Monday, April 28, 2008

Putt Putt

After our little bbq fix, I tried to talk Brian into walking around and doing something outdoors, such aaaas ... hmm ... putt putt golf ... to work off that berry cobbler. After having caffeine and sugar I just couldn't sit still. He needed a little more convincing, however, because he's a "real" golfer. So, I suggested he take his "real" putter and make this putting practice. Done!

So down the street we went to Adventure Cove Golf. We had never actually "seen" Adventure Cove because it's kind of hidden and tucked away behind Froggers. We just trusted that we'd find it somewhere behind their big billboard on 441 and not end up in some quandary like the movie Nothing But Trouble.

Well, well, well ... Mr. "Real" golfer found himself in a pickle on the 7th hole when I putted right at par and it took him 5 strokes to finally sink the ball. Of course, he says he was just letting me win so that I would have more fun. In the end, I ended up with the most points, so that means I win, right?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hankerin for BBQ

No body does bbq like the south. Case in point ... last time we were vacationing in Colorado, we had a craving for some hot and spicy bbq to warm us up from the cold. So, we went downtown to the local joint to grab a bite to eat. The service was slow, the meat was dry, the bread was stale, the sides had no flavor and there was only one choice for bbq sauce. The only redeeming factor is that the beer was served in a glass the size of your head.

Here we're lucky to have, not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR bbq joints in town!!! And then if you're still hankerin' for more sweet and sassy bbq there are an additional five more barbeque joints within a short drive. All with their unique flair and flavor.

Tonight we tried the new Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill in Eustis, which is only a short 10 minute drive. And like any good Southern barbeque place, the food was fresh & quick with a multitude of different sauces to choose from and a fabulous blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream to top it all off. Hmmm Mmmm.

The Florida Bar B Que Association will be holding a "Planes, Trains & Barbeque" festival in May if you want to have a taste.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Little Pot of Tea

This afternoon I had the lovely opportunity to have tea with a good friend and her young daughter. It was a special occasion, because at only 2 1/2 years of age, this was Katie's first tea party. Only ... she opted for sweet lemonade. The gracious host at the Garden Gate served the chilled lemonade in a Peter Rabbit tea pot accompanied with a china cup and dainty doily.

The way Katie held her tea cup so carefully so as not to spill an ounce or drop the cup was absolutely precious. Good job, Mom, in raising a lady!

Jackie and I sipped on a refreshing raspberry and peach infused iced tea while catching up on life and nibbling on a healthy lunch.

The Garden Gate Tea Room is a special, whimsical place adorned with lace and flowers, doves in the garden and china cups and saucers. If you have time for more than lunch, you can make reservations for high tea which is a fancy treat. It's everything girlie and a fantastic place for any special occasion ... even just catching up with an old friend.


"I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle. Here is my spout. When I get all steamed up hear me shout, just tip me over and pour me out."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

From Trash to Flash

I'm talking about the flash of light when you flick a switch. Energy. Clean energy ... from trash!?! Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Imagine that question amplified by the expression I had when I was driving out to my Earth Day destination in Okahumpka. I know ... you're thinking the same thing I was thinking, "Oh, ka, huh?"

I celebrated Earth Day by learning how to create energy from waste. Fortunately, it did not turn into an episode of Dirty Jobs and to the contrary was very clean and green.

Located in Okahumpka, about a 40 minute drive outside of Mount Dora, is a fantastically "green" company called Covanta Energy. They hosted an Earth Day Celebration featuring guest speakers, tours of their energy-from-waste facility and a Central Florida Clean Technologies mini-trade show exhibiting local businesses experienced in recycling technology, alternative fuels, hybrid vehicles, green builders and eco-friendly businesses. Because our lodging at Tremain Street Cottages is currently the only certified green lodging in Lake County, Brian and I attended to represent Mount Dora.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. How could burning garbage not produce a ton of pollution and leave a huge carbon footprint? Had I done my research beforehand, I would have known that more than half of the equipment in the facility is used to make certain the air is clean. Electronic monitoring systems continuously measure and record emissions. Big brother is watching.

I commend Covanta for their environmental stewardship. They take the term Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to a whole new level. Convanta operates 30 energy-from-waste facilities around the world, and I'm proud that we have one serving us here in Lake County. To learn more about Covanta Energy, check out their website at:

I'm also very excited that Lake County is home to many other eco-conscious residents. Such as Emilio with Environmental Services that runs his truck on vegetable oil. And Kenneth who is opening First Green Bank, a bank that is dedicated more green then just money.

"If there is to be an ecologically sound society, it will have to come the grass roots up, not from the top down."- Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce


Mount Dora Merchants Not Participating in the "Recession"!

This post is a rebuttal to a recent article written in the Orlando Sentinel by Martin E. Comas about the Mount Dora Merchants feeling the "squeeze of the shaky economy". Follow this link if you want to familiarize yourself with the article;,0,4628127.story

To call the article irresponsible reporting would be a compliment considering that there is ample evidence to prove that the author completely ignored the positive comments he received from various merchants who told of fabulous numbers and increasing business. Though we certainly sympathize with the merchants who have been affected by current economic conditions we must realize that there are always two sides to every story. Mr. Comas chose to share only one side of that story though he gathered information quite to the contrary!

Case in point would be the owners of the Chew Chew Express who will happily tell all that they are doing well in spite of a season full of growing pains through expansion and build out. They told Mr. Comas in person these facts and were totally ignored come press time in lieu of the agenda of perpetuating the "recession" mantra. Kudos to Mark and Tracy at Chew Chew Express and I look forward to my two or three time visitation to their restaurant on a weekly basis.

A few well placed phone calls on the part of Mr. Comas would have given him certain irrefutable facts such as the over 1,000 room nights experienced by the innkeepers at the Tremain Street Cottages this past year which is a record by over 400 room nights from the previous year. A simple phone call to the Mount Dora Historic Inn or the Grandview Bed & Breakfast would have revealed similar facts.

Consider the scores of new businesses that have opened recently that more than make up for the cyclical closing of the reported 11 who are going out. Oddly enough there isn't a single person in town who can count 11 businesses closing up shop.

Mount Dora now has an upscale clothing boutique by way of The Painters Daughter who is clearly in town to stay. The new Mount Dora Sushi Company and Cupcake Delights are enjoying great success at this time. The soon to open Synergy Salonspa has expressed no reservations about current conditions. The new owners of Whispering Winds, Farnsworth House Bed & Breakfast and Cigars, Etc. have embraced the realities and found a way to thrive in spite of the reported conditions.

These are just a few examples of the many new businesses or expanded businesses that I could talk about. The point is simple, there are many merchants in Mount Dora who are refusing to participate in the reported "recession"! For a complete list of these merchants please visit and start counting.

Mount Dora weathered the Great Depression, if Mr. Comas thinks that a cyclical economic downturn in an election year is something new in our over 100 year history then his is sorely mistaken. It would be wonderful to get the facts from both sides of the coin but clearly that is not going to happen though we invite Mr. Comas back to town to re-report if he has any desire to get it right.

Mount Dora is still fabulous and we are open for business!

Here's to sitting out the "recession" with a bottle of fine red wine.

Cheers from Mount Dora,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eat Fresh. Buy Local.

I've mentioned before that I love a good farmer's market. With all of the talk in the media about organics and buying locally grown food, it seems more and more people are looking for farmer's markets in their area.

We have a new farmer's market that just started in Tavares and the quality of vendors here REALLY impressed me. You've got your open market standards such as fresh produce, plants, homemade organic soaps and jewelry. In addition, there is a gourmet pasta company offering unique and interesting flavors such as basil spelt linguine and dark chocolate pasta. Yes. I did say dark chocolate pasta. I tried a piece and it is delish! There is also a local company called Joe's Oat Patties that creates 100% vegan meatless burger mixes. I purchased their Organic Sunrise Sausage mix to try.

This farmer's market meets every Tuesday (today) from 9:00 to 1:00 p.m. behind the courthouse by Lake Dora. So grab your cash and your market bags and check this one out!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

With swim wear season just around the corner, it's time to start counting calories. But that's hard to do if you have a sweet tooth like mine. I still try and get my sugar fix, just in smaller portions. Which is why I'm excited about Cupcake Delights, a little cupcake bakery in town that makes the quintessential little-mini-individual-sized dessert. Okay, so I know it's still probably high in calories ... but I still feel less guilty.

Cupcake Delights has a variety of flavors to satisfy your sweet tooth. Everything from Banana Split and Butter Pecan to Creepy Crawler and Go Fish that are accented with little gummy candies and fun for the kids. Or, just the kid in you. I tried the Kahlua & Cream. Yummmmm.

How do you like to eat your cupcake? My grandmother likes to cut hers in half. Brian just like to dive right in and take a bite. Me, personally, I have a ritual. I like to eat the frosting first by scooping up creamy gobs of goodness onto my finger instead of using a fork. Then, I like to cut the bare, frostingless cake in thirds. I savor the first two delicious bites and then delight that I still have more than half of my dessert left to enjoy. Yeah, I know it's a trick of the mind. But it's my dessert devouring game.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Steam Train in Mount Dora

The steam train has arrived in Mount Dora. For about a month now we have been treated to the authentic sound of a steam train whistle every weekend. Finally we had to check it out for ourselves and ended up taking a ride.

The steam engine is a family project and comes from Indiana. After restoring this beautiful piece of history they decided to take it around the country and share it with everyone else. It happens
to be small enough to tote around on a truck.

Hard to say how much longer the steam train will be in town but for more information on railroading in Mount Dora and the surrounding area please visit They operate dinner trains and tours daily from Mount Dora and Eustis.

Mount Dora at Nite. A monthly street party.

On the third Friday of every month the happening place after sunset is the streets of Mount Dora. Several merchants have banded together to create "Mount Dora at Nite" a shopping, dining and entertainment event.

The action starts at Arbors & Eyebrows on Alexander St. where you can fill up on fine wine and beer at The Cellars at Maggie's Attic and shop for specialty gift items at the Irish Corner. Both are participating merchants and organizers.

The street comes alive with the sound of music at the corner of 5th Ave and Alexander St. in front of E'MZ on Fifth, another event participant, with live music and dancing. Each month is a new band, this event featured the Mount Dora Music Project. These guys and gal are local favorites and had the crowd dancing all night.

The party continues down Alexander Street at the Gables Restaurant and the storefront at Lee Art Glass, both participating merchants of the event. This location featured local artist Beeper, a favorite around town, entertaining with his unique style.

Many local artists attended the event to display their talents and offerings to passing shoppers. There are many bargains to be had dining and shopping during the festivities. Please check with each participating merchant to discover what is being offered.

The next event is scheduled for Friday, April 18th and will be featuring for entertainment the Porchdogs and Bob & Pat. For more information please visit:

Make plans to come on out to for an evening of great entertainment, shopping and dining. Hope to see you on the street.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Animal Exotics.

If you are an animal lover you will not want to miss one of the coolest places in Central Florida for getting up close and personal with some of the most exotic creatures on Earth. A day trip to Animal Exotics should be on your menu of options when next visiting Mount Dora.

Here you will find many retired animal movie stars each with a fascinating story. In this photo I am interacting with a baby Capuchin monkey. What an amazing treat this was and is included in the price of admission.

All of the proceeds go to the care and comfort of these awesome creatures. Some of the collection of animals here include rare and endangered species which may one day only be seen at places such as Animal Exotics.

If you have ever fantasized about petting a Tiger or a beautiful black Leopard this is one of the few places on Earth this can happen in complete safety in a controlled environment. Never mind the waiver you must sign that if you should be eaten there is no liability on the part of Animal Exotics! hahahaha....

Amazing Exotics
17951 SR 452, Umatilla 32784
(352) 821-1234

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Tonight reminded me of the theme song for Cheers, "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name ... and they're always glad you came ..."

Such is the atmosphere at the Retro, which is Mount Dora locals secret hang out. Located in the basement of the Renaissance Building, this place is quite the opposite of a dark damp pub. It is light, uplifting, full of friendly faces and all the beer, wine and food you could ever want.

You're always sure to run into someone you know here, sit down, order a bottle (or two) of wine, enjoy the live music and have a fabulous time.

I particularly prefer their selection of appetizers and light bites for when I'm feeling "snacky" and just want to graze on a variety of flavors. Tonight we tried a Retro original ... cheeseburger flat bread. Started off with Cheers, then ended with Jimmy Buffet on the brain. All the yummy burger bits and melted cheese without the guilt of thick heavy bread. Because ... of course ... cheese and meat are GOOD for you! That's the diet I'm on right now anyway. Order up another one ... it is the weekend after all!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sunset Cruise

I can't believe I've been living here for over a year now and have not taken advantage of Mount Dora's greatest feature ... the WATER! The last time I was out on the lake was in a kayak and it had to have been almost a year ago.

Yesterday evening we were invited to a "networking" group that meets monthly and we were lucky enough to join on the day their meeting place happened to be on a boat. Coincidence? Nah! Attending a meeting on the water with a glass of wine in hand beats waking up before the sun with a cup of coffee in hand any day.

I wasn't sure if the weather was going to hold out for us as the sky was mostly grey and there were some storms off in the distance. But it couldn't have been any better. The temperature was cool and breezy and made for a comfortable atmosphere to kick back, enjoy some wine ... oh, yes, and of course network.

On our little two hour tour, we spotted a bald eagle, a couple of gators and the sunset. Not a bad way to end a Monday. And this is no April Fools!

To organize your own wine cruise or boat trip please contact Tim Coates at Lake County Waterways,


Brian says, "Cheers" from Lake Dora