Am I a Funny Girl?

Fashion Friday – Office-Ready R2-D2 and “Mom Solo”

office-ready R2-D2 costume
Who says grown-ups who have to go to work on Halloween can’t have a little fun with dressing up, too?

R2-D2 skirt | Blue tights | Easy Street “Callie” boots | Lauren Conrad bow-sleeve crepe top
Vintage Stardust Cardigan | Yoda Backpack | R2-D2 Phone Case
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Mom solo Star wars costumeBlack Utility Vest | High Waist Full A Line Pleated Swing Skirt | Slim Fit V-neck Longsleeve T-shirt
Elastic Belt Brown
| Clarks Portrait Merla Boots | Assorted snack and mom supplies :)

The importance of family-free travel #BeachesMoms

sister travel 5I love my husband. And I love Max. My sister loves her husband and her girls, of course. But we left them at home while we went on vacation and I’m so thankful we did. Katie and I had the opportunity to travel to the incredible Beaches All-Inclusive Resort in Turks & Caicos for the Social Media on the Sand conference, and as a bonus we got some much-needed sister time.

Beaches is the family-centric branch of the same brand that runs Sandals, the couples-only all-inclusives, so yes, there are times we wished we had our families with us. But overall, the benefit of the time for the two of us was far more important and valuable than we could have imagined.

We were together for probably 90% of our lives until I moved out at 18. We’ve often said that my moving out was the best thing that ever happened to our relationship; we had to make an effort to spend time together, so it was on our terms. We weren’t forced together when we didn’t want to be. We finally became friends instead of just sisters.

This isn’t to say we don’t have our drama. When you’re as close to someone as sisters are, it’s going to happen. It just will. We know ALL of each other’s buttons to push, and sometimes temptation is just too great and clashes will happen.

But to go somewhere like Beaches, with no real “grown-up” responsibilities?

sister travel 3Incredible.

When we arrived, as the concierge gave us a tour of our suite, I noticed a little bottle of Palmolive next to the kitchen counter. “Oh how cute! They think we might want to wash dishes!” We were there for two reasons: The conference and the relaxing.

Sitting at a swim up bar, ordering drinks in ridiculous neon colors, with pineapple and cherry garnish and topped with the longest bendy straw I’ve ever seen, we laughed and took silly pictures and splashed and just connected.

With no kids to keep an eye on, no husbands to feel like we were neglecting, we were able to focus on just being in the moment with each other, and we had an amazing time.

We sang karaoke like we did in the old days, when we were sharing an apartment and visited the local pub 5 nights a week to sing.

We tried new foods, like escargot!

sister travel 2sister travel 4

Leaving on this trip was pretty stressful for Katie. She’s got three girls at home, and this was her first big trip away from them. They were a little freaked out at the prospect of Mommy flying off on an airplane, and it took her a bit to settle into this role of off-duty mom.

But, I reminded her, it’s important to set this as a good example for her girls. We talked about how she should send her girls off to a resort like Beaches, maybe when her youngest turns 18. (Total bonus for Katie of all three girls having birthdays in a three-week span! Easy to make a big trip a combo gift!)

In leaving her girls behind, she modeled something else, something important. Adult sisterhood.

By day three, we were taking mental notes on the things we want to show our kids and husbands when we come back; I’ve already changed my previously planned 40th birthday party celebration from an Alaskan cruise to a Beaches vacation. (July 2017, if you want to come with us!)

Katie and I were able to connect in a way we haven’t in an embarrassing number of years. No barking dogs or whining kids, no door-to-door solicitors or groceries that needed to be bought. It was just us, and it was glorious.

sister travel 1

Show your team spirit with popcorn in team colors!

Color Popcorn using Candy Melts and Jell-OPopcorn is always a great treat for parties and get-togethers; it’s generally safe from an allergy standpoint, and we use an air popper at home, so it’s a pretty healthy option as well! Not wanting to leave it too healthy, of course, I wanted to party up some popcorn for game six of the World Series! (Go Giants!)

What better than to make a popcorn snack in my favorite team’s colors?!?! The black was easy; I picked up some black candy melts, melted them down and coated some fresh popcorn. (Candy melts are available at Michael’s or Joann, if you don’t have time to order them from Amazon!) I filled a large mixing bowl with a couple of handfuls of plain popcorn, and then drizzled the melts over top. Using a wooden spoon, I mixed until coated. (Don’t use your hands! Those melts are HOT! Voice of experience here, BTW)

Turn the coated popcorn out onto aluminum foil to cool and set.
Color Popcorn Black Close upThe orange popcorn takes a little more work…
Color Popcorn Orange Close up
Choose a Jell-O flavor that coordinates with the color you want; I did orange, of course.
In a small saucepan, combine the following:

  • 3 oz. box of Jell-O in chosen flavor
  • 1/2 C. white sugar
  • 3 T. light corn syrup
  • 4 T. butter

Heat until everything is blended together; it will seem slightly grainy, but don’t worry.

Working in small batches, put plain popcorn in a mixing bowl, and drizzle the (molten!) Jell-O mixture over the popcorn, then mix with a spoon to coat. Be sure to put the remaining mixture in the saucepan back on the heat; it starts setting up QUICK!

Once coated, spread the popcorn in one layer on a greased or foil-lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 250 for about 15 minutes to set coating; let popcorn cool, then break pieces apart.

I used a large gallon zip bag to get a good mix of both colors, and to store it overnight, but it’s entirely possible it won’t last that long!

SF Giants popcorn Team Spirit PopcornWant more awesome popcorn ideas? Follow my all popcorn board on Pinterest!

Follow Lizz’s board Popcorn but funner on Pinterest.

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Take pictures anywhere: waterproof phone case review

underwater phone case title imageDisclosure: This post contains affiliate links, but I was not otherwise compensated for this post or for sharing my opinion. I just think this might be the best $10 I’ve spent in a while!
When I got invited to Social Media on the Sand last spring, one of the first concerns I had was “Ooh! So many awesome photo opportunities!” I had never been anywhere quite like Turks & Caicos before, so I knew that I’d want to be able to take a camera into the water with me. I looked at lots of options; renting a waterproof DSLR casing from BorrowLenses.com (expensive, even to rent!), buying a less expensive casing, I even considered buying a couple of disposable underwater film cameras (a fun novelty, but not very efficient from a social sharing standpoint!), and then I started looking at underwater phone cases, so I’d have both my phone and a camera with me at and around the water.

I eventually settled on the FRIEQ® Universal Waterproof Cell Phone Carrying Case. At only $10, I figured I’d order it and if it didn’t safely keep dry during my testing, I could return it, and even if I couldn’t, it’s only $10. Before we headed to the pool the first day at #BeachesMoms, I wadded up some paper towel, put it inside and submerged the case in our hotel sink. Leaving it for a few minutes, then rattling it around under the water, I decided it was ready to go.

IMG_1784Now, to be clear: This isn’t an everyday phone case. This is not a “put it on and leave it forever” phone case. It’s too bulky and awkward for that, but it was PERFECT for our purposes! I could wear it on a lanyard around my neck (dorky but effective) and I could keep my room key and a business card stashed inside, so I had everything I needed on my person.

First stop was the swim-up bar, because swim-up bar. We played around a bit, freaking out the bartenders with our carefree photo taking in and around the water. The touch screen of the phone actually works THROUGH THE PLASTIC on the case! It’s amazing!

swim up bar photounderwater photos toesI liked that I could wear it out into the ocean, without fear of losing my phone. We had a blast, taking pictures and shooting video. I had to take the phone out of the case if I wanted to use my selfie stick, but otherwise, I kept my phone in the waterproof case the vast majority of the time I was at the resort.

splashing in the ocean

First Tropical vacation? Don’t forget these items… #BeachesMoms

tropical vacation packing list header

I just got back from my very first ever tropical vacation! Thirty seven years and I’d never been anywhere with warm turquoise water and soft white sand beaches. Spending four days at Beaches Turks & Caicos for the Social Media on the Sand conference (#BeachesMoms) was easily one of the most amazing places I’ve seen in my life.

Tropical beach is different in just about every way from the Northern California beaches I’ve grown up with, so I’ve compiled this list of things to take, especially if you’ve never experienced this type of environment. Some are obvious, but some might be less so.

Sunglasses: At the conference, we received a pair of gorgeous Ted Baker sunnies, courtesy of Iristocracy.com, a conference sponsor. But I had actually brought a couple of different pairs with me. Sunglasses are something I like to play with a little bit, stylewise, as evidenced my my other crazy polka dotted ones seen further down this list.
must pack sunglasses

Sunhat: With this sort of sun, a baseball style hat isn’t going to cut it. You’ll want something that will cover your face, neck, AND ears. So go for big and floppy. I was able to pack mine in my suitcase by wadding up clothes in the crown and packing it at the bottom with things carefully tucked around it, but you can also find “crushable” or “rollable” sunhats that fit the bill as well.
must pack sunhatBug Repellent: I didn’t actually experience any bugs in my time at the resort (This is actually shocking. I usually attract ALL THE BUG BITES) but I do know that they’re out there, and my sister ended up with some bites, as did a few other conference attendees. Conference sponsor Avon provided us with their famous Skin So Soft “Bug Guard” product, which also has SPF 28.

Sunblock: This should be a given, but it always bears repeating. I personally can’t stand the feeling of regular sunblock on my face, and still need regular hand lotion, so I bring a variety of products with me for my skin moisturizing and protecting needs. Coppertone was also a conference sponsor and provided SPF 50 for us.
must pack sunblock big spray

Easy Coverup: I only packed dresses to take to T&C… I wear them a lot anyway, but especially for a trip to a resort like this. Something I could easily throw on over my swimsuit to go into a restaurant, and that was made of a material that would dry quickly if I wandered into the ocean (which happened constantly. It’s like that water just pulled me towards it!) This dress is from eShakti and is actually a maxi on me (when not tied up in a knot, that is)
must pack easy cover up

Comfy Sandals: While there’s something to be said for walking barefoot along the beach, I also wanted something for comfy and supportive for traipsing around the resort; sidewalks, boardwalks, lobby floors… you’ll want something with a little sole to keep your feet feeling good.

*Ahem* Anti-Chafing Products: Ew, but necessary. I’m from a totally non-humid area, so I was kind of unprepared for the sticky air of the Caribbean. There are a variety of products that can help with this sticky, icky issue.

Book/Magazine: And by book or magazine, I mean actual paper. With pages. It can be a real challenge to read a digital screen in the bright sun on the beach, and I don’t know about you, but I do some of my best relaxing near the water. Awesomely, Beaches Key West Village had a library, where you could just grab a book, or leave one, if you finished it before you left and didn’t want to carry it home.(Thanks to Jen Reyneri for the photo!)
beaches library

Multiple Bathing Suits: Another thing with the humidity; hanging your wet bathing suit on the balcony or in the bathroom doesn’t guarantee that it will dry overnight. I was thankful that indecision had led me to pack all three suits that I own, so that instead of having to wear a damp suit in the morning, I had a dry one straight out of my luggage I could put on.

Waterproof phone case: The little guy shown in the photo below will get its own post soon, but I can’t recommend it highly enough! Especially for a place like an all inclusive. I stashed my room key, a business card and my phone in it, and wore it on a lanyard around my neck. Yes, I looked a little dorky, but it was nice to have my phone close by, and it’s waterproof, even when submerged! I was able to take it out into the ocean with me for photos and videos, and didn’t have to worry about dropping it or anything. Probably the best $10 I could have spent before this trip!
must pack phone pouch

Rash Guard: I’m not normally a t-shirt in the water person, but would definitely want to bring along a rash guard like this one from sponsor Lands’ End. If you get a chance to snorkel, for example, you’re going to be exposed to the sun for far longer than you might realize, and sun protection is a must.
Must pack swim top

Can you think of anything else I missed? What is your must-have item for a tropical vacation?

Disclosure: I received a discounted rate at Beaches Turks & Caicos as part of the conference, some items mentioned have been received as part of the conference gift packages. This post contains affiliate links.

Han Solo Costume #DIY #Halloween #StarWars

DIY Han Solo costumeI think this year’s Han Solo costume is my favorite yet. Jamie is now on his third year of making epic Halloween costumes for Max, and while this one was the simplest to put together, I am in love with it, and not just becuase it’s the easiest for Max to wear, and we won’t end up carrying parts of it around all night on Halloween. (Click to see 2012′s Thomas the Tank Engine and 2013′s R2D2 (also pictured above))

The base of the costume is the blue pants, white shirt, and the black vest. We splurged on these superhero boots, but bought them a little big, so they’ll work for a variety of dress-up occasions. You could pretty easily make a fake boot/shoe cover, or buy and alter something like these ones. The pants are a standard school uniform pant, which we found to be the perfect shade of navy. I recommend going for a skinnier cut if you can, so they tuck into the boots correctly. Max’s pants are from Old Navy, but these pants from Kohl’s would also work well.

han solo shirtThe shirt is a simple long-sleeved white tee shirt, with the neckline cut open. The vest is a black tee shirt, with the sleeves cut off and the front cut open. Easy.

han solo silly faceFor the detail on the pants, Jamie just used red electrical tape and a blue Sharpie paint pen. The electrical tape is simply laid along the outside seam of the pants, and then he used a straightedge to put the blue along the red trim.

han solo pantsThe most complicated part of the whole Han Solo costume is the belt and holster. He’s wearing a regular belt, AND the holster belt. We bought a regular adult-sized holster to give us additional materials to fabricate the details at a smaller size. Jamie has things like rivets in his workshop, so he was able to put the whole thing together pretty sturdily…

han solo belt The buckle is a piece of lightweight scrap wood, covered with silver tape and then stapled together.

han solo hoster detailAnd that’s it! All you need to finish it off is practice your cocky smuggler swagger, and you’re set!

han solo sneer

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