Kick Start the New Year with a Healthier, Wealthier and Better Organized You! – Resolution Series

I’m ready for the fresh start that the new year brings! There’s something about flipping over to the first month on a brand new calendar that makes you ready to take on challenges and adventures. Even if you’ve been soured on New Year’s Resolutions in the past, I promise that these will be fun, practical, budget-friendly and totally do-able…which means even when February rolls around, you’ll still be in the resolution groove!

Resolution Series - Kick Start the Year Towards a Healthier, Wealthier and More Organized You!

Check back soon for the first post in this series. Please sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be informed when new posts are listed!

Blessings to you for a healthy and happy New Year!

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2014 – A Look Back at the Year that Was

My first six months of 2014 were vastly different than the last six. It has been a whirlwind either way, to say the least! We loved, lost and experienced new things.

Buckle up…we’re going on a year 2014 review!

Planning Your Disneyland Vacation - Should You Pinch Your Pennies or Break the Bank?


I had been posting on my former blog Painted Butterfly Studio since 2008 and on another site before that so I’ve been blogging for a long time. My posts in early 2014 were mostly about my dad and his health struggles. It was a way of updating my family and friends that are spread around the country. They were able to read about his daily life in a very real way so much better than a Facebook update ever could convey. I wrote about his declining health in the post My Dad and my last post on that site was this one, Remembering My Dad.

You are never too old for your first pair of Mouse Ears!

I hadn’t written much in 2014 because I didn’t feel like I had much to blog. After my dad’s death all energy and joy to write had been sucked right out of me. For three months I didn’t write at all, thinking about what I wanted to do with myself. I was in a serious rut, for sure! In addition to this, my husband decided to switch careers and started a new apprenticeship as an electrician. This meant a pay cut and limited time at home with him attending school again. The budget was strapped tight and we made additional cutbacks throughout our household.

In May, my family and I went to Disneyland (with passes I’d won on the radio) and I felt myself become rejuvenated again. Disneyland had been my dad’s favorite place and I could feel his presence with me through the Park. It was as if he guided me that day in the direction I needed to go. I had a plethora of Disneyland posts on my original blog that I’d been wanting to rewrite. I had tons of images, trip reports, stories and knowledge from 40 years of visiting Disneyland that I wanted to share. I knew that I wanted to start fresh and move in a new direction and from that on June 17th, 2014, Saving Up for Disney was born!

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I started by writing and posting once or twice a day until I had a decent amount of material on my site. I focused on the budgeting aspect of being able to save for a dream vacation on a frugal budget. I wrote Disneyland tips, a few DIY ideas and some recipes. It was a start!


I searched endlessly online, reading all that I could about Disney blogging and joined a few groups on Facebook. I have found a warm community of like-minded Disney fans that are helpful and welcoming!

Pilot-Junior

I stumbled across The Magical Blogorail and applied as a Junior Pilot (guest writer). I was overjoyed to be accepted and am thrilled with the friendships and challenges I receive from posting with them. My first post was about How Disney Helped Me Deal with the Loss of My Father. It was well received and I was so happy to be able to share my thoughts. I am glad to say that I am now going to be a Full Time Blogorail Pilot in 2015 and can’t wait to be posting monthly with the Blogorail in the new year!


It was through the Disney online community that I also discovered the Disney Parks Moms Panel search. I’d seen the question and answers on the Disney websites but never knew how the application process worked. I was able to apply this year and over the course of a wild 3 month process, made it through: Round 1 question and essays, Round 2 questions, essays and video entry, Round 3 phone interview (with Gary Buchanan, Disney PR & Social Media extraordinaire!) and finally to the instant Round 4 quick-turnaround question. I can call myself a Disney Parks Moms Panel finalist (one in eight in consideration for the sole Disneyland slot) but unfortunately I didn’t receive the final position . It was terribly exciting and terribly crushing at the same time. I blogged about my experience in the post What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search. Next year I’ll have a “FastPass” straight to Round 2 and you can be sure I’ll be trying again!


In August my husband and I had the opportunity of a lifetime, traveling to Central Europe with a vacation that I won on Pinterest from Skype. What an adventure that was & I blogged about the experience here. In making time for blogging, I’ve cut back a bit on my contest entries but I did write a post on how the contest process works for me. Let me know what you win!

Double rainbow of Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic


In October I received an invitation to join other media families at Disneyland’s Family Media Day. It was a trip like no other I’ve ever experienced. Though I’ve visited the Parks 100+ times over my years, this was a visit where I felt as if I was Disney royalty! In addition to receiving complimentary Park-Hopper passes for me and my family, we also enjoyed a party with treats and eats, special souvenirs and even a designated space to view the fireworks. I can guarantee you that there were a few happy tears shed when I watched the finale explode over Sleeping Beauty Castle that night! I feel very blessed that in a short amount of time blogging I was recognized by Disney to receive that invitation.

What to do at Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park


Moving in to 2015 I have plans and ideas in place that I hope my readers will find exciting! I intend to incorporate more guest writers, giveaways, unique DIY, Southern California travel ideas and lifestyle advice that helps us continue to “save up for Disney”. I plan on hosting a few more in-home #DisneySide parties just for fun. My post about a simple #Disneyside birthday party in a Mine Train theme was my most-read post of the year!

Seven Dwarves Mine Train Party ideas

I hope to grow my blog with more readers and comments (that’s where you come in, hint hint!) We plan on taking another day trip to the Happiest Place on Earth in the coming year and I’ll bring you more entertaining reviews and posts about my discoveries. As a San Diego native, I’ll also be writing more about other Southern California attractions so you can plan your own vacation here to our sunny state!


In the meantime, I wish all my readers and followers a very Happy New Year! Please join me in January for my new budget-friendly Resolution Series!

Blessings!

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Catch a Chill! – Join in the Frozen Fun at the Disneyland Resort

Image from Disney.com

Can’t get enough of the Frozen stuff? There’s a chill in the air all over the Disneyland Resort! There’s ice skating in Downtown Disney, a Frozen-themed show at Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire along with Anna & Elsa’s pre-parade float. The frosting on top is a fantastic new Frozen Fun event taking place at Disney California Adventure Park. Grab your coat and mittens, it’s going to be an icy-good time!


DOWNTOWN DISNEY

Image from Disney.com

Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink in the Downtown Disney Winter Village- now through February 22, 2015. The 50-by-90-foot ice rink offers sixty-minute skate sessions (scheduled between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursday, and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays). Chalets around the rink offer a variety of food, clothing and gift items.

   


DISNEYLAND

On Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015 a new “Frozen”-themed show opens in Disneyland at Fantasy FaireThe team of Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones will put their unique spin on the “Frozen” story as they adapt it for the Royal Theatre. It’s expected to be a fast-paced and wacky show as they play alongside Anna, Elsa and the other Faire Princesses.

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade will resume daily performances starting this day as well. Anna, Elsa and Olaf will once again make a “pre-parade” appearance on their own special float.

Frozen Pre-parade float at Disneyland


DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK

Officially starting Wednesday, Jan. 7th, 2015, Frozen Fun kicks off at Disney California Adventure Park. Guests can sing along with the “Frozen” soundtrack, play in snow, meet Olaf, Anna and Elsa, and warm up at a nighttime, family dance party. And of course, that’s just the tip of the iceburg…read on!

“For the First Time in Forever – A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”housed in the Muppet*Vision 3D Theatre, this is now the newly transformed Crown Jewel Theatre of Arendelle. Anna, Elsa and Kristoff take part in a comedic retelling of their story that features popular songs from the film. Two hosts lead the festivities, with the “Frozen” characters making memorable appearances throughout. Some of the favorite musical sequences and lyrics are shown on large screens so the audience can sing along. Who could resist?!

   


“Olaf’s Snow Fest” -next door to the Crown Jewel Theatre in Stage 17. It will become a charming castle courtyard reminiscent of Arendelle. Do you like warm hugs? Meet and greet with Olaf for a photo. Kids of all ages can play with real snow and zip down a snow slide. There is a viewing area nearby if you just want to watch. The Tubadors and The Frolicking Fjords offer musical entertainment. Guests may enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and decorate their own Olaf cookie.

Image from Disney.com

Stock up on Arendelle essentials at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and shop for apparel, keepsakes, treasures & toys.

Image from Disney.com


Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome – Anna and Elsa will now receive visitors in the Disney Animation building in Hollywood Land. (This means they are no longer available at the previous meet & greet location at Disneyland Park). As they did in the previous location in Fantasyland, guests will utilize the Return Time Ticket to meet the characters, avoiding long wait times by securing a reservation time to return to the Royal Welcome. Also inside the Disney Animation building, guests visiting the Animation Academy will be asked “Do You Want to Draw a Snowman?” – an Olaf drawing experience with an added Marshmallow-drawing class.

Image from Disney.com


“Freeze the Night! A Family Dance Party”  in front of Monster’s Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue in Hollywood Land (where the Mad T Party previously took place). “Chill out” in a family friendly setting inspired by the icy environment of “Frozen.” Created for all ages, this interactive party offers exciting music from DJ Chill, games, photo opportunities, drinks and snacks, an ice sculptor, and plenty of fun at the Ice House.

   


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Meaningful Holiday Traditions – Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The best things in life are free…that’s what they say anyway! When it comes to holiday traditions however, I fully believe this. Traditions aren’t intended to be fancy or over-the-top: Traditions inspire, spur creativity and create lasting memories. Keeping up traditions doesn’t have to cost you anything extra so don’t worry if your budget is already over-taxed.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

For children, something only has to be done once to make it “tradition” (ie: “We always have waffles on Christmas”, only because you served them last year!) Ask your children what traditions are their favorite. My parents and grandparents were very big on Christmas traditions and it made the holidays extra special. Each family member painted a winter scene on their front windows using tempera paints. Christmas Eve night was spent at church, holding candles and singing songs. Santa’s gift was always assembled and unwrapped under the twinkling tree. Christmas Day our entire (very large!) family got together for lunch and to open presents in our wild gift exchange…it was an all-day event! It’s a tradition we hold today. Those are incredible memories that I hope I can create in our own way for my children.


Here are a few ways you can incorporate traditions into your holidays this year:

FOOD

Do you have a traditional food that gets prepared each holiday? In my husband’s family, his aunts get together and make tamales that we can enjoy in the new year. For our family luncheon, my aunt brings an ambrosia salad (a sweet treat with marshmallows and canned fruit). It was something that my grandmother used to prepare and my aunt carries the tradition.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Last year I made this Christmas Cranberry Cake, which was a hit!

A friend of mine started a cookie decorating party several years ago for her nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She makes the sugar and gingerbread cookies, I make the royal icing and we all gather for dinner and decorating. Everyone enjoys it, young and old alike. I recommend using squeeze bottles for the icing (which makes decorating and clean up so much easier).

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

As a child, my mom always prepared a Bisquick coffee cake to eat on Christmas morning. Many times I’ve prepared an overnight French Toast that I can make the night before and pop in the oven while we unwrap gifts. If you don’t have a traditional food think about what your family favorite is and serve it over the holiday week. Or find a new favorite in a holiday-themed cookbook, like this one, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


MUSIC

Certain holiday songs can take me back to a place and time in my childhood and I’m sure there are songs that do the same for you. The Little Drummer Boy for me is sitting next to my dad in the church choir and hearing his deep bass pah-rump-a-pum-pumming out the beat of the drum. Hearing Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You puts me back to the 90s while out Christmas shopping with my brother. Whether it be Josh Groban’s Noel album, Mannheim Steamroller’s acoustic A Fresh Aire Christmas or The Chipmunks Christmas Don’t Be Late, these songs put us in the holiday mood.

For me it’s not Christmas until I’ve heard Whitney Houston sing Do You Hear What I Hear. Goosebumps every time! Think about your favorite seasonal music and play it at home or in the car. Sing the lyrics, teach your kids and let the music put you in the Christmas spirit!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

At my son’s school Christmas Concert


VOLUNTEER

Volunteering your time to a cause is beneficial not only to the other person but to your spirit as well. With the extra events going on in communities this time of year, extra volunteers are always welcome. Check in with local shelters, soup kitchens and churches to find out how you can pitch in. With three young children, my time is limited and finding someone to watch our children so we can donate our time to a cause can be a challenge. Find out if there are volunteer opportunities for your children to participate in as well. My husband and son have gone out with our church to deliver sandwiches to the homeless and it was an eye-opening experience that he’s never forgotten. If your time is limited, consider donating your gently used clothing and toys to a local thrift store or shelter.


PHOTOS

Capture the moment in time with a snapshot of your child in front of the Christmas tree with their favorite gift of the year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


GET OUTSIDE

Enjoy an outdoor activity with your family that is appropriate for the season. We have never celebrated a “White Christmas” before so we make do with warmer temps and a hike in our neighborhood park. If you have snow, get out in it with the kids for a sledding competition, snowball fight or snowman building contest. Make it your tradition on one of the holiday nights to take a drive and see the Christmas lights. We have a neighborhood nearby with fantastic Christmas displays and lights and we make it a point to drive though it several times during the season and to walk through it at least once. Load up with cocoa and treats to snack on as you walk!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

Christmas in San Diego – A morning hike at Mission Trails


PAMPER YOURSELF

No need to spend a ton at the salon this season when you can enjoy a relaxing “Spa-day” at home. The holidays can really take it out of you! Doesn’t a warm foot soak sound lovely? Do it up at home and you can rest in your pjs while you polish your toes or read a magazine while wearing a homemade facial mask. Pretty up with creative hair-dos for a holiday party. I bought some Jamberry nails this season and have loved how long they last (2 weeks on my hands and 4 weeks on my toes!) I have Midnight Celebration (the first image on the left) on my hands right now and think they are so fun & festive. Pampering might not fall under the free catagory, but staying home is certainly cheaper than going to a salon. Perhaps pampering yourself might also just be as simple as curling up in bed with a favorite book to recharge your holiday batteries. Make it your new tradition to take a break during the busy season and take care of yourself!


UNWRAPPED

For at least ten years there was a gift box shaped like a toy shop that was passed through our family. It was a delight to receive that box, no matter what was inside because it was tradition. Finally the box fell apart and had to be tossed out but it is a fun tradition to start in your family. Find a quirky gift bag or box and keep it around the family, gifting someone new each year.

I was shocked when a friend told me their Christmas morning of gift exhanging was traditionally over in less than 10-minutes: apparantly it was a frenzy of unwrapping, paper flying and “thank yous” thrown around the room. Our family tradition has always been to open gifts one person at a time and for the others to watch what they receive. That way the giver has the joy of seeing the recipient view their present for the first time. Our kids know that we take turns in our home too and the youngest child gets to choose the first gift. Some families have a Pickle Ornament on their tree and the first person to spot the pickle gets to choose their first gift to open. We all have pickle ornaments in our family too but that’s because our surname is Dill!

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!


ORNAMENTS

9 years ago I started collecting these Hallmark ornaments in the Beauty of Birds series. I missed the first year! This was the offering in 2014, isn’t she pretty?

Image from Hallmark.com

I have all of my collection on a small white tree and traditionally have the tree set up on my dining room buffet. Collecting ornaments throughout the years is a beautiful tradition. I have ornaments on my tree that my grandmother gave me as a child. I adore pulling out my beloved ornaments year after year.

Meaningful Holiday Traditions - Budget-friendly Ideas to Make the Season Bright!

The handmade ornaments that my children have made over the years are a delight. A paper crayon drawing of an angel that my littlest made in Sunday school is my current tree topper.  Many Disney fan collect ornaments at the Parks as a memento of their dream vacations. If you have it in your budget, it’s a nice tradition to take the kids out and let them choose an ornament at the store each year. These would be ornaments you would send off with them when they are grown and have their own home! (from left to right, Tigger, Disney Parks Light Up EarsSorcerer’s Apprentice – images from Disney Store)

   


RELIGIOUS SERVICES

When I recently asked my older children what their favorite part of the Christmas season is they both answered the same: Church. We attend church every Sunday and they also attend a life group Bible study once a week. Church is a part of their lives on a regular basis already but I was still intrigued to hear that attending services is their favorite Christmas tradition. During the holidays people in general are more open to attending church service. If you don’t already have a “home church”, consider accepting the invitation of a friend to attend. And if you already regularly attend, reach out to friends and invite them to come with you to service.


This post contains affiliate links

What are the favorite holiday traditions in your family? Please share them below in the comments! 

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Christmas Cranberry Cake

A friend of mine recently made this cake and was kind enough to share. When she told me it only has six ingredients, I was intrigued. 5 of the 6 I already had in my supply and only the fresh cranberries would need to be purchased. Imagine my delight when I found a bag of whole cranberries at Costco for the low, low price of $1.99! And get this, that one bag is enough to make four batches of this heavenly cake. I made one cake and froze the rest of the cranberries to use when I make the cake again (and I will be making this cake again!)

Cranberry Christmas cake

The recipe goes together in a jiffy. I absolutely recommend using real butter (I don’t think it will come out the same if you substitute). Make sure it’s whipped long enough as this is what will make the cake moist and fluffy. The slightly sweet cake offsets the tangy taste of the cranberries in this festive and delicous cake that is perfect for holiday parties!

Cranberry Christmas cake

This is a fantastic cake that is easy on the budget and great for sharing. The pieces can be cut small and hold their shape nicely. You really don’t even need a fork, just pick up the slice like a brownie. Recipe found on Barefeet in the Kitchen, Cranberry Christmas Cake. Better print out a few copies and take them with you because your friends will definitely ask for the recipe!

Cranberry Christmas cake

 

13 Disney-inspired Christmas Delights and Desserts You Can Make at Home

I love holiday baking and a Disney-themed recipe is the icing on the cake! These ideas and recipes are perfect for adding a little Disney magic to your festivities. I’ve included edible decor, cookies & cakes, gift giving treats as well as special recipes to serve on Christmas morning.


IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

These Frozen trees make great decorations or cake toppers (and are made simply with a frosted sugar ice cream cone, flaked coconut and a spice drop).

Image from Parents.com

Warm up with a cup of what is called the World’s Best Hot Chocolate, served at Napa Rose at the Disneyland Resort. Recipe to make it yourself, from The Disney Diner.

Image from Indulgy.com

If you can’t make an enormous gingerbread house like they do at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa, you could still make a mini version at home! I love this gingerbread recipe from Sweet Sugar Belle.

Image from Disney Parks.com


COOKIES & CAKE

Using Sweet Sugar Belle’s gingerbread recipe & paired with her royal icing recipe, this is a sweet treat that is sure to delight! You can even cut your gingerbread boys & girls into Mouseketeer versions like they do at Disneyland.

Image from Disney Food Blog.com

Sweet Sugar Belle’s sugar cookie recipe is also my favorite. Paired with the royal icing recipe and some candies, it’s a treat to make these adorable Mickey snowmen.

These pretty green holly leaf cookies have a Hidden Mickey surprise! Fan them out on a platter to create a delicious wreath.

Image from Family Disney.com

Bakerella has the original cake pop recipe (she invented them). These silhouette Mickey cake pops are precious!

Image from Bakerella.com


GIFT GIVING

A treat bag filled with Cinnamon Glazed Almonds would be a delight. These are sold throughout Walt Disney World.

Image from The Disney Chef.com

I love seeing these holiday themed caramel apples throughout the Disney Parks. Oh My Disney! has the instructions on how you can make a Disney-style caramel apple at home!

Disney Holiday Desserts & Delights!

Wrap up a Frozen-inspired popcorn ball studded with candy & snowflakes for a sweet treat to give to friends.

Image from Life Made Simple Bakes.com


CHRISTMAS MORNING

Greet the family on Christmas morning with these adorably delicious Mickey shaped cinnamon rolls!

Image from Family.Disney.com

I have a penchant for banana bread and this one doesn’t disappoint; it’s also the same recipe they serve in the Disney Parks!

I just bought my first doughnut pan and think I’ll have to try this one out…isn’t it cute!! These are Mickey’s Apple Cider doughnuts with a chocolate glaze.

Image from Family.Disney.com

I have pinned more ideas on my Very Merry Christmas Pinterest board.


What is your favorite dessert or delight during the holidays? Share in the comments below and please consider signing up for my newsletter to receive indication of future posts.

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SoCal Guide – Legoland Holiday Snow Days + Winter Nights

Celebrate a rare snow day in San Diego at the LEGOLAND California Resort! For those of us in San Diego, snow is a novelty…a special treat to be sure! And it’s especially fun to frolic in the frost at such a whimsical place as the Legoland California Resort.

Image from Mobile Legoland.com

Legoland Holiday Snow Days + Winter Nights event is going on now (November 22nd to January 4th). Their special gift to guests attending this event? Receive a FREE return ticket to be used early in the new year! Present any paid admission ticket at the Our Gift To You kiosk inside the Park, and receive a ticket to return to Legoland California and SEA LIFE Aquarium between January 5 – March 1, 2015 (You must request your free return ticket on the day of your paid visit. Free tickets valid only between January 5 – March 1, 2015. Additional restrictions may apply).

With the admission ticket guests will enjoy hillside snow tubing, snowball toss games and can build a snowman with LEGO accessories.

Follow the adventures on the Event Guide and handy map.

Image from Visit Carlsbad.com

When night falls, Winter Nights at Legoland kicks off. There’s even a food truck with yummy treats served by Santa’s Elves!

Stay for the nightly fireworks over Miniland USA (December 26 – 30). Witness the lighting of the 30-foot tall LEGO Christmas Tree and enjoy live entertainment with LEGO Friends Live. Stand by the life-sized LEGO Brick Santa and Reindeer for the perfect family photo opportunity.

Image from California Legoland

Review the event calendar to see what is happening and when:

  • Winter Nights festivities at 5-7pm on November 28, 29 and December 6, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.
  • Official Tree Lighting on December 1, nightly Tree Lighting at 5pm, December 4-25th.
  • Holiday Fireworks at 7pm on December 26-30th.
  • Kids’ New Year’s Eve celebration from 3 – 6pm with fireworks and a “Brick Drop” at 6pm on December 31st. (capacity limited)

New this year for guests 3+ is Ice Skating (separate pricing for admission and skate rental).

Image from California.Legoland.com


Have you enjoyed Legoland Holiday Snow Days + Winter Night event before? What is your favorite part of the event? Share below in the comments and please sign up for my newsletter to receive notification of future posts.

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Fitting “Fancy” into your Holiday Budget – All the Glitz and Glamour on a Shoestring

Ideas for capturing holiday glitz on a tight budget

There is no time like the holidays for a bit of glitz and glamour. And even on a tight budget, it’s do-able! You just have to do your research (and resist the tempation to buy the first sparkling thing that catches your eye!) You can have fresh flowers in your home this holiday, along with hosting a holiday party and wearing the prettiest holiday cocktail dress…you just need to know how (and where to shop).


FRESH FLOWERS

Instead of a fancy designer bouquet from the flower shop that costs an arm and a leg, choose an inexpensive collection of blooms from the grocery. Split them up into multiple vases and spread them down the table runner for more impact. To really capture the sights of the season, choose bright red poinsettias. Ditch the crinkly foil pots and place them in inexpensive but sturdy pots tied up with a ribbon for the full holiday effect. From left to right, images from BHG.com and Mark Kintzel.com

        

 


HOLIDAY DECOR

“Fancy” doesn’t mean “Over-the-top”. Restraint is chic and elegant and when used correctly, a little goes a long way. Decorate with natural materials from your yard (like pine cones) or with cast-offs from the Christmas tree (use the branches to create a wreath or table decoration). Add DIY pillowcase covers in a holiday theme to your usual sofa cushions. Wrap gifts in one choice of paper with high impact, like this black and white striped version! From left to right, images from ThriftyStories, Tracy’s Trinkets Treasures and Pinterest.

    


HOLIDAY PARTY

No need to break the bank by stocking your party with expensive beverages when there are many reasonably priced options that will keep the party going! Consider serving one beautiful signature drink in a holiday theme for all guests to minimize purchasing several kinds of liquors. From left to right, images from The Style Celeb, The Top Inspired, A House in the Hills and Will Cook for FriendsPeruse this list from Food and Wine.com with the 150 best wines under $15.

         

If you are trying to stretch your dollar, opt for serving appetizers over a full meal (unless you suggest to guests to make the party pot-luck and each person can contribute a dish). Hummus is quick and easy to make. Toss together a colorful chunky salsa to serve with chip. Or skip food and go straight to dessert! Images from left to right, Cooking Classy, Inspiring Healthy Living and Printabella

                


HOLIDAY PORTRAITS

If you’re on a budget, you probably don’t have the money to hire a photographer to capture just the right image for your Christmas card. Take the photos yourself and create a collage of the best shots. Or ask your friend with the “artistic eye” to take a group shot of your family. If you don’t have a “nice” camera trying renting one from Borrow Lenses (affiliate). I rented a lens for a trip this past summer and loved the entire process; they were great (and my pictures looked so professional!)

Look online for fun photo ideas to pose your family and take a look at this article on how to take better photos of your kids. Shutterfly (affiliate link) has lovely photo gifts including holiday cards, ornaments, mugs and more. I have been making calendars and photo books from Shutterfly and gifting them to my family every year for the past 7 years; they are always a welcome gift, especially personalized with photos of your family!

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A natural photo of the kids is perfect for the annual Christmas card (and cheaper than hiring a photographer!)


HOLIDAY WEAR

Tired of dragging out that same ol’ little black dress year after year? No need to splurge and buy something you can’t afford. Ask a friend if you can borrow a showstopping accessory for the evening. ThredUp (affiliate link) has some incredible holiday items at a fraction of their original costs. Pick up a sequined jacket to fancy-up that ol’ dress, sparkly new shoes or an evening bag…or even a new gown altogether!

Everyone loves to dress up their little ones in special holiday clothes for parties and school or church functions but the cost of all those outfits can add up. For boys consider purchasing one nice pair of solid color slacks and a white shirt that can be dressed up with different ties or a colorful sweater vest. For girls, accessorize a plain dress with a fun scarf or patterned tights. Again, I recommend ThredUp for incredible, like-new clothing at resale shop prices.


 In what ways do you “fancy up” your holidays on a budget? Share your tips in the comments!

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A Disney Christmas – Holiday Decor and Ornaments Galore!

It’s so magical to include Disney themed ornaments and decor in your home during the holidays! Whether you make ’em or buy ’em, there are thousands of beautiful ornaments and decor ideas to make this season a little more merry! From left to right, Disney Store, Hallmark, Lenox & Disney Store


HANDCRAFTED BY YOU!

Pinterest has a plethora of fun ideas, of course!

     

Mike Wazowski Rudolph Nose Ornament DIY

Image from Family Disney.com

Tinkerbell’s Pixie Dust globe ornament DIY

Image from Crafting in the Rain.com

Jack Skellington sharpie marker DIY globes

Image from Theresa’s Mixed Nuts.com

Elsa’s Snowflake Ornament DIY

Image from Family Disney.com


STORE BOUGHT

If you haven’t the time or talent to make your own this year, many incredible Disney-themed ornaments can be had online! From left to right, Disney Store, Lenox, Disney Store and Hallmark.

LENOX

Lenox has some beautiful designs and high quality you’ve come to expect from them. I love the expressions on Disney’s Ariel’s Best Friend ornament from Lenox. And the pretty gold scales on her tail, so lovely!

Image from Lenox

 


HALLMARK

Hallmark has been a go-to for our holiday ornament shopping for years. My kids have a collection of fun designs with a Disney twist for the holidays. I like that there are some not-so-typical designs this year, including Baby Mine and True Love’s Kiss.

Image from Hallmark.com

Image from Hallmark.com


DISNEY STORE

Naturally the Disney Store (affiliate link) has amazing Disney-themed ornaments in dozens of designs. There is an ornament for everyone on your list!

Alice in Wonderland Ear Hat ornament

Image from Disney Store.com

Doc McStuffins and Lambie Sketchbook Ornament

Image from Disney Store.com

Mickey and Friends Holiday Ornament Set

Image from Diseny Store.com


HANDCRAFTED BY ARTISANS

Over on Etsy, a quick search under handmade for Disney Christmas Ornaments and you can find some beautifully crafted items that support small business.

Personalized Mickey or Minnie ornaments by KeepsakesbyNicolina

Image from Keepsakes by Nicolina on Etsy.com

Handpainted Buzz, Woody or Jessie ornaments by PaintnPly

Image from PaintnPly on Etsy.com

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman ornament by MelaniesCrafts

Image from Melanie’s Crafts on Etsy.com

Embroidered Felt ornaments in Mickey or Minnie design by StubbyTailCreations

Image from Stubby Tail Creations on Etsy.com


Do you have any Disney ornaments on your tree? Stop over at my Saving UP for Disney Facebook page and share with me!

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SoCal Guide – Budget-Friendly Winter Fun in San Diego

Image from San Diego.org

Looking for Winter fun in San Diego? Pull out your calendar and fill it in with these budget-friendly family ideas. Some start as early as this weekend!


Balboa Park December Nights

Image from A Plus Limos.com

Friday Dec 5th from 3-11pm

Saturday Dec 6th from Noon-11pm

The 37th consecutive year of San Diego’s largest free community festival! Participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 pm both evenings. This is always a busy event so arrive early!

Enjoy food from around the globe at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages. Watch the traditional Santa Lucia Procession at the Plaza de California. Gift shop at the museum stores and Spanish Village. There are also musical and dance presentations from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree.

New this year is the “December Flights” Zipline. Take a two hundred foot Zipline ride past the historic and beautifully lit Moreton Bay Fig Tree!


Viejas Outlets Presents…Winter Wonderland

Image from Red Tri.com

December 5-7th at 6pm

Exclusive viewing of the movie Frozen will take place at the Viejas Ice Rink. Plus, the Snow Queen and Snow Princess will visit the Outlets on Friday, December 5, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm!

Guests can skate at the rink (for a fee) from November 1, 2014 through January 4, 2015.


Together: A Holiday Spectacular  – The Viejas Outlets comes alive with Holiday Spirit

Image from Viejas.com

Opens November 21, 2014
Every 15 Minutes, 5pm – 10pm, 7 Days a Week

Enjoy enchanting holiday vignettes that combine fire and snow, water and light. The show features water fountains, lasers, fire cannons, pyrotechnics and state-of-the-art special effects, all choreographed to best loved Christmas music!


La Mesa Village Christmas in the Village

Image from KPBS.org

Friday, Dec. 12, 2014  5pm-10pm

Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014  5pm-10pm

Pre-Parade starts at 4:30 with our Salute to America. Holiday Parade starts at 5pm both nights.

Santa will be at the Goodwill Plaza this year at 8250 La Mesa Blvd. Come and see Santa right after the Parade to 10 pm. (No charge to see Santa)

The Village is transformed into a Victorian Wonderland complete with strolling minstrels, carolers and street entertainers. Live Music is featured in a number of stage areas. There will be carnival rides, ponies and puppet shows for the kids. Warm up at one of the many bonfires that fill the Boulevard and enjoy the shop, boutiques and restaurants that stay open late during event.


Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas

Image from Old Town Mexican Food.com

December 13th & 14th from 6pm – 9pm

Museums, historic homes, stores and restaurants in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will be open late and richly decorated in period holiday adornment (admission fees still apply to some locations). Enjoy special holiday treats, activities and extended shopping hours, along with strolling carolers and do some holiday shopping at the same time.

63rd Annual Las Posadas re-enactment begins at 2:30pm on December 14th. This centuries-old tradition is a re-enactment of the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem. The event begins at 2:30 PM with carolers and children’s choirs in the state park, with the live theatrical procession starting promptly at 5:00 PM. A piñata party for all the children follows the parade.


North Park Toyland Parade & Festival

Image from La Jolla Bluebook.com

Saturday, December 6th

Parade 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Festival 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

All day parking will be available at the North Park Parking Garage for $1.

For the 51st year, this joyous holiday parade marches through the historic neighborhood of North Park From University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Streets, the parade includes marching bands, dance groups, vintage cars and of course, Santa Claus will be riding atop a red fire engine!


La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

Image from LJParade.com

Sunday December 7th, 1:30pm

The event through downtown La Jolla includes marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus. The theme for this year’s parade is “Spirit of Christmas – Peace on Earth.”


Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Image from The Log.com

December 26th at 3pm

Free street-side viewing or purchase a seat in the grandstands for $20, here.

This is “America’s Largest Balloon Parade”! World-class marching bands, magnificent floats, drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons (more than any other parade!) This parade is broadcast to a nationwide television audience.


San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Image from SD Parade of Lights.org

Sunday December 14th & Sunday December 21st

The procession will start at 5:30 p.m. and will follow the predetermined parade  route.

More than 80 boats lavishly decorated according to a new theme each year (Theme for 2014 is Children’s Stories). The parade takes approximately one  hour to one and a half hours to pass any given point along the parade route.  The approximate arrival time of the parade at various locations are:

  • Shelter Island (start of parade) -5:30 p.m.
  • Harbor Island                             -6 p.m.
  • The Embarcadero                       -6:30 p.m.
  • Seaport Village                            -7 p.m.
  • Ferry Landing on Coronado       -7:30 p.m.

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Saturday December 13th from 6pm – 9pm

Dozens of vessels take to the water for the annual parade. The boat parade starts at Quivira Basin. Best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.


Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Image from Visit Oceanside.com

Saturday December 13th from 7pm -9pm
Fishing boats, sail boats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dressed up in holiday swag circle the Oceanside Harbor. One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station.


Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Image from NBC San Diego.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open for 12 nights in December.

Event hours are 5-10 pm.

Adult admission is $15 and child admission is $10. Kids under three will be admitted free of charge. Military, group and event discounts are available.

Walk through the magical lighting displays, ride Polar Express trains, explore Candyland, feed live reindeer, take a photo with Santa near a 40′-tall Christmas Tree, enjoy the festive fare and so much more!  Parking will be available in the Lexus Premier Lot, Padres Parkade and Tailgate Parking Lot for $10.


Holidays at the Del

Image from Hotel Del Coronado.com

It was at the Hotel Del Coronado in 1904 that America experienced the first electrically-lit outdoor Christmas tree! This year’s holiday theme is “Building Seaside Memories”. The resort’s lobby Christmas tree will be decorated in an elegant ocean theme. Stop by to admire the holiday decor, book a Sunday brunch with Santa or the Holiday Tea, purchase tickets to see An American Christmas performed by Lamb’s Players Theatre and enjoy outdoor Ice Skating at Hotel Del Coronado Skating by the Sea.


Garden of Lights at the San Diego Botanic Garden

Image from San Diego Botanic Garden.com

December 6th – 30th from 5 pm to 9 pm (Closed on December 24-25)

Price: Members – $8
Non-members Adults – $14
Seniors, Active Military & Students – $10
All Children 3-12 – $6
Children 2 and Under – Free

The Garden has been transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 100,000 sparkling lights. Activities include horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, live music, refreshments and hot mulled wine (on select evenings). Some of these activities are included, others are an added cost. Snow also ‘falls’ on select nights!


 

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