Secrets and Surprises: A Whirlwind Trip to Florida

Surprise Florida Trip September 2014

I’ve found that it is particularly hard to blog whenever I have secret. Every single time I sit down to write, the only topic that will even begin to come to mind is the one thing I can’t blog about. It’s maddening for a blogger to have something up their sleeve that they can’t share with the world, I tell ya! My trip home to Florida to surprise my Mom left me feeling that way. I wanted to share my plans to surprise her SO badly, but guess who reads my blog? Hi Mom! So, naturally, things were a little quiet around here while I sat on that giant surprise!

I decided I would buy a plane ticket to go down for my Mom’s birthday back in August. I found an unbelievably cheap ticket through Allegiant Air that got in pretty late the night before her birthday. My cousin, Ellen, made the whole thing possible by agreeing to make the obnoxious 4 hour total drive to Orlando and back that evening. She let me crash at her place and it was nice to spend a little bit of time with her before we both passed out at 2:15AM. The next morning my Step-Dad came to pick me up. He told my Mom that he was going to make a Starbucks run. Once we got back to the house I quietly snuck into the living room behind Sam. I walked into the hallway and when my Mom laid eyes on me I thought she might pass out! I hugged her, told her happy birthday, and asked her to please not have a heart attack! Haha! We talked for a bit while she got ready – they already had plans to go to Orlando that day (so back to Orlando I went).

We had a lot of fun hanging out in Winter Park (we went to Rifle Paper Co.!), visiting with the animals at the ranch they volunteer at (I have now petted a zebra and taken a selfie with a llama), and just enjoying time at home. There was even a surprise birthday dinner for my Mom Saturday evening that included lots of family and delicious food (thanks Jennifer and Uncle Gary)! It sort of felt like it was my birthday because I got to eat all of my favorite foods from Florida – Publix fried chicken, Sweet Tomatoes, and Oishii Burger! My parents always take good care of me when I’m down, that’s for sure!

I’m glad I was able to make my Mom’s birthday weekend a memorable one! It worked out perfectly and I’m so thankful everything fell into place the way that it did! It was a bit of a whirlwind trip and it was over in a snap. I’m definitely looking forward to them visiting Kentucky soon!

**These are just a few photos snapped from my iPhone! Most of the photos I took with my camera were out at the ranch, so be on the lookout for those! I really want a pet llama now. ;]

What I Wore: A Touch of Sebring, Florida

A Touch of Sebring, Florida
While Nate and I were visiting my parents for Christmas my Mom and I went out and did some vintage shopping at a local second hand/consignment boutique. My Mom sells her clothes there often and she’s friends with the owner – so she helps out around the store now and then. She had a little bit of store credit to use and wanted to buy me an outfit for Christmas, so we went and picked one out! You never know what you’ll find in a consignment shop and sometimes it’s hit or miss, right? But I pretty much hit the jackpot. Every single piece of this outfit came from Forever21 // Headband: GiftA Touch of Sebring, FloridaA Touch of Sebring, FloridaThere isn’t a whole lot to my little town and I was relatively unimpressed with it growing up. I definitely had the itch to escape the small town life and I’d say I did that pretty successfully. But there’s nothing like going home, you know? Smelling the orange blossoms on the breeze, wandering around a quaint little downtown full of locally owned shops and restaurants, looking out over the entire town across the lake… it’s nice to be able to go back and appreciate those things as an adult.
A Touch of Sebring, FloridaA Touch of Sebring, FloridaA Touch of Sebring, Florida
Did you move away from your childhood hometown? How do you feel about going back now?

Christmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell Groves

Christmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell Groves
I told y’all to stay tuned for part 2 of Christmas Eve in Florida and here it is! I was so excited to take Nate out to Maxwell Groves in Avon Park, Florida. (You may remember the last time I blogged about it here.) I talked his ear off about their homemade orange ice cream and fresh squeezed orange juice for months prior to our trip down. You’d have to ask him, but by the look on his face that day, I’d say both the ice cream and the orange juice lived up to the hype!
Christmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell GrovesChristmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell GrovesChristmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell GrovesChristmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell GrovesChristmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell Groves
I absolutely love places like this – tucked away like a perfectly kept secret, full of southern charm and hospitality. Their store is stocked with tons of amazing local items, too. I most definitely brought home a bottle of Orange Blossom Honey Wine, some local orange blossom honey, and Everglades seasoning! (Fun fact: Everglades seasoning is made right in my hometown of Sebring, Florida! And you can totally buy it on .. which is weird to me. Ha!)
Christmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell GrovesChristmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell GrovesChristmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell GrovesChristmas Eve in Florida: Maxwell Groves
If you’re ever in the Highlands County area, make sure to stop in to Maxwell Groves and buy yourself some Florida goodies!! This is no tourist trap, it’s the real deal!

Christmas Eve in Florida: Highlands Hammock

A warm Florida Christmas is something that will always feel like home. I couldn’t think of anything more fitting for the trip than to spend Christmas Eve out in nature, exploring Highlands Hammock State Park in my hometown. Dressed in clothes that wont be worn again for months- bare legs, sleeveless top – scouring the water for gators and turtles. It was the perfect temperature under the canopy of cypress trees, with just the right amount of breeze flowing through.
We took so many pictures because how could you not? The scenery is gorgeous. We only saw one gator but I assume there were many more hiding just out of sight in the weeds. I have so many memories in that park – field trips, family get togethers, etc. The catwalk through the cypress swamp (pictured) is by far my favorite part of the park. It’s so peaceful out there and there’s just something so fun about the tiny little bridge with only one rail. I remember falling halfway off of it once on a elementary school field trip, foot stuck in the mush. Now that I think about it – taking a ton of tiny unbalanced little people on a small bridge trail with one rail seems like a bad idea. But anyway – I love having those memories. ;]

Stay tuned for photos from the second part of our Christmas Eve afternoon out at Maxwell Groves. =)