Living in Paradise

Hi Beach Bunnies,

It’s hard to believe that Spring Break is just around the corner. We could probably all agree that there’s nothing better than a warm weather spring break getaway with your best buds, exploring a new tropical island or beach town anywhere south of the border. I’ve had some pretty memorable adventures, driving 15 hours down from still-snowy Pennsylvania to the college kid party town Panama City Beach, another holiday spent sailing around the Out Islands of the Bahamas making daily stops at local outposts and spotting Russell Crow at one native nightlife hotspot, and another unforgettable trip riding in an old Eurovan from Oregon to San Diego, making stops in Pismo Beach, Carmel, Monterey, the WiSpa, then spending Easter reading from the Dao in dreamy Balboa Park, practicing yoga, getting a Thai massage and then eating some amazing Vietnamese food in the evening. No chocolate bunnies on that vacation 😉

 

Oceanside, CA

Oceanside, CA

 

Despite my almost instinctual desire to ‘fly south’ when the cold weather has taken its toll, I can now lay claim to the fact that I live in paradise. Pinch. I live where I would normally wish to go! So what now? I suppose I could pack a bag and traverse to another locale that I’ve always wanted to visit, but right now is the time of year that Florida is meant to be enjoyed aka we only have a few more months before the humidity really kicks up and storm season is upon us again (that’s when I most want to get away, hehe). So I think this year I’ll make a staycation out of it and enjoy all the loveliness that the local scene has to offer. My niece and nephew are coming down in a few weeks so I might take them to Gatorland or for an airboat ride at Lake Jesup. The Strawberry Festival in Plant City is coming up very soon and there’s always the very beautiful Lakeridge Winery in Clermont to enjoy. Of course there’s also a ton of gorgeous natural springs I still haven’t been to. And so many fun theme parks and beaches just a stone’s throw away. Spring Break, let’s get local!

 

Lakeridge Winery

Lakeridge Winery in Clermont, Florida

 

Florida Vineyard

Florida Vineyard – Try their Southern Red, it’s amazing!

 

Wine Country

Who knew Central Florida has rolling hills and wine country?!

 

Where will your 2017 Spring Break travels take you?

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Sail into 2017 with Sperry

One of my 2017 New Year’s goals is to learn to sail. Sailing has been a long-time fascination of mine ever since I went on a week-long sailing adventure in the Bahamas when I was in college as part of a photojournalism class I was taking. The trip was part pleasure (lots of great photo ops!) and part work, meaning that we all had to pitch in doing the chores, which included cooking in the galley, cleaning the heads, swabbing the decks, and taking shifts at the helm. This excursion around the Out Islands of the Bahamas brought about a deep love for being on the water, exploring uninhabited islands, and enjoying the aquamarine and sapphire waters of the Caribbean.

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That said, I need to get out on the water again! I have two paddle boards that I’d like to start using more but they are very large and a bit of a pain to transport around on my car roof. I know, lame excuse right? Living in Florida should really permit no excuses because there are lakes and water virtually everywhere, the whole state is surrounded by ocean, and you are never more than an hour’s drive from a beach, so I guess I need to step up my game this coming year 😉

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I’m also interested in trying rowing as a sport and source of fitness, so I’m looking into that as well, but most of all I want to learn to sail. My husband is also interested in pursuing this hobby and daydreaming about owning our own boat one day, so we plan to take lessons together as soon as financially possible.

Speaking of all things nautical, one of my favorite sea-inspired lifestyle brands is Sperry, have you ever heard of them? They’ve been around forever and are known for their amazing boat shoes among other great sailing gear. I recently got a cute pair of topsiders and some clothing at our local retail store. Here’s me rocking my favorite Sperry tank top which I found on clearance back in July, very patriotic colors for summer. Luckily here, I can wear this kind of outfit year-round!

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Santa brought Matt a few Sperry goodies for Christmas this year, including a belt and shirt, and he recently scored this pair of shoes which I absolutely love on him. There’s nothing better than quality made products that are both fashionable and functional, is there?!

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I hope you all have a fabulous New Year’s Eve ‘sailing into the new year’! We’re going to dinner and a movie, hubby really wants to see the new Star Wars movie and we thought we’d just do something low-key so just having a sweet date night together to celebrate all we’ve accomplished in 2016. What are you going to do? Let me know your sunny day living goals for 2017 as well ❤

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Tis the Season to Rescue a Fur Friend!

Last week while reflecting on my blessings over Thanksgiving dinner, my thoughts went straight to my fur babes; Bindi, Kona, Luna, and Apollo. While they were all nice and cozy back home down in the Sunshine State, I was celebrating the holiday with my family in New Jersey. Since Matt and I don’t have any children yet, I refer to them as my ‘kids’ – which he doesn’t like too much because to him they are pets, lol. But they really are my little babes and I love them with all my heart. Most of all, I love that I have the opportunity to be a rescue mom 🙂

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Growing up we were not allowed to have pets other than fish, hermit crabs, and hamsters (such excitement), so I could not wait to be able to adopt a dog and kitty cat once I was on my own. I wasted no time, adopting my first kitty when I was in college and still actually living at home. I snuck the little gray Maine Coon kitten named Zan into the house and hid him in my bathroom for a couple of days before my grandmother became suspicious and blew my cover. Luckily my parents were more surprised than angry so they let me keep him since they knew I’d be moving out soon. Zan became my sometimes sweet (and mostly very sassy) companion for the next 12 years, but we had an amazing bond and because of him I knew I would never be without a fur baby again.

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Bindi Cheyenne, my first pooch came from Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach, FL in 2012. I believe she came from a hoarding situation and experienced severe abuse. She is very timid and especially frightened of men. She was also terrified of stairs when I first adopted her and didn’t know how to walk up them. She becomes aggressive around other dogs and it can be a little embarrassing because people always ask to pet her because she looks so adorable, but then she’ll snap at them so I have to respond that she isn’t friendly. I was volunteering at the shelter when I met her and learned that she had been adopted and returned that same week because the people had other pets that she didn’t get along with. I took her for a walk and saw how scared she was at first but then she relaxed and started to show signs of a very happy pup underneath her initial display of distrust. I felt terrible putting her back in the kennel and I actually started crying as I walked out to my car thinking about her sweet face. I knew at that moment she was the dog for me so I walked back inside and said I was interested in adopting her. When they brought her into the room she came right under my seat and laid down and hasn’t left my side since ❤

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Kona Otis was adopted from Hope’s Haven in Salem, Oregon in 2013. He was brought there from another shelter in northern California and was apparently dropped off at a vet’s office with his mother because his owner couldn’t take care of them anymore. Kona had an unusual attachment to his mother and followed her everywhere. He was a year old when we adopted him and didn’t know what to do on his own. A couple had come to adopt his mother sadly separating the two and I decided to take him for a few days to see if he could get along with Bindi. To my surprise she accepted him immediately. Kona is very mellow and submissive so Bindi was able to retain her alpha dog status and to this day she loves to boss Kona around. Since he never really recovered from his codependency issues with his mom, he now follows Bindi around and the two of them have a great time playing together, some people even think they’re litter mates. Kona loves to swim at the beach!

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I adopted Luna Lemon from Willamette Humane Society the towards the end of Zan’s life in 2014 because I was pretty upset about losing the first real fur companion I ever had and thought if I was able to focus some attention on the new kitty then the loss wouldn’t be as difficult (it still was). Luna is the total opposite of Zan, she’s the most loving little thing all the time. She never bites or hisses or seems to have a mean cat bone in her body. Sometimes she gets harassed by her brother Apollo but she takes it in stride mostly. She was recently named Pet of the Month by our apartment complex.

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Last but not least is Apollo14. He was found in a woodpile with food caked on his face, fleas, worms, etc. Poor little guy. We adopted him at around 4 months old, particularly because black cats have a harder time getting adopted. There are quite a few of them and for some reason they get overlooked in the shelter. We played with him for a bit and he seemed active and sweet but boy did he fool us. This little guy is a handful. He’s nonstop action and acts more like a dog than a cat. He’ll run laps around the house, pounce on everyone and anyone including the dogs, and he seems to have more energy than any of us combined. He’s about two years old now but shows no signs of settling down. We actually have to keep him outside on our balcony at night because he constantly kneads on us while we sleep and he even has a naughty habit of chewing through cords – we’ve lost 4 computer cords and phone chargers now thanks to him. But at the same time he is a genuine lover, always purring and loving to be held and cuddled.

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Anyway, I just wanted to share these stories because animal rescue is such an easy way to make a difference and help homeless animals. If you can’t adopt, please donate to a shelter or volunteer because it takes very little but can make a huge difference. Too many people are buying pets from pet shops, which exist to make a profit, or get animals from pet mills or breeders and this is completely unnecessary when there are thousands of amazing dogs and cats around the country being put down every day because they cannot find parents to adopt them. Shelter animals may be a little more challenging because they’ve been strays or had a rough start in life, but this is what makes being their pet parent so precious and rewarding. I wouldn’t trade my little fur kids for anything, they are all so unique and special – flaws, fits and all!

Christmas Pups

Christmas Pups

Bindi & Kona even got to visit Santa a few years ago. As you can see, they look thrilled ;-P

Do you have an heart-warming animal rescue story to share? I want to hear about it, comment please!

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SoFlo to SoCal

This weekend Matt & I will be traveling to San Diego to visit some of his family. We have a direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale so I’m pretty happy about that 🙂  We were supposed to go last month but Hurricane Matthew rearranged our travel plans a bit. I always look forward to the opportunity to travel to my favorite US city! The first time I visited was only in 2013, so I’m still a newbie and learning all the ins and outs of this beautiful west coast land.

Some of my favorite spots so far include Encinitas, where you can explore the sacred grounds of the Self-Realization Temple or visit the Jois Yoga Center, and then grab a relaxing bite to eat in one of the many local cafes; the incredible Balboa Park – taking a stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden and teahouse; Old Town – who doesn’t love wandering around a reminiscent town of yesteryear and finding colorful, inexpensive Mexican treasures? And also I really enjoy quirky little spots in the city like the Aero Club and Vin de Syrah.

For a southern hemisphere-loving lady like myself, San Diego has everything one could ask for – amazing beaches, a mild and sunny climate, great culture and entertainment options, delicious food, and close proximity to the mountains and nature; just an all around lovely landscape. If it wasn’t so darned expensive to live, we’d be there in a hot minute.

Last time we were visiting, we hiked a popular trail at Cowles Mountain and were able to take in this stunning view of the city.

Cowles Mountain

Since Florida lacks a very diverse terrain and low humidity, it’s always great to enjoy the west coast for a nice change. I also love the desert flora and all the interesting creatures you’ll find living here. The desert landscape against the blue sky backdrop is just gorgeous!

CA Desert

If I was a local, I think I would have a very hard time splitting my time between the mountains and the beach, although I’d have to say the beach would likely win out. After a morning of hiking or mountain biking, it would be nice to cool off and relax on the shores of the Pacific.

Robin & Matt

The fall is an excellent time to visit San Diego because the weather is just perfect. Like Florida, where the weather is brutally hot and afternoon thunderstorms abound during June-August, summer isn’t the most ideal time of year in San Diego either, because you get a lot of overcast and clouds from the marine layer (mostly in the mornings but sometimes can last for the better part of the afternoons as well). They call it the June Gloom and it tends to get better as the summer months wear on, but to be safe I’d recommend planning a trip in September or October, when the ocean water temperature is pretty warm and the clear, sunny, warm days abound.

Could I please have a little bungalow in San Diego and be bicoastal? Pretty please with seashells on top?!

Sandy Feet

“Life is better in flip flops”

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Devil’s Den

Since it’s Halloween, I thought this would be an appropriate post. If you’re living in (or visiting) the Central Florida area, there’s a pretty cool spot I highly recommend checking out if you are an outdoors fan like me. It’s called Devil’s Den Spring and it’s about an hour and 45 minute drive from Orlando in a town called Williston. There is an underwater spring where you can snorkel, or scuba dive inside a dry cave, and the water remains a refreshing 72 degrees year round. Images of this magical place started popping up on social media and it looked pretty amazing so my friend and I decided we ought to investigate one afternoon. After turning off down a secluded road and driving for a couple miles, you are greeted by this sign. Pretty creepy looking huh?!

Devil's Den

It’s best to go on a week day if possible because it does tend to get very crowded, especially in the summer. We got there in the morning but a couple hours later they were on a two-hour wait to get in the spring. What you’ll find when you arrive is a little building where you can rent snorkeling or scuba gear. You need to sign a waiver of course and pay a very nominal fee, and then you get a rundown of the rules about what’s allowed and not allowed, and finally are told you can enter (unless they’re on a very long wait of course, then you have the option to walk around the property or go in their heated swimming pool).

Devil's Den Spring

There’s a little boardwalk that leads to a place that allows you to peer down into the spring. It basically looks like a hollow sinkhole in the earth with clear blue water inside. When you are ready to descend down the long staircase to the spring (make sure to hold on to the railing, very slippery when wet), your eyes will immediately transfix on the crystal electric blue water color and the rock formations along the walls. The temperature suddenly drops and you find yourself standing on a small platform, looking down another long staircase. This one goes directly down to a floating dock where you put on your snorkel fins and jump in. The staircase can only be climbed by one person at a time and it feels a little nerve-wracking as you descend, but once you get to the dock you need to move quickly because quite a few other people may be entering or exiting the water at any given time and you are not supposed to hang out on the dock (though it seems like not many people pay attention to this rule).

Devil's Den Staircase

I had to work up my bravery because the water did feel quite chilly since essentially you are in a cave and though the sunlight may be shining through, the air temperature is already lower down there. Once I fully submersed, it was definitely ‘refreshing feeling’ aka cold, so I had to keep moving or I wouldn’t have lasted very long. You can see a few fish in the water but the snorkeling is more for novelty than for being wowed by the deep blue aquatic world here. However, it is pretty cool if you are into scuba diving because of the cave system (I myself am way too freaked out by the gear and I get claustrophobic so there’s no way I was going to try that). You can swim around for as long as you like and once you’re in the water, your pass is good all day so you can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it in the picnic pavilion, go for a swim in the pool, and then come back and snorkel some more if you like.

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We stayed for a couple of hours and then decided to check out another spring since there are several others nearby. Of course we got a little sidetracked first by a delicious lunch spot we found. You can read more about that adventure here.

Hope you have a devil of a Halloween!

Boo to you!

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Caribbean Jack’s Restaurant & Bar

Eating outside is one of my favorite pleasures in life. I adore being outdoors in general, so if it’s a nice day out and I’m going to a restaurant, my eyes light up immediately if I see they have a patio dining area. One recent summer evening in particular, Matt and I were driving down the coast looking for a nice place to stop for dinner, preferably along the water, so I looked on Yelp and found a place called Caribbean Jack’s Restaurant & Bar in Daytona Beach that had pretty good reviews. We decided to check it out and that turned out to be an excellent dining decision!

Caribbean Jacks

As we arrived, we noticed we were in a rather industrial area, which didn’t seem to be a place where you’d find a restaurant, but it was there nonetheless. The parking lot was nearly full but they did have valet service, so we climbed out of the truck, handed over our keys and proceeded to ask the hostess for a patio table.

The back patio has both covered tables which provide some shade, and open tables on the deck, and they also have these sort of rocking chair covered tables which were certainly the most coveted of the bunch. Most can hold about 4 people but they had a few 2-seaters too, perfect for a nice date night. These provide the best view of the water as well!

Caribbean Jack's Restaurant

We fell in love with the Pina Colada Shrimp appetizer, the sauce was so lick-your-fingers good. With many different options to choose from, Matt ordered the Mahi BLT and I chose the Mahi Tacos for our entrees, which both left us deeply satisfied. The Mahi was so tender and melted in your mouth and had just the right amount of jerk seasoning on it to give it a nice kick.

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Next time I want to try…..everything!! 🙂

Food

They also had a very extensive fruity drink menu with daily specials, including a coconut pirate drink souvenir you can get, 64 oz. fishbowl drinks, and there’s a Caribbean Jack’s gift shop, and live music (on Saturday nights), so the ambiance was very lovely. We watched the sun set slowly over the Halifax River and caught the Caribbean-vibe fever, commenting that we’d have to bring our friends back to this tropical eatery.

Bridge

It was a really lovely place to watch the sunset ❤

Outdoor Seating

A few weeks later we did return with some family members and they also greatly enjoyed the experience. We had managed to snag one of the popular rocking chair tables again, and good thing because there was a passing sun shower during our meal, but we stayed dry thanks to the covering. And to cap off the delicious meal and the indulgent Bananas Foster we got for dessert, was a lovely double rainbow!

Maybe ol’ ‘Caribbean’ Jack Gilbert himself was smiling down on us, fisting upwards a bottle of spiced rum.

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What’s your favorite waterfront eatery? Share your best recommendations below! Thanks,

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Clean Up Crew

It’s kind of ironic as I write this post because I started the draft a few days ago and now that we Floridians are just past the threat of Hurricane Matthew, it seems more than appropriate to talk about. Luckily, most of Florida dodged a pretty big bullet as the destruction from this powerful storm could have been considerably worse if it had decided to come ashore. However, the Atlantic coastline up and down the state did take some severe beatings and undoubtably brought debris ashore, along with litter from nearby structures. Trash on the beach can harm wildlife, and is especially dangerous to marine life if it gets washed out to sea. According to www.sciencedaily.com as of 2008, trash in the ocean kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year through ingestion and entanglement. This is so sad and yet so easily preventable!

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I try to celebrate Earth Day every day and one of my favorite ways of giving back to our beautiful planet is to participate in a beach clean-up whenever I have the chance. Whether it’s organized by a group or just going about it on my own, or with a good friend, it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend morning or evening, strolling along the beach while tidying up the shoreline at the same time. All you need is a trash bag and either some rubber gloves or a trash picker-upper and you’re good to go! Walk along the beach and collect as much garbage as you can and then discard appropriately. You’ll be amazed at how much junk you can pick up in just a few minutes of beach-combing. Who knows, you might even find a pretty shell or a nice pair of sunglasses too while you’re at it.

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If you live in the Central Florida area and are looking for ways to get involved, check out the Mission Clean Beaches website, a non-profit organization created to raise awareness of marine debris and educate people on how it affects coastal wildlife. You can also participate in a monthly clean-up sponsored by the Sea Turtle Preservation Society in Melbourne, or look for volunteer opportunities with Tampa Bay Watch if you are closer to the gulf coast. If you aren’t located in this area, visit the Ocean Conservatory’s website to find a local clean-up site near where you live. Imagine how much nicer it would be to walk on pristine beaches with no cigarette butts, no empty bottles and wrappers, or random pieces of trash?!

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Have you ever participated in a coastal clean-up project before? What was the strangest object you came across in your treasure hunt? (Mine was a very large bra) Tell me about it in the comments!

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The Conch House

My husband and I decided to visit St. Augustine, FL, one of the most beautiful cities in the state, and notoriously the oldest city in the nation, to scope out sites for our legal ceremony, which we needed to do after getting back from Mexico (they don’t make it super easy to legally wed in Mexico). We knew we would bring just a handful of people with us, a couple friends and family that would be in town. We had in mind a simple ceremony on the beach in the morning before it got too hot, followed by lunch at a seafood restaurant on the water. By the time we arrived mid-morning, we were jonesin’ for some food, so we looked up a few places on our phones and found one called the Conch House that would turn out to be perfect.

Conch House

I love their tag line, ‘If you love the Caribbean, you’ll love us!’ Because if you know me, you know I happen to love anything island-themed, tropical, and beachy, so Matt knew right off the bat this would be just the place to take me. We arrived and noticed right away that they had something really unique and special in their outdoor seating area, tiki huts right on (and some over) the water! What a cool place 🙂

Conch House St. Augustine

Unfortunately, it had just started raining when we got there so we had to eat inside. We ordered brunch and were both delighted with what we got and the presentation of the meals. I ordered basically a fruit platter because my stomach hadn’t been feeling that great all morning and Matt got a shrimp & eggs platter (which I may have snuck a few bites of!) They were absolutely delicious and we learned that they only serve brunch on the weekends, so we were sure glad we got to try these yummy dishes. Also, every Sunday from 3-7pm during March-October, they have live reggae music and a big deck party.

Brunch

After finishing our meals, the sun came back out so we ventured out to the patio to check out the live baby gators they have and survey the rest of the scene. It turned out that the huts can fit up to 8 people so we knew we’d be good for bringing our guests here, and the food had already convinced us, so we then left to check out the beaches and seek out the perfect spot for the ceremony. We ended up settling on a overlook point at Anastasia State Park. My best friend even got ordained so she could marry us. Maybe another blog about this to come! I just love weddings, sometimes I think I would really enjoy being a wedding planner.

Gators

A few weeks later when we did return, the weather was fine but we arrived around noon and it was already blazing HOT. A member of our party was 7 months pregnant and we had just sweated profusely taking photographs on the beach after our mini second wedding, so we again opted to eat indoors, where it was cooler. So now we just have another reason to go back again and finally eat in one of those cute little huts! Everyone greatly enjoyed the food and nautical decor, and we also discovered an upstairs bar and eating area with a great view of the water. We capped off the afternoon with a stroll through the shops downtown and a visit to the Pirate & Treasure Museum, which is a must-see attraction if you are in the area. Arggh.

Brunch Gang

In addition to the restaurant, there is also the Conch House Marina, where you can fish and do all kinds of water activities, and even a motel on the property as well. So really, you could just have a whole little vacation experience if you want to do a weekend getaway. I’m glad we found this southern charm to host our Florida casual reception lunch, and I’m definitely going to tell people about it if they are planning a trip to the area. Nom nom nom nom!

Conch House Marina

Mr. & Mrs. Frey = Now Legit! ❤

Do you have a favorite place to grab grub in St. Augustine or another coastal town? Love to hear your recommendations! Xo

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Swampy’s Bar & Grille

One hot, muggy, Florida summer day in July, my girlfriend and I wanted to check out a place we’d read about called Rainbow Springs in the town of Dunnellon. Driving about an hour north of Orlando, we decided to stop for lunch first because a good ole’ afternoon thunderstorm had made its way into the area, so we knew we had some time to pass before we would be able to venture into the springs for a dip.

As we drove through the quaint little town, we suddenly found ourselves engulfed in a blinding downpour, so we quickly scanned the area for a nearby local eatery and had recalled seeing a place called Swampy’s  that looked interesting when we first arrived in town. I turned the car around and circled back, as the relentless droplets continued to hit hard on my windshield. It was a bar and grille with southern flair, but also a kayak rental facility. There was an outdoor patio situated right on the banks of the Rainbow River, but we made our way indoors promptly to shield ourselves from the rain.

Swampy's

I expected the food to be mediocre at first, typical bar food quality. But when I picked up the menu, I was pleasantly surprised to see many intriguing offerings. I ordered the Mahi & Shrimp Orleans entree for $14.99. It was simply delicious, the mahi melted in my mouth and I even had some leftover to take home with me. Other popular favorites on the menu included alligator soup, gator salad, fried pickles, cajun peanuts, gator po’boy, Mardi Gras chicken poppers, jambalaya and Swampy’s étouffée.

Mahi & Shrimp

After finishing our meal, we waited out the rain by chatting up some of the locals at a table nearby who told us about the other hot spots to go for kayaking, snorkeling and swimming. Through the windows, we watched a few folks floating down the river in inner tubes, rafts, and small watercraft. The extra precipitation didn’t seem to bother them one bit. We even saw a family dock up to come have a meal at this infamous eatery and leave their pup on guard duty in the boat, after all, you gotta keep watch out for those alligators 🙂

Rainbow River

An hour or so later, the rain had finally stopped. Our food had settled and we were ready to continue on to our original destination. It was pretty late in the day by now and we were just excited to take a refreshing dip in the clear blue spring water. Usually, around this time of year, the ocean water temperature is pretty high, but the many natural springs located throughout Florida stay a refreshing 72 degrees almost year round. Isn’t the water color here just gorgeous?!

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I love stumbling across great local restaurants in unexpected places. Swampy’s, with its raw beauty of a Florida river swamp theme and excellent selection of Southern food, did not disappoint.

Best local food stop you’ve ever stumbled on by accident? Write me about it!

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Oooh, Mexico!

“Oooh, Mexico
It sounds so sweet
With the sun sinkin’ low
The moon’s so bright
Likes to light up the night
Make everything alright.” – Jimmy Buffett

1 month ago I traveled to Los Cabos, Mexico to marry the love of my life! I’ve been to Mexico once before to Cancun, which is on the opposite side of the country, but this was my first time traveling to the Baja Peninsula and the beautiful city of Cabo San Lucas.

Wedding Ceremony Site

My now-husband had found an all-inclusive resort called Dreams early on in the planning stages of our destination wedding. We both liked the idea of a beach wedding, someplace tropical. I wanted the Caribbean and thought St. Lucia would be lovely, and we looked into Sandals, which is a pretty popular spot for couples to honeymoon or wed. We thought summer would work well since we got engaged in January and wanted a relatively short engagement, but didn’t want to chance the weather with being right in the middle of storm season in the Caribbean, so then we looked at alternative locations.

Wedding Pic

Matt suggested Hawaii but that seemed a little far to travel. We realized that Mexico is pretty cheap and not too far for most of our guests, who were mainly traveling from the west coast. Also, the climate is arid desert, so they don’t get much rain, and seldom see the same tropical storm activity that is common in the Caribbean during this time of year. Dreams is a chain of family all-inclusive resorts similar to the Sandals/Beaches resorts. Their version of the couples-only resorts is called Secrets, and both Dreams and Secrets can be found throughout many locations in the Caribbean and Mexico. We were married on the beach at 5pm on August 14th, 2016 ❤

I do

Our wedding-moon ended up being really special so we’re pretty thrilled we picked Dreams Los Cabo. It was definitely hot (that’s what happens when you have a Mexico wedding in August!), but overall everyone had a great time and enjoyed lazy afternoons with cold drinks by the pool, and danced under the moonlight of this magical land, while sounds of waves lapped against the shore where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez come together.

Flowers

Our wedding ceremony was held on the beach, so we all went barefoot and then wore flip flops to our reception. We had a cocktail hour by the pool with a mariachi band and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a small intimate reception for our 18 guests. Everything was outdoors and the weather ended up being beautiful. The night before we had a welcome party beach bonfire for our guests with s’mores, hot dogs, snacks, and specially crafted cocktails. They decorated with lanterns, tiki torches, luminaries and comfy cushions.

Rings

Most of our guests stayed for at least 3 days and we stayed for a week, so we had a few days to enjoy alone together for a nice honeymoon. We took a short cab ride to the town of San Jose del Cabo, which has some nice shops and a traditional Mexican culture, and we also went in the opposite direction to the city of Cabo San Lucas, a more lively town with lots of tourist activities, shops, and restaurants. As an excursion, we took a camel ride safari tour, which we absolutely loved. In addition to riding camels on the beach, you go on a nature walk down into a canyon and learn about the fauna of Mexico, ride in an outback vehicle, and participate in tequila tasting, and a delicious authentic Mexican style lunch. Yum!

Group Shot

My favorite part about the photos are how well our wedding colors coordinate with the backdrop of the gorgeous ocean and sugary sand. I’m glad we chose to go with khaki for the guys and turquoise for the ladies, as it certainly looks very beachy indeed. One of the inclusions of a Dreams wedding package is 1 or 2 free anniversary nights (based on a 4-5 night stay) on your one-year anniversary at any of their properties. We are really looking forward to vacationing again either in the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica next August!

Happily Ever After

Have a favorite exotic vacation destination you love? Getting married soon destination wedding style? Please share with me about it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!! Xoxo,

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