Destination: Sandusky, Ohio

For October, Marco ended up having a more flexible schedule due to this month’s rotation which we found perfect since it’s Cassie’s birth month and we’re also celebrating our 4th civil wedding anniversary so it was the most perfect time to schedule a mini-vacation. They had a bunch of deals for Great Wold Lodge all over the US and it just so happened that one of the cheapest ones they had was in Sandusky, Ohio which was a 3.5-hour drive. They actually had a closer one in Mason, Ohio which was just a 2.5 hour drive from Muncie but they were a bit more expensive so we went with the cheaper one, plus we didn’t really mind the hour difference so off to Sandusky we went.

Day 1

Address to Google: Great Wolf Lodge- Sandusky; 4600 Milan Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

Marco decided to drive and we didn’t even have to make any pit stops, we didn’t need gas, we had food in the car and no one had to pee so we made it in good time. Check-in time is usually at 4pm but if you do check-in earlier and there are rooms available they just give it to you on the spot and if not you can still enjoy the amenities (water park, restaurants, etc.) while waiting to avail of your room. In our case there were rooms available so we were already checked in at 12:30 noon time.

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View from the outside.

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Check in counter at the Great Wolf Lodge-Sandusky.

This had to be one of the easiest check-ins I’ve ever done in my entire life. They asked for my driver’s license, the credit card that I used to make the reservations and they asked me if I had any room preference. They also briefly explained the halloween activities they had for the entire October and handed me keys to my room and they also handed Cassie complementary fox ears for the halloween festivities and that was it. Easy peasy.

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I think a photo of this bear chair was a must. haha.

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The grand fireplace all set up for Howl-o-ween.

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…And the infamous giant spider balloon was a sight to behold, especially for Cassie.

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Making friends with hags and witches alike. 😀

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Admiring the jack-o-lanterns, this is where they hold the storybook time every night.

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The room was a decent size considering what we paid for, I really think that was a steal. They had 2 queen sized beds, a living room area, a breakfast nook and complementary bottles of water, toiletries (the standard) and chocolates (I’m guessing due to the halloween event)

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Cassie saw the waterpark from the lobby window and “demanded” that we swim right away. We swam the entire afternoon until it was Trick or Treat time. And since I’m pregnant and can hardly move my daughter automatically clung to dear daddy and wouldn’t let go of him. She wouldn’t even hold my hand, she just wanted her daddy. Haha. After 2-3 hours of swimming we headed back to the room to freshen up and change into our costumes.

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We try to make trick or treating a family affair and I’m just one of those wives blessed with a husband who’s down for anything. Just taking the time to appreciate Marco, not every daddy would dress up for the little ones but this one did and he didn’t complain either. I think we did fine considering our costumes were last minute.

Yo-ho-ho a pirates life for us.

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The staff at Great Wolf Lodge handed out their own Howl-o-ween plastic bags for trick or treating so you don’t have to bring your own basket. I’d advise for you to bring costumes for the little ones although its not mandatory, I just think it makes the whole experience more fun. They do this every night so If you’re one of those moms who have fun dressing up your kids (like I do) you can even bring one costume per night.

They had mini stations or a trail that you follow for your treats and if you happen to get lost, the staff can easily direct you to the next station. You can also have fun in the mini photo booth they set up before or after you trick or treat.

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Cassie was completely out after that so we skipped out on story book time and enjoyed a peaceful dinner at Berardi’s Family Kitchen, a Sandusky local restaurant. You cannot miss this place when you are in town and their Spinach Artichoke Dip is to die-for, probably one of the best I’ve ever had.

Address to Google: Berardi’s Family Kitchen; 1019 W Perkins Ave, Sandusky, OH 44870

Day 2

A long day, that was what it felt like yesterday! I think the drive, the swimming and the howl-o-ween activities cleaned us out so we decided to sleep in. Had breakfast care of last night’s left overs and some sausages for Cassie, we brought from home.

Oh yeah, for families on a budget and aren’t willing to spend so much on food, bringing microwaveables and your own drinks would be a good idea since they have their own microwave and refrigerator in the rooms.

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Since we don’t have Chipotle in Muncie and Marco knew that I was craving for it, he suggested to have lunch there. It was only a 5 minute drive from Great Wolf Lodge. Happy Tummies.

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We took Cassie to the arcade after lunch but it wasn’t very toddler-friendly, I mean sure she enjoyed the lights and the sounds but there literally was just one ride in that place and it was that bus so she just kept going back on it.

Since we spent $10 on the card, Marco decided to play the bowling game, the Iceball FX and topped the score 3x. Apparently when you do that, you end up getting 250 tickets so he got that times three. I don’t think he’s won that much so we were all pretty excited and Cassie was more than happy to pick a prize from the prize section. She ended up getting a Marshall plush from Paw Patrol, once again daddy was her hero.

After the arcade, Marco and Cassie went swimming and I had to run to the post office to run errands. I swam with them as soon as I got back and just like yesterday Cassie was soooo exhausted that she missed out on her trick or treat. We had early dinner and Marco scouted the place for another tummy adventure.

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Marco has been wanting to try this Vietnamese restaurant down the road but I wasn’t feeling it yesterday. Today I gave in to his request and I’m so glad I did.

We had really good spring rolls for appetizer and I would’ve eaten more if I didn’t have a main course to go. He got to order his Pho and I got to order the Banh Mi that I haven’t had in a long time and Cassie had her fries and nuggets that we got from a McDonald’s drive thru, everyone was happy. Hahaha.

Address to Google: Mekong; 4318 Milan Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

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We didn’t make it to story book time but we still got to change Cassie in her Pjs to take a picture with Oliver the raccoon. They usually have the characters of Great Wolf Lodge come out after the story for a photo op. We were actually last in line.

Day 3

Today’s agenda was to check out early and head to the Merry-Go-Round Museum, spend a few hours there and have lunch somewhere before driving home. I’ve been dying to check this museum out just because I fancy old school carousels and want to learn more about the history, they also had good ratings.

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Address to Google: Merry-go-round Museum; 301 Jackson St, Sandusky, OH 44870

…And of all the days we decided to come, they were closed for renovation. They’ve actually been closed for improvements with their displays but I checked their website and it said that they were done with it. I’m guessing they extended because they were going to open 2 days from now. I was really upset but I guess its another reason to come and visit Sandusky again.

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After taking photos across the museum (just because they had a flower garden and a fountain that Cassie would have enjoyed if it weren’t raining like crazy), Marco and I decided to just go visit the Marblehead Lighthouse 30 minutes away to make up for this trip disappointment.

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On the way there we spotted Toft Dairy Ice Cream Parlor and I remember reading that it was Ohio’s Oldest Dairy and a must-visit when you’re in town, as soon as we walked in they did have that sign. And the ratings were right, they’re truly a must-visit and you can’t not have their Butter Pecan ice cream.

By the way, they do have big servings and its even bigger in a cup than on a cone. (this coming from my husband who can eat a lot of ice cream, haha)

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I cant believe Cassie fell asleep again, she always does when its sight-seeing. I’m pretty sure she would have wanted to explore the place like she usually does but hey, at least Marco and I got to enjoy the view peacefully with no crazy running toddler. Haha. The museum and the light house was closed but at least the scenery was so worth it, besides I don’t think I’ capable of going up those 70+ lighthouse steps being pregnant and all.

Address to Google: Marblehead Light; 10 Lighthouse Dr, Marblehead, OH 43440

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For lunch we came across this place called Netty’s Famous Chili Dogs and Marco just knew that he wanted to eat there so after checking out Marblehead light, we came back only to find out they only accepted cash and we had none. Of course we went to the nearest ATM to withdraw so we could still have those chili dogs. They were cheap and they were good and they lasted us our entire drive back home.

And you know what, they were a few days away from closing for the season coz apparently this business is only open from March to October. We were lucky enough to make it and we wouldn’t have if the Merry-go-round Museum was open so I guess everything really DOES happen for a reason. Toft’s the Lighthouse and the chili dogs was a more than enough consolation.

Address to Google: 9410 E Harbor Rd, Lakeside Marblehead, OH 43440

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To wrap up our trip, Marco allowed me to stop by the Bergman Orchards to pick up pumpkins for our front porch. They were reasonably priced and of course cheaper than the supermarket pumpkins. I wanted to go crazy over those white and pastel colored ones but opted to get the smaller ones instead. We just moved into our house and I promised him I wouldn’t go crazy spending on home decorations all at once so I compromised by just getting a few. I can go all out next year, hopefully.

And that sums up our trip to Sandusky, Ohio. I hope y’all have a grand time when you go visit coz we sure had a blast during this road trip.

~Rhea

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Houston Local: Downtown Houston Graffiti Art (Part I)

For months now we’ve planned to visit Downtown Houston to visit the graffiti art within the city but for some reason something always comes up and we end up postponing our plans for another day. In a way a there’s a slight urgency to see these outdoor artwork  because some of them aren’t permanently there and what I mean by that is sometimes artists change their work and it gets replaced by something else so while they’re there its best to take advantage of it.

Today, my husband woke up and suggested to randomly visit downtown so we could finally see some of Houston’s graffiti art work. We figured since we’re moving to Indiana in a few months, now would be a best time to explore Houston so we headed to Halal Guys first for lunch since we’ve been craving it for days now and the location we wanted to go to was approximately 7 minutes away from it so that worked out perfectly fine.

Here are some photos that we took during our visit. For those who are interested to see these murals here’s an address to put in your GPS:

1503 Chartres St., Houston, Texas 77003

I just wish there was someone who could tell us the name of these pieces. Anyone knowledgeable? Shoot me an email or comment down below. I’d love to recognize the artists and their artwork. Thanks!

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Oh, btw today is the First Day of Spring. How apt that our day turned out to be full of life and full of colors, just like spring. Happy First Day of Spring, everyone!

~Rhea

Houston Local: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

It always amuses me when people say “I’m bored”; I feel like theres so many things to do in this life that even our time on this earth would not be enough. It might be just a matter of perspective and I’m trying to raise Cassie to see things the way Marco and I see it. As much as my little family and I would like to travel and go on a lot of adventures I truly believe that not all adventures entail money (well, maybe gas money), that’s when being resourceful kicks in.

Unconsciously, I’ve been on a mission to prove my point, locally this community has a lot of things to offer and its a matter of learning how to take advantage of it. We’ve visited the Houston zoo for free but you’d have to know that they do that mostly on the first Tuesday of each month, Thursdays are usually free admission days for museums especially the Children’s museum where I’d like to take Cassie soon and then there’s one and a million parks here in Houston and the near outskirts that are waiting to be explored.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was a gem that we discovered 17 minutes away from home. It’s a local Hindu temple that opens their doors to visitors even those of different religion and their architectural construct does not fall short from what India is known for. I could go on and on about our visit to the temple but I’ll let the pictures speak for itself.

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The first photo we took as soon as we entered the premises, I had to tell him to stop acting all goofy since we were in a temple and all

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I though that the temple would be a good place to take pictures of Cassie but she fell asleep right before entering the gates

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Today’s #OOTD

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The fountains opposite side from where we entered

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Steps going up to the Mandir (temple), no photographs and no shoes allowed beyond this point

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Had to check out the intricate details up close, that college class I took on India really taught me to appreciate not only their architecture but everything else that’s embedded in their culture

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Coming out of the mandir. The walls, the ceilings, the floor and everything else was breathtaking, if only we cold’ve taken pictures inside.

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It does make a beautiful background thus acquiring that unofficial nickname of “Houston’s mini Taj Mahal”

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…he just had to pose that way. Ugh

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The temple vicinity is very friendly to visitors, they have signs and guides all over the place

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Family photo by the structure across the mandir, thanks to a friendly temple-goer who randomly offered to take our picture

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Color pop against the plain white details. Can’t get enough of these carvings.

I was a bit disappointed that Cassie slept the entire time because I wanted her to explore the grounds and run around to check out the fountains but on the other hand I’m glad she slept so Marco and I could appreciate the place without any crazy distractions, haha. We can always bring Cassie  back here next time. If you’re a Houston local, this place is a must-see but before you come visit please check their website and familiarize with their rules as this is a sacred place to them and a place of worship. Before you leave the area, please visit their gift shop, make a donation or try their daily vegetarian lunch buffet (we have yet to do that). Oh yeah, I hear that they light up the temple at night and it looks magical, you should definitely drive by to check it out.

Well, there you go…that’s another thing to do here in Houston. I don’t think this place will ever bore me. Enjoy!

~Rhea

#BOHOLIVIA

I’ve been a sucker for themed parties for as long as I can remember and it amazes me how much fun I have with it even as an adult. You see me blog about someone else’s party and that’s just me appreciating the turn out of the celebration. To other people parties are just parties but it does take a lot of love, time, effort and creativity to pull off something like this especially here in the US where hiring party planners are a bit out of the budget.

So when you see me go all-out on a themed party, that’s just me showing my appreciation. It doesn’t faze me that people think I’m “feeling” the theme too much especially when it’s not my party. They took the time to prepare for it, at least take the time to look prepared and besides dressing up is soooo much fun. I hope Cassie grows up and sees it the way I do.

Here are some snippets of Olivia’s 1st Birthday Party. #Boholivia

And NO Cacay, it’s not #Bohol-ivia, its #Boho-livia. Haha.

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Our Bohemian flatlay before attending Olivia’s 1st Birthday. #Boholivia

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Olivia’s teepee set up greeting you as you enter the venue

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Her boho themed birthday giveaways. Feathers galore.

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Of feathers and teepees

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Cassie clearly enjoying the set up already

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Olivia’s cake smash area

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How cute, a cactus piñata!

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Olivia’s Dessert Table

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The cake—Keeping it boho chic and boho classy. 😀

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Happy 1st Birthday Olivia and Happy 1st year as parents Ann and Charles!

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Cassie and Daddy

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Boho-lovin Mommy and Cassie

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We couldn’t resist taking a picture even before the birthday girl arrived. Good job on the set up, geng!

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The Almacens and the Mendezonas


Here’s what Cassie wore:

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(ROMPER: floral; Sparrow Collective/ HEADBAND: boho feather headband; Pip and Tumbleweed/ SOCKS: gray knee high fox socks; Amazon/ MOCCASINS: pink fringe; Amazon)

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  And just coz it’s been awhile since I last did an OOTD. Here’s one just for the heck of it.

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Selfieeeee

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(DRESS: velvet rose pink dress, Rue 21/ SANDALS: cream colored high knee gladiators; Charlotte Russe/ HAT: maroon fedora; Icing/ SUNGLASSES: round frames/ SCARF: thrifted from the Philippines/ CHOKER: nude florals; thrifted from the Philippines)

~Rhea

Cassie’s First Christmas

Christmas would have to be my most favorite Holiday and Holy day of the year, everyones noticeably nicer and its an excuse to be extra generous. I like giving, I like the idea of thinking of those special people in our lives and getting them something that they might want or appreciate and that feeling seems to be aggravated when you’re a parent. I now understand the feeling of wanting to provide your child with everything she needs or wants for that matter and my daughter is barely 2 months old.

This is our first Christmas with my daughter and it just so happened that its also our first Christmas back with my family ever since Marco and I got married so my family was more than ecstatic to have us especially Cassie. For Cassie’s first Christmas, mom and I decided to go with “Candy Canes” as our theme for this year just so the decorations would be aesthetically pleasing to Cassie’s eye. Honestly, we could have put up anything and the lights would have been enough to keep her interested . I wish I took close-up photos of the tree, mom and I filled it up with vintage Christmas toy decorations that we got from a Goodwill store and we added Cassie’s hand print ornament to commemorate her first Christmas (Thanks mami for the kit!).

On Christmas Eve, I dressed up Cassie extra early so I’d have time to look decent and do last minute preparations for Nochebuena. We went to the 8:30 pm mass at St. Angela Merici and Cassie was nice enough to sleep through it, she didn’t give us any trouble at all. Merry 1st Christmas langga!

What Cassie Wore: 

(DRESS: Amazon.com/ CARDIGAN: Carter’s/ SHOES: The Children’s Place/ SOCKS and HEADBAND: Little Me)

What Mommy Wore:

(TOP: Image/ SKIRT: Cruella and Co./ CLUTCH: Plato’s Closet/ SHOES: Nine West)

My DIY peppermint inspired wreath

Cassie’s hand print

Thanks Rosa for Cassie’s Christmas shoes, they remind me so much of Dorothy’s from Wizard of Oz.

Our Dessert Table

Saying grace before Nochebuena

3 generations

I woke her up for the family Christmas photo and she wasn’t too happy about it

Obligatory Christmas Wacky Pose

More family photos

Opening of gifts at the Ramas Residence

Cassie’s Christmas Haul, we had neighbors and close friends dropping gifts for her. Awww…thanks so much for thinking of our baby girl this Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Good Night from Santa’s little helper.

~Rhea