Lake Lotus Nature Park (Photo Courtesy of Morgan W & Dreamfinder Photography)

More Than Just The Mouse: Lake Lotus Nature Park

More Than Just The Mouse: Lake Lotus Nature Park

When you think of Orlando, most people think of Disney World or any of the other countless tourist draws to the city. As a new resident to Orlando, I want to explore the city away from The Mouse.

Just north of Orlando in Altamonte Springs, there is a beautiful park called Lake Lotus Nature Park that is something worth seeing. I took the drive up I-4 and got off at Maintland Blvd. where I was surrounded by office buildings, restaurants, and hotels. It was a great suburban neighborhood with all the conveniences you would want. I actually drove by one of our properties Camden Renaissance which borders Lake Lotus Park; it must be great to have this natural beauty as your neighbor! I parked and walked over and as soon as I stepped foot inside Lake Lotus Park I felt like a stepped into a completely different world. I was surrounded by the beautiful bright greens of the different tree leaves with rays of sun streaming through the tops which made me feel like I was in a jungle and no longer in Orlando. It was great!

Lake Lotus Park (Photo Courtesy of Morgan W and Dreamfinder Photography)

Lake Lotus Park (Photo Courtesy of Morgan W and Dreamfinder Photography)

 

I wandered around the trail and it was fun to get a little lost and try to find my way as I looked at everything that surrounded me. There was just so much to look at. I had my camera with me and this is definitely a place where the camera speaks 1,000 words! The trees, flowers, birds, and even insects seemed to be everywhere I looked! But in Florida there’s something else to add to that list…… gators! Yes ladies and gentlemen, there are gators there and I stumbled on a baby gator in the water as I reached a part of the trail that became a wooded boardwalk around the lake. I wasn’t used to having to worry about gators around me since I’m not from Florida so that was a new experience for me.

Hi Baby Gator! (Photo Courtesy of Morgan W & Dreamfinder Photography)

Hi Baby Gator! (Photo Courtesy of Morgan W & Dreamfinder Photography)

I walked the whole trail of Lake Lotus Nature Park which is about 1.7 miles long and includes the wooded boardwalk around the lake and a great little pavilion called the Windows to the Lake which displays the different flora and fauna that you might see while explore the park. It was great to check out the pavilion and figure out the names of the plants and animals that I was seeing because everything was foreign to me since I didn’t grow up with gators in my local nature parks or even egrets (which I saw too!). It was perfect way to escape for a couple of hours and wander around with nature. If you haven’t been yet then you are missing out! Go check out their website at Altamonte Springs online to get more information and even reserve a picnic pavilion to have a great outing with friends or family! If all the parks in Orlando are as beautiful as this one and as fun, I can’t wait to check out more!

(Photo Courtesy of Morgan W and Dreamfinder Photography)

(Photo Courtesy of Morgan W and Dreamfinder Photography)

Stay tuned for more “More Than Just The Mouse” and check out my last article about the Dr. Phillips Center!

Take a walk with your dad

National Father Daughter take a walk day

Today is National Father Daughter take a walk day! On July 7th take a few minutes to get outside and smell the roses with your daughter. This day was created to help you and your daughter create life long memories together. Even if you take only 5 minutes to walk with her that may leave a lifelong impression.

Take a walk with your dad

Take a walk with your dad

Walking also helps your physical activity as well.  Doctors say that you should walk at least 30 minutes a day. If you are walking to lose weight then you may want to increase that to 45 minutes to an hour. We have a great park called Fairview Park in Costa Mesa Ca. This is a great place to take that walk. They even do free Train rides on weekends.

Placentia Bridge Costa Mesa, CA

Placentia Bridge Costa Mesa, CA

The summer is the best time to get outside and enjoy time with the family! Time with your family is the most valuable gift that you can give to anyone. If you teach your daughter to be active at a young age then she will carry that with her. I did Taekwondo with my dad for almost 5 years and that time was some of the best memories that I have of my childhood.

Paris photo courtesy of: grand-paris.jil.fr

Summer Travel Guide

Summer is upon us and we will all be packing up and heading on warm weather getaways. According to travel.usnews.com, there are some destinations that get more travel than others. Looking for something new and exciting to do with your summer vacation? Try these destinations for size:

5) Mykonos: Known as ‘The Island of the Winds” by locals, this Greek island is a tropical paradise. Equipped with sun, sand, warm weather and great atmosphere, any traveler would be happy to find themselves in this Mediterranean heaven. Mykonos is a great spot for the vacation party goer. This island supposedly is home to some of the best clubs in Greece. Fun fact: The sun shines up to 300 days a year here!

Mykonos photo courtesy of: gezelimgorelimitelim.com

Mykonos photo courtesy of: gezelimgorelimitelim.com

4) Fiji: Known for white sandy beaches and year round tropical temperatures, Fiji is the ultimate vacation spot. Home to botanical gardens, sand dunes, forest parks and outter island scuba diving, this vacation is sure to be one of a kind. You may have to use a little more vacation time than planned, but I wouldn’t doubt that this would be worth your while.

Fiji photo courtesy of: i.lab.org.au

Fiji photo courtesy of: i.lab.org.au

3) Nice: Now, having been here myself, this is a vacation spot that I would suggest to anyone. There is a reason the French call it “Nice La Belle” (translates to ‘Nice the beautiful’). Located on the southern coast of France, right on the Mediterranean Sea, Nice is France’s 2nd most popular city to visit after the “City of Love”, Paris. Light blue waters, French culture and beautiful weather are all reasons to pay Nice a visit.

Nice photo courtesy of: telegraph.co.uk

Nice photo courtesy of: telegraph.co.uk

2) Paris: We will stay in France and explore Paris, the “City of Love”. As the capital of France, there is much to see and do in Paris. Visit the Eiffel Tower or come during Fashion Week, Paris never disappoints. Home to some of the most amazing revolutionary sights, Paris is truly a gem. I have heard many a person say that they have found themselves in this amazing city.

Paris photo courtesy of: grand-paris.jil.fr

Paris photo courtesy of: grand-paris.jil.fr

1) Maui: Switching gears, we head back to the homeland and explore our island state, Hawaii! Maui is Hawaii’s 2nd largest island. Known for snorkeling, wind surfing, surfing, kiteboarding and kitesurfing, Maui is a great place to go with the family or for a romantic couple’s getaway. Not that far from the world we live in, Hawaii makes for an affordable and close island getaway, Perfect for those of us with vacation hour balances.

Maui photo courtesy of: hawaiiwedding.com

Maui photo courtesy of: hawaiiwedding.com

For those of us that are lucky enough to be able to travel during the summer break, these are great places to go. Maybe this blog will inspire you to go!

Orange County’s Best Beaches

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, Orange County has some of the best beaches, known as the “Orange Coast’. The beach actually stretches 42 miles ranging from broad sand beaches to cove beaches to tide pool areas.  Each beach has something different to offer, whether you want to swim, surf, skim board, or just relax in the beautiful California weather.

Photo by JT Steves

Photo by JT Steves

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is one of the most popular beaches and the most vibrant; it is known as “Surf City”.  The beach is over 8 miles long, popular for swimming & surfing and has a bike path for bikers, skaters, & walkers. Huntington is also known for the Pier, Main Street, which has great restaurants & shops, the U.S. Open of Surfing and the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tournament.

Newport Beach

Newport Beach was recently named Orange County’s Best Beach by the O.C. Weekly. The wide beach is great for the serious surfer or just the beach goer and has a bike path also. The two piers, Newport and Balboa, are both landmarks for Newport and have restaurants, shops, and a “Fun Zone” with games and rides. Newport Beach has activities for everyone; enjoying the beautiful beach, renting an electric boat, shopping, dining, harbor cruises, and much more!

Photo by 101thingstodosw.com

Photo by 101thingstodosw.com

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is considered the most picturesque beach city; it has been compared with the French Riviera. There is a large beach right downtown with volleyball nets and many restaurants surrounding the beach. Along with the beautiful beach, Laguna is known for the Arts, and host the Sawdust Festival & Pageant of the Masters every year.

Photo by Anne Ackemann

Photo by Anne Ackemann

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Otay Ranch Chow List

Otay Ranch Chow List – Top 5 Picks

How exciting is it to move to a new town and go exploring? The first things we encourage ourselves to do is hunt for something familiar or go bold and discover something new – especially when it comes to food. Instead of checking Yelp reviews, why not rely on experience from a local like me? Having grown up here when this area was just rolling hills and vacant lots, I’ve scoped out a few foodie hotspots in the Southbay, where San Diego keeps a suburban dream in its back pocket. This hidden gem is my home, Otay Ranch.

It’s tough to have a definitive list like this without explaining why, so each restaurant listed here has been categorized accordingly. Whether you are a young couple enjoying your first apartment together or a family that prefers something kid-friendly, there’s a restaurant here for you. Here are my top 5 picks for dinner tonight:

 

Best Date Night Experience at Savoie Eatery

Best Date Night at Savoie Eatery

Their website proclaims themselves as the “best food in town – where the French and Italian Rivieras meet.” If you don’t believe me, read their reviews. It is conveniently located in the Otay Ranch Towne Center across from the AMC Theaters. Dinner and a movie? Winner, winner chicken dinner! The decor is quite whimsical and you start feeling a bit like Alice lost in Wonderland or maybe like Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland. Beware, if you don’t have a reservation, then be prepared to wait a half hour or more. They are plugged right into Open Table, so make plans ahead of time or give them a call at 619-591-5757.
2015 Birch Road, Ste. 720 , Chula Vista CA 91915 (Image found on Savoie website)

Best Family Friendly Experience at Pho Hiep Grill

Pho Hiep Grill owners

Let’s get this straight – I’m referring to the Eastlake location. It is conveniently located in the Eastlake Villagewalk shopping center where you will also find Trader Joe’s and Sprouts. Just beyond, there is a spectacular coy and turtle pond where your little ones can pay a quarter for fish pellets. Some forewarning – the pellets look like Cheerios so supervision is recommended. Besides the location, their customer service goes a long way towards making you feel welcome. Where else can you find an owner walking from table to table greeting his guests? After chatting with him a bit, he will tell you that the decor is all handcrafted in Vietnam. He takes great pride in his heritage and the quality of his food. This particular location can cater to large families with your choice of dining inside or on the outdoor patio. Pricing for appetizers and meals are in the low range and what you’d likely pay for fast-food not a sit-down place. Score one for family-friendly and two for budget friendly as well!
872 Eastlake Parkway Suite 310 , Chula Vista CA 91914 (Image found at Pho Hiep Grill website)

Best Happy Hour at Romesco’s

Best Happy Hour

It was voted Reader’s Choice Best Restaurant of 2014 by Modern Luxury Riviera San Diego magazine and if this mouthwatering ad for Happy Hour doesn’t get to you, then convince yourself to enjoy one of the most unique happy hour experiences in San Diego. Not only is there live music – and when I mention live music it could be a classically trained violinist, a live band, or a DJ – but there is also a secret bar for those wanting to feel like they’re in a speakeasy.
4346 Bonita Road , Bonita CA 919102 (Image found on Romesco website)

Best Takeout Experience at In-N-Out

Best takeout experience

How familiar are you with their secret menu? Next time you wait in line at the drive-thru, order the 4 by 4 protein style with fries-well topped animal style. Since it’s early beginnings, this fast food chain took no shortcuts and stuck to using fresh ingredients – inevitably staying ahead of competition by catering to millennials who expect “Quality you can taste.” We are lucky to have one of the only In-N-Outs in the Southbay and yes, lines are usually out the door at lunch and dinner!
1725 Eastlake Parkway, Chula Vista CA 91915 (Image found at In-N-Out wallpaper downloads)

Best Place for Late Night Munchies at Lolitas Taco Shop

Best Late Night Munchies

Who else is stoked that they are opening another location? Show of hands please. When it comes to satiating the late night munchie monster, most restaurants open late tend to be of the Mexican flavor. However, when it comes to great Mexican food, Lolitas Taco Shop wins by a landslide. This restaurant is home to tsunami burritos (shrimp and carne asada) and freebies like fresh green onions, spicy carrots and salsa verde. In order to avoid the rush, it is best to call in your order ahead of time.
601-1A East Palomar Street , Chula Vista 91911 (Image found at Lolitas Taco Shop website)

A blog about food does a hungry writer make! If you fly in for a visit or decide to take a job and relocate to San Diego, be sure to stop by Otay Ranch and discover what else can be found in this hidden gem.

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DIY and Creative Solutions to Overcome a Tricky Floor Plan

Each Camden property throughout the nation has unique floor plans. Have you ever come across the floor plan that is a fantastic price, but there is something about the floor plan that scares you? Maybe there are angled walls in the bedroom, or perhaps your bedroom does not have a door? As a Leasing Consultant, I try my best to paint the picture of how to decorate a floor plan that may seem like a challenge at first sight, but in reality is the perfect apartment. As hard as I try, sometimes you just need to see a furnished apartment to see how it will work out.

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Lyndsay’s floor plan

At Camden Fairfax Corner, we have over 70 floor plans. Each one has a characteristic that makes them special. From our 650 square foot studios to our 1488 square foot 3 bedrooms, we have floor plans that work with every lifestyle, and every piece of furniture. There are a few apartments that at first glance seem like a challenge, but I see them as an opportunity for creativity.

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Welcoming Your Guests

“We’re about fifteen minutes away.” Music to my ears, when I am awaiting the arrival of a houseguest. It could be family, friends, or even a babysitting gig it doesn’t matter, I get pumped. I enjoy doing special things to make my houseguest feel welcomed and here are just a few tricks that make the experience memorable.

Beautiful nosh cheese plate, with fruit and pastrami.

Beautiful nosh cheese plate, with fruit and pastrami.

After a long day on the road or at the airport, your guest can work up quite the appetite. Providing some easy to manage small bites, is a great idea to knock the edge off before your dinner plans.

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How to be Happy in 2015 – 4 Positive Resolutions for the New Year

 

Every New Year, people always write down their resolutions. Sometimes they are specific and unreasonable, so I came up with four easy things to focus on this year to make sure that 2015 will be great.

Photo courtesy of spiritualboosters.com

Photo courtesy of spiritualboosters.com

BE THANKFUL

A gratitude journal is a great way to remember to be thankful. All you do is write down five things every day that you are thankful for. It can be anything from a successful project at work to a hot cup of coffee that tasted so good. No matter how big or small, remembering to write down the good things can definitely change your attitude over time.

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BE HEALTHY

I know, I know. Every year people resolve to lose weight, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Just make small choices to be healthier and extend your life. Get a fitness app on your phone, start taking walks every day, or cut out one unhealthy meal a week. All those small changes can really make a difference and help you feel better. If you want, join a gym! There are a ton to choose from: LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, The Exercise Coach – just to name a few.

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BE PET FRIENDLY

Having a pet is proven to have great health benefits. Also, you’ll feel better taking care of a loving animal that needed a home. Pets can be your best friends and comforting companions. Not so fast, pet allergy people, you can get a fish and still reap the benefits. Check with your local Camden community for their pet policy.

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BE FAMILY ORIENTED

Having a work-life balance is really important to your mental, emotional, and physical health. Make sure that you’re carving out time for your family and friends. We work a lot, but we don’t have a lot of time to spend with those we love. When it comes to children, you don’t want to miss precious moments that you can’t get back, so make sure you make the time for them!

These are just four simple goals that don’t take a lot of effort, but sure can make a huge difference in your life. Here’s hoping that your new year is full of great moments!

Holiday Activities for the Whole Family

The holidays are a great chance to enjoy time with your children and plan some activities that only happen during this time of year. I’ve found some fun family activities in the Orange County area that could be a part of your holidays.

 garland

“The Nutcracker” At the Barclay Theater
December 12-24, 2014

Celebrate the season with visions of the Sugar Plum Fairy, her dashing prince and our heroine Clara, while a cast of over one hundred takes you back in time to mystical lands of old world charm. Family-friendly and affordable, this professional production of The Nutcracker features internationally acclaimed guest artists, Festival Ballet Theatre’s professional company dancers, and exceptional budding young talent from across the Southland.

LOCATION:
4242 Campus Drive

INFORMATION:
(949) 854-4646

Frosty Treat Fun Mommy & Me Cooking Class Irvine
December 22, 2014
11:00am – 12:00pm

cooking

The holidays are a time to bring the family together. With so many fun treats that can be made why not come together in the kitchen! Cooking with children is something not all grown-ups are comfortable with, not to worry! Child Development Specialist, Kunaal Kumar, is here to help guide grown-ups through the process of cooking with kids. Children will delight in making frosty, winter themed treats like Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips, Snowman Pizza, and a refreshing water infused with wintery yumminess.

$5.00 fee per one grown-up and one child pair. For children 2 years of age and up; Grown-ups. register online

LOCATION:
Pretend City Children’s Museum
29 Hubble
Irvine, CA Continue reading

Thanksgiving and What it Really Means

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. I love gathering together with family while the children run around the house, the men yell at the football game playing on the TV, and the women laugh and talk about everything under the sun. Thanksgiving is one of the few times a year where we can all gather in one place and simply enjoy one another and catch up on everything that has happened since the last gathering. If you are like me, family time is a cherished time and there is simply nothing better than gathering around and enjoying one another. Of course who can forget that massive meal that happens on Thanksgiving! The one day a year you are allowed to wear your “fat” pants and dig in and NOT count the calories. Calorie counting is absolutely not allowed on Thanksgiving Day!

Turkey


Have you recently thought about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and where the tradition originated? Typically when we gather for the holidays this is not a conversation topic that comes up. I believe that there are times in life in the midst of the hustle and bustle that we need to stop and think and remember why we celebrate certain occasions and why it is still important and relevant to us today.

Thanksgiving is more than just the story of the Pilgrims and Indians. Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims and Indians. It was later adopted by President Abraham Lincoln and nationally recognized as a holiday in 1863. As we all know, Thanksgiving is celebrated every 4th Thursday in November. But what does this mean? Thanksgiving is 2 separate words; Thanks and Giving. Therefore, this holiday is a national day for giving thanks and for sharing. Counting our blessings at the family dinner table is one way, however, the holiday consumes much more than that. It goes beyond simply our immediate family and friends and being thankful for far more than just the blessings and riches we have received. The Holiday reminds us to share our economic and material wealth, and to share also our time and talents with other people who could use our help. This is the season to put into perspective the abundance of riches in our own lives by aiding those less fortunate.  Giving your time and sharing your resources with those who are not as blessed as you are is the true meaning of Thanksgiving. This is demonstrated all year-long, not just on one day. Thanksgiving Day is a designated day to reflect, praise, and celebrate with those closest to you as you discuss the ways you have given and shared all year-long. The Holiday is much broader and encompasses a great deal more than we realize and celebrate.

Give Thanks

As you gather with your loved ones this joyous holiday season, I urge you to celebrate the true meaning behind Thanksgiving and remember to be thankful for all of your blessings that you have received throughout the year. Even the smallest of blessings are still blessings worth celebrating. Continue to be thankful for all you have and will continue to receive and always remember to pay it forward to those less fortunate than yourself.

We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. Enjoy these small moments that will turn in to lasting memories.

Make sure you look for your next home to turn your moments into lasting memories at www.camdenliving.com.