Life's Sweet Journey: October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

#flasbackFriday: Epcot Food & Wine Favorites

Sharing a little #flashbackFriday on the blog today! I first posted this almost a year ago today and thought that it was time to bring it out of the archives. With just over 2 weeks left to enjoy Food and Wine at Epcot I thought it would be a good time to shine some light on some favorites! That and I am missing Disney like crazy!! Enjoy peeking at (and hopefully eating soon) food around the world!! (post first published November 2014) 

I used to despise Epcot. I would beg my grandparent's not to take me there as a kid. "Please, pleeeaaase, take me to Disney instead?! Please!" As a young child Disney only meant one thing, Magic Kingdom. As I emerged into teenagehood and then into my early adult years, it broadened to MGM Hollywood Studios and then Animal Kingdom. But never, ever Epcot. And then our year of Disney living began and my world was opened to the wonderfulness that is the World Showcase... especially during 'Flower and Garden' and 'Food and Wine'. My poor Mimi, she just wanted to try to teach me the wonders of it at an early age. Apparently, I wasn't having it though. So when I said to Babe, "I love Epcot, it is my new favorite park!" And he responded in kind, I had to follow it with, "We are becoming my grandparents." And I am more than fine with that. Though it is doubtful, maybe I will have better luck convincing my grandchildren that Epcot is a glorious place. Kids?! Let your grandparents take you to Epcot!! I wish I had spent more time there with mine.
The necessities of the "Food and Wine Investigator"= sunnies for before the sun dips down, the Food and Wine Passport, a pin for jotting notes and the phone (my ever present companion)
While I doubt we will obtain our goal of trying every food item at Food & Wine, we are well on our way there. I loved playing Food and Wine investigator and apparently played the part as it was joked that I made quite the investigative reporter with outfit to match and so this shot was snapped. So, now that I have had the immense satisfaction of exploring the World Showcase and attending Food and Wine, who knows how many time in the last few weeks, here is a sampling of my Food and Wine recommendations: 
Our documented passport... A smiley face= well liked, marked GIMB!!= Get in My Belly!, not good= ick, and others received general notes (i.e. Canada, which we found just alright, though I really enjoyed the fish)
My Top 5 Five Food and Wine Treats
1.) Kalua Pork Slider in Hawaii- This was so yummy and takes the top spot for my favorite hearty food item. 
2.) Beijing Roasted Duck in China- I am waiting to go back and get the whole one to myself. A friend got this the night we went with a group and I tried a bite. So yum!! 
3.) Grilled Lamb Chop in Australia- I would have eaten the bone if it wouldn't have broken my teeth! I couldn't get enough of it and it's a good size portion for one person. 
4.) La Passion Martini Slush in France- I am not much of a beverage person, I prefer the food, but this was my favorite drink and I would get it again. 
5.) Seared Sea Scallop in Scotland- I am not a scallop person, but this was quite delectable and a favorite of everyone in our group. To quote: "That one needs a smiley face!! Do it!! Put a smiley face!" 

Those 5 above all received a smiley face, but the overall winners of our Food and Wine experience, receiving the only two GIMBs (Get in My Belly) so far were... 
Croissant Doughnut (my choice) at the Refreshment Port 
and the Lamb Meatball (Babe's Choice) in New Zealand

The only item to aquire an ick rating has been the Pineapple wine in Hawaii, I guess everything can't be amazing right?! Also, while honey and cheese would typically be a favorite of mine the cheese in Greece was just a little too much for me; too cheesy, which I didn't think was possible. Not cheesy enough for an 'ick', but I didn't eat the whole thing, way too rich. 

With the final weekend of Food & Wine looming ahead of us I hope that you find time to do some investigating of your own before it comes to a close for the year. We plan to try to check off a few more items on Sunday and Monday. Any recommendations? Anything we must try?! 

Our top 5 want to try items:
Mussels in New Zealand
Pavlova in Australia 
Salmon in Patagonia
Bobotie in Africa
Mahi in Singapore 
Fisherman's Pie in Ireland

Linking up with the 5 on Friday gals! 

I figured in honor of my first #flashbackFriday post, why don't we all peek through the blog archives and pull out a post we would all enjoy some love on. 
Link up any old post that you want to share that is at least over a month old!
Limit links to two posts please. 
Happy #flashbackFriday!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Missing the Magic! Favorite Magic Kingdom Food for Less

Oh my goodness, have I been missing Disney!! With Food and Wine going on I am so sad that we don't have passes anymore. We had our "Year-O-Disney" and it was time for a change up, so we got Flo (who I dearly love!), but oh, I am missing the magic and the wonder... and the FOOD!! 
So, since I am sitting here hungry and salivating I figured it was as good a time as any to share our favorite places to eat for cheap around the Kingdom!! As a couple we were always on the hunt for foods that would be filling and yummy, but also shareable! It really helps on the Disney pocketbook! I am not sure how well this would work if you had kiddos, but for us these sharing was our fail safe way to save a few pennies on food at the Magic Kingdom. Here are the spots we found that works best at, while still getting delicious food...

Golden Oak Outpost Fry Cart!! 
Oh my gosh and goodness!! These loaded fries are by far our favorites! Sadly, we didn't discover then until late in our Disney game. We tried to go back to the Magic Kingdom as often as we could as our passes were ending, sometimes just so we could have these yummies. They are also totally man approved, as they were always what Babe would request for lunch. Golden Oak used to only be open for lunch, but we have heard that they stay open later now! We would often share one to tide us over until we got a bigger dinner, but if we wanted to go all out they are still not bad at just around $8 per person! Definitely worth the cost and calories!! We loved them all, but my favorite was the BLT!! 

Gaston's Tavern Roasted Pork Shank!!
This is the perfect meal to split, making the cost right at $5 per person. It is so good and so juicy and also huge! Between the two of us we could barely finish, but don't worry we managed!! And though it does add a little bit to the cost, it is also really hard to pass up the warm cinnamon roll. So gooey and good and perfect for sharing with multiple people ($5 for the roll). We would usually do this option for dinner and sit outside after the sun had gone down to enjoy a little break before hitting Fantasyland! 

Cosmic Ray's Cheeseburger!!
Our favorite spot to grab a burger used to be Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe, we enjoyed the atmosphere better and would make it our "go-to spot" before hitting my personal favorite, Splash Mountain. However, Peco Bill now serves tex-mex, which we will have to go back and try, but haven't made it since they changed. However, Cosmic Ray's offers similar burger options. We would usually split the burger (huge) and fries. We would load up our half of the burger to our liking at the free condiment bar (onions, mushrooms, all the fixings) and chow down. This would usually be a lunch option before a bigger dinner and comes out to about $8 per person. While probably our least favorite of all these options this would be a quick and easy go to and sometimes, well, you just want a burger after a long morning trekking around the park. 

Columbia Harbor House Seafood Mac and Cheese!!
Cheese, glorious cheese!! I love me some mac and cheese!! Add in lobster and I am in heaven!! Seriously, this stuff makes me happy and while it isn't super Babe approved (he is not a mac and cheese fan), he still enjoys it too. It is also really rich, which to us makes it super filling, so we can share one no problem. It may look smaller, but trust me, it hits the spot perfectly for two people! It is a little more expensive than the others, coming out at about $7 per person if you are splitting, but I mean lobster!! Lobster and cheese and happiness for $7? It can't be beat! We would eat it, sit a minute and then hit the Haunted Mansion for a slow, easy ride while the cheese digested!! 

I realize that these are all share options, but coming from two people who love their food (and one who will get real hangry if she doesn't eat enough), you definitely get enough to satisfy! 

And for those of you looking to explore Epcot and The Food and Wine options, here are some of my favorites dines from last year! Oh, miss it! I miss it!! 

Have a gloriously, magical day!
Any tips or tricks of your own for saving on food at the park? 
Share in the comments, I would love to know your secrets! 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Loving Lately

It's been a busy week around these parts! From out of state wedding fun to Run 4 Recovery planning talks with my sweet daddy we have been pretty go, go, GO! We are gearing up for a garage sale this morning (PURGE ALL THE THINGS!!), so I thought I would just take a minute to share some of what I have been loving lately before jumping off to the next task on the checklist... 
PRETTY JEWELRY! I love my awesome and colorful necklace from Noonday Collection. My sweet friend Lauren (who blogs overs at Boundary Stone) recently became an ambassador with Noonday. If you haven't heard about Noonday, they are a jewelry/fashion company who links arms with those in vulnerable communities to help create jobs, empower woman and impact the lives of these families all over the globe. If you are interested in learning more or just want to shop around a bit, you can do so here! Such cute, cute stuff!! I love cute stuff with a great message and reach! 
PERSONAL HAPPIES! I got the sweetest gift from the kids I have watched for the past almost 11 years. As they have gotten older and we have entered new seasons in our lives my time with them has gotten further apart. But now that just means that we are more intentional about making time to be together and that when we are it is that much more full of all the things we enjoy. You know those people that become like family? That is these guys and it made their sweet gift that much sweeter!! 

PLUMDOG! So far this is my most favoritest (yup, that is totally a word!) book that I have gotten from blogging for books! The illustrations are so sweet and the book is adorable. It is a diary told from the perspective of a dog and while it may sound like a kids book it is the perfect book for adults (especially dog lovers) and children alike. In my opinion it makes a great coffee table book, one that people can pick up and skim through to put a smile on their face!! Just look at these cute illustrations and sweet excerpt... 
How much more adorable can you get?! 

WRINKLE FREE EYES!! I received the OZ Naturals Matrix 6 eye gel free for review, but the opinions are all my own. I love this stuff! I have tried quite a few different eye creams, some with good results and some that don't seem to do much, this stuff however, works like a charm. I can feel it tightening around my eyes as soon as I put it on. It evens out my skin and can be applied under makeup. You can apply it twice a day and, in my opinion, the results last for a good period of time, pulling skin tighter and making fine lines appear smaller (some even nonexistent) immediately. 

*Note: I would also add a lotion on top before you apply makeup as it does occasionally (on my skin, depending on weather) make the makeup appear dry.

5.) SERENITY PRAYER SHIRT!! If you saw Tuesday's post, then you saw the Serenity Prayer tank I made to help raise funds to support the Run 4 Recovery happening in a few weeks. It can be ordered as a tank or a tee and you can currently enter to win one of your choice between now and Sunday. 

Hope you are having a wonderful FRIDAY!! FRI-YAY!! 
What are you loving lately? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Running 4 Recovery

I don't really think I need to say much for this post, other than please watch the video. My daddy is the sweet man at the end, the one holding a picture of my brother. Addiction is a beast, one that can tear and kill and destroy. That is why I am so proud of my dad, the men of MBS Surf Co. and the amazing team of people that put this video together for their first Run 4 Recovery. Take a look... 

If you would like to donate, sponsor or live locally and would like to run you can sign up at their website. You can also support the race by purchasing a Serenity Prayer shirt. I made them to honor my brother's memory and to help raise money for the race. 

You can also enter to win one below. The winner will be chosen on Sunday and I will email you to find out your size, color choice and address and have it sent your way! (Thank you to all those who entered, I am really sorry, but I actually had to remove this giveaway. Thank you for understanding.) 

For more of my thoughts about the race and the battle against addiction you can read this post from earlier in the month.
And for those in the throes of addiction, helping a family member or friend on their recovery road, or making the choice each and every day to stay in recovery my prayers and thoughts are with you. Recovery isn't easy, but it's worth it. It is so worth it! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Currently: Tennessee Road Trip Edition

Linking up for another edition of The Sunday Currently...
Reading: I just finished reading The Gates of Evangeline. It was a recommendation from People magazine and when I found it at the library I had to grab it. I think I finished it in three days. I was hooked and it kept me wanting to read more and more. I hated when I had to put it down. It’s a great book, full of mystery and intrigue. A little spooky even- not scary. You find yourself connecting to the characters, even the protagonist. I also loved that I didn’t call all parts of this book. Though I did call a good portion of it I always love when some of the ending surprises me (in an good way). Any book that can throw a twist my way without outraging me is a good book in my world any day of the week!!
Writing- As of right now, just this. I did finish an article for our church magazine though that I am pretty excited to see in print. This is my second one and each time I do one I still get nervous.  
Listening- to the radio in the car. We road tripped to Tennessee this weekend for my cousins wedding.
Thinking- That I got pretty blessed to have found the perfect road trip partner! He spoils me. He packs the car early in the morning, wakes me at 5am so that all I have to do is stumble to the car and fall back asleep while he drives. Waking up to his bearded face, driving in the sunshiney morning makes me smile a lot. Even when he tells me I look a hot mess after I pull my head out from under my blanket, maybe especially when! Love is all about being open and honest right?! (P.S. I called him pretty).
Smelling- My coffee and the crisp Fall weather outside my window.
Wishing- That we could stay in Tennessee a little longer and continue to watch the leaves change colors, while spending time with family on the porch. Tennessee is my happy place and some of my very favorite people live there. Back to Florida it is though. That’s pretty happy too I guess!
Hoping- That the cooler Florida weather continues to stick around. It was so nice before we left and apparently is supposed to be even cooler when we get home!!
Wearing- T-shirt, shorts and bare feet on the dashboard, my go to road trip attire!
Loving- All the time in the car this weekend! Time in the car with just my Babe, a book or two and the tunes on the radio is total perfection to me. So two full days in the car for a one day wedding is right up my alley! 
Wanting- To be super productive this week! I worked on cleaning out the house all last weekend to prepare for a garage sale we are having on Friday. It was time to purge, A LOT! So I am hoping to go through the house again this week and get rid of at least two more boxes of stuff. Getting rid of stuff is usually really hard for me, but I have felt this need for simplicity recently so it is time for it all the just GO! 
Needing- To see my sister and my sweet nephew baby! I feel like life is so much more hectic then when all my other nieces and nephews were born. I was younger and it just seemed easier to carve out time to meet up. But life being busy doesn’t mean I can’t be more intentional about finding time to visit. Babies grow so quick and I want to cover him in kisses before he is old enough to not want as many!
Feeling- At peace. Car rides do that for me. I think it’s also the reason Flo makes me so happy. I just feel at peace on the road, there’s not much you can worry about focusing on in the car. You don’t have connection really to anything except your destination and the person sitting next to you. Glorious I tell ya!!

Clicking- Through Instagram and Facebook and Youtube videos- my dad and the guys at Mind, Body and Soul have a new video they just posted for their recovery race. I’m pretty proud of them, that’s for sure! My daddy, he’s the handsome man at the end of the video, with the big heart and a story of fight and redemption.

What are is your Sunday looking like currently?

Friday, October 16, 2015

5 Favorite Extra Cash Apps

I use to be quite the couponer, but ain't nobody got time for that anymore (well at least not this girl)! I mean, these days, we are lucky if we ever even make it to the store for groceries! But I still love finding ways to either save a few bucks at the store or even better make a few dollars when I shop. I had known about ibotta back when I was couponing, but I never kept up with it. But when my sister-in-law reminded me of it a few weeks back she also told me about a few others apps that you can download in order to make a little side cash.

Here are my favorites:
ibotta- I gave it another go and actually love it. It is so fun scanning the barcodes with my phone! Plus, it is the receipt App I have made the most money on so far. I use to use it before I shopped to try to add things to my list, but I found that I was buying stuff I never used. Now, I wait until after my trip, I plug in where I shopped and search the deals to see if any matched. Most of the time they do. There has been a handful of times when I don't make any money off a shopping trip, but then there are others where I will hit it big and have 5+ deals on one receipt. Usually though I am least get one match. You can also take part in challenges each month, with changes to earn even more. For example, October's challenge is to redeem at least 10 rebates worth $0.25 and to have a team rebate total of $10. You can connect with friends who also have ibotta, so the more people on your team the more chances of hitting the goal. If you would like to join my team you can use 'ndvyayn' when you sign up. You don't have to, but I would love to have you join in on the fun with me! Plus, we both get a little incentive with your sign-up. You can cash out once you hit $10 and receive your money through Pay Pal, Venmo or get a gift card (lots of options to choose from).

Receipt Pal- Receipt Pal is my second favorite receipt app mostly because they take pretty much everything and each receipt is worth the same point value. So they can add up quickly! You basically just take a picture of your receipt and once you get a square filled (4 receipts) you score 100 points. Think of all the fast food, gas, Starbucks... runs you go through in a week. It will really add up quick. Companies basically just want to know how and where you are spending so companies can better know how to advertise. One thing I don't like as much about Receipt Pal is that you don't have a Pay Pal option, but gift cards are always great!!

Yaarlo- This is another receipt app that simply wants to know how and where you are spending money. This one sounded appealing to me because, like receipt pal, they also take pretty much any receipt. They also give you %1 of whatever your purchase total was in cash. That is how their reward system works. To me it sounded like it could build up fast, but then I realized that most of my daily purchases are really small. So this one has taken a while to build, but it's pretty much the more you spend the more you earn. Which I guess can be said for all of them, but this one in particular. This is another one where you can get a little bonus if you want to use my code (MELANIES285). You can get paid through Pay Pal or you can get a gift card to places like Amazon, Target and Starbucks.

Receipt Hog- This one has taken the longest to build. They only accept certain receipts (mostly grocery stores) and are based on a point system. The larger your purchase, the more points you get. Most of my purchases under $10, which only counts for 5 points. If you have a large family and your purchases are higher then your points will build quicker. I do love getting to play the little piggy slot machine though which you earn spins towards on purchases made at major department stores. Receipt Hog doesn't currently accept gas or food receipts. You can use my referral bonus for some bonus spins for us both (cloft568). You get your cash through either Pay Pal or as an Amazon gift card.
Those are my receipt apps (listed in order or preference), below is an app that will pay you to complete tasks in your area. It is very similar to secret shopping except sometimes you are asked to actually do something (I once found an item to put on the shelf at Walmart). Let's just say thing app can have you complete some of the most interesting tasks, but it gives you the chance to walk in someone else's shoes and see things you may have never been privvy to before (ie to Walmart stockroom! Guys, those Walmart stockers need mad props!)

Gigwalk- This is the app I have made the most money through ($50 since I joined). However, I also live in a very large city and there always seems to be an assignment available. I actually haven't taken one in a while because they have all been for about $3 and they aren't anywhere near places I am going. Sometimes you get lucky though. I took a $30 gig that happened to be on my way while running errands and another right near where I work ($15). Most gigs average at about $5 and involve going to places like 7'11 to see if they have a specific product on display the correct way. You get a gig by applying for it and waiting to see if you were the one chosen to complete it. So you do somewhat have to plan ahead. I usually hear back within a day, but there have been some that have taken longer before hearing if I was accepted or declined for it. That's one of the downsides to being in a bigger city. Sure there are more gigs available, but there are also a whole lot more people competing for those gigs.

The receipt apps are great because you can always do them, but Gigwalk is worth taking a look at too!

If you are like me and love playing around with time sucking apps anyways, why not at least play around with some that will reward you right?! Most of the time my husband hates my phone, but he doesn't mind it so much as long as he sees receipts sitting next to me. Heck, he even saves his receipts and gives them to me at the end of the day.

Speaking of Time: The receipt apps don't really take that much time. More often then not I will snap a picture in my car while I am riding shot gun on our way home from dinner. If I do happen to make it home I will put it on the kitchen counter and wait a day or two, let them build up and then snap them all at once, which usually takes no more than 3-5 minutes and I do it all while watching t.v.

What about you? Any apps you love using that offer fun rewards? 
Here's to a little extra cash, happy rewards and FRIDAY! 
Hope your weekend is full of all this happy!! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Words For Wednesday: Happiness and Light

I took this picture the other night on an evening stroll with Babe and it reminded me of one of Albus Dumbledore's most famous quotes. It may not be the very best of pictures, it may be grainy and dim, but that's kind of how it works isn't it? Happiness doesn't always come wrapped up in the prettiest package or riding a gleaming white horse. It comes in the smallest moments, that build upon each other, until they shine with a brightness, that even the darkest of nights can't snuff out. 

So here's to happiness and Dumbledore and all the hearts that still believe in the magic of a story! Oh, and Harry Potter! Illustrated!! People, have you heard?! There is a new illustrated edition of The Sorcerer's Stone! I don't have it yet, but my friend does and she brought it by for me to see. Y'all, it is glorious and wonderful and one of those little happiness things! We are really working hard to save money this month or it would already be in my hot little hand, but it is on my Christmas list for sure. Dear Santa, hint, hint... 

Friday, October 9, 2015

October Currently!

Oh October! 
How I love thee! 
Especially when Florida decides to finally comprehend that October means Fall weather should arrive. Linking up with the lovely ladies of the Currently Series {Jenna & Anne} and the 5 on Friday gals to share a little of what's going on in my world for this glorious month!  
Eating } Our way through Trader Joe's delicious pizzas! Such yummy, quick and easy meals! Don't forget to add the honey! Honey and pizza is my jam! 
Exploring } All the places!! Our most recent adventure took us to Weeki Wachee where we kayaked the beautiful spring and got to meet the mermaids! 
Wearing } Long sleeves!! For the first time in a long time I was able to put them on. I am not sure if this Florida chill will last, but I am loving it! 
Admiring } My dad and the other men of Mind, Body and Soul Surf Co. for their continued work at helping those who fight addiction. I admire the steps they have taken that have brought them to the point they are at and their work at setting up their first Run 4 Recovery. You can read more about it in Wednesday's post.
Collecting } Trinkets from all of our adventures. Everywhere we go I have been collecting little mementos (shells, cure little pine cones, etc) to make into either ornaments or add to a jar that I want to get for Flo. My plan is to write on them in fine point Sharpie the name of the place we found them so that we have a little keepsake of each of the places we have been. 

And now I am off to enjoy this lovely weather that only finds it's way to Florida for 5 days each year! 
Hope your weekend is beautiful and glorious! How's your October currently? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Feet with Wings// Run for Recovery

Have you ever had one of those moments, where a reality of today sends you spiraling into the reality of the past? A moment that makes you think on what you've learned since you were young. A moment that makes you look at your past in a different way. I've thought about my brother, John Wayne, a lot recently, about his struggle with addiction. Addiction is a monster. People are afraid of monsters. I am afraid of monsters. But what happens when monsters attach themselves to the faces that we love most? What happens when it's hard to separate the two from each other? I had a hard time separating those things when I was younger. Every now and then I still do. But (maybe if only in this instance) I am grateful for the knowledge that comes along with aging. I am thankful for the fact that I had moments, before my brother died, that allowed me to see those things -the monster and the man- as two different beings. I am thankful that I could love my brother while I hated his addiction. And I did. And I do.

I hate addiction, in all forms. Addiction is a thing that takes. It's a thing that sucks life out of people. It's a word I try not to use lightly. I am not addicted to coffee, I am not addicted to TV. If they started sucking the life away from who I was then ok, but I am not addicted to them. They do not make me a shadow of the person I am. They do not control me. So, I can hate addiction. And I hate to use the word hate. But I can love something that comes from addiction. I love recovery. I love the story it writes for people, everyday that they choose to continue living in it. Recovery is not a point on a map. It is not a destination one will reach and say, "I am finished now". Recovery is a road with peripheral vision always in view. Recovery is a choice, made again and again; day after day, hour after hour, minute upon minute. Recovery is what saves lives. Recovery is what saves families.

My dad and the men at Mind, Body and Soul Surfing Co. have devoted their hearts to the fight for life. They have set themselves on the road for those in recovery, to be a face along that road, a sign to reads keep going. And that's why I will be participating in something I don't like, to fight something I really hate, in order to support something I really love. MBS is hosting it's first run for recovery. A run to support those that have met the monster of addiction somewhere along the way. A run to encourage them and help fund their road of recovery. On November 7th, in Orlando (Baldwin Park) Florida, people will be rallying to lace up their shoes and open their hearts to run for and with those who fight the monster that is addiction. Money raised will go to support Turning Point of Central Florida, an organization whose mission has been to work with not only the addict, but their families as well, to set a course for a life lived above addiction.

I am not a runner, in fact I quite dislike it, but I will do it. I will do it for my brother, for his memory, and for the love that he brought into my life. I will run to help my dad continue John Wayne's story. Running is the least I can do.

This race doesn't rewrite our story, it doesn't change what addiction took from us. But it may change the course of someone else's story. Addiction isn't something that is going away. It isn't something to be swept under the rug or whispered about in quiet corners. Addiction is a beast that will slip into the middle of people, slip into the middle of families, and cut them them wide. Talk about it. Encourage those you love to seek help. Encourage them to work the steps they need to. Encourage them to live for themselves and not let addiction live for them. Yes, the addict fights inside alone, but family plays their part. You can support, you can love. You can build up and be that face along the way. Not the face that runs the race for them, but the face that says keep going. The face that says...
"I know it's hard, but you're not through yet. Pound it out. Foot after foot. Breath upon breath. Bear down, fight hard, and finish strong. Worn up and sweaty, but strong." Be the face they see cheering all along the way.

I would love for you to join me. If you would like to sign up to run you can click the image above. If you don't live nearby, but would like to donate to the race you can also do so. Thank you for your support. Addiction really is a fight for life. And each life is worth it.

Friday, October 2, 2015

5 on Friday: Coffee and Other Happies!

Hey, Hey, it's Friday!! Do a little dance, do a little dance!! 
This week has been extra jam packed, but that also made it fly by and now it's Friday and the weekend is upon us!! Any adventures for anyone this weekend? We will be home based this weekend for some family birthdaying and house catch up. So to get the weekend started off I figured I would share some of the things I am loving lately! 

1.) Last Weekend's Adventure!
Our big adventure took us to Weeki Wachee, so I left our little impromptu stop on our way up there out of yesterday's post, but I still thought it was worth a mention. We have driven by the Lakeridge Winery so many times and never been able to stop, so as we were about to drive past for the thousandth time, we instead decided to pull off and finally give it a go. The winery was beautiful! They offer a great free tour and wine tasting. We had the funniest guide (Doug), who made it very informative, but still a lot of fun. I had never tried their wines before and we found some yummy favorites that are perfect for FloRida evenings (Southern Red and White are both really good and light and only $9.99). Unfortunately we were there two weeks too late to see the grapes on the vine, but we are excited to go back for some of their many festivals (can you say grape stomp?!) in the future. If you haven't made a trek out there, you should definitely head that was sometime. 

2.) Last Weekend's Food!
I know I talked about it yesterday! But seriously, you have got to get out to Jack's BBQ! It is the (yes, I just brought that back)! It is just that yummy! Sandwiches piled high with meat and a yummy glass of sweet tea?! And now it's making me hungry! 

3.) National Coffee Day! 
So I celebrated National Coffee Day on Tuesday with two lovely coffees. The first one I did not get for free- when a girl wants her Starbucks, she wants her Starbucks. I have recently begun forgoing my normal super sugar crazed drinks, I just can't finish them anymore (I haven't even had a pumpkin spice latte yet). Instead I order a regular latte with just one pump white chocolate mocha and a half a pump pumpkin spice. So much easier to drink and a little cheaper too! Then on my way to work I drove to Wawa to partake in their free coffee deal. Amazed! I had never been to Wawa before. There were so many options and I LOVE options! I literally mixed every kind of coffee they had (minus hazelnut) and spent the rest of my afternoon sipping in happiness! They even had honey as a sweetener choice! I was sold! 

4.) Flo's Family Photo Shoot!
So we drove Flo over to meet my mom on our way out of town last weekend. She had back surgery recently and had not been able to be introduced yet. I loved her excitement over meeting Flo!! She was so excited in fact that she asked us to sit in the doorway so she could snap a few pictures. Of course I obliged, Babe (as usual) had to to be coaxed. But I am so in love with how they turned out. We even borrowed the dogs for the shoot. They are iPhone pics so they came our a little grainy due to the shade, but I love them even still! And she snapped tons which I always love. Like mother, like daughter I guess. 

5.) Tinted Sunscreen!
While I did receive this product in exchange for a review, the opinions are mine. OZ Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizer is great! I put it on my face before leaving for our adventure to Weeki Wachee, of course before reading it wasn't best for water days. However, I rolled with it and it was the only sunscreen I applied to my face that day and it protected really well (even having been in the water). My shoulders got a little burnt (no sunscreen for the first hour) but my face didn't even get pink. I also loved the way it provided some coverage. I didn't apply makeup on top, because I knew it would just sweat off, and the tint to the sunscreen provided a great medium for evening out my skin tone. I think it's the perfect little sunscreen for days like our hiking adventures, when I don't typically put on makeup but would love to have a little something, something on my face so that I don't look a fright. I also like that it kept my face moist instead of drying it out like other face sunscreens can tend to do. I have combination skin that can go really dry depending on the weather and this worked like a charm to keep that from happening! 

And just to leave you with a little cuteness for the weekend... 
Hope your weekend is as happy as a little dog who thinks she's getting to go in an RV!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

FloRida Road Talk #2: Weeki Wachee

We had our second FloRida road trip this past weekend! Due to my poor planning the weekend ended up being a little more chaotic then it should have been, but hey, it's all about adventure right?! And learning on the go! There has definitely been a lot of that! Here is how things went on our journey to Brooksville, FL and Weeki Wachee Springs... 

What we did

 Friday (free minus gas): We got to Brooksville, FL later in the day than we had planned. So we decided to just explore the area. There had been an old Victorian treehouse I had wanted to find but we searched to no avail! We are thinking it was either torn down or further back from the road with no access. Alas, we did find an old run down factory right off the main road on our way to hike. You can't go inside as there is a 'No Trespassing' sign, but we did peek in a bit and assume it was some kind of produce or grain factory. Definitely really neat!! The address is 10190 N. Broad St. in Brooksville. We found it while on our way to Chinsegut Nature Center, where we hiked. It was a really neat area and a fun hike (moderately buggy) and we even saw deer. There is also a place nearby called the Chinsegut Hill Manor, an old home that is open for the public to explore from 10-4 (not open Sundays). Unfortunately it was after 4, but the grounds were beautiful (there is a retreat center there as well that can be rented out) and we plan to be back. Brooksville has a lot of old Florida charm and I would have loved more time to discover it all!
Saturday (Weeki Wachee-$13 adults, $8 kids + food&drink/ Tubing- $35 per double/triple vessel): We went to Weeki Wachee! To see the mermaids! I had also planned to kayak as well. But you know the whole, "you can't have it all thing"? Well, that might be somewhat true. At least not without running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Maybe if you aren't such an ill prepared planner like myself if might work out better.

Anyways, Weeki Wachee is wonderful! Definitely kitschy, down home Florida, but kind of in the "meet real Florida" way. The mermaid show was really neat (even the boys said so)! We watched the 1:30 show (they had three: 11, 1:30 and 3), which was more of the 'how-to-be-a-mermaid' instructional show, but that was perfect for our men-folk who definitely prefer the technical and historical bits over a storyline. The 11 and 3 o'clock shows were Ariel. We will have to go back to take that one in. You can also swim in the spring and there are awesome water slides that dump out right into the river. If you ever went to River Country at Disney before if shut down the slides are reminscent of that, so that was cool for me. There is also an animal show and a boat ride. Also the drinks and food were really reasonably priced! No need to pack a cooler in my opinion!
*The mermaids, slides, kid splash pad, swimming, animal show (we didn't do this) and boat ride are all included with your park admission. Tube rentals and food are extra.

I was determined that I was going to kayak. What the websites aren't great about telling you is the fact that everything will be booked on summer weekends. I ultimately got us kayaks for later in the day, but it meant we left Weeki Wachee before it closed. It also meant that I spent the first hour on the phone with kayak places, running back and forth from the park to the kayak place that shares the Weeki Wachee parking lot and totally abandoning Babe during our time at the park alone before some of our family got there. Learn from my lesson, DON'T DO THIS! Though I ultimately got us on the river I could have saved a lot of strive 1.) if I had just called ahead originally or 2.) if I had just let it be and tried to call the kayak place later in the day/ be fine to just forgo the kayaking.

**Advice- Call ahead! If you call ahead you can definitely fit everything in, but you have to be scheduled. The best time to be at Weeki Wachee (from our experience) is first thing in the morning. So if that is your main goal and you really want line free slide time, then head to Weeki Wachee first. Spend a few hours doing slides etc and then catch the 11:00 mermaid show. After that you can go kayaking. The kayak place that shares the parking lot with Weeki Wachee does it's last put in at 2pm (12 once summer is over). Then they will pick you up down river and drive you back to the park.

OR you can kayak the river first (would need to get started around 9 at the latest) and then make it back to Weeki Wachee in time for the 3pm mermaid show (maybe even 1:30 depending on how fast you kayak) and then spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach and taking things easy after a morning of paddling. This would be our preference since we prefer kayaking over slides. 

OR if you want to be like me, and not plan well, then you can fart around, get to Weeki Wachee later in the morning and then hope that one of the kayak places will have something open up. We used the Kayak Shack and they were really great! They will most likely be the ones I use again in the future- pretty much because being nice to someone on the phone goes a long way in my book. They close at 7 (vs. 5:30 at the Weeki Wachee one) and let us on the river around 4. We did have to paddle against the current, but hey, it made for a good workout. If the rain hadn't come in and washed us out, we would have made it to the big rope swing that's about an hour paddle up river (my intended destination). We would have had plenty of time to get back to the Shack before 7. If you choose this option I would say you could half the time it took you to go against the current and just make sure you leave that amount of time for the return trip. There is also an enticing restaurant (Upper Deck), that overlooks the river, right next to the Kayak Shack. If we hadn't been soaking wet we would have stopped in for a bite. Note- The Kayak Shack will also drive you to the start of the river so that you can just paddle back to them without having to go against the current, you just have to get there earlier in the day (before 2:30 or a little earlier).

*Another great option if able would be to split your days and spend 1 day on the river and another at Weeki Wachee park. Definitely the best of both worlds.
*Also note that the slides and some of the other amenities are only open at Weeki Wachee during the summer. I would call ahead for your intended date to ensure everything is open and to inquire about showtimes before you go. I'm a work in progress so learn from some of my mistakes!

Where we Stayed
We gave our free camping card another try and this one panned out way better than the last! Clover Leaf Forest RV Park was great, I mean you can't beat free, but even with that aside we can't complain. There were still a lot of permanent trailers, but most were empty, we are assuming for the snow birds. You also aren't packed in like sardines and it was nice and woody! There is a creek that runs through the park and we made sure to get a spot along it. It was a great view! However, be careful about doing that or you might wake up to waterfront property, if you catch my drift. Flo enjoyed her first flood though! Another perk we liked about this park is that they had septic hook up right at your spot. So nice not to have to wait in line to empty the tanks before leaving! If it hadn't flooded so much that it made ours unusable (we just drove to another empty space on our way out) it would have been so easy breezy to drive off on Sunday! Though we didn't use them, the park also has great amenities that are shared with the 55+ community that takes up the other side of the property, including both indoor/outdoor pools, hot tub, driving range, shuffle board, etc... We would stay there again!

Where we Ate
We found this great BBQ place right past the Lakeridge Winery on our drive out to Brooksville. Jack's Bar-B-Q had awesome BBQ sandwiches. It's a hole in the wall kind place right off the road, decorated with hats from all over and all kinds of Gator memorabilia. Definitely a stop for any die-hard Gator lovers out there! I am always very skeptical of BBQ because I tend to compare everything to 4Rivers and nothing matches up. This matched up, just in a different way. The meat here is mostly pulled/sliced (I didn't risk brisket, that's a 4Rivers only things for me) and so moist! I got the mixed sandwich (all meats mixed together) with coleslaw (vinegar based), chips and a drink for around $6.50. You really can't beat the price. The sandwich alone would have been enough (so much meat!) and that's only $4.50. Driving on the turnpike or a local Orlandoian? Definitely give this place a try!!

And of course I forgot to rate this FloRida adventure in the video, but this one gets a: We will DEFINITELY do it again! We will be back to explore the length of the river and maybe even catch another mermaid show; the river though is the definite!

And that's it for this trip! If you made it this far, kudos! And as a little parting gift for the day feel free to enjoy some of the funnier moments of our trip; Babe's reaction to his mermaid surprise and doubts on my tree swing spidey sense, plus Flo's first flood! Have a great day!!