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How to Throw a ‘Killer’ Murder Mystery Party

As you know, murder mystery parties are a favorite of ours. We love to throw them, but they take a ton of work & involvement. A murder mystery is not a party you want to throw last minute.

You’re first step when throwing a murder mystery is to make a guest list. Figure out how many people you are wanting to invite, because each murder mystery package is made to accommodate different numbers of characters. You don’t need to buy a 50+ person package if you are only going to have 10 guests.

Once you know how many people you want to invite, visit any murder mystery website. (My go-to is mymurdermysteryparty.com) Here you can skim through several different packages and you can filter the packages based on difficulty, occasion, and guest number. There are even packages themed for certain holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, valentines day, and so many more)

Now that you have your guest list & your party package, figure out a date & either text or mail out an invite .( I always text, but I still make a cute invitation by using the evite app) As people respond, send them a photo with the description of their character. When you assign characters make sure that you only assign the required characters to your most reliable guests. If you have a guest that is always late or cancels last minute, give them an optional part. (This ensures that all of the important people for the night to carry on will be there and things won’t fall apart if someone doesn’t show up.) Don’t forget to assign yourself a part!

If you are having a large party and run out of characters, don’t worry! You can buy extension packages with extra guests on the website, or if you are a creative with a tight budget like me, you can create your own character and character descriptions. I did this for my first murder mystery party. I typed the character descriptions up to look like the original characters so people wouldn’t know that they were made up by me. (If no one knows that you made them up, they can still qualify as the murderer. If you tell them that their part was made up, they are basically disqualified from being the murderer, so keep it fun for everyone) Only a few people found out that I had written their part… and I wrote over 15 parts, so I would say it was a success. (I also only went off of the characters descriptions and first round when writing, so i wouldn’t ruin the party for myself.) Writing your own parts is a lot of work, so if you opt for it, keep that in mind.

Once everyone has RSVPed and knows their character, all you have to do until the party date is plan. Make sure you know what you want to eat, what you are going to wear, and how you want to decorate (if that’s your thing) We usually go all out for our murder mystery parties. We try to decorate our house to look like the setting in our murder mystery package, we dress for the part that we assign ourselves the best that we can, and we usually have a home cooked meal, wine tasting bar, and dessert. Make sure that you have everyone’s envelopes and name tags ready ahead of time. There is typically one envelope per guest for each round. The envelopes have each person clues for each round. (Don’t forget to label what character the envelope is for and what round it is for…this is super important!)

You made it through planning. That’s the hardest part! The day of the party can be stressful if you procrastinate like I do. But if you followed my advise,(Do as I say, not as I do. I am trying to let you learn from my mistakes) your day will go smoothly. You should only have to worry about getting dressed, having the envelopes and name tags set up, and setting up the food now.

During the party, make sure that you have an order you want to do things in, but don’t stress too much about it. Read the room, talk to your friends, and try to relax. When guests first arrive, direct them to the name tags and let them find their character. (Having a list of everyone’s name and character is a great hack because some people might not remember the name of their character.) Let everyone hangout and snack on some appatizers and finger foods while you wait for the rest of your guests. Once everyone has made it, allow everyone to introduce their character, explain how the party works, and pass out the round one envelopes.

Once round one is over, we usually have a break where everyone gets to eat dinner. At dinner, we pass out the round 2 envelopes and get started with round two once everyone is finished eating. During the rounds you and your guests will have certain conversations and clues that you will have to share with certain characters. For the most part, everyone will be mingling and joking around, just make sure that everyone has done everything on their card before wrapping up each round.

After round two, have one more little break between. We usually let everyone get refreshments and serve dessert before round 3 starts. Round 3 will start with someone finding the victim. During this round, everyone will take time to fill out a card with who they think is the killer and why based off of the information that they gathered throughout the night. Give everyone the chance to read their card before continuing round three. Once everyone read their card and get to say who they think the killer was, allow everyone to read their statements. (The card will tell each person who goes next) At the end, the killer will be revealed. Have fun with it and see how many people guessed right, you can even do a little prize for the people that guessed correctly.

Once the mystery has been solved, you are done. Feel free to get out of character and hangout with your friends for the rest of the night. A lot of time and money goes into these parties, but we have never had anyone say anything but positive things about it. We have also been to other friend’s murder mystery parties and had just as much fun. Just remember that even if you mess something up, most of your friends only came to spend time and celebrate with you, so don’t stress too much!

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Christmas Gift Guide for Mom

Parents in general can be so difficult to shop for. For the most part, I still view it as my parents have more money than me, so they can just buy whatever they want. Why would anything I get them be better than what they already have? Thoughts like this usually lead me to not buy them the original gift that I had in mind so that I can buy them the perfect gift when I find it, which usually results in me not buying Christmas gifts until a week before Christmas. Yes, your parents can usually buy whatever they want, but the gift you get them will still mean a lot for a few reasons: it’s from their child, they may not have even known about the ‘perfect gift’ that you were planning on buying them, and most parents choose to spend their money of necessities, bills, and their children, so they enjoy getting gifts.

Before you stop reading and get sassy with me, I am not skipping Halloween or Thanksgiving. I am not just fast forwarding to Christmas. Fall is still my favorite season for way too many ways to name. I am simply trying to help out some fellow gift-givers find the perfect gift for their mom without having to settle or stress because of time restraints.

Birth Flower Jewlery Collection

Charm necklace: https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ekzr7mcxj87 Bracelet: https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ekzr9acxj87 Layered necklace: https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ekzr56cxj87

The first gift that I wanted to share is a jewelry line on mademymary.com. Made by Mary is such a beautiful jewelry shop. They do so many special things. My favorite collection is the birth flower collection. Each month has it’s own birth flower… similar to how every month has a birth stone. Made by Mary engraves the hand-drawn flowers onto their jewelry in such a beautiful way. (Can you tell, I kind of want one for myself?) You can choose if you want gold, rose gold, or silver and even how many flowers you get, depending on the piece you choose from. Any of these pieces would be perfect for your mom, grandma, or any new mom in your life. Just get it engraved with their children’s birth flowers on it.

Recipe Tea Towel

https://rstyle.me/~cz-b7mSS

I found this on Etsy and it is such a genuine gift for any sentimental mom. These towels use a photo of a handwritten recipe from a loved one and have it printed on the towel. You can choose what style you want to do and if you want to add any special touches. This gift is a really good idea for your mom if you have handwritten recipe cards from her mom or grandmother.

Family Photoshoot

This is one that I have been thinking about for years. Moms love photos of their kids. Especially once all of their kids have grown and it is so hard to get them all in one place at the same time. This is something that I know my mom, grandma, and mother-in-law would all enjoy. You can do this one of two ways: You could do a photoshoot of just the children before Christmas and gift your mom the digital copies or a photobook or you could print a card of some sort, letting your mom know that you booked a photoshoot for a specific time or day after Christmas so the whole family can be there.

Massage or Spa Day

We did this for my mother-in-law a few years back. I went to massage Envy in Baton Rouge and got a gift card with $50 on it, which is good for a one hour massage there. Use google to find a local spa or massage therapy place near you and talk to them about a gift card or a package that you could gift someone for the holidays. A good company will find some way to accommodate that request if they don’t already have something prepared. This gift is a good way to tell your mom that you love her and give her a much needed day away from you, your siblings, and your dad after the holidays.

Barefoot Dreams

Socks: https://rstyle.me/cz-n/emxnx7cxj87 Blanket: https://rstyle.me/cz-n/emxn7tcxj87 Robe: https://rstyle.me/cz-n/emxpcncxj87 Pajamas: https://rstyle.me/cz-n/emxpf4cxj87

A Barefoot Dreams robe, blanket, pair of socks, or pajama set would be such a great gift for any mom, especially if she is home a lot. Get one of these items or get a few and make a gift basket for her. These items are all extremely soft and comfortable. I know for a fact that the moms in my life would be all over the socks and the robes. This is a great, practical gift that your mom will use on a daily basis.

There are so many more gifts your could give your mom this year that she will love, but if you were stuck, I hope reading this gave you some ideas for some Christmas gifts. Happy Holidays!

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Fun, Budget Friendly Halloween Costumes

October is here & that means Halloween is right around the corner ! Planning Halloween costumes is a huge deal for me I love finding cute costumes every year & when Cody will dress up along with me, it makes it all the better! Today I am going to share some of my favorite costumes that I’ve done with Cody through the years !

INSIDE OUT CHARACTERS

Joy and Anger. Sorry it is so blurry. It’s a pretty old picture.

These costumes were so easy and you can do them by yourself, as a couple, with friends, or as a family. For our clothes, we just went to goodwill and found clothing similar to what our characters wear & then we took a trip to the costume store to pickup body paint and a wig for me. They only had long blue wigs so I had to cut it myself, but that wasn’t too hard…it just made a little mess.

A HUNTER AND HIS DEER

If you live in louisiana and your man likes to hunt, this one will be so cheap and easy. He just needs to dress in camo and find a toy shot gun. For the deer costume you can find one of the animal costume kits that have the ears and tail or you can make them. (like I did) Then, just paint your face & you’ll be set!

STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

This one was so easy and my husband prepared everything by himself! He just needs a shirt with lightning on it . He cut and sewed his own, but you can probably buy one or make one with a cricut if you don’t know how to sew. For the female part of the costume , you will need to actually burn some clothes, so use old clothes or buy some from goodwill. You will also need an umbrella that you can burn too. The secret is to burn small holes in your clothing and all over the umbrella that leave singe marks around the hole. Use lots of shampoo to make your hair stand up and find black makeup to brush on random parts of your body to give the illusion that you are “fried”.

Pocahontas and John Smith

Okay this is really just an indian and a pilgrim, but I like to spice it up and give it a Disney flare. My indian costume was made with a pillow case and alot of creativity. The pillow case just had holes cut for the arms and head. Next, accent pieces were added to the neck and bottom to give the look a more “indian” feel. Finally, a head piece and a belt were made to tie the look together. I recommend wearing moccasins or going barefoot so you don’t throw off the rest of the costume… and don’t be afraid to get creative with face paint.

For the pilgrim, we used a black button-up shirt and black joggers. Both can be found at walmart or the dollar general for super cheap. You can find a pilgrim hat or a tall black hat at the costume store for cheap. Finally, use a white cloth for the neck piece and make a belt with a large belt buckle to tie this piece together. Wear dress shoes with long white socks to keep the pilgrim look.

Flapper and Mobster

These outfits were originally bought for my 22nd birthday murder mystery party, but they can easily be a cool halloween costume. I found my flapper girl costume on amazon. It came with the dress, boa, gloves, head piece, and a fake long cigerette. I found my shoes on amazon as well. I wanted authentic 1920’s style shoes, but I think that any heel would work. Just make sure that the shoes match your outfit. I found my fishnet stockings at the costume store. They were about $10 and I wear them with everyday outfits now too.

The mobster outfit was an even easier costume. Cody already has a ton of suits, so he picked out one that he thought was fitting and he already had suspenders. We found his hat at the costume store and he found his shoes in his closet as well. I even let him buy a fake tommy gun prop from the costume store to emphasize what he was supposed to be.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our favorite Halloween costumes through the years. And hopefully this inspired you for Halloween this year. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to have a great costume. You just have to open your mind and get creative. (or find a creative friend. )

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Favorite Fall Activities

I am sitting outside, on my balcony right now and it is 73 degrees in Louisiana.The cool wind is blowing and I swear that I can smell pumpkin everywhere that I turn! So with this cooler weather, I am going to set aside the travel blogs and the summer ideas and pickup some seasonal topics. This week, I am going to give you a whole list of fun fall activities that you can do even with COVID regulations. There will be a mix of party, stay at home, and day time activities. Let’s go!

My first personal favorite activity is a murder mystery party. I love to throw a good party and this is one that we have started doing every fall. This is a perfect party to have with new guests that may not know each other because everyone plays a different part and has to speak to everyone at the party. This gives your guests the perfect opportunity to get out of their shell and get to know each other. You can also make the rounds last as long or as short as you would like and just hangout or sit at a fire when it’s over. You can find party packages by googling, but our favorite place to get them is mymurdermysteryparty.com

Go visit a haunted house or a haunted maze! I am sure that most places require you to wear a mask during this one, but it could still be so fun. Just bring a big group of friends and grab dinner before hand. These usually aren’t terrifying, but they are a great way to enjoy the halloween season.

Photo by Alyssa Fisher Photography

The next activity is more of a two in one. I love visiting the pumpkin patch and since it is outside it is a perfect place to go during COVID. You don’t have to worry about wearing a mask usually and you can stay as far away from people as you would like. The reason I said that this was more of a two in one is because of what happens after the pumpkin patch. Once everyone has their perfect pumpkin picked out, head to the store and get some tools to carve or paint pumpkins. I prefer to paint my pumpkins because it isn’t as messy and it keeps the pumpkin good for a longer period of time, but to each his own. If you enjoy carving pumpkins, carve to your heart’s desire. If you like to paint, just remember to give your pumpkin time to dry.

This is probably the most laid back and pro social distance idea on this list. Movie night. Get all your girlfriends together or just grab your guy and binge watch your favorite fall movies! I would defnitely have all of the Halloween Town movies and Hocus Pocus on my list!

A halloween costume party is a given at this time of year! Tell all your friends to put on their favorite costumes, get a bunch of fun fall games prepared, gather fire wood, and fill the table with all the yummiest fall snacks you can find. This is another party idea, but this idea is a classic and can be as chill or as put together as you choose. Just don’t forget to do a little costume contest at the end and enjoy yourself.

A bonfire is fall given in the south! Around here, having the first bonfire of the year is a privilege and once someone starts a bonfire, they usually occur every weekend until the weather begins to warm up. Fall is the perfect time for a bonfire because the weather is cold enough to enjoy a warm fire, but it is warm enough to enjoy being outside. I am not a cold weather person, so this is very important to me! hah!

Photo by Alyssa Fisher Photography

Another great fall activity is just going on a walk. For real! I love to watch the leaves change( though that is super rare in Louisiana) and soaking up  all the cool weather. Just find a nearby park and go take a stroll. Take time to look at the sky, the leaves, and the animals.

The final activity on my list is baking! I love to bake in the fall. All of the warm toasty tastes of the fall comfort food just gives me chills. You can get so creative with this and there are even pre made cookies and easy recipes for those who don’t have a talent for cooking.

Alright, so now that our creativity has been awakened and the world hasn’t completely ended from COVID, go out and enjoy fall. Try some of these activities, put your own spin on them, or come up with your own! Comment and let me know what your favorite fall activity is! Have a great day and Happy Fall Y’all!!

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10 Best Camping/ Outdoor Products

Camping and traveling are a big part of our lives. Having the right gear can ensure that you enjoy your time…wherever you may be. Today’s post is about our top 10 recommended camping products/gear.

1.Ozark Trails 6 Person Tent

This tent has been a life saver. Before getting this tent, we had a pop-up tent that we absolutely loved…until we didn’t. It always had a problem with the zipper and then it finally gave out in November 2019. The zipper broke and we were caught in a tropical storm. When we got this Ozark Trails tent, we were so over-the-moon happy with it and still are. We can fully stand up in it, it has LED lights inside of it that are battery powered. It is also a pop-up tent, so it is super easy to set up and take down. We have not had a problem with it yet.

2. 2-Person Sleeping Bag

This is really good for couples and has been a life saver for us. We bought it for our 1st camping trip after we were married. It keeps us warm because it holds in body heat and it isn’t much bulkier than a normal sleeping bag. So, you don’t have to waste space with 2 sleeping bags or worry about forgetting one of them. For extremely cold weather, put a blanket inside the sleeping bag and cover your head. It will keep you so warm and toasty.

3. Mess Kit

This is a life saver for any camper! These pots are small, but they can get the job done! Before we got a camp stove, we used to use these on grills and fire pits that were provided at the camp site. We have cooked so many things from pancakes to spagetti. It is a must have if you plan on a longer trip and you aren’t going to be eating hotdogs and marshmallows everyday.

4. Ozark Trails Camp Stove

This has been the ultimate life saver when camping. No more scrambling food over a fire. No! This stove is fueled by the mini propane tanks and it is so easy to use. It cools down in under 30 minutes. You do have to use something to help start the flame. The best thing to use is an electric lighter. The wind won’t stop the flame from blowing out because there is no flame, there is a safety button on the lighter, and it stays charged for such a long time. Thanks to this stove, we have gone from cooking mediocre foods to cooking normal foods that we would cook at home. For example: on our most recent camping trip we had a spagetti dinner with a side of cooked down green beans.

5. Igloo BMX Cooler

This ice chest works so well. We bought it for our most recent trip because we were going to be gone for 3 weeks. We needed something large enough to hold all of our groceries (milk, cheese, meat, etc.), but we also wanted to make sure we weren’t going to be buying ice to refill it everyday. It kept ice for days. We filled it up and 3 days later the ice hadn’t event melted. It also has a drain on it so you can easily empty the water from the melted ice. This cooler was $100 and so worth it. Would buy it again and again if we had to.

6. Ozark Trails Cooler Bag

This cooler bag is one of our favorites for camping, beaching, or just plain traveling. It is small and light weight. It doesn’t hold water for too long. (1-2 days depending on how much stuff you keep in there. More stuff = less ice) When we camp, we use the big ice chest to keep our groceries and drinks and we use the small ice bag to carry what we need into the tent. It is so light weight and doesn’t take up a ton of room. Perfect for a night in a tent or even a picnic.

7. Puppy Water Bottle

I am not going to lie. We just bought this for our most recent trip, but it was a game changer! We got it so we could easily give Zoey water when hiking, but found out that it was also good for our long car rides. All you do is fill the bottom section with water. When your pup wants something to drink, just flip the safety switch and push the button to fill the bowl. So stinking easy and you can carry it anywhere!

8. Tent Kit

We found this tent kit for cheap on Amazon. It has all the little tools we need to help us in rocky areas. It comes with extra tent stakes, a mallet to drive them into the ground, a tool to pull them out of the ground, and a little broom to sweep up any dirt that you may track in. It is easily something we could do without, but we wouldn’t want to because it makes camping life so much easier.

9. Ozark Trails Fanny Pack

I begged Cody for this fanny pack for our anniversary. It is big enough that it can carry our lunches, phones, and Zoey’s water bottle inside. It also has 2 pouches for water bottles on the outside and it feels alot better than carrying a backpack during a hike. It puts no pressure on your back and you can easily grab whatever you need in the moment because it’s right in front of you.

10. First Aid Kit

A first aid kit is a must when camping. You never know when you are going to burn yourself, trip, cut yourself, etc. There are so many ways to hurt yourself outdoors. Having a first aid kit is just a little extra assurance that you won’t get any kind of infection.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found some of these products useful. I linked all of the products below. Let me know if you tried a product and what your thoughts were. Have a great week!

Here are the links to the products:

. 6-Person Tent

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqarecxj87

. Sleeping Bag

(This isn’t the exact one we have, but it’s similar and has good reviews.)

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbg9cxj87

.Mess Kit

( These aren’t the exact ones we own either, but they are good price, with good reviews, and one kit even has a few extra pieces you may need.)

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbstcxj87

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqbnucxj87

.Camp Stove

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqccqcxj87

.Igloo Ice Chest

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ehgijecxj87

.Cooler Bag

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqcmhcxj87

.Puppy Water Bottle

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ef4swicxj87

.Tent Kit

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqb73cxj87

.Fanny Pack

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/ea9ecicxj87

.First Aid Kit

https://rstyle.me/cz-n/egqb6acxj87

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How to Plan a Last Minute Road Trip

It’s no secret that Cody and I love to travel. We aim to go somewhere new each month. But, did you know that most of our trips are not long, thought-out trips? In fact, we usually leave within 2 weeks or deciding we want to go somewhere. Once a destination is in our brain, we are ready to hit the road that day. In today’s post, I’m going to go over what goes into planning a trip last minute.

The first step to taking any trip is to figure out your destination. We usually think of a state first and then start googling places to go in that state. I thoroughly do my research for each place. I look up things to do and I look up pictures of the location on instagram to see if it’s actually up our alley.

Once I have our final destination in mind, I usually look at the route to get there. If it’s going to be a long road trip, we usually try to make 1-2 stops along the way. I try to look into the places just as thoroughly . I find cities that we are going to be passing through and google things to do there, places to stay, and pictures on instagram. If the city looks good, I add it to the trip.

Next , I decide if we are going to be staying in hotels, Airbnbs, or camping . The weather plays a big part in the decision. If it gets over 80 degrees, we usually vote not to camp. If the weather is nice, we also have to look into campgrounds. Never assume camping is just available. We have stayed in some pretty sketchy campgrounds because we didn’t do our research. Call and check the prices (do you really want to pay more than a hotel to sleep in a tent?) , look at photos and ratings. Make sure it isn’t sketchy and it lives up to your standards. Tents aren’t that hard to break into, so a safe campground is the best option.

Next, is my favorite part…and most people’s least favorite:making lists. I make a list for what food we are going to eat. ( I don’t research restaurants until we are there so that we can actually look at cool places and get recommendations from locals) Then, I start my packing list. I try to list what we need besides clothes. (Including cooking gear, towels, bath bag supplies, and snacks) Before I list out my clothes I make a list of outfits for each day. This helps to keep me from over packing and forgetting stuff. I also usually add 1 or 2 more shirts incase an accident happens . (If you know me, you know this is necessary.)

The last thing to do is week-of prep: Cleaning the house, double checking the list, cleaning the car, making sure the car is in good condition (tires, oil,battery, etc.), and loading the car.

That’s it. That’s the trick. You are going to run into pot holes during you trip. It isn’t going to go perfect. Be prepared for the worst and find little ways to enjoy yourself.

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Going Back to Work After Three Months: What I Wish I had Done.

Monday made one month since I went back to work after exactly three month off. This is something that most of us are facing or are going to have to face in the near future. In today’s post I’m going to share a few things I wish I had done before going back to work and over all how this past month has been for me.

The first thing I wish I would have done is get my sleep schedule back on track. During self quarantine, my sleep schedule got really confused. I was staying up until 4 a.m. and waking up at 11 a.m., sometimes even 12 p.m. I am a barista, so I have to be at work as early as 5 a.m. some days. Not fixing my sleep schedule bit me in the butt and over all made me exhausted everyday for the next two weeks.

The next thing I wish I would have done before starting work is get into some type of routine that fit work into it. My quarantine routine worked great. I got all my housework and school work done everyday , worked out, went on a walk with my husband, and was ready to hangout and relax by 10 p.m. that was my routine. When work got thrown into the mix it put everything to a halt. I still haven’t gotten caught up on dishes and I haven’t worked out since I started work again.

The last thing I would have done is write more. I would have gotten caught up on my school work and on my blog posts, so I wasn’t hustling to get everything done each week. I’ve gotten in a good groove with all of these things recently, but when I first started work again, it was awful.

Over all, this month at work has been a challenge. I have worked more often than I planned to and been exhausted everyday when I got home. I just recently (about a week ago) got into a good groove and got my whole daily routine and schedule planned out. I have seen more productivity from myself in the past two weeks than I had the 2 months before everything shut down.

If you are starting work again soon, go easy on yourself and give yourself lots of grace. Things around your house are probably going to be chaotic for the next few weeks. That is okay. It will get better. Thanks for reading and if you have already gone back to work, leave some comments below about what you struggled with or advice you may have!

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Blind Pizza Tasting. What Frozen Pizza Is The Best?

On July 1st, my husband turned 24. That Friday we celebrated by inviting some of his friends over for a small party and a blind frozen pizza taste test. In today’s post, I’m going to share how we did it, what the guys thought of each pizza, and what the end results were.

I bought five different brands of frozen pizza: Red Baron, Totinos, Freshetta, Great Value, and DiGiorno. I cooked all 5 pizzas (wrapping the ones that were cooked first in foil and placing them in a warming tray so they would stay hot.) When they were done we sat the guys down at the table and served them each a slice of the first pizza. They were not told what brands they would be eating before hand or while they were eating them. We served the guys one slice at a time and let them take their time tasting, commenting, and ranking the slice they ate. I asked them to rate it on a scale from 1-10 and wrote their numbers down. I got the final number for each pizza by adding up all of their responses . (For example one brand was rated 6,4,5 8,6. So I added 6+4+5+8+6=24 . So, 24 was the final score for that pizza.)

The first pizza that the guys were served was DiGiorno. The guys really liked it, but immediately guessed that it was DiGiorno. One guy said, ” I like the sauce, but it’s a little greasy.” Another said, ” I didn’t really like it, but it was worth eating. It was better than average.” The final score for DiGiorno was 24.

not my photo

We then moved on to Great Value. Cody has eaten a double stacked Great Value pizza and liked it, so I thought it would be interesting to toss into the mix. This one was not a fan favorite. “This dough looks like it was microwaved, not like it was put in an oven.”, one guy said. Another said, ” This tastes like you got cardboard and soaked it in pizza sauce.” “If there was a pizza made for dogs, this would be it. This is nasty.” , another guy commented. The over all score for Great value was 11.

not my photo

Next up on the tasting table was Red Baron. On a normal night this is our favorite frozen pizza to buy. Tonight, we saw that this pizza was average. (Cody claims it’s just because I cooked it wrong.) There weren’t many comments on this one. It wasn’t good or bad enough to get a comment out of the men. One guys said, ” This is better than the last one, but still disappointing.” The only other comment made said,”The first taste was terrible…but now it’s not bad.” The final score for Red Baron was a 21.

not my photo

Freshetta was the next brand to be tried. It had the most positive reviews. The guys thought they wouldn’t like it because it sounded “healthy” , but it took them by surprise. In the cooking process, the pizza did burn a little but that did not stop the positivity. “This is quality pizza.”, was one comment. Another said, ” This one has a more meaty taste to it.” The final score for Freshetta was 32.

not my photo

Next, we ate Totinos. Everyone knew what it was. It wasn’t truly in the competition, but we had to do it! Someone described it on point when they said, “It feels like we are trying to rate our childhood, not pizza.” Another said, “This tastes like Totinos, not pizza.” This one tied with our winner for number one with a high score of 32.

not my photo

So, the end results for ojr pizza contest were:

*insert drumroll*

First place : Freshetta with a score of 32/50.

Second place : Totinos (if you are counting it as a pizza) with a score of 32/50.

Third place: DiGiorno with a score of 24/50.

Fourth place : Red Baron with a score of 21/50.

5th place…the loser: Great Value with a score of 11/50.

This activity was so fun to work on and such an easy task to try at home. Thanks for reading along. If you have ever tried any of these pizzas, leave you opinion in the comments. And if this post inspired you to try a blind taste test at home make sure to let me know how it went ! Happy tasting!

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Living in a Tent for a Week Chattanooga, Tennessee

This time last month Cody and I were in Tennessee living in a tent. Yes you heard that right. For a whole week in June we slept in a tent… and it actually wasn’t bad. This weeks post is going to be all about that week: what we did, where we went, and how we survived living in a tent for a week in the summer with a dog.

Originally we wanted to spend our anniversary in Texas on Lake Travis, but due to the pandemic we decided it was best to go to Tennessee. The weather was going to be perfect for camping, so we looked around for different camp sites to set up camp at. We finally landed on Lookout Mountain KOA. It was reasonably priced, nice, and it wasn’t booked up yet! Although this campground isn’t actually in Tennessee, it’s right on the state line.

Our Campground was alot nicer than we expected. We had showers and multiple bathrooms. Our campsite was also more closed off from everyone else and every tent site has water and electricity. The woman in the campground store was so nice. We went in every day for ice and by the second day she knew us and would always ask what adventures we had gone on that day and how our stay was.

We ate at a few restaurants, but we also cooked at our campsite using our Ozark Trail camping stove. We cooked spagetti, garlic bread, eggs, toast, and sausage on our stove. It worked so well and helped us expand our food options since we were there for a week. (We knew hot dogs over the fire wouldn’t cut it every night)

Our camping stove

On the night of our anniversary, we decided to go on a date. There was a local pizza restaurant and winery pretty close to our camp site. The Lookout Winery exceded our expectations. They are family owned and make real italian, wood fired pizzas. They even import their ingredients from Italy. The owners wife was talking to us about their pizzas and wine. We did a wine tasting and found out that all of their wines are homemade in the restaurant and made with no chemicals. I didn’t know this before, but most wines have chemicals in them to preserve them and those chemicals give you hangovers. So, the owner actually told us that with their wines you don’t get any hangovers. We did the sampling deal for all 15 wines (we shared and it was 1 oz. of each flavor) and they gave us a sheet to rate each wine. We spent the evening enjoying our wine and pizza and watching the sunset on the lake. It was so beautiful and a great way for us to celebrate. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in/visiting the area around Chattanooga . They really had a passion for what they do and a kindness like no other toward their customers.

Pizza from Lookout Winery
Pizza and Wine tasting at Lookout Winery

We also stopped for lunch at the Terminal Brew House in Downtown Chattanooga . We had Zoey with us, so we had to sit outside in the heat, but their patio was so beautiful and shaded us from the hot sun. We shared a baked chicken with peach salsa and a flight of beer. One of my favorite things to do when I visit a brewery is to get a flight of beer, mainly because I love drinking out of the little glasses, but also because it gives you an opportunity to try different beers and find one you like. At this particular brewery, they had a flight with six beers that offered one of each of their beers. Overall our food and service was amazing. Everyone was so nice and accommodating. Our waiter even brought out a bowl of water for Zoey to stay cool.

Beer Flights at Terminal Brew House
Happy Zoey at Terminal Brewhouse

Though the food was beyond what we expected to eat while camping, our main goal for this trip was to explore outdoors. We visited a lot of different swimming holes and went white water rafting. There are alot of different companies that you can go with if you choose to go white water rafting. We chose Quest Expeditions. There was absolutely no social distancing involved, so if you are worried about that I would probobly look into other activities. We were loaded on a bud and then paired off for our rafts. The guide taught us how to use our paddles, what all of the different terms meant (because times are tough when your boat is about to flip!) ,and showed us what to do if we went over board. The rapids weren’t too crazy. They were rough enough to have fun and create a challenge, but not too rough.(To give you an example, there were kids out there in rafts) Our trip took about an hour and a half to go all the way down the river and no one from our group was thrown overboard.

We visited two different swimming holes that involved hiking. This first swimming hole that we visited was ‘The Blue Hole’ in Soddy Daisy. We weren’t sure where we were going, we just started hiking. We hiked for about two miles before we got to the swimming hole.(There are so many different swimming holes along the way if two miles is a long way for you. We just had a goal to get to The Blue Hole.) The hiked involved crossing a stream with a heavy current. (Also not a great place to go if you easy get hurt.) Once we got to the swimming hole, it was worth the hike. The hike weaned a lot of people out, so there weren’t a tone of people there, the water was crystal clear, and there was a diving spot where people jumped off a cliff.

The other swimming hole we went to was Foster Falls. It was a much shorter hike , but it was mostly down hill and steep. I almost fell twice ( luckily I caught myself. ) it isn’t the best place to visit if you have no coordination and you are walking a dog. The swimming hole had a huge waterfall and clear water, but it was packed. There were so many people there that it was hard to find a spot to keep our things. Luckily everyone there was pretty chill.

Foster Falls

Overall, I loved our trip to Tennessee. The weather was great the whole time and there were so many things to do in the area (even with the riots and pandemic happening.) If you ever find yourself in the area, make sure to stop by some of these places and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading along !

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A Week in Puerto Vallarta

I really wanted to share more travel stories lately. So, today I am going to be sharing our honeymoon destination. I’ll be going over what we did , where we ate, and how we afforded it.

We knew that we wanted to go to Mexico for our honeymoon. We just had to choose between Puerto Vallarta and Tulum. Honestly either option was golden. We ended up choosing Puerto Vallarta because we wanted to visit Playa del Amor. It had been on our bucketlist for years and this was our chance to make that a reality. Sadly, it was not open when we went. We were twenty and this was our first real trip that we booked ourselves. We should’ve looked into it. So, Playa del Amor is still on our bucketlist, but I promise to share when we actually make it.

Playa Del Amor (not my photo)

We did get to go on three excursions. Our hotel had a deal for buy two get one free. We had so many to choose from, but we chose to go on a day trip on a private island, a dinner show on a private island, and go zip lining. All of our packages were through vallarta adventures.

The day trip on the private island was a blast. We took a boat ride to the island where we were greeted with breakfast tacos. They had an itinerary of different things going on through the day. We did a mezcal tasting, went snorkeling, and after lunch, we hung out in our own little spot on the beach. It was perfect for a romantic honeymoon experience.

Next, we visited the same island for a dinner show. We got a dinner buffet on the beach and a tribal show after dinner. I had never seen anything like it, so it was so fun! This is a really cool experience for families or couples .

Our zip line experience was unlike any other zip line I have ever been on. It was such a fun time. They joked with us the whole time and took so many photos of us. It wasn’t just zip lining either. We scaled a tree, bungee jumped, zip lined on our stomachs (superman style), and went down a water slide. Whether you are traveling in a group, as a family, or on a romantic trip, this experience is a blast!

The rest of our trip was really chill. We just took the time to relax after months of wedding planning and actually feel like adults on a vacation without our parents. (LOL) We stayed in a marriot hotel that Cody ended up finding on Groupon for a great price. This hotel was more of a resort and had so many things to do. (Which is why most of our chill days were spent here) The day we arrived, we went to the spa to get a massage. It was a full blow spa too. There were packages you could buy, hot tubs, saunas, and tranquil music playing. After our massage, they gave us a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. (Talk about knowing the way to my heart!) We spent another chill day at the pool where we were served sushi by a chef in the pool and got to watch a scuba class take place. Our last chill day, we walked around the market and gift shops.

Most of our meals were eaten at the hotel. There were a number of restaurants to eat at and room service. But on occasion, we would go out on the town away from all the tourist places and checkout the local restaurants. There were two restaurants that we ate at and both were amazing. Our favorite of the two was Pipi’s. They made guacamole fresh at the table and one day they even had a mariachi band come play for us. The food was amazing.(This was where Cody determined that he actually liked mexican food) The other restaurant that we ate at was Casa Tradicional Cocina Mexicana. This restaurant was a little more touristy than Pipi’s, but the food was just as good. The service at both restaurant’s was remarkable. I highly recommend that if you take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, step outside of the resort and tourist driven parts of the city and come visit one of these restaurants. You will not be disappointed.

Getting guacamole at Pipi’s

So we did a few things to pay for this trip. Obviously alot of the money came from our wedding day, so we didn’t have to budget too much. We also were still learning how to travel on a budget, so when we came home times were really tough… like ramen noodles for a month tough. We did, however, find ways to cut corners when we could. Like I said, Cody found our hotel/resort on groupon. He also used one of the cheaper airlines (Southwest). Normally we would not use Southwest because we don’t like how they do their seating, but if you are only looking at prices, they have some pretty great ones. The only other thing that we really did to save money was use coupons. The woman at the help desk helped us out with this. She gave us a coupon for Pipi’s and gave us the package deal for our excursions.

This was by far one of my favorite places that I have visited. Maybe it was because it was my honeymoon or maybe it was just that good. One thing is for sure, I cannot wait to visit again… I’m thinking five year anniversary? (LOL) Anyways, thanks for reading along and, once travel is back on the board, I hope you feel inspired to visit this beautiful destination that holds such a special place in my heart!

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Highs and Lows of My Wedding Day

I have typed, deleted, and re-typed this post so many times trying to figure out what direction I wanted to go with it. So many details go into a wedding and mine was no exception. I am going to split my wedding day post into 3 posts. Anyway, today I am going to be writing about my favorite and least favorite parts about my wedding. So, let’s get started!

HIGHS :

I really had to think about what I wanted to say my favorite parts of my wedding were. I decided to give it a number. So, these are my top three favorite parts of my wedding day.

1) THE NIGHT BEFORE & GETTING READY. I put these two things as one detail because they were pretty similar. The night be fore my wedding, my bridesmaids joined me for dinner where I gave them their gifts. It was a ton of fun and all of my favorite girls were together at one time. The night didn’t end there. We were having a giant sleep over at my townhome afterward. I gave one bridesmaid my key while another bridesmaid came to my dad’s house to help me finish packing. We headed to the townhome after and I did not believe what was waiting for me. ( I really wish I had the video) The five bridesmaids that had been waiting at my house had turned out the lights, lit my feaux centerpiece candles and had them positioned through the house , and threw clothes throughout my house , and were playing **sensual** music. It was honostly hilarious! We stayed up nearly all night finishing some DIY wedding decor & then all 8 of us passed out throughout my 600 square foot house. The next day, we headed to PJ’S Coffee before heading to the venue. Getting ready was just as much of a party. We had mimosas, coffee, mockmosas, cheese trays, veggie trays, yogurt, breakfast bars, and donuts. We turned some music on blaring and got the party started !

2) THE RECEPTION. What I mean by this is the part of the reception where the lights turn off and everyone is dancing. I used to not be a dancer, but at my wedding I danced. All of my closest friends were there and this time was honostly just filled with joy and laughter. It is by far the purest amount of joy I have ever had. (Laughing and dancing with my best friends and family)

3)THE REHEARSAL DINNER. I’m not even sure if this should count, but it’s my post, so it counts. The reason this made my list is because it was basically a small wedding with all of my favorite people. We did the normal walk through of the ceremony, talked about how we wanted to decorate, and then headed to Tope la for the dinner. We had our very own building complete with toasts and champagne . It was a small party. Like a wedding pre-party!

LOWS:

I feel like so many things went wrong with my wedding . I could name way more negative aspects than positive and I hate that. But I have to pick three.

1) MY SISTER. During family portraits, my sister was inside and had a seizure. She was 12 and had never had a seizure before. (She was diagnosed with epilepsy later on that summer) It was pretty much the scariest thing I have ever been through. It was 30 minutes before the ceremony and my sister couldn’t remember where she was or what was going on. I cried so much. I honostly wanted to call off the wedding, sign the marriage certificate, and head to the hospital. But, everyone was there and I couldn’t leave. The ambulance took her and my grandmother away and I dried my eyes, finished photos, and got ready to head down the aisle.

2)THE WEDDING COORDINATORS. First, I had a wedding coordinator that I disliked from the day I met her. She had a negative energy that I didn’t want to be a part of my big day. But she was there. The same lady pushed me out of the way while my makeup was being done so she could hang colorful flags from the balcony. When I asked what those were for, she said they had a summer camp coming tomorrow and were going ahead and setting up for it . Later, during our couple portraits, our photographer asked us to walk for the type of picture she wanted to take. As soon as we walked off of our portrait spot, they put up an inflateable water slide where we had been taking photos. The coordinator also yelled at me for saying that I didn’t care if I was rained on a little during my ceremony and told me I HAD to have the ceremony inside. Finally, she told me that I was cutting my wedding cake wrong. All of it was annoying.

3)THE RECEPTION. Before the dancing began. During this time, I had numerous people coming up to me asking when certain things were going to happen. Someone even told me that we were running out of food. (Later, I found out that we had PLENTY of left overs.) It was the most stressful thing that I have ever lived through. I was trying to be happy, but was torn between aggravation because of people micro-managing and wanting to break down in tears because of my sister.

My wedding may not have been the happiest day of my life. But there are plenty of memories that I will cherish forever. This is right before life got chaotic and we stopped seeing a lot of our friends. We saw family that we rarely see. We had so many people there to celebrate us. As stressful as it was, it’s a great thing to look back on. Thanks for reading. I can’t wait to share more about this day later on!

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Our First Trip after Three Months of Isolation: Pensacola, Florida

Things are finally starting to get somewhat normal after being inside for three months. My favorite part of everything opening back up is that I get to travel again. Last weekend we took advantage of the beaches opening and went on a small weekend trip with another couple to Pensacola. That trip is what this post is going to be about.

I am not sure why, but somehow none of our trips ever go as planned. We always have at least one ridiculous story to tell. This weekend was no exception. We left late at night because our friend wasn’t getting off of work until around 5. We loaded the car and headed off to our Airbnb. We got our first taste of fast food on our way to the beach. We stopped at Raising Canes and it was like eating gold…minus the burnt toast and burnt french fries. The rest of our trip went pretty smooth…until we got to Florida. As soon as we crossed the state line. We got warnings that there was a traffic stop ahead.(keep in mind that we are still under a stay at home order in Louisiana and it is 1:30 a.m…we were freaking out.) we cruised up to a group of about 10 police units . They stopped us and asked us a bunch of questions. They were not wanting people coming from the states with high rates. Somehow, we made it through this checkpoint and sped down the interstate before they saw our Louisiana plates.

It was 2 a.m. when we arrived at our Airbnb. We always check the inside of the house out before unloading our stuff. (Just to make sure everything is safe and looks good) We typed in the code for the door, tried the knob, and it did not open. We looked at the check in details once more and saw nothing about the lockbox on the doorknob. We called our host constantly for about 30 minutes. We spent a while trying to pick the lock and open the door with a credit card with no luck. Finally, Cody tried the window and it was open. He crawled through the window of our Airbnb at 2:30 a.m. and opened it up for us. (I’m sure if anyone else saw us they would have called the police.) Once we were all in the house, we noticed that it had not been cleaned. There were hairs in the beds, a dirty towel in the room, dirt all over the floor, and dirty clothes in the tub. I was disgusted.

We took a few pictures for our host and tried to call around to find a hotel to sleep in. It was 3 a.m. and we were all exhausted. Nearly every hotel was booked up due to a swamp fire that had happened earlier that day in the area. We finally found a holiday Inn that had 1 room left and we took it! We rushed over there and by the time we settled in, it was 4 a.m.

The next morning, our host refunded us and apologized for the unclean house. He told us that the cleaners got confused, but he would have everything sorted out before we returned for the night. We packed up our things, loaded the car and went to checkout. The hotel manager even gave us breakfast to-go bags since we had slept through the free breakfast.  We had to make a quick stop at the store to get our groceries and sunscreen, then off we went!

We drove all the way to the end of the road where the dog beach was since we had my dog with us. We unloaded and set up our spot. The rest of the day was pretty normal. We swam, napped, and played fetch. The entire beach was social distanced. It was honestly kind of nice to not have another family sitting right next to us.

When we were done at the beach, we made our way to the gift shops. There was someone sitting at the door telling people to put their masks on before entering, but the rest of the shopping experience was no different. They still let us try stuff on and look around. The store also wasn’t pack, but I don’t know if that was their rules or just the fact that not a lot of people wanted to go in the stores.

After shopping, we made a reservation at Red Fish Blue Fish. We saw the restaurants were open and we couldn’t resist. It had been nearly three months without eating in a restaurant. When our reservation time came, we called to tell them we were on the way and they informed us that they ran out of food and had to close early. We still went to the beach in hopes that there would be another restaurant open. After driving around for a while, we decided to try Crabs. We were in luck! Crabs was open and still had food left. We opted to eat inside. Every other table was opened, and we got sat in the back corner away from everyone. The menu was limited, but still had some amazing food on it. I cannot explain how great it felt to sit inside of a restaurant and eat fried seafood!

That was pretty much the extent of our short celebration trip. We left and our bodies were fried … as they are after any good beach trip. As fun as it was, the screening scared us, and we will not be coming back to Florida until everything opens back up completely. Thanks for reading! I am happy to say that I am already planning our next trip and I cannot wait to tell you about it!

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Motherhood from the Perspective of Three Different Moms

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and while there is not a lot that most of us can do at this time to celebrate with our mothers, I did want to make a small post to celebrate them. This week, I talked to three mother’s that have a huge impact in my life. These women are all different, from their personalities to their age, and how many children they have. I thought it would be great to get insight from mothers in all stages of life to celebrate this time. I chose five questions to have these moms answer. They were:

1.How many children do you have?

2. What’s your favorite part about being a mom?

3.What’s your favorite memory of your kids?

4.Do you think your kids are more like you or their dad?

5.What is your least favorite thing about being a mom?

My mom and me

First, I asked my own mother. If you know me, you know that my mom and I have a strange relationship. She’s my best friend, but it’s more like a friendship where you get really mad at each other and don’t talk for a while, but then when you see each other again it’s like you were never apart. We have been through so much together and I really wouldn’t trade her or our relationship for the world.Here are her responses to my questions:

I’ve been sitting here for hours trying to answer these questions, but I can’t and I don’t know any mother that could.  Except for the first question of course. I have four kids. Olivia, Dylan, Andrew, and Kadyn.

You are asking me to look back and pick a moment that means the most and I can’t because there’s no one specific answer to these questions. How am I supposed to tell you what the best part about being a mom when the truth is, I don’t remember what it’s like NOT to be a mom.  I guess if I can’t remember what my life was like before I became a mother then it must not have meant very much.

Everyone has the idea that motherhood enables you to feel a particular kind of appreciation that is unique to the experience of parenting a child but for me, parenting is a kind of time travel. On the one hand, I can look at my children and I see them not just for who they are, but for who they are becoming. They give me these glimpses into the future (which, in turn, gives me hope that the world isn’t going to continue to be a massive dumpster fire). To sit here and try to tell you or anyone else a favorite memory I have with my kids is impossible because every moment that I have spent with my children is my favorite memory. I see my kids experiencing things for the first time and remembering how I felt to have similar experiences as a child, but yet it somehow feels brand new to me.

I really don’t know who my kids are more like. It’s almost like God picked two of the most imperfect people and put them together to create a masterpiece. You, Olivia, have your dad’s strength and determination but your love for writing, list making (lol), love of coffee, and finding beauty in the little things, I would like to think came from me. I know your wild & crazy side definitely did. Ha!

The best and worst part of being a mother is…well, being a mother. Watching your child grow up to actually be a good and responsible adult is bittersweet. On one hand I’m proud of them but on the other hand, it’s terrifying because I can’t protect them anymore. I can’t monitor who they talk to, where they go, or what they do. I have to trust them, and trust is not something I’m good at; and I know it’s selfish of me to say but the hardest part is being alone. Knowing that they don’t need me anymore. There are books on how to raise a child, how to cope with losing a child but no one ever tells you how to let them go as they grow. My kids are my world. Everything I am is because of them.

My grandma and me

Next, I asked my grandmother. My grandmother is my person. She has always been there for me. She is probably the person I am closest with other than Cody. Here were her responses to my questions:

I birthed two. My favorite part about being a mom is seeing they’re smiles, getting hugs and love, and seeing them succeed as adults, and as parents themselves.

I have so many memories. In my mind, I see Brandy’s large smile as she holds her new brother for the first time. For brandy, it’s carting around a large Siamese cat by its front legs then stuffing said cat into a doll carriage. Jamie loved his trucks and toys. He would sit watching tv with this collection of trucks , cars and action figures .

Are your kids more like you or their father? This is an interesting question. Jamie is like his dad in the sense that he can seem to separate himself from things. So, I guess he seems to have more of his dad’s personality and Brandy more mine.

My least favorite thing is when they were babies, having to leave them to go to work.  After their dad and I divorced, having to tell them no for things they wanted or wanted to do because I couldn’t afford it.

I will add that both had many influences in their lives which enriched them. My dad spent lots of time with them both since their own father didn’t. They had playmates in their cousins and were brought on adventures by my parents. Hopefully they both will look back on their lives with fondness

My mother-in-law and me

The last mother that I asked to answer these questions was my mother in law. I know there are a lot of jokes and stereotypes about women hating their mother-in-law, but I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better one or a better family to be married into. I asked her these question’s because she is my other mother and she raised the man I married, so I wanted to see her perspective of motherhood.  Here are her responses:

I have three children. My favorite part of being a mom has been to watch three tiny little humans grow up to be three amazing adults that can do anything they put their minds to.

I have so many favorite memories of all three but some of my favorite times were in our living room just listening to them laugh and play with one another. I always loved nighttime’s after everyone had their baths and we would sit and read stories or sing songs.

I think all three are a lot like both of us. Looks wise, I would say Lila looks most like Richard, Bella looks most like me, and Cody looks like his Podner. Personality wise, I think they all three have a lot of each of our traits.

I don’t have a least favorite thing about being a mom. It’s the hardest job I think there is and there’s never a day off once you become a mom but I wouldn’t ever say that I dislike even one thing about it.

As you can see, each woman had their own unique way of responding. They have all experienced motherhood differently and they are each in a different place in motherhood.  Motherhood is not something that one woman can describe and define for the whole world because it is different for everyone and that is beautiful. I am not a mother myself, but I loved hearing these answers from these moms and seeing how unique motherhood really is. Thanks for reading and if you are a mom, happy belated Mother’s Day!

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Silverton, Colorado

So, on my last post, I talked all about my road trip to Colorado. Well, once we arrived in Colorado, we stayed for about a week. We did not have an Airbnb booked or any kind of itinerary planned. (which is very out of my comfort zone)It was more of a spontaneous “what are we gonna do now?” kind of trip. Which, I am happy about because it led us to some pretty great places. In today’s post I’ll be sharing about the many places that we stayed, what we did in Silverton, and the (very few) places we went out to eat.

Like I said, we did not have anywhere lined up to stay, so we stayed in so many different, interesting places. You can read about the two nights that we went camping in Big Molas lake on my camping blog post. Both nights made my top 9 camping stories!

On this trip, we experienced our first stay in a hostel. We had never even heard of one before. We stayed at The Blair Street Hostel and to my surprise, it was actually a good experience. When we got there, the owner gave us a tour. She showed us where the kitchen, the bathroom, and our bedroom were. We were blessed enough to have our own bedroom. The only negative thing I will say about our experience was that we had to share a bathroom (including shower) with the rest of the guests and there was a shower curfew that we had to follow. (No showers after 10 p.m.)

Our next stay was in the Avon Hotel. This hotel was an old miner’s hotel and bar from old Silverton…back when the town was ran by gold miners. The new owners had just bought it and were refurbishing it. It was still under construction when we stayed… but we could tell that one day it was going to be on the must-stay list in Silverton. There was a full bar and restaurant on the main floor and a small library in the upstairs foyer. From my experience and the look of the photos on google now, I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Silverton, Colorado.

The last place we stayed during this trip is a small motel. It was the end of our trip and we needed somewhere small and cheap… and nothing is wrong with a little motel. The prospector motel was small and quaint, and the owner was so kind. We sat in his office when we were checking out and he was talking to us about so many things and the whole time he had such a big smile on his face.

During our trip we mostly walked around the town window shopping and rode ATV’s up the maintain trails. On one of our ATV rides we nearly fell off of a mountain. We tried to go up a steep incline on a mountain trail and some of the other vehicles infront of us began to slow. My dad was right in front of us and knew that he was not going to make it up unless he came back down. So, he yelled for us to back up and get out of the way before his brakes slipped. We began to go backward very carefully. We had a mountain and large rocks on one side of us and a cliff that was at least a 30 foot drop on the other side. Cody steered toward the side with the rocks, but our vehicle hit a rock at just the right angle and we were thrown off. I laid there with a 4-wheeler on top of me while my dad was still yelling and the only thing I thought was, “I guess I’ll just lay here. I can’t get up. Either he will run me over or someone will lift this bike off of me. We will just have to wait and see.” Obviously, someone got the bike off of me and everything was okay, but I know it could have been a lot worse.

On the days that we weren’t doing those things, we were off having our own little adventures. One of those adventures was going to see a ghost town. It is straight through the town and up the mountain. It was almost a two-hour trip from where we were staying, but it was a pretty cool thing to witness. We saw old homes and buildings (like an old jail). They were surrounded by meadows full of flowers and the greenest grass. We stayed for a little while before we had to hit the road to try to beat a rainstorm. We did not beat it… instead I learned a quick lesson about why I should always be carrying rain gear with me in Colorado in July. Rain and hail poured down on us while we were exposed on a four-wheeler. By the time we made it back to my family’s Airbnb our toes were blue and our bodies were feeling pretty stiff.

Part of the Ghost Town That We Found

We also experienced a mining tour. We toured the inside of a mountain and got to see antique mining gear and hear stories about a miner’s work day and how they would get the gold. It was a really interesting tour that I would highly recommend to anyone that loves history and nature.

The Old Hundred Mining Tour

We mainly ate with my family during this trip or ate some of our road trip food, but we did occasionally go out to eat. The first stop was at Handlebars food and saloon. We stopped here on our first day in town for dinner and it was right up our alley. Everyone in there seemed to be locals, so they kind of looked at us weird, but the food was amazing.

Our next stop was at the avalanche brewing company because we needed pizza and heard they had the best around. What we heard was not a lie. The pizza was amazing, and the restaurant had the perfect small-town feel. It even had a spot to sit outside with your pup!

 The only other place that we ate was the Coffee Bear. It was exactly what I needed to get my coffee fix and if you like italian cream sodas (which is my favorite!) , they have a very extensive Italian cream soda menu.

So, this pretty much sums up our trip to Colorado. It was such a fun, laid back trip and we got to spend time with our family. If you are ever traveling through Colorado, make sure to stop in the sweet little town of Silverton. Thank you so much for reading along with me and I cannot wait until the day that I can go on more trips and share more stories!

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Our Favorite Camping Stories

Cody and I love to travel, but sometimes we can’t afford a big, elaborate trip to escape reality. Camping is one of our favorite low budget and most adventurous ways to travel. When you have little to no money to spend, you can run into some interesting things that make for great stories. In today’s post, I am going to share some of our favorite and most interesting moments we have had while camping through the years.

  1. The Haunted Campsite: When going camping on a tight budget, Cody and I like to use freecapsites.com This website has a list of all kinds of campsites that are free because they are either ran by kind people, WMA’s, or abandoned. In March 2018, Cody and I decided to take a camping trip to Florida where we were actually going to stay at a free campsite. We drove for hours and around mid-night we could not find this campsite. The town we were in was abandoned and we were exhausted, but there was not even a gas station to stop at for a nap. We had to find this place. We were in the middle of nowhere. Around 1 a.m., we found the entrance to the campsite. It was a state park, which is weird because those usually are not free to stay in. There was a small, gravel parking lot with 2 trails and a dock. Next to one of the trails was a paper with a map of the park and some of its history. Cody and I began reading. We wanted to make sure this place was actually approved to camp in and see where we should go to set up camp. As we read, we learned that one of the trails on the property had been part of the trail of tears. Stories in the history section talked about a haunted presence that would cause people to do irrational things and some to disappear. No matter how exhausted we were, there was no way we were going to stay here tonight. We put that car in reverse and sped out if there. We had a go-to campsite that was only an hour and a half away. We would land there for the night. This was the night that we found out why these campsites are free.
  2. Sleeping Under the Swings: On the same night as the previous story, our go-to campsite was Vortex Springs. We have stayed here many times, our first trip here was back in 2016. We arrived around 3:30 a.m. and the campgrounds were pitch black. We tried to drive quietly so that we would not disturb the other campers. We found a spot and began setting up camp. We packed in very few things. We were just ready to crash. 3 hours later the sound of kids screaming and running into our tent woke us up. We tried to sleep through it, but it got to the point where we needed to see what was going on. I peeked my head out of the tent to find a slide just inches to the left. Somehow in the darkness and exhaustion we had set up our tent in the middle of a small playground. No wonder there were children everywhere.
  3. A dog in a Hammock-This is probably the worst experience I have ever had when camping. It was November 2017 and we wanted to camp in our hammock. This was already a bad idea because it was going to be under 30 ° that night, but we had our dog, Zoey, with us too. Zoey has been camping before and she loves it, so we figured she would do fine in the hammock too. So, we set up our hammock, added a comforter and a sleeping bag in it to keep us warm and cozy, which worked perfectly. We stayed up and roasted marshmallows (my favorite camping past time) for a while. When the time came, we piled into the hammock and put Zoey under the sleeping bag where she slept for a solid 30 minutes. Just as I began to doze off, I felt her wiggling … she was hot. This was the end of the peace for the night and the beginning of a nightmare. Zoey crawled to the top and laid on my legs on top of the sleeping bag. She never made it to sleep. Every time an animal would approach the camp site or rustle in the woods, she would freak out and bark obnoxiously. (I am eye rolling right now just thinking about it). Eventually we all decided it would be best if we slept the rest of the night in the car. So, we did and at 6 a.m. we came back home to finish sleeping. Now we know to never let a dog in a hammock at night.
  4. A 4 course meal on the beach: In October of 2016 we decided to go camping on the beach with one of our other couple friends, Naomi and Josue. They had found a campsite that is about half a mile walk down the beach and you can actually pitch a tent in front of the ocean. We arrived late at night and could not find the campsite area, so we found a motel outside of Pensacola Beach. This motel seemed sketchy, but it was the closest one and the price wasn’t terrible. Well, we thought the price wasn’t terrible until we got in the room. The bedsheets were still dirty and sloppily made, there was trash in the trashcan, dirt in the shower, and mold all over the room. We got out of that place so fast. There was no telling what we could’ve caught by staying there. We demanded our money and they guy at the counter understood. We found a red roof inn across town that was going to give us a discount because of the time. They charged us for their cheapest room and gave use a suite with a kitchenette and 2 queen beds. We stayed up all night watching married at first sight. When we woke up the next day, we set out to find our beach destination. Before going, we decided to pick up dinner. Naomi had found a groupon deal at a steakhouse. We each paid $15 and got a steak, 2 sides, a dessert, and a drink. Someone had the “bright” idea to eat it all at the campsite. What we failed to think about the walk. We all walked half a mile while lugging all of that food, our tents, our clothes, sleeping bags, ice chest, and a foldout picnic table. We kept dropping stuff, someone busted their drink, and someone dropped their dessert. It was a nightmare, but we made it, set up the table and enjoyed our food as the sun was setting. It was one of the coolest moments, but if anyone had seen us, they would’ve thought we were crazy.
  5. The onward store: This one is going to be really short, but it is a must. We were heading to camp in Arkansas for the weekend with our friends and we came up to a point in the trip where we were in the middle of nowhere. Cody had been complaining that he needed to use the bathroom for an hour before we finally came up to some sort of civilization. It looked like an old gas station, but it was closed, so the guys went behind what looked like an outhouse. While they were doing their business, I noticed a pretty official looking plaque in front of our car. The plaque read ” Here is the point where Theodore Roosevelt got his nickname “Teddy” . This is the spot where he refused to shoot the bear. ” My jaw dropped. Cody had just peed on a historical landmark, even more so a historical landmark of his favorite president!
  6. Redneck Paradise: We were going camping in a WMA area we had found a few months back. It was a huge chunk of land right on the Mississippi river. We were warned that Mississippi had been experiencing some flooding recently but figured this place would be fine…not really sure why. We arrived and realized very fast that this place was flooding. We didn’t even get a mile down it’s trail before we ran into a pit of water. We still needed somewhere to sleep though, so we googled some campsites in this empty town. The nearest place was a couple of hours away, so we began our journey again. We finally arrived at this campsite around 1 a.m. We drove around, picked our spot, then went to check-in. (Yes, the office was still open) The office was being ran out of someone’s house. The owners gave us a map and told us that they have a pool, a playground, and a museum. We were astonished and also confused as to where all of this was since we had already toured the campsite. We set up camp in the pitch black and piled into the tent for the night. When we woke up, the campsite looked completely different…not in a good way. Our tent was in a puddle of (what we can only hope was) mud, the playground was one single rusty swing, the pool was a plastic baby pool, and the museum was no where to be found. (Though, I am sure it would have been interesting) This was the most redneck campsite we had ever stayed at. We decided to head back to the WMA where we explored the dry places and pet some cows and we also took a trip to The Onward Store. (The historical sight from the last story) If you ever find yourself in Onward, Mississippi it is a nice little shop and their restaurant has some great food.
  7. Callin’ Colorado: In July 2018, we took a family trip to Colorado. My family planned to drive there in one day, but that was not Cody and my style. We decided to take 2 weeks off and take 4 days to get there. We stopped along the way (I’ll make a post about this trip another time),but when we finally got to Colorado, we still needed a place to stay. We googled a bunch of campsites and found one that was rated “The most beautiful campsite in the nation” It was after hours, so we could not reserve a spot, but this was our only option. When we got there, we drove around looking for a spot to set up the tent. We settled on a little spot tucked away in some trees. The roots were not bad, the spot was isolated, and it had a tree to stand behind. (Major priorities) Once we set up camp and ate, we crawled in the tent for bed. When we woke up, the view was overwhelming. When we had set up camp, we could not see any of our surroundings, but we were in a spot right on the lake with beautiful mountains surrounding us. It really took my breath away, because this was my first time seeing anything like it. The campsite was called Big Molas Lake, and it is definitely a bucket list destination.
  8. Green, Green Grass : One of our last nights in Colorado, we stayed at Big Molas Lake again. This time we did not get a lake front spot, but we found a nice field that looked like the biggest of the camping spots. We set up tent in the beautiful field and crawled in our tent to watch Netflix (basic, I know) About 30 minutes after settling down, we started to smell something strong. It had a slight smell of pot. This wasn’t uncommon in Colorado, but we cared because we thought someone was by our tent smoking when we knew that there were no tents around us. We got our phone flashlights out to inspect the area and what we found shocked us. There was no one by our tent…we had set up camp in the middle of a marijuana field. You heard me right. It went on forever the entire freaking field that we were staying in was full of pot, not grass at all. We decided we had better get back to our tent after we realized this. The stench filled our whole tent, but this was the only open spot on the property, so we had to stay. Our minds were still blown that this was an actual thing…marijuana was growing wild in Colorado. (My mind is still a little blown to be honest)
  9. Camping in the Storm:  In October 2019, we decided to go to Northern Alabama in the Appalachian Mountains. We stayed at The Cathedral Cavern State Park. We left after work and knew we would not be there until around 10 p,m., so we called and confirmed that we could stay. We got direction from google maps on how to get there and off we went. There was a huge storm the night we were heading there. We could barely see the roads and there were mountains all around us. Easily one of the scariest things to experience while driving. We saw the sign and knew we had made it to our destination. We found a campsite and waiting in the car for the rain to lighten up. When the rain got light enough , we set up the tent and started loading all of our stuff into it. As we were finishing up, the rain began to pour. Cody finished loading stuff in, while I used a towel to wipe the water out of the entry and set everything up inside. We finally got both dogs inside of the tent and decided to hunker down for the night. Cody crawled in, but when he tried to zip the tent, it would not zip. The screen zipped, but the rain flap was not having it. “Great!” We both said. We pulled everything as far from the door and edges of the tent as we could and laid a towel in the entry  to catch any water that may try to enter. We froze. I woke up at 4 a.m. to rain dripping on my face and my feet cold with water. I curled up in a ball and covered my face with the sleeping bag… this was going to have to wait until tomorrow. When we officially woke up for the day, all of our clothes, blankets, and our sleeping bag were soaked. Our entire tent had an inch of water covering the floor. We loaded everything back into the car and headed to the nearest laundromat to get everything dried off. We stayed here for about an hour, so we sat in the car eating sonic corndogs and watching Netflix while we waited. After everything was dry, we made our way to Walmart to buy a heater and a new tent. We were not going to spend another night like that again.
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Our Latest Adventure: Alberta, Canada

Canada. Why Canada? This was a frequently asked question when I began to tell people where our (Cody and me) next big trip was. It was relevant. It is not a secret that I am not a fan of the cold. So, why Canada? Even more so, why Canada in January?

It was mid November, about a week before Thanksgiving and I had Christmas gift ideas racing through my head. I sat in the car trying to figure out what to get Cody. His only requests were new underwear, socks, and sweatpants. I thought, “Have we really sunk that low? 2 and a half years of marriage and the best I can do for him is socks and underwear? No way!” It had been a while since our last big trip, and I was longing for more. Then, the thought crossed my mind, “What about a trip for Christmas?!” Cody is always the one planning our trips. I usually deal with organizing how much we spend and making sure we actually get out and see the places we go, but I had never actually taken the reins and given him a trip he would like. So, I passed the idea by him and he loved it. “…But I don’t want to know anything about it.”, he said. So, the google searches began. I searched for days and narrowed it down to 2 places. New York or Alberta, Canada. Canada was just slightly more expensive. I gave it a week. I prayed, googled, searched for all the best deals and determined that this was a dream trip and it would be a reality. Now, I just had to figure out how to pay.

So, how did I manage to pay for 2 round trip plane tickets and a condo at a resort in Alberta, Canada in just one month? A lot of it was Jesus, but I also really set my focus and saved. One of the most expensive aspects of booking the trip was the flights. So, I set google to track the flights for me. I planned on paying for the flights within the next week or two, so I knew the prices wouldn’t fluctuate a ton. The tracker alerted me anytime the ticket prices would drop or rise, so I was able to use that knowledge to determine how low these prices would really go. The lowest price that I saw was around $600, so I knew that I wanted to book when I saw those numbers around that price again. I did. I paid less that $610 for two round trip tickets thanks to google flight tracking. It allowed me to book my flight directly through United to get the best price options. The next step was to find where we were going to stay. Although I was focused on booking our flights first, I never took my eye off of places to stay. My line of thought was “If I don’t continuously check Airbnb to confirm availability, we may book a flight and have nowhere to stay.” I had my eye on one place in particular. It had a hot tub, full kitchen, and mountain view for under $100 a night. The day I booked our condo, the place I had been watching disappeared. Though there were many other options at low prices, I was upset. After a few minutes of weighing out my options, I found a condo in the same resort as the one I had been set on and it was only $2 more! I paid in an instant. I paid less than $1,500 total for flights and a condo for a week. Those prices were low, but to save for it in a month was a lot of work. So, how exactly did I manage to save that amount of money? I picked up shifts at my work and small odds and end job wherever I could find them. I was working 40-50 hours a week and saving every bit of it that I could.

As with every trip, we ran into some unexpected problems. A trip is never going to run as smoothly as you think, so Cody and I have learned to roll with the punches. Our first dilemma was that we had no snow gear and that stuff is expensive. Luckily, with the help of some loving friends and family members, we managed to get everything we needed for our trip. Once our bags were packed and our budget was made, we were ready to go. The next punch didn’t come until we were sitting in an airport restaurant. Cody left $250 of our spending money at home. I pretty much facepalmed right then and there. We were going to have to rethink our budget, but if you know Cody and me, we are very low maintenance, so this wasn’t going to be a huge fall back. Another issue we ran into (because of my lack of preparedness) is that we did not have a mode of transportation and our condo was an hour from the airport. We took a cab and dropped nearly $200 Canadian dollars within our first couple of hours in Canada. Our condo was also not near the city, which was great when we were there, trying to relax, but was not as appealing when we wanted to go out. The cab experience was our biggest financial set back, but it was a great experience that lead to us meeting new people and finding local places to see. On Friday evening we caught the last bus to the top of Mount Norquay to go snow tubing (which I had already paid for), but upon getting there found out that it was closed for a cardboard sled derby. (I will elaborate more on this later in this post). This set back was our favorite and probably the most minor. The final set back that we had wasn’t until the day we were leaving. Our flight from Calgary to Chicago was delayed by an hour due to technical difficulties. We arrived at our connecting flight as they were calling the final boarding call. Overall, none of our setbacks on this trip were too major to overcome, but my word of advice to any new traveler is to expect some kind of setback. Some trips it may be minor, and others can be major. If you have backup plans and a good attitude, you will survive. Find ways to enjoy the little things, even if they are not what you planned. This is advice that I have to give myself during any trip or crisis. Things could always be worse.

Although, you know how I saved money to book our trip, I have also mentioned budgeting our trip spending. We did not have a lot of time to save for our trip after I booked it, so our money was limited. So, how did we manage to enjoy our time in Canada without breaking the bank? We planned. First, we determined our priorities when traveling. Our three major priorities when traveling are: Explore the local area, try local foods that we may not get at home, and relax. When we are home, I am constantly planning our days, weeks, future trips, home decorating, ect. Cody and I have no off mode when we are home, so no matter where we are off traveling to, we never try to over stretch ourselves. We limit how many activities to do each day and usually our first and last day at our destination are strictly reserved for relaxing. Since food is a huge priority to us, I wanted to eat, but also not spend all of our money on food (because if left to it, we will).I set a limit of 4 places to eat and we bought supplies for 2 homecooked meals. (I will give information to what we cooked, how we stretched it, and where we ate later). We were in Canada for 5 days (not including the days we spent in an airport). Our first and last days were set aside for relaxing, exploring the resort and snow, and grocery shopping. We spent one day strictly walking around and exploring Baff and two days doing activities. Cody and I usually only do 1-2 activities per day when traveling to ensure that we are not overstretching and exhausting ourselves on our vacation. Another thing that seems like a big deal to most, but is not to us, is souvenirs. We love to look at souvenirs (and occasionally something may catch our eye that is a must.) We tend to take as many photos as possible, because honestly we will relive the moment through a photo or video better than we will through a trinket or a shirt. So, my biggest advice to someone who wants to travel on a budget is to find what brings you joy and what you want to be a priority and form your trip around that thing.

Cody and I had a handful of excursions planned for this trip. Since we were on a budget, we did not plan a ton of activities. We booked our activities through Banff adventures. They had lots of deals on their website, but the one we chose was for a sleigh ride, tickets to the hot springs, and snow tubing for less than $100 each.  We decided we wanted to go snow tubing at night, but it was only offered on Fridays and Saturdays, so we saved it for Friday night. On Thursday we woke up and caught a taxi and a bus from Canmore to Banff . We were told to walk to the horse stables to save money and enjoy the scenery. It took us about 30 minutes in the -10 degree (Farenheit) weather. It began to snow while we were walking, too, but the walk was enjoyable and worth it when we arrived. There was a heated barn with hot chocolate waiting for us and no one else signed up for the sleigh ride with us, so we ended up getting a private horse drawn sleigh ride (which is $200 value for two people). They took us around their land and through a park where we got a view of the mountains and got to see animal tracks. Our guide was really friendly and had even been to Louisiana once. When the ride came to and end, our tour guide allowed us back inside to get more hot chocolate while she put together a fire and a marshmallow toasting station. It was the best feeling, a toasty fire in the middle of the snow. After we had our fill of marshmallows and had defrosted our toes, we started back toward the city.  Once we got to town, we picked up our tickets for the hot springs and tubing and made our way to the bus stop. The hot springs were just out of town and may have been my favorite part of the trip. We arrived at a cabin where they took our tickets and sent us to our locker rooms. I felt ridiculous changing out of snow gear and into a bikini. “This is crazy”, I kept repeating to myself. I threw my hair into a bun and sheepishly made my way outside to Cody. We met in a freezing hallway and as we walked toward the outside door, we were greeted by what felt like burning hot water. It started at our ankles and got deeper as we walked. We never had to feel the freezing air on our bare skin. We were submerged and as the air got colder, the water felt better. It was like sitting in a hot bath with the air conditioner blowing on you. All around us everything was covered in mounds of ice. The lifeguard wasn’t even able to sit in his chair due to the amount of ice buildup. On Friday evening we made our way to Banff for the last time. We had a bus to catch at 5:30 pm. It was the last bus up to mount Norquay for the day. It took about 15 minutes to get up the mountain.  Once we got up to the snow tubing area, we were told that snow tubing was closed for a cardboard sled derby event. This wouldn’t have been as big of a deal if we hadn’t waited until our last day and taken the last bus. The next bus wouldn’t be for three more hours, so we called Banff adventures to get a refund and we decided to enjoy the event. Banff Adventures was understanding and had great customer service. They had us refunded immediately. The event began at 6:30 PM with children and then adults later. They would make their way to the top of a giant snow mound with their creation in tow and race down the snow in a decorated cardboard box. Most would wipe out, while others would bolt past the finish line. While the participants were competing, the locals, parents, and bystanders sat around a fire talking and hanging out. This was probably the most at home we felt during the entire trip. So, overall this night probably ended up being a lot more fun than it would have been if it had gone as planned. Most of our time in Canada was spent sightseeing, window shopping, and eating.

Like I said previously, we had a limit of four times that we could eat out at some sort of restaurant. On our first day there, we began to google food options. We had just arrived, had absolutely no food inside the condo, and we were hungry. Cody’s mom had told us to try poutine, so we decided that would be our first Canadian food venture. We found one place that looked locally owned and had great reviews, so we layered ourselves in snow gear and called a cab. (We tried out three cab companies while we were there, and our best experience was with Canmore cabs) The restaurant that we chose was called 514 Poutine. We later found out that it was owned by a local from Quebec, which is where Poutine originated. So, we knew this was going to be a great place for us to try this dish for the first time. If you do not know what Poutine is, it is twice fried French fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy. We got our first taste of poutine with smothered onions and ground beef added in and IT WAS AMAZING!!( If you could see me typing this now you would see me drooling and rolling my eyes just from thinking about it.) It is a MUST when visiting Canada. Our next food venture was to The Old Spaghetti factory. We were missing home and needed some red sauce in our lives at this point and this restaurant had been calling our names all week. When we arrived, it had a feel like Olive Garden or another chain Italian restaurant feel, which is not usually the environment Cody and I go for. We ventured on and found that the quality of the food was not similar to a chain such as Olive Garden. This restaurant had a deal that originally drew us here. If you pay the price of the entrée, you also get bread, salad, dessert, and coffee. We paid less than $35 for chicken parmesan, a Caesar salad, bread, ice-cream, and a cup of hot coffee. The best part was that the price did not diminish the quality of the food. It was just as good as a local Italian restaurant. The only other place we graced with our presence for food was (of course) another poutine restaurant. It was our last day in the city and we needed a taste of poutine one last time, so we took a tiny break at Banff Poutine.  The space was small, offering only high-top wall seating and one restroom. It had a modern, city feel to it. While it was not as good as 514 Poutine, we still enjoyed it. We got fried onion added in this time and it did not disappoint. The price was a little cheaper than 514 Poutine and it is in another city, so if you go to Banff or Canmore, make sure to check out one of these amazing places. Although we had to make a limit to how many places we could eat out, we still cooked and ate at the condo. This was a key component to save money. We bought ingredients for two meals. We also chose meals that were sure to have leftovers to carry us through the week and the ‘midnight snack’ feeling. Our two home cooked meals were potato soup and spaghetti with green beans. These are both extremely easy and cheap recipes which makes them perfect to cook when traveling with limited resources.

I have been wanting to share this information for so long and am so glad and relieved to have it out there. I wanted to share that traveling is possible while keeping a tight budget. You can still experience some great new things in the great big somewhere. Do not limit yourself at home watching Netflix all day and having a pity party when you see someone else’s post about traveling. You don’t know what they sacrificed to get to experience that. If you want it bad enough, you just need to sacrifice, pray, and save. Adventure is waiting and I can’t wait to see where the next one takes us. Thank you so much for reading and I cannot wait to share more another time.

How I threw My Sister a Sweet 16: Games, Food, and Decorations on a Budget.

What does every girl think of when she turns 16 ? Yes , everyone thinks of driving around their 16th birthday, but girls specifically think about their sweet 16 party. It is actually something that most girls used to fantasize about. The car, the party, all of their friends and family, a huge celebration. Nowadays, it is less of a celebration and just turns into another birthday. I decided to change that for my sister. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing why I threw a sweet 16 for my sister, where we bought everything, and what we did during the party.

The idea came to me during a Monday night bible study. We were talking about our 16th birthdays and how we dreamed of a sweet 16 party that never happened or had a sweet 16 party that no one showed up to. We all shared one memory of our 16th birthdays, disappointment. I decided that my sister would not share that same fate. I began to plan that night. Ideas spun through my head and to pinterest I went. I texted her to let her know that I would be throwing a party and not to have plans.

Kaylee’s mom helped me out with the decorations while I was in charge of food and games and our dad was in charge of the cake. The cake was a red velvet cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes. These cake always taste so good and they even hook you up with decorating it with your choice of decorations!

Our decorations turned out so good. Most of the decorations were from the online story: Shein or Amazon. We went with burgundy, gold, and pink as the color scheme instead of the typical pink and gold “princessy” colors because it fit my sister’s personality better. The balloon arch was made so easy with a balloon arch cheat that allows you to just poke the balloons into place and then drape it where ever you want.

The food was from all over. My sister requested Canes chicken fingers for dinner, which is what she got. I may have gone over board with the desserts. I picked up rice crispy treats with sprinkles, brownies, candy, and strawberries( that were supposed to turn into chocolate covered strawberries, but we aren’t going to talk about that) from walmart. The cake balls were from Candace’s Cake Balls. Candace is local and supplies the cake balls at the coffee shop I work for so I knew they were quality and the money was going somewhere local. I am pretty sure they can be shipped if you aren’t in the area, but they really are the best. Upon request, she even does specially designed ones !

Game time!! I love coming up with and leading party games (if you hadn’t already noticed.) I decided to do 3 games for this party. Why three? I wanted to entertain but not overwhelm. The prizes for the game were simple and they loved them: starbucks gift cards. They ended up being cheaper than anything else that I got them and what teenage girl doesn’t like starbucks?

The first game was a baby food taste test. The girls were told the names of all the baby food that I had bought. Then they all put a blindold on and took turns tasting. I had 10 flavors, but only made them taste 3 each. Each girl had 3 guesses for each flavor and for each one they guessed correct they got a point. Two of the girls tied, leaving them to go head-to-head in another round. My sister ended up winning the game. (and eating the baby food out of the jar willingly)

The next game was a blind makeup game. (Since there was an odd number, one of the girls that didn’t want to get her makeup done sat out.) The girls paired up and one girl put on a blind fold. I turned on a new song and they had until the song ended to do the makeup on their partner the best that they could. We did two rounds of the by letting the girls switch places in the second round.

The final game was ‘What’s in your overnight bag’ I left a picture of my template below. But the rules for this game was they each girl bring her overnight bag and go through it to see if they have any of the items. Each item is worth a certain number of points and once it is over, the points are added up to determine the winner. Kaylee came in second, one friend came in first with 25 points more and another came in third with 15 points less.( I made Kaylee pack a fake overnight bag before playing the game.)

We ended the night by watching Clueless and talking and laughing. Overall, I think it went well and now my sister won’t be in her twenties looking back at her sweet 16 with disappointment.

Thanks for reading along with me and I hope this gave you some fun tips for throwing a party for teens. Have a great week!