Breckenridge for a Florida family of Seven!

As our kids are getting older, and time together to make memories is becoming few and far between, we decided to take a big family trip to Breckenridge, Colorado in March 2017.
This was a huge deal!  Mostly because we are a family of SEVEN – and traveling gets expensive for us!  First and foremost I will say this:  We would not have been able to take our family on this trip if it hadn’t been for the “miles and points” we accumulated over a long period of time!  Just about 50% of our expenses were covered because of those miles and points.  Score!

This was Ethan’s first plane ride and his excitement shows!!  We flew into Denver and stayed the night before we headed to Breck.  We also stayed the night before our flight back to Pensacola at the end of our trip.  I recommend this 100%!  It gives you the opportunity to enjoy a full day instead of cutting things short.

After a two hour shuttle ride across the Continental Divide and some amazing scenery we arrived in Breckenridge!

The snow was beautiful and captivating, the kids had such a good time playing in it I could hardly get their attention for this picture.  Poor Ethan is soaked from being bombarded with snowballs from the older brothers.

We checked into the Grand Timber Lodge, dropped our bags and headed to the town to find some lunch.  We chose Grand Timber because of its location to the Town and to the nearest lift area, Beaver Run at Peak 9.  Grand Timber is listed as a “ski-in/ski-out” lodge.  In certain areas of the resort I could see an experienced skier taking advantage of this.  For snowboarders, definitely…. new skiers – leave your skis at the rental shop and take the path to the sidewalk.  Otherwise you’re carrying your skis for a 5-10 minute walk…. in ski boots.  You can always wait for the free shuttle.   For a large family who’s condo is already full of everyone’s ski jackets, etc…. leave skis at the rental shop for sure!


I prefered walking to see the sights… I didn’t realize how much downhill walking we would encounter!  Definitely taking the free shuttle back to the Lodge.

The Town of Breckenridge is adorable!  It’s buzzing with life.  Restaurants and shops line every block of this circa 1800’s Victorian village.  We settled in at a burger place and plotted our next move, Ski Rental and grocery shopping!!

img_6493 We planned to cook breakfast every morning and 3 dinners, lunch would be found on the mountain – expensive, yes but we balanced it by not going out for every meal.  We bought snacks and drinks that could easily travel on the mountain.

Kids went back to lodge and we hit the grocery and wine store.  I love that you can call the shuttle to pick you up from the store.   Carrying all that crap to the room was a huge challenge.  A luggage cart would have been a good idea but none could be found.


While we fixed dinner, the kids went exploring.

A snow man was the priority for these Florida kiddos.   Just look at the eyelashes!  So cute!

A shoe was lost during this adventure…… seriously!  I wonder how many shoes they find on the property when the snow melts – haha



Look at that view!!


The next morning we suited up and ventured out around 9AM. With just a short walk to the Beaver Run Resort area, picked up our equipment and were on the lift in no time.

We made a plan up Peak 9, after dropping 3 of the boys at snowboarding school,  had lunch mountain side and made our way back around 3PM to meet up with the kids finishing up their lessons.


Ethan was stoked!!   We was ready to tackle the mountain!   So ready in fact that he jumped on the BIG lift BY HIMSELF!  The plan was that he was supposed to get on the shorter lift and I would wait for him at the base.  This is NOT what happened.   I was kinda freaking out.  Thankfully Scott was able to hop on the lift within seconds of the last run.  (The lifts close at 4PM)

Waiting for them seemed like an eternity.  Finally they arrived together.  Whew!!  We had a serious talk about NOT going by yourself and I got the typical “I’m fine, mom!” with the accompanying eye-rolling tweens do so well.  ugh.

The evening was relaxing and we talked about day #2 Plan and navigating to Peak 8!  Maybe you remember this clip….. a snowboarder filmed a moose running behind her!! It went viral a week before our trip.  So amazing!  Would we be on the same run with a moose?!?!?!

The next morning we lost two of he kids.   Not really “lost them” but one decided snowboarding wasn’t for him and Ethan fell and hurt his wrist… on the first run.  Poor guy.  We walked down to the base and after assessing his wrist he decided to walk back to the room and hang out with his older brother for the day…. another great reason we chose a the nearby lodge.

Onward and upward for the remaining 5 ……


If you’ve been in the snow, you know that sound….. It brings back great memories of gliding down the mountain.   Ahhhh.

The next two days went pretty much the same.  Planning our trek up, lunch stop, back up, final stop.  Peak 7 was probably our favorite.  You have to do some serious planning to get there.  but absolutely worth it!



On our last day we let the kids sleep in while we went in search of the best Bloody Mary in Breckenridge!  We found it, along with the famous Crepe a la Cart food truck…. yum!

Best Bloody Mary award goes to:


Angels Hollow!  A Bloody with so many extras they give you a plate.  I heard about this work of art libation online.  The description read “…topped with an army man because they couldn’t add a kitchen sink”,  I concur!  Time to head back up to the Lodge to collect the kids and pack up.  We had time for lunch and a little shopping before our shuttle to Denver arrived.


Our 2017 Breckenridge memories will last forever!!

What BIG trips have you been on lately?  Will you go back or try somewhere new?


It’s Soup Day!

Butternut Squash Soup

Since it’s been super cold we have been pulling out all our favorite soup recipes. One of the easiest and my most favorite is the Butternut Squash Soup.

Pan of yum!

With any further blah, blah, blah here’s the recipe:


One package cubed butternut squash (found in the produce section)
2 cups baby carrots
3 stalks celery chopped
One small onion chopped
4 garlic cloves smashed and roughly chopped
2 TB Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh Rosemary
2 TB Thyme
2 TB Rubbed Sage
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (reduce if you’d prefer a little less spicy)
4 cups Vegetable Stock or chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Place all chopped vegetables on baking sheet and drizzle with Olive oil. Sprinkle spices over veggies including salt & pepper and gently stir to coat. Top with 3 sprigs of rosemary. Roast for 1 hour.
Remove veggies and place in a large pot, add half the broth and puree until smooth with an immersion blender. (Be careful not to scratch your pot or get splattered!)  You can also use a food processor following the same method. Add remaining broth and heat over medium high. Serve immediately or let cool and freeze. I like to top mine with a little sprig of Rosemary.

This recipe takes about 1.5 hours from start to finish and makes about 6 servings.

I have altered the original recipe a bit since I made it the first time over a year ago. It’s super easy and mostly everything can be prepared ahead of time.


Roasted Cauli & Dipping Sauce

If you caught my Instagram Live’s you got to see this delicious beauty during the prep & cook process.

Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce ….. just like the one at Domenica we drooled over last month!!

Here’s the recipe we followed.  It’s a little time consuming but totally worth it!

Let me know if you like it!  Enjoy!!!

Live stress free, financially

As we skate into the new year we contemplate how to make our life better, less stressful, more enjoyable.   Eventually, in my opinion, this all rolls into one word – MONEY.  No matter what changes you make in your life you WILL spend some amount of money.  Unless of course you decide to drop everything, pack your bags, walk away from it all and find a community that works only from trade – if you desire that lifestyle and succeed, good for you!  The rest of us will be over here trying to become less stressed over finances.

I hear over and over that money is the main cause of stress in life.  I do not have all the answers on how to manage money.  I do not know a damn thing about investing or the “market”.  I only know this….. you cannot move forward until you know where you are.

Here are some money managing tips that have worked very well for me over the years…   In random order.

Know your financial responsibilities:  Write EVERYTHING you spend on a sheet of paper.  Go through your bank statement, write down every recurring bill.  Utilities, rent, car pymt, loan payments, credit card payments, insurance, cell phone, daycare, tuition, gym membership, jelly of the month membership, etc.  Write down the minimum payment amount and the due date (this will help you later).  For utilities, jot down the average amount keeping in mind this amount will fluctuate over the seasons.  Total up your grocery spending,  gas station visits, bus fare, Uber fare, etc.  Finally total up your eating out, personal shopping, personal care and anything else you spend on a normal basis.  Compare all these totals to what you bring home in a month’s time.  If you receive tips or commission possibly you can look back to see how your income can fluctuate and make an estimated guess from past history.

Budget: Now that you are aware of your expenses, your financial obligations and what you might be able to live without… create a budget. and have some awesome articles and tips on how to create and stick to a budget.  CHECK THEM OUT!  It’s an eye opener.

Credit cards and Debt:  Do you know what the APR is on your credit card balances and or loans? Some cards can charge over 20%.  I’ll direct you back to and to learn more about these charges.  What you read may help you decide that no matter what your balance is, skimming by making the minimum payment each month is a big NO-NO!  With that said, credit cards are not the devil – they can be if their powers are abused, though.   If you are responsible and can pay off your balance each month, they may be rewarding in the long run.

Pay yourself:  SAVE, SAVE, SAVE  Whether its $100 a month or $5 a week, just save something!  Keep track of your savings balance.  As you watch it grow, it might be harder to spend it.  Set a goal like this: “I’d like to save $200 in 6 months….. see if you can do it and adjust from there.

Give yourself a break:  Taking control of your finances is serious “adulting”.  It takes a TON of self control and discipline to keep it in check.  Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake – like forgetting to pay the power bill – yikes!  Just be prepared to get back on track as soon as you can.

*The opinions and  recommendation of and Dave Ramsey mentioned in this article are 100% uniquely mine.  I have not been compensated in any way and links provided are not affiliate.

What I packed for our December trip to NOLA with possible snow!


Planning for a weekend in New Orleans with snow in the forecast means one thing.

It’s going to be COLD!!

Here’s a few of the things I packed that I kept reaching for during our weekend getaway.

I have a heavy-ier weight jacket that isn’t shown because I’ve had it for so long, it’s not available anymore and frankly it’s falling apart.

We also packed an umbrella and a scarf or two.  Hope this helps you plan a weekend trip 🙂

Similar Vest





Similar Wrap Sweater

Similar Long Sleeve Shirt


Cat Eye Sunglasses

1. State Black Suede Booties

Zella Live in

Zella Leggings




All Weather Boots

December in New Orleans – Part 3 – Brennan’s, Jackson’s Sq, and Napoleon

The next morning was warmer but still chilly, I think I pretty much wore the same outfit each day, haha.  Thank goodness for the boots I found at Target!!   More on what I packed for our trip here.

We packed up and had the front desk hold our bags…… we had important business to take care of…..  BRUNCH!!!   If there was a secondary experience in New Orleans that we look forward to it’s a fantastic New Orleans style Jazz Brunch.   Brennan’s was highly recommended by the concierge (who made a reservation for us on the spot) and BAM, we were on our way.

Our table was waiting on us when we arrived but we decided to sit at the bar for just a few minutes and order a Bloody Mary.   We had a few appetizers and a delicious breakfast.  The table next to us ordered the famous Bananas Foster.  There’s not many things you can compare to flaming brandy within 3 feet of your face!  Think Hibachi table flame – okay? Okay.

Brunch was just sooooo dang good.  I love the smaller portions and the fact they have a brunch appetizer menu.  Once again the service was impeccable.  In fact just about every where we ate or drank, haha, the service was 100%.

The couple next to us lived in the City, I was instantly jealous.   What a great place to live!  To have the option to experience all that NOLA has to offer at any time you feel like it was really exciting to me.  I was thinking to myself, if only we had one more full day.

From Brennan’s’ we walked towards Jackson Square.  The square is lively enough for entertainment on any day but I still had The List and we still had two hours!

Time to get in a museum!
The Cabildo is a Louisiana State Museum that originates back to the late 1700’s.  So much history has taken place in this building including the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremony.  Among the hundreds of artifacts that call this museum home, the relic that I wanted to see……. Napoleon’s Death Mask!!  Yep, it’s there.   Oddly enough Scott and I kept losing each other!  This building is 3 stories with each floor mostly open concept but we both got so engrossed in the information and artifacts displayed we got seperated.  Make the grand staircase your home base if you get lost -mkay?

Keeping with the Napoleon trend, we ventured to the Napoleon House in the midst of the French Quarter.  Their signature drink is guess what? A Pimm’s Cup – haha   Yep, I needed to compare it to the others I had consumed.   It was good – a little different, but good.   We ordered a Shrimp salad Avocado knowing this was our last stop.

The List was 35% complete but I felt like we were able to experience enough of NOLA and I was satisfied.  As always, its a learning curve and the main reason I like to repeatedly visit places we have been to before.   Until next time New Orleans!!!!

December in New Orleans – Part 2 – Cemeteries, Tree of Life and Black Sludge


The Cafe au Lait…… I wish I knew exactly what magic is performed to create such a perfect cup of coffee.  Trust me, I’ve tried but nothing compares to the cup of goodness you’ll find in New Orleans.

On Day#2 of our weekend getaway, this was our breakfast.  Since our first day was compromised by crazy weather, “The List” was still hanging around with so much still needing to be accomplished.

St Charles

The St Charles streetcar travels in a continuous loop from Canal Street to just west of Audubon Park on St Charles Ave – hence the name.  For $3 you can hop on and off as many times as you like in a 24 hour period.  By your tickets from the driver and your all set!

We pulled on our most comfortable cold weather attire and headed out the door to catch the St Charles.  Our first stop was the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District.

*side note* The Garden District deserves it’s own post.  I will elaborate on this extraordinary historical place some other time.  It is magnificent!

At the corner of Washington & Prytania, we stopped for a coffee and another muffin at a cute little cafe.  I could see the entrance to the cemetery and was super excited!

Cemeteries are beautiful.  Some may find them depressing and I understand why.  Some see death, I see history and family legacies.  The New Orleans cemeteries have been on my bucket list for a long time.  Some of the  people buried here were born in the 1700’s.


The only pictures I took was of the outside wall, which is actually comprised of individual vaults.  I wanted to take more photos but I decided to be present in the moment and take it all in.

And then, let’s take a selfie!












Next stop: The Tree of Life!  Planted in the early 1700’s this beauty has been through it all.  Hurricanes, vandalism, lightning, etc.  The sprawling branches reach out so far they actually touch the ground and begin reaching up towards the sky.


We hopped back on the St Charles and rode to the Audubon Park.  It was a sunny day but chilly, and we had a 15 block walk ahead of us.  The Audubon Park is comprised of a golf course, public park, the Great Audubon Oaks and the Audubon Zoo.

Check it out online.  It’s beautiful!

Not knowing exactly where it was located we asked for guidance from a few folks and to my surprise we were the only ones (at the time) appreciating this enormous oak.


By now our ‘dogs were barkin’, slang for my feet hurt – haha.  Thankfully we were close to Magazine Street and most importantly the Magazine Street bus – yipee!!  Another one of the free bus lines in the city, check!

Magazine Street was on The List, along with a few retail stores, pubs and restaurants.  We didn’t go to any of them, though.  I was too tired!  A cute alfresco mexican cafe sparked our palettes and we had quite possibly the best nachos in the world.  If only I could remember the name… whoops.  I was tired, hungry and ready for a beer.  Sometimes you just don’t know how far you’ll end up walking.

We arrived back at the Roosevelt in time for a nap before dinner.  I don’t actually nap but it was awesome to get in the cozy robe and relax for a while – so totally awesome.  My thoughts on completing The List were dwindling.

Something out of a horror movie occured while I was getting ready.  We had heard all sorts of banging and mysterious noises for around 20 or 30 minutes.  I mentioned to Scott maybe we should call the front desk but we kinda brushed it off to possible maintenance in a room nearby.  As I walked back into the bathroom from that quick convo, I heard a weird SWOOSH noticed the sink had filed with a black sludge….  Similar to something you’d see in one of the super creepy movies I refuse to watch!  It was horrific!!  We immediately called the front desk and I removed all my belongings from the bathroom.  In two minutes time the black sludge had completely filled the sink and was spilling out onto the marble floor, creeping out of the bathroom towards the closet and carpet.  I called the front desk again to inform them these guys better hurry up!!  She assured me that we would not be staying in this room!

The maintenance crew arrived with the largest wet-vac I have ever seen and began to slurp up the gunk.  By now I had changed out of my cozy robe and we had packed up everything!  The Hotel staff immediately moved us to another room.  Turns out maintenance was working on a clog in the room above us.  For whatever reason it caused an overflow into OUR ROOM!!  I can’t imagine what would have happened if we would not have been in the room at that moment.  Basically I can…… EVERYTHING would had been ruined!!!  Our luggage, shoes, my makeup, anything on the floor.. oh my goodness.  We settled into our new room and basically didn’t miss a beat.  I still got ready in time for us to get to Arnaud’s French 75 Bar for a before dinner Pimm’s Cup!  Winning!

Our table at GW Fins was in the perfect location.  A booth in the back of the dining room a little above the main floor.   Dinner was divine as usual! You MUST try the Scalibut Entree, trust me.   Dessert was delicious!!   *Tip: I made our reservation 6 weeks in advance.  I know that sounds crazy but you never know what’s happening in New Orleans.  Weddings, celebrations, sports games, conferences, etc……. the restaurant was packed.  Reservations are ALWAYS a good idea when in NOLA.  IMG_8691.jpgIMG_8692.jpg

We ventured onto Bourbon Street after dinner just for kicks.  Not my favorite street in NOLA but what the heck.  At this time, the city was replacing drainage pipes on Bourbon a few blocks at a time.  This made the typical “stroll along the street” impossible.  We were constantly shuffling around people on the even-smaller sidewalk area.   Since we had such a long day and had to change rooms do to that nasty plumbing issue we decided to call it a night.  We stopped by one of the little bars in the hotel and grabbed a night cap to take up to the room.

Saturday night in New Orleans and we are in bed at 1030pm.   Who would have thought?!  The List still had a ton of things we had not crossed off, unfortunately.  We still had most of Sunday, thankfully 🙂

I’ll end this post of Day 2 here.  Be sure to check out Day 1 and Day 3!  And please like or comment below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on New Orleans and places you can recommend for our next visit.


Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog!!





December, New Orleans and SNOW! Part 1

Loooong post here…… grab a glass of wine or a bag of chips and sit back.

Ahhh New Orleans!   My year is never complete with out a weekend in NOLA.  The lights, the feels, the music and SNOW???!!!   Yep, this year we experienced something in New Orleans for the first time…. SNOW!!!!  Crazy, I know but yeah… it snowed on us, more on that in a minute.

The Roosevelt is our home away from home.  It is one of the most well known beautifully decorated lobbies during the holiday season.  If you are not familiar with The Roosevelt Hotel here’s an article filled with history and facts.  And just looooook at the lobby:


The Roosevelt Hotel Holiday Decor – Photo from VIE Magazine

I mean, seriously.  It’s a twinkle light wonderland!  But that’s not the only reason we stay in this historic hotel.  It’s charm, service, amenities and central location on Canal Street make it the perfect home base for our itinerary.

Itinerary?  Yes ma’am!  I start a few weeks out jotting down everything I’d like to do or see.  Hubby knows to just play along, haha.  This will be referred to as “The List” for the remainder of this post.    3 days and 2 nights in NOLA just isn’t enough time.  I know that sounds crazy but it’s just not.  With so many different parts of the city and so many different feels it’s nearly impossible to fit it into 3 days.  Add freezing cold rain/sleet/snow and you lose precious time.  Oh the agony!

Friday morning we throw our bags in the car and head west.  Leaving from Pensacola it’s about a 3 hour drive.  It’s super cold and we know snow is in the forecast.  About 30 minutes outside of New Orleans all of a sudden the sleet turns to fluffy white snow flurries!  It was so beautiful!  We pulled over to gt some pictures.

Can you believe that?  I realize to a person who lives in an area where snow is a normal phenomenon this is not technically snow, however, this is the closest thing to snow I’ve seen since our trip to Breckenridge this past March.

We arrived at the hotel, checked in and headed straight to the first place on The List – ACME Oyster House on Iberville for some world famous Flamed Grilled Oysters.  What could be better on a freezing cold, dreary day?

One thing about the restaurants in New Orleans, if there’s a line, you better believe its worth the wait.  Yes, there was a line, at 1:00 in the afternoon, in the freezing cold rainy weather, we waited outside for about 20 minutes.   We were seated at the bar right next to the door – every time the door opened cold air rushed in, ugh – but you know the saying ‘things happen for a reason’ – check this out…..

The oyster shuckers at ACME have been working there for ever, and I mean for EVER.  These guys arent’ the typical restaurant workers who show up and get paid and go home.  These guys are professionals that travel all over the country to shuck oysters at events like The Master’s and other highfalutin’ shin digs.  Our spot at the bar was in front of Master Shucker Stormin’ Norman.  He has been shucking oysters for 30+ years.  We started talking with him regarding a Masters chef coat displayed on the wall behind him.  He said ‘yup, that’s my jacket but it will be his soon’ pointing to the shucker next to him.  Before you knew it he pulled out his cell phone and started scrolling through pictures of events in Washington DC, New York City, Las Vegas, etc.  It was amazing and he was super proud.   I kept thinking of the line in Forest Gump where he said “I liked to run but I never thought it would get me anywhere”  Who knew shucking oysters would take Stormin Norman to the places he has been?  It’s remarkable.

I look forward to our next visit at ACME.  And I hope we get the same bar spot right in front of Stormin Norman!  If you’d like to find out more about Norman and ACME, check out this article from Life and Thyme.

Since it was still freezing and raining, we decided to forgo our plans on The List and stop in The Hotel Monteleone on Royal.  It is another must while in NOLA.  Check out The Carousel Bar and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a seat.

The Carousel Bar

NOLA Necessities

We were not so lucky since everyone and their brother had the same itinerary but luckily we were able to find a cozy spot in a corner and order a beverage.  The Pimm’s Cup is by far the most delicious beverage aside from the Old Fashioned.  I’ll add that this Pimm’s Cup was the best one I had on our stay.

From here we decided to get back to the hotel and unpack.  But while in Rome…. we made a pit stop in The Saint Hotel.


If you know me you know I love a good Rose.  To my surprise we discovered Meiomi Rose!!  I mean what the what!  It was meant to be, haha.  The Saint is a really cool boutique hotel covered in velvet and swanky patterns.  The women’s bathroom is wall to wall mirrors…… lots of selfie taking opportunities for patrons 🙂   Needless to say we had a great time chatting with the bartender and discovering the evening entertainment was a burlesque show *insert big eye emoji*

The hubs on his velvet throne

Time for dinner!!!!   Inside the Roosevelt is the most yummiest pizza place, Domenica.  We ordered a pizza, of course and the roasted cauliflower…… totally the bomb!!  Then we headed back over to the Saint for the burlesque show, ha.  Like I said, while in Rome!  It was very classy and tasteful if that’s not an oxymoron.

Being the old people we are, we hit the sack at midnight.  Whew.  What a day!  The only thing on The List we accomplished was ACME.  As I was falling asleep in that big comfy bed I told Scott, “BIG plans for tomorrow – you’d better be ready!”