What I Wish I Had Known Before Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

It's kind of a running joke that if you live in the Midwest there is a pipeline that you take to get to Florida. When I lived there, we vacationed in Florida. A lot. Since moving to the west coast, 17 years ago, I haven't been back to the sunshine state but when a blog conference landed me in Orlando, I knew I wanted to go to Universal Studios and visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My kids were beyond jealous that I was going without them, so I tried not to rub it in too much {I only sent minute by minute pics of me in the park throughout the day...I'm sure it could have been worse!}. As an avid reader, Harry Potter holds a special place in  my heart. It's one of the first books I've shared with my kids that didn't have pictures. Knowing that I would like to take them back sometime to experience the books coming to life, I wanted to make a list of the things that I wish I had known before I went. I'm hoping to have the opportunity to go again, but if you only have one shot for a perfect visit, you are going to want to make the most of it. 

harry potter, universal studios, orlando, universal orlando, jk rowling


Refreshing Summer Drink and Dessert Recipes Plus Create Link Inspire Party

Welcome to another week of the create, link, inspire link party. I hope you find inspiration here every week and that you check back often for ideas. I'm always impressed with what gets linked up and I always add a handful of crafts, DIY's and recipes to my to do list.  

This week I'm sharing refreshing summer drink and dessert ideas. There were so many great looking projects, recipes and crafts linked up, but with the warm summer days that we've had in our area, I'm thinking about all things summer. Maybe you are too!

It's time to party!


8 Things Moms Should Know Before Their Child Get Braces

When my oldest son got braces, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't have braces when I was a kid so the whole process was new to me. Now after having three kids in braces and then going through a treatment of Invisalign myself, I feel like an old pro! I'm sharing 8 things that moms should know before their children get braces so that you can feel more prepared. If you had braces yourself, this may be a refresher, and if you didn't, this post will be a huge help for you to be as prepared as you can be.


Homemade Blueberry Muffins

I love most fruit but blueberries are not my favorite. I can't just pop them in like candy like some people can. However, I do love them cooked into a pancake or a muffin. I love them especially when they are warm and the juice just explodes in your mouth! This blueberry muffin recipe is very basic and super simple. It's the perfect recipe for your kids to try their hand at making too. Get those kids baking in the kitchen and giving them the skills they need to help them feel more confident. 
homemade, fresh, local ingredients


Getting Your HVAC Ready for Summer

We are finally bursting through from the wettest rainy season in Seattle history. Many people have been describing this month as Mayuary. Even those die hard rain lovers are feeling like it's been enough already. I feel like this has been a sentiment I've been saying for months. I'm over it.  I'm not from the Pacific Northwest. I moved here 18 years ago, but before that, the first half of my life was spent in Indiana. The heartland. Know what I thought was totally crazy when I moved to the Seattle area? Less than 10% of homes in Seattle have air conditioning. You are more likely to have a boat than to have central air. Crazy right?! 

Our area is definitely the minority, and about this time last year, we jumped into that 10%. We struggled every summer trying to get comfortable enough to sleep at night. We were setting alarms to go downstairs early enough to open all the windows to capture as much cold air as we could before sealing up the house tight, closing curtains and locking everyone inside, for fear that we would release any of the cold morning air that we hoped would keep us cool through the heat of the day. It would be freezing cold in the morning, but by late afternoon on a hot day, the temperature in our home would creep up in the high 80's. There were days when it was cooler outside than it was inside.

Memorial Day Ideas Plus Create Link Inspire Party

Welcome to another week of the create, link, inspire link party. I hope you find inspiration here every week and that you check back often for ideas. I'm always impressed with what gets linked up and I always add a handful of crafts, DIY's and recipes to my to do list.  

This week I'm sharing Memorial Day Ideas. I love celebrating Memorial Day with a BBQ and some time playing outside. I've even got some DIY patriotic crafts you can make with your kids or on your own. If you are camping this coming weekend, I've even got some camping hacks. So don't miss this week's post!


Updating a 90's Model Home Living Room Reveal

You've heard the saying "form over function" haven't you? I don't have a hard time believing that, and didn't really question the phrase until I met my engineer husband. He's a very rational thinker that sees the saying in the opposite way. I remember the year after we purchased our first home, in our Christmas letter, he wrote this:

In March {2001} we took a giant leap and bought our first house.  After months of searching, we finally found a place that we love, and eagerly (i.e. as fast as our legs would carry us) moved from our apartment.  Rachel was elated at the prospect of adding colors to brighten up the rooms, and skillfully argued her case over Mike’s objections, himself having grown up in a house where any wall that wasn’t white was probably just dirty.  They say a man’s home is his castle, and Mike is now the proud ruler over a Toasty Gray kitchen, an English Rose family room, and a Khaki den. 

The mention of Mike's objections is all in jest, but it was the first time my eyes were opened to seeing a home as a very utilitarian space that wasn't necessarily a soft place to land, but was rather a warm box that could shelter you from the elements. It was form follows function and is was a way to look at design that I had never seen before. 

Several months ago, I offered to hold the hand of a friend of mine who doesn't necessarily think she has an eye for design. This family is in the process of launching children and they very much hold the form follows function mentality. Which could also be described as "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Welp, something broke and they were left trying to decide how to fix it.

The much-used fireplace in their home exploded when the oldest boys were home leaving them with a gaping hole blasting cold air at the height of winter. They saw their fireplace as a very functional piece in their home's design and it was no longer functional. The need to replace the fireplace sent this family into complete remodeling mode with a desire to update the room of their home that has become such an important space for this family of five.

The remodel is finally complete and I am excited to share how the vision to brighten the space and most importantly, adding in a new fireplace insert that is safe and functional, has become a reality. 

I can't believe what a difference some of the changes have made. I think it's safe to say that this 90's model home has moved into the modern era while still carrying over the design thought that form follows function. Some see the updates that were made!


DIY Floral Globe

Last week, I shared how I updated my master bedroom closet with some contact paper that I pretended was wallpaper. I took everything out of my closet and as I slowly started to put things back in after the {faux} wallpaper was hung, I realized that I needed some new decor. I had a few things in mind, and while I was walking the aisles of Joann fabrics {I know, I said I broke up with her...but I just can't quit her!} I saw some scrapbook paper that I thought would look amazing in my closet. I just wasn't sure how. And then it came to me! I decided to take an old globe and upcycle it to create a DIY flower globe that would match my new {contact} wallpapered space. 

While I love globes as is, I think this little upcycle was pretty awesome. It cost me less than a dollar and took just a few hours of my time. I'm sharing with you how you can make your own too.

What the Heck are Probiotics and Why Should I Care?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Activia Probiotic Yogurt. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've heard the word uttered through the years but pretty much ignored it. Probiotics...why should I care? And what the heck are they anyway? I'm a healthy active woman doing the best to take care of myself and my family, why do I need one more thing? As a mom, I do my best to juggle all the balls...to keep the kids schedules organized, to make healthy dinners, to get to the gym, to balance my work and my family time. Sometimes the idea of one more thing throws everything off balance. But isn't balance really what we are ultimately seeking?

Several different life events this year have made me feel like I may need more balance. Not only have I faced physical hurdles, I have also been dealing with negative self-talk I've had to overcome.  But I know that I'm strong and I can do hard things. I desire to live my best life and I can't do that with obstacles in my way, so I need to take charge. I need to hit reset and start fresh and that means that I may need to make some small changes for a better life. Instead of ignoring the word, let's dig in and see what the heck probiotics are why I should care about them.


Simple Colorful Party Ideas plus Create Link Inspire Party

Welcome to another week of the create, link, inspire link party. I hope you find inspiration here every week and that you check back often for ideas. I'm always impressed with what gets linked up and I always add a handful of crafts, DIY's and recipes to my to do list.  

This week I'm featuring fun colorful party ideas. Regardless of what kind of party you are throwing, you can take inspiration from these ideas and use them for your next celebration.


Contact Paper Used as Wallpaper DIY

Earlier this week, I showed you how I took contact paper that I bought at the dollar store, and used it as wallpaper to create a fresh new look in my master bedroom closet. I use the back of my master closet as my sewing space and was getting tired of looking at the visual clutter. I wanted a space that would inspire me to create and it just wasn't cutting it. 

Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Market, Heirloom Rose, wallpaper, DIY

On a trip to Magnolia Market late last year, I saw a few rolls of wallpaper that I just loved. Imagine my surprise when I found something similar to this Joanna Gaines Heirloom Rose wallpaper that costs $40 a roll, for only $1 per roll. I just love the dollar store

Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Market, Heirloom Rose, wallpaper, DIY

I ended up using 18 rolls of contact paper, so for more than half of what one roll of the Joanna Gaines wallpaper cost, I was able to get a similar look for a fraction of the price! Plus, using contact paper as wallpaper is such a great short-term solution. It peels off easily and doesn't leave a trace, so if you are renting, this could be such a great solution for you to personalize your space. I'm going to show you how you can use contact paper as wallpaper and share my tips and tricks with you today.

Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Market, Heirloom Rose, wallpaper, DIY


DIY Drink Local Beer Opener

I don't do a whole lot of crafting for the guys in my life, but trust me, even the men can get behind this Silhouette project. It's easy and can use up some of that scrap wood and scrap vinyl that you may have around the house. Even if you have to buy the beer opener, this project will still not cost you more than a few dollars!

fathers day, gifts for guys, beer mount


Contact Paper Used as Wallpaper for a Sewing Closet Reveal

Redoing my master bedroom closet has been something on my to-do list since January. It was kind of an accident though. I happened to find some contact paper at my local Dollar store {you all know how much I love my Dollar Store!}, so I purchased ten rolls of it and it sat on the floor of my closet for months before I did anything with it. I had the idea in my head, I just didn't have the motivation for the execution. Please tell me I'm not the only one! One of my biggest regrets when we put built-in's in my master closet is that we didn't paint the walls before we installed them. I love love love my master bedroom closet and all the built-in drawers but the yellow walls that are in THE WHOLE house were starting to get to me. So, I decided to be a little unconventional. I took those rolls of contact paper and used them to wallpaper the walls of my closet. 

No big reveal would be fun without a little peek at the before. We have lived in our home for over six years and my master closet has had the most transformations over time. When we toured the home, I fell in love with how big and spacious the closet was. Lucky for me, there is another closet that is in our master bedroom, so I don't have to share. All of our bedrooms were being filled up by kids, so I envisioned the back wall of my closet as my craft room/sewing space. 

It's evolved over time. The shelves got filled up with baskets in an attempt at organization, then one long weekend, I took the kids on a trip and I came back to some built-in shelving in the back of the closet. It's been a great space for me to create. I leave my closet door open and on the other side of the door is our master bathroom. I stand by the sink and stare into the visual clutter at the end of my closet to my craft space and I knew it needed some attention. I'm so much happier with the space now and can't wait to show you the big reveal!


The Key to Having a Successful Mother's Day

Lowering Your Expectations to Have a Successful Mothers Day

About seven years ago, I had one of the worst Mother's Day's ever.  We were in counseling with our oldest son and I was starting to come out of the fog of post postpartum depression with our youngest. My husband didn't get me a single gift. Not even a card. He barely acknowledged that it was Mother's Day. I was broken. And then sitting through church service, I wept the whole time as the pastor spoke lovely Mother's Day sentiments while a collection of pictures of mother's with their children scrolled by on the screen.  My picture with my kids...my life...was absent because my husband hadn't submitted one.  It was a rough day that still feels raw when I think about it. But if anything good came from it, it's that I have a whole new take on Mother's Day. It's called lowering your expectations. 

mothers day, when is mothers day, mothers day necklace and mothers day quotes


Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

I was late to the party but now I can't get enough. I had heard about podcasts and was vaguely aware of them, but hadn't listened or downloaded any. I had even recorded audio for a podcast I would be a part of but I had never taken the time to listen to any. I do enjoy listening to talk radio and as a child of the 80's I'm a big fan of background noise when I do anything mundane. I spend a lot of time in my car and the music on the radio stations was starting to get a bit redundant. I was looking for something new, so I put it out there and did what any grown woman does, I asked my friends on Facebook what their favorite podcasts were. I downloaded all of them. I spent time listening to them and weeding out the ones that I didn't really like and downloading more of the ones that I did. Really, it was all in the name of research {you're welcome} so that I could put together a list of the best podcasts you should be listening to.


Backyard Chalkboard Games

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Roundup® For Lawns. All opinions are 100% my own.

Our rainy season is LONG, but when the sun comes out, I think that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I'm not sure if all the rain makes me appreciate the sunny days more, but when that sun is shining, it's hard to keep me inside. I love spending time outside especially in our yard.  Some of my favorite afternoons are spent with the warm sun setting, hanging out in the yard with my kids. Being active is great, but sometimes, games that help us be still and work our brains are exactly what we need. I'm sharing how you can enjoy your yard space with an easy DIY backyard chalkboard and I'm sharing games you can play on it. Kids of all ages will love this!


Free Printable Spring To-Do List PLUS Saving Time and Money on Your Prescriptions

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ScriptSave® WellRx. All opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't share something that I didn't love.
Up until this past year, our family has one prescription that gets filled on a regular basis. My oldest son has food allergies and his auto injector has been a must fill prescription item. We have a high deductible insurance plan and because we are a relatively healthy family, we rarely if ever, meet that deductible. We are responsible for paying the retail price for most medications. It's not uncommon for me to get sticker shock when I get the bill at the pharmacy. I have shared in the past how I save money on prescriptions. Basically, I call each local pharmacy and ask them for the cash price on the prescription. There is an easier way and it's not only saved me a TON of time, it's worth sharing with you, how you can save time too! I've also created a free printable to do list because having a to-do list saves me time too. As a busy mom, I know we can uses all the time-saving tips we can get!


Cinco de Mayo Drinks, Food and Decor Ideas and Create Link Inspire Party

Welcome to another week of the create, link, inspire link party. I hope you find inspiration here every week and that you check back often for ideas. I'm always impressed with what gets linked up and I always add a handful of crafts, DIY's and recipes to my to do list.  

I can hardly believe that it's May and Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner. I have put together a ton of ideas for you so that you can celebrate right! I've got drinks, food and even decor ideas all in one place so that you can plan a fiesta!

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