Category: Travel

Enjoy Little Moments Looking Out My Back Door

It’s easy to forget to enjoy little moments of bliss and joy, with our lives so hectic and pressured. Inspired by recent travels, I compiled a collection of photos called Looking Out My Back Door. It does make me want to hum a little Creedence Clearwater Revival, yes, but it also makes me marvel at how quickly the scenery can change. As in life, if we’re not careful, it can pass us by in the blink of an eye. As you browse through this collection, remember the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” With that, I’d like to share what I see looking out my back door and encourage you to enjoy little moments, whether out your back door or far from home.

Looking Out My Back Door

While in Texas, this was my scenery most of the time. Oh, how wonderful it was to open the blinds and see the peaceful serenity of a lake and horses! It was my daily reminder to pause and breathe.

Looking Out My Back Door

My husband and I snuck off kid free to downtown Dallas for a night. Since we live in the bush … >> 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.

The Oregon Coast Belongs On Your Bucket List

Oregon CoastWe officially crossed something off our proverbial bucket lists this summer: a family trip to the Oregon coast. If you’ve been there, you already know the joy of it. Never been? Go. You’ll be forever delighted with the memories, sights and sounds of a rugged, breathtaking, magical slice of the Pacific coast.

oregon coast cannon beachWe enjoyed hikes through the towering forests, running across crescent beaches, kite flying (a favorite pastime here), a first attempt at skim boarding, early misty-morning beach combing, sand dollar discoveries, beach sunsets, and ice cream cones. All reasons to find a spot on your personal bucket list for the Oregon coast, for a perfectly amazing weekend.

oregon coast kites

oregon coastOur Oregon coast weekend was spent mainly on Cannon Beach, home to iconic Haystack Rock. It’s a behemoth rock right on the shore that serves as a nesting spot for Puffins and other sea birds. The rock is also surrounded by tidepools. At low tide we could walk right out to it and view hundreds of sea anemones, barnacles, mussels, even sea stars and hermit crab. Any fans of the movie Goonies. (“Hey you guys!”) will recognize lots of Cannon Beach scenery.

oregon coastI could not have anticipated the boundless joy my boys,… >> find out more...

Kimberly

...by day, making a home where the buffalo roam. By night, pretty much the same thing, punctuated by the occasional fantasies of sunny beaches, italian movies and sparkling lemonade.

Understanding A Different Culture

Understanding CultureUnderstanding a different “culture” is more than just knowing about traditions and foods of a place you are visiting. It’s understanding what different countries & people value, or find humorous or consider offensive. For example, this conversation that really happened to me:

“Jen, did you sit behind a computer the whole time you were in the states?”

“Why?”

“Because you look a little bit fat.”

Gasp! This is a real life conversation I had with one of my African friends upon returning to S. Africa after 2+ months of traveling around the U.S. and England. I mean, yes, there were a few more fat cells stuck to my thighs, midsection, and derrière (thank you Austin food trucks), but no one is supposed to actually point that out, right? Isn’t is supposed to be rude to say things like that?

Well, that’s what my American culture tells me. Fat equals a four letter word that should never be used to describe someone, and is definitely not a compliment to an American’s ears.

Did you know that calling someone fat in African culture is a compliment?

Take a moment to wrap your head around that one. I’ve lived in Africa on … >> 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.

How To Make the Most of a Disneyland Weekend

How to Make the Most of a Disneyland Weekend | Petit ElefantDisneyland is called the Happiest Place on Earth, and my family is not disagreeing.

After taking our very first trip to the West Coast park last summer, I’ve been back solo four times since, which translates to some pretty good tips to help you make the most of each visit.

And just as I did in my Walt Disney World post, I focused on basic ways you can make a long weekend at the parks that much more pixie dusted for your family. Bonus: Disneyland is a lot smaller than Walt Disney World, which means hitting a lot more attractions before the kids start getting tired.

How to Make the Most of a Disneyland Weekend | Petit ElefantDisneyland is always busy, making it a little tricky to figure out when the very best time to visit might be. That being said, the least busy times (it’ll still be crowded) are the first few weeks of December. The Christmas decorations are out and the general merriment in the air is awesome. Other “slower” times are usually when school is first back in session (excluding any school holidays or three-day weekends), early January, just before most schools start Spring Break, and almost any time mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday).

There are three themed hotels on property at Disneyland – Disney’s Grand … >> 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).

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!

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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.

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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.