10 Things I'm Buying on Amazon for Fall

It's time to get cozy and hunker down. Fall is here and while it may be unseasonably warm or cold where you live {I'm hearing rumblings of both!}, these are the things I'm wanting to buy on Amazon this fall so I'm ready for it. What's on your list?

Pendleton point blanket


6 Simple Ways to Add Fixer Upper Style to Your Home This Fall

Adding seasonal décor to your home is a great way to update the look of each room without completely redecorating. And the fall is the perfect excuse to add a little bit of Fixer Upper style to your house! From natural touches to rustic finds, adding farmhouse style to your home is so easy. Here are six simple ways to add Fixer Upper style to your home this fall.

waco magnolia market


I Was Wrong About Parenting Teenagers

We had only just met, but the first thing this mom of young girls said to me when she found out I had a 17-year-old daughter was "how bad is it?" It took me a second to figure out what she was talking about because it's been about a decade since I expressed my concern over raising teenagers with any of my friends. Once the lightbulb turned on and I realized what she was talking about, I went back to the mantra I repeat often with parents of young children and I said: "I was wrong about parenting teenagers." It's something I wish someone had told me when my three kids were younger, so now I feel like I mention this sentiment on repeat even when people don't ask for my opinion. 

teenage girl in mountains

I never was one to have a favorite stage of childhood. I grab infants from their parents at church, I make faces at the toddler in the grocery cart, I talk about books with the elementary-aged kid I see at the library. But if I'm honest, the people I like the most are teenagers. When I went to Ecuador with World Vision recently to watch the launch of their new Chosen campaign, I got on the ground with babies and zoomed cars around with toddlers. I taught school-aged kids how to play Jenga {they'd been playing it all wrong! What would they have ever done without me?} but it was the group of teenage volunteers that had me the most excited.

Essential Packing List for Beaches Turks and Caicos and Other All-Inclusive Resorts

I'm excited to be heading to Beaches Turks and Caicos resort in a few days for a blog conference called Social Media on the Sand. With the experience from last year under our belt and handfuls of trips to other all-inclusive resorts {our favorite!}, I created an essential packing list for Beaches Turks and Caicos. You're going to want to take note if you are heading to Beaches or any other all-inclusive resort destination. You can thank me later!

grace bay turks and caicos


5 Popular Disney Money Saving Tips that Can Backfire

Taking a trip to Disney can quickly become a costly endeavor. While it can be expensive, there are also so many ways to maximize your Disney dollar and help you save money on your trip! However, there are a few money-saving tips that can quickly backfire and end up costing you more money! Here are five popular Disney money-saving tips that can backfire.

money saving tips for disney


Why Giving Kids Choices Matters

"You can choose this one or this one," I explained to my nearly three-year-old daughter, pointing to the two carefully selected {and matching} outfits I picked for her.  "I want these ones," she said, ignoring the two choices I had given her and pulling out her own option from several different drawers in her dresser as if she'd already planned the outfit out the night before. Many of our mornings ended in a power struggle over what my daughter was going to wear that day. On this particular fall day, she selected for herself a turquoise two-piece bathing suit, a navy blue pea coat, and a purple hat.  Welp, guess it's good we don't actually have to get out of the house today I thought, giving in once again. 

I didn't always give in but I knew how important it was to empower kids and let them have a choice. I wanted my kids to be able to make choices in the safety of our home. But what if kids were raised without having a choice? What if their life circumstances had taken away even their most basic choices? How could a child be preparing to make choices for their future if they weren't able to make decisions in the present?

Last week I was given the opportunity to travel with World Vision to Ecuador, where I got to see how one of the largest NGO's working in the world is empowering children and giving kids in extreme poverty the power of choice through a new initiative called Chosen.

girl selecting world vision child sponsor


How to Support Your Teens as They Discover Their Passion

This post has been sponsored by NERDS® Brand. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Everyone feels passionate about something, but sometimes by the time a teen finds their true passion, it seems like it may feel too late. Taking the time to help your teen discover what they really love at an early age can help them decide what to pursue as a career and can help give them invaluable experience that they may not be able to get as they get older. The NERDS brand believes that everyone is perfectly imperfect, just like its candies, and wants to encourage people to "nerd out" be embracing and celebrating nerdiness in everyone. "Nerding out" means unleashing that passion, smarts, and creativity to be great at something and love what you do. It's why I love partnering with them!

We've all heard the sentiment "do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your whole life." As a parent, isn't that what we want for our children? I know I want my kids to grow up to be functioning adults who love what they do and feel passion for it, but how can you support your teens as they discover their passion? I've got a few tips on ways as a parent, that you can support your teens as they discover their passion. Read on, because I've even got a great way to earn $10,000 grants that will be awarded to five clubs/organizations so they can celebrate their passion and hobby. Visit www.nerdoutandwin.com to submit your entry and learn more. No purchase necessary!

teenagers and parenting

15 Amazing Popcorn Recipes

Popcorn might sound like a simple snack idea you can make at home. If you are a big popcorn lover, then it won’t take long for the simple popcorn recipes you make at home to go a little stale. Instead, change up your popcorn by creating a fun and exciting new recipe! These popcorn recipes are more than just your average microwave popcorn recipe! These are a fun way to spice up your next movie night at home, or try something new! Many of these can be made in just minutes, and there are even sweet options available too! Here are 15 fantastic popcorn recipes to try.

Oreo Pumpkin Patch Chocolate-Dipped Cookies

It's that time of year when the pumpkin-spiced everything starts coming out. I do love a good themed snack or dessert item, so why not create something "pumpkin" themed everyone will love for fall? These chocolate-dipped Oreo pumpkin patch cookies are easy to make and so fun to share. They will be requested at all your fall parties and gatherings. 

bake sale recipes


Mini Beef and Veggie Personal Pot Pie Recipe

There is getting to be a little crisp in the air, and it's about now that I start to fall back on those comfort foods. Seriously, nothing says fall like a warm homemade pot pie. Why not make these personal mini-sized beef and vegetable pot pies for dinner this week? You can double the recipe and freeze them for dinner on one of those busy weeknights. Read on for the recipe and some quick and easy variations.

thanksgiving table setting

Mini Beef and Veggie Personal Pot Pie Recipe


5 Reasons To Visit Squamish, BC

I must confess, I've driven through Squamish more than a handful of times and have used it as nothing more than a bathroom stop on our way up to Whistler to ski. I had no idea that it had such an amazing amount of outdoor activities to participate in, local gourmet food to enjoy and some of the most beautiful rugged landscape I've ever seen. I set out to explore on a mother/son trip with my 14-year-old son Owen and I must say, we had no idea this little bathroom stop had so much adventure in store for us! Squamish, BC is a hidden gem that gets overshadowed by Whistler, but there is no shortage of sparkle from this quaint former logging town. Here are my top 5 reasons why you should make time to explore Squamish, BC.


The Ultimate Travel Guide to Squamish, British Columbia

You know those towns you drive through on the way to another destination and promise yourself you'll be back to visit one day? Well, that was Squamish, British Columbia. I honestly didn't even know the name, just knew that it was home to the Britannia Mine Museum, a large National Historic site that you can't miss as you drive through town. I had the opportunity to explore Squamish, BC on a quick 48 hour trip with my teenage son. We had so much fun, that the other people in our family got jealous and are begging us to plan a trip they can join us on. I'm sure after reading this, you're going to want to start planning too. So here you go, the ultimate travel guide to Squamish, BC. 

squamish country club

Honey Coconut Oat Homemade Granola Bars

Have you ever made homemade granola bars? They aren't as hard as you might think. Granola bars are a staple in our kids lunches and when we are on the go {which, to be honest, is most of the time!}. When you make homemade granola bars, you know exactly what is in them. Most of the commercial granola bars we buy at the grocery store are loaded with sugar. You control everything inside and as you get more comfortable with the recipe, you can add or subtract ingredients so you can make it your own. I've got my basic honey coconut oat granola bar recipe you can try today. They take as little as 10 minutes to prep and 25 minutes to bake. You'll have a healthy snack ready in no time!

homemade healthy granola bars from scratch


8 Popular Cleaning Hacks that Don’t Really Work

We all want to make cleaning a little less painful. That’s why we’re always looking for short cuts and simple tips to make the task a little easier. And while there are a variety of amazing cleaning hacks that actually do the job they’re supposed to do, there are also tons of hacks that don’t work at all. That’s why I’m here to help separate the facts from fiction! Here are eight popular cleaning hacks that don’t actually work.

clean home


Everything You Need to Know about Visiting the Gum Wall in Seattle

The Seattle gum wall is equal parts disgusting and awesome. Anytime I visit Pike Place Market {the gum wall is located in an alley just below} I walk through. Part of me feels like I step into a Harry Potter novel when I walk down Post Alley, another part is intrigued at the people watching. I think it's worth the stop when you are in the city for a visit, so I compiled this list of everything you need to know about visiting the gum wall in Seattle. 


Not-To-Miss Orchards in Western Washington

Not-to-Miss Orchards in Western Washington 

While there are many WONDERFUL orchards in western Washington, some of them just can't be missed. What is fall without a trip to the orchard? These are three to consider. 

orchard apples

The Hidden Costs of Disney that You Need to Know Before You Go!

Planning for a trip to Disney can be kind of tricky. While they give you a ton of opportunities to prepay for your food, hotel, and even park tickets, there are still some unexpected costs that you may not be ready for. Here are the hidden costs of Disney World or Disney Land that you need to know about.

disney castle with ear

Take a Hike! 5 Safety Tips for the Beginning Hiker

My teen daughter has a bucket list of hikes in our area that she wants to complete. We live in the perfect place for hiking. The pacific northwest is filled with amazing hikes all around. I'm told, however, that she doesn't enjoy hiking with her family. Which puts us in a strange predicament because while she is nearly legal to vote, I'm concerned that she doesn't have all the skills she needs as a novice hiker to keep her safe. I realized many people are probably in the same situation. The PNW gets inundated with visitors to our area every spring, summer and fall and people take up hiking our trails. So I created this list of safety tips for the beginning hiker so you can be as prepared as you can be for your next hike.

beginner hikes for the family around seattle
image credit Stephen Matera

S'mores Cookies

Slightly crispy, with some gooey marshmallows and the perfect amount of chocolate make the prefect s' mores cookie without the campfire. This is everyone's favorite summer flavor, so why not try it every which way! I've got you covered from this delicious s' mores cookie recipe to a collection of my favorite s' mores recipes. Read on!

cookie recipes


How to Make a Dorm Room Feel Like Home

Heading off to college can be such an exciting time for your teen. But while the idea of living on their own is something your teen is probably looking forward to, I’m sure it’s also pretty overwhelming. Since you can’t be there to comfort them every time they’re lonely, why not help them bring some comforts of home along with them? Follow these simple steps to make their dorm room feel a little more like home.

college life


Visit Paradise Mt. Rainier: A Locals Guide to Get the Most out of a Day Trip

I have lived in the shadow of Mt. Rainier for nearly 20 years. I try to make a point of visiting at least once a year because it's such a beautiful National Park literally in my backyard. Many people make it a point to visit Mt. Rainier in the summer, but they aren't quite sure how to make the most of the park. I've got some tips on how you can visit the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier and get a real taste of the beautiful National Park.

How to Talk to Your Child about Tragic Events

As parents, we can often struggle with what we should say and share with our children when tragic events occur. Our children watch and observe us. It’s through our actions that we teach our children how to live. When a tragedy occurs, we can teach our children to understand and cope with the events that happen around them. Unfortunately, tragic events are happening all too often and we need to find a way to have a dialogue with our kids. I hope this gives you a few resources you can use to open those hard conversations. 


How to Save Money And Travel the World

How to Save Money & Travel the World

Do you want to travel the world? Perhaps you do, but your wallet is like “Woah, hang on.” It is possible to save money and travel the world. You just need to know how to do it. Don’t get discouraged about how expensive it can be to travel. Let’s face it, saving money takes discipline, keep this in mind as you learn how to save money and eventually travel the world.

save money on travel


S'mores Ice Cream Sandwiches

S'mores are everyone's favorite! I know they are mine! I love easy to make treats that can be semi-homemade if I don't have as much time, or made from scratch if I do! This S' mores Ice Cream Sandwich is the perfect treat. The combination of chocolate, graham cracker, and toasted marshmallow will have everyone swooning. Use pre-made cookie dough, or make your own! Either way, no campfire needed! Enjoy this easy to make S' mores ice cream sandwich recipe.

smores ice cream sandwich recipe

The Best Bruschetta Recipe

Bruschetta is hands down one of the best ways to enjoy the bounties of your garden this summer. It's a classic Italian appetizer that is bursting with flavor. It's really easy to make ahead, in fact, it's encouraged because the flavors have time to marinate together. Then, you can serve it up on a toasted baguette. Fresh homemade bruschetta is really the flavor of the summer! Give this recipe with tomato and basil a try today. It's the best out there!

appetizer recipe with tomato and basil

appetizer recipe


5 Reasons Why Guinea Pigs Make a Great First Pet

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kaytee, but all opinions are my own. I wouldn't telly ou about something I didn't love. Promise.

Getting a pet seems like a rite of passage for most kids, but sometimes a family doesn't want the responsibility of a cat or dog. Why not consider a guinea pig? Several years ago, my pre-teen son wanted a pet of his own and he did a lot of research on what would be best. He kept going back to guinea pigs and after having Norman and Cooper in our home for more than two years now, I'd have to agree that guinea pigs make a great first pet. Here are five reasons why your family should consider getting a guinea pig as a pet.

Frozen Dog Bones Recipe

frozen dog bones

Everyone loves a frozen treat when the weather starts to warm up. Everyone. Including your dog. Imagine wearing a fur coat all summer long! So why not treat your furry friends to a nice healthy frozen treat when the sun starts to beat down. These frozen dog bones are made with everything your puppy loves. The ingredients are safe for your pooch and they are so easy to make! They will leave you and your pooch feeling pretty darn cool.

dog bones to make from scratch


Homemade Dill Ranch Salad with Bib Lettuce, Grapefruit and Avocado

I'm currently obsessed with salads. I love this salad in particular because it's got this fresh citrus taste with a surprising twist. It's easy to make but looks amazing when it's prepared. You can even make ahead the dill dressing and keep it in your fridge all summer long! It's a great balance of flavors making it the perfect summer dish!

fresh salad ingredients

summer salad recipe


One Night in Seattle? Here is What You Should Do! The One Evening Itinerary for Seattle

I love where I live during the summer. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel, but during the summer, I like to stay close to home and take in the mild summer temperatures, the beautiful water on the Puget Sound and the mountains that surround us. I recently spent the evening in Seattle with my family on a beautiful July evening and was reminded of just how many people flock to our area during the summer as tourists. Many tourists are just passing through as they board a local cruise ship to sail up into Canada or Alaska, both beautiful this time of year. It had me thinking if you had just one evening to spend in Seattle, what would be the best use of your time to get a real feel of our city? I've got the perfect itinerary for you if you are limited in your time in Seattle, so buckle up and check out my recommendations!

boy with ferris wheel in downtown area


5 Tips for Choosing the Best Seat when Booking an Airline Ticket

Air travel is changing, and most airlines now offer the option to select your own airline seats. This process can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing but choosing the right seat can make a real difference in how you enjoy the process of travel. This won't guarantee that you won't have a toddler kicking your seat or a baby crying next to you, but it can help you be just a little more comfortable in the process!
travel tips

How to Rescue Clearance Plants

How to Rescue Clearance Plants

Now that planting is ending for the season many plants are going on clearance at local nurseries, hardware stores, and supermarkets. These clearance plants often look as if they are down for the count with no life left in them. If you have a soft spot for plants this can be difficult to see and you may be interested in saving the plants. The good news is you can rescue many of these clearance plants.

garden store plants


Prepare for a Trip to Disney with Everything from The Dollar Store

A trip to Disney World or Disneyland can get pretty expensive. If you plan ahead for your trip, there are a ton of items that you can buy before you head to the parks! The Dollar Tree might be the last place you’d think to get some of your Disney essentials, but they have a great selection and can help you save a bundle on your trip! Here is how to prepare for your Disney trip at Dollar Tree.

Disney on a budget


Rolo Iced Coffee

I didn't start drinking coffee until I was well into my 30's. I didn't even like the smell. I do now. Obviously, something was wrong with me. Maybe I wasn't sleep deprived enough but after a while, the coffee culture in Seattle wore me down. Most pure coffee lovers will say this Rolo iced coffee isn't real coffee. It's more like a coffee milkshake and to that I say fine, let it be whatever. I like my coffee with a lot of milk and a fair amount of chocolate and there is nothing wrong with that. 

Trust me, living in the Seattle area I get the whole special drips and pours and pure roasts. This is not that. This is a fun iced coffee made with your favorite Rolo candy and it is fabulous. It is a dessert drink and it's delicious. There is nothing stuffy or hipster about it. It's just a fun way to enjoy a nice cup of coffee. I think you will enjoy it. Just don't take yourself so seriously!

brew coffee at home with these nespresso or keurig coffee recipes


What to Pack for a Trip to Italy: The Ultimate Guide for What to Bring on your Italian Holiday

Packing can be an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be! Sometimes it's hard to know what to bring and what not to bring when you travel, especially abroad, but here are some of my tips for what to pack when you travel to Italy. It's the ultimate guide of what you should pack and what you should leave at home because overpacking is for rookies!
The Roman Forum and the Colosseum what to pack

How to Save Money on Coffee at Starbucks

How to Save Money on Coffee at Starbucks

Are you looking to save money on coffee at Starbucks? It’s actually easier to save money at Starbucks than you would think. Anyone that stops at this famous coffee shop knows that the coffee is good, but it can also be pricey. I actually love Starbucks because it's one of my "local" coffee shops since it's a Seattle-based company. Starbucks is well known for its delicious iced coffees, brewed coffees, and frappuccinos. Here is how to save money on coffee at Starbucks.


Four Bean Salad Recipe

It's potluck season! Also, the weather is warming up and no one wants to turn on their stoves. So why not beat the heat with this classic favorite the next time someone asks you to bring a side dish to their barbeque. This four bean salad is everyone's favorite. It's the perfect refreshing side dish that is easy on the wallet and on the waist-line. 


Everything You Need to Know about Shopping at a Food Co-op

When we were shopping at a farmer's market in Italy recently, it struck me that each of the items at the market was listed with the region that the item came from. It hit me that Americans have such a disconnect with their food and where it comes from. I started to become much more aware of how my food is sourced.

I've always been a fan of my local farmer's market, but that's generally a seasonal shopping experience in my area. Just this past weekend, Central Co-op opened up in my neighborhood and I thought I'd give it a look. I've never shopped at a Co-op grocery store before, and maybe you haven't either, so I'm going to try to answer all of your questions about food co-op's, from how to shop at them, if you should join one and the best tips to getting the most out of your shopping experience. 

15 Cool Things to Buy on Amazon for Summer NOW!

I count the official start of summer with the last day of school, so we still have a few days, but many of you are well on your way to enjoy long summer days. With the sun creeping out, and the kids home from school, I've got you covered with some pretty awesome Amazon finds you might not have known you needed but you totally do! Here are 15 cool things to on my summer Amazon wish list. 

watermelon on a beach blanket


Summertime Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes

Summertime Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes

Bring the outside indoors with these incredible summertime essential oil diffuser recipes!  These diffuser blends give you those fresh and light smells of summer anywhere you go. Whether you are diffusing at home, in your car, or even at your office. Enjoy these natural summer essential oil blends.
If you are looking for new scent blends to try for summer, I have a handful that might fit perfectly into what you are wanting. These are some of the best smelling essential oil combinations, in my opinion.

Healthy Homemade Greek Yogurt Fudge Pops

This post is sponsored by FAGE; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

woman enjoying a homemade frozen treat made with FAGE yogurt

It's no secret that I have a little bit of a sweet tooth, especially when it comes to frozen desserts. I can eat frozen treats all year round, but really do enjoy them when the weather starts to warm up. FAGE Total Plain Greek Yogurt gives these healthy homemade Greek yogurt fudge pops a little tart kick, which may just deter your little ones from stealing them from you. As I described it to my nieces who were eyeing them in my freezer, they have a more grown-up taste perfect for the sophisticated adult palette. 

These Greek yogurt fudge pops will feel like a decadent dessert but they aren't a cheat food at all! 

healthy frozen treat recipes


Vacation Proof your Garden

Vacation Proof your garden

When you put work into your garden all spring and summer you want to see it grow and thrive. The fear of how your garden will survive on its own is a big one that stops many gardeners from taking a well-deserved vacation. With a little planning, you can vacation proof your garden and have fun without fear you will come home to devastation.

green plant growing in a garden


How to Get your First Passport

I had a friend recently get robbed. Her home was ransacked and her safe was popped open. They took everything inside including her precious jewelry. As we walked through the house talking about the things the burglar took and the things he left behind, I was probably most relieved for her that her passport was still in her filing cabinet safe and sound. I got my first passport when I was a teenager. It's probably one of my most treasured possessions. For me, I see it as my gateway to the world. If you are finding yourself limited in your travels and think it's time to get your first passport, read on. I've got everything you need to know so you can get your first passport.
how to get your first passport

Low Carb Parmesan Crusted Salmon Sheet Pan Recipe

For years I thought I didn't like fish. I think I had it once as a kid and hated the texture but it was probably some fishy kind of fish that was just not cooked properly. I lived in the Seattle area for darn near a decade before I decided I'd give fish a try again, and boy am I glad I did. We have some of the best salmon in the whole world in our area, fresh caught and local to the pacific northwest. Not only that, salmon is a healthy meal choice packed with high-quality protein, minerals, and vitamins. Salmon also has some pretty great Omega-3's and outside of hearing how great they are for you {homestly, I tune out the rest} I just know it has it, so it's got to be good right? 

Salmon has now become a staple in our weeknight meal rotation. We eat dinner as a family nearly every single night. I cook 99% of the time. We eat out maybe twice a month. Maybe. I'm always looking for quick meal ideas because we are a busy family on the go with teenagers who work and evening sports practices, and to be honest, anything that takes me more than 30 minutes to prep or cook and hard to find ingredients is just not happening.  That's why I love this parmesan crusted salmon recipe. Not only that, it's a good low carb sheet pan recipe and I love a good sheet pan recipe.

easy weeknight meal ideas 30 minute dinner


Stop Ignoring Twitter! How Bloggers and Small Businesses Can Grow a Relevant and Engaged Audience on Twitter

I don't talk a lot about the background of what I do as a blogger, but over the 14 years that I've been blogging, I've grown my blog from a place to share family photos to a small business that helps to provide for our family. What was once a hobby blog, is now an LLC that has been created to help share content to followers all over the world! When I was in college, there was no career out there that involved blogging or social media marketing degrees. The internet barely existed! I've seen blogging evolve and change over time, and we've seen the start of social media in our lifetime. Social media will forever change our world and we've had a front seat to it all! It's crazy!

why should I use twitter

My blog started to evolve and change. Maybe you've been along for the ride since the beginning. If so, thank you! If you are new here, welcome! I really want this to be a place where I can share real people, real projects and real life. The internet and social media are full of enough fake and curated content, I want to be the girlfriend you can trust who will help you along the way.
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