Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the "Guru." A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily "how to" enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND "how-to" find joy with your family in the cozy haven you've created and can't wait to get home to!

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Mandie And The Secret Tunnel is a series of best-selling books I’ve heard about for years. When I found out that Mandie books had been made into movies, I knew I had to watch one and review it. I’ve been having so much fun writing these family movie reviews and this is #3 in the series. I’m watching this one without my teenager so that Princess and I can read the books before we watch all the movies together.  Find out what I think about the Mandie and the Secret Tunnel movie below!

movie trailer

Mandie and The Secret Tunnel

movie: Mandy and The Secret Tunnel

date: 2009

cast: Dean Jones, Lexi Johnson, Amanda Waters

runtime: 103 minutes

rating: G

rating explanation: General Audience

available to watch: DVD & Prime Video (streaming online video): At the time of my viewing, I was able to watch this for free on Amazon Prime.

DVD
The books that the Mandie and the Secret Tunnel movie are based on are historical fiction mysteries. Mandie and her friends find themselves in the midst of a mystery wherever they go.  The background, though, is the 1900s prairie.

Amazon describes the move as, “being based on the Mandie book series written by Lois Leppard and set in the late 1800s, this film boasts a delightful cast of characters who, in the tradition of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE and ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, learn valuable lessons as they conquer hardships and celebrate life’s triumphs. Young Mandie’s life changes when her Cherokee friends help her escape to a mansion that holds the hidden secrets of her past and the key to her future. “Mandie and the Secret Tunnel” is an incredible adventure that takes Mandie in search of her family roots. Compelled by the story that her father told her from the time she was a small child, Mandie makes a discovery that ultimately reunites her with the family she never knew she had. It’s a story filled with adventure, mystery, comedy, and romance.”

FAMILY MOVIE DISCUSSION

The following is a loose movie guide of the film’s topics that may cause discussion with your people. I try to watch and listen closely, but the only way to guarantee that this movie is suitable for your family is to preview it yourself.

intimacy: zero

inappropriateness: zero

language: zero

violence:  There was no real violence except the “bad guy” acting like he was going to shoot Mandie’s cat.  There was also a squirmish between the bad guy and the IndiansArrows are shot at people. There is a tiny bit of animal hunting with mounted animals and animal skins around.  There is a flashback scene of someone dying of a slightly bloody wolf attack.

use of substances: None that I recall.

overall messages: The truth will always come to light eventually.  Prejudice against Indians was a reality of that time period with the Trail of Tears and beyond.

'Having nobody don't equate to being nobody.' ~from Mandie and the Secret TunnelClick To Tweet



GOOD, BAD, OR IN-BETWEEN

One of the initial things I loved about the Mandie and the Secret Tunnel movie is that an understanding of the book series was NOT necessary to jump right into the movie.  It was so refreshing to watch a movie with clean dialogue, no violence, and incredible cinematography of what appeared to be the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

I felt as if the dialogue of the Native American and African Americans was a bit “over-the-top” stereotypical. Having a bit of an Indian heritage myself, I was not offended by the reality of Indian prejudice of that time. This is a great subject to discuss afterward since this theme was touched on a bit. I felt that the characters Mr. and Mrs. Snow were a silly addition to the story and their ridiculous actions made me want them to disappear!  🙂

I enjoyed the theme and secretiveness of this Mandie’s quest for her family’s history and the way Mandie “heard” her Daddy’s story as she went about her daily life and discovery of the family secrets.

All in all, I liked this movie.  I felt like some parts were a little longer than they had to be, but I was invested from the moment that Mandie ran away from home with her Cherokee friends.  It was was a good period film and a fun one for the whole family to settle in to watch together. If you like Michael Landon-ish movies like Little House on the Prairie, When Calls the Heart, and Love Comes Softly, then you will really enjoy this movie!

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel has an “All ages Dove Approved” seal on their site. Woot!


Have you watched Mandie and the Secret Tunnel?  What am I missing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


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Family friendly review of Mandie and the Secret Tunnel - in DETAIL!

 

 

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Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

When a Disney family vacation is in the works, there’s normally one awesome woman that’s doing the Disney packing list and planning all the things (and secretly trying to fight the overwhelm). She’s thinking… Where will we stay? Do we need Disney transportation? What Disney activities should we do with our older kiddo? When is the best time to go to Disney World? How many days do we really need in the Disney Parks?  

It doesn’t help that you see all the color-coordinated families in front of Cinderella’s Castle, looking as if they are “Disney planning ninjas” – making YOU even more overwhelmed! As a travel writer, even I was intimidated by our recent Disney vacation planning because we had not been in so long. I pray that my love for sharing details will streamline your planning to a minimum and make it fun.  Today, you’re getting Disney packing list advice, what to pack & what not to pack, and a free Printable Packing Checklist!

DISNEY PACKING LIST & MORE

This Disney packing list post is part #1 in my Walt Disney World series.  There is so much I want to share that I can’t contain myself!  Yep, that’s what the Disney magic does to you.  I’ll be answering the questions that YOU have been asking via my inbox, Facebook, and Instagram.

  • All the questions in the first paragraph.
  • Are those Magic Bands worth the hype?
  • How should we dress for Disney Park days?
  • Which Disney splurges are worth the money?
  • How can we save money on food while at Disney?
  • Should we stay at a Disney Resort or off property?
  • Is Disney Springs worth the time and effort to visit?
  • Can we really enjoy just one day in the Disney Parks?
  • How can I avoid extra expenses like Disney Resort parking?
It doesn't help that you see all the color-coordinated families in front of Cinderella's Castle, looking as if they are 'Disney planning ninjas' - making YOU even more overwhelmed!Click To Tweet

DISNEY PACKING LIST ESSENTIALS

I would highly suggest bringing bottled water and snack foods along. If your hotel does not have continental breakfast, break convenience breakfast foods along too. Our resort did not have free breakfast and we saved tons of time and money eating pop tarts before heading out to Disney activities.  It didn’t kill us, Y’all, I promise!  😉

Besides the obvious items like outfits and toiletries, here are a few things not miss for your Walt Disney pack list:

A Raincoat and poncho for every person ~ Florida is known for its unpredictable weather.  In the summer especially, it rains for a short while most days.  Taking raincoats and ponchos on your Florida vacation is a necessity any time of the year.  I’d pack raincoats for rambling outside of Disney Parks, and save the ponchos for when you go into the Disney Parks.  Ponchos also come in handy to keep you dry while riding wet rides like Splash Mountain.

Splash Mountain
This family pack of rain ponchos will fit men, women, and kids and they won’t take up much room.  These things seriously weigh almost nothing and are tiny!  They are cheap enough to be disposable after use and made well enough to reuse if you choose.

Cheap Rain Ponchos for the whole family
More than one pair of shoes for every person ~ In order to keep blisters and sore feet to a minimum, every person needs at least two good pairs of walking shoes.

Cash, credit cards & travel receipts ~ Of course, you know to bring your money, but I also take receipts for reservations and all things Disney that was bought in advance.  I know it sounds old school but you never know if technology messes up and you need to prove a transaction that you made before the trip.

Sunscreen & Water Bottles ~ Inside all Disney water parks, counter service restaurants will give you a free cup of water when it’s hot or a free cup of hot water when it’s chilly.  For the cold months, take packets of hot chocolate.  When it’s warm, you can drink the water plain or you can bring electrolyte packets to ensure that no one gets dehydrated. You can also take these collapsible, pocket-sized water bottles.

Preventative and post-walking bandaids ~ Any time we will be walking for long distances, I bring these high-quality blister guards.  We also take this moleskin wrap in case someone does get a blister but there’s more walking to do.

Magic bands ~ We’ll talk more about all the hoopla surrounding magic bands if you don’t know.  If you already have them or are planning to get them, place them in your suitcase as soon as they arrive in the mail.

Pockets & Waist packs ~ This is my favorite Disney packing hack!  Women have the curse of having to carry so much stuff in the parks – especially if you have littles. Princess and I did not want to lug purses around the Disney parks.  That’s a dilemma because shorts and Capri yoga pants (my outfit) don’t typically have pockets.  We needed to be able to carry cash, phone, GoPro, allergy meds, and an EpiPen.

Oh yeah, and we were being snobs by not wanting to wear a fanny pack.  😉  Two items came through for us that solved our probs and they were game changers:

This specific waist pack was a lifesaver because it fit FLAT across our waists and UNDERNEATH our shirts.  We were able to fit cash, meds, debit card, EpiPen, Disney Pins, etc.  There’s also a place for a water bottle but we didn’t want to sport that look.

These Baleaf yoga pants had two large side pockets big enough for a 5.5″ phone with a case and my GoPro.  Most of the time, I carried my daughter’s large phone as well!

My new favorite yoga pants with POCKETS!

When THIS Amazon order arrived with my travel solutions, I believe that heavens may have let me hear angels singing! 🙂Click To Tweet

Disney Maps ~ Did you know that you can print out Disney maps of each park?  That way, the fam can map out which attractions and restaurants are the non-negotiables.  Just go to the main page HERE and click on the Disney park you wish to print out.  Right under the main image, you see something like, “Magic Kingdom Guide Map.”

Travel activity bag for everyone ~ I would suggest a small travel bag or backpack with everything can keep you and your family entertained in the car.  If flying, this would be everyone’s carry-on bag.  Enjoy!

Devices & accessories ~ Phones and other electronics should go in your travel bag along with chargers, cords, and earbuds.  The one thing that I almost bought and regretted not buying was a tiny rechargeable battery.  I had a fully-charged phone and GoPro, and my phone still died rather quickly by early afternoon.  You always have the option of the $30 rechargeable batteries within the park that you buy from.  But tiny, pre-bought batteries like these make more sense to me.

Souvenir gear ~ If your kiddos enjoy collecting character signatures and/or Disney pressed pennies, don’t forget the books that hold those special souvenirs!
Disney packing list advice, what to pack & what not to pack, and a free Printable Packing Checklist!

WHAT NOT TO TAKE TO DISNEY

Some ideas that you can consider leaving home are things you aren’t sure you’ll need, inexpensive items you can purchase at your destination, and duplicates of anything except undergarments and shoes. Be sure to leave at home clothes that won’t mix and match with all the outfits too.

In my opinion umbrellas are too obtrusive in the parks for you and other guests, but ponchos/raincoats are better.  There are MANY things listed below that is against Disney magic to bring.

Don’t miss the rules below!!!

WALT DISNEY WORLD RULES

Walt Disney World has high standards when it comes to what you can and cannot do and wear within the parks and I’m thankful for it.  Here are some paraphrased rules concerning what to wear or what NOT to bring:

You have to wear appropriate clothes and keep on your shoes and shirts at all times, folks. Don’t wear tons of layers or you could be searched.  No one over the age of 14 can wear a costume or mask unless it’s a special event.  There are specifics for wearing costumes for Halloween parties or runDisney.

No drones, remote-controlled cars, skateboards, scooters, or shoes with wheels on them are permitted.  Strollers can’t be bigger than 36″ x 52.” Glass containers are prohibited too like baby food jars. Nothing pulled by a person or wheelchair (like wagons) can come in. No containers of any kind that are larger than 24″ long x 15″ wide x 18″ high.

You and all the stuff you try to carry in will go through screening and security.  Selfie sticks, hand-held camera poles or weapons of any kind are not permitted inside Walt Disney World Parks (even toy or squirt guns and pocket knives).

FREE DISNEY PACKING LIST PRINTABLE

I have a special gift for you!  Below you can sign up to receive a free Disney packing list “checklist” with all the things we discussed.  If you are already a subscriber, just check your latest email from me for the password to the “free Wifey Printable library” to find yours.


Share with us what I forgot to include in the comments below! Have you printed your Disney packing list yet?


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Disney packing list advice, what to pack & what not to pack, and a free Printable Packing Checklist!

 

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Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

One thing that we have in common as women is that we wish that we could put healthy recipes for dinner on the table more often.  Amen?  As a busy wife, Mom, and travel writer, I have drifted far away from the way I should fuel myself and my family.  Anyone else in the room? I’m sharing 5 tips to get those easy healthy recipes back on the table!  This is to give myself (and my friends who need it) a quick kick in the bum.

5 Hacks for getting healthy recipes for dinner on the table a lot more often in the midst of our crazy (strawberry yogurt)

Healthy Recipes for Dinner Tips

Every Mom wants to feed her family healthy recipes for dinner every night of the week.  But let’s be real, that’s close to impossible to pull off with today’s busy families.

A big help to get moving in the direction of less take-out food and less stress is to look toward the coming week.  What do I mean?  Each weekend, figure out how many nights your family can share a home-cooked meal.  Now that you know how many nights that healthy recipes for dinner can be made, let’s look at the five tips that can move you closer to this reality.

Have fun Grocery Shopping

You can’t make healthy recipes for dinner without great ingredients, right?  So head to the grocery store to stock up on several items in each of the categories I’ll talk about below.  The amount depends on how many days in the coming week you will be cooking dinner and how many you are feeding.  A great rule of thumb is to buy fresh or frozen whenever possible instead of packaged or pre-made.

Think about Food Categories

When planning for the coming week, I’ll have a simple list in my mind.  I know that I need several items from the meat, produce, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and condiments sections of the store (always shop your pantry before grocery shopping).

Be a Little Preppy

No, I’m not talking about your clothes (to each his own).  I mean to set aside a little time each week to prep a few foods for the coming week.  Wash and chop veggies.  Know how to boil eggs and make a few as toppings for salads.  Grill or cook as much meat ahead of the coming week so that you’ll have the most time-consuming ingredient for healthy recipes for dinner ready to go.

Cooking a big batch of rice or quinoa works well for us to add to several meals during the week also.  My saving grace is my crockpot and slow cooker that I use relentlessly.  I have my eye on a new one that will hold more food at once and this is my pick…..

my next crockpot

Keep it Simple, Silly

Us girls tend to make this idea of healthy recipes for dinner pretty complicated.  We think that good meals have to consist of lots of complicated ingredients.  Not true!  I agree that casseroles and fancy dishes are great now and then, but some of the best meals are grilled meats alongside a few vegetables on top of tasty rice. For the busiest of weeknights, consider a baked potato bar, crockpot chicken or slow cooker soups.

Easy Peasy!

Cheat When You Need To

All I mean is that it is OK to buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store while you are there so you can put together a meal.  It’s also OK to buy a loaf of bread and make grilled cheese or PB & J sandwiches now and then.  Stop beating yourself up with your own comparison trap.

I get way too much happiness from good food! ~Elizabeth OlsenClick To Tweet

I hope this was as helpful to you as I pray it is for me as I get back on track with healthy recipes for dinner. That’s my goal is to take baby steps back to better living. To overhaul just our family dinners and then improve the rest of our days!


Join me in by getting healthy recipes for dinner on the table a lot more during our busy weeks?!  We can do it together.  Let me hear from you in the comments if you are on board!




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5 Hacks for getting healthy recipes for dinner on the table a lot more often in the midst of our crazy (yummy salad!)

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Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

 

I’m sharing how to clean laminate floors like a boss today, and I’m shedding light on my secret weapon that’s been giving me sparkling, spring-fresh floors.  The best part?  It has handled all the hard surface floors in my home like a champ, in a jiffy, with its quick drying, residue-free solution.  What is it?  Keep reading, friend!  This post is sponsored by Bona but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

How to Clean Laminate Floors

Even though I’ve been in spring cleaning mode, I’ve been worried about taking care of our beloved living room laminate that Superman so meticulously installed right by himself.  Then there’s the luxury vinyl in the kitchen has been looking old and dull for a while now.

No more, my friend!

My kitchen floors look so shiny and the newer living room laminate is beautiful because…..  my premium spray mop & cleaner is specially designed to remove dust, dirt, and grime – but without residue or slickness. It also carries the  GREENGUARD GOLD certification so I can feel safe using it around the family and pets.  I’ve been dying to tell you all about it because  I’m definitely in love!  WooHoo!

#ad How to clean laminate floors like a boss today with a FABULOUS secret weapon that's producing beautiful, sparkling, spring-fresh floors

My new secret weapon is the favorite of my cleaning hacks to date.  You are welcome!  Let’s talk about how to clean laminate floors in a jiffy:

  1. clear the floors of any clutter and small decorations.
  2. quickly sweep up any loose dirt, dog hair, or dust bunnies.
  3. it’s time to mop!
  4. Throw your dirty cleaning pad in the washing machine when you are done.

Easy Peasy!

I'm tickled that I've found a secret weapon for quick & easy spring cleaning my laminate and luxury vinyl floors!Click To Tweet

Benefits of Bona Stone, Tile & Laminate Cleaner

Here are my favorite attributes of my new b.f.f. mop.  Is it strange that I’m thinking of giving him a name?!

• A quick solution with no residue (this is my FAVORITE benefit!)

• It’s so easy to assemble & store (no brainer for me!)

• There is no mixing (it’s ready to go!)

• Designed specifically to be safe for use on hard surfaces (my peace of mind!)

• Effectively cleans dirt buildup on floors (mine needed this!)

• Safe for my loved ones in the house (GREENGUARD GOLD certification)

• 100 years of professional heritage (peace of mind!)

• I’m not wasting money because I reuse the cleaning pad

I know I could stand to give my hard surface floors more love on a weekly basis and now I don’t mind at all.  I’m just glad that I finally know how to do that quickly and easily, and caring for our floors with Bona shows how much we love them!


Now that you know how to clean laminate floors with this easy system, are you ready to get started?!  Let me know in the comments!


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#ad How to clean laminate floors like a boss today with a FABULOUS secret weapon that's producing beautiful, sparkling, spring-fresh floors

 

Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

I’ve loved sharing info and ideas to give parentals the tools they need for a fun family movie night with wholesome family shows whenever the mood strikes. It’s my jam, y’all!  Here’s my last movie guide review if you missed it.  I stumbled upon this Crimes and Mister Meanors movie totally by accident (teen detective story with political conspiracy thrown in) and can’t wait to tell you what my teenager and I thought about it.

FAMILY MOVIE DETAILS

I’d never heard of this movie, Crimes and Mister Meanors.  It was not originally a book and I stumbled upon it accidentally.

movie: Crimes and Mister Meanors

date: 2015

cast: Logan Burton, Cassady McClincy, Allen O’Reilly, Alpha Trivette

runtime: 92 minutes

rating: not rated

rating explanation: General Audience

available to watch: DVD & Prime Video (streaming online video): At the time of my viewing, we watched for free with Amazon Prime.

Crimes and Mister Meanors
The Dove Foundation is quoted on the front of the DVD case describing this movie as “A charming story full of action, adventure, & mystery that the whole family can enjoy.”  Amazon says that the main character, “Jake Harvard is less than thrilled when he learns he has to spend the summer in the suburban Washington, D.C., with Uncle Benny, an unmotivated, middle-aged detective. When Benny refuses to take the case of a woman whose husband has gone missing, Jake and his newfound companion Kat Adams, jump in to help. The two quickly find themselves in the middle of a political conspiracy.”

FAMILY MOVIE DISCUSSION

The following is a loose movie guide of the film’s topics that may cause discussion with your people. I try to watch and listen closely, but the only way to guarantee that this movie is suitable for your family is to preview it yourself.

intimacy: zero

inappropriateness: zero

language: zero

violence: While it is mild, I wanted to inform you of a few scenes in case you are considering whether to let young kids watch.

There are men with machine guns.  The bad guys chase the teens, handcuff them, and the kids think they will be killed.  The teens are held against their will in an abandoned building and babysat by an intimidating bodyguard.

Both kids are held at gunpoint and several people have a gun pointed at them. The boy is shot at by a bad guy as he runs away.  The bad guy threatens to shoot the teen girl.

Teen boy is slapped once in the face by the villain (villain does nothing else except talk of evil plans).

There is a scene where the teen girl cries (about betrayal) and begs the bad guys to let them go and not leave them locked up in seclusion.

positive messages: Family doesn’t give up on each other.  It’s always the right time to do the right thing.  The constitution has a place in the past AND in modern day America.

That's what makes America special - that people have the freedom to do whatever they are interested in.Click To Tweet

GOOD, BAD, OR IN-BETWEEN

I felt like the movie got off to a really slow start.  My daughter disagrees with me and says that it never felt slow to her.  We see how the main character is basically shipped off to his uncle’s house in Washington D.C. for the summer while his sister goes to camp and his parents travel out of the country.  I guess it moved slow to me because I knew there was action coming and it took a bit for the story to get intense.

The story line is very interesting though as we see thirteen-year old Jake attempt to help out his washed-up uncle (job-wise).  Jake sees an opportunity to use some of his sleuthing talents (along with friend Kat) to solve a missing persons case.  Little do the teens know that they are stepping into political scandal and conspiracy against the country and the presidency.  Yeah, pretty serious stuff!  They prove that certain decisions can change the course of history.

All in all it was a great family adventure that my daughter and I enjoyed.  We’ve watched a lot of mysteries and crime shows and Princess was especially impressed! She loves mystery and detective life and I love our country’s presidential history so it was a win-win.  We both stayed engaged throughout and on the edge of our seat for the whole last half.  It was SO nice to watch an action-packed movie without bad language and inappropriate scenes!!!

As an FYI, this Crimes and Mister Meanors was awarded a Dove Faith Friendly Seal for all ages.  They don’t give those out lightly, my friends!


Have you watched a fabulous family movie lately?  I’d love you to share them with us in the comments below!


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Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

I fondly shared about a paradise island with roaming wild horses that I visited as a young girl in part #1 of our fun family trip to Cumberland Island, Georgia. I kept a promise to myself to take my own family one day because I knew it would be one of the best family vacation destinations I was right!  A family trip with history, wild nature, and untouched beauty experienced face to face?!  Yes, please!

Family Trip to Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island National Seashore is Georgia’s largest barrier island and is only accessible by personal boat or ferry (in part #1, there are things to do and Cumberland Island Ferry details).  This Georgia Sea Island is especially rare because it only has only about three dozen habitable dwellings and most are direct descendants of the Carnegie family (yes, that Carnegie family).

Family trip to a practically deserted island (except for wild horses) - view of deserted beach

CUMBERLAND ISLAND ~ LIKE A FAIRYTALE

Cumberland Island lodging and food choices are sparse with no shopping options, so there are a few things to definitely plan before you go.  Finding shade as you are trekking the island is sparse as well.  When I went with my friend’s family as a young girl, I got sunburned like I have never again been in my life.  Take sunscreen no matter the time of year!

Cumberland Island Checklist

  • Cumberland Island lodging OR
  • St. Marys Georgia (mainland) lodging
  • Ferry schedule to and from the island
  • Food plan during island time (bring trash bag)
  • Wise clothing, sun protection, & bug spray choices
  • Binoculars, camera, water bottles, change of clothes, etc.
  • Food storage choices if you are camping on the island
  • What to pack when staying at the Cumberland’s Bed & Breakfast

Since Hurricane Irma destroyed the park’s mainland docks, there is a new check-in process.  PLEASE check out the National Park Service’s Cumberland Island map and checklist to prepare for your trip to the island (you can print the checklist too).

Be sure to look at the entire page as there is an informative video of a popular route to walk once your family arrives on Cumberland Island for your memorable family trip.

Cumberland Island Lodging

Your options for Cumberland Island accommodations are limited to three choices:  primitive camping on the island, staying at “the” Bed & Breakfast on the island, or lodging on the mainland of St. Mary’s Georgia.  Let’s talk in detail about these three choices below.

Sea Camp ~ There are several wilderness camping areas and one campground spot on Cumberland Island with facilities.  There are several specific things you should know before booking your reservation (& you should do that soon because availability goes quickly).  You have the choice to get off of the ferry at one of two spots.

If you have a reservation to camp on the island, you will disembark on the second stop at Sea Camp Dock. Most importantly, you must bring all supplies and food with you on the ferry and be able to transport them from the dock to the campground.

ULTIMATE Family Trip where Wild Horses Roam deserted Georgia beaches - Cumberland camper pictured

ON THE WAY TO SEA CAMP CAMPGROUND, Mark Goebel, cc

Here are a few other things to plan for:

1. You must have a reservation to camp on Cumberland Island Georgia

2. Print out your camping reservation and bring it with you

3. The only place with drinkable water is at Sea Camp Campground

4. There are no fires allowed at the wilderness sites

5. Bring supplies to hang your food up at any of the campgrounds

Greyfield Inn ~ Is a stately, 19th century home built by the Carnegie family that was turned into a Bed and Breakfast in the 1960’s.  Each room still holds character and antiques from the beauty of the past.

ULTIMATE Family Trip where Wild Horses Roam deserted Georgia beaches - Greyfield Inn pictured

GREYFIELD INN, John Lilly, cc

The all-inclusive Inn has several amenities including tours, round-trip ferry transportation from Fernandina Beach, Florida (close to the Jacksonville Airport),  kayaking and biking. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner with fresh treats from the Greyfield Garden.  You can even tour the entire island of Cumberland with an expert naturalist!

Mainland lodgingIn the quaint downtown area of St Marys Georgia, there are a several B&Bs, many hotels, and two RV/tent campgrounds. Based on outward appearances and spectacular reviews (I haven’t visited any of these B&Bs yet), Spencer House Inn Bed & Breakfast and Goodbread Inn Bed and Breakfast look like great choices.

We actually stayed at Country Oaks Campground with a group of our RVing (glamping) friends.  It was a lovely and quiet property that you would never know was so close to I95.  Down the road is another RV campground called St. Marys KOA.  Both of these campgrounds are approximately eight miles from downtown St. Marys where the Cumberland Island Museum and ferry are located.

Although we didn’t have time to visit ourselves, down the road from Downtown St. Mary’s is Crooked River State Park.  The park offers 26 full hook up sites at this time, 11 cottages, and tent sites.  There are also hiking trails, a boat ramp, nature center, and civil war history things to see.

ULTIMATE Family Trip where Wild Horses Roam - Downtown St. Marys Georgia pictured

ST MARYS GEORGIA, Rob Bixby, cc

Cumberland Island Food

Once you get off of the concession-operated passenger ferry on Cumberland Island, there will not be an ability to purchase food unless you are staying at the Greyfield Inn.  You must bring your own picnic lunch, water bottles, and trash bags to take it all with you when you leave.

Things to Do on Your Family Trip

Although we didn’t even come close to hiking the 50 miles worth of trails, we were amazed at the diversity of all the different areas on Cumberland Island.  The main road and trails will take you through the maritime forest, sand dunes, beach sand, marsh, historical mansions, open fields, tidal creeks, wetlands, and the original settlements.

On the island, be sure to visit the Ice House Museum, First African Baptist Church, and Plum Orchard Mansion.  Take a free walking tour provided by the National Park Service that federally protects the area.  The walk will lead you to the historical ruins, called Dungeness, that was last inhabited by the famous Carnegie family.  While on your family trip, you can camp, hike, beachcomb, fish, bird watch, photograph wildlife, picnic, learn history, and kayak

FAMILY TRIP NOTES

The last few tidbits I would offer to busy women thinking about planning a trip with her people.  Personally, I would not visit during the hottest summer days because of humidity and bugs, and I would not bring children that are not able to walk independently a lot on their own.  There is a lot of walking and you don’t want to have to carry toddlers or babies all over this island – trust me!

Be sure to bring refillable containers because there are water spigots around the island.  Seriously, bring sunscreen and apply it to everyone.  You’ll be here for hours and no one wants the misery of a sunburn on the night of your family trip.




So when do you plan to take a family trip to Cumberland Island Georgia?  Let me know the month you want to visit and/or memories of trips you’ve already taken in the comments below.


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ULTIMATE Family Trip where Wild Horses Roam deserted Georgia beaches

 

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Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

easiest & best disappearing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!Cookies can pass for a breakfast as long as they have oatmeal in them, right?! I had a sweet tooth recently and was trying to create a bit healthier oatmeal chocolate chip cookies – better than the typical junk food we have around.  You know you are on to a scrumptious recipe when entire batches of cookies disappear within hours.  Yeah, my fam can be a tough crowd when it comes to good food but they absolutely love these cookies!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t want you to think harshly of my crew, but I’ll say this statement again:  my crew can be hard to please when it comes to their taste buds. Isn’t every family this way?  Not only are these cookies a bit healthier than most, they are also very easy to make.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe 

Just so you know, I don’t claim to be a nutritionist, but I know that these cookies offer more wholesomeness than most cookies we buy.  AmIright?!  You’ll find a printable recipe card below but I’ll share the basic process for the oatmeal chocolate cookies.  You’ll beat the butter and sugars until smooth, throw the next few ingredients in the bowl to mix and then drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet to bake.

Easy Peasy!

These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies offer a whole lot more wholesomeness than most cookies we buy & they can be thrown together in minutes!Click To Tweet


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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients 

Here’s the ingredient list at a glance.  The specific directions will be on the printable recipe card below.

  • ½ cup butter plus 7 Tablespoons, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed down
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats (uncooked)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Here’s your printable recipe card:

5.0 from 5 reviews
Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies For Breakfast!!!
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter plus 7 Tablespoons, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed down
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats (uncooked)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugars until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla flavoring until smooth.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt & mix til blended.
  5. Add oats and chocolate chips and mix with a spoon until fully blended.
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking pan that's greased or on parchment paper.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees 8-11 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
 

I hope you and yours enjoy this simple oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe!  We certainly do.  I’ll be working in my test kitchen in the coming days to produce a fabulous oatmeal chocolate chip cookie with even less sugar.  I’ll let you know when I’ve created the perfect recipe!


Do you have an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie go-to recipe?  Tell us about it or when you are going to make this one in the comments!


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easiest & best disappearing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!

 

Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

4 Speedy Spring cleaning tips that can be done in minutesLet’s pull back those curtains to let the sun beam in so I can show you some speedy Spring cleaning tips that can be done in minutes!  If we’re honest, we all want to find those house cleaning tips that help the house look great without us putting forward much effort.  AmIright?!  Well, I think you’ll love these home hacks that’ll freshen up the homestead in no time!

Spring cleaning tips

I don’t know about you, but winter slows me down and I find myself doing just the bare minimum – especially with cleaning house. I just don’t have the energy or gumption.  Are you like that? If so, here are a 4 Spring cleaning tips to put a little pep in our step so we can fall in love with our homes again.

How to clean coffee maker

I mean, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it right and start with what’s most important – coffee.  I’m only kidding (well, sort of).

The thought of mildew and germs collecting in the warm places of my coffee maker that I can’t see makes me cringe.  I have a Keurig also, but most days I used my archaic, 12-cup, automatic drip coffee maker.  Let’s use my favorite of the Spring cleaning tips here:

  1. Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar to 1/2 cup of water and add to the coffee maker to brew.
  2. Let the machine follow through with the brewing for just a couple minutes and then turn the coffee maker off.
  3. Set a timer for 20 min and let the coffee maker soak while you do the next of the spring cleaning tips.
  4. After 20 minutes is up, let the coffee machine finish brewing the rest of the water.
  5. Remove the coffee filter and replace with a new one.  Fill the water chamber all the way up with fresh water only.
  6. Allow the coffee maker to completely brew this second time to completion.

Now you are ready for a super clean, fresh pot of coffee to be enjoyed.  I guarantee you that it will taste better than the last one.  The vinegar smell may linger for a few hours but will go away.

How to clean dishwasher

Sounds weird to talk about how to clean the dishwasher when it does so much cleaning for us almost every day.  But it’s important to give that dishwasher a thorough spring cleaning now and then to take care of germs, stains, and build up from our water.

  1. Simply use Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner and follow the directions of the container.
  2. Run one load with this amazing dishwasher cleaner.

Easy Peasy!

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner 

How to clean washing machine

Again, it seems odd to discuss how to clean the washing machine when we aren’t used to thinking about cleaning the washing machine itself.  The washing machine does need disinfecting though and a thorough scrubbing.

Thank goodness, two ingredients do the job we that we don’t have to.

  1. Add equal parts of distilled white vinegar and baking soda (I use a cup of each) to a full load of hot water.
  2. Let the mixture sit undisturbed in the washing machine for one hour while you complete the other spring cleaning tips.
  3. After one hour, turn a deep cleaning setting on with one big, old towel in the wash.
  4. Let the cycle run completely and it is sparkly clean!

How to clean oven

This is one I don’t typically do but my oven needs it badly.  I never really loved those spray cleaners from the store because the fumes are intoxicating.  So, here’s a better idea:

  1. In a bowl, stir 3 Tablespoons baking soda and a couple drops of water.
  2. Add drops of water until a thick but moist paste is created.
  3. Remove racks from the oven and allow them to soak in soapy water in the sink.
  4. Spread the baking soda paste on the dirty surfaces of the oven.
  5. Don’t be alarmed when the paste turns dark.
  6. Let the paste soak for at least one hour.
  7. Wipe out the excess of baking soda with a wet rag into the trash can.
  8. Use a clean wet rag to clean the remainder of residue from the oven until clean.
  9. Leave oven open to dry for 30 minutes.
'Housekeeping ain't no joke.' — Louisa May AlcottClick To Tweet

I hope you find this simple Spring cleaning tips helpful and fast.  Let me know how you do!


What other Spring cleaning tips did I miss?  Share with our community all about your favorites in the comments.


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4 Speedy Spring cleaning tips that can be done in minutes




Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

I’m tickled to bring you the first of a long line of movie guide reviews for families.  I’ve loved sharing about how to have a family movie night with family movies and wholesome family shows.  There is a bit of a void online of thorough movie reviews for families that offer lots of details.  So here I am, an, (ahem), older conservative woman spilling the beans and sharing all the details that women REALLY want to know. Let’s get the popcorn popping, shall we?!

Movie guide details

Anne of Green Gables has been a beloved work of literature in the lives of families worldwide for nearly 100 years.

movie: Anne of Green Gables

date: 2016

cast: Ella Ballentine, Sara Botsford, & Martin Sheen

runtime: 90 minutes

rating: G

rating explanation: General Audience

available to watch:  DVDPrime Video (streaming online video)

Anne of Green Gables

In case you aren’t familiar, this is how Amazon describes the plot of the original book:

“Anne is described as bright and quick, eager to please, talkative, and extremely imaginative. She has a pale face with freckles and usually braids her red hair. When asked her name, Anne asks Marilla to call her Cordelia, which Marilla refuses; Anne then insists that if she is to be called Anne, it must be spelled with an e, as that spelling is “so much more distinguished.” Marilla at first says the girl must return to the orphanage, but after a few days, she decides to let her stay. Marilla feels that she could be a good influence on the girl and had also overheard that another disagreeable woman in town might take Anne in instead. As a child of imagination, Anne takes much joy in life and adapts quickly, thriving in the close-knit farming village. Her talkativeness initially drives the prim, duty-driven Marilla to distraction, although Matthew falls for her charm immediately. Anne says that they are “kindred spirits.” The book recounts Anne’s adventures in making a home: the country school where she quickly excels in her studies; her friendship with Diana Barry (her best or “bosom friend” as Anne fondly calls her); her budding literary ambitions; and her rivalry with classmate Gilbert Blythe, who teases her about her red hair. For that, he earns her instant hatred, although he apologizes many times.”

Movie guide discussion

The following is a loose movie guide of the film’s topics that may cause discussion with your people.  I try to watch and listen closely, but the only way to guarantee that this movie is suitable for your family is to preview it yourself.

intimacy: zero

inappropriateness: zero

language: zero

violence:  While not serious, Anne cracks a slate over a boy’s head that is teasing her.

During one of the very first conversations, a lady is warning another about the violence that orphans have brought on their homeowners.  She talks about one orphan burning down the house and about another orphan shooting everyone with a rifle and then “slitting their throats with a bread knife, even the baby.”

Anne flashes back several times throughout the movie to some pretty intense scenes: A woman slaps Anne’s hand repeatedly with a ruler while other children watch.  A woman is shown pulling Anne’s ear as she grimaces in pain.  An angry husband throws a plate on the floor and shatters it while Anne and the wife hide under the table.

use of substances:  Anne accidentally gets her best friend Diana drunk during their tea time by giving her what she thinks is raspberry cordial but is currant wine.  It’s totally innocent but Diana’s Mom forbids her to play with Anne.

positive messages:  Learning is a wonderful thing.  There is more than one way to think about things.  There are consequences to our actions.  Keeping your word is very important.

Isn't it just splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew everything about everything, would it? Anne ShirleyClick To TweetAnne of Green Gables Movie Trailer

Good, bad, or in-between

The music and cinematography are simply fabulous. As a dreamer myself, I loved watching Anne get lost in her dreamy thoughts and how different personalities related to her.  Anne causes others to think outside of the way things have always been.  She reminds us that beauty and simple joys are all around us if we look for it.  Several times I actually laughed out loud, especially after Anne’s interesting prayers!

To me, the movie did not follow the book perfectly, but I expected that. Marilla isn’t as gruff of a woman and Matthew Cuthbert isn’t as quiet of a man in this movie like they are in the book.  Gilbert and Anne barely have a relationship.  Only those who are book traditionalist will mind that all the details don’t line up. The movie clearly didn’t have as much depth as the book because it’s as if they tried to cram way too much in 90 minutes, but yet left so much out.  The consolation is that it appears that the sequel movie goes more in depth and fleshes out what needs to be!

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  I liked it so much that I can’t wait to watch the sequel, Anne of Green Gables, The Good Stars.  Clean movies are hard to come by these days and this is definitely a keeper.  I hope you enjoyed this family movie guide and find it helpful!  I think you will fall in love with Anne all over again in this movie.

the sequel to Anne of Green Gables


I’d love to hear your movie guide review of Anne of Green Gables too! Share it with us in the comments.


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AWESOME Family Movie Guide about Anne of Green Gables



Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!

Cumberland Island Georgia Beaches is practically untouched and sometimes filled with wild horsesThe first time I visited Cumberland Island Georgia as a young girl, it was unlike anything I’d ever seen in my life.  I’d been on many family vacays, but this trip with my friend’s family was unique.  We happily wandered on foot around this paradise island – encountering wild horses – especially on the beaches!  The untouched beauty and wild horses were unforgettable, and I purposed in my mind that I would return one day.  I’m tickled to share what happened when I did – 30 years later with my family!

Cumberland Island Georgia

When a group of our friends was trying to decide where to go next for our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday travel, Cumberland Island Georgia came into the conversation.  I jumped at the chance to plan a long-awaited trip back to this gorgeous Georgia barrier island.  I couldn’t wait to show my family and friends this spectacular place.  Cumberland is one of ten protected areas known as national seashores and operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior.

Where is Cumberland Island?

Cumberland Island Georgia is one of the islands off the coast of Georgia – the largest and southernmost barrier island, as a matter of fact.  It’s accessible only by the Cumberland Ferry that’s located on the mainland of St. Marys Georgia. The mainland of St. Marys Georgia is easily accessible from South Georgia’s I-95.  Take exit 3 and travel about eight miles to reach the St. Marys Historic District.

St Marys ferry dock for Cumberland Island Georgia

St Marys Dock for Ferry, Rob Bixby, cc

Cumberland Island lodging

I couldn’t remember seeing any Cumberland Island hotels or campgrounds on my childhood trip.  But there actually is a Sea Camp Campground and a bed and breakfast on the island – both are tucked away and not always found. More about the Cumberland Island lodging we chose in part #2.

Cumberland Island ferry

I made reservations for our group to board the Cumberland Island ferry.  The round trip tickets for the concession-operated passenger ferry were pretty pricey, but I knew it might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for my kiddos.  We happily arrived at the dock thirty minutes ahead of time to wait for further instructions from our guide.  After our orientation and safety talk that was given 15 minutes prior to departure at the Visitor Center, it was time to finally see my isolated island again.

I mean, I’d only been waiting for 30 years!

The travel time from the St. Marys to Cumberland Island takes about 45 minutes but it was pretty fun.  About midway, dolphins arrived alongside our boat and they charmingly kept my attention as they tried to keep up with us.  It was a race!  Don’t you love dolphins?!

Dolphin near Cumberland Island Georgia ferry

Cumberland Island Georgia ferry ride

our friend, Mr. David, & Me!

As we neared the island, we were reminded of our departure times with two dock areas to choose from that would return us to the mainland. It was our responsibility to return to one of those two docks promptly or be a la stranded.  I started to feel a little anxious – envisioning all those old shipwrecked movies of the past [lol].  My anxiety melted away though when I saw the beauty of the island appearing in the distance.  I was mesmerized once again.

Things to do on Cumberland Island 

As we unloaded at the dock, I noticed this mysterious path of oak trees.  I couldn’t wait to explore it.

But first, we entered a building called the “Icehouse Museum.” It was built by Thomas and Lucy Carnegie and used to store huge blocks of ice brought down from the north by ship. Today it contains a collection of small artifacts and history of the Timucuan Indians, the Carnegies [who owned most of the island], early English settlers, the slave plantations, and those involved in the Civil War.

We brought picnic baskets of food and stopped for a picnic lunch after strolling down the mysterious path through the Oaks pictured above [there are no stores to buy food on the island].  Then we caught up with the free walking tour led by a Ranger Guide. She was explaining the history or the island and you know how I am about history!

She spoke of the earliest inhabitants on the island and even of invasions by pirates but our reenactment started with the plantation era. She was a gifted storyteller who assigned each of us as a character in her historical retelling of the Carnegie’s former home, now the Dungeness ruins.

The ranger is assigning characters to everyone

The ranger telling my son, Captain, that he’ll portray Revolutionary War hero, Nathanael Greene.

Cumberland Island Georgia - wild horses on the beach and near Dungeness

Dungeness Ruins

The intriguing but sad history of this place called Dungeness was truly remarkable and eerie.  This site passed through the hands of James Oglethorpe, Nathanael Greene, British forces, and the Carnegie Family.  Now the National Park Service watches over her ruins.  You’ll have to wait for the whole story on your own free guided tour!

We were ready to see lots of wild horses roaming free.  I knew it would be such an awesome experience for the kids.  As usual, God provided ten-fold as we not only saw a gorgeous Georgia beach with wild horses but they were all over the island!  

Cumberland Island Georgia - wild horses on the beach

Cumberland Island Georgia - wild horses on the beach

Cumberland Island Georgia - wild horses on the beach

Wild Horses on Cumberland Island Beach, Linda, cc

A family vacation trip to Cumberland Island Georgia is an experience like no other.  The rest of our adventure, other wild animals, details of where to stay and what to eat, other things to do on Cumberland, Cumberland Island weather, and more will be in part #2.  Until then, check out this wonderful video shot by an NBC cameraman, David Brooks…..


Are you ready to take the family to Cumberland Island Georgia right now?!


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Cumberland Island Georgia beaches with wild horses roaming!



Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, her local newspaper and more, Shan Walker is jokingly called the “Guru.” A Travel Journalist, Wife, and Mom who shares daily “how to” enjoy planning and executing EVERY single family vacation AND “how-to” find joy with your family in the cozy haven you’ve created and can’t wait to get home to!