Category Archives: travel

Texas Bluebonnets

If you live in Texas, you know that when spring comes, so do bluebonnets. If you don’t live in Texas, you probably think Texans are crazy for plopping their kids in a big patch of blue flowers. Taking pictures in the Texas bluebonnets is definitely a tradition in my state, since it is the state flower of Texas! I have no idea if that is a “thing” anywhere else, but it is one of the many things I love about my state.

Logan, One Year Old - Dallas, TX Bluebonnets

Oh yeah… a lot of kids don’t really like being stuck in a field of flowers – for example, my nephew Logan! In this picture, he had just turned one and was not having it. At all. This was taken in Dallas in 2008.

2014 Bluebonnets - Fort Worth, TX

Fast forward a few years – 6, to be exact – and he only took the picture with me so I would shut up. There may or may not have been bribery involved. This was taken in 2014, on a very sunny day (obviously). 

Last Friday, I got a bee in my (blue)bonnet and decided that I needed to go see the flowers in the Texas Hill Country. I recruited my dad (it was not difficult) and we made a day of it! We started at 8:00 am and I got home around 8:30 pm. As you may know, I’m a planner. Big time. However, with just hours notice, there wasn’t much time to do any planning. I knew where the bluebonnets were, and that’s about it. I did have a little time to do some googling and realized that a BBQ place I’ve heard about was in the same city – so we decided that’s where we would eat lunch!  

In Texas, we have a show called Texas Country Reporter. I grew up watching this on weekends, because I feel like my dad wanted to BE the host, Bob Phillips. I also grew up taking lots of fairly impromptu road trips with my family – Dad has wanderlust just like I do. TCR is still on, but there is another show that I love even more, and it is called The Daytripper. It is on PBS, and it is one of my favorite shows on TV! Chet Garner is the host, and he is so goofy and funny – but also super smart and nice. He basically goes to one city per episode and explores it, talks to the locals, eats the food, acts a fool – you know, stuff I love. Last year, the day before we left on our Colorado vacation, Chet was speaking in Arlington – so my husband and I had to go! I had a killer migraine headache, nothing was packed for our 10 day vacation – but we were going to meet him no matter what. 

Kevin, Chet, and Heather - Daytripper - 2014

We did it.

Barbecue Map Central Texas - 2014

That atlas you see me holding is very special to us. Kevin and I dated long distance for four years before he moved to Fort Worth (he lived in Lubbock, TX), so when he would come visit for a long weekend we would take small trips instead of staying in Fort Worth. Austin was (and still is) our favorite. Back then, GPS didn’t really exist. We had a Texas atlas spiral bound, and we have marked it up so much. We both like to just drive and explore, so there are so many little notes in there from the past 19 years – it is one of my most treasured possessions! I took it with us to meet Chet, and asked him if he would sign it for us on the Austin page. He did, and he also wrote down and circled his favorite BBQ spots in the area for us. It was so awesome! Anyway, Opie’s in Spicewood was exactly where I was headed on our Texas bluebonnet adventure. 

Now, my dad HATES highway driving. HATES. I pretty much feel the same way, but you know, when you’re in a hurry they just make sense. We weren’t in a rush yesterday, so we drove through several small towns to get to our destination. If you are interested in how we got there, we took Highway 67 through Cleburne and Glen Rose, then 220 to Hico, then 281 through Hamilton, Lampasas, Burnet (small detour here*), Marble Falls, and finally Spicewood. Highway 281 is not a major highway – it is usually 2-4 lanes and goes through several small towns. It is a really pretty drive and I highly recommend it if you are going between Fort Worth and San Antonio – definitely my favorite way to go! There are wildflowers all along the highways and roads the whole way down there! All of the little towns have some cute shops and restaurants too. 

*In Burnet, we took Park Road 4 out to Inks Lake and came back through Kingsland to end up in Marble Falls. It was beautiful! A little out of the way, but nothing crazy. Maybe an extra 30 minutes – totally worth it. 

On our way down, we called some of our family friends that live in Austin to see if they wanted to meet us for BBQ and Texas bluebonnets. They happened to be free, so they made the hour drive and we had a great day! 

Opies BBQ - Spicewood, TX

Spicewood is a tiny, tiny town. Opie’s BBQ was CROWDED. We waited in line for about 15 minutes before getting inside – that is pretty normal/fast for Texas! 

Opie's Chalkboard Menu - Spicewood, TX

(Please excuse that dude’s head. He would not get out of the way, and I’m short – so there you go.) Their menu is hung right above the giant smoker. It smelled like heaven. We decided on brisket, baby back ribs, and sausage (with AND without jalapenos). For our sides, we got tater tot casserole and spicy corn. 

Opie's Smoker - Spicewood, TX

Look at all that meat. Don’t come here if you’re a vegetarian.

Opie's Lunch - Spicewood, TX

Between the 4 of us, we had a little bit of everything. Sharing is caring, guys. Also? EVERYTHING WAS SO GOOD. I dreamed about the tater tot casserole and the brisket last night. No lie. If you are ever in the vicinity of Spicewood, TX, this is a must stop. We even got to meet and talk to Opie. Nice guy!

Bluebonnet Central happened to be in Muleshoe Bend Recreational Area, right on the Colorado River, very close to Lake Travis, in Spicewood. Spicewood is about an hour from Austin, so it’s kind of “out there”, but as you are about to see – totally worth it. Unfortunately, bluebonnets don’t live for too long (maybe 6 weeks?) for the most part so you have a fairly short window for viewing. Some years are better than others for bluebonnets – this happened to be a very, very good year for the Muleshoe Bend area! 

Next up: Bluebonnets. Now, I was expecting it to be pretty, from the pictures I’d seen online – but this took my breath away. Fields and fields covered with bluebonnets. It was insane! Until yesterday, I didn’t know that bluebonnets had a smell. They do – when you’re surrounded by them, it smells a little like honeysuckle. I miss it already! Here come all the pictures 🙂

Muleshoe Bend - Spicewood, TX

 

Muleshoe Bend Bluebonnets - Spicewood, TX

Bluebonnets on the Colorado River - Spicewood, TX

Bluebonnets everywhere - Muleshoe Bend - Spicewood, TX

Bluebonnets - Muleshoe Bend - Spicewood, TX

Muleshoe Bend Bluebonnet Selfie - Spicewood, TX #bluebonnetselfie is much better than #poopingonbluebonnets (it’s a thing. Google it.)

Heather and Dad - Bluebonnets 2015 Spicewood, TX This is the best father/daughter picture we got. After 3.5 hours in the car and a heavy BBQ lunch, I wasn’t feeling too photogenic!

I am so glad that we went – it made for a long day, but I love spending time with my Dad doing fun stuff like this. My brother and sister don’t have the same love of road trips that Dad and I share! Lots of memories were made, jokes were told, and good conversation on our 13 hour, 460 mile road trip. I try to soak up as much of that stuff as I can, while I can. 

During our trip, I kept saying how glad I was that we made the drive and how I wanted to do more things like that, so I decided to make a Texas wish list and start checking them off one by one. Texas is huge, so day trips are great – but not always possible. Some will have to be longer trips, and I’m okay with that. Have map, will travel. Keep checking back, I’ve got the travel bug now! 

Magnolia Market | Waco, TX | Queen of Everything

Have you read my post about our day trip to Waco to stalk Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Fixer Uppers on HGTV? You should

 

 

 

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Road Trip to Waco, Texas

If you watch HGTV, you have probably heard about the show Fixer Upper. The two stars (Chip and Joanna Gaines) live near Waco, Texas and basically work magic on old, dilapidated houses in their area. They own a real estate company, a renovation company, and a retail shop – and Joanna blogs too! They seem very laid back and down to earth on their show, and that makes them very likeable and popular.

I got my sister hooked on the show. I love the way they do the houses – it’s not always my style, but it is always perfect for that specific house and/or family. So, Whitney (my sister) suggested that we take a little road trip to Waco, Texas for my birthday this past weekend. We live in Fort Worth, so it’s about 1.5 hours south of us. Just about perfect for a day trip! I decided that we were going to “stalk” Chip and Jo Jo and they were going to just love me. (Didn’t happen. I mean, we didn’t find them. I’m sure they would love me if they met me.)

Magnolia Market | Waco, TX | Queen of Everything

The first place we went was (obviously) Magnolia Market. I’m pretty sure the rest of Texas had the same idea. Apparently the show is bringing tons and tons of visitors to Waco – which is good for Waco, but bad for me because the antique stores have raised their prices quite a bit since I was there last summer! Magnolia Market is Joanna’s shop. She sells a lot of the things they use on the show to decorate the houses with. The store was beautiful, just like I figured it would be. Crowded and beautiful! I took lots and lots of pictures for you. 

Sweet Stuffed Goat | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Hanging shelf | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Magnolias | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Metal Stool and Chandelier | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Shelves Vases Mugs | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Window Displays | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Window Light Fixtures | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Window Vignette | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Wire Basket and Sconces | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Wire Light Fixture | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

If you have ever watched the show, you know that Joanna likes to use wooden and metal letters to decorate most of the houses. She’s always talking about her secret stash of letters – well, her secret stash must not be at her shop because the letter “yard” was pretty empty. I would be willing to bet that it used to stay pretty full before the show took off! It is out behind the store. 

Doors to Letter Yard | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Letter Yard | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Letter Yard 2 | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

Arched Windows | Magnolia Market | Queen of Everything

After browsing Magnolia Market (I’m kicking myself for not buying that sweet little stuffed goat head and a couple of those chartreuse bud vases), we drove around and saw a few of the houses that were featured on Fixer Upper, including their furniture guy’s (Harp Design Co) house that is right next to his shop!

Cabinet Doors | ReStore | Queen of Everything

After that, we headed towards the next shop, but were sidetracked by a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Of course, we had to turn around and see what they had! We left with some cabinet doors with cute little handles. I think we have big plans for those, but that is for another post! 

After sweating our way through ReStore (it was hot, y’all. H.O.T.) we continued on to Spice Village, which I knew had air conditioning! Spice Village is made up of individual booths, and we probably spent a good 2 hours in there. 

Your Castle | Spice Village | Queen of Everything

Your Castle

Gin Tonic | Queen of Everything

Gipsy Bridge | Spice Village | Queen of Everything

Gipsy Bridge

Hollyhock Boutique Monograms | Spice Village | Queen of Everything

Hollyhock Boutique

Tags | Spice Village | Queen of Everything

The Round Top Collection | Spice Village | Queen of Everything

Thirty Five Designs | Spice Village | Queen of Everything

Thirty Five Designs

Sisters | Spice Village | Queen of Everything

Funny story about this picture. I handed this sign to Whitney and just told her to “hold this up so I can take a picture of it” – she didn’t read it before I took the picture. I just love it. 

Health Camp | Waco | Queen of Slacking

From Spice Village, we decided to eat some lunch – so we went to Health Camp. Apparently, it is THE place to go in Waco. The shake lived up to the hype, but I could only eat about half of it!

After lunch, we rolled out of Health Camp and drove to the La Salle Shoppes, an antique shop. I bought a couple of things there (upcoming post!) and we had a lively discussion about chalk paint with the employees. 

  Dark Teal Dresser | Junque in the Trunk Waco | Queen of Everything

Then we went down the street to Junque in the Trunk – lots of painted furniture and knick knacks. I fell in love with this teal and gold dresser, but it was already sold. Not to mention that I don’t NEED another dresser…

After that, we may or may not have gotten a little bit lost trying to find a Sonic (it was HAPPY HOUR, give me a break!) but we ended up finding the best little shop in Waco because of it. Junque Queens. Seriously. The owner let us in even though she was closed for the day – how sweet was that? She had excellent prices and tons of stuff to look at. I’m so glad that she let us sneak in for a few minutes – Whitney found several things to buy and we will definitely be going back. Such a cute little shop AND we had a blast talking to Lacy about painting furniture/price difference in DFW vs Waco. If you are ever passing through Waco, you must check out her store. Take a trailer with you, because she has good stuff. She keeps the Junque Queens Facebook page updated – I’m watching it! She’s worth the drive. 

Once we left Junque Queens, we drove through Cameron Park. I was so impressed with it! It is a HUGE park and you definitely don’t feel like you’re in Waco (I say that with love). There is a river, a zoo, hiking and biking trails, multiple playgrounds, multiple overlooks, beautiful houses, lots of trees – you could easily spend a full day there. We are planning on taking the kids back in the fall once it gets cooler. If you’ve ever been to Zilker Park in Austin, it reminded me a lot of that.

We had a great time in Waco! Texans always kind of joke that Waco is a “great place to stop and pee” because I-35 runs right through it – but I was really happy with our day there. We will definitely be going back… and next time I’m gonna find Chip and Jo Jo. 

Muleshoe Bend - Spicewood, TX

Want to read more about Texas day trips? Check out my Texas bluebonnets post

 

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How to go on a family vacation

How To Go On A Family Vacation and Still Love Them When It's Over.  

 I just returned home from a family vacation last night. We don’t go on big trips often, maybe once every 3-4 years, but we decided that this year was a vacation year. We started planning this trip around Thanksgiving, so it’s been in the works for a while (I’m a planner. I can’t help it). I thought it would be nice to 1) recap a little of my trip for you without boring you to death, and 2) give you some hints/tips/tricks that worked for us this time. As always, any and all suggestions are welcome in the comments! Vacations are NOT always easy.

Plan Ahead | Queen of Everything

I know, I know, Captain Obvious over here. My family was not completely set on the travel dates, which made it a bit easier when looking for a house to rent for the week. We were traveling from Texas to Colorado and knew we wanted to go sometime in the summer. We didn’t have too many schedule conflicts (luckily!), just a few swimming lessons/camps/blackout dates at work to work around. When trying to organize a trip for an entire family, you HAVE to plan ahead! 

Rent A Big House

As much as I love staying in (nice) hotels, when traveling with a group it isn’t always the smartest thing to do. For our past 4 vacations, we have rented a house for the duration using VRBO. We had 6 adults, 2 kids, and 1 infant with us for this trip so it was imperative that we find a house large enough for everyone to have their space. I spent hours (okay, maybe I just really like looking at other people’s houses too much) looking for the “perfect” house and narrowed it down for my dad. My siblings and I asked him to pay for the house in lieu of Christmas gifts last year, because none of us needed a thing. It worked out great – he chose one that was in his budget yet still large enough for all of us. We even had an extra bedroom after all was said and done! Any of us could easily “get away” for a little while as needed – and sometimes, it was needed. We didn’t have to wait for the showers (there were 4 bathrooms), there was plenty of room to sit (two living areas and two decks/patios), and it came with a fully stocked kitchen. It was pretty perfect. (If you ever need a vacation home rental near Durango, Colorado – let me know! The house was great!). I believe it cost around $250/night, which is a steal, when you think about how much 4 hotel rooms would have cost. 

Plan Your Meals | Queen of Everything

We aren’t rich. We can’t afford to eat out for every meal on vacation, and I don’t know many people that can. Another reason we rent a house (vs. staying in a hotel) is because they come with kitchens. Kitchens = meals. Now, we don’t do anything fancy for our vacation meals, but we don’t have hot dogs over the campfire every night either. My sister and I generally make a list of some easy meals, then make a grocery list and some kind of schedule, depending on what the plans are for the day. We always buy breakfast food because we eat breakfast at the house every day. We buy lunch/sandwich stuff because on most days, we stop and have a picnic. We buy lots of snack stuff because we do a lot of driving on most days, and it is easier (and healthier) to not have to stop at random gas stations for snacks. We kept a cooler in each car and refilled it with water, snacks, and ice every day. We also ate dinner at the house every night. I emailed the owner of the house and asked if there was a crock pot in the kitchen, and there was – so we made use of that for 2 of the nights. The house also had a grill, so we used that as well. 

Entertain the kids | Queen of Everything

We decided to make this vacation a road trip instead of flying to save some money. Road tripping has its advantages AND its disadvantages. We rented a large SUV and took my dad’s mid-size SUV. Yes, they are gas guzzlers, and no, it wasn’t cheap to keep gas in the cars – but it was less expensive than paying for plane tickets AND rental cars AND gas. It worked out great for our family. Since we had two 7 year olds and one 1 year old going, I decided to make each of them a road trip goodie bag. That will have to be a separate post, because I admit I got a little out of control with it and bought a TON of stuff for them. It was so worth it, though, and the older kids loved them. I’m sure my 1 year old nephew loved his too, but he couldn’t TELL me he loved it! Yes, we could have rented a 15 passenger van, but I don’t think I would feel safe in one of those on mountain roads – so we stuck with the 2 SUV decision and it was perfect.

Split the driving up | Queen of Everything

The drive from D/FW to Durango is about 13 hours (833 miles) if you drive straight through, don’t hit traffic, and don’t make any bathroom stops. Realistically, we knew we were looking at about a 15 hour drive each way. Now, if the only people on this trip were me and my husband, we would have driven straight through just to get there – but we had kids to contend with, so that was not going to happen. We drove about 500 miles the first day, and stopped in Santa Rosa, NM for the night. (The above picture is the Blue Hole, in Santa Rosa) The next day, we drove the remainder of the miles and got to the vacation house around 6:00 pm or so – we stopped in Taos, NM for an extended lunch/explore the town, so that took about 3 hours (which we factored in when deciding where to stop for the night). We had 3 hotel rooms, thanks to using loyalty points and Priceline! 4 hotel rooms would have been optimal, but it was fine since all we really did was sleep. On the way there, we ate dinner at a local restaurant. On the way home, we detoured through Santa Fe and ordered pizza once we got to the hotel in Santa Rosa. Since we took 2 vehicles, we were able to stop in Amarillo on the way home and see my husband’s mom and grandmother – they were thrilled. The car with the kids kept on going while we got to have a sit down lunch with his family. 

Plan Your Days Out | Queen of Everything

My family made SO much fun of me for “overplanning” this vacation – but by the end of it, they were all so thankful that I took the time to write out what we were doing every day. I probably spent way too much time on it, because I LOVE planning vacations, but it paid off in a big way. I knew we would basically be driving for 2 days each way, so I planned stops for lunch breaks in cities we would be passing through on each day of driving. The kids loved getting to check out a new playground in a new city! It took some thinking and lots of maps, but it was so worth it. I also knew that after driving for 2 days, it wouldn’t be good to do something that required a long car ride on our first full day in Colorado – so I didn’t plan anything too far away. The next 3 days were pretty full, and then our last full day we just took it easy and explored Durango on foot. I had my reasons for planning things the way I did, and it worked out very well for all of us!

Be Flexible | Queen of Everything

As much I stress the planning part of vacations, just know going into it that everything is not going to go according to plan. For instance, I got a migraine 2 days before we left, and was basically unable to get out of bed until about 10:00 pm the night before we left thanks to my migraine medication. I didn’t plan on spending the day before vacation in bed, but it couldn’t be helped. We had to miss an outdoor movie one night because the kids were exhausted. Yes, it would have been fun, but they needed some time to cool down – so we picked up some BBQ for dinner and played UNO together. One of the nights we were there, we were unable to have a fire in the fire pit for S’mores due to the wind. We made them in the microwave instead, and the kids were just as happy with that. Everyone will survive if plans change a little bit!

Take 2 Extra Days Off | Queen of Everything

At my former job, I had 6 weeks of paid time off every year. I never had to really “budget” my days off – in fact, I generally gave about 2-3 weeks BACK every year because I couldn’t take it all (I know, I know). However, at my new job, I have 2 weeks of vacation. As you can imagine, it hurt to use 5 days for this vacation! It really did. That’s why I cringed when I thought about what I had always done in the past – taking the day before we left off AND the day after we got back off. 7 days? More than half of my yearly vacation allowance? Am I crazy? It may mean having to really budget my other days off for the rest of the year, but I can tell you that FOR ME, it’s the smartest thing I could have done for myself. The day before I was down for the count with the migraine from hell and wouldn’t have been able to work anyway. The day after – I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “I need a vacation from my vacation!” – yes, yes, YES. I needed that extra day to relax, enjoy some peace and quiet, unpack (ha), watch a little a lot of TV, and cuddle with my dogs that I missed like crazy. If you can swing taking those 2 extra days off, do it. 

Take A Friend | Queen of Everything

We decided to invite one of our lifelong family friends and her little boy to come with us on our vacation. She has always been like my dad’s third daughter, and her son is my nephew’s age. She wouldn’t have been able to do this on her own, so she came with us and made so many new memories with her son AND with us. I know that my nephew just loved having someone to play with and they really did keep each other entertained. Sure, there were times when we had to separate them (because really, two 7 year old boys aren’t going to get along all the time) but 95% of the time it was just great. I loved hearing the giggles and the talking about what we had done that day. I know that it was nice for our friend to “escape” for a while as well! Food/housing/gas for 2 more people was not even an issue because we already had everything figured out before we even invited her. I’m just glad she was able to go and bring her son! 

Don't go every year | Queen of Everything

As much as I love going on vacation with my family, it’s not necessary FOR US to do this every year. Like I said before, we try to do this every 3-4 years and that’s enough for us. Next year, I plan to use my vacation days for a trip alone with my husband and a conference or two. I feel like by NOT going every year with the whole family, everyone appreciates it more and looks forward to it! For your family, you might want to do this every year – every family is different – but it isn’t a huge thing for us. Now, that’s not to say we don’t do ANYTHING in between – we go on lots of little weekend trips that are closer to home and have a blast – but we don’t do full on vacations every year. 

Other Helpful Travel Posts | Queen of Everything

Since I’m a planning freak, you know good and well I went to blogs and Pinterest for help. Here are a few of the best posts I found throughout my planning! Maybe they will help you as much as they helped me. 

Charlotte @ Ciburbanity

Kimberly @ Stuffed Suitcase

KC Edventures

ParentDish

Pauline @ Lessons Learnt

YTravel

 

 

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$1 Chalkboard Countdown Frame

Chalkboard Countdown Frame | Queen of Everything

I’m sure you have all seen the square wooden frames at craft stores that sell for $1-$2, right? I buy them whenever I go to craft stores, because they can be used for quick gifts – and they’re cheap! I decided that as part of Project Road Trip, I would make a chalkboard countdown frame so I have a visual reminder of how many days are left before we go to Colorado. It took me about 20 minutes to make (not including drying time for the chalkboard paint), so it’s not a super involved project.

One dollar frame | Queen of Everything

The first thing I did was paint the frame with chalkboard paint. I had it out when I was painting the garage sale frame, so I grabbed one of my $1 frames and painted it in 2-3 minutes. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it – it was kind of a spur of the moment decision. Chalkboard paint dries fairly quickly, so I put a second coat on it the same night.

Fast forward to today. I was working on some other things when the idea came to me – I could turn it into a countdown frame! It could be a countdown to anything – vacation, Christmas, birthday, whatever. I picked a fun piece of cardstock for the background, and cut it into a 3.75×3.75 square using my Silhouette Cameo

Font choices | Queen of Everything

Font choice two | Queen of Everything

Then came the fun part. I have a bit of a font problem, so of course I had to try several different ones before I found one I loved. I will admit, that took a while, but that was all me – most people don’t/won’t be as picky about fonts as I am! Once I chose the font, I cut out the phrase “Days Until” on cardstock, making sure that it fit within the 3.75×3.75 square. I ran the letters through my trusty Xyron 1.5″ Create-A-Sticker (love that thing) and attached them to the square I had previously cut out. 

Final font choice | Queen of Everything

You know you have to “season” a chalkboard before you write on it, right? Well, all that involves is covering the chalkboard with chalk vertically, and then horizontally. Then you wipe it off with an eraser or soft cloth. I wiped mine off with a damp cloth, because I wanted the darker look (yeah, don’t think that made much of a difference). 

The next step was just filling in the days and what I was counting down to! I’m going to make one for my nephew, since he is getting very excited about our trip. He can use the chalkboard countdown frame for other things after vacation. I’m sure his next countdown will be for Christmas – he thinks ahead.

This turned out really cute and can be customized so many ways – paper, fonts, colored chalkboard paint… and it was so quick, easy, and cheap! 

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Project Road Trip: Lap Desks for Kids

The winner is Jenn from Rook No. 17! I have emailed her and if she does not respond within 24 hours, I will let random.org pick another winner 🙂 Congrats, Jenn!

Don’t forget that you can use the code QUEENOFEVERYTHING for 10% off through 5/24!

My family doesn’t take lavish, super expensive vacations. I mean, ANY vacation is expensive, but we’re not fancy people. Anything that gets us out of Texas and away from the summer heat counts as a vacation in our book! This year, we’re taking a road trip to Colorado. 7 adults, 2 7 year old boys, and a 1 year old. Yes, you read that right. We’ve lost our minds. In an effort to keep the boys interested in something besides their iPads/Kindles/DVD players, I’ve taken it upon myself to entertain them with OTHER things. I’m calling it Project Road Trip, because it is definitely a project! The first thing I’ve made is a lap desk for each of them to use in the car. 

I’ve had a Silhouette for a few years, but have only cut paper with it – UNTIL TODAY. I used vinyl for the first time. I do believe I’m a changed woman! I ordered 2 lap desks from Amazon, and I had vinyl from Expressions Vinyl

Lapdesk Design | Queen of Everything

Up until I actually opened the Silhouette software last night, I wasn’t sure what I was going to put on the lap desks. I’m obviously a very “flies by the seat of her pants” kind of girl (not really), so when I saw the USA in the Silhouette Online Store, I knew exactly what I was going to do. Why those 5 states, you ask? Well, that’s where we are going! We are staying in Colorado for a week, but we are driving from Dallas/Fort Worth through New Mexico to get there. Then why Utah and Arizona? Because we’re going to the Four Corners Monument, so technically we will also be visiting those states! My 7 year old nephew is super excited about getting to be in four states at one time. It blew his mind.

Vinyl Pieces | Queen of Everything

I don’t know why I was so scared to cut vinyl all these years. It’s actually easier than cutting paper! I did learn a few things through trial and error, though, so here are a few tips from this newbie. 1) “They” say you don’t have to use a mat when you cut vinyl. I tried it, and I’m here to tell you – that didn’t work for me. I’ll try it again, because it would be so much easier to NOT use a mat, but I didn’t have time to keep messing with it and ruining vinyl – so for me, the mat was easier. 2) Cut the vinyl with scissors before putting it in your machine. Say what? The sheets I ordered were 12″x24″. The mats I used today are brand new and very sticky. Trying to peel a long, extra piece of vinyl off of a sticky cutting mat was no easy task. It’s fine, we all survived, but after doing that twice my brain finally kicked in and I cut it to a smaller, more manageable size that was still big enough for the design. 3) Use a smoothing tool. I used the “scraper” from Cricut (I prefer Cricut tools and mats over Silhouette brand – easier to find, and generally less expensive) and it smoothed out any wrinkles from wrestling the vinyl off of the cutting mat.

Texas Our Texas | Queen of Everything Next, I peeled the vinyl off so just the design was there. I had freaked out about “OMG, I have to use transfer tape! How do I do that? OMG!” – but this was such a simple, easy project that I didn’t end up using it. However, as I do more and more complicated, intricate things, that transfer tape will come in very handy. Here’s a video that explains how and when to use transfer tape (2nd one down). 

5 minutes later, I had this. 

Logans Lapdesk | Queen of Everything

Jacobs Lapdesk | Queen of Everything

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me it was so easy? 

I did learn a few other things during this process, so I’ll share those with you as well. For this project, I used Oracal 631 vinyl (indoor). Had I actually researched it a little more, I probably would have used Oracal 651 (outdoor) instead. Why? This will peel up, especially once a 7 year old boy decides that he wants to pull up the panhandle of Texas. I did find out that using a blowdryer on it will sort of “seal” it and make it more difficult to pull up. I’ll be doing that before I give these to the boys, for sure!  

The best part of this whole lap desk project? This:

Logan | Queen of Everything

SO worth it. That’s why I felt so bad about the next thing I did. I gave it to him for a quick picture, and I took it away from him after I got the shot! He can’t have it until our road trip next month! <cue sad trombone> This is why I’m not a mom. Aunts can pull those kinds of stunts and get away with it. 

Expressions Vinyl was so nice and gave me a $25 gift certificate code to give away! I mean, if *I* can cut vinyl, anyone can. Now you probably want to know how to enter for the $25, huh? It’s simple. All you have to do is comment below and tell me about your favorite vacation memory. That’s it! I mean, it would be nice if you liked Expressions Vinyl on Facebook or checked out their website too (the website has several helpful videos for scaredy cats like me) – but all that is required to win the $25 is a little comment. 

BONUS! The nice guys at Expressions Vinyl have also given Queen of Everything readers a 10% discount code, good for 2 weeks from today. All you have to do is enter QUEENOFEVERYTHING in the coupon code box at checkout and boom. 10% off. 

I can’t wait to hear all about your vacation memories! I will choose a random winner in one week, on Monday, May 19th. Good luck! 

 * I was given product for review. All opinions are mine, good and bad! * 

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Things I Saw That I Loved #4

Things I Saw That I Loved Queen of Everything

 

Did you follow my trip to Round Top with Lindsay on Instagram? If not, you missed out! (Well, the pictures are still there, but you know. Real time shopping and all that jazz.) Turns out, the Round Top area does not have awesome cell service, so we had to improvise and post when we could. Just follow the #werockroundtop hashtag on Instagram and be prepared to see some creepy stuff. Round Top definitely had a theme going, guys, and you’ll figure it out after the first few pictures. I will do a full post about our day soon, I promise. I didn’t post *all* of the pictures to Instagram.

Moving on!

Here are some of the “Things I Saw That I Loved” from this week. (It is looking like this is the “My friends are awesome” edition!) I hope you enjoy my favorite picks of this past week, and maybe find some blogs that YOU will love too. Let me know if you find some new blog loves! (PS: I’ve included links back to the original blog posts, and I’ve also pinned them on Pinterest for you so they are easy to find/repin.)

Raptor Mama's Project Life Planner Pages

Raptor Mama does a LOT of Project Life layouts – and blogs, and makes other crafty stuff too. She ordered some planner pages and tweaked them to make them into what SHE needed. I love it! I am thinking I need a copy for myself. Maybe if I were more organized, this blog would have more posts than it does… I’m really impressed with what she’s done! And jealous of all the fun stuff she gets to do.

Vintage-Saftiplass-Panels | Makely Home

 

Now y’all. I was so excited to see this post from Makely Home come up. Why? Because I got to HELP make these! Okay, all I did was put some rubbing alcohol on strips of metal and glue those strips of metal to wood… but I still helped. Lindsay’s house was awesome. I loved it. And I love these panels she made. I have no idea how she comes up with everything she comes up with! 

Stenciled Goodnight Moon Art | Ciburbanity

 

My friend Charlotte from Ciburbanity had a pretty exciting week. She’s a good secret keeper too – know why? She filmed an episode of Flea Market Flip LAST SPRING and didn’t tell anyone until very, very recently. It aired this past Sunday and I’m not gonna spoil it for you… but I want to know what she did with her half of the prize money 🙂 Anyway, this stenciled sign is in her dining room. I love it. 

Gold Dipped Plumage Cabinet | Boxy Colonial

 

Isn’t this gorgeous? This pretty thing was in the East Coast Creative Blog’s link party for Crafting With The Stars (have you been following that? I’m really good at picking the winning project this time around) and I had to click and comment on it. It just caught my eye and I love how she painted the legs GOLD! Gretchen at Boxy Colonial knows what’s up. 

Green Lady | Windgate Lane

 

Obviously, I need to go hang out with Bee at Windgate Lane more often so she can teach me her ways. (You may remember her from the very first edition of Things I Saw That I Loved…) She only lives about 45 minutes away! She loves the Rub N Buff as much as I do (oh yeah… I wrote a post about Rub N Buff but shockingly haven’t finished the whole project yet!) and I LOVE the green color she chose. I love bright colors on things that aren’t normally bright colors. Hello, I have two bright orange chests in my craft room. Bee did a beautiful job on this and I’m going to go steal it from her… right now. See ya in a few, Bee!

TGIF, right? Enjoy your weekend (I’m going to the Main Street Arts Festival and to see The Mavericks – best concert ever!) – have fun! Show these bloggers some love, too!

 

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We rock Round Top? We rock Round Top!

RoundTop

Hey! Guess what? I’m heading down to Austin tomorrow to spend some time with my blog BFF, Lindsay. Guess what else? She’s putting me to work on a new project. Guess what ELSE? We are going to Round Top on Saturday, bright and freaking early! 

Now, I’ve never been to Round Top, but I’ve heard about it for years. I’m already overwhelmed and I’m not even there yet! I know that there are some strange, strange things there – and I know that there are some really great things there too. We’re going to capture ALL of the funky stuff we see – good and bad – and we want you to follow along with us. 

How, you ask? Well, Instagram, of course! Lindsay had the bright idea to create a hashtag for our adventure – #werockroundtop. You can search for that phrase on Instagram and it will pull up all of our pictures from Saturday!

Links for the lazy (like me): Lindsay @ Makely and Heather @ Queen of Everything

Remember, we won’t be there until Saturday, but we wanted to give you proper warning 🙂

Have a great weekend – we sure will!

 

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