Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back to School Crafts

So about a week or so ago I got the idea to make gifts for my new team members at school. I have been wanting to Mod Podge clipboards since I received one as a gift in February from a student. I already had most of the materials, but I did need some more ribbon and 2 more clipboards so off to Walmart I went at 10:30 at night. While I was there I saw super cute wooden letters and thought I could Mod Podge those as well, bu this time I would make them for my old teammates in kindergarten. Walmart is my new favorite place to go to for craft supplies. Although their selection is limited, they do have great prices on what they do have.
Anyways, back to the crafts. I started crafting as soon as I got home and I was up until 2am. I decided to start with the letters so I picked out some scrapbook paper from my stash. I traced the letter on the paper. Be sure to trace on the back of the paper AND you must turn the letter so that the front of the letter is down on the paper or else it wont match up. Then I painted the sides of the letter with a coordinating color to the paper used. Once the paint was dry I "painted" a light layer of Mod Podge on the top of the letter and carefully placed the paper on the letter. I then "painted" an even layer of Mod Podge over the paper and the sides of the letter. I had to do about 2 coats to make it even. Be aware that you may get a few ripples in the paper when putting the top layer of Mod Podge on the paper. I freaked out and tried very hard to smooth it out, but once it dried the ripples were gone.
When everything was dry, I used ribbon and some bling to embellish it a little.

*Here's a tip: after reading the internet and watching a few you tube videos I found out that it is best to let the paper and first layer of Mod Podge (under the paper) dry over night before putting the top layer of Mod Podge on top of the paper.

Here is a picture of a few letters I made for some great friends and fellow teachers: (I dont know why it is sideways, it is not saved that way on my computer)

Now on to the clipboards!
I pretty much did the same steps for the clipboards as I did for the letters. I forgot to take pictures of the final products, but I am in the process of making another one and I will be sure to take pictures and post them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Power of Priceline

I remember way back in the day when my mom would go on priceline to get good deals on groceries, but I really didnt think it was still being used. Last summer, Greg and his friends did a guys trip to California to check out some breweries. They used priceline to get some great deals on hotel rooms. While we were planning our trip to Maryland and Colorado, Greg was all about using Priceline for our hotels. I was a little annoyed because Greg was spending hours and hours on the computer reading and searching (he knows some websites that rate the hotels and people leave their reviews).

The only bad thing about Priceline is that you have to book online prior to arriving at the hotel.

Here are our total savings for our trip:

Joplin, MO: Holiday Inn Normal Rate- $95/night
Priceline Price- $30

Louisville, KY: Park Inn Normal Rate- $109/night
Priceline Price- $40 (we stayed 2 nights)

St. Charles, MO: Country Inn and Suits Normal Rate- $99/night
Priceline Price-$37

Hays, KS: Ramada Normal Rate- $59/night
*Hotwire Price-$39

Colorado Springs, CO: Fairfield Inn normal price- $89/night
Priceline Price- $35/night (we stayed for 5 nights)

Without using Priceline, we would have payed $916 plus taxes.
Using Priceline, we paid $361 plus taxes. We saved $555!!!

I have to admit, I was a little annoyed that Greg was spending so much time on the computer and there were several times I wanted to say f*@% it let just pay when we get there, but now looking back I am so happy we used Priceline.

***Disclaimer- some rooms were not up to my standards and I would not have stayed there for more than 1 night. Most of the reviews left by other people were right on, but there were a few that were way off. Some of the nicer rooms we stayed in actually got low ratings on Priceline.

I would totally recommend staying at the Park Inn (Louisville), Country Inn and Suits (St. Charles) and the Fairfield (Colorado Springs).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

4 Days 9 States (Maryland to Arizona)

This is part 2 of our cross country journey.
We left Maryland on July 6th around 6 in the morning (I think). We drove just past St. Louis, MO and stopped for the night. Our hotel was with in walking distance to an old town that had several cute little shops and restaurants. We knew we could not sit down and eat dinner anywhere because Carson was full of energy so we got dinner to go from a cute little brewery and took it back to our hotel room. The next morning we headed out and made our way through Missouri and Kansas. We decided to stop in Hays, KS at a (not so great) Rhomada Inn. The only thing that made this hotel ok was the fact that they had a pretty big indoor swimming pool with a super fun water slide. Carson was a very happy little boy that night. We spent about an hour in the pool going down the water slide over and over again.
The next morning we headed out for our 5 hour drive to Colorado Springs, CO. We were planning on staying there for 5 nights and spend some time with family. Several of my aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents we all there for our cousin's wedding. It was so nice to see everyone. Most of them hadn't seen Carson for over a year and there were even a few who had never met him.
My cousin's wedding was beautiful. The day started off with blue skies, but about an hour before the ceremony was suppose to start, the rain came pouring down. The sky was gray and the clouds were not moving very fast. When we got to the county club they told us that the wedding had been moved down stairs to one of their rooms. I knew my cousin was probably very upset. Her wedding was suppose to be outside, at the foot of the mountain on the golf course. With the rain at a standstill, we got word that the ceremony was pushed back an hour so they could set up the outdoor location since the rain had stopped.
Long story short: the rain stayed away so my cousin could have her dream day and it was beautiful! The reception was very fun. Carson had a blast and danced the night way. He had all the chicks dancing with him. His new best friend was the flower girl, Zoey. The two of them were so cute and Zoey even gave Carson a smooch or 2 :)

On Monday, a few of us went up to Golden, CO to tour the Coors Brewery. It was a good experience, but definitely not something I probably wont do again. After the tour Greg and I took my brother and sister to the airport to head back to MD.

Tuesday morning, we got up and packed up the car. I was so excited to be heading back home, but I was not looking forward to the 13-14 hour drive. It about a 7 hour drive to the 4 corners and I was excited to be in 4 states at once (I know, call me a dork). By the time we made it to the 4 corners we came to a lovely sign that said...

CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION!!! I was so bummed. Oh well, back in the car we went. 6 more hours til home.

Well, we made it home around midnight and boy was it nice to sleep in my own bed.

I think this is enough for tonight. I will try and add some pictures later. Most of them are on Greg's camera. I will leave you with a few pictures from my cousin, Katie's, wedding.

Greg and I

Dont mind Katie's face :)

Mr. and Mrs. Nick John

Carson, dancing with Zoey

Friday, July 9, 2010

4 Days 9 States (Arizona to Maryland)

Well, on Sunday, June 20th we headed out on our adventure across the country. We left around 6:30 pm and drove through the night. Greg was a trooper. He made it til about 8:30 am before needing me to take over so he could nap. I drove for about 2 hours or so then Greg was ready to switch back. Our first big stop was in Oklahoma City where we met up with a friend of ours for lunch. Carson did not sit down once in the 2 hours we were out of the car. We took turns chasing him around the restaurant. There was a little downtown area to walk around so we walked around, took some pictures and watched the ducks. Then it was time to get back in the car and keep driving. By this point Carson and I were done with being in the car, but Greg wanted to get to St. Louis. St. Louis came and went and Greg was still driving. We finally stopped around 6pm on the 21st in Joplin, MO (Holiday Inn). Since it was dinner time we decided to get take out from the hotel restaurant and eat in our room so I could sit in bed and Carson could run around the room.
The next morning we left Joplin and started our drive to Louisville, KY where we were planning on staying 2 nights. Not quite how long the drive was, maybe like 10-12 hours (it was dark when we checked in to our hotel, Park Inn). The next morning we got up and got ready for our day. We had a day of fun planned for Carson. We went to a cute little breakfast/lunch shop called Toast on Market. It was delicious. I would have liked to go back to try more things but we didn’t have time. Our first stop for the Day of Fun was to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. It was pretty cool to go on the factory tour, but I don’t recommend going if you have a very hyper toddler who doesn’t like to sit in the stroller for longer than 5 minutes. Greg really wanted to get Carson a personalized bat so we headed to the gift shop before leaving. It was about an hour wait for bats so that gave us time to take Carson to the Children’s Science Museum. It was $15 for adults (I think) and $12 for children 2+, so it was a little more than I wanted to pay but oh well, it was a day for Carson. *By the way, we did not pay the $12 for Carson. We cheated and said he was under 2 because I do not see a need to pay that much for someone who can only “play” with less than a fourth of the things there (due to a whole exhibit being closed for changing). I would have no problem paying if there was more for him to do. Carson had a blast in the small little Under 7 section of the museum, but then just ran around the rest of it.
That night we went over to a friend’s house for dinner. Greg was friends with them before I moved to Arizona and then they moved to KY about 4 years ago. We hadn’t seen them since. It was nice to see them and catch up.
Thursday, time to head to Maryland! We left KY and started on our 9 hour drive or so to my parents house. I remember thinking that we would never get there. Who knew that West Virginia was such a big state and took FOREVER to drive through? It was about 8:00pm when we finally got to my parents house.
It was so nice to be home. We didn’t really plan a lot for our stay in MD. We really just wanted to relax and visit with friends and family.
Stay tuned for the rest of our trip. I also plan on blogging about Greg’s money saving ideas!