Monthly Archives: August 2017

Considering a Trip to Sesame Place? Check out my tips and suggestions below!

Hi all! So we just returned from an amazing trip to Sesame Place!  My earliest memory of Sesame Place as a kid was the huge sign at the entrance (think I was around 5 years old), so this was just as much of a new experience for me as it was for my husband and our 2 kids.  We booked a vacation package through Sesame Place for 2 nights at a nearby partner hotel which included admission, 2nd day free plus some cool perks (which I’ll explain below).  After recently visiting Disney World, we had to compare the experience and definitely think Disney is way more organized with overall better food options (not to mention Disney is huge!).  However, when we asked our 4 year old what he preferred, he said “Sesame Place” with no hesitation!  So we knew that we would be headed back there again, but this time way more prepared to handle our expenses and food options.  Here are some parents’ tips and suggestions to make your trip to Sesame Place as smooth as possible.

  1. No car? Take the train!  If traveling from the NY, consider taking NJ transit to Trenton Transit Center (about 90 minutes) and then call an Uber for a 10-15 minute ride to Sesame Place!  The train will cost about $32/pp round trip and the Uber was about $15 each way.  If you’re an NYC parent without a vehicle (like us) then you will appreciate this option!
  2. Take a stroller.  Although a busy weekend will mean many strollers, there were many areas to park your stroller and for us, it was a perfect way to lug around our bags filled with snacks, etc.  Plus, if your stroller has a nice sized canopy, it’s a good way to keep the little ones out of the shade while you’re walking around the park and of course for naps (which btw neither of our kids took there-too much excitement for a snooze!)
  1. Stay at the Springhill Suites Langhorne.  This hotel is literally right across the street from Sesame Place. Like a hop, skip and jump!  Would be the perfect location since you can easily leave the park (making sure you get a stamp to be allowed back in later), walk across the street to the hotel for lunch/naps or just a little break and then walk back over again!  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which only had a very small outdoor pool (with no lifeguard), simple and fairly clean rooms but they only offered us one queen sized bed for all 4 of us! Ok so there was a pull out couch but real talk…there was no way we were sleeping on that uncomfy mattress.  The highlight of the Holiday Inn Express was the FREE buffet breakfast which even beat out the food choices at Sesame Place (which were awful..read on for my review on the food).  The buffet featured hot items such as turkey sausage, egg white veggie omelets, oatmeal and pancakes.  The cold options included cereal, Chobani greek yogurt, bagels, etc.  I was impressed but not enough to stay there again.
  2. Bring a small cooler with snacks and water!  If you’re into eating organic or natural wholesome foods, be sure to pack healthy snacks!  I will totally admit to being disappointed with the food selection at the park.  Oh how I wish there was a little fresh smoothie cart instead of ice cream everywhere (which only dripped all over us and the kids).  The lines for restaurants were incredibly long too! We waited over an hour for lunch at a little taco food truck.  If you’re already in the sun and waiting on lines for rides, the last thing you want to do is wait endlessly for food, especially with children.  Here is what we did:
    • Upon entering, there will be a bag check and they will allow small coolers into the park.  We packed small sandwiches for the kids, nutrition bars, snacks and fruit.
    • One bottle of water was over $3!! Just as we did during our Disney trip, we packed many bottles of water daily and had no issue bringing them in.  According to the SP website:
    • Acceptable Items:
    • Coolers 10”X10”X12” or smaller (anything larger is prohibited)
    • Medically necessary items
    • Sealed, non-alcoholic beverages
    • Baby food/formula
    • Small, single-serve snack-sized items such as chips, pretzels, cookies and fruit
  3. Dine with the characters-at least once (breakfast is your best bet!).  Dining with the characters is a great way to get in many photos with the characters without waiting on a long line.  The characters make their way over to each and every table throughout the dining room so your child is sure to get a photo with their favorite characters! Was it pricey? yes, $20 per adult for breakfast and $28 for lunch and dinner. If you book a vacation package through Sesame Place, kids eat free but are otherwise $6 for breakfast and $9 for lunch and dinner.  Dinner included mac and cheese, chicken tenders, salad and a few other options and way too many dessert options.  However, the photos with the characters and experience of it all made it super fun.
    • If you opt for breakfast, you will get early entrance into the park!  Plus there are better breakfast choices at breakfast vs lunch and dinner.
    • Kids under 2 eat free with character dining (plus get free admission)
  4. Splurge for the Magic Queue.  The magic queue is $42/pp per day and includes unlimited first access to any ride.  It’s basically Sesame Place’s version of Disney’s FastPass.  This was awesome to use on a packed Saturday, where the lines were super long and we were able to go right ahead (through a separate entrance) and basically skip the line!).  We had no issues with a long wait while having this pass but I did hear they limit the amount that can be purchased on a given day, so get it in advance.  Having 2 little ones, one of which is 4 years old and able to ride on just about all of the rides, it was super easy to just go on and off rides without the hassle of waiting in line with toddlers!  You know how it is.
  5. When buying tickets, select the option to get the 2nd day free! I noticed there was an option for a single day admission and then another to get admission plus 2nd day free so be sure to choose that 2nd day free option!
  6. Be aware of the rain policy.  If you go on a rainy day or if it starts to rain while you’re in the park for a certain period of time (I believe it must be for at least one hour), you can go to the service desk and they will give you a free admission pass to go in on any other day!
  7. Buy tickets through your NYC ID.  If you live in NYC, do you have an NYC ID?  If so, you can use it to buy tickets to Sesame Place for $52 which includes admission, 2nd day free plus a meal!  here is the website and you will need your ID to sign in and view al of the benefits *which include discounts to broadway shows and hotels! https://www.memberdeals.com/nycgov/
  8. Arrive late.  The first day, we arrived around 4pm and there were minimal crowds.  Plus there is usually a character parade around 8pm in case you miss the 3pm one.
  9. Look out for an email for reduced pricing for season passes or just splurge and buy them at full price.  Two days after our trip, I received an email for an exclusive offer of $53 for each season pass for my family members.  That included unlimited admission for the rest of 2017 and unlimited admission in 2018! Great deal!  Otherwise its $113/pp which is about the admission of going to the park twice.    Since small kids could only handle a few hours at that park, you might want to consider getting this so you can plan future visits.  You will also get other in-park discounts with the pass.
  10. Wear a bathing suit and Bring towels! You’ll want to wear a bathing suit (and bring along water shoes) to the park and pack a change of clothes.  We did water rides first, changed and then dry rides. One thing we didn’t do was bring towels (thinking we could easily borrow from the hotel which was totally not permitted).  So ended up spending $24 on a single beach towel at the park.
  11. Go during the summer for water rides!  The water rides were a highlight for us and they close the week after Labor Day. So be sure to go during the warmer months to check them out.  My 4yo especially loved it.

 

Simple Homemade Dog Biscuits!

With my children, I’m always reading food labels and making sure they eat the foods that are minimally processed (or not processed at all) and overall healthy.  But if you have a dog, do you do the same for him or her?  When was the last time you checked the ingredients in your dog biscuits?  I’ve teamed up with education.com to share this fun and creative recipe for pups!  Making these simple homemade treats are a great way to help ensure your four-legged family member is eating right along with the rest of your family!  This recipe is the perfect for little helping hands and a great way to get your child involved in baking!  Bonus-they’ll get to learn a bit about math and measurements along the way! Ask your little helper to get ready and get mixing!  Be sure to check out their website for other fun learning activities that you can share with your child!! I’ve already printed out numerous worksheets that my 2 year old and 4 year old love!  Check it out at https://www.education.com/activity/

In the meantime, here is some info provided by education.com on how to make these dog treats and the many reasons why you need to break out these ingredients asap!
“Homemade dog treats are fun to make and delicious for your household pet! If your dog feels left out of the family’s festive holiday baking, make a batch of tasty homemade dog treats to appease him. These homemade dog treats are simple for your child to make, and the cooking process provides a good lesson on fractions and measurements as well. These homemade dog treats make excellent Christmas gifts for dogs, so go ahead and make a whole batch for your furry friend and his neighborhood companions. These homemade dog treats are made using only ordinary kitchen ingredients, and they are even edible for humans!”  https://www.education.com/resources/fractions/

What You Need:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour ( you can also mix 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 unbleached all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flaxseed (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Show your child how to preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Have your child combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter; help your child add in the egg and water to the mixture.
  4. Ask your child to stir in the flaxseed, if using.
  5. Invite your child to roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until it reaches about 1/2-inch thickness. Have him use cookie cutters in his favorite holiday shapes to cut up the dough.
  6. Bake the biscuits for approximately 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

No Bake Crispy Granola Bars (gluten free)

I’m so excited to share this recipe, I could hardly contain myself!  If you follow my IG stories then you know that I loveee to make granola bars with my kids.  It’s just fun and gives kids a chance to get creative with a variety of ingredients.  Plus they are way cheaper than store-bought and contain simple ingredients that you (and your kids) can actually pronounce!  I’m always looking for granola bar recipes that actually hold together and made this one which actually holds together (hooray!) but I suggest keeping in the fridge or freezer as it may start to fall apart once it’s left out and too soft.

These are so easy that my 4 year old basically made them with my guidance and pre-measurements!  No baking required…and these can even be frozen for an extra satisfying snack.  I love that these bars are crispy, made with One Degree Veganic Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps along with gluten free oats.  Oh and bonus, these babies contain zero refined sugar and are solely sweetened with honey.  Whoop whoop!  My little guys devoured these, especially my 2 year old who is a bit picky with homemade granola bars.  Drizzle them with a bit of melted chocolate and this crispy granola bar goes from simple to simply amazinggggg.

Ingredients

2 cups brown rice cereal

1 1/2 cups gluten free quick oats

1/3 cup finely ground flaxseed

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon coconut oil

3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 teaspoons coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Line an 11×7 baking dish with parchment paper (if you use a larger sized dish, don’t; fill the entire dish…just pack them closer together so the bars are at least 1/2″ thick).
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 chocolate chips with 2 teaspoons coconut oil and microwave for 30 seconds, whisk until chips are totally melted (place back in microwave for another 10 second if needed).  Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, brown rice crisps, sliced almonds and ground flaxseed and whisk to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, honey, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, unsweetened applesauce and peanut butter, whisk well.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix to combine and until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Transfer mixture into the prepared baking dish and using slightly wet hands, push evenly down into the pan.  Push down hard! and pack those ingredients together. This will help to keep the bars intact after cutting.
  7. Now drizzle on the chocolate!
  8. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting.  Enjoy!