Friday, November 29, 2013

Fall Leaf Art

When I was little, we would spend Thanksgiving weekend at my grandparents house, which was "up north" in Michigan. My grandpa loved his long walks out in the woods and I always loved to join him. We would explore trails as he would teach me about plants, animals and leaves. I always brought home souvenirs from the journey and my mom always wanted to craft with them. Sometimes we painted rocks, but others we made leaf art.

I wanted some one-on-one time with my 3 year old...we are in the middle of moving and it has been hard on him. So I took him out for a walk and we made some leaf art of our own!

Fall Leaf Art 

Items Needed:

Various leaves 
Wax paper
Paper towel
Iron and ironing board
Potato peeler

After you collect your leaves from our walk, you can start by having the kiddo(s) pick out some fall colored crayons. My guy picked out orange, yellow, red, brown, dark blue, and purple. Crayons that are broken or ones that have the paper missing may be best, because you will be ruining them. 

Parents will need to complete the next step. Take the potato peeler and "peel" some flecks off of the crayons into a box or bowl (we used an old puzzle box top).

After you get enough of the flecks (I let my kiddo tell me "when" for each color). you can get the ironing area set up. Set up the ironing board and place a hand towel onto the board. You will need two larger pieces of wax paper. If you want to create more than one, you will want to tear off additional. 

Now, place the leaves onto one sheet of the wax paper in whatever design you want . Try to keep them towards the center. The next step was always my favorite part! Let your kids sprinkle the crayons onto the leaves and all over the paper. Make sure they stay closer to the center so the color doesn't leak out of the design. You can separate the colors so you have bursts of red and purples, etc...or mix them all together like we did.

Top the leaves and crayon flecks with the top piece of wax paper and then a piece of paper towel over that...

Parents will have to complete the next step. Run a warm iron over the paper towel...just one or two passes should do the trick. Then voila!! Art!!!

This kids craft always reminds me of my childhood...and my grandpa who is deeply missed around the holidays and always. I hope that my kids will someday pass this Thanksgiving tradition onto their kids :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Disney Dining Plan (Done Right)

My family loves food and we love Disney food most of all. We always look forward to trying new places and we drool over menus every year in anticipation for our trip. The Disney Dining Plan has been a crucial part of our vacation! I have heard some people say that the dining plan isn't a good value. Just like anything in is what you make of it! I'm going to give you my top 5 tips for making the DDP work for it's money!

5. Character Dining

Let's face it. Even as an adult, it is very cool to see those characters up close. It's a time saver for anyone interested in meet and greets and a stress reducer if you are a mother of a preschool aged child. We also like to book an early character breakfast in the parks, like Crystal Palace or Tusker House. This gets you into the park early and on those rides faster than the crowd at the turnstiles. We were lucky enough to get to "open" Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin last year at the Magic Kingdom because we were the first family to the ride. I don't know if we would have spent the money on Crystal Palace out of pocket, so in this instance, that one dining credit bought us a great memory!

4. Try New Places

Sometimes the unknown is scary, especially you are a non-adventurous eater. The dining plan can be a great way to explore new cuisines. Each trip we try one restaurant that is different and new to us. I suppose this can be done with or without the dining plan, however I know that I probably wouldn't have picked half of the places that we have eaten at had we paid out of pocket. Using those credits takes the edge off of paying $29.00 for a dish called Couscous M'Rouzia Fassi, especially when you have no idea what to expect. Although, it turned out to be pretty tasty!
3. Snack Attack

Know your snack credits and use them wisely! I see too many Disney guests scrambling in the gift shops to use up their snack credits before they check out. We never have any left on that last day because we put ours to good use. Items such as the giant ice cream cookie sandwich from Sleepy Hollow ($4.19), chicken fried rice from Anandupur Local Food Café ($3.99), or a much needed café mocha at Starring Rolls ($3.69) are all good values of a snack credit. Another good use of a snack credit is any cult food in Walt Disney World such as a Churro, Mickey Bar or a Dole Whip. But by far, the best use of a snack credit is saving them all for the Food and Wine Festival. Most of the goodies that you can buy during the festival are available under the plan. Just look for the purple DDP logo next to the item to be sure. We love snacking all over the world showcase!
2. Creative Credits
We always have at least one sit down meal that is not as expensive as the others. On one of our trips we ate at Sci-Fi Diner for lunch and had burgers. We ended up paying about $15 per person out of pocket. In doing this, we were able to double up on credits and eat at a signature restaurant another night. At that meal, we all had entrees that were around $50 per person. Once again, I am not sure that I would have tried that signature table service had it not been for the dining plan. The restaurant that we had eaten at had gotten mixed reviews, but since we had the credits I thought it was worth the gamble. It turned out to be a wonderful dining experience and I would gladly eat there again. Don't feel that just because you are given a set amout per person - per night of stay, that they must be used that way. Get creative and see what you can come up with!
1. Order Big

The number one reason that we use the dining plan year after year is because that we love to eat...a lot...on vacation. My husband is notorious for ordering the most expensive item on every menu. I, on the other hand, love to eat sweets while on our trip. I literally have been known to pick a table service restaurant based solely on the desserts. Now, my husband will order big every place we go. Disney or not, plan or that in itself is a money saver for us. Now, as for me...I would never splurge on the calories or cost of a desert if I wasn't on the DDP. Having the dining plan is like a free pass for those sweet treats that I have grown to love. Just another reason that we will use that dining plan again and again!


I know that the dining plan will not be right for everybody, however I truly feel that it is a good value for our family. We love not having to worry about the cash for the meals and we love the way that it allows us to splurge on a $40 plate and a rich dessert afterwards. It adds so much to our vacations that I don't think we would take a Disney trip without it!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Turkey Day Craft

You see, my son has gotten very involved with Halloween this year. We had taken him to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and he has been obsessed ever since. Every other word out of his mouth has to do with pumpkins. candy, bats, spooky decorations, etc. Who can blame him after a party like that?? We had such great fun!

Lil' Man dancing with Sanderson.

So now that Halloween is over, we are having a hard time to get him to move forward. When Thanksgiving is mentioned he literally asks, "Is Halloween going to come again after Thanksgiving?". I know my son...and a craft was in order. Maybe multiple crafts!

Paper Roll Turkey

Items Needed:

Emptied Toilet Paper Roll or Paper Towel Roll (cut down to about 2 inch tall tubes)
Construction Paper
School Glue
Black Marker


Cut the feathers, beak and gobble thingy. Wattle? Gobble? Whatever. Unless you have a kid very proficient with safety scissors this will probably be faster, safer and easier if the parent does the cutting.


I dot each piece with glue and let my little guy pick the order of the feather colors. We line up the bottoms and I let him put the face together on his own.

Two dots of the black marker for eyes and some dry time and you have a cute little Tommy Turkey!


We plan on doing a couple more crafts to round out November including the handprint turkey and a special craft that my mom always did with me during Thanksgiving weekend. Stay tuned for that one!

My little guy is already more excited about Turkey Day and has not been talking nearly as much about pumpkins and ghosts! Amazing what a little paper and glue can accomplish! What are your favorite fall crafts to create with your kids?