Painting. Not as easy as it should be.



After we painted the ceilings with ceiling paint, we set our sights on the rest of the walls. We had decided on a blue for the kitchen and dining room, but were undecided on the walls for the living room. We tried a chocolate color for an accent color and a light tan for the rest of the walls. Except after painting everything, we hated the light tan color. Which lead to this-


After painting 6 samples on the wall, we finally settled on the one shade that my friend had been suggesting that we consider from the start- Tawny Taupe. We loved it. Another trip to the store and the painting was completed. We were so eager to be done and move to the next phase that we wasted no time painting.

Next up, flooring!

And if you have to fix the floors, you have to paint, and if you paint, you fix the ceiling…

Shortly after we started planning what materials to replace our floors with, it occurred that we would need to repaint. And if we needed to repaint, why not replace the ceiling texture?
We had Gavin’s ceiling scraped and retextured a couple of years ago due to a leaky ridge vent in the roof. Since that time, we had often discussed retexturing the ceiling in the rest of the house. It’s a dusty, messy process to go through. However, we were planning to move the majority of our furniture into the garage for most of the remodel anyways, so why not start earlier? It was quickly decided to scrape and retexture the living, dining & kitchen ceilings. We stopped short of any other rooms in the house as we were still trying to live there. (Seriously, what were we thinking?)



As you can see, it was musty and dusty. Isaac Grant was our sheetrock guy and he did a stellar job. In addition to scraping everything, he repaired several places that needed new tape or were finished incorrectly. After that, he added new texture called Skip Trowel.

This was the texture added to the ceilings throughout our living areas. Man, it is pretty. Now Isaac doesn’t paint, so we were left to do that part ourselves.

Once the ceilings were fully painted, we turned our attention to the walls. And we had quite a few walls to consider.

It all started with a leaky dishwasher…

Last December I cleaned my house thoroughly for a home appraisal for a refinance. I am an appraiser and know that we don’t check under furniture but my manic cleaning defied logic. There is “friend clean”, “family from out of town clean” and then there is “stranger clean.” (You know, the “I have to have this house immaculate” level of clean.) In my ferver to make the house beautiful and illogically do better on the appraisal, I was moving furniture and frantically cleaning. I pulled out the couch and was horrified. My wood floors were black.

Apparently something was leaking and doing this. I narrowed it down to my dishwasher. The traitorous appliance was leaking from a back drain line to the wall between the kitchen and living room. Hubby quickly replaced it with a shiny new stainless steel dishwasher that is so quiet, I don’t realize that it’s running half the time. Unfortunately the damage was already done. Discolored floors and a cracked cabinet later, we decided to contact our homeowners insurance to determine what we should do next. I was concerned about mold, especially under the wood floors where moisture had been an issue for such an undiscovered long time.


After the insurance adjuster came out, he quickly determined that there was not mold visible under the kitchen cabinets. He did decide to pay to replace the wood flooring and half of the kitchen cabinets. I think they were fair with their assessment and settlement. However it was just the start of a grand, messy adventure for us.

This is part 1 of the kitchen/living area remodel. The rest of the story I plan to post as quick as I can write it over the next few days.

A few notes: my homeowners insurance is currently through Frontline purchased through Brian Brennan/Ken Spraggins with Affordable Home Insurance. If you need insurance in the Destin area, please call them. They are truly awesome. (No one is paying me to write any of this. I just really like all of the companies I’m going to post about here.)

Bunco night

Destin is a neat community. So many of the full time residents cross paths on a regular basis. It is such a common thing that I joke with Cam that there is less than two degrees of separation between most of the people here. Even if you aren’t a local, after a week or so you will have run into someone that I know.

To help increase the camaraderie with the moms in the area, one of our group started a Bunco night once a month. If you’ve ever played Bunco, you can attest to how easy it is. Really the point of the game is to drink wine and catch up on the latest gossip with the excuse of rolling dice and occasionally yelling Bunco! (Something you get when you roll all the dice in the chosen number for the round.) I’ve played for charity before and with other groups but this group has been fun, mostly because I know some of the ladies with enough new faces to expand my circle of friends.

Last week was our monthly Bunco meeting and we met at the local offices of a real estate group owned by our hostess. We spent more time socializing than usual, so it was tossed around as to if we should play or just hang out more. Then our hostess brought out a different dice game to try.

It was called Left Right Center and was easy to pick up, even after a glass of wine. We photocopied a few ones to represent the pot (we each contributed $10) and everyone started with $10 in fake ones.

The point of the game is to end up with all the money. Much of it ends up in the center with some getting passed left or right. Each time someone rolled all dots and got to keep their ones, we passed around a tiara. Everyone had a chance to play princess!





It ended up with Audrey and Tina having the last of the pot and deciding to split it.


The entire evening was a blast and I can’t wait to see what next month holds!

Do you play Bunco in your area?

South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival

The South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival was this past weekend at Grand Boulevard outside of Sandestin. The festival is in its 2nd year and is founded by Chan Cox of Chan’s Wine World fame. Chan founded the Sandestin Wine Festival 28 years ago and it has grown year after year. I’ve attended the Sandestin Wine Fest numerous years and my wine glass collection is all the greater for it.

(photo from SoWalWine website)

The layout of the festival made great use of Grand Boulevard’s space with separate areas laid out to prevent a crowded feeling. Champagne Lane had its own champagne flutes available at the entrance along with a bubble machine providing the proper festive ambiance. There were also Godiva truffles at the champagne booths to bring out the flavors of the bubbly. The tasting tents for the typical white and red wines were spaced well enough apart that the afternoon breeze kept the crowds cool.

My sister’s favorite wine was Tin Roof Chardonnay represented by Mandie with O’Neill Vintners & Distributors. I chatted with a few of the reps throughout the festival and she was the nicest we found. Mandie also told us about living in Myrtle Beach, SC versus us living in Destin and Niceville. My sister watches a show centered in Myrtle Beach and they hit it off quite well. (Photo below of my sister Angie & Mandie)

In addition the the wines, this festival also featured an array of spirits that rivaled any that I’ve seen (in my limited knowledge of wine festivals).

20140428-212343.jpg This area was actually called Spirit Lane, but the majority of the spirits available to sample were whiskey or bourbon. I LOVED this portion of the festival. As much for the novelty of something more than just wine, this area really fed my adventurous side. As I went through the festival, I photographed the different beverages I enjoyed most. As you can see below, most of them were not wine.

In addition to the fine selections above, I also tried St~Germain for the first time. Wow. St~Germain is a liquor made from elder flowers handpicked during a few short weeks in spring and then bicycled(!) to a collection site in France. There are a limited number of bottles made each year and I bought one. It’s a very sweet and aromatic liquor that seems to completely capture the taste and smell of spring. I also nabbed the recipe book for it from the booth so that I can learn how to incorporate this new addition to cocktails the next time I entertain.

Now there were other parts of the festival, but I neglected to properly photograph them. There was a series of songwriters down from Nashville that performed all weekend. There was a tent filled with glorious food. (Paella, cheeses, sushi, salmon, almond ice cream, etc.)
Chans also set up a retail tent for wine accessories as well as all the wines, champagnes and spirits they featured at the festival.

I did not leave empty handed. And I can’t wait to go back next year.

What are your favorite festivals or local events?

My 10 most favorite things to do on a cruise. #SeasTheDay #RoyalCaribbean

A few short weeks ago I went on a 4 night cruise to Cozumel from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on the Liberty of the Seas. I joined 39 other bloggers to experience the bliss of a Royal Caribbean cruise through the Gulf of Mexico to the island of Cozumel. The trip was amazing and the camaraderie rejuvenating. It was the perfect winter escape to raise my spirits!

There were SO many things to do on and off the cruise and I tried to sample it all. Obviously there are only 24 hours in a day and only so many days on the ship, so here are my top 10 favorites, in no particular order.

1. Watch an Ice Skating Show. On a cruise ship in the tropics. It just sounds far fetched, but it is true and fun. Even better, find out when they have open ice skating and go do it. Here is a clip from the show I watched. I couldn’t do this on dry land, much less on ice on a cruise ship in the middle of the Gulf.


2. Eat. This is a given, it is a cruise ship after all. The expectation is that you will eat and in abundance. The food on the Liberty of the Seas was utterly delightful – healthful, fresh and flavorful. (Yes there are decadent, unhealthful options. I did my best not to choose them. Until dessert came around….)  One night I was torn between trying a cold soup as an appetizer or a salad, so I tried them both. They were both good and I’m glad I didn’t miss out. (In truth, I hit the stairs so much that I didn’t gain a pound on the ship!)2 appscheese souffle

3. Decorate Your Door. I know this sounds a little silly, but think about it. You are utterly exhausted from swimming, surfing, shopping, and rock climbing. Not to mention the 2 million flights of stairs you took because really, who has time for an elevator? Having a little something extra on your door helps you find it soooooo much faster. door decorating

4. Go Surfing. Or Bodyboarding. The surfrider on the Liberty of the Seas was awesome and great to watch as well. The wipe outs from young and old were well… hilarious. But fun. Oh so fun. surfrider

5. Learn to Decorate Cupcakes. The cupcake decorating class on the ship was so much fun. I don’t know that I would have tried it out on my own, but after learning more than I thought I could know about how to transfer 2 cupcakes into a dog I am hooked. Seriously, who can resist this face?dog cupcake

6. Order Room Service. Some mornings you just don’t want to go upstairs and eat breakfast in a room full of people. Room service is the answer. My roomie and I ordered eggs, toast, bacon and hash browns one morning and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. room service

I even ended breakfast with a cup of coffee on the balcony. Pure bliss! coffee on balcony

6. Donate a Book to the Ship Library. After you finish your book that you read on the balcony with your cup of java, donate it! Most cruise ships have a library. They can always use more books.library

7.  Go Rock Climbing. This was my absolute favorite part of the ship. I went three times and would have gone back more if time had allowed. I love rock climbing and haven’t had much opportunity since having my boys. Since my family was home for this trip, I went often. I learned that I need to climb more if I want to get back to where I was many moons ago. rock climbingthe wal

8. Get a Massage. Or Facial. Or Both. During our port day I decided to forgo the typical excursions and instead do a bit of shopping and head back to the ship for a little R&R. Most cruise ships have specials for port days since the majority of passengers are off the vessel for other adventures. I got the Traveler’s Special which consisted of a facial, scalp massage, neck, shoulder & back massage and a foot rub. It was heavenly. I haven’t had a massage in at least a year and it was everything I had hoped it would be. I didn’t get a photo of the spa room but here I am with my wonderful spa tech. massage

9. Catch a Musical. The last night on the ship, they had a performance of Saturday Night Fever. The costumes, the set, the actors were all wonderful. They did an amazing job of recreating the feeling from the original 1970’s film and brought it to life on the stage. sat night fever

10. Stay Up Late and See The Quest. This is an audience participation in-room scavenger hunt. The room is divided up into 6 sections and a male and female are selected to be the leaders for each section. Summer was selected from our group and she was PERFECT. Summer in Quest Summer guided us through obtaining lipstick, a photo of the white house, putting men in women’s shoes and ultimately – dressing one dude as a lady. quest guys This photo shows the outcome of each section’s offering for the final challenge. The game was irreverent, engaging and hilarious. Our announcer Jerome was super witty and made the game the event of the cruise.


Even though this is only 10 things – the real number of opportunities on the ship is easily in the triple digits. There is so much to do. Mini golf, arcades, swimming, hot tubs, fitness center, yoga, boxing, spinning, spa, acupuncture, etc. What are YOUR favorite things to do on a cruise ship?


 Cruise provided by Royal Caribbean and Brandfluential. All opinions are my own. (Always.)

I thought I hated cruises. Turns out I was doing it wrong! #SeasTheDay

Last November I went on my first cruise with my husband and two boys. The room was super cramped, the food was meh, and it honestly felt like they were trying to drain every last penny from our wallets. During the ship orientation one of the staff actually said that since we were on vacation, we needed to open our wallets. While the boys did enjoy the trip and my youngest has asked repeatedly to go back on the boat, if I knew cruising was like that experience you would never get me to step foot back on a ship.

Fast forward to last week. I was invited with 39 other bloggers to #SeasTheDay with Royal Caribbean on their vessel Liberty of the Seas. The Liberty of the Seas is a freedom class ship and the third largest cruise ship in the world. It was AMAZING.
Exhibit A:

This was the room on the previous ship. The kids slept in bunk beds over our heads. We were near the engines and could hear the stabilizers throughout the evening.

Versus Exhibit B:

This was my room on the Liberty of the Seas. I shared my room with Heather from OurKidsMom and after we were settled on the cruise, our room steward separated our bed in two twins.

There was so much to do on the ship.
A rock climbing wall…

A wave rider…

A fitness center complete with boxing ring…


Seriously, if you gain weight on a cruise it’s because you chose to, but because of a lack of things to do. I took the stairs between the decks as much as possible and that alone had my calves screaming by the end of each day.
Even the kids areas and arcade were amazing.


The promenade with shops was beautiful and the coffee shop with specialty coffees was my favorite place.


So if someone were to ask me now, “should I go on a cruise?” The answer is a resounding YES! The activities, the food, the shops and places to explore are wonderful. It’s a great reprieve from the day-to-day and even for those of us that live in vacation spots, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

Cruise provided by Royal Caribbean and Brandfluential. All opinions are my own. (Always.)

House concert with Marc Gunn

Last night I attended a house concert at my friends April & John’s house to see Marc Gunn play. It was awesome. I first saw Marc play when he was part of the Brobdingnagian Bards at DragonCon many years ago.

Marc’s music is described as “Celtic music, the traditional and the twisted. Marc Gunn combines his love of traditional Irish drinking songs with fun, twisted lyrics. It’s like a satirical jam session between The Clancy Brothers and Weird Al Yankovic. Enjoy Celtic-style songs about hobbits, cats, kilts, Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, plus, Gunn’s rhythmic acoustic renditions of traditional Scottish and Irish songs.”

Marc introduced new songs I haven’t heard that were delightful along classics that I’ve always enjoyed hearing him play, like the Ballad of Jayne.

Marc also performed an acapella summary of Hamlet. I caught the second half.

Marc has also started podcasts and newsletters supporting the Celtic community. My favorite part on Marc’s network to follow is his Instagram account to see photos of his beautiful wife Gwen and daughter Kenzie. It is awesome to keep up with his lovely family and see how Kenzie is growing up!

I’ll leave you with one more video from last night. Don’t go Drinking with Hobbits! 🙂

What are your favorite Celtic songs?


If you’ve ever met me in person and gotten to know me, you’ll realize I have anxiety. It’s not crippling or life altering, but it is there. I also worry like its my job sometimes. I know the two go hand in hand – Anxiety and Worry. There are a multitude of medications and methods to ease anxiety when it becomes a little too much to bear. Yoga, meditation, exercise, Prozac, Wellbutrin, etc.  I have found exercise, yoga, and meditation to be hugely helpful. Then PMS hits and that tiny little molehill turns into Mt. Everest for a few days. The past few years, I’ve learned to recognize it, name it and work past it. While I know medication is a clinically proven means of dealing with anxiety, I am weary of side effects.

1hour break

In the last year or so, I have seen ads for a product called 1Hour Break all over Facebook. It’s an oral spray to help with anxiety made of herbs like kava kava which are widely known to help relaxation.

A few facts about 1Hour Break:

-First all natural oral spray that relieves stress & anxiety.
-Made from Kava Kava root, widely known in Hawaii for its stress-relieving properties.
-Made more effective by adding three herbs that help with relaxation; Lobelia, Passion Flower, and Lemon Balm.
This is run by a small family start up company.
They are launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for manufacturing and bottling costs without getting big investors involved.

Mamavation has partnered with 1Hour Break to get the word out on their product. If you are unfamiliar with them, Mamavation is a great network of bloggers committed to sustainable living, healthier lifestyles and real food. I knew when I saw that they had partnered with 1Hour Break that it was a product worth checking into.

Mamavation and 1Hour Break are having a Twitter Party on Tuesday to discuss anxiety, stress and ways to cope with stress effectively. Please join in with the hashtag #BeatAnxiety Tuesday evening for prizes, tips to de-stress and a community of peers to connect with!

What are your favorite ways to relax and decompress after a stressful day or during a tense situation?


**I am writing this post on behalf on 1Hour Break to help them spread the word about their Indiegogo campaign launch and open up the discussion on stress and anxiety. All opinions and experiences are my own. I have received no compensation for this post and have not yet tried 1Hour Break.

Seas The Day with Royal Caribbean

I am so excited!! In a few short weeks, I will join 39 other bloggers on a trip of a lifetime – a 4 day trip to Cozumel on the Liberty of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean is sponsoring our group on a wonderful adventure. The Liberty of the Seas is a freedom class ship with tons of activities on board including a rock climbing wall, ice skating rink and even a full size basketball court and boxing ring! While I’m not entirely sure I will make it into the boxing ring, I can’t wait to scale the rock wall a few times.

This will be my second cruise. I went on my first cruise back in November to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral. We sailed to Freeport and Nassau. We had a blast at Atlantis and the kids still talk about going back on the boat. I know that this voyage with Royal Caribbean will be my best trip yet and I am so excited to go!

The next thing I need to plan – my shore excursion. What do you think I should try?

Follow along with my adventure on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! Search for #SeasTheDay to follow all the bloggers on the trip!