June 20, 2017

Happy Birthday Eric Carle! Celebrate with PercyVites!

Happy Summer vacation!
School let out this week and I'm already in love with beach days, trips to get ice cream, and later bedtimes. Losing the rigorous schedule of school, homework, and after school activities like speech, dance, and grading work is always a welcome respite (but to be honest, I end up missing it quickly! What can I say - I love structure!). As an English Language Arts teacher though, I never give up reading.  My kids do it for fun (gasp! right?!) because it's just so important to me.

One of our favorite authors is Eric Carle and his birthday is this weekend, June 25th! In an effort to make reading a fun past time, we decided to host an Eric Carle birthday party and invite over some of our best friends to celebrate with us!

I've written about Percyvites before so I went right back to them for this as well!

PercyVites makes it easy to organize online invitations to send to your friends and their Eric Carle collection was just what we needed!

They are super easy to create, filling in pieces step by step with the party information and recipients. PercyVites even helps you keep track of responses!

We've got a bunch of friends who will be joining us and we even made some delicious Eric Carle inspired desserts for the occasion- seriously, what's a birthday party without cake?!

We also grabbed some easy decorations from Cakes.com - the Eric Carle / Hungry Caterpillar decopac was perfect to top our cupcakes!

And as if that's not enough, we're planning a trip to the Eric Carle Museum this summer! I love a good adventure and anything that ties literacy into fun is perfect for us!

I'm so excited to celebrate this weekend-- how will you be celebrating Eric Carles birthday?

xo, Heather

June 12, 2017

Cheers to the Summer: Teacher Gift

The school year is winding down and I always find myself wondering what to get the teachers.
As a teacher there are some things that I know I'd love to get: gift cards to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, gift cards to Amazon, or a gift card to a book store... but I also hate giving gift cards because they're so impersonal.

I prefer doing something a bit more memorable.

How cute, right? And who doesn't love the tongue in cheek comment about the year being over!

I used plastic mason jar tumblers (similar found at these affiliate links: single, 3 pack, or a 4 pack) and some ribbon we had in our craft corner. Then grabbed some individual Crystal Light packets (buy them from Amazon through this affiliate link here) and split them between the containers.

I've even added the printable below so all you have to do is download it, and when you go to print, set it to 4x6 size on some heavy cardstock! Have your kid sign their name and it's ready to go!

Who will you be gifting them to this year?

xo, Heather

June 9, 2017

Peanut Butter Cup No Bake Cheesecake

David's birthday always comes right after Tyler's and after Tyler's birthday doughnuts, his birthday cake, and then his birthday party cake... we were caked out.

David is a huge fan of peanut butter cups so I grabbed whatever ingredients I had and ran to the store to grab the rest to surprise him with the most delicious and decadent cheesecake pie for his birthday!

It's super easy and took us only about 15 minutes to make. Another hour in the fridge and it was ready!

Store bought Oreo pie crust
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces whipped topping (I used Low Fat Cool Whip, but making your own is delicious too!)
3 cups peanut butter cups chopped, divided
1/2 cup Hot fudge

1. Cream cream cheese and sugar together. Add in peanut butter and vanilla and beat until well mixed.
2. Fold in Cool Whip until all mixed.
3. Unwrap and chop all 3 cups of peanut butter cups. Fold in 2 cups to the mixture.
4. Spread into pie crust.
5. Top with remaining chopped peanut butter cups.
6. Drizzle hot fudge over the top and place in fridge until set.

It was so delicious and David loved it!
So what are you going to make it for?

xo, Heather

May 15, 2017

Easy and Delicious Macarons

If I had to pick one food that represents the relationship I have with my daughter, it's a macaron.  She loves them and honestly, because she loves them so much, I always think of her when I see them.

Her obsession started a year and a half ago when we went to New York City in December and she fell in love with the American Girl Doll of the Year, Grace.  Grace is a baker who goes to Paris and makes macarons. Cue Emmalee being obsessed with all things Paris and macarons, Whenever we see them see asks for some...

Her birthday is coming up next month and she's asked for a tea party, complete with macarons for all her guests.  Have you ever priced out macarons? Those little things run anywhere for $2-$3 a piece. Multiply that by her entire class and their parents, plus our family members, and that's just not happening. I figured I'd give it a try and see if I could make them myself.

Honestly, I was petrified. These have a reputation of being super difficult.

I scoured the internet trying to find a recipe that looked delicious but doable and finally settled on this one from Mom Dish. I had already separated 3 egg whites and all the other recipes called for 2 so it was an easy decision.  I also loved that this one didn't tell me to count strokes or how quickly the batter resettled into itself...

To prep my cookie sheets, I used these amazing silicone baking mats I bought last year. I swear, the macarons came right off thanks to them.  (Amazon has a ton of other ones, including macaron size guide ones!)

I followed the recipe almost exactly, but added in a splash of raspberry extract before adding the dry ingredients. I decided to cook them in small batches, just in case. The most important step is letting them crust over on the counter before cooking.  The recipe said 20 minutes; I waited 30. The recipe said to cook for 13 to 20 minutes, mine took 22. They were a "constantly check" and then excitement when they'd come out right.

For our middles, we simply added some lemon extract to an easy buttercream recipe.

Emmalee was super excited to see the final product and spent the night coming up with flavor combinations and colors that she wants at her party! While I'm excited to make them for her party, I was more excited tonight to enjoy one (or three) as a small gift to myself this Mother's Day.

What flavor combination should we try next?

xo, Heather

May 12, 2017

Go on a Disney World Vacation for Free! (How I Save So Much Money)

Disclaimer: Many of the links in this post are referral links, meaning I may receive a bonus from these apps if you decide to join. However, I really do love and use the sites and want to share!

Okay, so maybe not for free but I've paid off a bunch of our upcoming trip already without spending any money from my bank account!

Free, Disney World, Disney Land, trip,

So how do I do it?

I use gift cards that I earn for free.  Now hear me out, this is not the "take 17 surveys a day" thing. I use 5 major apps that help me out, both when I shop online and in store.

Online Shopping:

SwagbucksHoney and Ebates.

Swagbucks helps me before I shop. It's a simple chrome extension that creates a little blue button. When you click on that button it opens up a search bar.  If you search from there, instead of Google, you can get points just for that! Swagbucks also has a shopping option and if you click through to the featured sites you can get anywhere from 1-20% of your purchase back in Swagbucks! As you accumulate Swagbucks, you can redeem them for gift cards to lots of places, including Starbucks, Amazon, and Target! Even if you're not a big online shopper, you can link your card and gain points while you're out and about!

Honey is the other program I LOVE for online shopping. While Swagbucks works at the beginning, Honey works at the beginning or the end. Again, it is a chrome extension, that creates a little button (see that grey H next to the swagbucks button?) for you to click on when you are shopping. You can start with Honey, and click through to stores to activate a honey cash bonus, or you can wait for check out and honey will ask if you want it to search for online codes to apply to your order! You get a percentage back as Honey Gold. Honey allows you to redeem your Honey Gold for Amazon gift cards (paypal is coming!) at a minimum of a $10 card. This morning, I cashed out for $30 worth of Amazon gift cards!

Ebates is a bit different because rather than accumulating points to cash out for gift cards, you get a percentage of your money back when you shop through the site! Like The others, you can begin by searching for a particular website through the Ebates page and find lots of great discounts, plus you'll see the cash back percentage. Shop as usual. If you accumulate more than $5.01 over a predetermined 3 month period Ebates cuts you a "big fat check" (or send it through paypal).

All of these applications are FREE and give you FREE MONEY! Amazing!

Now for when I go brick and mortar store shopping:

Shopkick and Ibotta

Shopkick is a mobile app that gives you points just for walking into particular stores! I especially love this at the mall because I can get a few hundred points just by walking the mall once! If the walk-in points aren't enough, they offer points for scanning particular items in the store and then even more points if you purchased certain products! Target is a favorite for us for scanning, since we're already walking around the whole store anyways!

Once you reach a certain amount of points, you can redeem them for gift cards! The gift cards include TJ Maxx, Starbucks, Game Stop, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, and Target! Again, free money for very little "work".

Ibotta is actually a program David got me hooked on. It works a lot like Walmart's Savings Catcher but for LOTS of stores. Before shopping, open the app and check for any available rebates, then shop as you normally would. You scan the barcodes of the products that had rebates and then snap a picture of your receipt! Ibotta deposits a bit of money back on to your account and as long as you have at least $20 in your account, you can cash it out to Paypal, Venmo, or a gift card! I love that Ibotta allows you to link up your loyalty cards as well!

So that's the secret! 

This morning I was able to withdraw $150 worth of Target gift cards that I then used to purchase Disney Gift Cards that I then applied to the balance of my Disney trip through the My Disney Experience site! That isn't even including the Honey Cash that became Amazon money! Amazon doesn't carry Target or Disney Gift cards but they have Starbucks (can be used inside the Disney Parks), T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe gift cards (both at Disney Springs), and great Disney merchandise to bring with us!

It might not be a free vacation but we usually plan our Disney vacations at least a year in advance so it's a great way to start saving up without ever taking any money out of your bank account!

What are your go to websites for saving money?

xo, Heather

April 20, 2017

Parsons Daffodil Fields, Dartmouth MA

I love school vacation weeks. Now, don't get me wrong-- I adore my job and my students but I also love time with my kids where we are not running from one thing to another, or grocery shopping, or doing chores that didn't get done all week... The week off gives us time to get everything done and relax together.

One place I've always wanted to check out but have never had the time is the Dartmouth Natural Resource Trust: Parson's Daffodil Fields.

It's literally a field full of daffodils, with paths cut between them all for great views. (Be sure to wear good shoes because the path is made of wood chips). I've always seen photos from others but Emma and I decided to adventure there ourselves.

Emmalee asked if she could take some photos and posed herself- I couldn't resist the adorableness!

There are a few rules (below) to keep it beautiful, but there was nothing that wasn't easy to do! Stay on the pathways and don't pick the flowers! There is a $2 expected donation for visiting to help with upkeep. The daffodil fields are about 1/4 of a mile away from the entrance so it's a nice little walk.

If you decide you want a longer walk, there is a long walk past the daffodil fields, marked with a blue marker. Lots of the walk are these great wooden walkways, but as you can see, a lot of the pathway is also rocky and uneven.

Emmalee and I spent an hour or so walking around looking at the daffodils and and the running water on the blue path; it was such a gorgeous walk!

Russell Mills Landing is across the street from the entrance so we stopped at the playground for a bit as well.  It's a simple park but has a tennis court, a couple of slides, and both kid and toddler swings.  Add in the picnic tables and the views of the river and it's a great place to spend some time with your kids!

Be sure to hurry soon though-- the daffodils only last until early May!

xo, Heather

April 18, 2017

A Night Out At Foxwoods Resort Casino with Cirque Eloize

What a weekend! Yesterday was a State Holiday and with Good Friday and Easter, it ended up being a very fun 4 day weekend! We spent Saturday night with friends at Foxwoods Resort Casino, checking out another Cirque Eloize Show at the Fox Theater. Last year, we saw their show Saloon, and loved it so we were excited to see this show, Cirkopolis.

According to the websiteWith Cirkopolis, Cirque √Čloize takes their breathtaking blend of circus arts, theatre and dance to a highly-stylized metropolis setting where multidisciplinary artists rebel against monotony, reinvent themselves, and challenge the limits of the factory-city as only they can. Performing within an inventive stage design and accompanied by an original musical score and video projections, they live in a world where fantasy defies reality—the veil of anonymity and solitude is lifted and replaced by bursts of humour and colour. Cirkopolis transforms the classic film Metropolis into a virtuosic circus spectacle for the whole family. 

It's such an existentialist piece, starting with a fully industrialized set, and slowly adds in pops of color until the end of the show.  I was enthralled the whole time.
Check out this short video to see some of the amazingness that you'll see!

I absolutely love the Chinese Pole and was so excited when I saw it come out, but fell in love with the German Wheel this time! I had never seen that before!  The two friends we went with had never been to a Cirque Eloize show before so I loved listening to their gasps and the muttered "oh my gosh" as the performers flew through the air or dropped towards the ground. The sheer strength of the performers is awe-inspiring.

It was so nice to spend the night out with friends at such an amazing show! I'm so thankful that Foxwoods Resort Casino invited us and I can't wait to see what Cirque Eloize comes up with next!

A post shared by Heather (@heathgiff) on

Have you ever seen a Cirque Eloize show?

xo, Heather

April 13, 2017

I unfollowed you on social media, but I'm the problem, not you.

Have you ever heard Roosevelt's famous quote: Comparison is the thief of joy?

It's one of those things I heard years ago and it's always stayed in the back of my mind.  When I compare my life to other things, I try and compare it to where we were 6 years ago.  If you need a reminder, we were living in a 2 bedroom apartment in New Bedford, receiving food stamps and on MassHealth. We've worked so hard to get to where we are.

I am so proud of how far we've come but sometimes I find myself still comparing my life to what I see on social media... Two or three time a year trips to Disney, bigger houses, newer cars... it's hard to not be envious at times, but then I remind myself that the only person I want to compare myself to... is myself. 

But for some reason, there is one particular person that I can not stop comparing myself to. Our lives are completely different, and not necessarily even where I would want my life to end up, but for some reason, I'm always checking that one particular person's social media.

Some days I admire the clothing and poses of the children, wondering why my kids won't sit for such a great picture. Some days I'm jealous of the fact that they are home all day, even if the kids are not home with them. Some days, I am downright mean in my mind, scoffing at decisions that were made or judging what they post. I don't like the more judgmental thoughts- they're mean, and never in my life have I set out to be mean. So I unfollowed that person.

I didn't do it because of you, I did it because of me.  Because I am so in love with my own life that I can't keep looking at someone else's. That I can't keep measuring myself against a ruler I don't actually want.

I need to be selfish and continue to work on my self love, so while I'll be cheering on your life successes from the sidelines, I don't want to see them on every social media platform. We're in such different parts of our lives and I don't think those paths will ever be the same, so for me, I need to focus on my behind the scenes- rather than on your highlight reel.

So, like I said... I'm the problem, not you. And right now, I need to work on me and loving my own life.

xo, Heather

April 12, 2017

Easy Spring Krispie Rice Treats

Easter is this weekend! I honestly love that Easter falls on this weekend because it kicks off our school vacation week.  As much as I love teaching, there's nothing better than spending the week on the beach with my own family.  We'll spend Easter Sunday at my grandmother's before we head down the Cape for a few days.

Holidays with my family are always a big deal. Just on my mom's side, I have 2 aunts and 2 uncles and am one of 20+ grandkids. It's always a very large gathering, plus then we add in my sibling's friends from college who can't get home from the weekend and it's a great day with lots of conversation and food.

Because there are so many of us, we divide and conquer with the food. We each bring a few plates and then everyone helps themselves. My mom makes a delish baked ham, and my grandma is infamous for her amazing deviled eggs, so we usually end up covering the sweet tooth, while others fill in with more apps and sides.

This year, Emmalee asked for her favorite Krispie Rice treats. Done. They are easy, super delicious, and only take a few ingredients. To dress them up for the holiday, we decided to change them up a bit. Instead of making thick bars, we used a cookie sheet and spread the treats relatively thin.

After they firmed a bit, I used holiday themed - Easter Egg - cookie cutters to create festive shapes and then popped them back in the fridge to firm up more.

While they're firming, I melted Wilton Candy Melts, grabbed all of our sprinkles, and set up on the kitchen table. Emma was thrilled to see the "chef decorator" set up! When the Krispie Rice Treats were firm, we got to work!

After each was decorated, we put it back on the tray and into the fridge they went to harden the chocolate.

I love that this is a really easy and safe recipe for my 5 year old, provided I handle the hot butter and marshmallows.  She can push the treats into the tray, use the cookie cutters, and decorate them on her own!

They ended up being such a delicious and adorable treat that is easy to pack and also easy to eat!
Unfortunately, they didn't last more than 3 days (which is completely our fault because they are delicious!!) so it looks like we'll be making more this weekend before heading to grandmas!

How perfect would these be for all the other holidays as well?

xo, Heather

March 14, 2017

Feeling Cozy on a Snow Day Thanks to Honeywell!

I can't believe that it's March and we're still getting hit with snow!
For the record, I strongly dislike snow, possibly even bordering on hate. I have imagined living somewhere South, like North Carolina, soaking up the 60* "winters". I wouldn't even complain during the 100+ degree days. I love them!
It's not just the snow though. It's the wet socks and pants, the 42 layers of clothes you have to wear, and the cold.  It's just so cold. Thankfully our house is new construction and relatively small so heating isn't much of an issue but I'm cheap and I don't want to turn it past 65*.

The only issue we run into is downstairs in the playroom.  It can get chilly but with a little help from a Honeywell 360* Surround Heater, it provides cozy, safe play for the kids.

Keeping Cozy in the Playroom

The idea of a space heater near my children was a bit nerve wracking at first, until I learn about the special safety features of the Honeywell 360* Surround Heater. This heater has a 360° SafetyTip™ switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if tipped over in any direction, overheat protection, caution lights to alert users when a heater is turned on, and a cool-touch housing and handle. I don't have to worry about them accidentally bumping and burning themselves or it creating a fire if it gets knocked over.

At less than $50, this would be a perfect heater for under the desk to keep your piggy toes warm, or to keep near the sofa as you curl up with a good book...

How cute are they in their kitchen? Not much says 'cozy' like some fake chocolate chip cookies and a personal heater.

xo, Heather

March 6, 2017

Ready for the NEW Live Action Beauty and Beast with Great Pretenders!

The new Live Action Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson  is coming out next week!
I will admit, I was a bit apprehensive about it.  I am a die hard Disney fan and you just don't mess with the classics... However, since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie of all time (seriously, she loves books and finds the good in people... it's like me, but skinnier and prettier...) I will be giving it a chance! I already pre-ordered tickets to see it so I'm excited!

Emmalee is obviously going to be my date. Since seeing the trailer, Emmalee has been obsessed! I mean, she loved the original one so I'm not surprised she loves this one too and if you know anything about Emmalee, it's that she gets really into whatever she is excited about.

She asked if we could buy a special Belle costume to wear to the new movie and I happily obliged.  I was lucky enough to connect with Great Pretenders last year at Toy Fair and remembered the gorgeous dresses they had set up.  I know Great Pretenders offers amazing quality since the cheerleader outfit they sent us is still one of Emma's favorite dress up outfits!

When our dress arrived, Emma insisted on putting it on immediately, of course. Then she asked if we could go to the "Belle Library".  She's called it this since we moved here, as she's convinced it's the Beast's castle, and I can't really argue with her logic.

It really does look like a castle you'd expect to see Belle in so when my little Belle was walking around, I couldn't resist a few shots...

Find her little plush Belle here on Amazon!

You can purchase the dress from Great Pretenders here.  It's only $30 and if you use code 15FORSPRING, you can save 15% on your order! I seriously considered grabbing the matching doll dress for only $20!

But, let's be honest, I want to buy everything Beauty and the Beast right now...

A few other things I want to buy include the Motion Picture Soundtrack and this gorgeous print.

There's a TON of new Live Action items out including a Baby Belle Doll, a Belle Funko Pop figure and Mystery Minis, the newly designed Mrs Potts and Chip Tea set, The Enchanted Rose Jewelry Box, and Belle and Beast Dolls.

But maybe you love the original more? I'm loving these toys that stay true to the original version as well, like This Little Golden Book, A Dress Up Wooden Doll Set from Melissa and Doug, my favorite Figure playset from Disney, or the adorable Little People Belle and Beast set!

Seriously, I dare you to buy any of those items and not get more excited about the film! I can already promise you that Emmalee will be in the theater in her gorgeous Belle inspired dress from the Great Pretenders, watching the movie the weekend it comes out!

Will you be seeing the new Live Action version of Beauty and the Beast?

xo,  Heather

February 19, 2017

It's Spring in February!

It's currently 50* outside and it's not exactly normal for February in Massachusetts.  It's got me thinking about all the things I want to do to our yard as it gets warmer...

Let's be honest, this is the dream... but we need a new house for this...

1. Clear out some of our woods.
We are at the end of a dead end road and I'd love to clear out some of the brush to make more room. Part of me would like to put a pool on that side of the house and it would be the perfect space once it's cleared!

2. Redo and finish our fence.
Our builder kind of sucked. Instead of doing a great job with our fence, he put it overlapping our neighbors fence, a foot away and about 6" off the ground so it serves absolutely no purpose, except to cover up our neighbor's fence. I want to pull it down and ask our neighbor about just having the one fence between our houses. Then I'd like to wrap it the rest of the way so our backyard is fully enclosed for the kids.

3. Buy a new Swing Set
Our Little Tikes swing set was perfect for two little ones but now that Emma is older and bigger, the small 2.5 foot slide isn't cutting it anymore.  I really want to get a big wooden swing set instead. I'm loving this one and this one, which would both be so affordable.

4. Raised planting beds.
Every year I say I want to do them but this year, I really do. Raised planting beds with things like tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, even strawberries... Maybe I just need to focus on it...

5. Build a low deck.  We currently have a high deck, but I'd love to build a secondary low deck to have more space to relax, especially for...

6. a Hot tub!
I really want one... ha. We have a pool that is waiting for the flat land but I really want to splurge on a hot tub. It most likely won't be this year but it's in my mind...

7. Plant more bushes.
The front of our house looks a little bare. We bought smaller shrubs and then planted perennials, but I think I want some bushes so it doesn't look completely bare when it's not flowering season...

Anyone else already dreaming about warmer weather?

xo, Heather

Florals for Spring

I love love LOVE florals. I've been wearing them throughout the Winter, but Spring is like the green light to go full out floral.
Here are a few pieces that I'm obsessed with right now...

I love that there are gorgeous one piece bathing suits, like this Mink Pink Strappy One Piece ($49.99),  the Senna Floral Lace Halter One Piece ($39.99), the Billabong One Piece  for $85 or the Black Floral Tankini (Top Only - $39.99), that I could mix with any black bottom.

Bedtime calls for this super soft Gillian O'Malley Pajama Set, only $19.99.

Work appropriate clothes call for a Pleated Skirt ($22.90) or this gorgeous Floral Crochet-Back Cardigan, only $21.99.

If you're going out, you can still incorporate florals with this super fun Wrap Front Romper ($39.95) or look fancy in a Floral Lace Body Con 2 piece Dress ($46.99).

Not everyone is confident enough to pull off full out florals, but this gorgeous Royal Garden Purse ($39) from Charming Charlie's is a perfect pop of flower without being too much!

I can't wait until the flowers start popping up out of the ground, but until then, I'll be fancy and floral over here!

xo, Heather

February 3, 2017

Big Game Snacks Thanks to Willow Tree Chicken Salad!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Willow Tree, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Willow Tree Chicken Dips make the perfect game day app for cheering on your favorite team (Go Pats!) and are so delicious! At this point in the season, every game is a must win so we threw a little party during last weekend's playoff game to cheer on our boys in red, white, and blue!

David is obsessed with Willow Tree Chicken salad, especially the Buffalo Chicken salad Dip.  Amazing served warm or cold, I thought I'd mix it up a bit for him! I bought a cheap package of egg roll wraps and made him delicious Willow Tree Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls. They were so easy! Simply drop a spoonful of the Buffalo Chicken Dip onto an egg roll wrapper, roll up, closing in the sides and sealing with water and then pan fry. 

David said they were delicious but he would have been just as happy eating it out of the container with some crackers!

Another great dip, that was new to us, was their Chicken Ceaser dip. The Chicken Caesar Dip combines premium all white meat chicken with the yummy flavors of Parmesan Caesar dressing and cream cheese. This is another one that is amazing served hot or cold.  I warmed it up and served it alongside some delicious whole grain crackers.

While everything was delicious, I have to admit, my soft spot is for their original Willow Tree Chicken Salad. I could literally eat it out of the container with a fork if that was allowed... but instead, I spread a nice helping onto some warm croissant slider rolls. Yum!

All of the Willow Tree Chicken Salad products are delicious (remember the Avocado Chicken Salad and the Sriracha Chicken Salad?) and make for easy entertaining snacks for the big game!

Willow Tree products are sold throughout the New England region at hundreds of supermarkets including Shaw’s, Market Basket, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Walmart, Roche Bros, Hannaford, Big Y and Trucchi’s, as well as at the company’s retail store at 997 South Main Street, Attleboro, MA 02703. You can locate your closest retailer here.

February 1, 2017

2017 Goals Check In: January

It's been a month!

Let's see how I'm doing on those goals:

1. Log 250 miles of walking/jogging/running on the treadmill or at events (5Ks, etc).

I'm currently at 4 miles, which is super pathetic but my basement is cold and I know I'll put in the most miles over the summer. I need to remember that it's not much, but it's a start!

2. Go out with my husband 1x a month.

We had a great little date at a restuarant called Bailey's in Wareham, MA. Delicious food and huge portions! Seriously, I ordered a lunch size portion of chicken marsala and I ate it that night and for lunch the next day, plus there was enough for David to make a full meal!

3. Read 26 new books.

I've already started this too! 
1. The Girl On The Train - buy it from Amazon here (aff).
2. Salt to the Sea - buy it from Amazon here (aff).

4. Post to my Blog Facebook at least 2x per week.
Ehhh.... I got close-- I really need to focus on this...

5. Participate in a Blog Round Up, once per month.

6. Write a blog post at least twice a week.
I have a total of 6 blog posts this month, which isn't exactly my goal but I have 4 more drafts saved and ready to go next month so I'm still calling it a win.

7. Create a true crafting area and a gym area in the basement.

Hooray! I am so excited about this one! We already had an electrician come and give us an estimate on adding a few electric outlets to power the treadmill, Cricut machine, and sewing machine so that will be coming along soon! We now have an exercise bike, a treadmill and a rowing machine so I'm excited to use them when the kids are in bed.

The crafting area is also coming along, adding in some new cabinets and sehlves, plus a few new work spaces.  I love that where it is, I can see the whole playroom so both the kids and I  can be working at the same time.

8. Keep my car clean and get it detailed at the beginning of the season.
The kids and I did our own clean out. I really just love when it looks nice! I'll be planning on a real detail come April!

9. Have less stuff.

We started the year donating an entire van worth of things were are not using. I pulled apart all of the kid's outgrown clothes and seperated them by gender and size so that we can attempt to sell them in a consignment sale.  There's so much that I don't want to just donate it all but a handful of clothing has already gone to Gifts to Give, some to Savers and the rest waiting to be tagged and sold. My hope is to go through one area of the house every month and continue to get rid of clutter.  I have no problem holding on to things, but clutter is different. 

10. Stop comparing myself to others.

This one is especially hard for me. There is so much pressure as a mom to "keep up with" the others. I'm really working on myself, physically and emotionally, and can already feel the differences but I have 11 more months to go.

January 31, 2017

New Hampshire Ice Castles

Disclaimer: My family was provided admission to facilitate this review, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

For the past two years, we've been saying we wanted to go check out the Ice Castle sin New Hampshire. Since a certain snow queen came to a Disney movie, both of my children have been obsessed with it, and these castles seemed like the perfect family trip for us!

Our schedules are crazy so when we realized we both had a Monday off together, we decided to capitalize on it! We woke up bright and early and made the 3 hour drive to Lincoln, New Hampshire. I love the scenery on the ride up; it's just gorgeous.

The Ice Castles themselves were very cool as we pulled in-- towering 10+ feet tall. Getting in was a breeze. Pre-purchased web tickets are timed in 30 minute increments and they scanned us right in. We did have to sign a waiver of liability before we could go in. Tickets are $18/$20 for adults and $12/$15 for kids (weekday/weekends).  You can enter at anytime during your 30 minute window but once you leave there is no re-entry.

I could have spent hours looking at the ice formations- each one was enthralling.  I really wish I knew how they were made and how long it takes to make them... the really is just awe-inspiring.

In addition to the icicles, they have a couple of ice slides and tunnels for the kids to crawl through.

A video posted by Heather (@heathgiff) on

The kids sized slide was perfect for the two little ones, but the larger slide was fun for all of us! The wait was not fun, it was almost 20 minutes of wiating, so we only went down once but the kids loved it!

When we finished hanging out, about an hour and a half, we grabbed some cocoa ($4) from a little cart near the entrance.

While the place was awe-inspiring and whimsical, I wish there was a place to sit to enjoy our cocoa, more to "do"- like a meet and greet etc, and a warm place to sit for a bit. It was chilly when we went and we needed someplace warm to take off the cold edge.

It's one of those really cool bucket list places to visit so if you're local to Lincoln, NH, you have to check it out! Don't forget: My readers get to save off admission! Use Code USFamily17 and Save 15% off admission on IceCastles.com


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