Paying Down Debt: You can be financially responsible and still be extra.

Disclaimer: This is what worked for our family, every situation is different.

Chase and I both come from poorer backgrounds. Money management wasn’t a strength for us in the beginning, because we had never had money to manage. We were also very young when we got together.

During the first 3 years of our relationship we racked up debt. Chase was relocated to Minnesota and we spent a lot of money traveling back and forth to see each other. In 2015 we got married, another expensive endeavor, and we still didn’t make a lot of money.

Best. Day. Ever.

In 2016 Chase was relocated to Kentucky and we were thrilled. Not only would we be closer to family, the cost of living was so much cheaper than Minneapolis. We knew our debt had to go before we could have a baby or buy a house. So we set out to pay off our debt.

The first thing you need to do is get a clear idea of how much debt you have. Including separate accounts your partner may not know about. This can be a difficult conversation, but it’s important to be honest and open.

Make a list. For us we had a credit card with a small amount, two with larger amounts, two car payments, one medical bill, and two student loans.

It can be so overwhelming.

We used the snowball method. Paying the minimum amount on all debts until paying off the smallest one, then applying that money to the next smallest one. Any extra money we received, like for selling something or as a gift was also applied to the first debt.

Everyone has different situations.

Not everyone gets a Christmas bonus. But Chase gets them with his company. We always picked a debt to pay with them. Once bonus money goes into the account it’s easy to spend it. We discussed before it came exactly what we wanted to do with it. Once it was deposited it immediately went to debt.

Paying off debt is a long process it doesn’t happen overnight. We started doing this in 2016. We paid off our last debt: one of Chase’s student loans in 2020. Keep chipping away and don’t get discouraged.

No groundbreaking secrets there, but that’s how we paid off our debt. We cut back on shopping and dining, but mostly lived our life as normal.

Now for my tips that are more unique to my family. I’m an “extra” person and I love to shop. I spend money on gifts, themed play dates, and other extras. But that all adds up and we didn’t want to fall right back into debt. I also didn’t want to give those habits up. They bring joy to myself and others.

So I sought out ways to be extra on the cheap side and here’s what I do.

1) I started a side hustle. This isn’t going to be something everyone can do, but it’s more accessible than you think. I started a blog and a reselling business on Poshmark. But it can be something as simple as selling old items on Facebook marketplace and saving that cash for fun stuff.

2) Speaking of Facebook Marketplace. I make our items work for us. If we’re done with something I always sell it. Whether on marketplace, eBay, Poshmark, consignment , the local mom page, or at a yard sale I always sell the items we’re done with.

3) Shop Used. Not only is this more economical. It’s so much better for the environment. We recently redid Sharkie’s room. I shopped on Facebook marketplace and Goodwill and was able to re-do the room for 1/3 of new.

  • Goodwill
  • Ebay
  • Poshmark
  • Mercari
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Yard Sale Pages
  • Local Consignment

These are all great places to start looking for great items.

4) Shop Off The Wall Places. I know some people are off put by places like TJ Maxx. They can be disorganized, but I find the best stuff for the best prices.

  • TJ Maxx
  • Marshall’s
  • Ross
  • Home Goods
  • Burlington
  • Ollie’s Bargain Outlet
  • Big Lots

5) Shop Ahead. This one requires a little extra room and money but if you have both this one will save you a lot money in the long run. When I see sales or find something great but maybe seasonal I go ahead and get it and hang onto it.

I snagged these items recently, but plan to save them for Fall. I got them at Ollie’s so they were cheaper than buying craft kits this Fall.
I also snag items for major holidays like Christmas and birthdays. Saving these Sharkie’s stocking.

Every family is unique, but this is what helped us pay off our debt. The other tips help me maintain my “extra-ness” without breaking the bank.

Currently the only debt we have is our mortgage. Hopefully we can keep to our plan and remain debt free. It’s so easy to get into debt; but getting out is 100% worth it.

Celebrating Father’s Day When You Don’t Have A Father

It’s the month of Dads and Grads

June is a busy month. Most are getting out of school, it’s a popular wedding month, summer has started, graduations galore, and of course Father’s Day!

Of course we’re partial. But we think he’s the best dad in the world.

I love Father’s Day. I love any excuse to celebrate. I love celebrating Chase and the wonderful father he is to Sharkie and our fur kids. I love watching others celebrate their amazing dads, granddads, uncles, or other amazing men in their life. But it always makes me a little sad, I don’t have a dad to celebrate.

Maybe you don’t either, if you don’t this post is for you.

Me and my Dad. Mid 90s

Growing up I knew my Dad loved me. Problem was he could only love me and my brother in a way that was convenient for him. Unfortunately my dad was a 3rd generation alcoholic.

As a kid I knew my dad would be there for the important stuff. When you’re little that means holidays and birthdays. I only realized as an adult my mom had probably both begged and threatened to make that happen.

As I got older he was less and less reliable for even those occasions. Eventually my mom gave him a shape up or ship out ultimatum. Like so many addicts he left when I was 8ish. I saw him a few times a year until I was 16, I haven’t seen him since. My parents divorced after I graduated high school.

I have never admitted to a single non familial soul in my life that my dad was an alcoholic who choose booze over his family. But I think it’s important to break stigmas. In 2021 we still don’t discuss alcoholism as much as we should. It still carries a stigma. Just as being a fatherless child does.

My amazing mom

Everyone thinks they have the best mom on the planet but I actually do. My mom is the most amazing parent. She never taught me to hate my dad, never once vented to me how he treated her, she shielded me from a childhood of pain. All while teaching me to love, remember the good times, but to stand up for myself and know you don’t have to put up with things that aren’t right. My mom was patient and taught me that while alcohol isn’t evil, it’s addictive. Alcoholism can hereditary. Whenever I think about booze I thank Heaven for a mama who taught me that it was okay to enjoy in moderation, but like any drug it was warrants caution. My brother and I have broken 3 generations of alcoholism and her thoughtful parenting is 100% responsible.

When you grow up in a bad situation it can be so easy to blame yourself for what happened. As you grow up it can also be easy to blame your shortcomings on things you feel like you missed in childhood. For me I missed out on a normal Dad. Neither is the case.

It took me a while to get here. But I’m in a place now where I’m at peace being estranged from my dad. After Sharkie was born he wanted to communicate again. I was okay with doing so via social media because I didn’t want any regrets on my heart. I gave him a chance and he blew it.

That’s okay. When people, even family, show their true colors, believe them.

Sometimes I remember the good things about my dad. If he was home he usually wasn’t too busy to play board games. He made me pancakes on the weekends. Sometimes we played catch in the yard. It can be healthy to remember good in a person. No situation is 100% black or white. Not yours, or mine.

Still, a few happy memories aren’t enough to erase the hurt and the pain he caused. I don’t want a relationship with my dad, but Father’s Day is still hard.

The good news: Father’s Day isn’t exclusively for Dads. When I was little I had 3 amazing men to celebrate.

Sharkie and I have the same frowny smile.

My amazing Grandaddy. He was always there for us. He took me for rides on the four wheeler. Came to my elementary school for birthday parties. He and my Nana took me on $100 shopping spree at Walmart every birthday. He gave me my first car, and nobody adjusted my side view mirrors better.

My brother.

We’re as different as night and day. Eight years older than me, most people don’t even know I have a sibling. We fought like cats and dogs. But I could always count on him. Fixed my car, helped me with chores, always there for advice.

My Uncle Michael

Lastly, my moms brother. The most amazing uncle ever. He sent me a card on every occasion. He always slipped me a little money, and bought all my favorite snacks.

Father’s Day can be hard. Growing up fatherless is hardly Having an alcoholic family member is hard. Both can come with such stigma. But you’re not alone. Others can relate. If sharing my story can help one of you reading, then it was worth sharing.

You are still worthy and chances are you have other remarkable men to celebrate. Whether it’s your husband, uncle, grandfather, brother, or step father.

I understand and I’m here for you.

Road Tripping with Kids

If you’re like so many Americans you’ve got the travel bug. Being home all last year has us all itching to go somewhere.

Some may not be ready to fly yet, or maybe you’re just partial to road trip, our family is. My husband is tall and planes are uncomfortable. Plane tickets for three are expensive, so we road trips 95% off the time.

So we hit the road

We always pack a tablet, but I try to keep Sharkie off it as much as I can. She doesn’t need 13 hours of screen time. So I always pack a road trip kit.

These boxes are less than $5 and reusable. Perfect for everything we need. I let Sharkie decorate them herself with stickers we had at home.

When we head to Disney next week we’re also traveling with my 7 year old nephew. So I made a boy box too! Honestly preparing these before a trip is super fun. Sharkie helped and we spent the better part of a day getting them together.

I try to keep what’s inside the box between $10-$15.

Dollar Tree, Five Below, and Target One Spot are great places to stock up. For Sharkie’s box I added this microfiber cleaning cloth (we’re gonna use it as a puppet) $1 at Dollar Tree, a bag of candy $1 at Dollar Tree. We also got the small Disney figure at Dollar Tree. They almost always have these in a ton of choices and they’re great for car play.

These magic ink color pads are a must for toddler travel.

We already had the tiny magna doodle, but it was $1 at One Spot. The coloring pads are $3.

Lastly I packed a fidget popper we already had and some glow sticks for nights in the park. Hopefully this saves mama money on glow toys.

For my nephew I packed a lot of similar things so we didn’t have any arguments, but age appropriate since they’re 4 years apart.

The only differences are he got crayons instead of a mess free pad and a puzzle instead of a puppet.
This seemed like something that would keep him occupied. $1 at One Spot.

Since for my nephew this is a once in a lifetime trip I tried to make it a little extra. Y’all know I love to be extra. So I got each kid a Disney Parks Wishable from Five Below for $5.

I was so stoked to find these. A friend shared this and we ran over. We normally don’t shop Five Below. Going to let the kids open on the drive.
Target has a great selection of summer items right now and this road trip game should pass a lot of time. Age appropriate for both kids too. You can get one here.
One last addition. Bugs are everywhere in Florida evenings. These will help.

Hope these kits help you plan an awesome summer road trip with your kiddos. Whether you’re going to Disney or somewhere else.

Getting a Puppy? Here’s what worked for us.

Meeting Tia

So you’re thinking about getting a puppy. Maybe you just got one.

Tia is 10 months old today, but since she’s as big as a horse, sometimes I feel like she’s not a puppy. But in reality she’s growing up, but still a baby.

I am by no means a dog expert, but I wanted to share what worked for us.

Growing up I had a plethora of animals so I thought I was prepared for a puppy. Although my family hadn’t had one since 1998.

Pretty pretty princess Tiana

Since Tia is my second child I prepared for her like I did for Sharkie. I read several puppy books. I highly recommend The Puppy Primer.

Be open to speaking with whoever you’re adopting from. We got Tia from a breeder because I wanted a golden for their reputation with children. After waiting a year for one to be available via rescue we picked a breeder.

Our breeder recommended @originalsnugglepuppy and this was game changing. Tia slept with her puppy and LOVED. It comforted her at night and she never cried.

These were invaluable.

Set your puppy up for success the way you would a child. I removed things from her access I didn’t want her to bother. I puppy-proofed our home by utilizing baby gates and hiding cords.

We crate train and we did graduated crate method. Dogs feel safer in a crate that is small, but gives them room to turn around and sit up. Tia went through 3 crates before we got the adult size. If we’re gone or sleeping she’s in the crate. The crate should always been open and become a safe space for your dog. Tia crates herself if we annoy her.

Sweet golden girl

As a puppy I watched her like a hawk so I could stop any behavior I didn’t want. If I couldn’t fully have my eyes on her she went in the crate.

This method has kept her from chewing cords, shoes and furniture because I nipped those urges in the bud. Be sure you have lots of chew toys, especially with a golden. When you scold for chewing something inappropriate immediately give an appropriate item.

While these are my top tips for a new puppy it’s not all inclusive. If you have any questions let me know. Don’t be afraid to call in experts. While I taught Tia “go crate”, “sit”, “fetch”, and “catch” we took her to school to learn more commands. If you’re local I recommend @petsmart Brannon Crossing.

Goldens live up to their reputation. This sweet girl is so amazing with Sharkie.

Happy Girls

Let’s Talk about Hyperhidrosis: Breaking the Stigma.

Hyperhidrosis is hard to talk about.

This is a hard post for me to write, but I believe in using my experience to help others with their struggles. Did you know approximately 15.3 million people are affected by Hyperhidrosis in the United States alone?

So what is Hyperhidrosis? Hyperhidrosis is characterized as excessive sweating outside of “normal” sweaty activities like exercise or hot weather. Hyperhidrosis can affect the scalp, hands, armpits, feet, or face. A person worn Hyperhidrosis can have one area affected or all of the above areas affected.

I’ve had Hyperhidrosis since I was 11 years old.

I remember on my very first day of middle school I chose a bright orange glitter softball tee from Limited Too. I thought I was super cool. I didn’t realize I was sweating through in the armpits until some girls in my class questioned me about it. (Such typical middle school girl behavior) I was so embarrassed. I’m affected by Hyperhidrosis only in my armpits. I’ve always been a fashion lover, but from that day on my fashion choices changed.

I spent the rest of middle school always wearing jackets; dark colors, or tanks anything to make it less obvious.

I hoped it was something temporary, some byproduct of puberty that I would grow out of. But by the time I was in high school, I was still dealing with it. Back then there weren’t as many options, and nothing over the counter. I eventually got a prescription strength deodorant. This one required application at night and irritated the crap out of my skin. It didn’t work.

Back to hiding behind my clothes I went.

By the time I was a senior in high school, my situation was better, but it wasn’t perfect. I became a little more confident in what I could wear, but still spent a ton of time with my arms pinned to my side. No deodorant helped.

Freshman in college: still no relief

Fortunately products for Hyperhidrosis became somewhat more common when I was a upperclassman in college and I found Secret and Degree clinical strength to be effective 75% of the time for me. Still 25% of the time I was dealing with the stigma of Hyperhidrosis.

Hyperhidrosis is always hard on clothing. Here are my favorite drugstore products.

All of my general doctors seemed to believe this was good enough treatment and since this wasn’t a pressing medical issue I should just live with it. Dissatisfied. But I began to believe this too. This wasn’t going to kill me and I just needed to deal.

It’s been suggested that Botox shots can help Hyperhidrosis afflicted areas. But at the time this wasn’t something I could afford.

5 years ago I went to the dermatologist for my annual skin check. (Definitely do this if you’re out in the sun a lot or prone to moles like I am) I finally got up the courage to tell her what I had been dealing with, worried that she would be another doctor who didn’t think it was a big deal.

Fortunately, she was a good doctor who suggested a prescription pill I could take and y’all that was life changing. While there is no pill specifically for Hyperhidrosis. Robinul, which is what I take was intended for stomach ulcers, but a side effect is it dries up glands.

Worked like a charm for me. Sweating is still an important body function. You don’t want to stop it completely, and on this drug I still sweat in situations where I need to like hot temps and working out.

If you’re dealing with Hyperhidrosis, you’re not alone. I’m talking about this today to break the stigma and raise awareness in this as a valid medical condition. If you’re faced with doctors who don’t think it’s a big deal keep trying until you find someone who cares.

Hyperhidrosis affects your mental health and that is a big deal!

Raising a Traveler

Sharkie loves traveling

Whether you have wanderlust in your heart or just want to raise a child who does, travel is something that doesn’t come easy to most children. Especially young children.

As a mother of one I’m not a parenting expert. But I do have a child who loves to travel and I wanted to share what works for us.

Firstly, manage your expectations. If your child has never traveled before the first trip probably won’t go perfectly, and that’s okay. Children, especially toddlers are creatures who thrive on routine.

Sharkie’s first night in a hotel: 3 months old.

Sharkie has been traveling since she was 3 months old. The biggest key for raising a traveler is repetition. The more you go, the more your child will be able to handle. Going on vacation frequently probably isn’t feasible, try visiting or simply staying the night with family to get your child used to nights away from home.

When Sharkie was a baby, I packed everything but the kitchen sink.

Don’t be afraid to pack everything you need. I drive an F150. When Sharkie was an infant that flatbed was full. I packed anything I thought I’d need to make it feel like routine. Everything I used at home at any point during the day. I even packed her play mat when we traveled.

Thank Heaven she’s a toddler now and needs way less, but I still pack everything we use at home during a regular day.

Sharkie at Biltmore: Asheville, NC

Stay on routine as much as you can. Choose hotels close enough to where you’ll be to go back for naps, outfit changes, or anything else you need. Mimicking a day at home keeps your child happy and pleasant.

Pack familiar foods. I learned this the hard way, but Sharkie eventually gets tired of eating Disney food. I pack fruit, goldfish, and other familiar snacks. Since I started doing this she gets less stomach aches and our days are much smoother.

Sharkie: Jacksonville, FL

Practice social situations. If you don’t do much in your own city, your child may not know how to act in social situations. I take Sharkie to stores and events here in Lexington, but we rarely eat out. Before we travel we typically do one “practice” table meal at a restaurant so we can work on table manners. Try a local museum or park, or other places where your child may have to wait and be around others so they know what to expect on vacation.

Practicing table manners

Kids are unpredictable. You can set them up perfectly and they could still blow up on a trip. They’re their own person after all. But I have found that starting early and setting them up for success makes them pleasant little people who enjoy seeing new things.

Giboney: Party of 3

Don’t be afraid to travel with a young child or even an infant. They can enjoy it, even if they don’t remember it; you will.

Interested in what to pack for your child? Click here.

Easy Disney Paper Crafts

Sharkie loves crafts. She would make something everyday if I had time.

It can be so frustrating to look for a cute craft idea online and then find out it needs $25 worth of craft supplies you don’t have at home.

I love these intricate projects mentioned above but they’re just not practical to do all the time.

These ants are slightly more detailed than the rest I will share, but easily made with items found at home or kept in a craft drawer.
With them items on hand you can make so many things. You can purchase them all for around $20.

Being a Disney kid, most of the crafts Sharkie in wants to do are Disney related. We love having Disney magic at home!

Mulan fireworks: we used construction paper, paint and glitter pens. Such a fun opportunity to get messy.
Finding Nemo handprint art: paint and paper!

Crafting doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect to be fun! Your kids will love anything you do with them. Sometimes the simple memories are the best.

Help the Earth this Earth Day (and everyday).

Animal Kingdom is a great park to spend Earth Day at.

5 small ways and 1 big way you can help the environment.

Sometimes I feel like their is a misconception that to help the earth you have to do all or nothing. But there are some small ways you can make a difference. These are some of the habits we have incorporated into our daily life.

This Lilly print is a favorite of mine.

First you want to look for ways to reduce. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is more than just a mantra, it’s actually the order you want to use things. Reducing consumption and reusing items has a smaller environmental impact than recycling but of course recycling is better than trashing.

Easy Change 1-We reduce our consumption of paper towels by using kitchen dish towels like this one.

So cute and fun!

I do all of my cleaning with towels like these and we use for hand drying as well. We keep paper towels for glass cleaning purposes only, so we rarely buy them.

Easy Change 2- it’s so easy to pack pouch food in your young child’s lunches. They’re mess free and I totally get it. Sharkie loves pouch yogurt. But that adds so much to the landfill. We reduce our consumption of these by purchasing these reusable ones.

You can even get them Disney-fied.

You can purchase a 10 pack of these pouches here. They’re even dishwasher safe!

Easy Change 3- Now that we’ve reduced let’s talk about how we can reuse. One of my favorite ways to reuse is to purchase second hand. While I’m a frequenter of Goodwill, it can to even beyond that. Don’t let the misconceptions discourage you. You can find really nice stuff at Goodwill or on Facebook Marketplace. I’m currently redoing Sharkie’s bedroom and have found Lilly Pulitzer bedding and Pottery Barn furniture gently used. Not only does this help the environment, it saves money. I also sell or donate our old stuff instead of trashing whenever I can.

Easy Change 4- This one is for my female readers and while it’s not for everyone it helps a ton!

In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year. While many of these products end up in a landfill, others clog sewers or contribute to the staggering amount of plastics in our oceans.

I’ve recently switched to reusable period products. I’m actually obsessed with my Knix Period Panties. I have less irritation and I’m not filling a trash can all the time.

These are my favorite ones! I recommend going one size up if you order.

Easy Change 5- During the Covid Pandemic we’ve all been ordering so much online and that’s totally understandable but those packages add up. I use all my boxes, tissue, and packing materials again to ship out for my business. If you don’t have use for the materials yourself, ask friends and neighbors if they need before recycling.

All of my Aquabeau Packages may not be adorable, but we’re helping the environment.

Now for the big way, and fair warning this one isn’t popular with everyone.

Quit Purchasing from Fast Fashion Brands

What’s a fast fashion brand? Well…Fast fashion brands produce pieces to get the newest style on the market as soon as possible. They emphasize optimizing certain aspects of the supply chain for the trends to be designed and manufactured quickly and inexpensively and allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price.

Brands like….

  • Old Navy
  • Zara
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Primark
  • Uniqlo
  • H &M
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Shein
  • Forever 21

Most of the stores on this list are on my never ever shop, a couple of them like Target I shop for clothes selectively. They produce things quickly, cheaply, and in poor quality.

I use to love shopping at Old Navy but I noticed the clothes looked like heck after one wash. I wouldn’t even give them to Goodwill. They were becoming rags for the dog bed. I just thought this can’t go on. So I started making investments in better brands for my wardrobe. If you see me wearing Old Navy now, I got it at Goodwill.

This whole outfit, including the Tory Burch bag was purchased second hand!

I recognize that we’re all in different boats financially and we can’t all afford to make investments in our wardrobe. This is where shopping second hand is key! 95% of my wardrobe is secondhand from consignment or Goodwill. It’s totally doable and you’ll find some cute pieces!

Whether you make one change on this list or all 6 we all need to do our part to do help the Earth!

Gluten Free at Disney

Gluten Free? Macs always are and they’re so good!

Eating Gluten Free at Disney. Eating gluten free is hard enough. Finding options when you’re eating out is tough. Staying at a resort for a week is a whole new ball game. Fortunately Disney makes it easier than many places!

Disclaimer: I do NOT have celiac’s. I have an adverse skin reaction when I eat gluten, but I don’t have issues if items are prepared near each other. If you have a more serious condition I recommend speaking with the chef when dining at Disney!

Gluten Free Corn Bread at Wilderness Cafe

It’s easiest to find gluten free options at sit down restaurants. When you check in on the mobile app you’re given the option to disclose a number of allergies such as gluten or shellfish.

Wilderness Cafe in particular is a great choice for GF.
Paper Allergy Menu

Every server we had did an excellent job advising me what I could and couldn’t have. In my opinion sit down dining is the easiest way to be gluten free on property.

But it’s not the only option and Disney does a wonderful job with quick service gluten free meals.

Currently with Covid restrictions quick service restaurants are almost exclusively mobile order. When you’re ordering on the mobile app school all the way to the bottom to find the allergy menu.

Mobile ordering is super easy.
You can even get gluten free Mickey waffles!

My biggest worry was not being able to get gluten free options at Flower and Garden. F&G is my favorite festival and has some amazing food.

Here we go!
I didn’t need to worry! So many options! The tostada was my favorite.
The orange “G” is indicative of GF.

The only struggle I had with remaining GF at Disney was quick service dining at Art of Animation. They weren’t set up to offer GF via the mobile app and with covid restrictions ordering in person can be difficult. Hopefully they remedy this soon.

On the whole Disney made it easy to be gluten free. They even have an assortment of GF snacks in the gift shops!

Let’s Talk About Side Hustles

Working hard for that money!

These days it seems like everyone is talking about them. “If you don’t have one, you need to get one” this mindset seems to be taking over social media.

The reality is: side hustles aren’t for everyone. They take a lot of time and depending on what your day to day looks like, it may not be realistic. Don’t look for a side hustle because you think everyone else has one.

That being said. Side hustles can be great! If I had a $1 for every time someone asked how we pay for Disney, I could afford another Disney trip. The answer, by the way, is side hustles.

I was in a ton of clubs and sports in high school. I didn’t have time to work, but I wanted to drive and mom expected me to pay for my gas and insurance. I became adept at learning alternative ways to make money. Yes, I didn’t eat lunch to save my lunch money, but I also started taking my own clothes to consignment and taking my families unwanted stuff to the flea market. I was able to drive and not work in high school and a entrepreneurial spirit was born.

Oh the freedom this 2002 Ford Taurus brought.

Throughout college and until I got pregnant I worked more traditional jobs. Usually three at a time, but I didn’t have a lot of time for side hustles.

When I got pregnant with Sharkie I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Chase makes a tidy living, but I still wanted to contribute, to feel like I had my “own” money. None of that is to say Chase feels like the money he makes is his money because he 100% doesn’t feel that way and is actually an enabler who would let me buy anything I wanted.

My Lilly and Disney enabler since 2012.

I knew I didn’t want to do any of the traditional side hustles. MLM and teleworking jobs were not gonna fit in with raising an infant. I had heard of people reselling but honestly didn’t think I could do it.

Still I loved going to Goodwills and had 5 years of consignment store experience. Fashion is one of my favorite things. Chase encouraged me to try. So the idea of Aquabeaustyling was born.

She was a shopping helper from day 1.

I’ve been incredibly blessed with a child who has always loved to be out and about. Her temperament has definitely been helpful for this endeavor. She loves shopping and from the beginning we made a deal she gets one $1 item when we’re out sourcing if she’s good. She usually picks a book.

So in spring of 2019, Sharkie and I opened Aquabeaustyling.

Aquabeau is a combination of my favorite color and my cats nickname.

Getting started reselling is very simple but it takes a lot of time. Sharkie and I combed our local Goodwills for things I thought we could sell. At first I bought things I would wear in my size in case this fell apart. From my work experience and love of clothes. I started picking up brands I was familiar with.

  • Lilly Pulitzer
  • Anthropologie
  • Free People
  • Lululemon
  • J. Crew

You can find high end items at Goodwill but it takes a lot of patience. Many days we would go home empty handed.

Sourcing is the fun part! A ton more work goes on behind the scenes. Listing items takes a ton of time; but I typically use Poshmark. It’s quick and easy. I will occasionally list on eBay, but I don’t like doing business with them as I feel like they never have the sellers back. But those are stories for another time.

I only sell things that I source at Goodwill, so you won’t see me buying out designer collabs at Target or other rare items.

If you’re interested anyone can do reselling! It’s relatively easy and I’m always happy to help you get started. The best way to start is following resellers on Instagram. I’ve learned so much from other resellers.

Two years later Aquabeau runs itself on autopilot. I source 2/3 days a week. I ship packages in the morning. Schedule a daily mail pickup. I do my bookkeeping on Fridays.

So of course I’ve picked up another side hustle: blogging. I started posting on Instagram in 2014 to share my love of Lilly Pulitzer and outfits. It grew slowly, but during shutdown last year its grown more than I ever expected. I love creating from outfits to crafts to toddler activities.

Still sharing outfits today

I certainly don’t make a ton of money blogging but I appreciate every single one of you who shops my affiliate links. I can’t wait to see where this side hustle takes me!

I love having side hustles. Especially since Sharkie is at school 3 days a week it’s nice to keep busy and pay for that Disney addiction.

If you’re looking for an unconventional side hustle you can totally do it! There are so many creative ways to earn money out there!

Lost Items at Disney World

It’s nerve wracking to lose an item. It’s even worse when you lose something at a place like Disney World.

Don’t worry Disney thinks of everything and they have a process in place to reunite you with anything from a lost ID to a child’s lovey. (if they can)

When at Disney I typically keep my ID and my annual pass card in my pocket so I don’t have to carry a wallet. Unfortunately women’s pockets aren’t very deep and things can fall out.

During our Epcot visit I saw some pizza ears in Italy and I HAD to have them. If you’re new here I LOVE pizza. I could eat pizza daily. Somewhere during this purchase I lost my ID.

But aren’t they amazing!

I didn’t realize until we got back to resort later that afternoon. I lost a jacket the day before shutdown last year, so I knew there was an online form to fill out. I was pretty sure I lost it at Epcot, but I filled out a form for the Skyliner and Art of Animation Resort as well. Linking the form here.

You’ll receive daily emails updating you on your item. Fortunately my ID was found 2 days later. We were still on property so I elected to pick up my ID at Disney Springs, but you can also arrange to have your property shipped to you if you’ve already left WDW.

Pickup is behind the resort bus drop off

It doesn’t work 100% of the time, I never got my jacket back, but honestly someone probably took that, so not Disney’s fault. It’s really such an easy and wonderful system.

So happy I didn’t have to deal with replacing.

Pro Tip: I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to use my AP discount without my ID but you can actually show Cast Member’s your AP on the My Disney Experience App and honestly this is easier and probably what I will do from now on.

Art of Animation Review

If you are a LOONG time follower you know that we stayed at Pop Century a few years ago and had a horrible experience. We’ve been reluctant to try Art of Animation ever since since they are twin resorts. But this last trip was all for Sharkie and she loves Little Mermaid. So Art of Animation was booked.

Sharkie loved the larger than life theming

We typically stay at Coronado Spring so the room was smaller than we expected but it’s laid out well.

Room Tour: Should have filmed at check in
Room Tour: Standard Room
Room Tour Bathroom Area

The room was super cute; but it didn’t have a ton of space. I like to unpack, we all do. It only had 3 tiny little drawers that weren’t enough to hold 8 days worth of clothing. Honestly that was my biggest complaint about the room. The beds are raised which is great for suitcase storage and keeping the room tidy. The shower pressure was great, and I have no other complaints.

If you’re not a fan of walking I will say that the Little Mermaid rooms are the furthest from Animation Hall. We love walking so it was perfect for us.

So cute!

We love to walk around our resorts and explore. Art of Animation has Cars and Lion King themed family suites. The Cars section was adorable. I love that the pool had little Cozy Cone Cabanas.

It was like walking through the movie!
Finding Nemo Splash Pad

The Big Blue Pool is still closed at the time of writing but scheduled to be open later in April 2021. But the splash pad is open and perfect for the toddler set. Sharkie loved it and spent two days there. Some of the spouts are turned off currently which aids with social distancing.

Little Mermaid Cupcake 10/10 according to Sharkie. So take that as you will.

Dining at Art of Animation was a huge disappointment. Nothing gluten free was available on the mobile app which meant I had to call in advance to order. Our orders were wrong 3/4 times. So we just started eating at other resorts.

Sharkie’s favorite part of the resort: the skyliner.

Art of Animation is a skyliner resort. The skyliner is my new favorite way to get around the parks. It’s so quick! It may be Sharkie’s favorite thing at Disney World. She came home with a Skyliner Funko. They service Caribbean, Pop, Art of Animation, and Riviera. The ease of travel was such a bonus for AOA.

I really hope they expand this.

AOA is right next to Pop Century. Originally intended to be the same resort. Pop was built pre 9/11. Only the Little Mermaid rooms were built at AOA pre 9/11. When construction resumed the idea of theming the first half of the 20th century was scrapped. This is why the resorts are differently themed today.

IMO: Pop has the better dining hall and gift shop. Definitely worth a walk over.
So cute!

Other than dining we loved our stay at AOA so I feel comfortable recommending!

Dragons at Animal Kingdom

This was so good!

Animal Kingdom gets a bad rap for being less fun than the other parks. But they have some of the best treats lately.

Available at the Anandapur Bus next to Expedition Everest the Mighty Mist Soft Serve is a strawberry and vanilla mixture colored to match Sisu.

I gave this a 10/10 as I love themed things. The cone isn’t gluten free; but @chasegiboney assured me it was really good.

Can’t wait to get this again!

Have you seen Raya yet? She’s really making her presence known at Animal Kingdom with other themed treats like the Tuk Tuk mousse available at Creature Comforts.

Currently at the Animation Experience you can learn to draw friends from Raya. I’m loving all the Raya inclusion currently going on at Animal Kingdom.

I’m not an artist, but I enjoyed it.

Anyone else hoping Raya is a successful film and Disney starts to think about Dragons at Animal Kingdom again?

Finding Guidance When God Says No.

Big Announcement Time

Sometimes in life things happen that you can’t control. But you can control how you react to them.

There have been three things I prayed for vehemently my life that God answered no. I now understand those No’s. God sees the big picture that you can’t see in the moment.

In 2009 I prayed my heart out to be able to afford to go to NCSU. I couldn’t without taking out a loan and I went somewhere else. If I hadn’t I would never have met Chase.

College Tara

In 2010 I prayed and cried nightly for God to save my relationship with my late high school/early college boyfriend. Thanking God everyday he told me no for that one. Chase is the man I’m meant to be with and that other man is a boy no one is meant to be with.

Chase circa 2014. So handsome!

In 2015 I begged God to get pregnant quickly after my miscarriage. God gifted me with more time in my marriage just the two of us, and Sharkie is the child I am meant to have.

Fresh Milk Shark

Now it’s 2021 and I have prayed so many nights but now I have to accept that once again God is answering me with no. I pray I’ll be able to see his bigger picture sooner than later.

If your in a situation where you’re vehemently praying and feeling unanswered, please remember: God answers all our prayers. Sometimes the answer is no.

I grew up in a small town, that I never thought I’d leave. Moving around the country with Chase awakened a nomadic desire I didn’t know I had. We moved houses frequently. Moving to a new city every couple of years the first six years we were together.

When we came to Kentucky in 2016 I couldn’t wait to move again in a couple years although I loved horse country and bourbon culture. I didn’t wanna stay.

Open to the Southeast; Chase got a job in Georgia in 2018. In the end we decided not to take it. I got pregnant with Sharkie later than year and we decided to stay until she was born.

With the Disney addiction only growing after Shark was born, we decided central Florida was the place for us. But nothing ever came up and we got tired of throwing money down the drain on rent.

So happy!

We entered into a new plan. We would build a house; and stay an additional 5 years. We didn’t just build any house. As I shared in my home tour earlier this week, we built our dream house. It only missed 2 boxes for us. The front porch isn’t huge like I wanted, and I’d like to have another bathroom upstairs.

Otherwise our home is a dream. We adore our house. Perfect location. Perfect set up. It’s amazing how tightly the invisible roots grow once you buy a home. We made friends. We started new traditions. I decided I didn’t ever want to leave Lexington. Life has been good.

It’s often said that you make a plan, and God laughs. I’ve never felt that more than I have the last couple months. Loving a home isn’t enough.

Things have changed at Chase’s work and we needed to make a change. Unfortunately we weren’t able to find anything in Lexington. Chase has accepted a job in Florida. We are moving in August.

I struggle putting into words how hard it will be to leave our house, to leave our friends, and our routines. So many tears have been shed.

It’s time to start embracing. I can now get to Disney World, quicker than I can get to the “good” target in Lexington.

But a home isn’t just 4 walls. A home is where Chase and Sharkie are. Where Tia, Jasper, Bagheera, Soph, and Jacque are. I can’t control what has happened, but I can control how I react. While more tears will be shed, I’m done wallowing.

Home is with you.

I’m moving to Disney World y’all.

Gluten Free in Epcot

Let’s face it, a gluten free diet is hard at home. On vacation it can seem impossible. One of my favorite things about visiting Epcot during a festival is all the yummy food I can try. I was so worried I would be able to this trip.

Topiaries during Flower and Garden are a can’t miss!

Fortunately Disney Parks do an excellent job providing allergy friendly foods. All items during the festival are marked with a G if they’re gluten free.

The orange G signifies Gluten Free.
This GF tostado in the Mexico Pavilion is my top pick.

While their isn’t a gluten free item at every kiosk most have them. I tried the majority of what was available.

This cornbread cake was delicious.
Popsicle trio at Refreshment Port. Lime is my favorite.
Macs are always available at Epcot and always gluten free.

I don’t have celiac, just a sensitivity, so my advice may not fit for everyone. All the kiosk food is prepared in the same kitchen so use your best judgment for your individual case.

So many beautiful topiaries. Nothing says Spring like Flower and Garden.

Gluten-free is possible at a Disney festival. Stay tuned for my full recap of F&G and a full post on Disney with allergies.