Chocolate Crazy Cake – A Classic Dessert Recipe

Chocolate Crazy Cake - A Classic Dessert Recipe

Chocolate Crazy Cake is a simple and easy dessert recipe that satisfies the chocolate craving, doesn’t have a million ingredients and will handily please a crowd. Is it called “crazy” because of the amazing chocolate taste? Is it “crazy” because that’s the reaction you get from your family when you serve it? Or is it “crazy” because the recipe has some unique ingredients (no eggs!)?

Chocolate Crazy Cake - A Classic Dessert Recipe

“You’ve been holding out on us”, we told our office mate Tina when she brought this cake to work last week. All these years and she’s never brought this cake into the office before! How could we have known her for so long and she’s not once shared this amazing cake?! (Can you tell I’m giving Tina a hard time?)

She brought us all a copy of the recipe and said it was given to her by her mother when she was first married. Tina was kind enough to pass it along to me and allow me to share it with my readers. I went home and made it for my family to rave reviews. In fact, I’d planned on taking a photo of my kids eating their cake, but they were licking their plates by the time I fetched the camera!

Chocolate Crazy Cake - A Classic Dessert Recipe

You will love that the recipe calls for simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Noticeably absent are eggs, which is great since eggs are quite expensive. This cake and the delicious frosting recipe go together quickly. The cake is incredibly moist and the frosting, which is made with semi-sweet chocolate chips, is not overly sweet. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some sliced strawberries and it’s heaven on a plate…crazy!

Chocolate Crazy Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Chocolate Crazy Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour with great results)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp powdered baking cocoa
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla, divided (one tsp for cake, one tsp for frosting)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Combine first five ingredients (dry ingredients) into a large bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Make three holes in the dry mixture and pour in the three combined wet ingredients, oil, vinegar and 1 tsp vanilla.
  3. Over the top of all, pour 2 cups of cold water. Stir with a spoon thoroughly to combine ingredients until just mixed but do not beat.
  4. Pour into greased and floured 13" x 9" pan or two 9" pans
  5. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until done.
  6. FOR FROSTING - Combine milk and margarine in a pan over medium heat and bring almost to a boil.
  7. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and vanilla, stirring until melted.
  8. Add powdered sugar and stir until smooth and spreadable.
  9. Frost cooled cake.

Notes

Recipe from Tina Elliott

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://momrewritten.com/chocolate-crazy-cake-a-classic-dessert-recipe/


signature6

 

 

 

 

 

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review – 50’s Prime Time Cafe

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

A trip to Walt Disney World is a experience from the moment you step inside the Park. And in some cases that fun and adventure extends into your dining experience as well! On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, my mom, brother and three-year old son had the opportunity to dine at 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The restaurant is located inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so a valid park ticket is required to dine here.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Walt Disney World- Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Though Advanced Dining Reservations are available up to 180 days in advance, I was able to score dinner for a Saturday night just 5 days ahead. Guest often cancel, leaving openings available. So if you also have a last-minute trip planned, I recommend checking the Disney website several times a day to find openings just before your trip. Don’t plan to show up the day-of without reservations and expect to dine though; spots for popular restaurants are quite often full. On the day of our visit, I saw several guests turned away at the counter when they came in to request a table without an advanced dining reservation.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

50’s decor at every turn

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

My mom & brother…check out the nifty wallpaper and Jell-o molds on the wall behind them!

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

A cabinet full of 50’s kitch

 

The 50’s Prime Time Cafe is set up like grandma’s kitchen, complete with vintage knick-knacks and kitchy decor. Black and white televisions play snippets from classic favorites. Dad’s Lounge at the front of the restaurant serves up retro style alcoholic beverages like the Pina CoLAVA or Dad’s Electric Lemonade.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Opening day at Disneyland being aired on one of the televisions

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Our waitress referred to herself as “Cousin Lorraine” and set the ground rules for the evening, “No elbows on the table. No tattle-taling. And you have to finish your vegetables or no dessert!”

My son and I ordered a strawberry milk shake to share. It was plenty for the two of us and quite a yummy treat. While we waited for our food we watched some of the classic television shows being broadcast around us. Most of them I’d at least heard of but a few were unfamiliar. My mom, however was taking a trip down memory lane, recalling what had been old favorites.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Dennis the Menace

The waitress serving the tables in the room behind us kept sternly reprimanding her guests for putting their elbows on the table. She would glare at them each time she left the area. In this photo of me, I’m nonchalantly resting my elbows on the table just a split second before that waitress walks by. What the shot didn’t capture was the moment I caught her walking past me and I swiftly shot my hands into my lap! The waitress serving the tables next to us was a grandmotherly-type and sat down at the table with her guests to take their orders and offer her advice about the food. It was a lighthearted and playful atmosphere.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Elbows on the table!!

The menu at 50’s Prime Time Cafe is chock full of classic and traditional homestyle dishes. My mom and I shared Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie. It came without the usual pie tin but served instead in a large shallow bowl. There was still a bottom crust and a flaky pie top. It was absolutely stuffed with large pieces of white meat chicken breast, chunky carrots, button mushrooms and peas all mixed in a creamy cheesy sauce.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

A half serving of Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie (my mom and I shared)

My brother ordered Cousin Ann’s Traditional Meatloaf. This was a tasty looking blend of beef and pork. I say “tasty looking” because my brother didn’t even offer a bite! I guess that tells you how good it was. It was topped with a thick tomato glaze and served alongside roasted garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. Veggies are not my brother’s thing and he had a few left at the end of the meal. He tried to cover up the leftover veggies but well, being the dutiful big sister that I am, I ratted him out to the waitress! She reprimanded ME for tattle-taling and gave my brother a sticker for the “Clean Plate Club”, saying he did “well enough” on his dinner. Hmph!

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

About half of my brother’s meatloaf platter, he’d already started digging in!

It was all in good fun, of course. The food was quite tasty (though slightly overpriced, in my opinion). Portions were good sized but I probably could have eaten the dish by myself. The theme and decor is fantastic and really transports you to another time and place. It’s a good meal location for young kids as well, since it’s bright and noisy and there are televisions to watch (they also gave my son a coloring pages and crayons). 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a blast (from the past!)

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe


signature7

 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest – Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Vacations are the best!! Restaurants, dressing up, going out late and best of all…no housework!

My husband and I headed up to Portland for the #DisneySMMC, Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference but first we took a few stops. We flew into Seattle, drove to Gig Harbor to stay with friends, then finished up in Portland. For my first trip to the Pacific Northwest, I didn’t have to bring an umbrella or a rain jacket because the weather was in the high 80s! Beautiful bright blue, clear skies so I could dress pretty much as I do at home in San Diego. I decided on a color palette of black, white and red (with a dash of hot pink) to keep things simple and still “Disney-fied!”

My husband and I opted to share many of our meals most of the trip so we could try as many different flavors as possible. Fortunately we were able to agree on dishes and we only experienced amazing meals for the entire 4 days. Here is our adventure:


 

First time visiting the north #seattle skyline #tmom

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

Day One – Seattle – We flew out of San Diego at 6:30 am. I wore a black tank under this fun and quirky reversible Mickey top from Shirts.com. I liked that it was a nice lightweight layer and that I was able to turn it inside out (two shirts in one). I wore this top throughout the entire trip, it was very versatile. Plus it features classic Mickey!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

My reversible Mickey shirt, complements from Shirts.com

We explored Pike Place Market in the afternoon. I was a bit concerned that it would smell like seafood everywhere (as I wrote about in my post on Traveling Mom) but there was plenty to eat besides fish. We shared a sandwich at Le Panier and each splurged on a pastry. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

As we headed out of Pike Place Market, we stopped at an information booth and my husband asked where we could find the best fish and chips. The guy pulled out a map and quickly told us where to drive. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We drove for what seemed like forever, ending up in Edmonds, which I don’t think was where the guide had directed us to go (since it was completely off the map!) We shared a late lunch, a plate of light and flaky fish and chips at Arnie’s Restaurant which overlooked Puget Sound. 

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Our hotel was in Bellevue. By the time we headed out for dinner, it was nearly 8pm. We drove into the downtown area and dined at the Tap House Grill. We sat at the bar and ordered a burger platter to share. Fresh ground beef with cheddar and fries…this was heaven.  Tap House Grill features 160 beers on tap, the largest number in the Northwest. I discovered that I love the ciders, especially the very refreshing Wyders Pear Cider. We had the best bartender ever and he even comped my husband’s beer because he liked it so much!

  Who are these people, going out to dinner at nearly eight?! People on vacation without kids, that’s who!! #tmom   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We returned to the hotel and nibbled dessert, Rainier cherries purchased that morning at the Pike Place Market.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Rainier cherries in Washington


Day Two – Gig Harbor – I have a friend that just moved to this area so we were going to be staying at her house overnight. We decided to explore the little town first and discovered that it was “Gig Fest” that day. The town was hosting a classic car show, the Knights of Columbus were serving salmon burgers and oysters on the half-shell, there was a band playing and they were going to be blessing the fleet of fishing boats later that day. What an opportune time to visit, we loved it! My husband dug right into the seafood spirit with a plate of oysters.

Our #vacation motto, eat like the locals #oysters #washington (except me, I’m picky!)#tmom

A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

It was a gloriously sunny day and we were informed on more than one occasion that this weather was particularly rare…lucky us!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I held out for lunch from the 7 Seas food truck (The Galley) parked outside their brewery. What a cool vibe the 7 Seas Brewery had! Guests are encouraged to bring in a picnic lunch and dine on the benches inside and out with their family.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

Food truck goodies included a gourmet salad with goat cheese and a Philly cheese steak sandwich. No ciders served here so I settled for a beer/orange juice combo. It was…interesting. At least the food was delicious!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

This is the view from my friend’s backyard. It was lovely and warm and we ate dinner on the porch as the sun was setting. I adore all the trees here, it’s all very relaxing. I can see myself living here (if only it weren’t so far away from Disneyland!)

  View of the backyard, wow #gigharbor #washington   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What a meal they treated us to! Ribs, corn on the cob, beans, salad and biscuits. Good food, good wine and good friends, what more could we ask for?

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC


Day Three – Portland –  After a few hours drive south, we hit Portland. We were staying at the very hip Residence Inn in the Pearl District. Maps in the lobby guided us around the area and we walked only a few blocks before coming upon the BridgePort Brewing Company. My husband stopped dead in his tracks when he saw another diner eating a huge bowl of chili verde and he just had to have one for himself.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I had the delicious Brewpub salad with apples, goat cheese and hazelnuts. The Saint Johns pizza with simple garlic, tomato and mozzarella hit the spot (and yes, I did almost finish this by myself!)

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

That evening we attended the MyPrintly Event in Portland. It was a fantastic night with crafts, cupcake decorating and photographs. We were able to print out as many of our personal photos as we wished, using the HP printers provided. It was my first time using washi tape, so fun! I wore one of my favorite black and white dresses but alas, forgot to take a picture (that’s a bummer, since this event was ALL about pictures!)

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

I had no idea the sun set so late in the Pacific Northwest. It was nearly ten by the time we were driving back to the hotel and the sun was just going down. Isn’t it pretty?

Pretty #portland #sunset #tmom   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on


Day Four – Disney On-the-Road event in Portland – This is what I wore to the Disney Social Media On-the-Road Conference. I chose a stretchy pencil skirt from Target and a structured jacket from Kohls. I paired it with a lightweight crinkle top from Lauren Conrad’s Minnie Mouse collection at Kohls. I love my wedges from Crocs. They are cute and comfy. The piece de resistence is my mom’s vintage Mickey scarf. I received so many compliments on that scarf, including from Erin Glover and from Mickey himself!

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC


Touring the Pearl District in Portland – After the event we had time to burn so we wandered the streets in the Pearl District near our hotel. I slipped on my jeans and another Lauren Conrad Minnie Mouse collection top, one that features a white bow design.

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

We ate a light lunch inside the bustling Whole Foods Market. Here you can make your own box of food, picking and choosing from the hot and cold dishes. Curry chicken with rice and a salad with mandarin orange soda was very tasty on a warm day. Also very reasonably priced. 

#portland #lunch in a box   A photo posted by Julie Bigboy (@juliebutterfly2000) on

What I Ate, Wore and Saw on My Trip to the Pacific Northwest - Disney Social Media Moms #DISNEYSMMC

At this point in our adventure, we’d done a lot of walking and a lot of eating! We dropped off the rental car at the airport and flew back home, full of delicious food and wonderful Pacific Northwest memories.


Disclosure: I was given the reversible Mickey sweatshirt from Shirts.com. We also received complimentary lodging at the Residence Inn in Portland. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

signnature8

What I Learned My First Time “On the Road” at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Portland #DisneySMMC

What I Learned My First Time "On the Road" at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road - Portland #DisneySMMC


I returned from the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event several weeks ago and it’s taken me this long to process and absorb all of the fantastic information we had dished out to us during this great conference. I arrived bright and early and met and mingled with familiar faces (from Facebook!)

What I Learned My First Time "On the Road" at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road - Portland #DisneySMMC

Conference room

My fellow bloggers and I hover in the same Disney circles online and have a bit of a mutual admiration club going. It was great to put faces and personalities together in person after chatting with them online for the past year!

We were served a lovely breakfast and given time to chat. I position myself near the front since my vision isn't the best (and I didn't want to miss anything!) There was a lot of valuable information and I captured as much as I could via my laptop so I could share here with you. Buckle up and here we go!

We were served a lovely breakfast and given time to chat. I positioned myself near the front since my vision isn’t the best (and I didn’t want to miss anything!) There was a lot of valuable information and I captured as much as I could via my laptop so I could share here with you. Buckle up and here we go!

What I Learned My First Time "On the Road" at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road - Portland #DisneySMMC

Mmm, bacon, bagels and pastries!

The Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road in Portland started with introductions from Jamie Langdon (@LangdonJamie on Twitter). Jamie returned to the podium between speakers to share videos and updates about Disney Parks as well. With three little ones at home (and another on the way!), Jamie holds a child’s experience at Disney Parks close to her heart. She showed a video mash-up called Kids Remember which proved just how much little kids remember about their magical vacation.

I was able to speak with Jamie a bit after the conference and discussed how much my three year old talks about his Disney experiences. She loved that his Park maps from our first trip to Walt Disney World this year are his regular “bedtime stories”!


portland-f

Tyler Slater, writer for Aulani on the Disney Parks Blog website, introduced several Disney updates. These included a Show your DisneySide video and Disneyland and Walt Disney World highlights with their upcoming summer events. Did you know there will be an Amphicar from the Boathouse restaurant in Downtown Disney at WDW? This is a land/water vehicle that drives right into the lagoon, how cool is that! Adventures by Disney is adding river cruising to their itinerary with 8 different cruises to four different countries. And of course, being the Disney Parks Blog writer for Aulani, Tyler did mention how the hotel in Hawaii has just been chosen as the best family hotel in the US. Also the Disney Cruise Line will soon be offering a new musical show at sea. A Tangled musical will entertain guests, with three new original songs by Alan Menken. After hearing Tyler’s reports about Aulani & the Disney Cruise Line, I’m ready to “save up for Hawaii!”


Erin Glover, social media director and Disney Parks Blog writer about Disneyland spoke next. She discussed how much research goes into each post that appears on the site. Only 10% of the work ends up being what the public sees with the other 90% being content planning and research. The Blog hosts 100 authors that are each experts in their Disney field. While Erin had high praise for the use of Google Docs, Erin suggested that each blogger find a system that works for you and keep it simple. Erin confirmed that each of us should do what works for us individually.  She encouraged us to tell our untold story and to step out of the hesitation. She asked us to consider why we hold back: Maybe out of fear or shyness? That is a big one for me as I’ve been one to question myself in the past, second guessing to the point of not doing something I want to do because I’m embarrassed or afraid. Pressing forward and stepping out of the hesitation is something I’m definitely striving for.

What I Learned My First Time "On the Road" at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road - Portland #DisneySMMC

Erin discussed how Disney has integrated their social media sharing across all channels from Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on the Disney Parks Blog. They have created a network for Disney where Pins can be shared on their blog site or YouTube videos on Facebook and their team works together to create sharable ideas.  Another helpful tip from Erin was to find your own network.  What and who is in your network? Who shares your content? Is there a network that you can create to develop others content? I’m very lucky to have been included in networks like the Magical Blogorail and the Traveling Moms. We know that sharing each others content boosts the entire team. Create Pinterest boards where other can contribute or share posts of other bloggers on Twitter.

Erin also discussed how the Disney Parks Blog “teases” upcoming projects to build suspense. She used the example of the Hatbox Ghost from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. The Hatbox Ghost appeared briefly in 1969 but was soon removed. There was a tease in a January blog post. In April his return was confirmed with a sneak peek. A post in May was accompanied with a video and photos of behind the scenes. Guests were delighted with the reveal and as a result the Haunted Mansion is again offering FastPasses due to the lengthy lines. How can you use the “tease” in your own blog? It’s something to think about for sure.


Next up was Victoria Lim, managing editor for Disney World public relations.  Victoria had some great suggestions for bringing video to your posts.

  • Clean your lens.
  • Steady shots.
  • Try different angles.
  • Zoom with your feet and not with the on-camera zoom as it will likely be blurry or wobbly.
  • Hold horizontally, not vertically.
  • Be purposeful in shooting.
  • Don’t tilt, pan or “TMZ-Mtv” unless purposeful.
  • Use airplane mode so you don’t have a call interrupt your video.
  • When interviewing, be mindful of ambient noise and wind. Also decide where you want interview subjects to look.

What I Learned My First Time "On the Road" at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road - Portland #DisneySMMC

Victoria gave some tips for special camera gear including a portable charger, tripod, Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones, vericorder mini mic and lenses to fit on your tablet. I only recently purchased a portable charger and wonder now why I waited so long! It’s nice to be able to snap pics and video, post to social media and be able to charge your phone mid-day so you’ll still be able to take pictures and make phone calls in the evening and not be stuck with a dead battery.

Suggested apps for photos included Dropbox, Disney Memories HD, Show Your Disney Side, PicCollage and PhotoGrid.

For video apps, Victoria had several she showed us. She even created several videos during her discussion so it was a quick and easy process. Magisto is very quick but less customization. Use code magistotrial12 in redeem coupon in box. Videolicious offers more customization. CuteCut add voice track and edits like trimming. WeVideo is worthy for Android. I don’t often make videos but I like the idea of using photos to create a video and posting them on my blog.


Andrea Rojas and Megan Sayers from Babble.com were up next. Connect and grow is their motto and they had some intriguing thoughts about sharing via social media. Spend the most time on the platform that will do the most for you. To know the best time of day to reach your readers, you really need to check the analytics of your personal social media accounts and schedule posting during that time. I work full time outside the home, so I can’t be on social media all day. But I still want to post relevant info to my accounts so I sit down on Sunday night and schedule all my Tweets on TweetDeck and my Facebook posts on CinchShare.

For Facebook, they suggested that we use short clear engaging copy. Post more than just links, try shareables as in Pin-worthy items or images. Take note of your analytics in regards to the time of day and content and analyze what works best for you and your audience. Look at the click through and analytics of the posts to see what is effective for you.

For Pinterest, the best Pin-able links are vertical images with a text overlay. Write a descriptive copy that tells a story.  When pinners use guided search, find which keywords are most valuable to layer in your pin description. Put those key words into your pin description for the best chances of coming up in Pinterest search.

In regards to Twitter, they suggest that there no such thing as too many tweets. Tag, tag, tag! Follow the hashtags and join in on social media if you can’t be there. Retweet and follow others to gain a larger audience. Tweet on trending topics, but through the lens of your brand. They believe that the best way to reach out to a brand is through Twitter. If you have an issue that requires addressing, take it to Twitter and tag that brand for near instant response.

PortlandCollage3

With Instagram, photo quality is key. They offered the suggestion to keep your look consistent, such as using a similar style, color palate or filter to create a “look” to your postings. Share your Instagram photos on other social platforms to drive engagement. I love that when I take a picture on my Android, I can open up Instagram and from there share the image and description to Facebook and Twitter as well.

When looking to grow your brand, connect with other bloggers and websites. Join communities, scope out social media, go to blogger events, don’t just hunt out “big” blogs. This was a theme we’d heard earlier from Erin Glover about creating a network.

Also don’t be afraid to branch out and pitch to larger sites. Find an editor or submissions contract, craft your pitch & have fun with it. Find a direct contact or tweet to the brand asking for a contact. Send information like, “who are you”, background, relevant links, ideas (include if you will have photos, what kind of story is it, etc.) And definitely show your personality.

4 Meaningful Connections:

  • Don’t be afraid to cold email.
  • Suggest mutually beneficial ways to collaborate, social swap, crowd sourced content, guest posts (Give your voice another platform to live on).
  • Approach it as a relationship rather than a favor or business transaction.
  • Put out there what you expect to get back.

Next to speak was Marianne Richmond, author and artist. While recovering from brain surgery in her early twenties, Marianne took to art as therapy. She has written and illustrated many uplifting books and is passionate about “Knowing Your Why”. What is your “Why?” What drives it? Marianne suggested that we all connect to our true passion and understand why it matters in the world.

Knowing your why will give you focus. Is this your business or just something to do “on the side”? Evaluate opportunities/partnerships/future projects. Consider if these projects will tap into your passion. Double check to make sure you are on track.

What’s your goal? What do you want from your business? It it to pay the mortgage, take more vacations, etc. Do you have any absolutes, like being home for your kids?

What I Learned My First Time "On the Road" at Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road - Portland #DisneySMMC

Two questions that Marianne posed: What are willing to do and what are you not willing to do? Are you willing to work at night and possibly make no money at first? Are you not willing to put your kids in day care or spend money to get in business? Everyone’s “willings” are going to be different. Keeping your “why” and goals in mind will help you answer what you’re willing to do.

As an artist, Marianne encouraged us to embrace your unique design. She suggested that we ask what brings us joy. Take a look around in your home to reveal your style and what things bring you happiness. Think back into your memories and consider what you were doing as a child. Marianne notes that when you truly own your gifts, you business will convey an authentic, soul energy . How will you convey this “soul energy” through your touch points?

The next point is something I’ve struggled with and it’s “Find Your Brave”. Marianne offers that we should root ourselves in what we uniquely have to offer. In keeping with the vein of the day, she suggested creating a “courage team” of other people. That way you all have something to gain from working with another. Create a mantra that emboldens your bravery and try something out of the box. Depersonalize the decision. That was a big light bulb moment for me. I have always worried too much about doing something and then regretted when I let the moment slip by. I’m definitely “finding my brave” this year!

Finally she ask us to envision our next level and question “how do I grow?” Envision/brainstorm, what’s next? Marianne said, “We are all in this together: to feel cared about, to feel talented, connected and appreciated.”


The last speakers of the day were Kathy Cano-Murillo (the Crafty Chica) and her daughter Maya from Maya in the Moment. Both ladies had been at the MyPrintly event the night before so we’d been able to do some Washi tape crafting together!

Kathy stressed that each blogger should respect their own signature style and do their own thing. There’s only one Martha Stewart in the world and you’re not her, so what’s your style? Bring your own personality to every post. Embrace new things and don’t be afraid to make your readers laugh, cry or gasp. In regards to social media, think of each platform as a party. You have a place on each one. What do you bring to the party?

portland-h

Moms love to read about kids so involve your kids when you can. Kathy suggested that we should all have a book proposal ready. What is your book proposal? What kind of book would you write if given the choice? They also mentioned that we should know our five-year destination. We should set big goals and see through to the end result.

Finally let yourself have fun. Fun is a magnet, it’s contagious. These women are so upbeat and happy that their positive attitudes really were contagious!

portland-i

I had a great time at the conference and my brain was a-whirl afterward with all the wonderful content. When Mickey bounded out from the curtains, I think I squealed in delight! I was so happy to give him a big hug and take a photo, it was the perfect end to a rewarding day!

My fellow Traveling Mom Meghan Shamy and I, with Mickey.


I was sent an email requesting my interest in this conference and later received an invitation. The conference was free however, I paid my own travel expenses. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

signnature8

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

One year ago today, on June 17th, 2014 I posted my first articles on this blog, Saving Up for Disney. I’d been writing for years on a personal blog but this was going to be my first attempt at branching out. I wanted to share my Disneyland trip advice, include budgeting tips for adding to your Disney savings bank, offer a few fun recipes and DIY. And I had my fingers crossed that I’d gain some readers & followers along the way. In just a short year I have accomplished so much!

Much more than I ever thought, frankly. It started with me actually setting aside my nervous shyness. That little part of me that said, “No, I can’t do that. What if they tell me no?” And instead I became that person who was reaching out, branching out, asking questions, answering questions and not taking no for an answer. I am so much braver than I was a year ago and I have my online community to thank for that. I’ve “met” so many fellow Disney lovers and bloggers this year and we’ve connected not only through social media but I’ve also had the chance to hug some of them in person too! It’s been an incredible year, here’s my blogoversary flashback.

disneyland

First posts, Budgeting Steps to Savings – How Much is This Vacation Going to Cost and Handy Disneyland Research Links. I’ve since upgraded my website, started learning about SEO, keywords, pinnable images, hashtags and scheduled tweets. It’s been a wild ride and I’ve had a social media crash course this first year for sure!

In September I reached out to the Magical Blogorail and was happily accepted. I wrote my first post about How Disney Helped Me Deal with the Death of my Father. This post explains why I started this blog in the first place. I was overwhelmed by the positive response from the group, I love writing with them!

halloween4

In October I emailed Disney PR, requesting tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party since my family has never been (you can’t know until you ask, right?) I was told that there were no tickets available for this event but was invited to attend a special Family Media Day for HalloweenTime instead. It was an amazing event and one of the best Disneyland days ever! And it taught me one thing…put yourself out there. There are thousands of bloggers and it takes putting yourself out there and setting shyness aside.

During this time I was also in the midst of the three month Disney Parks Moms Panel Search. Finishing as a finalist was one of the proudest moments ever and spurred my love of writing and of Disney even more. I wrote about it in this post, What I Learned by Reaching Round 3 #DisneyMP. I can’t wait to try again this year.

I continued to fill my blog with content several times a week for the next few months. Ready to take on a new challenge and at the encouragement of a fellow blogger, I requested to write for Traveling Mom. I was accepted and have been writing about Day Trips, a topic I’m very familiar with living in a tourist city.  I wrote about it here, I’m a Traveling Mom. And you can see and share all my posts here on the Traveling Mom website.

Just a few short weeks after joining, I was asked if I’d like to come to Walt Disney World on their writers retreat. Being able to go to WDW was the point of my blog (Saving Up for Disney!), so yes, absolutely yes!! I have a bounty of posts still to write about my first WDW adventure, but here is my first, 11 Wonderful, magical and Patience-Testing Experiences on my first Walt Disney World Trip.

cinderellacastle

Being able to experience WDW with my mom, brother and son for the first time was something I’ll never forget. It’s still my plan to get the rest of the family there! I have no doubt that it will happen someday.

I close with my invitation to the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference that I just attended in Portland. I have an entire post forthcoming about the event (and the MyPrintly party that occurred the night before). But let’s just say that after hearing the speakers, all with a similar vein of “get out there”, “be brave” and “take courage”, my self-esteem tank is full and ready to take on another amazing year!

 

Decorating MagicBands – Customizing the Magic with Paint

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Yellow loop. Today we are sharing ways for decorating your MagicBands from Walt Disney World.

Decorating MagicBands - Customizing the Magic with Paint

We booked our Walt Disney World vacation pretty late in the game so there wasn’t enough time for our MagicBands to be mailed to our house. They gave us bands at the hotel and were given standard gray…boring!! Upon our return home, I saw on Etsy that there are artists offering their services to paint MagicBands for guests who want something a little better than standard gray or a little more personalized than the solid colors.

Decorating MagicBands - Customizing the Magic with Paint

I was intrigued. As an artist myself I loved the idea of giving your MagicBand a pretty coat of paint to customize and personalize your “key to the magic”! Why not do it yourself at home, before your trip? I chose a simple design that anyone can recreate using classic colors of black, red, white and yellow. Lots of Mickey heads, polka dots and some sparkle “pixie dust” thrown in, of course.

Decorating MagicBands - Customizing the Magic with Paint

1. Decide on a design. Draw it out if you find that helps. Find images to look at for inspiration while painting. Or just let creativity strike you when you have the brush in hand.

2. Choose acrylic paints. These paints are cheap and can be mixed into a plethora of colors. Pick a few from the craft stores and mix them as you desire. I use an old glass dish to mix small amounts of color at a time. A little goes a long way. Layers should be thin and not gloppy or they will take forever to dry.

3. Tiny brushes are the best. Use a large brush to create a solid base coat as you wish. Choose brushes with small bristles for adding details. If you have a stray bristle, snip it off with nail clippers.

Decorating MagicBands - Customizing the Magic with Paint

4. Clean your brushes. Keep a small bowl of water next to you with a paper towel. Never let your brush sit in a cup of water or the bristles will get bent. Paint should only be on the tip of the bristle and not allowed to drift up onto the metal or wood sections (that means you have too much paint on your brush). Swish your brush occasionally and wipe thoroughly on the paper towel. In between colors, clean your brushes gently with a small amount of dish soap in the palm of your hand and rinse under running water.

5. Let it dry. Let your project sit, untouched over night to completely dry. Take care to place your band in a way that it won’t be smudged.

Decorating MagicBands - Customizing the Magic with Paint

6. Bling it up. I used a combination of clear paint with a glitter finish and self-sticking rhinestones to add some sparkle.

7. Seal it up. Spray your completed project with a light coat of clear acrylic sealer. Wait until it’s complete dry and not tacky before applying another light coat. This will allow your painted MagicBand and to be water and sweat proof. Anything abrasive however, like scratching it across a rough surface could scratch the paint.

Decorating MagicBands - Customizing the Magic with Paint

What do you think? Cute and easy…so much better than boring gray! I think this would be a fun family project in the week leading up to your Walt Disney World vacation.

Let me know if you’ve tried this method and what you created! I’d love to see pictures too!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Yellow  | Decorating MagicBands Loop:

School’s Out, Where Are Your Kids? The Life360 App Will Tell You!

School’s Out, Where Are Your Kids? The Life360 App Will Tell You!

I previously wrote about the Life360 and how you can keep your family close at hand with this helpful free app.

What happens during the summer if your kids are home but you have to be at work? How do you know if the kids are where they say they are going to be? What about when you’re picking them up from bestie’s house but really they are at so-and-so’s down the street? You have no idea where they are, they aren’t answering your phone calls and you’re frustrated and worried.

Life360 is a free smartphone app that helps families and close friends stay in sync. With the touch of a quick app on your phone the Life360 can show you where your family and friends are on a private map. You can stay in touch with your group via one-on-one messaging, create shared “to do” lists and get help in an emergency.

This helps you to eliminate“Where are you?” and “When will you be home?” messages completely with the Life360 app. Simply open the app to find out in an instant. You can see your family on the map, just like me on this screenshot.

life360

Family schedules fluctuate during the summer months with kids off at friends’ houses. Life360 as a must-have tool to keep you connected to your family. Do you have a chore list for the kids to complete in your absence? Create shared “to-do lists” so that you and the kids can keep on top of daily activities.

Other users have to accept the app, you can’t just automatically add them without their consent. Life360 uses GPS technology with maps and chat channels built with bank-level security (Your locations and conversations will always be private, available only to people you invite).

School’s Out, Where Are Your Kids? The Life360 App Will Tell You!

My kids will be staying with grandma during the summer days, so I’m assured that they are safe. If they we going to be out and about on their own I’d definitely add the kids to our Life360 app. You can set up Places (areas you can define inside the Life360 app) so that you are alerted when a Circle member enters or leaves a location. This way you’ll know immediately if your child leaves their restricted area and goes outside their set boundaries.

55 million families use Life360 around the world. It gives parents peace of mind, while giving kids a bit of independence. Find out more about Life360 on Facebook and to get the app yourself, see the Life360 website.

This is a sponsored post. Opinions and thoughts are my own.


signature6

 

60 Days to 60 Years – My First Trip to Disneyland -1974

Search “Disneyland 1974” and you’ll discover that this year was not the most joyous or celebrated year at the Park. In fact, it’s just downright sad since one cast member lost her life on the “America Sings” attraction.

For me and my family, 1974 at Disneyland was a joyous event. I was one year old and my parents took me to Disneyland for the very first time. Accompanying us were my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles. My family and I live in San Diego so a Disneyland visit is only a short drive north. It’s a trip we took often when I was a child. This is my family (there were at least ten of us on this trip) walking towards It’s a Small World, circa 1974. My aunt is wearing a patchwork cropped top, bell-bottom jeans and cork wedges. My grandpa, in comparison is wearing slacks and suit jacket! Ahhh, the 70s!

60 Days to 60 Years - My First Trip to Disneyland -1974

I’m riding in the stroller. Obviously I don’t remember this momentous event in my life but I am certain in saying that this was a turning point in my life. My family loved Disney and had visited the Park the first year it opened in 1955. My dad enjoyed telling the stories of rides from yesteryear. My dad’s love of Disney is what spurred me to start this blog and to share my experiences at the Happiest Place on Earth. It’s what had me ending 2014 as a finalist for the Disney Parks Moms Panel, too. From the first visit to the last, my Disneyland experiences are what has colored my life. I truly love this place and want to share the feeling with everyone I know.

Below is a photo dated July 1957. That’s my dad on the far left. He would have been about 10 years old. He’s sitting with three of his siblings (he was the eldest of eight). Not sure why my dad is wearing long sleeves and jeans in July! I love the writing on the back of this photo. I believe it’s my grandfather’s: “This isn’t really the castle in Fantasyland. It really is the rental house I built behind our house”. I’ve seen this photo in the album for over 30 years and had no idea that caption was on the back until today when I took the picture out of the album to scan! This photo is really a treasure to me, seeing my dad at what was his favorite place (just like me and just like my son).

Disneyland 1957

And my grandpa, that’s him posing with Snow White. Guessing from the background, she was in Tomorrowland, which is strange to me. It also looks like she’s wearing a watch? I wish we had the dwarves doing Meet n’ Greet at Disneyland again.

60 Days to 60 Years - My First Trip to Disneyland -1974

The more things change there, the more they stay the same. About the only difference from 1974 to 2015 is the addition of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. And the trees are taller.

60 Days to 60 Years - My First Trip to Disneyland -1974  crowded7

On that visit my dad bought me this Winnie the Pooh teddy bear. He was my cuddle companion every night at bedtime for a very long time. I think I was a teenager when I finally realized his precious delicacy and shelved him. I have now had this bear for 40 years and even now to see him, my memories flash to a picture of me holding the bear on this happy day. Pooh Bear now sits in my sons’ room, overseeing all the activity (alongside my Year of a Million Dreams MouseEars). I think about my Pooh Bear all those years ago sitting on the shop shelf in Disneyland in 1974, waiting for my dad to lift him up and place him in my arms.

60 Days to 60 Years - My First Trip to Disneyland -1974

Yep, that’s me at one year old. We’re about ready to go inside and watch the Country Bear Jamboree, an attraction of yesteryear.

60 Days to 60 Years - My First Trip to Disneyland -1974

I’m certain that taking me to Disneyland for the first time when I was only one year old was something that my family deemed necessary, since they all loved the Parks so much. It was the first of many visits for me and my family over the years. The memories blend together happily now, we’ve been so many times. For me, Disneyland is a warm and happy feeling of feeling safe and loved and surrounded by my family and friends.

Share with me in the comments about your first visit to Disneyland? What year was it and how did it shape your love of Disney?

Follow along with the 60 Days to 60 Years and the sixty bloggers who are sharing Disneyland stories and memories over the past 60 years.


Disneyland Diamond Celebration – 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Red loop. Today we are discussing the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration.


Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Photo Credit: Disney

Everything is bright and shiny for Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration, a year-long party for their 60th anniversary. I have a few lucky friends who were able to visit the Park in the last few weeks and were able to deliver some lovely images of the diamond decor that is currently on Main Street U.S.A.

I think Mickey and Minnie’s all-American sparkling outfits stand out nicely with the diamond decor.

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Photo Credit: Disney

Right from the start of the Park, Guests will be delighted with new decor for the celebration including this plaque just in front of the Main Street Station.

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Image Credit: Vanessa Spencer

Coming down Main Street U.S.A, you can see that there are diamond-studded banners and 3-dimensional details on the lampposts. Blue and white bunting is draped from the shop buildings.

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Image Credit: Brenda Robles

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Image Credit: Vanessa Spencer

The Disney Parks Blog teased this photo of how Sleeping Beauty Castle would look during the Disneyland Diamond Celebration. It features swags of sparkling diamonds, draped swathes of rich blue fabric and sequined turrets that shine under the sun.

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Photo Credit: Disney

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Image Credit: Brenda Robles

At the end of Main Street, guests are treated to a shining delight with the made-over Sleeping Beauty Castle. I like how the silver straps on the turrets resemble cut diamonds.

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Image Credit: Vanessa Spencer

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Photo Credit: Vanessa Spencer

The clear “diamonds” at the front were replaced just several days before the official Diamond Celebration kick-off and replaced with blue turrets instead. I think I like the dark blue banners in front with the Disney “D” on them. They look very regal.

I think the classic decor would have made Walt proud.

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

Image Credit: Brenda Robles


Check out this video from the Disney Parks Blog about how the castle was redesigned for the Diamond Celebration.

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes: Making Sleeping Beauty Castle sparkle


Minnie and Mickey unveil the lovely 60th celebration plaque in this video from the Disney Parks Blog.

VIDEO: Unveiling of Sleeping Beauty Castle


Even Carthay Circle over at Disney California Adventure Park is celebrating, with some swag of its own. (From left to right, photo credits: Disney, GetAwayToday.com)

Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor Disneyland Diamond Celebration - 60th Anniversary Dazzling Decor

The decor is just the tip of the iceberg! There are so many things happening at the Disneyland resort right now for the Diamond Celebration. Please hop on the Blogorail to read about all the other exciting events going on at the Parks-


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Loop:


 

signature