Vicariously stalking A Beautiful Mess

So, I’ve been reading the cutest blog for a while now. In case you missed the link on the right, go check out A Beautiful Mess (I’ll wait right here for you). Doesn’t Elsie looks like she’s the coolest gal a girl could know? I’ve been following her blog for about a year now and I just love it. I love to see all the cool fashion tips she shares, her photos and stories. And she’s engaged to a singer who has the most delightful voice. She recently opened a store in Springfield, Missouri called Red Velvet. It looks like it’s a neat store filled with vintage items, handmade accessories, clothes and…cupcakes (I know, it gets better and better as I go on).

As you may or may not know, my parents are out of town on a business trip. It’s actually my dad’s trip but he kidnapped my mom and turned it into a mini vacation. They started out in Florida on Thursday. When they come home next week, their “mini vacation” will have consisted of at least five states and 3,500+ miles! Since my parents just happened to be passing through Springfield, I asked if they’d stop by Elsie’s store. If I can’t meet her in person, then they definitely should! Being that I’m their favorite daughter (ok, so I’m the only daughter, no matter), they agreed. They landed in Springfield today and stopped for a visit. Elsie was there & they said she was lovely (not that I expected to hear anything different). She was very friendly even after they described their stalker daughter to her. I even have it on good authority that she wrote a note to me. A real, handwritten note by a real blogger…I cannot wait to read it!

Thank you, Elsie, for being so kind to my parents. You were the highlight of their day as they drove though a very dreary, rainy Missouri. I can’t wait to see the treasures they’re bringing home from your store!


Who said the fair is for the kids?

I’ve lived in Florida almost all my life, but have never attended the Florida State Fair. Since the boys were out of school yesterday we decided to go. It was part I-want-to-have-fun and part I-don’t-want-my-kids-to-hav-a-deprived-childhood-like-I-did (if you know anything about my childhood, you know that’s so not the truth). We packed up bright and early (read: about 9:30) and headed to the fairgrounds in Tampa. I had big visions of frolicking and being flung around in fair-type rides. Oh yes, and deep fried goodness.

Before entering the fair, I realized that I forgot the memory card for my camera. I had my camera in my hands but my computer had the card. Forced to enjoy the day with no photography pressure, I took along only my iPhone to document the day.

In my family, I have a husband that’s currently in the those-with-back-problems-should-not-ride-this-ride group. Ken’s been having some minor back problems. Nothing serious, but just enough to keep him off the rides. I have one child that’s going through roller coaster puberty. Ethan is too grown up for the kiddie rides but almost all the grown up rides are still the “great unknown” to him. He enjoys psyching himself up for them but it’s a big job every time. And even harder with no peers around to convince him to ride. Then I have another child who quite possibly isn’t a blood member of this family. Jackson doesn’t like roller coasters. At all. Not even the “kiddie” ones. I honestly think he needed to psych himself up for the sky ride. I don’t know where he came from. I enjoy having him live in this house but I’m not sure he’s mine.

We all rode the sky ride and with a bird’s eye view, found the things we wanted to experience. I, of course, chose them all. Ethan picked a select few and Jackson was ready to go home. He’s a good sport about the whole thing. For the most part, he happily tags along and cheers us on in our endeavors. First up, the roller coaster. I’d compare it to The Scorpion at Busch Gardens. It was a step up from the kiddie rides but not quite the death defying rides you typically find at the fair. It was pretty bumpy but not really bad. Following the coaster, I decided to try a “real” ride. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it. Just picture a whiryl whirl of spinny fun. I wasn’t sure if I was up or down or sideways, going forwards or backwards. It was fast and furious and awesome!

We were set to have more fun but that Ethan wasn’t feeling well. I’m still not sure if it was the roller coaster or maybe he was nervous about riding more rides. So we were down to one dare devil: me. I felt bad having them wait on the sidelines while I enjoyed all the twisty turns so instead we headed for the fun house. I never thought mirrors and glass could be that confusing. The Long family felt their way through the maze and then up to the mirrors of death. They’re not supposed to be scary unless you’re a woman. What woman wants to look 8 inches shorter and 100 pounds heavier than she really is? Now you agree, right?

We wandered around for a little bit more and decided to head to see the animals. Horses, goats, wallabies, giraffes, chickens, cows, Texas Longhorns (and I’m not talking about the restaurant), rabbits, you name it, they were there. A friend of mine actually got to see a cow give birth! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rush to the scene or steer away from the up-close health class lesson. In the end, we missed it. But we saw plenty of animals.

This little fella found the fence quite tasty:


These were so cute, just hopping all around:

You could buy food to feed the animals but since the fair isn’t cheap we decided to watch others feed him:

After spending an hour or so checking out the wildlife, it was back to the fair, all along trying to convince Jackson to ride the ferris wheel. I think we shot ourselves in the foot with this one. Somewhere along the way, I have told my children that my dad (typically a dare devil) doesn’t like the swings or ferris wheel. Jackson used this as his excuse, “I’m just like Papa.” Since he was close to tears, we let him off the hook. Ethan & Ken rode while Jackson & I watched from the shade.

I rode a few more supersonic, loopy, booming rides and convinced Ethan to ride the swings with me.

One more stop before leaving: deep fried Snickers.

It tasted just like it sounds; like a melted candy bar inside a donut. Definitely not something I’d like to eat every day. But where else can you get this? I didn’t want to miss my one and only opportunity.

We also saw this. Would you ever think to try this? Not me…

In the end, we all had fun. Even Jackson. Was it the greatest day in my life? No. But it kept us from being stuck inside on a beautiful day. It was something different for us to do (which I LOVE) and I got to be whipped around while going a billion miles an hour! I would recommend the fair to everyone. But you just missed it. Only 1 year left to wait.


Geocaching and the not-so-valuable treasure

I’ve been wanting to go geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) for quite a few years. Don’t know what it is? Let me explain. It’s a game of high-tech hide and seek. There are treasures all around us that you’d never know about unless you were looking for them.

First, I signed up on  for a geocaching account on (I went with the free one that gives you plenty of access to caches all over the place.) They even have a cute little video that sums up what it’s all about. Then, type in a zip code, address, state or country and up will pop a list of locations for you to scout. It’s all done by GPS so if you have a GPS device or even a smart phone, you’re ready to go. Follow your GPS to the “spot” and then start searching. What you’re looking for is a small container filled with a log and a cache – items to trade. Think: trinkets or something of little value. Remember this for later. Sign the log, leave a trinket and take a trinket. It’s really that simple.

On our first trip out, we went looking for three different caches. I wasn’t sure how hard it would be, so I brought three just in case. We drove close to our destination, parked our car and went walking. The weather here has been wonderful so being outside was great. We got to our spot and started hunting. The GPS coordinates brought us right on the other side of a tennis court. While Ken & I started looking for the cache, the boys started counting tennis balls they were collecting from the bushes. We spent about 20 minutes looking for the container with no luck. The boys were not disappointed; they found more tennis balls than they could carry!

Our next hunt was on the way back to the car. It was just off the main street in a little park. Ken spotted the cache first but let the boys find it (with a little bit of coaching). Jackson was the first to spot it. It was one of those M&M’s containers shaped like a pill bottle. I was so excited to see what was inside. The first thing inside was the log for us to sign. Then there was the “treasure”: a bottle cap and a marble. I thought it was pretty neat. Something left by perfect strangers for us to find. Ethan, however, didn’t find it quite as impressive. “A bottle cap and a marble?I tried to explain that it’s about the hunt & not the treasure, to which he said, “Yes it is.” In the end, though, he was happy with the experience. We left the trinkets from our home and went on our way.

We had one more hunt on our list. I won’t bore you with the details but I will say that next time, we’ll choose a location that isn’t close to homeless/drug addicts. And their paraphernalia.

Ethan has since asked me several times if we can go again. I’m always up for doing something different. I hate doing the same things over and over again. This was the perfect fit for our family. I suggest you try it. Maybe you, too, will find something as valuable as a bottle cap and a marble!

Here’s our “treasure”. Notice the tennis ball in the background?

Spoiler alert…This is the spot where we found our cache:

Sweet Shot Tuesday

I know I said I wouldn’t bore you with redundant photos. But I’m linking up with this site . Each Tuesday, you choose you’re favorite photo of the week and share it. Anyone is welcome to play along so if you’re interested, follow the link and join us.

I’ve chosen this photo as my favorite photo of the week. It’s funny to some that when the storms come around I get excited. This was a pretty big storm for our area – tornado warnings, lots of sideways rain and wind. So, naturally, I went outside. When the storm was at its strongest, the boys and I sat on the porch to check out the hullabaloo. This storm came with more wind and rain than many “hurricanes” have come with. After the downpour subsided some, I took my umbrella, tripod and camera out to the street to brave the cold rain and oncoming cars. Anything for a photo, right? Ten minutes, two cars and lots of rain later, I came in with this shot:


What shots have been your favorite this week?