Find Your Next Adventure at the Tallahassee Museum

Conquer your fears and find adventure in the treetops of Tallahassee, Florida.

If you live in the Tallahassee area and heard an ear-splitting scream on February 18th, 2022, I am sorry.

I’m not afraid of heights, per se, but I am definitely not…comfortable with them. And when a group of friends and I decided to take an adventure to the Tallahassee Museum on a sunny morning this past semester, I had to muster up some serious courage and face my almost-fears.

The Tallahassee Museum offers fun for all ages, especially adventure seekers. When a friend offered to take us through the ziplines and ropes courses, we jumped on the opportunity. My friends and I were sick of sitting in front of a computer all day—we wanted the sun on our skin and the wind on our faces. So naturally, the Tallahassee Museum was our best option.

The Tallahassee Museum’s Tree-to-Tree Adventures includes three different ropes courses varying in difficulty and height. Each course is interspersed with ropes obstacles and ziplines. We were lucky enough to climb and zip through the largest course, which included 25 obstacles and 16 ziplines.

And let me tell you—this treetop excursion is no joke. These courses are sometimes several stories above the ground, whether you are ziplining or jumping across swinging logs. Not to fear! The museum staff are all amazingly kind and take their safety precautions very seriously. Our guide strapped us in our safety harnesses and gave us thorough instructions. After trying the low-risk safety courses, we were ready to go.

As we were approaching the beginning of the course, my heart was racing, my blood was pumping, and my palms were sweating under the thick protective gloves. I slowly climbed up the ladder with steady precision. Every muscle in my body was taut, doing everything in my power not to fall.

Even if I did stumble, I knew I wouldn’t drop 20 feet and become a human-sized splat on the roof of the eagle enclosure. Thanks to the extensive safety precautions, my carabiner and other rigging would have caught me immediately. But this assuring information did nothing to calm my nerves.

And despite all my worries and efforts, I failed. I didn’t just fall, I fell spectacularly, shrieking and laughing all at the same time (just ask my friend Hannah Grace). I’m sure it echoed for miles—or at least it did in my head. I hung on for dear life in the middle of an aerial obstacle, my hands clutching the rigging above me and my heels clinging to the moving wooden plank below me. My body was a straight board hanging horizontally from the course (the one time we didn’t get a picture!). With encouragement from my guide and friends, I muscled my way upright. I quickly laughed off my slight embarrassment and my previous fear magically disappeared. I knew that I would most likely fall again, but I wasn’t afraid. I felt confident that no matter how many times I fell, I could always pull myself up.

After that, the course was an absolute breeze. We were able to zipline over woods, trails, and wildlife enclosures, offering us a unique tour of the museum. I envisioned my favorite fantasy fiction warrior and lived out my childhood dreams as I leaped from log to log. We soared between the cypress trees and over lakeside marshes, the wind in our hair and big smiles on our red faces.

These courses offer breathtaking views that you can only see by ziplining.

If zip lines and ropes courses aren’t for you, the Tallahassee Museum offers many more activities. They have children and adult education programs and guided tours of the property that teach about the natural history and local wildlife. The museum has several collections and exhibits, including Wildlife Florida, Old Florida, Big Bend Farm, and Natural Florida.

The Wildlife Florida exhibit offers patrons a glimpse of intriguing animals such as a panther, a cougar, a red wolf, a black bear, and many more! Old Florida allows patrons to tour a schoolhouse from the 1800s, a train caboose from the 1920s, and other historical locations. The Big Bend Farm gives an inside look at life on a rural farm from the 1880s. The Natural Florida nature trail is a peaceful half-mile loop near Lake Hiawatha where you can admire local flora and fauna.

The Tallahassee Museum is perfect for a one-day summer adventure. Find more information at their website, located here.

A special thank you to our friend Austin! Austin, you’re such a fun friend and we are lucky to have you.

Enjoy this footage of my friends ziplining and my February recap.


mini month was my favorite so far 💗🕺#february

♬ I love you so – spam – block

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. Don’t forget to like and comment! I would love to read about your adventures!

My 2021 Wrapped

As 2021 comes to a close, I want to revisit the places I traveled to this year. I am so grateful and blessed to be able to safely travel during the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s dive in! 

Crescent Beach, FL

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, FSU announced that they would not have a traditional spring break. No Spring Break ’21? No problem! As a teacher, my mom had a spring break vacation and rented a quiet condo for a week at Crescent Beach, Florida. Crescent Beach might be one of my favorite beaches in the Sunshine State! While still offering the Atlantic Ocean waves, it lacks the Daytona bustle and noise. I took my online classes via Zoom on the balcony while listening to the waves and watching wild bunnies hop around the dunes. It was picturesque! Crescent Beach is only a short drive from downtown St. Augustine, making it the perfect location for a relaxing day on the beach and a dazzling night out.

Em’s Adventure: trying crab legs for the first time! 

St. George Island, FL

One of the cutest beaches I have been to! For anyone living in or near Florida’s panhandle, go visit St. George Island. My friends and I took a day trip from Tallahassee to St. George at the end of our finals week as a reward. St. George Island is a quaint and endearing little beach town complete with a local ice cream joint and a lighthouse. Sunbathe, body surf, or take a relaxing walk along St. George’s peaceful coastline.

Em’s Adventure: the beautiful mixture of woods and water on the drive over!


The Natural State! Arkansas is truly a natural beauty. I have very close family friends that moved to Arkansas a couple of years ago and my mom and I love to visit them from time to time. Arkansas is full of breathtaking mountain views, rushing waterfalls, and rolling hills. We hiked in the Ozark Mountain range, chased waterfalls, and took a day trip to the historical city of Hot Springs. Arkansas is a wonderful combination of farming flatlands, paved cities, and thrilling mountains. I plan on writing an in-depth article about my beloved Arkansas in the near future. Stay tuned!

Em’s Adventure: getting lost while looking for Pam’s Grotto!

North Captiva Island, FL

AKA Tropical Paradise! This week in oasis marked the end of my summer adventures and the beginning of school. Everything about this trip was amazing ­– dolphins playing in the surf, the wind hitting my cheeks on a boat ride, reading a good book on the beach, moonlit golf cart rides – it was one of the best trips of the year! You can find more information about North Captiva Island in my blog post, “Completely Captivated,” linked here!

Em’s Adventure: making new friends and new memories! 

Mystic Falls

Mystic Falls, AKA Covington, Georgia, made my Vampire Diaries loving heart so happy. Covington was a major film site for the hit CW show, The Vampire Diaries, and is open for visitors! Fans can find multiple buildings from the show, like The Mystic Grill – a fully functioning (and yummy!) restaurant, the clocktower, Elena Gilbert’s house, and many others. If you want more information about my Mystic Falls trip, check out my article, “Falling In Love With Mystic Falls,” linked here!

Em’s Adventure: eating dinner on the rooftop of the Mystic Grill.  

New Hampshire and Massachusetts

My trip to New England was my favorite trip from 2021! We visited some dear family friends in New Hampshire and enjoyed the chilly weather – a huge change from sunny Florida. My mom and I packed our winter clothes and flew up north to brace the cold. There were so many historical downtowns that looked straight out of a postcard, especially Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There were brick-lined streets and alleys with cozy coffee shops and restaurants. These towns fulfilled all of my Gilmore Girls dreams – I even saw a Daughters of the American Revolution painting at a local used bookstore. (Emily Gilmore, where are you?) We visited Cambridge, Massachusetts, and acted like complete tourists on the Harvard campus. We were also able to drive through downtown Boston and stare in awe at the sleek skyscrapers (making me miss NYC! Hopefully, I can visit soon!). This trip was everything and more ­– the amazing company, the wonderful weather, the historical small towns, and the overall cozy feel made me fall in love. I will definitely be returning (and writing an article soon)!

Em’s Adventure: it’s a tie between a hectic travel day to Manchester, NH (a story for another time) and getting lost inside the Harvard Bookstore! 

Safety Harbor, FL

I visited the adorable town of Safety Harbor, Florida with my mom and my cousin in the middle of December. We stayed two nights and three days at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, a historic and elegant resort with a fully functioning and pampering spa. Safety Harbor Resort and Spa first opened in 1925, leaving behind some timeless charm in every room. Not only did we enjoy the Florida “winter” by the pool, but we also were able to take part in the 3rd Friday Street Celebration! On every third Friday of the month, downtown Safety Harbor closes its Main Street and celebrates with food vendors, street booths, and live music. This weekend was the perfect getaway!

Em’s Adventure: experiencing my first facial! 

2021 was a remarkable year for me. Not only did I take fun trips, but I also made quality memories with loved ones and grew as an individual. Many things happened off-screen that shaped me as a person and I will forever be grateful for every single experience, good and bad. Though this post looks like a highlight reel, 2021 wasn’t always sunshine and smiles for me and I know it wasn’t for others, either. I’m not saying to ignore the dark days, but let’s cherish the bright moments in our lives. Let’s use both the good and the bad to build on for our futures. I can’t wait to see where I go and the people I meet in 2022. 

Happy New Year from Adventures With Em! Thank you for all your love and support this year! 

Where did you travel in 2021? Let me know in the comments! 

Fall In Love With Mystic Falls: The Real Town Behind The Vampire Diaries

Covington, Georgia, is the perfect small town for an autumn day trip, especially if you’re a fan of the hit CW show, The Vampire Diaries.

Covington is a small town nestled in the northwest region of Georgia, just a four-hour drive from Tallahassee, Florida. Don’t be fooled by the southern charm, though: vampires are lurking around every corner! Covington, Georgia is a major film location for the CW show, The Vampire Diaries. My roommates and I have talked about driving to Covington for over a year but we’ve never made the time to go. Finally, I took a day trip with some friends to visit “Mystic Falls” and enjoy the fall Georgia weather, and I’m so glad I did!

The Covington town square is home to the most beloved and well-known Vampire Diaries location – the clock tower! The beautiful red brick tower overlooks a small courtyard with several maple leaf trees and benches, giving a cozy fall feel. Across the street from the clock tower is another well-known Vampire Diaries hangout, the Mystic Grill. The Mystic Grill is mentioned in almost every episode and is a functioning restaurant. The inside of the grill doesn’t look like the show, but the outside is straight from the screen. 

The food at the Mystic Grill is to die for! Every meal is cooked fresh and nothing is frozen. The staff is kind, welcoming, and helpful and the atmosphere is warm and lush. It’s a little on the pricier side (at least for my college-student budget), but it’s worth it. If you go, make sure to ask for a rooftop table. The roof has an amazing view of the clock tower and the entire square. It’s a perfect picture spot! Once you arrive at Covington Square, I recommend going to the grill and adding your name to the list right away. Because of Vampire Diaries, it’s a very popular place and our wait was two-plus hours. Another key tip: make sure to eat at the Mystic Grill before going to the Vampire Diaries gift shop. Bring your dinner receipt and you can get 10% off! 

Underneath the Mystic Grill lies The Alley Gift Shop and Mystic Museum. The gift shop offers cool souvenirs and fandom products. There are candles based on different Vampire Diaries characters, Mystic Grill staff shirts (like the one Matt Donovan wears in the show!), and even daylight rings (rings for vampires – a true TVD fan knows). I recommend finding a t-shirt from a small business online because The Alley’s selection wasn’t great and wasn’t cheap. They also sell vervain and other little trinkets for die-hard fans, like samples of “the cure” or vampire blood. When checking out, you can ask to purchase a blood bag. Seriously! Complete your Vampire Diaries experience by drinking from a blood bag and taking a picture in front of the clock tower. Don’t worry, it’s just Kool-Aid. 

The back room of The Alley serves as a Mystic Museum where many costumes and props from The Vampire Diaries are on display. Most of them are even signed by the cast. My favorite item was Stefan’s old football jersey that was signed by Paul Wesley. 

The rest of the square is home to cute boutiques, stores, restaurants, and coffee shops, fulfilling the small-town charm. My favorite shops were The Soap Box and Scoops. The Soap Box is a bathing goods store with natural and handmade soaps, scrubs, and bath bombs. I’m a sucker for good-smelling, good-quality soaps at a fair price, so you know I got my mom and me some! They also sell cute car freshies in their signature scents. The Soap Box has an entire section dedicated to the vampire fandom which includes “blood” body wash, a “blood” bath bomb, and vampire candles. You can find their website here.

Scoops is a local ice-cream parlor with fun flavors and other sweet treats. They have a variety of old-school candy, fudge, chocolate-covered snacks, and caramel apples (my favorite). The store was decorated in bright colors and lively Halloween decorations, making it look like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. My roommate said it best, “You know it’s a great place when you see dads walk out of it with full bags of candy.”

The Vampire Diaries isn’t the only show filmed in Covington. Famous films and shows such as Remember the TitansSweet Magnolias, and In the Heat of the Night were also filmed there. Similar to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Covington has its very own Walk of Stars. On sidewalks around the town are the names of famous actors and actresses that starred in movies or shows filmed in Covington. My friends and I found Nina Dobrev’s and Paul Wesley’s, two stars in Vampire Diaries

Elena Gilbert’s house (the main character from Vampire Diaries) is a short walk from the town square. It is now a private residence, so please respect the owner’s privacy, but you can still walk past her house and pretend you’re living the Vampire Diaries’ dream. A few houses down is Caroline Forbes’s house, and a street over is the Lockwood Mansion! I advise parking at the square and walking to the houses so you can take your time. 

Covington, Georgia is an amazing spot for a fall day trip, but I strongly recommend planning something else on your itinerary. It is a must-see for any die-hard Vampire Diaries fan, but it doesn’t take up your entire day. My friends and I decided to drive to Truett’s Luau, a Hawaiian-themed Chick-Fil-A about an hour east of Covington. It was such a fun and festive take on the Chick-Fil-A I’m used to! Truett’s Luau offers a tropical setting and unique menu items, like sweet-potato waffle fries, chicken or fish tacos, island chicken nuggets, and bubble tea. 

Visiting “Mystic Falls” is one of my favorite college trips so far. I’m so grateful for the laughter shared and the memories made! Not only was Covington enjoyable, but the drive up from Florida to Georgia was beautiful. Seeing the leaves change and begin to fall as we drove north put me in a festive fall mood. Walking around the film locations, sipping from a blood bag, and taking pictures in front of the famous clocktower was a mystical adventure. If you’re a Vampire Diaries fan, or just want a fun fall-themed trip, visit Covington, Georgia! You’re bound to have a fang-tastic time. 

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The Best Locally Owned Restaurants in Tallahassee, Florida

Impress your parents this Parents’ Weekend by taking them to the best eats in Tallahassee.

Whether this is your first Parents’ Weekend or your last, you don’t want to take your mom to Guthrie’s on a Friday night (maybe your dad, but that’s a case-to-case basis). Take them to a charming café or a fancier restaurant – if Dad’s paying, let’s go all out! If you’re struggling on finding a perfect place to eat this weekend, here are my top favorites (not in any specific order):

Jeri’s Midtown Cafe

Jeri’s is a cute and charming café with a friendly atmosphere. This café is the perfect place for brunch or lunch! They offer soups, salads, and sandwiches all with a little twist. They offer indoor and outdoor seating, so feel free to bring a furry friend. Jeri’s has a one-of-a-kind menu that has something for everyone. They have a drink menu for a Saturday or Sunday brunch and bring you complimentary pimento cheese and crackers. Jeri’s also has gluten-free and vegan options. Order ice coffee or a latte from Argonaut Coffee, located directly upstairs! Argonaut is a somewhat new coffee shop in Tallahassee and is my personal favorite. The restaurants work together to bring you the best experience, so you can order Argonaut Coffee from your table inside Jeri’s. I recommend trying their grits and apple butter – it’s to dieeee for. Jeri’s is located in Midtown and shares the building with other businesses such as Izzy Pub and Sushi (which I have yet to try!), Argonaut Coffee, and Midtown Reader (my favorite bookstore of all time!). 

Em’s Fav: The TAB sandwich, a side of apple butter and grits, and a sugar-free caramel ice latte – or a mimosa (if I’m feeling bubbly).


Midtown Caboose

Midtown Caboose is for the burger lovers and the football fans. It is a family-friendly American restaurant with innovative burgers, sandwiches, and salads. On football weekends they play popular games on their many monitors. Midtown Caboose is famous for their peanut butter and jelly hamburger – yes, you read that right. I personally haven’t tried it (yet), but many people have told me it’s surprisingly good. Midtown Caboose offers many other award-winning signature burgers, ranging from sweet to spicy. They also have gluten-free options.

Em’s Fav: Robbie’s Revenge sandwich with sweet potato fries.


Photo borrowed from the Midtown Caboose Instagram page, @midtowncaboose

Hopkin’s Eatery

Hopkin’s is a beloved Tallahassee staple with three locations in the city. It’s a better, homemade version of Panera with a Mom-and-Pop feel. Hopkin’s is the perfect lunch spot! They offer hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and salads all made with fresh ingredients. Their north location offers a gluten-free bread option. Hopkins’ also makes the best dessert! What makes them unique is their mint sweet tea – I strongly recommend it.

Em’s Fav: The turkey sauté sandwich with mint sweet tea.



Don’t be fooled by the name, Hobbit isn’t a folksy Lord of the Rings themed restaurant (though that would be amazing). The famous Hobbit character may be its namesake, but the restaurant is a classic American grill with amazing wings and hamburgers. There are three locations in the Tallahassee area, but my favorite is on Pensacola Street about half a mile away from Doak Campbell Stadium. They have multiple screens always playing different sports games and events. The environment feels like a local Beef-O-Brady’s with a warmer and more genuine quality. You can sometimes find football players eating a late dinner there after a home game. It’s a Tallahassee staple!

Em’s Fav: Honey mustard wings with tater tots.


La Tiendita Mexican Restaurant

If you’re craving Hispanic food, La Tiendita is the perfect place for you. Located near Midtown off of Monroe Street, La Tiendita serves authentic and amazing food in a quaint and colorful setting. They offer indoor and outdoor seating as well as a Mexican cuisine or Brazilian cuisine menu. La Tiendita also has a store inside the restaurant that sells Brazilian and Mexican candy. If you’re 21 or older, I recommend their mojitos!

Em’s Fav: Enchiladas rojas with chicken and a mojito.


Backwoods Crossing

Last, but definitely not least, is Backwoods Crossing, a gourmet restaurant serving fresh farm-to-table goodness. It’s the priciest restaurant on this list, but it is worth every penny! The owners of Backwoods Crossing grow their own produce on their farm as well as source their ingredients locally. Their menu is full of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and seafood options. Backwoods Crossing dishes are exquisite, original, and progressive. If you are looking to dazzle your parents and get a good meal, Backwoods Crossing is the place to be! It is outside of Capital Circle and resides in a quieter part of Tallahassee. Check out their website! You can see cute pictures of their farm, hens, and their garden cat, Athena.

Em’s Fav: Any of their seafood options – it’s all amazing! And their sweet potato mash.


Photo borrowed from https://www.backwoodscrossing.com/gallery?pgid=it0vkhcv-972e1066-6ca9-486d-a76a-ffe7cfb4b886

I hope one of these restaurants is a perfect fit for you and your family! When you’re eating lunch or dinner, remember the real adventure isn’t the food you’re eating, but rather the people you’re with. Savor time with your loved ones like the best dessert!

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5 Game Day Traditions at Florida State University


Florida State football is well known for their game day traditions. As a full-fledged Florida State fan myself, I grew up doing the Tomahawk Chop and listening to the War Chant. Watching Chief Osceola spear the field while riding Renegade last Sunday meant college football was back, baby! In order to start football season off right, here are my favorite, some perhaps lesser-known, Florida State football traditions.

Watch the Skull Session

Two hours before kickoff, music spanning from today’s hits to classic jams can be heard from the Florida State baseball stadium. The Marching Chiefs warm up in front of a small crowd on the Mike Martin Field before every home game. Each section warms up with a different song before they come together. It’s free to watch and is the perfect way to get in the game day mood!

Visit the Sod Cemetery

The Sod Cemetery is my favorite Florida State Football tradition. Next to the Dick Howser Stadium is a small fenced “graveyard” containing soil from other colleges’ football fields. This spooky yet spirited tradition started in 1962. When the football team plays an away game in which they are the underdog, they are only slightly favored, or they are against a big rival, the players rip a chunk of grass and dirt from the field after a victory. The small piece of sod travels back home to Tallahassee to be joyfully buried in the legendary Sod Cemetery. When one of the conquered teams visit Doak Campbell Stadium, the cemetery-keeper lays flowers down on their respective graves. Last week, FSU played Notre Dame. I stopped by to pay my respects to the Sod Cemetery and saw a couple of blue and yellow bouquets on headstones.

Say Hello to Chief Osceola and Renegade

Chief Osceola and Renegade are Florida State’s most beloved mascots! Florida State is closely partnered with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure genuine and respectful presentations of the Seminole culture. To honor the only Native American tribe to never be conquered by the U.S. Government, FSU selects a well-rounded student to represent Chief Osceola at football games. This student wears traditional clothing sewn by the women of the Seminole Tribe. He rides the Appaloosa horse named Renegade on the field during the pregame show. Osceola carries a burning spear while riding around the field, inspiring awe in the stands. The entire stadium shakes as Osceola spears the middle of the field before the game starts. I get chills every single time!

But did you know you can visit them before the pregame starts? Walk around the first floor of the stadium to the north side and you can watch Renegade being prepped for his legendary ride. As a young child, it was so much fun seeing him before he took the field. It felt like I was a part of the FSU tradition.

Take a Picture With the Garnet and Gold Guys

If you see two college guys walking around the stadium covered head to toe in red and yellow glitter, don’t be alarmed. For Florida State, this is completely normal. The Garnet and Gold Guys are a Florida State tradition started in 1998 by the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. If you’re sitting in the student section, make sure to get a picture with them during the game! They stand the entire game at the front of the student section. Keep an eye for them on ESPN as they watch the game; they have the funniest reactions. As a member of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, I have had the honor of befriending several of the Garnet and Gold Guys during the past couple of years. They are incredibly kind! Getting your picture with the Garnet and Gold Guys is a must as an FSU football fan. You might even see them riding to the game on their tandem bicycle. Wave and tell them I said hello!

High Five and Sing the Fight Song With the Players

After a Florida State victory, make your way toward the south end zone. The players pray and jovially congratulate each other after the game. They sing the Fight Song with the fans and give them high-fives over the railing. This is my mom’s favorite tradition! It is a great way to feel connected with the team. If you’re special (or just a super adorable little kid) a player might even give his gloves to you.

Even if you’re not a Florida State fan, I encourage you to partake in these traditions if you’re in town. American football is incredibly unique in how it brings people of all backgrounds together. Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Notre Dame football game (where we almost won). It was my first in-person football game in a long, long time. Doak Campbell Stadium was filled to the top during every quarter. The stadium shook with noise and movement. The feeling of excitement and hope in all the fans was indescribable. The energy in the student section is unparalleled. I’m not necessarily a huge football fan in general, but I love how football brings people together. The adventure at college football games isn’t the game itself: it’s being a small part of something big. These traditions are dear to my heart, and I hope that one day that will be dear to yours, too.

The student section at Doak Campbell Stadium.

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6 Book Recommendations for 6 Different Genres

Here are my book recommendations for six different genres, spanning from romantic comedy to historical fiction and everything in between. There’s a book here for everyone.

Mystery: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a popular novel set in the 1950s – 1960s marshlands of North Carolina. The story twists and turns to uncover the murder of the small town’s golden boy, Chase Andrews. Every finger points to the infamous “Marsh Girl,” Kya. She was shunned and overlooked by society when she was a child. Kya learned independence, survival, and love while living apart from people – so why would she be responsible for killing Chase? This novel is especially unique due to the amount of detail and authenticity poured into the setting. Before she became an author, Owens was a zoologist who predominantly focused on marshland habitat. Owens writes a slow burning and captivating mystery that touches on racism, sexism, and classism in the southern United States. This novel is full of intense anticipation, everything honing down to the last page – literally.

Literary Fiction: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Rooney’s second novel is as if someone took a great romantic comedy and flipped it on its head. Normal People follows the story of two lovers, Connell and Marianne, and how they navigate their tumultuous on again off again relationship over the course of several years. It’s gritty, brash, and uncomfortable. Connell and Marianne are the weirdest “normal people” you will ever meet – but aren’t we all? This novel is incredibly real, which is the main reason I fell in love with it. Rooney’s quirky writing style makes this novel stand out from others. Normal People isn’t just about their relationship, but it focuses on who they are as individuals and how their past experiences have shaped them as people. Also, Normal People was adapted into Hulu show in 2020. If you’re a hopeless romantic, this book is not for you. But if you’re sick of the happily-ever-after’s and want a sharp taste of reality, go read Normal People right now.

Romantic Comedy: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Rom-com lovers, this one’s for you! If you are on the bookish side of Tik-Tok, you have probably seen this book on your for-you-page. And for good reason. People We Meet on Vacation is based on the legendary romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. It is about two college best friends, Alex and Poppy, and their close friendship turned into something new – something witty and awkward and heartwarming. The novel flips back and forth between the past and present. It’s loving, earnest, hilarious, and most of all entertaining. I read this book on vacation in North Captiva and absolutely fell in love with it! Are Alex and Poppy meant to be together? Read it and find out!

Psychological Thriller: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You would be best described as if a crime/murder show and a touching family movie had a love child. Lydia Lee, the perfect Chinese American daughter of the Lee family, has gone mysteriously missing. Her mother and father are distraught, her brother is desperate for her return, and her little sister is in tears. Or are they? Are the Lee’s really what they seem? When Lydia’s body is found, no one has the answers. This novel is a family exposé that makes us reflect on the lies we want to believe about our loved ones. Everything I Never Told You is a fantastic example of the stress caused by xenophobia, homophobia, and sexism. It acknowledges the rigid gender and race identities set in the 1970s (that unfortunately still prevail today) and tackles them with the force of twenty-first century courage. This is a book that lingers in your mind for months. Emotionally thrilling!

Fantasy: Throne of Glass Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass is a riveting fantasy series full of magic, mischief, and adventure. It’s my favorite fantasy series of all time, which is not recognition I give lightly. There are eight books in total. Despite their daunting sizes, each book is a page turner – which isn’t something you can say about every fantasy series. The story follows legendary Celaena Sardothien, a young assassin living in the wicked country of Adarlan. There are evil kings, powerful fae warriors, blood thirsty assassins, and even a ruthless pirate. Sarah J. Maas does an incredible job with this series from start to finish. Throne of Glass takes the mystical bravado of classic fantasy and transforms it into a girl-powered, unstoppable force. I have yet to read a fantasy series that surpasses this level of excellence. If you love fantasy, you need to read it!

Historical Fiction: Circe by Madelline Miller

Circe is historical fiction with a twist. Miller takes the Greek legend of Circe, a sorceress and daughter of Helios (the sun god), and gives it a new life. This narrative retelling is heart wrenching and deeply inspiring. The novel is heavy with feminist and self-empowerment themes. Circe is about chosen family, ambition, identity, and love. Circe’s growth from a small and beaten down young girl to a strong and powerful woman is inspiring. Her journey is something I think everyone can relate to. Circe faces serious challenges most women face today and learns how to stick up for herself and be strong in the face of adversity. I strongly recommend all women and men to read this book!  

Beach Read by Emily Henry is another great romance!

I encourage you to purchase these books from your local indie bookstore or borrow them from your local library! If you’re in Tallahassee, FL, you should check out Midtown Reader AKA my favorite bookstore. If you have read any of these books, comment your opinions down below! I would love to know what you think about them. Happy reading!

Five Things I Wish I Knew as an Incoming College Freshman

Welcome to this amazing, stressful, wonderful journey called college! Buckle up for the next four (or more) years.

  1. Don’t buy your textbooks before the first day of class. You won’t need them until the second week at the earliest. And never pay the full price! Check Chegg, Amazon, or your campus bookstore for used or rentable copies. During my previous semester I bought one used textbook. That was it. Some professors will pressure you into buying them – especially if they wrote them. Other professors will be more relaxed, emailing you a (possibly illegal) PDF copy of the textbook. A lot of classes are lecture heavy, so don’t buy the book before you get a feel of the class. Trust me on this one!
  2. Get involved in SOMETHING on campus. This will make or break your college experience. There are plenty of ways to get involved in a campus organization. To find organizations you are interested in, I recommend walking around campus during the week before classes start. A lot of campus organizations and clubs refer to this as “Go Week” or “Welcome Week.” Don’t be nervous – they want you to take interest in their organization! As a student leader of a campus organization myself, my day is totally made when eager freshmen approach me with interest in joining my RSO (registered student organization). I joined the FSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry my first year at Florida State. Now, as a senior, I am the Vice President (where has the time gone?). I met several lifelong friends through BCM (including my roommates of two years and counting!) and have learned so many lessons about life, people, and Christ. If you’re an incoming freshman, I encourage you to get involved with a campus ministry, with Greek life (sororities and fraternities), student government, and other clubs (if you’re an FSU freshman, I’ll link some ways to get connected down below – GO NOLES!).
  3. Prepare yourself for parking on a college campus. Parking for my 11 AM Psychology class was the biggest test of my patience. This is a warning for all freshmen or students new to campus: PARKING IS AWFUL. If you’re living on campus, finding a parking space late at night after having dinner with your friends can be difficult. The designated overnight parking fills up fast. And yes, before you think about parking in that nice, open spot meant for day-time parking, you will get a citation. For students that are living off campus, like I do, I suggest scheduling that dreaded 8 AM class. I know it’s early. Limited parking makes you a morning person. The parking garages are going to be empty and you’ll find a parking spot quickly. I remember driving around Pensacola garage at 10 AM my freshmen year, calling my grandma on the phone and asking her to talk me down a metaphorical cliff. I’m dramatic but looking for parking sucks. There’s no way around it. Prepare yourself.
  4. Join a FIG – a Freshman Interest Group. This is the best decision I made as a college freshman! In order to get into a class I needed, my advisor recommended I join a Freshman Interest Group. A FIG is a one-hour class led by a senior or a graduate student. They give you a run-down of college life and things on campus. Your fellow FIG classmates are in at least two of your other classes, making FIGs a great way to establish friendships and find study groups. Plus, seeing a friendly face three to five times a week makes you feel less alone and more a part of the university. I met some of my best friends in my FIG! Even though we aren’t in the same classes anymore, we still make time to see each other and study.
  5. Work hard to maintain balance in your life. You’re on your own for possibly the first time in your life. Everything is exciting – you’re going out and exploring a new city with your new friends, you made a pact with your roommate to be each other’s maid-of-honor, you accidentally stayed up until 6 AM watching conspiring theory videos with people you just met, you slept through your Tuesday 8AM again, etc. Life is moves faster, the world looks brighter, and everything is yours for the taking. But don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Your new friends aren’t going to leave you if you decide to stay in. They will most likely join you at the library if you need to study for an upcoming exam. Go out, have fun, but remember to make some time in your busy schedule to reflect on yourself. To sleep. To pray. To eat – this couldn’t be more important. Fight hard to stay in the middle of the college diet spectrum. Eat healthy, balanced meals throughout the day. Visit your campus counseling services if you need professional guidance or someone to talk to (if you’re an FSU student I will link these down below). They’re here to help you! Participate in campus intramural sports or sign up for a spin class (my personal favorite). Read a book on your campus green (Landis is lovely come October). Call your parents. They miss you. And you miss them, too. Your life at college is going to be amazing and full of adventure. But make sure you stop and take the time to live it.
Check out my WELCOME TO COLLEGE Spotify playlist!

How to Get Connected at Florida State University

I’m praying for you as you start this new adventure! Cherish every moment!

Completely Captivating: Vacationing in North Captiva Island, FL

Looking for a vacation destination that is stylishly off-the-grid but not entirely separate from civilization? North Captiva Island is the perfect place. 

In late July I had the opportunity to travel to North Captiva Island, FL, with some amazing friends. This wasn’t my first visit and I can surely write that it won’t be my last. I previously visited the island six years ago and was in desperate need of a North Captiva Island reset.

My vacation started with a short and peaceful ferry ride across the Pine Island Sound. One of the unique things about North Captiva Island is the lack of cars. Golf carts are the main method of transportation on the island dirt roads. It almost felt like a tribute to The Villages, a retirement community next to my hometown where many of the residents drive golf carts instead of cars.

Riding around on a six-seater golf cart is not only fun (or maybe dangerous – depends on who is driving!) time, but it is also a special way to see the tropical foliage, blooming hibiscus flowers, and brightly painted vacation houses. Keep an eye out for gopher tortoises as they cross the road. The houses are almost as vibrant as the island itself. Each one has a splash of tropical color and a catchy name. We stayed in a blue house named Manatee Manor. Having been inside several of the houses, I can safely say they are quirky and inviting – one of them even had an old elevator!

The sunset on a boat ride through Pine Island Sound.

We saw over eight manatees on our trip. If you aren’t familiar with manatees, they are sweet and gentle ocean mammals that frequent Florida’s coastline. You can often find them lingering around marinas in search of fresh water. On the last day of our trip, we saw dolphins, sea urchins, and starfish.

If you are planning to vacation in North Captiva, I strongly recommend bringing your own boat (or renting one). One of our favorite things to do was to go island hopping. We rode the pontoon boat (a luxurious, relaxed boat style) to Cabbage Key, Cayo Costa, Captiva Island, and Boca Grande. One day, we grabbed lunch at the historic Cabbage Key Inn and Restaurant, which offers quaint island charm. As a Floridian, I would classify the restaurant as a tourist trap. The prices are a little higher than a normal bar and grille, but it was a cute stop nonetheless. Cayo Costa is a remote barrier island with lush greenery and an abundance of wildlife including shorebirds, gopher tortoises, raccoons, bobcats, and even feral pigs. I recommend anchoring on Cayo Costa’s shore and lounging beachside or floating on a tube in the pristine blue waters.  This is also a perfect place to search for seashells.

If you don’t have a boat, don’t worry. North Captiva Island has plenty of beautiful beaches! Manatee Manor was a beachfront property, allowing us private beach access, but there are multiple public beaches around the four-mile-long island. Bring a chair, an umbrella, a book, and you’re set!

Captiva Island, not to be confused with North Captiva Island, is only a short boat ride away. It is home to several island restaurants, shops, and bars – some with live music. I strongly recommend having dinner at the Bubble Room, which is a bizarre and enchanting three-story restaurant. The Bubble Room is based on Old Hollywood, Christmas, and everything fantastical. The food and drinks there are amazing! If you’re claustrophobic, I suggest walking through the restaurant before committing to dine there. The rooms and seating are very tight, but each one has its own unique and dazzling theme. The Bubble Room is a must-see!

Em’s Adventure: Making new friends in beautiful places. North Captiva Island is the perfect place to unplug and focus on what is most important: family and friends. The most beautiful thing about vacation is that no matter where you go, the memories made and the laughter shared among friends and family is what you will remember most. I am so grateful for the wonderful people I stayed with and the new friends I made. It was an amazing trip that I will never forget!

Welcome to Adventures With Em!

Hi, I’m Emilee Bryce Perdue. I am a daughter, a writer, and a friend. Like any sane person, I love dogs and the show Friends and coffee. I prefer sunrises over sunset and I use too many exclamation points in my emails. I can’t decide whether I can live without ketchup or peanut butter, so please don’t force me to make that decision. Little Women is both my favorite book and movie (it goes unsaid that I am referencing the 2019 Greta Gerwig adaption). I am earning two bachelor’s degrees not because I am overly studious, but because I am overly indecisive.

One of my favorite things to do is ask my friends (and sometimes strangers) very random, very specific questions. I find it helps me get a good idea of who they are. To properly introduce myself to you, I am going to ask myself eight very random, very specific questions.

  1. What is the best place you have ever visited? I believe that each destination I travel to makes its mark on me in some way. I hold each of my travels dear to my heart, but I think the best place I have visited (so far) is Exuma, Bahamas. I went to the island during a spring break trip in high school and I fell in love with it. Exuma had the prettiest waters and the kindest people. Exuma isn’t a tourist resort style island; it is a lush and authentic tropical fairytale. A close second to Exuma would be Chinatown in New York City. Very different but thrilling just the same! I mean, I watched a man light a fake Louis Vuitton bag on fire – and it didn’t burn. I can’t tell you why. I still think about it. Where else can I get this quality of entertainment?
  2. Who is your favorite person? My mom! Annie P is the best person on this planet. She’s my best friend. I tell her anything and everything. She is the most supportive, honest, and caring person I know. She exudes strength and showers me with love every day. Not to say we don’t have our fights, like every mother and daughter, but we always laugh it off and make up within the hour. People have told us we remind them of Lorelai and Rory from Gilmore Girls.
  3. If you could witness one moment in history, what would it be? When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for standing up for their beliefs. I would give anything to see them not burn, much to everyone else’s disbelief. And to see God in the fire with them? That is such a testament to Christianity! This was my favorite story while I was growing up in church. Even when I read it now, as an adult, I still get chills.
  4. What is your favorite thing about you? I like my nose. I can balance pencils on it.
  5. What is your go-to movie theater snack? When I was twelve years old, my dad taught me how to achieve the perfect movie-theater snack: order Milk Duds and heavily buttered popcorn, place a handful of popcorn and a Milk Dud in your mouth, and voila! The Milk Dud melts and all you taste is chocolate-y, caramel-y, butter-y goodness. Good for the soul, maybe not so much for the body.
  6. If you could only go to one more concert for the rest of your life, who would you see? Kenny Chesney! I have an incredibly odd obsession with the country singer. It’s okay, I can admit that it is a weird and unhealthy obsession. I have seen him in concert twice now and his energy never gets old. “When the Sun Goes Down” was the first song I ever knew by heart. During the hardest time of my life, the only music I had with me was Kenny Chesney’s CD Greatest Hits II. Kenny and I really bonded.
  7. What was your best birthday? It’s a tie between my tenth birthday and my twenty-first birthday. Very different birthdays. For my eighth birthday, my mom hosted a pool party with all of my friends. We had water guns and a cannon-ball contest and a slip-n-slide. It was eight-year-old heaven. Some close family friends bought me my first diving tank (hot pink, of course) and my mom made a life-sized beach ball cake. It was amazing. For my twenty-first, we threw three separate parties (or at least it felt like it!). On the night of my birthday my best friends threw me a surprise picnic at Cascades Park, in Tallahassee, Florida. It was straight from Pinterest. They even blindfolded me on the drive over (now that wasn’t especially enjoyable, but the selfie we took was worth the confusion.). I had never experienced so many people wanting to truly celebrate me and show their love for me. I’m so grateful for them.  
  8. What is the last life-changing book you read? Ah, life-changing? For an avid reader like me, it’s hard to pin down the last life-changing book I read. Some novels that have stuck around my subconscious lately are Daisy Jones and the Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid), People We Meet on Vacation (Emily Henry), Circe (Madeline Miller), Normal People (Sally Rooney), Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng), and Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens). But if I had to choose one, I would say The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green has refreshed my outlook on life. Green writes several essays – or reviews – on humanity. He starts with random, pointless facts that will rattle in my brain forever and turns them into poetic and heartfelt lessons, all in a way only Green could manage. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who feels like the world has turned into a dark and ugly place, especially in the past two years. This book doesn’t change that, but it does make the good things shine a little brighter.

I understand that this “Introduction to Me” article might have been one of the most chaotic things you have ever read.  If you liked it despite the chaos, good. If you didn’t, even better. I think these little facts about people give a better look at the bigger picture of who they are, as if these seemingly meaningless questions are little pieces in the mosaic that is me.

And the best thing is this: if you ask me these same questions in a couple of months, in a year, in a decade, the answers will most likely change. People are constantly changing, constantly reacting to their lives, and constantly shaping themselves to match what they have learned. It’s beautiful. It’s multifaceted, it’s freeing, and it’s beautiful.

I’m writing this as a somewhat fresh twenty-one-year-old. I have more freckles this summer than I did the last. I have read more books and spent more hours scrolling on Tik-Tok. I’ve lost friends in the past year but I have also gained some of the highest caliber. I have sipped the most delicious coffee and seen the most beautiful rainbows. I’ve laughed more than I ever have, and I have cried more, too.

I feel more myself today than I ever have.

And I hope that when I revisit this article, I can say the same.

I can’t wait to share my adventures, both big and small, with you all. Thank you for taking a chance on Adventures With Em. Let’s go see more of the world, together!