And they’re off!🍎 Savannah squealed as she hugged her besties at the bus stop heading into her new middle school! I videoed her getting on the bus and she totally made me cry when she turned back and flashed a grin and whispered “bye mom!” 📚 The twins Ethan & Charlotte are pumped to be in class together again! And little miss Avery has been so mad all of last week that school didn’t start yesterday.😉
SO many firsts + lasts. Excitement + butterflies. Sent prayers all week for the kids and their teachers who are learning to love our kids since they’ll be with them more than we will during the school year! ♥️
Earlier this April, we celebrated our birthdays at La Casa de la Playain the Riviera Maya. We enjoyed the most magical and breath-taking vacation we have ever experienced. I posted videos on my Instagram page and as promised, I’ll share as many details as I can here. Aside from the eye-candy this resort dishes out, the activities & food splurges are endless. And I mean endless. It’s like Disneyland for adults who love a healthy mix of adventure and romance. We plan to come year after year & we know we’ll always have an incredible time!
FYI…Nearly all the photos you’ll see on this post are screenshots from videos I captured on my phone. So haha, the quality will be rough 😉 The videos help the memories stay fresh & sweet for us. I’m guessing some of that will be lost in this vacation wrap-up post, BUT, cheers to a blurry & messy good read! xo
AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION: We take a direct 2.5 hour flight to Cancun. If you’ve never visited Cancun before, well…..it is definitely amazing, but walking out the doors of the airport can be a bit overwhelming….why? You are immediately thrown into what I like to lovingly think of as the airport taxi market craze. The good news is Xcaret provides free airport transportations to and from the resort. If you dart through the Taxi Market craze, you’ll see drivers wearing pink shirts, holding pink signs directing you to the comfy air-conditioned bus. We were first in line for the bus and waited 30-40 minutes for it to arrive– so there’s a 0-40 minute bus wait. You’ll be offered sodas, waters, and wifi for the 1 hour drive to the resort. If you’re staying at La Casa de la Playa, you’ll be taken immediately to the resort by a private luxury SUV.
BUTLER SERVICE: As soon as we checked in, our personal butler escorted us to our room. The week before, our butler contacted us via WhatsApp and arranged the airport transfers, dinner and park reservations. We HIGHLY recommend getting restaurant and exclusive activity reservations made before arriving to the resort since they fill up. We also bring quite a bit of cash to give tips (we’ll bring $100 bills and ask Guest Services to exchange for smaller bills).
RESTAURANTS we loved at Xcaret Arte: Kibi Kibi for breakfast (pay the little extra to stay in an “Adultos” room so you can be in casa Artistas and have exclusive access to Kibi Kibi and the amazing roof-top pool), the Arenal Restaurant for lunch (this was my FAV!), Cantina ViAYPI (pronounced V.I.P.) for dinner, Encanta for a unique Mexican chef’s tasting menu. I loved the Japanese appetizers & sushi at Tah-Xido. For our last dinner, we went to restaurant Fuego in Hotel Mexico and had the best steak and short rib of the trip. We also had a chance to eat quite a few times at San Juan Mercado, where you can eat fresh guacamole and pico, freshly made tacos, tamales, etc… (think cruise ship buffet but with all things Mexico– VIVA LA MEXICO!) Our favorite late-night tradition is having fresh crepes filled with Nutella, peanut butter, cream cheese, sliced strawberries, and slivered almonds… Delish! They have fresh seafood and I’d always ask for fresh-grilled shrimp and pile it into fajitas. Don’t forget to try the Mexican spiced coffee for a fun culture treat!
One fun find: there is a Speakeasy AT THE HOTEL – where you walk in a secret entrance that seems like you’re in a staff-only area to a fun night out! We went at 9:30pm and found a cozy spot to hang out. At 11pm the vibe completely changes from a jazzy speakeasy to a night club. The light show, music, and drinks were incredible!
Another WOW factor for me about Xcaret Arte is the fact that they have private beaches and even places to kayak on the complex. There are swim up suites where you can literally walk out of your balcony door into a pool and take a swim around the different passageways. They have hammocks overlooking these waterways, and even chairs you can sit in and soak in the sun right off your room.
Included in your reservation at Xcaret is free access to each of the six parks that are all super fun and nature-themed. It’s like the Disneyland of Mexico with underground rivers, zip lines through jungle canopies, night time cave explorations and fabulous shows. Usually we only have time to explore 2 parks since there is so much to do at the hotels and we love our chill time. Make sure to check out Xplor Fuego, the night time zip lining through fire rings, and the underground exploration. It’s super fun and thrilling! We didn’t especially love the Tomahawk dinner (buffet-style) restaurant at the park so next time we’ll eat back at the hotel.
COST: If I add up what we would pay individually for a vacation: hotel, parks & entertainment, incredible food, all drinks on repeat, airport transfers, exclusive activities and experiences, the price is pretty reasonable. A 3 night stay at Hotel Mexico or Arte is about $2500-3000 total for 2 people. La Casa de la Playa is Xcaret’s boutique hotel. They only have 63 rooms, so incredibly quiet and peaceful. It has the best views of the ocean from every part of the hotel. Private transportation and immediate service everywhere you go. Mind-blowing exclusive experiences at the parks. You WILL feel like royalty! But it’s pricey to feel like royalty–about double what you would spend at the other two hotels. We’ve now been to all 3 hotels and they make up our entire top 3 best all-inclusive-resorts-list. No matter where you decide to stay at Xcaret, it has something for EVERYONE whether you’re an adrenaline junky or would prefer to lounge on the beach with your toes dipped in the ocean all day.
NOT SPONSORED 😉 While we stayed in La Casa de la Playa for our birthdays, we purchased a membership to get discounts and perks to Arte and Mexico since we KNOW we’ll come back year after year. All our friends and family can use my discount as well! If you want to book, you can click on the hotel-specific links above to be taken directly to my favorite booking site.
TO USE MY FRIENDS 25% OFF DISCOUNT:: Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your name, phone, and email address. Then I’ll reach out to Xcaret through my member portal. They’ll reach out to help you book, you’ll get the 25% discount off your stay at Mexico or Arte, and get some extra members-only perks — like a private butler at any of the hotels when it’s normally only at La Casa.
Ps, I don’t make money off anyone using my 25% code ;))
Last year we took the plunge to have permanent holiday lighting installed. Click HERE to see the our NEW YEARS LIGHT display! First off, we freaking love it. Second, here’s why we did it: We’ve lived in our home for 5 years now and have spent $500-700 each year to have Christmas lights installed, replace lights, and then pay the significantly higher electric bill. We loooove having our house decorated, but that expense gets old in a hurry. Our house also didn’t have any built-in exterior lighting. Like none. Ok, one awkward lamp on the far end of the garage, but that’s it. So, we decided to take the plunge and add permanent lighting to our home!
We loved it for Christmas and New Years, and now have beautiful year-round accent lighting every night. The track that holds the lights is color matched to our trim, so it blends in during the day. The lights are controlled by a simple and user-friendly app on our phones and have customizable timers so you don’t have to turn it on and off. Every single holiday has tons of fun patterns and animations. And then Aaron had fun customizing the normal accent lights that come on every night at sunset.
Here are Q&A’s we’ve gotten from neighbors, friends, and some of you!
How much does it cost? It all depends on the linear feet of your roof-line. Ball-park is $21-$26/ft or $2000-5000 for the front of the house depending on the size, which includes everything from installation to lights, etc. You can request a FREE quote HERE. It was an easy and effortless experience for us!
Who did ya’ll use to install? We chose Astoria Lighting Co who use Gemstone lights. Astoria has great reviews and customer service. We love the 3 year full warranty that completely covers the system and any issues that could come up. Plus they use Gemstone, which are the best lights! They have locations in Texas, Utah, and Edmonton (Canada) currently, and are expanding every year. They are the largest provider of Gemstone Lights in the Country!
Best time to install? Most people are thinking about this in the months leading up to the holidays. So if you know you want to do it, the off-season months will save you money on installation costs, and you can enjoy the exterior accent lighting now. We also loved putting up fun colors for Valentines and will do the same for 4th of July, Halloween, and other holidays throughout the year!
Why did you choose Gemstone vs. other popular brands? Simply put.. They look better! Gemstone has 150+ colors for the track vs. around 20 with the competition, so they’ll better match your home. They are also the only ones that have a specific warm white setting, so they look better for accent lights. Overall Quality of the product: They last much longer than the competition (twice as long depending one who your comparing to) and have safety and quality certifications that the others do not have. Gemstones lights can be 3 times brighter and the way the lights are positioned in the track you can clearly see the shine of the lights but also the beautiful downlighting that washes the walls. Gemstone warranty is significantly longer.
Did your electric bill change? No! The lights use such little electricity, you won’t see it on your usage.
How do you create the holiday light and accent patterns? On the app there are literally dozens of patterns for every holiday. Some are just different light color patterns and some have animations built in. Check out my New Years Reel for our New Years animation! You can customize literally everything. So if you want to create your own holiday fun, you have total control. The accent lights are the same. We chose a warm light and were able to individually select the sections on our home that we wanted to light up each night. We set it to automatically turn on at sunset and off around midnight.
How visible are the lights during the day?The tracks are perfectly color-matched, so it looks built in to the trim. The individual bulbs are small and aren’t distracting during the day. I was nervous about this because we have loved renovating our exterior with shutters, paint, and German Smear, but after it was installed, I’ve never noticed it during the day.
Can you take the lights with you if you move? Very unlikely. The installers customize the entire light track to match your home and roofline perfectly. But it DOES add value to your home!
How long does it last?The lights are rated for 50,000 hours, so you should expect 15-25 years. Astoria gives a 3 year full warranty, and 5 year parts warranty through Gemstone.
I spent a few minutes reading THIS FAQ PAGE on Astoria LIghting’s website– super helpful!
Have any questions? Feel free to comment below and I’ll get back to you!
⚡️Another year where magic still exists for these lil’ wizards!! ✨ They all voted Harry Potter for our family costumes and we laughed so much at Avery’s Sirius Black costume and was freaked out quite a bit with Aaron’s Voldemort costume😂 He found a white cap at the store 2 nights ago and I used bandaids to keep it in place 🤣 We took pictures nearby then went to our Church’s trunk-or-treat, then went to my sister’s birthday party. A full day of makeup & magic was so much freaking fun! And I’m never wearing a corset again😵😂
YOU GUYS!!! There’s nothing that I love more than the planning and creating process of transforming a space into something I adore. When we first moved into this home 5+ years ago, passion flowed freely as I thought about HOW much fun it would be to change up All The Things. It’s something that uses all my creative juices. I love a little modern, fun, contemporary, mid-century, romantic boho (the bold florals in the kids playroom and Avery’s room), simple, clean, bold, etc.. I love it all. I carry around bits and pieces of each style that flows into the next room. I’ve realized that I haven’t asked for much advice from anyone about our home because I want it to reflect everything I love instead of someone else’s style or trend. And honestly, I’m so opinionated about my funky style in our house that I’m afraid to hear that someone else doesn’t like it, haha. By making sure that I’m undeniably obsessed with everything I put in our home, it’s become a sanctuary that sparks joy. And thank YOU for popping over to this corner of mine. It’s because of YOU that I’m able to use my passions to redesign spaces and support my family. I couldn’t do ANY of this without your support. All the messages, comments, and love.. I read every single note you send and it melts me. I feel too lucky to have such kind readers!!! I pray and hope to be a place of encouragement and information. Have a question? Drop it in the comments below!
It’s that time of year to pull out all the spooky critters and tricks! We haven’t decided on halloween outfits yet but the house is decorated and the kids absolutely love it! The kids all love the idea of decking the house out in creepy crawlers. And if y’all saw on my instagram stories, the neighborhood kids all got a good scare when my hubby Aaron was hanging up the spiders when suddenly he was attacked by the BIG HAIRY SPIDERS. Half of the on-looking neighborhood kids were terrified while the other half were trying to convince themselves that it was all fake. haha.
I’m super excited to share this highly requested tutorial explaining how to hang these spiders on the exterior of a home! Y’all ready for it? It’s super complicated <wink wink>.
We simply hot glued the legs directly on to the brick and stone. Works like a charm! You can also use outdoor command hooks if you have a painted house.
Happy Fall! The mornings are starting to feel breezy and this mama has been craving biting into a sticky, sweet caramel covered apple! I love to drizzle chocolates and candies on a freshly dipped caramel surface! Unfortunately, my favorite apples can be quite a mess for little sis so she helped me make some easy caramel apple bites. These are a family favorite and a great snack to share! It’s SO simple to make, all you’ll need is 3 ingredients. Tap ON OVER TO INSTAGRAM to see our fun video!
Caramel Apple Bites
1 bag mini Pretzel twists
1 bag Rolos
2 Green apples
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lay out pretzels on to a baking sheet. Add a Rolo to the center of each pretzel. Bake for 3 minutes until candy is softened (not melted!). As it’s in the oven, chop apples into cubes. Pierce the apple with a long toothpick and push into the Pretzel Rolo. Allow time to cool. Voila!
Gourmet Caramel Apples
6 Granny Smith Apples
1 pkg meltable caramels
Few tablespoons milk (or water)
6 lollipop sticks for apples
milk/white/colored meltable chocolate wafers
toppings — nuts, candies, oreos, sprinkles, etc..
Drop apples into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes to remove the wax coating. The caramel may slide off the apple if you skip this step. Once dried and cooled, insert the stick deep into the apple. Melt caramels and milk in microwave until caramels are well blended. Cover a baking sheet with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Dip apples, 1 at a time into caramel. Turn them to evenly coat each apple, then use a butter knife to pull off excess caramel back into the bowl. Caramel will naturally pool at the base of the apple as it cools and too much will make it difficult for candy to adhere. Next, decorate with extra toppings and melt the colored chocolate in the microwave. I use a sandwich size bag with a tiny corner snipped off to drizzle the color on top. Refrigerate apples to cool and harden! Enjoy!
❄️Back on our boards! When I wasn’t flat on my face or bum, my legs finally weren’t on fire going down the mountain this time because I braved the art of carving😂! And little did I realize how painful it would be to catch an edge and land right on my tailbone and head. Thank goodness for helmets! I couldn’t bend over properly for a couple weeks afterwards!🤣 I’m fine! I’ll always be fine😉 And to think we brought along 4 little offsprings to join in on the craziness! 🏂🏂🏂🏂 They absolutely killed it and never complained. So grateful for our 4 beautiful babies and their hearts of steel lol! You know we’ll be back to the mountains next year! Tap HERE to see last yearsColorado Snowboarding Trip.
What a vacation?!! A few years ago, Royal Caribbean partnered with our family by bringing us out to explore their new ships! This was a dream since Aaron and I have loved cruising, starting with our honeymoon 13+ years ago, and it’s the easiest and (in my opinion) most affordable way to travel and see the world! We LOVE visiting different islands all while not having to cook meals or clean up. So last month, Royal announced their brand new ship was going to sail its maiden voyage March 4-11th to Haiti, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, and CocoCay. The kids had spring break, Aaron was super busy with patients, so I swept away with just my 8 year olds Ethan + Charlotte to board the Wonder of The Seas!
It’s spring break so I took off with my twins for a week of uninterrupted vacationnnnnn! Best tradition ever with solo vacations with our kiddos😍 Caught a flight to Florida and boarded a brand new ship and i kinda wanna cry with how sweet it’s been to *just* be with them. We started taking our kids on individual trips 3 years ago. They loved it and so did it we. Royal Caribbean called me with a beautiful new sailing and I took my 8 year old twins! Aaron is always booked out with patients a few months in advance and so I took our twins for their 2022 trip by myself and I’m literally crying rn😭🤣 because it’s been the sweetest trip. If you have kiddos you know what it’s like to be busy in sports and activities… We all love our kids but sometimes we don’t feel as connected as we’d hope 100% of the time. And I’m ridiculously protective of the time I’m away from my kiddos… So the tradition of being with even HALF my kids for a beautiful vacation created the most memorable memories I could ask for. I see them perfectly and more importantly, I see them feel perfectly loved by me bc I’m not distracted🤪 Even when i’m not my best. It’s true what they say.. about wisdom not being wasted on our youth. They’re so much more forgiving and full of joy and empathy than us in our “wise years”. Cheers to 100 more years of solo trips with my babies. When will I ever stop calling them my babies?!😭😭😭 (oh my gosh I’m literally crying in the middle of our cruise ship during a musical show while they’re sleeping in my lap😅) I’m ridiculous, along with my tan lines 5 days in🙆🏼♀️😂
Covid restrictions? Yep! Adults and children over the age of 12 need to be vaccinated to sail. I also needed to take a Covid test 2 days before our cruise and provide the negative test result the day we boarded. Since Ethan & Charlotte are not covid vaccinated, they were required to take a total of 3 Covid tests. The first test was with me (2 days before setting sail). The 2nd test was at the ship pier on the first day of the cruise. The 3rd and final test was on the last day of the cruise. Every test was a simple and gentle nose swab. The twins never flinched or fussed which made it feel like not a big deal! We never wore face masks except a short period while stepping on the pier in Puerto Rico and Florida. Also an FYI, since the twins are not vaccinated I was required to book a shore excursion at every non-private island through Royal Caribbean in order to be allowed off the ship. I booked a family pirate treasure hunt excursion in Puerto Rico and the kids wanted to stay on the ship to ride slides on the Bahamas port day. Sometimes it’s super fun to stay on the ship during a port day because there are less people on deck and all the food & drinks are free 😉 We were able to attend all the fun evening shows and try out a ton of restaurants.
🐍Happy 10th Bday to our snake-lovin’ Savannah Jane. She asked for a snake party and this mama understood the assignment😂 The girls and I had fun in the kitchen all morning making a bunch of slitherin’ goodies, blowing up balloons, and inviting her favorite friends over to the house. Savannah spent the evening gobbling down her beloved homemade chili & cornbread dinner, painting wooden snakes with her girlfriends, laser tag in-the-dark in the backyard, hot tubbing while watching Matilda🎥, and blowing out double-digit candles on her homemade birthday cake!🎂 The kind of gal that wanted this party is exactly what makes her so lovable! I admire her confidence, kindness, uniqueness, and fearlessness. Happiest birthday, Savannah Jane🖤
Savannah asked me to make her a snake cake and I envisioned green colored fondant wrapped around Bundt cakes sliced in half to create that long creepy tail. It would’ve been a disaster on my end since I waited until 3 days before her party to plan the entire thing! In true fashion, I work well in chaos haha. I ordered on Amazon the balloons, green vines, 4 snakes to rest on top of her cake, wooden snakes and paint palates, snake bracelets and headbands for the girls, and Savannah’s rainbow snake top + black soft skirt. The snake-print top is actually a women’s size XS and it has a relaxed fit on her.. she’s OBSESSED with it!!
As for the food, I jumped on my computer and scrolled through Pinterest to find creepy crawler snack inspo! Boy did it come through!! I wrote a grocery list and ran to the grocery store! To nail down her cake, we skimmed through “snake cakes” and she showed me a few cakes and her favorite part of each design. They all looked super weird but I was past the shock factor at this point. Do snakes gross me out? Absolutely. Do I support her commitment? You bet lol. I picked up a large and small chocolate layer cake from our local grocery store. If you followed my Instagram stories, you probably caught my major doubts after an hour of decorating. It didn’t look promising😂. But the more I covered it with random crap, the better it looked. Wise words 😉
We did Snake Eyes Jello (grapes in green jello), Baby Snakes in Dirt (chocolate/vanilla pudding with crushed Oreos and gummy worms), Fruit Snakes (grapes + strawberries w/edible eyes), Snake Tails (fruit-by-the-foot), Popcorn & Worms, and these Gorgeous Snake Cookies! I overnighted a snake cookie cutter from Etsy and asked a talented decorator here in Frisco to make these stunning cookies!! I was so grateful for Beth since I KNOW it’s a busy season and she made these last-minute for us! Savannah also wanted a yummy blue drink, so I just grabbed a gallon from the store and used leftover cocktail cups from last New Year’s Eve. We turned down the lights, tossed confetti and twinkle lights everywhere, and were ready to party! She had the time of her life and I bet she’ll always look back on this birthday with the quirkiest and most fun memories!
We had this chili & cornbread on Sunday for our family dinner and SO many of y’all sent DM’s asking for the recipe. This is SO easy to make and the clean-up is even easier! It is low-fat, high in fiber, and VERY yummy! I love adding sour cream, cheese, avocados, and tortilla chips. You can also add tomatoes, chopped onion, cilantro, salsa, guacamole, olives, or anything else you’d like!
EASY Mexican Chili
1 can ranch style beans
2 cans fat-free refried beans
1 can black beans (drain & rinse)
1 can kidney beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can sweet corn
1 can rotel original
1 can tomato sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning dry mix
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dry mix (3 T)
1/2 cup chopped onion
Brown meat with chopped onion. Put in large Crock-Pot with all remaining ingredients (Don’t drain the cans before!). Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6. THAT’S IT!!
1 yellow cake mix
1 box jiffy corn muffin mix
1/4 cup Canola oil
1 1/2 cups milk
Mix ingredients well, pour in greased 9×13 dish. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. (I usually end up covering mine with foil half way through because it’s browning on the top faster than the inside is cooking. So I’ll just check after 30 minutes by sticking a knife in to see how gooey the inside is. Once the top is browned and it’s not gooey anymore inside, it’s ready!)
Happy Halloween! Okay, this year has flown by and we literally found our family costumes last week! I rounded up Halloween pics from the last 13 Halloweens together. SOOOO many fun memories making all of their costumes when they were little. Aaron and I still love to do a family costume but the kids can choose another costume if they’d like to go trick-or-treating in. We always go around the neighborhood with a bunch of cousins. This year, we were watching a movie and all of the kids picked characters from the movie! Can’t wait to share our 14th Halloween tomorrow!
All the makeup!!! If you’ve missed my makeup tutorials on my Instagram stories, I’ve linked each of the products I’ve shown right here on this page! Be sure to check out THIS BLOG POST where I’ve included the order I apply the makeup and the shades of each product!