Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight: Tips for Taking Your First Cruise By Destinations In Florida

  Today we have another wonderful Sponsor Spotlight from Alexia from Destinations in Florida. If you missed the last one on Bringing Your Toddler to Disney World, feel free to check it out! It is all about taking a cruise for beginners. There's some great tips in here. I may be able to talk my husband into taking me on one with some of these tips. Thanks so much Alexia. Remember you can get a free quote for a cruise, Disney or Florida vacation by clicking on the pictures in this post and the Destinations in Florida add that is always on the sidebar! I hope you all take advantage of some great vacation deals!   

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida
    Many people dream of taking a cruise, but put it off or avoid it completely because they don’t know what to expect or how to prepare. Here are my best tips and tricks for first time cruisers:
Pack light. Cabins on a cruise ship are smaller than a standard hotel room and do not have much storage space. If you over pack, you will drive yourself crazy trying to decide where to store everything. Pack light so you can enjoy the space you do have.
Invest in and pack a passport. Most cruise lines will not require you to have a passport if you depart and arrive in the same US port; however, it is a good idea to have a passport in case of a personal or ship emergency and you need to fly home.
Invest in Sea-Bands. Most people who have never been on a cruise before worry about getting sea sick. Invest in Sea-Bands, which help with motion sickness, if you are worried about this. Most first time cruisers report feeling a little queasy on the departure day, but then feel normal the next day.
Know the laws about pregnant women and infants. Women who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy and infants under 6 months old will not be allowed to sail on most cruise lines. Disney Cruise Line will allow infants 12 weeks and older to sail. Take these rules under consideration when you plan your cruise dates.
Give yourself plenty of time between your flight arrival and sail time. You don’t want to miss your cruise because of a flight delay, traffic, or a delay in your transportation to the port of call. Book your flight early enough to give yourself some extra time in case of an emergency.
Pack a carry-on bag. Include all of your first day essentials in your carry-on bag. It may take several hours for your luggage to arrive to your room. If you want to hit the pool right away, be sure to pack your sunscreen and your swimsuit in your carry-on.
Know the cruise line’s alcohol and outside food and beverage policies. This varies greatly between the cruise lines. For example, Royal Caribbean prohibits guests from bringing beer, hard liquor or non-alcoholic beverages onboard. Guests may bring personal wine and champagne onboard only on boarding day, limited to two (2) 750 ml bottles per stateroom. When consumed in any public area, each bottle shall be subject to a corkage fee of $25.00. Disney Cruise Line does permit alcohol on board. However, be aware that any fragile items (including bottled alcohol) must be hand-carried on board in a day bag and/or carry-on bag, the dimensions of which cannot exceed 22" wide, 14" high and 9" deep. Alcohol brought on board may not be consumed in any lounge or public area. Guests who arrive in the dining room with a bottle of champagne or wine that has been brought on board will be charged a corking fee of $20.00 per bottle.
Start small. Most first time cruisers consider a seven or eight night cruise to be too long for a first time cruise. Start with a shorter three or four night cruise instead.
Book shore excursions in advance. Shore excursions are tours and activities that guests can partake in once the ship has reached port for an additional fee. These shore excursions usually book up very quickly. Be sure to book any shore excursions as early in advance as possible to make sure you don’t miss out!
Don’t skip the safety drill. The last thing you want to do on your first day onboard is listen to a speech about what to do in an emergency, but you should. They are usually short, to the point, and well organized. The information you receive could be life-saving.
Take advantage of free kids clubs. Most cruise lines have free kids clubs for kids ages 3-17. These kids clubs are divided by age group (usually 3-11, 11-14, and 14-17) and have different activities appropriate for each age group. They are usually free to use and give Mom and Dad an opportunity to explore the ship’s adult only areas such as the spa or fitness rooms. For infants and toddlers under three, there is usually a nursery also; however, most charge an hourly fee for nursery use.
Be prepared for a lot of food. There will be food pretty much everywhere on the ship. If you are on a diet, be prepared to try to resist a lot of temptation. Even room service is free on most cruise lines. If you were worried about being hungry on your cruise, don’t worry, the food is practically thrown at you!
What advice do you wish someone had given you before your first cruise?
Alexia is a Disney Vacation Specialist with Destinations in Florida. When she is not helping plan magical vacations, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

   Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lemon White Chocolate Pound Cake

 I am a big fan of lemons and white chocolate in many combinations, (check out some of my other favorite recipes, Lemon Chicken, Easy Lemon Bars, White Chocolate-dipped Almond Lemon Biscotti, and When Life Gives You Lemons). If only I could get a lemon tree to grow in my yard I would be in heaven.
   Pound cakes are great cakes for beginners. They do not take a ton of preparation and they have an easy presentation that you really cannot mess up. You cook them in a loaf pan and then they look fabulous when you have them with tea or coffee later. This is a delicious recipe that you will absolutely love!

Lemon White Chocolate Pound Cake

- 1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 eggs beaten
- juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup of white chocolate chips

For sauce after cooking
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- juice of two lemons

NOTE: Be sure to take seeds out of lemons while you are juicing them.

Mix together sugar and butter with electric mixer.

 Add the eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest and mix.

Add the salt, flour and baking powder and mix until combined.

 Fold in white chocolate chips. Pour batter into greased and floured loaf pan.

 Bake at 325 degree for 1 hour or until golden brown.

 Poke holes in the top of the pound cake and pour glaze of sugar and lemon juice over cake.

 Serve warm or refrigerated!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Guest Post: Making Summers Memorable With Celebrity Inspired Parties

 I would like to offer a warm welcome to Arianna for doing this wonderful guest post on Making Summers Memorable With Celebrity Inspired Parties. She has some great ideas in here that I know you will all love!

Make Your Summer Memorable With Celebrity Inspired Parties!

On hot summer days, my house is full of kids running around, getting into everything and anything! When you add in family vacations, play dates, and a parade of barbeques, summer turns into a busy season for my household!

A few of my girlfriends and I were talking about what it would be like to have a quiet vacation with great service, delicious drinks, and relaxation.  Since that sounds like a life of a celebrity, my friends and I decided that we would take matters into our own hands and create our own fun. After a few drinks by the pool, we came up with some great ideas to kick off a summer to remember!

CELEBRITY SUMMER: ALBUM RELEASE PARTIES: With highly anticipated new tracks from Kanye West, The Black Keys, and Brittany Spears, the sounds of summer will be filled with fresh songs!  Celebrities bounce from country to country on a private jet to party and promote their new music.  If you are able to go to one of these coveted parties, get ready to dance the night away!  

REALITY SUMMER: DANCE OFF! : While you may not be able to take a chartered flight to perform for your fans, you can do the next best thing by making your yard into a dance floor!  Designate teams, choose music, and have a practice rehearsal.  After the main event, choose a winning team by secret ballot.  Don't forget to hand out music themed prizes, such as iTunes gift cards or headphones!

CELEBRITY SUMMER: DO SOMETHING AWARDS: This awards show celebrates young adults making a positive difference in their communities.  Nominees are recognized for their efforts to give back to others, and winners are presented with grants for their communities, which range from $10,000 to $100,000!
REALITY SUMMER: VOLUNTEER PARTY: While you may not be able to earn a Do Something award, you can still make a difference!  Have your children choose a project, such as cleaning a park, collecting food for a local food shelf, or visiting residents at a nursing home. Create team shirts before for a unified feel! After you are done for the day, celebrate your good deed with ice cream treats!

CELEBRITY SUMMER: EXPENSIVE KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTIES: Kourtney Kardashian hosted an extravagant birthday party for her two year old son Mason. With aThomas the Train Engine theme, lunch at the famous restaurant Serendipity, and a trip to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Kourtney made sure that Mason's birthday party was a memorable one!

REALITY SUMMER: DIY "ARTY" KIDS BIRTHDAY PARTY: When it is time for your children's summer birthday parties, consider a DIY craft party! Put up stations with art supplies such as finger paints, play dough, construction paper, and markers.  Finish off the day with a colorful dessert such as a rainbow cake and their favorite flavor of sherbet!  

With these ideas in your summer repertoire of events, you can make your summer memorable for your family and friends.  Adopt one or all of these ideas, and your summer will seem more relaxed like the life of a celebrity, instead of a busy suburban mom!

Arianna is a full-time mom and a fashion-lover, world traveler, animal lover, and family woman extraordinaire. She loves to cook and bake, travel to new places, share great fashion finds, and spend time doing crafts and projects at home with her kids. She’s got a crazy busy life, but she wouldn’t have it any other way! Follow her blog at

Friday, July 26, 2013

Daddy's Little Helper

   Since Xavier is walking and slightly talking he is pretty much a mini adult and thus loves to do whatever we are doing. Whether we want his help or not. He tries so hard to be helpful. He loves to put the clean dishes on the floor from the dishwasher and shut the door before it's empty. He loves to put clean clothes from the dryer on the floor to help me fold them.
   However, the other day my husband Nick was working on some security camera equipment for our house. Apparently, Nick was not capable of doing this without Xavier's help. I snapped these pictures and thought they were priceless.
   I hope this brightens your weekend and maybe helps you appreciate your little helper in your life!

What are you doing dad? Can I help?

Here, let me get that for you.

Sorry mom, I can't play right now I'm helping dad.
I see all the big stuff is on this side of you. Perhaps I should go over here.
Perfect! There is the piece I was looking for!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce

  This time of year many people have their basil plants in full on bloom and have tons of basil that they are unsure of what to do. I received some basil from some good friends of ours and decided to try out this recipe. What I like best about this recipe is it is baby/toddler friendly in the fact that you do not need to have pine nuts. Also, a lot cheaper without having to buy them. So everyone can enjoy some. This is a small portion only for two adults and a little one. You may want to double the recipe to make a bigger batch. Also, please note this is just the sauce recipe you can put it over any type of pasta or ravioli what ever strikes your fancy! Enjoy!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce
- serves two people (and perhaps a little one)

- 1 (8.5 ounce) jar of sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, you can also use 1 cup of dried sun-dried tomatoes just soak them in extra virgin olive oil for 12 hours first, then keep the olive oil to use
- 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- about 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, you may need more depending on the consistency when you are blending it and warming it up just have some handy. You do not want it too runny or too lumpy just in between is perfect.

- In food processor or blender blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, basil and garlic until everything is thoroughly chopped.

- Transfer to a medium sized bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper
You can then warm it on the stove like any other sauce and put over pasta or ravioli, you may need to add extra virgin olive oil to make it more soupy instead of lumpy.
- This pest will last for one week if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator 

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sponsor Spotlight and Giveaway: I Am Salon and Day Spa

  This is my second Sponsor Spotlight for my wonderful sponsor the I Am Salon and Day Spa! For sponsor spotlight's I would like to tell you new things that are going on with our sponsors. If you have not had a chance to read my review of I Am Salon and Day Spa please do and you will see how easy it was for me to fall in love with this wonderful spa and salon.

    I Am Salon and Day Spa focuses on renewal for the mind, body and spirit of it's clients. They treat both male and female clients to spa treatments that make the skin, body and hair feel luxuriously pampered. Their services range from cut and color, color correction waxing, facials, tinting, hair removal, massage, manicures, pedicures, microdermabrasion, infra-red sauna, teeth whitening, hair straightening and body treatments. They really have something for everyone. They are located right on the intersection of Carolina Beach Road and South College Road and are easy to find. If you "like" their page on Facebook they have gift card give-a-ways all the time!

    I Am Salon and Day Spa was established in 1997, as one of the first salon and spas in the monkey Junction area. They are an Aveda Concept salon and use products that are safe and healthy for your body as well as the environment. They offer a wide range of services, such as, various hair services, nail services, massages, body treatments, facials, and waxing, just to name a few. Their stylists and technicians are some of the best in Wilmington. Their massage services are provided by North Carolina Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapists and all our other technicians are North Carolina Licensed as well so you know you have competent professionals working on you. We are so confident that you will love your experience at I Am Salon and Day Spa, that there is a money back guarantee. Don’t think you can afford to treat yourself to a day at the spa? Think again. We offer monthly specials to make sure everyone is able to experience pampering and relaxation. You can see a full list of our services at or friend us on Facebook! Want to hear about us from a customer’s perspective? Take a look at over 400 reviews on

The I Am Salon and Day Spa are located at
5315-C South College Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28412

This giveaway is for a $100 gift card to the I Am Salon and Day Spa. This spa is located in Wilmington, NC though you do not need to be from here to enter or win. Winner must be located in the United States. Giveaway will close Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 8:00AM EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guest Post For DIY Toddler Changing Table

Hi Everyone!
   Today I was fortunate enough to be able to do a guest post over on the wonderful blog called Musings From A Stay At Home Mom.

Is your baby changing station not working for you any longer? Are you ready to upgrade to a Toddler changing station? Well, be sure to follow this link to read all about how I changed Xavier's baby changing station into a Toddler changing station and how much easier our diaper and clothing changes are! Be sure to check out the other great posts on Musings From A Stay At Home Mom she does great reviews and giveaways!

This definitely needs an upgrade!
Read my guest post here

Erika Bragdon | Blogger • Founder 
Musings from a Stay At Home Mom 
Social Media: Facebook Twitter pinterest Instagram Google Plus Page

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sponsor: Grand Trunk National Hammock Day

   I received Parachute Nylon Hammock for free from Grand Trunk as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Grand Trunk for National Hammock Day. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating. All opinions are 100% my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC guidelines.

    The hammock is defined as" a swinging couch hung by cords at each end" [Websters]. Couches are very comfortable and a lot of fun. So why do more people not have hammocks? They bring together two very important things, people and the outdoors.

  Hammocks are a way for you to travel light and you are able to  hang the hammock wherever you are. There are many different types of hammocks from the material they are made with to the accessories added on to them, like hammocks with bug nets and roofs. They have certainly come a long way since just fisherman rope.
   Although I had always loved the idea of hammocks I had never owned one. I guess it just never occurred to me to get one. However, after Grand Trunk gave me the chance to try one out I can see why hammocks should be the must have summer furniture accessory.  They are a simple way of bringing fun and closeness back to a family. You can hang them up anywhere. In fact the Parachute Nylon Hammock is the world's best portable hammock. It is high-strength, mildew resistant parachute nylon with triple-stitched seams and nautical grade hanging carabiners ensure the hammock can hold up to 400 pounds. The rope and instructions are included, although I found it incredibly easy to put up and down in a matter of minutes. What was also nice was it was easy to fit right back into the bag every time.

    We really enjoy our Grand Trunk Hammock. It is very easy to put up and down. The material is very durable and strong, yet easy to clean and lightweight. It actually holds Nick, Xavier and I all at once, quite comfortably.  If you are thinking of adding some summer family bonding time I suggest you get a hammock. Nothing beats lazy evenings swaying back and forth with your loved ones and looking at the moon and stars.

   Grand Trunk Hammocks are great because they are so small you can easy toss one into the backseat of your car and take them everywhere you go. They are great for camping, the beach, sporting events or just romantic picnics.

   They say that it is popular to have an outdoor room for your home. I am certainly glad that my outdoor room has the hottest summer furniture accessory, the hammock!


To find out more about Grand Trunk Products just click to visit their webpage!
You can also visit their Facebook and Twitter pages!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mirror Camera

   One of the greatest things that I have discovered about having an iphone is how wonderful the camera is in it. I am not a very good photographer. If you read my blogs it's mainly because you probably like my writing not my photographic skills which I am trying to improve for your benefit.
   The best way to get pictures of Xavier is to turn the camera around so it is a mirror. There is a button on the screen that lets you see yourself before you take the picture. My narcissistic son absolutely adores this feature! He will run at you if he thinks you are taking his picture. Needless to say to brighten your weekend I thought I would show you a few of the many "mirror shots" that I got of Xavier.

I hope you all have a wonderful and fun filled weekend!

Oh look it's me!

Mom you are in my way!
How is my hair looking?
I am one handsome fellow!
One funny face for the road!

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

One Pan Chicken Dinner

  There is simply no recipe I love more as a mom then something that you can throw in the pan and put in the oven. Then, while it is cooking I can play with my family and we can all enjoy the scrumptious aroma of food and sit down to eat and enjoy. I made this recipe because who does not need a new chicken recipe, plus you can cook it all in one dish and clean it all up when done. I hope you enjoy the convenience and the taste!

One Pan Chicken Dinner
- serves around 4 people

- 4-5 chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 1 1/2 cup rice
- 1 cup onion
- 1 cup celery
- 1 cup carrots
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- 3 cup chicken broth

- Pour melted butter in 9x13 pan.

 Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika and dip chicken in the mixture and coat both sides.

 Put chicken covered in mixture in pan and bake uncovered.
Cook uncovered at 375 for 30 minutes.

- While chicken is cooking mix rice, carrots, onion and celery in another bowl.

- Take out chicken and put on another plate.
- Pour rice mixture into the pan and then pour the chicken broth and stir
- Put chicken pieces back on the top of the rice mixture and cover with foil.

- Bake at 375 for another 25 minutes
- Then take off the foil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes

Serve hot!


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