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Monthly Archives: August 2013

  • Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens

    While visiting my mom in New Smyrna Beach, we decided to take the girls to the playground nearby.  We waited for a few minutes to let the afternoon sprinkling rain pass, but it wasn't happening.  So, we started driving north on US-1.  If you are ever looking for a park while driving, look for brown signs.  Just after a few minutes, we saw a sign to the Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens.  They are located off US-1 and Herbert Street in Port Orange.  My mom had not been to it, so we thought to give it a shot.  Little did we know, we were in for a treat!

    Dunlawton Sugar Mill Plantation

    botanical garden

    Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens are open 8 am to sunset every day.  Guided tours are available on Wednesday by appointment only.  The grounds are very interesting to both young and old.  My girls had a great time searching for dinosaurs.  Yep, you read it right.

     sugar mill gardens sugar mill gardens sugar mill gardens

    Originally, the grounds belong the Dunlawton family which owned the sugar mill back in 1832.  All that remains is the ruins, but they are still pretty interesting.  I was amazed at the size of the equipment used.

    Sugar Mill Gardens

    After several attacks by Seminole indians, the sugar mill was never able to fully recover.  The Dunlawtons attempted to create a tourist attraction out of their sugar mill to no avail.  In the 1950's the land was leased to create Bongoland, equipped with a small train, an indian village replica and large concrete dinosaurs.  While the train and the indian village replica are both gone, the concrete dinosaurs were still there.

    Sugar Mill Gardens

    The grounds were beautifully kept.  There's a gazebo and a seating area for a wedding as well as a garden library.  There's also a human sundial and various trails to go exploring.

    Sugar Mill Gardens


    sugar mill gardens

    There is no entry fee, but they do have a donations box available.  This park is truly a gem in the city.  We were so glad to have founded, it was difficult to get my girls to leave.  To read more reviews, check out tripadvisor.

    Do you like visiting botanical gardens? Which is your favorite?

    Do you ever drive around looking for hidden gems?

  • Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

    Fish tacos are one of my favorite dishes to order out.  In fact, I regularly order them from Shrimp & Co.  They are just down the street from our market.  It's a really cute Key West style building next to the Family Dollar.  If you are ever looking for fresh seafood, this is your spot.  But I digress, as much as I enjoy them, I had yet to make them at home.  Gasp.  I know. They are not that difficult to make and they are delicious.  Even my skeptical husband was impressed.  Score.

     homemade fish tacos with pineapple salsa

    I improvised on the fish tacos topping.  Normally, they are served with cabbage.  Cabbage is not something we eat a lot of at home, so I substituted with thinly sliced spinach.  And for more flare, I topped it with my homemade pineapple salsa. It truly was delectable.  Here's what you'll need:



    For a little more flavor/heat, I added Flavors of Florida Key West and Clearwater Beach to my tacos.  While the Clearwater Beach hot sauce is usually my favorite, I thought the Key West hot sauce was better for this dish.  The Key West sauce is a medium spicy jalapeno and key lime hot sauce.  The Clearwater Beach hot sauce is definitively spicier.  It's made with cayenne peppers and lemon juice.  For the girls, I made "mayo ketchup", but I used vegennaise instead of mayo.  They loved it!

     hot sauce



    Do you like fish tacos?

    Have you tried the Flavors of Florida hot sauce line?


  • How technology keeps us connected

    As some of you may know, we recently took a trip to San Francisco.  Flying across from coast to coast is no easy endeavor when you have two little ones in tow. Luckily for us, this wasn't the girls' first time flying.  But, it was still the longest "travel day" of their life.  When booking our flights, I decided it would be easier to fly out of Tampa even if it meant we'd have a layover sometime in between.  Again, since we were traveling with the girls, I figured the layover would give us enough time to "explore" a new airport, get something to eat and be on our way.


    With all of the iphone upgrades, we've been lucky to keep two old iphones.  We decided to let the girls use them as an iTouch.  At home, they normally play cut the water or angry birds as well as more "age appropriate games" like Hair Salon and TeamUmi.  They also have access to our Netflix account which allows them to watch their favorite cartoons.  I think Scooby Doo is winning by a long shot.  While we were on our layover on our way to San Francisco, Zoe decided she was missing her babysitter.  I suggested she send a text.  Her eyes lit up at the thought that even though she was hundreds of miles away, she could still reach her.  They texted back and forth for a bit while we waited for our next airplane.  Happy kid = Happy mom.


    Last week, my cousin, who is almost a sister to me moved to South Korea to teach Spanish in an all English private school.  While the thought of visiting her in South Korea is very tempting, I'm pretty sure it is out of our budget.  Thanks to our iphones, we've been able to text almost daily to keep up.  We've also made plans to Skype.

    girls and grandma

    As much as people argue over the changes in Facebook, I'm glad it is still available.  I'm glad it allows me to connect with my family in Puerto Rico.  When I post pictures of the girls, I know my grandparents can see them.  It cracks me up every time I call her to tell her what we've been up to and her response is always, yeah, I saw it on Facebook.  This is my grandma, who was born in the 30s has a handheld smart phone that allows her to keep her family close even if we are separated by the Atlantic Ocean.


    Thanks to social sites such as Twitter, we are able to connect with people we would otherwise never meet.  Before our trip to San Francisco, I tweeted about going to the city.  A few people in the area reached out with recommendations and clothing advice (Thanks @hey_im_kate).  I was also contacted by another FitFluential Ambassador (@pavementrunner).  It was so awesome to meet up and run through the city with a new "friend" who without this technology would never have happened!

    How do you keep connected?

    Do you love Apple or Android products?

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