Tea Collection Perfect Holiday Sweepstakes

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Save 25% on Select Tea Collection Holiday Styles & Enter to Win $500 to Tea!

New festive outfits await, including tons of special occasion styles and other mix-and-match favorites. For three days only, beginning Friday, (11/3) through Monday, (11/6) you can save 25% on select holiday styles with code: TWIRL

Plus…you could win over $2,500 in holiday goodies for the whole family with Tea Collection’s Perfect Holiday Sweepstakes! It’s a season of celebration and they’ve teamed up with Amour Vert, Farmacy Beauty, Melissa & Doug, Paper Culture and Red Tricycle. One winner will receive over $2500 in prizes, including:

• $500 Tea gift certificate
• $500 Amour Vert gift certificate
• A selection of Farmacy products worth $500
• Star Diner Restaurant ($199.99 retail value) & Winged Dragon Giant Stuffed Animal ($99.99 retail value) from Melissa & Doug
• 2 $250 card vouchers from Paper Culture
• $500 American Express gift card from Red Tricycle

ENTER TO WIN

The sweepstakes will run from Wednesday, (11/1) through Wednesday, (11/15)!

While you are visiting Tea Collection, check out the new fall styles and get a few ideas for activities with your kiddos.

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Fine print:
Enter code TWIRL during checkout to receive 25% off select styles in your order at TeaCollection.com, pre-tax. Offer valid on the purchase of select styles as advertised as the “25% Off Style” at Teacollection.com. Offer expires at 11:59pm PST on 11/6/17. No adjustments on previous purchases. Not redeemable for cash. Cannot be combined with other offers. Limited to stock on hand.

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Flower Pot Costume DIY (Halloween 2017)

Happy Halloween! As every since our oldest was born, we had a family Halloween costume this year. A few months back, as we sat around the dinner table, the topic of what we should be for Halloween came up and the girls decided they wanted to be butterflies. We then thought my husband could be an entomologist (that studied butterflies, of course) and I would be a flower.

We’ve been talking a lot about pollinators in Girl Scouts and with the various flying insects that have been around our vegetable and wildflower garden this summer.

This costumes were a mix of store bought and DIY (mainly store bought pieces) this year that just needed a glue gun and duck tape. (See how I made my Ringmaster costume.)

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Butterflies – It was easy to find these cute butterfly costumes on Amazon. They came in different colors so the girls could choose their favorite and came with a mask and antenna. Next was picking up a black long sleeve t-shirt and leggings and adding a colored skirt because who doesn’t love a fluffy skirt? The butterfly pieces will go into the dress up box after Halloween and the clothes will go in to their wardrobes as layering pieces.

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Entomologist – My husband’s costume mostly came right out of his closet. We already had the pith hat from his “tiger tamer” costume from the circus Halloween and just picked up a bug net that the girls have been wanting anyways.

Flower Pot – Mine, was the costume that required the DIY this year (last year my costume was an Olaf onesie but I built my husband a Kristoff costume and the year before that I made Alice and Cheshire Cat costumes). I was planning on ordering a flower headband and calling it a day when, on a whim, I decided to see what the folks on Pinterest had to say on the matter and discovered the Flower Pot DIY.

It’s pretty easy and you can customize the container, flowers, etc. If you have a tub that has seen better days, this is a good way to repurpose it or I suppose you could use a large cardboard box. I ended up purchasing a plastic bin for this project and cut out the bottom, using a layer of duck tape to cover it the raw edge so I wouldn’t scratch my legs.

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I raided the local dollar store for the flowers which I then cut off the bunches. Laying the bin on it’s side, I laid out a row of flowers then taped them down with duck tape. Once I went all the way around, I laid added a second row of duck tape to catch all the stem ends. We happen to have green bungee cords with hooks that I could use as suspenders.

I selected a few for the headband, which was purchased at the dollar store, and hot glued them on to make a flower crown. I tied on some ribbon since we were also going to a local Oktoberfest earlier this fall.

Wear the pieces over a green long sleeve t-shirt, jeans, and boots and I was done.

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I didn’t feel as tired as I look in this picture from a trunk-or-treat event but I worked my flower pot into the theme for my trunk (rainy weather ended up making us take it inside).

What’s next?

I wonder if the girls will be on board with a family costume next year? Hopefully, we can come up with something that works for everyone but we’ll have to wait and see.

 

Looking for more Halloween fun? Check out these felt Monster Faces.

In Dayton, Ohio? Dayton Contemporary Dance Company is hosting its first Trunk-or-treat event! Oct 31, 6p-8p at 840 Germantown Street, Dayton, there will be a DJ, games, food trucks and candy outside plus dance demonstrations inside. Pick up a code for discounted tickets to the holiday performance, The Littlest Angel, in December 2017. Then, be sure to swing by the Stoddard Street Pumpkin Glow near Dayton Art Institute, a Dayton tradition.

Blue Star Museums – Kicking off summer!

Memorial Day is upon us so that means it’s time for Blue Star Museums to kick off for the summer! What is Blue Star Museums?

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America.  Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Every summer we are happy to get to explore some of the areas institutions a little more. In Florida we visited the Ringling Museum and MOSI. In Ohio we’ve visited Brukner Nature Center, Dayton Art Institute, Springfield Museum of Art, and Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm with this program. Follow this link to see which museums are participating in your state.

This program is for military and their family but all of these museums sound like great places to visit.

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Now that the girls are a little older, we’ll try exploring a little further this summer as time permits in addition to the Dayton area organizations, Dayton Art Institute (the Experiecenter theme is “performing arts” right now), Sunwatch Indian VillageAullwood Audubon Center and Farm, and Brukner Nature Center. Some of the stops on our summer bucket list this year include:

Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Ohio History Center, Columbus

Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wapakoneta

Take a minute to follow your favorites or get a calendar of events so you can plan a return visit during the year. If you are heading out for a summer trip, add one to your vacation itinerary. If you are new to taking children to museums, Blue Star Museums has some tips here.

 

Did you know that this is a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program? The NEA is currently looking at funding being eliminated but arts advocates would like to see an increase in funding from its FY17 $148 million to $155 million. That sounds like a big number doesn’t it? However, it actually only makes up 0.004 percent of the federal budget. Did you know that the nonprofit arts industry supports 4.13 million jobs and contributes $729 billion, or 4.2% of the gross domestic product? That sounds like a pretty good return on investment.

In case you were wondering, if the increases to the NEA had grown in relation to inflation it would be over $300 million at this point. Given that 40% of its money goes out to the 50 states to be redistributed, imagine how many more afterschool arts programs, theatre camps, and writing workshops there could be in all congressional districts. NEA also funds Art Works, Our Town, Rig Read, and Creativity Connects programs.

If you would like to let your representatives know that you support funding for the arts that reaches all Americans, take a moment to let them know by clicking here and help #SavetheNEA.

 

I have not been paid by any organizations mentioned in this post I just enjoy them and want other people to enjoy them, too!

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Thanks, Moana

We are still pretty hard core Frozen fanatics over here, but Moana has been creeping into playtime more and more lately.

We had a trip to Florida planned to visit family and go to a wedding so I worked in a stop at my parents beach condo just outside of Fort Lauderdale. Every time we have been up until now it ends up being windy or rainy or too chilly or all of the above. If the weather is half way decent, my girls have way more interested in the pool than the sand.

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Thanks to Moana, however, the girls have been interested in the beach and the ocean so they were quite excited to hit the beach on this visit. Still, I wasn’t sure how long they’d last or if they’d be willing to give the ocean a try.

We ended up spending at least an hour playing in the sand, collecting and exploring shells, chasing birds, running from the waves, and enjoying time with my Mom and sister, Erin. Erin found a little friend we named “Tommy,” as in Tomatoa, the crab from Moana, since we thought it might be some sort of crab. Turns out it was a fighting conch.

The moment of truth finally came and the girls tentatively tiptoed into the ocean. My sister and I had been walking around in the water off and on trying to coax them out but, of course, they weren’t going to try it out until they were good and ready.

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Thankfully, the tide was out so we could walk out a bit and still only be mid calf high. The girls splashed around, sat in the water, and jumped over waves. While Kelsey was sitting down a wave went over her head – I froze up for a moment, nervous that it would end Kelsey’s time in the ocean but, thankfully, she laughed it off and went on having fun.

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We did eventually head up to the pool – after putting Tommy back in the water and dragging our sea shell finds up with us to go through. We ended up bring back a good sampling of shells and fossils that we looked up to identify so Kelsey could take them into school to share with the class. Poor Aubrey was wiped out and fell asleep on the floor for a while.

I thought I’d take a little “we’re in the ocean” selfie only to realize later that Kelsey decided to show off the bucket she was playing with and cover her sisters face in the process. I posted it anyways and ended up getting featured on Average Parent Problems on Instagram. With over 4,900 “likes” I guess a lot of parents have had this little problem.

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It was a great day at the beach. So, thanks, Moana, for finally convincing my girls that the ocean is awesome! And thanks to my Mom and sister for helping to make the day happen.

New Year’s Resolution: See More Art (Part 1)

I can’t keep a New Year’s Resolution to save my life. The only time in the past few years I did was one I decided to make something new each month. Although I failed to blog about the different projects, I actually did try a new craft or recipe each month. I ended the year with a bang by sewing my first pillowcase dress for Kelsey.

As New Year’s 2017 was approaching, I thought about what I should and could make my resolution. I’ve been trying to make a bigger effort to get more involved in the local arts community. It’s funny because my job is in the arts but between the nights and weekends that I’m out for work related events, my husbands schedule, the girls activities, and the cost of babysitters, I don’t get out to much else.

I decided that I would get out to something arts related at least once a month for 2017. So far it’s going well.

First up I made it out to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH to catch a performance in an art gallery by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Associate Artistic Director and my x2 New York City roommate, Crystal Michelle. I have enjoyed getting to know her and her thought process from late night chats and watching her work. The art exhibition and performance were part of a series “Living in Divided States.” Crystal’s performance explored the black female body and both the imagined and real experiences of being in one.

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I won tickets to Pinkalicious the Musical at the Victoria Theater, Dayton, OH from Dayton Parent Magazine. The whole family made the trip into downtown to catch the show. The girls loved looking around the interior of the theater and watching the show while wearing pink.

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I had some time to kill before Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s performance downtown the first weekend of March so I stopped it to check out Dayton Visual Arts Center for the first time. They have a new show every couple of months and have been a good support for local artists and is the home to an Art-o-mat, a converted cigarette vending machine that now sells small pieces of local art. I happened to pop in during the annual college exhibition. It was an interesting mix and representing a variety of disciplines.

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Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s show, Vantage Points, was absolutely amazing. I’ve been waiting for this performance since it was announced at our staff meeting last January. I’ve watched pieces of it come together in the studio all year and it did not disappoint. Wawa Aba by Stafford Berry, Rainbow Round My Shoulder by Donald McKayle (which DCDC won a 2016 Bessie Award for), and a new work, This I Know For Sure, by Ray Mercer. It was a program of outstanding, emotional, and riveting works. Ray’s piece being new was the one I was anticipating the most – pretty much a tie with getting to see the famous Rainbow Round My Shoulder live.

This I Know For Sure was just a stand out. Dancers fly through the air, climb all over each in new ways, continually introducing new groupings and partnering between a variety of dancers. Two favorite moments for me were the ladies trio (a statement of the strength and beauty of women) and a portion of the men’s piece were one female dancer seems to entice each of them, standing and expecting to be carried by each of them in turn while giving up nothing of herself. It was a wonderful experience to hear the audience explode with applause after oohing and awing through the piece.

 

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Photo by Scott Robbins, Geek with a Lens

Next up, I’ll be heading down to Cincinnati March 18 to watch Cincinnati Ballet’s Bold Moves. An evening of two contemporary dance pieces. They seem to be having a stellar year with Coppelia and Camelot ballets earlier this season – if you don’t yet, you should follow them on Instagram and Facebook for behind the scenes photos and fun videos like this one from Camelot when they took the puppet horse out for a stroll.

The first piece is going to be Minus 16 by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, creator of the Gaga method of dance which explores new ways to use the body (no relation to Lady). A quick search of Minus 16 on YouTube will give you a sampling of this work with seems to have become a modern day contemporary dance classic. The second work is a world premier by Cincinnati Ballet Resident Choreographer Adam Hougland. His brand new work is set to Beethoven’s String Quartet “Op. 18, No. 1 in F Major”, performed live on stage by the award-winning Israeli ensemble, Ariel Quartet.

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Photo by Aaron M Conway

 

Unfortunately, I’ll be heading to Washington DC for National Arts Advocacy Day (check it out at #ArtsAdvocacy) so I won’t be able to take the girls to their second company’s Ballet Toybox performance of Swan Lake, Jr on March 19. It’s an hour long performance for children 10 and younger. Check it out if you’re nearby.

This is just Part 1 of this series so I’ll update you in a few months on my next few art adventures. If you would like to take a moment to show your support of the arts, sign Americans for the Arts Action Fund’s petition for support of the arts.

2016 Year in Review

Taking a moment to reflect on the past year. 2016 was a pretty eventful year for the VanHuss family. A lot of opportunities and new experiences but they sometimes brought challenges and more questions than we had answers for. We had a lot of fun, too, and my husband and I started #hussofhouse4 on Instagram to have a shared place for our snapshots to live. We even had our Frozen family Halloween costume included in Mommy Short’s “best of” list!

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The most significant change for our family this year was buying our first home. A little piece of the American dream. We moved in the month of July and the girls have had a blast here. We have plenty of space for everyone to spread out inside and lots of space for the girls to play outside. Summer evening walks to the ice cream shop have already become a habit and we’ve been enjoying the fireplace this winter. We are looking forward to taking full advantage of the garden beds in the backyard and the cherry tree in the spring, hoping it’s as “fruitful” as the blackberry bushes were this summer.

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Kelsey has had an exciting year. This summer she made her stage debut as a Munchkin in La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz. She had a great time participating in it, even if she was not the most diligent actress. I think it was a good experience for her to get her feet wet in an experience where she needed to be independent of mom and dad and it was a learning experience for mom and dad, too, going from being on the stage to being responsible for getting a child to the stage. The cast became a second family for her this summer and I definitely was heart eyes watching her out there (even if she was waving at me from the stage).

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She also started Kindergarten this year and became a Daisy Girl Scout. I’ve been looking forward to this year since we found out she was going to be a girl. I’ve been lucky enough to start a troop for her with 2 other parents sharing the leader position and responsibilities. We have 16 girls in the troop (18 if you count the 2 unofficial “tagalongs”!).

Not to be completely out done, Aubrey potty trained this year. That’s huge when you no longer have to buy diapers and can sell your full stash of cloth diapers (which also means no more washing cloth diapers!).

My husband got promoted this year. In the middle of trying to get settled in the new house and Kelsey’s Munchkin commitment, we got to celebrate his career accomplishments with his parents. The girls got to tack his stripe on at the ceremony.

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As for me, it’s been a busy year traveling between my new position at work, being selected for a leadership mentoring program, and being a cancan dancer. I spent a few days in New York City, Milwaukee, and Orlando each at different performing arts booking conferences representing Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. As part of Dance/USA Institute for Leadership Training a attended the annual conference in Austin and then did a site visit to DANCECleveland. I spent another couple of days at the Cleveland Oktoberfest with Madame Gigi’s Outrageous French Cancan Dancers along with a handful of performances around the Miami Valley. (TL: The Bronze Fonz in MLK, TR: my companion at conferences, BR: Breakfast Tacos in Austin, BL: cancan at A World A’fair)

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As a family we’ve done a bit of travel, too. We combined one of my trips to Cleveland and Orlando into family getaways. My family met us in Orlando and my parents, sister, and brother-in-law planned out an exciting day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for us. We closed out 2016 with a short trip to Columbus. (TL: Cleveland rocks, TR: WDW Animal Kingdom, BR: COSI Science Museum in Columbus, BL: a little R&R in Orlando)

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We’ve been to local attractions like Dayton Art Institute and Newport Aquarium a few times, picked strawberries, blueberries, and apples, went to a handful of local festivals, have tried to make Sundays family game night, been on countless walks and hikes, tried a bunch of new restaurants, saw a couple of movies at the theater, went out to a few light displays for the holidays, volunteered…no wonder the year has flown by!

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Here’s hoping 2017 is kind to our family but we’ll have to wait and see. I know we’ll be tossing our water, eating our sauerkraut and black eyed peas, and munching our 12 grapes for all the luck we can get in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

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Marvel Universe Live! Recap

My husband took our almost 5 year old to Marvel Universe Live! tonight in Cincinnati. Nothing like a little father daughter bonding with a couple of the world’s best superheroes!

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They enjoyed the action and stunts. They enjoyed seeing the different heroes and all ages were able to connect to the show and everyone in the crowd had a good time.

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The Marvel Universe will be in Cincinnati Thursday, Dec. 17 – Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster. Kid’s tickets start at $20! (Not valid on premium seating.  No double discounts.  Child discount applies to children ages 2-12.  Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.)

Follow Marvel Universe Live! on Facebook and Twitter and check out #MarvelUniverseLive.

While you are waiting for it to come to your town, check out these fun Marvel Universe inspired activities on Pinterest!

 

*I received items in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are my own.*