Rainy Day Adventures: Downtown DeLand & Museum of Art

Why let a rainy day stop us from having a good time? For months, my friend and I have been looking forward to visiting Bok Towers for the Christmas tour of Pinewood Estates (read about our summer visit here), but when we checked the forecast this morning, we realized that a nearly 2-hour drive to a botanical garden was probably not the best idea for the day. Instead, we decided to stick a little closer to home with a trip to Downtown DeLand.

Your Guide to a Day in Downtown DeLand

I’m a huge fan of historic downtowns, and DeLand’s historic district does not disappoint. From fun shopping to local eateries, Downtown DeLand is the perfect stop for a weekend adventure.

We kicked off our visit with brunch at a little bistro called Byte. The breakfast sandwich was a delicious pick-me-up to start the day. The restaurant also offers a bottomless bloody Mary and mimosa bar for those wanting to experience a more boozy brunch. After our meal, we wandered over to the Museum of Art.

Your Guide to a Day in Downtown DeLand

For just $5 each, we received admission to the museum’s downtown campus, as well as access to their main campus within the next three days. Exhibits change every three months, but we arrived just in time for the Barbara Neijna Full Circle: Considering Infinity exhibit. Spanning across three galleries, Neijna’s art utilizes mixed media and explores the idea of infinity through its many circles. Although the museum was small, the galleries were well worth the visit.

Your Guide to a Day in Downtown DeLand

After exploring the museum, it was time to do a little shopping. Downtown DeLand is known for its antique shops, so a must-visit for any shopper on a rainy day is Marketplace at Rivertown. This three-story, multi-dealer antique market sells a variety of antique and vintage products, from furniture to artwork to jewelry to clothing. I’ve purchased a few unique gifts here before, and you can find some great stuff if you’re willing to look around.

Your Guide to a Day in Downtown DeLand

We also stopped by The Muse Book Shop next door, where I ended up purchasing a book of poetry. On the second Wednesday of the month, they host a Wine, Women, and Chocolate event, which I’ll definitely need to attend in the future. The shop offers used books in just about every genre, and includes an entire room dedicated to Florida.

Your Guide to a Day in Downtown DeLand

The day ended with a trip to Pat & Toni’s Sweet Things for a sugar fix. (Hey, I’m not starting my Whole30 until after the holidays, right?) 🙂 I indulged in a chocolate-covered s’more (yum!), while my friend Carrie enjoyed a classic butter pecan ice cream cone. The shop is filled with chocolate, fudge, ice cream, and other candies – perfect gift items for anyone in your life with a sweet tooth!

Your Guide to a Day in Downtown DeLand

The weather may have toggled between overcast and rainy, but we still ended up having a great time exploring Downtown DeLand while sticking to mainly indoor activities. If you’re looking for a fun new neighborhood to explore, take the trip to DeLand and see it for yourself!

For other art museums and galleries in Central Florida to explore on a rainy day, check out my local art guide here!

Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

 Well, readers, it’s official: the holiday season is here. My fall seasonal décor has been stowed away in exchange for reindeer, mini-trees, and an electronic menorah. My next few weekends are packed with Christmas parties and Secret Santa exchanges. And in just a few hours, I’ll pop a few latkes on the stove in celebration of the first night of Hanukkah.

As someone who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, I usually have my hands full when it comes to holiday shopping. Luckily, there are a lot of great places right here in Central Florida where you can pick up unique gifts while supporting local businesses. Check out a few of my suggested shops and markets, and please share yours in the comments below. (For additional guidance on gift giving, check out a couple of my previous guides here and here.)

Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

1. Magpies Modern General Store (Sanford, FL)
Located on 1st Street in Historic Downtown Sanford, Magpies Modern General Store is the perfect place to begin your holiday shopping. From artisan soaps to housewares and more, Magpies is filled with fun stocking stuffers that are often locally sourced and eclectic. I love to pick up birthday presents here as well!

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2. AntiquiTEAs (Winter Garden, FL)
If you’re a tea lover like me, you’ll fall in love with AntiquiTEAs, a loose tea shop in Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market. As I mentioned in last year’s holiday post, the watermelon oolong is a flavor not to be missed. The shop also hosts private tea parties for special occasions (including my 27th birthday party!), working with other Plant Street Market vendors to create the perfect celebration.

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Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

3. Rifle Paper Co. (Winter Park, FL)
Rifle Paper Co. is known for its fun and vibrant prints, from stationery to tea towels to home décor. This Winter Park shop is located not far from Park Avenue, and hosts seasonal sidewalk sales that will be sure to draw you in. For the ladies in your life, consider purchasing a Jardin de Paris candle — the scent is absolutely dreamy. It will be hard to walk in and not buy a little something for yourself as well!

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4. Light Up UCF Holiday Market (Orlando, FL)
On December 8 and December 21, Light Up UCF will host its Holiday Market Under the Stars, sponsored by CFE Federal Credit Union. Local vendors will set up, farmers market style, outside the holiday-themed event at the CFE Arena at UCF. It will be the perfect opportunity to shop for locally-crafted gifts, while enjoying ice skating, a Ferris wheel, carriage rides, and more.

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Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

5. Wondermade (Sanford, FL)
Handcrafted marshmallows? Yes, please! Sanford’s Wondermade is home to a variety of marshmallow flavors, s’mores, and other themed gifts. In addition to purchasing a box, why not schedule a marshmallow-making class for you and your gift recipient? If you live in Central Florida, these classes are an awesome way to spend a Friday night or Saturday afternoon!

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6. Porch Therapy (Orlando, FL)
When shopping for the plant lover in your life, be sure to check out Porch Therapy at the East End Market in Orlando. The shop offers a multitude of plant varieties, but my favorites by far are their succulents. Be sure to check them out, then grab a smoothie at the neighboring Skyebird Juice Bar.

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Shop Local: 8 Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts in Central Florida

7. Orchid Rain (DeLand, FL)
My family and I stumbled upon this little shop in Downtown DeLand on my birthday this year, and were immediately drawn in. With a Volkswagen beetle right in the front of the store, Orchid Rain has a fun retro feel. From jewelry and sunglasses to furniture and housewares, this store is the perfect place to shop for your creative friends. My favorite find? The pocket-sized Buddhas, each representing a different intention (mine is “happiness”). Afterward, take a walk down Woodland Boulevard for some antique-shopping and a bite to eat.

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8. Antidote Apothecary & Spa (Sanford, FL)
When in doubt, give the gift of a pampering session! Antidote Apothecary & Spa in Downtown Sanford offers holistic, cruelty-free spa services that your friends and family will love. Check out my recap on their salt therapy appointments here, or consider one of their massages, facials, energy work, or other services.

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Where are you shopping locally for holiday gifts this year? Sound off in the comments!

Why Everything Looks Better in Black and White

“We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.” – Lynn Hall

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As I sit at my desk wearing my old middle school cheerleading shirt and listening to K-Ci & Jojo, I feel like I’ve been transported to a time that has since become a series of distant memories. Maybe there’s a reason I’ve let these memories gather so much dust; any time someone mentions sixth through eighth grade, I dismiss them with a quick “Those were the worst years of my life,” and then move on to the next topic.

And yet, there are certain aspects of those three years that give me that warm fuzzy feeling. Ask me about my favorite Halloween nights and you will learn that two of them took place when I was a tween (which wasn’t what we called ourselves back in the day, but I digress). Play I’d Do Anything by Simple Plan for me and I will go on and on about the concert I almost attended just to hear that song live, then tell you about the boy that sixth-grade-Val used to associate the song with. Mention the band Something Corporate to me, and I’ll tell you all about the friend who overheard me proclaiming my love for Andrew McMahon in eighth grade and then gave me his copy of Leaving through the Window.

The point is, as horrible as I made those years out to be, I still have been able to look back on a lot of it with a smile. When someone brings up an interest or hobby I had when I was younger, even if it’s something I have since grown out of, I’m reminded mostly of the good feelings those elements gave me. Even when something led to a not-so-fond memory, the nostalgia itself can be just enough.

It all reminds me of something my Advertising professor told us last spring: we tend to react well to the things that remind us of our past. It’s the very reason why my old mentor brought us Gushers and gummy worms as snacks during my freshman year of college, and the same reason why twenty-something-year-old girls still occasionally listen to the Spice Girls. Regardless of what was going on in our lives ten or fifteen years ago, we generally conclude that it was a much simpler time than the one we are currently in.

Therefore, everything looks better in black and white (and sometimes sepia) because those colors give everything a vintage feel. We like to romanticize the past, even if it had its darker moments. — Tweet this!

However, sometimes I don’t think we cherish the present enough. Regardless of how artistic a black-and-white photograph may look, just think of the beautiful splash of colors in any given “present” picture, and remember that while nostalgia is great, too much focus on the past will leave you stuck there.

The Friday Five: Old Fads That Should Never See The Light of Day

Every fashion season has its ups and downs. As we make our way through each decade, we create trends in hair, clothing, accessories and makeup that our generation will one day be known for — either because they were innovative and versatile, or because they were downright heinous (What were we thinking?). Depending on where these styles go in the future, we will either be wearing them as vintage-chic or as over-the-top costume contest material (here’s looking at you, 1980’s!).

Today’s Friday Five celebrates the latter of those two categories — those fashion statements that should never, ever be repeated, but rather kept hidden in the back of one’s closet. It might not hurt to burn any photo evidence of these haircuts and outfits, as well! 🙂

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The Friday Five: Old Fads That Should Never See The Light of Day

1. Pleather pants.

Very 1999-2001. Why did we think these were cute again? I had a pair of pleather bell-bottoms that I was in love with, back in fourth grade, and nowadays I can’t for the life of me remember why. These days, leather pants are really only acceptable for Grease reenactments (tell me about it, stud!), so why would pleather be any different? Such pants come in all different colors and fits, but they hardly match anything you could go out in public with. The solution to this? Leave pleather back in the past where it belongs!

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2. The Saleisha.

This hairstyle, reminiscent of the shape of a coconut, is named (by me) after Saleisha Stowers, the winner of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 9. Obviously inspired by Johnny Depp’s role as Willy Wonka, the Saleisha convinces girls that in order to look edgy and high-fashion, all you need is an awkward haircut — more importantly, awkward bangs. It doesn’t matter the shape of your face or the texture of your hair; so long as you have bangs, people will think you’re glamorous. Around this time period, every girl at my high school seemed to be following a similar style for that exact reason. Even if the girl looked better with a side part or with her hair slicked back, she would chop her bangs to an even (yet awkward) length, because awkward was the new trendy. I’m not saying that all bangs look bad, but let’s bury the notion that bangs will make you overall much more attractive. Also, nobody should ever have this haircut.

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3. Mom jeans.

This one pretty much speaks for itself. When your pants are so high-waisted that you have to tuck your bra into them, it’s probably time to reconsider your wardrobe. Women have been guilty of this “fashion statement” for the last twenty years at least, and not all of them are even mothers! Mom jeans may be comfortable, but at what cost? They make your stomach and hips look infinitely larger, and make you look thirty years older. In order to avoid such a fate and to age gracefully instead, stick to somewhat form-fitting jeans with a more reasonable waist, and if you’re seriously concerned about discomfort, go for the stretch jeans.

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4. Short shorts.

Oh, boys, you didn’t think I forgot about you, right? 🙂 We’ve all seen those men in too-short shorts (generally above the mid-thigh) and can probably agree that such sights have been both amusing and slightly disturbing. If your athletic uniform doesn’t call for a particular length of shorts, you are better off covering up a little bit more… you don’t want this to be your future! Meanwhile, some students at the University of Georgia actually seem to have an issue with this little trend, since it seems to represent more than just creepiness but is apparently also one of the signs of being a complete tool. Okay, so maybe girls shouldn’t wear entirely too-short shorts either if they want to look classy, but it still seems to be much more socially acceptable than boys who wear short shorts.

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5. Parachute pants.

Although this trend is iconic of the 80’s and brings back memories of M.C. Hammer, it should probably not be repeated in the future. If you aren’t completely blinded by the shine of these pants, you may be at risk for other problems, including tripping over your pants and becoming a social pariah. Of course, like many old fads, this one seems to be coming back — this time, in the form of Blake Lively, but I don’t think even she can salvage such a look. Don’t be surprised if those pants reappear in a future episode of Gossip Girl — or if they’re the subject of controversy!

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My question for all of you: is there a trend that you would like to disappear? What are your thoughts on today’s fashion in comparison?