Friday, July 3, 2015

Tips for Great Wolf Lodge, MagiQuest & What to Pack

Photo: Rob Finch, The Oregonian

 We just made our second visit to Great Wolf Lodge recently.  It's a nice little trip to take with your family.  There's a little bit of everything to do in the water park which is great since there is a real spread in the ages of my kids- from toddler to teenager.

  We also got the hang of the MagiQuest scavenger hunt game on this trip, so it was less frustrating than the last time we tried it.  Since we stayed Friday and Saturday nights the kids also enjoyed the dance party GWL hosts in the main lobby area at 9 PM those nights (Sunday is the most popular day to check in because of better pricing.  We stayed when we did because we had a Groupon).

  On Sunday, when it was time to return home, we ended our last day at the park with what has become our tradition:  one last stand all together underneath the giant water bucket.

What to Pack

1.  Packing for Great Wolf Lodge is easy, and for a family of 6, it's a refreshing change to not have to haul a lot of bags on vacation!  Basically all you need per person is:
  • 2 changes of clothing
  • 2 swimsuits
  • flip-flops or crocs
  • goggles
  • chlorine removing shampoo
  • toothbrush. 
2.  If you have a baby or toddler I recommend swim shoes, because for some inexplicable reason only certain areas of flooring inside the park is slip-resistant.  On this trip my little boy wore
 i Play swim shoes  and they worked out great.  The green was on sale for $9.99 so it wasn't too much of an investment for a little peace of mind.  These aren't the kind of shoes you want to have "room to grow," so order what fits now.  Give yourself enough time that if you need to, you can return and buy a different size. A tip about putting these on:  Put your finger into the loop before you start to give yourself leverage while trying to get your little one's foot inside.


3.  Another item I was really glad to have brought for my toddler was a Disney Hydro Wheels Car.  Over on one side of Fort Mackenzie (the giant water-dumping bucket) there are several jets and water features that create currents the car can follow and jump along.  The cars are plastic and have specially designed wheels, so they don't get lost under water.  I supervised the use of the car and kept an eye out to be sure no one would step on it and slip.  My little boy had lots of fun with it and it kept him busy for quite a bit of time each day.  I actually brought two so I had a back-up in case something happened to the first one:">Disney/Pixar Cars Hydro Wheels Sarge Vehicle</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Tips & Observations
  Best swimsuit style is a one-piece or a tankini because then you don't have to think about rearranging your swimsuit after a coming out of the tube slide, etc.  Choose swimwear with bright, distinctive colors/styles to make it easier to find your family members at the water park.  In my family, "The Men" wore bright green,  my girls wore matching orange Nike sport-style tankinis :
...and I wore a pink and red striped Speedo one-piece (similar)

1.  Bring your own breakfast items to eat in your room.  For example,  I brought applesauce pouches, fruit cups and Jimmy Dean Pancake on a Stick and kept the box in the little in-room freezer.  Before we went to the hotel we stopped at the near-by convenience store to get some milk and orange juice.  Don't forget to also bring paper plates and cups!  Eating in the room means you can be at the doors when the park opens at 9- the kids loved being among the handful of first guests in the park.
2.   Buy the Great Wolf Lodge souvenir cups which entitle you to unlimited free refills.  There is one for pop and slurpees with a lid and straw as well as one for beer.  You can use them in the park as well as at all the restaurants inside the Lodge.   T
3.  For lunch you can get a pizza from Hungry Like A Wolf near the entrance and take it to your table inside the park, or get hot dogs, etc. at Buckets which is below the entrance level. 
  Dinner the first night we ate at GWL at Lodges, where the kids really like the macaroni and cheese with bacon and Andouille sausage (although they mostly ate around the Andouille.  The second night we walked across the parking lot to Burger Claim. It was really good and inexpensive.  There are a lot of good reviews on Yelp.
How It Works
  On the main floor, in the stairwells and on the first five floors of the hotel there are a variety of objects that can be activated to light up or play a message or animation by using a wand that you buy/activate at the MagiQuest Marketplace.  Once you visit one of the trees by the main staircase or by the arcade, then you will be asked to find certain items in a specific order to solve levels of the quest until you work your way to the "Boss Level" and defeat the bad guy at the end.
1. Use your phone camera to take a picture of the screen the tree will display of what items you need to find to complete the task. 
2.  Document what you see around you on each floor, either on your phone in the notes app, or bring a notepad and pen to use.  You might think you will remember, but trust me:  the crystals come in several colors, and each color has 3 locations, for slow, medium and fast blinking.  They start to blend together after a while. 
3.  If you really get stumped go ask back at the MagiQuest Marketplace and they will tell you.  We did that a couple of times although we didn't show the kids the answer so they could still have fun figuring out the location with an extra hint from us.
4. Consider sharing a wand among the kids and save it (along with your GWL refillable souvenir cups) in a place where you can find it again when you visit again.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Stuart Weitzman York Wedge VS Corkswoon

  Here is a quick comparison between the Stuart Weitzman York and Corkswoon style wedges.  If you are wondering, they are the same shoe except for the difference in heel height:  the York is about 3" high, while the Corkswoon is about 4 1/2".  They are both great shoes- I wear them with jeans or dresses. Pretty versatile.  I sized down a half size in these shoes (both style), and also added a small Dr. Scholl's pad for the ball of my foot to help them stay on comfortably.   I really like these shoes, although I lean towards the York because they are easier to walk in since they aren't as high!

Corkswoon on the left, York on the right.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


  Here is our Breville Juice Fountain Plus juicer- for almost a month now I have been using it and I couldn't be happier with it!  I use it almost every morning to make juice for my kids and myself, and on Friday nights I juice a pineapple so Mr. Mother of Style and I can have a TGIF Mai Tai :).

  For the kids it is pretty much just fruit juice that they want to drink-  apple, strawberry, pineapple, lime, pear and orange in various combos.  After I make their juice I add kale to mine (and sometimes beets, carrots or cucumber).  One of my favorite combinations is pineapple, kale and lime.

  Preparing the produce for juicing is pretty easy.  Cut the rind of off citrus and pineapple and everything can just go straight into the juice without any extra steps besides cutting it into quarters in order to make it fit into the chute.   Less successful fruits have been blueberries and raspberries.  Raspberries were the worst because they just end up being sprayed back up towards the chute instead of going into the pitcher as juice.  I reserve raspberries for smoothies in a blender ever since that unfortunate juicing experiment!

  As far as vegetables go, the only recommendation I have is about kale: I had better results with baby kale leaves than with the curly pieces that are sold specifically for juicing.  The curly pieces just ended up shredded and stuck to the top of the shield, same as the raspberries.  This doesn't happen with the leaves.

  Clean up is pretty easy and pain-free.  First step, before you juice, line the pulp catcher with a plastic produce bag- when you are finished just lift the bag out.  You can either use the pulp in baking or toss it/compost it.  The most important thing is to not let the dirty juicer sit for more than maybe half an hour- if you clean it promptly you can rinse all the parts in 2 minutes and set it on a towel on the counter to air dry.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kate Middleton Style

photo from

  I really like Kate Middleton's style because she has a knack for choosing items that are flattering and can be worn in different ways and in varied situations.  Not all of what she wears is groundbreaking, true, but I don't think style only has value if it is shocking or unusual.

  Kate wears shoes and clothes that are sometimes similar to what many of us already have in our closets, don't you think?  I think this is why her style is such a hit with lots of people.  A lot of times a particular brand she is shown wearing sells out of the item, but it is a familiar enough "look" that those who want to can find a "repli-Kate" elsewhere in a wide range of prices.  This last factor becomes more important as she begins to wear more high-end designer items or waiting to wear things she has bought until after they are no longer in stores.

  I have recently put together an Amazon store called Kate Middleton Signature Style with clothing, footwear and beauty items that are Kate-related.  Please check it out!

  The sites I like best for Kate related news are:

Friday, January 23, 2015

3 Essentials To Maintain Your Wardrobe

  New stuff is fun to buy, but it can also be enjoyable to spend a little time maintain the things you already have.  Sometimes you might even find that you don't need to replace an item that you thought was toast once it has gotten a little TLC!

#1 Clothing/Shoe Brush

  After becoming a fan of Downton Abbey I read a book called The Butler's Guide to Running the Home and Other Graces by Stanley Ager.  I think it is a book that the writers of Downton Abbey have consulted to get some of the show details right.  Anyway, one of the areas it focuses on is how to clean and maintain shoes and clothing.  Mr. Ager wrote about what types of brushes work best and which direction to brush in, things like that.  I thought it sounded fun, so I bought a Kent brush after looking around online to see what was popular.  Funny enough, about a week later my mom gave me one without knowing I had bought one (I think she was also influenced by Downton Abbey!) so I decided to dedicate one to shoes and the other to clothes. (Kent Brush)

#2 Garment Steamer

I use this all the time: it helps with T-shirts and skirts that have been folded for too long, with pleated tops, a coat that had a bent lapel from being squished in the closet...I really like it.  I bought a hand held model, and when I need to use it I just put what I want to steam onto a hanger and hang it in the shower to hold it up.  (Conair Extreme Steam Fabric Steamer.)
#3 Fabric Defuzzer
This might be a little sad to admit, but this morning I put on this grey sweater and was so happy when I realized it needed to be de-fuzzed.   I bought the defuzzer as a last ditch effort to avoid losing some things in my closet that I like so much:  I defuzzed several sweaters and a fleece North Face jacket.  They all look good as new, and it was kind of fun to lay them out on the bed to work on them while watching the Seahawks.  It was like finding money in a pair of jeans that haven't been worn in while! (Conair Battery Operated Defuzzer.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Hairy Situation

  My hair has been hit hard post-baby this time around.  I have had lots of breakage and shedding and although I think my hair is starting to come back, I can't be certain yet.  I went in to the hair salon for a trim yesterday and my hairdresser suggested that I do two things:  1) Switch to a cream formula heat protectant and 2) Start taking biotin.
  I have been using a Nexxus spray on heat protectant because I think I get more coverage by using that delivery method.  Maybe it's not working though, since my hair looked dry to the hairdresser?  I ordered Alterna's Caviar CC Cream for Hair 10-in-1 Complete Correction yesterday so we will see what that does for me.  Hopefully something since it was $25! 
  Biotin, which is vitamin B7,  is something I have read about before and I have been on the fence about it since I know some people can have adverse reactions to too much of it.  Too much biotin can lead to acne, an increased risk of miscarriage and can interfere with anti-cholesterol medication.  Eek.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

School Lunch: Week 4

Waffle (leftover from breakfast)
Homemade pear sauce
Crème fraiche
Pork sandwich
Cherry tomatoes

Leftover basil salmon with Rice and Shredded cheddar
Pear sauce
Chocolate graham crackers

Leftover Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) and Rice
Granola bar
Baked potato salad

Cheese sandwich, Chocolate graham crackers and Raisins
Vanilla pudding
Grapes and Applesauce

Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich
Yogurt w/ pour in Fruit
Apple juice

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wasteful Packaging

I ordered a lipstick from Nordstrom, which offers three free samples with a beauty purchase.  The warehouse split the order, so I received my lipstick and then a day later the samples showed up.  I have to say, after opening all this up:
This felt rather anti-climatic:
About a month ago I received a T shirt on a hanger inside a box the size of a sheet cake.  I don't understand why they don't use mailing envelopes (or smaller boxes at least) instead of such wasteful packaging like this.  If they don't care about environmental impact, at least they would see the business benefit of reducing their shipping costs? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

School Lunches: Week 3

Broccoli, cheddar cubes,  strawberries, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, blackberries and Doritos
Mini oreos in the center

Cherry tomatoes, cheese crackers and strawberries
Pineapple juice
Hamburger sandwich

My version of a "Pizza Lunchable"
Grand biscuit
Sauce bottle with spaghetti sauce
Mini pepperoni and cheese
Peach cup

Ham sandwich
Mini blueberry muffins
Carrots and cherry tomatoes (my kids are going to be sick of cherry tomatoes soon...)
Cheese crackers

Strawberries, apple slices and vanilla cookies
Blueberry yogurt
Cheese sandwich
Mid-way through this week I ran out of drinks to put in the school lunches, so I asked the girls to buy their drinks in the cafeteria during lunchtime instead. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shrink to Fit Jeans: Not As Easy As It Sounds!

  I like the idea behind a pair of jeans that have been shrunk to fit.  They are something uniquely yours, and no pair turns out exactly the same.  There are lots of tutorials online, and it looks pretty straightforward.  The only thing is, there aren't very many takes on the process from a woman's perspective.  It seems to be pretty much a guy thing.  Why is that?

  After watching a segment about vintage denim on CBS News Sunday Morning I decided I wanted to try my hand at creating my own special pair of jeans.  I read a bunch of stuff online and then went to the store and bought a pair of Levi's 501 shrink to fit jeans two sizes bigger than what I usually buy (because they are going to shrink of course).  I imagined my future self wearing some cool perfectly fit jeans, with naturally-occurring whiskering and creasing that would develop over time around the knees and hips .

  I filled the bathtub with hot water and put the jeans in to soak, then let them drip dry to the point where I could put them on and wear them until they dry.  I think this is a summer only project. 

  But when I put them on after all that effort, I was kinda disappointed.  They were fitted at the waist and hips, but they just don't feel fitted on the thighs.  They feel like bad mom jeans.  I don't think I did anything wrong, it's just the nature of the cut.  I see nice "after" photos of other people's 501s online, but I guess that's the point:  It's more suited to menswear:  not "boyfriend style for her," just boyfriend :).  They are supposed to be looser in the leg.

  I still want a pair of jeans that I could work on to become individualized, so I bought a pair of $9.95 skinny jeans in a dark rinse from H&M that I'm not going to wash for at least 6 months and wear as often as possible to see what happens.  My theory is that since they are inexpensive, the dye isn't going to be as incorporated into the denim, and therefore will become more worn looking overtime, at a quicker pace than other denim might wear down.

  So far there is definite creasing at the ankles, knees and hips.  Nothing faded but it has only been about a month and a half.  I've done some spot cleaning because 1) I spill stuff and 2) I have kids who use me as a human napkin. 

  I like the idea of jeans with some history, we'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

School Lunches: Week 2


Yellow tomatoes, carrots, salami and babybel cheese
Juice pouch
Cool ranch Doritos
Pistachio pudding

Applesauce pouch
Pistachio pudding
Peanut butter & Jelly on a hotdog bun
Babybel cheese
Pineapple juice


Today the girls wanted different fillings for their sandwiches.  One girl has nutella while the other chose turkey and cheddar.  I rounded the lunch out with yellow tomatoes, babybel and carrots.

Blueberry bagel w/ strawberry cream cheese
Grapes, white cheddar sticks, dried apricots and raisins
Chocolate filled cookies
Water w/ Hawaiian Punch powder

Smoked sausage, white cheddar cubes and cherry tomatoes from our yard (yay!)
Gummy bears (TGIF treat)
Water w/ Hawaiian Punch powder
ready to go....

I'm really liking these little rectangular containers.  They are a great size for school lunches.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

School Lunches: Week 1 - Back to School

  The school year has started up again, and like Gene Autry used to sing, "I'm back in the saddle again!"

  Making lunches is part of my morning routine.  Lunchtime is short, and although the kids sometimes buy lunch at school, I like to make their lunch as much as I can because I think it gives them a few extra minutes to eat.

  Here's what I sent for last week (I'll post the previous week each Monday):
First Day of School

Ham and cheese sandwich
Raspberries, apple slices and brie
Cool Ranch Doritos
Capri Sun
 Day Two

Ham sandwich
Yellow tomatoes, carrots and apple slices
Chocolate filled cookies
Day three

Brie and salami
Yellow tomatoes, raspberries, tomatoes
Chocolate filled cookies
Vanilla pudding

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Mini Smorgasbord School Lunch

Gave my girls a little bit of everything today:  Cheese curds, yellow cherry tomatoes, strawberries, blueberry flavored mini rice cakes, dates, and mini marshmallows.  Hopefully I packed it all in tight enough so that stays looking like this by lunch time :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Tips For At-Home Eyebrow Waxing - Sally Hansen Microwaveable Kit

  Because I have a toddler, it's hard to go to a salon for eye brow waxing so I usually do them at home.  Not only is it more convenient, it's a lot less expensive! 
  I've been using the Sally Hansen Microwaveable Eyebrow, Face and Lip Wax Kit for about a year.  Here are a few observations on at-home eye-brow waxing:
1) Make sure the wax has the right consistency before you start.  You can tell this by noticing that at the edges of the jar it starts to get a bit thick, but if you stir it into the center it melts down again.  There's also an indicator on the little spatula included with the kit. 
2) Apply generously.  If you apply it too thinly it will be more challenging to remove, and it might not grab the hairs enough. 
3) Roll the edge up with your fingernail to remove.  Once you have an even "tab" to hold it is easy to pull quickly (in the opposite direction of hair growth) to remove it. 
4) Expect that it might take more than one round of heating to complete the job.  Even after a year of using this I can't ever seem to get my eyebrows done without putting it back for a second warm up in the microwave.
5) Skip the eyebrow stickers. They can give you a basic idea, but they won't stay on for long.
6) Use the oil at the end to remove any stray bits of wax.
7) You might have to replace the jar before you use all the wax.  It gets a little messy after each use, and eventually you might find it easier to just start over with fresh clean wax.
8) Clean up is easier on bathroom surfaces like tile than wood.  If you drip or spill, it comes right off of tile. Wood is a bit more work, but even then it's not hard.  You can always put a baggy with ice on the area that needs cleaning if it doesn't want to come off, and then gently scrape it off with a silicon spatula.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The 5 Worst Places I've Lost My Contact Lenses

   I have a tendency to lose my contact lenses.  It has become a running joke in our family.  No location or circumstance is safe from this happening.  It's always stressful to lose a contact lens, but most of the time I've been pretty lucky to be able to find the lens in the end.

   Usually my contact lens comes out as a result of being hit in the eye:  like, one of my little girls flings their arm out and my face gets in the way, or I inadvertently do it to myself, like the time I was putting on my sunglasses and my aim was off (the "arm" of the sunglass poked me in the eye).  My eyes tend to be a bit dry- maybe that's also a contributing factor??

  At any rate...

 The 5 worst places I've lost a contact lens:

  5.  In the bathroom sink drain.  This search involved using a big wrench to dismantle the P trap.

  4.  In my car.  This was an eye-opener for how much the car needed vacuuming.

  3.  In my hair.  ...Seriously? 

  2.  At the Children's Museum.  Time challenge, kids:  Find the lens before it gets crushed!

 1.  On the Peter Pan ride in Disneyland.  All the times I had lost my contact lens before were just a warm up for this moment.  For those who aren't familiar with it, The Peter Pan ride is one of the darkest and shortest rides in the Park. When I finally found the contact lens perched on my shirt just as we were approaching the exit, it was truly the Happiest Place on Earth!