Life's Sweet Journey

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!!