27!

I turned 27 yesterday! My day was spent with my family and Ryan having afternoon tea and cake, followed by some downtime and reading my newest book. We wound down the day with dinner at The Floridian, a free birthday pop at The Hyppo, and drinks at The Ice Plant; then, we finished the day by watching Bridget Jones' Diary with some microwave popcorn, my favorite :) It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday and I'm so thankful my little family and how special they all made me feel. I love you all, thank you for making yesterday so wonderful! 

^A few of the lovely gifts I received! Some new plants I've been wanting called string of pearls, the new Floret Farm book from my friend, Katie (it's so beautiful!), a new letter board from my friend, Britni, and an Iris Apfel brooch from my mom (we saw her documentary together at the Tampa Theatre a few years back!) 

On the Road to Michigan Part II

After we left Nashville, we headed into Indiana and straight on up the state to Fort Wayne. The photo below is of the sunset the evening we arrived into town. It was almost a sign that we were right where we should be and it was a reminder to try and soak up every last minute of this trip together. 

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The next morning, we woke up to the sun shining and we took off to get back on the road to drive up to Auburn, Indiana. The second photo below with the red barn was one of the homes my dad lived in just outside of Fort Wayne. It was the second home he ever lived in. They used to own a couple of donkeys that they kept at the farm and my favorite thing about seeing that home is the fact that my grandfather named the barn; you can just make out some of the white lettering on the side of the barn. To this day, the barn still keeps that same name. The people that live there now may never know it, but the fact that they still kept the same name made my heart so very happy.  

On our way into Auburn, we passed the Cord Car Museum. One of the homes my dad's family lived in when they first moved to Auburn was actually the Cord Family home that Mr. Cord built. As we were driving by, we decided to take a last minute detour and stop into the museum for a look around. The best thing was the entire drive up the road to the museum, we were closely followed by a white Porsche. When we pulled into the museum, so did the driver of the Porsche. The gentleman driving got out of his car, he was probably in his late 70's, and he had a big beard and wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. He left the keys in his car...while it was running, to stop into the museum as well. Only in Indiana. Anyways, back to the museum! The museum itself is two stories and is packed wall to wall with all sorts of antique cars. My dad and I were shocked at how old some of them were and from the exterior, they were all so beautiful. Below are a few of my favorites: 

Before heading into downtown to take a look around, we decided it was time for a milkshake and coke float break. 

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This is downtown Auburn. My grandfather used to own a factory that made harmonic balancers for cars and they lived there for a bit before he moved the factory into Michigan, not too far from Detroit. We parked the car and walked around the main square for a bit. There wasn't too much to see, a lot of the shops were closed, but I could imagine how wonderful and lively it must have been back then. My dad told me the story about he and a friend, Tommy Bryant, used to bring their red wagon down to the square. They would walk office to office and sell bags of popcorn for like 10 cents a piece. Finally, after so many times of doing it, the Mayor called my grandmother and told her they had to stop selling because they didn't have a license to do so. I thought that was the greatest. Dad- you are such a trouble maker! 

I asked if we could take home the vintage fridge with us..but sadly it wouldn't have fit in the car to begin with. 

This brown brick home below is the second home they lived in while they lived in Auburn. 

This home is the first home they lived in that I mentioned earlier, it was the Cord Home. This is probably one of my favorite things that happened during the trip. Right next door to the home is a plant nursery. My dad and I parked at the nursery and inquired if any of the workers there knew much about the family that lived next door. To our surprise, the owners of the nursery are the ones that live next door. We asked if the owners were around and sure enough, to our luck, the wife was just getting ready to leave the house. My dad politely stopped her and explained that he used to live there for a bit when they first moved to the area from Fort Wayne. Immediately, without any hesitation, she invited us to come in for a tour and to take a look around. We couldn't believe it. Once again, only in Indiana :) they sure are nice up that way. I know my dad was so excited as she took us into every room and my dad talked about what each room looked like while they lived there. The photo below of the tile is in sort of a sun room that was off to the left of the house. Apparently, some of the people that lived there in-between my dad's family and the current owner, put carpet over the tile out there. The current owners thought it was  a shame and had it removed to reveal the original tile from the 50's/60's. I thought it was so sweet and surreal to take a look around and to imagine how beautiful of a house it was then, I imagine my grandmother to have impeccable taste when it came to those sorts of things. It was so sweet of her to let us in and I am so thankful that that sort of hospitality still exists;  it certainly made our day. 

On to Michigan we go! Next stop Port Huron here we come! 

On the Road to Michigan!

What do you do when you have a week off of work and your dad looks at you and says, "let's go on a road trip?" You say an immediate yes and you have the best time ever. My dad is originally from Indiana and Michigan and we decided to take a 7 day trip to visit a few of the towns he lived in growing up. We kicked off our trip and headed straight up to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We arrived in the evening, checked into the hotel and headed out on foot in search of dinner. 

We were able to grab a table at Public House, where I ordered up the house salad with shrimp and my dad had the steak & fries. I am fairly certain my dad licked his plate clean he loved it so much. I wish that I had been able to take a photo of the interior, it was really beautiful and they had the coolest lamps in there that swung out several feet from the walls...but sadly no photo to show you. You'll have to stop by and see for yourself sometime! 

The next morning, we woke up early and headed out for a walk over the Walnut Street Bridge to take in a bit of the city before breakfast. There was a triathlon that morning and we stopped for a minute to take a look at the swimmers as they swam under the bridge. Once we made it to the other side we had breakfast at Milk & Honey. My dad ordered the french toast and I tried the oatmeal with blueberries and fresh cream. The oatmeal was amazing! A few years ago when I went to London, I tried porridge at a small local restaurant and ever since then I've been looking for an oatmeal recipe that would compare, and sure enough I had not yet found one...until Milk & Honey answered all of my prayers. It was so delicious I could not stop thinking about it for the rest of the trip. 

Back over the bridge we went and onto the next Chattanooga adventure, to see Rock City! We drove up to the top of the mountain and decided to pay the hefty entrance fee for the self guided tour; it was worth it though. They have three different trails that you can take, essentially you see all the major sights regardless which one you take. The best was the gnome and fairy tale caverns that were filled with miniature gnomes and fairy tale settings such as Hansel and Gretel, The Three Little Pigs, Snow White, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, and so many more. The husband and wife team that originally built Rock City, had a love for fairy tales and German folk lore. At one point in the 1940's. they hired Jesse Sanders, a sculptor from Atlanta, to build out the cave and many of the fairy tale scenes. You can see some of the original work that he did still on display when you stop by for a visit. 

This above bridge is a swinging rope bridge! They have two options for crossing between the two rocks, one was via this bridge and the second was via a stationary bridge. This way was a lot of fun until some guy started purposefully jumping up and down and swaying trying to get the rope bridge to swing back and forth. I practically ran back to the edges as quickly as possible while my dad stood on the stationary side laughing at me. 

One of my favorite parts about the tour were these incredibly tight crevices that you had to squeeze through in order to get to the other side. This passage way specifically was called "fat man's squeeze." There were definitely points that I thought there was no way I would be able to fit through. You had to turn to the side and shuffle through. I let my dad go through first to make sure he'd fit ;) The second passageway shown below was called "the eye of the needle" I believe. That one you had to duck through at multiple points, it was so tiny! 

After seeing Rock City, we packed ourselves back up into the car and headed north to Nashville. We didn't have time to stay overnight, but my dad agreed to stopping at two places for food. First up: Five Daughters Bakery. I had seen their photos on instagram and boy did they look delicious. My dad is a big fan of donuts, so it hardly took any convincing to get him to stop here. We picked up four donuts, two of them were maple (my dad's favorite.) We both agreed that they were pretty good, but they were more like cronuts than anything else. They were VERY sweet; so sweet, I think we each could only handle about three bites before we were done. 

Our lunch spot was a no brainer, hot dogs in a VW bus- YES! This amazing little gem is called "I Dream of Weenie" and as soon as we saw it's existence online, we knew we had to go. On the weekends they do a weenie brunch with hotdogs topped with all sorts of amazing toppings such as: an eggs benedict, hashbrown casserole, and french toast weenies. They also have simple hotdogs that you can pick your own toppings. But if you're really hungry, you should always check out their daily specials on Facebook. I saw earlier that they have pizza and mac n' cheese weenies. This place was amazing and so much fun, I would highly recommend it if you ever stop in Nashville or plan a visit. I only wish I could have driven away with it! 

That was all for our time in Tennessee that day! Next stop: Indiana! 

Mother's Day

Mother's day was quite some time ago, but that doesn't mean I can't still relive it and celebrate my mom each day :) 

This year, my dad and my brother were at a playoff hockey game for the Tampa Bay Lightning so my mom dropped them off at the arena and headed out to an afternoon of fun. It began with a trip to Sea Critters over in St. Pete for a dockside lunch of our favorite crunchy almond shimp salad. I've posted about Sea Critters on here before, but it truly is my favorite spot to go to when I am back in town. It's a little bit of a drive for anyone that lives in Tampa, but if you are up for some pretty amazing seafood and a trip to the beach or an evening to watch the sunset, make the drive over! And do not leave before ordering the crunchy almond shrimp! 

When I was little, my mom used to surprise my my brother and me by taking us bowling after school. She was always a really great bowler and I for some reason made it up in my head that she used to even be part of a bowling league for the Sheriff's Office...sorry mom, I have no idea where I came up with that, but I definitely told everyone that until about three years ago. She was just that good ;) So this time, I took her bowling and we made a bet: the loser of 3 games must buy the winner the popsicle of her choice at The Hyppo in St. Pete. 

How fun is this bowling alley! I loved the pink exterior and it was just as much fun on the inside with the coordinating color blocked walls and carpets. 

See below for the bowling champion...to be fair I did beat her in the first game! The other two were pretty close as well ;) 

How sweet she is! She even offered to buy ME a popsicle even after I lost; but, alas, a deal is a deal and I held up my end of the bargain. Here she is with her black pepper cantaloupe trophy!  

She is easily the most selfless person I have ever met and I hope that I can one day spread as much kindness as she exudes daily. She really is the greatest for all she does for myself and for our family. I love you mom and I am so thankful to call you my own! 

The Refinery

a while back my mother found out that she was cancer free for the tenth consecutive year in a row, which officially makes her a survivor :) She and I celebrated by trying out a place that had been on our list for a while, The Refinery. Before heading over to meet my mom after work, I stopped into Florist Fire to pick her up a little celebratory bouquet. If you live in Tampa, they have the most beautiful flowers and the sweetest workers that are willing to help you arrange the perfect piece. I found that a bouquet of pink flowers was only fitting and she was surprised and delighted to say the least. 

I met up with my mom at the restaurant, where we chose to sit upstairs on the outdoor patio. Just as we sat down it began to rain one of those beautifully, calming summer evening rains that just made the experience that much more enjoyable. We started with a bowl of their tomato soup that was garnished with blueberries, a surprisingly tasty yet unexpected combination. We decided to order a few of the small plates vs. ordering just one entree so that we could try a variety of items. A few of the dishes incorporated zucchini, squash, and several other summer vegetables. One dish was similar to a ratatouille, which I have never tried- we loved it. Our favorite entree though was the grilled cabbage salad; it was vinegary and sweet all at the time same time- I loved it. Finally, we finished off by ordering one of each dessert they were offering that evening. One was a housemaid orange sorbet and the other was a chocolate brownie with a side coffee drink that I believe was infused with lavender and salted caramel. Whatever it was was absolutely amazing and easily my favorite thing that we ordered all evening. I would go back just for the drinks and to order the dessert. If you go in the evenings, make sure you sit outside! It's worth bearing a little bit of summer heat! 

Valentine's Tea

This Valentine's Day, Chocolate Pi hosted an afternoon tea chocked full of sweets, scones, and savory tea sandwiches. My mom and I jumped at the opportunity to go and we were so happy that we did. When we arrived, we were seated outside at a beautiful little table covered in fresh flowers, live acoustic entertainment, and the most delicious tea was soon delivered. You can see a few of the few photos below of the display that was served. There were deviled eggs, cucumber and caprese sandwiches, sweet scones, eclairs, macarons, and probably 15 other treats I am leaving out; they were all delicious and my favorite was the raspberry and lemon curd macaron. I also loved the blueberry scone with lemon curd, clotted cream, and jam. My mom and I were very impressed and it was such a wonderful way to celebrate the day together. I wish they did tea every weekend! 



Halloween Eve!

For the last several weeks my mom had been hinting to the fact that she had a surprise activity planned for us on the evening before Halloween. Turns out, that surprise was a trip to Tampa Theatre for an after hours ghost tour! The stories they told made it seem as if all of the ghosts that "live" there are rather friendly. If I lived/haunted such a beautiful and historic theatre I would probably be one happy ghost as well- free popcorn 24/7! Aside from the entertaining stories, we went back stage, which was probably my favorite part. There were so many great pictures of the theatre from years ago, older framed news articles, and disco balls! The theatre offers the ghost tours around Halloween each year. Aside from the ghost tours, they also do a behind the scenes tour each weekend that is open to the public for a small fee. That tour is next on my list, as both tours focus on different facts about the theatre, making each one worthwhile. My mom and I had a great time and it was the perfect way to set the spirit going into Halloween. Thank you, mom! 

Lumberjack and Lace

This weekend, my best friend's older sister, Cherice, married her fiancĂ© (who conveniently looks just like a lumberjack.) They were married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Tampa, followed by bbq and endless dancing at the Tampa Garden Club. I have zero pictures of the bride and groom, but I do have pictures of grilled cheese and cookies, so hey, that is something! We had some time in between the ceremony and reception, so keeping with my most recent wedding day tradition (and I love traditions) we headed to Steak 'n Shake for fries and grilled cheese. It wouldn't be right to not share a picture of our gourmet snack, which can be viewed below. One of my favorite aspects of the wedding hands down was the crazy dessert bar. A few days prior to the wedding, I went over to the baker's house, she's a good friend of the family and just so happens to be a phenomenal baker in her spare time. We helped her decorate all 300 plus cupcakes and we made the key lime pie shooters. In addition to 4-5 cupcake flavors, there were cookies- chocolate chip!!!, mini donuts, small apple pies, and smaller tiered cakes. We ate ourselves silly with desserts and I contemplated taking a dozen cookies in my clutch home for later. I absolutely loved the hutch display and wish that all of my drawers at home were filled with an endless amount of chocolate chip cookies. 

Thanks for the fun time Cherice and James! Hope you're having fun in Canada as I post this from your living room while eating popcorn and watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2...I'm dog sitting for them all week ;) 

83 Years Young!

We recently celebrated my grandmother's 83rd birthday with a family dinner and the tallest chocolate cake I've seen in a while. She's a chocoholic and specifically requested chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and we threw in a few chocolate chips on top for good measure. I think I know where I get my sweet tooth from ;) 

My grandmother truly is the sweetest person I know, and will bend over backwards to lend a helping hand in any way she possibly can. I'm lucky to have her in my life and to have her and my grandfather live so close by. Besides a cake bigger than my grandmother herself, we celebrated with number sparklers, because it's always the most fun every birthday (in my opinion.)

She really is just the cutest. Here's to hoping your 83rd year is one of the best yet, Grandma! To the stars and back, I love you so! 

My Dad

Happy Father's Day to the dad I'm lucky to call mine. Thanks for always being my go-to friend and putting up with me when I beg you to tag along to try new restaurants, farmer's markets, and all the other countless activities I've talked you into over the last few years (just say you'll go to a drive-in movie with me already!!!!) You're certainly the minion of our family and I don't think we would have it any other way. Thanks for being you. I love you, dad. 

Summer Bucket List // Week One Recap

Activity number 12 on my summer bucket list is to make breakfast for my grandparents each Sunday morning. This was the first Sunday I headed on over to their house to whip up something delicious before they were home from Church. I've been craving the two egg special I always order from Blue Hen when I'm visiting in St. Augustine. Low and behold, I attempted to recreate my own to hold me over until my next trip up there. I did scrambled eggs, sweet potato home fries, biscuits, fresh fruit and a side of avocado. The sweet potato home fries were incredibly simple. After peeling and dicing the potatoes, I drizzled them with a little olive oil and sprinkled on salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder for a little extra spice. I scattered them on a cookie sheet and popped them into the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. If you have the time and like crispier potatoes, I would bake them for a bit longer. The eggs were just scrambled and the biscuits were pillsbury honey butter biscuits that you obviously can't go wrong with. I couldn't even attempt to make my own biscuits comparable to those from Blue Hen. It's just impossible, I am convinced.

My grandparents loved every bit of it and I did too. I'm sure lots of people say this about their grandparents, but I truly have two of the best in the business. They are some of the most kind-hearted and generous people I have ever met, and I'm lucky that they have passed along those important values. They were both thankful to have someone cook for them and I was thankful to spend a few extra hours with them: chatting about life and it's craziness all over a cup of coffee. See you next Sunday! To the stars and back, Grandma and Grandpa!  

Summer Bucket List 2015

Each season, I find myself making sporadic notes in my phone, on my laptop, and even in my planner of little activities I want to experience. Sometimes, when I don't collectively put them in one place, it's hard for me to actually accomplish all that I was looking forward to. I dogsit and babysit quite often, especially over the summer when kids are out of school and families are traveling themselves. It's easy to get caught up in day to day life and those activities end up getting pushed aside. Before you know it, summer is over and it's the middle of October. In order to get the most out of my summer, I really wanted to combine all of my lists together to create one on here, where I can document and share my activities as I do them. Some are silly, some are small, and others are a bit bigger...like road trips I am planning to the Seaside area and Fort Lauderdale to visit friends. So, here's to another fun summer spent with family and friends and lots of little fun adventures in between. 

  1. trips to the beach
  2. ride the carousel in St. Augustine
  3. make s'mores
  4. fly a kite 
  5. go to a fair 
  6. eat lots of snow cones
  7. see an outdoor movie
  8. camp indoors (fort tent!)
  9. camp outdoors
  10. paddle board or kayak
  11. go to a concert 
  12. make breakfast for my grandparents each Sunday morning 
  13. picnic as often as possible
  14. go to the zoo
  15. find a photo booth 
  16. ride bicycles 
  17. take a road trip
  18. mini vacation with my family
  19. go to an antique fair or flea market 
  20. ride the trolley in downtown tampa

Do you have any summer plans that you're looking forward to? I would love to know! 

 

Disney World!

What's the best way to spend a Tuesday afternoon, you ask? By acting like a  big kid at heart at Disney World, of course! It was time for our family to renew our annual passes, so my mom, dad, and I drove over to Orlando for a few hours (we missed you while you were at work, Michael!). We rode the monorail to Magic Kingdom and proceeded to go straight to a few of the rides and eat some delicious treats while everyone crowded around Main Street to watch the electrical parade. 

All aboard the Magic Kingdom Railway! Next stop, Frontierland and Adventureland in search of Dole pineapple whipped ice cream. I wish they sold it by the gallon and that I had a miniature freezer to bring it home with me! Ps- how cool is the train station for guests to sit down in while waiting for the next train? Amtrak, take note...

The park was overwhelmingly crowded, so many school groups!!, the only ride we made it onto was the Haunted Mansion. It's always been one of my favorite rides; there's always just so much to see.  I am always keeping my eyes peeled for any new updates or additions to the ride. 

The above statue was a tomb marker for a "deceased" ship captain. The marker said he ironically drowned in his bathtub. The best detail is that every few minutes bubbles floated out from his statute. If you look closely you can see one little bubble left. Oh Disney, so silly with details, I love it. 

The cutest and least crowded little corner of the park. It was down an alley off of Main Street and it seemed like no one really knew it even existed. Shhh, don't tell anyone, we'll keep it our little secret ;) 

I've never noticed the below letter boxes posted all up and down Main Street and close to the entrance of the park. The park staff collects letters and postcards each day and mail them from a local Orlando post office. The mail might take slightly longer to reach its recipients, but I loved the vintage post boxes so much I had to mail out a few cliche postcards. 

After the park, we had dinner at the Yacht Club Resort. We ate lobster rolls at the Crew's Cup Lounge and had ice cream cookie sandwiches down by the pool at Beaches and Cream Soda Shop. Can I have these cute ice cream tables and colorful chairs for my kitchen? 

A Note to My Mom

Happy Mother's Day to the one that loves and supports me unconditionally through all of life's exciting and unexpected adventures. Thank you for always teaching me to love others through acts of kindness and selflessness. I'm proud of the person that I have grown to become today, and I have you to thank for that. I'm so happy I get to call you mine. I love you, mom.