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While hiding out from Irma, Andy and I had the opportunity to get a jump on fall activities and go apple picking with my mom. While there are literally dozens of orchards within a hour’s drive of her house, we ended up at Mercier Orchard, a wonderful place that we have been visiting for years now. Usually, we are just there for lunch and to load up on baked goods since we’ve never been in town during apple picking season.
Now there wasn’t hay involved, but we did load into a wagon pulled by a tractor to get out into the permium apple picking are of the orchard. The guide hanging onto the back of the wagon told us that they grow 53 different varieties of apples on the property, along with other fruits throughout the year.
I have a sneaking suspicion that our trip was as much for my mom as it was for us. I’d jokingly mentioned apple picking in passing and she latched on to the idea and made. it. happen.
We picked either 6 or 8 of the varieties currently available, and I wish I could tell you their names, but they all sort of looked the same in the bag. The only ones I remember for sure are Red Delicious, Candy Crisp & Macintosh. Andy heard the name Candy Crisp, and he was back and forth checking every single row until he tracked those babies down.
I was also surprised how athletically my mom hiked around. Not that she doesn’t walk every morning, but damn, you should have seen that woman practically sprinting when she spotted some especially vibrant purple-y red apples.
We ended up with almost an entire bushel of apples. I thought my mom/extended family would want some, but they decided we should take them all back to Florida. It filled the entire bottom drawer of the fridge.
I’ve managed to use about a 1/4, but I am thinking I am going to have to up my baking game to get through everything while it’s still at peak freshness. Andy has valiantly offered to eat as many cinnamon apples as I care to make. He’s a giver like that.
Before I get into the recap, I have a quick question for you guys: Is it possible for women to get “man flu”? I’ve been sick the last two days, but in a way that has me feeling really pathetic and sorry for myself. I am trying to keep it at bay, but the urge to suffer dramatically is strong. So very strong.
Anyway, fortunately, my dramatic illness did not strike before our day trip to Orlando, and we had such a good time. I got to have face time with Verhanika, one of my favorite people, and bond a little more with her little guy. Seriously, the kid is going to be a heart breaker. I love few things in life as much as I enjoy getting to be “Aunt Julie”. Andy was completely cool following us around and participating in any shenanigans we decided to indulge in.
That’s right, bask in the awesomeness that is our friendship. Also, I was very pleased that I didn’t end up with all of those lines sunburned into my chest. Thank god for travel sunscreen and cloudy days. With a lot of the state still dealing with the fall out from Irma, I was a little concerned that Disney Springs wouldn’t be its usual magical self, but of course, things were running smoothly, and with the exception of some decorative construction walls here and there, you’d never even know that there were repairs still being done. Verhanika and I decided that this would be an excellent place for a “mermaid grotto”. I bet there are any number of girls who’d be completely happy to rock a tail and leisurely brush their hair for photo crazed tourists. Heck, if they didn’t mind chubby pink haired mermaids, I’d sign up for the job!Seriously swoon worthy gelato: Black Cherry on one side; the best Pistachio EVER on the other. I fell in love with this shop. I mean, come on guys, they’re “dealers in whimsy”, and I am all about the whimsy! I picked up some cute little baubles for stocking stuffers, some I may end up keeping for myself. I am regretting leaving these gorgeous shades behind at Anthropologie. I checked online, but they aren’t available. (sigh) After half a dozen visits, I finally broke down and tried the little Micky Butt cake at Amorettes. It was really good, and I can see why it is a fan favorite. Andy’s little lemon blueberry cake was pretty great too. Despite the temperature being securely in the 90’s, most of the shops were sporting all the traditional fall favorites. I think poor Andy was half deaf from all the excited squealing going on (on my end). So many lovely items, so many reasons I need to make a lot more money than I currently do.
Verhanika and little guy had to say goodbye to us about midday on Friday; it was his nap time, and he’d been such a trooper, definitely earned a nice air conditioned car ride home. Andy and I walked around a bit longer, but the sky turned grey and we had diabetic fur babies that needed their evening insulin shot, so we bid a reluctant farewell to the Disney magic and headed home. I already want to go back.
Hey guys! I’m back! Technically, I have been back since Tuesday afternoon, but Andy and I had to hit the ground running to play catch up so things like unpacking and going through pictures were put off until this weekend. There are some specific things I can’t wait to do posts about, but I figured I’d kick things off with a general trip overview.
Our trip to Chicago was interesting to say the least. The initial trip to JAX was uneventful and our flight, while packed, was fairly smooth until week got to Chicago. There was a horrendous storm over the city (think lightning and hail) and O’hare wasn’t letting anybody in our out. They had our flight circle Gary, Indiana until we ran out of fuel and then diverted us to Indianapolis. This was the point in the trip where we found out that I have panic attacks. While trying to set our plane down, we hit some pretty intense turbulence and the plane dropped dramatically not once, but twice and that ended with me shaking, short of breath, and crying uncontrollably (albeit quietly). Fun stuff. After all of that, United still wasn’t sure if we’d be flying into Chicago or not that evening, so Andy and I let the gate attendant know we weren’t going to be getting a back onto the plane and rented a car to take us the last 3 hours to Chicago. Of course that couldn’t be the end of it, we hit horrible traffic and the drive that should have taken 3ish hours took closer to six. But we made it safely and in time to watch the sunset amidst the skyscrapers. The rest of the family arrived on Friday so the day was spent doing a little sightseeing and catching up with everyone as they arrived. It was a little over cast, but that just made for some wonderfully cool weather, which was much needed after the oppressive humidity of our home state. You can’t see it in this picture, but someone had left an entire hotdog in the foo dog’s mouth. For some reason it was really funny at the time. Also, I saw so many beautiful neighborhoods as we walked around and I now feel like I need to own my very own ivy covered townhouse. Not usually a city girl, but this place really stole my heart. The happy couple tied the knot at this beautiful location above. A little further down their were people sitting on the rocks reading and sketching. Two things I could absolutely see myself doing if I lived down the road from this place. As it was, the only reason I didn’t try it was because I was 90% certain that if I tried I’d end up wet or somehow destroying my dress. My brother-in-law and his fiance had, what I think, is one of the coolest rehearsal dinners I’ve ever been to. They rented out the party room at George’s Ice Cream, kicked things off with amazing Mediterranean food from one of their favorite local spots and then finished with build your own sundaes. The entire shop smelled incredible, like vanilla and their house made waffle cones. If I could have bottled the scent, I would wear it every day. The ice cream itself was some of the best I’ve ever had and I am sitting here regretting that I didn’t eat more when I had that chance. Since the bride and groom postponed their honeymoon until the spring, we were lucky enough to get to spend some extra time with them before heading home. On Sunday night, we all went on an architecture boat tour. It was a perfect blend of fun and informative and had the added bonus of getting to watch the sunset from the river and the whole city light up. There will be a whole post on this later, but one of the most interesting things we did on this trip was go to Lincoln Park. Not only do they have gorgeous green space they have a conservatory and a zoo which are all free to the public. Free. F-R-E-E. Which blew my mind because they were so extensive and well kept. I would definitely play a little more in local taxes if it meant creating resources like this in Tallahassee. Just saying.
Before boarding our entirely uneventful flight home(thank God), Andy and I took one more stroll down Miracle Mile and I visited the Cloud Gate(silver bean) in Millennium Park for the obligatory Instagram photo. All in all, an excellent trip, and I am already bugging Andy about when we can go back.
The view from my bedroom window is looking a little plain today, guys. Sure, the sun rises in Tallahassee just like it does in Crescent Beach – I mean, there is a sun, and it does the whole “going-up-y rise-y” thing -, but it’s just not the same. Do you know how I definitively know it isn’t the same? Because I don’t have any desire to pour my hot mess of a self out of bed at ten till five to go on a sunrise walk. Oh yeah, I totally did that on vaca. I did it twice, but I went back to bed the second time because my husband was all “we have a long drive today, and I don’t feel like swimming”, pffffft. Why didn’t I go by myself you ask? Because I’ve seen Jaws and I am 708% convinced that if I ever decide to go swimming in the ocean by myself, I will die a horrible B movie death, and all that will remain is a sparkle flip flop and a tuft of pink hair.
That’s right, there were rays! Glorious insta-worthy pink rays.
You can’t see it very well, but this board walk goes over the protected dunes, and you know what lives in those? Adorable brown bunnies and gopher tortoises that like eating left over strawberry tops.
Like a beautiful beach post card.
If you take a look in the right lower corner of the photo above, you can see sea turtle tracks. Below is the close up of the flipper marks. Turtle went up into the dunes and then back down. We didn’t get too close since there was the possibility that eggs were laid and we didn’t want to do anything that could compromise the nest.
Real life is stupid; I don’t want to be responsible. I want to be back at the beach. Stupid Tuesday, stupid.
You guys got to hear all about Hogsmeade last week, so now it’s time for Diagon Alley. First of all, I have to give the Universal people serious props when it comes to giving you the most “realistic” experience possible. After a short train ride from Hogsmeade, you find yourself exiting the wizarding world and into modern day London. Granted, the Knight Bus is parked right outside the station, but as we all know, muggles can’t see it anyway so it isn’t like it matters. From there, you walk down the street past a record shop and what I believe is a book store and then you make your way into what looks like, to me at least, a nondescript public restroom alcove. Duck around the corner, and you’ll find yourself in Diagon Alley.
As you enter, you’ll notice the Leaky Cauldron to your left and Weasley Wizard Wheezes on your right. Straight ahead will be Gringotts Bank; just look for the dragon, it’s hard to miss. Depending on how he is feeling that day, the dragon may or may not be sending a plume of flames onto the streets below every 10-15 minutes, just for funsies. Head down the way to your right and find yourself in the right place for a tasty brew or a sweet treat or two, even though it’s still no Honeydukes. Watch out for the fountain though; sometimes it likes to spit at passersby. Talk about resting bitch-face, right? Okay, now I have to warn you about something. Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour is super dangerous. We tried the Earl Grey & Lavender ice cream the first day, and we had to go back every single day we were there. We even got one to eat as we were walking out of the park. I feel like no other ice cream is ever going to be as good. Seriously, I have three pints in the freezer right now, and when I see them, it’s like “why bother?”
Also dangerous, and not pictured, are the damn Pygmy Puffs. Those fluffy balls of pink or purple made the cutest little coo-ing noises, and Andy had to physically make me leave the store because I was getting upset about not being able to take them all home. What if I picked the wrong one? What if one of them was broken and couldn’t find a loving home? I couldn’t pick between the colors, that would be racist (puffist?). It was a thing. It shouldn’t have been, and looking back now I don’t even understand what happened, but standing in the pet store, I seriously almost cried over a stuffed animal. Something I missed on my first trip last year was Eternelle’s Elixirs. This stand offers chilled Pumpkin Juice, Gilly Water, and a quartet of delightful elixirs you can infuse your drinks with (I’d stick to the Gilly Water for the base since the Pumpkin Juice doesn’t mix well). I chose the elixir to induce Euphoria, I mean it is vacation after all, and my mom opted for the Fire Protection Potion, something to do with avoiding sunburns I think. Both were highly concentrated, so we only needed have an elixir each. I was only mildly impressed, but my mom went back the following day to procure two more to take home as souvenirs. We did nip down and around to Knockturn Alley to get out of the sun for a bit, but lighting is a bit dodgy and not at all conducive to photo taking. Our last big stop was Gringotts bank; we briefly considered exchanging some of our muggle money for wizarding coins (seriously, there is a set you can buy), but we ultimately decided that dollars and cents would be an easier way to pay for things once we were back in the park.