Life as of late (the most amazing vacation ever).

With the preliminary results of my 2015 reader survey starting to trickle in (there's still time to fill it out for a chance to win a $30 Visa gift card!), I was surprised/shocked to see that one of the more popular topics that I cover on my blog is my life and things going on with me. You'll find out more later with the in-depth results from the survey (which, by the way, you guys have been so awesome and encouraging with!) but for now, I will take that little morsel of advice and run with it. These are, after all, the easiest posts to write. No trips to the store for supplies, no pressure of extra social media post requirements, no stringent post writing guidelines, I can literally write whatever I want. What a breath of fresh air. I should do this more often!

We went on a pretty epic family vacation at the start of 2015 and took some pretty epic photos. I can't believe it, but, I haven't posted them yet or talked about our vacation on this here blog. Well, besides my post about flying with a toddler and getting turned away when we tried to go to the Magic Kingdom (#scarredforlife). I'm overdue for a personal post. I had a ridiculous amount of fun taking these photos (most taken by myself, unless noted). Hope you enjoy:

Vacation on New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

We had the incredible luxury of staying in a townhouse that was practically on the beach in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, otherwise known as my new favorite place on Earth. That's my Dad (otherwise now known as Grandpa) leisurely reading a book while my husband and I help Bean "surf" on a boogie board. My sister captured this memory that shows just how lucky we were to have the majority of the beach to ourselves practically every day.

Vacation on New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

I could not stop taking photos of Bean enjoying the beach. She adored the soft beach sand, and I adored how cute she looked! The gorgeous scenery didn't hurt, either ;)

Skim boarding on New Smyrna Beach

The townhouse had a few skimboards for us to try out (we ended up purchasing one of our own so we could really "go pro"). My knees will forever show just how much fun we had. It wasn't enough for me to have an epic fall once, my stubborn self wouldn't give up until I had ruined both of my knees. My scars are still pretty fresh even 2 months later, beach sand is surprisingly painful to fall on. I have never felt more old and rusty as I have after spending a day skimboarding.

Vacation on New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Auntie Katie had fun making sand castles, Bean had fun destroying them. This photo best describes the theme of the week more than words ever could. I snapped this literally moments before this sand "pyramid" was destroyed.

Vacation on New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Bean definitely had her moments on this trip, don't get me wrong (she is far from a mild mannered, perfect child). I captured her pouting after I or my husband, probably, just got done reprimanding her for not listening.

Vacation on New Smyrna Beach, Florida

There was a crazy amount of moisture in the air for the majority of the evenings which, to my liking, made for some unique lighting situations for the photos. It gave a really soft, hazy light to the photos. Has anyone in FL or someone who has visited FL experienced this before? I was quite perplexed.

Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando Florida

You may have heard about our fiasco in getting turned away from the Magic Kingdom. We found solace in Universal's Islands of Adventure. We really liked it the last time we all went, which was about 5 or 6 years prior. It was raining when we got there, so we decided to escape the drizzle on the Caro-Seuss-el as a family. Needless to say, we experienced different rides this time around with a toddler. Although, thanks to my parents, we were able to escape long enough to go on the big kid roller coasters.

Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando Florida

Bean had a fun time bonding with her Uncle Andy that lives in Houston. It's too bad he doesn't live closer, those two are like peas in a pod!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Islands of Adventure

The coolest addition to the Islands of Adventure since we had been there: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I'm not even a Harry Potter fan and this place made me want to be! It was so magical and well done.

Family vacation at Disney Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida

These are the faces of a family that, after getting up at 5:30 AM and driving for an hour and a half, made it in to the Magic Kingdom on New Year's Day. We weren't taking any chances the second time around. Our sacrifice of sleep really paid off!

Family vacation at Disney Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida

It was adorable how much Bean loved the Magic Kingdom, even at the age of 3. I honestly thought she wouldn't quite get what was going on, but she was truly star-struck by the characters.

Family vacation at Disney Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida

The last time we took this photo, my husband and I weren't even engaged. 7 year later and now we are married with a 3 year old Bean. How time flies!

I've been to FL 4 times now, and the latest was by far my most favorite trip. I truly fell in love with New Smyrna Beach. I am totally spoiled now, I don't think I could ever stay in FL again if I wasn't staying somewhere on the beach that was relatively private. We basically had the beach to ourselves every day, it was magical. I can't wait to go again. It had been about 8 years since we had taken a trip like this, I'm thinking now that it should be a yearly thing.

Have you ever been to New Smyrna Beach? How much did you love it, too?!


Silly faces in the mirror aka teaching Bean how to wash her hands.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FoamSensations #CollectiveBias

Teaching your toddler/child how to wash their hands

As a mom, the first 24 months of your child's life you spend almost the entire time doing everything for them: feeding them, entertaining them, brushing their teeth, dressing them, changing their diapers, you know basically keeping them ALIVE. That's pretty intense when you think about it. Then, once they get older, the stress lies in teaching them how to keep themselves alive. Yikes! I find that I struggle with feeling like a lazy parent when really I'm teaching Bean to be independent. We are currently working on personal hygiene, mainly washing her hands with foaming hand soap, since she is still fairly new to the potty trained scene. 

Silly faces in the mirror

I've always preferred foaming hand soap for her to use when she washes her own hands because it rinses far easier than the other variety. I keep the bottle within reach for her and make sure we have a towel on the sink so she can dry her hands. And can we just take a second to acknowledge the fact that she has yet to take a photo with a normal expression for this post? Silly, silly Bean.

Using foaming hand soap to teach your kids how to wash their hands

As most humans do, she can't stand it when I stay in the bathroom with her while she goes. I have to wait outside the door (crossing my fingers that she doesn't lock them on me AGAIN) until she's done. Then I make sure she follows the Daniel Tiger checklist: "flush and wash and be on your way"! Any other parents out there just sing that to themselves? I think we watch a little too much Daniel...

Using foaming hand soap to teach your kids how to wash their hands

She does a pretty good job with the hand washing. It's the keeping the bubbles and water in the sink that she needs a little work on ;) Needless to say, the bathroom doesn't stay clean very long.

Using foaming hand soap to teach your kids how to wash their hands

We tried the Softsoap Foam Sensations line for the first time and I am very pleased! It's a premium product at a great price. You can find them at Walmart in 3 varieties: Kitchen Citrus Bliss, Jasmine and White Cotton, and Whipped Cocoa Butter. My Walmart didn't have the Kitchen Citrus Bliss quite yet since the line is so new, but I can't wait until they get some in store!

Softsoap premium foaming hand soap

FYI: you can find them in the body wash aisle. I literally walked all around the grocery section before figuring that one out (you're welcome).

Softsoap premium foaming hand soap at Walmart

Are you working with your little one on personal hygiene? What has helped you?


My other forgotten child.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Litter Genie® and Fancy Feast®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #Catparents http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Spoiling my forgotten child with Litter Genie and Fancy Feast

Before there was Bean, there was Kitty. My husband (boyfriend at the time) and I rescued her after one of our just for fun trips to the local humane society. When I saw her in the arms of another family, I knew I had to have her. Luckily, they decided not to take her home (their loss for sure!) She came with the name "Smokey Joe" which I thought was preposterous because she's a GIRL. We named her "Isis" (which turned out to be an unfortunate name in the last year) but we always just call her "Kitty".


DIY abstract gold leaf painting.

I'm always on the lookout for DIY wall art ideas. Being a former "art kid" who took just about every single art class in high school, I cringe at the thought of paying for art to put on my walls. I was very pleased with my first wall art project for my bedroom and the fact that it didn't look too handmade (which is, in my mind, not a good thing when it comes to wall art), so I figured I would tackle another. I had seen a few abstract gold leaf paintings around Pinterest and I loved the look of them. Unfortunately I couldn't find any gold leaf sheets when I made my latest trip to JoAnn's, but I did find some liquid gold leaf. And, to my surprise, I think it turned out even better than the sheets would have.

Take your a wall art to the next level with gold leaf paint! DIY abstract wall art with gold leaf paint tutorial.

This is what I used to have on my wall. The typical, used to be original and trendy, fabric with embroidery hoops hung haphazardly on a wall. I was never quite pleased with the spacing and arrangement, but I didn't dare put any more holes in the wall to try and remedy it.


2015 bre pea. reader survey [and giveaway]

It has been far too long since my last reader survey. I feel like I don't even know you guys anymore... kidding. But really, I would love the opportunity to get to know all of you better. I want the scoop on what you're diggin' here on Bre Pea and what you're not.

As a thank you for your time and valuable input, I am offering up a $30 Visa Gift Card. Have a few grande caramel lattes from Starbucks on me, splurge a little on yourself at Target, heck, maybe even go a little crazy and buy that decorative pillow (pillows are ridiculously expensive, aren't they?!) The opportunities are endless!

Remember, the survey is anonymous, so go ahead and be brutally honest. You will need to enter your email at the end of the survey so that I can validate entry into the giveaway, but I won't be able to tell which answers are yours. Your secret is safe with Google Docs ;)

What are you waiting for? The survey and giveaway close Friday, February 27th. Get surveyin'!

Open to US, Canada, & UK Residents 18+
Ends at 11:59pm CST on Friday, February 27th 2015
Must complete survey to enter, winner will be selected via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


7 mantras for the wanna-be minimalist.

As usual, the annual January decluttering bug hit. I think it hit harder this year than ever before because we've now been in our house for 3 years, and we've also had a spoiled child living in our house for those years (I'm convinced that children's belongings are the catalyst for most decluttering projects). I am amazed at what Bean has amassed! Such is the life of the first grandchild.

In my quest to declutter, I stumbled upon minimalism. I was instantly intrigued. Living with less, having more life. It makes total sense, since most stress starts with disorganization and chaos in the home. At least that's how I feel. It's extremely hard for me to totally relax when I have a messy house looming over my head.

In my research, because I'm a big research and list maker, I found a few tips and rules to follow in order to declutter like a minimalist that really resonated with me. I have had pack rat tendencies since I was a child, I hold on to too many "things" because of the sentiment. Having some quotes to recite in my head when I'm trying to hold on to something unnecessary helped me finally get rid of things. The following are my favorite mantras for the wanna-be minimalist:

7 decluttering tips and minimalist living ideas for organizing your home. Love them all, but #7 is probably my favorite!


How to fix dried out Play-doh.

Bean is definitely my child. I was always a big fan of Play-doh as a kid. I had all of the usual accessories including the primary colored Play-doh press, which was obviously my favorite. Bean is also a huge Play-doh fan. I gave her her first set of Play-doh when she was just 2 years old (with close supervision of course). Needless to say, after a little over a year the original set is starting to get dry and crumbly. Not so easy to fulfill Bean's requests for me to sculpt impossible things out of, "Can you make a Cooper and a bed and me in the bed with Cooper?" Yeah, sure.

How to fix dried up Play-doh

Instead of tossing the dried up Play-doh in the trash, I did a little research to see what I could do to revive it. Surprisingly, it was very easy and required almost nothing!


The #1 best Disney tip I learned the hard way.

Did you know that the Magic Kingdom actually turns people away? Neither did I, until one fateful day. I have now successfully been to the Magic Kingdom a total of 3 times. The first two times were pre-Bean days and were during the spring break season. As for the most recent trip (which was about a month ago), boy oh boy I will never forget the most recent trip for as long as I live. Let me paint you a picture...
the #1 Best Disney Tip I learned the hard way.

You have been hyping up Disney World (or in other words the Magic Kingdom, but kids just call the whole thing Disney World) to your 3 year old for almost a year. She can't stop talking about finally going to "Dis-i-ney Wo-wold" and wants to meet Woody in the worst way. The day finally arrives and you all pile into the rental car with dreams of magical moments that await you. As you get closer to the gates you get more and more excited and hype it up even more to your already excited 3 year old. And then, your heart sinks to your stomach like a ton of bricks when you see the sign... "Magic Kingdom CLOSED". What???! They actually turn people away?! My heart is shattered into a million pieces!!! (at least that's what I was thinking in my head)