Why We Bought Disney Annual Passes

Why We Bought Disney Annual Passes

We bought annual passes to Walt Disney World this year. And we live in Indiana. Are we crazy? Maybe a little bit, but at the beginning of the year, we sat down and thought about how we wanted to vacation this year and realized we already had two trips to Disney planned. Plus, this is the year that Galaxy’s Edge opens and my daughter is a huge Star Wars fan. Years ago, we used to spend three or four weeks in Florida every June. With a husband who’s a teacher, and my ability to work from anywhere, it was a great way to kick off summer. Sadly, those days are long gone, but as a family, Orlando and Disney hold so many wonderful memories that we make a point to visit at least once a year. Back in the day, we could purchase ten-day tickets with no expiration and just use a few days each year. It was lovely. Knowing that we had a few trips planned, I started investigating annual passes. We’ve always kicked around the idea but just couldn’t justify it. Until this year Thanks to our DVC membership (which we love!!!), we were able to buy some nicely discounted annual passes that did have a few blackout periods. Luckily for us, those dates did not interfere with trips already planned. We also added a third Disney trip to the summer to get full advantage – and I just booked a long weekend next month with just my daughter. It was a big cost upfront, but it’s been worth every penny. The big advantages are: Not feeling...
Mexican Street Corn

Mexican Street Corn

Thanks to the Indiana sweet corn we picked up last week while searching for covered bridges in Rush County, we’ve been well-stocked for our current summer addiction – Mexican Street Corn. Every time we go somewhere that has Elotes (or as it’s often called Mexican Street Corn), we purchase it and gobble it up. Since we like to eat seasonally and sweet corn is delicious and plentiful during summer months in Indiana, this year we decided to figure out how to make one of our favorite dishes ourselves. Turns out it is SUPER simple. This recipe is a conglomeration of multiple Pinterest recipes we found and the simplicity and flavors are ideal for our family – and now hopefully yours! I’m 100% sure it’s not authentic, but it is delicious! Ingredients: Sweet corn – the fresher the better 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1-2 t. Chipotle Chili Powder grated parmesan or cotija to taste chopped up parsley or cilantro to taste Step one: The first step seems a little weird, but trust me, it works. Wrap your sweet corn (without husking it) in a paper towel and microwave for 2 minutes. If it’s good fresh corn, it will come out perfectly cooked. Step two: While your corn is cooking, mix the mayonnaise with the chili powder – add more or less chili powder according to your taste. Step three: Peel back the husk and coat the corn with the chili/mayo mixture. Step four: Sprinkle on cheese and cilantro and enjoy! Whatever mayo mixture you don’t use will stay fresh in the fridge for a couple of days or is also amazing...
A Hunt for Covered Bridges

A Hunt for Covered Bridges

Covered bridges in Indiana? If you are from the state, I bet the first place you think of is Parke County. I know I do. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that less than an hour from Indianapolis, Rush County has a long history of covered bridges. Originally there were 23 covered bridges, but today only six remain. As part of my Explore Indiana project, Rush County was on my list of places to visit. With a free afternoon, my 12-year-old son and I took off to see if we could find those remaining six bridges. We found four and had a delightful time looking for them and enjoying Rushville, IN. The first bridge we found is called the Moscow Bridge. It’s located in Moscow, Indiana and was one of two we were able to get out and walk around. It is very nicely preserved and at 334 feet the third longest one in Indiana. It was originally built in 1886 but destroyed by a tornado in 2008. Luckily it was rebuilt in 2010 using as much of the original materials as possible. Our next covered bridge was a bust. Although we followed the directions on Google Maps when we “arrived” there was no bridge to be found. Feeling like a snack was in order, we headed over to the largest city in Rush County, appropriately named Rushville and decided to check out a local favorite, Stagg’s Dairy Treats & Restaurant. This restaurant is exactly the kind of place I enjoy finding in small Midwestern towns. With an affordable and fun menu and delicious ice cream treats, it was...
Las Vegas with Teens?

Las Vegas with Teens?

Thinking of taking your teens to Las Vegas? When I think of Las Vegas, I think of an adult vacation. We’ve been going to Vegas every summer for our annual “grown-up” trip without fail and have always promised the kids we would take them when they turn 21. So why on earth did we take them with us this summer? Would I do it again? What in the world did we do to entertain them? Why we chose to take our kids Last year around Christmas time, we discovered that my daughter’s all-time favorite band (Aerosmith) was going to be playing in Las Vegas. She immediately began a campaign to see them live. Her arguments were reasonable (it’s all I want for Christmas and my birthday; Steven Tyler is 71, who knows how much longer they are touring, it’s a super small venue so it’ll be a great show, etc.). As we also love Aerosmith, we decided to give in and booked a trip. I will say I had a lot of trepidation on this one – I’ve never thought of Las Vegas as a family-friendly location, although I do know many families who love it. We picked a summer date for the concert and then built the trip around it. Luckily for us, the new ParkMGM (old Monte Carlo) was doing some really amazing room deals, and that is the location of the theater, so we were able to snag a great rate on an excellent room. We were on our way … What to do with teens in Las Vegas Our normal Las Vegas trip consists of...
Beat the Heat at Disney

Beat the Heat at Disney

Want to thrive on your summer Disney trip? Not just survive it? Visiting Walt Disney World in the summer can be hot. REALLY HOT! As in, you can’t spend five minutes outside without sweat dripping down your back hot. Yet you can still have a wonderful time – with a little planning and a little swizzle in your schedule. Read on to learn our tips and tricks! Tip #1: Take a break during the hottest part of the day. This may seem obvious, but it amazes me how many people don’t follow it. When we come back to park refreshed, cooled off and ready to enjoy the evening, I see those people yelling at their kids, mopping the sweat off their faces and looking rundown. Seriously, you’ll have a MUCH better time if you just take a few hours out of the park from about 1:00 – 4:00. If you have little ones, take a nap, older kids may enjoy splashing around in a pool or even just going out for a nice long lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant. On our recent summer trip, we spent a few hours bowling at Splitsville – it was a blast AND we had a great chance to cool off before heading back to the Magic Kingdom. Tip #2: Drink lots of water. Another obvious tip, but easy to forget. Especially when you are in Epcot and the fun drinks around the world are tempting you. Go ahead and try a few, just be sure to drink plenty of water in-between. Often when we start to get cranky, I force everyone to drink...
Disney – Stay Onsite or Offsite?

Disney – Stay Onsite or Offsite?

Which is better? Staying onsite at Disney or offsite? Many years ago, we would spend two to four weeks each June in Orlando and we rarely stayed at the Disney properties. Instead, we would hop around from timeshare to timeshare. Now that the kids are older and super busy, a week at a time is about all we can get away for. Due to that, the last few years we’ve stayed almost exclusively at Disney resorts. However this last trip, we had some points we had to use up so we stayed at a nearby resort. This got me thinking about which is better … and I still don’t have a definitive answer. I think it depends upon what amenities are important to you, and what the purpose of your trip is. That being said, here are some pros and cons for both staying onsite and offsite. Pros for Staying at a Disney Property There are some really great reasons for staying onsite, but my all-time favorite reason is that the resorts are amazing. They are so well themed, that you get that “Disney” feel 24/7. If you love Disney, this will be a big plus for you! You’ll also discover little Disney touches throughout your stay. Things like icy-cold fruit infused water in the lobby, Disney pin trading with cast members, hidden Mickey’s galore. If you visit the DVC properties you’ll also find a whole schedule of engaging activities ranging from pool parties to trivia. It can be a lot of fun to spend a resort day just enjoying all these activities. Insider tip: if you enjoy looking...
Bowling and Dinner – Splitsville Style!

Bowling and Dinner – Splitsville Style!

A big thanks to Splitsville for hosting our bowling and dinner! All opinions and pictures are my own. By now, you know I love doing more than just going out to dinner, so bowling and dinner was a great choice! On our latest trip to Disney, we discovered the PERFECT break in the day and way to escape the heat – a visit to Splitsville in Disney Springs. If you’ve ever visited Disney in the summer, it’s hot. I mean REALLY hot. However, for families with kids, sometimes summer is the only option for a Disney vacation. If that’s your situation, taking a break in the afternoon to visit Splitsville will turn an exhausting day into a fantastic memory. For several years now, we’ve walked by Splitsville and talked about how fun it would be to check it out. We even walked in one year and looked around but didn’t take the time to stop and play. What a mistake! Insider tip: We learned from the manager, Don, that Splitsville actually has a few other locations, so even if you aren’t visiting Orlando, you can visit a Splitsville. Current locations include Anaheim, CA, Foxborough, MA, Fredericksburg, VA, Miami, FL and Tampa, FL. Splitsville isn’t just bowling, it’s also great food, live entertainment, and good old-fashioned family fun. On our recent visit, we spent several hours bowling, laughing and enjoying an early dinner. Although you don’t have to bowl to visit Splitsville (you can just enjoy dinner or drinks there), it really is a fun family activity. As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted at the front counter...
Family Road Trips Tips

Family Road Trips Tips

Road trips are a constant in my life – the majority of our trips are taken in the minivan! Tanya from Traveling Tanya has some excellent tips for your next road trip with young kids. If you have a trip planned in the near future, be sure to take in her words of wisdom … For some, the thought of loading the family into the minivan for a cross country adventure sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Yet others dread the thought of a long road trip. No matter which camp you are in on this issue, an extended amount of time in the car with young children can test even the most patient person! As a mother of teenagers, I’ll admit I’m happy to be beyond the toddler stage. Although raising teenagers creates its own unique challenges! But I can still clearly recall the struggles I experienced in the car when my girls were little. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve (and in the diaper bag) that I am now happy to pass along to other moms with wee ones in tow. My best advice for traveling with young kids: Be prepared and have reasonable expectations. While every child is different and their needs may vary, here are some practical strategies to try on your next road trip with toddlers, preschoolers and beyond. Pit Stops Even though you may want to get to your final destination so your vacation can really begin, kids require frequent stops. Be prepared to stop at least every 2-3 hours. Regular potty breaks and diaper changes are a must...
Why Local Breweries are the Best

Why Local Breweries are the Best

If you’ve followed me for any length of time (especially on Instagram), it’s pretty apparent that I’m a huge fan of local breweries. What’s funny is that aside from sours, I really don’t like beer … So what’s up with that? I’m sharing my top 5 reasons as to why I love local breweries and see if I can’t convince the other non-beer lovers out there to check them out too: The food. In general, I’ve found the food at local breweries to be top-notch. Many of them have the same philosophy with food as they do with beer – keep it local when possible and make it tasty. When the brewery doesn’t have a kitchen, they often offer food trucks, and who doesn’t enjoy a good food truck? The atmosphere. Comfortable seating, friendly bartenders and servers, plenty of board games to play. A few of my favorites even offer outdoor games like cornhole or comfy sofa areas when you just want to enjoy a drink and relax. If you are lucky, they brew the beer on site and you might get a chance to check out the process or learn a bit about their philosophy. The fun. It seems like there is something going on most nights. Trivia, Bingo, Open Mic nights, even craft nights – we’ve enjoyed all of these at several of our local breweries. I’m a fan of not just going out to dinner but doing dinner WITH entertainment. A local brewery will have that covered. The drinks. I’ve only been to one local brewery that didn’t offer something for the non-beer drinker. Many times...
BEST local coffee shops North of Indy

BEST local coffee shops North of Indy

Love coffee? Me too. In fact, one of my favorite lounging around shirts has the saying “Coffee ’til Cocktails” on the front. Pretty much sums it up for me! Although I do like Starbucks, what I really enjoy is checking out local coffee shops. We will even often add that to our vacation itineraries as an afternoon treat. So you can bet, I’ve explored all the coffee shops near me. Today I’m sharing my favorites located North of Indianapolis. Noble Coffee & Tea – this one is just a mile from my house and right downtown on the charming Noblesville square so it’s definitely a favorite. For years, I would take my kids there for “coffee shop day” before school started once a week so this place has lots of great memories for me. It has two rooms with plenty of seating for working or meeting with friends. My teen daughter and her friends love to hang out at this coffee shop and study for finals or summer school. Of course, the coffee is excellent AND they have Circle City Kombucha on tap. Yum! Indie Coffee Roasters – right on the edge of downtown Carmel, the vibe in this coffee shop is relaxing but a little edgy. The coffee is strong and bold which I love. The decor is a bit industrial and I’m a huge fan of the outside patio. It’s a little far for me for regular visits, but if I’m near Carmel I’ll definitely stop by! Della Leva – I found this coffee shop during a recent promotion of my 5-Day Add More Adventure to Your...

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