Fall Reading List – Update

Voluntary Madness: This book is based on a true story of a woman faking her way into three admissions to three different psychiatric facilities. She tells her experience going through each stay. I got about a third of the way through this one and I honestly don’t plan to finish it at this time. For me, the tone was a bit too cynical. Since I work in mental health it was an interesting read but it brought me down a bit. I may pick this one back up in the future, but right now want to take a break from it.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Probably the best book I’ve read all year!!! Brene Brown is a true inspiration. She speaks in a way that is so true to life… honest, genuine, confident, and proud. This book depicts some of her work with resiliency and what really lies behind the idea of imperfection. Her descriptions of the work is so easily applicable to life that it is astounding. I would recommend this one to anyone looking for some life direction, a little motivation, or a pick-me-up. I can’t wait to delve into some of her other works.

Key West in History: I don’t know about you, but I love reading up on places that I have traveled or will travel to. The tough part is finding a book that is the right amount informational but not boring. This book filled that criteria really well! It was informative without being dry and I think that if you’ve been to Key West or plan to go that it is a must read, XOXO.

Key West, FL

As you may have seen in a recent travel post, this summer I was fortunate enough to take a trip with my family to The Florida Keys. One of my favorite parts of the vacation was our day trip to Key West, which was so much fun! To start, the actual drive down is gorgeous. I have seen it on many “things to do in your lifetime” lists and would recommend that you add it to yours. The famous Overseas Highway is how you actually get down to Key West. From our hotel in Key Largo, which is the northernmost Key, it took a little over two hours by car… and you need to do it by car. I promise that you won’t regret it. It’s a one road in and one road out kind of deal and the scenery will take your breath away. It literally feels like you are driving on water because the ocean surrounds the road. Amazing!

Since most of the family members we were with had been to Key West before, we first stopped at a few of their go-to’s including El Mason De Pepe, a Cuban bar and cigar shop, and Hogs Breath, a famous bar that has the yummiest drinks and a fun atmosphere. From there, we visited The Southernmost Point in the US and Mallory Square… two essentials on the island.

We spent most of our day sight-seeing and exploring what Key West has to offer, a lot of which is located on Duval Street. Downtown is filled with unique shops, bars, and restaurants. We went to Flying Monkey’s Saloon for frozen drinks, the original Margaritaville for lunch, and Sloppy Joe’s for a live band. Needless to say it was a good day on Duval!

Other notables from our Key West trip included US 1 Mile Marker 0 and the Key West Lighthouse, both historic and must-sees in their own special way. We ended the day with a beautiful sunset on the island as we drove away. Sunsets in Key West are a nightly celebration and likely the biggest must-see of them all.

Key West is truly one of those places you have got to see and experience for yourself. There is a rich history to tell about the island… everything from pirate ships to famous poets and lots of things in between. I know I will be back again to see some things that didn’t quite make our day trip itinerary. There is so much to do and see that you won’t be able to get to everything in one day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! If you get the chance to go, GO!!!

Have you ever been to Key West? Anything I missed? XOXO

Key Largo, FL

Earlier this summer my husband, parents, and I traveled down to The Florida Keys for a family vacation and celebration of my father-in-law getting married. I’ve been to Florida a couple of times, but never to The Keys so this was a really exciting trip!

We stayed at Marina Del Mar on the island of Key Largo. Other family members and wedding guests stayed right across the marina at The Holiday Inn. The hotels were associated with each other so it was easy to jump back and forth throughout the week. Marina Del Mar had a lot of of the old school Keys feel while The Holiday Inn was a bit more updated, but both were great! Here is a panorama of our view from the room…

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We had our fair share of seriously amazing food on the island. Each place we ate had a few things in common including water frontage, live music, and a relaxed feel. The first night we knew wanted one thing and one thing only… seafood! We found a super cute restaurant Snapper’s that gave us a great first taste of what would be many freshly caught meals that week. My favorite restaurant was Bayside Grille, which had a perfect mix of relaxing but upper scale feel to it. It was there that I caught my first glimpse of a Florida Keys sunset…

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Our hotel was right in the middle of two restaurants, Skippers Dockside and Sharkey’s. We ate at both several times because of the charm and convenience. Skippers Dockside had a gorgeous deck and outside seating area equipped with lawn games and a few fire pits. Inside there were beautifully decorated seating areas and a fun bar. Sharkey’s was very casual. It was more of a party place and we sure did party! The group of men that were on the trip did some fishing on a charter boat and Sharkey’s fried it up for us. It was literally the best fish I’ve ever had! We also ate at The Pilot House Marina & Restaurant, a fun restaurant that had a glass bottom bar. And we couldn’t forget about dessert! Key Largo Chocolates was our go to ice cream stop throughout the week. It is a must stop for gourmet sweets, even if you’re just passing through.

The main attraction on Key Largo is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. We spent a whole day here sun bathing, relaxing a bit, and snorkeling. It was a fun way to truly experience The Keys as most people spend their time in The Keys right on or in the water. If you ever do go snorkeling here, take Dramamine! We went out on a overcast day. The waves were high and my stomach was not happy with me. All in good fun, though.

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And of course a vacation wouldn’t  be complete without a little bit of shopping. Shell World and Florida Keys Gift Company were great souvenir stops, though they also had quite a bit of home decor and other fun treasures. Pink Junktique was a cute thrift and consignment shop filled with many girly finds.

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A few last tidbits that you should know about Key Largo in case you ever do go… It is the oldest Key, closest to the main part of the state, so keep in mind that many things look a bit run down. The feel on Key Largo is very old school and classic. There is one main highway that goes straight through all of The Keys and we found that once you get off the main drag you will find many hidden treasures. Everywhere on the island is very relaxed so don’t pack anything too fancy. You’re much more likely to see people dressed in swimming suits and cover-ups than suits and ties. Lastly you absolutely have to get on the water! Everything is based on a marina, ocean, or lake. Get your booty on a jet ski, fishing boat, snorkel tour, or just take some time to swim around. You won’t regret it!

Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on the second main part of our vacation, Key West, XOXO.