Florida Mural Trail

CJ and I went to Florida for the month of May and though it was full of family time, we headed out for adventures of our own. I grew up in Vero and though she may not remember this trip, I wanted to show her my hometown.

One thing that Vero Beach didn’t always have was the mural trail. Florida has this huge mural trail and it was nice to see Indian River County join in on the fun. We made it to all but 3 murals in IRC. We didn’t make it to the ones in Sebastian, but we hit up all of the others.

We broke the adventure up over a couple of days to keep from being overwhelmed…. because you know, toddlers. A lot of them are located right in downtown Vero and down Old Dixie Hwy. There are a couple on the beach side and one down the dirt road part of Oslo, towards the river.

It was nice revisiting some of my favorite spots, but it was especially nice doing it with my daughter. She had a lot of fun taking walks and posing in front of the murals. She had so much fun at the bird mural that she didn’t want to get back into the car.

Click here if you want a quick list to IRC’s mural trail *or* keep reading my version for recommendations of what to do in those areas! Almost all of them are done by different art clubs, schools, and artists. They are credited on the link above!

Audubon Center, Oslo Road

Audubon Center on Oslo Road – The first one I want to share with you is this gorgeous mural full of Vero’s wildlife! Check the hours before to go – we did show up when they were closed, but you can still walk in and see the mural. They also have a little wildflower garden in the back! Afterwards, head on over to the Oslo Shopping Center for ice cream at Smiley Riley’s. Totally kid friendly, but if you are over 21 they have a special menu for you!

Mr. Smokes, 20th Street

This one is close to downtown, but set off from the others. It’s such a cute mural and it’s located right on the side of the Mr. Smokes on 20th Street.

Downtown Vero

The next collection of murals are all located on 14th Ave and Old Dixie Hwy. The Vero Beach Mural is across the street from Southern Social. The Native Indian/Citrus Mural and the Firefly (first pic of the blog post) are in the alley next to Southern Social. The mermaid is on the entrance to the amazing Kilted Mermaid restaurant – great place to grab a beer and some roasted olives. They also have cheese AND dessert fondue. The hibiscus mural is located next to the railroad tracks, right across from the Blue Octopus (great place of unique artwork & furniture). The floral mural is on the side of The Hazel House. Another great home decor store. And last, but not least, the restaurant mural is located across from Kountry Kitchen.

Downtown Vero has a lot to offer – shopping, food, beer, and businesses. I totally recommend walking around some time and checking it all out.

Riverside Park

This one was by far our favorite! It’s located in Riverside Park right by the tennis courts. Charlotte had a blast here. We actually saw a blue jay and a wood pecker in the trees approaching this mural! There is a walking trail right in front of this mural, so it’s a great place for a walk with a view!

Sticking with the beachside for a second! Here are two more murals located in East Vero. These are so close to the beach that you’d be totally missing out to not make this apart of a beach day. The first is located on azalea lane, between cardinal drive & ocean drive. Fun fact! The second mural, the beach scene, is located at Bethel Creek House – where my husband and I held our wedding reception back in 2009!

There were several murals by Christopher Sweeney and they are all similar to this mural. This one is located on 14th Avenue in Vero, right near the FLC. He has several other murals located up and down Old Dixie Hwy and I believe I even saw one in Ft. Pierce. Keep a look out for these in Vero! If it isn’t a heart, it may be a cute little robot.

I’m throwing in some honorable mentions that weren’t on the list provided by VisitIndianRiver.com.

Hidden Valley Orchards

The sunshine was working it today! It has been a whole week of clouds, thunderstorms, and dreary days, but we finally woke up to total sunshine this morning. I immediately decided that CJ and I needed to get out of the house for an adventure that didn’t involve a grocery store.

So we headed out to Hidden Valley Orchards, which has been one of our favorite places to visit since we moved to Ohio. HVO has changed a lot since the beginning, but it’s still an amazing family adventure.

During the summer, they host holiday events, Fruit festivals, petting zoos for kids, and u-pick events. Everything from grapes to apples! They also sell small home decor, fresh fruits & vegetables, baked goods, and canned items. They also just opened a bar and huge patio area this year!

So today CJ and I headed out to pick some blueberries! We got a pint sized buckets for five bucks and ventured out to the fields in search of something yummy.

I love to do stuff like this with her. We went strawberry picking last year at HVO and apple picking in the Fall at another orchard in Yellow Springs. Much like last year and my tomatoes though, she picks the ripe berries AND the tiny little green ones too.

After we filled up our pint-sized bowl of blueberries, we headed inside for lunch. Hidden Valley Orchards has a huge and delicious menu! Burgers, sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, and so many delicious baked goods.

I got CJ a burger with a side of fresh fruit and I got a bacon grilled cheese with green beans. We also got a buckeye brownie, which is less of a brownie and more of a small sized cake.

It was a gorgeous day and totally something we needed after such a gloomy week. We’ve been having a hard time getting back into a routine since we got back too, so even though it’s quite opposite of routine, the spontaneity of today was just what we needed.

And now we’ve got some delicious and as fresh as they get blueberries for the weekend. I’m thinking blueberry pancakes? Muffins? Cake? Or all of the above!

HVO is located at 5474 OH-48 in Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Click here for their Facebook for more info

Plant Mom

It is finally time to start growing!

I missed out the the initial seeding season because I actually spent the whole month of May in Florida visiting family (most posts on that coming soon). Now that I’m back though, I haven’t wasted any time.

Instead of starting with seeds though, I decided to support a local farm called Friendly Knoll Farm that sets up shop at the Wednesday Fairborn Farmer’s Market. I’ve been buying from them for two summers and I am never disappointed. Aside from seedlings, they also sell plantable flowers and in true farmers market fashion, they also have an assortment of veggies for purchase- Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, etc.

The two guys who run the booth at the Fairborn Market are always super friendly and full of useful information on the products you are buying. They are always willing to chat about plants, which is why I think I trust them the most. Their tips are always helpful.

Back to the blog post!

So the first Wednesday that I came back to town, I dropped by the market and picked up an assortment of tomatoes, peppers, and for the first time I’m going to try growing my own cucumbers!

I made sure to pick up a wide variety of tomatoes – Black Cherry, Chocolate Cherry, San Marzano, Yellow Brandywine, Marglobe, and Golden Jubilee. I’m excited to see what all grows.

The cucumbers are a new adventure for me. I also have sweet peppers – ivory & jupiter. Oh, and my raspberries are growing from last year! It’s bound to be a busy season.

Stay tuned for updates!

Doing Dayton

One thing I’ve always loved is exploring & experiencing a new place. My husband and I are the same way – we adapt to wherever we live or visit. After 4 years though, we’ve slowed down on exploring the near by city of Dayton. We’ve stumbled into revisiting our favorites.

So when my brother, James, came to visit I got to dive back into being a tourist to show him around. We had 1.5 days to explore, so this is how we crashed into the Gem City in the short time we had.

Wednesday

I picked James up in Columbus at the airport around 1:30pm. After a quick stop at the house, we headed down to the Oregon District. I wanted to show him the heart of it all.

After a driving tour of historic buildings and landmarks, we parked at the Oregon District where we checked out places like Beck & Call, Bonnett’s Book Store, Omega Music, & Spice Paradise. We finished off our evening with the Gem City staple, the Dublin Pub.

What I love about the Oregon district is that you can find almost anything you are looking for, but also just park and explore. There are cute little niche stores, bars, restaurants, tattoo shops, and businesses. A good morning full of new things to find.

Thursday

We started this day out early! I wanted to treat him to one of my new favorites – St. Anne the Tart. We loaded up with a sweet tart, a cookie, a salted brownie and two delicious Mocha Lattes before taking a drive around the historic homes of St. Anne’s Hill. James loved all of the brick homes.

The Air Force Museum was what we conquered next. This museum is free and a great place for aircraft, military, & war related history. It will take 2-4 hours just to walk through, even longer to read every plate & sign. It’s an amazing place to visit.

We checked out Zombie Dogs and my brother was a HUGE fan of it. Since we were close, I took him for a drive around Woodland Cemetery for a view of the city. James is also a lover of anything game and comic related, so we checked out DK Effect – free games if you get a drink!

Lastly, we ended up in downtown Fairborn at the comic and toy stores. My brother is one of those people who can casually converse with anyone, so his trip into Time Warp Toys & Collectibles was exactly that! He spent at least forty minutes exploring and chatting with the owner while CJ and I hopped over to Lefty’s Eats & Espresso for an iced mocha & bagel.

It was totally refreshing to act as part tourist, part tourist-guide in a place I’ve lived for almost four years. It reignited my love for all of the tiny gems (pun-intended) nestled within Dayton.

If you’ve become comfortable in your hometown or wherever you live, I definitely recommend finding a few new places you haven’t been and working them into your favorites list. It just might reopen your eyes to your own surroundings.

What are your favorite places where you live?

Toddler VS Tidy House

I’m just gonna say it…. toddlers are gross. You guys know that I adore my daughter and her curiosity for the world, but toddlers are gross and she is no exception.

I’ve always kept a tidy house. Becoming a mom didn’t change that for me. I like things picked up and in their place. It’s just how I function. I actually tend to get a bit of anxiety when things aren’t clean, so tidy just works for our family.

It is not for everyone and that’s okay.

Today I pulled the couch out after I tossed the cushion covers in the washer and I found a collection of toys beneath it – plus some dried shredded cheese and a couple of stale Cheerios. Oh and crumbs. Crumbs everywhere.

Should I be embarrassed to tell you that? Because I’m not. A toddler-sized traveling snack eater lives here and it’s probably not allllll her. I also like to eat popcorn on the couch while I catch up on my shows. And honestly, if the less than desirable couch treasures are the messiest things in my house than I feel like I’m doing a decent job.

I do want to briefly touch on the stigma of tidy vs less than tidy. I saw some comments on an article I read recently and the article talked about tidiness. The comments ranged from wholeheartedly agreeing to subtlety judging the author’s lifestyle. I just want to say that if your kids are happy, tidy or not, then you are doing a good job. There is no need to compare your home to anyone else’s. You don’t live there and you shouldn’t make anyone feel bad for their choices.

Back to tidying up, guys. I want to leave you with a quote and a couple of quick tidying up tips that can fit any parent’s lifestyle. I read this quote about a year ago and it still really shapes the way I do things on a daily basis.

“You have time for what you make time for.”

And with that, here are a couple of my favorite 5 minutes or less daily tidy-tips!

1. Fold the laundry. You’ve done the washing. You’ve done the drying. Now do the folding!

2. Put away the toys before bed. This one really only takes 2 minutes, if that. Each night before I whisk CJ off to bed, we put her books on the shelf. We toss the puzzle pieces on top of the puzzle boards. We line up her impressive collection of cars and everything else gets tossed into the toy box.

3. Make your bed! It might seem silly to make your bed when you are just going to climb into it later, but it’s worth it. Wouldn’t you rather easily climb into those pre-made sheets when you are tired rather than having to zombie your way through straightening out the pillows, sheets, and blankets in the moment that you really just want to lay down?

4. Toss the junk mail. You don’t really need those food coupons that you probably won’t use before they expire anyway. Plus, in the world of technology, you can mostly likely get a better coupon directly on the website. Old bills that you’ve already paid? File or toss. Ads you think you’ll need? Take a picture and make a special file on your phone! Junk mail is called junk for a reason. Don’t let it clutter your coffee table or counters.

5. Vacuum! “What? That doesn’t take 5 minutes. Get outta here!” It does if you vacuum one room a night. Pick the room that needs it the most and go for it. It doesn’t have to be thorough, but it helps a ton when a busy parent finally does get to do a deep clean.

There it is! 5 things you can do in 5 minutes or less. That’s just 25 minutes if you choose to do it all in one night – that is a lot less time than most people spend clicking through social media or watching their shows. And a reminder! If tidying up isn’t your thing? That’s okay. If tidying up is your thing? That’s okay. If you want tidying up to be your thing? Then start with these tips!

I’m a mess…y painter

Whenever I tell my husband that I want to paint something, there is this moment of silence… this lost look in his eye for just a moment before he gives me the signal to continue on with my painting proposition. He’s not a fan of house projects and though he is super supportive of my hobbies, he’s even less of a fan of me painting.

We are definitely no Chip & Joanna Gaines when it comes to home improvements.

I can try my absolute hardest to paint and be clean about it, but will still make a mess. I’m very casual about it too. I always say “oh, I’ll come back and clean that up.” And my husband will be internally groaning as he tries hard not to look at whatever mess I’ve just made. I do always fix it though – well except the garage floor. That one is probably a lost cause until I stop taking in stray furniture pieces to work on.

So during his recent work trip, I decided to tackle the laundry room. The laundry room didn’t always bother me under the warm glow lighting in there. However, my husband fixed the pantry light and unknowingly created more work. That light (and I’m so thankful it’s fixed) made the paint in the laundry room/pantry look like a vintage haunted hospital. It brought to life every single mark on those terrible white walls.

Choosing the color was easy. When we bought the house in 2016, one of the first things we did before we moved in was paint. There was a sandy textured paint on the walls that didn’t fit out style. After a ton of debate about colors, we settled on a choice cream and got to work. It’s the same color I chose for the laundry room.

With the tiny human in tow, it took me about 3 days to fully complete. We were both covered in paint for days! She finger painted, leaned into the paint, and at one point she even stepped into the paint tray… with both feet. My kitchen counters were covered in laundry & pantry supplies. As I looked around, I sure was thankful that my husband couldn’t see this mess.

But I conquered it. I reorganized the pantry and even purchased some decorations for the laundry room. I know it’s not always an important room to update, but it feels good to walk into those freshly painted cream walls and a plant above my washer & dryer. I even bought a little Laundry sign for half off at Hobby Lobby.

It feels good when I execute a large project like this off of my to-do list. It makes me feel invincible for a little while. I recommend it for anyone looking for a change, but also do your research and be realistic about the projects you take on.

It’s done. She’s two!

I’m sitting here on the couch with a heating pad shoved down my shirt because it is 16° degrees outside and with my daughter curled up on my lap under a blanket. All is right in the world. Why does this moment matter so much? Because she’s finally two and we conquered her birthday party on Sunday!

I’ve been planning her Bunny themed party since mid-January and my anxiety did not take a break. But alas, friends, it is done. She is two!

Some Bunny is Two was her theme! We had a garden of veggies, fruit salad, bunny t(r)ail mix, punch, and pizza. Oh, and those super cute cupcakes up above!

We had Peter Rabbit playing on the tv and coloring pages of bunnies and flowers out for the kids to color. I made a bunny bowling box will tissue paper. She and her little friends had a total blast running around. Her party was a success!

But I stressed about it hard. There were lots of 3am Pinterest searches because I couldn’t sleep. A lot of buying, returning, crafting, and creating games & decor that honestly…. two year olds don’t notice nor care about.

Moms, if you are like me when it comes to birthday parties, please stop, drop, and relax. It’s okay to want perfect and fun. It’s okay to do a little or a lot. Your kids will have a blast with their friends whether you nailed down those details or not.

Everything fell into place when her guests arrived. I immediately stopped worrying and joined in on the fun. I encourage you all to do the same! The moments that you are present for are all that matters.

Now does this mean I learned my lesson and won’t stress about future parties? Nope, not a chance. I do think I’ll be able to relax a little more though and make sure I’m present for the important stuff rather than stressing out.

Just remember to breathe and relax!

Here are a couple of cool things about my awesome toddler in celebration of her birthday:

  • She can count to 6
  • She loves to dance
  • She loves cars, trains, and planes
  • She can hear a candy wrapper 3 rooms away
  • She’s a professional tomato picker
  • She is obsessed with books.
  • Though she tried to blow out her candles, she wanted nothing to do with her cake.

It really is the little things. She is very loved by her friends and seeing the happiness on her face is something I’ll always remember – unlike the already fading memory of scrolling endless birthday themed searches.