Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : The Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek, Kissimmee Florida

Tinsel and I (not so much my husband) love to hike and we are always looking for new adventures to go on. This weekend we finally had perfect weather and hit up the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek > Kissimmee, Florida! This place has been on my bucket list for a while and I was so excited to finally get to check it out!

Just a 30 minute drive from the heart of Orlando, with minimum time on dirt roads this short weekend adventure was well worth the trip. Here’s the link to their website for more information!

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We arrived at that trail around 10AM on Sunday morning and the parking lot was virtually empty. There were a few vans parked out in the lot and to our surprise there were A LOT of families with small children. If you are bringing your dog along that does not get along with children, be sure to pass on this trail. There a lot of bikes, children and families picnicking! The good news? There is not many dogs, so if your pup is like mine (not friendly with other pups) this trail is for you!

ALWAYS BE PREPARED: Even when on shorter trails it’s important to have the essentials. Interested in what kind of day pack I use for trips like these? “>Here’s the exact day pack I use on my day-ventures with this cutie. (Affiliate link). I always carry a first aid kit (for myself and Tinsel), a pop out bowel for her to drink from AND PLENTY of water! I’ll be posting a “day packing guide” later on! But you can see all of our hiking and camping adventures here.

Start off straight from the parking lot and hit up the first .8 mile loop (short I know). Make sure to take lots of breaks with your pup, the path is made of crushed shell rock and might tear up your pups feet. After the loop, keep left and follow the longer “brown” trail markings through the picking area. The brown trail will lead you to a multitude of other trails, all around 1-2 miles round trip. Pick and choose your trails, these are fully pathed. Great for biking too! There are plenty of picnicking spots along the paved path; next time we will bring a packed lunch!

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There is a historic pioneer village in the middle of the trails (that is NOT dog friendly), but great for kids! That part of the park hours vary, so be sure to check before arriving.

We had a blast checking out all of the trails this park has to offer and you should too! Perfect for familes, safe for solo femal hikers (like myself) AND perfectly suited to bring your best fur buddy along. We hiked just under 3 miles, but we were EXHAUSTED. Next time, we plan on starting a bit earlier in the morning to avoid the heat.

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Have you checked out this trail before? I would love to hear about it in the comments below! 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻 Thank you all for reading! Be sure to check out Tinsel & my Instagram @TheTangledTinsel to see all of our weekend adventures!

Life Hack : A look inside my private writing (and hiding) space 🧘‍♀️🧘‍♀️

My husband, Tinsel the dog and myself live a medium sized condo – we have one bedroom and one bath. Although we love living in our smaller lifestyle (Less cleaning/maintain everything), sometimes I feel like I have no “me space.” A space for me to focus on my writing and meditation. AND to also find somewhere I can show off my cacti collection 😏😏

So I set my mind to it this weekend. I wanted to create a my own zen space. I started off by collecting some floor cushions, I was lucky enough to have been given these by a friend FOR FREE! I snagged an extra shelf from our storage closet. I picked up these ADORABLE black and white printed outdoor rugs from IKEA for $15!

Aren’t these rugs freakin’ adorable?? This is my second set of these same rugs….since my little bunny nibbled on the last set 🐰. I set up a small couch with the floor cushions, added some throw pillows AND BAM! Wondering what that black fence thing is in the background? That’s my DIY bunny fence. I can easily pull it out and pin him on the patio for a little bit of fresh air and exercise. Normally he stays out here during the day, getting some much needed exercise and fresh air. I even make him cardboard box houses to play in (OK so he doesn’t look happy – trust me he just has RBF). 🤷🏻‍♀️♥️🐰

So that’s kind of it. I now have this incredible zen-like work space. Especially that I have been sick, this is my sitting space to get some much needed fresh air. OH and space for my cacti collection (see below)….now that I have a bit more space….I think it’s time for another trip to the Florida Cactus Company – Check out my article about them here.

What’s your zen space look like? Do you have a little reading nook or hiding space away from the kids? I’d like to hear about thembelow!

Travel Tuesday : Eight States in Three Days 

I know I’m not alone on this, but sometimes I just get that need to jump in the car and drive, that yearning for adventure, the need to see something different.

Near the beginning of June I got that “Let’s just go” feeling. Of course My husband, Andrew, and I cannot take off work for more than a day so we had just a three day weekend to make this happen.

I packed just one suit case for my husband and I, we stuffed our cooler into the trunk and filled up the car with gas! The plan? Driving from Orlando, Florida to Indianapolis, Indiana in just three days/two nights.

(I LOVE road trips if you couldn’t tell)

Saturday morning we left at 5:00AM from Orlando, Florida headed towards Atlanta, Georgia. Just about an eight hour drive, our first stop was downtown Atlanta. We strolled around Central Park, refilled our Starbucks cups and jumped back into the car. Atlanta is beautiful, but it was our first stop and we were anxious to get back on the road!


Next stop Nashville, Tennessee! What we didn’t plan for? Actually checking the community website before visiting. We planned to walk around Nashville during the CMA (Country Music Awards) festival. The town was PACKED. We found a few secluded parks and decided to only stay a few hours in order to make the last stretch to Kentucky.

Bowling Green, Kentucky is the quintessential small, southern town filled with cobble streets and small cafes. Why Bowling Green? Kentucky was the perfect stop before reaching Indianapolis and a five start hotel on a weekend cost us under $100 for a night (can’t go wrong with that!).



After a good nights rest we started driving towards Indianapolis (of course stopping to refill our coffee cups along the way – I don’t have a problem 😉). The drive to Indianapolis is LONG, there isn’t much to look at and it seems to go on FOREVER (about a four hour drive). We ended up stopping for lunch along the way, packing sandwiches and chips is a road trip standard for us. Not to mention – currently McDonalds has drinks for $1! Fill up on unsweet tea and keep drivin’.


We finally made it to Indianapolis just after lunch! We strolled along White River State Park over looking downtown Indianapolis, we drove over enormous bridges and marveled at the city’s architecture. Indianapolis will defiantly be on our list to see again next summer.


Headed to out next stop on Sunday afternoon – St. Louis, Missouri. Seeing the Gateway Arch was on my bucket list, so this was a huge deal for me! Another four hour drive we finally made it to St.Louis to see the Arch. They just refurbished the area to include a beautiful walkway and a brand new dog park.


Tinsel and I loved strolling around cobble streets;we could not have asked for better weather.


If you are in Missouri,you have to stop to see Lafayette Park. A breath taking neighborhood of perfectly lined town homes and a quite park. Take a stroll downtown or stand mouth-open like I did, day dreaming of living in this neighborhood.


Our last stop on Sunday was to find somewhere to stay for the night, closer to Memphis, Tennessee.

My #1 suggestion for road trips – the Stay the Night app for iPhone. This searches your area for hotels that are looking to fill their rooms for the night for a discounted rate. It’s perfect for road trips, when you are done driving, turn on the app and it will hook you up with the best deal at your location. (They also have a filter for dog friendly hotels!)

The first hotel that popped up for us – Elvis’s Guest house right on his property in Memphis. $125 for the night in a five star hotel. The last leg of our second day – just over two hours and our hotel was just what we needed to refresh us. The hotel was RIGHT ON Elvis’s property and our room overlooked his estate. A beautiful room, with a rain shower and deluxe bed (heaven).


Our very last day, Monday morning. We started early, well rested from the night before, around 5:00AM. We started off strolling along The Mississippi River. We loved Memphis, but after all of this driving we were starting to get a little home sick and WE WERE WAY SICK OF MEAT SANDWICHES.

Our very last day, we wanted to see Alabama on the way back to Florida.

My #2  for road trips – download the Gas Buddy app on the iPhone. Open it up while you are on the highway and it will give you the best price for gas in your area.


Our VERY last stop was in Georgia. Providence Canyon State Par has been sitting on my summer bucket list for years and we finally got to visit. The State Park is well known as the “Mini Grand Canyon.”


Just as we’re standing at the edge,  a short walk from the parking lot, it started to downpour. This Canyon took my breath away, as it started to rain the deep orange rock started to change color to this beautiful rusty orange. We stayed right there in the rain to enjoy it, reluctant to get back into the car.

Another five hours and we were finally home in Orlando. Soaked to the core, covered in red clay but this trip was worth it. We saw eight new states, 12 cities and made memories to last a life time.

It never takes much to travel, just the willingness to get yourself out there. Overall for this weekend we WOULD have spent around $800 on gas, hotels and food.

BUT we saved on hotels by booking the day of, we saved on gas by using an app and we saved on food by packing our cooler. What we actually spent? Just under $400.

Pack up your car. Take your dog. And get out there to see something new!

Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : Kayaking Shingle Creek, Florida

A suggestion from a friend led us to kayaking Shingle Creek two weekends ago in June. Off of Highway 192 in Kissimmee is a small kayak rental shack called The Paddling Center. ($13 for a single Kayak/$16 for a tandem kayak – for two hours). You will have to reserve your kayak eight hours in advance; but they are pretty easy going and will allow you to call in less time and reserve if they have a kayak available.

(they allow you to sign all of your waivers via email before hand – this saves A LOT of time)

Right off of Highway 192 you will find the entrance. Enter the park and travel down a steep hill and into a dirt parking lot. Parking is limited. After you check in at the wooden shack, the team will lead you down to the beach and push you off into the water. At the time that we were there, the second route was closed due to too strong of a current, so they told us to head straight under the bridge towards the first route.

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Head straight underneath the Highway 192 Bridge (there was a lot of homeless people under the bridge, which was kind of off-setting) and paddle upstream. The water was murky and there was not much wild life; I am amusing due to the proximity of the bustling city. We paddled for about 30 minutes upstream before we hit the “turn around here, No Entry” signs. That was it. We let the current take us back to the launch point, drifting slowly. We still did not see any wildlife. Overall the adventure took us about 45 minutes and was actually disappointing for what we paid.

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The Paddling Center also offers bike rentals if you are in for that as well! I defiantly would call ahead first to see if all of the kayaking trails are open before spending the money. Even an inexperienced person on a kayak would not be able to fill two hours worth of time. My husband and I will be back to try out the second route eventually this summer, but we will call ahead to see!

Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : Kayaking in Blue Springs, Florida

For starters, lines start before the park even opens! My husband and a friend tagged along for a celebratory birthday weekend kayaking trip. We headed out from our home in Orlando at 7:15am (of course feeding my addiction of Starbucks Matcha Tea on the way). Even arriving at 8:00am the lines already started to form. If you’ve never been kayaking before, you are in for a treat at Blue Springs!

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Parked in the parking lot and armed with supplies we headed out. To the right there is a wooden board walk with short over looks of the Manatee Spring, follow the board walk all the way to the right and you will find a row of small souvenir shops and cafes. Perched on top of a hill is the historic Thursby House that is free and open to the public to tour. The Thursby House was built in 1872 and greeted steam boat h on the St. John’s River. It is definitely a site worth seeing, but it does get busy later in the day.

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(They have this cute manatee counter at the State Park check in booth – BRING ON THE SEA COWS)

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Follow the board walk further to the left and you will start seeing kayaks and canoes parked along the water. Further still, you will see the wooden shack filled to the brim with young college kids that will help you get set up with your rental. My husband and I have learned from past mistakes that canoeing is not even worth your time; spend the extra money rent a kayak.

Here’s my soap box – Canoes are UNCOMFORTABLE, sitting on a wooden bench, hunched over with one paddle. Just be ready for the arguments with your spouse!! (PADDLE LEFT. RIGHT. LEFT. RIGHT) Again, just spend the extra money rent a kayak, you’ll thank me later!

For the Blue Springs Kayak Rentals you are looking at about $16-$20 an hour. Check out their site here!

Side note – They do not allow paddling directly into the spring for the protection of the newly born baby manatees (you heard me right, this time of year it is easy to spot a little baby cow floating around in the spring!)

Sitting comfortably, lay back in the lounger and stocked with Starbucks; the college kids pushed us out onto the water. The college kids armed us with a poorly drawn paper map of the area, marked with hot spots for wildlife. We started off paddling to the right and headed out onto the large river (UP STREAM MIND YOU). Then we took a sharp left into a canal. Breath taking, sweeping views of marsh surrounded our kayak. Giant blue heron swooped over our heads while smaller birds called out to each other. Just pause here and take it all in.

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Continuing on, we paddled for a short while and made it to the “Snake Bend.” The canal was so narrow that you could reach and touch both sides of the canal. Elegant trees shade the canal, while Spanish moss swayed silently above our heads. We paddled here for a short while and ended up turning around, taking the entire Snake Bend to the end is a three hour trek.

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We turned around and headed back out the Snake Bend, then making a left onto the large water way. (Watch out for boats here!) We continued down this large water way and to our surprise, manatees were leaving the spring and swimming along both sides of our kayaks! Leaving our kayaks behind, we started our short trek down the wooden board walk towards the Thursby House. Down the wooden board walk you will pass several small outlooks over the Manatee Spring (look out for the little babies!) Make sure you stop by and take a photo with this cutie:

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Further down still you will reach the small cafe and gift shop. Here you will find every kind of manatee trinket you can dream of! Even further still, there is a short one mile hiking trail behind the gift shop, certainly worth a look! By 12:00pm the crowds really started to form! The one thing that I would have changed was to remember to pack a picnic lunch for my husband and me! It was a perfect afternoon to spread out under a shady tree and enjoy this beautiful Florida weather. Please comment below if you have any questions about this trip! Kayaking with the Florida Manatees was an experience I will never forget!

(FYI – Boat shoes are a must ($5 at Walmart). You will thank me later. Bonus points if you and your spouse match!)

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Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : Canoeing Wekiva Springs, Florida

Wekiva Springs State Park is on every Floridian’s Summer Bucket List it seems, so my husband and I decided to try it out last June. Let me save you the time and energy here, if you are looking for sweeping Florida views and peace and quiet THIS IS NOT THE PLACE. We started off by renting a canoe upstream from Wekiva Springs (our first mistake – not realizing canoes are extremely uncomfortable and hard to paddle). The canoe rental was relatively cheap, costing us around $40 for a half day rental. The rental shack’s plan was for everyone to paddle upstream to the actual spring (8 miles) and a bus would pick us up and return us back to our car. Seemed simple right? Seemed fun right? Boy we were in for a treat.

Getting physically into the canoe was interesting to say the least; there was no “pushing off of a bank.” The canoe was already in the water and you had to safely step into the canoe without tipping it over all while your spouse climbs into the front. My husband and I are not the lightest or balanced of people, but we seemed to manage climbing into the boat. We pushed ourselves away from the dock and headed up stream. Not more than thirty minutes into this adventure, we already were struggling to keep the canoe in a straight line. Screaming at one another, we ended up banking ourselves more times than I can count. Further out on the river, a few feet from the stern of our boat, there were two otters playing in the water! We did end up seeing several raccoons, birds and otters! (One positive experience)

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Canoeing continued on, our boat was filling slowly with water, our arms were sore and we were covered in bug bites. Absolutely nothing notable happened. We canoed for hours. Ladies and gents, if you really want to test the strength of your relationship, paddle in a canoe for eight miles getting eaten alive by spiders.

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Arriving finally around 1:00pm at the official Wekvia Spring, again there was no pull in beach but a dock you had to climb on top of the dock to get out of your canoe (I had the worst cuts on my knees and arms from trying to get out of the boat). Starving, thirsty and exhausted we made our way to a food truck near the water. Little did we know that you have to pay even more money to be able to get near the water and food, luckily we had spare change, they did not except credit cards. Walking closer to the water and food trucks, the crowds were unbearable. Half naked college kids, hundreds of loose dogs and broken glass bottles scattered the ground. This was a nightmare. If sitting at a bar in the middle of the afternoon, while sipping on overpriced drinks is your thing then you are in for a treat! We spent $10 for two canned sodas and did not have enough cash to buy food. Defeated, we walked back to the bus stop. Not shocked, the bus actually showed up 30 minutes earlier than what was on the schedule and they ended up leaving us to wait another hour.

Again, if you are looking for a relaxing paddle or to dip your feet in the cool spring water take it from this Florida girl just avoid Wekvia Springs all together. There are plenty of springs to visit during the summer in Florida without the crowds of drunken college kids. Check out my article here on Blue Springs Florida or stretch out on the secluded beach of Sanibel Island.

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Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood: Bio Luminescent Jellyfish Kayaking

Bio luminescent Jellyfish Kayaking in Merit Island, Florida

You heard me right! An hour away from Orlando, you can literally kayak with bio luminescent jellyfish! (Incredible I know!) Our friend Elizabeth stumbled on a tour that takes you out onto the water during the sunset to catch a glimpse of the jellyfish. The tour was a little pricey  but it was well worth the price! Our friend frank, my husband and I were hooked on the idea! We were to meet our kayaking tour guide at 7:30 pm, so we decided to make an evening out of it!

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We left Orlando around 2:00 pm straight to Titusville, roughly an hour drive. Our first stop, ICE CREAM (of course). We headed to this Mom & Pop Shop downtown Titusville called Space Coast Ice Cream . A double scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream cone cost me about $5 and let me tell you it changed my life! Best ice cream I have in a long time!

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What’s a visit to Titusville without a pit stop on the beach? A pristine State Park in Titusville called. $10 gets you into the front gate to the park and parking is free. We stopped at the first beach we found and we were not disappointed. During January, the beaches are covered in blue and purple colored jellyfish (watch where you are stepping!).

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Nearing 6:00 pm we stopped for dinner at a local fish and chips joint. The dinner was just short of amazing. Powdered sugar covered fried dough waited for us at our table. We dined on the freshest grouper you could ever dream of and the best part yet, the prices were great! Is there a better way to spend an evening in Titusville than putting our feet into the ocean and dinning on fresh grouper? I think not.

As it started to get dark we headed out towards our meeting location for the tour, for a few miles we traveled in the dark on a narrow road. Finally pulling off into another dirt road, we started to see the dim lights of the kayaking team setting up. We made sure to have the wavier forms filled out before we registered, this was a huge help getting checked in!  The tour guides strapped us into life jackets, gave us matching glow sticks and paddles then grouped us by the shore. The guide then gave a short how-to kayak and safety in the dark. We then lined up, picked out our kayaks and the guides pushed out into the dark.

Floating in the dark, we were unable to tell where the sky met the land and stars reflected in the water. It was an incredible “rain drop in the ocean” feeling. We floated here a bit until the guide and the rest of the group was ready to move on.

We paddled through mangroves in the dark, hearing the call of the nocturnal birds in the distance. In a clearing, the tour guide had us stop as he passed out small hand nets. He explained to us that the jellies are safe to handle and will light up if touched in the net. Like children at a petting zoo, we were excited! I quickly ran our net through the water and scooped up the jellies; they lit up like small fireworks in my hand.

My husband took over paddling for a bit, as I ran my hands through the water. With each touch of my fingertips the jellyfish and plankton lit up. Even the water pushing on the stern of our kayak was dragging this beautiful light blue light through the water. Not many moments in your life do you truly feel small in the world (Well maybe standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon –see my article on this!), but I truly felt small floating along the water looking up at the Milky Way. What a life changing kayaking trip, a must see!

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Please let me know if you have any comments or questions for me about this trip!! I want to hear about your adventures too!