Organic Food and Film Festival and Some “Food” for Thought

Here are a few scenes of the vendors at the festival 

 

 

 

                                                                          Photo by Peterphoto1390

Today I went to an Organic Food and Film Festival in Ocala, Florida. It was held on the grounds of the Ocala Civic Theater off Silver Springs Boulevard. This was not one of those occasions where I knew I would be exploring a beautiful place or discovering a new fine dining restaurant. If I have to admit why I went, I would have to say it was for purely selfish reasons – to continue on my quest for truthful information for myself and then to be able to pass it on to others.

For me, it started in September 2001 when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was one of the lucky ones and am grateful to be a survivor. But at the time, when I asked my doctor, why me, his answer was he didn’t know, just dumb luck. Then, shortly after, I spent some time with another doctor, who with homeopathic remedies, helped me rid my body of residual bone pain. But while with him he found that my body was toxic with high levels of petroleum. Now how did all of that petroleum get there? Was this all just a coincidence or was something else going on? I really don’t know. But those two incidents made me start to wonder.

I had a healthy lifestyle, ate good, nutritious foods or so I thought, until along comes my daughter, Jennifer, who has been a student of clean, healthy living and is on her own journey to building a sustainable,organic food source of her own.  She and hubby Roberto have talked the talk and now are putting it into action at their new farm, Thistlemooon Meadows, in Vermont.  In addition, she also had worked for years with the doctor who helped me with homeopathic treatments. She began making little adjustments to my food, supplements and all things related. Everything that she ever told to do has been spot on, and way before it was brought to general public awareness. Now she is teaching me about what is in the foods that I have been eating and showing me that there is a better way.

How long has it been since you have been able to just pick up an apple, without even washing it, and know with absolute certainty that it wasn’t pumped full of pesticides, which can be oil based, poisonous or genetically modified? If I had known what I was eating, do you think I would have eaten it? The fact is that I was actually polluting my own body without my knowledge or my consent.

The Department of Agriculture has set up standards to which food that is labeled Certified Organic must adhere.  You can know that if it is labeled as such that there is no irradiation, no sewage sludge, no hormones, no genetic modification, no antibiotics and no pesticides.  (By the way as a side note, less than 1% of insects are harmful.  The rest have a job to do and when any of them are killed off with a pesticide, the eco balance is disrupted.)

Now, that I know better, not only did I want to go to review this festival, I felt it my moral obligation to go.

                                                                           Photo by Dave G. Kelly

The first time I went was to the one that was held there in January. Since then, it has grown from just having a hand full of vendors to so many that they had to open the grounds and move it outdoors. I learned where I can join a CSA and where I can pick certified organic berries and fruit. I was able to get a list of resources so that I can continue my learning and I will pass them on to you at the end.

The highlight for me was the films. If you do nothing more than watch these three films, you will never look at food the same way again.

“Food, Inc” exposes what’s behind large scale industrial farming. A real wake up call. I was terrified and horrified!!!

“The Future of Food” graphically shows how our food is being genetically modified and how supermarkets are being led to stock these fake foods. It also tells how just a few huge food corporations are trying to control the world’s foods and farms.

“What’s Organic About Organic” is the light at the end of the tunnel by striving to show the greener side of chemical-free pastures. Marty Mesh, co-producer, was on hand to educate and to answer all of our questions at the end, which were many.

 

Here I am with Marty Mesh after screening of “What’s Organic about Organic”.

Now, I make no claims at being any kind of expert. I am not a scientist or a doctor. And I don’t know all the answers. I am just like everyone else, just trying to sort it all out. But I am convinced that now is the time to let everyone know what is really going on. There is power in knowledge and I feel like I owe it to myself and to future generations to get this figured out now.

Start asking yourself the tough questions? Why is food being genetically modified and why can’t we know which ones are? Why do only 4 companies hold monopolies on seeds and how are they controlling their (not our) interests in putting the farmers out of business with their lawsuits. Why does the government support the interests of these monopolies? Why, since the advent of the Nitrogen bomb, nerve gas and DDT among others, have these poisons found there way in diluted forms into pesticides – then into our food, animals, air and water and finally us? Why are 97% of the vegetables that were grown up until the 20th century, now extinct? Why are big companies even allowed to patent seeds and then sue anyone who doesn’t use them or who uses them without paying them – even if the farmer never planted the seed to start with and only got some by wind contaminating their crops? Why are cows given human antibiotics or hormones? Why is the government subsidizing farmers ( really a GMO rebate) with tax payer money? Why is the US selling GM corn to Mexico cheaper than they can grow their own? Why has Japan decided to not use chemicals and to just watch the children in the US for ten years to see if they get sick? What were the loopholes that big dairy farms tried to use to get around being called grass fed and what has been done about it? Is it really true that organic farmers could never keep up with the food demand over the farms that are forced to use what I will call tainted seeds? Who in the government is watching out for US? The FDA, The Department of Agriculture and the EPA are tasked with this job. Who is watching to see that they are really protecting our interests over those they shake hands with?

Like I said, you really MUST see these films.

And with all of that, what can you do? Is it as hopeless as it seems? Is it true there is no point is even trying to go up against all of that? The answer is NO. There is plenty we can do. Isn’t this the time of the “Yes, we can” campaign? It is a moral and ethical issue and we should be able to have a say in what we eat. Change is actually coming. Do we want real farming or “Pharming”?

How about you? Here is what you can do right now:

  • Join a CSA
  • Go to you local Farmer’s Market
  • Read labels
  • Cook seasonally
  • Compost your food scraps
  • Plant a garden
  • Vote with every bite
  • Buy what is Certified Organic (hint: all natural is NOT organic) People say they don’t buy organic because it costs too much. My answer is eat less and maybe obesity will go away – and so will so many doctor bills!!
  • Be a student and empower yourself with knowledge
  • Pass this on to those you care about

Here are a few resources for your information:

Trade Show on all things organic

How to go organic

The Future of Food free viewing of film

Organic Buying Club Ocala-Lady Lake, Fl area

Workshops or farm tours by Florida Organic Growers

I would love to hear what your opinions are. Please share some of your knowledge and experiences so we can all be healthy together.

Bus Ride

 

                                                                                  Photo by xraven1

When I was growing up taking lots of family vacations just wasn’t part of my family’s budget plan. My parents worked very hard all their lives raising my brother and me and we had everything we needed, but we just didn’t have a lot of wants – like vacations. And that was alright.

In later years, once we kids were out on our own and dad finally was able to retire, they were fortunate enough in their golden years to travel a little bit. My parents were always social and had a network of family and friends living around them and fortunately their vacations took on the form of group trips organized by our church with these family and friends – on the bus. This was perfect for them. They never had the worry of mapping trips, driving on unfamiliar roads, figuring out how to book hotels, planes or any of that. They just signed up and away they went. And they had wonderful times, visited many and varied places and collected lasting memories. I am so happy that they were able to do that. I had terrific parents and they sure deserved a little fun and excitement together in their lives.

That got me to thinking – about buses.

Just about this time, I came upon an article written by Peter Greenberg while paging through a recent issue of AARP Magazine touting the advantages of bus travel in the here and now. Whether you are going to join a group on a planned tour like my parents did or just using the bus as a means of transportation on your way to your own planned trip, going by bus may just have an attractive appeal.

In general, you buy your ticket, hop on while your bags are stowed, with no extra baggage fees I might add, and take your place in a roomy, leather reclining seat. Sometimes, I used to catch a bus home on breaks in my college days, when I didn’t have my own car, and found it actually quite pleasant. The bus made regular stops where we could stretch, grab a bite to eat and while on board, get to see a lot of just beautiful scenery along the highways and through those quiet little towns. I loved it.

Maybe if you are in a hurry, this might not be the ideal choice. Yet, if you figure in driving to the airport, parking in a satellite lot, catching the little van to the terminal and then going though all the lines before waiting to board, that all adds up too. But face it, we are all so much in a hurry to do everything that just the idea of slowing things down and enjoying the trip sounds real good to me. Even better, some of the intercity buses, like Greyhound or Peter Pan and others, looking to compete with trains and planes, are adding such amenities as wireless access, cell phone reception, drop down videos screens and even attendants who will serve you a snack or beverage. Pretty cool, huh!! Another advantage is that the fares are really very reasonable. Only down side that I can see is that for now at least, the bus still does not serve every route and you might not find service to the place you need to go. But if you can make your connections, be prepared to save big.  Greenberg said that a typical round trip from New York to Boston, for example, might cost $225 on American Airlines, $124 on Amtrak and drum roll please, $42 on Greyhound.

If you are curious about looking into bus travel, there are a few sites where you can plug in your route and get a comparison of various bus companies and fares, some with package deals as well.

BusJunction.com

GoToBus.com

Tip of the Week – Bed and Breakfasts

                                                                         Photo by IvyLodge

Since I just did a post on a B&B, I think I will stick with this theme this week.

For the longest time one of my own dreams was to have my own Bed and Breakfast. I imagined all of these different scenarios of where it would be, what it would look like and who would do all of the various tasks associated with it – the decorating of it, the paperwork of it, the cleaning and the cooking, even having a little organic garden of veggies and herbs. In my minds eye it was really fun and things ran seemingly flawlessly. I realized with having that dream that owning a bed and breakfast was a really personal extension of what I would consider my home that I would be opening to invite guests to share with me.

Well, that never happened and that dream will just remain a dream. But when I think about the reality of owning and running a successful Bed and Breakfast, I realize what a lot of work it must be for those who do own one. For that reason, I have decided to give some of what I think are things to think about first for the traveler going to a bed and breakfast, and then for us also to remember what could be important to the owners. Each, the guest and the innkeeper, have certain responsibilities to the other.

We would expect good, prompt service that lives up to the advertising to be sure. Bed and Breakfasts are not all the same though. If you are after a gourmet breakfast, be sure that the one you select advertises that. Some just have a continental type breakfast – maybe homemade muffins and jams set out as a serve yourself. Same goes if you are expecting afternoon tea or sherry. Or antiques and fine linens. Make sure you do a little research so that you won’t be disappointed. While most times these days reservations can be made on the internet, I would suggest a call to the innkeeper just to have some personal contact. Just remember that if you do call, the owner would likely be tied up in the morning with breakfast. While you are at it, in discussing your particular needs, you could ask if you need to bring a specific item or if it will be supplied. And you may as well find out what local events or activities are in the area.

Many times the innkeeper may be able to accommodate a special request.I have heard of a bride who  bookied a whole B&B for her family. Or if you have a very small child, an advance call could help you find out if there is an age minimum. If they do allow babies, a call will help them get ready for your visit to make it perfect for you. Most would likely go all out to make your stay memorable.

Which brings us to the other part. Unlike hotels, these are usually privately owned homes. Those antiques you sit on or sleep on and the china you eat your gourmet breakfast on are special to the owners. So in return for allowing us to share them, we have the responsibility being good stewards of their B&B and to treat it and its furnishings gently.

Travel Tip of the Week – Traveler’s Insurance

 

                                                                        Photo by gourabstock

I guess I have been lucky in that of all the times I have traveled somewhere be it car, train or air, I have never had an incident where I actually needed or even thought about getting traveler’s insurance. When I think of all the things that could have gone wrong, I wonder why it never occurred to me to purchase some.

Recently, I was contemplating taking an overseas and rather expensive trip and one of the things the tour company discussed was the purchasing of protection. That prompted me to think about it more carefully and to do a little research into why it might be a beneficial thing to have.

When planning an expensive trip months in advance there are a number of things that could happen. What if plans change – an accident, illness, weather emergency? What happens then? What if you get to a place and your luggage doesn’t? What if you are in a tropical place and a hurricane hits? What if you are involved in an accident? Does you own medical insurance cover you?

I think that for the majority of times, most travel worry free. Yet, there is that old adage “better to be safe than sorry”.

Anyone out there have an experience where having insurance saved the day? Or, on the other hand, anyone have a sad tale about not having it and wishing you had? I’d like to hear what you think.

“Dirty Little Secrets”

 

                                                                          Photo by Bill Mayer

A few weeks ago I did a post discussing accommodation options that could save you a little money while you travel. I want to talk about accommodations again but this time I want to talk about what can be called “Dirty Little Secrets”. This morning in the period of about 30 minutes I heard two reports that made me want to take a shower right away. The first was when I just woke up. There was a news item on the radio about a well known hotel in London that offered bed warmers as a customer service. Human ones. They felt it was a good thing because “people sleep better when the sheets are warm”. Hello!! The bed warmers are supposed to wear one piece pajamas and have their hair covered. But they couldn’t guarantee that they would have had a shower. Call me crazy, I wouldn’t want a stranger warming up my sheets even if they had a shower!

And speaking of sheets that brings me to the second story I heard this morning. It is fairly common knowledge that the cleanliness of hotel rooms comes under question at times – even the GOOD ones. But after I heard a report on GMA this morning, I felt the need to report what I heard. Maybe some of you saw it too. They had a segment that was even worse in the creepy crawly division than the bed warmer. Trip Advisor has a list of the 10 dirtiest hotels. They are listed for you if you visit their site. The show featured a microbiologist going into a few of the hotels with an ATP Meter that picks up bacteria and mold. While they say a meter reading of 300 is considered safe, they were picking up readings of 2040. That and other instruments showed not only mold and bacteria on walls, floors, bathrooms, etc.; they also found rust, water damage on ceiling tiles, bodily fluids on bedspreads, walls, chairs, floors. A real cesspool. And then there are the bed bugs.

Now that I most likely have you all retching, what is a traveler to do? The first thing to do when you get to your room is conduct a room inspection. Do not put your suitcase on the bed. (And when you get home, do not put your suitcase on your own bed.) Put it on the bag holder. Look for stains on the spread. Remove the spread entirely. Who knows when or if these ever are cleaned. Check the linens for stains. Pull up the corners of the sheets and look for bug debris or dander or any little droplets of what could be blood in the crease if the mattress along the seam that would indicate the presence of bed bugs. Then move to the bathroom. Look for rust, water damage or stains in the sink, tub and around the toilet floor. If ANY of these are found at this point, ask to have a different room.

If the room passes all of these tests, here are some more just general things to do. Bring you Clorox wipes and clean off the doorknob and the remote. Give a good healthy disinfectant spray on surfaces in the bathroom. Don’t use the glasses or cups unless they are paper and wrapped. Bring slippers or at least Flip Flops when walking on the carpet or in the bath. They had these little plastic mattress bags that you could bring along but didn’t say where they got them. Anyone know? Precautions like these, while annoying, can help prevent things like the flu, colds, or athletes feet.

I am sure that many hotels go out of their way to keep their rooms clean and safe. But there are always some that might look the other way when it comes to training and monitoring staff. Better to be safe.

If you can think of other things to look for or have any other ideas to protect yourselves from unwanted contaminants, please leave a comment.

My Stay-at-Home Getaway

 

                                                                    Photo by Christine Lebrasseur

It is WINTER. Tax time is on the horizon. You just blew your budget on the holidays………….. Sounds like you could use a getaway. Uh-oh. Dilemma! Just can’t afford a little luxurious getaway right now – or can you????

Ever hear the old commercial about “ Calgon, take me away”? Well, maybe some of you over a certain age may have. :-)

Let’s expand on that idea and plan a getaway all on your own for yourself – at home.

Now if I were going to have that day where I could indulge just myself to chase away those winter blues, what would I do? I am going to dream a little bit to come up MY perfect stay-at-home-getaway. For those who don’t know me well, I am a true budget keeper. I rarely splurge on myself just for the fun of it. So this evening will have to be outside my box without any guilt. A tall order. But I am willing to go there for the cause. Ha ha And, if I want to rationalize it is still a more economical deal that going somewhere else. Right!

So what would I need to feel pampered? This has to be the one time where I decide only to please myself. It would have to incorporate all the things that I enjoy:

ambiance

comfort

entertainment (music, reading and a good chic flick),

food and drink

To set the stage, I would have to buy some white lilies just because I love the way they smell. Then I would light up my scented candles (I like vanilla), turn on Andrea Bocelli’s, Romanza, and step into a warm bath in my soaking tub fragranced with oils and full of bubbles. (I really like my tub! It was one of the things on my must have list when I bought my house.) In my best flute I would have my first glass of Moscato d’Asti. I know it is not the most expensive bubbly, but it is the one I like. Who says I need a 5 star hotel anyway!!

After the bath, I would put on my toasty blue fleece pj’s ( I did say comfort ) and move to the living room. Tonight, I don’t eat at the table. I eat in the living room and calories don’t count- just for tonight.

                                                                                 Photo by Bubbletea 1

Rather than a meal, I would like lots and lots of little bites. Tapas and more bubbly. Yep, all of it -a little bit of this and some of that. It is after all going to be a long evening of movie watching. And for dessert a mini lava cake- rich, gooey, and CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!! Best of all, I don’t cook any of it. All take out.

Now if you could see my living room, I have these sofas that you kind of sink into. Not only that, push a button and the bottom comes up so you can put your feet up, and not only that but push back just a little and you are nearly reclining. Now I am ready to watch a movie. For this evening I pick Mama Mia, fun, happy, beautiful scenery, love Abba…ahhhh perfect. And just in case I need a double feature, My Life in Ruins. (Hmmm, I am noticing undertones of travel in my choices. Gosh, I would love to go to Greece). Just love those romantic stories with a happy ending, don’t you?? And after the movie, food and bubbly, I think it is time to settle in for the night. Armed with a good book, my preference is historical romance like A Breath of Snow and Ashes, filled with adventure, time travel and a strong heroine or maybe something fanciful like Bella Tuscany, and snuggled in my bed with my down comforter pulled up to my chin, warm, cozy, sated by good food, comforted by the perfume of flowers and candles, and totally relaxed from my own little home getaway, I’ll just read until I fall asleep.

We all deserve a little relaxation and fun in our lives. It’s not always about going somewhere to have a good time and to rejuvenate our spirits. I sure would like to hear what you would dream up for your little getaway-at-home. Not just the ladies, but you gentlemen out there, too. And if you are a couple, wouldn’t it be fun for us to hear what you could come up with to beat those winter blues at home.

Travel Tip of the Week – Security in the Air

 Photo by Shoomeema 

I am sure by now that most of you have heard about the recent terrorist attempt on that incoming plane from Canada on Christmas. With that in mind airlines are taking a closer look and beefing up security with tighter checks for folks coming in to our airports and at other airports around the world. It is a pity that this is necessary, but that seems to be the times we are living in now.

If you are planning on doing any air travel this New Year and into 2010, there are certain areas where knowing what your responsibilities are will make it easier for you to travel.

You should be aware that:

  • Airports are now planning on buying a lot more full body scanners. There are already a few out there and I imagine it is going to take some time to get these in place. They are expensive and in time, these costs may filter down to the traveler, resulting in higher fees or taxes. These scanners are reported to be a revealing invasion of our privacy. But, on the other hand, it is also possible this device will show very clearly if any potentially dangerous items are concealed in any way in any place on or in the body. I do wonder about the safety of exposure to this equipment, though. TSA reports that they emit less energy than a cell phone. But for those who fear this exposure, a physical pat-down is supposed to be offered. I don’t know enough about these to make an educated comment. If any of you know about the safety aspect, I would sure like to hear what you know.
  • The no fly lists will be paid better attention. It should already be a common practice, but has apparently become lax.

 

Here are some tips about what we can do or expect as we get ready to travel be air:

  • Expect longer delays.
  • Expect an extra pat-down body search at the departure gate for transatlantic flights.
  • Expect to have all baggage checked.
  • Different airlines may have different regulations- call your airline for theirs.
  • One carry-on will be allowed like a purse, a diaper bag, an iPod or laptop ( check on rules for electronic devices to see if they are allowed on flights overseas. If allowed, there may be times they must be turned off.)
  • Liquid medications need special clearance. Check your airline for requirements.
  • Food that will be eaten immediately may be taken on board.
  • During last hour of travel, people will be asked to stay in their seats and will not be allowed to cover themselves with a blanket.

 

All of this may make you wonder if you should even travel.

Maybe we will just be safer and that is not a bad thing. On that closing thought, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and Happy and Safe Traveling.

     

A Healthy Traveler is a Happy Traveler

 healthy-004

It is the middle of flu season and you want to go on a trip. What is a person to do? How can you risk travel when germs are running amok for the next few months? Or you have just won a trip to a remote international destination-what happens if you get sick when you’re there, or better yet, how can you prevent getting sick in the first place?

 

Travelers often find themselves worrying about heath issues surrounding travel. So, are there just some basic rules or tips to stay healthy during travel ?

 

 While this list seems long and maybe even a little daunting, you know what they say about an ounce of prevention. Here are some basic preventative things I have learned from experience or from other travelers that you most likely know but that bear repeating. Hopefully, some of these will remind you of a few things that may make sense for you to make your travel a little more comfortable and healthy.  I am not a medical person, so if you are geting ready to embark on a trip, I ask that you check in with your physician for medical advice.

 

Granted one of the biggest cesspools of germs would likely be in a contained place where the air isn’t exchanged –like an airplane. There you are seated next to a sneezy, coughy, drippy nosed passenger. How do you protect yourself?

 

When you know you are going on a trip, start preparing weeks-even a month in some cases- ahead of time. Plan on getting plenty of rest and make sure to take your vitamins, especially vitamin C. It might be worth a quick trip or call to your doctor if you have any conditions that need some special attention – if you are pregnant, elderly with blood clotting problems, heart or respiratory conditions, or have had a recent surgery – just to make sure you are cleared for travel. Ask if there are any other medications you might need for your particular destination. Most likely, there will be no issues, but the doctor might offer you some preventative measures that would be helpful.

 

During your flight stay hydrated with water. Believe it or not, it is said that staying hydrated will even help with jet lag. Better to skip the alcohol and watch the caffeine in coffee or sodas. Make sure to wash you hands often or use a hand sanitizer. This is good advice always, not just on planes. When you can, request an aisle seat so that you can stretch those legs and even get up to walk a bit when possible. If it is not possible to sit on an aisle, try not to cross your legs and try to do some stretches. Same goes for a bus or a train. This is especially important on long flights to keep your blood circulating.

 

If your ears seem to “pop” when you are taking off or landing due to changing altitudes, try to yawn or chew some gum.

 

Make sure your immunizations are current during the flu season especially. If you are seated in proximity to someone who is obviously or potentially infected with something contagious, request to be moved at least a few rows away to minimize your risk of contracting their illness.

 

For comforts sake wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes and use a nice lotion to keep your skin from getting too dry. Those who wear contact lens might want to pack them and use eyeglasses on the flight.

 

Some final thoughts. If you do take prescription medications, pack them in your carry on bag to insure that you would have them handy should your luggage be waylaid. Make sure you take enough to last for the whole trip. You might also want to take along a copy of the prescription just in case. Anyone with a condition that could flair up while away should think about including that information on you person should an emergency arise. If you have health insurance, check in with them to see if they will cover you abroad. If they don’t you may want to plan for how you would get some coverage while you are away. Lastly, if you are leaving the little ones behind, make sure you leave all of your contact information. On a trip I took when Jenn was just a toddler, I left a medical power of attorney with my parents just in case, along with the phone numbers and directions for the pediatrician and hospital.

 

I suggest that you check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link before you travel to international places to get information of required vaccinations and other really useful and important information.  I just heard on ABC World News today that some highly populated places like Tokyo require travelers to bring with them a document proving they are in good health to enter as worries of the Swine Flu spread. 

 

Once you have thought through these precautionary tips, you can rest easy and travel knowing that you are well prepared to have a worry free and healthy trip!

 

Save Money and Have Fun Vacationing in an RV

I have been trying to think of ways to take a trip while at the same time making it affordable. One of the kinds of trips that I have thought about off and on for years is taking a family road trip in an RV. There is something about the kind of freedom that I imagine for this type of a getaway that is somehow so appealing. Just take off and keep on going down the road to where it leads sounds like great fun .

So many of the usual aspects of going on a trip like buying plane tickets or renting a car, making hotel reservations and then standing in check-in lines when you get there, losing or even packing luggage are gone. Doesn’t that sound so carefree!!!

I actually work with a colleague who owns an RV. He and his wife sold their home and bought a very nice RV that they live and travel in. When there is a threat of a tropical storm here in Florida, they pull up stakes and move to dry land. But the neat thing is that each year, they take off for two to three months just touring around where ever they please. And they never have to pack!!!

While I don’t think I could really live in an RV as my only home, I wonder how it might be to take a cross country trip in one. One the one hand, you can start and stop most any time without too much worry as to when the next hotel might show up. Or perhaps, you might want to linger a little longer at a fun place. No worries. You don’t need to worry about late check ins or having your reservation released if you are too late getting there.

Then too, cooking your own HEALTHY meals and snacks, stopping for breaks at any rest stop, would save time and money. Plus you never have to wait in line to get in to a restaurant. There are so many special RV campgrounds all over the place now that have nice amenities like swimming pools and rec rooms. A good source for these would be the free tour books AAA members have access to. Just last weekend as I was driving up to St. Augustine to visit my daughter Jenn and son-in-law Roberto, I must have past five of six RV RESORTS for travelers and campers who just might want to stop there for a few days.

But I have even seen RV’s camped out of all places even in Walmart parking lots!  One time I even saw one that had its awning out.  I am not saying that this is the norm and I have no idea what Walmart’ s policy is on this.  I am only speaking from personal observation.  Guess you can’t beat having a super discount grocery store right outside your door though.

There is a travel group in one of the over 55 communities nearby that  all have RV’s. They picked a leader to organize their stops and route much like the horse and wagon caravans that traveled in groups when heading west. At least that is the mental image I got!!  They reported that a good time was had by all.

While it looks like this might be a great way to travel, I also, wonder if, in the long run, it costs more or less to vacation in an RV. Gas, tolls, wear and tear of driving a big RV on the driver vs travel in a plane, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. The claims are that a family of four traveling this way could save over 50% when compared to a traditional vacation.

Which way is best all around – I wonder. Maybe it might be worth a try just to experience a vacation in an RV. I don’t figure this would be for everyone, but if you don’t mind doing the driving or keeping it casual, it might be a nice change of pace.

I would be interested in your opinion. Anyone out there ever vacation in an RV?  I would love to hear if you would recommend this as a cost saving option for traveling and if you had a good time.

Hi All!

Here is an article I wrote for my other blog, LeftoverQueen.com, however, I feel it is relevant material for this blog as well, since it features many local St. Augustine vendors. Hope you enjoy!

jenn_roberto_writing_in_sand.jpg

I am talking about this post of course. It could be taken the other way too. We are not “old” but we are not kids anymore either, so I guess you can take it however you like it! ;)

However, the point is that we are in our second month of marriage (celebrating 2 months on Thursday) and I am just now getting around to posting about the wedding. It took us a while to get our photos, due to technical difficulties and then there was so much catching up to do when we returned. So sorry it’s late, but here it is! I already gave you a look at the honeymoon, but now it is time to write the story of our wedding day and all the wonderful vendors that helped us to make the day even more special. Plus, I know you are all dying to hear about the food and the cake.

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I know everyone says this, but we had the best wedding ever. It was small and nearly everyone that we are close to was there to spend the weekend with us – Roberto’s mom, all of my parents, Roberto’s daughters, Gwen and Rachel, my best friend Jen and her family, and several other relatives and close friends. Just having all the people we love surrounding us, made it an amazing day.

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We were married early in the day, so we opted to have a Brunch for our reception. I have always loved brunch – there is something just so classic about it, not to mention very budget friendly.

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Since we had a small guest list, we were able to procure a beautiful Spanish style restaurant to host it. Saint Augustine, FL is well known for its Spanish history. Although it was held by the British as well, before the Americans, it is the Spanish who will forever be associated with the place. You can see this influence reflected in the architecture all over town, as well as the street names. It is such a beautiful place. When you are coming over the bridge from the beach into downtown, if it weren’t for the American flag, you would think you were in Spain.
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