Life's Sweet Journey: December 2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Holidays!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! 

We leave this morning for a little after Christmas camping near St. Augustine, so before heading out, we just wanted to wish you the happiest of holidays from our home (and home on wheels) to yours!! We pray you had a wonderful weekend celebrating with your loved ones and that you have a fabulously wonderful New Year! 
See you all in 2017!! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mending Relationships and Forgiveness at Christmas

I posted this over on Instagram originally, but figured I would share it here as well for those that don't follow on IG. I know Christmas can often become heavier the older we get, so if the following is one of the reasons it seems harder each year, I hope that this leaves you feeling a little lighter and knowing that you aren't alone... 

I saw the above words on the wall the other night at The Coop and they been on my heart ever since, because it is so very true; it really is never too late to mend... After my brother died there was still something about our relationship that needed mending; a forgiveness that was needed, both towards him and towards myself. Once I was able to forgive the hurt that I felt he had caused our family, I also realized I needed to forgive myself for some of the hurt I am sure I caused him when my anger at his addiction got the best of me.

Mending that, for me, changed a part of my heart and while it doesn't make the loss of him at Christmas any less hard, I can now simply feel the hurt of loss at the moments he isn't here for, instead of holding onto some of the bitterness. I can approach the holidays with reminders of happy memories, because that was one thing about Christmas, whenever we were together, even if every other day was a battle, Christmas Day seemed to always just be a good one!

So please know that if you're hurting this season, if you are missing someone or if there is a relationship that needs to be mended, if there is someone you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from- be it a parent or child, a friend, a spouse, a sibling, or even yourself- it is never too late... after all isn't that what Christmas is all about? God fulfilling a promise to mend a broken world. Christmas is the ultimate mending of a relationship, when a Baby was born and laid in a manager, to set a course that would mend our relationship with God once and for all! And I am so very thankful for that!

If you find yourself hurting this Christmas, please know that my prayers and thoughts are with you. I hope that you find small moments of happiness to balance the heavy and make the load a little lighter. 

If this helped your heart and you would like to read further thoughts on past Christmases since my brother has been gone you can read them here; both the heavy moments and the lighter ones

Friday, December 16, 2016

Five on Friday! Camping and Birthdays and Giveaways, Oh My!

Happy Friday Friends!! 
It has been one whirlwind of a few weeks since we got back from our trip on the Allure of the Seas, so I figured we would do a little catchup with some 5 on Friday fun today!

Here is a peek into my world recently... 

~Camping with Friends~ This past weekend we headed down to Fort De Soto to do a little camping with our friends, Amanda and Dustin. This was the first time we went camping with another couple since we got Flo and we has a blast! We introduced them to Geocaching, they introduced us to the wonderfulness that is hammock-tent camping (this is on my Christmas list for if we ever go backpacking); we explored, relaxed and ate all the foods. It was a wonderful time, in the great outdoors, with like-minded people.

~Yummy Barbecue~ Anytime we go camping we try to pick a different BBQ place to try near (or on our way to) each destination, so on the way home from Fort De Soto we stopped at Deuces BBQ in St. Pete. YUM!! This place was not only super cute (a little blue building with picnic tables out back for those who enjoy to eat outside like us), but also had a really authentic, home-cooked BBQ vibe. The smoker was out back and the guy was still cooking when we got there (we actually arrived a little before it was open). It must be a really knit together community, because they knew we were from out of town. They guys running it were great and the food was delicious! There is some kind of distinct seasoning combination they use, because I could taste it in everything I got from the mac-n-cheese to the sweet sauce they had and it made it a truly unique and delightful experience. I love when BBQ places have their own flavor combinations, because it makes them stick out in my mind. They also had AMAZING sweet tea!! I was sold and would definitely go back again. I got the pulled pork sandwich and Babe got the rib sandwich. They load you up, so you could also totally share! 

~Birthday Extravaganza Weekend~ Babe turns old TODAY!! He is currently out kicking-off the celebration with his sister at the new Star Wars: Rogue One movie. When he gets back we are officially celebrating the beginning to his 33rd year of life! Then on Saturday we celebrate my big day. I will be turning the big 3-0 on Sunday (eek)!! I can't believe I am going to have been alive for 3 decades!! We took the cruise as my main celebration, so we will spend the evening with a few close friends and call it a close. #BonVoyage20s

~Trip Planning~ We are heading out the day after Christmas for a little camping near St. Augustine and I am so excited!! While we will spend most of the time at Faver Dykes State Park, we are going to head into St. Augustine for one of the days. I really want to see the fort (surprisingly enough I have never been there, despite the fact that it is typically a Florida field trip right of passage) and we were told to see the Christmas lights on the bridge, but other than that I am not sure where else to go or what to eat. Too many options can make me go a little bonkers!! Has anyone been? Any recommendations for places we must see and food we must devour?! I would love some tips in the right direction!

~Happy Feet and a Giveaway~ So, I received these cushioned foot pads to try from a company called Sole Patches. Maybe it has something to do with being almost 30, but y'all, my feet hurt! My poor little piggies are so tired and worn out by the end of the day. I was excited for the chance to give these a try and I am so happy I got the opportunity. Game changer!! Sole Patches come in a set of 6 for $9.95 (you can get them through their website or on Amazon for those with Prime) and in my mind that is pretty reasonable for how well they work and how long they last. There are two options for wearing your Sole Patch. You can apply it directly to your foot for day of use or apply it directly to a shoe and it will stay until it's worn down, which would take a while (at least at the rate I wear my heels). I tried it on my foot, under the ball of my foot where I tend to get the most discomfort, and wore it with my tennis shoes. Honestly, I have been needing to invest in better shoes for a while now, but haven't taken the time to get a pair. The Sole Patch helped to keep me comfortable and even provide a little support. I applied another pair directly to my heels. 

Guys, these heels are the bane of my existence! I wear them maybe once a year, mostly because I dread putting them on so much! My feet slide forward and they feel hard as rocks. The Sole Patch changed that completely!! They kept my feet in place, so that my toes didn't pinch in the front and gave me the cushioning I needed to not feel like I was walking on needles. Does it mean I will be wearing them every weekend?! Doubtful! I'm a woods girl, not a downtown gal, but the Sole Patches will come in handy for big events, like weddings or my birthday this weekend when girlfriends try to convince me I must wear those horrible beasts of a shoe. Sole Patches definitely made my feet far more happy!

And now you can have the chance to make your tired toes happy too!! I am giving away a box of Sole Patches (and a pair of cute cozy socks) to one lucky winner! Just enter below. The winner will be chosen and emailed on Monday. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!! 
What's going on in your world recently?

**This post was sponsored by Sole Patches and BrandBacker, but all opinions are entirely my own. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

#TravelTuesday 11.5// A Year in Review

Happy Travel Tuesday... Again!! 
So, apparently when you go away on a cruise and enter back into reality, you tend to have no idea what month day week you are in. I went ahead and added a whole extra week to the month of December and thought that last week was the second week of the month. 
Newsflash to self: It wasn't! 
Anyways... I had posted this month's travel linkup a bit early and because of that error I am posting another linkup on this post so you still have two weeks left to join in (the linkup in last weeks post is now closed), but hey just meant that we had an extra week this month. If you are going to add an extra week to any month I guess December is the one to do it! 

Since I already shared a post last week, I thought that it might be fun to take a look back at the year and relive all of the adventures!
So, here is a year in the life of my travel fun... 

~January~ Georgia fun! We traveled to Savannah after Christmas last year and did a little parking lot camping in the heart of Savannah and then spent some time along the gorgeous Ogeechee River at Fort McAllister State Park

~February~ I finally got around to sharing some of the highlights from our honeymoon in Greece and Turkey... nothing like a post 6 years in the making! 

~March~ We had our first true boondocking (camping with no hook-ups) experience and it was definitely one wild time! 
~April~ I spent a little time talking about traveling fears and international travel.

~May~ I shared about our trip to Highlands Hammock State Park and some seriously amazing roadside barbeque! 

~June~ There was no linkup in June, but I did share some of my favorite Summer must haves and a few resources for fellow RVers. 

~July~ We did a little horseback riding to celebrate my sister-in-laws 30th and our time at Forever Florida was a true trip back in time! 
~August~ We travel to Georgia every August with my nieces and nephews, so I shared 5 great North Georgia day trips that are kid-friendly. 

~September~ We went on a river tubing adventure at Rainbow Springs State Park. Probably one of my favorite Florida trips! Can we go back now?! 

~October~ I shared some of my cruise must haves to get ready for a girls cruise with my mama, sister and cousins. Sadly, Hurricane Matthew had other plans and we did not get to sail, but now I just have more cruise fun to look forward to in April!! 

~November~ I did a fun ABCs of Travel experiences survey. If you haven't done one, it's a great way to take a fun trip down memory lane! 

~December~ Babe and I took a trip on the Allure of the Seas and I shared a little sneak peek at some of our favorite moments! 

It was really neat to take a look back at all we have done this year and makes me realize how truly blessed I am to get to spend so much time out on the road! I replayed a few of my RoadTalk videos and have also come to realize how much a learning process every new adventure can be! Some of those earlier videos make me cringe laugh out loud, but I guess that's the fun in it. It had been one heck of a year, that much is true! 

Are you planning to try anything new in the New Year? 
What travel fun have you had in 2016? 

Share your link below and let's travel together! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel post 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. 
~I will also be sharing my favorite post from the month before. November's fave was from Emma Eats and Explores, because a wine tasting in Tuscany totally makes me go goo-goo eyed and gets my wanderlust flowing! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#TravelTuesday 11// Fun on the Allure of the Seas

Happy Tuesday Adventurers!! 
It's time for another #TravelTuesday Linkup and I can't wait to see where everyone has been! 

This past week we packed our bags and headed out on the high seas! A week aboard Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas was the perfect getaway. Babe surprised me with the trip as a way to say bon voyage to my 20s, since I turn 30 (eek!) on the 18th. While I can't wait to go into all the blissful details and each adventurous, exciting moment from each port destination, I am still playing catch-up around these parts. So I figured I would start by just sharing my top 5 favorite moments from the week and dive into the details later! 

So here they are (in no particular order)...
1.) Our very first balcony room!! We LOVE to cruise, but had yet to opt for a balcony because (1.) they are typically crazy more expensive and (2.) we are never in the room and therefore didn't think they would be worth the $$. Y'all, we were wrong!! So, we get on the boat last Sunday morning and here I am planning for an interior room and dreaming about the amazing sleep I will get since those rooms let in absolutely no light. Well, we start walking towards room 208 and I start to realize all the even room numbers are on the side of the ship that I keep seeing balconies in (the doors were open because people were still cleaning rooms). I turn a give Babe a "what's going on" look, but he looks clueless and so I assume at some point we will hit the end of the balconies and be at our room. Enter room 208 and there is sunlight streaming in through the sliding glass door! That stinker splurged and surprised me with a balcony as the cherry on top of our adventure and it was worth every cent! We had breakfast out there pretty much every morning, enjoyed coffee with views of the ocean while still sitting in our pjs, and were able to enjoy the most glorious sunsets while getting ready for dinner. With an interior room we were always planning around sunset to enjoy the beauty, even if it cut close to an event we had scheduled that we needed to get ready for. With the balcony we were given constant access to the stunning views! Though we won't be opting for it every time (it's still expensive, yo!) it will definitely be something we fork out the extra cash for when it's an extra special celebration (so maybe in another 10 years or so)! 

2.) Time to RELAX!! We usually read through the itinerary for each day and pick a couple activities to keep us busy (trivia, dodge ball, ping pong tourneys...), but this trip we ended up doing a whole not-a-lotta! We laid out in the sun, splashed in the pool, soaked in the hot tub and basically didn't leave the sun deck until it was time to go get ready for dinner. 

I even managed to read this month's book club selection, even though when I first started it at the beginning of the month I hadn't been sure if I would read it. I am really glad to say I did! Two from Galilee is a great book for the Christmas season. Though hard to get into at first, about 1/4 way through I ended up hooked and was crying by the end. It is a historical fiction story about the life of Mary and Joseph, as Mary finds out she is going to give birth to Jesus. It was really interesting to read about Mary through the voice of a young girl, coming of age and falling in love who then must shoulder this huge blessing and responsibility. It made her seem so much more human to me. Though it is fiction, it played closely to biblical scripture and to be given glimpses into what Mary may have been thinking and feeling really pulled at my heart strings, so that by the time they flee to Egypt I am in tears on the my lounge chair trying to not look like a blubbering baby on a cruise ship! 

3.) Dragon Tail Coaster! On Royal Caribbean's private island, in Haiti, there is the option to do this bobsled mountain coaster thing. So. Much. Fun!! It's twists and turns down the mountain and gives awesome views of the beauty of Haiti. You control the speed, so of course when it was Babe's turn to drive he is literally full-throttling it around each turn (even when it says to break), but it made for one wild ride! More specific to come later! 

4.) The BLUE HOLE in Jamaica!! Jamaica is a beautiful place! We chose to go to the Blue Hole, which was an awesome spot for any adventure lover! There's cliff jumping, waterfall hiking, waterfall repelling and so much more to explore. I could have stayed all day! Sadly, our window of time was short, but at least our time was packed full of adrenaline loving moments!! 

5.) Broadway on a boat!! Typically we cruise Carnival; it's just become our preferred line of cruising. We love the variety and endless options at any hour of the day, but one thing we find lacking is the headlining shows. Royal Caribbean takes shows to another level and this cruise we got to watch Mamma Mia on the high seas! When Babe first told me I must admit that, while super excited, I was also a little skeptical. Mamma Mia is my all time favorite Broadway play. I am not sure how many times I have seen it (and no, I am not counting the movie), but I think this was probably my 6th time seeing it. Needless to say, I was hesitant that a cruise ship production would do it justice. When I say I love it I mean that I have the original cast recording on CD, know every lyric to every song (which helped me win the If You Know It, Sing It Game Show on board actually), can repeat most of the cast lines and had a mother-daughter dance to " " at our wedding. The first time I went my mom (being a die hard Abba fan) literally had to drag me to it, but 10 minutes in and I was hooked! So I like to think I know when it was done right and when it wasn't. The cast on literally KILLED IT! They were amazing! Though there were a few I thought could have been better cast, most of the characters were actually the best I had ever seen! I was singing, I was half ready to burst forth from my seat and start dancing in the aisles, I LOVED every single minute! Royal Caribbean tends to be a bit more expensive than Carnival cruises, but with shows like that it isn't surprising. "Mamma Mia, here I go again, my my, how can I resist you?" I couldn't! I was entranced!

It really was one great trip and I can't wait to share more about all the awesome happies soon!!

Happy Travels! 
Where have you been exploring lately? 
Share your link below and let's travel together! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel post 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. 
~I will also be sharing my favorite post from the month before. November's fave was from Emma Eats and Explores, because a wine tasting in Tuscany totally makes me go goo-goo eyed and gets my wanderlust flowing!