Exploring Asheville and The Blue Ridge Parkway

Toyota CamryDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by Toyota. Opinions are my own.

I recently was given the opportunity to take a brand new (as in only 6 miles on the odometer new) 2016 Toyota Camry on a road trip. I am a road warrior and don’t mind road tripping at all (I mean there’s so much more leg room in a car these days vs. an airplane, yeah?) so this was right up my alley. And because sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist in your own state I selected Asheville, North Carolina and The Blue Ridge Parkway as the destination in hopes to catch some of those gorgeous leaves turning a rainbow of colors. I’ve visited the area and cruised the Blue Ridge Parkway many times in the past, but there’s always something seemingly new and even more beautiful to see with each visit. This one was no exception.

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Girls Getaway – The Carolinas

Carolina Beach
Sometimes a girl just needs a getaway. Last month Susan and I decided to take a spontaneous carb filled mid week mini getaway to the Carolina coast. We had no specific destination in mind other than the coast. Spontaneity. It’s a good thing. Well unless we didn’t find a room then it wouldn’t have been a good thing as we would have been sleeping in the car (there are worse things). We started towards Wilmington where we stopped for lunch and something sweet. Well a whole lot of sweet.

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Frisco North Carolina – OBX

Frisco Woods OBX

Last month we packed up the bikes and traveled to Frisco North Carolina in The Outer Banks (OBX) to camp by the sea. Those of you who know me know I’m NOT a camper. I was only convinced to go camping because A. The campground was located at the ocean (specifically The Outer Banks which I adore), B. There would be a cabin with air conditioning and electricity. I would still be roughing it as the cabins didn’t have any running water, read NO bathroom, which I didn’t find out until after the reservations were made, ehem.

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Biscuitville 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series – VIR

VIR 12 Credit- Getty Images Photo Credit: Getty Images

This weekend we’re packing up the bikes and heading back to VIR to experience the Biscuitville 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series. I’m getting to be quite the regular at VIR. Pretty soon they might even start recognizing my sparkly helmet and motorcycle at the entrance gates ; )  The past two events we’ve been to have been insanely fun for our whole family. We’re equally excited to see the next generation of NASCAR stars shift and drift around the track this weekend.

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Tudor United Sports Car Championship – VIR

Podium celebration

Back in May I had the opportunity to visit VIR (Virginia International Raceway) for the first time to see the Motorcycle Road Racing Series. It was an amazing experience and I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to return next weekend as VIRginia International Raceway Prepares for Season’s Biggest, Fastest Race Welcoming Back The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Aug. 21-23!

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Happy Trails in Hiawassee Georgia

Hiawassee Georgia
We hit the hills! I think hills probably isn’t the best word but it flows better so I’m going with that. Last month we took a two wheeled road trip to the mountains of Georgia for a rally. While I am and will always be a beach girl I have to admit the mountains definitely don’t suck. Especially with views like that. This was by far, to date, the longest I’ve been on a bike. We broke the trip up into two days (because North Carolina to Georgia on a bike). Stopping in Cherokee North Carolina the first night and then finishing the last leg the following morning.

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Paula Helmet

I’ve decided to share a few more of my personal adventures here on my little corner of the world wide web.  I’m not sure how many of my virtual friends out there are into motorcycles but here’s hoping that a least a few of you are (if not no worries, there’s plenty of food posts, diy/craft and travel related posts to keep you occupied for a very long time).

I’ve been riding on the back of a motorcycle since I was a kid. My dad rode a Kawasaki something or another with what I lovingly referred to as a banana seat on the back. Despite my Mother’s pleas that it was death trap and I should remain with my feet firmly on the ground, I braided up and jumped on holding onto my Dad and smiled the whole time. Once you’ve had that feeling of the wind in your hair and what I can only describe as flying there’s really no turning back.

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Motorcycle Road Racing Series – VIR

MotoAmerica - photo credit Brian J. Nelson 1Photo Credit: Brian J Nelson

I like a lot things and one of those just happens to be motorcycles. I’ve been riding on the back of motorcycles since I was a kid. My Dad had a Kawasaki with what I can only describe as a banana seat that I thought was just the best since thing sliced bread. Everytime I had the chance I was on the back with my braids flying in the wind and a huge smile plastered on my face (you quickly learn to not smile if you don’t want to eat bugs – truth). My Mother sat in the fetal position and rocked every time we went out and to this day when I tell her I’m going on a bike trip I get the same comments. My response is “duly noted”.  I still have my braids flying in the wind but these days it’s on a Harley. This weekend my family and I are headed to VIR (Virginia International Raceway) to experience MotoAmerica. It’s our first superbike event and I think I’m probably more excited than my kids. These riders go round that track at speeds nearing 200 mph . Just wow.

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Carnival Sunshine: Western Caribbean

I have to tell you cruising is one of our favorite family vacations! This is our second year taking a cruise as a family and it won’t be our last. Why do we all love it? It might be easier to tell you what we don’t like (which is simply that it took a long time to drive to Florida.) There are five people in our family and our kids range from 8 – 17 (how did that happen gah) read they have VERY different ideas of fun. On a Carnival cruise there is literally something for EVERYONE in our family to do to keep us entertained as well as more choices to eat and drink than you can shake a stick at available at all times of the day or night. 24/7 people. I haven’t even talked about the views and the destinations – which are amazing.

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The Florida Keys: Key West

Ibis Bay Resort

Earlier this summer I took a little (and by little I mean seriously amazing so much so I really didn’t want to come home) trip to The Florida Keys. This is part TWO of that amazing trip. The first two days of the trip were spent bouncing around the idealistic ISLAMORADA . We packed up ours bags and headed further South to Key West for the final 2 days of our trip. Key West was as vibrant and delicious as I imagined it would be. Trying to compare these two places would be like trying to compare apples to oranges. I adored them both. Clearly I didn’t want to come home.

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The Florida Keys: Islamorada

Mile Marker 88Marker 88

Over the summer I was invited by the Keys Tourism Board to tour the beautiful and oh so sunny Florida Keys. I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. You can imagine that when the invitation arrived, it took me all of two seconds to say yes and thank you. Thank you very much. I had actually never visited the Florida Keys prior to this visit and I can honestly say that it was better and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I’m actually thinking that now would be a VERY good time to pack up and go for another visit. The people, the food, the restaurants, the hotels, the WATER, seriously I fell in love with the colors of ocean. So much so I bought a necklace off a gallery owner (true story) that reminded me of the water and my trip.

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Houston: This Ain’t My First Rodeo

This usually surprises most people that don’t know me well, I’m a HUGE professional bull riding fan. It’s the truth. Okay fan really doesn’t describe how into it I am. I’m slightly obsessed. There I said it. I watch it just about every time it’s broadcast on television and I do my best to get to at least one live event every year. If you haven’t you really should. Good times people. Really good times. Not kidding. Whenever I get a chance to see bull riding I’m in. Period.

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Getaway to Vallarta-Nayarit Mexico


Disclaimer: This blog post is brought to you by SocialMoms and Funjet Vacations blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

I don’t know about you but this time of year when the days are shorter, darker, colder and sweaters, scarves and boots are the norm vacation destinations are what I daydream and dream about. Since I am a beach girl through and through I gravitate towards vacation destinations like Mexico’s Vallarta-Nayarit.  With nearly 200 miles of coastline, authentic charm and a rich vibrant culture it’s no wonder Riviera Nayarit was named one of Frommers’ top destinations for 2014.  It’s a destination for pampering, stunning sunsets and incredible value that I can’t wait to experience firsthand with my family. There is literally something for every age to experience making it an optimal family friendly vacation destination that you can book for as little at $50 down!

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Get your Florence and Tuscany Italian Fix

You all know how much I LOVE Italy. Any time you mention the word I can not help but smile. I could talk about it (preferably in Italian) for hours on end. I spent my formative years living in Fruili. It’s my home away from home and where I feel incredibly connected. Once you’ve been to Italy you will understand. I try to return as much as possible, when I am away for too long I get twitchy. It’s best for all of us if I go at least once a year ; ) I think everyone should go at least once. You should get your ITALIAN FIX.  3 amazing women have put together a trip of a lifetime. 1 of which I have met in person, Leela who is an absolute peach and a very TALENTED photographer. Giulia, who I have not met in real life but I feel like I have known her for years. I was honored when she asked me to help look over the English version of her first cookbook (it’s awesome you should get it and her new one) and Bianca, my newest amica who I know I would get on with amazingly. Since she organized the trip I’m going to let her tell you all about it.

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Chocolate Covered February: Hershey, PA

Yes there is such a thing as Chocolate Covered February and Susan and I took it in this past weekend with our hubs, all to report back to you of course. We’re such givers, I know. Where is such an event you ask? It’s at the sweetest place on Earth, Hershey, PA of course. Best part is this is going on ALL month long so you can jump on this chocolate train too. There are events for the whole family or events perfect for just you and your sweetie. Either way you won’t be disappointed, there’s chocolate involved and lots of it.

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Beverly Hills Darling

Beverly Hills dah-ling. Pinch me, I finally went there and I have to tell you it was as mah-vah-lous as I imagined (maybe even more so). Sus & I decided to tack a few days onto a work trip for a little vacay. We were hosted by the oh so fabulous Beverly Wilshire. Yes that one where Pretty Woman was filmed. We were greeted by Carrie our hostess who gave us a warm welcome and tour. If you love the movie like I do you’ll be happy to know that they have the movie running 24/7 in the spa. Who wouldn’t want a mani/pedi while sipping on a glass of champagne while watching Pretty Woman? I mean seriously.

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Mixing it Up at Mixed Y’all: Pembroke, VA

It’s been a little over a week since I’ve worked the hardest I have ever worked in my life. My LIFE. Earlier this year my crazy bff Susan & I decided that hosting our OWN food conference would be a good idea. How hard could it be right? *sideeye* We had put together numerous well regarded sponsor parties after all. We worked for months on end putting together every single detail. We planned, planned and planned some more. Spent umpteen hours on the phone as well as emailing everyone and their brothers. Finally on Friday November 30th, 100 attendees converged on a mountain top in Virginia to be entertained and learn at OUR conference MIXED. We were thrilled, shocked and humbled and pretty much felt like we birthed another child.

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Packing it in + Lo & Sons OG Bag

(Photo Credit Lo & Sons)

I travel – a lot. Honestly, I tend to pack a lot more than I really need. What can I say? I like to be prepared. Ask Susan. She constantly makes fun of me when we travel. She shows up with the smallest bag and has twice as much as I do in my 21″ pilot carry on. I am always amazed at her mad packing skills. So when I had the opportunity to review this gorgeous Lo & Sons O.G. (Overnight & Gym Bag) Women’s Lightweight Travel Bag I jumped at the chance to see if I could take everything I needed in one small overnight bag. I took a trip to Chicago this week. 3 days, 2 nights. I packed EVERYTHING I needed into my Lo & Sons O.G. Army Green Bag. Seriously.

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Going Bananas with DOLE at Disneyland

You do like bananas don’t you? I certainly do. It’s pretty much one of the most perfect portable snacks you can find. I’ve been eating them since before I can remember. Literally. They pretty much fueled my way through my sports years as well. Yep, you might be surprised to know that I played basketball and volleyball. #25 baby. I loved playing sports. What I didn’t love,  the energy drain and cramps during games. To work around that I would eat a banana at halftime and was good to go before long. Bananas are definitely nature’s original energy bar.

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CA Raisin Harvest Tour: Fresno, CA

A few weeks ago I headed to the left coast to visit loverly Fresno. I was greeted at the airport by a celebrity. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. He’s pretty famous. THE California Raisin! As I was walking up I could hear I heard it through the grapevine playing in my head. I have to admit I was a little star struck. He was definitely my most favorite airport greeting. Hands down. I bet you’re wondering why I was in Fresno and why the CA Raisin was greeting me? Because I’m a rock star of course (okay maybe only in my head) Really, I am one of several CA Raising Blogger Ambassadors and I’m tickled purple about it.

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