Friday, May 30, 2008

Experience the Synergy

A new salon & spa has moved to town ... Synergy. Originally from Winter Park, Lisa & Stephan have brought their panache and style to the corner of 3rd and Donnelly in downtown Mount Dora. Very hip and modern with a full service salon and separate spa with a pedicure room and three massage rooms to fulfill all of your primping and pampering needs.

I tried their Dermalogica facial. I have no photographic evidence ... my policy is "no makeup, no photo." But, I was told later that I was "glowing." Glowing is good.

I was such relaxed putty afterwards that I don't remember much else. Except for their fabulous selection of complimentary teas and beverages and the inviting little piazza-style courtyard complete with cafe tables and a trickling fountain for lounging about and relaxing even more. I can't wait to get my tootsies prettied up and polished next week while mellowing out in their super massage chairs.


I'm Ready For My Closeup

Lights ... camera ... action! This past week, the WTDI team brought out the lights, lenses and lattes for an early morning and late night shoot capturing the essence and feeling of Mount Dora on film. Or should I say, memory card?

Stay tuned for some cool updates and fancy photos added to our website soon ...


Friday, May 23, 2008

Top 10 Tips for Visiting the Springs

  1. Go all-in. Dipping one toe in at a time is a loosing bet. Our northern friends might think this water is a warm tepid pool, but to us thin-blooded Floridians it's going to feel ice cold. Just for a moment though. Once you get your whole body into the water, it feels refreshing.

  2. Bring bug-repellent. I went au naturale without any sunscreen or bug repellent. And at the end of the day I thought, "hey, I didn't get a burn!" But I did get bit.

  3. Guard your picnic from intelligent hungry creatures such as raccoons, squirrels and bears. They may look cute, but don't be tempted.

  4. Pack a large blanket for lounging and napping under the trees. Also a good brain-candy kind of book or magazine. Happy napping!

  5. Pack a picnic basket full of snacks. My personal favorite is frozen grapes because they're a light and healthy refreshing treat.

  6. Bring plenty of bottled water, but leave your flask at home. Yes, yes, I know. How can you have a picnic without a good bottle of wine. Well folks, in the State Parks its against the law. So if you must have your vino ... don't get caught with it.

  7. During the summer, most parks are open until 8:00 p.m. So, make a whole day of it, and expand that picnic basket to a barbecue. Most of the springs have grills ready to go. Just remember to bring all of the appropriate accoutrements such as coal, tin foil, tongs and your favorite sauce.

  8. If you go to Kelly Park/Rock Springs, rent a tough tire tube from Rock Springs Bar & Grill. I've tried the store-bought floating tubes and rafts and they're just not as strong and buoyant. Plus, there are "rocks" at rock springs and they could tear easily. Plus, save your breath from having to blow them up.

  9. Wear water shoes such as Crocs, Keens or any type of diving slipper. The floor of the springs are usually rocky and uneven. This will help protect your feet and keep you standing up instead of sliding down.

  10. Don't forget to take your cell phone out of your pocket. Trust me on this one.

  11. --Rachelle

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rock Springs

We finally escaped the office for an afternoon of fun in the sun and relaxation. I packed a picnic basket full of snacks, grabbed a couple of blankets, beach towels, a good book and we headed to Rock Springs/Kelly Park.

As soon as we parked and started walking the boardwalk down to the water, I had "instant calm." If I could capture this feeling and store it in a jar, it would be my yoga in a bottle.

The breeze was rustling the leaves in the trees and the cicadas had started their summer hum. Because it was a weekday, we practically had the whole park to ourselves and we were surrounded by nothing but peace and quiet.

Immediately my A-type personality starting berating "myself" for not coming here more often and then started scheduling it in my head, "I could come every Monday at 2:00 ... it's only a short 15 minute drive away!"

Plunging into the cold water shocked my body enough to shut up those pesky voices in my head reciting my "to-do lists" and "should-do lists" for a little while so I could relax and just enjoy the moment.

Rock Springs is located in Orange County, just a short drive outside of Mount Dora. The springs bubble up through a limestone cave and 26,000 gallons of crystal clear cold water flow from the mouth of this spring each minute.

The water slowly meanders down a scenic stream, an all-natural lazy river. The temperature is a bit nippy, around 78 degrees. Which makes it perfect for cooling off in our hot summer months. There is plenty of shade, picnic areas and grassy spots for spreading out a blanket napping.

We are so lucky to be surrounded by some of Florida's best springs. To me, this is better than the beach. All the cool refreshing water without all the salty stickiness.


Monday, May 19, 2008

SunLove Fest

At the end of a long workweek (and after a night of partying) I usually want to stay in a relaxed state of mind on Sunday. So today I strolled down to the SunLove Festival in Eustis.

There was an array of relaxing things to do ... get a massage by the lake, listen the soulful music, tasting some rainforest teas, retail therapy with art & jewelry booths, and I could even build my own snuggly teddy bear if I wanted to.

I choose to have an organic root beer (all the flavor, half the guilt) and get a psychic reading done for fun. I wont divulge any personal information revealed in the reading ... but I will say it was pretty accurate!

I also stopped at a booth and learned about "vermiculture" and creating my own worm composting farm in my backyard. Sounds gross, but it was actually pretty interesting. One of these worm composters can reduce organic garbage going into the landfills by 600 pounds per year per household and provide eco-friendly lawn and garden fertilizer. I just might have to incorporate that into our backyard garden ... as soon as I get a garden.

The music was soothing. The breeze was cooling. And I went home feeling light hearted and refreshed. Brian always wonders how I can feel relaxed after shopping and browsing. Must be a girl thing.


FlipThat House in Mount Dora!

Of course there is no TV crew here to film the process and not nearly as much drama as the reality TV show suggests but there are houses aplenty to flip in Mount Dora. Our town is full of great homes in need of some TLC to make them shine like new pennies.


One of my hobbies since coming to Mount Dora has been to find the hidden gems in need of some work and fix them up. My latest project has been one of my favorites and the first that I have decided to sell rather than hold onto as a rental property.


This little 1950's cottage cleaned up very nicely and we added a bunch of "Green" concepts to the mix for added value. From Energy Star appliances to refurbished natural hardwood floors, this house has a lot to offer.

The kitchen turned out much better than I could have anticipated. Rachelle put her design skills to the test and came up with a jaw dropper. Check out all of the detail.

The backyard turned out to be a large slice of paradise. After taking out few trees, trimming back others and putting up a six foot privacy fence all the way around we realized that the over sized lot would be a huge advantage for a potential buyer.

We added a deck to the back yard off of the back door that leads out to this shaded and wonderful outdoor area. The extra space on the lot provides for some awesome possibilities for the future.

If you are in the market for a completely rehabbed house in Mount Dora then look no further. Follow this link for the detailed information about the property, click here to view MLS information.

I have already started my next project so stay tuned for details.

See you on the job site,

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Our neighbor, Kevin, REALLY knows how to throw a party. How's this as a recipe for success ... get together a bunch of local musicians + hire your favorite famous rock band from the 70's + add some lively liquid spirits + invite all of your friends AND have the proceeds support the local community. Wow. We had a BLAST!

It was officially the inaugural Unity In The Community Festival featuring 70's rock band Firefall. You might remember some of their hits such as, "Just Remember I Love You" and "You Are The Woman." Steven Weinmeister joked with the audience saying, "if you've ever been in a grocery store, a doctor's office, or an elevator, than you've heard one of our songs." All joking aside, these guys are still rockin 30 years later.

This was my first time attending a concert event at the Lakeside Inn and it was a fantastic venue for an outdoor concert. The grassy hill provided a natural amphitheatre and the breeze from the lake kept the temperatures cool (and my skirts blowing!).

I can't wait for the next one. Rock on Kevin!

Check in with us again soon for our Firefall/Unity In The Community photo gallery.

-- Rachelle

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hansel & Gretel's Happy Ending

Today I took my grandmother out to the Yalaha Bakery for some pastries and coffee. It's always such a peaceful country drive through the orange groves and around Lake Harris. Plus the bakery has such a European flair with it's unique German architecture and tall, narrow Italian Cypress trees. Walking into the bakery and eyeing all the lovely treats, it's so difficult to decide on just ONE dessert. There is everything from rum raisin cheesecake, chocolate eclairs, strawberry mousse cakes, key lime tarts, cheese & pear tortes, almond horns, German apple pie, cannolis ... and confectioner's high goes on and on. I pause for a moment and I think, "big inviting German house ... in the middle of the woods ... offering an endless supply of pastries, cakes and hearty breads ... did Hansel & Gretel have a happy ending???" When they served our coffees and chosen desserts, it was certainly a happy afternoon for us!
Outside the bakery, we walked over to Blue Bayou Farms & Market where the blueberries are so fresh ... they're picking them right there in front of you! We purchased some of those fresh berries and other produce along with some Amish cheese.

Tomorrow Yalaha Bakery will be having live music and the Blue Bayou Farms are holding a corn roast with fresh local Zellwood Sweetcorn. This will be the last live musical event at Yalaha Bakery until the fall.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spring Jazz Stroll

Wine ... jazz ... picnic in the park ... bare feet in the grass ... laying back on a blanket and stargazing ... could there be a better date night?

We had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with some friends for the Spring Jazz Stroll at Leu Gardens in Orlando. We even unexpectedly ran into a few fellow Mount Dorians ... which I'm not surprised since we are all known for loving wine and good music.

This event is every bit about culture and relaxation. People march through the gates pulling their red wagons full of food, blankets, camp chairs and toting coolers full of beverages while winding through the garden pathways illuminated with candles.

Gardenia's, jasmine and honey suckles perfumed the air and I noticed some jazz stroll veterans even went a little fancier bringing fold-up tables with linens and candelabras.

We parked our picnic on the grassy lawn by the lake next to the second house and munched on cheese, chocolates and wine while enjoying the smooth bluesy tunes of Beautiful Bobby Blackmon and Steve Moore & Moore than Jazz.


Beyond the Sea ...

So, I haven't been able to break away from work for a weekend at the beach in a long time. Or even just a DAY on the coast with my toes in the sand and a pina colada in hand. Which is why I was so grateful to receive an invitation to have dinner with our friends Barry & Tamara at the Captain's Inn.

With Bailey (the happiest dog in Mount Dora) greeting us at the door ... Tamara serving us mango mimosas ... outdoor dining by the pool ... palm trees swaying ... steel drum music playing ... and Barry's nautical artwork ... I felt like I had escaped being land locked for a couple of hours.

Before moving to Mount Dora, Barry & Tamara were chartering yachts and entertaining celebrities for the past 25 years. They have tons of fascinating stories to tell about their adventures on the sea, including entertaining Johnny Depp while he stayed on their boat during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean and hosting Mariah Carey for her "birthday week get-away" on a mega yacht.

In addition to stories fit for Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous they also have tales that would make episodes of Deadliest Catch look tame while they weathered some serious storms and cruised into some uncharted territories.

If you're looking for an escape from the norm, Captain's Barry & Tamara Spieler are sure to be the perfect hosts either on land or at sea.


Ever think of escaping your current job to run your own B&B? Stay tuned for our "Day in the Life of an Innkeeper" series starting this summer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mount Dora's Unique Lodging Establishments

One Size Does Not Fit All! Especially when choosing where to stay in Mount Dora.

Your choice in lodging should be as personal as any other choice you make. With their historic charm and creative style, the Inns of Mount Dora offer something that motor lodges and chain hotels cannot: personality.
And unlike chain lodging in the area, our Inns are in or near the historic center of town.

That means walking distance to all the festivals, restaurants, shops, museums, galleries, theaters, parks and other attractions that Mount Dora has to offer. For your next getaway, express your personal style and choose a Bed and Breakfast or Vacation Cottage by following the link to the new Mount Dora Innkeepers web site.

The Innkeepers of Mount Dora are dedicated to offering the premier Mount Dora experience. There is something for the budget minded as well as the sophisticated traveler who will only be satisfied with the finest our town has to offer. From pet friendly to absolute privacy the Innkeepers of Mount Dora can deliver it all.

Stay tuned to the Blog for our "Day in the Life of an Innkeeper" series which will detail each unique lodging establishment up close and personal.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ice Cream in the Village

After what seems to have been a long and welcome Spring, we are hitting 90 degrees tomorrow folks. All I gotta say is, "Hot town, summer in the city back of my neck getting dirty and gritty ..."

Really though, it's not that bad. It cools down to the low 70's at night. And during the day, you can go and grab some homemade ice cream at the Village Coffee Pot to cool you off. The heat is a good excuse to get yourself a treat and The Village Coffee Pot offers more than just delicious coffee.

Ahktar or Carol will gladly serve up sandwiches, smiles, and words of wisdom too. Today's quote of the day, "Inspiration plus perspiration combine to produce success." Well, I've been doing a lot of perspiration lately on many projects and have certainly felt like the brand of ice cream served called "Working Cow." Hopefully that means success is right around the corner!

After putting in a lot of hours this week, I treated myself to an ice cream cone. Cappuccino Chip. It occurred to me that I actually have not had ice cream in a "cone" for a very long time. I usually just get a little bowl and devour it one delicious spoonful at a time. But today was SUPPOSED to be about play ... so I chose to eat my treat in a more fun way leaving me with sticky fingers and a smile on my face.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Taste of Mount Dora

Now, this is my kind of evening. A big street party with live music, good friends, and more food than I can eat. Over 10 restaurants participated representing a whole international smorgasbord from Japanese, German, Italian, and American Bistro. All were serving their best appetizer, entree and dessert in tapas style portions.

Julie Black kicked off the evenings entertainment with some soulful blues that you just couldn't help but tap your foot and shake your bum too. At least I know I was shakin' in the volunteer tent. Julie's song "Angel For Blues" recently hit #3 in Bluesville's Top 10 on XM Satellite Radio. Also an artist, Julie created the album cover for her cd. Art ... music ... She fits right into the groove of our town!

The Lost Cats kept us moovin and groovin for the remainder of the evening with all of our favorite local musicians ... Robert Cohen, Andrew Johnson, Garry Bringman, Cliff Shooker, Ruth Blake and also featuring Central Florida jazz & blues singer Jacqueline Jones. Currently, Jacqueline is starring in the Mount Dora Theatre Company's production of A Little Moonlight celebrating Billie Holiday through May 25th.

Check out the photos of this event posted in our Photo Gallery. And when you're looking for a place to dine and have a good time, check out the Winners of the 2008 Taste of Mount Dora ...

People’s Choice:

Appetizer/Side Dish
1st Lakeside Inn -- Beauclaire Dining Room -- Mandarin Chicken Salad
2nd 5th Avenue Café -- 5th Avenue Spring Salad

1st 5th Avenue Café -- Chicken Dorati
2nd Waterman Village Bistro -- Scallops au Poivre over Rice Pilaf

1st Waterman Village Bistro -- Lemon Pie Croizer
2nd Lakeside Inn – Beauclaire Dining Room -- Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

(Walt Disney World Resort: Bob Getchell & Michael Thompson & Mount Dora BBQ Company: Larry Baker)

Appetizer/Side Dish
1st Pizzeria Corleone -- Roni Rolls
2nd Waterman Village Bistro -- Baked Brie with Quince Paste Crustini

1st Casa Mia Café -- Penne Boscaiola
2nd Pizzeria Corleone -- Muffelatta n’Awlins

1st The Gables Restaurant -- Austrian Apple Strudel
2nd 5th Avenue Café -- Crème Brulee
2nd Waterman Village Bistro -- Lemon Pie Croizer


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Center For The Arts Hosts New Farmer's Market

The 1st monthly Get Green Organic Food and Artist Market was a soft, but successful start! Christina Padgett, with the Mount Dora Center for the Arts has started something that all of us locals have been asking for ... and looking for ... and waiting for ... a Farmer's Market in downtown!

A place that we can walk to where we can get our healthy local veggies and crafts. Only, Christina plans to add her own creative glitter to the event by having live music and local artists.

Dare I say, I hope this grows big enough to take up the whole alley from 5th all the way down to 4th.

The Center's Organic Food and Artist Market takes place on the FIRST SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH in the Center For the Arts Building and back garden on 5th Avenue from 10 am - 2 pm.

From Christina,

"Customers can enjoy conscious friendly purchases by buying items that are not only good for them, but also supports a sustainable supply chain which has a positive impact on the local environment and economy. As you can imagine, word of mouth is what drives the success of our community events. Please tell your friends about our project & let them know how they can get involved!"

For consideration in participation, please contact MDCA to reserve your space at 352-383-0880.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mount Dora, a dog friendly town.

Mount Dora may well be the pet friendliest town that I known of. I will give you some wonderful examples of why that conclusion is easy to reach in this post. Your pets will love it here so load them up and bring them to town.

Mount Dora has it's very own dedicated monthly pet-friendly event for the entire family.  Every second Sunday you can discover pet-friendly Mount Dora and WIN fabulous prizes!  PAWS for Mount Dora.

We have our own Mount Dora Dog Park, Mount D.O.R.A. (Dog Off-leash Recreation Area). The City of Mount Dora along with private citizens built this park last year and kicked the whole thing off with the BarkFest. They raised enough money for future expansion of the Dog Park.

Dowtown on the corner of 4th and Donnelly you can find Piglet's Pantry, Mount Dora's only dog bakery. Here you will find an assortment of treats that are sure to please the canine pallet.

We also have Hobscott Pet Supplies which is a pet store specializing in natural foods. The owners are true pet lovers and have over 40 years experience to share in the trade. Be sure and take your pet for a visit.

We have a number of eateries and restaurants in town that allow pets in the outdoor seating areas. Pets are welcome in designated areas at Mt Dora Sushi & Steak, Chew Chew Express, Cecile's French Corner, One Flight Up, The Mount Dora Coffee House, A Taste of Chicago, Pisces Rising on the deck, La Cremerie, Copacobana Cuban Cafe, Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill & PizzAmore. Some of these establishments will provide fresh water and treats for the furry visitors.

Mount Dora has a number of pet friendly lodging establishments which will provide your pet with wonderful "creature" comforts. Some of the more popular pet accommodations include the Tremain Street Cottages in downtown. Tremain Street Cottages has two pet friendly cottages, the ground floor Nantucket Cottage and the two bedroom Garden CottageMount Dora Cottages also provides cozy accommodations for furry visitors in addition to the new Maison En Ville.  For a complete list of pet friendly lodging establishments please visit the Pet Friendly section of the website.

Plan your next trip to Mount Dora with your pet in mind.

Chow Chow,