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FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS: PACKING CARRY-ON’S

After a few requests, regarding what the kids had in their carry-on bags on our trip to AZ, I thought it would be fun to share some details and thoughts on the subject. After all, it’s one of my favorite parts of traveling! Probably because it keeps my distracted and excited mind somewhat productive while we countdown to our getaway. Just wish I could say the same thing about unpacking. HA! If you guys have any unpacking tips, puh-leez share in the comments!

One of the things I start doing 1-2 weeks before departure is throwing things in everyone’s carry-ons. My goal is always to make it fun and functional without being too bulky or cluttered. I mean, it’s hard enough maneuvering around an airplane cabin and little row of seats without having to dig through a bottomless pit to find what you really need!

Here’s a few guidelines and tech tips that have worked for us on plane trips as well as road trips. Then keep scrolling to see what each kid had in their carry-ons on our most recent trip to AZ.

MY 5 RULES FOR PACKING CARRY-ONS:

  1. Function over everything
  2. Everyone gets their own necessities – like gum (minus poppy), headphones, a tech device, favorite lovie (blanket + stuffy), and snacks.
  3.  Pack at least 1 small surprise per person
  4. Give each kid an item they can share OR a responsibility, like handing out suckers, making a bucket list, etc.
  5. Bonus points for activities they can also play during any downtime on the trip — like at a restaurant!

TECH TIPS: you may not need these as we’re all pretty experienced with prepping gadgets for our little ones by now, but just in case!

  1. If your not paying for everyone to have wifi on the flight, pre download movies and apps that don’t require wifi or a network to play. Clear out some memory space if needed too!
  2. Not all tech has to be zombie inducing like a movie or game. Prompt photo ops, play with filters, record and edit videos or download a book or piano/music app.
  3. Don’t forget about music and playlists — even for the littler ones!
  4. Leave the mom-guilt at home! There is nothing wrong with throwing all your screen time rules out the window for a handful of travel days each year. Just learn to smile at anyone giving judge-y eyes and brush it off. No one knows what time you had to get up to catch your flight, what it was like to get through security, or how your child is feeling about traveling…
  5. If too much screen time makes your kids cranky (like it does mine), take turns between screen time, snack time, and activity time. Switching things up and staying engaged with them while they play, always helps!
  6. The BEST HEADPHONES FOR KIDS. Great price and they have a share port. The end.

POPPY, 3 (toddler to preschool) | a sippy-cup for when the drink cart comes around, snacks, shopkins (a favorite activity), a hoodie for an extra layer and extra leggings, bracelets (her surprise), bunny mask for being silly and because Poppy loves dress up anything, headphones, new crayons and a mini coloring book I found at peek kids.

Johan had an old iPhone in his carry on for poppy to use, stocked with music and her current favorite game – THINK ROLLS (find more of our favorite apps HERE!). She ended up not using tech on the way to AZ and fell asleep watching a movie with Griffin on the way home.

GRIFFIN, 6 (kindergarten + early elementary) | snacks, maze game, gum, new markers, mini coloring book from target $1 isle, lunch bags for making hand puppets, headphones and iPad.

Griffin tends to be the third wheel with Espen and Tilly so I gave him the dum-dums and fruit snacks to be in charge of handing them out to his siblings. He loved it and the older kids were probably a little more inclusive knowing that he was the source of treats!

TILLY, 9 (2nd-4th grade) | roller essential oils (for anxiety and a mood boost), gum, ear buds, the book PAX (love the age where they can read chapter books! Espen and Tilly are usually happy to read), flash cards, googley eyes with adhesive backs , monkey string (like wiki stix), dot stickers, bunny book + markers (also from peek kids), rainbow post-it notes

Being overly prepared seems to help ease Tilly’s anxiety so she added a few more snacks and small pillow to her bag. She’s also really good at leading activities (future camp counselor maybe!?) so I put all of the craft stuff in her bag to be in charge of.

ESPEN, 11 (tweens :) | note pad and pens, a book, headphones, iPad, playing cards, stress ball, plastic spoons (I’ll explain)

This age group is so easy! I always think it’s good to have a book and something to write on. He’s also really into card games and practicing tricks and jokes so I thought it would be a good thing for him to be in charge of. The spoons were for playing the card game spoons or for practicing hanging them from their noses.

The last couple airplane trips we have taken have gone really smoothly which probably has a lot to do with the ages of our kids. Regardless, there is always an element of surprise and unpredictability when it comes to kids (especially babies!) which can make traveling with them slightly terrifying. But I also think that kids are natural travelers and it makes me wish we could do more of it! Plus the QT is pretty priceless.

How do you guys feel about traveling with or without kids?

Do you like packing or unpacking!? Remember to share this tips with me!

xo, Rae

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FEBRUARY DINNERS

HOORAY, we made it to the end of Jan-u-ar(a)y! LOL. Did it feel as long to you as it did to me? I guess it doesn’t really stand a chance to the few months and holidays that come before it, huh? However, it does feel good to have the first month of the year under my belt… and seeing as how we ate and netflixed our way through January, I mean that literally too. Is a “cheat month” a thing? (Asking for a friend :)

Anywho, I’ve rounded up a few recipes I’ve tried and loved or want to try in February. Half of them either look delicious or would be perfect for Valentine’s Day (can you say fondue, pasta and tomato bisque with grilled cheese, please!?) while the other half are gluten free and paleo. It’s all about balance, right?

13 DINNERS TO MAKE IN FEBRUARY

EASY

MAKE AHEAD OR BAKED

30-60 MINUTES

BREAKFAST, LUNCH + SNACK IDEAS

  • bananas + peanut butter pinwheels
  • monster mouths (with marshmallows or nuts for teeth)
  • egg + cheese tacos or omelettes
  • mango protein shake (frozen mango + pineapple, almond or coconut milk, ice and vanilla protein (this is our favorite kind — not chalky!)
  • raviolis
  • edamame
  • french toast + fruit kabobs (perfect for Valentines Day!)
  • chicken salad pitas or lettuce cups
  • fresh veggies with tzatziki dip!

Which recipe looks most appealing to you? I’m kinda curious about the chicken bowl with cauliflower rice.

Feel free to add more recipe ideas in the comments…

Love you guys!

xo, Rae

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DECEMBER MEALS + A SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE YOU’LL LOVE

Cookie baking, Holiday movie watching, hall decking, and gift wrapping, sign me up for it all. But with December 1 comes a reality check. Christmas will be here before I know it and there’s so much I want to get done between now and the 24th. Assuming you guys are in the same boat, I did my best to curate dishes and recipes that are mostly easy to make and perfect for leftovers! But first a sugar cookie recipe that does not disappoint! Seriously, I don’t eat many desserts that don’t involve chocolate and couldn’t stop snacking on these.

SUGAR COOKIE + ICING RECIPE

YOU’LL NEED (for cookies):

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • cookie cutters (I used this one)

YOU’LL NEED (for icing):

  • 2 cups shortening
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 8 cups powdered sugar (aka icing sugar)
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream, less or more for desired thickness/texture
  • sprinkles
  • food coloring (the all-natural one we used)

TO MAKE THE COOKIES:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar. Then add egg and vanilla and cream together.
  2. Whisk the baking powder and flour together. Gradually add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, mixing in-between until well combined.
  3. Knead dough by hand for a minute then immediately roll smaller batches, on a floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters.
  4. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven before they brown. Move to wire rack or platter and let cool completely before icing.

TO MAKE THE ICING:

  • In a large bowl, beat shortening and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in small amount (I added 1/2 cup at a time) and combine.
  • Add cream gradually and beat until desired thickness and consistency.
  • Divide icing into bowls and add food coloring to each as desired!
  • Spread onto cooled cookies and add sprinkles!

Here are a few other dinners on our menu plan this December!

12 DINNERS TO MAKE IN NOVEMBER

EASY

MAKE AHEAD OR BAKED

30-45 MINS

BREAKFAST, LUNCH + SNACK IDEAS

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5 THINGS: ON REPEAT RIGHT NOW

HAPPY FRIDAY! Not that it makes too much of a difference during the summer :) Things have been a little all-over-the-place around here for the last couple weeks so thought I’d focus on and share a few things that (like tan lines) have been on repeat so far this summer.

5 THINGS ON REPEAT LATELY…

1 SWIM LESSONS | They’re ending tomorrow but Espen and Tilly have been going everyday since school got out and it was such a great way to start the summer. Gave us just the right amount of structure and a set time to have our chores and work finished by. Sad to see them end!

2 KARAOKE CARPOOL | Especially this one and this one. They are fun to watch when I need a little break or some “company” during late night laundry folding seshes.

3 MOM ON | Another youtube find (HERE) that makes me feel better about the next thing on repeat…

4 DINO CHICKEN NUGGETS | After years of avoiding these cookie cutter nuggets, I’ve given in this summer and am mostly happy about it. They are easy in every way, filling, and the kids devour them. I usually pickup a bag of Market Panty ones at Target. Serve with a smoothie for lunch or baked fries and fruit salad for dinner and I’m their favorite person in the world!

5 SUMMER #OOTD | Would wear this tank everyday with a cute bandana and sandals (on sale) or a hat, sunnies and slides.

What have you been doing, eating, wearing, this summer so far!?

xo, Rae

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WHEN IN DOUBT, HEAD TO THE BEACH!

That is exactly what we did over the long weekend and it’s safe to say we played hard and had lots of fun! Johan had to be back at work on Monday so our weekend was cut short a bit, but Saturday and Sunday we packed up and spent time at my parent’s house and lake. Between our work schedules lately (yay for those hard working daddies!) and the boy’s baseball, two full days together felt like pure bliss!

A few pics from our time together…

Griffin rarely lets me out of his sight (a serious clinger) unless he has a friend around and then I’m NBD. Makes me appreciate more and more the time I have him all to myself. One day he’ll be taller and busier and it will be harder to steal kisses so you know what I’ll be doing in the meantime!

I know from experience… You’ll notice Oz isn’t in any pics. He and a friend were with us but taking pictures of  16 year old boys is hard if not impossible. Unless of course it’s a snapchat pic from their phones (sighhhh).  On the upside, teenage boys are highly entertaining and fun to be around!

I mentioned on Instagram that we haven’t quite mastered the art of family bike rides. However, my parent’s neighborhood is a really good place to practice. Everyone grabs something with wheels and we hit the road — abandoning ride-on toys, kissing scraped knees, and looking like a hot mess as we go.

It’s my favorite thing to hang back a bit and watch the beautiful mess of it all while kindly shouting every once in awhile for people to slow down, stay together, be careful, and don’t go past the…. Ha! Maybe I’m the reason our bike rides/walks feel so chaotic?! Either way, when it’s not stressing me out, it’s the best view.

Still in swimsuits at 8pm… What summer dreams are made of!

5th child ^^^ The FOMO is real.

There’s that view!

Day 2 looked a lot like day 1…

Tilly trying to persuade me to hop on a paddle board with her the second we arrive on the beach, while I try to convince her that sitting in the sun for a bit while taking it all in and sipping on a LaCroix before jumping in the water is where it’s at!

We compromised… I hopped on the paddle board with her and a LaCroix and she promised not to tip us over. :)

Waiting for my paddler.

*I would not ordinarily post a picture of myself in a swimsuit, but since it’s that time of year and most of us are looking for something cute and functional to wear while playing with the kids, I thought I would take one for the team and share one of the suits that works for me! The top is last season from Victoria’s Secret but my bottoms are from Kortni Jean. I have a top from her line and love how easy her pieces are to mix and match with other suits I have too. I’ll share links below!

I’ve also had my eyes on swimmers by Albion… has anyone purchased from them?

Watermelon break!

And some pineapple too…?

 Since Johan had to work Monday the kids and I hung-out at home. They caught up with friends while I caught up on laundry and spent a lot of time thinking about how this weekend probably feels and looks so different for those families who know personally the cost of our freedom. Those who might cringe a little when the word “happy” is placed before memorial day. If that’s you, and I’m not even sure that I have the words or understanding, but I do want you to know I was thinking of you. Thank you for everything you have and continue to sacrifice for me and my family and for our country. I do hope you felt extra honored and loved over the weekend.

XO, Rae

SWIMMERS | Rae, top + bottom from Kortni Jean  | Tilly, top + bottoms from Kortni Jean | Espen, old from Crewcuts | Griffin, trunks from Cat + Jack from Target (these are cute too) | Poppy, suit from Olivia + Ocean

*Leave a comment if you have any questions on sizing!

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HAPPY TRAVELS: 10 WAYS TO MAKE FAMILY TRIPS (MORE) AFFORDABLE

We made it to our second Spring break destination last night and I can’t wait to soak up some beach time, sunshine (hoping it lasts!), and family and friend hangs! Traveling with kids can be a little daunting and cost a lot of money, but it’s one of the things I never, ever, ever, regret doing. Figuring out how to do more of it has been at the top of my to-do list lately. Which brings me to today’s post… an ongoing list of ways to make travel more affordable.

// Balboa Island, CA //

// Leavenworth, WA over Thanksgiving //

TRAVEL IN A PACK | with friends or family! There are so many ways to split costs if you don’t mind being flexible. For the trip we are currently on, we are sharing a house with friends, which helps with rental, food and entertainment costs… especially since the kids have other little humans to play with!

SKIMP A LITTLE | Probably my least favorite tip because vacays are usually the perfect reason to splurge, but if the choice is, skimp or don’t go, then it’s totally worth it! Before leaving try cutting out a monthly bill or expense (cable, Starbucks, eating out, etc.) or use Birthdays and Holidays as an excuse to travel instead of giving expensive gifts or parties! Once arriving save money by eating during happy hour, booking a cheaper hotel, walk or take uber instead of renting a car, etc. if most activities are within walking distance. My husband’s favorite way to skimp is to stay somewhere with a good continental breakfast! He is usually the one to book our hotel so I have no idea how common that is (do most places offer that?) but thought it was worth mentioning :)

DO THE RESEARCH | There is so much info out there on traveling and specific destinations so start googling!

GET TO KNOW SOME TRAVEL APPS/SITES | (Travel apps and sites are always a good idea too. A few favorites are roadtrippers, Google Flights, Kyak, and Airbnb.  This one looks like fun for group traveling too!

CASH IN ON INCENTIVES, BONUSES, COUPONS, MEMBERSHIPS + MILES | Kind of a no-brainer, but also time consuming and easily overlooked… aside from airline miles and hotel chain incentives, and depending on the type of trip, look for National Park Passes for camping or day trips, and city or museum passes that let you get into more than one activity. Purchasing passes ahead of time usually helps too!

BOOK IN THE OFF-SEASON | As opposed to the peek season. Traveling during weekdays is usually less expensive too.

STAY SOMEWHERE WITH A KITCHEN | or kitchenet and plan meals, snacks and bring groceries ahead of time.

MAKE IT A GOAL | It’s easier to save, research and get to the destination if you know where and when you want to go!

LOOK CLOSER TO HOME | this one is kinda a no-brainer but, stay cations equal less travel expenses. We have a short list of places within driving distance, that we would like to visit and are always asking friends for ideas, too!

BOOK AHEAD | keep an eye out for flight, hotel, and car pricing and be ready to make reservations when the prices drop. Every once in awhile, last minute bookings and reservations pay-off too.

 

As always, I would love to know any tips you have to share… or even destinations that are family friendly!!!

xo, Rae

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summertime carry-alls.

If Christmas is the season of perpetual hope then summer is the season of perpetual packing — for the weekend, beach, lake, hike, park, day-trip, pool day, picnic, ball-game, you pick farm, sleepover, camping, you name it.

So I thought I’d put together a round up of some cute summery bags…

summer-totes

 

MAMA: one / two / three

BEACH: one / two / three

MINIS: one / two / three

backpacks-and-carry-alls

After Poppy was born I ditched my usual oversized bag and bought this backpack from target to tryout the trend and totally love it. What is your favorite kind of bag to carry around?

xo . Rae

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moms rule, babies drool. (happy belated mother’s day)

moms-rule

(Poppy – 9 months – favorite thing is baby mum-mums and her cat leggings from here)

I have always wanted to be a mom. I always imagined I would be the mom of all boys, never imagined I would have 5 kids and certainly never imagined how crazy this mom gig would be. How much I would love and question and laugh and worry and be tested and be drooled on. Or how little sleep I could operate on and how hard it would be to fit a shower into my day. It’s all so hysterical and delightful and ironic.

Last weekend I went away (with ma mama!) on a women’s retreat. The speaker talked a bit about motherhood and the different seasons of parenting and how important and affective it is to speak life into our kids. Like how sweet they are (even after pile driving their sibling) how brave they are (even though they won’t let you out of their sight) or how diligent they are (after spending hours begrudgingly making up math homework that’s late).

I’ve been doing a lot of this over the last week. Mostly while tucking my kids in and it’s amazing to see their demeanor change, heart soften and bodies relax. It’s also amazing how at the same time I’m filling them up I find myself being filled up too. I’m reminded of how important my job is and how worth it they are. Sometimes after all the wiping of spills and body parts, behavior correcting, and laundry folding the mom title looses it’s lustre. It starts to feel more like a chore than a calling and that’s not cool.

Chores are unpleasant but necessary jobs you do. Yuck. No one likes chores. A calling is a way of life, an urging. It’s inspired and exciting and frees you up to play and have fun.  A mom that is playful is hard to resist. For anyone really. Especially husbands. And it’s even effective on a child throwing a tantrum…. “I’m going out to jump on the trampoline. Feel free to join me when you are done crying.” It’s genius really and maybe a little manipulative, but effective. Unfortunately I haven’t found away to make it work at the grocery store.

Anyways, just one of the things that’s been on my heart and mind lately. Seems like I’m always learning, growing and saying lots of sorries in the process. Thankful for a God that is able to fill in where I fall short. What about you?

Happy belated Mother’s Day!

XO . Rae

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brand you: simple branding tips.

hello lovelies! i’m back from spring break with the kiddies and easter weekend to chat a bit about branding and why we love the brands we do. when i started this site a little over a year ago, i wanted to give myself time to find my voice and vision so put off adding any kind of logo, tagline or header. but lately the ambiguity has been bugging me. so last week i stayed up way too late (way too many nights) trying to decide what i want this little brand of mine to be, look and feel like. even though i’ve had lots of experience with this whole branding thing, it’s been soooo challenging trying to do it for myself.

after lots of second guessing and multiple proofs and edits (i’m a chronic over-thinker, people!) i’ve had to remind myself of some basic truths, 1) a brand is a vision and a purpose that is translated by all the design and creative elements and 2) good brands are consistent and reliable. it’s why i (and most people i know) love j. crew, anthropology and target… i love how they roll and can count on them to deliver every time.

brand-you-rae-ann-kelly

with that in mind here are three supa simple ways to keep your brand consistent while adding personality and uniqueness. knowing which ones you love and using them as a style guide will make work easy for you and your customers which saves you time and money (for the win!).

hue do you love? pick 2-5 colors that you are smitten with to use on your marketing, web site, etc. this doesn’t mean you can’t change things up in different features or blog posts but it will give you a good foundation. just be sure to pick palettes that work well together. (still working on picking mine, but think i might stay very basic and work with navy and gray)

type hype… as any type lover knows, how your words look is just as important as what they say. pick 2 or 3 fonts that make you happy to use online and in print. make sure you find one font that’s easy to read and one that looks great as a header. consider both serif (like garamond) and sans serif (like arial) fonts that compliment each other. (i’ve been thinking about using 2 sans serif fonts to keep a clean and modern feel and a decorative/handwritten font to add some whimsy)

a voice that’s true to you… decide on verbiage and a tone to use on your site, blog, marketing and social media accounts. to use as a reference for yourself or guest contributors, put together a few writing samples and list of words, phrases and concepts that you would or wouldn’t like to be used in your brand copy. this might seem a little excessive but it can really help simplify your workflow!

there you go! some good reminders to myself as i start making tweaks to this site. hope it’s helpful to you creatives out there too! if you find yourself stuck or not wanting to DIY your way through this i’d love to help… there is a workflow i go through starting with a series of questions that pullout my clients vision, personality, style, goals, etc. (probably my favorite part… luv my clients!) then i search for inspiration and finally i start the design process. if you aren’t ready to make the full investment i’m also available for brainstorming sessions. find more info, here!

let’s chat in the comments… anything else design and brand related you’d like some tips for?

xo . rae

(pictures by stacy jacobsen)

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halloween party

we just enjoyed our (most likely) last hot weekend of the year hear in the pacific northwest which means, ready or not, it’s time for all things fall and halloween-ish! i’m actually looking forward to the change in seasons (hello pumpkin spice lattes + wearing clothes in layers) and am excited to share some party inspiration and printables with you…

halloween-party-4

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD + SAVE:

halloween-party-2

halloween-party-2013-134

we have 3 birthdays at the end of october, including this cutie above, ozzie and myself (on halloween).  growing up i always had a halloween themed party (the non-scary kind) and loved it. tilly on the other hand is a little (actually a lot) more girlie than i was as a youngster so an orange and black color scheme doesn’t exactly cut it. this year however i have my fingers crossed that she’ll go for a costume party… we’ll see… still in negotiations!

hope this party inspiration and printables have you excited (or extra excited) for the fall season! what’s your favorite part? have any fun costume or party ideas!? ohhhhhh, i could chat with you all day about it! if only we had a fall tasting latte in our hands!

happy monday, friend!

xo . rae

//images by stacy jacobsen//

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