the peanuts gang

Walt Disney World Pin-Trading: Our Favorite Souvenir #SchultzDisneyTrip

Day 1

One of the best things we did while away was grow our Disney pin collection.

Pin-trading at the parks was a favorite activity of our boys and involved all of us in the fun! We loved running around trying to find the remaining parts of our collection while discovering new pins to be had. Prior to the trip, we did a little snail mail trading with Sensibly Sara and are excited to continue that type of trading in the months to come! Since talking about it, we’ve had a few people ask about the art of pin-trading, so I thought I’d share some of our tips and tricks for making this aspect of your Disney experience a blast!

Two years ago, we went to Disney World for one day when we were already in Orlando for another trip. While there, my mom purchased each of the boys a lanyard with a set of four pins – Jack – Mickey Pirate and Charlie – Tinkerbell. In the days that followed, they traded three pins from each of their initial sets and we picked up a few more as souvenirs. We found these collectibles to be the perfect souvenir for us and it also enabled them to have a little fun at the parks. My oldest is not a fan of some of the bigger rides, so this sort of “scavenger hunt” was right up his alley.

Disney Pin-Trading Tips & Tricks #ThePeanutsGang

Where to start?

I suggest purchasing a lanyard and/or starter kit prior to heading to Disney. You can find more variety online and may even be able to start adding pins earlier. Not all Disney stores carry them which also makes the online find much better! One of the biggest questions we have received is the investment – how do we trade so many pins? Is it costly?

We took a small portion of the boys’ birthday money and bought Disney Pin Lots on eBay and through Amazon. You can get a large number of older pins for an inexpensive price and then trade those things you like more once you arrive at the parks. In those variety packs, we occasionally find pins that are keepers and those are moved over to our “keeper” pile. We usually don’t wear those at the parks so as not to lose them or accidentally trade them away and they become part of our regular collection. A quick tip if you’re going through pins like crazy, Amazon WILL deliver to your Disney resort, just make sure to include your reservation, room number and correct resort address & name.

We kept a few of these, but also traded a few. Can you guess which ones we kept?

Miscellaneous Pin Lots #SchultzDisneyTrip

Intense trading with our random lot from Ebay

Charlie & Jack Trading Pin Lots

Pin Etiquette

Generally, pin-trading is reserved for cast members. Occasionally, you will find other pin-traders within the parks that will trade with you, but we found most of our success was with Disney employees rather than asking random pin traders. Although I believe it was the sweet looks of Charlie and Jack that snagged us the blue puffle from a complete set of strangers while waiting for lunch one day.

Be polite! Let them finish whatever they are working on or if they are helping another customer. Sometimes, a mere glance at their lanyard will give them an indication that you’re interested. Please and thank you goes a long way, especially if you decide that you do NOT wish to trade pins with them. Pins can be found on their lanyard or on a small pouch on the side of their waist – not every cast member carries pins, but many do.

It also helps to ask where secret “collections” of pins are. Many of the larger attractions have pin boards or specialty pin sections where you can go and trade pins with a larger selection. Many of the resorts also have these, such as Caribbean Beach Resort which offered a treasure chest of pins to choose from.  Another secret? Be sure to check with Guest Relations when you come in as well as the Stroller Rental and Package Pick-Up locations. They almost always have a group of pins you can choose from as well. We recommend checking this at the beginning and end of the day since the selection almost always changes.

Trading Pin Lots #SchultzDisneyTrip

Additional Tips & Tricks

If you are visiting other parks besides Magic Kingdom, they may have a better selection of pins because they are not frequented as often. We found some of our best pins on those less busy days because there was not as much turnover in selections.

Try not to give away all your “junk.” Many of the cast members are also avid collectors, so don’t necessarily trade your worst. Sometimes, sharing good pins that you don’t necessarily want or collect can be even better! (And shares the good karma with other guests who might also be looking).

Don’t be greedy! Limit the amount of trades you do with each cast member – generally, 2 pins are considered acceptable.

Trade as a family. We each have a lanyard with pins for collecting. This has enabled us to collect more valuable pins, especially when we opt not to be together throughout the park. Jim sometimes found some great finds when I was riding a ride and would trade on my behalf, knowing it was something I wanted or that the boys were trying to collect.

Know what you want and see what the sets are so that you know what else you need to collect and when you can stop looking for a particular set. That’s what we did with Jack’s puffles.

Meet the Puffles!

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Buy extra backs! You will almost ALWAYS need them for stray pins. They are sold in almost all of the stores.

Pin-collecting and trading has become one of our favorites and I believe actually cut down on what our boys asked for. We bought each of them two “new” pins with gift cards that they will keep and the boys loved going into stores for the pins, not stuff. We walked around everywhere and went into stores – just because we were searching the pins! And since we saved so much money by purchasing them in lots, it was an inexpensive way to enjoy and remember Disney World. Now we just can’t wait to go back to continue our addiction!

Are you an avid pin-collector? What are some of your favorites? Do you have pin-trading tips and tricks?

Samantha

Walt Disney World Vacation: Day 1, Magic Kingdom {Sunday} #SchultzDisneyTrip

Phew! We have finally unpacked, most of the laundry is done and we are slowly coming down from our Walt Disney World high. We had an absolute blast, so I thought I’d share a bit about our trip and offer some of our perspectives if you’re planning to head there yourself!

Planning: Mickey You & Travel

Stay: Caribbean Beach Resort

When: last week of February

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We arrived late Saturday night and stayed in a local hotel near Disney World and then woke up early and headed to our resort. We had already received our Magic Bands in the mail (LOVED these) and “checked in” to our hotel early. {Make sure to ask for the pin treasure chest and start trading right away!} We asked for text notification for when our room was ready and parked our van in front of Trinidad South on the property. We then quickly headed over to a shuttle bus to get to Magic Kingdom ASAP to start our day. We have more to say about the shuttle system, but hold for now!

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We trekked to Magic Kingdom with a double sit ‘n stand stroller (our boys are 6 and 4 for reference). We only had a few Fast Passes, for later in the day, so we opted to just walk around and check things out! Our first stop was the Buzz Lightyear laser shooting ride (a family favorite) and then for the coveted MICKEY MOUSE PRETZEL! And because it’s Disney World and it’s vacation, we let the boys eat Mickey shaped ice cream for a sort of breakfast & snack.  We all drove around the Tomorrowland Speedway, Jack and I ventured onto the Teacups & Flying Dumbo (a childhood favorite of mine) and then we circled back around to check out more behind the park – we encountered Gaston talking to fans (this was a MUST SEE on Jim’s list).

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Charlie and I took a boat ride around the world on It’s a Small World and he threw a penny in making a wish for World Peace. We pin-traded for a bit with cast members and started to consider what we were actually collecting. It quickly became apparent that Jack was collecting puffles from Club Penguin, so there’s that.   We noted a few more of the rides we were hoping to try, talked about the characters we were hoping to see and noted the places for future dining reservations later in the week.  We caught a midday parade and show near the Castle and generally just took in the day of fun.

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Jack and I rode the boats for Pirates of the Caribbean (Charlie had an emergency bathroom break!) and then we flew the Magic Carpets with Aladdin. Jim asked if I trusted him, then he proceeded to serenade us. This was one of Charlie’s FAVORITES!  We headed back to the monorail early and met friends for dinner at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Boatwright’s Dining Hall. The dining plan we had meant we could choose anything off the menu (minus alcoholic beverages) and Jim opted for prime rib, while I chose Jambalaya. Both were delicious! Mac ‘n Cheese for Jack, Grilled Cheese for Charlie and build your own sundaes for dessert (Mickey sprinkles and all!) Pecan pie and Red Velvet Cheesecake for Jim and myself. It was a great day!

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 “Do you trust me?”

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Our room was ready about 1 p.m. and we settled in for the night after a busy first day!

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This was a theme and is getting a post all its own later in the week. Oh, Jack.

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Favorites:

Charlie: Magic Carpets

Jack: Buzz Lightyear and Dumbo

Mommy: Mickey Pretzel (have waited FOREVER – our last one-day visit two years ago, they were ALL out of them. In all four parks!)

Daddy: Prime Rib for dinner!

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Where to find the rides in Magic Kingdom

Fantasyland: Flying Dumbo, Teacups, Meet Gaston, It’s a Small World

Tomorrowland: Buzz Lightyear, Tomorrowland Speedway

Adventureland: Magic Carpets, Pirates of the Caribbean

Samantha

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! {A Sweet & Savvy Custom Candy Buffet Feature}

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join a friend in her exciting endeavor to film a commercial for her business, Sweet & Savvy Custom Candy and Dessert Buffets! She put together a beautiful display for my husband’s 30th two years ago and we featured her work on the blog then as well.

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, we thought we’d share one of her more recent gatherings were she put together this BEAUTIFUL display for family and friends to enjoy! Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

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Book her for your next event this year!  Check out even more details on her website, including ways to contact her and more of her beautiful work. You can also find her on Facebook.

Samantha

Chef Boyardee on Rollback at Walmart!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LowPriceMeals #CollectiveBias

With winter almost behind us, I am looking for easy, scrumptious meals for my family. Less time in the kitchen means more time for other fun activities. Now through March 16, 2015, each 14.5-15 oz can of Chef Boyardee is on rollback at Walmart for only $0.75. Chef Boyardee raviolis, mac & cheese, and spaghetti and meatballs are just some of the varieties you can enjoy at a low price. Be sure to head to Walmart and stock up on this great deal while supplies last! #LowPriceMeals #CollectiveBias

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See the entire list of great Chef Boyardee 14.5 – 15 oz cans on rollback price:

Chef Boyardee Beefaroni, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Lasagna, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Spaghetti with Meatballs, 14.5 oz.

Chef Boyardee Cheeseburger Mac, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Spaghetti with Jumbo Meatballs, 14.5 oz.

Chef Boyardee Overstuffed Sausage Ravioli, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Overstuffed Ravioli, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee BIG Beefaroni, 14.75 oz.

Chef Boyardee Whole Grain Beefaroni, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Whole Grain Lasagna, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Whole Grain ABC & 123, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Chicken Ravioli

Chef Boyardee Chicken Alfredo

Chef Boyardee Spicy Beef Ravioli

Chef Boyardee Extra Spicy Beef Ravioli

Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli & Meatball, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Chili Mac, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Mini Shells and Meatballs, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Mini Spaghetti/MTBL, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Cheese Ravioli, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Mini Shells and Meatballs, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Mini ABC with Meatballs, 15 oz.

Chef Boyardee Chicken Marinara

Chef Boyardee Chicken Penne

While shopping at Walmart, be sure to look for the Rollback signs for Chef Boyardee in the Canned Food aisle!

Samantha

We’re on Vacation!

I promise we’ll be back soon!

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Samantha

Vacation Companion: My #DroidTurbo #VZWBuzz #MoreChicago

As a Verizon #MoreChicago Lifestyle Blogger I’m a member of a pretty cool
team of influencers. I have received a Motorola Droid Turbo (with a line
of service) from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did
I promise positive feedback. All opinions are my own.

My three boys and I have been spending the past week in the Happiest Place on Earth and while I packed my dSLR camera, I often find that it’s bulky, heavy and I don’t have the ten hands I need to carry it and use it throughout the park. Luckily, I have been able to capture many moments using my Motorola #DroidTurbo and find that it’s camera has kept up with our activeness, the battery life is AMAZING and always makes it to the nighttime and it even came in handy on a particularly long wait for a ride.

In addition to constant photos and videos, we used the Droid Turbo to check out the My Disney Experience app – this helped with finding our reservations, Fast Passes, park map and highlight ride wait times. It was INVALUABLE and definitely helped when we needed to consult it to figure out our next move for the day!

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Captured and put together these images to share on social media. Our first full day in Disney was DELIGHTFUL!

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Sulley & Mike!

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An hour long wait for the Peter Pan ride? No problem! We put on some Netflix and even shared the love with some of the kids around us, so they could help pass the time as well. The battery STILL lasted the entire day, even though it was streaming constantly for 45 minutes.

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Happy Nighttime! We made it!

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The boys conked out, but the #DroidTurbo kept going thankfully!

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We LOVED having our Droid Turbo on vacation this week and love that it captures all the memories, so we can remember our fun trip in the years to come!

November || December || January

Samantha

Freezer Meal Tips with Farm Fresh Foods! #ILFarmFamilies

I am an Illinois Farm Families blogger and receive compensation in exchange for my posts. All opinions and discussion starters are my own!

October || November || December || January

With winter {hopefully} winding down, we are finally on the cusp of busy season! Heading outdoors, joining sports and activities and getting ready to tackle spring and summer by storm! One of my favorite ways to prep for this season is to prep my freezer full of meals that my family will love to eat – especially in a pinch. With farm fresh foods, I can still feel confident with what we are feeding our family without having to sacrifice flavor, taste or integrity. The busy season for our family happens to coincide with the farming season as they prepare to plant, prepare their land and start the growing process for the upcoming year! I’ve put together some of my favorite freezer meal tips for making sure you are ready to start!

Freezer Meal Tips with Farm-Fresh Foods #ILFarmFamilies

1. Find recipes that your family will LOVE and make them in large quantities.

Breakfast burritos are one of my favorite recipes and they are easy to put together! My hubby will take a few of these with him each day that he heads to work and by using farm fresh eggs, I can feel confident in what I send him there with! Even better, these are great in the freezer and you can add any number of farm fresh veggies that you like to add a little variety.  We also love putting together smoothie packs for a similar purpose.

2. Make a list, check it twice.

Before and after you start your prep and cooking, make a list, so you know exactly what to expect. By sticking with a list, you will feel even more equipped to tackle the items you want to make, ensuring that you stick to a plan and have everything ready to go.

3. Research your foods.

Some foods are better to freeze than others. Once you have your meal plan list, check the items and make sure they work well for freezing. For example, potatoes don’t freeze as well as other vegetables, so be careful what recipes you use them in. Go a step further and check out Illinois Farm Families for even more information and recipe ideas for where your food comes from.  You might even consider trying to schedule a tour or checking out a local farm for more information!

4. Come prepared with supplies!

Make sure you have foil, paper towels (for wrapping burritos if you go that route), ziploc bags of various sizes and a permanent marker for labeling. Also be sure to make a list of what you need from the grocery store so you can find everything on your list and make sure you have it when it’s time for prepping your meals.

5. Consider some of your favorite meals and see if you can freeze them!

By freezing what your family already likes, it ensures that your food will not go to waste, so that you can be sure to utilize your freezer to its full capacity and so that you are not making food that you KNOW will be wasted.

What are your favorite freezer meal tips and tricks? Do you have specific recipes that your family loves?

Samantha

Fun And Unusual Activities To Get The Kids Involved!

You can never run out of things to do when you’re a kid, but often parents are finding it hard to seek activities that can engage the bodies and minds of their kids. Even though some projects might be too hard for somekids, with the right supervision and guidance, you can definitely engage your kids in fun and unusual activities that would encourage them to get involved. Here are some suggestions on how to keep your kids active and on the move!

Engage in DIY projects

There are a number of kid-friendly craft websites that feature step-by-step instructions to a number of fun do-it-yourself projects that your kids can definitely complete. Making crafts is not only a fun way to pass the time, it also allows your kids to get in touch with their creative side. Make sure that your kids can handle craft tools like scissors and other sharp objects. If you’re weary about your kids, make sure to supervise them properly while they’re doing the project.

Get their hands dirty

Gardening is not only a therapeutic activity for some, it can also become a learning experience for your little one. Ask for help around the garden and explain the concept of living things. You can teach your kids why plants are important to us human beings. Helping around the garden can also teach the value of hard work to your kids. Try and plant herbs and vegetables that you can use to spice up the dishes that they love.

Become a Master Chef

You can also ask your kids for help around the kitchen. Try and ask them for their favorite ingredients and incorporate them in your existing recipes to achieve a kid-friendly taste that would definitely appeal to them. If your kid is big enough, you can ask them to accomplish simple tasks such as peeling potatoes and chopping onions. If you’re being adventurous, you can even ask your kid to create an entirely different recipe for the family!

Stand up and volunteer

Engage your kids with the outside world by having them volunteer in activities around the community. Volunteering is one way to help your kids socialize with others and it can also bring happiness to those that they can help. There are a number of ways that your child can volunteer. They can help cheer up old patients in the local care facility or they can choose to help around in the library if they have a strong connection with books and written things.

Go role playing

Another fun activity to do with your kids is to convert house tasks into role-playing games. If you want them to bathe the pets, ask them to role-play as a pet groomer and equip them with the right tools to wash their furry friend. Be aware that pet groomers use chlorhexiderm shampoo that can help clean and condition that skin of your pets, making sure that they stay healthy and active to play around with your kids.

Samantha

Cool Dudes #tbtPeanuts2015

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Samantha

It’s Rainin’ Dollar Billz {and other ways I would spend an extra $100}

This conversation was sparked by the Dollar Shave Club. No compensation involved, but I thought the conversation was a fun one to think about!

Over the course of a year, the Dollar Shave Club can save you $100 and put that right back into your pocket. Since blades start at just $3 a month, the savings adds up quickly. I started thinking – What would I do with an extra $100 laying around?

I could buy two of these hoodies.

Zac Efron Hoodie

I could buy about twenty frappuccinos.

Starbucks

Netflix for about a year.

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I could also go hang out at Disney World for an entire day.

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I could also probably save it or give it away to my favorite charity!

If you jumped in an checked out the Dollar Shave Club, what would you do with the extra $100 you saved?

Samantha