Archive | FAMILY TRAVEL

FAQ: WHAT’S IN OUR CAMERA BAG

Lots of FAQ lately that I try to always answer personally but find that some days I’m able to give more links, better details and just finish complete sentences better than others. So even though answering things on a personal level ( I love chatting with you!) is always my goal, giving you good, helpful answers is too – so with that in mind, I’m going to put all the answers to your FAQs down in blog post form making it easier for you to find what you need, pin for safe keeping, and reference whenever applicable! YAY!

Our first question is one I’ve been getting on and off for a little over a year and since none of our equipment has changed during that time (for 3 years total actually) I feel confident in sharing what has worked so well for us. Also, it’s a great time of year to invest in yourself, a new hobby and capturing memories!

Q: WHAT CAMERA AND GEAR DO YOU USE TO TAKE PHOTOS?

A: WE SHOOT WITH A CANON BODY + LENS, BUT HERE ARE ALLLLL THE DETAILS…

  • CAMERA BODY | Currently using an EOS 40D but have also used a canon EOS 5D (just an older model of the same camera body) that worked great!
  • CAMERA LENSE | Typically the most important (and expensive) part of the camera… we use a canon 35mm f/1.4L as a great everyday lens!
  • SD CARD | The better the card, the more photos you can take and the better and quicker your camera will work and click. We’ve had great luck with this SanDisk 32gb and this Lexar 64gb.
  • EDITING |  Adobe photoshop lightroom is the only program I use to edit my photos on the computer. Very user friendly in my opinion plus you can batch edit which saves so much time compared to photoshop!
  • SAVING | After I edit and save my images for print or for the blog/social, I move the original unedited raw files to an external hard-drive for safe keeping and so they don’t take up space on my computer.
  • IMAGE SHARING | I load almost all of my edited and saved images to dropbox so I can easily share with family, friends and clients and access and save to my phone too using the dropbox app.

*Another follow up question I get is regarding videos which we shoot with my iPhone 8 plus and then my husband, Johan, edits them in Adobe Premier Pro!

I love answering this question because I know how much I’ve enjoyed learning to use a camera (along with Johan!), capturing our family and having all the memories without having to be a a professional photographer. It’s the best way I know to bottle up our kids’ milestones, personalities and relationships with each other. They are getting big and growing up so fast, but they will never be as young as they are today, again. To me that’s worth photographing and remembering and while I’m all for iPhone pics (I take many!), having a big camera somehow makes me feel like I’m being more intentional and staying more present. BUT, it also takes time and commitment to learn and get comfortable with so I wouldn’t suggest making the investment in a DSLR camera until you’re ready to learn, practice, fail, grow, adjust and practice some more. Of course it’ll get easier each time and you’ll get some amazing photos along the way that will make it all worth it!

Let me know if you have any other questions about photography, family, style or momming and I’ll be sure to answer in the comments or in a follow up FAQ post!

xo, Rae

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FAMILY TRAVEL: WHAT TO DO + EAT IN LEAVENWORTH, WA

I’m back and ready to spill the beans on all the best things to do in Leavenworth, WA with kids! I know this won’t be as helpful to those outside of the Pacific Northwest, but hopefully the home video and images are somewhat entertaining and make you want to plan a road trip!

WHAT TO EAT IN LEAVENWORTH – starting with the most important thing because no one can be happy and hungry at the same time. If traveling with kids and the town is busy during your visit I suggest making reservations (and/or dining early) whenever possible.

  • SOUTH – Cozy atmosphere, yummy tex-mex and every once in awhile, live music. Also, every time we’ve been, our food comes so quick which is always a bonus with kids! PS –  the tortilla soup is my favorite. PPS – Los Comperos is another option (with a bigger dining area) if you’re craving mexican!
  • GUSTAV’S – my love for Gustav’s runs deep as they’ve been feeding me since I was Tilly’s age. Great place to take the fam bam or a group with lots of crowd pleasers on the menu (burgers, yummy fries, sandwiches, soups, salads, brats, etc.).
  • HEIDLEBURGER DRIVE IN – my other request as a kid was the drive-in. We’d stop on our way back to the cabin after skiing or on our way home.
  • MUNCHEN HAUS – the best place to grab a hot dog, sausage or pretzel and then sit outside (by heaters or open flame at the tables!). Plus they have the best selection of mustard and other condiments. A few pics here.
  • LEAVENWORTH SAUSAGE GARTEN – another great option for quick eating!
  • WATERSHED CAFE – Farm to table and PNW inspired, cozy atmosphere, with outdoor seating during warmer months. Just a little bit tucked away from the main street on 8th.
  • SULLA VITA – Medeterranian food, wood-fired pizza oven, amazing wine (and beer :) selection, and outdoor eating. So good.
  • BAREN HAUS – I’ve never actually eaten here, but everytime I walk by, I want to go in… Just not the biggest fan of German food and my kids don’t like sausages so always hesitate!
  • VISCONTI’S – everyone needs a good italian meal, plus they take reservations.
  • HOMEFIRES BAKERY – is it even a trip to Leavenworth without grabbing some goodies for breakfast from Homefires? When I was a kid they were located in a house along icicle road, but now you’ll find them in Dan’s Food Mart.
  • GINGERBREAD FACTORY – easy to miss, but a fun spot to stop for a quick sweet treat.
  • COFFEE – there’s a starbucks in town (yay!). It’s almost always packed during the weekends or holidays but the drive-thru is usually empty. J5 coffee is also really good, the shop is cute (the espresso maker is turquoise!), and their shelves are stocked with coffee, tea and accessories – perfect for gifts!
  • ICE CREAM – because you know we always need an ice cream break! If you have a craving or need a good bribe for the kids, try Whistlepunk Ice Cream Co. (they sell pints too!) or Viadolce Gelato.

WHAT TO DO IN LEAVENWORTH – a few of our favorites during the colder months below!

  • VISITING SHOPS – you can’t go to Leavenworth without a trip into town and a stroll along front street. A few of our faves: Kris Kringle, the Wood Shop, the Hat Shop, Der Sportsman, the Taffy Shop, Schocolat, J T Blu, and so many more. You really just have to walk up and down the streets to find all the gems… somewhere along the way there’s a cute home goods store that I can’t remember the name of, lol!
  • THE FESTHALLE – Between Thanksgiving and Christmas there’s craft booths, Santa and a Young Life booth with snacks and lanterns you can decorate ($10 each) for the Santa parade (a short walk from the festhalle to the gazebo in town. More details here, but it’s worth stopping by the halle to talk to someone and double check times!
  • FRONT STREET GAZEBO + HILL – if there’s snow, bring a sled! Great spot to grab a pizza or picnic and let the kids play during the warmer months too. It’s also where you’ll find public restrooms.
  • WATERFRONT PARK – Just a few blocks behind downtown and along the Wenatchee river. The perfect little activity if you need a break from the crowds but don’t want to drive anywhere.
  • ENCHANTMANT PARK – a great kids play area, bike track, skate park and walking tails also along the Wenatchee river and close to town.
  • SLEIGH RIDES – There are usually a couple sleighs in town or there are more scenic rides listed here.
  • SKI HILL – Also known as Leavenworth Winter Sports Club, has tubing, skiing, snowshoeing and a lodge that sells hot chocolate. We’ve gone before just to play in the snow and sip on cocoa.
  • ICICLE VILLAGE – Has miniature golf, a little arcade area (yay skee-ball!) and chicken strips if your kids have a craving.

Sandwiched between a brick and a pink building… gah!

The lights are the best part!

Outside of Kris Kringle where we stop almost every trip and buy an ornament. Can’t beat a shop entirely dedicated to Christmas decor! If you plan on bringing the kids in (there are lots of breakables!) I suggest ditching the stroller and heading up the stairs where they keep the more casual and less expensive ornaments and decorations :)

This time we brought home two, plus a couple more as gifts. The gumball machine made the cut along with a red phone booth to inspire more traveling in the new year and add more red to our tree!

Blurry, dark pics from inside of South.

The river outside our cabin. Rental info can be found here!

We’ve been to Leavenworth more times than I can count so I hope these tips help! Let me know if you have any questions.

xo, Rae

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PHOTOS + A VIDEO FROM THE REINDEER FARM IN LEAVENWORTH

I’ve been to Leavenworth more times than I can count and most of the time I’m excited to eat, visit and do all the things at our usual spots but every once in awhile something new pops up that I can’t wait to try with Johan and the kids. This time it happened to be a Reindeer Farm and it was a huge hit. I’ll let the crazy amount of pictures and quick video below do all of the talking… we loved every minute!


I was taking pics of the kids in Santa’s sleigh when he snuck up behind me! Most of the kids thought it was hilarious. Poppy about lost her mind.

Once Santa was out of sight, someone offered to snap a family photo of us on the sleigh (love it when people do that!) and while you never quite know if it’ll turn out, I think this time we might just have a Christmas card photo!

The kids literally haven’t stopped talking about our new reindeer friends. Through all of our conversations, we all agreed that the reindeer in the movie The Santa Clause are the most accurate depiction of the very quirky and mischievous animals. Bet you can guess what’s showing next on our family movie night!?

Love when outings lead to conversations. Makes all the chaos worth it!

xo, Rae

PS – for all my local friends that might be planning a stay in Leavenworth, I’m going to share some of our favorite places to eat tomorrow. Is there anything else you’d like me to share.

PPS – sign up for emails so you don’t miss anything!

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FAMILY TRAVEL: CORVALLIS, OR

I have a few back to school posts I’ve been working on this week, but first wanted to be sure and catch up on sharing summer adventures. Aside from a couple videos we’re still editing, I think our trip to Corvallis, OR for a baseball tournament last month and home to Oregon State University — and was very similar to WSU in Pullman, WA where Johan and I met so naturally we were smitten! Guessing we’ll forever be suckers for small college towns.

The majority of our time was spent at baseball games, but we also found a few local gems… more details below!

In a packing tips post awhile back I suggested packing accessories for the kids (like hats, purses, handkerchiefs, etc.) and you’ll see why in the pictures below… Sometimes they make the best toys or activity starters!

Thankful for a couple DM’s from Instagram friends who suggested we visit tried and true coffee. Such a yummy spot! And that bottom pic is my favorite.

The pizza place we tried (which wasn’t suggested), however was not a win. I rarely share when I have something bad to say about a particular brand or place, but I can’t help myself with this one. American Dream Pizza had everything going for it. The design, cute name, atmosphere… and roof top seating, yes please! But the pizza was bad. Like frozen pizza would have been better. And it’s not like it was a busy night and we were served an overcooked or undercooked pizza – that wasn’t the problem. It was just not very good. The kids didn’t even enjoy it… and they don’t have much of a standard when it comes to pizza pie.

That being said, it was fairly busy and most people eating seemed like locals maybe we are just super picky? Or maybe my expectations have changed since college. The group of girls at the table next to us, celebrating a 21 run didn’t seem to mind :)

I was sold on this place when I saw the picnic tables and read “pizza” on the sign, but then we couldn’t resist eating on the rooftop so moved up there. Wish the pizza was as good as the view!

Johan in his element just taking it all in. Espen being silly.

Can you spot Oz in the bottom two pics? He’s such a man child! It’s impossible for me to watch him play on a big field without thinking about his t-ball and little league days. Sacred stuff mamas! I know it’s a lot to haul kids and their gear and all the siblings around to sporting events or other activities but you will remember all the best parts about it. Trust me.

Finding the farmer’s market and walking trail was a happy surprise!

The only other place we were told to go was Benny’s Donuts which we failed at, lol, but inspired us to DIY the experience at home, HERE!

Stay tuned for BTS goodies next week!

XO, Rae

PS – are we Instagram friends yet?

PPS – shared a bubble recipe video and the secret ingredient is glycerine… who knew?!

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HOW TO LIKE CAMPING, FROM A NON-CAMPER

Did you notice the “LIKE” in the title of this post? “LOVE” would for sure be too strong of a word. Also noted in the title, I’m not a camper. However my family loves it and if I am anything to our family, it’s a team player. Every summer I get a chance to prove it when we get packed up to  go camping on our friend’s amazing beach property on Whidbey Island (don’t you feel sorry for me, LOL?) along with 6 other families. It’s the highlight of the  summer and something the kids look forward to all year long. So many memories are made, good food gets eaten and fun is had during our stay.

Problem is, packing up 7 people for 2 or 3 nights along with tents, coolers, kitchen tools, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, pillows, camp chairs, blankets, food, drinks, flashlights, recreational activities, lifejackets, toiletries, towels, layers of clothing, etc. without overpacking (because it all has to fit somewhere), is sooooo stressful. Then there’s the setting up camp and figuring out where to put all the things you brought. Followed by hangout time which is amazing until it’s time for bed which is my least favorite because we’re out of our normal routine, trying to get everyone to go to sleep while laying under a layer of nylon and then my anxiety kicks in because we’re all spread out (in different tents) and you can’t lock a tent to keep everyone safe and I’m thinking about trees falling (among other things) and whether or not everyone is warm enough (also among other things) so I don’t get much sleep. After that, things are pretty wonderful (aside from the non-sleeping part… and bugs. Ha!). Until it’s time to pack up and pile all the tired, dirty and stinky people into the car :) And don’t get me started on the unpacking process… I’m still trying to catch up on all the laundry. So yeah, the work to fun ration (imo) is about 5 to 1.

But all the in-between time, play time and quality time are sooooo worth it. These are the days and they are so fleeting and camping is a great way to spend time with your babes making memories that are different than staying at a hotel or rental home somewhere. Which is why I wanted to write this post! So if you feel the same as me about camping here are a few things I’ve learned over the years.

5 WAYS TO TO MAKE CAMPING MORE ENJOYABLE:

  1. GET INSPIRED BY OTHERS — Talk to friends that camp often, look up blog posts, watch movies, hop on pinterest, ask the kids what they’re excited for, etc. And maybe even plan a camp trip with friends which also lightens the load… When we camp with our group, we plan and share meals for breakfast and dinner which makes it easier to feed the fam, but it’s also fun seeing and tasting what everyone brings!
  2. GEAR MATTERS — Just like skiing, gear matters. Especially when it comes to a tent, sleeping bags and mats/cushion/air mattress imo. Whatever you can do to make it easier to sleep well at night, the more you’ll enjoy the days. Since we’re not really a camping family we’ve always just gotten by with random hand me downs and a good tent or two. This year we rented a small teardrop trailer through rvshare.com. Having a comfy bed and fan was life changing — at least for Griffin, Poppy and me, LOL. Poor Johan spent most of the nights in a tent with the older kids. Next time I think we’ll for sure spring for a bigger trailer or camper!
  3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION — it’s fun/nice/convenient to be close enough to a town and grocery store for a little ice cream outing or to replace the toothbrushes you forgot to pack. Oh, and a laundry mat might come in handy too. Comes in handy if it rains which we were lucky enough to not experience this trip but that’s not always the case!
  4. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO — Because there will be sand and dirt and bugs and missed naps and early mornings and _________(fill-in-the-blank)… so know what to expect and just be okay with it.
  5. KNOW YOUR WHY — It’s a lot of work and I will never be cool about bugs in my tent but I can for sure enjoy it for a few nights because I know WHY we’re doing it! The time with our family and friends, and all the adventuring is priceless.

I know I’m being a little dramatic about what I don’t like about camping, and if you haven’t already assumed it, I’m not the most outdoorsy person in the world (HA!), but I did grow up hiking, fishing and staying at our family cabin. Always thought I would be cool with camping but turns out I’m a little on the high maintenance side (gimme all the cabins and trailers!)…. Sorry hun.

What about you? Did you grow up camping? Do you enjoy it now?

XO, Rae

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FAMILY TRAVEL: BEACH GETAWAY TO SEABROOK, WA

Oh, my life is busssssy right now, but I’m hoping it’s just the crazy before the summer-calm. Aside from the kids activities, I’ve been occupied with design projects (a couple I can’t wait to share!). Just wrapped up the major stuff, so am hoping to get caught up and spend more time and fun content with you here next week, YAY! Today however, I wanted to share about our trip to Seabrook, WA. It’s become our go-to beach getaway — we’ve been 5 times (past visits here, and here) and have loved every minute. There is so much to do, the convenience is unbeatable and the houses are all so homey and easy to relax in.  I must have gotten 20 DM’s while we were there last week asking for trip details so I’ll be sure to share my best info and tips below in case you have questions too. Because I don’t want to forget what my favorite people in the world had fun doing the most together, I also wanted to share everyone’s best parts of our visit this time…

JOHAN | had the most fun sleeping in, walking to get coffee and sitting on the balcony that was attached to our room… a feature that is now on his future home wish list, lol.

ME | I loved, loved, loved our beach time this trip and also walking everywhere. It’s always my favorite part of our stay. No buckling carseats, arguing over who sits where or fighting

ESPEN + TILLY | unanimously decided shuffleboard was their favorite. I’ll talk more about it below, but there are a ton of community areas and free equipment rentals at the bike shop in town.

GRIFFIN | give him all the s’mores and hot tub time (there’s several community fire pits and a community pool and hot tub, but this time we had a hot tub and fire pit at our house too!)

POPPY | had the best time flying her kite on the beach.

OZZIE | missed out on another family trip because of school and sports (crying emoji x3) but I’m guessing his favorite part of us being gone was the peace + quiet.

*You guys, don’t ever let your kids grow up! It’s the worst. But also pretty amazing to watch and cheer them on. But also, also, the worst, lol.

We checked into our house (The Blue Lantern Cottage) and immediately made ourselves at home and got familiar with our location and proximity to all the most important things – like the pool, coffee shop, fire pits, etc. While we unpacked and made dinner, the kids checked out their bunk room and the garage which was full of toys and a ping pong table. Then we headed to the pool just to make sure they would be tired and worn-out and happy to crawl into beds and fall asleep.

I no longer hope, expect or plan on the kids being so tired that they’ll sleep in while on vacay (even after a late night and long swim) which makes it easier to enjoy any early risers. This particular morning we got these two early birds out of the house so they didn’t wake the rest (my friend Stacy and her boys were vacay-ing with us too!) and walked a couple blocks to grab coffee and sticky-buns to share.

This to me is heaven on earth! Rolling out of bed and walking anywhere, is my favorite way to start the day. Especially when coffee and warm pastries are involved and everyone is still snuggly and in their jammies. Bonus that the coffee and treats at Red Velvet Bakery are so yummy.

There’s nothing like a little beach time to make you appreciate life and God’s goodness. Not a lot of swimming happening here (maybe later in the summer), but plenty of sand to run and play in. And we obviously like hugging while on the beach, LOL.

Also, that top pic of Tilly mid-kite-flying might be a new favorite of mine.

The 3rd floor of the house we stayed in was a bunk room complete with a bathroom, organized toys, books and puzzles and 8 beds to sleep in. Makes me want to turn our attic into a playroom slash crash pad for sleepovers and get togethers!

Signs of a vacay done right… swimmers drying on a clawfoot tub and a spontaneous nap taken on a beach ball while wearing a crown.

A few tips if you are planning a trip to Seabrook!

  • Eating + shopping: Check the store/shop/restaurant hours when you first get there and plan accordingly as they change depending on the season and day of the week.
  • Picking a house: With younger kids, we prefer staying on the town side (instead of ocean side). You sacrifice a bit of the view but the kids have more freedom to roam and walking to get coffee, swim, etc. is easier.
  • Recreation: Stop by the bike shop to checkout recreational equipment for free during your stay. Also, the pool has life jackets but we usually pack ours from home for Poppy and Griffin.
  • Family + friends: it’s a great place to go with friends… also a good way to make it more affordable.  (here’s a few other tips on the subject)
  • Deciding what to do: get familiar with the map and either walk or drive around the town so you have a good idea of where things are and don’t end up missing out on something your family would love!

I already want to go back!!!

Let me know if I missed anything or you have questions.

See you back here on Monday!!!

XO, Rae

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