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Connecting Cultures with Fashion: Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos… On Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 it is Hispanic tradition to hold a holiday to remember dead ancestors and celebrate their rebirth. The tradition began with pre-Hispanic culture influences that saw death as a transition between lives. {Learn more about Dia de los Muertos.} This tradition is celebrated all over the valley where I live here in Central Washington – since our local economy is based on agriculture, we have a really large Hispanic population here. It’s very cool that over the past few years we’ve seen bigger and better celebrations that are important to their culture, and give us a chance to learn more about them. We have one of the biggest {maybe even THE biggest} Cinco de Mayo celebration in the state, an amazingly delicious Tamale Festival, and several events to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. I love that Abby gets a chance to be exposed to new experiences like this.

Mixed Up Clothing is a multiethnic children's clothing line [Read more…]


Planning Tips for Hosting a Perfect Summer Party

There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them… Who loves to party? You know that I sure do, right? I love any type of party – from a fancy wedding dinner party event, to a barefoot camp out on the beach. But my favorite parties happen right here in my home – with my best-est, most favorite-est friends and family. {Yes, I know I just made up a couple of words…. :)} We entertain here throughout the year, but summertime is my favorite, since we have a pretty awesome outdoor space. So if you’re ready to spice up your summer entertaining, keep reading for some of my fave tips for planning the perfect party:

summer entertaining tips

Looking for some ideas to spice up your summer parties, has entertaining tips and how-tos for entertaining at home!

The most important essential for hosting a successful summer party is planning! A great plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but you want to cover all of the bases – cleaning before and after, a theme, menu and drink choices, decorations, games, favors, and guests. So, here are some easy peasy tips to help you plan ahead for your own perfect party this summer:

  • Cleaning: We all know that this is a super important part of having guests over, right? Check out a great post on Step-by-Step Quick Cleaning Tips for your Rental Home – these also apply to home owners too. This includes a room-by-room break down on quickly getting your house ready for guests! And, to make clean-up after the party simple too, read my tips on making any party a one-bag party!
  • Theme: Any party is easier – and much more fun! – with a theme. Whether you go super simple and just pick a couple colors to tie things together, or get more elaborate with a theme like a Summer Luau party, a fun Football party during Superbowl, or  a family game night, a theme makes it much simpler to pick your menu, drinks, games, and other fun party stuff.
  • Food & Drink: If you need some inspiration for super cool party foods and unique drink ideas, check out my boards on Pinterest. You’ll find super fun creations to make for your next summer party – including great ideas for kids foods too.
  • Decorations, Games, & Favors: These are totally up to you… I personally love to make most of my decor and favors myself – with a little help from fun Dollar Store finds, and party packs from Oriental Trading Company. You can also use free printables for many of your party needs, from invitations to banners, to cupcake toppers. Love these.
  • Guests: As I mentioned in Neighbor-Friendly Entertaining Do’s & Don’ts, it’s super important to make sure you invite the kind of guests who will not only be respectful of your home, but also of your neighborhood too. If your guests leave empty bottles and cans along the sidewalk as they leave, your neighbors are going to consider that your mistake – and will rightly expect you to clean it up. Not a great way to make friends in your ‘hood, you know?

So, armed with these great tips, anyone can put together a great plan for their next summer party – or a party any other time of the year. One of my favorite sayings has always been, “Failing to plan is like planning to fail,” because it’s just so true. Yes, a party can be put together on the fly, and sometimes you get lucky. But even a last minute party can benefit from just a few quick minutes of planning – make a couple of lists, divide up the tasks between a few trusted helpers, and things should flow much more smoothly! 

The do's and don'ts of summer party hosting

“Like” on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @Rentals_com to get their latest tips on making the most of your home. When you’re ready for a new place to call home, has the information you’ll need to find the perfect property for your family – choose from rental houses, apartments, condos or townhouses. 

What are your best tips for planning a perfect summer party? Share ’em in the comments!

{Disclosure: and owner Consumer Source, Inc. partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in blogger programs.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products featured, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.The winner of this giveaway will be randomly chosen and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party. Photo Credit: Chronogram.}


Neighbor-Friendly Entertaining Do’s & Don’ts

“I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.” – Nancie J. Carmody… As you know, I love to entertain. Especially during the summer months, since we have a pretty great outdoor space with the pool and patio here in our new house. But, while entertaining at home can be a blast, it also comes with quite a few challenges too! So, with a little inspiration from my good friends over at and Apartment Guide, I’ve put together a smart set of solutions for your next party – check ’em out:

neighbor-friendly entertaining tips

“Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbor’s noisy party than being there.” – Unknown

Even though our home is on a pretty big piece of land, we still have neighbors that are close enough to hear all of the good times happening out at the patio and pool. And if you’re living in a neighborhood where the houses are really close to each other, or even an apartment building or duplex, then you know that it’s NO fun listening to someone’s big party when you’re trying to sleep! So here are a few tips to solve that problem during the next party your throw at home:

  • Meet & Invite the Neighbors: This is especially important if you’ll be entertaining while living in an apartment – and it’s a great way to meet your neighbors if you’re new to the area. {Want tips on how to break the ice with new neighbors? Easy peasy ideas that really work.} So, DO head on over and introduce yourself, give them an invite to your upcoming party, and be sure to leave them your number if they won’t be able to make it – so that they can let you know if things get too noisy. When approached in a friendly way like this, most people are a lot more likely to overlook a little extra noise. DON’T just party away all night long and expect the neighbors to still love ya in the morning!
  • Plan Ahead: We’re lucky to have a big area out back for parking – but at my old house, we could only fit 3 cars in the driveway. That meant people had to park on the road, which sometimes would block my neighbors parking – which is NOT a good thing! So, if you have limited parking too, DO come up with a plan before the party, and make sure to communicate that to all of your guests. And, make sure that you plan your seating areas well – DON’T put a bunch of tables and chairs right next to your neighbors fence, where the talking and jokes may be loud enough for them to bothered by. Keep seating closer to your own home, and make sure to have areas to move inside when it gets late.
  • Mind the Music: Loud music is part of having a good time, I know. But, if you’re entertaining outdoors, please remember that other families nearby may not appreciate those sweet tunes you love so much when they’re keeping their toddler awake at 11pm. So, be fair to those around you, DO drop the volume after 10pm.
  • Know your Friends: Remember that your neighbors will see your guests as an extension of yourself – if they are outside being obnoxious until late hours, use a lot of profanity where children can hear it, leave empty cans or bottles in the yard or along the street – your neighbors are going to consider that your responsibility. So DO make sure that the buddies you invite over will be respectful of you, and your neighborhood, and DON’T invite that friend who always drinks too much and starts a fight.

With a little bit of extra care and planning, you can make sure that your next party isn’t just fun for you and your guests – you’ll also ensure that it’s a great experience for your neighbors too! Whether they decide to join you in the festivities, or are just pleasantly surprised by the care you take to keep things calm, cool, and under control when guests stay late – either way, you’ve definitely made some new friends in the neighborhood! And hey – maybe they’ll invite you to their next sweet party too, right? Good times.

do's and don'ts of summer party hosting

“Like” on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @Rentals_com to get their latest tips on making the most of your home. is the #1 online source for single family home rentals, apartments and houses for rent. You can also find tons more sweet tips for entertaining in a smaller space on the blog.

What is your best entertaining Do or Don’t tip? Share in the comments!

{Disclosure: and owner Consumer Source, Inc. partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in blogger programs.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products featured, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.The winner of this giveaway will be randomly chosen and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party.}


Simple Family Taco Night Party – #JuneDairyMovies

Did you know June is Dairy Month?… You guys know how much I love to entertain, right? And with summer finally showing it’s bright, cheery face around here, my entertaining schedule goes into overdrive! We have a big patio, in ground pool, and a really great, fenced-in yard and field. So what I’m saying is, we’ve got the perfect gathering place for all of our friends and family to come and cool off when it’s hot out! We celebrated last weekend with a little #GrabSummerFun party, as we took the winter cover off of the pool, and started prepping it for summer. This week we’ve had little shindigs almost every evening… I just love an excuse to get the family outside and enjoying the weather together in the evenings. And, since June is Dairy Month at Safeway, which means you get free movie tickets to see the new Ice Age flick when you buy $40 bucks worth of participating dairy goodies, I planned a family night dinner around that, to take advantage of the freebie!

Safeway Just for U

“In summer, the song sings itself.” – William Carlos Williams

Have you checked out the new Safeway Just for U program yet? If you’ve ever shopped at Safeway, I’m sure you already have the Safeway Club Card – the cool red card you swipe at check out to get your extra savings. But now, Safeway has made it even easier to save when you stock up on your families summer favorites – Sign up for Safeway Just for U today, and you get personalized savings tips, you can add digital coupons right to your club card, and right now you get a special coupon for a free dozen eggs added to your card just for joining. Super simple, very smart. {There’s an even an app for your phone too!}

dairy month

June Dairy Month at Safeway = Free Ice Age Movie Tickets #JuneDairyMovies

To get this sweet deal that’s going on this month at Safeway, look for the Dairy Month signs around the store. You’ll see it explained in their weekly sales ad, in big display signs in the dairy aisles, and each participating item will be marked with a little sale tag, so you know for sure what qualifies. I decided to go with a fun Taco Night family get-together, since things like shredded Mexican blend cheese, Dairgold sour cream, and nacho cheese were included in the dairy promotion. Then, since we were inviting Grandma and Papa over too, I picked up supplies to make Root Beer Floats, since those are her favorite. {And the Tillamook ice cream is also part of the promo!} Love getting little freebies like this, just for buying stuff we would have needed anyway.

dairy month taco night

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen

We loooooove us some Taco Night around here! And since we had a couple of extra friends over, plus Grandma, I made sure to stock up on lots of extra stuff – 3 types of chips to go with 3 different salsas {watch for my tropical salsa recipe tomorrow!}, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos and olives, lettuce, tomato, and onions, spanish rice and beans – and of course, FOUR pounds of taco meat!! Whew, I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it all….

fun with water

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

While I cooked up this simple homemade dinner, the kids cooked up their own fun outside. Since we hit a snag getting the big pool opened up for summer {we have to replace the pump. Ugh.} the kids have to make do with the kiddie pool and slip n’ slide. I absolutely LOVE this shot of Abby… She just learned about the hose, and that she can wave it around to spray the water, and thinks it’s the funnest thing of all time. And while I wish her face was in this shot, I love the way it catches the movement of the water. Very cool.

Dairy Month Taco Night Collage

“When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.” – Joyce Brothers

Finally, dinner was ready – and everyone grabbed towels to gather up for dinner on the patio. Mmmm…. How can you not love a big double-decker taco, perfectly cheesy, topped with crisp lettuce and tangy salsa? So good! And the rootbeer floats were totally a hit – we haven’t had those in over a year. {The fact that I added glow-in-the-dark straws made them even cooler…}

free tickets for ice age

Have your own summertime family night!

Head to your local Safeway store anytime this month, {or any affiliate like Vons, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Pavillions or Carrs} and buy participating dairy items. You don’t have to spend the $40 all at once like I did – if you use your Safeway Club Card, it’ll automatically add up your purchases each time you shop, and let you know how close you are to getting your free tickets. You could have a fun Italian night, with a yummy baked ziti covered in cheeses, partnered with gelato, or BBQ up some burgers, and top ’em with some delicious Tillamook sliced cheese. Then, once you’ve spent $40 bucks, the register will print out a Catalina coupon like the one above, that you can redeem online for two free tickets to see the new Ice Age movie in theaters. That means you’ll get another fun family night, almost free.

“I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich.” – Dan Wilcox

Collective BiasI am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Safeway #CBias #SocialFabric. All photos and opinions shared here are 100% my own. For more info on this June Dairy Month promotion visit


No Budget to Hire a Nerd? Try!

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, is the good ol’ flyer a thing of the past?… If you need to get the word out about an event, you may feel inclined to type up something in Helvetica and head to the photocopier, but we have a better idea…

Smore makes creating web pages simple - no coding needed

Meet your new event coordinator— Smore

Imagine, you (yes, you!) can create a beautiful web page with no coding experience and no design chops. Whether you’re spreading the word about a book club event, a small business, a networking event or a bake sale fundraiser for your local theatre, Smore is a great way to create a compelling online flyer with all the information, share it through social media and email, and how many people it’s reaching. Creating a flyer is fun, fast and it looks so professional everyone will think you have a design nerd on staff.

Smore makes pretty web pages… no coding required

I am seriously in love with this site. I’ve been playing around with it this morning, and it is seriously simple to use – very intuitive. {And if you know me well, you know I’m NOT a techy type. Yes, I run a blog, but what I’m good at is taking pretty pictures, writing stories, and telling jokes. The tech side is more challenging to me. Which is why I LOVE that my girls at Digitwirl teach me these great tips each week. Subscribe to them. Seriously, so smart.} Anyway – the site is very easy to use, and I’m still turning my brain thinking of cool new ways to use it…

  • It’s got tons of options: Choose Event Invitation, Product to Sell, Personal Flyer for a Person, Flyer for a Business or Shop, Informational Newsletter Style, or just use the “other” if nothing really fits. Coupon or Ad Promotion, and App are coming soon too.
  • Get Inspired: Check out this sweet gallery of cool ideas and examples of what you can create with their online templates, and find inspiration for new ways to create buzz for your event or new promotion. They all use the same layout, and while they do share a similar feel – they are all able to give a totally custom feel using different photos, fonts, colors, and styles. Love it.

I’m definitely going to be using this a lot – and am SO super grateful to the ladies at Digitwirl for sharing this. The video made it SO easy to jump right in and get started. {For more tech made simple tips, services, and products – browse my board on Pinterest.}

What Ideas do You Have for Fun Ways to Use this Free Service?

Carley from DigitwirlDigitwirl is the weekly web show that offers simple solutions to modern day problems. In 3 minutes, Digitwirl brings busy women the very best time, money, and sanity-saving technology, and then teaches them how to use it, step-by-step. Digitwirl was created by technology lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch, who uses lots of technology to manage her busy life as mom of two and entrepreneur. Become a subscriber to get weekly show alerts and exclusive deals at, or follow Digitwirl on Twitter at @digitwirl.



Easy Cake Pops: How to Video Makes it Simple!

I love me some cake pops –  And since I’m also VERY much a Semi-Homemade cooking type of gal, I’m a big fan of recipes that involve shortcuts – like pre-made, store-bought products that make the process a little simpler. That is why I’m excited to share this great Cake Pops recipe… It’s not a ton of work, but it’s jazzed up enough that no one will EVER know that it started as out with a simple pound cake you bought at the grocery… Enjoy!

Love Cake Pops? Check out these great goodies too:




Super Fun Bake Pops Ideas!! #baking #holidays #recipes

Bake Pop Ideas

Who Loves Bake Pops?

Heck I know I do! I think that these are one of the funnest baking ideas to come around in a long time. {Is funnest even a word?….} So, if you’re like me, and love Bake Pops, and love fun holiday baking ideas, you’ll love this post! You’ll learn some super creative ideas, and find out why using the Bake Pop pans are WAAAY easier than making pops by hand!

Why I love Bake Pops

We just got our Bake Pop set last Friday – and I am SO excited to start creating some fun goodies! And the set is pretty impressive – it comes with so much stuff. Check it out – the deal is still available:

Get the Bake Pop Double Kit – 150 Pieces of Baking Fun!! Only $19.99!!

This little gadget makes it SO easy to make fun baked goodies that look like you’re a pro – even if you’re not! {I love to bake, but am super likely to run into total catastrophes! Lol.} You whip up any cake mix – from scratch or from a box – pour it into the Bake Pop pans, cook ’em up, pop ’em out, then dip ’em and decorate! It is seriously so easy peasy to make them look really impressive!

Love From the Oven:

The first pic above is from Love from the Oven – she has SO many absolutely adorable ideas! This is a really simple Bake Pop – just dipped and covered in sprinkles – then she simply put it in a cellophane bag, and tied on a printable card with ribbon. How fun would this be for a bake sale, kids birthday party, or gifts? So easy, so pretty!

Cake Pop IdeasAnother fun idea: This one comes from Bake Me a Wish – and again, shows you how even just super simple decorating can give you a really cool dessert by using the Bake Pop system!! She dipped these Bake Pops into melted Candy Melts, then covered them with fun sprinkles. She’s got some great tips – but she makes her Bake Pops by hand, and shares some of the problems you can run into doing it this way. That’s why I love my Bake Pop maker! I don’t have to worry about rolling ’em up and keeping them held together.

Bake Pops IdeasMore super fun ideas: If you’re looking for some really fun ideas for your Bake Pop pans, check out this adorable book – Bake Me I’m Yours…Cake Pops: Over 30 designs for fun sweet treats – it’s filled with 30 amazing ideas to make for holidays, birthdays, parties, or just for after-school snacks to impress the kiddo’s! You’ll find a ton of other great books on Amazon too, filled with great recipes for unique cake mixes, fillings, candy coatings, and more.


Have I already said that I love my new Bake Pops kit?? We’ve made brownie pops, dipped in chocolate candy melts, and rolled in one of four toppings – coconut, chopped almonds, oreo cookie crumbs, or chocolate sprinkles. And we made super-yummy French Vanilla Bake Pops, covered with cherry flavored frosting and Edible Pink Glitter – one of my favorite baking “secret weapons” that help make it look like I’m a real master of the kitchen. I’ll share pictures soon! They came out amazingly pretty!

Get your own Bake Pops Double Set today!