Category: travel

Glen Rose Getaway – Dining at the Riverhouse Grill

Recently, Jed and I went on a little weekend getaway, a baby moon of sorts.  We wanted to keep it close by and frugal, so we went for one night to Glen Rose, a little town southwest of Ft. Worth.  We stayed at a phenomenal bed and breakfast that I’ll tell you about later, and had so much fun wandering around a new town.  We found the Riverhouse Grill just off the main square for lunch, and we so pleased with everything they offered.  The restaurant is family run out of a 100 year old house and features fresh, local, creatively prepared food.  

  Jed picked the chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and then went double carb with the mac and cheese au gratin.  He loved all of it, but said the mac and cheese was the best he has ever eaten.  Seriously.  He let me try it and it was out of control good.  I don’t know what they did to it, but it can’t be good for you, and made us both want to lick the dish.

 I had the ultimate ham sandwich with parmesan truffle fries.  Wow.  The sandwich was on fresh whole grain bread with 3 different kinds of cheese, local ham, and fresh apple slices.  The fries had a savory flavor from the truffles that was amazing.

If you are ever in Glen Rose, I highly recommend stopping at the Riverhouse Grill.  I love supporting small town, family run places, and this one is a winner for sure.

What is your favorite off-the-beaten-path restaurant?

Frugal Friday – Cheap Getaways

As you probably know by now, we are on a pretty strict budget saving for the arrival of Bun and for our first house. We still like to have fun and manage to do so quite often. When we were in my home state of Arkansas recently we took a little day trip that was almost free. If you aren’t from “The Natural State” you may not know that Arkansas is blessed with many great state parks and beautiful scenery. This was December, so the scenery was not at its peak, but it was still a lovely getaway. We drove up to Petit Jean State Park with my parents, and packed snacks and drinks for the road. The park was empty even though it was a lovely day (note Jed’s outfit) and we had plenty of space to explore without being disturbed.
Aren’t my parents the cutest? They did a great job instilling a love of the outdoors into all 4 of us kids with camping, canoeing, and hiking throughout our childhoods. I asked them about it, and they said it was just the most practical type of getaway with 4 kids, because the lodging is cheap and the entertainment is free.
It was so good for my soul to get away from concrete and enjoy the woods for a day. I love Dallas, but I miss nature.
Jed gets to have little adventures climbing everything in site and looking over the edge. I don’t think the little boy inside ever leaves the man.

We haven’t yet found any favorite state parks to explore in Texas.
Does anyone have a good recommendation close to the DFW area?
What is your favorite cheap getaway?

The Best of Beach Week Part II: Recipes

I am loving all the great posts linked up to Beach Week! Here are some of the great beachy recipes.
I am completely blown away by these key lime cupcakes at Not Just Paper and Glue. I really want to try this recipe.

How fun are these surfboard cookies?! Check them out here at Memories by Anna Dawn.

This pina colada shake by Frenchy at Le Chateau des Fleurs is the ultimate summer treat.
Check out all the great beachy posts linked up to Beach Week here.

Frugal Friday – Saving Vacation Memories

As you have read, we were blessed to go on a fabulous beach vacation to Mexico this summer. It was incredible, and I wanted to find a way to include the memories of this trip in our home decor. I found a 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby when they already had all frames and shadowboxes marked 50% off. Awesome! I saved the free maps and brochures that we collected on our trip to use as a background collage. Using Mod Podge, I attached them to a sheet of cardstock. I added the shells we found while snorkeling, and ended up with a super cheap and easy vacation memory collage. I’ve tried scrapbooking in the past, and always found myself spending way too much money and never finishing the thing. This was much cheaper and I actually completed it in a timely fashion.

How do you preserve your vacation memories?

I’m linking to some great parties. Check out the full list here.

Hodge Podge Friday

> Photobucket

A Little Oil Doesn’t Scare Us – Our Navarre Beach Vacation

My family has taken a Florida beach vacation almost every year since I was a toddler. We used to go to Destin, but now prefer Navarre Beach. It is a lovely piece of land that is much less crowded and has no traffic. We love it.
This year we almost didn’t go because of the oil spill. We thought that there would be oil everywhere and the beach would be ruined. Thankfully we had a great real estate agent who kept us updated on the real beach conditions, even sending pictures. With her encouragement we decided to go for it.

We saw very little oil and had a amazing week of sand, sun, and fun together. Perfection.

Jed learned how to snorkel and collected so many shells to add to our collection.
Sweet Caroline, our niece, loved her first beach experience. She played in the sand and loved the water.

The water was so calm and clear by the end of the week that the snorkeling was just awesome.
The clean up crews were everywhere, keeping the beach spotless. Their tent was just down the beach from us. You can see it in the left side of the picture above.





This was our incredible house. My parents and their best friends the Filipeks rented it for all of us to enjoy. We are so blessed.


This tent has been through many Short/Filipek beach vacations. It is a lifesaver in the hot Florida sun.

We went crab hunting one night, and it was so much fun. We hadn’t done it in years and had forgotten how much fun it was.



Here we are, the Shorts and Filipeks, now with the addition of the Johnsons and the Ebys. We have been going on vacation together since Sarah and I (the oldest kids in each family) were 4. That year was 1983, my friends. Each family has four kids, and now 2 of those kids have babies of their own. We play on the beach all day, play board games and watch movies, cook fresh seafood every night, and enjoy each others’ company.

Does your family have any vacation traditions?

How to take your own beach photos without harassing strangers or hiring professionals.

We’ve all been there. You are on vacation, wanting a group photo or a couple photo, but left without anyone to take it. If you go on a trip as a couple, you end up with lots of photos of one of you while the other holds the camera. I take tons of pictures and Jed always feels awkward posing by himself. We have harassed strangers to take our picture more times than I could even count. They always end up cutting off someone’s head. Then you feel bad making them do it over again. We know people who hire professional photographers to come and take their family beach photos. That is not exactly in our budget. This summer, we found a solution to this quandary.
No, we did not ask a stranger to watch us make out. We did a 15 minute photo shoot on our own on the beach in Playa del Carmen.
This is the group that went on our family vacation to Navarre Beach, FL. Do you know how long it takes to get a group this big to pose and smile at the same time? It takes a while.

Our new solution is two words:
tripod
timer

We bought a small compact tripod for $20. It folds down to pack easily in a suitcase or carry-on. I can even carry it in my purse. How did I not think of this before? We simply set the tripod up on a beach chair or deck and found the angle and height that we needed.

My camera has a 10 second timer setting, so it gives me plenty of time to run back and join the photo. It took me a little while to get the hang of setting it and running, but thankfully I have a patient husband. For a big group photo, you just get 1 person to stand there while you set it up, then bring out the rest of the troops when the camera is ready. Make a place for yourself to jump in, and go for it.

There you have it. It isn’t rocket science, but it saved me a ton of headaches and stranger harassment this summer. My other beach photo tip is to take stage your shoot in the morning or evening, rather than midday. The light will be much more flattering.

How cute is this instant scrapbook page from picnik.com?! Seriously.

Do you have any beach photo tips? Share them with us!

Don’t forget to link your beach posts to the Beach Week Link Party!

I’m linking to some great parties. Check them out here.

bare feet at the beach

i’m at the beach with my extended family this week, praying for no oil. it will be a week of sun, sand, waves, conversations, fun, catching up, playing, and all around good times. i won’t be on the computer much, but i’ve got some great posts scheduled, so stay tuned. feel free to grab my new beachy button from the sidebar, if you would like to display it. thanks for reading!

travel adventures – the mayan city of tulum

on our recent trip to mexico we visited the ancient mayan city of tulum.
the city was built around 900 a.d.
now it is only inhabited by iguanas.


i love the sense of history you get walking around in a place where people lived so long ago. we miss out on this so much in the u.s.a. here we put a plaque on a building if someone lived there 100 years ago.

the mayans built their city right on the beach,
with protection provided by high cliffs.
they were an advanced people who developed a calendar, understood the concept of zero, and spoke and wrote a language that is still used today.
apparently they loved the beach.




tulum is one of the prettiest places i’ve ever been.
the combination of the ancient buildings with the rugged cliffs
and gorgeous aquamarine water is awe inspiring.

i definitely recommend a visit to tulum or one of the other
mayan ruins on your next trip to mexico.
have you ever visited a place that gave you a sense of history?

vamos a la playa! – our vacation in mexico

we have been from our beach vacation for a week and a half.
i want to go back.
we spent a glorious week at the sandos playacar all-inclusive resort
outside of playa del carmen, mexico.
the vacation was our reward for finishing the first 3 baby steps in dave ramsey’s total money makeover. we are debt free and have an emergency fund of 3 months expenses. it was a difficult 9 month journey to get here, but we are so grateful to be financially free.

here’s a lovely little church in playa del carmen.

there were shows and live bands at the resort every night.

we ate waaaay too much, including these sweet treats.
i gained literally a pound per day.

these gorgeous orange flowers were everywhere.
aren’t they beautiful?! i love them.
laura over at gringation cancun is always posting pics of these trees.

the beach was rough the first few days with winds leftover from hurricane alex. things calmed down at the end of the week, and the water was perfect.
this was my first experience with an all-inclusive resort, and i loved it. it made everything so simple and affordable. we didn’t have to worry about making frugal decisions at every meal, and the overall price was really great. the resort really had everything we needed.
i’ll post more about the vacation later, i’m sure.
playa del carmen has now been added my list of favorite destinations.
here are a few others:
destin, florida
navarre beach, florida
barcelona, spain
madrid, spain
charleston, south carolina
gruene, texas
petit jean state park, morrilton, arkansas

what is your favorite vacation destination?

i’m linking to some great blog parties. check them out here.

the biggest loser

this past weekend we went to little rock to celebrate several birthdays (marci, dad, and joyce) with folks we love. my brother chris and his wife emily were in town as well, with our precious niece in tow. caroline is the prettiest baby ever, though i will admit i’m biased. the best part of the weekend was the quality time with some of my favorite people. the second best thing was seeing the change in my dad. right after christmas he joined a gym and started working out almost every day. he and my mom changed their eating habits to concentrate on making healthy choices. my daddy has lost 36 pounds since the beginning of january! he has struggled with his weight my entire life, as well as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a host of other weight caused issues. he went to the doctor and all of his levels were already back into the healthy range! amazing! we had to buy him new clothes for his birthday because the old ones were falling off. i am so incredibly proud of him and my mom for changing their lifestyle. they are such an inspiration to me. now if i can just get moving myself…

the proud grandparents – dede and papa john

aunt becca and baby caroline