Easy Valentine Cards

Valentine’s season in one of our favorite crafting seasons!  We just love all the cute colors and hearts and gifts that we make for giving friends and family.

Here are some super easy and beautiful Valentine cards we made this year that include two current art trends, watercolor and glitter.  The simplicity of this craft is perfect for a pro yet personal touch.

Here is what I used:

To start I used the 6 x 9 watercolor paper, because I don’t care for a lot of cutting and I could simply cut it straight from the pad binding.  Once I had the number I wanted I folder them on a flat surface and used the handles of my scissors to make a cleanly folded crease.

From there I starting mixing my paint a touch with about a teaspoon or tablespoon of water. I like to not mix it completely together as a variety of tones make a prettier heart.

I loosely painted my hearts and for fun on a few I flecked so paint speckles on my flicking my brush against my hand a few inches away from the card.

Last I laid the cards flat.  To help reduce chances of the paint running, I go creative in how they were laid to make sure they were flat.  The paper does tend to warp temporarily with the water color paint but when it dries it will go back to normal.

Let the cards all dry, for about an hour or too.  Make sure they are completely dry as you will not want the glitter to cling to the wet parts and if you try to move them while they are still drying you are more likely to have the paint bleed.

When they are dry use a bottle of Elmer’s glue and put your calligraphy skills to use.  Make sure your glue is all down in the end of the bottle and test on another piece of paper to get use to the speed it comes out for writing.  I recommend sticking to short words like Love, or abbreviations like: u r a q t (you are a cutie) Which will make them smile mouthing it out and trying to figure it out.

Other ideas are: Hello Beautiful, Hey There, Happy Valentines, Sweet, Cutie, xoxo… Simply consider the receiver of the card and what would put a smile on their face.

Valentine Card DIY ideas _5
Photography by Effervescent Media Works

Sprinkle your glitter on all over your glue, gently shake it off of the plate and set aside, face up to dry.

What my kids loved: Helping sprinkle the glitter and also painting the cards.  My toddler is quite proud every time she completes her masterpiece and I love that.  It is half the reason for doing crafts like this is worth it.  Instilling pride, self-esteem, and patience etc.

And there you have it!  Have fun!

Comment below if you have made a craft like this or one like it!  How did it turn out?


What’s Next Mom?

These are my two babies . . .  when they were still babies. It’s one of my favorite pictures.  I remember this being a challenging trip.  We were down in Atlanta to see friends and my husband got sick and had to go to Urgent care in the middle of the night.  And this was them at the hotel before bed.  They were both eager for those bottles and then just sat there sucking on them waiting for my next move.  Just staring.  So many expectations or just wonder I guess.

What’s next mom?  What’s next on the agenda? What exciting thing will you entertain us with next?  What are we going to have for dinner mom?  Who’s going to come over for playdate mom?

The list goes on.

When I was a kid, we found our own playmates down the street and only sometimes did my mom formally arrange them.  But sadly, a lot of that part of America is history.  I look down the street and rarely see kids out at play.

This photo.  When I look at it, I see the little expectations again and I see two innocent and helpless


little human’s I am in charge of taking care of.  Nourishing them. Teaching them everything.  Comforting them when they are upset and helping them build their confidence. Helping them to build their own confidence as they learn to do things for themselves, and become quite stubborn in insisting to do it themselves.  And then after all those seemingly never-ending small expectations.  Filling a bottle, then a sippy cup, then one day they stop asking you and get it for themselves.  And little by little they grow up.

They take pride in their accomplishments and suddenly develop expectations of themselves.  My 4-year-old would barely sit down to finish a coloring page or a drawing, then suddenly overnight it seems he has been sitting and patiently coloring and drawing pictures constantly.  And I love this because not only is he developing his creativity but learning to express himself in a healthy manner. Emotions of love or stress and frustration can come out in his drawings and it helps me to see more of what he is going through and open up a door of conversation on the topic.

I have also noticed he gets too hard on himself.  Perhaps that is the artist’s blood in him, from our family of artists that expect a little too much of themselves.  But how else do you grow if you never push yourself?  Anyway, we are learning that it is ok to color outside the lines sometimes.

Have a little artist in the house with the abundance of sweet little creations?  Here are some great tips for organizing all that artwork.

Mama Magic: Party Planning with Jessica Danielle

I recently got together and did a collab with one of the most down to earth, fun bright and colorful moms I know!  Here name is Jessi, but she currently goes professionally by Jessica Danielle. She is a party planner and photographer.

Together we chat DIY, party planning and she shows us how to make a Tulle Tutu.

Recently she put on an adorable Unicorn Party for her 4 year old.  Complete with the ponies and magical horn and bright color.

The girls pranced around and danced and had a blast.


Beautiful cake by Cakes by Jessica This little cake topper is so adorable.  I can’t get over it.


This adorable silver sparkled four year old unicorn shirt is from Aubrey Bills  Boutique


Adorable backdrop by Kristy Lynne Horsley.  Those unicorn cut outs and patterns is so fun!


This adorable unicorn costume is from Princess Paradise! Love all their costumes.  Such great quality and it was the perfect outfit for Brynley’s “Royal” birthday trot to presents.

I think every little girl at some point had a stage of exciting galloping around like a horse or unicorn.


Be sure to check out and subscribe to Jessica Danielle Photography here: https://www.instagram.com/jessica.danielle.photography/

And if you are located in the Salt Lake and West Jordan areas of Utah, be sure to inquire for your next upcoming birthday party!  Whether you decorate or just want someone there to document the day!  It takes such a stress off so you can enjoy the party yourself!

Below is Brynley’s full video captured by Jennie Case.  Jennie captured my 2nd child’s birth.  I am so comfortable with her and I love her videos. Consider her for your upcoming event or wedding!


Photography: Jessica Danielle Photography and Party Planning

Videography: Jennie Case

T-Shirt: Aubrey Bills Boutique

Cake: Cakes By Jessica

Unicorn Costume by: Princess Paradise

Fun and Fast Turkey Craft

Each autumn, I can never get enough of these beautiful colorful leaves.  This fun craft is simple and brings together nature and fall color!  And makes for a cute table centerpiece for Thanksgiving or other holiday dinners.

I hadn’t ever seen a turkey in person before I moved to California and I would never have guessed I would find them here!  Palm trees and wild turkey’s, who knew.  That is northern California for you.  I did learn that wild turkey’s can be rather mean and will come right after you, so if you ever meet one, keep your distance!


What you’ll need

      • Pinecones


    • Vibrant Leaves (best found in damp cold conditions near the base of it’s recently changing tree) If you are not in a place where real leaves are available use artificial ones.





May your house be filled with cheer and a little gobble gobble!

Happy Crafting!

“Push Me Mom!”

Those three words that can sometimes lead to my ultimate mom guilt.  Because they come again and again!  Sometimes I think , “not again.  I love you, but I have SO much to do….. or I just want to socialize for a few minutes with the other moms!  Play date is for mama’s sanity too child! I can’t wait til you are old enough to swing yourself.”  And then you know what… I feel guilty again for looking at such a task as a chore.


Because, tomorrow, they will grow up and my 2 year old won’t have that little sweet chime in his voice when he comes to my office door and “mom you come push me? Push me on da swing mom!”  And so then I pull away from whatever email, edit or project I am working on to go out in the backyard and push him. (not always mind you, but I attempt to balance it out)  I lift the swing back back back and let go. And he or she will squeal with delight “Wheeeeeee!!  Higher mom higher!  Whoa mom, too high, too scary…”

It goes on.

But you know something…. as adorable as their little chimes or squeals of joy are, there is something a little sweeter.

Sometimes I will be working, and take a look out the door into the backyard and see something adorable, I hear something adorable.  It is the way they play with each other.  Yes there is the “NO IT’s MY turn First! MOOOOMMMMMM Milo’s NOT letting me have a TURN!” thrown in there… but every once in a while, I hear them playing together nicely and taking turns spinning each other and giggling together.  This sibling bonding is heartwarming and I love to see it.   I believe that even at a young age, kids recognize the sacrifices we make.  Believe me, there are times I can’t get anything done!  But I have noticed what a huge difference breaking up my day has also had on me, on any stresses etc to step away from chores or emails or whatever to play with the kids, to go to the park, to stop and smell the roses… It brings me back to priorities, to family, and you know something… it drives me, motivates me.

Madeline will notice when I make a sacrifice and she sees when I am turning away from something else that I need to get done.  And it is a serious tug and pull.  This balancing act.  Being an adult, helping pay the bills and making those sacrifices.  I feel like a juggler for a reason. That ought to be a synonym for adult.

Madeline sees when I pull away because every time she sees that I am spending quality time with her, and not half looking at the phone or playing hide and seek (while doing chores at the same time (admit it! you do it too:)

In those moments we are building a puzzle, or reading a book or playing with ponies, or swinging, even if it just 5 or 10 minutes here and there…. she looks at me and says, “I love you mom.”

Time is love.

Have you played today?

“Mom! What’s for dinner?”

My child: “Mom!  What’s for dinner?”

Me: “Whatever I can get made!”

And in the meantime I will juggle as I deal with raw meat, a hot stove, knives, curious kids wanting to help and hunger that just can’t wait.

What’s your daily juggle?  Let us know in the comments below and it just might make it into our next video!

Here are my quick tips for having a hassle free dinner making session.

  1. Have an activity.
    1. Truthfully, we usually wait until this time of day to turn on any screens, so I use dinner prep time as a time to turn on a show.  But if you want to avoid too much screen time, that have a box of “dinner prep time only” activities that you pull out special for this time of day.  Here are some examples (play dough, stickers, puzzles, watercolor paints…)  Just make it a fun activity that they don’t get to do whenever.
  2. Involve them.
    1. We have started a chore chart in our house, which can be really tricky to be consistent with, but I have found that during dinner prep time, this is a great time for them to do some simple chores and help out.  The stickers and eventually earning a toy are their incentive.  Small chores like wiping down the table, picking up toys, putting silverware on the table, folding napkins, scrubbing potatoes, washing their hands etc are a few examples of some chores.  They will feel part of the team too helping out.  Be sure to encourage them along with reinforcement. Plus, they are more likely to eat the food if they help!
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  3. Let them watch
    1. From a safe distance, let them watch the stirring and chopping.  Always be cautious of heat and use this as a reminder of listening to mama to stay safe.  We have adopted Daniel’s the Tiger’s , “Stop and Listen to Stay Safe.” Each show has a lesson and that one has helped.  Turning on the oven light and letting them watch keeps them preoccupied for a few minutes.
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  4. Give them a Snack
    1. Look out for this one!  I feel like there is never enough ‘up’ space in our house and I can’t seem to keep the chips and other not so healthy snacks hidden well enough!  And as most of us know, the moment they snack on too much junk, the less likely they will actually eat their dinner!  So my suggestion of keeping those little hungry tweeters at bay until the good healthy stuff is ready is to take advantage of their hunger!  Raw carrot sticks are one such example that my little’s are quick to grab at, especially if it is offered to them when they are hungry.  Plus, it takes a while to naw at too, so it is a slower eat.
  5. Let them play in the back yard.
    1. Having a gated backyard has been my dream for a LONG time!  When I am chopping and boiling and frying it is not fun to have little baby birds at your feet needing constant attention.  So I pull out bubbles or a something fun like chalk and let them go play.  The big thing is making it something new to keep them entertained long enough with out too many sibling quarrels.

Good luck and happy eats!  Let me know in the comments what you like to do to keep your little preoccupied while you prep dinner!

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Daily Juggle Ep 1: A Rambunctious Photoshoot

All I can say about this photoshoot I recently did with my toddlers is, “The Juggle is REAL!”

This is one of the silliest and most fun photo shoots I have done with my kids.  And as a photographer and a mama these kids have had a lot of pictures taken so that is saying a lot.  They thought hopping all over mama was so much fun because it is something that they never get to do!  I edited this into a Charlie Chaplin styled old movie and I am in love with the high speed cuteness.  Little Madeline’s and Milo’s kerplunking all over the bed and little facial expressions are the sweetest.


Not a single day of motherhood is easy.  I can often feel like a circus performer wrangling this little crew.  But I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.  What is your daily juggle?  Tell us and it might just make it into our next video!  Something as seemingly simple as transporting the groceries inside is one of mine from this week.

When it comes to it, yes I have hard days, and more hard days.  Yes, the juggle and struggle is real, but with that… I have learned to roll with it.

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Learning Patience as a Mom

Today was one of those days.  Like most days in raising toddlers, it was filled with messes,



falling down and shedding tears, spilled milk at breakfast.  All the fun stuff.  And when you start the

day tired and clumsy it can be hard to get a running start!

Before I had kids I use to do a lot of painting.  It is still my patience builder, but now it is twice the patience builder.  Last time I pulled my painting supplies out Madeline and I painted together (she is great to help me with the beginning of painting getting all that paint on the canvas) and then… Milo, my two year old woke up from his nap and wanted to help.  I just couldn’t get it all cleaned up fast enough and to avoid all the tears, I let him “help” me. After all, my landscape now had some blue trees to decorate it Dr. Seuss style…


Patience tested.  My work put in reverse…. but the reward.  Having some bonding time with my toddler sitting on my lap, loving to be doing something special with mom.  Ultimately I only lost about 15 minutes of work, I snapped this picture and painted over it later.

Earlier today, I walk down the hall to see the bathroom door closed and I hear the two making water noises in the bathroom.  I mentally prepare myself for what mess is on the other side of the door.  When I was a toddler, I remember pretending the toilet was a pool for my barbies.  GROSS, I know.  I think I was 3.  Yes, I do remember it.  I put all the toilet paper in too as part of the party.  I was having a blast.  Then my mom came into discover the mess.  I remember starting to prepare for “being in trouble” but my mom went to go get a camera.  Now, typically when that happened it meant we were doing something cute, positive or we were posing for pictures on vacation… film cameras weren’t pulled out as often back then.  I remember thinking… “ok, it’s ok, I am being cute/ funny!”  Haha.  of all things.   In reality my mom approached a rather messy situation with the only thing she could really do in that exact moment.  Laugh and make it a memory.  Then clean up the mess and move on. Yes she told me it wasn’t ok, yes I had to help clean up.


So when I opened the bathroom door, I was preparing to find the whole roll of toilet paper everywhere, toys in the toilet, the works… but what do I find? Madeline had gone to find her swimsuit, gotten it on herself and her and Milo were up on the counter, having a sink pool party!  It was quite the silly sight.  I love them so much.  Every day they make messes but at least they crack me up along the way.

So whatever it may be along the way, each day for you, just try laughing first and capture the memory.  Then clean up the mess.  (and have them help:)

I hope you will stick around for more and subscribe to our Youtube Chanel.


Monticello Virgina

Our first grand stop on our epic road trip across the country with two toddlers in tow, all our stuff to live off of for the next 3 months and a small car…. Monticello.

We learned the correct pronunciation is Monte ‘ch’ ello, old Italian.  Thomas Jefferson was an architectural genius for his day. Here is our happy attempt to expose our kids to art, culture and history.  Sometimes I think we need remind ourselves they are only 2 and 3.

Here is what I learned in the start of our road trip.

  1. Boredom is good
    1. With so many electronics and distractions to go with them, kids don’t seem to get much of this these days.  I found that if we try to avoid pulling out any kind of electronics, the kids have to actually use their “imagination” and come up with their own entertainment.  They quite literally are forced to learn how to completely entertain themselves.  And what might start out with a little whining somehow transitions into them making up their own songs and playing pretend with their little toys, and getting excited about things they see out the window, like the clouds or a big truck going by. And when you hear them laughing at each other in the back seat for the silly faces they are making at each other, that is a happy sound indeed.  True road trip bonding.
  2. Mix it up!
    1. While I did not want to provide my children with something to do every moment of the trip, I can’t expect little toddlers to completely entertain themselves for a long road trip, especially when they can barely see out the window anyway.  So with many a fun activities ready to go such as these Little People Flipbook The kids love these! They will spend anywhere from 15-30 minutes flipping through them and imitating the voices of the different pictures. While Madeline is not picture reading yet, she will “picture” read to Milo. Aside from books, I will hand back one little toy at a time for them to play with and when they seem to get restless and are done with it we switch or move onto another little toy. Madeline loves these Disney Princess Little Kingdom Magiclip 7-Doll Giftset. She likes mixing and matching the different little outfits. Between toys, games and books, we pulled out little snacks here and there.
  3. Resist the Electronics for as LONG as possible!
    1. We quickly learned that the second we pulled out an iPad or iphone that they were quickly eager to use them and NOTHING but them!  So my advice, wait to pull them out as long as possible.  We did not have a Charger Adapter and Chargeport for the ipad at the time, so when the battery was gone, it was gone for the rest of the ride, so we prioritized only pulling out the screens once it got dark!  It is hard for the little’s to entertain themselves when they can’t see anything!  So then we put on a movie for them.
  4.  Greet groans with positive vibes
    1. We hadn’t even left the city yet when Madeline says to Matt, “Are we in California yet??”  So cute and really quite funny in that moment.  We forgot how much our sweet little toddler has to learn about the geography of the U.S. so we just laughed. My mom got her this fun puzzle to learn her states and see the different places we have visited and lived. Anyway, we just laughed and explained how far we were and reminded her of all the fun places we were going along the way.
  5. Download a selection of movies
    1. We use Amazon Prime for our movies,  but we only got around to downloading 4 movies pretty much the night before traveling and… I ultimately would have loved a little more variety for mostly my own sanity.  We did cover about 50 hours of driving time.
  6. Invest in a lap desk for the kids
    1. Encourage a little independence for the kids!  I would have loved to have invest in something like this Lap Desk for the kids so I was not twisting awkwardly back to help pick up whatever they dropped or what they want again and again. Don’t get me wrong, stuff will still find its way to the floor but I know that the kids would have loved their own little “stations” to help themselves to snacks or whatever they are wanting. Also, when it comes to reading books and coloring, they really needed something to lean their stuff up on so it didn’t slide off their laps as easily.

Goodbye North Carolina!

For 2 short years we lived in North Carolina and it is time to say goodbye!  My husband finished his MBA and we are moving to California!  The best part?  We are driving there and are sharing our adventures along the way.  We will be squeezing the four of us, luggage and supplies for the next 3 months, equipment etc into our small economy car… so we ended up getting this awesome Yakima CargoPack Cargo Bag to take everything we needed!

I will always be fond of the time we got to spend there and how many wonderful memories we made with our friends there and with family who came out to visit and the adventures we shared.

Whether you are living in North Carolina, in the Triangle area, or coming for a visit, here are the things I loved and you just may as well too!

North Carolina: Triangle Bucket List

  1. Asheville
  2. The Biltmore
    1. This place was a dream to visit!  We went in the fall, which I recommend!  And visited the Biltmore house, which is the biggest house in America… Mansion, that is.  It always kills me not getting to take pictures inside the beautiful tours we get to go on at places like this but I guess that keeps the mystery alive, so you will just have to go check it out for yourself!  And if you haven’t check it out, Serafina and the Black Cloak is a new book out that takes place at the Biltmore house. It was beautiful with all the fall color! I was in picture heaven taking pictures as fast I could with each stop with the short time we had.  The place we stayed (a house we all rented) had a neighbor with chickens we were invited to feed and the kids thought that was fun.  Everywhere we drove  was a beautiful sight, a painting waiting to be painted.  Matt and his sister went zip-lining through the trees, and the rest of  our crew went downtown in Asheville to enjoy a wonderful lunch at a quint little cafe called the Creperie Bouchon.  Then we walked around a bit exploring some of the little shops (which truthfully was a not a kid friendly activity, but nice to window shop for a bit) And we came across this building with a village of mini doors on the side where the “fairies” live.  The kids thought that was the best.
  3. The Museum of Life and Science
    1. We loved loved this museum!  My mother in law was kind to gift us a yearly pass so we went often!  The kids would beg to go here often and especially for those colder winter days, it was the perfect place to get their wiggles out.  They have a butterfly house, a train, some smaller animals, a huge playground area outside, science themed experiments inside, giant foam block fort building, a ball zone for the smaller children, imaginative play areas, blocks and puzzles , a mini space craft… and so many more cool things.  I go to  photograph a wedding here too,which was fun and unique for me and we even got to attend a winter ball “Prom” there for my husbands school.  I also loved to explore the kids shop there with so many fun toys and games for Madeline and Milo.  One of my favorite purchases there were these snowballs for indoor.  So fun!
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  4. Duke Basketball
    1. We had the opportunity to go to two games while we were here in Durham at the Cameron Indoor Stadium and it was such an experience!  We got to go to the award ceremony for Coach K’s 1000th win and that was both inspiring and wonderful to see.  I just learned that he has been coaching the Olympic basketball team for the last 20 years.  When we were there I also had a special experience getting to do a “backstage” behind the scenes tours or the offices, work out rooms etc of the team.  My biggest surprise, the locker rooms were fancy schmancy!  And another cool fact was the room the team gets pupped up in before each game, with black lights and such before they make their grand exit. Anyway, I cannot share any of my pictures of that but it was a cool experience! We took Madeline and Milo to one of the games and held them for most of the game.  I wasn’t sure how much they loved it… cuz lets be honest, kids only hold so much attention for a prolonged period of any event or activity… anyway , I dropped Matt off another time to a game and Madeline cried and cried that she didn’t get to go to the basketball game.  It is hard to not get to do what you want all the time as a kid.
  5. Walking the Eno River
    1. The forests all over North Carolina are just beautiful.  We had fun exploring.  Matt and I were use to having some kind of elevation to climb up to actually get a work out in, so when we went out prepared to go on a “hike” we thought we might actually get a heavy work out of sorts.  It was so humid there that after a few minutes of this nature walk, stepping over the occasional root, we well, got sweaty… covered in humidity is more like it!  But hey, at least you feel like you are getting a work out in.  There were actually a lot of fun trails to go running on, such as the Washing Duke Trail, which is a gorgeous setting in the fall.  Anyway, a fairytale setting.  When we were at the Eno River we saw a turtle.  And when it rained every once in a while with a torrential downpour, toads would greet us at our doorstep. Same with lizards and tree frogs… and a lot of spiders .  One thing I always wanted to do but never got around to it is having a lazy day and just float around on the river there with tubes.  It was so peaceful. Those HOT summer days in North Carolina can get sticky and uncomfortable, so that is a great way to kick the heat.
  6. Chicken and Waffles
    1. Have you ever had these? I thought that sounded like such a funny combination.  But every once in a while when you do allow a bit of gluteny, this is worthwhile.  We went twice while there to the famous Dame’s Chicken and Waffles. Basically they have a variety of amazing syrups and smears to go with their tender moist fried chicken and delectable waffles.  I also tried grits for the first time.  I think the best grits I have ever had while in NC, is at Watts Grocery which was a favorite girls day out brunch spot.  We also loved the Parlour, located in downtown Durham.  It is a wonderful ice cream stop and delicious.  They catered to my last event I captured with their cute ice cream truck and it was a sweet way to say goodbye to the wonderful cuisine of the Triangle area
  7. Sarah P. Duke Gardens
    1. This garden was a treasure to visit and I was fortunate to capture many family and couple photographs and a wedding there.  Our family enjoyed many peaceful walks and picnics here.  Getting out into nature in general is food for the soul.  I so enjoy walking a beautiful garden and seeing the different items in bloom.  I also enjoyed exploring the JC Raulston Arboretum near the NC State Fair Grounds. Whenever we go out on a nature visit or just to the park for playdate at places such as these, I have loved using a Outdoor Water-Resistant Sandproof Camping Picnic Blanket Beach Mat it doesn’t pick up mud and dirt and I don’t bring the mess with me. It is also lightweight!

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  1. Strawberry Picking
    1. I had never gotten to do this before until moving to North Carolina and it was such fun! We went a few times and the last year we were there we went with all the family that came out for my husbands graduation.  It made for a fun outing.  Afterward we made a LOT of jam together in the kitchen and that made for some fun bonding time. Madeline and Milo enjoyed running up and down the isles at the Strawberry farms and helping collect the good ones.  They have an assortment of cute baskets there but I did bring this cute one along Two farms we loved were Waller Farm and Jean’s Berry Patch.
  1. The DPAC
    1.  We enjoyed two shows at the DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) while there.  Wicked and Phantom of the Opera . They were wonderfully done and a fun date night out. I always love listening to the romantic music of The Phantom Of The Opera.
  2. Historic Yates Mill
    1. This was just an all over lovely place to visit.  The mill was interesting to learn about, but I loved the way the waterfall spilled over and the afternoon light reflected off the mist coming off of it, so I came back again and again for pictures for engagements and family photography sessions.  We even did a costume photo shoot here and Madeline was dressed as a witch. One thing that I really learned to quickly be cognizant of is the the bugs come out in the NC humidity! They always eat me alive, so I usually just keep some bug spray in the car ready to go!
  3. Bennett Place
    1. The kids and I were out and really I just saw one of those road signs pointing the way to a historic site (have you ever just followed one of those out of curiosity?) And we checked out Bennett Place! It is the place of the largest surrender of the Civil war.  While that is a very deep topic, the kids and I just toured the grounds a little and peeked in the houses talking about the way people use to live in those days.  As for the war part, they can learn about that when they are a bit older.
  4. The Outer Banks
    1. We got to visit the Outer Banks 3 times while we were on the east coast and I loved it.  I think the most fun we had with actually swimming on the beach was at the end of the summer once the kids had gone back to school and we didn’t fall into that category  yet so it was cheaper to rent a house with my family and we just had a blast! The other two times we went at the beginning of May and it was still a bit chilly since the season hadn’t started but still pleasant.  The little ones really just love the giant sand box that is the beach anyway.  I dressed the kids up in some adorable nautical children’s clothing and we did a photoshoot out by the Bodie Island Lighthouse there in Kill Devil Hills (which gets its name from the heavy wind (which could kill a Devil).  You can read more about our adventures from our first year trip to the Outer Banks here. We also loved going to see the Wright Brothers Memorial and Museum there.
  1. The NC State Fair
    1. It had been quite some time since I had gone to a fair before and let me tell you… this is the largest State Fair in the US.  It is crazy!  I went the first weekend for a carnival themed photo shoot  and not only was it crazy packed but never ending!  I think I counted 6 carousels, 6 merry go rounds etc.  I honestly started to feel a but claustrophobic… when it was time to leave and I was trying to find the exit and it felt like being stuck in Alice and Wonderland or something.  Just going and going.  So if you go with kids, be sure to go on a weekday, in the morning.   They have a petting zoo, rides and such of course, a bazaar, and all the contest areas, like the best carved pumpkins, fairy houses etc.  How fun is that!  I love that community part of state fairs.  So Americana.  A favorite movie of mine is the 1945 version of the State Fair.  The kids loved it of course.  They would love it even more now since they are a little older and less frightened of all the crazy noises and such.  When we were at the fair there was plenty of greasy food galore.  When we were there with family I laughed with my mother in law, “I can feel myself breaking out” as we walked through the food isles.  But if you are in the south and haven’t tried it before, allow yourself to try at least one Hush puppy!  Why they are called Hush Puppies?  Apparently, they use to feed them to the dogs to keep them quite during hunting… “hush puppy”!  Why that should make you excited to eat them… they are not just for dogs! lol… but seriously amazing though!

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  1. The Scrap Exchange
    1. This is a environmentally conscious craft recycling center I visited in Durham and it was a crafters/ artists dream of a place to visit.  I went with a group of friends the first time, as part of girls day out just for fun and we explored it.  And you find things for super cheap.  It was the perfect place to go to create the pinterest project you have been wanting to create or something completely fresh of your own invention.  If I were a mom helping with a play at my child’s school creating set pieces on  budget, or making the unique science project or art piece, this is a fun place to go collect the supplies.  It didn’t really have a plan for anything specific until I walked in and my creative wheels started to spin!  This is where I found a cement tube and scrap foam for these cute Toadstools I made.  They had oodles of things like buttons and soda pop bottle lids (that you might want to make cute magnets with), a found some old book binders and board game parts that I got for practically pennies which me and the kids are making our out version of a board game and quiet books for fun.
  2. The Kids Exchange
    1.  This GIANT consignment sale out at the State Fair Grounds was a hoot to go to!  We found tons of fun new toys and cheap clothes for the kids and it was a big sale that was fun to explore.  I went with my mom when she was in town and we had such a blast.  It was like Christmas for the kids. One toy we bought that we love is this Little People Carnival Set and this Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway which Milo loves as it is the perfect height for him to play with.

When we moved there, I did not have family nearby.  But it worked out just fine as I quickly found that everyone else was in a similar boat, many other small families, doing school, or recently out of school, not a big budget to spend on activities etc.  Here is what I recommend doing if you are moving to a new place away from friends and family.

  1. Don’t wait to make friends! 
    1. We made friends quickly through church and through my husbands school and playgroups. But if you do not have these social settings, then seek them out or look for settings such as the library.  There are many fun groups where you can start there.  We went to several “music classes” made just for toddlers to do little dancing and get some wiggles out.  This is one of many ways to be able to have the much needed social interaction with other moms!  And if you are shy, step out of your shell!  Say hello and strike up a conversation. Chances are, chatting it up with another mom may make her day as she may just as well be in a similar situation!
  2. Get involved
    1. While my husband went to school, it was wonderful the activities they had for the “partners” or non-students to be involved in.  One of the moms leaving that year when her husband graduated suggested I helped on the committee for planning the family activities at the school.  They had seasonal parties and weekly get together.  I accepted and myself and another mom helped make all these events fun! We put together a carnival party, a Halloween party, a Christmas party and a Valentines party as well as planned play-dates etc for the moms/ dads.  I got to know the other moms and my kids could play with their kids much more then we might of otherwise!
  3. Get out and explore!
    1. As a wedding and portrait photographer, spending years building a clientele and then having to move away from that was hard!  So when we first moved to NC, I was a bit tired and put out by the idea from starting from scratch, but soon I got out with the kids and we went ‘location scouting‘ and went on family outings and quickly fell in love with all that this beautiful state had to offer!  And soon enough I couldn’t wait to find and photograph some new clients!  We went and toured historic places, beautiful gardens and found fun new playgrounds, museums and the zoo!
  4. Plan get together’s
    1. If you are not finding the fun,  create the fun. Be the one to make the plans and make friends that way!  We had a playgroup rotation playgroup at our church, taking turns hosting, so I hosted!  Arranging a regular playdate on a set day of the week, such as at different parks or moms homes was such a blessing to my kids!  It is something they eagerly look forward to each week and in regularly seeing the same children, they are able to work on building relationships and socializing at that young age.
  5. Throw yourself into your surroundings
    1.  I already talked a bit about getting out with the kids but this is all about simply looking at what your community has to offer and taking advantage of it.  So maybe that is nature based, or maybe there are great farmers markets you could go explore.  And if there is not that fun something you are looking for, than perhaps you can be the one to start it!  One summer I did a fun “art in the park” for local community children.  This was before kids, but if I were to do that now, I am sure they would love it just as much.  Maybe there are beautiful trials in your area, so you could start a walking group and go walking together with the kids on a regular basis.

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Things to do in North Carolina