Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh My Gourd!

Yesterday we bought some gourds at a pumpkin patch. That's a little ironic, huh? The man at the pumpkin patch told us there is a pumpkin shortage in the area. We picked out a couple of gourds and figured they would serve as decent substitutes for pumpkins. How silly of us! After getting them home and attempting to cut into them with a paring knife, I realized they were pretty much rock hard.
Gourd carving fail!

Hopefully the pumpkin patch near my work still has some pumpkins, because I'd really like to carve a pumpkin this year. There's something very satisfying about carving a fun design into a pumpkin and then lighting up your hard work with a candle.

Pumpkins or not, last night my husband searched our storage closet for my favorite little turkey tea light holders. It's starting to feel more like fall here in Florida with each passing day. Before we know it, we'll be eating turkey and cranberry sauce and then opening Christmas gifts. Whew!

Happy Halloween!

Eat some candy for me.

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p.s. That blue bear in the first photo appears in our wedding pics...
I should really share those some day soon!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sawgrass Lake Park

Two days ago we visited Sawgrass Lake Park which we found 'sandwiched' between some very busy roads and a large interstate to the east. We never would have known it was there, okay maybe we would have eventually found out about it, but thanks to our new Florida road trips book we enjoyed a lovely day among some wild "friends". That is if you count squirrels, alligators, and turtles as friends.

As if the humans that occupy Florida's most densely populated county aren't wild enough, we decided that a day wandering through 400 acres full of actual wildlife sounded like a good time. During our walk across 1.5 miles of boardwalk and dirt, we spotted multiple turtles and alligators, woodpeckers, spiders perched on giant webs, and we even saw a snake in the underside of some tree roots. Those are just a few of the creatures we spotted during our walk. We actually had a rather relaxing day spending time among wildlife. Who knew that wild could be so calming?

Sawgrass Lake Park is apparently one of the premier birding spots in the country. I can see myself becoming the binocular wielding, safari hat wearing kind some day. Something about birds and their seemingly simple lives keep me interested for hours. Every time we visit the beach or a park, I find myself spotting birds and attempting to identify them. Hey Santa, if you're listening, I could use a pair of binoculars this Christmas. Thanks. I'll consider myself more of an expert when I can identify the local birds without seeing them first.

Sawgrass Lake Park had plenty of offer in the wildlife department. Not to mention all of the plants and trees that formed canopies over our heads for the majority of our time there. For some reason though, I just cannot find myself getting as interested in the trees and I do the alligators and birds. Next time we visit Sawgrass Lake Park, I hope to be sporting a stylish pair of binoculars and possibly even a zoom lens for the dSLR camera. That second wish is a bit of a stretch, but I'm a dreamer.

I hope you enjoyed our photos from Florida!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Florida Day Trips

After living in Florida for about four and a half short months,
my husband and I realize that we have actually done quite a few
fun things in that short amount of time.

We recently purchased this book of 'one tank trips' for Florida adventures,
and we counted eight out of 52 trips that we have already experienced
in our short time living here.
Not too shabby.

Some of the 'fun Florida adventures' from this book
that we've already experienced include:

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However if you included all of the things
we have done since moving to Florida,
it would look a little bit more like this:

{ 1 }
we were fortunate enough to have experienced
the lift-off of shuttle Atlantis from Titusville, Florida

{ 2 }
we have visited Saint Petersburg a few different times now
but still hope to go back and see the inside of the Dali Museum

{ 3 }
you can read about our visits to Disney here  and  here

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Come back tomorrow and read about our visit
to a place where we saw some cute, curious,
creepy, and maybe even some crawly things!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blessing in Barbecue (Disguise)

We had an amazing thing happen a few nights ago. We ate at a local barbecue restaurant. (No that wasn't the amazing thing. Eating barbecue isn't exactly an amazing thing in itself.) Upon arriving at the Ozona Pig, multiple strangers showed us kindness all in the span of a few minutes. That may not seem like a big deal, but we were truly touched by the people we met at the Ozona Pig barbecue restaurant located not too far from our place.

I visited their website after my husband and I shared a delicious meal, and it was no surprise to find that their website advertises a "focus on quality [that] is rooted in our own family tradition and our commitment to our customers." The owners spent time living in Memphis (which is notorious for its incredible barbecue) and are now 'retired' in Ozona. Running a barbecue restaurant seems like a pretty great retirement to me.

Upon arriving at the Ozona Pig, we found that every table was full. We opted to wait for a table at the bar. The bartender, Bobbie, immediately introduced herself as the owner and then pointed out her husband at the end of the bar. She asked us if we had had visited the restaurant before, because she thought we looked familiar. We mentioned that we had not eaten there but had a beer outside and listened to music once. She welcomed us and gave us a little history about the restaurant and food.

Sitting at the bar almost felt like being in a scene from the bar Cheers (you know... where everybody knows your name...) The man sitting to our right was an obvious regular, and we struck up a conversation with him as well. In the short time we sat next to him, we learned his name and brief history in the service. We also learned that he loves to golf and obviously loves to eat at the Ozona Pig as well. He ordered an abundance of food to-go, because, as he seriously informed us, 'The Pig' is closed on Sundays for dinner. Bobbie sent him home with plenty of food to get him and his visitors through the rest of the weekend. Upon leaving, he informed us that we must eat the banana pudding.

Since this was our first time at the Ozona Pig, we ordered a platter featuring a little bit of almost everything on the menu. The pulled pork was delicious, the brisket tender, and the chicken fell right off of the bone. We smothered our ribs in their homemade sauces and rib rub. Not to mention, we also enjoyed every single bite of the garlic toast, baked beans, and mashed potatoes that accompanied the meal. Bobbie asked us if we had saved any room for the banana pudding, and we regretted informing her that we were stuffed. I guess there are worse problems to have than a stuffed belly. We actually even had to take some of our food home to eat at a later time.

Bobbie thanked us for stopping by the Ozona Pig, and she told us to come back again soon. Of course we thanked her for everything and told her we would indeed be back again soon.

We ate our leftovers the next evening and found a small Styrofoam container full of banana pudding. Bobbie had snuck some pudding into our to-go bag. It was a pleasant surprise, and we enjoyed every blissful bite of it. I think that all food tastes better with a little love behind it.

Do not underestimate the power you have to positively affect another life. A little kindness really does go a long way. Eating at the Ozona Pig, and making a couple of friends along the way, was exactly what my husband and I both needed at that time. We felt welcomed from the second we walked through the door, and we will certainly be back time and time again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Cried at Work

First of all, my job is pretty great. It's a dog friendly place, and there are quite a few customers who visit with their dogs in tow. Some customers even push their dogs in doggy strollers. It's rather cute. Me crying has nothing to do with a bad experience at work, but it has more to do with heart touching moment.

Just a few days ago, there was a local pet masquerade featuring plenty of dogs in costume. I even saw a dachshund with a tiny stuffed cowboy in its back. Adorable! The real tearjerker though was an older golden retriever without a costume. The owners were incredible friendly, and we got to talking about how much they love their dogs. I told them I grew up with a golden retriever, and we bonded a bit over what incredible pets golden retrievers make. I asked them if they had ever read Dean Koontz's book A Big Little Life and she said they had not read it. This is when the tears formed on my lower eye lids and I wiped a couple away before they had the chance to trickle down my cheek. I miss my beloved golden retriever Gnomie. Sometimes seeing people with a golden, quite often one that looked like mine, is just enough to make me misty-eyed.

After the first couple of tears in my eyes, their golden came my way and let me massage her soft ears, which was always something I loved doing to my own dog, Gnomie. They told me about how they rescued their second dog from a shelter, and while talking about how much my husband and I would love having a golden some day, their golden came over to me and pushed her head up against my leg. It was almost as if she was letting me know it was okay to cry. Many dogs possess the ability of knowing exactly when we need a little comforting. It was very touching speaking with these people, and I was very thankful for the opportunity. The woman even came back up to the register before leaving and thanked me. I'm still not exactly sure what she thanked me for, because I feel very thankful for getting the chance to pet their dog and talk with them about their animals.

Animals, especially dogs, have such an amazing ability to soften our hearts and make us want to become better people. I am hopeful for the day when my husband and I get to have our own golden retriever. They are sometimes the best at comforting a sad heart. It's okay to cry, and dogs will always be there to wipe away a tear without judgement. They offer endless unconditional love. What a gift.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'm a Floridian Now

Never in a million years would I ever have thought I would call a 60 degree evening in Florida 'chilly'. (I may have even used the word 'freezing' last night, but we all know that freezing is actually more like 32 degrees.) After living in Florida for about four and half months, I am already turning into a sissy. Who would have thought this northern Michigan-raised girl would be cold in Florida during the month of October?! Not me. *shaking my head sincerely*

Somehow my husband and I survived a summer in Florida. We moved here in June, which is at the front of the hottest time of year. Now we are looking forward to the rest of the year, and it can only get better from here, right? We obviously knew what we were doing moving here in June. (Don't let me fool you. This would be what you call sarcasm. We had heard horror stories about the Florida humidity, and they are all true.) Goodbye hurricane season. Goodbye sweaty and gross. Hello beautiful time of year. Hello to wearing jeans and sweatshirts while drinking pumpkin spice lattes outside! Yeah! Welcome to fall in Florida. If winter gets much colder than this I might need to bust out a fleece jacket. We are Floridians now!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Whirlwind Week

I would have to admit that I'm sometimes not great at multi-tasking. I could seriously never be a pilot. Many say that men cannot multi-task, but when it comes to flying an airplane my husband is a pro when it comes to doing everything at once!

We had visitors this past week, my mom and her boyfriend (it seems sort of odd using this term for people over the age of 30... oh well) were in town, so I haven't been frequenting social media as much as I would have liked. I've missed you all!

Here's a small recap of what we've been up to this week:

we went to a 3 year old's birthday party
saw the sponge docks in Tarpon Springs
went to Clearwater Beach on a windy day
spent a day at the Florida Aquarium
did a little relaxing and eating too.

Hope you're having a great week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Today you can find me over at Michelle's blog { Living a Life of Love } sharing some little things that I'm incredibly grateful for even when life gets difficult.

I had a few days this past week where I found myself complaining more than usual, and I really need to remember that I have plenty of things to be grateful for even when it may seem like I have little. Those are the days where you have to sit down with a pen and paper and write down a list of all the reasons you have to smile. The list may even consist of very little things like beautiful clouds in the sky or a breathtaking sunset at dusk. If we look hard enough, we often find a silver lining.
Life is what you make it.

Now head on over to Michelle's blog and read about
some of the things I give thanks for each day

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dreamy Fall Outfit

I often play it a little too safe when it comes to fashion and style. Favorite items in my closet typically consist of grey cardigans and a comfortable pair of dark denim jeans. Not very risky when it comes to fashion. Sometimes coming out of your shell takes time, and I'm slowly working myself into being more brave when it comes to clothing. Fun pops of color and maxi skirts never killed anyone... right?

When shopping for new pieces to complete my wardrobe, I often run through images of items already in my closet. If I cannot picture how to make outfits with an item of clothing, then it's probably not a good purchase for me. The worst things is purchasing an item that never sees the light of day.

I desperately need to build my wardrobe, which will take time, but slowly adding some great pieces here and there should give me plenty of options to create some interesting outfits.

Who would have thought that a sweater tunic would look great layered over top of a maxi skirt?! Surprisingly, it worked out pretty well. The gray tunic tones down the red skirt and bright yellow wallet. I'm looking forward to creating multiple different outfits using this sweater tunic! It even looks great with a basic pair of skinny jeans underneath it. Not too bad. I just love versatile pieces. (:

Happy Friday friends!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A New Decade

We just recently celebrated my husband's 30th birthday. It's one of those things that many people make a big deal about, but it didn't seem too bad. Maybe I won't feel the same way when I reach 30 years though. Only time will tell. Somehow age always looks more acceptable on men than it does women. Grey hair makes men look distinguished, but it makes women look aged. It's just not fair.

In anticipation of my man's big day, I made some mini cupcakes a few days before his actual birthday. I figured we would get plenty of good food on his birthday, and a little dessert for the week never hurt anyone. You can find the recipe for these yummy mini chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes { here }

My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, so that's exactly what we had for dinner on his birthday. Bern's in South Tampa was the perfect place for a special birthday dinner. You only turn 30 years old once. Our dinner consisted of an appetizer, soup, salad, baked potato, and steak with vegetables and crispy onion rings. How much better does it get than that? After dinner we went upstairs to Bern's dessert room. That just about put us both over the edge. Everything was incredible. Needless to say, we will be back!

Happy Thursday friends!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin in Pancake Form

Not sure if you noticed, but for all intents and purposes, it's fall. It may not exactly feel like fall in some parts of the world, but the calendar tells me that it is indeed fall. Plus it just snowed back in Denver, so had we not moved to Florida it might be feeling more like winter right about now. You just never know. Moving on....

Fall brings with it the idea that pumpkin must be worked into the diet as often as possible, because Christmas will be here before we know it. (Did I just write that out loud?! Yes. I did.) In this household we are taking full advantage of any excuse we can get to eat any and everything pumpkin! That includes pumpkin pancakes. I first read about these amazing pumpkin goodies on The Style Dossier, so make sure to also go read what they had to say about the deliciousness that is pumpkin pancakes.

You can find this Martha Stewart recipe for pumpkin pancakes over here.

We just so happened to enjoy ours with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
It made them taste rather like eating pumpkin pie... only in pancake form. Yup. Enjoy!

* excuse the slightly burned edge of my pancake... they still tasted amazing...
nothing a little extra whipped cream cannot cure.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

(New) Favorite Florida Beach

A few days ago, my husband and I found our new favorite beach in Florida! A manager at work told me about her favorite beach, and I just knew we had to give it a try. Previously, our favorite beach was Siesta Key in Sarasota. However, after visiting Fort De Soto Park a few days ago, we have a new favorite. Move over Siesta Key. There's a new beach in town!

Fort De Soto Park gave us the beach we had imagined in our minds since moving to Florida. We found nature at its finest, and there were plenty of wildlife sightings to top off our day at the beach. After parking at the North Beach, we planted ourselves on the beach for an entire day. There was not an umbrella or beach chair within about a hundred yards to either side of us. It was almost like we had the place to ourselves! We did not notice any buildings from our spot on North Beach, and that was just the way we like our beach. In my honest opinion, I love beaches for their natural beauty. I feel especially relaxed when I look around and see dolphins, birds, and sand instead of high-rise condo buildings and cars. Fort De Soto is our quintessential Florida beach.

Aside from abundant natural beauty and perfect beach weather that day,
there were also a couple other firsts that made our day at Fort De Soto Park extra special. 

Remember all of my failed attempts at finding a whole sand dollar? Well, I finally found a whole sand dollar. It's small, but it is my very first whole sand dollar!

Even more exciting than finding shells, we found two hermit crabs slowly making their way along the bottom of the Gulf. I found the second one after stepping on something hard while wading through waist deep water. We named him (I'm making assumptions here) Herman the Hermit Crab. Poor Herman. His shell was covered in barnacles. I think it's time he finds a new shell-ter. (Sorry I couldn't help myself.) I sort of wanted to take Herman home, but I'm sure he would be much happier at Fort De Soto park than he would in our tiny apartment any day.

After enjoying a day at our new favorite beach, we stayed for a gorgeous sunset.
If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend trying to see a
Florida sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.
You won't regret it. Promise!

Happy Tuesday
Tonight we're enjoying a nice dinner out for my husband's birthday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Week...

Our favorite seagull, Gilbert, says:

Hey everyone!
I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Here are some things you can expect from me this week:

* photos from our new favorite beach in Florida
* more pumpkin/fall madness & a recipe
* possibly even an outfit post
* birthday stuff

Enjoy your monday!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day Trip to Mount Dora

A couple of days ago I promised you more photos from our day trip to Mount Dora, Florida. If you are not familiar with the area, it's located not too far northwest of Orlando. My husband recently flew with someone who grew up there, and he had nothing but good things to say about his hometown. We decided that we should give Mount Dora a try for ourselves!

We drove the 'back roads' from the Tampa Bay area to Mount Dora, and upon arriving we met up with another one of my husband's coworkers. We had not seen him since they were both in new hire training in Las Vegas together months ago. After a little searching on the internet, we decided on visiting The Goblin Market for lunch.

We found the restaurant entrance located off of a quaint little cobblestone alley. The first thing we noticed inside the restaurant were all of their interesting Halloween* decorations. Even with a plethora of holiday decorations, the restaurant was very cozy and intimate. The dining rooms were inviting, almost like eating at some one's home, and separated among two floors. Upstairs I found a gorgeous bar area, similar to the downstairs area where we ate, with bookshelves lining the walls. If you know anything about me, you know that I love books. Eating my meal surrounded by shelves of books was like a food/book lovers heaven.

(I asked our server if the restaurant was always decorated with skeletons and spiders.
With a name like Goblin Market one can never be too sure. They were indeed for the upcoming holiday.) 

Our server was more than helpful answering all of our my questions about the food on the menu. I finally settled on a burger and was a bit disappointed, but my husband and his coworker Jim both loved their meals of an ancho-rubbed chicken sandwich and blackened salmon salad. I typically end up wanting everyone else's meals. My husband usually orders the more tasty option, and I almost always steal bites of his meal. That's how I roll; somehow I almost always choose the less appealing menu option.

After eating lunch, we walked around town a bit and wished that we had taken part in the Segway tour of town. We watched as the tour members zipped past us on a couple of different occasions. However, after hearing my husband's coworker tell us about watching someone get thrown from a Segway, I'm not so sure I want to hop on one any more. My own two feet work pretty well, and they rarely throw me to the ground by accident.

We loved the walkable downtown of Mount Dora!
Do you have a favorite small downtown?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall in Florida

After all of my whining about how hot the temperatures have been here in Florida, October was ushered in by some lovely fall-ish weather. I suppose my definition of fall will change the longer we spend in Florida. We have welcomed this Florida fall weather with open arms!

The cooler temperatures make being outside somewhat tolerable, so obviously my husband and I took our day off of work together and made the best of it. Cooler temperatures really help with lugging around a camera bag while hoofing it through town. Seriously, no one wants to look like they just walked through a sprinkler while walking about the streets.

Some photos from our recent day trip to Mount Dora, Florida :

See... fall in Florida isn't that bad.

Come back in the next couple of days
to read more about our visit to Mount Dora!

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Dig Your Blog

Fellow pilot wife, Joanna, passed along the "I Dig Your Blog" award to me recently. You can read about her experiences as a mother and pilot wife over at Daddy... Daddy, come back! Thanks for choosing me, Joanna. Now... are you all ready for some randomness?

The rules of this award are to share 3 random facts about yourself,
and then pass the award along to 5 other bloggers.

Here are a few random facts about me:

1. I've visited 26 out of 50 states in the United States, and I hope to see them all some day. (I really need to update my travel map). The northwest and northeast are two parts of the country I have still never seen. I still think that northern Michigan (where I grew up) is one of the most beautiful places I have seen so far. If you want to know more just ask me! (Switzerland is pretty beautiful too, but that's a whole other blog post.)  I want to see the world, and my dream job would involve travel and writing about travel.

* here's a photo of the lake where I grew up in Michigan *

2. When I was in 8th grade, I broke my ankle while on a field trip to an amusement park/water park. After going on a few rides in the amusement park, I went with some friends to the water park where I broke my ankle on the first slide we went down. It was still one of the most painful things I've experienced yet! (No we don't have children yet.) I was escorted out of the water park on a golf cart, and everyone stared at me. It was incredibly embarrassing. One of my teachers drove me to a local clinic where they x-rayed my ankle and told me that I would most likely need surgery. The biggest perk of breaking my ankle was that I didn't have to ride the bus home. One of my teachers drove me home in the back of her station wagon, and she bought me a Snickers and fast food on the way home. I ended up having surgery and spending most of my summer in casts, and I'm pretty sure that my left leg is still slightly smaller than my right because of it. Yup.

* if you look closely you can see my super white leg just above my air cast/sock... cool, huh? *

3. I am an only child. Yes, you read that correctly. I have no brothers or sisters. At times I wish that I had siblings, but sometimes (mostly when I hear about how siblings fight and hate each other) I think it's pretty nice being an only child. I never had to share my parents either, so that was pretty cool. Everyone knows that only children stink at sharing. However, there are times when my dad and his brothers, or my mom and her sister, get together and share memories of growing up that I feel like I missed out on a special bond. I suppose that's partly why I loved our golden retriever, Gnomie, so much! She was my dog sister. Don't judge me. We all know that dogs make better listeners than humans do anyways.

* me, my grandparents, and my 'sister' *
(just in case you can't tell us apart, I'm the one with the monster feet slippers on)

So there you have it.
Hopefully you learned at least one new thing about me!

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This is the part where I choose 5 bloggers and tell them: "I Dig Your Blog"

Hopefully you learned some useless incredibly useful and random things about me,
but now it's time to learn about some other bloggers!

I am passing this award along to:

Maggy at Living Tall
Courtney at Eric and Courtney
Michelle at Living a Life of Love
Gentri at Gentri Lee

Now go and check out
these lovely blog friends!