Fun | Travel

5 Beautiful Seattle Day Hikes for Beginners

By on June 3, 2019

My husband and I got away for our 20th Anniversary to Seattle. When we arrived at our Airbnb, we found this great guide for exploring the city: Best Easy Day Hikes Seattle. As a way to make sure I stayed active on the trip, we decided to try out a different one each day. This helped us explore the city of Seattle in a unique way. Here are five beautiful Seattle day hikes for beginners.

1. Alki Beach Trail

If you're looking for a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline mixed with beautiful beaches and a touch of history, the Alki trail is a great option.

We parked free on the street near Salty's in West Seattle and walked down the paved trail to Alki Beach. It is probably the longest of the trails that we walked, but the views were stunning. You start off with an incredible panorama of the city skyline and as you head towards Alki Beach, you're looking at the Olympic Mountains with the Puget Sound sprinkled with a variety of boats heading in and out of the port.

At the Alki Beach end of the trail there are lots of cute shops and restaurants. Since the trail is 2.5 miles, taking a break for dinner was a great option to rest. We ate at Pegasus Pizza and Pasta which was amazing.

After dinner it was a little chilly, so we grabbed a cup of coffee for our sunset stroll back to the car. The only mistake there is that the bathrooms are few and far between! But the views were worth it.

Bike and kayak rentals are all over the place, so if you're looking to experience the trail and views another way, you have lots of options.

2. Elliot Bay Trail

Elliot Bay is the body of water right on the west coast of downtown Seattle. As you sail north, you cross over into the Puget Sound. So if you're looking for a fun way to get to downtown Seattle without driving, this trail is a really beautiful way to do just that, and get a few steps in along the way.

I really love all of the trails in Seattle. They are wide and paved and make it easy for people to get outside and enjoy the beautiful shoreline. As you walk down the Elliot Bay Trail, you'll see several beautiful outlooks and benches to stop and enjoy the view.

Just before you enter the city, you'll find the Olympic Sculpture Park. This is an extension of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), and a beautiful free exhibit to enjoy. My favorite was Echo, a 46 foot sculpture of a young girl with her eyes closed facing Mount Olympus. It was stunning from every angle.

If you're up for a little more adventure, the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass are only a couple of blocks up Broad Street. You could even catch the Monorail to take you all the way to the center of downtown.

It "rained" on us throughout most of this hike, but the rain in Seattle was more like an intermittent sprinkle. I enjoyed walking around without an umbrella without any intense frizz problems like I expected!

3. Burke-Gillman Trail

On the east side of the city, Lake Union is the natural freshwater lake that is bustling with recreational boaters, seaplanes, and sailboat races. This was one of the shortest trails we walked, but it offered a great glimpse into another side of the city.

If you don't want to hike the trail, Gas Works Park is a great destination by itself. You get a great view of the skyline as well as get to explore some fascinating historical Gas Works and watch the boat activity. On a clear day you can also see Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains.

We followed the trail from Gas Works Park to Fremont Park. This trail follows the Lake Washington Ship Canal that connects Lake Union to the Puget Sound. If this trail made it all the way down to the Ballard Locks, that would have been really cool, but it is just too far away.

We walked down the trail and then headed back to our car down 34th street where there are some really interesting restaurants and bars. We ended up eating at Pablo y Pablo which was incredible.

One really interesting aspect of this trail is that it walks past the Google Seattle campus. It looks like an incredible place to work!

4. Snoqualmie Falls Trail

If you want to get outside of the city, an hour's drive will lead you to a stunning waterfall hike through a beautiful forest. Hiker beware: the way down isn't too bad, but the way up takes some hiking stamina.

This waterfall became famous from the show Twin Peaks, but this 270 foot waterfall is an incredible sight. Parking and admission into the park is free, so that also makes it a great place to visit.

When we made it to the lower observation deck, we were rewarded with an incredible view, and at the same time hit with the realization that it was a long way back up the hill! There is a parking lot at the bottom of the hill if you want to catch the view without losing your breath.

In order to make it back up the trail, we took it slow and paused frequently to take pictures. It was a great way to catch our breath and make it back to the top. Just watch out for those Washington slugs! Yuck!

After our strenuous hike up the hill, we headed downtown to grab some lunch. The Snoqualmie Downtown is a great place for cute cafes and antique shopping. I loved looking through all of the shops down Railroad Ave. You could also visit the Northwest Railroad Museum to catch a little history.

We ate at the Black Dog Arts Cafe and Theater which offered an eclectic environment filled with local art, fresh baked bread, and cozy seating. It was a great place to rest after a long hike!

5. Arboretum Waterfront Trail

We attempted to go on the Arboretum Waterfront Trail, but with all of the recent rain, the entry to the path was flooded.

Although I truly hope this path gets restored, the good news is that the Washington Park Arboretum and Seattle Japanese Gardens are just around the corner, so the hike was saved.

The Washington Park Arboretum is always free. There are some beautiful paths to stroll along. The path from the main gate to the Seattle Japanese Gardens is about a mile in distance, so it makes a great day hike.

The Japanese garden does have an entry fee, but it is worth it.

Any of these hikes offer a great way to get outdoors and enjoy taking in the sights and unique living opportunities Seattle has to offer. I loved that they gave a novice hiker like myself many beautiful paths to enjoy without killing myself!

Have you tried any of these Seattle day hikes? What was your favorite?

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Family Life | Fun | Reviews

Simple Ideas for Catering the Big Game

By on January 30, 2019

This post is sponsored by

We love opening our home to our kids and their friends, however feeding them can be a whole other challenge. The big game always offers a great opportunity to get friends together, watch some football, and eat good food. Sometimes the idea of making enough food for a hungry crowd can be overwhelming. This year I'm calling in help and keeping things simple by catering food for our get together!

Jersey Mike's Catering For the Win

Regardless of who ends up winning the big game, Jersey Mike's Catering is such a simple way to please a crowd. Their catering boxes are easy to order and set up quickly for a perfect centerpiece for your food spread!

In each Jersey Mike's Catering Box you can customize four sandwiches as you like them. They even offer gluten free bread for your guests that have special diets.

I ordered the whole box in a couple of minutes, selected my pick up time and everything was ready when I arrived at the restaurant. This was easily the simplest game day party feast I've pulled together.

They also offer cookie trays and brownie trays that are AMAZING! Everyone enjoyed the sweet treats. Check out all that they have to offer in their catering boxes.

popchips make a perfect home-gating snack

As much fun as it would be to tailgate at the big game, home-gating offers an opportunity to enjoy watching football with friends while enjoying the comforts of being at home. If you're looking to add a little spice to your spread, popchips are the best way to go.

I'm always looking for healthier options for game day snacks, and these fit the bill. With three great flavor packed options, these chips are an excellent addition to the spread. I love that they're non-GMO, gluten free, and never fried. You're getting all of those great big game flavors without using a ton of napkins!

The tangy barbeque flavor was easily my favorite, but then again, I'm a big fan of barbeque chips. If you like things hot, the buffalo ranch flavor definitely delivers the HEAT! You can also skip the messy dips because these chips are delicious as is.

You can find popchips at your local grocery store or buy them on Amazon!

Protein Packed Turkey Bites Score Big

One way to really make your snacks go the distance is to add these protein packed Turkey Bites by Old Wisconsin to your football feast. I have so many friends that are working the high-protein diet, and these tasty little treats are big crowd pleasers.

Both the Turkey Sausage and Honey Brown Sugar Turkey Sausage flavors are so good. These come in multiple sizes, so I may just check them out for an on-the-go snack!

Hosting friends for the big game or any occasion doesn't have to mean hours planning menus and slaving in the kitchen. You can offer your guests tasty and healthy options that are sure to please the crowd.

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Family Life | Fun

30 Summer Activities for Kids Under $20

By on May 23, 2018

It is officially summertime around our house! The pool is open, the sun is out, and we're ready for some summer fun. Sometimes my kids like to mix things up a bit and do something fun with friends or cousins that come over. Keeping everyone engaged in the fun doesn't have to break the bank! Here are 30 ideas for summer activities under $20.

  1. Go to the park or take a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy this color scavenger hunt!  
  2. Visit a new park in your area and have a picnic.
  3. Do a puzzle
  4. Go to Sonic happy hour and get your favorite cool drinks!
  5. Make popsicles
  6. Make Homemade Play dough  
  7. Go crazy with straws with this STEM building set
  8. Paint on the sidewalk with DIY foam paint
  9. Make Fun Bubble Wands
  10. Or go crazy with these giant bubble makers
  11. Have fun with chalk with this fun Ice Chalk
  12. Make a DIY Water Blob
  13. Play in the sprinkler
  14. Make your own solar oven
  15. Make an Air Fort
  16. Make your own GLOWING Bounce Ball
  17. Have a trampoline paddle ball tournament
  18. Make Cupcake Lip Balm with your girls
  19. Have fun painting rocks and make your own “TIC TAC TOE” game
  20. Make these cool Folded Paper Bracelets
  21. Build some catapults and declare war
  22. Grow your own Rock Candy
  23. Make Rainbow Swirl Cookies
  24. Enjoy this outdoor wet activities and play and make these cool Balloon Boppers
  25. Create some cute farm animals together with clay
  26. Every kid likes to get a little messy, indulge and join them in the fun with these Squirt Gun Paintings
  27. Enjoy a fun Water Balloon Toss
  28. Set up a classic domino course to enjoy watching as the chain reactions destroy it
  29. Make Fingerprint Art
  30. Get your jump ropes out and learn some old favorite jumping rhymes

There are just so many fun ways to enjoy the summer with kids. Check out my 31 days of hands on learning stations for more inspiration for summertime fun!

What are some of your favorites?

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Family Life | Fun | Travel

Curating Adventures to Cultivate Your Family Culture

By on May 21, 2018

I've always loved planning and dreaming about travels with my family. I didn't have too many elaborate vacations when I was a little girl. Mainly we just drove down to Galveston for a long weekend, but I loved the time away from the regular day-to-day happenings with my family. As we've shifted to a self-employed family, we've found more flexibility and freedom to travel more. Over the past couple of years of planning trips, enjoying adventures, and remembering experiences, I've learned that these trips have been more than escapes from reality and more like curating adventures to cultivate our family culture.

These trips have brought us together to share in anticipation, soak in beauty, and remember good times. Sometimes you just need something to pursue together in a creative way to bring you together as a family, and travel has done that for us. I wanted to share some of the things I've learned that have made planning and executing these kinds of trips a joy and not a burden for our family...and how we've fit it in our budget!

Planning Culture Building Adventures

Step 1: Dream Together About Travel

There are a number of things that factor in to planning out what kinds of adventures your family will enjoy together. Our family loves to visit national parks and breathtaking expressions of God's creation like the Painted Desert or Niagara Falls. We also enjoy checking out historical museums along the way like Reagan's Presidential Library or Jackson's Hermitage. My kids are not as in to thrill rides, so we don't plan our trips to those destinations.

Our first trip that the kids were involved in was to Sea World in San Antonio. It was this trip that inspired making travel planning a group effort.

Step 2: Map It Out

I am totally addicted to using Furkot to help plan my trips. It's such a cool tool for helping you map out stops along the way. I'm a huge fan of making a loop (like going a different way home than we came). This makes the journey as much a part of the adventure as the destination.

Our summer trip includes visiting four Presidential libraries, two major cities, and experiencing the great lakes. It is a lot of driving, but my husband loves it so it will be great fun!

What's even better is that Furkot integrates with all of the major hotel booking sites. My favorite is I love this site for a couple of major benefits:

  • You can search for hotels that accommodate more than 4 people.
  • You can reserve a room without a deposit and cancel up to a couple of days in advance.
  • When you've used their service to book 10 rooms, you earn a free night...I always like earning something!
  • All of my travel info is in one easy location to access.

Step 3: Make a Budget

Every trip we've taken we've involved the kids in developing the budget for the trip. We used to use a jar to collect our money, but last year we made an adventure fund box that is now turning into a key part of building anticipation for our upcoming trip. When we're back from our trip, we turn the adventure fund into a memory box for keepsakes from our journey. Then we buy a new box to start saving for the next big adventure!

See how we made our adventure fund box here!

With the ability to reserve our hotel rooms, we can easily plug in exact numbers for our lodging expenses. Here are some of the other things we account for:

  • gas
  • food
  • entertainment
  • souvineers

When the family is helping to save for those things, their expectations for how much we should spend changes. They're not as demanding as they might be if they didn't keep each of the individual elements as a part of the big picture.

We also keep the budget down by setting our destination to cheap or free locations. National Parks and free attractions can really keep the budget to a reasonable price. Additionally, we always look for friends or family to visit along the way, which helps cut down on costs. If we can stay at an Airbnb home, we can buy groceries instead of eating out, and that also keeps our budget manageable.

Step 4: Talk About It

I used to be a big believer of not talking about anything exciting with my kids until the minute before because they would drive me crazy with anticipation. However, as my kids have grown a little bit, they have calmed down a bit on the hyper craze, and become very fun to dream and plan with for our trips.

Here are some things we plan out:

  • Which audio book series we're going to listen to along the way.
  • What main things we'd like to see along the way.
  • What kinds of things we'd like to do while we're there.

Including them in the process allows everyone to be involved in the process of curating the trip, which builds a culture of togetherness even before you take off on your adventure together.

Enjoying the Together Time

Once it's time to hit the road, it can be easy to let the stress of vacationing take over and ruin your best laid plans. My husband and I recently read Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Even just hearing the title of the book should encourage you to let go of expectations for the perfect trip and just be present with your family. If things don't go quite as planned, it's okay. You're together and that is all that is important!
It's also important to know your limitations and your family's limitations. If you can handle an action packed agenda, but your husband can't, you might just have to give up one or two excursions for peace. It's well worth it!

Be Together on Your Family Vacation

You know it's possible to feel lonely in a crowd right? Well, the same is true in a family. Today we have so many distractions and devices that draw us away from being together. Find ways to put the devices down and connect. If you have to have a device, find something that everyone can interact with together while online.

When you're in the car, audio books are awesome for creating unity. You're all listening to the same story which gives you something to talk about when you stop for lunch, or something to be excited about starting up again when you get back on the road. Audio books are great for long trips because they're much longer than movies, and everyone in the car can enjoy them together. We've enjoyed some excellent book series along the road. Here are the first books of our favorites:


Stick to the Budget

One major stressor along the way is the budget. When surprises arise along the way, it can really derail the fun. We use Goodbudget to keep us on track. It's a simple little app that is based on the envelope system of budgeting.

My husband sets up envelopes based on the budgeted categories we've put together in our initial trip estimate. Then as food is purchased and activities are paid for, we all track how much money we have left for the trip. This way we can eat off of the dollar menu for a couple of days, and then maybe have money to go out to a nicer dinner one night.

In the end, whatever money is left over is split among the kids since they are the ones who have contributed the most to the fund. This also motivates them to stick to the plan!

Cherish the Memories

Adventure Fund to Keepsake Box

When we first arrive home, we transform our adventure fund box into a keepsake box. It's such a simple way to remind our family of our good times together. I look forward to creating more of these and displaying them around our house as our adventures grow!

Map Tracker

We started the kids young tracking their travels with a US map. Each New Year's Eve, we'd color in the states that they had visited that year. It's taken a while, but we're getting closer to having visited all 48 contiguous states. It doesn't matter if we ever make it to all of them, but it's great to have exposed them to so much beyond their own little corner of the world.

We have a pushpin world map that we love, but I also wanted one of the United States so that we could have a visual representation of all of our adventures together. My husband got me one for mother's day this year, and we've had so much fun recounting all of our family's travels!

Check out their variety of beautiful pushpin travel maps!

Photo Books

Pictures are such a great tool for remembering. I love using Blurb Photo Books to chronicle our trips. I've created a Blurb "How to Video" for creating anthology books, but their photo books work the same way.

These books are treasures for years to come. My kids love to look back through and recall the stories behind the pictures.

When I was making my last trip book, I struggled with adding any captions to the book. It just seemed like a lot of work. My friends reminded me that I posted on Instagram along the way, and I could just use that commentary for my book. It was the perfect way to help us remember what we were thinking in those moments when we look back at these books twenty years from now.

I really never thought I would love traveling as much as I do, but I cherish the memories I've had with my family. It's such a wonderful way to build unity. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to do it well either. Make a plan, make a budget, and work your plan and budget. I hope you get to enjoy the blessings as much as we have!

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Faith | Family Life | Fun

10 More Christian Films Your Family Can Enjoy on Netflix

By on May 7, 2018

Updated 2/23/2019

As school winds down and summer begins, it's time to rest with my family and enjoy a good movie. I've shared 10 Christian Films for your family to enjoy on Netflix, but there are still some more diamonds in the rough out there. Here are some more Christian films that we've enjoyed together!

If something I've recommended doesn't happen to be available anymore, you can always check here for all of the Faith and Spirituality Movies.

An Inspiring Life

1. The Case For Christ - TV-PG

Lee Strobel's testimony in The Case for Christis truly inspiring. As a newspaper journalist, Lee Strobel works to disprove his wife's new found faith. When their daughter almost dies, the couple reacts in different ways. Strobel's wife seeks answers from Church, and Lee sets out to prove that faith is a hoax.

Based on Strobel's best selling book The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesusthis movie is a fantastic representation of a investigative reporter putting his well-honed skills to work for the Lord.

A Documentary

2. Martin Luther - TV PG

Netflix calls this one a "docudrama" because there is narration like a documentary, but the insight into the life of Martin Luther is brought to life through dramatizations of his history. This is a great intro to the life of a man with the first idea that went "viral" through the modern media of the time: the printing press.

Movies that Pull at Your Heart Strings

Often I struggle with Christian films because they center around so much tragedy. Having lived through loosing a loved one in a car accident, I feel very sensitive to that topic. That being said, these stories are powerful in exposing God's power to bring healing through suffering.

2. A Question of Faith - TV PG

I was skeptical of this one, but the story was a beautiful picture of how God brings people together in suffering to reveal His forgiveness, love, and power. So many people are walking through challenging circumstances. We need one another to walk through them. Get your tissues ready for this one!

3. Believe - TV PG

I really like Christmas movies all year long, and this is one of those that is worth watching any time of year. With a business in the red, Matthew struggles to choose between caring for others and caring for himself. When a young boy, CJ, helps him out in a time of need, Matthew's heart is warmed by CJ's belief in miracles. It's a sweet story of the power of community.

4. River Thief - NR

Warning - this one isn't for littles. Written and produced by one of my favorite authors N.D. Wilson, this story explores the concept of gratitude and what life looks like without it. A young man, who is looking for his unknown father, waltzes into a small town and meets a young waitress and her grandfather. While this movie won't leave you with warm fuzzy feelings, it's worth watching as it will leave you thinking about gratitude and its connection with how we deal with circumstances daily.

Not Just for Kids

5. The Star - PG 2017

The Star has been one of my favorite Christmas movies for kids. It is such a sweet story that shouldn't just be reserved for December. I love the music in this animated tale.

6. Benji - TV PG

I grew up loving Benji, and now Netflix has remade the old family favorite and they did an amazing job. When a brother and sister walk in unexpectedly on a robbery and are taken captive, it's up to Benji to help the police track the kids down. I love the sweetness and loyalty that Benji shows even when he's kicked out of the house. Even though this one might be targeted for kids, I really enjoyed it. It's truly not just for kids to enjoy!

Or if you like a good TV Series

7. Highway to Heaven

Sometimes you just need to revisit classics like Highway to Heaven. They don't make them like they used to.

8. VeggieTales in the City

Or you could enjoy the second spin-off of an old favorite: VeggieTales in the City.

What Makes Something Christian?

If you're truly hunting good Christian films, you might want to subscribe to PureFlix. There are some really good movies out there that exemplify Christian principles without ever mentioning God. So I have to ask, what makes something Christian?

9. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is a historical fiction story based upon the lives of people that lived on Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel, during WWII. This small community comes together around books when that is the only way they can fellowship with one another in the German occupation. It is through these times together that they form friendships that carry them through difficult times.

This movie is a beautiful picture of forgiveness and it presents a great opportunity for discussing Biblical perspectives on the challenges of war time living.

10. Pelé - PG 2016

Pelé follows the story of a young boy who fights his way out of poverty through his talent in his sport. Movies like this that show determination, rising from adversity, and singular focus present inspiring portraits of lives well lived. It is good to see how others live and be inspired to pursue excellence.

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