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.

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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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Suicide: Let's Talk

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In my most recent podcast, Jordan Eichenblatt revealed his journey through depression and attempted suicide. It opened up an opportunity for me to share with him my own struggle with depression and a suicide attempt when I was sixteen. Thankfully, we're both still here. Many don't make it through feeling helpless or worthless or pain. Some people don't know how to start talking about how they feel.

This week, in the UK, a new campaign was revealed that has been called insensitive and disturbing. As a survivor, I call it revealing and impactful. 84 men a week commit suicide in the UK and 14,000 people die by their own hand in the US each year. The numbers alone should be a wake-up call, but sometimes you need a visual to go along with the data. 

CALM - Campaign Against Living Miserably is pretty spot on. I am such a fan of this campaign it prompted me to write this post. American artist, Mark Jenkins has made 84 hyper-realistic sculptures of men. They're lined up on the top of the ITV building. Each one represents one of the men who take their life each week in Britain. It's a little shocking to see so I'll let you click over if you want and leave the visuals there. 

Seize The Awkward. No, seriously. It's hard talking to someone who's really struggling. When you see your friend doing things out of the ordinary or maybe just not doing things at all, you have to talk to them about it. You really do. And it isn't easy. These questions to ask and things to do really help make it easier. This campaign from the Ad Council really breaks it down for you. The testimonials are super and the website tells a pretty real story of depression and suicide with a bit of humor and irreverence. It also shares hella good content for figuring out what to say to someone you love who may seem like their a bit off.

We can talk about the effects of stress and social media and the importance of self-care ALL DAY LONG. At the heart of the issue, at the center of everything, I need to tell you this. 

YOU ARE LOVED. YOU MATTER.

Make healthy choices. I will too.  

xo, Jenny

 

Tiny Tourist: Quick Trip to DeLand

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Parenting can lead you to some interesting paradoxes.  I’m terrified of taking my kids on long trips but I also cannot under any circumstance stay trapped in the house with my kids all day.  It leads to meltdowns.  Obviously theirs, but also mine.  So into the car we go.  But where?  We’ve always loved to go on road trips and explore Florida but just need the trips to be a little quicker.  And so we call them quick trips - anywhere we can travel in a day and back in time for the kids to sleep in their own beds.

Recently we took a trip to Volusia County to explore DeLand and just a little bit beyond.  You might not realize it but Volusia has awesome adventures waiting for you. Beautiful springs and a slice of Old Florida living. DeLand is an official main street district and just past DeLand you'll find beloved state parks and a few other curious attractions.  For Orlando locals this is the perfect staycation idea, grab your stuff and go!

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Don’t miss:

Barberville Pioneer Settlement  1776 Lightfoot Ln, Barberville, FL 32105

Take a trip back in time to this historic village.  Tucked away in western Volusia County, the settlement boasts restored buildings and historic artifacts of all kinds.  On site you'll find a traditional log cabin, post office, church, school house, railroad depot, country store, and much more!  

Blue Springs  2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763

This beautiful state park is one of the reminders of what makes Florida truly special.  The park has a large natural spring which keeps the water at 73 degrees during swimming season and is a manatee refuge.  You can see hundreds of manatees in the spring during manatee season (mid-November to mid-March).  If you plan to make this part of your trip, please plan accordingly.  This is a favorite destination for many and the park often reaches capacity.  Make this your first stop and get there early.

DeLand Wings  Pill Alley DeLand, FL 32720

A must-stop spot for photos and social media updates.  The wings, by artist Erica Group, are located behind the Dressed Boutique (108 S Woodland Blvd. DeLand, Florida 32720)

To read more about Tiny Tourist's Quick Trip to DeLand and to download your own Quick Trip Guide, click here

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Dana Nichols is an exhausted mommy of two, but she’s enjoying every moment. Dana is the founder of Momlando which inspires and unites moms (And dads!) in Central Florida. Dana knows parenting is fun, extraordinary, hard, and exhausting all at once. Momlando captures ways to make it manageable and memorable.

 

Downtown Orlando on Saturday Night

We recently toured downtown Orlando with Brendan from Bungalower and Lisa from The S*%#$! Beautiful. For those who are unfamiliar, The S*%#$! Beautiful is an Instagram account that offers a view from the loo while exploring the City Beautiful. The account was started after its creator had a collection of drunkenly deemed artsy bathroom photos, with no solid purpose. In an effort to unite those who become an artist under the influence, the project was born. The page is open to content submission and follows the tag #DMWhileYouBM, but please do NOT DM your actual BM.

We toured a variety of locations from new clubs to old dive bars, to try and find something for everyone. And of course, this round-up includes a review of each spot’s restroom.

Mather’s - We had to hate from outside the club because we couldn’t even get in. Mather’s has a dress code and with one member of our group in a T-shirt, hat and sneakers it was a no-go for us. So dress the part if you plan to visit.

Celine - What is now Celine is what use to be Vain, but if it wasn’t for the rooftop lounge I wouldn’t have been able to tell. Neon lights, white couches and hanging greenery, this place has had a solid renovation with a modern feel. Until you get the bathrooms, which looks great all around with lots of mirrors, but is unfinished under the sinks. Celine had the best drinks of the night, served by a super sweet bartender. I ordered a Forget Me Not, which hides the taste of alcohol really well, but somehow is one of their strongest drinks and I could definitely feel it. (On your way in or out be sure not miss the hilarious Buddy Dyer picture they have hanging on the first floor.)  

Shots Bar - This spot opened up a few months ago and is focused on – wait for it – SHOTS. I didn’t actually try anything here, but Brendan opted for a S’mores shot. They actually light the bar on fire. There is probably something new here for everyone. The bathroom was fully finished, nice and clean (which I am super appreciative of), but nothing special with average lighting and decent mirror offerings.

One unique feature of Shots are the wacky hats they have attached to cords and hanging from the walls. With the right group of people and sufficient alcohol I’m sure all hygiene concerns will cease to exist as you take advantage of this for a SnapStory or Boomerang. Then look for Rid lice shampoo at Walgreens or CVS.

Joysticks - As a kid who grew up without video game consoles, I am so surprised at how much I liked this place. Joysticks is basically video game and  science fiction nerds’ dream evening outing with a Star Wars themed lounge, arcade games and a plethora of collectibles for decor. It was a very immersive experience that was consistently themed in every aspect.

The ladies’ room was the best of the night with Ms.Pac-Man themed, super pink glitter sink and the absolute best lighting with ring light mirrors! It had me glowing from every angle. However, as you walk past the men’s room you’ll find a male attendant and a tray of personal care items for them to freshen up. Um…. what’s up with that? Guys I’ve spoken to about this have pretty much told me it’s super unnecessary and they’re kinda weirded about about a dude just standing around in there. Sooo, maybe move this idea over to the ladies’ room instead because I feel like we’d make better use of and appreciate this service.

With all the great things Joysticks has to offer, there is one drawback – worst drink of the night. I tried the Nosferatus, which was recommended after I said I was a fan of whisky, but it tasted medicinal. Jenny tried a non-alcoholic beverage but she wasn’t a fan of the super-sweet offering.

Hanson’s -  Hands down the most chill place we visited all night. Do not, I repeat, do not come here with a wild, loud group of your drunk friends. You'll disturb the ~vibe~. Fun fact, this speakeasy use to be a shoe repair shop and had the first electric sign in Orlando. You can hang at the bar or find a quiet seating area in the corner, but please do not miss out on  the awesome patio they have.

The bathrooms carry on the rest of the spot’s old-timey feel, but with better lighting than I expected. One of the bathrooms (because there’s a few and I believe a secret one? Maybe too many drinks and flights of stairs at this point) has a gold-framed free-standing mirror that oddly hung. If you’re looking for a not-so-basic bathroom selfie, you can contort yourself to try this one.  Would make for a fun S*%#$! Beautiful submission, juuust saying.

Tanqueray - I use to talk past this place four times a week and wonder what it was really like. I should have just kept wondering because the visit crushed everything I dreamed of.  It sounds like a super cool, upscale jazz lounge, but as a member of the generation that supposedly is putting an end to smoking, the fact that this place smells like a straight ashtray was a huge turn-off. I was pretty much out after checking out their bathroom which for some reason reminds me of the kind you’d find in a subway tunnel.

(NOTE: This is where the group splits up and goes separate ways. Jenny, Lisa, Brendan, and Scottie headed to the Hen House on Wall Street and then stopped at The Courtesy. Bathrooms are pictured above in the photo gallery. We had talked earlier about how Jenny felt creeped out being downtown. There are sidewalks full of people in various states of inebriation and she was super uncomfortable. She rarely comes downtown to events after dark for just this reason.)

I met up with other friends and went to Swig , which had a pretty good DJ who did what Saturday night DJs are suppose to do – play hits everyone knows. I didn’t check out the bathroom here, but the bartenders were super friendly and generous with their pours.

As the night was ending we made our way over to Gito’s, but encountered one major interruption that is one of the biggest cons of spending time in our downtown environment.

Walking along and ignoring a guy shouting to get my attention, he decided to grab my arm and forced me to spin around to come face-to-face with him. I’m not sure how he thought that would be effective in getting my number or whatever he was after, but it is not how you shoot your shot in 2k18. Fellas, do better. There is nothing particularly unique about this experience – which is the problem. It happens all the time. Getting physical with women you don’t know is not attractive in any way whatsoever. 

Show some respect with your greeting or introduction and it’ll go a long way. If your approach doesn’t work out, take that respect, apply it to the curve and just move on. There’s a lesson in every loss, and there are plenty of other fish in the sea.

 

 

Audubon Park with DJ Nigel

We're starting a throwback series to the tours we took last year. One of my faves was this one from Audubon Park. Nothing like a warm winter day in Orlando and this Townie Tour really was unique. We started at Stardust Coffee with Brendan and Jessica Frick then headed over to East End Market and hit up Park Avenue CDs and Bluebird Bake Shop with DJ Nigel John. 

Did you know DJ Nigel has a new podcast over on Studio17? If you have ever wondered about his amazing skills check out Black Suede Radio with DJ Nigel John. IMO he's probably the best DJ in Orlando.  

Nigel's advice for becoming a DJ?

"Love music. Listen to music. Play stuff that you think is good."

He's been working on some other things too so be sure to click here and here for his other projects.

Watch the tour and walk through Audubon Park with us. Notice what's changed and what's remained the same. Comment below with where you'd like to see me go in Audubon Park this year.