Our Florida 30A Vacay

Feb. in Missouri during a snow storm is when I booked our Florida vacation. Typically when we go to the beach, we go the all inclusive route; however, this year with Covid and an aging dog, we decided we wanted to stay stateside and take our pups. When I asked friends on social media what beach to go to within a days driving distance, overwhelmingly the answer was to go to any of the beaches on 30A.

I used VRBO to book, and even months in advance, I couldn’t find a dog friendly place to stay with 6 nights available in that area. So, we ended up staying 3 nights in a condo in Seagrove with an ocean view and 3 nights in a house in Panama City Beach about 5 blocks from the ocean and 5 miles from 30A. The condo view was beautiful. It was newly renovated and included a pool and hot tub~which we enjoyed every day after coming back from the beach. While we loved the condo, the house in Panama City Beach was a nice change because we had a fenced back yard for the pups to enjoy. They were located about 20 minutes away from each other.

The Beach: We arrived at the beach after a tropical storm, so the first few days, the ocean was stirred up and rough–red flags were flying. By day three, the water started to settle, and I then understood why people had said it was so beautiful. The white sand and tropical blue combination is gorgeous. However, the beach on 30A was very crowded. Our typical beach routine is waking up and going to the beach early, and then enjoying the pool and hot tub in the afternoon. At this beach, you need to get there early if you want to get a good spot. There were way more people on the beach than I am used to (once again, we usually go to all inclusive vacation beaches). To be honest, we actually enjoyed the Panama City beach more than the one on 30A. It was less crowded and just had a more laid back and relaxing vibe.

My husband lived in Miami as a kid, and he had told me multiple times he prefers Florida’s Atlantic Coast to the gulf because the Atlantic is the ocean, and the gulf is “like a big lake.” However, because of the tropical storm a few days earlier, the ocean had some nice waves for us to have fun enjoying. By our final day there, it was much calmer, and I better understood his lake analogy. We spent 2 to 3 hours at the beach each day. Having beach chairs, a cooler, and beach blankets were a must. (The condo where we stayed supplied chairs and a cooler, and the house supplied a wagon to haul things to the beach.) Some people had elabortate tents and umbrellas. If we weren’t the sun lovers that we are or if we had wanted to stay longer at the beach, some shade would have been necessary. The Florida sun is hot!

The Eats: When I am on vacation, I don’t like having to make reservations for restaurants because I don’t want to have to be anywhere at a certain time. I want to be able to simply go with the flow and do things when we feel like it. Most restaurants required reservations (way in advance), so we ended up choosing where we ate by recommendations combined with where we could just show up. When we first arrived, we went to Publix and stocked up on some breakfast foods and snacks. We made coffee and brunch in the condo and house each morning, and then went out for dinner each night.

The first night we ate at Havana Beach Bar & Grill in The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach. The Rosemary Beach area has a very European vibe with multiple restaurants and shops, and is definitely worth checking out! At the restaurant, we had a short 20 minute wait at the bar before being seated. We had hushpuppies for an appetizer, and Jonathan ordered the burger (which was huge and delicious–according to him), and I had a salad and some of the best french onion soup ever.

Multiple people recommended Goatfeathers, so that is where we ended up going night two. There are a few different locations including a market in Seagrove beach; however, we decided to go to the actual restaurant in Santa Rosa. We got there early (5:00 p.m.) and were immediately seated. It was happy hour, so we both enjoyed a delicious Bloody Mary and Boiled shrimp appetizers on special. I had surf-n-turf (the grilled shrimp were delicious and the steak was very good) and J had Fish-n-chips. This is a very casual, laid back, family friendly restaurant.

We love sushi, so night three we ended up at Shaka Sushi & Noodle Bar. It is located right off 30A and has indoor and outdoor seating. It was hot and humid when we arrived, so we decided to enjoy our meal at the sushi bar. To say the sushi was good is an understatement. It was some of the best sushi we’ve had in a very long time. J ordered The Chef’s Choice & I had the Jaws Roll (very unique, rice-less roll) and Endless Summer. I’d highly recommend both of these rolls! Seriously, we liked this place so much, we decided to return the next night for dinner again. This time we sat in the outdoor area, and besides the amazing food once again, it almost felt like we were at a different restaurant.

While at Shaka, we asked our server what restaurants in the area she recommended as I always appreciate local recommendations, and she said Le Crema in Rosemary Beach and Chanticleer in Grayton. We had already eaten at the Rose Mary Beach area, and we just aren’t huge Tapas fans, so we ended up going to Chanticleer. It didn’t disappoint. All the food there is made fresh, and it was delicious. We both had Bloody Mary’s again this night. They were unique, almost creamy, and we liked them, but they were definitely different than a typical Bloody Mary. We both also split the house salad and had burgers. I opted for brussel sprouts as my side, and J got grits. So good!

The Activites: Going to the beach, pool, and restaurants were our main activities. We did spend some time driving around and simply exploring the area. There are some beautiful houses and flowers and architecture to look at, but watch out for pedestrians and folks on bikes: they are everywhere and will walk out right in front of you! We always buy the Starbucks “Been There Series” mugs when on vacation, so one day we went for an afternoon coffee at the Starbucks in Seacrest. We also had a coffee one afternoon while exploring Rosemary Beach at a local coffee shop called Amavida Coffee Roasters. There was live music at The Hub 30a one night, so we hung out there for a while. When we went to Panama City Beach, we also explored the Pier Park area. I’m sure there are plenty of other activites to enjoy, but we were only there 5 days and truly, when we are on vacation, we like to go slow and rest rather than have a schedule packed full of activities.

All in all, it was a great vacation and definitely an area of the U.S. I’d recommend exploring, if you have the chance!

Adorn Yourself: Copper Robin

I resisted buying an apple watch for years.  I had my iphone, so I thought: why do I need the watch?  However, a few years ago, I finally decided to take the apple watch plunge, primarily because I wanted to be able to go on long walks or workout and listen to music or podcasts without having to take my phone with me, and now I can’t imagine life without it!

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I love jewelry.  By adding cool watch bands, my apple watch has become an additional piece of jewelry to style!  Recently I discovered another woman owned business that makes amazing watch bands, and I wanted to share with you.  Copper Robin, created and owned by Brynn Nicholle, makes beautiful smart watch bands that help turn the functional watch into a beautiful piece of jewelry. Customer service is outstanding, and they often have sales. (I bought two of my three for 30% off.) If you check out the website, you’ll see a wide variety of beautiful watch band options in a variety of colors for many types of smart watches!  Here are the ones I currently own and love:

Aluminum Apple Watch Cover https://rb.gy/wsmjtp

My apple watch face has silver on it, so when I dove into the world of wearing gold jewelry as well, I wanted to get a face I could easily attach and take off that was gold. This one is perfect. It is light weight, looks great, yet inexpensive, and comes on and off easily,

The posh is one of my favorite apple watch bands I own. I love the stylish, casual, yet edgy vibe to it! Eventually, I’d love to own this one in silver, too!

The Designer is a beautiful band I wear when I’m more dressed up. I love black and gold together as well as the metal and leather look!

The Lotus Goddess https://rb.gy/kaqyvc

The Lotus Goddess, I believe, is currently sold out. I’m not sure if she will end up making more, but if so, you should definitely check it out. This is light weight and has a bracelet like feel. I also, of course, love the little lotus flower.

There are many other very creative styles of watch bands on the Copper Robin website, so even if you are looking for something other than gold or the styles I’ve shown here, definitely pop on over to their website and take a look! https://copperrobin.com/

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with Copper Robin, but I wish I was!***

A Message of Hope

Years ago, I listened to a podcast with author and researcher, Brene’ Brown, and she described the importance of experiencing disappointments in life in order to learn and know hope.  She was specifically talking about parents who swoop in to guard their children from every disappointment in life, and how those same kids are missing out on the important life skill of learning about hope. She describes hope as a cognitive process more than a feeling. This idea and the relationship between disappointment and hope has stuck with me.

Most of us would probably agree that the year 2020 was filled with disappointment. For some, much more disappointment than others. And, with that, 2020 became a year for kids and adults alike to learn more about hope.

I was recently able to get the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, and this most definitely has me very hopeful: Hopeful for a life moving forward that allows for eating with friends at restaurants, large family gatherings, concerts, hugs, handshakes, smiles eventually not covered by masks, large and crowded yoga classes with our mats only a few inches apart…I could go on and on and on.

I also hope we never forget. I hope we are a little closer to truly understanding how precious and fragile this life is. I hope we remember human connection is a necessity like the air we breathe, and we should treat all humans kindly, justly, and respectfully. I hope we never forget how truly allowing ourselves to experience the highs and the lows is an important part of being human and healing. I hope we learned how to be more compassionate with ourselves and how to extend that compassion to others. I hope we learned the importance of relaxation and true rest. Along with that, I hope we do not go back to busy but instead place high value on experiencing the simple pleasures of life rather than rushing through it to try and fill it up.

As a recovering Type A personality who can lean towards being a bit controlling (thank goodness for Yoga!), this quote always makes me smile. It could easily be the 2020 motto. Relax. Nothing is under control.  And yet, as we continue to journey through this life, we can remember that we can always choose to invite hope to stay. 

What are you hopeful for? 

Self-Care Sunday

I have been preaching and teaching about the importance of self-care since around 2010.  And while today self-care is a word that has become frequently used—almost to the point of feeling cliché’—I absolutely still believe it is imperative, now more than ever, for all people to practice.

First, it is worth the reminder that self-care is not simply pampering (although pampering can be a tool for self-care).  Self-care is not overindulgence.  Self-care is not being selfish.  Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.

I fully believe when we feel better everything we do and every interaction we have is better. Self-care in some ways is the far opposite of selfishness. Practicing self-care allows our best and highest self to show up for others regularly in the world.

The importance of knowing yourself and knowing how to manage your energy are integral pieces of the self-care puzzle.  Where do you get your energy?  What (and who) fill you up?  What (and who) leave you feeling run down and depleted? What boundaries do you need to create or maintain? What do you need to let go of in your life?  What might you need to add? What is your relationship with play? What is your relationship with rest?  I believe these are all important questions to answer to in order to figure out how to best practice self-care. Self-care can look very different for each person.

I have always known I need a large amount of time alone to refuel my energy level, and the pandemic has solidified that knowing for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I greatly miss people and in person human connection. I yearn for the days I will be able to safely go out to dinner with friends, interact with students more in person, eat lunch with my co-workers, and have large family gatherings again. However, I have enjoyed my time at home alone much of the time during the pandemic. I discovered through the pandemic that in the future I need to make a conscious effort to spend more time at home to replenish my energy. 

What have you learned about yourself and your needs during this time? 

I believe everyone should have some self-care tools in their health & wellness toolbox.  Today, I will be sharing three of my most recent favorite self-care practices with you.

Acupressure mat: https://rb.gy/9zzgdh essential oil: https://rb.gy/a0oees
bolster: https://rb.gy/uymcyy

Cultivating true rest & relaxation.  Over the years, I have realized sitting down does not necessarily equate to rest.  If the mind is racing or the finger is scrolling, perhaps this is not actually restorative rest. Prior to the pandemic, one of my biggest sources or rest was getting a monthly massage.  I have not gotten one now for a very long time. One of the new ways I’ve started integrating deeper rest and relaxation during this time is by spending time on my acupressure mat.  This somehow leaves me feeling similarly to how I felt after a massage: deeply relaxed and at ease. In preparation, I ritualistically set the ambiance (which I feel is a very important and necessary step in creating a sense of ease, rest, & relaxation) in my little yoga room by turning on the electric fire place, turning off the lights, lighting a few candles, diffusing lavender essential oil, turning on meditative music, grabbing a bolster for under my knees, a blanket to cover up with, an eye pillow, and I lie down and rest on my acupressure mat anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.  While the initial jolt of lying down on the prickly mat is intense, that feeling subsides quickly, and it really does leave me feeling heavenly.

Working with food and my body. I realize this might not be a popular one, but in the past year, I started experimenting with my sugar, gluten, and wine intake, and I noticed that these three things consistently seemed to be the culprits behind waking up feeling tired, bloated and puffy (to the point I often couldn’t put my rings on my fingers in the mornings), and with achy joints.  While I have experimented with many ways of eating over the years (thank you very much, Diet Culture), I now believe fully there is no one right way for everyone to eat. Each person needs to figure out how to eat in order to feel healthy, energized, and well~while still enjoying food. For me, at this point in my life, I need to leave white sugar and gluten behind and limit my alcohol intake in order to feel my best. Since I’ve made these changes, I definitely feel better!

Walking outside in nature. Now that the weather is warming up, I am making myself get outside to walk regularly.  I’ve also begun focusing on walking to relax rather than to “get a workout.”  It has started to feel like meditation in motion. The fresh air and movement is healing.  It is amazing how a short walk can clear my head and energize my body.

Once again, Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.

Do you need to revamp or amp up your self-care practices? If so, commit. You can do it! And, if you need to hear this: You are worth it.

***I am not currently affiliated with any of the brands linked or mentioned, but I wish I were.***

Top Ten Netlix Recs

Especially during the cold, winter months, Netflix is a favorite source of entertainment in our home. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed watching Netflix series as much as movies. Throughout the heaviness of living during this pandemic, the following series were welcomed escapes and fun to watch.

The first three recommendations are all ones my husband and I watched together and both enjoyed.  We actually watched Schitt’s Creek years ago, and loved it so much, we recently started watching from the beginning again.  This in and of itself says a lot about how much enjoyment we got watching this family because we usually do not watch a series more than one time. It’s just that good. Seriously. After starting from the beginning a second time it is even more apparent how much the characters grow and change throughout the series.  This is an over-the-top family that you can’t help but love, and they provide plenty of laugh out loud moments. (If you finish watching Schitt’s Creek, and love it as much as we did, you will also want to check out the documentary on Netflix about the making of the series: Best Wishes, Warmest Wishes: A Schitt’s Creek Farewell.)

If someone told me I’d be interested in watching a series about chess, I would probably not have believed them.  However, I was easily sucked in to this coming of age story of an orphaned chess prodigy.  While The Queen’s Gambit isn’t as light hearted as some of the others I’m recommending, it is a rich drama filled with moments of hope and triumph.  Whether you like chess or not, you should check it out. And, like Schitt’s Creek, there is also a documentary, Creating The Queen’s Gambit, currently on Netflix about the making of this series.

Kim’s Convenience is another comedy with a family that is easy to grow to love.  The Kims own a Korean Canadian convenience store and have raised two children, now in their twenties. This family provides a great deal or humor as well as depth. If you like Schitt’s Creek, this is another one you will probably enjoy!

The next six recommendations are all series I watched on my own (no husband involved, and if we had children, they would not have been in the room while I was watching as all of them have some risque’ moments!) Grace & Frankie is probably one of my all-time favorite Netflix comedies.   It highlights two women whose husbands leave them to purse a relationship together~which they had been hiding for 20 years. The women are vastly different but slowly become best friends. Grace & Frankie is a show about friendship, family, love, and growing older. It is one that I was truly sad to see come to an end.

Firefly Lane  is the series I am currently watching. It’s another one about women friendships; however, on this one, the two main characters have been friends since their childhood. They come from vastly different families but grew up on the same road: Firefly Lane. This is another one that I know when I finish Season 1, it will feel like too long to wait for Season 2 to arrive in my Netflix queue.

Emily in Paris is a series I would consider a bit goofy and very lighthearted, but sometimes that feels like exactly the entertainment I am seeking. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights of Paris and the fashion and style on this show as well.

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce reminds me of Sex in the City except it is set in L.A. instead of New York, and is about middle aged women going through divorce rather than 20-somethings looking for love. The main character is a writer who is going through a divorce. While divorce is no laughing matter, I found myself cracking up much of the time watching it. This series would easily be in my top five comedy series ever. I felt like I was hanging out with my own group of girlfriends while watching it. It’s so good!

Working’ Moms is hilarious. Even without having children of my own, I loved it. Just watch. You’ll see.

Dead to Me is a bit of a wild ride. I don’t want to say too much here, but it’s about two women who meet in a grief group and build a friendship. They are connected in a way one of the women knows about and the other doesn’t. There are a lot of twists and turns in this one. Like I said, it’s a wild ride.

The final recommendation isn’t a series, but a movie J and I watched last weekend, so it’s fresh in my mind. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a strange and quirky movie, and I highly recommend it! We have a local, small movie theater in town, Rag Tag Cinema, that shows creative and artsy movies, and I kept thinking the entire time we watched this flick that it reminds me of something we would have seen at Rag Tag. (Oh how I long for the days I will feel comfortable watching a movie again outside of my home!) Hunt for the Wilderpeople is described as a New Zealand adventure comedy drama about a boy and his foster father. If you don’t want to commit the time to watching an entire series, this movie is a fun, and shorter, yet adventurous, ride.

I’m curious: what Netflix shows make up some of your top ten favorites?