One Day on Nantucket

I woke up on the morning of my first trip to Nantucket feeling like it was Christmas. I had already picked out my perfect preppy summertime on Nantucket outfit, packed up my perfectly matching purse and created an outline for the day. I may sound like I knew what I was doing, but truth be told I had no idea what to expect. My cousin who I was travelling with had never been either so we were both basically clueless. We both have been to Martha’s Vineyard but time and time again I have heard that Nantucket is completely different, which is completely true. If I’m honest, Martha’s Vineyard was pretty, but as a whole, unimpressive. Nantucket has very strict building rules that allow it to retain much of its natural and historical integrity. It truly feels like you’re in olden time New England. The whole vibe is so classic, but I’m getting way too ahead of myself. Let me start at the start.img_4017

We picked up a ride on the boat at the Steamship Authority and the round trip tickets were very reasonable. I also think the fact that they don’t expire for a year is pretty cool, just in case you fall in love and decide to stay (and you will). The boats were very timely, not late, not early, and luckily, not packed to the brim with people! We set sail on a Sunday so  I was prepared for the worst, but the boat was very clean! Julia and I were lucky enough to have met a wonderful companion on the ship named Rebecca. By the end of our two hour journey, she had become our ship mother and now I plan to make her a life long friend. This would be one of the many wonderful people I would meet on my island adventure.

IMG_4040

Pulling into Nantucket I was greeted by the Brant Point Lighthouse, beautiful wooden boats and stunning views.

 

It was definitely more beautiful than I anticipated. The boat left us off directly into the downtown area and my plan for the day was totally shot. There was so much to see and do literally MOMENTS after we started walking away from the ship. We first walked through a residential area because the first things on my mind were all the beautiful flowers I had heard so much about for so long.

To say  I wasn’t disappointed would be a vast understatement.

The first shop we went into was actually the shop I was most excited to explore: Nantucket Bookworks. I purchased so many sweet things there! I seriously can’t believe how precious this place was. If I could work anywhere in the world, it would absolutely be there! It felt like I was in The Shop Around the Corner from one of my all time favorite movies, “You’ve Got Mail” and I was living for it! Also look! I got to drink organic chocolate milk from a little glass bear. The sweetness of it all is making my teeth hurt.

.IMG_4012

IMG_4001

Some of the other stores I would highly recommend you check out while on the island include:

Current Vintage

Antiques Depot, or really any of the local antique shops

Annie and the Tees

In the Pink

(Because when in rome!)img_4295img_4287

and my favorite shop which was called Parchment.

I got so many perfect souvenirs to bring home that I will treasure forever.

After a bit of shopping we were positively STARVED and we took a little back alley through town to find TOWN. The place we ate at was called Town is what I mean to say. And the food was excellent and very reasonable compared to many of the surrounding cafe’s.

IMG_4023

Falafel, YUM. And my cousin had Crab Benedict. Also yum. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up. We walked through a series of vacation cottages, sight saw, and look at these little guys!!

img_4207

Talk about #couplegoals!

Here are some more photos from our long Nantucket walk through town.

In true Gilmore Girls fashion, it was time for coffee. We had gone without all day! We really stumbled upon the sweetest little place called Handlebar Cafe. Julia had a lavender latte and I had matcha. It was the perfect place to stop and rejuvenate.

img_4288

Also check out this adorable print I got from Parchment by Rifle Paper Co.

After this we hitched an Uber to the Brant Point Lighthouse which is a major landmark beach on the island. Seriously, all the classic Nantucket vibes. The featured image for this post is of the Brant Point, so amazing. We hung out on the beach for an hour or so and then decided we wanted to make it to see a different part of the island.

We picked up another Uber and had them bring us to Bartlett’s Farm. It’s a massive, beautiful farm and grocer that I had seen a ton about on Instagram and other blogs. It was so beautiful there and I loved the rural vibes. Working on this farm some day is legit my dream job!img_4283

We walked about half a mile through the glorious fields of Nantucket (something I’ll never forget) over to the nearby/highly acclaimed Cisco Brewers. Unfortunately we arrived right at last call, but we only accepted this as a challenge. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words right?IMG_4052

Yep. Accurate. Luckily Cisco had a trolley of sorts that brought us right back into town. Safety first! We picked up some new friends on this trolley ride that I don’t think we could ever forget if we tried.

Once back in town, we hopped back on the ferry after scooping up a couple more trinkets and were lucky enough to be leaving the island right at sunset. I was feeling particularly lucky that we met our ship mother otherwise we would never have know about Nantucket’s “Two Pennies Over Board” tradition. It was a magical ending to a perfect day. One of my best. I truly can’t wait to return.

 

 

 

Summering on Cape Cod

If you’ve seen any of my previous blog posts you know I am a HUGE fan of the Northeast. It’s pretty much beautiful all year long, but Cape Cod and it’s surrounding cities really shine in the summertime. This really is a part one blog post, but I plan to take you guys day by day through my travels so you can get some ideas of what to do while you are summering on the Cape!img_4304

Day 1:

Honestly most of this day consisted of travel. I had a layover in Detroit which is the only reason I am even bringing up this day. The Detroit airport was AMAZING. In fact, I was so impressed by it, I think I kind of want to take a trip to Detroit. I had sworn off the midwest as a whole, which is probably wrong of me, but I totally changed my mind because Michigan looks amazing. Flying over the Great Lakes was pretty freaking stunning.

IMG_4089

Anyways we are getting off topic here. My mom and I picked up the rental car from Providence airport in RI (a much lesser airport, ew) and made our way to my mother’s childhood hometown of Seekonk, MA. Everything there seemed so familiar to me. I had traveled there several times as a child and when we arrived at my Aunt and Uncle’s home, it was like nothing had changed. It was so nostalgic. The weather, the smells, the sounds…it was just perfect. We visited with my Aunt and Uncle who I hadn’t seen for about thirteen years and it was like no time had passed. I am blessed to have been able to enjoy this time with them.

Day 2:

After a very solid sleep, my mom and I woke up to an even more perfect temperature. I went on a short, barefooted hike through my Uncle’s woods. The woods up north smell way different than they do here in Florida, in a good way. They were all rained on and when the wind blew it sounded drippy and pretty. The forest floor was covered with green moss, so soft under my toes. I wish I had taken some photos, but this was such an impromptu experience that I didn’t even bring my phone or camera. Also, some things a photo just can’t capture.

After that, my cousin arrived so that she, my mother and I could go to Newport. My cousin is like a sister to me, so I always get super excited to see her. img_4136

Just look at lil mama!

On our way to Newport my mom suggested we stop at this quaint historic site called Prescott Farm. As soon as we pulled up I was instantly in love. There was no one there except two sweet ladies painting under a peach tree. There were flowers and fruits galore. It was seriously a beautiful place, and free to explore! I’d highly suggest that if you can ever make it there, you should make the stop.

We passed through some really sweet towns on the way to Newport (Warren, Bristol) but we decided we would stop at them on the way back. I was super excited to get there because I had never been, but heard so many amazing things.

Driving through town there were SO MANY tourists. And a lot of stores. And to my initial, judgmental eye that appeared to be it, but don’t worry, this story gets better. My mom took us out to some beautiful cliff, the name of which escapes me, but when we arrived, I felt like I was standing on the edge of the world. There was nothing but ocean as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t tell where the sea stopped and the world began. I was really feeling at my New-England-best at this point. This was also one of those times when the pictures really just couldn’t capture what I was seeing.

After this we wanted to do the cliff walk. We parked fairly easily, and it was free to do. It was about 85 degrees, the hottest day of my trip, so we only walked for about an hour. The views and the mansions were stunning. Sorry for the blurry photo, it was insanely windy and I was trying not to die, WORTH IT!

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

img_4294

At this point we were terribly thirsty. I saw a botanical shop on the way into town (if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know I love this sort of thing) and we decided to stop there for a cold tea, and BOY am I glad we did. This was easily one of the coolest shops I’ve ever been to at all anywhere, ever. It was called Gather and it was right on the outskirts of Newport, RI.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

img_4134

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

The shop keep was very sweet and helpful. This shop alone made me wish I lived closer to Newport! I was in love. But we had to leave because we were also starving. We stopped at a restaurant in Warren, RI called The Square Peg where we had an awesome meal! This whole area felt like Williamsburg in Brooklyn to me. So, so cute.IMG_3823

We went back to Seekonk, scooped up my luggage and headed out to the cape. We went back to my cousin’s house and I got to have dinner with a bunch of my family! I was so happy to get to hang out with them, even if it was only for a little while. Oh and we watched Practical Magic that night because it’s just what we do.

Day 3:

We woke up and had breakfast at the CUTEST coffee shop on the cape called Coffee Obsession. img_4291

I purchased some post cards by a local artist who worked for the coffee shop because how much more fun is it to have something local than something mass produced? I digress.

So I am super lucky because my cousin works at a resort in Cape Cod and thus she has access to other resorts in the area of the like, so for the rest of the morning we were able to use the pool, private beach and resort amenities. Trust me when I say it was a beautiful place. Hydrangea’s on Hydrangea’s.

After tanning and relaxing,  we stopped at the sweetest farmer’s market in town, Falmouth Farmer’s Market. Here are just a few of the many photos I got of the goods. And yes, many apple cider donuts were consumed on this day.

The market manager was so wonderful and helpful. I would for sure be getting my produce here every week if I were able! After vegging out (ha) we walked to the near by Flying Bridge Restaurant for some grub. Then we napped. Because how could we not after a busy morning like that?

That evening we went for a walk up Main Street in Falmouth. We visited all the cute local shops and library before grabbing a bite to eat at La Cucina Sul Mare where we had some BOMB pasta dishes.

IMG_3866

After we got home and had a little R&R we stayed up all night talking, which honestly was probably my favorite part of the day.

Day 4:

I knew my cousin was going to have to work today, so my mother came out to keep me company and do some Cape exploring with me. For brunch I brought Mama to the best place I could think of: Maison Villatte where we had delicious coffees, pastries and sandwiches. So delicious, very fairly priced and always authentic. Apparently the master baker who owns this shop takes the authenticity of his bakery very seriously! img_4305

Afterwords (to walk off a very decadent breakfast) we went to one of my favorite spots in Falmouth, MA. Spohr Gardens is truly a hidden gem. A massive diamond in the rough. And it’s free! A great spot for an easy hike. Just look at these views!

Then we were off to another one of my favorite places in the WORLD which luckily resides right up the road from the gardens, Highfield Hall. Take the time to read about the history and beauty of this place. Between the stunning grounds, amazing art gallery and thirty fairy houses, you will want to visit! See for yourself.

That evening my mother, Julia and I went and had dinner at The British Beer Co. and while I really and truly wish I had been able to get a photo for you all, the bacon mac n’ cheese I had literally fell into my mouth.

When we were all finished we went and watched the sunset out at the beach by the very picturesque Nobska Lighthouse. Again, this is one of those things you just can’t fully pick up in a photo, but I sure did try!

That night we also made a very mandatory trip to Somerset Creamery. Always busy, always worth the wait.img_4284

Day 5:

I am going to keep this day brief because really nothing too exciting happened. I went shopping with my mom and snagged some cute new threads, we had coffee at Coffee Obsession again, I watched Gilmore Girls and did laundry and organized my living quarters a bit. That night my mom went home and Julia and I went out and visited with my grandparents in Acushnet, MA. It’s always insanely magical at their house, what with the soft grass, slew of chipmunks and hummingbirds. It’s everything a grandparent’s home should be. And of course, we always love seeing our sweet Nana and Pep!

Day 6, also known as one of the best days of my life:

On this day both Julia and I set sail to Nantucket for the first time. This day requires its own blog post, so stay very tuned for “A Day on Nantucket” soon!

Day 7:

This day ended up being even more low key than we anticipated because we were just BEAT from our adventures on Nantucket. It was also very cold and very raining, classic New England weather. We woke up and had breakfast at a diner called Country Fare which is right on Main Street in Falmouth. It’s basically Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls, like to a T.

After eating up our greasy diner grub we decided pedicures were more than necessary. After all the walking we had done the day before, it was crucial to my very survival.

We then went home, made coco, watched the rain, watched about five hours of Gilmore Girls (are you sensing a theme yet?) and then Julia drove us back to my Auntie and Uncle’s home in Seekonk.

Day 8 (and was supposed to be a travel only day):

This day ended up being so much more amazing than Julia and I thought it would be thanks to my mother and her adventurous spirit. We started the morning off with a hike through the glorious woods of Caratunk Preserve. I swear to you this place was right out of a story book. Check out the website to see for yourself!

We picked up my first ever “Awful Awful” which is an ice cream like treat my mother has been raving about to me basically since I came out of the womb. You can find these shakes at Newport Creamery.

We also went to a shop called the Paper Store. We don’t have these shops in the south but apparently they are everywhere up north, and I am jealous! So many cute things. It was definitely the place to go for a last minute splurge.

Now last, but seriously one of my favorite things we did on the whole trip, was flower picking at Four Town Farms. I would have stayed here forever if they had let me. Seriously, I could have just lived in the fields of flowers. Zinnia’s, Dahlia’s, wildflowers, oh my!

In addition to picking beautiful flowers for my Auntie’s kitchen table, I snagged some home made granola, a bee’s wax candle and coffee milk (the best) from the farm store.

After that we got back to Auntie’s, grabbed a slice of pizza, Julia and I shared a very sad goodbye and then we were ready to hop a plane home.

As much as this was like, the ultimate Eat. Pray. Love. trip for me, I missed my husband so much that that night we landed (about 11PM) I drove all the way home just to sleep next to him, and I don’t live close to the airport. WORTH IT! Distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Awwwweeeeee.

So anyways that’s all about my trip. Like I said, stay tuned for my post all about Nantucket, coming within the next couple of weeks.

Where I have been/Summer Essentials

Some of you may have noticed that there was a significant lapse in my spring and summer posts (almost two and a half months to be exact) and I wish I had a great excuse as to why I was lax about posting, but the truth is, there was no reason. I’m really sorry about it. I was feeling unmotivated. All my content ideas seemed basic and boring (I think they call this writers block?). I had become disenchanted with my own creativity because of stress stemming from spreading myself way too thin, which truly is a horrible feeling. This seems to happen yearly to me, as I tend to go through a yearly cycle of emotions based on the seasons. After spending these months studying different lifestyles (Hygge, Konmari, minimalism, How to be a Gilmore Girl) I am in a much better place physically, emotionally and in spirit, hence why I am so gung ho about making sure I am writing more, and doing a better job at expressing myself creatively. To sum it all up, I’m feeling better, back to my sunshiney self, we are all human and having this human experience together, the dog days of summer suck, blahblahblah.

SO to get to the good stuff, I have tried some KILLER new summer cosmetics and I wanted to share with you guys what I have been taking along with me on my trips to beat the heat that stay keeping me feeling fresh.

I took a few photos of the products, so I will just go ahead and share those with you up front for reference.

This small, but versatile batch of items come anywhere from my Birchbox subscription to Sephora to Target and back. These few products cover hair, skincare and include components of the perfect summer makeup look.

Makeup-

Anastasia Beverly Hills Sun Dipped Glow Kit: OMG YOU GUYS. I know ABH is known for the amazing quality of their products, but this highlighter is on another level. It’s softer than butter and gives an insane shine. I love the shades Moonstone and Summer the best but all four are beautiful. I have even taken to adding the bronze shade called Bronzed to my contour and it’s super dreamy. Available at Sephora.com.

The Beauty Crop Fabulous Flocking Lashes Waterproof Mascara: This mascara is totally unique. It does give a nice lift to your lashes, but it is VERY waterproof, so it’s even good for the beach. Plus I am obsessed with the summery packaging, I’m a sucker for good packaging. Available at Birchbox.com.

COOLA SPF 30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray: Not only does this product make your face feel so fresh, but it’s organic and has a decent SPF! Perfect for summer makeup. The first time I used it I was skeptical, because I have never used a setting spray that was made by  a company that primarily makes sunscreens, but honestly, it’s everything. Available at Birchbox.com.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor: I have been trying to branch out into the world of drugstore cosmetics, as my cousin who gifted me this lipcolor let me know that a lot of drugstore makeup companies have seriously upped their game, and let me tell you what, she was so right! Not only is this product inexpensive, it makes my lips look and feel amazing, plump and hydrated! Pictured above is the shade Seduction, available at Target.com. Thank you Julia! (giving a shout out to her awesome youtube channel, check it out! youtube.com/user/juuliawhat )

Skincare-

derma e Purifying 2-in-1 Charcoal Mask: I have tried those painful, peely off masks that are supposed to take out all your face grossness, but, as I dislike pain, I have to advocate for this product as a substitute. It gets to the grit without a sore face! Available at Birchbox.com.

Caudalie Vinoperfect and Vinosource (available as FREE birthday gifts this year from Sephora): Don’t ask, just do it. When your bday rolls around and it’s time to collect your Sephora gift, take my advice and choose these Caudalie products! Everything they make is divine.

Sephora Collection sleeping mask in Pearl: If you want to wake up looking and feeling like a Disney princess, purchase this very reasonably priced sleeping mask! The package looks small, but the product has so much coverage you can easily get 3 uses out of it. This product is a lifesaver during summertime for my skin! (Sings “You’re Welcome” from Disney’s Moana)

Gorgeous Facial Moisturizer by Lush Cosmetics: I know your first thought is going to be WHAT THIS IS SO EXPENSIVE, but lemme tell ya…this stuff is on my skin before makeup, I put it over my foundation during my makeup routine and I use it after I take my makeup off. It is a delicious treat for the face. Even without makeup, it gives you a summertime glow. Available at Lush.com.

Hair-

Davines OI All in One Milk: Perfect for after the beach! Nothing makes my hair feel more fresh. It really repairs it and detangles instantly. Available at Birchbox.com.

Bumble and bumble. Don’t Blow It: I use this every single night after I shower. I never blow dry, but this product makes me feel like I did. It feels like I just got my hair done every night! Available at Birchbox.com and at Sephora.

Unpictured, but I have to say my piece about it, Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle: YOU GUYS THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OUT OF THE WHOLE BLOG POST!! I have shared this with my friends, with everyone. It makes my hair smell like fairy sugar, and it works instantly! This would probably be great for all hair types. Just look into it! Available on Birchbox.com.

I hope you all enjoyed this little product review post, and if you have any opinions on these products I’d love to hear them in the comments!

 

 

Birthday Trip to South FL

img_3626Twenty five is a big year in my opinion (although it is also apparently the year people stop giving you gifts, FYI). June is usually a great month for me, and this year’s June was no exception. I wanted to make sure I had a grand adventure for my birthday, in addition to my yearly birthday bash, but I have several trips planned for this summer, so I chose to take a short, four day road trip with friends! We went down to South Florida (Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Naples, and Sanibel Island). I thought I’d share with you guys some of my favorite things we did while we were down there.

Day 1:

I had an eleven hour 90’s playlist ready for the road. It was so perfect and filled with nostalgia. We used it the whole trip.

As for a place to stay, this was my first time using Airbnb and it was amazing! Our place in Bonita Springs was to die for! We had our own private guest house with a full kitchen which was the most perfect little place for a getaway. Luckily, our hosts were also wonderful.

There wasn’t a lot to do in downtown Bonita Springs (although we did see an iguana on a riverbank which was wild, literally), but we stopped at this place called the Garden Cafe on the way in for brunch, and truly it wasn’t much to look at, but OMG you guys, easily the best chicken and waffles I have EVER had. If you’re ever down there, do yourself a favor and stop in. The appearance inside may be a little shocking at first, as it is primarily a catering company and looks sort of like a warehouse, but the food is everything! img_3391After eating and settling in, we took a drive down to Fort Myers Beach which was filled to the brim with tourists, as I suspected it would be. My girlfriend who joined us on this adventure is one of my oldest and dearest friends. As children, my mother would take us down to Fort Myers Beach and let us run wild. It has changed a lot since then! The beach was as lovely as ever, and I actually found some nice shells. We stopped at Lani Kai for a drink, The Silver Witch for jewelry and then headed back to the Airbnb where we cooked steak on the grill and enjoyed our hosts pool, which felt insanely good after a long day in what I am pretty sure was 100,000 degree weather.img_3400

img_3458

(Me living for this Popsicle at Lani Kai because seriously, this was the hottest day of our trip.)

Day 2:

We went to Coconut Point in Estero, a nearby town, which was the single most massive mall any of us had ever seen. It was so super beautiful. I could have spent the whole day shopping there!  One thing I noticed about all the areas we traveled to was that everything was brand new! I’m used to taking vacations to places with lots of history, but these places were all so shiny and luxurious, I felt very pampered. This was definitely one of the more “fab” vacations I have taken for sure.

We ate at Delicious Raw for breakfast, which boasts a good size menu of juices, bowls and smoothies.img_3403

We went back for another dip in the pool (seriously, we were living for the pool) and then got all gussied up for a trip down to Naples for dinner.

Seriously, I thought Estero was luxe, I had NO idea. Everything in Naples was SO fancy and beautiful. The stores on 5th Avenue, the restaurants, the people. I was glad I had my makeup looking so on point for dinner, I sure would have felt out of place if I hadn’t! img_3528We walked the shops on 5th Ave and took a drive through the streets lined with multi million dollar mansions. Just driving through was an adventure in and of itself. We ate at Yabba for dinner. The food, service, atmosphere, and price were everything we were looking for! My husband and I will one hundred percent be coming back to Naples in the not so distant future, and we would come back to this place in a heartbeat! He had the seafood, as did our company, but I had the pulled beef tacos. img_3672

Day 3 (My bday yay!):

On this blessed day, my twenty fifth day of birth on the twenty fourth day of June, we went to one of my most favorite places of all time, Sanibel Island. There just is no where else like it in the world. It is a utopia, a paradise, I just can’t say enough good things about it.img_3656img_3485

We drove the entire island from the lighthouse, to the library, to the world’s best antique shop and round and round again. For brunch we ate at The Island Cow and it was just perfect. I know I have used that word so much, but truly there’s no other way to describe this adventure. I had the fruit and granola because I knew we would be posted up at the beach for a while and no one wants to be stuffed and bloated at the beach, but I ended up getting so much food! Their toasted granola was LIFE!!! I would have it daily if I could.img_3520

After maxin’ on the beach for a few hours, we needed, NEEDED something cold. We stopped at Pinocchio’s for ice cream and LOOK Y’ALL

img_3482

I had the “dirty sand dollar” ice cream and a “Sanibel Blossom”. Don’t ask, just buy and eat. This was “one scoop” by the way.

After ice cream we noticed a storm starting to roll in so we headed back “home” to unwind for a while. Luckily there was a Fresh Market on the way back, where we stopped to pick up dinner, a fruit tart as a makeshift bday cake for moi, and this delicious nectar of the gods:

img_3527

We were staying right next to Barefoot Beach, which may have been the most beautiful beach we visited. We stayed there a while and watched the sunset on a rainy night. It was a perfect day.

 

Day 4, going home:

All trip long we had been talking about coffee, as all of us prefer to be caffeinated as much as possible. We stopped at Kunjani Cafe, which was so super cute! All very organic, they even had a precious garden in the back. I had the matcha latte and my better half had the “camping coffee” which is coffee with sweetened condensed milk (YUM).

img_3531

We also made a stop (for some much needed old fashioned history) at Koreshan State Park. A very creepy, sort of bizarre place, with a Farmer’s Market on Sundays! I didn’t manage to take any photos because I was so preoccupied with my surroundings, but anyone could easily spend an entire day there. Look into it!

After that we returned home! I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday and I can’t wait to go back! Luckily it’s only a few hours away. I’m blessed to live near so many paradises! Stay tuned for my next post about my current summer cosmetic favorites!

 

Spring Clothing Swap

Every year for the past seven years I have hosted anywhere from one to four clothing swaps per year. I have totally lost count of how many I have hosted, if you couldn’t tell by that confusing beginning sentence. Probably somewhere from ten to fifteen. Regardless, it is something I love to do and I look forward to this event all year long. I have gone from hosting several a year to doing just one spring cleaning swap annually to allow my friends to have a longer time to stock up on things to get rid of. Hosting a clothing swap can be really, really fun, but sometimes can be a bit difficult when the details aren’t smoothed out. I will share with you all my steps to creating a fun, easy clothing swap party for your girlfriends and the things I do to create a successful and smooth swap.

1. Invite people who have good taste and people of all sizes.

img_2490

Since clothing sizes are so all over the place, make sure to invite friends who vary in size. Also make sure to invite friends who have at least somewhat similar styles. Of course no one likes EXACTLY the same stuff, but you wouldn’t invite a deer to a tiger party, ya feel me?

2. Find a big enough location to host your swap.

I have hosted swaps at home in my back yard, in my old home (a tiny one bedroom apartment) and at a local park. By far it is best to host a swap outdoors where there is a lot of space, preferably a back yard. You will  end up having way more clothes to swap than you think, so set yourself up for success!  The reason it’s best not to swap at a local park is because outside people WILL try to come and join your party and you will have loads of strangers coming up to you and asking you what you are doing. This can get very annoying since you are trying to be an attentive host to the guests you’ve actually invited. Finally, be sure to have a few extra blankets ready to lay the clothes out on. You can thank me later.

3. Set some swapping ground rules.

My rules are fairly simple: take as much as you bring. If two people want something, we flip a coin. Don’t be greedy and take things you know don’t fit you or things you won’t wear. Make sure you try stuff on so that if something doesn’t fit it can be passed on to someone else. My most important rule of all (of course) is to have fun and make a new friend!

4. Figure out what you’re going to do with all the left over clothes

Typically I bring the clothes to local charities/churches that I know provide clothing banks to homeless people, but I am pretty sure every place has a chapter of Goodwill or Salvation Army that will happily accept donations. This may be a good way for you to become more familiar with your local charities! Do some research and pick a charity who you think needs your love the most.

5. Have food and have your friends bring food.

Everything is better with food. Any event you ever host should at least have a few dishes to nosh on. Especially donuts. Who doesn’t love donuts?

img_2470img_2444

I got some seriously amazing stuff at my most recent swap, but also I have a seriously fabulous girl gang. I hosted my clothing swap party on Earth Day this year. There’s nothing better for our Earth than recycling, plus people are usually happy to do something eco friendly (especially when it involves getting free clothes.) I hope you all have enjoyed this post and I look forward to hearing all about the swaps you host! XO

My Spring Break

Let’s face it, adulting is really hard. Lately, it seems  like even harder. I have been so insanely busy (and recently I started watching Game of Thrones and can’t seem to peel myself away from the TV) and if you follow my blog you may have noticed seeing as I haven’t posted in forever! When my cousin (more like a sister) announced that she was coming to see me, I decided I would make her week of vacation mine as well. Who says grown ups can’t have spring break? I enjoyed a nine day stay-cation in my city and its neighboring cities. I thought this would be a perfect time to share my favorite local spots in what I consider to be all of my home towns with the sweet angels who take the time to read my blog. I suppose I should start at the beginning, a very good place to start.

Day 1: Hyde Park/South Tampa, FL

After picking up my cousin Julia at the airport we went straight to one of my favorite brunch spots in the whole wide world, Oxford Exchange. Pretty much everyone local to Tampa Bay has been to this gem at least once. I am a frequent flier there and will be probably for as long as they are open. This place has a coffee shop, a tea shop, a book store, an apothecary and much, much more in the confinements of one building. I was visiting with Julia, so I wasn’t able to get a great many photos on this trip, but I did manage to get some of my tea and brunch.img_2090img_2087This place is simply made for instagramming if I do say so myself. If this post inspires a trip there for you, please make a reservation as they seem to be busy all day every day! And request a seat in the observatory. You’re welcome.

Up the road is Hyde Park, a swanky little shopping area with some nice places to eat and stores that I love. We went to Florist Fire for the flowers, The Hyppo for pops and Anthropologie for some cute things. We were so exhausted after, we went home and slept for nearly the rest of the day.

Day 2: Fred Howard Park, Tarpon Springs, FL; New Port Richey, FL

I had never been to Fred Howard, but I had heard many good things about it and I wasn’t disappointing. It’s a beautiful park with lots of fishing spots and lots of parking. I don’t know why we had never been before because it really isn’t far from our house at all. We first went for sunrise and later in the day for sunset. These photos are unedited, it was actually this stunning!

The water was very clear and calm. We plan to go a lot now that we know how wonderful it is!

Post beaching in the early morning, we went to the neighboring city of New Port Richey for breakfast. We ate at Johnny Grits and had chicken and waffles, one of my favorite meals of all time. A few streets away we went to an front lawn farm called Freedom House Farm. This farm consists of three consecutive homes that have transformed their front lawns into massive food gardens. The food from this farm is sold around New Port Richey to local farmers markets. As we were walking by, farmer Jim happened to be outside working and was kind enough to show us around and give us a garden tour! If you have read any other of my posts, you know I am a gardener and I am a little obsessed with this hobby. I was so impressed and inspired by his crops and the urban farming movement!img_2138

Day 3: Hudson, FL; New Port Richey, FL

The first thing we did this morning, and one of my favorite things we did on this vacation was picking blueberries at Bob’s U-pick in Hudson. The blueberries were fresh, ripe and very inexpensive. Because we went in the middle of the week, and in the early morning, we were the only people there. It was awesome!

Even the baby peaches were starting to come in! I seriously can not wait to go picking there again soon.img_2186After all that picking, we worked up a serious appetite. We went over to one of my most favorite coffee shops, Oasis coffee. Luckily it was only about ten minutes from the farm. They make the best flavored lattes and the almond cake, OMG Y’ALL. It’s to die for.img_2187

After breakfast, we walked around Starkey Park, a great place for nature walking. We went to the local nursery and invested in some new flowers for my garden, which we promptly went home and worked in. Then I made us some sweet tea and we watched “The Secret Life of Bees” which is one of my all time favorites. These are the kinds of days I wish I could have every day.

Day 4: Saint Petersburg, FL

Ah, my ACTUAL home town. I was so looking forward to bringing Julia here and showing her around all my old haunts. After collecting so many places that I love, it was pretty hard to bring her to just a few. We missed out on a few coffee shops, boutiques and cafe’s, but we did have a magical time at the places we did get to go. This time of year, everything is in bloom in Florida. img_2213

See what I mean? We got to Saint Pete and the first thing we did was eat. We were hungry after the voyage there, so I brought her to one of the places that makes my heart happy, and it was such a beautiful day, I couldn’t not bring her. Red Mesa Cantina has a lovely outside seating area and is right in the heart of downtown. I order the chicken Fernandez literally every time, it’s just that good.img_2197

Next stop was Station House for some Te Bella tea. This is a really cute, moderately new spot for the Burg. The rosemary salted caramel latte is my favorite. We also stopped by the Old Southeast Market, and then the Vinoy. Truth be told, we were after some donuts by The Hole Donuts. They don’t have their own shop, but they do vend at markets and some local businesses. We were lucky to have found them at the coffee shop inside the Vinoy hotel. There were only a few left!

There were about a trillion other wonderful places I wanted to take Julia to, but our busy day was winding down, so we went to my mother’s house and played Candy Land and went to sleep.

Day 5: Saint Petersburg, FL

We woke up quite early with a ravenous appetite FOR DONUTS. We went to the best place I could think of for donuts and bagels: Saint Pete Bagel Co. This place is THE best. I always have to make a trip there when I am in town.img_2214

Post-breakfast we went down to Sunset beach (my favorite because it’s usually not a mad house like the rest of the beaches) and it was a beautiful day! We spent 3 hours in the sunshine. Julia is from the North, where it’s still freezing, so this was especially wonderful for her. Normally I would have taken a million pictures of the beach, but on this day, I was content just digging my toes into the white sand, listening to the crashing of the waves and enjoying the wonderful company. After the beach we went to The Lure for lunch. I had never been but we had sushi on the brain, so this place was a perfect fit.img_2218

Typical basic girl sushi photo I know, I know.

Day 6: Tarpon Springs, FL

This was one of my favorite days of the week. Tarpon Springs is a city famous for its Greek culture and sponges. Last time Julia came down, I took her to do all the touristy stuff in the touristy part of town. This time we went to the historic district which is several blocks away from the sponge docks. We needed coffee. At this point in the week, caffeine was a necessity. One of my all time favorite coffee shops is in Tarpon Springs, The Eco-Bean Coffee House. They make the world’s best Chai latte, not even kidding. Plus they have an adorable outside space that makes for a really tranquil morning.

There is a main street in the historic district that is full of really sweet local maker-type shops and antique malls. We ended up with some great finds! I got this super sweet vintage tea cup with bees on it (I had been searching everywhere for one) at one of the shops.img_2352

After shopping and having no breakfast, we were looking for any place that served edible matter. We stumbled (almost literally) into an ADORABLE cafe called Olive the World. Not only are their homemade balsamics and olive oils to die for, you can choose from tons of flavors and pick which ones you want on your food. Everything that isn’t made fresh in the cafe is made locally. Pictured below is the gnocchi with Gorgonzola and blueberry balsamic glaze. It was everything. If you’re ever in this area and love great food, please, please go here! The owners were exceedingly kind. It makes me feel good to eat at a place that serves its community!img_2248

Day 7: Clearwater, FL; Dunedin, FL

On Julia’s last day in town we wanted to stay a little low key. We were exhausted after a long week of eating, gardening, flower picking and adventuring. We went to my favorite little spot in the whole wide world for breakfast, The Wildflower Cafe.img_2257img_2280img_2270

It’s so nice to sit outside there and I love the flowers they have growing everywhere! Not to mention the food is delicious and very reasonable. After breakfast we went to the little city of Largo to see the botanical gardens. Everything was in bloom, I felt so lucky to be there. We also saw an alligator and a snake, which is quite common to us Floridians but to someone from Massachusetts, not so much. It was good fun.

Since we were heading home, and it was still early in the day, we stopped in Dunedin, my favorite of all the cities local to me. It was a perfect weather Friday morning, so we walked through the farmer’s market in the main square which is always a fun time. The local vendors are very sweet and their produce is amazing! There are so many shops in Dunedin, we probably walked through every single one. We had a light lunch at Cafe Alfresco on Main Street (always wonderful) and then headed home.

img_2353

That night at home we had a campfire and listened to Stevie Nicks, which is my ideal Friday night, in case any of you were wondering.

Day 8/9: Home

It was so hard saying goodbye to my wonderful cousin, but after a long week of many adventures, much laughter and over indulging, I was very satisfied with my vacation. I slothed around in bed all day, watched Game of Thrones, and cuddled with my husband. And got this mini harvest from the garden, which I believe was well deserved after all the love we gave it this week! Kind of a perfect end to my perfect spring break.

The Southern Belle Brunch

Ah the south, where brunch can be served outside in spring time (which for us starts in February) while the rest of the country is getting slammed with snow storms. Where girls are well mannered and love to dress up for any occasion. Where pearls and bare feet are always in style. Where “Bless your heart” and “Oh my stars” are more than regular to hear bein’ slung outta our mouths! If you know me, you know that my southern-ness is a massive part of who I am, as is hosting fun events for my girlfriends! And I REALLY went all out with this one y’all! I can’t wait to share all about it with you guys, so let’s get started!img_1499

As the host of a southern belle brunch, it was crucial for mama to help me put on the party! I am eternally thankful for her support in everything I do. I know I always talk about mama, but look at how precious she is! She is truly a blessing in every life she touches.

Let’s start with the food:

img_1568

Since this brunch is the first in my spring party season, everything positively HAD to be colorful, fun to eat, and home grown. The viola you see above were all grown by yours truly and the veggies are all organic and locally sourced. This salad was a HUGE hit, so I will be kind enough to share my recipe with y’all!

Serving ten people:

3 heads of romaine

7 or 8 large strawberries, sliced

one large cucumber, sliced

multi colored edible flowers, and yes they have a lovely taste

topped with Romano and Parmesan cheeses as well as a mix of chia and flax seeds

For dressing I used a delicious strawberry vinaigrette

I could eat this for every meal and never tire of it. img_1540img_1566img_1573

My friends are wonderful, that’s a given, but they were especially generous with the snacks they brought to share! They brought pimento cheese sandwiches, cucumber sammies, banana puddin’, lemon meringue pie, strawberry pie, fried chicken, and this list goes on. From MY kitchen came the salad, Mama’s cheesy potatoes, Tyler’s cheese grits, mini chicken and waffles (which were a huge hit) And a couple of desserts, which you’ll see below. img_1567

Above is a sort of DIY moonpie situation! My husband whipped up this dip that’s made of raspberry, white chocolate, cool whip and cream cheese and we dipped thin mints in it…let me tell y’all, this delicious stuff was no joke!

img_1550img_1565

The stunning pie you see above is a strawberry pie from Publix, and it tasted even better than it looks. Publix is a true blessing to the South, and it always makes me sad to go into regular grocery stores around the country when I am traveling! Publix is simply the best and honestly, we southerners are spoiled by it.

The drinks:

First things first, let me just say, I invested in this wonderful little cart from Ikea and it has been such a gem! It helps me so much when I am gardening or entertaining, primarily with drinks!

img_1570img_1571img_1569

The cocktail I created was everything. It was EVERYTHING y’all. It was Steel Magnolia inspired, and I called it the Shelby. Not after me Shelby, but the movie Shelby, who I am actually named after as a matter of fact. I used Beyonce’s actual Lemonade Lemonade recipe as a base, which is magical in itself. Then I added a cap full of grenadine, just enough to give it that lovely color. For liquor I used an entire medium sized bottle of Grey Goose Vodka. Finally I mixed in two tsp. of rose extract to give it a stunning floral taste. I garnished it with my home grown edible flowers. Can you imagine anything more blush and bashful? Bey and Shelby would be proud. For a non alcoholic beverage I made my infamous sweet tea. I can’t give you the recipe because it is forever secret and never exact, but I can tell you there are strawberries involved and there wasn’t a drop left over. It is inspired by the southern classic film, Secret Life of Bees, so that may give you a little hint as to what my secret ingredient might be. In hosting events since my sixteenth birthday, I have learned that drinks are just as important as the food you serve. Detail is everything.

I kept it minimal as far as decor. We had cocktail hour in the garden, our meal inside on my makeshift long table (I will give details) and finally, pie on the porch. It was just the most dreamy afternoon. The light, the weather, the company, it could not have been more lovely.img_1514img_1516

In our house it’s just me and my southern gent. We only have a small table, just for us two, and side leafs that pull out of the table for two guests. When I decided to host this sit down brunch, I was very concerned about where to place everyone while making them feel comfortable. Then I had a dazzling idea. I keep my house minimal. What I mean by that is we have a ton of extra space (for occasions like this), plus I cannot stand clutter! I used my sun room for the space. I placed two wooden palettes down, threw a sheet over those, and then I scattered blankets and pillows about. It was in inside picnic, and it was very charming if I do say so myself. As far as dishware, I love to use all different types of plates, cups and cutlery. It gives the tablescape much more character than using one plain set! My color scheme was meant to seem reflective of a Florida spring. Earthy browns, blues and greens. And flowers are a must on any table of mine, duh! Like I said details, details!

img_1572img_1522

After we were all good and stuffed and Shelby’d up, I gave a garden tour. There’s nothing I love to do more than host except to talk about my carefully tended flowers and herbs and veggies.img_1561img_1564

As for music, I just threw on Dolly Parton radio on Pandora and let it do it’s magical thing. Although, there was so much laughter to be honest, we hardly had a chance to listen. That’s pretty much all there is to tell! I hope you guys enjoyed this! I really want to do a full disclosure post all about what it means to be a southern belle and all the traditions we hold dear to our hearts down here in the south. Have a beautiful week and thanks for readin’ XXOO