Parade of Lights

Oh how I love small town events!  I was recently in Chinook, MT for their parade of lights.  First thing in the morning I met some new friends at the old sugar beet factory to work on one of the floats.  Christmas music was playing, people were giggling, and power tools were buzzing.  The framework was completed earlier by the same guys who made the homestead float for the wild west parade.  Three hours and two warm up in the car sessions later (I may be a Montana girl at heart, but my body quickly reminded me I live in Florida now), we stood back to admire the twinkling lights of the float.

Now that the float was done, it was time to wonder Main Street and mingle with all the wonderful vendors.  They were selling everything from local food to handmade jewelry to Christmas wreaths.  Of course there were several guns being raffled as well.  It is Montana after all!

Chinook Christmas Stroll

Chinook Christmas Stroll

Waiting for the parade to start, I checked out the festival of trees.  My mom and aunt donated a decorated “chicken” tree including several dozen fresh eggs from their chickens.  All proceeds from the event went to the local volunteer fire department and PAWS.

The Chicken Tree

The Chicken Tree

The main event of the day was the parade.  The floats included everything from local business promotions to teasing a local for turning 50.  I patiently waited for the float I helped with to come by.  It was almost the very last in the parade.  The theme of the float was “join the church crowd” so it stopped at each corner where people would jump on the float or walk alongside it handing out glow bracelets to the kids.  I loved that this church used the parade as an outreach opportunity!

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Join The Church Crowd

Join The Church Crowd

On The Float

On The Float

A Dreamy Afternoon

I had a blast last weekend with my sweet friend from www.diaryofafrancophone.com!  I played DJ as we took the scenic drive along 30A between Destin and Panama City Beach, FL.  We sang along to The Beach Boys and Taylor Swift and everything in between.  There is just something about road tripping with your girls that can turn any grown woman into an goofy teenager full of hope and excitement.

There are so many little treasures to be found on the back roads and this one did not disappoint!  There are several adorable beach communities that dot the road, each with their own charm and personality.

Entrance to Alys Beach

Entrance to Alys Beach

Inside one of the towers at Alys Beach

Inside one of the towers at Alys Beach

All that singing on the drive made us hungry, so we were on the hunt for a great lunch spot.  We had heard of this place called Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet and decided to check it out.  I searched for it in my GPS and burst out giggling when the results came in.  One day and 19 hours!  What!!! I don’t think we are going to make it back to work in time!

We did find Grayt Grounds to be only about 15 minutes from where we were.  We both fell in love with it and can’t wait to go back!  The food was phenomenal and the garden was magical.  There were hidden surprises everywhere you looked and it just begged to be explored.  The property is inspired by Claude Monet’s property in France.

Garden at Monet Monet

Garden at Monet Monet

I don't why I thought the face this lion was making was hilarious, but I did

I don’t why I thought the face this lion was making was hilarious, but I did

We made our way back to Seaside and stumbled upon the Seaside Plein Air Artists Colony Invitational (www.pleinairseaside.com).  It was so fun strolling through the peaceful grounds watching artists capture the moment so gracefully!  My favorite artist participating is JJ Zanetta.  Go check out his work at www.zanettaillustration.com!  His paintings of Pittsburg are my favorite, so full of passion and life.

For me, the best part of the day was connecting with some incredible people.  I don’t know how often this happens to you, but we had three people randomly open up to us and share their dreams and aspirations.  It was so fun getting excited with them and encouraging them in any way we could.

I think sometimes we forget that our dreams aren’t just about us.  We have gifts and talents so that we can bless others, not to make us feel better about our shortcomings.  Using your gifts is a responsibility, not just an opportunity.  And, I’m not just saying that because our first new friend plans to open a restaurant featuring local ingredients. 😉   Our other new friends shared with us their artistic aspirations!  I can’t wait to see all of their dreams come to life!  What’s that dream you’ve been afraid of pursuing?