7 Gift Ideas for Moms Who Travel

I think these items should be on the holiday wish list for any woman who travels for work or fun!
Travel Size Beauty Sets
When traveling, I like to pack light, and usually just a carry on, so I’m held to the TSA rule of only having 3.4 ounce containers of liquid. I love having travel size versions for all of my favorite products so I can feel like myself when on the road. Travel size beauty sets are also a fun, low risk way to try new products without investing in a full size you may not like.

I’m a huge fan of IT Cosmetics (check out What’s in my Work Bag?) and find they always put out amazing beauty sets, especially around the holidays. Check out this IT’s Your IT Girl Super Squad 7-piece makeup & skincare gift set, which contains 3 full size and 4 travel size items.

Or this Heavenly Luxe Must-Haves 5-Piece full size brush set + travel case. Traveling or not, this brush kit is amazing, containing everything you need for a full face makeup session. The case is so darn cute and functional. It will definitely keep your brushes in great shape and prevent them from getting makeup all over your suitcase.

Check out IT Cosmetics stocking stuffer items as well. You may want to snag a couple of these for presents! 

Nice Luggage
I usually buy my luggage at TJ Maxx but you can find some highly rated luggage sets on Amazon right now. This is an AmazonBasics spinner set for $129, which is a great price for a set like this. I always like to get a color besides black so my bag stands out!

Travel Scarf

I’m so in love with my new scarf from Waypoint Goods. I can’t believe no one has thought of this concept sooner…a scarf with a pocket! This makes it easy to have your drivers license or passport, cell phone, keys, and my favorite, a lip balm, handy at all times. I hate when I get settled on a plane and then have to drag my bag out from under the seat or from the overhead to get my cell or chapstick. With a Waypoint Goods travel scarf, everything is easy access in your scarf. I think I’m going to use this scarf in the summer too. Planes are always so chilly and I can’t NOT have all my important items close by – this scarf has spoiled me! They have a large selection of solid colors and prints. If you join their mailing list you can get 10% off your first order. I’ll also be hosting a giveaway soon!

Tech Accessories

If you know someone who likes monogrammed items, Mark & Graham have really unique travel gifts. I personally like the Leather Charter Roll Up to keep cords organized in work bags and the Power Up Lightning to USB Key Chain. This key chain can charge your iPhone and also has a USB drive. Mark & Graham offer free personalization as well!
Packing Cubes
When my mom first got these for me I didn’t think I would like them. I was wrong! Packing cubes are awesome for keeping your luggage organized while traveling. I keep them in my luggage at all times so they are handy for all of my trips. Makes it much easier to unpack when your clothes are organized in cubes!

Foldable tote bag
You never know how much room your souvenirs will take up in your suitcase, or if you’ll be able to sneak away to go shopping for yourself, so you’ll want to pack this tote for all trips in case you need extra room! This is also great just keep in the your car for groceries. This one specifically has amazing reviews on Amazon. This would make a great stocking stuffer!

Noise Cancelling Headphones
Nice headphones can be key for relaxing travel. Crying babies and chatty seatmates sometimes need to be drowned out on planes, and these highly rated headphones can do the trick!

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5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Disney Vacation

 
Former Disney cast member (and current travel agent with Friend Like Me Travel Co.) shares her tips for how to get the most out of your Disney vacation!
5. Plan, Plan, Plan (or use a travel agent!): Planning a trip to Disney World isn’t what it used to be 10 years ago. You can’t just walk into a restaurant and expect to get a table anymore. It requires planning and lots of it.  If you want to see your little princess’s expression as she meets Cinderella and her friends at the Royal Table, you better be at your computer 6 months ahead of time (to the minute) to secure your dining reservations. Looking forward to seeing your little dude have a blast on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? You’ll have to schedule that 2 months ahead of time. Seem like a scheduling nightmare? This is where a travel agent can take that stress away.
 
4. Use a Travel Agent: Yes, there are people out there (me!) who love to figure out all the nitty-gritty details that go into planning and executing your perfect vacation. They are a wealth of knowledge, are aware of cost-saving tips, and can eliminate the stress that comes with figuring out all the details. And the best part? Their services are FREE! For real, there is no charge to plan your vacation through a travel agent. Bottom line: Reach out so we plan your trip together! 
 
3. Your Must-Dos: When sitting down to begin planning your Disney vacation, figure out your must-dos. There is no way that you will be able to fit everything into your vacation- there’s just too much to see and experience! Knowing that ahead of time will help to alleviate some potential stress or frustration with trying to fit it all in. Be sure to ask each member of your family what they really want to do on vacation. Shoot for 2-3 wishes per family member. Also, don’t forget the things that YOU want to do as well! Here’s a quick tip to make sure that mom and dad get to enjoy themselves: bribes. Yep, you’re at Disney World and a lot of the “normal parenting standards” go out the window.
 
2.  Schedule a Rest Day: Trust me, you want to do this. At the start of the trip, everyone is feeling great. You’re happy, well-rested, and ready to rock out 10 hours at the park. Sure, you can do this for a couple of days in a row, but don’t even think about doing it EVERY SINGLE DAY. You will burn out. Everyone will be tired, cranky and nobody wants to deal with all that nonsense. So, be sure to schedule a rest day in the middle of your vacation. This will allow everyone to begin and finish their vacation feeling happy, rested, and ready to roll!
 
1. Have Fun: At the end of the day, your kids won’t care that you missed a dinner reservation or that you didn’t get every photo opportunity that you were hoping for. What they will remember is how much fun they had with their family. And let’s be honest, that’s all that really matters!
 
Planning a Disney vacation can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for many people. Good thing there are people like me to help you create the most magical vacation ever!

Bio:
Justine is a former Disney Cast member!  In addition to numerous trips to Walt Disney World, she has extensive experience planning trips and traveling around the world. Justine is organized, detailed oriented, and will ensure that her clients have the most magical vacation possible. When she isn’t busy planning amazing trips for her clients, she spends her days enriching the minds of the future as a high school English and Special Education teacher. 
 
Social Media:
Insta: @yourfriendjustine 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

My son is learning about seeds in preschool, so he decided it would be a good idea to smash one of our mini pumpkins to look at the seeds inside (I can’t make this up). Instead of tossing the pumpkin we dug out the seeds and roasted them!

This was a fun snack to make, from start to finish, with my son’s help. Here’s what we did:

Ingredients:
Pumpkin seeds
Olive oil
Garlic salt

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Clean the seeds! Try to get as much of the pumpkin guts off as you can. I like to soak them in water for a few minutes then pour through a strainer, and most of the pumpkin should come off.

3) Transfer them to a boil and toss in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (depending on how many seeds you have).

4) Spread seeds out over a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or foil.

5) Sprinkle garlic salt over the seeds. If you like them salty, don’t hold back!

5) If you have small seeds from a small pumpkin, you probably only need to bake them for 15 minutes. If you have larger seeds, they probably need 30-40 minutes. Halfway through you can toss them a little on the pan so they cook evenly.

6) Let them cool and enjoy!

Has anyone ever tried making cinnamon/sugar pumpkin seeds? If so, I want to hear how they came out! 

7 Non-Candy Halloween Treat Ideas

My oldest son has a food allergy to cashews and pistachios. It’s super scary, but not as scary as some of the more common food allergies that are hidden in almost everything we eat, especially candy. Parents, and kids, have to be extra careful on Halloween since kids will be getting a huge mix of peanuts, gluten, dairy, etc in their trick or treat bags.

I encourage households handing out candy to have an alternative for kids with allergies. You can put out a Teal Pumpkin so parents know you have a safe option for their kids. Here are a few ideas you can get on Amazon Prime in time for Halloween!

Slap bracelets
Remember these from the late 80s early 90s? Well, they are back! And make a great alternative to candy this Halloween.

Mini cars
How fun are these mini cars? My boys would lose their mind if they received these trick or treating.

Halloween stickers
As a kid, I would have loved to get stickers. Well, let’s be honest, I’d love to get them as an adult, too. I have not outgrown my sticker addiction!

Glow sticks
These are always a hit on Halloween.

Squishy animal toys
I have no idea why kids obsess over these things, but they are definitely trendy and pretty cute.

Mini Stampers
These are so darn cute for a craft loving kid.

Mini Play-Doh
These may not be great for kids with a severe gluten allergy, but since kids “shouldn’t” eat it, it should be good for kids with food allergies. These 1oz. cans are so cute!

I hope these are helpful! Order by Monday or Tuesday, to make sure you get them in time for Halloween on Thursday! If you have any additional ideas please leave them in the comments below!

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7 Tips for Selling through Consignment

There is something so refreshing about cleaning out my closet. I especially love the time of year when I need to switch out my wardrobes. I have a small closet, so once we go from Summer to Fall or Winter to Spring, I need to do a closet swap to make room for each season’s wardrobe.

I like to take this time to go through my clothes and get rid of things I’m not going to wear. My philosophy: If you didn’t wear it within the last year, it’s OUT! And trust me, I know what I did and did not wear last season. If the item is like new, I usually take it to a consignment shop to sell. I know there’s Facebook Market Place, garage sales, etc., but consignment really does the hard work for you.

Consignment shops will take new and gently used items and sell them for a discounted price. Once your item sells, you get a percentage of the sale. The percentage you earn varies by shop. The consignment shop I go to, Trading Closets in Brighton, MI, offers you 50% of the selling price. They mark down items each month, and then after 60 days, you can either pick your items up if they don’t sell, or they will mark them down to 80% without any commission or donate them.

The first time I went I really had no idea what to expect. I gathered up about 10 items in my closet I no longer wore and brought them into the store. To my surprise, the store only kept one item! I was floored, and a little insulted, until the consignment shop employee pointed out the reasons she didn’t accept the other items. Slight discoloration…out of season…loose hem….after the run down I totally understood why they didn’t take the rest of my items.

I took what I learned from that trip and applied it to future drop offs, carefully inspecting every item before I left the house. Now, I usually have a 90% success rate when I bring my clothes, kids clothes, home goods and toys in!

Here are some tips to use when going through your closet and gathering items to bring in:

1. Check the store’s website or call ahead to find out what ‘season’ of clothes they are taking. If it’s March and they only want Spring/Summer clothes, you’ll be wasting your time if you bring your sweaters in. Usually they will be very explicit on what they are accepting.

2. Steam or iron your items before bringing them in the store. Most consignment stores look for items they can transfer directly to their racks. Presentation is everything.

3. Bring clothes in on hangers. Usually stores don’t keep them, but again, it’s all about presentation.

4. Some of the ‘signs of wear’ they look for: deodorant marks on the insides of the arms of tops, fabric balling up (sweaters tend to do this), snags, holes, broken zippers, loose hems, discolorations and stains, just to name a few. Also make sure your items are smoke and pet hair free.

5. Some stores have a special light they put the clothes under to help spot stains or discolorations. It’s helpful to bring your own clothes outside in the sunlight and inspect them before you bring them in. Sometimes indoor lighting can hide imperfections.

6. Depending on the store, they may also accept accessories (purses and jewelry), home goods, furniture, DVDs, kids toys, kids clothes and beauty products. Check out the website or store before you go in.

7. Don’t watch over the consignment shop worker while he/she is looking through your clothes. This is just nerve wrecking! Shop around while they are going through your items. You may find some hidden gems!

And remember, don’t be insulted if they don’t take your items! The consignment shop employees know what sells best in their store. They may already have 20 of the same type of item they can’t get rid of. If you find yourself returning home with items, you can always donate them to your local Purple Heart or Salvation Army.

5 Tips for Visiting Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, MI

Before kids, I never knew hands on museums were a thing. Now, we travel far (London!) to visit the best ones! My friend Erin told me way back in the day that Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing was awesome, and we finally confirmed today, that she’s not wrong! Although they call themselves a ‘science center,’ it’s very much ‘hands on’ for kids and adults.

We spent about 2 hours at the museum and got to interact with just about every age appropriate exhibit. This spot is 2 floors, with the majority of the exhibits upstairs. Most exhibits are all extremely unique. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • “Throwing Things” area contains several different stations where kids can practice their pitches and blast targets with air cannons. Kids can explore and learn about kinetic and potential energy.
  • The Bubble room is fun for all ages, even adults! Kids can enclose themselves into a huge bubble, and there are water tables for younger kids. Be careful though, the floor is slick in this area!
  • ‘Chew on This’ exhibit lets kids take a deeper look into the human mouth, complete with a giant tooth brush and dental tools! There is also a play grocery store in this area, so kids can discover how the food you eat affects your teeth in an interactive grocery store.
  • The Michigan nature area is also fun. My boys were able to catch one of the museum workers feed the frog and toad in the aquarium. You can explore natural environments found in Michigan with tools and challenges to help make learning fun!
  • For older kids, the Spectrum exhibit can be a lot of fun. It has different light sources, lenses, prisms and mirrors for kids to experiment with.

There is also an enclosed room (with staff monitoring the door) for 4 and below kids. This is a nice spot to have your young kids in for awhile so you don’t have to chase them. There’s a play area and a water table section. You have to remove your shoes when entering this area, and if you go in the water area they have Crocs you can slip on.

Although most of the main exhibits were geared towards older kids, my 2 year old, Xavier, played and interacted with all of them and a fun doing so.

 
Few tips when visiting:

1) Bring a change of clothes. If your kids like to play with water tables, even if they wear the smocks, they will get wet.

2) They don’t have a cafe here, so make sure to pack snacks. There are snack tables and vending machines on each floor.

3) There’s a large gift shop right at the entrance/exit, which is impossible to avoid, so set expectations early if you don’t want to get guilted into a souvenir on the way out.

4) Bring hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes!

5) If you want to do lunch afterwards, about 1 mile away is Saddleback BBQ – its delicious and extremely fast. Mike and I tried the pulled pork and ribs (delicious!), and the kids ate mac and cheese and ribs, and we caved and also ordered their churro donuts, which were ridiculously good. I saw one high chair available and they do have outdoor picnic tables as well. Make sure to stop in at Blue OwCoffee, right next door, to get a coffee to go for your ride home.

Additional Impression 5 information:
Adults, children 2+ – $8.50
Seniors, Military members (and immediate family) – $7.00
Members, Children 1 & younger – Free
Museums for All (up to 6 guests with valid ID and EBT, medicaid, or WIC card) – $2.00

They also offer family memberships. Free parking is located behind the museum. They are open on Sundays from 12pm-5pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 10am – 5pm. They are closed on Mondays.

If you’ve already been to this museum, I’d love to know what you thought of it. If you have another hands on museum or science museum you love, please share it in the comments! 

5 Favorite Truck & Tractor Books

We love a good kid’s book! We try to read at least 2 books a night, in addition to a Bible story, and the boys read throughout the day. I’m going to start doing posts that are featured on books we like (or are on our wish list!).

This week, let’s talk tractors and trucks! Our youngest son is really into farm tractors and monster trucks. Here are some of of our favorites and others that come highly recommended! 

The Big Book of Things That Go

My 2 year old is obsessed with this book. He has memorized all of the trucks, tractors and trains by color and type. It’s so much fun for him. If you have a kid who loves planes, trains, automobiles…basically anything that can “go,” they will love this book! 5-6 large pictures on each page with a description of each one. Be warned, this book is big! It’s 11×14 inches.

Good Night Tractor
I’m adding this one our Christmas list. We say ‘good night’ to our Things That Go trucks and tractors each night. I also found Goodnight Digger too!

We love DK books like these. I like to call these kinds of books ’round up books.’ They do a great job at focusing on a category and providing 100s of photos and descriptions. My youngest son loves going through the pages and naming off all of the trucks. 

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
This book has great reviews – I think this may be a stocking stuffer this Christmas!

Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night?
How cute is this cover? This is a super cute rhyming story and even cuter illustrations! 

7 Tips for Back to School Preschool Prep

‘Back to School’ doesn’t start at Kindergarten – it starts with preschool! 

Last year Max went to 4 year old preschool for 3 half days. This year, he’s doing the 5 year program for 3 hours, Monday through Friday. I think the new routine will be great for him (exhausting, but great!). The structure will help him prepare for Kindergarten next year (well at least, that’s the goal).

Here are my tips for preschool back to school prep:

1) Kid friendly alarm clock
No more sleeping in! Although my boys are early risers, once and a great while they will sleep a bit later. For those of you with kids who like to snooze in the AM, check out this kid friendly alarm clock to help getting your little ones out of bed and moving!

2) Dinner Help
The first weeks will be hectic for everyone. Not only do kids have to get use to this new schedule, but parents as well. Doesn’t matter if you stay at home with kids or go to work, school adds another layer of complexity to your day. Anticipate it being crazy and sign up for meal delivery for the week, so you don’t have to worry about dinner. I use Small Potatoes which is local to me in metro Ann Arbor Michigan. They have 3 entrees featured every week, along with a few sides, salad and dessert. Their menu is extremely healthy and they use fresh ingredients!

3) New school supplies! 

They don’t need that much for preschool (at least our school doesn’t send home a list) but I like to stock up on the following for writing practice and other homework:

Writing paper 

New crayons
Glue sticks
Kid scissors
Pencils
Pencil box to keep supplies organized

4) Backpack
Need a new backpack? Check out Amazon’s selection and if you have Prime, get it in 2 days.

5) Fun after school snacks
Make them fun! Here are some ideas from Pinterest.

6) Antibacterial wipes & hand sanitizer
I try to make it a habit for my boys to wash their hands when they come in from outside or activities, and school is no exception. So many germs! 

7) School Year Kick Off Gifts for Teachers
Don’t forget about your teachers! Kick off the new school year with brownie points and buy/make your teacher a gift. I bought Max’s teachers Tim Horton’s gift cards. I know Target is pretty popular as well. Or maybe buy your new teacher some fun school supplies like Flair pens or fun colored Expo markers.

I’d love to hear any tips, tricks or mom hacks you have for back to school prep. Please share in the comments!

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