2020 - Dimples and Tangles


This time two weeks ago we were sitting on the beach in beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama.  Little did we know that just days later Hurricane Sally would blow through, bringing devastating winds and flooding to the entire region.  Today I'm sharing our trip with you, and as I composed this post I couldn't help but keep the people affected in my prayers as they work to clean up, rebuild, and re-open hopefully soon!  We also had a special event at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, which I'll share with you in the second half of the post.  I know many of you know and love this area, so I hope these photos remind you of good times spent there, but also that some of you are friends wanting to visit the area in the future, so I hope this is a good resource for you!  

 (*This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 


Whenever we travel, I always begin my search with listings at VRBO, Home Away, or Airbnb.  We prefer the extra space and a kitchen rather than a standard hotel room when traveling with the family.  However, we booked this trip just a week before we went and my search for a condo wasn't proving successful, so I checked out hotels in the area.  I came across The Lodge at Gulf State Park, it offered great rates during our stay, and looked gorgeous!  Our stay was so short, it also didn't take much to convince me that we could just eat out our few meals there and not mess with finding a place with a kitchen and taking food to prepare our own meals.  :)  

Where to stay in Gulf Shores Alabama

This hotel seemed so new I thought it must have just opened a few months ago, but it's actually been open for about 2 years.  All of the decor was so fresh and appealing!

This hotel was located on the west edge of Gulf State Park, so the park was on the north side of the hotel, with the beach on the south side.  The park offers many trails for walking or biking, and we fully intended to check it out as well but couldn't tear ourselves away from the beach during our short 2 days there.  

Not a bad view any way you look!  I also liked that this hotel was separated from the busy central hub of all of the Gulf Shores high rise condos, souvenir shops, etc.  It was nice and quiet.  Our room had a balcony with a view of the state park above, but on the beach side of the hotel there were several of these common balconies to enjoy the beach view as well.  It was nice to be able to slip out of our room and enjoy this spot even though our room faced the other direction. 

The pool was also great!  Due to Covid the capacity was limited, so they offered 2 hour time slots that you could sign up for each morning to enjoy the pool.  

The hotel is beachfront, just a short boardwalk away from the perfect white sand.  

There are umbrella and chair rentals available, but we had thrown a few of our beach necessities in the car and those were all we needed.  We have a couple of small chairs and have used this shade tent on two beach trips now, it's been a great alternative to an umbrella and packs away in a small bag that is easy to transport.  

Similar Beach Shelter here, here or here

Also, my beach towel was THE BEST!!  I bought it last Summer and sadly the exact one isn't available, but this one is virtually identical... same pattern, size, and composition.  They are large and soft and thick, worth every penny for the beach or to cover your entire pool lounge chair.  (slightly smaller towel here but good deal on a 4-pack)

If you ever see me at this beach this is what I'll be doing... reading! 

I loved this kimono and it was a great triple duty piece to pack... I used it as a beach cover up, a robe in the room, and cute top layer with shorts and a t-shirt one night for a casual dinner. The bird and floral pattern on it fit right in at the beach!  :)


We were there for such a short time, we didn't have a chance to eat very many places.  After polling my Instagram friends on where to eat in the Gulf Shores/Foley/Orange Beach area, here's what we ended up choosing:  

Doc's Seafood- We ate here one evening and loved it!  Totally scratched our seafood itch.  It was suggested that we eat at the original "shack" location on Canal Street in OB (which has no frills and is not fancy at all, super casual), not the newer location on Perdido Beach Blvd.  We both loved our entrees and especially the choice of new potatoes instead of fries as a side... yum!

Another Broken Egg Cafe- A personal local friend told me that they ate twice here when they were vacationing in the area a few months ago, so we gave it a try for breakfast.  They LOVED it but I think we didn't choose the right things (we got pancakes and french toast- just craving plain comfort food!) because it didn't knock our socks off.  I'd probably give it another shot though and get something more interesting off of the menu, they had tons of unique, creative options (gluten free selection if needed).  

Hog Wild BBQ- We enjoyed the patios and sitting areas around the hotel so much that for our second dinner we just picked up takeout and brought it back to eat overlooking the beach.  This place was good!  The BBQ sauce was different than what we're used to in TX and OK, very vinegar based, so that took a minute to get used to but it was a delicious meal.  (A chunk of that pier in the distance is now missing after the hurricane. 😔)

Here are the other restaurants that were recommended:

The Original Oyster House
Fin & Fork
The Gulf
Wolf Bay
Cactus Cantina
Gulf Cafe
Papa Rocko's Pizza
GT's on the Bay
Fisher's Upstairs
Shrimp Basket
Sea N Suds
Lambert's (we've eaten at the Branson location, fun family spot!)
Flora Bama Yacht Club
Big Fish
Efe's Greek Kitchen
Picnic Beach
Bahama Bobs
Tin Top
Mo's BBQ
Sunliner Diner

I don't have a list, but in addition to the beach and other natural attractions, there is a wide selection of entertainment and shopping opportunities in the area.  Mini golf courses, go-carts, arcades, movie theaters, zip lines... plenty to keep your family busy.  And, I saw thrift store after thrift store I was just dying to check out!  

I also had several people recommend a visit to Fairhope, which is a small town along the coastline scenic route between Mobile and Gulf Shores.  My friend said it makes you feel like you've stepped into a Hallmark movie!  She recommended walking out onto the pier there and exploring the restaurants, shops and boutiques.   I really wanted to be able to go there but we just ran out of time.  Next time for sure but I wanted to mention it so you can check it out if you're in the area.  

I'm sure we'll return to Gulf Shores in the future, it's not a bad drive from Oklahoma City.  If you're a regular visitor there I'd love to know your favorite place to stay!  If we return with the whole family we'll likely be looking for a condo, so bonus points for those that are possibly beachfront and a bit more quiet than the huge high rise condos.  



Now, the whole reason for our trip was to attend our friend's military retirement ceremony, a few days at the beach were just a bonus!  It was held on September 11 in Mobile at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.  If you've been through town and have never stopped to tour the ship and the grounds you simply must!  Several years ago we toured with our kids and they've done such a good job with the grounds and memorial, it fosters such an appreciation for our military service men and women! 

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park

Our friend, Chaplain Endel Lee, RDML, U.S. Navy, enlisted as a Recon Marine at 18, later moving to the Navy in the Chaplain Corps, rising to rank of Rear Admiral and working at the Pentagon as a Chief of Chaplains.

To us, he was the pastor of the first church where Ray served on staff after we married and he finished seminary (Endel served in the reserves while he pastored). He taught Ray everything about being a minister that they don’t teach in seminary... how to do a wedding, funeral, run a business meeting, and above all how to love and serve people well. Kathy showed me how to be a gracious pastor’s wife, using her gifts to serve in the church as well as keeping things with their family running smoothly while Endel served the church and our country.

The family welcomed and visited with their guests in the "Mess Hall" of the ship before the festivities began, then we all moved out onto the deck of the ship for a flag raising ceremony.

Current version of my dress (it's a great one!)  ||  Wedges here or here  ||  Earrings

Endel's grandfather was in the USMC, killed in action during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII. As part of the ceremony, they flew his funeral flag on deck of the USS Alabama, as well as at the Pentagon last month on his last day of service there.

Endel has also spent time working with the Coast Guard, so they did a flyover during the flag ceremony to honor his service. (video freeze screen shot, sorry it's a bit fuzzy but very cool!) 

The actual retirement ceremony was held in the aircraft pavilion adjacent to the battleship.  This building houses retired aircraft and memorabilia. 

After the ceremony they invited everyone out to their place for lunch and time to be able to visit. Such a sweet, patriotic day (in spite of sweltering Alabama humidity... ha!) to celebrate all of Endel's accomplishments over the course of his career, many of which I'm sure we'll never know due to his extremely humble nature, never seeking out any acknowledgment for himself, only to honor the Lord.

We are forever grateful for the impact they made on us early in our marriage and ministry as well as for their outstanding service to our country (yes "their" service... each military family member definitely makes countless sacrifices in order for the military member to do their job!), and it was an honor to celebrate the Lee family at his retirement ceremony. You can see more photos and video from our day here.

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Happy Friday, friends!  Here are a few things from around my home that I've been loving lately, and thought you might too.  Enjoy your day and weekend!  (*This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure policy here.)

Earlier this Summer I scored a great new pair of lamps from Homegoods, but had no hopes of sharing them with you because many things from HG normally can't be sourced online.  But then, I was so happy to stumble across these that are virtually identical, and for a great deal to boot (same price I paid at HG).  I like the hefty looking base (it's metal) and the ridged texture that almost resembles bamboo.  There's also a matching floor lamp version if you're in the market for one. 

For a while I forgot that I had it, but on my last project I dug out this spray paint trigger and was reminded how fabulous it is!  If spray painting tends to hurt your hand or finger, this trigger is a lifesaver!  It is SO easy to clip on and works on any of the main brands I believe.  After attaching just squeeze the trigger with your whole hand to spray.  I can tell you this, I won't forget to use it any more!! 

Spray Paint Trigger Handle here or here

When remodeling our Master Bath we bought some new LED recessed lights to replace the old ones over the tub.  Here's a before shot-  I didn't get a shot with both can lights over the tub, but here you can see how obvious the old one is.

and after... nice and clean! 

We liked them so much we immediately bought a lot more for the rest of the house!  We have a TON of recessed lighting in our Living, Kitchen, and Hallway, and while that's a huge benefit and I'm thankful for each one,  I always joked that with the black can lining our ceiling looked like swiss cheese.  Not to mention, the old lights we had are basically a hole into the attic, so not very energy efficient during the heat of Summer or cold of Winter.  The new lights totally seal those holes up and virtually disappear into the ceiling.  You can select how warm or cool you want the color of your lights from 5 different choices and Ray said they were a breeze to install.  We couldn't be more pleased and think these not only make a huge difference in updating our lighting, but also the efficiency in our home!  

Before- (this shows just a few of them, I can sit on the couch and count 16 that I can see, plus more around corners that I can't!  But it's a good example of how they stick out...)

After!  A slightly different view but you can see how they virtually disappear.  And the biggest bonus is how they completely seal up the ceiling.  We've already noticed a difference in how it feels in the house.

I am often asked for a source for my abstract art that's in my Living Room, but I painted it myself so that doesn't help!  

However, I'm thrilled that my friend Courtney- who is a real artist 😉 - just released a print of one of her stunning abstract paintings that has a similar feel to mine.  Printed on high quality paper, it measures 16x20 and is available in her shop here.  Pop it in a frame, or with a larger frame and mat if you want a bigger scale, and you have an instant focal point!

Lastly today, a few cute doormat rugs for Fall!  (See my Fall Wreath picks HERE)

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Welcome back, I hope you found some good ideas for Fall with yesterday's post.  Today, let's continue with Part 2 of my Fall Decorating Ideas Review!

Painted Gingham Pumpkin Tutorial and other painted pumpkin ideas-

Raid your closet for a scarf to use as a table runner-

Mix unexpected colors and patterns for a Fall tablescape.  Here I used primarily pink and orange flowers mixed with  more pink, leopard and Blue Willow on the tabletop. 

Fall is the best time to gather what you can from nature and bring it indoors.  Here I clipped some sweet potato vine that was still hanging in there and it perfectly complemented the bright green of these horse apples (hedge apples, Osage oranges...whatever you call them in your area!).  Hooray for free decorations!

If you're planning an outdoor gathering, hunt down some hay bales and scatter them in your yard.  These were arranged for my sister's wedding, and with thrifted plaid throws covering them they were perfect for extra seating! 

Just one strong pop of color livens up Fall neutrals-

Another example here!

Again, Fall inspired foods double as great decorations, and gather up some Scrabble tiles for  cute place cards!

This post is really dipping into the archives, but finally, use natural elements to create art for your Fall decor.  This is especially fun to do with kids!  And think beyond just making a picture to hang on the wall, lean it in front of a mirror or larger piece of art on a mantel or shelf, or stand it on an easel for tabletop decor!

I can't shift into Fall mode without thinking about all of the yummy Fall recipes that we enjoy each season, here are a few of our favorites!  Let's start with alllllll the warm, hearty comfort foods!

Kelly's Thai Soup

Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner- Crescent Roll Lasagna

Cheeseburger Soup-

Squash Casserole

Jen's Green Beans

Cream Cheese Sausage Dip-

And a few Fall-ish sweet treats...

My favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookies-

Homemade Chocolate Pie-

Easy, Yummy Pumpkin Bread-

Molasses Cookies- Don't be put off by any preconceived ideas of what you think this cookie might be like.  TRY THEM!  I promise you won't be able to stop after just one (or two) (or three!).

So I hope some of those ideas and recipes help to get you inspired for Fall.  Our temps are perfection this week so that definitely helps... I'm ready now to get started!

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