Dadlando: A playlist for our life.

Do you have a box of memories from your childhood just taking up space in your storage?  Maybe you are lucky enough to have some VHS tapes of childhood memories or family vacations. Even better, maybe you’ve converted them to a DVD or a memory stick. These are great to have, but do you ever actually dig them out to watch them?  And if you do, can you stand to sit through the entire thing?  Last summer on  vacation, my mother-in-law tried to convince me to watch my wife’s entire high school homecoming parade.  No thanks.

As a dad, I have always tried my best to find some way to keep memories alive for my children – but what’s the best way?  I realized the solution was in my hand.

By the time Violet turned one, I had taken countless pictures and videos with my phone of times I thought were special.  I decided to string those together in a simple video app on my phone to share all these memories with family.  After playing around with the video a bit, I realized that by adding music, I was making a music video of a certain chapter of our lives.  I soon understood I wasn’t just making videos of the kids for my family to see, but for my kids themselves.

This gave me a whole new perspective on what I was doing.  Now, I spend more time deciding on a song to use in the video than actually creating the video itself.  I mean, I want the kids to like good music!

Every few months I catalog our adventures on the latest family music video.  Looking at pictures and watching videos of herself is already one of my daughter’s favorite activities.  I know when he gets older, my son will love it too.  I want to create a long playlist for us to enjoy and as a gift I can give them through the years.

Moms who Rock: Kristen Manieri

Kristen Manieri, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

“There’s a lot to be said about how we can bring a level of intention and creation on how we’re being, how we’re showing up and how we’re consciously generating relationships in our life.”

Have you ever googled date night ideas to avoid the monotonous dinner and a movie?  If you did that in Orlando you probably stumbled upon Orlando Date Night Guide, a tremendous resource of ideas and suggestions.  Kristen Manieri, the site’s founder, sat down with me to chat about all things date night, mom life, and local Orlando.  I walked away inspired by the amount of intention and thoughtfulness Kristen puts into every facet of her life.  After you read this, I guarantee you will also be thinking of ways to add purpose to everything you do.

After her move to Orlando from Toronto in 2006, she was waiting on resident status and unable to work.  Kristen had a PR/event planning background and thrived while busy so she began freelance writing (unpaid) to fill her days.  Around the same time, she wrote Great Dates Orlando which became a newsletter and then blog.  Admittedly a little backwards from the norm!  

Along the way Kristen gained her residency status and began a paid freelance writing career.  All the while she kept up with Orlando Date Night Guide and noticed her following was growing.  In 2014 she took a leap to make it her full time job and has never looked back.  In 2016 she launched the Date Night Discovery Club, a monthly subscription service that delivers date ideas to your door.  And in 2017, she announced that Date Night Guide will expand on a national scale.  She’s committed to creating a community of bloggers that lift each other up.  

She and her husband Marc have been together for 15 years.  They have two daughters, Elizabeth (turning 9) and Aly (7).  She runs down the list of non-negotiables in their house: weekly date nights, quarterly getaways, and family time including date nights with their kids.  They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk.

On why she started Great Dates Orlando:

“We were new to the city, I love exploring and new adventures.  We didn’t have kids yet and were looking for fun things to do.  And especially fun things to do on a budget since that was 2007 and things were starting to go down the sewer.  We needed to get creative on how we spent our money.”

On women supporting other women:

“Figuring out a way to do what I love and on a schedule I love is really the holy grail for any mom. I don’t think most moms want to give up working.  I love working. But I don’t want to work 60 hours a week I want to pick them up at school every day.  I’ve found an almost near balance of work, home, kids, and my husband.  I’m very inspired to teach people that wherever they live, here’s how I did it and you can too.”  

On the biggest lesson she’s learned running her business:

“I’m great at starting new things.  When it gets hard I start thinking I shouldn’t have done it, it isn’t meant to be.  Forcing myself to stick with it past that uncomfortable stage, that’s been incredibly eye opening to me.”

On what’s next:

“I have a lot to say about the value of tending to your relationship (friends, spouse, family).  The intentionality that you can bring to upgrading any relationship through quality time, daily doses of affection.  Those haven’t been talked about on Date Night Guide and is the next genesis of where to head.”

On favorite Orlando dates right now:

“I love all the main streets that have popped up Audobon Park, Thorton Park, College Park, and Downtown South.  It used to just be Park Avenue but now there’s all these little pockets.  You really can just park the car and explore.”

On their most recent date night:

“We spent the night downtown at Lake Eola this past weekend.  Went for dinner at the Stubborn Mule and then walking around the lake.  We love the Farmer’s Market on Sunday and like to do yoga.  But not when it’s this hot.”

On being a proud Orlandoan:

“We are just getting Orlando people to fall in love with the city themselves.  Never had to sell Orlando as a destination to people who don’t live here.  But now there’s a sense of I want to live here, I’m choosing to live here. We have a lot and a lot of people who are creating really amazing things.”

The longer we talk the more I admire what she’s doing.  She’s authentic to her mission.  She just wants everyone (including herself) to have the best relationship possible with their spouse.  In ten years of blogging that concept has only become clearer to her.  She’s spreading a gospel of connecting with your loved one and committing to coming back to one another.  And she does it without sounding remotely preachy.

Kristen believes in rituals and little moments to add depth and sweetness. She tells a beautiful story of a ritual she has with her girls, squeezing their hands three times for I love you.  And she glows when she tells me about the other day when her daughter squeezed her hand ten times and said, “I just said I love you so much I can’t even stand it.”  

On her favorite things to do as a family:

“The girls are great at restaurants. We love going out to eat with them.  We also love hiking at Lake Lotus park.  It’s all boardwalks through the park and great to go exploring.”

Kristen’s tips for a successful restaurant visit include bringing a workbook to keep the kids occupied and drawing a hard line against phones or tablets to distract them. As a mom with a toddler and infant I was both stunned and instantly hopeful hearing this that one day I’d be able to look forward to taking my kids out to eat!  

On raising little foodies:

“We’ve slowly eliminated the kids menu from their lives.  They want an elevated meal too.  That’s what we’re eating.  We tend to buy whole entrees and share. Eating out with them is a real joy since they like real food.”

On the most surprising thing about being a mom:

“How much self care is critical.  Honestly when you’re doing the birthing classes that’s what they should be teaching.  Someone should take you aside and tell you how important it is to nap or spend a day by yourself once a month.  If you’re not taking care of yourself you’re not taking care of anybody.  A resentful overwhelmed teetering on the brink of insanity mother isn’t great.  We’re already going to beat ourselves up.  Those moments are less and less when we practice self care.”

On how she makes time for self-care:

“I’m up at 5 am (yes she goes to bed early – by 9:30pm) and have two hours to meditate, journal, and exercise.  Once I have those two hours to myself, I can give myself away the whole rest of the day.  I’ve done my part.  That’s mandatory.”

On simple steps to starting your self-care routine:

“Make a list of 10 things you can do to nourish yourself when you have a break or kids are sleeping.  I could do five sun salutations, write ten things in my gratitude journal, meditate, drink a glass of water, or just take a few deep breaths.  And then keep that list handy to avoid mindlessly checking Facebook and missing your window.”

On when you stray the course from your routine:

“I’m only ever 80% on course on how to nourish myself.  Checking in, being able to do a body scan, see how you’re doing and take a break ensures you come back to your habits.  You have to stay the course long enough to relish the benefits of it so when you go off course you don’t want to be there.  On course shouldn’t feel like work.  On course is so in alignment, your best version of yourself that it’s off course that is uncomfortable.”

On how she handles mom guilt:

“I’ve gotten really good at taking stock in the quality of our time as a family.  We are not wired for happiness, our brains are built for survival.  A happy memory doesn’t serve us.  You have to wire your children for happiness.  When you’re having a happy day saying ‘I’m having such a happy day.  Aren’t you having a happy day?’ and even giving them the words, joy, euphoria, wistful.  So many ways to describe a happy day. When [mom guilt] happens I take stock and know we’ve had these quality moments.  I can quickly access that in my mind.  If it’s not there then we need to add more quality time.”

What can you do to take care of yourself today?  How can you add depth to your relationships?  Tell us in the comments how you’re elevating the quality of your life.


Throughout our talk Kristen mentioned several podcast and book suggestions.  I’ve listed below as resources:
On following your creative passion: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons Podcast
On creativity and the realization that obstacles abound for us all: Linda Siversten’s Beautiful Writers Podcast
On when to quit and when to stick:  The Dip a book by Seth Godin
On raising children wired for happiness: Raising Happiness a book by Christine Carter Ph.D
Know a ‘Mom Who Rocks’ who should be featured?  Let us know in the comments below!

Orlando is everyone’s favorite punchline. And I love it.

I think I’ve mentioned that I love Orlando?  And even though there’s a zillion cool reasons to love this town we’re always sort of a joke in the cultural zeitgeist.  And I don’t mean just because we’re in Florida.  I started noticing how often we’re the punchline in my favorite shows and movies.  I could be offended but really I love a good ol’ shoutout to my city.  So here are my top favorite pop culture Orlando references. 

Pretty Woman  

I watch Pretty Woman every time I see it on TV.  Every. Single. Time.  But as with most movies I catch on on cable, I never actually watch it start to finish.  A couple years back I met up with a few girlfriends at the Enzian for their Cult Classics night when they were playing Pretty Woman.  And would you believe that right in the intro there’s an Orlando shout out?  As the movie opens cops are on scene at the homicide of a dead hooker.  Two tacky tourists look on to take pictures.  Can you guess where they’re from?  Orlando!  (You’ll hear it at 5:50 in) The audience roared with laughter and applause. 

The Book of Mormon

I really hadn’t researched much into The Book of Mormon before we went to Bob Carr to see it.  It was one of those shows I thought we had to go see because there was so much hype.  Also I have very fond memories of watching Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Baseketball when I was a kid (South Park too lest I be outcasted!)

In The Book of Mormon, LDS missionaries prepare to be sent on their missions across the globe.  I am so glad I had no idea what was coming because the full effect of the punchline for Elder Price revealing he hopes he’s placed in Orlando with an epic Orlando banner unfurling on stage was everything.  I couldn’t find video of it, but here’s the song!

The Minions Movie

This is a mommy blog after all so I had to include my favorite yellow blobs, the minions.  I didn’t get their appeal before I saw this movie but after close to one hundred viewings, I’m sold.  In The Minions Movie, Bob, Stewart, and Kevin in search of a supervillian leader head to Villiancon, the largest gathering of criminals anywhere.  And where else would it be but Orlando?  It’s set before Disney so they arrive to a one-road swamp town.  And don’t worry they do find a supervillain to follow, Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock).  The lady-power supervillian with a sidekick husband (John Hamm, yes please!) really set my love into overdrive.

Hotwives of Orlando

A general rule my friends know when conversing with me is that 9 out of 10 times I will relate everything back to the Real Housewives.  Imagine my delight when a parody premiered called The Hotwives of Orlando!  The show happens to hit on every amazing Housewives cliche and reminds you that telling people to ‘calm down’ can lead to a full-scale catfight that lasts a whole season.

Fresh off the Boat

Based off Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh off the Boat is a family comedy on ABC that documents his Taiwanese family’s move from Chinatown in D.C. to Orlando.  It’s set in the mid-90’s and such a great show about family and culture-clash.  As I went down the Wikipedia rabbit-hole reading up on Huang for this blog post I became obsessed.  I’m now sure I need to read his books, follow him on twitter, and set up a google alert with his name so I can keep tabs on his many controversies.

Orange is the New Black

I fully jumped on the OITNB bandwagon the second it premiered.  My book club read the novel.  And back in the pre-kiddo days I’m sure we even binge watched the season in a day.  On the show the guards often play just as integral parts of the stories as the inmates.  One guard, CO Bennett gets very involved with an inmate and we learn that he has a fake leg.  Flashbacks show us that CO Bennett is an army vet, so it’s easy to connect the dots that he lost his leg in Afghanistan in combat.  Not so, good friends.  It’s later revealed that he lost it because of an infection that he got in a hot tub.  In Orlando.

Identity Thief

Melissa McCarthy steals Jason Bateman’s identity and he goes to find her and get it back.  The movie turns into a road trip buddy comedy after he finds her, in Winter Park.   It’s painfully obvious the movie wasn’t filmed in Winter Park.  But did they even google it?  There’s a scene with a salon that is borderline offensive because the Florida cliche tacky salon is incredibly anti-Winter Park.  #howdareyou


I thought Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s Sisters movie was adorable and funny.  The two polar opposite sisters head back to Orlando to help sell their family home.  They decide to have one epic party before it sells. Just like every other Orlando moment on this list, I do not think one second of this was filmed in Central Florida.  They do hit up a Big Lots at one point and that made it easy to pretend they were here.  Once again, my research for this list led me fully down an internet rabbit hole.  This movie is based on real Orlandoan sisters Paula Pell and Patty DeLaCruz.  Pell is a writer for SNL and wrote the screenplay.  So cool right?  

I know there are so many more Orlando moments in pop culture that I’m missing.  What should I add to the next round-up for this list?  


My bestie reports on our Vegas trip!

This weekend my bestie (Hanny) and I traveled to Vegas.  The much needed girls weekend was planned so we could see the Backstreet Boys residency at Planet Hollywood.  In our 15 year friendship we have seen them every time they tour so this was a no-brainer and a great excuse to get away.  Before leaving I wrote about my nerves  and thought a post-trip interview with Hanny would be fun!

Did you read my letter to you blog post?

Duh! It made me tear up and I’m so happy I’m the first person I went on your trip with after babies.

Were you nervous to travel with me as a mom?

Honestly no. I knew it would be hard for you the first day and then you’d ease into it.  But I knew you were really excited and needed the break so it would be great.

How’d I do?


Did I sleep too much or talk about the babies too much?

Definitely didn’t sleep too much I slept more than you (Note from momlando – this is true. I was usually up at least an hour before her which gave me amazing alone time and I even took a bath one morning in our giant tub!)  Didn’t talk about the babies too much at all.  I welcomed it when you did.  I love talking about them with you.

What’s your best memory from the weekend?

So many!   The show was amazing.  I love seeing the Backstreet Boys with you but this was next level.  The after party was great, I loved dancing the night away with you.  I’ll never forget sneaking our way into their VIP section to the point where we were sitting on a couch with Nick Carter! 

Would you travel with me again?  Where should we go next?

Charleston?  Anywhere we go is amazing and we have the best time.

What’s changed about our friendship since I had kids?

I don’t see you as much but I don’t think our actual relationship has changed.  If anything our friendship is even better now because I love your kids. I get to see you in a different light seeing how they love you. Violet has warmed up to me so much recently.  She loves me and that’s an amazing feeling.  Last week when you told me she thought she looked like me, even though she’s obviously your clone, it made my whole day!  

What do you miss of pre-mommy Dana?

We don’t get to spontaneously do things that often.  We have to plan in advance now.

What surprised you most about me as a mom?

This is a hard one.  I don’t think anything has really surprised me.  I always knew you’d be a really good mom.  You were born to be a mom. 

How amazing is my bff?  We had a great trip and she was a huge support to me the whole weekend.  My mind is already buzzing ready to plan our next adventure.  Stay tuned for more on our Vegas trip and a wrap-up of all the fun things we did!


Monthly Mix Recap: June

Check out the first part of the series (click here) to see what I set out to see, do, eat, and make this month!

Must Try:  Our cold brew pitcher is a delight and has kept me caffeinated all month long.  We tried a few different things including cocoa powder, sugar, and agave syrup.  The agave is definitely where it’s at.  Just mix with water before putting into the pitcher and it adds the perfect amount of sweetness.

Must Eat:   On the Saturday evening just before Father’s Day we jumped in the car and headed to New Smyrna Beach.  We stopped at Cafe Heavenly where the lobster roll was as good as I remember.  The place was packed because there was a monthly Wine Walk which looked so fun!  I want to keep an eye on that schedule so I can plan a date night and head back without the kiddos.  After we ate at 

Lobster roll at Cafe Heavenly

With the Kids:  While I love the idea of painting the fence with Violet – it’s 100 billion degrees out!  I need to plan my wild ideas a bit more accordingly.  

Wild Card:  I always wanted to attend Orlando Museum of Art’s First Thursday and finally did!  My BFFs and I had a great time strolling through the galleries and catching up on our lives.  A point of note, the $10 fee gets you in the museum but food and drinks cost extra. Also, don’t take your drinks into the formal galleries or a docent will come yell at you.  

BFFs at First Thursday

How did you mix it up this month?  July is just around the corner with a whole new mix!

Image Sources: Coffee Lobster

A Letter to my BFF before our vacation.

Next week marks my first real trip away from my kids since becoming a mom. I have only left my daughter for two overnights total. And one of those nights I was at the hospital delivering her brother. Hardly a vacation. But it’s here now, my first real mommy vacation. I’m excited! And terrified! And thrilled! And terrified! And can’t wait one more second for it to be here! And terrified! Luckily I’m going to Vegas for an amazing weekend with my bestie who I know will be patient with me the whole way through it. So BFF, here’s a letter to you before we go.

Dear BFF,

I can’t believe it, it’s finally here! We have been planning our trip for almost a year. Funny story about that, most of the time we were planning, I was pregnant with a baby. And he’s here now! And I haven’t left him yet. And I’m so scared. Scared he’ll notice I’m gone. Even more scared that he won’t notice. Scared he won’t remember me when I get home. I’m worried he’ll get sick and I won’t be there. Or maybe waste the one or two good nights of sleep he gives us a month while I’m away (Just kidding kind husband who will be alone with the kids for three days.) I’m worried Violet will cry at night because I’m not there to sing her the goodnight song or read her one more book or put her blankets on or take her potty at 3 am. I’m also so excited to not worry about any of those things.

I am really excited for our plane ride. Can you believe it? Someone interested in being on a plane. A plane ride alone sounds like a vacation in itself! So I apologize in advance if I’m overly giddy about it, make plans to talk to you the whole time, and then immediately pass out for a blissful snooze.

We’ve planned out so many things to do and see. I can’t wait to get started. I hope I don’t miss too much glancing at my phone every two minutes to see if there’s a kiddo update. And I hope you don’t get annoyed when everything I see somehow reminds me of something funny Violet said a few days before. I hope you don’t get annoyed when I question you about if you need to use the bathroom before we go to our next stop. Please slap me if I actually refer to it as potty.

Forgive me if on Friday night I fall asleep way too early. My bedtime is much earlier than it used to be. And also I just can’t wait for some uninterrupted sleep. I’ll do my best not to wake you when I jump out of bed in the middle of the night because I think I hear the baby cry. And I’ll apologize the second time it happens. And the third.

I packed a cute romper for the pool to go over my mommy one-piece. I’m a little bit squishier than I hoped I would be. Can you remind me when we’re surrounded by beautiful stick thin people that I look great?

More than anything I want you to know how excited I am to spend three days on an adventure with you. I promise to be present and live in the moment as much as possible. We’re nearing two decades of friendship and no matter where life has taken us we’ve always found a way to laugh through it all. Next week, life is taking us to Vegas. And it’s going to be a blast.

Love, Your BFF

P.S. Let’s both promise to not post any sort of Facebook status that says, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Because we’re way too cool for that.

My Orlando Love Story

This June marks fifteen years for me in Central Florida. My favorite memories through the years are wrapped up in good food, great friends, and lots of love.  I’ve grown so much and right by my side this city has too. 

It’s 2002 and I’m visiting for freshman orientation at UCF. We have dinner at Bubbalou’s Bodacious BBQ before dad drops me off at the dorm to spend the night. I discover new friends and the freedom of being on my own.  And I discover Tijuana Flats.  Life is never the same.

It’s 2003 and I have found my footing and great friends.  The Student Union smells like Subway sandwich bread.  We eat sweet chicken teriyaki subs on the deck quickly before the squirrels attack.  We spend birthdays at the Olive Garden and Kobe Steakhouse.

It’s 2004 and I’m a server at Pebbles Winter Park.  I toss nutty cheesy salads tableside to the well to dos of Orlando who serve as the board of directors for the nonprofits I’ll work for later.  On Sundays I work doubles and when there’s a lull we sneak over to Aloma Bowl and bowl a few frames.

It’s 2005 and I meet friends for dinner at Dexter’s and Chili’s.  I graduate from UCF and celebrate with friends and family at P.F. Changs.

It’s 2006 and I work at Second Harvest Food Bank by day and as a waitress at Don Pepe’s Habana Grill in Altamonte at night. I want to eat Cuban food every meal for the rest of my life.  

It’s 2007 and I spend my nights at Crummer Business School at Rollins College. I pick up quick dinners at Tropical Smoothie and the Rollins cafeteria.  

It’s 2008 and I’m working at Kids House in Sanford.  I spend lunch breaks at Yabi Sushi and That Deli!  On Halloween, after a failed attempt to go downtown, my BFF and I find Bobby G’s a dive bar in Altamonte. We spend many Friday nights there over the next few years.  Years later someone points out to me that it’s a Steelers bar.  I don’t do sports so I never noticed.

It’s 2009 and I start dating a very cute MBA classmate.  We spend a beach day in Cocoa and chow down at Slow and Low BBQ. We do dinner before a movie at Café Murano in Altamonte.  We spend an hour chatting in line outside Boston’s Fish House.  

It’s 2010 and time for graduation.  I celebrate with family at Hot Olives and then we meet up with friends at Stardust Lounge for dancing and lots of drinks.  We take day trips to the West Coast to eat at the Old Salty Dog  and the Dali Museum.

It’s 2011 and together with my cute boyfriend we start the short-lived food blog, Danie & Reidy Bon Appetity.  We cover Hawkers, Winter Park Fish Co., Hamburger Mary’s, and Junior Colombian Burger before we quit (food blogging, not eating – of course).  

It’s 2012 and we visit the Maitland Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings for crepes before we spend a leisurely afternoon at the Mall at Millenia or take in a movie.  We meet friends for dinner at Prato and the Pharmacy.  Life is effortless and the city is ours to explore.  

It’s 2013 and we run away to Key Largo and elope.  We celebrate the next night at home with our best friends at Luma on Park Avenue.

It’s 2014 and our daughter is born.  We stop at Donuts To Go on the way home for a treat.  We celebrate Violet later in the year with family and friends at Hamilton’s Kitchen and photos on the lawn of the Alfond Inn.

It’s 2015 and I’m offered a job at Orlando Shakes.  Proximity to Pig Floyd’s makes it a no brainer.  The sweetness turns one and we celebrate with a party at home catered by Tijuana Flats.

It’s 2016 and we’ve traded brunches for breakfasts.  We spend afternoons at the park and then go to Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream for a treat.  We have dinner at Zona Fresca where they don’t side eye us for the mountain of rice our two year old gets on the floor.

It’s 2017 and I’m nine months pregnant in January.  A week before our little boy arrives, friends come over to celebrate my birthday and we binge on Banana Dream cake from TooJay’s Deli, assorted goodies from Buttermilk Bakery, and the best cookies of all time from Gideon’s Bakehouse.  Simon arrives and our world is turned upside down in the best chaos.  We pick up Foxtail Coffee before taking our toddler to Disney.  We have quick lunch dates at Hunger Street Tacos.  On Sunday mornings we still go to the Farmer’s Market but spend most of the time pushing Violet on the swings.  We take a break to eat popsicles and walk around the lake.  We are flourishing.  Orlando is flourishing.  We’re just starting to scratch the surface.  

Note:  Any restaurants without links are no longer open (Sad).

Monthly Mix: June

Follow along my monthly mix as I explore Orlando with family and friends.  Each month I’ll bring my list to shake up our routine and try new fun things.  Here’s what I’m up to this month.

Must Try:  We recently thought to buy our own cold brew pitcher and are drinking all the caffeinated things!   We want to figure out how to make the most perfect delicious brew.  Flavor city here we come.  Yeah, I said that.

Must Eat:   Local seafood adventures continue!  And even though my May selection was a bust, I’m determined!  Years ago we found Cafe Heavenly in New Smyrna Beach and have been fans ever since.  It has been longer than I can remember so I think it’s time for another stop.  

With the Kids:  Throughout May we found ourselves on two different occasions painting outside.  First at Violet’s end of school year party and then later at Kids Fringe.  Both times Violet could’ve stayed there for hours to paint.  She was so calm and peaceful….and occupied!  It got me thinking about this small fence we have in our backyard that we’ve wanted to brighten up.  Sounds like a job for Violet Van Gogh.

Wild Card:  Orlando Museum of Art’s First Thursday is one of those things I’ve always wanted to do and so tonight I’m having a little BFF date to check it out.  Each month on the First Thursday, Orlando Museum of Art hosts local artists with a themed event featuring food, drinks, and music.  This month’s theme is “Florida Grown”. I’m so excited! 

How will you mix it up this month?  Let me know if you take on any of these adventures.  And check back for my updates on how things turn out!

Image Sources: Coffee Lobster

Monthly Mix: May Recap

Check out the first part of the series (click here) to see what I set out to see, do, eat, and make this month!  

Must Try:  In effort to knock out some of my untouched Pinterest pins, I put this buckeye cake on my list.  I added it to my Mother’s Day plans so I could spend time baking with my toddler.  I only read the recipe in depth when we were throwing together our grocery list for the week.  Oh goodness what a reminder that I should read recipes first!  It was a low carb and sugar cake and had a lot of very specific ingredients.  I bit off more than I could chew right out the gate.  I decided I could easily substitute for things I had.  This is so comical because one of the things I love about baking is that it’s a science and if you just do exactly what the recipe says things will work out in your favor.  Luckily, my substitutions were alright and my family (and later, my co-workers) enjoyed the cake.  It was definitely at its best after it had fully chilled in the fridge.  Of course it was nowhere near as pretty the original post.  But I’ll take edible over gorgeous any day of the week.

Must Eat:  Scott Joseph’s review of Capsized Kitchen is what set me on my way to visit this seafood joint.   But halfway through May they closed while they build out their new location!  I’m putting this one on the shelf for now but will be there as soon as they reopen.

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With the Kids:  We are one month into swim lessons and things are going, dare I say, swimmingly!  The first lesson was traumatic for little V with 30 minutes of straight crying and screaming.  Second lesson was a success with just three minutes of crying.  Now she talks about her swim instructor friend all week and can’t wait to go back.  We’ve seen huge progress already and I’m sure we will have a talented swimmer before the summer ends.

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Post swim lesson ice cream treat!

Wild Card:  This necklace made it to my list and was a fun project to tackle.  The picture didn’t have any instructions so I had to figure it out on my own.  I purchased a few different embroidery threads and went with a cranberry no. 8 thread and gold beads (shout out to my Gryffindors).  I cut 15 strings about 16 inches long and then threaded 50-100 beads on each string.  This was super easy and just a bit tedious.  I dropped a lot of beads and continue to find them scattered around the house near where I was working.  At least the baby isn’t crawling yet and won’t be eating them? 

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Tah dah!

How did you mix it up this month? Can’t wait to dive into June (two swimming puns in one post is my max, I promise)!

Header Image Sources: Seafood  Buckeye Cake Necklace