“…in a world where there are October’s…”

It has become super cliche over the past few years, but I love October. Yes, I’m just another woman obsessed with boots, sweaters and pumpkin flavored everything. It’s also more than that. For me, it’s always been the beginnings that I see in this month. Maybe its because I was proposed to in October. Maybe it was because the very next year, I stood in front of family and friends and said always to my husband in October. Cliche or not, this is my luckiest and favorite month.

When I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, October turned the mountains into an entirely different place. Sunrises hit the colorful trees and set the mountains on fire. Early morning hikes where you could see your breath in front of you, but by the time you finished you were warm and breathless were my favorite.

Don’t get me wrong. I love summer. But I am always ready for it to end long before it does. There is a limit to how many cook outs and beach days my heart can handle. Apple picking is always better then a barbecue. I’d prefer a corn maze over the pool any day, but maybe I’m biased. That’s where my husband proposed.

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The older I get, the less time I get to enjoy this month and this season. Part of it is because I no longer live in the mountains. It is the 15th today and there is a high of 81. This is definitely not sweater weather! It’s hard to get into the Fall frame of mind when you’re still wearing shorts. But it’s not just that, it’s the limited time I have of late. October is always my busiest month. Instead of spending yesterday apple picking, we pressure washed our house. Necessary, but not nearly as much fun. I tend to live my life by to-do lists, but this season I want to focus on a different type of list. Below is my bucket list for the month and I want to cross off as much as possible in the next 16 days. Here’s to enjoying life and not just completing a to-do list!

  • Apple picking
  • Watch Football
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Watch a scary movie
  • Corn maze
  • Go through a haunted house
  • Make chocolate chip pumpkin bread
  • Travel to Savannah
  • Celebrate my 3rd anniversary with my husband
  • Drink a caramel apple spice or a pumpkin spice latte
  • Give out Halloween candy
  • Decorate for Halloween and Thanksgiving
  • Make chili
  • Play fantasy football
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Traveling to Hogwarts

I read my first Harry Potter book in 4th grade, and I immersed myself in an entirely new world. It was an exciting world, a world where witches, trolls, and werewolves roamed, where magic was real and the impossible was possible. Somehow, without ever stepping foot in Hogwarts, that world defined me. The story took residence in my soul and I lived it over and over again. Dumbledore’s wisdom got me through middle and high school and somehow my love of all things magical never wavered.

Sometime in middle school, the movies started coming out and I was able to see the world I had spent years envisioning. Instead of satisfying my desire to live in the world of Harry Potter, it only strengthened my yearning to be a part of it.

When I discovered there would be a Harry Potter theme park, it was an immediate bucket list item. Despite being in my 20’s, I experienced the same rush as when I was 9 and pouring over Rowling’s words for the first time. I could finally live out the dream I had harbored for 20 years. I never actually received my acceptance letter but I would, at some point, be going to Hogwarts.

It took longer than I thought before I was able to make the trip, but my husband and I finally made it last year. I’ve tried to describe my experience there, but I can only come up with one word: Magical. Everything about that experience was everything I wanted it to be, with the exception of it ending at the end of day.

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My first view into the world of Harry Potter

We spent too many galleons on wands, hippogriffs, and fizzing whizbees and I don’t regret it. We rode on the Hogwarts express and after years of imagining what it would taste like, I was finally able to try butterbeer. On a hot and humid July day in Florida, it was well worth the decades long wait. We traveled to 12 Grimmauld Place and spent hours exploring the shops in Hogsmeade.

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Enjoying our second butter beer of the day.
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Hogwarts Express

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I was amazed by the amount of detail that went into creating this world. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I saw someone break out their wand and perform a spell, and as a matter of fact, it did happen. The interactive wands within the park were such a nice touch and made the world even more believable.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, our trip to the world I’ve lived in for almost 20 years was over, but I know I will be going back someday. I can’t wait to introduce our future kids to this world and let them believe in magic for as long as they desire.

In the meantime, I will have to settle for rereading the series over these butterbeer cupcakes. See the recipe here:

Butterbeer Cupcakes

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Florida Trip pt 2; The Foodie Version

Foodie (n): a person with a particular interest in food

You probably don’t know this yet, but I am a foodie. That word gets a lot of flack and sarcasm. How can you be a foodie when we all need food to survive? How hipster of you!

But food is a lot more than my bodies nourishment. If you want to truly understand people, you can start with what and how they put food into their body. Do they eat hand held food from street vendors while on the go or do they sit for hours and savor each course over wine with friends and family? Do they eat farm to table or is the food fried and covered in cheese? It varies by country of course, but it also changes drastically between states and even cities. I immerse myself in the local culture through food and the rest follows.

Sometimes when I travel, I can’t help but act like a tourist (Hello Irish Coffees at the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco). But most times, my husband and I try to eat like a local. We find spots with local ingredients. Local Beer. Local Wine. I spend hours before every trip looking at the food, finding amazing restaurants or bars that are must sees. I make endless lists of where we should go for lunch or dinner in different parts of a city or which places we will go out of the way for. A lot of times, I get to the city and scrap those lists. If I found it on the internet, other tourists probably found it as well. Sometimes I wander in to any door that looks interesting and sit at a table and people watch. Though the best choices come when I speak to a local. They always wind up referring us to the best cheap, hole in the wall place with the most authentic food.

 

When we took our trip to Florida this year, of course, I was excited about food. I love seafood and Florida has some of the best. Add in our trip to St. Augustine which has such a rich history and with it, amazing food, and I was in Heaven. My only regret was not taking pictures of all our meals.

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Oysters on the half shell in Clearwater
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Some almost disgustingly sweet but good beach drinks to kick off the vacation
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Crab Legs at a little beach shack. 
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Probably the best breakfast biscuits I’ve ever had. Please go to Maple Street Biscuit Company in St. Augustine and order The Squawking Goat. It’s seriously the best. 
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Homemade, all natural ice pops. I tried Pineapple Cilantro and Kevin had Avocado Coconut
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Ice Plant Bar. Probably one of the coolest bars I’ve been to. Just go.
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St Augustine Distillery

 

Florida Trip, part 1

I’ve been back from vacation for less than a week and I’m not adjusting well to real life. Every morning, I wake up anticipating adventure, great food, and the sun beating down while I float on an inner tube in the lazy river. For a few blissful minutes, I stretch out in bed and enjoy the feeling of total peace. Then I remember that my alarm is actually going off because I have a job and responsibilities and stress. Yay!

As an escape, I have been reliving my vacation constantly.

We woke up at 2 AM for the ride down to Florida and were on the road by 2:30. We headed straight to one of my favorite beaches in Florida: Clearwater. I feel like this beach represents everything it means to be on vacation. There’s white sand beaches, a tiki bar by the water, and a nightly festival at the pier.

The next day we went snorkeling in Tierra Verde. When my alarm went off that morning, I regretted booking the trip. I was exhausted from the day before and wasn’t even sure if I would be able to see in the murky water. I quickly turned off my alarm and hoped Kevin would oversleep, but no such luck. It turns out a beautiful day on the water was just what I needed. We were able to see schools of fish and even a few jelly fish. After snorkeling, we went and explored Edgemont Key. With the heat, we cut our exploring short and just bobbed around in the water near our boat. Then it was time to head to Orlando.

I’ll be honest – I’m not a fan of Orlando. If you are going to the parks, it’s great but otherwise it’s overrated and overcrowded. Our hotel had a few pools and a lazy river and that was really all we wanted from the next few days.

We planned on a day trip to St. Augustine in between our Orlando pool days, but we were too tired and knew we wouldn’t enjoy it. Instead, we extended our vacation with a night in St Augustine at the end of our trip and I am so glad we did.

St. Augustine was easily the highlight of our vacation.  There was so much culture and history there and I was immediately charmed. The streets were walk-able and the sites beautiful. My only regret was that we couldn’t stay longer but I foresee another trip to St. Augustine in my future.

I adore the memories we made on this trip and a part of me wishes I was still there. But Kevin and I have two smaller trips planned for the rest of the year and until then, these pictures will just have to do!

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Clearwater Beach – Isn’t it beautiful?
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Where we spent the morning snorkeling
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Edgemont Key
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Exploring Edgemont Key
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Where we planted ourselves for a few straight days in Orlando
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Oldest schoolhouse in America
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We drank from the Fountain of Youth!

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Peacocks
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Castillo De San Marcos

 

Wanderlust

Seven years ago when my husband and I took our first vacation, we fell in love with traveling, with getting lost in a new place together. And so our bucket list began. For every trip we take, it seems we add 10 more destinations.

We typically migrate to cities: Washington D.C., San Francisco, LA, Portland, Charleston, etc. We wake up early, charge up with coffee and then go all day until we fall, exhausted and sore, into bed every night. And we love it. We created our own historical bar hop in DC, went brewery to brewery in Portland, and spent hours playing tourist in San Francisco. (If you’ve never been to San Francisco, please go. I would live there if I could). We’ve logged more miles walking through side streets trying to find local hole in the wall places than I can count. We’ve visited Hogwarts, tried and failed to fit in with the college crowd on Bourbon Street, and stuck our feet in the freezing Pacific Ocean. My heart holds some of my very favorite memories with my husband from these trips.

But this year, I just don’t have it in me. We started planning our vacation and we began with a combo trip to Boston and Maine, but my heart wasn’t in it.  That was my first sign. I’ve been dreaming of Boston for the past decade and have been looking forward to my first visit but this year it held no excitement for me. We started talking about other adventures and cities we could travel to, and still, I didn’t feel the thrill I usually do. And that’s when it hit me – I’m exhausted.

This summer my soul craves a slower pace and my body needs rest. I want a salty sea breeze. Cold drinks beside the pool with a book and my favorite travel partner. Snorkeling. Walks on the beach. Seafood.

So we changed our plans. I’m so incredibly thankful for a husband who always seems to be on the same page. Boston can wait until we are ready for it. In just over two weeks, we are headed to Florida for a week of relaxation and I honestly can’t wait. Apart from one day trip to explore every possible inch we can of St. Augustine, it will be just us, the sun, and a few books.

15 days and counting!