Monday, February 25, 2008

Where am I?

... a historic building filled with a tantalizing mix of earthy colors & textures, elegant yet edgy furniture, unique & unusual clothing, hand-crafted leather shoes, sculpture, art and music. Am I in Soho??? Oh no ... I'm in a new little boutique on Donnelly called The Painter's Daughter.

The first floor is a collection of designer clothing, belts & shoes that are all one-of-a-kind pieces for those who like to create their own fun style. Up the wooden stairs in the center of the store you will find a beautiful art gallery displaying works created by owner, Natalie Lovejoy, and her father, Jimmy Lovejoy.

I couldn't walk out of the store without splurging a little and adding a unique berry colored blouse to my spring wardrobe.

There will be a soiree at The Painter's Daughter this Friday night from 7:00-9:00 with the artists on hand to answer any questions about their work, live musical entertainment and light hors d'oeuvres.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

C'est la Vie!

Life is good in Mount Dora. The weather was just simply remarkable today, so we had to find a little place we could sit and relax to enjoy the outdoors.

Today we found ourselves at Cecile's French Corner enjoying a little afternoon apéritif and watching the sunset on the lake. I've always loved a good French Bordeaux. And I would never pass up an opportunity to have desert crepes and coffee. Life could be short ... we must eat dessert first, right?

Cecile's offers a variety of salads, soups, sandwiches, cheese platters, homemade quiches ... and of course, crepes. There are dinner crepes such as the Brittany, Normandy and Riviera.

My favorite are the dessert crepes with a selection of toppings including nutella, strawberries, apples, cinnamon, peaches, and chocolate. Brian and I decided to split a dessert crepe with chocolate, strawberries & whipped creme. Mmm.

The prices are affordable and the ambiance is great. Would definitely recommend Cecile's as your little afternoon European get-away.

Cheers from Cecile's!

--Rachelle & Brian

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mount Dora Music Festival

The Mount Dora Music Festival filled the town with tunes over 4 days and 3 nights of jazz, blues, bluegrass, latin, southern rock, and swing.

There were over 15 amazing artists including Rita Coolidge, Cab Calloway Brooks, Mountain Brew, Leo Lopez & Tumbao, Jeff Rupert & Dirty Martini and the Florida Lakes Symphony Orhcestra.

Whether a formal and dressy night out on the town or a picnic in the park, there was much to enjoy this weekend. If you happened to miss this year's festival, you MUST put it on your calendar for next season. Find out more at

Friday, February 22, 2008

Retail Therapy

After a busy week, I walked downtown this afternoon for some retail therapy and ended up with the added benefit of some aroma therapy as well. The scent of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg lured me into Whispering Winds ... a little shop downtown that is under new ownership.

The new wares of this shop offer a refreshing reprieve from the typical franchised gift & furniture stores you find in the mall. Offering hand made pottery & jewelry, free-trade gifts, cottage-style furniture, old fashioned toys, & bamboo fabric shirts ... you can tell there is a lot of Eco-friendly thought put into what they order.

I ended up purchasing the scented item that drew me in ... a spice heated trivet handmade in Guatemala. And at a cost of only $12, I made a mental note that this would make a fantastic and affordable housewarming or hostess gift. Love it.

Afterwards I stopped by the Village Coffee Pot to share a cup of coffee with the owner and long-time Mount Dora resident Ahktar. He always has a friendly smile and a good story to share. If you're ever downtown and it's too hot for coffee ... I have to suggest his homemade cappuccino flavored ice cream. It's to LIVE for!

What a great afternoon of retail therapy. I was able to appease my shopping urge, get a caffeine pick-me-up and walk home with a smile.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Moon Over Mount Dora

Tonight's entertainment was provided by none other than nature herself. I have to say it's a tough act to beat. A total lunar eclipse. We walked our dog around the park all the while humming, "Well, it's a marvelous night for a Moondance with the stars up above in your eyes ..."

I don't think I have the energy to stay up all night and watch the entire astronomical show. But, the 1st Act was spectacular. Kind of a reddish haze of light overtaking the moon with the planet Saturn framing the bottom half of the moon.

I was crazy enough to think I could photograph something 238,000 miles from earth. But, wouldn'tcha know, my little camera at least picked up a blur of light!!! I've posted my amateur pictures to the left. Good night!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Night Quandary

You ever have one of those nights where you want to eat something healthy and home cooked ... but you don't feel like standing in front of the stove for an hour and the contents of your refrigerator are uninspiring?

That's how we felt tonight. At the end of a busy Monday, you just don't feel like making dinner.

This evening we meandered down to The Gables restaurant. Most of downtown is usually closed on Mondays, so we were so thankful to find this inviting warm glow of light at the end of Alexander Street.

Our dinner was tremendously tasty without an ounce of guilt. The meal started off with a mixed greens salad with tomatoes and cucumbers and a great mandarin ginger dressing. My main course was the rainbow trout with tomato caper sauce and new potatoes. Brian had the pork loin and he must of thought it was delish because I didn't get a chance to taste it.

The ambiance was relaxing ... a great place to unwind after a Monday.


Here's Brian doing his "Cheers" from The Gables

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dinner on Donnelly ...

Brian and I walked down to the Palm Tree Grill for dinner this evening. This little place has been in Mount Dora for as long as I can remember. The atmosphere here is similar to dining alfresco with bistro seating, colorful painted murals on the walls and a great view of Donnelly for people watching.

Both Brian and I enjoyed some pasta-inspired comfort food and wine. My main dish was pesto bow tie pasta with grilled chicken and pine nuts while Brian had the stuffed mushrooms & cheese. Delish.

Cheers from Palm Tree Grill!

--Rachelle & Brian

Saturday, February 16, 2008

... Dancing in the Park

After dinner this evening, we walked to the center of town and ran into some friends of ours. We talked forever, seeming to solve all the worlds problems while sitting on a park bench ... and we didn't even need a bottle of wine!

There was a public dance being held on the deck at the Donnelly
Building with light bulbs strung overhead that made the moment quite reminiscent of any dance on a movie set.

After sitting on the park bench chit chatting and enjoying the music and scenery we decided to partake and dance a waltz or two under the stars.


A pair of shoes can change your life ... just ask Cinderella. Or, in the words of Paolo Nutini, "I put some new shoes on and everything is alright."

A girl can never have enough shoes. There are shoes for working in & shoes for working out ... sandals for hot days & high heels for looking hot ... cozy shoes for cold days & crazy high platform shoes for showing off your balance skills.

Luckily for us girls ... comfort is now becoming fashionable. Walking through stores now you see ballarina flats & mary janes. But the latest rage is the new MBTs which stands for Masai Barefoot Technology.

Our Donnelly Euro Footwear store downtown carries the MBTs, so I decided to try on a pair and experience what all the fuss is about. As clumsy as I sometimes can be, I was a little intimidated about trying on a pair of shoes that has a curved sole. But I have to say, whey were quite a breeze to walk in. Very cushy and comfortable. The Masai sensor actually adds a little spring to your step.

These shoes are not only in style, they are HEALTHY for you. They improve your posture, relieve back pain, tone up your muscles and alleviate pressure on your joints. They are a little bit of a financial investment, but consider it a contribution to your health. I'm going to start saving up to purchase my first pair.

Friday, February 15, 2008


One of our good friends, Jim (who we respectively call the "Web God" for all of his creative construction of this site), came by today for lunch. We've had many things in our personal lives to celebrate and nothing sounded more festive than some margarita's and beers at Fiesta Grande.

Fiesta Grande literally means "big party." And the livelness of our local Mexican restaurant certainly translates it's name well.

Authentic Mexican cuisine, margaritas, beers, a cantina bar and available outdoor seating makes this a great place to take a break and have some fun.

Cheers from Fiesta Grande!

Jim, Brian & Rachelle

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Do you remember, 10 to 15 years ago, the commercials running about the future of information. The little actress from the movie "The Piano" talking about the "information super-highway" that was to become the internet?

I had to drive to Tampa this week and that memory popped up on my road trip. Not because I was checking email or blogging while driving ... heaven forbid! Simply just the term "super-highway" in relation to the 429.

I was no more than 30 minutes away from my driveway in downtown Mount Dora when I was already passing the exit for Disney and could see the big globe at Epcot in a distance. This new road has put all the major theme park attractions within reasonable traffic-free driving distance.

Now ... if only they could clear up the congestion around Lakeland, life would be perfect!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Eating Light

Today we were in the need for "fast food" but were not in the mood for your typical fast food fare. We only had time to eat on the go and didn't want to exchange the convenience of quick food for high calories and guilt.

Luckily we found a fusion of "old meets new" at a little place on Highland called Eating Light. All your good ole fashioned healthy foods that your Mom always said you should eat ... with all the modern drive-in-drive-out get it quick and fresh kind of convenience.

Eating light is an organic food store that offers fresh organic produce and groceries, meals, wraps and some fabulous deserts. I chose to have the veggie casserole while Brian ordered a turkey and cheese wrap. We both decided on their sparkling bottled mate and split a famous cowboy cookie for desert. Mmmm. Gotta love on-the-go healthy choices.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Iced Tea & Sunshine

I know it's cliche to talk about the weather ... but it's been absolutely GORGEOUS the past few days! Perfect blue-sky, cool weather, low-humidity Chamber of Commerce type of weather. Even though it's mundane Monday and the office to-do list is high, we just had to sneak out for lunch to a place where we can enjoy the outdoors.

We found ourselves on the deck at Pisces Rising under a shade umbrella with a fantastic lakeview. After a big bowl of southern-style seafood gumbo to warm us up, we sipped on a couple of bottles of iced tea with a notepad in hand while we "pretended" to work. Only so we didn't feel guilty about enjoying the day.

Cheers from Pisces Rising!

Brian & Rachelle

Eco-Friendly Bling

With so many "rewards" programs out there these days, it makes a person a little skeptical about receiving anything of value as a "thank you" for using a certain credit card, service or product. Which is why I was quite surprised when I received my Aveda Pure Privilege points reward today in the mail.

I've been getting my hair cut, colored and coiffed at our local Aveda salon now for the past two years because I love the product, their service is fantastic and they support the environment. When I recently checked my rewards statement I noticed that I had accumulated enough points to order some jewelry from their catalog and still have a ton of points left over. The thought of "free" jewelry did not set expectations very high. But what the heck ... it's free and it's eco-friendly.

When I opened my little package today from Aveda I was VERY IMPRESSED ... as well as excited, giddy, thrilled, etc. etc. etc. I had received a bracelet made my Smart Glass from recycled Aveda product bottles. It's high quality, silver, hand crafted and totally cool. All I can say is what a great way to win a girl's loyalty ... through some eco-friendly bling bling. Kudos to Aveda. Pure Privilege indeed.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Art Festival Biggest Turnout Ever

More Art Festival comments from friends ...

I BELIEVE IT WAS THE BIGGEST TURNOUT EVER. Wait till you see the pictures, a sea of people as far as the eyes could see. Some of the art was outrageously creative. Sculptures that made a statement, paintings that looked photographic, whimsical pottery that made sense comically. The day was the most beautiful since I've been going, it even got a little warm to hot. I'm sure the locals did well too. The food was fantastic and there was a good variety to your liking. There was a great stage band and a few musician artists as well. All-in-all it was a fantastic show. Ever, impressive.


33rd Annual Art Festival "Enchanting & Inspiring"

We had a pre-scheduled trip that conflicted with the dates of this year's Art Festival. We were so sad to miss it! Here are some comments about this year's festival from our friends at the Historic Inn ...


Hello, from sunny, and beautiful Mt. Dora! We were wondering why we didn't run into you guys at the festival; we ran into everybody else!!! The Art Festival was a huge success and the weather was fabulous!!! Besides the unbelievable turnout, the artists this year were brilliant and refreshing; there was something for everybody both in selection and in cost.

Several people were walking around with bags and bags of acquired art pieces. Our guests had to make several trips to our Inn to drop off their acquired goods. They are bringing an enclosed trailer next year, as they almost ran out of room in their SUV (Ford Expedition), wow!

Ana and I also made several purchases. In fact, we had a budget of $400.00 each; well, we blew past that on our first day! Easy come, easy go. We had guests who have been coming to the art festival for the past 6 years (!!!), and they really enjoyed the quality and diversity of the artists this year. Their main comment, was that there were several new artists, which was very invigorating. Our entire group, including our new guests, has already pre-booked for next year.

Apparently, there was a new method of applying this year (internet application with digital pictures, as opposed to previous years, mail in applications with slides of their art). Furthermore, the jury selection process has also changed; the jurors were sequestered and viewed the artist's wares separately. As a result, none of the juror's opinions were compromised or influenced by another. According to the director for the Center of the Arts, this was the reason this festival stood out from previous years, and why we had a larger number of participants.

Even the artists we spoke with were very happy with the changes, and many of the new artists were amazed at how "enchanting and inspiring" Mount Dora is. Our own experience, compared to last year, was also exceptional. It is such a joy and a blessing to see, and be a part of, the wonderful transformation and renaissance Mount Dora is going through. There is a new energy and vitality that can be felt in the air and in the people who reside here. We are proud to call Mount Dora our "home"!

Mount Dora Historic Inn

Holy Croc-omoly!

The new Croc's Mammoth are the best shoes for travelling. Ever. We just took a little vacation and the morning we were leaving I ran down to the store Walk In The Woods to pick up a pair. I had been eyeing them in the store window for quite sometime and this trip gave me the perfect excuse to splurge and buy them.

They look a little like the beach Crocs, except they are strapless and have a cozy comfy fleece lining that keeps your feet toasty warm. What makes them great for travel is that they are light & comfortable (like wearing slippers) and the lining is removable for washing.

The best part is, however, that you can easily slip them on and off when going through airport security. No having to balance on one foot like a flamingo while taking off your shoes, jacket and carry-on luggage or having to stop to tie your laces. Comfort, convenience and style all in one. How 'bout that!?