It’s the week of Black Friday and as a small business owner that also means trying to capitalize on the potential sales for the weekend but also (attempting to) compete with big box. In reality, we know we can’t offer the same great “deals.” There’s no comparison. At least there isn’t in retail. For me, this weekend also means trying to make enough to pay the bills to float us for several of the next “hard + slow months” to come while also balancing all of the other financial obligations and surprise expenses that tend to surface when we don’t have much cash to spare.
2020 has cut many of us at the knees. I know it’s been a tough year on everyone. There isn’t a single person I know who hasn’t had some life altering event, illness, or hardship these last 11 months. We’ve all struggled emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. It seems like if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. This pandemic has rocked our world. We feel all sides of it. Hurt, panic, stress, fear, sadness, did I say stress? We are trying to navigate foreign waters we never thought we’d have to tread in our lifetime while keeping our community safe and respecting one another. However, we also know our economy won’t be able to bear the weight much longer and a collapse is imminent if we continue on like this.
Speaking from a standpoint of someone who is in a hard industry to begin with, adding a world pandemic, election year, and numerous other hurdles to the mix, I’m shocked I’m still here. To be very transparent, if this continues, I won’t be much longer. That goes for many others as well. However if things continue on like they have, I’m not sure I want to. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel more times than I can count these last 6 months. I read an article the other day that Amazon is up 100% and over 20% of small businesses have CLOSED in 2020. Do you understand how astronomical those numbers are? 20% of all small businesses in the United States. Amazon (other big companies were named you’d be all to familiar with) but one hundred percent!? I can’t imagine that kind of growth. Those numbers take my breath away and also break my heart. Because I know the blood, sweat, tears, stress, sacrifice and a plethora of other emotions and grit that go into trying to offer a product, experience or service (in my case all three) that Amazon can’t boast. I know what it’s like to be the cleaning lady, cook, book keeper, customer service representative, sales associate, shipping manager, merchandiser, among many other hats you adorn when you take on the roll of owning a store. To see all of that go down the drain is heart breaking and discouraging.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that I chose this. I’m not asking for pity or for anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m truly thankful I’m still going and that I have this opportunity. I knew it wasn’t going to be a cake walk or that I’d make a ton of money. I never went into this for the money. I’m telling you this because there’s purpose in what I and so many others do-this thing that might not seem like it holds as much importance as someone with a more prominent job title. I wanted to see my downtown grow and flourish again. I wanted to see the storefronts fill up with beautiful items staged behind glass for people to walk by and window shop after hours like they used to. I wanted to bring something unique to our town, to encourage others to take the leap so we could be a thriving community that was filled with shops, restaurants, family owned businesses that offered a trade and specialty stores, rather than abandoned empty shells or loan companies occupying our city’s historic spaces. Maybe it’s my reminiscent, old soul that refuses to let certain things pass along with the times but I truly don’t believe it has to be this way.
This choice I made has come with so many amazing friendships, opportunities, and blessings, especially the flexibility to be with my girls. Both of them have grown up in this store. My youngest literally has. She and I went back to work when she was just 10 days old and her first year of life was spent in a pack and play next to my register. My friend (then main street coordinator) Amy, would come by on her break and help me feed her while I tended to customers. She learned how to roll over, crawl, and said some of her first words within these walls. I would not have had that working a 9-5 for someone else. I also can’t imagine not knowing the some of the people I know now. Some of the most special individuals in my life I met from them walking in, and that was only made possible by this little shop on main street.
It’s where God put me for a time and a season, be it however long, but I know He uses me here just like he uses you during the majority of your day. It might be someone having the worst day of their life and they just need to come inside to escape and have a friend to pray and talk with. Or it might be a mom who’s waited years to finally have a baby and she gets to pick out their first outfit. It’s sitting in the floor having a heart to heart with my daughter or catching up with a friend. You never know who you might impact or what a small conversations can do for someone, and I believe we as small business owners with the personal connections we get to have with our customers is so important and needed. Not just for our services and product, but for relationships too.
This choice wasn’t taken lightly. Looking back I think I might have been a little crazy diving into something I didn’t know much about other than the two years I worked at a boutique in high school. I know I haven’t always made the best decisions and had so much to learn before I jumped into this journey, but my heart has always been for Ada and what it could be again.
I’ll tell you right now, I don’t want to live in a world where brick + mortar no longer exists. It’s been a dying breed over the last decade but at the rate things are going with 2020, extinction is on the horizon. I don’t want amazon prime and target to be my only options. I want to be able to go visit with actual members of our community and spend my money knowing that it’s supporting a local family and the place where we live. I’m not saying you need to carelessly spend money and buy things you don’t need just for the sake of keeping a store open. That’s not it at all. I actually think the opposite. But there are special occasions, birthdays, home updates, etc. that you could pick something up from us instead of priming it to your doorstep. We will make a way to do the same if need be if it meant you’d choose us over them. We do offer things that you use on a regular basis, not just something to add on a hanger in your closet or another throw pillow for your couch. (although we have a pretty great collection of those as well.) :)
When I shop I want to actually hand pick the merchandise I’m going to gift someone for their wedding or brand new baby. I want to have my item gift wrapped and stop to have a face to face conversation. I don’t want to spend money on stuff and junk just to spend it. I want a quality and thoughtful gift if I’m going to give one. We try to give back to our community when we can. We give a discount to our military and first responders any day of the week because we appreciate what they do for us. Same goes for our teachers, college students, and nurses on Tuesday’s. We also love supporting a local ranching family who are friends, by keeping a freezer stocked full of beef to sell directly to the consumer. Another unique offer and experience.
It might cost me a few dollars more. I might have to leave my house, get out of my car, and walk inside, but more times than not, I leave refreshed and grateful that I live in a small town that has a unique place to do business with. And friends, we need more of that. Our spirit needs more connection. Not just behind a screen. I know we are living under different circumstances for the time being, but this didn’t just start this year. It’s been going on for a very long time.
I can speak for Farm Girl and many of my main street neighbors when I say we are doing our best to adapt and accommodate. Farm Girl now has our entire store online, shipping nationwide and to Canada, we offer curbside pickup, and delivery. Stretching and growing more than I could have imagined just over a year ago. I never would have thought I’d be signing us up for Doordash to deliver goods around Ada or purchasing a sign to roll out in front of our store to show people where to park for a curbside order. I never thought I’d be doing 80% of my business online and 20% in person. Which, I know this year has skewed those numbers significantly, however, it was about 60/40 last year. We are stretched thin but doing whatever we can to make the consumer happy and keep our doors open. We are exhausted. It’s not as simple as just closing down for some of us. Our bills keep coming and are expected to still be paid no matter what state the world is in or our current situation. Completely closing could be detrimental to some families.
I’m so grateful that we had options to start working with when in store sales started to decline over the last few years and then 2020 happening. Being made to shut down early this spring for awhile was really rough. I thank God for our amazing online and local customers who have been spurring us on since March (and way before) because without them, I really don’t think I’d be gearing up for my 7th holiday shopping season.
We’ve gotten spoiled to instant gratification and having everything at the tap of our phone screen while also using our keyboards for conversation rather than communicating in person. I’m not saying it’s wrong to shop online (praise be that we have one!) or save where you can because you have to. I’m also not trying to take up for any business who’s truly been in the wrong that you choose not to support either. I get all of those things. I’m also a consumer just like you. But, I am trying to offer up some perspective from this side of the counter.
I also know that cost is a huge factor when choosing where to put your money. Small IS usually more expensive. But there is a reason, and good reason at that. I will always rather pay for for a job done right the first time, a great experience, and for a quality product. In many cases, you truly get what you pay for. I’ve learned that the hard way in some of my own choices.
I don’t want to give up on one of the great pastimes that has made it through the years. I don’t want to see the mom + pop vanish. It might seem silly to you but I’ve heard so many stories of what my store was “back in the day” or how you could park at one end of main and it would take an entire day to get to the other end because there were so many options to shop and eat. The great sidewalk sales, The Front Porch, Shipes Shoes, Evans Hardware, the corner drugstore, parades like the one below among so many other retailers, restaurants, businesses, and events. What a time to be alive and in community with other people.
If 20% (or more) of small businesses closed this year alone, how many people were without a job? It’s hurting more than we realize. Individuals, families, communities. When you spend small, your money stays small. It stays here. It goes toward the place you reside.
Fight for us.
We need you to rally. And I’m not saying just with money. You can share and like our posts, leave great reviews or encouragement, refer a product we have or a service someone provides to a friend before sending them online or to a big corporation. Prayers. All of those “little things” are just as important, they are free, and we all appreciate it more than you know.
I’m not speaking up just for retail either. I am obviously passionate about it because it’s what I do, but I’m also speaking for electricians, beauty professionals, auto repair, family owned restaurants/nutrition clubs, photographers, etc. Those are the individuals that will help support your child’s t-ball team or place an ad in their yearbook. I also want to say, I’m in no way trying to be insensitive of our healthcare workers or anyone who isn’t in this line of work by focusing in on one of the many issues of 2020. Though it might seem less in comparison, it will have serious and lasting affects on our country, economy, and people. This post has been on my heart for two years and with 2020’s struggle, I needed to finally share my concern for what I’ve noticed over a long period of time. The last several months have just confirmed it all for me.
It’s an honor to be invested in our community. My husband and I both. He’s a Firefighter/EMT here and I work a few blocks away from his station in the heart of downtown Ada. I pray one day it gets back to the way it was. In the mean time, support your mom + pop. Buy local, small, American made, handmade, and direct from your farmer and rancher. Be kind and love your neighbor and pray for our country. I want us all to make it, for Him to heal our land and hearts, and to get through this together.
We had such a nice family get away the last three days at one of our favorite places! We try to come to Broken Bow aka Hochatown each year and it’s one of the kids most talked about trips that they look forward to. I shared our cute cabin on stories this week and had a lot of questions about who we rented from and things to do so I thought I’d compile all of the answers in one post to send out.
This was my first time using Lakewood Luxury Cabins and we had a wonderful experience with them. We stayed in their Shadow Dancer cabin they just built and started renting this month. It is so beautiful! I loved the layout of everything-you can view the mini tour I did on my instagram under my Broken Bow highlight.
The cabin has two masters and then upstairs is basically an entire kids floor with two built in bunks, living area, bathroom, game area, and balcony. I’m almost certain the couch can pull out too.
We last minute decided to bring our sweet boy, Chief, who turned two. He had the best time and loved getting to do what he does best. Sleep.
It rained the entire time we were here so we didn’t get to do everything we had planned (go karts, canoeing, hiking, and a few other places) but we did enjoy just hanging out and playing at the cabin in the creek, shopping a little bit, visiting the petting zoo, panning for arrowheads, and visiting some of our favorite restaurants.
We always try to eat two meals at the cabin and one out. Pro tip: make an online grocery order the day before you go at Pruetts in Broken Bow. We had them ready when we drove in and was loaded up and off to our cabin in 10 minutes. This keeps us stuck to our list and from over buying food. Hochatown is going to be expensive to eat out as it has gotten more touristy over the years so we usually stick to this schedule and it works out fine.
Hochatime – The best tees, sweats, camp gear, and more! The owners are the sweetest and I always grab the best comfies there.
Corbread Trading Post-Located next to The Blue Rooster – fun gifts!
We had the best time just getting to be together. The girls played a lot on the play set outside, we cooked s’mores, played lots of ball with Chief, napped, watched movies, hot tub after the kids went to sleep, enjoyed reading and cooked some treats. I will say if you bring kiddos, go grab a cheap set of walkie talkies and rain boots to take! The girls had so much fun with those running around our place and keeps their feet dry. We usually carve pumpkins while we are here too but everywhere was out. We usually come third week of October though so we hit it a little late.
If you have any other questions let me know! This is one of our favorite things to do every year and we are actually coming back in December for our anniversary. I can’t wait!
I literally squealed when I got the email about partnering with Beddy’s. I’ve been eyeing these for the girl’s shared bedroom and they are game changers when it comes to bed making. Since they both share a room, it’s pretty tight quarters with two twin beds and not the easiest space for them to make it back each morning.
I love this company because there is nothing like it on the market. Each set is all one piece! Yes, sheet, blanket, AND comforter that goes on the bed like a fitted sheet. You also get a sham and coordinating pillow case. The all-in-one feature makes it so easy to put on, make, and wash. The quality is impeccable and my girls love the independence of getting to make their beds without needing help. Also to mention, they LOVE the comfort. Each set has a sturdy zipper on either side that makes it easy and smooth for a kid to zip it up.
We chose the Vintage Blush set but it was a hard choice next to the Nantucket. They have a wide variety of colors and patterns and Beddy’s comes in sizes toddler all the way up to king! They are perfect for any bed and there’s one to accommodate anyone’s style preference.
I plan to incorporate a set into each kid room for my home design clients next year. The versatility in colors/designs makes my job so much easier in decorating a variety of home styles. I never recommend something I don’t love or try for myself. The only thing I regret is not knowing about them sooner!
Beddy’s has so graciously given me a discount code to share with my followers for 15% off your order! Use code: FARMGIRL or click here to apply code at checkout. I’d love to hear from you if you decide to purchase one for yourself or kiddo!
If I can help answer any questions comment below or send me an email and I’d be happy to help!
Banana pudding is such a sacred, simple dish enjoyed at birthdays, holidays, backyard barbecues, and many other gatherings. It’s one of our favorite deserts and my go-to when I’m in a pinch and need to take a desert to feed several. It’s also one of my most requested Hayfield Meal treats by Zack. If you want to cart it to the field, just assemble in a Rubbermaid and attach a lid.
I made a big batch of this to take to the guys and thought I’d share the recipe I love to use. It’s super unhealthy but I’m not making’ ya eat it so don’t judge, just scroll on if ya don’t like it.
Banana Pudding the Farm Girl way.
4 boxes of cream cheese jello
2 cups of milk per box (6 cups total, box also gives instructions)
tub of whipped cream
2 bags of cheap wafer cookies. They are the best.
Teeny tiny splash of vanilla
Mix jello and milk and let set up for a few minutes. Whisk in whipped cream and vanilla. Grab a big bowl and begin assembling. I like my pudding in layers and start with cookies. Zack likes extra cookies in his so that’s why I buy two bags and layer heavy with them. Layer bottom with cookies, then slice bananas, add next layer with pudding. Repeat this until you almost reach the brim and finish off with a layer of cookies on top. Put in refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Take out and serve.
This past weekend was a check off of my bucket list and such a fun little getaway. Two weeks ago my friend Jess asked if we wanted to take a trip down to Round Top with our daughters and on a whim we booked a room at The Wander Inn. We took our oldest girls to The Pioneer Woman Boarding House almost two years ago but had yet to take our younger ones with us on a girls trip so it was time.
If you are planning a trip to Round Top, I highly suggest booking a room at the Inn for the full experience. It’s such a laid back, relaxing place to kick off your boots. So much attention was paid to the little details and Amie and Jolie have done a great job with the design of this property. We stayed in the Star Dust Room and it was such a cute room! We had a spacious bathroom, two queen beds, and a balcony where Jess and I would escape to after we got the girls in bed to sit under the ceiling of stars and just get to enjoy the quiet. If you are around four little girls all day, you already can imagine the luxury that is.
One of my favorite things was no TV. This place forces you to relax and enjoy a slow pace. I actually got to sit on the front porch with a cold drink in a rocker and read a little of a new book and it was glorious.
We had our room and then shared a living space in the Star House with three other guests. Its full of comfy sofas and chairs, a coffee bar, and a plethora of fun books. The girls enjoyed playing games and the old records reminded me of our home and record player we like to listen to.
Delicious hot biscuits are delivered right to your room in the morning and they were so good! We spent our Saturday shopping, starting with Junk Gypsy World HQ. Such a cute place with unique finds! I could have spent thousands between the bedding, clothes, vintage pieces, and gifts. We’ve actually carried Junk Gypsy’s boots, paint, and their book over the last four years in my store so actually getting to visit was a dream come true for me!
In true fire family fashion, about every road trip we go on, we usually find a cool fire truck! I’m going to start making it a tradition for us to stop and take a picture. This one was on their property and for sale!
We had lunch at Popi burger and spent the rest of our afternoon shopping around Round Top which reminded me a little bit of Mayberry! So many cute little places to eat and shop. We had the best pie ever at Royer’s Pie Haven and I scored some super cute used boots at Wimberly! The already broke-in kind are the best kind.
The rest of the afternoon we spent back at the inn so the girls could run around outside. They climbed trees, swung from the vines, played tag, games, and built a tepee out of branches. Jess and I got some reading in and I took my camera out and shot some pictures of the longhorns…..because cows. And it felt like I was right at home.
We picked up dinner and brought it back to the Inn. We had Manditos and it was so good! The girls finished off some strawberries for desert and ended the night playing flashlight tag and finding an armadillo. It was so beautiful here. The stars just shine a little brighter in the country.
Even though they can be a little wild, I enjoyed bringing our girls and all of the adventures we take the four of them on. I hope they remember all of the unique places we visit over years to come.
We are planning another trip with just us mamas one day. It’s a place that is just good for the soul. Until next time, Round Top!
Sometimes when you lose something special to you, pieces of that loss will show back up in other things. In this case, a horse.
13 years ago I lost “the one” to a brain tumor and it wrecked my world. That one horse you only get to have one time. The special one. He was my all around rodeo horse and we did it all. He was my safe place, one I could turn steers, run barrels, or hop on bare back in a halter and ride trails for hours. We were both 16 when he passed and since then I’ve had a lot of great horses but not one that compared to him in personality, disposition, athleticism, heart, etc.
I still have Flash, my heel horse but we’ve been looking for something I could head off of, Zack could learn off of, and something else the girls could hop on when they wanted to. I’ve looked for months and gave up hope long ago I’d ever find another Pete. Until two weeks ago. I was on a Texas Team roping horse group and came across this guy and just knew in my spirit I needed to try to get him. I could just tell. He traveled from The New Mexico/Texas state line all the way to our ranch yesterday and it feels like home. It might not mean a lot to someone on the outside looking in but I felt like yesterday I got a little bit of my Pete back and some of my heart. We had so many plans and lot of rodeos to do and I lost a lot of precious time but I’m excited to start some new memories with this boy who reminds me so much of him. I’m excited for him to teach my husband and let my girls love all over him. Next project as soon as hay season is finished is getting our arena up and breaking in fresh steers on this guy.
Horses have ways of healing places of your heart you didn’t know needed to be healed. Welcome to the Rafter PS Hugo. You are loved so much already.
Launch day is finally here! Welcome to my new blog. This space has been a labor of love for the last 8 months and I’m so excited to get back to writing and sharing.
After 10 years of blogging, I decided to give this space a facelift with the help of my sweet friend Talia and start from scratch. Most of my ramblings over the last decade have been geared more towards family updates and a way for me to get my thoughts out as journal entries for my kids to read one day. Albeit I will still be doing that, but this space will now serve a few other purposes and as a creative outlet for me. You’ll also find more recipes with http://farmgirlblogs.com/write-descriptive-essay/ , rabindranath tagore essay in hindi projects, faith, favorite things, happenings on the Rafter PS and more! I have so much planned for my little corner of the web and can’t wait to start sharing with you all. For the full effect, viewing on a computer is best!!!!
Every single detail on this design was personalized to me. The main logo is a redraw from a photo of me below. The rope, and horseshoe details to symbolize my hobbies. The Indian paintbrushes throughout as my favorite flower and a personal family sentiment. Our brand, my about story, love for music, rose the longhorn, a quote from one of my favorite books, etc. Everything was carefully planned and thought out.
The rural lifestyle is in my bones and I am grateful we get to raise our kids this way. I’m thankful I get to live out the rest of my days, still on the back of a horse, in a paintbrush covered field of cattle. What a blessing. I cannot wait to document this trail ride of life on my small corner of the web. I hope you enjoy this space as much as I do and hope it serves as a place where you can find unique things, laughter, encouragement, tips, and to use as a resource.
This post is long overdue as I’ve had one of my favorite home projects finished up for over a year now. I thought today would be the perfect time to share their room as I was asked to be this week’s feature with #thisishowiwestern on Instagram.
As a mama to two girls, I couldn’t wait for the day that they would get to share a room. Built in best friends, lots of bonding (let’s be real, arguing too), giggles, and fun has been had in this sweet little space and it’s easily my favorite room in the house. This room was previously Scout’s nursery and when it was time for her to leave the crib, we decided to move the girls in together and turn Paisley’s room into the play room. (post coming soon)
Our home is small and so are the rooms so my main goal was to make it as functional as possible while incorporating their style/personalities within these four walls. Our little ladies are cowgals through and through and it was so much fun putting this area together for them. I wanted it to be a sweet little oasis reflecting what they love and who they are.
We had my cousin “shiplap” the room. We actually used ply board which was SO much cheaper. He cut them into strips, painted them, separated them with quarters, and nailed them to the wall. It was a cheap way to not only brighten the room but add some texture.
We already had Paisley’s nightstand and bed so we just bought the same one for Scout. The lamp was from target several years ago that was also in Paisley’s old room. I’ll try to link as much as I can at the bottom of the post.
The wood dressers were actually what I grew up using and my mom let us have them. I love mixing metals, wood, and shiplap. It’s my favorite combo when it comes to design elements and you can find that style all throughout my home.
If you know me well, you know I love pictures and decorating with them. I feel like it’s what makes your house a home when it comes to design. After all, your space should reflect who lives there. It’s crazy that we took the photo that’s the big canvas two summers ago. My girls are growing too fast!
The bedding I had custom made for my girls. Vintage cowgirl print mixed with denim, sequins, blush, and cow print. Jodi also made coordinating pillows that are so stinking sweet! She’s also made the girls tepee.Their names are from metal letters I bought during an Anthropologie sale years ago and I had them mounted onto those boards to add some dimension.
Cassie with Wanderlust Skulls painted this custom buffalo skull and I love how it ties the main wall in their room together and that it’s also a piece I can use in other spaces if it ends up not working in their future bedroom when they are older.
One of my favorite accents are the floating shelves that display my old Breyer horses I used to play with when I was their age. They are our most played with toys in our home and I love the fun detail they add to this room.
One thing I wanted to do was make this space feel bigger than it is. I utilized every square inch I could and wanted to bring the outside in. I had my friend Donnette not only build the shelves for me but also the fun sheet metal awning. It transformed the room when we hung it up.
These pretty lace curtains are the same ones that hung in Scout’s nursery. I had bought them from Ikea for $4 four years ago. The doorknob tiebacks are from Urban Outfitters. We also had them in the previous room.
I also had these flowers in the nursery and carried them over to this space. They are just felt in a mason jar I bought from Etsy.
We hang our outfits for the next day on this cute little felt palomino. The bow frame was a baby shower gift from one of my friends and we still use it today, we just have several more accessories on it now. :)
If you’ve stuck around this long, thank ya! I loved getting to do this for my girls and honestly, love just hanging out here myself. It’s such a cozy space full of western flair. If you don’t already, follow along with me on insta @the.farmgirl for more home design and a peek into our crazy life.
Our big girl is four today and I wanted to share her Toy Story party we had mixed in with our Father’s Day cookout yesterday.
Toy Story has been a favorite around our home since Paisley was little and Scout has followed suit with loving it just as much, if not more than we all do. And, what a perfect time to turn 4 the same week Toy Story 4 comes out in theaters. I remember watching the first two growing up and also finding out Andy was the same age Zack and I were when the third came out the summer before we went to college. Safe to say, we are a bit sentimental.
This was such a fun table to put together. I didn’t do much other than order a few decor items, bring her toys from home, order a cake and get a water inflatable for the kids to play on.
I ordered Scout’s hat and boots from the Disney Store and my mom got this cute little dress from Target. I’m pretty sure she wore it for three days straight, including to sleep.
We’ve had this costume before when Paisley was two and Jessie for Halloween but obviously they’ve both outgrown it so it was part of her birthday gift from Zack and I. I purchased it as well as my “Andy Shirt” and Paisley’s tee from the Disney store.
The precious cake and cupcakes were made by Carrie from Every Little Detail. I purchased the topper (actually a toy) off of Amazon. I’ll post a link with these items at the bottom of the post where you can purchase on my Amazon store.
I grabbed a carboard box and wrote Sunnyside on it just like in the third movie and put the girls toys in it. It was such a fun way to decorate-for free!
I bought these sweet little stick horses from The Dandy Dill for the kids favor and so they could ride around and play at the party. The glasses, Scout’s Claw cup, and hats are also linked on my Amazon store.
We made homemade ice cream and bought Pizza from “Pizza Planet.” Zack’s shirt also linked.
It was such a fun day celebrating our sweet girl and an easy party to throw. I can’t believe our baby is four!
Below are the links to what I used.
Scout’s hat, boots, Paisley’s tee, ANDY shirt – Disney Store
We got back from vacation this week! Zack and I finally went on our honeymoon…almost 8 years later. Getting married young and broke didn’t provide the opportunity to take a trip before life started but we made it. We finally did it and it was the best trip ever.
I shared our trip on my instagram but had several questions about where we stayed, who we went through to book, resort hospitality, my outfits (which makes me laugh-I’m not a fashionista) and more so I thought I’d blog about the whole experience.
I’ll try to go in chronological order of the trip so I don’t miss anything.
First let me start by saying, if you are on the fence about going on a trip with just you and your husband, DO IT. And don’t feel guilty about it. I did at first. It was expensive, we would have to leave the girls for a few days, we were spending time on ourselves, etc. That’s OK. After being a fireman’s wife, I’m more aware that each day isn’t promised. I’m a huge advocate for making your marriage a priority and I don’t want to wait until we are old to spend time on us. What if we don’t get that time? Obviously Zack and I don’t travel and take trips often, it took us 8 years to get this one but now I want to spend more of our money on making memories and less on stuff. I’ll never forget this week on the beach and I can’t wait to have more family adventures like this with our girls.
I booked this vacation last year and I went through Staciwith Fairy Godmother Travel. She does anything from Disney trips to cruises to trips like ours at all inclusive resorts. She and her husband were newlyweds and my youth pastors my Junior and Senior year of high school so I loved being able to go through someone I knew and trusted. Not to mention, several of my friends have booked great vacations through her. My requests for this trip were tropical, all inclusive, pretty water, and white sand. She and I both did some research and we found our perfect spot.
What I love about going through Staci is that her services are free, she plans your entire trip from flights to transportation to and from the resort. She answered my plethora of questions and was so patient with me during the whole process. I’ve never really been anywhere so I had no idea what to expect. We also had the option to put a deposit down and pay here and there, having our trip paid in full just a month before we left. Otherwise we wouldn’t have had the chunk of money to put down and go. We have booked a surprise Disney trip for the girls later this year and are doing the same thing. I love having that option.
After lots of research we settled on Secrets Akumal in Riveria Maya. Hands down the most beautiful and accommodating resort. If you want a low key, adults only all inclusive place, this is it. Not once did I ever feel unsafe (we never left the resort) and it was such a simple process with getting there, checking in, etc. The staff was so helpful and we never asked or wanted for anything.
We left on Sunday and traveled most of the day. We had a little scare when Zack left his passport at customs but thankfully he got it back without too much hassle. Staci had arranged our transport from the airport to the resort which was about an hour and as soon as we arrived they took our luggage and gave us a tour. When we reached the lobby, someone was singing John Mayer live and we looked at each other and smiled, like this was the place. It was a sign. Haha (he’s my favorite musician) Being our honeymoon we went with a nicer room and had the Preferred Club Junior Suite Swim Out with a pool attached to our patio. We loved this and if we go back will be getting it again. We used that pool every day and swam a lot at night. Our room also had a large Jacuzzi tub inside. With the preferred club you also get access to more and its not that much extra. Our room was cleaned, bed made, mini bar re-stocked, fresh linens, and room picked up every day. They had a turn down service at night and would periodically call and check to make sure everything was going ok. One of our favorite things was the iPad in the room. On it, you would order your room service, book excursions, plan massages, and had the resort schedule for each day listed.
Made everything so easy and hassle free!
That evening we got settled into our room and walked around the resort. It gets quiet around 10:00 which I liked. They do have evening entertainment but this isn’t a party resort like some can be. We had a steak dinner and finished the evening at our pool. There are iguanas, geckos, and these Mexican monkeys roaming the grounds which were neat until they scared the daylights out of you in the dark.
Our first full day on the beach was awesome. The breeze coming off of the ocean made for a great nap and I had several of those while we were there. We played in the water off and on and used most of the day to get a good tan. The weather was incredible. We had a few showers while we were there but they never lasted more than five minutes.
They have a beach wait service that continuously brings food and drinks all day. The food was so stinking good. I’m pretty sure we had a cheese burger and quesadilla every single day and I love myself a good fruity drink. I was pretty shocked that we were about the only people there who tipped but we had great service and they deserved it. We did a dollar every time they brought something. I think Zack and I spent a total of $200 the entire time we were there and that was with transportation, room service, tipping all day and at meals along with the gifts we brought back and few snorkel items he purchased at the gift shop.
You can take the fireman out of the station but can’t take the station out of the fireman.
Our first night we had Italian which wasn’t our favorite but we got dressed up and had a good time. I wish I would have gotten a picture of the dress I wore that night. It was my favorite. An eyelet midi dress that zipped in the back with a pair of camel leather clogs. Most of the restaurants require dress clothes which I didn’t mind, we don’t get fancy that often.
Our second day was much the same and the following days would be as well. We spent the day on the sand and would get in the water here and there. Ate a lot and napped a lot. Everyone got a kick out of Zack’s fire helmet beach hat and mustache. From day one most of the staff referred to him as Poncho Villa. LOL My mom got the cute beach bag for me at Target and one thing you need to bring with you to the beach is a Bluetooth speaker. Zack and I love music and literally have it playing anywhere we are. I got this one for $19 and have it linked on my amazon store here. It’s also waterproof so it’s perfect for beach/pool days. I also got to read which felt like a luxury as I don’t have the time to these days. I’m a sucker for Nicholas Sparks and this was a great beach read.
That evening we got dressed up for Mexican and I had the best fajitas. Afterwards we came back to the room to change and get ready to go out for the night to the dance club.
We are creatures of habit and had a routine down for every day by the third full day at the resort. Zack would wake up and order us breakfast to our room. We’d eat and then get ready, trying to get there early enough to stake out “our” spot on the beach. We’d spend all afternoon there, snorkeling, napping, eating, playing corn hole, and whatever else that seemed interesting.
By 5:00 we’d venture back to our room and swim in the pool as he’d order “happy hour” food to our room. We’d peel ourselves out of our bathing suits long enough to wash the salt out of my hair, get ready and get dressed to go out for the evening. By the time we would come in for the night, we had a bowl of chocolate ice cream on its way. It’s truly amazing we didn’t gain 20 pounds on this trip.
Day three we snorkeled but had no luck seeing anything other than sungill and a stingray that we almost stepped on. The sand is so soft on the floor and they blend right in. We ate steak again for dinner and went shopping after. We really indulged in the New York strips, taking full advantage of this all inclusive deal.
I loved getting to fix up on this trip. It seems like all I wear lately are workout clothes. This might be why I had so many comments about the outfits-because I looked like a normal person! HA. But I enjoyed getting some fun pieces for this trip. This top is my absolute favorite thing I wore and I’m sure I’ll be wearing it completely out by the end of the summer.
Day four was a complete dream. We had been trying to find the sea turtles the last two days that the locals were talking about. Akumal is known for sea turtles and there were two nests marked off near the guard tower. There was word that there were some swimming just right off of the beach so we checked out gear from the dive shop to try to find them for ourselves.
We swam from the beach to the buoys and I saw a turtle head pop out of the water. We dived back down to look and there they were, swimming back to the floor and eating on some of the grass. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. We stayed for awhile and just watched. It was truly an amazing sight. You don’t realize how big they are until you are swimming with them. I wish I had brought an underwater camera to get pictures.
Shout out to our friends at Stache Salt for hooking me up with some sea salt spray for our trip. We watched the fire show by the pool that evening then ate dinner at Oceana and had seafood and cheesecake & ice cream for desert. So good! Zack met about four fireman while we were on this trip and we met a couple that we ended up hanging by on the beach the last part of our vaca that were from London. They travel often and said that this was one of the best resorts they’ve been to.
Our last full day on the beach was so much fun and the most enjoyed. We woke up extra early and were the first ones there. We claimed our perch, I took a walk up and down the beach then settled in for a nap while Zack got some snorkeling in early.
When it was time to pack it up for the day per usual we headed back to the room and went to the pool. Zack ordered an insane amount of food and we stayed out there for awhile before getting ready for the night.
We took a walk on the beach that evening and had one more steak dinner. Ended the night with a movie and completely worn out from doing nothing.
I had several ask about my bathing suits so I thought I would drop the links here. I loved all of them and they fit great.
All three of these suits can be found on my amazon store here. These fit so well and were a great price range. I loved the flounce on the mustard suit. The black top fit great (has adjustable straps and nice support too) on the middle suit as did the bottoms. They were high waisted and didn’t roll. The navy suit was fun with the side strap and it was super soft material but a little cheeky in the back.
These two are great but more on the pricey end. The black one is an excellent fit and is worn off of the shoulders. It’s from Albion Fit. I went with my normal size on it. The Mauve is such a pretty color and is a two piece from Kortni Jeane. The bottoms are high waisted which I loved. The only complaint for me is that the straps don’t adjust therefore it wasn’t the best support for a bigger bust. Regardless, they still worked and I loved having a variety of suits to wear since that’s what I wore all day everyday.
We spent a couple of hours on the beach the next morning and had one last cheese burger and quesadilla before we left around two. We had an extremely long day and night of travel back home but by that point we were desperate to see our baby girls.
We had the best time just getting to be us without any obligation to the world. It was truly the best time learning to relax and enjoy each other. Much needed break with my love and I can’t wait for us to take another trip.
If you have any other questions drop them in the comments and I’ll get them answered! A big thank you to Staci for her time planning our trip and helping us with everything. If you decide to book through her, tell her I sent you. :)
Also here is a link to our beach playlist if you need some good tunes. There’s a variety of genres and a good mix of jack johnson/colbie caillat.