Tips and Tricks for Disney World!

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We went to Disney World right before Christmas and it was SO much fun! I wanted to share a few planning tips that helped us have such a fun and happy time together. When it comes to Disney World, planning and being prepared really does make all the difference when it comes to NOT stressing, so I wanted to compile all of my thoughts here for any of you who are planning to take your family to the happiest place on Earth, too!

Planning:

  • We used a travel agent when planning our trip and it’s probably my BIGGEST recommendation for a Disney trip - if you take no other advice from me, please please please have someone help you plan your Disney trip. Alyson Pitzer of Magical Moments Vacations helped us tailor our trip perfectly to our family and I would highly recommend her to anyone! We didn’t have to pay her either - she is compensated by Disney so when you purchase your tickets through her or reserve hotels, she is compensated by Disney. But she does SO much more than book things - she truly helped us tailor the trip perfectly for my kids’ ages, character preferences, height requirements, EVERYTHING - she helped us schedule our fast passes, make dining reservations for character meals, and explained how to actually execute a Disney trip - everything from transportation to meal planning to where the best hidden places are in the parks to grab a bite to eat, change a diaper, etc. She is a wealth of information and I hope everyone uses her because gosh, we certainly will be using her services again! #disneycruiseupnext

  • Park Hopper! This is so helpful to have along with your ticket if you want to move around a little bit. It’s really fun to spend a morning at Magic Kingdom and then head over to Epcot to eat in the afternoon. I didn’t utilize our Park Hopper much this time, but my extended family did and they really liked being able to move around! I feel like this is helpful if you have multiple park days and older children who are a little more mobile).

  • Rider Swap - It’s hard for me to explain how this works but it is SO helpful. Since Daxton is still too little to ride roller coasters, Stevie and I could utilize the rider swap to switch off taking Everett on rides and not have to wait in line each time. Like I said, hard to actually explain but it is so worth utilizing!

  • We used the My Disney Experience app to organize all of our fast passes (you’re allowed to plan up to 3 per day and continue to add more as you use them up), and our dining plans (reservations are required for sit-down meals, and booking 6 months in advance for some restaurants is a must!) Again, our travel agent was absolutely amazing in helping us get all of this set up, so we just had to show up on our trip and our app told us what was happening. It was literally amazing.

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Eating:

  • If you can swing it, the Disney Meal Plan is evvvverything. You pay ahead of time for the dining plan and then your Magic Band is automatically loaded with daily credits for meals and snacks at the parks and hotels. It is a total gift to all the mamas! A true vacation for me is one where I do not have to cook. Can I get an amen?

  • All that being said, I wish I had packed my kids some pb & j sandwiches (and a few healthy snacks) as an extra during the days. They love something simple like that and they didn’t always eat the chicken nuggets or whatever it was that we got for them that was on the dining plan. However, Stevie and I always used their dining credits, so I still think the plan is totally worth it!

  • Just so you know, you can get Starbucks coffee on the dining plan - it counts as a snack credit and it is the BEST to grab one in the early morning when you get into the park. It gave me a little extra motivation to get to the park right when it opened! Which is also the time when the park is least crowded.

  • Fave restaurants:

    • Magic Kingdom- Be Our Guest (I like breakfast here best), Sleepy Hollow (get the waffles!), Casey’s (get the corn dog nuggets and don’t think about the calories), Aloha Isle (get the Dole Whipped Treat!!!!), and Starbucks on Main Street (I personally like to grab an early coffee here and walk very slowly down Main Street - it’s perhaps the cheeriest place I’ve ever been and I always want to soak it up!)

    • Animal Kingdom - Tusker House (my favorite character meal!)

    • Epcot - Oh gosh, I ate everything here! This is the best place to walk and munch literally all day long. Christmas Tea in England, tacos in Mexico, kettle corn in Canada, crepes in France, mac’n’cheese in Germany, orange chicken in China and mulled wine in Germany!

    • Hollywood Studios - 50’s Prime Time Cafe

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Attire:

  • You have to wear Mickey ears at The Magic Kingdom! I got this 12-pack on Amazon, which had both Mickey & Minnie ears, and we wore these the last time. This time my sis Lauren also snagged a pair for me from Claires (that look similar to this) and I loved having a fancy glitter pair!

  • We wore Mickey and Disney gear the entire trip because its fun to be so festive! I shopped at Target for a few months before hand and just picked up things here and there that would coordinate well for the days we were at the parks.

  • Wear comfy shoes. Do NOT wear flip flops. Just trust me on this one, friends. I’m on your side!

  • Pack an extra layer for yourself and your kiddos if you are going to stay for the whole day into the evening - the temperatures definitely drop at night!

Getting Around:

  • I personally loved renting a van and driving to the parks everyday. Even though the monorail and bus system is super efficient, our hotel didn’t have a monorail option and sometimes the buses can take a while to arrive. With little kids (and nap times and the need for urgent potty breaks!), I just really liked having the control of leaving when we needed to. However, this is totally a personal preference thing and I have lots of family that really liked using the bus system!

  • I will also highly recommend arriving at the parks 15-30 minutes before they open. I know, that sounds crazy, but just hear me out here. Many of the parks actually open their doors 30 minutes prior to actually opening and beginning the rides, so if you are able to get into the park, grab a coffee, and have a leisure walk to your first ride, then when the park officially opens you are already standing in front of your first ride. It can be hectic trying to get to the park that early, but it is much less crowded in the mornings and it’s easier to jump on rides. Trust me on this one - the park is the most crowded at 11am because that’s when most people manage to get there after eating breakfast, etc. Just trust me here! Get to the park early and enjoy the peace and quiet! You will ride 3x as many rides this way!

  • If you have a child that naps, you can either stay in the park and hope that they nap in your stroller, or you can head back to the hotel in the early in the afternoon and give them a proper nap. We have done it both ways, and we really make the decision the day of, depending on how late the park will be open that day. For example, if Magic Kingdom closes at 5pm, then we will probably try to stay at the park for the day. But if it closes at 10pm, we would try to get to the park at 7:30/7:45am, ride rides and have fun until about noon, eat lunch and then head back to the hotel for rest time and naps until about 5pm. Then we would grab dinner and enjoy the park in the evening - making certain to catch the fire works!

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Gear:

  • We brought our Double Bob Stroller and we LOVED having it. They boys could ride around in it when they got tired, we could keep them contained (which is a big deal, because otherwise we were holding their hands while we walked with them in the crowds). It was also helpful for letting Daxton nap in the afternoons. Overall, it was just SO convenient to have it and Disney has tons of stroller parking everywhere (with people keeping an eye on the strollers!) when you couldn’t take the stroller directly to the rides. It was so helpful to have a hub for all our STUFF. Because man, we brought a lot of stuff.

  • Speaking of stuff, I packed my diaper bag each day with the following: an extra pair of clothes for each boy, a full refillable water bottle for each person, lots of snacks, diapers and wipes, hand sanitizer, sun glasses, chapstick, tissues, a little toy for each boy (to play with while we were in line, but honestly, we didn’t need these), and when its really hot, I would also recommend a mister fan, a hat and some sunscreen.

  • I would also recommend packing a portable phone charger (you use your phone SO much at DIsney, between taking photos and using the My Disney app to keep up with your Fast Passes - this is helpful if your phone battery isn’t great!)

I think that’s all! Goodness, it looks like a lot of info, but this was our second time taking the boys to Disney and it was an even better trip! I truly think having a travel agent help us make an amazing plan made all the difference - we have never used a travel agent for any other trip, including international travel with the kids, but I feel like at Disney is it completely necessary! We absolutely LOVED our time there this year and I even made a little Travel Diary on IGTV, which you can see here.

I hope this was helpful for you! Please leave your fave Disney tips and tricks in the comments section so we can all learn from them! xx

The Boys Right Now.

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Everett. Four and a half going on seventeen. Right now you are so much fun I can hardly stand it. I keep telling you to stop growing up and you keep telling me you’re going to keep doing it.

You love playing Candyland, we play it at least 3 times a day. Your favorite card is the ice cream floats, because you love ice cream AND because it bumps you so close to the finish line. Which you remind me of, every time.

Lately you have been telling me, “I’ll love you forever mommy and I’ll never stop loving you”. And you are also saying, “I love you 100”. There are really no words to describe how it feels when you tell me these things. I LOVE YOU FOREVER 100 TOO!!!

You are continuously working on your worksheets from school, even when we are at home and not talking about school work. You’re getting so good at your name that now you are practicing writing Daxton’s name and it makes me so happy when you are so proud of your work.

You are eating so good these days, my love, and GOSH is it a relief after the journey we’ve had. I am so proud of you for eating your broccoli, even if we do douse it with an extreme dose of parmesan cheese.

And you are so helpful with your brother, letting him know when his behavior warrants a discipline. I’m sure he appreciates it, but not as much as I do. You are going to make a great daddy with all this practice you’re getting these days!

You are so thoughtful, asking the best questions. Questions that make me ask myself questions! Like, “Mom, what is prison? How do you get there?” Omg.

You run so fast, Everett. I cannot wait to see where those legs take you.

We are reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe right now before bedtime, and you keep saying you want the witch to win, which makes me giggle. I can’t wait for you to figure out that she’s really the bad guy.

You refuse to nap, so we are in that stage where you are having “rest time” and somehow finding ways to get out of it. You are quite the negotiator! But seriously - I miss the days when you napped.

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Daxton.

My two-year old. You big, beautiful burly babe. You have gotten so snuggly with me lately, which is really making my life. I don’t care what else is happening in the world when I’m snuggling with you - it’s just that good!

You are speaking so well, repeating everything you hear your brother say. It makes my heart soar to hear you say, “I wuv you, Ev-wett” when we put you boys to bed at night. And you say “Thank you, mama” about 10 times a day which makes all of my insides smile. You make me SO happy.

And watching you and Everett play together is exactly what I dreamed and hoped it would be all those months when I was pregnant with you and imagining the brotherhood you two would share.

Your hair is so, so soft. I hope it stays that way forever.

You are experiencing a good dose of the 2’s right now, so discipline is happening around the clock. I hope you will understand in the future that it’s all for your good and because we love you.

You also have decided to follow in your brother’s footsteps when it comes to his repulsion of most foods. Thankfully he has grown out of that, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and trying to stress less) that you will soon grow out of it, too.

Speaking of, you still call snacks “Thuhhhhh” and as much as I want you to start saying it the right way, a bigger part of me DOESN’T. Because when you ask for a “thuhhh” I can’t help but laugh.

You are easy going, fun to be with, and you make everyone around you smile because of your smile. Even your teachers want to keep you! You bless me every single day. Although I’m pretty certain I’m going to have to stop carrying you around places because, BOY, you are growing like a weed.

Both of you boys, stop growing! And at the same time, keep doing it, because with each incremental bit of growth comes an unexpected amount of fun and I feel like we are all just in a really good groove these days. You two have made my life full, so full. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you both forever!

2018 in Review.

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Happy New Year, friends!!

It fills me with a mix of unbelievable gratitude and relief, thinking back on 2018. So many wonderful things happened this year, but it wasn’t without its heartache. I am personally excited to move ahead into 2019, armed with the lessons I collected over the past year. I am dreaming a lot right now and brainstorming to freshen up this space (blog, instagram) and breathe some new life and creativity into it! Thank you for being here and being a loyal visitor and friend to this site!

As for 2018, here are the posts you all enjoyed the most!

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that non-toxic life

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recipes

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family life

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style, etc.

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travel

home life


I have loved all the content I was able to create this year and I just want to say thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for being here and making this site worth your time! Thank you for visiting this space and making it such a joy to create fun posts here! I am so grateful for the opportunity this blog grants me to share with you, and I want you to know that you matter to me. This might not be the biggest blog in the world, but I am so smitten with it and I am so happy to have a little corner of the internet that is mine to dream big with! Here’s to even BIGGER dreams for 2019!

xx Kristen

The Apple Crisp (that is both breakfast and dessert!)

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Merry Christmas Eve! If you’re like me, you are anticipating lots of people in your home over the next few days. And if you’re like me, you want to have easy, no-fuss snack/meal/dessert options on hand so that everyone gets fed and feels loved and happy.

Enter the apple crisp, the single most versatile weapon in my recipe arsenal. YES I WENT THERE.

This recipe can basically be whatever you want to call it or frame it as. It’s breakfast! It’s dessert! It’s healthy! You can add milk to it, or yogurt (or nothing!) and it’s a yummy warm breakfast. You can add some ice cream to it and suddenly it’s a wickedly good dessert. It’s anything you want it to be! And I love how clean the ingredients are, so you are truly working with a healthy, warm, nourishing dish that is such a universal crowd-pleaser. Make it. I know you will love it.

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Ingredients:
- 4 cups diced apples
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup nuts, chopped (I like to do a mix of walnuts and pecans)
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the oats, nuts, almond meal, syrup and salt.
3. Pour the apples into an 8x8 glass pyrex dish, then layer the toppings over it.
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is brown and a bit crispy.

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I typically double or triple this recipe when I have people over, and if I don’t, I still make a lot and freeze half of it. It’s one of the best things to eat first thing on a cold morning! Please let me know if you make it and enjoy it! I love sharing recipes with you that are staples in our household.


I hope the next few days are full of so much love and delight and laughter as you celebrate with your favorite people. Merry Christmas Eve to you all!

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My Favorite Winter Lipsticks.

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I tend to wear more lipstick in the fall and winter months - I don’t know why?! My summer skin just wants to be bare while my winter skin craves more pigment. My mom has always been a lipstick lover - I recall so vividly that she always gravitated toward brick red/burgundy shades, and I always feel a sense of nostalgia for her when I put on a similar color. Isn’t that funny?

As many of you know, I have spent a lot of time over the years researching green beauty brands and here are a few that I LOVE along with different shades that work best.

My favorite “neutral” winter lipstick is Axiology organic lipstick in “Devotion” - it’s a peachy-copper shade with the slightest hint of shimmer, and I just love how it feels really neutral but still really put together. This looks really good if you want to wear a smokier eye and just need something simple for your lips.


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My favorite pop-of-color winter lipstick is Axiology organic lip crayon in “Enduring”. It’s a berry/brick matte formula and I just love this color - it makes me feel like my best self even if I’m not wearing any other makeup.

I didn’t mean for my two favorites to both be Axiology, I just have really been gravitating towards these shades because I feel like they just work for me with my skin tone. I also LOVE that this brand is completely non-toxic, cruelty-free, and comes in super flattering shades for every skin tone. I super geek out on the packaging, too (it’s SO PRETTY), which makes it all the more fun and special. Girl stuff.

My runner-up choices are the Ilia Multistick in “A Fine Romance” (a cranberry pink/red shade that doubles as a cheek stain!), Honeybee Gardens in “Desire” (a subtle red, if there ever was such a thing!), and RMS Lip2Cheek stain in “Illusive” (I love using this on my cheeks, too!)

These lip colors make really sweet gifts for friends and family (I am gifting several of these this Christmas), but you also want to make sure you pick up 1 (or 2) for yourself!

P.S. - Great green beauty gifts for under $30 from one of my favorite non-toxic beauty retailers!
P.P.S - My Green Beauty cheat sheet if you’re interested in learning more about beauty brands I love and use!