Spring Break 2018

Hi friends! How have y’all been? Well I hope!

This last week was our spring break at school and I want to share all the fun adventures we had!

One of my roommates, Rachel (we call her Ray Bay,) and I traveled to Mercedes, Texas, where her grandparents live at a senior citizen park as well as South Padre Island and Mexico. It was a ton of fun, so let’s get started! Warning: this is a long one, but there are lots of pictures!

We flew out on Friday evening from Indy. Funny enough, the 2018 NFL scouting combine was going on that week in Indy, so there were a ton of football players in the airport flying back home. There were several on our first flight to Dallas. They were huge!! One of them had to help me get my carry on down from the overhead bin because it was stuck lol. We arrived in Dallas a few hours later and then caught our connecting flight to Brownsville, TX. It was a little before 1am when we arrived and we still had a 45 minute drive to Ray Bay’s grandparents’ house. It was around 1:30 when we went to sleep, but it was really 2:30 in our minds because of the time change, so we were exhausted!!

The next day we basically spent the entire day by the pool. The weather was beautiful – not too hot, but definitely spring break weather. Of course, being a ginger, I burn easily so the first day out I got a little red. We went to Cheddar’s for dinner that night. Ray Bay and I both got Monte Cristo sandwiches and they were delicious! I had never tried the raspberry preserve with it before, but it was so good! Such an unexpected combination. I think I drank like 8 sweet teas while I was there – they were sooo sweet, just the way I like it.

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Beautiful day at the pool

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On Sunday we went to church and then to a flea market nearby. There were all sorts of vendors there. They had fresh produce, t-shirts, sunglasses, and more. They have the best oranges I’ve ever tasted here! They’re so juicy. We got to try some while we were there. Almost all of their fruit is so much bigger and better down there because that’s where it’s grown. There were orange trees all over the place near Ray Bay’s grandparents’ park. Ray Bay found an Army Nurses Corp hat and a pair of sunglasses for $10 each. I didn’t buy anything because I was saving my money for the outlet mall and Mexico. After we got back, we went to the pool for the remainder of the day and ordered pizza for dinner that night.

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Flea market
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Flea market
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The delicious oranges!

Monday morning we had a yummy breakfast of pancakes and scrambled eggs with fresh squeezed orange juice. To top the pancakes, we had “strawberry syrup”. It’s not actually syrup, it’s just strawberries mashed up combined with sugar – it’s delicious. We were spoiled and had a home cooked breakfast almost every day! We spent almost the whole day at the pool again – no complaining here! Later that night, we went to a Tex Mex place for dinner and it was so good!!

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The “strawberry syrup” I mentioned

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This was called the “Yasss entree” and I can see why. It was delicious!

After dinner, we went back to the park for beanbag baseball. I had never heard of beanbag baseball before, so I thought we were literally going to be hitting beanbags and running bases. But that’s not what it is at all lol. It’s similar to corn hole, but there are multiple holes in the board labeled “Out, Foul Ball, Single, Double, Triple and Home Run.” You get three bean bags to toss and the “bases” are chairs set up around the board. Apparently I discovered my new hidden talent because I hit the home run hole about 7 or 8 times! All the residents loved it. Whenever anyone was about to score, two people had to meet them at third, link arms with them and escort them to home plate. It was so great. My team won both games.

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Beanbag baseball board
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Linking arms to go to home plate

The weather for Wednesday was cloudy and rainy, so we went to the outlet mall for the day. There was one store there that I had never heard of called “Papaya,” which is similar to Forever 21. Ray Bay and I hadn’t even made it halfway through the store yet and we already had armfuls of clothes to try on. Everything was so cute and really cheap! I bought a denim dress, denim utility shirt and two pairs of jean shorts. We stopped at Forever 21 as well where I bought a pair of short overalls and a white and black t-shirt to wear underneath. I must really like denim because I realized after I got back and laid everything out that almost everything I bought was denim! Ray Bay bought a really nice green Nike quarter zip, a really cute pair of jean shorts with embroidered flowers on them, a top with a funny saying on it, a pair of flowy navy blue shorts with a white design on them and a blue romper with floral design on it.

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My armful of clothes to try on
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Ray Bay’s finds
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My finds

For lunch we decided to get Whataburger because neither one of us had had it before. It was pretty good! Nothing too fancy, but I’m glad I got to experience it!

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We went to Olive Garden for dinner that night. I got the lasagna and it was delicious.

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Every Tuesday and Thursday the park has a Texas Holdem night, which we were planning on going to. I had never played before though, so Ray Bay and her grandpa gave me a 5 minute crash course at Olive Garden of how to play haha! The waitress was laughing at us. After we got back, we went to poker. I was so nervous because I still didn’t really know what I was doing and most of the players were older, intimidating-looking guys who had been playing for years. However, I did fairly well! I got some beginners luck and finished 3rd out of 9 at my table. Ray Bay won high hand that night and won almost $40!

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Ray Bay with her winning pot

Wednesday morning we got up early to go to Mexico! I had never been before so I was really excited. It was only about a 10-15 minute drive from their house.

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The Rio Grande River. It’s much smaller than you would think!

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The sidewalks are filled with vendors selling authentic Mexican crafts, pottery, and food as well as (most likely knock off) purses and clothing. Ray Bay and I both bought a hand made, hand painted mug for $5.

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Hand painted using spray paint
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Hand painted using spray paint
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Beautiful hand made, hand painted mugs Ray Bay and I bought

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One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen is the street artists that paint pictures from spray paint using things like plastic bags and magazine paper as their “paintbrushes.” The paintings are truly beautiful and I was mesmerized by how they did it. I bought a small painting for $6.

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The guy who made the painting I bought
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The painting I bought – so beautiful!

Ray Bay and I both bought (again, most likely knock off, but who cares lol) Michael Kors purses for around $20. Hers was a dark brown full size one and mine was a beige smaller, shoulder bag. I really enjoyed the time in Mexico and would love to go back some time.

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The purse I bought

After we got back, we ate some sandwiches for lunch and headed to the pool! We were there for several hours before going to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. I got the pulled pork sandwich and it was giant! It was way bigger than I was expecting, but so good – definitely worth it.

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I brought a few books to read with me while at the pool
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The pulled pork sandwich was amazing!

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Thursday morning we left early to go deep sea fishing off of South Padre Island. I had never been fishing before, so I was excited. However, it wasn’t very successful for any of us because we didn’t catch anything. When we were trying to get the boat back onto the trailer, one of the ropes accidentally got caught in the motor, so Ray Bay had to come to the rescue and jump in and untangle it.

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Filter courtesy of Snapchat lol

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When we got back, we just chilled for a while until dinner – we made tacos! Then we were off to poker again. My beginner’s luck didn’t help me out much this time – I placed 7th out of 9 haha.

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On Friday we went to South Padre Island. We stopped at a sea turtle rescue center first. It was super neat! They rescue sea turtles that are injured or stranded and help rehabilitate them until they are ready to be returned to the ocean. I had never seen sea turtles in person before so it was such a cool experience!

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We were so close to them!

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This is Allison. She is the first sea turtle to get a prosthetic flipper!

Afterwards, we stopped at McDonald’s for a quick lunch and went exploring along the shopping strip of the island. Most of the stores were the stereotypical touristy island stores. They all pretty much had some of the same clothing items, but were all different prices. So we went to almost every store twice. We would see a shirt we liked at one store, but had to see if it was cheaper at another store. We went all over that island. Ray Bay and I both bought ombre long sleeve shirts and crew neck sweatshirts. After we shopped til we dropped, we stopped at Dairy Queen and got ice cream cones. For dinner that night we had jumbo shrimp.

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Saturday the high was 93 degrees so we hung out at the pool the whole day. It was a great way to spend our last day of break. I was pretty burnt by the end of the week so I had to spend most of the time either in the pool or in the cabana. I literally went through an entire can of sunscreen and still got burnt.

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My view from the cabana

For dinner that night we went to a place called Stefano’s. It’s a really nice Italian/pizza place located in an old house. They automatically give you these delicious rolls with marinara sauce, but we also got mozzarella sticks and spinach artichoke dip for our appetizers. Apparently we love carbs. I ordered the chicken alfredo pizza, which was delicious. After we were throughly stuffed, we headed back to get some sleep because we had to get up at 5am for our flight and were going to lose an hour because of Daylight Savings Time.

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My chicken alfredo pizza

The next morning came way too early. Our first flight left at 7am and after our connecting flight and driving back to school, we got back go school around 6:30pm. It was a great trip and I’m so glad I got to go! It was full of lots of first for me and I would love to go back some time. I’m so thankful Ray Bay invited me to go and for her grandparents’ hospitality.

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Hope y’all are having a great week!

xoxo,

Alyssa

The Glitz at Irish Acres

Hey y’all!

Can you believe Christmas is just two days away?!??! TWO!! I can’t believe it. This year has absolutely flown by.

I wanted to share about a place my friends, Sabrina and Betsy and I visited last week, called The Glitz at Irish Acres. This part antique store, part restaurant is located in Nonesuch, KY (about 30 minutes from Lexington.)

To give a little history, the building itself used to be an elementary school and was eventually bought by Bonnie and Arch Hannigan in 1984. They transformed the building into an antique gallery and “tearoom” and opened for the first time in 1986.

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Now when I say antiques, these aren’t the type of antiques us farmhouse style gals obsess over—they’re more Victorian-esque. The gallery is filled with beautiful dishes, intricate glass figurines, hand-crafted jewelry and much more. When we visited, it was decorated for Christmas so they had several Christmas trees set up with beautifully delicate ornaments. The whole shop is so beautiful; there are plenty of places to take pictures.

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One of the whimsical Christmas trees they had decorated
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An example of what a room in the gallery looks like not during Christmas.
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A beautifully decorated staircase

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The Glitz is open Wednesday-Saturday 11am-1:30pm for lunch. You must call ahead to make a reservation. Their menu changes tri-weekly and features locally grown products. Lunch will cost you $22.95 plus tax per person and includes a full-course meal (appetizer through dessert.) It’s really not a bad deal when you consider how much food you receive.

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The place setting

You will want to arrive 10-20 minutes early so you can browse the antique shop ahead of time. There are also many “backroads” you have to take in order to get there, so I would allow yourself extra time to navigate them (especially during the winter.) I would also recommend taking an earlier reservation (we chose 11:30am) so it’s not as crowded. By the time we were finished, the place was packed!

The restaurant is located underground and has almost a castle-like feel! The walls are made of stone and are elegantly decorated with many lights and pink orbs. It reminded me of a combination of the Cake Bake Shop in Indianapolis, IN and Shakespeare and Co. in Lexington.

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The dining area.
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The hostess stand area where you wait to be seated.
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Another dining area, for larger groups.

Once you are seated, you automatically are served a glass of their spiced apple refresher, a secret family recipe. It is quite delicious! Betsy and I both got the Pasta Rotolo for the appetizer and Sabrina got the Brie Cheese. It was very delicious!

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Spiced apple refresher
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The appetizer: pasta rotolo (ham and cheese rolled up in pasta noodles with alfredo sauce)

For our main entrée, we all three got Chicken Parmesan. Again, it was very good. Lastly, for dessert, we all three got different things so we could try them all. I got their famous Nonesuch Kiss: jamocha ice cream with meringue, topped with hot fudge and nut pieces. Sabrina got Grandma’s Christmas Cake, a caramel flavored cake with caramel sauce on top. Betsy got the Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with chocolate wafers in it. They were all superb!

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The entrée: chicken parmesan
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My dessert: Nonesuch Kiss
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Betsy’s dessert: peppermint stick ice cream
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Sabrina’s dessert: Grandma’s Christmas Cake

I would highly recommend lunch at the Glitz! It’s a great place for a girl’s day out, mother/daughter date or a birthday outing. It’s just so fun to get all fancied up and go out with your girlfriends to eat some delicious food! (It’s not a requirement to dress nicely, but many people do.) The experience is well worth it!!

Visit their website or call to make a reservation!

Have a very Merry Christmas y’all!

xoxo,

Alyssa

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The Amsden Grand Opening

Hey y’all!

Saturday, November 25th was Small Business Saturday, a day in which community members are encouraged to shop local and support small businesses.

This day was also the grand opening of a new shop called The Amsden in downtown Versailles, KY where Emily Riddle and her husband, Alex, are co-owners. They completely renovated the historic building, built in 1890, and restored the character of its original design.

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Emily Riddle and her husband, Alex
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The original Amsden building

Emily is the mind behind Miss Molly Vintage, a vintage boutique in Lexington. She has her own blog as well. I follow her on Instagram too so I have been obsessing about this opening for months now!

Below are some photos of the beautiful detail of the renovation:

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How amazing is this tile?!?! I can’t handle it!
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I loooove the exposed original brick and lath ceiling
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The string lights are a wonderful touch
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Love the combination of the tile and marble countertops!
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Beautiful original stained glass windows

The Amsden is a unique space that includes a coffee shop and retail area, called Gathered Mercantile, where vendors can rent spaces to sell their own items. Upstairs is more retail space as well as a bourbon bar coming soon!

Some of the vendors of Gathered Mercantile include: Shop Twenty Something, Kindred Spirits and Co., Designs by Ali Rose, Blush Box and Co., Kayla Weber Art, Lexington Design Co., and many more! Items for sale range from home decor items, Christmas decor, clothing items, jewelry, design prints, and my personal favorite, a fresh flower bar!

Before opening The Amsden, the Miss Molly Vintage shop was located at Feather Your Nest in Lexington, a retail space comprised of multiple vendors. Emily said, “As soon as I started planning the retail portion of the Amsden, I knew a collection of local vendors, makers, and artists would be the core of the space.  I’ve always loved featuring and promoting other local brands through Miss Molly Vintage and have wholesaled many of the vendors who will be featured at Gathered Mercantile.  Giving each vendor more of an opportunity to have a permanent space that they can really make their own is an important element of our store.”

Guys everything in here is so beautiful!! Here are some photos from their opening:

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Christmas decor
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How adorable is this fireplace?!
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Fresh flower bar. I LOVE this idea!!
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Beautiful jewelry from Designs by Ali Rose
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Love this little flocked Christmas tree with these signs from The Junq Drawer
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More signs from the Junq Drawer
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Items from Bluegrass Market
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I absolutely love this vintage sled and will definitely have one in my own house one day!
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The horse heads with scarves was a cute touch. I love the marquis board as well!
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Coffee shop area
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How beautiful is this vintage sink for these fresh blooms?!
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Here’s a better view of the simplistic coffee menu

One of the things I love about small businesses is how personal they are in that the owner is right in the middle of everything. With larger businesses, owners are more likely to be behind the scenes. I got to meet Emily at the check out and she is the absolute sweetest!! I’m not kidding when I first saw her I kinda freaked out inside because I’ve followed her for a while it was almost like meeting a celebrity haha.

I literally wanted to buy everything in the shop, but I obviously don’t have enough money for that with my college student budget, so I bought this adorable pine wreath!

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The grand opening went better than they could have ever imagined, going through over a month’s worth of supplies the first day!!

I have a dream about opening up my own shop one day so I wanted to ask Emily some questions about how she got her start. Her answers are below:

  1. How did the idea of opening your own store go from dream to reality?

“I have always had the dream/idea of owning my own business since I was a little girl.  The problem was narrowing down my many ideas and passions.  I was patient and wanted to wait until the perfect time and opportunity.  I think it worked out for the best because I was able to develop a good following through social media and really get people excited about the businesses.  The Amsden building had been for sale since we moved to Versailles but after the price was cut in half, we made an offer before we even knew what to do with it!  After walking through a few more times, I developed a vision for the space and felt like it was the right fit for my first storefront.”

  1. How did you get your start blogging and how did you become more “noticed”?

“I started blogging in 2014 after deciding to leave my part-time job and focus on Miss Molly Vintage full-time.  At the time, Miss Molly Vintage was just my booth space in Feather Your Nest, but I knew I wanted to expand the shop to online and add a blog and decorating services.  I really didn’t feel like I got “noticed” until I started posting about our home renovation last year and people really latched on to that.”

  1. What advice would you give to someone who has the dream opening up their own store one day?

“Be ready to work!  I enjoy all aspects of the retail business but some are definitely more fun than others.  I’m learning to delegate more, especially with tasks that I don’t enjoy as much or am not as good at.  Mostly, if you are passionate about something and believe in your vision, you are bound to succeed.”

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Emily after the grand opening

You can view The Amsden’s website and Emily’s blog at: https://www.theamsden.com and http://www.gatheredky.com

Get out and visit The Amsden at 151 S Main St in Versailles!

Don’t forget to support your local small businesses!

xoxo,
Alyssa

My 21st Birthday Weekend! 🎉

Hey y’all! 🙂

My 21st birthday was Monday, October 23rd. I had an amazing birthday weekend and would like to share it with you!

It all started Saturday when I left school to drive home. I had to get up pretty early, so I grabbed some Starbucks and hit the road before the sun came up! The first thing I did when I got home was go to the Vintage Market Days of Lexington Event. If you want to read about that, you can find a post about it here.

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After shopping until we dropped, we turned around and went to Evan’s Orchard in Georgetown. I had never been here before, but heard good things about it, so I thought I would give it a try. I will say, if you decide to go, whatever you do, do not go on a Saturday afternoon. Literally all of Georgetown was there. And the children. SO MANY CHILDREN. It was extremely overwhelming. We still had a great time, it was just extremely crowded. We wandered through the apple orchard, picked out some pumpkins, and bought some apple cider donuts and apple cider. I love apple cider donuts!

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The apple orchard

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This is the first picture I took. Not manipulated at all. I didn’t really like how some of the apples were rotting and gross looking so I tried taking a different one with better looking apples (see below)
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This is the picture with the nice looking apples. To me, this looks too staged. This taught me that not everything has to look perfect. There is beauty in imperfection!
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I snuck a bite out of one 😉

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A giant pile of pumpkins!
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The process of trying to take a cute pic on the pile of pumpkins

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We were laughing at how far away Betsy was from us haha

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Apple cider donuts and a small sampling of apple cider
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Sabrina risked her life taking this picture (she is extremely allergic to hay haha)
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Eating our yummy treats!

Later that night, my family and I went to Mi Pequeña Hacienda for my birthday dinner. I had only been there once before, but I’m always down for Mexican food. We got an appetizer of chips and guacamole dip. I absolutely love guacamole, so that was a real treat. For my main dish, I got pollo con arroz (chicken with rice). I thought it was funny because the Mexican restaurant in Marion, where I go to school, Casa Brava, has the same dish, but switched: arroz con pollo. It’s one of their most popular dishes and I get it every time I go there. So I decided to try it at Mi Pequeña Hacienda to see if it was on par with Casa’s.

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Guacamole dip
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Pollo con arroz

The pollo con arroz was good, but I have to say Casa’s is definitely better. The portion size is bigger, there is a lot more queso on top and the vegetables are smaller, so it’s easier to eat.

After dinner, we went back to the house to open cards/presents and had cake and ice cream. We had my favorite: chocolate cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream.

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I forgot to take a picture while the candles were still lit

On Sunday, after church and lunch, Sabrina and I went to Keeneland, the horse racing track in Lexington. I absolutely love going to Keeneland. I love horses and there is just something fun about getting dressed up. Unfortunately, I didn’t have nearly as much luck as I did last time we went when it came to betting. We still had a great time though! The weather was also great considering it was a fall meet. We were actually hot at some points!

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One of the horses I bet on (I don’t remember if he won or not)

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After we were done at Keeneland, I headed out to go back to school. When I arrived, I was so exhausted! I had jam-packed so many things in such a short amount of time, my energy level was pretty low. A good night’s sleep was just what I needed to feel rested on my birthday.

On Monday, my birthday, I got up a little earlier so I could curl my hair and one of my roommates, Alex, could do my makeup. Instead of going to chapel (we get an allotted amount of skips, don’t worry), some of my roommates, Alex, Rachel, Marissa and I went to IHOP because I had a free stack on pancakes for my birthday. I got the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity pancakes with peach and raspberry topping. They were delicious!

This reminds me; sign up for as many restaurant and store email lists as possible. Many give out free items for your birthday! I got so many coupons for free items. You can really make a day out of it. Take full advantage of your birthday! Get free stuff!

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Later in the day, three of my athletic training friends, Alex, Abby, Bri and I went to the Cake Bake Shop in Indianapolis. I had been here once before and fell in love with it! It is the definition of girly. Everything in there is pink and sparkly and just so romantic. It’s not required, but most people usually dress nicely when they come. There are other food options in addition to cake, but why would you get anything else?! Below are some pictures from the last time I went back in April. It is currently decorated for Halloween and will be transitioning to Christmas soon.

IMG_1209IMG_1210IMG_1213IMG_1215This time I got the Red Velvet cake; Alex got the Millionaire cake; Abby got the Apple Crumble cake; and Bri got their most popular, Earls Court Chocolate cake. They were all extremely delicious! I would highly, highly recommend going here for a special occasion, such as a birthday, bachelorette outing, etc. Reservations of a maximum of four are required to dine in. Just a fair warning, it is pretty pricey. Most pieces of cake are $12-$14. However, the slice you receive is pretty big and of great quality. It’s also mostly about the experience itself!

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Our pieces of cake
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The red velvet cake I got had a beautiful pink rose frosting design
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I’m glad I have such great friends that will drive an hour and a half in rainy weather for expensive cake!!

I couldn’t finish all of my cake, so I got a box to take it back with me. When we arrived back at school, believe it or not, I was still pretty hungry! I guess it makes sense because all I had to eat was the pancakes and part of the cake so my body was craving real food that would keep me full, not just sugar. So I ordered a BBQ Chicken Pineapple pizza from Papa John’s (yes, I’m one of those odd people who like pineapple on their pizza) and enjoyed an Ale8 while watching Fixer Upper. It was a great, relaxing way to end my birthday.

I couldn’t have asked for better friends and family to make me feel so loved on my 21st.

Cheers to 21!

Alyssa

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Vintage Market Days: Bushel and a Peck!

Hey friends! Long time no see!! It’s been a while since I’ve last posted. Life as a full-time college student can get a little crazy, especially with midterms, group projects happening and finals right around the corner!

I’m sure y’all have been waiting to read another post so let’s get started!

This past weekend was the second Vintage Market Days of Lexington event. They had another event this spring, you can read about here! When I found out they were having another event in the fall, I was beyond excited! This kind of stuff is my jam so I am always looking for another shop or event where I can stock up on my vintage goodies.

The theme for the fall show was “Bushel and a Peck.” How cute is that name?! It just seems so sweet and southern to me and really captures the essence of the event. It was hosted at the Kentucky Horse Park in the covered arena on October 20-22 (Friday-Sunday). That weekend was actually my fall break from school, so it worked out perfectly! I had to stay at school all Friday for an athletic training obligation, so I attended the event on Saturday. Eric and Mimi Griffith are the owners and were so kind to send me some tickets to the Saturday show for free. Thank you so much!!!

I didn’t have any ideas in mind of what I was looking for, but I knew I would find something I loved. I love it when an item jumps out at you that you absolutely love and didn’t know you needed, but now you must have!

Sabrina, Betsy and I arrived around 2pm on Saturday. There was hardly any line to get in, which was great. We just handed over our tickets, were given wristbands, and we were on our merry way!

When you first entered, there was a very cute display where you could take pictures. Here is the one of us!

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The arena was filled with vendors from all over the country! We walked around and looked at all the wonderful booths. There were some really great items! The beautifully detailed chair below caught my eye and when I looked at the price tag, I was floored. It was only $25!!! That my friend, is a steal. I seriously debated on getting it for a while, but ultimately decided against it, because 1. I’m a college student and have no need for it at the moment (that’s what my friends said, I could find a need for it lol) and 2. I think it would be really fun to find an unfinished chair and paint and distress myself. So sadly, I left the amazing chair behind. I hope someone else bought it because it really was a beautiful chair for a great price!

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We continued on our quest for vintage treasures. I found these AWESOME corbels for 2 for $25! (If you have no idea what corbels are, like every other person I’ve talked to about them, they are usually wooden, sometimes metal, triangular shaped pieces that you put in a doorway. True corbels are use for support but some are simply for decorative purposes. Anybody who watches Fixer Upper knows what I’m talking about.) Anyway, I immediately picked them up because usually vintage corbels can go for $40 or more each. The booth had a mix of blue and white ones and of course I picked white. The owner was even so kind to tie them together with twine to make it easier to carry. What an awesome buy!

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There were several other things that I wanted to buy, but ultimately ended up not getting. There were a variety of adorable pillow covers that I loved! One was fall themed and the other was Christmas themed. I almost bought the Christmas one, but noticed that the printing was a little messed up, so unfortunately, I didn’t buy it. The fall one was a little more than I was willing to spend. I have seen very similar ones to these on Etsy before, so I thought I would just buy them from there eventually. Here are some examples:

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Sabrina and Betsy both bought some delicious fudge from a vendor. I just got some free samples 🙂 That was their reward for me dragging them to events like this, haha. Thanks guys, you rock. Betsy also bought some really cute, small, knit pumpkins for her mom. Sabrina also got a gift for her mom for Christmas, which I won’t share in case you’re reading this Kim 😉

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The knit pumpkins Betsy bought

Overall, it was a spectacular event! We all had a wonderful time and were pleased with the items we bought. Here are some pictures of other items vendors were selling:

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As you can see, there were plenty of great items for sale! There were fall items as well as Christmas ones, food, clothing, decorations, greenery, signs, and true antique pieces. There was something for everybody! The Vintage Market has become one of my favorite events and I look forward to their next show (they haven’t released a date yet, but when they do, I will include it here!)

Thanks for dropping by today; be on the lookout for another post soon!

Much love,

Alyssa

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Summer Bucket List

Hey y’all!

Have you ever created a bucket list? I love the idea of bucket lists because they allow you to dream and be adventurous. Bucket lists don’t always have to be completed before you die; they can be for a certain amount of time, like the summer! Summer is the perfect time to be fun and adventurous.

A couple months back I really became fascinated with home decor and antique shops so I Googled “antique shops in Lexington” and other similar searches and a whole list of new places were introduced to me. This made me curious about other “hidden gems,” if you will, in my hometown: cute little boutiques, hipster coffee shops or great food places. I was shocked at the number of places I came across over the internet. I was determined to make the most of my summer so I made a summer bucket list in my fancy dancy Bullet Journal (if you missed my post about Bullet Journaling, check it out here.) At first it was just a list of places that I wanted to go over the summer. They weren’t necessarily places that I hadn’t been to before. However, as my list was evolving, I wanted it to be more of a list of places that I had never been to. My list comprised of 76 different places like coffee shops, home decor stores, restaurants, and more.

On my days off, I would get on Google Maps and type in the addresses of several places that were near each other and would find the best route to visit them all. I made a whole day out of it. I would usually start with a coffee shop in the morning, then visit several boutiques or stores and then maybe a bakery for a snack or a restaurant for lunch and then visit a few more stores. I would cross several off in one day and it was great.

My favorite boutique that I visited is Queen Bee Gifts, located in Palomar Centre. I absolutely LOVE this place!! They have so much adorable decor items and gift ideas for every style. Every time I go in there I want to buy the whole store! Definitely check this place out!

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Look how cute this place is!!!

My favorite coffee shop is A Cup of Commonwealth. When I visited, I was probably in there less than five minutes because I was taking my coffee to go, but the staff made me feel so welcome and engaged in conversation with me about my day or my weekend. I really appreciate that. They also have a whole wall dedicated to paying it forward. People buy a cup of coffee, write on the sleeve for a specific person or type of person (IE: UK Alum) and then place the sleeve on the wall for someone to pick up. So cool!

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The Pay it Forward Wall

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I didn’t get to check off everything on my list, but I did get the majority. Most of the places  that are left are restaurants (contrary to popular belief, I’m not made of money.) I’m hoping to get those checked off when I go home for Christmas break or possibly next summer. This is what my list looks like currently:

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I only have 8 left!

If you have any questions about a place on my list, feel free to comment below and I’ll let you know what I thought about it!

I would highly recommend searching for “hidden gems” or places that spark your interest in your hometown and creating a bucket list to visit them all! I couldn’t believe the number of places that I didn’t even know existed after living in Lexington for almost my whole life. You’ll never know what you may find: perhaps your new favorite coffee shop or boutique!

Hope y’all have a fantastic Thursday!

Alyssa

Hiking at Red River Gorge

Happy Monday Friends!

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to go hiking. Kentucky has some incredibly beautiful places for hiking some of which include: Natural Bridge, Raven Run, Red River Gorge and the Pinnacles.

However, this summer I hadn’t had the time to go with my friends as in previous summers because our schedules just didn’t match up and we weren’t free at the same times. Sunday was the first time all summer I got to go, which is kind of sad because this is my last week in Lex before I go back to school!

I had been thinking about buying a small hiking backpack the whole week before we went and I just totally spaced and forgot to buy one until the night before (face palm) so I didn’t get to have it for the actual hike. But the next time I go, I’ll have it with me! I ended up taking a normal-sized backpack because of its sturdiness even though I only had a few things in it (wallet, two water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, snacks and a charging case for my phone.) Even though it was bigger than I needed, it was so much better than a drawstring bag! Those things just flop around when I hike.

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The hiking backpack I bought (too late for this trip)

Sunday morning arrived and Sabrina and I got breakfast at North Lime Donuts and headed to Red River Gorge! It takes about an hour to get there from Lexington.

We always joke that we can never do anything or go anywhere without something funny/interesting or sometimes unfortunate happening to us and this was no exception. That’s why I always build in an extra hour or so into our tentative schedule because something always happens where it takes us longer than it’s supposed to!

I looked up the “address” for RRG online and put it in my GPS. It said it was on Robbie Ridge Rd, so when it was time to turn onto this road, I automatically knew we were in the wrong place. It was a VERY steep, one lane drive that had a sign that said “PRIVATE DRIVE-NO TRESPASSING.” Sabrina and I just looked at each other like “of course.” So I tried to turn around, but the road was basically on a cliff so that was impossible. I ended up just driving a little bit farther down the road where there was a very small parking lot where I could turn around.

At this point neither one of us had any cell phone service so we couldn’t look up any other directions. So we just drove around and hoped that we would see some signs to point us in the right direction. We finally found a sign for “Nada Tunnel-Red River Gorge” so we turned there and drove. And drove. And drove. It seemed like we were driving forever! Then we came to the Nada Tunnel. Let me tell you this thing is AWESOME!!! It’s a single lane, low clearance tunnel that literally goes through the side of a giant rock. The other side is visible from the start so you can see if a car is coming or not.

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What the tunnel looks like from the outside
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What the tunnel looks like on the inside! So cool!

Once through the tunnel, there are several parking lots off to the side with different trailheads. We had no idea where we were going though, so we were hoping to find a map or visitor center so we could look at the different trail options. We finally ran across a visitor center and talked with a worker inside about the trails. We decided on Gray’s Arch, which is about 5 miles.

We parked by the trailhead entrance and started our adventure!

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Since we only had a donut and coffee for breakfast, we stopped a few times along the way for a snack break. I would consider this trail moderate in difficulty.

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Some interesting things we saw on trees
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Some interesting things we saw on trees

I do think there needs to be a little more signage as to where to go. Especially at one point, there were just a mountain of rocks that looked out to the forrest. We assumed that was the end of the trail, but checked our Fitbits and we had only gone like 1.5 miles and it was 2.5 one way so we knew there had to be more. We decided to climb the rocks and the rest of the trail was located at the top. We kept on trucking, going uphill, then downhill, then uphill again, down a huge flight of stairs and then finally came out to a larger open space with a creek. There were several ropes blocking off certain parts with signs that said it was closed for restoration purposes. So we weren’t really sure if the part that was blocked off was the trail and that was as far as you could go or if the trail continued across the creek. It was just confusing so we decided to turn around and go back the way we came so we wouldn’t get lost. When we got to the mountain of rocks we had climbed before we had to scoot on our butts down them because they were very sandy which made your shoes slip a little. Our legs were jello by the time we were finished!

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The huge flight of stairs we had to climb back up

We never got to see “Gray’s Arch” which was a little disappointing, but we still had a great hike and it was time for lunch!!

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Gray’s Arch-what we didn’t get to see

For lunch, we ate at Miguel’s Pizza which is a hole in the wall, but very popular!! I had heard many great things about it before, but had never been so I was excited!

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When we arrived, there was a line out the door, but we didn’t care. We were so hungry at this point, it didn’t matter. It’s a build-your-own kind of deal so you could get pretty much whatever you wanted on your pizza. We both filled out our order slips and when we compared we literally had the same exact thing-two slices of BBQ Chicken pizza and an Ale8.

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The line when we first arrived

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They had a wide variety of apparel and gear for purchase. I ended up getting a small sticker to put on my water bottle (we also got free Red River Gorge ones as well) and a pastel yellow t-shirt with the Miguel’s logo on the back.

 

When they brought out the food, they actually gave us three pieces instead of two, but I think it was because the slices were smaller than usual. It was delicious and hit the spot after a long hike!

Once our bellies were full, we hit the road back home!

I would highly recommend hiking at the Red River Gorge! Natural Bridge is also in the same area and they have great trails as well. We had both been to NB plenty of times before, so we wanted to try something new by going to RRG. If you go to either one of these places, you must visit Miguel’s too!

Although, I’m slightly disappointed it was my first and last hike of the summer, I’m glad I got to go as a last hurrah before going back to school!

Hopefully I can go hiking somewhere in Indiana this semester.

Do me a favor and enjoy God’s creation by going out on a hike!

xoxo,

Alyssa

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Destiny Rescue: Dessert and Destiny Night

Happy Tuesday Friends!

As many of y’all know, I am an advocate for a nonprofit organization called Destiny Rescue. Their main goal is to rescue young girls from the sex trade overseas.

I got involved in Destiny Rescue when they came to speak in chapel at my school this past year. After hearing their mission and real stories of rescued girls, I was moved to do something. But that little voice in my head (AKA Satan) told me “You don’t need to do anything, someone else will do it.”

After chapel, they had a table in the mallway of our student center where you could buy jewelry to support their efforts or just get more information about what they do. I debated with myself on if I should go to the table or not. I don’t know why I was so scared to just go to a table. I think it was partly because of the fact that I could get involved in the organization somehow and I had never done that before.

I finally put on my big girl pants and walked over there. I browsed through the jewelry they had available and bought a bracelet. Then the girl working the table asked me if I wanted to sign up to become and advocate. The warmth in her smile made me feel so at ease and I took the opportunity to say “yes.” I was so glad that I pushed that voice in my head to the side and trusted God to take that first step.

I didn’t hear anything from them for about 2-3 months. I was slightly confused. Had I made a mistake? Did they even look at the sign up sheet? Then one day I got a phone call from Sharon. She asked me about why I signed up to be an advocate and explained some of the ways that I could get involved. The main thing that I was interested in was the “Dessert and Destiny” jewelry party.

All of the jewelry they sell is beautifully handmade by the survivors of the sex trade. They have earrings, bracelets and necklaces in a wide variety of colors and price ranges. I emailed the coordinator 3 weeks before the date that I wanted to have my party and they sent me all the necessary supplies free of charge. They even included a card swipe you can plug in your phone! All I had to do was make the desserts and invite the people.

I took to Pinterest to find some dessert recipes for the party. I decided on fruit pizza, frozen cheesecake bites, buckeyes, dessert kebabs and raspberry sherbet punch. I really enjoyed making all of the desserts and preparing for this night!

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The frozen cheesecake bites were made in an ice cube tray! (Topped with chocolate) They were pretty difficult to get out once they were done and most of them came out in pieces, but were still delicious regardless!
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The dessert kebabs had strawberries, marshmallows and brownie bites on them. I drizzled melted chocolate over them too.

My two best friends were halfway across the country and world (California and Scotland) on the day of my party so they obviously couldn’t make it. So Sabrina came over before she left to buy something and I sent pictures of the jewelry to Betsy so she could pick something out as well! I’m so thankful for such supportive friends that even if they are literally across the world, they are still there for me. Love y’all!

I had my Dessert and Destiny night this past Saturday, the 15th. The desserts were made, the jewelry was set out and I was ready for the people! I prayed right before it started that even if only one person showed up that I would be okay with that because God’s will would still be done.

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The delicious spread!!
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All the beautiful jewelry!
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Some beautiful flowers and my new letter board came in handy! If you missed my post about letter boards check it out here!

I wasn’t sure how many people to expect as it was my first time having an event like this. I invited 40 something people on Facebook, but I wasn’t sure how many people would be available to come. I was hopeful for the best!

I had two girls from work come and buy several pieces and eat the yummy desserts! Thank you Erica and Mallory!! Y’all rock. They were the only two that came and I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed at first. But I had to remind myself that it’s not about how many people showed up, it’s that I had the courage to take the initial step to say “yes” to becoming an advocate 6 months ago. It’s that Destiny Rescue was introduced to 40 something people via Facebook. It’s that the money that was raised is going to help rescue girls from the sex trade and if I hadn’t had the courage to take the first step, none of that would have happened.

Here is what I learned from this whole experience:

  • If you feel God nudging you to do something outside of your comfort zone, listen to Him. He know you better than anyone else, so if He is calling you to do something, it’s for a good reason.
  • Satan is going to tell you that you can’t do it or that you don’t need to do it because someone else will. DON’T LISTEN!!! Shoving those negative thoughts to the side is the only thing that will allow you to take that step.
  • This was my first Destiny Rescue event, so it’s okay that not a lot of people came. Next year, I’ll do more to get the word out.

If you weren’t able to come to the Dessert and Destiny Night, don’t worry! I still have plenty of jewelry available for purchase! I just have to ship back the remaining jewelry by July 31st, so if you want to purchase something, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I can send you pictures of the jewelry or bring it to you!

Check out Destiny Rescue’s two websites! (The first one is the link to their shop, which has some of the same jewelry that I had available, if you’d like to purchase them online or you can donate on their main website.)

http://www.destinyrescueshop.com

https://www.destinyrescue.org/us/

Again, thank you so much to everybody who prayed for this event and invested financially. Your support is going to help so many young girls be rescued and introduced to the unconditional love of Christ.

Much love,

Alyssa

Falling Rock Park: The Day of L’s

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Taken from the Falling Rock website

If you just read the title and aren’t 30 years or younger you may not know what taking an “L” is, so let me explain. The L stands for loss, so taking an L is like having something bad or embarrassing happen to you. Now, with that out of the way, let’s begin this whale of a tale.

So my best friends Sabrina and Betsy and Betsy’s boyfriend, Dakota, were going to Falling Rock Park in La Grange, KY to celebrate Sabrina’s birthday early. If you’re unfamiliar with FRP, it used to be an old rock quarry that filled up with rain water and they turned it into a park where people can go swimming. There are a few rules which include:

  • Must fill out a waiver
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Must bring a photo ID
  • $10 per person
  • No drugs/alcohol
  • No pets
  • Must have a flotation device at all times
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Taken from Falling Rock website

We had been planning for this trip for quite a while and we were very excited. We made packing lists and even made/bought some food and drinks to have while we were there. You could say we were prepared.

Well even if you’re prepared, you can’t always expect everything to go perfectly.

After we had breakfast at Chick-fil-A (gotta hook up the friends, amirite?) and got some ice for the cooler at the gas station we piled in the truck and hit the road. It wasn’t too long after we left that I just so happened to look back and notice that the tailgate of the truck was down. I told Dakota and he pulled over to put it back up. Well it wasn’t just that the tailgate was down…several of our bags and the cooler were missing. Yikes!

So we retraced our steps and found where everything had fallen out (literally the intersection where the gas station is.) All of our food and drinks were strewn out along the side of Harrodsburg Rd but the cooler and our bags were nowhere to be found. We picked up what was in the road and the only salvageable things were a container of guacamole that I had made (praise God!) and some strawberry lemonade that Betsy had made. All of our bottled water, Ale8, and apples were destroyed. It was pretty sad.

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Please excuse the terrible quality of this photo, but this was what we saw when we found where our stuff had fallen out

Anyway, we went in to some of the nearby stores and asked if anyone had turned in a cooler and two bags and everybody said no. We even called the Lexington Police Department because we had seen at least two or three cops in the area, but they said no one picked them up or turned them in. So someone had to have taken them within the 10-15 minutes it took us to realize they were gone and get back to where it fell out. Kinda sad.

Fortunately, there was nothing very important in the bags, just some extra clothes, towels and sunscreen (thank goodness my friends brought some too!) The only thing I was upset about losing was my favorite IWU hoodie and the bag that everything was in was Vera Bradley. But oh well, life happens and you move on. I just can’t believe no one honked or anything to try to tell us that the stuff had fallen out.

After we realized that we weren’t going to be getting our bags back, we hit the road for the second time. A little under an hour and a half later, we finally arrived at FRP. We filled out the waiver, gave them our money, got our wristbands, and had the truck searched (standard procedure to check for alcohol/drugs.)

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View when you first enter the park

It was so beautiful! The water is pretty clear compared to most lakes and there were hardly any clouds in the sky (foreshadowing for the sunburns that were about to come.)

There was hardly anybody there when we arrived, which was around 11 o’clock. So we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. We walked over to get our floats blown up by the air compressor when L number two happened. I popped my float with the air compressor (face palm.) Luckily, Sabrina had brought both a float and a life jacket! Thank goodness for friends who pack extra just in case!

That was really the last big L that we took, we had a few other scares throughout the day when Sabrina thought she lost her ring and ID at one point, but they were fine.

The people who parked next to us came in clutch when they asked us if we wanted some extra ice that they had and we all thought “you have no idea, haha.” We were mainly concerned about the guacamole and some strawberries so we just put them inside the bag and covered it up to try to keep it cool.

Like I mentioned previously, the park used to be a rock quarry so it’s literally all rocks. The parking lot is rocks, the walkway to the water is rocks, and the places where you jump from are rocks. I have really sensitive feet (I can barely handle a pedicure because my feet are so ticklish) so walking on the rocks to get to the water was very hard for me. Both Betsy and Dakota wore Chacos so they just kept them on while they were in the water so after the first time of killing our feet, Sabrina and I just had them bring us our Rainbows so we didn’t have to hurt our feet getting in and out.

After floating for a while, we decided it was time for lunch. We had packed PB&J sandwiches, chips and guac, and Oreos. Most of the food items were in a different bag that was inside the cab of the truck, thank goodness.

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The strawberry lemonade survived!
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The guac!

After our bellies were full, we had a mini photo shoot (gotta get a good pic for Instagram), reapplied our sunscreen and headed back out on the water.

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Still smiles after losing half of our stuff earlier that morning!
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Candids are the best!

There were three places that you could jump from. Two of them were just a stack of rocks and the other was a platform where you jumped onto a blob that launched people into the water. Betsy, Dakota and I did the blob and it was fun, but very painful. You can’t see when the person launching you is going to jump so you literally have no idea when to expect it and all of a sudden the breath gets knocked out of you and you’re being launched into the air and then belly flop into the water. Betsy went twice as high as me because Dakota launched her haha.

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One of the places you could jump from, taken from Falling Rock Park website
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The blob, taken from the Falling Rock website

When we had finally had enough and were thoroughly fried, we left and went to this place called Traderbaker’s Flea Market that was nearby that I wanted to visit (gotta get my home decor fix somehow.) This place was similar to a peddlers mall where people can rent out booths to sell their items. There were quite a few booths that had the farmhouse style decor that I’m interested in which was exciting, because the Lexington Peddlers Mall did not have very much in that style at all when I visited.

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This is where I got my wooden stool
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I love the mirror on the right, but it’s more of a home item, not an apartment item (sigh)
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Where I got my napkin holder

I ended up getting this cute wooden stool and adorable picket fence napkin holder (how precious is this?!) Sabrina got a red apple shaped wire basket for her future classroom and Betsy got a mug and a trivet made from wine and champagne corks for her mom. So overall, it was a good shopping trip for everyone.

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Our haul. Sabrina didn’t end up getting the piece of wood (she was going to attach wire and hang pictures from it, but it was too heavy to hang safely in the dorm)

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After checking out with our new treasures, we finally headed home. We made one more stop on the way to get some aloe vera at Walmart because we were burnt y’all. Even Sabrina who usually tans got burnt (but only the front half of her legs did 😂 She literally had a line down her leg.) Poor Dakota’s back was literally purple, he was in a lot of pain.

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Sabrina’s leg
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My arm (line from the wristband we got)

Betsy and Dakota had made a lasagna the night before for all of us to eat for dinner when we got back so we went to Betsy’s house to eat. It was really good (I think it was like 80% beef and 20% noodles and sauce, haha.) Dakota just laid on the couch because he could hardly move haha.

We were all worn out so we called it a day and finally went home and went to bed.

Even after the mishaps we experienced, overall it was a great day! I’m glad I got to take a break from work to spend time with friends and to celebrate Sabrina’s birthday (happy 20th girl!🎈🎉)

I would definitely recommend going to Falling Rock Park, but would suggest going earlier rather than later in the day because there was a long line to get in after noon!

We can’t always plan for everything except to expect the unexpected. When something does happen that doesn’t go as planned, it’s better to not take it too seriously and just roll with it. We laughed so hard about it we were in tears the entire way there.

Much love,

Alyssa

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Our Gatlinburg Vacation

Last week my family went on vacation to Gatlinburg, TN. I had never been before so I was very excited. I have heard many great things about it before, so I was interested to see it for myself!

We hit the road Monday morning and arrived in Sevierville, which is just outside of Gatlinburg, around lunch time. And I’ll bet you $5 you won’t guess where we ate (unless you follow me on snap, that doesn’t count.) CICI’S PIZZA!!!! That’s right the wonderful pizza buffet of my childhood or anybody who went to Clays Mill Elementary for that matter. Our school had fundraising nights at CiCi’s, so we were there quite a bit. But sadly, they closed their doors in Lex and there aren’t any other locations nearby, so finding this gem was enough to make anyone’s day. And it was just as wonderful as I had remembered.

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We then drove to the cabin where we were staying, which was really nice!! It had a full kitchen so we cooked several of our meals there to save money. We also each had our own king sized bed on separate floors with our own bathrooms. I had never slept in a bed that big and it was v magical. Oh, and there was a hot tub! The only “bad” thing about it was that it was literally on the mountain so you basically had to drive up a 60 degree incline (I know, I’m exaggerating) with lots of twists and turns, so that gave me a minor heart attack every time we went back to the cabin.

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We cooked spaghetti for dinner and spent some time in the hot tub. It was a nice way to unwind after a long day of being on the road.

On Tuesday we drove through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The route we took was an 11-mile loop with little tons of inlets you could pullover and take pictures if you wanted. It was so beautiful and green. However, you actually could still see the effects from the wildfire they experienced last summer. There were spots where trees were charred or completely bare. The city is still rebuilding, but there are plenty of things to do! Most of the “touristy” places are up and running but you could definitely tell that a lot of what used to be cabin rentals were still completely burned to the ground. I think ours was one of the few ones that were untouched. Seeing the effects of the wildfire reminded me of the regrowth we experience after we have “wildfires” in our life. God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. “This too shall pass.” – King Solomon. Here are some of the pictures we took from the park.

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My brother took the photos below with his camera.

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We even saw both a deer and black bear! Unfortunately though, my brother accidentally deleted the bear picture of the camera (sad face), but we have the one of the deer! There were actually two of them that ran right beside our van, it was really cool!

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Later that evening, we explored some of the stores along the strip. (By the way, I forgot to mention it was raining the entire time. Even with ponchos and umbrellas we were thoroughly soaked by the end of our escapade.) There was a really cute store called Thistle Dew Nicely, which had lots of farmhouse style and Christian decor items. I didn’t buy anything from there though because I was saving my money for the Vintage Market that was on Saturday! If you missed my post about that, you can find it here.

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Taken from Adventure Rider

I ended up buying this cute mug (which was the last one I needed to complete my DIY mug holder!) and an adorable UK shirt (of all things I could buy in Gatlinburg.)

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We didn’t get to see everything on the strip because it was dinner time, so we went back to the cabin, cooked BBQ sandwiches and retired for the night.

On Wednesday, we went on another driving tour through the mountains, it was much shorter than the one we went on the day before and there wasn’t much to see that we hadn’t already seen, so we took to the strip one more time. We went to a place where you could do six different activities for one price. We did an indoor blacklight mini golf (because it was raining) and a laser maze (like in those spy movies where they have to avoid the laser field.) That was fun, but challenging. During this time it was literally down pouring. Rain was coming down in sheets off of the mountain and at one point you could not even see the mountain. (See picture below) The power even went out for a split second when my mom was doing the laser maze, so all the lasers disappeared, haha.

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There are supposed to be mountains here

Apparently only the laser maze was not working, so we did another activity called Atomic Rush, which is like Waca-mole but with colors. We then went to an indoor mall that had a sign for “Peddlers World” on the front, which I was interested in. However, we went to the level that the directory said it was located on and it was nowhere to be found, which was slightly disappointing. But we continued exploring and took a quick lunch break at Zaxby’s. By the time we were finished with lunch, it had stopped raining (yay!)

There was an arts and crafts village that I was interested in going to and on the map that we had, it didn’t look too far away. So we decided to walk there. However, we went the wrong way and so we just said forget it, we’ll drive there tomorrow.

We then stopped at Ben and Jerry’s to get some sugar in our system, because that walk wore us out. I got the mint chocolate chip, which I had never seen not green before, but apparently it’s because they don’t put artificial coloring in their ice cream. It tasted the exact same, but to be honest I like my mint chocolate chip to be green, haha.

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Since it had stopped raining, we did the outdoor putt putt at the game place. I’ll tell you what, I’m no good at mini golf. I still had a lot of fun though because I wasn’t at work and I was with my family. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment and I encourage you to do the same. It will make you appreciate the little things in life more.

By this time, we were all pretty pooped. We decided to go back to the cabin and rest for a little bit and then go back out for dinner. We had heard that Gatlinburg had a lot of really good pancake places so we set out to find one. We had thought we saw one that was down near the end of strip so we walked all the way down and it was nowhere to be found. We eventually google mapped in and it was on the complete other end (🙄) So we chuckled a little bit and walked back the way we came. We FINALLY found it and guess what? IT WAS CLOSED. That’s right, we went through all that trouble to find out it was closed. At this point we were getting a little hangry so we just walked to the nearest food place and parked it.

This happened to be a place called The Best Italian. They were a little short staffed and our waitress was new and very apologetic, but she did a great job. Ever since I started working in the food industry, it gave me a new appreciate for others who do too. Especially when things that can’t be helped like being short staffed happen. The meals were a little overpriced in my opinion, but the food was still good (on par with Olive Garden.)

We then set out back to the game place and did one more round of outdoor mini golf. We also played laser tag (I thought I was doing really well and when it was finished I only had 100 points, um what lol.) My brother and I did the laser maze again (since the power went out earlier, they gave us two more free tokens) and the whole family played the atomic rush game for our last activity. We did the “hard” level which was completely random and you had to run all over the room to find your color and it was so fun.

Apparently we hadn’t had our fill of games because we went back to the cabin and had a game night with some board games we had brought from home. We played Sequence, Banagrams and Ticket to Ride. I think I played my worst game of Ticket to Ride, but I did much better at Banagrams. Overall, it was a great day full of fun and family.

Thursday was our last day so we packed up the van, stopped at Starbucks to get our caffeine fill (funny story, my dad gave my brother and I his phone to use the Starbucks app to pay with, but their power was out so they could only accept cash, so we had to call him to drive back around to get cash) and drove out to the arts and crafts village that we had tried to walk to the day before. I’ll tell you something that map we were looking at before was not accurate at all. It literally took us a solid 15 minutes to drive there. There was no way we could have walked to it.

Once we arrived I got a map that listed all of the stores and circled the ones I was interested in. So we drove around to find them and literally all of them but one were not even in business anymore. We asked the one store owner why that was the case and he said that after the wildfires last summer, a lot of stored went out of business, which was unfortunate, but understandable.

We were determined to get our pancake fill before we left so we found a pancake restaurant for lunch. I got the mixed berry pancakes and chocolate milk, yummy.

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Our last event before we hit the road was go karting! It was very chilly and windy so we found a place that had an indoor track, but as luck would have it, they were only running the outdoor one. Great, right. So we braved the chilly wind and my brother and I did 3 different races. It was pretty fun, but boy, was I sore the next day.

After we had our fill of thrill and pancakes for the day, we set out for home.

Overall, we had a great vacation and I would definitely recommend Gatlinburg as a fun vacation spot! It would be beautiful to go during the fall to see the leaves changing on the mountain. I can’t wait to go back!

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