5 Things To Do With Your Kids At Home This Holiday Season

An At-Home Holiday Season

We will be one of many families staying home this Holiday Season. A time of year we typically spend bustling around and traveling to ultimately spend time gathering with loved ones, becomes a low key season at home with just the 5 of us.

It may be different than what we’re used to, but this year has taught us a thing or two in being flexible. Just like our candy hunt in lieu of trick or treating on Halloween, we’ll be filling our days with other kinds of activities and making new traditions.

I’ve been brainstorming this week on how we have still been making this time fun for the family, and came up with 5 things we have done or hope to do this year!

5 Things To Do With Your Kids This Winter

Keep reading for a breakdown of these 5 things you can do with your kids this winter !

1. Make Homemade Decorations and Crafts

2. Bake Up Some Fun

3. Family Movie Night but make it Holiday Style

4. Learn about Traditions Around the World

5. Help The Community

Make Decorations and Holiday Crafts

I’ve always been a creative person and making seasonal crafts is one of my favorite things to do! Getting to share the fun with my kids and watching their creativity blossom is such a joy! Try making a traditional dried orange garland (tutorial coming soon!), handmade holiday cards, or salt dough ornaments for your tree! You can even add some magic to snack time by making holiday themed arrangements with their snacks (who says we can’t play with our food!?) The options are endless with handmade!

We made these holiday cards using carved potatos to create stamps!
Felt Pom Poms in any color make a great decoration! I’ve collected many colors over the years, and love dreaming up new combinations!
Simple snacks become adorable snowmen! What designs can you make for the holidays?

Bake Up Some Fun

Get the kids in the kitchen and teach them some recipes this holiday season! Do you have a favorite recipe that has been passed down through the generations? Have you been wanting to try some cookie recipes you’ve pinned on Pinterest? Now is the perfect time to do it and make some new memories and traditions in the meantime. My Gluten Free Italian Christmas Cookies are a hit in our house and my Gluten Free Snowballs Recipe and Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies are coming soon!

Family Movie Night … But Make it Holiday

Like many families, we have dubbed Fridays our “Family Movie Night”. Every Friday for the past few years, we’ve taken turns choosing a movie to end the day with, ordered pizza from our favorite local restaurant, and cuddled up as a family – no phones, no video games, just quality time.

We’ve turned this into a Christmas Movie Night for the month of December and you can too! All we do differently is to limit our movie options to Christmas movies, and have hot coco after pizza! We usually turn on our electric fireplace and have the Christmas tree lit up for an extra cozy feel, and sometimes we’ll turn the kids’ room into a fort and watch on a laptop.

Learn About Traditions Around The World

With the world at our fingertips these days, it’s never been more simple to find the information we seek. Being home for extended periods of time (since March for us), it can be easy to feel isolated and alone. Why not exercise your sense of wonder and nurture feelings of connection by learning about Holidays around the world?

I believe it’s so important to teach our kids that everyone has different traditions and cultures and that they make the world a beautiful, dynamic, and rich place! Do some Google research, look up YouTube videos, and even have a go at some crafts and recipes from around the world this season!

Help The Community

If you follow me on Instagram it’s apparent that I love my small town. With more people struggling in the country than ever, there is a massive need for support within the community (there is always a need, but now more than ever). There are tons of ways to help, whether from home or in person (while being socially responsible of course!)

A couple options could be gathering things around your home for donations. You could donate warm clothes and coats, shoes in good repair, and gently used toys. My kids love finding things they can donate to other kids that will love them! You could grab a meal from a local restaurant, necessities from a neighborhood grocer or market. You can head to small businesses in the community instead of big box stores. If you are in a place to do so, you can even adopt a family to buy gifts for this Christmas. Find your community’s website or social pages and look for ways you can help in your community!

Auburn Locals, here are just a few resources for ways you can help:

Check out my post How to Support Auburn, CA businesses during the pandemic .

Pay It Forward Auburn Facebook Group is always posting community needs and ways to help, like the Annual Toy Drive

You can help the Placer Food Bank in their fight against hunger in the community.

You can donate to or adopt a family through Kids First

These are just a few ways you can help the community this season!

Home For the Holidays

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And there you have it! As you can see, there are many ways to still make this at-home holiday season a special one. I hope this post inspires hope and creativity for your and yours.

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Fire Season in California & How You Can Help

*Read through to the bottom for a list of resources as well as my checklist for your fire season go-bag.*

photo source: wordpress

Every summer seems to be more intense with fire-season arriving earlier each year here in California. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t on edge right now, carefully listening for evac sirens and fully expecting to be told to leave at a moment’s notice.

We’ve got our go-bags packed and ready should anything happen, and I’ve been stirred awake every hour in the middle of the night and rushing to check my windows for fires. Opening up my local incident groups and checking all of the sleeper fires that have popped up. We back up to a wooded area, and right now it’s unsettling- especially knowing Sun-Tues we are expected to have more dry lighting storms.

While I’m just anticipating it, many are actually living this terrifying reality. Fleeing their homes and all their belongings, not knowing if they will have a home to come back to- due to the now 500+ wildfires that ignited across the state when some 10,849 lightning strikes hit California last weekend.

As of tonight- August 21st, over 770,000 acres have burned and tragically 5 lives have been lost.

My heart goes out to the many Californians affected by these wildfires. My friend’s parents just lost their home and everything in it in Santa Cruz- (I’ve linked their gofundme below if you feel called to donate to/share their relief fund info. )

photo source: wordpress

The smoke is blanketing our skies all across the state, and our Firefighters are doing everything they can to keep us safe and attempt to preserve our beloved state. Thank God for them and their selflessness.

Below are some resources if you if you or someone you love is affected, or if you feel called to donate:

I put together this checklist you can print out for your fire season go-bag. There are spaces for you to fill in your own items as well as a notes section for anything you want to make sure you don’t forget.

Save and print this for your go-bag checklist.

Stay Up to Date with the latest Fire News: https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/

Check the Air Quality where you are: https://www.airnow.gov

*Be Ready & Prepared: https://www.ready.gov/wildfires

How to Be Wild Fire Ready: https://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/12/10/heres-what-you-can-do-to-prepare-yourself-for-a-wildfire/?fbclid=IwAR15j9GO6AZwYViaUiueIuOzdCMLUqMjgYSSm3AK__74M9-YCz81jUh3iYw

To donate toward the California Fire Foundation, which provides programs and resources for victims, firefighters and the communities affected by the wildfires : https://www.cafirefoundation.org/programs/supplying-aid-to-victims-of-emergency/

“The American Red Cross, which is paying to house people in motels this year instead of in traditional shelters due to the pandemic, is calling for cash donations. Its website provides numerous ways to donate.“(source: SacBee)

The Solano Disaster Relief Fund: https://www.solanocf.org/Funds/Public/FundView.aspx?hFund=157&hFundCode=1&hFundType=1.

The Napa Valley Community Foundation: https://www.napavalleycf.org/donate/

The North Valley Community Foundation: https://www.nvcf.org/donate

The Community Foundation Santa Cruz: https://www.cfscc.org/updates/fire-response-fund

My friend’s parents lost their home and everything in it, here is their gofund me: Ian & Denby Adamson Fire Relief Fund

If you know of any other local resources for victims or ways to donate, please leave those links in the comments.

Disneyland Magic at Home And DIY Dole Whip Recipe

Create some Disneyland magic right at home, plus recpies for a DIY Dole Whip, Tigger Tails and more!

Where are my fellow DisNerds ?! It’s no secret that I LOVE all things Disney. As far as fandoms go- my biggest is Disney, hands down.

From growing up on the movies and shows and forcing my mom to start calling me Ariel at age 3, to visiting Disneyland almost yearly since I was 5, getting engaged there, and my obsession with Disney Trivia, Funko Pops and golden era animation – it’s just part of who I am, and I’m so happy that my kids now share in the love of all things Disney!

Many of you mamas are the same way, which is why I’m so excited to share this post with you! Be sure to read through for the DIY Dole Whip recipe!

We were fortunate enough to make it to Disneyland less than a week before the Coronavirus outbreak made it to California shut the park down (thank you again to my amazing Mom for taking us!! I’ll be posting more in detail on our trip soon, lots to share!) It was the twins’ first visit and they’ve talked about it non stop since we got back.

Being home with nowhere to go during lockdown, I wanted to do something extra special and fun for the kids, so I planned a Disney day for us! Check out the rest of this post for ideas on how to have your own Disney day at home!

Disneyland at Home

When the kids woke up, I told them all about our special day! First I asked them if they’d like to pick out a character to dress up as!

Now, they have a TON of Disney character costumes, but I wanted to have them use their imaginations and do a Disney Bound (using their own clothes to create a Disney character inspired look) instead. I think they did pretty great!

Easy DIY Mickey and Minnie Disney Costumes

The boys both picked “classic Mickey”, as they call him, and put together matching outfits! My oldest even had the brilliant idea to cut out little yellow ovals for their shorts which we taped on (so cute and creative of him, right!?).

Sis picked Minnie, of course, and used her cute polka dot pink dress and her pink sequin Minnie ears to get her perfect look! She has a plush Minnie with the same outfit so she thought it was REALLY cool getting to match her favorite toy!

Disneyland Park Music at Home

Next, we turned to our best gal Alexa to set the mood! There are a couple ways to enjoy Disney inspired sounds at home!

Our first, and most used option, is to say:

“Alexa, play Disney Hits music!” – This brings you to the Disney Hits station and plays all of your favorite songs from Disney movies like “I’ve Got a Dream” from Tangled, “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan and so many more!

Second, which we loved using leading up to our Disneyland visit, you can say:

“Alexa, play Disneyland music!” – With this option, you will get to hear music played in Disneyland and on the rides! I really enjoy listening to Walt’s famous dedication speech: “To all who come to this happy place, welcome.” It makes me a little misty every time! This option also brings you music from Main Street, the Enchanted Tiki Room and more!

Last but not least is this hidden gem, which I wish I would’ve known about sooner! Sounds of Disneyland was shared in a Disneyland Addicts Facebook group in in and O…M….G! This website is amazing! You can listen to every single song from the parks! Rides, outdoor music, all of it. Just click on the little music note with lines icon to see all of the different sections! (See below) Check it out, you won’t be sorry: Sounds of Disneyland

Ride Disneyland Rides … Virtually

If you’re missing the rides at Disneyland as much as us, have no fear! There are all kinds of YouTubers who have recorded them for us to enjoy virtually! Grab a cozy seat in front of your TV or laptop and enjoy these POV (point of view) ride throughs!

You can even line your kiddos up in a laundry hamper and move them side to side and make the bumps along with the turns in the video! We did this when ours were smaller but now we enjoy raising our arms and leaning back and forth as if we’re actually there. Don’t knock it till you try it!

Some of our favorite ride channels include:

The Coaster Views

SoCal Attractions 360

Theme Park HD

AND, here’s a BONUS video… If you grew up in the 90s like me, don’t forget to end your YouTube session with the classic Disneyland Sing Along video! Does this bring back any memories for you!? We watched this before every single trip, and now I get to share that magic with my kids! It’s so fun!

Disneyland Food and DIY Dole Whip Recipe

One thing I look forward to the most at Disneyland is the food! We all have our favorites, right? Before being diagnosed with Celiac, my ultimate Disneyland foods were their churros and the famous Monte Cristo from the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square!

Word on the street (or… in the Disneyland fandom groups I’m in on Facebook)…Tio Pepe’s makes the churros Disneyland uses, and they can be purchased in bulk at Costco. Don’t quote me on that, but it’s good to know you can find some pre-made yummy churros for your Disneyland day!

I’ve also always been a huge fan of Dole Whip! We always stop and grab a cup of that sweet pineappley goodness before the Tiki Room and eat while we enjoy the show!

While Dole Whip has always been near the top of my list since long before my gluten free days, I definitely have a new found appreciation for it as it’s something I know i can safely eat… so, we sought out a way to make it at home!

Lucky for us, Dole has a recipe for the DIY Dole Whip Recipe right on their website! You can find that recipe here or save this picture to your photos!

DIY Tigger Tails Recipe

You’ll Need:

6 Lollipop Sticks

1 Bag Jumbo Marshmallows

1 Bag Kraft Caramel Bits

1 Tbsp Heavy Cream

1 Bag White Chocolate Wafer Melts

1 Bag Chocolate Wafter Melts

1/2 tsp Orange Extract

1.Place 3-4 Jumbo Marshmallows sideways on each lollipop stick

2.In a large glass bowl, melt caramel bits in your microwave or over a double boiler according to directions on bag, stir in heavy cream

3.While caramel is warm but not hot, dip marshmallow skewers to coat. Place on a parchment covered cookie sheet to set (about 10 minutes)

4.When caramel has set, melt white chocolate wafers according to directions and stir in orange extract and a few drops of orange food coloring until you reach desired color. Dip skewers to coat and place back on parchment covered cookie sheet to set.

5.Melt your chocolate wafers and using a spoon or a piping bag, add your Tigger Tail stripes!

*optional: • add a splash of vanilla to caramel. • set caramel dipped marshmallow skewers in fridge before dipping in melted white chocolate. • dip Tigger Tails in their signature orange sanding sugar after white chocolate and before chocolate stripes.

Recipes from Disney

Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic, Disney has also released a couple of their famous recipes for us to whip up at home!

Check out these recipes for:

Disney Parks Churro Bites

Mickey Mouse-shaped Beignets

Enjoy the Disney Magic and New Memories

While this certainly can’t replace a trip to Disneyland, it is a special way to add some Disney Magic at home during this crazy time.

With just a little bit of planning, and a whole lot of love, you too can enjoy a special Disneyland at Home day!

I hope these tips were helpful! Please let me know if your family has any fun Disneyland at home traditions I didn’t mention, or if this post has inspired you to do your own special Disney day!

And above everything, I hope you’re all staying safe and well with your families. Sending all my love 💚.

Auburn, California : How to Support Small Businesses During a Pandemic

*I got the idea to create this post from my friend Ashley’s post : Support Sacramento Area Businesses from Home . Sacramento locals, be sure to head over there for a list of Sacramento small businesses. *

By now we’re all feeling the effects of the COVID 19 outbreak. Even if you’re not sick with it, or know somebody who is, chances are your child’s school, or your workplace have been shut down. If not that, you’re most likely one of the brave humans on the frontlines in hospitals, grocery stores, or driving trucks.

I’ll take it a step further and say- if not that, you’ve most likely had a hard time finding even the basic things you need on your grocery list, or your business is still operating because your family has no other choice right now. My point is, this is a global issue, history in the making, and not a single one of us has been spared.

Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve seen in my small town is the way this has affected our small businesses. I’m lucky enough to live in Auburn, California – endurance capital of the world, and I know that if we all pull together to support these small business during this trying time, we will, indeed, endure.

Below is a list of small businesses I’ve put together over the last few days. I put out a comment on our community Facebook group asking for any small businesses that have been (and will be) affected to chime in , and let us all know how we can help them through this. The response was overwhelming, and heartbreaking, and it’s taken me several day’s to put this post together.

Please know this post is truly a labor of love for my beautiful town. If there was ever a time to come together to support local business, it’s now. Additionally, if you’re in Auburn or the surrounding Placer County cities and would like to be added, please DM me on Instagram or email me through my contact page. Feel free to share this post so we can help as many people as we can. Thank you!

Healthy Habit Organic Eatery – offering To-Go, Curbside Pickups & Gift Cards

Hannah Bell Photography – currently booking, offering gift cards to be redeemed at a later date

Wild Little Fishfresh seafood, offering delivery to those who can’t make it out

Sandalwood House for Cooksthe local kitchen store, is offering delivery, pick up, and virtual shopping assistant via video conferencing by appointment

Maki Airheating & air, electrical service, installation and more.

Happy Wok offering to go, delivery, online order and gift cards.

Szechuan Restaurant – offering to go, delivery, online order, and gift cards.

Jackie Plus Jay Photography – wedding & portrait photography, offering gift cards to be redeemed at a later date

One 11 Kitchen & Bar offering to go, curb side, & pick up services, as well as gift cards

Crane Heating & Cooling commercial & residential heating and air.

Bear Print Industries – screen printing, embroidery, promotional, graphic design, business cards

Desirae Marie Photography lifestyle & portrait photography. Offering 15% off to customers buying gift cards to redeem at a later date

Brigitte’s Serenity Studio – serenity store & meditation studio

Studio Beholistic sound therapy and yoga center

Utopia Body Piercing & Utopia Tattoo – closed, both offering gift cards to be redeemed at a later date

Zhush Modern – boutique apparel, jewelry and decor. temporarily closed, offering online shopping and gift cards

A Healing Touch -Therapeutic Massage, accepting new clients, gift cards available

Wilson Property Services – (530) 457- 5459 – yard services, landscaping & maintenance, junk hauling, and more.

Auburn Trophies trophies, awards, custom engravings, gifts and more.

Loved Again Children’s Boutique – new and previously loved children’s clothes, toys and more. temporarily closed, offering curbside pick up, shop their Instagram (linked).

Missions Coffeeoffering drive thru, delivery through Food Jets , and gift cards in any denomination

Pro Gutter Guy – gutter and leaf cleaning services

Nauyok’s Landscape & More – Landscaping to handyman work. Offers discounts to seniors, first responders, and military.

Roger’s Automotive & The Master Technicians – offering early drop off and late night pick up, as well as picking up and dropping off your vehicle from your home

Pizza Express – offering curbside pick up, take & bake pizzas, to go orders, and delivery to Auburn & Rocklin

Gina Marie’s Custom Desserts – offering to go orders and curbside pick up.

Little Angels Childcare- Melinda Brown ( mauburn939@aol.com , #313611324 ), offering childcare off Bell Rd.31 years experience, meals included, lots of room for new kiddos.

Auburn Alehouse – open for business, offering curb side pickup and to go orders

Soul Shine Boutique – boutique apparel & gift shop, online shopping is available, currently offering free shipping.

Ann Keen Photography – local photographer, offering prints and gift cards to be redeemed at a later date

Artistic Edge Salon & Spaopen & accepting clients, taking precautions to keep clients safe

Revive Studio – permanent cosmetics, offering

El Agave Taqueria – offering gift cards,
buy one for $20 will be worth $25, $50 will be worth $65, and $100 will be worth $125.

Painted Arrow Day Spatemporarily closed, offering gift cards and booking for future dates.

Mattress by Appointment showroom appointment only, products online as well.

Alta Vista Dentalfollows strict cleanliness protocols & guidelines, offering $79 new patients exams.

Rocklin Glass & Mirror – open for business

Auburn Book Nook – independent bookstore, open for business

A Sewer Guy Plumbing – open for business

Lincoln Music – offering Face Time music lessons, also open for business and practicing social distancing and maintaining strict sanitizing schedule

Golden State Pressure Washing – commercial & residential pressure washing and concrete steam cleaning

Vina Castellano Winery – offering free wine delivery within 20 miles

Old Town Grill – open for business, offering take out & to go menu

Restorative Recovery Center – small long term intensive outpatient and sober living. Will be open to new patients in the coming weeks.

Drake’s European Auto Service – auto repair shop, open for business

Auburn Gymnastics – gymnastics center, temporarily closed, offering free instruction on social media for kids at home.

Alesci’s Barber Shop – update: closed until April 3rd

Paul the Tree Climber – arborist offering tree services, specializing in pruning and tree removal

Crimson Tattoo – open for business, following strict precautions ( see Facebook for details)

David’s Plumbing – (530) 852-2054 , plumbing services

R & S Handyman Service – (530) 613-6018 handyman services, journeyman electrical certified.

ATown Bikesbike shop, open for business, following strict disinfecting protocols

Blades & Arches – brow studio offering microblading and aesthetics services. Open for business, one client at a time.

Rebel Wrapt – handmade jewelry, shop online

Trew Pump Service – well and irrigation services, open for business

Anything Trees – all tree related services, free estimates

Placer Wine Trail & Lone Buffalo Vineyards – open for purchases (no tasting experiences)

North Fork Chai – temporarily closed, offering online gift cards

Old Town Pizza – dine in closed, offering pick up and delivery

Auburn Leaf & Bean – offering call in orders with curbside pickup and gift cards available

Heelesque with Jess & Ambitions Performing Arts – offering online classes and personal dance video chat trainings

Out on A Limb Tree Services – full service tree company specializing in tree trimming/removal, mistletoe removal, defensible space clearing and emergency services

The Feisty Phoenix – boutique apparel and gifts, shop online

Lindsay Esthetics – esthetician, offering online gift cards, free skincare consultation via Face Time, and products can be purchased online

A.L. Harvey Law – estate planning and business law

Clinical Massage Rocklin – offering gift cards to be redeemed at later date

Trail Blazer Pizza – purchase gift cards via phone to be mailed to you and used at later date

Melissa Bowers, At Your Service – lifestyle & business concierge service, errand running, task completion and more. Open for business.

Story Lit Film – film production, branding and promo content

H20 Adventures – Rafting, offering gift cards to be redeemed at a later date

Checker Cab – taxi services, open for business

Ryan G Motorworks – auto shop, German auto specialists, open for business

Warren & co Sourdough – cottage bakery, bread can be found at Auburn Bodega . Soon to add bread subscription & curbside pick up.

Hott Shots Detailing – car detailing, open for business

Baked & Brewed – coffee shop & bakery, offering curbside pickup

Advanced Skincare by Monique – skincare treatments, anti aging, acne treatments, advanced peels and waxing. open for business and offering gift cards

Pawsitively Divine – mobile pet grooming right to your door, open for business

AAMCO – transmission and total car care, open for business, sanitizing customer cars before and after services

Urban Dreamer Farm & Vineyard Farmstand -small farmstand Wednesdays 3:30-6pm & Saturdays 9am – 1pm, gift cards available, as well as baked goods, produce, fresh cooked food, and some keto treats

Aztec Landscaping – landscaping company, open for business

Signed Sara – handlettering and illustration, workshops, free online courses soon to come.

Elite Auto Spa – disinfect and kill bacteria in vehicle with steam and ozone machines, open for business

Auburn Nutrition – natural food, vitamin, & supplement store. Open and offering curbside pick up.

Autumn’s Facial & Waxing Studio – open and following steps to keep clients safe

The Club Car – offering takeout, curbside pick up, and gift cards.

Sierra Grill Smokehouse – offering curbside pickup

California Organics – offering curbside pickup

Save On Dry Cleaners – (530) 888-7006 , open for business

Auburn Community Accupuncture – gift cards available to purchase now and redeem at a later date, current patients can purchase AcuPass ( 6 treatments for price of 5 )

Howell’s Sewing & Vaccum – sewing machines & supplies, fabric, thread and more. Vacuums and parts. Service & repairs. open for business

Echo Valley Ranch – Hay, feed and pet supply. Offering curbside pick up, online ordering, and gift cards.

Tre Pazzi Trattoria – traditional Italian restaurant, open and encouraging To-Go/ Take Out orders

US Artisan Marketplace – boutique style shopping featuring local artisans and curators. open for business, adjusted hours.

Bishoff Plumbing – (530)470-3539 , plumbing services, open for business

Anderson’s Sierra Pipe Co. – plumbing, electrical, pump, and irrigation supply. offering curbside pick up, retail & repair open

Crudo Restaurant – Asian fusion cuisine, offering curbside pickup and free delivery

Thank you for all of your support, and I know together we can get through this!

Quick note: I’m working on putting together a list of our local area bloggers, a great way to keep an eye out on what’s going on in the community as well as find inspiration for daily life! I’ll be sure to share once that post goes live.

One easy (and free) way you can support us small business bloggers is to subscribe to our blogs and follow us on social. Subscribing will send you an email notification any time I make a new post (I don’t send out newsletters or spam mail, promise!) and can be done on the form below. You can follow me on Instagram here and Follow me on Facebook here.

Top 3 Tips for Disney on Ice First Timers

*full disclosure: We were hosted by Feld Entertainment. All opinions are my own*

The Pre-Party

We had the opportunity, last Friday, to attend our very first Disney on Ice show – Mickey’s Search Party! Thank you so much to Feld Entertainment for hosting us!

We started our night at Golden 1 Center at a Coco themed pre party! The kids got to make tissue paper marigolds, color their own mandolin, and do color sheets of their favorite Coco characters! Light snacks were provided and we also got to meet the one and only Minnie Mouse!

The pre-party was so much fun! We wrapped up after Minnie meet and greets and we were escorted to our seats in the arena for the big show!

The Main Event : Disney on Ice , Mickey’s Search Party !

Mickey’s Search Party is a fantastical display of ice skating, dancing, and expert acrobatics! AND, It’s chock full of all the Disney Magic you know and expect from Disney!

The classic characters- Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald come together to rescue Tinker Bell from some pesky pirates! The crew takes us along adventures from some of our favorite stories: Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Moana, Frozen, and in its Disney on Ice debut- Coco!

Throughout the night, I found myself making mental notes of things to remember for our next Disney on Ice show, and I brought them all together for this post!

Here are my Top 3 Tips for Disney on Ice First Timers! :

1. Pre-Plan Parking & Arrive Early

This goes for most arena style shows, but getting to the venue early pays off. We had a little trouble with finding a parking garage that accepted event parking, and was close enough to walk quickly to the event center. Getting parking pre planned will alleviate some of that last minute stress.

Also, Hawaiian Airlines had a cute little pre-show before the Disney on Ice start time so everyone is entertained while you wait for the main event!

2. Eat Before the Show

We came early, but not quite prepared! We had some small snacks before we left our house and were planning to eat at the venue but food at arenas is super pricey. We caved and bought some because, of course everyone was hungry…but in hindsight, a big meal before leaving the house would have been the best bet. So be sure to come with full bellies or be ready to pay for the high arena food.

3. Prepare to be Amazed!

Seriously, Mickeys Search Party completely blew me (all of us!) away. Disney on Ice has been a bucket list item for our family, and this was our first show. It did not disappoint!I have heard from many a Disney on Ice veteran that this was the best show yet!

We got to see and hear from so many of our favorite Disney characters! Not only that, but this was this is the debut of the Coco characters to Disney on Ice!

Head to my Instagram to check out my Disney on Ice highlights!

The bright colors, costumes, and theatrics were second to none, and we all loved singing along!

The show features jaw dropping acrobatics, fun interactive sequences, engaging storytelling, and larger than life sets & costumes!

In Conclusion

I honestly cannot recommend Mickey’s Search Party enough! It was 10 out of 10 fantastic and left me anxiously awaiting our next trip to the Golden 1 center and Disney on Ice! Thank you again Feld Entertainment for a wonderful night full of Disney Magic that we surely won’t forget!

If the show is coming to a town near you, and you want to go see it, use code FB20 for a discount on select seats!

Classic & Simple Christmas Porch Makeover

*full discloure: this porch makeover was in partnership with Green Acres & Rod Works. *

We go all out at Christmas time, even outside. Decorations go up as soon as I can possibly get them up – sometimes even as early as Nov 1st. YEP! I’m one of *those* people. I jokingly refer to myself as “part Elf” for this reason.

Tis the Season for Holiday Magic

While many may not share my same early bird enthusiasm for the holiday of all holidays, I think it’s safe to say that a lot DO appreciate the decorations and they joy they bring!

I had so much fun decorating my porch with Green Acres Nursery & Supply this fall (see my fall porch here) that I decided to partner with them again, as well as with Rod Works Unique Home Decor for my Christmas Front Porch makeover!

Front Porch Before

If you didn’t see that post, I shared a before and after. Check out my porch BEFORE adding the holiday cheer!

Pretty basic stuff. A good spot to sit and sip coffee and enjoy the morning air, plants to add some pops of green, but far from festive!

So, the family and I made a trip down to Rocklin to our local Green Acres, and picked out some things to add just the right amount of Christmas to our space!

Christmas at Green Acres

We love these live trees they carry! Perfect size for porches or small living spaces! And since they’re potted, you can plant in your yard when the season is over and have your own live tree all year long! We got one of the small ones!

So many gorgeous fall & winter flowers! The kids loved looking at all the colors.

They also have a ton of cute decor pieces to chose from! These were some of our favorites!

We ended up taking home a beautiful wreath, a small live tree, a metal “Merry Christmas” sign, and a bag of pine cones.

Christmas at Rod Works

Next up, we went down to Rod Works, a destination for unique home decor! I needed a few things to add some Christmas magic to the porch!

One of our two local locations is relocating so the entire store was discounted for their moving sale. I always love browsing around Rod Works so I cant wait to see where the new location will be!

This was a first time visit for the kids and my husband, but they all loved the selection they had and ooh’d and ahh’d at what they’d found!

So many cute things for the holiday season, but they have things for all year round! My style is timeless decor that incorporates natural elements ( marble, wood, metals ) , and they have so much of it! This place is truly a home decor lover’s dream!

I ended up falling head over heels for a metal “silent night” sign, an antiqued brass jingle bell, a faux pine stem with mini pine cones, and a long strand of wooden decor beads, and I knew exactly how I wanted to use them!

Armed with the plants and pieces we got that day, and a few other pieces I’ve picked up along the way, it was time to add a little Christmas magic to the front porch! Check out how it all came together!

Simple Christmas Front Porch

I added a simple velvet bow to the beautiful pinecone wreath from Green Acres

The metal “Merry Christmas” sign we picked up at Green Acres made its way to our wall medallion!

I’m on the market for a galvanized bucket for my live tree, but I propped it up on a stool I had for a little height, added my plants (also, coincidentally from Green Acres!) to one side, and my trusty garden owl on the other.

The Silent Night sign and Jingle Bell from Rod Works make this spot a perfect little magic moment, and I added tall candles on either side to frame it out.

I love my little live tree from Green Acres so much, and the fact that we can replant it! We opted for the small size since we rent and this isn’t our forever home. This way we can add it to a larger bucket as it grows and eventually plant it in the ground when we do have a place to call our own.

Mini Live Christmas Tree

I carefully wrapped it in the decor beads from Rod Works, some gold bead & ornament garland, and battery operated twinkle lights. It adds the perfect sparkle at night and honestly I think it’s the cutest little thing!

I even topped it with its very own mini gold star!

Another fun and simple DIY was inspired by the bag of pine cones from Green Acres. Originally I was going to simply add them to a basket for the corner by the door, but I thought they needed a little more love.

Easy DIY Christmas Decorations

The pine cones got to keep their home in the basket, but instead of adding them to the corner, I turned them into a centerpiece for our outdoor coffee table!

I first put my potted plant in the center of the basket, surrounded the plant with the pine cones, and added a simple bow to the front! I put it in a metal serving tray to offset the color of the basket & table, and I love how it turned out!

If this were indoors, I would replace the plant with a pillar candle in a large hurricane vase filled with coarse salt to replicate snow. The possibilities are endless!

The faux pine swag made its way to my beloved salvaged window, got its very own velvet bow, and I also added a jingle bell strand for good measure and more sparkle.

In Conclusion

We are so happy to have partnered with Green Acres and Rod Works for this classic and simple Christmas front porch makeover!

With just a little bit of effort and a whole lot of love, it’s easy to transform any space into one that brings joy and happiness to all who see it! We hope you feel inspired to add a little holiday magic to your home and life today! Happy Holidays!

2019 Holiday Gift Guide

*disclaimer- this Holiday Gift Guide contains some affilliate links, which may give me a few cents when you shop through them. They cost nothing extra to you and help me to keep sharing content you love!*

As the season of giving is underway, I’ve been scouring the web to find you some of the best gift ideas out there for my Holiday Gift Guide series. I’ve shared with you my Kid’s Gift Guide for this season, and now I’ve got something for the grown ups!

My goal with these Holiday Gift Guides is to share a little inspiration for every budget, with many of the items being things I know and love personally! I also want to make shopping a little less hectic this holiday season. To do that, I’ve added a link for each gift for easy shopping. Enjoy!

For the Foodie

Harry & David Christmas Gift Basket with Wine

St. Dalfour Classic Flavors Gift Set

Mason Jar Makerplace Hudson & Lee Mason Jar Coctail Shaker Gift set

Green Chef Meal Delivery with clean ingredients

Pyrex Simply Store 22pc glass food storage set

For the Homebody

Scott Living Chenille Rib Decorative Throw

Scott Living Flameless LED Wax Pillars set

Dearfoams Sweater Knit Clog Slippers

Certified International Artisan 4 pc Mug Set

Sensorpedic Scent Infused Memory Foam Pillow

For the Tech Lover

Google Home Mini smart speaker

Aluratex 8in Digital Photo Frame with Motion Sensor and 4GB Memory

Solo Pilot 15.6in Slim Laptop Briefcase

gofanco EdgeS 5 Port Charging Station

Chargeworx Power Bank Portable Charger

For the Jet Setter

U.S. Traveler Sparta Hardside Spinner Luggage

Travelon Multi-Purpose Travel Packimg Cube

iLive Bluetooth Wireless Active Noise Canceling Headphones

Violet Ray Floral Whipstitch Passport Holder and Liggage Tag Set

SensorPEDIC Conforming Memory Foam U-Neck Travel Pillow

Hopefully this Holiday Gift Guide makes your shopping a little easier!

Be sure to check out my Kid’s Gift Guide for gift ideas that encourage learning and creativity!

Gift Guide : Kids Gifts that Encourage Learning & Creativity !

*disclaimer- this post of Kids Gift Ideas contains some affilliate links, which may give me a few cents when you shop through them. They cost nothing extra to you and help me to keep sharing content you love!*

Happy Black Friday friends! Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s officially my favorite time if they year, Christmas time!

I’ve put together a gift guide full of Kids Gift ideas for kids of all ages! I hope this helps inspire you this holiday season, and I’ve provide easy to shop links for each one! Enjoy!

Babies & Toddlers

STEM Blocks Wooden Block Set

From Classic toys, this adorable Wooden Forest Baby Walker

This Leap Frog Puppy Pal Scout was also a hit when mine we’re younger! It’s a fun and interactive educational toy and oh-so cute!

Encourage baby’s curiosity and fine motor development with this Multi-Activity Cube wooden toy from Classic Toy!

Little Kids

Melissa & Doug Scoop + Top Wooden Ice Cream Play Set

We’ve got a couple of these Crayola Jumbo Art Creativity Kit tubs. I love that they are a starting point for their creativity to run wild! I also love that we can reuse the heavy duty containers indefinitely for storage!

Pair this Melissa & Doug Wooden Tabletop Paper Roll Dispenser with some crayons for hours of fun!

Magformers 30 pc Magformers Magnet Tiles set

Schylling 70 pc. Make It Wood Building Set

Big Kids

My son got this Learning Resources STEM Robot Mouse Coding Activity Set last year for Christmas and he absolutely loves it!

Hey! Play! Mirror Refracting Telescope

T.S. Shure Oragami & Other Fun Fold Ups Book

ALEX 124 pc. Travelers Sketch & Draw Easel Case

Mom Life Hack: Machine Washable Rugs featuring Ruggable

*full disclosure: This post is sponsored by Ruggable. All opinions are my own.

Be sure to read to the end for 15% off discount code from Ruggable !

Being a mom of 3 young kids, and 4 fur babies, you can bet this house sees it’s fair share of dust & dirt. I’m sure I must vaccuum at least twice a week, but even so, the area rug in our front room never seemed clean.

Between the dirt the kids drag in, the dust & hair from our pets, and the ware and tear of daily life, it was looking grimy within a couple of weeks of purchasing.

Not only that, but no matter how hard I tried to flatten them, the edges kept curling up and it just looked bad. I knew we needed to try something different.

Curled sides on our old rug.

The kids have a Ruggable rug in their room and we love it so much! Ruggable rugs are machine washable, water resistant, and so easy to clean. After a year with our traditional rug in the living room, and knowing that something needed to change, we decided to make the switch to a Ruggable rug!

Cambria Sapphire rug by Ruggable

We chose the Cambria Sapphire 8×10 rug for our living room. The size is perfect to separate our living area from the rest of the space in the room, and tucks nicely under our sectional couch.

With the help of my husband, we had the old rug rolled up and the new one in place in about 20 minutes.

Watch this video to see how easy Ruggable rugs are to install!

Ruggable rugs are a two part system. They include the nonslip rug pad, which makes them perfect for smooth surfaces like tile or wood flooring, and the rug design cover itself.

The rug covers are low pile, stain resistant, waterproof, and can be thrown right into your washer and dryer for easy cleaning. Yep- even the 8×10 size! I’m telling you it’s a dream come true! You can learn more about the Ruggable care instructions here.

I am so pleased with how easy yet impactful this simple change was for our living room, and just in time for all of the holiday entertaining we will be doing! Now is the perfect time to make the switch or add a brand new Ruggable rug to your home- whether it’s a 3×5, a runner, or an area rug like ours.

Update: It’s been over a year since we got our ruggable and I still love it! I do have one corner that curls in a high traffic area but have found that using a garment steamer I can flatten it back down with ease!

Ruggable has been so generous to give my readers a 15% off discount with the code FUNKIMI15! Find all of their designs and shop Ruggable rugs here .

Feel Good Foods for Gluten Free Weeknight Meals feat. Congra Foods

* Full Disclosure: This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Conagra Brands. All thoughts and opinions are my own. *

In the six years since my celiac diagnosis, and seven years being strictly gluten free, the gluten free food market has grown leaps and bounds! Even so, I often receive questions and comments about finding new gluten free foods at the grocery store that *actually taste good.*

While I agree that it is pretty overwhelming, even daunting, at first… there are a few key things you can do to maintain your gluten free lifestyle without feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

My struggle as a mom of 3 is always weekdays- non existent are the days of eating the crusts off of my kids PBJ’s (they’re not gluten free!), and I’m always running 10 places at once so anything I can grab-and-go makes my life so much easier. I’ve learned a few things along the way so here are some pretty easy-to-do tips on how to make sure you’re all stocked up for your gluten free week!

Tip 1: Pile Up the Produce

This may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people ask me if certain veggies are gluten free- potatoes and carrots surprisingly get the most questions.

Cruise the produce section of your store with your reusable cloth produce bags, and fill those babies up with all the fresh fruits and veggies you like! It’s all gluten free, and they make perfect on the go snacks.

Some may need a tiny bit of prep…No problem, just wash and chop when you get home and store in a glass jar in the fridge, so when you’re hungry, it’s as easy as opening the fridge and taking your pick!

Tip 2: Pasta Perfection

I was devastated when I got my diagnosis. An Italian girl, who can no longer enjoy her pizza and pasta and pastries? What a shame! And you won’t believe how bad the gluten free “pasta” at the time tasted. It was strictly brown rice pasta and it was a terrible, gummy mess!

We’ve come so far over the years and there are now soooo many wonderful varieties out there- from boxed to fresh, spaghetti to rotini. My whole family loves pasta, and it’s perfect for busy nights, so we just buy the gluten free pasta for everyone! The texture is just like the real deal. Make sure to keep a couple of boxes in the pantry for easy gluten free weeknight dinners.

Tip 3: The Freezer is Your Friend

Okay, say it with me, “The Freezer is my friend.” If you’re thinking ‘who is this crazy woman trying to get me to say I love the freezer?’ just hear me out…

The freezer aisles at your local grocery store is where you will find the majority of your tasty gluten free options, and now a days they are so good. I always check the gluten free section, but be sure to scope out the rest of the freezer aisles for gluten free sprinkled throughout. Many stores will often have an extra hang-tag on their gluten free products.

I like to stock my freezer with a few different things, the Healthy Choice Grain Free Power Bowls – made with cauliflower rice and all kinds of goodies from evol are some recent favorites. Here are a couple I’ve got on hand right now for busy weeknight meals!

First up is the Fire Grilled Steak bowl from evol. I LOVE the way this bowl tastes! They are made with nothing artificial, the seasoning is spot on, and it is great as is. You could also pop it into a gluten free tortilla to make a burrito or over greens for a hearty salad!

Check out this description of the bowls from their website:

Fire grilled steak raised without antibiotics is combined with black beans, white rice, red and green bell peppers, roasted corn and cheddar cheese mixed with an insanely tasty cilantro lime pesto sauce in this flavor-packed favorite. Did we mention it’s also gluten free? With 18g of protein and 7g of fiber in each bowl, this dish is more than just delicious, it’s just what you need!

Healthy Choice Power Bowls : Grain Free

These grain free (gluten free, whoop whoop!) bowls are right up my alley. They’re served over riced cauliflower and their single serving bowls are made from plant based fiber! That little touch goes a long way with me. Besides that, the Grain Free Healthy Choice Power Bowls taste sooo good, the veggies are nicely cooked, and they are really a great meal.


Check out the description of this bowl from the Healthy Choice website:

Chicken and broccoli don’t have to be boring! This grain-free dish tosses those healthy-eating staples with riced cauliflower, mixed veggies, a zesty marinara sauce, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese for a dish that proves anything is possible with the right ingredients–and the right attitude.

And there you have it! A few easy tips for keeping up your gluten-free lifestyle all week long with some feel good foods from Congra brands! I hope this was helpful and that you can shop confidently in your grocery & freezer aisles from now on! Be sure to check your packages for the words “Gluten Free”.

To purchase the products from Congra Foods mentioned above, shop here .