Monday, March 30, 2009

Going Green ... Saving Green ... and Getting High

It's hard to think about saving the environment these days when everyone's focused on a different kind of green ... the money saved in their wallet. It seems like in this economy, fashionably speaking, frugal is the new black.

But there are inexpensive things you can do and still "go green" that save you green moolah as well as the environment.

I write for a local magazine called Pulse where I discuss the local "Green Scene." In the next issue I highlight five different categories where you can conserve money and the environment.

The 5 categories include:

Cleaning Green

Saving Water

Saving Power

Shopping Local

Enjoying the Environment

I've covered green cleaning tips in this blog before, including using simple household items such as vinegar and baking soda. (Links posted below)

But my favorite tip in this article is the very last one, getting out and enjoying the environment. Not only is it a good reminder of why we should conserve energy, water, etc. It's a great reason to get outdoors in this great springtime weather and relax.

I've recently taken up running to train for a half marathon and I love it. I know what you're thinking ... "Rachelle, how is THAT relaxing???" Really though, it's given me an excuse to get out of the house and enjoy all of our trails, meandering neighborhood sidewalks and gorgeous lake front. I can't tell you how many times this month I've had the opportunity to watch the sunrise or sunset on Lake Dora, taken in a deep breath of blooming honeysuckles or jasmine, or been inspired by a bunch of children running and playing in the yard watching them be one hundred percent in the joy of the moment. One couple of cute entrepreneurs even had an old fashioned lemonade stand. If only I had my camera on me while jogging I would have blogged about that lemonade all on it's own! What a refreshing stop, in more ways than one.

The point is, a runners high comes from much more than the exercise ... it's also what you see on the journey. If running's not your thing, get out and go for a walk, take a nap under a tree, go to a park ... just get outside.

Here are a couple of recommendations for what to do in and around Mount Dora ...

Trout Lake Nature Center: A 230 acre natural wildlife preserve, nature trail, boardwalk and museum.

Mount Dora
Lake County Waterways: Go on a sunset cruise or explore the Dora Canal.

Lakeside Kayaks at Tavares Station: Beginner and intermediate paddlers welcome to explore the Dora Canal by kayak.

For my complete list of tips in each of the 5 categories listed above, pick up your copy of Pulse Magazine locally in Mount Dora, Tavares or Eustis. Or, send a subscription request to:

1111 N Grandview Street
Mount Dora, FL 32757


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tamara's Tropical Fruit Salad

Florida really only has two seasons ... Cold and Hot. And with the weather finally starting to warm up, I've asked my bed & breakfast chef friends to share with me some of their best springtime recipes for cooling down.

An no one would understand the need for cooling down more than Tamara at the Captain's Inn. Spending over 20 years sailing around the world, she has some of the best recipes for making you feel like setting sail, wind blowing in your hair, sun warming your face. Here is a fantastic Tropical Fruit Salad recipe from Tamara's cookbook, Mega Yacht Cooking. I can't wait to make this at home.


2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cantaloupe, cubed
1 small papaya, cubed
2 mangos, cubed
1 kiwifruit, peeled & sliced

Grated zest of 1 lemon & 1 lime

Whisk together first 6 ingredients; cover and

In large bowl combine fruits and zest, cover
and refrigerate 2 hours. Pour dressing over
fruit, and toss gently; divide among chilled
salad plates, and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Good Deeds

Need a feel-good story to make you feel all warm and fuzzy in these crazy economic times?

I've got one for you.

How about a story about a couple that spent 4 days of their vacation raking leaves to help an older woman with a chore she couldn't do on her own? I love a good story about people doing good deeds ... I don't think we hear them often enough.

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us;
what we have done for others and
the world remains and is immortal." ~Albert Pike

The Havens while here last year, noticed a woman in her 80’s that was raking her front yard. They saw Annie, struggling while raking her yard, and said, “dear, you should have someone helping you with that”. Annie’s reply was, “I did pay someone to do this; however, after getting the money, they never came back to do the job. Unfortunately, now I cannot afford to pay someone.” So the Havens offered to do it for her. She was pretty much done at this point and said, “maybe another time”. The Havens said, “when we come back next year we will come and rake your yard for you”. Of course, Annie smiled and said thank you, but, not expecting them to ever fulfill their promise.

Well the Havens, on their return trip this year, went to Annie’s home, and told her they were there to rake her yard. Annie, was very embarrassed, as she explained that she did not have the money to pay them. The Havens in a very caring tone, told Annie that they never wanted to be paid and this was from the kindness of their hearts. Annie very surprised by their generous offer and accepted their help with tears in her eyes. No one had ever been so kind to Annie.

They became fast friends, as Annie brought them lemonade, while they raked, and raked, and raked. Annie’s backyard, which the Havens never saw, was three times the size of the front. They still raked both the front and backyard and bagged all of the leaves for Annie. When all was said and done, the Havens had raked more than 75 bags of leaves, and spent four days on their chore. With blisters on their hands and a smile in their hearts, they bid Annie a fair goodbye, and said, “we will see you next year”. Annie gave them both a hug, and said, “the lemonade will be waiting.”

Rachelle, I loved this story and have been meaning to send it to you. --Jim, Mount Dora Historic Inn

Pay it forward!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March's Morning Yawn

The month of March is always a breezy reminder of what I love about living in Florida. The orange blossoms sweeten the air ... azaleas and jasmine in bloom. I know it's cheesey to talk about the weather ... but WOW is it amazing right now ... warm enough to enjoy the outdoors yet cool enough to not sweat. We're surrounded by orange groves here in Mount Dora, and every time you walk outside right now you can get a slight hint of their sweet perfume scenting the air.

"Springtime is the land awakening.
The March winds are the morning yawn."
--Lewis Grizzard

"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'" ~Robin Williams

I love the quote by Robin Williams. It reminds me of one of our neighbors that is very involved in the community and plans some of the most fun events. He ends his emails with, "peace, love, prosperity, and party party party!" reminding us that you never really need a reason, only a place and time!

Is it still a little too chilly where you are at the moment? Join our party, come visit one of our Inns in Mount Dora and experience springtime!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vanilla Strawberry Bread

We're still smack in the middle of strawberry season here in Florida and berries are fresh, ripe, and in abundance. On the drive I make to Tampa every week I can still see the strawberry picking harvest going on strong.

What do you do with a pallet of fresh strawberries? Share 'em, freeze 'em, jam 'em, chop 'em, eat 'em, blend 'em, or bake 'em. Today, I baked 'em.

I experimented a little by combining about 3 different bread recipes I collected and made a vanilla strawberry loaf. It turned out just perfect. Not too sweet ... more bread-like than cake-like and very melt-in-your-mouth with a dab of real butter spread on a warm slice accompanied by a cup of tea. So, if you want to make this yummy treat for breakfast or an afternoon snack ... here's the recipe!

First ... the ingredients.

2 Cups of Strawberries
2 Packages of Vanilla Pudding
3/4 Cup of Sugar
1 Cup Canola Oil
6 Eggs
3/4 Cup of Milk (I added this later, so it's not pictured above)
4 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

Wash your berries and then chop them into small bits ... try not to eat them all as you go!

Combine your oil, sugar, and vanilla pudding and then blend in eggs until "pudding-like." Should be a little creamy and just a bit lumpy. The pudding adds moisture and gives it the vanilla flavor.

Combine your other dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and baking powder)
in a separate bowl and then slowly blend into wet pudding mixture. Mix thoroughly.

Since I was experimenting with combining a couple of recipes to create this one, I needed some extra "umph" at this point. Despite the pudding, the batter was a little dry, so I added 3/4 cup of milk and then all the berries.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. I used a baking stone, so it took about 10 minutes more.

Let it cool for 15 minutes and then serve! Goes great with some cream cheese or butter. Mmm.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Booze Away Your Blues

Erin Go Braugh! Happy St. Patricks Day!
When I think of St. Patty's Day ... I think of lucky four leaf clovers, green drinks and a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Aren't we all looking for a little luck these days? A pot of gold at the end of a rainbow would be just dandy! If it just weren't for those pesky pinching leprechauns!

Actually, life is pretty good and I consider myself lucky. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to spend the afternoon having lunch and tea with my grandmother. Not only is she funny, but she has a lot of life lessons that are valuable.

I asked her, "Mamere, what did you and your family do during the depression? Obviously you survived and later thrived, what advise would you give?" To which she replied, "booze." Ha! Boooooooze away your blues, I thought! Appropriate for Saint Patrick's Day. Actually, the extended story included her father making "booze" in their basement and selling that to make the extra cash they needed to get by. All well and good during prohibition. Right? I come from a family of rebels. Wow. I thought this little hidden skeleton in my family was hysterical and left me light hearted for the rest of the afternoon.

She also talked about appreciating the simple things ... good food, friends, family and fun. Seizing an adventure out of life whenever and where ever you're able to find one. Even though times in the late 20's and 30's were tough ... almost every picture I have of my grandmother she is doing something fun and is exuding a beaming smile. Rollerskating, dancing, hanging out with friends. And at the end of a struggling era I have a picture of her with her first car, a 1939 Desoto.

So tonight, as your spending times with friends, whether you're having a pint at your favorite local Irish joint or spending it at home, raise a glass and toast to the good times in life. Believe it or not, these are those times. And just in case you need it, here are a few good beer recipes to get you through! I'm not much of a beer girl though, so I think the only green beverage I'll be enjoying tonight is some green tea.

Beer Recipes

Irish Drinks

Green Tea Recipes


Tremain Street Cottages

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hospitality Exceeds Expectations

The Mount Dora Historic Inn received some great comments from guests recently. I thought, "why just keep them in a book, let's share!"

Here are the notes they received ...

Jim & Ana,

Our first stay in a B & B was a great experience. Your hospitality was far beyond what we would have expected. Jim, your breakfast was out of this world and Ana, we loved all your special touches to make our stay so wonderful.

God Bless,

George & Robin
Cooper City, FL


Jim & Ana,

Thank you so much for your hospitality, smiling faces and welcoming personalities. Guard your heart with all diligence for from it flows the well-springs of life. Jim ... food was fabulous.

All the best,

Birthday Ladies

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday the 13th

Duh Duh Duuuuuuuun. It' s Friday the 13th tomorrow! Did you know that if you have a fear of Friday the 13th, it is actually called Paraskevadecatriaphobia. Can you say that 3 times in a row? Hmm ... I can't even say it once!

So, will this be a lucky day or a day full of superstition for you? If you want to make it lucky and fun, come stay overnight at a b&b in Mount Dora and explore the ghosts and spirits (of a liquid kind?) in our town.

The Mount Dora Historical Society has been continuing their popular ghost tour since Halloween. This lantern led walking tour explores the streets, alleys and neighborhoods in this historic town and the stories will surely make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up! Afraid of the dark? While it's waning off the full moon (and luckily so, can you imagine a full moon AND a Friday the 13th?? Spooky!) but I digress ... as I was saying ... the nearly full moon should fill the streets with light and lessen the shadows a bit. If you're still shakin in your boots, stop by one of many of Mount Dora's lounges and pubs for your favorite spirits or liquid courage. Just be sure to book a room at a local B&B to walk home to after the festivities! Their warm hospitality will offer you a pleasant night's sleep after your chilling tour.

Take a look at Mount Dora Ghost Walk and also this Blog to find out more information.


Have you been on the Mount Dora Ghost Tour? Seen a ghost? Tell us about it!

Barefoot Waterskiing

I love an inspiring story. And yesterday I happened to hear of one in the family. My grandmother invited me over to an impromptu coffee at her house to meet up with my cousins who were serendipitously stopping by on their way up to Lake City.

These type of impromptu meetings are always my favorite. Especially when it involves good news or a fun adventure.

So first, the good news ... My cousin Keith for the second time just became the World Overall Champion in barefoot water skiing. Congratulations Keith!

I must have missed that water adrenaline gene in the family ... because last time I went skiing I couldn't even get my butt out of the water! Ha! Mount Dora once had a water skiing elephant ... but that's a whole other story!

Anyway, the adventure will come next. I'll have to plan a trip down to Winter Haven to participate in Keith's Ski School and learn to ski. For more information about Keith or the ski school visit ...


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pat on the back ...

I love getting positive guest comments. Sometimes, when you're working for yourself, there is no on there telling you, "good job, well done." Well, we got one of those upbeat messages this morning. Check it out below ...
"I wanted to let you know that we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Mt Dora and at your cottage. The cottage suited us well, the bed was extremely comfortable, and the location was ideal. We were amazed at how pet friendly the town is. We were able to take our dog with us for dinner each night. Thank you for your hospitality!" -- Peggy

Tremain Street Cottages

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cookin up somethin good ...

Lights ... Camera ... Cooking!

I've been working on a special project with a dear college friend of mine for awhile now and we're getting close to completing it! A fellow Travel Channel Academy VJ even came up for a week and gave us a hand. Today we added a few more touches. All I can tell you ... is that we're cookin' up somethin' good.

We still have some work cut out for us ... and while the journey of creating something is long ... it is also fun and rewarding.

A big HUGE thank you to Jonah and Vanessa for their talents and support. Also a big thank you to the Captain's Inn, Adora Inn and Mount Dora Historic Inn letting us take over their kitchens for a day.

Jonah at the helm.

Vanessa adding some energy.

And finally me ... learning to make a sweet breakfast.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Depression Era Breakfast

The change of seasons always inspires me. Today the temperatures got up to the lower 80s and when I went for my usual jog I really soaked in the warm feeling of the sun on my skin.

The warmer air reminds us that no matter how cold the winter (and it's been COLD this year!) ... it will always be warm again ... no matter how dark or long the night ... the sun will rise. Great reminders in times like these.

A friend of mine forwarded me a video from YouTube. It's a 91 year old woman sharing her story of breakfast during the Great Depression. While I hope our economy doesn't take that turn, this video is a sweet reminder that we sometimes take for granted the simple things. Such as sugar cookies and fresh ground coffee.

As much as I love a gourmet breakfast, sometimes simplicity can be just as enjoyable. Take a look at Clara's simple breakfast below ...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Crepes and Brie for Lunch

The weather has finally warmed up to our normal March temperatures for Florida ... a nice and breezy 70 degrees with the sun shining and the sky crystal clear. My VJ friend, Vanessa, came up from Key West with her husband and mom to have some lunch and roam around Mount Dora for a day. They were up for the weekend to run the Princess Half Marathon at Disney and were looking for some rest and relaxation with me before the big race.

We decided on some lunch outdoors by the lake at Cecile's French Corner. Some brie with apples and cranberries on baguettes, espressos, quiche, and of course a crepe loaded with nutella and cream. The European's have the slow food and relaxation thing down pat. I'm just glad we don't have to travel that far to get a similar experience. Just a couple of blocks away from my own front door.

We enjoyed our little afternoon stroll around town and Vanessa, being the disciplined photographer that she is, captured the moment ...

Vanessa always has a way of putting a big smile on our face!

What on earth are we thinking in this moment in time? I know ... I know ... I'm loaded up on caffeine and acting all goofy while Vanessa's Mom can't believe she's capturing it?!

Hanging out someplace special ... with someone special! Good luck at the race pink ladies!


Friday, March 6, 2009

Guthrie Guitar

Staying at a b&b on vacation ... $150 ... tickets to a concert ... $50 ... winning a signed guitar at the concert ... priceless!

Guests at The Captain's Inn recently had a nice surprise ending to their Florida vacation. They attended the Arlo Guthrie "Lost World Tour" concert with Innkeepers Barry and Tamara and ended up winning the biggest prize ... an autographed guitar from Alro himself.

One of our local shop keepers and key organizer for the concert, Al Wittnebert, is a collector of autographs. With 30 years of experience in the business of collecting autographs and being only one of 5 licensed autograph appraisers in the States, Captain's Guest Deborah didn't have to worry about the authentication of her prize!

Here's the note I received from Tamara at the Captain's Inn ...

"During intermission the Mount Dora Library Association called off raffled ticket numbers for donated gifts. One of our guests won the main and largest gift, an autographed guitar of Arlo Guthrie. We congratulate Deborah Powell who came to Mount Dora with her sister for the concert, their last stop on their 5 week vacation from the cold northeast."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making Polynesian Pancakes

This has been an unusually chilly winter. I'm looking forward to our Spring days where it's warm enough that I can show my shoulders ... but not so hot that I'm dripping in perspiration.

In the meantime, here's a little luau for you mouth. It's Jim Tuttle's latest creation at the Mount Dora Historic Inn. For the complete recipe, click through to Polynesian Pancakes.

I gave the recipe a try in my own kitchen this past weekend and pretended like summer was already here.

The luau participants ... a little coconut ... a little crushed pineapple ...
a little citrus ... a whole lot of the feeling of sunshine.

If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain ...

Mash up your 'nanners good!

Jim uses some toasted orange zest from Spice Islands.

Aaah ... spice islands. Hmm.

Sorry, had to take a mental moment at the beach. I'm back now. In absence of the toasted orange zest, I just grated some fresh from my fruit bowl.

Mix together all your dry ingredients, then mix together your wet ingredients, then mix them all together. Kind of like a conga line ... once you get started it just keeps getting bigger as more characters are added.

Once you have somewhat of a mixed, but lumpy batter and your kitchen smells like a sweet suntan lotion, you're ready to make some pancakes. Just ladle, pour and bake as you normally would.

When it starts getting a little bubbly, it's time to flip.
Text Color

Voila! A little drizzled honey, a couple of orange slices ... and you've got your own breakfast beach party in the comfort of your kitchen.