Family Visit

This weekend, Michael and I visited his parents.  We usually visit during Memorial day, but we weren’t able to this year, so this was a make-up visit.  It was really good to see his mom and his dad.  I was a very bad blogger and didn’t take very many pictures, although there were times when I couldn’t take pictures either.

So, Saturday, my mother-in-law and I went out shopping, and she got a foundation match at Sephora.  It was neat to see her get pampered.  She totally deserves it!  Then, we did some more shopping, looking at thrift stores and various other stores.  It was wonderful to spend time with her, just doing life with her.

And on Sunday, we went to church and then the traditional lunch at Captain Ds with all her friends.  She has an incredible supporting group of people around her.  We talked about traveling to Italy and our favorite Italian cities.  It was wonderful to catch up with them as well.

I did manage to snap a picture of her and me before we left on Sunday.


We were also there to visit Michael’s dad who is in a care facility due to the extent of his Alzheimer’s disease.  He is one of the reasons that we are so involved with the Alzheimer’s Association.  I participated in the Longest Day last week to spread awareness about the disease.  They didn’t allow us to bring cell phones into the facility so I couldn’t snap a picture with him, but here we are from a couple of years ago.


We saw him on both Saturday and Sunday, and he was much more animated on Sunday. I’m glad he’s getting the care that he needs.  He can’t talk very well, but he was smiling and laughing.  When he makes eye contact with you and lights up, it’s the best thing ever.

It was a really good and relaxing visit.  I’m so glad we were able to go!


Travel Tips for Repeat Road Trips


When I was growing up, I lived 8 hours away from extended family.  Which means whenever we wanted to visit, it was a day-long road trip.  Over the years, we created traditions for our road trips to make them memorable and bearable.

Michael and I also live pretty far from family.  It takes a day to travel to see family on either side.  So, just like in childhood, we have created some traditions as well.  These traditions can also be tips that you can try the next time you set out on a long road trip.

Taking the Dog

We used to take our dog with us all the time when we travel.  There have been a few times she stayed at home, but for the most part, she is a part of our traveling crew.  When we travel long distances, she sits in a large crate.  If we are just driving around town, she will sit in my lap, but it’s safer to have her in the crate.  If the road gets bumpy, she won’t get tossed around the back of the car.  I know that there are seatbelt harnesses available on the market, but I haven’t found one yet that has been proven more effective than the crate option.


Stopping to Rest

When I was small, we always stopped at the rest stops along the state lines.  I’ve started doing this again now as an adult.  The bathrooms are cleaner than a lot of the gas stations.  I can’t vouch for the whole country, but most of the rest stops in the south are situated in park-like environments so we can take the pup for a good walk.  On previous trips, we would just stop at the gas station and it was hit or miss where we could take Jerzee for a potty break.  Also, there are a lot of information brochures for ideas on future travel excursions.  And this past month, the info centers were decked out in holiday decor.


Listening to Topics

Usually, the radio stations get lost about an hour outside of Dallas, so we use audio books and podcasts the rest of the trip.  We like to check audiobooks out from the library to take with us, but lately, we have been downloading podcasts instead.  Our favorite podcast of the moment is Dear Hank and John, two brothers who have a YouTube channel and answer advice type questions.  We have a USB connector above our radio that allows us to fill a flash drive with hours of podcasts to listen to.


Traditional treats

As a kid, the one time we ate at Cracker Barrel was when we traveled.  The restaurant is just set up for travelers.  It has the little store to purchase candies and treats (and now also to rent audio books).  My brother and I would play chess while waiting for a table or for the food to come.  And I would always get the same thing – a vegetable plate with a bottle of root beer.  We have stopped as adults at Cracker Barrel, but we don’t like to leave our pup behind in the car for too long.  I do, however, have specific snacks for the trip in the car.  Michael gets fruit snacks while I like eating pistachios (I like the shelled variety because it gives me something to do with my hands and slows the snacking a bit).

So these are a few tips to help make road trips more memorable and a little more bearable.  Let me know in the comments below, do you do road trips, or are you more of a flyer?  Do you have any tips to share?  Let me know in the comments below.

A Trip Home

We visited my family for Thanksgiving this year, which meant traveling from Dallas, GA all the way to Atlanta, GA.  But despite the long trip, we really enjoyed the time we spent with my family.20151126_120702

The mantle in my parents’ house.  My mom has a crafty eye for decor as you will soon find out.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, this Thanksgiving day marks the first anniversary of the loss of our daughter.  My parents were acutely aware of this and gave me a lot of space to do what I needed to do.  Instead of being around a lot of people on Thanksgiving day, my mom created the entire feast for just the four of us (my dad, mom, Michael, and me).

Then, after dinner, my mom and I crafted.  By the end of it, we had mod podge all over our fingers, but I had a great time.  Plus, I got several neat decor pieces out of the project.  Below, I did the candles with the ribbon around them.  My mom gave me the frame and the ornaments that she did.


On Friday, we didn’t do much during the day, except get our toes done, which is a semi-tradition, and one thing I hope becomes a real tradition!  There is a nail salon near her house that does spa pedicures for $17!  That is quite a deal to me!20151127_115108

The rest of Friday was spent taking down Thanksgiving and putting up Christmas.  And Saturday, we exchanged presents with my parents and my grandmother.  I don’t know if I’m completely ready for the holiday season, but it has definitely had a great start!

Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions or semi-traditions that you want to make official traditions?

Do you celebrate Christmas at Thanksgiving with any parts of your family?


How to use a planner for an awesome trip to DC

I absolutely love using my planner as both a planning tool and a scrapbook.  I showed a way that I keep ticket stubs in my calendar in this post.  My trip to DC resulted in many different ticket stubs.  Stubs for banquet dinners.  Stubs for butterfly exhibits.  I wanted to include them all.  So this is the spread I created.

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Usually, I would think this spread looks really busy.  But I see it as a mosaic of wonderful memories on a trip with my husband.  Each piece is a reminder.  Of what we did.  Of what we saw.  This was my first try at creating a spread like this.  I imagine that our future trips will only get better.

How do you keep all your ticket memorabilia?

Washington, D.C.!

Our Wedding Anniversary is actually in December, but we usually plan a big trip in September or October to celebrate early (once we did it in January as well).  This past week for our anniversary, we went to Washington D.C.  There was an aquarium conference being held there that Michael wanted to go to, so we went a couple days early to see the city and celebrate our anniversary.

I had never been to D.C., so everything was a new experience.  This may be a little long, but I’m going to try to fit the visit into one post.  Here were the highlights:


We walked around the Zoo, which felt like a big park that had animals in it.  The pandas were unfortunately not out but it was for the best reason!  They had a cub born in August!


We toured the White House.  We had a secret service tour guide.  The security was crazy.  It was amazing that while we were touring these rooms, other people in other rooms were making decisions for the country.  On our tour, some of the chefs from the White House Kitchen were there with visiting chefs.  So, not only did we here from our official tour guide, we also had a second unofficial tour guide with us we well.  I loved seeing all the different presidential china, most of it pretty simple.


Then, we walked from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.  We walked by the Korean War Memorial, which was important to me because my grandpa, who just passed recently, was a Korean War Veteran.  The Lincoln Memorial was one of Michael’s favorites.  The Abraham Lincoln statue was huge!  On either side were two of his speeches.  I was in awe of how much history was here.  Reading these speeches, I couldn’t help thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr making his speech from here as well.


Toured the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum.  My favorite part was the Hope Diamond display.  The setting was gorgeous!  There was also a live coral reef there as well, though it wasn’t as impressive compared to a dedicated aquarium, but it was cool to be among the rest of the displays.  Between the two museums, we saw the Capitol, which was under construction.  At the Air and Space Museum, Michael liked the drones, and I thought being able to touch a lunar rock was pretty neat.


We also ate at a few neat places.  We tried to stay local.  So the first night, we went to Georgetown, which is a beautiful area.  We ate at a local burger place called the Good Stuff Eatery, which were known for their shakes, but we ate their burgers.  They were okay.  The fries were crispy.  But we passed on the shakes because we went across the street for DC cupcakes, or Georgetown cupcakes as they were known locally.  I had a coconut chocolate cupcake that had the perfect balance of coconut to chocolate.  However, I didn’t like the peanut butter chocolate cupcake.  Still, it was a pretty good night of food.


The next night, we ate at a restaurant close to the hotel called Hot and Juicy, a seafood sports bar.  It was a little more upscale than a normal sports bar.  I had crawfish and it came in a boil bag with its seasoning.  I tried the Hot and Juicy seasoning and it was so good!  And we smelled their food every time we walked from the hotel to the metro.  It was mouthwatering and the wait staff was friendly and helpful.  The other close restaurant to the hotel where we had dinner was called Open City.  They served breakfast all day, which Michael took advantage of, while I had a chicken burger with guacamole.  It was really good too!  I could see why this restaurant was a neighborhood favorite!


Most of the rest of our trip, we ate out of the hotel, but we did manage two other local restaurants.  GCDC is an upscale grilled cheese restaurant.  I had the Mediterranean grilled cheese, and it was delish!  Then, on our last night in the city, we ate at Founding Farmers.  The wait was an hour and a half, but we managed to get seats at the bar in about 15 or 20 minutes.  I had the lobster mac and cheese which was phenomenal.  We also got devil-ish eggs which were really good as well.

This city was overwhelming with history that changed the course of our country many times.  It was an incredible adventure.  We didn’t have time to see everything, but what we were able to see was incredible.  Hopefully, we will be back someday for another adventure!

Have you been to D.C.?  Did you take a tour?  Did you have a favorite local spot to eat?

Weekly Check In 3/15/15

This past week had a lot of ups and downs.  It started with phone calls from my family about my grandpa.  He fell the week before, and ended up in the hospital with confusion, and then they found a mass on his lung that has also gone to his lymph nodes.  However, by the end of this week, he was home and doing well despite being on oxygen and having to use a walker.

The main event of this past week was my brother’s wedding this weekend.  My brother’s wife (it’s cool to say that now) is from Panama City, Florida, which is where the wedding was.  It was really nice, despite spring break being in full swing.  We only had one loud moment in the middle of the night.  It lasted about 5-10 minutes and then that was it.  We had pretty restful nights, otherwise. 

We got in late Friday night, so we didn’t really get to see anyone.  Saturday morning, we met my parents at St. Andrew’s State Park for some time on the beach.  While you do have to pay $8, it is worth the money to be able to have a quieter experience compared to some of the public beaches in the area.  Now, I will be honest with you.  I am not a fan of the beach. It has a lot to do with the fact that I burn very easily.  Like step out onto the sand and I’m a lobster, easily.  I have to be very liberal with the sunscreen and coverings, which pretty much sequesters me to under an umbrella or a towel (my dad said I looked like I was wearing the towel like a burka).  But when I’m on vacation, that only works okay for a little while.  I will eventually want to get up and explore, make sand castles, float in the water – all activities requiring me to be in the sun, and then, I burn.

Anyway, we weren’t there very long, since we were going to lunch at 11:30, and then we needed to get ready for the wedding.  So between sunscreen, wearing a towel around my head and spending less than an hour in direct sunlight, I didn’t sunburn.  Seriously, this is a first!  After the beach, we ate at Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Grill for lunch.  It was SO good.  Michael and I shared a seafood combo platter which was plenty, and then we shared a piece of key lime pie (it was PI day after all!).

After that, we headed back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the wedding.  The wedding, itself, was simple, small and short, and absolutely perfect.  They recited I Corinthians 13 as their vows to each other (apparently, it was the same verses my brother used to propose – so romantic!).  Then, after the wedding, we headed to her mom’s house for a BBQ reception.  I managed at that point to get a selfie with the gorgeous bride.


I’m so happy for them both, and I hope that they have many, many years of wedded bliss together.  I’m so glad to have a girl like Michelle as part of my family.

We went to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel, because we had to drive to Pensacola for our flight today.  It’s been quite a long day, so I’m going to head to bed to rest up for the work week ahead.  I hope you all have had a wonderful week!  Check in with you next week!