Five Best Things About Growing Up in a Small Town


DeLand’s main street, Woodland Boulevard, in the 1960s

Well I was born in a small town / And I live in a small town / Probably die in a small town / Oh, those small communities. 

Educated in a small town / Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town / Used to daydream in that small town / Another boring romantic that’s me. 

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from / I cannot forget the people who love me / Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town / And people let me be just what I want to be. 

– John Mellencamp, Small Town (1985) 

I can relate.

I was born in the small Florida town of Eustis before my family moved to the even smaller town of Palm Coast before finally relocating us to the small town of DeLand, which I consider home.

Wedged between Daytona Beach and Orlando, DeLand is the county seat of Volusia County. As of the 2010 census, DeLand had a population of 27,031. It was the filming location of the 1999 Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy. Notable DeLand natives include baseball player, Chipper Jones, and singer-songwriter, Terence Trent D’Arby (Wish me, love, a wishing well…).

Founded in 1876, the city, formerly known as the settlement of “Persimmon Hollow,” was named by its founder, Henry A. DeLand, a wealthy businessman from New York who made his fortune in the baking soda industry. A savvy businessman, DeLand believed the area had strong agricultural potential and he wanted to embark on a citrus operation with the new town as the center of activity. Henry DeLand also had a large role in starting Stetson University, which is also located in DeLand.

Early Florida map that includes DeLand, taken from the Florida State Archives.

When I was growing up, DeLand had only one public high school.  Accordingly, everyone who was in the same age group pretty much knew everybody else. There were a little over 400 people who graduated with my class and after graduation, the majority of my classmates either enrolled in the local community college, joined the military, or immediately entered the work force.

DeLand also didn’t have any shopping malls. If you needed a new outfit, you had to convince your mother (or a friend who had a car) to drive you to either Daytona Beach or Sanford. Otherwise, you were committed to shopping at a strip mall that had a TJ Maxx and Bealls (or an Outlooks if you had a little extra cash to spend.)

Keep in mind, these were the days before online shopping.

It didn’t matter because most of us didn’t have “fancy” clothes anyway. For instance, until I went to college, I never heard of Lilly Pulitzer (“you mean people actually pay $150 for a cotton dress?!”) and thought Louis Vuitton was pronounced “Lewis.”

High school parties usually happened in the woods, and the only way you could get to the party is if you were friends with someone who had a truck with four-wheel-drive. There was plenty of camouflage, cowboy boots, and Wrangler jeans.

The Athens Theatre, built in 1921.

I loved growing up in that little town. And while I’m sure kids who grew up in the big towns enjoyed the perks those towns had to offer, I didn’t know any different, but I wouldn’t have had it another way.

The best things about growing up in a small town:

Your Hometown Friends Will Always be your Ride or Dies. It doesn’t matter if you go months without talking to each other (life is busy, yo!), your hometown pals will always and forever be your best. freaking. friends. They remember when you got grounded for wrecking the car. They know what you looked like with prepubescent acne and braces. They talked you out of buying that ugly prom dress from Wet Seal. They cried with you when your tenth-grade crush was spotted at the movies with another girl.

The Top Five Perks about Growing up in a Small Town | The Champagne Supernova

Me and a longtime friend, Brandie, in 1996.

You’re Never a Stranger. Walking around in your hometown is like an episode of Cheers. Everyone knows your name. You can’t even pump gas without running into your middle school P.E. coach, church minister, and hairdresser. Unlike larger cities where everyone is a number, when you grow up in a small town, everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.

You Enjoy Small Town Traditions. Restaurants and stores were usually empty on Friday nights because everyone was at the high school football game. Local schools were closed the day before the homecoming football game because there was a huge parade. Neighbors and other citizens woke up early to claim their spaces along the parade route with lawn chairs. There were contests for which classes and clubs made the best parade floats. The prize was bragging rights until the following year. It was like Friday Night Lights minus the drama.

You Recognize and Value Authenticity. There was little pretense in my small town. Mostly everyone was on the same middle-class level and nobody (from what I recall) was overly concerned about things like social climbing and money. Being from that background and having parents who instilled those things, you seek out and recognize them in other people. You have the ability to smell another person’s B.S. from a mile away.

Life is Simple in a Small Town. As there aren’t many options of what to do on evenings and on the weekends, you’re left to your own creative devices. Big decisions centered around whether you wanted to buy chips and candy from the Handy Way or the 7-11. Not having to be on “choice overload” is nice.

When I was growing up, my friends and I jokingly referred to DeLand as “DeadLand.” We felt there wasn’t enough opportunity in the small town and couldn’t wait until graduation so we could “get out of dodge” and start anew somewhere else.

My parents moved away from DeLand when I was in law school and going home didn’t feel like “home” anymore once there was no longer an actual home to return to.

Sure, I was always welcome to stay at my friends’ parents’ houses, but it wasn’t the same. I’ve driven past my childhood home several times and, even though the renters are trying to take care of it, it doesn’t look “the same” without my Dad’s car in the driveway or my Mom’s flower pots outside.

The saying about not knowing what you have until it’s gone is true.


    Happiness: problems vs. PROBLEMS

    How to cope with your problems | The Champagne Supernova

    We all have difficult days and need to be reminded that what we consider problems are not problems.

    At all.

    Or even close.

    My husband was out of town traveling for work (and leisure) for the last week and I’ve been on my own with my two young daughters, ages 2 and 4. Sure they are (overall) good and sure I’ve transitioned from full-time to part-time employment, but dealing with getting lunch made, everyone dressed and out of the house in the morning, driving the kids to school and myself to work, doing pickup and attending extracurricular activities, then returning home and making dinner and getting everyone bathed and in the sack are exhausting.

    Not to mention that on the mornings I have to wash and blow-dry my hair, it’s like the world has been turned upside down.

    (Curly haired people, you know what I’m talking about!)

    Pepper all of this with occasional tantrums, backtalk, and refusal to put on their socks and allow you to brush their hair in the mornings. Now add dealing with demanding clients at work, getting stuck at lengthy stop lights when you’re in a hurry, and a rude toll booth lady (this happened to me two weeks ago at the Tampa Airport, but that’s a blog post for another day.)

    It can be worse. Way worse.

    You or your spouse got laid off at work and you can’t pay the mortgage. Your parents got divorced or you’re going through one yourself. Your child consistently gets bad reports at school and was recommended to undergo behavioral therapy. A loved one is dabbling with illegal drugs. Your cousin was caught plagiarizing and might be kicked out of school.

    You likely know people who are going through these things.

    It can still be worse.

    Much worse.

    In my career as an attorney, I’ve seen incomprehensible tragedy.

    Children who have been sexually abused by their own parents.

    Young kids who accidentally drowned in the family swimming school while their parents were upstairs napping.

    People whose lives were cut short in car accidents by other drivers who simply weren’t paying attention to the road.

    I’ve had to review thousands of photographs of murder scenes, motor vehicle accidents, and autopsy reports. While doing so, I’ve thought about the people in those photographs and about how they had lives with dreams, goals, and other people who loved them.

    Those are real problems. Not the “problems” you have. Those aren’t real problems. 

    Because here’s the thing to remember when you’re feeling frustrated.

    There are problems and then there are PROBLEMS. 

    It all comes down to perspective.

    God is amazing at giving reality checks.

    I was recently stressed about something meaningless and stupid. Sure, to me it was a problem, but it really wasn’t a PROBLEM.

    That same day, I met a man who was suffering late stage colon cancer. Having been through chemotherapy and radiation several years before, he thoughtfully decided to let the disease make its natural progression after it returned from being in remission. The man told me he had no purpose to live because, twenty years ago, his daughter was murdered by her husband in a domestic violence dispute, and he felt he had no reason to fight for his life.

    As he told me his story, I sat in my chair and wondered if I would have the mental capacity to survive something so horrific. If and how I could continue if someone I loved so deeply was taken away from me. How I would cope if I had a terminal illness. How my current “problems” will pass, but how this guy deals with ongoing torment.

    Those are real problems.

    I was going through problems and this man had PROBLEMS. 

    So did the people I described in my cases above. 

    Sure, our lives aren’t perfect and sometimes it’s difficult getting through the tribulations of everyday life.

    It’s easy to get stressed out about deadlines at the office, but at least you have a job.

    Sure, you can get upset when your child gets a bad report card, but at least your child is healthy.

    It’s annoying when your spouse doesn’t clean up after himself, but at least you have an overall good sense of partnership.

    Waiting in the carpool line is monotonous, but at least you have a car and your kids are able to attend school.

    One or both of your parents is still alive. You have friends and people in your life who love and support you. You have the cognitive ability to read books, watch movies, and carry a conversation. You don’t need help performing standard activities of daily living. You live in a country that isn’t torn by war and aren’t afraid to go to sleep each night. You have food and clean water.

    You’ve got it pretty dang good. 

    This is not to say that I don’t have bad days and that I don’t get frustrated.

    I’m not Polyanna, I promise.

    But when the hard times are happening and I’m in the middle of a super stressful moment that I know will eventually pass, I try my hardest to remember that my problems aren’t PROBLEMS.

    And that makes me grateful for my problems. 

    But if you’re reading this and you do have PROBLEMS, then drop me a note. I will pray for you (promise!) and I hope you have people who can support you and see you through them.


      Sprouts Farmers Market: Open for Business in Tampa

      Sprouts Farmers Market open in Tampa Bay | The Champagne Supernova

      Holy Cow! Me and Ole Bessie from Dakin Dairy Farms, a featured dairy product available at Sprouts Farmers Market.

      Sprouts Farmers Market proudly sponsored this post. 

      I gotta tell you.

      I routinely work for large and small brands promoting their products in exchange for compensation.

      Hey, the blog ain’t gonna pay for itself. Either will my ombre.

      Sure, I would never push a product or service that I didn’t legitimately like.

      Then, I was introduced to Sprouts Farmers Market and fell in love.

      Never heard of them until two months ago when someone from their public relations team asked me to use my mom blogger skillz to help generate enthusiasm about them coming to Tampa and, specifically, their grand opening in Carrollwood.

      (The Carrollwood Store enjoyed it’s grand opening today, February 22, 2017, and a location will open in South Tampa in May of 2017.)

      I researched the company, felt their mission to make healthy, organic foods more affordable for families using local farmers and businesses, was in line with my own values and agreed. But I had never been to a Sprouts Farmers Market until yesterday when I attended a sneak peek for bloggers.

      And I fell in love.

      In case you missed my other posts, Sprouts Farmers Market is an organic niche grocery store chain that is based in Phoenix. It opened it’s very first Florida store in Carrollwood located at 15110 N. Dale Mabry Highway.

      When I arrived, the store was immaculate and each department was easy to find, so I didn’t have to try to figure out where to go. (The interior is around half the size of a Publix or Sweetbay).

      I took a tour and learned that Sprouts’ fresh produce department made up a quarter of Sprouts‘ total business, with the store carrying nearly 200 organic varieties. Best of all, the prices are roughly 25% less than conventional grocery stores because of the strong relationship Sprouts has with local farmers. For instance, I noticed customers can grab a carton of strawberries for $1 each and a pound of ground beef for $1.99 this week.

      Pretty incredible.

      My favorite area of the store was the cosmetics, wellness, and vitamin department. Most of the products were cruelty-free, vegan, and did not contain toxins like sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, and artificial fragrances. (I’m all into safer skincare.) Even Sprouts’ brand products smelled delicious and were reasonably priced.

      Sprouts open for business in Florida | The Champagne Supernova

      Collection of soaps and other natural beauty products in Sprouts’ cosmetics department

      I purchased Sprouts’ brand shampoo for the girls’ and enjoyed bath time tonight when they got to use it for the first time. Smelled amazing.

      Other features that I love about Sprouts is the fresh juice bar, the delicious salad bar (that even contains pre-made wedge salads, certainly unique), and the enormous selection of craft beer, many of it coming from breweries local to Tampa Bay.

      Sprouts Farmers Market is now in Florida | The Champagne Supernova

      Ready-to-go wedge salad in Sprouts’ fresh salad bar.

      Sprouts Farmers Market makes fresh juices that are healthy | The Champagne Supernova

      Collection of fresh juices made fresh daily.

      Sprouts Farmers Market has a large collection of local beers | The Champagne Supernova

      I’ll take all of them. Along with an IV to pump it directly into my blood stream after this crazy week at work.

      If I didn’t have to pick up my kids from school, I easily could have spent a couple hours in the store checking out all of their delicious foods and unique brands.

      I’m so excited to support this business and hope you’ll feel the same way. Check it out this weekend.

      For additional savings, check out Sprouts’ Mobile Coupon program, which makes it even easier to save on Sprouts’ already low prices. All you have to do is download the Sprouts app for Android or iPhone, create an account, digitally clip your coupons, then scan the barcode when you checkout. Easy, peasy. Here is the link.


        Healthy Living: How to Save Money

        How to save money by shopping at Sprouts | The Champagne Supernova

        This post is sponsored with pride by Sprouts Farmers Market.

        Eating healthy, wholesome foods can be expensive.

        With the low price of value meals at popular fast food chains, it’s no wonder so many Americans are out of shape and not feeling their best.

        Fortunately, Sprouts Farmers Market makes it possible to save money while eating well.

        After all, “you work hard for the money… so hard for it, honey!”

        Saving money is easy, and here’s how to do it:

        Join Opening Day Fun. The brand-spanking new Carrollwood location of Sprouts Farmers Market will open to the general public on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, bright and early at 7 a.m. 

        The first 200 shoppers in line (yes, there will likely be a line!) will receive a coupon for 20% off their entire purchase. Don’t worry, the line won’t be that bad because everyone waiting in line before the doors open will receive muffins and coffee samples. Further, every 15th customer at checkout will receive a coupon book of Sprouts savings.

        Deals of the Month. Each month, Sprouts puts out a “Deals of the Month” flyer with additional promotions and coupons. These deals are often seasonally themed and have interesting recipes and tips. You can get these flyers near the entrance of your local Sprouts.

        Subscribe to the Email List.  Stay up to date on Sprouts’ weekly specials by joining their email list, which you can do here. When signing up for their email list, don’t forget to register to win a cool new bike.

        Tips for how to save money by shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market | The Champagne Supernova

        Sprouts Brand Items. (These are my absolute favorite). Sprouts offers a private label brand which provides an easy, more clearly labeled and affordable way to purchase organic and healthy products. This private label brand offers a great selection of organic and natural products, as well as vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO varieties.

        Bulk Bins. Fortunately for your wallet, bulk items don’t have the marketing or expensive packaging costs built into the pricing like your conventional brand items. There are tons of available bulk items including several varieties of nuts, beans, fruit, and dried rice… even chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sprouts also carries 100 assortments of bulk spices for the baking enthusiast.

        Read the Weekly Circular. Every week, Sprouts shares details regarding promotional items in a weekly advertising circular. The circular contains clear images, prices, and product descriptions to assist customers in creating their shopping lists. These ads run for eight days, so when they “double up” on Wednesday, the week of distribution, it’s called “Double Ad Wednesday.”

        How to save money by shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market | The Champagne Supernova

          Grocery Do-Gooders: Sprouts in the Community

          Ways that Sprouts Farmers Market gives back to the local community | The Champagne Supernova

          Unlike many other grocery and retail chains, Sprouts Farmers Market isn’t just focused on spitting out products and churning a profit.

          It’s also concerned about being a good neighbor.

          The folks at Sprouts know the importance of supporting and giving back to the local communities where it has its stores.

          In furtherance of the objective of giving back to the local communities and small businesses within those communities, Sprouts participates in a local vendor program.

          Two local Sprouts partners include Clear Springs Blueberry and Dakin Dairy Farm.

          Clear Springs Blueberry– located in the nearby city of Bartow, owner Stan Phelps has transformed 18,000 acres of reclaimed phosphate mines into an eco-friendly farming operation. His mission was to use the land to improve the quality of life for nearby residents. Windmills and tail recovery systems have been installed to minimize ground pumping, which is a greener way to farm.

          Dakin Dairy Farm– based in Myakka City, the Dakin Family Dairy has been milking cows and producing delicious, wholesome milk since 1973. As a sustainable farm, Dakin applies their composted manure to over 250 acres of grass. This is because soil enriched with compost reduces water usage and fertilizer needs. How cool is this- grass at Dakin Family Dairy is watered with nutrient-rich water that is recycled from barns. Cows at Dakin Dairy Farm are fed and cared for as organically as possible, with their overall health being the most important concern. This is because a healthy, well-fed cow produces high quality milk- with all the added benefits that come from fresh grass!

          Get excited… other Florida-based brands that will be featured at Sprouts include Bavaro’s, Floribbean, Gator Hammock, Gaucho Ranch, Goldenrod Apiaries Honey, Humanitea, Kombucha Tampa, Mojo Mama, Old Florida Gourmet, Pirate Jonny’s, and Terrapin Ridge Farms.

          Not only does Sprouts support local vendors, but it also participates in a food rescue program.

          This is sick. Did you know that nearly 133 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the United States. Food retailers are responsible for nearly 42 billion of those pounds. Sprouts believes we have an obligation to respect our communities and the planet through waste reduction initiatives designed to significantly reduce and divert our waste.

          Ways that Sprouts Farmers Market gives back to the local community | The Champagne Supernova

          What does Sprouts do to further this mission against waste? All groceries that are edible but not fit for sale are donated to local hunger relief agencies within the community. Most of these agencies are affiliated with Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States. These agencies then distribute this food to people in need in our communities. The local partner for the Tampa region of Sprouts is Feeding Tampa Bay.

          In 2016, Sprouts donated approximately 18 million pounds of product through the Food Rescue Program to people in need. This equates to 15 million meals. 

          If Sprouts deems the food unfit for donation, it is either composted to create products used to enrich soil for agriculture and community gardens or it is provided to farms for animal feed.

          No waste there!

          I love knowing that when I shop and Sprouts, I’m investing in a company that gives back to the Tampa Bay community.



            Relationships: How to Deal with Mean Girls

            How to Deal with Adult Mean Girls | The Champagne Supernova

            I’ve heard too many folks talk about their experiences dealing with the wrong people in their lives. Mean Girls become Mean Adults who become Mean Old People. Relationships and friendships can grow toxic. In the past month, I’ve seen at least a dozen articles come across my social media news feeds about navigating challenging relationships.

            It’s a sad reality.

            Over drinks with a friend a couple months ago, my friend shared that she was feeling hurt by a friend in her life who repeatedly wasn’t being a good friend back to her. Despite knowing in her gut the friendship wasn’t productive, my friend hated the feeling of being excluded and socially disconnected by this girl and also didn’t like the way she felt when she was around her. All that aside, my friend sadistically kept going back for more.

            I know that feeling and have been there myself. It stinks.

            When I was in my mid-twenties, I studied abroad in the Netherlands. It was my first time overseas and I was alone and missing my friends, boyfriend (now husband), and family back in Florida.

            There was a girl in my law program named Amelia. She was from Toronto and was one of the first people I met at the new school. Amelia was beautiful, engaging, and rented a huge apartment that overlooked a river in the center of town. She always knew how to navigate any social situation, which was noteworthy considering I often caught myself bumbling and feeling insecure. She was the girl who all the guys wanted to date and all the girls wanted to be friends with.

            A total “It Girl.”

            Every Monday night, Amelia hosted raging parties at her apartment that our classmates would attend before hitting the popular clubs as a group. Everyone wanted to be invited to Amelia’s parties.

            But the more I got to know Amelia, the more I felt uncomfortable. Despite spending plenty of time together (we had all of the same classes and made several mutual new friends) there was no depth to our friendship beyond the exchange of casual formalities. Based on my observations, it seemed she was that way with everyone. What made things worse is that Amelia was overly critical of other people, including our “friends,” and usually had something unnecessarily snarky to say. If someone didn’t give Amelia the attention she thought she deserved, they were on her radar and she passive aggressively bullied them. I knew I would eventually become a target.

            In my gut, hanging out with Amelia just didn’t feel good.

            One by one, Amelia started ganging up on our classmates and not inviting them to her Monday night soirees. Always for stupid reasons. She would blow off the situation under the guise of “We’re all adults here.”

            Being around Amelia felt like walking on eggshells. I never knew if I was going to say or do the wrong thing. I didn’t want to stand up to Amelia in fear of retribution. Even though I knew our friendship was not the right fit and as pathetic as it seems, I somehow wanted Amelia’s acceptance and validation. I wanted to scream from the rooftops, “AMELIA, I’M COOL. LIKE ME. ACCEPT ME. BE MY FRIEND.”

            But it wasn’t to be.

            After a while, I shifted my focus from Amelia to a girl from my own law school class at the University of Florida, Ashley, who arrived late to the Dutch program after the semester already began. Ashley was authentic and being her friend was easy. I never felt judged. Never felt worried about saying the wrong thing. Never felt like I had to be “on.” Never felt scared of being excluded.

            A decade later, Ashley and I are still good friends.

            How to Deal with Adult Mean Girls | The Champagne Supernova

            Me and Ashley in Amsterdam. January 2007.

            Sometimes removing yourself from the wrong people is difficult. You can’t easily separate yourself from co-workers, neighbors, and family members. For me, getting away from Amelia wasn’t easy because we had every class together and several mutual friends. Of course, I had the good fortune of returning to the United States when the semester was over and never having to deal with her again. We don’t always have that benefit.

            Here’s the thing.

            We all have Amelias. People who we know deep down in our gut, something ain’t jiving.

            We’ve dealt with them in the past. We might be dealing with them now. We’ll deal with them again.

            There will always be an Amelia.

            But this is how you deal with the Amelias.

            You focus on the Ashleys.

            The people who you love who love you back. The people who are easy to be friends with. The people who you could stay up talking to all night. The people who discuss goals and ideas. The people who mourn your losses and celebrate your achievements. The people who are emotionally intoxicating who make your heart expand just by being around them. (You know that amazing feeling!) The people who give a damn about who you are and not just about what you can do for them.

            Those are the people who you should focus on. Not the Amelias.

            There are so many Ashleys in this world. Go out there and find them.

            And here’s the thing about the Amelias. There’s nothing “wrong” with them; they’re just not “right” for you. While I don’t know what became of my Amelia, I’m not the same person I was when I was in my twenties and I’m willing to bet she’s not either. Heck, perhaps there’s been a time when we were someone else’s Amelia.

            There are millions of people living on this planet. You aren’t going to have a genuine connection with everyone. Be polite to the Amelias (because they need compassion and kindness) when you are around them, but don’t spend your spare time agonizing about them.

            I’ve spent valuable time doing this and I can never get that time back.

            What a waste.

            Feeling excluded and disconnected can be awful, but you don’t need anyone else’s validation.

            God created you in His image and He loves you. You have already been validated. 

            And remember that gut feeling we’ve been talking about? That’s the universe trying to tell you something. Listen.


              Family Fun for Less: The Tradewinds

              Awesome family beach vacation staycation at The TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach

              Living in Florida and being fortunate enough to have constant access to nearby beaches, my husband and I are always looking for fun new family adventures.

              We live in South Tampa, which is roughly 40 minutes (door-to-door) from decent, kid-friendly beaches on the west coast of Florida, and two and a half hours from the east coast beaches.

              Creatures of habit, when we hit up St. Pete Beach (check out Pass-A-Grille, it’s our numero uno favorite), we would typically stay at the same exact hotel. However, it’s expensive and, while perhaps fine for a romantic vacation for two while the kids are with Grandma and Grandpa, it’s not the most child-friendly. And it’s expensive.

              Dolla dolla bills, yall.

              We’ve had our eye on the TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach for years but, for whatever reason, never stayed here for a family staycation.

              Picture Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman: BIG MISTAKE. HUGE.

              We stayed at the TradeWinds for two weekend nights in early November and had the time of our lives. Not only did we splurge on a suite (and by “splurge,” it was still substantially more cost effective than the place we typically stayed down the beach), but the resort offered so many amenities that were included with the hotel rate.

              These included an amazing outdoor inflatable slide (that my four year old was too chicken to ride, but my two year old wanted to ride over and over and over again- go figure), paddle boats with a river encompassing the entire property, tons of dining options, multiple swimming pools, towel service, miniature golf, inflatable activities on the water, and the grounds were modern and absolutely immaculate.

              Here are some photos from our fun weekend.

              Awesome family beach vacation staycation at The TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach

              The inside of the hotel suite. The girls loved calling the operator. Not pictured: the operator kindly going along with it.

              Awesome family beach vacation staycation at The TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach

              Our greeting package from the staff at The TradeWinds.

              Awesome family beach vacation staycation at The TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach

              The girls having fun feeding the swans and ducks.

              Awesome family beach vacation staycation at The TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach

              My husband and daughter checking out the paddle boaters on the river.

              Awesome family beach vacation staycation at The TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach

              The worst thing about our stay at The TradeWinds? When it came to an end.

              The TradeWinds also offers a full service spa that offers more than 25 treatments- I got the aromatherapy massage.  After my spa service, my husband had “me time” in the fitness center.

              In the process of choosing your summer vacation plans?

              TradeWinds is is now offering a four-night package that includes 4 night discounted room accommodations, a TradeWinds FUNventure card valued at $250, a TradeWinds tropical beach tote containing two souvenir cups that can be used for unlimited $1.50 sodas, and the nightly resort amenity fee. Prices are as follows:

              Guy Harvey Outpost: Hotel Room- $1,164 ; Gulf Front Suite- $1,684

              Island Grand: Hotel Room- $1,164 Gulf Front Suite- $2,004

              If you’re making travel plans and want to have a great time without breaking the bank, I definitely recommend The TradeWinds and am already looking forward to my next trip.


                Sprouts Brand Products: Affordability without Compromising Quality

                Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

                This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. But I love them. So there’s that. 

                When I was a kid, I hated when my mother came home from the grocery store with “off-brand” items.

                At thirteen, I was stuck up and I didn’t even know it.

                Now as a working mom, I realize the value of a dollar and understand that when you pay more money for brand name items, you’re also paying for that brand’s advertising.

                “I work hard for my money… so hard for it, honey!”

                I also realize that buying grocery store brands doesn’t require you to compromise the quality of the product.

                Fortunately, with Sprouts Brand, I can always count on top quality and great taste. With more than 2,100 products to choose from throughout the store and new items routinely arriving, you’re bound to find new favorites every single time you go shopping.

                Below are some of my favorite go-to Sprouts products illustrating their great brand products.

                Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

                I use these organic cotton balls to safely remove makeup and this green chile mac & cheese suits even the pickiest of eaters.

                Unlike similar grocery chains, Sprouts‘ buyers search across the world to locate and try new products, including everyday grocery essentials and unique, seasonal items. In fact, they often customize flavor profiles and refine ingredients to suit Sprouts’ high standards for quality, taste, and value.

                Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

                I am a huge-huge-huge fan of natural body products made with safer ingredients. This Sprouts brand peppermint bar soap checks all of my health-conscious boxes.

                To ensure you feel confident with your purchase and have fun trying new things, Sprouts offers a 100% money-back guarantee.

                In other words, if you don’t love what you bought, you get all your moolah back.

                Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

                This spreadable cookie butter… to die for. The hot salsa can satisfy even the biggest spicy food fans.

                If you see a Sprouts label on a package, then you can be certain the product meets the strict quality control standards. Their private label brands offer a vast selection of natural and organic products, as well as vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO varieties.

                Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

                This is one of the few grocery-store brand sriracha sauces that are truly delicious. The french fried onions make the perfect addition to any casserole, and I put the organic lip balm in my daughter’s backpack to heal her wintertime chapped lips.

                Sprouts has exactly what you need to accommodate nearly every recipe you can imagine. It’s truly a one-stop shop. In fact, you can find a variety of recipes and tips featuring Sprouts Brand products here.

                Cheers to convenience, simplicity, and savings.

                  Sleeplessness: How to Beat Insomnia

                  Tips for How to Cure Insomnia | The Champagne Supernova

                  Obviously this little chica has no problems falling asleep.

                  I’ve been plagued with insomnia since Labor Day weekend of 2013.

                  I remember the exact timeframe because we were out of town for the three-day holiday weekend and because it’s when I found out I was pregnant with my youngest daughter.

                  It was horrible. I would lie awake at night for hours, bargaining with God that if he would just let me fall asleep, I would never ever ever ever ________________ again. Ever.

                  Incessantly checking my iPhone to see what time it was would only make things worse because, as the night turned into morning, I would become increasingly anxious about how tired I would be the next day at work and about all of the papers that were overflowing from my inbox.

                  Taking melatonin and other natural sleep aids helped with getting me to fall asleep, but they didn’t help me stay asleep. Like clockwork, my body would routinely wake itself up at 2:30 a.m. and getting back to sleep seemed impossible.

                  My obstetrician prescribed hard-core sleep aids but, being aware of the side effects (nightmares!) coupled with being pregnant and not wanting to take the risk, I never took them. (Which is a good thing, given how I was assured that Zofran was safe to take, was popping them like Pez, then recently have seen all these commercials for class action lawsuits associated with birth defects purportedly from the Zofran. Yikes!)

                  Hoping the insomnia was strictly related to pregnancy hormones, I was hopeful I’d be back to my eight-hours-of-sleep self once I had the baby.


                  If you have insomnia, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 50-70 million adults in the United States alone have sleep or wakefulness disorder.

                  Not being able to sleep is the worst. Until recently, my sleep schedule has never really been the same.

                  However, I’ve found ways to manage my insomnia through trial and error that I want to share with you.

                  Here’s my tips.

                  Stay Away from Alcohol. This is Numero Uno. This past Friday night, I had two glasses of red wine and binge-watched Netflix with my husband. Despite being exhausted, I couldn’t stay asleep. Drinking alcohol exacerbates my insomnia 100% of the time, and it never ever fails. There has never been a time when I had a good night’s sleep if I drank, and this is true whether I drank one glass of wine or ten. In fact, many studies now show that drinking alcohol is directly connected to insomnia. I used to come home from work and have a glass of wine, but now I’ve stopped that habit and try to stay away from alcohol unless the occasion is truly worth it.   

                  Fall Asleep on a Mental Good Note. If you’re like me, you have a hard time getting your brain to be quiet. There were times when I would go to bed stressed out about stuff that was on my mind, things I need to check off my “to do” list, or worries from the day. I enjoy daily devotionals and, while some recommend waking up early and doing them in the morning, I think it’s a good idea to do them in the evenings so it’s the last thing your brain thinks about before falling asleep. (Thanks for the tip, mom!) I enjoy Joyce Meyer’s “Trusting God Day By Day” (you can get it here).

                  Other great devotionals and meditation books I recommend include Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women by Karen Casey (get it here) and Journey to the Heart by Melanie Beattie (get it here).

                  Use a Diffuser with Essential Oils. Something about the natural component of lavender oil makes it easier for me to fall asleep. I bought a diffuser from my local health food store and purchased some high quality lavender oil and turn on the diffuser, which I keep near the night stand, before bed. It’s like a spa in my room. I’ve used many different brands of essential oils and, in my experience, you get what you pay for. The more expensive oils contain a higher concentration of the ingredients (e.g. are not watered down) and tend to be more effective. If you’re not spending at least $15 on the oil, you’re likely wasting your time. While the bottles are small, you only need to put 3-4 drops of the oil in the diffuser, so they last a long time.

                  Create a Special Nighttime Ritual. Each night before bed, I like to create a special routine to get my mind in the mood for sleeping. This involves lathering myself with Beautycounter’s Body Oil in Citrus Rosemary and putting the Lip Conditioner Calendula Balm on my lips. Makes a huge difference. (I am a Beautycounter consultant and would greatly appreciate if you would list me, Jennifer Burby, if you make the purchase!)

                  Keep Your Phone Out of Your Bedroom. When I would usually wake up in the middle of the night, I would start reading emails and scrolling through social media on my phone, which would only make it more difficult for me to fall back asleep. I recently purchased a cheap old-fashioned alarm clock and keep it in my room instead of the phone. Big difference in my sleep pattern, as I don’t have the accessible temptation to check my phone.

                  Godspeed to all of my friends out there who suffer from insomnia. It’s the very worst.

                  What are your tips for getting a handle on it that I missed?


                    Mom’s Best Friend: Persil ProClean

                    This post is sponsored by Persil ProClean, but all opinions are my own. 

                    The struggle to keep my daughters’ school uniforms clean is no joke.

                    They routinely come home from school with their clothes stained from whatever kept them busy that day.




                    Leftover spaghetti that was in their lunch.

                    While the stains symbolize the fun times they had at school that day, they also made me crazy because, until I discovered Persil ProClean, I couldn’t find a detergent that legitimately removed all the stains.

                    I was always left with a faded stain that I hoped their teachers or friends wouldn’t notice.

                    Until I discovered Persil ProClean, I was left with two choices: either send my kids to school in slightly stained clothing, or keep replacing their uniforms with new ones.

                    Ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.

                    It wasn’t until my mother recently told me about Persil ProClean while she was attempting to remove the stains from my daughters’ uniforms that I had ever heard of it, let alone appreciated its cleaning power.

                    Seeing was truly believing.

                    To demonstrate the cleaning capacity of Persil ProClean with its powerful stain removing formula, I washed my kids’ clothes after making crafts in preparation for Game Day.

                    Because isn’t this the ultimate stain-causing event?

                    Before I discovered Persil ProClean, I would strip my kids down to their skivvies before they were allowed to get messy. After, I would just throw them in the tub.

                    No harm.

                    Now with Persil ProClean, I don’t have to worry about their clothes getting stained.

                    No stain is too much of a challenge.

                    Here are photos of my girls making fun Game Day crafts using the ultimate stain-causing culprits: markers, glitter, paint, and glue.

                    The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

                    The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

                    The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

                    The finished product:

                    The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

                    And guess what? NO STAINS.

                    Don’t fret, mamas, Persil ProClean will also remove stains from all the red wine you were forced to drink all those nights you were unsuccessfully attempting to remove stains from your kids’ clothes from “those other detergents.”

                    CLICK HERE for a coupon to receive $2.00 off your next purchase of Persil ProClean.  At this site, you will also receive more craft inspiration, learn more about Persil ProClean, and Game Day recipes.


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