Shiver Me Timbers! It's Gasparilla, Yall!

You could hear the cannons firing from miles away. The pirates were coming and the invasion was upon us. It was that time again, Gasparilla, also known as "Tampa's Favorite Holiday." In my five years in Tampa, I've only missed one Gasparilla and that's because it was nasty cold and raining. Otherwise, I'm out there with the other crazy {often drunk} fools screaming for beads from parade floats like my life depended on it!

This Mardi Gras inspired event is held close to my heart because it's where Sean and I took our first picture together four years ago. It's neat as each year we're in a different stage of our relationship. Rewind to 2008. Sean and I had just met a couple days prior and obviously weren't dating yet. At Gasparilla, I had just so happend to run into him (okay that's a lie, I was stalking him from afar!) and snuck into party I was not allowed to be at to snap a picture with him. Before being escorted out, the picture was a success! 

Gasparilla 2008 - Just Met
 The next year, I was ON the guest list for that same party and didn't have to take to stalking, sneaking, or being bounced out! AND, Sean and I had been dating for almost a year. A WIN! WIN! situation!

Gasparilla 2009 - Dating
Sean and I skipped 2010's Gasparilla due to weather that would not cooperate (but added another year of dating) and we were back in 2011.

2011 Gasparilla - Engaged
 And here we are - present day! Now I know what you're thinking for next  year and let me just say, Gasparilla is NOT for babies!

2012 Garparilla - Married

This year's Gasparilla was pretty insane!

After the invasion, we (and our fabulous friends) found ourselves on board of a random boat. This thing was huge with multiple stories! When we grew bored of boating (just kidding!) we jumped back on land to stake our claim on the parade route.

Beads! Beads! And more beads!

Once the parade was over, we strolled through downtown Tampa and found ourselves in a 34th floor penthouse condo overlooking all of Tampa Bay. Saying the view was "beautiful" is very much an understatement! Apparently the owner was of Saudi royality but that all went out the window when I saw his super cute dog! This year was definitely one of THE best years yet!

Honeymoon in Paradise

Early the next morning after our wedding day we got up to head to the airport. We literally checked in to the downtown Atlanta Peachtree Westin at 2:00am and checked out at 6:30am!

Tired was an understatement, but we didn't care, we had a direct flight to St. Lucia! I made sure to wear my "Just Married" tank top for fun.

After a four and a half our flight, we had arrived and were taken to our beautiful resort. After laying eyes on what would be our home for the next seven days, we were sure we would never want to leave!

It was all so perfect and of course, it went by way too fast. Funny how you look forward to vacations for so long and then they are gone in a blink of an eye! The motto of St. Lucia: "No Pressure, No Problem" - EVERYONE says that!

While we were there, we dined on amazing endless food and drank fun endless drinks. Sean became obsessed with Devil's Shrimp, a wonton filled with grilled shrimp that was covered in a secret mouth watering sauce. I believe we went to that restaurant three times just for those things. Now, I didn't partake in the shrimp eating being I'm a vegetarian but that sauce went well with everything!

St. Lucia is famous for the Pitons, two distinct mountain peaks. We took a day excursion to see them and it just so happened to be foggy the time we took our picture, but they still came out.

Also on that day trip we went snorkeling in the bay off the beach where the Bachelor was filmed in the capitol of Soufriere. Snorkeling in open waters was a HUGE deal for me. I'm proud to say I did it even though something bit/stung my finger. I heroically call it a shark bite survival! Soon after we made landfall in another fishing town of Soufriere to continue our excursions.

Next up on the agenda was driving into a dormant volcano. This volcano is known for its incredibly hot sulfur springs. The mud from the springs is claimed to be amazing for the skin. I was a little nervous when our tour guides said to jump in, get muddy, and chill out in the spring. Me and dirt do not get along! Well well well, this little glamorous southern belle did the unthinkable and got down and dirty!

I now can attest to that mud being the best exfoliater and skin moisturizer!

Thankfully the waterfall was right around the corner and Lord have mercy, it was not incredibly hot but incredibly bone chilling cold! It made for a cute photo so I braved it and sucked it up!

We ate a very authentic Caribbean meal at our tour guide's residence cooked by his wife. It was amazing except I believe the chicken served was running around outside just hours before. (Yuck!) On the boat ride back, Sean and I enjoyed the awesome local beer, Piton!

Enough adventure for this gal for one day! Cocktails on the beach and a heavenly chocolate bar were definitely more my flair!

While there, we made sure to pay a visit to the spa to get a much needed couples' massage. Definitely a strong recommendation after months of wedding planning!

Sean and I had a pigeon that lived on our balcony, so naturally we named him No Problem!

Another recommendation would be to hire a professional photographer. (And be expected to pay the professional price!) We were a bit sticker shocked at first but we're glad we did it!

That night, Sean surprised me with a private dinner on the beach with our own butler. It was so romantic and sweet!

On one of the days we lost track of, we went hiking up another mountain to see an old French battle fort. The views were spectacular!

We could vaguely see the island of Martinique from the top!

That night we went to a street party outside of our resort - more great food and more great drinks! These people have the life, always partying!

Of course during our stay I shopped too way too much, but hey, how many times are you in St. Lucia?

All in all, the honeymoon was beyond amazing! Spending time with my new husband without talking about wedding plans was definitely nice! Although it didn't take me long to start thinking about vow renewals - ha!

You can marry the girl and take her away from the wedding but you can't take the wedding away from the girl! On to vow renewal planning!


Sit tight, yall! My blog is transitioning to my newly purchased domain (yep, I'm official!) Within a few days will be fully functioning.

What the Phillips Have Been Up To!

We've been married for three months now. Three months! I cannot believe it! I feel like it's all been a blur from the moment we arrived in Georgia to get married to right now! My life literally turned upside down when we stepped off the plane from our St. Lucia Honeymoon. Here's a glimpse of what has gone on -

Said "I Do" ... Spent an amazing week in St. Lucia ... Came back and MOVED in together ... My birthday ... Stride for Strays Fundraiser ... Halloween ... Thanksgiving ... Christmas ... New Year's

The huge change was moving in together. We both lived at home and had no "grown up" items to contribute to a house. We signed our lease papers three days before we left for the wedding and came back from the honeymoon to an apartment full of packed boxes. We literally spent the first seven Saturdays of our newlywed life at Ikea. 

We failed to notice we only had one closest in the entire apartment during our walk though so storage solutions has been tough. The only closet we have is our bedroom one. No coat closet (well, it IS Florida!) and no outside storage closet. So, our loft has temporarly been turned into a box dumping ground. Just lovely! Don't even get me started on how tiny our kitchen is!

Alas, over the three months our apartment has turned into our home. We love it and so do our two sweet kitties, Chipper Jones and Salem-Binks.

In the middle of chaos, my 25th birthday sneaked its way in. 14 days after the wedding the celebration was still going strong! Of course, we took to my favorite restaurant, PF Chang's, and topped off the night with a Great Wall of Chocolate and great company.

We blinked again and it was time for Stride for Strays. This fundraiser is one I participate in every year organized by the Animal Coaltion of Tampa. This amazing organization's mission is to provide low cost pet care. This year we raised over $60,000! Animals have my heart and I've have been known to be involved in some crazy rescues (i.e., rescuing three dogs (full grown German Shepherd and Bull Mastif mix as well as a Pit Bull puppy) off the side of I75! in southern Georgia!)

Then a few days later it was Halloween and time for pumpkin carving and cute kitties!

Thanksgiving flew by in an instant (where I successful made my first pumpkin pie from scratch!) and shopped all day on Black Friday. Then, Christmas caught up to us! Our home was livable and presentable by then so I was super excited to decorate!

Our first Christmas together was lovely! Santa brought me the KitchenAid Stand Mixer I've been drooling over since we entered the married world and Sean finally got caught up on having his own Wii and PS3 gaming systems.

We rang in 2012 in style with our amazing friends and geared up for the upcoming year. I'm embarking on my dream of being a wedding planner by obtaining certification in event planning starting in February. A business plan is in the works for my future career and properties will be looked at in the coming months to house the dream career.

I'm still working on getting all the wedding details and honeymoon pictures posted; little by little they are getting there! Check out the last few posts if you missed them!