Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Maine in Winter: Top 10 For Families

My family has started to make an annual trek to southern Maine for a weekend getaway before the holidays.  While, Maine might seem like a place to stop and enjoy a relaxing summer getaway, wintering up here is equally beautiful and fun (and prices can't be beat)!

1. Marginal Way
This approximately 1 mile walk along the water in Ogunquit, is hands down one of my favorite places in the world. It is impossible to not feel the power of the ocean as you stroll here. When we come to Maine I feel home when we stop here. You can enjoy scenic views, stroll with your family, and do some seaside exploring here.

2. Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude
This sweet little town is lit up like something out of Americana history! And if you time your trip right you can visit during the tree lighting and fireworks celebration (usually the beginning of December). I love the way it feels here! We always make sure to stop in the candy shop, candle shop, and general store here!

3. Nubble Lighthouse
This is my very favorite lighthouse and you can park just across the water from it and the a short beach stroll here.  Even if you only have time to stop and enjoy it for a few minutes, it is worth the stop to check it out, hear about the rich history, and maybe snap a few pictures.

4. Seashore Trolley Museum
Although this place is open year around, at Christmas your $10 per person trolley ride includes warm baked cookies and hot cocoa! And the trolley cars are decorated for the holidays with fresh wreaths and holiday lights!

5. Wells Beach
I love a beautiful beach any time of year, and this is no exception! I have never been here in the summer so I will leave it up to Trip Advisor to share some info and I will just share the love!

6. Weathervane Restaurant (and Outlet Shopping)
One of our family traditions is a stop for dinner at The Weathervane.  Located right near the outlets in Kittery, this is a chain but it is located right across the street from one of our favorite stores in Maine: The Kittery Trading Post. If these aren't up your alley, there are lots of other great options located within the outlets right here!

7. Fort William Park, Ruins
Although they are covered in graffiti and you have to be careful when exploring, our kids have the best time checking out the Battery Keys! The batteries are on the same park property where you can explore natural walking paths, breathtaking views of the ocean, and spot lots of great wildlife. You can also visit the lighthouse featured next!

8. Portland Head Lighthouse
My second favorite lighthouse to visit, and right in the same park at Fort William, parking can be hard but it really is beautiful! The last time we stopped here we spotted seals of the coast in the water!
As seen from the battery!
9. Cape Whoopies
We stumbled upon this adorable little stop on our way to exploring in Port Elizabeth and it did not disappoint! Amazingly friendly owner and workers, windows to watch bakers, and kombucha on tap! Can you ask for anything more?

10. The Sweatshirt Shop
We have to give a shoutout to our favorite shop- the Sweatshirt Shop in Wells! We stop here for souvenirs each trip and they are priced great and wonderful quality!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide: Board Games to Keep Any Kid Busy!

I was ecstatic when Wonder Forge/Ravensburger sent over some games for our Holiday Gift Guide, they all looked amazing and after playing a few rounds with my family I think we all realized how quality, authentic family fun beats anything we can get out of digital media today. 

The first game we checked out was based on The Incredibles 2 and called Save the Day. The idea in this game is that all players work together to eliminate the threats to the city. We played two rounds of this one because we did not clean up the city as fast as we wanted during round one! I think this game is great for all ages. My family consists of a 10 year old, 12 year old, and 14 year old (plus two 35 year old adults) and although I think younger ages would take longer I think there is playability for all kids!

Next up, we tried out Pictopia which is a family favorite at our house! We had a copy a while ago, that the kids lost most of the cards to so we couldn't play anymore.  I will say that even though it is irrelevant to the game itself, the packaging has changed and I really love the new box/board. It is packaged really pretty! In this game, you basically see a picture of characters from a film or show and then you get to gauge your own knowledge and make a bet before being asked a question. This is so great for all ages because of the picture element. We have enjoyed it for years. You certainly have to be a Disney family for this one to work but it truly is full of fun! 

Last but not least, by far our favorite game of the night was Villainous. This game is probably better for older kids, its a little more complicated since each person is assigned a different villain (I was Ursula) and has their own tasks to complete to win the game.  There is a chance younger kids could "team up" with an adult to make it easier but the overall gameplay is more complex.  The design and art on this game is so beautiful and it was clear that it was put together with are from start to finish. We have been a family that quite enjoyed the Descendants flicks and loves to route for Jack Skellington when we watch Nightmare Before Christmas, so this game was right up our alley! 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Disney World Cinnamon Roll Recipe!

Magic Kingdom is one of my family's favorite places on the planet! We never miss a chance to walk right down the middle of Main Street U.S.A.! And we love to stop at the Main Street Bakery for cinnamon rolls and Starbucks or sneak out of rain showers at Gaston's for cinnamon rolls and Lefou's Brew! When my husband and I were up at 4am prepping our turkey this Thanksgiving (we smoke our turkey) I knew I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep so I buckled down and made my own homemade Disney Cinnamon Rolls thanks to a recipe from Disney Food Blog! I had the perfect amount of time to make and bake these so we could eat them warm while we watched the parade!

I have edited the recipe below from the one posted above with my own tips and tricks! I highly recommend using a stand mixer for this recipe, I did not get many pictures but I did send a few snapchats to my stepdaughter as she slept while I baked :)

Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Yield: 12-16 rolls
Prep time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Baking time: 20 to 30 minutes

1/2 cup warm water
2 packages yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (room temperature)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1. In small bowl, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Stir until dissolved and set aside.
2. In large bowl, mix pudding according to package instructions with milk.
3. Add 1/2 cup melted butter, egg, and salt. Mix well, then add yeast mixture and mix well.
4. Gradually add flour and knead until smooth.
5. Place in a very large greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (approximately 30-45 minutes).
6. Punch down and let rise again for second time (approximately 30 more minutes).
7. Roll dough on a very large floured surface. Dough should roll out to a long rectangle and dough should be around 1/2" thick.
8. Take the 1 cup of melted butter and use a pastry brush to spread over entire dough surface (pictured above left).
9. In small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over top of buttered dough (pictured above right).
10. Roll dough up like a jelly roll.
11. Measure dough every 2 inches and cut with a knife.
12. Take each roll into the palm of your hand and gently pack the roll (this keeps it from coming apart during baking).
13. Place each roll in a buttered baking pan and allow to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
14. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown in color, about 15-20 minutes.
15. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for icing and mix until smooth.
16. Spread icing on the warm rolls.

My buns ready to bake!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Disney Lovers!

If you are looking for gifts for the Disney lover in your life, this holiday season is chock full of amazing choices! In the "books we love" category check out these three amazing choices!

First, From All of Us to All of You: The Disney Christmas Card is sure to wow anyone who loves Disney Animation, Walt, or the history of the conglomerate. This coffee table book even comes with replica cards attached inside the book for you to keep or send! 

Practically Poppins in Every Way is a great addition to anyone's Jolly Holiday! This large hard cover completely covers the art of Mary Poppins- from book to stage to screen! If there is a Mary Poppins lover in your family, there would be no greater gift than this book (as well as maybe a copy of the awesome film Saving Mr. Banks which is one of my favorite Disney films to date)! 

And last but certainly not least, the main mouse himself turned 90 this year and with that came the release of a coffee table book called The Art of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse that features amazing artist interpretations of Mickey from some features, famous, and long working Disney artists! I don't want to spoil my review with a sneak peak! These Disney art books never disappoint! 

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