Category Archives: Life in Northwest Florida

{TWO Fabulous} Minnie Mouse 2nd Birthday Party

In the blink of an eye… Claire is TWO!

Claire loves Minnie Mouse, so we celebrated her second birthday with a small Minnie Mouse-themed birthday party at our house.

Can I eat one now?

Last year, for her fabulous flamingo first birthday party, we made most of the decorations. This year, I ordered the main things off of Etsy! It was so much less overwhelming, and came out super cute!

The “Happy Birthday” banner came from Etsy, although apparently the store I got it from no longer exists. I love that it has the Disney font, and the colors were perfect.


I also got Claire’s super cute, personalized shirt from Etsy. It came from a different store but matched perfectly with her banner and the cups (I didn’t get a good picture of those) that I ordered.

This party was so much fun to plan. Since we had it at our house (and Claire is only 2…) we wanted to keep it small and invited family and a couple of friends. But that didn’t stop me from having fun with the food!

Pinterest has a ton of great ideas for kids’ birthday parties (like I needed another reason to devote all my time to scrolling through pins), so I found a bunch of ideas and saved them to a Minnie Mouse birthday party board. The food was pretty simple, but it was a hit! {I got the designs for the food place cards off Etsy too!}

Donald's Donut Holes

Donald’s Donut Holes were devoured. I got up at 6:00 that Saturday morning to go to a local donut shop for those.

Goofy's Goldfish

Goofy’s Goldfish were almost all gone. Claire loves gold fish. I got the multi-colored version to make it extra special.

Daisy's Garden Veggies

Daisy’s Garden Veggies were delicious … it was just some carrots, celery, broccoli and cucumbers that I got fresh from Publix. With ranch dressing of course!

Figaro's Fancy Fruit

And Figaro’s Fancy Fruit added some more healthy bites to the spread.

Clubhouse Chicken Nuggets

Clubhouse Chicken Nuggets were clearly craved, as not one was left! The chicken nuggets and fruit came from Chick-fil-a (duh).

Mickey's Mac & Cheese

And, of course, we had to have Mickey’s Mac & Cheese, as that is Claire’s favorite food.

Tickle Me Pink Lemonade

We washed it all down with Tickle Me Pink punch. This was raspberry lemonade from Publix.

Oreos - aka Minnie ears

For those of us with a sweet tooth, we had some oreos. But the star of the show was…

Minnie's Amazing Cupcakes

Minnie’s Amazing Cupcakes! Baked by moi, but decorated with the help of a talented friend.

Claire and everyone had a great time swimming in the pool, eating the yummy food … and opening presents, of course!


Then, it was time to eat cupcakes!

This is fun!

All in all, a great birthday party for a great little girl.



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Filed under Baby, Life in Northwest Florida, parenting

Five Years {Lyndsi + David Wedding Anniversary}

October 1, 2015 marked five years of marriage for David and me.

Five years. That’s 60 months; 1,826 days.

David’s anniversary gift to me perfectly depicts our journey together. {The traditional gift for the 5-year anniversary is wood; I gave David a bookcase.}

IMG_0074 We have a long way to go, but we’ve come a long way.

In the mean time, we’re just trying to enjoy life!

We definitely enjoyed our anniversary dinner cruise on board the Solaris!

Dinner was served in the dining room… IMG_0066 His dinner: Crab cakes. IMG_0061Her dinner: Filet mignon, well done. IMG_0061We also got outside and enjoyed the quiet deck. IMG_0068And of course our dessert! IMG_0063

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30 Days of Thanks: November 9, 2013

Today, I’m thankful for fall days. 

We spent our afternoon at the Flutterby Festival in Rosemary Beach. Some of my students from 30A Ballet performed there. It was a beautiful day — perfect temperature and sunny — in a beautiful place.

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25 Candles (UPDATED)


David + Charlie + Cafe Tango + cookie cake = perfect birthday.

So after I wrote this, I was very surprised by a surprise birthday party my husband planned. I still can’t believe he did this for me! I’m so happy I got to see everyone who came!

My birthday week concluded with a great dinner at Carrabba’s (my favorite) with my in-laws. It was a great week full of birthday love!

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Happy Fourth of July!

And now I present our day in pictures:

Bottomless coffee at Grayt Coffee House + a view of the Grayton Fourth of July “parade.” {not pictured: bacon + cheddar frittata and a homemade biscuit with strawberry jelly}

Love sales.

Festive froyo at 32 Degrees

Lunch: Pulled pork BBQ salad for me; beef brisket sandwich with creamed corn nuggets for him.

John Adams HBO series marathon

Lean beef cheeseburger with edamame

Homemade blueberry oat crumble bars {recipe via How Sweet It Is}

And, of course, Charlie

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Finest on the Emerald Coast 2012

The winners of the second annual “Finest on the Emerald Coast” competition — a Northwest Florida Daily News readers’ choice event — were announced recently. Local businesses, ranging from Automotive to Beauty to Food & Beverage to Shopping, were honored for being the finest in a certain category. While I agree with most of this year’s winners, I wanted to put together my own list of places that David and I consider the finest in our hometown area.

The Emerald Coast encompasses many communities, from Pensacola to Panama City (which are about two hours or more apart). It includes Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach and 30A.

David and I spend most of our time in Destin or South Walton, since we live in South Walton. Here are a few of our favorite places where we spend all most of our free time.

Arts Center: Mattie Kelly Arts Center {Niceville}
Mattie Kelly, which is on the Northwest Florida State College campus in Niceville, hosts great Broadway shows and amazing productions put on by the college (don’t miss this year’s summer musical, “The Wiz” — coming in July!). My mom took me to see “Cats” when I was little, and David and I saw “My Fair Lady” last fall for our one-year anniversary.

BBQ: 98 Bar-B-Que and Barefoot BBQ {Santa Rosa Beach + 30A}
David loves 98 BBQ, which is located on Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach. I prefer Barefoot BBQ, which is a food truck parked on 30A. Both are good and will fulfill your craving for smoked meats with good sauce.

(image via the Barefoot BBQ Facebook page)

Beach: Beaches of South Walton {South Walton}
There are 15 beach communities, but we go to Grayton Beach. When I was younger and lived in Fort Walton, I went to Okaloosa Island, but it’s crowded and tourist-y. The Beaches of South Walton attract tourists, but they are much more serene. But no matter which beach you go to, you are sure to enjoy the white sand and emerald waters.

view from Fish out of Water

Breakfast/Brunch: Another Broken Egg {Destin + 30A}
There are four locations –one in Destin, one in Baytowne, one inside the Linkside Conference Center
and one in Santa Rosa Beach. I typically order the Madison, and I’m always amazed at the freshness of the ingredients and how the croissant never gets soggy. All of the locations are small, and there are long waits during the peak season, but it’s worth it.

Church: Destiny Worship Center {Miramar Beach}
We’re thankful that God planted us at DWC. Pastor Steve always delivers a message with real-life applicability, the worship is great and they always have some kind of outreach going on. Whether you live here or you’re just around for a weekend, I hope you’ll come to one of DWC’s three services (Saturday at 6:33 pm, Sunday at 9 AM and Sunday at 10:45 AM).

Diner: The Donut Hole {Destin + Santa Rosa Beach}
Great breakfast and lunch/dinner menu available at its Santa Rosa Beach and Destin locations, and it’s open late (the Destin location is open 24 hours during the summer). Seat yourself and enjoy big breakfast platters (served all day) or delicious sandwiches. And don’t leave without grabbing some donuts or other sweets from the bakery.

Fine Dining: Cafe Tango {30A}
This is our go-to restaurant for special occasions. We went there on Valentine’s Day this year, and we’re just waiting for another reason to indulge in their bread with asiago cheese-olive oil dip, homemade pasta and fresh seafood.

Grocery Store: The Fresh Market {Destin}
There’s a reason we go to TFM every single Sunday. It has the best selection of fresh produce, and it has a real meat counter! We also love the prepared foods section (especially the margherita pizza), and the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

Hotel: Emerald Grande {Destin}
We had our wedding reception here, and we absolutely loved staying there. It has a great view, clean and comfortable rooms, and is located near a lot of Destin staples, like AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar and McGuire’s Irish Pub.

Ice Cream/ Frozen Yogurt: 32 Degrees {Miramar Beach}
Conveniently located at Silver Sands, it’s the best froyo spot in the area — until Menchie’s opens in Panama City Beach…

Movie Theater: Rave Motion Pictures {Destin}
Located in Destin Commons, I’ve been going to the Rave since it opened when I was in high school. While we prefer AMC theaters, there aren’t any around here, but the Rave comes close. It has comfortable seats and an IMAX theater. Now if only there were some good movies out…

Pizza: Pizza by the Sea {30A}
I’ve written about it twice, and we go there almost once a week. Yes, it’s that good — and I usually prefer thick crust pizza. The only downside is that the restaurant is small with very limited seating. Get there early! They also have the best lunch special on 30A — you can get a giant slice of pizza (which is more like 2 slices) with a side salad, baked spaghetti or a bowl of soup, plus a drink for only $6.99.

Image via the PBTS Facebook page

Shopping: Silver Sands Factory Stores {Miramar Beach}

It’s the nation’s largest designer outlet mall. I could spend every single weekend there (and we, um, kind of do), browsing through the more than 100 stores that offer big discounts on designer brands. Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic, the new Columbia outlet, Coach and Bose are just a few of the stores in the outdoor mall.

Wings: Buffalos’ Reef {Fort Walton Beach}

They have traditional and boneless wings with a variety of sauces — from the traditional mild, medium and hot to honey barbecue and garlic parmesan. They also have the best fries around, and I think their Parrot Burger is the best burger I’ve ever eaten.

So there you have it. These are are our go-to places, and I hope you’ll give them a try if you haven’t already.

What are your favorite places on Florida’s Emerald Coast?

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New menu items at Pizza by the Sea!

It’s no secret that we love Pizza by the Sea (David is the mayor of PBTS on foursquare). We go there almost once a week, and we usually order a plain ol’ cheese pizza. Not because we’re boring, but because it’s just so good. The cheese, the sauce and the crust — mmm… I want some now!

But PBTS had to change things up on us by adding some delicious-looking new items to the menu last week. The new options range from appetizers like caprese bread, to YUM bowls (essentially pizza in a bowl), to dessert pizza. All of it makes my mouth water.

So yesterday we branched out and tried their new caprese bread. It’s a good thing PBTS’s tagline is YUM! because it was delicious. The creamy mozzarella, fresh basil and juicy tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette was good on its own.

Combine that with the chewy, herby bread and it was amazing. The only downside is that the bread was cut into narrow strips, which made it hard to scoop up the delicious tomato/mozzarella/basil mixture, but the owner did tell us they are planning to change the way they cut the bread to make it easier to eat.

When we ordered, I asked the cashier what the most popular new menu item is, and he told me it’s the buffalo bread. We’ll be back to try that out soon! I also have my eye on their dessert pizza.

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Filed under Life in Northwest Florida, restaurant reviews