Florida living

I’ve been meaning to write for so long, and as always, there’s just been so much going on that my writing got pushed to the back burner. In the past few months, a lot has happened, and I couldn’t be happier with how my year finished.

Garden color

In November, I worked a lot of overtime, but still made time to explore all of the beautiful places in my new home. I watched sunsets from the nearby beach, went on bike rides around my neighborhood, hiked around a nearby nature preserve and botanical gardens, and spent all of my non-working hours in amazement at how wonderful Florida life can be.

Bike ride adventure

Palma Sola Botanical Gardens

 

Bike ride adventure

Robinson Preserve

Of course, it wasn’t all about being out exploring the whole time. As always, the people are part of what has made being in this place so great. I loved the time I got to spend with my grandparents, who live down here part-time. I’ve met a ton of awesome people, and I’ve had so many small-world encounters–I can’t believe the amount of former Ohioans down here who knew exactly where my obscure little home village is!

One more thing that took up a lot of my time in the last few months has been cooking and baking. It didn’t take long for me to get back into the swing of things after a year with no kitchen. Many successful experiments have taken place as I’ve tried my hand at cooking some of the scrumptious meals we had in Indonesia. I’ve learned to cook with seitan and tempeh, and I’m way more interested in veggies than I was before living in Asia for a year. I’ve also perfected my vegan baking skills. Cupcakes, peppermint brownies, gingerbread cookies–you name it, I can bake it from scratch!

Black bean burgers

Thai basil stirfry

Seitan noodle soup

Protein Power Meal

My enthusiasm for all things Florida carried over into December, and I managed to stray further from home, as Josh and I started the month with a trip to Disney. Since we were still saving up for season passes to the parks, we just wandered around all the resorts and marveled at the Christmas decorations, which were phenomenal.

Disney's Boardwalk at Christmas

Disney's Boardwalk at Christmas

I loved being in America for the holiday season after spending last Christmas in Indonesia. I was worried that it wouldn’t be the same down here in Florida, since I’m used to cold Ohio winters, but the festivities down here did not disappoint. My December passed in a blur of palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights and shops filled with goodies like flamingo ornaments, figurines of Santa relaxing on the beach, and beachy holiday artwork.

All of a sudden, it was just days before Christmas, and I was on my way to Orlando to meet my family member who were visiting from Alabama. We had a blast at Universal Studios, which was a first for all of us (we’ve always been a Disney family!). I particularly loved the Harry Potter sections of the parks, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up during the ride through Hogwarts that brought my entire childhood to life.

Universal's Islands of Adventure

Diagon Alley

Lake Bryan

Universal Studios

It was wonderful to be reunited with my family. My siblings and I quickly remembered our old inside jokes together and made plenty of new memories. After Orlando, they all came down to Bradenton, where we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together before they had to go home.

The holidays being finished, it was time for Josh and me to get ready for our move into somewhere a little more permanent. Equipped with an adorable new car that we had been saving up for, we moved our belongings into a place that is even more perfect than where we were before. I’m writing this post from a nice desk in my new workspace, and I think I’ll be doing a lot more of that in the coming weeks.

While unpacking, I found my stash of travel journals, ticket stubs, receipts, brochures, postcards, and all the other knick-knacks and mementos that have remained untouched since I arrived in Bradenton. Though I’m perfectly happy being settled down in one place, I can’t wait to re-discover the amazing places I visited as I sort through the scribbles of my travel notes and reformulate them into stories to share on here.

Needless to say, this time it won’t be 2 more months until you hear from me again!

Love, Elizabeth