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8 Fun Disney Countdown Calendars and Activities

8 Fun Disney Countdown Calendars and Activities

Originally this post was going to be called “Ways to get your kids excited about your Disney trip,” which is sort of funny, if you think about it. As if most kids are sitting around lethargically complaining that they have to go to Disney World, […]

4 Etsy Printables You Need for Your Next Disney vacation

4 Etsy Printables You Need for Your Next Disney vacation

If you’re planning a trip to Disney World, you should really check out Etsy. They have some digital printable downloads that can make your vacation easier, less stressful — more fun! Here are four types of printables you don’t want to miss. They are cute, […]

6 Personalized Walt Disney Autograph Books that Kids Will Love

6 Personalized Walt Disney Autograph Books that Kids Will Love

The very first time we went to Disney World as a family, I debated whether we should spring for an autograph book. After all, if you think about it (although I usually try not to), it’s really just an employee in a suit who has worked really hard to perfect copying a signature. Do we really need that?

Well, “need” is a strong word, but the thing is, you really do want something tangible for when you meet and interact with the characters. Plus kids tend to love something that’s theirs to hold onto during the vacation and to keep track of how many characters they met so far, and who they have left to meet.

So yeah, it’s worth the money (or effort, if you want to make one), in my opinion.

I’d love to tell you that when my kids were little, we all sat around the kitchen lovingly crafting our own handmade Disney autograph books that I personally designed myself and that were unique and beautiful.

But nope. I’m just not that kind of mom (generally speaking).

We simply bought the albums when we were in the park. (Which, now that I’m thinking about it, was partly because I was torn over whether we “needed” them or not until we were actually there).

Click here to see the Official Walt Disney autograph book you can get at the parks.

If you want something prettier and more interesting than what we did, but for whatever reason don’t want to make your own, there are some really great personalized Disney autograph books on Etsy. Yes, it costs more money than what you would pay for an autograph book at the Disney Parks, but children love having something with their name on it (as do adults), and there are so many options that it’s easy to find one that best fits what you want.

This pen is great for getting autographs because the characters don’t have to fumble with a cap.

Here are my six favorite handmade autograph books on Etsy:

Gold Castle Glitter Book

Gold Castle Walt Disney Autograph Book
Personalized Gold Castle Autograph Book

This album is so pretty — and what little girl wouldn’t love a Disney autograph with their name in gold glitter on the cover?

The book cover is made from sturdy chipboard and is bound with a twin loop wire binding. The finished book measures 7 by 6 inches, which includes the binding.

The book in available in these three different options. And the seller, Jessica at Fairytale Trading Post, has fantastic customer service. She includes not only a personalized note with each book, but also a Sharpie marker!

 

Minnie Mouse Album with Three Charms

Minnie Mouse Autograph Album with Charms
Minnie Mouse Autograph Book with Charms

If you know a Minnie Mouse fan (like we have at our house), then this book is sure to be a hit. It’s in the shape of Minnie ears and comes with three charms, including one that can be personalized with any initial you like.

It comes with ten pages, but you can pay a little extra to have additional pages put it if you like.

The Etsy seller, Cinderella rags, also makes similar autograph albums with charms in the shapes of Cinderella, Goofy, and Woody from Toy Story.

 

 

Mickey Autograph Tote Bags

Mickey Autograph Cinch Totes
Mickey Autograph Cinch Totes

This cinch tote is for people who like to be both practical and a little different. Instead of having to worry about holding onto a book, worrying about not losing it, taking it in and out of your bag … why not just have your bag be the autograph album?

The tote bag can be personalized with both your child’s name and the year and comes in six different design choices.

The Etsy seller, GraphX Vinyl and More, also makes several Disney tees, including matching ones for couples.

 

Colorful Disney Journal

Colorful Autograph Journal

This is the perfect book for the young Disney traveler who will grow up to be a blogger someday. I would have loved this book when I was a kid. Instead of just being a collection of pages to collect autographs in, it’s larger than your typical autograph album and also has the option to also include lined pages with journal prompts and coloring pages with Disney characters.

The Etsy seller, Stop Drop and Journal, also makes autograph journals specifically for Christmas Disney trips, plus ones featuring Lightning McQueen and Mater, which my son would have loved. (Well … except for the fact that he doesn’t like to write and wasn’t very interested in seeing the characters. But he would have loved the Lightning McQueen and Mater part.)

 

Spiral-Bound Disney Adventure Book

Disney Adventure Book with Minnie Ears
Disney Adventure Book with Minnie Ears

Doncha hate it when you’re trying to write in a notebook and the front cover keeps bouncing back against your hand? That’s why I like this book — it’s spiral-bound, so you won’t have that problem! Also, the back cover is made of chipboard to give it a firm writing service. Double bonus!

I like this particular design because I like Minnie Mouse and the color pink, but Etsy seller Flamingo Road Journals makes these in a ton of different cover designs, including one specifically for Disney honeymoons and another for Animal Kingdom.

 

Disney Autograph Book with Photo Sleeves

Autograph Book with Photo Sleeves
Autograph Book with Photo Sleeves

I realized I’ve been choosing a lot of “girl” albums, so to even things out, here’s one that would work for boys (or girls). What I like about this Mickey autograph book is that is comes with photo sleeves. We used this type of book on one of our trips, and it’s nice to see easily see when you met the character alongside their autograph.

This is another book with one of those great spiral bindings, and you can customize it different ways to get the type and amount of pages that you want.

The Etsy seller, Sippin Sweet Tea, has over 200 different Disney autograph albums, including ones specifically for Disney cruises. In addition, she has over 100 different Disney shirts.

 

So, as you can see, there are lots of great choices for getting a beautiful, well-made, personalized autograph album for your kids’ trip to Disney World.


Personalized Walt Disney autograph books kids will love

Tusker House Restaurant Review

Tusker House Restaurant Review

“The best meal I have ever had at Disney World,” my eye doctor told me a couple years ago, “was breakfast at the Tusker House restaurant in Animal Kingdom.” Well, she should know. This is a woman in her mid-thirties who has been to Disney […]

Best Toy Garages for Toddlers

Best Toy Garages for Toddlers

This group of the best toy garages for toddlers make playing with cars extra fun, particularly for little boys, who in my experience are always fascinated with them. When my son Benjamin was very little, he loved toy cars and trucks more than anything else. […]

11 Fun and Unique Gifts for Book Lovers

11 Fun and Unique Gifts for Book Lovers

Fun and Unique Gifts for Book lovers

Book lovers — such as myself — are a bit of a weird breed.

When we’re out in public and see a stranger reading, we try to get a glimpse of the title of the book (or often, in my case, just flat-out ask.) Our idea of a wild and exciting evening out is wandering through a bookstore. We go into a tailspin if the movie adaption of the book is a disgrace. (Anyone remember Simon Birch, the supposed movie version of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany? No? Well, probably just as well. And I would never, ever, even consider seeing the live-action versions of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or The Cat in the Hat.)

If you’re curious (or in a hurry):

Click here to see all the Amazon products from this post

I personally pack at least four books any time I take a trip: the book that I’m currently reading, one fiction and one non-fiction book for when I finish the current book (because I don’t know which type I’ll be in the mood for) and one extra back-up just in case I don’t like either of those.

And then, of course, there are always a few extra books on my phone’s Kindle app. Just in case.

Whether you’re shopping for the bibliophile in your life, or you are one yourself, you’ll love these clever and unique gift ideas that I found on Amazon and Etsy. You can also scroll down to the bottom to see some tips on how to make a gift basket with a book theme.

 

Personal Library Lending Kit

If you love books, you’re probably always lending out your favorites to people who you know will enjoy them. This can eventually turn into a headache when you forget who has what or wonder why you can’t seem to find your favorite self-help book when you suddenly need to refer to it.

Enter this library lending kit to the rescue! It has 20 self-adhesive pockets and checkout cards, plus a date stamp and inkpad, and a pencil.

This would be a particularly great gift for school teachers and college professors, who probably loan out lots of books for their students and colleagues. Oh, and don’t worry — you can purchase refill packs!

Personal Library Lending Kit
Personal Library Lending Kit

 

Novel Teas with Literary Quotes
“Novel Teas” with Literary Quotes

If you belong to a book club, this would be a lovely Christmas gift to give to everybody in the group. (If you want to make it an extra-fun gift, consider pairing it with one of these mugs for book lovers.) It could also make a great gift, or part of a gift basket, to thank your local library workers.

These 25 tea bags each have quotes by famous writers such as Louise May Alcott, Mark Twain, and C.S. Lewis. (“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.”)

Read ’em and steep!

 

Kindle Book Cover Case

I confess that I have never actually read a Jane Austen novel, but I do love the movie adaptations, especially Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility.

This lovely Kindle Paperwhite case perfectly imitates the look and feel of a classic hard back book and keeps your device safe.

Amazon reviewer Michelle H. says that she originally bought this cover as a novelty, but then later realizes some advantages to having a book-like cover: “It offers privacy when sitting near someone and I find that the cover keeps the light off of my husband as he is sleeping next to me. I also like that it does not initially look like an e-reader.”

If you like the idea of a hardback case but aren’t particularly a Jane Austen fan, there are several other covers to choose from, including ones for Harry Potter and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Pride and Prejudice Book Cover Style Kindle Case
Pride and Prejudice “Book Cover” Kindle Case

 

You might also enjoy: 12 Great Gifts for Kids Who Love to Read

 

Custom Stamped Spoon

Cozy up with a good book and a cup of tea — and stir it with this stamped novelty spoon! One Amazon reviewer said that she combined this spoon with some sugar tongs, sugar cubes, organic tea, and a good book and put it in a very pretty Victorian box to make a great gift.

Good Book Cozy Nook Stamped Tea Spoon
“Good Book Cozy Nook” Stamped Tea Spoon

 

Book Lovers’ Quilt

Of course one of the requirements for curling up with a good book is having a warm, snuggly blanket to wrap yourself up in. This beautiful quilt is printed with hardbound books in rich colors and is lightweight enough that it’s perfect for travel as well as home. It’s cleverly designed so that the minky layer provides warmth, but the cotton stays cool during the summer.

It’s machine washable in the gentle cycle and measures 44 by 52 inches.

Book Lovers Quilt
Book Lovers’ Quilt Blanket

 

Library Book Scented Candle

It’s no secret that many book lovers have a fondness for the smell of books. Well, here’s a candle that lets us fill our homes with that scent! This soy candle in a jar has the scent of “aged paper and dusty shelves” with vanilla undertones. Perfect for burning while you’re reading in bed late into the night.

Book Lovers' Scented Candle
Library Book Scented Candle

 

You might also like:
Disney Gifts for Teachers

 

Book Lovers' Charm Bracelet
Book Lovers’ Charm Bracelet

There’s nothing like literary-themed jewelry to let the world know where you stand when it comes to books! This charm bracelet features 7 silvertone book and reading themed charms, with the word “bookish” spelled with letter beads that are replicas of old-fashioned typewriter keys. It fastens with a lobster claw and chain, making the length adjustable from 7 to 9 inches.

 

Just One More Chapter Embroidered Patch
“Just One More Chapter” Embroidered Patch

What a cute little patch! It can be ironed (or fastened with safety pins) onto a tote bag, jumper, or denim jacket. You can give the patch itself as a gift (it comes with iron-on instructions), or use it to create your own unique clothing or accessory before giving it to your favorite book lover.

 

Gift Set of 7 Book Lover Pencils
Gift Set of 7 Book Lover Pencils

I love the colors of these pencils: shimmery, midnight-blue foil on pretty pastel shades. Each pencil in this set has a different color and quote, such as “I Heart Books,” “Certified Book Addict,” and “Book Nerd.”

A nice plus is that the pencils are hex-shaped, so they won’t roll all over your desk.

 

Library Card Book Art
Library Card Book Art

These prints are a fun and unique way to pay tribute to your favorite classic novel! They are displayed as an old-fashioned library card and include the correct Dewey Decimal System classification number, the title and author’s name, and the first and last lines of this beloved book.

They are available in two sizes: 5×7 inches (printed on a 5.5×8.5 inch sheet) and 8×10 inches (printed on an 8.5×11 inch sheet). The mat and frame are not included and the print will have the copyright watermark removed.

The print in the image above is of The Secret Garden because it’s one of my very favorite children’s chapter books, but there are prints available in many other book titles as well. The Etsy seller, Folio Creations, can legally only use material in the public domain, which generally means books that were published before 1923. That still leaves a lot of great titles, though, including Anne of Green Gables, A Christmas Carol, Wuthering Heights, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, The Wind in the Willows, and another one of my very favorites, Little Women.

 

Book Lovers Gift Set with Planner and Journal
Book Lovers’ Gift Set with Planner and Journal

My oldest daughter and I both share this strange desire to buy all the blank books, calendars, and planners in sight every time we walk into an office supply store. This gift set would make us both deliriously happy. It combines the beautiful pastel pencils listed above with this planner and a yellow journal with a ruled interior.

 

Christmas gift for book lovers
Book Club Christmas Ornament

If you’re looking specifically for Christmas gifts for book lovers, book-themed ornaments are always nice. This ornament from Etsy is made of lightweight wood, can be personalized along its banner, and comes in a nice gift box.

Other Christmas gift ideas for book lovers include books about the holiday season OR holiday movies that are based on books.

8 Classic children’s books about Christmas

8 Christmas-themed novels

8 Christmas movies that are based on books

 

You might also like: 12 Christmas Ornaments for Book Lovers

 

Tips on Putting Together a Book Lover Gift Basket

Tips on Creating a Gift Basket

 

Gift baskets are a creative way to make a personalized gift and are especially nice for a departing college students, teachers or someone who is sick and/or in the hospital.

I’m certainly no expert on creating a perfect-looking gift basket (working with cellophane gives me the heebie-jeebies), but I did some research and found some tips that will help.

 

1. Be creative with your container.
Don’t limit yourself to just baskets, and don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on your container. Dollar stores sell containers in all shapes and colors.

2. Begin by covering the bottom of your container in tissue paper.
This props up the gifts and makes the overall effect more attractive. If your basket is particularly large, you can line the bottom with newspaper and then cover it with tissue paper.

3. Put your largest and/or sturdiest gift in the center.
This becomes your framework. Once you have it set up, put the next largest gifts around it, then tuck the smaller gifts in-between them, especially in the front so that they’re not hidden.

4. Add some snacks.
You need something to eat while you read, right? Some good choices might be cheese and crackers, a non-messy fruit like grapes or bananas, nuts, and tea bags.

5. Consider including a book signed by the author.
A signed book can be a real treasure, especially if it includes a personalized note. Local indie bookstores and ebay are a good place to find these. If your gift basket recipient like sweet, clean, and slightly humorous contemporary romances, drop me an email and I can send you a personalized copy of one of my books for a good price.
(Scroll down to see the titles or click here.)

6. Add a personalized tag.
A tag gives it a “finished” look and makes it clear what the theme of the gift basket is. You can make your own (either by hand or computer), or use the Internet to help you.

I found some cute printable tags that are free:
“Made with love” printable gift tags
Bright polka dot gift tags

Or here’s one of the many customized tags you can get from etsy:

Custom printable gift tags
Custom printable gift tags

7. Skip the cellophane (if you want).

Sure, you might need to wrap the basket if it’s for, say, a school auction. Or maybe you’re just a better wrapper than I am and like the finished look of a basket being bound up with ribbon at the top.
But don’t fret if you’re like me and feel like no matter what you do, you end up cutting the wrong amount of wrapping and you have trouble getting the ribbon to curl and the end result looks somewhat crooked. A gift basket — especially when it’s adorned with a cute tag — can look beautiful without being wrapped.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at all these cool gifts for book lovers and that you’ve found the perfect one to give to a friend or relative. Maybe you even found an extra one to get for yourself! 🙂




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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 they 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 butter […]

The Best Minnie Mouse Toys for 2 Year Old Girls

The Best Minnie Mouse Toys for 2 Year Old Girls

My younger daughter, Rebecca, has always been a particularly huge fan of Minnie Mouse. When Rebecca was 2 years old, she had a red and white polka dot Minnie Mouse costume that she wore almost every day for about three months. The only time she […]

The Best Waffle Makers with Removable Plates

The Best Waffle Makers with Removable Plates

It started a few weeks ago I went out to breakfast with my oldest two kids and ordered a Belgian waffle with strawberries (and a Toffee Crunch Latte).

It was good. Like, really good. And I couldn’t help thinking, “We need to get a good waffle maker so we can eat like this without having to leave the house!”

I’m ridiculously lazy when it comes to cleaning. The idea of trying to squeeze a sponge in and around every little square of an appliance sounds so unpleasant that I could picture myself opting for cold cereal some mornings just because I didn’t want to have to deal with it. Fortunately, I discovered that some waffle makers come with removable plates that you can put in the dishwasher. (Call me slow, but I honestly did not know this until just last week.) so it was a no-brainer that I which sounds much more pleasant than trying to clean in between each little square yourself.

If you’re curious (or in a hurry):

We haven’t made a purchase yet, but here are some waffle makers I found that look promising. They each serve a slightly different purpose, depending on your needs.

Once you’ve read the reviews and chosen the waffle maker that’s best for you, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post and read my update on the secret (there are two secrets, actually!) for making perfect Belgian waffles.

Best Belgian Waffle Makers with Removable Plates

In our family, Belgian waffles are clearly the way to go! They’re fluffy and fun, they let us pretend we’re on vacation, and the big holes are great for filling up with syrup or jam.

Top 3 Picks for Belgian Waffle Makers:

Secura 360 Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker w/Removable PlatesSecura 360 Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker w/Removable PlatesSecura 360 Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker w/Removable PlatesHamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker with Removable Plates (26030)Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker with Removable Plates (26030)Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker with Removable Plates (26030)KRUPS Belgian Waffle Maker, Waffle Maker with Removable PlatesKRUPS Belgian Waffle Maker, Waffle Maker with Removable PlatesKRUPS Belgian Waffle Maker, Waffle Maker with Removable Plates

 

 

Secura 360 Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker w/Removable Plates

* Amazon’s Choice in the category of Waffle Irons With Removable Plates

The plates to this round waffle maker pop off when you press a button, making clean-up a breeze. It has “Cool Touch” handles for safe and easy turning, plus a “Locking Clip” to ensure even distribution of the waffle batter as well as less leakage

Secura 360 Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker w/Removable Plates
Secura 360 Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker w/Removable Plates

Amazon Reviewer Ashley describes what she loves about the Secura Belgian Waffle Maker:

I took a risk on buying this product without any prior reviews, but I’m glad I did. The waffle maker is nice and sturdy and doesn’t feel cheap. The directions explain that upon first use the unit may smoke and have an odor for 15 minutes or so, and it did so I’m glad that I expected it and wasn’t alarmed.

I made a batch of waffles and found that a full cup of batter is the right amount to make a complete waffle. There is no annoying beep to tell you the waffle is done (luckily) but it does have a green light that turns on.

The lighter waffle in the picture is what you get if you open it right when the light comes on, and it’s cooked well. I like my waffles darker than most and when I tried leaving the waffle in for 6 minutes I got the darker waffle in the pictures. Somewhere in between is probably perfect.

The best part about this waffle maker (and the reason I bought it) is that the top and bottom plates detach for easy cleaning. I can attest that they are very easy to remove and reinstall, I had no trouble at all. I really don’t have any complaints about this product and I hope to use it for years to come.

 

Cuisinart WAF-300 Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates

This Cuisinart Belgian waffle iron includes both Belgian waffle plates and pancake plates. (Note that if you use the pancake plates, you cannot adjust the size of your pancakes.) The timer starts automatically when you close the lid, and you can adjust the settings to make the waffles either more or less crispy.

Click here to watch a video demo of the Cuisinart WAF-300 Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plates.

 

Belgian Waffle Maker with Changeable Grids
Belgian Waffle Maker with Changeable Grids

Amazon reviewer NBC pointed out a clever way that this waffle maker avoids making a big mess:

The bottom of the waffle maker is angled inward!! I had no idea how cool this was until I accidentally made it overflow with batter (my fault, not the waffle maker’s). The batter dripped onto my counter top instead of baking onto the outside of the waffle maker like it did with my previous waffle makers. The counter top is exponentially easier to clean than the side of the waffle maker, so this is more helpful than I could have ever dreamed.

Some reviewers said the plates were too shallow to truly make Belgian waffles — they were more like regular waffles — but overall the reviews were very high and there was a lot of love for this appliance.

 

Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker with Removable Plates

Whenever our family stays in a hotel, we try our darndest to find a La Quinta, simply because we love their free breakfasts with the rotating Belgian waffle maker!

This Hamilton Beach waffle maker doesn’t have the industrial strength that the one at La Quinta, but it does have removable plates that are dishwasher safe. Amazon chose it as their “Amazon’s Choice” 2018 Winner in the category of Belgian Waffle Makers with Removable Plates.

Round Flip Waffle Maker with Removable Plates
Flip Waffle Maker with Removable Plates

So why do some waffle makers flip, anyway?

We all know it’s fun to flip the waffle maker (well, our family thinks it’s fun, anyway) — but did you ever wonder why some waffle makers flip? And more importantly, does flipping make a better waffle?

Supposedly the flip feature ensures that the waffle will spread and therefore cook more evenly — the end result being that you won’t end up with soggy or burned spots.

What’s interesting is that apparently this feature is more important in commercial settings (like La Quinta and other hotels). Not only is it more important that the finished waffle “looks perfect,” but the expansion and spreading of the batter means that you get a thick, fluffy waffle with less batter than you might need to make a thick waffle in a traditional waffle maker.

So is the flipping feature important if you’re just making waffles at home? It may just be a matter of preference.

The reviews for this Belgian waffle maker were overwhelmingly positive. People liked the plastic drip tray that catches excess batter that spills out, as well as the flip handle that folds up for easy storage. They also loved how the waffles themselves came out. One reviewer described them as “crispy and golden on the outside, fluffy and perfect on the inside,” while another said that they were “Nice FAT thick yummy delicious Belgian waffles.”

Click here to watch a customer video review of the Hamilton Beach Flip Belgian Waffle Maker.

On the other hand, there were a few people who didn’t like this waffle maker at all and gave only gave it ONE star. THE main complaint in these negative reviews was that it didn’t heat up enough to cook the waffles all the way through.

But wait! It turns out that these people may have simply gotten a defective product, which they could have returned in exchange for a decent one.

Amazon reviewer Thomas C. Corcoran bought three of the same waffle maker, with different results, claiming “the product is outstanding if you get one that works.” In his 5-star review he discusses his experience and gives a way to test your waffle maker right away so you’ll know whether or not it’s defective and needs to be returned.

Click here to read Thomas’s review and troubleshooting suggestions.

 

KRUPS GQ502D Adjustable Temperature Belgian Waffle Maker

Square Waffle Maker with Adjustable Temperature
Belgian Waffle Maker with Adjustable Temperature

The KRUPS GQ502D Adjustable Temperature Belgian Waffle Maker with Removable Plates makes four waffles at a time, making it a good choice for people who often have a lot of folks to feed at the breakfast table. Another plus is that it has 5 adjustable browning levels, so if your waffle super-crisp (or not), you can adjust the temperature to make your waffle as light or as dark as you want.

This is also a good choice for people who just want a quick-and dirty waffle maker. This is one of the less expensive ones on the list (you can check the current price here), and it just makes waffles. There are no pancake plates, it doesn’t dub as a sandwich maker, and it doesn’t grill a chicken. It just makes waffles.

If you have your heart set on a true Belgian waffle, then this is NOT the waffle maker for you. Even though it calls itself a “Belgian waffle maker,” and claims to “bake waffles with extra-deep pockets,” its waffles are thinner and more similar to traditional waffles. (One negative review describes them as “more like Eggos”.)

Also, at 12 x 16.5 inches and weighing just over 9 pounds, some reviewers disliked that this waffle maker was “big and bulky.” It is, however, built in a way that you can easily store it vertically, so at least there’s that.

On another note, Amazon reviewer Smart Consumer, left a long and detailed 5-star review which, among other things, includes his recipe for Belgian waffles which he describes as “the bomb.”

Click here to read Smart Consumer’s review and see their waffle recipe.

 

What to Put on Belgian Waffles?

In our house, we usually top our waffles with melted butter and maple syrup (although we have been known to raspberry jam, particularly when we run out of syrup!)

But there are some other toppings that also taste great, if you want to be more adventurous. Some of the most popular include:

    Nutella
    Powdered Sugar
    Strawberries and Whipped Cream
    Caramelized Bananas

Video — Caramelized Bananas and Coconut Run Sauce Waffle Toppings

 

Stonewall Kitchen Syrup CollectionStonewall Kitchen Syrup CollectionStonewall Kitchen Syrup CollectionSmucker's Boysenberry, Strawberry, and Blueberry Fruit Syrups, Variety Pack of 3, Gift Box SetSmucker’s Boysenberry, Strawberry, and Blueberry Fruit Syrups, Variety Pack of 3, Gift Box SetSmucker's Boysenberry, Strawberry, and Blueberry Fruit Syrups, Variety Pack of 3, Gift Box SetCrown Maple Organic Grade A Maple Syrup, Amber, 12.7 OunceCrown Maple Organic Grade A Maple Syrup, Amber, 12.7 OunceCrown Maple Organic Grade A Maple Syrup, Amber, 12.7 OunceRunamok Maple Gift Box of 4 - 60ml Bottles of Barrel-Aged + Infused Maple SyrupsRunamok Maple Gift Box of 4 – 60ml Bottles of Barrel-Aged + Infused Maple SyrupsRunamok Maple Gift Box of 4 - 60ml Bottles of Barrel-Aged + Infused Maple Syrups

 

The Secret to Making Perfect Belgian Waffles

 

The Secret to Perfect Belgian Waffles

Oddly enough, when we bought a waffle maker, we — and my husband Rob in particular — were disappointed with the results. The waffles came out find, they didn’t stick to the plates, they looked fantastic.

But they just tasted … bland. They were not nearly as good as the ones we’d enjoyed at La Quinta’s.

Me being me, I decided that tasteless waffles — or worse, giving up — was not acceptable and the answer had to be out there somewhere.

It turns out that La Quinta uses Carbon’s Golden Malted Original Waffle and Pancake Flour, and being a desperate man in search of a good waffle, Rob immediately ordered a package to see if it worked.

 

The Waffle Flour that the hotels use
The Waffle Flour that the hotels use!

Guess what? It did work! Instead of our waffles being tasteless and bland, they were perfect, and exactly like we remembered them being at the hotel breakfasts.

Problem solved, right?

Except … no.

The price was about TRIPLE what a regular boxed pancake mix costs. Sure, you could argue that it was worth it because it was exactly what we wanted. But if the entire family wanted to enjoy waffles a couple times a week … well, that price was too steep for us to maintain this lavish waffle-eating lifestyle.

I knew there had to be a way you could make good waffles without a special mix, so I went back to the Internet and did some more research.

Perfect Belgian Waffle made with beer
Perfect Belgian Waffle — made with beer!

It turns out that is a “secret ingredient” that you can add to your waffle mix (either boxed or from scratch) that makes your waffles both fluffy and tasty.

Ready?

It’s beer.

Yup. A heavy, dark beer. Don’t try something like Bud Light (yuck). Rob used Michelob AmberBock, but Samuel Adams Boston Lager would work well too.

The idea is that the replicates replicates the yeast typically found in “real” Belgian waffle batters, but missing from our “lazy American” version that uses baking soda and/or powder.

Rob was skeptical that just adding beer to our previously bland waffle batter could make much of a difference, but he reluctantly decided that it was at least worth a try. And sure enough, that did the trick.

So now you have not one, but two ways to go forth and use your new waffle maker to make perfect waffles — just like the ones at the hotels!

 

Are Belgian Waffles Really From Belgium?

According to HuffPost, the answer is “Yes” — but apparently we Americans eat them a lot differently than than Belgians do.

In Belgian, the waffle is a “street food” that you eat with your hands.

During the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in Queens, New York, Belgian native Maurice Vermersch and his family served the waffle two different ways: in traditional, plain fashion, and topped with strawberries and whipped cream.

Guess which one was crazy popular, thus introducing the Belgian Waffle as we typically know it?

 

❓What do Consumer Reports reviews say about waffle makers?

After their own in-depth testing and independent review process, Consumer Reports also chose the Cuisinart WAF-300 as their favorite, saying that it “served up plate after plate of Belgian waffles that were nicely and evenly cooked on both sides, whether on low or high heat.

(Consumer Reports also suggests that you check out the recipe book for the Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes, because they are gooood.)

Click here to the Consumer Reports Waffle Maker Winner.

Waffle and Sandwich Makers with Removable Plates

You don’t need to get a waffle maker that gets put away when breakfast is over! These waffle makers also make hot sandwiches — and some even grill hamburgers and steaks!

The Top 3 Picks for Waffle and Sandwich Makers:

T-fal Waffle and Sandwich Maker with Removable Dishwasher Safe PlatesT-fal Waffle and Sandwich Maker with Removable Dishwasher Safe PlatesT-fal Waffle and Sandwich Maker with Removable Dishwasher Safe PlatesBLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Waffle Maker with Nonstick Reversible PlatesBLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Waffle Maker with Nonstick Reversible PlatesBLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Waffle Maker with Nonstick Reversible PlatesGeorge Foreman GRP4842P Multi-Plate Evolve Grill With Ceramic Grilling Plates  and Waffle PlatesGeorge Foreman GRP4842P Multi-Plate Evolve Grill With Ceramic Grilling Plates and Waffle PlatesGeorge Foreman GRP4842P Multi-Plate Evolve Grill With Ceramic Grilling Plates  and Waffle Plates

 

T-fal SW6100 Sandwich and Waffle Maker with Removable Plates

If you’re looking for a waffle maker that can also make a ham and cheese “hot pocket” type sandwich, this T-fal sandwich and waffle maker might be just what you’re looking for.

There is a green light that tells you when it’s heated and ready to cook, but it does not have a light or timer that will tell you when the waffles are done, so you’ll have to set a kitchen timer yourself when you pour the batter (reviewers say that three minutes work for them).

Amazon reviewer Rowni described their first experience with the T-fal waffle maker this way:

Washed and inserted the waffle plates, plugged it in, waited for the green light to appear and it was ready for use. Since I was anxious to try this appliance and didn’t want to start making batter from scratch, I used a can of Batter Blaster that I had in the fridge. (This happens to be a great product for waffles and pancakes!)

I put it on the griddle, closed the lid and set the timer for 3 minutes. Three minutes is the right amount of time for waffles. They were excellent, easily removed from the plate and ready to make the next batch. I was going to season the plates with oil before using it initially but the instructions didn’t call for it so I didn’t…and there was no need to do so…NO STICKING!

And when I was done, I let the unit cool and took the plates out and put them into the dishwasher…couldn’t be easier. I haven’t tried the sandwich plates yet but am looking forward to doing so! I would definitely recommend this item to anyone looking for a waffle maker…and the fact that it has a duel purpose and can make sandwiches too…you can’t beat it!

Waffle and Sandwich Maker with Removable Plates
T-fal SW6100 Sandwich and Waffle Maker with Removable Plates

Some reviewers comments that, while the plates themselves were very easy to clean, while cooking the food tends to leak down into the heating elements and into spaces where the clips hold the plates that food has found its way down into. One reviewer even said they removed the screws so that could get some of the “gook” out. However, this product has lots of 4 and 5 star reviewers, so that must be a big problem for everyone. It sounds like a machine that you have to be careful not to overflow.

 

Black & Decker 3-in-1 Waffle Maker with Nonstick Interchangeable Plates

The Black and Decker 3-in-1 Waffle Maker and Indoor Grill and Griddle makes one large 8×8 inch square waffle which divides into four 4×4 inch waffles, making it great for large families where everybody wants their waffles right away instead of having to make a few different batches. Reviewers described these as “old-school waffles” or “just like my Grandma’s waffles!” Amazon reviewer Robert Dumon Photographer elaborates on why this makes “normal waffles”:

We also have one of those a Belgium waffle irons, but I HATE those deep pockets it creates. How the heck is a guy supposed to butter THOSE waffles? For me a waffle should look like what you get in a Waffle House… thick enough to taste, but thin enough to be able to spread butter (or jam, or syrup, or whatever) over it without having to fill every one of those goofy Belgium waffle iron deep holes. This product makes great waffles with the proper consistency.

One particularly nice feature I noticed is that the top opens up flat, giving you more surface area to work with. For example, you can cook eggs on the “bottom” side while cooking bacon on the “top” side.

The negative comment that came up many times is that the plates are “flimsy” and that the top plate, in particular, does not always stay in place as well as it should. While I have not used this waffle maker myself, I can believe that comment to be somewhat accurate, because it is a pretty low price considered it is both a grill and a waffle maker. Just for a point of comparison, the George Foreman electric grill and waffle maker above costs almost four times as much as the Black and Decker on Amazon at the time of this writing.

Waffle Maker, Grill, and Griddle
BLACK+DECKER 3-in-1 Waffle Maker with Nonstick Reversible Plates

Amazon reviewer Vernon L. Jenewein shared some helpful hints about using this waffle maker:

Cooks well and cleanly. However, be mindful that you need to allow just a little bit of time between taking out the fresh cooked waffle and putting in new batter to cook. If you start the process too quickly, you can get an undone center and the outsides will be done as intended. Also I found that when it cools down I can wrap the cord around the bottom half and put the cord in that small groove and lock it in with the plug in on the other side. I use a large pan under it to catch any overage-spill from baking. I have put too much batter in and had it ooze out the sides and drip onto that pan. It breaks right off from the waffle iron when done, and I can easily clean up the drip on the pan underneath. Use aluminum foil and merely dispose of the foil when done. I used NO spray, but relied on the oil I have in my waffle recipe (home style recipe). I wish there were a cross-element of coiled heating wire to get the centers of the grill more even, rather than the solid heating element. However, this type of element will be a lot harder to damage or burn out later on.

 

George Foreman GRP90WGR Electric Nonstick Grill with 5 Interchangeable Plates

This George Foreman electric grill and waffle maker with 5 removable plates makes not only waffles (both regular and Belgian, and they are big ones, too!), but also sandwiches, bacon, steaks, hamburgers, paninis, and kebobs. You can even use the baking pan to make chocolate chip cookies! It comes with two drip trays, two spatulas, and a cleaning sponge.

Electric Grill with Different Plates
George Foreman GRP90WGR Electric Nonstick Grill with 5 Interchangeable Plates

The great thing about a waffle maker like this is can it replace a bunch of kitchen appliances at once. Amazon reviewer Gadget Fanatics says,

It replaced a toaster oven, two waffle makers (one regular, one belgian) and a grill someone gave us eons ago … We’re even getting rid of the rotisserie oven (we never used it much anyway). With the baking pan we’ve been able to toast bread, english muffins, toaster pastries and reheat pizza and meat patties. The grill plates cook great sandwiches, bacon (really great and drains a lot of fat), steaks, hambergers, franks, sausage, shrimp (we did kebobs with vegetables).

It’s also great for making food for a crowd. Reviewer Heather B. says, “I am able to make waffles, cook bacon & eggs for a great Suday breakfast for a family of 6.

The cons of this waffle maker are that 1) You may not want one that makes sandwiches and steaks; and 2) It can be a challenge to store all the different plates.

 

Can you use Pancake Mix in a Waffle Iron?

Surprisingly (to me), the answer is no — or at least not as is. With a little modification, though, you can “transform” your pancake mix into waffle mix.

It turns out that waffle batter has more fat in it than pancake batter does, in order to make it thick enough to take shape and not stick to the inside of the waffle iron. Several people have had good results by adding a couple tablespoons of butter or coconut oil to the mix.

Another additional trick is to separate the eggs, beat the whites to stiff peaks, then fold them gently in at the end. to insure that their waffles are light and crispy.

Some pancake mixes even have a specific recipe for waffles right on the box.

Stonewall Kitchen Pancake and Waffle Mix, Buttermilk, 16 OunceStonewall Kitchen Pancake and Waffle Mix, Buttermilk, 16 OunceStonewall Kitchen Pancake and Waffle Mix, Buttermilk, 16 OunceGolden Malted Waffle and Pancake Flour, Original, 33-Ounce CanGolden Malted Waffle and Pancake Flour, Original, 33-Ounce CanGolden Malted Waffle and Pancake Flour, Original, 33-Ounce CanSimple Mills Almond Flour Mix, Pancake & Waffle, Naturally Gluten Free, 10.7 oz, Pack of 3Simple Mills Almond Flour Mix, Pancake & Waffle, Naturally Gluten Free, 10.7 oz, Pack of 3Simple Mills Almond Flour Mix, Pancake & Waffle, Naturally Gluten Free, 10.7 oz, Pack of 3Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour, Original, 33-Ounce Cans (Pack of 3)Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour, Original, 33-Ounce Cans (Pack of 3)Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour, Original, 33-Ounce Cans (Pack of 3)Krusteaz Pancake Mix, Complete, Buttermilk 5 lb (Packaging May Vary)Krusteaz Pancake Mix, Complete, Buttermilk 5 lb (Packaging May Vary)Krusteaz Pancake Mix, Complete, Buttermilk 5 lb (Packaging May Vary)Trader Joes Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle MixTrader Joes Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle MixTrader Joes Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle MixAunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle Mix, Original Complete, 50 Servings BoxAunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle Mix, Original Complete, 50 Servings BoxAunt Jemima Pancake & Waffle Mix, Original Complete, 50 Servings Box

 

Are you Supposed to Spray a Waffle Maker with Pam or Other Cooking Spray?

No.

From what I read, non-stick sprays can cause a build-up on the waffle maker plates that is almost impossible. Over time, it actually makes the plates sticky — in effect, causing the actual problem you were trying to solve by using the spray.

Most waffle makers currently have a non-stick surface eliminating the need for cooking spray anyway.

One popular alternative I’ve seen is to dip a silicone basting brush in melted butter and “paint” your waffle iron plates with it. The brush makes it easy to get into all the nooks and crannies, and you can just throw it in the dishwasher when you’re done.

When in doubt, check the instructions on your particular waffle maker for what, if anything, you should coat it with before adding any batter.

 

Are Waffle Makers Allowed in College Dorm Rooms?

Since my oldest daughter, believe it or not, is now a junior in high school and we’re starting to think about things like college visits and SAT scores, I started to wonder if students were typically allowed to have their own waffle makers in student housing. They sure would come in handy, especially one like the T-Fal above that also makes sandwiches!

I did some research, and the short answer is: Check with your college. I saw one campus that stated “All appliances should be UL listed and have an automatic shutoff.” (“UL Listed” means that it has been tested and meets certain requirements.) Another college website listed waffle makers as an “approved appliance.” A third college stated that “any cooking appliance with a heating element” was not allowed.”

Of course, let’s be honest here. I distinctly remember a guys I knew in college finding clever ways to hide their “illegal” microwave in their dorm room. And drinking was definitely not allowed anywhere on my college campus, but … well, we won’t go there.

But generally speaking, if you’re like me and generally like to follow the rules, especially where safety is concerned, then check with student housing to see what, if anything, is allowed before you make your purchase.

 Video — Best Waffle Iron Recipes

It turns out your waffle iron can make a lot more than just waffles. Watch this video to see three non-waffle recipes that you prepare in even the simplest of waffle irons.

I hope this post has helped you find the best waffle maker for you to have a great, relaxing breakfast with your family in the morning!

 

You might also like: 7 Fun Waffle Recipes for Breakfast

Waffle Cookbooks

Looking for some new and creative ideas to use with your waffle maker? Check out one of these cookbooks!

Will It Waffle?: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle IronWill It Waffle?: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle IronWill It Waffle?: 53 Irresistible and Unexpected Recipes to Make in a Waffle IronWaffle Iron GeniusWaffle Iron GeniusWaffle Iron GeniusMini-Waffle CookbookMini-Waffle CookbookMini-Waffle CookbookThe Ultimate Waffle Cookbook: 31 Simple and Delicious Waffle RecipesThe Ultimate Waffle Cookbook: 31 Simple and Delicious Waffle RecipesThe Ultimate Waffle Cookbook: 31 Simple and Delicious Waffle RecipesThe Best Belgian Waffle Cookbook: Tons of Amazing Recipes to Make the Perfect Belgian WafflesThe Best Belgian Waffle Cookbook: Tons of Amazing Recipes to Make the Perfect Belgian WafflesThe Best Belgian Waffle Cookbook: Tons of Amazing Recipes to Make the Perfect Belgian WafflesWaffle Cookbook: Top 50 Waffle RecipesWaffle Cookbook: Top 50 Waffle RecipesWaffle Cookbook: Top 50 Waffle RecipesWaffles (Revised Edition): Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every MealWaffles (Revised Edition): Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every MealWaffles (Revised Edition): Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every MealWaffles: Sweet & Savory Recipes for Every MealWaffles: Sweet & Savory Recipes for Every MealWaffles: Sweet & Savory Recipes for Every Meal

 

Best waffle makers with removable plates




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