Make sure that the climbing toy is designed specifically for toddlers and is appropriate for their age and developmental level.

        Sturdy construction: The climbing toy should be sturdy and well-constructed, with no sharp edges or corners that could cause injury.

        Safe materials: The materials used in the climbing toy should be non-toxic and free from harmful chemicals.

        Proper installation: If the climbing toy is installed outdoors or indoors, make sure it is installed properly and securely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and ensure that the toy is anchored firmly to the ground or wall.

        Supervision: Always supervise your toddler when they are playing on the climbing toy. Be ready to intervene if they are in danger or need help.

         

        At what age should a toddler start climbing?

        Toddlers can start climbing as early as 9-12 months old. At this age, climbing may involve pulling themselves up onto low surfaces such as a sofa or chair. As they get older and more mobile, they may start climbing on furniture or other objects around the house.

        Of course, it’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace. One of my children was walking at 9 months, while my youngest didn’t walk until he was almost 18 months.

         

      The Best Rain Ponchos & Jackets for Disney World

      The Best Rain Ponchos & Jackets for Disney World

      If you’re planning a trip to Disney World (especially during the summer months), you might be so concerned about the heat that you forget about the rain. But the truth is, it’s very likely that you’ll get at least a little rain — if not 

      What to Wear to Universal Studios — Best Shoes & Outfit Ideas

      What to Wear to Universal Studios — Best Shoes & Outfit Ideas

      The last thing you want during your vacation to Universal Studios Orlando is for you (or your spouse or kids) to be uncomfortable. Wearing shoes that hurt, socks that cause blister, or anything that’s inappropriate for the weather is no fun. And Florida weather can 

      What to Bring to Universal Studios Orlando (Must-Haves & Bag Policy)

      What to Bring to Universal Studios Orlando (Must-Haves & Bag Policy)

      My daughter Rebecca and I just came back from our first visit to Universal Studios in Orlando. As usual, I did some right and some things not-so-right, so I thought my first post about the trip should be about what to pack and what to bring into the parks.

      I’m not going to include a complete packing list of very basic vacation packing, like toothpaste, bathing suits, and underwear, but rather items you should have for theme parks in general, and Universal specifically.

      You’ll also learn what to bring into the parks, why the answer is somewhat different than what you should bring into the Disney parks, and what to wear depending on the season.

      What to Bring into the Parks

      Before I give you a long list of what you should put in your Universal Park backpack, let me start out by saying:

      *Don’t* bring a backpack into the Universal Parks.

      That may sound crazy at best and impossible at worst (especially if you’re going with young children, which I did not), so I’ll modify if to say:

      Bring as little into the Universal parks with you as possible, and avoid bringing a bag if you can.

      Why?

      Before I answer that, let’s look specific at the Universal Studios bag policy:

      Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood Bag Policy (from their conditions of entry and policies and restrictions)

      • All bags, backpacks, purses, packages and items are subject to X-ray and/or additional inspection prior to entering CityWalk or the Theme Park(s)
      • NO suitcases and bags with wheels
      • NO hard-sided coolers
      • NO soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5″ wide X 6″ high X 6″ deep

       

      So back to my question: Why should you avoid bringing a bag into the Universal parks?

      Because one of the differences between Universal and Disney is that many of the thrill rides at Universal require you to put your bag/backpack/whatever in a locker.

      The first day I brought a small backpack and it was kind of annoying to walk up to the ride, be told I had to put my bag in a locker, go get a locker, go back to the ride, then get off the ride, walk back to the lockers.

      Person with Loungefly mini backpack
      I love this Loungefly mini backpack, but it was a pain to keep having to put it into lockers

       

      Plus if you do what I did and think, “Oh, this next ride is right over here; I’ll just ride this too and then go get my backpack,” you’ll be charged $3 when you do go back to the locker. You’re only allowed too store your stuff in a free locker for the duration of one ride.

      Even worse, if your backpack is any bigger than mine, you won’t even be able to fit it into the free lockers, and will have to pay for a locker regardless.

      Locker Sizes at Universal Studios

      The standard-sized lockers that are while you ride are 14 by 5.5 by 16.9 inches.

      If your bag or backpack won’t fit in those, you can pay to rent a larger locker that is 12 by 13 by 16.9 inches.

       

      Rides Where Bags are Prohibited:

      • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
      • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
      • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
      • Revenge of the Mummy
      • Men in Black Alien Attack
      • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
      • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
      • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

       

      For the first 3 rides listed above, everything but your park ticket must be put in a locker. You’ll actually go through a metal detector before you enter the queue.

      For the last 5 rides on this list, you can have, say, your cell phone in your pocket. It’s also possible — although not guaranteed — that they’ll let you on with a fanny pack.

      So … all that to say that, if you can possibly pull it off, bring nothing into the park except for:

      • Hotel room key (not just for obvious reason, but also because you’ll need to show it for earl park admission if you’re staying on-site
      • Cell phone (you’ll want this for checking wait times for rides, placing mobile orders for food, and, of course, taking fun photos to instantly post on social media
      • Credit cards
      • Park ticket

      Some people like to wear a lanyard like this one to easy keep their cards handy without needing a bag or wallet.

      Marvel Comic Book LanyardMarvel Comic Book LanyardMarvel Comic Book LanyardMagical Wizard Lanyard with ID Badge Holder (2 Pack)Magical Wizard Lanyard with ID Badge Holder (2 Pack)Magical Wizard Lanyard with ID Badge Holder (2 Pack)Harry Potter Hedwig ID Lanyard Badge HolderHarry Potter Hedwig ID Lanyard Badge HolderHarry Potter Hedwig ID Lanyard Badge Holder

       

       

      So here’s a fun story of what not to do:

      I got all cocky that my park ticket was on my phone and I could use my resort key to buy things, and thought, “Ha! I don’t even need my wallet at all!”

      Well, I almost was sent back to our hotel at rope drop the first morning because they needed my ID for me to pick up my Express Pass.

      No, I didn’t even have a photo of it on my phone.

      Yes, that was super dumb of me.

      Fortunately, they reluctantly let me in because I was able to tell them my address and phone number. (And probably because they could see how panic-y I was getting.

      Then when I entered the park, the little machine couldn’t register my fingerprint for some reason, and the cast team member said, “Okay, I’ll just need to see your ID.”

      So for the second time in 10 minutes, I had to say, “Uh .. duh … I don’t have my ID.”

      Fortunately, they let me in and just told me to bring it next time.

      So yes — bring your ID and your credit card, just in case!

      Pro Tip:
      If you stay in a Universal Resort Hotel, you can have stuff that you buy in the gift shops sent back to your hotel so you don’t have to carry a bag around all day.

      However, it takes about 2-3 days for it to arrive. If your vacation ends before then, ask if you can pick it up at the big Universal Studio Store in CitiWalk, just outside the parks.

       

      Okay … so now that I’ve just told you to bring almost nothing into the parks … here’s my list of what you should bring into the parks.

       

      Comfortable Shoes

      Universal Studios Orlando Park

      Be prepared for a lot of walking. (We clocked in at about 9 miles each day).

      I suggest you visit my post on the most comfortable shoes for Disney World for a really deep dive on great shoe options, but I’ll give you some brief tips here as well.

      My daughter Rebecca (who, as you can see, is extremely stylish and into punk rock) was excited to be wearing her new Doc Martens combat boots on our trip, but she ended up with blisters on her feet.

      So don’t wear those. (Not that you were going to.)

      I normally wear Merrell sandals when I go to Disney World. No, they’re not the cutest things in the world, but they’re comfortable, go decently with either shorts or a sundress, and I like not having to worry about sweaty or soggy socks.

      If you want a cuter (and less expensive) sandal, I would recommend the Sanuk Yoga Sling. They’re very popular among female theme park travelers. Unfortunately, my feet just say, “Nope!” whenever I try them, which is unfortunate, because I do like how they look.

      On our Universal trip, I brought my Merrells as usual. However, since it was both cold and rainy, and I knew that my feet would be unhappy in sandals.

      Instead, I wore my Bob sneakers, which I’d worn on the drive down to Florida, simply because they were the other only shoes I had with me.

      And I’m happy to report that they were quite comfortable and held up well to 9 miles of walking. I particularly liked how lightweight they were for a sneaker.

      Sanuk Women's Yoga Sling 2 Flip FlopSanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Flip FlopSanuk Women's Yoga Sling 2 Flip FlopMerrell Women's Slide SandalMerrell Women’s Slide SandalMerrell Women's Slide SandalSkechers BOBS Women's Party SneakerSkechers BOBS Women’s Party SneakerSkechers BOBS Women's Party Sneaker

       

       

      Pro Tip:
      Since a lot of packing includes clothing choices, check out my post on What to Wear to Universal Studios.

       

      Portable phone charger

      While Rebecca’s phone battery just barely lasted the entire day, mine did not. (She told me that was because I kept getting on Facebook while we were on line.) Having no phone access is a Bad Thing, so make sure you bring a portable charger if you think there’s any possibility that you’ll need it.

       

      Reusable water bottle

      People often ask if you can bring a Hydroflask into the parks, and the answer is yes. You can refill them at the park water fountains.

      Again, since space and the size of your bag is a bit of an issue at Universal, you might want to check out these collapsible silicone water bottles that won’t be as bulky.

       

      Small snacks

      I’m one of those annoying people who regularly does Intermittent Fasting (yes, even while on vacation), and I can easily go at least four hours at the parks without eating anything.

      However, most normal people don’t wish to do this, so you’ll probably want to pack your own food in case you get hungry while waiting in line.

      If you really want to go all-out and pack your own lunch in a small cooler, check out my post on the best soft coolers for theme parks.

      Some ideas for snacks include:

      • Chips
      • Granola Bars
      • Crackers
      • Trail Mix
      • Yogurt
      • Fruit Roll-Ups
      • Cookies
      • Carrot & cucumber sticks
      • Raisins & other dried fruit
      • Apples
      • Bananas
      • Rice cakes
      • Beef jerky
      • Applesauce Packs (don’t forget to pack spoons!)

       

      Wet Wipes

      You’ll need these after eating al the applesauce and chips. Bring extra if you have kids.

       

      Change of Clothes

      This may seem like crazy overkill — and frankly, I rarely do it myself — BUT there is a lot of “wet stuff” at Islands of Adventure. (And if you ride Jurassic Park River Adventure, you’re guaranteed to get good and wet.)

      If you know that you (and/or your kids) will be unhappy walking around in wet clothes, then pack some extras — or at least extra socks.

       

      Jurassic Park River Adventure in Universal Studios Orlando

       

      Plastic Bags

      This is for holding your granola bar wrappers, used wet wipes, and wet clothes.

       

      Hand Sanitizer

      Even if you have pack lots of wet wipes, I still think hand sanitizer is good to have on hand, especially in a place where there are tons of people and you’ll eventually be eating.

       

      Lip Balm

      Whether it’s from the wind or the heat, your lips might get chapped from being outside in the Florida weather all day. It can also protect your lips from the sun. Here’s a good lip balm with SPF that my dermatologist recommended.

       

      Sunscreen

      I have skin that is extremely sun sensitive. Here are the ones my dermatologist recommended:

      EltaMD UV Broad Spectrum SPF 50 SunscreenEltaMD UV Broad Spectrum SPF 50 SunscreenEltaMD UV Broad Spectrum SPF 50 SunscreenBlue Lizard Sunscreen for Sensitive SkinBlue Lizard Sunscreen for Sensitive SkinBlue Lizard Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

       

       

      Sunglasses and/or a Hat

      This wasn’t an issue for us since we barely saw the sun during our entire trip, but normally you’ll want at least one of these.

       

      Rain poncho, rain jacket, or umbrella

      Yes, you can bring an umbrella to the parks, and we saw several people using them. In fact, I kinda wished that I had one instead of these disposable ponchos, which are not only annoying, but still allowed my arms to get all wet.

      You can read about good travel umbrella options here.

       

      Travel-Size First Aid Kit

      This is something else that I never pack myself, but a lot of people recommend it, and sure, it sounds smart.

      This one is very highly rated and is waterproof. Even if you don’t bring it to Universal, it’s probably not a bad idea to keep in the car for Life in General, especially if you family does a lot of outdoorsy things. Among other things, it contains cotton gauze, cotton swabs, an emergency blanket, a whistle, tweezer, and bandages of various shapes and sizes.

      Even though I never pack a first aid kit, I do always bring a pain killer, though, which I would particularly recommend if you’re planning on riding The Incredible Hulk Coaster. And Band-aids are easy to pack and might come in handy, especially if your daughter wears their Doc Marten combat boots and later asks you for a band-aid for her feet.

       

      Motion Sickness Medication

      These’s a lot of rides at Universal that can make you motion sick, which is why my husband did not come with us on this trip. Bring this if you think you might need it. You know who you are.

       

      Prohibited Items at the Parks

      Here’s what you can’t bring into the park, courtesy of UnderCover Tourist:

      • Glassware or glass containers
      • Open containers or drinks containing alcohol
      • Hard-sided coolers
      • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5″ wide x 6″ high x 6″ deep
      • Picnic lunches, or any food that requires heating or refrigeration
      • Folding chairs
      • Any type of explosive, weapon, item that can be used as a weapon or has the appearance of a weapon
      • Marijuana, or any item containing cannabis or related paraphernalia
      • Illegal items or substances
      • Clothing likely to create a danger, incite a disturbance or displaying offensive language or content
      • Clothing or accessories that represent someone as emergency personnel
      • Power-driven devices such as Segways (ADA mobility devices are fine), hoverboards, drones or any other radio frequency-controlled device
      • Selfie sticks are permitted at Universal’s discretion but must be properly secured and not in use on any rides or attractions
      • Any other items Universal personnel deem to be inappropriate, disruptive or harmful
      •  

        What to Pack for the Winter Months

        Orlando can be surprisingly cold in the winter, especially in the evenings.

        Our trip was during the week of Thanksgiving, and we wore long pants and jackets the entire time. One evening I wore ear muffs and two shirts, plus a jacket, which Rebecca wore two pairs of pants and a warm hat. You might not have the same experience, but definitely be prepared for cold weather and bring clothes that you can layer!

        The Simpsons Men's HoodieThe Simpsons Men’s HoodieThe Simpsons Men's HoodieLisa Simpsons Long Sleeve ShirtLisa Simpsons Long Sleeve ShirtLisa Simpsons Long Sleeve ShirtMarvel Avengers Boys’ Pullover HoodieMarvel Avengers Boys’ Pullover HoodieMarvel Avengers Boys’ Pullover HoodieMarvel Spider-Man Toddler Boys FleeceMarvel Spider-Man Toddler Boys FleeceMarvel Spider-Man Toddler Boys Fleece

         

         

        What to Pack for the Summer Months

        It’s not a bad idea to bring a light jacket (especially one that’s good for rain) even during the summer.

        However, for the most part, your main concern will probably be how to stay cool. Instead of making this post longer than it needs to be, I’ll refer you to some other posts I’ve already written. Even though they’re about Disney World, the same principles apply.

         

        FAQs — Packing for Universal Studios

        Here are some quick answers to common questions about what to bring to Universal Studios:

        Do you need a backpack at Universal?

        Technically, no you do not need a backpack at Universal Studios. You could put your ID and phone in your pocket and be good to go.

        However, most people have something additional they want to bring into the parks, whether it’s sunscreen, water, or things that their kids need.

        If you really need a bag, a small backpack or fanny pack is best.

        (Don’t worry, fanny packs are less icky these days than they used to be, and some are actually pretty fashionable.)

         

        Are fanny packs allowed on rides at Universal Studios?

        Yes, you can wear a fanny pack on almost every ride at Universal Studios.

        The Incredible Hulk, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, and Velocicoaster will not allow any items on the ride, including cell phones or fanny packs. There are free lockers nearby for storing those items.

         

        How big are the free lockers at Universal?

        Free lockers that 9.5” wide x 11.5” high x 17” deep are outside certain attractions and are available for a limited amount of time while you ride.

         

        What do you do with your backpack while on rides at Universal?

        For most rides, you can put your backpack down by your feet.

        However, there are several thrill rides that don’t allow backpacks. For those, you’ll need to store your backpack in a free standard-sized locker, which is 14 by 5.5 by 16.9 inches.

        If your backpack doesn’t fit in the standard-sized locker, you can pay to store it in a larger locker.

         

        Can you bring outside food into Universal Studios?

        Yes, you can bring food and drinks into the Universal Studios parks, although there are some limitations.

        Bottled water up to 2 liters, small snack, food required for special dietary needs or medical needs, baby food and formula, and soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep are all allowed.

        You can’t bring alcohol (or marijuana), glass containers, open containers, large coolers, hard-sided coolers, or anything with wheels attached.

         

        What can you not wear at Universal?

        Universal guests must be fully clothed, including shoes and shirts. Coverings that fully or partially obscure a person’s face aren’t allowed, unless it’s required by Universal or for religious or medical reasons.

         

        Can I wear jeans to Universal Studios?

        Sure, you can wear jeans to Universal Studios. I did, and it was fine. But depending on the weather, jeans might not be very comfortable. You might want to consider shorts, a sundress, or even leggings instead.

         

        Can I wear crop tops to Universal?

        Wearing a crop top at Universal is fine as long as it doesn’t have any offensive language or anything that could cause a disturbance on it.

         

        What Do You Pack for Universal Studios?

        What are your must-haves for Universal Studios? Do you bring a bag into the parks, or just pack extra light?

        Do you have a favorite theme park shoe?

        Are you Team Umbrella, Poncho, or Rain Jacket?

        Let us know below in the comments!

        Ultimate Packing List for Universal Studios Orlando - Heading to Universal Studios Orlando theme park after vacationing at Disney World? Here are the essentials for your packing list. Includes best shoes, rain ponchos and jackets, backpacks, and cooling towels. Plus what to wear to Universal Studios in the winter and in the summer.

         

         

         

         

        Jebediah Springfield statue at Universal Studios Orlando

      6 Restaurants with Princess Character Dining at Disney World

      6 Restaurants with Princess Character Dining at Disney World

      If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the not-too-distant future, and really have your heart set on a character dining experience with some princesses, I have some bad news for you. At the time of this writing (November 2022), almost none of 

      Best Epcot Rides & Attractions for Adults

      Best Epcot Rides & Attractions for Adults

      I often see posts online where people ask if it’s “worth it” for adults to go to Disney World without any kids. Um … yes! Honestly, one of the best trips I had was when I went to Disney World with a friend of mine. 

      Storage for Stuffed Animals: Mesh Hanging, Chains & Hammocks

      Storage for Stuffed Animals: Mesh Hanging, Chains & Hammocks

      If you have as many stuffed animals as we do, you need some good storage ideas for them.

      One thing that I’ve found to be an extra challenge about stuffed animals is that new ones come in … but the old ones rarely leave.

      The stuffed Corduroy Rachael fell in love with when she was four, Benjamin’s Woofie he got from his Grandma when he just a few days old, and Rebecca’s entire collection of Friends, most of them huge … they’re not going anywhere.

      They’re all here to stay, unlike the other toddler and preschool toys and board games that have gotten sold or donated over the years.

      They’re all part of the family.

      So it’s easy to accumulate a lot of stuffed animals, and storing them is always a challenge. Here are five different options that look promising and received good reviews.

       

      Mesh Hanging Storage for Stuffed Animals

      Mesh hangers are nice because you can still see all your stuffed friends, and they’re up out of the way, instead of taking up half your floor or shelf space. Here are a few options:

       

      Mesh over the Door Holder

      Over Door Stuffed Animal Hanging OrganizerOver Door Stuffed Animal Hanging OrganizerOver Door Stuffed Animal Hanging Organizer

       

      You’ve got a door, so you might as well use for storage, right?

      This hanging organizer comes in six different colors (black, white, blue, grey, pink, and teal). It has four mesh pockets (the bottom pocket is the largest), so your stuffed animals aren’t all in one huge, jumbled mess.

      Reviewers loved that this held a huge amount of stuffed animals and could also accommodate very big stuffed animals.

      However, there was an issue that some reviewers had with the hooks. Watch this short video to see what the problem is and how to fix it.

       

      Hanging Mesh Teddy Bear Hammock

      MiniOwls Toy Hammock for Stuffed AnimalsMiniOwls Toy Hammock for Stuffed AnimalsMiniOwls Toy Hammock for Stuffed Animals

       

      This hammock comes in nine different colors, including a “rainbow” color and a “unicorn” color.

      Two sizes are available:

      • Large: 70 x 46 x 46 inches
      • X-Large: 74 x 56 x 56 inches

      Amazon reviewer Kimberly Valadez had some suggestions about where to drill the holes for hanging:

      … The video instructions say to go down 22” from the ceiling. This might be okay if you’re only doing 1 net, but I put two in the same corner.

      I did 13” down from the ceiling and I wish I had done anywhere between 8” and 10” as it droops down a lot as you start filling it. I placed the second set of holes for the second one down 12” from the top one, but they are too close together. If I had gone up closer to the ceiling, a good space between the top and bottom holes going down would be 15”-17” to place the second one …So I had to put larger stuffies on the top one and smaller ones on the bottom one. It still looks great and works.

      Also the drill bit I used to make the holes was 3/16.

       

      If you want a really cool look, you can add these unicorn string lights!

       

      IKEA Mesh Hanging Storage with 6 Compartments

      5-Tier Mesh Hanging Organizer5-Tier Mesh Hanging Organizer5-Tier Mesh Hanging Organizer

       

      This is kind of like giving your stuffed animals their own 5-story apartment building to live in. It easily attaches to a closet rod, although you could be creative and find other places to hang it from.

      Be aware that if you put lots of animals in here, it starts to stretch and sag.

       

      One reviewer discovered that this organizer worked a lot better if you hung it horizontally. Click here to see photos and a description of how they modified it.

       

      Mesh Hanging Storage Baskets

      3pcs Hanging Mesh Storage Baskets3pcs Hanging Mesh Storage Baskets3pcs Hanging Mesh Storage Baskets

       

      This is a set of 3 different hanging containers in 3 different bright colors. (Even though the photos show a yellow-ish container, reviewers say that it’s really green.)

      These hangers are a little shorter than 3 feet long, so by no means does it hang from the ceiling to the floor, or even close.

      However, they work well for segregating oodles of small stuffed animals. And for 3 containers, it’s quite a bargain.

      Another nice thing about this set is that the hanging containers also work well for other purposes. Some reviewers used it for a hanging laundry basket or as a place to store kids’ dress-up costumes.

      Others say it’s perfect for hanging dirty clothing while on a camping trip.

      Click here to see a photo of this basket hanging in a child’s closet.

       

      Video — How to Make a DIY Stuffed Animal Hammock

      Want to be adventurous and make your own hammock? This video shows you how!

       

      Hanging Basket Storage

      3-Tier Hanging Baskets3-Tier Hanging Baskets3-Tier Hanging Baskets

       

      Baskets are always pretty, and if you want something a little more decorative than mesh, this is a nice alternative. It could be on the wall or behind a door.

      As you can see, it wasn’t specifically designed for stuffed animals, so I’m kind of going out on a limb suggesting it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

      These baskets are foldable and machine washable. They come with over the door hooks. They have a depth of 7 inches and a width of 13.5 inches. Each basket can hold hold up to nine pounds.

       

      Over-the-Door Hanging Organizer

       

      Stuffed Animal Storage Zoos

      If you don’t like the idea of hanging storage, another possibility is a “stuffed animal zoo.”

      Because of their vertical design, they don’t take up much floor space.

       

      Wooden Stuffed Animal Zoo Storage

      Wooden Stuffed Animal Zoo StorageWooden Stuffed Animal Zoo StorageWooden Stuffed Animal Zoo Storage

       

      This animal zoo is made of engineered wood and measures 18 x 20 x 54 inches. It has a firm bottom, making it easy to re-position or even transport if needed.

      Reviewers liked how this zoo has a nice decorative look to it.

       

      PVCStuffed Animal Zoo

      Wooden Stuffed Animal ZooWooden Stuffed Animal ZooWooden Stuffed Animal Zoo

       

      This zoo is made with PVC and measures 60.6 x 21.8 x 13.7 inches.

      Reviewers liked how this “zoo” was quick and easy to assemble and that it was sturdy and well-balanced, so that it wouldn’t tip over easily.

      It’s worth noting that there’s no bottom — which is fine if it’s going to stay in the corner of your child’s bedroom. But if you plan to move it around a lot, it wouldn’t be a good choice, because the animals would keep falling out.

       

      Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bags

      Your stuffed animal friends are soft and fluffy. Why not put them to good use and have them be the stuffing of a soft bean bag chair?

       

      Creative QT Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag

      Creative QT Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag ChairCreative QT Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag ChairCreative QT Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag Chair

       

      This bean bag is available in twelve different designs, including ones with polka dots and stripes.

      The large size in 33 inches in diameter, and the extra-large is 38 inches.

      You wash put it in the washing machine on the gentle cycle, then hang it up to dry.

      Amazon reviewer was skeptical that this would be a good solution for her kids’ stuffed animal overpopulation issues, but was pleasantly surprised:

      … After I filled it with 80% of the kids’ stuffed animals, they brought me more and I said, “I don’t think they will fit.” But the kids insisted, so I tried, and much to my surprise and delight, they fit. They brought me more, and those fit, too. Then we zipped it up, and the kids all took turns jumping on it, jumping off it, curling up and taking a “nap,” and rolling it around their room like a boulder.

      Later that night, while their daddy read them bedtime stories, I plopped down on the stuffed-animal bean-bag chair and nearly fell asleep myself – it was certainly comfy even for my adult body.

      So we eagerly purchased a second one to fit the remaining few stuffed animals and some extra blankets.

      Pros:

      • Fits many, many stuffed animals.
      • Multi-functional storage – keeps floor clear of stuffies and also can be used as a bean-bag chair and in countless imaginative play scenarios.
      • Sturdier than I expected – looks like it would hold up to the wear and tear it will undergo.
      • Flap to cover zipper – looks nice, and discourages kiddos from playing with the zipper.

      Cons:

        Once filled, it’s pretty heavy. Although it is sturdy, I try not to haul it around by the handle just in case it were to rip out. Thankfully, the kids really do like rolling it around.

       

      Click here to see a photo of what an animal-filled bean bag looks like when you unzip it.

       

      Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag Chair

      Stuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag ChairStuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag ChairStuffed Animal Storage Bean Bag Chair

       

      If you find traditional bean bag too lumpy and awkward to actually sit on, you might prefer this longer design, which is more like a sort lounge chair.

      If you actually want your kids to use the chair for reading, watching TV, or maybe even sleeping, this would be the better choice.

      Amazon reviewer Brandi Williams looked at hundreds of these types of bean bags and is really glad that she picked this one:

      The fabric is so soft. The print is amazing … Seems like it’s not going to get too dirty too quickly. There is stretch to the fabric which is perfect because it conforms to the kids and the stuff inside. They are quite large, my 10 year old son can lay on them and not be hanging off. I’d say its probably the same size advertised online. But it stretches, so may be a little bigger after stuffing if.you want.

      Great for a 2 year old too, it’s like a cozy couch/lounge when watching TV, reading or playing quietly. Seems to be pretty durable as my 6 year old drug her’s from one room to the other by the loop and it didn’t get damaged. The zipper seems to be made well and works with ease … I’m incredibly happy, and so are the kids …

       

      MiniOwls Storage Teddy Toy Chain

      MiniOwls Storage Teddy Toy ChainMiniOwls Storage Teddy Toy ChainMiniOwls Storage Teddy Toy Chain

       

      Hanging toy chains are a nice option if you have less toys, smaller toys, and want to use minimal space.

      They’re also great if you want to always be able to see the stuffed animals, and not forget about them because they’re buried in a mesh net, hanging up in the closet, or inside a bean bag.

      This is a white chain that comes with twenty hooks.

      Click here to see a photo of how one mom puts Beanie Boos on the storage chain and bigger plush animals in a teddy hammock.

       

      DIY Stuffed Animal Storage Ideas

      DIY Hanging Animal Swing Set

      DIY Branch Swing Shelves

      Video — DIY No-Sew Stuffed Animal Storage Solution

       

      Video — Stuffed Animal Storage Hacks

       

       

      13 Best Quick Service Restaurants at Magic Kingdom

      13 Best Quick Service Restaurants at Magic Kingdom

      Are you planning a trip to Disney World soon and wondering about the best counter service locations at Magic Kingdom? There are plenty of different options throughout the park where you can a great meal and/or snack without needing reservations or spending much time before 

      Cute and Easy Animal Cupcakes

      Cute and Easy Animal Cupcakes

      When my girls were little, we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Sometimes the girls would sit on the counter and help me make dinner (mostly handing me things and pouring in stuff), and other times we would make “fun food,” like peanut 

      28 Edible Christmas Crafts for Kids [fun & easy!]

      28 Edible Christmas Crafts for Kids [fun & easy!]

      Many years ago, when my kids were babies and toddlers and I was researching the idea of homeschooling, I read a book that said that during the entire month of December you should just shelve the regular schoolwork and just do Christmas DIY projects and activities.

      I don’t know that we ever officially did that, but we certainly did follow the spirit of that idea.

      Making one or more of these 28 edible crafts is a great way for your family to get into the holiday spirit and spend quality time together. Many of them are simple enough that younger children can do them as well.

      And the best part is that your family will get to enjoy some super fun foods (preferably along with cups of hot cocoa with mini marshmallows!) during the Christmas season.

       

      23 Christmas party food crafts for kids parties

       

      Christmas Food Crafts for Kids

      Making these easy edible Christmas crafts are a great way for the entire family to spend the holiday season together.

       

       

      reindeer dessert Christmas treats

       

      Christmas marshmallow dessert ideas

       

      Santa food crafts for kids

       

      Christmas tree food ideas for kids

       

      Christmas tree pretzels and angel sandwich

       

      Nutter Butter snowman cookies
      10 Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Disney World

      10 Best Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Disney World

      If you’re heading to Walt Disney World for the first time, it’s very likely that you have some kids going with you. The good news is that there are a lot of kid-friendly restaurants in Disney World. And the bad news is that there are 

      12 Best Magic Kingdom Rides for Adults at Disney World

      12 Best Magic Kingdom Rides for Adults at Disney World

      Are you planning an adults-only Disney World trip and wondering if you should bother going to the Magic Kingdom? I get it. After all, it has a reputation for being the most kid-friendly Disney park. Maybe you’re wondering if you’d be bored — or worse, 

      16 Creative Alice in Wonderland Party Games and Ideas

      16 Creative Alice in Wonderland Party Games and Ideas

      As I mentioned in another post, I’ve always been an Alice in Wonderland fan. (Although I’m not particularly crazy about the Disney film. I don’t hate it or anything; it just doesn’t grab me.)

      Interestingly, my oldest daughter went through a phase when she was five where she pretended to be Alice. She wore a blue dress, then tied a white long-sleeve t-shirt around her waist to give the appearance of an apron.

      Then she’d go outside, ring the front doorbell, and say, “Hi! I’m Alice.”

      If you know a young Alice fan, they might want to have an Alice in Wonderland themed party. It’s a great party theme, what with there being a tea party and all.

      In this post you’ll discover several Alice party games and activities, plus some clever and delicious food and beverage ideas.

      The Queen’s Guard Giant Playing Cards

      The Queen’s Guard Giant Playing CardsThe Queen’s Guard Giant Playing CardsThe Queen’s Guard Giant Playing Cards

       

      The cool thing about a deck of cards is that there are so many different games you can play with them.

      These jumbo-sized Alice in Wonderland themed playing cards come with an instruction booklet with 16 card games.

      Because of their size and the illustrations on each card, they can also work great as decorations.

       

      The White Rabbit’s Scavenger Hunt

      The White Rabbit's Scavenger HuntThe White Rabbit’s Scavenger HuntThe White Rabbit's Scavenger Hunt

       

      This scavenger hunt game comes with metal keys that you can hide inside or outside of your house. (Or, if you prefer, you can hide treats or small toys instead.) Then kids get in teams and solve the riddles to find the hidden keys (or treats or toys).

       

      Disney Mad Tea Party Game

      Disney Mad Tea Party GameDisney Mad Tea Party GameDisney Mad Tea Party Game

       

      This simple balancing game is designed for ages 5 and up. You can play with just 2 players or as many as 10. The game takes about 20 minutes to play.

      There are 12 colorful teacups different sizes on an tilting tea party. Players take turns taking a card and following directions.

       

      Paint Your Own Mini Tea Set

      Paint Your Own Mini Tea SetPaint Your Own Mini Tea SetPaint Your Own Mini Tea Set

       

      I don’t know about you, but I love getting together with a few friends and painting some ceramics. It’s both fun and peaceful — plus you have a pretty decoration when you’re done!

      This ceramic tea set includes 13 pieces — a teapot, 4 cups and saucers, a sugar bowl and creamer. Brushes and paints are included as well.

       

      Caucus Race Game

      This is a great outdoor game from Simple Practical Beautiful. I particularly like it because it’s not an elimination game, where kids get “out” and then have to spend the rest of the game just standing there and watching.

      Spread a bunch of hula hoops on the ground (as many hoops as there are players) and then have everybody walk around in a circle while music plays. (It’d be fun to play The Caucus Race Song, although of course you could play any music that you like.)

      When the music stops, everyone needs to stand inside of a hula hoop. Then take away one hoop and do it again. Instead of someone being “out,” there will be two people inside one hula hoop.

      Keep eliminating hoops until everybody has to stand inside one hoop when the music stops!

      Alice in Wonderland Party Ideas

      NOTE: Featured image courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney.

      Alice in Wonderland Party Supplies

      8 Pcs Alice In Wonderland Honeycomb Centerpieces8 Pcs Alice In Wonderland Honeycomb Centerpieces8 Pcs Alice In Wonderland Honeycomb Centerpieces\Cupcake Stand Centerpiece\Cupcake Stand Centerpiece\Cupcake Stand CenterpieceAlice in Wonderland Party Vintage Style Arrow SignsAlice in Wonderland Party Vintage Style Arrow SignsAlice in Wonderland Party Vintage Style Arrow SignsAlice in Wonderlandnd Tablecloth, Plates, Cake Plates, Napkins, Cups, Forks & Party PlannerAlice in Wonderlandnd Tablecloth, Plates, Cake Plates, Napkins, Cups, Forks & Party PlannerAlice in Wonderlandnd Tablecloth, Plates, Cake Plates, Napkins, Cups, Forks & Party Planner

       

       

      Alice in Wonderland Party Ideas

      10 Advent Christmas Crafts and Activities for Kids (easy & fun!)

      10 Advent Christmas Crafts and Activities for Kids (easy & fun!)

      Everybody knows that the countdown to Christmas is at least as much fun as Christmas Day itself. An Advent Calendar is a great way to make that countdown tangible and create a daily routine that can turn into a great family tradition. These 10 crafts 

      22 November Fall Crafts for Kids (fun & easy!)

      22 November Fall Crafts for Kids (fun & easy!)

      You’re wearing your sweaters and jeans (and possibly coats, depending on where you live), drinking pumpkin spice lattes, cooking a lot of soup, and raking up the leaves. Yes, it’s November, and there are a ton of fun seasonal activities you can can do with 

      Alice in Wonderland Gift Ideas

      Alice in Wonderland Gift Ideas

      “You’re obsessed with Alice in Wonderland,” one of my daughters said to me a couple years ago.

      Well, I don’t think I’m obsessed, but I do have a particular fondness for the stories. (Yes, there are two separate stories that take place in two separate lands, despite what Disney would have you believe.)

      Maybe it’s because when I was in fifth grade, our chorus class put on a version of the Disney musical. (I was a card.) And it helped that one of my friends (who was also a card), gave me a lovely hardback cover book of both stories, which I still have today.

      I also just love some of the … language of it. How can you not love the poem “Jabberwocky”? When something exciting happens, I’ll sometimes actually say, “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

      If you know — or are — an Alice in Wonderland fan as well, check out these great gift ideas. Some feature Disney-themed Alice characters, and others have the classic images from the original books by Lewis Carroll.

       

      Funko Pop! White Rabbit with Watch

      Funko Pop! White Rabbit with WatchFunko Pop! White Rabbit with WatchFunko Pop! White Rabbit with Watch

       

      This vinyl white rabbit figurine is 3.5 inches tall and is super cute.

      You can also get a Funko Pop of:

      You can easily get an entire collection going!

       

      Disney Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Succulent Plant in Tea Cup

      Disney Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Succulent Plant in Tea CupDisney Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Succulent Plant in Tea CupDisney Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Succulent Plant in Tea Cup

       

      No, this figurine does not include a live plant, but it’s pretty neat and is sure to brighten up any desk, bookshelf, or counter.

      It’s authentic Disney Parks merchandise and stands 6 inches tall and 5 inches wide.

       

      Precious Moment “You’re the Queen of My Heart” Figurine

      Precious Moments Precious Moments “You’re The Queen of My Heart” Porcelain FigurinePrecious Moments

       

      We started a Precious Moments collection when we got married. They’re just so adorable, and there are so many to chose to from!

      This Precious Moments figurine of the Queen of Hearts playing croquet with her flamingo stands 5.5 inches tall.

       

      Disney Queen of Hearts Mug

      Disney Queen of Hearts MugDisney Queen of Hearts MugDisney Queen of Hearts Mug

       

      I kinda feel like you can never have enough mugs, at least as long as they’re fun mugs. (I currently have five Disney-themed mugs myself, and I’m sure that number will grow.)

      This red mug has a black handle and black interior. Great for fans of Disney villains.

       

      Loungefly Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Double Strap Shoulder Bag

      Loungefly Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Shoulder BagLoungefly Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Shoulder BagLoungefly Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Shoulder Bag

       

      The last time I went to Disney World I saw tons of these beautiful Disney-themed Loungefly bags and swore I would get one for our next trip.

      No, they’re not cheap. (Which is why I have about three of them in my Amazon cart but still haven’t pulled the trigger on any of them. But they’re easy to carry, easy to clean, and hold a good amount of stuff without being cumbersome.

      This tea party-themed shoulder bag measures 10.5 by 9 by 4.5 inches.

       

      Loungefly Disney Alice In Wonderland Floral Faux Leather Wallet

      Loungefly Disney Alice In Wonderland Floral Faux Leather WalletLoungefly Disney Alice In Wonderland Floral Faux Leather WalletLoungefly Disney Alice In Wonderland Floral Faux Leather Wallet

       

      You can also get an Alice-themed Loungefly wallet, either to match the above purse or just on its own.

      Made of faux leather, this wallet measure 8 by 4 by 1 inches and features several card slots, bill Slots, and an inner zipper coin pouch.

       

      Down The Rabbit Hole – Alice in Wonderland Themed Corn Hole Game

      Down The Rabbit Hole - Alice in Wonderland Themed Corn Hole GameDown The Rabbit Hole – Alice in Wonderland Themed Corn Hole GameDown The Rabbit Hole - Alice in Wonderland Themed Corn Hole Game

       

      Whether you’re planning an Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party or just want a game that’s fun for the entire family, you’ll love this beanbag/corn hole style game.

      It can be played either indoors or outdoors and includes 1 board and 4 small bags (2 hearts and 2 spades).

       

      Alice in Wonderland Themed Scavenger Hunt

      Alice in Wonderland Themed Scavenger HuntAlice in Wonderland Themed Scavenger HuntAlice in Wonderland Themed Scavenger Hunt

       

      Designed for ages 6 and up, this game includes 30 riddles to solve in order the find the metal keys that can be hidden inside and/or outside your house. (You could also choose to substitute the keys with treats, Easter eggs, or any other objects that you like.)

      This game is great for parties, holidays, or family game night.

       

      Alice in Wonderland and The Queen of Hearts Figurine

      Alice in Wonderland and The Queen of Hearts FigurineAlice in Wonderland and The Queen of Hearts Figurine