Disney World Secrets & Tips

We are heading to Florida in less than 4 days & I am bursting with excitement!! I have spent the last 2 nights pouring over Pinterest & scouring the internet for the best secrets, tips, etc. related to Disney World. I have come up with quite a book full. You may see my Pinterest board where I’ve rounded up all these tips or simply take a look below at what I considered essential, significant, important, or plain interesting. I hope this helps some other families whom are Disney bound this summer. Also, please share any of your own tried & true pointers!

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DISNEYWORLD

TIME-SAVERS 

Head to the back of the park. When you first arrive at the park, go straight to the back. Most people will start with the first ride they see.

Get your fast passes early on in the day!

Think left. It is most people’s inclinations to go to the right side first, so if you see two lines for a ride, hop in the left one to shave off a little waiting time. If you’re going around World Showcase or the Magic Kingdom, start on the left side going counter-clockwise.

Get in line right before the parades. About an hour before most parades start, people will put a halt on their attraction and ride plans to score a front row parade spot. If you don’t care about getting a primo spot (or about seeing the parade at all), use this time to get in line for big rides.

Shop on your way out. When the park closes, they shut down the rides, but they don’t actually kick you out of the park or close the stores. So spend your valuable time on rides when they’re running, and shop as you make your way to the gates.

GTK 

Chewing gum is not sold anywhere on Walt Disney World property. Plan accordingly.

If you are a veteran ask at City Hall (Magic Kingdom) first thing in the morning if you can participate in the evening Flag Retreat.

If you eat a meal in a park or hotel that you really enjoy, you can ask for the recipe!!!!  {It may be in bulk when you receive it though!}

When riding the ferry boat or the monorail ask the Cast Members if they have any trading cards – they sometimes give them out and there are lots to collect.

CHARACTERS 

You can enter the Animation Building in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for some of the best character meet & greets in Walt Disney World by going through the Art of Disney store (skipping the Animation Academy attraction). Likewise, you can experience Turtle Talk with Crush without doing the Nemo dark ride by entering The Seas pavilion through the gift shop at the exit.

Animal Kingdom – Camp Minnie Micky has a variety of characters in safari gear.

Epcot – find all the original characters in an air conditioned waiting area.

Hollywood Studios – Look in the art of animation for character greetings and at Pixar Place for Woody and Buzz.  The Cars are available for pics but are not animated and don’t sign books.  Phineas and Ferb are right next to them and do a cute little show with the kids waiting in line.

Magic Kingdom – the classic Mickey and a selection of princesses are located in the Town Square as soon as you enter the park, all the way to the right. Storybook Circus now has Minnie, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and Ariel is in the new Fantasyland.

Character meet & greet lines are typically shortest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and typically longest in the Magic Kingdom.

WHERE TO BUY 

Buying pins from Amazon or eBay to trade with Cast Members is the difference between spending $1 per pin and $8-10 per pin.

Disney’s Character Warehouse is an outlet carried heavily discounted and discontinued Disney merchandise. They have two locations off property, on I-Drive near Universal Orlando and on Vineland near Downtown Disney.  The Vineland location is larger and closer to Walt Disney World.

FREE STUFF 

If you are celebrating a special occasion, make sure to pin up a button reflecting the celebration at your resort hotel …

DIY Mini Flocked Pinecone Trees

I’m a wait till after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas/respect all the holidays kinda girl. While I’ve shared a few Christmas posts I haven’t actually decorated the house yet. However, I have a major problem.

My welcoming fall porch that was full of mums & pumpkins has finally turned on me. The pumpkins are finally rotting & the mums have been left out to freeze one too may times.

So now I must make a terribly hard decision. I cannot leave the dead stuff out front to greet my Thanksgiving guests & I can’t have a boring, empty porch either. So what to do folks?

I have to give in. To Christmas. But ONLY on the porch!

My first project for the porch are these charming flocked trees!

So the story goes…I saw these fab mini flocked pinecone trees at Hobby Lobby. I looooved them & thought they would be perfect on my Christmas porch. I did not love the price, $40. I thought surely I could whip up something myself for at least half the cost or less. Plus their’s were a little on the small side & I wanted something a bit larger.

I gathered all my supplies: Mini trees (Home Depot)

  Faux snow spray (Home Depot)

Red spray paint (Home Depot)

Burlap ribbons (Walmart)

Plastic pots (Walmart)

Gold ornaments (Dollar Tree)

Mini pinecones (I got mine from the thrift store, but they’re everywhere right now too!)

I’m happy to report that I made 2 bigger trees with the addition of pretty bows for less than the price of 1 at Hobby Lobby.

First step- Paint the pots a cheery Christmas red & let them dry.

Step 2- Hot glue the pinecones onto the tree branches

Step 3- Spray then with magical snow! You’ll want to do this step outside. It dries pretty much instantaneously but can get messy. Just sweep it off the concrete.

     

Now it’s time to put it all together. My favorite part of a project!

Step 4- Place trees in pots, use a filler (like plastic bags) if necessary. Cut strips of burlap to fill in around bottom of pot & slide under tree. Add shiny, plastic ornaments on top to help hold things in place. Hot glue if desired.

Step 5- Tie a big, pretty, red, burlap bow on top! Woah, that was a lot of adjectives. Be careful beause the wired burlap ribbon will go straight into your finger & I’m speaking from experience here ya’ll.

Have fun making your own little trees! This would such a fun project for the kids to help with too. Who wouldn’t love playing in faux snow?

Blessings Y’all,

Cathryne…

My Wedding Inspiration! [Navy & Gold]

Did anybody’s ears perk up when I mentioned a wedding the other day?! Well I’m bursting with creative excitement & thought I’d share some of my favorite inspiration so far. That way we can all be on the same page! I plan to journal all of my wedding goodness on here if you care to keep up & I’m instagramming #mealeywedding.

My style is rustic glam & I’d like to go for a “The Stars at Night are Big & Bright/Deep in the Heart of Texas” theme using navy & gold as my main colors along with some burlap, lace, silver, & maybe a hint or two of peach.  Our venue is a relative’s home in the Texas hill country right beside a lake. A green canyon will serve as a gorgeous backdrop for the ceremony & then we’ll dance under the stars. Doesn’t it sound dreamy already?

My biggest inspiration has been the cover wedding from Southern Weddings v6. I’m completely head over heels with their magazine in the first place. I’ve been collecting wedding magazines for 10 years y’all so I know a good one when I see it.

Here’s some of the photos of it from the southern wedding blog…

I love the calligraphy on the banners & the centerpieces. I’ve been collecting tons of old gold, brass, & silver pieces just like those. All kinds of bowls, vases, & candlesticks.

See the whole post here over at the Southern Weddings site.

I found this lovely navy & gold inspiration board over at the wedding bee.

The colors are perfect & I love the gold keys. We’ve already ordered the cakes & I chose a naked one somewhat similar to the one in the photo. The -I love you more than all the stars- print would go perfectly with the theme too!

I stumbled across a wedding on Pinterest from Mr. B Paisley & Me that is almost exactly what I’m wanting!

That first photo is what caught my attention- navy, gold, burlap, silver, white flowers. All the things I love for a wedding. Plus more of the calligraphy banners & I love the idea of corn hole & other backyard games.

Then there’s these flowers I found via Pinterest from B.Loved Blog.

Honestly I’ve been planning all white flowers with some soft peachy creams mixed in. But I’ve completely fallen in love with these flowers! Not sure what I’ll decide on in the end. I’m planning to DIY the flowers & ordering tons of them from Sam’s for assembly.

That’s all I have to share for now folks. Have any advice?? I’m all ears!

Blessings Y’all,…

Elf on the Shelf Ideas!

I cannot wait to have kids at Christmas & do Elf on the Shelf with them! I think I’d have much more fun with it than they would. I pin all my favorites to a board on Pinterest for safe-keeping. I’ve found quite a few collections & wanted to gather them all in one spot for sharing & ogling over. So here you go!

26 Ideas from Pretty Providence

51 Ideas from Mommy Savers

25 Ideas from Over the Big Moon

75 Ideas from Skinny Mom

50 Ideas from I Heart Nap Time

25 Ideas from Simple as That

10 Marshmallow Ideas from Bombshell Bling

Check out more of my favorite elf on the shelf ideas on my Pinterest board.…

Black Friday Planning Sheet

Now I know everyone has opinions on this. There’s lovers & there’s haters. But first let me give you a little background on how Black Friday came about in my life…

When I was a kid my Nana & Papa would let me & sometimes my brother or cousin tag a long with them to catch some of the Black Friday sales. We thought it was fun & it was a special time for us with our grandparents. Fats forward about 15 years & here we are where Black Friday has transformed into something completely different. While I must say stores opening up on Thanksgiving Day & taking people away from their families in order to work with all the crazies is so heart breaking. I’m totally against stores opening up during the day. I worked retail one Black Friday & it was utterly terrifying. The fact that people will be missing from my Thanksgiving table because of work is so upsetting to me. Yet, I will still be participating in Black Friday shopping this year for a few reasons.

  1. Tradition. It’s in my blood. It’s what I was raised to do.
  2. Bonding time with my Nana. The last 4 years as I came home from college over Thanksgiving I looked forward to Black Friday because I knew it would be a memorable night with her. She can literally shop till she drops. Except she doesn’t drop. Ever. A couple years ago we did an all nighter on Black Friday. Never doing that again. I was dragging way behind. I couldn’t take it. She was up & running. It was crazy.
  3. I cannot stay away from a good deal. That’s in my blood too. I’ve been taught about a good bargain. Both my grandmas & my mom are phenomenal at finding great deals. I have all their power harnessed in me. #cantstopwontstop
  4. It’s plain fun. That might sound absolutely absurd to most of you, but it is. Think of all the people-watching, only crazy people are out that night. It’s like the all-time peak of people watching.  Plus you get to meet all kinds of new people in line.
  5. It’s over with. The goal is to get all the major shopping done so you can avoid the crowds for the rest of the holiday season & sit at home in front of the fire drinking hot chocolate watching sappy Christmas movies. Now doesn’t that sound just lovely?

I know some of you are all into the online shopping for Black Friday & I need your tips! I’ve never tried that & it may be something to look into. I know there might not be times when I can go Black Friday shopping, but for now I’m enjoying it to the fullest.

All that to say…I’ve put together a planning sheet just for Black Friday! I looked around for something like & not one thing popped up on Google. So I made my own & I’m sharing it with you for free! It can be hard to keep up with all the different store times & priority items etc. So I’ve made an easy printable for you to keep all the important info on one sheet.

You can download/print from the link here–>Black Friday Planning Table

Or right click/save as from below.

The printables pretty self explanatory.

If you want to get real fancy/organized, grab a folder! Punch holes in your planning sheet & slide pipe cleaners, ribbon, or string through the holes of the folder & paper to secure it together.

Use the front pocket to wrangle up all your ads.

Then use the back pocket to hold any coupons you find or Christmas lists from the kiddos!

I cut a pipe cleaner into thirds & twisted them after wrapping though the holes. I used shiny gold stickers to spell out Black Friday. I’m getting pretty excited!

My favorite places to hit up are definitely Bass Pro (read about that experience here) & Target. Last favorite? Would have to be Walmart!

What about you? Do you brave the crazy crowds or sleep warm in your bed full of turkey?

Enjoy the printable! Hope it helps you stay organized!

Blessings Y’all…

Mini Fall Wreath

Today I’m sharing this adorable mini wreath perfect for fall. It makes for a fun, after-dinner project. It’s my back-door wreath, cause every door is deserving of a wreath right? & Because I can’t stop decorating.

I got all the supplies for super cheap too!

That fox ribbon is too darn cute to pass up. I tell ya people.

These fall ribbons were a dollar each at Walmart, they have plenty of other options too. Just be warned, they are not silk ribbons. They’re paper; but serve their purpose with pride nonetheless.

I started with this wreath, which is adorable on it’s own. I just can’t leave anything as is around here. Only three bucks in the dollar spot at Target.

I attached an extra flower to the original bunch with some hot glue. I got the flower at Michaels. It matches my front-door wreath.

I wanted my wreath to have a tail. So I hot glued a long piece of brown burlap around what I wanted to be the bottom of the wreath.

You have to cut it all pretty too!

Next I cute my ribbons all a few inches longer than the brown burlap.

Attach them on the backside with hot glue, spacing evenly apart. Continue until you’ve attached them all.

Then add hot glue where needed to hold them down on the front & trim the ends to match the burlap.

Ta-da! Already done!

Ready to hang wherever you’ d like. I used one of those suction hooks for the bathroom to hang it up on the window part of the back-door. Works perfectly.

Fire up your hot glue guns ladies!

Make sure you didn’t miss my other fall wreath over here!

Blessings y’all,

Cathryne…

Valentine’s Day Wreath

Valentine’s Day is a little less than a month away. I like decorating for Valentine’s Day because it gives me an excuse to do things extra girly without too many complaints. Like put pink & a big heart on the front door wreath!

Here’s what I did!

I bought a HUGE wire wreath frame at Hobby Lobby & used the extra wide burlap ribbon- I believe it’s 8″ to make a giant bubble wreath. Here’s my favorite tutorial for this.

Then I added the pink chevron ribbon with floral wire, attaching it at every intersection. I made a big white bow & tacked that on with floral wire too. Here’s a good tutorial for the bow.

I finished it off with a wooden heart I grabbed in the one spot at Target. I also found some silver, chipboard letters in the one spot. I glued them on with some quick dry glue.

I hung the sign up right behind the wreath.

I love it! Do you do a Valentine’s Day wreath?

Blessings Y’all,…

My Holiday Wreath Inspiration

     With the holidays quickly approaching (it’s only 65 days till Christmas!) it’s time to start brainstorming for new wreath ideas. As I was doing just that on pinterest, I came across several adorable wreaths. I found front-door-worthy wreaths for every season, not just the upcoming winter. I thought you’d like them too. So here’s 12 wreaths for the year, a new one for every month! Be sure & tell me which you like best! 

    

January- White Pinecone Wreath

February- Love Is All You Need Wreath

March- Burlap Rosette Wreath

April- Pastel Ribbons & Tulle Wreath

May- Ruffle Wreath

June- Pinwheel Wreath

July- Roses Are Red Wreath

August- Burlap Sunflower Wreath

September- Cut Disk Wreath

October- Halloween Tulle Wreath

November- Apple Cider Wreath

December- Vintage Bulbs Wreath

     Hope you found some inspiration here too! Happy Brainstorming  

Need more? Be sure to follow my wreath board on Pinterest, For the Door!

15 Halloween Desserts (That Aren’t Pumpkin-Flavored)

I don’t like pumpkin very much. I so wish I did so I could fully enjoy the captivating flavor of fall everyone else seems so in love with. I’m rather sad about it actually.

To cheer my self up, I found loads of Halloween dessert that call no for no pumpkin at all!

First up, Dracula’s dentures from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Pumpkin Pretzels from Butter with a Side of Bread

Candy Corn Poke cake from Wine & Glue

Halloween Candy Bark from Just a Taste

Witch Brooms from Couponing to Disney

Boo Bites from Seeded at the Table

Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops from Just a Taste

Butterfinger Fudge from Crazy for Crust

Cookies & Cream Mummy Pops from Life with the Crust Off

Candy Corn Swirl Cookies from The Simple, Sweet Life

Halloween Puppy Chow from Your Cup of Cake

Reeses Brownie Owl Cupcakes from myself!

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad from Chef in Training

Chocolate Peanut Butter Spider Cookies from A Spicy Perspective

Ghost Meringues from Smart School House

See plenty more inspiration + even more Halloween desserts on my Halloween Pinterest board.

Now which one to make first…I think I’ll start with those chocolate dipped pretzels this afternoon!

See all my Halloween posts here!

Blessings y’all!

Cathryne

PS: Linking up at some of these great parties, check ‘em out!

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Oreo M&M Brookies

The other night my sister-in-law, Erica, asked me to help her make something for a bake sale they were having at work. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity! I love baking & I really love “testing” what I’ve made. Plus I was hoping to get a good blog post of it. Sure enough, here we are.

We had discussed a dessert layering cookie dough, Oreos, caramel & brownies that she recently tried. That sounded great, but we wanted to do it our own way. I had made chocolate chip cookies with Oreos inside a few times with my old roommate, Ciara & we always devoured them as soon as they popped out of our little toaster  oven.  So between both of our experiences, we knew the direction we were heading.

We decided to do a cookie dough with Oreo chunks & M&M’s mixed in on top of a fudgy brownie layer with some nuts. The results were breath-taking.

PS- I used this cookie cake recipe from Emeril Lagasse on Food Network minus a few of the last additions.

Get together all your ingredients- brownie mix + what it calls for (eggs/oil), flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, butter, eggs, vanilla, Oreos, M&M’s, mini chocolate chips, & pecans. Any of the last 4 ingredients are optional/interchangeable/replaceable. Experimenting is highly encouraged.

First, mix together your brownie batter. Never use a mixer for brownies! Do it by hand.

Go ahead & pour the brownie batter in the pan. That way it can set up a little before the cookie dough goes on top. This helps keeps the layers separate.

Measure out your flour, baking soda, & salt.

I usually use a whisk to ensure there are no lumps.

Cream together the butter & both sugars.

Add eggs & vanilla then mix thoroughly.

Now add the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing after each addition. I try to add the flour in 3-4 batches.

Mix in the chocolate chips. I chose to use mini ones because I wanted my fillings to all be different sizes. Regular chocolate chips work just the same.

Count out 12 Oreos (or more if you so desire) & eat the rest. That’s why you see my milk glass back there. 😉

I  have no clue what this tool is called but it worked perfectly to break up my Oreo’s.

I wanted to keep them pretty big for the cookie cake. I thought you’d be able to see them better this way, but not so much…

Add those to the dough too!

Next up are the M&M’s. We used the pretty spring ones for extra cuteness. You could make these appropriate for any holiday by using themed M&M’s & colored Oreo’s.

Spoon the cookie dough on top of the brownie layer very carefully. You want it as even as you can get it without intermixing the layers. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes then slice & enjoy!

Oh My Lanta!

Now this is a treat that deserves to be topped with a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream or chased down with a glass of milk. This will be so good as a skillet cookie topped with ice cream, whipped cream, &  more M&M’s. I’ll be making that one soon!

Get the printable recipe here or copy/paste from below.

Make sure you have a crowd to feed these to or you will eat every last bite yourself.

They’ll be perfect for a last minute Easter treat with some pastel M&M’s & spring Oreo’s.

See my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe here & all my Oreo recipes here!

Linking up at my favorite places- Made to be a Momma, Ginger Snap Crafts, The Turquoise Home, Live Laugh Rowe, Posed Perfection, Lamberts Lately, Tidy Mom, Tatertots & Jello, Six Sixter’s Stuff, Sewlicious Home Decor, Skip to My Lou, Cupcakes & Crinoline, Pint Sized Baker, Inside Bru Crew Life, Nap-Time Creations.…