Hello! I hope your day has been a great one so far. The last 24 hours have been a bit of a whirlwind over here. I started this post yesterday afternoon at my parents’ house in Orlando, returned to it last night after I got home, fell asleep, almost finished it on the plane, and now am finally wrapping it up and sharing from home in Rochester Hills!
It’s crazy how fast we can get from one place and environment to the next, isn’t it? My trip home to Florida felt like it went by at warp speed, but I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to make it happen. Here are some of the highlights!
• convertible time with mom
It’s a given that I thoroughly enjoyed getting a break from the snow and cold by being down in the Florida sunshine. Over the past decade or so, my mom has owned a convertible, and we always make sure to get a good couple of drives in together any time I make a visit.
I’m not sure that Scott appreciated the phone call I made to him (giddily noting I was basking in the sun without a parka) on the way up to Jacksonville, but the extra time with mom and Vitamin D was much needed and appreciated!
• day at the ranch in St. Augustine
My family has always gone up to my aunt’s ranch for holidays and gatherings for as long as I can remember. It’s absolutely gorgeous there!
Every time we pull up and into the long driveway, I can’t help but want to take a photo of the entrance and scenery. This time I did.
She lives in the country acres of St. Augustine and houses many animals like horses, dogs, and even a pig! The two hour drive up from Orlando never seems that long once we get there, and I always look forward to being able to unplug and enjoy the outdoors with family I don’t get to see often enough.
(Me with my sister, Trish)
This trip home was especially important to me, as I wanted to spend as much time with my family and specifically my grandpa as possible. If you’re one who prays, I would love you to keep him and us in your prayers over the next few weeks. <3
After a couple of hours of catching up, my brother, my sister, and her family walked down to the pond to fish. We weren’t expecting to catch much, but it was worth a shot!
(Me with my niece, Kayla, and nephew, Cole.)
I’m pretty sure the last time I attempted to fish was with my dad and grandpa, and I also might have been in diapers. I love being outdoors and near the water, but touching fish just isn’t my bag. With the help from my brother, Clay, I cast my line and felt a strong tug no more than thirty seconds later.
I caught my first bass! I’ll touch a lot of questionable things in this world, but fish isn’t ever going to be one of them. Cleaning my old fish tank used to even freak me out. It’s just one of those things, I guess.
So, I snapped my celebratory photo of him holding my catch, and was happy to have him unhook and release it back into the water for me. Thanks, bro!
Throughout the afternoon, the group of us circled from inside to out and I enjoyed every minute of being at the ranch with loved ones.
As everyone settled in for the night, I took the advantage of being so close to my good friend, Ashley, and met her at a local Starbucks. Although we live across the country from each other, we always pick up right where we left off every time I see her.
It was so great to sneak in a visit while I was up there!
• Native Sun Marketplace
On our way back to Orlando, my mom mentioned stopping at a health food store similar to Whole Foods. We wanted to grab something nutritious and substantial to hold us over through the drive home, so I was on board right away.
To anyone in the Jacksonville area, have you ever been to Native Sun Marketplace? They have a location in Southside and another in Mandarin, and it was a lovely place to buy fresh produce and groceries.
I got some work done in the cafe while my mom shopped around, and we ordered a couple of fruit smoothies before hitting the road.
Both included unique ingredients (like lavender flowers in hers and ginger in mine) and were very delicious!
• running outside and biking with my parents
I already shared a few of these photos yesterday, but I can’t do a highlights post without including them again. After weeks of not being able to (er… want to) run in the cold Michigan temperatures, I went for a run outside in a tank top and shorts!
My parents hopped on their bikes and I ran behind them as we made loops through our neighborhood. We made sure to stop by the neighborhood lake, which is the same body of water my family spent almost every weekend boating on while I was growing up.
It’s so pretty there. I told my parents to go ahead, and I walked over to the sand to sit down and take it all in for a couple more minutes.
It isn’t every day that I get to see a Florida sunset over the lake anymore. It was so beautiful!
I caught my parents on their loop back to the lake and followed them out to the main street a little while longer. We lost each other after a mile or so, so I took it upon myself to make my way home and loop back through towards the lake.
I seriously can’t get enough of that view! Is it summer yet?
• First Watch Café
I have mentioned my love for First Watch on the blog several times. In fact, I used to work there as server during the day while I was dancing for the Magic for three years!
When one of my best childhood friends asked if I wanted to get brunch there yesterday, it was a quick and eager yes from me. I have known Melissa for twenty-seven years (we met at the age of three in a dance class!), and I was so excited to finally meet her precious baby boy in person.
Ryan is about five months old, and might just be the cutest thing. I couldn’t get over his big blue eyes and adorable pinch-able cheeks!
Per usual, I didn’t get past the breakfast page on the menu and ordered an old favorite: the Greek Fetish Omelet with egg whites. I usually sub out the breakfast potatoes for tomato slices, but not this time. Gosh, they’re good.
If you ever get the chance to go to a First Watch, you have to try their breakfast potatoes and ginormous pancakes at least once. Trust me!
• Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
Even though we were plenty full, the three of us walked (well, Ryan rode in his stroller) over to Jeremiah’s Italian Ice for an extra treat. If you’ve never been to Jeremiah’s and you are in the Central Florida area, I also highly recommend you make a trip happen.
They are known for their Italian Ice flavors, and I always get the gelati that mixes Italian ice with soft ice cream. It’s the best.
I ordered piña colada swirled with vanilla ice cream, and Melissa ordered the cookies and cream flavor. You really can’t go wrong with any of their combos!
It was the perfect end to a wonderful couple of hours with her and Baby Ryan.
I’m so glad it worked out for us to see each other!
• Bahama Nails (with Publix subs)
Knowing I was only going to be in Orlando for a day, I messaged a couple more of my best childhood friends ahead of time and made plans for afternoon and dinner dates. I asked my friend Katie when the last time she got her nails done, since one of my favorite things to do in my hometown is get a pedicure at Bahama Nails.
The owner of the salon lives right across the street from my parents, so my family and friends have been frequenting her salon since our high school days! I just love the bath salts and laid back beachy atmosphere there.
Knowing there was a Publix nearby, I asked her if we could first stop by to pick up and split a Publix sub. If any of you have ever tried a sub (yes, from the deli section at a grocery store), you completely understand my obsession. There’s just something about the bread that made it my go-to lunch for years and years while I lived near one.
Friends… if you are lucky enough to live by a Publix, do me a favor and stop in for a sub every once in a while, will ya? Scott and I both miss them more than we ever expected to since moving up north!
Katie recently got a pedicure, but she offered to take my by the salon and hang out while I got mine anyways. She’s nice like that.
We chatted by the dryer station for a good fifteen minutes, and I thought it was hilarious that we were talking through baskets and plants. It felt like I was visiting her at jail or something. Apparently, I am easily entertained.
After I checked out, we went back to her house and spent the next hour or so catching up. There’s a lot to talk about when you only get to see your friends a couple of times a year!
• Tijuana Flats
Straight from Katie’s house, my friend Meggan picked me up and took me out to dinner. We planned on going out for coffee, but I caved and suggested Tijuana Flats instead.
I forgot how great that place is! If you’re looking for quick and extremely fresh and delicious Mexican food in the Central Florida area, Tijuana Flats is the place to get it. They have amazing tacos, burritos, crushed iced, (seriously… it’s addicting) and are known for their hot bar filled with a variety of punny hot sauce names.
I stick to the medium to hot flavors, but some of them can get really intense! Scott always likes to test out the dangerously spicy sauces when we go. That’s usually fun to watch. Both Meggan and I ordered the Taco Tuesday special that came with two tacos, a drink, and a side of chips for $5.
We sat outside, so I wasn’t able to snap the best photo, but believe me when I say they are extremely tasty. I didn’t get a photo of Meggan and I, but I was very happy to have some time with her as well!
My trip down to the Sunshine State was a quick one, but well worth it. Right now, I am home sitting in my living room and looking out the window at piles and inches snow on the ground. At least I brought some of the sunshine with me!
Until next time, Orlando!