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Adventures in Parks and Recreation!

My 30 Before 30 list becomes a bigger elephant in the room as we get closer and closer to my birthday! So here I am with three months to go.

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Thankfully, my friends and family have been incredibly supportive in helping me accomplish the many goals of my list. One of my favorite things on the list has been #15. Visit at least 3 state and national parks. Well I have killed #15 between hiking with my brother and adventures with my friends. (You might remember my NC adventure in the rain: https://adventuresinpolkadots.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/adventures-in-the-rainy-wilderness/)

This weekend, my cousin Erica took her mother and one of my favorite aunts and me to Devil Millhopper Geological State Park in Gainesville.

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The weather was perfect for an outside adventure. We had so much fun! We loved the crisp fall air, the beautiful woods, and really cool sinkhole that has now become a pretty neat geological feature. Don’t worry we took tons of photos…

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There were soooo many stairs down to the sinkhole…

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Then there was the time that I started teasing my Aunt Hilary about her posing and I basically turned our adventure into America’s Next Top Model.

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We may be goofy but we always have a great time together! I would wholeheartedly recommend this park to anyone! It was a blast and I can’t wait to go back!

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Adventures in Tea Parties!

For those of you following the blog, you know by now that I am working on my 30 Before 30 List!

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#17 Experience High Tea can be checked off the list!

My friend JQ helped me out by indulging me/jumping in wholeheartedly in an afternoon of tea. In our minds, we looked something like this…

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 But I think we pulled something more along these lines…

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We went to one of my favorite places in Tampa — The Oxford Exchange. It’s a bibliophile paradise! And the home goods are to die for! (Also the food is amazing! Obviously, I am a huge fan!) Check it out: http://oxfordexchange.com/

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We had the best time. We wore sweet vintage hats and chatted about Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf while munching on delicious treats and giggling.  Here’s a great view of JQ’s hat — classic daisies!

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We took a sweet selfie (in the bathroom)! tea party 7

(It took us a bunch of tries… which I have included in the spirit of journalistic integrity!)

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I read up on ladylike behaviors: tea party 9

And here were our treats! Complete with homemade scones and macarones!

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Then posed adorably with our treats and hopeful looks!

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Real ladies toast their scones, right?

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Thanks for coming along on our tea party! It was a fantastic afternoon and the 30 Before 30 adventures continue…

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Adventures in the Rainy Wilderness

I recently visited Raleigh, NC for the weekend and took the opportunity to catch up with two wonderful ladies — Rachel and Jen! Those two couldn’t have been better company! We did all of my favorite things – gourmet popsicles, gourmet donuts, vintage hats, movie marathons, and all sorts of adventures. I got tons of blogging material out of the weekend. You might have already read about the Koolaid Hair Dye from https://adventuresinpolkadots.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/adventures-in-kool-aid-dye/

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Both of these ladies were all about me accomplishing some of my 30 Before 30 goals (we worked on a bunch — dying my hair purple — unsuccessfully, cooking my way through a cookbook — we did 4 recipes)  #15 Visit at least three national or state parks was one we decided to take a crack at by traveling to Raven Rock State Park and hitting the trails. We were so excited to go hiking and experience some serious communing with nature that we even discussed camping. And then it rained. And rained. So we decided to just go hiking. After all, it probably wasn’t raining that hard, right?

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So we packed our lunch, loaded the car, and drove to Raven Rock State Park. It was WONDERFUL! I couldn’t get over how nice everything was! The Welcome Center was like something out of a magazine! When we arrived, we ate our picnic lunch at the Welcome Center and planned our hike (and of course got goofy!).

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It wasn’t exactly a beautiful day in the traditional sense. We still thought the woods and view were wonderful! And I bet the trail had never heard sweet music like the sound of version of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad!”

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We were so grateful for our ponchos!

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By the end of the trip, we were exhausted and wet! But we had a blast! To be honest, just being with these lovely ladies in the car there and back and our brief stop at Walgreens was as fun as the hiking itself!  iphone 38 190

 

 

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Purple hair – Don’t care!

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I turn thirty in about 5 months and I am really excited about the big 3-0. As you may know, I created a 30 Before 30 list that I have been working on for the last couple of months to celebrate this big birthday! Number one on that list is dye my hair purple. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It seems like now would be the perfect time since I have (or should I say HAD) such nice blonde highlights… because last night (after 4 attempts), I finally accomplished PURPLE HAIR! Now it’s not totally crazy. This purple hair is subdued, almost work appropriate. Don’t believe me? Check it out! 

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So with that number 1 is checked off the list! Tell me what you think! (But don’t get too used to it… change is coming fast!) 

Here’s the IN PROGRESS List: 

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  1. Dye my hair purple.
  2. Lose 30 lbs.
  3. Ride a Motorcycle.
  4. Be in control of my student loans
  5. Finally get that tattoo.
  6. Embark on an epic road trip.
  7. Pay off credit cards.
  8. Cook my way through a cookbook.
  9. Blog more – 300 posts and new forms of media.
  10. Learn to sew.
  11. Save $3000 ($200 per month).
  12. Take cooking and/or baking classes.
  13. Learn how to build something.
  14. Learn how to play poker.
  15. Visit at least three national or state parks. 
  16. Learn how to meditate.
  17. Experience high tea.
  18. Make my own limoncello.
  19. Go to the Florida State Fair.
  20. Read the 30 of the top 100 novels of all timehttp://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/
  21. Get more involved with the community – 30 hours minimum.
  22. Visit a new place I’ve always wanted to visit.
  23.  Go to more awesome concerts.
  24. Go berry picking and my own jam.
  25. Take photos in photobooths.
  26. Host a dinner party.
  27. Watch 30 of the top 100 movies of all timehttp://www.imdb.com/chart/top
  28. Go on a camping adventure.
  29. Write a children’s book.
  30. Finish everything on the list.

The numbers in italics are in progress. 

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#19. Go to the Florida State Fair

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I did it! It was AWESOME! Special thanks to my dear friends Jess R. and Meg for joining me on this culinary journey through the state fair. I am so lucky to have friends who are up for anything and always support me as I snap 1000000000 pictures for this blog. So, we really enjoyed the people watching, the varied food choices, and the giraffe! What did we eat? A turkey leg, corn on the cob, cotton candy, sweet tea slushie, fresh squeezed lemonade, fried dill pickles, fried avocado, corn dogs (all of us agreed best we ever had — they were buttermilk corn dogs!), salt water taffy, fried snickers, and red velvet funnel cake. I don’t think I missed anything… whew! What can I say, it was a great day!

Join us for the adventure…

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The crowds were pretty intense…

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Fried pickles and fried avocado… so yummy and delicious. We sat in the grass and watched the paddleboaters. It was very idyllic.

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That’s a deep fried snickers… Jess was a major fan. I didn’t try to take it away from her– it seemed like it was dangerous.

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Red velvet funnel cake, yes, that happened.

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I thought this guy had a handsome profile.

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EVERYONE was pretty psyched about the giraffe. The three of us were definitely part of that group!

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Jess really really wanted to pet the zebra. It was the only animal I let her pet. I got a little freaked out around the animals, small children, and my pregnant friend.

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Why is this not my profile pic on Facebook??

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Two good looking ladies gnawing on food… like a pair of caveladies.

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The turkey leg was oddly delicious. We couldn’t resist getting one and it was worth it.

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I am sipping on a sweet tea slushie (in a fun at the fair cup) holding a bag of cotton candy. Basically, I am 10. And I am about to run around screaming until I pass out in a corner. 🙂

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It was a beautiful day at the fair and I had a wonderful time with my friends!
#19 is DONE!

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#24. Make My Own Jam

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Ok. I’ll admit it, I was supposed to go berry picking first and THEN make my own jam. But who has time for that? As it was, it was an epic adventure just to find the damn strawberries — we stopped at no less than THREE fruit stands — and we paid Valentine’s Day prices for them. The ordeal was worth it, though. The strawberries we picked (out) were PERFECT. See what I mean?

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Seriously, this was the THIRD stand we stopped at… my dad is the sweetest, most patient daddy in the whole world.

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I couldn’t resist a taste. It was not a mistake.

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The business of making jam was actually a lot of fun. My mom and I have cooked so much together that we are able to work like a seamless team in the kitchen — we always have fun! Here’s some pics of the process…

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First we had to sterilize the jars… and then remove the stems from the berries.

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Mashing berries — with a potato masher and then my hands!

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We added pectin, sugar, and lemon juice. And then we stirred…

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Then using my new canning tongs (impulse purchase that really ended up being clutch), I filled the jars. Isn’t it a beautiful color?

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I sealed them up really tight and…

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The finished product. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but TOOT TOOT!! The jam was delicious and Mom and I felt so successful that we are already discussing our next jam-making experience.

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What do you think of the label? A classic throwback pic of our superstar Mother/Daughter team.

What a sense of accomplishment — not only did I complete #24 but I had fab doing it and am totally inspired to try some more jam recipes! And since #24 ended up being such a breeze, it inspires me to tackle some other numbers… purple hair? tattoo? Who knows what’s next!!

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#4. Completed!

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For those of you who don’t know I set myself a series of challenges to complete before I turn 30. Some are fun, some are serious and some are necessary. Here’s the list: https://adventuresinpolkadots.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/30-before-30-the-list/

#4. Be in control of my student loans.

I am not great with money and my student loans have been like a creepy stalker that never leave my mind. It’s something that effects every decision I make… I know you all know what it’s like. We all have them these things. When I got out of law school and got my dream job, it was hard if not impossible for me to deal with the stress of managing them properly so I did the worst thing possible, I ignored them. Don’t worry this isn’t a full cautionary tale just a quick warning. So don’t do this:

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(That’s a ostrich with his head in the sand.)

If you are lucky like me, you have incredible friends who support you in tough times and friends who literally step in and take care of things when you freeze up or have panic attacks. My friend Paige is that person for me. Ever since the pixie debacle of 2013, Paige has been in charge of my major decisions and now managing my student loans as well. On December 31st, we (meaning Paige, while I watched) completed the process of getting my loans managed. YEAH!

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Me helping…

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Paige figuring out my mess.

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Paige with the completed documents!

YEAH!!!

This is totally a…

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… moment. My loans aren’t paid off but they are at least now under control!

Thanks to my friends — No. 4 — get  my students loans in control —  is mission ACCOMPLISHED!!!