Friday, May 27, 2016

Have You Heard? // Cage the Elephant - "Mess Around"

Happy Friday friends!

While Cage the Elephant (or Cage as they are often shortened to) is not one of my favorite bands, I really appreciate how many different sounds they can pull off. Their music is so diverse.

While some of their styles are not my favorite, I really love this song.

What do you think?

Any fun plans this weekend?!



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Snapshots of Florida's "Treasure Coast" // July 2015

Happy Wednesday friends! It's been a busy week for me, but I am helping out at a conference for work, and I'm loving a break from the screen time at my desk! So that makes me a very happy camper!

Back to the Florida Posts!

While we were in Florida we also visited the Atlantic Coast. KC's family + my SIL's boyfriend Jacob all went to Universal/Harry Potter World. While KC and I were *almost* swayed by Harry Potter World alone... we decided to skip the heat, the lines, and the rides and take a mini road trip to the Atlantic coast. We drove out to the "treasure coast" and visited an interesting museum. 

Though we didn't do much here it was nice to get away a little together during this trip. The sandwiches were good, the treasure museum was really fun and informative. I don't really think about real-life treasure hunters often, but what a cool profession! 

It was fun to watch the video at the museum and learn about the ship wrecks and the treasure off this coast of Florida. It was also neat to see the treasure that has been found. Lots of jewelry, weapons, and pottery especially. KC obviously enjoyed the "pirate ship" ;).

We stopped at a bird watching area. I mostly just wanted to see more water birds, but the road was gravel and there were SO many bugs. We made it out, and we didn't have a lot of time, so I thought let's just walk down this path really quickly.... I did not enjoy the snake that appeared in our path we decided to take to see the birds! haha Also, the size of the spiders here was INSANE.

Also, those Florida tolls are crazy! I think we paid $8 to drive a few hours! 

Eat: Dagwood's Sandwiches in Vero Beach. Seriously these sandwiches take up entire full sized to-go boxes. We did not know they would be SO huge. They were really good though! Plus the people were really nice there!

See: The coast, the treasure at the McLarty Treasure Museum, the insanely wealthy area of Florida. It's kind of hard to look at guys. Like the OC on steroids. : / 

Shop: We didn't shop here, other than a souvenir or two from the Museum's gift shop. We got my baby sis OE some replica treasure coins.

Do: The McLarty Treasure Museum and make sure to watch the video. Seeing all of the treasure is cool, and walking out on their deck to the "pirate ship" is fun, and a great view of the water/beach. Walk around the parks and spot wildlife. Try not to run into snakes or gigantic spiders, unless you're into that type of thing. I believe there is also a sea turtle rescue center you can visit here, but we didn't have time. There are also other treasure museums along the way. I really liked the one we went to though because it was clearly a small project, and not something flashy. It was very authentic and I felt like I learned a lot. Definitely worth the tiny admission. I felt like I was supporting people who were passionate about the Treasure Coast and sharing that information with others. 

Favorites: Taking a little time just the two of us on a family trip. '90's stations on the Satellite radio in our rental car. Seeing the Atlantic coast from Florida. I really enjoyed the museum!

New Experiences: Atlantic coast beaches. Possibly the hugest sandwich I've ever had?! So many bugs! So so many bugs! Seeing real life treasure.

Random Tip: Wear real shoes. If you want to walk through the parks and see the wildlife there are bugs and snakes, etc. everywhere. I recommend closed toed shoes and whatever cover you want to keep the bugs off!

I think that this area and museum would be really fun for kids who are interested in pirates and old enough to be interested in learning a little more.

Anybody else been to a small or quirky museum?? Or seen real life treasure?

Have you ever dreamed of finding a treasure as a kid?!

Upcoming Florida Posts: Orlando/Winter Park.

Anyone taking a trip soon?!

Happy Travels! 


Monday, May 23, 2016

Fiesta! // Celebrate

My sister Jess was born on Cinco de Mayo twenty-three years ago! On her birthday we went out to dinner, we went shopping, got coffees etc. it was a blast. However, she wanted to do something fun with a group, so we planned a game night. I couldn't think of a better theme for a potluck game night than a fiesta!


We picked up mini pinatas at Target, and a large Taco shaped one as well. We also picked up a small cake topper that had little paper fringe-pom poms on it. So cute!


KC and I made Pioneer Woman's Mexican rice, a fantastic (EASY!) crockpot chicken taco filling, and provided taco bar toppings for everyone. We had friends bring chips, guacamole, pico, salsa, queso, etc. We also made a batch of Mexican Crinkles, a from scratch funfetti birthday cake, and several kinds of margaritas.


Taco Bar
     -chicken taco filling (I need to share this recipe soon!)
     -taco and soft taco shells
     -black refried beans
     -shredded cheddar cheese
     -sour cream
     -hot sauce
Pioneer Woman's Mexican Rice
Mexican Crinkle Cookies (I need to share this recipe soon!)
Funfetti Cake (via Cake Magic book I reviewed!)
Traditional Margaritas
Blue Margaritas
Corona w/ lime


We had an absolutely huge group this time. Usually we invite about 9 people... and end up with about 6. But this time we had 12! It was crazy! So we ended up playing more group type games, after all there are not a ton of games that suit so many players.


Wits and Wagers also would have worked for a group this size, but we didn't play it.


Most of our friends are not super into taking a lot of photos... but I pulled out a sombrero that I thrifted at Goodwill, and a mini sombrero that I picked up at a garage sale. You could easily have a photo booth and use the pinatas and sombreros as props. Any sort of colorful backdrop would do! My sister and I took a few photos with them, but overall they functioned as decor!

We had a great time, and I hope that everyone else did too. The taco bar was a great idea for a lot of people because the chicken cooked all day, and the other items pretty much just come out of the fridge! SO EASY! Plus, who doesn't love tacos?!?!?!

I may have to re-do this party someday to try to get some more detailed pictures, but you guys get the idea! ;)

Have you guys ever had a fiesta? Or a themed party?

What is your go-to food to make for a crowd?



Friday, May 20, 2016

Have You Heard? // Ellie Goulding - "Keep on Dancing"

When we saw Ellie Goulding on SNL back in 2011. I remember thinking she has such a cool voice, I definitely need to hear more of her music. I downloaded her first album Lights and I could instantly listen to it on repeat for days. I still love it.

Her second album Halcyon had a harder rock sound, and it was a little more emotional... but it grew on me, and now it has a solid place in my music library. We very nearly went to see her in concert at this small theater in St. Louis... in 2013, but we didn't. I've kind of been kicking myself since then... It was a little last minute, and winter... and I wasn't sure it was a good idea. "Who IS this person?!?!" you might be asking yourself. Answer: I don't know who she was.

Ellie released additional singles, and tracks to go with the first two albums before releasing her newest one Delirium last November. I was initially kind of thrown off by her new sound. It definitely took a handful of listens for me to LOVE it. Being a songwriter-y Ellie fan this dance-pop-rap sound wasn't what I was hoping for. All in all, I like the album quite a bit now. It's still not my favorite one, but it's great for making it through a work day or getting pumped up about anything.

There are a lot of really great tracks on this here, but my favorite is "Keep on Dancing". I get the whistling chorus stuck in my head all of the time. I'm in line at Target just grooving like a crazy person.... Have you heard it? What do you think?

We finally got to see her in concert this week. It was SO cold, and I was having a very hectic week (couldn't turn my head to the left for a full 4 days due to stress - kind of week), and I almost said we should stay home. But I'm very glad we didn't.

The concert was great, she played a few older songs, but mostly stuck to her pop singles (ala Calvin Harris). I always cringe just a little OK a lot... when people freak out over the singles... but it was still such a good show and I majorly needed a night off. So it was hard to be too music snobby. :P

I'm glad we finally got to see her live. I'm also glad she played a few tracks from Halcyon! "Figure 8", "Explosions", and "My Blood" (my favorite!) were GREAT! If ever she plays a small show again... I'm going to try to be there!

And that my friends, is why you do not say no to concert tickets.


Anyone dancing at their desk?! :)



P.S. Some of my favorite Ellie songs are on soundtracks! Like Divergent, Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, Catching Fire. Other favorites are her covers! She does a great versions of Alt-J's "Tessellate", Elton John's "Your Song", and Active Child's "Hanging On".

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Favorite Books of 2015 // Bookworm

I think about books a lot, and when I read one that is just AMAZING, I tend to note it. It occurred to me recently that I never shared my favorite books of 2015...! 

Granted, I started reading intently in July... so there isn't a HUGE pool... but I thought I would share it now!

Here are my top 5 books from 2015! (in order I read them, they are not ranked)

1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I downloaded this from our online library, and I'm so glad that I did! I just tore through it on the plane to Alaska. The book is about two young magicians who are involved in a competition. I can't say much more, as I think the mystery is a big part of reading it and enjoying it. :) Also, don't think circus-y circus. It's more of a magical and atmospheric take on the idea of a circus. Though I would have liked a little more background on all of the magical details, I would definitely recommend it if you like YA and fantasy! - KC started reading this when I was done, and could barely put it down. He would stay up super late trying to get further into it each night. I have since recommended it to at least 5 other people!

2) Hector and The Search for Happiness by François Lelord

This book is from Plucky's book club Plucky Reads
It is very short, and written in a very simple way, which I really loved. It follows a psychiatrist named Hector, who is treating many patients who are unhappy, but do not know why they are unhappy. So he decides to travel around the world in search of happiness. He meets many interesting people along the way and compiles a list of what happiness is and is not. It was easy to read and a hopeful book. I appreciated how even when Hector was in difficult situations, the book was not depressing. It was more focused on the big picture, on gratefulness in struggle, and moving toward happiness. Something that I found lacking in other books I read in 2015. This has also been made into a movie, and I can't wait to watch it. :)

3) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison  

I started reading this book, and immediately fell in love with Don Tillman and the way the story is told. It is quick, it's fun, and it's hilarious. Picture Don as a mix between Sheldon Cooper, Hector (from Hector and the Search for Happiness), and Harold Crick (Will Farrell's character in Stranger than Fiction). He is an extremely calculated and intelligent geneticist. He decides that having a life partner would enhance his life, but he knows he isn't interested in smokers or picky ice cream eaters, so he devises a very logical questionnaire to rule out the undesirables, thus calling it "The Wife Project". Along the way he meets Rosie, a woman who is not at all a desirable life partner, but she does need help finding her biological father. Being a geneticist, Don offers to help and his world is turned upside down. I told KC how good this was. He read it in less than 24 hours. Might I just say, this man is not a huge reader (normally). He did however, read at least 10 books in 2015. :) He loved this one too. Highly recommend!

4) Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I have seen this book all over Pinterest and now goodreads for quite a while.... but once I started hearing what people thought of it, I knew that I needed to read it soon! I got it an e-reader copy from the library, and I read it in just two evenings. I could not put it down! The story takes place in regency England (think Austen time period) and centers around Marianne, a young woman whose mother has recently died, and consequently her father has gone to France. Marianne is stuck in Bath with her grandmother and a tiresome suitor (the description on this guy... visible cringing and squirming on my part!), while her older twin sister is in London being introduced into society. When she gets an invitation to visit her sister and her friends at an estate in the country Marianne gladly accepts. In turn her grandmother vows to give Marianne her inheritance, provided she can become a proper young lady during her visit. On the carriage ride over, a terrifying encounter has her coach stopping at an inn where Marianne meets a mysterious and arrogant stranger. Though he may not be as arrogant as he seems... he's interesting mix of Mr. Darcy & Mr. Wickham. I'm not Austen obsessed, and I haven't really read any other regency set pieces... but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Go get it, now! :)

5) The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help has been out, and popular, for quite a few years now. I finally picked it up at a thrift store in 2015. I figured if I was going to read something for the reading challenge category, "Kickass Females," this would be a great one right? Well, it is. I love historical fiction, and I LOVE this book! The story follows two African American maids (Aibileen and Minny), and one young wealthy white woman (Eugenia) set in 1960's Mississippi. The book is written from the perspective of each of the three women, and follows them as they plan to expose the truth about being a maid in white households via the interviews and stories of maids in the community. Eugenia records, edits, and sends the stories away in hopes of publishing them, and sparking change. For some reason, I especially love reading books that take place during the civil rights movement. This one was no exception, and it really opened my eyes to a world that I hadn't explored in detail before. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about American history a little more, or to anyone who enjoys a well spun piece of historical based fiction. This book is really wonderful, it left me feeling both wrecked and hopeful. That's writing talent.

BONUS: A Christmas Memory was the longest short story I read by Truman Capote, and it was my favorite. It is about a young boy and his "friend," an elderly cousin. Every year the two have a tradition of making fruit cakes for their friends and family, but they don't have any money. It's a lovely story of friendship, resourcefulness, and quirky characters. As the story progresses you notice that something is off, and then it becomes somewhat sad. But I loved the story, and I loved the characters. I would highly recommend this one!!

What were your favorite books you read last year?

Have you read any of these?

Thank you for reading friends!!



Monday, May 16, 2016

Snapshots of Clearwater & Clearwater Beach, FL // July 2015

Hello friends! Spring is in full swing here, and I am loving it! :)

Here we have another Florida post! We stayed in Clearwater Beach for the entire trip, and it was a convenient spot that made it easy to get to all the cute little towns we visited. (Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg, & Tampa). Since we did visit other towns, you will note that a lot of these pictures are food! ahha We ended up back here for dinner each night!


Great: Pearly's Beach Eats & Wildflower Cafe. (I took pictures of pretty much all of the food here... because it was beautiful and delicious. I got to try a lot of it too... because my family is good at sharing! :) ) Wildflower may legitimately be one of the best breakfasts I've ever had on a trip!)
Good: Clearsky Breakfast Cafe, Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, Westshore Pizza and Cheesesteaks, 
Not a Fan: Crabby Bill's.

Drink: We are not big drinkers or night life people... but we did pick up a bottle of strawberry wine from Keel and Curley winery (local to this area) at the grocery store! It was delicious! We added a bit of sprite for some fizz. I just had to try strawberry wine after that Deena Carter song... 

See: The beach, the pier, touristy things. My SIL and her BF went to the aquarium because they wanted to see Winter from A Dolphin's Tale, so make sure to do that if you are into the movie or dolphins!

Shop: There are a lot of touristy shops here. I am not a fan of those, but they did have one GREAT store called, "Freaky Tiki." They had some really cute clothes etc. I got a few of their designs that were screen printed on tank tops. Mermaid shirts for the win! They also have a downtown Clearwater, that I think would have been cool, but we did not get a chance to go.

Do: Visit the beach, shop, go to the aquarium and pier. We got a caricature at the pier. :) 

Favorites: The sunsets, evenings at the beach, Pearly's and The Wildflower Cafe!

New Experiences: It was my first time being IN the ocean! Can you believe that?! It was amazing. Also my first time trying Grouper, strawberrry wine, and seeing water fowl up close. AND chocolate covered Key Lime Pie. Nom. :) 

Random Tip: It WILL rain. So, plan some things that can be done inside. Do your best to coordinate indoor plans around the strange Florida scheduling. #thestruggleisreal Be ready to run out of the water/beach with all of your stuff when the downpour starts.

Anybody else who hadn't been to the ocean until they were an adult? - just me? ok.. :P

Have you been to Clearwater Beach?

Anyone catch KC's Zach Braff impersonation? Gotta love Garden State!

Upcoming Florida Posts: Orlando/Winter Park, and "The Treasure Coast."

Happy Travels!