Saying Good-Bye

House Sitting…Again

I have been staying at my friend Kathy’s who you might remember from the Boney James concert or from my House Sitting page.  I was house sitting when I first got here Wednesday, her  family was in South Carolina visiting their families.  They have a little chihuahua, a black cat, and…a pool.

What time I was not spending going to the doctors to get some last-minute checkups since I still have my health insurance until the end of the month I was spending sleeping, sunning, and writing.  Good news though, I already have Hepatitis B shot in my blood so I do not need any shots!  Just had my tetanus shot a year or two ago so that is good.

Well, I was also trying to keep peace between the cat and the dog.  The cat would go over to the sleeping dog and jump attack and would chase him around when he came in from a walk.  Then at night the cat would come and try to chase the dog out of the bed and then try to sit on my face.  When no one would pay attention to him, he would start tearing at the blinds.  It was interesting.

Saying Good-Bye

The day before Kathy and her family came home I went to the store looking for a birthday gift for Kathy’s oldest daughter Helen.  We have been best buds for five years.  I was her first sleep over that was not family.  I took her to Disney to get her Princess Makeover.  From birthdays to Christmases and Thanksgivings we were all a family.  Her mom has been like an older sister to me and she is like my niece.  Her mom’s last presents were tickets to see Boney James and Chris Botti but I had not found something for Helen.  Normally, I like to give her presents that are something we can do together.

As I walked around the store, an entire flashback montage came back to me starting five years ago when I moved to Winter Haven for my first job after I graduated from college.  From buying my first curtains and my nice living room and patio furniture and plants for my garden where I threw many dinners.  I used to sit out on my patio on my swing that converted to a fixed, flat bed with a fire pit and watch the stars and listen to the crickets.  I would cook with my fresh herbs on the grill.  Jack would dig up every pineapple I tried to grow and ate my cinnamon basil if I left him outside.  I met Kathy and her family, who lived one building down in my apartment complex, and then every night Jack and I would walk to Kathy’s house.  Almost every night.

There was the time Jack got out from the patio when I was at work and Kathy’s husband found him sitting outside of the gate barking at people who went by.  Or the Halloween when the stray kitten I tried to adopt ate my bird, Sunny and Kathy and her husband came and cleaned the entire mess up. Including the mess the dog left behind because he shaking in the corner scare. The bird was friend.

Or maybe the only Thanksgiving I spent living in Winter Haven when I went down to Kathy’s house and used her girl’s wagon to haul a load of beer and liquor from my apartment to her’s, with the then two-year old girl in the wagon (there is a picture somewhere).  Hours of sitting and talking gibberish with said two-year old.  Experimenting with so many recipes.

So many memories.

So, I was walking through Wal-Mart trying to find a fitting present and trying not to cry.  I thought about a scrapbook but I already bought her one of those.  Then it hit me.  I should get her something we can interact with while I am gone.  So I bought her a picture album with pages you can organize pictures in any way possible (not just 4×6 slots) in a binder.  I also bought some stickers and matting pages.  The premise is that everywhere on my trip I can send her postcards, currency, map pages, paper momentos etc. Hopefully along with Google Chat and Google Voice we can stay in touch.

Then on Monday the family came back.  We have been just hanging out all week.  Cooking great food with the now seven-year old and trying to entertain the teething 18-month old with Disney Jr. games on the computer has been fun.  I still cannot get the baby to say my name but she calls my computer Kicky (Micky) because we watch Micky on my computer.

For dinner two days ago we had corn on the cob, asparagus, beef and chicken kabobs with my renowned (thanks to Alton Brown) marinade, picked cucumber and onion salad, and milkshakes.  It was amazing.  Tonight we had bow tie pasta with pancetta, peas, corn, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese, herb and cheese stuffed mushrooms, garlic crostini with some of the stuffed mushroom filling on top, and grill pineapple and bananas with white chocolate sauce (which I did not partake in) and pineapple syrup over vanilla ice cream.  I have never made either sauces or grilled fruit but they turned out pretty good.  The kid was a great sous chef.  She husked the corn, mixed ingredients, stuffed the mushrooms, and in general was a great kid.

The First of Many

I realized this week how many good-byes I am going to have to give this weekend.  And I do not know when I will be back to Florida.  So, I set up dinner and dancing and yoga and trail dates with friends throughout Central Florida.  I also set up a massage appointment with the guy at Ananda Kula who helped me get into yoga seriously and taught me how I needed to heal my body from over use injuries and

Yoga

On Friday I found a yoga studio in Downtown Winter Haven called Groundwork Yoga.  I went to the 6 PM flow class with Jody so I went back Wednesday.  If you want the full story (including headstand prep with chairs) please read my post about the yoga in Winter Haven coming up shortly!

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Winter Park, Florida

I have been trying to think of something travel related to write lately but I have not been traveling.  So goes the dilemma.  Then I realized maybe some of you might be tourists in or near Orlando some day and find yourself in Winter Park.  I have been here on and off every few weeks for the last few weeks house sitting.  I am literally on top of a restaurant!  Not sure I want to tell you which one since I will be here for a while.  But, I can tell you some good places to go nearby. I am going to start taking my camera with me around to give a picture tour at a later time.

Winter Park is North of Downtown Orlando down 17/92 or I-4.  There are several pockets of areas within Winter Park.

Winter Park Village

Winter Park Village is an upscale urban shopping and dining area with a movie theater also.  I believe it is also has I-max.  I could be wrong though (obviously I do not go to the movies often). There are shops such as White House Black Market, Coldwater Creek, Ulta.  There are two grocery stores, Publix and Chamberlains, which has more organic and natural products.  I shop for groceries and at Ulta but do not spend much shopping at other places though.

There are a lot of upscale chain dining areas and several moderate dining areas.  Cheesecake Factory, Brio, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Crispers, and several other places I have not tried yet.

Downtown Winter Park

Downtown Winter Park is directly east of Winter Park Village.  You can take Fairbanks or Morse or any of the other streets over and find a cute brick pavers area with lots of green areas mixed between.  The drive through the neighborhood down Park Avenue, even after you go through the shopping area is gorgeous.  There are a lot of large houses that are not all cookie cutter.  Made during different times of architectural influence it looks very nice.

The shops are fairly upscale and have chain stores to independent small businesses.  I like walking along and window shopping, especially with some ice cream.  There is a Kilwins, Tutti Frutti (frozen yogurt), Cafe 118, etc to get ice cream from.  There are also a lot of wine bars I have not actually been able to sample yet.  I might have to do some investigating.

Yoga

Full Circle Yoga

So far the only place I have gone to yoga in Winter Park is Full Circle Yoga.  The biggest difference between this studio and others I have been to seems to be that this studio is always full to the brim.  Get there early to get a spot!  It is actually two studios.  There is a hot studio and the main studio.  For some reason the main studio reminds me of summer camp at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan (yes I am that geeky, I played the trumpet).  Its has exposed wooden beams and screened door and I am not sure why, maybe its the color it is painted. It is open and airy.

I have been to three instructors and they all seem knowledgeable and there is a different flow from all teachers. They have a great variety of classes and class times. I will do a separate review of Full Circle Yoga under the yoga section.

Food

There are hundreds of restaurants in the area, or at least it seems that way. Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order).

Mitchell’s Fish Market

It’s a chain, but I do like it.  Mind you I have only been twice.  I am adding it because they have some of the freshest mixed drinks and an awesome happy hour where you can get their shrimp tacos 2 for $5.  They are very yummy. They also had a jazz duo (or maybe trio) there one night though I have not heard them since.

Chipotle

I know another chain.  And fast foodish.  But I like it because I can get easy vegetarian food, the portions last me for two meals at least, and it is a fairly fresh option.  Best Tex-Mex lunch option to me.

Croissant Gourmet Bakery

This one probably does not need an explanation.  I mean really?  Just in case, awesome, flaky, buttery, crunchy yet chewy, yummy, croissants.  Plain or chocolate.  Yum.  Plus lots of other French desserts and sandwiches.  Awesome baguettes.  I try not to go there often simply because it could become a very unhealthy habit.

Cafe 118 Degrees

Just in case you want to offset your yummy croissants with something super healthy, right across the street is Cafe 118 degrees, which really means everything is cooked under 118 degrees Fahrenheit, or is raw. I have met the owner of the restaurant Joe, and he is really passionate about the restaurant and the entire concept of raw living.  In fact, even though the food is amazing, the most impressive thing about the restaurant is how knowledgeable and passionate all the staff are about the food and concept.  Ask away and you will get answers.

Like maybe, how do you make raw vegetables into lasagna and what is in the raw dairy and soy free ice cream. Really, I love the ice cream, it is my favorite place for ice cream in the area.  Actually, I am not regretting not going and getting some after yoga.

They also serve fresh raw juice and smoothies and wine.  I have not tried anything here I have not liked.  I do have a hard time getting people to go though…

Also, I really like the music on the website.  Just thought I would add that.  Never listened to it before I looked up the link to add here.

For next time…

And this is just the beginning, more food, parks, and shopping coming later.  Any suggestions of places to try?