About Me

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Cusseta, GA, United States
I'm an army wife, working mom of 2 kids.! My husband Tim is a Soldier on Fort Benning. I work for MWR for the Community Recreation Division as an admin assistant...I absolutely LOVE my job I couldn't have found anything better! My daughter, Kennedie, was born in January of 04 and our son, Cale, was born June of 09 - that's right they are 5 and a half years apart! Kennedie is VERY involved in dancing, she is in her 9th season (2017-2018) of being a competitive dancer. It's exhausting but we LOVE it. Cale is starting to REALLY get into sports. He is on a year round wrestling team, and he plays baseball in the spring! This blog started out as a recipe sharing venture but now it's going to turn into a more "granola" way to live. Cheap recipes more homemade recipes and repurposing things. I'm a crafter at heart so i'm going to throw some of that in their too! On Valentines Day of 2017 we bought our first Travel Trailer. I'll be documenting our travels also on this blog!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Moody AFC Lodging - TLF Room

 We stayed at Moody AFB (near Valdosta, GA) Presidents Day weekend.  We don't often stay at Air Force Installations because we are Army, but this was a great resource to us for our stay because we had to wake up EARLY to go to a wrestling tournament in Valdosta Saturday morning. 

I called to reserve the room on the Monday before we left (which was 4 days later that Friday after work) and all they had available was a queen size bed room, no pull out couch but they had air mattress' that were first come first serve.  We didn't really have any other options because there was another event in town and almost all the other hotels/motels were booked up.  We arrived after we had dinner 10 minutes from the base.  She gave us the option to keep the room we reserved for $60 or upgrade to the TLF room (now I will preface that in all my 15 years as an Army wife I've never heard the term TLF, so her question was met with a blank stare! TLF is their acronym for PCS'ing family temporary quarters) for $63.  We didn't know what we were walking into other than the option of a pull out couch for the kids was now available.

So we arrive to what looks like a little apartment building, walk in and our mouths drop!  We paid $89 a night at our current duty station for MUCH SMALLER cramped quarters when we first arrived.  This place even had a dishwasher, standard size fridge, pots/pans, place settings and silverware!  We had a tiny fridge, had to provide our own cooking utensils and all that goes along and had NO table to eat at.  Excuse the disheveled nature of the room as it didn't occur to me to take pictures when it was put together!

 This is the couch/bed in the living room.

 Taken from the door the kitchen, eat in bar, real stove...

The ONLY thing that left me disappointed about this place was the lack of mirror in the bathroom.  There was on the counter a small round stand up mirror that rotated to get magnified view and I took that to the kitchen to brush my teeth and do my makeup as the bathroom was small and my husband had to take a shower.  They also had shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion also something the one we stayed at 2 years her didn't offer.

The bedroom after we woke up that morning.

The other side of the room.  In the big closet was the extra blankets/pillows that the kids used.

This was a GREAT place to stay and the next time we are in Valdosta for the tournament we will stay there again!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

NOW Jade - Review


I looked everywhere online to find someone that did a review of the NOW Jade resort and I couldn't find one.  So hopefully this will be helpful. 

What the website doesn't tell you:
1.  This property is off the beaten path, you can't just walk out and explore the town or Port Morales.
2. You don't need to worry about converting your electronics.  They use the same plugs that we do in America at the resort.
2.  There are two sides of this resort - the Preferred side and the "normal" side.  You have to pay an extra $100 a day if you want the preferred side.  The preferred side includes the ONLY access to a hot tub on the property and the tennis courts.
3. There are a couple of pools but only one is "heated" so if you go in the off season (like we did) it will be too cold to get in the ocean or the pools.
4.  You get "resort" coupons when you arrive.  You can only use them on certain things and you'll be spending extra money to do so.  You can't use them how you want.
5.  We weren't allowed to say we were in the Army.  My husband had to say he was a personal trainer for the Army (and he had to emphasis that he wasn't IN the Army, which was a lie) and I just said I worked for the Army as an admin which isn't untrue. Something about how they can't been seen as "helping" the American Army, or that special favors were given.  All of the people in our group worked for the government in some capacity.  We had a IRS Lawyer, Federal Probation Officer, Border Patrol Agent, and Resident Supervisor (that watches the people that are caught coming over the border illegally).  Everyone had to change their jobs to be NOT directly working for the government.
6.  Most of the restaurants you can come as you are.  There are a handful that don't allow shorts.  But most of us packed a pair of jeans and a nice shirt.  My husband never wore the slacks he packed.
7.  Call your cell phone company. We have a Verizon unlimited plan (I'm not sure if it was our plan or just Verizon in general) but we were able to use our phone and data just like we were in the states and we didn't have to pay anything extra.  One family had to pay per call and the other could have paid the $7 extra for the month to get international calling, but he is a self proclaimed cheapskate so he said it wasn't worth it to him.  Which was fine we let them use our phones to call and check on their kids.  Two of the couples had iPhones and the other had droids.  We had free WIFI at the hotel so we could communicate back and forth, we just set up a Facebook messenger group and texted back and forth our plans and where (if we were separated) we needed to be at certain times.  Had all of us had IPhones we could have just had use IMessage on WIFI but because the one couple didn't we went the Facebook messenger route. 
8.  We all arrived to Cancun between 10:30 in the morning and noon, we couldn't officially check into the hotel room until 3.  Because we wanted to be close to each other had to wait till 315 for all three to be ready.  ONLY reason this matters is because they wouldn't give you the room number you'll be in, so you could sign in to the WIFI.  So our two phones were the only phones we could use for a few hours.  While we waited we had full access to the resort and ate lunch and had a few drinks and walked the property.
9.  We paid $3800.00 for this trip and that included airfare.  It was a Friday-Friday trip.  We arrived Noon on one Friday and we were leaving on the transfer to the airport at 9am the next Friday.  I don't know if this resort was worth the price tag in the OFF SEASON.  The food was delicious, I tried a lot of stuff I've never tried before.  We all ordered several entries at dinner (and they were small portions because I think every one does that) and we all shared and picked off each others plates.  The staff was phenomenal.  Always greeting you, asking how everything was going so far.

 We went with a group of 7 (we had the son of another couple that turned 18 on our trip, but he didn't spend a lot of time with us :P )  Getting a table for a group of 6/7 sometimes was challenging if we waited to eat until 6:30 or 7.  So a lot of times we were eating dinner at 5:30 or 6 so we didn't have to wait.  Which was fine as most of us don't eat too late anyway.
When we arrived at the airport waiting for our transfer we were approached by a "Jade" employee (I'm not sure if they were a Jade employee or not), about attending a demonstration on the "Unlimited Vacation Club" you can join.  Normally we would say no but our friends that arrived an hour before us signed up so we figured why not.  They offered us "breakfast" (but at an all inclusive we are getting breakfast anyway) a bottle of tequila, and $150 in leisure cash that we could use on an excursion if we chose to.

The next morning we were met with Adriana and we had breakfast with her (along with the other family.)  We all assumed a bunch of people would be sitting in a room and we would be told about the club and we could decide if we wanted in or not.  Nope Adriana asked us a bunch of questions about our previous vacations and how much we paid for them.  She walked us to the preferred side so we couldn see what we were missing.  Which wasn't much as the only difference I saw was there was a door to the bedroom and they had a jetted tub on the outside on the patio as opposed to the same one we had in our bathroom.  Then we sat in a conference type room and we had several people (FIVE) bring us "deals", each one was better than the last because they were that persons manager.  We had to say no we don't want to join 5 different times.  Was the two hours at 8:30 in the morning worth it for the leisure cash.  I say yes, my husband says no.  We used it for a great excursion and only paid $43 for the both of us to go.

 The first night we attended the "Beatles Show" as a dance mom it's hard for me to enjoy these shows as I see every little thing they do that they shouldn't as a performer be doing.  I was disappointed in the look of the theater.  It was outdoor patio furniture as the seats (which was nice if you wanted to lay down and watch, or tuck your feet under you and sit), and the d├ęcor was just "ehh".  I reminded me of the "Mexican circus" acts that the Shriner's put on every year.  It just wasn't what I thought it was going to be at an all inclusive resort.
It was cloudy and overcast/windy on much of our trip.  Out on the coast line you can see the city of Cozumel.  You could often see the cruise ships coming in and out of that port. 
My friend and myself did walk along the coastline for a bit.  You can see our hotel is the one near the jetty's.

We also got another excursion for free if we visited a Jewelry Store/Whiskey Shop.  This one was easy to say no to, and we walked next door to Whiskey/Souvenir shop.  Did some browsing then we waited outside for the van to take us to shopping at Playa del Carmen.  This extra 30 minutes saved us $17 per person on the cost of the drive to Playa del Carmen.  We got 2 hours at PDC which we felt was rushed, but we didn't pay out of pocket so whatever.

This is the main "drag" of the hotel.  You can follow it from the "normal" side of the hotel to the pools, the lobby, restaurants, shops...

You can see the bar sitting there at the back of the picture.  There was one directly on the other side inside the lobby as well.

On our walk to Building 3 - where our three rooms were.  The hotel was great and got our rooms close together.  We were across the hall from one couple and the other was adjacent to them.  It was nice to text and say "ok meet in the hall at 530 for dinner"  we could keep our door open when we were ready and they would just walk over.

This is the entrance to the NOW Jade resort.  Anytime we went off property the driver had to "check us out" and then back in when we were coming back.  We could have walked off and walked the few miles to the neighboring town, but we ain't got time for all that! :P

This is the vendors that set up 3 different nights we were there.  Most of them are expensive but I was able to get my son a really cool nightlight from one, and my daughter a hand painted "coaster" (he was painting with his fingers and I FaceTime'd with her and she was AMAZED!!)  IF you are able to get off property I would avoid buying from most of them but it's a great way to get souvenirs if you don't.

Most of the time this TV is playing sports.  During the major football games this area was packed.
This is one of the pool areas that overlooked the ocean.  Sometimes this place was packed and you couldn't find a lounger.  Not a lot of people were in the water, but they would just lay in the lounger with a blanket/towel over them for warmth.

Our room was spacious and the bed was HUGE, we have a queen at home and this is a king.

Our room was boasted as a "tropical view" which we overviewed a swamp.  Our room had the best view out of the three we had.  The other couples had trees right off their balcony and you couldn't see anything else.

A sitting area.  ONLY thing I didn't like about this area is that there was 2 steps down.  This is an all inclusive resort I was worried about a drunk person falling and hurting themselves!

We had a closet and a safe inside the other side.

Our bathroom with a jetted tub.  On the right side of this picture is a bathroom with a bidet, and a stand up shower.

Each couple had someone with a birthday in January.  When they cleaned our room they added a little banner to celebrate the individual.  I definitely took this home to use on my kids doors!!!

This was when we were leaving the resort.  It's very quiet in the morning, it's great to just sit in the outdoor patio and relax.

This is the buffet.  ALOT of options.  We ate breakfast and lunch here everyday.  We tried a different restaurant each night.

The guys getting omelets made.

Our view from the buffet.

The outside of the hotel.

A view from the balcony of one of the outdoor bars, of the beach area.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Grayton State Park

Grayton State Park Beach

I wish I would have gotten more pictures of this great beach!  We didn't camp here but we visited while we were staying at Twin Lakes Resort Campground in August.  The park is free admission and LOTS of room for everyone.  We didn't feel like everyone was on top of us.  When we went it was cooler and had been raining the days before, so the water was cool.

The 13 year old taking a break from boogie boarding.

He loves to be buried!

This park had a smaller parking lot was small, we got there around 10 and it was almost full (on a Saturday morning).  There is a building with showers outside to rinse off, bathrooms, and some trash and recycling bins.

This is how two Alaskan born girls hang out in the sun! Under the shade!

Overall this was a great beach and we will return as it is a quick 3 hour trip from our house!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Blue Springs State Park - Blue Springs, Alabama


We had found out about this park a few months ago when we visited another springs.  Everyone we heard had gone had had a BLAST.  We were supposed to leave Friday and stay until Monday.  That didn't happen.  We were going to forego the entire trip, but my BFF texted Sunday morning at 8am (because honestly we were just going to do a moms and kids trip to get them out of the house and enjoy the long weekend, because they were disappointed about not going camping.)  Once my husband heard that was the plan, we rallied the troops and got everything packed up and into the camper. We left not knowing if we wanted to stay the night or not but packed enough food for the possibility.  My BFF had thought she was going to just go up and come back home the same day, so she was NOT prepared for the decision she made later! :P  Once they made it to our house we made it to Blue Springs by noon AL time.  If you have urgent calls you are waiting on this is NOT the place to come.  Cell Service was BAD! I had Verizon 1x almost the entire time.
Their spots are about $25 a night with a one time $3 fee attached to your first night.
Entrance to the park.  It sneaks up on you we almost missed it.

The sweet older lady that was at the entrance was the sweetest little thing.  We showed up with a truck and trailer and an SUV full of kids.  She told us to just go and find a spot and then come back and let her know what spot we picked and we could pay then.  If you do decide to go, their internet/card machine was down so it was cash or checks only.  Bring a check incase you need one.  Thankfully I usually have a book in my purse.

Armed with a map we were driving to our spot.

My friend almost rented a cabin to stay in because they were only $86 for the night, but you have to bring your own linens and things and we didn't have ANY of that.

Found a great spot and backed it in!
TIP: Bring a big spray bottle of bug spray.  Both for the ground and for yourselves.  Mosquitos and ants are BAD.  Thankfully I had thought to toss the one we use around the perimeter of our house into the back of the truck.  My husband went around the camper and where the kids would be walking around towards the table and the fire pit and got rid of most of the ants.  I did forget the citronella candles though. DUH!  The spot we paid for was for water/electric - it was more expensive for a spot that had sewer with it. They do offer a dump station near the bathhouse so we were good with that.

This state park is a blast from the past.  Look at all these awesome play ground equipment from when we grew up!

We got the trailer all set up and changed into our suits and loaded up the coolers.  One thing I will point out is that there are signs ALL OVER that there is no Alcoholic beverages allowed in the springs.  You can drink all you want in the campground but not near the springs.

The middle section of the springs.

And the 3rd section.
They have some paddle boats available for rent.  I didn't ask how much though.

The bathroom is in that building for the springs, I didn't take a picture of the great park they had there. Our kids kept going back and forth between the playground and the springs. 

My sweet 8 year old in the water.  It was FREEZING but that didn't stop him!

If you guys don't have full face snorkels and do a good amount of snorkeling (our family LOVES IT!) they are the thing to have!  We brought our 4 and the kids and my husband took turns searching the bottoms of the springs for things people lost.  My husband actually helped an older lady find her RX glasses she lost while she was in the springs.

My 13 year old kept going in and out of the water.  She is never far without her paints, or art supplies.  One thing we DID forget was a book, so without internet service or cell service she got bored a little bit.

There was a great cement picnic table at each campsite.  Brushed the leaves off of it and ate all our meals on it. 6 kids and 3 adults (my BFF's husband wanted to sleep his birthday party off Sunday morning, and then was kicking himself when they decided to stay and how much of a blast it was!)
Earlier the BFF decided to stay and make a night of it.  We had to run to the next town to find a Dollar General.  It's important to know that Gas, Groceries and cell service is 6 miles away in Clio.  We drove to Clio before dinner to get some more hot dogs (I only brought enough dinner for my family), eggs, bread, a pack of tshirts for them to sleep in, and 3 blankets.  We had some games, cards, baseballs/gloves/bat, art supplies, BB gun, so we picked up football and another pack of paper because we STILL haven't gotten that TV installed in our trailer.  It was great watching them unplug for 48 hours.  But I will tell you it stressed them out when they first found out there was no internet/cell service and how they would "entertain themselves".  They now can't WAIT to return.

BFF and my husband searching for marshmallow roasting sticks.  In my haste to get out the door I forgot our collapsible metal ones.

He really did great being surrounded by 6 kids and 2 wives!

Our babies roasting marshmallows!

The bonfire still had some embers in it from the night before the kids were determined to revive it.  They all gathered as many sticks as they could. 


He loves shooting that BB Gun.

Another view of the playground and our spot.

Because you know the girl life ;).  She said "I really wish I had brought a book!"

Anyone that knows me knows I can't WAIT for Christmas to come around again.  I can be seen reading Christmas books year round!

My husband and his "sister wives" We joke that BFF's husband is our "brother husband".  We love traveling and being a family and we are grateful that the Army brought these two families together.