My Mother’s Beauty Bar

One of my favorite things to do when I visit my mom is to raid her bathroom cabinets & counter space. She always has the coolest & most luxurious beauty products. It instantly makes me feel like a 10 years old again. Another confession: I always raid my stepfather’s stash of extra deodorants too (sorry, Mike!). I love the more manly smelling scents, it’s so much better than smelling like tuberose & pineapple. This time I’m completely obsessed with Benefit’s Dear John face cream. I’ve been using it every day since I arrived in Florida, and my face has been drinking it up. That one might “accidentally” find its way into my suitcase. Ssssh, don’t tell my mom!

60 Wonderful Years.

Today is my lovely mama’s 60th birthday. It’s astounding to all of us because we all so clearly remember her 40th birthday (I made her a card that looked like an Oreo because those are her favorite cookies).

For her 60th I wanted to do something extra special since I knew she’d be spending it in Florida, away from her family & friends. The past year has been an especially big & exhausting year–retiring, choosing to spend the bulk of the year in Florida, getting married, and getting custody of my nephew, so I wanted something to make her smile.

Yesterday we got the celebration started early with a spa day of new hair (her first time straightening her hair since her hippie days!), manicures, shopping and a delicious oyster lunch.

But her big present was this morning. Two months ago I asked friends & family to send me their favorite memories & wishes for Barb. I wrote them all in colorfully cards for her to open this morning. These will all go in a photo book accompanied by all the old pictures I’ve been saving.

She was so thrilled. The tears started flowing after the second letter & the process of opening them included lots of tears, tissues & laughs.

I’m so thrilled with how it turned out, and so grateful to her friends & our family for being so thoughtful.

Now we’ll spend the day lazing at the pool, eating a delicious dinner out, and helping them pack for their cruise tomorrow (the Bahamas for 4 days, lucky duckies).

Happy Birthday, Mama. You are the best of the best.

Sweet Sunshine

Despite having absolutely no scheduled activities, the days are passing remarkably quickly thanks to the perfect combination of tropical drinks, sunshine & perfectly warm water.

Birthday Surprise

I have been very busy this week planning a little surprise for my mom’s 60th birthday. I can’t say what it is just yet, but it’s been taking up a bit of time that normally goes towards blogging.

I leave on Monday for just over two weeks in the sun. I cannot wait to celebrate this huge milestone with my little mama.

A Good Weekend

This was one of those weekends where everything worked out perfectly, and yet nothing was planned. At the last minute, my boyfriend and I decided to take a little trip up to New Hope, PA after he finished work on Sunday. We were halfway to the little town, when I said, “Hey! We’re always talking about stopping for a wine tasting at one of the wineries up here, why don’t we do that today?” When deciding which one to visit, I remembered that my mom said that she was pretty sure that relatives on my birth father’s side of the family owned one called Buckingham Valley, so we decided to stop there.

And guess what? Yes, the owners are my relatives. We chatted briefly about the family connection, and we got to sample some of their wines. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating a very late lunch/early dinner in New Hope & visiting the extremely weird stores there (there’s a store there that sells bird cages *and* photos from funerals, no I don’t understand the connection there either). The rest of the weekend was full of relaxing on the back deck, and enjoying some fabulous meals.

Grilled Steak with corn on the cob, baked potato and pea shoots

Breakfast this morning, eggs cooked in a bread bowl topped with cheddar cheese and bacon.

The Woman Who Has Everything

One of my longtime standing jokes with my mom is that she’s just inches away from being featured on an episode of Hoarders. The woman collects *everything*. When we are bored, after my nephew has gone to bed, we sometimes watch the show together, gaping in horror. “I’d just tranquilize you for a few days, and throw everything away,” I tell her reassuringly. She points out that it is probably a good thing I didn’t actually go to med school. So with Mother’s Day swiftly approaching, I find myself in the position I am in every year-what to get the woman who has everything. Adding to the challenge is that my mom’s 60th birthday is May 24th, so I have to double up on presents in a relatively short amount of time. Luckily, I’ve had her birthday gift planned out for quite some time now, so this just leaves Mother’s Day. I’m big on experiences rather than a gift that gets lost in a closet. These are a few of the ideas that I’m contemplating.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Image via RisurfriderI think this would be hysterically fun to do with my mom. The possibilities for making fools of ourselves are endless, but it could end up being really fun & a good adventure. There are a bunch of places near the Florida house that offer half day lessons like the Sarasota Paddleboard Company.

Beach Horses One of my fellow contestants from last summer’s Backyard Gems contest submitted an entry about Sarasota, Florida, and I was intrigued by many of her suggestions–especially horseback riding on the beach. That just seems like the perfect gift to give someone, doesn’t it? I think a Beach Horses adventure might be just the thing for Barb.

Dolphin Watch

If our plans are a bit more family friendly that day, then I might lean more towards a dolphin watch. My little nephew is obsessed with dolphins at the moment, so this would be the perfect family friendly adventure for all of us to do to celebrate the day with my mom. Plus, the Hubbard’s Marina watch includes free wine and beer, so that is definitely an adults-only perk.

I head down to Florida in just about 10 days, I cannot wait!

Little Things

I worked at part time job this weekend. I spent the weekend outdoors, chatting with people & enjoying the opportunity. At the end of the day one of my bosses brought my coworkers and me each a mason jar full of peonies from his farm. How awesome is that?

Summer Nostalgia: Spain

It’s happening, just as I knew it would. I’m incredibly homesick–for travel. This is the first summer in five years that I will not being traveling abroad for the bulk of the summer. I am very excited about staying stateside this summer. I have friends moving out of town, and it would make me very sad not to spend time with them before I go. I get to spend time with my boyfriend instead of scheduling 2am Skype sessions with him.

Still, I’ve been programmed over the past five years to think May=the start of my travels.

When I traveled with Semester at Sea, I did not keep up this blog. Everyone else on the ship did, and I just got exhausted of all the blog talk. Now, of course, I’m kicking myself, wishing I had spent more time preserving the memories of where I ate, the things I saw. Luckily, I have enough pictures to help me fill in the blanks.

That being said, I am traveling this summer, although not for the months at a time like I am used to. I’m heading to Florida for 16 days to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday, and there is a tropical family vacation planned for the end of the summer.

Wizarding World

I confess–I’m one of them. I’m obsessed with Harry Potter. I started reading the books my freshman year of college at the suggestion of my Swedish neighbor, and became completely hooked on the series. While I was never one of those “I must get the book at midnight people.” I was most certainly at the bookstore bright and early the next morning with the intentions of spending the entire day deep within JK Rowling’s fantastic world.

When I went to Florida in April, my boyfriend was kind enough to indulge my love of Harry Potter with a trip to Universal Studios’ Island of Adventure.

It was pretty much a dream for someone who loves the books.

For more than a few minutes, I completely forgot I was in Florida.

Maxi

I was obsessed with the idea of maxi dresses last year. I loved the look, but sadly, every dress I tried on did not love my barely 5’5 frame. I looked either engulfed by the dress or like I was trying to become Morticia Adams, when semi-helpful stylists tried to put me in black maxi dresses. I figured it a trend for tall girls only. However, I began to see short girls on the street, and shorter bloggers rocking the maxi dress, and so I doubled my effort this year to find the right one for me. I lucked out by finding a beautiful navy blue one at Anthropologie that just worked for me. I discovered the perfect combination for me is a semi form fitting dress, in a not-so-severe color plus heels. Big jewelry (for me it was a gold belt, my new gold watch & a chunky necklace) broke up the solid color of the dress nicely. I’m so excited to wear this look this summer.