Life's Sweet Journey: May 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Orlando Bestie Adventures!

Some days you start out with huge plans to be super motivated and then life just says, "nah! Not today!! Today was one of those days... 
It all started with the need desire for blueberries! 
And so instead of a super productive Friday I instead ended up with a wonderful FriYAY filled with bestie adventures!! 
Keith Urban is right, "some of the best days of our life is really all the wasted time"!

5 FriYAY Adventure Happies
1.) It all started because my local blueberry upick said this was the last weekend for blueberry picking and I needed berries!!! Seriously though, I have big plans to make a cobbler this weekend for either my brother and his wife's baby shower tomorrow or a cornhole tourny we are going to on Sunday at my bro-in-law and soon to be sis-in-laws. So out to Tom West's I was headed (and I did and I am so glad because the blueberry supply left was growing slim and they have a big event for the last weekend and I just know it would have gotten picked clean!), but I didn't want to go alone. So I tried to coax the bestie into going (Yay, I won- and she LOVED it!), but once I finally had her committed, she told me that first we had to stop for...
2.) Coffee!!! She was taking her mom to breakfast at a little diner down the street from our house. So I crashed their mother-daughter date and enjoyed some yummy fuel for our morning adventure! 
3.) After blueberry picking we had planned to head home to check off some of our to-do lists, but the blueberry farm is soooo close to one of the best restaurants in Orlando, Yellow Dog Eats (pictured above)! And because it is somewhat far from our house, you simply can't be that close and not stop for lunch! 
4.) We then headed back to my house, where we did actually get one pretty major thing accomplished. She helped me go through my closet and purge it of about 50,000 items! There are still 100,000 things left... P.S. I have too many clothes!! We may have been able to get more done if we had focused solely on being efficient, but sometimes you just have to dance to the 90s Pandora and try to see if you can pull of hippie braids! 
5.) And now we are preparing to end our evening with a night at the Hoop Dee Doo Review out at Disney's Fort Wilderness, to celebrate her cousins graduation!

So all-in-all, there were big things to get done, they just didn't look anything like the original checklist, but hey, bestie adventures and days to throw in the towel on the "musts" is even more important than anything that could have gotten checked off a list! 

Happy FriYAY Y'all!!
Hope you have a glorious (and long) weekend, celebrating with friends and family and bestie adventures!!   

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lessons I Learned from 6 years of Marriage

Happy Monday! 
Here's to kicking a case of the Mondays away!! 
At the beginning of this month Babe and I celebrated 6 years of husband-and-wifeness! We had a beautiful weekend away in Flo, visiting Manatee Springs State Park. While driving over I shared some of the lessons that I learned over the last six year on Instagram. And because today had a way of bringing those things back to mind I figured I would share them here, because life has a way of reminding you just what is important. Never forget to cherish the people you love and hold them close. So here's to hugs and life and having a tribe of people to walk through it with. So very thankful he is part of mine... 
6 things I've learned over 6 years of marriage

1.) Life needs balance; like someone who sings loud to every song on the radio and someone who doesn't even know the words because he's a melody person or someone who says "hey let's jump out of this tree" and someone else who says "crazy woman, you have to check and see how deep the water is first"

2.) Love and life will change you, but you hold tight and stay grateful because marriage is a commitment to have each other's backs!

3.) Marriage is as much a journey as the rest of life, just enjoy the ride.

4.) Marriage isn't a fairytale... It's better than that; it's real life lived out in all its bittersweet glory.

5.) Babe's answer (aka: be careful what you ask for) You love the person, no matter how much you hate their bad habits

6.) Being a good spouse and knowing how to best care for your partner is a never-ending learning experiment! Someday I will get better at his love language and I will learn to put my cereal bowl in the sink, among other things... 

And with that I am off to Love him by doing the laundry, because today has been hard for him and freshly laundered (and put away// because somehow I can never get this step down) towels, make him smile! Marriage really is an endless learning curve and I'm so thankful he's never given me a grade! 

Any other married folks? 
What lessons have you learned over the years?

Friday, May 13, 2016

5 Great Road Trip Reads!

With all the road-tripping and book-clubbing I have been doing the last few months, I have been reading like crazy! And I LOVE it!! Here are are a few reads I recommend for this summer... 

The Night Sister- Jennifer McMahon writes with an edge of darkness and The Night Sister had the added element of a supernatural feel. This book was a little spooky, so if you don't prefer the dark and scary, I would steer clear. However, if you don't mind it, then this book was great! I couldn't put it down. It centers around two different time periods, jumping back and forth between the past and present. I don't typically prefer books like that, but she did it in way that was easy to follow. It centers around two sets of sisters, their understanding of each other and a mystery that has taken generations to figure out! 

Red Queen- I didn't know this at the time it was given lent to me, but apparently Red Queen is one of the newest "in" things and I can see why! It was really good! The main character, Mare, is a teenage girl from the lower class because her blood runs red. Silver bloods are the elite, because they hold special powers and in turn run the kingdom. Eventually Mare finds herself thrown into their world and sets out on a path to turn the kingdom around and create a fair society. She finds herself town between worlds, between brothers and between the girl she was and the woman she is becoming. Definitely a great read! I am looking forward to the second book, The Glass Sword, but I have heard it is a bit of a let down, so I'm not in a rush to disappoint myself. Anyone read it and thought differently? 

True Colors- I actually read this a while ago, so it isn't super fresh, but I remember how much I loved it!! So much so that I ended up buying a copy (something I only do with books I love) and am planning to reread it and use it as my pick for book club next month. It centers around the bonds of sisterhood and how strong they can be -or how damaged they can become- when outside forces break open the bubble that they had created for themselves. We will see if I still love it as much as my memory thinks I do! 

* Even before leaving for Kenya, I had been feeling this weight of "stuff"! Just so much crap pardon my french everywhere I turned!! Since returning from Africa, the desire to purge my house and life of ALL as much of it as possibly is now even stronger! In America we just live with this need to "have"- we need this, we want that- when ultimately it ends up being something sitting on a shelf and cluttering our lives. The desire to live more with less led me to grab these off the shelf where I had tucked them and dust them off... 

Seven- A while back I told myself I was going to walk through Seven by Jen Hatmaker and really do each month of purging; getting rid of 7 things a day for a month, only eating 7 foods for a month, choosing only 7 items of cloth to interchange for a month... Well, somewhere amid the 7 things a day I got a little sidetracked and never jumped back on board. But there's not time like the present to jump back into something and so I begin anew!! Join me?! It really helps the Jen Hatmaker is a hysterical writer and a wonderful encourager! I can do this! 

The More of Less- I grabbed this book by Joshua Becker, through Blogging for Books, a while ago thinking it might come in handy if and when I convince Babe that we should pack it all in and hit the road in Flo full-time. Well, that day has not come yet, but I don't need to wait until (did you read that Babe?! UNTIL!) it does to start living more with less!! It's all about "finding the life you want under everything you own" and has great anecdotal stories, along with tips, tricks and whys, for working your way towards getting rid of some of the stuff that's bogging you down! I'm excited to read more and really start purging this house of the things it doesn't need! 

Happy Friday friends and happy reading!! 
Any awesome reads to share? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Guide to Highlands Hammock State Park in Florida

We love exploring Florida's amazing state parks! Highlands Hammock State Park is the perfect state park for adventurous couples, but especially for families. Here is our guide to Highlands Hammock State Park.

Highlands Hammock State Park was a great Florida treasure!! It felt a little Jurassic Parkish and had a lot of little extra perks. We loved it even just the two of us, but I would probably deem it as the most family friendly park we have visited thus far. So if you have little ones, Highlands Hammock is definitely a worthwhile adventure!!

What We Did:
*Hiking- The trails in Highlands Hammock are shorter and a lot of them include boardwalks, which is why I found it so family friendly! You can have strollers for most walks and you can pick and choose how many you do/ how long your hike is! Each trail offered something different to see. Whether it was a 1,000 year old oak tree or a really neat “catwalk” through a swamp, you had a lot of different options to choose from.  We loved the little bonuses each trail offered- climbing the tree, forging our way across stones to keep from falling in the swamp, going inside a giant tree…!!
* Museum- There was a museum that highlighted the Civilian Conservation Corps, that was part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, which helped begin many of the first state parks in Florida. 
* Exploration Station- There was a neat exploration station in the park, across from the museum, that was open on Saturday morning. You could learn about animal tracks, different Florida spiders, even different animal feces in a “hands-on” way. No, you weren’t literally holding poop, but you did get to hold the glass is was sitting in! It was intended for children, but the kid in me loved it! They are only opened seasonally and when they have enough staff, so it may not always be open, but it’s definitely a fun perk when there!
* Tram Tour- We took a 2.5 hour tram tour through a restricted section of the park! It was fun, but got a little long in our opinion. We did get to see all kinds of wildlife (gators, turtles, birds…), but when you are from Florida you get to see a lot of those. It was hard to hear the different things the guide was telling us when the tram was moving as people were talking and the tram was really squeaky, but when we could hear there were some neat facts that our driver was sharing! If you have little ones it is a much cooler way to experience the park as the movement of the tram does offer a nice breeze. The tram is a day only purchase (you can’t book ahead) and you have to be at the ranger station by 8am to ensure yourself a spot! Babe was 5th in line and the people behind him got the last tickets (there were tons of other behind them that didn’t get tickets). The tram doesn’t leave until 1:30pm, so it is definitely in high demand, just FYI!
* Music in the Park- Though this wasn’t going on when we were there, certain weekends include music from live performers. There is a stage setup by the main park playground area (the camping loop has it’s own playground), in front of a large grassy field. You can bring your lawn chairs and picnic blanket and enjoy an outdoor concert. There was a food truck while we were there and he told us that he is typically there on Music in the Park nights, so you can also get a nibble or some ice cream!!

Where We Stayed:
Photo taken from the trail located inside the campground area
The camping was nice (above photo taken on a short trail located in the campground), but VERY crowded! We ended up sandwiched in between a retreat of sorts and people had multiple tents at each spot. It wasn’t terrible, but we do enjoy state parks because they usually have more spread out spaces. The parks at this space seemed a little more on top of each other. Book ahead in order to be able to pick out a good spot, as we did see some that had more space and better views!
*There is also a primitive camping loop that looked REALLY nice, but was only open to tents and pop-ups.

Where We Ate:
In typical Flo-Venture fashion we found a local BBQ spot on the way to the park and dove right in!! Ah-mazing!! Fire-Chief Barbecue Co. is the reason we make trying new BBQ stops a priority! Though a little hard to find if you don't know what your looking for, the bounty of wonderful food you can find is worth a little hunt-and-find! Fire-Chief BBQ Co. sits directly on Highway 27 in Davenport, Fl. We had a hard time finding it at first because we were assuming we were looking for a building. What we found was even neater!! It is an open air BBQ joint, with the smoker set up under a tent. There is also a picnic table should you choose to eat there (which we did!)! The food was the bomb!! I got a BBQ burrito, filled with guac and sour cream and it was like two of the most amazing worlds collided and brought me BBQ-ican happiness of epic proportions!! Seriously a must try if you find yourself heading through the area! The owners were really great too!! 

I don't think we have ever had a Flo trip that we haven't loved and this was no different! Hope to be out exploring again soon and I hope the same for you!! 

Have you been anywhere fun lately? 
Have any plans to adventure somewhere soon? 

Other Florida State Park Adventures 

Join in for this month's #travelTuesday link up and let's adventure together!
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel destination and would love to see where you have been exploring! 
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest
~No real rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. Leave a little love where you like! 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
Excited to explore the globe with you all!!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

{Giveaway} My Favorite Camping Happies!!

Happy Thursday Y'all!! 
Friday is so close I can almost smell it!!

But, until it gets here, I figured it was time to share a little happiness with all of you! 
In honor of all things camping, this weekend's upcoming Flo adventure for our 6 year wedding anniversary and the fact that the destination is unknown (to me anyways)- and because who really even needs a reason to share happiness anyways- I am partnering with some awesome companies to share some of my favorite FloRida-trip-happies with you! 
When we go RVing there are a few essentials we always take with us, for one reason or another. Most of these essentials also seem to translate over into our "docked" (at home) life too; so, whether you are out adventuring, snuggled up at home or trying to make it through a busy day these are all pretty good things to have around!!

But for us, here are the main reasons we keep them on-hand...
Jerky- Jerky is the perfect snack for long hikes as it keeps us fueled and ready to go, but it's also perfect for a mid-morning work snack! Field Trip Jerky is seriously the best stuff around!! With no preservatives or added MSG this stuff is so fresh and good and has that "just-right-jerk" texture that I look for in a good jerky! The first time we tried this stuff we were floored in comparison to the typical stuff we used to get. 
Popcorn- If you have followed me for a while you know how much I love my popcorn!! Seriously, I can't make it through the week without at least one popcorn-for-dinner night! That translates over into our travels too and we usually have one popcorn night while we are in Flo. And the best, and really only true way to enjoy popcorn is stove top popped! If you don't have a Whirley Pop, get one!! I swear by mine (and never washing it out)! Then you can pop these yummy Jolly Time popcorn kernels anytime! Another popcorn trick I love: cutting open a back of microwave popcorn, with the butter and oil all mixed in, and popping that over the stove (or campfire)!!
Honey- Y'all!! Honey and cheese night (and of course a good bottle of wine) is Flo's specialty! Without fail, cheese and honey night happens every, single night! And if you have never tried honey on your cheese before you are missing out on a whole segment of life! Try it! And I recommend starting with Savannah Bee Company's whipped honey! I love the thickness of the whipped honey when paired with cheese! My favorite pairing? A good havarti or Vermont sharp cheddar! 
Cards- Because cheese and honey night should best be enjoyed over a game of rummy!! Our game has been going on over 2 years now. I am currently in the lead (for a while now), but Babe is slowly creeping back into the game! Current score: Me- 10,310 Babe-10,100
Adventure Mug- Every morning needs a little 'Adventure Fuel' happiness to kick-start the day!!
Coffee- Because the mug just isn't complete without the coffee to go in it! I know Seattle's Best is just your run-of-the-mill, grocery-store-shelf-find, but I love the taste. It's strong without being bitter, goes done smooth and soothes my soul! Even better, sweeten it with a little bit of that honey and you have what I call "coffee-bliss"!! 

One "happy camper" will win all of this great goodness! 
It includes: 12 bags of Field Trip Jerky + a super comfy American Apparel Field Trip Jerky shirt, two bags of Jolly Time popcorn kernels, travel pack of Savannah Bee Company's whipped honey in different flavors, a pack of Bicycle cards, an Adventure Fuel mug and a bag of Seattle's Best Coffee! 

Happy Entering! 
Entry options below image! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 2, 2016

5 Highlights from my trip to Kenya

We're back from Kenya and my mind is still reeling and processing and spinning, but my heart is oh so full!! Here's a sneak peek at my trip and some of the amazing highlights from my time in Nairobi...
 ~SMILES~ So much smiling in Kenya! It was a beautiful thing to see. Despite some of the conditions (the rain, the poverty, the mud) the smiles were prevalent. The kids (and adults) were so welcoming and the smiles were everywhere. Kids would smile and wave, shouting "How are you" with their Kenyan accents and laugh and giggle whenever we responded or would light up when we greeted them first with a "sasa" (Kenya greeting for children). The Bible Clubs we spent some time observing were filled with even more smiles!! And tons of...

~DANCING and SINGING~ The worship in Ngando (the community where we spent the majority of our time) still blows me away! They can worship and sing for hours, voices and arms lifted high and the dancing makes it even more fun!! I LOVE worshipping Kenyan style!!

~THE PEOPLE~ I met so many wonderful people! The Kenyans were so hospitable and it was so nice being welcomed into the culture in Ngando. It was also such a blessing to be there with the team from the US. The Matlack's (who call Ngango home) are a wonderful couple with such an amazing heart for serving and living life with the marginalized poor. They moved into Ngango 5 years ago, have made it their home and truly love the people they get to do life alongside. Learning from them and being invited into their family is something I will always be grateful for! I also loved getting to know Jessica and Nathan (who I traveled with from Summit) better! International travel really is a great way to get to know people quickly. Still missing all the time we got to spend together!!

~SAFARI~ Be still my adventure loving heart!! Safari day was so cool!! Rhinos, giraffes, zebras... we saw so much during our morning in Nairobi National Park and I can't wait to share more of the fun with you soon! But first I have to pick through thousands of pictures!

~BEAUTY~ Kenya truly is a beautiful country! So much green, so much wildlife, so many beautiful people...
A once in a lifetime trip that I will never forget!