Tag Archives: travel

The Summer Of Sara…Part One


Last year, after a VERY long school year, I declared my break The Summer of Sara. While this sounds egotistical on its face, it’s a take off on a Seinfeld episode, The Summer of George. However, as the saying goes, you plan, G-d laughs. The summer started out pretty good: I took a staycation with my best friend in July. Upon returning from this trip, Toby told me he had been laid off. The Summer Of Sara turned into the Summer of Shopping at Aldi and Clipping Extra Coupons. Toby and I got to spend time together, but it wasn’t exactly relaxing and rejuvenating. He ended up with the perfect job as Manager of PR, Social Media and Community Events at Truly Nolen. He TRULY couldn’t be happier. (See what I did there? 😉 )

Gabby, our niece, was born in July. I returned to work the following school year in a new position, as technology special teacher. Toby started his new job. Riley was a younger in a new multiage class. Bailey entered middle school as a 6th grader (why won’t they stop growing up?!?!?!) Life plodded along and was good.

The school year ended and summer began. This year, I wasn’t jinxing anything. I had some plans in the works, but was cautiously optimistic. What ensued was the most AMAZING summer ever, but what made it amazing were the connections that were created or strengthened.

Let’s start with June. Summer began with dental surgery. I’ll spare you the gory details but I HATE the dentist and this wasn’t exactly a promising start to my summer. Surprisingly, the surgery and recovery was much easier than I expected. I had a MUCH better dentist than I shared in the link, lol. Things were looking up.


Our first trip was to Orlando, where Toby had to work the Mascot Games. Perfect! Time together, time on my own, all in time for our anniversary.

Before we got to the games, we had to stop at Truly Nolen to pick up the tickets.


On the way there, traffic was a bit backed up. Turns out, the Presidential Motorcade was on its way to meet with the families of the Pulse tragedy. We didn’t get stuck in traffic and got to see the motorcade! #ThanksObama


This is most likely the closest I will ever to be to a sitting President #LameClaimToFame


For dinner that evening, we dined with the people the Mascot Games benefits. They were inspiring! New Hope for Kids, the charity the Mascot Games benefits, is similar to the Make a Wish Foundation.

Friday, I had the day to myself. One perk of being a teacher is free admission into Sea World. I love roller coasters and Mako was open! Score! Off to Sea World I went. There was a line to get back to Mako, but no worries, I had all day. Two hours later, the ride was still broken…


Being that it was starting to rain, I headed out of the park. Remember that dental surgery I mentioned? Well, that came with instructions for no exercise for a week. I found out why when I ran to the car to beat the rain. While my mouth was throbbing, I did mostly beat the rain and was still thrilled that I COULD run most of the way.

Making lemonade from lemons, I headed over to The Pointe Orlando for some shopping.


To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we went to dinner at Artist Point, reliving some of our Disney honeymoon.

From there we headed over to Winter Summerland Mini Golf. This is the BEST mini golf ANYWHERE. If you haven’t gone, GO!

Next stop, Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney. We had a beverage at The Boathouse. We have eaten there before and I HIGHLY recommend the filet sliders. And if you have a little extra cash you don’t know what to do with, you can drive a boat in the lake that’s also a car!!! #BucketList


On Saturday, Toby had to work, so my sister Dori came in with Gabby to take advantage of the hotel pool. This girlie loves the water just like her cousins. From there, we hit the mall and shopped til we dropped!

Saturday night we went to see Central Intelligence at AMC Disney Springs Fork and Screen. I thought the movie was great, but the The Rock could pretty much read the phone book and I’d watch it, lol.


After the movie, we went to Howl at the Moon to see our friend Ken play and met up with our friends Scott and Ellen. Us old folk actually went out for dessert after that too and we were out until after 1:00 AM!!!! That’s quite a feat these days, lol.


Sunday was Father’s Day and we headed back home to Frick and Frack.

And so began the REAL Summer of Sara. Stay tuned, more to come…


Hidden Jewel in Florida



Last week, I was fortunate to participate in the #LBTSHotelTour (Lauderdale By The Sea Hotel Tour), sponsored by Mugsy PR. While I have lived in Florida most of my life, I had no clue these gorgeous hotels existed! While at first glance, many aren’t much to look at from the outside, but they are all fully renovated inside. The rooms are comfortable and modern and each hotel has its own special charm.

We started the evening at the Driftwood Beach Club. We were greeted with snacks and champagne sponsored by Sea Watch. Our tour guide for the evening, Christine Ferris of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Food Tours and Pompano Beach Food Tours explained our evening was going to work. We were walking or riding on the Sun Trolley to 10 different hotels, each one a Silver Starfish Preferred Hotel.

At the Driftwood, you can enjoy a pool with the only diving board in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, beautiful rooms, shuffleboard, and the surf and sun of the beach.


Our next stop was High Noon Beach Resort. Our stop started with the owners telling us about the origins of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. This hotel has been here before there was a bridge at Commercial Blvd. and the owners were the first to drive over the bridge when it was built! The rooms have balconies in front where you can relax and enjoy the amazing view of the beach.

Next up, Tides Inn. When you enter the courtyard, you are greeted by Escalero Roja, The Red Staircase. This interesting piece of artwork is a sight to see. And you can enjoy it while you are on the ellipticals in the courtyard. Given all the good food around, these will come in handy! And working out with a view of the ocean can’t be beat! I wish I had a bit more time to work off the delicious chocolate covered strawberries from Jan’s Homemade Candies.


Have a fur baby you don’t want to leave behind? The Beachside Village Resort is the hotel for you! It’s the only hotel in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea where you can vacation with your pets. Are you a Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins or Celtics fan? The owners, originally from New England, host viewing parties for the games, as well as bus trips to the games when their teams are in town. Hotel guests are treated to a delicious BVR punch poolside, as well as first come, first serve cabanas.


Our next stop we were transported to the Southwest at the Blue Seas Courtyard. This hotel is appointed with eclectic Mexican and Southwestern artwork. The rooms are kitchy and interesting. The pool has a beautiful Mexican tile Art Gallery. I am partial to all the froggy artwork, as my children were both Froggy Friends when they were in school.


Ocean Reverie is known for his winding, mid-century staircase that lets guests make a grand entrance into the pool area. Old school art deco décor meets modern convenience with flat panel tvs and wireless internet in all the one bedroom apartments. Great place for a quick getaway or a longer stay with full kitchens.


Known for their orange pool furniture, the Sea Cliff Motel was a treat. Also a motel with one bedroom apartments, every room has a view of the pool or the ocean. Need to have a working vacation? Wifi is available throughout the property. Working isn’t so bad doing it poolside. And be sure to check out their herb garden!


This hotel is the one I’m hoping to stay at next summer. A bunch of friends from high school and I get together once a year for our own reunion. This year, the plan is a beach vacation. Sunny Shores’ four bedroom apartment will be perfect for this! The apartment sleeps 10 and has a huge private balcony. With another room or two, we will all be able to stay close to each other and save some money by utilizing the full kitchen to prepare meals.


The Sea Spray and Santa Barbara are sister hotels that share a pool. Once again, one bedroom apartments make for a comfortable stay. The Sea Spray is owned by Canadians Serge and Josie. Josie has vacationed here since she was three years old! Santa Barbara guests get to take home a stuffed teddy bear with a tag asking for a Trip Advisor review. What a great souvenir of your vacation!


Our final hotel stop was the Windjammer Resort. They are known for their webcam, so if you need a beach fix, check it out. When you arrive at the hotel, you are greeted by a beautiful mural painted by an employee of the hotel. The rooms are comfortable and stocked with a goodie basket for you to enjoy. There are two pools to relax by, as well as the beautiful beach.


We boarded the Sun Trolley one last time and headed to Coast Boutique. This shop has a little bit of everything, art work, jewelry, soaps and lotions, sculptures, photographs all by local artists. On Wednesdays, they host a wine and cheese event with live music and a featured artist. For our event, Aruba’s Beach Café provided margaritas and sandwiches.


On our tour, we had our very own paparazzi with A Wedding For You photographing us. Christopher’s Garden of Love Florist provided gorgeous arrangements for the participating hotels.

Florida has so many wonderful beaches and hidden jewels. Those of us in South Florida are lucky to have this in our backyard. So if you’re looking for a staycation or a getaway from the cold, you can’t go wrong with Lauderdale-by-the-Sea!

The Day of 22,021 Steps



I have a FitBit and love it. I’m a bit competitive by nature and like having goals to work towards. The FitBit helps with both of those things. This is the journey of the most steps I’ve ever logged in a day…


We got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to head over to Sunset Water Sports to go on a snorkeling trip. I’ve been looking forward to this for months. Even more so when we went to Peanut Island a few weekends ago and went snorkeling. I even bought a waterproof camera for the occasion. However, it was raining when I woke up; raining and windy. We headed out to breakfast at Dunkin Donuts when we got the call the trip was canceled. While I totally understand and wouldn’t want to go out on a boat if it’s not safe, I was disappointed. We headed back to The Reach to regroup.


Our pass from the Key West Attraction Association got us into almost all the museums on the island, so we had a lot of options. We also had a 3:00 boat trip with Fury, so we had to plan accordingly. Our first stop was the Southernmost Point statue to take a picture. Because, you know, you can’t go to Key West and NOT take this picture. I think there’s a law about it or something. We also found a new statue to take a picture with as well. Any of our friend that were at TedX with us a few years ago will really appreciate this one.


Next we went to one of our favorite attractions in Key West, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. The first part of the conservatory tells you all about butterflies. Their life cycles, the different species, how to plant gardens to attract them, etc. Then you walk through two sets of doors into a butterfly paradise. There’s a winding path through beautiful foliage where you are surrounded by butterflies fluttering around. This trip, we saw more of them and they got closer to us than ever before. Now, we feel a connection to our niece Maddie whenever we see butterflies, so this trip was extra special. We spent a good half hour here, taking pictures, Toby did a periscope and then headed out through another set of double doors into a room with mirrors where you check for hitchhiking butterflies. Apparently they like to escape now and then.


From here, we got on the Old Town Trolley Tour. There are a few trolley tours, but this one gives you two days for the price of one and you can hop on and off. We rode the trolley to Duval street where we shopped at the Pride festival. Then it was time for lunch. I’m not a huge fan of tapas, but two people recommended Santiago’s Bodega to us, one of them being Stephanie, so we headed over for lunch. Much to our surprise, Stephanie and her husband Ari had just gotten there a few minutes before we arrived. So we got to have a bonus meet up with our friends. Lunch consisted of avocado and pear salad, spanakopita, chicken skewers, camembert wedge, brussel sprouts, saganaki ( you MUST get this – it’s flambéed cheese, ‘nough said), patatas bravas, puff pastery, and quesadillas. I didn’t have the patatas bravas as I don’t eat spicy food, but everything else was DELICOUS. If you have the opportunity to go here, go! Oh, and the white sangria was delicious as well.


After stuffing ourselves we took the trolley to the marina. Only problem was we got on the trolley going the wrong way and weren’t going to make it in time. Off the trolley we went and hopped into a cab. We got to Fury and were told that the parasailing was canceled and the rest of the water sports we were going to do would be very rough. We had booked a boat ride to a place in the ocean where we would ride jet skis, kayak, take a banana boat ride, parasail and play on water toys (trampoline, slide, etc). We called to confirm the boat was going out, which it was, but they didn’t inform us of the limitations when we called. And choppy seas and swimming and jet skiing just didn’t sound like much fun to us. The people at Fury were very accommodating and put us on a sunset cruise at 6:30. What to do now…


One of our friends recommended a donut shop that was off of Duval street, Glazed Donuts, so we headed over there, stopping at some shops on the way. However, by the time we got to Glazed Donuts, they were sold out. That’s what happens when you try to go to a gourmet donut shop at 4:00 in the afternoon. So we headed over to Kermit’s for key lime pie. Much like the Southernmost Point photo, you have to have a piece of pie at Kermit’s. It’s simply delicious. And we got to watch the show that was Duval Street and the Pride festival while we ate it. Bonus!


We walked off some of the pie (probably two or three bites of it) and went to the Hemingway House. We went here on our last trip, but didn’t get to take the tour. This time, we toured. Hemingway really has a fascinating story and I recommend this tour on your Key West trip. And if you like cats, they are everywhere. They name them after famous people in the Hemingway era. We met Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Duke Ellington, to name a few.


By the time we finished up there, it was time for dinner. Yay, more food! Alonzo’s has a fantastic Happy Hour every day from 4:00 – 6:00. ALL drinks and appetizers are half off. Yes, you read that right. So for dinner, we had smoked fish dip, conch fritters, clams casino, Key West oysters (it had spinach, oysters, cheese and some other good stuff) and a Key Lime martini. It was like a piece of key lime pie in a class. Soooooo good!!!!

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After dinner we did a little shopping on the docks and headed to our cruise on the Fury Commotion. They had margaritas, beer, wine and snacks. Margaritas FTW! Being that the weather was crappy all day and it was still a bit overcast, it wasn’t the greatest sunset. But the crew on the boat was great, the music was fun and they capped off the night with champagne. Bubbles, another no-no for bariatric patients. But I guess if you’re gonna break the rules, might as well go all out…


Since we spent the day schlepping around in a bathing suit that never got wet, we headed back to the hotel to shower and rest for a bit. Then we walked over to Better Than Sex for dessert. The problem with this place is you need to go with about 10 people. That way you can get one of everything on the menu and not have to chose. Because it was next to impossible to choose our dessert. We settled on the donut holes with cheesecake fondue, a peanut butter pie with cookie dough crust and an amazing coffee. The names of the desserts are naughty, but I can’t remember them and they weren’t on the web site. You will have to check this place out yourself and taste some of the amazing dessert creations. The chef has no formal training, which make her talent all the more special. Make a reservation early though or you won’t get to experience this culinary delight.


After this, we headed back to The Reach. Throughout the day, we walked 22,021 steps, which equals 9.32 miles and 2,829 calories burned. I’m still scared to get on the scale when I get home. That’s a lot of walking, which is great, but it was a lot of eating.

Tune in next time for more of our Key West adventures.