Tag Archives: travel

Knowing Your Roots: A Grandfather’s Gift

27 Jun

So, my blog is not like everyone else’s blog. Yes, I like to talk about fashion, recipes, home renovations, my puppy dogs and more. But I also like to talk about my roots, my values, my love and my heart. And this posting is very dear to my heart because it is years in the making.

When I was a little girl, I used to spend at least a weekend every month at my grandparents’ home. It would be a long drive down an old, stinky country road, followed by hours spent with my cousins playing games and climbing trees. At night, we would gather in the living room to watch “Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest” while we patiently waited for my grandpa’s famous homemade chocolate milkshakes to be ready.

My grandparents used to take us all camping quite a bit during the summer, and we all loved it. My cousin Ashley and I even competed in a dance recital at Twin Mills one year, and I’m sure my grandparents still have a video of that somewhere. I spent so many warm summer nights on my old bicycle, riding around the campground having so much fun with my sister, brother and cousins.

Enter Grandpa into the story. My grandfather is a strong, quiet man. A veteran of the Korean war, my grandfather is not the type that will talk your ear off. You’ll only hear his gentle voice when he has something important to say or if he wants to get your attention. My grandfather has always showed he loved me by with a simple gesture … an arm around my shoulder, a kiss on my forehead, a high five and a delicious homemade milkshake.

Fast forward several years later … PoppaNut and I told my grandparents that we were about to purchase a home, and they mentioned that old bicycle again. It wasn’t in the best condition and it had been painted green, but I could have it if I wanted. Me being in love with all things vintage, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that bike.

But with any home closing, your mind is so overwhelmed with the insurance estimates, closing fees, realtor drama and more that you forget all about what you’ll fill your house with and instead, focus on the list of things you must do today to actually get the house. So the bike discussion completely flew out of my mind, and I focused on the closing.

Just two months after the closing, I received a text from my grandpa with a photo. No words, but just one picture of a vintage yellow bike that looked a whole lot like that one I had as a child. And it turns out, it was. My grandfather had completely taken apart my bike, restoring each piece and renovating it to its former glory. And in that one text, I was 10 years old again with my grandfather handing me my homemade shake. I didn’t need the words to know what he was saying. To anyone else, you would have just seen a yellow bike. But to me, that text said “I love you and I’m proud of you” in the same way my grandpa would convey his love when he made me one of those famous milkshakes.

I’m so honored that my grandfather spent time restoring my old bike. And I’m be thrilled to have it at my home as a reminder of the kind of childhood I had, the value of my Indiana upbringing and the importance of beautiful gestures my grandfather has always shown me.

MommaNut

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Bentonville Culture: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

23 May

From time and time, I head to Bentonville, AK for work. And that last time I went, I had the great pleasure of visiting the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and I was completely blown away. Now, you’re probably thinking that a museum in Arkansas can’t compete with the likes of those in New York, Chicago, D.C. and others. Well, I’m going to beg to differ.

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art was actually founded by Alice Walton, the daughter of the late Walmart founder Sam Walton. Alice spent years collecting just the right works of art to display at the museum, and her taste is impeccable. And because the museum is sponsored by Walmart, general admission is free.

Alice has been well-recognized as an influential leader within Arkansas’ small community, and national press has picked up this story like hotcakes. And with a story like that, I was dying to check it out. Here are some of the pieces that I loved the most. I hope you also enjoy and plan a trip to visit the museum yourself.

And that’s life in a nutshell … one person can really make a different in the life of others. Alice sure did on me!

MommaNut

 

Home Sweet Home: First-Time Home Buyers

8 May

You all haven’t heard from me in quite a few weeks, but it’s not because I’m sitting around with nothing interesting to talk about. In fact, it is quite the opposite case. PoppaNut and I bought our first home.

This crazy journey dates back to late February, when PoppaNut ran across a new home listing on our dream street. Lined with beautiful palm trees, this perfect road has everything we have ever wanted in a home location: small-town feel, lots of charm, large yards, close to nearby parks and water and more. Every Sunday on our afternoon runs, we would dream about living in one of the houses on this road. We would talk about what it would be like to walk out our front door and see water or to skip next door to play tennis at the public courts. Our large dreams would usually end with a “one day” kinda sentiment, and our minds would fixate on something more immediate. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that we could make it happen.

But I underestimated us. Because we are now residents on that same street. We can see the tennis courts from our front porch and we can see water from the driveway. PoppaNut has two large garages and plans for a GIGANTIC Yankees bar. I have two beautiful porches, where I can sit and write or entertain friends. And it’s a complete blank slate for us to do a million and one things to it in the future.

But more than all the features that it has, it is what we are building there that means the most to me. PoppaNut and I are building our future, one paint stroke at a time. We have a story for every project we have already completed in the home, which needed quite a bit of love after being vacant for two years. And while some may have doubted our ability to make a house like this livable, we managed to do it with a lot of help from family and friends in just 10 days.

PoppaNut literally worked around the clock, fighting back hunger and sleep on several occasions, to make my dream of what this house could be come true. Just like the song “The House that Built Me” says “Brick by brick and board by board, Daddy gave life to Momma’s dream,” PoppaNut has certainly given life to my dream. He is my super hero, my prince charming and my best friend. And when this house tried to take down our spirits along the way, like a broken A/C our first night sleeping there, PoppaNut was always by my side.

So, be patient with my postings. We have taken on quite a challenge, but I know we are up for it. Get ready for a front-seat view! And that’s life in a nutshell … every dream is possible if you are up for the hard work required.

MommaNut

At Last, Atlantis: Visiting the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas

9 Apr

I’m crazy about pink hotels. This is not the first time you have heard this. You’ll probably remember my pink-house story. When I was a little girl, I dreamt that my dad built me a pink house with rainbows and diamonds on the outside. A girl can dream, can’t she?

And while I don’t have diamonds outside my home, PoppaNut always takes me to pink hotels for special occasions as a tribute to making all my dreams come true. Our wedding night was spent in a pink hotel, and my birthdays are always spent at a pink hotel. And now, our second anniversary also involved a pink hotel: The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

Now, I don’t know that I can call that a hotel … it’s more like a city in itself! There are a ton of things to do in this hotel, but I couldn’t help but just look in awe of the overall beautiful of the resort’s design. Once I was able to shake the fact that I wasn’t in “Couples Retreat,” we took our map and set out to explore!

I have to say we were lost the majority of the time, but we didn’t care. Everything around us was gorgeous! We jet-skied, we laid out in the sun, we went through the aquarium, we ate delicious food, I saw a shark (and a million of his friends) and we found a gift shop.

And that’s life in a nutshell … there is something magical that happens in a pink hotel, and I’m lucky enough to get to explore each one I come across.

MommaNut

Bahamas Mama: Visiting Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay in the Bahamas

4 Apr

Hello, Bahamas! PoppaNut and I are ready for some much-needed relaxation, and we know CocoCay is the perfect place to forget about real life and let go for an afternoon. After boarding Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Sea, it was just one day until we arrived to the cruise line’s private island.

Filing onto the transportation the boat, I’m staring at this water like a four-year-old at Disney. I can’t believe this type of water really exists. You can see straight to the bottom of the ocean floor, the breeze has a salty but warm edge to it, and the sweet smells of the lunch barbeque have all my senses in a tizzy.

As my first toe touches the white, powdery sand, I’m gone. I have lost myself in the Bahamas lifestyle. I forget all about work and houses and busy schedules, and I focus completely on the then and now. My biggest worry is where to get my next cocktail and when to sign up for a jet-ski tour.

This secluded island is surrounded by the gentle, translucent waters of the Bahamas. With its white-sand beaches and spectacular surroundings, CocoCay is a wonderland of adventure. Reserved exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests, this tropical paradise has recently been updated with new aquatic facilities, nature trails and a ton of great places to just sit back, relax and enjoy a tropical drink.

First up: Jet-ski rental, one of the most popular activities to do on the island, followed by a delicious alcohol-infused drink called “Coco Loco.” This sweet, slushy madness got things kicked off just right, enough to get me doing the “Electric Slide” in front of a ton of Royal Caribbean guests.

Another favorite activity is the Caylanas Aqua Park, a fun-filled floating playground out in the water. However, I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to going into the ocean. Let’s just say I have watched one too many “Shark Weeks” in my day, and I prefer the steady shore where I don’t have to risk a limb to relax. So, we took ourselves right to a cozy hammock (there are about a million to chose from on the island), set up our iPod docking station and melted into island life. I could have stayed there for days, but the boat’s last ferry departed at 4 p.m. Back to the boat to continue our new-found spirit.

And that’s life in a nutshell … nothing takes away your reality quite like a coco loco … now if I could just get the recipe …

MommaNut

 

All Aboard: Cruising on the Yacht StarShip in Tampa

3 Apr

If you leave anywhere near the Bay area, you have probably heard about the Yacht StarShip cruises that leave out of Tampa and Clearwater. You have probably put it on your wish list of places to visit around the area, and month after month, you never take part.

I was the exact same way. Every time I would see a commercial or someone talking about Yacht StarShip, I burst out, “Oh my gosh, I want to do that so bad!” But, then I would forget about it until the next commercial aired. Well, I decided to make a change, and I purchased two tickets through LivingSocial. I mean, who can pass it up when it’s at such a discount on LivingSocial. I no longer had an excuse not to try it.

So, in honor of our two-year anniversary, PoppaNut and I boarded the Channelside yacht for an unforgettable evening. Yacht StarShip, America’s First 3-diamond rated Dining Yacht by AAA, ranks in the top 28% of all restaurants, and the food was amazing. Our exquisite dinner cruise offered tableside service with exceptional dishes. The calamari was so fresh and tasty, we ate it in about two second flat. With cocktails in hand, we chatted about everything under the sun, while watching the sun set in the distance. With our meal finished and dessert wrapped up to-go, we headed to the top floor to take in the spectacular views from the deck.

Wow! The views of some of the houses nearby were amazing. I couldn’t help but imagine what each person inside those houses were doing and what their lives were like. I could have sat up there for hours, but the dancing had begun inside. After some foot tapping and another few cocktails, PoppaNut and I deboarded the beautiful yacht to look at some of those amazing houses a bit closer.

And there, in the shadows of the night, stood Derek Jeter’s humble (or not so humble) abode. With the faint glimmer of a TV on inside, we knew the Yankee legend was just a few yards away. So, I’m just going to say we celebrated our two-year anniversary with Jeter. And for PoppaNut, that was a dream come true!

And that’s life in a nutshell … explore the amazing things this area has to offer. Make a new wish list, and make a point to actually partake in each one. You’ll lead a richer life because of it.

MommaNut

 

It’s a Small World After All: Visiting Disney World in Orlando

28 Mar

Disney is one of my most favorite places on earth, and I’m in my thirties. Disney is completely tied to my childhood unlike any other brand has ever been. My grandparents lived in Florida when I was growing up in Indiana, and my parents would load me into the car and make the 20+ hour drive to Florida for me to visit them. One tradition was always visiting Disney World at some point during the trip.

Disney World Entrance

As soon as I would see those wire Mickey ears off I-4, my face would light up with excitement of the day ahead. I have one very strong memory of visiting Mickey and Minnie’s house within the park and really believing that they lived there. It was my first brush with a celebrity encounter, and it left quite an imprint.

Wire Ears

Their house is no longer there, thanks to the construction of Fantasyland. In this hard economic time, Minnie and Mickey have downsized to a condo on Main Street, which is still in construction. And I’ll be one of the first in line for that as well.

This year, PoppaNut and I visited Disney in honor of Valentine’s Day. It was amazing as always, but we tried to do a few new things. Like this year, we saw the Country Bear Jamboree. Holy cow … it has been a long time since I watched that and there were several adult jokes in the show. Wow, those bears sure have a frisky side! I also loved seeing Main Street lit up with those beautiful lights. Completely magical!

Cinderellas Castle

Country Bear Jam

It's a Small World After All

Disney World at Night

And that’s life in a nutshell … relive a childhood memory now and you’ll find the child still inside of you!

MommaNut

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