Clearwater Beach Uncorked Food and Wine Festival 2017

Coming soon to beautiful Clearwater Beach is the 6th annual beach side festival that showcases the latest and greatest in culinary artistry throughout Tampa Bay! December 2nd and 3rd are the dates, at a new location directly on Clearwater beach just south of pier 60. Celebrate the bay area’s most renowned chefs and breweries in a culinary showcase to delight your taste buds with thousands of other guests. You can purchase tickets here.

Tickets are $65 per person per day for general admission and $95 for VIP. All guests will get a limited edition wine glass, a tote bag, and will get to have unlimited tastings from 1-4 pm in the 30,000 sq foot tasting tent.

 

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the University of South Florida’s Sarasota Manatee School of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership.

 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to put my toes in the sand, and enjoy some amazing food and beverages in the wonderful Florida sunshine! Hurry and get your tickets before they are gone!

Be sure to follow the event on social media at:

  • Twitter: @CBUncorked
  • Instagram: @Clearwaterbeachuncorked

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party With a Toddler or Preschooler

Emma Kate is just now at the age where she “gets” Halloween. She knows all about trick-or-treating, candy, and costumes. So as you can imagine, this kid was PUMPED when she heard we were going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party to go trick-or-treating at her favorite place–“the castle”, as she calls Magic Kingdom.

Being not quite 3 and with a bedtime of 7:45 that we stick to religiously, I was hesitant to keep her out for a party that didn’t start until 7:00, but I’m SO glad I did! We had a blast, and I wanted to share some of my best tips for bringing little ones (like toddlers or preschoolers) to Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party.

1.) Make sure they take a good nap that day, maybe even a late nap: Emma Kate has been on a nap strike at school, so when I picked her up the day of the party I was bummed when I heard she hadn’t napped, and knew it would make her cranky later. However, she thankfully took a late nap in the car on the way to Orlando, which I think helped her to stay up later!

2.) Bring distractions for the kids while waiting for the parade, shows and fireworks: The Boo to You parade, Sanderson Sisters stage show and Hallowishes fireworks are not to be missed, and are my favorite things about the party. But, they involve a little bit of waiting around if you want a good spot. Be sure to bring toys or distractions for the little ones. We were sure my phone was powered up so Emma Kate could play games on it before the fun started, and we had plenty of snacks for distractions as well.

3.) Arrive early: The party technically starts at 7:00, but you can usually get in as early as 4:00 and begin enjoying the park. We arrived early so that we could do a couple of “normal” things like rides before the party started. I didn’t want to waste party time doing things we could do on any visit to Magic Kingdom.

4.) Have a plan: When you get to the park, be sure to grab a special party brochure which will have a map of the park as well as where the treat stations are located, and times and locations for the shows, parade, and dance party. In order to fit it all in we had to make a plan of what time we were going to be where. I feel like if we hadn’t done that, we would have run around in circles and ended up missing things, like getting to dance with Boo, Mike, and Sulley!

5.) Remember, kids are more resilient than you think. We had a plan in place that when Emma Kate started to melt down, my mom was going to take her back to the resort. However, much to our amazement, she was a rock star and ended up staying out with us until after 11:30! She wasn’t fussy at all, and we even had a hard time getting her to fall asleep. Ok, so maybe that was the sugar talking, but she did so much better than I anticipated and it made me realize I just wasn’t giving her enough credit. I can’t believe I ever considered not taking her, she held up just fine, and now we have memories that will last forever.

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Be sure to purchase your tickets to the party here. Some dates sell out, so don’t wait!

Disclosure: I was provided tickets to the party at no cost, however all opinions are my own, and I was not required to write this post. 

My Top Facebook Tips for Bloggers and Businesses

Ah, Facebook. Time to chat about this social media platform. If you have a page for your blog, business, store, etc, unfortunately it has gotten very much pay to play. So if you are trying to sell a product or service, you may need to look into Facebook ads.

However, never fear, there are still some organic ways to grow your following, which we are going to discuss here. Everything is moving towards video, so it reigns supreme as far as getting visibility and gaining traction on Facebook. There are a couple of ways to do video:

First you can post a video you have previously filmed/created, by uploading it from your computer. Or, you can do a Facebook Live session, which will then be saved and stored on your page.

When I start talking about Facebook live, some people start to freak out and get nervous. That’s OK! I still get nervous when posting things live, but with practice and repetition I have gotten better. First try filming yourself talking to the camera and practice what you want to say over and over before hitting that “go live” button. This will help calm you down and make you feel practiced.

Also make sure when you film a video, live or not, that you have good lighting and background, minimal background noise like cars, music, or pets, and try to position the computer or camera so you aren’t looking down at it. It’s NOT a flattering angle. I bought a phone extension that holds my iPhone and docks into my tripod for when I’m shooting with my iPhone. 

Also make sure you interact with your audience if shooting live. If people leave a comment or ask a question be sure to answer!

You can also put links to blog posts or other websites in the comments on your Facebook live. It’s a great way to drive traffic.

A good way to get new followers is to target people who are already liking your stuff. Did you know that you can invite people to like your page directly from a post? Simply click the post and click where it shows the number of people that have liked it, and a list will pop up that shows all the likes, and next to it it will either have a button that says “invite” or it will be greyed out saying “invited” or Liked” if that person already likes your page or if you have invited them already but they haven’t responded to the request.

Another great idea is to tag other pages in your posts so they will be notified that you tagged them. This is a good way to build relationships with other people in your area of expertise.

Something else I would recommend doing is joining some social media Facebook groups. You will find everything from groups that help promote and share each others content to groups that give tips and tricks on growing your following. These can be a valuable resource and a great way to make new friends.

In my e-course, we get more in depth with Facebook, targeting the right followers, and also get into Facebook ads. Click here to get on the list to be notified when the course launches so you can get in at the lowest price!

QOTD: What is your best tip for Facebook? 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. However, I would never mention something I wouldn’t use myself and don’t love. Thanks for supporting THLG! 

Christmas Recap 2016

Christmas is over, my family has gone home, and it’s now officially the most depressing day of the year. Every year after Christmas I always want to instantly take down the decorations, because they just remind me of how far away next Christmas is. Anyway, I thought writing my recap would make me smile because we had a great Christmas.

We have to go back to Friday for the full recap. My dad, sister and I went to Clearwater beach while my mom stayed home and hung out with Emma Kate. I had never been before, and it was a beautiful public beach.

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We walked out on the pier, saw some huge pelicans, and just enjoyed the view.2016-12-23_10-15-18_911

We then went to lunch at Frenchy’s, and the weather was so gorgeous we were able to sit outside and look at the water while we ate.

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We had pizza for dinner, and sat outside on the back porch and enjoyed some Christmas music and wine.

The next day, Christmas eve, my dad, Bobby, me and Emma Kate went to the playground to get out of the house.

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We came back and the cooking and baking marathon began! I tried a couple new things this year that were a hit, as well as some old favorites.

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That afternoon, we got ready for the Christmas eve service at church.

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I loved how awesome it looked when we lit all the candles and sang silent night. This blurry photo doesn’t do it justice. 2016-12-24_16-40-04_445

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We got home, and ate in front of the TV because the Saints were playing Tampa Bay. We wore our new Saints PJ’s and just relaxed which was awesome.

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The Saints won, which made the night even better. Emma Kate went to bed, and the elves got to work!2016-12-24_19-50-03_588 (2016-12-26T00_48_49.502)

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Bobby read the Christmas story from the Bible, and I read ‘Twas the Night before Christmas.

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The next morning, sweet EK slept until almost 8:00! It was nice having some quiet time with coffee and family before she got up to open gifts. She was SO excited to see her Thomas train roller coaster!

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She has been such a good girl not touching the gifts under the tree for weeks, and couldn’t contain her excitement when I told her it was finally time. 2016-12-25_08-04-38_337 (2016-12-26T00_47_18.301)2016-12-25_08-15-33_6672016-12-25_08-28-41_5142016-12-25_08-38-33_747

Santa was good to Emma Kate, and she got tons of toys (thanks grammy and papa.) After gifts were opened, we had our traditional Christmas mimosas and ate a breakfast casserole that I made. 2016-12-25_08-59-18_6302016-12-25_09-27-06_102

My poor dad had foot surgery a couple weeks ago and we confined to his scooter.2016-12-25_11-30-29_028

We had a late lunch since Emma Kate slept so late, but enjoyed some delicious food. 2016-12-25_13-05-25_816

I will say it was SO NICE not having to hurry off and get dressed and go anywhere on Christmas. I stayed in my PJ’s all day with no makeup on and it was so nice and relaxing. 2016-12-25_16-23-48_423

That evening, we sat on the back porch and ate dinner, and then celebrated mom’s birthday! She is a Christmas baby and her real name is Mary. (Fun fact, her parents wanted to spell it “Merry”, but the nurses wrote it wrong on the birth certificate THANK GOODNESS.)

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After EK went to bed, we played Apples to Apples. It had been a few years so it was a fun time.

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The next day, I got up and went to Orange Theory, and then we all headed to the pool. It was a gorgeous 80 degree day, and Emma Kate was so excited we were all there.

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She went down the slide with daddy and aunt Christy, and made us all go over and over again.2016-12-26_11-01-04_963

We just relaxed that afternoon and sat on the back porch drinking wine. I haven’t put on real clothes or makeup since church on Christmas eve, and it’s been awesome. It was the most laid back Christmas we have ever had. Sadly, yesterday morning my parents went home (my sister went home the night before) and now I am trying to get the house back in order and get back to work. Sad smile I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas with friends and family and have lots of great memories to last forever!

QOTD: What was your favorite part of Christmas?

7 Year Blogiversary

Well, with all the moving madness I am a little late, but did you know that I have now been blogging for SEVEN years?!? Looking back, my blog has evolved so much over the years, and it is truly my baby. I have put so much time, love, and many tears into my little corner of the world, and I thank you for taking this journey with me!

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Our first big race expo. Training for the runDisney half is what inspired me to start blogging.

For those of you who may have been here since the beginning, you will remember that this blog started out as Running With Sass, a running/training journal to hold me accountable. I had never blogged before and had zero idea what I was doing. (Heck, there are still days I have no idea what I am doing!) The blogging world has changed so much and some days it’s hard to keep up with all of the “new things” going on with blogs and social media, but I do love it and hope to do it for many more years to come.

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First half marathon

I realized as the years went on that I loved this community, the other bloggers, the readers, and the support. I love encouraging others and helping people, and am so thankful for all of the doors that blogging has opened for me. Heck, Bobby’s new job all came from a connection I never would have made if not for blogging! I owe my little blog so much, and I owe YOU my readers so much! Thank you for hanging in there with me through thick and thin, good times and bad.

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I can’t wait to share our new Tampa adventures with you in 2017 and beyond! Cheers to another year. XOXO.

Goodbye For Now

I have never been good with goodbyes. I prefer to live in denial up until the last possible moment, and then hurry though and pretend it never happened. Unfortunately for me, there have been a lot of goodbyes going around the past couple of weeks.

Today I leave my house. My city. My church. My gym. My friends. My people. Typing that out is even hard for me. I have always been sentimental, but this time it’s worse. Why? Because I have been hiding something from yall since June. JUNE yall. I didn’t say anything for safety purposes, but now that it’s over I feel comfortable being honest, because I feel that it will help you to understand some of the feelings I have now, and will help explain some of my actions as of late.

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Yes Bobby got a new job and yes we are moving to Tampa at the end of the week. But what you didn’t know, is that Bobby moved away to start said job back in June. Yes, Emma Kate and I have been living on our own since this summer.

That’s why I haven’t been around online as much

That’s why EK was in full time daycare since June instead of her usual 3 days a week

That’s why my parents have been in town a lot and I have gone to see them more

That’s why I have been super stressed

That’s why I have been more quiet about personal things

That’s why it’s so much harder for me to leave.

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You guys, the past five months have been hard. REALLY hard. I have shed a lot of tears, felt really lonely, been scared, angry, frustrated, you name it. The week Bobby left everything that could go wrong went wrong (our house got struck by lightning which fried all our internet and TV boxes and broke one of our TV’s… we got rear ended, had to have two repair guys at the house, one of the machines at the shop broke, Bobby’s grandmother passed away, the internet went out at the shop so we couldn’t process payments, and the biggest spider I have ever seen was on my screened in porch and I had to have a neighbor come and kill it for me <—-yes even he said it was the biggest spider he had ever seen!) I had NO idea how I was going to make it until I could move with Bobby. Thankfully, not all the weeks were quite so eventful, but that first week had me questioning everything.

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Out of all of this there has come some good, which is why it’s so hard for me to say goodbye. After that first awful week, I learned something about myself. I learned that I am capable of handling way more than I ever thought I could. Instead of relying on Bobby to take care of the “yucky stuff”, I had to handle everything on the home front and storefront plus my two jobs I already had. It sucked a lot of days, but I proved to myself just how strong I am. My independence has grown by leaps and bounds, and I just feel better about myself and my abilities as a whole. If you would have asked me back in June if I could face all the challenges that were to come, I would have said no. But that’s the funny thing about it. You always think you can’t handle something until you are thrust into it with no other choice…and then you realize that you CAN do those hard things. I had to keep going for the sake of my family and my child, and I am so proud of all I was able to accomplish and handle. (Also I have a huge newfound respect for single parents and military families!)

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I also had to rely on my friends a lot during this time. I got really close to friends from church and my gym, and that’s why it is so much harder to say goodbye to them. They were my rock, my sounding board, and a lot of times the only adult interaction I had in a day. They took care of me and made sure I was doing ok, and became my family. I know we will still talk and text and hopefully occasionally see each other, but it’s just not the same.

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As I packed up Emma Kate’s room a few days ago, it hit me that it would be the last night she would spend in her room, in the house we brought her home to from the hospital. I just stayed in her room and cried y’all. Don’t get me wrong, this move is GOOD, and I know it’s what God has for us, but that doesn’t make change and goodbye any easier. I know that a house is just a house, and it’s the people that make it home. The memories inside the walls will always stay with me, but it’s still hard to let go.

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I am however excited for new memories, new adventures, and new friends. They will never replace the old ones, but I can make room for the new, too.

So even though you didn’t know it, thank you for hanging with me while I did life alone for a little while. Thanks for not leaving my little blog, and for being understanding of what I was going through (even though you didn’t know it haha). It’s funny, I tried SO hard to not make it obvious Bobby wasn’t here, and not many people caught on thankfully (or at least they didn’t tell me they knew). He came back into town twice, and when he was here I was sure to post a lot of pictures so people would think he was still at home! If you go back to my Instagram feed, you will notice he is nowhere to be found except for during two weekends. I may have had to do some tricky things to keep my secret, like setting up a barstool outside and a self timer on my phone for my Sunday church photos, but hopefully you all will forgive me. Smile 

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The store and the house have sold, so I am now excited for us to be back together as a family in our new home in our new city and state. A fresh start is always good, and may be just what we need. So for now, to my friends in Madison, I prefer to not say goodbye but just “see you later” and I love you all. Thanks for being you, you all know who you are.

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QOTD: How are you at goodbyes? Have you ever had a keep a secret from people online/social media?

Adventures in House Hunting + a Hurricane

Last Tuesday, my friend Kelley and I left Mississippi bright and early and headed to Florida. We were going to check out homes in neighborhoods where Bobby and I are going to move, which is TAMPA! I already shared this news yesterday with my email subscribers, but figured it was time to let you guys in on it as well. 🙂 We are looking north of Tampa, to be precise. So anyway,  we drove, and we drove, and we drove. It was a gorgeous day, so it was hard to believe a hurricane was coming.

How cool is this rest stop? It has a “stretch your legs” trail!

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We finally made it to Clearwater after 10:00 at night. We stayed at the Sheraton Sand Key and really liked it. It’s right on the beach (well you have to walk out a bit but no big deal). Too bad it was chilly and overcast. It didn’t stop us from sitting out there a few hours anyway!

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We eventually ventured up to the pool before grabbing lunch and meeting with my awesome realtor.

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Our plan was to look at homes all afternoon and into the early evening since we were going to head out Thursday afternoon instead of Friday because of hurricane Matthew. We saw some great houses and neighborhoods. After awhile they just all start running together though!

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This pool was awesome but unfortunately the rest of the house was not.

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How cool is this kid’s super hero room?!?

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Loved this kitchen but the neighborhood would be way too long of a commute for Bobby.

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We even rode a golf cart in one neighborhood.

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That night we hit up a restaurant in Clearwater before turning in for the night.

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The next day we were up early again for more house hunting. The Sheraton was so awesome and let us cancel out last night and refunded us no problem because of the hurricane. It was super simple and we were so grateful.

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We loaded up my SUV and were just going to meet the realtor at the first house that morning. Well, the directions I put into my map app on my iPhone were not exactly right. They took us through these back roads and down a dirt road where we came across this gentleman. We then went down ANTOHER dirt road and Siri told us to get out and walk to our destination. OMG. I felt like we were in a horror movie where the two young girls get led down a series of winding dirt roads to their deaths. We couldn’t stop laughing!

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We finally made it back to a main road and found where we were going, but whew what a way to start the morning. We saw gorgeous new neighborhood and some model homes, and then made it out of the area heading north just as the first rain bands started.

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Someone please explain the below photo?

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We had a LOT of traffic headed up 75 to I-10, and I-10 was basically gridlocked all the way to Talahassee. What should have taken us 6 hours took well over 7, and I was over it by the time we finally got to Destin around 7:15 that evening. We very much deserved good food and drinks so we headed to Rockin’ Tacos which was delicious.

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The next morning, we woke up to SUNSHINE! We were finally going to get some beach time. We were legit out on the beach by 7:45 in the morning, and we laid in the sun until around 12:15 when we finally packed up the car and had to head back to Mississippi.

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Hello sugar white sands! Oh how I missed you.

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It was totally worth driving in the traffic to get to Destin for a morning at the beach. Also it was nice to break up the 11 hour drive into two parts coming back.

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My friend Kelley was SO super sweet to spend her vacation time with me looking for houses and neighborhoods. She in her last year of residency at the hospital and could have been doing a million other things with her limited time off, but she chose to help me out.  I think I may have killed anyone else in the car for that long but we talked, listened to awesome playlists, and made it work. We also may have eaten at Chipotle twice. She had never been so I thought it was necessary. We had a great time and now I feel more confident as we narrow down where to live in just a few short weeks, so hopefully our house sells soon!

QOTD: What is your favorite beach? Do you like house hunting?

Working out on Vacation

Ah, vacation. A great time to connect with family and friends, eat amazing food, and go somewhere new. Luckily, you can do all of these things and also not forget about your health and your workouts. Here are 5 tips for working out on vacation that have worked for me over the years. I leave for a trip in less than two months, so I’m gearing up for my workouts while I’m away!
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1.) Don’t Stress out about it. You are on vacation! If you don’t workout as hard or as much, it’s ok! Just do what you can, when you can.

2.) Take advantage of your new surroundings. One of the reasons I love working out on vacation is that it’s somewhere new to run, with new scenery and places to visit. It makes the workout go by faster!

                                            running on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay

3.) Mix it up: If you have access to a pool, swim or tread water while your family catches some rays. Or, you could go for a walk and explore a new city, your resort, or the beach. Surf or snorkel in a tropical paradise. Play golf on a new to you course, or make new friends and play beach volleyball.

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4.) Check out the hotel gym. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised at the nice equipment or a great view out the windows. It makes a difference!

                              Fitness center for the Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts in WDW

Playing beach volleyball with some strangers in Florida

5.) Workout early: Get your workout done before your day starts so then you have extra energy and don’t have the thought of exercise weighing on you all day. Then you can just focus on your family, friends, and creating memories.

                                               Getting an early start on vacation, as the sun comes up

QOTD: What is your favorite vacation workout?

2017 Disney World Packages

Guess what? You can now book a Walt Disney World room or vacation package for dates in 2017! (499 days in advance, so currently as of end of June I can book through the end of October/beginning of November). 2017 Disney packages came out yesterday, and I have already been busy quoting for my clients.

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The best part about these packages is that it only requires a $200 deposit (for room only it’s a deposit of one night of the price of the room + tax) that’s it! Also, the balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel! You can make changes, switch dates, cancel, etc. up until that point.

I have been booking Disney travel for my clients over six years and would love to plan a vacation for your family. Common misconception: It does not cost you anything extra to book through me. Why wait on hold on the phone or stress about how the website works, or how to get discounts when I can do it for you, and give you all of my best tips and knowledge from years of experience? I can make it easy for you!

Heather plan your next DCL vacation

I can also book your Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line vacation for you, as well as Universal Studios Orlando. Simply email me for a free no obligation quote. I would love to get you started or answer any questions you may have. [email protected] is where you can find me. Let’s get to planning, I can’t wait for you to experience the vacation of a lifetime!

QOTD: Are you planning to visit Disney in 2017?

I’m Still Alive

Hey guys! I really can’t remember the last time I went two days without a blog post! I’m trying hard to extend some grace to myself as yesterdays no-post was scheduled, but today’s was not. Some things came up that took up my time and I am sorry! BUT I promise I have been working on something I am really excited about that will (hopefully) be ready Monday. See ya tomorrow, Have a great Thursday!