Friday, September 23, 2016

Budget Friendly Travel Essentials For A Toddler

Traveling with toddler? Hold on…it may be a bumpy ride, but these tips will surely help!

We have had two long trips the past five months. One
to Jamaica (long flight, long shuttle) and one to Tennessee and North Carolina
(extremely long car rides). Both trips were AMAZING and I thank it to
being prepped and able to entertain and feed our raging toddler. I was so excited
(and a little nervous) to go on these HUGE family adventures because the only real travel we had done before was when she younger and a 2 hour flight where we were staying with family who has
a similar aged child, so all the toys, diapers, snacks, accessories they had
readily available to us #lovepeoplewithbabies. But these trips,
we had to think of EVERYTHING! How do we keep her happy, us sane, and the
people around us happy??!!

After lots of blog reading I was ready to tackle
these packing excursions. So here it is, the best budget friendly way to
prepare for long travel with a toddler, but mainly it boils down to having lots
of toys, lots of food, and LOTS of patience.

Tip 1: Go to a Dollar Store, thrift store,
or discount market and get a bunch of small, new toys that your kid has never
seen before. You can also create some fabulous DIY toys that will keep them just
as entertained.

  • Here are some great examples of what I purchased
    at the Dollar Store:
    • Stickers
      (lots of them!) for the plane I also found gel stickers that could go on the window and tray table, which were so cool!! If your Dollar Store doesn’t have them, try these.
    • Crayons
      and coloring books
    • Little
      animal figurines
    • Matchbox
      cars
    • Play-Doh
      (not really car friendly, but this was great on plane tray table and at
      restaurants)
    • Slinky
    • Bouncy ball
    • Large
      lizard and mini pony that my daughter thought was amazing
  • I also found a couple of  interactive
    booksat HomeGoods that were lifesavers and showed her noises for
    transportation, so helped her understand.
  • Some DIY toys and engaging ideas that our little girl LOVES:
    • String
      and cheerios
    • Ice
      in a cup, totally free and weird, but this is the best (straw+cup+ice=toddler
      fascinated)
    • Take a old plastic container and make holes to be able to poke pipecleaners or pom-poms through
    • Peek-a-boo
      or iSpy with family or travel mates
    • Learn your nursery rhymes! Willie and I were a musicial choir on our car trips. Those songs are hidden in your memory somewhere…go ahead and tap into that brain!

Tip 2: My diaper bag included: diapers,
wipes, gallon sized Ziplocs (for toys or if a clothing accident occured), band aids, change of clothes, snacks and plastic
straws (more detail below), hand wipes/spray, toy/area wipes, waterproof bib,
sunscreen, and snacks (more below).

Tip 3: Pack sippy cups and plastic straws. I
carry plastic straws everywhere since I know she can have a drink anywhere I go without
the hassle of cleaning/finding my sippy cup.
Tip 4: Pack lots of different kinds of
snacks (familiar and new) in small zipper bags or containers. This saves you so much since you
don’t have to pay the upcharge within the airport or even at the hotels.
  • A nifty trick for plane entertainment, grab a daily pill boxfrom the Dollar Store and hide snacks inside. You can also do this trick with plastic Easter eggs.
  • For the car ride since we had more baggage
    ability, I bought lots of treats that she normally doesn’t get from
    the Dollar Store as a disraction and reward for good behavior. This bag of
    goodies on the long car ride was essential. What the magic of a Cheetos and
    M&Ms will do 🙂
  • For these longer trips I also brought a few easy
    meals in case of emergency.
    • Hartley
      loves granola bars and applesauce, have some in your diaper bag but also bring
      a box in your check-in for easy on-the-go meals.
    • These Annie’stravel pastas are wonderful to have for emergency meals. I put a few of
      these in our check-in bag to have at the hotel.

Tip 5: Make a plan with your partner and
family (if traveling together) about the expectations for the flight and daily
activities so everyone can enjoy the flight and vacation.

Tip 6: Take care of yourself or everyone
will be miserable. If you are hungry, thirsty, or unhappy, everything your
child does will be that much more annoying. I always pack snacks for us too. If
your husband is anything like mine, they get HANGRY real fast and there is
noooo turning back until they are satisfied. When I used to travel
internationally for work with long flight times, my favorite essentials were
protein bars, PB&J sandwiches, raw nuts, dried fruit, and a fresh banana or apple. I also always
have an empty water bottle to fill once I pass security so I don’t have to pay
the enormous upcharge for a water bottle at the airport stores.
Tip 7: If your child is soothed by a
pacifier, make sure you have it. Hartley would be devastated if her “B” didn’t
make the flight. We would be those parents running through the airport to find
one or borrow one I’m sure. For the chance of further discomfort from a cold or
earache, always pack a children’s pain/fever reducer.
Tip 8: Bring a baby carrier, wrap, or
backpack. We brought our Ergobaby and a stroller for the trip. Hartley prefers the
stroller, so that’s what we used most of the time and through the airport
(along with chasing her around to get some energy out).

Tip 9: For the Jamaica flight, we
checked our carseat at the boarding door, but if your child is small enough
just make sure your car seat is flight compliant. Checking a carseat is free on almost all airlines, so it really is just more of a necessary hassle than anything.

Tip 10: Bring the iPad if your other
distractions aren’t working. Hartley rarely watches TV but she is fascinated
with “Elmo” aka the iPad and will watch him for hours.

Tip 11: For our Jamaica destination we packed some
tropical essentials:
  • Bathing suits (a lot we’ve found at the thrift
    store for CHEAP)
  • Swim Shirt (these are bountiful at the
    thrift store)
  • Sun Hats and/or waterproof hat (again these are
    bountiful at the thrift store)
  • Puddle Jumper(found this at the thrift store,
    but we also saw at Costco for $15)
  • Sunscreen (Oxybenzone free) For Hartley we use
    The Honest Company Mineral Based Sunscreen and Arbonne’s sunscreen
  • Bug spray
Tip 12: The Jamaica hotel had a crib setup and most
have an option for play-n-pack, so just make sure you have that confirmed
before arrival (some may have applicable fees for this, so if you can carry a travel bed, that may be a good option). I also packed some crib stuffed animals, a nightlight, and her
sleep sheep just to make sure she was comfortable. Anything you can bring to
make sure they sleep on vacation is great!

Tip 13: We did not bring a travel highchair.
She does not care for the small fabric seats and just ate her meals on our laps
or next to the pool in a lounge chair (yes…already a diva). But if you are
going a lot of places that wouldn’t have a chair option or you prefer sitting
them in something, go ahead and pack it.

Tip 14: Find a way to exercise. When flying get to the airport a little early and find a non-crowded area to let your little one run and view the planes. Once safe in the air, you can also use the aisles to your advantage. As long as this isn’t a red eye flight and everyone is trying to sleep, everyone will get a smile out of your curious baby. For the car rides, take breaks. Stop and use the restroom, scenic spots, coffee, etc. These little stops can help extend their patience and also get a little energy out.

Tip 15: Smile, laugh and enjoy your vacation!!!

Do you have any great tips to share?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

DIY Bubble Inspired Birthday Cake

Creating a special 2nd birthday cake for my precious daughter was so much fun and she absolutely loved it! I knew we weren’t having a party since we are still getting things at the new house settled and everyone is just always so busy end of August it’s hard to plan something. So just super low key this year with just the grandparents and a photo shoot, which upon the dismay of my husband, I am trying to make family photos an annual occurrence. Her birthday is the perfect millstone for those photos right now and I cannot wait to share some that my wonderful Kimberly took!

So what do you make for a bubble obsessed toddler? How about a fun bubble inspired cake!?!

The DIY glam bubble candleand cake topper were so perfect on top of the naked funfetti cake I made. Here is how I did it…

The cake was super simple. I used two boxes of the funfetti cake mixand made three batches using a 9″round cake pan. Once they cooled I followed inside the outer circle outline to get rid of the brown edges to expose the colorful inside. Then I started stacking the cakes filling each layer with a tremendous amount of rainbow chip frosting(I LOVE icing, so it was more for me than anything cake decorating wise…you will need about 3 tubs of icing if you put around the same amount as I did). I used a butter knife on the top icing layer to make swirls and finished the corners and edges with multi-colored confetti sprinkles.

For the glam bubble inspired candle I took a cheap dollar
store candleand just hot glued the beads of choice onto the candle
layering and alternating the colors and sizes of the beads. At first I freaked
out, because duhh…wax melts, but be patient! Once you get a few on, it will
start building upon one another and start coming together. I was able to do the
beginning layer by just putting hot glueenough for about 5-6 beads directly on
the candle and then just sprinkled them on randomly. Once you do the first
layer you can start building upon with more precision one at a time either
pinching with your fingers (be careful, I took some stings from the glue) or
buy $1 store tweezers and use those for the precision areas.

For the cake topper I actually found small water balloonswere the perfect size and extremely reasonable than paying for mini or regular balloons. I got a bag of 50 balloons 25% off $1.25 so it was practically a steal!  I chose to use the neon pinks colored ones and just blew all of them up (well not me, Willie blew them up for me) in random sizes and picked the best ones I liked to apply the stickers to. I used aqua glitter letter stickersfrom Michaels and put one word on each balloon to have the full quote of “never get TWO old for bubbles” across the cake. Once you put the balloons on the wire, you can always make adjustments to the word orientation if some balloon won’t go in the direction you want them to. Once all the words were on the balloons, we pierced the balloon ends carefully with a brass wireto attach each balloon in the order we wanted. I did a blank balloon on each side of the quote just as a little filler. Then just attach the wire to some long bamboo skewersor straws, place in your cake, and viola the most fun cake topper EVER!

Hartley absolutely loved her cake and for the following days went around the house yelling “cake, cake, cake, eat, cake”!! I cannot believe I have a 2-year-old daughter. Time is going way too fast and I’m trying to not miss a second. The pressure of being a working mom has gotten to me recently, but all you can do is try you best and embrace every moment you can spend with your children. I cannot wait to see what the next year brings us. I hear the 2s are the worst, but fun days like this and creating something magical for her is totally worth all the tantums I am about to endure. Wish me luck!

Cake photos: Kimberly Lyddane Photography

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Baby Shower Cake – DIY Style

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a dear friends baby shower. She is Kimberly’s twin sister and although they do not look alike, they are both super fabulous in their own unique ways and hold a very special place in my heart. Brittney is having a girl…whohooo…I am overjoyed that I have a friend having a girl close to Hartley’s age. Play dates, make-up, dresses, dolls, bows and sparkles…here we come!

This cake was really a team effort. Kimberly tackled the DIY
tutu cake stand, while I made the cake, cake topper, and assembled it for the
shower. I’m no cake maker, but sometimes it’s fun to tackle something new and work off of a Pinterest inspiration 🙂

You know when you have a bestie when she takes step-by-step pictures
for you to capture how to make something PERFECT…thanks Kimberly!!

How she made this adorable DIY tutu cake stand. She cut a rubber placemat the diameter of the cake stand she had. Then she wrapped a piece of yarn around the edge and attaching it about every 1″ with a drop of hot glue. With two colors of glittered tulle, she started making loops to adhere the tulle to the piece of yawn (perfect simple no sew solution). She kept alternating the pink and lavender tulle until she made it all around the stand.

I baked the cake the night before. I choose a delicious French Vanilla flavor. Saturday morning all I did was cut the two 9″ round cakes I made in half each so my bottom layer had 4 cake layers and in between layers I put vanilla icing and a blackberry preserve. I placed 4 cake sticks in the middle of my bottom layer to serve as a support system for the top layer. I did a crumb coating of icing, which actually served as my final “rustic” look for icing as I was following a version I saw on Pinterest that I LOVED.

After the bottom layer was assembled on the stand I cut my two 6″ round cakes I made in half each so my top layer had 4 cake layers and in between layers I put vanilla icing and a blackberry preserve. Once the top layer was assembled separately, I used a large spatula to carefully place the top layer on the bottom layer. I placed three large kabob sticks from the top to the bottom in a triangle pattern through all the layers to give it a little bit more stability since I did have to transport it. Then, just ice top layer like bottom.

The topper I created by using:

  1. hard stock paper – pink 
  2. burlap twine
  3. hot glue
  4. scissors
  5. gold letter stickers
  6. straws/kabob sticks
  • Cut the paper in about 2″ long rectangle and then make the V by cutting into the middle from both sides, bend the paper in half so it is like a small tent
  • Place the letter stickers on the paper
  • Once the letters are all made, take your twine (or ribbon) and put the inside crease of you tent over the twine and secure the two side together over the twine with hot glue
  • Once all letters are attached to the twine, you are ready to attach to the straw/sticks by simply wrapping and knotting the twine
Finish the cake off with some beautiful fresh flowers. The tulips and baby’s breath were perfect for this lavender spring themed shower.

I was so proud to show this off at the shower and all the details Kimberly and her mother put together were absolutely amazing. Kaelyn has a wonderful family that is very excited to meet her!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Best Cake EVER

This will always be my
favorite cake. It represents a huge milestone in our lives. Our daughter is
one. We made it, she made, we loved every minute of it. I absolutely cannot
believe a year has passed.

I wanted something special and beautiful for her first birthday and cake smashing photo session without spending a fortune, so I knew I was going to have make my own. For being my first cake decorating experience (no I do not count throwing sprinkles on top as decorating), I think it turned out great and this style is very forgiving. Any beginner can do this 🙂

Of course I also had to
show off another GREAT find from the thrift store. This gorgeous cake stand
was only $9. This stand is super similar if you can’t find a used one. Wasn’t it perfect?!!?

Everyone was amazed by the cake and even more amazed that I made it. Look out for step by step instructions to make an ombre rosette cake of your own!

Special thanks to my bestie for some great photos! Thanks Kimberly!