Kings Furniture Store; Billings, MO

Once there was a tale, of a gal who loved to travel and tell her stories to all those in the land. And then, she got pregnant and bore her third child. So lived the tale of the girl who loved to travel and tell her stories……..

There’s a chance I’m being slightly melodramatic but there is truth to every tale right? So, since I’ve last posted, I got pregnant with my third child, survived said pregnancy with causing only a moderate case of pregnant-husband-traumatic-syndrome, PHTS if you will. I spent those 9 months having some anger management problems (not kidding), complaining about this pesky nerve pain in my upper right side, and being totally and utterly exhausted. This was proceeded by the next 3 months of experiencing that overwhelming sleep deprivation that Momma’s experience during the newborn phase of parenthood.

But, I’m beginning to feel like my old self again. Sarcastic and playful. Adventurous and charming. So in light of the return of Pan, I would like to finally relay a story of a fantastic little store I happened upon last year when I headed down south for work.

There’s been very few times in my life that I’ve had the opportunity or need to venture down to the southwest part of the state. Not sure why it’s never occurred to me. That part of the state is beautiful in the late spring/early summer when the fields have just turned that spectacular shade of emerald green and the baby blue skies sit just above the treeline baring stark contrast. I found myself thoroughly enjoying my peaceful four hour drive and breathing in the intoxicating smell of country-clean air.

My drive that day brought me straight through a town I’d never heard of before; Billings, Missouri. When I happen upon these small towns, I smile to myself and revel in the excitement of finding a gem off the beaten path. I instantly become a “Sunday driver” of sorts where I find myself inexplicably driving about 10 miles under the speed limit until the angry driver behind me lays on the horn and brings me back to reality. When I’d driven about halfway through downtown Billings, I noticed a beautiful century-old storefront with a new sign afixed to the front, Kings Custom Vintage. I made a mental note to stop there on my way back through town, once I was done with my work for the day.

Because I love old architecture, I likely would have stopped just to look at the outside of the store but the floor to ceiling warehouse-style windows welcomed me inside with open arms. Imagine my surprise when I find thousands of square feet of beautifully redone furniture.

An upright piano turned wine rack. Genius!

All pieces have an original paint style that is specific to just that piece. The owner of Kings formulated her own chalk paint (amazing!) that has a smooth, not cake-y texture, and coats the furniture in the beautiful, chalk finish that is so popular now.

If you can’t find a piece here that you fall in love with, you’re not going to find one anywhere! And with the expansive space of the store (4,000 sq ft +!), the owners keep piling in more and more original designs that you are sure to fall in love with.

Owner, Sharlene King Ferguson, poses in her one-of-a-kind furniture shop in Billings, MO


Kings holds do-it-yourself clases

If you’re in the area of Southwest Missouri, do yourself the favor of stopping in and seeing what’s on the storeroom floor! Kings is located on Highway 60 in downtown Billings, Missouri. Call them at 417-844-2810 for questions.

Shop local!


Flying High: Our introductory flight with Jeff City Flying Services

Jefferson City Flying Services, Missouri, Flying Lessons, Jefferson City airport


This year, I totally outdid myself for Robby’s Father’s Day gift. After years of him talking about taking flying lessons, I arranged a short, introductory flight with Jefferson City Flying Services.

I contacted the Flight School via e-mail and received a call back within a couple hours. Since Robby has a fear of heights (Yeah I know, and he wants to fly a plane. I don’t get him either so don’t ask me……), the flight school coordinator, AJ, suggested we take the shorter 30 minute flight so that we’re fairly close to the airport in case we need to land quickly.

Jeff City Flying Services, jeff city, missouri, flying lessons

The plane was small; that’s all I can tell you for I am not a plane connoisseur. There were 4 seats and entry to the cockpit is simply done by climbing up on the wing and sliding yourself right in.


jeff city, jefferson city flying services, missouri, flying lessons

Once you get settled into your seat, you are provided with your very own Top Gun-style headphones and attached microphone. This is how you communicate with the others in the plane during the flight.

missouri, flying lessons, jefferson city, jeff city flying services

And of course there is the extensive pre-flight check that must be done before takeoff. Robby listened intently and AJ was kind enough to show him the ropes and explain what each step was and why it had to be done.

missouri, jeff city, jefferson city flying services, flying lessons

The views of our hometown were breathtaking at this perspective. The pilot kindly offered to fly over our home and he even came around a second time so we could get some good pictures. He was also friendly and talkative and he made our first flight interesting and fun.

We were surprised to find that both the takeoff and the landing were smooth as butter; the landing felt like nothing more than gently sliding yourself down on a beanbag.

The flight, whilst short, was a huge hit with Robby. He was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day and treasured this gift much more than he would have any material possession I could have given him.

Making your appointment for an introductory flight is easy, just contact Jefferson City Flying Services via their website here to get further details.

Tell me, if you had your pilot’s license, where would you go with it?




My blog is very wonky right now. I apologize and will hopefully have things back up and going soon!


Kayaking on Cedar Creek

kayaking, kayak, cedar creek, missouri, creek, paddling



What a beautiful word.

Peaceful, adventurous, quiet, simple, gentle, relaxing.

When I think of my kayak, this plethora of visions run through my mind. My love affair with paddling started some 8ish years ago when an old co-worker was kind enough to offer up his set of kayaks for us to take out for a spin.

After awkwardly fitting the kayaks onto our tiny trailer, we set off back for Jeff City and threw in at Binder Lake. Robby and I kicked our feet up, soaked up every ounce our sun had to give that day, and floated the day away. It was the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done. (Except go to Key West, nothing will EVER top my Key West).

Since that glorious day on the lake, we bought two kayaks, spent two summers completely obsessed with paddling, had two kids, never had time for kayaking, bought two more kayaks in the hopes of having more time for kayaking, and then had no time for kayaking.

A couple weekends ago, however, the grandparents, oh those sweet, sweet grandparents, whisked the kids away and we had just enough time to throw the kayaks onto the Jeep and head down the road to Cedar Creek.

Kayaking, kayak, cedar creek, creek, paddling, jeep, jeeps

The hubs and I are always up for checking out a new creek (seeing new places=kinda the point of this blog) we can sink our kayaks into. We didn’t have an entire day to spend on the water and wanted to keep it close to home so we decided on Cedar Creek. I cross over the mouth of this creek every single day en route to work but we put in a little farther up stream.

Directions: Take the Columbia Regional Airport exit, turn toward the airport. There is a sharp right turn shortly after you will pass by the airport, continue right and then straight, straight, straight until it turns to gravel. That gravel road dead ends right at the creek. There’s usually several cars parked there as well. A bridge connects that gravel road to the Mark Twain National Forest on the other side of the creek. Just before that bridge you’ll see a path on the right side of the road that’ll lead you down to the creek bank.

cedar creek, missouri, columbia regional airport, kayaking

cedar creek, kayaking, missouri

cedar creek, missouri, kayaking, map, columbia regional airport

Part of the enjoyment and excitement of checking out a new creek is witnessing all the different landscapes that line a creek or a river. Through our years of ‘yaking, we’ve come across some fantastic bluffs, gravel bars, and foliage.

cedar creek, missouri, gravel bar, kayaking

Cedar Creek was the same, but different. It did not disappoint in any regard. Even though we had several shoals we had to walk the kayaks through, they were short lived and we always chalk that up to being part of the adventure.

cedar creek, missouri, kayaking, bluffs, bluffs of cedar creek

After several hours of relaxed floating, we reluctantly had to turn around and head for home.


Seven Falls; Colorado Springs, CO

Seven Falls, hiking, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Hiking with Kids



Hiking with small kids….

One of those sounds like a great thing to do in Colorado and one sounds like a death sentence? Right?

Just a few weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of going out to Colorado to not only see my beautiful sister tie the knot but also to spend some time hitting up sights I haven’t yet explored on my many trips to the home of the Rocky Mountain Range.

Seven Falls was one of those sights. During a family trip several years ago, we attempted to check out Seven Falls but the park was closed due to flash flooding type of weather. It had just down poured and the park was soaking wet; we were going to try it anyway because we were anxious to do some sight seeing but alas, we were denied.

This time around there was no flash flooding, monsoon type of weather to forbade us from entering the park so we set out one morning after breakfast (actually it was after a morning run (which was after breakfast) with my sis, her soon-to-be-that-very-day hubby, and friends and family for a pre-wedding run on the Santa Fe Trail).

Seven Falls is located in Colorado Springs, in the southern area of town. It’s also very close to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo so you should check that out as well. We did get to take in the zoo this time too and we were very impressed. I’ll fill you in on the ins and outs of the Zoo later.

A multitude of road signs and that ever blessed Map App on the iPhone led us straight to Seven Falls. However, when we got there, the 12 year old park guide (jk, he just looked 12; I’m sure he was every bit of 16.) redirected us down the road “about one mile” to the actual parking for the Falls, which has recently been relocated to the Broadmoor Hotel.

Large and frequent signage directed folks from the entrance to the Falls park to the actual parking lot where shuttle buses picked up attraction goers and drove back up the hill and through the curvy streets, to the park. I would venture to say that it’s a little further than one mile from the parking at the hotel to the actual entrance to the Falls. If you think you’ll just walk, you may want to think again. Especially if you have plans to do some serious hiking.

Seven Falls, tram, trolley, colorado springs, colorado, waterfalls

Once you enter, a tram (shown above) will drive you from the entrance to the actual base of the waterfall, as it’s a good maybe 3/4 mile hike up hill. For those not in good shape, handicapped, or just simply don’t like to get your exercise, feel free to tram it up. I’ll warn you that you will probably not take in the beauty of the entrance like we did though.

Our kids are now 2 and 4. Olivia, the 4 year old, is quite independent and did great walking on her own through our adventures in Colorado, with the exception of a few times when she needed a piggyback ride to rest her weary, little feet, to which I, of course, obliged. Easton is the “baby”. He does good walking for a bit but his short, stocky legs don’t bring him along very fast so we were thankful we picked up an Ergobaby at REI before coming out to the Falls.

Seven Falls, Colorado Springs, Colorado, hiking, hiking with kids

The shuttle driver was kind enough to give us a little background info of Seven Falls and of the Broadmoor Hotel, which is where we parked our car and the conglomerate that currently owns Seven Falls. The name so became because the waterfall itself actually has seven distinct “falls” from top to bottom. There are 224 stairs to get to the top. Of course you can stay at the base of the fall and simply take in the beauty but to get your money’s worth and to relish the full experience, you should climb the 224 stairs all the way to the top.

Seven Falls, waterfalls, stairs, hiking, hiking with kids, colorado springs, colorado, broadmoor hotel


The stairs really aren’t bad; a little nerve-racking trying to get your 2 and 4 year old up safely but not bad. Someone with a fear of heights (ahem, my hubby) might have a little trouble with the stairs but 224 goes by pretty quickly really.

Seven Falls, waterfalls, hiking, hiking with kids, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Broadmoor Hotel

Once you’ve reached the summit, you are rewarded with the options of several different hikes through the forest. But because this was the time that our kids started getting cranky and tired, we only got to walk through a very short portion of the forest hikes. What we did see was beautiful and peaceful. The trails are marked with signs so no worries about finding your way.

Seven falls, colorado springs, Colorado, hiking, trails, hiking trails, hiking with kids, waterfalls

Had we been at the Falls sans wee ones, we easily would have been able to spend at least a good half day roaming the trails and soaking in the pine forest beauty. However, we did have the littles and they do have littles-size attention spans so we were only able to take in about an hour and a half of Falls filled fun.

Snow, snow at seven falls, colorado springs, colorado, hiking, hiking with kids, waterfalls

Olivia was so happy to find snow in the Spring.


Seven Falls, waterfalls, hiking, hiking with kids, rock formations, colorado springs, colorado

There is a restaurant about halfway from the entrance to the base of the Falls. It has a great view so when you get hungry after the day’s hike, be sure to stop in there for some lunch or dinner. To check out more detailed information about Seven Falls such as prices and hours click here.

New Orleans at a Glance: Quick Review of my 4 days in NOLA

Carriages waiting for passengers

Carriages waiting for passengers

As most of you know, several weeks ago I ventured to the Big Easy to attend a conference for work. I was more than happy to go as I not only love learning but also love seeing new places. And surprisingly enough, out of all the places in the South I’ve been, NOLA wasn’t one of them.

We arrived around noon on a Monday and had pre-arranged the shuttle for our transportation to the hotel. There are cabs a-plenty in New Orleans however the ride to the hotel was about 20 minutes. It’d be best that if you’re staying down by the river or near the French Quarter, you arrange for another sort of transportation.

Historical Church in New Orleans

Historical Church in New Orleans

Our shuttle chauffeur was kind enough to give us lots of welcoming advice about NOLA, most of which I quickly jotted down in the notes app on my iPhone.

  • St Charles Streetcar (the green car not the red car)
  • Red Fish Grill
  • Oceanas in the French Quarter (they did serve us a great lunch!)
  • Cafe Beignet for the beignets
  1. Cafe Du Monde
The. Beignets. Oh my gosh the beignets.

The. Beignets. Oh my gosh the beignets.

We kept hearing about Cafe Beignet and had already been given a raving review about Cafe Du Monde, which also serves beignets. We were sure to dive mouth-first into the beignets right away and I was lucky enough to get two consecutive days of the powdered sugar mounds of deliciousness. Read about my trip to Cafe Du Monde here.

2. BB Kings Blues Club

After the first day of conference overload ended, we took our appetites down to BB Kings Blues Club in the French Quarter. We were relieved to see live music and even more relieved when we got served a heaping bowl of jambalaya, which was amazing. I always try to steer clear of the franchise-type restaurants but BB Kings had great food, southern hospitality service, and a great atmosphere that welcomed you to come in, pull up a chair, and have a drink. Which is exactly what we did.

3. The French Quarter

French Quarter

One morning on our walk back to the conference hall, we had some time to kill and decided to meander through the French Quarter more. I was impressed to see that the city literally washes, with soap and water, the streets every morning. Although after you witness the level of libations and the appallingly large population of homeless people, you understand why they need every last drop of that soap. That morning in particular we were pleased to find a pianist playing in the street, even at the 8:00 hour. It always makes me smile to see street performers.

Church in New Orleans

4. Creole Queen Paddlewheeler

All aboard!

All aboard!

Mid-week we boarded the Creole Queen paddlewheeler for an evening on the Mississippi River. Open bar, appetizers, jazz music, and fresh air are always a great combination. There’s a certain 1920’s feel that envelopes you when you step on a paddlewheeler boat that’s rocking out to some classic, live jazz. This proved to be an enjoyable, relaxing evening and I so enjoyed seeing the lights of the city from the middle of the Mississippi. 

5. St Charles Streetcar Line

St Charles Streetcar

The last day we were there, we finally had a chance to carve out some time to walk up to the bus stop on St Charles street to catch the, appropriately named, St Charles Streetcar Line. The driver had explained during the drive on Day 1 that this line (the green line not the red line) would take us through the historical garden district to see the old plantation homes. Of course, this got my attention as I am a die hard historical architecture lover and typically salivate when standing in Southern Plantation grandeur.

"Plantation" Homes

The green trolley was a good way to get a cheap ride through the Garden District but the “plantation” homes weren’t what I had in mind. They were beautiful homes, don’t get me wrong, but not the southern plantation homes one typically conjours in their mind, as they were packed like sushi for blocks on end. Still yet, this day in particular was raining and we got to stay dry and still got to take in some sightseeing.

6. The French Market

I wish we would have had some time to hit up the French Market down by Cafe Du Monde. On one of our cab rides, we drove right past as some of the last vendors were putting away their goods. I think I could have scored some awesome items but then would have had to figure out how to get said items home. So, I guess it was meant to be. Or should I say, not be?

Pan’s takeaway from NOLA:

  • If you like to party, you’ll love NOLA.
  • If you expect to see Tara (as in Gone With the Wind plantation home), you’ll be disappointed.
  • Four days was plenty, and most of mine was even spent in a conference hall. I’ve seen all I need to of NOLA honestly.

Tell me, what are you thoughts on the Big Easy?

Cafe Du Monde; New Orleans

Last week, I had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans to attend a conference for work. I did not, however, have the pleasure of waking up at 2:30am on Monday to get myself to the airport for my flight. Ugh. I had never been to New Orleans and absolutely adore “The South” so I was really looking forward to seeing the town, even though I knew there wouldn’t be much time for sightseeing, The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru style.

Once I picked up my co-worker-friend on the way and we got ourselves a space in Lot D at the airport, we waited in the bitter cold for a shuttle bus. Missouri, just so you know, it’s March. What happened to all that nice weather you gave us back in February!!!??? Come on already!!

We flew Southwest (which I have recently become more familiar with and am wondering how come nobody has told me how awesome Southwest is!) and thus had a longer shuttle ride than the rest. After most of the people had exited to their respective terminals, there were a few Southwest stragglers left on the bus. We had a little red eye small talk and divulged our destination to our fellow passengers. The man with the beard and tattoos sitting opposite from me told us that going to Cafe Du Monde for the beignets is a must. All the while I’m thinking, “What the heck is a beignet?” but I made a note in my phone none the less because I like reviews from people who have been-there-done-that.

Once we landed in the Big Easy and boarded the cramped hotel shuttle,the driver (we shall call him “tour guide” from this point on for that’s exactly what he was) ushered us along the highway giving us lots of local advice. Confusion set in, though, when he said that Cafe Beignet for the beignets is a must. We thought we heard the bearded airport guy wrong or something. But alas, there is a Cafe Du Monde and there is a Cafe Beignet and they both serve beignets!


Since we had gotten a raving review about beignets from the bearded shuttle guy and our tour guide, we knew this was a must. Starting off Day 2 nice and early, my co-worker-friend and I set off on foot to Cafe Du Monde. It was a nice morning in New Orleans with sunshine that I hadn’t seen in Missouri for weeks so I was happy to stroll in lieu of cabbing it.

When we arrived at the Cafe (which is near the French Market), the line was intimidating, to say the least. We thought there was no way we had time to eat if that’s how long we were going to have to wait, however, the line moved very quickly so we decided to tough it out. We probably waited a max of 10 minutes and were lucky enough to score a table outside just as someone was leaving.


The menu is basic to say the least. But it’s known for the beignets so I don’t know what else you would order anyway. So…. The Beignet. It’s a french doughnut. With a mountain of powdered sugar on top. Holy goodness. The tour guide did provide fair warning not to wear any black if en route to eat beignets. Now we know why.


At the risk of sounding politically incorrect (heck, what isn’t politically incorrect these days), there were an inordinate amount of elder Asian ladies running the joint. And don’t get me wrong, kuddos to them for working that hard to serve that many people a day! But I almost had guilt placing my order knowing our waitress was going to have to wade through the mass of customers back into the restaurant to get our order and then turn around and find her way back to our table.  And they were still a little difficult to understand. My co-worker-friend ordered a tea. She was served a coffee.

But this is no ordinary coffee. No no. This is a cafe au lait; coffee with hot milk. I saw many people dipping their beignets in the coffee. And while I’m normally a black coffee gal (specify clearly if you only want the black coffee; thank goodness I’m not picky), the cafe au lait was mighty tasty paired with the three tiered beignet special.

beignets al fresco

al fresco dining

The second time I went (Yes, there was a second time and while I would happily admit it was my choosing should this be the case, a second co-worker-friend was wanting to try it out as he had missed out the first day), it was before 8:00 am and the outdoor dining area was closed. Cafe Du Monde is open 24 hours a day so we found seating inside on this particular morning. The beignets this day were especially fresh and warm and even more perfect than the first round.


They’re more specialized than the original McDonald’s menu and literally have a “factory line” type of system inside. The servers just move down the line adding how many plates of beignets and how many cups of cafe au lait have been ordered. Also, please note they only accept cash! No cards and no checks.

We were told by the bearded, tattooed man at the airport that the beignets are especially scrumptious after a night drinking in the French Quarter. I can’t attest to that as I was there for work and I’m older than I used to be and I can’t hang out much past 10:00 pm.

Has anybody checked out either Cafe Du Monde or Cafe Beignet? Tell me your thoughts!! Who has the best beignet in NOLA??

(Note: The waiting line outside the Cafe was three times as long as what we had when we arrived-see the picture above. This was probably about 10:00am. If you want to avoid the wait, hit it up as close to 8:00 am as you can.)

The Hartsburg Grand: Again, my new favorite eatery!


Several years ago when the hubs and I were making one of our notorious drives through the countryside searching for land to purchase and make our “home” we drove through Hartsburg, Missouri . It just so happened that it was dinner time, and it just so happened that we were super hungry, and it just so happened that this perfect little restaurant happened to be open. It took no thought at all for us to veer in and grab a bite to eat. (Coincidentally, we eventually ended up finding a beautiful piece of land just one mile up the road from this restaurant)

Since this first Hartsburg Grand encounter, the restaurant shut down and was vacant for some time and recently reopened under new ownership. For about 6 months they didn’t have their liquor license which was a major let down but they finally got that under their belt and are ready to go with a good selection of beers, wines, and some liquor for mixed cocktails.


For me, a restaurant isn’t just about the meal that’s served but it’s more of what they can offer in terms of a “trifecta” of an experience. Not only do you want the obvious: a delicious, unique meal. But for me and the hubs, we want good service and last but definitely not least (probably the most important to me) is the atmosphere. A dining setting that is as unique as the food they serve sets a restaurant apart from all the others.



The Hartsburg Grand delivers the trifecta to a T! With the restaurant being housed in a two-story century old building, the character and the architecture is something that can’t be duplicated. The restaurant is small but has vast ceilings and an open dining room. Each table is set specially for each customer with a formal black tablecloth and white, linen napkins adorning each glass. At first glance, this may seem a fancy-pants setting but they welcome every cyclist off the Katy Trail and even us with our two crazy kiddos.


I started my last meal off with a beautiful arrangement of a side salad with the house dressing. It ended something like this….


Need I say more??

The penne pasta with large shrimp was the ticket for the night, even though I usually stray from ordering pasta dishes. Whatever led my decision in choosing the pasta was definitely on the right track. The shrimp were large and meaty with unbelievable flavor. The white sauce was undeniably made by a pro and was the perfect concoction of cream and spices that blended together to form a taste out of this world!! I ate every last morsel.


Robby chose the steak and potato dinner. He was very pleased as well but did mention that he should have ordered the pasta (I’m not kidding, it was seriously that good!)


On another day altogether, we did end up stopping in for lunch and had the standard burger and fries for both me and the hubs and also a mini-burger for the kiddos.


I don’t know what else to say besides the fact that is was just another plate of deliciousness served to us by another friendly waitress in the same perfect setting. Bliss. Pure edible bliss.

The Hartsburg Grand does have somewhat strange and potentially unpredictable hours so I would call before making plans to venture out our way. Their number is 573-657-1414 and even though there is a website at it’s not truly for the restaurant. It’s for the “event center” portion of the place which is the theater upstairs and the Grand Station just to the side of the restaurant.

If you make it there, be sure and let me know what you had and what you thought! I’m certain you won’t be disappointed!!

Happy eating, Pan


Blue Heaven; Key West, FL


If you’ve read into my blog much at all, you’ll easily see that I’m just a little obsessed with Key West. We just got back from our fourth trip, so prepare yourself for another round of endless Key West posts;-) Don’t say I didn’t warn you……

Our first night on the island, we got in super duper late, or super duper early however you wish to think of it (2:30 am no thanks to American Airlines). We got up a little later than normal but felt refreshed by the salty, ocean air and hit up none other than Blue Heaven right off the bat.

If you’ve done any research into Key West at all, you’ll know that Blue Heaven is a must if you’re there; the “six-toed cats meow”, if you will. I know they’ve got a famous Lobster Benedict that so many rave about but I’m not a “benedict” kind of gal so I’ve steered clear from that.

We were lucky enough to get in without much of a wait. Last year we were told it would be a 45 minute wait but since we got there before the rush this year (and did this on Friday as opposed to the weekend) we only had about a 20 minute wait. Easy enough, as there’s a bar adjacent to the music stage where a four-piece band was cracking out the tunes bright and early.


Waiting isn’t so bad when you have a cold beverage and live music, right?? So we saddled up to the bar, where Robby ordered his usual morning drink, a Bloody Mary. As much as I want to like the Bloody Mary (what’s not to like: tomato juice, celery, olive, spice) I just can’t. I try it time and time again hoping that one day my taste buds will properly develop into loving the drink that I know I should but as of this trip; nope, still not yet. My first indulgence was one of a Heaven’s Punch. Mmmm Mmmm Good.


True to their word, we were beckoned to be seated right at 20 minutes where we were directed to our outdoor table. They do have inside seating but come on! You’re in Key West! You can’t eat inside!!


I felt in the mood for a traditional breakfast and ordered the Rooster Special. Eggs cooked to order, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and two cakes. The pancakes were light and fluffy and perfect when topped with the fresh maple syrup. Robby ordered the omelet paired with a side of banana bread that he swears is the best banana bread he’s ever put near his mouth. I don’t know that I’d take it that far (he may have just been under the influence; everything tastes better in Key West) but it was quite moist and delicious.


I couldn’t help but get into the Key West vibe and order another beverage to coincide with my coffee and breakfast; Mango Fandango was next on the list but not as pleasing and the former. This drink was more sour than the Heaven’s Punch and though all the ingredients sounded like the perfect blend, it just wasn’t what I was going for.


Sour drink or not, the moral of the story is that if in Key West, one must eat at Blue Heaven. It’s the Southernmost Island landmark that you won’t regret visiting.





Boutique shopping in Rolla, MO


Back in December, several weeks before Christmas, I realized it was SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!! Panic quickly set in, the morning I heard on the radio just how little time I had to get my shopping done, cookies made, gifts wrapped and holiday party hosted.

This also happened to be the week that I was having a Mini-Mommy-Meltdown. You know those weeks. The times you don’t want to crawl out of bed and be all adult-y. The times that you want to just come home, slip into those beautiful, black, uber comfy yoga pants and slide straight in between your bed sheets to indulge in that slightly trashy romance novel that you are almost ashamed to admit you love.  Those times that I am certain every single parent has but doesn’t want to admit to having for the fear of looking weak or like you don’t really love your kids….

It just so happens, an opportunity came upon me at the height of my Mini-Mommy-Meltdown. (And by meltdown, we all know that nobody knows you’re actually having a meltdown. You keep that all inside right??) So, like the good little nurse I am (wink, wink), I volunteered to make my way from Columbia to Rolla to have a quick visit with a client.


With my travel mug full of fresh, black coffee and the most gorgeous drive through rolling hills into the sunrise, I made my way from Jefferson City into the town of Rolla. Just as I entered town, my attention was caught by a unique sign, “Front Porch Boutique”. Colorful with a rustic edge, my interest was piqued and I planned to stop in for a little holiday shopping once my work was done.


I got finished early and had to wait for the shop to open (they opened at 9:00am on this day) but relished in the silence of my car with my fresh coffee refill, surfing through the ridiculousness that is Facebook.

All it took was one step over the threshold to realize I was in shopping heaven. I have never been a fan of box stores that have variations of the same exact item as every other box store. A retail store that has taken the time to carefully pick out their inventory as if selecting it specifically for each individual customer will win my vote every time.


As I meandered through each nook and cranny of this store, one section at a time, I fell in love. Pure shopping love. Front Porch Boutique has gifts for nearly anybody and everybody. They have clothes, boots, knick knacks, food, headbands, dinnerware, things for kids, things for the men in your life, things for the women,you name it.


I got my sisters each some gifts and I ended up maybe, just maybe, buying even more for myself. For me, I got a peach dress (made in the USA! which I find awesome), a blue jean dress, and a very soft, cozy oversize cardigan for those cold winter days where you just need to be wrapped in comfort.

I easily spent an hour roaming and digging and searching for those perfect, unique trinkets that you decide you can’t live without. I found myself going back through rooms a second time and kept finding something I hadn’t seen the first time around. I believe I even had to put some things back on the shelves in an attempt to restrain the shopping frenzy that had overcome my senses.

The next time you’re in the throws of your Mini-Mommy-Meltdown, or Daddy-Downer-Days, make your way to the door of Front Porch Boutique in Rolla and gets your spirits up with a little retail therapy. Trust me, it’ll do you wonders!