How to Celebrate Chinese New Year

This post was sponsored by Ling Ling, all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I am a typical American thrown into the melting pot of traditions and culture. Growing up it didn't seem like we had any real cultural traditions we followed as a family, though there are a few now as an adult that I can pinpoint. I just thought we ate saurkraut and sausage on New Year's because it was the only night my dad would tolerate it. I didn't realize that it stemmed from our muddled washed down German roots. When I married into an Italian family that could be easily traced back without too many great great parents getting in the way, it was easier to tie myself to those cultural traditions. Plus I really liked spaghetti and meatballs at every holiday meal {yes Erica, even Easter}

For the past few years, I've been volunteering with a group of international college students once a week. I'm learning a lot about their different cultures as I share our own American culture with them. Many of our students celebrate Chinese New Year and it's actually one of their largest celebrations regardless of where they are from. They are all giving me tips on how to celebrate, so this year, I thought I'd fully embrace it and try celebrating Chinese New Year with my American family. 

A guide to celebrating chinese new year


5 Easy Hummus Appetizers that Will WOW a Crowd

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boar’s Head for IZEA Worldwide. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hummus is the go-to snack that I like to have on hand any time there is even a slight chance I might be entertaining. It's one of the most versatile foods known to man. Hummus can be eaten plain or as a single ingredient in a variety of appetizers. It will even make you seem exotic and worldly when you serve it. Like you have a refined palate. People love a good appetizer and you can wow them with these 5 easy hummus appetizers that will make you look like a professional chef. The most difficult decision you'll have to make is to decide which flavor of hummus to use! My favorite Boar's Head Hummus comes in 13 delicious flavors!

The key to happy house guests is to provide them with a variety of appetizers to snack on. To be honest, I'd rather snack on a bunch of small plates of food rather than a heavy meal. Appetizers are kind of my favorite food group. If you tell me you're hosting an appetizer-only dinner party, I'm all in!

cucumber and black olive with hummus recipe


Don't Miss These 8 Things to Do in Bentonville, Arkansas

disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Crystal Bridges in partnership with Soapbox Influence. As always all opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't tell you about something I didn't love. Promise.

I've got to admit, Northwest Arkansas has not been high on my must travel list. Fine, it hasn't been on the list at all, but after a quick visit this past weekend, every single objection I might have had to visiting has gone out the window. Part of me wants to convince you that you should go for a visit, the other part of me wants me to keep all of this goodness a secret so that people don't flock there in droves. Bentonville is the fastest growing city in Arkansas so I'm pretty sure the secret is out, so I guess there is no reason not to tell you about this cute little town that should be making it to the top of your must travel list.
northwest Arkansas town square
I made the mistake of calling Bentonville a sleepy little town when I shared a serene picture I snapped of the empty downtown streets in my Instagram stories. I was quickly corrected by a local who told me that Bentonville, AK is anything but sleepy. The downtown area that is normally hip and happening just happened to get blanketed in about an inch of snow and ice that was slippery as snot. Signs hung on the windows of storefronts that said "closed due to inclement weather" and boutique shops I popped into were having flash sales because of the snow. It was like I got my own private tour of Bentonville and look forward to returning once the snow melts and the town has woken up. In the meantime, here are 8 things you aren't going to want to miss on your visit to Bentonville, Arkansas.
family at crystal bridges art museum

How to Make a Large Frame Wood Sign for Under $10!

My favorite projects are always upcycled projects. If you've been reading along for any length of time this wouldn't be a surprise to you. It's part me being super cheap and part resourcefulness. I've always had a knack for being able to see something in a different way. Back when I started to DIY and craft Martha Stewart was big on the scene. I remember one time feeling inspired to create something she had shown on her show only to be disappointed that my limited budget couldn't {and didn't want to!} afford the supplies. I tweaked the project idea Martha Stewart had featured and used supplies I had on hand. The project didn't turn out exactly how Martha Steward had shown, but it had a Rachel flare to it that I liked better. 

I'm sure this is my own memory but it's my memory {and my blog, so roll with me}. One of the projects I remember reading about in the Martha Stewart magazine I flipping through at the library pre-thanksgiving the first year after I got married, had a project that required picking berries and then using them to create a dye that you would then use to color the tablecloth that you hand-stitched. I'm not kidding. I was crafty and resourceful but I wasn't crazy! And that's why I try to focus on real projects here.

diy vinyl silhouette art

diy vinyl silhouette art

It's why the final part of my tagline is real projects {real people, real projects, real life!}. I don't want you to feel like you can't make something. I never want you to feel limited based on your abilities or in your access to materials or heck, even intimidated by the process. The crafts and DIY projects I share are one-of-a-kinds, but they should also help you feel inspired to create your own, one-of-a-kind project using similar items, like this large wood frame sign. I see these all the time at thrift stores and garage sales so I know you have too. And if you don't shop second hand we can't be friends you might just have something similar hiding in storage.  Here's how I made a large frame wood sign for under $10 from an ugly castoff.

before and after art upcycle from goodwill outlet

How to Know if Your Teen is Ready to Babysit

Babysitting is like a right of passage for a teenager. It's usually the first job most teens have. It was my first job and one I did throughout all of high school. It gave me great experience with kids and some good spending money on the side. It also gave me a good crash course in responsibility and a few stories I still share! Are you sitting on the fence about letting your child babysit? Are you curious if they’re old enough, mature enough or wondering if it’s even legal? There are many things to consider before allowing your child to care for someone else; for a parent, it’s a tough decision and you want to make the right one. I've got some tips on how to know if your child is ready to babysit.

teenage babysitter


Visiting Camano Island, Washington

This year marks the twentieth year I've spent living in Washington state. I am being much more intentional this year about visiting some of the areas around me because to be totally honest, I just haven't made an effort. We live in one of the most beautiful places in all of the US of A and I need to spend more time exploring it. A few weeks ago our family spent a few days exploring Wenatchee, Washington. We skied Mission Ridge and wandered through the self-proclaimed apple capital of the world soaking in all this small town had to offer. This past weekend we made plans to explore Camano Island, less than a two-hour drive away from my home, just North of Seattle. 
I spent weeks thinking that I would have to take a ferry to Camano Island and literally the day of our planned trip, I realized there was no ferry ride needed. This was both equally confusing {because how does one drive to an island?} and awesome {because sometimes ferry lines are the worst!}. I probably should look at a map of my state more often. Just further evidence that I don't get out much. Happily confused, my husband and I packed up the van with our youngest kiddo {13-year-old Owen} and set forth to explore an island none of us had been to before. Here is what you need to know if you are visiting Camano Island, Washington.
silhouette of father and son on the beach in the PNW

Easy Baking Hacks You Can't Live Without

I remember being a young kid experimenting in the kitchen. Thankfully my mom always encouraged me in the kitchen and I think like with all things, with experience comes expertise. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it and you need a few baking hacks from time to time to get you through. Here are a few of my favorite baking hacks to get you started.


Wenatchee, WA in a Weekend

I'm a Pacific Northwest transplant and even though I've lived on the west coast for twenty years, I'm still discovering some pretty amazing locations. Western Washington is very different than Central or Eastern Washington. Growing up in the midwest, you could go from one end of the state to the other and not notice much of a difference, but Washington has the Cascade Mountain Range and a little thing called the rain shadow, which to be totally honest, I learned about while watching the Magic School Bus with my kids. 

mother and teenage son on a hillside

The biggest difference between Western Washington and Eastern Washington is the climate. 

While Western Washington {including the Seattle area} is much milder and rainy, Eastern Washington has hotter summers and colder winters and to be honest, less rain all around, which makes it a major win in my book! Yeah, for 300 days of sunshine! I have a love/hate relationship with snow and since moving to Washington, I can usually scout out snow on my own terms, which I actually really love. But that usually requires a trip over the mountain pass and this year, it included a weekend in Wenatchee, Washington that our whole family enjoyed. Wenatchee makes a great side trip if you are visiting the greater Seattle area because it will give you a glimpse into how very diverse the state of Washington is. If you live in Western Washington, Wenatchee is worth a visit {especially for the weekend}, and here are my top picks of things to do when you go.

mission ridge ski resort

How to Refresh Your Home After the Holidays

The holidays were filled with warm family gatherings, lots of slow mornings in front of the fireplace and the Christmas tree and baking. Oh, so much baking. But it wasn't long after the last present was opened that I was ready to refresh my home after the holidays. I love the glitter and the twinkle that the Christmas decorations bring, but I also love the calm and simplicity that happens with clean open spaces when the decor is packed up. Once I put away the holiday decorations things feel a little bare for a few days. This year I embraced it and I loved the time I took to reset my home after the holidays. Here are a few things that I did and ways that you can simply refresh your home after the holidays.

natural cleaning and essential oils for your home

Kids These Days Are Inspiring Me to be Better

Thank you Allstate for sponsoring this post. I chose to write this post because doing good in local communities is at Allstate’s core.

Kids these days. Usually, that's a phrase older people say while shaking their head in frustration or disapproval of the younger generation. My generation though, the mamas of those kids, will be saying that phrase a little differently.

Heck, I'm already saying it differently. I'm saying it in awe and in reverence at the amazing things I'm seeing kids these days do. I see kids generously giving of their time to volunteer, kids embracing and accepting people who are different than they are, and kids advocating for social causes. Kids these days are saving the world and caring about the people who are in it. Kids these days are the next generation of leaders and change-makers and I for one don't want to stand in their way.

Kids these days are making me want to be better and it leaves me thinking that the future is bright. So, what is it about kids these days?

kids these days are making me want to do better

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