Adventures in Florida: A Trip to the Christmas Tree Forest

Santa's Christmas Tree ForestAs part of my 26 at 26 bucket list, I was dying to visit a pumpkin patch this year. Like most young women between the ages of 18 and 35, I absolutely love autumn and everything that comes with it: the drop in temperature, the cuter clothing options (I live in Florida but somehow have an entire drawer dedicated to scarves), the seasonal flavors, and especially Halloween. In fact, I love this time of the year so much that I redecorated my apartment with fall/Halloween décor back in mid-September. 🙂

In spite of my love for all things autumnal, I haven’t been to a pumpkin patch in years, so this year, I decided it was time to pick out a pumpkin of my own. Of course, I wasn’t going to go to just any old church or high school to do this. Instead, I decided to visit Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis.

My sister and I made the trip out to Eustis and were surprised at how much fun we had. Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest had free admission, along with family-friendly activities that required ticket purchases, such as a zip-line, hayrides, and pony rides. We did purchase a pumpkin from their abundant patch, but we actually discovered something better: the petting zoo.

Santa's Christmas Tree Forest

Without a doubt, one of the happiest moments of my whole life!

Anyone who has ever come into contact with me knows about my love for animals, so our trip to the farm was a dream come true. At first, Julie and I visited the goats, my absolute favorite farm animals, and the pigs. We learned the hard way that pigs bite (sorry, Julie!) and that goats can bite a little bit too if they think you have food. Of course, our favorite part of the whole trip was when we had the chance to hold the baby goats!

One of my dreams in the next five years is to adopt a dog, but now I will need to get a baby goat as well. The one that I held was incredibly sweet (even though she loved to gnaw on my hair!) and clearly my favorite animal on the whole farm. I definitely plan to return, if only to play with the baby animals!

Yes, I’m a crazy animal lover, but for those of you who live in Central Florida, I fully recommend Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm for your next weekend excursion. The farm not only hosts events and attractions throughout the year, but is friendly for all ages (families included). I know I’ll be back in the near future!

What’s on your bucket list for this year? Share in the comments section below!

How is my bucket list progressing? Click here for links to recaps and to see what I’ve been up to!

 

Keeping It Frugal: Fun Ways to Enjoy the Weekend

Keeping it Frugal: Fun Ways to Spend Your WeekendIf you’re anything like me, you marched into 2016 armed with New Year’s Resolutions and high hopes for an incredible year. On this blog, I often discuss my journey to better physical health, but one aspect of wellness that we don’t always talk about is financial health.

If you haven’t set your New Year’s Resolutions yet (hey – we’re only 11 days into 2016 anyway!) and you can’t figure out what areas to improve upon in 2016, your finances are a great start. Nearly everyone I know, regardless of salary and socioeconomic background, admits to eating a few too many meals out at restaurants, spending $150 at Target when they only meant to buy paper towels, and going over budget simply to hang out with friends. Why not work to change that — to save money for the moments that really matter?

Luckily, there are still plenty of ways to maintain a social life without breaking the bank. (For other FREE tools for managing your finances and saving for the future, check out Personal Capital.) 🙂

  • Attend local community events.
    I live close to several expensive tourist attractions, so it can be easy to overlook all of the amazing local events and lesser-known attractions from time to time. That’s why I love to check my county’s convention and visitor’s bureau website for free or cheap upcoming events in the area! From art shows to film festivals, many cities offer an awesome variety of activities that will appeal to multiple age groups and interests. Check Facebook as well for event ideas near where you live.
  • Visit an educational venue.
    Take a trip to the zoo, a museum, the planetarium, or a wildlife sanctuary. Many of these places have a relatively low admission price (I spent $6 last month to attend a planetarium show) and even offer student discounts for those of you who are still in school. This gives you a chance to broaden your horizons and learn about something new, and can be just as fun to do with friends and family! My friends and I had such a great time visiting the planetarium last month that we even decided to attend the (free) Winter Sky Festival they are hosting this weekend.
  • Participate in community service.
    There are few greater feelings than the way you’ll feel by giving back to others less fortunate. You don’t need to write a big check to make a difference in the world — there are a lot of kind things you can do to help others. My parents volunteer for a food pantry and an animal rescue, so when I visit, I often join them to pack food or help out with the rescue dogs. Volunteering your time can be a lot of fun to do with your family and friends, but it can also be enjoyable even if you go alone.
  • Go outside.
    If weather permits, spend some time out enjoying nature. Go to a park or beach, grab a frisbee, have a picnic with friends, go on a hike, or just spend sometime outside together with a refreshing change in scenery. Not only is this an inexpensive way to hang out with friends, but it is also scientifically shown to make you happier and more productive. 🙂 Who knew?

What are your tips for a frugal but fun weekend? Share your suggestions in the comments section below!

The Friday Five: Things To Do On April Fools Day

Your day may be nearly over, but you still have some time to do something fun for April Fools Day if you haven’t already. (Or you could follow these tips on any other day!) Here are five fun pranks and activities to enjoy this April Fool’s Day. (Tweet this!)

The Friday Five: Things To Do On April Fools Day

1. Watch “The Room.”
Deemed by many to be one of the best worst movies of all time, The Room (directed, starring, written by and produced by the eclectic and enigmatic Tommy Wiseau) has developed a cult following throughout the years. Every year, Adult Swim has screened this movie on April Fools Day around midnight, which is why I was a little late in posting last night’s Freshman 15. If you missed the on-air showing, you can always watch clips of the film online — trust me, it will be more than entertaining.

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2. Change your relationship status.
Okay, maybe a little juvenile, but always fun to shake things up a little. Join a civil union with your roommate or enter an open relationship with your best friend… or make a relationship seem real by talking to one of your platonic friends of the preferred gender. Note: If you are in an actual relationship, do not break up with your significant other as a joke. It is mean and will probably deem you permanently single.

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3. Tell your parents that your sibling is back together with the ex they hated.
… Because my sister did that to me!

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4. Let The Office inspire you!
Take a page out of the wonderful Jim Halpert’s book. Jim is constantly pranking his coworkers (Dwight in particular) and he never ceases to amaze us. Whether he dresses up as Dwight’s doppleganger for a day, creates a series of fake diseases or surrounds his coworkers’ staplers in jello, Jim is always thinking on his feet. See which of his pranks should be revisited in your own life, or just let them give you some rough ideas for fun and harmless tricks you might want to try.

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5. Do something outrageous.
By this, I am not implying a huge prank, but rather, a huge decision. Commit to something you have been considering on and off for a while, because it isn’t just April Fool’s Day — it’s also the start of a new month. Use this day to spark a new beginning.

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How did you spend your April Fools Day? What is the most epic prank you have ever pulled?

The Friday Five: Ways To Wrap Up Your Summer

For many of us, Monday marks the beginning of the last week of summer before classes start. In that time, we may go through that mid/end-summer crisis. What do we do with our lives in the short period of time we have left before classes resume?Tweet this!

Today’s Friday Five has just the fix for that. This list has something for everyone — the overachiever, the social butterfly, the humanitarian — you name it!

The Friday Five:  Ways To Wrap Up Your Summer

1. Catch up with old friends.

We all have those friends who we’d love to hang out with but hardly get the chance to see. Maybe we talk to them on Skype or Facebook a little, post the standard “I miss you… WE MUST HANG OUT!” comment on their walls, and ask politely how their lives have been since we last spoke, but the time lapse has kept us from really reaching out and making definite plans. With one week of summer left, it’s time to let go of that. Call up the friend you genuinely miss and haven’t seen since graduation, and then set a time and date to meet… it’s really that simple. If you were friends before, then chances are you’ll still have a lot to talk about and the conversations won’t lapse too much. Besides, it’s oddly refreshing to meet up with old friends — it can be exciting to see where they’ve ended up, how much has changed, and how much has actually stayed the same.

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2. Undergo a mini-transformation.

What matters the most is what’s on the inside… but little changes here and there never hurt anybody! It can be fun to update your current look and try out new styles. So go on that shopping spree to play with your wardrobe (especially during the tax free holiday till August 15!), or get that impulsive haircut (hopefully not too impulsive, though – I just chopped off five inches and am now in mourning!), or give yourself a fun manicure. Guys, feel free to experiment with facial hair as well… as long as you keep in mind your girlfriend’s opinions of your new beard. 😛

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3. Do something for a good cause.

It doesn’t matter if you are required to fulfill a certain number of volunteer hours or not — you can always benefit from doing service for the community. If you’re looking for a way to spend some time before you head back to school, find a group or organization that means something to you, and get involved right away! As soon as I get back to Orlando, I’m hoping to attend a volunteer orientation for Give Kids the World before classes start, because of all the beauty I have seen in the work they do. Volunteer work can really change your life, and it’s always nice to do something positive for other people.

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4. Get ahead before classes begin.

This one might not sound so appealing at first, but the inner-dork in me knows just how helpful it can be. You don’t have to do anything too extensive to get ready… just peruse your new textbooks or make sure you fully understand your summer reading. Do what you can to ensure that you’re aware of class expectations for the upcoming semester/year. It’s always good to be ahead!

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5. Take time for yourself.

Maybe you don’t want to squeeze a lot of action into one week, and that’s totally fine. Sometimes it’s better to relax and spend some time alone, instead of stressing yourself out with too full an itinerary (there’s always the school year for that!). For those looking for zen time, grab a book and lay out by the pool. Sleep in. Go for a run. Write music. Do what makes you happy, and don’t worry about pleasing others right now. Take some time for you… it’s not selfish when it’s something you really need, and then you can feel completely refreshed when the year officially begins.