Friday Faves

Happy March! We've been getting in the Easter spirit with all things bunny - including our pancakes! These were a hit - and super easy to make!

If you're looking for a spring dessert, look no further than my Mint Chocolate Treasures that I posted about earlier this week! The recipe makes 24, and they're already gone 🙈

Who uses their Apple watch to track their fitness classes? 🙋 

I love to check on heart rate and calories, and to compare classes. My PSA for the week - if you are using your tracker when you might be bumping your watch, there is a way to lock it so it stays only on the tracker. Simply swipe the screen after you start the tracker and you'll see this:

Press the blue water droplet and it will lock. Why is this important? Well, in Pure Barre Empower, you have wrist weights that wrap around your watch. With all the moving, they rub the watch screen making it do random things like almost make an Emergency call. Twice. Imagine a fire truck showing up and me having to say "No worries, just working out!" So anyway, the lock option has put an end to my constant worrying and checking my watch during class. The only way to unlock it is to manually turn the dial on the side. I love having peace of mind now that it will stay tracking (it does still allow phone calls and text messages to pop up, the other reason I like to have it on me while I'm working out when P is at school).

I'm totally a paper and pen gal - the calendar on my iPhone is pretty much empty, but my paper planner is used every single day. My mom turned me onto these Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens at Christmas, and I'm hooked (I'm already on my second set because I love them that much). Try them - I promise you won't want to use any other pens!

Confession - we still have a Christmas doormat out on our side entry. Shocking, I know. I'm hiding under a chair right now so I can't feel your judgement. Luckily I came across this doormat from Amazon this week and clicked the "buy it now" so come this weekend we should finally be without shame, ha!

Cheers to the weekend!


Mint Chocolate Treasures

Happy March! I'm not sure about your neck of the woods, but here in Alabama, everything is starting to bloom. As my little guy points out every time we see a bud, "It's a sign that spring is near!" This was no-doubt learned in pre-school, but he's so right - spring is just around the corner! And now that we're in a climate that gives us freezing temperatures and even snow, I appreciate spring so much more.

I got my spring baking on this past weekend, and tweaked a recipe for regular Chocolate Treasures, turning them into Mint Chocolate Treasures. The mint to me just screams spring, and I promise these will put a little pep in your step.

Mint Chocolate Treasures

2 cups (one 12 oz. bag) NestléⓇ TollhouseⓇ Semi-Sweet Morsels
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick butter
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup flour
1 cup NestléⓇ TollhouseⓇ Dark Chocolate Morsels

Melt 12 oz. bag of semisweet chocolate chips, condensed milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, add peppermint extract and flour. Stir to combine, then add dark chocolate chips. Drop onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for three minutes before removing to rack.

The best part about these cookies (besides the ooey gooey chocolaty chewiness) is the fact that they are a cinch to make, and take minimal dishes and utensils - in fact, the entire recipe is done in the same saucepan! Genius!

For further time saving hacks, I always stock up on my NestléⓇ TollhouseⓇ Morsels at Walmart since I can do double duty shopping at the same time (this trip I also purchased a bike lock, dishwasher detergent, and nail polish - winning!). Happy spring baking! 

Miscellany Monday

Happy Monday! We've had such a mix of weather over here lately - rainy one day, sunny the next, so we've been jumping at the chance every warm day to enjoy the moment and get outside.

Parker and I have also been soaking up all the Dada time we can when he's here. Max has already been on more than thirty flights this year, so needless to say he's been gone a lot (and it's even harder on him because he's the one doing the business travel and missing out on family time). This past week, he was out in California while Parker and I kept busy here in Alabama. 

I busted out my paintbrushes (I hadn't touched them in years) and painted this abstract piece with my free nights. 

And this is what Parker looks like when practicing piano... life with an almost five-year-old 😊

We signed this guy up for spring tee-ball this year with the city league instead of the YMCA - can you tell how stoked he is to be starting soon?

In the meantime he keeps busy with indoor faux hockey. Worst mom ever or best mom ever? 

If you're local, Frio's has introduced Girl Scout Cookie popsicles - with actual cookies in them. The Thin Mint flavor? Amaze.

Our other downtown walking destination? Honest Coffee Roasters for coffee for Mama! And update on the pink velvet bow TOMS I ordered a couple weeks ago - they are even more fabulous in person.

A little light reading in anticipation of P's birthday this month.

We spent one of our rainy mornings watching Peter Rabbit at the theatre - Parker and his friends laughed the whole time.

And since then, he's insisted on being called Peter Rabbit. Again, life with an almost five-year-old. 

Max returned home late Thursday night, then Friday morning I woke up and saw this email about Hunter partnering with Target! I'm having flashbacks to the Lilly for Target event and the chaos of the line, and I'm wondering if I'm brave enough to try again. Thoughts?

Friday we met Max for lunch because we weren't about to miss a meal with him now that he was back in the same state!

Our little family of three headed to a Huntsville Havoc hockey game that night - Parker loves to watch the teams practice before the game and he was super excited to be given one of their practice pucks.

I'm just there for the popcorn. #kiddingnotkidding

The Havoc won - wahoo 🎉 And we're just excited to have Dada back at home again.

Have a sweet week!

WDW Day Three | Epcot

Our third straight Walt Disney World park day was our Epcot day. After hitting The Magic Kingdom hard for two days in a row, Epcot was a nice change of pace. Because we planned to get the most out of each day, we opted not to do a park hopper, and just did two dedicated days to The Magic Kingdom and one to Epcot. Had we stayed longer, I would have loved to have added Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom - but for us, The Magic Kingdom and Epcot (and a four night stay) was perfect (there's always next time!).

I had read to allow 40 minutes to travel from The Contemporary Hotel to Epcot via the Monorail (there is a train change involved). Even first thing in the morning, I'd say this was pretty accurate (figure in security checks, waiting for trains, standing in line to enter the park). We left our room around 8AM, and were under the geodesic dome waiting for rope drop by 8:50AM. 

9:00AM Epcot Fast Passes are divided into two tiers - Tier One contains their big three attractions (Test Track, Soarin', and Frozen) and guests are only allowed one Fast Pass from this tier. When I booked our fast passes back in November (exactly when our window opened at 7AM EST sixty days before our trip started), Max requested Test Track (and since Parker hadn't even seen the movie Frozen I thought we could skip that one). That left Soarin' - I figured we could hit it up first thing, but I started to worry when I realized all the conversations around me were buzzing about doing the same exact thing! Everyone had the same strategy to do Soarin' first thing! I knew we were literally standing in the crowd as the ropes dropped, but I was still nervous there would be a wait by the time we got there. We mapped out the route on our app, parked the stroller at the first stroller parking area we saw, and actually made it on quite quickly, pretty much just walking on (by the time we left after we rode, the wait was already an hour).   Soarin' is a flight motion simulator with a mechanical lift system - you literally feel as if you are flying over all the amazing geographical features and landmarks on the globe. It was amazing (don't mind my terrified expression - I thoroughly enjoyed). If you visited Disneyland's California Adventure park before 2016, they had a similar ride that showed just California on the screen, but have since switched to this global version.

9:30AM Living With The Land is located in the same pavilion was Soarin', so we hit that next (and literally walked right on). 

The beginning goes through a history of the globe, and if you look hard you can peek into the rotating Garden Grill restaurant, one of Epcot's character dining options (I spotted Mickey!). The restaurant uses food from the next part of the ride - the creative and cutting edge garden! This was my favorite part of the ride - check out that tomato tree!

10:00AM We walked over to The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and once again got right on (this was another Tier Two attraction, like Living With the Land). After the ride we explored the aquariums!

10:30AM Our first Fast Pass was a 10:00AM-11:00AM for Spaceship Earth. 


While it's a Tier Two attraction, it's the most iconic since it's located inside the geodesic dome, and the line was crazy - even with our Fast Pass we had a bit of a wait. The actual ride was really neat, though, and went through a reenactment of all of human history.

11:30AM We braved the line at Starbucks next (there were actually multiple lines and multiple registers). Any beverage counts as a "snack" on the Disney Dining plan, so I did an Iced Flat White and Max got a Frappuccino. 

And this guy picked out a Mickey cupcake. 

Fueling up (I also snagged some popcorn).

12:00PM It was finally time for our Test Track Fast Pass! Parker had been waiting for this day, as Test Track is the fastest and longest attraction at WDW! 

It did not disappoint! Our car went through a simulation of testing procedures used on concept cars (think lots of sharp turns and stopping), then did a high-speed open-air drive around the outdoor track. I will say that this part made me slightly nauseous (but I'm prone to car sickness).

12:45PM Another Fast Pass from Tier Two: Mission Space! This was a shuttle simulator attraction - and it was legit (we all had seats with screens and harnesses and it definitely looked like we were inside a shuttle). Before we got on, there were multiple warnings to exit if you were scared of closed environments, or if you were prone to motion sickness - but I wanted to put on a brave face for Parker!

We did the less intense "Earth" mission since Parker was a couple inches short of the 44" requirement for Mars (which pulls 2.5 Gs to mimic leaving Earth and reentry). I was good for the majority of the ride and got a bit queasy at the stormy/bumpy part at the end. It was still such a fun attraction and I'm way proud of Parker for going on it!

1:30PM We had successfully hit up every attraction we had planned on doing, so we walked across the lake to experience the World Showcase portion of Epcot.

We stopped in Morocco for lunch and ate at the quick service restaurant Tangierine Café. Max and I both ordered lamb shawarma platters, and they were delish.

Their children's menu was super limited (chicken tenders and cheeseburgers) but with the two platters, there was plenty to share with Sweet P (because there was no way he was missing out on lamb shawarma!).

2:30PM We continued our walk around the World Showcase. Fun fact - each "country" hosts youth from that actual country! They come to work and live for a year then head back home. 

 2:45PM We had completed our loop around all thirteen countries, and wanted to head back to "France" to get a silhouette of Parker cut. We took one of the shuttle boats across the lake instead of walking, and to Parker this was an attraction in of itself.

3:00PM My sisters and I all sat down to do this same thing at Disneyland (back in the 80's), and I knew I just had to get a silhouette done of Parker!

Bruno did such a good job! And just for reference, it seems like we found the one place in all of WDW that did not accept Magic Bands! 

3:15PM We trekked back to the hotel because if we wanted to make it to dinner and closing fireworks (9PM) this guy needed to nap. 

4:30PM He was out like a light and we had to wake him at 6PM to head back to Epcot (I was totally missing the convenience of our days at The Magic Kingdom!).

6:00PM Once again (via Monorail) it took a good forty minutes before we were back in the park.

7:15PM First stop: crepes in France.

Next we headed to Japan where we perused their store - it had everything from Japanese candy to shots of sake at a bar in the back! We all picked out chopsticks to take home as souvenirs and stocked up on some Japanese sweets as well.

8:00PM We had a later dinner reservation at Tokyo dining (little man is obsessed with sushi). We had fun talking with our Japanese waitress, who was headed back to her city (Saporro like the beer!) in just a couple months.

9:00PM We were just finishing dinner when the fireworks began, and though we could see them through the restaurant window, the restaurant balcony was an even better view!

After the fireworks, it was time for the long walk back to the front of the park (budget a good twenty minutes to make it back from the World Showcase). 

9:40PM Since the park actually closed at 9PM, the Monorail was empty by the time we got there. It was a late night for us, but since Parker napped (and we rested) it was totally doable. Looking back, we really knocked out all the rides/attractions at Epcot during just the first half of the day, so this park could definitely be done via park hopper (though you'd miss out on the World Showcase which was so neat). I hadn't expected Epcot to be as thrilling as The Magic Kingdom, but Parker actually declared Test Track as his very favorite ride of the entire trip! Though comparatively, this day was much more chill than The Magic Kingdom, and it was the perfect way to round out our trip.

If you missed it, read about Walt Disney World Day One HERE, and Day Two HERE!
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