What’s So Great about Renfest? Everything!

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When you live in Houston, by the month of August you are begging Mother Nature to do you a solid and lower the temperature from 120 to at least 100, maybe lower if she’s feeling generous. As the fall season approaches a few things happen, a renewed sense of hope that it won’t be blisteringly hot forever, we say goodbye to baseball, hello football (JJ Watt!) and the Texas Renaissance Festival once again graces us with its bold and lively presence.

The Renaissance Festival, or RenFest, is located about 50 miles Northwest of Houston in Todd Mission, TX. Expect bottlenecking on the roads the closer you get, the main route is not especially equipped to handle such huge amounts of traffic. But why should that change? It is only once a year where the city’s residents flock to this otherwise rural and quiet piece of land to have an experience of a lifetime. Once you enter the festival, it is very open and spread out. The crowd is dispersed and will leave you and your family plenty of room to explore.

Here’s where the fun begins. All of the costumed performers are in character all the time; whether you are purchasing meat-on-a-stick, playing festival games, bargaining with shop merchants or simply passing by one of the many performers that are walking around and mingling with guests. Can it get a little bawdy? Sure! Is it over the top? Absolutely! That’s what makes it so special. Plus, you have highly entertaining stage shows running round the clock, a petting zoo, elephant rides, food that any reasonably sane person would probably only indulge in once a year (call back to the meat-on-the-stick), beer, unique artisans, more beer, craft vendors, games and of course, so much more you almost want to go in with a blank slate just to be surprised. By the end the whole family will be speaking with an old timey English accent! Okay, that statement may not be appealing to everyone and, honestly, it’s not likely to happen. However, I highly recommend making the excursion to the Northwest Houston territory to check it out. Bring your family; bring out of town guests! I loved going as a child, then with friends as a teenager, and now as full-blown adult with kids of my own.

Check out their website for ticket information and a list of their themed weekends. I’ve got my sights set on the Barbarian Invasion weekend, but I’m just freaky like that. And bonus, on certain days, kids are free! Have fun! Let me know your favorite part of the Texas Renaissance Festival!

 

 

The Real Birth Day – 1 Year Ago

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On July 14th, 2015 at 9pm, I walked into the hospital and told the lady at the desk that I had an appointment. For the week prior, I had known about this day. At this point, I had no labor pains and no real discomfort, other than the extra 40 pounds I was carrying. In the next 24 hours, I had no food, no drinks, no sleep, 2 epidurals and was hooked up to what felt like an assortment of different cords and cables. Helpful and necessary I’m sure, but they made it really hard to traipse around the room. Then on July 15th, exactly one day after we checked in, she was born. I learned a few things outside of the obvious while I was there.

  1. Tell the doctors and nurses if you have a special condition, even if you don’t think it matters. For example, I have scoliosis and it caused me to have to endure a 2nd epidural because the first needle missed its mark. No one asked me so I never said anything, but, trust me, I wish I would have told someone in advance.
  2. Getting induced is not an easy process. Look it up first and forget about being shy.
  3. You’ll get asked a whole bunch of private questions, so if you have a partner you haven’t been honest with, send them off on an errand when the hospital staff tells you they have more questions. I didn’t have this problem, but just remember, there are no secrets in Laborville.

It has been one whole year since then and the family will be celebrating my daughter’s first birthday this weekend. I actually just signed up to win a much needed Babies R Us gift card at The Mommy Files in hopes of snagging her an extra special present. Check out this great giveaway before July 11, 2016!

Happy 1st Birthday Baby Girl!

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I App-rove of these Money Saving Apps

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I’m a coupon clipping, deal stacking, coin saving freak. My favorite way to save is via smartphone apps. They are usually the easiest way to get cash back for purchases while tracking your savings. Here are my top 5.

  1. Find & Save – Mostly in-store offers, which is why I like it. Once you are set up, all you need to do is check the offers daily. You will see offers like “Spend $100 at Kroger, Get 3% Back”. Just snap a pic of your receipt, upload, then they will transfer the amount into your Find&Save account. When you hit $25, the money goes straight into your Paypal account. Wow. How great is that?! Be sure to only use receipts from your household, they do track this and will disconnect your account if you cheat. It’s not worth it.
  2. Ibotta – You may have heard of this one as it is one of the most popular rebate apps out there. But it’s all for good reason. They have a lot of items to choose from, including retail stores and restaurants. This one may require patience, mainly because if you’re cashing in items that are popular or “Any Brand” (i.e. Buy any brand of milk, get a $0.25 rebate), then it will take a little longer to see significant results.
  3. MobiSave – The best feature of MobiSave is that each and every rebate goes straight into your Paypal account. So you don’t have to get hung up on meeting some savings goal to cash out. They do a fair amount of “Any Brands” which is always a good thing. If you’re an avid magazine reader, definitely sign up. They always seem to have tons of rebates for popular magazines.
  4. Checkout 51 – I like this one because they rarely limit you to a few stores. Most of their products will give you cash back, no matter where it was purchased. That’s a great feature! Plus, every week you can enter a sweeps with any grocery receipt amounting to at least $60.
  5. Savings Star – They stand out because some of their rebates allow you to add up your purchased products over time. For instance, “Buy $25 worth of Angel Soft, get $5 back” and you usually have a couple months to do this. Once you see 5 whole bucks added to your account, it’s a really good feeling.

While you’re at it, go ahead and download Receipt Hog as well. It takes any and all receipts, no matter if they’re yours or your family and friends. This one requires patience, but has a cute slot machine feature which really does add “coins” to your account when you hit a winning combo. Once the coins add up to a certain amount, you can cash in. Some may think all this work is tedious and that’s ok. I think it’s fun and I like the reward at the end of all that extra work. Cold hard cash!

Mapping Out Mother’s Day

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It’s that time of year where well meaning sons and daughters panic a little bit on what to get mom for Mother’s Day. The MOST important day of the year by the way! I’ve found a gift that could be perfect if the mom in your life loves to travel, is planning a vacation or is retired and ready to start her journey as a jet-setting diva! Push Pin Travel Maps are creative, eye-catching and simply a great way to track where you want to go and where you have been. During our honeymoon in Paris, my husband snapped a picture of this map from Père Lachaise – a breathtakingly beautiful cemetery in Mairie De Paris that acts as the final resting place for Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Frédéric Chopin among many other artists. I sure wouldn’t mind a push pin tacked smack dab on Paris, France on a travel map in my home! Have a great Mother’s Day you all!

First blog post

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Oh, hello there. My name is Jessica Waites and I am officially starting this blog for several reasons.

  1. My baby is starting to play on her own and allows me a fraction of a second of extra time to write.
  2. She has also inspired me to write as much as I can so I can tell her later on that I loved something so much that I just did it, even though no one paid me (although I’m accepting offers) and if you really love to do something, just do it.
  3. And lastly, I think it’s a great way to exercise my mind before I only know how to speak in baby babble.

Above is a picture of me. I’m in the middle trying to hide my baby bump, but I see now I may have picked the wrong prop in which to hide it.  My husband is on the right and that there on the left is Lance Berkman. I hope this stirs up some general interest in what this site is going to be about. There will be babies, baseball, movies, music, general musings about life and more. Thank you checking it out!