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Trying Three New Things in Orlando

{Note about the blog: I experienced some issues this morning and had to revert to a backup from yesterday morning, so this is actually my second time posting this post. Plus, I lost my post from yesterday, which will be coming back up later. Sorry if you commented in between yesterday morning to this morning and it’s now lost!!}

Hello and happy Tuesday.

This is my attempt to take the focus away from any blog-related problems I’ve been having because that’s so boring. Instead today I want to talk about my new stomping grounds and the fact that I was able to visit three new places this past week. The neat thing is that they’re all completely different and that going to them makes me still feel like a tourist. I told Tyler that the defining moment of when I won’t feel like one anymore is when I won’t have to depend on GPS to take me somewhere. Let’s just assume that, that won’t be happening anytime soon. I can barely learn the highways, let alone understand which direction they run. This also means I’ll probably keep enjoying the tourist attractions while figuring out where all the locals hang out.

I wanted to showcase each new place I visited in order of appearance, so let’s first rewind to Thursday morning.

1. Brook Hollow Farm

A friend invited me to go strawberry picking at a farm located not too far from us: Brook Hollow Farm. The cool thing about this farm is that it’s actually a hydroponic farm. What this means is that they’re able to deliver the right amount of nutrients to the strawberries every day because the strawberries are actually not planted in the dirt. The set up looks like this:

The strawberries grow instead in a mixture of Vermiculite and Pearlite, which are both natural resources. And because there is no soil, there’s no reliance on pesticides, so they pride themselves in using only organic products, which leads to delicious and safe fruit.

You actually take scissors with you when you go picking and cut the strawberries off the stems leaving some still intact, which helps to deliver additional nutrients to the strawberry once it’s been picked and keep it fresh longer. I was thoroughly impressed with the whole process and couldn’t stop myself from filling up the basket.

It’s probably wise that you don’t know how much I ended up spending on strawberries, along with how many still remain in our fridge, but even still, it was so worth it. I’m already thinking ahead to the next time I can take Nia back.

Here she is with her friends.

2. Ethos Vegan Kitchen

I had heard about it before moving to Orlando from various people, but last week it came up with two different people on separate occasions, so we decided to check it out on Saturday night.

We didn’t book a reservation, so we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, which was understandable because it was a Saturday night.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen is your “classic foods” style restaurant that tries to showcase the comfort cuisines you’re used to. I think it’s a great concept and the restaurant was busy the entire time we were there. Not that I can tell the vegans from the non-vegans, but it looked to me like there was a big variety of eaters there. Maybe that’s how they have the pull: it’s vegan, but it’s a dish that you’d enjoy on a regular menu, so people are a little less intimidated to eat an exclusively vegan restaurant. That’s just my theory. Roll with it ;).

We decided to do appetizers + entrees and started with garlic knots.

They were so warm and doughy, and delicious. I really enjoyed these, but I’ve become one of those picky (vegan) eaters and could tell that the butter was just with original Earth Balance, whereas we only use organic whipped in our home because it has a far better taste. I’ve become a brat, I know!

Next, we tried the soup on special, which was a vegetable medley.

This was sub-par at best because it majorly lacked flavor. It had a nice amount of veggies in it, but I really needed more herbs or something!

For dinner, Nia got the pasta primavera with parmesan off the kids’ menu.

I got the Sheep’s Pie (mashed potatoes with veggies smothered in gravy and then oven-baked).

And Tyler got Yo Mama’s Lasagna (lasagna noodles with marinara sauce and noodles).

I enjoyed my dish, but I was filled to the brim (I think it was that + the appetizer combo). I had Nia help me finish my dinner. Tyler had he was ok, but he’s also become a snooty eater. I think I probably created that problem because of the way I cook at home. Whoops!

Overall, we thought it was a good place to try, but after feeling like we had to be rolled down the hallway after eating, we agreed that we enjoy the vegan-style restaurants that focus on power bowls and the like. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but I like feeling good after a meal, also. Someone the hubby convinced me to work out that night after eating. It was probably the right call for feeling better.

3. Disney Boardwalk

On Sunday, we were trying to figure out what to do on the hubby’s day off. He usually works six days a week, so I love when he gets a day off and we can actually go somewhere. He came up with the idea of going to the Disney Boardwalk. What that is, is a collection of restaurants, entertainment, and recreation. We thought it would be something nice to do that was free – the biggest motivator for going someplace new. When we first arrived we actually ended up getting a margarita.

Then we started to do the walk around the boardwalk (which is 0.8 miles in length, which I discovered on a sign).

After a bit of walking, we went back to where we arrived and decided to rent a bike for 30 minutes. That way we could tour around the full boardwalk; something that wouldn’t have happened while on foot with a toddler.

It really is a gorgeous setting. There’s a little beach at one point (but don’t swim in the water – eek!), a path that would lead into Epcot, and access to a bunch of hotels, including the Swan & Dolphin.

We ended up looping around the boardwalk twice but stopped on the beach on our second lap because we had some extra time before we had to return the bike.

I can tell Nia had a lot of fun because whenever we stopped pedaling (i.e.: after getting up the hills, while huffing and puffing the entire way up) she would tell us, “Keep going!” We know who runs the show.

The bike, itself, was awesome too. We got a 3-seater, but they had bigger options to accommodate more. Whatever option you choose, the two seats on the outsides can pedal, and the person in the “driver’s seat” has control of the steering.

After we finished up on the bike, we headed out because we had a tired little conductor on our hands. As we were leaving, I thought I saw my fellow ZOOMA ambassador, Mary Beth, but I wasn’t quite sure. Turns out it was her (I sent her a message on twitter!), and wish I had stopped to say hi. Next time, MB???

That adventure made me want to get a Disney pass even more than ever. I mean, it honestly is in our backyard (as I learn the more as we venture over there), which means it’s pretty much a given that it should happen soon.

I can’t wait to keep updating you with Orlando attractions as we continue to find/visit them. I received an email about doing an Orlando post on non-touristy places to visit and it seriously is my mission to make that happen. Oh darn, it just means that Nia and I will have to start venturing out more. Such a tragedy!

Every been to any of the above?