Home Makeover, Quarantine Editon

Hey all! I’ve mentioned before that I redid our entire house while we were at home in 2020 during the pandemic. I’m sure it was mostly an anxiety thing, controlling what I could while everything else felt out of control. (Thanks Olaf). But, none the less, I am obsessed with how everything turned out. We still have a handful of things to finish up around here. Some small (outlets, light fixtures), some large (adding a second bathroom, remodeling the first bathroom…) but we have turned our focus to paying off debt so those things have been moved to the back burner for the time being.

However, I thought now would be a great time to show what we’ve changed! Basically I woke up one day and glanced around our completely white farmhouse and I was OVER IT. I was trying to keep the house very neutral in case we ever decided we wanted to sell, but I hated the idea of living in this blank white canvas. Especially after being in this house for five years with no plans of leaving any time soon.

So, one day I just started changing things up and it just escalated from there. I ended up repainting our entire house in about a month. Talk about tennis elbow. Do not ever do that. Would not recommend to a friend!

Anyway, here are the before and after pics, with details!

Entryway

This before photo was before we put down flooring but you get the drift. Nothing fancy, but man that dark green paint makes the bench pop. The paint color is Ripe Olive by SW. I picked up the rope cross from a craft show a million years ago and I made that sign. My husband built the bench. This actually used to be a closet, but I love how much more functional it is as an entryway all together.

Next, we move on to the living room. The one thing we didn’t change was the fireplace. We had redone it with barnwood from one of the oldest barns in town after it was torn down. I also whitewashed the brick and we cleaned up the tile floor, and Justin built a gorgeous mantle. Painting the walls from white to green around it made it pop even more. Here’s the progression.

Fireplace

And then there’s the rest of the living room. When it was all white (Dover White by SW by the way) it felt massively huge. Which can be great, but it’s already huge, and long and weird. Painting a dark color helped to make it feel so much warmer. This was again Ripe Olive by SW. The rug is from overstock.com and the curtains are from Walmart (can’t find the link, sorry!). I took down all of the farmhouse signs and hung up my husbands guitar and some other odds and ends.

Also, please enjoy the tumbleweed that I rescued from Northwestern Kansas. I literally chased it down the street while my husband and daughter judged me. Also, I covered myself in thorns because who would have known tumbleweeds are covered in thorns. Justin inserted a bunch of twinkle lights inside of the tumbleweed. It’s pretty magical when the batteries are not dead.

Now, moving on to the dining room. I had ran into this room being a little too boho and hung up a basket wall. After a few months I took it down, because I think my style is more Western Boho than Boho, boho.

Here’s another progression. The dining room used to be divided! We had a divider up and a breakfast nook because who doesn’t need a table next to their table? I never felt more free after we ripped down that half wall. The wall color is Peppercorn by SW. Curtains were from Walmart. And my shelves were thrifted!

Now moving on to the kitchen! We went from wood cabinets, blue cabinets, white cabinets to black cabinets. I finally feel like it’s hit the sweet spot in our kitchen. Be prepared for another progression.

Kitchen now

I love the subway tile Justin put down, and the new countertop. He cussed the whole time, but he did such a good job.

I’ll just share a bit of the bedroom because it’s had it’s own post already but I love it so much and it should be included for sure. This was the biggest change from farmhouse to Western for sure. Get the cow here.

I’m looking forward to finishing up the house and getting the last bits of rooms done. I’m having so much fun adding more pieces here. Do you think I’ve hit the western boho vibe?

New Years on Tybee Island

Happy New Year! We are BACK on Tybee Island because we can’t get enough of this place. Last night we celebrated our 10th anniversary (New Years Eve) and today we are just taking one more day to enjoy the island. I thought while I have some downtime this may be a good chance to recap our trip!

Instead of a hotel, this time we rented a VRBO on the North Side of the island. It’s so quiet, and the beach is close to empty. Waking up the morning to walk the beach has become my new favorite activity and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to go back to Kansas tomorrow.

We rented Fin’s Watch from Anderson Tybee Adventures. I love this condo. It’s clean, it’s so cute, has everything we could possibly need (including 2 bikes that we never managed to take out) and it was less expensive than a hotel room! For just the two of us it has been the perfect size. I would absolutely recommend this place. After a small trip to the grocery store (don’t forget coffee!) This is all you would need for a trip!

The only downside would be if you wanted to be on the South Side of the island, close to all the restaurants and bars. For us, it was a toss up. We really enjoyed the peace and quiet on the uncrowded island, but it’s a LONG way to walk or bike across the island after having a drink with dinner. I think next time we will opt to stay in a condo closer to the South Side. BUT all in all we loved this condo and it was so incredibly peaceful. If you aren’t going to want to spend time downtown, this would be perfect.

The first time we came to Tybee was NYE 2018. I had accidentally discovered this place because I was sick of being cold all the time when we went on our anniversary trip. I googled East Coast beaches with fireworks for New Years Eve. The rest was history. During non-pandemic times the City of Tybee puts on an incredible firework display off of the pier. It can be seen from basically anywhere on the island. In 2018 we hung out downtown popping in and out of bars (you can walk around with alcohol here as long as it’s not in a glass bottle). Then, we hitched a taxi ride (we used Breezy Riders) back to our hotel. We went out to the beach at 11:50 to watch the fireworks. It was perfect.

This year has been a bit different of course. (Whoever would have guessed we would be walking around with masks on?) But even in a pandemic, it’s been an amazing time. Tybee’s peak season is summer so this is great time to visit while social distancing. I hate crowds so this is perfect for me. Lots of room to spread out, open air seating, and not much to try to do inside.

Besides eating and beachcombing, the only thing we have done is had a photo session done. Tangible Traditions Photography met up with us on North Beach to do our 10th anniversary photo session. It was such a fun session. Krystena is so talented and got our images back to us quickly! I would highly recommend her for a photo session on Tybee!

We ate at a handful of different places on this trip:

Rock House- for the third time in a month. This is old faithful. Never had anything bad from there. We did burgers this time. And their mojitos are perfect.

AJ’s Dockside– We ate there for New Years Eve. Reservations are required since the pandemic started. It was ok, but not great enough to want to go back.

Coco’s– This was the best meal of our trip. I had surf and turf, the husband had tuna steak. They were both mouth watering delicious. If you are coming to Tybee eat there for sure.

Pier 16 was good! We ate there on our last trip. It feels a little more fancy and modern, but you won’t be in the only one in a sweatshirt and messy ponytail. We both had fried seafood platters. Typical yummy fried food.

Agave– We ate there the first night. It was close enough to walk from our condo. I had a pineapple stuffed with steak, chicken and cheese. So so good.

North Beach Bar and Grill- Ate here for lunch on New Years Day. They had black eyed peas which was a big deal for me because I literally brought black eyed peas to cook in the condo if I couldn’t find any.

Breakfast Club– The PMS omelette was so good. This is a have to eat kind of place.

Other than eating we just walked around on the beach, collected shells all over the North Side of the island, avoided stepping on Jellyfish (there were a lot!) and watched the boats float past. Perfect socially distanced anniversary vacation. I love Tybee during the winter during the off season. It’s nothing short of perfect. The weather is gorgeous. Bring pants and long sleeves, maybe a t-shirt or two and a jacket. I wouldn’t worry about fancy clothes. Tybee is not a “dress up” kind of place. Jeans and a cute top are more than enough to dress up for dinner. The whole island is such a relaxed vibe.

We did jump in the car on a rainy day and go to Saint Simon’s Island, and Jekyll Island. I’d love to see those a little more in depth. I’ll post about that trip at a later time.

Have you ever been to Tybee Island?

Thanksgiving Road Trip to Tybee Island Part 3

This is a continuation of two previous posts regarding our recent trip to Tybee Island, Georgia. The other two posts can be found here:

Part One

Part Two

The final full day of our trip was Thanksgiving! I had to say I was a little nervous that no where would be open and we could have to eat gas station food for Thanksgiving dinner, but luckily I was incorrect. I will say if I was doing this trip again, I would have preferred to stay in a VRBO just so we weren’t stressing and looking for a place to eat, but honestly then we may not have been able to try so much of the amazing food that Tybee has to offer.

On Thursday morning we woke up and got ready to head into Savannah for some sightseeing. Savannah is such a beautiful city and I was over the moon excited to be able to share it with our kids.

Our first stop was Monterey Square, because well, that’s where we could find parking near Forsyth Park. We walked the square while I gawked over the Spanish Moss trees (my favs) and then we made our way to Forsyth Park.

Fun fact! Parking is free in downtown Savannah on Holidays. At least it was for this holiday. We had no idea before we got there, so it was a nice surprise once we got downtown. Downtown was more crowded than I imagined it would be, but it was still enjoyable.

Forsyth Park was everything I imagined. There were spanish moss trees lining the sidewalks. People from all walks of line were out enjoying the fresh air. Some were walking, some were running, some were rollerskating… there was even a yoga class taking place in the grass off to the side of the fountain. Oh goodness, I may be from Southeast Kansas but all of this appealed to the not so hidden Hipster Section of my heart. I could have stayed all day and watched people but, ya know, toddlers.

After Forsyth, we hopped back in the car and drove to the historic downtown area. We parked and walked straight to the Riverwalk. My poor family allowed me to take a couple (hundred) family pictures. I loved showing them the river, the cobblestone, and the terrifying stone steps.

My family wasn’t excited about my tripod but it made sure I got some great photos of all of us!

By the time we finished our walk we were starving, so we thought we would head back towards Tybee. We checked the areas between Savannah and Tybee, but none of them were open. So, we drove by to Tybee on a hope and prayer. Thankfully, Pier 16 was open and it was one we wanted to try out anyway. I got the most delicious chicken salad. Maybe it was because I had been eating nothing but carbs for days (not the usual for me) or maybe it was a magic salad, but it was so so good. Everyone else got burgers and they were all delicious. We got very lucky with this place!

After lunch we went to the hotel and suited up for the beach. It was maybe 82 degrees and gorgeous. I couldn’t believe how busy the beach was! It was nothing like the live beach cam from Hotel Tybee that I’ve watched over the summer but I was surprised to see so many people in the water, in November! There was still plenty of room to social distance, but still I was just surprised! I like going to Tybee in the off season and outside of New Years Eve this is the busiest I’ve seen.

We had so much fun playing in the waves, building sandcastles and soaking up the sunshine. We stayed out and played for a couple of hours, enjoying every single second.

When the kids were finally worn out we went back to the room, to rest and get ready for dinner. I had noticed that The Rock House was open and I already knew that I was getting a Gator Po Boy because I was torn between it and Shark Tacos the previous night. I also had a mojito because well, they know how to make a good mojito.

We got up earlier the next day and headed back home. For a very last minute trip, I loved every minute of it. I love Tybee in the off season. Can’t speak for the busy season, but maybe one day I’ll visit the beach during the summer. We will actually be headed back there at the end of December for our 10th anniversary trip. I can’t wait to get back, eat even more amazing food and enjoy a few quiet days with my hubby.

Have you ever been to Tybee Island?

Thanksgiving Road Trip to Tybee Island Part 2

This is a continuation of my post from Monday regarding our Thanksgiving road trip to Tybee! You can find that post here.

On Wednesday, our first full day on the island, we woke up early and got around for a fun day. We started with coffee from Tybean.

My caramel macchiato was delicious. The shops at Tybee Oaks don’t open until 10, so we headed to North Beach. North Beach is the quieter section of the island, and also it’s where the Light House is located!

I’ve already climbed the Tybee Island Lighthouse once, on our last trip, and I’m terrified of heights so I wasn’t about to volunteer to go up there with a four year old. My 18 year old wasn’t interested either so we went to the beach while my husband and our 13 year old climbed the lighthouse.

However, he did send me a picture of the amazing view. Also, he send me snapchats of myself on the beach. Creeper.

They also visited the Tybee Museum in Battery Garland. My husband said we should have visited it the first time we went because it was very cool. For more information on the lighthouse and the museum go here.

While at North Beach, we did what toddlers like to do. Stand in the water and run away from the tiny waves while screaming like our lives depended on it. I could walk in the water and look for shells all day long.

After the others joined us, I took some time to practice playing with my camera and took some pictures of my 13 year old. So glad that she has always been super willing to be my photo subject.

After our photo session we hopped back in the car and went to Tybee Oaks for some shopping. These are my favorite shops on the island. They are super cute and it’s a bunch of handmade things from local artists. I got a new sand dollar ornament for our tree and it makes me happy every time I look at it.

After shopping we went to the Crab Shack for lunch. Collectively we had 2 BBQ Pork Sandwiches, and 2 Deviled Crab Sandwiches. It was a nice stop for lunch, delicious food and they have gators that you can see and feed!

After that, we had some time to kill so we ran back to the hotel for potty breaks, and to hang out for a few minutes before heading out to our next adventure, a dolphin cruise!

We hopped on board with Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours. Chip was our captain, and Lisa was our first mate. The tour was so fun. We got to see Cockspur Island and the Cockspur Island Lighthouse. We were also able to see the border of South Carolina, which I found super fascinating. I never thought that the border would actually be lined with rock. I really thought it was just an imaginary line.

It did take a while to find some dolphins, and we were out a little later than they had planned but we did finally see dolphins. I loved them and so did my kids. I will forever remember our 4 year old giggling as she watched the dolphins play. I highly recommend Captain Mikes! Lisa was so funny, and they both made the experience very memorable.

After the cruise, we headed back to our hotel to rest for a bit before heading downtown for dinner. This time we chose The Rock House. My husband and I had shark tacos, our oldest had a burger and our middle child had crab legs because she is a little bougie. I’m pretty sure they also have the most delicious mojitos I’ve ever tasted. OR it was just that good because we had at that point been with all three of our kids for every single second for 3 days straight.

Who knows. Anyway, our food was so so good. We knew we’d be back again. In fact, we went back the following night!

After dinner we went to Wet Willies for a couple more drinks to take back to the room and we walked out to the pier. The moon looked amazing poking behind the clouds and reflecting on the water. There is nothing more peaceful than listening to the waves at night. It was worth the walk out there for sure.

We all ended up going to bed fairly early again, which is a major bonus of vacation. Sleep, glorious sleep. Stayed tuned for part three, the final installment of our family Tybee trip!

Thanksgiving Road Trip to Tybee Island Part 1

Last week, we took a family road trip to my absolute favorite place in the world, Tybee Island, Georgia. I’ve been trying to get an opportunity to sit down and recap it, while dealing with holiday projects! It’s been a crazy few days! However, tonight my daughter mentioned that my biggest fan happens to go to school with her and has been asking when I’m going to make a post about our trip, so I figured I should not leave my adoring public hanging on any longer.

We started our trip by jumping into the car around 4 AM and heading out of town. We like leaving crazy early because we are delusional and we hold out hope that young kids will sleep for a majority of the drive. We were wrong, as always.

We decided to stop in Nashville for lunch and to stretch our legs. For the most part I can say that this was a horrible idea. First off, we only had road snacks on the way there and we were basically hangry when we got there. We parked at Cumberland Park and walked over John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge to downtown Nashville. The bridge was very cool and we got some incredible views of Nasvhille.

Nashville view from Pedestrian Bridge

This was about where the magic stopped. It was crowded and loud and honestly with three kids in tow and no food in my body I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t take in much because I was trying to keep eyes on my kids (specifically my four year old) AND every place we tried to step in to, to grab some food, was closed. We ended up at Margaritaville, and the food was just not very good. Nashville has been on my travel list for a while, so it was a bit of a let down, but I think we may try it again when it is just the two of us. We did leave there and head down to the Music City Walk of Fame. It was fun finding some of our favorite singers starts, such as Reba, Miranda Lambert, and Johnny Cash.

From there, we jumped back in the car for a couple hours and then stopped in Chattanooga to sleep for the night. I will for sure go back there! I wish I had gotten photos, but it was dark. It was clear and clean and quiet and it’s been added to my travel list. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Lookout Mountain. The only downside was that their grab and go breakfast didn’t include any meat. We decided to pass on muffins and apple juice and we hit the McDonald’s drive thru instead.

Once back in the car we finished our trek to Tybee. Just before Savannah I started to notice palm trees, and then I loudly pointed them out every single time we passed them. My family is so lucky, obviously.

We stopped by Hotel Tybee to see if we could check in early and much to our surprise, our room was ready! After hauling all of our things up to our room, we immediately went to the beach. Hotel Tybee is in a great location for this slower time of year. The hotel is right on the beach and the only thing separating the building from ocean is a public parking lot. It’s right next to downtown, so you can easily park your car and stay parked for a majority of your stay. I think it would probably be a bit crowded during peak season, but I loved it during this slow time. Also, I’d like to say that I really liked Hotel Tybee! It was clean and while all of the hotels on the island are older (which is part of the charm), you can tell that the owners are putting a lot of effort into bringing it up to date. I would absolutely recommend for your Tybee Island stay!

After playing on the beach, for a bit, we ran downtown for grown up refreshments because that’s what adults do when they have been in the car for 16+ hours with a 4 year old that was asking us every five seconds why it is taking so long. After stopping at Wet Willies for daiquiri’s (Tybee Island is open container legal! You can carry your drink around all over town while walking. However, it has been voted that there are going to be changes to that rule after January 1, 2021.) By the way, I got the “Naked Willie” which is sugar free. I liked it, my husband did not. However, I don’t drink soda or extra sugary drinks and he is in a serious relationship with Mountain Dew and Monster, so take that for what its worth.

To soften the blow of drinking slushies in front of our kids, and not being able to share with them, I offered to get them some ice cream. I noticed a super cute frozen yogurt store when we had first walked down town, so I ushered the kids inside. Beau & Arrow’s Frozen Yogurt was amazing! They have a wall full of flavors to choose from, and you just tell them what flavor you would like, and then you can choose from a huge selection of toppings. I saw everything for toppings from sprinkles to gummy bears. Pre-covid you would be getting your own yogurt, but ya know, pandemic, so they were happy to fill it up for you. You pay by the weight and honestly, I thought that the price was very affordable especially for a vacation spot. We might or might not have snuck a bite of our toddlers birthday cake with gummy bears (market research obviously) and it was delicious. Also, the owner is such an incredibly sweet woman, who is also from the Midwest originally. I loved talking to her while we were there. And if you think I’m going to go back in there for my own frozen yogurt on my next trip, when I don’t have to share with kids, you are absolutely correct.

With our treats in hand, we headed back to the beach to build a sandcastle and my 13 year old daughter decided this was a good opportunity to go into the freezing ocean up to her waistline in a hoodie and blue jeans. I mean, YOLO.

After a while of staring at her and shaking our heads, questioning where we went wrong, we decided we’d better head back into the hotel room to have her change and hopefully avoid hypothermia.

After a change of clothes, we headed down to Sting Ray’s for dinner. I had the crab cakes, the older girls had crab legs, and the husband had a tuna steak. The toddler had a corn dog that she probably licked before proclaiming she was full. Everything was so incredibly good and worth the visit! I will visit this one again!

After dinner we trekked back to the hotel and passed out before 10:00 EST. because vacation can be exhausting, even when in your favorite place on the planet.

Stayed tuned for part 2!

Home Makeover: Quarantine Edition- Master Bedroom

What a long, weird summer we had this year. After I finally got sick of baking 545154536 loafs of banana bread and finish every non-important task on my to do list, I decided to take on a new task. Basically, I think I was just trying to control anything I could while the rest of the world was feeling out of control. So, why not completely redecorate my house? We went from a white farmhouse to a dark western boho theme. And I am in love with the outcome.

So, I think now is a good time to start showing off my progress! Our house isn’t totally done, but really is a house ever totally done anyway?

Today we are going to start with my bedroom!

Here’s the before:

While I did really love this bedroom, I also had done our house in a neutral farmhouse style so that it could easily be listed and resold if needed. (I have commitment issues with houses… I usually want to move every three years and we have been here for 5.) It was time to make it a home for us instead of for other people.

I started out by painting the accent wall Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams. Sidenote: I learned over the course of this remodel that I will only buy paint from Sherwin Williams. Previously, our entire house was Dover White by Sherwin Williams, but I bought i

t all through Lowes. What happened was, no matter if I gave them the same card or the same paint formula every single time, the color never matched from one can to another. I know it’s normal for a small variation but I have had none of those issues with Sherwin Williams. Also, it’s worth it to pay a little more for good quality paint. You can do 4 coats of the cheap stuff or 2 coats of the good stuff. Spend the money and buy quality paint. Sherwin Williams always has sales, watch for their coupons.

Anyway, like I said, the accent wall is Tricorn Black, and the other walls are Accessible Beige. The person at Sherwin Williams helped me pick it out based on wanting to match with Tricorn and he did an excellent job. It fits the vibe of this room so well.

The duvet cover is from Target. This is the most comfortable bedding I’ve probably ever had. I also picked up the faux fur throw pillows at Target, as well as the lamps! The lamps are no longer showing online, but here is the same lamp in pink. I picked up the throw blanket at a local flea market.

Now, the cow print. That’s a whole freaking saga. Initally, I saw that our local-ish Target had a cow print in stock that I liked, so I jumped in the car and went to get it. Only to find out that it sold the night before through pickup. They were out of stock. I didn’t have time to look at other stores, so back home I went with my tail between my legs, but also with my bedding, lamps, and throw pillows (oops).

I ended up calling a bunch of Targets, out of stock everywhere. My local Target again said they had it so I tried to order it through pickup and it got cancelled, twice. I found a replacement from kohls, and I was so happy… until they cancelled. I just happened to find the exact one that Kohl’s had, on Overstock.com. He was exactly what I needed to fill the space.

I also scored this cactus print from Target during my accidental trip. I think it’s perfect in the corner. Also the hooden hanger for my bags was a perfect yard sale find! Black curtains are from Walmart.

There are still a few things I would like to add, but I love the way it is coming together. Did you do any major home changes during quarantine?

Guest Post: Handy Tips for a Safe, Healthy Halloween in 2020

Welcome back friends! If you are looking for some alternatives to Halloween in a pandemic…. we’ve got you covered!

Please enjoy this guest blogger post from More Happier Moms

Handy Tips for a Safe, Healthy Halloween in 2020

Spooky season has arrived, and Halloween is just around the corner! However, we all have to take a different approach to the holiday this year. After all, trick-or-treating and costume parties are about as far from COVID-safe practices as you can get – and you certainly won’t see anybody bobbing for apples this year. 

More Happier Moms knows how important it is to keep traditions going, even if you have to find new ways to do them. That’s why we’ve gathered together this list of alternative ways to celebrate Halloween in 2020: 

Host an Outdoor Party 

COVID-19 spreads mainly through airborne particles, so wide-open spaces keep your risk low. 

Organize a Trunk or Treat 

Trick-or-treat alternatives make a lot of sense this year.

  • Trunk-or-treats are a longstanding tradition for kids in areas where traditional trick-or-treating won’t work. 
  • You can apply the same principle to COVID-19 safety by organizing a socially distant trunk-or-treat with family members or your COVID-19 bubble
  • Check out these tips for keeping this kind of celebration as safe as possible. 

Go Virtual 

Connecting online keeps everyone safe. 

  • Use a chat service like Zoom to host a virtual costume party, so your little ones and their friends can share their spooky looks. 
  • Host a virtual pumpkin carving contest – everyone carves their pumpkin ahead of time, then get together on zoom to show off your creations
  • Grown ups can enjoy a virtual event, too. For example, schedule a Halloween Happy Hour where all the guests enjoy the same festive cocktail

Yes, this will be a different kind of Halloween, but we can still make the most of it. These are just a few of the ways you can embrace the Halloween spirit without significantly raising your risk. Take care, and Happy Haunting!

Visit More Happier Moms for more ideas and inspiration for your parenting journey!

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

Great Salt Plains- Jet, Oklahoma

Hi Friends! It’s been a while since I posted. Oh goodness quarantine has been so weird. And of course we had to cancel our vacation to Florida, so we decided to take a quick road trip to the Salt Plains in Jet, Oklahoma. I had been dying to go for a couple years, so it was a good excuse to go.

It’s about a 3 hour trip from our house, so its a decent sized road trip. Definitely make sure to stop at the gas station to use restrooms in Jet before heading out to the Crystal Digging Area. There is nothing out there but wide open plains and a port a potty that may not even be open, if you happen to go during a pandemic.

The salt plains themselves are gorgeous. It would be an amazing place to take some photos! My girls weren’t interested though.

Make sure to take LOTS of water. Not only to drink but also to clean up after digging in the clay/salt. I would have taken a bigger water container with us if I was to do it over again, instead of just water bottles.

Bring a shovel, or more than one, my husband was super excited that we were doing manual labor instead of lounging on the beach in Pensacola.

Basically, you dig deep down into the clay until you hit water, about 2 feet. Once you hit water, let the hole fill up and then use the water to slosh up against the sides of the hole. The clay will wash away and the crystals can be found. We found one small crystal between all of us, and I think the biggest issue is that we didn’t go far enough into the plains.

What we did get is really, really dirty though. Turns out the clay is practically sunscreen so I ended up with a spotted sunburn. Make sure you sunscreen up and when you get done, do another layer. That salt is HOT.

All in all, it was fun but if we were to go back I would go deeper into the plains to find more crystals and I would go in the fall or early Spring when it isn’t 56415615 degrees outside.

After the plains we went to the lake area. It was $10 for parking. We parked the car and paid online and then carried our food down to a picnic table. After eating our lunch we took turns changing in the car (No restrooms, remember) and then we went down to the lake.

That was the most disgusting lake I’ve ever been in. The bottom was complete mud. You could walk out into the middle of the lake and still only be knee deep in the water, but by then your legs are covered up to your calves in mud. Maybe it would have been fun to have a floatie, but otherwise. We weren’t impressed. Except my toddler, who had a great time building a sand castle. She still talks about the beach we went to and the sand castle she built.

Overall, the lake was not worth the trip to me and the crystal digging would have been better when it’s not as hot. Maybe in April when the season opens, or October right before it closes down. We won’t make another trip down there, but if we were in the area we would definitely stop and try again. And I would really like to take my girls to get some cool sepia/vintage photos.

What local trips have you made this quarantine summer?

Senior Celebration Despite the Pandemic, Small Town Style

Photo Credit: Sheri Thompson

Even amidst a global pandemic, our small Kansas town gave the class of 2020 Seniors a night that they will never forget. Last Sunday, the community of Caney rallied together to put on a night of celebration for the kids that have had to postpone their graduation date. While the governor specifically stated that graduations are not allowed, the school board did some quick thinking and made an unforgettable event for the kids while still adhering to social distancing guidelines. This is how the Shoot the U and Cruise Down Memory Lane for the Seniors was born.

To fully understand this event, let me first explain this small town tradition. Like many small towns, the kids of Caney spent many evenings cruising around, listening to music and waving at their friends. After driving down the main street of town, actually named 4th street, they would make a U turn at the end of the street and continue back down the street where they came from. This would lead them around the city park and then back to that same route. The fun in shooting the U was always less about the drive itself but about seeing your friends, listening to music, and showing off your vehicle. This tradition has been a part of Caney for as long as most can remember.

So, it only made sense for the Seniors to be celebrated with a Shoot the U Event. The Seniors began by lining up at the grade school, where most of them started their school career. They were allowed two vehicles per child. The kids and parents did an incredible job of putting together unique vehicles. There were kids riding in the back of trucks (one in a recliner in the truck bed!), kids on trailers, in convertibles, jeeps, cars, ATV’s and so much more. Vehicles were decorated with balloons and signs, and chalk paint, etc.

While the Seniors and their families traveled down 4th Street, the streets were lined with spectators. (While practicing social distancing of course). There were aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers and neighbors snapping photos and cheering the kids on. Before shooting the U, each child was announced, as well as sports and clubs they were part of during their high school career, what scholarships they received and what their future plans are. Photos were taken, and it was broadcast via Facebook live for the people that couldn’t be there and for everyone to view later.

After this, they traveled down the road to the football stadium and then the high school to receive additional gifts. There were photos taken and goody bags given. Awards were handed out. Yard signs and photo plaques were given to each child. Photo banners hung on the highway.

Also, it didn’t stop with the school administration. The entire community did an incredible job to create an unforgettable night. The local gas station donated $5 in gas for the event for each senior. Sonic donated a free drink to each senior and Big G’s, the local burger place, donated one ice cream cone coupon per senior.

While these kids had to miss out on so many things for their last year for high school, and nothing can ever make up for that, I truly believe that this helped soften the blow. There is nothing quite like living in a small town. Especially when someone is in need. I have watched this town rally together so many times over the course of my life and I had no doubt that they would love our kids just as fiercely as always.

Easy Sign Making with vinyl and PVPP

I know everyone is bored in the house and looking for DIY projects, so I thought I’d share one of my favorites. I love to use vinyl as a stencil to make signs. I use what is called the paint, vinyl, paint, peel method. (PVPP)

I start off by painting a piece of wood the color that I want my lettering to be. This sign was burgundy with white lettering so I painted the board white first and let it dry.

While it dried I cut out the letters with some permanent grade vinyl that I wanted for my sign. Next I laid them out to make sure they fit. After I made sure they fit and I measured I attached the vinyl to the wood using transfer tape.

And then I painted over the vinyl letters with white paint. You want to use the same color paint first on the board so it will create a good deal. This helps prevent leaking.

After that coat of paint dries, paint over everything with your board color. This took a few coats.

Once the paint has a little bit of time to get tacky I peel off the letters using a wedding tool. I did have a small amount of leaking under the vinyl due to the amount of coats I needed, so I used a small brush to touch up those spots.

And ta da! I let it dry for a few hours and then it was ready to go to it’s new home.