9 Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

March 28, 2015 in Linen Closet

I’m not gonna lie. I hate cleaning. Really, really, really hate cleaning. But I do love having things clean and organized, and somebody’s got to do it.

Spring seemed like the perfect time to try to get a little more organized. It is called Spring Cleaning after all. We’ll call it a fresh start for the house and the homemaker.

I rounded up 9 cleaning and organizing tips and tricks to help me get started.


6 Tips for Organizing Closets • Mommy Envy

Household Cleaning Tips and Tricks • xo, lauren & jane

Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets • Stuffed Suitcase

The Cleaning Benefits of Vinegar – 7 Ways I Use Vinegar to Clean • A Vision to Remember

How to Clean a White Seat • Crafting in the Rain

How to Keep Your House Clean All Year Long • The Things I L♥ve Most

Stress Free Spring Cleaning • For What It’s Worth

Organization Tip: Tackling the Corded Mess Under Your Computer • Creations by Kara

Spring Cleaning Family Style • Organized Island


Here are a few more cleaning and organization tips you should take a look at!

My kids really struggle to keep their rooms clean. Oh, let’s be real here – so do I. This simple chart full of pictures helps my kiddos get the job done without getting overwhelmed by the mess in the room! I should make one for me.


Organize your kids’ school clothes like this and make your mornings run a lot smoother. No more mad dash to get out the door!


Do you have any great cleaning or organizing tips for me? I need some help!

Top 13 Tips for an Incredible Disneyland Vacation

March 23, 2015 in Out the Door

I have been to Disneyland more times than I can count – with a few Disney World trips thrown in there, too – and I love it! I have been with my family as a kid, with friends as a teenager, with my own kids as a parent, with huge groups of extended family, with a small group of mom friends running away from home for a few days, and with my husband as just the two of us.

So much Disney fun in one little photo

So much Disney fun in one little photo

When my brother and I were 11 and 12, my dad went on a business trip to Anaheim and took us with him. In the morning he handed us $100 and pointed us in the direction of the park, and we had an absolute blast just the two of us at Disneyland for a few days. Can you even imagine doing that with your kids today? Can you imagine doing it for $100?

I love Disneyland so much that when it came time to plan our honeymoon, Steve and I decided Disneyland would be our destination. It was his first visit ever… and he hated it. Don’t be fooled by the smile he plastered on for the camera. He really hated it. How could anyone hate Disneyland??? And how did I, of all people, end up marrying a Disneyland hater?


We were babies!

Fast forward about 7 years. Steve was coming home from a long deployment and we wanted to do something special as a family to celebrate being together again. Naturally I suggested Disneyland, and was surprised when he agreed. Yay! There is something magical about seeing Disneyland through the eyes of a child, and that magic changed how Steve saw Disneyland, too.

Now he gets just as excited about going to Disneyland as I do. In fact, the night before our trip in January, he woke up at 2 am because he was too excited to sleep. So we loaded up the car with luggage and sleeping children, and started driving a few hours earlier than we had planned and had that many more hours in the park when we got there!

We have become experts at doing Disney exactly the way we like, and it’s incredible. Here are a few tips for you to have an INCREDIBLE Disneyland vacation of your own.

Top 13 Tips for an INCREDIBLE Disneyland Vacation

1 – Get free tickets

Find your favorite rewards program and save up your points. We love the Disney Rewards Visa because it gives us Disney points that we use to buy our tickets. The first time we redeemed our points, we bought 6 Disneyland Annual Passports for only $100 out of pocket – the rest was with points. Six annual passes for $100!!!

You don’t have to choose free tickets as your reward. You can use your Disney Rewards for food or souvenirs in the parks, travel to and from the park, hotel rooms… or you can go with an entirely different rewards card. I love being rewarded for spending money we would have spent anyway!

2 – Location, location, location

Stay close to the park. There are so many great deals available at the hotels near Disneyland Resort, and the convenience of being right there is priceless! Our favorite place to stay is right across the street on Harbor Blvd. Every night when masses of crowds are being herded to the tram station, I am always ridiculously glad we’re walking the other way. By the time they finally make it back to their cars, I’m already in bed.


Completely exhausted after a day of fun… not waiting for a tram.


3 – Book EARLY

The earlier you can book your trip, the better deal you can find on your hotel. I learned how important this tip is that year we bought 6 Annual Passes for $100. In January we were talking about potential vacation dates. When we looked at hotel prices, I was amazed to find them much lower than I expected. We weren’t positive those dates would work, so we planned to book the hotel when we knew for sure. A few months later when we were finally making the reservations, the prices had gone up significantly and I was bummed we hadn’t reserved them earlier.

We have annual passes again this year, and I learned my lesson last time. We chose potential vacation dates early and reserved our rooms. The cancellation policy at our hotel lets us cancel without penalty as long as we do it before a certain date, so we plan to cancel any reservation we end up not being able to use. A few weeks after we made our reservations, the hotel increased their prices and it didn’t affect us at all. Yay! I love saving money.

We just had a big family reunion at Disneyland last week, and I booked the hotel months ago. A few weeks before the reunion, I looked at possibly changing our room and discovered the suites I booked several months ago would cost us $500 more if I booked them now. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your hotel if you can help it.


4 – Choose your dates WISELY

We have been to Disneyland at every time of year, and I definitely have my favorite times to go. Make sure you look at a planning calendar and know what you’re getting into.

Off-season has shorter hours, more ride closures, and less entertainment, but the crowds are smaller and the lines are shorter. Peak season has longer hours, less closed rides, and more entertainment, but the huge crowds can be suffocating and you can spend your whole day waiting in long, long lines.

You just have to decide what is more important to you and plan accordingly. I like to look at the annual pass blockout date calendars and avoid any day that is blocked out, and that helps us visit on the smaller crowd days that we like.

This is my kind of crowd!

This is my kind of crowd!

5 – Pack for success

My packing list probably includes a lot of things that others may not think to pack, but they’re important to me. For example, my over-developed sense of smell is my super power, so I always bring air freshener for the hotel. All those people sharing that small space and limited bathrooms? Ew. My favorites, Pure Citrus Orange and Febreeze, work better than anything else I have found — and believe me, I’ve looked.

Sunscreen, chapstick, and band-aids are a must, but the First Aid Center on Main Street is great if you end up needing something you didn’t bring like a band-aid or pain killer or even an ice pack. I don’t go anywhere without Ziploc bags. Ever. Definitely don’t forget your sunglasses like I did last time. Ouch. And remember it’s cool in the mornings and evenings in Anaheim, so bring a sweatshirt or light jacket.

6 – Tame the Laundry

I can deal with a lot of gross things as a mom, but dirty clothes totally gross me out. I don’t want to touch them, so I get a cheap pop-up clothes hamper and bring it to the hotel. Everyone knows where their dirty clothes belong and we don’t end up with stinky socks hanging from lamp shades and stuffed under beds.

When the hamper gets full, I dump all the clothes into a garbage bag, tie it off, and it’s ready to pack in the car for the drive home. I like to stock up on these hampers at Dollar Tree. When they don’t have them in the store, I have found I can order them online with free shipping to the store. You can also find them on Amazon for a few bucks.

7 – Eat at the hotel

We like to stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast in the morning, which is great, but when it comes to saving money on food we don’t stop there. Feeding my family one meal at Disneyland generally costs us anywhere from $60 to $100, and that’s not even at a table service restaurant.

So we save money by taking advantage of the fridge and microwave in our hotel room. We bring food from home and only eat one meal in the park every day.

We have a few favorite meals, like this Chicken Taco Pasta Salad, that are perfect for making at home and eating at the hotel. It’s nice to have something healthier than amusement park food, and we feel a lot better by the end of the week than if we had eaten more junk. It’s totally worth the pre-trip prep time when we have a nice homemade dinner at the touch of a button.

My kiddos are kind of obsessed with drinking their milk and juice through those lids.

My kiddos love the hotel breakfast, and they’re kind of obsessed with drinking their milk and juice through those hot beverage lids.

8 – Be a restaurant stalker

Spending your hard earned money on a meal and getting something that doesn’t resemble what you thought you were paying for does not make for a happy vacation. Even if you didn’t research food options before you left home, you can still find out what you’ll be getting before you spend your money.

Stand back for a bit and watch what the other guests’ trays look like. Knowing the portions are HUGE can help you save money by splitting meals. Seeing the size of the kids meal can help you decide which of your kids will actually get full and which might need something bigger.

You can also ask the cast members for advice – they’re very friendly and helpful. I like to know exactly what we’re ordering by the time we step up to the counter so we’re not holding up the line.

If you want to get even more serious about knowing what you’re getting and how much you’ll be paying, you can look at menus complete with prices for all the food in Disneyland, even the snack carts.

9 – Don’t lose track of time

Sometimes we start getting cranky and short with each other and I wonder why we can’t just get along. We’re at the Happiest Place on Earth for crying out loud! Then I look at my watch and realize it’s 3 pm and we haven’t had lunch yet. Yikes!

We snack throughout the day from our handy-dandy stroller, so no one is starving to death, but we’re definitely happier when we remember meal times. Of course, restaurant lines in the park are longest at peak meal times, so eat at little earlier or later if you can. Just be sure you don’t let hours and hours go by before you feed your hungry crew.

10 – Don’t be a pack mule

My kids are past the stroller stage of life. It’s totally awesome. But I freaked out a little in January when I realized we were going to Disneyland without a reason to push around a stroller. Where would we keep our snacks and water bottles? Was I going to have to lug around a giant backpack all day?

Who says you have to have a small kid to push around a stroller? I know it may sound nuts, but this was seriously the smartest thing we did on our last trip (after getting free tickets and booking our hotel early and eating at the hotel… oh, you get the idea).

We brought a cheap umbrella stroller from home and a great tote bag. We filled the bag with our snacks and water bottles, bandaids, extra sunscreen, and anything else we just couldn’t do without at the park and sat it in the stroller. Then we filled a backpack with sweatshirts for the chilly mornings and evenings and tossed that on there, too.

We hung our souvenir popcorn buckets from the handles – which we refilled in the hotel room with microwave popcorn we brought from home… Voila! Instant pack mule! Just park it with the rest of the strollers and you’ve got everything you need for a day at Disney without the heavy load.

She's adorable with her cute smile and ridiculous socks, but also this is what getting there early and going during the off season looks like. We're practically alone in the park!

She’s adorable with her cute smile and ridiculous socks. She was so excited to push the stroller like a big kid!

11 – Save on souvenirs

Souvenirs at the park are expensive. They just are. But it’s also fun to get something to remind you of your fabulous vacation or your favorite character. We give the kids gift cards for Christmas/birthdays when we have a trip planned, so they’ve got some money to spend. They know when that money is gone, so is their ability to buy stuff. They have learned about looking around and deciding exactly what they want to get so they’re not spending all their money on the first thing they see.

We also get discounts with our Disney credit card and annual pass, so we make sure to take advantage of those discounts.

We also love to save money by bringing some souvenirs with us from home. We find fun Disney shirts on sale or make our own to wear at the parks. We make crafty jewelry we can wear. We found these adorable Minnie ears on the birthday aisle at Walmart for less than $5. Basic Minnie headbands are $22 at the parks! Chuck wore these all around Disneyland and felt so cool – and I loved that we saved a bunch of money.

If you have young kids who love to dress up, definitely bring the dress-up clothes. We had a fabulous Cinderella dress that a 2-year-old Chuck wore around Disneyland and felt like a princess. And of course, she got treated like one, too.

12 – Get there early

You will be amazed at how much you can do in the first hour the park is open. We have been able to do ALL of Fantasyland or several E-ticket rides in that first hour just by getting there early. Also watch for early morning admission. Definitely take advantage of that time if your ticket comes with it.

When we met up with my brother after his early morning admission, he had already taken his kids on 10 rides and the park hadn’t even been open for an hour! Early morning admission is at California Adventure on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and at Disneyland on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. If your ticket doesn’t include that early morning, start in the other park for smaller crowds.

Another view of a cute Chuck pushing the stroller just to show what it looks like when you get there early and go during off-peak times. We're practically alone in the park!

Another view of a cute Chuck pushing the stroller just to show what it looks like when you get there early and go during less busy times. We’re practically alone in the park!

13 – Relax and enjoy

You will enjoy your Disneyland vacation a lot more if you can relax and be flexible. Don’t try to stick to a strict ride schedule or spend every moment from Rope Drop to the last store closing on Main Street in the park going full speed.

We are often on our way to a ride a kid has requested and see a short line at a ride we love and make a quick detour to ride it. We sit down and watch a show or go back to the hotel for lunch when we need a break. Even though we like to get there early, we let the kids sleep in when they need it.

Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and styles of vacationing, and we work together to make it an INCREDIBLE Disneyland vacation for everyone!

Do you have any INCREDIBLE Disneyland vacation tips to share?


Meal Planning Made Easy

March 14, 2014 in Kitchen, Linen Closet

printables-weekIt’s the final day of Free Printables Week! We will definitely have to do this again because I LOVE printables. Sweet little love notes and cute signs and tags are definitely on my list of faves.

Eating is another one. Definitely a fave.

I really love to cook, but even something you love can get tedious when it’s every day. every day. every day. many times every day. For some reason my family keeps expecting to find food on the table day after day. The nerve.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.

I think the hardest part of cooking for a family is deciding what to make every night. You want it to be healthy, something people will eat, not the same thing you just ate a few days ago, simple and quick to prepare….

My grandma solved the problem by having a weekly menu that never changed. Monday was chicken casserole. Tuesday was bean night. Wednesday was tacos. She didn’t mind cooking for her family of 10, but she didn’t want to have to figure out what to serve. So she assigned a meal to a day and served the same thing every week for years and years. My dad loved it and wished my mom would do the same thing. I’m glad she didn’t.

One time I decided I would simplify my life by making a 2-month menu. I printed out 2 blank month calendars and filled them full of dinner plans, leaving a few blank days for trying a new recipe or being lazy eating leftovers. I got all the way through two tasty months, but when it was time to start back at the beginning of my fabulous menu, I just couldn’t do it. Even after 2 months I felt like we had just eaten those meals and needed to try something new.

You just have to find a solution that works for you, right? Well, here’s what works for me.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.

Instead of repeating the same menu, I deal with menu planning by making it one of my weekly chores. Every Monday I plan our meals for the week, and every Tuesday I do the grocery shopping. I hang the menu on our family whiteboard so the family has an idea what to expect – although I admit it we don’t always stick to the plan – at least they have a clue as to what they can expect to see on the table.

I print these out every week, so they don’t have a lot of colors or extra frills. They’re just basic and straightforward. First, the menu planner.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.Simple, eh? I write in the dates at the top and down the side under the days of the week. And then it’s time to go to town. I gather cookbooks and and click around on Pinterest and my favorite blogs to fill in the meals.

I confess, quite a few of those boxes are filled with “self serve” – especially on the weekends. At least they know to expect to fend for themselves, right?

Sometimes we have theme nights or try to plan our meals around a holiday. One summer we assigned a land of Disneyland to each week and ate meals we might find there. It was our “we can’t go to Disneyland this summer and we’re having Disney withdrawals” summer. Some weeks we eat a lot of scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches, but we almost always manage to get dinner on the table.

I’m old school, so I print it out and fill it in with pencil – always with pencil because I move things around a lot before the final version is complete. I always make sure to make a note of where the recipe came from so I know where to find it when it’s time to cook.

While I have the recipes in front of me, I pull out the grocery list page and fill it in as I go.

Meal planning will be so much easier with this #printable menu planner and grocery list. I won't have to run to the store every night.

The unmarked section is for another store I need to visit that week. Lately that means Costco. We keep a running list on the board where everyone is supposed to write down what we’re out of when they used the last of it, so I pull list out to finish up the grocery list,and then I’m ready to shop.

When I first started meal planning, I would just plan dinners. I bought food for breakfast and lunch, but it wasn’t planned and we ended up buying more than we needed and wasting food. When I decided to add breakfast, lunch, and after-school snacks to the weekly menu, I thought we would spend more money. I was planning more meals, after all. But I was surprised – and happy – when we actually spent LESS. When I planned all of our meals and shopped with a list, I ended up only buying what we actually needed that week, which ended up saving us money. We waste a lot less food now, too!

I still have to cook every day – until my family decides they’re okay not eating for awhile – but it makes my life easier when I only have to spend one day coming up with the fabulous ideas of what to feed them. You can get your own menu planner and grocery list when you click on the images to get to the download page. Or here • menu plannergrocery list.

How do you handle meal planning at your house?

My First Blog Conference – Lessons Learned

February 11, 2014 in Office

I am seriously considering a career change. I want to live the life of a blog conference junkie. Is that a thing? Build Your Blog Conference 2014 was so much fun! I just want to travel the world attending conferences and meeting amazing bloggers from everywhere!

I would also love a chance to relive some of my favorite moments and try to do a few things better. Because I want my next conference to be even BETTER, I made a list of some lessons I learned at my first blog conference.

13 ways to ROCK your first blog conference from fortyeighteen.com

#1: Dress for comfort. I’m not talking sweats or yoga pants, although if that’s what you want to wear – go for it! You can dress up or go casual, but either way make sure you are comfortable in what you’re wearing. You don’t want to be adjusting and stressing about your outfit all day. And for the love of all chocolate, wear comfortable shoes.

13 ways to ROCK your first blog conference from fortyeighteen.com

#2: Don’t be shy! One of the main reasons you attend a conference is to network. This is not the time to be a wall flower. Say hello, reach out, ask questions and really get to know people. The friends you make will be your blogger network and your support group. And you never know when you will make a lifelong friend.

#3: You don’t need a bajillion media kits or a thousand business cards. Definitely bring business cards and media kits, but don’t overdo it. Even if 1,000 bloggers will be attending your conference, you won’t be able to meet all of them. There’s only so much time in a day, after all.

#4: Write notes on the business cards you collect. Include reminders of how and when you met or something to help you remember the blogger later. You will leave with MANY cards, and you will want reminders to help you follow up later.

13 ways to ROCK your first blog conference from fortyeighteen.com

#5: Stay on the property! Even if you’re local, take advantage of any hotel discounts being offered and stay in the middle of the action. Totally worth every penny! No worries about weather, driving conditions, driving time, or trying to leave the kids again in the morning. Not to mention the convenience of walking downstairs to the workshops and extra time you get to play with your roommates and new friends! You can ask for roommates if you want to split the cost (or just have more fun). If the rooms are all full, you shouldn’t have any problem finding someone willing to take you on as a roommate.

13 ways to ROCK your first blog conference from fortyeighteen.com

#6: Take advantage of local discounts, offers, and any extras offered through your conference. We got to enjoy fabulous waffles for breakfast, fresh from the Waffle Love truck that parked right outside the hotel just for us. We had special shopping discounts at the local mall. A group of us were able to have a free dinner at an amazing restaurant provided by one of the sponsors. Indulge and enjoy any extras that are part of your conference.

#7: Unless you’re going to a hands-on photography workshop, don’t bother with the big fancy camera. Between the swag bag (or two), snacks, notes, business cards, media kits, and everything else, you already have enough to carry around. You know you will be attached to your phone, (aren’t we all?) so be best friends with your phone’s camera. Speaking of cameras…

#8: Take a million pictures. I know, I know. What kind of a blogger has to be told to take photos of everything? Apparently me. I was shocked to get home and discover I hardly had any pictures! That is definitely one thing I would change if I could do it over.

#9: Choose the right bag. I brought a backpack. I regretted it the ENTIRE weekend. Too bulky, too awkward, and too inconvenient. Make a better choice than I did. Next time I think a cross body messenger bag will be perfect for me.

13 ways to ROCK your first blog conference from fortyeighteen.com

#10: You don’t need to pack so many snacks. Seriously. This one is for me. After the ah.maz.ing dinner (it was so dark in the restaurant that I couldn’t get a good photo on my camera, but trust me, it was way more amazing than it looks), fabulous breakfast, big lunch, snacks in the swag bag, and treats offered by just about every sponsor, I didn’t even touch my snacks until the very last afternoon when I had a few almonds and a bit of chocolate. I basically added extra weight to my load for nothing. I’m sure I will still pack a few snacks next time, but I will keep it small.

#11: Set goals. What do you want to get out of the conference? Why are you here? Make some goals and then focus on them throughout the conference.

13 ways to ROCK your first blog conference from fortyeighteen.com

#12: You will be overwhelmed. You will. It’s ok. In fact, it’s totally normal. You just learned a TON of stuff in just a little time! Don’t stress about it. Just choose one new thing and implement it. Then add another when you’re ready. Don’t try to do it ALL at once. Just choose something and do it.

#13: Relax and have fun! No need to stress or worry. You will have a great experience, so be sure to enjoy it while it happens because it will be over before you know it!

Have you been to a blog conference? What did you learn? What advice would you give to a first-timer?

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