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We don’t eat out often—as a family of five, it’s just not economical. But there’s one place that we continuously attempt to visit every single month, because we love everything about it: Karl Strauss.

It helps that the Karl Strauss 4s Ranch location is right down the street from us, because if we aren’t swinging by on a Sunday after church, we’ll walk over from our house for lunch or dinner on a weekend.

But lucky for you, there are 10 locations in Southern California, including some in Los Angeles. Now if only they’d open some in New Mexico…I’m going to miss this place when we leave; it’s always a top recommendation when friends visit.

What keeps us going back for more time and time again?

Three things: the food, the service, and the beer. Each of those exceeds our expectations during every visit.

Karl Strauss: The Food.

Oh, the food! One of our favorite things about Karl Strauss is that they have a monthly special.

It keeps us on our toes, and is one reason why we try to visit each month. Sometimes it’s a featured entree, or sometimes it’s an appetizer, but regardless of what category it’s under, it’s bound to perfect.

If one of us doesn’t order the special of the month, we’re bound to get one of our regular favorites.

My husband almost always picks a burger—the T10 Burger with gorgonzola, mushrooms, and beer onions, to be exact.

Even though I’m usually a creature of habit, when I’m at Karl Strauss I almost always pick the monthly special just because I know it’ll be great.

I have a few favorite fallbacks if I’m not in the mood for the special.

Their Chop Shop Chicken Salad, the Beef Dip Sandwich, or the Blackened Mahi Tacos are always awesome picks.

But really, you can’t go wrong with anything off the menu. We’ve never had something that was even remotely mediocre.

Karl Strauss: food for the kiddos

As for the kids, we started out getting them each a mac and cheese kids meal (because I’m all about places that offer drinks with a kid’s meal, and we didn’t have our third kid when we started coming here), but it quickly became apparent that they needed more…especially when our youngest started eating more than his sisters.

So now we get them an adult Piggy Bank—mac and cheese mixed with chunks of bacon, ham, and sausage (hold the delicious crumb topping—because kids are silly).

They literally gobble it all up.

I don’t blame them—it’s some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had, and I’m overjoyed if I can sneak in a bite or two while I’m dishing it on their plates.

There’s one part to the menu that I can’t tell you about, and I feel horrible for saying that, but it’s the dessert.

My husband and I kept saying we’d head over for a date night and take advantage of not having to share the dessert with the kids, but we never made it happen.

They have a something called a Beeramisu—a fun brewery-like twist on a classic tiramisu—and it’s been calling my name for three years! Maybe we’ll try some before we leave. Hopefully.

Karl Strauss: The Service

We were hesitant about how family friendly Karl Strauss would be when we saw the words “brewing company” in their name.

Fun fact: we were once kicked out of a place for bringing a baby with us, so we weren’t sure just how casual it would be.

Novices to the San Diego brew scene, we were nervous that they’d turn their nose up to kids.

That worry was quickly put aside on our very first visit three years ago when our server—bless her heart—practically entertained my toddler and got her to eat her food while I had a few blissful bites to myself.

It was the smallest gesture that ensured we’d be back for more.

Time and time again, we’re just amazed and so thankful for the staff at the 4s Ranch location. They’re kind, accommodating, and always so helpful, and they go the extra mile to make sure that families are always taken care of.

Every time we’re at Karl Struass it’s always a give-in that there will be at least three other families dining there, too.

The high ceilings and ample space indoors makes the whole restaurant feel open and airy enough to cope with large families with little kids who have big voices.

We also love the option of dining out on the patio (for those days when the little ones may be a little extra salty).

Karl Strauss: The Beer

We LOVE their beer. Love, love, love it.

My favorite is their Windansea Wheat, a Bavarian Hefeweizen that’s smooth, crisp and so easy to drink.

They only have it on draft, which makes me slightly sad, because I wish we could take some bottles home with us.

They do sell growlers, but I’m a serious lightweight, and wouldn’t drink it fast enough.

My other two favorites are the Red Trolly, an Irish red ale that you can get it by the bottle almost any local store here, and a pilsner called Follow the Sun.

My husband always goes for one of their tart or sour beers that they have on tap.

One of the cool things about Karl Strauss is that—for all diners over 21—if you order an entree, they’ll bring you a taste of a beer that pairs well with your meal.

I may not like a beer on its own, but I’ll almost always enjoy what they bring out with my meal. It’s a fun way to try new things or see how they pair with different dishes.

Another way to try some of their beers is with a flight—great for sampling their small batch and limited edition beers or anything on their regular menu.

Have you been to Karl Strauss?

What do you like to get at Karl Strauss, or what’s something you can’t wait to try if you ever have a chance to visit?

The post Karl Strauss in San Diego, CA appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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If you live in, or are visiting San Diego, and “ride in a gondola” is not on your bucket list, then consider this a nudge to go and put it on your to-do list now.

Like, right now.

Fun fact: we lived about an hour from Venice for two years, and despite traveling to the iconic city multiple times, we somehow never ventured on an infamous gondola ride.

Crazy, right?

That’d be like visiting Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower, not eating a gyro in Greece, or hopping over to Hawaii and not experiencing a luau.

There are certain things you just have to do…or you may regret it later.

And regret it I did.

But then I heard through the grapevine that there’s a hidden gem in San Diego: gondolas that take you through Coronado Cays—the canals around Coronado Island—and I was instantly excited to experience a gondola ride.

Coolest Hidden Gem in San Diego

So instead of doing a typical “dinner and a movie” routine, we threw caution to the wind and jumped in our Gondola. (More like “stepped into the gondola gracefully). The Gondola Company completely delivered with one of the coolest dates ever.

Taking a gondola ride with The Gondola Company’ was seriously a highlight of our date nights so far.

It was like a mini vacation within a bustling city. We had time to just relax and enjoy each other’s company.

Plus, the gondolas are authentic, Venetian, and straight out of Italy; so it was basically perfect.

The Coolest Way to See Coronado

Our gondolier, “Giovanni,” totally eased any fears I had about getting in the gondola. The water looked choppy since it was breezy out that night, so I was a little nervous when we got in.

Giovanni explained how the gondola worked, and expressed that it would be smooth sailing. Turns out he was totally right. Once we were in their super comfy seats I didn’t have a care in the world.

Seriously, it was fantastic.

There was some light Italian music playing in the background, and that, combined with the wine, snacks, views, weather, and lack of kids around, made it heavenly.

Don’t Forget the Snacks!

We poured ourselves some chilled wine (they had some tasty varieties starting at $15, and they put it over chilled ice for us), and you can have snacks, too!

I brought some grown up lunchables (aka smocked bacon cheddar cheese, and summer sausage), and it was the PERFECT finger food snack for our outing.

If you’re looking for something a little more romantic, they also have the option of chocolate covered strawberries waiting there for your gondola ride.

Amazing Special Happening Now

From now until the end of May (2019), The Gondola Company is running a jaw dropping special: if you’re a teacher, first responder, or active duty military or a vet (you must present proof), you can reserve a gondola ride for up to 4 people for only $59!

That’s a $135 value, and you better believe it’s cheaper than dinner and a movie these days!

If you’ve been looking for something fun or unique to do…or if you just want to get out of your normal routine, find a date that works for you and book a gondola ride.

You won’t regret it!

Is a Gondola Rid in your future?

Have you ever experienced a gondola ride? Where were you, and what was it like? Or, is this on your bucket list now?

The post Coolest Date Ever: a Gondola Ride in San Diego appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Soooooo….this post is two years too late. Sorry, not sorry. When people ask me what it’s like having three kids I usually say it’s busier, and this is a prime example of how things I want to do, and meant to do, get pushed aside.

Before Logan was born (you can read his birth story here) I hired my friend, Chrissy Walther Photography, to capture Logan’s first moments with a “Fresh 48” shoot just after he arrived.

A Fresh 48, in case you’re not familiar, is a photo shoot taken within 48 hours of birth when they’re all super squishy, adorably sleepy, and when the mom is still (typically) in that post-birth, euphoric haze.

I didn’t do anything like that with the girls, and thought it would be so special to capture their reactions to meeting him for the first time since they were over the moon about having a baby brother.

But then he got sick immediately after he was born, and he spent his first week in the NICU getting antibiotics.

And it just so happened that his birth was right in the middle of RSV season, so the girls could only see him through a tiny little window, and they only allowed immediate family in the room with him, so having our photographer come in was also out of the question.

Thankfully, Chrissy graciously changed her schedule, and captured the moment when the girls officially got to meet him on the day he came home.

And oh, how special it was. They were over the moon.

For the next hour or so we just enjoyed being home as a family of five while Chrissy snapped away in the background.

I loved how gentle and sweet the girls were with him.

They’re still like that, actually. They treat him like a little precious doll.

I was always terrified of having more than one kid, and definitely not three of them, because how in the world would I get anything done?

Well, it turns out that older siblings are pretty great helpers…most of the time.

Actually, did you know that I never..

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E V E R Y year for the past five years I’ve told myself, “Don’t procrastinate on getting Easter baskets for the kids; you’ll regret waiting until the last minute.”

And what do you know…if you needed me the night before Easter for the past five years, you would find me in the middle of the Target Easter section cursing under my breath and wishing I gathered stuff earlier. (Then repeat that scenario at CVS and Walmart, because the Target shelves were always empty, and I’d have to go elsewhere).

Well, this is my lucky year, because I actually got my act together early.

And good news: there’s still plenty of time for YOU to get your basket together, too!

A New Spin on the Easter “Basket”

You’ll notice that this isn’t a traditional basket that will take up awkward space in your closet for the next 364 days.

Nope. This is a mixing bowl, but not just any mixing bowl: it was specifically designed for kids’ hands.

The color is a vibrant blue, and there’s silicone on the bottom, so it won’t slip and slide around when they’re using it.

Truth be told, I use this bowl more than often, because I like it so much. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe (insert praising hands emoji here).

The Easter Basket: Fill it with Fun

Since I didn’t procrastinate this year, I headed to Target’s One Spot, because when you’re playing Easter Bunny for three kids, those little things to fill it with start to add up. I got bubbles, some fun activity book for outside, some candy, and some little grow-your-own flowers.

I also have the following books on their way from Amazon (because when the Easter Bunny used to visit me, he always left a book, so I’m continuing that tradition).

For the 2 year old: Go, Dog. Go!
For the 4 year old: You’re My Little Cuddle Bug
For the 6 year old: Precious Moments Little Book of Prayers

Fun Cookie Cutters

Their baskets will also have these fun cookie cutters in them.

There’s an Under the Sea collection, and Easter bunch, and (not pictured) a fun Emoji set.

My kids have had the Emoji cookie cutters for a couple years already, and they actually use it with play-doh more than we do for cookies. That’s why that little kid’s rolling pin is in the basket, too.

This pack of play-doh would be awesome for the basket, too.

I love practical gifts, and these are long lasting and fun for more than just one occasion.

What Does Your Easter Basket Look Like?

Your turn! Do you procrastinate or is your basket already figured out? Which cookie cutter set do you have your eye on?

The post Easter Basket Idea For Little Kids appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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“Mama, I wanna go back to the hotel noooooooooooooooow,” whined my 4-year-old daughter loudly while standing in line to meet a Disney princess a mere 30 minutes after we entered Disneyland.

Part of me rolled my eyes (okay, I actually rolled my eyes, because tickets to Disneyland are not cheap, and had I known she would’ve rather just stayed at our awesome hotel the whole time, then we could’ve saved a lot of money).

Special thanks to HoJo for giving us a discounted rate for this stay!

But she had a point: we were staying at the HoJo (Howard Johnson Anaheim, to be more specific) just outside of Disneyland, and it was pretty darn awesome.

The hotel boasts that they’re steps away from Disneyland (less than ten-minutes to walk there, actually), family-friendly (totally agree), and fun (seriously fun…keep reading!), and I totally agree.

Something just for you at the HoJo!

Already know you want to stay here? I’ve got a special deal just for my readers!

Use the code LNLR and you can get 15% off their regular rate. If you’re an AP (fancy term for an annual Disney passholder), then you can spend 20% on your next stay with the code LNAP.

HoJo Anaheim: a family-friendly hotel

We travel with our kids as much as we can, and usually when a place says “family friendly,” they mean they provide a crib for little ones. Big whoop, right?

But HoJo Anaheim takes “family friendly to a whole new level. At the HoJo, kids get balloon animals and pirate booty (aka chocolate coins) at check-in.

(Shout out to Chris for not even batting an eye when I said I had three kids. Even though there were a couple people behind me in line, the staff totally took over while he jumped to the side and enthusiastically made some!)

The rooms come with amenities specifically for kids (like the kid’s suite with two bathrooms and a rubber ducky that they get to take home), and the TV’s have access to Netflix and Pandora so your kids can settle down at night or watch their favorite shows while getting ready in the morning.

The kids’ bathroom has a bathtub in it, and then the second bathroom was a fabulous shower stall.

And there’s even a store where you can get everything from snacks and drinks to souvenirs and swim diapers. They’ve got you covered (literally)!

shout out to Twinkle, Twirl, and Sass for the fabulous clothes!

One of my favorite things is that the HoJo recognizes that kids need naps, so they have an option where they’ll clean your room and have it up and ready for you by 1pm so littles can come back and rest.

Speaking of resting, their room—yes, the kids had their “own” room—had a bunkbed, and it was almost the highlight of their trip. This room sleeps up to six since it has a pull-out sofa, and a king bed in the next room.

If you don’t need that many beds, have no fear: they have smaller rooms that are just as fantastic, and they all sleep at least five people.

And if you’re traveling with kids who think bunk beds would be awesome (they are), but you don’t want them in a separate room, check out their Queen Bunk rooms.

HoJo Anaheim: Super close to Disneyland

It took us less than 10 minutes from the time we left our HoJo to the time we got to the Disneyland entrance! How’s that for close?

I love that you can actually see Disney from the property.

The first time we went to Disneyland we stayed somewhere that wasn’t as fun, and was a far walk from the park.

After spending a long day on your feet, the last thing I wanted to do was walk so far back to my hotel—not all of us can be pushed around in a stroller…must be nice, kids. I was thankful the Hojo was so close.

And if you want a quick breakfast on your way, you’ll pass several places on your stroll to Disney. We saw McDonald’s, Panera, I-Hop, and a Denny’s, just to name a few.

Pro tip: Save time, and order your breakfast from McDonald’s ahead of time on their app so you don’t have to wait in the crazy line.

HoJo Anaheim: The Water Park

Y’all, the HoJo Anaheim also has a waterpark on property that totally stole the show.

Despite the fact that it was a “freezing” 55 degrees outside (freezing by SoCal standards, of course), Castaway Cove is literally the only place the kids wanted to be during our time at Disneyland.

As a mom, I was over the moon that Castaway Cove didn’t have an actual pool.

Two out of three of my kids don’t know how to fully swim yet, so instead of stressing the whole time, they just waded around and played in the fabulous 1-foot pool.

It was perfect.

There’s a hot tub at the other end of Castaway Cove, but I don’t think my kids noticed it. But if you have older kids who want to play and/or relax in a genuine pool, have no fear: there’s s one on the other side of the property. The HoJo’s got you covered!

HoJo Anaheim for your next Disneyland Stay

If you’re headed to Disney, forget about the princesses, the fun Disney food, the magic, and the mouse. All my kids wanted to do was to play at the hotel…go figure.

It’s little details that truly make this place family friendly, and the next time we head back, I’ll for sure make sure we plan in some special time just for them to play and enjoy the hotel more.

Don’t forget to use the code LNLR and you can get 15% off their regular rate. If you’re an AP (fancy term for an annual Disney passholder), save 20% on your stay with the code LNAP.

Have you stayed at the HoJo before? Would you stay here?

The post The HoJo Anaheim: aka the Coolest Family-Friendly Hotel Near Disneyland appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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I have two kids who outright refuse to eat eggs…unless they’re eating it in this brunch pizza.

Although, despite its name, I’ve made it for breakfast, brunch, and dinner, and I’ve definitely eaten it cold for lunch before. So, basically, it’s perfect any time of the day.

“Brunch” Pizza sounds more exciting and trendy than “breakfast pizza that you can eat any time of the day.”

The exciting thing about this brunch pizza is that you can tweak it to you liking.

Add whatever toppings you want, or just keep it simple.

Brunch Pizza: Customize It!

When I make this for my family we usually pick our own toppings. We draw an imaginary line down the middle and the kids get to pick what goes on their half, and we put our toppings on the other half.

They love: cheese, ham, olives, sausage (and sometimes I sneak some onions and mushrooms on their side “accidentally.” (wink wink).

My husband and I love putting some pesto on top of the crescent rolls, then adding all the things (although, sometimes less is more, so we have to tame ourselves). Sausage, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and jalapenos or green chile are our favorite toppings.

The recipe below is for the basic one that I make at my Pampered Chef brunch parties, and I love it because if someone is dairy free I simply leave corner without cheese, or if someone doesn’t want meat, I can leave the meat off in a section, too.

People sometimes scoff or turn up their knows when they see me start throwing asparagus in it, but oh my gosh—asparagus and eggs are so
delicious together.

Brunch Pizza: Make it!
Brunch Pizza
An exciting breakfasty twist on a classic favorite. The exciting thing about this brunch pizza is that you can tweak to make everyone in the family happy.
Course Breakfast
  • 2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 6-7 eggs beaten
  • 4 ounces diced deli ham or bacon
  • 1/2 —1 pound ground sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 cup 4 ounces shredded colby jack cheese blend
  • 1-2 thinly sliced green onions on top optional
  • 1 tsp Crushed Peppercorn & Garlic Rub
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Unroll crescent dough; keep pieces together as much as possible. Arrange dough edge to edge on lightly floured stone; form into desired shape (rectangle, circle, etc.), and create a crust. Roll dough out using Bakers Roller, and pinch dough together where pieces meet.
  • While oven is preheating, use the Mix ‘n Chop to break apart and brown sausage in a medium-sized pan. When sausage is cooked, drain it to get rid of excess fat and oil.
  • Chop the ham and asparagus; slice the bell pepper. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, and garlic rub.
  • Sprinkle toppings (sausage, ham, bell pepper, asparagus, and green onion) evenly over dough; drizzle egg evenly over pizza. Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake 15-17 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is set in the center.
  • Remove from oven. EAT (but don’t burn your mouth…let it cool for a few minutes first!)
*NOTES: Crescent rolls work best if kept cold. Keep in fridge until you’re ready to use them.
Extra tools to help you along the way

Here are a few other things I used to make this brunch pizza that are super helpful to have in your life.

Mini Serving Spatula, cheese grater, Quick Slice, Food Chopper

Brunch Pizza: a Family Favorite

It’s truly a favorite around here, and whenever I see crescent rolls on sale at Costco, it’s assumed around our house that I’ll make this at least once or twice.

Let me know if you make this. It’s so simple, and a fun twist on regular pizza or breakfast for dinner, and truly is perfect for your next brunch, too.

What toppings would you put on your brunch pizza?

The post Brunch Pizza the Whole Family Will Love appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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Special thanks for Stitch Fix for sponsoring this post by waiving the style fee on this box!

I’m not going to lie to you: 15 minutes before I took these pictures and posted some stories on Instagram, I actually told my friend and husband that I didn’t feel like a woman lately. Not literally, of course…just figuratively.

I couldn’t remember the last time I put on makeup, my hair was pretty much stuck in a permanent messy bun—again—and, thanks to “that time of the freaking month” I’ve just been feeling very blah.

Awesome shirt from Twinkle, Twirl, and Sass

But I also knew I wanted to share this Stitch Fix box with everyone (because, spoiler alert: I loved it), so I spent a whopping 15 minutes getting ready. I put some makeup on, sprayed dry shampoo in my hair, curled some strands, and slapped on some lipstick. And, y’all. I seriously feel like a new person right now.

Anyway…this box! This isn’t my first Stitch Fix box, but it is the first one I’m finally blogging about, because I really liked it and I feel like I finally have a good stylist; I need to figure out how to keep her!

What is Stitch Fix?

Stitch Fix is basically your own personal styling service. After you sign up you fill out a style profile about everything you like and dislike. Then, you’re matched to a stylist who handpicks pieces based on your style, size, taste, and budget. Keep what you love, and r eturn the rest in the bag they provide.

It’s for everyone! They carry women’s clothes (0-3XL), men’s, kids, and maternity.

Okay, but how much?

There’s a $20 “styling” fee, but you can apply the 20 bucks to anything you decide to keep. And if you keep the whole shebang, you get 25% off your entire purchase. Use this link and you can get $25 towards your first Stitch Fix box!

It’s not a subscription, so you can cancel whenever you want, or you can schedule it to come regularly…whether that’s weekly, once a month, every other month, or seasonally.

My Stitch Fix Haul

I told my stylist we have an upcoming cruise, and that I’d like some versatile pieces for warm weather and chilly mornings/evenings, and she totally delivered.

AUGUST MIST | Kathalia Split Neck Knit Top $34

Oh, I saw this and got excited, because it’s totally something I’d never buy for myself. I never thought I looked good in yellow, so I always steered clear. But the polka dots make it fun, and the almost-sheer material makes it a little flirty! It’s casual, comfortable, flattering, and I’m totally keeping it!

STS BLUE | Neve Fray Hem Distressed Skinny Jean $59

I’m in between sizes right now, which I’m pretty sure is one of the most annoying first world problem things in a woman’s life. But when I put these on, they fit like a glove, and I felt—dare I say it?—a little sexy and so put together!

These are keepers for sure, and while they fit perfect in the waist right now, I’m almost tempted to buy a size smaller, too. I can’t wait for our next date night!

TOMS | Monica Fabric Espadrille Wedge $80

The price tag on this one is a little on the steep side ($80) despite the fact that I actually like these. They’re comfy and they fit, which can always be a challenge with shoes.

I have one more day to decide if I’d wear these enough to warrant spending this much on them (leaning towards no). Even though I love that TOMS gives a pair of shoes to someone in need when you buy a pair, I don’t now if I can justify getting them because of that.

MARKET & SPRUCE | Zaza Open Cardigan $58

This cardigan is exactly what I asked for (something to keep me warm when it’s chilly out), but for $58 I think I need a little something more—pockets or maybe a smidgen lighter shade of blue to make it really pop.

I had to think about what I’d wear it with, and I came up kinda short. Sadly, this one will be returned. (Although, the more I look at this picture the more i like it…)

PAPERMOON | Paulita Lace Overlay Knit Top $44

I love the color and the split in the back, but that’s not enough to make me keep this. There’s a fun flower print on the overlay; I just wish the neckline was different to make it a little more flattering.

What would YOU pick?

Have you tried Stitch Fix before? What would you pick from this haul? Wanna give it a shot? Use this link and you can get $25 towards your first Stitch Fix box! I truly love that I can shop from my house and that every piece was picked for me!

The post Stitch Fix: March Box appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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If you’re headed to the Happiest Place on Earth on land or by sea, then you (and/or your group) need some fun flare to make your adventure even more exciting, and what better way to do that than adding some matching Disney shirts to your packing list?!

Special thanks to Twinkle, Twirl, and Sass for providing these shirts to make our trip so much more magical.

Visiting any Disney-related place isn’t just a fun trip, it’s an experience, and what better way to experience the magic than with the people you love in fun matching Disney shirts?

You’ve already paid up the wazoo for your trip, so make it that much more memorable and sport some fun attire for you and your crew.

My friend Angela over at Twinkle, Twirl, and Sass has the best assortment of matching Disney shirts around. Not only is the quality dreamy—no more box t-shirts that are scratchy, stiff, and unflattering; these are seriously the best. They’re super stylish, incredibly soft, and (I think) very flattering.

I wanted something fun enough to wear on our Disney Cruise, something we could sport at Disneyland, too, and something I wouldn’t mind wearing on a random Thursday.

These mouse shirts totally came through and checked all of those boxes, plus we’re always getting compliments on them!

My favorite part was coming up with what each one would say. For the kids we went with Baby Mouse, Mini Mouse, and Big Sister Mouse. Then, for the grown ups they say Mama Mouse, Papa Mouse, and Uma Mouse for my mom.

We’re gearing up for Disney cruise number two next month, and my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew are coming along, so I got them matching Disney shirts so we can all walk around like one big happy Disney-loving family. It’ll be epic.

And best of all: you’ll want to wear it even when you’re not walking around with Mickey and friends.

That’s why we got them to kinda match our personalities. I love that Twinkle, Twirl and Sass has tons of color and top options for everyone.

The amount of times the girls wear these shirts I thought for sure they’d have holes in them already, but they still look as good as new.

What would YOUR matching Disney shirts say on them if you bought some?

The post Matching Disney Shirts You Need in Your Life appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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My husband’s been away for training since the end of January, and while having him gone for work is nothing new, this time it’s hitting me a little differently.

I think I’m struggling a little more this time, because I know what’s coming in the near future, and I’m focusing on that rather than the present. Either way, the days are long—very, very long, and I’m actively praying that the year ahead will actually be short. Is that horrible to say? I just want to be on the other side of it already.

Like I said above, deployments and TDYs (essentially a military “business” trip that can last anywhere from a day to 364 days depending on how they classify it) are nothing new in our household. Last night I tried to count how many deployments we’ve been through together and I think the answer is five, going on six. Some deployments were “only” two months long, while our longest one to date was a little over seven months.

TDYs, on the other hand; I literally have no idea how many of those we’ve done. On average, he’s away about 3-4 months a year if we tried to add it all up.

But this current TDY he’s on (and the upcoming deployment) is different. The kids are older and more aware of how much they miss their dad (and they let me know often…very, very often), my patience is thinner, my dreams and personal desires to do “me” things are bigger, and I’m hyper aware of what’s to come.

I’ve been treating our very long, “bad” days with sorrow and pity, because I feel like they are foreshadowing the next year of my life. I swear lately we have more days where I’m on my last nerve, and my short fuse is coming out on my kids by yelling and being short with them. And I don’t like it.

It doesn’t help that we haven’t been on our normal schedule for the last two and a half weeks (sickness that will never leave our house, a small trip, no school, etc.), and we’ve been around each other almost 24/7, which is enough to let anyone go crazy. In fact, I’m almost certain this is what’s causing my frustration.

As a mom…as a woman with goals, dreams, plans, wants, and desires, it’s hard to put yourself on the back burner day in and day out, and it leads to a burnout. I’m all for delegating and taking the load off of myself, but when you have sick kids you’re kinda their main squeeze; handing them off to a daycare, sitter, or school is a pretty much a no-no, so that’s just one extra reason why the pressure’s been building lately.

I realize this post is sounding very down in the dumps, and I can assure you we’ve had some smiles despite the gloomy picture I’m painting here. I just wanted to lay it out there that not every day is a smiling happy day at Disneyland.

And even though my answer to the “I don’t know how you do it,” comment will always remain the same: ‘Because I have to.” It doesn’t make it any easier on those very long, long days.

But I do have faith the sun will shine again (seriously, San Diego…enough with this rain and all the sickness it’s brought to our little community).

I know that with the right mind set, talking to people about it, talking to my kids about it, and with a different outlook on my current situation, I can embrace this short season I’m in, because it won’t last forever. Once our family is back on the healthy train again, we’ll be able to get back to our normal routine.

Until then, I’m learning to smile through the tears.

The post Some Days are Long, Very, Very Long appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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There’s a saying I’m sure you’ve heard of, and you might even have it hanging on your wall or on a picture frame: “Home is where the heart is.” And while that’s true, military families take that one step further. In our home, for example, “Home is where the Air Force sends us” hangs on our wall, because we have to turn every new place into our new home.

Marine wife and mom of three, Jessica McGehee, took that feeling of home—in every sense of the word—and ran with it for a nationwide cookie contest Barnes & Noble held late last year. She created the most delectable cookie out there and named it, “Taste of Home.”

And here’s the coolest part: SHE WON!

The My Cookie Story contest rules were simple: create a cookie, and share the story behind it. Jessica did just that, and it not only wowed the esteemed judges (including Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen), but she also won $5,000 and her cookie will be in every Barnes & Noble Cafe this coming holiday season.

I was invited to the awards ceremony at Barnes & Noble Eastlake to check it all out, and I was floored with how humble and excited Jessica was to share her cookie and story with everyone.

The Story Behind the Cookie

“This is our cookie,” Jessica said more than once—referring to military spouses everywhere. It’s crazy to have such a strong connection to a cookie, but I could more than relate as she described the story behind her Taste of Home creation.

Inspiration for the cookie came from her oldest daughter and the four places she’s lived because of the military.

Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble

“We love our nomadic life and all its unique adventures,” she said. “We love that ‘home’ isn’t one place, but everyplace we’ve been.” And she’s right on the money with that. Literally.

The Taste of Home Cookie

The cookie itself is based on a classic chocolate chip bar cookie, but that’s where the excitement begins. It’s topped with marshmallows, representing their first snow in North Carolina. There’s a sprinkling of course sugar crystals, representing their time in Arizona’s desert.

As if that’s not enough, bits of bacon give the cookie an awesome twang of saltiness and texture, while reminding them of their stint in Texas. And as a finishing touch, the Taste of Home cookie has white chocolate drizzled on top as an homage to the white-capped waves they saw when they lived in Florida.

Military life, with all the constant moving around, can take some getting used to, but when you savor specific moments, it doesn’t matter. Just like this cookie. A mixture of flavors that may not seemingly go together can turn out to be a masterpiece.

Jessica McGeHee is pictured here with Neil Strong, Vice President of Cafe Operations for Barnes & Noble

And she’s not lying: the cookie is perfect. It’s chewy, creamy, crunchy, smooth, sweet, salty, and totally melts in your mouth. Basically, it’s everything you want in a cookie, and more.

Neil Strong, the vice president of Cafe Operations for Barnes & Noble, said, “Jessica McGehee’s submission of a cookie with ingredients representing the different places her family has lived due to her husband’s job in the military both moved us for its story, as well as impressed us for its baking creativity.”

Try a Taste of Home

Sweet Street Desserts is currently baking up a storm—fine tuning Jessica’s recipe as I type so they can have it ready for the 2019 holiday season.

The Taste of Home cookie bar will be available at every Barnes & Noble nationwide this winter.

Photo courtesy of Barnes and Noble

But if you can’t wait that long, I found her original recipe, along with her story is on the Barnes and Noble website.

Photo courtesy of Barnes and Noble

And if you want to stay in the loop with what’s up Jessica’s sleeve (rumor has it she has a book coming out soon!), follow her on Twitter!

If you had to pick an ingredient that represents a place where you’ve lived, what would you pick?

*Thank you to Barnes and Noble for hosting me at this awards ceremony event.

The post Barnes & Noble My Cookie Story Winner appeared first on Jessica Lynn Writes.

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