Thursday, June 25, 2015

My First Quilt: Circle Baby Statistics Birth Announcement Quilt

My best friend recently had her second baby boy! Cue happy tears and uterus aching. I was so excited for her but had a hard time figuring out what to get for the new little guy. They had everything they needed for him so I decided to do something personalized for him. I remember Grace getting tons of cute blankets and personalized items at my baby shower but Connor got almost none of that being the second baby.

I started to search Pinterest for embroidered baby blankets and happened upon this Circle Quilt Tutorial from Jay Bird Quilts. I had never quilted before in my life but I knew my sewing machine had quilting features and so in a moment of insanity I decided to make a quilt in a very short amount of time. Start to finish, I made this in just under a month. I followed the tutorial exactly with the ruler she recommends. Overall the process was simple, just very time consuming.

Baby Statistics Birth Announcement Quilt

Unlike the tutorial, I didn't have any quilting scraps available so I purchased all of my fabric at Joanns. It wasn't cheap but I had a ton of fun choosing it all. I created the back of the quilt by blocking minky and a penguin fabric (my best friend adores penguins!)

I decided early on that I wanted to embroider the baby's birth statistics on the center piece, so I had to wait for him to be born to finish it. Baby August was born just over a week before we were headed down to visit so he didn't give me much time! I ordered this embroidery file for my embroidery machine from AppliqueCandy on Etsy.

I did most of the hand sewing on the binding during the 3 hour drive down and got it done the night before our first visit with adorable baby August. I think he likes it!

After the craziness of trying to get my first quilt done so fast I'm still not 100% certain I'm cut out to be a quilter. It requires a lot of very precise sewing and a ton of attention to detail. I will probably try to make another one but I will give myself a lot more time!

Have you created anything lately? I'd love to hear about it! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cartoon Nostalgia on Netflix #StreamTeam

Disclosure: As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I received a welcome gift and a free monthly subscription. However, all opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

My kids' idea of watching Saturday morning cartoons is a bit different than my experience was twenty something years ago. Instead of flipping channels to find whatever cartoons happened to be on that morning and sitting through commercials advertising the new must have cereal or toy, my kids simply browse Netflix for their favorite shows and enjoy them commercial free. Their experience certainly trumps mine but I personally think my cartoon favorites are much better quality than the cartoons shown today. That's why I've been excited to see Netflix add many of the shows that I loved as a kid to their streaming collection.

Do you remember watching Ms. Frizzle navigate the human body with her class in Magic School Bus? Or following along with Inspector Gadget as he went on his adventures to nab the bad guy? Now you can share these family friendly classics with your kids! Grace adores horses so I have had fun introducing her to my love of My Little Pony. Mike is excited to introduce Connor to his video game obsession by watching The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. What show are you excited to share with your family?

Check out all of the fun throwback shows available on Netflix now:

Must-Watch Throwbacks

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New on Netflix for Kids and Families

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▪ Gallina Pintadita (Now streaming in Spanish!)
▪ Bindi's Boot Camp (6/15)
▪ Some Assembly Required (6/19)
▪ Dragons: Race to the Edge: Season 1 (6/26)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Stress Free Vacation at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Disclosure: Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the Dude Ranchers' Association provided this trip for myself and 4 other bloggers to help promote the ranch. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% honest and my own. 

What does your summer vacation normally look like? Trying to keep your eyes on your kids on a beach full of people or waiting in long lines at an amusement park? Do you have to make dining reservations months in advance and then still wait in line when you arrive for your meal? That sounds more stressful than relaxing to me! I want to go on a vacation and enjoy my time with my family. I don't want to worry about a schedule or trying to keep my kids entertained in a long line.

My recent trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas opened my eyes to an entirely different kind of family vacation. Unlike many vacations where you need to schedule your activities months in advance, you can do as much or as little as you want at Horseshoe Canyon and you don't need to "sign up" for anything until the meal before. And trust me, if you forget to sign up like we happened to do, the staff will probably forgive you and let you go anyway! A trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is a truly relaxed experience that is made special by the amazing staff.
The Adventure Guides
The Wranglers

From the moment we arrived to the farewell dinner, the staff made every effort to make our trip as memorable as possible. I have never seen a destination that makes each visitor's experience as unique as this one. Each activity is done in small groups and we never felt rushed. The staff ate meals with us, answered every one of our questions, and made us feel like friends. There were many kids there during our stay and every single one told us how much they loved all of the staff. Not only does the ranch offer numerous activities for kids, the staff really take the time to interact with the kids. From teaching them how to rope and use a whip to taking them on critter hunts, none of the kids were ever bored. It wasn't unusual to see one of the wranglers take 5-6 kids on a trail ride while their parents went on a different ride. The parents and kids were both thrilled with the setup!

For the all inclusive experience, the ranch limits it to about 50 guests per week. There were between 25-40 people during our visit which allowed all activities to be done in small groups with individual attention. Each of our trail rides were done with 1 wrangler per 5-6 people. The adventure guides took small groups of 5-10 through the adventure course. The staff made sure that each group got try everything they wanted. When one group had to leave early, the guides took them up to the adventure course a day before it was scheduled so that they could try it. A wrangler, Emily, took us on a trail ride/hike up to the goat cave and a waterfall that we had missed earlier in the week so we wouldn't miss it.

During our skeet shooting experience, another of the wranglers, Jessie, took us over to throw Tomahawks since we had missed trying it earlier in the week. I did well skeet shooting, I actually managed to get one of the clays!
 But Tomahawk throwing doesn't seem to be a talent of mine. It's harder than it looks!

During our time at the adventure course, the guides took the time to talk to us, encourage us, and cheer us on when we conquered something we never expected we could do.

After a fun day of adventure, there's no need to wait in line for a meal, simply take the short walk to the lodge for a delicious homemade meal. The chef is amazing (I promise more about the food tomorrow) and I loved everything she made (and I am an extremely picky eater!). If you need a break during the day or simply want to indulge in a homemade treat, there are jars of yummy cookies and jugs of lemonade and tea in the lodge all day long. I won't admit how many of those cookies I ate but let me just say we spent a LOT of time on the couches in the lodge.

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch offers the most personalized vacation experience I have ever seen. We were all sad to leave the staff that now feel like friends. If you're looking for a unique family vacation, check out Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and you'll find out why families return year after year. I can't wait until I can take my family there to experience everything the ranch has to offer!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Dude Ranch Vacation: Relaxation, Fun & Adventure

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the Dude Ranchers Association sponsored this trip for myself and 4 other bloggers. All opinions are 100% honest and my own. 
Dude Ranch Unique Vacation Idea

When I signed on to travel to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas for a blogger trip, I have to admit I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But as a stay at home mom, I couldn't resist the chance of a kid free 5 day vacation. Full disclosure, I'm not exactly an outdoorsy kind of girl. I am from Kansas and have dealt with my fair share of bugs and critters, but I've never been to a ranch before and have only ridden a horse a couple of times. After speaking to the other bloggers, it was clear that none of us really knew what to expect so off we went on the 4 and a half hour drive that would lead us to a truly amazing experience! I originally wrote vacation there instead of experience and I had to change it because it was truly such a memorable trip for me.
Despite some stormy weather upon our arrival, I could tell that the scenery was breathtaking.

We settled into our cabin and dove right into the numerous activities offered the next morning. From climbing with the Adventure Guides to riding with the Wranglers, there is never a shortage of activities at the ranch. Check out a list of over 50 things to do at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch created by Enza, one of the other bloggers on the trip. Every morning and afternoon we got the chance to do a ride on one of the many beautiful trails on the ranch. The wranglers make every effort to keep you with the same horse all week if you feel comfortable with it. My first horse and I didn't mesh well so they moved me to a different horse, Noah, the next time and he and I got along great.

He was my horse for the rest of the week and we got the chance to do some amazing rides! My favorite was a ride that took us down to the creek where we got to ride our horses into the water to see a beautiful waterfall. Despite Noah's hesitation to go into the water, the wrangler eventually had to come lead him in, it was absolutely gorgeous and I will never forget it.

While riding is what you would normally think of when you hear about a dude ranch vacation, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is full of adventure opportunities and is a famous rock climbing destination. Despite my massive fear of heights, we couldn't pass up some of the adventure course and I'm proud to say I conquered the nearly half mile long zip line and a 40 ft drop swing called The Screamer.

The adventure guides are a fun group of guys who specialize in pushing you out of your comfort zone. Several explained to us that we put limits on ourselves and if we could just get out of our own heads, we could do amazing things. When we were hiking up to the adventure course, I was bound and determined that I was only doing the zip line. Twenty minutes later I was swinging high in the air screaming my lungs out. Thanks to these guys I pushed myself farther than I ever thought I could and am so happy I did. They told us multiple times they never have anyone regret doing things, but they do get calls from people who regret not trying. My kids and husband still can't believe I did the Screamer but luckily I have this video to prove it! Skip to 1:10 if you don't want to see all the prep stuff. 

Our time at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch was truly amazing. The staff was wonderful, the food was delicious, the views were spectacular and the activities were so much fun. While I was ready to come home to see my family, I am now ready to take my whole family back to experience all that Horseshoe Canyon has to offer. I am really missing everything including the simplest moments of sitting on our cabin's deck just watching the rain. 

Photo credit:

Stay tuned next week for more posts about my experiences at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. I have so much I want to share with you about this amazing place! 


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