Life Lately

I can’t believe how long it has been since my last blog post. Last year it felt much easier to post consistently, but now that it seems things are getting a little more “back to normal” where we live, we have been so busy. I last blogged on March 30, sharing our potato painting project, but since then, this is what we have been up to.

We celebrated Easter! Our Easter last year was so weird, and we weren’t able to see family, but this year my grandparents were vaccinated so that we could spend Easter with them. Brooklyn loved dying Easter Eggs, searching for Easter Basket on Sunday morning, and having an Easter Egg hunt with her cousins. She also really loved the hot pink rain boots that the Easter Bunny brought for her, and in true two-year-old fashion she refused to take them off.

Brooklyn started going back to swim lessons. We haven’t been to swimming lessons since 2019, and it was great to get back in the pool finally. We are doing a Mommy & Me class at our local YMCA and go twice a week; she loves being in the water and learning how to swim. That being said, swimming really takes it out of you and once swim class is over we both want to take a nap.

We took a road trip to Houston to see family and celebrate our nephew’s 5th birthday! Although the drive is only about 2.5 hours, we decided to stay overnight. It was a nice little getaway that we weren’t expecting.

When we got home from Houston, we immediately drove to a local field (haha), where we took pictures in the Bluebonnets. Being from Texas, I feel like this is a right of passage. Everyone gets pictures in the Bluebonnets at least once in their life; I felt like Brooklyn needed to do it. I’m thankful that we live across the street from an amazing photographer and I can’t wait to get our pictures back.

Overall, life seems to get busier and busier, and I’m getting more tired each day. I went through a funk where I honestly didn’t feel like being on social media, but it’s starting to get better. I think sometimes Instagram can feel defeating, especially for a “creator.” There is so much time and effort that goes into some of my posts, and when I don’t get great feedback, I start to wonder why you are doing it in the first place. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by so many people who give me confidence and support (and I’m forever appreciative of that).

Hopefully, life will slow down a little bit in the next couple of weeks so that I can find time to share more. I hope you have a fabulous Friday!

Sending love and magic.

#SpringItOn At Gaylord Palms

This past weekend, Gaylord Palms Resort invited my family and me to stay at their hotel and experience their Once Upon A Spring Event. This event will get you in the mood for tulips and chocolate bunnies; between the cookie decorating, scavenger hunts, and water park, we had the best weekend ever!

Gaylord Palms is situated outside of Orlando in Kissimmee, Florida, and is located very close to Walt Disney World (seriously, minutes away). Gaylord Palms is large and opulent, but from the road, you can’t tell what’s waiting for you inside. The moment you step through their massive revolving front door, you feel like you are in another place altogether. Just past the lobby, you will find yourself in an expansive atrium full of plants and animals; it’s truly magical and the perfect vacation destination.

Gaylord follows Marriott’s Commitment to Clean Standards, and I found the hotel to be clean and safe. Masks are required by anyone two and older while outside of their hotel rooms, hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the resort, social distancing measures are in place, and we found hand sanitizer and wipes in our room.

We arrived on Friday and immediately wanted to explore. My husband has never been to a Gaylord Resort before, and I think I heard an audible gasp when he opened our balcony door. The gardens inside the atrium of Gaylord Palms are lush and feature four areas: Key West, St. Augustine, Emerald Plaza, and the Everglades. There is even a boat, a restaurant called MOOR, inside of the hotel! We stayed in St. Augustine and had the perfect view of the atrium and, at night, the Springtime Light Display (more on that later). 

My daughter was anxious to get a closer view of the atrium, so we headed downstairs to check it out.

During Once Upon A Spring, you will find the Eggspression Garden located in the middle of the atrium. This walkthrough experience full of oversized eggs and larger-than-life chocolate Easter Bunnies will get you in the mood for spring. Brooklyn loved this area, and we walked through it multiple times during our stay. We also participated in the Bunny Scavenger Hunt, which had us searching for Easter Bunnies throughout the resort! These activities helped give us a lay of the land and were a great way to kick off our trip.

As the evening turned into night, we put Brooklyn down for bed and headed out to our atrium facing balcony, where we were able to watch the Springtime Light Display. You can’t see the LED screens that hang from the St. Augustine Atrium ceiling during the day, but at night they come alive with flowers, bunnies, and all things spring. My husband and I really enjoyed sitting on our balcony and watching the lights. 

On Saturday morning, we decided to have breakfast at Villa De Flora.

This newly renovated restaurant offered a breakfast buffet (where your food is served to you) and an opportunity to dine with the Easter Bunny! During our breakfast, we met the King of Easter, who kept Brooklyn laughing throughout our meal. There was a large variety of food at the buffet, and everything we tried was excellent.

After breakfast, we headed straight to Cypress Springs Water Park, and it did NOT disappoint. Honestly, I could write an entire post about how wonderful the water park at Gaylord Palms is, but I’ll leave it at this; my husband and I both agreed it is a place we will definitely have to visit again.

While we were there, Crystal River Rapids opened, and we were some of the first to experience it! This not-so-lazy river is perfect for everyone in the family, and we had an absolute blast. When we finally got my daughter out of the river, she and my husband enjoyed the zero-entry pool, and I was able to enjoy a drink poolside. I also caught a glimpse of the Springtime Pool Party (during the weekend from 12-4pm), full of games, dancing, and prizes. 

The only way we could get Brooklyn away from the water park was with promises of Cookie Decorating. We changed into some dry closed and walked to Old Hickory, located in the Everglades (I think Everglades is my favorite section of the hotel!). Once we arrived, we decorated our own Easter Egg cookie, AND we got to meet the Easter Bunny.

After a quick afternoon nap (that water park wears you out), we enjoyed an evening production of Paint Me A Fairytale. This precious show is narrated by Mother Goose and tells the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, and Jack and the Beanstock and was the perfect way to end our Gaylord Palms stay. Once the production was over, Brooklyn was given a set of watercolors and a watercolor book depicting the show. This show runs daily during the weekend at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm and you can purchase tickets in advance. 

If you think that the Gaylord Palms is “just another hotel outside of Disney World,” you would be completely wrong! This resort is a destination within itself, and we had such a magical weekend experiencing everything that it has to offer. Between the whimsical springtime activities, delicious restaurants, and incredible water park, I am already trying to convince my husband that we need another trip back to Gaylord Palms soon.

You can enjoy Gaylord Palm’s Once Upon A Spring Event from now until May 16!

Sending love and magic.

Blizzard Beach – Reopening March 7

When Disney’s Blizzard Beach originally opened on April 1, 1995, it was the third and final Disney World Water Park. According to the “legend” of the park, after a freak snowstorm hit the Orlando area in the 1970s, a ski resort was built; as the snow melted away, we were left with a melted mess that became a water park. Blizzard Beach has been full of fun and families for the past 25 years, but in 2020, it closed due to the pandemic. Over the past year, Disney has put so much time and effort into bringing back its parks. I’m so excited to share that today, March 7, 2021, Blizzard Beach is reopening!

Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to check out Blizzard Beach before its reopening and I am so excited to share everything that I learned. Here’s what you need to know if you are heading to Disney’s Blizzard Beach!

From Summit Plummet to Tike’s Peak, there is truly something for everyone at Blizzard Beach. Because this water park is themed after a ski resort, you will notice that every waterslide and play area looks like you could find it in the mountains. One of my favorite attractions at Blizzard Beach is the ski lift that takes you to the top of the Mt. Gushmore.

If you are heading to the water parks with children, check out Tike’s Peak, a fantastic splash pad area for little ones. Also visit the Toboggan Racers and Runoff Rapid areas which are full of water slides that are fun for the whole family.

If you’re a thrill-seeker, make sure you check out Summit Plummet, one of the tallest and fastest free-fall body slides in the whole world! Ready to relax? Look no further than Melt-Away Bay and the lazy river, Cross Country Creek; both of these are fantastic options for a relaxing adventure.

Hungry or thirsty? Well, Blizzard Beach is the place for you. Between mini donuts and margaritas, you can find just about anything to snack on at Blizzard Beach. There are nine different spots to grab something to eat or drink and more snack options than you can imagine.

We sampled some of the delicious food and drinks that Blizzard Beach has to offer on our visit. We tried the White Cap Flatbread, Honey Butter Chicken Sandwich, and Plant-based Bratwurst. All three of these menu items were very yummy. The White Cap Flatbread is a delicious flatbread with chicken, bacon, bell peppers and tomatoes, and can be found at Lottawatta Lodge. The Honey Butter Chicken Sandwich (my husband’s favorite) from the Warming Hut is sweet and savory. I also noticed how many vegan and vegetarian options are on the Blizzard Beach menus, including the Plant-based Brat that we tried (and loved!).

If you’re looking for an extensive beverage menu (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), make sure to stop by the Polar Pub. This cute bar has the largest variety of drinks in the water park. We grabbed a Blue Blizzard Margarita and a Banana Cabana, which are perfect for drinking while relaxing on a beach chair.

There is also a Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea in the middle of Blizzard Beach. This is the best place to get an iced or hot coffee for an afternoon pick me up and some mini donuts!

Disney takes safety very seriously, and I think that’s become pretty apparent over the past year. Between temperature checks, face masks, limited capacity, and social distancing, going to Disney World during Covid truly feels safer than going to a grocery store. Blizzard Beach will be following these same protocols. There will be temperature checks before entering the water park, limited capacity inside the water park, and social distancing markers on the ground.

We noticed so many signs throughout the park, which make the rules very clear. The chairs and tables that you can find throughout the park spaced six feet apart with signs asking guests to keep them where they are. This means that even when relaxing or sunbathing, you will be distanced from other parties. The lazy river will also have limited capacity, and guests will be required to stay in a tube.

I, for one, have been curious about the mask policy that Blizzard Beach will have. When visiting last week, I asked Marilyn, one of the Walt Disney World Ambassadors, what the plan was for masks at Blizzard Beach. All Cast Members will be wearing face masks, and face masks will also be required for guests. Guests will not need a face mask when they are in the water or walking from one water attraction to the next.

Overall, I was so impressed with our visit to Blizzard Beach, and I am so excited that it is reopening. Everything felt safe, clean, and just as magical as before. It was truly an honor that Walt Disney World invited me to come check it out. I hope that you are able to make a trip to Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park soon.

Sending love and magic.

Epcot Holiday Cookie Stroll Cookies

If you have ever been to Taste of Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays at Walt Disney World, then you know how magical and fun it is. Last year my husband and I attended the festival for the first time, and it quickly became one of my favorite festivals that Epcot has to offer. A couple of weeks ago, we were able to attend again and try the Holiday Cookie Stroll for the first time, which is what I want to share with you today.

Epcot’s Holiday Cookie Stroll is a fun adventure through Epcot where you purchase five cookies in different countries, receive stamps for each cookie in your passport, and then redeem your passport a the end to get a free cookie. I enjoyed how leisurely it was, truly a stroll from country to country, and all of the yummy cookies.

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie, Canada – 9/10

The first cookie on our stop was the Peppermint Pinwheel Cookie from the Yukon Holiday Kitchen in Canada. This cookie is definitely one of the most festive! It is a red and white swirled peppermint shortbread cookies with red and green sprinkles on the outside. Although I am not the biggest fan of peppermint in my baked goods, I thought that this cookie wasn’t overly pepperminty (is that a word?). This cookie was a great way to kick off our Holiday Cookie Stroll.

Gingerbread Cookie, World Showplace Events Pavilion – 3/10

The second cookie we sampled was inside of the World Showplace Events Pavilion. To be honest, I wouldn’t say I like gingerbread all that much, but I had really high hopes for this cute cookie. This cookie is a traditional Gingerbread Man cookie complete with frosting buttons and a face, but it was not my favorite. I didn’t like how soft the cookie was, and I didn’t even finish eating it. I probably wouldn’t purchase this cookie again, but it was a fun part of the cookie stroll.

Black and White Cookie, Morocco and France – 5/10

We found our next cookie, the Black and White Cookie, between the France Pavilion and Morocco Pavilion. I had really high hopes for this cookie but was not blown away. You will see that this is a traditional black and white cookie that has a super sweet layer of vanilla and chocolate frosting. Overall, I found the cookie to be too sweet and not very memorable, and I ended up not finishing this cookie either. It wasn’t the worst cookie of the bunch, but it also wasn’t the best.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookie, The American Adventure – 10/10

The fourth cookie on our Holiday Cookie Stroll was the Chocolate Crinkle Cookie from The American Adventure. Wow, this cookie was SO good! This Chocolate Crinkle Cookie is a chewy chocolate cookie with powdered sugar on it; you can’t beat it. I loved everything about this cookie and almost considered getting a second one because it was that good. I want to try to find a way to make these yummy cookies at home.

Linzer Cookie, Germany – 8/10

The Linzer Cookie that you can find in the Germany Pavilion is a traditional Linzer sandwich cookie with raspberry filling. I have never been a raspberry fan, but I didn’t think that this cookie’s raspberry was too overpowering. By this time of the cookie stroll, I was over cookies but still managed to finish this one. It was the perfect cookie to end the stroll, and I would definitely purchase this cookie again.

Complimentary Minnie Peppermint Cookie, Showcase Plaza – 7/10

At this point, our passport was complete, and it was time for our free cookie. I stopped at the Showcase Plaza, where they directed me to the “Cookie Stroll Completer” Window, and I was presented with a Minnie Peppermint Cookie. This cookie is by far the cutest of the entire Cookie Stroll and, although you can purchase this cookie separately, it was much more fun to receive it as a “prize.” This cookie is a traditional sugar cookie with peppermint, and it is pretty good. My daughter loved this cookie and gobbled it down.

Overall, we enjoyed the Holiday Cookie Stroll at Taste of Epcot® International Festival of the Holidays and would absolutely do it again in the future. We loved strolling through the World Showcase, sampling fun cookies, and creating so many memories. I can’t wait to share more holiday fun from our trip, so stay tuned!

Sending love and magic.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

We seem to fill our December with holiday outings, trips, and adventures. So you can imagine how excited I was when SeaWorld San Antonio invited me out for a day to enjoy their park and experience their SeaWorld Christmas Celebration. This holiday celebration is one of Texas’s largest, and we had a magical time experiencing all that SeaWorld San Antonio had to offer.

SeaWorld San Antonio is an animal theme park located in San Antonio, Texas. At 250 acres, it is the largest of the SeaWorld Parks, the others being in Orlando and San Diego. This park has educational animal encounters, incredible rides, multiple shows, and a separate waterpark called Aquatica. As a child growing up in San Antonio, we often took trips to SeaWorld, and I am pretty sure SeaWorld was my first theme park experience.

Please note that SeaWorld San Antonio has many safety measures in place during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Guests two years old and older must wear face coverings while in the park, physical distancing measures are in place, hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the park and, upon arrival at SeaWorld, they will check your temperature. We also noticed that the rides were being wiped down and cleaned every hour, which was nice. All of these precautions made us feel safe during our trip to SeaWorld.

We had big plans to wake up early Sunday morning and spend the entire day at SeaWorld, but after my toddler woke up a little grumpy, we decided to wait to go until she had her afternoon nap. Luckily, SeaWorld was open until 9:00 pm, so I knew that we would have plenty of time to enjoy the park even if we arrived in the afternoon. My daughter napped until 3:00 pm, and as soon as she woke up, we were on our way.

Upon arrival at SeaWorld, our temperature was taken, and we headed off to enjoy ourselves. Our first stop was the Sesame Street Bay of Play, a child-friendly spot with smaller rides for kids and a huge playground area (currently closed due to Covid). In this area, you have the opportunity to meet your favorite Sesame Street characters, and my daughter was so excited to see Elmo (socially distanced, of course).

We also enjoyed Elmo’s Christmas Wish, a cute show starring Elmo, Cookie Monster, Rosita, Grover, and Zoe. My daughter probably would’ve been happy staying in the Bay of Play area all night, but there was more to see!

We continued through the park, where we saw cute Christmas photo spot setups based on the 1960’s classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This area seemed to draw a crowd (and I can see why!), so we moved through rather quickly. But, my daughter and husband were able to quickly grab a picture with Yukon Cornelius.

After a quick stop to check out the flamingos, we stumbled upon the Fireside S’mores area (which might’ve been my favorite part of our whole visit).

This area had live music, hot cocoa, and the chance to roast your s’mores! We purchased a s’more kit, and my husband and I had so much fun roasting our s’mores over the fire.

We also grabbed some hot chocolate in this area and a delicious shortbread Christmas Tree cookie for my daughter. The Fireside S’mores area is the perfect place to have a sweet snack and take a break!

Around this time, the Christmas lights started to come on, and we were getting excited. My mom came along with us, so my husband and I decided to quickly ride The Great White Roller Coaster and Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster before it got too dark. Both of these rides offer breathtaking views of the park, and I genuinely think they are some of the best roller coasters that I have ever been on.

After our rides, the Christmas lights were on so we snuggled my daughter in her stroller and headed off to look at the lights throughout the park. SeaWorld San Antonio’s Christmas Light Display is the largest in Texas and does not disappoint!

There were so many beautiful lights and areas to see; it felt so magical. I truly love that you can stroll through SeaWorld San Antonio and take it all in without feeling rushed.

Although we didn’t have time to do everything that we wanted to at SeaWorld San Antonio, we truly had a so much fun and cannot wait to come back. I was so pleased to see the safety precautions that they have made during Covid and even more excited to see all of the Christmas lights. I am so thankful that SeaWorld San Antonio invited us out to experience their park and give us the opportunity to create some wonderful memories as a family.

If you are looking for a wonderful way to create memories during the holiday season, look no further than SeaWorld San Antonio.

Sending love and magic.

Life Lately

These past few weeks have been so busy! I feel like I haven’t had a moment to sit down and catch my breath, let alone write a blog post. Halloween flew by, and then, between daily tasks and getting ready for the holidays, I haven’t had a break. I wanted to share today about what is going on in our life lately.

I swore that I would hold out on decorating for Christmas this year, but after Halloween was over, I changed my mind. I was so ready for the cheeriness of Christmas; I put up our Christmas Tree almost immediately. The funny thing is that when we bought our house two years ago, I walked in and knew exactly where I wanted the Christmas Tree to go, and now putting it up is something that I look forward to. Once the tree was up, the rest of the house had to be decorated as well. Although I’m not finished decorating, I’ll give you a glimpse of what our naked tree looked like. In a couple of weeks, I will do a full blog post on how our home is decorated for the holidays.

Speaking of Christmas, I have so busy preparing activities, recipes, and crafts for the upcoming holiday season! This year, my hope is to get my daughter her own small tree to decorate, and I plan to help her fill it with Christmas crafts. I plan to share all of these crafts on my blog and Instagram, and they will be full of Disney magic (of course).

In September, my family and I took a trip to Cinnamon Shore in Port Aransas, Texas, to celebrate my daughter’s 2nd birthday. While we were there, we unanimously decided that we needed to go back ASAP, so we booked another trip. This past weekend we were all able to go again and had a fantastic time. We stayed in the same home (Happy Kat Cottage II), rented golf carts, and even went fishing. On Saturday night, we had a bonfire set up on the beach for our family, and we were able to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. It was the best weekend, and of course, we are already talking about going back to Cinnamon Shore next year.

While we were at the beach, my family and I played a super fun game that was sent to me. The game is called Sketchy Tales: Disney Edition, and it would make the PERFECT Christmas gift this year! Sketchy Tales is like a Telephone and Pictionary combination and perfect for families (even if you’re terrible at drawing). You start by pulling a character card and an action card (Mickey Mouse and Kissing a Goldfish, for example). You draw what the cards say and then pass them to the next person who writes down what they think you drew, and they give it to the next person who then draws what they wrote down (and so on). Once the card gets back to the original artist, they get to decide which drawing was their favorite, and that player gets the point. You can purchase Sketchy Tales: Disney Edition at Target and on Amazon (I’ve included my affiliate link for Amazon, if you purchase through this link, I will receive a small commission).

Overall, these weeks have been busy but so much fun! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas activities (and social distancing) as we try to navigate to the end of the year. I have so much fun planned, and I hope that you stick around for it.

Sending love and magic.

Five Friday Favorites: Disney World Halloween Treats

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I made a quick trip to Disney World to experience all of the Fall Festivities that they currently have to offer. We were thrilled that, although Disney still has stringent safety measures in place, there is so much Halloween fun and magic to be found!

While on this trip to Disney World, we decided to try as many fun Halloween snacks that we could find. Today I am sharing our Five Favorite Disney World Halloween Treats.

Constance’s For Better or Worse Wedding Cake

Disney describes this treat as a “citrus-scented cake with raspberry Bavarian cream, glacage, and buttercream pearls with flowers topped with a chocolate axe.” Last year, you could find this treat at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and this year you can find it at Liberty Square Market in Magic Kingdom. The cake and raspberry Bavarian cream are very light and delicious, and I didn’t find it overly sweet. My husband and I enjoyed sharing this cake and found that it is super cute for fun pictures!

Frozen Apple Cider

I’ll be honest, I got this drink thinking that it wouldn’t be that great, but oh man, I couldn’t stop drinking it! We grabbed this Frozen Apple Cider during our lunch at Backlot Express at Hollywood Studios, but I’ve read that you can find it at other places across the park (and you can add alcohol to it!). It tastes like an apple cider slush, and it is topped with green boba pearls and the cutest poison apple glow cube. I was so surprised at how delicious it was and decided that it is the perfect drink to grab if you need to cool down while at Hollywood Studios.

Box of Bones Eclair

My husband has always been a big fan of eclairs, so when we saw this on the menu at Backlot Express in Hollywood Studios, we felt like we needed to try it. First of all, it is so cute; I love the little white chocolate bones sticking out of it. It is also SO good! It is different from a traditional eclair in that it is all chocolate, but very enjoyable. If you are a chocolate fan like me, I think that this treat is a must-try!

Pumpkin Mousse

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Le Petite Cafe at Disney’s Riviera Resort is the best coffee shop on Disney property! After a morning at Hollywood Studios, my husband and I took the Skyliner over to our favorite coffee shop to grab some coffee (and a treat, of course!). We decided to try the Pumpkin Mousse, and WOW, I am so happy that we did. This Pumpkin Mousse is incredible and almost tastes like pumpkin cheesecake or an airy pumpkin pie. This mousse is also one of the prettiest snacks I have ever seen at Disney (nearly too pretty to eat, but trust me, you’ll want to eat it).

Pumpkin Spiced Waffle Sundae

I have wanted to try this sundae for so long, and I’m glad that my husband agreed to wait in a 20-minute line to get one. It was amazing! You can find this Pumpkin Spiced Waffle Sundae at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Magic Kingdom (along with so many other amazing treats). The Pumpkin Spiced Mickey Waffles were warm and crispy, and they are topped with a vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkles. My husband and I have not stopped talking about this treat, and we are already scheming on how we can make it at home.

I’ve always been a lover of Disney snacks, and it was no surprise that these fall treats were all so fun and delicious! I’m not sure how long these will stick around, so if you are visiting Disney World soon, make sure to grab some of these before they are gone!

Sending love and magic.

Brooklyn’s 2nd Birthday

Although our plans for having a big 2nd birthday party this year might have changed, we still had to have a celebration (I mean, who do you think I am?). Cinnamon Shore was the perfect place to host a small birthday party, well actually two of them, and today I will share all the fun details.

Let me start by saying that, when I was a child, my mom made every holiday a big celebration. She would cook special meals, plan activities, and even get my brother and me special outfits. My whole life has been full of memorable moments, and I now strive to make those special moments for my daughter as well. So if I seem a little “extra”, you now know where it comes from.

When planning our trip, I told my husband and mom that I would be bringing along my Mickey Waffle Maker to make Mickey Waffles for a birthday breakfast. Well, my mom took this idea and ran with it. She decided that she would decorate and host a Mickey Mouse Birthday Breakfast for everyone, and it was the best way to start the day.

Party City came in clutch with some of the cutest Mickey Mouse birthday decorations ever! My mom brought balloons, a table cloth, Mickey plates and cups, Mickey party hats and a cute banner. With an upstairs open layout, our Cinnamon Shore Vacation Rental was perfect for a party. We decorated the kitchen and dining room the night before my daughter’s birthday so that when she woke up, it would be a complete surprise. She LOVED it!

For breakfast, I made Mickey Waffles using my favorite waffle mix ever, Golden Malted Waffle Mix. This mix makes crispy and delicious waffles, just like the ones you will find at Disney World. Even my niece, who “doesn’t like waffles,” claimed that this was the best breakfast she had ever had. Having a surprise birthday breakfast was the perfect way to start our day!

In the evening, my husband and I hosted a mermaid birthday dinner. When planning my daughter’s party, I wanted to do something beachy as a theme and I found the cutest mermaid birthday supplies from Target. We had so much fun “shell-abrating” my daughter turning two.

Our vacation rental home had a full kitchen, so at one point I considered cooking up a meal. In the end, I decided to make it easier on everyone and order pizza (and wings) from Dylan’s Coal Oven Pizza. This pizza place is located inside Cinnamon Shore, which means we could pick up the pizza in our golf cart, and the food is fantastic.

My friend Suzanne from Suzy Homebaker made us the PERFECT cookies for our party. I reached out to her and sent her a picture of the decor I bought, and she matched it perfectly. These cookies were not only cute but delicious! If you are in the San Antonio, Texas area and need cookies made for any occasion, reach out to Suzanne. I didn’t want our cake to outshine the cookies, so I ordered a white cake from HEB and picked it up on our way to the beach.

We ended our day by eating cookies and cake and opening presents. 2020 is a weird year, but our small, socially distanced birthday party was better than I could have imagined. We had so much fun celebrating at Cinnamon Shore, and I’m almost considering doing the same thing next year.

Sending love and magic.

Our Weekend at Cinnamon Shore

In June, with our Disney Anniversary Trip canceled, my husband and I searched high and low for a place that we could spend our sixth anniversary. Since it was the height of COVID, we wanted to find a home we could rent, within driving distance of where we live, and we didn’t want to feel like we were in Texas. We live near San Antonio, so I thought this would probably be impossible to find, but then we stumbled upon Cinnamon Shore.

Nestled on the Texas Gulf Coast, in Port Aransas, you will find a small beach community called Cinnamon Shore. Cinnamon Shore is a magical place full of family activities (like sandcastle building and movies on the lawn), shops, restaurants, swimming pools, and easy access to the beach. They offer different vacation homes that you can rent, for the weekend or a week, in many different sizes, one-bedroom to six. Although almost everything is within walking distance, there are also golf carts available for rental; you can park your car when you get there and forget about it. Our favorite part is that you no longer feel like you’re in Texas when you pull into Cinnamon Shore.

Initially, I was planning a big birthday party for my daughter. But, with COVID still around and social distancing measures in place, we decided to forgo a big party this year. After some brainstorming with my husband, we decided that the best place to celebrate her second birthday would be Cinnamon Shore. Cinnamon Shore is practicing social distancing, and masks are currently required while you’re inside their main office, shops, and restaurants (if you’re not actively eating), but it is still such a wonderful place to be. We invited my family to come along for our trip, and I think they loved Cinnamon Shore just as much.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and spent the next two and a half days experiencing all of the fun that Cinnamon Shore has to offer. Even though it was a weekend trip, we had enough time to experience it all and found that it is the perfect family destination and the perfect place to host a birthday.

Something neat about Cinnamon Shore is that you can rent a vacation home through Cinnamon Shore directly, even though each home is privately owned. We rented the house “Happy Kat Cottage II,” and it was absolutely perfect for our weekend trip. This house is a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and incredible views. Although Cinnamon Shore is a beach community on the Texas Coast, most houses do not face the beach, BUT there are many homes throughout the property that are on a lake. Happy Kat Cottage II is located on Lake Colby, and that, along with its huge porch, made for the best views day and night. We had six adults and three kids in our home, along with our puppy, and we had plenty of space to spread out.

I mentioned before that Cinnamon Shore has its own restaurants and shops. Dylan’s Coal Oven Pizza is one of our favorite places to eat while we were there (we ate their twice) and Coffee Waves has some of the best coffee ever! My husband and I enjoyed grabbing coffee from Coffee Waves first thing in the morning and then driving straight out to the beach in our golf cart to enjoy a view and coffee. On this trip we also ate at Lisabella’s, which I would consider Cinnamon Shore’s fine dining option. Although we ended up getting caught in the rain while eating outside at Lisabella’s, it was one of the best meals we have ever had. I can’t wait to go back and eat there again!

Along with Golf Carts, you can also rent beach chairs and fishing poles from Cinnamon Shore. The beach chairs are great because you literally don’t have to lift a finger! Every morning Cinnamon Shore sets out your beach chairs on the beach, and every evening they head out and pick them up. If you have a golf cart, you can drive right up to your chairs and park when you’re ready to enjoy the beach. It makes for a delightful beach day. My daughter loved building her first sandcastles on the beach.

We also rented fishing poles and a tackle box for some catch and release fishing in their lake on this trip. Fishing was a family favorite, and my niece and nephew have not stopped talking about it.

When we weren’t enjoying our vacation home, eating, riding in our golf cart, building sandcastles at the beach, or fishing, you could find us in one of the three swimming pools! Each pool at Cinnamon Shore has a different vibe. Kiera’s Pool has a bar and restaurant, so it was usually busy with lots of families, the Stillwater Pool is heated and quiet, and the Dune Pool (our favorite) is enormous and located right next to the playground. I love that the swimming pools at Cinnamon Shore feature shallow areas with fountains (almost like a splash pad) where my daughter could play. We spent hours and hours in the pool having so much fun, and there were tears when swim time was over, and it was time to head back to our house.

Overall, we had a fantastic weekend at Cinnamon Shore, and we made so many incredible memories. We are already planning on returning this fall and next summer because we enjoyed it so much. I have noticed that Vacation Rentals at Cinnamon Shore book up quickly, so make reservations as far in advance as possible. If you are looking for an incredible vacation destination on the Texas Gulf Coast, find yourself at Cinnamon Shore.

Tomorrow I will be sharing all of the details of my daughter’s birthday celebrations (yes, there were two) while we were at Cinnamon Shore, so stay tuned!

Sending love and magic.

Five Friday Favorites: Packing for Disney

Disney World is officially open, and so many people are starting to plan trips to the “Most Magical Place on Earth.” Today I wanted to share my five favorite things that I always make sure I bring to the parks.

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Backpack

Over the years, I have used a variety of different types of bags while at Disney World. What I have found is that although crossbody bags are adorable (and can make for fun pictures), they aren’t practical. I always bring a backpack so that I can stuff it to the brim if needed. I also like to bring a bag that is a gender-neutral color so that my husband can’t give me excuses for not carrying it.

Plastic Bags

Inside my backpack, you will find that everything is organized in it’s own plastic bag. Separating things into bags makes it easier when going through security, or if I need to find something quickly. I also bring a few extra plastic bags so that if it starts raining or we get wet on a ride, I have something to hold our wet clothes. There are so many uses for plastic bags; I feel like it’s always a good idea to bring some along!

Bandaids

Getting blisters on your feet seems to be pretty standard when you’re at Disney World; it’s so hot, and you’re walking so much that it’s inevitable. You can always stop at a first aid station for a free bandaid, or buy some at a gift shop, but I always to bring a big pack of bandaids with us in my bag.

Rain Jacket

We all know how much it rains in Florida and how common it is to find yourself in the middle of an afternoon downpour. For this reason, I always bring a couple of rain jackets. These packable rain jackets have been my favorites; the fold up so small to fit in a bag, but keep you dry when it’s raining. Even if the rain passes quickly, I feel it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

Phone Charger

Believe it or not, there was a time when you didn’t need to be on your phone while at Disney. But now, you have to use your phone for everything: mobile ordering, the My Disney Experience App, taking pictures, etc. I always make sure to have a fully charged portable charging block in my backpack. This charger is my favorite because you plug it directly into the wall to charge, and it has attached cables, so you don’t need to bring a phone cord.

Bonus: Extra Masks

If you are thinking of traveling in the next couple of months, I would also recommend bringing along a couple of extra face masks to put in your bag. As you know, Disney has stringent policies about wearing masks, so I think it’s a great idea to bring some extras!

I am so excited that Disney has opened its doors back up, and I am thankful for the regulations they have in place to help keep everyone healthy. I hope this list of items will help you pack for your next Disney World trip. If you have any additional ideas on what you should bring, please leave a comment below, I would love to hear them!

Sending love and magic.