We Went to Europe and All We Got Were Selfies…


If you follow me on social media, you would have seen that Steve and I just spent the last two weeks of September traveling through Europe.


Our trip was an absolute dream. It was two glorious weeks of walking, talking, eating, and sightseeing. My desire for this trip was to blend in and hopefully appear as locals. Personally, I felt we didn't look very touristy. No fanny-packs, Hawaiian shirts or white knee-high socks. We used our phones for maps rather than clutching a folded paper map. The backpacks we carried weren't too large; perhaps people would think we're students. But this hope was quickly derailed every time Steve threw the Canon strap around his neck and I whipped out my phone to take videos; and this happen A LOT.

We saw everything we could think of and then some more that we just stumbled upon. We came home 16 days later with an unbelievable number of photos and hours of video. A tad overwhelming now, but in the moment, we wanted to capture all we could. As I began to sort through the photos, I started making a list of what we'd do with all of them. I fully plan on making a shadow box for each country, a photo album is likely, and then there is the Christmas card. 


I knew before we left we'd use a photo from the trip for our Christmas card this year. We like to choose a single photo that shows one of our best moments from the past year. 2016 was a picture from our trip to Alaska and the year that before was a photo from our wedding.

I have a short list of qualifications for choosing the perfect Christmas card photo. To start, we both need to be in the photo (duh!). But beyond that, we need a memorable backdrop, good lighting, and be sunglass-free. This is where things start to get tricky.

We came home with several photos that met these requirements. I don't know how I am going to choose!  Luckily, choosing the perfect photo is going to be the hardest part of creating my Christmas cards, all thanks of Basic Invite.

Basic Invite is an online retailer that carries Christmas and Holiday cards, as well as stationary, announcement cards, and any invitation you may need.

To begin, they have nearly unlimited color choices. Once a design is selected, you'll have the ability to change the color of each detail on your card. With over 180 color options, Basic Invite truly gives you the opportunity to create a unique, one-of-a-kind card. This is something you don't find with most online stationary stores. From there you'll get to pick your envelope color from another wide selection of color choices.

Once your design is complete, you'll have the opportunity to receive a printed sample. You can actually see, touch, and feel your card before placing your final order. There is something so comforting about holding the card in your hand before making your final decision. It gives me confidence in my choice and design; something a virtual sample just can't do.

But my favorite Basic Invite feature? They offer recipient address printing for Christmas card orders, no additional charge. They also offer an address capture service. Use any form of social media to reach out to your family and friends and request their address. Once they send it to you, it'll be stored in your account to use now and in the future.

With over 250 Christmas card and Holiday card designs, it's easy to find something you'll love! Below are just a small sample of some of the designs options Basic Invite offers to their customers. 

You can follow @BasicInvite on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter for more examples and inspiration. 

Right now, Basic Invite is offering 30% of their Christmas and Holiday cards by using promo code: holi30. Now, I just need to pick a photo! Let me know below which one if your favorite. 

 As always, thank you for reading,

XOXO Helen

This post is sponsored by Basic Invite. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support Kaleidoscope Spinning. All opinions are my own. 

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Fall '17 Bucket List


As a new season approaches, so does a new bucket list!

Oh fall! Jeans, boots, and sweaters. Changing leaves, pumpkins, and apple pie. Hot drinks and cold nights. Currently, Steve and I just got to Germany, where we're lucky enough to be visiting with friends. You'll notice below in the list, there is no mention of anything related to this trip. While our European adventure was the perfect way to start the season (and celebrate my birthday!), this trip has been on the "Lifetime Bucket List". It's an item I am overjoyed to cross off!

To start fall off on the right foot, I present my Fall Bucket List. I'm hoping to get everything crossed off by December 21st, the last day of fall. 


1. Attend a football game (college or pro)


2. Go to a haunted house (any suggestions for the KC area?)


3. Decorate the house for Halloween/fall


4. Make pumpkin bread


5. Host my first Thanksgiving


6. Organize my daily work schedule


7.Clean up/out our backyard


8. Begin to paint the interior of our house


9. Finish Etsy site remodel


10. Visit local Kansas City coffee shops


11. Save some money for Cyber Monday shopping


12. Go to the Renaissance Fair

What do you want to accomplish this fall? Always looking for new suggestions. No reason the list has to stop at 12!

As always, thank you for reading,

XOXO Helen

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16 Days in a Carry-on: Confessions of an Over-Packer


It all started a few months ago…

Steve and I had just booked out flights to Europe. Then he turned to me and said, "I want to do this trip in a carry-on". I laughed. "No way in hell", I responded. We had just booked a 16 day trip and he thought our luggage would fit in an overhead compartment? Our honeymoon, just eight day trip, required a checked bag, plus carry-ons. So how could a trip twice as long be condensed to a carry-on each? Also, I am a textbook over-packer.

Steve started to pull up articles and YouTube videos about packing for a multi-week trip in a carry-on. We spent a couple hours watching and reading. After some time, not only did I start to believe we could do this, but I also saw the benefits. Currently, the plan is to hit 3 countries, (maybe 4! stay tuned) and I liked the idea of not checking a bag. It would make things a lot easier, especially in a foreign country, to always have our luggage with us. Laundry wouldn’t be difficult to do either because we are visiting friends during the second leg of our trip. It all started to seem conceivable.

Today, we are flying out to our first stop, and I am pleased to report, we both have one suitcase and one backpack. How did I do it? Well for Steve it was easy, but for me, it took quite a bit of planning and some lessons learned along the way.

Here is how a classic over-packer condensed her suitcase and curbed her need to pack EVERYTHING!


1. Get used to the idea early.

If Steve had approached me with this idea last week, rather than several months ago, it would have been a hard no. I would have been mentally packed and not prepared to take on the task. But over the months, I've had time to plan accordingly and do proper research.

2. Get real with your plans.

The reason our honeymoon required a checked bag, was because I over-packed. I had 9 pairs of shoes and at least 2 outfits for each day, including eight dresses. (I would like to note, I did, wear all eight.) Realistically, I did not need all of that. But the purpose of the trip was to relax and enjoy our vacation. I had the luxury of changing outfits midday and wearing high heels to dinner. This trip however, is a different story. We will be on the move from sunrise to way beyond sunset. For this trip, I need comfortable footwear and an outfit that would work all day.  Once I realized this, half of what I would have brought in a checked bag was cut.

3. Check the weather.

In the week leading up to the trip, I monitored the weather in each city we'd be visiting. I was using this to help plan the clothes I would bring. Paying attention to the weather allowed me to make smarter choices in the clothes I was bringing on the trip.

4. Remember you can always buy something there.

Assuming your traveling to a developed country, you'll be able to get anything you need in the hotel lobby or a local drugstore.


5. Don't skimp on what's important to you

When carry-ons were first discussed, Steve told me I shouldn't bring my hairdryer because it's bulky. I said no, because I use a hairdryer everyday to style my bangs and I don’t like using hotel dryers.

6. Only pack for one week

Let's be honestly, you cannot pack 16 outfits in a carry-on suitcase. You can, however, back for about a week. So do just that and toss in a few detergent pods.

7. Do you wear it at home?

If you don't wear it at home, you won't wear it when you travel. Pick clothing items you know you are comfortable wearing out.

8. Don't go shopping!

I resolved to do this early. I knew if I bought something, I would feel obligated to bring it on the trip. I decided it would be best to save money leading up to the trip. We have a lot of actives planned, but I wouldn't mind doing a little shopping over there as well. I would much rather purchase something while I'm in Europe and bring it back to the states, than the other way around. 

9. If you're worried, do a practice pack.

A week before we left, I did a quick practice pack to make sure everything I was planning on taking would fit. It was worth it because it assured me that I didn’t have too much.

Below I have put together an abridge list of what I am packing for clothing and accessories.

• 8 tops

• 2 pairs of jeans

• 2 pairs of shorts

• 8-10 pairs of underwear

• 8-10 pairs of socks

• 2 pair of shoes

• 2 bras

• 2 jackets

• Leggings

• 1 sports bra

• 1 of each beauty item (ie: 1 eye shadow palette, 1 concealer, 1 blush, etc.)

• Minimal jewelry

• 1 Hair dryer

• 1 Curling wand

 All of this is currently packed in my carry-on suitcase with room to spare!

To keep up with our travels for the next two weeks, make sure you're following me on Instagram and check out the hashtag #KSpinningTravels to stay up-to-date! 

 As always, thank you for reading,

XOXO Helen

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