Friday, July 31, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings

We had way too much fun in a...
...sunflower maze at a farm out east.  Sunflowers make everyone happy, right?
The entrance fee was a little high at $5 per person, but it was worth it for my kid's ages.
An adult could have gotten out in 10 minutes, but my kids extended that to about an hour.
They also had fun playing with a pony, a giant ear of corn, and the cow playground.
Sadly, we didn't get to take home any sunflowers.  Although, these probably wouldn't have fit in my vase!
For those asking about the bees..  Yes, there were lots.  No they didn't bother us.  I only screamed once!  :)

I'm feeling nostalgic listening to...
...Socco Amaretto Lime by Brand New on repeat.  This was my Summer anthem over a decade ago.
In high school and my early 20s, Brand New was one of my favorite bands with this song being #1.
Over ten years later, and this song holds a whole new meaning.  Basically, I'm old.
"...And stay awake through summer like we own the heat."

I'm wishing my baby brother...
...a VERY HAPPY 29th  BIRTHDAY!!  Here's to ending the decade with health and happiness.

I'm absolutely and completely OBSESSED with...
...Pinterest!  I can't stop creating pins, boards, and just organizing all 10 years worth of posts.
Pinterest even introduced me to a new graphic design site that's free where you can make such pretty things.
Here's to no more cheesy pictures on Blogger.  Hopefully I can create some cool graphics now!

We're getting ready for...
...our trip to Kalahari in the Poconos!  It's to celebrate my hubby's 30th birthday.
While it's not somewhere I'd pick to go, I'm looking forward to getting away for a while.
I'm packing my bathing suits, flip flops, sunscreen, and fedora.  & dieting.  Lot's of dieting..

Calling all experienced mommies because...
...I don't know what to do with my son!  He's too big for a high chair and too small for a dining chair.
How do you feed your children without them crashing onto the floor in the interim?
He tried to flip the high chair over with himself strapped into it a week ago.
Then he threw himself off the dining chair while eating a cookie a few days later.
Is there an answer for this or should he just have to eat on the floor until he's big enough for a chair?!  Help!!

What are your Friday Ramblings?
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Life: Cafe Il Villaggio

For my husband's 30th birthday, I wanted to surprise him with a nice night out.  Besides, we haven't been to a restaurant in almost 2 years because my son just wasn't ready..  For the special event, I chose one of our favorite Italian restaurants called Cafe Il Villaggio in Babylon Village.  Cafe Il Villaggio is a restaurant tucked into the heart of Babylon Village on the south shore of Long Island.  This restaurant stands out because the owners are from Sicily and the menu reflects it with Sicilian dishes.  It's not easy to find a Sicilian menu.  Most restaurants serve traditional Italian or Italian-American food.  Long story short, I made the perfect choice for my husband's surprise 30th birthday dinner.  The food was perfect.  The service was amazing.  The dessert was on point.  & my son even behaved!

cafe il villagio babylon village

Cafe Il Villaggio | Babylon Village | NY

Cafe Il Villaggo was super accommodating to work with, even during a pandemic.  They had outdoor seating available along with limited indoor seating with required social distancing.  The staff all wore masks, along with the patrons, with the exception of when they were seated at their table.  They took my reservation a week in advance and even made a note to surprise the birthday boy with dessert.  The table was prepped in the corner of the restaurant away from guests and with a high chair for our son.

We started with our favorite appetizer, fried calamari, a beer for my man, and a glass of moscato for me.  Oh, and HOT, fresh bread.  Baby boy was dancing in his high chair when he saw that.  Seriously!  My daughter ordered her absolute favorite dish ever, the classic spaghetti with meatballs.  The portion was big enough to feed her, my gavon of a son, and have leftovers for a lunch.  My husband ordered their shrimp monochino which was absolute perfection.  I ordered the special of the night, spaghetti in a wine sauce with tomatoes and clams.  It was delicious!

Before we knew it, over an hour passed of delicious food and entertaining conversation.  The whole staff came out from the wall behind my husband with dessert, a lit candle, and was singing.  His face was priceless as the whole restaurant put their attention on him and joined in on the the song.

His birthday dessert was a traditional Sicilian dessert known as cassatelle.  Cassatelle look like empanadas, but taste like a cannoli stuffed zeppoli.  In other words, they're heaven!  The kids ate their cassatelle and were spoiled with gelato imported straight from Italy.

We were packing up and getting ready to end our night, when the owner took the time to say hello.  Even the patrons took time to tell us how beautiful our kids were and to wish my husband a happy birthday.  For those unfamiliar with Long Island, friendly conversation is not the norm for around here.  It felt like we were dining in a Sicilian village and running into our old family friends.

I would highly recommend Cafe Il Villaggio for food and service.

What is your favorite cuisine?
Monday, July 27, 2020

List: Ten ideas to bring excitement back into your life.

A few weeks back, I found myself sending out pleas for help to bring excitement into my life.  That's when I started thinking, I've been down this dreaded road before.  Many times, actually.  See in 2016 and again in 2012.  Sigh...  Both posts are from two very different times in my life proving that life can be mundane despite circumstance.  I don't mean mundane or boring in the sense of a lack of drive or responsibility.  The boring I'm referring to comes from a mundane routine where every day is predictable.  While I recognize that some people relish in a life that's stable and predictable, that's just not me.  I crave spontaneity, excitement, and up hill mountains that need to be climbed.  Here's a new list of simple ways to bring excitement back into your world without sacrificing morals.  Hopefully three times really is the charm..

how to break a mundane routine; how to enjoy life again

Ten ideas to bring excitement back into your life.

1.  Plan a weekly date that doesn't involve family.
This could be a date with yourself or a friend.  Either way, break routine by changing company.  ..or by opting for no company.  Trust me when I say this is the biggest change of all!  The dates don't have to be long or costly.  It's just a simple pleasure to indulge and look forward to.

2.  Set up a monthly game night with your favorite people.
It may be difficult to coordinate something weekly, but monthly is typically doable.  Break your routine by setting up competitive fun.  Loser has to host the next game night!

3.  Take a lunch break at least once a week and share it with someone.
This break from the work day is sometimes all that you need to get you through the second half.  Lunch breaks are far and few between these days.  Lunch breaks with company are almost extinct.  Dedicate yourself to getting a slice of pizza or sitting in the lunchroom with a coworker once a week.  If you get a good enough vent session or belly laugh in there, you'll be good for a few more days!

4.  Volunteer your time to an organization that you believe in.
In the past, I've dedicated time to various fundraisers but never anything that I initiated.  In order to spend more time with my daughter, I decided to become a catechist.  As a catechist, I would be able to teach religion to the kiddies, including my little Mushy Face.

5.  Create a Blog and write lists for random people on the internet.
When you put it that way, it does sound a tad bit pathetic, doesn't it?  Well, IDC, because I enjoy it!  I have lots of fun in Blogger and have made quite a few friends and acquaintances through here.  My second favorite part is seeing all the people that came to my page through different Google inquiries.

6.  Plan for at least one monthly family outing.
I'm at the point in my life where date nights don't matter quite as much as a family outing.  Your monthly family date will break up routine and be something that everyone looks forward to.  This could be as simple as a fishing day, as fun as a school play, and as crazy as a day of go kart racing!

7.  Host a Love Love Party with your closest girlfriends.
When I was about 20 years old, I hosted a Love Love Party and it was a night to remember!  This is a juicy party guaranteed to give laughs as the host tries to sell all different types of sex toys.  Similar to a Tupperware party, the host gets credits based on other people's purchases.  I almost died when I got a $1200 credit!  Does that mean that I have kinky friends?  My second favorite was seeing everyone squirm during anal beads BINGO!

8.  Volunteer your time to babysit the kiddies.
This may sound counterproductive to what we're trying to accomplish here, but hear me out.  You'll have lots of fun with all the babies by playing games, watching movies, and making snacks.  This is a definite break from your daily routine and gives you much needed time with other people's kiddies.  Double win - You'll have an IOU for a future babysitting day when you're in need!

9.  Plan a seasonal mini road trip.
While I would love to take a seasonal vacation, let's just face the fact we'll never be rich enough for that!  We can wait to hit the lotto, but in the interim, settle for a seasonal mini adventure.  This could be a self guided tour in a nearby town, a day at the aquarium, or a road trip to a new beach.  To qualify, it should take at least two hours to get to your destination so it feels like a getaway!

10.  Periodically change up your look.
Imagine the moment of bliss that you get every time you open a new tube of mascara then times it by 10.  You can get a new outfit, new hair style, or even simply change your shade of lip stick.  This barely noticeable change in your appearance is going to leave you feeling fresh for a while!

What do you do for excitement?

Friday, July 24, 2020

Recipe: How to cook homegrown Japanese Eggplant (Ichiban).

japanese eggplant

japanese eggplant recipe; ichiban recipe; what vegetables to grow in the garden; exotic vegetables; easiest vegetables to gow

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

How to cook Japanese Eggplant.

What is Japanese Eggplant?  

This is a long, thin eggplant with a delicate taste and less chewy texture.  I prefer it over regular eggplant because the seeds are so tiny that they're almost nonexistent.  The only problem with this vegetable is that you can't buy it in the regular grocery store.  The only way that I can get my hands on it is to grow it in my garden.

You can find seeds for Japanese eggplant by clicking here.

Easy recipe to cook Japanese Eggplant:

Chop the eggplant into rectangular pieces like pictured above.  Add (2) tablespoons olive oil, a pad of butter, a tablespoon of garlic powder, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  If desired, add (1) diced tomato and a handful of fresh basil leaves.  Sautee on medium heat, mixing often, for about 20 minutes or until tender.

The pad of butter is an important ingredient because it helps the eggplant release itself from the pan.  Additionally, since it's a very absorbent vegetable, the butter helps from keeping the eggplant from soaking up too much oil.

What veggies are you growing in the garden?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Ideas: Ten unique & inexpensive anniversary gift ideas for five years of marriage.

As I shared earlier in the week, this weekend we will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary.  The traditional gift for a 5th anniversary is something that consists of wood.  That leaves us with many more options to get something to represent our anniversary.  The past traditional gifts were a little more difficult to follow such as cotton, leather, and flowers.  We opted to purchase a piece of wooden furniture since it is something that we can both enjoy.  We've been saving for the buffet table to match our dining set.  Took us 5 years, but worth the wait!  Before committing to the long awaited purchase, I did brainstorm a few other ideas to share here.

wooden anniversary gift ideas; wooden gift ideas; anniversary presents; five year anniversary present; 5 year anniversary

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Anniversary gift ideas for 5 years of marriage.

To make this fifth anniversary gift extra special, fill it with your pictures from your favorite moments.  On the back of the pictures, you can write the date, event, and why it's so special to you.  This album is so pretty that it could be put on display in your home where guests are bound to browse!
Can be found here.

A wooden trunk to place at the foot of your bed is one of my favorite ideas for a wooden anniversary gift.  You can use it to store linens, photographs, and more making this a luxuriously functional gift.  For the record, this was my second choice behind the buffet table!  Isn't it pretty?
Can be found here.

After we purchased our home, the real estate agent gifted us with this and we absolutely love it.  It's something that you will use at all your special events and holiday dinners making it the perfect fifth anniversary gift.  Besides, cheese = love, right?!
Can be found here.

I've always loved the look of wooden shutters to match the front door of your home.  This is something you both could enjoy in celebration of your fifth wedding anniversary.  I've also seen shutters hung with a faux window as a statement piece inside of a friend's home.
Can be found here.

If you're looking for the ultimate wooden anniversary gift, you can always go straight to the source!  A tree is a gift that will continue to grow and may outlive your lifetime.  A birch tree has many symbolic meanings in different cultures making it a perfect choice.  Bonus points if you be all romantic and carve your initials into the trunk of tree!
Can be found here.

A wooden game set is classic coffee table decor and a fun way to play with your spouse.
Can be found here.

This is something that I had in an old apartment I rented.  It was the most useful thing ever.  If you're looking for another practical wooden gift, this may a good choice.  Some even come complete with a mail holder which absolutely doubles it's purposefulness.  Oh, and it can hold the "key to your heart"!  Too cheesy?  Agreed, let's move on..
Can be found here.

Coasters are a household must, especially when you have furniture that you're trying to protect.  These little discs can remind you of your five year anniversary every time they defend your furniture!
Can be found here.

A cute way to acknowledge your fifth anniversary could be to start a home for a feathery mr. & mrs.
Can be found here.

This wooden planter is a great way to bond while purchasing something that you'll have for years.  You can fill your planter with your favorite vegetables or fruits in a neat and organized way.  This is a great fifth anniversary gift idea for the couples with a green thumb or a love for the outdoors.
Can be found here.

What are your 5th anniversary gift ideas?

Monday, July 20, 2020

List: Ten anniversary celebration ideas.

My husband and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this weekend.  While we don't get each other gifts, we like to make this a special day sans any kiddies.  Since it's a big thing to get some alone time, we try to put some thought into the evening.

My favorite anniversary celebration was for our third year of marriage.  It was my favorite because my husband planned it all on his own and it was full of little surprises.  He took me to a small French restaurant because my biggest dream is to travel to France.  He surprised me with the champagne from our wedding day and a gorgeous display of flowers.  He ended the night with my favorite dessert and a dance to our wedding song in our living room.  He also accidentally ate chicken liver which is something we still laugh about today.  It was a simple evening, but it was sweet and very thoughtful.

The moral of the story is that extravagant gifts and/or trips are nice, but it's not what matters.  It's the thought and relevant little surprises that you do for your partner that win the day.

how to celebrate an anniversary; things to do anniversary; ideas to celebrate anniversary

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten anniversary celebration ideas.

1.  Recreate a meaningful event.
Whether it be a first date or a favorite date, reinvent it for your anniversary and experience it in a whole new way!  Our first date was at a small cafe/sports bar.  We never returned, but we point it out whenever we pass it.  How about reliving your worst date ever together?  That could end in laughs.  Maybe..

2.  Go on a chocolate tour.
Many large cities have dessert or chocolate tours that you can venture out on together.  While a beer or bar crawl doesn't really scream "romance" to me, bring on the chocolate tour!

Idea:  Don't want to venture out of your house?  Try doing a chocolate tour of you own with this chocolate variety pack.  Up the fun by pairing it with different wines.  Enjoy this fun and intimate night discovering your new favorite chocolate!

3.  Enjoy an evening dinner cruise.
Get tickets for a reputable dinner cruise for your anniversary where you'll spend a unique and romantic evening.  You'll both enjoy a meal, cocktails, and maybe even some dancing while floating on the water.  Peep the world "reputable".  We did a night cruise after our prom.  It was so not anniversary appropriate.

4.  Spend the day at a winery.
Take a drive out to a local winery.  Pair and taste different wines with meat and cheese offerings.  With the beautiful scenery and the inevitable buzz, this could be a real romantic anniversary day date.

Idea:  Make your wooden gift for a five year anniversary a wicker picnic basket like this one.  Fill it with delicious colds meats, cheeses, and breads to eat with your wines.  Then win the romance award by making your winery picnic an annual tradition!

5.  Create a DIY annual anniversary item.
Each anniversary year represents a different item.  For example, year four is flowers and year five is wood.  For our 4th anniversary, my daughter and I hand pressed a rose from our garden and framed it.  With wood for a fifth anniversary, the opportunities for homemade decor are endless.  If you're crafty, spend the day doing a thought out DIY to represent that year of marriage.  Just don't share what you made for the year of leather.  We don't want to know!

6.  Go to a local fair.
For your anniversary date, you can share a funnel cake, kiss at the top of the Ferris wheel, and win your sweetheart a stuffed bear.

7.  Tour a local mansion or castle.
I never thought of this as a romantic outing until we toured the Flagler mansion on our honeymoon.  We got to hide away in a gorgeous garden, learn history, and see a room made out of gold.  We've also visited the Vanderbilt mansion.  We saw a planetarium, gorgeous courtyards, and a real mummy.  No two mansions or castles are created equal.  Go have fun exploring together!

8.  Have a bowling match.
Bowling is always a fun night out, especially when you get competitive.  Loser does the week's laundry?

9.  Make a faux wedding cake together.
Using YouTube as your guide, bake a multi layer cake together and decorate it like a professional.  Recreate the moment you cut your original wedding cake with your new one.  ..& be prepared with champagne...lots and lots of champagne..

Idea:  Gift your sweetheart with this cake decorating kit for your anniversary!  You'll have a memorable night making your first one together and can do it each year going forward.

10.  Go on an fancy picnic.
I love the romantic passages in novels of a couple on a picnic enjoying fresh bread and cold meats.  They usually enjoy a bottle of wine, make a crown out of daisies, and talk about their dreams.  While I've never been on a picnic, it's on my bucket list and would it it as an anniversary date.  Preferably in a place with no bugs, crowds, or sand.

Idea:  Give your lover this picnic basket set for 4 as an anniversary set and enjoy this quality time together often!

What was your most romantic date?

Friday, July 17, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings

I bet that you are all...
...wondering what the heck you're looking at in that picture!
Well, it's a picture of my home grown lemon next to an ear bud for scale.
My little lemon finally produced fruit!!!  Too bad it's the size of a lemon shaped tear drop...
I was little disappointed that I couldn't eat it, but am looking forward to next year's harvest.

On the flip side, we are having...
...hearty harvests of Japanese eggplant, red peppers, and tomatoes!

We have officially cancelled...
...or at least rescheduled, our trip to Disney in September.
My babies are in Summer camp and are partially cared for by my grandparents.
As sad as we are to push it out again, it just wasn't worth it to put others at risk.
We weren't happy with face masks in the heat.  We were disappointed with no character dining.
Then we watched the positive cases climb to >10,000 a day and decided to admit defeat.

We still see the light because...
...while we aren't rocking Disney, we'll still take a few days to explore.
We'll be taking a road trip to Rhode Island to spend a few days as tourists.
They have lots of historical sites, beaches, mansions, and other fun things to enjoy.

I almost cursed out a...
...a mom at my kid's school/Summer camp for being a rude, self centered woman!
Before drop off, you wait in the lobby area for temperature checks and for the kid's escort.
Adults have to wear masks and social distance, which means one family in the lobby at a time.
I was patiently waiting outside the lobby door for the family in there to finish their process.
It was raining, I was late for work, and baby boy was beating me up.  But, I follow rules.
Then this LADY cuts right in front of me and pushes her kids into the lobby.
She completely ignored social distancing, the school's rules, the family inside, AND us already waiting.
Listen, we're all in a rush to make it to work on time, but slow your roll, WOMAN!!!!!
Those rules are in place to keep our children safe, us all healthy, and to RESPECT each other's fears.
Let me end my rant right here before I say something not lady like.. errrr..

I'm happy to report...
...that I got the MRI results.  My brain was declared "unremarkable".  Insert sigh of relief here.
Thank you all for the well wishes, good vibes, and prayers!
We're still unsure what's causing the hearing loss other than possibly TMJ.
Since I'm not comfortable with that answer, I'm going for a second opinion.

What are your Friday Ramblings?
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Let's Discuss: Wayfair Scandal

I had to interrupt my scheduled R&W posts to talk about this sooner than later.  Which, BTW, is a big deal for my OCD!  I erased on my R&W calendar which made smudges..

Yesterday I read an article that struck a nerve, or in modern terms, took me "down the rabbit hole".
It was about the Wayfair Scandal.
First I felt denial, then interest, then fear, and eventually sick to my stomach over it.  Yes, I was actually afraid.  I posted about it on Facebook and took it down over fear for my babies.  The past few months have been filled with all sorts of hell, but let's draw the line at children.  When it comes to children being hurt, I just don't have the stomach for it.

The Wayfair & Amazon Scandal

Wayfair was selling extremely overpriced storage cabinets on their website.  These cabinets were all labeled with with girl's names that were recently listed as missing children.  The theory is that this is how sex traffickers were selling stolen children.  It's ok, I started with denial at this point too.  It sounds crazy, right?

The first thing I did was try to find WFX Utility cabinets, or anything similar, priced that high.  After 20 minutes of searching, I gave up.  They just aren't sold for that price.  The second thing I did was cross reference those uncommon female names to missing people.  Every single one of them came up as a child that recently was listed as a missing person.  This is where the interest started because the conspiracy theory is looking to be true.

The next step down the rabbit hole was a mad dash to get information through the internet.  Common people were finding similarly unreasonable priced items with female names.  One was a pillow for $10k, named after a missing child, and with crazy shipping terms b/c it was heavy?  Another one was a crazy priced shower curtain that was proven to be worth <$100.  Now I started to get really afraid.  Are my kids at risk?  Are other people's kids safe?

Then I started looking up some examples myself through Wayfair & Amazon using the sort feature.  I'd type in a common, typically inexpensive home item and sort from price highest to lowest.  These items existed.  They were in front of me.  I could purchase them.  Then I noticed there were reviews on these items.  Sick, crazy reviews that clearly weren't about a pillow or a shower curtain.  Take a peek at this article.  It does a great job posting screenshots of these reviews.  One man wrote about a pillow that he first used on his jet and another about how it had the Midas Touch.  Are you sick to your stomach yet?  I certainly am and even more so after posting this.

Wayfair responded saying that the allegations are absolutely not true and took down the items.  Amazon has yet to respond as of Monday morning, but I'm sure it's on it's way soon.  Many of us are waiting for their response to cancel Prime subscriptions and boycott business.

The final step to all of this was fact checking the information with fact checkers.  According to Snopes, it isn't true due to lack of evidence but did a poor job of disproving it.  I checked several other popular fact checkers and none were able to disprove it.

The bottom line is this, true or not, the possibility of this is sickening.  What's worse is, why is there hardly any media coverage on this or people talking about it?  Something this big and this serious should be investigated thoroughly with a big push from media.  The media shoves garbage down our throats daily.  Now that they should be, they aren't?  In the meantime, what is something substantial that we can do to end sex tracking?  I want to help.  I want to save these children.  I also want to puke and cry at the same time.

What are your thoughts on this?
Monday, July 13, 2020

List: How to plan a family vacation in St. Augustine, FL.

Last year we took a really, really long road trip from Long Island to St. Augustine.  While I've vacationed in many places throughout Florida, St. Augustine was new to me.  We were traveling for my cousin's wedding, but decided that drive warranted some personal days.

To be completely honest, I was not looking forward to this trip at all.  It was an expensive trip, funded by money that we didn't have, to go to a place I never heard of.  ...but The Viking put his foot down.  My cousin came to my wedding so I had to reciprocate.  I was convinced that there wouldn't be much to do there so I didn't even make an itinerary!  Let's just say that I was so, terribly wrong and that I'm so glad we took the trip.

St. Augustine travel trips

How to plan a family vacation to St. Augustine.

St. Augustine is an absolutely beautiful place filled with plenty of stuff to do.  One side of St. Augustine is packed with history, activities, and lots of must see sites.  The other side is dedicated to the beach with a lively strip of beach side fun including restaurants and shops.  With both sides to St. Augustine, there's something for everyone with enough to do to fill a week.

Hotel Recommendations:

Knowing this, I recommend staying on the beach side of the city since the historical area is less than a 5 minute drive away.

The Embassy Suites by Hilton (link) has beachfront access, a gorgeous pool, immaculate rooms, and a decent restaurant.  It also has direct access to the beach with private chairs and umbrellas.  I stayed here with my husband and it was absolutely fabulous.

The Hilton Garden Inn (link) is a more economical choice that's ideal for a family with kids.  I stayed here during our most recent visit with both my children and it was great!  It's literally next door to the Embassy Suites, just not as upscale.  The hotel still has private beach access except you need to bring your own chair or rent one.

things to do in st. augustine, hotel recommendations for st. augustine with beach access

Ten family friendly things to do in St. Augustine.

There is so much to see in the historic district that it becomes seriously overwhelming.  This tour does a fabulous job of pointing them all out to you with the option of hopping off to jump on later.  While this is a very high level tour, it's a great starting point for your trip so that you can highlight your biggest wants.  Note-  This was a little scary with an 11 month old child.  There's no straps or place to put a car seat.

This isn't your typical visit to a local lighthouse.  Prepare to spend at least half a day here because there's lots to see.  The highlight is obviously climbing to the top of the lighthouse and looking over the balcony.  Unfortunately, I didn't go up thanks to the warning signs of mating paper wasps up top.  That's a big NO from me!  There are several smaller buildings filled with artifacts to look at and tidbits of history to be learned.  There's also a refreshment stand with surprisingly tasty treats, a butterfly garden, nature trails, and a playground.

We ate at several different restaurants, but this was my favorite of them all.  There's outdoor seating, yummy beverages, and a huge array of fresh seafood all with a beach vibe.  There's also live music, onsite photographer, and an overall fun environment.  It's the perfect seaside eating spot.

I didn't get to spend much time here, but you could easily have a lovely afternoon shopping in the historic district.  It's filled with dozens of local shops with unique finds and ancient alleyways begging to be explored.  If we ever return, I hope to spend a day exploring all the shops and eateries.  They were practically calling my name!

The colonial experience at Colonial Quarter was maybe the best stop we made on our trip.  The tour was packed with information and debunked many historical facts that we believed to be true.  There was a watchtower to climb, ancient artifacts, blacksmith lessons, and even a musket shooting demonstration.  Our tour guide was dressed in colonial attire, filled with information, and possibly the smartest man I ever met.

As the nation's oldest city, there's bound to be an unlimited number of hauntingly good ghost stories.  While I didn't get to go myself, my cousins went and said it was one of the best ghost tours they experienced.  For the record, this is the ONE thing I was begging to do, but we ran out of time.  I vow to return and see this!

This was one of the coolest things we got to see since it's existence dates back to 1891.  While they do offer tours for a fee, we opted to skip another paid tour and experience the jail on our own.  The best part was being caught putting my baby into a bird cage jail cell.  My captor imprisoned the whole family!

We got to appreciate the magnificence of the world's oldest masonry fort in the US from the outside.  We didn't get to enjoy a tour and get to see all the fun history lurking on the inside, but I heard it was great!  From the moment you enter historic St. Augustine, this fort is in view and completely takes your breathe away.  We learned a bit about the fort during the colonial experience and know that we must return to see behind the walls.

This was fascinating to see and definitely something to check off of a bucket list, but I wish we did the fort instead.  The price of the tour was high for something so tiny.  The tour was great, but also very short for the price.  See it if you have the time and money, but peek through the windows if you don't and go see something else.  This is not to be confused with the oldest schoolhouse.  That's in Staten Island and also on my bucket list to see!

When you purchase tickets for the trolley tour, you get free tickets for this museum experience.  I wouldn't have paid extra money to see this, but it was still a cool place to visit.  It's a self guided walk through tour with tons of things to see and play with.  The kiddie's loved that it was interactive!

If we ever return, I hope to visit one of the famous distilleries, the pirate museum, aquarium, and alligator farm.  The Fountain of Youth, agricultural museum, Whetstone chocolate tour, and Fort Matanzas are also on my bucket list.  I'd also take the time to tour all of the historic churches, museums, and enjoy more restaurants and night life.

Have you ever been to St. Augustine?
Friday, July 10, 2020

Life: Friday Ramblings

My heart is melting because... baby girl made this letter for her baby brother with zero adult influence!
They bicker like most siblings do, but their bond is stronger than anything I hoped for.
The picture is the best because it shows baby boy spraying her with the hose.  Hence the look of surprise.. lol!

It felt ridiculously good to...
...return to the office!  The kiddies are back to part time day care and I'm back to part time peace.
It was so nice to see coworkers that I haven't seen in 3 months and even nicer to sit in an office chair.

I'm beyond relieved...
...that the last phase of lay offs has officially ended at my job.  Let's hope they are done for good.
I knew that people would be impacted, but I'm shocked at how many people were actually let go.
COVID19 is destroying lives in more ways than one.  We can only hope we see an end soon.

I saw the light when... was the first day in my new position.  I was sad to change roles, but it may be for the best.
I now have a supportive boss with clear goals and a manageable work load.
If I learned anything from this, work is not life so don't sacrifice pieces of it for anything.
This new role may be the perfect fit for me, demotion and all.

I'm totally loving...
...the new area rug for my office!  The play yard was removed and it's time to make it a real space.
The area rug is the start.  We're planning a way to make it into an office and den combo.

I'm freaking the hell out because...
...a visit to the ENT for a simple buzzing in my ear ended in disaster.
Turns out I have mild hearing loss in both ears due to nerve damage and now need a MRI.
While the doctor thinks TMJ is the culprit, they need to rule out the existence of any blockages.
To rule them out, I need to get a MRI of the brain.  Excuse me while I go cry again!
This sent my health anxiety to the edge.  I've been shaking ever since.
Here's to a healthy brain without any growths anywhere!

What are your Friday Ramblings?