15 DIY Ideas For Your 4th Of July Party

DIY 4th of July

The 4th of July is a great time for celebrating and hosting a party, big or small.  Check out these DIY Ideas for the 4th of July!

Repurposed Dynamite Stick Patriotic Party Favors from DIY Inspired

DIY Mod Podge Tea Lights from DIY Inspired

Glow Stick Fourth of July Party Favor Printable from DIY Inspired

Firecracker Candles from Mod Podge Rocks!

Patriotic Star Shaped Coasters from Mod Podge Rocks!

Easy DIY Patriotic Votives from Mod Podge Rocks!

Recycled Patriotic Utensil Holder from Crafts by Amanda

Americana Napkin Rings from It Happens in a Blink

Americana Punched Tin Cans from It Happens in a Blink

Recycled Fourth of July Table Lanterns from Creative Green Living

Patriotic Recycled Tin Can Wind Chimes from Creative Green Living

Patriotic Shooting Star Napkin Rings from homework

All-American Upcycled Food Container from Organized 31

Paper Bag Utensil Holders from Typically Simple

Aluminum Can Barn Star Wreath from Condo Blues

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa (Chandler, AZ)

LLandLoL received two complementary nights to be able to share our thoughts and experience.  As always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Staycation Vacation ArizonaI am a huge fan of staycations.  That[s when you vacation in or around your home.  You check in to a nearby hotel and pretend you are a million miles away while still being close enough to save on travel costs and rush home for emergencies.  Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring new places and travelling to old favorites, but sometimes, when time is short or travelers are small, it really is best to staycation.

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On a recent three day weekend we decided to travel to Chandler, Arizona (we live in Phoenix, Chandler is an approx. 30 min drive) and do a relaxing, fun staycation with the whole family at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa.  Because we were travelling close by, we were able to invite our teenager’s best friend.  The age gap between our teen and next oldest is 7 years, plus, we’re the only girls.  Sometimes a teen just needs her bestie, right?  We got two adjoining rooms during a special holiday rate (check out all the upcoming deals, including a special 4th of July holiday.  The activities for the weekend look like such fun!).

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Vacation

 

While I did debate checking out Aji Spa (again, there were special deals!) I opted to stick with the family and we enjoyed a whole weekend of relaxing by the pool.  The pool was beautiful allowed for all the kids (ages 13 down to 3) to have fun swimming, playing, lounging and water sliding!  Yes, the pool has a water slide for guests and the line was never long!  The pool side activities kept the kids entertained and our teenager even won herself a free smoothie during one of the activities.

Water Slide at the Sheraton

 

The location is fantastic, too, if you do decide to leave the property (though, really, you don’t need to for anything).  There is a shuttle that runs to the nearby (and I mean like down the road) casino every 10 minutes or so and there is a big outlet mall only minutes away, too!

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa

 

So go enjoy some nights ‘away’ and check out Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa!

Back Yard Update; Outdoor Living Space Decor

I am so excited!  Hubs and I decided to update our pool area and add a patio and we are almost done!  This wasn’t a DIY project, except when it comes to decor and furniture.  The budget for the actual renovation ended up going over a bit so the decor and furniture budget got a bit smaller.  No problem! If there is one thing I am good at, it’s finding deals on stuff I want!  Check out what we have purchased so far to make our pool area inviting and an extra living space, just outdoors.

Backyard Update

We added a concrete space to make the pool deck and living space bigger.  A wall was added, as well, to hide a dirt/rock area and add a place for drinks and even seating.  The pool pump was hidden by a tall wall and the last step was to redo the deck.  After much debate, we picked the color ‘suede’ and had a ‘flagstone’ pattern done.  The budget didn’t allow for pool repairs; we’ll need to fix the tiles at a later date and get the pool light working (it’s not just a new bulb, a whole new instillation is needed).  I think we may attempt a DIY pool tile fix.  We shall see! Basically, the actual pool was ignored (other than having it drained and cleaned).

 

patiogazebo

The main goal was to add space AND get some shade.  So a gazebo was a must.  The grand plan was having a custom gazebo for space.  It is a weird shape so a custom one would be idea to get more shade.  Of course, that wasn’t in the cards, the budget just didn’t allow for it.  We got a great, highly rated, budget friendly gazebo online.

 

patiofire

I have been wanting a fire pit for a while now.  I have visions of s’mores with the kids and curling up next to my husband.  The fire pit was actually one of the first purchases I made once we started this process.  It was less than $60 and a good size for occasional use.

What are some must have items for your outdoor space? Tell me below and be sure to check back for the big reveal and part 2 of this backyard update!

 

Anniversary Weekend at Westin Kierland Reort and Spa in Scottsdale

My husband and I just celebrated another year of marriage (yay!) and as a present to ourselves we wanted to ‘get away’ for a bit.  Can you relate?  We have 5 kiddos, so getting away anywhere can be problematic but we worked it out with family and friends and figured out a weekend that worked for everyone.  The time frame we had was limited so we didn’t want to waste hours in the car or at the airport (plus flights aren’t cheap!). A local staycation was certainly our best option and I knew exactly where to go; Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona.

westinhotelcollage

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you might remember our amazing family staycation a couple years ago at Westin Kierland.  I remembered how wonderful the staff was, the gorgeous view and how it was the perfect place for families AND couples.

westinexplorerelaxplay

My expectations were, of course, met (and exceeded).  The experience was perfection.  We relaxed, played, drank and explored.  The ideal weekend away, for us.  The view was phenomenal (as it was last time) and beds comfortable.  A comfortable bed is a top priority for us, especially on a rare weekend without kids, where sleep and rest are actually attainable.

Scottsdale, AZ

We booked the Mojito Madness class at the deseo bar just before the restaurant opened.  It was fun to see how they make on of my favorite drinks with fresh ingredients.  The class came with an appetizer and the bartender was wonderful and made suggestions (which were spot on, we loved the shrimp and kobe choices).  We had dinner at deseo, one of the restaurants in the resort.  I’d consider it ‘fancy’ and perfect for an anniversary, whether you are staying on the property or not.

westindeseocollage

This time around I did not make it to Agave Spa but I did see the amazing treatments being offered and might have to make a special trip one day in the near future for a Salted Lime & Tequila Body Glow or The Tequila Lime Refresh Facial.  Or maybe both?! Right now, you can grab a great deal on spa treatments!

westingoodbye

This summer Westin Kierland has some really affordable offers.  You can opt for dinning credit or FlowRider sessions on top of a great nightly rate with the Say Aloha Summer deal.

If you are looking locally or if you are traveling to Scottsdale, I highly recommend Westin Kierland Resort and Spa for families and couples. What amenities do you look for when booking a romantic weekend away?

 

 

Must Have Toys to Keep Kids Active This Summer (Under $20)

I am always looking for ideas and products to help keep my kids busy during summer break.  Here are inexpensive toy ideas to help keep our kids healthy and and active during the summer.  Each product is currently priced at less than $20 on Amazon (Amazon prices are subject to change).

Summer Toys

1. Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Sprinkler

2. Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Grub Scouts Sprinkler

3. Toysmith Magnifying Bug Viewer

4. Water Bomb Factory

5. Spot it! Splash Card Game

6. My First Flybar – Pogo Jumper

7. Champion Sports Ring Toss Set

8. Melissa & Doug 8 Activity Cones

9. Crayola Washable Sidewalk Neon Paint

10. Ultra Stomp Rocket

 

What toys and activities do you use to avoid boredom during the summer?

 

 

 

West Inn and Suites + Bistro West in Carlsbad, CA

It is rare to find a hotel that is perfect for both families and/or a romantic get-away.  I found that elusive unicorn of a place on our last trip to Southern California at West Inn and Suites in Carlsbad, CA.

Hotel near Legoland

The hotel was beautiful inside and out and when I checked in while my husband and antsy children waited in the car I had a moment of dread.  This place was far to pretty and sophisticated to understand by ‘crew’.  I had quick and scary visions of my children barreling into the lobby and up the stairs like wild animals disturbing everyone.  Here’s the truth, though, my kids are *usually* pretty good and the hotel, while beautiful, has activities and services geared towards those of us with little people who travel with us.  Need an example?  Milk and cookies offered (free) in the evening to guests.  If milk and cookies don’t scream child-friendly, I don’t know what does.  Also, while checking in, I was given a chance to borrow movies for our room.  Many of which were children’s titles.  Complementary breakfast may seem like a business men/women perk, but for me?  It screams load up and fill up before heading out to LEGOLAND California, which is just a 5 min drive for the property.

Kid Friendly Hotel near San Diego

 

West Inn and Suites, as I mentioned, is gorgeous.  The rooms are beautiful and classic while still being comfortable.  I could snuggle up all night with my husband watching borrowed movies under the warm comforters.  Our trip included a 3 year old nestled in between us, but without that blonde baby, it would have been extremely romantic.

Carlsbad, CA hotel

 

West Inn and Suites has a couple restaurants on the property (but separate from the hotel, which I appreciate.  I am not local, but know that a great restaurant that I have to go through a hotel that I am not a guest at feels kind of weird) and we were lucky enough to try West Bistro, we were told the more casual of the two spots, but it was nicer than our usual ‘casual’ meal, which I loved for our ‘date’.  West Bistro has a farm to table approach and the taste and quality is apparent.  The food was, no exaggeration, magical.  The staff knowledgeable and friendly (the chef even came over to chat for a bit).  We left googly eyes and full of amazing, fresh, delicious food.

Hotel and Food near Legoland

Carlsbad is a wonderful option for spring break, family trips or a romantic get away and West Inn and Suites is perfect for all occasions.  The ambiance, staff, location and services all make it idea for families, business persons or couples.

Family Travel to Carlsbad, CA With ResorTime

Disclaimer: Some aspects of this vacation were complementary.  All opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

**Scroll down for your COUPON CODE for vacations rentals from ResorTime.com

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that Hubs and I have a goal of at least one family trip each year.  It don’t have to be extravagant or expensive but we want the kids to experience different things and places.  I was bit very early on with the travel bug so I want to share that with my family.  Hubs was on the opposite spectrum in his youth, travelling rarely, and he wants to give our kids more opportunities than he had, in regards to travel.

Family Travel California

This year we packed all the kids up into the minivan and headed to California.  I have been to many parts of CA but never Carlsbad, which is just north of San Diego (I place I have visited more than 20 times).  Carlsbad is laid back, quiet and really family oriented.  Let’s not forget, Carlsbad is home to LEGOLAND and I have three boys 5 and under.  I’d been considering a trip to LEGOLAND and wanted to do it before our oldest, the only girl, turned 13 and undoubtedly became a ‘too cool’ teenager.  Regardless, I knew she’d enjoy travelling and the beach. (Spoiler:  She had a ton of fun at LEGOLAND, too).

Carlsbad, CA Hotel

I won’t bore you with the travel details.  We  Hubs drove, kids drove us crazy, I packed too many snacks and we hit traffic.  All things we’d planned for.  We arrived about 30 minutes before our check-in time at Seapointe Resort, a ResorTime partner, but we were able to get right in and get our room keys right away.  I was given the run down of amenities, parking instructions, and info all about the resort and off I went to check out our home away from home for the next few days.

Budget Travel Tips

Our two bedroom condo with full kitchen was amazing!  Our family of six was just right for the two bedroom- we put the kids in one room, while Hubs and I claimed the master suite with the ocean view (all units faced the ocean, which was just across the street).  The kids quickly made the living area into a play room and made themselves right at home.  I brought some stuff for snacks but decided to head to the nearby grocery store to buy some items for meals, I knew spending some money at the store and utilizing the full kitchen would help us stay within budget.

Save Money On Vacation

Staying within budget is the only option for our big family when it comes to vacationing (or anything, really) so before I book any hotels I check out what they offer.  Having to take a family of 6 out to eat for each meal is a deal breaker; so high on my list of needs is a kitchen.  Location is another huge factor when booking a vacation spot.  We save money by using free shuttles or being close enough to local activities to walk.  Searching on ResorTime makes finding the perfect place for you and your families needs super simple.  You can find places in almost any location you are looking for, not just Carlsbad, CA (though, I highly recommend it for a family vacation).

Family Vacation in California

We spent the next couple of days enjoying the activities at Seapointe Resort, playing on the beach, relaxing, borrowing movies from the front desk, grilling and cooking and we even got to check out Grand Palisades Resort (which is a 7 min walk to LEGOLAND) and also a ResorTime resort.  The kids kept referring to our room(s)/condo as ‘home’ and even after we came back to Arizona, my youngest kept asking about our “California home”.  It really did feel like home!

Vacationing with Family

Make sure you follow me on Instagram and Twitter for fun photos and up-to-date happenings of our family!  If you area already following then you probably already saw that I shared a 20% coupon code for ResorTime.com!  So not only can you save money in many different ways using the site but you can add savings on top of saving and use this code: INUQN

 

Back To School: Immunizations at Walgreens

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias

Back to SchoolWe are gearing up for the new school year in our home!  One 7th grader, one in Kindergarten, our nephew is going to preschool and the baby is on the wait list for preschool, too.  This might be the first year all the kids are go to school!  Let me take a minute because that is just CRAZY!  Whew. Ok, and I’m back! Of course there is tons of back to school shopping to be done, pencils, folders, backpacks etc. One very important aspect of back to school shopping includes immunizations!

Easy Immunizations for School

My own kiddos are very aware that shots help keep them safe and healthy.  We discuss it often and, although they don’t love getting them, they do know it is necessary.  Last year, after school has started, I got a call from my the oldest child’s nurses office.  Turns out she was missing an immunization from her records and we needed to get her up to date.  So I called the doctor’s office.  There were no openings until the next week.  I wish we had known about Walgreens Healthcare Clinics where no appointment is necessary, it’s quick and easy, most insurance is accepted (I checked, ours is) and they’ll report back to your primary care physician.  And the icing on the cake, in my opinion, is this program I recently learned about.  When your child gets their back-to-school immunization at Walgreens, they’ll provide a lifesaving vaccine to a child in a developing country through the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. #GiveaShot

Walgreens Shots

This program is aimed at school aged children 7 years and older.  I found this chart on the website really helpful and hopefully I won’t have any missed immunizations in the future.

Immunization Calendar

She’s got a few she needs before school starts in a couple weeks and you can bet you’ll catch us popping in to the Walgreens on the corner for school supplies and to update those immunizations.  She says if she has to get them anyway, she’d like to do them at Walgreens, where she can “Get a Shot, Give a Shot”.

Healthy Chicken Wings

I love bar food.  Delicious fried goodness dipped in ranch?  Yes please.  I love a certain restaurant our husbands would deny visiting during their lunch hour, with their breaded and fried to perfection hot wings…you know the place I’m referring to, right?  But I’m not dumb.  I know just how bad for me all that stuff is.  So when I had a hankering for wings last weekend I asked my husband if he could maybe grill them.  If you follow me on social media you already know I think my husband is the Grill Master (though he tends to dirty every dish or pan possible in the process when he grills, but I digress).  I also put him in very high regard when it comes to sauces.  My mouth is watering just thinking about how the house smells when he is cooking up his wing sauce.

Healthy Chicken Wings

Being the grilling machine that he is he agreed, though he’d never grilled wings before.  He put them on the top rack  on med to high heat and check on them often.  He was looking for a nice golden brown and after about 25 minutes they were beautiful.  He whipped up a semi-homemade sauce in our favorite flavor for wing sauce: Honey Hot!  I tossed the grilled wings in the sauce and they were ready to be devoured eaten.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this healthy version but I was really pleased!  It had a nice crispy crust to bite into.  This will definitely be a go to when I have a hankering for some wings!

More Kid-Approved Activities For Summer

Summer is not over yet and if you are like me you are running out of ideas and steam of how to keep your kiddos busy!  Last summer I posted a bunch of ideas called How to Keep Kids Busy This Summer Without Breaking The Bank.  And this summer I shared a free printable of a Summer Bucket List. I am, of course, using those old ideas along with new activities.  Thank goodness for Pinterest.  I’m scouring the site and pinning away.  Check it out my board and follow me.  Don’t forget to let me know if you try or come across any good pins!

 

Follow Nicole LLandLoL’s board Crafts and Activites for the Kiddos on Pinterest.