How to Live Better (by playing the ukulele)

A little over a month ago, I decided it was time for a new “challenge.” I was bored – bored with work, bored with what was on tv… bored with my life. I thought about training for a marathon but it was mid summer in Florida (way too hot.) I thought about buying a plane ticket to Bangkok to visit my old roommate (way too expensive). I needed something stimulating, something rich that wouldn’t break my [very small] bank….

…. I decided to teach myself how to play the ukulele.

YouTube is a great site for learning new things. There are more resources for how to play the ukulele than I know what to do with! So between books at the library, free websites/teaching tools and YouTube, I am slowly (and enthusiastically) navigating my way around the island sounds.

With tax, this new “challenge” only cost $32.00!

Learning to play a musical instrument on your own time is great because it’s just that – on your own time. I do my best to carve out an hour here and there to practice my cords and my Beach Boys songs but if we get busy at our shaved ice stand and I’m too tired to serenade September at midnight, then I can just practice some other time. There’s no pressure, no hurry… it’s a ukulele, after all, one of the most laid back instruments in the world.

I enjoy bringing my little uke to the beach and practicing on the sand. Thankfully, it’s pretty quiet. So my fellow beach-goers can’t get too annoyed by hearing Home on the Range over and over again.

If YOU’RE looking for ways to better your life, liven up the monotony or challenge yourself to a new hobby, click here – It’s 50 Life Secrets and Tips. There’s something for everyone! Enoy!

Categories: Adventure, Beach, Florida, Music, Outdoors, Photography, Stumble Upon, Summer, Thailand, Top Knotch Gear, Travel, Ukulele, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made it to the Front Page!

We’ve kind of been MIA lately – swamped with work in our “real lives” where we own and operate a shaved ice business on the beach. We moved from Michigan to Florida last June to buy Beach Snoballs – an artisan shaved ice shop across the street from the Gulf of Mexico in Treasure Island, Florida. I know, rough life, right? Spring breakers and tourists have consumed us this month but today, we made it to the FRONT PAGE of the local beach newspaper! The Pinellas Beaches Patch interviewed us and took some great pictures of our storefront and of us shaving/making a customer’s snoball. Click here to read our article!

Photo credit: Rachel Jolley of the Pinellas Beaches Patch

And a little side note: The businesses around Treasure Island are having a contest for Best Customer Service on the Beach. Beach Snoballs has made it to the Elite 8 but we need VOTES to move on to the next round. If you would be willing to take a few seconds to click the link below and vote for BEACH SNOBALLS in the contest, we would greatly appreciate your support.

You don’t have to have visited our shop before to vote – anyone can vote! And you can submit votes from multiple devices (phones, laptops, desktops, iPads, etc.). So the more votes we can accumulate between now and Monday at noon, the better! THANK YOU to all!

Categories: Beach, Beach Snoballs, Family, Florida, Food, News, Ocean, Outdoors, Photography, Planning vacation, Random, Summer, Summer Desserts, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Travel, Travel Tips, Trip planning, United States, Vegan, Vegetarian, Water, World Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why We Love Florida

Moving to Florida (we bought a beachside business on the Gulf) has been absolutely fantastic. Besides having a great starting location for our travels with easy access to the Caribbean, Mexico, Cuba and Central America, it’s warm even in the winter, we get an abundance of Vitamin D, there are palm trees and grapefruit trees in our back yard and the wildlife is awesome. We’re both from the midwest (Michigan and Pennsylvania), so the tropical flora and fauna are very exotic to us. (How often can you just pull off at a roadside park and see live gators!?). If you have never been to Florida or are looking for great location for a getaway, we highly recommend the Sunshine State. Oh, and stop by our shop – Beach Snoballs – on Treasure Island – we’d love to meet you!

This is a picture I took while we were moving into our new house – I found this little guy crawling on our mailbox!

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Backpacking, Beach, Beach Snoballs, Explore, Family, Florida, Food, Landscape Photograph, Nature, Ocean, Outdoors, Photography, Planning vacation, Plants and Flowers, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Travel, Travel Photography, Travel Tips, United States, Water, Wild, World Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Life’s a Beach

Check out this treasury on Etsy called Life’s a Beach! It’s all beach-related art by artists from all over the world! Excited for summer yet??

Categories: Adventure, Art, Beach, Black and Blue, Bracelet, Etsy, Explore, Family, Gear, Jewelry, Landscape Photograph, Ocean, Outdoors, Photography, Pinterest, Plants and Flowers, SCUBA Diving, Top Knotch Gear, Travel, Travel Photography, Water, white and blue, World Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Because You Can’t See It…

…doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Categories: Backpacking, Beach, Conservation, Earth Day, Explore, Green Living, Nature, Sustainability, Top Knotch Gear, Travel, Water | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Categories: Accessories, Adventure, Africa, Asia, Australia, Backpacking, Beach, Camping, Canada, Caves, Chile, China, Circumnavigation, Europe, Explore, Globetrotting, Latin America, Mountains, National Parks, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Plants and Flowers, Rock Climbing, South America, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Trails, Travel, Trek, Wild | Leave a comment

10 Extreme Adventures!

Back in September, MSNBC Travel did an article on 10 extreme adventures – everything from shark bating to helicopter safaris! How many of these crazy vacations would YOU take?

10 Extreme Adventures:

  1. Go shark-bating (we don’t support this one*)
  2. Dive in an exosuit
  3. Go drag racing
  4. Take a helicopter safari
  5. Rescue training school
  6. Bulldoze something
  7. Go street-luging
  8. Drive a tank
  9. Try stunt training
  10. Fly a MiG over Russia

Go street-luging!

Take a helicopter safari!

*After researching some pictures to accompany MSNBC’s list, we were really turned off by shark-bating. We learned that there are some French Islander fishing techniques that use live dogs as bait – the pictures are very sad and we do not support these practices. What are your thoughts?

Categories: Adventure, Africa, Airplanes, Animals, Backpacking, Beach, Explore, Extreme Vacation/Adventures, Family, Florida, Helicopter Safari, Law Enforcement, Nature, Ocean, Outdoors, Planning vacation, Police, Russia, SCUBA Diving, Sharks, Summer, Top Knotch Gear, Transportation, Travel, Travel Tips, Trek, Trip planning, United States, Wild | Tags: , , | 2 Comments


I’m not much of a rules-follower. I prefer to live life by my own set of instructions and work at my own pace (usually a fast pace without reading any directions). In high school (I went to boarding school for 3 years), I dated the director of my dorm. It was a major breach in the code of ethics but I couldn’t help it. It was adventurous, I was in love and I was determined to get what I want. To make everything even more scandalous (in my parents eyes, anyway), my dorm director was a girl! (And yes, we’re still together 7 years later). In college, prerequisites were merely someone’s suggestions as to how to spend my money and credits, and I would acknowledge those suggestions and then quickly ignore them. Who has time to take math classes they don’t need? While everyone was thinking about summer internships, I decided it’d be fun to work for the Parks & Rec., usually cleaning up garbage and poop from the public restroom. So it’s no surprise (to me, anyway), that after graduating from a great university, while everyone else I knew was applying to med school or getting accepted into graduate school (and planning on actually using their undergraduate degrees), that I decided to plan a trip around the world with my best friend and partner. I get my jollies out of living life unconventionally.

My girlfriend September (yes, that’s her real name), and I don’t like to be held down. We tend to move apartments every year, change jobs often and if something big and crazy comes along, we’re usually game. I think of myself as adaptable, pretty willing to try new things (unless it’s weird food) and that nothing is permanent… so who’s up for an adventure?!

Our most recent adventure involved purchasing a shaved ice business on the Gulf side of Florida (in Treasure Island, about 10 minutes from St. Petersburg) with 2 other members of September’s family. Our lease in Michigan was about to expire and we were hesitant to renew. Ironically, I had quit my job at Home Depot about 4 weeks earlier and September was looking to leave her (very stable) job at a state university. The possibility of owning this shaved ice beach business couldn’t have come at a better time in our lives. Within a week, the family had purchased the business and settled on a closing date. Sep and I eagerly volunteered for the adventure of running the stand full time, thus packing up our lives, selling our stuff and making the 20-hour drive to our new home in Florida. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing or what we were getting into. It was the middle of the summer (the peak season for shaved ice in Florida) and we had never run a brick-and-mortar business before (we have an online business selling survival bracelets but that’s a different story). Sure, Sep has a MBA but she never planned on actually using it! And I have a degree in kinesiology, so my training would be worthless.

The first weeks were awful. We were more stressed than we had ever been in our lives and we often cried before bed. We worked 15-hour days, 7 days a week, with no end in sight. We kept reminding ourselves that this was an adventure (as I tattooed on my right foot a week before we moved – another thing my parents told me not to do) and we embrace the unknown. Then, after a month or so, we started to get the hang of new lives. It’s hard to complain about life when you work across from the Gulf of Mexico, when you can watch the sunset every night or have citrus trees growing right in your own yard with built in breakfast. Besides, I remind September, we’re really close to Cuba now… and while it’s illegal for Americans to go there, I really think we should try to find a way.

Categories: Adventure, Backpacking, Beach, Beach Snoballs, Circumnavigation, Explore, Family, Florida, Food, Globetrotting, Love, Packing, Top Knotch Gear, Travel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transparent Kayaks

Ever wonder what you’re gliding over when you go kayaking? These special kayaks (and canoes) are made with the same materials as bullet proof glass and have completely transparent bottoms. Get a workout, enjoy the outdoors and observe the ecosystems below you as you paddle through the water. If we had an extra $2,500, we’d definitely get one of these!

Click the picture for more information

Categories: Adventure, Backpacking, Beach, Circumnavigation, Explore, Family, Florida, Globetrotting, Kayaking, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Planning vacation, Snorkeling, Trails, Transportation, Travel, Travel Photography, Water | 4 Comments

Essential Packing List for India

Travel Tip Tuesday: If you’re traveling to India (or would like to in the future), check out Candace Rardon’s Essential Packing List on Matador. It’s full of helpful tips, things to expect and gear to bring on your journey. While your own packing list may vary depending on the places you’ll visit and activities on your itinerary, Rardon’s list gives a great breakdown on some of the most important items. But don’t forget the #1 item we recommend bringing… your CAMERA!!

Picture courtesy of Vagabondish

Categories: Adventure, Asia, Backpacking, Beach, Bright colors, Camping, Circumnavigation, Explore, Gear, Globetrotting, India, Mountains, Nature, Parachute Cord, Paracord, Photography, Planning vacation, Rock Climbing, Survival gear, Top Knotch Gear, Tourist Site, Trails, Travel, Travel help, Travel Tips, Trip planning | Leave a comment

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