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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Your Best Travel Destination According to the Zodiac

Everyone has a travel style, and your personality can totally mesh with that and create a fantastic and perfect vacation destination for you. Even if you don't believe in horoscopes and astrology, you have to admit that sometimes they're correct. Orbitz has rounded up travel styles and your perfect trip based on your astrological sign.



I'm a Sagittarius, and I adore a good road trip. I also like a big, once-in-a-lifetime trip. I'm lucky to have gone on several trips that some people will only dream of or be able to go on once. This year will see me on one of those trips to Scotland and England. 

My hubs is a Gemini and likes anywhere he can chill out, but also loves new places that are beautiful and Ecuador was actually one of our best trips, while also being one of our most aggravating. We learned a lot about travel and ourselves, and we'll definitely go back at some point. It's gorgeous, outdoorsy, historical, and an amazing place for travelers on a budget (and even those not on one). 

Do you think your ideal vacation destination based on your astrological sign is accurate for you? 

Monday, August 19, 2019

6 Ways To Avoid Losing Touch With Loved Ones On Your Travels

If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in your new adventure and forget about friends and family. However, staying in touch with your loved ones while you travel is pretty easy - plus things can change quickly back home, and your loved ones will likely want to hear all about your adventures and live vicariously through you. Below, you’ll find 6 ways to avoid losing touch with loved ones on your travels:



1. Send Postcards


It’s always fun to receive a postcard in the post, so why not send a postcard back home whenever you visit somewhere new? They probably aren't the best way to keep everybody super informed, but they are fun to send and receive.

2. Get A Phone Especially For Travel


If you’re traveling for an extended period, it’s probably a good idea to get a phone especially for travel. Get a sim card that you can easily top up as you go and use that to stay in touch with the people you love. You probably won’t be spending too much time using your current contract while you travel, so it makes no sense for you to pay a bigger chunk of money each month than you need. Only pay for what you really need when you get a phone especially for travel. If you get a cheaper phone, you won’t be so tempted to spend ages living your life through a screen, either! 

3. Set Up A Special Email Address

Having a special email address means you’ll have somewhere all of your travel correspondence is documented. You’ll have emails to and from your friends and family, and even after you get home you can look back on them and smile as you reminisce about your trip. Take a look at how to set up an iCloud email login and you’ll have an easy time of doing this. 

4. Use Skype

Skype will help you if you’re feeling homesick, as you get to see the faces of your loved ones and interact that way. It can be better than a phone call, especially since you can Skype multiple people at once and have a group catch up! 

5. Start A Blog

How about starting a blog? It may take time, but a travel blog can become profitable. You may be offered free trips and accommodation in exchange for a post, although you’ll need to be consistent. At the very least, you’ll have an online diary of your adventures that you can read through again and again. You might even help others gather the strength to travel too! 

6. Create A Whatsapp Group 

A whatsapp group is a quick and easy way to stay in touch providing you have an internet connection. Add all of your family to one group and your friends to another, and before you know it, it’ll feel like you never left! This is a great way to stay in the loop while you’re away. 
I'd also like to suggest Voxer as an app that you can use for group and individual convos. It's free an easy, plus it has a time stamp for when you actually sent the message, not when it went through, and you can see where a message was sent by clicking on it and looking at the map. I use this when I'm traveling solo in the states as well, just so everyone knows where I am.
How do you stay in touch with your family and friends when you travel?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Packing Light for Big Impact

I am a believer in packing light. I have packed all sorts of ways and I've decided that packing less leaves me less stressed, I have less to carry and fewer things to deal with. I almost never come home with items that were never worn, because I pack carefully and with intention, so everything goes with everything else and I can mix and match each piece I bring along.


If you are worried that not packing outfits per day and matching shoes for each one is going to be your downfall, think of how much happier you'll be when you aren't lugging that 58 lb bag that you also have to check and waste $25+ each way on. I like making my life easier and only having a handful of items in my bag definitely makes it simple to find something to wear each morning and gets me out of the door faster. I make a list before I start packing of what I will need and then choose a few of my favorite pieces and go from there.

fall travel wardrobe

We live in Oregon, so we tend to own quite a bit of Columbia clothing. It's long-lasting, feels great and is perfect for packing, because it's lightweight and moisture-wicking. I have several key pieces that work for most climates. 

Columbia can be spendy, but I recommend buying on sale. You may also want to check out REI, Backcountry, ExOfficio, Lucy (for women) or Anatomie (also for women). Items made with soy or bamboo are great for warmer climates, because they are odor resistant. You might also like linen for the breathability. There are lots of great travel brands out there and many don't even look like they are, so you don't stick out as a tourist, but are still comfortable in the heat (or the cold, depending on when you travel).

I also am a layer-er. I always travel with a scarf/wrap a lightweight jacket and a cardigan or two. This way I'm covered if it gets cooler at our destination and for the chills on the plane. It may seem silly, but on the plane I wear a pair of stretchy jeans, comfortable slip-on shoes, a t-shirt, a cardigan and a scarf. If it gets warm, I can shed some layers, but if it's cold, I'm set. I have this awesome HappyLuxe wrap that I can also use as a blanket. In fact, I can wear it as a scarf while also covering my lap if my legs are cold.

Layering also gives you the ability to wear part of your travel outfit at your destination, so I always dress with that in mind. I work with three bottoms and four-five tops total. When they all go together, you have 12-15 different outfits. You can see how I've made different looks with each of these tops and bottom combinations.

I usually toss in an easy dress  that can work for day and night, then go with just two pair of shoes. Both should be great for walking and at least one of them should work for your dress. These are the shoes I took on our trip to New Orleans: a pair of ballet flats and a pair of walking sandals. Both pair went with everything I packed, so I mixed it up each day depending on how I was feeling. 

summer travel wardrobe

I try not to pack shoes that might be too constrictive, because then if my feet swell, I'm SOL and uncomfortable. Of course, I bring a pair of compression socks to wear while I'm hanging out in my room, but that doesn't do me any good if it's hot and my shoes don't work with socks.

Throw some accessories in your bag to give you some other options. This sunhat works for when I'm somewhere with a lot of sun and I'd like to keep my face from turning into a lobster (even with sunscreen this can happen pretty easily). A good piece of jewelry can literally turn a day dress into a nighttime one, especially if it's a cute little black dress, which is what I take with me everywhere. It's a wrap dress my Lucy Activewear, so it's breathable and sporty feeling, but can be dressed up a bit for a nice dinner. Easy! 

Now all your clothes fit in a carry-on. You know where all your things are. You don't have to wait at the carousel for your luggage. You don't have to pay baggage fees. You don't have to break your back trying to get your bag up stairs. Now, you just need to get working on making your toiletries lighter.

What are your biggest issues with packing light?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What's In My Carry-On (UK Edition)

Everyone who knows me jokes about how early I pack. I have panic dreams about traveling with two mismatched shoes, a pair of shorts (in the winter) a pajama top and no money or phone chargers. I will pack a month - sometimes more - before I leave, even with a packing list.


Well, this works in your favor, because as I pack, I also take pics along the way. I pack a bit differently when I go on am overseas trip than I do if I'm, say, going to Vegas. I have enough experience to know what I definitely need and what can be bought (or what can, but will cost a stupid amount of money). So, let's take a look at what's going on my carry-on personal item, because clothes are a whole different ball of wax and a post of their own. I'll also be sharing these things on Instagram, but going into more depth here.

Snacks

I never go anywhere without snacks. Not on the plane. Not in the car. Not to a theme park. Not to work. Not to the store. You never know when hunger can strike and I'm a demon when I get hungry, so snacks galore. You'd look in my purse and think I had kids. I do not.

Some of my favorite things I'll be bringing along: (huckleberry) banana bread, beet chips, chocolate covered espresso beans, Wheat Thins, granola bars, salami, grapes, Laughing Cow and Babybel cheese. I have a cute thermos for the cold things and I have an expandable food container for the big stuff, and Stasher bags for chips and beans. All of these can be reused on my trip and on my return home, either for more snacks or for loose items that I don't want broken.

Laptop

I can't travel without my laptop. I use it to keep up on emails, upload pics, write posts and look up directions.

Cardigan

No matter how you prepare, the plane is never what you expect. It's either too hot or too cold and there's never enough legroom. I lawyer on the plane and generally wear a thin t-shirt, possibly a long-sleeve top over that, and a cardigan. That way I'm prepared for everything.

Coat

Now, I'm probably not going to wear my coat on the plane, unless it's really cold, but they always take up too much of my large carry-on, do I either stuff it next to me in my seat or, probably in this case, put it under my laptop for extra padding. 

Please, whatever you do, don't use up extra bin space with your big puffy coat until everyone has put their bags away. I will call you out and/or smash it up there with my bag for you being inconsiderate.

Neck pillow

Now, I know everyone is different, as I've been told that my choice of neck pillow is "the worst" and "nobody should ever buy it", but my opinion is my opinion, just as they are entitled to theirs. Eric and I adore the FaceCradle and FaceCradle Lite, because it doesn't go around your neck in the traditional sense. It hangs on the seat back behind you and then you adjust it so it's comfortable for you to just lean forward into it. This alleviates neck pain and also back pain. It's really good for taller people as well, because leaning forward gives you a bit more space. 

If this doesn't sound like the neck pillow for you, I highly suggest the Cabeau Evolution Cool - which is made of memory foam and a mesh overlay to avoid sweating - or the Hoodie Pillow - which is more affordable and also has a soft hoodie that can cover your eyes to block out light.

Water bottle

I like to stay hydrated, but those little cups they give you on the plane are just that. Little. I bring along a reusable insulated thermos that I fill with cold water before we board the plane and then it stays cold until we arrive at our destination or until it's empty. Whichever comes first. When I get to my destination, I use it for coffee and water to save money while out and about.

iPad mini

I love my Mini. It has enough juice to last hours and hours, plus I can play games, watch movies/shows, read, listen to podcasts and make notes. It's lightweight, so it doesn't take up that much room, and it fits in my purse. If you don't bring along a laptop, you can use it to get on the internet too, so you can check/send email, look up directions, etc.

Phone charger

I use my phone a lot when I travel, even on the plane, because I have a few games on there I like and I enjoy bogging on it sometimes. Most long-haul flights are on planes that have outlets in the seats for your electronics, so I can make sure it's charged before we arrive.

Battery backup

For flights that don't have outlets, I bring along my battery backup. Not just for the plane, but also when I get to my destination, because running out of power sucks.

This is not the entire list of things I'll be packing, but I'll definitely be posting a series of items that can be found in my bag while I'm traveling. Also, please follow me on Instagram for more posts like this one. 


What are your go-to items for long flights (or even short ones)?



Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through them, I may be compensated + I will be grateful for your support of my blog.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Shereen Travels Cheap Turns 9

My little blog is turning NINE years old today! I can't believe it's been that long, and also it feels much longer at the same time. As always, I like to reflect on the past year and the coming year (and beyond).

Photo by Vladas Kalnys on Unsplash
This past year has been a pretty good one. We took a wonderful, history-filled trip to Philadelphia and a short trip to Vegas this summer. I hit up Vegas for the Travel Goods Show earlier this year and this time last year I was on a girls' trip to Los Angeles. So, let's look at this coming year:

September 2019 will see us in the UK. We'll be headed to Edinburgh for a family wedding, where I will also be working with Visit Scotland to bring you all the awesome stuff in the city on my 4 days not spent doing family stuff (and possibly while doing family stuff, like going falconing at a castle!). I'll also be working with The Cauldron Edinburgh to show you the awesomeness that is the literal magic of creating cocktails with a wand. This place originated in London and has been growing fairly quickly. The Edinburgh location just opened last month. 

After that, we'll jump on a plane for a return trip to London, where we have a schedule packed with free activities, but I'll also be working with London Pass to show you how it can save you money on your trip, while also allowing you to do more than you thought. 

Next year I'll be headed to the Travel Goods Show in New Orleans in March, which I'm super excited about. My mom will join me on the non-work part of that trip, so I hope to show her some of the cool places we hit up last time, and also see some other places as well. 

July we will make our annual return to Vegas for NBA Summer League and for me to do some solo travel around the city to explore new places that I haven't had the chance to see yet.

Beyond this next year, here's what I have planned:

September 2020 we're returning to Orlando for a week and a half to hit up the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and Universal to return to Hogwarts. My friend, Melisa, who joined me in LA last year has plans to come out and meet us.

December 2020 might see me on a girls' trip to NYC, though that really depends on timing and finances. We'll cross our fingers and hope for the best. It'll be short and sweet if we can swing it. My friend will be there for a conference and her daughter and I will entertain ourselves doing touristy things while she's doing that.

In February/March 2021 my mom and I will be in Vegas again for the Travel Goods Show, and food, because food is awesome. And then in July 2021, Eric and I will be back.

Fall 2021 we're planning a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. Past that we have a list of want-to-visit places:

Boston
Minneapolis St Paul
Toronto, ON
Branson, MO
Tokyo - this is our ten-year destination, so 2029!

I'm really looking forward to a great, new destination each year, while also planning a few visits to Disney parks probably, because we can't really stay away. 


Are there places you've been or are looking forward to going that you think I should put on my list? 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review: Anti-Theft LockDown Bag from Travelon

Summer is still happening and there are probably a lot of you with trips planned to the beach or places with pools. Places where you're likely to bring stuff you need (like car keys, your phone, and credit cards), and also want to go swimming and have to leave that stuff so it doesn't get wet. If you're like me, you worry about things even when they are hidden and you're 5 feet away. 


Travelon has designed their LockDown bags for your travels, whether they take you to the beach, the pool, a hostel or your kid's soccer game. These slash-proof bags let you store your phone, your wallet, and any other valuables you need to bring with you. We often find ourselves in these situations and could really use a bag like this.


The LockDown is easy to use and has a a wide, reinforced strap that can wrap around a beach chair, a pole, a bed headboard...basically anything that is fixed and can't be run away with. Not only does this mean it's secure, but knowing that it will take extra work to steal, thieves look for easier targets. 



We stay in a lot of rentals, and generally bring valuable items with us that we don't always take with us each day we go out. Considering at least a few other people have keys to get in, I guess not all of these rentals are super secure, meaning I could use this bag to stash things like extra cash, passports, and an emergency credit card. This could also go for hotels where people are coming in to clean the room or make repairs. Perhaps you like to stay in hostels to save money or you live in a dorm with roommates. 



Have you ever been traveling and come across a cool activity, like ice skating, where you can't take your shoes or bags? Well, this bag can save you from having to miss out on these cool things or having to stuff your pockets full of things that are cumbersome and bulky. Whatever your situation, you can totally find a great use for this LockDown bag. 

The large size LockDown can hold quite a bit more than you expect. I put a pair of sunglasses, my hotel key, a bottle of sunscreen a phone and some cash in it and probably could have fit another phone and probably my go husband's wallet. No more never taking your eyes off your beach chair or making someone stay behind to watch your stuff. You don't have to trust others, just Travelon's ability to make a great, anti-theft bag. 


Your LockDown comes with a solid brass combination lock that's customizable to whatever 4-digit number you want. It's pretty hefty, so you know it'll keep your items safe. Nobody's going to spend time trying to come up with the combination when they can grab the unattended and uncovered items off the neighboring blanket. 



A couple of tips: You can't stuff this bag to the brim with things, because you are going to cinch the top closed and then use the strap to wrap around a thing. Pull the strap until you see the grommets and then put the lock through that and the end o-ring. It cinches closed very tightly, so you can't get anything in or out of the bag.

This bag is not waterproof, so if you are going to take it to the beach or the pool and are using it for things you don't want to get wet, you may want to bring along a zip-top bag for those things and then put them inside. I DID set it on a wet surface with my things inside, and though the bag was wet, the items were dry, but it wasn't a prolonged contact, so I would definitely think ahead. 



There are tons of reasons to need a LockDown bag from Travelon, and you'll never regret having one when you do need it. If you aren't sure which size to get, I definitely suggest getting the larger one, especially if you travel as a couple or have kids. Because it cinches, you're probably only going to be able to fill it 2/3 full. 


More details:
Where can I buy it? On the Travelon website
How much do they cost? $58 (large) - Use code SHEREENTRAVELS20% to get my exclusive discount.
What colors do they come in? Gray (shown)
Other specs: one-piece construction made of SafeTex, 9.25" x 13"


Show Travelon the love by following them on their social media channels: 


How would this bag improve your travels?


Disclosure: Travelon sent me the Anti-Theft LockDown Bag for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Review: Anti-Theft Heritage Weekender Carry-All from Travelon

While at the Travel Goods Show this year, I was in the Travelon booth and started talking to a journalist friend of mine who was talking to a fellow blogger. He asked me how much he thought I could get into Travelon's new Heritage Weekender that I was raving about. I said at least a week, including shoes, so on our last trip to Vegas, I challenged myself to just that...

...except I packed two people's clothes and shoes inside to show how spacious it was. The Heritage Carry-All Weekender is a gorgeous bag made of the canvas that the whole Heritage line comes in (which you know I adore, because the more you beat it up, the better it looks) and has a wide-mouth opening that I couldn't stop going on about. It's so hard to get things out of a traditional bag, because the zipper only goes end to end and it doesn't open wide enough to get your arm inside or to see what's in there when it's packed/full.


Eric really liked the size and weight of this bag, and looks awesome carrying it. I love that it's not too big to be hard to carry for a smaller person like me, but it's big enough to get everything you need inside.  


Okay, I won't say everything, as I did bring a backpack for my laptop, power cords and snacks. But, I could have used it for all those things if I was only packing for myself. 


This wide opening allows you to pack your items with ease. I liked that I could pack in layers, because the weekender has a nice flat bottom, not the usual shapeless duffel design. You can also open it and see everything inside, because the zipper extends past just the top of the bag. It goes along a bit more of the curve of the opening to give you maximum usability.


I packed sandals (because we wore our bulkier walking shoes on the plane) and used them as a means to squash down the rest of our clothes. Even with it full to the brim, the bag closed easily with its heavy-duty zipper.

Here you can see all the things that were inside the bag: two pair of sandals, underwear, 10 shirts, 5 pair of shorts, a skirt, a swimsuit, swim trunks, socks, my mesh laundry basket, and a wrap/sarong. I promise you, everything on this bed (and a few things not pictured) came out of that bag when we arrived.


Inside the bag, you'll find a great RFID-blocking zipper pocket to hold your wallet and/or passports. It's pretty large, so you could get quite a bit in there, especially if you're using this as your personal item size bag and need to be in charge of everyone's passports on a longer trip. I also really love the striped fabric inside, because it makes it brighter inside and easier to find things without a light. 


Each end of the inside of the bag has a large elasticized pocket for shoes or other items you like to know exactly where they are, like your toiletries or underthings. I used one for shoes and the other for my laundry basket.


The outside of the bag has a big zippered pocket that can hold a ton of things too. It takes up the whole bottom front of the bag. Use it to keep those things you want to get at quickly, like your phone charger, snacks, or games.


Now, let's talk about the anti-theft features on this bag. The removable shoulder strap is heavy duty, padded, and adjustable, so it works comfortably for everyone. It even has locking clips and is reinforced to be slash-proof. You can wrap the strap around a large object, like a table or chair to deter thieves. 

If you choose to put valuables in your front pocket, you're covered, because the zipper clips to a D-ring, making it quite a bit harder for thieves to get to your goods without you reealizing what's happening. They will try to go for someone who's an easier target.



The top zipper also clips onto a small D-ring on the bag, keeping your zipper firmly closed when you want it to be. The bag itself is also slash-proof, so you won't need to be worried if you're traveling to/from the airport on public transit. And if you put it in the overhead on the plane, you can feel secure in the safety of everything inside your bag as well. 


As with all larger Travelon bags, this one features a pass-thru strap, so you can attach it to the top of your rolling bag, should you choose to take more than one piece of luggage, saving your back from having to deal with multiple bags when you reach your destination or wandering the airport. I can't tell you how sucky it is to have to carry a bag and roll another one over sidewalks, cobblestones, or asphalt. It's even worse when you have to go up and down escalators and try not to take up so much space on public transit. 

I can't wait to take my next trip to use this bag again. In fact, this is going to make a wonderful personal item size for our UK trip. If you have been looking for a new weekender bag, this one should be a top contender. It's simple, but has all the best features you want in a weekender bag.


More details:
Where can I buy these totes? On the Travelon website
How much do they cost? $115 - Use code SHEREENTRAVELS20% to get my exclusive discount.
What colors do they come in? Pewter (shown)
Other specscotton-poly canvas & suede, Strap Length: 24" x 52", Strap Drop Length: 15" x 28"


Show Travelon the love by following them on their social media channels: 


Where would you take this bag on your travels?


Disclosure: Travelon sent me the Anti-Theft Heritage Weekender Carry-All for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Stop Your Next Long Flight From Becoming A Nightmare

Do you hate long flights or love them? To be honest, there are actually very few people that fall into the latter category and it’s not hard to understand why. Long flights can be boring, they can be uncomfortable, and they might also get delayed. So, here’s how to handle this issue and make sure that your next flight isn’t a nightmare. 


Arrive Early 

While this might seem silly because it ultimately makes the experience even longer, arriving to the airport early is going to save you a lot of stress. You won’t be staring at your watch as you try to make your way through security. You also won’t have to worry about potentially getting delayed as you try and check in. You’ll have time to spare and this can be very reassuring, particularly if you are a nervous flyer. 

Check First Class

There’s nothing better than flying first class for a long flight. Now, we know what you’re thinking. There’s no way that this is going to fit into my budget. Well, did you know that there are often cancellations at the last minute? It’s true and this leaves first class tickets available at discounted prices. It’s a secret not many people know but all you need to do is ask at the gate. This is going to add a little extra onto the cost. But it’s always worth it to experience first-class flights even once. Particularly, if you’re travelling a long distance. 

Upgrades are also often available for special occasions. So, be sure to mention it if you’re travelling on your anniversary or honeymoon

Take Everything You Need

Flights are pretty great at providing everything you want to make sure that your trip is as comfortable as possible. But there are cases where things are forgotten or they just don’t have enough. That’s why you should make sure that you are taking your own sleeping mask. Luxury options are available from sites like Ashley and Constance which will ensure that wearing one feels like absolute heaven. 

You should also make sure that you are taking items that won’t be provided by the flight but will make your journey far better. This includes a neck pillow. These pillows are particularly recommended if you’re tall or short and don’t fit perfectly into the standard size of seats. It can also guarantee that you don’t get off the plane with a nasty ache. 

Credit Source
Extra Leg Room 

Do you want to make sure that you get more room for your legs? If that’s the case, then we suggest that you think about opting for the seating next to the emergency doors. This ensures that you get extra space at no extra cost. It’s great if you don’t mind having to open the door on the rare chance that the plane might need to make an emergency landing. 

We hope this helps ensure that you do have a pleasant flight next time you are taking a long journey. Remember, there are plenty of other great options to make your flight easier too including natural remedies that will calm your mind and keep you relaxed. 


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Summer Travel Trends Infographic

Summer is in full swing and a lot of people are still planning vacations right now. In fact, many travelers are spending more on summer vacation this year than during the rest of the year, and some are taking more than one trip. Summer is family travel season, so even though solo travel is on the rise, it's more likely to take place throughout the rest of the year. See what other trends are "hot" right now:

9 Hot Summer Travel Trends for 2019 [Infographic]
Infographic by MDG Advertising

Where will you be going for summer vacation? Or where did you go already?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

It's July 31st, which means it's Harry Potter's birthday! The boy wizard is getting a long celebration this year, as we had a great (annual) party this year and also participated in a local Wizarding Weekend last weekend. Over the next two weekends, we'll also be doing some other magical things, which you will be able to follow along to on Instagram, or you can wait for the post (but why wait? Or enjoy both!)



So, for the last two weeks I've been killing myself to put together my house and backyard for our 6th Annual Harry Potter party. This year's theme was Weasley Wizard Wheezes, so there was quite a lot of candy and high jinks.  

{You can click on these to see them bigger.}

In case you don't get it, this year I dressed as the Fat Lady who resides in the portrait that hides the entrance to Gryffindor tower. I found this amazing dress on Etsy and made my own headpiece and necklace. I got a lot of compliments, so I'm guessing I nailed it.


Eric brought back a previous character with an all new costume that I made for him. Ludo Bagman (who is banned from Weasley Wizard Wheezes) played an integral part in the twins' life during book 4, yet they persevered and were still able to open their crazy popular shop. 






Witches and wizards arrive to a feast made by the Hogwarts House Elves (don't worry, they get paid and vacation days). I choose the menu from the food and drink listed in all the books. This year we had pork loin, sprouts, buttered peas, sausage rolls and French onion cups (in honor of Kreacher's best soup). 



We also had chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, licorice wands, and all the sweets from the Skiving Snackboxes.



As always we gave out wands, but since The Wand Chooses the Wizard, it's a mystery until they pull it from the Ollivander cauldron. Then we sort. Everyone gets a pin with their House on it and then we divide everyone up into those respective houses so they can start competing for the House Cup. And everyone gets a goodie bag as a consolation prize.



If you want to see more pics from this party, go check out my Instagram. In the meantime, check out this video walk thru.


Do you like my new House Points board?

And congratulations to the Hufflepuffs who were able to break the 3-year winning streak of Gryffindor!




The cutest family! Colin Creevy, a tiny Luna, and a 50s Puff. Adorable!

On Sunday, we volunteered with the Harry Potter Alliance for their annual school supply drive. We also helped with a costume contest, selling buttons and gave out House Points for a Horcrux hunt throughout a school-turned-hotel.


Eric had Butterbeer, but I opted for this alcoholic Pumpkin Juice.

There was a small, but mighty (and super magical) Diagon Alley where I purchased some some awesome artwork from one of my favorite artists, Sarah Cosico. The hotel even had themed food and drink. 


So, that was my packed weekend. Are you doing (or did you do) anything for Harry's birthday?
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