My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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Entries in Florida (16)


Thanksgiving Getaway to Ft. Lauderdale

This year our Thanksgiving plans fell through at the last minute so instead of staying home Frank and I decided to take a quick trip somewhere. In picking a spot we had two criteria: 1) someplace warm and 2) somewhere that we could get inexpensive flights. I dug around a bit and found a great deal on flights from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale so off we went for a three day trip.

I found a good deal at the W Hotel so we stayed there for our trip. The hotel was beautiful and modern looking inside and out. Getting mimosas at check-in was a nice touch as well.

Our room was pretty with a clean, streamlined look including a nice little seating area.

The best part of the room by far was our balcony with the amazing views. It was spectacular.

The purpose of this trip was to relax, not sightsee so I decided to book a mani/pedi at Bliss Spa in the hotel. It was a nice way to start our trip.

While in town we enjoyed some great food at restaurants within walking distance of the W. For one of breakfasts we walked south to St. Barts Coffee Company. I enjoyed some delicious croissant french toast while Frank had an omelette. The food was inexpensive and the service was fast making it a good breakfast stop.

Another day we headed to H2O Café for brunch which had a nice outdoor seating area with ocean views. The food (blueberry waffles for me, an omelette for Frank) was good, but the best part was definitely the view.

We had a fabulous lunch at S3, which was conveniently located next door.

For out Thanksgiving dinner we ate at Steak 954, splurging on the amazing seafood platter. The meal was so fantastic I didn't mind not eating a traditional turkey dinner.

The boardwalk and beach along the strip where our hotel was located was really pretty and we enjoyed several lovely strolls. We were lucky to have gorgeous weather and didn't miss the cold back home one bit.

We spent a good bit of time relaxing at the pool, soaking up the sun and reading. The weather was really beautiful.

One of the neat things about the pool was the passageway that lead down a flight of stairs through the pool into the lobby. It was a really cool, unique feature.

We also enjoyed some beautiful sunset views. The beach was to the east, but to the west over the Intracoastal Waterway the sunset was quite lovely.

Our impromptu trip may have been short, but it was very relaxing and it was so nice to escape the cold Ann Arbor weather for a few days. It definitely wasn't a traditional Thanksgiving but it was a nice escape for us.


10 Pictures From Fort Myers in March 2014

Frank and me on the Fishing Pier at Fort Myers Beach

This winter was a tough, long one for us in Ann Arbor. We did escape the polar vortex for a long weekend in Florida to visit my grandparents and also stop in Fort Myers where Frank used to visit every spring with his family when he was growing up.

View of Matanzas Pass Bridge from Nervous Nellie's

Although the restaurant that Frank would often grab clam chowder for lunch when he was a kid was gone, another restaurant was in that spot and we stopped there for the largest lobster rolls I've ever seen and a beautiful view of Matanzas Pass Bridge.

Lobster Roll at Nervous Nellie's

After lunch, which was on the harbor side, we walked down Old San Carlos Boulevard toward the Gulf, passing through the little shopping area known as Times Square.

Clock tower at Fort Myers Beach's Time Square

Being a beautiful weekend the beach was packed with people enjoying the sun and water.

Colorful beach umbrellas along Fort Myers Beach

Frank and I walked out on the Fishing Pier for a lovely view back at the beach and a few sea birds as well.

Pelicans on the Fishing Pier at Fort Myers Beach

View looking back at the beach from the Fort Myers Beach Fishing Pier

That afternoon we drove past the house that Frank's grandmother once owned. It was only two blocks from the Caloosahatchee River and every night when they were visiting her they would walk to the river to watch the sunset.

Looking across the Caloosahatchee River

We spent the next morning on Sanibel Island and headed back to Fort Myers in the afternoon. When we drove down McGregor Boulevard with its impressive palm trees flanking each side, Frank told me that when he was little seeing those palm trees meant he was almost to his grandma's house.

Palm trees lining McGregor Boulevard

Our last stop in Fort Myers was downtown where we grabbed lunch at a great deli and walked around a bit admiring the Art Deco buildings before our flight home.

Art deco building in Downtown Fort Myers

Although we weren't in Fort Myers very long it was great to see some of the places that were part of Frank's childhood, plus escaping from the snow didn't hurt, either!


Sanibel Island Lighthouse Beach

While Frank and I were in Florida this past weekend we stayed at a hotel in Punta Rassa with a view from our room looking out over the Sanibel Causeway and Sanibel Island. Being so close we decided we had to visit the island for a bit and headed over on Monday morning.

We grabbed a quick, delicious breakfast at Over Easy Cafe (Frank got the Crab and Asparagus Omelet and I got the Sanibel Shrimp Benedict with Grits) and then drove out to Sanibel Island Lighthouse Beach. From the parking lot we walked out to the lighthouse on a trail over a wooden boardwalk.

The lighthouse was built of iron in 1884 with a central cylinder tower surrounded by an open skeletal structure. The design was thought to be able to withstand hurricanes by allowing the high winds to pass through. In 1949 the lighthouse was automated and then electrified with the lens replaced in 1962. The 98 foot tall lighthouse is still operational today, flashing a white light.

Walking along the white sand beach we had a lovely view across the water of Fort Myers with Bonita Springs and Naples in the distance. Prior to a causeway being built in 1963 the only access to the island was by boat or ferry. The current causeway linking the island to mainland Florida was built in 2007 as a replacement to the original.

One of the neat things about visiting the beach was the abundance of birds walking along the shoreline and roosting in the nearby trees.

Rounding the point we came across the T-shaped fishing pier. The pier was packed with people fishing and by the looks of things many of them were having quite a bit of success with their catches. We walked out on the pier for a pretty look back at the island and lighthouse before walking back to our car.

We had a lovely morning at Sanibel Island Lighthouse Beach which wasn't hurt at all by the perfect weather and sunshine. My only regret is that we didn't have more time to relax there.

To get to Sanibel Island Lighthouse Beach from Fort Myers take the Sanibel Causeway to Sanibel Island and head east on Periwinkle Way until you reach the end of the road. At the time of this writing parking is $2 per hour and the cost to cross the causeway is $6.


Picture of the Day: Sunset on Treasure Island

Treasure Island, Florida


Picture of the Day: Seagulls at Sunset on Treasure Island




















Treasure Island, Florida


Picture of the Day: Seagulls at Sunset



















Treasure Island, Florida


Good Eats Around Treasure Island

When Frank and I headed to Florida for the Outback Bowl we only had two days to relax which we spent on Treasure Island. After our hectic drive down we were in the mood to sleep in and then lounge on the beach. Although we weren't very active over those two days we did leave our beach chairs to eat some great food. I thought I would share a few of our favorite places that we would recommend if you find yourself in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.

Lisa's Cafe
13331 Gulf Boulevard, Madeira Beach, Florida

First up is Lisa's Cafe where we went to breakfast. Located in a small, unassuming green building the food was fantastic and the owner, Lisa, was a wonderfully friendly hostess. I also can't help but think that she has an awesome name.

I decided to order the bananas foster French toast which was out of this world. The pictures don't do it justice, but the slices of bread were almost as big as my head. The bananas foster topping was delicious and it was like eating dessert for breakfast. 

Frank had corned beef hash with scrambled eggs and grits. The portion of the hash wasn't the biggest but it was almost all corned beef and delicious.

We also couldn't resist splitting an order of biscuits and gravy and I am so glad that we did because it was one of the best sausage gravies that we ever ate. The gravy had sage in it which leant it a little bit of sweetness to offset the savory sausage. When we commented on how much we loved the gravy it turned out that Lisa herself made it. Delicious!

We had a wonderful breakfast at Lisa's Cafe and would definitely recommend it. They also serve lunch and dinner and the menus for those meals looked delicious even though we didn't have a chance to try it. Hopefully we can on some other trip!

Ted Peter's Famous Smoked Fish
1350 Pasadena Avenue South, South Pasadena, Florida

Frank and I stopped at Ted Peter's Famous Smoked Fish for a late lunch/early dinner one day. Opened in 1951, the roadside restaurant has a wonderful vintage vibe. We ate at shaded picnic tables, enjoying the warm weather with the wonderful smell of the nearby smoker in the air. 

We were starving so we decided to start with a smoked fish spread dish with saltines. It was awesome and we agreed that if we lived in the are we would be bringing home take out containers of the fish spread every week.

Frank also tried the Manhattan chowder which was homemade and delicious.

With so much food, I decided to get a smoked mullet luncheon platter that didn't have any sides. Mullet has a lot of bones, but I have a lot of practice deboning fish from living in Japan so that didn't deter me. It was worth the small extra effort as the mullet had a wonderful flavor.

Frank ordered the mackerel smoked fish dinner which included cole slaw and German potato salad as sides. The mackerel was fantastic and so were the sides, especially the potato salad. Amazing! 

We loved Ted Peter's and if we lived in the area we know we would be regulars. There are two things to note if you head over there. First, they only take cash so be prepared to have some on you before you go. Secondly, they close at 7:30 pm so if you want to grab dinner there, make sure to go early. You won't be disappointed!


The Floridian
230 107th Avenue, Treasure Island, Florida

Being in Florida Frank and I had to grab Cuban sandwiches for lunch one day so we decided to try out the Floridian, located in a bright, cheerful building. The restaurant was bustling at lunch but after ordering at the register it didn't take too long to for our food to arrive at our table.

I got a combo with half a Cuban sandwich and a bowl of Floridian bean soup. My sandwich was loaded with meat and the bread was great. I also really enjoyed the soup which was tasty and hearty.

Frank got a spiced pork sandwich and a bag of plantanos chips. Delicious!

We also couldn't resist sharing a side of rice and beans (awesome!) and a "Tampa style" devil crab, deep fried dough roll with blue crab inside. The devil crab was tasty and reminded me a little bit of a Brazillian coxinha, but with crab instead of chicken.

The food was great at the Floridian making for a wonderful lunch. It's no wonder that the St. Petersburg Times rated it as having Tampa Bay's best Cuban sandwich!


Happy New Year's Eve From Florida!

Frank and I are back in Florida. We were on Amelia Island just three weeks ago for Cindy's wedding and now we are in the Tampa Bay area (Treasure Island) to see Michigan play in the Outback Bowl. 

Our trip down here was fraught with delays. Our original game plan was to leave Friday morning at 7:00 a.m., pick up some friends in Columbus and then get to Treasure Island around 1:00 a.m. That did not exactly work out to plan.

First, our friends in Columbus had their holiday flight cancelled and had to be rebooked so we couldn't pick them up at the original time so we had to delay our departure time to 11:00 a.m. We were then plagued with a traffic jam that kept us a dead standstill which turned a normally three hour drive to Columbus into a five hour journey. After picking up our friends we then were hit with terrible weather and more traffic jams. After reaching Georgia at 1:00 in the morning it was raining with strong wind and near zero visibility so we decided to get a hotel and continue the next day.

On Saturday the weather was better but we had such bad traffic that we didn't get to Treasure Island until 6:00 that night despite leaving at 8:00 in the morning. All in all, what should have taken 18 hours of driving turned into 24 hours. Needless to say we were exhausted by the time we arrived and ended up sleeping in and relaxing all day yesterday. We spent some time reading and napping on the beach, ate some good food, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

The weather here was a little chilly for Florida yesterday, but absolutely lovely today and no matter what I am glad to not be dealing with the snow back home right now. Tonight we are changing hotels to be closer to the stadium for the bowl game and then hopefully Michigan beats South Carolina tomorrow.

I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely last day of 2012. What are you doing to ring in the New Year?


Beautiful Details from Cindy's Wedding

This past weekend I went to Amelia Island in Florida to join Frank in going to the wedding of one of his college friend's, Cindy. The whole wedding weekend was full of beautiful special touches and I thought that I would share a few of them here.

On Friday night Mike and Cindy hosted an amazing rehearsal dinner. The food was wonderful but the highlight for me was the s'mores. They had wrapped up graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows in little cellophane bags and tied them closed with baker's twine and a cute little tag that read "S'mores, Y'all." There were Adirondack chairs set out around fire pits outside and you could relax, toast your marshmallows and make some s'mores. It was really a wonderful and fun idea.

On the morning of the wedding Cindy had arranged a trolley tour for the guests. The trolleys were really cute and decorated for the holiday season. We went to historic Fernandina Beach and the trolley driver explained all sorts of interesting facts about the town and its history. We then had two hours to walk around the town and grab some lunch before heading back to the hotel.

The wedding location was beautiful, set on the lawn in front of the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island overlooking the sand dunes and the ocean. It was a foggy day which made for a romantic ambience. As an added touch Cindy thoughtfully provided pashmina wraps with the programs for the ladies since it was a little chilly outside. Cindy's dress was amazing and she looked like a princess. The ceremony was truly lovely, with adorable flower girls and ring bearers and touching readings. Cindy and Mike looked truly gorgeous and happy together.

After the ceremony was a wonderful cocktail hour. At the tables around the outside bar Cindy had set out these really neat butterfly jars which tied into the ceremony. They looked real and the butterflies inside would flit around every once in a while making it really believable, but they were actually battery operated with super thin wires and a battery under the lid of the mason jar. They looked lovely and definitely had us fooled for a while into thinking they were real.

Inside at the cocktail hour they had a lady who was hand rolling cigars for the wedding guests. It was really cool to watch her process as she worked.

There was also a fun photo booth set up with a variety of silly props like big glasses, colorful bowties and fake mustaches. It would take four pictures and print out for the guests with the wedding information along the bottom.

At the reception the table settings were lovely. I especially liked the purple jewel toned water glasses which were a unique touch.

For dessert, there were the most amazing cupcakes. I thought it was neat that they were offered in both full and mini sized in case you wanted just a bite. The red velvet with cream cheese frosting one was really quite amazing.

At the end of the evening we all went outside and were given long sparklers. We lit them and made a tunnel of light for Cindy and Mike to run through as they left the reception. It was really beautiful and a fun way to send them off.

Frank and I had such a wonderful time at Cindy and Mike's wedding. It was fun to catch up with several of Frank's college friends and be a part of Cindy and Mike's special day. I'm sure that the two of them will be blessed with a long and happy life together. Congratulations, Cindy and Mike!


Picture of the Day: The Shore at Amelia Island

Amelia Island, Florida