by Desiree Miller on November 17, 2017

volkswagen at beach house

It was supposed to be a quick run down to the beach. Just my oldest daughter and me. Our goal: a getaway from it all for just a few days. Relaxation. A couple hours tasting some of the best oyster combinations you could think up at the Annual Oyster Cook-off. And some quality girl time.

The Volkswagen 2017 Golf was our ticket to freedom this weekend. In tornado red. Maybe not the best choice in colors, thinking we were looking forward to fabulous weather all weekend. But, we were headed to the coast of Alabama, the home of the Crimson Tide, and the red just fit in perfectly with Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan, where we were basing ourselves for this beach trip.


It offered more than enough room for our escape, but we made great use of all the space on our way back, when we decided some driftwood needed to come home with us for a project at the new house. We tend to do that—pick up pretty things everywhere we go, and it wouldn’t have been possible to fit that nearly 8 foot piece of driftwood inside any other car I know of (thank goodness for the split folding rear seat and pass-through!

We made the six-hour drive in comfort, letting the 1.8L TSI DOHC turbo 4-cylinder engine quietly power our way down to the shore. The 4-motion all-wheel drive made for a smooth ride starting and stopping through town after town, as we became more and more eager to smell the salt air of the beach.

drivers dash

The climate control and multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles made for a safe, comfortable drive. And the heated front seats with power recline were critical for us when we didn’t want to make too many stops—we just wanted to get there!

The technology in the car kept us singing the entire way down, with the touchscreen radio and CD player with USB and auxiliary in. Turns out my daughter has quite the fun playlist. The 8 speaker surround system helped drown out our not-so-great (ok, my not-so-great) singing voices. And the Bluetooth tech kept us hands-free and safe. The rearview camera rivaled better cameras on the market—and I’m not talking about just on the backs of cars. These cameras have come a long way!

rearview cam

At a price point of $28,615 for the model we drove, I have to say it felt like a value for the money. It could have been more comfortable in some areas (the driver’s seat isn’t very wide for those of us with bigger back sides), but with a little adjustment, it was a very comfortable ride.

We made the most of our time at the shore, learning all about the projects underway to keep the beach beautiful for generations to come.

And when it was time to leave, we were excited to load up our keepsake of the ocean that would find it’s way into our home, along with our new beach chairs, and make the long drive back. In our tornado red Volkswagen 2017 Golf.


New Life: A Movie About Love That You’ll Love, #Giveaway

by Desiree Miller on November 17, 2017

New Life movie

18 minutes.

That’s all it took for the movie “New Life” to move me to tears.

There were laughs before that.

But the intensity of the love the two main characters share, and the message of the movie, will move you most.

Where there is love, there is life.

Sometimes, there is love well beyond life, or into the next life.

“NEW LIFE” is produced and co­written by Erin Bethea and Drew Waters as the premiere feature of their production company Argentum Entertainment.

In the story, these two childhood sweethearts, played by Bethea and Jonathan Patrick Moore, make great mates from the start, but it’s their love for each other as they grow that will have you wanting to share the same kind of love with another in your life.

Here’s a video trailer of the movie:

I don’t want to share much more about the movie for the sake of saving you from spoilers, but know that it’s worth an hour and a half of your time if you enjoy love stories in the least. It even won the best director, best lead actor and best picture awards at London’s Romford Film Festival.

And, on a local note for my fellow Georgians, the director, Waters, and Erin Bertha, leading lady in this, both just moved back to our state to work on producing more projects here. He’s a veteran, too, in addition to being in shows like Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad

The original release was limited, but now you can purchase this movie online.

Or, I have a few codes (3) to give out through my site if you want to win one.

Comment below with a tip you think helps keep love alive. Enter by December 1st at midnight EST.

I’ll contact the winners on December 2nd (coincidentally, my parents’ anniversary—two of the greatest lovebirds to have ever existed).




ice goddess

There are some Atlanta holiday traditions you just shouldn’t miss, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights, Holiday Nights is among them.

Here’s a video of this year’s highlights (just click on the arrow to play):

Garden Lights Holiday Nights

The seventh annual display will wow you, especially with the new “Nature’s Wonders” light show. It’s a high-tech display of thousands of vertical strings of lights synchronized with music and sound effects to create the illusion of nature’s phenomena, including ocean waves, thunderstorms, snowfalls, rainbows, sunrises/sunsets, meteor showers and more. I witnessed this light show, and though I didn’t absorb the various natural wonders from the lights, I did find the display spectacular, with lights dancing from string to string, timed to the music. It may be that I rushed too quickly through the display, so eager to get to the Ice Goddess lit up in blue and white string lights. That’s always been my favorite part of the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights show.

orchestral orbs

I also really enjoy the Orchestral Orbs. I could sit forever watching the orbs light up to each note of music, colors rotating through with each song. It’s especially magical with the lights of the Atlanta skyline in the background.

garden trees

The Garden Lights, Holiday Nights is presented nightly until January 7th. Friday & Saturday: 5 – 11 p.m.

Sunday – Thursday: 5 – 10 p.m.


You should get your tickets in advance (click here) if you know when you’re going—just keep in mind that there are no rain checks for inclement weather—it’s a rain or shine kind of thing. You’ll want to dress appropriately.

There’s also a fee for parking.

This is always one of my favorite ways to celebrate the holidays in Atlanta. I hope you agree when you’ve seen them in person.

garden singers



The smell of salt in the air. The sound of the waves, gently crashing on shore. The sight of the sun sparkling off the water, like a dancing light display.

An aluminum can…cigarette butts…or plastic bottle.

beach garbage

They just don’t fit into that peaceful picture you have of the beach, do they?

That’s because they shouldn’t be part of the picture.

And they should never be left behind after you enjoy a day at the beach.


Neither should your beach gear. Even if you’re staying at a home on the beach, in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, you’re now required to clear your beach chairs, toys, fold and carry out your shade tent, and recycle or throw away all trash.

leave only footprints

As part of the Leave Only Footprints campaign, all abandoned items will be removed for the protection of our beaches, local wildlife, and the many visitors we want to enjoy our clean coast for generations to come.

If you leave anything behind, expect it to be tossed and taken away overnight.

The region now has laws in place that require you to remove everything. It’s intended to protect the beaches, local wildlife, and future visitors to the beach who are counting on a clean coast.

The Leave Only Footprints campaign is all about collaboration.

bird footprints on the beach

It’s a lifestyle along the coast, where businesses partner up with residents and visitors to protect the beach. Whether it’s recycling oyster shells that are served in the restaurants to planting new beach vegetation to hold the fragile dunes in place, everyone gets in on the action. Maybe you’re new to the beach and don’t know what’s required.

Well, here’s a quick rundown for you:

  1. Avoid walking on any beach vegetation. Plant roots hold the dunes in place.
  2. Explore away from bird nesting areas. Nests may be located in the ground and camouflaged to resemble the surrounding environment, so please watch your step!
  3. Consider the best type of transportation to see the island: your feet! Walking is not only a great form of exercise, but it’s an eco-friendly way to experience the Alabama Gulf Coast.
  4. Remember to take your memories . . . and leave only footprints. Pack up all the stuff you used on the beach all day and take it with you when you leave. 

During the first year of the Leave Only Footprints operation in 2016, more than 161 tons of materials were removed from the beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach! That’s a lot of trash, right? Here’s a list of other numbers you might find interesting:

101.3 tons of trash collected in cans on four miles of beach

18.5 tons of aluminum cans collected (equivalent of 814,000 cans)

23.8 tons of plastic

18 tons of metal tent frames and chairs

For me, it all comes back around to respect for others. I find peace at the beach. Beauty. I don’t want that spoiled with someone else’s trash. Do you?

(Readers: Please note I was invited to spend the weekend at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, to learn more about the Leave Only Footprints campaign. My housing and food expenses were covered, but I was not otherwise compensated. As always, my opinion remains my own.)


Fall Into Fitness Giveaway #FallforC9atTarget

by Desiree Miller on October 31, 2017

c9 Champion leggings

It’s Fall, y’all, and that means time to pull out the warm weather clothes that leave you feeling comfortable and cozy, and maybe even energized to workout before you pack on a couple holiday pounds.

And when you work out, you want to look cute doing it, or at least I do, just in case the exercising part doesn’t happen and you end up in those yoga pants or running tights all day, paired with your favorite sweatshirt.

A new set of workout attire does inspire me to at least try getting on the treadmill a little more often, especially when it looks and feels as good as the C9 Champion brand that was sent to me recently to review.

c9 champion outfit

First of all, the pants are probably my favorite leggings I own now. They mold to your body, without showing all the little bumps back there that you don’t need others to notice. The pair I got has an iridescent ribbon up the legs that reminds me of a celtic design. They’re actually pretty. They feel great. And, the special fabric makes your unfit legs look like you’ve been working out for years. Yeah. Winning already, right??!!

c9 Champion

I wasn’t as crazy about the sweatshirt, or fleece jacket as they call it. It’s nice, but a little more lightweight than I’d like for colder weather. The zip-up front, pockets and hoodie make it popular with my daughters, though. I do admit I like the thumbhole feature, since typically the kiddos end up cutting them into their other sweatshirts anyway. I’ll let them adopt the hoodie and think I’m going to go back and get myself the half-zip option for myself.



I’ll be wearing my leggings as I work on a self-imposed challenge to build up my flexibility again. My daughter is the queen of splits and cheer moves that make her look like a contortionist. As I age, I’ve lost those skills I had at her size, and I’m working on getting them back, and these tights are perfect for sliding down further into split position each week.

This isn’t our first time using these running tights. I bought the fleece-lined version for the guys in my family last year before our ski trip to Colorado. To me, they’re ten times better than long underwear, and much warmer, too. You can’t see them in this photo, but trust me, they’re the layer closest to the kids’ skin, making it possible to play in the freezing weather all day long.

ski family

If you think you’d like to give them a try, leave me a comment below and tell me what big goal you have in getting in shape again. I’ll be giving away a $50 Target gift card that you can use toward buying yourself your own set, or maybe the C9 Champion sports bra. Enter by midnight Tuesday, November 14th, and I’ll pick a winner at random on November 15th. Also, go follow me on Instagram as part of your entry. I’ll try to keep you posted there on my split progress in the coming weeks!

(Note to readers: As I mentioned, I was given a set of these clothes for the sake of a review. I was not otherwise compensated and my opinion remains my own.)


Six Flags Over Georgia Fright Fest: The Last Weekend

October 24, 2017

“I never want to go back to that place again.” When you hear a child saying that after spending a few hours at the Six Flags Over Georgia Fright Fest, you know the event succeeded in its goal to scare all whom entered its gates. Granted, this child was younger than the recommended minimum age of 13. But I’m at least triple his age and it scared me. It always does. Yet, I always go back. The Fright Fest theme is thrills by day, fright by night. And trust me, […]

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So You Want to Write a Book? #NaNoWriMo

September 14, 2017

There’s a stat floating around out there that 81% of Americans think they have a book in them. That’s about 200 million people…thinking about it…knowing they have a story (or two) to share. I don’t doubt it. That they have great stories. We all do, I’m sure of it. But how many will actually sit down and pound it out? I did it a few years ago. I didn’t publish it at the time. It’s loosely based on my own life and there are some people who aren’t going to […]

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Cirque du Soleil Heads Back to Atlanta with LUZIA: Giveaway!

August 29, 2017

If you’ve never been to a Cirque du Soleil performance, you’re missing out, but you can fix that with the upcoming Atlanta shows of LUZIA at Atlantic Station, and we have a ticket giveaway for you. LUZIA is the newest Big Top show from Cirque, set to open September 14th and run through November 19th. The visually-stunning production LUZIA transports you to a waking dream of the wonder of Mexico. Tickets start at about $35.  There’s a special 20% offer running now, too, on select show dates and times while […]

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Your Solution for Smelly Problems: Goodwipes (a Review)

August 27, 2017

I went for a brisk walk last week with a friend. Down here in the ‘deep south’ we call Atlanta, it was HOT (understatement). I’d like to say the sweat made me glow, but instead it made me smell. Bad. Just keeping it real, kids. I still didn’t have a shower curtain up at my new place (I’d only been here 2 days, so don’t give me grief…there are a lot of boxes piled up and the priority was getting the door frame off the wall to fit my luxurious […]

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What to Do When You Visit Jacksonville: Surf Lessons! VIDEO #Visit_Jax

August 10, 2017

When you think of Jacksonville, Florida, what first comes to mind? Maybe the Jaguars NFL team, the Florida-Georgia college football game played there each year, or is it the beach that kicks off the rest of the coastline of the Sunshine State? For me, it will now eternally conjure up memories of surfing lessons with my daughter, a funky, renovated motor coach inn, and bike rides on the beach. While on a recent ‘lobsters and lighthouses’ road trip down the coast with my daughter, my friend, and her daughters, we […]

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