Baked Salmon Dijon

Baked Salmon Dijon

There are some recipes you just keep coming back to, and Baked Salmon Dijon is one of mine. It’s become a family favorite, a dish that my husband requests and my boys eat without a complaint. That makes this a real winner, because it’s not only healthy but also fast and easy to make!

Start by making your sauce. This is super-simple – a couple big spoonfuls of Dijon mustard, a generous squeeze of honey, and a sprinkle of garlic powder all mixed together. If you want to take the time, you can use a freshly-pressed clove of garlic instead of garlic powder for better flavor. But I’m a busy mom, so anything more convenient is better in my book – and that means garlic powder works great for me.

Baked Salmon Dijon

Next pull out your salmon filet. You can use one big one or several small ones. The one I used is 1.5 lbs and pre-cut into serving-sized pieces. Pat the meat dry before placing in a baking dish – and if you hate clean-up like I do, be sure to line that baking dish with foil before you start!

Baked Salmon Dijon

Now smear the sauce thickly and evenly across the salmon, and your prep work is done.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes while you make wild rice and a tossed salad to go with it. Or garlic bread and roasted veggies. Or whatever makes your family happy. Depending on what you chose to put with it, this dish is simple enough to be a weeknight supper but delicious enough to be a company dinner!

Baked Salmon Dijon

Baked Salmon Dijon
Cuisine: Fish
  • ¼ c. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 lb salmon filet
  1. Combine first three ingredients.
  2. Place salmon filet skin-side down in foil-lined pan.
  3. Spread sauce evenly over top of salmon.
  4. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.

This guest post was contributed by Melissa Toews.  Melissa Toews is mommy to three little men (ages 4, 2 and 2 months) and wife to the big man they call daddy. She loves writing, curling up with a novel, and sharing coffee with her husband – in all the free time she doesn’t have while keeping three other people alive and happy. Besides being a mom, Melissa is a freelance blogger writing for several blogs, including her own community for expat women at  Interested in sharing a post on our site?  Email

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How Can You Support Our Wounded Warriors?

This post was sponsored by Wounded Warrior Project® for Believe In Heroes® but the opinions are all my own.


From the time we’re old enough to start noticing people in uniform, we’re taught that those people are our heroes.  They are our service men and women.  They protect us, they fight for us, they keep us safe.  We salute them in the media, we salute them in airports, we even salute them at sporting events.  But what are we really doing for them?

Did you know that nearly 48,000 men and women have been physically injured in recent military conflicts?  If that number makes you dizzy, then the nearly 400,000 service members living with conflict related stress, major depression and PTSD should stop you in your tracks.  We all recognize, at least to some degree, what those serving our country sacrifice for us.  When they come home, what can we do to help?

Our sons and daughters will grown up one day.  They will celebrate their eighteenth birthdays, they will be able to vote, they’ll be able to make whatever decisions about their life that they choose.  They may even choose to join one of the branches of the military and go off to support our country.  Doesn’t it seem like a no-brainer that if and when that day comes, we’re all here supporting them – in more than just words – when they come home?


If you’re like me, I’ve never felt like there was much I could do to really have an impact outside of making a donation here or there.  I had no idea there was something I could do as simple as shopping for specific brands, brands that are giving back through the Believe In Heroes®.  The brands participating (you can download a list of brands participating in your area here) all support programs and projects to help warriors when they come home through donations made when you purchase their products.  So far, Believe In Heroes has raised almost 22 million dollars for Wounded Warrior Project®.  That’s amazing!

What can you do to help?  First, you can shop to support the brands that support our heroes.  You can grab the full list of participating brands in your area on the Believe In Heroes® website.  Second, help spread the word about the Believe In Heroes® and Wounded Warrior Project®.  Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social platform and help drive awareness and make sure your peers know how they can support these amazing initiatives by doing their regular shopping.

Check out the list of participating brands and tell me what you’re buying that’s supporting Believe In Heroes®.  The campaign results will be released in January 2016, so be sure to keep up with the campaign and see what simply making your shopping list count can do!

Posted in Life in General | 6 Comments

Effortless Caramel Apple MiniPies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. #EffortlessPies #CollectiveBias

Caramel Apple Mini PiesTis the season for baking, baking, and more baking.  I’m guilty of suffering baking burnout this time of year, are you?  When I was asked to make a dessert using new Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt, I knew a “no bake” dessert was in my future.  I had fresh apples on hand from Sky Top Orchard here in NC.  They were originally destined for a traditional apple pie, but I had another idea in mind (at least for one of them).

Caramel Sweetened Condensed Milk Pie

With mini pies, it’s important to remember that you’re working with limited space.  You don’t want to cram in a ton of ingredients, so you want to make sure that the ingredients you choose are flavorful.  I love the crisp, sweet taste of a caramel apple, so I decided that’s the direction I would take.

Cream Cheese and Yogurt

New Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt is extremely flavorful.  I wanted to thicken it up a bit to use as my primary filling for the Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Crusts, so I added some cream cheese.  I like using light cream cheese the best, as it adds a little thickness without being too stiff.

Caramel Cheesecake Pies

My kids are just fine with straight Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt in a Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Crust topped with Reddi-wip®.  It’s a 3 ingredient snack or dessert they could make on their own that I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about.  They love to help in the kitchen, but with this, I could let them do more than just help… they could be in control.

Mini Caramel Apple Pies

Adding fresh fruit (mine was literally hand picked off a tree!) adds some crunch and an extra pop of flavor.  Reddi-wip® and a little drizzle of the caramel flavored sweetened condensed milk, those are the “cherry” on top!  If you can’t find caramel flavored sweetened condensed milk, you could use any caramel dessert topping.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Effortless Caramel Apple MiniPies
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 6 mini pies
  • Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crust 6-Pack
  • 1 Can Caramel Flavored Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 Containers Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt
  • 8 oz Light Cream Cheese
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Can Reddi-wip®
  1. Remove Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crusts from packaging and unstack.
  2. Pour enough of the Caramel Sweetened Condensed Milk into the bottom of each crust to cover the bottom completely.
  3. Combine the Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt and the Cream Cheese and mix until smooth.
  4. Split the Yogurt and Cream Cheese mixture between the 6 Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crusts.
  5. Thinly slice the apple and arrange a few slices on top of each mini pie.
  6. Top with Reddi-wip® and a drizzle of Caramel Sweetened Condensed Milk.
  7. You may serve the mini pies immediately, or refrigerate before serving.

You can find these ingredients and everything else on your shopping list at your local Wal-Mart.  Want more #EffortlessPie inspiration?  Check out other flavor creations on this site.

Where to findI made these easy, effortless Caramel Apple MiniPies in about 10 minutes.  They were divine!  What delicious dessert could you whip up using Reddi-wip®, Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt or Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crusts?

Posted in Recipes | 10 Comments

Life Lessons From A Two Year Old

1924260_1215264263906_7019095_n As the mom of a toddler, I do a lot of teaching. Every day we work on lessons like how to wash your hands, how to get dressed, how to sit on the potty, and how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. But recently I’ve been thinking about some of the things my two-year-old has taught me — important life lessons that every one should learn.

1) Play Hard. Everything he does, he does with abandon. When he’s running, he runs with everything he’s got. When he’s trying to figure out how to do something new, it completely absorbs him. He’s not slowed down by fears or cautions. He doesn’t worry about how things are going to turn out. He just throws his whole heart into whatever he’s doing. He loves to play, and he plays hard.

2) Speak up for your needs. He doesn’t hesitate to let us know when he needs something – and to ask for it again and again if we’re not paying attention. He doesn’t question his self-worth. He’s not held back by fears about whether he deserves what he’s asking for. He just confidently – and insistently – communicates his needs so they can be taken care of. Seriously, how hard is it to say, “This is what I need. Please help me.”

3) Live like nobody’s watching. He doesn’t care what other people think of him. He’s not worried about fitting in or being popular. Whether we’re at home, at the park, in the grocery store, or at church, he expresses himself freely. He does what he wants to do, with his whole heart, no matter who is watching. Mommy might be embarrassed, but he’s not!

4) Never stop learning. Everyday my two-year-old is learning. He practices communication by being a little parrot, repeating everything he hears. He climbs up and down the stairs over and over, just to prove that he can do it. He tests out new behaviors and takes cues from our reactions. He sits and studies picture books, pointing out familiar animals or characters. His little mind is always inquisitive, always seeking, always learning, and always practicing what he’s learned.

5) Don’t give up. Life isn’t easy for a two-year-old. Seriously, even walking can still be a challenge sometimes! Watching the amount of effort it takes just to climb up on the couch makes me tired. There are so many new things to accomplish, and he usually doesn’t get it right the first time. But he doesn’t give up. When he’s figuring out something new, he tries over and over and over again. And the delight on his face when he finally gets it is priceless!

6) Delight in the little things. It doesn’t take much to make him happy. An ice cube in his cup of water, a butterfly on the porch, or a few minutes wrestling on the floor with Daddy are enough to bring smiles and sunshine to his little face. He’s thrilled with a walk through the neighborhood or a candy treat at the grocery store. Even the little things impress him – being able to wiggle your eyebrows, or drawing a smiley-face on a napkin.

7) Sometimes you just need a hug. We all have bad days, and even toddlers deal with tough stuff sometimes. When he’s tired or hurt or overwhelmed, nothing makes life better like a big cuddly hug. And that’s just how it should be for all of us.

This guest post was contributed by Melissa Toews.  Melissa Toews is mommy to three little men (ages 4, 2 and 2 months) and wife to the big man they call daddy. She loves writing, curling up with a novel, and sharing coffee with her husband – in all the free time she doesn’t have while keeping three other people alive and happy. Besides being a mom, Melissa is a freelance blogger writing for several blogs, including her own community for expat women at  Interested in sharing a post on our site?  Email

Posted in Life in General, Parenting | Leave a comment

Our Clearwater Vacation to See Winter and Hope (Part 2)

CMA Dolphin Statue If you haven’t read about the first part of our Clearwater, Florida vacation, you can do that here.  If you. have read through part 1, I know you’re ready to hear about our visit to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to visit Hope and Winter, the famous dolphins from Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2.  In addition to telling you about what we saw at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, I have some tips for you too!

Winter's Dolphin Tale AdventureWe started our Clearwater Marine adventure by sitting in traffic.  Seriously.  There was a lot of traffic.  Despite going to the aquarium on a Monday, it was packed.  So packed that we were turned away because of parking.  But wait!  There is another way… Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure… just a few miles away.  Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure is a separate, stand alone facility just a short ride away.  How did that help our aquarium parking problem?  There’s a free shuttle AND a free boat ride available between the two attractions.  Simple enough.

Doplhin Tale FerryIt was pretty warm and really, really humid in Florida, so the boat ride felt pretty amazing.  The kids loved being able to stand at the front of the boat and watch the birds and be on the lookout for wild dolphins.

Clearwater Bay BridgeI really enjoyed the sightseeing the boat ride offered.  Our Captains were quite knowledgeable and pointed out areas of interest, the names of the different bodies of water we crossed and even showed us a few great places to grab a bite.  And did I mention how amazing the breeze felt?

Clearwater Marine AquariumClearwater Marine Aquarium isn’t your typical aquarium.  You’re not walking around looking into tanks full of brightly colored fish.  The marine life here is here because they’ve been rescued.  Some are being rehabilitated and some will be permanent residents, as they would not be able to survive back in the wild on their own.

Turtle DataThe first spot we hit up was the Sea Turtle Rehab area.  We learned lot of interesting facts about the sea turtles and got to see several of the resident turtles swimming in their tanks.  We also got to see the marine life intake area, food prep area and treatment rooms for the marine life.

CMA StingraysStingrays and I are in love with each other.  Well, maybe the love is one-sided.  If you’ve never touched a stingray, find the closest aquarium to you that has a touch tank and go.  Go now.  You can finish reading later.  They have the most amazing velvety skin.  If you plan your trip far enough ahead, you can reserve a time to feed the stingrays.  (Tip – I you want to do any of the special reserved experiences the aquarium offers, you need to plan WAY ahead.  The experiences book fast and far in advance.)

Dolphin SkeletonTo really understand how any animal’s body works, you need to see “under the hood”.  Getting to not only look at, but actually touch the skeleton of a bottlenose dolphin was thrilling for the kids.  It was a great way for them to grasp just how big a dolphin really is and how powerful their bodies really are.

Clearwater Nicholas TrainingSpeaking of powerful, we were lucky enough to be able to watch Nicolas’ training session.  It wasn’t a show, and he wasn’t preforming.  He was learning.  The trainer set a goal for him, and he was training toward that goal.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium Dolphin TrainerAnd then there was Winter and Hope.  There was (no surprise) a HUGE crowd gathered to see Winter and Hope.  Despite the crowds, we have plenty of changes to watch Winter and Hope swim around (both up top and down in the underwater observation area) and play with their ball.

Dolphin Tale WinterAs we watched the dolphins swim and play, we got to see the most amazing thing… Winter without her prosthetic tail.

Winter Tale Off and HopeThe moment that we saw Winter’s nub come out of the water, I was breathless.  It was heartbreaking, awe inspiring, and absolutely stunning.  Winter’s story is one of true triumph, for both her and the people at Clearwater Marine Aquarium who were determined to save her.  If you haven’t watched Dolphin Tale, you should grab a copy on Amazon (it’s only $4.99 and free shipping for Prime Members).

All in all, we had an amazing time visiting Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  The biggest tips I can offer you for your visit are to 1) plan ahead (special programs book up fast and far in advance) 2) expect a crowd 3) plan to park at and travel over from Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure and 4) don’t expect your typical aquarium experience and 5) be read to learn.

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Mummy Dogs and Other Spooky Delicious Halloween Treats

Mummy Dogs for HalloweenYou guys know that I’m all about quick, simple recipes that use easy to find ingredients.  It’s a huge bonus if the end result is something my kids will actually eat!  Pillsbury has put together a collection of Halloween recipes that are cute, spooky and something your kids will ask for long after Halloween has passed.

Crescent Roll CouponsWhipping up Mummy Dogs only takes a few minutes.  The ingredients are all right out of your fridge (I know you always have hot dogs, cheese and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, right?)  You can grab coupons from Publix for Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and lots of other great products by clicking here.

Sliced CheeseSo, on to making Mummy Dogs!  You can use processed cheese (like Pillsbury’s recipe calls for) or you can go all grown up and pull out the good stuff.  I love a good, mild cheddar.  Slice it thin.  You need one little strip of cheese per Mummy. (If you love my knife, check out these Farberware knives.)

Making Mummy DogsRoll out your Crescent dough, cut it into thin strips and let you kids do the wrapping.  These go into a 375 degree oven (get the specifics on cooking time here) and you end up with a fun dinner you’re kids will love.  Make some Mac & Cheese and call it a win!

Mummy Dog Halloween TreatsYou can get the full recipe for Mummy Dogs as well as 7 other great recipes by visiting ReadyPlanSave, and get some great coupons while you’re there.

*Leave a comment telling me which recipe from the ReadyPlanSave site is your favorite and I’ll pick one comment at random to win $10 in Paypal cash!

Posted in Food, Recipes | 8 Comments

Keeping It Organized with VolunteerSpot

This post is sponsored by Acorn Influence and it’s advertiser, VolunteerSpot.  All opinions are those of this site.

Girl Scouts

I’ve have a long history of jumping in to take charge.  I’ve organized charitable events for non-profits, I’ve been a room mom, and I’ve even led a Daisy Troop.  Those cuties and I made masks for Mardi Gras.  Leading the Daisy troop was fun, but coordinating everything was a handful.  Paper, taped to the wall, with a marker near by was how we handled sign-ups.  It was a pain.  I didn’t know a better way.

When something needs to be done at my office, I’m the one they come to.  Organize a meeting?  Sure.  Plan a birthday surprise?  Got it.  A holiday for the staff?  Consider it done.  For the most part, I enjoy the planning.  Passing around a sign-up sheet and basically “chasing paper” is not my thing, so now that I know what VolunteerSpot is all about, I’m giving it a go.

VSpot_logoWhat is VolunteerSpot?  If you’re involved in any kind of planning where you have to track who’s doing/bringing/signing up for what, it’s your new best friend!  It only takes a few minutes to set up an activity, and you can send out the sign up via email or even share it on social media.  It’s a great way to organize any type of event.

Thanksgiving Meals

I just used VolunteerSpot to set up our company Thanksgiving Potluck.  Setting up an event takes only a few minutes.  You need to sign up for an account first… but don’t worry – there is a FREE version.  It’s exactly what I used to set up my event.  The site guides you step by step and offers video tutorials if you want to watch the process in action.  You can’t mess this up, I promise!

When I set up the potluck signup last week, it was literally the easiest things I did all day.  I would’ve spent more time making a spreadsheet than it took me to set up the form online.  Getting it out there for my group was as easy as a quick email with a link.  Our employees have been able to sign up, shoot me questions, make changes.  Easy peasy!  And can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here already?  2015 is flying by.  Before long, I’ll be sending out a sign up for our Holiday lunch!

Volunteer Spot Set Up Event

Maybe you’re organizing a can food drive at your church, or maybe it’s a smaller group and you’re just trying to get volunteers to bring snacks to book club?  You can organize any event, for any group, big or small.  You can even use VolunteerSpot to organize family get-togethers – It is that time of the year after all!

VolunteerSpot is also available on mobile!  It’s perfect for planners on the go.  Check it out…

mobile-devicesWhat will you do with all the time you won’t spend chasing paper sign up sheets???  Maybe I’ll have a quiet moment with my coffee, grab a book and enjoy the 15 minutes I’m not going to spend chasing paper today.  And that’s just today!

Posted in Life in General, Parenting, Reviews | 4 Comments

Scary Fun Fanta Eye-Scream Floats

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. #SpookySnacks #CollectiveBias

Fanta Eye Scream Floats

What’s more “Halloween” than a glass full of eyeballs?  Making this eye-scream float is a quick way to add a little spooky fun to any Halloween gathering.  From kids to adults, no one can resist the cream, dreamy flavor of an ice cream float, especially when it’s staring back at you!

ice cream eyeballs

The stars of this frightful productions are the ice cream eyeballs, made with OREO cookies!  OREO has some special Halloween themed packs you can pick up at your local Walmart.  They are the perfect size for snacking or passing out to all of those little ghouls and goblins that will soon be making their rounds.

Making these eye-scream eyeballs is easy!  First things first, grab some OREO Minis.  Carefully open your OREO cookies to expose the cream filling.  Grab a chocolate chip and gently squish it right into the cream filling to create a pupil.  (You can eat the extra half of the cookie!)  Next, make balls of vanilla ice cream using a small scoop (about a heaping tablespoon each) and gentle squish your iris/pupil cookie creation onto the front of the eye-scream ball.  Tuck those in the freezer to let them set back up.

Cup of Eyeballs

After about 15 minutes, you can pull your eyeballs back out of the freezer.  If you want to add a bloodshot look, moisten the backside of a butter knife and dip it into red sugar sprinkles, then press those onto the eyeballs.  They should stick pretty well.

Fill up a glass with a little ice cream, top with a few eyeballs, then pour Fanta right over the top.  You end up with a delicious, creamy, orange and vanilla ice cream treat that is frightfully delicious!

While Halloween is only one day, you can celebrate with OREO and Fanta all month long!  My kids and I will spend the month of October doing crafts, making recipes, pumpkin picking and of course decorating!  These Fanta Eye-Scream Floats will fit in all month long!  Want some spooky inspiration for your Halloween activities?  Evette Rios, host of the CBS show Recipe Rehab has another exclusive recipe just for you at the #SpookySnacks Social Hub.

Eye Ball Float

What #SpookySnacks are you whipping up for Halloween?  Be sure to stop by Walmart and pick up Fanta, OREO and all of the other goodies you need to make this Halloween a spooktacular event!

Spooky Snack Lab Walmart

Posted in Recipes | 25 Comments

Chicken Tortilla Soup w/ Pepper Lime Tortilla Chips

I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site and Mission Foods. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of payment, product or experiences.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

The weather is cooling off, the days are getting shorter and we’re finally ready for football season!  Some people go to the games, some go out to restaurants to watch the game with friends and some park it on the couch for a family day full of pigskin rivalry.  Whether you’re pulling for your home team or you’re a die hard fan of a team half way across the country, you can’t watch a game without food.  It’s a must!

Kaiser Kids Packers

I like hearty and filling game day meals, but I also really enjoy meals that take little effort and that can stay on the stove (or in the slow cooker) through the afternoon, allowing everyone to eat when they want.  Of course, we’re all eating in front of the TV!

Chicken Tortill Soup with Pepper Lime Tortilla Chips

Savory, flavorful soups and stews are great for game day.  I wanted to add more flavor by giving my tortilla chips an unexpected little zing.  Lime juice, salt and pepper were the perfect combo.  Instructions in making your own Pepper Lime Tortilla Chips are included in the recipe below.  Mission Foods Tortillas work great for making the chips.  You can make a whole pack or save some for burritos or soft tacos later!

Chicken Tortilla Soup Ingredients

The best part of this soup, aside from how fantastic is tastes, is that it is so simple even an older kiddo could make it!  If you can do just a little cutting and open a few cans (and safely operate the oven and stovetop) you can totally make this soup!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken Tortilla Soup w/ Pepper Lime Tortilla Chips
Cook time
Total time
Simple and FULL of flavor. The perfect soup for a cool winter day.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6-8 Servings
  • 6 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • I Small Can Diced Green Chilies
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • I Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • I Cup Frozen Corn
  • I/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro (Fresh)
  • I Can Great Northern (White) Beans
  • I Avocado
  • I Package Soft Tortillas
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Lime
  1. In a large sauce pan, combine the first SEVEN ingredients.
  2. Cook over medium low, covered, for approximately 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily.
  3. Remove chicken breasts from the soup and shred.
  4. Return chicken to the soup.
  5. Add the Great Northern Beans to the soup and the juice of half a lime (reserve the other half).
  6. Continue to cook over low heat.
  7. In the meantime, preheat the over to 350 degrees.
  8. Place tortillas in a single layer on a flat baking sheet.
  9. Rub each tortilla generously with the cut side of a lime.
  10. Season tortillas well with salt and pepper.
  11. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut tortillas in to bite size strips or into triangle chips.
  12. Bake in the over for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Keep an eye on them so that they don't burn.
  13. Serve the soup with tortilla strips, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and a few slices of avocado.

Pepper Lime Tortilla Chips

Learn more about Mission Foods and join the Mission Foods Consumer Program and there’s a chance you could win gift cards and other prizes!

And speaking of prizes, I have 2 packs of Mission Foods Tortillas to give away (US only).  All you have to do to enter is comment on this post.  How do you enjoy your tortillas?

Posted in Recipes | 14 Comments

Our Clearwater Vacation To See Winter and Hope (Part 1)

Clearwater Beach FLA

It’s been a crazy busy Summer, but now that Fall is here and I have a tiny break to catch up before the holiday crazies set in, I finally have a chance to tell you guys about our trip to Florida!  I’m going to break this down into two posts, because if I don’t, I’m going to kill your computers with a picture overload!

My mini-me, well only like me in attitude, has been dying to go to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter since the movie Dolphin Tale hit the screen.  Being pretty dolphin-obsessed when I was younger, I understand the pull.  Finally, after crunching the numbers and weighing our vacation options, we decided to skip our normal huge family vacation this year and instead head for Clearwater, Florida.


First things first, there was the great plane verses car debate.  We live a solid 10 hour drive from Clearwater, and that’s assuming you don’t have to stop a half dozen times – and with kids in tow – let’s just be honest… it would’ve been a 12 hour drive for us.  And by us, I mean me.  The solo adult.  The only licensed driver.  Hmmm… plane it is.  We flew out of Charlotte and into Tampa (via a connecting flight in Atlanta).  My kids definitely got their fill of airports for one trip.  I booked the whole shebang through (flight, car and hotel) and definitely saved some money.  (No, they aren’t paying me to say that.  I priced a number of options a number of ways and through a number of places.  Priceline was the best option.)

Wyndam Grand Clearwater Beach FLWe stayed at the Wyndham Garden on Clearwater Beach.  We thought it was a really nice place, and more of a resort than a hotel.  The rooms were very, very clean, had nice furniture and plenty of room.  We had a great experience with the staff, and outside of one little elevator issue (I kinda got trapped for about 10 minutes), I had no complaints.  The kids really enjoyed it too.  They loved the pool, beach toys, floats and other amenities the hotel had to offer them.  I really enjoyed the lounge chairs, beach umbrellas and wonderful cabana staff there to handle any requests we had.

Playing on a Hotel BedThe Wyndham also had a fantastic restaurant on site that we enjoyed for most of our meals.  I even ordered room service the night we arrived and we were all thrilled with the quality of the food.  That being said, it was a little pricey.  That’s to be expected though.  The hotel was also within walking distance of a variety of other dining options, but really… how could you not enjoy leisurely walking down to the ocean side deck for a scrumptious breakfast burrito in your bathing suit?

Breakfast BurritoThe kids really enjoyed eating there too.  That’s part of why we ended up eating there so many times!  They would pick out several things they wanted at each meal, so we’d come back again so they could try the next thing on their list.  I can’t say I blame them.  I did not have a single thing that I didn’t think was fantastic the entire time we were there.

Breakfast on Clearwater BeachWhat about Winter and Hope?  Well, we definitely got to see Winter and Hope, as well as Nicholas and a few other animals from Dolphin Tale, and we checked out a cool place all about the movie.  We also took a boat ride of the bays and got to see some dolphins playing in the water by our hotel!  I’ll tell you all about our Dolphin Tale Adventure in my next post, but for now, check out the friend we made on the beach…

Heron Clearwater Beach

Posted in Reviews, Travel | 1 Comment