Posts Tagged With: Panama city beach

Pumpkins and parties!

Halloween. The dictionary says it’s the evening before the Christian holy days of All Hallows’ Day on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November, thus giving the holiday on 31 October the full name of All Hallows’ Eve. To most of us, it’s a family friendly holiday full of costumes, candy and spooky decorations. To others it’s the perfect excuse for adult parties in which grown-ups act out of character (or fully in) as they strut around in costume.

Since I’ve been on the road, my Halloween celebrations have ranged from completely non existent like in donating blood at the Angkor Children’s Hospital in Cambodia to the skull and bones of the Oakland Raiders game. Last year I decided to sport the 80’s while painting up my buddy Hayden before a night out in the capital city of Sacramento, California. 

Best costumes of my backpacking journey most definitely go to the Sevens Tournament in New Zealand!

Halloween 2016 took me covered in pumpkin guts to pool side costume parties. Let’s begin!

First up, let me reintroduce you to Cole, creator and director of Enlightened Studios. You may recognize him from the post Music for the soul and friends for the spirit. All of us feeling like children, we gathered some pumpkins and snacks before clearing an area for the mess to unfold. Picking your pumpkin and design seems like it should be an easy task, but I feel like most of our time (meaning my moms) was spent on this process.

Luckily there’s extra thinking time as you hollow out each canvas. Sensitive to slimy seedy textures? This wouldn’t be a task for you then.

Pumpkins picked, scraped and cleaned… check! Now comes the carving tools to bring your ideas to life. Warning, these “carving knives” may appear stronger than they really are.

While waiting for everyone (mom) to finish, I lightly covered our seeds in coconut oil and a dash of sea salt for some home roasted treats, delicious! Cole went above and beyond and even painted his ninja turtle pumpkin green! I dig it.

After hours of snacks, pumpkin guts and laughing to tears we felt accomplished with our creations. Mom did the peace sign that sits to the left of Coles Ninja turtle and I went with the Om symbol.

Next up, dress up! I was lucky enough to be invited to a few separate parties to get good use of my costume. Fun fact, I owned most of my attire all ready, just added a few tattoos, gems and bedazzled jewels. 

The first gathering was a bundle of live music! With a gypsy sister (mom) as my hot date, we enjoyed our evening at the 30a singer and songwriter cafe. We were graced with the presence of Cole (Ace Ventura) from our pumpkin carving night and my angel of a friend Erica!

The following night was a larger party located in the same spot from the post Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach

My hot date for this evening? Enter Matt, remember him from Light attracts light? With a last minute decision, I through my same costume on and put a dash of eyeliner on him. A face tattoo and jacket created as close to a rocker as we could get him before we headed off!

A glossy swimming pool and clear sky made for the perfect outdoor party. Care to dance? A popular DJ played all night! Thirsty? Easy accessible bars surrounded the venue. Notice the photos projected on the wall? They were taken throughout the night and exposed for all to see, over and over… and over again. Photo from above curtesy of, check it out for more events! 

Our friends arrived as Cruella Deville and a Dalmatian, classic. Amongst others was a variety of characters from movies, politics and of course your traditional zombies, princesses, ghosts and the wizard of oz crew.
That concludes my better late than never Halloween post. Next up, the great outdoors! Till then, just keep smiling…

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Sir fish photo-bomber 

My final post for this round of Florida will bring you to the shore on Panama City Beach. My beautiful company for the day is my ever so popular mom and our dear friend Jeanie. This has now become tradition for each one of my visits. Nothing but us girls, a few chairs, snacks, drinks and tons-o-smiles. 

Look east and you’ll find high rise hotels boasting their view of the sea. Take a gander to the the west and you’ll see a few locals surrounded by the tourists staying in those hotels.

Our little set up was perfect, not to mention able to withstand the winds that others were having such difficulty with!

(I may or may not of giggled a few times watching people battle their umbrellas). 

Since I’ve completely bailed recently on keeping the blog up to date, I’m going to fast forward slightly and catch you up to what’s been rolling along in her happy trails.

First things first, I’ve returned to Barbados!

Arriving back to my home away from home, I was greeted by my guests. That’s correct, my friends from California beat me here but made time to join me for some traditional “must do” activities! This post is all about a cruise on the  Cool Runnings Catamaran! You’ve seen happy faces on this adventure many of times in several past posts. Here we are getting the rules (or lack there of) out of the way. 

A quick sail leads us right to the underwater land of sea turtles, tropical fish and salty smiles. 

By far the best underwater photobomb I have ever encountered! Well done sir fish… well done.

 Captain Orlando, Chad, Brandon, Zack and Sean… Thank you for making it yet another fabulous experience!

On the last evening before they departed back, we met up to enjoy the Oistins popular Friday night fish fry. Denny, Shawn, Ally, Jacob, Steve and Sini… Thank you so much for your company on this magical island and I truly hope it goes into your memory book of an unforgettable vacation! Ps, I’m holding you to the family soup tradition!


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Music for the soul & friends for the spirit

You all should be familiar of the tunes I’ve been sharing (you’re welcome) all over this blog for years now. The band Heritage has made its way on several posts and some of my most memorable ones are Grass bottom dance floor4th of July, Santa Rosa beach style, and the unforgettable opportunity going on tour with them shown in A man becomes what he thinks about! This round, I was lucky enough to score two evenings during my visit to Florida. Check out the scene at Fudpuckers in Destin, Florida!

The second show was at a new outdoor venue on 30A!  The Hub offers a stage, several dining options, indoor/outdoor bars and a welcoming seating area for groups to gather.

Hello friends!

Nightfall just enhanced the mood with well placed lights and a perfect moon to end the evening. 

Not all live music has to come from a big stage to brighten the day. Let’s move on to a Sunday afternoon with some of the vibrant people shown above. Enlightened Studios is. Home based production company that provides an environment to “promote positivity through music production, performance, and education”. With bright colors, happy decor and a variety of instruments, this house shouts as a wonderful gathering place!

With a surrounding like this, how does one refrain from making music? They don’t.

Wander outside and you’ll find the garage turned lounge, ping pong court and art gallery. The fun just doesn’t end! 

Hugs, love and all the good vibes to go with! Thank you Cole for your irreplaceable smiling eyes and always open door. You make a difference in the lives around you!

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

White sand in the Gulf of Mexico

Scenes from a postcard. Clear water next to white powdery sand, complimenting a blue sky and perky palm trees. I began to wonder if you could do one too many posts of this ambiance before they all start looking the same. I think not.  In my book, there’s never too much of the good stuff!

Lucky enough to live walking distance to the beach, I often found myself with sandy toes (amongst other areas) and salty wind in my hair. These are a random photos I took throughout the days either while on a run or just meditating my way through the afternoon in Panama City Beach, Florida.



Like most things in life, the more the merrier! We’re all getting to know Shanda (from previous posts) and on this day, we snagged a few chairs and headed for the water. Girl talk, wet feet and sunshine kissed shoulders. Yes please!


 ..and my favorite time spent with my sun loving mum.  



If you care to see more of this specific area, feel free to check out Beaches, boats and balladsHappy and healthy with sandy toes or Panama City Beach

See the tall buidings waaaayy down there? The second photo following was taken near there, the East end of PCB. (Plus I needed to squeeze in this handstand pic!)


Good night from Panama City Beach!


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Reduce, reuse and recycle… Into Art!

The Blue Giraffe was a huge hit last year as I introduced the gift boutique that sits perfectly on the historic road of 30A in Watercolor, Florida. This year, I’m going to go even deeper and expose some of the incredible people that share their work here. With over 90 artists and 70% being local, you can imagine the intimate vibe and comfortable feeling that this shop exudes.

Everything below is from different artist all using recycled material from the beach, the road, and anywhere else something could be left behind. Can you see the random items in these pieces?




This canvas work is made from broken glass that’s perfect placed by the brilliant artist Mary Hong.





Is drift wood always in your way when you’re playing in the water? Try creating an eye catching piece from it!



On this day, one of the local artists have come to display a few new unique pieces that are made out of primarily salvaged and repurposed materials. From bottle caps to collectors soda cans, Alan Moore produces one of kind work… please enjoy!







Below is his 2 eldest daughters, Emma and Isabella who also currently sell their artwork in galleries in Florida and Washington state. What a family!


On this day, the Moore family guided a good ol’ art project and invited the public to join in! They provided the materials and helpful smiles while the participants brought creativity and patience. What a success!







Of course I made one for my dear mom, I chose to use her favorite quote. The fun spirited “thumbs up” in the background is Alan himself!





At the end of the day, the Moore family gave funny faces as we close up shop.


I’m only assuming that several of you are interested in more of Alan’s work, so let me connect you!
Click here to be directed to the Moore Family Folk Art website.

Craving more from the The Blue Giraffe gallery? Push this fancy link!

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Do you believe in blue giraffes?

I do! Welcome to the inspirational Blue Giraffe or what I now call the positive energy of Watercolor, Florida.

Why a giraffe? As said by the owners themselves, “Giraffe’s have really big hearts (two feet long and 25 lbs. on average) and a big heart is what drives our business philosophy at The Blue Giraffe”.

This unique place provides an opening experience for the eyes and mind with the abundance of color, texture and artistic variety. As you snoop through The Blue Giraffe, you’ll think to yourself and hear from others, “Ooh, look at that” or “I wonder what’s that made of” and my personal favorite, “Oh wait, that’s a necklace…you can wear that!”


From local art to jewelry, books to knick knacks this stimulating boutique supports local designers and promotes recycling and reuse of what would normally be “waste”. Let’s check it out!
One must properly greet Jeanie the giraffe (named after her grandma) before you enter this magical place of art.

A quick look around isn’t possible as every space is filled with one-of-a-kind items. With that said, here’s a glance at the store full of happy handmade creations!









Mom pointed this one out to me, “That was made for you”. So when (if) I grow up and have a place of my own, you may or may not find this is on my wall!



Let’s take a closer look for all the inner “beach bum” in all of us!




The following pieces are all made with sea shells or recycled broken glass.



Here’s my favorite corner as it bring attention to the reuse of everyday items to create an eye catching work of art. Can you figure out what these are made of?



Some creative shots with my pretend fancy camera.





Look who I found! World, meet Christi. This is the brilliant owner who shines just as vibrant as the walls around her. She will greet you with a smile (and a piece of chocolate) every time you enter her home of pride and joy. Christi, thank you for sharing your passion with us. Your enthusiasm towards supporting the local talent through representing their incredible abilities is much appreciated by all!


…and a final goodbye to Jeanie as we depart till next time.


Click here to be directed to their official website!

Categories: Art, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Holidays in Florida

Last time I was here in Panama City Beach Florida, it was bathing suit weather, a swimming pool and ocean fun with the dolphins. You can see those posts in the mid July archive (to the right of the page). This round it’s gloves, scarves and Holiday festivities!

Almost to her home from the airport she had me put on a blind fold. What? I listened carefully as we parked in what seemed to be a wind tunnel (it was a parking garage that sat sea side). She then took me by the hand and led me on a short walk to an elevator. To prevent me from hearing the “ding” of how many stories we were going up, she had me plug my ears and sing “Jingle Bells” as loudly as I could. I then shuffled behind her as we ended in a silent room. I took off the blind fold and here I stood looking at a cozy condo decorated with love. Partly for a belated birthday (to my memory, this was the first birthday celebration that we were apart…ever) and Christmas.


Candles in cups of frozen yogurt? When I was a child, I would leave my cake and go for seconds of the ice cream. That being said, my observant mother starting decorating rice crispy treat cakes, ice cream sandwiches and frozen yogurt. Now that’s love!



The following morning we woke up to a Christmas Eve with more surprises. The blind fold and 20 story elevator ride had led me to her friends condo that she had reserved as a gift for us. Welcome to our new view for the next week. Check out the cool storm rolling in!



Since all of our things are packed away in storage, she had prepared our day with new blank stockings to design with random art supplies. We added some snacks and adult beverages to enhance our holiday creativity.







Perfect timing to finish up and embrace the open water and a peaceful sunset.



After the sun went down we decided (in a fit of giggles) to get bundled up and go for a walk. Here are the only three pictures captured: The start of the walk, some beach holiday decorations at a local diner followed by the handstand photo.




Time for bed now in hopes of a white Christmas morning… In Florida? It happened! We thoroughly enjoyed it with a morning toast on the balcony.



Santa decided to put mustaches in my stocking which were then distributed throughout the house. Simple entertainment!






As the day progressed with reggae music as our theme music, we played with our food and put together a puzzle.




My Grams told me if you lick the piece… It’ll fit anywhere. Experience is knowledge!




All games put away, holidays cleaned up and now a sunset to be thankful for as I sit with the woman who continues to be my biggest fan. We reminisced of the years together and I’m thankful to be able to look at her (in person) and give gratitude for her unconditional support. I love you Mom!



Categories: Accommodations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not just a Dolphin Tour

I like to focus on the present with a positive look forward, however just for a moment I’m going to step out the “travel blog” and tip toe through a bit of my past personal life. I feel this is necessary for you to grasp the emotional energy that surfaced during this part of my journey.

Please take note that some of the pictures and comments might “hit home” or “strike a cord” with some of you depending on your own experiences. I mean no harm… Just sharing what I view as a beautiful story.

Pamela is her name. The woman that carried me, delivered me, and raised me.
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I claim my mother to be one of my biggest fans. Most parents tell their children that “You can achieve anything you put your mind to”.
When my mom says this to me, she’s teary eyed and expresses it more like “I’m so amazed by you. You’re something special on earth and I love watching you accomplish your dreams. You’re going to impact so many people and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Yeh, I know… What do you say back to that? I feel like “Thank you” is an understatement for the unconditional love that she has supported me with all of these years (even the moments in which she claims aliens took her sweet girl and replaced her with a teenager).

Her story went like this:
Mom in the middle of 2008: “I have an abnormal mark on my breast”.
1st nurse practitioner gives Mammogram and exam: “Looks like you’re fine.”

6 months later

Mom: “I know my body. I don’t know what’s wrong, but something isn’t right.”
Nurse practitioner orders an ultra sound: “The ultra sound shows nothing to be concerned about”. During the test, the nurse tech mentioned that mom had dense breasts and that can make it difficult to read.
Mom: “Try again, look in a different spot”.

3 months later

Mom went back and asked for a different doctor. They sent her to a female surgeon.

New Doctor: “I haven’t seen your films, but nothing is jumping out at me. Breasts can change over time and this is normal.”

2 months and and many phone calls from my mother to the doctors…

Doctor: “For all patients who think they have cancer, following everything you’ve had done, the next step is a fine needle biopsy”.

First two came back negative so they followed up with a third fine needle biopsy.

It’s now September of 2009

Me: “Mom, I trust you, but they did tests and said you’re clear. No more stress ok?”
Mom: “Not ok.”

Doctor calls to set up a PEM Scan (Positron Emission Mammography).

Test results showed cancer and encourages them to give her a PET scan and a Needle Biospy MRI.

After 2 mamagrams, 2 Ultra Sounds, 3 fine needle biopsies, a PEM scan, PET scan and an extreme amount of persistence…

Stage III Breast cancer.

Nov 23, 2009- Bi-lateral Masectomy with 22 Lymphnodes removed.
January 2010- 6 months of chemotherapy (she refused 6 weeks straight of Radiation treatment).

Obviously all that was described above included many long nights, dreadful hospital visits, tears, exhaustion, teamwork, support from friends, patience, courage and an uncountable amount of hugs.

The morning she woke up with a rainbow of hair on her pillow, she called me that day. “It’s time to take it off”. With a hesitant but courageous stride she walks into my shop and sits while I prepare the clippers. Leave it to us to have a little fun with it.

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The beauty underneath it all…
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Personally, I think she dominates the bandana look.
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Then we head in for her first treatment. Previously they inserted a device underneath her skin so that they would have a direct line site rather than peircing her arm or hand each time. This was the first time it was put to use and not the last time I held her hand through it… Literally, I didn’t miss a session.
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All hooked up.
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Moms sassy side kept my faith up…
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..and her attitude kept the treatment center smiling.  Really take a look at the nurses, that’s not fake.  They loved her!
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They kept the room super cold but always had a heated blanket for us.
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During her treatment she would often say “When (not if) I make it through this, I want to be on an island.  Just give me sun and warm sand next to pretty water.”
She had no idea, but during this entire process I was planning to make it happen. So after her first “clean” test (and first haircut) we jet set to the gorgeous island of Barbados. What a vibrant place to celebrate her 50th birthday of life!
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She’s happiest near water so I set up a submarine tour.
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Goofing off on the boat.
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Before and especially since her cancer she has developed a “bucket list”. A list which includes the day that made my trip to Panama City Beach such a memorable one.
BLUE DOLPHIN TOURS is owned and operated by extremely kind people. Ted and Karen have a warm-hearted nature that is present in all conversation and a welcoming spirit that invites you in. If you are ever in this area, I can only suggest to the best of my ability to check this out. It’s an unforgettable experience! .

I could write chapters about this excursion, but I’ll keep it to the point with some fun pictures.
On this day I got to watch my mom go from a  51 year old “survivor” to a “full of life” 12 year old!
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This was our guide, Russell. He was another great addition to the day, in fact, he made the “tour” feel like a day on a boat with friends. His knowledge of the water and everything in it was impressive and comforting. Thank you Russell!
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We got to make him blush.
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Off we go!
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Snorkeling along the way! Russell jumped right in and starting searching for cool stuff!
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I chose to stay in the boat to capture these moments and had no idea of the emotions that would play in my heart. To see her truly happy from within, absolutely made my heart smile.  At one point I had teared up with inexpressible joy. My mom was finally in the water with these amazing creatures, doing what she had always spoke about.
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Survey says?
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Dear mom,
If I got to pick again… I’d still choose you.

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Panama City Beach

For the last two weeks, I’ve been visiting my amazing mom in Panama City Beach. This Florida coastal town is tourist friendly and certainly welcoming to anyone passing through. The people are kind as they speak with a southern accent while sporting around in flip flops (aka- slippers or thongs).
Most of my time spent here was catching up with my mom (this has been the longest we’ve ever been apart since the day I was born!) so here’s just a little snip of Panama City Beach.

This is Thomas’s Donuts. They’ve been around since 1971 and have been in several magazines as a “must do” in this city by the bay.   Considering I eat a donut once every couple of years, I thought this was a great opportunity to try a local favorite. (As if I need an excuse for a sweet treat).
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They open at 6am so mom and I thought we’d be sneaky and watch the sun come up together then walk down there to be the first ones in line!

The night before- Acting silly, plotting out our sunrise adventure.
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5:28am- Here we are on the balcony, waiting for the sun to peak up.
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5:52am- sunshine!
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Six thirty something- First in line? Nope. By the time we arrived, the line was out of the building and into the parking lot… and in the rain!
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Yes, that cute pup is looking at the “business” he just delivered while his owner was ordering.
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They have quite the variety to pick from.  Along side of the usual flavors there was also custard, red velvet, sour cream, blueberry, white cream, key lime, and at least a dozen more. 

Here’s our little sample pack. (Before)
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Live music in the park! 
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This was a local blues band that entertained us…
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…until she busted out the bubbles!
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Flamingo Joes is a restaurant off the beaten path that serves up a variety of coastal favorites.  From tuna wraps, bacon burgers, veggie pitas and turkey salads, the menu offers a large enough selection to please everyone.  I got the Swai fish Salad and mom ordered a classic hamburger with sweet potato French fries…. Yum!
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Crocodiles! Seeing any wild animal in a cage doesn’t thrill me, but being up close was pretty neat. They are definitely mysterious creatures.
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Yes, he sure does. Thousands of them! Shell lamps, shell jewelry, shell boxes, shell magnets, shell fans, shell coasters…
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…shell frames, plain shells, painted shells, shell belts, shell chimes…

Tourist time!
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This is a typical sky in the gulf. Beaming light from a dark cloud sitting on the edge of the water. This scene usually means to expect a quick thunder and lightning with enough rain in a few seconds to drench your not so water proof t-shirt. Then just like that, you’ve experienced a little storm drive by.  
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A walk to the beach to capture the sunset.
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The three finalist for the handstand pic!
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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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