Chicken Manicotti

It’s been at least 5 years since I made this awesome meal…Chicken Manicotti. It’s really an easy and simple recipe (do not let stuffing shells scare you!); and the entire family loves it.

Ingredients: (if you don’t make your own marinara sauce) 1 jar pasta sauce, 1 container of ricotta cheese, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, 2 to 3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, uncooked manicotti shells, grated Parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Boil water and add the chicken breasts. After about 30-45 minutes, remove chicken breasts from water and cool. Then shred.


  • In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and shredded chicken. Then mix.


  • Grease a 13×9 glass pan and spread pasta sauce on the bottom.
  • With a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon, stuff the mixture into the manicotti shells and lay in pan.


  • Once all shells are filled and placed, spread more pasta sauce on top of the shells.


  • Cover with foil and place in oven. Bake for 1 hour or 1 1/2 hours depending if shells are soft.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Place in oven and broil until brown and bubbly.


  • Remove from oven and serve.


Happy Eating!

Back To The 90’s

This fall, I am definitely taking a trip down memory lane….more specifically, the 1990’s. Fall 2016 fashion is reminiscent of my late grade school and high school years; and I find myself walking through stores thinking, “I used to wear this”.

However, these 90’s trends have resurrected with less of an alternative, grunge edge. They are sleek and more sophisticated…..perfect for who you are now.

Here are my top 5 favorite fall trends:

  1. Chokers – Anthropologie & Nordstrom

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2.  Plaid – Abercrombie & GAP

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3. Shoulders – Abercrombie

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4. Jumpers – Abercrombie

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5. Drop Waist Dresses – Abercrobie & GAP

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So, listen to your favorite Seattle-based band, marathon watch Beverly Hills 90210 and try on some familiar fashion.

Happy Shopping!

Walt Disney World – Planning Timeline

You know that commercial…the one with family is walking up to Cinderella Castle, with their matching Mickey ears, when suddenly their favorite character appears out of nowhere! Of course a photographer is there to capture this magical memories that will be cherished forever!

You also know it doesn’t just magically happen…right? While Walt Disney World is known for making amazing, magical moments, but it also requires research and pre-planning! With the increase in technology, planning ahead has become even more crucial! Today, I wanted to give you some travel agent insider tips about planning a Walt Disney World vacation.



Booking Your Vacation – 7 Months

When to book?
The time of year you visit Walt Disney World can have a huge impact on your experience. Peak times include summer vacations and weeks that include major holidays (Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are the big four)! During these times, the prices will be higher and the parks will be far more crowded. Booking off-peak times means less expensive pricing, lighter crowds, and great events like Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the fall, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the winter, and Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival in the spring. In general, it is recommended to book sooner rather than later to allow the most flexibility in planning. I recommend booking at least 7 months in advance, if possible – you’ll see why in just a bit.

How long to stay?
Walt Disney World is roughly the size of the city of San Francisco. It’s not a mere amusement park, but an amazing destination complete with 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, dozens of resorts, 4 PGA golf courses, 2 mini-golf courses, a major sports complex, and a newly-renovated shopping and entertainment district! It’s a lot to cover, but a week for your vacation is a great amount of time to get a chance to see a bit of everything. If a full week doesn’t fit in your budget, 5 nights would allow you 4 full days at the parks…time to visit each park once! You’ll just scratch the surface, but with a good plan in place you’ll see and do a lot!

Where to stay?
Walt Disney World has over 25 resorts to choose from, for a variety of budgets. Each resort offers something different in terms of theming and experience.The benefits to staying at a Disney resort (vs off- property somewhere) includes extra hours in the park, access to discounted dining through Disney’s their dining plans, amazing guest service, magic bands, early access to reservations, and more!

Basic rooms and amenities are available at the Value level hotels – All-Star Movies, All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Art of Animation, and Pop Century. These resorts offer simple rooms with double beds, bright colors, whimsical decor, and a very kid-friendly atmosphere. Each resort has its own food court dining option.
  • At the next resort level (Moderate), you will see more subdued theming, queen beds instead of doubles, as well as specially themed rooms, such as royal princess or pirate motifs. Moderate hotels include Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans – French Quarter, Port Orleans – Riverside, and the Cabins at Fort Wilderness. These resorts offer full-service restaurants in addition to food courts and they are in great locations that are central to everything!
  • The top level of Disney accommodations is their Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts – Animal Kingdom Lodge, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Old Key West, Polynesian Village, Saratoga Springs, Wilderness Lodge, and Yacht Club. These resorts offer a variety of rooms types, many with magical upgrades, like theme park or savanna views. Fine dining opportunities are available, in addition to full-service and food court options. These resorts come in at a premium price, but are also located the closest to theme parks (typically with unique access to at least one of the parks). The villas offer even more space and home-like amenities.


Dining Reservations – 180 Days

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)
Walt Disney World’s dining reservations open 180 days (~6 months) prior to your arrival. When I tell my clients this, I get a lot of “I don’t know what I’m eating tonight, let alone what I’ll want in 6 months!” While I can totally commiserate with the “what’s-for-dinner” discussion, Disney dining is a completely different beast, involving over 100 dining options and some very hard to get reservations!

While not impossible to get dining reservations less than 180 days out for sought-after locations, it usually requires flexibility, patience, and perseverance. For my clients, I like to have as much opportunity as possible to get them reservations at the specific restaurant and day/time they want. Booking your reservation before 180 days maximizes the chance of getting everything you want on the first try! If you will be visiting during a busy time, booking early becomes even more important, in order to snag the reservations you want!

Disney Dining Plans

Walt Disney World offers a variety of dining plans for you to choose from. These plans can not only save you money, but also help to make your vacation as stress-free as possible. By prepaying for your meals, you don’t have to try and guess at how much to budget for food!

  • Disney’s Quick-Service Dining Plan is for families on the go! If you don’t like to sit down at a long meal each, day this plan is for you! It offers you 2 fast food (or “quick-service” as Disney calls them) meals per night of your stay, plus a snack for each person! No reservations required, with one exception… your family can eat when and where’d they’d like!
  • The most popular plan by far is the next tier up, or Disney’s Plus Dining Plan. This is a great mix of both the “quick-service” food and more traditional table-service restaurants, plus dinner shows and character meals! This plan does require pre-planning as the most popular restaurants will book up quickly!!!
  • The Deluxe Dining Plan is the third tier and really makes your vacation all-inclusive, with three meals, your choice of quick-service or table-service, plus two snacks for each person per night of your stay. For a lot of folks, this is just too much food, but if you plan on a lot fine dining (you might be surprised to know Disney has some of the best-rated restaurants in the area) or dinner shows this is the plan for you!


FastPass+ – 60 Days
You may have heard friends who have recently been to Disney toss around words like Magic Band or Fastpass+. This will soon become your lingo too!

Fastpass+ is Disney’s system for pre-reserving your spot in line at up to three attractions per day. This ensures you get to see your favorites attractions with very little wait. Combine that with a great plan of attack and you’ll find you can see and do so much! You can begin selecting your Fastpass+ reservations 60 days prior to arrival!

Magic Bands
Magic Band bracelets are FREE to Walt Disney World guests and are your life line throughout your vacation! They hold your park tickets, entry to your room, dining plan credits, FastPass+ reservations and more – all with a simple tap! They make your vacation easy and everything is so convenient. You even get to pick your own color!


Getting Ready to Vacation – 30 Days

Let’s Get Packing!
In the month leading up to your trip, you’ll also want to start gathering anything you’ve purchased for your trip – special outfits, Mickey ears, autograph books, etc. The Florida sun is a lot hotter than some people are used to, so be sure to pack sunscreen (I know from experience). You may also want to consider buying/bringing a portable phone charger so your electronic devices will be able to keep up with you and your amazing vacation!

Paid in Full
Your vacation balance also must be paid in full at least 30 days prior to your arrival. If you plan to use a Disney gift card, make sure it specifically says Walt Disney World or Disney Parks on the back of it. There are some gift cards that are just for the Disney Store and unfortunately those won’t work to pay on a Disney Park vacation.


Does this still sound a bit overwhelming? Well, let me share with you a secret tool… me!!! While there is a ton of information out there, using a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations can be an invaluable tool to making the most of your Disney vacation! At Living With The Magic Vacations we offer a special package that includes all the necessities for a memorable Disney vacation (including booking your dining and Fastpass+ reservations for you)… and we tailor it specifically to your family! Normally this package is $89 (per family…not per person or per day), but we are currently offering it to Mod Housewife readers for 25% off! Just mention where you saw us. Oh and we also will help you find the best dates and right vacation package (including resort, tickets and dining) for you at no cost!! You can read more tips and hints from me on my blog –!

Magically Yours,

Magic On The Seas…….Part 2

So now that you are on the cruise (hopefully enjoying an adult beverage and relaxing in a lounge chair while your children are playing in the Mickey Pool), it’s time for your activities and excursions.

Here is a day-by-day account of our cruise activities: (The Disney Navigator was waiting in our room each evening to let us know the next day’s activities)

Day 1 (at sea) – 3:45pm – Room/Luggage ready   4:00pm Safety Demonstration (mandatory)   6:15pm The Welcome Show in the Walt Disney Theatre   7:00pm Family Dance Party at The Tube   8:15pm (Late Dinner Seating) Animator’s Palate   9:15pm Kids eat first and an Oceaneer Club counselor will escort your children to the club while you finish your dinner   11pm Plan the next day’s activities and sleep

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Day 2 (at sea) – 8:30am Boot Camp  (nominal fee and sign up day 1 at Senses Day Spa)   9:30am Breakfast room service – it’s free and take advantage  10am  pool time   11:30am Oceaneer Club (lunch and dinner are served) while we chill at the adult only pool, deck and Current’s Bar 6:15pm Aladdin Show at the Walt Disney Theatre  7:30pm Beatles Sing-a-Long at La Piazza 8:15pm Dinner at the Enchanted Garden   9:15pm Oceaneer Club  10pm Ooh La La Champagne Bar   11:30pm Warm cookies and milk room service and sleep

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Day 3 (at sea) – 8:30am Breakfast room service   9am Oceaneer Club   11am Explore ship and lunch at Cabana’s   1pm Ship Family Game “Become a Detective”   2:30pm Anyone Can Cook Culinary Series   7pm Oceaneer Club    7:30pm Dinner at Palo    11pm sleep

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Day 4 (Tortola) –  8:30am Depart Ship     8:45am-12:45pm The Virgin Gorda Baths Excursion 3:45pm Bibbity Bobbity Boutique    5:00pm Zootopia in Buena Vista   7pm Pirate Night begins 8:15pm Dinner at Animator’s Palate   10pm Pirate Night Fireworks

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Day 5 (St. Thomas/St. John) – 9:30am Depart Ship   10am Boat ride from St. Thomas to St. John 11am Tour of St. John    2:45pm Pool time    4:45pm Hair braids     8:15pm Dinner at Enchanted Garden   10pm Meeting with Disney Vacation Club

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Day 6 (at sea with rain) – 8:30am Bootcamp  10am Breakfast at Cabana’s poolside and relax day 4:45pm Couples Spa Treatment at Senses Spa   8:15pm Dinner at Royal Court   9:15pm Oceaneer Club   10pm Skyline Bar   11pm Sleep


Day 7 (Castaway Cay) – 8am 5k on Deck 4   10:30am Docked on Castaway Cay   11am Beach and lunch   5pm Pack suitcases and have them outside stateroom    8:15pm Dinner at Animator’s Palate    10pm Family Dance Party   10:30pm Sleep

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Day 8 (Return home) 8:15am breakfast at Animator’s Palate  9:15am Disney Magic Express to Orlando International Airport

Note: Receive a 10% discount on a future cruise if booked onboard.

We absolutely loved this cruise; and we will cruise the Western Caribbean/Star Wars Day for spring break 2017. But our first love will always be the parks of Disney World.

Have a magical vacation!


Magic on the High Seas…..Part 1

After conquering the parks, we decided to conquer the high seas aboard the Disney Cruise Liner, The Fantasy. It’s been two weeks since we returned; and I still think back to each day’s activities, the people met and the places discovered.

We took the 7-Day cruise from Port Canaveral and traveled to Tortola, St.Thomas/St. John and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island).

In this first blog post, I want to give you the details of booking and then arriving on the cruise.

We booked this late March ’16 cruise in September ’15 with travel agent, Kristie Bennett of Dreams Unlimited; and received a $400 onboard credit. She was wonderful and talked to me one day for 45 minutes explaining the ABC’s of a Disney Cruise. She is a fabulous resource.

Seventy-five days out (since we are first time cruisers), we were able to book our excursions and any onboard activities that need reservations such as brunch/dinner at Palo or Remy (adult-only restaurants), Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and Senses Spa. Note: 1) I booked my excursions at midnight, popular excursions book fast! 2) After your first cruise, you officially become part of the Castaway Cay Club (silver, gold, platinum levels). Then you are able to book your excursions, reservations, etc. 90, 105 & 120 days out.

It is recommended that you arrive for your cruise the day before. If your flight is delayed, the cruise will leave without you. We arrived in Orlando on Friday evening and stayed at the Airport Hyatt Regency. We ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, McCoy’s and it was excellent.

We chose to take the Disney Magical Express from Orlando to Port Canaveral. Unlike taking the “FREE” Magical Express from the airport to Disney World (must stay on Disney property), you must book the Disney Magical Express and it’s $70/per person, round trip. We felt the cost was worth it…..we left our bags in the Hyatt on Saturday morning and did not see them again until Saturday evening in our stateroom. Same for leaving the cruise, our bags were taken at 8:30pm the last night of the cruise and we did not see them until we landed in Cincinnati the next evening. Plus, Disney transportation is always reliable and one less thing to stress about.


One month from arrival, you will receive your cruise itinerary booklet. This will include all luggage tags, reservations, stateroom, Disney Magical Express reservation information and much more. Keep this in your travel carry-on!

Day 1 of the cruise, we arrived at Port Canaveral at 10am (get ready to wait and have a snack in your purse). You will check-in and then immediately proceed to check-in your children at the activity center desk. They will receive their magic bands (their pass in and out of the onboard activities centers). Don’t do this on the cruise, there will be a massive line. Also, you will be charged $15 for this band. When you return it the last day of the cruise, you will receive a credit.


At 11:15am, Disney began calling assigned groups to enter the ship. Not sure how to improve this number, but frequent cruisers were higher on the list.  We were group 11 (out of 40); and finally were on board around 11:50am.

Your stateroom will not be ready until around 3:45pm. Make sure to wear a swimsuit and coverup when arriving to the ship. As we entered the ship, we went straight to Deck 11 for swimming and lunch, which were already available.

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As we were chilling at the pool, drink attendants walked around with drinks of the day, etc. Make sure to create a drink budget. Milk, juice, soda and coffee are free. We also ordered bottled water and beer for our room for a nominal fee and it’s delivered to your stateroom.  For beer drinkers, be sure to get the Beer Mug deal.  The mug costs $15 (you get to take it home) and you receive 22oz beers for the price of 16oz the entire cruise.

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My next few posts will be about daily activities and excursions. Hope these logistic planning tips help!

Bon Voyage!

Make Incredible Things Happen!

I am very fortunate to have so many talented and confident women in my life. Instead of being envious and jealous, I celebrate and admire them (plus, this view makes your life so much happier). We accept our differences; and offer support when our views and decisions are unpopular. We value the meaning of “friendship” and don’t push each other away. And there’s trust, for which true friendship is built upon.

Sometimes I feel that I am living in a Bravo “housewives” series. I am sure that many of my readers feel the same. I no longer care if I am not invited to a party or left out of other social circles. Life is too short and I would rather have quality friendships than quantity. And, when did women start hating other women? Or is this something that began with the world and will haunt us from junior high to the grave. Note: I am not perfect and have my faults. But maybe maturity has finally settled in and these situations exhaust me.


The quote above has so much meaning. I feel that women are our own worst enemies. We can conquer anything if we would be kind and not bitchy. We need to offer encouragement, not put each other down. And the worst, (I am guilty of this too!) gossiping behind each other backs. Because guess what? We all find out what is said.

So here’s your goal: Congratulate  another woman on an achievement or support a friend who is having a difficult time. This kind of positivity will  make a difference and possibly make incredible things happen!