Monday, July 21, 2014

Destin Vacation, First Night & Second Day

Are you ready for a beachy recap of our Destin trip? I really can't believe we've been there and are now at home. The kids haven't been to the beach in a really long time, I don't think they really remembered it. Autumn was one and Nathan was 3.5 when we went to Gulf Shores last. I thought the ages the kids were at now (Nathan is 8 and Autumn is 5) were perfect for a beach trip. Autumn may sort of remember this beach trip, but Nathan will definitely remember it. They both are out of SWIM DIAPERS (YAY!) and Nathan can even swim now... so, it was just an AWESOME time and age for them to hit the beach! Nathan loved the ocean and the waves, but Autumn preferred the pool unless she could find another girl her age to play with on the beach. Autumn is our little social butterfly, she made so many friends at the hotel!

On our way to Destin, Florida selfies!! Driving 5.2 hrs today and 6.2 hrs tomorrow! Hope kiddos are good so Momma stays sane!! ☀️⚓️

The first day we drove 5.2 hours and stopped in Tupelo, MS and stayed at the Best Western Plus. I selected this hotel, because it offered a free hot breakfast, snack night cap hour and it has a really nice indoor heated pool. I know a lot of people drive to Destin from St. Louis in ONE big trip... and, maybe we will do that sometime... but, for now we prefer to break it up into two driving days for our own sanity.

We are in Tupelo, MI for the night then plan to drive 6 hrs to Destin tomorrow. To kill time we are at Chuckie Sneeze... Kids love it and we can rest after hours in the car today. Plus, have you ever seen a bigger horse? They had to take stairs up a flight
We arrived in Tupelo, MS around 3:30pm and had some time to kill... since the kids had been cooped up in the car for so long, we decided to take them to Chuckie Cheese! It was perfect and I even found a coupon on my phone for our pizza, drinks and tokens.

On our second day of driving we had 6.45 hours of driving... but, it turned out to be over 8 hours of driving, because we hit MAJOR congestion on the highway the last 3 hours. The last 3 hours were STOP AND GO all the way from Birmingham, AL to Destin, FL... Why? Because EVERYONE and their brother was headed to Destin! We were driving on a Saturday afternoon and I think it was the peak time... we had left at 8 a.m. that morning, too! SO, we drove from 8 a.m. until almost 6 p.m. that day... with one stop at McDonalds for lunch. I don't remember there ever being that much traffic when we went to Gulf Shores, but maybe Destin is more crowded... or we just hit a peak time, I am not sure. Anyway, once we arrived to our hotel and we saw the view from our balcony, all of the stressful driving was ALLLLL WORTH IT!

We decided to stay at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort & Spa (click HERE to visit their website). If you are planning a trip to Destin, you must stay here! This resort will pamper you the entire week! We enjoyed valet parking and free internet and a hot breakfast buffet every morning with their Family Fun Package. You don't need to pack beach towels, they give you unlimited beach towels for the pool and beach, they have two HUGE pools, two hot tubs and an indoor pool. They offer umbrellas and chairs on the beach for a nominal cost, there is a bar and two restaurants by the pools... so you can dine and/or drink while your kids swim in your view. There is a full service spa inside the hotel,  a morning and evening kids camp (Kids Krew) where the kids get lunch or dinner, face painting, etc. with different themes everyday (which allows Mommy & Daddy to be able to get dressed up and have a grownup night at the AAA restaurant called Seagar's Prime Steaks and Seafood), the hotel even made up a cheese, sausage and fruit tray for us one night after the kids were in bed when they didn't even offer it on their menu! The balcony in our room was HUGE with chairs and a table. There is a trail outside that you can jog on in the evening or even take bicycles out on. It was just a FANTASTIC place to stay! They even came and got our luggage and loaded our car back up for US when we left! If you plan to stay here, please let them know that Carrie from Curly Crafty Mom sent you as they are a blogger friendly hotel!

Let's get this party started!! #beach #destin #proudmomma
As soon as we got all unpacked, we decided to head down to take a peak at the beach. Here was a quick shot Nathan took of me and the kids. Don't we all look excited?!

Two VERY excited kids

Our first beachy drinks
After taking a peak at the beach, we decided to try out Barefoot, a restaurant next to the pool. Brian and I ordered some beachy cocktails while we waited for our food to come.

My big fish!!
The kids went swimming while we waited for the food.

The food I ordered from Barefoot was REALLY good! I got breaded shrimp, corn on the cob and a bowl of fruit... plus a huge slice of watermelon! YUM! We got corn on the cob at a lot of the restaurants over the week and I would always be a nice Mommy and give Autumn my corn... she loves corn on the cob!


After we ate, we noticed a wedding going on at the beach and they had the sunset deck set up for the reception. I think it would be so, so romantic to get married at the beach... but, there is no way I could get my family and friends to travel for it... well, and I am already married :)

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The first night on the beach, we didn't do much... the kids were just SO excited to see the beach for the first time, you can sort of tell how excited they were in these photos... they would run this way or that, play in the sand, the water, etc. They really didn't know what to do first or what to think of it!

Night-time view of our hotel

The sun setting over the beach is one of the most beautiful and peaceful moments of the day

I love the coloring of this photo where Nathan is observing the water

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And, of course this happened. I wanted to make Autumn into a mermaid, but she wouldn't stay still long enough for it.

Then we went to bed... and, the next morning we got up and did the beach for the ENTIRE day. Oh, and we got a little crispy/burned, too! Especially ME, because I forgot to lather my belly with sunscreen! UGHHH! Here is Autumn, I wrote her name in front of her and she is posing next to it.

Aut-by-her-name Autumn-Name
But, that wasn't good enough for Autumn... she wanted to write her OWN name in the sand and pose by it, so that's what we did next!

My afternoon view... Life is good alright!
On that first day on the beach, we paid for our own umbrella and chair beach set up. Uh, yeah... what a waste... if it had been just me and Brian, we would have totally used it. BUT, with two kids that just want to play in the ocean and build sand castles in the sun? Well, it is just not worth it. At least it gave me somewhere to stow my bag!

There were a lot of umbrellas on the beach, we were the second one back from the front of the beach. We told Nathan to rinse out his goggles when we were getting ready to leave and he never came back... Brian and I got a little worried that he went in the ocean to play and forgot to come back... Nathan is pretty good about doing what he is told, but we know how tempting the ocean was to him and how much he liked it. So, Brian went to look for Nathan along the ocean and I stayed with Autumn at our umbrella and I started to look around for him. After 5 minutes had gone by, I was starting to get really worried... and wondering what we were going to do if we couldn't find him. Luckily, I caught site of him about 7 umbrellas over and he looked upset... it turned out that he got confused and couldn't find our umbrella, because they all looked the same! I was just really thankful we found him and then we went to look for Brian to tell him we had found Nathan. After that, one of us would go with one of the kids even if it was just going 12 feet over to the water... it was just a little too crowded during midday and it was just best not to take a chance of one of them getting turned around again. We also explained to them where the hotel was on the beach and what our room number was if they were to get lost again.

Now, some photos of the kids on the beach. Here is Autumn enjoying the waves... isn't the water just beautiful and so clear?!

Aut-Run-From-Waves-2 Aut-Running-from-Wave
Autumn running from waves... she would get mad at the waves if they 'caught' her and call them 'Daddy Long Legs'. lol! I am not sure where she got that from?!

Autumn's little feet in the sand... I didn't realize this when I got home, but I didn't get any photos of Nathan's feet in the sand... :(

Autumn's favorite thing to do on the beach was to sit on the sand and let the waves roll over her... she would love it even more if I would sit and do this with her.

Nathan found his first seashell on the beach... there aren't many seashells at Destin

Me and my big boy!

I didn't really have to worry about Nathan getting sunburned on his face, he wore this swim mask the ENTIRE time we were at the beach... or the pool! He loved looking under water!

Brian enjoying the beach!

Someone parasailing on the beach... Brian and Nathan were going to parasail while we were there, but it got canceled twice. The first time it was from rain and the second time they were on the boat, ready to go up and they canceled it, because the wind was too hard. Nathan did fly up about a foot off the boat for a second, so he enjoyed that.

Splash_With-Nat Beautiful-Wave-1
Just some generic shots I took of the beach

After the beach, we decided to head to a total tourist trap called Fudpucker's to feed the live alligators and enjoy some delicious seafood.

I can't believe the kids held this thing!! #tourtisttrap #butwasfun #foodwasgoodtoo
AND, at Fudpucker's... THIS happened. I was really shocked that Autumn wanted to touch... well, even more then that, she HELD the alligator! Yikes...

Here the kids are waiting to feed the alligators...

I mean, really... wouldn't you want to feed this sweet thing?

Feeding the alligators was kinda gross... So, I let Brian help the kids... You got these turd like looking pellets and you stuck them on the hook. Which, sure... that is fine... but, then after the alligator eats the turd food, you have to touch the hook that was IN the alligators mouth (EW!) and put a new turd piece of food on. The hook was all wet, too... um, NO thanks. So glad that Brian helped out with this one.

You can tell Autumn just really enjoyed feeding the alligators in this photo.

This is the only shot I got of us at the dinner table... I usually take a photo of my meal, but... wow, I didn't. I must have been really hungry. Autumn got this cute pink alligator and she holds it just like how they told her how to hold the alligator when they got their photo taken.

Goodnight Destin! You're so beautiful!
And, that wraps up the First Night and Second day of our trip to Destin! I am hoping to get Day Three up tomorrow... wish me luck, SO many photos to go through!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Curly Crafty Mom's Meal Plan, Week 22

We are recovering from a week at the beach... With two vacations almost back to back, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do at home... I need to figure out the kids fall sports/activities, laundry needs to be done... I did get Aut's uniform clothing ordered (thanks, ON online uniform sale!)... 

And, did we take the beach home with us? because, there is sand and little seashells all over the place! I need to catch up on cleaning, restocking the fridge... my pedi is looking sad and I am over a WEEK behind on my group book bible study... I need to go through all of our vacation photos, too...

That is just a handful of the things I am behind on... And, school starts in exactly one month, say what?!! No, I am not ready for school to start back up... I think the homework and overload of schedules is what I am dreading for next month. Also, I will be turning another year older (yuck) and half marathon training starts back up next month, too (should I be excited about half training? well, I'm not feeling it.. hurm.). Which, I guess I could add I haven't worked out in over a week and the scale shows it. :(

BUT.... you know what? We had an awesome, awesome time in Destin and we had some wonderful memories that were made! The weather was awesome, we only had one morning where it rained... Brian and Nathan got to go zip lining for the first time! I found the biggest seashell (mollusk) ever on the beach... The kids got to hold a crocodile... Autumn even found an imitation American Girl store at Baytowne Wharf! The ocean was amazing... our hotel, OH my... it was HUGE, not what I was expecting (as in valet parking, beach drinks right at the pool, a hot breakfast buffet every morning, kids camp, beach towels provided, etc.)... wow, if you are ever headed to Destin, check out Hilton Sandestin, it will amaze you and pamper you. And, the SAND at Destin... oh my, it is just perfect beach sand, perfect for sandcastle building, etc. I have been to some Caribbean and Mexican beaches, and while I would say some of them are on my top beaches list, Destin is definitely the best Florida beach I have visited. I was a little surprised that there weren't a whole lot of seashells, but the quality of the sand was worth the lack of seashells... 

We loved this vacation SO much... we are considering going back next year! We do have Disney on our list for next summer, but Brian and I have been talking and we have been to Paris, Chicago and now NYC! We may do a kids free beach trip next summer! Big cities are nice, but we are ready to relax on a vacation together! We are thinking of doing this same exact trip or maybe checking out an area close to Destin that isn't as CROWDED... like Seaside, FL? or??? I have been to Gulf Shores twice and I really preferred Destin... so, I'd love to stay sort of in that area... Anyway, we have a awhile to think about it! And stay tuned for a vacation recap... and our professional BEACH PHOTOS!

Are you ready for the meal plan for this week?

Menu Plan for Week of July 20, 2014:

Sunday - Dinner out with my girlfriends
We are meeting up for some California Pizza Kitchen! Yum! I haven't been there in a long time, but I love their pasta and salad... don't get me wrong, their pizza is good, too! I really want to try this Thai crunch salad!

Monday - Gazpacho and Grilled CHEEEESE, click HERE for recipe

Gazpacho is my favorite summer soup and if you know me, I make this EVERY week that I can during the summer! It is OHHHH so good, especially with some warm grilled cheese.

Tuesday - Baked Oatmeal Casserole Recipe, click HERE for recipe

Baked Oatmeal Casserole.jpg
Tonya at Love of Family & Home always has the BEST recipes and she takes amazing photos of food. When I saw this recipe for a baked oatmeal casserole, I knew I wanted to add it to my meal plan! Since we do breakfast one day a week (most of the time), I thought this would be great to make for dinner one night and then we could eat the leftovers for breakfast throughout the rest of the week. Tonya says it is great warmed up AND cold! Brian doesn't like bananas, so I may omit the bananas on half of the casserole, just because I love him. :)

Wednesday - BLT's and Chips

I know, I know... I have this on our meal plan a lot, too... but, we are really digging BLT's right now... AND, well... it is such an easy dinner to whip up (especially when the kids keep me so busy during the day!!).

Thursday - Moonlight Paddleboat Picnic

Boarding for our moonlight paddleboat picnic.

Feeding Mr. Duckie some bread. awwwwwww.

Yep, you heard me right... we are having dinner on a paddleboat in the Grand Basin in Forest Park! This will be our fourth year doing this together, it is a summer tradition that we absolutely love to do together! Even better yet, they provide a bottle of wine for us on the boat! Don't be surprised if you see a photo from me on IG (click HERE if you don't already follow me on Instagram) stating, "I'M ON A BOAT!" If you're interested in doing a paddleboat sunset dinner, you can find the details on The Boat House website HERE. Be sure to tell them I sent you... :) Above you'll see two photos from last year, we even had a little duck that kept following us for hand outs. ;)

Friday - Tacos

If it was Thursday, I'd say it is TACO THURSDAY! But, it's not... so, well... whatever :)

Saturday - Frozen Pizza
Autumn has a birthday party and Brian and Nathan are going to go do something fun, so since we will be running around all day... I think a frozen pizza will be just fine for dinner. :)

Linked up with:
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Wives Wear Link Up #11 - What to Take to the Beach

Welcome to the
What Wives Wear Link UpWeek 11

Instead of sharing an outfit this week, I thought it'd be fun to share what I am wearing and taking to the beach on vacation! You'll be surprised that all of these fun items fit into my new ditty (large) Hayden Reis bag!


If you haven't seen Hayden Reis on the Today Show or seen them around on the beach... they are these amazing totes that are made in the USA from high quality Dacron sailcloth! Which means... it is  water/sand resistant, light weight and available in several vibrant colors. Who wants to ruin their Tory on the beach? ;)


Here is a detail shot. Isn't the stitching amazing?  I purchased the flamingo zipper tote, but I really wanted the lilac and gray zipper tote and the anchor zipper tote. There are just TOO many choices, it really is hard to decide... I kept changing my mind.


I also bought a water resistant flamingo wristlet to match my tote. I plan to put my phone, keys, lipgloss, etc. in here so that they don't get wet... or sandy!


What I love about this tote, is not just the size (25”W X 15”H X 8”D), but look at all of the pockets inside it! I have two towels rolled up in the bag, but I could easily fit two more towels in it... I have my straw hat, sunglasses, wristlet, etc., etc. This tote is optimal for storage and organization for any beach trip!


Enough about the Hayden Reis tote... As far as what I am wearing on the beach... I thought I'd splurge this year and get myself a couple new bikinis. I haven't purchased a new one for 5 years, so it was time! I looked at Nordstrom, Macys and Victoria's Secret. VS won and I bought two bikinis there that I fell in love with... both are completely different styles, too! I am in my thirties, so I am not really wanting to wear a 'string' bikini anymore, but I love how this bikini has leopard strings to tie around the back of my neck. I also love floral and neon this summer and as you can see... this suit has it all. :)


I also purchased this neon yellow and mint bikini from VS. I have been wanting a flounce bandeau and this one seemed to fit really nicely and once again... I satisfied my lust for neon (especially the yellowish green) and mint.

My cover up is pictured above, it is pale pink and has a stretchy/ruffle top and then flows into a skirt. I purchased this several years ago from Macy's and I still LOVE it. I had planned to buy a new cover up, but I couldn't find one that went with the colors in my new bikinis. 

Also pictured above, you'll see Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun lotion, which smells heavenly and I tried a bit on my skin and it is really soft and soothing. I received this item for free from Influenster in my Surf Vox Box and I cannot wait to try it on this trip.

You'll also see First Aid Shot Therapy, which I also received free from Influenster in my Surf Vox Box. It is a quick liquid shot you can take for pain relief, such as a headache from being out in the sun all day or even relief if you get a little too much sun and have a sunburn.

LUNA bars, especially the fun summer bar Lemon Zest make for a wonderful snack on the beach if the kids are busy playing and you don't feel like packing up just yet.

Lastly, I just started using MAC's Dazzle Glass lip gloss called Like Venus. This gives you just a hint of sparkly pink on your lips and I want to try it over lipstick next.

Oh, and... the beach is not the beach without an InStyle mag, right?


Lastly, you need to protect your eyes on the beach, so don't forget your sunnies! I love this pink pair from Burberry that Brian got me for my birthday a few years back... but, Brian just got a new pair of Ray Ban aviators and you KNOW I will be borrowing them... I stole borrowed his last pair of aviators and still have them... they were only $15, but I think they look really cute on me! ha!

If you want to keep up to date on what I am doing on the beach all week, be sure to follow me on Instagram by clicking HERE. And, you may just see a photo of me wearing Bri's aviators!

God Life Happy Wife

Hosted By:
Sherri@God Life Happy Wife

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What Wives Wear Link Up is a place for wives/moms 
to express their own personal style. 
Link up your favorite outfit post of the week. 
Get inspired while inspiring others!

We will meet and link up every Thursday

Each week the hosts will choose the Top Two looks 

to be featured for the next weeks link up.
Join us each week and we may just pick you!

This week it was all about fun and color. 

Both Brittany and Lura are sharing flirty and fun 
outfits that are great for the summer.

Brittany looks beautiful in a simple but stylish turquoise dress.

The color really pops and compliments her skin tone 
as well as her pink lipstick.

Lura is sharing a coral top with 

a colorful aztec skirt. 

The tan wedges are a perfect match to the look.

Brittany@Brittany Gary

Lura@Light On A Hill

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