A little closer to home.

busch

Most of my travel posts will be about our 2014 Europe trip, but today I wanted to talk about a place a little closer to home.

While Disney World will always and forever be the most magical place on earth to me, my husband and I also have passes to Busch Gardens/SeaWorld and this last weekend we took an impulsive trip to SeaWorld to celebrate my husband winning a competition he was in.

We have never really considered getting Disney World passes because they run about $500 each. We’d love to have them at least once before we move our of Florida, but until we do, the Busch Gardens & SeaWorld annual pass is much more affordable, and through J’s work, we get significant discounts off the full price.

J loves Busch Gardens because it has several roller coasters, including Sheikra, an intense freefall ride that makes my stomach roll over, drop, jump, and then roll over again. I refuse to ever ride it again. I do love the animal exhibits though — you get a zoo and a theme park in the same place!

But of the two parks, without a doubt I prefer SeaWorld. I love the dolphin and killer whale shows so much — I could seriously sit and watch every show they play all day. But if I did, I would miss other amazing things — like feeding dolphins, like we did on this last trip. We were too mesmerized to take pictures (and too cheap to buy the ones the photographer took) but it was incredible. I have now fed and petted a dolphin. Check that off the bucket list. 

We also got the souvenir cups that both parks offer, that once you pay the initial $6 for the cup, every refill is only 99 cents (not including J’s  discount). It pays for itself SO quickly if you have passes. They also have the amazing new Coke machines that have every flavor combination you can imagine. I recommend raspberry lemonade.

Last December, we also went to SeaWorld’s Christmas party (no extra charge!) and it was great. They had a Polar Express ride, hot chocolate, ice skating show (my weakness), a Christmas killer whale show, and a Christmas tree light show. I have a thing about Christmas — the thing being that it’s my favorite holiday and I look forward to it every year starting December 26th. Nothing can top Disney’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but this one was delightful as well!

Anyway —  if you’re in the Tampa/Orlando area and can’t afford a Disney pass, consider a Busch/SeaWorld pass! Especially if you have a friend who works there who can get you a discount. 😉

Blue Horizons

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Oh, hello there!

I have a blog? Look, I have a blog! I’m so glad to see it is still around after a two-week vacation. I’ve had nothing going on, other than getting our second car totaled, photographing a wedding in Texas, and opening week at the college I work at. Nothing much, really. I’m excited to get back to blogging!

I got several e.l.f. products when they had a good sale going on a few weeks back. The product I’ve been using the most out of that order is their e.l.f. Studio Translucent Matifying Powder. It’s a whopping $3 full price, and they run 50% sales fairly often. They’re currently running a $1.98 shipping special as well.

elf

I just discovered e.l.f. a few months back, and I am very excited that there is a line of very affordable makeup and brushes for when I can’t (or shouldn’t) afford some of the pricier brands. Obviously, at this price level, some of the makeup is probably not very “clean,” but I was excited to see that they also have a mineral line that I am looking forward to exploring. Their ingredient lists are encouragingly short!

This compact, however, is from their studio line. Both the mineral and studio lines are slightly more expensive than their essential line, but still, as I said, this studio powder was only $3.

It does not have an overwhelming amount of product in it, but it is a very light, sheer powder that is one-shade-fits-all, and I like it to wear over my foundation. Eventually I want to get a few more to have one at work and one in my purse.

I’d encourage you to try this line out! I believe some Targets and even dollar stores sell their products, but you won’t get as full of a selection as you do online.

Happy Monday!

An elementary couponing trip.

Through someone’s Facebook status, I heard about Southern Savers and have been slightly obsessed ever since. I hate feeling guilty going to the grocery store and always knowing in the back of my mind that I could be saving money if I knew how. Well, I’m learning how!

First lesson I learned: Don’t try to spend nothing. It’s impractical, and you’re not going to get what you really need that way. My goal is to average about 50% savings between sales and coupons.

publix

This is what I got. I spent $45.64 and saved $47.38 ($38.68 in store sales, $8.70 in coupons) BUT, I forgot a $5 coupon at home, and because Publix is awesome, they are going to let me get that $5 back if I show them my receipt and the coupon the next time I go in. So that will mean I’ve spent $40.64 and saved $52.38. I passed my goal of 50%!

Southern Savers is incredible because she does all the hard work for you. When you get the coupon inserts in the paper, stick them in a folder and don’t even look at them. Every week, she will post the sales/coupon matchups and show you the best deals that week. Then you can just go find those specific coupons in the paper and leave the rest alone. No needless cutting of coupons you don’t need or won’t use. And you can print out shopping lists with specific coupon matchups to take with you so you can get in and out of the store in half on hour and already have your coupons ready to go. I feel much less crazy-cat-lady that way. 

list

I forgot my list (of course), but since Publix has free Wifi, I accessed it from my iPad in the store.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a Publix fangirl. 

As you can see, I got 2 Freschetta pizzas (our favorite that we can rarely afford), produce, 2 HUGE jars of natural peanut butter, Ritz chips, Vanilla wafers, applesauce, granola bars, produce, chicken broth, crescent rolls, pasta sauce, french bread, salad dressing, 2 bottles of good olive oil, and 2 cans of vegetables, and I paid $40 (after I get the coupon money back).

I feel pretty good about it and we have a ton of snacks for our road trip to Texas this weekend.

Check out Southern Savers! There is an introductory video on the right side of her page. Watch that first — it will make it all less scary. J is totally on board with me too — and I feel excited when I get home from the grocery store, not ashamed or worried! That is a good feeling.

In the past I’ve spent about $50/week on groceries, which is a little high for just two of us, and I’m still sticking about to that, but I’m getting so much MORE for that money. My pantry/freezer/fridge are STOCKED. As I build up stock, I will be able to spend less and less each week.

Here’s to saving! I promise, it’s fun, rewarding … and slightly addictive. Give it a try!

– L

One Piece, Different Ways

I read Audrey’s Putting Me Together blog daily, and she has completely changed how I look at my closet! She is hosting a One Piece Different Ways linkup this week, and her post is here and you can see all the other posts who have linked there too. I wanted to try it, so this is my attempt!

I picked up this shirt on clearance at JCPenney. They were running an extra 50% off their clearance, AND they have a petite section, so I picked this up for about $3 bucks. I was so excited! So I wanted to challenge myself to see how many different ways I could wear it.

pants

First, I explored what different pants I could wear with it. Obviously, it works with jeans for a casual look. It has white in it so it works well with white jeans too. And here are the black pants that I talked about in this post! I love them.

skirts

Next, skirts. I’ve had this purple skirt for forever and it helps pull out the purple in the shirt. Jean skirts and a black straight skirt are so versatile! All of these are great for work or church.

layers

These I had to leave up to my imagination, because it’s about 170 degrees with 300% humidity in Tampa right now. But, I can imagine that a jean jacket works well with this. Another thing I love about white jeans — you can wear a denim jacket with it and not be blue denim from head to toe. The gray jacket helps because it’s 3/4 sleeve — something about having my elbows free makes me feel so much cooler. And a vest is a great way to add a layer without extra sleeves.

shirt

I also experimented with different ways to style the shirt itself. Loose, tucked, and belted. Tucking is a great way to lengthen the leg line because it makes your waistline higher. Belting has a similar effect.

necklaces

I experimented with different necklaces with it. I love the concept of statement necklaces but I’m starting small with the white one. The pendant was a gift and is made from an old piece of silverware and has an “L” stamped on it — love it! And you can never go wrong with pearls.

So there you have it! Over 10 ways to style one shirt. Try it out! It’s a great way to make yourself wear something in a new way.

Linking up with Putting Me Together’s OPDW and What I Wore Wednesday!

pleated poppy

Travel Tuesday

london

The first city we’re going to on our Europe trip is London! LONDON. I’m wondering what I will think when I get there, because my main impressions of London thus far have been from Jane Austen movies and have convinced me that London is filled with Mr. Darcys and Janes and balls and Pemberleys (okay, that was in Derbyshire, but you get the drift). It’s probably modernized slightly since the 1800s, but secretly, I hope not.

britmus

This is the British Museum. Well, I guess it has modernized a little. This will be our first stop in London.

chartwell

And then we will visit Chartwell, the Churchill estate. I’m so excited about this. Museums and exhibits are fascinating to me, but homes — that’s where history comes alive to me. I love how different people love history for different reasons. My advisor at college had an antique table in his office and he said he loved it because he loved examining it and figuring out how it was built. I looked at it and I imagined how many different families had sat at it, used it, the memories that had happened there. I am very people – oriented in my love of history, so homes are my favorite. That’s why I got married in front of one!

So here’s a few things Jon and I are going to see on our first day in London! Let me know if you’ve been there! What would you like to see in London?

“Wipe, wipe!”

I’ve been watching a lot of Monk recently so this post seems appropriate.

wipes

Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes

I love the convenience of makeup removal wipes at night. I hate getting makeup all over my washcloths. I usually wipe off the first layer of makeup, then wash with Dr. Bronner’s tea tree soap, then use Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner, then Burt’s Bees Spot Treatment. My skin is very sensitive, oily, and prone to breakouts, but this regimen is keeping me mostly under control.

I started using these a while back when they were running a promotion on the Burt’s Bees website for a pack of 10 for $3. I later realized that the 30-wipe pack was only $6, so I got a better deal that way. I’ve since found out my co-op sells these at a wholesale price, so I’m getting them for under $4, and I cut them in half, so I get 60 uses/2 months per pack.

I love that they don’t just say “all natural” or “made with natural ingredients” — they give a specific percentage, and it changes per product. That’s more realistic/honest to me. These are 99.7% natural and they don’t make me break out at all, like most makeup removal wipes do. If you have extremely sensitive skin, they also have a “sensitive” version.

For another options, my mom just started using some Seventh Generation makeup wipes that don’t make her skin irritated at all either. There’s always an all-natural option!

Happy Monday, y’all!