Friday, August 22, 2014

Many Hats

So.  I've been gone for awhile again.  Sorry about that.

I've just been a bit busy with the travel agent thing.  And hanging out with a 2 year old every day.  And cooking meals that no one wants to eat.  Seriously, these kids don't want meals.  They want berries and bananas and peanut butter sandwiches.  It's not a terrible problem to have -- they love their fresh fruit.

I've also taken on a new role recently.  Remember Camp Throwback from earlier this Spring?  I'm now on staff as Camp Intern.  I'm stoked.

If any of you have a business that would like to sponsor Camp Throwback, contact me here.  Sponsors get A LOT of social media love from campers and Brittany.

And now, for your enjoyment, I present the Camp Throwback Buzzfeed "10 Things That Happen At Camp Throwback."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Some people smoke or drink when they get stressed.

I match up funny pictures with requests on the local Facebook selling wall.

I like my way better.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Camp Throwback 2014 Recap

I've been a chronic over-packer.  Even a few trips to Europe with Rick Steves as my travel guru hasn't broken me of this.  Add in the fact that I have to bring my own linens, and it's out of control.  For 4 days at Camp Throwback, I felt it was necessary to bring the following:  all of my make-up - all of it, my Kindle, a fan, 2 extension cords, my Clarisonic, Spanx, and 5 pairs of shoes.  I left my purse at home, unlike Meredith.

1.  I was a wee bit late.  2. Because that was my suitcase when I should have been driving.  3.  Brittany is a crafty lady.  
Camp Throwback?  Oh it's just this amazing place where 100 strangers meet in the woods to drink, make friendship bracelets, and try to be the first person out in dodgeball.  At least that's what I did.

My cabinmates were awesome.  Four of the seven were from Central Ohio, so I wouldn't be surprised if we ran into each other regularly.  Becky was from Minnesota and my patented unintentional accent adoption was in full swing by the end of the week.  Becky was also kind enough to explain "hot dish" to me after we spent 20 minutes discussing the merits of Garrison Keillor and A Priairie Home Companion.

Ashley and I made a little side trip to the ol' WC and stocked up on t-shirts and sweatshirts. Mine were circa 2002 or earlier, so they'd seen better days.  PS - ask Ashley to make you a friendship bracelet.  She's, like *really* good at it.

I was really apprehensive about Field Day on Saturday.  You see, sports aren't really my "thing."  However, after a few drinks, I was all "3-legged race?  I'll *own* the 3-legged race!"  (I didn't.  Our string broke 30 seconds in, but I like to think that we would have won)

I also tried a Bloody Mary for the first time.  When asked if I like tomato juice, my reply was, "I like chili, is that the same?"

I also got to hang out with a few of my favorite bloggers and hear some stories that didn't make it to the blog (yet?  I'm looking at you Jess).

1. "Home" for the weekend.  We had a cabin mouse.  2.  Awesome 90's cookies.  3.  Ashley pretending it's 2002.  4.  Brittany and I in our 90's gear.  5.  Friendship bracelet.  6.  I moustache you to participate in field day.  7.  Shouldn't we be singing Make New Friends by this point?  8.  Chili Dan's Bloody Mary - yum!  9.  It's basically health food.  10.  Duraflame sponsored our nightly campfires.  11.  Welcome to camp!  12.  Watermelon eating contest.  13.  A bit of puff paint for team spirit.  14.  Ashley's super-good at friendship bracelets.  15.  Oof.  16.  At this point, I was hoping for some a/c.  

I'd like to thank the sponsors of Camp Throwback - DuraflameCrotchGearMercyMoroccan OilChili Dan’s, and The TravelSmith.  

Seriously, Jess.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Camp Throwback - An Addendum to the Packing List

Guys, I'm going to summer camp.  Like, for adults.  Camp Throwback Spring Session is this week!  It'll be just like when I went to 4-H Camp, but there will be booze.

I'm super excited to see everyone!  Let me know if you'll be there by commenting below!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Homeowner Hack: Touch-Up Paint without a Paintbrush

I could have also titled this "Kids are Hell on Walls."

We're getting ready to celebrate Cora's 4th Birthday tomorrow.  Her actual birthday was earlier in the week, but with family over an hour away, you tend to make these things happen on weekends.

Our kitchen walls around the table are full of scrapes from chairs and tables.  There was also what appeared to be a mural of splashed juice behind Lily's seat, but that was easily remedied with soap and water.  Because I'd like some cute pictures when Cora blows out her candles (CRAP - I have to go buy candles!), I decided to touch up the paint and make those marks disappear.

Seeing as how my father in law reorganizes our basement every time he comes over, I had no idea where any of the paint brushes might be.  I remembered this little trick from when I touched up the paint last year.  Can you guess my secret weapon?

Calm down, I didn't ruin the jar.  I painted the inside and I'm going to use it as a vase.
Yep!  One of those super-cheap make-up sponges.  Normally I'd use this in conjunction with a solo cup, but I had other plans today.  Because what is make-up, if not paint you put on your face?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Next time, Tinkerbell stays home

Happy Easter!

We managed to make it to church this morning and we were EARLY. That never happens. The kids even sat still for the entire service. The most out of line thing they did was Lily clapped and cheered after every song and Cora brought her Tinkerbell doll up to the front during the children's sermon.  (Side note:  We decided that Tinkerbell, being a fairy, was a bit pagan to bring in to church.  Oops)  There was an egg hunt during sunday school, where I aerated the lawn because I wore heels.

We got exactly zero photos of us dressed in our church clothes, but lots in pajamas and play clothes.

I hope your Easter was a bubble-filled wonderland!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Things Took A Turn

Hey blog.

How've 'ya been?

It's been awhile, huh?

You see, I've been a bit busy.

No, nothing's wrong.  It's actually very, very right.

As of about a week or so ago, I'm a BUSINESS OWNER!
That's something I never thought I'd say.

I've always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a travel agent.  Seeing as I got a degree in Agriculture, I thought that ship had long since sailed.

Apparently, I was wrong.

I'm the proud new owner of The TravelSmith, an independent agent of Gateway to Magic.  My specialties are Walt Disney World © and Europe.

So if you ever need someone to tell you that you're pretty and help you plan a Walt Disney World © vacation for your family, please contact me.  I can walk you through all of your options, look for the best deal (and continue to search for them after you've booked), schedule dining reservations, and help you map out an itinerary for your trip.  Bonus:  I don't charge any fees!

PS - Please 'Like' The TravelSmith below.  Are you doing something new with your hair?  It looks great!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Mantle

We're in a season full of what I think of as "the lesser holidays."  No gifts are exchanged, there isn't really a special meal, cards aren't expected.  Lesser holidays don't get much pomp and circumstance in regards to the 'ol mantle decor.

St. Patrick's Day is one of those lesser holidays for me.  I mean, I did make corned beef that one year, but it's not really a tradition.  This mantle is going to be up for probably 3 weeks tops.  I don't want to put tons of money or effort into it.  I do think it's lacking a bit.  I keep my eye out in stores for one more thing to pull it all together a bit better, but haven't found anything yet.

I *really* wanted that hat to fit on the moose head, but I would have had to cut it to do so and it just wouldn't have worked right.  Now he just looks like a fancy hat rack.  The jar is full of split peas ($1 for a pound bag at Meijer).  The framed picture is a combination of two different printables I found on Pinterest.  I can't find my source for the dots, but here's where you can get the subway art.  Can you guess what's in the spilled bucket in the middle?

 It's a combination of a beaded Christmas garland (for height/bulk) and CHOCOLATE COINS!  Decorating with food like this is usually pretty cheap and easy to find.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Central Ohio Staycation - Holiday Inn Express Polaris

If you were to ask Cora what her favorite thing is, there's a good chance her answer would involve a hotel or a hotel swimming pool.  Things to do at a hotel?  Swim, eat granola bars and drink water on the bed.  That's a vacation in her mind.  

So we decided to go on a preschooler's dream vacation last week.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at Polaris Thursday night.  We went there for the pool/toddler water park.  

We reserved a 2 bedroom suite with the hopes that sleeping in a separate room from Lily would get her to sleep in a new environment (SPOILER ALERT: nope).  The room had a kitchenette, fold out couch, and desk area in the first room and a bedroom, sitting area, and bathroom in the second room.  

This room passes the toddler test.

The kitchenette had a fridge, microwave, sink (with dishsoap), a roll of paper towels, and disposable plates, cups, and silverware for four.  It had a peninsula that would have been even better if there was a barstool or two.  

The king sized bed that Cora fell out of after I told her to get away from the edge approximately 45 times.

There was that little sitting area in the bedroom as well as that huge empty space next to the bathroom door.  I think that somehow they could have fit a table and chairs in the room somewhere, but it might involve walls being in different places.  

The pool was great for the kids.  I'd say probably 75% of the pool was 3 feet deep or shallower.  There's a good bit that's only 1 1/2 feet deep, which was fine for Lily to explore on her own a bit.  We swam the afternoon we checked in and went back when the pool opened at 8 am the next morning.

The curly slide is only open on certain weekend hours when they have a lifeguard on duty.

This was our original plan.  It was to be a test run for a vacation later this Spring to see if we could get by with a regular hotel room.

These children are liars.  At bedtime, Lily ran around the room like she was being chased.  Scott finally wrestled her into bed in the fold out couch.  Cora and I watched a movie in the bedroom until she got tired.  She fell out of the bed at about 2 am, but I don't think she actually woke up when it happened.

The next morning, we had breakfast downstairs before heading back to the pool.

It doesn't take much to entertain me.  That includes this pancake machine.  
This was a great way to break up the monotony of this terrible winter.  It was much cheaper than going to something like Great Wolf Lodge and my kids are of the age where they didn't know the difference.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Passporter's Walt Disney World Guidebook Review

Do you remember Blues Clues?  I know it isn't on the air anymore (except in reruns), but Steve always had his Handy Dandy Notebook.

When I start planning for Walt Disney World, my handy dandy notebook is the Passporter's Walt Disney World guidebook.  I wish I had heard of it before we went for the first time with Cora back in 2012.  It would have saved us a lot of just wandering around the parks.

At the time, I'd have said that I knew plenty to get by at Walt Disney World from going pretty often during childhood and adolescence.  1.  I didn't know jack - you see they've change things in the 10 years since I'd been there.  2.  Priorities are different when you're going with a toddler and husband vs. when you're a surly teen with your family.

That's what's so great about this book.  Regardless of your experience level with WDW, there's plenty to learn.  Jennifer and Dave Marx and the (hold on let me count) nine other people that make up the team that wrote this guide know their stuff.  And stuff changes every year, therefore the book does too.

Pro Tip:  You don't *have* to buy the souveniers, just get a cute picture.

Want to find out which resort has the pool that your kids would enjoy the most?  Well, that's on pages 27-103.  The resort section also includes resort maps and illustrations of room layouts.  And a million other things, but those are some of the biggies.

Want to know which rides at the Magic Kingdom aren't going to scare your toddler?  Well, start on page 129.  The attractions are color coded by who would best enjoy them.  (COLOR CODED?  Jennifer is a girl after my own nerdy heart)

Speaking of nerdy, when you purchase a book in hard copy, you also get an eReader copy available for immediate download.

If you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon, I'd recommend getting a good guidebook first.  It's a $20 investment for a few thousand dollar trip.  It will help you allocate your time and money to get the best bang for your buck.  Oh, and if you listen to the Passporter Mom's Podcast (also on iTunes), Jennifer gives a discount code each week that can be applied to the purchase of your guidebook.  

I received a copy of 2014 Passporter's Walt Disney World from Passporter Travel Press.  The content and opinions expressed here are all my own.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Mantle - Quick, Easy, and Cheap

Last week, I looked up at the mantle and noticed that it was still sporting a modified Christmas motif.  It's February.  Oops.

I didn't want to go all out decorating it for Valentine's Day, considering the shelf life (GET IT??) would be a couple of weeks at best.

First up, I used the large photo frame that's been on the mantle for as long as I've been decorating it.  I left the red and white chevron wrapping paper on that had been on for Christmas, but added a bit of a quote.  A bit of a Mr. Darcy quote.  If one can't display a little Pride and Prejudice love on Valentine's Day, then when can one?

My next bit of genius was the paper chain heart chain thing across the front.  Easy peasy.  Still completely free, thus far.

In the center, I used some white metal square buckets I bought from Pick Your Plum awhile ago and stuck some old beaded Christmas tree garland inside.  Next to it is a canning jar filled with Valentine candy.  Yep, this is the only thing I bought for the entire mantle.  Three bags of the sour cherry candy cost me a whopping $5.  

On the far right are the candlesticks I found last Fall at Goodwill.  More info on them here.

Last but not least is Marshall the Moose.


Not bad for $5, all of which can be eaten.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nerdy Crushes

I was never one of those teen girls that crushed on a celebrity. You know, a guy like uh...umm...Honestly, I was so out of the loop that I can't even name a Tiger Beat-esque pop star/actor from the 90's. Girls liked Jonathan Taylor Thomas I think, but I feel like that was for a younger crowd, right?

That's mostly carried into adulthood. I don't really *get* the entire Ryan Gosling infatuation. Instead, I've got nerd crushes. I fangirl over men that are smart/witty/funny.  Men who aren't really known for their looks, but their minds. I know, I'm rolling my eyes at me too.  Are you really surprised that something pretentious showed up here?

 As of last night, I've seen all of my nerdy guys live.  For bonus points, I've dragged my husband to all four of the shows too.

Alton Brown
Alton Brown's Good Eats show was super nerdy.  Instead of just the "how to" of cooking, he explained the "why."  Alton brought his "Edible Inevitable" show to Ohio yesterday.  I bought the tickets in June.  For a Sunday night.  In February.  For a venue 2 hours from our home, but 30 minutes from Scott's parents' house (babysitting FTW).  We had fourth row seats.  It was awesome.  He made a reference to "Drunk Aunt Sandy" when he explained that she has established that all you need for dinner is a tablescape and vodka.

Highlights from the show include the burping and farting yeast sock puppets (to explain how bread rises), making carbonated ice cream in 10 seconds using a CO2 fire extinguisher, and a mini-lecture on ten truths he's pretty sure of about food (Spoiler alert: chickens don't have fingers).  He also sang super-witty food songs from an upcoming CD.

Alton Brown sings a lullaby about food

Alton is an avid Twitter user, but prefers to tweet in analog format.  And by that I mean he writes things on post-it notes and uploads the photos to Twitter.  Full of snark.  And win.

PS - I found old episodes of Good Eats on Amazon Prime to get my Alton fix now that we don't have the dish anymore.

Eddie Izzard
Eddie Izzard can walk better in heels than I can.  If it weren't for Bekah, I wouldn't have heard of him.  His jokes are so obscure and nuanced that if I tried to briefly describe one, it just wouldn't work out.  Cake or Death?

Jon Stewart
Do I need to say anything here?  Nope?  Good.

Rick Steves
On our trips to Germany, we (I) ate, slept, and breathed Rick Steves' guidebooks.  Almost every hotel we stayed in came directly from his recommendations for a "Europe through the back door" (REALLY?  You can't come up with a better way to describe this concept?) experience.

You could say he's talked me out of my clothes before.  

He came to Westerville last Spring.  I went as far as to go to the pre-lecture lecture.  He signed a book for me.  Sigh...
He's got a swagger that does not match those glasses.

You see in the imaginary world of "what if I meet my celebrity crush," mine are all guys that I can totally geek out over.  And I like it that way.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Parts of Parenting I Suck At

This is the first in what could possibly be a series.  I'm ok with that.

Today, the girls had followup doctor appointments at noon from last week's bout of bronchiolitis/croup/ear infections.

What a well planned/prepared/on top of it parent would do:
Pack a healthy, balanced, easy to eat in the car lunch for each kid.

What I did instead:

Go through McDonald's drive-thru and get a chicken nugget happy meal for the girls to split.  

Cora had the apple slices and the chicken.  Lily had some fries and whatever stale snacks I could find in the random ziploc bag I found in my purse.

PS - I always order the "boy" toys with the happy meals.  The toys are much better.  Today's was the Ice King from Adventure Time.  

Please consider this my request for in the car meal ideas that aren't going to get squished into the carpet in the van.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

On Travel

As I look out the picture window that I've moved my desk in front of (Scott accused me of bogarting the sunshine), I see snow flurries start to fly.  Again.

This is the time of year that for the past few, we've had a sunny trip planned.  San Diego when I was pregnant with Cora.  Walt Disney World when I was pregnant with Lily and Cora was almost 2.  Walt Disney World again when Cora was almost 3 and Lily was 8 months old.

I mentioned awhile back that we (I) were considering a Disney Cruise.  It just isn't going to work out, at least for this Winter.  Mary's having her baby sometime within the next few weeks and I'd like to make sure I'm around for that.

I noticed that after becoming a parent, traveling has become quite a bit more difficult.  More to pack.  More to plan.  More money.

I used to think that I wanted to be a travel agent.  I've done lots of research for friends' trips.  I LOVE the details that go into planning a trip.  The pain in the ass details like trying to find train times that will get Bekah from Paris to Luxembourg (or was it the other way around?).  Loved.  It.  Even when my roommate from grad school would gTalk message me logistics questions while she was getting her bearings in France - I LOVED IT.

Now, just give me the easiest trip possible.  I'm exhausted.  I want everything taken care of for me.  That's why we've ended up at Disney the past few years.

Disney isn't cheap.  Even for a cheapskate like me, Disney isn't cheap.  Our big price-saver was not planning on going to the parks every day we were there.  We had 5 day trips planned and only went to the parks 2 days each time.  That saved about $200 per day.

Disney is easy though.  Once you drop your luggage at your airport, you don't have to touch it again until it shows up at your hotel room.  You ride a charter bus (included in the price of your room) from the airport to your room.  There are tons of restaurants, shopping and activities.  You don't have to rent a car.

Cora's loved airports since this first brush with them almost two years ago.

Just easy.

I'm currently toying with the idea of doing Disney without going to any of the parks.  Cora's aged out of being free for park entry, so it would be even more money each day we went into a park.  The kids are young enough that we didn't actually ride many rides/see many attractions anyway.

There's plenty to do without entering a park, but is there plenty to do that our family would enjoy?  I probably need to get the Passporter Free-Book: A Guide to Free and Low-Cost Activities at Walt Disney World to fill out my Passporter collection.  Like my BFF that doesn't know he's my BFF Rick Steves says, "A good guidebook is a $30 investment on a $3000 trip."

PS - The Passporter Moms Podcast is one that somehow finds its way into my rotation even when we aren't planning a Disney trip.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Does anyone want a cat?

There's a farm 2 houses up from us. From what I understand, the older woman that lived there passed away recently. Her children are renting the house out to a tenant.

 The farm has barn cats. One of them has migrated to our house. And won't leave. It's been coming around since the first of the year. It waits for Scott to get home from work and tries to jump in his car. It rubs against Cora's legs as she walks down the sidewalk. It tries to sneak into the house.

Oh, I'll just get the kid to like me.  That's the trick.
After a few days of it trying to sneak into the house, Scott made a cat box in the garage for it with some food and water. This was when it was still around 30 degrees outside. Then the polar vortex came.

 Two nights ago, Scott fashioned a cat crate out of some baby gates and zip ties. All was well until last night when the cat figured out how to escape. I've put the cat back into the crate no less than four times this morning and it's only 10 am.

I'm just going to blend in.  Also, this catnip is FABULOUS!

 Reasons we don't need a fourth cat:
1. We'd be the people with FOUR CATS.
2. Our grey cat is generally neurotic and hasn't fully recovered from when we took in the third cat - two years ago.
3. We'd be the people with FOUR CATS.

 I wouldn't mind just letting the cat have the run of the house until the cold snap is over, but I'd only be comfortable doing so after getting a clean bill of health from a vet. Also, the cat needs flea drops. And dewormer. And a bath.

 So what I'm trying to ask is: Does anyone want a very affectionate cat?