Tampa Lucky Run 5K Race Recap

On Saturday morning, I ran the Inaugural Tampa Lucky Run 5K.

Reasons I ran this race:

1.) Close to my house

2.) Holiday race

3.) Discount through Orange Theory and we had a “team” running

4.) I had been dying for a 5K PR and thought I was ready.

I really didn’t do much “research” on the race, but realized it may be a bit disorganized when the only thing we were told about packet pickup was that it was Friday at New Balance at the Outlet mall (race was also at the outlet mall). I emailed AND posted on Facebook asking if we could get our bibs Saturday morning…crickets. Finally the afternoon before the race I got an answer. Yes we could.

Saturday morning we had very unusual weather for Tampa, as in it was 46 when we got to the outlet mall! I wasn’t mad about it though, I much prefer running in the cold so I knew it made my chances better for a PR. We parked the car, and walked over to where everyone was gathered. I looked for a table to get my bib…and was told they hadn’t arrived yet. Apparently New Balance was supposed to bring them and they hadn’t shown up yet and were not answering their phones. #Fail. This is also when I learned this was an inaugural race. Dang it. I usually avoid those like the plague because of, well…this. I did feel bad for the race director though he was really trying to make the best out of the situation and was apologizing to everyone.

I took this waiting time to find the bathroom. One huge plus of the race was we had access to the “regular” (nice and clean) outlet mall bathrooms, yay!

So then the bibs came but they had no safety pins. I told Bobby I probably had some old ones in the car from past races and he went back to look. I guess this is the one time I can be happy my car is filthy and never gets cleaned out? So in the meantime they were duct taping bibs on to people. Duct tape. Bless it. About the time Bobby came back with four pins (he also told me I may get tetanus because they were very rusty and gross) pins arrived so no duct tape bib for me.

Then the race shirts arrived and it was a hot mess trying to get in line to get those. I had pre-registered so was waiting for my small and they couldn’t find any. About that time everyone was lining up and the race was about to start! I told Bobby to get my shirt and I ran over to the start line. I was frantically trying to untangle my headphones (shocker) and get my GPS to get satellite and it did just before the race started, so no time to warm up or stretch, but oh well.

Oh, one more thing. I had said that I didn’t really research the race (totally my fault) and as I was cursing my headphones in their huge wad of hatred and knots, I heard them say we were making two laps around the parking lot. Say what? This is what happens when Heather assumes. I assumed the race would run out on the road then maybe wind through the outdoor corridors where the shops are. Nope. We were literally running 3.1 miles in the mall parking lot. Two laps.

Not only was it two laps, but I would come to learn it was two laps full of very sharp cutting left turns up and down rows in the parking lot. My right knew is bad so I literally had to stop running and turn because I can’t twist my knee like that when running quickly so it messed up my cadence terribly. Again, totally my bad for not checking it out, but really? A parking lot?

Ok I can do this. I really wanted that PR. So I started out on the first lap with a goal of keeping my pace under 8:30. I stayed between 8:00 and 8:20 for the first mile and a half/lap. I however got a little discouraged going around doing the same thing AGAIN. When I got to about mile 2.5 I started to really struggle and I looked up and saw Bobby!

He didn’t have my child with him which was super confusing but I literally didn’t have the energy to ask him where she was so I just kept running. #MomofTheYear

I was however a little confused when I saw that my watch said 2.53 and I kind of calculated in my head where we were on the course, which was not that far from the finish. I thought oh well…math has never been my strong suit, so I pressed on, and turned the final corner and could see the finish line.

So my eyes are bad, but I knew I saw a 23 on the clock and knew something wasn’t right. I KNEW I had not run paces in the 7:00’s the whole time. It all (slowly) started to click that the course was short. NNNOOOO! I crossed at 23:47, and after recovering for a second saw that the course was about two tenths short. Sad times!

However, I did some quick calculations based on my average pace and what distance I needed to make it a 5K, and I still got a killer PR of 25:30! (Previous PR was 27:13)

Bobby and Emma Kate even missed me finishing because he had started a timer when I started running so he would know when to circle back to the finish to watch me, and he also knew I couldn’t run a 23:45. He was just starting to walk up when I crossed, hence why I have no finish line photos.

Oh, I also found out that Emma Kate was playing on the (within sight) mall playground when Bobby came out back to film me. Apparently she didn’t want to watch me run by so he just left her there (seriously he was like 100 feet away. I really don’t need hate emails about child neglect k thanks.) He even said “I thought you would ask where she was when you passed” and I told him I had no energy to even speak ha!

So while I love holiday races on cool mornings close to my house with good bathrooms that I get at a discount, I do NOT like running laps zig zagging around mall parking lots with duct taped bibs and late starts and no communication. Oy. They did try hard and I hope they now can do better next year. The money went to a good cause so I hope they don’t give up. Oh, and while I was running Bobby DID manage to snag me a shirt in the right size. So all was not lost. Heh. I am now the happy owner of a shiny new PR, and a funny experience to share with you all.

5 Reasons to Attend the Valspar Championship This Year

Last year was my first time going to the Valspar Championship here in Florida. As an athlete, I am always up for watching a sporting event, but then I learned that there is SO MUCH more going on than just the playing of golf itself. There truly is fun for the whole family, so I wanted to highlight five (of many!) reasons you will want to get tickets to the Valspar Championship this year!

1.) Food: This is more than your typical sporting event concession stand food. There will be a food truck rally with local food trucks. There will also be the Gape and Grain, which will house upscale beer, wine, and spirits, as well as Frenchy’s Pool Party which is great for families.

2.) Music: Valspar LIVE! Will take place on Saturday, March 10th, with not one, but TWO country music stars– Jake Owen and Dustin Lynch who will play at the conclusion of the tournament, and YES the concert is FREE with your tournament ticket! Last year, the combination of PGA TOUR golf and Valspar LIVE! produced the first single day sellout in tournament history and a repeat is possible in 2018. I was there (Toby Keith) and it was so much fun.

3.) Activities: Loving the tiny house trend? Then you will love the tiny homes block party behind the 18th green. Fans will be able to check out these homes painted in bright Valspar paint colors. This area will also have complimentary popsicles and autograph sessions on Thursday and Friday. Also be sure to check out chameleon cove, a beach and relaxation zone, featuring a 100-ton sand sculpture which is TWICE as big as last year, with colorful fan seating and concessions. There will also be a family fun zone featuring a 16-foot-tall rock climbing wall, monster putting green, Imagination Playground as well as arts, crafts, and games.

4.) Players/Tournament: Of course there is a golf tournament going on as well! Rory McIlroy, the four-time Major Championship winner will be among the new names joining the tournament. Adam Hadwin is the returning 2017 Valspar Champion and will be back to defend his title.

valspar classic

5.) Charity/Veterans: Last year, Valspar Championship generated $2,412,196 for charity, – an increase of 13% from the previous year. The tournament has now generated just under $39 million for charity since 1977! So amazing! There will also be a Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost — one of the TOUR’s largest Patriots Outposts. The Outpost is a hospitality chalet with complimentary Chick-fil-A, Marco’s Pizza, Michelob ULTRA, and Coke products.

As you can see, there are tons of reasons to get your tickets to the Valspar Championship this year. Just click this link to be taken directly to the page with tons more information. Hope to see you there!


Christmas Recap 2017

Happy January guys! I can’t believe it’s now 2018. How many of you are still forgetting and writing 2017 on everything? Hand raise! We had a great Christmas, but just like every year it flew by so fast and I want it back! Here are a few of my favorites photos and things we did.

The Friday before, Emma Kate had PJ day at school and obviously had to show them off.

Saturday we made reindeer food and fudge.

Christmas eve we went to church along with my mom and dad. 

Love singing Silent Night with just out voices and the candles. So beautiful. 

After church, we hit up PDQ. I know it’s not very traditional, but we knew we were going to be cooking all the things that night and the next day so I was not up for cooking again for lunch.

Bobby cooked pork chops for dinner and mom was in charge of bread, which is terrifying because she always burns it. So she sat in front of my oven to make sure she didn’t. Bless it. 

We made cookies for Santa and left them by the tree with some milk. 

We read the Christmas story from the Bible and the Night Before Christmas. My sister’s plane arrived just in time for her to get to join in and tell Emma Kate good night.

My mom, dad, and sister left to go to their house, then Santa came!

On Christmas morning, I made EK sit at the top of the stairs and wait just like I used to do. She was a trooper even though she didn’t really understand ha.

She ran downstairs to see that Santa came, and was so excited! She even had gifts in her stocking.

This is my FAVORITE Christmas photo from the day. Sums it all up perfectly. 

Happy girl loved her “doctor things”

Self timer for the win!

We got ready then drove down to my parents new house for the day. It was my first time seeing it with furniture and I love it!

Emma Kate even has her own room.

Also, Santa made a visit to Grammy and Papa’s house, too.

Bobby also got in on the gift action. (and he got me a laptop!)

Maybe a future career?

The weather was in the low 70’s and perfect.

We had our big meal at lunch, and it was delicious.

Santa even left Emma Kate a cupcake.

Self timer again! 

Lunch goodness.

Christmas day is also my moms birthday so we had a cake, of course!

Emma Kate learned how to “drive” papa’s golf cart.

The sign of a good day, asleep int he car by 7:30. We drove home and were so sad it was all over, but thankful for the great memories!

I hope you had a great Christmas with your loved ones. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Residence Inn Clearwater Beach

Over the weekend, Bobby and I were in Clearwater for a local beach festival, and were invited to stay at the new Residence Inn Clearwater Beach. If you follow me on social media, you may remember we attended the ribbon cutting for this gorgeous property last month. I was so excited to get to stay here after seeing the spacious rooms and pool at the ribbon cutting!

Our studio king room did not disappoint. It was HUGE and had a full kitchen plus living room and sleeping area with a very modern but cozy vibe. Plenty of room for a family to spread out.

Residence inn

The kitchen had a stove, microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator. There were even bar stools at the counter if you wanted to sit and enjoy a meal.

Residence inn Clearwater

There was plenty of space going into the bedroom area, and the television swiveled so you could view it from the living room or bed. (Not going to lie, we may have eaten dinner in bed while watching football!)

Residence Inn Clearwater

My favorite has got to be the modern bathroom. It has a huge shower and ample space for storing your things. There is even a little hallway going into the bathroom with drawers and a counter to put your things (or your suitcase) on, as well as a closet. it was nice and bright and we had plenty of towels, which is always a bonus.

The best part about this property is the proximity to the beach. We were a block away from the sugar white sands, and we could even see it from our room! No need to use your car, it’s so walkable here to everything from shops to restaurants to of course, the famous Pier 60.

Residence inn clearwater

Something special that this hotel offers is a gorgeous rooftop infinity pool overlooking the bay. What a set up!

I could stay here all day.Residence inn

There is also a free breakfast, a fitness room, conference rooms, and valet parking. Everyone we encountered was so friendly, and we had a great stay. I hope to come back and visit this hotel soon, so I can enjoy it and all that Clearwater Beach has to offer.

Disclosure: I received a free night stay for my review, however all opinions are my own.

Winter’s Wonderland & Sea of Lights Holiday Events

Living in Florida, we have learned that there is so much to see in and do, especially around the holidays. Something that is new to us is Winter’s Wonderland & Sea of Lights Holiday Events at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. We were invited to come check out the aquarium and learn about the holiday events that you and your family can enjoy this year.

Emma Kate loves animals, so she was pumped to see the turtles, otters, sharks, and in particular, the dolphins, like Winter and Hope of Dolphin Tale fame. We met some super sweet volunteers who gave us so much information about the animals that call the aquarium home, and the rescue and release process for some of them. I in particular love their mission:

“We believe in preserving our marine life and environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release.”

There were so many adorable animals at the aquarium that for one reason or another can’t survive in the wild, and while some will live there permanently, there are some that are able to be released back into their natural habitats which is so awesome.

Ok, so moving on to the awesome activities going on for the holidays! So in addition to touring the aquarium, you can also do these things on select dates:

    • 11/24-12/23 – Come see Winter Claus: Guests have the opportunity to meet Winter Claus (set-up in Spectrum Theater)
    • 12/15, 12/16, 12/22, 12/23 – Stay Late: The aquarium is staying open late until 9 p.m. This way guests can best enjoy the lights, see Winter Claus, enjoy free cookies and enjoy a “Sea of Lights” 45 minute boat ride! (Sea of Lights will run from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. on select dates with $9.99 admission starting after 4 p.m. The Sea of Lights Boat Cruise will take you around Clearwater Bay to see the holiday lights by boat!)
    • 12/27-12/30 – Meet and Greet: Actors from the Dolphin Tale movies will be at the aquarium to meet guests. (<—-awesome!)

  • Don’t miss out on Experiencing Winter Wonderland with lights and décor all around the aquarium. There are also special santa dive presentations at Mavis’s Rescue Hideaway.winter's wonderlandAnyone recognize the above office from a certain dolphin related movie?

You can also purchase 20 oz. Coca-Cola products in the park like Coke, Sprite, and Dasani water to enjoy during your visit to the aquarium.

marine aquarium

I highly recommend taking your family to enjoy the special holiday offerings at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium this year!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored, however all opinions are my own.

Superhero 5k Race Recap 2017

Our neighborhood hosted a 5k last weekend so of course Bobby and I had to participate. We got to sleep in to a reasonable time and just drive to the front of the neighborhood to run. I’m all about convenience so I was excited to run it!

What I was not excited about was the weather. While it wasn’t hot thankfully (low 70’s) it was 100% humidity, which was absolutely brutal. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s back up!

I slept in until 6:20 which was nice for a race morning. We got up, ate breakfast and got ready, then woke Emma Kate up. My parents came to watch her while we ran and they met us at the front of the neighborhood where the race was starting.

They played on the playground with Emma Kate and were at the finish line when we crossed so it worked out well. Anyway, this was a very small race, and it was admittedly weird that a “race course’ was through streets that I regularly run during the week. Our neighborhood is huge, so I was bummed to see we would be making two loops around the same streets (I knew I would get bored). Oh well, it’s just 3.1 miles I thought to myself. The race was chip timed, but what I didn’t realize until after was that there was no starting mat, so everyone’s gun time was the same as their chip time. I started towards the back, and had I known there was no starting mat I would have started closer to the front, because my time is about 3 seconds off because of this.

So we started promptly at 8:00, and my goal was to keep a sub 9:00 minute pace which I thought was reasonable in the weather conditions. (Had it been less humid I would have shot for sub 8:45 for a PR.) Bobby took off and was way ahead of me, and I just got into a groove listening to my music and running this familiar course. I made the first loop, and Bobby passed me going the other way. We high fived, and I was still feeling good, keeping about an 8:45/8:50 overall pace for the first 1.5 miles.

I hit mile two and was POURING sweat. It kept getting in my eyes and burning, and I kept wiping my eyebrows and forehead but there was so much of it that it really wasn’t helping. I knew I should have worn a visor and was cursing myself in that moment for forgetting. I kept hanging on to my pace until I got to about mile 2.5. I looked down and realized I was running a 9:20, and I was barely hanging on to that.

I pushed as hard as I could and got it back down to right around a 9:00 mile pace, and started getting that awesome nauseated feeling you get when you are pushing really hard. My face was on fire and I just couldn’t push any harder than I was. I made the last turn and saw the finish line and my family.

I crossed in 27:39, but I estimate I ran a 27:36 with the delayed start.

My PR is 27:13 but was in 50 degree weather and very low humidity, so I think with another chance in better conditions I can beat my old PR, which is encouraging.

This is my “leave me alone I need to keep walking so I don’t puke” face.

Finish line hugs are the best.

Bobby did really well. He ran a 23:13, which is 3 seconds away from a PR!

We were both super thankful that one was over, but still had a good time.

After the race, Bobby jumped in the pool fully clothed, and Emma Kate played on the playground before we all went to change and hit the pool. It was a great day and a fun time!

My Hurricane Irma Story

A lot of people have been asking me questions regarding the hurricane, our last minute decision to evacuate, and our travel there and back, so I decided to do a blog post recapping the whole ordeal, here we go!

Some of you may remember that Bobby and I were supposed to go on a Carnival cruise leaving out of Miami on Saturday, September 9th. Because of this, I had been watching the tropics extra close, and Irma was making me nervous the closer she got. At first we thought she would turn north and be long gone before our cruise, but then she started going more and more west, and I started getting bummed thinking about our cruise being cancelled.

Soon enough, my sadness turned to fear as I realized the storm was coming even MORE west, right to the east coast of Florida. We had come to terms with the fact that our vacation wasn’t going to happen, and switched gears to “OK so what the heck do we do here at the house?”

Keep in mind I grew up in a suburb of New Orleans and lived in Biloxi as an adult, so I have been through many hurricanes, sometimes we evacuated, sometimes we didn’t. At this point, we had planned to stay. They were saying at worst Irma was going to be a cat 3, and at that point she was still going to the eastern side of Florida. The storm was huge, so we knew we would still get bad wind and rain, but it would be manageable.

All day Friday I watched each new update like a crazy person. I had four newscasters I was following along with via Facebook live, and I was soaking up every bit of information I could. At this point, Bobby’s work had been cancelled as well as Emma Kate’s school, and my parents had evacuated up to our house. We were all set to stay. We had food, water, candles, and flashlights. But yet, with each new update, the storm was moving slightly further west. I could barely eat all day, I just didn’t know what we should do. We had no hurricane shutters or boards for our windows. Stay or go, stay or go….the traffic…ug. Ok we are staying.

That is until the 11:00 update on Friday night. My parents and Emma Kate were asleep, and I was in bed watching the newest model runs. They had moved the eye directly over my house, and said it would be a category four once it hit Tampa. My stomach did a back flip. Katrina was a 3 and that was awful for my hometown. I don’t know if I can do a four, especially with my two year old. At that point, my mama instincts kicked in. I went into the bonus room and told Bobby “I think we need to leave.”

We discussed the logistics for a few minutes, and then he agreed with me. If we lost power it would be miserably hot in the house, and EK would never sleep. Also, we only have one interior hallway downstairs and one bedroom downstairs and the storm was hitting us at night. Trying to explain to Emma Kate why we had to be still in a hall for several hours would be difficult and she would be terrified. We had lived in Atlanta for a few years when I was a child so we had plenty of friends to stay with that had already invited us into their home so that wasn’t a problem. Now it came down to getting all our patio furniture inside, securing the house, and loading up two cars, five people, and a dog as quickly as possible. We thought about leaving the next day but figured traffic would be slowest in the middle of the night.

I went downstairs and woke up my parents telling them the latest news. They jumped out of bed and we all sprang into action. Throwing things into suitcases, dragging in furniture from outside, loading up food, water, and dog food, trying to remember all the things we needed to do and bring. At the end of it all my kitchen table was against the front door and our grill was in my dining room.

We waited to wake up Emma Kate until right before we left, then I had to

pack up all the stuff in her room. It is really a very surreal feeling looking around your house, trying to figure out what to take with you that will fit in your car, knowing this may be the last time you step foot in your house. It really truly put things into perspective in terms of what we “need” in our house. Most of it is just stuff, and I didn’t feel compelled to try and pack it. My brain was going a mile a minute and I didn’t even think to bring photo albums or baby books or things of that nature.

By 12:30, the house was secure and we were rolling out o


f the neighborhood loaded down in two cars. I took the lead, and it was smooth sailing…until we got to the interstate. It was pretty bumper to bumper which was crazy to be because it was almost 1:00! We had downloaded the gas buddy app and it was such a life saver. We stopped in Gainesville for gas, and thankfully they had a good operation going where they were directing traffic and putting you in lines depending on what side of your car your gas tank was on. We only had to wait about 10 minutes, and Emma Kate and I went next door to Walgreens to use the bathroom. Bobby sent me over with a night stick of course. It was a bit of a sketchy area but he had to stay in line with the car so off we went.

By 5:00, we were getting pretty hungry, so we stopped at

a McDonalds (the only thing open) somewhere in Georgia…along with all the other evacuees. I grabbed a coffee since I was doing most of the driving (Bobby’s driving terrifies me) and we were on the road again. The last 3 hours felt like FOREVER getting up to Atlanta. We got stuck in several dead stand still traffic areas due to wrecks and slowdowns.

Emma Kate was watching YouTube Kids on my phone, and said her belly hurt. I didn’t think much of it because she says that sometimes and it’s usually nothing, but then it happened….she threw up all over herself and her car seat. In the middle of a traffic jam. She got super upset and wanted to change but there was nowhere for us to go, we were gridlocked. I tried to clean her up and calm her down the best I could until we could get off the interstate at this little country gas station that actually had super clean bathrooms! We changed her clothes, all took a little breather, and got back on the road.

We were actually staying north east of Atlanta, so it took us awhile to get around to where we needed to go. We arrived around 11:00 after 10.5 hours of driving, and were all exhausted. One thing we had not thought about was the weather, IT WAS COLD! We were all in shorts and t-shirts. We unloaded the cars, and at that point I have no idea how I was still standing. I had been awake for 29 hours and drove most of the way. Since my parents had slept about two hours before I woke them up to leave the night before, they graciously agreed to watch EK so we could nap. I was only weirdly able to sleep about 50 minutes, but Bobby got in a solid 3-4 hours which was good.

Our friends were amazing hosts, and fed us so well. We hung out in the backyard, took Emma Kate on the gator over to the playground at the preschool I attended as a child (the people we were staying with own it) ate dinner outside and just enjoyed being safe, and also enjoyed the wonderful weather. (We cannot sit outside and eat in Tampa, we would melt!) Emma Kate slept on the floor of my parents room on a cot and Bobby and I had the sofas in the living room. I think at that point I could have slept on a rock and not moved all night.

Of course the next day (Sunday) we closely watched the weather, but also knew we had to get out of the house. After an amazing breakfast, we took her to a local park, and it was so cold! Bobby and I walked around a beautiful trail and Emma Kate and my parents played on the playground.

When we got back to the house, my mom and I went to Kohl’s and got Emma Kate some pants, a long sleeved shirt, and a jacket. We also learned Sunday afternoon that they were not expecting the hurricane to be a 4 when it reached Tampa, thank the Lord!

Our next door neighbor staying behind and gave us updates Sunday night and we were happy to hear Monday morning that the house was fine, and also that we still had power! There had been a small issue with some looters in the area which was my next concern but thankfully all was OK. It rained all day Monday and the wind got pretty bad. We were staying in a more county town with lots of pine trees, so believe it or not, we lost power Monday afternoon!

Thankfully they had a generator so we were able to have light, watch TV, and keep the food cold. We grilled hot dogs in the storm, and since it was so cool outside, it wasn’t miserable at all to sleep in.

We decided to leave Tuesday, and looking back that was a BAD idea. I really had no idea just how bad traffic would be. I relied on Google Maps, and it had us taking back roads for the first couple hours before putting us back on the interstate. It was pure misery–bumper to bumper stop and go literally the the whole drive home. My biggest fear was finding gas. Thankfully my dad has bought two 5 gallon containers and filled them up the day before, but even still that wouldn’t be enough to get us home.

We were able to wait in line in Tifton and find gas, but it was a pretty stressful situation. We were all tired, Emma Kate was bored, tempers were flaring, and we were all ready to get out of the car. At one point we stopped at a rest stop and all they had available were port-o-potties and there were people everywhere. The whole thing was just a huge mess. It ended up taking us 14.5 hours to get home. We left Atlanta around 9:00 AM and got home at almost midnight. The drive would normally take about 6.5 hours I think.

We were SO blessed and thankful to have no damage, water, etc. I know some were not that lucky. But I will say, it’s going to take a LOT to make me evacuate again after the mess we had to go through to get there and back. Please continue to pray as some still don’t have power, and have lost everything. Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers as we were going through all of this. It means a lot!


Birthday Recap 2017

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since my birthday! I had a great one for my first year in Florida, and felt so much love from my family and friends, including online friends! Here is a quick recap of all the festivities from the week:

On Tuesday my parents took me to Disney for the day. I mean, why not? Yes it was SUPER HOT but we only stayed until after lunch then headed out when it got unbearable. I am so thankful to get to live close to the magic that we can do things like this!

We rode a few rides, had lunch at the Plaza restaurant, and then went over to the Polynesian to get Dole Whip floats, my favorite! Very refreshing on such a sunny Florida day.

dole whip float

On Wednesday, Megan took me out for a special birthday meal at Ulele. I had never been and really loved the outside atmosphere. I will have to bring Bobby this fall when it cools down some.


Then on my actual birthday, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to a new class at a new to me gym. I was so nervous but of course everything was fine.

After class, I was a sweaty mess so I took a shower then headed to Starbucks for my free birthday drink.

I went to the outlet mall to shop for a little while before I was to meet Megan at the pool. I came out of one of the shops and it was POURING rain! So much for the pool. I went to the PDQ drive thru and headed home to eat and get a little work done. Then my mom and dad came over and hung out before it was time to go get Emma Kate. There were babysitting for us so Bobby and I could go to dinner at Grillsmith. We decided we would probably be back late so we sang happy birthday and did cake and ice cream before Bobby and I went to dinner. The two of us just didn’t eat any yet.

Around 6:00 Bobby and I left for dinner, and then went to the AT&T store to get my birthday gift, a new iPhone! I’m super excited to be able to take better photos and also have portrait mode. I had the original iPhone 6 which will be three years old in September so it was time. I no longer could hear people on the phone and had to constantly use speakerphone which wasn’t ideal in public places, heh. Also can I just say i’m super thankful they have an affordable monthly payment plan? Anyway, it was a great birthday, and I’m thankful to be here for another year, and to be healthy. However, there is still one more celebration to be had. A few of my local blog friends and I are headed to dinner and a movie to celebrate my birthday on Saturday. We are seeing Girl’s Trip and I can’t wait to laugh and have a good time.

Again, thank you all for the birthday wishes, it meant a lot to me. I am thankful for each of you.





Painting With a Twist (of fun!)

Last weekend, my mom and I had the unique opportunity to attend a class at my local Painting with a Twist. I have done a similar class before, but it has been many many years. My mom had never done anything like this before, so I knew it was going to be fun for a mother daughter night away.

We easily signed up online after finding the nearest location (ten minutes from my house!) and were sent a conformation and some instructions. I was excited to see we were allowed to bring wine/beer and snacks, and was hopeful it would make my painting skills better? Ok so maybe not!

We arrived a few minutes early to get our aprons on and get set up at our table. The instructor had already placed our names in front of our canvas and poured our paint. Meanwhile, I poured us some wine and we chatted with our classmates before we got started.

The instructor was so nice and had a very relaxing voice. She went over the rules and calmed everyone’s fears. She wanted to make sure we had FUN no matter what, and really took the pressure off. She explained that she would be painting along with us and helping us as we went. She had on a microphone so it was easy to hear her, and she was up on a stage. I like that they also had a completed painting next to her so we knew what the finished product would look (or should, ha) look like.

She was sure to explain the steps several times, telling us what colors to use, how to do our brush strokes, etc. Slowly but surely, my painting came to life. After about an hour we took a 15 minute break to stretch, walk around, and let the first part dry (and of course take a few sips of wine).

Then, it was back to it and we finished everything up in two hours. I was skeptical, but can’t believe I did the whole thing so quickly! Now, I’m no artist, but I had a really good time and I think my painting turned out pretty good.

Painting with a twist

I would definitely do this again. I think it would be super fun for a girls night, date night birthday party, or family event. You can even do private parties! I’m so glad I got to have a stress free, phone free, couple of hours and experience this with my mom. Now I have a painting at home so I will always remember it.

Be sure to check out their website to find a location near you. What I love is that you can check their calendar and see what paintings they will be doing on each day, so you can pick your favorite and sign up on that day!

Tampa Tuesdays: Carnival Goes to Cuba

Last week, Megan and I were invited to a special celebration aboard the Carnival Paradise at the port of Tampa. This celebration was marking the first of twelve special voyages to Havana, Cuba over the next year.

La Nacional Hotel, Havana, Cuba

The celebration on board the ship was as colorful as Cuba itself, with the largest Cuban Sandwich at sea,

delicious drinks,


Cuban food,

and a big check donated to the Ybor city museum!

We danced with Senior Cruise Director John Heald, and got super excited for everyone onboard sailing off to Cuba that afternoon.

Sadly, we had to disembark the ship, but I saw some wonderful photos already from the first voyage! (Search #CCL2Cuba or #CarnivaltoCuba for great shots on Instagram!)

Each cruise is four or five days in length, and includes an overnight stay in port, giving travelers a rare glimpse into Havana at night. Also, some of the itineraries include a stop in either Key West or Cozumel. What is there to do in Havana you ask? So much! Carnival can help connect you with local guides familiar with the food, music, and history of Cuba. With 16 shore excursions, I’m sure you will find something to do for the whole family.

On top of visiting Havana, you will be on board the Carnival Paradise. A Fantasy class ship holding 2,052 passengers (the largest to ever sail to Cuba) with fun on board activities like a water slide, Seuss at Sea kids activities, Spa Carnival, and the Serenity adults only area.

Sailing dates are July 13, Aug. 14, 24 and 28, Sept. 7, 21 and 25, Oct. 5, 9 and 19, 2017, as well as May 3, 2018. Be sure to find a sailing that fits into your schedule before they are gone. What a great opportunity!


QOTD: Would you be interested in sailing to Cuba? 

Disclosure: I was invited to this special day by Carnival, however all opinions are my own.