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5(ish) Days in Florida

by Alaina on March 27, 2015 · 1 comment

This trip took place on March 11th to March 15th. It’s taken me a bit to finally write it up. Smile I’m still longing for the warm, sunny weather. Summer cannot come soon enough!


David and I got up around 7AM and headed to his office park to meet up with the other employees to take the shuttle to the airport. Oh, and I successfully packed the entire trip in my carry-on suitcase! I love not having to deal with baggage claim.

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The flight was the best I’ve ever taken; it was so smooth and we made it to Florida around 3PM. When we landed it was sunny and in the 80s. It’s been too long and I just soaked it all in. The conference was at the Buena Vista Palace in Orlando, right outside of the Disney parks. Our room had a great view, with EPCOT and the Tower of Terror in the distance.

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Our first dinner of the trip was at Johnnie’s Hideaway, not too far from our hotel. We got their early and had a table right out on the patio. We shared calamari for an appetizer (which was delicious) and I had the rosemary and BBQ shrimp with salad for my dinner. Everything was delicious, and it started our vacation on a great note.

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Since David was in the conference all day, I decided to drive to the west coast to visit my grandfather in Bradenton. The ride took about two hours and I was there before lunch time. We went to Mamma Onesti’s where I had the turkey club with French fries. The sandwich was delicious and it was wonderful getting to catch up with my grandpapa. Smile

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I got back about an hour before David was done and I decided to hang out in the room. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something black hanging over the chair outside. Imagine my surprise when I saw this guy hanging out!

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Apparently it’s a turkey vulture and they’re pretty common in the south. I took a couple of pictures and after 5 minutes, it flew away.

For dinner that night, I was really in the mood for Mexican. The concierge at the hotel recommended Adobe Gila’s in Pointe Orlando, where I had a margarita and the grilled chicken tacos. The food was great but the service was so-so.

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This was the day that I was looking the most forward to on this trip: visiting EPCOT. One of my co-workers, her sister works for the parks and always has a guest pass on hand. With the new park rates up to almost $100 I was extremely grateful that I was able to get in for free!

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We arrived around 10AM, and since the World Showcase didn’t open until 11, we decided to do a couple of rides while we waited. We went on Spaceship Earth and the Universe of Energy (featuring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye The Science Guy). They were fast moving, informative rides and I actually really enjoyed them. The last time I was at EPCOT was about 15 years ago, so it was nice to experience it, and appreciate it, as an adult.

Once the Showcase was open, we were ready to explore! My intention was to try and have a drink at every country (I was within shuttle distance of the hotel) but the heat got to me more quickly than I would have thought, so I only ended up drinking at 3 countries. I also enjoyed some food along the way.


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EnglandMy first drink was the Leaping Leprechaun from the Rose & Crown. It was super sweet and reminded me of the Fat Frogs in Ireland.

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France – At the end of the day, we stopped back here so I could pick up some pastries: apple turnover and chocolate croissant.

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Morocco – Two words: pistachio baklava. Delicious!

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Japan – My second drink of the day: cold Saki. I was warned about how strong it would be but it was surprisingly smooth going down. It definitely hit me after a while though. I also at a chicken dumpling, which had a distinct curry flavor; it was delicious.

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Italy & Germany – We made quick stops in to both countries but didn’t get anything to eat or drink. When I was here last, my dad found the Snack (Imbiss) booth and pointed to the window saying “Look! An Imbiss-sill.” Ha! Get it? Still cracks me up after all these years. Of course I called him while I was there.

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China & Norway – We stopped briefly in both countries. I ate a spring roll from China (it was OK) and then walked through the Norwegian building to read about the history and how it was the inspiration for Frozen.

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Mexico – Last country of the afternoon. Margarita time! I was informed that the best margaritas were inside the temple (outside serves frozen, inside has a more substantial bar). I enjoyed mine on the rocks with no salt.

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All around, I had such a great afternoon at EPCOT. Yeah, there were big crowds, but when it was just the two of us with no specific goals in mind, it was fun to just wander. Thank you again Brandy! Smile


On Friday afternoon, David and I drove to Cocoa Beach for the last two nights of our trip. I ended up taking very few photos because we just wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather and each others company. We stayed at the La Quinta Inn on Hendry Ave (there’s two in Cocoa Beach) and the view was spectacular. I was a little nervous about noise due to the restaurant right outside but it ended up never being a problem.

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On this morning David had one thing he wanted to do on this trip: jet skiing! I was actually a bit nervous to try it out but we ended up having some fun. Of course, it was all fun until I got thrown from the jet ski. I hit my foot on the side, but thankfully it was only a minor bruise. I also lost my sunglasses and my hair tie. David was smart to have me buy cheap sunglasses, though, in case I did end up losing them. And I was thisclose to losing my bathing suit bottoms. Not to self: one piece for jet skiing. Winking smile After that occurred, we were done with the jet ski. We rented from a company called Surf & Ski Water Sport on Merritt Island and we were more than impressed with the service. The price was about $100 for an hour and the instructors were super friendly and helpful. Highly recommended company!

In terms of dining, the only restaurant we really enjoyed was Florida’s Seafood Bar & Grille. The ambiance was kitschy, in a nautical way, but the food and service were great. I had the mahi tacos (AMAZING!) and David had the blackened seafood platter.


Didn’t really do much this morning since our flight left Orlando at 2PM. We had breakfast at the hotel and then left around 10AM.

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The flight home wasn’t as smooth since there was some rainy/snowy weather on the East Coast, but it wasn’t crazy turbulent. When we landed in Boston, it was windy and snowing. Sad smile Thankfully, our shuttle was right there outside baggage claim, so we didn’t have to wait long.

Overall, David and I had a wonderful vacation. We ended up staying well within our budget but still enjoyed a fantastic few days. Can’t wait for the next trip!

Have you gone on any fun vacations this year? What are your favorite travel destinations? I do enjoy going to Florida, but I would love to explore Northern California again, and visit the rest of the Pacific Northwest.

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Positive Thinking

by Alaina on March 10, 2015 · 2 comments

Picture it Sicily 1922

It’s snowing outside

It’s a Sunday at 4PM

And you’re at Market Basket

Normally, a situation like this would have had me in a mild panic attack, just thinking about the hoards of people that I would be encountering. I usually shop on weekdays (my days off) but I had a few things to pick up on my way home from work on this particular Sunday. The crowds were definitely there but I approached the situation with a whole new attitude. I knew I wanted to get home as soon as possible, but it wasn’t necessary for me to rush through. I knew exactly what I needed so I wasn’t rambling down different aisles. And the crowds of people didn’t really bother me.

Since January 1st I have been actively looking at life in a more positive way. Not to say that 2014 was a bad year, but between losing my job, being unemployed for a few months, troubles at home and just an overall sense of “meh” I wanted to face 2015 with a brand new outlook. I felt myself comparing my life with others and feeling sad for what I didn’t have, rather than looking at the things that I did have. My life seemed rather disheveled, and I wanted to change that. I wanted happiness in my life and a sense of routine and accomplishment each day. Regarding routine, I decided to dust off the 10 year journal that my mom gave me (in 2010) and start writing in it every single day, no exceptions. Each morning I would get a cup of coffee and then sit down at my desk to write in how I felt the day would unfold. At the end of the day I would add notes on what actually happened. It may not be much, but it feels good to accomplish that every day.

10 year journal 210 year journal

When it comes to work, as much as I love my job and love the hotel that I’m working at, it’s very easy to go in for each shift just preparing for the worst. The hotel I work at is constantly busy and like any hotel, we have guests from all over the world and all different personalities. At least once a day you are faced with a guest who puts you down or talks down to you. It may not be intentional, but it’s hard not to take it so personal. That’s how I used to feel. But now I go in for my shift with the mindset that it’s only one day I have to worry about, right now. Save for some guests that travel weekly, you’re sure to only encounter these people once in their travels. I just do my best to tell myself that no matter what, you want to make them leave the hotel with a smile. It’s a great feeling to leave work with that sense of accomplishment as well.

When it comes to home life, I will simply state that everything is wonderful and I’ve never been happier. Smile David and I are still plugging away at getting debt free. In the past few months we have paid off my car, his van, and we are well on our way to paying off the house by the end of the year. Tomorrow we leave for our only vacation of the year (Florida!) and then it’s back to the grindstone to rid ourselves of our mortgage. As Dave Ramsey would put it, we are “gazelle intense”!

And speaking of Florida, I am POSITIVE that I can pack 5 days worth of clothes in my carry on suitcase. Winking smile


In addition to trying to look at life with more of a “silver lining” attitude, I also took a step back and realized that I was still looking at outside influences to make my life better. It’s something that I was able to conquer, for the most part, about 7 years ago, but there were still lingering thoughts. I’m certainly not perfect about it and still have my moments but I’m very happy with how this year has been turning out so far. Only 9 1/2 more months left! Smile

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty? Do you have a daily routine?


Around the House Survey

by Alaina on February 19, 2015 · 0 comments

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s lightly snowing here at home and I’m just hanging around until I head to work. I’ve been seeing this survey go around and I thought it might be fun to participate. It’ll also give me a chance to let you know how our house is holding up. We’ve been here for over 2 years now! Through blizzards, hurricanes, and heat waves, the house has kept us safe and comfortable. Smile

Household Chore I Actually Enjoy

I actually really like sweeping the house. Our first floor is all hardwood and tile, but it’s only about 600 square feet so it doesn’t take me all that long. I like getting rid of the dust bunnies.

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Biggest House Disaster

Thankfully nothing major has happened at our place (the perks of having your husband build the house!) but when I was living with my parents, my bedroom and bathroom would always get so cold in the winter time, and the shower pipes would freeze. Turned out that the contractors never insulated the bathroom, even though it was right over the garage! My dad ended up having to fix that problem. We’ve been lucky that no major disasters have happened.

Before Company Comes, I Hide…

…all of the mail that piles up on the dining room table or the kitchen counters.

Most Recent Music Download

I absolutely LOVE this song. Cannot get enough of it. Smile

The Last Thing I Bought Online

Christmas presents for the family. Thank goodness for Amazon Wish Lists! David and I have been more conscious lately of our spending so we’ve been using the envelope system rather than using our debit cards.

I Hate to Shop For…

…jeans. I admittedly get frustrated with the inconsistent sizing. Most of my jeans are from Old Navy with a few lucky finds from Marshalls or TJ Maxx.

Favorite Family Ritual

David and I haven’t really established any rituals since getting married. Perhaps when we expand our family we may start something. I’ve always imagined actually sitting down to dinner with our kids instead of sitting in front of the TV.

I Sleep In…

…my bed. Winking smile

I Have a Style Crush On…

…no one in particular really. I like a combination of styles. Little bit of Jennifer Garner’s casual, Jennifer Lawrence’s edginess and Taylor Swifts preppy.


I’m Currently Reading…

As You Wish by Cary Elwes. It was a Christmas present from my parents, and I’m enjoying reading about the making of the Princess Bride movie. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t seen the movie in its entirety but that’ll change soon enough.

How Did I Ever Live Without…

…our house! I love how comfortable it’s kept us, and although we’ve ended up having pay a bit for electricity, it pales in comparison to what we might have been paying had we built a traditional house with gas and/or oil. And I easily spend an hour a day just making sure that everything is clean, tidy and free of clutter. Yes, the bottom right picture is our “attic” but I’ve been making a lot of progress to get rid of some stuff and just pare down our items. I’ve found that David and I can live on a lot less than we imagined. Living small and dreaming big is our motto of late. Smile

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What are you things you like most about your house/apartment/dwelling?