I promised you more details about our beach vacation to Hutchinson Island, so here goes!
Hutchinson Island is nestled between Jensen Beach and Fort Pierce, on the East coast of Florida. It's a barrier island and is separated into North Hutchinson Island and South Hutchinson Island. You can check out their visitor information website here.
Where We Stayed
We have been to North Hutchinson Island in the past, staying at a friend's family condo on the beach, but this was the first time we had rented somewhere ourselves. My parents have a timeshare, and we stayed at the Vistana Beach Club. It's a smaller resort with just about 70 rooms. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were not operating at full capacity, which made us feel safer. The rooms are two-bedroom/2 bath units with a full kitchen and laundry. There is a master with a king size bed, a jacuzzi tub, and a shower and toilet, and the second bedroom has two twin beds and a bathroom with a shower.
As soon as we arrived, we wiped down/sprayed Lysol all over the room, but it was pretty clean! They have a smaller pool area, and we only went to the pool once. The day we went to the pool, we went down early, and people were good about maintaining proper distance from one another. Once it started getting a little busier, we left. We didn't even attempt a visit to the fitness center, and I never once stepped foot in the main lobby. The smaller lobby in our building (which was basically where the elevator is and they had a small little shop which was closed) was thoroughly cleaned every morning, and whenever we walked through there in the morning, it smelled like heavy cleaning agents (this would normally be a turnoff for me, but not now!). Staff was always wearing masks, and we had no housekeeping for the duration of our stay. There were people on the beach, but it was easy enough to keep our distance from everyone, even on the holiday weekend.
We stayed in the second building, which is set back a little from the beach, but we still had a great ocean view from our room. The walk to the beach isn't bad at all and there's a direct path out there from the resort. There are chairs and umbrellas available for rent, but we took our own since we were staying for a full week. We cooked our own meals for the most part (we ordered in once and we picked up fast food another day while we were out), but having the kitchen was definitely a huge help.
We basically went from the room to the beach and back, but we did venture out one day to catch a break from the sun and take a drive. We ended up heading to this spot in Jensen Beach that my dad remembered going to a while back. It was this little spot off the road that was called Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge. It's a historical site commissioned for the U.S. Life Saving Service dating back to 1875, and it is the only one remaining of nine on Florida's east coast. Keepers provided shelter, food, clothing, and transportation to survivors of shipwrecks and storms at sea, and during both World Wars it was used by the U.S. Coast Guard. It wasn't open when we visited, but behind it is a beach, called Ross Witham Beach, full of rock formations. We climbed in and took some cool photos.
There is a Publix nearby, and there are several restaurants that deliver via UberEats.
We didn't do anything else that was special but I did have a few recommendations sent to me, so I'll share them below! (Thanks to my friend Beatriz for those!).
Hutchinson Island Recommendations
I've shared my packing lists on various occasions, but I have some travel tips that just don't fit in with a packing list. Some of these tips are better for longer trips and some apply across the board.
Pack a hamper!
After years of being frustrated with the dirty clothes piling up on the floor or hanging out of an open suitcase, I found a solution. We have a pop up hamper that takes up no space in our luggage. As soon as we arrive at our destination, I pull it out and in goes the dirty clothes. If we have a washer/dryer where we are staying, I try to get most of the laundry done before we leave. If we don't, and we are driving home, the whole hamper just goes into the trunk of the car filled with the dirty clothes and that way it goes straight to the laundry room when we get home. If we are flying, one suitcase is designated for the dirty clothes, and that suitcase goes straight to the laundry room as well. It makes unpacking SO much easier when you don't have to sort through your laundry.
Pack in Zones
I use Shop Blop’s cubes to pack toiletries, and anything that goes in a bathroom goes in those comunes or alongside them. When we take beach trips, all the things we take down to the beach get packed together inside the beach bag. Kitchen/cooking related items all go together too. For clothing, items are grouped by type - like PJs, swimsuits, shorts, etc. This makes it easier to find things when I’m looking for them and it functions just like it does at home.
Keep Things Ready to Go
Things like toiletries, hairbrushes, over the counter meds, and chargers are always packed in a closet and ready to go. When we return from a trip, I replenish anything that needs to be refilled/replaced, and it’s ready to go for the next trip. It saves me time and stress while I’m packing.
Use Those Trial Sizes!
Instead of lugging around full size products or refilling travel containers, stock up on trial sizes of products you love. I get one or two things every time I go to Sephora, and I use my points t the register for their trial size rewards. They’re perfect for shorter trips and I still get to use the great products I love!
Dump Whatever You Can at the End
Those trial sizes are perfect for tossing at the end of a trip. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than coming home with less than we left with, honestly. I make sure to squeeze out every last drop and then toss it in the garbage once it’s done. This goes for toiletries, medicine, and anything that is consumable.
There you go! Those are top 5 packing tips. What would you add to the list?
For some of my favorite travel products, check out my Amazon storefront here.
We are spending this week on a beach in Florida. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and Florida's numbers have been rising steadily over the past few weeks. In the days leading up to our trip, I kept wondering how safe it would be, whether we would be forced to cancel last minute, and God forbid, what we would do if one of us ended up sick. Because we were headed to the beach just a few hours' drive from us and were heading to place where we could essentially do the same thing we have been doing at home, just with a different view, we felt comfortable going ahead with the trip.
As the days came nearer to our trip, we realized we were going to be able to go after all, and my anxiety started creeping in. I packed all of our cleaning products, and I made sure I had extra things that I may not always bring with us on vacation, like a thermometer and a pulse oximeter.
We arrived at the hotel on July 4th in the early afternoon, and it looked like the place was slammed. There was no parking to be found, and there was a steady stream of people checking in. All the staff was wearing masks, but it made me so nervous to see people gathered by the pool and even on the beach that first day.
After checking in, my mom and I disinfected our room extra, spraying Lysol and Clorox bathroom cleaner everywhere we could. The kids still managed to touch everything and drag themselves all over the floors.
I somehow forgot to take my allergy medicine on Saturday night, and I woke up Sunday morning feeling wheezy and congested. Of course, my mind raced and I started thinking of who I had come across while not wearing a mask (that number was one I was proud of). I started to feel like I was going to have a full blown panic attack. I took my allergy medicine, we headed out to the beach early that morning and I immediately felt better. We have been going straight from the room to the beach, people are being responsible and respecting one another's distance, and the hotel isn't operating at full capacity, either. We have been eating in the room, too, since we have a full sized kitchen.
I don't tell you this to scare you - I tell you this to make you understand that having feelings of anxiety and self doubt during a pandemic is completely normal. We are all adjusting to this weird new way of living (I refuse to call it a new normal because seeing people in masks everywhere is NOT what I would consider normal. Necessary, sure. Normal, no.). And while I know we need to be cautious, I also know that mental health is important, too - not just for us, but for the kids as well.
Everything was crowded because of the Fourth of July, but the rest of the week has been relatively quiet. There are people on the beach, but everyone is maintaining a great distance. As the days have gone on, I have felt better and more comfortable with the decision to come, and we've experienced a few moments of, dare I say, normalcy. It has been therapeutic to be able to sit on the balcony and watch the sun rise, or sit on the beach and watch the kids playing in the sand on the shoreline for hours.
So whatever you do, continue to take every precaution - wash your hands, wear your masks, limit unnecessary contact with people. And when you reach your destination, and are away from everyone, breathe in a deep breath of fresh air and enjoy the moment.
In the midst of a global pandemic, being outdoors is really one of the places where I feel safe. With plenty of sun and humidity, and a pretty natural affinity to stay away from other groups, the beach makes sense for us. Especially if we are able to keep our distance from others. For us, the beach is truly our happy place. I get to sit (sometimes) uninterrupted while the kids play in the sand, and then we all go splash around in the water together for a little bit, and then I get another break. The beach usually means an early bedtime, or at least solid sleep, and being outdoors just makes us all much happier humans.
We've managed to make it out to the beach a few times, including once when I went without hubby, and we are currently staying on the beach for a week (more on that next week). My beach bag looks pretty much the same from year to year, with the exception of a few updated products.
Because the kids are getting older, it's starting to get much easier to pack for things like a day at the beach. Chloe being potty trained makes a huge difference for sure! Either way, here are my beach bag must-haves in 2020. I didn't include things like beach chairs, umbrellas, or towels, because those are pretty much a given for us. We have these really great beach chairs that you can wear as a backpack, they lie flat, and they have two zippered compartments on the back of the chair - one insulated, one not.
There you have it, our beach basics! What would you add to this list?
About six years ago, when I was pregnant with Caleb, my neighbor invited me to an essential oils class. I went, and I was intrigued, and I thought everything smelled incredible. But I wasn’t buying it, literally and figuratively.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy, and at 36 weeks pregnant, I developed a cough. When I went to the ob-gyn they told me to treat it basically the same way I’d treat a baby with a cough - steam bath, humidifier, liquids, and rest. The coughing fits were so bad that I was changing my underwear four and five times a day, and every time I coughed, I swore Caleb’s foot was coming out of my nether regions. After a couple of days of this, I asked my neighbor, “Hey, did you buy any oils that might help with this cough?” And she told me she sure had, and let me borrow the bottle. I was worried about applying it topically, so as soon as I walked home, I put it on my wrist and took a couple of deep breaths, and I felt relief for the first time in days. I ordered a bottle right then and there, along with two other blends, and I have been hooked since.
While the oil blend didn’t cure me completely - I had already developed bronchitis and ended up on antibiotics - it really did help with the symptoms and helped open up my airways until the medicine took full effect. Ever since then, I have been consistently using oils in my home. I use them more for preventative measures and to help with symptoms of whatever we are suffering from, but I use them in tandem with modern medicine.
There are three ways that essential oils can be used: Topically, aromatically, or internally. I tend to use them topically and aromatically more than anything, but I have also used some internally as well. *I use DoTerra, so I’ll be talking specifically about their oils since that is what I know.
Oils, when used topically, can be very effective at penetrating the skin and getting into muscles or helping to alleviate certain ailments. I’ve already talked about one way I used essential oils aromatically. DoTerra has a blend called Breathe, which is a respiratory blend. It contains Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Cardamom, Melaleuca, and several other oils that helps to create feeling of clear, easy breathing. I apply this, diluted with a carrier oil (DoTerra actually sells rollerballs that already come diluted for topical application for adults and for kids), to my chest and to my back and it really does help me breathe more easily. I’ve also used this on the kids when they are sick (diluted, of course).
Another of my favorite blends is OnGuard, which is a protective blend. It supports healthy immune function and contains cleansing properties. I use OnGuard when I clean (they make a cleaner with it, too), and I always feel like it really helps eliminate some of the nasty germs that can be persistent with little kids around. You can dilute this and roll along the base of the spine or on the soles of the feet to help boost kids’ immune systems and prevent them from getting sick. I've been doing this often during the pandemic.
I have also used Melaleuca, Lavender and Frankincense on my skin for different ailments, including acne. And their Digestive blend DigestZen has helped with nausea when applied topically.
Particularly on the kids, I’m always really careful and read up a lot before I use oils topically.
This is the most common way that we use the oils. I have been able to cut down significantly on my use of candles. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE candles and I will sometimes burn them when I have people coming over, but for daily use I have switched over to diffusing essential oils. DoTerra releases seasonal blends, so I usually pick up a bottle or two when they do this, and I love to find blends that are uplifting or calming. One of my favorite combinations to diffuse is Lemon & Lavender. A couple of drops of each and you're transported to Lavender fields. Another favorite for the morning is 2 drops each or lemon, orange, and either grapefruit or lime. It's such an energy-boosting blend and it helps you wake up.
When my kids were babies, I used to diffuse OnGuard. Especially when people were coming over. During the coronavirus pandemic, I have also been diffusing OnGuard frequently. If nothing else, it smells so good when it is diffused.
There are many people who ingest their oils. I don't do this often, but I have used OnGuard and Lemon to make a tea when I have been sick - the clove in OnGuard helps to numb your throat if you have a sore throat. I've also added Lemon or Grapefruit to water. DoTerra also has a blend called DigestZen, that is to aid in, you guessed it, digestive issues. I have used this internally when I've been backed up, and after surgery a few years ago, we gave this to a family member and it helped instantly to help them go.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of ways to use these oils, and it truly depends on what you want to get out of them. I always recommend OnGuard to everyone, and for anyone who suffers from respiratory issues, Breathe is another big favorite in our house. I always recommend starting with a blend that can help you with a specific issue, but there are so many individual oils and there are so many things that they can help with.
As always, run anything you use by your physician, and read up on safety when using them around kids or pets (and yes they work on pets, too, but pets can be particularly sensitive to certain oils).
If this post has piqued your interest and you would like to learn more about oils or even get a few for yourself, I have some awesome ladies to whom I can refer you. Shoot me a DM or leave your e-mail address in the comments of this blog post below and I will send you their information.
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