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12.04.14 / Our Vacation Rental

beach house 1

Last winter when we decided to plan a vacation to Rosemary Beach, I searched online for vacation rentals and fell down a virtual rabbit hole ogling at all the possibilities. There were townhouses, flats, carriage houses and extravagant beach houses. And they were all beautiful.

One thing I noticed after a little research was that the rentals just outside of Rosemary were less expensive but still within biking distance to downtown Rosemary and the beach. I also noticed that we could save a ton by visiting during the off season. We weren’t sure what to expect weather-wise so we wanted a place we could spread out and hang out in comfortably if the weather didn’t cooperate. I whittled down the list of possibilities to ~10 rentals then we selected one of them as a family. You never know what to expect when reserving a vacation rental sight unseen (at least in real life) but we lucked out. Our vacation rental was clean, family-friendly, homey, convenient and in a great location on a dead-end street.

We chose to stay in Seacrest Beach which butts up against Rosemary but is a little more economical. The house came with four adult bikes and we used them to bike to downtown Rosemary (~5 minutes) every day. We biked to the beach, too. We biked everywhere.

beach house 2

The house had four bedrooms (three of them were master suites with a king bed and an adjoining bathroom), three bathrooms, and was three stories high. The night we arrived, we were blown away. It was much larger than we had expected. The ceilings were at least 10′ high which made it feel even bigger. Coming from a 3-bed, 1-bath rancher, we were very spoiled.

We loved the big porches on the first and second floors and took full advantage of the swings.

beach house 3

The first floor living room opened up onto the dining area and kitchen. We liked the open floor plan. I also appreciated the furnishings. Many beach rentals have generic decor (which I totally get…it’s a rental) but this house felt really homey with all the wood tones, natural textures and nubby upholstery. There were all kinds of books and magazines available to read. We really felt like we were staying in a home – notsomuch a rental.

beach house 4

Layne, our oldest, made the comment, “Look mom! This house is perfect for us. It has poufs!” Atta boy. Haha. We watched movies as a family almost every night in the living room. The kids would drag down bean bags from the bunk room (more on that in a minute) and we would pop popcorn. It was so cozy.

beach house 5

I loved the rustic coffee table. It had a great patina, was kid-friendly and oversized. The kids would pull up the poufs to the coffee table and we played board games or worked puzzles. (Or spilled glasses of water. It happens.)

beach house 17

beach house 7

The full kitchen (while very beige) was stocked with dishes, glasses, flatware, serve ware, pots, pans, Keurig, traditional coffeemaker, blender, slow cooker…basically anything you could think of. I liked that there were two sinks – one under the window and one in the peninsula. There was a large pantry which came in handy. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches at the house to save money. Our *three* kids fought over the *two* stools at the bar. It was a popular spot.

beach house 6

The dining area was one of my favorite spaces. The table sat eight but could be extended to seat larger parties. It was great for card games and Everett did his homework there every evening, too.

(Did I mention we pulled the kids out of school? Layne only missed three days but Everett missed an entire week. I felt guilty about them missing school but both of their teachers / schools were really supportive. Everett’s teacher gave him some work to do while he was away.)

The apples are fake and there were 28 of them. I know because Mabrey made Steve count them over and over. I may have thought about stealing the chairs. And did you notice the basket on the floor in the corner? There were large baskets in nearly every room in the house. They were great for keeping our things out but tidy. When we were packing up to leave, I just went around and emptied all the baskets.

beach house 8

I would like to point out the palm leaf on the buffet and the pinecones on the bar. The neighborhood we stayed in has a nature trail. The palm leaf and pinecones were souvenirs from my walks. If you happen to be the guy who was driving a golf cart near the trail about a month ago and came upon a strange lady loading pinecones into a shopping bag and hacking palm leaves with a steak knife, I’m sorry I scared you. Also, at this very moment there’s a large bag of said pinecones sitting my garage waiting to be strung into garland. #pineconecaper

The stairs lead up to the second and third floors. We were not used to living with stairs and there were so many here because of the three floors and extra high ceilings. It only took a few days for us to get lazy and choose not to go back up / down the stairs to retrieve a forgotten item. The stairs were a fun novelty but by the end of the week we were all ready to go back to living without stairs. Isn’t that crazy?!

beach house 9

Each bedroom had its own balcony / porch. Steve and I claimed this bedroom. Technically, it was Mabrey’s room, too. She slept in the walk-in closet in a pack-n-play that was already in the closet. She kept calling it her room. I’m pretty sure the closet was bigger than her bedroom at home!

The master suites had wall-to-wall seagrass carpet. I’ve owned seagrass rugs before but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live with seagrass carpet. I really liked it in person and it seems like it would hold up well to heavy traffic and abuse.

beach house 10

This bed? It was the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. Steve and I meant to check the mattress tag before we left but forgot. Oh well. We’ll just have to go back.

When I was posting to instagram during our vacation, someone made the comment “rental homes always make me want to get rid of all my stuff.” Ditto.

beach house 11

MORE STAIRS up to the third floor. My legs are burning just thinking about them.

beach house 12

The third floor bunk room was a hit with the kids. Everett claimed it and slept in a different bed each night before deciding that the bottom bunk on the far left was the most comfortable. He is such a funny kid. Do you spy the bean bags I mentioned earlier? There were three which was perfect for family movie nights. The bunk room was stocked with children’s books (for all ages) and puzzles.

beach house 13

The bunk room included a TV, wet bar and mini fridge. Everett stashed some water and an apple in the fridge just in case he woke up hungry in the middle of the night. I told you he is funny.

Maybe the only drawback of the entire house was that there was no door on the bunk room and the center stairwell was open from the first floor to the third floor. It was a super cool architectural feature and fine for the boys (they’re 6½ and 9½) but I didn’t feel comfortable letting Mabrey (2½) have free rein in the bunk room. She had to be supervised.

The balcony off the bunk room was another favorite spot.

beach house 14

The hammock swings did not go unnoticed ;)

beach house 15

We picked a different porch to eat on every day but this one was our favorite even though it required carrying our lunches up three flights of stairs. When the most difficult decision of your day is “Hmmm, which porch should we eat on?” that’s not a bad day.

beach house 16

And, finally, the view from the third floor balcony was pretty amazing. Can you spot the palm tree-lined cobblestone streets? It was such a happy and charming lil’ neighborhood.

The ironic thing about our time spent in this awesome house is that, for the most part, we all used the same bathroom! (We’re used to sharing one bathroom.) And we usually traveled as a pack from room to room. (We aren’t used to not being in the same room together.) It was nice to have the extra space to spread out for a few days (the boys enjoyed having their own rooms) but it was superfluous and I was glad I wasn’t the one responsible for cleaning it. If / when we go back, we’ll bring more people or we’ll probably stay somewhere smaller.

That being said, we had the most amazing time. The house truly was everything we could have asked for – and more! Very accommodating, truly hospitable. We’re so grateful that we were able to make some memories here.

So what do you think? How do you feel about vacation rentals? How do you save money on vacation? Do you have a favorite spot / feature of the house? Have your kids ever missed school due to a vacation?

P.S. – Because I know someone will ask, I searched for vacation rentals on VRBO. The property management company for our house was superb. They have an app for you to download during your stay that has all the info you could ever want or need about the house and surrounding area. I would highly recommend the area, house and VRBO! That is an unsolicited recommendation.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

135 Comments

04.December.2014

Oh I love this house! We stayed on Seagrove beach in August and we are already planning our trip for next summer. Any chance you can tell me the listing number? If not I understand. Thanks!

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replied on December 4th, 2014

I will email you ;)

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replied on December 5th, 2014

I would also love to find out the listing number. Thanks, that house is gorgeous!!!

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Look for an email from me ;)

04.December.2014

I’m also in the middle of planning our trip to Rosemary Beach. We go every summer since we live within a day’s drive. It’s truly my favorite vacation spot. That’s funny that you traveled room to room as a pack. I was picturing it in my head and it made me laugh. I know the feeling though. When we moved into our current house I felt like it was a waste since we never went downstairs except to eat. We spent all our time in the upstairs bedrooms and playroom. How things have changed as our kids have gotten older!

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replied on December 4th, 2014

Come January when we’re all suffering from cabin fever, we’ll probably be wishing we had extra space!

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04.December.2014

Ha, the funny thing is that I’ve had this exact rental ‘favourited’ in the VBRO site for quite some time now. I have a running list of places I want to visit with my family and I search out rentals just for fun. Then when we do go to that place I’ve done a ton of research already ;)
Lovely place and good to know that it was as great as it looks on pictures.

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What a beautiful house! I would much rather be there than chilly Ohio right now!!

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replied on December 4th, 2014

I hear you!

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04.December.2014

Hailing fromt the West Coast, we frequent the beach, a lot (it’s only 1 hour away, Portland to Canon Beach, OR). Some friends of ours developed a few little coastal neighborhoods along the way up 101 and have landed on creating an entire town in Washington State called Seabrook (http://www.seabrookwa.com). I know he modeled his homes/architecture/neighborhood feel after an area in Florida and this has to be it! It’s amazing…my folks owned one of the first homes in his first development and have since sold it, but we had so many memories in that cute little house and neighborhood. Glad to hear your family had fun at the beach, our three kiddos (same ages) LOVE the beach!

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replied on December 4th, 2014

Seabrook looks beautiful. Can’t wait to browse through all those rental cottages!

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04.December.2014

Seacrest Beach (and 30A in general) is paradise! We’re from north Alabama but had our wedding in Seacrest in January 2011. We rented a BIG beach house that backed up to the ocean, had our wedding down on the sand, and then booked it straight back up to the house and partied with 100 of our closest family and friends. Such a dream! The house you stayed at looked picture perfect. Such a beautiful place for a family vacay. Makes me want to go now… :)

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04.December.2014

Since having kids, vacation rentals are the only way we go on vacation. We have gone to Hilton Head Island a number of years (perfect for te kids) as well as Sanibel and Captiva Islands in Fl and just recently over Thanksgiving stayed at the beach in Palm Coast, Fl. We do the exact same as you…breakfast and lunch at home and dinner out. We have used VRBO and AirBNB with great success. Much more reasonable pricing than staying in a hotel for that long.

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I loved reading this entire tour/review. Sounds like the perfect little slice of heaven!

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Such a fun post! I really enjoyed getting the lowdown on the vacation rental. I think I would have spent a lot of time in the bunk room and I would have been stashing food and drink in the fridge too!:-).

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05.December.2014

Is that a Fount leather bag on the dining room chair? I have been eyeing them for a while. What a fun place to stay. All your research paid off.

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Good eye! It is. I had been drooling over Fount’s bags for months so when I found a coupon code in early fall, I bought it as an early birthday gift to myself (which I never do). I’m a sucker for good quality bags. I carried an Amy Butler bag around for the last 2+ years as a diaper bag for Mabrey. It’s in perfect condition and now I use it as an overnight bag for her. I see myself using this bag for many, many years. It’s beautiful. Can’t recommend Fount enough!

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05.December.2014

Hi there, love your blog! What a dreamy vacation spot. Wondering if I might have the listing number as well, I will probably never get to stay there as I am based out of Los Angeles but I just wanted to explore the listing a bit more. Thanks! xo

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replied on December 5th, 2014

I will email you ;)

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05.December.2014

I put up our outdoor Christmas lights in that icky freezing rain/snow combo we had yesterday. I’m ready to head south, stat!

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replied on December 5th, 2014

I hear you! Sometimes I feel bad whining about snow / cold. It’s beautiful and makes for a cozy house. But I’ve lived in Ohio and Illinois all my life and feel like I’ve seen enough to last me a lifetime.

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05.December.2014

Hi! Could you also please email me the listing number. We go there quite often and I love this house but haven’t seen it before :) Thanks!

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replied on December 5th, 2014

I will email you!

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05.December.2014

This is absolutely gorgeous —any chance I could get the listing? We have been looking for a bit and you nailed this one!

Thank you for all your inspiration.I enjoy your style and ideas tremendously,
Lara Salem

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Check your inbox! Thanks for the kind words. M’wah.

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05.December.2014

I would love the listing as well, please! I’ve been searching for a house in this area of Florida, and this looks perfect!

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Check your email!

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05.December.2014

Hey there! Long-time reader, first-time commenter. First-off I have to say I love your brick rancher (we have one too, in Nashville) and I love your style. Re: Seagrove Beach – we love it there!! We’ve stayed down there for the last three years in September, while it’s still hot, but less so than in the summer & the crowds have gone. Next year will probably be over October break since we have a school kid now, but this year we did pull him out of Kindergarten for a week. This rental is way prettier than the one we usually stay in & I’d love to get the listing # from you as well! We are hoping to bring grandparents with us next time & this would be a much better layout for us too!

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replied on December 5th, 2014

I will email you! There is a master suite on the first floor that is perfect for grandparents. In fact, we invited my grandparents (the kids’ great-grandparents!) to join us for the last two days of our visit. They live in Florida about six hours away but made the trip and stayed in the first-floor bedroom since we weren’t using it anyway. It was perfect for them.

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05.December.2014

Glad to know I’m not the only one who does the whole pack-n-play in the closet thing…it works so well to keep my 11-month old close but give him his own sleeping space. Good to know this strategy still works for a 2.5 year old!

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Our extended family refers to us as “the parents who keep their babies in closets.” I couldn’t care less. Baby / toddler is happy…parents are happy! Whatever works.

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05.December.2014

What a beautiful place! The first shot with the orange chairs on the porches was enough to sell me, and then every other space in the house was amazing too! We have used VRBO to rent a vacation house before, and it was a great experience.

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05.December.2014

My goodness, this place looks lovely! I would love to bring my family here. Any chance you have the listing number?

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Sure! I will shoot you an email.

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05.December.2014

I was trying not to bother you, but I’ve looked at every Seacrest Beach rental on vrbo and cannot find that house. I think it would be perfect for us and another family to rent together!. Do you mind emailing me the #?
I appreciate it :)

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Done! Check your inbox.

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05.December.2014

May I please have the listing number as well? I’m intrigued! I’d love to visit this area.

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Emailing you now!

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05.December.2014

Thanks for this post! What a wonderful place to stay. We are heading down there with our entire family for my in laws 50th in June. 20 kids and 14 adults, one house. eep! Our place is about 10 or 15 minutes from the one you stayed in. Are there any great restaurants you recommend, since that is half of what I plan on doing while I’m there, the other half being lounging in the sand. ;)

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replied on December 5th, 2014

I’m going to write up a little post on the places we visited and ate. Look for it soon!

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replied on December 6th, 2014

wonderful! thanks ;)

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05.December.2014

Beautiful! And funny about the mini fridge. My son is trying to convince me he needs a mini fridge for a night table ☺️

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Haha! #multipurposefurniture

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05.December.2014

Such a beautiful house! My family stayed in Seacrest this year and loved the proximity to all the nearby beaches and restaurants. If you don’t mind sharing the rental #, I’d love to look into this house as a possibility for another trip.

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replied on December 5th, 2014

Just emailed you!

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05.December.2014

Great post…looks like a lovely beach. Can you email me the listing, too? thx

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05.December.2014

What a great house! Would love to have the listing # also! Thanks! : )

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replied on December 7th, 2014

Just emailed you!

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06.December.2014

Great house! Would love the listing# as we’ll please.

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replied on December 7th, 2014

I emailed you!

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06.December.2014

Hi Dana! Thanks for sharing the tour…we would love the vrbo listing too! These homeowners are going to be happy you shared! ;)

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replied on December 7th, 2014

Check your inbox!

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07.December.2014

Hi! Will you send me the vrbo listing too? It looks lovely!
Thanks so much!

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replied on December 7th, 2014

Done! Check your inbox.

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07.December.2014

Hi Dana, The house looks gorgeous. Can you also email me the vrbo listing?

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replied on December 7th, 2014

Sure! Check your inbox.

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08.December.2014

Beautiful house! There are a lot of great 1-story homes in that neighborhood. The first one we stayed in had a huge screened porch on the front of the house, perfect for lazy mornings or rainy days with kids.

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08.December.2014

That house is beautiful!!! Would you mind sharing the listing #? Thank you!

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replied on December 8th, 2014

It’s in your inbox!

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08.December.2014

Loved your pictures! Looks like you had a terrific trip!

My little family of 5 goes to beachbon 30 A every few years!
We love that area! Would you share the listing number or link?

Thanks Ali

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09.December.2014

I would love the listing number too, please. Thank you!!

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replied on December 9th, 2014

Check your email!

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10.December.2014

Would love the listing number too, please!

Thanks!

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12.December.2014

I would love the listing number as well! We are thinking of trying a new beach this year.

Thanks!

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replied on December 14th, 2014

Just emailed you!

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17.December.2014

[…] I’ve mentioned before, we stayed in Seacrest which is sandwiched between Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach. We spent most of our time biking and […]

17.December.2014

I’m planning a family vacation for March…I just can’t bear the thought of spending the entire winter here in Michigan!! I’d love the listing number of this beautiful home too please :) Thanks!

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replied on December 19th, 2014

Just sent you the listing info via email!

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18.December.2014

Hi Dana. Can I please have the listing number as well? I would really appreciate it! Thanks!

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replied on December 19th, 2014

Just emailed you!

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18.December.2014

You’re going to get really sick of everyone asking but…….I would also like the listing number if possible! This looks like the perfect place for my family! Thank you!

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replied on December 19th, 2014

Not sick at all! Check your inbox.

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03.January.2015

Hi! Can I please have the listing number as well? I would really appreciate it! Thanks!

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replied on January 6th, 2015

Check your inbox!

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06.January.2015

Sorry for the WAY later request, but can I also have the listing number, please? Just catching up on all of my favorite blogs from a busy/vacationing December, and I’m already planning for next year’s vacation!

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replied on January 6th, 2015

Just emailed you the link!

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07.January.2015

[…] We went on a real vacation and stayed here. […]

17.January.2015

I’d like to join the number of people asking for the listing number on VRBO. We’re going to Seacrest in the fall, and that house looks fantastic. Thanks!

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replied on January 18th, 2015

Check your inbox!

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17.January.2015

Hey, thanks for this amazing review and all the gorgeous photos! I’m thinking of planning a family getaway to the area and I would love the VRBO number if you don’t mind. I just found your blog and I’m totally in love!

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replied on January 18th, 2015

Just sent you an email!

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19.January.2015

Can you email me the listing number also? I just found this post. Started following you a while ago but for some reason the emails fell off and I forgot to resign up. I NEED to go here! Thank you.

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replied on January 19th, 2015

Sure, done!

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25.January.2015

May I have the listing number as well! This is on my bucket list for travel!! Thanks in advance – love your blog! Cheers, Rebekah

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replied on January 25th, 2015

Just sent you the listing!

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28.January.2015

May I also have the listing?

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replied on January 28th, 2015

Sure! Check your inbox.

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14.March.2015

Hi Dana:

Bet you thought you were finally done being asked for the listing number for this house…would you mind sending it my way?

Many thanks, and keep up the great work…have been enjoying your blog since before Mabrey was born.

Best,
Kristin

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replied on March 15th, 2015

Just sent it your way!

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19.March.2015

Mind sending me the VRBO listing?

Thanks!

Elizabeth

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