Friday, June 30, 2023

Destin Favorites

Happy Friday!  We had a great week in Destin, Florida last week and I'm excited to share the highlights with you today for my Friday favorites post.  

We made lots of good memories and can laugh about the hiccups we had throughout the trip now - dead van battery thanks to Leo, car sickness, tantrums when it was time to leave the pool, misplaced puddle jumper, food poisoning, me having to switch from passenger to driver on the trip home, trying to stop at Buccees, getting stuck in the men's restroom and more.  All family trips include a good mix of highs and lows.  These moments all feel kind of silly now that some time has passed and we'll choose to focus on the fun and highlights from here on out :)

We stayed at Tops'L resort on the east side of Destin and loved it.  We've stayed here several times with Kevin's parents and it's always great.  They're painting the exterior of the resort so there was more construction than usual, but the boys loved watching all the action.  We drove down this year.  It says it's a 9.5 hour drive, but we make stops and it takes us a little longer than that.

Now onto my Destin Favorites.

1 // Big kids - all 3 kids carried their own beach gear/tools down to the ocean each day.  It felt like a big milestone.  Leo also made sure to push his way to the front of the pack so that he could greet every person we walked past.  He loved waving and saying hello to everyone.  We barely used our stroller and our days of asking for a high chair or special little kid things are wrapping up.  It's a tiny bit sad, but mostly exciting new territory for our family.

2 // A perk of driving to the ocean - you get to bring your metal detector!  Fletcher found some coins, an earring and a few other random things.  Not as exciting as gold or diamonds, but it was cute to see him searching for treasure.

3 // Twins.  My in-laws kept commenting over and over again that toddler Leo and toddler Kevin were the exact same guy.  They'd laugh at his big opinions and antics and say it felt like they were in a time machine back to Kevin's toddler days.

Look at that gorgeous water!!  It was so pretty all week.

4 // The Fun One.  Kevin took the kids out in the ocean deeper than I would and played in the waves until they were all worn out.  Leo did not wan to be left out from any big kid activity.

5 // Family photos.  While I was snapping a picture of the kids and Kevin a sweet Southern lady popped up from her chair and offered to take our whole family picture.  She said moms need to be in pictures, too.  I promise - you'll meet the nicest, friendliest people when you vacation on the Gulf Coast.

6 // Whoops!  Notice anything wrong with their shorts!?!  The funny thing is that Fletcher didn't say a peep about his shorty shorts until I asked him if they felt funny.  Dressing them in matching clothes is my favorite!  I'll have to start paying closer attention to their size tags.  Leo is quickly catching up to Fletch.

7 // Evenings at the ocean are my favorite!  It's less crowded and just more relaxed.  Leo did not ever want to go down to the ocean without his tools.

8 // Books.  Kevin's parents started taking us all to the bookstore at the beginning of vacation to get us all new reading material for the week and it's one of our favorite traditions.  Each kid picked out 3 new books and I got Where the Crawdad's Sing after we watched the movie together and loved it.

9 // Leo loved playing in the sand so much.  I brought two of his diggers down with us and he was in heaven.  Sandy heaven.

10 // Cousin lunch!!  My sweet cousin Tamara recently relocated to Destin with her family for the coolest new job.  I miss her tons so it was really wonderful to catch up over crab cakes.  We laughed at the ocean breeze and our wild hair.

11 // We rented chairs and umbrellas at Tops'L this year and it was so nice!!  It's so much work (mostly for Kevin) to carry and set up all of our stuff so this felt like the biggest luxury to just show up at the ocean each morning and go to our spot.  We did a mix of swim, walk the shoreline, play in the sand and lounge.

12 // Mushrooms bring this girl so much joy!  It's the cutest thing.  She finds mushrooms wherever we go and usually wants me to take her picture by them.  Just don't ask her to eat a mushroom.  She hates them.

13 // Thanks to Kevin's parents for taking us to the beach every year!  It's our favorite!

14 // Double Red Flags.  We ended the trip with double red flag days.  That meant no one was allowed in the ocean.  They were patrolling and threatening fines to anyone who ignored their warnings.  Surprisingly, it really didn't cramp our style all that much.  We still did all of our favorite things and just relaxed a little more.  We told Leo the waves were too big and too spicy to go in and he seemed to understand.  Now whenever the weather gets bad, he says it's a double red flag day.

15 // Crabs!  We have never stumbled upon crabs in the ocean.  These guys tossed and tumbled in the waves and they were so much fun to watch.  We went on long walks and after Fletcher and I spotted the crabs, we had to bring Olive back to see them for herself.

16 // Leo loves sand.  He rolled in it like a puppy and wasn't bothered at all being sugar coated.  He was so happy to say hello to everyone and tried to set up camp at any umbrella set up that looked kid friendly.  He made a lot of people smile.


17 // Olive preferred to lounge and relax and seemed so grown up this year.

18 // Wild waves and lots of happy memories!  Thanks for the picture, Olive.

19 // The double red flags meant that the crowds were down at the ocean and gave us a little more room to play.  We'd play at the beach and then head up to the pools to swim.

20 // Tommy Bahama.  It's our favorite beach restaurant and we made reservations for our last night.  The food was amazing as always (you'll never have better crab cakes or key lime pie!) and the girls got treated to new bags in the shop after dinner.  We love this Grande Boulevard area so much.  The girls could have done a lot more shopping, but the boys were done.  We also had great success at our favorite spot - Silver Sands outlet mall.

Thanks for recapping a really fun trip to Destin with me!  I hope you all get to go visit these beautiful beaches one day.

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Best Carry Out in Destin, Florida

I mentioned earlier this week for our coffee chat that we did not eat out much on our recent trip to the ocean.  Destin is super crowded this time of year and taking a 3 year old out to dinner with the crowds is not fun for anyone.  Kevin worked hard to research really yummy take out options for us and we had tons of good food from the comfort of our condo.  All of the restaurants that I'm going to recommend are very convenient for the East side/Sandestin side of Destin.  So file this post away if you find yourself headed to this same spot in the future!

We always love shopping at the Southern grocery stores like Winn-Dixie and Publix.  They've got such a yummy, beachy assortment of fresh fruit, a million Blue Bell ice cream flavors and key lime things.  Don't forget the beach toys.  So definitely stock up at the local stores for favorite foods because eating in your condo is much cheaper than eating out.

1 // Lost Pizza Co

This is a Mississippi based pizza chain and it was so good that we got pizza from here twice in one week!  We loved both their thin and thick crust pizzas.  It gets busy, so order early.

2 // 98 BBQ

We ordered a big family meal from 98 BBQ.  Their meats were delicious!  The sides were kind of soggy/flavor less and the kids meals were tiny (two chicken nuggets and fries).  So we'd order meat from here again, but would make or buy our own side dishes.

3 // Donut Hole

My FIL loves to go and get donuts for everyone in the morning.  It's a fun surprise to wake up to a box of all of our favorite donuts.  They are so good and are a million times better than grocery store or chain donut store donuts.

4 // Pompano Joe's

This is a hopping place!  Parking is packed so plan to arrive early.  It's the prettiest spot right on the ocean.  They have a busy carry out and you get an amazing view if you grab a table inside.  I had a quick lunch date with my cousin and look at their lunch crab cakes!!  It was so fresh and so good.

5 // Shan Kishi Japanese Steakhouse

This restaurant offers take out hibachi, miso soup, salad and sushi.  It was all so good!  The portions were really generous and we loved all of it leftover.  It all tasted so fresh and looked so delicious that I totally forgot to snap a picture of our dinners.

6 // Jimmy Johns

We all love Jimmy Johns!  We were so thankful to pull up to find a Jimmy Johns near our condo after driving and passing up gas station food for hours.  They have a huge carry out business, but since we were able to snag a table, we decided to stay and eat after spending hours in the car.

 It was a yummy week in Destin!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Vacation Coffee Chat

Hey friends!  If we were on vacation in Destin together, I would have loved to meet you for breakfast at The Donut Hole.  We love their donuts and one day when the kids are older we'd like to try going out for breakfast.  That just doesn't sound fun right now.  I've got lots of vacation topics to chat with you about today.  Grab your iced coffee and let's chat.


1 // Donut Hole Donuts - if you ever find yourself near Destin, Florida, you have got to try these donuts.  We love the angel donuts with the pretty icing on the left.  Kevin loves the white and I prefer the chocolate.  Their glazed are yummy along with their chocolate icing, cake and bavarian cream donuts.  They are all so good.

2 // Mesh Zipper Bags.  You know that I love these bags so much.  I've used them for over a year and they help keep everything from snacks to art supplies to toiletries organized.  This trip I packed a little differently.  I dedicated a bag for each type of toiletry.  A bag of all of our tooth care supplies.  A shower bag.  A make up bag.  A sunscreen bag.  This was much better than trying to do kids bags and adult bags.  I just organized all of it in my toiletry bag and this system worked great.

Here's my Amazon link to these amazing bags!!  The set of 24 is on sale with a coupon you can clip.

3 // One on one time.  Leo requires a lot of attention all of his waking hours these days.  Mostly trying to keep him safe and entertained.  Olive is very understanding, but loves when we can find moments to give her some extra attention.  One evening we went for a walk around the property where we were staying.  We admired the flowers.  Laughed at the tiny palm trees and enjoyed the pastel skies at sunset.  We both agreed that we'd bring our walking shoes on our next vacation and sneak out for walks like this again.

4 // Whataburger.  We'd been eager to try this restaurant for the first time since it was close to our resort.  We got it on our last night and it was a mistake.  Most of us got burgers and Fletcher got a grilled cheese kids meal.  The rest of us felt varying degrees of sick afterwards.  Fletch was fine and he got a cookie with his meal.  Olive and I recovered okay and Kevin had a pretty miserable next day.  We say avoid Whataburger and stick with Freddys or Culvers if you're in the mood for a burger.

5 // If you are vacationing with little ones - plan ahead and eat in the room or on your property as much as you can.  We got groceries to eat breakfast and lunch in the condo and then got take out most nights for dinner.  It was much more relaxing than loading up the crew, waiting for a table at all the busy restaurants and then waiting for food.  None of that sounds fun with little kids in the heat.

6 // If you've got older kids, ask them to snap your picture!  It worked out great :)  Also, rent chairs and umbrellas if you're staying for the week.  It's so nice to just walk down to everything set up instead of having to trek all the way down to find a spot with all of your gear and then having to set it up.  It felt like a real treat to not have to lug all of that down with us each time we went to the ocean.

7 // If you love gummies and Jolly Ranchers, you've got to try this combo.  These gummies were so good.

8 // The key to keeping everyone happy at the ocean is snacks and cold drinks.  We packed cans of lemonade, local beer and ice cold Capri Suns.  Then we did individual bags of Gardettos and Goldfish for the kids.  They work better than full size bags at the beach because they stay fresh and it's not a big deal if someone drops their little snack bag.

We bought these portable beach chairs last year when we flew to Ft Myers for vacation.  They are so comfy and so each to carry.  The kids and adults love them.  We rented beach chairs and brought our set of these chairs for everyone to share.  They fit inside a big suitcase if you're flying and are so easy to travel with on road trips.  This is our second summer using them and they still look brand new! 

9 // I love crab cakes!!  I got these at Pompeno Joes and we also love the crab cakes at Tommy Bahama.  Stay tuned for a Destin Restaurant Round Up post coming soon!

10 // We always try to give ourselves plenty of down time in the condo.  The kid read, played on theri tablets, watched shows, played games and did art.  One evening we all piled in bed and watched a chipmunks movie.  The adults watched Where the Crawdad's Sing and we all loved it!  I'm reading the book now.

11 // We had great luck shopping at the local outlet mall.  We found great new shoes at the Crocs store.  I found the cutest jean jacket at GAP and the kids each picked out a new t-shirt.

12 // Not everything goes as planned on vacation, but we did our best to roll with it.  Let me explain.  We arrived at our hotel halfway to Destin and were surprised to find it under construction.  The halls were a total construction dust mess.  Thankfully the room was okay and it was just for one night.  Leo was up really early so we just got back on the road early.

Kevin got food poisioning from Whataburger and felt awful on our drive home.  I drove us for several hours while he was trying to survive.  The kids were great travelers (even though they sang at the top of their lungs, yelled for foot rubs and had some sketchy bathroom stops along the way).

I misplaced Leo's puddle jumper on our first day in Florida.  Whoops.  I was really bummed because I had just purchased it for this season and he had only worn it a few times.  Lucikly, Kevin found it in the van when we'd run down to grab something on the way to the ocean.  I must have set it down without thinking.

We ended the trip with two days of double red flags (no one allowed in the ocean) and we still had fun.  The waves were wild so we just walked the shore line, found a couple of crabs, built sand castles, lounged and swam in the pools.

Thanks for chatting with me!

Friday, June 23, 2023

Friday Favorites

Hey Friends!  Happy Friday!  I hope you've had a wonderful week.  We hit the ground running with both big kids going to Art Camp every morning this week.  They had a blast and Leo and I enjoyed our mornings together.  We did our usual errands plus some play dates and Bible study with friends.

The best parts of our week were:

1 // Super Chopped Salads

Have you seen the super chopped salads and sandwiches all over social media??  They all look so good.  I decided to try my favorite salad ingredients and super chop them.  It was delicious!!  And so easy to eat.  It would be great to take to work or to eat on the go.  I like to chop 2 at a time - one for that day and one for an easy lunch the next day.

2 // Flowers are thriving

We've been watering our flowers like crazy and my pots are all looking so pretty!  Leo has finally quit picking my flowers and is interested in helping me take care of them.  Hooray!

3 // Garage doors done!

We have been waiting for months and months for our builder to have our garage doors repainted.  They got tons of construction debris on them when the house was being built.  He finally agreed, hired the painters and we are so impressed.  They look brand new!  It has been challenging for us to find workers or repairmen that are really interested in the details.  These painters consulted me to make sure they did everything the right way and ensured me the doors would look perfect when they were done.  They do!

4 // Goobers

These two agreed to do their daily school work only if I'd let them wear their new goggles and nose plugs.  Deal.

5 // Cousin Time

The cousins all got to play together for dinner one night at my parent's house and then again on Father's Day.  Leo always picks to sit by Mimi.

6 // Jordan Bakery Box

It's been a yummy month in the cookie department!  Our house is divided - some love chocolate chip the most and others love the triple chocolate chip the most.  I love both!

7 // Selifies

I love finding surprise selfies on my phone :)

8 // Candy Corn Helper

Leo loves to help me make candy corn for the kids (popcorn with candy sprinkled on top) and delvier it to Olive and Fletcher.  We love watching movies together in the evening.

9 // Bikes Rides

We're still enjoying bike rides around our neighborhood in the evenings despite Leo crashing a few times and skinning his elbow.  Ouchie!

10 // Crochet Class

Olive is taking a cute crochet class with a friend.  She already knows how to crochet so it's a fun activity for her.  I have no clue how to crochet so I was proud of this chain.  I'm mostly just there for moral support.

11 // More eggs!

This is our 3rd robin's nest and set of eggs this season!  They really love the tree line in our backyard.  It's been really fun to watch the egg drama every day and then get to check on the babies.

12 // Wildman Leo

has been making every surface a construction site.

has been putting on his own Crocs.

has been struggling with sleep - 5am wake ups, 6am wake ups and 7 am wake ups, naps and no naps and been extra emotional.  It's hard to be 3.

has been talking up a storm.


13 // Playscapes

We met some friends to play at a local spot this week and had so much fun.  It's an awesome indoor play place with a coffee shop.

Check back next week for some recaps of our trip to Destin!

Have a great weekend!

Linking up with Momfessionals