Burgess Falls State Park: Putnam County, TN

While on the Tennessee portion of our vacation, Slade and I decided that one of our goals was to see a waterfall. Since we were staying in Nashville, we did some research and were pretty surprised at the large number of waterfall options in the surrounding area. We ultimately decided on Burgess Falls State Park, which was located just over an hour east of Nashville. We woke up early, put on some hiking approved clothes, had a good breakfast, and set out to chase a waterfall.

State parks are always a great option when on vacation. They are typically free (like Burgess Falls!) and there are usually a variety of activities to choose from...hiking, swimming, picnicking, etc. Nature parks are also a reminder of the importance of the environment and the outdoors. I know that's something I often forget to think about when I'm busy in my daily life, and there is something really peaceful and eye-opening about getting in touch with more "untouched" parts of the world.

We arrived at the park fairly early in the morning and it wasn't crowded at all. The weather was pretty chilly (at least chilly compared to the Florida weather we're accustomed to), but it warmed up nicely in the hour or so we were there. There are two (possibly three, I can't remember exactly) trails to choose from. The one we took was about a 20-minute hike to the falls.

Fun fact about that shirt...I was not a fan. I bought it while on the trip because it was warm and cheap, but all I could think of the entire time I was wearing it was the phenomena of #blessed. Anyway, arriving at the waterfall is a memory that I will never forget. It is the first large waterfall I have ever seen, and it was almost sensory overload. The sight, the sound, the smells, and even the feeling in the air...it was all a perfect combination for a place that I could have spent all day at.

There is usually another trail that actually takes you down to the bottom of the falls, but it was unfortunately closed the day we were there. I was a little bummed about that, because I'm sure it would have been amazing! When we were at the overlook, all I could think about was the scene in the Disney version of Pocahontas where she dives off of the waterfall and how unrealistic that actually was. Not saying I'm a waterfall expert now or anything, but there were a LOT of rocks at the bottom of that thing. (Oh the places your mind can take you.)

When we arrived to the car after our hike back, I reflected on how the adventure had been a perfect start to our day. Experiences like Burgess Falls also make me extra grateful that the U.S. has such a wide variety of sights and landscapes to explore. I want to see as much of it as possible in my lifetime!

What is the most surreal natural sight you have ever experienced?


RoseBlood by A.G. Howard {Restless Reviews}

It's time for another Restless Review!

The book I'm about to discuss was possibly my most anticipated read of the year. I had been anxiously awaiting the moment that RoseBlood, by A.G. Howard, would fall into my hands. Did it live up to my self-created hype? Eh, not so much. Let's get into a little bit more detail...

"Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He's not dead, you fools. Legends never die."

In a nutshell...
RoseBlood is a retelling of Gaston Leroux's classic novel, Phantom of the Opera. In this version, we follow 17-year-old Rune Germain, who has a gorgeous voice, but for some unknown reason, falls ill every time she sings. In an attempt to cure Rune's singing sickness, her mom sends her to what is essentially an opera-centered boarding school, located in France. Questions are answered and an adventure begins as Rune meets the characters and learns the secrets of the school. 

Bad news first:
*Insert long, obnoxiously audible sigh here.* Initially, you should know that my love for Phantom of the Opera runs deep. The novel, the musical, the characters, the story-line...I couldn't love it any more than I already do. It's my favorite thing of life. And...maybe that's what ruined this book for me. If it were up to me (and it's not, but if it WERE), I would describe this book as more of a sequel than a retelling. I'm not going to say why, because that would be a bit of a spoiler. Let's just say, I didn't always appreciate the angle of the story. 

Howard also chose to go more of a paranormal/fantasty route with this book. You see, I like both paranormal and fantasy, but, I'm just not sure I liked those aspects combined with the mystery and amazingness that is Phantom. I found Rune to be a pretty obnoxious protagonist...she feigned this heir of "toughness," but really she was just naive. There was virtually no depth to the majority of the supporting characters, and portions of the dialogue were super, super cheesy. (And not in the funny way.)

Now for the good: 
I have one word for you: nostalgia. Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. Howard did a really good job of creating the same creepy, yet beautiful atmosphere that Leroux created in Phantom. The descriptions of the opera house were wonderful, and even though the setting was present day, you still often felt like you were in a much older time in France. She was also great at adding pieces of the original Phantom story into her own writing, and then building on the ideas. For these reasons, I rated RoseBlood 3/5 stars. 

So...yay or nay? 
Sure. If you're a Phantom fan, I definitely think it's worth a comparison. If you're a fan of fantasy and paranormal aspects on classic stories, you may really enjoy it. If you check it out, let me know what you think! 

What is a book that you found yourself being overly critical of? Have you ever read a retelling of your favorite story? 


5 Instagram Accounts for Dog Lovers

One of my favorite things about Instagram is being able to easily follow accounts that produce photos of things that I love and am interested in. It is the one social media platform that doesn't overwhelm me. Call me crazy, but sometimes scrolling through my feed is all I need to change my mood, or motivate me to accomplish something I have been putting off.

Even better, Insta is the perfect place to go if you're looking for something cute and fluffy to gush over. I have always enjoyed following pet-related accounts, but I love doing this evening more now that I have Babybel. It's fun to see photos and read stories that other dog lovers post, because I can relate to them on such a close level. I even created a profile for Bell, because that's just the kind of dog mom that I am.

Are you a dog lover? Here are some of my favorite dog and puppy related Instagram accounts. You may enjoy them too!

1. lizzie.bear
This account shares the daily lives of Lizzie and Ally, who are both Golden retrievers. They are so precious! They both look incredibly happy all the time, and their feed is full of their adventures. You can also tell that they love each other dearly...it makes my heart happy!

2. thatgoldendog
Bear, another Golden retriever, is the star of this profile. The owner originally started the account with her dog Champ. Sadly, he passed away in 2015. She got Bear in 2016. Oh my goodness, all of the photos are CUTE. You can spend hours getting lost in this feed.

3. popyourpup
There is no one particular pup that makes an appearance on this account. Pop Your Pup is actually a company that creates custom portraits of your pet. You can get these portraits on canvas, tshirts, and other products. I really want to get one of Bell and our cat Rizzo done. They're so adorable, and the account always shares the cutest photos of pets that have had their portrait done.

4. love.a.bull_diesel
Diesel is a pit bull with an incredibly sweet face. He looks like he would be the best snuggle buddy. You can't help but smile when one of his pictures pops up in your feed.

5. rescuepetsofinstagram
Rescue pets features photos that followers send in of their own rescued pet. We adopted Bell and she makes us happier than anything, so seeing other animals find families makes me believe that the world isn't always such a bad place. They also give a shout out to the shelters that the animals are adopted from, which is wonderful for making others aware of where they can adopt from.

Do you follow pet accounts on Instagram? What are some of your favorites? Please share them with me!


Never-Ending Mysteries of Adulthood

I'm going to be 28 in a few months. 30 is just over two short years away, which is still a pretty unbelievable thought to me. In my mind, 30 has always been the "magic number of all-knowingness." It has just always seemed like that age that most people tend to be living a pretty smooth-flowing life; the age of having it all figured out.

Having experienced close to 10 years of adulthood, I'm finally accepting that there is no such thing as a turning point in adult life. I'm never going to know everything, and all aspects of my life are never going to co-exist in a synchronized fashion. There are, and will always be, a pretty hefty amount of mysteries out there. Mysteries such as...

Is there such a thing as a reliable laundry schedule?

Is it actually possible to love yourself for more than a day or two at a time?

Why do some people spend more time judging the lives and decisions of others than living their own lives?

Is accepting the fact that summer vacations are over forever even fathomable?

Is it better to speak your mind, or hold your tongue to avoid conflict?

Do bills just continue to multiply with age?

How does one make new friends as an adult when they are also an introvert?

That last question is the main one I've been pondering lately. I'm in such a weird place friendship wise. I've never been the type to have a million friends to choose from, and that has never been a problem until I've found myself distanced from the handful of good friends that I do have. The live across the country, or an hour or two away, or just have completely different schedules than I do.

Slade is my best friend, and I'm fortunate that I get to see him every day and he more than provides all of the most important gifts of friendship. But...sometimes I just need a good girlfriend to chat with or grab a drink with. And...reaching out to people I know through work or blogging is always a little scary, because at this stage in adulthood, most people are pretty well set in their lives and the people in them.

Emotional word vomit...it's one of my finer talents.

What are some of the mysteries of adulthood that you dwell on? What is your opinion on making new friends as an adult?


A Short Stay in Birmingham, AL

During our vacation/road trip, Slade and I decided to spend a bit of time in Alabama...specifically, Birmingham. We wanted to find some good BBQ, and get a feel for the city. We were there for less than 24 hours, but that was enough time to enjoy ourselves before getting back on the road. Here's a little peek into our time there.

Also, quick side note: did anyone else listen to the podcast, S-Town? If you haven't...you should! It's so unique and interesting. Anyway, I ask because the setting for this podcast is a little Alabama town called Woodstock. It's only about 35 minutes from Birmingham, so Slade and I went and took a nosey drive around. It truly is a teensy weensy town, and it was really cool to see some of the places that are mentioned in the podcast.

Now, back to Birmingham! The first thing when did upon arrival was locate something to eat. Slade recommended that we try Saw's Soul Kitchen. It was actually recently named one of the best BBQ restaurants in America, so it didn't take much convincing for me to want to go as well. Slade also smokes and grills pretty regularly, so he knows his BBQ and I trust his opinion.

It was a difficult decision, but we both chose to go for the pulled pork sandwich. I got a side of fries and Slade went with the cheese grits. The sandwiches came with traditional red sauce, but we got a side of the white sauce to try as well. I dipped my fries in it, and actually liked it better than the red sauce!

As expected, the sweet tea was fantastic and the sandwich was too. It all hit the spot! Slade also really enjoyed the food, but he said he wishes he had chosen something a little more "challenging," such as ribs. If we're ever in the area again, I'm sure we'll be back!

By the time we had wrapped up our meal, it was pretty late in the afternoon and the weather was not too great. We went and checked into the hotel, then spent a little while in the indoor pool/hot tub before heading back downtown. Something I have been wanting to do for a while is check out the Birmingham color tunnel.

The city placed LED lights of all colors throughout the underpass, and they're on a timer to change from color to color and eventually to rainbow. The tunnel is a really nice touch to the city. It's so fun to walk through and watch the colors alternate around you.

After walking around for a bit, we went for drinks and a late dinner at Pies and Pints. It's a pizza and beer joint, which automatically makes it right up our alley. (Sorry for the dark photos here...the lighting was not photo friendly. How rude, right?)

They had a really extensive beer menu, so Slade was in heaven. I'm not much for beer, but I do like cider and they had a good choice of that as well. Slade chose a type of nitro stout (beer language...I have no idea), and I went with a pineapple cider. I wish I could find ciders like this more often!

For a starter, we gave the Pizza Skins a try. This was a twist of potato skins. Essentially, it was a pizza crust, with mashed potatos, cheese, bacon, sour cream, and chives on top. It was a bit odd, but I didn't hate it.

Now, the pizza we chose, was on FIRE. It was the Steak and Mushroom, which was topped with marinated steak, caramelized onions, mushrooms, gorgonzola cheese, and a type of horseradish sauce. It was such an excellent combinations of toppings. Overall, I loved the cider and the pizza and thought Pies and Pints was solid. Slade thought the pizza was really good, but the potato skin thing should stick to being a potato. He liked it, but thought it was his least favorite food choice from our vacation picks.

I wish we had had a bit more time and some better weather so we could experience more of Birmingham. I'm sure we will go back again someday! I did visit a really awesome coffee shop on the way out of town the next morning, but I'm planning to talk about that at another time.

Have you ever visited Birmingham? Want to see more food and fun from our vacation? Click here to read about our eating exploits in Nashville, Tennessee!


My Mama Deserves the World

"A mother is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend."

Sunday is Mother's Day. It's officially that time of the year that we all reflect on how wonderful our mothers are just a little more than usual. When some unknown person pointed out that we should treat every day as Mother's Day, they were right. However, even endless amounts of Mother's Days wouldn't be nearly enough to express the love and appreciation that I have for my mom. 

Because my Mama deserves the world. 

My Mama is selfless and supportive, sympathetic and understanding. 

She is loving and kind, and has a heart made of pure gold. 

She would give up everything of her own, if it meant making just the slightest bit of difference for another. 

She is a peacemaker and a go-getter, and a saint by any definition. 

She's beautiful and brilliant, thoughtful and honest, 

She's gentle by nature, but firm when you really need it. 

She has taught me how to dream, how to persevere, and how to always strive for the best version of yourself. 

She's my dearest friend, and my greatest role model. 

And...I'll never stop believing that she deserves anything less than the world. 

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families. 


My Daily Routine

This post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, click here.

Falling into a daily routine is inevitable for most people. In fact, I would dare say that it's crucial to maintaining sanity most weeks. Responsibilities and commitments can be taxing, even when you're overly familiar with them.

I have developed quite the daily routine since Slade and I moved in together back in December. Aspects of my weekdays are usually exactly the same as the previous one...and so on and so forth. A normal (work) day in my life looks a little something like this:

This is when my alarm goes off. Actually, I usually set my alarm for 6am, and then hit snooze until 6:30. If it's a day that I don't wash my hair, I'll usually keep hitting it until 6:45. Oh, how glorious an extra 15 minutes can be. Anyway, the first thing I do is let Bell out of her crate and we head downstairs for a walk.

Bell and I head back upstairs and both of us hop back into bed for a few more minutes. I usually spend this time thinking about the day, reading a bit of my book, or having a quick scroll through Instagram. (You can find me @mirandamhunt. Where can I find you?)

Now it's back down to the kitchen. I always feed Bell breakfast, and then get my breakfast and lunch for the day prepped. I take my breakfast with me to eat at work, so it normally consists of wheat peanut butter toast, or even better, these healthy chocolate chip cookies. Lunch varies, but most days I bring a salad with a side of chicken or tuna or something like that. The final thing I do is put peanut butter in Bell's kong and pop it in the freezer for later. (One of my co-workers gave me the tip about freezing it...Bell loves it cold!) 

Time to shower and get ready for the day! Some of my daily essentials include this Clean and Clear cleanser that I have been using for years,  Moroccan oil for my hair, and the Garnier BB cream for oily skin.

I'm usually ready by this time, give or take a few minutes. I take Bell for one more walk, grab her kong out of the freezer and put her and her water in her crate. After that, I get the Keurig going, and slip on my shoes while the coffee is brewing. My go-to is Donut Shop brand with a dash of creamer. 

With coffee in hand, I grab my stuff, say a final goodbye to our cat Rizzo, and head out the door. 

The work day starts here. If you don't already know, I work at a travel agency as an air specialist. I feel very fortunate to work in an industry that I'm passionate about. If you're wondering why my keyboard looks odd, it's a special type of keyboard that goes with the software I use to book air travel reservations. 

Lunch time! Monday through Thursday I have a low key lunch with just me and a book. (My current read is In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.) On Fridays I will go out to eat with a co-worker or two. 

Work ends here, which is good because my brain is always more than finished for the day by this point. Right now, my afternoon commute isn't that bad because all of the college students are gone for the summer. It will be even better when the K-12 schools wrap up in a few weeks! 

One of my favorite parts of the day is walking through the door to Slade, Bell and Rizzo. Bell is always really happy to see me...it warms my heart! Slade and I usually spend a little time catching up on our days, then I head upstairs to change clothes while he starts/finishes up dinner. He enjoys cooking and is much better at it than I am. I'm not sure how I got so lucky, ha ha. When dinner is ready we sit down together and eat. One of our frequent go-to's for dinner is eggroll in a bowl. You can find the recipe here!

This part of the day varies quite a bit. Sometimes I write or read while Slade plays video games. Sometimes we watch a show or movie together. Sometimes we go out to run an errand or two. The only guarantee of the evening is playing with our hyper dog to get some of her energy out, ha ha. (As I was writing this she chewed through my laptop charging cord...thanks for that Bell.)

This is the point where the day begins to wrap up. We clean the kitchen and tidy up then take Bell for a final walk and put her to bed. I usually take a look in my closet to get an idea of what I'm going to wear the next day. Before I lay down I brush my teeth and take my makeup off. My favorite cleansing wipes are these from Simple that are formulated for sensitive skin. 

After reading a chapter or two in my current book, it's lights out! 

Do you have a daily routine? What are some of your favorite parts of your every day life? What are some of your everyday essentials? 


Nashville Eating Exploits

Today is day two of being back to reality. Slade and I had a wonderful vacation last week, but it really did end just as quickly as it came. I told you a little about what our original plan was in this post. However, that is not the vacation that we ended up taking. Long story... We had to cancel the Branson portion and do a quick last minute re-plan.  After our initial weekend in Jacksonville, we took a road trip to Nashville, TN, Birmingham, AL, and Columbus, GA. In spite of the quick changes, we still had the BEST time. 

I have several vacation related posts planned for the next two to three weeks. Today is the first one, and I'm going to be talking about one of our favorite aspects of the trip. What would that be? Well, obviously the food in Nashville. 

Let's be real, eating new and often not-so-healthy food is one of the most fun aspects of going on vacation. In this day and age, it's also incredibly easy to discover the best local restaurants in any given destination. (Thanks Pinterest and Google!) Nashville may be known for it's musical history, but I can now attest that the food scene is certainly not lacking either. Here's a little look into our Nashville eating exploits. 

We visited Taco Mamacita on our first night in town. It is in a really cute little part of the city, near Music Row and the Vanderbilt campus. It has a really warm and fun environment that automatically draws you in. I knew the food was going to be delicious when we walked in the door. 

For drinks, I ordered a strawberry margarita and Slade had a whiskey ginger mojito. Mine was really yummy, and in Slades' own words his was "phenomenal." We also ordered queso as an appetizer, because can you really go to a Mexican restaurant and not try the queso? It was so good! 

Taco Mamacita has a lot of specialty tacos. Deciding on an entree of two tacos and a side was the easy part. Actually choosing which two tacos to get was the difficult part! They all sounded mouth-watering. 

What we ordered: I eventually decided on the Sloppy Jose and the California Club with a side of black bean and corn salad. Slade went with the Korean BBQ and the Oy Vey with sweet potato fries. 

What we thought: I LOVED the Sloppy Jose. All of my food was delicious. I also tried a bite of Slade's Korean BBQ taco and it was awesome. Two thumbs up from me! Slade says the Korean BBQ was also his favorite, but the Oy Vey was also really good. Two thumbs up from him as well. (He says being the second one to give an opinion is more difficult and insists on giving me his thoughts for the next restaurant first.)

We wanted a good hearty breakfast before going hiking one morning, and Pancake Pantry was obviously our best bet. This restaurant has been in business for over 50 years, and is one of Nashville's most popular choices for food. I found several reviews online that said the line for a table is normally around the block. We luckily didn't have to wait at all since we went early on a Tuesday. 

What we ordered: I ordered the banana bread pancakes with a side of hashbrowns, which have been voted the best in Nashville. Slade ordered the french toast with a side of loaded hashbrowns with cheese and onion. 

What we thought: Slade says the hash browns were the best he has ever had because they were crispy but still potato-ey. He also says the french toast was fantastic. It was fluffy, flakey, and ferocious...the three "F's" of french toast. He gives it one and a half thumbs up since it was a little pricey. My banana bread pancakes were divine...I ate every single bite of them. The cinnamon cream syrup tied everything together. I was full for hours, that's for sure. 

We went to Tavern one evening to have some drinks and an appetizer and fell in love with the atmosphere. We sat in a big, comfy booth and talked about how much we liked the decor. Even the hot sauce was in what looked like old-fashioned medicine bottles. 

What we ordered: For food, we shared the Philly cheese steak eggrolls. I had a glass of wine and Slade had a cider and even tried a beer cocktail. 

What we thought: Slade says it's a really cool place with a great vibe. The cider was really good and grapefruity, but the cocktail was just okay. He says he thinks they were trying to be too hipster. In his words, the egg rolls were also "off the chizzain." I thought the egg rolls were pretty good...not my favorite food of the trip but still worth a try. Tavern was a great place for a few drinks. 

The Pharmacy  was the number one place on my food list in Nashville. It is a combination of a burger joint/soda parlor and a German beer garden. There are options to sit inside, but we chose to sit out in the garden because the weather was so perfect when we went for lunch. Everything at The Pharmacy is claimed to be made with the best ingredients, and there is no shortage in food and drink choices. 

For drinks, I tried the Creamsicle soda and Slade had a couple of different types of beer. 

What we ordered: I went with the Mission City burger with a side of tater tots, and Slade had the Farm Burger with a side of tots. 

What we thought: Slade says the venue was beautiful and it was really nice out the day we went. As far as the burger goes, the bun is what made it. He thought the bun was fantastic...and fluffy and ferocious and fierce. He says his beer was "ear licking good," which is apparently how our dog would describe something so delicious. He says the tater tots were meh, but he gives The Pharmacy 2/2 thumbs up. He also wants everyone to imagine a Hades two thumbs up gif here, because I refused to actually include it in the post. (Insert mandatory girlfriend eye roll here.) The Pharmacy was also my favorite food experience of Nashville...the Creamsicle soda is what did it for me! 

That brings me to the end of our Nashville food experience. Have you ever been to Nashville? Which of these restaurants would you most want to try? 


April Blogging Goal Review {And Goals for May?}

I normally aim to do my blogging goals posts first thing each month, but since I was on vacation last week things are running a bit late around here. Reflecting on the old goals and discussing the new is a great way to hold me accountable when it comes to growing and improving my blog. Here is a quick look at how my April goals played out:

1. Streamline and organize my site.   This is still a bit of a work in progress, but I have made some small changes. I minimized the number of pages in my top menu, and instead created a "categories" section in my sidebar. 

2. Apply for one paid blogging opportunity. This didn't happen, but I'm okay with that. 

3. Create a blog Facebook page.   Check and check! You can follow me here. Please leave the link to your blog Facebook in the comments so I can follow along! 

4. Send out my first subscription email. I decided not to move forward with this feature for now. I don't think it's a necessary feature for what I want my brand to be at the moment. 

So what are my goals for May? I feel like this is going to sound like a cop out, but I don't have any new ones. I think I'm at a point where I just need to spend some time improving upon the changes and strategies that I have already put into practice. For example, several of my new pages are still "under construction." 

Do you have any blogging goals for May? Does setting goals help you stay on track? 


Charleston, SC With the Parents {Favorite Travel Memories}

Slade and I are on vacation! Don't worry, I'm not blogging on the trip...these posts are pre-scheduled. In the spirit of traveling, I have written about some of my favorite travel memories...not so much the details, but more so the feelings that I had during the experiences. Hope you enjoy, and have a wonderful week! 

Last summer, I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina with my mom and dad. This was a special trip to me for a couple of reasons:

1. It's a city I had always wanted to visit but never had before.
2. I had just returned from Europe not too long before, and that time with my parents was much needed.

In case you haven't noticed, I have a deep love for old cities. I like visiting places that make me feel like I have taken a step back in time. I like old buildings, interesting traditions, and history. Charleston embodies all of those things.

I hadn't had the chance to take a trip like that with both of my parents before. A lot of people don't really get opportunities like that in their lifetime, so Charleston is a trip I'll always treasure. We walked the old streets, ate a lot of delicious southern food, visited the aquarium and other attractions, and overall enjoyed each other's company.

I hope they both know how much that trip meant to me. It was kind of a weird adjustment period for me, with being back home and trying to find a new job and some other personal stuff. I can't wait to have more times like that with them in the future.

I was on a blogging hiatus at the time of this trip, so I never actually wrote an in-depth post about everything we did in Charleston. Perhaps I'll try to do that soon. Better late than never, right?

Do you travel with your family often? What is your fondest family vacation memory?


Day One in Prague {Favorite Travel Memories}

Slade and I are on vacation! Don't worry, I'm not blogging on the trip...these posts are pre-scheduled. In the spirit of traveling, I have written about some of my favorite travel memories...not so much the details, but more so the feelings that I had during the experiences. Hope you enjoy, and have a wonderful week! 

Spending a year in Prague was a dream come true. Sounds cheesy...but that's a fact!

For as long as I can remember, that city was at the top of my bucket list. If anyone ever asked me what one place in the world I would travel to if I could, the answer was automatically Prague. It's like a piece of my heart was already there, even before I stepped foot off the plane. I was drawn to it...to the architecture and the history and the fairy tale charm.

My first day there was one of the best. I had so many mixed feelings...thankfulness and ridiculous excitement, with a dash of "what the heck am I doing" that was masked by "oh my gosh, I'm really here!"I thought I would never learn how to navigate the metro and tram system, let alone the streets. I was surrounded by a language I had never heard in person. I was overwhelmed, and I was perfectly okay with it.

Everything was sensory overload. I wanted to jump for joy when I saw the cobblestone streets. I wanted to cry when I walked into Old Town Square for the first time. I wanted to drink all of the Czech beer and eat all of the local food. I had to pinch myself to make sure my body knew I actually was there, and not just imagining it. I was ecstatic that I was going to call that place home.

That day was full of "firsts" that will stay with me forever. I never expected that catching sight of Prague Castle for the first time would make my heart jump into my throat. I never expected that walking over the Vltava River on Charles Bridge would be so magical...even with the endless crowds of people. I never expected Prague to be more than I had hyped up in my mind, but it was. It was so much more, and it continued to be so much more for the next year.

If you could choose to go any place in the world, right this moment, where would you choose? Perhaps you have already been to that place? If so, what was it?


Berlin and the Brandenburg Gate {Favorite Travel Memories}

Slade and I are on vacation! Don't worry, I'm not blogging on the trip...these posts are pre-scheduled. In the spirit of traveling, I have written about some of my favorite travel memories...not so much the details, but more so the feelings that I had during the experiences. Hope you enjoy, and have a wonderful week! 

Berlin is a unique city that is full of endless amounts of history, which is the reason why it has always been on my list of "must visit" European destinations. I was fortunate enough to visit twice during my time in Europe, and I have some really fantastic memories from those trips. I have a post about my first visit here, but today I want to talk about a more specific remembrance.

Above all else, I was anticipating seeing the Brandenburg Gate. I can't pinpoint a specific reason why I was so excited to find this landmark. I think it was the fact that it's beautiful, combined with the want to see such a well-known work of art in person. There is also a really cool, extensive history behind the gate. It was originally built in the late 1700's, survived during World War II, and is now a symbol of unity.

Needless to say, when I finally arrived in front of it, I wasn't the least bit disappointed. It's massive and full of detail. It was amazing to stand in awe of something so symbolic. During my time abroad, I saw a lot of things that made me realize how vast and complex the world is. The Brandenburg Gate is definitely towards the top of that list.

Have you ever visited Berlin? Tell me about a destination that blew your mind.


My First Step Into a Foreign Country {Favorite Travel Memories}

Slade and I are on vacation! Don't worry, I'm not blogging on the trip...these posts are pre-scheduled. In the spirit of traveling, I have written about some of my favorite travel memories...not so much the details, but more so the feelings that I had during the experiences. Hope you enjoy, and have a wonderful week! 

You may or may not already know this, but I lived in Prague for a year. More on that experience can be found here, but that actually isn't what I'm going to talk about today. Today is devoted to a different visit to a different city. More than that, it's devoted to my first visit to my first foreign city.

While en route to Prague, I had a 12-hour layover in London. At that time, my childhood friend Jessica and her husband were both stationed near London with the Air Force. They drove to the city to meet up with me and show me around. I remember being so excited. Who hasn't always dreamed of visiting London at some point in their life?

Upon my arrival, we took the Tube from Heathrow airport into the center. I remember getting off at our stop and walking with the crowd towards the nearest exit. I'll never forget hurrying up a couple of flights of stairs, turning a corner, and suddenly seeing Big Ben towering over me. This sounds dramatic, but it honestly took my breath away for a moment. At that time, I had been dreaming of European travel for the majority of my life, and that was the point that I realized my dream was finally coming true.

Jessica and her husband gave me the true tourist tour that day, and I loved every second of it. I ate fish and chips in a pub. I took pictures of Big Ben and the London Eye and red phone booths. I walked and explored and basked in the glory of being surrounded by beautiful English accents.

Nothing can quite prepare you for the feeling that comes along with being in a new country for the first time...even an English speaking one. It's enthralling and stressful and exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. There are different vibes and different smells, different people and different sights. Once you have that first taste of "newness," there's no turning back. Every destination on the planet is suddenly added to your bucket list.

In a way, I have London to thank for all of the beautiful experiences I had over that year in Europe. It welcomed me with open arms, and made me more than ready for the adventures that were to come. I have visited the city a couple of times since then, but it's always that first trip that stands out to me.

Have you visited London? What is the first foreign country to steal a piece of your heart?


{Babybel Blog Takeover} Parents Going on Vacation WITHOUT Me!

Hey, what's up? Hello! Babybel Rogers here.

I've been waiting for a chance to steal mom's blog again. I was planning to do it next week, but I'm really upset right now and looking for an outlet. I just need to rant, because a major travesty is about to occur.


Is this real life? Are they serious? Do they not realize that I am the single best thing in their lives and they're about to leave me for a week?

I just found this out today, so you would assume they're leaving in a few weeks, right? WRONG. They are leaving tomorrow. TOMORROW!!! I swear, I could just anger eat all of their food and tear up all of the carpet in the house. (But I won't, because alas, I am a good girl.)

Apparently my Uncle Nathan is coming to spend the week with me at our house. I mean, I guess he's cool and all. But don't I deserve a vacation too? Mom and Dad have no idea how difficult it is to be me. NO IDEA.

I should have gotten suspicious when they brought home lots of new treats and toys for me the other day. Those jokers are trying to bribe me. I see their game now! I see it clear as day...it was all just a ploy!

I guess those toys are pretty fun though. Besides that flimsy one that I tore up in two hours. That one was stupid and it exhausted me.


This ranting thing helps a little I suppose. Don't get me wrong, I still have butthead parents! But...it is only a week. Also, they better bring me back a souvenir or a tshirt or something!

Oops, gotta go! I hear them unlocking the front door.

Paws and love, y'all. Paws and love.


Turn That Frown Upside Down

Turn that frown upside down!

I remember being on the receiving end of this phrase a lot when I was growing up. In fact, having it thrown my direction was a minor pet peeve as a teenager. Wouldn't you know though, that I use it quite a bit myself now. I can't wait to have kids and annoy them by using it when they are in a bad mood. *Insert evil laugh here.*

I've found myself in a fairly grouchy mood for much of this week. Really though, I fell asleep on the couch Tuesday night and almost fully bit Slade's head off when he woke me up. (And now I feel guilty, sorry Slade!) I think I've been overly anxious due to the fact that we leave for vacation this weekend and there have been a lot of things to do before then. (Obviously following my rules for things to do before you leave for vacation couldn't even combat my irrational stress.) I've also had a sore throat and a minor cough...but I guess I'd rather have a bit of a cold now than next week!

The reality of the situation is, there is no need for me to be feeling down. Everything is under control! Life is good. Love and peace. Rainbows and butterflies and all positive stuff.

So, to continue seeing the positive, I'm going to talk about a smattering of things that are more than worthy of causing my frown to turn upside down. (AKA: Here's a happy list.)

*Iced coffee with cream and sugar.
*My dog and everything about her...cute doggie smiles and loving licks and the best cuddles.
*Songs that are a reminder of simpler times in life.
*The expectation of upcoming travels.
*Fresh air and blue skies.
*Celebrating milestones and accomplishments with friends.
*Slade and the undeniable "rightness" of our relationship.
*The endless possibilities of a day with no set plans.
*Early weekend mornings, filled with quiet, a cup of coffee, and a good book.
*Being able to focus on the things you are proud of, as opposed to the things you regret.
*Photos of past travels, and reflecting on the memories that they hold.
*French fries and chocolate chip cookies.
*The ability to move forward and embrace the person you truly are.

I could go on and on. Just as one negative thought leads to another, one positive thought turns into multiple ones. So...let's focus on the second option! What turns your frown upside down?
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