My Top 10 Book Recommendations

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I have always loved reading and writing. Once I grew up, got out of school, and began college, reading got put on the back burner. I often question why I put something that I am so passionate about below everything else. I couldn’t find an answer. So, I am on a journey to start reading again in my adulthood– the problem: I am not really into “adult” books. (You know the self help books that everyone seems to be reading and writing lately) So, I am about to recommend my favorite books that I have read in the past couple of years (Because, I am still working on reading 2 books in a year). Most of them, are probably going to make you judge me because I know Jr. High and even elementary age kids reading the same things, but these are the books that actually make me want to read.

1.Because of Winn Dixie

This one HAD to be at the top for me. As a kid, it was one of my favorite movies and books. I re-read the book a couple of years ago and it was still just as captivating. As an adult, this one is very do-able if you have limited reading time. I was reading it for a class one semester and read the whole thing in two days.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, it is about a young girl that just moved to a different city with her dad. She finds a dog at the beginning of the book, which leads her to meet many different people. It is a heart warming novel that even a fourth grader could read if they wanted to. (Disclosure: There are some tear jerker parts of the story, but it is mostly pure joy).

2.The Lipstick Gospel

This is a great book for Christian girls that are college age. (Though it could be read by anyone and any age) It is also a quick read if you are trying to get in a habbit of reading again, this could be a great start.

Its an autobiography about a sorority girl that just went through a hard breakup. She ends up flying across the world to Europe where she meets Jesus. It is by Stephanie Mae Wilson and it is her true testimony. I could read this book over and over again and the best part is that you can get it for free on her website. Visit stephaniemaewilson.com to get the free digital download of the book.

3. The Who Was…? Book Series

Here is one of those books I said that you would judge me for recommending. I love a good biography (especially if it is about a historic figure or someone I look up to) . This series has such a great selection of biographies including Dr. Seuss, Jesus, Harriet Tubman, and Mark Twain. They were written for elementary aged students, so they are very easy to read and include all the important information, some funny facts, and illustrations. These books are right up my alley !

4.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Disclosure: I have not read Tom Sawyer yet. I am sorry. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are some of my husbands favorite books from his childhood. Last year, I wanted to get into some of the classics that I had (for some reason) never read. I figured that I’d start with these since they were so important to Cody. I started with Huck Finn because I had heard more about it, but (half way through) was teased by my husband for reading them out of order. Tom Sawyer is now on my list of must reads this year, but Huck Finn made it into my top 10.

If you are like me and never really got familiar with these books, but I’ll give you a quick summary of Huck Finn. Its about a boy that’s pretty much an orphan (his dads a drunk and only comes around when he needs money ) and his mom died. Huck gets sick of being abused by his dad and decides to run away and fake his death. He later runs into a local slave that he knows, Jim. Jim also ran away to be free. Huck decides to help Jim and they both raft down the river, where they run into lots of exciting adventures. I don’t want to ruin it too much for you, but it really is a great read!

It took me a few months to read. Although it is good, it is a bigger book and because of the way that it was written, it may take some extra time to get through the pages. If you are looking for a great book to invest some time into this one is perfect. (But maybe read Tom Sawyer first since it references it a lot.)

5.The Giver

If you have ever seen the movie, it does not do the book justice. This book is set in the future, which makes every aspect tug at my heart in someway (like, “What if this really happened?” and ” Oh my gosh! That’s pretty similar to this!!”) If you think like that too, then you will love this book. It’s more of a junior high level book, so it may take a little longer to read.

It’s about a future where you really have no choices or differences. (Skin color is not a thing, divorce is not a thing, miscarriage and infertility is not a thing, and poverty is not a thing. ) The government has found systematic ways to get rid of all of these things. (It goes into more detail in the book as to how this started and why the world is this way)

In the book, everyone is assigned their jobs. Some people are nurses, some are teachers, ect.The main character is a boy named Jonah. It takes place around his 12th birthday, which is the age that everyone receives their assignments. Jonah gets a strange assignment that he has never heard of which allows him to begin training under The Giver. While training, he gets to see glimpses of how the world used to be. You’ll have to read the book to find out how he reacted and how he kept this new information a secret.

6. The Harry Potter Series

Here’s another series for ya! I have always loved the Harry Potter series ! I haven’t read it in years, but this series is on my reading list for this year…fingers crossed that I get to it. I feel like this is too popular to have to explain what they’re about. However, I will say that the books are so much better than the movies. The details are better and the characters are more rounded out. Overall, this is a series that I can read over and over again and never get sick of it. The books are super big though, so it will probably take a while to read even one with a busy schedule. (Unless you are a quick reader) .

7.The Life We Bury

We have picked up a new hobby when road tripping: audible. I have a lot of trouble staying focused while listening to books, but I found that a good mystery book will always keep me interested. The next 3 books are all audible mystery books that we could not get enough of.

The life we bury is about a college student (Joe) that visits a nursing home to interview someone for a project. The interviewee turns out to be an ex-convict that got released with months left to live. He was convicted of rape and murder over 30 years ago. As Joe continues the interviews, he comes to believe that the man is innocent and is determined to prove his innocence before the man dies.

8.Safe Houses

Safe houses started my love for audio books. This book switches between 2 main characters. (So it can be difficult to keep up with on audio book) . With this being said, it is a great read that will have you listening to every detail to try and solve the mystery.

One of the stories in the book is based in 1979. The main character overhears a C-I-A conversation that was top secret. It shares her story as she runs from the C-I-A and tries to decipher their code words.

The other story takes place in 2014 . The main character’s parents have recently been mysteriously murdered. She begins to go through her parents things and uncover the reason for their murder.

9.Something In the Water

This book draws you in from the very beginning and has you questioning the entire time. It is so easy to binge read this mystery thriller and I am sure you could re-read it multiple times and find something new every time you read it.

It’s about a couple that finds a lost treasure on their honeymoon and decide to keep it. After this decision, their lives start to get more complicated and the husband eventually goes missing. While continuing to interview criminals for work, the wife begins to take advice from the criminals in an attempt to figure out what happened to her husband and if it has something to do with what they found that day. It is a page turner and you will not regret reading it.

10. Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH

This is another children’s book, but it’s such a good read. I was obsessed with the movies when I was younger, so when I found out that the movies were based off of a book, I had to read the books. Sometimes it’s refreshing to read a lower level book that reminds you of your childhood. Books are supposed to be a great way to escape everyday life and that is exactly what this one did for me.

It is about a small mouse that is widowed. Her son is ill and she heard that her home was going to be destroyed soon. She searches for a way to move her family without exposing her son to the cool air that may kill him. In a panic, she reaches out to the rats of NIMH for help.

This story seems boring or basic, but it spices up when you find out that the rats are geniuses. They have figured out how to create electricity in a hole under a rose bush and have libraries where they all know how to read. You will have to read the book to find out the secret of why the rats are so smart!

Whether you are trying to fit reading into your busy schedule as an adult or you are just looking for a new book to read, I hope this helped you. Lots of these books are easy reads to fit into your everyday life. Thanks for reading along and if you have any recommendations of your own, let me know!

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How We Knew RV Life Was For Us

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“Y’all are crazy!” “How are you really going to pull this off ??” Statements that I’ve heard over and over since I started telling people about our plan to get an RV, live in it, and travel around the country full time. My only answer to these statements is, ” Yeah we are a little crazy and we have no clue how we are going to pull it off… but God does.” This was not a long time planned thing. A year ago this was no where on our radar, but here we are. Today I am going to walk you through the crazy process we went through and how we decided that RV life was for us.

Cody an I have always loved traveling. After our first mission trip we fell in love so hard that we thought we would be full time missionaries. (that could still be true, you never know what God has up his sleeve.) In 2016, I remember planning out our 10 year plan. We were going to do long term missions and eventually start our own organization. I was caught off guard when someone on our mission trip that year told us that our future was going to be different that what we were planning, but it was still going to serve God and the kingdom. I had no clue what that really meant (and still am not sure if I do.) I just remember thinking, ” So we aren’t going to get to do missions in Greece one day?” and I was a little bummed.

Fast forward and we got married. Reality started to take place. We had bills to pay, school to attend, money to make. We had way less time than we ever thought. We started settling. I was planning on graduating and then getting a house. Long term travel was no longer in the picture. I just wanted stability. Just like all the other small chapters of our lives, the chapter of becoming adults and being unstable ended.

In August of 2019, we were planning on spending the summer of 2020 in Spain. I threw out another crazy idea.( I have lots of them, but most don’t happen) ” Why don’t we spend a year there?!” Cody said I was crazy and getting a visa would be too difficult but we still threw around the idea of spending 3 months there. We just weren’t sure if it would be during the summer or in the fall. These plans came to a very sudden halt when COVID hit.

Everywhere was locked down and we saw no hint to when things would begin to open again, much less when we would be able to safely travel abroad. I began to look for houses. I wanted a change. I just wasn’t sure what kind of change.

Here’s a little fun fact about me: I have always felt like a homebody. I told myself that I don’t like change. I don’t like to move. I want a place to call mine and that is all I need. I was wrong in every single way… and I am somehow just now seeing this. We were in our first home for 6 months before I decided I wanted to move. We were in our second home for less than a year when I pitched the Spain idea. I am realizing that change is no issue to me. I do love being around family… but family can come to me and I can always come back to them. I am fine going where ever… as long as Cody is with me. (sounds sappy, but it’s true.)

Anyways, I was looking at houses. We even tried to buy a fixer upper in Ponchatoula, but our credit wasn’t where it needed to be yet. I had no clue at the time, but not getting this house was a God send. I started looking at potential houses in Florida, Colorado, Texas, and Hawaii. I just couldn’t find peace about any of the places I was looking into. Them I had (yet another) crazy idea… We should get a camper and travel for a few years!!! Cody was not on board. The price was way more than he thought acceptable. He was concerned about money. He didn’t know about leaving our family. Lots of factors went into our thoughts on if we should stay or just go! I couldn’t explain it, but I just had an easy feeling about this one.

I didn’t say another word about it. I just prayed that night while Cody was in the other room. I remember telling God that if this was just another one of my crazy ideas to let it pass. I wasn’t ever going to mention it again. If it was something that He had placed on my heart and this was His plan for my life, then let Cody agree to it, but I was not going to interfere by talking about it. Without saying another word, the first thing Cody said when he woke up was, ” Do you really want to get a camper?” Cody had no clue about my conversation with God at this point, but the fact that those were his first words to me confirmed that this was, in fact, God’s plan.

As time went on, Cody started to doubt it. He was getting nervous about leaving and being financially stable and all the other things that are completely normal to worry about, but I knew this was our calling.

In August, we took a one month road trip through Colorado while tent camping. This was where Cody really jumped on board with the camper idea. He said, ” This is life. This is living. This is where we are happiest. On the road, exploring new places.” That trip sealed the deal.

When we got our stimulus checks, we used them to pay off all of our debt. (except our credit cards) We spent the next few month restraining from traveling and working our butts off. We got our credit up a substantial amount, got the loans and by early December, ( a month before our lease was up) we had the camper and truck.

We aren’t sure what the future holds. We don’t really have a plan. We are just living in the moment and looking into all the options possible for income on the road. We are excited for this journey and where it is going to take us. Make sure to follow along. Our first big trip kicks off soon and I will make sure to to write all about it, vlog about it, and constantly update Instagram. Thanks for all the support!

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2020 Wasn’t That Bad

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The new year is here and in full force. 2020 was labeled a horrible year for most. Alot of people suffered losses of loved ones and their dreams were crushed with the mandate to quarantine, but others found 2020 to be great. They found out that they were capable of so much more than they thought and they found creative ways to see family, maintain businesses, and build relationships. I fall in the 2020 was good category.

I have always been a positive person, so I’m not really sure I would have ever seen this year as “the worst year ever” even if I had accomplished nothing. That isn’t the case for me, though. I accomplished alot and plan on accomplishing even more during 2021. (I am not saying that to be cliche. I truly mean it. I have big things planned for this year.)

This post is just going to be a small review of 2020… so, LET’S GET GOIN’!

2020 started off great we headed out to Banff within the 1st 2 weeks. It was my first trip that I planned all on my own and it was Cody’s Christmas gift. It was a learning process, but you can read all about it, because that was my first ever blog post!

Outside of the hot springs in Banff.

Canada kicked off my blog which was a long time dream of mine. I have always loved writing. (I even used to write chapter books back in grade school) I knew I wanted a way to share our adventures with our friends and family and I finally got up the courage to start the blog in 2020.

When school started in January, I decided to take all online classes so I could make more time to work, make money for summer road trips, and save for a house. God switched that plan up a little bit, but I fully believe that He already had this year planned for me when I was picking my schedule for the semester. Because of the school schedule I had lined up, I was able to continue school with no interruptions when we shut down for quarantine.

Since I had a ton of free time because work was closed, I had more time to focus on school and to pour into the blog and my soul. I spent hours a day going on walks, reading on the balcony, having dance parties, and writing blog posts while binge watching my favorite shows.

Once numbers began going down and places started opening back up, Cody and I had had enough and started going on trips. We spent nearly the whole month of May at the beach catching up with our friends and family. We also took a 1 week trip to Chattanooga and another month long trip across Colorado.

Gulf shores, AL
Foster Falls , TN
Alamosa, CO

When we returned home at the end of August, we had tons of wedding festivities lined up for 2 of our good friends that were getting married in early October. So September revolved around celebrating them & I am not even mad about it. Celebrating people always brings me joy and I always wish I could do more for them … so when it’s 2 people I care this deeply for, I will happily go all in !

In October, we decided to start saving up for our camper. We finally got our stimulus checks and used them to pay off most of our debt and worked our butts off to get the rest paid, so we could work towards our dream life.

We spent pretty much the rest of 2020 doing this and enjoying the time we had with friends and family.

I know everyone’s 2020 story looks different. Some are filled with sadness, some are filled with pure joy, others are just boring, and a few are similar to mine… good, full of accomplishment, but still weird. Now, 2020 has passed and we have a new year to make memories for. Take this time to think of how you want your 2021 summary to look. Don’t let society label how your year will look. If things get messed up, look at it as a blessing and see how it helps you… not how it hurts you. You got this!

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My College Experience

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Wow! This Holiday season has been a little weird, kind of stressful, really exciting, and a bit bitter sweet. In the midst of all the holiday chaos and COVID panic, Cody and I decided to make a HUGE move and I graduated from college. I’ll touch more on our big move in another post. (why, how, what our plans for the future are, and all the other big questions.) But, today’s post is all about college and life after graduation.

This whole year has been weird, so it’s only right that my graduation be weird and confusing too, right? I actually finished school this summer with a summer semester. The commencement was originally moved to August due to COVID, but since numbers weren’t really dropping, it got moved, again, to December. I ultimately decided not to participate in commencement due to the guidelines, budgeting, and the fact that I hadn’t attended school since July.

Since I didn’t make a big deal of graduating, I wanted to share a little post to wrap it up and honor the past 5 years like they should be. No matter the circumstances or the degree, I feel like graduating is a huge accomplishment and deserves some celebration. So, here we go … my 5 years of college, summed up!

I graduated high school in 2015 and was 99.99% sure I wanted to be a nurse. (My engagement ring size and style was even based on the fact that I didn’t want to rip my gloves at work) I only had 1 week between my high school graduation and my first day of college. I am kidding you not, I worked on homework on my senior trip and family vacations. I wanted to graduate early and was pretty determined to.

My high school graduation night.

I had a dorm my first semester, and let my tell you, sharing that small of a space with someone you don’t know is really weird. I didn’t have roommates that I didn’t like, it was just odd… like how do you set boundaries when you both share a desk and a sink ? My first roommate moved a month in because she was a germaphobe and just couldn’t deal with the shared showers (I can’t blame her). My second roommate wasn’t horrible, we just didn’t talk much. (So you can guess how that went. )

My dorm room.

This semester I worked 2 jobs, went home on the weekends, took 18 hours of classes, and still finished with all A’s and B’s . So, far college was off to a great start.

As my next semester carried on I had moved home and dropped one of my jobs. My grades dropped and I began to get exhausted. My plans of summer classes got canceled. I was burnt out. I thought a break for the summer would refresh and recharge me. Little did I know…

A week before the next semester started, I got engaged and our entire city flooded. My home and Cody’s had flooded and we were both living with friends or family by the time school started. I still kept my 17 hours of classes that I had planned… that was a mistake.

Cody proposed at the aquarium.
Some of the flood photos

At the end of the semester… about a month before the semester had ended I remember saying to Cody, “If nursing doesn’t work out, I may try teaching.” I had made this statement so many times in the past about so many different things. I am super multipassionate and have so many things I want to do with life, so this statement had always been a thing that I say, shrug off, and we move on. That was not the case this time. He said, “Why don’t you?” We weighed out the pros and cons and it seemed right. I had failed microbiology and anatomy for the second time this semester… I was just wasting money at this point. So, I did it. I switched my major to early childhood education. I wanted to be a first grade teacher.

The next semester was the semester before we got married. I had so many wedding events to attend, but my education classes were so intriguing and exciting so I didn’t struggle at all. I was so excited to be learning new things.

Before my first observation in the education field.

I decided that I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher the following semester after observing the same kindergarten class 10+ times that semester. I fell in love with the kids at that age. We had some issues with financial aid after that semester, so I took a semester off to get that straight and worked at PJ’S and at our church pretty much full time.

When I returned I only had a year before I started methods (1 step before student teaching.) Things were getting more serious, but I was still so excited and happy with the major I picked I loved the kids and all of the education classes. They were all so full of positivity and fun.

Come fall of 2019, everything changed. I was in methods … I had made it… so I thought. This class was not full of positivity like all the others had been. It demanded so much time and so much money. And they talked about all the ways you can fail. I paid, I spent the money, I went broke. I couldn’t work. I was stressed. I finally broke after my first full week of teaching. I decided to drop. I needed a break. Maybe this wasn’t for me. Maybe I just needed a break and then I would be able to tackle it again… I wasn’t sure. The only thing that I was sure of was that I needed to get out for my mental health, financial health, and for my marriage.

After lots of thought and prayer, I decided to switch to general studies. I could graduate by the end of the summer. I still had no clue what I wanted to do, but I knew college was not it.

The next semester was so easy. All of my classes were online except one, so I wasn’t really phased when everything shut down. In fact it gave me a ton of time to focus on my school work.

So there you have it. 5 years. Engaged. Married. 1 major natural disaster. 2 pandemic. 2 changes of my major. I made it out ! I’m not really sure where I am going, but I’m on my way. I still have so many plans with life and can’t wait to see exactly what God has up his sleeve for me.

To anyone reading that’s still in college: It’s ok. You’re going to make it. You are doing great and if you feel like what you are doing isn’t working, try something new. Don’t listen to societies opinions or what you think will make someone else happy. Do you and do your best at it. It is enough.

Top 5 Go-To Budget Family Christmas Party Games

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The holidays are upon us, Christmas is just two weeks away, and parties are around every corner. I love hosting parties and always find myself as the host of most of the holiday parties around here (which I have no problem with.) The only problem that I run into every year is what games to play. Today I am going to share five Christmas party games that we have found to be big hits at our Christmas parties

1.White Elephant

This is a usual at almost every Christmas party we attend. There are different names for it and different ways to play, but no matter what you call it or what rules you use, your friends are sure to love it. This game requires everyone to bring a gift. Make sure you choose a reasonable price range. The gifts can be funny or serious. (A couple of funny ones usually ensure a good time)

How to play:

. number a few pieces of paper or cards (if you have 9 participants, only number to 9.)

. Have your guests draw 1 card from a hat or bowl.

. The guest that chose the card with the number 1 on it gets to go first. They can choose any gift in the stack without knowing who it’s from or what it is.

. Once guest number one has revealed their gift, the guest that picked number 2 gets to choose between taking guest number one’s gift that is already revealed or choose a mystery gift from the stack.

. If guest number 2 chooses a mystery gift, carry on with the game and move on to player 3. If player 2 has stolen player one’s gift, allow player one to choose a new gift.

. Continue with these rules until each person has got a chance to pick a gift.

.Once everyone has a gift, allow player one to have a chance to steal a gift. If player one chooses to steal someone’s gift, they will give their current gift to the victim.

2. Santa Clause Drinking Game

This game has simple rules. You just place a Santa hat on the corner of your T.V. and turn on a Christmas movie or show episode. (Depending on how much time you want to spend on this) Every time it looks like a character is wearing the Santa hat, everyone drinks. You can also make this as intense as you and your guests want. We usually just take a sip of wine or whatever we happen to be drinking, but if you are up for getting a little crazy, you can do shots.

3.Snowball Shake

This game went viral, so I am sure you know how to play, but if you don’t know, I’ll explain.

You will need an empty tissue box, some string or a belt, and some ping pong balls.

To play, you are going to loop the belt or string through the tissue box and fill the box with ping pong balls. Then you will tie the box around the players waist using the string or belt. (This is where the rules can become your own) Choose to pit 2 players against each other and have the person to shake all the balls out first win or (to move the game along) you can time them and see who can shake the most balls out in the short time frame. However you decide to play, your guests will have a blast watching everyone shake their butts to win the game!

4. Cookie or Gingerbread House Decorating.

(If you choose to do a gingerbread house, I would pair everyone off into teams) all you need to do is set a timer and let your guests get to work. Allow them to use all the icing and sprinkles their heart desires and don’t forget to have fun. Have at least 1 judge (or let everyone vote for someone that isn’t their own) the best looking house/cookie wins!

5. Christmas Charades

You can find printable cards anywhere or make your own. If you don’t know how to play charades, you will just need to pair everyone into 2 different teams. You will need to have 1 player from the 1st team come up and try to act out a card. If their team guesses the card correctly, they can keep choosing cards until the timer is up. Once that team’s turn has run out, record the number of cards guessed correctly and move on to the next team. Allow all of the players from each team to participate and the team with the most cards guessed correctly at the end will win.

These are just a few small ideas. Most of them don’t require alot of materials or a huge budget. Remember to have fun with it and find a game that your guests will love too. Take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a chill might with your friends. Merry Christmas !

5 mistakes I made at my Bob Ross Paint party.

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For my birthday I had my sisters and some of my girl friends over to have a Bob Ross paint party. I had it complete with wine, halloween candy, pizza, and mimosas. I used Google to find which episode to use. There is a list of episodes by painting that has the picture of the finished painting next to each episode. (I thought this was so cool!) Since this was my first party like this, there were a few bumps in the road. So, today I am going to be sharing some things that I would’ve changed.

The first thing that I would have changed is time. I am so bad with procrastinating. I picked my episode, bought supplies, and food the day of. If I could do it over, I would have picked the painting at least a month before and ordered the EXACT colors online. Looking for the colors in hobby lobby the day of was ….oof!!

The next thing that I would have changed is the amount of paint that I bought. I read a blog that said to buy a small bottle of each color for each person…. I did not need that much. We had five people there and we didn’t even go through 1 small bottle of each color. (I also used 8×10 canvases…so this might be why?)

Scrapers!! Oh my goodness the scraper. Bob Ross rarely uses an actual paint brush. I bought paint brush sets for each person and in 90% of the video he was using his scraper. Figure out what exactly he is using and get it for everyone… it seriously would have saved us so much trouble. We ended up using finger nails, butter knives, or whatever else we had on hand.

Next, he talks and moves fast. You, most likely, are not going to follow along easily. We paused it, but we made a mistake. We were using acrylic paint, which dries easily, and when we would unpause we would end up having to “drag the brush across” to smear some of the paint colors. By the time we unpaused, our paint was completely dry and no smearing was happening. I suggest that if you use acrylic or fast drying paint that you wait until he is fully finished and had moved on to the next step of the painting…. if you have to pause. If not, keep it going…you got this!

Building on that, I would change the paint I used. If you have the time, use a slow drying paint or oil paint. It works alot better for this type of party so, if you have the time to let it dry…take advantage of it !

I want to leave this by saying that this party was a blast. None of our paintings looked like his, none looked the same, but we all had fun being creative. Support your friends when you have this party and let them know that it won’t look like his and that is ok.

Thanks for reading along and I hope this helps you if you have been thinking of throwing a Bob Ross party. It is so fun and can be as strategic or relaxed as you want to make it. Just have fun. Until next time, have a great week!

How to Throw a ‘Killer’ Murder Mystery Party

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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!

Fun, Budget Friendly Halloween Costumes

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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. )

Favorite Fall Activities

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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!!

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!