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Relieving My Tired, Achy “Mom Body” From the Ground Up

#advertisement I received compensation from Dr. Scholl’s® to write this post. All opinions are entirely my own. #CustomFitRelief #DrScholls

Exercise and moving more is something I’m working on in my rejuvenated quest for little changes that make a big difference. I recently celebrated my 44th birthday and with four kids (ages 19 months to 13 years old), I need all the energy I can to keep up with them. Unfortunately, I have chronic lower back pain that often hinders me from getting active. Years of not listening to my body has taken its toll. I’ve been doing physical therapy and exercising more to strengthen my core. I know that too much sitting can cause my pain to increase and that stretching, exercise and frequent walking helps. However being on my feet more means tired, achy feet in addition to lower back pain. Simply walking my baby in her stroller around the block can cause foot and lower back pain, which is not encouraging me to move more!

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

I’ve heard about using orthotic inserts in my everyday shoes but hadn’t tried them yet. Pain in the lower back and knees can originate from your feet. Orthotics can disperse foot pressure to reduce the stress on your knees or lower back that cause pain. I was excited to see that my local Walmart has a Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Kiosk (CLICK to find a Custom Fit® Kiosk near you). The kiosk uses Footmapping® technology to help me choose the right orthotic insert for my needs. Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotics can provide immediate, all day relief for foot, knee, or lower back pain while on my feet…sign me up!

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

Dr. Scholl’s® developed the advanced FootMapping® technology used in the Custom Fit® kiosk. Simply stand barefooted at the kiosk and the machine uses over 2,000 pressure sensors to create your Custom Footmap.

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad
At one point in the process you’ll grab a hold of the bars in front of you and lift up each foot at a time for the FootMapping® technology to “read” each foot.

In just seconds, you’ll receive information identifying your arch type, foot length and unique pressure points. It’s a very quick process – in under 2 minutes, the kiosk evaluated my feet and recommended the Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts that were ideal for me. I’m a CF310!

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

At the end of the process, I plugged in my email address to have rebate and all the information about the recommended orthotics sent to me. You can also click through to get $10 savings after purchase via this link at the Custom Fit® Online Rebate Center.

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotics are comprised of 4 layers that provide support and cushioning that relieve foot and lower body pain for all-day on-your-feet comfort.

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

Let’s just say when I slipped them into my new boots, I didn’t experience any of the usual discomfort when I started walking. The orthotic raised my foot slightly, so my walking shoes with the elastic bands across the top were a little tighter than usual.

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

I like that I can move the orthotics into whatever shoe I’m wearing that day (my boots, walking shoes, heel or flats). Everyone can try Custom Fit® Orthotics risk-free, with the Dr. Scholl’s® Money Back Guarantee.

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

Daily use of my Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts has truly helped me to get through my days comfortably. I’m using Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts in my everyday shoes to help me relieve lower back pain. Now I can keep up with my kids…they just need to keep up with me!

See how I'm using custom orthodics to relieve my tired, achy "mom body" so I can keep up with my kids! #CustomFitRelief #ad

Photo Credit: Melendy Britt

Pushed into the Spotlight – Honest Review of Goodbye Christopher Robin

I received complimentary viewing passes to watch the movie Goodbye Christopher Robin. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is the movie description from the website Rotten Tomatoes:

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children’s author A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne, and his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?

Review of Goodbye Christopher Robin

Goodbye Christopher Robin is not the movie you’d expect. While the movie poster shows father and son walking through the illustrated world of Winnie-the-Pooh the movie is less about the actual books than it is about the author and his family. The movie does not sugar coat the cracked relationship this child has with his parents. Christopher Robin’s mother Daphne and father A.A. Milne are wealthy socialites. Much of the boy’s time is spent in the loving care of his nanny, Olive (whom he calls Neu).

While his parents work at building social connections via travel and parties, their child is home with Nanny. As to be expected, the relationship that he has with his nanny is often a tighter bond than what has developed with his own mother and father.

This is not to diminish the love that Christopher’s parents have for him, however each bring their struggles to the relationships of those around them. A.A. Milne (known as Blue in the movie) suffers from post-WWI trauma, which paints a sadness over his days.

Milne’s wife, Daphne comes across first as superficial, belittling and selfish. She dresses her son in baby girl clothing because, heart-set on a daughter, had purchased the dresses before he was born. She interacts with her son by purchasing the menagerie of stuffed animals, including what would be Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and Kanga and Roo. She does love her family but is challenged in expressing it at times. I see this more as a sign of the times, when women were coming into their own independence. She is also an affect of her class, a wealthy wife of a famous writer who wants to grab each shiny opportunity that passes her way.

Grabbing these opportunities includes pushing her son into the unwanted spotlight. Once the joyous Winnie the Pooh stories gain popularity in the post-war era, fans flock to Christopher. His sweet childhood days are suddenly filled with responsibilities and obligations towards promoting the books. What was once a sweet way for father and son to bond, is now turned into fiction shared around the world. Well-loved and eventually classic stories, nonetheless, the childhood experiences are lessened in the process.

How Are We Pushing Our Kids Unwillingly Into the Spotlight?

As a lifestyle blogger and mom, I most definitely use my children as inspiration for my posts. I often use their photographs to help illustrate my stories. In the movie, Christopher Robin accuses his father of participating in his childhood games only as a means for having a story to tell. Could I be accused of the same? I think so, in many cases.

In my niche, there are often certain criteria for receiving invitation to particular events and press trips. I do get invited to participate because my children fall into certain age brackets. Would I be invited to these same events if I didn’t have children? Nope. Would I be able to write about these events without the benefit of having my children participating? Nope. Am I participating in activities purely so I’ll have a post to promote? Yep, sometimes. Am I exploiting my children or making them do anything they don’t want to? No, never.

The differences to me lie in when the story is shared and what happens afterwards. If Milne had simply written the stories, I don’t think that Christopher Robin would have struggled so much with the story’s popularity. Perhaps changing the character name in the books so that the story didn’t share his son’s given name would have been of good mind. The fault was in the exploitation of the boy’s childhood. It was in the showiness, the use of Christopher Robin as a marketing tool to promote and connect fans with him to the books. He became a living and breathing story tale come to life, despite his insistence that he was not the same persona as he was being portrayed in the stories.

Sharing, Without Oversharing?

I think that most bloggers balance this aspect in a healthy way. While many of us do write about our children and share stories from their lives, I’d venture to say that most are used as a way of illustrating a specific point. I don’t use the names of my children in business social media accounts or in my blog. My children know what I do as a blog writer. My kids know that if we’re attending a special event or if I’m taking their photograph, that it’s likely to end up on social media. I would never share a story about my kids that is intended to embarrass or otherwise exploit them.

My older kids have on occasion requested that I not share particular photos and I absolutely comply. And if my children ever expressed to me that they no longer want to be included in blog posts or photographed for social media events, I’d understand and comply with this as well. It’s not my intention (and I don’t think it’s the intention of most bloggers) to push our kids into an unwanted spotlight in exchange for our own publicity.

The movie definitely brings up the valid point (especially when seemingly EVERYTHING is shared 24/7). What things are appropriate for sharing and what is sacred to keep private?

Should Your Kids See Goodbye Christopher Robin?

The movie is PG-rated, which would imply that it might be appropriate for younger children. This is not the cuddly story you’d expect from such a topic, since the story focuses more on the relationships between the author, his wife and child. I brought my two 13-year olds, who enjoyed the historical story and understood the underlying darkness of the recovery from war.

There is very little here for younger children, as the movie doesn’t include much of the Winnie-the-Pooh story line except for the fact that the boy brings his teddy where ever he goes. I wouldn’t bring a child under 12 to see this movie, the topics are going to be too adult in nature.

Should You See Goodbye Christopher Robin?

Despite the dark elements of the script, the movie is beautiful to watch. Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred-Acre Woods come to life vividly during the times when Milne is developing his characters. It seemingly never rains in East Sussex! Somehow I don’t think that’s to be believed, though.

The little actor playing Christopher Robin was natural and sweet. I spent a good part of the movie trying to figure out how old the child was (he has his permanent teeth, yet is dressed like a preschooler and has dimples and the innocent imagination of a toddler). My favorite parts of the movie were when he was interacting with his toys, just being a child.

There are some truly beautiful moments in the film (I highly recommend bringing tissues!) And the topic at hand, whether his parents were in the wrong for pushing him to perform as the story book character, makes for some intriguing discussion points.

 

SunRype & Disney●Pixar’s Coco Sweepstakes

Are you looking forward to the release of Disney●Pixar’s Coco? I know my son and I are excited to see it (it opens in theaters November 22, 2017, just a few days before his sixth birthday!) Of course there’s nothing like watching it on opening night but what if you were able to be there for the premiere screening?! Here’s your chance!

I received complimentary SunRype products in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post includes affiliate links. Clicking and purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

SunRype Snacks

We honestly do not have a lot of prepackaged snacks in the cupboard but we always have SunRype! These are 100% fruit strip snacks, which is important to me. No added processed sugar, just natural ingredients and no preservatives. SunRype Fruit to Go are also vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and peanut-free making them perfect for the school lunch box.
SunRype and Disney-Pixar Coco Sweepstakes

I always keep a few SunRype Fruit to Go in my purse for the kids to snack on when we’re out and about. It’s also what my son takes with him to school every day for his “recess snack”. And at only 50 calories, it’s a treat I indulge in as well! Apple Wildberry is our new favorite. You’ll find SunRype snacks in the produce section or purchase by the case on Amazon.


Disney●Pixar’s Coco

SunRype snacks is sending one lucky winner (and three guests) to Hollywood for the Los Angeles Premiere Screening of the Disney●Pixar’s Coco film in early November! Entries for this amazing prize are being collected from October 2nd-20th. Weekly SunRype & Disney●Pixar’s Coco prize packages will be up for grabs from October 23rd to November 24th, 2017.

ENTER the SunRype & Disney●Pixar’s Coco Sweepstakes

Movie Premiere Trip for 4: October 2-20, 2017 – ENTER TO WIN

Weekly Prize Packages: October 23- November 24, 2017 – ENTER TO WIN

SunRype and Disney-Pixar Coco Sweepstakes

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  The sweepstakes begins on October 2nd, 2017 at 8:00am PT and ends on October 20, 2017, at midnight PT for the Premiere Trip Sweepstakes & October 23rd through to November 24th, 2017 for the weekly prize packages.  Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. or D.C. who are 18 years of age or older. The sweeps can be entered ONCE PER DAY. Find a full list of the prizes available to be won, how to enter, odds of winning and drawing dates along with the full rules and regulations at www.facebook.com/SunRypeUSA. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Sun-Rype Products Ltd.

 

 

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

This post is sponsored by Baskin-Robbins in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Growing up, Mother’s Day involved a handmade card for mom, church services, lunch afterwards with my extended family and a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake at home for dessert! I have distinct memories of my dad taking me with him to the local Baskin-Robbins when I was about 8 years old to choose the ice cream cake for my mom. I remember that it was rectangular shaped and covered with icing flowers. And it had a mint chocolate chip ice cream layer because that was my favorite (I recall him angling for pralines and cream himself!) I’m sure my mom would have been happy with whatever flavor we chose because they are all good!

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Mother’s Day Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake

Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes elevate dessert to a special level. They’ve been making ice cream since 1945 and have created over 1,300 flavors! Right now Baskin-Robbins is celebrating moms with a lineup of colorful Rosette ice cream cakes that can personalized just for mom. The pink Rosette Cake features a trendy ombre design and has a special message on a white chocolate plaque. For our Mother’s Day gathering, I chose the Elegant Rosette Cake with a cascading bouquet of flowers and personal message. I love the bright colors!

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Both of Baskin-Robbins’ Mother’s Day ice cream cakes can be customized to feature mom’s favorite ice cream and cake flavor combination. They can be pre-ordered in-store or through Baskin-Robbins’ online cake ordering site.

For this design I had my choice of either chocolate or vanilla cake and 16 different ice cream flavors. For our Mother’s Day cake, I chose chocolate cake and OREO® Cookies ‘n Cream, always a favorite! Baskin-Robbins’ has an extensive flavor library, including the May Flavor of the Month, Mom’s Makin’ Cookies™. Mom’s Makin’ Cookies features brown sugar flavored ice cream with chocolate chip cookie pieces, chocolate flavored chips, and a cookie dough batter flavored ribbon…doesn’t that sound decadent?!

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad

Order Ice Cream Cakes Online

Baskin-Robbins online cake ordering couldn’t be easier! Click the Baskin-Robbins link to browse through the gallery of ice cream cakes. From here you can create your own customizable cake by choosing the size, favorite ice cream and cake flavor combination. There are up to 16 Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavors to choose from (including Mint Chocolate Chip, Jamoca® Almond Fudge or Very Berry Strawberry) and one of two cake varieties, chocolate or vanilla.

Celebrate Mother's Day with a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake #ad
There are also options to add on additional items, including candles, to make your celebration even more special. Online cake orders are available for pick-up on the date you select, with cakes available as soon as 24 hours after the order is placed.

Or Order in Store!

We have a brand new Baskin-Robbins about 2 miles from our house so my little one and I stopped in to place our cake order. There was a book of cake designs and the cake decorator took down my order details. Quick and easy… and since we were there, we just had to get a cone too!

How will you celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day? Consider ordering your Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Cake today…you know she’ll love it!

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Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Disclosure: I received the Panasonic Lumix ZS60. This is my honest review and no further compensation will be given. All opinions are my own.

The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

In addition to my Smartphone camera, I have a “nice” camera that I usually take with me on vacation. Yes, the photos are of a higher quality than those I capture with my Smartphone, however the “nice” camera is also really big and heavy! This can be extremely cumbersome when visiting amusement parks because I have a bulky and heavy camera hanging around my neck for the entire day. It also just simply doesn’t take low light photos are well as I’d like.

What Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks?

I’ve been looking online for a more compact camera that will still meet my needs. Something small and lightweight. A camera that will still capture tack sharp images. A camera that would still catch the shot even in low light. And of course, it had to stay within a reasonable budget. All my research pointed me to the Panasonic Lumix ZS60. I was beyond thrilled to receive one through TravelingMoms!

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

The TravelingMoms recently took their annual retreat at Walt Disney World. While I was home with my newborn, the TMOMs were soaking in the beauty of Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, watching a sneak preview of the new summer show Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and meeting Jane Goodall! Jealous? Just a smidge! TMOMs Amy Barseghian and Leslie Harvey were kind enough to share these images with me that they captured during the trip on their Panasonic Lumix ZS60 (since I haven’t ventured farther than my own backyard lately!)

I’m anxious to test this camera during my next Disney trip and this is why I think the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is a perfect camera to take with you on your next amusement park adventure.

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian

Compact and lightweight

I’ve been lugging around my heavy DSLR on every vacation for the past 8 years. And yes, it takes great images but I hate having to carry such a large camera when visiting amusement parks. The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is super lightweight so you can easily slide it into your pocket, backpack or fanny pack (yes, you heard me, I wear a fanny pack at Disney!)

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

Multiple Modes

There are 11 possible modes on the Panasonic Lumix ZS60. If you just want to point and shoot without worry, set the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 to Intelligent Auto Mode and the camera will take photos with automatic settings.

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian

Zoom

A small swivel on top of the camera offers optical zoom at 30x magnification without degrading the picture quality. Perfect for capturing moments undetected, catching details of the parades and shows or getting up close and personal with the Characters.

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian

Lumix 4K

4K technology enables Post Focus function to refocus images after they are captured. Capture the scene, review the image on the camera’s LCD and touch any portion of the photo to refocus. That’s impressive!

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Leslie Harvey

Low Light Capture

We’ve all tried to take a shot during Pirates of the Caribbean, right? But without the use of flash photography, capturing images in low light can be tricky. And photos of fireworks? Forget about it! Check out how beautifully the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 captures this nighttime image of the new Disney Animal Kingdom show, Rivers of Light!

Why the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 Camera is Perfect for Amusement Parks

Photo Credit: Amy Barseghian

What’s your favorite feature of the Panasonic Lumix ZS60? 

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Storyteller’s Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Review of lunch at the Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa - Disneyland Resort

Storyteller’s Cafe Lunch Review

Do you enjoy a quiet respite mid-day while at the Disneyland Resort? It can be a great break, to seek lunch options outside of the Parks. When crowd levels are at their highest, we like to escape the Parks and take the family out for lunch and swimming. The Storyteller’s Cafe located at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa offered the perfect lunch break for us on our recent visit to Disneyland.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

I’ll be totally honest with you. It’s next to impossible to please my husband when it comes to eating out. He’s extremely particular about how his food is prepared, the ingredients and how the meal makes him feel afterwards. And because we are so frugal, eating out isn’t something we do very often, so he hates feeling like he “wasted” good money on a meal that didn’t satisfy.

We’ve eaten at Storyteller’s Cafe twice. The first time was several years ago and we dined at the dinner buffet. It was during the Christmas holidays and there was an amazing gingerbread creation in the lobby, delicious foods and fun Christmas treats for dessert. My husband raved about that meal several times after our trip so I know that the restaurant had made a positive impression on him.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

On our last visit he suggested that we dine at Storyteller’s Cafe for lunch. It was a very busy Saturday in the Parks and we’d not made any dining reservations so we weren’t sure what to expect when we showed up at the Cafe for lunch. Fortunately the restaurant was quite empty and they were able to accommodate us right away.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

Within minutes we had glasses of ice water and a basket of freshly baked bread. There was a small loaf of tear-apart buttermilk bread and little corn bread muffins, served with butter. Naturally between the five of us, we polished off that bread basket quickly but the waiter was happy to bring more.

Storyteller’s Cafe has a beautiful rustic decor that is both cozy and elegant.  The high ceilings, stained glass details, mix of woods and black wrought iron silhouettes and hand-painted murals really make this a warm atmosphere.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

What We Ate

My 12-yr old son is all about the soup so he ordered the Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder which had bits of rotisserie chicken, bacon bits and a sprinkle of cilantro. I’ve had this soup before and it’s thick, hearty and filling. It’s absolutely delicious so naturally, the boy didn’t share! The soup bowl is $8 which is a little steep but it’s a good serving size and it did fill him up.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My 12-yr daughter and I decided to order a burger to split between us and we were very happy with the Half-Pound Char-broiled Avocado-Bacon Burger. She doesn’t care for avocado so I requested it on the side. The avocado was more like guacamole, mashed with chunks of onion and tomato.

I ordered the beef patty but we could have also had ground turkey or a veggie-burger. The burger was large and juicy with cheddar cheese and toppings served on a Harvest bun. We opted for the fries which were perfectly crisp (we could have requested fresh fruit as a side option). The burger was big and there were plenty of fries so sharing this dish was a great choice. This burger platter is $15, which was reasonable for the portion size (and that we were able to split the dish between two).

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My husband (aka: Mr. Picky) chose the Grilled Albacore Tuna Sandwich and he was very pleased with his choice. He wanted something that wasn’t overly heavy and the lightly cooked tuna served on toasted ciabatta bread was just what he was craving. The sandwich came with a zesty lemon-caper mayo and was topped with fresh arugula, tomato, and pickled ginger. He requested extra lemons to squeeze on top. Being the health-conscious guy he is, he chose fruit instead of fries. At $17, this was a unique option that my husband really enjoyed.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

My 4-yr old, excited for the rare dining-out moment, chose the chicken breast nuggets and fries (something he doesn’t really get to eat at home). It came served with veggies (carrots & celery) and a large serving of fresh fruit. He ate all but one nugget (that his sister happily finished for him!)

Our lunch at Storyteller’s Cafe was absolutely delicious and filling enough that we actually didn’t even eat dinner that night (we had ice cream sundaes instead!) The service was quick and top-notch on the day of our visit. Though we were able to pop in without reservations on the day of our visit, it’s generally recommended that you try to book ADR for this restaurant. I would not attempt to show up for breakfast or dinner at Storyteller’s Cafe without Advance Dining Reservations.

Storyteller's Cafe at Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

What You Need to Know about Dining at Storyteller’s Cafe

You do not need to be a guest of the Disney Grand Californian Hotel and Spa to dine at Storyteller’s Cafe and it’s very easy to access the restaurant. You can enter the hotel through the Downtown Disney District and the restaurant is located just next to the pool. Likewise you can exit Disney’s California Adventure Park’s special entrance/exit that is connected to the hotel. Though anyone can exit through this method you have to be a Disneyland Resort hotel guest (with a valid room key) to enter back through this way.

Breakfast at Storyteller’s Cafe is buffet-style only and features character dining with Chip & Dale. Dinner offers both a buffet and the ability to order off the menu. Lunch is menu-only, no buffet is offered.

Next time (and there will be a next time) I’m going to have to try dessert…strawberry cheesecake? Yes, please!

What would you order from Storyteller’s Cafe? 

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2015 – A Look Back at the Year that Was

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When I started this blog in mid 2014, I had no idea what wonderful and exciting opportunities I’d be experiencing the following year. I’ll admit that my travel adventures and blog writing were the highlights of a year that proved to be challenging. In August 2015 I found out that I was going to be laid off from my job of 18 years. If that wasn’t shocker enough, I also found out that I was expecting a baby. The thought of 4 kids and no full-time employment was enough to send me in to a tailspin. I was forced to take an even harder look at our budget and cut even more corners, if that was even possible. Turns out, it was possible, with a little extra penny-pinching and sacrifice. It’s never easy but it’s been…interesting, to say the least!

Here is a look back at 2015 (and here’s 2014 – A Look Back at the Year that Was, if you’d like to read back and see what the blog was up to earlier).

My family and I were able to make a spur-of-the-moment one-day Disneyland visit in January 2015. My little one was tall enough to ride some new favorites, including Radiator Springs Racers and Space Mountain, making it a memorable visit. We captured this great family photo with Minnie, too.

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In mid-February I hosted a #DisneySide @HomeCelebration multi-generational party. It was a wonderful “just because” event and I was able to gather up some fantastic giveaways from fellow Etsy vendors. These vendors were generous enough to offer prizes to my party guests as well as giveaways to my readers on the blog as well.

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I decided in early spring to become a Jamberry Independent Consultant and have thoroughly enjoyed the connections and friendships I’ve created through offering these wonderful products. And my nails have never looked so good! I also love being able to offer Jamberry giveaways here on my blog.

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I also started posting occasionally with Magical DIStractions, yet another great way for me to connect with Disney fans from around the world! See my Magical DIStractions posts, like Radiator Springs Racers – Why a Trip to Cars Land is a Must! and 6 Holiday Things to Do at the Disneyland Resort without a Park Ticket.

April came in with some incredible new opportunities. I applied to be a writer on the website TravelingMom. Originally I started off as SoCal TravelingMom but have now taken on the title of Day Trips TravelingMom, which is more appropriately fit to my usual travel itinerary. I’ve been able to share my Disney love on TravelingMom as well as other “day trip” worthy locations. Check out 11 Tips for Navigating Holiday Crowds at Disneyland, How to See Everything at the San Diego Zoo in a Single Day and Wonderment Abounds at Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA.

How to Navigate Holiday Crowds at the Disneyland Resort #TMOM

I also received a big surprise that month when the TravelingMoms asked if I’d like to join in their annual retreat at…Walt Disney World! Within three weeks, I was off to Orlando (with my brother, mom and 3-yr old son) for the very first time. BIG bucket list item checked off for us!! It was a truly magical experience that I’m looking forward to doing again soon! I wrote about my first visit on the post 11 Wonderful, Magical and Patience-Testing Experiences at Walt Disney World and Walt Disney World Magical Express Bus – What I Loved (and my $80 Mistake).

Comfortable (But Still Cute) Clothes to Wear at Disney

In between I wrote lots of posts! Some had helpful Disney tips like Disneyland Hotel Swimming Pools, 9 Things Disneyland Fans Need to Know Before Visiting Walt Disney World, How to Eat at Disneyland without Advanced Dining ReservationsDisneyland for Free?! and How to Eat Healthfully At Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself). I also started a popular new “Guide” feature that’s appropriate for each Disney fan, from Princesses to Adventurers.

How to Eat Healthfully (and Still Treat Yourself!) at Disneyland

I also had plenty of budgeting posts like Create Budget-Friendly “Summer Camps” for Your Kids….At Home! and 8 things to Consider When Making MORE Cuts to Your Budget (a topic we were very familiar with this year!)

And some handy “our life” posts like Why Our Kids Do Housework-Tips for Getting Kids to Pitch In and Make Extra Money (in Little Ways that Really Add Up!)

FREE PRINTABLE - Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)

In June, I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Conference in Portland, Oregon! It was my first time to the Pacific-Northwest and my husband and I made it an early 5th wedding anniversary gift and took the trip together. We visited Seattle, friends in Gig Harbor and toured Portland by foot. It was a great conference and I made so many wonderful connections. Here’s to hoping Disney On-the-Road is even closer to me in 2016!

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In mid-June I celebrated my first blog anniversary. What a year it was, I’ve covered quite a bit in one year!

In September, I connected with Collective Bias and started writing posts for them that include free printables, recipes and occasional giveaways. It’s been a great opportinuty for this new stay-at-home-mom and I hope you’re enjoying these posts that introduce you to new products.

Chipotle Black Bean Soup Recipe on a Budget

I’ve continued to write for the Blogorail in 2015, including these popular posts about 10 Tips for Surviving a Disneyland Rainy Day, 6 DisneyBounding “Rules” and Crowded Disneyland Day – Top Tips on What to Do. I really appreciate the comraderie of these fellow Disney-lovers.

6 DisneyBounding "Rules" - How to Capture Your DisneySide!

In early September I applied for the Disney Parks Moms Panel again. I was a finalist in 2014 and received a “FastPass” to Round 2 this year, but it was not meant to be. The panel seemed to be moving in a different direction and none of the Disneyland FastPassers were pushed past round 2. There’s always next year!

I had the amazing treat of being invited to the HP Print & Pamper Retreat in early October. One of the best parts is that it took place just 30 minutes from my home so it was truly a weekend getaway for me! I was able to relax, learn and connect with other like-minded bloggers, which made it a totally unique experience for me. We toured the HP facilities, had a fun crafting evening and topped off the weekend with a trip to my favorite place, Disneyland! I was able to see the Paint the Night parade for the first time, which was perfect. It also allowed me to see the Disneyland 60th celebration decor in person, something I didn’t think I’d get a chance to see!

Paint the Night - Disneyland's Nighttime Spectacular Parade

Mac the Truck from Cars

As I move into 2016, I’m excited for the direction that this blog is moving and am thankful to all of my readers, especially when you take the time to comment and share with me about each post. That’s helps me to know that there are people out there who appreciate and enjoy my writing and hopefully in some small way I’ve been able to help you out this year. Whether it be sharing my Disney tips, offering budgeting help when finances are tight or introducing you to a new product, I hope you are enjoying what I share. Please continue to comment and share my posts via social media if you can, it helps me (as a small business owner) to grow and succeed.

Blessings to you all in the new year! Cheers for what’s to come in 2016.


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