9 Budgeting Tips for Your Disney Vacation

9 Budgeting Tips for Your Disney Vacation

Well December saw a lot of expenses for us. Aside from spending over $1000 on food at the grocery store, we decided to pony up for a family membership at the YMCA to ring in the new year. That’s another $90/month. Then we finally bit the bullet and bought a new hot tub cover which dinged our bank account for another $400 or so.

But that’s nothing compared to what we spent on our Disneyworld vacation. With adult tickets hovering over $110 for a single day, the cost can add up real quick. A trip to Disney World for a week for a family of four or five can easily match what you’d spend to go to France for the same amount of time.

So how do you save enough to go do Disney? Here are a few tips.

  • Check out a budgeting blog, like this one, or this one. These guys are obsessed with finding ways to save money and help you figure out how to better manage your savings and income streams. Can’t say enough about them and how much they’ve helped us.
  • Look for travel deals on certain websites.
  • Check out http://www.mousesavers.com/ which posts tons of helpful coupons
  • Consider a trip to Disneyland instead of Disney World. The difference? Disneyland is usually frequented by casual visitors who live nearby, while Disney World is much more a destination type place that involves more expensive hotels, plane fares and dining.
  • Check Disney for deals. While they don’t offer the craziest discounts, it’s worth checking http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/special-offers for the latest offers.
  • Buy a multi-day pass. If you’re going to be there for 3-5+ days, you can get a multi day pass that considerably drops the price from $89 to a more stomach friendly $50 or so.
  • Go in the off season, between September and January. This is when hotel rooms are less expensive.
  • Make your own meals. Eating out three times per day adds up real fast. Make some quick pb&j sandwiches and pack loads of snacks to fend off the hunger pangs (and dollars).
  • Get the Disney hotel perks. Yes, hotels with “Disney” attached to their name usually have plenty of perks like free/discounted parking, cheaper meals, and free shuttles to get you in and out of the park easily.

I usually get decent customer service in Disney and this last trip was no exception! The first time someone went above and beyond for us was at about 11:30pm on a Sunday evening. We were at Bay Lake Tower so any items we needed had to be bought at the Contemporary. I realized we had no ointment for sores and Olivia had a sore that needed to be tended to. At 11:30 at night, where was I going to get this?

I called the front desk and they actually had a night manager come to the Pepper Market to open it up for us. Since it was late, he could not accept payment so he just gave us the ointment. (Cost was around $7) How is that for awesome customer service?! The next morning we did stop there and pay for it. Hey, karma and all that…

On our last full day there, we went to the Magic Kingdom for the evening. One of my husband’s favorite rides is The Carousel of Progress so of course we went on it. The bad news? He lost his phone on the ride. He reported the phone missing and they gave him a number to call the next morning. The next morning came and they had not recovered his phone. Unfortunately, we had to go home the next day so he figured it was gone for good. That is when panic set in.

We spent a small fortune in Disney this year because we took extra people so we really had no money to go buy a new phone. We were looking at about $800.00 to get a new iPhone. The first thing that came to mind was raiding the emergency fund but it never got to that.

Fortunately we got a call from? Disney Lost & Found! They located his phone on the ride Monday morning and they were in the process of mailing it back to him for FREE since we already came home!

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Keep Your Wrapping Paper Organized

Keep Your Wrapping Paper Organized

If you’re like me, you probably have a bunch of rolls of birthday, wedding, or Christmas wrapping paper scattered about under beds or in closets. I recently discovered the world of wrapping paper organizers. Don’t let your confusion about which wrapping paper organizer will fit your needs stop you. There are really just four main types, the hanging wrapping paper organizer, the vertical wrapping paper organizer, the under-the-bed or portable wrapping paper organizer and the cart wrapping paper organizer. Before you purchase one, take a look around your house to see what type of space you have available.

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Our Frog Project

Our Frog Project

Last month, frogs laid eggs in rainwater on our pool cover. Before draining the cover, we scooped up the eggs in a couple of large plastic cups. The next day we had a couple of cups of tadpoles! We made habitat from a plastic bin and turn it up under a deck canopy to shade from the Sun. The habitat also included large rocks and floating grasses, for our ninety tadpoles.

We fed them flies, mosquitoes, worms, and grubs based on our research of the diet of these tadpoles. During the project (it would have made a great science experiment), we discovered that the tadpoles would eat pill bugs and earthworms, preferring them to decompose a little before eating them. Three weeks into the project, we strained out the tadpoles to remove some mosquito larvae. While this reduced the mosquito population by seventy-five percent when we counted tadpoles there are forty-five left.

In the four-eight weeks that it took for the frogs to mature we continue to feed them every two days. We put the food in the corner by opening the screen to keep mature mosquitoes from escaping. At this point, we were down to twenty-four tadpoles.

What was odd is that although the numbers were down, there were no dead tadpoles floating around. The 25 tadpoles remaining swimming around were getting big and healthy. Apparently, they had eaten the other tadpoles while leaving the mosquito larvae alone.

I know this all sounds gross and most people simply want to know how to keep frogs OUT of a pool, but we found it fascinating and just ran with it.

By week six we had twenty tadpoles swimming around the habitat none of them had legs yet. At week seven the tadpoles were the size of a pencil eraser. On week 8 one tadpole had grown legs and a long tail. However, the rest were still legless well fed.

Before the end of week eight, one of the tadpoles finished developing into a frog. It was still small nor was it as big as some of the other tadpoles. We removed the screen so that the Frog could get out of the habitat.

However, it made analog we had placed in the habitat for several hours before moving to a location on the habitat lip overshadowed by a potted plant. Or the next morning if I was gone and there were seventeen tadpoles left. Among those left two had grown legs. The first frog left just one day short of two months after hatching from an egg.

By week nine we started off the week by cleaning the habitat. We used an insect net to carefully scoop up each tadpole placing them into a holding container. The mosquito larvae were also scooped-out and put in a separate container. At this point, not only were there still seventeen tadpoles left, but six of them had sprouted legs. The next morning the frogs had moved out of the water.

By week ten, there only ten tadpoles left. Because tree frogs are nocturnal some of them probably left the habitat good night. This morning we photographed one rather agile frog hop onto a branch, still sporting a stub of a tail.

During week eleven we checked the habitat each morning finding frogs on the container sides. Potted plants at the corner of the habitat helped the frogs could mature in the backyard. Because mosquitoes continued to play the rags in the habitat we had to transfer the tadpoles to a clean container.

By week twelve we were only a few days short the three months for our tadpole project. During the last couple of weeks one or two frogs good left the tadpole habitat each day. With no more than one of them staying on a potted plant long enough to be documented.

Because tree frogs are green and brown, they were hard to see on these plants. For three days, we had only one tadpole left that was noticeably smaller than the rest. While this one is not yet growing legs, its appetite is good allowing it to grow to a normal size four its stage of development.

“Stubby”

Sadly during week thirteen, the last tadpole died quietly in the habitat. It was interesting to watch these frogs grow from hatchlings to mature frogs. During the three months since I found the tadpole eggs, out of ninety tadpoles, only sixteen survived.

The survival rate in the wild is probably smaller as these tadpoles have a tough life just trying to survive. One thing that shows is why they produce so many eggs, to begin with. That is because the mortality rate among tadpoles is so high.

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10 Easy Rules to Keep Your House Clean and Organized

10 Easy Rules to Keep Your House Clean and Organized

For those of you that know me personally, you know what an organization freak I am. Every now and then, someone asks me how I do it. Instead of spending a couple hours going over every single thing, I decided to make a list of my most important cleaning and organization rules.

When you see something out of place, take the 2 seconds it would take to fix it. For example, each time you put the groceries away is a perfect time to clean out the fridge. Throw away the empty carton of eggs before putting the new one in, pour the last of the ranch dressing into the new bottle you just purchased, wipe the spilled milk crusties off the shelf before replacing the new gallon, throw out the left-overs from last week, etc. Another example: when you’re having the children put their laundry away, teach them how to put the clothes nicely in their drawers in neat piles and fix those clothes that got unfolded in that mornings rush hour!

When ever you buy something new, throw out the old. Simple rule: when you buy a new pair of black pumps, get rid of the old pair. When you buy a new bra, get rid of one old one. When you get new socks, get rid of any with holes. I still remember when we purchased a new silverware set. For some reason we kept the old one. In addition, we inherited an antique set from my grandma. Altogether, we probably had 10 different types of forks in the kitchen. Why?

Never put anything away dirty. This is especially important in the kitchen. Never put your appliances away dirty. After each use wipe off the entire appliance with a clean rag, and don’t forget the cord.

Have a place for your dish rags. There is nothing worse than the smell of a dirty dish rag! Purchase a few hooks for underneath your kitchen sink. After each use: rinse, ring and hang your rag on the hook. This allows you to use the rag for 2-3 days without the stench. Also, keep a set of disinfecting wipes handy for bacteria.

Keep cleaning supplies in every bathroom and your kitchen. Keeping paper towels, disinfecting wipes, window cleaner, toilet cleaner under each sink allows you to clean on the spot. This is why: bathroom mirrors get dirty very easily, yet on the way to get the cleaner from the hall closet, you get side track by another project and the mirrors don’t get done. But if you had the cleaner under the sink, how easy would it be to clean the mirror real quick as soon as you splashed toothpaste all over it? By the way, a clean mirror can fool any one in to thinking your bathroom is clean! (I only keep paper towels & disinfecting wipes under my kitchen sink). Make sure to “child proof” those cabinets if you have little children at home.

squeegee-on-showerUse a squeegee on your shower after each use. If each person who uses the shower would take the time to do this, it would cut down on hard water stains. Which means, much less time scrubbing the shower. Plus, your shower can go a little longer between scrubbings.

Never go to bed in a mess and never leave home in a mess. You get home from work, make dinner, and just want to relax. That’s fine. However, don’t go to bed leaving clutter every where. Then you have to wake up to the mess, and you find your day has already started off on the wrong foot. Take the time after dinner to do the dishes. Make the kids help. Then set the timer for 15 minutes and have all family members help straighten up. You will be amazed at how much gets done in 15 minutes with every family member helping! The same rule applies when you leave the house in the morning (it shouldn’t be that bad if your family did the 15 minutes the night before) and before you leave to go out of town.

Make your bed every day! Every bed in the house should be made every day. Even children as small as 3 can help make their own bed. Make it part of the morning routine. As soon as each member of the family rolls out of bed, the first thing they do is make their bed!

Prepare the night before. Check your calendar, then get lunches made, lay out clothes, load the backpacks, etc. Any thing that can be done the night before—do it! Mornings run so much smoother if things are prepared and there is no reason for panic.

Choose a mop cloth that can be washed. Don’t use the traditional sponge or rag mops. Then you have to find a place for them to hang dry, they are very hard to keep sanitary, and you must replace them often. Plus, you have to have a mop bucket or you use your sink…YUK! By choosing a mop cloth that is detachable, you can machine wash and dry the pad. You don’t have to waste money buying disposable or replacement pads.

Bonus Tip!

Relax. Don’t stress about not being the perfectly organized wife. Treat yourself at the spa or salon every now and then. Personally, I’m not in the position to spend a couple hundred dollars at a trendy salon. In fact, I’m a big fan of MasterCuts salons. They’ll do anything from a simple cut to coloring, highlights, and even waxing. You can’t beat MasterCuts prices and I’ve always left happy and feeling like a new woman!

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Preventing and Dealing With Kitchen Fires

Preventing and Dealing With Kitchen Fires
Recently, my sister dealt with this very subject. Fortunately, she knew what to do. Fires are very unfortunate. They cause the loss of property and loss of lives. If you make it out with only a few injuries, you are very lucky. The thing is, most people take the subject of house fires for granted and feel that it can never happen to them. Unfortunately, house fires happen everyday. The good news is, they can be prevented.

When it comes to fires, the kitchen is the prime starting point. Cooking, making coffee and other similar activities can quickly accelerate into a disastrous and consuming house fire. Since many fires originate from stove tops, there is a chance of fire every time a meal is prepared.

Kitchen fire prevention

There are many ways to prevent a kitchen fire before it ever starts. They can turn into raging monsters that are hard to tame. If you are careful, you will never have to encounter that monster. A few simple steps are all that is needed to be the safest cook in the kitchen.

  • Never leave the kitchen when cooking. Foods can quickly overflow or burn if you forget that you are cooking. Don’t be surprised; it happens more often than you think. Even though you may have loads of things to do, it pays to stand close by while cooking.
  • Turn off the coffee pot. When you are not using the coffee pot to brew a delicious cup of Joe, you should unplug and turn the machine off.
  • Pay attention to what you are wearing while cooking. Long flowing sleeves or extremely long necklaces can cause complications while preparing the meal. Your clothing can easily catch on fire and cause injury. Garage Tool Advisor recently posted a great article on fire safety in the kitchen mixed in with some of their tool reviews. Be sure to take a look.

Taming the fire

fire extinguisherFires can spread out of control in a very short time. Since something went wrong during your food preparation or when you left the coffee pot on all night, you will may be faced with an accident. If there is a fire in your kitchen, then you need to know what to do.

  • A fire has erupted from a grease spill. Your first instinct may be to douse the fire with water. This is the worst mistake you could make. The best thing to use to put out a grease fire, is salt. Salt actually smothers the flame, taking away oxygen. A fire cannot live without oxygen.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby. This item is one of the best safety tools you can buy and can save your kitchen and leave you with only a burned pan. You must make sure that you know how to use the fire extinguisher before you attempt to put the fire out. If you don’t, you should call the fire department immediately.

Yes, fires can be devastating, but you can prevent them with a little common sense. If you find yourself dealing with a fire and not sure what too do, call the fire department and leave the battle to the experts. After all, the kitchen fire can be fatal and it should never be taken for granted.

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