St. Augustine: Happiest Place on Earth

 

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The city of St. Augustine has a special place in my heart. I grew up in Jacksonville and spent many weekends in the oldest city in the U.S. My family even started going to church in St. Augustine because we enjoyed our Sunday afternoons. Christmas Eve in St. Augustine is a favorite family tradition. Because I love the city so much, my husband and I were married in St. Augustine last April.

Every visit home to Florida, we trip to squeeze in a trip down to St. Augustine so I was thrilled when I found out that one my girlfriends selected St. Augustine for her bachelorette destination. I never thought of St. Augustine as place for bachelorette celebrations, but it was a perfect location with bars, restaurants, shopping, historic sites all in walking proximity.

We selected a VBRO and the house was gorgeous and the owner was so thoughtful and generous. She left a complimentary bottle of champagne in the fridge for the bride-to-be and dinner recommendations.

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Beautiful backyard of the house and bachelorette goodies

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Bubbly Bar for Brunch

The bachelorette weekend included stops at a few of my favorite locations and some new places I’ve never been before. That’s the great thing about St. Augustine, there are so many spots to checkout that you can discover a new place every time you visit.  We toured San Sebastian Winery, brunched at Brunch Restaurant, experienced a haunted pub tour, drank rum punches at Tradewinds and dined on the best pizza I’ve ever had in my entire life at Pizza Time. By the way, it’s rated as the number two pizza spot by Trip Advisor in the U.S. There is usually a line, but it’s worth the wait. I also had a quick visit with my mom and dad. It’s always nice to see the folks.

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And last but not least…we stopped by the Casa Monica where Chad and I were married. I still get goosebumps when I see it. Thank you St. Augustine, for being our special place. You never disappoint.

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Night of Lights at the Casa Monica

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St. Augustine and my husband, both have my heart

Have you ventured to the Oldest City in the U.S.?

 

 

Easy Pasta Dish Recipe

If a recipe has more than 10 ingredients, I go into panic mode. The kitchen is an overwhelming and frightful place that I’ve yet to conquer. However, to save dollar bills, I’ve been attempting date night recipes at home (with a maximum of ten ingredients to keep my sanity.)

True story

True story

I was in the mood for an Italian date night and I came across a great recipe from Hippie Foodie Mom, called Seafood Pappardelle. It’s only 10 ingredients and combines scallops, shrimp and noodles into a spicy red-sauced dish. I couldn’t find pappardelle noodles at my grocery store so I substituted fettuccine because I didn’t plan ahead. If you want pappardelle noodles, order online on Amazon. 

Below are the ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 lb. scallops
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1½ cups tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. pappardelle (other noodle if lazy like me)
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley to serve

The instructions are easy to follow and I had dinner on the table within 30 minutes (that’s a record for me.)

Instructions:
  1. In a large skillet, heat up the oil and butter over medium to medium-high heat. Sear the scallops and shrimp, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook until soft, but not brown. Add the tomato sauce and cream. Return the scallops and shrimp to the pan and simmer gently on low while the pasta is cooking.
  3. Cook the pappardelle (or another noodle) according to the package. Drain and toss with the sauce and seafood. Top it off with flat-leaf parsley.

Below is an image of my final creation accompanied by a bottle of Red Apothic Wine, Lite Caesar Salad kit and homemade garlic dipping sauce (take olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and warm it up together.)

Not bad for a novice!

Not bad for a novice!

What is your favorite easy-to-make pasta dish?

Halloween Dog Costume Tips

Another Halloween has come and gone and since we don’t have our own kids to torture, we like to dress up our pups every year for Halloween. The experience does not go over well with the pups. We’ve failed two years in a row to get the costumes to stay on our pups and in once piece, so I’ve compiled a list of tips for fellow dog owners who are already planning their dog costumes for next year.

Please don't make up dress up for Halloween again!

Please don’t make up dress up for Halloween again!

1. Buy the larger size

Dog costume sizes are not accurate. Twice, I’ve purchased the incorrect size for Cannoli, our medium-sized dog. She is 28 pounds, which classifies her as medium-size. However, both years the costume was too small and I had to wrangle it around her body to get it to fit. Vita, is 65 pounds so she is considered large. I was concerned the large would be too small so I up-sized to extra large and it fit her perfectly. You don’t want your poor babies squeezing into costumes a size too small. That is reserved for sorority girls who only eat pea green soup the week of Halloween so they can fit into their borderline prostitute leather outfit. Disclaimer: I’ve been that girl. Don’t force your dogs to go through that.

Mom this outfit is way too tight!

Mom this outfit is way too tight!

2. Keep it Cheap

Let’s be honest…we already spend too much money on our fur babies between Bark Boxes, obedience school, shots, emergency vet trips on Sunday nights, seasonal wardrobe changes and all-natural grain free puppy chow that is more expensive than your own food. We don’t need to pull out the big bucks for dog Halloween costumes. Big Lots has a large selection and the prices range between $10-$15 dollars. Save your doggie change for the big items and don’t feel guilty about being cheap for your dog’s Halloween costume. They hate wearing it anyways…

Mom dresses me in clothes from Big Lots

Mom dresses me in clothes from Big Lots. How can I show my face at the dog park?

3. No Hoods

I’ve tried two years in a row to dress my dogs up in cute costumes with hoods. This year they were penguins and the year before they were a ladybug and bumblebee. The girls hated the hoods on their  ears and would rip off each other’s hoods tugging at their bug antennas or penguin beaks. Select costumes that wrap around the body and nothing that comes near their heads as they will find a way to rip it off.

Costume fail

Costume fail

4.  When all else fails…buy a Fall sweater

If your pet seems miserable in an ornate Halloween costume, but you want the whole family to be festive, buy a Fall doggie sweater. Petco and PetSmart have a great collection and you can get more wear out of festive sweaters versus dog costumes. And if you live up North, the sweaters keep your pups nice and warm during walks. We will likely be investing in pumpkin sweaters next year as Cannoli and Vita have had enough of Halloween dog costumes.

Over it...

Over it…

Have you had success dressing  your pup up for Halloween?

So Long Summer

The weather temperature feels a little cooler each morning and night. The tourist traffic has slowed down and the restaurants around Ocean Isle Beach are moving to “Off Season” hours. I’ve been in denial about summer ending for the past few weeks and have avoided all things pumpkin. I’m still not used to summer ending so quickly in North Carolina. In Florida, I expect 90 degree weather until December…or even February. While I love fall, it will be hard to say goodbye to this particular summer. It was the best summer of my life as a newlywed and I loved every adventure and moment with my husband. To say my official goodbye, I’m sharing my favorite moments of the summer.

1. Summer Date at the Beach

Not bad for a picnic first-timer!

Earlier this summer I shared a blog post of how to put together a “Date Night in a Basket.”  Friday nights this summer were usually nights in as we would try new recipes and then select Netflix documentaries to watch. One night we decided to take our meal to the beach and it was one of the best date’s we’ve experienced. I prepared a cheese board and it was surprisingly easy to pack and eat at the beach. You can’t beat the scenery of the beach in the evening as the sun sets. We will go out this fall to the beach with blankets and I’ll think of a warm meal to pack.

2. Carolina Country Music Festival

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My wedding gift to my husband was tickets to the three-day Carolina Country Music Festival in Myrtle Beach. My husband is a huge Eric Church fan and he was headlining the second night of the festival. Eric Church holds a special place in our hearts as we realized at an Eric Church concert (how classy) that we were both head over heels for each other. Can you guess who our first wedding dance was to? The concert lineup was pretty impressive and we spent the whole weekend in Myrtle Beach. Our favorites were Cole Swindell, Kellie Pickler, Colt Ford, Corey Smith and Rascal Flatts. My husband also had a little fun one night and decided to get a henna tattoo of our boxer Vita on his back. It’s the culturally appropriate thing to do in Myrtle Beach.

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3. July 4th

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We had lots of visitors over the summer and one of my favorite weekends was the Fourth of July. We had three couples (two of my bridesmaids and their husbands and one of Chad’s groomsmen and his wife)  visit us and it was a blast. The boys played golf one morning and I took the ladies to Wilmington for a shopping trip. We also visited Ocean Isle Beach staples including the Silver Coast Winery, Pelican’s Perch and Pogie’s. On the actual 4th of July, we did a big beach day and cookout. The best part was having both our closest friends together for a weekend. We are taking reservations for next year! Everyone is welcome!

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4. Orlando Trip

Earlier this summer I wrote about my first baby shower experience, when I visited my girlfriends for a weekend in Orlando. It was a fun weekend of reconnecting with my best girlfriends as we celebrated our expecting friend. It’s always nice to go back to my old home and relive the Orlando glory days with my girls at our favorite restaurants and bars.

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5. Family Boat Days

IMG_6633Even with all the exciting trips we took and events we attended, my favorites moments from this summer were days on the boat with my husband and pups. Every weekend we were in town, we did a boat day. We’d cruise up and down the Intracoastal Waterway enjoying the sun and blue water. Some days we’d pull our boat into the Inlet and park for the day at the beach areas. We also saw porpoises swimming along our boat. I’ve never been that close to a porpoise in the wild and it was incredible. The pups were very curious about these creatures.

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I’m very thankful to live at Ocean Isle Beach and that my husband and I spent our first newlywed summer by the water. I’m sad to see summer go, but I look forward to our next round of adventures this fall.

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Cannoli and Vita love their boat rides!

What will you miss most about summertime?

Favorite Netflix Documentaries

In my past blog titled “5 Signs You’re A Newlywed,” staying in on a Friday night to watch Netflix was one of the first major signs. My husband and I gave up cable in February and Friday night has become Netflix date night.  We have discovered amazing shows including Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Marco Polo, Parks and Recreation and many more.

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Recently, we’ve channeled our inner nerd and have become obsessed with watching Netflix documentaries. We started our transition to nerdville by first watching the 30 for 30 ESPN series. All of the 30 for 30 showare incredibly well done and addicting to watch. One of the best I’ve seen is June 17, 1994. It’s not a traditional narrated documentary and instead allows the footage to tell the story of the O.J. Simpson high speed chased that coincidentally happened on the same day as several major sporting events. The ESPN documentaries eventually led us to exploring other documentaries Netflix offers and now we are hooked.

Below are my favorite documentaries on Netflix.

20-feet-from-stardom_1. 20 Feet from Stardom

This documentary follows the challenges and struggles of the “back up” singer. It covers the full history of back up singers and has a killer soundtrack. Ever wonder about the voices behind the major pop and rock stars? You’ll discover a new world of hidden talent and struggles of these powerful singers.

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I have two left feet so I’ve always been fascinated by the dance world. I wish I had the grace and strength of those perfect ballerinas. The documentary, Ballerina follows five Russian ballerinas. It’s not a flashy documentary, but it showcases the strict and disciplined world of Russian ballet from admissions to ballet academies to promotion to prima ballerina. Pass on Black Swan and learn about the real world of the best ballerinas in the business.

3. Hot Girls Wanted

I’m a big fan of Rashida Jones and when I learned she produced Hot Girls Wanted, I immediately wanted to check out the film. This documentary is one of the darker ones on Netflix as it provides a look into the world of amateur porn. The majority of subjects followed are 18-19 years old and they have just entered the world of amateur pornography. The typical shelf-life of amateurs is 1-2 months. It’s compelling storytelling and was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s not light watching so I wouldn’t recommend it for a Friday night date night but it’s worth checking out.

800183314. Antarctica: A Year On Ice 

Ever wonder who lives in the most remote part of the planet? You’d be surprised to learn about a community of people that live and work in Antarctica. At first, I only imagined scientist living in this cold region, but the documentary explores the lives of the cooks, administrators, retailers, etc. who work at the stations. The most interesting part of the documentary is witnessing the day-to-day lives of these people and why they love living in their tiny freezing community. The scenery is also breathtaking and is reason enough to check out the film.

5. Dogs on the Inside

I’m a big dog lover so I immediately wanted to check out the documentary, Dogs on the Inside. The documentary follows the relationship between dogs and prison inmates. Sweet homeless dogs, some of have been abandoned or abused, are paired with qualifying inmates who are in the final months before their release dates. It’s a heartwarming film that shows the powerful relationship between dogs and humans and how together, with the right love and care, dogs can be used to help us recover from our past trauma.

Have you checked out any of the documentaries on Netflix? What are your favorite films?

Favorite Mary Kay Products

Several of my girlfriends recently commented on my “newlywed glow” and how fresh and radiant I look in my pictures. I must admit the truth once and for all about my glow. It’s half martial bliss and half Mary Kay.

My first encounter with Mary Kay products was as a little girl. I attended a “Mary Kay party” with my mom and sampled different types of makeup. Fast forward 20 years later – I’ve recently discovered the brand again, but this time for skin care.

Disclaimer: I was not paid or asked to post for Mary Kay. I’m a brand enthusiast on my own!

I’ve always used low-cost generic skin care products because I never saw the need to spend a high dollar amount for my skin. However, as I slowly creep toward the big 3-0, I’ve noticed the signs of aging. My friend Kelly has incredible skin and I noticed she wears very little face powder and makeup but still a smooth and even look. She is a Mary Kay consultant and has been using the skin care products for years.

I decided to give it a shot and invested in the TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Set to maintain the fountain of youth and I’m never going back to the generic skin care products. It’s a four step skin regiment and I wish I had taken before and after pictures to show the results. My skin tone has completely evened out and I no longer have red patchy blemishes. And it sounds strange, but my makeup goes on easier and I wear less face powder and concealer. Some days I only leave the house with bronzer on my face. My skin has a healthy moisture to it and my husband even commented that I have a “fresh new look to my face.” What a doll.

The whole set is $205.00, which may seem like a scary price. But do you know what is scarier? Getting old…

My personal fountain of youth kit

My personal fountain of youth kit

The set includes five products and I recommend adding the TimeWise Repair® Volu-Fill® Deep Wrinkle Filler. It attacks the wrinkle zones and it’s the low-cost option ($40) compared to Botox.

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Botox in a tube

The full TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Set includes:

Use whole set twice-a-day swapping out daycream and nightcream

Use whole set twice-a-day swapping out daycream and night treatment

All products combined revitalize your skin and it’s been worth the monetary investment. My only regret is I wished I used Mary Kay before my wedding. Oops! So to all the brides-to-be, spend the extra money on your skin – skip the party favors.

What are your favorite skin care products?

10 Crazy Things I’ve Said When Asked The Baby Question

I recently wrote about the five signs of knowing you’re newlywed. One of my points was the ever obtrusive question newlyweds receive about when you plan on popping out kids like Skittles. I feel this is a very personal decision that is between a husband and wife. Disclaimer: in no way am I trying to be disrespectful to all the mommies and daddies who have popped out those sweet angels. I’ve heard it’s the best decision and changes your life for the better. However, I don’t feel the need to discuss when my husband and I will be having kids with the whole world. So to get people to stop asking me the baby making question I’ve responded with absurd comments to make the conversation incredibly awkward and weird them out so they will never want to ask me the question again. I really enjoy saying off the wall comments to people in general and my close friends and family have come to expect this type of behavior from me. However, strangers and acquaintances don’t always know how to respond to me and I delight in their reactions. I don’t do it to be mean spirited and I don’t  mean any of these comments, except for number 10, but life is too short not to have fun with people every once in awhile. Below are my top 10 craziest responses that I’ve used in real life to respond to the baby making question:

  1. “Yeah it would be great to have kids but I don’t think I could go nine months without having a cocktail. I use alcohol to cope with all my life problems so carrying a baby would really interfere with my number one coping mechanism.”

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2. “I starved myself to get a ring on my finger so I don’t want my husband to leave me if I get fat. I did too much work shedding for the wedding to sacrifice it for a baby.”

3. “I heard you lose all your friends when you have kids. I love my girlfriends and don’t want them to abandon me. I think I’ll pass on babies in the spirit of sisterhood.”

4. “My husband would rather travel around the world than have a family. We are living the vagabond lifestyle”

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5. “Have you ever watched Children of the Corn? Number one reason for us not to reproduce in this world.”

6. “The Millennial generation is already so messed up. Can you imagine what our children will be like? We don’t want to contribute to the problem.”

7. “I’m a really selfish person and I don’t want to put another human being’s needs before my own.”

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8. “I need to find a nanny first who will be willing to raise my child for the next 18 years…”

9. “I’m not worried about my biological clock ticking. I froze my eggs at 22.”

10. “The puppies are our lives! I don’t know how we could ever love a child as much as we love Cannoli and Vita.”

Only babies we need for now

Only babies we need for now

Have you ever felt annoyed by the baby questions? If so, please feel free to use my responses at your own risk.