Friday, March 22, 2019

Things to do with Kids in Key Largo, Florida

I've been to the Florida Keys three times in the last 18 months. Each time has been unique, and such a wonderful experience. Last month, for Winter Break, we planned a super last minute trip with the kids to Key Largo, Florida. And when I say last minute, I mean we booked the trip on Thursday night and were sipping fruity drinks poolside Sunday.

Originally we had planned to go to Arizona for Winter Break. Weather is typically pretty enjoyable there in the winter months, and we were ready for some fun in the sun. As we got closer to our departure date we realized it was going to be cold. Like colder than it was at home. The whole plan for the break was to escape the cold rainy winter, not sink further into it.

We also couldn't stay home because we had scheduled a part of our kitchen remodel over the break. This part of the remodel required us to be out of the house for at least two nights.

So Mr. Cute and I put our travel planning skills to work and came up with the Florida Keys. We landed on Key Largo only because it was the only Key that had availability for the entire week. We found a hotel that had a beach, a pool with a cocktail cabana bar, and a room large enough for our crew - and that's all that matters.

After it was all said and done - best decision ever! We had a blast as family in Key Largo. The weather was perfection, there was tons to do, and the kids had a blast!

My kids are the kind of kids that could spend all day at the beach and pool, and be perfectly happy. I love that because that's how I am. But we still managed to sneak a lot of fun adventures on this trip too. I think we were all high on finally experiencing warmth and sunshine that we just wanted to do all the things on this trip.

The parts of the Keys I had seen I didn't think it would be a kid friendly place. When we had vacationed to Islamorada and Key West it was a completely different experience. When it came to vacationing with kids, I couldn't have been more wrong. There were tons of things to do with kids in the Keys.

Here's a peek at some of our favorite adventures...

Things to do with Kids in Key Largo, Florida

The Turtle Hospital
The Turtle Hospital is located in Marathon, Florida (approximately an hour south of Key Largo). The  Turtle Hospital is one of the country's largest sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation facilities. The facility has a unique back story and is open for tours daily. The kids loved this activity. They were able to be educated on different varieties of sea turtles, the dangers sea turtles experience, and ways to help keep them safe. 

We also were lucky enough to sea a sea turtle rescue surgery being performed during our visit.

The tour includes an up close look at the different rescued sea turtles and even a chance to feed the sea turtles. 

Tours last approximately one hour, but there are educational play areas you can enjoy to extend your visit if desired.  

Swim with Dolphins
There are several swim with dolphin opportunities throughout the Florida Keys, but the facility we chose to go with was Dolphins Plus. We cold walk to there from our hotel if wanted and it received a ton of great reviews. It is also one of the few places I've seen anywhere that lets children under the age of 8 participate in interactions with the dolphins. 

There are multiple interact with dolphin options available. From simply observing, to painting with a dolphin to full on structured swim sessions. We opted to go with the Shallow Water Encounter

The Shallow Water  Dolphin Encounter allows anyone over the age of three to interact with a dolphin. You stand on a motorized platform in the dolphins swim area, and an instructor leads you through tasks. The instruction last approximately 20 minutes during which time you get to touch, play, kiss, and learn about the dolphins. 

The kids loved this experience, and have already asked when they can do the Structured Swim option. This was the perfect way to introduce the kids to dolphins up close (especially for one of ours who was a little more hesitant about the situation). 

Note: We did opt for the professional photographer to take our photos. It's an additional fee, but we were able to just enjoy the experience and not worry about having our phones or cameras capture any moments. Book online for a slight discounted rate!  

Off Shore Fishing
Some of the best fishing in the world is in the Florida Keys. There are tons of available guides on each Key. Mr. Cute did some research and booked an off shore fishing trip out of Pilothouse Marina for he and our eight year old son. He went with Charisma charters and felt they did an excellent job and were super knowledgeable about water conditions, fish availability, and amazing with the kids. 

The boys caught Yellow Tail Snapper and Cera Mackerel. 

John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park
The John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park was created in 1963 to protect one of the only existing living coral reefs in the Continental United States. It is described as an undersea park and covers approximately 178 nautical square miles. Access to the park is right in the heart of Key Largo, and it is the host to a variety of activities that can be enjoyed. 

The park offers scuba diving tours, snorkeling tours, kayaking, paddle boarding, glass bottom boat tours, and aquarium and more. 

We decided to take park in a Glass Bottom Boat Tour to give the kids a closer peek at the coral reef, and the chance to learn more about the park in an interactive setting. The tour is approximately two hours long, but it goes by quick. You get the chance to see fish, stingrays, sharks, sea turtles, and more in their native habitat. 

Note: If you get seasick at all be sure to check wave conditions or take one of the offered dramamines before the tour. You look down a lot, and we saw several people get sick. There is also a snack bar available on board. 

After the tour we took a quick pass through the aquarium. There are several fun interactive exhibits for kids (young and old) to enjoy and a few native species on display. 

You are also able to enjoy the park at your leisure outside of the tours. It's open to the public once you pay the entrance fee. If you are a nature lover at all, I highly recommend.

Notables options that we didn't do on this trip...
There are a few places close by that are also kid friendly in the Keys that we didn't do on this trip. Here are just a few of our favorites: 

Have you visited the Florida Keys with your kids? What are some of your favorite attractions to visit? 

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Why We Made the Change to #BetterBeauty

Last Fall we both made a conscience effort to change our up beauty routines. We chatted a little bit about our Fall and Winter skincare routines, but we mean beyond that. We've strived over the last few months to have a better beauty routine. One that is cleaner and will serve us in the long anti-aging haul.

As we've gotten older we've tried to really pay attention to what our skin needs, and what products serve us best. We realize we aren't getting any younger.  We aren't trying to turn back time and look 22 again (um, how awesome would that be?!), but we are trying to maintain a youthful glow and take care of our skin much better than we maybe did ten years ago.

What We've Learned...

After doing some research we both made the leap to switch to cleaner beauty products. We couldn't believe some of the facts we found.

  • The United States hasn't passed a law since 1938 to regulate the safety of ingredients in personal care products. (Wrap your mind around that!)
  • The fragrance industry isn't regulated at all. Because of trade secret laws they do not have to disclose the ingredients they use. 
  • When some companies write "all natural" on their labels, it often doesn't mean "clean". (Again, not regulated.)
  • The European Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients used in cosmetics. The United States - 30. 

Why We've Made the Change...

Our skin is our largest organ. We want to protect it!

And maintain that whole youthful glow we've been chatting about.

It takes only 30 seconds for something to absorb into your skin and enter your bloodstream. Thinking about it that way, we want to use the safest ingredients possible. We thought...Why not use beauty products that are proven to be good for you rather than ones that might or might not be harmful? Even though there are some beauty products we've used for years, have trust in, and hate to break up with - we know at least trying to find an alternative is better for our health and well being in the long run.

Our Favorite Better Beauty Products...

Transitioning to cleaner beauty products has taken some time. There has been lots of trial and error, and even after extensive testing on our parts, some items we are still on the hunt for.

The majority of our favorite better beauty products come from Beautycounter. We've always tried to steer clear of MLMs and not listen to the hype of certain brands. But Beautycounter is the real deal. Beautycounter is constantly in the news for advocating for a change to the beauty product industry (Go ahead and Google. We'll wait...). But aside from leading the way (and slaying while they do so because hello amazing lipglosses), they produce a seriously amazing product. Some of their products are now our favorites in both skincare and beauty, and we can't imagine not ever having them in our routines.

Aside from Beautycounter, some of our other favorite brands are DermaE, Coola, and Goop.

Here's a breakdown of both of our favorite clean beauty products.

Carrie Beth's Clean Beauty Picks

I am certainly no clean beauty expert, but I do have some products that I use on a daily or weekly basis and just love. I've been using most of theses for at least a year now and some for even longer. I've tried some other products that I didn't love as much so only sharing my very, very favorites!

1. Beautycounter Facial Oil - I love this stuff!  I started using it after Jen told me how much she loved her oil. I use it each night and it just feel like it makes my skin feel so soft.

2. Dearma-e Overnight Peel - I try to use this once a week and should probably do it at least twice a week, but I always forget!

3. Beautycounter Stick Sunscreen - Seriously THE BEST stick sunscreen there is. I love, love, love it and so do my kids. It goes on easy, makes application on their faces a breeze and most important to them, it goes on clean. No white sticky mess to have to try to rub in!  I love the size, too, and keep these stashed all over the my car, in our baseball bag, in my daughter's soccer bag, etc.

4. Coconut Oil - I once read that using coconut oil was not only a good moisturizer, but something good to use to take off eye makeup and now it is all I use. I keep a jar in my bathroom and put a little on a washcloth to wipe make up off of my face and then I put some on the end of a q-tip to get my hard to wash off eye make up off. It works SO well.  I also use this to get my son's baseball eyeblack off. It's the only thing that takes it right off without having to scrub.

5. EVER Daylight Tinted Moisturizer - I use this as a foundation in the summer.  I love it because it is sheer with just a little coverage, light weight and it has an SPF built in.  It also smells amazing!!! It comes in several colors so you can match your skin tone and I use color Light.

6. Beautycounter Tint Skin - This is the foundation year round when I'm not using the EVER mentioned above. I wear color Linen. It is also pretty sheer and not to heavy, which is what I like about it.

7. Beautycounter Lipgloss - I love the Beauty Counter Lipgloss because it stays on, but doesn't feel too gloopy.

Jen's Clean Beauty Picks

Carrie Beth and I love so many of the same products. I've learned that of all make-up brands Beautycounter is also my favorite. Everything I've tried, I've loved. The eyeshadows and the lip glosses topping the list. But the following are my must-haves. Like the ones I couldn't live without if I was stuck on an island. All of the following products I just love! I use a rotation of them throughout the week and most daily. I tend to have dryer skin (especially in the cooler months), and each of these pack a hydrating punch while at the same time doing a seriously awesome job of keeping wrinkles at bay. 

We shared our favorite Fall and Winter lip colors, but these two are my favorite to use in the Spring and Summer. I also love love love the color Rosy Pink from the Color Intense line, but I need to order some more after a certain toddler got a hold of it. 

A few weeks ago Carrie Beth passed this Eye Cream along to me. I've only used it a couple of times so I can't give a full review, but so far seems to be doing a great job of making my tired eyes a little brighter. 

Slowly I've tried to transition to cleaner hair care too. I use a combo of shampoos depending on what I feel like my long hair needs the most. These are some of my favorites...

I'm still on the hunt for a great deodorant and a mascara. Mascara seems to be the toughest. I tried the Beautycounter volume one and didn't love it. Please share if you've found an awesome one that I can try!  

Edited to add: After we created this post we realized Beautycounter is currently running a great deal. For every $125 spent you get a free travel size No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil Serum. The deal is good through 3/31. (We stocked up on sunscreen for Spring Break to snag some!) 

Have you made the switch to cleaner beauty products? What are some of your favorites?

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Mix & Mingle: Say It Southern

Oh boy, do we have a treat for y'all today!  We were interviewed for a podcast.  We'll let that sink in just a bit.  A podcast!!!!  It was so much fun and we loved meeting some new friends and couldn't wait to introduce them to you.  It's been a while since we've had a Mix & Mingle here on the blog and felt like one was way overdue!

Mix & Mingle is all about giving you a sneak peek at some of our favorite boutiques, restaurants, brands and businesses, but with a twist! Who better to learn all of  the details than with the owners themselves!

Today we are introducing y'all to the lovely ladies that created and host the podcast, Say It Southern!

Courtney and Sarah are two modern moms bringing us the hearts and stories of the people creating the best of the south.  Say It Southern is a place to join real, warm conversation as if you were sitting beside them on the back porch. They explore the intersection of womanhood, work and creativity with honesty and grace. They want their listeners to feel inspired, encouraged, and educated by their guests living and celebrating the South!

First up we wanted to get to know Sarah and Courtney a bit more! 


What inspired you to start "Say It Southern"? 

I am turning 40 this year and as a mom to three girls I have given so much of myself to being just that.  I felt it was time for me to do something I am passionate about.  I want my girls to see me following a dream, setting goals & working hard to make the dream a reality.  I have always believed you can do ANYTHING if you work hard.  I love talk radio & once I discovered podcasts I knew this was it!!  I love all things Southern and believe a podcast is the best way to share the stories, places, food and people of the South. 

What is the most interesting thing you've learned about creating a podcast? Or the whole world of podcasts now that you've got both feet in? 

I was worried about finding content for the show since we want to keep it southern, however, once we started I have quickly learned that the guests are endless!!  There are so many people from all over the South doing amazing things.  I also feel like the region has become much smaller. Our guests have become our friends, creating a community of Southerners that support each other. 

Who would be your dream guest? The one person (or group) you would love to interview?  

Sarah Blakey, the founder of Spanx. 

Favorite place to vacation in the South?

This is SO tough….I grew up going to Wrightsville Beach, NC and this is still my favorite beach.  I love everything about New Orleans.  The food, the music, architecture, shopping & history are just a few of things I find to be good for your soul. 

You're only allowed to wear one article of clothing for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Spanx leggings! 

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that's happened to you as a mom so far? 

I was on an airplane for the first time with my first born.  She was about six months old so riding in my lap.  I knew she had a wet diaper because I kept feeling the warmth but also knew I had on the deluxe diapers because this was my first born and only the best will do…right??  Well, once it was time to get off the plane I quickly realized that this super diaper was NOT leak proof…..and worst of all….it looked like I had peed in my pants because she leaked all over my lap…I was mortified. 


What is the most interesting thing you've learned about creating a podcast? Or the whole world of podcasts now that you've got both feet in? 

I love finding the guests and creating the content. Its crazy how organic the guests and the growth has been. Every person that we have reached out to to be involved has said yes. And how amazing it to to find these curators of the Modern Southern Culture and let them tell their story? Honestly we could do a podcast daily on the cool people that we have found out about through this process of guest selection. we have a BIG list of fabulous people coming up!!!

Who would be your dream guest? The one person (or group) you would love to interview?  

Reese. She's kind of the poster child for modern southern women, right? Author, Actress, Activist, Entrepreneur and Mom..... yep, that about covers it! 

Favorite place to vacation in the South? (With kids? Without kids?) 

There are so many great places! We love Charleston for the architecture, charm and food.... but my boys love fishing and crab hunting on the beaches of 30A. 

You're only allowed to wear one article of clothing for the rest of your life, what would it be?


What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing that's happened to you as a mom so far?  

Graham had character day at his school and we got busy making his costume. (Granted it was out of Dad's old t-shirt and a belt I had from the 80's but nonetheless..) He was so proud when the day finally came to wear the costume. We got up extra early to make sure every detail was just perfect. We rolled though that carpool line and I sent him into Kindergarten, my head held high. Around 10:00 AM I got a text from his teacher that said, "Graham looks precious and his costume is fabulous.  Can you make sure he wears it again next Wednesday for Character Day?" Y'allllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Aren't they the cutest?  When they reached out to ask if we would be interested in being a part of their podcast we said YES!!!  We chatted with them for what only felt like a minute and before we knew it we were all laughing together like old friends. They are the sweetest and so funny!  Plus, we love supporting other women trying to hustle and be great moms, so we felt like it was a perfect fit! 

We were able to chat about all sorts of things including our hobby blog turned influencer business, motherhood, and how we juggle it all.  

You can listen to it HERE.  

We are episode #17!  We've had fun listening to some of their other episodes and have learned a lot and laughed a bunch!  

They have Say It Southern tank tops that are so cute!  You can DM them on Instagram to purchase for only $25.  

We would definitely recommend checking them out on Instagram. Their stories are hilarious and here's a little something we learned...Sarah was the winner of The Bachelor.  She shares some fun behind the scenes info that we loved learning during the last season and Courtney keeps us laughing.  These ladies are both the real deal, down to earth and we just wished they lived next door to us because we know we'd all be the best of friends!  

To learn more about Say It Southern: 

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Spring Favorites at Findlay Rowe

The official start of spring is this week!!!  Now we just need it to start feeling like spring.  Spring Break and Easter are both right around the corner so we visited Findlay Rowe, our favorite boutique and gift shop, last week to check out all of their spring goodies.  SO many adorable things, as always!!! 

We love these Scout bags for the beach or pool.  Easy to wipe clean, lots of pockets to keep all of our things organized and so many cute patterns. 

The spring clothes and accessories at Findley Rowe are so bright and fun!  I loved this orange Spartina Dress and jewelry.  

And we both came home with one of these fun clutches!!!  Blue for Jen and pink for Carrie Beth.  We loved them because of the vibrate colors, the fun tassel details and the size is great! 

We were so excited to learn that Findley Rowe now carries Kendra Scott!  SO many beautiful and classic pieces. 

Spring sunshine means we spent a lot of time outdoors and we area always trying to keep the sun off our faces with hats.  These Judith March hats are so cute and we love the state pride patches.  

Anyone hosting Easter this year?  Or need a cute little hostess gift?  Findley Rowe has a huge selection of the most darling Easter accessories, gifts and decor!

Some of their items are online, but SO much more in store so if you are local you should totally stop in, say hi, and told them we sent you! To see some more of our favorites you can check out the video!  

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