Our House is Too Big

Back when we were first married, Clay and I would watch House Hunters in our 700 sq. ft. apartment in Sackets Harbor, New York and dream about living in a 2500+ sq. ft. house complete with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Now almost 10 years later, we watch Tiny House Nation in our 2500 sq. ft. home (with granite countertops, but only one stainless steel appliance) and dream of living in a smaller house. The irony is not lost on us.

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I’ll admit that living in a 300 sq. ft. home doesn’t appeal to us at this point in our lives but running as fast as we can away from the overconsumption and must-have attitude that has such a stronghold on middle class is a priority. After all, we’re living in a time when choosing to purchase a new car with cloth seats instead of leather can be viewed as making do with less. Which is quite laughable. And sort of sickening.

We’re set to move next summer and have our hearts set on a smaller house next time around. Not tiny house small, but at least 1000-1500 sq. ft. less than what we have now. Our house is just too damn big for our family of four. During daylight hours, we’re all in the same room at least 88% of the time and to be honest, the amount of time we actually spend inside our home is minimal. What is sad is that when I mention wanting only a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom ranch home next time around to some people, their reactions vary between horror and pity. It’s hard to believe we’re living during a time in our country when a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home under 2000 sq. ft. is considered small.

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Throughout our daily life, we’re taught that less is more. I am absolutely guilty of uttering these words while justifying the need for a new gadget that will “like totally make life easier” in the aisles of Target (why is it that I am incapable of walking out of Target without spending at least $30?). My goal for this upcoming school year is to focus on my wants vs. needs, especially when it comes to tangible items, things if you will. We have close to 3000 sq. ft. worth of stuff in our home. It is just too much stuff. If someone were to challenge me to write down everything single item in our possession, I’d likely fail miserably and only be able to recall 20% or so of what we own. Unacceptable.

Famed 19th century English architect and designer William Morris famously wrote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” By doing an inventory of every single item in our home and determining whether it is useful or beautiful or neither, I hope to scale down our worldly treasures and return to a more simple existence, or at least one that can fit in a 1500 sq. ft. house. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

It’s Not Jam, Nor Berries

When my friend, Emily, asked if I would be interested in trying Jamberry nail wraps, I mulled over the idea of writing about my experience on this blog because I only like to discuss products and ideas that are of interest to me. I don’t do sponsored reviews and delete many emails I receive from marketing firms wanting me to write about local casinos, male-enhancement drugs, and self-published books about finding oneself. Obviously my blog is in hot demand. But since Emily is a cool cat (despite being a Gamecock) and an amazing Doctor of Physical Therapy, I took her up on her offer and agreed to be what feels like the last person to try Jamberry nail wraps.

In full disclosure, I do not have pretty manicured nails. Growing up, I never had much interest in my nails beyond making sure they were short enough to shove into a softball glove. I didn’t even get a professional manicure for my wedding – I am just that low key about my nails. Whenever I do put on polish on my fingernails (either for a special event or during a rare fit of insanity), it is chipping within the first 6 hours of application. I know, I’m horrible. On the other hand, I do get the occasional pedicure and always have nail polish on my toenails because let’s face it – my feet need all the help they can get (don’t worry, I won’t accost you with pictures of my horrid feet).

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For the uninitiated, Jamberry are vinyl nail wraps that adhere to nails through heat. Emily gave me the choice of samples and I went with a simple polka dot pattern. To be honest, I would have picked just a solid color if given the choice because that’s how I roll. I am not going to provide a step-by-step for the application process because there are more Jamberry tutorials on the internet than videos of kittens falling over. A simple Google search will suffice. In fact, let me Google that for you…

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Because of the learning curve, it took me almost an hour to finish all ten nails. I was drinking rum and diet coke and watching the Emmy Awards while applying the wraps so my concentration waned from time to time. But I finally got the hang of it and actually didn’t mind the somewhat tedious application process. Clay is TDY this week so my nights have included riveting activities such as cleaning toilets, re-staining grout, and applying Jamberry nail wraps. It’s glamorous over here, folks.

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The verdict? I like them more than I thought I would! Being that I do not wear nail polish on a regular basis, I was prepared to for an eh response but color me surprised. I’ve had them on for over 24 hours and have experienced no chipping, despite washing/drying my hair, cleaning the shower with bleach, scrubbing grout, and wiping dirty baby bums (clearly my day was spectacular). I still don’t see myself wearing these wraps on a regular basis but I totally would choose these over nail polish for the rare occasion I want to dress up my nails.

A395I am, however, going to order the above style because CLEMSON.

Go Tigers!

If you’re interested in trying Jamberry nail wraps, check out Emily’s Jamberry Page or email her at emilycbradshaw1984 (a) gmail.com. According to Emily, any one who orders a Buy 3, Get 1 Special from her will be entered into a drawing for a free mini heater.

The Crown Jewel of the Caribbean – St. John

The highlight of our vacation was easily our time spent on St. John. When planning the trip, we ultimately decided to stay on St. Thomas because we managed to score a great rate at the Marriott. And we really did have a fantastic time on Rock City. But St. John is in a different league all together – we knew we would love the island but we didn’t expect to fall as hard as we did. St. John is known as the crown jewel of the Caribbean and I can’t think of a more deserving title for what just may be the most beautiful place we’ve been to yet (Alaska and St. John are the frontrunners – no contest).

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Because St. John has no airport, it is only accessible by boat. We hopped an early morning ferry that left from the Marriott dock on Pacqereau Bay that was actually meant for a sea and land tour group going to St. John. We paid the discounted rate and made plans to breakaway from group as soon as we hit land. I did manage to accidentally insult the tour guide when she tried to convince us to sign up for the land tour but c’est le vie. We did enjoy the Captain’s commentary on the ferry ride over and learned quite a bit about USVI history and we can now boast that we know where a world famous arms dealer resides.

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The ferry took only about 35 minutes to get to Cruz Bay, St. John.

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 Seagulls accompanied us on the trip.

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 Ferry selfie!

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St. John is unique because 60% of the island is National Park. Under the condition that it be protected from future development, Laurance Rockefeller donated the majority of his land to the National Park Service in 1956. Additionally, most of the water, coral reefs, and shoreline are also protected and considered part of the Virgin Islands National Park.

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Our ferry docked in Cruz Bay, the main town on the island. Once off the boat, we hopped on an open air safari taxi and made our way to fabled Trunk Bay. We shared the taxi with a local who literally gushed at how St. John is an amazing island and gave us some pointers on places to go that are off the beaten path.

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Our drive to Trunk Bay took us past the famed Caneel Bay and namesake resort.

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We saw many beautiful bright roosters walking along side taxis on the road.

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Seriously – the views on the island are absolutely insanely gorgeous.

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Trunk Bay is perhaps the most famous beach in the Caribbean. Given the title of Most Beautiful Beach in the World by National Geographic Society, Trunk Bay is home to the underwater coral reef snorkeling trail, the most crystal clear water in which we’ve ever swam, and a brilliant white sand beach.

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{That little dot is Clay’s head}

There is a small fee to get on the beach (staffed by the National Park Service) but it was well worth it. It felt like we were existing within a postcard. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and we spent the morning swimming and enjoying being one of only about 10 people on the beach. We didn’t get a chance to go snorkeling along the underwater trail but we are planning on doing so during our next visit (there will be a vacation to St. John within the next couple of years). The pictures to not do Trunk Bay justice. It is simply more magnificent than you can imagine.

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After Trunk Bay, we took a taxi back to Cruz Bay and found The Tap Room, home of the St. John Brewers.

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We shared pork nachos and enjoyed beers while chatting with one of the owners. He is from Northern New York and decided to immediately move to St. John after visiting and wanting a more simple life. We weren’t surprised in the least because our new post-Army retirement dream? Move to St. John.

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Four beers later, we were ready to hike in the National Park. Don’t worry, we also had plenty of water!

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We took the upper trail and enjoyed hiking along the slightly rough terrain. During our hike, we didn’t encounter one other person on the trail – absolute perfection.

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Our destination? Honeymoon Beach.

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Honeymoon Beach is only accessible via boat or the trail we hiked. It was particularly hot that day so we immediately jumped in the water and soaked in the view. You can see most of the islands surrounding Pillsbury Sound from Honeymoon Beach – including Jost Van Dyke, one of the British Virgin Islands. Impressive sailboats were anchored in the water and only added to the view.

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And before long, it was time to hike back to Cruz Bay so we could catch our ferry back to St. Thomas.

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We only spent one day on St. John – not nearly enough time. But we will be back – that’s for sure.

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We enjoyed complementary rum runners on the ride back to St. Thomas and brainstormed ways to make living on St. John a reality (let’s just say they became more outlandish as our glasses were continuously refilled).

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Our kid-free vacation was amazing. Thank you to my amazing parents for watching the kids and encouraging us to escape for a little while. Clay’s current job is demanding and requires long hours and frequent absences. As I mentioned previously, the ability to spend five uninterrupted days with my husband is a rarity given his job. This vacation was exactly what we needed to recharge and prepare for fall and everything it brings. We’re ready for school, soccer, various lessons, and cooler weather. Bring. It. On.