My Christmas Wish List

There comes a time at a certain age when there aren’t a whole lot of things that you’re waiting to ask for as a Christmas present. Sometimes I’ll keep items on my radar that I wouldn’t normally buy and then around Christmas time, I’ll splurge because I’ve been thinking about it so long and still want it that I don’t count is as in impulse buy.

I’ve pulled some items that I want and then some that I love and think would make perfect gifts. Some of them I’ve already purchased and they are under my tree, the hubs just doesn’t know yet. And some I just think would be great gifts, too! Maybe you’ll get some ideas for yourself, your friends or the lady in your life.

Hunter Boots

Quality over quantity and Hunter Boots offer the quality that you’re looking for in a nice pair of rain boots. They are perfect for a soggy day, being out around town or attending a festival without having to get your shoes wet, all while still looking fashionable. These sweet teal babies are on sale right now for the holidays!

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Cowboy Boots

We can all use a good pair of cowboy boots in our closet. I’m starting my collection and I’m still waiting to find a pair of black or grey boots that I really love. These boots are from Country Outfitter, by American Rebel Boot Company. “American Rebel Cowgirl Boots are made for women who practice the art of living on the edge. Never ordinary, always stunning, a Rebel keeps faith in the wild and the free.”

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Belkin Lightning to USB Leather Tassel

Because every girl needs to be connected and fashionable all at the same time. This Belkin Lightning USB leather tassel is perfect for the girl on the go. It’s fashionable to attach to a purse or key ring and still functional.

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Tieks

These are on my wish list, because coming in at $175, they would be a splurge for me. “Tieks are the most versatile designer flats in the world. Made of the finest Italian leathers and designed to fold and fit in a purse. Wearable all day, every day.” “Each pair of Tieks is crafted from the finest leathers (or vegan textiles) and specially treated to be flexible yet durable. In total, it takes three days and over 150 steps to create a single pair of Tieks. There are no shortcuts in creating the world’s most versatile ballet flat.”

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Giving Key – Dainty Infinity

Have you heard about Giving Keys? I love this story. “The Giving Keys exists to employ those transitioning out of homelessness in Los Angeles to make key necklaces and other jewelry out of repurposed keys.” Each key has it’s own stamped word on it that you can pick or create your own. They are given and meant to inspire, comfort or help others. Country artists, Maddie and Tae recently finishing their tour and gave away Giving Keys to those around them that said, “Fly” for their first single. While around many musicians this summer, I saw many Giving Keys being worn.

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Giving Key – Dainty Dangle Bracelet

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Adventure Tote Bag

Who doesn’t love an adventure. The perfect gift idea as just the bag itself or fill it with things that have to do with upcoming adventures, trips or plans.

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Tribe Kelley Black Road Tripper Beanie

I love Tribe Kelley. Created and founded by designers, Brittney Kelley, and husband, Brian Kelley (of Florida Georgia Line.) They have fun tribe like clothes and you’ll see their signature tee-pee on all of their items. They range from suede clothes to amazing bell bottoms, and fun top and hats. Here is the road tripper beanie that’s perfect for any outdoors girl.

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Brothers Osborne Pawn Shop album packages

I always think music is a great gift. Brothers Osborne are a Nashville-based duo that make earthy, passionate country-rock. Their debut album, Pawn Shop, comes out January 15. They currently have packages on sale for their record and their CD album with t-shirt.

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Old Dominion tank

Obviously I love music, so I think anything music related is a great gift. For the past two weeks Old Dominion’s Meat and Candy album has been on repeat in my house and car. Grab a gift from an artist for a thoughtful gift.

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Tickets to Spring Jam in Panama City and Gulf Coast Jam

TICKETS! Tickets to concerts, shows, and events are always good. On my wish list are Spring Jam and Gulf Coast Jam tickets in Panama City Beach.

Tank Top from Jacvanek

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Range Master Bullet Survival Strap Bracelet

You’ve heard of survival bracelet that have paracord rope. Well, these bracelets still have the paracord but are paired with actual spent, recycled, cleaned & tumbled nickel plated bullet shell casings.

neonorange_2048x2048Swell Bottle

This chic bottle is perfect for the girl on the go. These bottles do not condensate and are easy to carry with their slim design. Available in many colors and perfect for remembering to get your daily water intake. Just go ahead and upgrade to the 25 oz since it holds an entire bottle of wine!

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When in doubt, jewelry. These earrings are the perfect accessory to a winter outfit and won’t break the bank.

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Yay Yay Yay

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I am so excited!! Yesterday, I saw a sneak peak of my new blog design. I’m happy to be redesigning with a friendlier layout and setting goals to update frequently with more content. I’ll also be updating my social media channels with more information so be sure to give them a follow. I’ll be updating the Southern Sparkplug Facebook page, SparkplugWhit Instagram and SparkplugWhit Twitter account.

I know that I’ll be writing about the Southern lifestyle, my wanderlust travels, concerts, events, festivals and what not to miss in certain cities. I’ll start with Pensacola and Nashville and then start looking for suggestions on where to travel next! I’ll always keep you updated on country music, what events not to miss and even some fun photo shoots with boutiques, shops and creatives! You’ll get a sneak peak at my favorite shops and designers to follow.

I’ll also be really talking about traveling, events and concerts. My favorite place to be is at a concert. I found another blogger, Ingrid from the Sassologist, that said it best, “Perhaps it is some sort of escapism. For those two hours, I don’t bother thinking about the issues I left at home. I don’t worry about deadlines or tests that I still have to check. It is just me and the music. Me and the artist on stage.” I could not have said it better. That’s exactly how I feel at concerts and why I attend or work them. You’ll find me often side stage, front row or in the photo pit because it’s brings me the most happiness. That’s what truly matters is what makes you happy. So continue on this journey with me and by all means, feel free to join along!

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Thanksgiving Feast!

What a Thanksgiving! Normally everyone has their favorite foods they look forward to every holiday or each year. Then there’s the argument of if it’s called dressing or stuffing. We’re from the south, it’s definitely dressing just like those are buggy’s in the store not carts! 😉

When it comes to holidays I’m a little bit of a gypsy depending on what year it is, if the hubs is working or not and what my parents are doing. This year was no different. After a formal invite to a friends Thanksgiving, I couldn’t turn it down and what a blessing it turned into! Asking what I needed to bring, my hostesses told me purely, “yourself.” Bliss.

I took advantage of some pre-Black Friday deals and purchased a new digital camera, a Canon 70D with a few new lenses, too. I told my hostess that I was bringing my new camera to snap some photos of the feast! I’m so glad I did, too. To Kim, John and Lauren, I’m thankful that I was able to meet them a few years ago and blessed that they think of me, invite and open their home on numerous occasions a year. They cook for days leading up to events with recipes that are thought out and divine. There is always too much food and plenty of to go boxes and I don’t think they’d have it any other way. Take a sneak peak at the cheese trays, all of the southern foods and fixin’s and those desserts! YUMO! They would give Paula Deen a run for her money.

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Thankful Enough?

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Come November, we all think about what we’re thankful for and we spend 30 days detailing our thankfulness and appreciation for those around us. Often times, we forget to be thankful throughout the rest of the year. There are days when I’m overly thankful and days that I plain forget. There are days that I’ll send handwritten thank you cards and then the weeks that I have a list of thank you cards I’d like to send, but they sit on my desk and I never get around to it. (Sorry!)

There are so many things that I’m thankful for and I know if I start to list them, I’ll never be able to list them all or I’ll forget something or someone. I’m thankful for the opportunities that I’m allowed and we all need to be grateful more often. I’ve been thankful for a lot lately for opportunities and experiences. I’d love to make it an occurrence throughout the year. My list of things I’m thankful for might not be your mushy-gushy normal list of things like the food I have on the table in front of me, being able to afford a reliable car or being able to go shopping for new clothes, but these are the things that are currently on my mind and impact my quality of life.

1. Music. Concerts. Festivals. Music. I recently read an article about why people go to concerts and why they will go see their favorite artists over and over again and it’s about the escape. While you’re watching and listening to that artist on stage, you are in an experience that makes you forget about everything else besides being in the moment. That’s what music does to me. It’s a platform of where I’m the most comfortable. Whether that be working an event, festival or venue or enjoying the music as an attendee. They all provide the same escape.

2. Animals. My pups, my cat, yes, even our salt water fish tank. No matter the time, my dogs can always cheer me up because they just want love and affection. A full-blood shih tzu, Tebow, and a pound puppy (lhaso apso/terrier mix), Sierra, have been part of our family for more than eight years.

3. Friends. that make me laugh. To those that I can (let’s be real) mainly text to make me laugh with short little smart comments, photos or all of the above, thanks. To those who I can spend an evening or afternoon with partaking in adventures, concerts, bonfires, fishing, beach trips, dinner and lunch or coffee dates, or sitting at home catching up on our favorite TV shows with a glass of wine, thank you. It means the world to me!

4. The Hubs. For the guy that has to deal with all of my crazy antics, my quirks, my obsessions, my slight ADD and OCD, my travel bug, and constantly on the go lifestyle – thanks for always being there to back me up.

5. Nashville. My home away from home. To my friends that let me crash at their homes and welcome me with open arms, to the city that gracefully adopts me every time I’m there and to those that had the guts to leave town and actually move there – thank you! Everything about Nashville from Broadway to Midtown to the Gulch – to Hattie B’s and Loveless Cafe to Goo Goo Clusters and Yazoo…..I love you Nashville, I always will.

6. Pensacola. My home, home. To the city that frustrates us daily and still remains beautiful. Our beaches are hard to leave, our community hosts a conglomeration of quirky creatives and we constantly are fighting together to make our city a better place to live for everyone. I love you, Pensacola.

7. My Business. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work for myself, serve businesses and organizations to fit their current needs. To be able to have the time to do what I want and work the hours that best suit me, I’m thankful for that for my sanity and lifestyle.

So what are you thankful for this time of year? Is it your office mate, your boss, a store, a community, your family? Let’s hear it.

Explore Pensacola!

Pensacola is America’s First Settlement, established on Santa Rosa Island by Spanish conquistador Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano in 1559. Through a contest and marketing campaign hosted by Visit Pensacola, the hubs and I became tourists in our own city for a few weeks. The Visit Pensacola Passport campaign was designed to give tourists or locals places to visit and they chose some amazing places and views to #ExplorePcola. It took us at few days to really enjoy our adventures around the Pensacola area and also gave us ideas for more places that we want to visit. I believe these Passports are still available at the Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key Visitor Information Centers. I’ve included our adventures below but you can find other adventures with the #ExplorePcola hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Find my adventures at @SparkplugWhit.

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1. Cannon at Fort Pickens

This day was fun because we decided to take go to Fort Pickens by boat. We launched on the west side of town and trotted across Pensacola Bay and anchored out at Fort Pickens. The water by the Pensacola pass and the fort has been this beautiful teal/aqua green lately. The goal was to grab a photo with a cannon at the fort. There are definitely a few to choose from, so we took our time wandered around and grabbed some photos. The hubs is former military, so it was great to hear from him some of the historical facts that he knew. What an awesome little place Pensacola has to have a fort still in the condition that it is today.

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2. Pensacola Beach EcoTrail Sign

This might not be new to Pensacola, but it was new to us! Pensacola Beach has an EcoTrail. According to their Footprints in the Sand website, “On the trail, you’ll learn about local plant and animal life including dolphins, turtles, sharks, birds, flowers, and fish. Informative, educational signs have been posted at key locations across the beach, each one exploring a different ecological topic. You’ll learn the secrets of Pensacola Beach’s white sand, discover the dangerous journeys of sea turtles, identify mysterious seashells, and so much more.” There are maps available at the Pensacola Beach Visitor Information Center or online.

3. Iconic Pensacola Beach Ball

I’ve lived here my entire life and I don’t think I’ve ever taken the touristy Pensacola Beach Ball photo before. It’s the best place to tell people where you are located according to the beach ball. “South of the beach ball on the beach, to the right of the beach ball by the pier, etc.” So the hubs and I had a blast taking these photos! I even got to “hold” it!

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4. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum

The Pensacola Lighthouse is located on Naval Air Station Pensacola. We see it all of the time while out on the water on the boat and I learned that the hubs even uses it as a guide to bring us into Pensacola Bay. So we stopped by and wanted to go on a tour. I was really excited because I don’t think I’ve ever done the tour before and we walked inside to buy our tickets. Here’s my warning to locals: you must have shoes on. I don’t mean that you’re walking around barefoot, but naturally as a Flordian, natural casual shoes are go-to flip flops. This won’t fly at the Pensacola Lighthouse. In order to walk up the spiral staircase you must have on shoes……the hubs and I both had on flip flops and were turned away. Womp Womp. We will be back with our Sperry’s on next time. We snapped a few photos in front of the light house and around the side but I can’t wait to take this adventure and fulfill it the next time.

5. Favorite Seafood Restaurant in the Pensacola Bay Area

There are plenty of fantastic seafood restaurants in the Pensacola Bay area. There are also restaurants that aren’t specific to seafood that serve some of the most outstanding dishes as well. We kind of chose two separate restaurants for our favorite seafood. We live close to the water and close to downtown Pensacola, so we like to enjoy a view with our meals. One pick was The Oar House for one of our favorite restaurants because of the atmosphere. It’s just a few miles from our house and we can also get there by boat easily. It’s very close to our boat launch and encourages boaters to stop in for a bite to eat. My favorite dish is the Baja Tacos with Mahi Mahi, “two soft tacos served with homemade baja sauce, coleslaw, salsa, and homemade black eyed peas.”

The second place we chose is actually a steakhouse but has a mouth watering menu. There is nothing that you will be disappointed with on the menu at Jackson’s Steakhouse. We went to Jackson’s before the annual Coronation Ball for Fiesta of Five Flags. I ordered the Seared Sea Scallops “BLT Slow-roasted Benton’s bacon (Madisonville, Tenn.) toast points, roasted Florida cherry tomatoes, arugula, basil and parsley sauce and “Ed’s Red” Aioli.”

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6. Blue Angel Jet at the National Naval Aviation Museum

Growing up in Pensacola, there are plenty of field trips to the National Naval Aviation Museum. When friends from out of town ask for recommendations, I always suggest the museum, but it’s been a few years since we’ve been with out of town guests. There are always so many things to see that it’s a new experience every time. I love that there is an IMAX theater, currently showing three different shows. The museum showcases the beautiful Blue Angels and you can even watch their practices!

7. Helicopter at Veteran’s Memorial Park

It so happened that we were both off on Memorial Day so the hubs and I did some sightseeing and visiting on the holiday. One of the places we stopped was the Veteran’s Memorial Park where there are many different memorials to see including a smaller replica of the Wall South in Washington, D.C. We took part of our day to visit the memorial, walk around and think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

8. Tivoli High House Porch

We love living close to downtown and walking the streets of historic Pensacola. The Tivoli High House is in the middle of historic Pensacola and is a replica of the original building built in 1805. Calle de Tivoli is an early name for Zaragoza Street. As part of a complex, the buildings might have been used for billiards and gambling!

9. Andrew Jackson’s bust in Ferdinand Plaza

As a city with history, there is plenty to learn as Pensacola has seen five flags fly over our city. There is a bust of Andrew Jackson in one of our parks, Ferdinand Plaza. Local historian John Appleyard explains in the Pensacola News Journal article Andrew Jackson’s connection to Pensacola, here.

10. Pensacola Blue Wahoo’s sign at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium

We love the Blue Wahoos. They are a Double-A affiliate team of the Cincinnati Reds based in downtown Pensacola. The stadium and team have won many awards including Best Ballpark and Organization. If you’re in town during baseball season, it’s an event not to miss with a ballpark on the water, the friendliest staff and just a great family time!

11. Restaurant in Belmont-Devilliers Neighborhood

Love this place and it’s the best burger I’ve had. I keep going back over the years and even was able to introduce my hubs and friends to Blue Dot in the Belmont-Devilliers in downtown Pensacola. Blue Dot is a unique and somewhat overlooked place. It’s in a painted blue brick building and there is finally a sign out front. Here’s the inside scoop: There is only one person behind the counter, but don’t worry, he goes fast and remembers your order perfectly. The hamburger comes with onions and tomatoes. I ask for no onions sometimes, but even if I don’t they make the burger worth it. Classic old school, it’s delivered in a brown paper bag, just like you want your neighborhood shop to be!

Where else can you get 70 cent sodas? Things to remember: Don’t ask for cheese on that burger or fries. It’s okay, you don’t need them to make this burger fantastic. Don’t get there too late, when they run out, they are out and close up shop. Cash only.

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12. Rosamond Johnson Plaque at Johnson Beach

A few weeks ago some friends and I were headed to Pensacola Beach on a Saturday afternoon. Our trip was stalled short because we got stuck in traffic before we made it onto the bridge to get to the beach. After a good 20 minutes of not moving, we decided to turn around a head to Johnson Beach on Perdido Key. It was a fantastic idea because the beach is in a national park. The white sandy beaches are in pristine condition and it’s a great place to relax and get away from the busyness of Pensacola Beach. You’ll need a park pass to get to the beach but you can grab a 3-day or annual pass.

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13. Top of Big Lagoon Tower

Visiting the Big Lagoon State Park took my breath away and I LIVE HERE! I remembering visiting Big Lagoon as a kid, a few years back the hubs family rented a pavilion for a family reunion, my friend had a wedding at the park, but I haven’t visited as an adult to just enjoy the view. We went to the top of the Big Lagoon Tower and watched boats go by, enjoyed the natural beauty of the water and wetlands, and even saw a red fish in the water below. How can you not love this view?

While we were leaving the park, the hubs stops the car and starts backing up and mumbling about a turtle. I had no idea what he was doing until we were next to it. This beautiful and massive gopher turtle was on the side of the road headed onto the pavement. I jumped out to take some photos, being extra careful not to touch or interrupt but it started following me! I made sure he made it safely to the other side of the street while another car stopped to show their young son. Nature in its finest.

14. Pirate Ship Fish Tank at Perdido Key Visitor Center

Have you ever watched the show Tanked? Design geniuses and brothers-in-law, Wayde King and Brett Raymer are the hosts of the show and design over the top fish tanks for celebrities and companies. They designed a saltwater pirate ship fish tank located at the Perdido Key Visitors Center.

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We completed the challenge and guess what?!?! We WON the Passport Staycation Contest!!

The hubs and I now get to continue to enjoy fun adventures around Pensacola including a stay on the beach, visiting the Pensacola Museum of Art, Historic Pensacola Village, Segway Tours, dinner around town, Fast Eddie’s Fun Center, bowling at DeLuna Lanes and a the M.E.S.S. Hall. Thank you, Visit Pensacola! Go #ExplorePcola!