Recommendations for Seaside!

Last year around this same time we didn't have any plans for the summer.  But somehow before the Summer was over we went on three amazing vacations that I've been wanting to share with you.  I'm telling you this because it's never too late to plan a vacation and it is so important to take time off, tell it to your neighbor.

So, the first of the 3 vacations was to Seaside Beach, Florida.  I fell in love with this magically simple but luxurious place on 30A! If you've seen The Truman Show then you've seen Seaside.  It is a thoughtfully designed community along the beach and centered around a thriving town square with everything you need in walking distance.  While we were there I kept thinking, "this is how life is supposed to be!"  Here are some of my recommendations for the destination:

1. Getting There.  If you drive and if you're driving from Texas, research the traffic in Mobile, Alabama.  Depending on the day of the week and time you are traveling, the tunnels in Mobile are known to back up, so try to find alternate routes if you don't want to delay your vacay.  Also, this On-The-Go Drawing Kit, unavailable online but I still see them at Target, was a midway road trip surprise our kids loved.  It could easily be put together on your own in a zippered pouch with a doodle book, skinny markers, colored pencils and a sharpener.  #crayonsmelt!

2.  Arranging your stay.  You could find a house to rent through VRBO but I recommend the convenience of the on-site rental company, Cottage Rental Agency.  Their welcome swag bag was SWEET! The name of our cottage was Gentle Breeze and it was perfect for our family of 4.

3.  Chair rental.  You might give some serious thought to splurging and renting chairs and umbrellas on the beach from the Cabana Man.  There's a pretty big climb of stairs up and over the sand dune to get to the beach and you're hands are already full with a cooler, sand toys, beach bags...  Pamper yourself and arrive to an area on the beach all set up for you by the Cabana Man.

4.  Food Trucks.  I have picky eaters, so I loved this.  To feed my family, I could get a grilled cheese for my daughter at The Melt Down on 30A truck, chicken fingers for my son at Barefoot BBQ and my Husband and I could get whatever we want, too!  And then we can all eat together at a picnic table and get #BlueLips from shaved ice at the Frost Bites truck.  Like a food court at the beach that you can walk to from your cottage! PS-We saw Tony Romo in line here!

5.  Handcut Fries from Pickle's.  One of my favorites from Seaside was the fries at Pickle's, I think I had them three times while we were there.  The seasoning is perfect and my Husband has the same opinion.

6.  Charlie's Donut Truck.  My kids are in their PJs here because at Charlie's the early bird gets the worm.  Charlie's Donut Truck at Alys Beach is a little bit of a drive from Seaside, but so worth it.  I'm a donut person and these donuts were delicious!

7. Duckies.  This toy shop was so FUN!!!  Best one in the area!

8.  Go Exploring.  Drive through beautiful Alys Beach and check-out Rosemary Beach.  Or just go to visit and have a treat at The Sugar Shak!

9.  The Amphitheater.  A big open green space for kids to run around in by day and concerts by night.  The Barefoot BBQ truck uses frisbees as their plates, you get to keep them and the kids can throw them around, genius!

10. Ono Surf Shop.  It was around Father's Day so we got Joseph a Boogie Board he had his eyes on at the Ono Surf Shop.  Great selection of gear and sporty swimwear!

11.  Sand Toys Bag.  Find and use a mesh pop up hamper for the sand toys.  Ours was from Ikea but I can't find it online.  The sand just falls out and everything dries quickly.

12.  Bring Puddle Jumpers or Life Jackets even for the not-so-little ones.  The water advisory was a Red Flag the whole time we were there.  I had to give up on riding waves because I ran out of strength and the water beat me up!  Kinda scary.

14.  Scooters! (previous post) Bring them from home so the kids can get around easily and it's a small thing to pack compared to a bicycle.  However there is convenient bike rental!

If you're looking for a vacation where you can go to the beach everyday and take a nap every afternoon and then walk to dinner, Seaside is your vacation spot!  And it's never too late to schedule a vacation or a staycation at home.  Stay tuned for posts on our other 2 destinations!  And in the meantime, if you've been missing recommendations like these, I do mini "TITYN" posts on Instagram all the time, see you there! Or you could go straight to the links on my LIKEtoKNOW.it page!


the SALE is This Weekend

There's an event this weekend you're going to want to tell your neighbor about, it's called the SALE.  The BEST boutiques in Houston are bringing their end of season merchandise to one location and they are offering it at dramatic discounts!!  I know, you're already excited and I haven't mentioned the best part:  the SALE is a philanthropic event benefiting The University of Texas MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital!  All of this genius-ness is brought to us by Houston Tri Deltas.

Now I know you have a few questions so here's the who, what, when, where, how:

Who will be there?  We will!  Houstonians who are looking for a bargain and would rather shop to cure childhood cancer than shop at the mall.
What boutiques will be there?  Some of my favorites from the list are Julie Rhodes, a Bientot, DYI, Elaine Turner, Presmer and Tootsies.  And I can't wait to check out the home boutiques that will be there, too!
When?  This Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 10 & 11.  Noon to 6 pm.  There's also a preview brunch from 10 to Noon on Saturday!
Where?  The Bayou City Event Center, just south of NRG Stadium, 9401 Knight Rd., Houston,TX 77045, 281-501-6720.
How?  Purchase tickets now for $15 or at the door for $20.  Click here for tickets.  I just purchased mine and there's also an opportunity to just plain donate!

I'm excited and I hope to see you there!  Here's a pic from my summer trip to Grand Cayman with these sweet, courageous Houston Tri Deltas I love:


The Art of Decluttering

I can hardly wait for the first of the year to be here so I can start Peter Walsh's "#31Days2GetOrganized" again!  Were you wondering if I was going to do it again?  Can your Instagram or Facebook news feed handle it again?!  Don't worry, I'm going to do it differently this THIRD time.  After going through it twice now, completing 62 challenges (here's where I started exactly a year ago, here's what I learned, and here's where I did it again (see videos below)), I've come a long way and letting go of stuff isn't as hard as it used to be, tell it to your neighbor!  For me, one of the keys to letting go is bringing all the stuff (the "challenge" of the day) out to one spot.  When I'm alarmed by the quantity, I can let go.

For example when I brought all the toys from around the house into one spot and it covered the living room floor, I was alarmed and letting go was easy!

So this time I'm going to bring it all out (whatever the challenge of the day is) and do something fun and creative with the "stuff".  This will help me look forward to the challenge and not procrastinate.  I'll take one photo of the creation and post it on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtags #TheArtOfDecluttering and #31Days2GetOrganized.  Follow along by liking my Facebook page or following me on Instagram.

If you're interested in doing the challenges too, that would make me very happy!  The more friends doing this together the more motivating it is to finish.  Watch Peter's intro video (above), he's as excited as I am for this to start!  To participate, like his page and/or subscribe to his YouTube channel for the daily challenges!  It's a 10-15 minute challenge a day for 31 days in January.  If you'd like to see the progress I've made, watch the two video's below:

I can't wait, it's going to be fun!  Join me!


5 Tips to Help Your Holiday

I often say to myself, "There's got to be a better way."  Then, I do my best to come up with that better way.  These next 5 tips are things I've come up with that might help your Holiday.  When things are easier, simpler and faster, there is less stress.  And we all could use a little less stress over the next couple weeks, right?!

The Amazing Gallon Ziploc!  Saran Wrap and Aluminum Foil drive me crazy, they're messy and they don't really seal.  Press'n Seal bothers me because it leaves behind a residue.  The gallon bag is my "better way".  I try to store everything in it, a pie, a plate of leftovers, a bowl of dip without a top...  Just slide it in and zip it closed, piece of cake... or pie!

Leave the ice cream top in the freezer.  Next time your serving ice cream or just eating from the pint, avoid the messy melting top and instead leave it behind in the freezer.  When you return your ice cream to the freezer, put the 'still frozen' top back on, tell it to your neighbor!

Cheeky Disposable Goods.  During the holidays it's hard to keep the house clean with young kids.  We are in and out of the house dropping stuff and going to the next thing.  This is when I break out the disposable goods for a few days.  This Cheeky brand at Target donates a meal for every item purchased!  You can read more about it, here.  Their plastic cups are recyclable!

Teach them Slapjack.  When you run out of things to do and the kids run out of patience waiting for the big meal, grab a deck of playing cards and teach them Slapjack.  I did this at Thanksgiving and I think this epic game lasted over an hour and a half!  Here's how to play: Slapjack.  I'd say this game is for 5 year olds and up but 4 year olds can play, too if there's an older kiddo to help them.

Instacart.  The grocery store is one of my least favorite places to go.  I've used Instacart a couple times when my husband has been out of town and I've been in a bind (or I just didn't want to take two tired kiddos into a pre-thanksgiving grocery store).  It's an app on your phone, it's grocery delivery for a small fee and the first time is free!  Download the app, enter your zip and see if the service is in your area.  If it's not, my prediction is it will be soon!


Free Shipping: Who's got it and for how long?

What's the difference between shopping in the store and shopping online?  Shipping costs and traffic.  Well, you can avoid both with this list I've compiled of twelve sites offering free shipping, tell it to your neighbor!  I've also included the deadline for free shipping, some of the smart sites have it all the time.

#1.  Nordstrom - Free Shipping.  Free Returns.  All the time.  (Why can't all retailers follow this model!) Check out the cool stuff in their Pop-In gift shop.

#2.  Amazon - Free Shipping on orders over $35 until 12-30-14.  (Remember when Amazon was all books, ha!  The two books above, Erin Gates and Sarah Richardson, are on my wish list!)

#3.  Target - Get free standard shipping just for the holidays.  (I'm not sure when their holidays end, it's not listed on the website.)

#4.  St. Bernard Sports - Free 3 day shipping and returns on all orders.  My husband loves to shop off this site, great sales!  (We're getting these Yeti Ramblers for the adults in our family, they are TITYN amazing!  Keeps your drink warm for hours!)

#6.  YoYo - Free 2-day delivery or faster on $49+.  No end date.  I had to include YoYo even though they have a minimum because you can't beat 2-day delivery and they have saved my last-minute booty so many times!

#7.  Zappos - Free 2 business day shipping.  Free Returns.  All the time.  Zappos is so reliable and almost magical with the turnaround!  Think UGG slippers and ear muffs for gifts!

#8. Kendra Scott - Free Ground Shipping on all orders.  No minimums + free returns.  Ends 12/18. This is fantastic!  Check out her under $55 gift guide and color bar.

#9. Urban Outfitters - Free Shipping, No Minimum, Ends Today 12/8!

#10.  GlassyBaby - forever free shipping on every glassybaby everyday.  And every glassy baby gives to organizations that support people in all kinds of need.  Check out their beautiful sets.

#11. The Scholastic Store - Free standard shipping on book orders over $35.  This applies to only books and not books on sale.  Looks like you'll want to order by 12/12 for Christmas delivery.

#12.  L.L. Bean - Free Shipping. No minimum order.  No end date.  L.L. Bean has GoPros, if you know someone who has one, just get them an accessory and they'll be happy!  And you can't beat L.L. Bean's customer service, last year they sent me a $25 gift card because my delivery was late.

I hope this list helps make your Holiday shopping easy, thoughtful and fast!  And happy without traffic! :)


After I published this post, I got several emails offering free shipping!  Here's an additional list:

Serena and Lily - Free Shipping with code FESTIVE.  Offer ends at 11:59 (PT) on 12/9/14.
PBS Kids Shop - Free Shipping no minimum, ends today 12/8.  
West Elm - Free Shipping today only 12/8 with code OHMERRYDAY, excludes furniture, rugs and SMEG appliances.
Pottery Barn Kids - Free Shipping with code FREESHIP, excludes furniture, ends tonight 12/8.


Insta-card Round Up

Some years I know the exact photo and the exact card I want to use for our Christmas cards.  Other years I have no idea because the possibilities are endless!  This is one of the years I can't decide on the picture(s) or the card.  I'm torn because I love our professional family photos we had done for the first time in 3 years and then I like the idea of using one or several of my favorite Instagram photos.

With Instagram, most of the time I'm the photographer, I've cropped and filtered the photo and the picture I share is a special moment in our lives.  So, my Instagram feed is a scrapbook of all my favorite photos.  It seems only natural to use one or several of these for our Christmas Card.  I love this idea so much that I've compiled a collection for you.  This is a collection of my favorite cards that will work with your favorite Instagram posts!  

First category is the Insta-Grid.  The Insta-grid card features a collection of photo highlights from the past year:

Polaroid Collection

Family Snapshots Christmas Photo Card - Minted - Griffenbell Paper Co.

Then there's the Selfie category.  This overused word becomes cute again when you say "Have your SELFIE a Merry Little Christmas!":

Have Yourselfie Christmas Photo Card - Minted - Kelli Hall

 I like this one (above) so much that I had to insert one of my favorite family selfies.

Selfie Holiday Photo Card - Minted - Design Market

Next is the Single Square category.  Instagram is all square photos. These cards keep that composition for you, no need to zoom or crop your favorite Instagram of the year.:

Warmest Wishes - Pink - Paperless Post - J.Crew
This card (maybe my favorite) was designed my J.Crew.  Had to try out one of my most loved instas in it!
Konfetti - Photo - Paperless Post - Kelly Wearstler

Last category is A Few Favorites.  These cards are for instagram squares but only a few favorites because the grid might take too long to customize, ha!:

Modern Candy Stripes Holiday Photo Card - Minted - Kimberly Morgan
Holiday Stripes - Paper Culture
Love, Peace and Hope - Paper Culture

Wait there is one more!  This next card is just because I love it (another one designed by J.Crew) and I used a fun selfie from our Colorado vacation:

Farewell to '14 - Pink - Paperless Post - J.Crew

Now, neighbors, don't stress about your card.  People plan weddings in less time than we have to order, address and send our cards.  Have fun finding the card you love.  This Holiday tradition is the best, December is the only month I watch for the mail carrier, ha!

Below is a little Cyber Monday information about the collection of cards in this blog post.  All the cards in this post are from Minted, Paper Culture or Paperless Post.  Here's a breakdown of what each site is offering:

Minted - 15% off + free shipping on Holiday Cards.  Use code 15CM.  Ends 12/2.  Plus, for a limited time, the Minted Envelope is free!
Paper Culture - 50% off Holiday Cards and Stationary.  Ends 12/4.
Paperless Post - 30% off sitewide + free ground shipping.  Use code WINTER30.  Ends 12/2.

Happy sending and receiving Holiday snail mail!