Check out these must have back to school essentials

Backpack with lunch box

This is the exact backpack and lunchbox that I got for my son. He has already used all of the different parts and they’re great quality! The backpack has lots of different pockets to store different things and lots of space. I like to lunchbox and the pencil bag too. Great bang for your buck!


We have used these lunch boxes for several years now. I use one to bring lunch to work too. You can freeze them and then they can keep your lunch cold until you have lunch. A great idea and good quality lunch boxes too!

Bentgo lunchbox

I also like these lunchboxes and have used them for myself and the kids. It’s cool that they stack so it takes up less room, but still holds plenty of food. They also come with reusable silverware. It’s all ***dishwasher safe***!!!

Stasher bags

These will forever be my very favorite lunchbox invention!!! They are reusable bags that are very sturdy, ***dishwasher safe*** and they help reduce waste of plastic bags. They are so great and I so them ALL THE TIME!!!

Water bottles

I’m particular about water bottles and these are great ones! They don’t leak. They’re very sturdy and more importantly ***diswasher safe***!!!!!

Durable labels for kids’ gear

Umm….you’re welcome! This will be your best friend when coats, snowpants, winter boots, mittens, sweatshirts…all the things…get mixed up. Label everything! These are machine washable and durable so you don’t have to keep labeling things.

Cute face masks for kids

These face masks have great reviews and are secure and for a variety of ages. I got them for my son who will be in kindergarten this year. They come in lots of different prints for boys or girls. Order soon to get it in time for school to start!

Kids’ table for everything!

This table is SO cute and has great reviews. I’m so excited for my daughter to see it and have it next to her play kitchen. We will also use it as our new craft table. No more crazy messes on our dining room table!!! It will also be a place that my son could do his homework or if we want a kid’s table at a party. Multitasking table for the win!

Bamboo Height Adjustable Kids Desk and Chair Set

This desk is so cool that it is adjustable so it can grow with your child! Bamboo is also an eco-friendly material so that’s a win for the earth too!

Floating desk

This is a great option if you don’t want the desk to take up so much space in a bedroom or living room space. This has great reviews. It still has good storage and work space but doesn’t use up that prime floor real estate.


Light up tennis shoes

Who doesn’t love a good light up gym shoe? I got these for my son and they are cute and comfortable. He thinks they’re awesome. Boy version link HERE. Girl version link HERE.

Kid Academic Planner

Adult Academic Planner

This is my favorite paper planner! So many ways to help you plan out your life and help you to reach your goals!!! This is for older kids or grownups.

Monthly Magnetic Fridge Calendar

Weekly Magnetic Fridge Calendar

I got this weekly calendar and I LOVE it!!! My husband really likes that he actually understands on a daily basis what’s going on outside of the Google Calendar. It’s helpful to have a tangible calendar for the week. Plus, I’m going to try to use it to great a meal plan and put the dinner menus on it. This is a must if you ask me! The markers are really nice and are magnetic and the eraser is also magnetic so it can stay next to the calendar on the fridge.

*Amazon compensates me a little bit if you purchase any of these products through my link. If you’re going to buy it anyways, I would love the support through these links:)

6 patio furniture/decor ideas to upgrade your patio or deck

We moved into our house one year ago. Last summer, I was just trying to survive COVID and unpack all of our boxes. This summer, I finally got around to working on the function and appearance of our deck and patio. I will share with you the things that I added that I LOVE!!! Remember, if you buy now you might get some AMAZING end of the season patio deals!

Britanna Patio Hanging Egg Chair – Natural – Opalhouse™

This is hands down my favorite thing that I added to my backyard. I was drooling over this egg chair last summer, and then I asked my husband if I could buy them. We negotiated that I could get it, but that it would be my anniversary present. Well….thank you very much and it was a very happy anniversary indeed with these gorgeous and comfortable egg chairs to relax and enjoy!!! The only negative for me is that some of the bamboo that winds around the metal frame is flimsy. As a whole, I think it’s well built and sturdy, but the quality of the part that winds around the frame doesn’t seem as high quality as the rest of it. For me, it is still 100% worth it. You can decide for yourself if that bothers you.

Pop-up Gazebo Tent for deck or patio with mosquito netting

I’m also a REALLY big fan of this recent purchase! It’s very reasonably priced. It offers great protection from the sun on hot days. At night when the mosquitos are out, you can just zip up the mosquito netting and you have your own outside oasis without having to worry about getting bitten every 5 seconds! Or if you’re really ready to splurge on the ultimate gazebo, feast your eyes on this beauty:

My dream gazebo-a bit of a splurge

Are you ready to invest in the best gazebo ever? This is my dream gazebo that I want to buy someday, but my husband wasn’t quite ready to agree to yet. This one can stay outside so you don’t have to put it away during the winter and it can withstand snow built up on it. You can also adjust the amount of sunlight that you want to let it if you would prefer to have more sun one day and less sun another day. It also comes with mosquito netting and curtains too. You can use the netting and curtains or both or pull them back or take them off completely if you’d prefer. Can’t you just imagine a hot tub inside? And it’s so nice you can open or close the curtains depending on the amount of privacy you want.

Cute and inexpensive outdoor furniture patio set

This set is cute, inexpensive and exactly what I needed. Since we have a shorter patio season, I wasn’t wanting to spend very much on a patio set. I still wanted a place where we could sit and have a chat and entertain. This one is exactly what I wanted. It looks nice. The cushions are admittedly not very thick so it’s not incredibly cushy like my egg chairs, but I still love them and would buy them again. We have used them a lot.

Outdoor patio dining table

This outdoor dining table is perfect for the deck or patio. I like table that can seat 6 people. I think that’s the perfect size so we can entertain a few extra people. This one is reasonably priced, has my required umbrella hole so you can have shade when you want it, and is very nice looking!

Solar powered string lights for the patio or deck

I unfortunately didn’t order solar powered string lights, but I wish I had. It’s really annoying to try to get the lights to reach a power outlet. Do yourself a favor and get solar powered string lights. They you don’t have to worry about trying to get to the outlet, and the lights will automatically turn on when it starts getting dark on. I love the effect the lights have at night. They immediately create a magic ambiance. Definitely a must for a cute deck or patio vibe!

Our kid-free trip to Stillwater, MN. and why Stillwater is a must for getaways!

Hey you! My husband and I were able to get away for a kid-free 2-night getaway to Stillwater, MN. Have you been to Stillwater? It’s so great! It’s located along the St. Croix River and is so close to Wisconsin that it’s actually a little bit confusing when you officially cross from one state to the other. Apparently it becomes Wisconsin somewhere on the walking bridge. Since COVID started, we had a one-night stay in Duluth and this was our first 2-night stay without kids since February 2020. It was great. Having little kids can feel so all-consuming of your time and energy so I felt very refreshed getting to have some peace and calm and to get to enjoy being with Andy.

We stayed at this great bed and breakfast called Aurora Staples Inn. The Victorian home was built in 1892 and has the most amazing wood detailing throughout its rooms and suites that feature decor consistent with the era. A couple owns the inn. The wife, Rachelle, grew up in Stillwater right by the inn and always dreamed of living in the beautiful home. When she asked the former owners a few years ago if they would sell it to her, they said yes! Rachelle has owned the inn for about 4 years now.

We stayed in the Peacock Room that had a comfy bed and a big whirlpool tub, a cozy gas fireplace, and a private bathroom. All of the rooms are different with their own themes and with different amenities. The breakfast was so delicious and kept us full both days until dinner with coffee, orange juice, desserts, quiche, egg bake, fresh fruit with yogurt, and some other great items! Apparently Rachelle is a great cook!

Possibly my very favorite thing that we did was renting bikes from Herman Electric Bikes Rental. Riding conventional bicycles is already one of my favorite outdoor activities, but electric bikes take the fun of biking and add to it by the fact that you get to go so fast and you don’t have to huff and puff up big hills. I loved it. I still felt like I was exercising, but, not surprisingly, it didn’t seem like as good of a workout as a regular bike. Be sure to check out the great coffee shop, Green Bridge Coffee Shop, that is attached to the bike rental area. They brew coffee from UP Coffee Roasters located in my old neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis, so the coffee is both delicious and locally brewed! They also source fair trade and organic beans for a high-quality taste with no harmful chemicals.

We also stopped at another great coffee shop called Made Coffee that is connected with Lora Hotel in Stillwater. It’s a little hole in the wall coffee shop, but is great for takeout and has a great patio area to sit and enjoy your coffee when it’s nice out. Their pastries are baked locally and fresh and are visually beautiful…our bed and breakfast has delicious and huge breakfasts that they give you each morning so we were still very full from breakfast and unfortunately didn’t get to try one of the pastries.

Brix Music Cafe just opened about 3 weeks ago in Spring 2021 with a great venue for the live, local music scene focusing mainly on jazz and swing music. Right now the shows are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights so we unfortunately didn’t get to see a show, but OH MY is the food delicious! Smoked Southern Style Mac and Cheese? Fried chicken wings with some spices that taste like a fusion between Asian and classic Southern BBQ? Ummm…everything was SO good. You have to check this place out for their good live music and delicious food. It’s definitely worth the trip just for the food too. I have brisket tacos that were so amazing. All of their food comes with these sauces that are simple but add so much flavor to the meals and really enhance the flavors. I don’t enough about complicated cooking to really know what I’m talking about here, but just go…you won’t regret it!  

Our second and final night we went out for dinner at MatchStick Restaurant & Spirits that is located in the Hotel Crosby. The restaurant opened in November 2018 so it has been around for a few years. I asked a few locals what restaurants we should check out and MatchStick was always mentioned. A cool thing about MatchStick is that their meat and fish is locally sourced farm to table with a huge selection of spirits, wines, and craft beers. The menu is made up of predominantly small, shareable plates. We started with the Carmelized Brussel Sprouts, which were absolutely amazing. MatchSticks was on it with their sauces. Enhanced the flavor of the foods while not drowning out the natural flavor of the food itself.  I don’t know how restaurants always make brussel sprouts taste so amazing. If I make them, they always taste slightly burnt and don’t really encourage anyone to get their veggies in;) I’m a huge fan of cauliflower already, but their Cauliflower Fritters were probably my very favorite thing that we ate there. They are so good, and pretty filling which can be nice with the shareable plates. Their MatchStick Salad is a good choice to fill up on something healthy. It’s not your traditional salad though as it’s mostly cut up apples with only a few pieces of lettuce roasted walnuts, cranberries, scallions and cinnamon creme fraiche. 

We made a stop in to the Velveteen Speakeasy, which was seriously so cool. It was my first time visiting a speakeasy and I loved how cozy and how it was decorated. It looked like how I imagine a speakeasy back in the day would have looked. Their drinks are delicious! I tried their Bees Knees drink (rosemary infused gin, lemon, honey, angostura) and it was perfect with a little sweet but not too overpowering.

We also stopped at a cute shop called Minnesota Made in Stillwater that features…can you guess it?…items that are locally designed and made in Minnesota! I bought this really cute t-shirt that is so soft and comfy in a great soft pink color! I wanted to buy my son this green Camp Minnesota tee, but it only goes up to a size ⅚ so he would outgrow it too quickly so I got him this insanely soft Little Dipper sweatshirt instead. I also found this cool soap company called Sota Suds that is made in small batches in Stillwater. I got this lemongrass soap that can be used as shampoo, soap and for shaving. Lemongrass helps repel bugs and perspiration too so that’s a win for choosing the lemongrass kind. It’s environmentally friendly as well since it the only packaging it uses is a small, recyclable cardboard box. Perfect for throwing in your bag for camping, hiking, bike trips or just because you would rather pack one soap bar than bringing along the shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles.

A shout out to my in-laws for watching the kids so we could have a nice getaway. It was great to have some time alone and reconnect as people and not just as co-parents like it feels like sometimes in this busy season of parenting little kids. I think it’s so important to have time away as a couple a few times each year if possible. I know it’s not always possible for some people so I appreciate that we were able to make it work this time.

What about you? Where are your favorites getaways? With kids or without kids?

My fave Prime Day Deals! Hurry…today is the last day:)

Echo Dot for Kids with Parental Controls

I just bought this for my son for his birthday and he loves it and so do I! He kept stealing my Alexa from the kitchen so he requested his own for his room. This also comes with one year of Amazon Kids+, which includes shows and audible books for kids to listen to. It has parental controls and automatically edits what the kids will listen to so it’s appropriate for little ears! Definitely recommend this!

Fire HD 8 Kids Tablet

If you’re in the market for a tablet for your kids, this one is perfect! I love the case that is kid-proof that it comes with. I have seen it thrown multiple times and the tablet survived! Now is the time to buy it when it’s such a great deal!

Kindle Paperwhite Ereader

Umm…I really love this one and WOW is that a great deal!!! I love using my Kindle Paperwhite because you don’t get interrupted while you’re reading like you do if you’re reading on the app on your phone. It’s waterproof and SO light! I love to read and I love how this saves clutter in my house from all of those books that would be piling up. Plus, if you go on vacation, you can have all of your books in one place.

Radio Flyer Balance Bike

Have you heard of balance bikes? They are awesome! When I was a preschool teacher, the kids would always use these and many parents commented that their kids started riding their bikes with 2 wheels so early! They are so fun and my kids both have used balance bikes too! This is a great deal on a high-quality option!

Singing/Karaoke Mic Bluetooth Machine

My son got this as a present and both of my kids love it! My daughter has had some epic diva singing moments using this as she belts out Frozen songs;) Very fun for hanging out and singing songs together!

Radio Flyers Bounce House

This bounce house is amazing for keeping kids entertained! We gave our kids a bounce house for Christmas last year. It was SO great during the long Minnesota winters, but can used outside when it’s nice out too. We have used it when friends and family come over and for parties! It pays for itself so quickly. This is a great deal!

Kids backpacks with lunchboxes

This backpack is so cute and a great deal with a lunchbox. Check out all the good deals on backpacks and take advantage of the Prime Day deals for school supplies.

Instant Pot

It’s no Prime Day list without the Instant Pot. I have an Instant Pot and it’s a favorite for a reason. I love making food all in one pot and how quickly it cooks everything. It’s incredibly versatile and totally and completely lives up to the hype. If you don’t have one yet, this is a great time to snag one for a great price!

Best dishcloths ever!

Stock up!!! These Swedish dishcloths are so absorbent and can be used over and over again…hey environmentally friendly products!!!;)

Stasher Silicone Reusable Food/Storage Bags

This is one of my very favorite kitchen products that I discovered a few years ago and they are DISHWASHER SAFE!!! I haven’t needed disposable plastic bags for years because of these! Saving the environment one plastic bag at a time;) These are amazing for packing lunches and also for storing leftovers. You can also put them in the microwave and the freezer so they are very versatile.

Glass Food Storage Containers with Lids

You can never have enough food storage containers. These are great ones with nice lids at an amazing price!

Cadillac of Pregnancy/Sleeping Pillows

This is an absolute MUST if you are currently pregnant. It literally changed my life when I was pregnant and helped me to get so much more sleep! If you’re not pregnant, you can still totally use it and just be ridiculously comfortable while you sleep!

22 Beach Essentials for Summer 2021

Picnic Blanket

This picnic blanket is light and sandproof and waterproof. This one is wipeable so you don’t have to worry about messes. It also easily folds up and has a handle for carrying it easily. I’m partial to the color is dark blue and gray, but it has different color options. In my opinion, well worth the money because it makes your beach experience easier with kids and eating snacks and all of that. Get it on Amazon HERE.

SPF Kid’s Adjustable Beach Hat

These SPF adjustable beach hats for kids are cool because kids can wear them for a long time since the elastic drawcord with a toggle allows it to tighten or loosen depending on the age of your child. They also have cute colors as an added bonus. I like the light blue hat, light pink and turquoise colors. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Hooded Sunscreen/SPF Towel for kids or grownups!

Did you know that there were hooded beach towels with SPF protection in them? I just learned about these maybe a year ago and they are awesome. I love the hood feature so my kids can just wear them from the beach to the car since we always have so many beach toys and such to carry. We have these beach towels in the mermaid print and the cute arrows design.They have so many such cute designs! Get it on Amazon HERE.

Mineral Sunscreen-safe for kids

Sunscreen can actually have some harsh chemicals in them that can be harmful for little bodies. I like this Badger brand sunscreen. That I use for my kids and myself. The kid sunscreen is sometimes hard to rub in but it works really well and has good ingredients. The tangerine kind smells exactly like Froot Loops! I think it smells great! The grownup version is much easier to rub in and doesn’t feel greasy like some sunscreens. It’s a great sunscreen option! Get it on Amazon HERE.

SPF boy swimming outfit

Look at how cute this swim outfit for boys is with UPF 50+! Get it on Amazon HERE.

SPF girl swimming outfit

The girl swim outfits I love are by a brand called Rufflebuts. Cute name and they make adorable swimming suits that are also UPF 50+. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Women’s UPF 50+ swimsuit

Women’s UPF 50+ swimsuit is cute and very affordable! It comes in different colors. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Women’s UPF 50+ swim shorts

I’m a big fan of swim shorts! They’re very versatile for wearing when you’re getting stuff done outside too or going to the park with the kids in the summer. These women’s UPF 50+ swim shorts are cute and affordable in different designs and colors. My favorite is the Cattleya design. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Women’s UPF 50+ swimsuit coverup

This women’s swim coverup is cute and breezy. I like it best in white and black. It’s very affordable and UPF 50+. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Women’s UPF hat

It’s hard to find a UPF hat that is also cute. This one accomplishes that! Cute, affordable and protect you from the sun? Check! Get it on Amazon HERE.

UPF 50 Baseball Cap men

Here’s a cute UPF 50 baseball cap style hat for the men out there or really anyone in your life! Get it on Amazon HERE.  

Men’s UPF 50 swim shirt 

Get it on Amazon HERE.

Men’s UPF 50+ swim shorts

Get it on Amazon HERE.

Beach Toys: 

Wagon for the beach: 

Folding wagon

It I were to do it all over again, I would definitely get a folding wagon. Then when you’re not using it, it doesn’t take up so much space in the garage. Get in on Amazon HERE.

Cutest wagon

If you want to go for the cutest wagon, go for the classic that we have! This is a good present to request for a first or second birthday before the kid has his own idea about the toys he or she wants;) Get it on Amazon HERE.

Great pack of sand toys

Your standard set of beach toys but with good variety and 24 pieces! Get it on Amazon HERE.

Bubble machine

A good bubble machine is one of the most iconic and fun things to do in the summer. This one has great reviews and is really cute. Great present or a great way to create summer fun for the kid in your life! My kids love their bubble machine and have a very long attention span for playing with it. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Inflatable Pool

Summer=playing in the water! This inflatable pool is a great size and it’s nice that it can be folded and put away for the winter if you live in Minnesota like me;) It has good reviews. My kids love it and it is big enough for them while not taking up too much space in the yard. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Water Gun

We have a lot of fun with these! Again…iconic kid summer toy! Get it on Amazon HERE.

Water Blaster

Another great water boy that I have only seen in the last few years that is really fun. The outside is covered by a noodle so it’s soft and prevents injuries. Very fun. Get it on Amazon HERE.

Water Table

Kids of all ages love water tables. It’s a fantastic way to hold their attention for a long time. They can even conduct science experiments of sorts in water so it’s a great learning toy as well! Both of my kids still like playing in it. Get it on Amazon HERE.


This is another outside toy that is perfect for experimenting and a ton of fun at the same time. It holds the attention of kids for a VERY long time. I also really like the container it comes in and how it has a lid that stays on so bugs don’t get it. It’s also a nice size for two kids to play in. One of our favorite toys! Get it on Amazon HERE.