Greetings From Missouri

Sam Allen Creates Missouri Fall Leaf Lettering

Hi y’all! Just wanted to post a quick update about our trip! We are just about to head out to Tennessee for the second BBQ competition of the trip, but before we do that I had to share about the Missouri leg.

After driving for 3 days, we made it to the American Royal BBQ competition in Kansas City where the team competed in two back to back competitions. They knew it was a tough competition and only hoped to get “a call,” to be placed in the top 15 in any category, where they’d be announced and receive a ribbon.

American Royal 2015

The first day was the Invitational where they placed 2nd in ribs out of 165 top teams in the nation. The next day was the Open where they competed against 615 teams, including all of the 165 teams from the day before. The day before’s awards only made the team more nervous knowing that a top call was totally possible. With no calls in the first 3 categories, and after really bad brisket scores the day before, we thought it was time to go home. When the announcer got to the top 4 in brisket, he let everyone know that everyone in the top 4 had perfect scores, a 180. The very next name he called… Rooftop BBQ! And then just moments later, the top 10 overall were announced and Rooftop placed 8th! Out of 615 teams and without knowing their scores in chicken, ribs, or pork, it was a complete shock!

American Royal Rooftop BBQ Awards

I don’t know what I’m more proud of… they really did so amazing! The perfect score is really neat though as that means they made their personal best as well.


Sam Allen Creates Strouds Kansas City

After a day or so to cooperate, with an amazingly country fried dinner at Stroud’s… we moved on to stay at my cousin’s house in Springfield, Missouri. It’s been quite an interesting challenge to have my office supplies all put away in tubs all the time, but I’m getting used to it. Makes me wanna downsize the office at home now 🙂

Your New Friend Sam Etsy Lettering Shop on the Road

A cart full of office supplies… my craft studio on the go.

These past couple weeks have been wonderful! Staying put and spending time in the wonderful autumn weather. It was the perfect mix of work, relaxation and fun!

But to really sum up this part of the trip, it was all about FOOTBALL! My cousin’s son, who was our adorable ringbearer at our wedding, plays the center for his high school football team… it was so amazing to get to watch him play in two games while we were here. PLUS Andy cooked for the linemen on the team as well during both weeks… 10 racks of ribs one week and they almost polished off a whole brisket the next week. And then this past weekend, Jake spent some time teaching me how to play football! Pointers on how to catch and throw with a fancy spin. And he even snapped the ball to me like he does in the game. I’m going to go pro now thanks to him.

Sidenote: ESPN just posted about an amazing trick play the team did at their game this past Friday that we were lucky enough to attend. View it here, seriously they’re so good. And of course, shout out to my cousin who snapped the ball as the center of the offense line. See video here.

We also got to spend both our birthdays here with some yummy food and and a couple matinee movies.

So here we go, all packed up and ready to head to Tennessee for the Jack Daniels World Championship. Go Rooftop!

Rooftop BBQ Trailer in Missouri

Calvary Chapel Canyon Hills, Harvest Carnival on Halloween

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Looking for a fun and safe environment to take your kiddos on Halloween? Our church is hosting a carnival: Calvary Carnival!

Lots of candy,  fun, exciting games and jumpers. Plus free hot dogs, cotton candy, & pop corn.  And you can enter to win a iPad Mini (!!!) along with other fun prizes!

It will be located at the school where our church regularly meets, Canyon Hills Middle School. But this year it has expanded quite a bit! I’m really looking forward to it… hope to see you there!

33005 Canyon Hills Road
Lake Elsinore, CA 92532

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Calvary Carnival fliers, newspaper ads, and banners all designed by Sam Allen Creates (that’s me :))

Our Weekend Getaway to Northern California

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Last week I posted about my time at the Walt Disney Family Museum, which was the whole point of this trip, but while we were going up there with our friends Lauren and Kellen, we made the most of it with stops for dinner with friends, touristing around the city, and getting to attend our friend’s newly launched church!

First stop: Bakersfield! Our friend Kathleen moved there 2 years ago and this was my first visit to her new hometown! It was definitely an overdue visit. Aren’t these 2 too cute!

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Plus I got to see the Little Free Library in person that I had posted about a few months ago (thanks to Kathleen’s blog for the tip)!

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And of course when we had dinner at Eureka Burger, I just had to get the burger with the fried egg. Because it’s the best. Oh and hot sauce, and bacon. There was no question there.

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Okay and just one more food photo… ice cream at Dewar’s… that’s marshmallow fluff as a topping. Don’t worry, I thought it sounded weird too. But it was amazing!

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I lied, I have another food photo! But seriously, this is the best pizza in America. I’m not the only one who thinks that either… the important people of the world agree with me. Just down the hill from Coit Tower is Tony’s Pizza. So so good. Crazy busy, but piping hot and freshly made. Delicious.

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Then Kellen and Lauren dropped us off at the museum… see last week’s post for more on that.

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And just like 5 minutes away from the Walt Disney Family Museum, is the Palace of the Fine Arts. Which is by far my favorite place in San Francisco. I posted a little reminiscing post on this city that I love so much a few years ago with a great animation of us girls having way too much fun here.

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But this was my first time here with Andy! yay!

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And our last stop in the city was dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf’s Boudin Bakery and Cafe for clam chowder bread bowls. And Andy’s chili bowl, oh that poor anti-seafood boy of mine.

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Since we were going to be going to our friend’s new church in Walnut Creek, as I was looking for hotels in between there and San Francisco… my eyes lit up with joy at seeing Emeryville on the map! The home of Pixar!! I conveniently booked the hotel just around the corner from the studio. You’re welcome friends.

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You can’t see much there, it’s very gated and private but I could catch glimpses of the giant Luxo light and ball and also the fun little “mine mine mine” seagull perched on one of the corner buildings. Thanks again Lauren for slamming on the brakes to let me snap photos each time I exclaimed at each of these finds.

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After lunch at yummy Ike’s in Walnut Creek, we headed up to the Jelly Belly Factory for some sugary sweets and a tour of the factory.

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And then it was time for church! After the nonstop action from those past couple days, sitting in church with our friends was just wonderful, spending the evening singing worship songs and praying for their new church. And of course it was so awesome just to see them in their new home!

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And then we drove home. The end!

Loving Life thru My Lens

This past week was just so fun… from Disneyland trips to the birthday celebrations over the weekend… I spent a lot of time behind my camera capturing the moments. I feel so incredible blessed to call these people friends who are really more like family.

I just wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from this last week, just a glimpse of the joy I saw thru my lens.

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Molly’s first trip to Disneyland.

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Just the cutest little profile of an almost 2 year old on a break from playing with the ducks.

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Eli runs home at his weekly baseball game.

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Trying to capture all my last moments [for awhile]  of the Happiest Place on Earth.

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Amelia’s happy grin in her mama’s arms.

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Eli’s first pinata experience.

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And a dad’s extreme joy and getting to pull the pinata out of reach. 🙂

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How cute are two 2-year olds!? I mean really, is there anything cuter??

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And then spa splashing fun!

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Eli’s fun with his new bubble machine from Auntie Yoyo.

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Hudson’s backward binoculars experience.

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The big boys playing ball games.

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And to end the weekend, our new two year old Owen being so happily embarrassed during his happy birthday song.

Hope you enjoyed loving life thru my lens!

Disneyland Secrets: Hidden Mickeys and other Fun Facts

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Many people are shocked to find out I only truly fell in love with all things Disney[land] just when I met my hubby 10 years ago.

I grew up on Disney’s movie magic and loved the random trips we took as kids but it wasn’t until Andy pointed out the random holes in the wall on the Pirates of the Carbibbean ride and asked if I could see the Hidden Mickey—that my love for Disney grew into a passion.

From there, my obsession with all things secret—and even mythical—about Disneyland began. I found an outdated website with Hidden Mickey sightings, printed out pages and pages and went through the park marking them off one at a time. Yeah, Andy kept his distance from me on those days. 🙂

What kept me so entranced by these hidden gems is the artistic detail the park Imagineers tended to. All this “hidden stuff” is just bonus fun to an already amazing place to visit. It’s what kept me going back trip after trip, year after year. It’s these small details that place the quality of Disneyland over an other amusement park.

So I just wanted to take some of these little gems and share them with you! And just like Andy sparked my curiosity oh so many years ago, hopefully I can spark yours!

All the photos below were taken by me, or friends, over the last 10 years of having our annual passes.

Hidden Mickeys

What is a Hidden Mickey anyway? According to the Hidden Mickey Guy:

An official Hidden Mickey: a partial or complete impression of Mickey Mouse placed by the Imagineers and artists to blend into the designs of Disney attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other areas.

The 50th anniversary celebration really brought Hidden Mickeys to the forefront. Where to many, the idea of Hidden Mickeys were somewhat mythical and unofficial, the 50th anniversary placed 50 “hidden” Mickeys throughout the park. Many were very obvious finds while a small percentage were trickier to find.

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But these small hidden gems, go beyond just those three interlocking circles. There are many more nods to other characters, and even past rides—or whole restaurants!

Let’s take a grand circle tour of the park, shall we?

Disneyland

Starting with Main Street….

There are a great many nods to the past found in the Main Street windows. Many of the painted window advertisements acknowledge past Disneyland Imagineers, artists, and animators. One of the more famous windows is for Elias Disney, Walt Disney’s father. Another famous window, and room, is above the firehouse where Walt Disney used to stay after hours in a furnished apartment. There is still a light in the window that is always on in his memory.

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Find this Hidden Mickey in the Main Street Cinema.

 

Fantasyland

My favorite Hidden Mickey is found in the top windows of Big Ben, of the London scene in the Peter Pan attraction. You can see just a silhouette of Mickey Mouse waving to you just as you finish circling the tower.

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Look closely in Mr. Toad’s left eye to find a little Hidden Mickey

 

Pixie Hollow Hidden Mickey

I was quite excited to spot a Hidden Mickey at the entrance to Pixie Hollow!

Adventureland

Indiana Jones has so so so many amazing finds! In the projector room, ask the Cast Member at the front of the line if they have a flash light. If so, they can show you, up in the rafters, an old Eeyore sign from the parking lot that stood in place before Indiana Jones was built over it! And then just before you leave the projector room, look back at the left wall and you can see a very subtle but GIANT Hidden Mickey on the wall made from the rocks and cracks.

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Another Hidden Mickey lies in the very next room, on the desk on the cover of a magazine is a scene from one of the original Mickey black and white cartoons from the same time period that Indiana Jones took place. These are my favorite kinds of Hidden Mickeys… where they seamlessly fit with the theme of the room and are pretty out in the open but still subtle.

Indiana Jones Hidden Mickey magazine

Another amazing fun Mickey find is on the ride itself. As you’re entering the first skeleton/bone room, look back over your left shoulder and you’ll find a skeleton leaning against the wall that is wearing those classic Mickey ears hats! So fun but so very hard to find! We once rode it over and over until we found it and now I can’t-not see it!

Like I mentioned, there’s a lot more “hidden” than just Mickeys. Sitting on top of the Jungle Cruise building sits a familiar totem from the Tiki Room.

Tiki Room totem in Jungle Cruise line

And notice any other familiar characters from our beloved Beauty and the Beast sitting in the Tarzan’s Treehouse camp?

Mrs. Potts in Tarzans Treehouse

New Orlean’s Square

I mentioned the Hidden Mickey on the Pirates ride earlier (in the top center of the right wall in the big ship fight scene)… but another fun fact is that the skull in the bedroom scene on the left is from an actual real life skeleton! At the time, 1960s, the technology to create realistic skeletons wasn’t quite there yet, so they got a hold of a bunch of real skeletons from a doctor friend of Disney’s. Since then, they’ve replaced the majority of the skeletons with artificial replicas but the skull in place above the skeleton in bed is still one of the originals! You can see the difference in the color tone as well, the original is a darker brown while the replica in the bed is whiter.

A very well known and easy to find Hidden Mickey can be found in the dining hall of the Haunted Mansion attraction. With an always changing display, you can find the tri-circle Mickey among the dinner plates.

I’m not sure if this really counts at this point, but Club 33 (posted about last year’s visit here and here) is a somewhat secretive restaurant. The more appropriate word though may be “exclusive.” It remains to be a secretive location because it is so exclusive and so expensive!

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Critter Country

Like the Eeyore sign, I love when the new rides give nods to what once stood before. On the Winnie the Pooh ride, you can see the deer, buffalo and moose heads that once hung on the wall of Country Bear Jamboree! It’s easiest to see them when you’re sitting in the front row of the honey pot, turn all the way around when leaving Pooh’s dream scene and they’re found just above the archway. Also, find a Hidden Mickey along the right wall after that in the honey.

Country Bear Jamboree in Winnie the Pooh Disneyland

Frontierland

Find this next Mickey while riding Big Thunder Mountain… however with the recent overhaul of the ride, this may not be there anymore!

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Golden Horseshoe Hidden Mickey

Can you find the odd ball out in the Golden Horseshoe?

Tomorrowland

You may remember the attraction that once stood in place of Innoventions… America Sings. Some of those singing chickens found their way to Star Tours—just without the feathers!

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You can see the chicken-like resemblance in the feet of the robot on the right!

Find this Hidden Mickey on a tile in the first room of Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters

Find this Hidden Mickey on a tile in the first room of Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters

Toontown

Toontown is on a whole other level when it comes to Hidden Mickeys. These Mickeys are so obvious and more just for decoration, so they’re called Decor Mickeys. So many examples of which can be found in Mickey’s house itself. Even the music notes are little Mickeys.

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California Adventure

I don’t know nearly as much about California Adventure as I know about Disneyland so we’ll just head over there for a moment or two…

 

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Lasseter wine label

You may recognize the owner’s of this mock wine label as the Creative Director of both Disney and Pixar: John Lasseter!

It was once said that there are no Hidden Mickeys inside of the Tower of Terror. I heard that the creators of the ride wanted to distance themselves from Disney. Not sure if that’s true or not, but the only Mickey I’ve ever found happens to be my favorite one in California Adventure! When watching the ride preview video, and again on the ride itself, watch out for the little girl’s stuffed animal. 🙂

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There are at least 3 hidden Mickeys in this map to the Redwood Creek Park. There’s usually a cast member on hand to aide in the search as well.

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Find this little guy toward the end of the Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train ride on the right side.

Ariel Line Hidden Mickey

There’s a good chance in all splashes of bubbles, water, or even honey (Winnie the Pooh) that there lies a Hidden Mickey. Find these bubbles in the ironwork outside Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

Outside the Parks

Mickeys and other secrets aren’t just confined inside the park walls. There’s lots to find outside “the berm.”

Keep your eyes out for those pesky Disney cats… it’s my hubby’s absolute favorite secret of the parks. When the park first opened, it had such a horrible mouse infestation that they unleashed a plethora of cats to capture them all. Only that led to a bunch of cats that have remained escaped all these years. We’ve found them mostly around the Rivers of America and along the train route but once had a cat spend quite a lot of time with us in the area that now houses California Adventure’s Radiator Springs.

Disney cat

This has to be one of the biggest and well kept Hidden Mickeys of all the parks… (photo found on the D23 site)

Along Disneyland Drive, near the corner of Katella, you can find this giant Mickey made out of the sidewalks. Many pedestrians walk this every single day and probably never really know or care to think about its odd shape!

Hidden Mickey Harbor

Here I am excitedly running around the Mickey with my Hidden Mickey book in tow. haha nerd alert!

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This cleverly hidden Mickey is within the concierge counter of the Grand Californian Hotel… there’s also a hidden fairy (not pictured)!

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Do I really need to help you find this one? You’re a pro now!

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Find this fun Mickey on the Daisy level of the parking structure!

Hope you enjoyed this post and will have fun finding some of these and more yourself!

Many thanks to my friend Lindsey who scampered around the park finding many of these little guys with me!

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If you want to try to find some of the above secrets and many many more… check out this great resource: Disneyland’s Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Disneyland Resort’s Best Kept Secrets. It goes much deeper than just the Hidden Mickeys. Also has two routes to take, a very descriptive way of finding stuff (like a cheat sheet), or a harder and less obvious hint to find them.

There’s also a fun app, for the less serious secret finder called Wishing Stars.

 So what are your favorite secrets of this beloved park??

The Wagoners’ Christmas Photos in the Snow, Big Bear

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When Lauren and I first talked about getting some new photos of them taken, all she wanted was to take them in the snow. So 2 weeks later, we all drove up to Big Bear, randomly stopping along the road to take some pictures.

It had been awhile since the 4 of us had hung out, and I’m so glad my hubby was there with me to help us get smiles from his best buddy.

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Seriously, isn’t Lauren just gorgeous! The snow really suits her. 🙂

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This is by far my favorite photo of the day.

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And we stopped for one last photo on the way home… you can kinda see a hint of pink noses as the temperature was dropping quick!

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Thanks Mr. and Mrs. for spending a fun day in the snow with us! Love you both so so much!

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Grayson’s First Bug Birthday Invitations

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grayson-bug-birthday-sketchI can not believe this little boy is now one year… or almost 13 months at this point. Counting in months seems to calm his mama’s heart a bit. 🙂

Jess posted all about Grayson’s party a few weeks ago, which made me *almost* forget to post about it as well!

I just wanted to show you the adorable little invite we created for the party as well as a few other photos I took throughout Bug’s bash. Are you ready for the cuteness?

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Jess had the same woman from our church create this cake as you may have seen from Josiah’s party. Seriously, I am amazed at her talents!

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We also made a little guest book poster for everyone to “sign.”

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And now a few photos of the birthday boy himself, looking so handsome with his new haircut! I felt like papparazzi following him around getting as many photos as I could of him and all his friends.

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And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete with G and his cake! I love his little grin here!

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Here are a few more bonus photos for you!

The adorable Mr. Eli who is turning 5 this month!! Eeek! This may be one of my favorite photos of him yet, taken just seconds after he found out there was a jolly jump!

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And then the mommy of the birthday boy and his aunties!

Jess, you really threw one amazing first birthday party!!

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To see more of Jessica’s party planning extraordinaire… inspiration board, invitation, and even more photos from the party!

The Vintage Marketplace, June 2013

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The Vintage Marketplace held it’s second craft fair of the year in Rainbow, CA this past weekend.

Lauren and I got to go after several hours garage “saling” while on dual matron of honor missions for the upcoming bridal showers we are hosting. With such success shopping garage sales, we only had an hour left to peruse the beautiful French themed shops. Add in the 100 degree weather, I wasn’t up for my usual photo tour but I did manage to snap a few shots upon first arrival!

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The following photos are from the shops of Vintage and Shabby-d Up Furniture and Frills, Rooster Creek, and Ta Da! Designs of All Kinds.

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Thanks for joining me on this quick trip to the Vintage Marketplace! Their next show is in September, hope to see you there!

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You can see more photos from previous trips to the Vintage Marketplace here, here and here.

The Vintage Marketplace, March 2013

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I love going to The Vintage Marketplace, a craft fair held four times a year in Rainbow, CA.

This time, Amie got to join me and we were on a mission for wedding decor and ideas. In addition to the overload of inspiration, Amie was able to buy quite a few decorations for the wedding from vintage metal serving trays to lace doilies for the centerpieces.

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Junkyard Gypsy

I just saw Junkyard Gypsy for the first time on our last trip, I just love their vintage signs!

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Sweet Magnolias Farm

While I love looking at the products these shop offer, their storefronts alone are such a work of art and decorated differently each time!

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Broke Jewels

I love browsing the different necklace pieces that Broke Jewels offer, so many options to create your own unique necklace. They are on Etsy too!

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Earth Cookie Creations

This is also a favorite stop for me! Gotta stock up on the amazingly creative scrapbook cards from Earth Cookie Creations! Each one is such a layered treasure down to the smallest detail. She even wrote a blog post about the fair that you can read here.

I bought this first card for my grandma-in-law’s birthday! Loved how bright and cheerful it was.

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Plus she has a lot of raw supplies for you to make your own crafts at home, got some more lace to add to my collection!

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The Vintage Rabbit

Amie and I really loved visiting The Vintage Rabbit, every item in this shop seemed to be perfectly created for Amie’s wedding! She even found the cutest little purse for the money dance. You can visit The Vintage Rabbit online here.

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These last two photos are from two shops that I didn’t catch the names of but I just loved this display and more raw materials for homemade crafts!

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Thanks for joining me on another trip to the Vintage Marketplace! Their next show is in June, hope to see you there!

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You can see more photos from previous trips to the Vintage Marketplace here and here.

Seattle Trip Tips

So now that my major bridesmaid duties have past and our anniversary hotluck is over, I am ready to start looking forward to October and the wonderful adventure that Andy and I will be taking come Ocotber 15 (my hubby’s 30th birthday!!!).

Which leads to, what should we do and what should we see in Seattle, Washington?

Heck, what about the way up there and back from sunny So Cal?

But before I get these amazing trip ideas, let me tell you we did a whirlwind of a trip there and back in 2008.

Seattle 2008

We started the day off right with a ferry trip in…

We walked around the Space Needle, would you recommend actually going up in it??

I am sure hoping we come back to the Fremont Troll, pretty much my favorite place of the trip!

And of course hoping to go to Gas Works park too.

Seattle Art Museum. Yeah.

Well at least I am consistent in my love for the ampersand.

Alright, that’s our one day in Seattle. But this time we are looking at being there for a few days at least plus staying in the city.

Any recommendations on a place to stay? We looked into Airbnb but are thinking that the Moore Hotel may be a better choice. But please help us out because we really don’t know what to do!