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Home Is Whenever I’m With You

Well this is it.  My final post on this blog before transitioning next week to my new blog!  Because we have officially moved back home to Orlando.  And as with any adventure we have encountered over the last several month, this step was no easy feat.

Christopher and I have become CHAMPIONS at moving.  Mostly because we’ve had to pack up and unpack everything every month.  But here’s the difference between the adventure we had been on and moving into our new home – when you rent out someone else’s home on Airbnb.com – THEY PROVIDE FURNITURE.  All of our furniture was in the POD.  Remember that?  So we left St. Augustine Wednesday morning, drove straight to pick up our keys at the management company, and then headed to our new home in Baldwin Park.  We quickly unpacked the van (as we do), and then my dad came over with some of the things we’d stored at his place AND a mattress.  Christopher had scheduled the POD delivery for Thursday, thinking we weren’t exactly sure what time we’d get there, and this way we could still work Wednesday (standing up using the bar area in our kitchen).  He and I decided to take off Thursday and Friday to really get moved in.  So, that meant we needed a bed.  And they remembered sheets and pillows too.  Because we forgot about those.

The cable guy came over to give us the interwebs, (but not TV, we are a cut-the-cord kinda family) and that night we went over to my brother’s place to spend time with my niece and nephew for dinner.  It was a lovely day, and we were ready for that pod to show up in the window they gave us of 10:30 – 1:30 the next day.

Well, if you are friends with me on facebook, and read my status updates on Thursday, you’ll know that the pod receiving process was a NIGHTMARE.  Christopher received a phone call around 12:20 from the driver saying his truck had broken down on the way to get our pod.  After several hours on the phone with many different people at PODS here in Orlando and at corporate, they tried to tell us we would be bumped to the next day, which would NOT WORK – we had NO FURNITURE!!  Finally Christopher spoke with a gentleman who took care of us, and the pod was delivered around 4.

The other hitch – we are in a second floor condo, and our access point is the alleyway behind the building (this is what most of Baldwin Park is like).  We wanted the pod to be parked in our driveway so we could quickly unload it into our one-car garage before bringing things upstairs.  However, the driver informed us he could get back there, but not get his machine close enough to be in the driveway.  So the POD was parked at the front of the building.

In about 4 hours, Christopher and I had unloaded about 85% of it into our garage, by ourselves.  Like I said, we are CHAMPIONS at moving.  Before we went to bed that night, we had brought up all the pieces of our bed and couches (yay for Ikea!) and assembled them so we would be able to sleep in our own bed, and have a place to sit during the next day.

We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday unpacking boxes and finding homes for everything.  We lost quite a bit of square footage from our house in Altamonte to the new condo in Baldwin Park, but we gained a TON of storage AND a garage!  And we are in the location we desperately wanted to be in.

The most miraculous thing happened while we were unpacking and I HAVE to tell you about it.  One of the craziest changes that happened to us while on this adventure, is we realized what we actually NEED and DON’T NEED.  When I brought up all my clothes from the pod, I ended up packing most of it back into a tub to be sold or donated at a later date. And then the shoes came up.  You all remember how sad I was to leave behind my shoes?!  Well – after pulling them all out of the tub, I put aside four pairs I would definitely wear/need – AND PUT THEM ALL BACK IN THE TUB to be sold or donated.  I’m not kidding.  Here’s proof:

IMG_20150306_111510That is an 18 gallon tub filled almost to the top with shoes I’m not keeping.  I figured, I just spent the last 5-6 months styling VERY cute outfits with a small selection of shoes, I don’t need any of these.  Plus some of them don’t fit, or are all scuffed up and tattered.  If I really NEED a pair of shoes in the future for an outfit, I’ll go buy a new pair.  But for now, I’m going to stick with my small selection.

By the end of the unpacking process (well almost the end), we brought SEVEN tubs filled with stuff to get rid of back down to the garage.  It feels so good!  I wish we could have been more realistic with what we needed to get rid of before we left for our adventure, but we didn’t really learn our lesson until we were actually on the road.

It is SO GOOD to be home.  And settled.  And so begins the next chapter of our life!!

Next week I will post a link to my NEW blog for you! So Stay tuned! 🙂

Our last weekend…

It was our last weekend, not only in St. Augustine, but on this adventure, and we were going to make it count!!  We had such a good time, I almost forgot how excited I am to go home…

Saturday night, we did it up the way Christopher and I know best – KARAOKE!  We wanted one last karaoke stop on our East Coast tour.  I had found a place called The British Pub on Yelp, so we went to go check it out.  Even though karaoke didn’t officially start until 9 (when the KJ got there), the owner of the place was playing with the equipment and letting people sing earlier.  So we got to sing quite a bit, and had a blast!  The staff was AWESOME, the drinks were cheap ($1 moonshine shots!) and the clientele was an amazing mix of cool and quirky.  If you are ever in St. Augustine, you HAVE to check this place out.

Sunday morning, we were FINALLY getting a tour of Castle Ottis, the Castle at the end of our street.  Alex (being the LOVELY brother-in-law that he is) set us up with a tour by emailing the owner. It was breathtaking up close.

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The owner, creator and caretaker, Rusty, told us that it was officially labeled as a “lawn sculpture” – and it was built by two people (himself included) with NO designs, plans, etc.  The interior is designed to look like an old abbey, and it was just incredible.  The first thing I wanted to show you was this beautiful painting on one of the walls:

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And then our photographer Christopher got some amazing shots that I will share with you now:

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Yep, that’s me 😛  It was absolutely astonishing walking around.  It was SO much more than we ever expected.  I wish Christopher and I could get married again, just so we could get married there!!

Since we were on a roll of finally ticking off items from our Must-See-in-St.-Augustine list, we decided to head to the St. Augustine Winery and the St. Augustine Distillery.  We opted out of the tour at the winery, since they don’t actually make the wine there, and instead had lunch at their rooftop jazz bar.  It was DELICIOUS!!!  If you go there, you HAVE to get the Pretzels and Beercheese – it was so good.  I could probably eat it every day.  Oh, and don’t forget my favorite cheese, their Baked Brie:

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After a quick stop in the gift shop (why do I LOVE gift shops?!), we headed over to the Distillery.  They make an award-winning Vodka and Gin, and they are currently working on a Bourbon!  It was so cool seeing the factory!

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Our tour guide was INCREDIBLE! He was so funny, and you could tell he REALLY loves his job.  You definitely need to take this tour!!  And then of course we hit the gift shop (because that’s what we do apparently) and headed home.

It was a pretty eventful weekend!

And now for some good news!  We have a place to live!!  We found out Friday (cutting it close there since we leave on Wednesday!!) that we were approved by the HOA Board for the condo we were trying to get.  We are so thrilled and can’t wait to get home and get things settled again.

And now for some bad news – next Monday will be the last blog post on this blog!  I will talk about the move back home and anything fun that popped up with that, but then the following week I will be transitioning to a new blog.  I will have the two sites linked somehow, (still figuring that all out) but don’t worry, I will let you guys know the new blog as soon as it’s finished with construction!

Wish us luck this week as we move back!! 🙂

I Love My Family!

I have such an amazing family!  They all came out to visit us this past weekend!  It was a very large gathering in downtown St. Augustine, and we had so much fun.

Friday night, my brother and his family came out to spend the night.  It was SO nice seeing them for an extended time.  I sure do miss them!  Lara LOVES her Uncle Chris:

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And how cute are those jammies?!

Waking up the next morning was wonderful, Christopher made everyone breakfast, and then we all got ready.  I gave Lara a headband/ear warmer I made that is WAY too small for me, and I got her to model it for you guys:

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She was NOT happy that I asked her to stand still for a minute so I could take a picture.

My dad and Lyn (and her crew) came by and we all headed downtown. The first thing we did (after parking and meeting up with my Aunt Michelle) was find this cute courtyard on Hypolita right next to St. George.  And then everyone found some lunch and brought it back to the courtyard.  Some of us ate Mexican, a couple of us ate Cuban, and a few of us found a burger/hot dog place down the street.  After we all ate, we were waiting for my Uncle Ben and his family to meet up with us, and Lara was restless. Can you blame her?? She’s 4 and a half! So Uncle Chris took her across the street to this beautiful fountain in front of the Colombia restaurant.  I brought her some change so she could make a wish.  I told her, when you make a wish, you have to think it really hard in your heart and your head, like you do when you pray to Jesus.

IMG_20150221_115059That is what Lara looks like when she is making a wish really hard. 🙂  I love that kid.

Then we walked around downtown St. Augustine, and shopped a bit.  We went to a magic show by Theater Magic (the same people at Universal) but we didn’t buy any tricks, even though I was DYING to know how they did a couple of them…

After walking around a bit, the kids were getting tired, and so were some of the adults, so we disbanded. The remaining adults all walked around a little bit more.  Lyn wanted to specifically go to one shop, Benet Store.  They had some BEAUTIFUL jewelry.  I bought this very pretty set:

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Then we walked down one of the little hallways that have a ton of little shops inside, and I found another shop called 29olives – Yes, you can shop them online! (which is super dangerous!) I was drawn into the store by this beautiful Aztec-inspired wrap cardigan, and when I told the girl working there that it was a bit out of my budget, she offered me 10% off my entire purchase.  *sigh* I think it’s in the female DNA – it’s that second X chromosome – someone offers me a deal and it’s like my blood cries out YES!! So I bought that AND this beautiful jewelry set:

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It’s funny how now that we are going home, all of a sudden I find myself having “room” for more jewelry…. 😛

I was proud of myself in that store though, I REALLY REALLY wanted this GORGEOUS purse and I DIDN’T buy it.  Although I still have another weekend here, so I may find myself down there again and…  Well, what do YOU think?? Should I get it?  The pic is pulled from their website:Untitled

After I spent a small fortune (not really) in that store, we went and had a drink at this awesome bar at the end of the hallway thing.  I apologize, I don’t remember the name of the bar, but trust me, it was really cool.

We had a nice long Saturday, and after everyone went home, Christopher and I had a nice night relaxing!

I would just like to say it again – I love my family!  I love that they all came out to St. Augustine so we could all see each other and spend time together.  It also made me realize how happy I am that we ARE going back home, because I miss them all way too much!

As I said last week – my brother-in-law Alex and I are working on a very exciting new blog, and I’m pleased to say I’ve made quite a bit of progress!  It is very exciting to have a new “blog chapter” to go along with our new “life chapter” and hopefully you guys will continue along the way with us!

The Oldest City in America

The first thing you should know about our temporary home here in St. Augustine, is that on our street is a castle.  A LEGIT Castle.  It’s named Castle Ottis and we have yet to figure out how to get into it to see it.  We think we have it figured out, on Sundays they open it, but by appointment, and you have to call first to set it up, etc. etc.  One of these days….  Anywho, here are some pics of this gorgeous structure:SONY DSC SONY DSC

Yes, it’s small, but it’s still a castle! 🙂

So as you may remember from Thursday’s blog post, we spent Friday and Saturday in Orlando searching for a new pace to live!  As soon as we have any concrete news, I promise we’ll share, but let’s just say for now, the saga continues.  Anyways, Sunday we decided it was time to venture downtown, especially because it was FREE ADMISSION this weekend at the fort due to President’s Day Weekend!  Hooray!

So we sit in traffic for what feels like HOURS (but was really probably 10 minutes) and this guy is holding a sign for a parking location.  I tell Christopher to turn there and go to this location because I’m tired of being in traffic, and blah blah. When we get to the house he was advertising, it says $10 to park there.  Between Alex (Christopher’s brother) and I, we have $5 cash.  So we park anyways, and I walk over next door to the lady collecting money at the time, and asked her if we could pretty please park here for $5 now, and we would get cash downtown and pay them the other $5 when we come back later.  She looked a little hesitant, but she accepted!  So now we were parked and walking the remaining 2 blocks to the beginning of St. George Street, the main street of downtown St. Augustine.

I should interject here – 4 years ago, we came to St. Augustine for Christopher’s birthday, and we were lucky enough to stay at a Bed & Breakfast right in the historic downtown area.  We also got to see a live taping of A Prairie Home Companion, which happened to be in St. Augustine that weekend!  It was an amazing weekend, but more on that later…

While we were walking around looking for a place to eat lunch (I had a specific place in mind) we spotted the B&B we stayed at 4 years ago!!  It was so nice to see it still there!  Of course I made Christopher take a picture for you all:

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We actually STILL have a bath soap from there that advertises the Augustin Inn.  If we didn’t have that, I probably wouldn’t have remembered the name…

I knew where I wanted to eat, because when we were here before we had found this awesome restaurant with a wrap around balcony that overlooking St. George and Hypolita and was a GREAT people-watching spot.  We were able to find that too of course!

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While we people-watched, ate some tapas (and the boys shared a chicken pesto burrito) and enjoyed a pitcher of sangria, this was a part of our view:

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I LOVE St. Augustine!

After lunch it was time to go to the fort – Castillo de San Marcos.

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Apparently FREE day is a BUSY day!  We got into the fort JUST in time for the last cannon demonstration for the day.  So we hightailed it upstairs (as much as you can hightail in a huge crowd with half-millenium-old stairs).  Here are some pics from the demonstration:

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COVER YOUR EARS!!

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If you get the opportunity to go to St. Agustine and go to the Castillo de San Marcos, DEFINITELY go watch a cannon demonstration.  It’s AWESOME.

Here is a picture of Alex and me at the fort:

SONY DSCYes, he’s THAT tall, and I’m THAT short.  LOL!

After we had finished exploring the fort, we went back into the historic area in search of ONE MORE PLACE.  We didn’t get a picture of it because it was so crowded, but we had to go there anyways. Now for another flashback…

One of the reasons that trip four years ago was so special, is because while at the Tini Martini Bar at the Casablanca Inn one night, after laying down NUMEROUS “subtle” (*cough* probably not so subtle) hints that I was ready for the next step, with a bit of liquid courage I flat out told Christopher, “I’m ready to be engaged.”  Thanks to the fact that Christopher was also enjoying martini’s that night, he disclosed that he HAD been ring shopping.  That’s right.  The Tini Martini Bar in St. Augustine is a part of our history!  And when we went back to visit (and it was sooo crowded) I had to tell someone the story, so I told the girls at the reception desk for the Casablanca Inn.  What’s funny is one of the girls is in the same boat I was! Trying to “subtly” hint at wanting a ring! So, our story was an inspiration to her. 🙂

It was an awesome day in St. Augustine, where we got to relive old memories, and make some new ones!

Thanks to YOUR encouragement, I am now working on an exciting new project, a new blog!  With the help of my FAVORITE web developer, Alex Wilczewski, I will be designing the blog myself!  I’m very excited about it, and can’t wait to unveil it to you!  After that one is up and running (and we are no longer nomads) I will be sure to have this website re-direct you to my new one.  I’m not sure if we can keep the subscriptions, or if you will have to subscribe again to the new one, but as soon as we figure that out, I’ll let you know!  Thank you EVERYONE for being SO encouraging and inspiring!

Big Announcement Day!

Christopher and I have been thinking about it for a for a few weeks.  This isn’t a decision we came to lightly or even easily.  And just like any decision you could make, there will be both positive and negative outcomes. If it were easy to make decisions, they wouldn’t be decisions!  If you haven’t guessed it yet, here it is:

We are moving back to Orlando after this month in St. Augustine.

No, this is not an April Fool’s joke, it’s not even April silly!! We are ending our adventure early, and heading back to Orlando on March 4th.  The first question you ask is why?  Well, there are so many reasons.  And I can’t tell you every single one because some of them are very personal.  Chalk most of it up to our finances.  It has been expensive living in these cities, and last month the AC piping system at our house needed almost $900 in repairs.  Since Christopher and I still aren’t made of money, yet, this was a huge setback.  It wasn’t the main reason, but it was a huge chunk of the reason.

I can tell you why NOT.  We are NOT ending our adventure because there is anything wrong with our relationship.  Christopher and I actually are stronger than we’ve NEVER been in our lives.  Without the safety net of family and friends, we were forced to work on some major issues in our marriage.  No, we weren’t necessarily headed for the D-word, but we definitely had our share of problems.  And on this adventure we have been able to work on things so much that we are more in love than we were in the “honeymoon” phase!

Are we sad to be ending the adventure early?

OF COURSE we are!  I’m sad that we didn’t get to experience some of the cities on our wish list.  But I’m not disappointed in US for making this choice.  We set out to have an adventure, and an ADVENTURE we had!  We are truly blessed to have been able to do this, even if it was only for 5 months.  I learned so much about myself in this time – I feel like who I was pre-trip is a completely different person than I am now.  And we had so many opportunities on the road! We both reconnected with old friends and family, and met new and different people that we will stay in contact with for many years to come we hope!

And honestly, once the sadness passed, we got excited.  We have missed our friends and family dearly!  Phone calls, texts, facebook messages, even face time sessions were not enough to keep us satisfied.  It will be wonderful to be able to just drive over to my dad’s on a Sunday afternoon and see all my family like it’s no big deal. 🙂  We are TRULY not looking at this as the end of a story, but the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.

Where will we live?

Well, our house is still being rented out, and it is not very Christian-like to just kick them out.  Besides, we had decided a few months ago that we wouldn’t be moving back into that house, because we KNOW it isn’t our forever home.  We had hoped that when we ended this trip we would have money for a down payment on a house, but as you can tell, that isn’t the case.  And again, we don’t want to sell the house out from under our tenants.  So, tomorrow and Saturday we will be in Orlando looking at rental houses!  Again, not a forever home, but a transition to get us back into Orlando and put us on the path to GET our forever home.

What about this blog?

I have no idea honestly.  Since we will no longer be “nomads” the name doesn’t really fit.  So if anyone has any ideas, I’m open to them!  I can tell you that I will continue to blog while we are in St. Augustine, and I will blog about our move back, but I’m transitioning back to just one blog post a week.  I’m doing it to save us BOTH time 🙂

What will you do when you get back?

Since I started my new business with Jamberry nails, it is already blowing up thankfully! But I will still be looking for a part time job to get some steady income.  Let me know if you know of any opportunities! 🙂

Thank you all for continuing to share this adventure with us!

Thank God for St. Augustine!

We can finally (sort of) breathe a sigh of relief, now that we are in St. Augustine.  We are still dealing with issues from Miami, like our bikes being stolen WITH the bike rack, off the back of our van, on our very last night.  But we are glad to be out of that “home” and into our new one.  It is a BEAUTIFUL 3 bedroom home with a huge yard for the pups to play in, on a very quiet sleepy island just Northeast of the Historic St. Augustine.  And to further ice our cake, we had the most amazing weekend!

Saturday we had to go into Jacksonville to pick up Alex, Christopher’s brother, from the airport.  He is going to be staying with us this month, which is A-MAZ-ING! Since we were already headed into Jacksonville, and we have ridiculously awesome friends that live there, we made plans to meet up for lunch on our way to the airport.  It was so wonderful seeing James, Carmen and Xander (who got a Superior in his band competition earlier that day! YAY!), and really started our weekend off right!

Then we had to head to the airport to pick up Alex, and that was a VERY happy reunion!! He lives in Chicago right now with the rest of my in-laws, so he was glad to get out of the snow! When we got home, the boys went grocery shopping while I played around with my new business venture (I’m now a Jamberry consultant! woohoo!).  After dinner, we played a VERY rousing game, which Alex won.  I still think he shouldn’t have because he traded Christopher the Wand of Dousing for the Tuba of Charm, just to be nice!!  Whoah, sorry, I totally geeked out there for a second.  Anyways!

Yesterday, we decided to go shopping!  There is a GIANT outdoor mall called St. Johns Town Center, that has EVERY store imaginable!  See, Christopher decided to load the beta preview version of Windows 10 onto his tablet, and then couldn’t get it back to Windows 8 without a special cable.  There was a Windows store at the plaza, so we went there in order for Christopher to fix his tablet. Basically.

Then we had lunch at Pei Wei (I know it’s a chain, and not a local gem, but we don’t care, we LOVE LOVE LOVE Pei Wei!), and walked around a bunch of stores.  We went to Toys R Us and Barnes & Noble looking for a Munchkin expansion pack to no avail.  Looks like Amazon will be our only hope!  We also went to TigerDirect and Radio Shack (which was closing so MEGA discounts!) because we are nerds like that.

It was a great weekend, and we can’t wait for many more!  Here is some inspiration for you, which I get to look at as I work every day: IMG_20150209_084010