December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

This was a year of...


Christmas 2013 Recap

This Christmas we traveled A LOT, and when it's all said and done I can say it was worth it to see everyone we wanted to see, but I don't know that we'd do a repeat of it in future years. Christmas as an adult is hard. Especially if you are married and you're trying to find time to celebrate with both sides of the family. You get one day off (or 2 if you're lucky) to celebrate the best holiday of the year, and with family members located in different states it's just not possible to see everyone on Christmas Day.

December 5, 2013

'Tis the Season + Free Printable

Despite the tasks we still need to complete in our house to make it functional year round, Christmas is upon us and the house must be decorated. "'Tis the season!" they say. There are lots of things that still need to be organized, half-emptied boxes lying around, and some blank walls here and there. But Christmas comes but once a year, so this week we got our decorations out and set up our tree! I have to admit, I really love having all of my Christmas decorations out, even if it seems a bit more cluttered in some areas. It's always fun to try new things with my Christmas decorations and play around with where to set things up. Of course it's all new in our new house, so that has been fun too!

November 11, 2013

Tips on Home Buying

Well, we are moved in! It's been a lot of work and at times I wanted to pull my hair out thinking about all of this junk that we have to organize, but we are slowing chipping away at it. I'm hoping to have some pictures to show you soon! Even if it's not totally "finished" I would love to do a tour of the house here on the blog. I took some "before" photos on my phone the morning before we moved our stuff in, and unfortunately those photos are gone. I accidentally washed my phone in the washing machine (don't ask) and anything after my last backup on iTunes on October 1st was lost. In better news, I think I have a little more knowledge on the iCloud now, so hopefully this won't happen again.

Anyway... back to the point of this post!

While it's still fresh on my mind, I wanted to share some tips we picked up on buying our first home. This is our first go-around with this whole process, and I know we're not experts. And this list is by no means exhaustive. But I thought I'd share some of the experience I've gained during this whole thing!

1. Research first, online and by driving around. Look at location, different price points, different styles of homes, etc. BEFORE you go out and look with a Realtor. Find out if price, location, or size is most important to you. For us, we wanted a very specific area, limited to only a few neighborhoods. Once we figured that out, we were able to see what type of house we could afford in our price range. I wanted a single family home but quickly realized that what we could afford was a townhouse, and that was okay because the location was more important to me. Use the internet and go drive around. It's worth it before you start touring homes!

2. Make a wishlist. I would actually say make two lists - one list of things that your house MUST HAVE, and another list of things that would be nice, but aren't deal-breakers. I gave these lists to our Realtor as well. Some things on our "must have" list were: garage, 3+ bedrooms, price, and the location we wanted. On our "would be nice" list we had: hardwood floors, updated kitchen, outdoor space, neighborhood pool. There is no right or wrong way to do this, it is totally up to you what's important to you (and your spouse or partner!).

3. Save. This might be obvious, but even if you are not doing a full 20% down payment, you will have so much to pay for and it's wise to have a good amount of savings on top of the amount you've saved for a down payment. Things like closing costs, the home inspection, moving costs, installation fees for moving your cable or satellite service, etc. are all extra costs not included in the purchase price and they can add up really fast. You also have no idea what may happen in the first few months (AC unit breaking down, water heater leaking...). Even though buying a home is technically better in the long run, it's expensive beyond just the cost of the house, and it's good to be prepared before jumping in.

October 24, 2013

We Bought a House!

Yesterday, we closed on our very first home! We signed about a million pieces of paper, handed over a very large check, and just like that, we were homeowners. We drove over to the new place and just walked around in the empty rooms - this place is ours! And it's such a good feeling.

October 17, 2013

You should make this bread

While I love me some fresh bread, I don't have the time to spend all day making it like I did here. When I saw this recipe, it looked fairly simple and didn't seem like it would take that long so I gave it a whirl on a random week night. And I'm SO glad I did. This bread is flavorful and perfect for toasting for breakfast. Add a little cinnamon sugar or strawberry jam on top and you're good to go. The best part is that this bread is so easy and simple. I whipped up the dough of only 5 ingredients, let it rise while I watched a TV show, baked it in the oven for 30 minutes, and then let it cool. I actually halved this recipe and it worked really well!

October 15, 2013

A post about stuff

We have 8 days until we close on our first home.

8 days to pack, declutter, and prep for the move to our new place.

In the past few weeks since we made our initial offer on the house, I've found myself scouring the websites of World Market, Pottery Barn, Target, Ikea, and Joss & Main for things to fill up our new home. It is so easy to get caught up in all of these things I think we need - a sectional couch for the living room, a new bedspread for the master bedroom, Pottery Barn drapes, a large bookshelf. In all honesty, we have all of these things already in one way or another, and we are not going to be "house poor" by any means. The new house is not really any bigger than our current rental, so we don't actually need anything. Yes, we will probably buy that sectional couch because we do actually want more seating in the living room. It would certainly serve a purpose. But we can live without it for a little while.

On the other hand, I find myself rummaging through all of our things and looking for things we can pitch or give away. Does this make any sense? Probably not.

October 8, 2013

Etsy Faves

I have been going crazy with Etsy lately. So many things, all unique, and usually a decent price. A few of my purchases are things for myself, but a lot of my shopping has been gifts for friends and family. As the holidays approach us, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite shops and items. Some are recent purchases, some are long time loves, and some are just on my wishlist*. Enjoy!

Perfect for fall decorating (if you're a Hokie anyway).
She also has some other cute state prints and stationery!

September 26, 2013

Our next adventure

Fall is unexpectedly proving to be a busy season for us.

It started off with my cousin's wedding on Labor Day weekend, then we went to the beach for a weekend with my in-laws to soak up the last bits of summer. Thankfully we had a couple weekends at home after that, which were so, so nice and refreshing. We went to the farmers' market, watched Hokie football, grilled out, biked, and enjoyed time with friends. Oh yeah, and we also started looking at houses.

And guess what? WE BOUGHT A HOUSE.

August 27, 2013

Home Reveal: Guest Bedroom

Tonight my mom is coming to stay with us on her way down south for my cousin's wedding this weekend, and I thought it was only fitting to finally share pictures of the guest bedroom. This was one of the first rooms I got set up when we moved here as I was really excited to have an official place for family and friends to stay when they come visit. We were really lucky to be gifted these two twin beds from Michael's family, as well as a twin mattress, and my family donated a twin mattress as well. Michael slept in these beds all throughout his childhood, and then took them to college with him.

August 15, 2013

Renting & living

I want to buy a house.

I'm not discontent where I am. I actually really love the townhouse that we're currently renting. I love our brick patio. I love being right around the corner from the grocery store. I love walking and running through the neighborhood. But sometimes I really just want it to be ours. I want to fix the chandelier that's located in a very awkward place in the dining room because we keep bumping our heads on it (not to mention it's u-g-l-y). I want to paint all the walls. I want to add a screen door in the kitchen so we don't have to shut the big one every time we go in or out for fear that bugs will get inside (they always do anyway) and so that I can talk to Michael while he's grilling. I want to paint all the trim and molding bright white because some of it is white and some of it is off-white and it's really bothering me. I want to strip the wallpaper in the kitchen and paint the walls and add a pretty tiled backsplash.

I know these things cost money. And we probably wouldn't be able to do them all if we owned the place, because of some little things called budget and saving for the future. But it sure would be nice to have the option. To save a for a project and do it ourselves and be proud of our accomplishments.

I know that since we don't know where we'll be in the next few years, it's probably best to keep our options open until we have more solid jobs that we love and can count on staying in for more than a couple years. I don't know if this piece of the world is our forever place. We need to be a bit more sure about that first.

I also know that we are blessed for this to even be something that's an option in our future. I know some people can barely cover their bills or have a lot of debt and buying may not be an option for them ever. I know that the place we currently live in is comfortable and nice and bigger than we really need. We are blessed for certain.

July 26, 2013

Talking about social media via social media

I've been hearing a lot of buzz about the effects of social media on our lives and speculation on how they will affect society long term. Articles on this topic (most often with a focus on millennials) are everywhere. I've seen people do media fasts and give up all social networks for a certain period of time, from a week to a month to a year. I am sometimes inspired to do one myself, but honestly I always back out because I feel like I'll miss too much if I don't stay connected somewhat. I like knowing what's going on in my friends' lives and seeing a random snippet from their day, or sometimes seeing something exciting like buying a house or getting engaged.

The problem with completely fasting from social media is that these days we use these avenues to communicate. The people who say, "oh I don't do Facebook, I don't like that stuff," are pretty much saying the same thing as, "oh, I don't do email," or "I don't believe in having a telephone." I'm sure people were resistant to the telephone when it was first invented, but when the world becomes dependent on it and you are the one who is choosing not to use it, it actually cripples you and you might miss out on important information. Communication is the most valuable thing in our lives, because it gives us access to ideas, information, and people. We can't live long without communicating, or we start to go crazy.

But I often wonder if there is a way to do it better. I think having so many different avenues of communication - write on her Facebook wall! tweet him! comment on her blog! text her! email them! send her a snapchat! comment on her instagram photo! - can dilute the specialness of connecting with someone. And while I am probably not going to ever give up these social media apps, I'm realizing I can't rely completely on them. I feel a distinct difference in connecting with someone when it's an email or text versus a Facebook post or a tweet. I think it's something about being private and knowing that person really wanted to talk to me and not just throw words out to the world with my name tagged to it. Obviously a phone call or a face to face meeting trumps all of these things, and I could never get by without having that kind of communication daily.

A couple thoughts:

1. The very nature of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blogging is such that it causes us to quantify our friendships instead of qualifying them. Without thinking about it, I sometimes find myself counting likes, comments, and followers instead of focusing on the person who is liking and commenting.

July 23, 2013

A Wedding in Maryland

We have had quite a few weddings to attend this year. This one was probably the most unique wedding I had been to, mainly because of the people involved. One of my good friends from college fell in love with a British boy, and they have dated transcontinentally for the past 3 years, to finally get married this past weekend. I was honored to be asked to do a reading in the wedding ceremony, so I got to participate in all of the weekend festivities. It was such a blast meeting all of the groom's British family members and friends! I think I pictured them being a bit stand-offish because everyone always says that Americans are so much nicer and friendlier than Europeans. But honestly, these people were some of the nicest people I've ever met. It was also a wonderful treat to hear them speak - loved their accents. They were so sweet and fun to get to know, and I'm so glad that my friend is so blessed to marry into such a wonderful family. She is moving to England after they sort through all of the legal red tape (which unfortunately may take a few months), and it is going to be weird not having her in the same country. As I've written about before, my college friends and I try to get together a couple times a year, and even though we are all spread out in different areas, we have been able to keep up that tradition for the past 3 years. It is going to be different not having Sarah be a part of those get togethers. But it is so nice knowing that she will be taken care of by her husband and his family. All I can say is I cannot wait to visit her in England!

July 10, 2013

Gallery Wall: Updated!

The past couple weeks I've been inspired to change up the gallery wall. I felt like it was lacking something, and I knew it could be put together a little more beautifully.

I don't really have a good straight-on view, but here is what it looked like before (click here to see the full living room post):

July 9, 2013

July 4th at the beach

This past weekend was wonderful. Although we had to work on Friday, we made the best of it and took a day trip to the beach at Topsail Island with friends for the 4th of July. It only took a couple hours to get there and it was totally worth it! We brought coolers full of drinks and snacks, set up cornhole and our beach chairs, and parked it on the beach for a solid 5 hours. We had so much fun! After several days of rain, the weather was perfect - it was comfortable sitting on the beach but hot enough to still want to get in the water. A seafood restaurant on the sound called our names for dinner before getting on the road to drive home. We did not see fireworks as we were driving while they were happening, but going to the beach on the 4th of July is something I could get used to. It just felt right. Work on Friday went by really fast, and then it was the weekend again! We got to relax, go to dinner together, grill out at home, watch Indentity Theft at our friends' house, and get things done at home like laundry, vacuuming, and a fun project that I will share soon. While I didn't exactly have a long weekend, it sure felt like one. I'm just really glad it's summer and I wish this season lasted longer!

July 2, 2013

What I'm Up To

Hello to the Internet world! I'll resume my France posts soon. But for now, here's what I'm up to right now:

Making Blueberry Zucchini Bread
with our produce box goodies

Reading these books

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
I started this book a little unsure of how interested I'd be in the story, but I had heard from so many people it was great that I decided to give it a shot. Several times have I almost busted out laughing mid-read, it's that funny. I also failed to notice that the author is one of the writers for Arrested Development. It has just as many awkward, ironic situations as you would picture and more. Such clever writing. I'm almost finished and a little sad about it.

June 20, 2013

France: A day trip to Ventimiglia, Italy

Let's get back to the France trip! Shall we?

This post isn't really about France though. This is the one day that I left the country and dipped my toes in the Italian shore. A group of us heard that it only takes an hour to get to Italy, so we decided to take a day trip out to this little Italian coastal town literally right across the border. Ventimiglia was so charming and so quaint that I just wanted to stay there forever. While it was very similar to the French coastal towns, it felt distinctly different and was full of a totally unique culture and language. We ate lunch at a cute little restaurant that was so perfect. I had the BEST pasta of my life. Not exaggerating here. Really, the best. We walked through the town and went down to the coast, which we found was covered in large pebbles! I had never seen a beach like that. We may or may not have seen a few topless Italians.

We finished the day off with gelato and then took the train home. I'm so glad we took the time to explore a different area not included in our itinerary. I know it was a random town that no one has ever heard of, but I can say I've been to Italy! One day hopefully I will see the rest.

June 19, 2013


This past weekend my baby brother graduated high school. He is the last of our family to finish high school and move into adulthood, and all of us were so proud! You can tell by the smile on his face that he is, too. He is going away to college in August and will be doing the ROTC program. He's got a lot of life stretched out in front of him and I may be a tad jealous. Not that I'm old or anything (I know I still have a LOT to look forward to myself), but that summer before college is one of the most exciting times. So much lies ahead in those next few years and it's amazing to discover how it all plays out. What you learn. What you choose to do and what you choose not to do. The friendships you build. The places you go. I'm really excited for him to experience all of that!

It also worked out that I was in town the weekend of my college friend's bridal shower. She is marrying a Brit this summer and moving to England so I am trying to see her as much as I can now! I have hopes to pay her a visit overseas in the next couple years. It was so fun to be there on her special day and shower her with love. I'm looking forward to her wedding in July that will be another college reunion!

June 11, 2013

France: Monaco

On this excursion, we actually did a legit field trip to a famous hotel to discuss the business aspects of technology and hospitality. While that was exciting, the better part of the day was when we got to explore Monaco. And lucky us, we were right smack in the middle of the setup for the annual Grand Prix! It was quite a sight to see, and I have never seen that quantity of expensive cars in my life. The Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis, and Paganis were literally parked on the streets everywhere we went. We also got to see the gorgeous Monte Carlo Casino! [We didn't go in because it cost money just to get in. Clearly we were on quite a different level than those Ferrari drivers.] Did you know Monaco is actually its own government entity? It is a principality that is geographically located within France, but is totally excluded from French government and law. It's the second smallest and most densely populated country in the world. Due to seeing references to Grace Kelly everywhere (she was the famous American actress who was also princess of Monaco), it was not surprising that there was lot of quoting of the "Can I have your number?" video. Stupid Americans. Stupid Americans we were. And ashamed we were not.

Enjoy the pics of my day in Monaco!

June 10, 2013

France: Cannes Film Festival

Because my trip was organized through a study abroad program, we had a lot of group activities built into the calendar. Class wasn't really first priority for our professors - hands on activities were. And we were not complaining one bit. The first thing we did outside of Antibes was visit the city of Cannes during the infamous Cannes Film Festival. I had high hopes of spotting Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, or Julia Roberts, but alas, we did not see anyone famous! We did, however, get to see the festival itself and explore the gorgeous city that is Cannes. The festival felt a lot like an American festival, just in a European city. We walked around like tourists, seeing all of the hullabaloo going on for the festival, ate lunch at a cute little outdoor cafe, and people watched. It was hot and crowded, but it was a great day for exploring.

June 7, 2013

France: Arriving in Antibes

Throughout my junior year of college, I had several friends do semester-long study abroad programs and got to hear about their amazing experiences. I have always loved travel, but seeing it through my friends' photos and experiences really got me interested. I realized that there was no better time than while I was in school to do a long trip overseas, because once I started working in the real world, how much time off would I really have (and not to mention money)? I knew I didn't have the money to do an entire semester, and honestly I didn't want to miss out on a whole semester of my senior year of college. So when I heard about this summer program in the French Riviera that my business school was offering, I attended an interest meeting and immediately knew I needed to apply.

Over winter break I discussed it with my dad, and he basically told me that he was willing to make it happen but that I would be paying for it in student loans later. I knew I would have student loans to pay when I graduated anyway, and I figured what's a few thousand more dollars in the whole grand scheme of things? Having an opportunity to travel with a group of peers for an entire month and explore places I had always wanted to see was not something I could put a dollar amount on. I knew the experience would be worth far more than the extra debt I would carry after school. I decided that this trip was worth it. And let me tell you - it totally was.

June 6, 2013

A trip down memory lane: My Study Abroad in France

Back in 2009 I went on a summer study abroad trip to France for a month. It was in between my junior and senior years in college and it really is in the top five best decisions I've ever made in life. I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to go overseas and really experience the French culture for longer than just a week long vacation. I don't know if there's ever another time in my life where I'll get to do that!

May 28, 2013

Instagram Snapshots :: Spring 2013

1. A weekend away in Asheville. Michael had a conference so I tagged along! We hiked, toured the Grove Park Inn where the conference was, spent time in downtown Asheville, and had the best pizza of my life.
2. New summer bedspread! Our room tends to get really hot in the summer, so I swapped out our down comforter for this lightweight quilt I found on online. Of course that meant I needed new sheets as well. I love the fresh, white look and it's nice to have something different after almost 3 years of using the darker blue duvet gifted to us for our wedding.
3. We love when college friends get married, because that means it's always a reunion! It was so fun to see some good friends who I hadn't seen in a while, especially the one who recently had a baby!
4. This is actually from when my sisters came to visit in February. So ridiculous.
5. One of our gorgeous spring days here in NC! I hate having to work during weather like this.
6. We went camping in Tennessee and even though the weather was terrible we had a blast. It was pouring on the second night, so we opted to stay in a hotel that night, but it was still a lot of fun! We treated ourselves to crepes in Asheville on our way home. Mmm!
7. Trying to get fit for summer! This has been an ongoing process since January, but with the recent weather and the purchase of new running shoes it has been much easier to want to get outside and be active!
8. Some snapshots from our vacation to Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. That place was heaven, I tell you! Read the recap here.
9. I took the plunge and threw my first surprise party ever for Michael's 27th. He may or may not have had a few clues, but overall the party was a huge success and we had so much fun with our friends who came to celebrate with us!
10. This is the best roasted veggie combo I've made, I think ever. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes! It also helped that I used regular olive oil instead of extra virgin. See why in this post by Chris Loves Julia.
11. We had a family wedding to go to in Charlotte last weekend, so my whole family got to go out on my in-laws' boat on Lake Norman for the afternoon on Sunday. It was a perfect day. I am so sore from wakeboarding, but I am really amazed that I could still do it!
12. We sorted through all of my late grandpa's old pocket knives with my dad's family. He had quite the collection and it was neat to see all the different places he had collected them from.
13. Spending time with my mom and sisters cooking a Memorial Day feast was exactly how I wanted to end my 3-day weekend. So much fun to be with them & all of my dad's family!


Want to follow along? Check me out on instagram.

May 22, 2013

On Being a Grown-up

A conversation with my niece while playing with play-doh:

Her: "What's a wild animal we can make with the red play-doh?"
Me: "Hmm. A bird? What about a red bird?"
Her: "No, a wild animal!"
Me: "Haha, okay... maybe a fox?"
Her: thinking... "Laura, can you make me a fox out of the red play-doh?"
Me: "Maybe, I'm not sure I know how."
Her: "Of course you do!"
Me: "Why?"
Her: "Because you're a grown-up, and grown-ups know how to do everything."

Kids say the darndest things. It's especially funny when they say them with 100% confidence. What's weird is that I actually remember thinking that as a little kid. Grown-ups knew everything. They were confident in all that they did, and their knowledge was infinite. I never once thought that my parents had questions or insecurities about their life, their jobs, or raising their kids. I used to tell my dad he should be the president because I really believed he would be the best at it. I know now that he would probably hate it, because he takes  f o r e v e r  to make decisions (I mean come on, engineers are just not made to be politicians). My mom always knew the right words to say when I needed help or I was frustrated or I didn't know what to do in a situation (she still does). But I know now that she has a lot of doubt and insecurities about her own decisions. It was a weird feeling when I realized that.

And here I am. A "grown-up," living life and making decisions for myself and with my husband, confident in some of those but unsure about a lot of them. I think the hardest thing about becoming an adult is realizing that you never reach that feeling of having it all together. I always pictured that feeling being a given when I got older. It's almost like I expected to feel the transition from child to adult. When I graduated college, things definitely felt different but that was mostly because I moved away from friends and the weight of the responsibility for my life finally hit my shoulders for good. But I did not feel any more confident than I felt when I left for college at 18. I still felt insecure, unsure that I was making good decisions, and waiting for that aha moment when I finally could have it all together. That feeling never came. In the past three years I've grown and changed, and while I don't feel completely confident in all I'm doing, it's nice to know that I'm not alone. I think what's changed is my perspective more than anything. I've come to realize that we're all in the same boat, wondering if what we're doing will turn out okay. There's comfort in that.

The thing is, it's in those moments where I have to make tough decisions, that I have experienced the most growth. Yes, I rely on help from the Lord and from people I trust around me, but still a lot of things in life are simply moments where I have to take a leap of faith. I've learned to jump wholeheartedly into the unknown, and trust that I'll know what to do when I get there. And if I don't, I'll improvise.The more leaps of faith I take, the less timid I am. When I look back and see how I've grown, I can confidently say that I am not the same person I was three years ago - in a good way.

I am thankful for growth. I am thankful for change. And I am thankful for a world that pushes me to make decisions that I don't want to make, because I am a better person for it.

May 20, 2013


Well, we pulled it off. We surprised Michael for his birthday, and I think we got him (mostly!). There was lots of planning involved - hiding food and decorations in random places in the house and in other people's houses, and soliciting help from others because let me tell you, it's hard planning a surprise party for someone you live with! Michael turns 27 on Wednesday, so I wanted to surprise him on a birthday that wasn't supposed to be a big one. He was mostly surprised (even if he wasn't totally, he had a great reaction) and he was definitely excited to see so many people at our house to celebrate his birthday with him. He was also really surprised that I asked his parents to come up for it, too. So glad that I could make him feel special! A word to the wise: have your surprise party for someone at a different house than the one they live in. It would make it so much easier to get things set up ahead of time. But I'm so glad I did it and thankful to all the friends who showed up to make it memorable!

May 16, 2013

Little tidbits

photo by Blythe K Photography

Little City Radio. Just listen. So good! Thank you Kate & Anna for enlightening me.

+ Ghettofy your twitter. Search your @ twitter name and see your twitter feed look gangsta. Hilarious!

+ This TED Talk. Seriously inspiring. Don't waste time in your 20s - make them count!

+ The First Love sermon series my church just finished up last weekend. Every single one is solid truth for relationships, for those single or married. I really loved this series, and I love my church!

+ Just recently started following Our Freaking Budget and I love it already. It's all about being smart with your money. I'm on board with that.

The difference between olive oils. This explains why I'm always burning things on the stove but not getting them fully cooked. Extra virgin is not always the "right" oil to use.

+ I'm pretty overdue for a new computer - my laptop is the one I got for my first year of college and it's almost 7 years old. I'm just grateful it's lasted me this long! So I ordered a new computer this week (thanks to Michael doing hours and hours of research). Bad for the bank account, but totally fun for me. I'm hoping I get it in time for the weekend so I can get it all set up!

+ On the menu for this weekend: BBQ pork in the crockpot, mac & cheesepink lemonade punch, and spending time outside. I hope it's good weather!

I'm really, really, really ready for Friday. Who's with me?

May 14, 2013


Last week we were on vacation. And when I say vacation, I mean we went to one of the most relaxing, beautiful, quintessentially southern places we've ever been to. And it was glorious! Michael's granddad was generous enough to host a vacation for the whole family down in Bluffton, SC at a magical resort (and I don't ever use the word "magical" lightly) that was basically a little Southern town right on the water, with a similar feel to the little town of Beaufort. We stayed in the cute little village in one of those old, southern style homes with a big huge porch and wide planked floors.

We biked, we kayaked, and we climbed tree houses. We saw alligators and green lizards and dolphins. We lounged by the pool and roasted s'mores by the fire. We did some serious front porch sittin'. We played with our nieces and nephews, who are all too much fun! It really was the best week ever.

Most of the time, I am ready to come home after a trip away from home. Not often do I wish I could stay on vacation because I like being at home where I'm comfortable and have my things and my routine. This was one of the few places I've been where I just wanted to stay forever. It just felt like home. I felt like I was in a dream, and I literally did not think about work or everyday stresses at all the whole time we were down there. Even though it was hard to leave, I came home feeling rested and just all sorts of good feelings inside. And that, my friends, is how a vacation should leave you.