Life Hack : A look inside my private writing (and hiding) space 🧘‍♀️🧘‍♀️

My husband, Tinsel the dog and myself live a medium sized condo – we have one bedroom and one bath. Although we love living in our smaller lifestyle (Less cleaning/maintain everything), sometimes I feel like I have no “me space.” A space for me to focus on my writing and meditation. AND to also find somewhere I can show off my cacti collection 😏😏

So I set my mind to it this weekend. I wanted to create a my own zen space. I started off by collecting some floor cushions, I was lucky enough to have been given these by a friend FOR FREE! I snagged an extra shelf from our storage closet. I picked up these ADORABLE black and white printed outdoor rugs from IKEA for $15!

Aren’t these rugs freakin’ adorable?? This is my second set of these same rugs….since my little bunny nibbled on the last set 🐰. I set up a small couch with the floor cushions, added some throw pillows AND BAM! Wondering what that black fence thing is in the background? That’s my DIY bunny fence. I can easily pull it out and pin him on the patio for a little bit of fresh air and exercise. Normally he stays out here during the day, getting some much needed exercise and fresh air. I even make him cardboard box houses to play in (OK so he doesn’t look happy – trust me he just has RBF). 🤷🏻‍♀️♥️🐰

So that’s kind of it. I now have this incredible zen-like work space. Especially that I have been sick, this is my sitting space to get some much needed fresh air. OH and space for my cacti collection (see below)….now that I have a bit more space….I think it’s time for another trip to the Florida Cactus Company – Check out my article about them here.

What’s your zen space look like? Do you have a little reading nook or hiding space away from the kids? I’d like to hear about thembelow!

Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : Duck Doughnuts

I love doughnuts. Seriously who doesn’t? We fell in love with Duck Doughnuts on our trip to Washington D.C. You can check out that trip here.

What makes a better date then long talks over good coffee? Nothing.

We were excited to find out that Duck Doughnuts opened a location right here in Florida, so we decided to make a trip! Just about a 30 minute drive to Kissimmee from Orlando. If you are looking for you local Duck Doughnuts, here’s a link to their site.


Okay so let me lay this out – walk in and grab a menu (use this to mark on). You start off with a base cake doughnut and on basically anything you can dream of.

My fave: Lemon glaze & fresh shredded coconut

My husband’s fave: Strawberry Glaze & Oreo crumbles

We normally only do a half dozen. I’ve never, honestly, been able to eat more than two without hating myself. Oh and make sure to order a iced coffee! It’s fresh brewed and INCREDIBLE.

After handing off your menu, each doughnut is made fresh and hand made to your order.


And here they are (starting top right) Strawberry glaze with Oreo crumbs, Dark chocolate glaze with marshmallow drizzle and graham crackera, Vanilla Bean glaze with dark chocolate drizzle, lemon glaze with fresh shredded coconut, cinnamon sugar with dark chocolate and lastly dark chocolate glaze with salted Carmel drizzle 🤤🤤🤤🤤

So there it is – A perfectly delicious date idea to try out this weekend. Want to check out last weeks date idea? You can see that here! Have a great weekend 😘😘

Travel Tuesday : Let me tell you about the worst vacation I have ever been on

So I took a week off from writing – My husband and I were going on this incredible vacation and of course we were also spending time with friends and family for turkey day. ANYWAYS THAT SAID – sit back and let me tell you about the worst vacation I’ve ever been on and ALMOST died during. (Spoilers)

To preface this, let me tell you our actually plan:

Saturday morning leave around 7AM and drive up to Savanah, Georgia for lunch. Then continue driving to our campsite in Asheville, NC before 5PM. Set up camp, cuddle and make s’mores . There was a meteor shower that was happening this night! So we were planning on staying up late to see it.

Sunday morning wake up and see the sunrise over the mountains at our campsite. Then drive further up north to Grandfather Mountain to do a little hiking before lunch. For lunch, drive back to Asheville and check out this taco joint downtown. Head back to the campsite, enjoy a hot dinner and get a good rest.

Monday morning wake up and pack up camp. Head back to downtown Asheville and find somewhere to have breakfast. After eating, start driving to Charleston, SC for lunch and site seeing. After lunch, head home and be home before dark.

It sounded like a perfectly simple plan. Super relaxing. Not over-planned (like my usual style) So let me tell you what actually happened:

We packed up our little Kia on Thursday, Friday we pre-made our meals and packed the cooler. We were prepped! We don’t normally drive our Kia, my husband and I are blessed enough that we don’t need a second car. But our little Kia is there in case we need it. So it doesn’t have many miles on it and it’s relatively new. (I’m going somewhere with this – just hang on).

Friday night: we couldn’t sleep. This vacation was going to be AMAZING. Around 3AM on Saturday, we decided “HECK we are up – Let’s just go!!” So we did. Tinsel the dog, my husband and I pilled into the small Kia crammed with our camping gear and we headed off to Georgia.

Around three hours in, our car starts giving out. The Kia is sputtering down the highway and we make the call to turn around. Still staying positive, we decided to head home and pick up a rental car. As long as we were back on the road by 9:30AM we could at least make it to our campsite before dark.

My husband pre-paid for our rental car and set a time for us to pick it up. We got to the dealership early and two ladies got there before us! They even cut our place in line, spent 45 minutes inspecting the car (it’s honestly like they never saw a car before) and we still didn’t get a car until 10:30AM!!! (Ok calming down). We finally made it back to our house with our rental car, we moved over all of our camping gear and got back on the road.

At this point we decided to forgo seeing Savanah, Georgia because we simply did not have enough time. We knew at this point, that we would have to put up our tent in the dark. Surprisingly still optimistic.

We drove straight to Asheville; a full eight hour drive. We got to the point where “google maps ends” and we had to follow the written instructions up the mountain side to our campsite. (In the dark, while it was raining, in a unmaintained gravel road).

Saturday 7PM: Our campsite was BEAUTIFUL. A fully fenced in, private deck overlooking the mountains. Oddly, the wind was picking up? We had no cell phone service and it looked like a storm was rolling in. At this point, we had no choice but to set up camp. We didn’t know how to get back down the mountain side, we had no cell phone service and the storm was starting to pick up.

My husband quickly threw me the tent. I grabbed it and quickly tumbled down two flights of stairs to our deck. Luckily, it was so cold – I felt no pain 😂😂 (to update currently: my wrist is swollen, along with a severely bruised knee)

We set up the tent and the wind started getting worse. We decided to take all of our camping gear out of the car to help weigh down our tent for the night. My husband finally got a little phone signal and was able to look at the weather for a split second. We were in a dangerous wind advisory – 50-60 MPH winds were going to hit us directly on the mountain cliff and we were stuck. We had to open the windows on the tent in order to allow some of the wind to pass through – which meant we were drenched from the rain. It was dropping bellow 30 degrees and the wind was tearing apart our tent. We could feel the deck shifting below us due to the strain. We could hear our car slipping and sliding in the gravel above us. The tent was lifting us off of the ground. And we were trapped.

We didn’t sleep at all. Around 2AM we heard two loud SNAPS. Two of our tent poles collapsed under the pressure.

Oh did I mention? Tinsel (our pup) got so terrified she peed. She peed all over me. Fantastic I know.

Sunday 5AM: The sun was starting to peep out. We had enough light that we could finally leave. Our tent shifted so much, the tent door was now on the roof and we were pilled under our belongings. We quickly threw all of our belongings into our car and headed off to town. We found a Starbucks about 45 minutes away and quickly filled up on warm beverages; keeping the heat on full blast in the car.

My husband (being the real hero of our whole trip) stayed positive. He asked me “Ok so last night sucked. What else is on your list?” I knew the answer to that one – hiking Grandfather Mountain. So we hoped into the car and headed off. As we were driving up, snow to fall ! (For this Florida girl – it’s a HUGE deal). Tinsel got to play in snow for the very first time and had a BLAST.

We had an incredible time playing in the snow – but now we were even more excited about hiking in it. So we kept driving. We made it to the state park and started driving up the mountain. The car slipped in the ice and slide right into a ditch. We tried to get it out, but the car was saturated in ice and was unable to move. We had to call our AAA service to help us out. The good news? Our nice warm car had no cell phone signal. We had to leave Tinsel in the car and walk a mile down the mountain side to get cell phone signal. The even better news? The towing company wants us to stay by the cell phone service in case he needs to call us. The even better better news? It was going to be two hours before he could help us. See that cute little black dot walking down the road? That’s me

For those that are uncomfortable about things: just skip this paragraph all together. Remember that venti Starbucks beverage? Well yeah I finished it and now we were stuck on the side of the road waiting. I had to PEE. I had to pee more than I have never needed to pee in my entire life. I HAD TO GO. So I took that venti Starbucks cup and I FILLED it.

We waited. We waited some more. We played in the snow. We waited and waited. AND FINALLY the tow truck guy showed up! He pulled us right out and we were on our way in less than 30 minutes!

Exhausted and fed up. We decided the best bet would just to head home. We were exhausted, our tent was destroyed and we had little supplies that were not ruined. The three of use pilled back into the car and headed towards downtown Asheville for lunch. We wanted to get a good meal before another eight hour drive.

We stopped at the White Duck Taco and got well…..tacos 😉. We ate while driving. About three hours into the drive, my husband looks at me and says “I don’t feel so well.” Yeah you guessed it – poor guy got food poisoning it time. We are still trying to stay optimistic- so we get a hotel room in Charleston, South Carolina. We decided to make the most of this terrible trip and stay over night in Charleston. This way, we can still go sight seeing in Savanah and Charleston AND make it home before it gets dark (driving exhausted in the dark down the highway is not one of my favorite things).

Monday morning: Charleston is beautiful. Stunning. So many perfectly colorful buildings. Incredible architecture. I love this small town filled with southern charm. In Charleston, we hit up Rainbow Row (the beautiful colorful buildings in the top picture) AND we got to see the famous Pineapple Fountain in their Central Park. We stopped off in Charleston for breakfast and to refill our caffeine fueled hearts and we were off to Savanah, Georgia for lunch.

Fueled up, warm and fed: we finally made it to Savanah. We stopped to sightsee their Forsyth Park for a bit and take in the old oak trees. The weather was finally starting to warm up as we wandered back to our car.

Overall this was an insane trip. My car died, we almost died on a mountain camping,our car needed to be towed out of a snowy ditch AND we got food poisoning. But you know what? We didn’t argue once and we stayed positive the entire trip. I’m a little worn out still (and a bit bruised up), but next time we will be better prepared! We are currently in the midst of planning our next road trip, Florida to the Alamo!

Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : Botanical Gardens & Foxtail Cafe

So happy it’s FINALLY Friday! I hope you’ve all had a great week!

Let’s jump right into it here! This week’s date inspiration – We made our first stop this small cafe name Foxtail, you can see their menu here. If you know me at all, you know I have a…..slight obsession with matcha tea – so of course I had to try their matcha latte on for size (sitting at about $6 I was hopping that this small 16oz was going to be worth it) & OMG IT WAS SO WORTH IT. The best matcha latte that I have had. My husband ordered a salted vanilla caramel cold brew over ice and was unimpressed – I thought the brew was incredible.

We picked up our drinks and tapped the Mead Botanical Gardens address into Google Maps (just about a five minute drive from the cafe). It was a perfect combo – delicious beverages while we visited a local garden 🙌🏻🙌🏻

The Mead Botanical Garden is the PERFECT spot for a picnic. I was upset we didn’t pack a lunch to enjoy here. The gardens open up at 7:30AM and are open until 10:00PM with free parking AND free admission. When entering the park, drive straight and DO NOT park on the right hand side – you’ll want to park further down to awards to gardens. Be sure to pick up a map of the gardens as well, from the first information kiosk you see. There’s a lot to do in the park!

We hit it off by visiting the Monarch Butterfly Garden, then walked the full length of the boardwalk around the small ponds and creeks.

There are so many beautiful over run bridges and pathways, so be sure to watch where you are walking. We spent about 30 minutes walking the board walks and visiting the butterfly gardens until it started to rain! We honestly did mind the rain too much, there was so much tree coverage that we didn’t really need an umbrella.

Near the back of the park, there was a small lake where we were able to see an otter playing and some larger birds catching fish. Be sure to bring your binoculars! Although the signs clearly say that there was no dogs allowed into the park, we did run across a LOT of dogs. I don’t believe it’s a strict rule, but I would be cautious when bring your fur-kids.

We had such a beautiful time sitting here by the water, especially with our delicious drinks! We will be sure to bring a picnic lunch next time we visit! Have you ever visited the Mead Botanical Gardens or Foxtail Cafe before? I would love to hear about it below! Happy Friday again and I hope your date night this weekend is incredible! 😚

Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : Kayaking Shingle Creek, Florida

A suggestion from a friend led us to kayaking Shingle Creek two weekends ago in June. Off of Highway 192 in Kissimmee is a small kayak rental shack called The Paddling Center. ($13 for a single Kayak/$16 for a tandem kayak – for two hours). You will have to reserve your kayak eight hours in advance; but they are pretty easy going and will allow you to call in less time and reserve if they have a kayak available.

(they allow you to sign all of your waivers via email before hand – this saves A LOT of time)

Right off of Highway 192 you will find the entrance. Enter the park and travel down a steep hill and into a dirt parking lot. Parking is limited. After you check in at the wooden shack, the team will lead you down to the beach and push you off into the water. At the time that we were there, the second route was closed due to too strong of a current, so they told us to head straight under the bridge towards the first route.

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Head straight underneath the Highway 192 Bridge (there was a lot of homeless people under the bridge, which was kind of off-setting) and paddle upstream. The water was murky and there was not much wild life; I am amusing due to the proximity of the bustling city. We paddled for about 30 minutes upstream before we hit the “turn around here, No Entry” signs. That was it. We let the current take us back to the launch point, drifting slowly. We still did not see any wildlife. Overall the adventure took us about 45 minutes and was actually disappointing for what we paid.

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The Paddling Center also offers bike rentals if you are in for that as well! I defiantly would call ahead first to see if all of the kayaking trails are open before spending the money. Even an inexperienced person on a kayak would not be able to fill two hours worth of time. My husband and I will be back to try out the second route eventually this summer, but we will call ahead to see!

Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : The Florida Cactus Company in Apopka, Florida

This Place. Is A. Gem.

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Open from 7:00am until 4:30pm Monday through Friday is the Florida Cactus Company in Apopka Florida. 17 large green houses, filled to the brim with cacti. Beautifully colored succulents, cacti taller than myself go on for miles it seems in these green houses.

Come here to spend a few hours, but be aware that it is HOT (REAL REAL HOT). They do not have a cafe or vending machines for drinks, make sure to pick something up on your way in. You’ll thank me later.

Start off by stepping into their main lobby just right of the parking lot. The lovely ladies there will hand you a map of the greenhouses, a measuring tape (plants are priced by the pot size) and a card board box. Each greenhouse is completely different. Start off on the first greenhouse adjacent from the lobby and make your way around their property. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with your choices!

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These cute smaller succulents and cacti will cost you about $1.50 per plant but the larger plants will cost you around $5. But be warned – it was VERY easy to spend $50 here. My husband and I made our way through each green house picking up as many as possible in our box. There are so many unique, beautiful colors it was hard not to take them all home! We spent at least three hours at this farm, wandering through their greenhouses.

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(I really think my husband – to the left – had more fun than I did)

Surprisingly – the company does not sell ANY pots or dirt for their plants. They just sell the plants directly in bulk. You will need to stop at Michael’s (yes the best place to find terrarium items!) or Home Depot for pots on the way home.

The Florida Cactus Company also ships bulk cacti for events such as weddings, baby showers etc. The farm sits about 45 minutes away from Orlando. If you do find yourself off during the weekday be sure to give them a visit!

I filled up our small cardboard box to the brim with beautiful plants (I spent around $40) and cannot wait to put them into a terrarium at home!

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Travel Tuesday : Gatlinburg, Tennessee!

I probably say this a lot – but my husband and I have unbelievable friends. My husband Andrew and his too best friends Dylan and Mark (also Mark’s now wife) have been friends since they were kids. So the six of us Andrew, me, Dylan, Dylan’s wife Elizabeth, Mark, Mark’s wife Rachel are exceedingly close. Also this guy named Frank (Elizabeth’s best friend since middle school) which is now basically family. Oh and Frank’s brother Mikey and his wife Rebecca!

(That was a lot of information – sorry it’s complicated – here’s a pretty photo)

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Elizabeth being the most endearing wife that I have ever had the pleasure to know was throwing Dylan a Dirty 30 Birthday celebration last November. Liz rented us a HUGE cabin in the middle of the woods about five minutes from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This was a six bedroom JUMBO cabin, with a fire place and a hot tub out on the porch – there were many mimosas to be had.

Frank, Andrew and I drove up from Orlando to Tennessee in about 11 hours. Of course we stopped by High Falls State Park and The In-Out Burger joint in down town Atlanta. Frank was nice enough to drive the entire way to Tennessee.

(while I so gratefully napped in his back seat).

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Thursday night, we finally made it to the cabin to join up with our group of friends. Mark and Rachel drove down from Chicago, Kelli and Adam from Vermont, Mikey and Rebecca from D.C. We ordered pizza and played with sparklers out in the street; as well all caught up from not seeing each other for the past year. Stretching from Florida to Chicago; we normally do not all get to spend time together at the same time so this was a special treat.

Our first morning of our journey Elizabeth, Kelli, Andrew and I hiked Grotto Falls, Tennessee. This was a very short 4 mile hike up to see the falls (sarcasm). In late November, the trees were already changing and it was a breath taking view of the Smoky Mountains.

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After having breakfast at the cabin, the girls decided to split up from the boys. The boys ended up drinking, playing boards games and eating cold pizza at the cabin all afternoon. While we hit up the “craft drive.” The Craft Drive is a 10 mile backwoods, paved drive through small vintage shops. Shops included handmade fudge, leather shops and stenciled wood décor. After driving for a bit, we stopped at the cutest outdoor shopping area to grab a bite to eat. We sat down in a vintage white café with deep green trim and were served up delectable southern food with a heaping side of southern hospitality. After lunch, we continued on wandering through small trinket shops. Of course we stopped for homemade maple fudge! Surrounded by fall trees and small cafes we were captivated by all of the sights and smells.

Making it back to the cabin to freshen up, grab the boys and head out to dinner. Elizabeth had planned for us to go out to a Moonshine Tasting (yes this is a thing!) and for us to have dinner in downtown Gatlinburg. We quickly made reservations for a Mexican Food joint and while we waited we went to a Moonshine Tasting the next block over.

Even if you are hesitant – you need to do the Moonshine tasting! For a total of $10 per person you get to try 12 different moonshine flavors ranging from root beer, pumpkin spice and dark cherry. Most flavors tasted like Capri Suns!

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(OK well. It might not be the most attractive photo. But Moonshine does what moonshine does)

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Saturday morning we all packed up in our cars and headed to DOLLYWOOD! What else is there to do in Tennessee besides Moonshine and Dollywood? (Nothing) Dollywood is OK? Working in theme park industry myself; I wasn’t entirely impressed with the park. BUT it was beautiful. Wooden coasters, fall trees, hot chocolate and good friends.

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After spending most of the day at Dollywood, our group headed back to our cabin. To top off this incredible weekend? Elizabeth planned a 80’s Prom Murder Mystery Dinner. We all came prepared – memorizing our characters and picking out the perfect 80’S outfits. (I am sure we had toxic lung from amount of hairspray in that cabin).

I’m literally so grateful to know these women.

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Never been to a Murder Mystery Party before? Let me break this down –

  • Each person is selected a character by the host (Elizabeth) and sent their character card secretly
  • Each guest is to read over their character and pick out an outfit to match
  • During the event you are given questions to ask to other characters trying to find the murderer!
  • At the end we vote on best dressed, best character and find out who the murderer was!

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I envy how good Elizabeth is at planning! She planned a three day weekend adventure with 9 people flawlessly. How does she do this? I will never know.

There is more than a decade of friendship here and I am so thankful to know them. Here’s to hoping we plan another weekend soon!

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