Should you move to Florida too?

And when I say Florida I mean YOUR destination of choice.  It may also be Florida, or it may be California for you.  Or perhaps somewhere in the mid-west, or maybe the north, or maybe Canada, or another country, or maybe Europe or Asia, or if you are already in Europe or Asia, maybe another country in Europe or Asia, or anywhere your heart desires, anywhere it feels really good to think about.  Anywhere that may feel like HOME to you.

Over a year ago, my husband and I were winding down one chilly Sunday night in December, and he told me his friend Pat, who lives in Florida was out on his paddle board, after seeing the same on FB.  I couldn’t fathom being out on the water!  We used to take our beach vacation the absolutely LAST week of August to guarantee warm water, and sometimes we had warm water, and sometimes not.

At the same time, my daughter, who was just two, wanted to be outside all the time.  We used to come home from school, and she would run out to the playground a few feet from our town home.  My husband would push her on the swing, and she was so happy, but also so frozen.  Her little nose was always running, and her hands were freezing, and finally I would beg her to come home, or just bring her in while she was crying because she wanted to “play more”.

She’s an outdoor baby.  She wants to be outside, in the sun, in the warmth, playing like the little wild and adventurous girl she is.  How could I deny her this?

Then, shortly after the Florida wheels began turning, it snowed.  We shared a walkway with our neighbor.  And she shoveled just her side.  A normal sidewalk, half shoveled.  That was our sign, and we needed to move.

We wanted more space, a slightly bigger home to house our family of five, and more outdoor time.  Once you decide, the Universe really does everything in it’s power to make it happen.

Coincidentally, we both started working from home instead in an office, which made moving and getting a mortgage possible and easier.  We already upgraded and remodeled and maintained our town home, so putting it on the market involved washing the curtains the day of our open house and quickly handling anything that needed fixed or managed.  It sold to the first people that walked through the door!

My husband and I took a trip to Florida in February of that year, to explore, and get familiar with the area (as this was my FIRST TIME EVER IN THIS STATE).  We chose to move to north Florida because we already had a connection here with my husband’s friend, and because the school district where we decided to live, is one of the best in the state.  We also got very lucky, because we didn’t give ourselves a lot of time or money to explore and research the WHOLE state, and instead decided on north Florida and just made it happen.

On my second trip to Florida, which I took in April, my best friend accompanied me.  I flew to Myrtle Beach, and together we drove 5 hours south to Florida.  We met with our realtor, and had a plan to see about 27 houses in two days.  We drove into a new development and we saw a really beautiful home!  But they could not guarantee it was going to be finished and ready for move in by June.  The site agent said:  “Well, I have a house with a really nice lot, but it has only 4 bedrooms, and a den, and it’s already all finished.”

And then I walked into our dream home. Our current home.  Our forever home for a very long time.

It had everything!  The right size, the right lot, the right layout, the right school district, the right street, the right neighborhood, the right community and enough palm trees in the neighborhood to make me feel right at home in my new home state.

We put an offer in, it was accepted, and we went into moving mode on high speed!

I won’t bore anyone with the details but moving is a pain.  Getting a mortgage is a pain.  Moving out of state is a tiny bigger pain, but I viewed everything as something that had to get done, and we just got it done.  Once we decided on the house, and we were under contract on both properties, I already saw myself living in FLORIDA!

I saw or imagined nothing else.  I used every ounce of positive energy and law of attraction and saw my babies running through the door of our new home, and checking out their bedrooms, almost on the daily.  I even booked tickets for an event we were attending later that summer, as if we were already THERE!

My husband is organized and can do those mentally challenging things I can’t do – like get things fixed, and get contractors to the house, and negotiate this and that.  We split up all tasks, and kept moving forward.  Thinking back, its hard to not tear up, because it really did feel like at times it took an army to get down here.  Between both sides of realtors, and my close friends who knew and were always supportive, and so caring and wanted nothing but the best for us, and our work, and families and everyone in between, we made it happen, but not without everyone else.  The whole thing was an experience, and the only way to get through something that is unfamiliar and often challenging, is to just keep going.

I moved with my family from Poland to NJ in 91, and then off to college at the University of Pittsburgh, and my husband went to the Army in Alaska, so neither of us were completely foreign to the idea of picking up and starting over, so the unfamiliar felt at times familiar, and exciting and exhilarating, and because we already knew what we wanted in our home, and in a neighborhood, and community and LIFE IN GENERAL, it made it easier.  We knew this was going to be our final and forever destination (at least for the next two decades, while the kids are students), and it all just felt right.

I remember the morning of our flight to Florida, I put my two babies in an Uber, and we headed to Newark Airport.  They were excited to get on an airplane, and I was excited to start our new adventure, but it almost felt at times, as if I was standing on a cliff, and I wasn’t sure how the jump out was going to turn out!

Would it be difficult, or really fun?  Or crazy or just completely weird?  I knew I wanted a great view, but was I going to see it and feel it and live it right away?

In these photos, we are in the Uber, and then int he airport in JAX.  I am a little bit dying of fear and excitement, but at the same time I had to be super strong for my little people.  I wanted them to experience this adventure with happiness, because when they get older, and they have to do hard and awesome things – it should be mostly FUN and little FEAR.

As soon as we landed, I rented a car, and realized we didn’t have our bags did not make it from NJ.  We drove to the hotel and checked in, and washed up the best way we could.  I realized my son had a massive fever, and we found an urgent care.  He had an ear infection, and we had to get antibiotics and thankfully, almost immediately he felt better.  We drove back to the airport to pick up our luggage, and back to the hotel.  We hung mostly at the hotel pool for those two days, and explored some beaches until Monday morning and our closing.

The pool and hotel was our home for the first two days, and the warmth and water and fun welcomed us in.  It breathed LIFE into me, exactly what I needed!  Seeing my babies jump in and out of the pool, with the humidity and warmth and weather love surrounding us – I knew we made the right decision.  I knew that going with our gut, and doing the work for this move was worth it more than I ever realized.

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My husband and bonus baby stayed back so she could finish her freshmen year!  My husband stayed back to finish his DJ commitments and to clean our home once the moving truck pulled away and finalize everything at the closing!  It was going to be just one week until we saw him again, and I couldn’t wait.  I’m also very used to doing everything together, so going to Florida with two of the youngest kiddos, and sans him was a tad bit scary!

The morning of our closing it was pouring rain.  Pouring hot rain so hard that once I had the keys in my hands, I could not see the road.  I was six miles away and it took me about 20 minutes to get here, but once I arrived, it was pure heaven.  My dear father was waiting for us, with everything from NJ in a big truck, and a moving company we hired were patiently waiting, and then it was go time.  In pouring rain and flip flops, I got to work.  We unloaded that truck, while the kids ran through the home happily screaming and checking out their bedrooms. It was my dream and vision and everything come true.

It felt like when you finally give birth, and the tears can’t stop coming!  So much work, and here is the sweet reward!

I will write more about our first year in Florida, which is coming up, in an upcoming post.

Cheers to any and EVERY adventure you can create and execute for yourself and those you love most.
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How to EAT IN!

The post about how to stop EATING OUT was quite popular.  Now, let’s figure out a plan on how to eat in, more often.  And most importantly, how to enjoy it 1000% more than we usually do.

A lot of times we go out to celebrate some fun events, but OFTEN it’s because “there’s nothing to eat here.” Or nothing FUN to eat at home.  Or we have nothing prepared, and we don’t want extra work in prepping food, and then having to clean it up.  Or perhaps we like to eat out, because it’s entertainment and “something to do” on top of the food.  If we ate out more often, it would be because everyone in our family can get something different to eat, without me having to prep five different dishes.

But these are all excuses, and if you really want to EAT IN more often, let’s get it done, and let’s put together some easy strategies to STAY in and enjoy it even more than a meal out.

Recognize that eating out may be eating at your health.  I have done plenty of eating out, and I am not here to hurt the restaurant industry (because I know that the billions of dollars we are all spending eating out is not going to stop), but know that staying in and eating your own food, is so much better for your body & mind.

Many restaurants (and more every single day) are amazing, and they do everything they can to source the best products, the best ingredients, from the most responsible vendors – but many do not.  The amount of high fructose corn syrup or antibiotics or hormones, or farm raised animal products are only on the rise.  If your sauce needed to be made with an egg, it’s very doubtful it’s an egg from a chicken that was pasture raised, and raised hormone free.  Most of the time, it was a chicken who has never seen the light of day.  We are what we eat, and the more we eat at home, the more control we have over what we put into our bodies.

If you make your very own spaghetti and meatballs, you may not be adding mass amounts of salt and sugar to this meal, but a restaurant, which wants everything to taste delicious might. Often, when eating out, we don’t even realize half of everything we are ingesting, just because we aren’t the ones preparing it.

If you make your own fries, you aren’t frying those fries in an oil that’s been out there for a few days frying other grub.  Usually, you are making fries for a single family serving, and that is it and usually using the least amount of oil and salt possible, or what you need to make it taste good.

Celebrate by eating in!  Because we work from home, eating out for us would not be convenient, but even so, every few days, we make a meal and celebrate something.  I know it’s corny, and hard to imagine how it can be special, but it’s fun!  Perhaps we’re celebrating something silly, or fun, or maybe we’re celebrating a FUN and cool meal we’re having.  The kids love TACOS, so TACOS are always a celebratory night.  Maybe it’s burgers, or maybe it’s a meal the kids helped create – boom, another reason to celebrate and make us all feel special, by eating it.

Leftovers  I love leftovers.  I’m part of the camp that believe food really does taste better the next day.  So even if you aren’t a fan of cooking and cleaning up EVERY single day or night, you can make a bit more and have for the next several days.  I don’t meal prep technically, since we are often home, but meal prepping is a great idea for so many.  Make a ton of grub on Sunday, and have a fridge or freezer full of options.  Then, during the week, you can eat what you’ve already made, or you can make limited foods, without giving yourself a ton of work.

As the days go on, I am starting to realized more and more about the importance of having a constant INFLUX of GREEN RAW GRUB into our bodies.  So, this means, that there is always a salad, or a big Tupperware full of cut up raw grub in the fridge.  Yesterday, for lunch I had the last bowl of my salad bowl which included:  romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, and broccoli.  I took it out of the fridge, and put feta cheese on top (because Feta cheese is LIFE), and added some Cesar dressing.  I took my salad to our lanai, and started munching on this amazingness, that took 3 seconds to plate.  The best part about this was that my little peanut butter of a daughter, wanted all the bites.  She decided she wanted just the romaine lettuce, and ate everything I had in there, which was SOOO FREAKEN AWESOME.  I hope this is the START of her eating romaine lettuce and greens each and every day.  (Of course she woke up this morning and asked for a Starburst, so win some lose some.)

It’s fun eating IN, because that’s all she knows and hopefully something she will look forward to as she grows.

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Create super easy meals for yourself and family.  Because eating out is 99% of the time not an option for us, I have a ton of easy quick fast meals I can put together for the kids and I.  Whether it’s pierogies, or pasta, or we have frozen chicken, or I can quickly make a rice stir fry, or even waffles or eggs for breakfast OR dinner – having access and the ability to put together really fast meals is fun and makes eating in so possible.

Shakes.  My kiddos love the shakes, and they are SO EASY, and a nice change for the palate.  Whether they are having for breakfast (my son 90% of the time, and our 15 year old 100% of the time), or eating with dinner, shakes are a nice way to get a ton of nutrients, and protein, and good fat, and just vitamins in the body.  Everyone has at least one per day, which means 1 or 1/2 a meal is taken care of without any extra work!  Last night for dinner, my son had two of them, with his noodles and olive oil.  He was both thirty, and hungry, and it was awesome tat so quickly he could get quality protein into his body.

Buy those extra groceries.  So I’m the first one to preach about eating through our cabinets, and fridge, and freezer, but if you are committing to EATING IN and not EATING OUT, plan out some fun meals, and do buy those “extra” groceries you usually say no to.  This might mean that you will make an awesome burger night, or lasagna, or a grilled veggie evening, or maybe even some beautiful wild caught fish evening – – – whatever it may be – buy it from the grocery store, and assemble it yourself.

For us, if I’m going cray cray at the grocery store, it’s either an Indian meal I want to put together, or for my husband, it’s some sort of jerk chicken dish – or any meal that takes more than 5 minutes to put together.  But we then KNOW it’s special and rare, and a real TREAT.

This is my daughter making keto grass-fed & organic lamb & beef meatballs last weekend (a special treat, meat from Aldi) and here she is making bread (that we turned into cinna-buns) yesterday!

I’ve never subscribed to the Hello Fresh or any of those grocery delivery systems, BUT I have cooked plenty of those meals (because my neighbor would bring over Blue Apron and we would all cook together) and those are SO MUCH FUN.  It was always a learning process, and full of new ingredients, and a nice way to STAY IN, but with also that element of SURPRISE.  If you want to invest in such a system, especially when stating out – it’s a great idea.

If you and your kiddos are always on the run (which is legit the life for so many people), make a plan of how to create travel and food packs, and bring everything with you.  Between freezer bags, and lunch bags, we can pack whole day of grub, and make sure we bring with us, so that we aren’t utilizing those super convenient nacho stands.

BRING FUN FOOD TOO.  Eating in isn’t always about staying 100% on your diet plan, or never eating something you would consider an eating out meal.  Recreate some of your favorite plates from your favorite places.  This way you get to engage all of those senses of luxury, and fun, and food freedom, BUT still stay in!  When I travel, my favorite thing in the world is eating restaurant fries.  With a bit of mayo and ketchup, and I’m in heaven.  I haven’t traveled in a while, BUT if I’m really ready and craving some fries, I”ll make them myself and go all out.  It will be FUN to indulge, but still better than actually GOING OUT, and spending the cash on store bought and restaurant fried fries.

If you do want to go out, PLAN IT.  Often, many people end up eating out or driving through the drive through, but they didn’t plan on it.  It just happened, or it was late or easier, and boom, $75 later and a full fat/sugar/carb meal later, everyone feels a bit sick.  PLAN a nice meal out, at a special restaurant, and enjoy the WHOLE process.  Eating out is certainly convenient, but make eating IN MORE convenient than anything else, and eating out a REALLY SPECIAL treat.

If it’s too hard to make meals, make small meals.  I’m often and always assembling meals that restaurant wouldn’t have on their menu.  I’m mixing and matching and letting my children eat a variety of things.  Maybe it’s a bit of pasta, and some left over chicken, or a turkey roll up, and some pineapple, or a cut up apple, or maybe some banana over milk and cereal.  Don’t think you have to create super elaborate or luxurious meals.  So many of us already have ENOUGH on our plates, we have to keep it simple, and we should never complicate it further by eating out too often.

Make your own plan. You know what works best for you and your family,and you probably already know deep down in your heart what you WANT and NEED to do.  Create your own schedule and system, ones that work best for you – and then adjust from there.

Cheers to YOU beautiful people, and cheers to staying IN eating IN and making it the IN thing to do!