Fun | Reviews | Travel

Ragle’s Retreat: A Wonderful Women’s Getaway

By on April 3, 2017

A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to get away with some friends to a bed and breakfast retreat. My friend frequents the Ragle's Retreat a couple of times a year. She's been inviting me for a while, but this was my first chance to take her up on her offer. I'm so thankful that I did, and I know that I can't wait to introduce more of my friends to this little oasis in East Texas.

Located just seven miles southwest of downtown Canton, this cozy B&B is a tranquil location for getting away with friends. Vicki and Marshal, owners of Ragle's Retreat, have been hosting crafters for over twenty years. When you walk into their home, you feel like part of the family.

It always amazes me that you can drive just an hour outside of Dallas and find towering pine trees.  It doesn't take long to feel the stress of city living melting away.

As an introverted city dweller, I think it's important to get away to remember what quiet sounds like. Although it isn't totally quiet there! I loved listening to all of the songs of the various birds as they enjoyed the seeds set out for them.

One of my favorite places at Ragle's Retreat was the front porch. I opted for the swing with my book and a cup of coffee. The springtime views were beautiful, but I'm looking forward to visiting again in the fall!

Inside the bed and breakfast, they are set up for six crafters to work and fellowship comfortably. A couple of the ladies I went with brought sewing projects, while others worked on scrapbooking. I brought school work to prepare, my bullet journal to doodle in, and future blog projects to contemplate.

The reality was that my suitcase was 80% books, and 20% pajamas. Perfection!

Each station at the work table had a phone stand, power strip, trash can, and a table mat. There's no wifi, which can be a blessing in itself, but since my work involves internet connection, I just brought my hot spot. It worked beautifully!

While we were making great messes, it was wonderful to have the freedom to focus on a project while someone else prepared meals and washed dishes.

Another favorite location of mine was the coffee bar. My roommates liked to keep the place cold, and even though I was in my cozy pjs, I enjoyed access to warm beverages to keep me comfortable and working.

The real blessing for me in getting away was just being able to take deep breaths and relax. When I'm at home, I feel guilty resting because there is always something else I could be doing.

I read a book for my soul.

I spent time in the Word.

I slept really well.

I laughed.

I enjoyed great company and food.

It was truly a retreat.

 

Follow Ragle's Retreat on Facebook or visit their website for more information about creating your own happy getaway with your friends. I'll be heading back in the fall, and saving the date for next spring to return again!

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Crafts | Food | Fun | Gardening | Simple Style | Uncategorized

A Secret Garden Inspired Planty Party

By on March 17, 2017

My middle daughter turned 13 this past week and we celebrated with a Secret Garden inspired Planty Party. My girl is slightly obsessed with succulents...growing them, drawing them, and enjoying them. Every time we go to a garden store, we have to stroll slowly down the succulent aisle to see what's new.

We don't do parties every year for every kid, but thirteen is a big year, so I gave in to a party this time. I'm so thankful I did. We had so much fun, and I really enjoyed watching my daughter love her friends through their time together. I thought I'd share some of our fun party ideas to inspire more garden parties!

We decorated the table with ivy and paper roses made from pages of old Secret Garden books. My friend had just used all of these materials to decorate a table at a fund raising event. She was so generous to let us borrow them!

Start Off With An Icebreaker Game

I'm the first to say that I hate those icebreaker games that make you embarrass yourself right as you enter a room of strangers. Even when you know most of the people in the room, it can still be intimidating for a introvert to have all eyes on them.

A friend recently introduced us to a clever game that works great as an icebreaker: Disruptus. In the game, there is one judge, and the rest of the participants are players. When you are the judge, you roll a dice to see what category you'll be judging: disrupt, create 2, or improve. In each of these categories, the participants must come up with an idea to reinvent or recreate something from a sample picture given. They have one minute to come up with their idea, and then each player pitches their crazy idea. The judge decides their favorite for the round, and then another player becomes the judge.

We didn't play a super strict version of the game, and my daughter provided prizes for all participants. This helped both break the ice and engage her friends in the party. It was really fun to hear all of the creative things they came up with!

Each judge and the winner picked their pot and succulent to plant (their party favor), and then they picked a runner up who would be the next judge. This offered a fun way to allow her friends to pick their pot while still being fair to everyone.

Garden Activities for Teens

We split the friends up into two groups and created stations for activities. The first activity was potting their succulent. My mother-in-law is an amazing gardener, so she manned this station and helped all of the girls pot their new plants. We purchased all of the pots at Daiso - a Japanese $1.50 store, but you could always gather these from thrift stores.

The important part of potting in little tea cups is to make sure that you have enough little rocks at the bottom of your container to offer your plant appropriate drainage. My daughter's favorite thing about this station was the cute succulent table cloth she found!

This project went quickly, so the girls enjoyed my 80's and 90's play list by the fire pit while they waited for the indoor station to open up!

Inside, we worked on making some paper roses out of old books. My friend had showed us how to make these beautiful paper roses. The girls enjoyed learning to make them!

We hid all of the supplies for our craft in these cute book boxes that I borrowed from my friend. I loved how all of the decorations followed all of the things my girl loves: gardening, books, and food.

Garden Inspired Menu

We posted the party menu on my fun Kraft paper roll board.

While we transitioned the craft table into the food serving table, my mother-in-law set up a parfait station outside. You know teens...must keep feeding them to save your life. In all of the hustle and bustle, and because the food disappeared so quickly, I have no pictures of this event happening!

It was super simple. We had small clear cups, and the kids used vanilla yogurt and various berries to design their own parfaits. Another great kid food trick - if they make it, they'll love it!

Our main menu item was Chicken Kabobs, which were AMAZING! This also kept my husband and father-in-law happy and busy. Between that and the fire pit, they were content to enjoy the outdoors.

We served it with Jasmine rice and veggies. It was a light and tasty meal! My father-in-law artfully put together these tulip tomatoes which were a hit. They didn't last long! (The recipe is in Polish, but Google translate does a great job of making it understandable).

My mother-in-law is also an amazing cake artist. My daughter sent her the design idea, and then she brought it to life.

Topped with frosted fruit, this cake was the perfect ending to a perfect party.

We finished off the evening with presents, hang out time, and roasting marshmallows on the fire pit.

Teenagers provide a whole new realm of opportunities for entertaining and parties. This fun garden party was simple enough that I might just be willing do do it again sooner rather than later.

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Food | Fun

27 Healthy Party Foods For Super Bowl Sunday

By on January 26, 2017
Low Carb Snacks

I was really hoping that my Cowboys would make it back to the Super Bowl this year and I could celebrate with a party. While I'll still watch the big game, I'll be comforting myself with healthy party foods that any guest would love, even if they're not counting their carbs. Here are 27 healthy snacks that will please your friends and your scale the next morning!

Low Carb Snacks

Classic Snacks Remixed

There are those classic party snacks that with a little tweaking can be a healthy treat.

She had me at bacon! I love the recipes from KetoConnect

When Veggies Are The Star

 

Aren't these pickle roll-ups by Pip and Ebby beautiful?! What a fun snack!

Dips To Please A Crowd

Nuts Are A Party Must

I want to go make these herb roasted nuts now from Little Bits Of...

On The Sweeter Side

Let's not forget the treats that everyone needs for those nail-biter games:

These dessert bars by Briana Thomas would definitely have me coming back for seconds!

So what about you? What are your favorite game day snacks that don't kill your diet?

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Fun | Home School Resources | Reviews

Unlocking the Mystery and Magic of Science

By on December 7, 2016
Quest for Arete

Science is a mystery. Often, we find ourselves intimidated by certain fields of study because they are mysterious. It's almost as if the subject is beyond understanding because it is so mysterious. Playing with science is a great way to help your students unlock the mysteries. When they do, they'll feel like they've discovered a form of magic that will whet their appetite for more.

Chemistry is a great example of how science is like magic. When you learn the periodic table, you discover that the ways these elements react and combine really is magical. But how do you get beyond that initial challenge of the overwhelming unknown? Play.

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This post is sponsored by Quest For Arete. I received the game for free, and I was compensated for my time in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Mystery of Science

Science really is puzzeling. That is why scientists are continually posing theories and making discoveries. The wonder involved in exploring science is magical. When students catch a glimpse of the fascinating facets of science, they will beg for more. It is great to encourage discovery and exploration. They need to know that good scientists will constantly search for Truth. This will take a lot of trial and error.

A Magical Game: Quest for Arete

A game is a great place to start in playing with Chemistry. Quest for Arete, which is Greek for "excellence," combines elements from the periodic table in achemistic creativity to produce spells to attack your opponent. The game acknowledges that "in the real world, this is the magic!" Although it is targeted at players 12+, youngers can play along with an older sibling or adult.

chemistry magic with quest for arete

While playing the game, you're becoming familiar with the elements, structure, and arrangement of the periodic table. Each time you play you'll learn something new about how the elements interact as well as their interchangeability. I love that it sets the study of chemistry in a magical realm, because chemical reactions truly are magical.

educational gaming

There are two modes of play: rummy and duel. When starting the game, playing the rummy version helps players get acquainted with the elements and the "spells" that you can build when you combine them. Once players feel comfortable with building chemical reactions, they can move on to dueling with another player.

magic games

The game has great depth as you can continue to add elements, such as character cards, to the game play to increase the difficulty. There are also expansion decks you can purchase to take your game playing to the next level:

I love how games encourage learning without the pressure of memorizing information for a test. When playing a game, you learn to play, and that is very motivating!

Hands on Chemistry Magic

Don't just play with chemistry magic in the theoretical realm, get your hands dirty with the real deal. As your students realize that different elements react to one another in various ways, they'll appreciate and enjoy the game so much more.

We had so much fun watching the chemical reactions of baking soda and vinegar with our color blending experiment. Here are some other experiments that employ chemical reactions that seem like magic.

Special Coupon Code for Quest for Arete

The creators of this fun game have offered a special discount for my readers. When you purchase the starter set, you can use the code BS2016 to purcase the expansion sets for $5 each (that's 75% off!!). That is an incredible value. This coupon is good until December 20, 2016.

Follow Quest for Arete on social media for more exciting ideas for helping your students embrace the magic of chemistry!

Facebook   |     Twitter    |     Instagram

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Fun | Travel

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament Review

By on November 30, 2016

Thank you Medieval Times and USFG for hosting our family's trip to Medieval Times Dallas. All opinions are my own.

The holiday season has begun, and our family kicked off our traditional giving of our "presence" together with an incredible dinner packed with sword fights, horse tricks, and evil villains to entertain us. We are studying medieval history this year, so a trip to Medieval Times in Dallas was a prefect place to go. I'm giving away a family 4 pack of tickets to the Dallas location, so make sure to read to the end to enter!

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The Medieval Times Experience

The gates at the castle open up 75 minutes before showtime. The line to get in moves quickly. As you get inside, you get your table card, your crown that designates the color of the knight you'll be cheering for, and take a group picture. We got ours taken with a live falcon! The kids were so impressed.

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It's fun to get there early and check out the stables where the horses are getting ready for the show. There is also a knighting ceremony in the main lobby where you can pay to add this unique event to your experience. We got to see Peter and Paul be knighted! #ChivalryinAction

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We were assigned the red knight. When it's time to be seated, you are led through specific doors to find your table. I don't think there is a bad seat in the house. With stadium seating, every view is unobstructed.

Our waiter greeted us and instructed us on cheering for our knight. As he was giving us final instructions, he told us all to raise our hands. He informed us that our right hand was our fork, and our left was our knife. He encouraged us not to drop them on the floor because they were the only pair we'd receive! Ha!

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The show begins with the performance by the Andalusian horses. They are so beautiful. It is quite incredible to watch these magnificent horses show off, and it's obvious that they love to perform.

The Spanish horse is the king of horses and the horse of kings!

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Next, the knights come and preform a tournament of games for the audience. Each time a knight succeeds at the task, he is given a flower to throw to a maiden. My girls loved this part!

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My older daughter had coached her younger sister on how to catch the eye of the knight. They were both surprised when it worked!

As the show progresses, you are served with amazing food and drink to enjoy. Watching the jousting was incredible. When jousting, the Knights charge at speeds of approximately 15 to 20 miles per hour and reach an impact velocity speed of about 30 to 40 miles per hour. Because these are truly skilled riders and their jousting is real, each shield has to be repainted after every show. My kids loved watching the lances splinter as they collided with the shield of their competitor.

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The excitement continues as the tournament is interrupted with an evil messenger that challenges the king. Thankfully, the knights fought to save us all, as well as defend the honor of the princess. While our red knight didn't win, we all loved cheering for his battles. In the end, the good guy always wins, so you're always a winner at Medieval Times.

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Special Pricing Through February 17, 2017

My Readers save at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.  CLICK HERE and use this exclusive promo code MT3629 through 2/17/17 and receive Adults for just $36.95 and children (12 and under) only $29.95. This is a great discount!

Also make sure to enter my giveaway for a family four pack of tickets for free! Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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