Staycation (of sorts) – Part 1

Trey Splashing Trey Floating Sun Rays Steve Hammock Palm Treee - Copy Nell Tube on Head - Copy Nell Floating to Bridge Behind - Copy Nell and Dee Walking on Bridge with Tubes - Copy Dee Kelly Springs Sun RaysNell Jumping in Tube - Copy Nell Dee and Steve Tube Train - Copy Dee Stuck in TreesTrey Holding Onto rockSteve Under BridgeSprings Foot ViewNell Tubing - Copy

It’s summertime and that means it’s family vacation time.  We have lived in Florida for ten years now and have not been to any of the beautiful natural springs that our state has to offer.  For this reason and because we didn’t want to spend much money (one kid in private school and one in college), we decided to do a staycation of sorts.  While we didn’t exactly stay home, we only went three hours north to Orlando.  You see, if I don’t get the boys away from the house, then I’ve lost them to the world of video games.  Pulling everyone away from their day-to-day routine and environment makes all the difference.  We are able to hang out as a family and truly connect.

For the springs part of our adventure, we chose Kelly Springs which is a short 30 minute drive from Orlando.  Kelly Park is a free-flowing natural spring (68 degrees year round – yikes!) which makes is popular for tubing.  The upside to this little adventure is the beautifully clear water and views, the close proximity to Orlando, the tubing experience and the laid back and relaxing environment (including our hammock – good call).  The only downsides is the crowd (the park is closed by 10am due to max occupancy) and the temp of the water (almost painfully cold at first – see pic above).

Most memorable parts of the day:

  • Steve and Trey racing down the river to see who would win.  Trey won (in case you’re wondering).
  • Steve making a bed out of tubes and falling asleep.
  • Watching some kid curl himself up in a tube and roll down the hill being encouraged by his family the entire time.
  • Trey looking for Pokemon (he had just downloaded Pokemon Go).
  • Danica being a princess; not wanting to be outdoors or get in the cold water.
  • Danica doing a high kick and a dance in the middle of the park when we announced we would be going to Disney’s Magic Kingdom the next day.

*I brought the underwater camera along and was able to capture some good pics.  I will go on record that my 16 year old son decided that he wanted to be the photographer for most of the day so some of these pics are attributed to him.  Great job, Trey!

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Friday

Sunset

Eat food from farmers markets.
Drink good tea each morning.
Read books that make you feel.
Paint, even if you’re awful.
Write, even when you have nothing to say.
Sit in the fresh air outside.
Go on hikes.
Swim in lakes and wade in streams.
Sleep as long as you need.
Work hard at what you love.
Work hard at what you hate.

Love unconditionally and wholeheartedly.

Happy Friday!

Favorite Things

Nell and Steve Sunshine SmallSunset Half Down Small Steve Walking into Sun Small Steve in Sunset Small Nell Sitting in Road Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Up Small Nell and Steve Sunshine Looking at each other Small Epic Sunset Small Bunny Small Blurry Bird Flying Small Nell Running in Sunset Looking Down Small

We chased the sunset, discovered uncharted territory, held hands, talked, laughed and saw a bunny. Two of my most favorite things; nature and my husband.  This night was good.

Thoughts on Nature

Orange Lion King Sunset Caution Everglades Sign Bird Diving Orange Lion King Sunset over water Orange Sunset Road Glades on 1 Side Bird Flying over Everglades  Sunset with Palm Boys on a JeepOrange and Blue Sunset

I am a sucker for nature; pretty much any kind.  Being emerged in the beauty of the outdoors brings me peace and tranquility like nothing else.  As I sit there soaking it all in, I lose track of time and all worries of this world.  Nature is one of the places that I easily connect with God.  I see him everywhere; His majesty and wonder surrounds me. Florida sunsets are simply the best! What a great way to end an awesome weekend.

Time

This place.  It seems when we are here, time stands still.  I love going out to the Everglades with Steve to watch the sunset.  It is in these moments when we can put everything aside just be.  We can sit and watch the beauty all around us while we talk about big things, little things, silly things, insignificant things, everything. I love dreaming. I love thinking about what can be.  These are some of my most favorite moments.

Sunset with RaysNell in Everglades Really Close Steve Hands out in SunSteve at Everglades SunsetSteve Looking at Sunset Sunset Hand No Parking any timeNell Walking in Everglades

DIY Outdoor Lighting

Rolling out the LightsHanging Lights on Pole Hanging Lights on Ladder at House
Backyard Lights at Night

Our backyard is completely shaded by two massive oak trees.  No grass will grow whatsoever which results in a yard of dirt, sand, rocks and weeds.  Honestly, it’s just not all that appealing to hang out in. So, in an effort to make our backyard not only attractive, but (as my husband says) an oasis, we completed phase 2 of our backyard remodel. {You can see phase 1, DIY fire pit, here) We cemented two poles strategically in order to string outdoor lights around the fire pit and landscaping. The two poles will be the beginning of phase 3 of the backyard remodel, which will be a full gazebo. More to come on this soon (hopefully).

Here are the step-by-step instructions along with links to the supplies.

Supplies:
2 – 8 foot pre-treated wooden posts
2 long nails
2 bags of quick dry cement
Outdoor string lights
Level

Instructions:

  1. Measure spots for both poles each from the back of the house as well as the distance from each other.
  2. Mark the two spots.
  3. Dig a hole about 18″ in circumference and 2 feet deep.
  4. Fill the hole half way with water.
  5. Pour in one bag of the quick dry cement.
  6. Use a level to even out the pole all directions (top and sides).
  7. Hold in place for a few minutes. It will fully dry in about a couple of hours.
  8. Repeat #’s 3 -7 for the second post.
  9. Once completely dry, put a nail in the top of each post.
  10. String lights from the house, then to first post, then to second post and finally back to the house.

*My apologies for the fuzzy photos.  It was near dark or completely dark and they were taken with my phone.

DIY Firepit

BootsFirePit Firepit with Chairs Gloves Backyard in progress Backyard complete

I have been wanting a fire pit in our backyard for a while now and with the cooler weather, I thought this would be a great time to build one.  Honestly, the fire pit is super easy to build, but you will definitely want some extra muscle to help carry these stones.  They are super heavy.  Here are the step-by-step instructions along with links to the supplies.

Supplies:
36 Retaining Wall Stones12″ x 4″
Bag of sand
2 bags of pea gravel or river rocks

Instructions:

  1. Mark off the area where the fire pit will be placed.
  2. Kill (with weed and grass killer) and/or pull all grass and weeds in the marked off area.
  3. Using a rake, shovel or your hands, level off the marked area.
  4. Place 12 stones (first layer) in a circle putting the stones flush against each other.
  5. Place the next 12 stones (second layer) staggering the placement.
  6. Place the last 12 stones (third layer) staggering the placement.
  7. Pour the bag of sand inside the circle of stones and level with hands.
  8. Pour both bags of rocks into the pit and level with hands.
  9. Do any other landscaping you’d like to give it a finishing touch.
  10. Put chairs around the fire pit.
  11. Grab a drink and enjoy.

Family Time

D catching football D running with ball D Throwing Football Danica on Treys BackMom and Dad in Street Mom Catching Ball Mom dad and Trey playing football Nell after getting pushed in pool Nell Mad Papa throwing football Trey and Papa Throwing Football Trey Catching Ball Trey Caught D Trey Chasing D 2 Trey Chasing D Trey throwing FootballTrey trying to tackle D

The season was over at my dad’s work after him putting in 150 days straight (or something crazy like that).  So, he came for a visit.  We spent some great quality time together at their future retirement home.  We played a lot of football, Mom and I did crafts, I got thrown into the cold pool fully clothed (hence the mean face pic), we grilled out surf and turf, and watched the Saints beat the Packers in the Sunday night football game. Good times, good times!

Date Night :: Sunset Views

Everglades Sawgrass View Nell Laughing in Road Steve on the RoadMoon Sliver Steve Walking to Everglades Canal by the EvergladesNell Pointing to the Everglades Steves Silloutte The Long Road Date Night Selfie B&W8 foot alligator Nell Walking in the Everglades

Date night involved a wings and beer dinner, some beautiful sunsets over the expanse of the grassy Florida Everglades, an 8 foot alligator, and some unexpected off-roading in the truck. Trespassing may have been involved just a tad. Oops!

Wintertime

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With Thanksgiving approaching and wintertime upon us, I felt it was a good time to just simply say that I’m thankful. I am an outdoorsy girl; a beach girl. We have lived in south Florida now for 8 years and I will never get tired of the warm weather. While everyone else is bunkering down for the cold, we are surfing. I love only having two seasons. The beach is my happy place and I get the privilege of enjoying it all year long. I am thankful.