Skeleton Bath Tub Craft

Skeleton Bath Tub CraftSkeleton bath easy Halloween decor diy craft

Even Mr. Skeleton needs to rest his tired bones after a long day of haunting! This craft is a cute and easy dollar store décor idea for your bathroom! I saw a similar picture online and threw this together fairly quickly, so I wanted to share this craft with you.

I used a cauldron we already had, but any bucket or tin will work, I actually saw small tins at the Dollar Tree in the gardening area that resembled old time bath tubs.

The skeletons can be found all around town close to Halloween, however, make sure its the correct size to fit in your “bathtub” I like the look of this one so that the upper body and feet poked out. I found this at Party City for $1.99, and it wasn’t even on sale!

For the “bath water” I used a Dollar tree pack of spider webs, and just plopped in on top of the skeleton, you could also use Christmas snow, if you have that around.

For the “bubbles”, I bought a box of empty glass Christmas ornaments, but afterwards I saw plastic versions at the Dollar Tree as well. I removed the metal hook part, and placed them around, open side down.

And Voila! There you have it. Easiest. Craft. Ever!


Pancake Puffs

I’m at it again with another semi-homemade recipe the whole family will love! This recipe was born after a weekend cooped up in the house following a ton of rain. You know the kind of weather where you get bored and you just want eat everything and start inventing new recipes with what you have on hand?

Anyhow it was breakfast and we had no milk and we had eggs but I kinda wanted something a little more fun for the kids (and me!) And so, pancake puffs were born!

Its kinda a mix between a mini muffin, a pancake and a cake ball.

As usual, this is hardly a recipe. I literally used an easy pancake mix…..the just add water kind and prepared as per the directions on the box. I added a teaspoon of vanilla, because, why not? Then I got out my mini muffin pan.

I gotta tell you….I have made so many fun things in this pan….its perfect for making mini cookie or brownie bowls that you can fill with fruit or cheese cake or ice cream, or even savory appetizers like spinach dip with puff pastry that were a hit at my book club. Everything is better bite size! If you don’t have one, get one, ASAP!

This is the exact one I have!
Then I scooped filling into the tin, leaving a bit of room.

And here is where the magic happens! You can add any toppings or fillings you like!

I made some with blueberries, a cinnamon and brown sugar mixture, coconut and walnuts, chocolate chips, and of course, rainbow sprinkles! I even made some with chocolate chips AND sprinkles!

The kids can easily help with this, but I chose to surprise them, hoping the wow factor would entice them to eat more! ( It worked!)

I cooked them at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, but ovens vary so I’d keep an eye on them since they are so tiny! They are finished when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I served with a ramekin of syrup I heated in the microwave for a couple of seconds to dunk in, but go figure, the kids preferred them plain!

Pancake Puffs


Any pancake mix

Desired toppings

Vanilla extract (Optional)


Prepare pancake mix according to box, spoon into mini muffin tin leaving room for toppings! I added a tsp of vanilla extract.

Top with desired toppings

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes . Check at 5

Done when toothpick inserted come out clean.

Pop out of pan and enjoy!

Serve with syrup to dip in if desired.

Super easy pancake puffs breakfast fast kid friendly fun family
Super easy pancake puffs breakfast fast kid friendly fun family


The BEST Money Making Apps

There’s only one thing I love more than money saving….and that’s money MAKING!!! The last THREE vacations we’ve been on were either partially financed or ALL of our spending money came from these EXACT apps. So I’ve complied my favorite list of money making apps that I use to supplement my income, and you can too!Carnival free money vacation excursion cruiseMexico free money vacation excursion cruise

1. Ibotta-This is SUPER easy to use, and I’ve made hundreds! Its basically like couponing only WAY easier! All you do it check out what’s available in store and online, and redeem the rebates by taking picture of your receipt via the app (and occasionally the bar codes of items).  There are tons of retailers like WalMart, Publix, WinnDixie, Amazon, Target, etc.  Rebates range from produce to Wine/Beer/Liquor (Mom win!), Often you will find new products that become completely FREE after rebate.  You can cash out to PayPal/Venmo, or various gift cards after $20, and if you click HERE to get started your earn and INSTANT $10 when you complete your first rebate! Ibotta proof make money vacations free

2. Shopkick-This works via a point system, and you can earn points simply by walking into stores! Points are redeemable for various gift cards including Disney, Starbucks, and Amazon, to name a few! You also earn via purchases, and scanning barcodes with your phone. Protip-Hand off your phone to your older kids to search for items in the store. Its like a fun scavenger hunt for them and you get to shop hassle free! Win-win! Sign up HERE  and earn an extra 250 kicks with your first walk-n or scan!

3.Myecon-While not technically an app, you can save the site as an “app” to your phone home screen so I’ve included in on this list. It lands solidly at number 3, while I was tempted to actually make it  number one because of its INSANE ability to generate large amounts of income!  Myecon is a personal financial services company and is A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau.There is a $47.90 membership fee,  but this INCLUDES a plethora of financial services, including their Smart Credit System credit repair (cheapest I’ve seen BY FAR!) Cash Flow Manager (budgeting software) a Debt Elimination Calculator, AND shopping and travel discounts.  So in my opinion, the cost is offset by the benefits and the HUGE earning potential. They pay referrals out up to $35 each, so as you can imagine, it adds up quickly. Sign up HERE, then Contact me on Facebook to get started, as I will provide you with a FREE step by step training to boost your referrals! (and not have to harass your friends and family!)

4.Dosh– Any easy to use app that operates by collecting shopping data. You DO have to link a credit card to this in order to earn cash, but they don’t charge it. You earn money by shopping at various retailers, and there is a $5 referral bonus for everyone you refer who also links their card. They run promotions and I’ve seen referral bonuses as high as $15! Cashes our to PayPal, or they offer the option to donate all or a portion of your earning to charity. Download here Dosh free make money apps vacation

5.AirBnB- If you’re not yet familiar with AirBnB, you’re either living under a rock or off the grid, and either way you’re TRULY missing out. AirBnB is a site/app where people list their homes for you to stay in. Some are shared rooms (similar to hostels) which are a great option for solo travelers, or you can rent a room or an entire home. Home can range from Tepees to Treehouse, or regular style homes, condos or apartments. They even have remodeled Airstream trailers! The true benefit of this is getting affordable accommodations without sacrificing style or comfort.  We stayed in a Tuscan villa style Mansion in Miami for cheaper than you can stay in a motel! Sign up HERE to get $40 off of your first trip of $75 or more.

Secret garden villa Airbnb free moneySecret garden villa Airbnb free money

Best money making apps free

Best money making apps


Romantic Miami Getaway

Miami Getaway

For our anniversary each year, we try to carve out some time alone, even if it’s just for a day away or a mini stay-cation. This year, we chose to venture down to Miami. I used to live in Miami-Dade County, and haven’t ever shown my husband around town so I planned a weekend getaway for just the two of us. It was just a short drive away, but it’s amazing what a time you can have as a tourist in a nearby city! Since I wanted to hit the top spots this was our itinerary:


Breakfast at Versailles


Versailles café is a staple in the Hispanic community of Miami. They have a walk up window as well as a full restaurant sit down option. News crews can often be found outside interviewing members of community, as this can become a gathering place of sorts. The walk up window can get very busy-so it’s best to go early, but even if you don’t, I can promise you-its worth the wait! They have a full bakery full of THE best Cuban confections; Cuban coffee and fresh baked Cuban bread. Since it was early and our day would include a lot of walking and standing, we chose to eat inside. I love everything so we ordered a little bit of it all! The extensive menu can be a bit daunting if you’re not familiar with the cuisine, but a go-to favorite is a ‘Cuban Breakfast’ which consists of Cuban bread that is butterred then toasted on a press, and Café con leche-a lovely mixture of espresso and warm milk.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens


Our next stop was this local relic. If you live nearby, or even if you are visiting the area, this is a must-see! Created in the 1900s as a millionaire’s vacation home, it is now registered as a National Historic Landmark. If you love history, you can quickly get your fill here. For a nominal fee you can pay for the audio tour, which comes with a small hand held device and can be used with our without the accompanying headphones, or you can bring your own. They also offer group guided tours with an in person guide. Each room is rich with actual artifacts and facts escribed on plaques, and it is absolutely breathtaking, and that’s just the inside! The gardens span for acres and acres and are amazing. There is even a pool and a Café you can purchase lunch ( and wine or beer!) from.

Wynwood Walls


Next on our tour was the Wynwood Walls. This location probably is one of the most instagrammed places in Miami. Its colorful walls make for instant art backdrops that instantly make anything art. What started out as one man’s mission to beautify the Warehouse district of Miami while highlighting the underappreciated beauty of traditional street art has absolutely exploded ! Wynwood walls now spans several blocks, and is full of trendy shop, restaurants, breweries, food trucks, and even a free indoor art gallery. The artists rotate frequently, so no two trips there are the same. Since its inception, it has transformed a once littlest known area in Miami to one of the trendiest hot spots. We meandered around, ate off of a food truck and took in all of the sights. This location can be family friendly during the day, but also boasts a popular night life.

Check into Villa

So in planning our adventure I looked for lodging in the area, I knew out ending spot would be homestead, as I had purchased a groupon deal for the Schnebly’s winery (see next) for that evening. Of course there are chain area hotels, but I found THE most amazing place on Airbnb.com. First of all, if you don’t already use AirBnb-you should! Since my discovery of this site, I have been able to procure us several listings that were not only budget friendly but in my opinion better than what was offered in way of hotels. Each host posts their listings and the dealings are handled via the site. Some are operated as traditional B&Bs, some like literal hotels, and some our actual rooms people rent out in their own homes where they currently reside. We have stayed at a Lake House, vacation rental townhouse and now an AMAZING villa. If you sign up via this link  you can get a $40 credit toward your first trip!

Ok so back to our Miami Trip. This Tuscan Villa was almost reminiscent of Vizcaya itself, albeit modern. It had a pool and a hot tub, gardens (Including a secret garden in the very back!) and tennis courts. With this listing, you have the FULL house and all amenities at your disposal. They rent the full house for wedding and events, or each room separately. We had our own private bathroom, but some of the rooms share. There were other guests there at the time of our stay or interaction was minimal. When we arrived, our host was there to greet us and even gave us a grand tour. There is a suite upstairs with a private bathroom, balcony, and secret spaces galore! Our room had a queen sized bed and a pull out couch, it was just the two of us but we could have easily fit our family of five! It opened directly onto the pool patio, which we utilized going in and out of the pool and hot tub. Probably the best part about this rental was the proximity to the winery- only about a mile away.

Schnebly’s Winery


This was our main event for the trip. I purchased a deal on Groupon but it is great to visit any time, night or day. While I love wineries, and wine, this place is very different. For starters, they don’t make their wine with grapes. It’s made out of farm fresh fruit that is grown locally in the Redlands farm area where the winery is located. Examples include starfruit, avocado, lychee, guava, and coconut! Their wines are like nothing else you have ever tasted. They offer tours, tasting, and even have live music on Saturdays and Sundays. The grounds are beautiful as well, with a waterfalls and Chickee hut viewable through the glass doors of the tasting room. There is also a restaurant and a brewery! The brewery and tap room/bar area has different nightly events and has pool tables, and cornhole games, and they also offer brewery tours and beer flights. You can walk back and forth between the two. For this trip, we mostly stayed on the winery side, but will definitely be back to check out the brewery side in more detail. This venue is also family friendly. Many families with children were present enjoying the live music. They allow you to bring your own food in, so we brought crackers, fruit and sliced pepperoni and salami and cheese to pair with the wine we purchased after our tasting. If you love their wine you can purchase bottles there to take home, but I’ve recently seen it for sale inside of our local Publix and Walmarts.


Robert is Here


After a quick breakfast on the patio facing the pool and gardens, we packed up and checked out. Our next stop was just a few miles from our Villa. We stopped at another local favorite-Robert is Here. As yes, I’m sure you’re wondering, Robert was there! What started out as a farm fresh fruit stand is now so much more! They have an Animal farm area where you can view and purchase feed for animals, such as Emus, tortoises, goats, various birds, and chickens roaming around. They also have a plethora of antique farm vehicles and planes. The stand itself offers fresh fruit and vegetables, coconut curious, flavored honeys with free samples available, and homemade sauces. They also offered fruit filled made-to -order smoothies and milkshakes. We got a mango/coconut/pineapple milkshake and it was amazing!

Historical downtown Homestead


The town of Homestead dates back to 1898 and is full of historical sites. On the city’s website, they offer a self-guided historical tour and printable guide which can be done by walking or by hopping aboard the free trolley. We drove to the downtown area and walked around. We attempted to go to the Historic Town Hall Museum, but it wasn’t open. The museum, which once housed the City Hall, Police Department and Fire Station, it’s on the local and national register of historic buildings. Check here for operating house so you don’t make the same mistake as us. http://townhallmuseum.org/ I’ve been before, and the photograph section is my favorite, although my husband was dying to get a close look at the antique fire truck they have on display.

After our museum fail, we headed home. It was a short getaway but so jam packed with activities, it almost felt we had been away much longer! What’s your favorite place to visit in Miami or South Florida? Currently taking ideas for next year’s adventure!

Craft, Crave, Love

Summer Storytime Series

My Storytime Series is designed to incite the love of reading in my kids (and yours too!)I love to do these special story times for the holidays as well, but summertime its extra important!

Have you heard of the Summer Slide? And no, it’s not a fun outdoor activity. It refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge children experience as a result of being out of school foe the summer. So this is my tactic to try and prevent that!

I also use a reading log to keep track of those books. My kids have to submit reading logs/read for homework so I always keep a running log, especially since the first few weeks of school can be so hectic so I figure why not get ahead? Click below to check out a FREE printable reading log, as well as printable book marks and book ideas by category courtesy of Carrie Ellie!

Free Pretty Printable Bookmarks

Free Printable Reading Log

I try to do a few stories that are related- I love a theme! And then a craft or snack that relates. My kids beg for this, and all of them will sit (mostly) quietly and listen if even for just a few minutes!

Three Little Pigs

Coming soon:

Spaghetti night!


Three Little Pigs

Summer story time books 3 three little pigsThree little pigs

So we’ve all heard the story of the 3 little pigs. For this series we read some different versions of the story and talked about perspective.

These are the books we read:

Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall
Summer Storytime series 3 little pigs

For the craft I downloaded this easy origami pig instructional, and since I have 3 kids it made a perfect 3 little pigs! Summer story time series 3 little pigs origamiI used pink construction paper, and precut the paper into square and cut out the tails and curled them. the tails weren’t in the origami model, but what’s a pig without a curly little tail? So I cut strips of construction paper into about 1 inch strips and curled them with scissors, like you would a ribbon and we glued them to the back. I also let the kids draw on their own faces with the marker. Summer Storytime series 3 little pigsSummer Storytime series 3 little pigs origami

Then, it was snack time! This 3 pigs snack mix was easy, kid friendly and delicious! My all-time favorite combo! I just used potato sticks for the straw, pretzel sticks for the sticks , and chocolate squares for bricks.Summer Storytime series 3 little pigs snack mix

To make it even more fun ( and for no arguing) I prefilled cups with each separate ingredient and put each in a brown paper bag and let them choose one, then they got to open it and pour their ingredient in the bigger mixing bowl then then I mixed in all together and gave each kid a cup full.Summer Storytime series 3 little pigs snack mixSummer Storytime series 3 little pigs snack mixSummer Storytime series 3 little pigs snack mix

You can even use this portion for re-telling the story “ What did the first little pig make his house out of?!” This helps with reading comprehension.Summer Storytime series 3 little pigs snack mix

My 3 little pigs!

My kids really enjoyed discussing what they thought really happened, and I reminded them that’s why it’s important to consider all sides of a story, not to make judgements of a situation, etc. I also asked each kid which book was their favorite and why. But all of that is optional. Feel free to just make it fun!

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Breakfast casserole

Egg-stra Easy Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast casseroleEasy breakfast casserole

This recipe was originally given to me by my sister, although now, neither of us is exactly certain of its original origin anymore.

This is an ideal casserole if you have a large family, or have company coming, but can be made smaller if you wish. It can be made ahead and kept in the fridge and popped in the oven in the morning. It’s great for brunch or breakfast for dinner! In fact, this is our traditional family Christmas morning breakfast now. I make it ahead the night before, and when the kids get up (it was close to 6 am last year!) I pop it in the oven and it’s ready by the time we are finished opening presents!

The first thing I will say about this recipe is that it is more of a guideline… .it can be made for 2 or 10 and you can use any meat you like or none! It works awesome with peppers and mushrooms, but I would pre-cook them before adding to the casserole, just as with the meat. It can be made with or without the cheese, so it’s really customizable to you and your family.

So the first thing you get is the desired size casserole dish. You can use a disposable metal one or a glass or metal one. For the purposes of this recipe, I used a 9x 13 pan.

Next you spray it with desired cooking spray, bottom and sides. This ensures that it can be easily removed in nice squares, but you can chose to scoop it out with a spoon as well.

Now cover the bottom of the casserole dish with frozen tater tots. Any brand. I’ve even used crispy crowns but it will be less ‘potatoey’ if that makes sense. The most important thing here is that they are in a single layer.Breakfast casseroleBreakfast casserole

Next, crack about 12-18 large eggs into a bowl and beat them. I add a splash of milk here and a bit of salt and pepper as well. You made need more, depending on the size of your casserole dish. If you choose to use cheese, I would mix in about ½ cup here as well.Breakfast casserole

Then, pour the beaten eggs over the tater tots. They key here is that you want the egg mixture to cover the tater tots. So if they are sticking out, you will need to add more beaten eggs to cover.Breakfast casseroleBreakfast casserole

Now, add any meat or vegetables, etc that you want. In this example I didn’t have much of either, so I cooked about 6 frozen sausage links and 4 strips of bacon and added then both. I usually use a whole package of bacon, precooked and crumbled. I left it whole this time, as there wasn’t a lot of it.Breakfast casserole

Now, top with remaining 1 cup of desired shredded cheese. Cover with foil and crimp down over sides so that it has a good seal. Bake at 375 for 1 hour, or until eggs are fully cooked and center no longer jiggles. You can also insert a toothpick into the center and it’s down when the toothpick is removed clean. If you check it, make sure to cover it back tightly.Breakfast casserole

Now I broil it, with the oven open so I can watch, until the top is a bit browned, but you can skip this step if you want it more ‘melty’ looking.Breakfast casseroleBreakfast casserole

Cut into wedges or scoop and enjoy! Caution-it will be hot!


About 12-18 eggs

I lb of desired meat, cooked and drained, or vegetables

About ½ bag of frozen tater tots

1 ½ cups of desired shredded cheese, divided


Splash of milk

Salt and pepper


Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 13×9 casserole dish with cooking spray. Cover bottom of casserole dish with single layer of frozen tater tots. Crack and beat 12 eggs in separate bowl. Add a splash of mil and salt and pepper if desired. If using cheese, add ½ cup into egg mixture and stir. Pour over tater tots to cover, adding more beaten eggs as needed until tater tots are covered. Top with meat or vegetables, then sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake covered for one hour. Casserole is done when the eggs are completed cook all the way through. If desired, broil for 2-3 minutes while watching to brown the top. Cut into squares or scoop with a large serving spoon to serve!

***To makes ahead prepare as above and cover and place in fridge overnight or until ready to bake.

Breakfast casserole


The BEST family friendly Resort in Orlando

Cocokey Orlando Resort and Water Park

If you’ll be in the Orlando area with your family anytime in the near future, you MUST stay at the CocoKey Orlando Resort. We stayed with our family of five this June for our annual family trip and have only good things to report.

Check-in and out was a breeze. They give you a property map and an activity listing at that time as well. Daily activities were arts and crafts and make and take (or eat activities), dive in movies, as well as appearances from Coco, the feathered mascot of the resort.

The room we booked was a double queen, but it was the most spacious once we’ve stayed in. It had a separate table with two chairs, an armchair with an ottoman and a pull over table as well as a bench and a vanity with a stool and a mirror! It came with the standard coffee machine, iron and ironing board, and blow dryer. Although not listed, so I’m not sure if they all have them, our room also included a mini refrigerator and microwave. It was clean and bright and had hot water and cold air conditioning!

Cocokey water park and hotel family friendly travel

The water park situated at one end of the property is a venue in its own right. In fact, you can purchase day passes to the park in case you happen to be staying somewhere else, or if you wanted to invite someone to come and play for the day. We stayed there from 11 am to 7 pm. The juxtaposition of the restaurant and Tiki Bar makes it so that you don’t have to leave. Towels are provided and plentiful, and the water is heated and clean. With 14 water slides, including two that are tube rides (single or double tubes) there is something fun for everyone! There is even a shallow pool under cover and mini slides a splash features perfect for smaller ones or anyone wishing to escape the sun. Any place that can keep all the of our kids, aged 2,6, and 11 busy all day gets an A+ in my book!

There are two restaurants, the Tradewinds which features a breakfast buffet and the Callaloo Grill. The breakfast buffet was well worth the price, and had eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, toast, biscuits, gravy, grits, make your own waffles (who doesn’t love that?!) and cold selections such as cereal, muffins, and fresh fruit. For beverages they had whole and chocolate milk, coffee and tea stations, and various juice blends.Coco key water park and hotel family friendly travel

The Callaloo Grill offers selections such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, popcorn shrimp, quesadillas, mozzarella sticks, wings, and personal pizzas which the kids loved! You order at a counter and they give you a buzzer, and when it goes off you pick it up at a window. They have indoor and outdoor seating, as well as many tables around the pools.

For pool side selections, there is the Wet Rooster Tiki Bar, which offers daily drink specials and also has an appetizer menu. I had a hurricane, even though the weather was lovely!

The hotel also boasts a fitness center and a business center with computers with internet access, and wifi is free in your room or to connect your devices for the length of your stay. There are also laundry facilities located near the pool area.

The kids also had a blast in the arcade which offers some games that earn tickets that can be redeemed for prizes or candy.

There is even a convenience store on the property that offers food and drinks, easily forgotten essentials, (swim diapers and sunscreen!) that double as a gift shop.

The hotel is located less than 10 miles from all major theme parks, and even offers a shuttle service to and from the parks. There are many restaurants nearby, but with all of the amenities, why leave? We were so glad that we carved out a day during our trip just stay and play. While we were there, they were hosting several large groups, such as a family reunion and church group which to me seemed like an awesome idea! They offer group rates for booking 10 or more rooms,and even welcome weddings and corporate events. We will definitely be planning a trip in the near future, and you should too!!Cocokey water park and hotel family friendly travel

Coco Key Hotel and WaterPark


7400 International Drive

Orlando, Florida 32819

Phone: 877-875-4681 | Local: 407-351-2626

Disclaimer: a small portions of the fees for our stay was paid for by the hotel

Top 10 Travel tips for Families

Top 10 Travel Tips for Families

Top 10 Travel essentials for Families

As has been our pattern the past 3 years, we are preparing for our up-coming Family vacation. We did Rapids Water Park (I was pregnant that year and so we couldn’t travel too far), and then Disney, which was actually two smaller trips. This year we are headed to SeaWorld! We have learned quite a few tips and tricks along the way, so I thought I’d share a few of our favorite essentials here.

1.Pop-up Hamper

I know this sounds lame, but this actually turned out to be a life saver, especially when traveling with our family of 5. It folded flat for traveling, and was nice to stash in the corner of the hotel room that way everyone knew where the dirty stuff went. IF you plan to do laundry on your trip it would be easy to lug to the washer, but to me it just helped avoid that game when you get home (What’s dirty? What’s clean? Now I have to wash everything!)You can even get them at the Dollar Tree!

2. Individual Rolling Suitcases
We invested in these this year, whereas previously we had used duffel bags. In years past we have packed two large bags (‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’) but that only works so long. Our kids our getting a bit older so it’s better for them each to have their own bags when they travel. Also each kid is MORE than happy to help roll their suitcase around.

3. Wipes

I can’t stress this one enough! Even if you have kids out of diapers, wipes are essential when traveling. For times when you are eating in the car, or the park, they can be used to wipe hands and faces, and you can use to wipe down surfaces in the hotel (Remotes, toilet seats).

4. First aid kit

Because you never know when can happen while traveling…..I plan on doing a more in-depth post of what I put in mine, but at the very least I say you can’t go wrong with band-aids and some triple antibiotic ointment, Tylenol/Motrin, tums, and soft ice packs. Soft ice packs are good for cooling off after a hot day, for headaches, and in case of sunburn.

5. Car activities
These can be super helpful for in car boredom, but can also keep kids busy in the hotels. There were times when traveling that I was getting a little one or myself ready, that it really helped having something simple on hand to occupy them. There is also an app of the ever famous license plate game.Its aptly named ‘Find the lisence Plate’ We resume our game every time we travel and we hope to one day get them all! Look out in Target’s dollar spot for cut little magnet game boxes that work perfectly for traveling. Also Dollar Tree always has coloring and activity books or notebooks and crayons and pens.

6. Food Caddies

I found these at the Dollar tree and I use them for lots of things! But they also happen to perfectly hold a drink and food all in one spot easily for little hands. Plus, the kids find them fun!

7. Themed toys

This is a budget friendly trick I have learned along the way. I sometimes prefer to purchase small themed toys or shirts prior to our trip to avoid the added cost. You can find lots of things on Amazon, or at Target or even the Dollar Tree! Our kids especially loved the mini character flashlights we bought, and they helped for nighttime bathroom trips in the unfamiliar environment of the hotel room.

8. Shout spray/ wipes
I keep this on hand at home and spray down stained shirts before I toss them in the laundry, but it’s especially essential while traveling-since it may be a while before you do laundry.

9. Gallon size Zip top bags.

I actually prefer these, with the slider top because I feel like they close more easily and effectively. These come in SO handy on a trip….for wet suits/clothes, and a dry change of clothes in the parks, for holding leftover food, for toiletry kits, for first aid items, to hold snacks, to make an ice pack, the list goes on and on! Some people even like to pre-pack with daily outfits (I wish I were that organized!) for each kid.

Click here for Amazon promo code

Hefty Slide top bags

10. Cooler

This one came in handy in the car, and the hotel room. We were able to keep cold drinks and snacks on hand (our kids love yogurts and cheese sticks) in the car and hotel room. Some hotel rooms will come with a fridge, but even those that do are often tiny. Most hotels, do however offer free ice via machines. We filled up our cooler and it came in handy for food/drink storage as well as to have ice on hand to make an ice pack, etc.

What are your essentials for family travels? New tips and tricks welcome!

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Patriotic punch 4th of July

Patriotic Punch

Patriotic Punch

With Memorial Day and then the 4th of July right around the corner, it’s great to have a cool refreshing drink on hand you can make easily. Here is South Florida, its already above 80 degrees most days! I love to whip up and easy drink and make it more fancy by adding a decorative element. This punch is a sparkling watermelon flavored beverage and can be made as a cocktail or a mocktail (no alcohol) for the kids, or anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol. Family friendly fun!

Family fun on the Fourth of July enjoying our Patriotic punch Cocktails and Mocktails!

Patriotic Punch

1 part juice (We love Ocean Spray Cranberry Mango or Cranberry Pineapple)

1 part Sparkling ICE brand strawberry watermelon

Lemon-lime soda

Optional-Vodka (1+ ounces)



Watermelon, sliced

Star cookie cutter



For the Garnish

Use a cookie cutter to cut out star shapes out of the watermelon. You can certainly cut up a whole watermelon, and serve what you don’t use, it won’t go to waste on a hot day! Or you can always buy pre-cut watermelon slices in the produce department. Thread blueberries on the top half of the skewers, leaving room for the stars. Top each skewer with a watermelon star. These can be premade and stored in the fridge/cooler.

For the cocktail/mocktail

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add the juice and Sparkling ICE drink. Add a splash ( or more) of lemon-lime soda. Add vodka if desired. Stir. Serve with a fruit skewer. I usually add a lime to the adult versions.

Hooray for the red white and blue!

Fun Fact: fruit skewers can be made of any combination of fruit, and work wonders as “magic wands” for a healthy party snack!

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