Setting Up for Summer… Our New Outdoor Furniture with LexMod

Our back”yard” space has needed some affection for quite some time. Our garage is detached in the back of our home, and the space in between the main home and our garage isn’t all that big. In addition, our pool takes up a good deal of that space. So… being strategic with the furniture is crucial.

We decided on a different set-up than we had before, and opted for a larger dining table (the previous one only sat 4) as we are constantly entertaining and usually need more seats. I fell in LUV with this set from LexMod Furniture. I’m still waiting on some lounges as well, but I can tell you I’m so smitten with this set that I could scream it from the rooftops! I wanted light and neutral and weather-proof, and this set totally fits the bill. It’s already been rained on several times and the water just repels right off of it. It’s also easy to wipe clean and the seating is large and comfortable.

I added a striped rug, my favorite tree and these insanely affordable lanterns. (I’m telling you these are triple the price anywhere else!) Globe lights are a must IMO for any outdoor dining space! They create the perfect ambiance for an outdoor mealtime experience, and this lantern is the perfect touch for my modern farmhouse decor.

I hope you like what we’ve done with the space! As our lounges arrive, you may see we do some rearranging, so keep an eye here to see how the space evolves with the addition of those pieces. Cheers to summer living and time with the people we LUV the most! Let me know what you think in the comments! xxoo

Shop our outdoor space:

*I worked with LexMod on this post, and items were sponsored, but opinions are all my own and 100% true. Affiliate links are also included in this post, and I receive a small commission when you purchase any of the items I have suggested. Thanks for your support!

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A Boho-Inspired, Cactus & Succulents-Themed Bridal Shower

My brother-in-law is getting married! And I had the pleasure of throwing a bridal shower for his BEAUTIFUL future bride. True to my LUV of simple cacti and succulents, deciding on a theme for the shower was super simple. Here’s a peek at what it looked like and how you can create the same look…

I bought the this blank hanging sign in the Target Dollar Spot and wrote a welcome note on it with a gold Sharpie. Then I just hung it in front of the wreath on my door. Welcome in…

Recreate this tablescape:

I got the Love Never Fails sign and the faux oranges at Hobby Lobby. (I also added some real tangerines to the tables.)

My Mother-in-law is the cakeboss in our family and she made this gorgeous cake creation. We added faux succulents to the top and put the cake on a turquoise cakestand.

The bride’s sister made this adorable tray of donut “rings”. 🙂

I bought this large serving bowl and made an easy salad in it of mixed greens, strawberries, sliced almonds and dried cranberries. Super easy and looks pretty! 🙂

I’m all about easy, so I bought premade chicken salad from Costco and added them to croissants. Easy peasy… just like I like. I threw them on this pretty turquoise and silver platter. The “Mr.” & “Mrs.” toothpicks were purchased at Target as well.

Shop some of these decorations and serving pieces:

Shop my dining room and kitchen tables/chairs:

   We had everyone write their best wishes and/or advice to the bride & groom. We got these sheets in the seasonal department, but here are some adorable advice coasters you could use for this.

We served sangria & mimosas and used pretty buckets for the bottles.

The bride’s sister put together a cute candy station for favors. (I linked some candy bags you could use in the carousel above, in this post.)

She also put together these cute prizes for some of the games we played.

My favorite item the bride was gifted (it was not from me) was this adorable hat with our last name. Not sure if this is the same one, but click the hyperlink, if you’re interested… I know I want one for myself! 🙂

The afternoon was perfect, filled with lots of love and happiness, and came together perfectly with a little teamwork. I’m so excited to have another sister, and I hope she enjoyed the day as much as I did. 🙂

Feel free to Pin any of the images you see, if you’d like to plan a similar party in the future. Hope you enjoyed! xxoo

*Photo credit to Britt Ambrester of Nostalgic Heart Photography for some of the photos in this post.

**Some affiliate links were used in this blog post, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase some of the items I have listed. This is how I pay for my time, so I hope you’ll purchase through the links I have attached. As always, I wouldn’t link something if I didn’t LUV it myself. Thanks for your support!

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The Brand New, Family-Friendly Rustic, Modern Resort in Orlando We LUV Big Time

Being from Central Florida is kind of like being on a permanent vacation. Here in Tampa, we live only about a half hour from the beach and only about an hour and fifteen minutes from Orlando and all of the big theme parks. We also lived in Orlando prior to having children, so we’ve spent a lot of time at the local resorts. Having experienced so many of the Disney and Universal Orlando resorts, we’ve really had a chance to figure out what we like/don’t like, what’s best with kids and the best ways to accommodate your budget.

We recently had learned that Loews Hotels had just opened a brand new resort as one of their Universal Orlando properties. If you don’t know already know this, just like Disney has on-site resort hotels, so does Universal. And having spent some time in the hospitality industry in Orlando, I know very well that Loews properties have an exceptional standard of luxury, while still being affordable and very kid-friendly. I’d previously spent time at some of their other properties like Portofino Bay, the Hard Rock Hotel & the Royal Pacific Hotel, but had seen that Loews had recently opened 2 new resorts, including Cabana Bay Beach Resort and the one I had my eye on… Sapphire Falls Resort.

My daughter’s birthday was coming up, and she’s suggested a weekend in Orlando, in lieu of a birthday party. (Uhhh… yes, please!)  Let me think… a bunch of kids and a stinky bounce house, or cocktails by the pool and family time away… no brainer. And let’s get real, at the cost of birthday parties these days, we could have a little weekend away for almost the same price. Since my birthday is only a week after my daughter’s, we enlisted the company of our best friends (mine and my daughter’s happen to be in the same family) and we hopped online to pick our resort destination…

(*Let’s pause for a personal admission: So… I was torn with whether to bring my nice DSLR camera or not. I typically take my photos for the blog with my camera, but I really wanted you guys to get an organic look at the resort, as we were seeing it, and sometimes the camera can “spruce” things up a bit. When my friend and I started researching online which resort we wanted to stay at, we went straight to Google Image to find REAL pictures people had posted at the resort. You can find plenty of stock photos on the resort’s website, but since the resort is so new, I wanted you guys to get a real feel of our experience with quick photos I snapped throughout our trip. I hope these photos do just that for you, but feel free to check out the Sapphire Falls website to see a beautiful array of photos. This is a great video of the resort as well, as posted by the Orlando Sentinel.)

Sapphire Falls is a brand new Loews Hotel property that opened last July. From the moment you enter the hotel, it’s obvious how brand-spankin’ new the resort is because it even smells fresh and new! The sheets still feel extra crisp, and everything just feels exceptionally clean and shiny. (That’s obviously the clean freak in me talking.)

The check-in process was seamless, and our kids enjoyed the oversized lobby with fun seating and “beach balls” (as they called them) on the ceiling. I just admired the gorgeous mix of rustic and modern decor, the beautiful use of marble with reclaimed wood and midcentury modern furniture mixed with farmhouse style. I mean- whoever designed this space hit the nail on the head with the perfect blend of styles. I can DEFINITELY see why they said the decor of this resort would speak to me!


Near the elevators, there are these huge bay windows with a panoramic view of the pool. The kids could not WAIT to get down there and check out the scenery. We had dinner reservations our first night off-property, so we had a couple hours to chill and check out what the resort had to offer. So, we went down by the pool so my friend Val and I could have a margarita (duh!) and the kids could take down some ice cream and french fries (parenting at it’s finest).

There’s an area of tables and chairs by the pool (you can see behind the kids in the photo above), where you can order food and there are several things for the kids to do. So Val & I enjoyed a few moments without kids yelling “Mom”, which was FABULOUS. They were occupied, we could see them, and we actually felt like we were on vacation. (Winning.) There is an adorable firepit area with sand, so the kids built sandcastles, and then they’d splash around in the little splash area (the kids LOVED this), coming back intermittently for bites of french fries and ice cream the amazing staff brought by. Truth of the story… an amazing staff member named Christian heard the boys fighting with the girls over a broken sandcastle and noticed that us Moms were so enjoying our “break”. So he brought ice cream over to the kids (with our permission) making them promise they’d get along. They took the bait, and we enjoyed a few more moments of quiet before heading up to get ready for dinner.

Let me briefly talk about the insane room we stayed in… (Thank you Loews Hotels!) We arrived to a suite, which was INCREDIBLE having 5 kids with us. The decor was amazing! (Can I just say I’m OBSESSED with the lighting throughout this entire property?!) The beds were comfy, and we LOVED that we had a separate bathroom the kids could use, a living and dining space the kids could play in while we could relax and get ready in our own room, and the wet bar and fridge to stock our wine {cough}… I mean… food and juice boxes. 😉 The kids favorite part… we had a doorbell. Kids are easily entertained.

Our master bathroom had a barn door, which I know you’d all agree with me was just the cutest thing ever. Even cooler… the kids had a separate tub/shower than our large walk-in shower. I’m a little spoiled after our bathroom renovation, so I still LUV to have a really large shower when we’re away from home.

Plus,the view from our room of the river to City Walk was gorgeous!

Which brings me to my next point… You can actually take the riverboat to all of the Universal theme parks and the City Walk area. On the last day there, we actually took the boat to lunch before checking out, and it was so convenient! Not having to fight (or pay) for parking was an added perk, but the fact that the kids also enjoyed the ride was an added bonus.

When you’re ready to go back, you just look for the sign to Loews Sapphire Falls, and jump back on…

Day two brought a lot of fun! We hung by the pool and actually rented a cabana to decorate for my daughter’s birthday and have a place we could set up the pack and play for the baby. We had the space for the whole day, with our own waiter and chairs. I would say if you have a big group, it’s worth every penny, if your vacation budget allows it. When you (or your kids) need a break from the sun, you can lounge and watch TV (or in our husbands’ cases- sports). Whether or not you have a cabana, the pool is HUGE and has tons of seating all around! I highly recommend the Grapefruit margarita and the fish tacos. 🙂

Lastly, I HAVE to tell y’all about the amazing dinner experience we had on property. The resort has a few charming restaurants including The New Dutch Trading Company that is a grab-and-go type foodery that has the most AMAZING farmhouse decor. Can we talk about this black and white patterned tile?! Again.. the lighting!

There’s also Strong Water Tavern (which we didn’t get a chance to try), but again, the decor is fabulous and it looks like it would be a great place to check out sans-kids for a relaxing date night. Apparently they serve up vintage rums (by your own rum specialist) a ceviche bar and a patio overlooking the lagoon. Sounds amazing.

We had the pleasure of dining at the Amatista Cookhouse on property our last evening at the resort. Let me just say, I may not be a “foodie” per se, but I consider myself a connoisseur of restaurant decor and ambiance, and I can spot a winner when I see one. From the food, to the service (thank you to our server Michael for the friendly and wonderful service) to the ridiculously amazing decor (think your favorite beach restaurant meets Restoration Hardware), everything was top notch. I HIGHLY recommend the sofrito and my husband said I should make sure to mention the crab cakes. (I can’t speak for them though, because he didn’t share. I’m not kidding.)

We finished our night by the firepit I mentioned. The staff sold little s’mores kits, so the kids enjoyed making s’mores and playing in the sand, while us “grown-ups” enjoyed sitting around the fire over a glass of wine.

My only complaint I have about our trip, was that it had to end. I can assure you we will be back. Luckily, we’re close enough we can make this a recurring event. So the only question is… when shall we go back? 🙂

If you have any questions at all about the resort or my suggestions for things you should do while in Orlando, don’t hesitate to comment below! I’d also LUV to know what your favorite things to do in Orlando are, or where you might like us to explore next… We’re ready for another adventure! 🙂 Thanks for everything Loews Hotels! You have a friend in me. #LuvBecTravels

*Disclosure: This blog post was sponsored by Loews Hotels and Sapphire Falls Resort. That means that I made arrangements with the resort prior to our stay. I hope you trust that I would never let that get in the way of sharing my very own opinions and would never convey feelings that were not 100% my own. Thank you again for reading and hope you enjoy!

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My Spring/Summer Reading List…

While on vacation last week, I finally got the chance to read a book that was gifted to me several months ago, but I just hadn’t made the time to read. They say, “Timing is everything”, and I think this was no exception to that rule. I haven’t made the time to read a whole lot of anything lately, other than blogs. So, after enjoying this book so very much on my trip, I’ve decided I need to read the next book by the same author and possibly some others. So, I’ve compiled a list of books that I find appealing, all that can be purchased through Amazon, and I’m committing to watching a little less TV this spring/summer and a little more time to knocking out some of my reading list. In case you’re interested, I’ve linked some of the books I’m considering below…

(Link to the book you see in the photograph.)

(Link to the mattress you see in the photograph.)

(Link to the sweater you see in the photograph.)

*Disclaimer: Some of the product links on this site are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something from these links Luv, Bec receives a commission. I hope you trust that I would never let that get in the way of sharing my favorite products with you. Thank you again for reading and hope you enjoy!

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LUV is in the Air {Valentine’s Gift Guide for HER}

If your Valentine’s wish list hints have been a little too subtle OR you’re just stumped as to what to get that lucky lady in your life for LUV Day… there’s still a little bit of time left, and I’ve got you covered. Here are some of the items I have, LUV OR want for myself. With any of these, you’re sure to score major points this Valentine’s Day.

I’m currently obsessing over this jewelry designer and absolutely LUV’ing stackable rings. Jewelry is never a bad idea. Here are some of my favs rings that are sure to steal any gals heart…

And handbags… never a bad idea:

Other items I’m LUV’ing, including some items I’m currently swooning over for the home:

If you’re looking for your Valentine OR you want to treat yourself… hopefully you’ve found some inspiration. Happy LUV Day!

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Reliving Our Trip to The Oscars with World Market

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cost Plus World Market and contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Three years ago, we had the amazing experience of attending The Oscars. If you consider my bucket list… there’s nothing I’d have ranked higher… and it happened. To date, it was the most amazing night of my life, and one I know my husband and I will never forget. Each year since, I try to make viewing the event from home super special. Whether sitting and watching it with my husband, kids or girlfriends, I always make a big deal of cuddling up on our sofa with fancy cocktails and appetizers & hor d’oeuvres and reliving the night that is forever ingrained in my memory.

This year, I had the honor of working with Cost Plus World Market to create the perfect night at home. If you, too, enjoy watching The Oscars (or any of the award shows), I’m showing you the items I used to create the perfect setting… (And if any of y’all are interested in seeing some photos from our night at The Oscars, stay tuned to the bottom of this blog post. But don’t skip yet, because I’m giving you some good tips for your own Oscar viewing experience first!)

Did y’all know that World Market has food? I mean, you see me regularly link their items for the home, but this opportunity really gave me the chance to dive into the Food & Beverage section of their website and see all of the options they had to offer for Easy Entertaining. (Side bar, to any of my local Tampa/Clearwater friends… a little birdie told me there may be a World Market store coming locally to us! I cannot confirm this 100%. But if this rumor is true, I know I’ll definitely be doing some of my food and entertaining shopping here if/when this should happen. I am thoroughly impressed after trying out their food delivery services!)

So honest truth, I’m not much of a cook. I LUV good, healthy food. But I REALLY LUV good, healthy, EASY food. So World Market’s Gourmet Delivered foods make entertaining super easy, super tasty, and you’re sure to have a spread that looks pretty too! I ordered the Perfect Picnic Antipasti Selection, and let me tell you… it is DELICIOUS! The flavors are complex and rich, and the kit arrived to my door, refrigerated, within a couple days. I added some grapes to the spread, threw them on this gorgeous marble cutting board with copper handle (which matches my new kitchen table gorgeously) and this large, slate cheese board that comes with 3 pieces of stone chalk, making it perfect for labeling foods or writing something festive! I LUV that I can order this set (for no more than it would cost me to round these foods up at the grocery store) and it arrives to my door without ever leaving the house. I can throw it on the boards, and I have an instant party (would also be great for a picnic or date night OR VALENTINE’S DAY). Like I said… easy. Here’s a couple photos to give you an idea of how it arrived.

When it’s time for the show, I’ll plug in a set of frosted bulb string lights for that Hollywood kinda feel and we’ll dim the lights to make it extra cozy.

I usually set the food up right in front of the sofa, so we can be really lazy and don’t have to miss a second of the show. Or the red carpet… because let’s get real, that’s my favorite part.

Even if the kids don’t make it up late enough to watch the show with us, I really like to include them in the fun. I remember coming home from LA that year, bringing them their “Best Sister” & “Best Brother” Oscar trophies and telling them all about our amazing weekend. The kids still like to talk about how “Mommy and Daddy met the people in the TV”. This year, I let the kids pop their own popcorn with this retro popcorn popper. My daughter and her friend had a blast pouring the kernels into the machine and watching it pop. Even if they can’t be up for the show, I LUV taking out their trophies and reminiscing as we watch the preshow and hang out together.

I’m so excited for this year’s show, and hope you have found some bit of inspiration today to use in your own plans for this award season. Let me know how you celebrate The Oscars and what you’re most excited about this season… (I, personally, cannot wait to see what’s trending on the red carpet!)

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Oh… and as, promised… a few shots from our night at The Oscars… Forgive the poor quality of the photos. These were snapped on my older iphone before my blogging days. 😉

    

Thanks for stopping by and reliving this wonderful night with me! Can’t wait to see how you celebrate this year!

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Easy, Guilt-Free Mini Banana Muffins {You Can Make with Ingredients Usually in Your Home}

Yesterday, I posted on my Instagram stories my easy, guilt-free peanut butter, banana mini muffins, and got TONS of questions about them! So, I’m sharing the complete recipe with you here! Feel free to Pin it for easy reference, by clicking on the “Pin it” icon at the very bottom of the post. If you LUV it as much as we do, you’ll probably make these a staple in your home. The substance of these muffins is the bananas (You want really ripe bananas, so I usually make this recipe when I have overly ripe bananas laying around that haven’t been eaten.) and peanut butter. (You can probably make these with any nut butter of your preference, if you have allergies or want to go with a healthier option.) I also stated in my stories that there are several options for using your overly ripe bananas, so don’t throw them away! Peel them and freeze them for use in your smoothies or make 2-step banana pancakes.  Anywho… these muffins are delicious and perfect for snacking and satisfying your sweet tooth! They’re flour-free and oh so yummy!

As I said in my stories, if I have enough to, I always double or triple this recipe, because my family pops them like candy and we tend to go through them quickly. If you triple the recipe and use a mini muffin tray, you can stretch this recipe to make around 60 mini-muffins, give or take a little.

Recipe (again, you can double or triple this, but this is the single recipe):

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix…

1 banana

1/4 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

3 tbsp. honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

Mix all ingredients, and when the mixture is nice and smooth, add dairy, nut & soy-free mini chocolate chips. Mix again until they’re evenly distributed.

I spray my muffin tin(s) with coconut oil spray so they don’t stick and then scoop the mixture into the muffin cavity about 3/4 full.

(I try to use organic options whenever possible.)

Bake for 7-9 minutes, depending on your oven.

And voila…

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Make these before a playdate, get-together or just to have for the week so you can snack on them or give them to your family for breakfast. You can also alter the recipe by skipping the chocolate chips and adding blueberries if you use a regular-sized muffin tray. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy and LUV them as much as we do!

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How I’m Getting Organized in the New Year and Why I Don’t Like to Use My Phone for My Calendar

My organization struggles usually do not lie in the organization of my home, but more the organization of my brain. Does anyone else know what I’m talking about? I blame it on “pregnancy brain” that never really went away, though my husband said it existed long before children. (How dare he?!) Anyone who knows me knows I’m notoriously forgetful and have done the occasional double-booking of events. (I don’t know what they’re talking about. I think it’s a conspiracy.) But nonetheless, I’m going to take a step this year to try to work on this personal challenge, and it’s starting with my new Simplified Planner.

 

First of all, I don’t do virtual calendars (any of my brands that collaborate with me, just close your ears/eyes now). I know this confession sets me back to the last decade, but it’s true. I’ve tried. It’s just not me. I like to write my events/tasks/lists in a tangible form that I can open and see without having to click through. As a blogger, I stare at my phone too often through the day. It’s my communication source for business and personal use, and I can operate almost every aspect of my life through this little device. When I put my kids to bed and make their lunches and try to regroup for the following day, I just don’t want to open my phone back up and stare at it some more. I like to grab my planner, open it and make my plan for the following day(s). It’s just my personal preference, and I happen to know I’m not the only one. Not even in 2017. So, stop judging.

So I bought myself a fancy new planner. (I even had it monogrammed, because monogramming makes EVERYTHING better.) I’m spending these first couple weeks plugging in any important info, and I plan to use this to help me with my business AND personal calendar, and it’s even great for goal setting.

There are sections for weekly prep, including reminders to plan your meals ahead, organize your tasks for the week and inspiration for personal time. There’s enough daily space to write out as much as you need AND monthly calendars, if you’re like me, and you like to look at your whole month in a glance. AND… there are tons of additional products to help you with specific areas you want to tidy and organize. Here are some of my favorites…

Because I LUV words of affirmation wherever visible, I also really LUV her gold foil-pressed prints for framing on your wall. Hang over your desk or in a high-traffic location for daily reminders of what’s important to you.

Check out her entire website to see all of the amazing items Emily Ley has to offer. Emily happens to live locally to me, and she’s really a great person. She started this company from her home office and inspires women everywhere to not only follow their dreams, but to remember what’s really important in life. I’m excited to implement my planner in my daily routine, and I’ll try to check in with you occasionally on my Instagram stories with how my planner has been helping me with my organizational goals in the new year.

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Last-Minute Gifts that Can Arrive Before Christmas with Amazon Prime

Are you “one of those” who still hasn’t gotten your Christmas shopping done? 😉 Don’t worry- I’d guess the majority of us still have some sort of shopping and/or wrapping to get done. (I haven’t wrapped one present yet, so I’m “one of those”, too!) Don’t want to leave your couch? I’ve got you covered. Here are some creative gift ideas (that I know I would LUV to receive) that you can order from the comfort of your home (or office) and have arrive before Christmas with Amazon Prime. Because let’s be honest… we all have a “Priming” problem. Happy Shopping and Merry {almost} Christmas!

Click on the links below to take you straight to the products…

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Our 2016 Family Photos with Lydia L Photography

Every year, we get all spruced up and take our holiday photos. My husband and kids are not huge fans of having family photos taken, but they put on a happy face and aren’t allowed to complain ONCE since they know I only ask them to do “official” family photos once a year! (Though as my blogging career expands, that’s changing a little. Sorry guys!) Lydia of Lydia L Photography found me through Instagram and reached out about a collaboration, and I was immediately excited when I saw her work. I LUV that her photo style is both classic and whimsical and was excited to work with her this year.

But when I actually got to the shoot and saw her in action… Well, I knew this was going to be a good relationship. 🙂 Even my husband commented about how great she was at posing us and getting our children to participate! She was completely professional, and she was extremely knowledgable at working with lighting and posing all of us in ways that she knew would look both organic and endearing. Of all of the photos that she sent, here are the ones I selected as my favorites… You’re getting a sneak peak before I’ve even sent out my Christmas cards (which NEVER happens), so I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think!

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As my kids get bigger (at a pace that makes my stomach hurt), it’s so extremely important to me that I document these years. I LUV having photos taken around the same time each year so I can truly see how much they’ve changed from the photos the year before. It’s amazing to me how much bigger they seem with each passing year, and I know I’ll cherish these photos all the days of my life.

LUV what you see? Here’s some even more exciting news… Lydia will be giving away a FREE MINI SESSION to one of my lucky followers in the Tampa Bay/Sarasota/Bradenton/St. Petersburg, Florida area. Stay tuned to my Instagram and to Lydia’s Instagram in the coming days for details to enter SOON!

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