One Year Alcohol-Free

If you knew me prior to December 22, 2021 than you know that I loved a good craft cocktail. I love a dark bar, trying a new restaurant, experiencing all the things Atlanta and other cities have to offer. At the beginning of quarantine in March 2020, I was dating a beverage director and for two months all we did was eat and drink. We’d make fabulous recipes and start drinking at 11am most days. I wrote blog posts on how to stock your home bar, shared my favorite cocktail recipes, and my Instagram has always been full of the best local spots for a well-crafted cocktail. I’m jumping head. Let’s first get to my backstory.

I had never been a big drinker and I never really considered myself one even after I gave it up. I was never exposed to good liquor, proper ratios and people who knew what they were doing. It was typically beer, white wine, champagne and rosé. Those being my only options, I never really cared too much for drinking. When my ex-husband and I got divorced in May 2019 and I eventually started dating and going out more with girlfriends. I found myself exposed to a whole new world of insanely delicious alcoholic beverages. I remember going on a first date to Marcel, with a liquor rep, and he introduced me to the Classic Daiquiri and I swear that my whole world changed that night. From then on, my love and quest for a perfectly crafted cocktail consumed most of my child-free nights. 

I always considered myself to be a social drinker. I never drank at home alone, only when I had a girls night or party at my house. I only drank when I was going out. The problem was is that I was going out sometimes 3-4 days a week. I was spending a ton of money on alcohol, not living a very healthy lifestyle, eating shitty food, making poor choices when it came to men and how I ended dates. I was going places I wouldn’t go sober, doing things I definitely wouldn’t do sober and making a whole lot of dumb decisions not only as a woman but as a mother. 

Before Christmas 2021 I became really sick with Covid and bronchitis, which turned into a 6 week long illness and was so painful. It was at this time that I felt God & the Universe were giving me signs that I couldn’t ignore. I would see TikTok videos of people who didn’t drink, I was being promoted the 75 hard challenge which obviously means no drinking, alcohol-free lifestyles and how to live alcohol-free books kept popping up on my sponsored social channels. None of this was searched by me and I’m not even sure how it came to light. I never even vocalized this so my phone wasn’t listening. It was God knowing I needed to change. It was easy to make it through the holidays without drinking because I was so miserable and sick. I can’t remember a holiday or social gathering where I didn’t drink, unless I was pregnant. 

I’d like to think that one of the things I’m good at is never questioning a decision once it’s made. I’ve never been one to go back-and-forth about anything. I know what I like, I have very few regrets and when my mind is made up, I don’t run a pros and cons list. While I was reading the book Quit Like a Woman one of the lines that stood out the most was when Holly writes that she that once she made up her mind officially to stop drinking, that she never questioned the decision. So much so that she got it tattooed on her arm. It was such an easy concept to grasp for me because I, too, never question a decision. Once my mind was made up to quit alcohol, I haven’t had a single regret or desire to resume drinking. I love knowing that I will never wake up with a hang-over, that I’ll never get a DUI, that my words and actions while drunk won’t embarrass me and the best part is knowing I am leading by example to my kids who are watching,

The only thing part of drinking that I miss is the social aspect. It seems we as humans can’t do anything that doesn’t involve alcohol. Just got engaged? Let’s drink. Broke up with your boyfriend? Let’s drink. Promotion at work? Drink. Fired? Drink. Every day at 5pm? Drink. Just finished breastfeeding? Drink. Sunday Brunch? Drink. Boarding a flight? Drink. Vacation? Drink. Choosing not to drink in a society and culture so obsessed with alcohol feels rebellious and amazing. Not to mention I know my body is thanking me.

My journey to quit drinking isn’t some sad, broken story. I never hit rock bottom, I didn’t have anything horrible happen to me or anyone around me, thank God. My story is all about reflection and giving up something that wasn’t serving me or bringing value into my life. I can honestly look back on every time I had a drink and without hesitation answer that it’s never made my life any better.

Teacher Gift Ideas Under $35

End of year teacher gifts are my favorite! I try and also do something unique and creative but there are also times when I just drop off bottles of Rosè too so … balance! This year I decided to go with an emergency kit. These bags have so many uses. Teachers can keep them in their classrooms, their car, gym bags, pool bags, carry on bag for travel, etc. The cosmetic bags are pretty large and can hold a good about of items. I also love that they plastic for wiping down and clear for easy viewing.

I found the nail files, pens and lint rollers at my local Five Below store and got a great value. Altoids were from my local Kroger, Makeup wipes were found at TJ Maxx, cosmetic bags, hairbrushes and hair ties were from Amazon in bulk and the hand cream, deodorant, chap stick, liquid IV and face sprays all from Target. You can really find all of these items in the travel section at your local drugstore, Walmart or Target.

I put together 6 of these gift bags and my total cost before tax was $195.36 making each gift $32.56. I made ones for the kids teachers, the art and music teacher and the principle and vice principle. Your cost may be a little different if you buy all on line but I tried to find items similar to mine and with bulk purchasing options! For example, the witch hazel facial spray is half the price at CVS compared to Amazon!

The brown paper craft bags fit these cosmetic bags perfectly! They were purchased on Amazon in bulk along with the tissue paper and gift tags. I love using craft bags because they work for every occasion, you can swap out the tissue paper color and draw or write on the bags too. I love letting my kids decorate the bags for a friends party. It makes the gift so special!

Here is a breakdown cost for each item and links to everything below. When do your kids get out of school?

Liquid IV – $1.60
Rose Gold Bag – $4.66
Hair brushes – $1.91
Hair ties – $1
Starbucks GC – $5
Facial Spray – $6
Chapstick – $2.50
Hand cream – $1.00
Deodorant – $2.00
Altoids – $1.60
Pen – $.62
Nail File – $.75
Lint Roller – $1.25
Makeup Wipes – $2.67

Rose Gold Toiletry Bag // Makeup Wipes // Altoids // Hairbrushes // Hair Ties // Starbucks Gift Card // Liquid IV // Facial Spray // Chapstick // Hand Cream // Deodorant // Pen // Lint Roller // Brown Craft Bags // Tissue Paper // Gift Tags

The Best Family-Friendly Hotel in the heart of Orlando

Happy New Year, everyone! While I always love the fresh start of the new year, I spent one of my last weeks in 2021 at the Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa in Orlando, and I didn’t want it to end. In Orlando, there are so many places to stay, and Westgate Lakes is one of the best. It is right in the center of everything, and is conveniently close to Disney, Seaworld, Legoland, and all of the other fun activities in Orlando! Exploring Seaworld was such a blast and Evelyn had the best time and really remembers the experience. She had previously been before but was only 3.

I have visited Westgate’s properties before, but this was my first time visiting with Evelyn, and we both LOVED it! When we got to the resort, it was just as beautiful as the other Westgate properties I have visited. Let me tell you, the Westgate Lakes in Orlando is not just a hotel, it is a community. Not only do they have over 6 pool areas and their own Treasure Cove Waterpark, they are equipped with literally ANYTHING you could need. In the lobby, they have a Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and a Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop. They also have a general marketplace, and a whole village with restaurants, game rooms, mini golf, sand volley ball courts, bike rentals and so much more. The marketplace has everything you could need, stocked with things like pool supplies, snacks, bags, and even souvenirs from the theme parks nearby. We were able to stock up on snacks for the days ahead by just visiting the marketplace.

When we first got to the resort, our first stop was the pool! They have numerous pools, and they are all incredible. Many of the pools have bars, so Evelyn and I started our pool day with some drinks! They had an array of cocktails (and mocktails for Evelyn) to enjoy, and even in the December weather, it hit the spot. I’m pretty sure Evelyn spent over an hour in the Lazy River while I tanned and drank my hurricane!  We spent a while at the pool, so our next stop was dinner. We visited the Villa Italiano Chophouse and O.M.G. it is a 10/10. We were starving, so we tried a Classic Caesar Salad, Fruitti Di Mare, Fettuccine Alfredo, and their appetizer Meatballs. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and all of the appetizers were to die for. Knowing we had so many options to choose from on the menu, which is a relief, especially if you are accompanied by the kiddos. We tried desserts later that night in our villa and we both devoured those as well!

The villa that Westgate Lakes provided for us was something straight out of a movie. Not only are the rooms huge, but they are clean, organized, and up to date! As seen on my instagram stories, Evelyn was excited to give everyone a tour of the room, showing off how spacious it was! Our room had a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, washer & dryer and even a patio with a killer view of Orlando. The master bedroom was connected to the most beautiful bathroom, with a bathtub fit for a queen (a.k.a Evelyn). She loves all things spa, so she obviously wasn’t ready for the spa day we had planned for later that week!

The Westgate Lakes Resort has an unbelievably relaxing spa, with services like facials, manicures, massages, and haircuts. Evelyn and I went in for a double facial, and I think I may have gotten her hooked on facials. She was in heaven. I had the new hydrafacial that the Westgate is introducing to their spa services, and it was one the best facials I have ever had. My face looked so soft and glowy for days after my facial, and I will definitely be back for another one day! We were also able to visit the new Treasure Cove Water Park which was honestly so fun for the both of us. Of course, Evelyn had a great time running around and trying out their numerous slides, the wave pool, and the splash pad. The whole park was pirate themed, and the characterization of the water park makes it a great alternative to any theme park.

The Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa is an amazing place to stay, and I will most definitely be back for another stay next time I visit Orlando and this time bringing Henry as well!

A Valentine’s Day Brunch

Nothing makes me happier than a sea of red and pink. It’s an instant serotonin boost. Maybe that’s why I love Valentine’s Day so much. Every year I get some girlfriends together for a Valentine’s Brunch and each year seems to be better than the last. Creating a fun tablescape and backdrop is always the most time consuming but I love a good challenge. I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out! I incorporated my donut tower and love the height it added. What do you think?

I had the hardest time sticking those balloons to the wall. I used double sided tape because I didn’t want to ruin the paint but it was not easy! I love the mix of babies breath too. The pop of green and white really paired well with all the pink and red!

You can never have too many sweets at a party, regardless if it’s a brunch or not!

Viva Westgate Las Vegas

When I got the opportunity  to head to Vegas this past summer with Westgate Resorts, I jumped at the chance. I loved their Gatlinburg and River Ranch properties so I knew Las Vegas would be an equally amazing experience… and needless to say, I was right! 

Don’t  get me wrong, I love a good night out in Vegas. At the Westgate Vegas, I was able to have a night out… while staying in! Because the property is located just off the famous Vegas strip, it was nice to experience the classic activities like gambling and grabbing cocktails at the bar, whilst not having to leave the Westgate property. (I will definitely be going into details later about the entertainment.) 

While I was more than thrilled to be at another Westgate property, I was not expecting Westgate Vegas to be filled with such amazing history. And when I say history, I mean HISTORY. During my stay at the Westgate Vegas, I was able to learn so much about the history of the hotel itself, as well as some of the guests who have visited the property. I mean, I was able to stand on the same stage ELVIS had performed on. WHAT? Walking the same corridor that Elvis had walked and standing on the stage he performed at was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.  

Now, let’s chat about the incredible activities and amenities the Westgate Vegas provided for guests! The fitness center at Westgate felt like a high end sports club on the Upper east side. As someone who recently started using the gym when traveling, I definitely appreciated the weight  machines, bikes, treadmills, and more. It was spread out nicely too so I didn’t feel like I was exercising in anyone’s personal space. Right outside the workout room is the SPA. Yes, the in-house spa. The Serenity Spa offers everything from facials to manicures.  We were lucky enough to experience the most incredible and relaxing massages, and when they say they take bliss to a whole new level, they mean it. It was so nice to have a moment of relaxation in the hustle and bustle that is Vegas, and between the massages and the pool, it was hard not to be completely relaxed! Speaking of the pool, I swear it was one of the best pools I have ever been to. The poolside service was insanely good, and the cocktails were even more insane. Sitting in a cabana in a drink by the pool is not something I knew I needed to do whilst in Vegas…but now I will be dreaming about it forever. 

As far as nightime entertainment goes, the Westgate has you covered. They have numerous things to do, so you’ll never be left sitting with nothing to do.  The Westgate has everything. A Magic Show, tons of retail shopping, a classic Vegas casino, and even a WEDDING CHAPEL. I could have walked out MARRIED! Sadly, no men on this trip…I had too much to explore! The magic show, The Magic of Jen Kramer was so fun to enjoy, and of course the casino was exciting to explore. Lastly, the famous Barry Manilow has a residency at Westgate and even resides on the property! 

The hotel property has 8 different restaurants on site, so we never had a lack of options for dining. I mean, even the restaurants gave you that Vegas theming. Each restaurant was themed to fit its respective style of dining. I had every meal at the Westgate, and each one was different, so I was never NOT excited to eat. The first night we ate at Benihana, and the food was incredible, as well as the cocktails! The Italian food at Fresco Italiano was amazing as well. What took the cake for me was the famous Edge Steakhouse. One of the best steakhouses I have ever been to, easily. Sid’s Cafe was where we ate numerous times, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch french toast and Avocado toast is the perfect thing to wake you up on a Vegas morning. Everything was melt-in-your-mouth good. 

I was able to do some exploring of the mesmerizing sky villas the hotel has to offer. These suites were the most gorgeous vintage-style rooms I have ever seen. I could have moved in and not changed  a single thing and been living my best life. Each villa has its own private pool as well as two bedrooms that each come with the biggest, most beautiful bathrooms. With  stunning marble floors and giant ceilings, I literally felt like how  I imagine the Queen to feel. All of the bedrooms were nice carpeted rooms with beautiful gold embroidery lining the walls, and HUGE walk in closets. Everywhere I turned, there was always something new to look at.  I was living my Princess Diaries fantasy for sure. Complete with a kitchen and living room, these suites are the place to be.

Thank you again to Westgate Vegas for having me and for providing such a wonderful experience! 

A First Timers Guide to Beaver Creek

Can you believe it took me 37 years to make it out to Colorado? I know, I know, I’m shocked too. Well, let me tell you it was worth the wait because this past summer I finally had the chance to go and I fell in love. I was lucky enough to visit Beaver Creek, which is located 13 miles west of Vail. Vail is the closest airport to Beaver Creek, so that’s the one you want to fly into when you’re visiting.

I’ll warn you, the oxygen is like nothing I have ever experienced. I kid you not when I say I was winded walking up a flight of stairs. Altitude sickness is real and it took me a full day to get adjusted. It felt like I had a migraine so I slept my entire first day there with the curtains drawn. I am so glad I listened to my body because adjusting to high altitude is hard on your body, no matter your age or fitness level. Give yourself some time to fully adjust before exploring!

Most people visit Beaver Creek for skiing and it rivals the slopes of Vail, but trust me – do not sleep on Beaver Creek in the summer. The weather in Beaver Creek could not have been more perfect. The days were sunny and mildly warm and the nights were cool and crisp. I visited in mid-July and highly recommend this season if you are looking to come with kids. The Beaver Creek village is extremely kid friendly with a large turf full of games like connect 4, ping pong and cornhole. There is a putt-putt golf course near the gondola rides, bikes available to rent, a creek for kids to get their feet wet in and tons of delicious restaurants with outdoor seating. Beaver Creek is its own little village, and there were so many things to explore just on-site. I loved seeing all the families and dogs out together enjoying their summer. It was something I hadn’t seen in a while and made me so happy. I can’t wait to take the kids here one day.

If you’re looking to take a vacation without the kids, Beaver Creek is still a great option. Beaver Creek Lodge itself has an incredible fitness center, hot tub, pool and sauna. They also have an art gallery on the 2nd floor with stunning pieces personally curated by Richard Kessler.  There was hiking, horseback riding on the mountain, jeep tours (which was my personal favorite) and of course, eating and drinking. The on site dining was incredible, I tried nearly every meal and was never let down. Not only is the lodge stunning visually, the food and drinks are insane. Alpine + Antlers’ serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and let me tell you, they know how to do it.  My favorites off the menu were the deviled eggs, lamb meatballs, prosciutto and fig flatbread, ruby red trout, and the pork shank. Of course, the cocktails were everything as well. The Rocky Mountain High-biscus Cocktail was infused with cbd tincture, and it was so refreshing. They also offer room service which is a must for me when choosing a hotel, because you never know when you  may need a late night snack.

While I totally could have just eaten at Alpine + Antlers for each meal, I had to branch out for you guys! In the village, I ate at Toscanini and Hooked, and I am so glad I did. Toscanini was family style, and their portions were definitely shareable. The crispy spanish octopus is a must if you visit Toscanini. When in doubt, always get the octopus. They have everything from  hummus to grilled salmon to lamb shoulder. For drinks, I fully recommend the “skinny dip” cocktail for a sweet and spicy kick. Toscanini is a great option to accommodate larger groups, whilst still getting fresh made meals. The other restaurant I visited, Hooked, has incredibly fresh seafood that is flown in DAILY from different places around the world. You can even order a whole fish and have it prepared however you want. All of the seafood Hooked serves is never frozen, and always top notch. I swear, it was some of the best fish and sushi I have ever eaten. For a resort nowhere near a port, it was so incredibly fresh it blew my mind.

There is so much to do at Beaver Creek, so it was hard to choose what I was going to do in just a day! I would definitely recommend hiking or taking the gondola up the mountain and having lunch and drinks at Spruce Saddle and making an afternoon out of it. The views are unreal, the temp drops a little bit and it’s so serene. You can bring your own food and drinks as well for a picnic and there are plenty of tables and chairs for relaxation. You can hike down the mountain which will take about 2 hours or you can take the gondola back down which is what I chose because I am a scenery girl at heart. If you want to see some amazing scenery, the jeep tour is the way to go. You can go up to 11,440 ft above sea level, see scenic views of Vail Valley and the new 250- acre McCoy Park expansion. The tours include transportation to and from local hotels, professional guides, beverages, snacks, blankets, and rain gear. They run May through October so make sure to check them out when you’re visiting!

Beaver Creek Lodge is part of the Marriot Kessler Collection. I  stayed at another Kessler property earlier this year when I visited Savannah and really enjoyed their hotels. Beaver Creek Lodge is located in the heart of Beaver Creek Village just steps away from all it has to offer. I loved that I didn’t need a car and could walk anywhere I wanted. During ski season you can even ski right up to the hotel for extra convenience. The Beaver Creek lodge could not be more convenient to the village and has the coziest mountain feel, and it’s perfect to visit all year round!

What I wore:

Leopard Maxi Dress // Blue Puff Sleeve Midi // Black Puff Sleeve Maxi // Floral Sweetheart Midi

Cindy Lou Who Costume

How cute is Cindy Lou Who in the Grinch cartoon and in the movie? She is also so recognizable because of her hair so I knew it would be a popular costume. This wig is so character specific that it can’t be used for other costumes but you can wear it again in December! Wig and shawl linked below!

Wig // Shawl

*I found that the Amazon reviews about this wig being small were unfortunately accurate. The wig is more on the snug side and it never felt like it was *on* my head tight enough. Luckily, I only needed for a quick photo but if you are wearing this out and about for a costume, give yourself some time to receive and make sure it fits you*

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