The Townie Tourist Gets Real

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Most of the people I know come up with a word to take them through the year. This year, for me, my word is REAL.

I’m getting real about who I am with regard to how I label myself (sober, feminist, professional enthusiast…) and how I allow others to label me. Physically being real. Not waxing this year. (Shock and horror!) Getting manicures and pedicures without any polish. (This one was kind of a must-do because of a dip-gel-polish incident that I’m still recovering from.)

And being more real with you. There’s a lot of my life that you don’t see on social media or read here on the blog. I’ve held you at arm’s length for a couple years while trying to figure out how much of myself to share. There’s so much that you don’t know or see. I think that by being more open I can get more real about how I travel and live life and see art in this tiny world, made tinier with social media and live video.

So here are a few things about me that you might not know or realize from what you’ve seen so far.

  • I’m actually an introvert who loves staying home in bed reading or listening to podcasts.

  • I have a heart condition called SVT or Supraventricular Tachycardia. It basically means I have electrical nodes in my heart that compete for beats. (Also why I should not drink coffee. Y’all, do not EVEN start with how many coffee pics I post on Insta.)

  • I have one younger sister who is a barber, and one older half-brother who is a truck driver.

  • My mom has Alzheimer’s. (Alzheimer’s sucks.)

  • I’m sober, and have been for 388 days (as of today).

  • I learned how to drive in a Model A Ford on an abandoned golf course in Orlando.

  • I have four tattoos. (A bird, a fish, my favorite quote, and hops)

  • I knocked out my front tooth in a bicycle accident when I was 12 and now I have a porcelain replacement. (Also why I’m super into bike safety and helmets and mouth-guards. Teeth are expensive.)

  • I love taxidermy. The anthropomorphic kind where squirrels wear pants, or the rogue kind where a rabbit might be mixed with a cat or some other animal.

I have to say I LOVE sharing with you through live video. You see things when I see them. It’s not scripted or planned out more than a couple emails. And I don’t want it to be. It’s not a reality show, it’s real life. UNSCRIPTED.

So, if you have a question about who I am or how I came to be…me, feel free to ask. I promise to be real.

What Is A Healthy Tourist?

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Hey y’all. I’m going to be exploring food and food culture in a new way over the next few months. This series will be from my perspective and isn’t meant to guide or change your own habits. I’m not a doctor or anything and definitely am not a nutritionist. (Cheese Puffs equal dinner, right?) Let me explain…

When I was little, it was the 70s. We didn’t have a lot of processed food options at home other than Velveeta. My mother or grandmother made everything from scratch. Somehow though, food became a reward…or a punishment. If I did something good, I was rewarded with a snack and if I didn’t like something on my plate, I had to sit there at the table until I finished it.  This is where I give a solid shout-out to the planter in our dining room that had so much casserole buried in it.

I was talking to Celine Duvoisin at Market on South about her own food journey and she said something that really resonated…”I’m not a dog, I don’t perform for treats.” The hard work she’s put into building a healthy relationship to the food she eats while making decadent desserts for Orlando is truly impressive. I’m moving closer to a milestone birthday and have decided to make some changes in what, how, and when I cook and eat.

The first step is in figuring out if I have any food sensitivities. When I was a kid, I was sensitive to milk products and still am. And in 2010 I developed an allergy to garlic. It has been the worst ever. It’s in EVERYTHING. When I have eaten garlic in any form and in any amount, my reaction has been neurological and generally feels like I’m having a stroke. Over the past 2 years however, my allergy has slowly subsided to a sensitivity. Why? How?

I decided to connect with someone who could help me find some answers, Alexa Schmidt. She’s a neurotherapist and nutritionist at Whole Family Healthcare in Winter Park. I went in last week to get my blood tested and ran into an 80 year old man who was getting a bright orange vitamin IV. I asked him if he thought it helped him and he said absolutely. In a thick Belgian accent he told me that our bodies are like cars and have to be kept tuned up. To be honest, he seemed very energetic and positive.

Alexa and I visited the Audubon Park Community Market where we talked to Gabriela Lothrop, who’s been running the market since 2009. We met vendors, talked to farmers and growers and makers all here in Central Florida. What I found is that the food I tasted here didn’t taste at all like what I buy in Publix. Flavors are stronger, brighter, and food lasts longer when you buy it just picked that day.

So, as I explore food, nutrition, and wellness feel free to add your own questions or comments. Everyone is different and we’re all searching for an accessible way to be our best selves. Or, like me, you’ve been too busy avoiding it to really explore. Now’s as good a time as any.

Fill Your Life with Flair from Craft & Common

Craft & Common is a new coffee and retail combo in downtown Orlando filled with ferns, femininity, funky trinkets, and plenty of fabulous photo ops.

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Craft & Common lives up to its name with a full craft coffee and espresso bar, including pastries and other baked goods.  Pictured here is a very satisfying everything croissant that caught my eye.  They also make a cheddar jalapeno croissant and store a selection of vegan breakfast sandwiches in the cooler.

Shelves upon shelves of brightly colored gifts and dainty knick-knacks line the walls of Craft & Common's spacious layout.

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You can't have a storefront these days without a super cute backdrop to take fun photos with while you peruse the goods. Craft & Common does not disappoint with the Biggie Smalls reference, "It was all a dream."

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Parking is in the back of the building and there's plenty of seating and table space for bigger groups for hanging out with friends or holding meetings.

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Craft & Common

47 E Robinson Street, Ste 100
Orlando, FL 32801

www.craftandcommon.com
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Tina Fleming is a partner at Townie Tourist and an Orlando-based travel and lifestyle blogger at Tina In The Sun. She's a cat mom, self-proclaimed foodie, and moonlight singer in an a cappella group called Geekapella.

Instagram | Twitter 

Escape the Florida Heat in Winter Park's Indoor Ski Park

We can all agree that being outside during summer in Florida is pretty much the worst. What if I told you there is a place you can go that would place you right in the middle of the Swiss Alps, skiing down the slopes like a total pro? That place is real and its name is WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard.

The facilities at WinterClub include two different ways you can participate in winter sports in a region like Central Florida where there are absolutely no mountains to be found.

  • The ski simulator

  • The infinite slopes

The ski simulator combines virtual reality and movement to make you feel the real physical forces you would experience when skiing or snowboarding. I decided to try out one of the infinite slopes, which is basically a giant treadmill covered in white, spongy turf and made to look like snow. Up to three skiers or snowboarders can ride the slope at once and the instructors control how steep the slope is and how quickly it moves.

I spoke with the owner, Michelle Farah, about the origin story of WinterClub and she explained that they brought the infinite slope technology from overseas when they saw there was nothing similar in Florida. Farah clarified, "No one in Europe learns on the real slopes. They all start out on one of these."

I have to warn you—snowboarding is no joke. It's a pretty intense workout if you have no experience with it. Luckily, the instructors know this so they split the hour up into alternating segments of 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off the slope. You'll learn the basics slowly and gradually move up into more complicated moves based on how quickly you catch on.

Farah says, "it's much easier to learn this way rather than on a mountain."

This was my first time ever trying to snowboard and my instructor Austin was completely comfortable working with beginners. "I've taught skiing to a two-year-old and snowboarding to a four-year-old. We even have people over 80 come in here and do just fine," he said.

Bonus: WinterClub has a $10 off promotion for introductory hour-long lessons, making them only $39.

If getting out of the heat and into the slopes isn't enough to convince you to check out WinterClub, they also have 24 flavors of gelato made in-house at their cafe. They worked with an Italian chef to engineer the flavors and the multi-talented ski instructors make it themselves. I tried the birthday cake flavor and it was both colorful and tasted amazing.

Their multi-hall venue and catering kitchen allows for hosting birthday parties, conferences and even weddings.

Their multi-hall venue and catering kitchen allows for hosting birthday parties, conferences and even weddings.

WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard
2950 Aloma Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792
407-618-1123

Tina Fleming is a partner at Townie Tourist and an Orlando-based travel and lifestyle blogger at Tina In The Sun. She's a cat mom, self-proclaimed foodie, and moonlight singer in an a cappella group called Geekapella.

Instagram  |  Twitter

Turquoise Everything at Orlando Vintage

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I love turquoise. 

They are such beautiful stones.  The Zuni, Navajo, and native peoples who created works of art in Sleeping Beauty blue or Dry Creek green are some of my favorite things to collect.  After going to the Orlando Museum of Art's Seminole Indian culture exhibit I had to pull out all my turquoise to welcome spring and summer. 

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My best friend Kim and I each had turquoise rings from our grandmothers when we were in high school and I think that kicked it off for me.  Each setting different than the last and each piece signed by the craftsperson who made it.  Back when Church Street Station existed my parents bought me a beautiful olive green turquoise ring.  It has since been passed on to family.  My favorite art teacher gave me a turquoise cuff bracelet that's now on a friend's arm in Japan.  I just sent Kim a killer pair of Navajo turquoise earrings, and my own favorite piece is a modern ring by Rockhaus Metals purchased at Gypset.  

I spotted some really unique pieces recently over at Orlando Vintage and had to ask Lisa if I could share them.  I combined my own collection with hers and we shot a few artsy photos.  I'm in LOVE with the colors.  It looks like I'm making a basket of blue! 

If you can't resist turquoise either, head over to Orlando Vintage to hunt for your own authentic treasures. 

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Photos by Nicole Dudenhoefer

Tiny Tourist: What To Do When It's Hot or Rainy in Orlando

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Motherhood is filled with dichotomies that make life so hard and simultaneously so wonderful.  I count down to the weekends that aren’t booked with plans. When they finally arrive I try not to freak out while we move from room to room making messes at home trying to fill the day.  I’ve realized that with my littles I have to have a plan. We need activities to get us going in the morning so there are fewer meltdowns. Mainly from me. The kids enjoy the little things.  And remind us to do so as well.

Since having kids life has been a walk in the park.  Literally, every weekend we find ourselves walking at the park.  It’s the perfect morning activity. We schedule a playground and walking visit between naps and let the kids burn off their energy.  Add in meals, maybe a special trip for ice cream, and a visit with friends or family and bam your day is complete. So when the summer heats up, things get difficult.  

We have to get creative here in Central Florida how we spend our very long hot days.  Our morning trips to the park still happen though much earlier and a bit shorter. But wait you say, I’m forgetting one very important factor...the rain?  Yes, there’s that too. Dichotomies, they’re everywhere. So we spend long summer days alternating between unrelenting heat and downpouring rain. Creativity reigns in keeping our little ones happy and us parents sane. We have a few go-to’s that always make for a great day.

One of our favorite local indoor activities is the Orlando Science Center.  New expansions in Kids Town mean there’s even more to do and even our very little guy can enjoy it.  For us, there’s no better place to beat the heat. We also take refuge watching children’s theater offerings at Orlando Shakes and the Orlando Rep.  All three of these places are located in beautiful Loch Haven Park. If you can stand it, and if it’s not raining, it’s a great place for a walk and a picnic before you head inside.  Afterward, we always take advantage of our proximity to Audubon Park and head over to Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream or Gideon’s Bakehouse (inside East End Market) for a treat.

On the days the rain has started long before we wake we make the most of our time inside.  I cover the dining room table in kraft paper, bust out paints and stamps and let my daughter unleash her creative genius.  I’m amazed that she can sit there for an hour before boredom sets in. Paints are quickly replaced with playdough, then necklace making, and when she’s done with every craft I can think of I tag-in her dad who suggests they make a gigantic fort in the playroom.

My daughter monitors the rain all throughout the day.  She’s hoping for it to stop only after gigantic puddles have formed in the street.  She knows once it stops she can throw on her boots and jump in muddy puddles. To her, it’s the perfect ending to any summer day.

Our summer days are long, the messes are huge, but the years will be short.  As my kids grow they’ll look less to us for their entertainment and turn to their tech devices (or so I’m told).  For now, I soak up all the dichotomies, the sun and the rain, the homemade pictures painted just for me, and the mud-soaked ice cream stained clothes piling up in the laundry after a well spent day.  

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