5.23.2017

Tampa Indie Flea, Ulele, and Other Sunday Adventures

A couple of weeks ago, my cousin Taylor texted my other cousin Shelby and I to see if we would be interested in driving down to Tampa to check out the Indie Flea. We were both up for it, so we made plans to go this past Sunday and create a full day of things. We ate some good food and came across some good finds, and I just can't pass up the opportunity of sharing!

We left Gainesville around 7:30am and made it to Tampa around 9:30am, so the first place we ventured to was Buddy Brew Coffee. Buddy Brew is a local coffee shop that has been in Tampa since 2010, and there are now several locations around the city. It's one of those places that you immediately love once you walk in the door.


I ordered a chocolate croissant and a cold brew coffee. Cold brew is always my go-to, so I feel the need to try it at every new coffee shop I visit. I loved the croissant...but I actually did not like the cold brew at all. It was no fault of Buddy Brew's...there was just some odd flavor that my taste buds were not a fan of. I guess you win some, and you lose some.


After coffee, it was on to IKEA! Can anyone tell me if it's actually possible to get out of there in less than two hours? We walked around the showroom to check everything out, and then spent a good portion of time collecting the items we wanted to purchase. We all found some great stuff! I walked out with new pillows for mine and Slade's bed (much needed), a new print to hang somewhere in our house, a cute little fake plant to take to work and put on my desk, and a toilet brush/holder for our second bathroom. I also found these adorable stuffed animals that look just like Bell and Rizzo, which I resisted the urge to buy in spite of how precious they were.


We had all worked up an appetite in IKEA, so lunch was next on the list. Taylor had made us reservations at Ulele, a restaurant on Tampa's Riverwalk.


The restaurant's website gives a better description than I could: "Ulele (pronounced You-lay-lee) celebrates the vibrant fusion of ingredients from Florida waters and land once home to many Native Americans, including the young princess Ulele. Expect intricately flavored, visually appealing dishes prepared on the 10' diameter barbacoa grill."

It is located inside of an old, preserved building, and has a really unique atmosphere. For an appetizer, we tried the alligator hush puppies. Yes, with actual alligator meat, ha ha. If you have never tried gator before, it is similar in taste and texture to chicken. The hush puppies were really different and tasty!


For our entrees, Taylor and I ordered the lobster roll with fries, and Shelby ordered the crab mac n' cheese. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the food. Everything was fresh and wonderful. I will definitely pay Ulele another visit!


Once we were finished (and full), we walked to check out the fountain in front of the restaurant, which is a dedication to Ulele. I think the restaurant is doing a wonderful job with their style and their message. The fountain is proof of that.



Our last stop of the day was the main reason for our trip...the Indie Flea! The Flea takes place in the Rialto, an old theater in the heart of Tampa. Local vendors of every variety come to sell their products...everything from craft beer to tshirts to succulents to art prints.


There were so many different, quirky things to check out. It never ceases to surprise me how creative people can be. It's always awesome to see people sharing items that they put heart and soul into. I think Blue Poppy Gallery had my favorite booth of the day. They create prints with quotes and images on sheets of dictionary paper. I couldn't say no to this Jane Austen quote. It came home with me.


Do you have any events similar to the Indie Flea in your area? Tell me about something really cool that you have purchased recently.

5.22.2017

Burgess Falls State Park: Putnam County, TN

While on the Tennessee portion of our vacation, Slade and I decided that one of our goals was to see a waterfall. Since we were staying in Nashville, we did some research and were pretty surprised at the large number of waterfall options in the surrounding area. We ultimately decided on Burgess Falls State Park, which was located just over an hour east of Nashville. We woke up early, put on some hiking approved clothes, had a good breakfast, and set out to chase a waterfall.


State parks are always a great option when on vacation. They are typically free (like Burgess Falls!) and there are usually a variety of activities to choose from...hiking, swimming, picnicking, etc. Nature parks are also a reminder of the importance of the environment and the outdoors. I know that's something I often forget to think about when I'm busy in my daily life, and there is something really peaceful and eye-opening about getting in touch with more "untouched" parts of the world.


We arrived at the park fairly early in the morning and it wasn't crowded at all. The weather was pretty chilly (at least chilly compared to the Florida weather we're accustomed to), but it warmed up nicely in the hour or so we were there. There are two (possibly three, I can't remember exactly) trails to choose from. The one we took was about a 20-minute hike to the falls.


Fun fact about that shirt...I was not a fan. I bought it while on the trip because it was warm and cheap, but all I could think of the entire time I was wearing it was the phenomena of #blessed. Anyway, arriving at the waterfall is a memory that I will never forget. It is the first large waterfall I have ever seen, and it was almost sensory overload. The sight, the sound, the smells, and even the feeling in the air...it was all a perfect combination for a place that I could have spent all day at.


There is usually another trail that actually takes you down to the bottom of the falls, but it was unfortunately closed the day we were there. I was a little bummed about that, because I'm sure it would have been amazing! When we were at the overlook, all I could think about was the scene in the Disney version of Pocahontas where she dives off of the waterfall and how unrealistic that actually was. Not saying I'm a waterfall expert now or anything, but there were a LOT of rocks at the bottom of that thing. (Oh the places your mind can take you.)


When we arrived to the car after our hike back, I reflected on how the adventure had been a perfect start to our day. Experiences like Burgess Falls also make me extra grateful that the U.S. has such a wide variety of sights and landscapes to explore. I want to see as much of it as possible in my lifetime!

What is the most surreal natural sight you have ever experienced?

5.19.2017

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard {Restless Reviews}

It's time for another Restless Review!


The book I'm about to discuss was possibly my most anticipated read of the year. I had been anxiously awaiting the moment that RoseBlood, by A.G. Howard, would fall into my hands. Did it live up to my self-created hype? Eh, not so much. Let's get into a little bit more detail...


"Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He's not dead, you fools. Legends never die."

In a nutshell...
RoseBlood is a retelling of Gaston Leroux's classic novel, Phantom of the Opera. In this version, we follow 17-year-old Rune Germain, who has a gorgeous voice, but for some unknown reason, falls ill every time she sings. In an attempt to cure Rune's singing sickness, her mom sends her to what is essentially an opera-centered boarding school, located in France. Questions are answered and an adventure begins as Rune meets the characters and learns the secrets of the school. 

Bad news first:
*Insert long, obnoxiously audible sigh here.* Initially, you should know that my love for Phantom of the Opera runs deep. The novel, the musical, the characters, the story-line...I couldn't love it any more than I already do. It's my favorite thing of life. And...maybe that's what ruined this book for me. If it were up to me (and it's not, but if it WERE), I would describe this book as more of a sequel than a retelling. I'm not going to say why, because that would be a bit of a spoiler. Let's just say, I didn't always appreciate the angle of the story. 

Howard also chose to go more of a paranormal/fantasty route with this book. You see, I like both paranormal and fantasy, but, I'm just not sure I liked those aspects combined with the mystery and amazingness that is Phantom. I found Rune to be a pretty obnoxious protagonist...she feigned this heir of "toughness," but really she was just naive. There was virtually no depth to the majority of the supporting characters, and portions of the dialogue were super, super cheesy. (And not in the funny way.)

Now for the good: 
I have one word for you: nostalgia. Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. Howard did a really good job of creating the same creepy, yet beautiful atmosphere that Leroux created in Phantom. The descriptions of the opera house were wonderful, and even though the setting was present day, you still often felt like you were in a much older time in France. She was also great at adding pieces of the original Phantom story into her own writing, and then building on the ideas. For these reasons, I rated RoseBlood 3/5 stars. 

So...yay or nay? 
Sure. If you're a Phantom fan, I definitely think it's worth a comparison. If you're a fan of fantasy and paranormal aspects on classic stories, you may really enjoy it. If you check it out, let me know what you think! 

What is a book that you found yourself being overly critical of? Have you ever read a retelling of your favorite story? 

5.18.2017

5 Instagram Accounts for Dog Lovers

One of my favorite things about Instagram is being able to easily follow accounts that produce photos of things that I love and am interested in. It is the one social media platform that doesn't overwhelm me. Call me crazy, but sometimes scrolling through my feed is all I need to change my mood, or motivate me to accomplish something I have been putting off.

Even better, Insta is the perfect place to go if you're looking for something cute and fluffy to gush over. I have always enjoyed following pet-related accounts, but I love doing this evening more now that I have Babybel. It's fun to see photos and read stories that other dog lovers post, because I can relate to them on such a close level. I even created a profile for Bell, because that's just the kind of dog mom that I am.

Are you a dog lover? Here are some of my favorite dog and puppy related Instagram accounts. You may enjoy them too!


1. lizzie.bear
This account shares the daily lives of Lizzie and Ally, who are both Golden retrievers. They are so precious! They both look incredibly happy all the time, and their feed is full of their adventures. You can also tell that they love each other dearly...it makes my heart happy!

2. thatgoldendog
Bear, another Golden retriever, is the star of this profile. The owner originally started the account with her dog Champ. Sadly, he passed away in 2015. She got Bear in 2016. Oh my goodness, all of the photos are CUTE. You can spend hours getting lost in this feed.

3. popyourpup
There is no one particular pup that makes an appearance on this account. Pop Your Pup is actually a company that creates custom portraits of your pet. You can get these portraits on canvas, tshirts, and other products. I really want to get one of Bell and our cat Rizzo done. They're so adorable, and the account always shares the cutest photos of pets that have had their portrait done.

4. love.a.bull_diesel
Diesel is a pit bull with an incredibly sweet face. He looks like he would be the best snuggle buddy. You can't help but smile when one of his pictures pops up in your feed.

5. rescuepetsofinstagram
Rescue pets features photos that followers send in of their own rescued pet. We adopted Bell and she makes us happier than anything, so seeing other animals find families makes me believe that the world isn't always such a bad place. They also give a shout out to the shelters that the animals are adopted from, which is wonderful for making others aware of where they can adopt from.

Do you follow pet accounts on Instagram? What are some of your favorites? Please share them with me!
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