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.?

 

 

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?

My First Baby Shower

It’s a little surprising that at the ripe old age of 28, I’m now transitioning from the wedding shower stage to baby shower stage of life. There must be something in the water because everywhere I turn I see babies, babies, babies and bellies, bellies, bellies. Thankfully, the baby boom for Chad and I is still far away in a galaxy millions of miles away. We have two puppies who are barely potty trained (both are over a year and like to have accidents all over the house to spite us.)

High maintenance babies

High maintenance babies

Anyways, this past weekend I traveled down to Orlando to celebrate my friend Sam’s baby shower. She is one of the first in our group to take the baby plunge and we are so excited to meet her little girl. She is naming her baby Hadley Ann, which is too precious. We are so excited to welcome the newest addition to our group and she is going to have some crazy aunties. My other besties, Megan and Ali, hosted the shower and they did a fabulous job .Years of bridal shower planning has prepared this group of friends for throwing the ultimate baby showers. No small detail was missed and I spent the majority of my time alternating between the snack table and mimosa bar. Most importantly, there was plenty of love in the room for our friend Sam and her sweet baby girl. 

Baby Mama!

Baby Mama!

My favorite parts of the shower included the delicious cupcakes from Gigi’s, the duck sorbet punch (which I had three helpings of when no one was looking) and watching Sam open all the precious little girl outfits. Hadley has a better wardrobe than me, which means it’s time for me to go shopping! All in all it was a wonderful weekend and I loved spending time with my best friends and celebrating Sam and sweet Hadley.

Monday Musings

Another weekend has come and gone and I’m fighting the Monday blues. We had another great weekend and for the first time in months, we did not go on the boat or go to the beach… Gasp!

Friday night we decided to be old married folks and grill out and watch Netflix. I did my best attempt to set the table nicely with fresh flower arrangements. I’ll be honest, I’m not very good at this stuff but at least I’m trying.

Rookie attempt to create a Pinterest worthy setting

Rookie attempt at creating a Pinterest worthy setting

Even though we did dinner at home, we decided we couldn’t pass up the chance to go to our favorite Italian restaurant, Roberto’s, for a glass of Prosecco and their homemade key lime pie cheesecake. It’s incredible and we crave it 2-3 times a week but usually resist the urge to add the extra pounds to our already growing waistlines.  To finish off the night we watched Penguins of Madagascar on Netflix and it was pretty cute.

Saturday we had tickets to the Corey Smith concert at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach. I discovered Corey Smith in college and my sorority sisters and I still love listening to his music as his lyrics bring back memories of our wilder days. My husband is now a big fan after hearing him play at the Country Music Festival in Myrtle Beach this June.  Before we attended the concert, we explored Barefoot Landing. It’s a cute shopping and dining area in North Myrtle Beach.  We enjoyed dinner and did a wine tasting at the Carolina Vineyards Winery tasting room. You can taste seven wines for $3. Our favorite wine was Barefoot Blush and we purchased a bottle. The concert itself was a blast and Corey Smith never disappoints.

Wishing we were 21...

Wishing we were 21…

On Sunday, we were as lazy as can be and slept in for the first time in forever. We did a little cleaning around the house but finally decided to get out of the house for a movie. We saw Trainwreck, which in my opinion is one of the funniest movies of the year. I laughed hysterically the entire time and Chad enjoyed all of the scenes with John Cena and Lebron James. Another relaxing and fun weekend with the husband and we tried to soak it in as we will be busy the next couple of weekends traveling and with friends coming into town.

Are you still feeling the Monday blues?

Hotel Motel OIB Inn

When we first moved to the beach my husband, Chad, warned me not to be disappointed if people did not come to visit us. He lived in Ocean Isle Beach/Wilmington years ago and he said only a handful of people actually came down for a beach weekend. Well that did not deter me from inviting everyone we know. And to Chad’s surprise and anxiety, we have had quiet a busy summer with many visits from family and good friends.

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Family walk on the beach!

Our first visitors were our good friends Buddy and Kelly and their little boy, Brayden. I was a little nervous because this is the first time we’ve ever had a little one at our house (he’s a little over a year) and the first time I’ve been around baby/toddler for consecutive days in a row. My maternal instincts haven’t quite kicked in and I worry I’ll be one of those moms who puts leashes on their kids  and sneaks hard liquor in a flask to PTA meetings because I won’t be able to handle the stress of motherhood. Well, Kelly put me at ease because this girl is super mom and we had so much fun with Brayden. This little boy loves being outside. Everything we did that weekend was under the sun and the weekend weather was perfect. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, Sharky’s and played at the playground near the beach. Brayden had so fun going up and down the slide. We also took him for a morning walk and spent the day at the beach.I think his favorite part though was walking up and down our street. He is at the age where he wants to show his independence and he was so cute toddling up and down the street. Brayden also loved when Uncle Chad fed him lots of Sour Cream and Onion chips (sorry Kelly.) Brayden’s face was priceless after all the chips.

Prince George has nothing on this baby's cuteness!

Prince George has nothing on this baby’s cuteness!

Our next visitors were Chad’s sister, brother-in-law and their three kids. I was about to be in panic attack mode again but the kids were well-behaved and we had great in-law bonding time. An added bonus of having kids in the house is access to all the snacks that I normally wouldn’t keep in our pantry. We had Capri Sun, goldfish galore and Eggo Waffles. Chad was in heaven. We took the kids to the beach, arcade, did boat rides and had a cookout at the house. All three are water babies and they loved the ocean. Seeing the three kids together reminded me of summer memories with my brother and sister at Virginia Beach. Those beach days with my siblings are some of my favorite childhood memories and I loved seeing the kids make the same memories together.

Water babies!

Water babies!

My highlight of the weekend though was watching The Walking Dead with my nephews and niece. Uncle Chad is usually much cooler than me in all things but The Walking Dead is the one thing I have over him. Apparently, all three kids love watching the show before bedtime and myself being a zombie enthusiast was thrilled to watch it with them every night. I knew all the characters and their story-lines so the kids and I chatted about the show the nonstop. Chad has never watched the show and thinks its strange so he was out of the loop. Aunt Danielle: 1 Uncle Chad: 0.

Next up was my Florida bridal sister, Chelcie and her husband Justin. Justin is one of Chad’s childhood friends and he ended up marrying a Florida transplant like myself. We took them on an OIB tour extravaganza including stops at Pelican’s Perch, The Isles, Sharky’s and Ocean Isle Fishing Company. After a day of drinking at the beach and crashing dinner at our friend’s parent’s beach condo, the boys decided that we should go to Chubby Buddha’s…the local airport bar. The place is full of character but a perk of Chubby Buddha’s is they fill up large glasses of wine in plastic cups. Give me a large plastic glass of wine and I’m as happy as a clam at high tide. Well after a few hours of hanging with the locals, it was time for an extra-large pizza and straight home to hang out on the front porch rocking chairs. Chelcie, I promise your next trip to OIB, will be more classy… well maybe not.

Florida girls!

Florida girls!

Fourth of July weekend was our biggest weekend yet with visitors. We had THREE couples visit us that weekend including two of my sorority sisters, Ali and Brittany, and their husbands, Dave and Danny, and Chad’s college roommate, Jason, and his wife,  Amanda. Being the hostess with the mostess, I had a full agenda planned.

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The first night we celebrated Dave’s birthday at The Isles. The next morning the boys went golfing and I took the girls to Wilmington for a shopping trip. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a shopping trip and lunch with girlfriends and I really enjoyed it. We met up with the boys for a trip to Silver Coast Winery. The winery is one of my top three favorite spots in OIB. They have fantastic tastings, cheese plates and live music. Chad says if we had gotten married in North Carolina, the wedding would be at the winery because he loves the venue and atmosphere.

Crew at the winery

Crew at the winery

That evening our friends Meredith and Ryan came down from Wilmington for dinner at Pogie’s. Meredith is another Florida transplant for a North Carolina boy. It must be something about that Southern Charm that does it for us Florida girls. The restaurant has one of the best views on the island and you can watch the sunset on the deck. We also watched the fireworks from the restaurant. Day three was spent at the beach and thankfully we had no encounters with Jaws. We finished off the day with a big cookout and sparklers.

Old Friends and New Friends

While it’s been a busy month, we’ve loved having friends and family visit. Visitors make Chad and I appreciate where we live and it gets us of out of the house to try new activities and restaurants.We don’t know when in life we will ever have a little beach cottage by the water so we want to make the most of it with all the people we love. So who is coming to visit us next?