Sunday, May 27, 2012

Disney: Day 1!

      In March we went to Disney World for the second time. The first time we went was when my husband was home from Iraq for R&R and our kids were then four (just turned so) and 18 months. This time we took our daughter for her birthday during spring break and the kids were 6 (just turned so) and 4, so we got to experience it a little differently.
      The first time we stayed at Shades of Green and we really enjoyed our stay there. This time, we decided to stay at Pop Century. We figured the kids would enjoy it and even though it was a value resort and didn’t have as many of the luxuries as a lot of the other properties, we’d only be there to sleep anyway. Right? I mean, that’s what everyone else says. Wrong. Well, I guess I can thank Disney, because of our experience there, they successfully managed to get us into their Vacation Club…and this was all my husband’s doing. He disliked Pop Century so much (okay, so did I) that he bought a Disney vacation for us for at least once a year for the next 50 years. J Slightly ironic, but hey, I’m not complaining! Of course, we won’t be staying at Pop Century again. Our home resort is now the Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge and we couldn’t be happier about that.
     So what was wrong with Pop Century? For us, we stayed in the 50’s with the big bowling pins. Walking into the room, it was certainly like it hadn’t been touched since the 50's. The smell was just horrid. Old doesn’t cover the smell. There was rust around the faucets in the bathroom and sinks. The mattresses were bricks. We had cockroaches in the room. There were very few washers and dryers in the laundry facilities. The bathroom beside the main pool was disgusting. I was quite appalled. I had only been to Disney once before, but I had nothing short of an exemplary experience then.
The staff was very accommodating and friendly, however. They brought a refrigerator to our room without charge and drew little mickeys and notes on the notepads for the kids. They gave us a ground level room so we wouldn’t have to walk as far with the kids. We were also poolside at the bowling pin pool. We did get into the pool one time, and it was heated and very clean, shockingly enough. So there were a few pluses, but nothing could ever make me want to stay there again. All in all, though, it looks like as a Disney frequent flyer, the DVC is the way to go. (They have an AWESOME military special!)
     So enough about the room. I didn’t even plan to dwell that much on it, but you know how I get sometimes. Our first day at Disney, after driving 16 hours, was spent at Downtown Disney. 
(one of my favorite topiaries at Disney)
I planned all our days around the extra magic hours (even though those tend to be more crowded days, I work out every detail prior to and we NEVER wait in any line more than 15 minutes. I’m kind of good that way), so it was up first. I absolutely LOVE Downtown Disney. We went back several times, sometimes after a day at the park, sometimes to just shop some more, sometimes to eat.

Quick Breakdown:
1)                 Pleasure Island and Marketplace (it’s the place to be with little ones)
2)          World of Disney (Largest Disney character store in the world)

3)            The Disney Couture store
4)              Lego Imagination Center (Photos at the end)
5)           Disney’s Pin Traders
6)            Disney’s Day’s of Christmas
7)            Ghiradelli Soda Fountain
8)            Goofy’s Candy Co.
9)             Mickey’s Pantry
10)     TrenD (Oh, Disney Couture!)
11)              The “fireflies” in the trees once it gets dark J

1)                 Earl of Sandwich
2)          Earl of Sandwich (it’s so good, it needs to be here twice)
3)            EoS (code for Earl of Sandwich, that’s how good it is) We come back to DD just for this place! My husband gets the Hawaiian BBQ and I get the Full Monty. The kids grilled cheese on ciabatta is delish too!
4)              Raglan Road Irish Pub (Fish and Chips, need I say more?)

What I’d Love to ~SOMEDAY~
          2)Planet Hollywood
          3) Cirque De Soleil
          4) Fulton’s Crab House
          5) Character’s in Flight (courage pending)
          6) LittleMissMismatched
          7) Make my own fragrance at Basin
          8) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
          9) Ridemakerz (for the boys)

What I ~Dis~like:
1)                 The crowds at night (a lot of people flock there at night).
2)          There is a lot more drinking and we’ve seen quite a few adults completely trashed, to be quite honest, once it gets up in the night. However, there is a ton of security, and we’ve never seen a scene.

One of the funnest parts of Downtown Disney is the Lego Store. They have so many awesome, huge sculptures made from legos. Here are some of our favorites.

 (Putting together their own Lego people)

(Their personal Lego people)

At the end of the day, I'd say certainly make time for Downtown Disney. It's fun and the kids love all the giant characters and fun stuff in the stores. 
So what's your favorite part of Downtown Disney? Or place to eat? Any recommendations? 
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Talk to ya'll next time about our second day: Magic Kingdom! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beauty Army Box-May

I’ve already given the spill about the beauty products in my neck of the woods. Or lack there-of.  Making my beauty box subscriptions completely necessary (husband, I'm talking to you). I’ve talked about my Birchbox subscription, which you can find one of my boxes here and even a review on one of my favorite products from one of the boxes here. I also get another box every month that I’ve mentioned in passing. The one I want to introduce you to today is Beauty Army. It is a beauty sample subscription service, like Birchbox, where you pay a monthly fee for some more high-end beauty samples that are new or maybe hard to find. Beauty Army is a few bucks more than Birchbox, sitting at 12 dollars currently, but what I especially like about them is that you get to pick your samples. Once you sign up, you can take a beauty profile survey that best matches your answers with the samples they currently have. However, if you just want a surprise box, like Birchbox, then don’t pick your samples and the Beauty Army team will put together a kit for you. One of the bonuses is that if you decide you don’t like what they have to offer that month, or don’t want a box that month, you can opt out and skip. Pretty easy, peasy, right? J

So, without further ado, here’s what I choose for my May box!

First off, every month your samples come in a sleek, black, sturdy box like this. Inside is a super cute, pink camo print.

This was one of my favorite items in the box this month. This is a FULL SIZE product that sells for 20 dollars. It's called the clickR Skincare Acne Spot Serum. It works wonders! When it says results in 24 hours, it's not joking. I love the size of it too. It's about the size of a sharpie, so it fits in your purse or makeup bag without taking up any room. PLUS it's makeup friendly! Sample Value: $20.00

This is the Weleda Almond Cleansing Lotion. I've not had the opportunity to use this yet, but I've used this brand before and loved it; so I'm looking forward to trying it. This is supposed to be good for sensitive skin and is a "natural" face wash.
Product size: 2.5 fl oz, $19.00; Sample size: 0.34 oz, Value: $2.58

Next is the MAD Skincare Eye Defense Shielding Serum. This is also another product that I have yet to use, but I know the brand, know it's reliable, so I'm excited to try it. This is supposed to be light weight and is supposed to be designed to "protect, hydrate, and nourish critical areas around the eyes", according to the Beauty Army website.
Product size: 0.5 oz, $54.00; Sample size: 0.13 oz, Value: $14.04

The Aquolina Pink Sugar Body Mousse is everything you expect in a mousse. Light, whipped, and silky. It has a light, sweet scent, which I like. 
I only used this on my hands and arms, so I don't feel like I've gotten a great feel for it just yet.
Product Size: 8.45 fl oz, $30.00; Sample size: 0.68 oz, Value: $2.41

 LaRocca Skincare Lip Shield in Rose is also a full size product! At first this is kind of sticky, which I'm not a fan of, but it absorbs nicely into your lips. I love that it has an SPF in it. 
Full size product: $16.00

 This is the Kellet Clarifying Acne Treatment. I've yet to use it, but it's another one where I have used the brand and I love it, so I'm confident that this will work just as well as the rest. This is made to treat existing acne and prevent new breakouts by killing acne-causing bacteria. It's also free of parabens and synthetics, which I LOVE.
Product Size: 1.7 fl oz, $75.00; Sample Size 0.1 oz, Value: $4.41

The total cost I paid for my Beauty Army box was $12.00, which includes shipping. This month's box value was $59.44! Yes! If you are interested in checking them out, you can do so here.

What did YOU get in your Beauty Army box this month? Or do you have any other boxes you subscribe to? I'm really thinking about Beauty Tube! 

Come chat with me about it on Twitter: @SBasanAW

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free Year of Baby Talk and American Baby

When I was pregnant with my babies, I used to read these two magazines all the time. I used the same offer for a free year subscription! So if you are having a little one, have a little one, or know someone who is, take advantage of this! Definitely worth it. Click on each banner to sign up for a free year of each! For other steals and deals, click on the tab at the top. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

What's Going On This Week

Well, school has wrapped up for the semester (now on to a summer bridge class) and I’m back from my cousin’s wedding in Kentucky (beautiful!), so it’s time to get back on the ball with ya’ll! I know. You’re thrilled right? J

Here’s what you can expect to see this week:
First up, today I’ll be partying with Kelly from Live.Laugh.Rowe and the Once a Month Networking Blog Hop.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you some of the latest coupons and deals.

Later this week, I’ll have my Beauty Army Box Review and the first day recap from our Disney Vacation.

This weekend, I’ll give you a sneak peek of what’s coming up for the summer and a glimpse of next week’s project and recipe.
Stay tuned!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Crock Pot Apple Butter Pork Loin

Hey, ya'll! This week I'm back with a recipe that I've been meaning to share since Easter. This year, instead of a ham, I wanted to do something different. So I set about finding something that I could make special enough to only be made a few times a year for special occasions. Fail! This turned out so good, I doubt I'll be making it another way (besides barbecue, of course). Today, I'm sharing a Apple Butter Pork Loin recipe for the Crock Pot. I adapted it from a recipe that can be found here. I adapted it for the Crock Pot since we were going to be out most of the day. So glad I did! This was the most flavorful, juicy, and fork-tender pork loin I've ever had. Doubt this one will be an only-a-special-occasion recipe.

Apple Butter Pork Loin (Crock Pot)

1-4 pound pork loin
4 cups apple juice
1 cup apple butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 T water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 medium apple, cut into rings

Cut the pork loin as necessary to fit a large Crock Pot. 

Combine the brown sugar, apple butter, water, cinnamon, and cloves in a medium bowl until smooth.

Pour combined mixture on top of pork loin.

Pour apple juice into the Crock Pot. Avoid pouring directly on the pork loin.

Place apple rings (or slices if you were in a hurry to leave like me!) on top of pork loin.

Since my pork loin was still slightly frozen, I cooked on high for 6 hours and then turned down to low for 4. However, if I had a completely thawed pork loin this big, I would have done low 8-10 hours. (Or until meat is tender)

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What you missed last week:

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Party With My Peeps at How to Nest For Less

Tasty Tuesday

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Glade Scents Sweepstakes...Ending Soon!!

Enter the Glade Spring Scents Sweepstakes! Hurry! You could win a Decor Scents Glass Holder in a limited-edition spring scent. This offer is sponsored by SC Johnson, a family company. Ends May 4th!