Tag Archives: vacation

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!

 

Are you ready for some ruins?!

It’s Day two in Rome and you’ve got a date with a Gladiator in the Colosseum.

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There are several career paths you’re now husband has mentioned over the years that fit his personality type and high tolerance for pain. Firefighter. Police Officer. Top secret member of the U.S. Army Special Forces or Navy Seal. But a Gladiator? Weren’t they all unfortunate criminals or prisoners of war with no citizenship? Sure, some of the attributes line up: brute strength, athleticism, courage and enough craziness to fight to the death, but who would choose that path? Well, if you measure it in giddiness and chatter during our tour of the Colosseum, he would.

And apparently he wouldn’t be the only one. Even free men opted to enter the ring in search of glory and prize money. Confident in your abilities, my dear, but happy it’s no longer an option for you.

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Having a hard time picturing what all this rock is about? Let’s revisit a classic scene to put us in the Gladiator spirit.

That’s better.

It’s really hard to believe this building still stands after thousands of years, earthquakes, floods and fires, but it does. There are parts of the massive arena that still showcase the original marble flooring as well as a reconstructed area that simulates what it looked like in its prime.

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You try not to compare it to familiar places like Soldier Field, but it’s hard not to when so many of today’s mega-stadiums resemble the same framework the Colosseum originated so many years ago. roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Now uncovered, the area below the main floor housed two levels of compartments and included trap doors that could spring the animal up onto the main stage to excite the audience and challenge the gladiator. Kind of reminded me of the bushes behind my old Montessori school where I used to run an imaginary zoo. Much friendlier animals in my care, of course.
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Thanks to high-end designers like Tod’s and Fendi, historic sites like the Colosseum and Trevi fountain are getting the funding for much-needed restorations that they otherwise couldn’t afford. Check out this recent 60 Minutes episode to learn more. It’s really fascinating.  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

 

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We wrapped the Colosseum tour and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find our way out of the fiery maze that was the Roman Forum. Fortunately we had learned a lot about it the day before so the main focus became trying not to suffer heat stroke and keep our minds clear. The fresh water fountains helped.

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One of my favorite parts of the forum and surrounding hills were the contrast of bright poppies and fresh water against the red and brown rubble.
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Remember popular 90’s game Labyrinth? Yeah it was kind of like that. roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

That saying, all roads lead to Rome? Thanks to Augustus, technically all roads lead to this rock.  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

After the forum, we headed back towards the hotel to try what our guide John said to be the most authentic and homemade gelato in the city. And with a line out the door 100 or so flavor offerings, I’d say he was right.

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We wrapped day two with an evening aperitivo on the rooftop followed by a heaping plate of carbonara. IMG_0423_2 IMG_0425

When in Rome!

Sand Art

Before I begin this post I’d like to issue a disclaimer for my readers to the north.

Disclaimer: this post references 80-degree weather in November but is in no way intended to be a gloat, brag or the like. I braved enough winters in the Midwest to be empathetic during this time. Please accept my apologies for the unseasonably cold spike. Should you consider a trip to visit because of the following photos, I will not deter you. Seriously though. Come see us!

Do you remember when you were little and you would convince your mom, dad or aunt who happened to live in California to spend ridiculous amounts of money on colored sand art you would take home and display proudly next to the rock collection on your shelf?

I do.

And perhaps that’s the reason I took more than 20 photos this weekend of sand. But not just any sand. Sand art sand. The kind of sand art that takes 3 full days and a wee bit of elmer’s glue to complete. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

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Sand not your thing? Well if you come visit me I will treat you to a bag of the best mini donuts you’ve ever tasted. Sorry Illinois State Fair. Siesta Key mini donuts have just taken the lead for best donuts to be eaten in full sun while counting how many people you see without their shirts on.

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Stay warm, Midwest!

30!

I’m thirty. 30 years old!

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Thirty! I did it. I finally passed the last milestone birthday that all of my friends passed nearly a year before me! Being the youngest of the group, I was used to being last in line for all age-related events. Last to drive at 16, last to do whatever a non-smoker is allowed to do at 18 and the last to legally drink at 21. Now don’t feel too bad for me. Looking back, I can see now that it actually worked out in my favor. I had cool friends to drive me to and from school, to book rental cars when we went on trips and to illustrate which liquor you should not make your best friend on your 21st birthday. Tequila maybe. Whiskey no way. I remember thinking that when they all turned thirty, I would still be 29. And how cool that would be to still be 29 when all your friends were old and thirty. turning 30, birthday, friends Well I realized about a year ago that it’s neither cool nor old. Thirty is not the old age I (and probably every other 24 year old who is reading this) thinks it is. There’s a shift that happens about the age of 26 or 27 where you suddenly realize that you are rapidly approaching the thirty year-old you thought was so old just a few years ago. I am now that thirty year-old that kids just out of college scoff at. Only I don’t feel very different than them. Minus pretty much all of these things. I stayed up until 2 a.m. this weekend. Only it was because my mom and sister’s flight got delayed, not because we wanted to hit up the late-night bar and watch the sun come up. I cannot tell you the last time I willingly stayed up that late. And I’m ok with that. As if last weekend’s surprise party wasn’t enough, my mom and sister came down to visit me in Florida this weekend to celebrate the official birthday. You don’t realize how loved you are until you live really far away and people go out of their way to make you feel special on your birthday. turning 30, birthday, friends   On Saturday, we headed down to St. Armands and Lido Beach. Lido Beach, St Armands, Florida, family, birthday   And on Sunday we spent most of the day at Siesta Key, followed by a sunset dinner along the beach on Anna Marie Island. beach, florida, family, birthday, swiss mountain dog, sunset, anna marie island, siesta key beach, florida, family, birthday, swiss mountain dog, sunset, anna marie island, siesta key   It was so nice to spend some quality time with just my mom and sister. If the next two-thirds of my life look anything like theirs, I can’t wait to get there. Thank you again for all the well-wishes over the weekend. I’m excited for the year ahead.

Somewhere Sunny and 75

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Give me a chance to explain before you swell up with hatred for anyone who is or has experienced this image in the last week or so. Last week I was right there with you. Scoffing at good ol’ Joe Nichols singing cheerfully about somewhere sunny and 75 when we were in the midst of our umpteenth inch of snowfall, just waiting on the next polar vortex to come our way. But I’ve seen the clear blue water with my own eyes, folks. I felt the warm sun on my super pale skin and I absorbed enough vitamin D to get through these next 6-8 inches of snow that are due today.   

Location: Coastal Florida.

Temp: Unseasonably warmer than 75.

Instead of cursing Joe Nichols and wallowing in my winter blues, I decided to do something about it. And while I wasn’t sure I would make it out at times after a few days of flight cancellations, I’m very grateful to have left Chicago and spent time in the Florida sun, even if it was only for approximately 72 hours.

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On Saturday morning, I went for a long run along the river. At least I thought it would be a long run. The riverwalk ended about a mile later so I made my way back and circled some of the neighborhoods near our hotel for the last few miles. There was a farmer’s market just a few blocks away so I stopped in to browse the produce and, wait for it, puppies.

puppy adoption bradenton downtown farmers market

That’s right. A farmer’s market with puppies. As if the temps hadn’t already melted my heart, this little lady sure did. Had it not been for a flight back and a very large older brother, I’m pretty sure I would have walked away with more than just fresh oranges that morning. Just look at those eyes! If you’re in the area, check out Royal Pet Rescue to adopt a cutie just like this gal.

I miss her already.

Saturday afternoon we headed down to Sarasota. We hit up Lido Beach and nearby St. Armand’s Circle for a gorgeous sunset and dinner.

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As the hours passed, a gorgeous fog rolled in from the gulf, making for an even prettier sunset.

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We had a delicious meal at local restaurant, Columbia, where we sipped mojitos, snacked on tapas and filled ourselves to the max on a small serving of their 1905 salad.

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This salad is no joke. And apparently neither was this couple.

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9 puppies dining. 9! At first I felt sorry for the couple and their friend who had two gray ones of her own. I felt sorry for them until they started handing out business cards to everyone who stopped to ogle at their army of go-go-my-walking-pups. I pictured 13 more at home with the dog-nanny. These being the pack leaders, winning enough points to get them to the big show.

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On Sunday we had an early brunch at a local french spot in Siesta Key and then spent the day at what some say is the nicest beach in the U.S. It was gorgeous, the sand like flour. I can only assume it’s prettier than the one the day before because it didn’t have shells but we’re getting pretty picky now.

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Sunday evening, we traveled up to St. Pete Beach to watch the Super Bowl with some friends. Can you believe this view? Please note I took more notice of it during the game than during the commercials. My inner ad geek goes crazy on Super Bowl Sunday.

I’ll be back tomorrow for a Workout Wednesday post, vacation-style. Until then, just look at the pictures and know that there’s an entire state who has no clue what kind of ridiculous weather us Midwesterners put up with all winter long. Either that or they know exactly what we put up with and think we are crazy.

Either way. Somewhere it’s sunny and 75.

I saw my shadow on Sunday

I’m sure you are too busy watching recaps from last nights Super Bowl to miss a blog post from me this morning but I wanted to check in regardless. And by watching recaps I mean the Bruno Mars halftime show and the Chevy bovine love story. Just stick with that. No one wants to repeat that mess of a game again anytime soon. Can I get an ‘Omaha!?’

After a few canceled flights due to, wait for it, wind in Chicago, I finally made it down to Florida late Friday. I’ll have a full recap later but for now ill just give you the obligatory iPhone photo dump of my winter weekend in the gulf.

I realized yesterday that seeing your shadow on Groundhog Day means more winter. I don’t know what I’ve been following these past 29 years but I completely disagree with this logic. If the sun is out on February 2nd, it’s a good thing. There’s hope people. We’re in this together.

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