Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Fourth of July!

Since we were going to be in the States for the 4th of July, Amy and I decided to go all out with an old-fashioned Independence Day Cookout! Only... we had never celebrated Independence Day before. So we picked our "Americana" theme and just went with it.... Flags, Red-White-and-Blue Flowers, Cupcakes, Cookes... Napkins... you name it! Apparently, we did it right! Amber told us that most American's didn't even go as all out as we did. Welcome to the 4th of July, Canadian-style:

On the menu:

Ketchup Chips (a gift for our American friends, from Canada!)
Nacho Dip (my personal specialty) & nachos

Corn on the Cob
Roasted Veggies
Argentinian Sausage (Juan brought them, and they were awesome)

American Sprinkle Cupcakes
American Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
Juan's roasted Marshmallows

Strawberry Daiquiri's
Juan's Midori & Cranberry specialty

After everyone came out of their food-induced comas, we took a walk/trolley ride down to the main strip to see some fireworks. Thankfully, the 4th ended up being the one day of the trip that it didn't rain at all. It was perfect weather, and there were tonnes of people out to celebrate the holiday.

When we asked a police officer on the beach where we should go to see the fireworks, his reply was "Just look up!" Hah... nice. I guess he was right though... the fireworks were literally going off all around us. It was pretty amazing. The best ones were shot off from across the causeway, at Coachman Park. We watched from a few miles down, and it was still a stunning display.

Happy Fourth!
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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

My altered book is DONE!

Interrupting the Florida recap updates briefly, just so that I can say... I DID IT! My altered recipe book is FINISHED!

I posted a while back (more than a year ago) about my book, but I've actually been working on it for about 4 years now.

Last night, I added in the last few recipes, numbered the pages, added an index and made the cover jacket... and voila! I have finally finished!

170 pages and 4 years later, I have a recipe book!
I think I'm eventually going to take pictures of all the pages and upload them, but until then, you can go here to see a few pictures of the inside, if you like.
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Monday, 20 July 2009

Nights at The Castle

Most of my friends here know that I am not really much of a nightclub or dancing person. If I'm going to go out, I'd much rather go to a dirty bar with dim lighting and a band playing on the stage. Camera in one hand, sometimes a drink in the other, and just rocking out. However, ever since I've met Juan, it seems that my main Floridian hangout is a strange place called The Castle. I've had many memorable experiences at this place over the last few years, and on this trip, I spent more time there than I had in all my previous Florida trips.

The first night we ended up at The Castle on this trip was Tuesday, for what had to be the coolest Castle night I've ever been to. It was a trip-hop/lounge/cocktail night. Gregg invited us out for this one. It was a weird event that you needed to know the password to get into (sidenote: we also had to put our names on a mailing list, and I now know the password for next week's event!). Also, on this night, they had 2 for 1 martini's, so Amy and I enjoyed some delicious Cosmo's. At around 1am (clubs stay open way later there - until almost 3), Juan ended up joining us, and Gregg left. We also met Juan & Gregg's friend, who took some pretty sweet shots:

Two nights later, after The Hold Steady show, we ended up back at The Castle. That night, we ran into Juan's friend Andy (who I had actually met there on a previous trip as well), and he bought us some drink that involved Red Bull (one of my "bad girl" drinks, that I usually avoid), that had me dancing all night! Me. Dancing. Yup, that's why I don't drink Red Bull. There is photographic evidence:

The next day, Gregg and I ended up back at the Castle yet again! We started the evening at this really cool place called The Orpheum. At one point, they played a medley of MGMT songs, so I was definitely digging that. That night, we also met Gregg's friend Harold, who was both hilarious and probably insane, and had me laughing all night long. After the boys got tired of Orpheum, we went over to The Castle. However, the Castle on Friday night is like nothing I've ever been to. It was goth night at The Castle... and I was dressed in a very frilly/girlie skirt & top with heels. Definitely did not fit in on this particular night! Yet, it still turned out to be a great night all around!

Oh, and just in case I haven't properly described what this place is like... here's an excerpt from article I found while googling for the club's url:

In the dark of night, the masked man soars across the Howard Frankland Bridge, his cape streaming behind his Batcycle.

"Batman!" people yell when he enters the Castle nightclub in Ybor City. He gives a fist-bump to the near-naked Senator, an Ybor veteran often seen in lingerie. He catches up with Peter Pan. And he poses for pictures with drunken women while showing off his retractable wings.

(On my multiple trips, I have met all of the aforementioned characters!)

Good times!
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Friday, 17 July 2009

The Hold Steady in Ybor City

I found out about a Hold Steady concert that was happening in Ybor City before we left - trouble was, it was billed as a re-scheduled free show, to which tickets had already been given away. I ended up emailing the band via their myspace, and they graciously respond, asking me for my contact details, and how many people I would be bringing to the show! I was very excited about this (though I hadn't received a confirmation email, so even up until the very day of the show, I wasn't sure that we would get in).

The show was on July 2, so after Amy and I watched some dolphins, and spent some time on the beach with Dollward and Sharkey, we went back to the house to get ready. Juan ended up coming with us to the show too. The three of us had a great time. The music was beyond fantastic - I don't think either Juan or Amy really knew the band before that day, but they both enjoyed the show as well.

For me, it was pretty awesome seeing The Hold Steady in Ybor, because I definitely connect the two together in my head - probably because so many of The Hold Steady's lyrics involve Ybor City. Here's the lyrics to my favourite song of theirs:

The Hold Steady - Killer Parties
if they ask about charlemagne. be polite and say something vague. like another lover lost to the restaurant raids. if they ask why we left in the first place. say we were young and we were so in love. i guess we just needed space. we heard about this place they called the united states. we found out virginia really is for the lovers. philly is full of friendly friends that will love you like a brother. pensacola parties hard with poppers pills and pepsi. ybor city is tres speedy but they throw such killer parties. killer parties almost killed me.

if she says we partied then i'm pretty sure we partied. i really don't remember. i remember we departed from our bodies. we woke up in ybor city.

More pics right this way
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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Dolphin Watching! (AKA: not letting the rain get to you)

So, for anyone who was following our tweets, you'll know that we got A LOT of rain while we were down in Florida. We had to work around it as best as we could, to fit in all the things we wanted to do and see.
One of Amy's big "to do's" was a dolphin excursion around the Clearwater Harbour. On Canada Day, we set out pretty early (for us, anyway) to accomplish our mission. We called the good people of the Little Toot to see if they were operating (because the skies looked a little grey, though it wasn't raining yet.) - they told us to come on down for the 11am ride.

It was us and one other family of 3 on the boat. And wouldn't you know, just as we climbed aboard... the rain started.

We waited it out for a little bit, but a mutual decision (by the captain, and the passengers) was made that they would just refund us our money, because it didn't look like the rain was going to let up. This is what we thought of that:

The next day, the skies looked promising yet again. Amy called them up again (and they remembered exactly who she was!), and they told us to come on down (yet again!)

Amy crossed her fingers hard enough for both of us... and it actually worked! We ended up with a perfectly clear boat ride (though it did rain later that day!) At first, we weren't even sure if we would see any dolphins. The tour seemed to go on for a while, and all we saw were some sights of Clearwater, and some famous peoples' homes (I don't actually remember who's was whose anymore. I know some of the homeowners were Tom Cruise, John Travolta & Hulk Hogan, among others)

We waited, and waited, and then finally, la piece de resistance! Someone shouted "Over there! There's one!"
And then they all started coming out and splashing all around us. There must have been at least four different dolphins (including a little baby one!), or maybe more. They are absolutely beautiful creatures.

It was a pretty awesome experience! I can't believe it was my first time doing that, in all the years that I've been going down to Florida. I'm so glad Amy decided that we had to!

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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Here, fishy fishy fishy!

Well, we have made it back, safe and sound from our Wild Ride! For those of you who were following our tweets, you may have caught a glimpse of what we got up to on the trip, but my plan is to update this blog with some of the best stories and experiences from the trip. Today, I begin with our trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

Amy had looked up the aquarium before we left, and we decided it would be a great place to check out. We stayed overnight at a hotel about an hour outside of Atlanta, and arrived at the Aquarium for around 10am. Did not anticipate the 30-45 minute lineup that we waited in (really, who goes to an aquarium that early in the morning when they don't *have* to!). When we finally got in, I was definitely impressed. There was so much variety in the sea life - I didn't even know all these fish existed.

There were several interactive exhibits as well. I touched a stingray! I could have also touched a little shark, jellyfish, or an anemone (among other creatures that I can't remember anymore), but I was a bit too chicken. I think Amy has video of me touching the stingray though.

It's tough to say what was the most impressive though... the sharks... the gators... the reef... I think my absolute favourite were the jellyfish though. Those things were so pretty and graceful - I just loved them!

Check out more pics here. More trip updates to come!
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