Gift Guide: For the Hostess

Are you looking for fun gift ideas for the person who loves to entertain?

Here is a collection of 15 items, each under $25, perfect for delighting the hostess!

>> And if you happen to be that hostess, just send this link to your husband.  He will be grateful for the ideas.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

gift guide for the hostess

1. 8-Inch Skirted Cake Stand – White cake stands and platters make food stand out and look pretty.  They are also versatile enough to fit in to just about any party theme.  This skirted cake stand has a beautiful pattern.

2. String Lights with Clear Globes – Make outdoor entertaining glow in the evening with these beautiful string lights.

3. Oval Steel Tub – Put away the big cooler and use this oval tub to hold beverages.  The oval shape allows for more drinks on top, making it easy for guests to grab.

4. A Perfect Day for a Picnic by Tori Finch  – Give the hostess plenty of inspiration for her parties with this added twist . . . picnic entertaining!  It is fun to think outside the dining room.

5. Sweet Lace Cupcake Wrappers – Add a touch of elegance and sweetness to entertaining and desserts with these cute cupcake wrappers.  A hostess will love to pull them out on a fun occasion.

6. Mini Chalkboards Signs – Perfect for adding descriptions and labels to tables, food and drinks.

7. Galvanized Metal Carry-All  – Go rustic and use this carry-all to hold silverware on the buffet table.  I love this for summer entertaining!

8.  Burlap Pennant Banner – These triangular flags can be used as is or customized by the hostess.  The kit also comes with jute and paper straws.

9.  Serve It Up Plate Stand – Turn your favorite plate into a raised serving piece with this stand!

10. Madeira Provo Teak Bread Board – A lovely board for the hostess to serve breads and cheeses to her guests.  Can one have too many of these?

11. Patterned Paper Straws – Add fun to any celebration with a set of paper straws.  I keep all kinds on hand, ready for any party.

12. Stainless Steel Coffee Carafe – Who wants to put their everyday coffee maker out on a pretty table?  This carafe will keep the coffee hot and looking great.  (If you don’t mind going a bit over $25, here is a cool push pot that I think looks even better!)

13.  Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties That Are Really Fun by Ina Garten – Another great book of inspiration, ideas and recipes for the girl who likes to entertain.  

14. Three-Tiered Porcelain Dessert Stand – Perfect for adding style and height to the dessert table!

15. Porcelain Cupcake/Treat Pedestals Set – The hostess will love the way these varying height pedestals showcase her delicious cupcakes and treats.


>> Want 15 great hostess tips?  Read this post on how to be the hostess with the mostess!

Cooking Spaghetti --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

FREE Finding Dory Activity Sheets

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Has your family seen Finding Dory?  Last week, we packed up the truck, grabbed the air-mattress and headed to the drive-in to see the latest Disney Pixar film.  It was a great movie and we really enjoyed it!  In fact much of the next day, my kids acted out scenes from the movie.  But, at least I didn’t have to start calling them by names other than their own.

If your kids have seen the flick or you know you’re going to, here are some free activity sheets from mazes and coloring pages to a weekly planner and family kelp tree.  Don’t miss the educational activity book and educator’s guide.  It is packed with fun facts about marine life and more!

Grab the activity sheets over at Motherhood On A Dime where I am guest posting today!


How to Make a Flower Crown with Tissue Paper

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. #CelebrateAmazingBDays #CollectiveBias

How to make a flower crown with tissue paper - so cute!! (5)

Birthday season is about to begin in my family.  Summer brings three birthdays and I am very excited to celebrate.  Parties, gifts, cards, cake, balloons . . . I love it all.

This summer, my daughter will turn 7.  She is sweet, tender-hearted, thoughtful and loves to laugh.  And lucky for me, she also loves to craft!  So I knew that this little project would delight her to no end.  She will probably wear it all day long on her special day!

Today, I am sharing it with you:  how to make a flower crown with tissue paper.  Maybe you have a sweet little friend or daughter who would love to run, dance and play under a crown of beautiful, handmade tissue paper flowers.

How to make a flower crown with tissue paper

To start my craft and get ready for our summer birthdays, I stopped at Walmart and picked up American Greetings tissue paper, along with a few other things to celebrate my daughter’s birthday.  I love how easy American Greetings makes it to celebrate your favorite people with fun and meaningful cards and a great assortment of gift packaging.  

For Your Flower Crown, You Will Need:

  • Tissue Paper (assorted colors of your choice)
  • Floral Wire
  • Scissors
  • Ruler

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First, measure the recipient’s head with the floral wire.  You’ll want a natural fit where a crown should sit.

Crafter’s Tip:  It is always better to measure big for sizing the crown.  Once most of your flowers are on the crown, you can resize and make the crown smaller by twisting the wire.  However, you cannot make it bigger.

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Coil the wire several times around your circle to provide a base for the crown.  The base will bend and flex, but no need to worry.  You can perfect the shape at the end.

Once you have about three coils, go around once more, weaving the wire in and out of the ring so that it holds together.

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Snip your wire, twist around the crown base, and fold it back in the opposite direction.   Finish by twisting what wire is left around the base.  Take note to make sure that your wire end is not sticking out.

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Measure 3″x 3″ squares of tissue paper.  To conserve your tissue paper so you have sheets left for gifts, cut from one or two sheets instead of the whole stack.  Each flower will use 3 squares of pink or yellow (or the flower colors you have selected).  The green tissue paper is to provide the look of greenery running throughout the entire crown below the flowers.

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Grab three squares of your flower color and one green square.  Stack them on top of each other, placing the green on the bottom.

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Fold into quarters, in accordion fashion.

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With the tissue paper folded in the accordion, cut both ends to form the shape of the petal.  I chose a rounded edge.  (See other options below.)

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Then with a piece of floral wire (about 7″ long), secure it around the tissue paper and twist.

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Don’t forget to fold the end of the wire back in the opposite direction as we did before to help keep it secure and reduce the chances of your little lady being poked.

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Begin to stretch out one of the sides.

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One at a time, peel each layer to separate.

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Once one side is complete, repeat the same process with the other side.

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Your flower should look like this.

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Before you set it down, pinch the bottom of the bloom to tighten your petals and green leaves.

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Continue with the same steps to make more flowers.

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Initially, I made 12 flowers but ended up needing 16 to fill the crown.  Take your best guess on how many you will need and make more as necessary.

Each time I finished a new flower, my daughter oohed and aahed over the beauty of each one . . . it made the process so much fun!

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Now, you are ready to attach the flowers to the crown base.  If you are using multiple colors, decide whether you want to alternate colors in groups or by the bloom.  (I repeated a pattern of two pinks then two yellow flowers.)

Simply twist each flower stem around the base.

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Before you finish adding all your flowers, be sure to check the size of the crown on your daughter or friend’s head.

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Remember how we favored measuring larger than smaller when making the crown base?  If your crown is too big, fold the wire over itself to reduce the size, as in the photo above.

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Now, you can add the last few flowers.

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These are the different cuts you can make on the tissue paper to achieve a variety of petals and flower shapes.  The top option is pointed.  The middle cut is very rounded and the bottom option is what I used for our crown, a more gentle, rounded cut.  It is also the easiest for separating layers when you are working on a smaller scale like flowers for a crown.

Before I show you the finished product, take a peek at the cards I bought for my daughter and my mom while shopping for the tissue paper.

card for my sweet girl

My daughter loves the princesses so when I saw this American Greetings card and read the text, I knew it was the one!

card for mom

I always look for pretty cards for my mom.  I enjoy buying funny cards for certain people, but for my mom, I love heart-felt and meaningful.  This one was perfect from the gorgeous artwork on the outside to the beautiful words on the inside.  Cards are a great way to express your feelings.  Don’t you love finding a card that says exactly what you want to say to that special person?

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Since our summer birthdays are quickly approaching, I have started shopping for my daughter’s birthday gifts.  She has been wanting one of those popular coloring books.  And notice how it worked out, all within my flower theme:  the flower coloring book, American Greetings gift bag and flower crown!

Here is the finished crown:

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Don’t you just love it?  This is the point where you can adjust the flowers and bend and twist as necessary.  Work and play with your crown to get the desired effect.

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These tissue paper flowers are perfect for my little girl’s crown, but they are also quite versatile.  I would love to use them as party decor for draped flowers in a doorway or on the tabletop for a garden party.  Oh, the possibilities!

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Here is where I found the American Greetings cards, gift bag and tissue paper at Walmart:

where to find at walmart

Who do you know that would enjoy a flower crown for her birthday?   For more birthday inspiration, click here.

Connect with American Greetings on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

How to make a flower crown with tissue paper -


You’ll Love This Easy Patriotic Snack Mix

You'll love this easy patriotic snack mix - perfect for July 4th parties & celebrations!

It is mid-June and I am starting to think of July 4th parties.  For years, I have wanted to throw a July 4th brunch and friends, this may be the year!!

Will you be hosting a party or attending a picnic?  If so, here’s an easy patriotic snack mix that is perfect for your upcoming July 4th celebration!

I choose to fill my galvanized tiered stand with cute paper cones and loose snack mix.  Take a peak!

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I am always very well stocked in an assortment of cardstock so that is what I used in red, white and two shades of blue.  However, because cardstock is thicker, it was a bit difficult to keep the cone secured and closed.  Thinner paper would have been much easier to work with.  Anywho…

Cut your paper into 6″ squares.  I liked this size for my tiered stand and it used a whole piece of 12×12 scrapbook paper.  Win-win!

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(This post contains affiliate links.)

I didn’t worry about using my Cameo for cutting the squares, but I did use it to make these cute patriotic doilies into stickers with this paper.

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Now it’s time to move into the kitchen.

What you’ll need to make Patriotic Snack Mix:

  • 1 bag of pretzels
  • white chocolate to drizzle
  • 32 oz cocktail peanuts (salted)
  • Rice Chex (about 1/2 a box)
  • Corn Check (about 1/2 a box)
  • M&M’s (Red, White and Blue bag)

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Melt the white chocolate and drizzle it over the whole bag of pretzels.  I use these bags and just pop the chocolate in the microwave.

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Mix all your ingredients together and either fill cones or put in a festive bowl.  If your cones have a small hole in the bottom like mine, be sure to throw in a couple pieces of Chex in first.  This will keep the smaller items from falling out.

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Don’t you want to grab a handful?

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Do you have an easy snack mix you like to serve?  Share it below in the comments.

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How to Make Tiles into Coasters for Party Favors

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Whether you are looking for a handmade gift or unique party favors, today have a fantastic craft for you!  I will be showing you how to make tiles into coasters.  They are surprisingly inexpensive and can be suited to any theme (which is always a huge win in my book).

I made these map coasters out of white bathroom tiles for my father-in-law’s birthday party.  The celebration was supposed to have happened a few weeks ago, but unfortunately he fell and broke his hip.  So we are postponing the party until he is doing better.

Our party theme was all about maps and thanks to a family friend who saw my facebook plea for old maps, I found myself with more than I could have imagined.  The best part?  Most were National Geographic and from the 60’s.  Could it be any better?

(This post contains affiliate links.)

What You Will Need to Make Tiles into Coasters:

  • White Tiles (you can find them here on Amazon, however, I found them cheapest at Home Depot.)
  • Old Maps, Scrapbook Paper or the Paper of Your Choice
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam Brush
  • Clear Spray Paint
  • Sheets or Rolls of Cork
  • White Gloss Spray Paint (I wish I had used this at the beginning!)

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I loved the simple, step-by-step nature of this project.  The first thing you need to do is pick up your tiles.   If you are getting them from the hardware store, be sure to inspect each one.  Isn’t the price amazing?

One thing I wish I would have done was add a coat of white spray paint to the sides of the tiles before I began gluing on the maps.  It would have made the sides look more polished and finished.  I have pointed this out to a couple friends and they said they would not have noticed.  But in case you are as ‘particular’ as I am, I thought you would want to know.

How to Make Tiles into Coasters for Party Favors

Cut Your Map Squares.  Trace your tile onto a piece of paper to create a template for cutting the maps.  You will need to shave the template down a bit so it fits on the top of your tile.  Once you are satisfied with a template, cut the maps into squares.

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Put a coat of Mod Podge on the tile with your foam brush.

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Carefully, place your map square on the tile.  You will be able to slide it around a little to get it in the perfect spot.

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Run your finger across the map to smooth it out and ensure there are no air pockets.

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Now put two two coats of Mod Podge on top of the map, allow the glue to dry between coats.

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Next, spray the tiles with a clear coat of sealer or spray paint.  Once they are good and dry, you are ready to move on.

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Make a new template for the cork sheets.  Trace the template onto the cork and cut out the squares.

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I tried hot gluing the cork to the tile and only ended up with a huge mess and the unpleasant job of tearing the cork off bit by bit.  Mod Podge worked so much better.

Apply a coat of Mod Podge to the bottom of the tile and press on the cork.  Again, allow to dry.

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Do you notice the unevenly glazed sides?  This is where spray painting first would have been awesome.

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I love how the coasters turned out.  All from a 16 cent tile!

Stack them up, tie them up . . . use them at the party and then send your guests home with the memento of the celebration!

Happy Creating!
~ Kristen

How to Make Bath Tiles into Coasters

How to Make an Empty Tomb Cake

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Today, I have a fun and easy way to celebrate the Risen Savior, and as so many things around here do, it involves cake!

The most profound aspect of Christianity is that Jesus died for the penalty of our sins and conquered death when He rose from the grave.  We don’t serve a dead savior.  On the contrary, He is alive and at work today.  The excitement of that fact is something I want my children to comprehend and find thrilling.

We can teach and celebrate this in many ways, but today we are making a cake!

Here is What You’ll Need to Make an Empty Tomb Cake – 

  • 2 Mixing Bowls (one must be metal)
  • Cooking Spray
  • Flour
  • Cake Mix and the Ingredients on the box
  • Icing
  • Chocolate Candy Rocks
  • Heating Core depending on the size of your bowl (this post contains affiliate links)
  • One Oreo

Two things I love about this process – 

  1.  It’s easy!  Buy a box of cake mix and a can of icing and you’re half way there.
  2. You get to bake in a metal bowl!  Throw out the rules.  Pack away your traditional cake pans and feel the freedom.  Embrace baking in an ordinary mixing bowl . . . oh dear, my life must be a little dull for this to be exciting!

Instructions – 

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Prep Your Medium-Sized Metal Bowl for Baking.  Prepare your bowl by lightly spraying with cooking spray and dusting with flour.  For a chocolate cake, it is often best to use cocoa powder.  But I didn’t have any and the white flour worked just fine.  

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In your other mixing bowl, make your cake batter according to the instructions on the box.


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Pour the batter into your bowl and bake at 350 degrees.  For my medium sized bowl, I was expecting 30-35 minutes like the ladybug cake I made years ago.  But because I used all the batter, it took more like 50-55 minutes.  For the last 10 minutes, I added a flower nail (substitute for an actual heating core) to help push it along.  Maybe I was just getting impatient.

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Once your cake is mostly cooled, invert your bowl and pat it out.  You may wish to slice the bottom of the domed cake to make it flat.  I wanted the height, so I added extra icing at the bottom to make it work.


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With a sharp knife, begin to cut out your cave-like tomb.

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I cut reasonably far into the cake and used the crumbs as the path out and in front of the opening.
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Next, frost the cake.  Again, I was thinking simple here, so I just used a can of icing.


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Now, you will need to add the stone that was rolled away.  Twist an OREO and use one of the cookie sides as the stone.  What you do with the rest of the cookie (or the box for that matter is up to you!).

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To finish up your empty tomb cake, add some chocolate candy rocks.  I put mine around the bottom and in no particular pattern on the cake.

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This is a great time to have the kids help!

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When we were done with the cake, we grabbed our Gospel Story Bible and read the story of the resurrection.  I love this story book Bible!  It has such a focus on the Gospel weaved throughout all the biblical stories, emphasizing our need for Jesus, His sacrifice and our redemption.  It also has discussion questions for each story that can spur on some great conversations!

Now, I will tell you that my son asked if he could put some figures on the cake.  And if he had been talking about soldiers, angels, the women or Jesus, I would have been okay with it.  But something tells me he was thinking Star Wars and Lego minifigures.  So, keep them on track and continue to point them toward Jesus!

What special things does your family do to focus on the resurrection?

25 Inspiring Tablescapes That Will Make You Say Hello Spring

25 Inspiring Tablescapes that will make you say Hello Spring!

Are you ready for Spring?  I can’t wait to don the winter coats and hats to feel the warmer breezes and see the flowers bloom.  (By the way, if you want to come plant flowers in my new construction mud pit, please do!)

But to inspire your spring tablescapes, I have 25 stunning images that will make you say hello spring as you prepare to open your home to family and guests over the next few months.

Happy Spring!



I love this flower box and mason jar set from House by Hoff.


easy spring centerpiece idea

Simple and stunning yellows and whites shared on Yellow Bliss Road.


midwest living bounty of color

I cannot get enough of nests!  Love this bounty of color from Midwest Living.



Pink paisley, what a beautiful table for a spring baby or wedding shower.  Via WeddingOMania.


split bouquet

Split bouquet and many little vases from Midwest Living.



Are these not adorable?  From Pottery Barn.


carryout bouquet

I love the new use for this carryout bouquet from Midwest Living.


tie a bunch

Hope you love asparagus!  But this table will certainly spark conversation!  Via Midwest Living.


A welcoming spring kitchen vignette from Stone Gable Blog.


carrot vase

I definitely wouldn’t have thought of this carrot vase from Midwest Living.  Like or no like?



Go a little whimsical and find out how to make this lollipop topiary centerpiece at the DIY Network.



Uncommon Designs shows you how to make this bird nest napkin ring.



I love all the grass in this tablescape from Simple Details Blog.



Driven by Decor’s lovely bunny napkin fold.



A more vintage table setting from Rooms For Rent Blog.



I love this spring in the forest tablescape from Dear Lillie.



Steering clear from pastels with this tablescape from At Home With the Barkers.


butterflies midwest

Cute butterfly table from Midwest Living.



Grape vine place mats are the perfect nest for these dishes  on The Painted Chandelier.

Light and airy from Dreamy Whites.



Here is an easy craft for your kids’ table!  Via Martha Stewart.

Stunning tablescape from Magnolia Market.



Floral and cozy from Home Is Where The Boat Is.


spring collectio midwest living

Beautiful and rustic centerpiece from Midwest Living.



Branches and blues on this lovely table from Centsational Girl.


And two more fun ones!  (affiliate links)

grass placemat table

I love these placemats for a spring garden party.


Spring colors and ready-to-go rolled silverware from The Mad Hatter Party Box on Etsy.

Which tablescape is your favorite?

How a Little Fun & Warmth Can Renew Your Perspective

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Do you make it a point to take family vacations?  Last year with the house being built, we didn’t do a family vacation other than one night to Niagara Falls (which I am proud to say finally broke the vacation vomit streak of 4 years.  We used to say, “It isn’t a family vacation until someone pukes.”)  And now with two different trips under our belt, I’m praying good health continues to follow many more of our travels.

Earlier this month, we took a trip to wonderful and warm Florida.  This was the quickest decision we ever made on such a trip.  (You know I’m the planner!)  But back in December, after seeing airfare month after month go on sale for $78 round trip Cleveland to Orlando, it became irresistible.  And what started as a 2-night, quick trip to LEGOLAND for just me and the kids, became a full week of fun with Dan coming as well.  That is what good airfare will do!

We made all the arrangements, conserved our luggage space, used every reward dollar to our name, stayed at a referral time share and made use of discounts and coupons for pretty much everything.  It was a lot of work, but well worth the savings.




We stayed at Orange Lake, a Holiday Inn Vacation Club Resort.  The property was enormous and beautiful.  It even had its own lazy river ride.  We attended a time share presentation and actually learned a lot.  Our kids were in their child-watch program, so when we realized that after two and a half hours, the meeting still wasn’t over, we got up and excused ourselves.  We didn’t feel too bad about it because they had told us the meeting would last two hours and they were aware our kids were in child-watch.

The highlight of the resort to the kids:


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Each kid sleeping in his and her own queen bed.  What kid gets this on vacation?  Our villa had two bedrooms which was a first for us.  It dawned on me one morning while brushing my teeth what a treat it was to be in the bathroom alone.

[I should interject that as far as Disney trips go, I think the best way to experience Disney World is by staying on property at a Disney hotel.  This was more of a Florida trip than anything and our two days at Disney World were not consecutive.  There are so many wonderful advantages to staying on property of which we could not take advantage.]


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The first fun day was spent at LEGOLAND.  I had the opportunity to write for them (you can see my post here).  If you have kids who love LEGOS, add this spot to your travel destination list.  It really was a lot of fun!  As you can tell by their run to the entrance, my kids were a bit excited.


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Our next special day was a trip to the Magic Kingdom.  Oh, how I love that place.  I think I would like to live there when I grow up.  The fun, the creativity, the attention to detail…all things that I love.


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Where’s the castle?  It was an especially foggy start to the day.  But soon the sun came out and we were thankful for beautiful weather.


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Alice and the Mad Hatter spent quite a while chatting it up with my daughter in Fantasyland.  She was particularly thrilled when Alice noticed her during the afternoon parade and made a point to wave, blow a kiss and point her out to the Mad Hatter.  Disney makes everything special.


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This picture makes me chuckle because this . is . life.

We are finally at my most favorite spot on earth.  We’re ready to take that picturesque image of the kids in front of Cinderella’s dreamy castle but it wasn’t going to happen.  The sun was so bright that the kids had no chance of opening their eyes for me to capture the perfect shot.

And isn’t that the way things go?  Nothing is perfect this side of heaven.  We can either be disappointed or choose to celebrate our blessings.  After all . . . picture or not, we were still standing in Disney World.  🙂


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Our next adventure took us to Epcot.

I don’t know what it is but I love getting back shots of Dan and the kids walking.  They are precious to me!

Many times in the parks, we split up to be able to do more things in the short time we had.  It worked out really well, especially when my daughter and I were going to Akershus to eat lunch and meet the princesses.  She is the perfect age for this!

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Dan holding Snow in Florida.

The final day of our trip held a surprise for the kids.  We went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter and Hope, the stars of Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2.  We love these movies and it was a fun treat to surprise the kids with one last adventure.

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We were blessed to be able to see Winter while she was out in the bigger tank.  She doesn’t wear the prosthetic tail all the time, just when exercising.  What is amazing to me is that the gel that was made to help her keep the tail on without irritating her skin has now helped multitudes of human amputees live pain-free with their prosthetics.  Isn’t that awesome?  The aquarium was a very educational and fun visit.


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The picture above is from a stranding presentation on what is done if a dolphin is found stranded on the beach.  I don’t think we have to worry about this in Lake Erie, but my daughter loved being involved and caring for the {inflatable} dolphin.

Favorite Memories of the trip:

Dan dancing with my daughter and fighting light sabers with my son…anywhere and everywhere.  He is such a fun dad!  Take a look.

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My son getting chatty with the girl on the ride at LEGOLAND.  He is just like his daddy and will talk to anyone.


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My daughter’s pure delight on Test Track at Epcot.  She told her Grandma she would scream in her place.  This was our first time at the parks without my mom but the final picture from our last trip still tops the charts.


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The moment when:  I was holding a spot in line for a meet and greet with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger in England at Epcot’s World Showcase.  My daughter with her gorgeous Snow White dress and tired little feet went to sit across the courtyard and rest for a few minutes.  It was a good distance away but in clear view.  When she sat down, she turned around … and winked at me.  It just caught me off guard and made me laugh.  I am really enjoying being her mama.
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The fact that in most every picture with my son, he is pretending to hold a light saber.  Apparently Jedi’s are pretty serious too…


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I loved trading pins at Disney World.  It was the first time we went with multiple pins to trade.  Next time, I am taking even more!  (Find out where I got my pins in order to save a lot of money.)

All the UNO we played, including at the airport while waiting to head home.  It was fun to be at the stage where we could kill time waiting and play a game together.  The kids seemed so grown up.

We also had the change to visit some Ohio friends who are living in Florida and spend a night at their house.  It was great to catch up and see their kids.

What a wonderful trip!  The fun and warmth were perfect to renew my perspective…to notice how fast the kids are growing up, the importance of spending quality time as a family and sharing in adventures.