fun in oceanside, ca and legoland

I wasn’t completely honest in my last post. I talked about some of my weekend plans, but I didn’t mention that we were taking off for a quick trip to California – I’d rather announce my travel plans to the internet after the fact 🙂 . My in-laws joined us for the trip so that we could take the kids to Legoland – their very first theme park. Luke has been absolutely obsessed with legos this year, and a lot of my friends told me that Legoland is perfect for kids their age (6 and 3). We really wanted to take a trip this summer, but we had to do it on a tight budget, and we managed to make it happen!

We got a great deal on rooms at the Holiday Inn in Oceanside, CA, which is really close to Legoland. We were especially lucky considering that this was a last-minute plan and a holiday weekend. I was a little skeptical because you can never really tell how a hotel is going to be from the photos on the website; I’ve been to places before that looked great online, but in person were old and run-down. We weren’t going for “fancy and luxurious” here, but we did want “clean and convenient.” I can not say enough good things about this hotel.

It’s a newer hotel, and it was immaculate (HUGE bonus points from me for that!). The rooms were spacious – two queen beds and a little sitting area with a couch, a large flatscreen tv, microwave, and fridge – PERFECT for traveling with children.

Holiday Inn Oceanside, CA

Holiday Inn Oceanside, CA

Holiday Inn Oceanside, CA

The staff was exceptionally nice – very patient with my energetic children bouncing around the lobby because they were so excited. They went above and beyond to answer questions, get us anything we needed, and just in general help us out. It was the best hotel experience I’ve had while traveling with my kids. We’ll definitely stay there again.

The hotel was a short walk from the beach. It was such a quick trip that we only spent one afternoon at the beach, but the weather was gorgeous and the kids had a blast. Later we got changed and walked to the harbor area for dinner – it was so nice not to have to get back in the car!

oceanside, ca  beach

The next day we headed to Legoland. We all had a fantastic time. The kids loved the rides, and my friends were right – the park is perfect for younger kids. I was a little surprised that Maggie was a little too short for quite a few of the rides, but she had a great time anyway. The park did get pretty packed around lunchtime, so I was glad that we had arrived when it opened and covered some territory before the lines got too long.

legoland california

All in all, it was a great trip – just a little too short. Next time, I’d love to stay a little longer, but the change of scenery was nice and seeing the kids experience something new was really fun.


June 2, 2010 at 7:56 am 2 comments

weekend plans

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am so ready for this holiday weekend! We have company in town, but I am going to finish up as much work as possible today and spend some much-needed time relaxing.

For one thing, I’ll be finishing this:

So far I like it; Jennifer Weiner does not disappoint. Maybe it’s because she’s close to my age, but during flashbacks in Best Friends Forever, she captures little pieces of childhood in the 80s that completely resounded with me. I have a few issues with one character, but I’m going to wait until I finish it to make my final judgement.

When I’m finished with that, I’m moving on to this:

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve read a Pat Conroy book, but I’m anxious to check it out. I’m sure it will have me reminiscing about living in the Lowcountry…I love Tucson, but I sure do miss the beaches and fresh seafood from our days in Savannah. But not the bugs. I most definitely do not miss the bugs.

What have you read lately?

May 28, 2010 at 12:20 pm 2 comments

busy busy {custom invitations • etsy shop}

Hello there, dusty old blog! I have had great intentions of posting some new stuff, but it has been a CRAZY few months. I have been so excited that my little Etsy shop has become really busy this spring. I have worked with some wonderful, fun, kind people, and I’m looking forward to featuring some of them here.

Recently, a new customer contacted me. She hosts an annual girls’ night party and wanted help with a custom invitation.

She decided to go with a “movie night” theme, and wanted something with a slightly retro look to it to go along with these popcorn buckets she found. Here’s what we ended up with:

Movie night invitation2

I wish I could go! Sounds like a fun night. 🙂

Around that time, a soon-to-be high school graduate and her mom contacted me about the retro circles invitation I have in the shop. They liked the bright, fun colors and wanted to know if I could adapt it into a graduation party invitation, with a second side to include more photos and a bible verse. I was more than happy to put something together!

Custom graduation invitation bright colors

Such a pretty girl, and I love how the colors in the photos worked with the background!

So how has the spring been for you, blog world?

May 21, 2010 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

cute little card

It’s a little late for Valentine’s Day, but I have a cute card tutorial that could apply to any other occasion.

For Valentine’s Day this year, I was trying to come up with something cute for Maggie to bring to school. Luke, of course, already had his heart set on some Lego valentines, but Maggie’s still young enough that she was open to suggestions. I came across Tiddly Inks, an ADORABLE Etsy shop, and she not only sells her art, but also digital stamps that you can manipulate in Photoshop and use on whatever you want (not commercial use, though). What I was really excited about, though, is that she has several little curly-haired girls — almost impossible to find! So I chose a little curly-haired fairy and got to work, coloring her in Photoshop, shortening her hair a bit to look more like Maggie, and adding a little heart to her dress for V-day:

Then I chose a patterned background and added some wording. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about envelopes, and then I came across this cute petal envelope template. I sized it down so that I could fit two to a page, like this:  And then we (and by “we” I mean “I,” since Maggie had lost interest by this point) printed, cut, and folded them:

Maggie got interested again when I got out the stickers. We topped each with a heart sticker to hold it together, and we were done! So although this was for Valentine’s Day, you could use the same idea for party invites or little Mother’s Day cards, etc. If you try it out, I want to hear about your projects!

I’m adding this to Tip Junkie’s Tip Me Tuesday!

April 3, 2010 at 7:44 am 6 comments

favorite things: good stuff for real people

I just recently stumbled across Melissa at her blog, 320 Sycamore, and it was just in time. She is having a “Favorite Things” party. I’ve found that some of the “things” I love best, whether they’re books or recipes or gift ideas or beauty products or whatever, come from recommendations from real people who have really used them and have real opinions. When I saw Melissa’s post about this shindig, I knew I’d love to participate. This blog party will be kind of like Oprah’s “Favorite Things,” but on a scale that mere mortals can enjoy.

Here goes:

1) Penzey’s Spices

I am not a gourmet cook. I am only a mediocre cook. But as you probably know, spices can be pricey. A good friend of mine (who is from Milwaukee) told me about this family-owned, Wisconsin-based company years ago, and I LOVE THEM. Their (free) catalogs are great, and come with a slew of real-life, yummy, useful recipes, and their products are reasonably priced and great quality. My favorites are their dressing blends. I use their Greek Seasoning to whip up a salad dressing every week – it only takes a minute and is 100 times better than store-bought. My sister-in-law got hooked on their Sandwich Sprinkle at my house a few years ago, and now keeps it in supply at her house as well. Anything from Penzey’s is a GREAT gift idea if you know someone who likes to cook.

2) C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine

I love a good lipgloss that’s easy to throw on when I’m doing one hundred other things, but I often found that the ones I bought had a weird taste or weird smell or strange consistency or were the wrong color. This one is perfect. Reasonable price, great smell, nice consistency, a bit of tint. I buy several at a time and have them stashed in the bathroom, my purse, and the car.

3) Starbuck’s Espresso

If you’re like 80% of the moms I know in real life, you make the Starbucks stop a couple of times a week. I love a good, tall skinny latte like the next girl, but we all know it’s not always convenient to make the stop. Plus, if you’ve ever read a book about finances, you know the key to financial freedom is giving up your Starbucks.

A friend of mine once mentioned that she liked Starbuck’s espresso drinks better than their regular coffee, and until then I never understood why I didn’t like a straight-up brewed cup of whatever as much as I did a fancy drink from them. Since then, I started buying their ground espresso and brewing it right in my coffeemaker for our weekend or special-occasion coffee, and it is GREAT! People always ask me what kind of coffee it is when they’re here. It’s pricier than run-of-the-mill coffee, but at around $7/bag, it’s way cheaper to brew it at home than to order up the lattes.

4) Etsy

Really, you must know about Etsy, or you must have been living under a rock or something for the past year. Etsy is the portal to things made by real humans, small companies, and nice regular folks who have amazing talents. I’ve bought some ADORABLE clothing items for Maggie there. A few sellers I like (though there are dozens more!!):

Chirpy Designs
Illia Kids
Lily Sky
Sweet Papery


Check out my blogroll for blogs I love, that inspire me, make me laugh, or make me relate. There are so many more out there, but those are a few.

If you try one of my favorite things, I want to hear about it! Be sure to let me know. Now it’s your turn – what works for you, what do you like, what’s a great find? I can’t wait to hear what other people have come up with. I’m sure there will be lots of great posts over at 320 Sycamore!

November 19, 2009 at 11:30 am 8 comments

holiday card giveaway

Heather at Fabulous Fun Finds is hosting a giveaway of a card and holiday newsletter from my Etsy shop today…..go check it out here! While you’re there, check out some of the other great giveaways she has.



November 10, 2009 at 8:03 am Leave a comment

easy silhouette ornament/plaque tutorial

Last year, I was looking for a cute, inexpensive, and simple handmade project for the grandparents. I love silhouettes, and I had seen some cute projects around the blog world, so I combined a few of them to make what I had in mind. I wanted something smaller that could be used either as an ornament or as a plaque to hang somewhere.

These are far from perfect, but we’re going to call that “charming” and “handmade.” The grandparents loved them, and I even made some for myself and have them hanging on my bookshelves.

First, I took the kids’ pictures against a solid background.


I loaded the pictures in Photoshop and isolated their heads and filled them with black. I did this because I am a terrible cutter and I was worried I’d make a mess of cutting out their actual faces like some of the tutorials I’ve seen.

I printed them out on light-colored scrapbook paper. Then I traced the wooden plaque (purchased from Michael’s….very inexpensive!) and cut out the ovals.


I painted the plaques with copper craft paint, used ModPodge to glue the paper on, and used more ModPodge to coat and seal the whole thing.


I used hot glue to glue copper ribbon onto the backs. Mine were very unfinished, but if you’re fancy, I’m sure you can come up with a more finished-looking back.


And that’s it….the finished project:IMG_3222


I’m adding this to Chris’s “I Can Make That!” party at Just a Girl and Kimba’s DIY Day. Lots of great projects to check out!


November 9, 2009 at 7:09 pm 11 comments

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