Category Archives: Florida

The year of cotton

Can you still count yourselves as newlyweds if you sit down to dinner the week of your second wedding anniversary and agree that neither of you have anything important on the schedule this week?

Oops.

The truth is year two was just about as full as year one, minus a few international soccer trips.

Let’s take a look back:

After learning of a great job opportunity back in the Midwest, we soaked in as many sunsets as we could during our last summer on the Gulf Coast.

 

Another week in the books

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2 of 2.

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We finally got around to checking a few items off our Sarasota bucket list:

Because #mangroves #sarasotabucketlist

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We celebrated a new set of newlyweds back on our old stomping grounds.

We visited NYC. Separately but it still counts.

We said goodbye to great friends in Florida.

We survived Hurricane Hermine and multiple broken down Penske trucks in our attempt to leave the State of Florida. You can read more about that adventure here.

We moved into another new house and we (ok mostly I) obsessed over our first fall season back in the Midwest:

Dear fall, You're my favorite. Sincerely, Sarah

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We loved being so close to friends and family for the holidays again:

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Ringing in the New Year with some of my favorites! We miss you @ltrapp33 @aknaumo4! #zalewskiwinterolympics

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We attended our first Blues game and tried our best not to let on that we were Blackhawks fans.

St. Louis Blues Hockey, Blues,

We formalized our lunch dates and moved them outside the training room.

We finally got back on the slopes for a fun trip to Vail for some spring skiing.

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And we kicked off summer concert season by reminding everyone that even thirty-somethings can dress down up and have a good time every once in a while.

Eric Church, St. Louis

 

To my sleeveless pearl-snap buttoned husband on our second wedding anniversary,

In the past year, we’ve gone from celebrating in separate countries and working weekends to Saturday date nights and Sunday Costco runs. We’ve traded flat sandy beaches for a hilly Midwest river town. But no matter the circumstances or the terrain, sharing this journey of life with you gets better every day.

That being said, I believe the second anniversary is cotton so I bought us some new sheets.

Sincerely,

Your lucky wife.

wedding, st. joseph church, ceremony, catholic, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, st. joseph church, catholic wedding, wedding program

 

 

 

 

Hello Spring. 

So how do you survive your first winter back in the Midwest after living in Florida?christmas in florida, holidays, florida,
Don’t blog about it and it’s like it didn’t even happen.

Not sure whether there is a joke or an excuse in there, but I needed a transition so take it for what it is.

Truth is our first winter back has been pretty mild. And only in terms of temperature.

But if you’re gauging it on social engagements and work schedules, it’s been red hot. Most likely from a combination of living closer to friends and family, low housing inventory and increased demand for local athletic training services.

I’ll save you the apologies for my absence in this particular corner of the internet and instead bring you up to speed with photo montages and random things our dog has eaten (and had surgically removed) since we last talked (spoiler alert: it’s my favorite cashmere scarf).

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Super Bowl Sunday

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Galentine’s Day Brunch

St. Louis Blues Hockey, Blues,

First St. Louis Blues Game

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Visiting Flowers at Whole Foods

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Saeger Gender Reveal Tassel Garland

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A Valentine’s M&M cookie recipe not worth sharing

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Watching my favorite show on T.V.

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Showing off my new belly scar

And since I’ve had this draft for several weeks now, it seems like as good a time as any to do a St. Patrick’s Day recap of recipes I used to make when I was fun.

Seasonal Changes

Pop quiz.

Where’s home to the one of the most successful franchises in baseball and soon two Zalewskis and a Finnegan Murphy?

Hint for Cubs fans: they have 11 World Championships so Chicago is out.

Site of the 1904 World’s Fair.

The first American city to host the Olympics.

Hometown to Jackie Joyner Kersey, Maya Angelou and perhaps most importantly, hip-hop artist and new country breakout, Nelly.

Batter up. The Zalewskis are taking our talents to St. Louis this fall.

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But why on earth would you leave Sarasota, home to the best beaches in the country, year-long sunshine, arts, culture and the most laid-back dress code you’ll ever encounter?

Decent Wednesday evening.

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A. Because we really miss gray winters and snow

B. Because alligators, fire ants and Trump supporters

C. Because we just love everything that goes into packing boxes and moving across the country

D. Because we were offered an earlier-than-expected opportunity to finally put down roots in a community we love, closer to friends and family and just in time to enjoy the best season the midwest puts on each year (insert all the I love fall hashtags here).

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If you answered “D” (with a sprinkle of “B”) you’re correct.

And while we are sad to leave Sarasota and everything never having to wear coats and closed-toes shoes has to offer, we know this is the right move for our family in the long run.

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Besides, since the Rams left town we won’t have to worry about standing in our driveway doing the SuperBowl Shuffle every Sunday.

You may be asking what our only sits under the AC vent, lover of the beach but not the water, greater swiss MOUNTAIN dog may be thinking about heading back to the midwest?

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Well, he loves car rides and cooler temps so we can only imagine he’ll love it as much as we think he will.  
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There’s at least one family member who will be pumped for a snow again after 3 years of 80-degree Decembers.

So that’s that. A little life update for you. My apologies for only using the blog for the occasional recipe and huge life change announcement.

You can rest assured that as soon as I come to grips with the fact that we just moved into a new house 4 months ago and have to do it again in less than 5 weeks, I’ll be back with more of the good stuff.

Until then we’ll be soaking up all of the sunsets and August humidity we can before heading back “home” this fall.

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Matters of the heart

They say time flies when you’re having fun.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.

And they also say you should probably create your wedding video prior to the eve of your first anniversary.

Well I say two out of three ain’t bad.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since our wedding day. On the one hand it feels like just yesterday we were finalizing details and using all the big-ticket grandparent prayers we could for what turned out to be a beautifully sunny and warm spring day. On the other hand it seems like so much has happened over the past 365 days:

  • We visited 8 countries (ok so Matt visited 8. I only got to tag along for 3 of them)
  • italy, bologna, rome, venice, florence, honeymoon, air canada, duomo, colloseum We hosted our first Florida Thanksgiving
  • Happy Florida Thanksgiving from the Murphalewskis! 🦃🌴

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  • We moved into a new home (still a few vacancies for visitors during hurricane season)

Dinner and a view. 🌅

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  • We enjoyed some romantic meals and date nights

Romantic training room lunch today with @mtzalewski.

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Cheers to date night. How in the world did I get so lucky? 😆 #zalewskidate

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  • And we had a lot of visitors

Two out of three are already on their second icee in as many innings. #gobirds

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So since I’m sure my husband is already celebrating our anniversary across the world right now in Goa, India (barring another record heat-induced power outage), I thought I’d share my better late than never look back on the day that I was blessed with the opportunity to walk through life holding this guy’s hand.
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Sarah + Matt

(photos courtesy of the oh-so-talented Wright Photographs)

On snowbirds

What if I told you that all of the defensive driving you learned over the years would finally pay off? All those times your mom reached for the steering wheel, pumped her imaginary brake and claimed we were all going to die when you turned 15. All those years navigating around ‘tourists’ who swerved anytime they heard a Chicago cabbie honk in the loop?

Well I’m here to tell you that it’s all been leading up to this moment.

Season has officially begun in Sarasota.

Yes folks, the snowbirds are back.

How do I know, you ask?

Well besides the increased frequency of observed recreational vehicles towing sedans with Ohio license plates and two-to-four beach cruisers adorning the front grills along 75 south, one can safely assume that in the two weeks following Christmas, the majority of seasonal residents have escaped the cold and ventured south for the winter (here’s your first bird reference of this post).

I, on the other hand, mark the official start of season at the date and time in which I witness my first old lady cross 5 lanes of traffic to make a left turn against a red light and somehow make it through without a scratch, dent or any awareness that the aforementioned event happened.

In this case it was 5:24 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12th.

Speaking of snowbirds, we actually had a woman walk into the office the other day and ask where along the Bayfront she should go to view the snowbirds she kept hearing about.

True story.

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I don’t know why we call them snowbirds. Squirrels seem like a better fit to me. You see like squirrels, (for those of you living in the city, squirrels are the small gray or brown rodents you may remember scurrying across the Quad in college) older generations manage to narrowly escape death by car far more often than most other creatures. Red lights. Roundabouts. Every single lane at once on the road. This is where you’ll find them most frequently.

But they shouldn’t be completely categorized as a nuisance. Instead, here are just a few reasons we should be thankful for snowbirds this season.

  • They teach us to slow down. Literally. It took me 4 minutes to walk from the entrance of the gym to the locker room because I felt too guilty to pass the sweet old lady in front of me Saturday morning.

You rock in spin class, Gloria!

  • They remind us that every day is Saturday when you’re retired.

Check out Suzie and Bob over there just hammering 2-for-1 Martinis at Bonefish on a Tuesday.

  • They get your children safely across the street, they drive cancer patients to treatment and they fill important jobs that make an economic impact on the region.

Perhaps Phyllis can make the best recommendation for a ‘supportive’ bra at Victoria’s Secret, given her years of experience and eagerness to not let gravity get her down. 

  • And they make sure all that defensive driving you practiced finally has it’s shining moment while going 75 miles an hour on the Interstate.

You are of course going 75. George? He’s going 40.

sarasota, florida, palm trees, lakewood ranch,

The year of the alligator

I fielded some requests over the holidays to get back to blogging. And while it’s never my intention to go on a blog hiatus, just like skipping a few workouts, sometimes its hard to get back into the swing of things after some time off.

It’s a good problem to have, being too busy to write witty posts about how busy you are, yet keeping in mind that many of your readers have small children so your version of busy is likely laughable to them. You can see then, how one might get overwhelmed with where to start back up. But like pulling off a bandaid after you burned yourself for the fifth time with your stupid curling wand, sometimes you just have to get back to it.

It’s kind of weird, starting off 2016 without any sort of resolutions or big goals. It’s normally around this time when I tell myself I’m going to read more (never do), get organized (Finn just ate another pair of my pajama shorts), and pre-plan out our meals for the week (does anyone actually do this?).

So instead the normal resolutions, I’m focusing on faith and contentment with the hope that this strategy provides me more time to share fun, mindless updates with you. I think we all know those are more enjoyable to read than the deep philosophical journey of a newlywed couple living in paradise with a super needy giant dog anyway.

But before we get into the fun, mindless stuff, I’d like to share with you the way in which our family rang in the new year, which started out quite opposite of fun and mindless.

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They say you’re supposed to call upon alligators when you’re in a crunch emotionally, or are unclear about how to heal yourself, or if you’re having disturbing dreams. They say these creatures strike clarity into our lives when we call on them.

alligator, florida, front porch, lakewood ranch,

Well I can assure you that neither Matt or I ordered up any clarity, but nonetheless we ended up with about 6 feet of it at our front door New Years Eve.

Growing up in the midwest, when you heard scratching at your front door in the middle of the night, you assumed one of two things as the culprit: opossum or raccoon. Small chance it was a tee-peeing teenager or drunk college student, but most of the time a mammal was to blame.

So imagine our surprise circa 2:30 a.m. when we heard a scratch at the front door followed by a loud baroo from our good at watching not so great at guarding Finn. It’s normally at this point when you open the front door to see what the commotion is about. Fortunately for all of us, Matt was in charge of checking it out and noticed what he thought was an armadillo out the front window. We’ll leave my habit of not latching the front door for another post, but I think we can all agree it’s a good thing I wasn’t the last one to let the dog out that night.

The remaining hour or so was spent graduating from shock, awe and perspiration, to feelings of concern and general empathy for what seemed to be a very dumb alligator who managed to get stuck on an open porch just steps away from the exit. You know you’re an animal lover when you feel sorry for something with little to nothing ahead of it on the food chain.

Sure we’re familiar with alligators having spent the last two years in Florida, but none daring enough to knock on our front door nor one so eager to start the New Year’s party a little early.

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So while Matt observed our new friend, who I named Amelia in an effort to make her less threatening, knowing full well that only a drunk dude would attempt to make a break through the small fence posts instead of the clearly marked exit, I called a wildlife rescue number half-expecting them to laugh us silly midwesterners off the phone.

Thank you for calling Florida Wildlife Rescue. If you have an immediate alligator threat, please press 1.

(giggles uncomfortably and presses 1)

Within 20 minutes, an alligator trapper was in our driveway and Amelia seemed to have made his or her way back to the pond behind our house. Matt later informed me (now holed up in the back bedroom hiding the bait) that the trapper had little more than a flashlight in hand and a Joliet area code.

It’s not uncommon for them to try and come into your house if you have a dog.

He says.

(picking my jaw up off the floor)

No way. 

I said.

alligator, front door, swiss mountain dog, florida

Ladies and gentlemen of the Home Owner’s Association, I’d like to submit the above photograph as evidence of this crazy alligator’s attempt to enter our residence on the eve of New Year’s Eve 2016. 

So you may be asking if it’s safe to visit us in this so-called paradise yet?

The answer is maybe.

While Amelia hasn’t come back on the porch since her initial attempt, we’ve seen her out back with her amputee arm waving arrogantly on a few occasions since.

alligator, florida, lakewood ranch, front porch

Matt also observed a fishing pole and noose wielding man out near the pond late last week but so far the only other news we’ve heard came via email today:

Hi Sarah,

There was another issue with an alligator. I am not sure if it was the same alligator. I am assuming it is because it was near your home. I have not heard whether they were able to trap it or not. I will see if I can find out.

So if you need us in the immediate short-term, we’ll be peering out the front window and sprinting between ponds throughout the neighborhood.

Happy New Year!

 

Cookies and Catch Up

Great news, guys. The Murphalewski Bed and Breakfast just wrapped four straight weeks of out-of-town guests. That means 7 midwesterners are entering the winter season a little bronzer than usual and many local restaurant staffers here in Sarasota are actually starting to think I have friends. It’s a win-win!

Now you may be asking if I’m glad the four-week rush is over. Truth is, I loved having our friends and family stay with us. Each visit came with a reminder of how blessed we are to have friends and family that love us enough to leave crappy weather behind and sit on the beach all day. We realize our location may benefit us this time of year but regardless, we appreciate the time and effort (and flight delays) spent coming to visit.

So what have I been doing with all my free time since the last houseguest left on Sunday? Baking cookies of course.

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It seems like the only thing I have to show for the last 4 weeks, aside from the slightly increased body fat percentage, are pictures of cookies long ago eaten by co-workers.

It’s not like me to leave you hanging over a holiday weekend without some sort of ode to a sweet treat on the blog, but I’ve been sidetracked. You see, I’ve been trying to come to grips with the fact that our entire shopping district has been lit up like Rockafeller Center on Christmas Eve since October 24th. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure out in what world this is acceptable but then I remembered a saying my dad always says this time of year.

You know, this might be the last nice day we have to put the Christmas lights up so we better get to it. 

Wait. I’m sorry. He usually waits until an ice storm is in the vicinity around December 20th to say that. And they still live in Illinois so…

So in spite of the extremely prematurely lit palm trees and unseasonably hot temperatures, I thought I’d share a few photos from the last four weeks to catch you up.

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but how about that sweet lady in the background?

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IMG_5484sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesIMG_5482sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesAnd now you know what my photostream looks like. I’ve got two weeks until Thanksgiving and our next visitors so if you need me I’ll be either running or napping in preparation. Happy Friday!