Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Inspiration & Persperation

The hypnotizing hum of cicadas ...

the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and a burning charcoal grill ...

the bead of sweat that forms instantly on the nape of your neck ...

and the other one that rolls down small of your back
whenever you step outside between 10 and 4 ...

making it at two or three shower day ...

yes, summer is here.

I'm usually a water conserver and eco-friendly tree hugger all the way ... but the stickiness of summer leaves me with only two options.

A) Run the AC at full blast all day long making my house a comfortable 75 while condensation fogs up my windows in contrast with the steamy humidity outdoors. Thus ... eating up electricity.

B) Taking more than one show a day. Thus ... using up extra water.

I pick B. And I don't feel guilty about it with all the rain we've been having. A total of 8 days straight. My drought tolerant plants have bloated up and exploded ... making them just as slimy as the snails that are now eating them.

Now that I'm off my weather soapbox and done justifying my need for extra showers ...

I had to rearrange my schedule a little to shoot some video in Tampa. Can't really show off the "sunshine state" when the weather is behaving like Seattle. We were back down to the bay this week and one of our stops peaked my eco-interest.

Considering I've got a speech to give mid-June on the process of becoming green certified lodging and an article due to a local publication on the "green scene" ... any eco-friendly subject matter peaked my interest and the new Tampa History Center had some jaw dropping facts.

The most interesting to me was that the atrium's double-pane exterior windows are filled with argon gas, providing extra insulation and wind-resistance to inclement weather off the bay.


They also recycled a lot of reusable material during construction, proving that it is not necessary to bulldoze and consume to create something fresh and new.

Guess I need to use this green spark of inspiration add a little perspiration and get some work done ... off to do some research ... and then to write.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sometimes Guests Say It Best

As business owners we strive to provide our guests with the best Mount Dora experience possible and often enough the reward is this:

Brian and Rachelle,

"My Daughter, Diane and I want to thank you for the wonderful visit we had to your Nantucket Cottage and to the wonderful town of Mt. Dora. We wish we would have had longer, but we did have two great FULL days and a very restful sleep in your cottage. We have recommended it to several. The restaurants you suggested were awesome. Our last late lunch was at the Mt. Dora Sushi and we loved it. As I said in the note that we left you on the counter, we may make this an annual visit. Again, Thanks for all your help" -- Carol Taylor

Monday, May 18, 2009

Favorite Travel Quote of All Time

This to me, is the reason I love to travel. To have ordinary things seem fresh and new.

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” - Bill Bryson

One of my weird quirks is that I love to go grocery shopping in foreign countries.

Something about seeing a slice of life that you can't find in a magazine or travel brochure. The smells, the colors, the produce, what's popular, how things are labeled. It's usually the place that I buy all of my souvenirs to take home.

French lip gloss.

Kinder Eggs (the toy inside always makes me smile like a kid).


It's the little things we take for granted when we're at home. I think travel brings us right smack dab into living in the moment ... which is where we should always be in the first place.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Such A Wimp ...

Soooo ... I've been wondering why my shoulders have been killing me today.

And then Brian showed me photographic evidence of why ... am I really such a wimp?

Could a 3 lb camera really make my shoulders sore?

I guess it's more from being a work-a-holic and carrying it around for over 8 hours. Doing anything physical for that long is sure to be a work out ... but I was having so much FUN and was so absorbed in the process that I didn't notice my arm fatigue until today.

Ah well. Being a tourist in your own backyard can be hard work ... but someone's gotta do it!

When the videos are posted I'll include a link for you to enjoy.



How much do you LOVE breakfast?

I just posted two new recipes on Inn The Kitchen.


ps ... if you've got a secret to chopping onions without tearing up ... please ... let me know!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Movie In The Park & Mother's Day

This post is going to be like my past weekend. Cram in as much as possible in not nearly enough space/time to do it all in.

It started out relaxing enough ... as weekend's should. Movie-in-the-park picnic. This is one of the things I love about our little town. On every 2nd Friday, everyone brings out their camp chairs and blankets and packs a basket and cooler to head to Donnelly Park for a movie. Kind of like a drive in ... without the cars. The way the park slopes down toward the lake makes a nice natural amphitheater where everyone has a good view. Even though it's May, the weather cooperated and gave us a nice cool breeze off the lake. Thankfully too, the bugs have not emerged yet from their Winter sleep.

The flick was Wall-E. Entertaining. Cute. But glad I saw it in the park where I had other entertainments such as wine, pizza and star gazing.

The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind after that. I'm glad I had a moment to steal away and have some breakfast with my family for Mother's Day. We met downtown at the new Cuban restaurant. Cuban breakfast was new to me ... loved it! We all tried a tortilla espanada. It was a "gift from Spain" as the owner described it.

Pretty much a savory pancake ... eggs, potatoes, red peppers, onions, Spanish sausage. My step father is Latin and explained that a "tortilla" in most Latin cultures includes scrambled eggs. It was served with toasted cuban bread with a light mojo garlic and butter sauce.


After that it was back to work.

It's odd that I had a "Monday" today relax and catch up. Very weird to call Monday relaxing.

The kicker was that I "had" to get a manicure and pedicure today. Had to.


Twist my arm.

Make me.

The irony is that it so I can vacuum tomorrow ... YUP! Only, it's for a commercial. Not at our Inn. I WISH I got paid the same to vacuum our Inn. That would give cleaning a whole new meaning.

Ah well. Off to bed to rest up for my vacuuming.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beer with Breakfast

I'm enjoying some leftovers from a foodie shoot yesterday. The Silver Forest Inn Special ... just as good as I remember it. I'll post the recipe soon on Inn The Kitchen.

I've been co-collaborating with a photographer friend of mine to turn my collection of breakfast recipes into tantalizing, mouth watering photos. It's been awhile since we got together, so we had some catching up to do yesterday and there is a TON of food left over.

Thankfully I now remember that I can always bribe a man with food if I need something done ... so we won't get behind again. But next week I'm going to up the ante.


Beer ... with breakfast.

Yes-sir-eee. You read that right.

But ... it will be after 12:00 noon ... I promise!

More on pairing breakfast with beer later ...

Tremain Street Cottages

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

From Brooklyn Beer to Argentine Tango ...

Having dinner with friends.

Slowly sipping and savoring some great wines.

Dancing barefoot in the living room.

Wait ... is it Friday? This is waaaaaay to much fun for a weeknight?!

Last night we walked over to our b&b neighbors, John & Arthur at the Adora Inn. I never pass an invitation for dinner when Arthur is the chef. He can make something as simple as pasta and have the flavors dancing across your tongue. But, then again, he is Italian, so I shouldn't be surprised that his pasta is the best I've ever tasted.

Anyhow, Arthur's lifelong friends Gayle and Tom were in town visiting after spending the past year traveling. Last time we saw them, we were all in Italy celebrating Arthur's 60 birthday. In fact, I don't think they've been back to the states since that birthday party. Gayle explained her reason for coming back was she needed her "Arthur Fix."

These are my favorite kind of evenings. Sipping wine while exchanging travel stories and moments of inspiration.

Tom's most recent moment of inspiration included spirits ... of the liquid kind. Making gin and whiskey. The conversation reminded me of my grandmother's stories about making booze in their basement to survive the Great Depression and the risk they took to do so during prohibition. But Tom's vision is much bigger than my grandmother's basement. And, unbelievably, will be the first distillery in NYC since prohibition. As co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery, the idea has already garnered a lot of press.

So we spent some time contemplating catchy names for his gin and whiskey. Unfortunately, every name we came up with was already taken. Creative AND original is hard to come by. Ah well, we'll keep deliberating.

Every once in awhile the conversation would lean into the heated discussion of politics. But we always seemed to bring it back to our shared passion for traveling.

After the name-that-gin game we graduated to planning more trips around the world. You never know where a conversation might lead after a couple of bottles of wine.

We ended up deciding to meet again in Argentina for 2010 and dancing tango in the living room in anticipation. And that's where my inspirational spark ignited. Brian and I are going to learn Argentine Tango.

T ... A ... N ... G ... O

Brian and I actually met in a Samba class. He was competing in ballroom and I was just looking for good looking guys that could dance. That was my excuse anyway. We used to dance 3 and 4 nights a week, but since moving to Mount Dora and taking on being Innkeepers there has been little room for dancing between the many loads of laundry and the fact that the space in our small cottage doesn't leave much room for a spin without knocking your knuckles into a wall. Now we mostly just impress our friends dancing at weddings and events. Nothing formal.

But that's all about to change. We're going to learn Argentine Tango for our trip to Argentina. I've often thought it would be fun to learn the dance of each country. Last year, I joked with my friend Beth that we were going to learn some Irish clogging for the sole purpose of dancing it on a bar in an Irish pub.

I think this dancing theme will probably make it's way into all of my travels!

Tremain Street Cottages

Spilled Lemonade and Rain

I recently was in a Wal-Mart Commercial for Montreal.

Boy, those French Canadian's certainly add some funk to this super store.

I'm in a brown shirt ... with crappy hair ... because the director didn't think that people that went to Wal-Mart should fix their hair ... or that it should just be messy and natural looking ... so despite the cool French VO and snappy music, I guess Wal-Mart has the same reputation in Canada.

At least they caught me smiling in the end without my "O" face for the rain and spilled lemonade. I got more wet on this set than you would at Sea World in the front row of Shamu's show.

Ah well. Enjoy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sharing Photos

Ugh! What a week?! I lost my camera cord ... which makes sharing photos an impossible task. I finally found it ... in an obvious place, of course ... and have been catching up.

It's funny, my grandmother was recently asking me why I don't send her pictures anymore or share them with her when I visit.


I guess I hadn't stopped to think about that in awhile. The generation gap between paper and digital.

I have tons of photos ...

on my laptop as a screen saver ...

my digital picture frame in my office ...

on my phone ...

on my website ...

on Facebook ...

And way too many more things to mention! Of course, nothing that she has access too. So I brought her over to my house one afternoon for some tea, popped open my laptop and introduced my grandmother to the digital age. She got to check out my cousin's profiles and photos on Facebook, take a look at my website and some commercials I had worked on and overall was just tickled pink.

She was amazed at how much technology can do ... and I guess it opened up my eyes to be more grateful that I'm alive and young to experience first hand this fast moving technological revolution.