Personalized Holiday Gift Using Handwriting with the Cricut Joy

There is something distinctive about handwriting. Handwriting is very personal and in a world where everything is typed and texted, those personal connections are becoming a lost art. Finding something written by someone close to you who has since passed, can immediately tug at your heart.  You can identify the loops of the letters or the scrawled cursive to the one who created it. Creating a personalized gift with someone's handwriting creates the ultimate gift to give this holiday season. I'm going to show you how you can take a handwritten note, a recipe, or a signature and create a keepsake gift using the Cricut Joy

personalized gifts using handwriting


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10 Mom-Approved Tips for Wisdom Teeth Removal

Getting wisdom teeth removed seems to be a rite of passage for teenagers. Most have already had extensive dental work and orthodontics, and keeping that straight smile and maintaining good oral health by removing those pesky wisdom teeth is usually the next step. Here are some tips for those supporting their teens or young adult children as they undergo this very common oral surgery.

wisdom tooth survival tips


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Everything You Need to Know Before you Visit Whidbey Island, WA

Pandemic or no, I set a distinct goal for myself a few years ago to explore my backyard just a little bit more. We've stayed closer to home the past few months and it's been helping me check a few of those areas I wanted to get out to explore, like the Tri-Cities, Camano Island, Vashon Island and Hood Canal. This midwest transplant spent nearly two decades living on this coast and I really didn't feel like I'd seen much. While we don't get as much changing leaves in the fall {hello evergreen state!}, the best time to enjoy the ones we do have are in late October or early November and they provide the perfect backdrop for exploring our area. This time, we navigated north, to Whidbey Island. I've got everything you need to know so you can plan your one-tank trip from the Seattle area too.

visiting whidbey island washington


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DIY Christmas Holiday Letterboard Sign

I love a good DIY. I craft and create all year long, but especially around each holiday and even more so at Christmas. I'm sharing this DIY Christmas Letterboard sign now so you'll have plenty of time to whip one up for your holiday decorating or gifting. Letterboards are such a fun way to decorate with words {and I obviously love words!}. You can change the phrases and sayings often or leave it with the same phrase all holiday long. Get the full DIY Christmas Letterboard tutorial! Read on!

diy letterboard tutorial


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Mickey Mouse Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Travel is weird right now. I know many people who had family vacation plans that had to cancel due to the current pandemic, myself included. I've been impressed at how people are finding creative ways to still make the most of the situation. Maybe you didn't have plans of visiting Disney this year, but you are missing the magic and want to bring that home. I've got a fun Mickey Mouse chocolate dipped pretzel rod you can create and weave into whatever magical plans you want from the comfort of your home.

disney mickey mouse pretzel rods


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How to Host a Wine Tasting Party at Home

Disclaimer: This blog post is brought to you by Elicit.Wine. All opinions are 100% my own. 

I think we can all agree on one thing. 2020 has been a dumpster fire. Sure it's brought some fun things to celebrate, but man, if it hasn't showered down some interesting little roadblocks we've all just been shaking our heads at. I have appreciated relationships that have been constant through this weird time and more often than not, we've been able to sit down together with a glass of wine to just laugh at the weirdness of life we've all encountered. I mean, come on. Who knew that collectively we'd be homeschooling our children, or wondering which mask will match our joggers when we make that grocery run, or what we are even doing with our life on day 5986 of quarantine. 

We are all survivors of this and hopefully, you've had a few people along for the ride to help you through long Zoom meetings and middle school math. In all honesty, it deserves a little celebrating and the best way I can think to do that is with a wine tasting party. I've got everything you need to know so you can host a comfortable fun evening of wine tasting with those friends who have helped you through!

wine tasting party



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Fall Getaway in the Pacific Northwest

When my son's school district announced remote learning, I started doing some thinking into how we could take advantage of the unique school year. Could we do remote learning remotely? Of course, we could! Resorts, hotels, and rental homes are all coming together to help encourage parents during this unprecedented time with the option of working and learning remotely. I've always been a huge advocate of education and I fully support that learning doesn't have to always happen in the classroom. We spent three school days exploring Alderbrook Resort and Spa in Union, Washington and I am going to say, it was the perfect fall getaway in the Pacific Northwest. 

remote learning from alderbrook resort


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5 Design Tips for the Perfect Teen Bedroom

If you are new here, let me share a little background on this DIY teen boys room remodel. When we moved into our current home in 2010, there was one kid's room that was MUCH larger than the rest. With a three-year age gap between each of our kids, we made the decision that each of them could have a turn to have the "big room" starting with the oldest. Each of the kids has made the room their own in various ways, and often, they plan for months as they anticipate their older sibling moving out. This year was interesting as our daughter wavered between going away to school {all her classes at her out of state university were online} and staying home to stay safe. 

Our youngest had been planning for no less than six months {with scaled drawings I might add!} to take over the room and his plans were put on hold. With our daughter out of the house for several months, we decided it was time for the youngest to make the transition to the "big room".  So what started as a rock 'n roll den with our oldest, transitioned to a gray glam girls room and has now moved to a modern teen boys room with a geometric feature wall. In case you missed the first step, you can check out the DIY geometric feature wall in this post

All that said, I am kind of an expert when it comes to walking alongside as teens design their perfect bedroom. So I'm sharing design tips for your teen today. I'm also sharing the secret I learned for getting your teen to make their bed daily! You aren't going to want to miss it!


DIY geometric feature wall


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DIY Geometric Feature Wall on Textured Walls

When we moved into our current home ten years ago, there was one kid's room that was quite a bit bigger than the rest. Since our kids are far enough apart in grade and age that they just kind of trickle out, we decided to let each kid have a turn in that room, starting with the oldest. It's seen a little bit of rock n' roll for our musical oldest and then transitioned to a grey and glam bedroom for our daughter and for the past year, our youngest son has anticipated his sister moving out and has been formulating a plan for the day the room would be his! I mentioned one day that I think it would be cool to put in a geometric feature wall and he agreed! So I'm sharing how we changed a very girly glam room into a masculine teen boy room with some boards on the wall!

diy geometric feature wall


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Top Things to do in Boise, Idaho With Teens

I visited Boise, Idaho for the first time a few years ago on a college visit with my daughter. My teens seem to be on the cusp of all things cool and move to the best cities just as they are exploding {see also when my oldest son moved to Waco as the Fixer Upper rage swept the nation!}. That son has since relocated to Boise, Idaho and now 3/4 of my favorite young people live in this {not so} hidden gem. Boise, Idaho is the fastest growing city in the US and it's been ranked as the best city to live for Millenials, which means, your teens will love visiting Boise just as much as you do. I'm sharing my top things to do in Boise, Idaho with teens. And of course, you can always leave those kids at home and enjoy the city on your own too!

visit boise on family vacation


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The Best Homemade Mashed Potatoes

This is the best mashed potato recipe ever. The only one you will need! They are always creamy and delicious and full of flavor and act as the perfect base if you want to get fancy with some additions. 

fall side dish recipes
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Everything You Need to Know Before Vising the Tri-Cities

I'll be the first to admit that I haven't done the best job of exploring the state I've called home for the past 20 years. I've been intentional about getting out to explore Washington state and I must say, I've not been disappointed. Recently, we packed up for the weekend to explore the Tri-Cities {Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland} and found a great mix of small-town feeling fun in a growing mid-sized city. You'll be surprised what you can find in the Tri-Cities!

visit tri cities washington in a weekend


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How to Teach Teens to Budget

Budgeting can be stressful, especially when you’re on a tight budget. However, it’s an important skill that everyone needs to know how to do. This includes your teenagers as well! It won’t be long before your teenagers leave the nest and are out on their own, so use their time at home to teach them good money habits! Here is how to teach teens how to budget.

teens and money how to teach budgeting


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Meal Planning Mistakes That are Costing You Money


Meal planning is hard work. There are so many different things that go into meal planning, and it can take hours of your time to do. However, if you are making these meal planning mistakes, you could be losing money to plan your meals! Here are the top meal planning mistakes that are costing you money. 

meal prep


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Cheesecake Factory Copycat Chicken Chipotle Pasta Recipe

This chipotle chicken pasta packs a little spicy kick and mixes the most delicious flavors together in a creamy sauce. It's a simple pasta recipe that is a pretty good Cheesecake Factory Copycat. This recipe will become a family favorite for those weeknight meals.


knock off recipe pasta dish

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The Easiest Homemade Stuffing Recipe

This easy stuffing recipe will compliment nearly any meal, but especially the biggest meal of the fall season! If you've never made homemade stuffing, don't be intimidated. This recipe is just about as easy as they come!

thanksgiving and fall recipes

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Keto Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

What is it about fall that makes you want to get in the kitchen and whip up something yummy? And by something yummy, I mean, something pumpkin-flavored! I used to think I didn't like anything pumpkin flavored, I have no idea why. I think the gross looking pumpkin puree didn't help, but once I got over that, I became obsessed. Not obsessed enough to think I need a pumpkin spice latte, but I digress. I think you are going to LOVE these delicious fall cookies. They have just the right hint of pumpkin, with a delicious cream cheese frosting with a sprinkle of pecans. 

keto dessert pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting

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A Grocery Stockpiling Guide: How and When to Save

Creating a grocery stockpile in your home is a great way to help you save the most on your grocery purchases. Making your own at home stockpile will ensure you’re always paying the rock bottom price and that you have plenty of food on hand in case of an emergency or unexpected event that keeps you from the store. Here is a grocery stockpiling guide to help teach you how and when to save. 

pantry stock pile


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6 Ways to Get Teens off Screen Time

With everything from drivers ed to classtime going virtual, screen time isn't anything we can avoid. If studies show that teens were spending an average of seven hours per day on screens {not counting homework}, imagine what it must be like now that everything has gone virtual. I'm actually noticing screen fatigue from my sophomore in high school, who is on a screen daily from 9-2:30 for school and again from 6-8:30 for drivers ed. It's a lot. So how can we encourage our teens to seek other activities that are off of a screen? I've got a few ideas up my sleeve that might help.

WAYS TO GET TEENS OFF SCREENS


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Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is a form of interval training that involves short intervals of maximum intensity cardio interspersed with longer intervals of low to moderate-intensity cardio. What makes high-intensity interval training different than regular interval training is that the maximum-intensity intervals are based on maximum effort, not a specific heart rate. Any type of cardio exercise can be used for a HIIT workout including running, swimming, walking, jumping rope or the use of equipment such as a treadmill, elliptical or stair-stepper. Want to know some of the benefits of high-intensity interval training? Read on!

workouts for women
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10 Best Beach Locations to Travel to if You Live on the West Coast

**This post was written before COVID-19. I've pushed back the scheduling of it for months. Be aware that different states have different travel requirements in place right now. 

Growing up in the Midwest, I didn't realize how good I had it. It was an easy flight to most Caribbean beaches. Living on the west coast for the past few decades, I've realized how much more difficult it is to get to the Caribbean to enjoy the beautiful pristine white sand beaches and turquoise water. That doesn't mean we have to trade-in our hopes of having a beach vacation. Live on the west coast? Read on for the perfect beach escape!

beach vacations
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Does a Bulk Store Really Save you Money?

Buying bulk is usually going to be less expensive if you break the price down per unit. But, if you’re not able to finish everything you buy and end up throwing half of it away, you could spend a lot more than you would have by buying the standard size. There are a ton of things to keep in mind when shopping at a bulk store, so in this post, I’m going to share my thoughts on whether or not a bulk store can save you money.

costco or sams club bulk warehouse store

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My Go-To Tips for Supporting Small Business Without Going Broke

During this pandemic, it’s not the big box stores that have seen the biggest hits in their sales; it’s the small business owners. If you know a small business owner or know of a small business that you’d like to support, these tips are so helpful! There are cheap and even free ways you can support small businesses without going broke! And our small business favorites need all the help they can get right now as life is starting to go back to normal. 


small business tips on how to support owners

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Teaching Teens the Value of Money

At some point, it became taboo for people to talk about their finances, even with their own children. This has resulted in teens and young adults who don’t know the value of money and really have no idea how to manage their finances. But, there are a few things you can do to help them understand the value of money. Read on to find out more!

Teaching teens the value of money

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Making the Most of Grocery Store Trips

Things could change at a moment’s notice, and every trip to the grocery store counts right now. While you still want to be mindful of your budget during these shopping trips, you never know when you might find yourself wishing you had bought another toilet paper package. Fewer trips to the grocery store also mean less of an opportunity to impulse buy. To help you make the most of your grocery trips, here are my best tips to make those trips to the grocery store count!

 
making the most of grocery store trips

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15 Unbelievable Places You Should Add to your Future Travel Bucket List {After COVID}

Paris, Amsterdam, and London are incredible destinations, with their unique culture, picturesque streets, and iconic landmarks. But that’s where everyone’s going once we’re able to travel again, right? So if you want to avoid overcrowded parks and long lines of tourists, then make sure to add these incredible places to your post-corona travel bucket. 

mt. rainier national park with wildflowers

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The Very Best Easy Apple Crisp Recipe

Nothing says fall like apples. They are in abundant supply. Heck, maybe you have a yearly tradition to go apple picking {don't miss these Western Washington orchards!}. This is the very best easy apple crisp recipe you can whip up in no time! Everyone will love it and you'll feel like a real hero with this homemade delight!

homemade apple recipes for fall


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Secret Must Haves for a Frugal Home

Frugal living sounds so easy in concept, but actually doing it can be a bit tricky. If you’re trying to save money or build better money habits, you may have considered giving frugal living a try. One of the best ways to ensure that you stay frugal while you’re out AND while you’re at home is to have a few secret weapons at your disposal. The five secret must-haves are going to make a massive difference in your ability to save money and your frugal experience.

frugal living at home
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Malted Mocha Dalgona Coffee

I never liked coffee until I was well into my 30's, but now I hardly know how I lived without it. I think what I never liked were the plain coffee drinks. I like mine fluffy and fabulous, like this malted mocha Dalgona coffee drink. It's refreshing and delicious and perfect for any time of the day.

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Free Resources for College Students

If you’re a college student there are a ton of amazing things that are offered to you completely free, but, you have to know they exist, which sadly many college students don’t. That’s why I put together this list of amazing free resources for college students. Share it with a student because we all know college kids need whatever money-saving tips they can get!

Free Resources for College Students

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Money Saving Tips While Being Home More Often

There is never a bad time to start saving money! These days, we are spending a lot more time at home, and I’m looking for ways to help us reduce expenses and help save money while we’re at home. If you’re looking for ways to cut back now that you’re spending more time at home, here are some great money-saving tips while you’re at home more often.

saving money and budgeting during a global pandemic

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DIY Face Mask Storage Bag

Our state has mandated face masks in all public spaces. In the beginning, many local businesses would have face masks available if you forgot yours, but in the past few weeks, remembering your face mask is all on you. I often have a stash of them in my car, but as we start to venture out into the world more, I know that having them available, clean and ready, is going to be more of an issue we run into as a family. So I created some fun DIY solutions. Ones you can replicate for your family to help you remember to bring your face mask with you to help protect you and others around you. Read on for some simple DIY face mask storage bag solutions.

spread kindness not germs DIY face mask storage bag

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Easing the Transition for Kid from Middle School to High School

The step from junior high to high school is a big one. While your kids are already used to the idea of heading to different classes and using lockers, they are also going through puberty, and their coursework is about to get a lot more challenging. Making the transition from middle school to high school is a big jump, so preparing your children for success in high school is important! Here are some tips to help ease the transition from middle to high school.

parenting teenagers in high school

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Tips for Making the Most of Online Classes

There is so much uncertainty in the world right now about what fall will look like for those going to school. Whether you have a child entering college, high school, or even elementary school, there is a genuine possibility that some or all of their classes will be online. Online classes can be a great way to help make sure your child still gets the education they need when they can’t be in the classroom, and it might not be a choice. Here are some tips for making the most of online classes.

survive on line school classes in high school and college

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Everything you Need to Know about Packing a COVID Quarantine Bag for your College Student

It feels like yesterday that I was packing and repacking my hospital bag for the birth of my daughter, but right now in our house, all we are doing is thinking about packing her bags for her college dorm room. Sending our child off to a college campus during the time of a global pandemic isn't an easy decision, but it's one we are cautiously moving ahead with in the next few weeks. One of the campuses bullet points for reintegration for their residential students is that there will be designated rooms set aside for self-quarantine and isolation. In these uncertain times, it's not a bad idea to have a plan because if your child, living on a college campus, hundreds {or thousdands} of miles away from home has to quickly leave their dorm room for a quarantine location, having a bag that can be easily grabbed by a roommate or friend sitting on the bottom of their closet will be far easier than someone trying to figure out what to pack for them. Here are a few suggestions for some items your college resident can use to pack in a COVID quarantine bag just in case they test positive.

what to have on hand if you test positive for covid-19

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4 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Confidence

Confidence is an important attribute in shaping social skills and emotional intelligence. Without confidence, your child may struggle with becoming independent or standing up for themselves when they feel peer pressure. Self-confidence helps with the transition into elementary, middle, and even high school. It can give them the boost to ask the girl or boy they’ve had a crush on since Kindergarten to the dance or later in life it can help them go after their dream job. Every achievement, both big and small are stepping stones to self-confidence and you can help them get there. So how do you help your child boost their confidence? I'm sharing four ways you can help encourage this trait today.

family and parenting teens and pre teens

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National Parks That are Open Right Now!

Although the summer travel season is right on your doorstep, the pandemic is making vacationing a little bit more interesting! There are over 60 parks adopting different types of security measurements and gradually reopening, but everything can change at a moment’s notice. {Does that not seem like the trend of 2020???}

For now, these are the national parks where you can take a social distancing hike or get a whiff of fresh air. Make sure to see the latest updates on official sites and follow CDC recommendations


family travel during covid


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10 Reasons to Stay in a VRBO Rental on Your Next Trip

Hotels have gotten expensive over the years, and I’ve found that many times, they are not worth the price! In a hotel, you are usually stuck with a single uncomfortable bed that was easily three digits, if not more, for your stay! If you travel with your family, no one is happy because everyone is on top of each other with no privacy or break from each other. This separation is the key to a happy family vacation with pre-teens and teens if you were wondering. Not only that, in the current state of the world, having space for your family that allows you a change of scenery from your four walls, a home rental from VRBO will also allow you the ability to get away in a safe way. If you are looking for a new way to stay, try giving a VRBO Rental a try on your next trip! It will change the way you travel. Here are ten reasons why you should stay in a VRBO Rental.

air bnb or homeaway rental which to choose for your next vacation


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Watermelon Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

Watermelon strawberry lemonade will be your new favorite go-to summer drink. It's classic lemonade meets fresh and sweet watermelon with a hint of strawberry and it creates the perfect summer refreshment. The recipe is easy and delicious. Adding watermelon is an easy way to provide a new twist on an old favorite. You are going to love this watermelon strawberry lemonade recipe. Give it a try!

summer drink recipes

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Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles

This strawberry lemonade popsicle is delicious and refreshing, making it the perfect summer dessert recipe to cool off with! My garden is bursting with fresh strawberries and I'm always looking for new recipes to make with them. Why not mix two summer favorite flavors and create this delicious dessert or snack? If strawberries aren't in season where you live, you can always use frozen strawberries partially thawed, but man, a good fresh strawberry is perfectly sweet and perfectly delicious and will make the best tasting popsicle around!

homemade popsicles

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5 Ways Parents Can Stay Connected with College-Age Kids


This post is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When you have a handful of small children all tugging at your leg, you don't think the day will ever happen when they leave the nest, but they do. And it's what you are working toward as a parent. Sending your high school graduate off into the world as they spread their wings can be a difficult transition. Your home and family will no longer look or feel the same, and your relationship with your child will evolve and change. Sending care packages with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health products that are familiar to them, or taking the time to enter each other's world through video chat are all great ways to stay connected. 

Transitioning from the day-to-day relationship where you all live in the same home to being miles {sometimes states!} away can be difficult. As parents, we often wonder how we can still stay involved in their lives, and let our kids know they are loved and cared for, without feeling like we are stifling their independence is a delicate dance. Here are 5 tips I have for staying connected with your college-age kids as they leave home.

how to pack the perfect college care package

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DIY Removable Vinyl Wallpaper made with the Cricut Joy


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut for Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have one space in my home that is solely my own. I don't have to share the space with anyone and other people's personal effects rarely creep into it. It's my master bedroom closet. It's been my favorite part of the house since we moved in and it's seen its fair share of transformation through the years. This latest transformation is one of my favorites. It's an idea I've had brewing and am so glad I was able to make it come to fruition. When I got my Cricut Joy earlier this year, I have been calling it my small but mighty crafting tool. This little workhorse was all I needed to create a HUGE transformation in my favorite space. And I did it in a flash!

before and after master bedroom closet with wallpaper

I made my own DIY removable repeat pattern vinyl "wallpaper" with the Cricut Joy and it's something awesome. I mean, flamingos. Come on. Keep reading and see how easy it is to make a complete transformation of your space and quickly and easily personalize just about anything {including your walls!}, with the Cricut Joy.

flamingo repeating pattern wallpaper
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The Best Vodka Cocktail Recipes for Summer

Preparing cocktails for summertime events can be a lot of fun. Be creative and impress friends and family with some new mouth-watering vodka creations. Vodka is one of the most mixable liquor in your bar. It's easy to find a vodka recipe for every drinker or for every occasion. Finding that perfect refreshing drink for your next summer get-together is easy. Here are a few of the best vodka cocktails out there!

vodka drink recipes

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How to Make Family Travel Fun for Teens

Traveling with a teenager can feel like nothing but earbuds and eye rolls. Your child’s teenage years can be some of the most difficult, and it can be even more difficult if they want to do anything besides spend time as a family. But I think that if you can get your teens away from some of those things that distract them {friends, phones, and social media}, then you can set yourself up for some really great family memories through shared experiences. If you are looking for ways to make family travel more fun for teenagers, here are some of my best tips.

traveling with teenagers

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Keto No Bake Gluten Free Cheesecake

The title alone makes this dessert seem like no fun {I mean, come on...keto, no-bake and gluten-free???}, but you've got to taste this! We all know someone who has dietary restrictions, so why not give this cheesecake a try and see for yourself. It's a refreshing taste we all know and love that you can almost feel not guilty indulging in. Read more to find this delicious keto cheesecake recipe that you'll love adding to your dessert recipe stash.

single serving individual dessert cheesecake recipe

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Top Vacation Spots with Teens

If you are looking for a great vacation to take as a family, choosing the destination can sometimes be the hardest part. If you are traveling with a teen, and you want to ensure that they also have a good time, then you may want to consider some of these vacation spots! Here are the top vacation spots to go with teens.


travel family vacation

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Why You Need an Emergency Fund

Being prepared financially is just as important as any other prep work that you will do for yourself and your family. If you were running a marathon, you would spend weeks training to ensure that you don’t hurt your muscles when the big day comes. An emergency fund is the training but for your budget and your finances! This little stash of money will be there whenever disaster strikes! If you have unexpected hospital bills, a last-minute flight for a funeral, or even a sudden car repair, you’ll be covered! Here is why you need an emergency fund and why it’s worth having.

 
money saving and budgeting tips

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Best Summertime Cocktail Recipes

Learn which cocktails and beers are the most refreshing when wading through those warm weather days. Warm weather brings rising thirst, and what better way to quench that craving than with a refreshing cocktail or beer. Once you master a few of these popular summertime cocktail recipes, you'll feel more confident to create a signature drink or two of your own. So read more and become a master of the summertime cocktail!
Moscow Mule drink recipe
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