Adventure Time: Florida Edition (Round 4 – Family Visit)

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One of the views from the boardwalk at John’s Pass, the entertainment district of Madeira Beach. This is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

After resigning from my job on August 13th, I was asked to leave the company immediately. Given I had a bit of paid vacation ahead of me before starting my new job on September 3rd, I was toying with the idea of visiting my Grandpa Stricker in Florida. Thanks to the encouragement of Mom, Dad, and Al, I decided to book a flight and spend several days in the sunshine.

I flew down on Tuesday, August 27th. Southwest was great. I changed planes in Baltimore, and landed in Tampa a little earlier than scheduled. I rode the Super Shuttle with several people from the airport to Grandpa’s condo.

After I got settled, I caught up with my Aunt Marny. I hadn’t seen her in person since my wedding in 2015!

For dinner, we had amazing chicken salad from this place called Chicken Salad Chick. It started in Auburn, Alabama. It has 135 locations total, as far west as Texas and Oklahoma, and up through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio. There is one location in Virginia! If you live in the Richmond / Glen Allen areas, you’re in for a treat!

On Wednesday morning, Aunt Marny asked if I wanted to have brunch at the Sweet Sage Cafe and Boutique in North Redington Beach. I didn’t hesitate!

I had their delicious “two’s two’s” item, where I chose French toast, bacon, and yummy eggs. There was sangria, too.

A happy accident happened to me, too. I had been casually searching for a 4ocean bracelet after one of my co-workers at Riverside had bought one. The boutique sold them! I picked the green one, and found out later it’s the “sea turtle” one. Perfect!

One of the many funny signs inside the Sweet Sage Cafe.

The exterior is so colorful and calming.

Love Radar!

Hook, Line, and Drinker.

After brunch, we went to John’s Pass, the entertainment district of Madeira Beach.

Pelicans taking a rest.

A fun tiki bar boat tour.

A beautiful heron.

An old-fashioned taffy pulling machine in action.

On Wednesday night, we went to PJ’s Oyster Bar early for happy hour and seafood!

Aunt Marny and I both enjoyed a Yuengling. We all got something different – Grandpa had his shrimp, Marny got clam strips, and I got the crab cakes, fries, and Caesar salad.

There were Blues Brothers statues everywhere!

I had a really good trip. I’m glad I took the time to visit!

Have you visited Florida?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

Tag #86: Traveling Blog Journal

I was tagged by the amazing, talented Kristian for this post. Thank you, Kristian! Check out her blog at Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table.

Here’s the link to Kristian’s post where I was tagged:


This post was created by Nova. Her blog is Nova’s Namaste 365 Online.

Here’s the link to the original post:

This is what Nova has asked:

“I would love to pass a blog post, as if a journal, around. For the person tagged, I’d like you to just introduce yourself and tell us from what STATE/COUNTRY you reside. I’d like you to write something interesting about where you live once you’ve identified that. Then you can add a couple of your own details, if you’d like.

Each person who is tagged, please tag someone at the end of your post, and create a pingback to this post

Most of all,

Have Fun! 💖💚🌼

Thank you!!”


This is me:

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One of my all-time favorite photos. This was taken by my husband, Al, on Christmas Day 2012.

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro, smiling, closeup

This was taken after a fresh haircut in September 2016. I’m debating going back to this length.

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One of my favorite photos from our engagement shoot, July 2015. Credit: Stellar Exposures

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One of my favorites from our wedding day – November 14, 2015. Credit: Drew Brink

Image may contain: Laura Beth Vardaro and Al Vardaro, people smiling, people standing

Dancing at Nick and Savy’s wedding – October 14, 2017.

Image may contain: Al Vardaro and Laura Beth Vardaro, people smiling, dog, eyeglasses, beard and outdoor

The day we adopted our two furbabies – December 2, 2018. Al is holding Phineas and I’m holding Ferb. They are our goobers!

I love so many things.

God, and my relationship with Christ.

My parents, Jim and Karen.

My wonderful, amazing husband, Al.

My in-laws, Bruce and Debbie.

Our miniature pinschers, Phineas and Ferb.

So many family, friends, family friends, and church members.

Nature – Flowers, trees, dogs, cats, turtles, frogs, rainbows, sunshine, thunderstorms.


Where I Live – Virginia, U.S.A.

I currently live in Portsmouth, Virginia, in the United States. I’ve called the Hampton Roads area my home for the better part of 26 years. This is the southeastern part of the state. We are also known as the “Seven Cities” – Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, and Suffolk.

I’ve only lived in five other cities in my whole life – New York City (Governors Island), Alexandria in Northern Virginia, Chesapeake (where my parents still have the same house they purchased in 1992), Farmville in central Virginia to attend Longwood University (2007-2011), and a small apartment in Newport News (2013-2014).

My corner of Virginia gets a “taste” of all four seasons every year, but every year is different. There are years where we’ve had blizzards and nearly a foot of snow, multiple hurricanes, and brief hints of spring and autumn. Hampton Roads is surrounded by water on two sides – The Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean – plus multiple swamps, rivers, and creeks. To get most places, you have to cross at least one bridge or use a tunnel. We are about 45 minutes from the northeastern North Carolina border.

I enjoy living here for many reasons. One of the best is the rich history we have. Jamestown, Portsmouth, and Williamsburg are all part of the early settlers and colonial eras. Yorktown became famous during the Revolutionary War. Norfolk and Portsmouth have significant shipyards. All five branches of the military have bases or installations here – Air Force (Langley), Army (Fort Eustis), Coast Guard (Portsmouth), Marines (MAGTF), and Navy (Craney Island, Naval Station Norfolk, Oceana). NASA Langley is located in Hampton, and it recently celebrated its 100th Anniversary. I could go on for days and days. It’s a pretty cool place to live!


Thanks for this awesome opportunity, Nova and Kristian!

I invite Jenna, who is the author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, to continue this journal!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #237: “April WIP Writing Challenge: ‘Road Trip'”

Road Trip

Found through Didi Oviatt

Here’s the link to Didi’s challenge post:


As John finishing packing the Bel Air, Evelyn sat back in the passenger seat. She pressed her hands to my stomach, and sighed. She lost herself in her thoughts.

This is a good thing. I think. We both need to get away for a few days. Think about us. Think about the future. Our future child.

I know John’s been stressed about work. So have I. But, everyone needs a vacation now and then, right?

Evelyn’s thoughts were interrupted by the slam of the trunk.

John smiled at his beautiful fiancee as he opened the car door. Although he was an admitted workaholic, and recovering alcoholic, Evelyn’s idea to take a few days off felt good.

“Are you ready to hit the road, my dear?”

He leaned over to kiss Evelyn on the cheek. She smiled, and grabbed his hand. She moved it around her growing belly. The slightest butterfly kick startled them both.

“Oh, Evelyn! Wow. This is so neat. When did this start?”

She smiled.

“Last night. But you were sound asleep. I think this vacation is going to do some good. You haven’t slept well in months.”

John started the engine, and hung his head.

“Running a construction company is challenging. And we have lots of deadlines. But, for the next few days, we don’t have to worry about anything. Come on, darlin’, Let’s get out of the city!”

John carefully navigated the Bel Air out of Chicago. They didn’t really have a destination, just driving along Route 66 to see the sights. They both were long-overdue for some fresh air and R & R.

They played the radio for a while, but eventually encountered mostly static. Evelyn didn’t mind. She could see the stress slowly melting away from John, and that made her happier more than anything.

They both worked hard at John’s company, and they fell hard for each other shortly after Evelyn was hired. Several months ago, through a co-worker, Evelyn figured out she was pregnant.

Thankfully, John was a good man. He not only stuck around, but he’d proposed at the groundbreaking of their biggest project – A new, innovative, revolutionary neighborhood designed for everyone.

Evelyn was lost in thought again when the radio went from static to music again. She smiled, and reached for John’s hand. Her beautiful engagement ring sparkled in the spring sunshine.

“Do you have the map, dear?”

Evelyn leaned forward and pulled out the road map. It was well-worn. John had used it many times on his travels back and forth from Chicago to other architectural sights. His biggest “hero” was Frank Lloyd Wright.

However, taking this trip on Route 66 was different. And in the best way. John smiled, stealing glances at his pregnant bride-to-be. This trip would be legendary. A few days away on the surface, but one of the first trips with Evelyn, out of the city, and not on business.

As the sun started to set, she started to notice the colorful, painted billboards for a diner and a motel next door. Evelyn laughed, putting a hand on her stomach again.

“Our child is signaling they’re hungry, dear. And I am, too.”

John smiled and took her hand.

“We’re in for the adventure of our lives, dear. Let’s eat. And celebrate.”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

 

 

Tag #84: The Wanderlust Tag

The Wanderlust Tag

Thanks, Sara, for tagging me!

Here’s the link to Sara’s post, where I was tagged:


The Rules

  • Mention the creator of the tag and link back to original post [Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight]
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
  • Tag 5+ friends

Secrets and Lies | A book set in a sleepy small town

Bonfire

Bonfire, Krysten Ritter

I felt as if I was dropped head-first into Barrens, Indiana, and experiencing everything in this small town with the main character.

Salt and Sand | A book with a beachside community

The Runaway Maryellen

The Runaway: A Maryellen MysteryAlison Hart

Maryellen’s world is set in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Here There Be Dragons | A book with a voyage on the high seas

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Amazon

The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

This book is primarily set on an inaugural voyage, so this one definitely qualifies.

Tread Lightly | A book set down in a murky river or a jungle

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Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

I was assigned to read this in my senior year of high school. This was one book that creeped me out for a good while, long after I finished reading it.

Frozen Wastes | A book with a frostbitten atmosphere

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Christmas After All: The Great Depression Diary of Minnie Swift, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1932, Kathryn Lasky

Reading the fictional account of Minnie and her family during The Great Depression in 1932 made me shiver, in more ways than one.

The Boonies | A book with rough or isolated terrain

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The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

District 12 is definitely rough and isolated. So are many other places in Panem.

Hinterlands and Cowboys | A book with a Western-esque setting

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Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx

Set in the Wyoming mountains, this is one of a handful of books I think of when I imagine the American West.

Look Lively | A book across sweeping desert sands

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Under a Painted Sky, Stacey Lee

I haven’t read this book, but I really want to.

Wild and Untamed | A book set in the heart of the woods

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Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson

If you haven’t read this book, it’s a good one. It’s an emotional coming-of-age story, but this book made my imagination run wild. I turned the city park behind my house into my own Terabithia for years afterward, creating stories in my notebooks.

Wildest Dreams | A whimsical book shrouded in magic

Fallible Justice, Laura Laakso

I received this book as an ARC (My first-ever ARC!) from the publisher last year. This book is a fresh perspective on magic, the paranormal, and mystery. I’m so excited this book is part of a paranormal investigation series!


Tag – You’re It!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #208: Romantic Movies (Day 8)

Romantic Movies

Image by Nietjuh on Pixabay

Dirty Dancing (1987)

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Oh my word. This movie!

Much like Footloose, I memorized much of the soundtrack before seeing the movie in full.

I didn’t see the movie in full until I was well into college. Now it’s one of my favorite movies, and definitely a guilty pleasure.

While at Longwood, I had the great opportunity to attend the annual S.E.A.L. Leadership Conference twice, once as an attendee, and another time as a workshop presenter. The cool thing? The conference was held at Mountain Lake, near Pembroke, Virginia, where portions of the movie were filmed! They have Dirty Dancing Themed Weekends, and I’d love to do that someday.

When I joined the Longwood chapter of Alpha Sigma Tau, we participated in a fun event called “Greek Sync,” where many of the fraternities and sororities would select a group of members, and the groups would choreograph and perform a routine to that year’s theme. During my first semester as a sister in 2009, we used part of “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” as our opening number of our performance, where Erica and Kirk, one of the sorority sister-fraternity brother couples, performed part of the dance that was in the movie. Ironically, when we were first starting rehearsals and decided to have this part in our performance, we were watching the movie so Erica could learn the dance moves. We found out that night Patrick Swayze died! We all cried our eyes out. None of us could watch the movie again for at least a week!

Back to the movie!

Patrick Swayze sets my heart on fire. May he Rest in Peace!

Jennifer Grey truly comes of age in this movie! I’m always jealous of their dancing skills!

It’s a good story, of course. And I love the scenery!

I shameless sing along to every song in this movie, especially “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.”

I want to watch this movie again, right now!


Come back tomorrow for a new movie!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #161: “Way in the lake, Lipnik Park in Ruse, Bulgaria” (Reblogged)

I feel at peace when I’m surrounded by nature, especially water, trees, or both.

This photo also symbolizes a path. A path, a journey to the other side.

We are all on our own journeys. The good thing? We can choose our paths. We have that choice. No one can take that away from us.

I’m constantly inspired by nature and landscapes. This particular photo looks like it was taken in autumn, when the leaves are changing colors and the trees are changing seasons. Here in Virginia, we don’t always experience four seasons. But, the trees do. I like to think so, anyway.


What’s your favorite season?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Just Wunderlust

Way in the lake, Lipnik Park in Ruse, Bulgaria

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Writing Prompt #197: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 28)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 28 – Your favorite theme park

Image result for disney world

Image result for disney world

Disney World!

We went to Disney for part of our honeymoon in November 2016. You can read more in my Adventure Time post. Here’s some photos!

All of Disney World had their Christmas decorations up! This was just beyond the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.

All of Disney World had their Christmas decorations up! This was just beyond the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.

The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree. Every park had a huge tree, and they were all different!

The Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree. Every park had a huge tree, and they were all different!

Expedition Everest! We were in the front row! It was an awesome ride.

Expedition Everest! We were in the front row! It was an awesome ride.

First in line for MuppetVision 3D!

First in line for MuppetVision 3D!

Pixar Studios! This place was nuts. We wanted to do Toy Story Midway Mania!, but it was over an hour wait!

Pixar Place! This place was nuts. We wanted to do Toy Story Midway Mania!, but it was over an hour wait! I guess we just have to come back again …

The amazing model railroad in Germany!

The amazing model railroad in Germany!

Obligatory.

Obligatory. Spaceship Earth!

We are planning to go back to Disney in the fall of 2020, to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary and experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the first time!


Come back tomorrow for a new post!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂