Thursday, August 31, 2017

Family Fun At Spangler Candy!

Have you ever heard of Spangler Candy? Well you might not know the name, but if I was a betting person I'd say you've had their candy! Headquartered in Bryan, Ohio, Spangler is the manufacturer of Dum Dums®, Saf-T-Pops, Circus Peanuts and Spangler Candy Canes. In fact they are the only candy cane manufacturer that still manufactures their candy canes in the United States!

I'm born and bred in Ohio and I never realized our State was the home of Dum Dums®. Well when I found out this amazing news and the fact that you could take a tour of their factory, the kids and I backed up for the drive and headed out for a yummy adventure!

The facility is quite impressive. It comprises over 500,000 square feet including office, manufacturing, and warehouse space. Spangler has a museum and store attached to it. When we got there we took a few pictures in front of our favorite Dum Dums flavors and then headed in to get our tickets for the tour. You can check their website for updated tour time, date and pricing information as it changes seasonally.

To start the tour, we donned our flattering hair nets and took our place on the trolley and we were off. Due to safety and FDA regulations, the trolley tour does not go through the main kitchen areas, but we got to see the warehouse, the palletization area and automatic case packers. The tour is supplemented with videos showing candy cooking and forming in the kitchen areas. The videos are shown right on the trolley so there is no interruption in the tour.

It was so cool to see and we learned some very interesting facts. They make 12 million Dum Dums® each day! The mystery flavor is created when the line is finishing one flavor and starting another so it is different every time. And since Spangler is the last candy cane producer manufacturing in the United States, they make candy canes for other companies so they produce branded candy canes including Jelly Belly®, Smarties®, Oreo®, Swedish Fish®, and Sour Patch®. It was pretty amazing to see and yes smell, all the different candies in the warehouse.

Photography is not allowed during the tour but you are allowed to take pictures with the trolley at the end. The kids couldn't resist. We then had to quick head out to the store and explore.

Yes they had free samples! We even got to taste the newest flavor of Dum Dums®, birthday cake. They were so good we had to buy some to take home (along with a ton of other taste treats including Circus Peanuts, more Dum Dums® and candy canes in too many flavors to count!)

If your live in the Midwest, Spangler Candy makes a great roadtrip! It is in a quaint little town and easily accessible by highway. Young and old will all enjoy!

For more information about Spangler Candy Store and Museum, contact them at:

Spangler Candy
400 N. Portland St., Bryan, Oho 43506
Telephone:  888.636.4221 or 419.633.6439


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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Why I'm Entering The Disney Parks Moms Panel Search 2018 And You Should Too

Photo courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog @Disney

How I discovered the Disney Parks Moms Panel

Disney is in my blood and it has been from a very early age. I love everything about Disney and strive to learn as much as possible about the Walt Disney Parks and Cruise Line, movies, products etc. I can remember when I was planning our first trip to Walt Disney World as a family. I already knew a lot about the parks because I had traveled there several times as a child and as an adult without children. This however was my first trip with kids and I wanted to know it all so I didn't miss anything! This is when I stumbled upon the Disney Parks Moms Panel and fell in love all over again!

Do you know about the Disney Parks Moms Panel? Well first it's not just moms. It is moms, dads and grandparents who love Disney and are experts in planning Disney vacations. Disney Parks Moms Panel was started in 2008 and ever since the panelist have helped others online, by answering vacation planning questions using their own personal Disney experiences. They basically spread their own version of pixie dust on others vacations.

After a couple of family trips to Walt Disney World and a few cruises on Disney Cruise Line, I saw an advertisement for the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search. Up until this time I had never really thought much about how the panelist became panelists. I just enjoyed all their tips and tricks. But now I had my own tips and tricks and I wanted to be a part of it! But do I know enough?

Jumping in the deep end! My first time entering.

Well I stayed on the sidelines for a couple of more years too scared to put my feet in the water. Last year I finally got up the nerve to give it a try. It was a nerve racking experience. I knew it would be tough, but I never realized how tough! No one knows how many applicants there are because Disney doesn't release the numbers, but it is estimated that this year 20,000 people will apply. That's a lot of people for roughly 30 spots (and some people come back from the previous year so there are probably less). Why go through all of this? Well besides getting the coveted title of Disney Parks Moms Panelist, you get to go to exclusive training at Walt Disney World including access to many backstage areas. And if that isn't enough, you also receive a trip to a Disney Destination for you and up to three family members and/or park tickets for their participation on the Disney Parks Moms Panel.

So how did my first time applying go? Each year can be different. Last year there were 3 rounds. You enter under a specialty: Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club and runDisney. I entered for Disney Cruise Line since this had become our Disney vacation of choice and I felt the most well versed on this type of vacation. Round one is questions with a certain word count allowed that you answer online specific to the specialty for which you are applying. I have never spent so much time to answer a few questions. After I wrote, rewrote and rewrote about 25 million more times, I was still no more confident in my answers, but time was running out so I hit submit. 

Then the wait began. It seemed like an eternity. I didn't think I could last. I needed an outlet. But what? I'm the only Disney crazed person among my friends, so no one to commiserate with. My family just thought I was crazy. So I did what any social media loving mom does. I turned to Facebook. There I found a couple of wonderful groups with people from all over the world applying for the Disney Parks Moms Panel. It was amazing. All these people going through the same excruciating wait. And the longer I waited, the surer I became that I wasn't moving on. But at that point it didn't matter. I had met some many fabulous Disney loving people. And if I didn't make it, one or more of them would. We were each others chEARing (couldn't resist) section! 

A little over two weeks after submissions were due the wait was over. The beauty of Facebook is I knew exactly when the pixie dusted emails came out. But then the fear set in. Should I look at my email? I avoided it for the better part of the day but then I couldn't ignore the elephant in the room any longer. I took a deep breath and opened up outlook. There was an email. I made it to the second round! A minute of pure ecstasy followed by shear terror! Now I would have to make a video.

So the process started over again. The sleepless nights. The cold sweats. More questions to write, rewrite and rewrite 25 million times more. And yes the dreaded video. At least I got my husband to get the kids out of the house to film. Everyone says be yourself. The problem is I don't think of myself as all that entertaining and add my nervous self to the mix and well you probably get a hot mess! Below is what I came up with. Feel free to laugh! I go between laughter and tears when I look at it. But I try to remember a quote from Walt Disney himself "The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique."

Then the wait began...again! This time it was still bad but I had my people from the beginning. We talked. We laughed. We sometimes cried when we thought we forgot to add the most important thing or used the wrong nomenclature. But in the end we had each other. 

This time there was no pixie dust filling my inbox after the wait. I didn't make it to the Round 3, the final round. But I was okay with it. I had made it farther than I thought I would and made some amazing friends along the way. I did still anxiously await who made it and celebrated their victories!

Already another year has passed. I have continued my Facebook friendships with my fellow future Disney Moms Parks panelists. It's almost time to start the process again. September 6th is the magical date the applications website opens. There are butterflies in my belly and hopefully soon there will be pixie dust in my inbox!

Have you ever wanted to be on the Disney Parks Moms Panel? Here's what you need to know for the 2018 Search!!

Applications for the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search 2018 open at noon EDT on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 and round one closes at noon EDT on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Discover more about being a Panelist by clicking here and check out the participation guidelines. Then be yourself, apply and Follow along with #DisneyMP have fun! Yes have fun because that's what Disney is all about and know that I'm wishing everyone that applies faith, love and pixie dust!

Follow me on social media and I'll keep you updated on my progress. Let me know if you're applying. I'd love to chEAR you on!

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Celebrate National NonProfit Day By Voting For Kids In Flight

August 17th in National NonProfit Day. Here is a quick and easy way to celebrate and help out a great cause! Have you heard of Kids in Flight? Kids in Flight was founded in 2003 and is a non-profit organization that uses aviation related activities and airplane rides to give children with serious illnesses or disabilities an opportunity to escape by soaring above their crises, complications and struggles. The organization serves children and families that mostly reside in the Cleveland and Akron areas or are served by a local hospital.

Kids in Flight is a finalist for a $25,000 grant from State Farm Insurance Neighborhood Assist. They are one of 200 finalist. 40 finalist will be awarded the grant in September. This grant amount covers the entire annual budget for Kids in Flight's Wings of Wonder (WOW) event, which is their pinnacle event of the year. For 10 years now, WOW has provided 750 children with terminal illnesses and their families the unique experience of flying in a private plane over the city of Cleveland. The funds are used to provide food, entertainment, and insurance on the event as the volunteer pilots fly the families at no charge in their private planes with the child co-piloting the flight.

This is where you come in! In order to win one of the grants, public votes in support of Kids in Flight will be counted by the State Farm Neighborhood Assist voting link. 10 daily votes from a legitimate e-mail address may be cast each day for the 10 days the voting is open from August 16th through August 25th. Click here to vote! It's that simple! A couple of clicks can mean so much to a seriously ill child and their family! So please take the time to vote and share this with others so they can also help Kids in Flight!

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ice Cream Rolls Come to Town At Sweet Freeze

I was so excited to learn that ice cream rolls and liquid nitrogen ice cream were coming to my little neck of the woods in North Olmsted, Ohio! Sweet Freeze opened on Saturday, August 12th at Great Northern Mall and from this point forward I will never look at ice cream the same way again! It is the smoothest and creamiest ice cream I have ever tasted!!

Sweet Freeze offers a plethora of tasty treats from floats and Macarons to awe inspiring liquid nitrogen ice cream. But what I was most excited to try were the ice cream rolls. What are ice cream rolls? Ice cream rolls are a popular dessert on the streets of Thailand. Ice cream base and flavoring is poured on an icy cold plate and mixed together. Then this tasty mixture is spread out, flattened, rolled, squished into a cup, and topped with sweet treats such as candy and fresh fruit. The result is ice cream like you've never tasted! It is so delicious, smooth and creamy! It's texture is amazing due to how fast it freezes on the plate limiting the amount and size of ice crystals created. It is a truly amazing process. Take a peek at the video below. They are true artists!

For the ice cream rolls you can mix and match your own flavor and toppings or you can go with one of their creative mash ups. They have so many flavors and toppings to choose from including fresh fruit, cookies and candy. I love strawberries so I went with the Strawberry Dream which is strawberry roll ice cream topped with strawberries, waffle squares and chocolate waffles and I had them add whipped cream just to gilled the lily. It was so good! Not super sweet but full of fresh strawberry flavor. It was creamy, dreamy heaven!

So if you get a chance check out Sweet Freeze and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.They are such an amazing bunch of talented people creating fabulous ice cream!

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Family Fun in Fort Wayne

We were so honored and excited when we were invited by Visit Fort Wayne to come spend the day with them. We knew it was going to be a blast! What we didn't realize is how much there really is to see and do in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If you follow us on social media, you've gotten a sneak peek of all the action. It really is a perfect family fun and friendly town.

We woke up super early, got the car all packed and headed out for all the fun! What I didn't realize is how close we really were to the fun. On their website, Visit Fort Wayne says they are "In the Heart of it All" and they really are. Just 197 miles from Cleveland we were there in no time. And look what was waiting for us. A lovely goody bag. So nice of them!!

We started our day at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. It is one of the Top 10 Zoos in the Nation. It is a beautiful zoo and so easy to navigate. The animals were amazing!

 Jude and Joel got to feed the giraffes! It was the closest we've ever gotten to these beautiful creatures!

We took a little time to hatch out of our shells! Then we were off again for another adventure on the Sky Safari Ride.

The views from the top were amazing!!

This is the view of the African Zoo Safari Trail. Breathtaking right?!?

In the Australian Adventure we got to meet a Tasmanian Devil!

And hang out with some kangaroos. Yes they really are that close!

In the Indiana Family Farm we celebrated Sonya and Sarah's Birthdays.

Then we brushed a few goats. They were super soft!

Finally Jude took some time to chillax in the rain forest before heading to our next stop. Lunch!!!

We went to Lunch on the Plaza in Downtown Fort Wayne.

It is located in Freimann Square which is so nice! There were so many food trucks to choose from.

We couldn't pass up the grilled cheese and fried cheese curds from Who Cut the Cheese.

 There was plenty of grassy areas and tables to relax and eat.

After lunch we were ready for some more fun this time with science! That meant Science Central time! Science Central opened in 1995 and is located in the iconic former City Light and Power Plant, built in 1929. The building itself is really cool! It has the distinction of being the only science center in the region and most-visited Fort Wayne museum.

It is three floors of pure fun with 35,000-square feet of exhibit space, temporary exhibition area, three classrooms, demonstration theater, gift store, exhibits repair shop and offices. The kids even learned a few things without even knowing it. Bonus!!

After our visit Jude was literally left dizzy with excitement!

So where to next you ask? Well we once again worked up quite an appetite. So when in Fort Wayne what should you do when you need something sweet? Head to Yummi Bunni!

What's Yummi Bunni you ask? Well it's only about the most amazing thing ever. Imagine that a donut and a scoop of ice cream had a baby. Yep that's a Yummi Bunni! Look at that. It's almost as big as his head. And yes he ate it all (well minus a few bites from me)!

Too stuffed to move, we then decided to check into our room at the Hilton Fort Wayne at the Grand Wayne Convention Center. As you can see the kids made themselves right at home. The hotel is in the perfect location. Central to everything in downtown Fort Wayne.

The rooms are so spacious and comfortable. The Hilton had such a nice assort of toiletries.

We felt so welcomed. Given our recent trip to Yummi Bunni we saved the pastries for breakfast the next day. They were delicious!!

The hotel felt very family friendly. With a spacious lobby.

And a very nice restaurant centrally located across from the front desk.

The fitness center is well equipt. After all that we ate, I probably should have spent some actual time on the machines.

Up next was a canal boat tour on the Sweet Breeze thank to Fort Wayne Outfitters.

It is an amazing time for the riverfront in Fort Wayne. It will be going through an unprecedented transformation in the next few years. This effort is being spearheaded by Riverfront Fort Wayne.

The the Maumee, St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers converge in the middle of Fort Wayne. Riverfront Fort Wayne has a vision to evolve and develop the area to become a center of activity. The plan is develop areas of retail as well as wildlife to make it a multi-use prosperous area for the community and its visitors.

After our relaxing boat ride it was time for some TinCaps Baseball.

The Fort Wayne TinCaps play at Parkview Field. It is a wonderful stadium.

There truly isn't a bad seat in the house.

The stadium is super family friendly. They have a great food selection. The stadium itself was so clean. It was very easy to maneuver through which means a lot when traveling with kids. They have family restrooms. They even have a private nursing room in the ladies restroom. Such a nice touch!

We had a blast! We had to unfortunately cut our visit short due to some pretty nasty rain that moved in. But not before we got in a few more family photos to commemorate such a fabulous trip to the ballpark!

But we used our time wisely and snuck in a trip to the hotel pool before bed. Another reason why we loved the Hilton Fort Wayne.

We were up early the next day to explore a little more of the City before we headed home. The weather was perfect for a walk around town! There really is some photo worthy architecture. Above is the Allen County Courthouse,

This is the Indiana Michigan Power Building. Can you find Jude in the picture?

A little blurry but there he is! He had so much fun taking this picture. It was his Where's Waldo moment!

We had one final stop before we headed home. DeBrand Fine Chocolates.

Yes it was like I died and went to chocolate heaven. There was so much wonderfulness to choose from! This is a little sample of what we took home. The Black and White Truffle was my favorite. It was so smooth and luxurious. It just melted in your mouth! Yum!!!

So that was our mini trip to Fort Wayne. Time had come to load up the car and head home. It was so packed full of family fun activities, I can't even pick a favorite. I am sure this will not be our last trip to Fort Wayne. We have so many more activities on our list to try out like the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, And we definitely need to see all the wonderful updates to Riverfront up ahead!

Have you been Fort Wayne recently? If so let us know all about the family fun you had. Haven't been there yet. Well then I think it's time for you to Visit Fort Wayne!

*This trip was provided to us by Visit Fort Wayne but all the opinions and reviews are ours.

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