Inspiring Beach Takeaways

There were plenty of thoughtful takeaways from our recent trip to the beach, like the long chats with my almost-teen son, the laugher-filled games of Go Fish with my girls, and the quiet moments watching the waves with B. Those experiences are locked in my heart, and I threw away the key.

I also had a few tangible takeaways. So I thought it would be fun to shake out the suitcases and show you what made it home.

Some of these might even inspire a DIY project or two for you!


Sand dollars are my favorite kind of currency. So I was pumped when I found this gem hiding in the sand on Shell Island. (It’s about the size of my palm.) I carefully tended to this fragile creature until I arrived home. Now that we’re here, I plan to display it in a shadow box.

sand dollar


{This shadow box is from Pottery Barn and inspired my idea. I love the monochromatic look.}

We also gathered a few other beautiful shells that I want to place on the mantel. While I was looking at all of the nautical items at Pottery Barn, I noticed this shell cloche that’s quite pretty. I’m thinking about making my own. Any ideas on how I could attach a stick to the base – so it would hold the weight of a shell?

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There’s a darling bookstore in Seacrest, FL called Sundog Books. They had an entire section devoted to Southern fiction, which holds a sweet spot in my heart.

southern fiction

In addition to all of the titles you can make out in the picture above, I found a few other titles listed below that I’ve added to the reading queue. (You’ll notice one of these isn’t like the others. The book of lists falls into the category of my obsession with organizing. #cantstopwontstop)

Have you read any of these? If so, which should I read first?!

beach reads


I have a “thing” for smells, as I have indicated in previous posts. It’s true. I have quite the super-sniffer, which is probably why this salt candle is one of the best gifts I could have splurged on during our trip. It came from my new favorite store and smells like a breezy day at the beach with a slight hint of sunscreen. If you want to light up your life with this lovely fragrance, you can but it here.

sea candle


Thank goodness my husband is so great with taking photos. He remembers to have his phone/camera handy at the most perfect times, which is why we had so many great pics from the beach. Now that we’re home, I wanted to find fun ways to archive these great memories. I found several options and wanted to share.

FamilySearch Memories: This mobile app is free and lets you capture all kinds of family memories for keeps. It’s a true digital scrapbook that includes the option to record audio interviews in addition to tagging your photos with family member names and locations. I think this would have been fun to use during vacation. Must remember.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 6.35.58 PM You can easily make printed scrapbooks by selecting from beautiful templates and uploading your images into the pages. They start at about $15 per book, which is a good price compared to other companies I’ve seen.

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online photo book

These are some of the beautiful travel-themed templates.

Smilebox: This is free software that allows you to create fun collages or slideshows (with music and graphics) that you can post on your social channels or email to your family. You can even create cards with your pics, too.

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Chatbooks: If you’ve posted all of your favorite trip pics on Instagram or Facebook you can easily turn them into a Chatbook. They’re only $8 per book, which is the best price I’ve seen so far. It looks like you can also upload photos from your phone in the mobile or desktop app. This might be a winner.

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Let me know if you’ve travelled anywhere recently and what treasures you brought home. I always love a good show & tell!





30A Beach Trip Memories

How is it possible that a full week’s vacation felt like it was crammed into a weekend away? Maybe we were having so much fun that time ticked faster than the normal tock? Or maybe it’s just because I’m getting old? Lol. Regardless, it was a much needed getaway with the family, and I could have easily stayed forever.

heart in the sand

We could have all stayed forever!!

As promised, here are a few snaps we took along our journey, which took place along 30A. There’s a stretch of quaint, seaside towns that extends from Destin east to Panama City Beach, FL. The highway that connects these communities is 30A, which is why the area is lovingly called that, or South Walton.


beach shot_best day

We were greeted with clear water and sunny skies, which made for the perfect introduction to our beach home for the week. <3

Our Beachy Digs

beach house

Speaking of beach home, this is the little rental we found on VRBO. It was darling and had lots of beachy charm. The deck upstairs is off of the master suite – and was the perfect spot for a glass of wine in the evenings.

sign in house

I loved this sign that reminded us how blessed we were to be so close to the shore.

Food for Days

watching Lilly

I won’t go into every detail, but once we were settled into our space, we headed out for some dinner at my favorite restaurant, Great Southern Cafe. (I’m still dreaming about the shrimp and grits.) My niece, Lilly, was diving in the NCAA Championships, so we watched her compete while we ate. You can see the town of Seaside in the background. Lilly did great, by the way! Next up is the Olympic trials for this amazing girl.

la cocina

While we’re on the topic of food…another favorite meal was from La Cocina. It was voted the best Mexican food on 30A, and it lived up to its accolades. I had the fish tacos with mango salsa, which was heavenly. The girls had their first pina colada (non-alcoholic, of course) and their lives changed forever. They asked for one at EVERY place we visited – even at the gas station on the way home. Wish I were kidding.

30A beer

Brandon was almost as excited about this beer as the girls and their pina coladas. This brew is from one of the local towns called Grayton Beach, which made it that much more enjoyable.

donuts at Alys

It’s not a proper trip to 30A without a stop at Charlie’s Donut Truck in Alys Beach! Checkmark.

Beach Time

jumping for joy

I promise we didn’t just eat the whole time. We had tons of great beach time. This was one of the first pics I took once we unpacked all of our sunscreen, snacks, drinks, towels, books, music, buckets, shovels, and nets from our bags. Whew! Thank goodness we had chair service so we didn’t have to schlep those down to the beach, too. Anyway, I loved this picture of Clara dancing in the sand. I totally feel her joy!

surfer girls

The water was fa-ree-zing, but that didn’t stop the girls from boogie-boarding right into that water. My little fish, those two.

girls in the water

This helps demonstrate just how chilly the water was.

best friends at the beach

I adore catching the girls in moments like this. This is what family vacation is about, right?

kate and evan

Meanwhile, Evan and I were usually bundled under blankets having a few chats ourselves. The water (and the wind) could get pretty chilly. We had a few sunny days tucked in there, though. It was all good.

evan's beach style

On the sunny days, Evan created a cozy spot under a tilted umbrella. He was mostly into reading and chillin’ next to me on this trip, which was a welcomed treat. (By the way, B was a trooper and was usually in the water with the girls or behind the camera. He’s such a good historian.)

Sun, Camera, Action!

clara tee

Yes, it is. And we had lots of it.


We took a boat ride over to Shell Island one day and part of the trip included a dolphin encounter. There were dolphins EVERYWHERE. A few of the smaller ones came right up to our boat. I was so excited, I fumbled with my phone and didn’t get good pics. This, my friends, is why I’m not a photojournalist. #missedthemoneyshot


I did manage to snap this cool shot of seagulls flying next to our boat. The captain gave everyone Cheetos, so we were feeding them as we pulled out of the marina.

collecting shells

This is me in my happy place…walking along the beach looking for shells and any other kind of sea creature that has washed up on shore. I didn’t realize B even took this shot, but I’m glad he did. It pulls me back to that very spot every time I look at it.

beach collections

A few things I discovered on my walks – besides beautiful shells. L to R: sea urchin, driftwood, jellyfish, and a bird hunting for fresh mussels.

coconut friend

Avery discovered a coconut floating in the water. With her creative flair, she quickly made it her friend, named him Sandy, and dressed him up with glasses and sunscreen. It was almost like a scene from Castaway when she had to leave him behind.

kate and kids

This was taken on one of our family walks along the shore.

b and and the kids

“Home is wherever I’m with you.”

shopping art of simple

We did a little shopping while we were there, too. We walked past this store and Clara said, “Ooh, mommy. This place has your name all over it.” It was so cute. Of course we had to step in, and she was so right. I wanted to wrap up the entire store and stick it in my purse. PS. Yes, that is a 32oz mimosa in my hand. Thank goodness we were walking everywhere that day.

kate and kids_dressed up

Back at the beach house, we spent a few moments hanging on the sunporch. This was right before we went to dinner one night.

kate and b

Best buddies for life! <3

bonfire at seacrest beach

Each night, Seacrest Beach had a bonfire and live music in the town square. We spent several nights sitting around the fire enjoying some local tunes. It was such a relaxing way to end the day.

Heading Home

As all things eventually come to an end, our time at the beach did, as well. I’d like to add, “…for now.” I know we’ll head back when time and budget allows. Until then, thank you 30A for a great family vacation.

avery profile

On our drive home we stopped in a hotel for the night, and I woke up early…to a quiet room. Everyone was still sleeping, but Avery. She was standing in the window contemplating the day, or perhaps savoring all of the experiences and memories she had just made. Here’s to making many more together, my sweetness!




Happy Easter!

As we travel home from our spring break trip today, I wanted to be sure and wish all of you a happy, blessed Easter day. See you next week with a few beach pics. In the meantime, here are a few adorable bunnies to warm your heart. As they symbolize new life, may they also remind you of the significance of today.

For more sweet bunny pics, check out my special Pinterest board.




Friday Wrap: Spring Break Here We Come!

Today’s edition of Friday Wrap is dedicated to the next 9 glorious days of Spring Break!!

Here are the five things I’m most looking forward to on our little family adventure to the beach – in no particular order. It’s all good.

{ONE} Eating as much shrimp as my heart desires.

I’m a little obsessed with shrimp. So the thought of spending this much time near the source of this beautiful and delicious culinary treat is nearly enough to make me cry. I plan to eat shrimp for every meal, and I don’t even care if it turns my skin shades of pink. Get in my belly.

{TWO} Finally reading my next book club book.

My fabulous book club (that mostly drinks wine and sometimes reads books) selected Cuckoo’s Calling. It’s by J.K. Rowling, but written under her new pen name of Robert Galbraith. That brings up lots of discussion for another time. Anyway, the book is our next read. It’s “due” the first week of April, so I need to get crackin’ on my literary consumption. Although, you have no idea how happy I am at the thought of camping out in a beach chair with a good book in hand – and maybe a drink in the other. Bring it.

{THREE} Stopping at random attractions.

We actually do this sort of thing when we can. At times Brandon has to grin and bear it, though, as the kids and I run up to things like life-sized peanuts, cement dinosaurs and Thunderbirds to take pictures. You gotta stop every now and then and make memories along the way. Maybe we’ll catch Stan the Muffler Man or The World’s Largest Office Chair on this adventure? #cheese


{FOUR} Quality time with my people.

Need I say more? I love my little family, and I can’t wait to put the phone down already and just sit among these amazing humans. <3

family road trip

{Avery is tucked in the back with Mr. Fluffers}

{FIVE} Soaking up these views.

Just a single picture of the beach makes me feel relaxed (and maybe a little hungry for shrimp.) This was a picture taken on our last trip to Seaside. We’ll be close to the same spot, so I’m hoping for a sequel that’s just as good or better than the original. We’ve never been in the spring, so I assume it will be cooler with a splash of rain here and there. I really don’t mind, though. Just look at reasons number 1-4.

seaside florida

Have a wonderful week and I’ll see you after Easter, which is next weekend already! That happened fast.




The Diary of a Real Housewife

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St. Patrick’s Day Prep

irish blessing

Hello, my friends. I wanted to share a few easy ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Even if you aren’t Irish, it’s fun to get your green on and join in the festivities. The holiday is right around the bend, so let’s see what we can do!

{Decorate with Greens}

Traditional shamrocks, also called Oxalis, are lovely to have around the house this time of year. They make you feel lucky just looking at them, and they’re beautiful enough for a centerpiece. Add this to your decor, and you’re good-to-go!

You could also buy an assortment of fresh cut flowers that feature shades of green. Here’s a chart that helps you identify a few choices. It’s a nice little cheat sheet for calling your florist!

green flowers

This is so lovely, I could almost frame it as a print! {source}

{Wear a Pinch of Green}

You don’t have to deck out in green from head-to-toe. Maybe try just your head? Look at these adorable hair clips I found on Etsy. It’s simply a series of loops that have been hot glued (from what I can tell) in the center. Then it’s all glued to a clip. I’m going to attempt to make these for Avery & Clara this afternoon.

For a more grownup option, you could tie your hair in a Celtic knot. Isn’t this gorgeous? You’d still have to add a touch of green somewhere, but I have an idea for that…

Celtic Knots

How about a touch of green on your nails? This is a super easy way to feel festive. I posted some nail options on Friday, and I decided to go with the minty polka dot!

minty polka dots

{Treat Your Friends}

A large part of St. Patrick’s day is about gathering for parades, beers, and general camaraderie. So why not share a few Irish kisses while you’re at it? Check out this easy DIY jar filled with golden kisses.

I’m thinking this would be cute for not only my friends, but also my kids’ teachers. If you can’t find the gold-wrapped kisses, you could make a version with chocolate “coins” and add a message of “Wishing you a pot of luck!” (I’ve seen tons of coins in the Easter candy section.)

{Serve a Shamrock Snack}

Instead of serving up the McDonald’s version of a shamrock treat (that contains 820 calories – yikes!), I much prefer this option. Cut a kiwi into slices and use a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter to make these sweet treats! These would be cute served for lunch. I could also see these served on a tray with green grapes and green apples.

Enjoy your preparations. I’ll see you on Thursday with a special St. Patty’s Day blessing! Until then, “May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.” #irishwisdom



Friday Wrap: Hopping into Spring

The daffodils are in full bloom. Soccer season has kicked off. It has rained every day this week – canceling some of said soccer. Pinterest is full of bunnies, chicks and Easter decorations. And I’m in need of a pedi.

Yep, it’s officially spring!

Here are five “springy” things I’d like to share from the week.

{ONE} Bunny Bunting

This is one of my favorite decorations this year – outside of my Easter tree that’s filled with sweet little eggs I’ve collected over the past few years. I found this bunny bunting at Hob Lob, and it looks adorable stretched across our mantel.

bunny bunting

{This is a closeup of one of the buns}

Easter mantel

{This is how the whole mantel pulled together. My kids giggled about the idea of “toasted buns.”}

I also love these little bunny tail cookies. I may have to make some of these next week. Pillsbury is rocking their holiday-themed recipes. Have you noticed that?

{TWO} Darby Smart Solutions

What goes hand in hand with spring cleaning? Spring organizing! I swear it’s a thing. So when I saw all of these storage solutions from Darby Smart this week, I was in heaven.

{This canvas bucket would be adorable in my office!}

{This canvas bucket would be adorable in my office!}

{THREE} Dog Party USA

We started taking Leo to a day camp once a week to help get some of his springtime energy out while we’re at work and school. This week it was especially helpful. We’ve had so much rain, he hasn’t played outside as much as usual.

Judging by this picture, I’d say it’s working. He literally slept from the moment we picked him up until the next morning. It reminded me of picking up the kids from daycare when they were babes. Sometimes they’d fall asleep in their dinner. Yes, I said “in.” Lol.


{FOUR} St. Patrick’s Day Planning

I guess we have to ease up on Easter a bit so we don’t skip right over St. Patrick’s Day. With these holidays so close together this year, it would be easy to do. But with my strong Irish background, I promise to do right by the green-wearin’, beer-drinkin’, folk-singin’ celebration.

Here’s some inspiration for my mani/pedi that’s scheduled for tomorrow. #finally

Should I go with the minty polka dot or gold glitter contrast?!

Be sure to stop back on Monday for more St. Pat’s ideas!

{FIVE} Daylight Savings!

Yet another sign of spring is moving our clocks forward an hour. Remember to do this on Saturday night before you go to bed, my friends!

Here’s to more light in your days ahead.



The Diary of a Real Housewife

Feast on Your Easter Grass

It might sound strange to grab a handful of grass from your Easter basket and toss it into your next smoothie, but that’s exactly what you can do when you grow wheatgrass!! Plus, there are all of these health benefits. Thanks, Easter Bunny!


Speaking of…here’s our little Easter bun, Rosie. She loves to eat wheatgrass. No wonder she’s so healthy! <3

Oh, and while we’re still on the topic of eating grass, have you seen this video clip of Adele in Jamba Juice? It’s hysterical. Enjoy your daily laugh.

Okay, now for the serious business of preparing our baskets…

Wheatgrass grows super fast. In fact, in less than two weeks you can have a lush basket. If you start this week, you’ll be right on time for Easter. And depending on how quickly your seeds germinate, you might even need to “mow” before you add your eggs and ribbons!

Here are the super easy instructions for growing your own Easter basket grass.


{one} A plastic plant saucer that’s close to the size of your basket.


{two} A quality potting mix.

{three} Wheatgrass seeds!

{This is from Amazon, but you can get this at most health food stores.}

{This is from Amazon, but you can get this at most health food stores.}

{four} Spray bottle.

spray bottles

{These are from Dollar Tree. Sometimes Walmart carries these in the health and beauty section.}

Now What?

This process will remind you of making lasagne. Here’s why…

  1. Fill about 3/4 of your saucer with potting mix.
  2. Spray with water to moisten the dirt.
  3. Plant a generous layer of seeds. There shouldn’t be any dirt showing.
  4. Cover the seeds with a light layer of potting mix. (See all of the layering – like a lasagne?)
  5. Spray the fresh dirt (your top layer) with water. You want there to be enough water for everything to be wet, but not swimming.
  6. Place the saucer in a warm, sunny window to “bake.” 😉

Growing Tips

  • Before planting your seeds, rinse them in cool, clean water. Then soak (completely covered) in cool water overnight. This helps speed up germination.
  • Wheatgrass does not do well in direct sunlight once it has started sprouting. So find a spot that allows for indirect light once you have some greens.
  • Use a water bottle to spray your wheatgrass as it grows. Make sure the soil is always moist. If it dries out, the sprouts will turn brown and die very quickly.
  • It should take about nine days for wheatgrass to grow six inches >>

That’s it! Here’s hoping your grass hops to it in time for Easter.



Embellished with Ease

Before I dive into some beautiful DIY embellishment projects, I have to ask…

Did ya’ll know March is national craft month?

Whaaat?! I stumbled upon this news while I was googling craft supplies, which is a fairly common activity for me. I can’t believe I haven’t heard about this before. What bolt of fabric have I been living under?

Most of my favorite crafty spots were offering specials in honor of this glorious holiday. So first, I gathered the great deals I could find into one, organized spot for you:

  • Craftsy – enter to win a $700 mystery box
  • JoAnn – 50% off one item using promo code: CRAFT70
  • Blitsy – sale pricing on select items
  • HSN – special pricing on select craft items
  • Hobby Lobby – up to 50% select craft items

(If you know of others, please share!)

Next, I decided it would be fun to do a few projects together. Let’s kick things off with a few fast & fun embellishments. Shall we?

PS. I completed these over the weekend. Our schedule was packed with soccer games and playdates, so you know these had to be easy if I was able to tackle them in a few short hours. 

{Tassel Necklaces}

Have you spotted the hot tassel trend? I started noticing it last summer. And now that spring is around the corner, tassels are on everything – like these darling jewels and all of these.

Instead of buying a bunch of new baubles, I decided to jazz up a few pieces I already own – like this beaded necklace >>

finished necklace

necklace closeup

How? I tied a tassel to a charm, then used the metal ring from the charm to attach to the necklace. Easy, breezy.


These silk tassels were from Hobby Lobby – in the sewing section. Notice I only paid $1.99 for 4 tassels. TIP: I found a much better selection online than in store.

{Simple Message Board}

Next up, this little number was something I created from a square picture frame, a piece of pretty scrapbooking paper and ribbon. Once I assembled everything, I jotted a happy note with a dry erase marker.

I placed this in my laundry room because I was needing happy thoughts in there – especially now that soccer season has started. Yikes.

dry erase frame

All of the supplies for this project came from Hobby Lobby. (They’re not an affiliate link or anything. I just shop there all of the time because we have a store right down the street.) Anyway, among many things, I like getting picture frames from there because they’re usually 50% off. Score.

{A Sweet Tee}

My budding Southern girls love having their stuff monogrammed: backpacks, journals, cups, hair ribbons, bracelets, tees…you name it. I’m seriously considering getting a Cricut just so I can personalize everything myself.

Until that time, I found these adorable iron-on letters. It literally took less than 5 min. to embellish this sweet pocket tee from Old Navy.

monogrammed pocket

Didn’t this turn out so cute? The pocket helped ground the design, so the letters weren’t floating in the middle of nowhere.

monogrammed letters

The letters are sold separately, so you can get the right shape to make the overall monogram. This is the packet for the letter “M” that went on the right.

{Pretty Office Supplies}

You may remember I made a small batch of these paper clips during my home office makeover. (PS. I’m still loving my space!!) Well, I use these little clips all the time, so I made more for the collection.

ribbon clips completed

ribbon clips

These are gold paper clips that have been embellished with pretty black & gold polka dot ribbon. I cut the ribbon to about 5″ long before tying to the clip. TIP: Tie to the small end of the clip so it’s easier to attach the clip to papers, etc.

{Fancy Picture Frame}

For whatever reason, I have a stash of plain black frames in my garage. I think they were left over from one of Brandon’s office moves. Anyway, they’ve been sitting there looking at me for who knows how long. So I decided to fancy them up for my black-and-gold themed office space.

Look what happens with a little gold glitter washi tape. Magic, I tell ya’ >>

washi frame after

washi frame closeup

This is a closeup so you can see how pretty it looks. Also notice I cut the corners at an angle so the tape didn’t overlap.

washi frame before

I was in luck that the frame was the exact width of the washi tape. If your frame is wider, you could easily apply several rows of tape (vertically). Pick a tape that doesn’t have a pattern (like this glitter) so it blends seamlessly.

{A Jar of Markers}

This is a bonus idea, and something that was given to the girls for their birthday a few weeks ago. It was such a thoughtful gift – and fit perfectly with today’s theme. I decided to go ahead and share it with you!

embellished marker jars

These are Ball jars that have been embellished with stickers and filled with colorful markers and highlighters!

marker jar lids

Burlap flowers were hot glued to the lids.

marker jar

Each jar was personalized with black glitter stickers. Simple and darling, right? My girls really loved this gift from their friend, Haila.

Have fun crafting this month – and always. What projects are you working on? I’d love to know!