Family Travel Tips

January 14, 2020 at 6:51 am (Family Stuff, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart. But, it’s totally possible to have an awesome time and not lose your sanity! We are living proof. I have a few simple tricks to keep it all together when traveling with a crew. My family of 5, mom, dad, 17 year old, 6 year old, and 1.5 year old, recently traveled to Florida and not only survived, but also had an amazing time. (Read about Florida ideas is previous post!) Here are some things that worked really well for us that we recommend and will be doing again.

Packing Cases- We got each family member a different color set of packing cases this time. Especially helpful since plane tickets no longer come with a checked bag any longer, as we decided to pay the extra fee for only two large checked suitcases between the 5 of us. This set of packing cases, which we used, are decently priced, come with 6 pouches per set, and had plenty of color options. They are a bit cheaply made, but did a good job for us. Lots more options for these on Amazon too! I divided each person’s cases into groups, like one pouch for shirts, one for bottoms, one for undergarments, etc. I also think it may be helpful to divide by outfits rolled together. At least this way there were only 6 options for where your swim suit could be located on the chaos! 😉

Nacuwa Bottle- If you haven’t heard already, all airlines now only allow liquids in 3.4 oz bottles and these need to be in a quart sized ziplock baggie. To simplify things, use the Nacuwa bottle! All of our necessities can go in one bottle. It’s even TSA approved! Tip- add a ziplock to each bag. You might bring home a hotel lotion, or find that you had a little perfume in your purse without a baggie. Each person is allowed one, so make sure you are prepared to take advantage of this! We use the Nacuwa travel bottle for camping and cabining as well! So handy!

Bubble Bum Seat- Got kids in the booster seat age and size range? You need this. Its handy for all the things, travel, grandma’s car, carpool, etc. We loved having it for the rental car. I know rental cars can provide carseats, but they add an extra expense. And, I’ve heard rumor, that sometimes they don’t have the size seat you requested on hand, or it is outdated or dirty… Save yourself extra trouble and get this guy. He fits in this bag shown in my hand, then blows up to the seat B is holding below. It meets and exceeds all safety standards! Plus, B says it’s super comfy.

Spirit Airlines- Ok, hear me out. This may not be the airline of beat choice if you are taking a super long flight and need extra comfort… but they have their perks if you are ok with very basic and are hoping to save some money. Perk 1- they allow you to bring a diaper bag on free, in addition to the one personal item each traveler is allowed. Thank goodness! Perk 2- they also allow you to check a stroller and carseat for each child for free. We checked the toddler’s carseat (again with the rental car issue) and gate checked the stroller. This means we drove it all the way to the gate with kiddo in it, and it goes right in the door of the plane and off to meet us. Perfect! Perk 3- they combine weights for your suitcases, whereas other airlines don’t. Each checked suitcase is allowed to be 40lbs without extra charge. With Spirit, one could be 20lbs and one could be 60lbs then. Less stress worrying about how to split things up!! Perk 4- you can bring your own snacks and drinks! They do not serve anything for free on the flight, adding to your lower prices, but this also allows you the freedom to pack what and how much you want! Some airports will not allow you through safety checks with drinks. Chicago did, because Spirit’s checkpoint was separated. However, Jacksonville did not, as all airline were checked together. Snacks were fine. Exceptions are always made for breastmilk, formula, etc.

Carseats– I mentioned above that I believe in the perks of bringing your own carseat when renting a car. Here is something you should get. A strap to attach the carseat to your wheeled suitcase. So handy to not lug another parcel through the airport. We wheeled the carseat to baggage check. Then we packed it in it’s own travel bag to be checked. The second picture below is how the carseat bag rolls up into it’s own pouch to pack. Pack this in an outside pocket of your suitcase and you will know where it is before you check bags.

Last tips- stay organized, go with the flow, don’t see it all, and enjoy the little things. Dad says- pack lots of snacks. You will have a blast! Safe travels!

Anything you would add?

XX,

Jess

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Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

October 22, 2019 at 5:27 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you know me at all, you know I’m no cook. It’s never been something I enjoy to do, so I have never gotten much better than “able to keep my kids alive” level. 🤣

But, I have a few recipes up my sleeve that make it seem like I know what I’m doing just a little. This is a family favorite. So easy, probably 10 minute prep time, inexpensive, and both adults and kids love it. It makes enough for the 5 of us for dinner plus leftovers. Leftovers are almost even better with this dish! 😉

Ingredients

2 c shredded chicken

1 box spaghetti

2 can cream of chicken soup

1 can original Rotel

1 8oz package sour cream

Large sprinkling of shredded cheese

Tips: use a broasted chicken from the store. Easiest to shred when its warm. Shred then refrigerate if making tomorrow. Shred an overly full 2 cups. There will be just enough left for a couple of legs for kids lunch or to put on a salad, etc.

Instructions: Boil the entire package of spaghetti. Mix with all other ingredients except cheese in a 9×13 casserole pan. Cover in foil. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and add a full sprinkling of your favorite shredded cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Viola!

One more tip, a sprinkling of crumbled potato chips tops it excellently. Especially day 2 leftovers! Yumm!

Xx,

Jess

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Sweet Little Details

April 7, 2009 at 7:59 am (Projects) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I really believe that it’s the little details in a home that make your space special.  Ok, that sounds cheesy.  But, it is true.  We have made some major repairs, spend lots of money, and in the end it’s the little projects worth a few bucks that make me so proud of our home.  I have been excited for days about the new towel bar we hung in the bathroom.  This is not only a convenience, but looks so much better than having the towel laying on the sink all the time- and, it only cost me about $3! 

So, last night while finishing up the living room curtains we also hung up some coffee mugs in the kitchen.  I bought a few new red mugs at Wal Mart for $2 apiece.  I got a few cup hooks, and viola!  Instant face-lift for the kitchen space.  I love my bird of paradise mugs, but these look much more updated and will go great once we finishing the painting of the cabinets.  Tony actually hung a separate board under the cabinet so that the screws for the hooks wouldn’t go all the way through.  He also had to slightly open up the cup hooks, as the mug handles were a bit wider than standard ones.  All in all I think they look great and will be awesome in the new kitchen too!

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I know I said that I would be starting to work on the cabinet painting last week, but I got a bit lazy.  I really am going to work on it this week, so check back for updates and tips on the cabinet painting!

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Chandelier For The Porch

March 24, 2009 at 8:12 am (Projects) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Here it is.  This is the fancy project I completely with the ugly, little, pink basket. 

Here is the before picture:

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Here is what I made:

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I took a 75cent basket from the Salvation Army and spray painted it black.  I hung crystals and beads on it and added a length of chain.  I added some mini candles in jars and viola!  We now have a chandelier above the ice cream table on the porch!  I found this idea on Apartment Therapy and think its super cute.  What do you think?

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Tidying Up

March 3, 2009 at 9:59 am (Projects) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m a neat freak. I know it. I’m actually proud of it. I like that my home is always clean, neat, and organized. I feel that everything should have a place. Junk left out of it’s place clutters up your house and really ruins the appearance. I love ugly necessities (like cleaning supplies or utensils) to have a place to be stashed that is concealed when not in use. Not only does this just look so much better, but it also means you will not lose things or forget where you left them. Our cleaning supplies are under the kitchen sink in tubs. We always keep a flashlight right under the sink as well. A few basic tools and utensils that are needed frequently are in a drawer in the kitchen island, and the rest of the tools are in the tool box in the basement. I could tell you where ever item I own is right now. This drives Tony nuts that he has to put everything back in it’s assigned spot, but he will be thanking me in an emergency when I find what we need in seconds!

Anyway, this brings me to the topic at hand. Our mops and brooms. They are too big to fit under the sink, but too ugly to be left leaning against a wall in the kitchen. I had them stashed away in the basement. But, no one wanted to go down there to get them every time there was a mess. I even caught myself on hands and knees wiping up the floor with a paper towel instead of heading to the basement. I knew there had to be a better solution.

We took a trip this weekend to our local hardware store and found a basic hook set. My plan was to hang this strip of hooks inside the basement door for easy access to brooms and mops. The strip was a bit too long to fit from one beam to another along the unfinished basement walls. We compromised and leaned the strip of hooks on it’s side. It actually worked out perfectly, and the long handled tools hang perfectly just inside the door. I’m pleased. 🙂 And, now we can save paper towels and make our lazy selves go grab the mop!

The brooms and mops hanging so nicely just inside our basement door.

The brooms and mops hanging so nicely just inside our basement door.

The row of hooks that proved to be a simple and inexpensive solution to a daily annoyance.

The row of hooks that proved to be a simple and inexpensive solution to a daily annoyance.

We were so inspired we even added a couple single hooks to the opposite wall for hanging dog toys and leashes.

These things will no longer have to be draped sloppily over the bannister!

These things will no longer have to be draped sloppily over the banister!

Simple fixes make all the difference in a home!

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Little Coaster Project

January 23, 2009 at 10:18 am (Projects) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Tony has Dallas Cowboys coasters. I have Chicago Bears coasters. Neither were going to be displayed in our nice living room. I love football as much as anybody, but the football paraphernalia is reserved for the basement game room/bar. So, we needed some nice coasters to protect our living room tables. I change my mind frequently, so I wanted something inexpensive or changeable. That’s when I found these. The Dollar Store had a pack of four glass coaster for a couple bucks! Not only are they cheap, but they are changeable. They are the kind of coasters meant for inserting a picture under the glass. I decided to put a piece of black and silver damask wrapping paper in the picture slot. Here was my process:

My supplies.  All I used was a scissors and the material (wrapping paper).

My supplies. All I used was a scissors and the material (wrapping paper).

I used the blank piece of paper that came in the frame as a guide to cut a rectangle out of the wrapping paper.  It then slides into a clear picket in the coaster frame.  It was really THAT simple.

I used the blank piece of paper that came in the frame as a guide to cut a rectangle out of the wrapping paper. It then slides into a clear picket in the coaster frame. It was really THAT simple.

This is what it looked like slid into the coaster frame.

This is what it looked like slid into the coaster frame.

Here they all are with the wrapping paper inserted.

Here they all are with the wrapping paper inserted.

They even have their own little wooden holder.

They even have their own little wooden holder.

It was so simple and I can change what is in the frames any time I want to. The glass is also very easy to clean off. I wish they were all black, as I am not so fond of the different colors, but it does make it easier to keep track of your drink. And, for a few dollars, who can complain?

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