Category: Travel

Easy Beach Sand Souvenir DIY

How To Make A Simple Keepsake with Sand From Your Beach Vacation | Petit ElefantYou want to make this beach sand souvenir for yourself. I know, because, well, if the amount of sand we shake out of our suitcases, vacuum out of the car and wash out of our hair every summer is any kind of indicator, then we are definitely a family of beachcombers.

And no matter whether we drive to a local lakeside beach or fly to a more far flung oceanside locale, our modus operandi is always the same: build sandcastles that never stay up, hunt for pretty shells/interesting rocks until sunset, and bring a little bit of beach sand home in a bucket.

It’s become a beloved family tradition, especially now that I figured out how to make beach sand keepsakes from our found treasures.

It takes less than 20 minutes to make a display-worthy beach sand souvenir that you’ll  enjoy year round, and all you need are measuring cups and a few empty jars with tight-fitting lids. Plus your beach sand and little shells, of course!

How To Make A Simple Keepsake with Sand From Your Beach Vacation | Petit ElefantMaking sure your jar is clean and dry, start by pouring sand that you’ve already sieved (to remove bits of driftwood and seaweed) into the bottom until it’s filled about halfway. Gently shake to make the sand level, then layer … >> find out more...

Pilar

A native of Chile with deep Chicago roots, Pilar and geekdom have been mutually exclusive since tight-rolled jeans and slap bracelets were in fashion, making it rather fitting she married a Star Wars nerd, made two nerdlets, and became the world’s okayest mom. An award-winning writer, social media strategist, photographer and geeky pop culturalist, her commentary has appeared in and on some cool sites like Babble, CNN, Huffington Post, Yahoo and Fandango (where she's Contributing Editor of the Family Room).

What Living Abroad Is Really Like

What It's Like To Live In A Foreign Land

Every considered living abroad? Since the age of 17, I’ve visited 21 countries and 36 U.S. states. In 14 years of marriage, we’ve made our home in 10 different houses, 4 of those  in a land other than that of my citizenship. After living a combined total of five years in another country, I still have moments of frustration of trying to understand and fit into a culture that is not my own.

I grew up in small town Texas where a 45 minute trip to Dallas was considered a day trip. Moving 9,268 miles away to the southernmost country in Africa was a big deal. In high school, I dreamed of living abroad, in a different country and raising kids who had an awareness of what the world was like, not just what life in America was like. I got my wish, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I hope this little glimpse gives you an idea of what it’s like to live in a foreign land.

The first thing you should know, however, is that a “typical” day doesn’t exist in my world. I’ll tell … >> find out more...

Jen Price

Jen currently makes her home between two continents, one in the great state of Texas and the other in a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She wears many hats such as wife, mother, photographer, storyteller, communications director, writer, traveler, and lover of dark chocolate. She writes for several websites including her personal blog, I Believe In Love, where she shares her creative ventures, her photography, and the stories of the orphans she loves on in S. Africa.

Keep Your Kids Healthy During The Summertime

It’s really easy to end up having kids on the couch, inside all summer long, watching TV and playing video games. It’s too hot out, kids are bored, moms need a break. But it’s not a whole lot of work to get kids active and busy outside, if you plan ahead.

Every summer I make some fun summer bags for my two kids. I call them their ‘Welcome to Summer’ bags, filled to the brim with enough outdoor activities + toys to keep them busy all summer long. Outside.

I fill the bags with sidewalk chalk, beach balls, kits to make S’mores, squirt guns, water balloons, you name it. The kids look forward to it all year long, and it makes the transition into summer easier. It also sets the tone for the kind of summer we’ll have: a busy one!

Here are my top 3 ways to get and keep kids active, all summer long.

  1. Set the stage (make a summer bag!)
  2. Sign up for stuff!
  3. Plan ahead. Make a summer bucket list.

#1: To set the stage for an active summer, set expectations for your kids. Let them know the plans you’re making, tell them the kind … >> find out more...

Allison

Well, hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. We do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, crazy home remodel projects, and cool (yes, cool) DIY crafts you'll totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!

Summer Vacation Photography Tips

Summer Vacation Photography Tips

Ah, Summer vacation. It’s like an oasis from the long school grind. It’s something that everyone looks forward to which is why all the memory making from this very important event must be documented. Here’s a few Summer vacation photography tips that I’ve found helpful as I’ve learned to capture the memories but still enjoy the moments.

1. Capture the small moments that spark an emotion. When we drove from Texas to California, our car was packed down. I knew we would forget how crazy it was unless I took a photo. Same was true when we pulled into our driveway after a haul to Utah and back and we looked at the speedometer…3399.9 miles. Small moments but they’re fun to remember years down the road.

2. Let your child get behind the lens. I love seeing things from their perspective. While camping in Moab, I gave the camera to my son. Not only did he love it and capture some great shots but, it was also a memory in itself! As far as photography tips, this one might be my favorite.

Summer Vacation Photography Tips

3. Don’t get too focused on capturing the perfect shots that you’re not present. As a photographer, this … >> find out more...

Jen Price

Jen currently makes her home between two continents, one in the great state of Texas and the other in a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She wears many hats such as wife, mother, photographer, storyteller, communications director, writer, traveler, and lover of dark chocolate. She writes for several websites including her personal blog, I Believe In Love, where she shares her creative ventures, her photography, and the stories of the orphans she loves on in S. Africa.

Hiking With Wild Horses in Kaapsehoop

Kaapsehoop, South Africa

I live in a small town in South Africa. All kinds of outdoor fun make the “things to do list” in my neck of the woods. One of my favorite Saturday entertainment options is Kaapsehoop, a mere thirty minute drive from Nelspruit in the Mpumulanga province. You can cruise through the whole town in about sixty seconds, but you can easily spend a day exploring everything it has to offer.

This lovely town is best known for the wild horses that roam freely on its streets. They’re friendly enough to give a little rub on the nose even though their big size can feel a little intimidating. My nine-year-old was terrified at first but warmed up enough to name one of them Mr. Ed.

Kaapsehoop, South Africa

There are a couple of cafés where a prego roll or a pancake can be enjoyed, but it’s also a nice place to pack a picnic lunch to eat on the grass. Antique shops and stores with interesting loot are worth visiting, but my favorite activity is the hike to the spectacular view at the top.

Kaapsehoop, South Africa

The yellow footprints clearly mark the path that’s simple enough for kids to hike. Depending on your explorers, you can … >> find out more...

Jen Price

Jen currently makes her home between two continents, one in the great state of Texas and the other in a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She wears many hats such as wife, mother, photographer, storyteller, communications director, writer, traveler, and lover of dark chocolate. She writes for several websites including her personal blog, I Believe In Love, where she shares her creative ventures, her photography, and the stories of the orphans she loves on in S. Africa.

3 Simple Road Trip Tips Every Family Can Use This Summer

3 Simple Road Trip Tips Every Family Can Use This Summer | Petit Elefant School is almost out for summer, which means parents everywhere are dreaming about hitting the open road with their families in good old fashioned road trip style.

In theory. Because while while road trips might be the carefree calling card of summer, the reality is that being packed in a car with people who have a penchant for repeating “Are we there yet?” every five minutes, while fighting over whose foot is touching whose, can quickly lead to a very special kind of road rage.

The challenge of course, lies in keeping kids engaged, excited and comfortable the whole time – even on the long, potentially boring stretches of road. I’ve found this becomes a lot less difficult when you work with your family’s natural rhythm. That could mean dressing everyone in pajamas for the ride, making frequent stops to stretch and run around along the way, or not even heading out until late in the afternoon so that arrival time equals bedtime.

Here are the 3 most simple, yet most important tips you’ll need this summer, culled from my own childhood road trips, plus sanity savers mastered while traveling with my own family:

3 Simple Road Trip Tips Every Family Can Use This Summer | Petit Elefant

Go Retro: Think back to the days when you … >> find out more...

Pilar

A native of Chile with deep Chicago roots, Pilar and geekdom have been mutually exclusive since tight-rolled jeans and slap bracelets were in fashion, making it rather fitting she married a Star Wars nerd, made two nerdlets, and became the world’s okayest mom. An award-winning writer, social media strategist, photographer and geeky pop culturalist, her commentary has appeared in and on some cool sites like Babble, CNN, Huffington Post, Yahoo and Fandango (where she's Contributing Editor of the Family Room).

5 Austin Food Trucks You Must Try

Warning: Food photography ahead. This post will leave you with your mouth watering while making a mad dash for something delicious.

Austin Food Trucks

On a recent trip to Austin, Texas, my goal was to eat every meal at a food truck. It felt like I basically ate my way through Austin. I’m pretty sure I gained an extra five pounds, all in the name of blogging, y’all. And eating.

While this is, by no means, an extensive review or round-up of Austin food trucks, it is a glimpse of some awesome meals on wheels that you might want to check out next time you’re in the capital of Tejas. Which, by the way, is a fantastic little city and totally worth a visit. Delicious eats from food trucks make it just a little more awesome. Here’s where we at this time around.

East Side King

Austin Food Trucks Austin Food Trucks

Oh my, this Asian Fusion was SO tasty. My favorites were the fried brussel sprouts and Thai chicken. Be sure to include some beet home fries in your order. No matter your feelings on beets, these things are a unique taste to your palate.

Food truck located at: 1104 East 6th St.

Gourdough’s

Austin Food Trucks Austin Food Trucks

Um, gourmet donuts. Yes, please. … >> find out more...

Jen Price

Jen currently makes her home between two continents, one in the great state of Texas and the other in a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She wears many hats such as wife, mother, photographer, storyteller, communications director, writer, traveler, and lover of dark chocolate. She writes for several websites including her personal blog, I Believe In Love, where she shares her creative ventures, her photography, and the stories of the orphans she loves on in S. Africa.

Travel in Style with 10 Fresh Spring Accessories

Travel in Style with 10 Fresh Spring Accessories | Petit Elefant

Did you know that a few pretty Spring accessories can amp up your travel wardrobe without tipping the baggage scales? Yep. It’s the little things that make all the difference when it comes to traveling in style.

As it is, being part of the jet set comes with its own awesome skill set – understanding middle seat etiquette, getting the most mileage out of that carry-on space, and a carefully curated pile of tried-and-true clothes that don’t require any extra thought when they land in your suitcase.

The downside to being so streamlined however, is the lack of variety. Our favorite pieces don’t always make for the most practical of take-alongs, and packing too many extras could mean less room for treasures picked up along the way. Case in point: If I have to choose between packing tons of extra clothes from home just because and bringing home a gorgeous leather clutch plucked from the shops in and around the Spanish Steps… then I’d definitely rather have the extra room.

Good thing bright and bold accessories are an easy way to give the same old travel staples a pretty refresh perfect for any budget.

You’ll want to add these all to your must-have … >> find out more...

Pilar

A native of Chile with deep Chicago roots, Pilar and geekdom have been mutually exclusive since tight-rolled jeans and slap bracelets were in fashion, making it rather fitting she married a Star Wars nerd, made two nerdlets, and became the world’s okayest mom. An award-winning writer, social media strategist, photographer and geeky pop culturalist, her commentary has appeared in and on some cool sites like Babble, CNN, Huffington Post, Yahoo and Fandango (where she's Contributing Editor of the Family Room).

Uganda Travel Essay To Inspire You

Uganda Travel Essay

The “four” hour drive from Kampala to Gulu, Northern Uganda was more like eight due in part to dusty, potholed roads that had seen better days. The outside breeze rushing through the windows in the big, nasty, dirty bus barely offered any respite from the humid air that kept my back in a perpetual state of wet. Over the eight hour journey, my bright white top turned a new shade of earth that no amount of bleach could help. All I could do was smile. I loved it. Uganda. Africa.

We reached our cozy hotel that was to be home for the next week. An attempted shower to wash my dirt streaked face and make sense of my tangled hair was almost more than I could handle. This girl was exhausted. The bed shouted my name, and I gave in.

Dino was our destination the next morning, a two hour journey from Gulu town in Uganda. I don’t think any amount of sleep could have prepared me for what the day brought. Let me set the scene for you.

Uganda Travel Essay

Mud huts with thatched roofs.

Green, green rows of corn stalks.

Kids wearing tattered clothing and looking at this mzungu like … >> find out more...

Jen Price

Jen currently makes her home between two continents, one in the great state of Texas and the other in a small town in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. She wears many hats such as wife, mother, photographer, storyteller, communications director, writer, traveler, and lover of dark chocolate. She writes for several websites including her personal blog, I Believe In Love, where she shares her creative ventures, her photography, and the stories of the orphans she loves on in S. Africa.