Sunday, March 17, 2019

Clint Harp on Why Marriage is a Funeral

"Marriage is a funeral." That's probably one of the last things I expected to hear Clint Harp say when I was invited to attend a meet and greet interview with him last week before the Johnson County Home and Garden Show. Clint is best known for his role as a carpenter on Fixer Upper, but he has also been busy with his own DIY Network Show, Wood Work, and a recently released book Handcrafted. Clint's journey with Harp Design Co. is pretty inspiring, and I was so excited to meet him in person!

My husband, Aaron, was also able to come along with me, which was extra exciting because he teaches a basic woodworking class at his school and loves to build things on the side (like our front room pew). One thing that we liked about Clint was how down to earth he was, along with the fact that he loves to share his story in hopes of inspiring others along the way. Handcrafted isn't all about woodworking, but rather the story that brought Clint to where he is on his journey- all the tiny little steps and people along the way that led him here.

Clint runs Harp Design Co. with his wife Kelly, so they are not only spouses but also business partners. I asked Clint if he had any tips for working with your spouse, and he responded with “Be very careful. It’s hard.” This led into some really beautiful points about marriage (and even business/life in general):

Marriage is a funeral.

“Marriage done well is you allowing this person that you have created to protect you from everything else, to control everything around you, that person has to die. That person is not going to do you any good moving forward.” Man, I love this point, and it is SO true. Numerous times I have found myself sitting in my stubbornness, wanting things a certain way- and not wanting someone else to mess it up. But as Clint said, “That is not going to let me survive, that’s going to kill my marriage.” So marriage is not a funeral because you’re stuck with someone else forever and dying as a result, but rather because you need to die to yourself in order to be willing to open up and let someone else in. That’s love right there. 

Let them royally screw up.

According to Clint, this idea is even harder in business, where you freak out even more about decisions, and feel like everything will undoubtedly fail if you don’t get your way with how high the curtains are hung or what color you’re going to paint the walls. But I loved Clint’s point in this. That in so many areas, “If we want to get better, we have to let each other try things and mess up- to fail in order to get better.” And this is something I’m also not so good at, but it’s so true. Just like I don’t expect perfection from my students - we can’t expect perfection in life, and we certainly can’t expect it from our spouse or loved ones. So let go. Let them royally screw up, and don’t be mean about it. Give them room to grow, and go work on things that you’re good at.

Let them own it. Stay in your lane.

Clint has learned that he has to step out of the way in several areas and “Let [Kelly] own it— and she lets me own my stuff, and the more we do that with each other the better it gets.” Clint also has this same approach with his employees, and I love that. No one can feel good about what they’re doing if no one lets them truly do it, or if they constantly feel you breathing down their neck. And when you stay in your lane and let other people be in theirs, it’s a beautiful thing when they start asking you to come into their lane- to help them out, and to just them be themselves but “when you are constantly forcing yourself on each other, it doesn’t happen”. Yes. We may be offense and defense, but we’re all on the same team. That’s powerful stuff. I think it’s a safe bet that Clint’s employees, along with his wife Kelly, appreciate this approach, and I’m pretty dang inspired to do the same in my own life.

In case you're interested in other nuggets from Clint:

We knew that Clint started his business with really no money, so we asked him what advice he had for those lacking the finances to fund their dreams. His answer: take the little steps. Keep taking tiny steps along the way, even when you can't see the end result yet. This is how he ended up going from totally broke to someone who now employs over 30 people. He may have only been able to pay his first employee $750 cash every two weeks, but with the help of local bankers, they just kept inching their way forwards towards their dreams.

Clint's story is an incredible testament to the idea that one little small thing can set you on a crazy path to something huge. From time working in ministry, serving as a missionary overseas, taking a medical sales job, moving back to Waco, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, and then eventually buying the Habitat building for a shop, along with buying the house next door for $10,000: it has been a crazy ride. Oh, and did you know that he met Chip Gaines at a gas station one day while filling up after playing at the park with his kids? If you remove any of those small steps, there's a chance that none of it may have happened. That's inspiring. Nothing is by chance. Nothing is wasted!

You can read all about this (and more) in Handcrafted. I'm reading it on my trip this week, and I can't wait to let you know what I think. (Be sure to follow along on Instagram for more!) In the meantime, visit the Harp Design Co. website at and use code HARP10 for 10% off of your purchase of anything! Treat yourself!


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Space Saving Ideas for Your Master Bath

Ensuite master bathrooms are a plus in any house. There’s something luxurious about being able to head straight to the toilet without running down the hallway in your jammies. It’s almost like the convenience of a hotel room in the heart of your home. I never had a bathroom in my bedroom until I moved into an apartment during my first year of teaching, and I knew there was never any going back! If your bedroom and bathroom remodel priorities are anything like mine, I will absolutely neglect my own private space because I know other folks won't really see it. But that's not a great way to handle remodels because you'll end up hating the outdated decor and space wasting appliances you see on a daily basis. Here are some space saving ideas to consider for your master bath!

Sneaky Storage

In the majority of cases, ensuites are so small that they don’t exactly scream storage. It may be so bad that you have to keep all your bathroom basics shoved in the larger bathroom (like I do). Of course, we can’t literally create more space in your ensuite. We can, however, suggest sneaky storage solutions which might achieve the same goal. Something as simple as a cabinet under your sink could do the trick. This won’t take up more room than a standard option, but it can provide you with at least a few shelves. Other good choices include shelves that don’t take any floor space at all. You definitely don't want to make the room feel any more crowded than it already does, even with your stuff there.


Wetroom Designs

If you try to fit a bulky shower cubicle or bathtub into your master bath, you may struggle. These take up an enormous amount of square footage, and you may not need them. By designing a wetroom, you can make use of options like these showers for small bathrooms without needing a cubicle. With the right flooring and wall tiles, you’ll be able to simply stick one of these on your wall and open the whole room up. That means more space all around, as well as an on-trend design.

Floating Appliances

Along the same vein as shelves, you might want to think about floating appliances. Again, these work wonders for freeing up floor space. If you pair these with that wetroom idea, you can bet your master bath will soon feel more extensive and open than ever before. That’s because you won’t have any bulky bottoms to attend with. You won’t have to worry about tripping over your sink stand at night anymore, or stubbing your toe on that toilet. You’ll be able to glide in without any obstacles and do the do in ultimate luxury.

It's take to take that cluttered master bath and make it a space you love (one where you can actually move). Go for it!


Saturday, March 2, 2019

Taco TWOsday Birthday Party

February 23rd has come and gone again and our sweet Eli is two! Last year, we had a blast at his Onesie First Birthday Party, so we knew we wanted to have a party again for his second birthday. I was hunting around for ideas, and fell in love with a fiesta themed "Taco TWOsday" party- because what's not to love about tacos, fun bright colors, and pinatas? Here are all the details (plus fun pics) to help you plan your own Taco TWOsday Birthday Party (or really any fiesta)!

Decor And Theme Apparel

I wanted to keep things pretty simple, but go with bright fiesta colors: red, orange, yellow, and green. I found my color inspiration with a super cute fiesta flags banner from Hobby Lobby. I also knew that I wanted to highlight the whole "Taco TWOsday" title, so I bought this gold Taco TWOsday banner that I found on Amazon. I loved hanging it in our dining area as a great backdrop for fun photo opportunities! I designed my own little fun photo of Eli wearing a sombrero and mustache, and used that to make a simple twine banner for downstairs, along with the birthday party online evite for invitations. 

To let others in on the fun, we bought a few "props" for people to enjoy: plastic party hats and mustaches, both from Hobby Lobby. I also wanted E to have a cute shirt that he could wear for not only his party, but for the year. His "I'm Dos, Let's Fiesta" shirt was made by Ali Mordhorst Designs, and it turned out absolutely perfect! Definitely check out her Facebook Group for all sorts of designs, bags, shirts, and more!

The boy just wanted to get down and play with balloons...

Food and Drinks

A taco bar is an obvious must for any good fiesta! We went the street taco route, complete with grilled steak and chicken, flour and corn tortillas, an onion/cilantro mix, chips, salsa, and sour cream. Aaron did all the main course cooking and it was delicious! We ended up going without printables for our taco bar, but if you're looking for something pretty you could use these ideas from Wedding Chicks! We also bought a pack of Mexican Coca Colas from Costco and they were a hit!

Samantha of Crumbs and Confections did an AMAZING job on Eli's adorable fiesta cake, the cupcakes, and these incredible taco and cactus cookies! They were just as delicious as they look. If you're in the Kansas City area, be sure to check out her website and Facebook page. She's does weddings and special occasions cake and more, and she's great!

To round out our desserts, I made Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars which turned out to be pretty yummy! They were super easy and you can find the recipe here. I finished the table with Eli's "I love" and "I can" statements to add to his time capsule from last year. I also had him draw a picture of his family, and we filled out a birthday info sheet, so I'm hoping to keep up with those traditions in the years to come!

Games and Activities 

It definitely wouldn't have been a fiesta without a pinata, and when we found this taco pinata at Hobby Lobby, we knew it was the one. We loaded it up with candy, and had five kiddos (ages 10 and under) take a whack at it. It was pretty funny to watch and we got some great video footage of it. Now Eli is kind of obsessed with hitting balloons with bats, so I guess we're working on hand eye coordination for his future athlete days!

Eli had been raving about his party for weeks, and he kept telling us that he was going to "candle, blow out". He even got some good practice in before we lit it. He was so cute while everyone was singing to him, holding my hand with a big ole smile while he listened. Gosh, he's great!

After the cake, we wanted to throw in a fun party game for all, so I printed out this Amigo Bingo game I found online. Our winners got lottery tickets, but sadly no one walked away a millionaire. I also had a lot of fun making Eli's One Second Everyday video again, which I put on loop on our TV in the background, along with his video from last year. It's sooo awesome to watch a little bit of his entire year in less than six minutes, and I love seeing all the memories and firsts as he grows. Check it out!

All in all, it was a really fun party. I loved piecing together the theme and decor, and most of all I loved having our home full of forty of our closest friends and family. I love seeing our cozy little home full of laughter, and having our "village" there with us was the very best part. They have been such a huge part of this year for Eli, and I honestly wanted to celebrate and throw this party for them just as must as for E. Here are a few more fun pics!

I hope you have a blast celebrating and planning your fiesta. We sure did. Let me know if you have any questions or need any help- party planning is my jam!


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Two: A Birthday Letter to My Eli

To My Big Two Year Old E,

It's strange to think that you won't remember this year of your life, but I hope I always will. Your sweet little blonde hair that refuses to give up its stubborn bedhead ways after every three hour nap, the precious little grin that makes your eyes squint just like mine, and the way you fit perfectly in my lap when we're chanting "I think I can" and tapping along on your "Choo Choo" book just one more time before bed. The way you incessantly ask for more "crack-oos", cling to me when I'm forced to leave for work, and boldly call for watching "tra-toos" whenever you want Daddy to turn on Gold Rush and snuggle with you. I hope that I can remember the joy that you brought us when you were so little and yet growing so quickly. This time when even your biggest concern can be calmed by wrapping you tightly in my arms and kissing your soft cheeks again and again.

I know that this letter won't mean much to you until you are older, but I hope that it shows you just a tiny glimpse of how much Daddy and I love you. How we loved and cherished this season (and every other one) with our precious son- you, a gift from God, a treasure in our family.

I marvel at the wonder of watching you learn. You are inquisitive and curious, already climbing under your Cozy Coupe to "work on cars" just like Daddy and sketching masterpieces with your bathtub crayons. You are a helper, always game to put the laundry away, wipe a paper towel on the window, or help me unload the dishwasher, one fork at a time. You are a little parrot, repeating every word and every song, lifting up your own little melody of praise when I least expect it, or getting mad when Daddy and I forget to hold your hold while we're praying. You are kind and thoughtful, always telling people "Bye Bye", "Night Night", and "Love You". Oh sweet boy, it is such a privilege to be your mama.

I can't quite explain the feeling I have when you run over to me in those pants you can't quite keep up around your skinny waist. The feeling of wonder and pride when you ask me to put on your shoes so you can "run run" fast, or "step and throw". You beg for me to "giddy up" with you around the kitchen, lifting your hands in the air and boogying with such joy. You plead for just one more piece of bacon, one more fry, and one more cookie. To ride in Daddy's truck or to go outside and slide just one more time, saying "No" and "Okay". but never "Yes". It's so hard to tell you no because it brings me such joy to see you happy.

But sometimes I do say no, even though it may mean tears and a tantrum, because at the end of the day, I love you so much that I know you must learn how to deal with rejection. How to follow the rules, how to handle your emotions, how to listen and disagree and still be a calm and rational human. I want the best for you, and sometimes that may mean that you don't always get what you want. But some day, I promise you'll thank me for that.

But on this day, your second birthday, your 730th day on this Earth, I'm not wishing it was some day already. I'm holding tight to this world of Pete the Cat and Paw Patrol, SleepSacks and snuggles. I will do my very best to not wish any time away because I know that it will go so very quickly. It already has. So here's to you, my little love. You light up my world. I know that you have your moments, and will continue to, but I also know that we have so many wonderful moments ahead that will make even the most frustrating two-year old behavior fade away from my memory. Here's to another whole year of loving and learning and living life to the full.

I love you so much, no matter what, and I always will.


Monday, February 18, 2019

Three Days in Austin: A Travel Guide

In early January, Aaron and I escaped the Kansas City cold and hopped on a plane for an adult's only trip to Austin, Texas (our first kid free getaway since our Hermann Getaway back in August). We had never been to Austin before, and it was the perfect non-stop flight to somewhere warmer. Plus, I had always wanted to make a little trip to Magnolia, and it was less than two hours to Waco! If you're looking to spend a long weekend in Austin, you've come to the right place. Here are my tips for things to do and places to eat while you're there!

To start our trip, we flew into Austin and rented a car (Side note: EasyRentCars offers incredible deals and coupons on rental cars! We got a steal of a deal on our Toyota Camry!). From there we hopped on the highway and drove straight to Waco (see farther down in the post for more), but you've got so many options for kicking off your own adventure in Austin. You'll definitely want a car to get around, as the city has so many different areas that are fun to explore- and not all of them are close together. There are lots of scooters and bikes you can rent, but we found that driving and parking, then just walking around was pretty time and cost efficient.

If money is less of an issue, you can definitely stay right in the heart of downtown, with Rainey Street and 6th Street being major areas to visit. We chose to stay in the quirky and fun South Congress area, just south of downtown, where there are numerous restaurants, music venues, and touristy areas to explore up and down South Congress Avenue. Once you get here and park, it's easy to walk up and down the avenue. We stayed in a cute Airbnb that was just minutes away, and was a great home base to explore from.

Explore the Austin Murals

One of the things Austin is known for is being "weird". And Austin wants to keep it that way. They celebrate their unique music and art culture, and have numerous fun murals throughout the city. They're fun to find and take selfies with (or make friends with people who are willing to take your picture)!

The Greetings from Austin Mural 

The Hi, How Are You Mural: "Jeremiah the Innocent"

Austintatious Murals on Guadalupe Street (Near the University of Texas)

Willie for President Mural

Party @ The Moontower Mural

I love you so much mural- outside Jo’s Coffee Shop on South Congress

Eat LOTS of Yummy Tacos (And Other Food)

One of the very best things about Austin is trying all of the delicious food. There are definitely tacos and Mexican restaurants in abundance, but we weren't disappointed by anything that we had. Here are a few big ones to hit! 

Torchy’s Tacos

Torchy's has locations all across Texas. We ate at the one on South Congress. I had the "trailer park" and the chicken fajita tacos, and they were delicious. So was the guac, and I loved the Austin sodas that were featured in their fountain drinks options.

This place was a diamond in the rough, and honestly may have been our favorite meal of our entire trip. We just happened to pull off and grab breakfast tacos here, and they were incredible: so fresh and cooked to order. Click the heading for more info and for location- you won't be sorry!  

Guero's Taco Bar

Guero's was our first stop for Mexican and it was super yummy. We hit happy hour for a great deal on Margarita's, and they had excellent enchiladas. They also have free live music every Wednesday through Sunday outside of the South Congress location. (6-8 on Thurs, 6:30-9:30 on Friday, 2:30-4:30 on Sat.) Check it out!

Homeslice Pizza

Homeslice Pizza is great if you'd just like to grab a quick slice without a line. They also have a sit down restaurant where you can order whole pizzas, calzones, or other items.

Dolce Neve Gelato

I never go on vacation without scoping out great ice cream options, and this one did NOT disappoint. They have delicious, unique gelato options and I would say it was pretty authentic to what I've had in Italy.

Enjoy Live Music (Often for Free!)

Austin is home to lots of great live music, and many of the options are even free! If you look up "Free Music in Austin" you can usually find lots of great options for when you'll be in town! 

One place that has been home to live music for years and years is the Continental Club on South Congress. Depending on timing of the show, they have free music or a small cover charge. Check out their website for more info!

Another option is to check out free music in the nearby Zilker area at the Saxon Pub. They often have free music from 6 -7:30 pm, and you can register ahead of time online. Definitely take in a show while in town!

Take a Dance Lesson (Or Grab a Drink)

If you know much about the story behind me and Aaron, you know that I love dancing, and that it has always been special for us. We couldn't take a trip to Austin, Texas without doing a little bit of counry two steppin'. I checked around and found free two step lessons for us at The White Horse.

It felt like a major hole in the wall, but just minutes after we showed up, a whole crew of people walked in and suddenly there was a full house for the lessons. We had a lot of fun and the instructors were really great. Other than asking if anyone wanted to tip, it didn't cost a dime. I would highly recommend it- they didn't make anyone feel silly and I didn't see a single person having a bad time.

We also made a little stop at The Austin Winery. It was a super fun space in what appeared to be a little warehouse area in a small part of town. There were several breweries and different areas nearby, so there was something for everything. We enjoyed sharing a bottle of wine, playing games, and watching playoff football games on their drop down screen. It's also really cool because they make and store the wine in the same space, so you can see it all from the long farmhouse tables. It's definitely a hip area worth checking out.

Take a Walking Tour

One of my very favorite things to do anytime we visit a new city is to go on some sort of tour. We found a great downtown Austin walking tour through Tipster Tours. Tipster doesn't have a price for their tours- you just tip what you feel is fair afterwards. It was a perfect 70 degree day in Austin, and we had a great time exploring the Capitol area and downtown, while learning more about the history of the area. 

The tour ended at the popular and gorgeous Driskill Hotel, which has a whole lot of character and its own restaurant and bakery. We didn't eat there, but I've heard it's delicious! 

Road Trip to Waco! 

If you've got time for it, and if you're just as big of a fan of Chip and Joanna as I am, hop in the car for the easy drive from Austin to Waco. In less than two hours, you'll be able to check out Magnolia. If you've watch any of the Fixer Upper series, especially the one where Jo renovates the bakery at the silos, it will really mean a lot to see it all in person. We had a ton of fun exploring the grounds, snagging a delicious cupcake (or two- don't judge!) from the bakery, and perusing the store to pick up a shirt and magnet before we left. And of course I was totally drooling over all of the cute decor in the store. But then it wouldn't have fit into my cute carry-on!

Magnolia is open from 9-6, and their Magnolia Table restaurant closes at 3 pm. Because of the timing for us, we didn't eat at their restaurant, but I've heard that it is amazing! It was really fun seeing all the things they've done the Silos. We did also make a quick stop in downtown at the Waco Winery and the Harp Design Co. before heading out of town. Waco is so cute!

All in all, we had an amazing time in Austin, and our bellies and hearts were pretty darn full after this getaway. You should definitely add it to your list! Let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to follow along on Instagram and Facebook if you aren't already! Can't wait to share more of our adventures with y'all soon!


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

4 Reasons You're Neglecting Your Porch (And How to Stop)

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Currently, Kelsie.

A porch is always a significant selling factor when it comes to buying property. This addition is something of a home bucket list item. It’s a quaint feature which provides real character to any property. The moment you see a porch, you may imagine sitting on a porch swing or drinking your morning coffee while chatting with your neighbors. Many of us love porches, and many of us would admit to being significantly swayed towards a property that has one. The trouble is, once we’re inside those homes, we fail to realize what we’ve got. That’s because, despite what they’d have us believe on the big screen, porches often go unused. If you aren’t careful, they’ll become a neglected home feature which you barely even notice.

That can be heartbreaking, especially if the porch was the reason you bought that property in the first place. The trouble is that porches go clean out of our minds once we’re inside our homes. While we focus on things like decor and interior renovation, we often fail to consider exteriors. And we fail to consider our porches right along with them. When that happens, there won’t be a porch swing. You’ll never drink coffee as the sun comes up. Instead, your porch will fall into disrepair, which threatens to ruin your property rather than bring it to life.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’ve neglected your porch up until now, you’re not alone. Many of us make this mistake, and it stops us from ever being 100% happy with our homes. But, it isn’t too late. As with anything in your house, it’s always possible to turn it around. All you need to do is consider whether these issues are behind your lack of use here.


It’s not safe.

One of the main reasons for lack of use here is an unsafe porch. If you risk putting your foot right through rotten wood as soon as you step off the main trail, you’re never going to try it. Equally, a porch which is experiencing foundation issues could become a hazard and a half. If your porch foundations sink so far that they come away from the top beams, you’ll never be able to use the space. Even worse, issues like these tend to be a vicious cycle. Things get this bad because you don’t use your porch the way you should. Then, you find yourself unable to use it as a result. It never ends. Until you take action, that is. The good news is that most porch issues have easier fixes than you would imagine. Reinforcing rotted porch panels with new wood could see you standing anywhere. Equally, turning to company like Helitech who offer porch mudjacking could cover you for any foundation issues. In an ideal world, you may find that you don’t even need to do this much. Often, issues here have even more straightforward fixes. It may be that a coat of varnish is all it takes to return your porch to its former glory. But, you’ll never know that unless you get out there. So, go on. What are you waiting for? Investigate the damage, and work out your easiest options for repair.

You haven’t made it look the part.

Sometimes, neglect here is nothing to with the actual condition of our porches. It may just be that you’ve neglected decor in this area. That alone could see you turning away from your porch rather than putting it to good use. Think about it; if a room in your home doesn’t look right, you close the door until you can tackle it. That’s what you’ve been doing on your porch all these years. The trouble is, you never get around to addressing it. Once you’re safe at home, you can ignore it altogether. By this point, the paint is flaking, and the whole thing looks a bit of a mess. There are still piles of leaves in the corner from last autumn, for gosh sake. You know what I'm going to say next, though, don’t you? It’s past time you tackled decor here, too. Your porch is the most prominent part of your house to passers-by, after all. It’s the first thing guests see when they arrive. So, making it look pretty matters far more than you’ve given it credit for until now. Lucky for you, decor here is often easier than it is in your house itself. All you need to do is invest in the right outdoor paints, and figure out how to craft a porch you can use. White is a popular color for porch beams, but it’s not your only choice. Bright porches can also work really well. Yellow is always a fantastic option, as is baby blue. You may even find that you want to strip paint off altogether and expose any wood for a rustic country vibe. This is fantastic for those who don’t have the time to keep on top of upkeep. If you aren’t sure which look you prefer, head online. There’s plenty of porch inspo out there which could see you wanting to spend every spare moment enjoying this space again.


You haven’t given it a purpose.

It may seem strange to talk about giving your porch a purpose. To some extent it does, after all, take care of that itself. Wrap-around porches frame properties. Some porch designs work to secure the foundations of a house. Others offer added levels of protection. Sadly, none of this is going to help you using the space. That’s why it can help to bring an added level of purpose to an area like this. You don't have to go wild with this if you don’t want to. Even something as simple as a classic porch swing could provide the incentive you need to get more use here. You’ll find it much harder to neglect your porch when you have the option of lounging with a book when summer rolls around. It’s certainly a better bet than a blank canvas with no seating at all. If that doesn’t work, you may want to go even further. Placing potted plants here could transform this space into a small garden for the whole family to enjoy. At the very least, that means you’ll spend time here watering the plants each day. You may then find that you stick around, seeing as you’re already outside. You may even want to turn your porch over to practical purposes, such as excess storage space. That may not mean you use the area more, but it would ensure that the area no longer went to waste. You may even find that turning this into an outdoor kiddie play area is your best bet at ensuring continual use. There are a whole load of possibilities. You get the idea though; purpose makes for a happy and well-used porch.

There’s no privacy.

If none of the above is behind your porch neglect, it may well be that privacy is the issue. The idea of sitting on the porch and chatting with neighbors is nice in theory, but it doesn’t always work out. If you don’t know your neighbors that well, for instance, you may feel overly exposed every time you head out. That alone could stop you from using the space. This issue becomes even more pressing if you don’t get along with your neighbors. Before you know it, years will have gone by without you using your porch properly. Unless you tackle the issue of privacy now, of course. In reality, there’s no reason you should put up with porch exposure. There are plenty of things you can do to add a level of privacy which keeps you happy. If you’re opting for the garden idea, tall and hanging plants can keep your porch a little hidden. By choosing the right spots for these, you could cover your neighbor’s view altogether. If that doesn’t make you feel safe, there are other options. There’s even such a thing as patio curtains which could help keep you out of view. In extreme cases, you may want to opt for an entire porch cover. This would stop anyone from seeing you when you’re using the space. It may seem extreme, but it’s a step worth taking if it saves your porch going to waste.

If any of these pointers ring true to you, it’s time you get out and made some changes. It sounds to us like your porch is long overdue a little love, so go transform it into something you'll spend hours and hours in! Good luck!


Friday, January 25, 2019

Florida Beach Vacation Spots

Now that we're in the middle of our fourth snow storm of the winter... I've got beach fever. We had an amazing time in Puerto Vallarta on our adults only getaway last summer, and Eli loved dipping his toes in the oceans of North Carolina on our family trip. It's safe to say that I think the whole family has beach fever. Although we'll likely be staying home this spring break (lots going on people- LOTS!), I'd still kill to be on a beach somewhere. We've been to Orlando before, but we've never visited the southeast side of Florida. It's no secret that the state has some of the most beautiful beaches in the nation. Here are some fabulous Florida beaches that you should consider for your next vacation.

Clearwater Beach

Located just southwest of Tampa, Clearwater Beach is continuously named one of the top beaches to visit in the United States. With beautiful white sand beaches and shallow water, Clearwater Beach is also a great place for families to visit. I can literally picture Eli scooping shovelfuls of sand into his little pail. Here, you'll find great opportunities to enjoy the water with kayaking, boating, and dinner cruises. From Pier 60 to the Clearwater Marina to Sand Key Park, you'll definitely have a lot to do in the area.

Daytona Beach

Perhaps best known for the Daytona 500 NASCAR race, Daytona Beach is another great family beach destination. Located on the eastern side of Florida, the city also has the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. The beach has an awesome pier and boardwalk that were recently renovated, and families can enjoy food, shopping, and great thrill rides, including an oceanfront roller coaster that's scheduled to open soon. The 23 miles of beautiful sandy beach are worth visiting as well.

Panama City Beach

Source: Aaron Burden
Known as a top spring break destination for college students, Panama City Beach is a great option for those looking to avoid going quite so far east. PCB is located just east of Destin, and it's a very affordable option. The water is a great place to fish or scuba dive, and there are two state parks in the area. There are several touristy areas where you can eat and shop, as well as dolphin tours and a Gulf World Marine Park. If you visit at certain times of the year, you can avoid the craziness of spring break and have a great time as a family! Aaron and I visited briefly during the day a few years ago and it was actually quite peaceful.

Sanibel Island 

Best known for its incredible shells, Sanibel Island offers a calmer and more private beach option. The island is located west of Fort Myers, and is a great destination for both romantic getaways and family vacations. Consistently ranked as a top travel destination, Sanibel Island is an excellent choice for fishing, shelling, golf, tennis, birdwatching, and more. This is a great place to relax and enjoy luxurious resorts and fine dining, and it's totally on my list!!

Sunny Isles Beach

Source: Lance Asper
Sunny Isles Beach is just north of North Beach, Miami, where we visited a couple summers ago. Although it may not be as well known as other options, Sunny Isles offers gorgeous views of the Atlantic along a beautiful white sand beach. Resorts in the area are plentiful and not far from the hustle and bustle of South Beach or even the natural adventure found in the Everglades. Sunny Isles has free morning yoga on the beach, along with Florida's largest urban park, Oleta River State Park. The Newport Fishing Pier has been newly rebuilt and is worth a visit.

No matter which Florida beach you choose to visit, you'll definitely enjoy both the beauty of the ocean and lots of fun activities that will please any traveler. We had a great time on our Florida vacation, and I'm sure we'll be back to visit another one of these locations soon. Happy planning!