Shutterfly giveaway winner!

I loved reading all about your favorite holiday traditions and hated to see this giveaway come to an end. picked 3 lucky winners for our Shutterfly giveaway.

Each winner will receive 25 free cards from Shutterfly.

The winners are:

drawingcloser said... 2

I'm a FB follower!

Camille said... 30

One of my favorite holiday traditions with our family is riding the free wagon ride (complete with draft horses and jingle bells) around our small town.


Cerise said... 3

Our favorite tradition is gathering around my mother (children and adults alike) while she reads a Night Before Christmas.

Contact me if you are a winner. Thanks for entering!


Family photos with Kris Allen

I wanted to share with you a few of the photos that we had taken last weekend by awesome local photographer Kris Allen. Kris has done our pictures several times both times at the beach. This time, I was hoping for more rustic fall colored backdrops, brick walls and train tracks.
While the train tracks seem like a lovely back drop for some really cool photos, they are certainly not worth risking your life for. Something we quickly learned during our photo shoot. I learned that it's not IF but WHEN a train will come and that trains don't have a predictable schedule and offer little to no warning when they are coming.
Please, let the lesson that we learned prevent you from making the same mistake that we did.

Things I'm working on

I've had a lot of things on my to do list this week and a lot of half finished projects.

Here are a few sneak peeks.

Subway art

Hand dyed coffee filters

Heat transfer T-shirts for our very own family Turkey Trot

AND after trying his hand at building shelves in my closet, my husband has been working on built in's in his closet. He's got a great start on it and it looks amazing! I can't wait to see what he can do in my closet!

What are you working on?


Lesson learned: Don't play on the train tracks.

For the past few months, I have been pinning family photos for a recent family photo shoot with local photographer Kris Allan. We've done the beach pictures before and I wanted to try something different.
I fell in love with these pictures taken on train tracks. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the vintage feel of a railroad or the cool industrial aspects or the rugged patina of the equipment, regardless, I knew I wanted to take some pictures on some train tracks.
And why not? Train tracks are everywhere around here since our area has one of the largest container ports in North America.
I thought I did my homework by checking the train schedule of the local train station we were using on a Sunday afternoon. To the best of my knowledge, the train station was closed on the weekends. However, we later found out that just because the station is closed, it does not mean that the tracks are closed to all through traffic.
My husband, Mr. Safety, even thought that if a train was coming through town, it by law had to slow down to 30-40 mph as it passed. Slow enough that we would have enough time to react and move if a train was coming.
We quickly learned that we were both wrong.
We had a fun photo session on the tracks by the station, blissfully ignorant of any harm that may come our way in the form of a speeding train. The kids ran up and down the tracks, as a family we precariously balanced on the rails and we even set up vintage suitcases as props to sit on.
We finished taking pictures at that particular area and moved on to another location. While I love all things vintage, I also love anything brick and old. We found a brick building near the train tracks that was the perfect backdrop for individual pictures of the kids.
While Aidan was busy getting his picture taken, Owen our eternal curious daredevil found his way past the guardrail and up on the train tracks again. Owen is only 6 and he loves to look at how things work and how things are made. He was peeking around at the bolts in the rails as I tried to watch him and his older brother getting pictures taken and watch for cars on the small alley way road that ran between the tracks and the building.
I had just told Owen that I was thinking he should be getting down from the tracks and was starting to rethink the idea of him being on the tracks even if the trains weren't working on the weekends. Just as he was slowly starting to make his way off the tracks a man with a large dog walked over and approached us. He asked if that was my son and told me that he needed to get off of the tracks. The man told us he worked for the train and was in charge of that stretch of track and told us that as we spoke a train was heading our way.
We looked down the track and saw a headlight about a mile down the very same track that my son had just been balancing on. The railroad crossing arms were just then starting to ding and come down to close that portion of the road off.
He told us that the train was coming at around 70 mph and that just two days earlier there had been a fatality on these very tracks.
In our ignorance, we thought that there would surely be a sign that a train was coming. The tracks would start to shake, the horn would blare, we would hear that little chug chug chugging down the way, but the reality was there was none of that. We heard nothing until the train was blasting past us mere feet away.
We thanked the man and he walked away.
It didn't sink in until later that evening (1:15 am to be exact as I tossed and turned and was unable to sleep or think about anything else) how dangerous the whole situation really was. As a parent, my job is to make good choices for my family. To protect my children and to set a good example for them. I did none of these things all in an attempt to get a good family picture.
I realized later that the man who came wandering down with his dog was nothing short of an angel sent from God as a protection for my family. That the situation on the train tracks could have ended so much differently. That our family could have been changed forever because of my selfish nature.
I'm using this situation as a learning experience. I've apologized to the kids for my poor choices and lack of judgement and I am making sure that through our experience that someone else may become more aware to the dangers of the rails. A picture isn't worth it. Your family is.

While I was gone...

While I was soaking up some sun and having fun in Legoland with my kiddos last week, my husband was spending his time working on a surprise for me. He built me a new built in work space for my sewing area at the back of my closet.

This is what the back of my closet looked like before I left. Don't judge. It's a mess. I love my closet, but those flimsy plastic shelves that are in it now just aren't cutting it. I look at the closet as a temporary storage area until I get built ins, and lets be honest, as a sort of dumping ground.

Let me take a second and apologize for the grainy cell phone camera pictures. I had the camera with me on my trip. My husband did this all on his own and even took pictures documenting the process because he was sure I would want to blog about it. What a good guy!

Look how big the back of the closet looks with the sewing cabinet taken out.

My husband took down the plastic shelves, and patched up the huge holes that they leave in the wall.

Then, talk about a major score, Mike found the shelves he used in the trash at work. He adapted a few things to make it fit in the space, but the grand total of the whole project was only $3!

The shelves started out black, and with his magic he made them white. Don't ask me what he did. I don't know.

Mike started hanging the shelves in the closet and building the desk top. This is before the trim is in.

And this is after the trim is in.

He put some touch up paint in the wall, and the whole closet was finished.

It was such a great surprise! I can't wait to move all my sewing goodies back in again and make it look pretty. Stay tuned for that!

It's time to start thinking about Christmas with a giveaway!

Is it just me or do the days seem to be flying by? I can hardly believe that it's time to start thinking about Christmas, but it's going to be here before you know it!

Just this past weekend, we got our pictures taken with one of the most amazing local photographers I know. I can't wait to see how they turn out! I do know for sure that one of them will be the photo we use for our Christmas cards.

I've just spent some time on Shutterfly's website getting excited about ordering the Christmas cards! There are some great ones available. Here are a few that I love!

I can tell it's going to be hard for me to choose! There are so many great choices from Shutterfly available.

I also love these folded greeting cards.

Getting the mail is one of my favorite things to do in the weeks before Christmas, but one of my biggest Christmas card pet peeves is getting a card in the mail that contains only a picture. No handwritten message, no family Christmas letter, just a picture. We call those the "I'm alive" Christmas cards around here, because really, that's all that picture tell you is that yep, they are still kickin'.

I love that the folded cards give you the chance to write your personal message to the recipient because in a facebook and twitter world, sometimes coming back to the simple things like a handwritten note is what it's all about.

One of the other things I like to do to end out my year is to make a photo book. I tried scrapbooking but gave it up when that third child came around. I just didn't have time anymore! Photo books give me a chance to take the most important pictures from the year off my computer and put them all into one easy to access place.

Shutterfly continues to amaze me with it's easy to use downloads and beautiful custom photo books. Just look at this one.

Wouldn't that make a beautiful book to store a year full of family memories in?

To help you jump start your holiday planning Shutterfly is giving 3 of my readers 25 FREE cards! You can use them for your holiday cards, for thank you cards or for your moving or birth announcement.

Here are the details.
You must be a follower of Holy Craft to enter
You can be entered up to three times

1) leave a comment below telling me what your favorite holiday tradition is
2) follow me on facebook
3) go to Shutterfly and tell me which card you would choose if you won

Leave a separate message for each entry. Three winners will be chosen on Saturday, October 29 and announced on Monday, October 31. Good luck!

disclaimer: Shutterfly is providing me with 50 free cards in exchange for this post. Opinions are 100% mine.

Our trip to San Diego and a Legoland California review

Visiting San Diego and Legoland with Kids

Last week, my younger two kids didn't have school for three days because of teacher conferences. I thought that it would be the perfect time to take a little October break trip to southern California.

The main point of the trip was to head to Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, CA. My 6 and 9-year-old LOVE legos. Owen even had a Lego-themed birthday party last year. Legoland is an amusement park with rides, shows, and attractions geared towards younger kids.

Legoland is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday during the week (glad we checked the calendar and weren't disappointed!) so we decided to spend Wednesday at the San Diego Zoo.

I love a good zoo and have had a family membership to our local zoo for over a decade, however, I feel like the San Diego Zoo is totally overpriced and overrated.

This was my second visit to the San Diego zoo and for the second time, I was unimpressed. Don't get me wrong, it's a great zoo. I just don't think it's worth $40 per ticket or even as a destination for your vacation.

Thankfully, kids under 12 are free during the month of October, so it made the fact that we stayed only 3 hours less guilt-inducing. But after 3 hours, the kids had seen everything they wanted and were ready to head to the pool. My advice, save your money and enjoy your local zoo.

After a dip in the pool, we took one for the team and headed to Wendy's for dinner. Currently, Southern California Wendy's is offering a buy one adult admission get a child's admission for free. You just have to buy a medium combo from the menu. This is a savings of $59! Worth the visit.

Legoland's weekday hours are 10-5. To get the most out of the price of admission, we made sure we were at the gate early.

Before even walking through the gates there were several lines (parking lot, admission tickets and turnstile) to wait in. Thankfully, none were too long. Parking is $12 a day and several area hotels offer free shuttles or even a private entrance to the park (Sheraton).

Legoland will have you constantly saying "ooh" and "ah" and "look!" at all of the life-size models throughout the park.

We were constantly amazed at the detail on the sculptures and loved seeing them placed throughout the park.

Legoland is currently hosting Brick-or-Treat, weekends in October. Guests can enjoy special treats, surprises, contests and shows throughout the month.

We weren't able to visit on a Brick or Treat evening, but we were able to enjoy the decorations around the park.

There were several models around the park that were my favorite, so I thought I would share a few with you.

Miniland USA is the most amazing part of the whole park. Miniland USA is in the heart of the park and features seven areas of the United States. The detail and amount of time that has gone into Miniland is amazing! It's truly a part of the park that will inspire you.

One of our favorite attractions at the park was the Adventurer's Club. It's a walkthrough journey through several parts of the world on a quest to find seven hidden keys.

The models inside this attraction were unbelievable!

It felt like one of the parks best-kept secrets as it was rarely crowded and its location is sort of tucked away in Fun Town.

Going to any amusement park during the offseason is definitely way better than doing during peak season. There are far fewer lines and less waiting.

However, on the attractions that did require waiting (most lines weren't more than a half an hour long), Legoland seemed to have come up with the best solution. They provide a play area on several of their rides that allow the kids to play while their parents wait in line.

My Legoland tips:

*Go in the offseason but be aware of their limited days and hours

*The park is perfect for Lego lovers aged 4-10. I didn't bring my 13 year old with us for this very reason. The attractions are perfect for the younger age range, not quite so exciting for the older kids.

*If you are also planning a trip to Disneyland while you are in the area, go to Legoland first. I heard several older kids comparing the attractions of Disneyland to Legoland and being less impressed.

*Bring a refillable water bottle. Our visit fell during a heat wave and the upper 90 degree temperatures were quite hot for our Pacific North westerners who were not used to the heat. Every restaurant in the park allowed me to fill my Camelback bottle up with water and ice for free.

*Two days is the perfect length of time for a visit. The second day is offered at a discount.

*Look for discounts on tickets, they are out there

We had a wonderful visit to Legoland. The park was clean, the staff was friendly and the rides were tame but filled with adventure for those younger thrill seekers. Thanks for the great visit Legoland!

disclaimer: I was given 2 tickets to the park in exchange for my park review. All opinions are 100% mine.
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