For those who requested more info about our recent family vacation, here it goes (and you can check out all of our past road trip and vacation posts here). We decided to take our week-long summer vacation in Destin, Florida this year. Since my family wasn’t doing a beach week like usual, and we were already going to be in Atlanta for the Haven conference, it felt like a no brainer to accept the Bowers’ invite to join them for week on the Florida panhandle.
Katie Bower’s husband Jeremy did the hard work of finding a house to rent for the week (finger snaps for him, everybody). Since their extended family rents frequently in the area and finding vacancies can sometimes be tough, they like to keep it as their little family secret – but for anyone looking for a place, we were near Miramar Beach and you can use sites like VRBO.com to hunt something down and read reviews. Our place wasn’t beach-front but we could easily walk to the beach, which was more cost effective than splurging for a beach-front one – plus it even had a little pool. Suffice it to say it was exactly what our rag tag group of four adults, three children, and a chihuahua needed. And how fun are these bunk beds?
If anything, we were most impressed with the outside. There were these great arbors with vines all around them and a nice little courtyard patio to insulate us from the road and the bike path on the other side.
Right beyond the courtyard was a little pool that ended up being our second home, only to the ocean. It wasn’t big enough for hosting swim meets or anything, but it was plenty of room for a few kids, a few adults, and the occasional doll.
In fact, it doubled as a synchronized swimming practice on one particularly odd afternoon (I think the sun was starting to get to us by this point). #claralovedit
But mostly the pool served as a nice place for Clara to practice her kicks and slowly get braver about putting her head under the water. Or at least under the daddy bridge.
But enough about the pool. Let’s talk about the real star of this vacation. THE BEACH.
We’ve vacationed on Florida’s Gulf Coast before, but I don’t remember sand this white or water this clear. And forget clear, the best part about the water was how warm and calm it was. Something I especially appreciate because it meant Clara embraced the ocean more than she ever has before.
The water was so calm after the first few days that we took it as a sign that we should rent stand-up paddleboards (from a place on the beach called La Dolce Vida). We got two (one for each family) and once we got the hang of it ourselves, we took the kids for a bit of a spin too.
The paddleboards were pretty easy to use (thanks calm water!) but I think everyone but Jeremy managed to fall off at some point. I missed catching Katie’s spill on camera by a split second (that’s her in the background of this shot). She’s probably happy about that.
We did realize it was easier to ride the kids around when we adults were either sitting or kneeling. Our balance was much better that way, plus the kids seemed to feel better being closer to us. Heck, Katie even took both of them out at one point.
As fun as the paddleboards were, most of our beach time was spent just playing in the water or building sand castles. But usually around lunch time we’d get the kids fed and then try to squeeze in another activity before their nap times, like going for a spin on the bikes that were provided by our rental house (the trailer carrying Will and Weston is theirs, though).
Clara rode with me on her iBert, which I always love. Our game of choice this time around was guessing what color the collars of dogs that we spotted up ahead on the path would be.
But perhaps the cutest biking couple of the trip goes to these lovebirds. Get a room, ladies.
Speaking of a cute pair, Clara and Will had a great time together. I’m not gonna lie and say it was all pinwheels and skipping (they’re both three, and sharing is not necessarily a mastered skill yet) but it certainly was fun to have another kid on the trip to play with. Though I should say kids, since Clara was pretty enamored with Weston too. And Sherry and I appreciated having other parents there to back us up or at least help us smile through a tantrum.
We did brave eating out a few times (it is vacation after all) and between the recommendations from you guys and the Bowers, there were great eats to be had. My favorite meal was probably at The Red Bar (not shown because the picture came out, well, too red) but Sherry declared her extra spicy shrimp at Stinky’s Fish Camp (bottom left) her favorite.
I also really liked the coconut shrimp lunch I got at Pompano Joe’s one day during a bike ride. It was right on the beach and it kinda made me wish more buildings could get away with a color scheme like this.
A few of you reported having bad weather in Destin the week before we arrived, which made us nervous. But aside from some quick evening thunderstorms we only got one dreary afternoon, which gave us a good excuse to try out some non beach fun – like outlet shopping (for the girls) and go-kart rides (for the dads and big kids). How we didn’t end up with the #7 car I’ll never know.
Like any vacation, the last day came all too quickly. We realized there were all sorts of things we hadn’t gotten to do – like going sea kayaking, hit up thrift shops, and taking some family pictures on the beach. But by some miracle we managed to make all of that happen in the final day. Sherry shared their thrifting adventures yesterday, but sadly there aren’t any photos of Jeremy and I braving the (suddenly quite choppy) seas in our kayaks. But I did get some of Katie doing her pro photographer thing though.
It was just about the perfect evening to end our trip.
It was almost cruel how much it made us not want to leave.
But alas, all good things come to an end. So the next morning we packed up and headed back to Atlanta for a quick overnight at the Bowers before completing the other half of the 14 hour trip the next day. Clara, thank goodness, is actually quite the road trip warrior – thanks mostly to the fact that we’ve done long drives with her since she was four weeks old (our current tips for long rides with a three year old are: lots of books, lots of toys, lots of snacks, and a few iPad games when you get desperate). Somewhere around hour 11 we all started to get a little stir crazy, but we made it home.
So a big thanks again to the Bowers for the invitation and for making it such a fun and memorable trip. After 12 days away from home (thanks to the conference beforehand) we were pretty excited to sleep in our own beds again… and to hit the ground running when it came to projects (dude, we’re demoing something today!).
As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winners, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.
|by Hello||by michelelouise||by DesertDomicile
As many of you guys know if you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, Katie B and I did some thrift store trolling while we were in Destin last week. Which is pretty much a tradition at this point (check out our past adventures here and here). We didn’t have our video camera on hand, but we snapped a junkload of photos for you guys. So without further ado, here are my finds – and you can see Katie’s over on her blog if you’d like.
I’ll lead with my favorites: these amazing woven twin-sized headboards. They were $29 each and I am COMPLETELY regretful that I left without them. Picture them painted white – or even soft blue or bold red. They’re almost quatrefoil-ish in shape (picture the bed going on the bottom to complete the four-things-jutting-out shape), and I lurv-lurv-lurv them. Not only was there no room in the car for them, we have daybeds (two of ‘em) so I just couldn’t convince myself they were meant for our house. In my mind, they’re the ones that got away though. Single tear. I hope someone takes them home and pets them every night.
I thought this wicker based table was kind of cool, and although I wasn’t crazy about the rounded-square glass shape, couldn’t you see it with a large round wood top instead? Maybe all painted charcoal like a pedestal table with extra texture in the base?
These two frames were $2.99 and although they’re looking pretty gilded, I thought with some paint on those frames (white, black, yellow, emerald… anything really) and some new fabric inside of them, they could be really fun for a frame collage (it’s nice to break up a lot of squares and rectangles with a few curvier shapes). The little dudes inside of them could even be fun if they were painted and added back into the mix, but they also could be removed completely so the new fabric could be the star.
This leggy wooden side table was $29, which isn’t cheap but it’s also solid wood so I think it could be sanded down and oiled/stained or even painted (cottage red? crisp white? soft gray?) and used as a bedside table or an end table in a living room. You could even slip a woven basket underneath it for added storage.
There were four of these guys for $19 each I think – and although they look a little bland right now (they remind me of oatmeal) I think some glossy white or black paint on the chair part with a new seat cushion (maybe an ikat or a chic little polka dot?) would completely change them. Here’s another color/fabric idea. And of course there are these. The nice thing about chairs like this is that the seats are so easy to remove, both for easier chair-spray-painting and for a simple staple-gun-upholstery-session.
How cool would this sold wood three-drawer dresser look with a treatment like this or this or this? Just picture it stenciled, stained, hand-painted, or even nail-head studded with new hardware. Me-ow right? Or perhaps you’re more of a wood purist who’d rather forgo those detailed designs? I could also see this stained a rich brown color (or even scrubbed with vinegar and water to weather it a la Restoration Hardware items). Add some cool knobs (I keep picturing bright white faceted ones for some reason) and you’re golden. It was $59, so it wasn’t dirt cheap, but it was solid wood and around the same price of a not-solid-wood dresser from Ikea.
These chairs were $15 each (there were four of them) and I didn’t mind them as-is (the medium wood was nice, and the bold cushions were in good shape) but they’d also be easy to paint/stain and recover for a completely new look. I could see them painted in a soft platinum color with a navy velvet seat. I know. I’m fancy.
This little green light was another find that reminded me of something from Pottery Barn kids, and at $6 it was a lot cheaper. I prefer to buy newer-looking lights secondhand unless I’m going to rewire them (or pay to get them rewired by a pro) since older lamps can have weathered/faulty wiring which can result in scary things like shortages or fires.
There were tons of textile finds as well, which can scare some people, but running them through the wash on high heat or the sanitary setting (even with some bleach if you’re extra nervous) can clean secondhand clothes, sheets, tablecloths, etc. Gotta make Macklemore proud. So I never shy away from the idea of giving them a new home if you see something you love. This high contrast chevron-ish comforter was queen sized and $19. I could even see someone buying it just for the fabric… you could cut it up and make pillows, curtains, roman shades, etc. And it would break down to being around three bucks a yard.
This twin sized Ikea duvet was going for $5.99. Once again it would be awesome to use for the fabric (a little red-heart table runner with matching napkins would be cute for V-day) or you could just toss it on a twin sized bed and call it good.
There were also a lot of lace tablecloths, which I pictured dying for a more modern look. How cool would a blue ombre pattern be? Or even just a solid emerald or plum. You can also use lace as a “stencil” (lay it over an old table and spray paint over it, then remove it to see that cool lace pattern translated onto the table).
This polka dot twin sheet set had me at hello. It reminded me of the sets that places like Pottery Barn and Serena & Lilly sell, and it was 100% cotton (which is always something I look for in sheets). At $7 for the set, I was sold. These babies came home with me and are already on Clara’s daybed. There’s not much the girl loves more than polka dots these days, so she’s just as smitten as I am.
This is just a crazy picture of me displaying my sheet set like Vanna White.
That was $1.99 and very enticing, but somehow I held it together and left him behind. I think my ceramic animal count might be in the double digits, so I thought it best to leave Mister Mallard for someone else.
Oh and don’t forget to check out books at thrift stores! This one was $3.99 and giant (the picture doesn’t do it justice – it was easily 18″ tall).
It had gorgeous color photos that could be cut out/blown up/framed and also would just be pretty on a coffee table or console (either closed with some other books stacked on top, or open to a pretty page. I’d switch the page every week or so, just to keep it spicy. I know you guys, I’m a wild woman.
So there you have it, my thrifty finds. In the end I only popped one tag (those cute polka dot sheets) but the thrill of the hunt is the best part. Plus John would have had my head if I came back with ten bags of stuff to cram into the car for the drive home. #carpackingtyrant
What are you guys hunting for these days? Any thrift store scores going on in your neck of the woods? Do you ever go second-hand hunting on vacation? I’m a fan.