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NYE DIY: Make Your New Year’s Party Sparkle!

Posted by on Dec 22, 2016 in Craft | 0 comments

Here are some simple ways to add a little sparkle to your New Year’s Eve celebration. I’ve included shortcuts, in case the holidays have left you too short on time to take the total DIY route.

New Years eve party DIYs - Sparkle stirrers

1. Tinsel Stirrers – A festive touch for cocktails or cupcake toppers.

Shortcut: Order a set from Etsy. There are options available from several different sellers for as low as under $1 apiece.

New Years eve party DIYs - glitter ice cubes

2. Glitter Ice Cubes – Add edible glitter to regular ice cubes. These would be fun in the punch bowl too!

New Years eve party DIYs - Champagne cake pops

3. Pink Champagne Cake Pops – Sparkly pops with pink champagne centers!

Shortcut: If you use your favorite cake mix instead of making one from scratch, I won’t tell.

New Years eve party DIYs - glasses

4. DIY Wine Glasses Using Sharpies! – Use metallic sharpies to make a permanent mark. For a more temporary design, opt for erasable markers, like the Chalkola ones I reviewed.

Shortcut: Let guests decorate their own glasses during the party and take them home. (Party favor + less dishes for you = win win!)

New Years eve party DIYs - Glitter balloons

5. Glitter Balloons – A balloon pump and glitter can help you transform clear balloons into shimmering ones. I love the bubbly arrangement of large and small balloons on the wall in the photo.

Shortcut: Arrange gold or silver balloons on the wall and skip the glitter step.

New Years eve party DIYs - glitter ice cubes

Here’s to the New Year!

– More New Year’s Eve party tips –

Photos via their respective sites.

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Gift Guide 2016

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments


Since last year’s road-tested gift guide was a hit, here’s my 2016 list of traveler gift ideas I actually own, use, and love!

Bag at sunset

1. Lo & Sons O.G. Overnight Bag

This bag strikes a fabulous balance between being roomy yet sleek, having enough pockets to keep things organized but not so many you go crazy trying to find things. There’s even a side pocket that solves the ongoing dilemma of how to pack shoes! It’s set up so you can use it for work stuff, craft projects, and/or travel. Sized to be used as an overnight bag or carry-on – it’s slim enough even for budget airlines with restrictive carry-on/cabin baggage policies (like RyanAir).

Lo and sons bag



  • 17″ x 6.5″ x 15″ bag with 9.5″ handles.
  • Removable shoulder/crossbody strap.
  • Outside is made from water-resistant nylon with leather handles and silver or light gold hardware.
  • Available in black, navy, army green, crimson red, burgundy, or heather grey. Lined with poly jacquard (lavender, camel, grey, or azure). Leather handles. Hardware in silver or light gold.
  • Lo & Sons also sells a slightly smaller overnight bag called The O.M.G.

Lo and Sons bag

What I have: The O.G. Overnight Bag, black exterior / silver hardware / lavender interior / black handles.

Where to find it: Order on by 12/11 for delivery by 12/24.

Price: $206.50 on sale (reg. $295)

BlogHer '16

2. h2go Force Vacuum Bottle

Keeps cold water cold – even in a hot car during summer in Phoenix. Apparently, you can also use it with hot beverages, but I haven’t tried that yet. (I have, however, used it as an impromptu vase in my hotel room during BlogHer.)


  • Colors include matte black, mossy oak camo, matte army green, neon green, neon orange, neon pink, neon yellow, and gloss white.
  • Available in 12, 17, 26, or 34 oz. size.
  • Double wall stainless steel with copper vacuum insulation and threaded stainless steel lid.
  • Marty’s technical explanation of why it works so well: the lack of air between the outer part of the bottle and its inner lining prevents heat transfer, so contents retain their temperature longer.

H2go water bottle
What I have: h2go Force Vacuum Bottle, 26 oz. in matte gray

Where to find it: While manufacturer H2go Hawaii is still building out their online store, you can contact them directly to order. Call (808) 216-7460 or email with your shipping address and the model, size, and color of the product/s you’d like to buy. They’ll follow up with online payment information. Shipping within the U.S. is included and typically only takes a few days.

Random individual bottles sometimes show up for sale on Amazon and eBay. They’re also available in bulk from promotional products vendors.

Price: $29.99



3. MyIntent Necklace

Simple yet elegant jewelry personalized with an intention, value, or encouragement. Perhaps there’s an adventurous spirit in your life you could celebrate with a gift of a necklace that said something like “wanderer,” “keep exploring,” or “play outside.”


  • Classic necklace available in black, silver, or gold.
  • Handcrafted in the USA.
  • They also offer different types of chains, bracelets and gift sets.
  • To DIY, check out their maker kits.

MyIntent necklace

What I have: Classic necklace in silver. (I wrote about the words I chose on Instagram.)

Where to find it: Order on their site, and they’ll hand stamp your word. Order by 12/18 for delivery by 12/24.

UPDATE: $5 off when you join MyIntent’s loyalty program.

Price: $25


Action cam

4. AKASO EK5000 Action Cam

Super compact, lightweight wide-angle camera for photos, video, and timelapse. It has a removable waterproof housing, put to the test in Frida’s tank and in the blowing dust at Seven Magic Mountains outside of Vegas. It also comes with more mount options (for helmets, drones, etc.) than I’ll probably ever use. I’d recommend it for someone who wants the flexibility to take video anywhere without worrying about wrecking an expensive camera.

Seven magic mountains vegas


  • 2-inch LCD screen
  • 170-degree wide angle lens
  • 2 rechargeable batteries
  • 17 mounts


What I have: AKASO EK5000 1080p WIFI Sports Action Camera 12MP HD Waterproof Camcorder in black.

Where to find it: Amazon

Price: $54.99 on sale (reg. $79.99)


Humangear containers

5. GoTubb Containers

These are so useful for containing little odds and ends you’re taking with you – sunscreen, pills, earrings. They’re easy to open, but we haven’t had one leak yet. Humangear also makes the GoTube from last year’s guide.



  • Sold in sets of 3 in a mix of colors.
  • Food-safe.
  • 100% BPA-free, PC-free, and phthalate-free.

What I* have: Humangear GoTubb .9 cubic inches (14 cc) set of 3 in clear / green / blue

*Technically, what Phillip has. But I borrow them pretty regularly.

Where to find them: Humangear.comREI, possibly Target.

Price: $6.99



6. NoRayz Sunglasses

As you may recall from our previous review, NoRayz sunglasses are comfortable, built well, and excellent for blocking the sun.


  • Polycarbonate, polarized lenses.
  • Blocks 100% off UVA and UVB rays.
  • Handcrafted in the USA.

NoRayz sunglasses

What I have: Sedona sunglasses (Marty has the Yuma model)

Where to find them: Order through the NoRayz site by 12/14 for delivery by 12/24.

Price: $150



Yes, some of this was free…

  • Lo & Sons provided The O.G. bag for review.
  • NoRayz provided the Yuma and Sedona sunglasses for review.
  • The MyIntent necklace was a gift from MyIntent to BlogHer speakers.
  • The h2go Force bottle came from a BlogHer sponsor event with the GoRVing organization. They were there to promote RV traveling and not beverage containers. However, campers don’t fit in swag bags.

…but it’s all really great stuff that I feel is worth recommending.

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National Christmas tree

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments

The U.S. National Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. isn’t seasonal. The decorations are. But the tree itself is a living thing, planted in the President’s Park, permanent enough to be a dot on National Mall maps.

It’s located in the middle of the Ellipse (a big lawn south of the White House), surrounded by the “Pathway of Peace.” During the holiday season, it’s lit up like….well, you know…with model trains and miniature buildings at its base and 57 smaller trees decorated for each U.S. state and territory (plus the District of Columbia) with handmade ornaments from schoolchildren and artists.

National Christmas Tree

– Visiting The National Christmas Tree –

  • The National Christmas Tree lights are on nightly from approximately 4:30-10pm during the month of December.
  • The Pathway of Peace is open 10am-10pm.
  • 30-minute music and dance performances take place on a nearby stage for 2 weeks in December.
  • It’s free to see the tree and watch performances.
  • There’s an annual lighting ceremony and concert. Watch the 2015 lighting online. (The 2016 ceremony will be televised later this week.)
  • The National Tree has a Twitter account. It loves Christmas, music, and, apparently, Gilmore Girls.


National Christmas Tree

Getting There

  • Transit: The closest stops are the same ones you’d use for the White House – either Federal Triangle (blue, orange, and silver lines) or Metro Center (red, blue, orange, and silver lines).
  • Parking: There’s a parking garage at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Rates vary but plan for about $10/hour weekdays, $15 for weekday evenings or all day on weekends and holidays. Access via 13½ Street (off Pennsylvania Avenue) or 14th Street. Open to the public but visitors and vehicles are screened upon entry.
  • Street parking is limited.
  • We ended up walking from our hotel.
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Introducing the Omni Charlottesville Hotel

Posted by on Mar 31, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments

Have you ever stayed at an Omni?

Omni Charlottesville Hotel



My introduction to the chain, which has 60 hotels and resorts throughout North America, was our stay at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel during our trip to Virginia. We were greeted with a bottle of local merlot in our room. Nice to meet you, indeed.

Charlottesville Wine

Each Omni location has its own style, informed by the area’s “local color.” The Charlottesville hotel has contemporary Southern decor and an atrium with tropical plants. Browsing around other destinations’ photo galleries, you can see that the one in Scottsdale has a Mediterranean theme. L.A.’s feels a bit Hollywood. Nashville’s has kind of an urban cowboy look.

Charlottesville OmniOmni Charlottesville Hotel

The brand’s intention is to make its hotels “the focal points of their cities.” In the case of Charlottesville, it’s a community hub, located right off the Downtown Mall, serving as First Night Virginia volunteer check-in site and headquarters for the Virginia Festival of the Book.
Charlottesville Omni

Omni Charlottesville Hotel


Besides celebrating the uniqueness of each location, Omni also recognizes the individuality of their guests with a loyalty program that focuses on personalized amenities.


If you stay just two nights, for example, you’re eligible for complimentary morning beverages. Check off what you want the night before, and it shows up at your door in the morning. This is especially great if you’re not a morning person, or if you’ve ever watched Downton Abbey and thought “why doesn’t my day start with someone at my door with a tea tray?!”

Omni charlottesville


There was really good service throughout our stay. When our safe wasn’t working, someone came the same day to fix it and even left a little note.

charlottesville Omni hotel

Many of the other guests of the wedding we were attending stayed there, too, since it also had shuttle service to area wineries and the wedding brunch was held right in the hotel’s restaurant, The Pointe. There are several meeting rooms on site, as well.


On New Year’s Eve, the Omni provided complimentary valet parking, extra security on site, and a reminder about quiet hours after 10pm. It’s definitely a good-night’s-rest place and not a party place (although Mr. Cheeseface managed to get a little crazy).

Mr Cheeseface on new years

It didn’t really affect us, since we spent the evening at the wedding. But I think we might’ve got shushed for laughing too loudly on the way back to our room that night.


On New Year’s Day, our morning beverage tray also included a couple of apples and a note wishing that our resolutions would come to fruition.

It made me smile and was a nice touch to start the new year.


We received media rates for our stay at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel.

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Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Life | 6 comments


Do you have a Leap Year tradition? If I have one, I can’t remember what it is.

It would be fun to have something you do every 4 years.

As it is, I’m just looking at it as an extra day. There’s usually not a February 29, so anything you actually accomplish is bonus, right?

Also, I’m pretty sure calories don’t count, which is good because my local Culver’s is offering 29-cent custard cones for the occasion. But maybe I should leap a few times just to make sure.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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