Playhouse Halloween Makeover | Halloween Decor on a Budget from DOLLAR TREE

*DISCLOSURE:  This post is NOT in anyway sponsored by Dollar Tree.

The kids playhouse has been due for a fresh coat of paint but since we were out for the most part of summer, we never got around to painting it. I figured in it’s current “grungy” state, we might as well start decorating it for Halloween. If you’ve been following us for awhile you know how much we try to enjoy this season with all the opportunities to play pretend and dress up. Well, this year we decided to “dress up” the playhouse as well but challenged ourselves to decorate the playhouse with a $25 budget and we all know shopping at the dollar store is probably the only way to get this challenge done so the kids and I headed to our local Dollar Tree and this is what we ended up getting.

4 Halloween Themed Flower Stems

2 2-pack glittery spiders

2 Black Creepy Cloth

2 White Creepy Cloth

2 Hanging Ghosts

1 BEWARE sign

1 spider web with spider decor

2 rubber rats

2 styrofoam Pumpkins

2 styrofoam tombstones

2 plastic skulls

2 plastic skull fence

1 cauldron pail

The talking doorbell was on clearance from BIG LOTS post Halloween from two years ago. I bought it for less than $5.

Here’s the BEFORE and AFTER for comparison.

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BEFORE

AFTER

Here are the back details of the house 🙂

Xavi and Cassie enjoying their mini haunted house

I’m sure we could have gotten more stuff from the Dollar Tree since they had a lot to offer like string lights shaped like skulls, pumpkins and bats, giant spiders, clip-on bats, etc. but a challenge is a challenge besides I’d like to think less is more.

How did we do with the 25-dollar challenge? Not bad right? I know Halloween is still a ways to go but I hope this inspires you and your kids to decorate your cubby house this Halloween season. Enjoy!

~Rhea

Destination: Mammoth Cave/ Bowling Green, Kentucky

March 26 – 27, 2019

With Marco finishing his second year of residency, we found out he still had 2 weeks worth of vacation that was gonna go to waste if he didn’t use it so we planned a quick getaway and ended up planning a road trip with Atlanta, Georgia as our last stop. We figured if we drive through Kentucky, Tennessee then Georgia we could cross those three states out of our bucket list. So our first stop was Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. From where we live in Indiana, it was a 4 hour drive without the stops and the accidents, we actually made it in good time and decided to have a decent meal with the kids before our trip to the cave. Of course we decided to have our super late lunch at KFC- Kentucky Fried Chicken, we wanted to see if there was something special with their chicken since KFC originated in this state but unsurprisingly the chicken tasted the same, we still loved it though ( although personally I prefer the chicken in KFC-Philippines). The KFC we ate in was right outside the Mammoth Cave National Park and as soon as we were done we headed to the visitor center.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Longest cave system known in the world

Just like anyone with kids, I bet you too have a lot of questions about bringing them on a cave tour and just to answer some of those, I’m posting some answers in FAQ form. Feel free to send me a direct message if you want clarifications or if you have additional questions.

Can you do a cave tour with kids?

Yes, you may. I personally reached out to Mammoth Cave National Park since the information on their website was a bit vague and a Park ranger returned my call and confirmed that they do have kid-friendly tours, you can even bring your baby if you’re willing to. For reference Cassie is 3 y.o and Xavi is 15 months.

Can you purchase tickets on the spot?

In theory, you can although they do advice you to purchase them before hand as they tend to get sold out especially during the peak seasons like spring break and summer.

Which tour is kid-friendly?

They have a list of the tours with detailed descriptions, level of difficulty and duration of tour, the one we took was the HISTORIC TOUR and it is friendly for kids that are around Cassie and Xavi’s age. The specific tour we got was a 2-mile hike inside a cave that would last us an estimate of 2 hours.

Can you bring a stroller? Baby carrier?

No, you cannot bring a stroller and yes you may bring a baby carrier, although they don’t allow any backpacks or hiking carriers that go above your head (or was it shoulders) just verify with the visitor center but this is actually very generous of them considering that when I brought the kids to a cave tour at Sequoia National Park, they wouldn’t allow the baby carrier unless it was one of those full cloth slings because they were scared that the plastic would rub against the walls, damaging them for good. More information on the website, I’m just going with what I was told.

 

So here’s our experience in a nutshell— we picked up our tickets at the visitor center ($34 for me and Marco, the kids were free) and since we were a bit early we toured the area and visited the souvenir shops to get our souvenir magnets.

30 minutes before our tour, which was the last tour for the day (3:15 pm), we stayed by the assigned meet up place until everyone gathered. There was a good 100 people on there, the park ranger or guide gave us instructions and briefed us on what we should be expecting for this tour.

We walked a few minutes towards the entrance of the cave and 10 minutes into the hike Cassie fell asleep, Xavi was already asleep even before we entered the cave, I’m thinking the cold temperature might have lulled them to sleep as they were already tired prior to that.

I wish I could say we took a lot of decent pictures but we were busy trying to keep up with the group while carrying both kids; Marco had Cassie in a the baby carrier and I had Xavi strapped on to me in a sling. The pathways are mostly paved and at one point even spacious, you can walk through comfortably. Most of the stairs had railings too so it was easier to make our way down.

Cassie woke up by the time we reached Fat Man’s Misery which was a good thing coz Marco would have had a difficult time zigzagging through that passage way with her strapped in front of him, she walked in between us and had no problem at all. I did pretty okay even with Xavi strapped in front of me and had no problem when the passage transitioned to Tall Man’s Misery, can I just say I love being small and short. Haha.

There was a short break in between where they gathered everyone and we all sat on benches, they briefed us that the next thing we were about to do was climb 150-155 steps straight.

I know that may sound a lot but the guides are very patient and accommodating and considering that Xavi was still asleep in front of me, I did fine. Cassie walked with Marco all the way up. Side note: if you have a fear of heights, I suggest you DO NOT look down. Overall, the tour was worth it even when the kids were dead weight while we were hiking, there were interesting facts that I learned but will not be mentioning them on here as not to spoil it for y’all if you plan to go. I know, I get a lot of ‘advice’ online from those who have done the tour to NOT bring kids this young but honestly it was an experience that we did as a family even if they won’t be remembering any of it, there was a sense of achievement in our part as parents, besides we’re all about doing things together, haha.

We made it! Xavi’s face says he doesn’t care.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson

Address: 535 Wall Street, Bowling Green, KY 42104

So just to mention, all of our hotels on this trip were pretty light on the budget. We made sure they were comfortable, cheap and had free breakfast since most of our activities involved being out and about anyway. For this hotel, they accidentally gave us the handicap accessible room which was fine for the most part. It was spacious and had a receiving room, it had one queen size bed but the sofa was a sofa bed so the kids ended up sleeping there. The bathroom was spacious as well but it didn’t have a bath tub since it was wheel chair friendly so that still worked for me and my kids.

Los Mariachis Mexican Restaurant

For some reason we were craving for Mexican food in Kentucky, weird I know but cravings have to be satisfied so thank God there was a decent one close to our hotel. The place was spacious so and the colorful tables and chairs are a sight to see. Food was great as the reviews online mentioned and the servings were big, can I just add that I enjoyed my frozen margarita immensely. 🙂

National Corvette Museum

Address: 350 Corvette Dr, Bowling Green, KY 42101

Marco was actually surprised when I suggested to visit this museum, he knows I’m not really into cars but the idea that this supercar was made and assembled right here in Bowling Green, Kentucky intrigued me. Of course I could just post a bunch of photos of different types of Corvettes through the years but I guess what intrigued me most was the fact that we could visit the actual site of the sink hole that happened right here in this museum and it actually swallowed a bunch of these expensive cars. They actually have a whole area dedicated to it.

And I just have to say they have a note-worthy KidZone at the museum, even adults might actually enjoy it. It’s very interactive, kids can pretend to be mechanics and check up the car or you can gas it up or even change the tires among many other things, Cassie and Xavi had so much fun that we might have stayed there for more than 15 minutes.

This is where they give you different perspectives on the ‘Corvette Cave In’, they show you actual footage of the event and show you how the whole ‘Sinkhole Experience’ happened. They also show you what kind of Corvettes were included and the history behind those cars.

If we weren’t in a hurry to head to the next state, we would’ve stayed there longer but we were so off to Nashville, Tennessee we go. Till next time Kentucky!

~Rhea

Easter Basket Ideas 2019: Toddler Girl & Boy

Heads up: This year’s Boy/ Girl Easter basket ideas are more or less going to be similar just coz I try to be fair when it comes to giving my kids stuff so forgive me if the options are limited. Also the ideas I put on here are more or less the items I have in Cassie and Xavi’s Easter baskets, the list might be missing some items that I decided not to put on here and some I might have already given them prior to Easter just coz this mommy couldn’t say ‘No’ but most of these items I’ve tried and tested so I do recommend them. This post is NOT SPONSORED in any way.

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1.  Petits Et Wooden Car Plate ||

Last year, I got Cassie a wooden ducky plate (her choosing) and it was a hit so I’m getting Xavi his own wooden plate so they can stop fighting over it.

2. Moonlite Storybook ||

We got this as a gift for Christmas and they can’t seem to get enough of it so I ordered more stories for the mobile projector. For the Disney lovers, they already have Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh stories too.

3. Blessed Friends Forever Jesus Pillows ||

If you’re Catholic or Christian I guess it wouldn’t hurt to remember the real reason for our Easter Celebration, instead of those cute little bunny plushies (that I always fall for) , why not have a Jesus huggy-pillow for your kids. They also have ‘Saint Buddies’ on there, if you want to check them out.

4. Baby Bench Cologne- Jellybean ||

You probably haven’t heard of this brand just because its a local Filipino brand but I swear this line of baby cologne is so good and is gentle on kids. I’ve used it on mine and they ALWAYS get compliments considering that there were times when I didn’t bathe them. (hahaha). But then again fragrance is subjective, you might want to check them out yourself and you would probably find them in your nearest Asian Grocery (the big ones).

5. Little People Big Dreams Book (Muhammad Ali) ||

I’m happy to see that this series added boys/ men’s life stories to their collection. Its always a good read when its something that can serve as an inspiration or motivation to my kids.

6. Hearth and Hand Wooden Bowling Set ||

This target brand has come up with fun and aesthetically pleasing wooden toys for kids ever since it came out and as usual this season they didn’t disappoint.This is, bar none, the cutest bowling set I’ve ever seen.

7. Native Shoes ||

We got ours recently from a thrift shop for $3.50 but these pair of shoes are soooo worth it. They’re comfy and they stay on for the most part unless your kid has something against shoes. They’re also perfect for spring and summer.

8. Ducky Street Kid Friendly Tattoos ||

We’ve tried them personally and my kids have not gotten any allergic reaction to them, they have the cutest designs both for girls and boys and they last longer than stickers.

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1. Hunter Boots ||

Rain or shine or snow these pair of boots have lasted Cassie so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ll keep seeing this in other bloggers’ ‘ Easter Basket Ideas’ for years to come because they’re really comfortable and durable. I have my own pair and I love them!

2. Ducky Street Kid Friendly Tattoos ||

Mermaids, Unicorns and Llamacorns—yep, Llama-Unicorns, Llamacorns! Did I mention that you can easily take them off if you wanted to? Just grab a wet wash cloth and rub gently while your kids take a bath.

3. Moonlite Storybook (Rose Gold) ||

If you have a girl and you love this too, you might want to know that they have a Rose Gold option now. I don’t need convincing since I am a big fan of ‘Rose Gold’ myself.

4. Baby Bench Cologne- Bubblegum ||

Although the scent says Bubble Gum please don’t expect the actual cologne to smell like bubble gum, this has a mild floral scent to it but we’ve used this for years and just like the ‘ Jellybean’ one Cassie’s gotten the ‘ She smells so good’ compliment every single time. It also lasts the entire day.

5. Flower Sunglasses ||

The girls will look so cute in these and they will be rockin this during summer, I will link one that I found on amazon for cheap but the one I got Cassie was cheaper and I got it from Target’s dollar section.

6. Basketweave shoulder bag ||

The link on here is not the exact one that I got Cassie, I got hers from Crazy 8 for less than $10 since all the Crazy 8 stores are closing but can we all just agree that these basket weave shoulder bags are the cutest.

7. Little People Big Dreams Book (Mother Teresa) ||

I’ve  been waiting for this book to come out just coz Mother Teresa has been an inspiration especially to a lot of Catholics, I would want my daughter to know about her and I wouldn’t mind if she picked her as a role model.

8. Hearth and Hand Gardening Set Caddy ||

From, kitchens to doll houses and farm houses, Hearth and Hand creates the cutest pretend play sets. They don’t just make the kids fall in love with their toys, even the moms are crazy about them and this is no exception. I don’t do gardening but this caddy will spark my interest.

 

~Rhea

 

Welcoming 2019 with a BIG SMILE…

…and a LOT of LOVE.

*DISCLOSURE: I RECEIVED THESE PRODUCTS COMPLIMENTARY FOR REVIEW PURPOSES. ALL THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

This time of the year is probably the busiest—holiday travels, christmas shopping, family get togethers and endless holiday parties. I don’t know about you but for me, its also the time when this mama gets to drink just coz we end up going to two (sometimes even three) parties a day. You just can’t say no to ‘Holiday Cheers’ (pun intended) and red wine is my alcohol of choice so I guess you can say welcoming the new year with my red wine stained teeth is inevitable (and yes, I’m still an avid coffee drinker so you can add those stains on there). Yikes!

I’m BIG on New Years resolutions but no way am I making ‘Teeth Whitening’ as part of that list, why wait for the new year when these stains can be addressed right now. A few months ago, I was blessed enough to come across SMILE BRILLIANT and their at-home-teeth whitening customized trays, before that I would have never considered whitening my teeth (at home) for a couple of reasons I’m stating below:

#1. As a stay at home mom, I don’t have the TIME to do it. I cannot afford countless trips to the dentist especially with two children tagging along. It is just tedious.

#2. Teeth whitening (when professionally done or when done right) is EXPENSIVE. I’m not about to spend hundreds of dollars for something I know I will be staining again. #coffeemom

#3. I was SKEPTICAL. Let’s face it, any procedure that’s normally done at a professional setting and is now presented to you as something that can be done at home would leave you doubtful.

I had a LOT of questions concerning the product especially regarding teeth sensitivity and it being breast feeding friendly since I’m still currently nursing Xavi so it was a relief to come across their detailed FAQs, and that is how I got convinced to try it out.You can read about my at-home-teeth whitening journey with Smile Brilliant in here. Currently I am working on my refills of whitening gels making sure that me and my pearly whites are ready to take on 2019.

 This year has been quite a year with the coming of my second born and me learning to embrace the struggles and the perks of being a Stay-at-Home mom but the most important thing I’ve learned is to ‘ALWAYS LEAVE SOME FOR YOURSELF’, I know as mothers it is our instinct to put our children and family first but we need to take care of ourselves so we don’t burn out and we can continue to take care of them.  Spoil yourself a bit, get a haircut, have your nails done, get a wax, get your teeth whitened— I don’t know but the point is show yourself some love.

Before and After Results

To celebrate motherhood and the New Year, I’ve partnered with Smile Brilliant to give one lucky winner a FREE Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit, just click on the link below:

SMILE BRILLIANT GIVEAWAY

or

If you want to purchase the kit right away here’s a 15% off coupon code that you can use upon check out. Coupon: socialtumbleweed15.

  • Giveaway is for a $149 Smile Brilliant credit and will run for 2 weeks (after blog post date). It is open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents.

Happy New Year everyone and Good luck!

~Rhea

At Home Teeth Whitening: On the Go

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I have always been about plans and schedules even before I became a mom, it just made my life so much easier (at that time anyway).  I literally lived off routines and Plan Bs—coffee at work early in the morning, workout as soon as I get home, wine night with the girls on Thursdays, packing a month in advance before my travels, 9 am mass with family on Sundays and if we don’t make it we go to the 11 am mass. It felt good to be in control of things, it seemed that I had everything figured out but that was only good to a certain extent. Anything unexpected would get me stressed; a little deviation from the plan I would get stressed so imagine how it was the first time I became a mom. I felt like nothing went according to plan and it was driving me crazy, I wasn’t in control anymore.

A lot has happened since then and I’ve learned to accept my new norm, I now am a proud Stay-at-home mom of two wonderful kids and I’ve embraced the uncertainties with my Cassie and Xavi. Sure, I try to somewhat create a routine at home but with a toddler and a baby things are VERY unpredictable. Trips to the gym, the parlor, the salon, the doctor and the dentist have to be carefully planned, for the most part I’ve learned to just do my own nails and master the art of doing the messy bun, I exercise at home with those home video workouts,I take my kids to my doctors appointments and the dentist—well, I normally just wait for another trip to the Philippines (where I am from) and I have everything done over there from cleaning, fillings and even a root canal just coz its cheaper. Let’s just say I have a new found appreciation for home services.

I’m a wine lover, I appreciate tea and just like most moms, coffee is life. I never even thought of teeth stains until Smile Brilliant reached out to me, let’s just say teeth Whitening hasn’t been on my list of priorities just coz those require trips to the dentist, they cost a lot and I’m not even sure if our dental insurance covers it. Before getting married, I tried a bunch of teeth whitening products in the past like toothpaste, whitening strips and a teeth whitening pen-like brush my old boss gave  to me but they had minimal results, since then I’ve been skeptical.

Before starting the whitening process with Smile Brilliant I had a bunch of concerns mainly with:
✔️ teeth sensitivity
✔️ teeth structure (I have a deep bite and I just had a tooth taken out)
✔️ nursing/breast feeding

…and Smile Brilliant addressed all of those concerns by showing me their FAQs and providing me with extra information. So I’ve learned that teeth sensitivity is a possibility in the process just coz the teeth’s pores need to be opened to remove the stains and the sensitivity will vary per person; sometimes you’ll feel it  and sometimes you won’t. As for my concern with my teeth structure, because of SMILE BRILLIANT’s customized trays I am assured that the teeth whitening product will cover areas in my mouth that are hard to reach. There are also a lot of advice against using any teeth whitening product while pregnant or nursing but I was able to get a “GO” signal from my dentist, apparently there haven’t been enough studies to conclude that the process is safe for those women so just to be on the safe side they recommend that you defer from using it until the pregnancy is over.

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The process was very simple really, SMILE BRILLIANT came up with a very precise step by step that’s very user friendly. They make you fill up a short dental history questionnaire, you send it back to them and they send you your molding kit in return. Follow the instructions and send your teeth molds in the envelope that they provided and a week after, TA-DA you get your own personalized trays to use for the teeth whitening process. Since my trays arrived, my kids and I have been traveling to visit family from Indiana to Houston to LA and its unbelievable how convenient it is to carry my kit around. I’ve packed it with my toiletries, carried it in my purse and placed it in my baby’s diaper bag on the plane. It’s been a month since I started using SMILE BRILLIANT and it continues to impress me just because you literally see the results when you look at the mirror, the gradual change is evident. Even my husband noticed that my teeth were a few shades lighter the first few days I used it and when it comes to products like these, it really is all about the RESULTS.

It’s comforting to know that even as a stay-at-home mom, I am able to rock my pearly whites without having to drop everything that I’m doing because I can do it in the comforts of my own home, for a fraction of the price the dentist’s charging you.

Here’s a side by side BEFORE and AFTER comparison and just because I want you to see the results for yourself, I have partnered with Smile Brilliant to give one lucky winner a FREE Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Kit, just click on the link below:

SMILE BRILLIANT GIVEAWAY

or

If you want to purchase the kit right away here’s a 15% off coupon code that you can use upon check out. Coupon: socialtumbleweed15.

  • Giveaway is for a $149 Smile Brilliant credit and will run for 2 weeks (after blog post date). It is open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents.

There you have it, I hope this review was somewhat helpful to those of you seriously considering “at home teeth whitening”. Enjoy the week ahead of you and smile away!

~Rhea

 Professional Teeth Whitening