10/20/16

Winn Dixie Hyde Park- A foodie’s dream! (And a Giftcard GIVEAWAY!)

Disclosure: As part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I have partnered with Winn-Dixie to help promote the Re-Grand Opening of the Hyde Park location in exchange for a gift card. All opinions are my own.

I’m a self-proclaimed grocery store fangirl.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as moseying around a market, coffee cup in hand, taking in the sights, sounds and scents of a good store. 

It makes my heart go pitter-patter.  Continue reading

11/24/15

Shop #SmallBusinessSaturday at Hyde Park Village in #Tampa!

I’ve never been a fan of Black Friday.
In fact, once I went (against my better judgement) to a big box store at their midnight opening and saw people getting into a brawl over 50 cent socks. 

Socks. 
Come on now. 

Since then I’ve politely declined any invitations to jump on the Black Friday bandwagon and stick to participating in something MUCH more my pace: Small Business Saturday!  Continue reading

09/28/15

2015 Kia Sedona SXL review!

Last week I had an opportunity to review a 2015 Kia Sedona as part of the blogger outreach program through DriveShop USA

Our family owned  two “mini-vans” when I was a kid. Our first was a maroon beast with no a/c vents in the back, so we had attached one of those portable fans in between the driver and passenger seat so that the people (us children) sitting in the back would get some type of circulation to prevent us from roasting in the Florida heat. When my parents started talking about trading in the van for something else, I remember being completely ecstatic! Continue reading

09/11/15

Four (fore!) reasons why you must visit ¡Cuatro!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend an amazing event at ¡Cuatro Restaurant and Bar located on picturesque TPC golf course in Lutz, Fl along with other members of the Tampa Bay Bloggers community. The evening was filled with delicious hand-crafted cocktails, delectable dishes- straight from the ¡Cuatro menu, friends, music, and gorgeous views along the 18th green.  Continue reading

12/17/14

Our weekend getaway to Blairsville, GA

Last week was FABULOUS.

1488679_628562840599773_8688649441795156692_nA few months ago a group of my nearest and dearest got together and planned a long weekend trip up in the North Georgia mountains. Back in 2004 my mom and I were looking for a place to go camping during our winter school break (both my parents worked for the school system, so we always had the same time off!). I can vividly remember sitting at the kitchen counter at my parent’s house scanning a map of the southeastern United States looking for a place that would be a) A day’s worth of driving distance and b) A change of scenery from our regular beachy Florida views. 

We ended up putting our finger smack on a city called Blairsville; in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia. After a quick Google search we learned that this town was only an 8 hour ride from Tampa, boasted beautiful views, wasn’t commercialized and “touristy” like other mountain towns (i.e. what Pigeon Forge has become) and was home to Brasstown Bald Mountain- the highest peak in Georgia.

SOLD. So much that we’ve returned almost every year since. 

When my mom passed away, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to return to the area, but in 2012, Brian and I did just that. And it was an amazing time, especially being able to visit spots I had visited with my mom just years earlier. We didn’t make it out there in 2013, but knew we would not miss another year. 

This past September I began searching for the perfect cabin for a long weekend getaway with friends. I wanted to find a cabin with mountain views, one that was dog friendly (one of my girlfriends was bringing her pup), close to all of our favorite places and restaurants, and one that had lots of room to stretch and play- both indoors and out. I started searching Craigslist rentals of Northeast Georgia, then moved on to looking through Vacation Rentals By Owner (vrbo.com). There wasn’t much listed on Craigslist, but as soon as I began scouring VRBO, I knew I would be booking something that day. There are SO many beautiful cabins for rent in the area, but just 1 caught my eye. 

IMG_1528

This lovely cabin checked off all of our boxes AND came complete with breathtaking views of Brasstown Bald and other surrounding mountains. When I contacted the owner she informed me that it was available for the days we were looking at. So we promptly sent in our deposit and locked in the dates! Throughout the next few months we made our plans, solidified check-in procedures with the oh-so-accomodating (and patient!) owners and built up a LOT of excitement! 

After waiting, and waiting, and waiting, the weekend had FINALLY arrived! We packed up all of the necessary items we’d need for a (COLD!) four days in the mountains and hit the road. We arrived early on Wednesday morning and were just blown away by the incredible views of the sunrise as we walked in the house. 

IMG_1440

IMG_1441And while the views were my favorite part of the house, the rest of the cabin did not disappoint! Between the comfortable beds, a kitchen with all the essentials, spotless accommodations, fireplaces, wrap around porches, wi-fi and so many other comforts of home, we were on cloud 9!

IMG_1445

IMG_1464

IMG_1456

IMG_1446

IMG_1624

IMG_1551

IMG_1530

IMG_1513

IMG_1455

IMG_1458We spent the next four days relaxing, hiking, sight seeing, eating (biscuits and gravy!), stargazing, roasting marshmallows by the fire, enjoying the cold weather (and ice and snow!) connecting and just being in the moment. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. 

IMG_1660

IMG_1812

IMG_1640

IMG_1826

IMG_1492

IMG_1483

IMG_1678

IMG_1860

IMG_1764

IMG_1604

And I may or may not have spent a bit *too* much time in these 2 positions:

IMG_1556

IMG_1533When I read the reviews for the cabin, and was thumbing through the guestbook at the house, everyone mentioned how lovely it was to watch the deer eat in the backyard. And after 3 not-so-patient days of feeding, using deer calling apps, and having binoculars on my face way more often than I would have liked to, we FINALLY saw deer on Saturday morning, which I may or may not have scared away from my cries of excitement. 

IMG_1768And on that same day, before we prepared to pack up and head south, we ended our vacation by chopping down our third Christmas tree together at a local tree farm just down the road. 

IMG_1828

IMG_1834

IMG_1830

IMG_1836

IMG_1841

IMG_1844

We were sad to say our goodbyes, but excited to get back home to hug our cats and decorate our fresh mountain tree. 

IMG_1882

We had such a fun time and would recommend visiting Blairsville if you’re looking for a wonderful and relaxing getaway. If you’d like to rent this cabin, click here for more details. The owners, Mike and Jaynee, will answer all of your questions and help to make sure you have the time of your lives! 

And while you’re planning your trip to the North Georgia Mountains and Blairsville, keep these places in mind!

Helton Creek Falls (just a short hike from the road!)

Desoto Falls (1.50 miles round trip to see the upper falls; .50 miles round trip to see the lower falls- both easy hikes)

Vogel State Park (camping, wildlife, holiday events, horseback riding)

Trackrock Stables and Campground (camping, wildlife, hiking, horseback riding)

The Sawmill Place (Farm to table, best biscuits and gravy in town!)

Dan’s Grill (Great Cuban food from Miami transplants)

Jim’s BBQ (only open Th-Sat- great bbq!)

Alexander’s (Blairsville’s “mall”) 😉

Muffy’s (quick bites, sandwiches, burgers and more)

Brasstown Bald Mountain (highest peak in Georgia, gorgeous views, hiking, geocaching)

Pappy’s Trading Post (shops, tubing, fudge, restaurant, outdoor fireplace, riverside)

Sunrise Grocery (local treats, gas, fresh eggs)

Logan’s Turnpike Mill (freshly ground grits, pancake mix, jams, jellies, baked goods)

Hiawassee Antique Mall (just a short drive from Blairsville- HUGE!)

Victoria’s Mall (antiques, hobby shop, thrift store, coffee shop)

Cook’s Country Kitchen (cheap and great breakfast!)

Historic Courthouse (museum, beautifully decorated around Christmas)

Sundance Gallery (unique gifts, art, local crafts, pottery, decor)

Southern Tree Plantation (chop your own Christmas tree, hayrides, petting farm, pumpkins in the fall)

Anna Ruby Falls (just a short drive from Blairsville in Helen)

08/10/14

Key West Inspiration

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow I will have my alarm set bright and early for the start of another exciting school year! 

And although this summer has been BUSY, to say the least, there were some fun moments sprinkled in between trainings, leadership retreats and back to school planning meetings. 

There was that little getaway my gentleman and I took back in June. 

Birthday and 3rd anniversary adventures

Lots of trips to the beach and the pool. 

And just last week, we drove down to the Florida Keys for our annual Key West lobstering trip! Continue reading

06/29/14

The big 3-5!

It’s Official!
I’m 35!

35 has ALWAYS been my “scary” year. There’s just something about “35” that makes you feel all grown up. And while I’m definitely not in a place I thought I would be as I enter my 35th year of life, it turns out that where I am now is so much better than I could ever have imagined. I’m happy, healthy, strong, educated and loved. What more could I possibly ask for? Continue reading