25 Things We've Learned in 25 Years of Marriage

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. It's funny, because only old people are celebrating their silver anniversary and we are still young kids just learning how to adult. At least that's what it feels like! We married young {I was 19, he was 20} and we immediately started our family {ahem...I was 26 weeks pregnant when we walked down the aisle}. We were the first of our friends to get married and we've seen our fair share of couple friends get divorced. We've had a lot of good years and some bad years in there, but overall, I think at 25 years we have a few things we've learned that we can share to those coming up behind.



Easy Off Refinishing Furniture Stripper

After remodeling our whole downstairs last year, we knew there would be some furniture we would need. If you've ever done a remodel, you'll know that you basically just bleed money for months on end. The idea of paying upwards of $3-5 thousand dollars for a table, had me reconsidering my options. I kept going back to my DIY days and thinking I could make that! Like Goldilocks, I spent last summer hunting for the perfect table that I could refinish in the raw wood finish I was looking for. I bought and sold no less than six tables in about six weeks. I ended up refinishing most of them, and kept two tables. Both of which I took to the raw wood finish look but ended up using two different methods. I already shared how I used Citristrip and bleach to finish the table in our dining room. This time, I'm sharing how I used Easy Off oven cleaner {yep...oven cleaner!} to refinish our kitchen table. A year later and I'm still obsessed with it!

oven cleaner refinishing technique


Best Tips to Know Before Traveling Out of the Country for the First Time

International travel can be a stressful experience, even for a more experienced traveler such as myself. However, for the first time, it is scary and confusing. After a long flight, you’ll find yourself in a foreign country, hoping you remember enough language to ask for the bathroom! But even the most seasoned traveler can be caught off guard when traveling out of the country. Preparing for an international travel experience out of the country can help improve the whole experience and make it smoother. Here are my top tips for traveling abroad for the first time.



10 Packing Tips from a Recovered Overpacker

You guys remember the days when your checked suitcase was free and it could be up to 75 pounds? I used to pack just about darn near everything I could think I might need for a trip. I started traveling more and realized I needed less. Oh, and airlines started charging me to check my suitcase, and I'm cheap, so I learned quickly how to pack light! I'm not going to lie, it's a struggle every time I pack to not over pack, but it makes travel so much easier. I can pack for several weeks in just a carry on suitcase. Here are a few things I've started doing to help me be a reformed {recovered} overpacker.

packing light tips on how to pack from a recovered overpacker


How to Host a Flower Arranging Party On a Budget

I love fresh flowers. It's often a splurge of mine. Several years ago, my husband built me two raised garden beds for growing vegetables, and I do love vegetables, but I love flowers even more! I turned one of them into a flower bed I can use for cuttings and it brings me so much joy! Knowing I had all these flowers growing, I decided to take a flower arranging class to learn how to arrange the flowers. I took two classes, from two different locations and I can't say that I learned any earth-shattering tips to flower arranging, but I did come away with more confidence when I'm creating arrangements. I recently hosted a flower arranging party for my mother-in-laws birthday and thought I'd share a few things so that you can host one yourself too and stay on budget!

flower arranging party on a budget


Everything You Need to Know to Bleach Furniture to Get the Raw Wood Look

Last year, we remodeled the whole downstairs of our home. We updated the orange wood tones that were all over the house with a much more neutral look. If you've ever done a home remodel, you know that you are basically just bleeding money for months on end. And when our remodel stalled and we had to fire our contractor, we weren't sure how we were going to move forward with a new plan and how much that was going to cost us. Being on the frugal side of things anyway, I like to buy cheap and save the difference. But I was willing to splurge on a few things, a new table being one of them! After searching around and not being able to stomach the many thousands of dollars a new table was going to cost, I started looking into some DIY options. I came full circle, and while it took me buying and refinishing about five tables, I finally settled on two that I absolutely love for our dining room and kitchen nook. And in the process, I learned a lot of lessons on how to bleach furniture to get the coveted raw wood look that's so hot right now. Here is what I learned.



The Best Clothing Brands to Resell

I've been reselling clothing on-line for more than 20 years. I started by selling my oldest son's outgrown baby clothes. Kids grow so quickly, that clothes purchased second-hand and worn by them, still had a lot of life left in them. It was a great way as a young couple to basically clothe our children for free for many years. Anything I paid for the clothes, I gained back in the reselling and then put into buying the next season of clothing. For years I only sold items we used personally, but I've since moved on to buying and reselling things I find at Goodwill Outlet and once garage sale season starts again, I'll start reselling items from there too. There are brands that sell well and brands that just aren't worth wasting your time on. Today I'm sharing the brands that I keep my eyes peeled for and you should too. These are the brands that have the best resell value and the ones that will sell quickly and easily so you aren't holding on to any inventory.



Brands for Resale that Just Don't Sell

One of the most common questions people ask me is how I know what brands to buy to resell them. So to all you resellers purchasing clothing brands to try to resell, you may be shocked to find the ones that make this list! One of the best places to start is by figuring out what brands not to buy. This is why I put together this list of not only the brands to avoid but the reasons why I pass them up every time I see them. Here are six brands that have little to no resale value.



My Teenager Wants to Be a Pilot: Now What?

My youngest son Owen has always been into airplanes. He started drawing and designing them in his school journal when he was in elementary school. While my oldest son was looking at fast cars on the highway, Owen was looking up in the sky identifying aircraft. As parents, we look for ways to support our kids in their passions, and Owen's passion for airplanes just kept growing. He really pushed us to let him apply to an aviation high school out of district and then continued to explore extra curricular programs that would allow him to start flight training about the same time he was learning to drive a car. He narrowed his focus, and he's pursuing a career in commercial aviation. After the pandemic, the flight industry had a little shake up, and we've all heard about the pilot shortages. It's a great time to head into the industry, but where do you even start? Here is what we've learned as parents so far.

MY teen wants to be a pilot now what


Thoughtful Graduation Gifts to Give Any Graduate

Are you a sentimental person? Are you looking for the perfect gift for all those special people? Oh good! Me too! If you know or have a grad preparing for graduation this year, it might be time to start thinking about a killer gift idea for them to kick off graduation with!  Graduation is one of the happiest moments in your kid’s life. So why not find the perfect gift to remember this moment forever? Here are some thoughtful graduation gifts to give to any graduate.



What Hotels to Stay in Around Seattle for Your Cruise

Seattle has the two busiest cruise terminals, with more than a million passengers embarking on their next adventure to Canada and Alaska. After taking a cruise to Alaska, I was flooded with people asking me where they could stay, especially if you don’t have a car handy. So, to help you out before your next cruise, here are the best hotels to stay in and around Seattle before your cruise.

where to stay in seattle before or after a cruise to alaska


Everything You Need to Know About Passports

Traveling can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll do with your kids, and when it comes to traveling internationally, there is nothing more important than one tiny little booklet. Your passport is your key to the kingdom, so to speak. Without this, you won’t be able to board a plane, much less get to your desired country. Here, I’ll let you know some of the most frequently asked questions I get and hurdles that you might have to face when dealing with a passport.

everything you need to know about passports


Preparing Your Home for Vacation

Preparing for a vacation can be a lot of work. Whether packing up the car, hitting the road, or dusting off your passport for a long flight, taking a vacation requires more than just preparing an itinerary. Your home will be left vacant while you’re gone, and you want to ensure your home is ready for it! Here are my best tips to help you prepare your home for vacation.



Splurge or Save on Cruise Extras

If you are planning on taking a cruise, you might feel lost with all the extras you can book with your cruise. From fine dining to excursions, you can spend a lot of additional costs to make your cruise better, more relaxing, and so much more! Here are some of the best cruise extras to splurge on and a few you should skip.



Stop Asking High School Grads This Question

College has always been a priority for our kids. It's been on their radar from a very young age and all three of them have had career aspirations that are met with a college degree. One thing I noticed a few years ago when we were starting to go to more and more graduation parties is that the assumption that a new high school grad is going on to college. It can be one of the hardest questions for a kid to answer if their path looks a little different. College has gotten hard to afford and there are many different paths a teen can take as they enter into adulthood. Here are some things I learned the hard way {from awkward conversations where I assumed!}, and some questions you can ask instead.



Phoenix, Arizona Visitors Guide: Beat the Crowds and See the Highlights

Phoenix, Arizona is the perfect escape, especially for those of us in the Pacific Northwest. When the sun is hiding in Seattle, you are sure to find it in Phoenix! Not only that, Phoenix has plenty of outdoor adventure, the perfect combination of city life and lots of southwest culture. You can easily balance a quick trip with relaxation and plenty of recreation making it the perfect vacation destination. It's always important for me to make the most of my trip and beat the crowds. Read on for the best tips on how you can do that!


Phoenix, Arizona Visitors Guide: Beat the Crowds and See the Highlights

phoenix arizona visitors guide beat the crowds

When to Visit Phoenix

Phoenix is known for it's more than 300 days of sunshine a year! A true delight from the dreary grey gloom in the Pacific Northwest. Phoenix has some extreme temperature swings to be aware of. It gets hot in the summer {the average high in July is 106 degrees!} so keep that in mind. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit if you want warm dessert days. Though be aware that it can get cold in the mountains during those times. October-May are generally great months for weather, keep in mind that during the winter months, it could be a bit cold for lounging poolside. Spring is the high season and prices for plane tickets and hotels/accommodations often reflect that. There's nothing more special than seeing the cactus bloom though!

Monsoon Season

Arizona's monsoon season runs from June-September. It's often a quick heavy rain but it can also bring flash flooding which can be dangerous if you are hiking in unfamiliar territory. 

phoenix visitors guide thats less crowded

How Many Days To Spend in Phoenix

You can easily get a good taste of Phoenix over a long weekend. Three-five days will allow you time to rest and explore the area. You can add extra days if you want to continue to explore more of Arizona and road trip to the Grand Canyon or head down towards Tucson or even the Mexican border.

Beat the Crowds

If you are flexible, you can beat the crowds by visiting mid week and not over a weekend. Not only will flights be less expensive, so will accommodations. 

How to Get to Phoenix

The Phoenix Sky Harbor airport {PHX} is your best option if you are flying in. There are a few small airports in the area, but you'll find the most options flying into and out of PHX. Renting a car is easy and often most helpful if you want to explore the city. Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the US, but it's not really great at public transportation, so you'll likely need a car to get around.

Where to Stay in Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix is an easy choice if this is your first visit to the city. It's close to lots of activities and restaurants. Tempe is close to Papago Park and is a good option if you are combining a visit to Arizona State University. Scottsdale is another favorite area with lots of great dining and unique shopping as well as historic districts to explore. Mesa is home to the Superstition Mountains and a great place if hiking is at the top of your to do list.

backyard pool in arizona

Private pool with hiking in the backyard? Yes please! Favorite sunscreen for teens is Coola. It smells great and doesn't break them out!

Beat the Crowds

If you want to stay close to Phoenix for a quick visit in but not be in Phoenix proper, consider Chandler or Goodyear. Both are about a 30 minute drive from the city, but these are great options if you want more family-friendly affordable options with less people!

We stayed in Goodyear a few years ago, and rented a house with a private pool. It had hiking out the back fence with plenty of trails to explore. It's a good option if you want to spread out a little but still benefit from the landscape and beauty of the desert.

Find a VRBO in Phoenix and surrounding areas!

Pro Travel Tip

If you are traveling to the Phoenix area and are booking a home with a pool, make sure that the pool is heated. You won't think that you need it when the days are in the 80's, but you do! It makes an incredible difference having a heated pool to swim in. It's often noted in VRBO listings, but it's worth inquiring about if it's not. And it is often an extra charge to have the pool turned on. Again, it's totally worth it and needed with the exception of summer.

beating crowds in phoenix

Things To Do In Phoenix

Desert Botanical Garden

I'm a big fan of the Desert Botanical Garden. Not only is it one of the most Instagram worthy spots in all of Phoenix, it's got plenty of opportunities for you to learn more about the variety of desert plant life. There are more than 140 acres and 50,000 plants and plenty of room to wander. It does get hot, so pack some water! Plan to spend a few hours wandering the gardens and don't miss the Gertrude's, probably my favorite restaurant in the city! You'll find seasonally grown farm to table favorites on the menu. Don't miss the garden 'rita! I still drool when I think about it!

Beat the Crowds

Go early! Get to the Botanical Garden just after it opens or right before it closes for fewer crowds. Head to the back of the Garden property and work your way to the front to beat the slow moving crowds.

Hike the Trails

There are plenty of popular hiking spots like Papago Park, which is actually very close to the Desert Botanical Garden so you could combine a trip! Piestewa Peak or Camelback Mountain both have amazing views and can be a bit more challenging. South Mountain is a more urban trail you can't go wrong on! North Mountain is paved but steep and makes a great place to watch the sunrise in the morning.

Beat the crowds

I enjoy some of the lesser known hiking options since the popular ones can get busy! Check out Pinnacle Peak Trail for a less popular hike. And if you drive further out to Estrella Mountain, there are great hiking and biking trails that are very well marked and less trodden. 


Find a Game

Baseball fans will love catching a Cactus League Spring Training game. Every February and March, more than 200 games are played by 15 major league teams all within a 45 minute drive! Games can sell out, so make sure you buy tickets early if there's a game you want to catch!

Beat the Crowds

Not going to lie, it will be harder to beat the crowds at a spring training game. There are people who intentionally come to Arizona only to see a game. Skip this option if you want to miss the crowds.

Wander in Old Town Scottsdale

Walking the streets in Old Town Scottsdale is such a great way to explore this neighborhood. There are great restaurant options, fun boutique shops and public art sprinkled throughout. 


This is my favorite option! I love soaking up the vitamin D and sitting poolside in the sunshine. There are plenty of luxury resorts and even retreat-like backyards in VRBO rentals! Keep an eye out for resorts that offer spa treatments. You can often use the resort amenities if you are getting a treatment even if you aren't a guest. 



Things on My List Next Time I Visit Phoenix

Hot Air Balloon Ride
Taliesin West-Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and desert lab
Musical Instrument Museum-doesn't sound super exciting, but gets great reviews!
Salt River Tubing
Heard Museum-Lots of southwestern Native American Art
Day trip to Sedona

Phoenix is the perfect getaway for most of the year. You can often find flight deals and sunshine making it a quick getaway if you are trying to escape less than ideal weather in your hometown. 

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

Five Fun and Free Things to do in Beijing, China

Beijing is filled with things to do that are fun and free. They start with "collecting" humorous signs and end with strolls around various neighborhoods. You don't have to open your wallet to have fun when you travel. Here are some tips for fun and free things in Beijing, China. 

cheap travel to china

Setting Boundaries for College Students Home on a Visit

Parents know the crash and bangs at all hours of the early morning, making you wonder if you’re being robbed or if that’s your college student getting in from a night out with friends. When your baby comes back home as a new young adult, it can be challenging to have that first initial visit when they come home. And I've found, every break when they boomerang back changes a bit, so these are always ongoing conversations. While things can take a while to adjust fully, here are a few tips for setting boundaries for college students when they come home to visit.



Favorite Travel Items I Won't Get on a Plane Without

I've always loved to travel. When I was a kid, we lived in the midwest and most of our trips were road trips. I didn't get on an airplane for the first time until I was in sixth grade! But now, it's not uncommon for me to fly a few times a month somewhere. Sometimes it's a quick flight of only an hour to visit my big kids in Boise, other times, it might be a long international flight. Regardless, these are the items I ALWAYS pack. I wouldn't get on a plane without these!



Guide to Buying Tickets for the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is one of the world's most visited paid monuments in the world with more than 6 million visitors each year! Not going to lie, once you get to that second floor and stand in line for the elevator summit, you'll feel like all 6 million of them are there with you in that tight space and then crammed into the elevator with you as you head to the top!  After visiting the Eiffel Tower for the first time last year, I have some tips for those of you considering a visit while you are in Paris. Buying tickets can seem confusing and overwhelming, so let me help you make the best purchase for your trip!



Top Tips for International Travel with Teens

Traveling with your teenagers can be a fun and fulfilling experience for both you and your teenager. Traveling can not only help your teenager experience new cultures but can also help you bond and build memories together. If you’re new to traveling with your teenager, here are a few of my best tips to help with international travel with teens.



6 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

The amount of food waste the average family wastes each year is higher than most of us would like to own up to. Now that the teens and young adults have moved out and left the nest, it can feel like you still need to make those massive family dinners for five even though your family has shrunk. Here are my secrets to help you avoid food waste as a smaller family and help you avoid wasting both food and money!

tips for reducing food waste


Fun Things to See and Do in Cairo and Giza

Cairo Museum included, this Egyptian capital also promises perfume palaces, papyrus galleries, Khan Al-Khalili Bazaar and exciting camel rides! Egypt's capital Cairo and its town on the outskirts - Giza - are not just about history. A traveler can unearth fun experiences, by digging a little deeper with an Egyptian guide, even on a short trip. I've got fun things you can see and do when you travel to Cairo and Giza. It's a trip you are going to want to add to your bucket list!

camel rides in cairo egypt

The Best Time to Visit Iceland: The Answer Might Surprise You!

I don't like to be cold, so Iceland really wasn't at the top of my travel list. However, when my daughter and I started planning a high school graduation trip {that had to be thrice rescheduled...sorry class of 2020!}, the stopover flights through Iceland had me intrigued. We could add a stopover and explore a new country without any extra cost for airfare! So we booked the trip. We made the most of a 24-hour stopover {you can read about how we maximized our time here} and after getting a small taste of this beautiful country that my daughter says is like a colder Hawaii {an apt description}, it's definitely on my radar to explore again!  So when is the best time to visit Iceland? Read on! The answer might surprise you!



How to Plan Vacations with Young Adults

While traveling as a family can be a great time to make memories, sometimes taking a vacation when your kids are older or with other adults can be where the longer-lasting memories are actually made. But trying to get a vacation on the books with young adults can prove to be tricky and can raise a few questions you might not have considered before. If you’re looking for some tips to help you plan a vacation with young adults, here are some things to consider while planning.

vacation with young adult children

Powered by Blogger.