2018 Christmas Event Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Here is your 2018 guide to Christmas Events happening in and around the Tampa Bay Area.

Parades, Lights, Santa, and more!

 


 

ChristmasEventGuide

Please verify all information on events website before attending!

Parades.jpg

prade icon12/8 Pinellas Park Christmas Paradeprade icon

prade icon 12/8 Zephyrhills Christmas Parade

Parades.jpg

christmaslights.jpg 11/10 – 12/31 Wiregrass Symphony in Lights

christmaslights.jpg 11/17 – 12/31 Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

christmaslights.jpg 11/22 – 12/29 Wonderland of Lights

  • When: November 22 – December 29
  • Hours: See website
  • Cost: ONLY $20 per vehicle- through November 21! ONLY $25 – after November 21!
  • Location: 215 Sydney Washer Road, Dover, Florida, 33527
  • More Info: https://thewonderlandoflights.com/Default.asp?

christmaslights.jpg 11/23 – 1/03 Oakdale Christmas House

  • When: November 23 – Jan. 3
  • Hours: 6 pm – 10 pm
  • Cost: FREE
  • Location: 2719 Oakdale Street S., St. Petersburg, Florida
  • More Info: http://www.christmasdisplay.org/

christmaslights.jpg 11/23 – 12/24 Christmas Lane

  • When: November 23 – December 24
  • Hours: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Cost:  Tickets are $5 for ages 13 and up, $3 for ages 12 to 4, and free for those 3 and under. Rides are a separate ticket.
  • Location: 2508 W. Oak Ave, Plant City, Florida, 33563
  • More Info: https://christmaslane.com/

christmaslights.jpg 11/23 – 12/30 Holiday Lights at the Florida Botanical Gardens

christmaslights.jpg 11/28 Centro Ybor Tree Lighting

christmaslights.jpg  11/30 Grinchmas and Christmas Festival

christmaslights.jpg 11/30 Tampa Tree Lighting

christmaslights.jpg 12/1 – 12/31 LIghts of Lake Park Estate

  • When: Dec. 1 to Dec. 31
  • Hours: 6 pm – 10 pm
  • Cost: FREE but donations are appreciated
  • Location: 102nd Ave & 109 Ave N, Seminole, FL, 33777
  • More Info: http://lightsoflakepark.com/

Parades.jpg

satnaicon.jpg11/10 – 12/31 Christmas Card Lane 

satnaicon.jpg11/16 – 1/5 Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park

  • When: November 16 – January 5
  • Hours: See website for hours
  • Cost: Winter Village is free to attend. Additional cost for special events, food/beverages, ice skating, Winter Village Express, Shopping etc
  • Location: 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, Florida, 33602
  • More Info: http://www.wintervillagetampa.com/

satnaicon.jpg11/17 – 1/6 Christmas at Gaylord Palms and Ice Attraction

satnaicon.jpg11/17 – 12/16 Tampa Theatre Winter Classics

  • When: Select Fridays and Saturdays
  • Hours: See Website
  • Cost: free
  • Location: 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, Florida, 33602
  • More Info: http://www.wintervillagetampa.com/
  • Movie Lineup: Friday, Nov. 17 – White Christmas
    Saturday, Nov. 18 – Home Alone
    Friday, Nov. 24 – Miracle on 34th Street
    Saturday, Nov. 25 – A Christmas Story
    Friday, Dec. 1 – The Polar Express
    Friday, Dec. 15 – Elf
    Saturday, Dec. 16 – It’s a Wonderful Life

satnaicon.jpg 11/17 – 12/31 Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

satnaicon.jpg11/17 -12/31 SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

satnaicon.jpg 11/22 – 12/29 Wonderland of Lights

  • When: November 22 – December 29
  • Hours: See website
  • Cost: ONLY $20 per vehicle- through November 21! ONLY $25 – after November 21!
  • Location: 215 Sydney Washer Road, Dover, Florida, 33527
  • More Info: https://thewonderlandoflights.com/Default.asp?

satnaicon.jpg 11/23 – 12/24 Christmas Lane

  • When: November 23 – December 24
  • Hours: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Cost:  Tickets are $5 for ages 13 and up, $3 for ages 12 to 4, and free for those 3 and under. Rides are a separate ticket.
  • Location: 2508 W. Oak Ave, Plant City, Florida, 33563
  • More Info: https://christmaslane.com/

satnaicon.jpg 11/24 – 12/30 Christmas in the Wild

 

From all of us here at Everyday Moms, we wish you and your family and Happy and Safe Holiday!

Please verify all information before attending!
Written By: Shineta A

Corn Mazes, Pumpkin Patches, and Fall Festivals 2018

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Here are your local and worth the drive listings of corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and fall festivals in and around the Tampa Bay Area.

Enjoy and Happy Fall Y’all!

**Event Guide is updated weekly, so check back often for new events added**

Please Note: Time and price may change, please verify all information with event before attending!

Corn Mazes

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Fox Squirrel Corn Maze

  • When: WEEKENDS ONLY Oct. 6 – Oct 28
  • Hours: 10am – 5pm
  • Location: 3002 Charlie Taylor Rd, Plant City, FL 33565
  • Cost: Adults: $11 + tax (18 & older) Youth: $10 + tax (3 – 17) 2 & Under: FREE (cash only, there is no ATM on site)
  • Website: http://futchentertainment.com/

Scott’s Maze Adventures

  • When: Oct. 6 – Dec. 9, Sat and Sun ONLY
  • Hours: Saturdays, 10 am – 5pm, Sundays 12pm – 5 pm
  • Location: 26216 CR 448A, Mount Dora, Florida, 32757
  • Cost: $12.00 Admission, Kids 3 and under – free
  • Website: longandscottfarms.com

Harvest Holler Corn Maze

  • When: Sept. 21 – Nov. 11
  • Hours: Friday: 4pm – 8pm Saturday: Noon – 8 pm and Sunday Noon – 5 pm
    Monday to Thursday: by reservation only
  • Location: 950 Tavares Rd. Polk City, FL 33686
  • Cost: 2 and under is free, Kids 3-12yrs old $8.50, Adults 13 yrs and up $10.50, Sr Adults (65) and military $8.50, Field Trip rate $8.00
  • Website: .harvestholler.com

Timberline Farm’s Annual Corn Maze and Fall Festival

  • When: Oct. 5 – Nov. 4, Weekends ONLY
  • Hours: Friday 4 pm – 9pm, Saturday 10am –9pm, and Sunday 12 pm – 9pm
  • Location: 3200 Southeast 115th Street, Belleview, Florida, 34420
  • Cost: Admission is $8.00 Adults, $6.00 Children, Children 3 and under get in FREE. Active military, firefighters, & law enforcement always FREE!
  • Website: https://timberlinefarm.net/

Harvest Moon Farm

  • When: Sept, 29 – Nov. 5, SAT and SUN ONLY
  • Hours: 10am – 5pm
  • Location: 15990 Stur St, Masaryktown, FL, 34604
  • Cost: Adults & Children (ages 3+) $11.95+tax, Miltary Discount –

    $2.00 off general admission For military personnel only & must have ID present

  • Website: .harvestmoonfl

Sweetfields Farm

  • When: Weekends ONLY Sept. 29 – November 4
  • Hours: 10am – 5pm, last admission sold at 4pm
  • Location: 17250 Benes Roush Rd. Masaryktown, Fl 34604
  • Cost: 12 and older $9.50 each + tax, 3-11 $5.00 each + tax , 2 and under are Free
  • Website: sweetfieldsfarm.com

Hunsander Farms

  • When: Oct. 13-14, 20-21, 27-28
  • Hours: 9am – 5pm
  • Location: 5500 CR 675, Bradenton, FL, 34211
  • Cost: Admission $10, Parking $5, Children 12 and under free
  • Website: hunsaderfarms.com/pumpkin-festival

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Pumpkin Patches

HorsePower for Kids Farm Fall Festival

  • When: Every Sat & Sunday in October 6 – 28
  • Hours: 11am – 5pm
  • Location: 8005 Race Track Road, Tampa, FL, 33635
  • Cost: $12 admission and $1 Parking
  • Website: horsepowerforkids.com

Timberline Farm’s Annual Corn Maze and Fall Festival

  • When: Oct. 5 – Nov. 4, Weekends ONLY
  • Hours: Friday 4 pm – 9pm, Saturday 10am –9pm, and Sunday 12 pm – 9pm
  • Location: 3200 Southeast 115th Street, Belleview, Florida, 34420
  • Cost: Admission is $8.00 Adults, $6.00 Children, Children 3 and under get in FREE. Active military, firefighters, & law enforcement always FREE!
  • Website: https://timberlinefarm.net/

Florida Railroad Museum Pumpkin Patch Express

  • When: Oct 20, 21, 27, and 28
  • Hours: Trains run at 10am, 1pm and 4pm
  • Location: 12210 83rd St East, Parrish, FL, 34219
  • Cost: see website
  • Website: pumpkinexpress

Harvest Holler Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch

  • When: Sept. 21 – Nov. 11
  • Hours: Friday: 4pm – 8pm Saturday: Noon – 8 pm and Sunday Noon – 5 pm
    Monday to Thursday: by reservation only
  • Location: 950 Tavares Rd. Polk City, FL 33686
  • Cost: 2 and under is free, Kids 3-12yrs old $8.50, Adults 13 yrs and up $10.50, Sr Adults (65) and military $8.50, Field Trip rate $8.00
  • Website: .harvestholler.com

Hunsander Farms

  • When: Oct. 13-14, 20-21, 27-28
  • Hours: 9am – 5pm
  • Location: 5500 CR 675, Bradenton, FL, 34211
  • Cost: Admission $10, Parking $5, Children 12 and under free
  • Website: hunsaderfarms.com/pumpkin-festival

Picking Patch U-Pick pumpkin Patch

  • When: Sept. 29 – Oct. 28
  • Hours: Fridays 3pm -7pm, Saturdays 10am – 7pm, and Sundays 12pm- 7pm
  • Location: 11000 Rolling Hills Road, Dunnellon, Florida, 34432
  • Cost: $5pp and 3 and under FREE
  • Website: dunnellonpumpkinpatch.com/

Sweetfields Farm

  • When: Weekends ONLY Sept. 29 – November 4
  • Hours: 10am – 5pm, last admission sold at 4pm
  • Location: 17250 Benes Roush Rd. Masaryktown, Fl 34604
  • Cost: 12 and older $9.50 each + tax, 3-11 $5.00 each + tax , 2 and under are Free
  • Website: sweetfieldsfarm.com

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Fall Festivals

Timberline Farm’s Annual Corn Maze and Fall Festival

  • When: Oct. 5 – Nov. 4, Weekends ONLY
  • Hours: Friday 4 pm – 9pm, Saturday 10am –9pm, and Sunday 12 pm – 9pm
  • Location: 3200 Southeast 115th Street, Belleview, Florida, 34420
  • Cost: Admission is $8.00 Adults, $6.00 Children, Children 3 and under get in FREE. Active military, firefighters, & law enforcement always FREE!
  • Website: https://timberlinefarm.net/

Oct. 20: Fall Festival at Fellowship Baptist of Valrico

  • When: Oct. 20
  • Hours: 10 am – 1 pm
  • Location: 106 Rolling Hills Blvd, Valrico
  • Cost: FREE
  • Website: facebookevent

Oct. 27 – 28: Fall Festival at the Grove Wesley Chapel

  • When: Oct. 27 – 28
  • Hours: 4 pm
  • Location: Grove At Wesley Chapel, 6105 Wesley Grove Blvd, Wesley Chapel, FL, 33544
  • Cost: FREE
  • Website: www.groveshopping.com/events/

Please always verify all information on each event through their website. Hours may change due to weather.

  • Written By: Shineta A

Must Have Mom Subscriptions

Must Have Mom Subscriptions

There are so many monthly subscriptions out there, from a personalized selection of clothes picked just for you to fishing supplies, depending on what type of water you fish in. (My husband is all about this by the way.)

This list is in no particular order and consist of things I have personally tried or plan to try in the near future.

  1. Amazon Prime – This first is so obvious but should come with a warning label. I love that I can buy anything on this site I need for my family. My most frequent purchases are diapers and Pediasure Grow and Gain but during the last Prime Day I ended up with a 2-pack of Clarisonic brushes and a shirt. I call that a success. But warning, it’s so easy to add things to your cart, check out and have it delivered in 2 days that you may quickly become a “primanista”. That meaning you’ll have packages arriving every few days. Which, doesn’t sound so bad actually. At around $10 a month its a complete and total NEED for moms, who just can’t go to the store one more time that week.
  2. Shipt – Hallelujah! I wish Shipt had been around when I had a newborn in the middle of the Tampa summer years ago. It’s a freaking life saver. Especially when you’re cooking dinner and need a forgotten ingredient or it’s raining, or you just don’t want to go. This subscription is an upfront annual fee of $99 but often run a $49 special when they add a new store or for special holidays. Current stores include Costco, Publix, Target, GFS, Winn Dixie and ABC Wine & Liquor (ummmmm yes!). If you don’t have it, get it. Now. G
  3. Netflix – This is our  most used subscription in my house. They’re always adding movies – whether they’re good or not is not my place to say. It’s less than $15 a month and you can stream it on 2 devices at one time. Yes, I know this for a fact. It’s usually a fight in my house to see who’s going to stop watching. I lose. Every time. So instead of hauling your kids to the movies to watch the newest Disney release, wait 12 weeks after it’s out of box office and save yourself the hassle and money. Unless its an Avengers movie because who doesn’t want to see Chris Hemsworth on the big screen?
  1. Firstleaf (Wine) – How many times have we had to pick up a bottle for friends on the way to a girls night/playdate – this happened to me 3 times last week. Whether you’re a 3 bottles a week gal or 3 bottles a month this could work for you! Firstleaf offers $20/month subscription which includes 3 bottles. The process is super easy, you take the quiz seeing what you’d like white, red, mix and import preference. The last question asks how many bottles you drink a month. So depending on your answers you’re given a suggestion. The wine is delivered to your door. So, you’re never without wine and wouldn’t that be a shame?
  1. FabKids – similar to clothing subscriptions for moms, it’s for the little’s. This is the way I see it. You’re going to spend money on your kids’ school clothes regularly. You see the cute top at Target, oh but does he have a pair of shorts to match? Can’t remember, may as well grab another pair. You’re doing that once a week while there PLUS the pre planned trips for new shoes they’ve outgrown, picture day..you know the drill. Here’s the fine print. Between the 1st and 5th of the month you’re sent an email for action – to shop or skip. If you do choose to skip your card is debited for $29.95 but you’re given that $29.95 as a credit to be used anytime. You’re charged the $29.95 until you cancel. There’s also perks like free shipping (that always gets me) and a rewards program.

This list was composed with you in mind, a little more added convenience to our lives is the way to go. I dread shopping with my kids, even if its a quick trip so you’ll find that all of these eliminate bringing what I’m sure are you wonderfully behaved children in public.

Disclaimer Alert: I haven’t listed all details for everyone of these subscription suggestions. It’s important to conduct your own research. 

36266338_10213004457965528_2216563528326709248_n Written By: Meghan Goodman

Park Spotlight

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On this months review of our local parks, I am highlighting my childhood favorite: Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park.

Location

100 Alderman’s Ford Park Dr.

Plant City, FL, FL 33567
Hours
Spring/Summer: 8 AM – 7 PM
Fall/Winter: 8 AM – 6 PM
Contact (813) 757-3801
 Entrance Fee

$2 per vehicle. Up to 8 people per vehicle. Rentals are extra.

 

This county park is at the top of my list. It offers a playground with shade for all ages,  a boardwalk, canoe/kayak launch, a gorgeous 1.9 mile paved hiking trail, and CLEAN bathrooms!

It is one of the most well-rounded parks in the area. The paved loop is hiker, pet, and bicycle friendly. The Boardwalk is great for bird watching and possibly spotting an alligator. The boardwalk is currently being repaired. (see note below).

The last time we went I took my daughters bike. She loved riding the trails and even rode her bike on the boardwalk bridge. We had the best time. She also enjoyed taking a break at the workout equipment along the trail.

As a self-proclaimed hover mom, this park makes me comfortable. I was able to walk the trail as my daughter rode her bike. It was not too hard to keep up with her and I was able to see her even if she was ahead of me. There is also a side-walk all the way around the playground (off the main trail) that kids can ride on. I can sit on a bench and see her ride around and around. The park equipment is appropriate for all ages even the little ones. there is a nice rubber pad under both play areas. There is also a big open area for the kids to explore while you keep an eye on them. We love to print and bring scavenger hunt with us too.

This park is also perfect for parties and family gatherings. Pavilions need to be reserved in advance, but can be done online. The cost ranges from 42.00 to 75.00 for the day. They also have a 600 sq. ft. air-conditioned room you can rent with 12 banquet tables and 65 chairs. The room cost is 161.00 for the day. All of these areas are close to the restrooms.

A canoe launch is located in a separate entrance at 9625 Canoe Launch Loop Lithia, FL 33547. The launch entrance opens daily at 7 a.m.

Fellow Everyday Moms, Jennifer Dean and Courtney Fletcher have spent many hours with her families at Alderman’s Ford. So I asked the two of them a few questions to provide a little more perspective.

1)What are your key reasons for visiting the park?

Jennifer Dean: “We were introduced to Alderman’s Ford Park by my oldest son’s school. They had their cross-country meets there once a week. He would run and our other kids would play on the playground. After visiting a few times, we decided to see what else the park had to offer. We’ve gone canoeing, hiking, fishing, attended a birthday party at the pavilions and have even had a photo shoot there.”

 

Courtney Fletcher: “The main reason for visit the park is to let the kid(s) play on play ground and run around and go on the trail and explore nature.”

Do you feel safe when visiting this park?

Jennifer Dean: “I’ve always felt safe at Alderman’s Ford, though I’ve never been there after dark or without an abundance of other families.”

Courtney Fletcher: “I have felt safe with no issues at Alderman’s Ford, other than squirrels liking to steal food when are not watching it.”

What is your overall opinion of Alderman’s Ford?

Jennifer Dean: “Overall, the park has some great offerings for families. We enjoy spending time there as a family. The main downside is lots of bugs (more than other parks we’ve been to in the area) and few restrooms or drinking fountains. As long as one plans ahead for these, a fun day can be had.”

Courtney Fletcher “I do like Alderman’s Ford park but due to the river flooding the past year its been hard to go out and enjoy the trails.”

20180430_094658

 

Overall Alderman’s Ford has much to offer the families in our community. As long as you protect your food and bring bug spray, you should have a wonderful time. Also, for those of us born and raised here this usually goes without saying, but BEWARE OF ALLIGATORS!

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Gator on the bank while Canoeing at Alderman’s Ford. Photo by Jennifer Dean

 

Suzette Foister,

SAHM, Wife, Homeschooler, EM contributor, Owner/Artist of Bring Your Own Canvas

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**PLEASE NOTE**

Unfortunately mother nature has caused the main trail to be closed during the weekdays this summer for repairs.

  • The canoe launch is temporarily closed (posted 7/3/18)
  • The paved trail at Alderman’s Ford Conservation Park will be closed during the weekdays from April 16, 2018 thru September 2018 for construction to the boardwalk. The trail will be open for use on the weekends.

For more details, please call the park at (813) 757-3801.

 

Teach your kids to pick the perfect Peach (or Blueberry) The best pick your own around!

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Have you ever gone fruit picking? The U-Pick (enter yummy fruit here) is unbelievable here in the Lithia area. Oranges in the winter, Strawberries in the spring, then blueberries and peaches as we head into summer. Living in Florida has some great perks! Do your kids run up and down the rows of fruit with screams of laughter?

 

Peaches

Last year I took my kids to pick peaches and blueberries at two local farms. What a fun time we had! The U Pick (Do you say U Pick, U-pick, You Pick or pick your own?) peaches at Florida Sweeties U Pick Peaches were also the bees knees. So sweet and juicy. It was hard to stop the kids from filling their bellies with such yummy goodness and get them to fill the buckets to take home. Keeping a pocket full of baby wipes was a must! They were so darn juicy!

 

To pick the perfect peach you just use your touch. You want it to be firm to the touch, not rock hard and not squishy. Just a slight give to the flesh! There were lots of low hanging fruit within perfect picking distance for any age!

 

Blueberries

The next morning I woke up and ushered the kids out the door to grab some U Pick blueberries over at Frosty Blue Blueberry Farm here in Lithia.MGS-2815_May 07, 2017_133

The berries are so big and sweet we couldn’t resist eating our fill as we picked. My little one kept saying “just one” over and over as she would pop another juicy berry in her mouth. We picked our fill of over 7lbs in just a short amount of time and headed home full to the brim with fruit.

To pick the perfect berry look for that perfect bluish purple color and you can’t go wrong! If you go early in the morning to beat the heat, plan on getting damp with morning dew. The dew is worth it compared to the midday sun for sure! Evenings are a perfect time too now that the days are long (and think gorgeous golden hour light).

 

A few must haves for fruit picking in Florida

  • Sunscreen is a definite, plus a hat and sunglasses if the kids will tolerate them
  • Sneakers and socks are always good since they will be running through the high grass and the fire ant mounds are everywhere. This is Florida and no matter how hard you try, those buggers are just hard to get rid of.
  • Bring water, You might be picking for an hour or better depending how much you eat versus how much goes into your bucket!
  • You don’t need to bring buckets unless stated at that particular place. Most places provide buckets at no charge and then bag them for you to bring them home.
  • The kids will eat more than their fair share which means sweet sticky goodness all over their faces if they are anything like my kids. Wet wipes go without saying as a mom 😉

The Dessert

What is better than freshly picked fruit? Homemade dessert with said fresh picked fruit!

I knew that cobbler being one of my favorite quick and yummy things to make would be a perfect way to use some of that sweet goodness. I immediately put the kids to work helping in the kitchen to make this incredible dairy free peach and blueberry cobbler. Pair this with some yummy Ben and Jerrys 7 layer coconut ice cream (dairy free as well) and it is a match made in heaven!

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Tell me your favorite fresh fruit dessert in the comments!! I need new ideas for this year’s haul! 

 

Mom and Daughter Selfie

The momma behind Momma Got Soul Photo and Films, Tampa Bay Family Photographer. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am an artistic storyteller. I stay up late, try to sleep late, and drink lots of coffee and beer (usually in that order, but not always). I grew up in sunny (which means really hot) central Florida, never go to the beach or Disney, but try to hike in the woods as much as I can. I remember a time when I said I would never photograph people, now that’s all I do. I think it started with wanting to explore the world and capture that to share with people. Now I just want to tell people that the real stuff outweighs the fake crap every time -Kelly

My world famous secret recipe for Strawberry Jam

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March.

March is now over, our days are longer which means later bedtimes, whiny kids and even grumpier parents. Making the adjustment is often hard around here. While the kids and I don’t have to get up to an alarm clock, the hubby still does and 3:45a comes even earlier when it doesn’t get dark until after 8pm.

In Florida, March is also synonymous with strawberries. You will start to see them everywhere. Every corner will have a stand of someone selling flats, the u-pick places are all over and the Strawberry Festival is celebrated with all things fried, colored lights and retired country stars.

Strawberry season means one big thing in my house, jam time. Every year I try to put away about 12 pints of strawberry jam to give as gifts, make pb&j’s with or just eat with a spoon straight out of the jar. I’m not sure which I love better strawberry or muscadine!

I always have fantasy filled dreams of the kids and I singing in the kitchen canning jam together, but really my anxiety kicks them out about the time I start to put the strawberries on the stove. Sometimes I can’t think and mom at the same time. Besides they usually help with the hard part of squishing the berries. This year was no different!


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/261487132″>60 Second Film Project {March}</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user49150923″>Momma G Soul</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Wanna know my family secret recipe for making jam?

First, you need a giant pot to process your jars for shelf keeping OR lots of freezer space for freezer jam! There are some handy accessories for hot jars like a jar handler, a long-stemmed magnet and a wide mouth funnel that fits the jars perfectly. All easily found in the canning aisle at Walmart!

I start with 2 flats of strawberries of which half of one is promptly eaten while it’s still sitting on the counter. The rest has the tops cut off and the berries cut into chunks. They are then well hidden in the outside fridge to keep them from grubbing little kid hands.

Next, wash in hot soapy water (or rinse on high in the dishwasher) 24 half pint mason jars. I always try to have extra on hand just in case. I usually dunk the lids in the boiling water right before canning starts to clean them.

You will need a 5lb sack of sugar and I always try to use the surejell low sugar pectin. SureJell has always worked the best for me. You need one box per 12 half pint jars in general.

Mash your fruit for jam or use the fruit processor on your kitchen aid for jelly. I like the bits, so I just use my hands or a potato masher to squeeze the berries.

Then just follow the directions in the package. It’s really pretty darn easy. A few lessons I have learned. Read the directions twice. Measure everything out in advance, stir, stir, keep stirring, and don’t walk away.

Then if you are a Pinterest Mom you can put pretty labels on your jam and give them away in nice baskets to your friends. If you are like me I might write the date on the top and an S to indicate strawberry, but I still give them away to friends. Either way they taste the same! Please let me know in the comments if you try to make our own jam this year or if you have any questions!

Mom and Daughter Selfie

The momma behind Momma Got Soul Photo and Films, Tampa Bay Family Photographer. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a storyteller. I stay up late, try to sleep late, and drink lots of coffee and beer (usually in that order, but not always). I grew up in sunny (which means really hot) central Florida, never go to the beach or Disney, but try to hike in the woods as much as I can. I remember a time when I said I would never photograph people, now that’s all I do. I think it started with wanting to explore the world and capture that to share with people. Now I want to capture people to share with the world. -Kelly

Disney FAQs

We took my daughter to Disney for the first time when she was 6 months old.

Five years later, we’ve been around. We’re Annual Passholders so we can go anytime, anywhere.

I’m going to go through some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Disney!

Parks

There are 4 parks that make up Walt Disney World in Orlando (as opposed to Disneyland, which is in California).

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Epcot
  3. Hollywood Studios
  4. Animal Kingdom

Plus 2 waterparks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.

Where to eat?  

There are several restaurants in each of the 4 parks. Character Meals (meals where you can meet characters, are marked with a *) are also available. Here are some of the most popular:

Magic Kingdom:

  1. *Cinderella’s Royal Table- located inside Cinderella’s Castle. Meet the princesses.
  2. Tony’s Town Square Restaurant- Italian fare based on Lady and the Tramp (no character meet-n-greets)
  3. *Be Our Guest- French fare, including alcohol for dinner, in the Beast’s Castle. Meet the Beast at the end of dinner (Belle does not appear). Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  4. The Plaza- Club sandwiches, salads, hamburgers, plus milkshakes! No characters.
  5. Casey’s Corner- Hot Dogs
  6. *The Crystal Palace- Buffet includes kids favorites like Mac and Cheese, pizza, etc. Characters here are Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet.
  7. Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen- only place other than Be Our Guest to get alcohol in the Magic Kingdom! Based on the Jungle Cruise ride.
  8. Liberty Tree Tavern- We had Thanksgiving dinner here last year and it was AMAZING! Typical Thanksgiving and New England fare, served family-style. We had the Toffee Cake for dessert. OMG.0C99E717-45BD-4167-BCDA-8EBDC89B6D06.jpeg
  9. The Diamond Horseshoe- family-style American/ BBQ includes salad, plate ‘o’ meat, Mac and Cheese, corn and baked beans. And dessert.
  10. Pinnochio Village Haus- This is where we usually end up if we have no reservations. It’s pizza for the kiddos or Mac and Cheese, flatbreads & salads for the adults.

Epcot:

  1. *Ashkerus- in Norway, near Frozen. Meet the Princesses. Breakfast and dinner. My husband ate his weight in Lox when we went for breakfast.
  2. Le Cellier- Canada. Hubby and I had a date night here and they cut his steak for him!

Hollywood Studios:

  1. Brown Derby-We’ve eaten here a couple of times. It seems really fancy, but is very kid-friendly. I’ve had the Cobb salad, it’s delicious!
  2. *Hollywood & Vine- Buffett-style. We’ve had a Minnie Mouse Holiday-themed dinner here. During breakfast, Disney Junior characters are here.

Animal Kingdom:

  1. Yak & Yeti- We are Landry’s Club members, so this card lets us basically “cut” in line at this restaurant. It’s pan-Asian food!
  2. *Tusker House- African buffet. Characters during breakfast.
  3. Rainforest Cafe- Also a part of the Landry’s Club, so skip the line! (Seriously, if you go to Disney a lot, get this card)

Outside of the Parks 

  1. Tratorria Al Forno- Located at Disney’s Boardwalk. Meet Ariel and Rapunzel, along with Flynn Rider (dreamy) and Prince Eric for breakfast.D1160DF8-C524-4225-9A5D-907321613337.jpeg
  2. O’hana- Ohana means family. Meet Lilo and Stitch and Mickey Mouse while dining on fresh pineapple bread served family style to your table. Also, yummy juice and Mickey waffles! Located inside Disney’s Polynesian Village.338CA39F-6C36-4BAC-9EE1-EEDBB35C809E
  3. 1900 Park Fare- Located in the Grand Floridian meet Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Driscella and Prince Charming while feasting on a buffet featuring kids favorite as well as a carving station.
  4. Chef Mickey’s- meet the Fab Five- Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto & Goofy inside the Contemporary Resort during a buffet-style dinner.

Disney Springs 

More dining! And also, shopping 😉 4DC062F8-4A28-4758-BEE9-B535CAA4DCEF.jpeg

  1. Rainforest Cafe- dine in a rainforest. Skip the line with Landry’s card.
  2. T-Rex Cafe- same as Rainforest, but with dinosaurs! Ask for the ice room if it’s available.
  3. Morimoto Asia
  4. Raglan Road- Irish dancers provide entertainment all night long and invite littles up on stage to dance! Whiskey on tap. Bangers & Mash. Fish & Chips. Need I say more?! My husband’s favorite place!
  5. The LEGO Store- enough said.
  6. Ghiradelli- chocolate!
  7. Amorette’s Patesserie- more chocolate! Plus, coffee! YUM. We went here for my birthday and got a Mickey Mouse.63F0AFD2-45E5-40E2-813F-6D1B1E776CA5.jpeg
  8. I have been DYING to go on the Hot Air Balloon ride at Disney Springs, the Aerophile!
  9. The Art of Shaving- if you have a hubby, take him here! They do hot shaves for men!
  10. Basin- Bath bombs!
  11. Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique- same princess stuff, no park ticket required.

Fast Passes

Magic Kingdom:

  1. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train- if you can get this, GRAB IT. It’s almost always 120+ minute long wait. 38″ to ride.143F9DD1-F08F-4894-ACBC-B9D7DD746BBF.jpeg
  2. “The Mountains”
    1. Space 44″
    2. Splash 40″
    3. Big Thunder 40″
  3. Peter Pan (any height)
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean (any height)
  5. Mickey Mouse
  6. Princesses- Tiana & Rapunzel. Cinderella & Elena.

Epcot:

  1. Test Track 40″
  2. Soarin’ 40″
  3. Frozen Ever After (any height)

Hollywood Studios:

tbh, this is our least favorite park (until Toy Story land opens in June!). It’s A LOT of Star Wars and we have two girls and one of them is afraid of Storm Troopers, sooooo….

  1. Toy Story Mania (any height)
  2. Tower of Terror 40″
  3. Rock N Roller Coaster 48″
  4. Frozen Sing-a-long

Animal Kingdom:

  1. Avatar Flight of Passage (FOP) 44″
  2. Nav’i River
  3. Serengeti Safaris (any height)
  4. Expedition Everest 44″
  5. Meet Mickey & Minnie (in safari gear)
  6. Festival of The Lion King- LOVE this show! Seriously, almost like a Broadway show!

xoxo,

your favorite Disney Mom!

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Jennifer Silverstein is a SAHM of two infuriating girls, one husband, one dog, two chickens and a tortoise. She lives on 6 acres in Plant City and her hobbies include: Disney (obvi), hiking & camping, running and gardening. She loves tacos and tea time. Follow along at http://www.growingupsilverstein.com.

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How your family can Celebrate & Honor Black History Month.

February is African American History month. It is a time when we pay tribute to generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to secure equal opportunities in America. It is a time when we recognize that although we are all different, we are really all similar, too. There are many ways to celebrate with your family.

• Visit local museums. It’s likely that February’s premier exhibits will focus on the work of African American creators.

• Sit back, relax and listen to some good, classic jazz. Or go to a jazz concert. Enjoy African American music from the past from Duke Ellington, Zora Neale Hurston, Ethel Waters, and Langston Hughes.

• Read a book together or watch a movie about the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball.

• Join the celebration. Visit cities and towns that enjoy festive cultural celebrations during this month.

• Talk to your kids about diversity and racism. Ask them if they see it in their school and how they feel about it. What can they do to fight it?

• Study your own family’s history and help them see that we all come from another country and culture.

• Head to the library to check out a few books about African American adventures or biographies.

Camping: Supplies

 

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I didn’t grow up camping, but my husband did. Some of his fondest memories are from family camping trips.  I only remember my family camping a few times. When the opportunity to camp with friends came up I was a little nervous.  Would my daughter cry, freak out and not sleep at night? Would my daughter be bored and annoy the shit out of us? Would it really be relaxing? What about the BUGS???? So many questions but much to my surprise camping has been relaxing and fun for all of us. 

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There is something about sitting around a campfire at night and exploring our surroundings during the day that brings out the best in us. It provides a calm break from the chaos that life at home can bring. With that being said, it is a TON of work initially and it does come at a cost. Our last trip we camped in some of the coldest weather Florida has had in years. We almost cancelled, but decided to go. We spent quite a bit of money buying heated blankets, and extra clothing to wear in layers. It stunk having to spend the money but it turned out to be one of our best trips yet.

Camping is a lot of trial and error; you do not realize you “need” certain items until you do not have them.  The following is our camping supply checklist.

Tent: We tent camp and I love it. When I was searching for a tent I looked for one that we could stand in and also had enough room for our daughter to sleep on her own. It also needed to be “easy” to put up. My husbands needs were one that has a high wind and rain rating and one that provides enough ventilation for the Florida heat. After weeks and weeks of research, we bought the Coleman Tenaya Lake . It is a little overkill for my family of three, but we like our space. My husband calls it our glamping tent.

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Air Mattress/Cots: I love camping and don’t mind “roughing it”, but I am not sleeping directly on the ground. We each have our own twin air mattress. They were super cheap; $7 at walmart. Many of our friends have cots and love them. If you are willing to spend the extra money and aren’t a super tall human those are also a great choice.

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Rechargeable battery powered air mattress pump.

Rubber mallet

Extra tent stakes

Mat to wipe feet on outside of tent.

Broom/Dustpan for sweeping dirt out of the tent

Pop Up shade Canopy and/or Netted canopy

Camping chairs

Blankets/Sleeping Bags and pillows

Fans Battery powered/electric

Extension Cords

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Camp cookware: Pots, pans, pot holders, percolator for coffee, coffee cups, forks, spoons, a knife for cutting up food, spatula, large spoon, extra bowl, Tervis/Yeti cups, dish towels, table cloth for the picnic table and clips for windy days, trash bags, paper towels, pop up food nets, gallon size zip lock bags. We have a second set of these items strictly for camping that we leave in a locking bin.

Camp Stove and Extra Fuel

Toilet Paper: Save yourself from the sandpaper the restrooms provide. Also for using during late nights when popping a squat:-). We keep it in the tent next to our bed.

Cooler for cold food and drinks.

First Aid kit

Bug spray (The real stuff ), bug bands and anything else that will keep the mosquitos away.  

Fire wood! I suggest that if you are planning on camping stock up on wood whenever possible. We have a good stockpile started; after a neighbor chopped down some trees we loaded up. we didn’t do this prior to our last trip and ended up spending around $30 on wood.

Matches, Lighter, fire starter logs

Water, Lots of water. Used for Cooking/Drinking. We invested in a PROPur portable water filter and we take that with us now. We hated having to bring so many gallon jugs of water. Many sites have potable water, but not all. We bring the filter to cut back on clutter in the campsite and reduce the amount of trash generated by bottles of water.  

Lighting: Lanterns, flashlights, headlamps (for every family member). Extra Batteries. If your site has power: bring string lights to hang from tree to tree or from a pop up shade canopy. This is one of my favorite things to hang up at the campsite. It provides a subtle amount of light and nice ambiance when hanging around the campfire at night.

Battery powered phone charger

Pop up trash can that zips, not a must have just a convenient luxury.

Camping sink  yet another one that you don’t need, but once you have it you won’t camp without it.

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Hammock: There is nothing better than relaxing in a hammock drinking your coffee or reading a book. I suggest getting a double person. My husband and I enjoyed snuggling in the hammock together the last time we camped.

Toys/Entertainment: I usually have my daughter pack her own backpack with what she wants. She usually grabs books, her american girl doll/accessories, sketchbook and her hot wheels. We usually bring bocce with us. This last trip we brought our Nintendo Switch, but didn’t even play with it. Our friends brought a frisbee last time we camped and that was fun. Bikes and scooters are fun for getting around the campground. We also always bring our fishing poles and tackle box. We also bring a bluetooth speaker, music is a must at times.

 

Important things to note:

My family did not acquire all of these items at once. In fact some of the items we borrow from friends that also camp. We would have gone broke buying all of the items on this list at once. However we have been camping for a little over a year now and are building a good base for future camps. Everything that we buy now is an investment for future camps. We hope to get to the point where all we have to do is prep our food and load up the gear and go. 

All of our gear does not fit in one vehicle. We usually take two vehicles or use my in-laws truck.

Use locking plastic bins to store supplies and dry food. Do not leave any food or bins out overnight. Animals will try to get into it. Load the bins into your locked vehicle or tent overnight.

If possible bring friends along. We love to camp with friends. Our daughter loves to have friends to play with and we love the adult conversation. It is also nice to have other campers you know to borrow from just in case you leave something you need behind. Of course, you could also talk to a fellow camper you don’t know. We have found other campers to be super friendly and always willing to lend a helping hand. After all we have all been through the same trial and error that comes with the territory.

Stay tuned for future posts on camping. I will be blogging next about camp food and places to camp in florida. We have only camped a handful of places, but I have a ton on my bucket list to share.

It takes work and some days there is more rain than shine but for us the hard work pays off. We are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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Suzette Foister,

SAHM, Wife, Homeschooler, Owner/Artist of Bring Your Own Canvas…. amateur camper 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeschool Hindsight

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After resigning from my job (two years ago) to stay home with my daughter, homeschool was never on my radar… Now, its second nature.  There are many challenges, but my family loves this life. I can now say with confidence, “I would not have it any other way.”  However, before my family began this Journey, I wish I had heard more of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Here is a little of mine.

You spend ALL of your time with your child– Every single minute of my day is spent with my daughter. Every question and thought that runs through her brain, comes out her mouth and straight to my ears…every single one! It is mentally exhausting to take the majority of the conversations and turn them into a learning experience. At the end of the day/week I feel more exhausted than I did when I worked full-time, but my heart grows fuller and brighter EVERY single day!

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Not all Homeschool journeys are created equal– When I first started homeschooling, I was constantly comparing my journey with others. I felt a need to get ahead and spent more energy than I would like to admit worrying about why my child wasn’t as far along as others. I am a homeschooler. Where is the fire?? My daughter and I are walking our own path. We do this so that we can go at our own pace. There is no rush or need to compare yourself with others. Do what works for you and your family!

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Join Homeschool groups/Co-ops, but be prepared to leave a few too- We are lucky enough to live in an area with a large amount of Homeschool families. In the beginning of my journey, I joined Facebook groups, attended events and reached out to other Homeschoolers in Everyday Moms. Some groups weren’t a good fit for my family. It took some time to find like-minded groups, but we now have an amazing amount of support. I could not do this without knowing other homeschool mothers. I would honestly lose my mind without them! Their support has been invaluable.

You will doubt yourself constantly – I also see this as a positive. I am constantly questioning myself. Am I doing enough? Am I screwing my child up for life? Could I have approached this better? Is my child happy? Am I happy? Can I do this?. THIS is what drives me and makes us better. The very fact that I question myself means that I want to do this to the best of my ability. I know my child better than anyone else. NO one knows my child better than me!

You are the responsible party- The pressure and responsibility that comes with homeschool is taxing. You have to motivate yourself to engage with your child the majority of your day. Your Spouse, family, and most of all your child are counting on you! Their education literally rests on your shoulders. Sometimes I feel as if I am being looked at with a microscope by many.  Not always the case, but a horrible feeling. Like I said above…’This is OUR journey”. I believe that this lifestyle is best and will do anything to make it work. If for whatever reason it isn’t working, I will be big enough to admit it and fix it!

 

Family– I do not know what I would do if my Husband didn’t support homeschooling. I certainly wouldn’t be writing this if he didn’t. Homeschool is a decision that we made together (my daughter included). We are also lucky enough to have support from our immediate family.

Some days are lonely – There are days when my daughter gets sad and wants a friend to play with. It makes me sad too. There isn’t always someone available to come over and play. Those are the days that I try my best to get out of the house. We go to the park, for a walk or head to the pool for some fun. After all, we eat, sleep, and homeschool under the same roof Every. Single. Day.

We have so much fun- We have lots of time and opportunities to explore our surroundings. We go on nature hikes, field trips at least twice a month, and build long-lasting and deep seeded relationships. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for this opportunity! My daughter is more cultured at age 5 than I was. She gets to see and do so much. The freedom we have is priceless. This is why we do what we do.

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THIS IS “OUR” JOURNEY!

Suzette Foister

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SAHM, Wife, Homeschooler, Owner/Artist of Bring Your Own Canvas