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!


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!


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.


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!

Life Hack : 3 Basic things you should know about caring for your dog

It’s said in older tradition that your dog is your soul mate in life, your partner. When your dog passes, it’s soul is passed on to another dog and your souls will reunite. I always found this comforting. I know that Tinsel and I only have a certain time together in this life time, so I spend every day making sure I am giving her the best life possible.

Just a little background.

Tinsel and I met six years ago, when I was volunteering at an animal shelter. Our souls met and it was one of those “there you are” moments in life. We have been attached by the hip ever since.

If you are a new rescue parent or you decided to pay for a puppy (don’t honestly get me started on that) there are probably a few basic things you should know about proper care for your new family member.

FIRST: Tinsel is a pretty big girl, weighing in at about 70 pounds. She takes a lot of physical stimulation to keep her happy. I sacrifice up thirty minutes of my morning, waking up around 5:15 AM to take her on a walk. Tinsel and I walk about 2.5-3 miles each morning. This is all part of my husband and my morning routine to keep our house running smooth you can read about that here.

This does two very important things:

  • It wears down her nails, so we never have to trim them. Less work for me, less stress for her.
  • It also makes it so we do not have to kennel her. Which I find the practice of kenneling your dog HORRIBLE. That said, YES you should have a “safe space” for your dog like a kennel or for Tinsel a nice quite dog bed in our walk in closet. This her space and she is free to come and go, I never enter her space nor do I force her to go in it; with us it’s all about mutual respect. My dog is well rested, so she just relaxes at home until we get back from work. Other than her teething when she was a pup, Tinsel has never had ONE accident or chewed up anything in my home.

SECOND: I feed her well but I am restrictive. Tinsel eats all natural, organic kibble that we pick up in bulk from BJ’s Wholesale. Again, with our relationship it’s all about respect. She waits patiently for me to pour her food and then “release her” to eat it.

Practicing this does one very important thing:

  • She learns to wait to be told to eat. No matter if I drop something on the floor or give her a treat, she waits and respects my space until I’m ready to give it to her.

THIRD: Mental stimulation. Sometimes…..she gets on my nerves. She wants to cuddle constantly when I’m trying to work and well….I love her but…IT GETS OLD. So I’ve come up with games she can play on her own. This way she’s happy/busy and I don’t feel so guilty about not paying her enough attention. You can see all of my DIY Puppy Games here.

I know my time is limited with Tinsel, so I try and make sure each day is the best for her. I make sure that most of my travels she can come with and we find hobbies we like to do together like hiking! Read our latest hiking trip here, seriously we have been OBSESSED with this hiking trail.

Are there any special traditions you do with your pup? Honestly – I just want to see pictures of your little ones below! Oh and be sure to hover of the image and Pin It! for later!

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The Best Advice I Could Ever Share – Tinsel the Dog

Tinsel (my pup) and I have been best buds for a little over six years now. We are attached at the hip. We spend weekends strolling through parks or lounged at home binge watching our fave Netflix shows – Right now we are binge watching Frasier (Tinsel finds Eddie HILARIOUS). We spend each night sleeping nose to nose in bed (my husband is NOT OK WITH THIS – though I’m sure he’ll get over it eventually).  She’s my other half.

So if any of you are like me – you know just how special dogs are.

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The Best Advice Tinsel shared with me

  1. Always stretch after waking up. Take a minute after napping or in the morning to have a good stretch. Wake up your body gently.
  2. Drink water. Lots and lots of water. Starbucks Matcha Tea Lattes are delicious, but water is essential.
  3. A really long walk can cure anything. When I’m having a rough day at work or had an argument with a friend; I know taking a walk and clearing my head is always the best medicine.
  4. Family is the most important thing, but family can be made up of anyone. Tinsel is picky (so am I) to truly let anyone into our family. But those who you do choose to let in are family.
  5. Always greet each other with wiggle butts. Well figuratively. It doesn’t matter if I have been gone all day or ten minutes, I know when I open the door she will be just as excited to see me. Greet everyone like this.
  6. The best meditation is just basking in the sun. Sit in the sun, feeling it’s warmth and just breathe.
  7. Take naps. Take sooo many naps. Nothing is better than a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon curled up in bed cuddled with Tinsel. Take time to rest.
  8. Never live in the past. Live in the future, this very moment and never worry about yesterday.
  9. Love with no limits. Those who you choose to let in, love them endlessly.
  10. Be strong. Be Brave. Life might get scary (like that little dog the next door over) but stand your ground, you are stronger than you know.

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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 : Hiking Wekiva Springs State Park, Florida

Now that you have heard my complaints about Wekvia Springs State park. Let me now tell you about hiking in Wekvia Springs State Park, two words “I’M OBSESSED.” Over the last month I have hiked a little over thirty miles in the Wekvia Springs State Park with my dog Tinsel. This is one of the most incredible Florida State Parks that I have ever hiked, which was very surprising, since I despised canoeing to Wekvia Springs.


There is a $6 entrance fee into the park per car and it is well worth the price. Make a left on the main road after checking in and drive all the way down to the parking lot next to the equestrian hiking trail loop. The drive takes about 5-10 minutes, because it loops in and out of the forest. To your left and right you can see vast views of Florida plains. Several mornings I have encountered deer walking across the road. Park in the small hikers loop past the restrooms and get ready for the hike of your life!


Now unpack your gear, leash up your pup and let’s get going! Starting off on the Equestrian Trail head I followed the large 8 mile loop around Wekvia Springs. For those of you with pups that might be nervous or fearful of dogs/people there are seldom times when I have actually ran into another hiker on the trail. During my hikes I have seen bald eagles, fox squirrels and deer just to name a few. Now the terrain on the trail is just sand, which can be hard to trek in, just be warned you will be sore tomorrow!


Wild flowers, sweeping views and huge oak trees cover the trail. Here you can see coopers hawks, bald eagles, fox squirrels and deer. Always make sure you get to a hike as early as possible, the later in the day means more hikers have been on the trail possibly scaring off wildlife (not to mention the weather is better). For the experienced hikers, after finishing the 8 mile loop you can head straight for another 5 miles of trails that still loop around to the parking lot. The longest hike I have done in this State Park was for a little over 12 miles and I was EXHAUSTED.


A side note for Florida Locals, there is an app called “Meetup.” For those of you who would like to hike with a tour guide, a group or find hikers with dogs this app will introduce you to tons of like minded, wanderlust people in Florida! The app will introduce you to local festivals, hikes and even overnight backpacking trips! Hikers are about the nicest people you will encounter, so never hesitate to ask questions when you see one on the trail! They might have some great advice! On a second hiking trip in Wekvia with my friend Andrea and Tinsel, we ran into a group of hikers (20 or so) with about five other dogs. I was surprised to see anyone on the trail at all, let alone this group of hikers. They meet up every other week with their dogs and hike 13+ miles at Wekvia Springs State Park. The app is definitely a go-to for me, to meet up with other hikers and dog walkers.

Exploring the Orlando Neighborhood : Camping & Hiking at High Falls State Park

This week for Tinsel’s (our pup) birthday we decided to take a short weekend trip to Tallahassee. We planned on hitting up the State Capitol, The State Supreme Court House, Florida Caverns State Park and camping at Falling Waters State Park in the Panhandle.

We packed our camping gear, filled our cooler with sandwiches and started driving at 7:00am (headed from Orlando to Tallahassee). Our camping gear included our tent, two chairs, a basket full of camping supplies (lighters, candles, fire starters, food utensils) our cooler and our sleeping bags. The weather called for a VERY cold night (51 is cold for us Florida kids) – we made sure to pack an extra thick quilt too.

The drive took us about four hours and thirty minutes to reach the State Capitol Building. We stopped at this INCREDIBLE build-your-own stir fry joint downtown called 1Fresh.

Parking was a little tight at the State Capitol Building, but being around lunch time, we were able to parallel park right in front of the Capitol. Tinsel was not impressed by the building at all (but we had a great time). We visited the Florida Supreme Court House right across the street as well. Pretty neat for a quick road trip pit stop! (The stir fry was the best part though)


From the Capitol Building we started driving straight towards the Florida State Caverns Park; about a 45 minute drive. Our game plan was to explore the caves and do some light hiking to stretch our legs before we had to check into our campsite at 3:00PM. Arriving around 1:30PM; we reached the park entrance and the line of cars was out onto the main road. Waiting for about 25 minutes, the Park Ranger then informed us that they no longer allow citizens into the caves unattended but they had several “Nature Trails” we could visit – he tells us this after he takes our $5 entrance fee. He then told us the next available tour was at 3:00PM but was full……

Disappointed we decided to make the most of it and headed into the park. We followed the main road straight down to the end; where we ended up in a large open field. We got out and explored a bit; but we saw no trail heads or even remote paths to follow. Spending a few moments camped under a tree, we hoped back into the car to drive around to see if we could find anything else to do in this park.


Driving around a bit, we made it the Visitor’s Center. Boy let me tell you – there was no parking, there were people everywhere, there were dogs running around and children screaming. The “Nature Trails” (the Park Ranger told us about) was just one single ¼ mile paved loop around the Visitor’s Center….

This was a HUGE disappointment. My suggestion for next time is to go on a day that there are no crowds; call ahead to see about appointments and scheduling. There is nothing posted on the Caverns State Park site about booking a tour and is VERY misleading on the “Nature Trails.” CALL AHEAD.

We ended up staying an hour and leaving. It was a complete waste of our money and time.

Thirty minutes away from the Florida Caverns State Park was our final destination the Falling Waters State Park. We checked into our campsite a bit early around 2:30PM, set up camp and took a quite nap in our tent.

Our tiny little Coleman tent has a small tent “pop out” where the roof is mesh/see through. We normally roll out our sleeping bags under the pop out so we can see the stars as we are sleeping. (We took a long, needed nap underneath the trees)


My one complaint about Falling Waters State Park – The campsites are REALLY close together and every campsite was full. We had some troubles with our pup barking and wanting to play with the neighbors. For those of you with anxious or fearful dogs, there are two campsites along the edge of the campsite. Sites 20 & 18 are completely alone and even have a step down into the campsite; so there is more privacy.

Firewood is also available at the front entrance for $5; be sure to pick this up on your way in. The State Park does not allow you to pull wood from the surrounding forest.

We decided to forgo hiking to see the waterfall that evening; the crowds were unbelievable. We thought it would be best to hike out in the morning so we can see the sunrise through the forest. (Our best plan yet). We stayed at our campsite through the evening. I packed us fresh lemonade and adult “lunchables” (summer meats, cheeses and crackers).

Adult “lunchables” are the PERFECT road trip lunch or dinner, we pre-slice the meats and cheeses and store them in our cooler and are able to pull over quickly for a bite. Occasionally we even pop open a bottle of white wine at our campsite to enjoy with our dinner.

We also gorged ourselves on delicious dark chocolate s’mores; while our pup napped in the tent (it was a long day for her!) There are sooo many incredible options for s’more’s! My favorite includes filling up a waffle cone with bananas, dark chocolate and mini marshmallow, wrapping them in tinfoil and letting them melt over a campfire. YES PLEASE!

Besides being camped next to a family with an ungodly amount of rambunctious children; we had a beautiful night camped underneath a blanket of stars and a warm fire.


It was a rough night sleeping on the ground in our tent; we REALLY need to invest in an air mattress or sleeping pads for our next trip!

5:45AM came quicker than we imagined, we took turns using the restrooms at the campsite (surprisingly super nice bathrooms!!) and then we headed off on the trail head adjacent from our campsite. Barely light out, we took our time down the hill about a mile, when my husband took a spill down the flight of stairs. (He’s fine now) but he sprained his ankle and I had to leave to find him help. We made it back to the camp after a mile trek carrying Andrew back up the hill with the help of our camp neighbor.

Disappointed in not being able to see the caverns or the falls; I reluctantly packed up our campsite. (It is VERY exhausting packing up an entire campsite by yourself) I finally got everything packed into the car, along with my pup and my husband. We decided that we did not want to waste our five hour drive and we wanted to see the falls. I parked our car near the playgrounds at the end of the main road and my husband used my trekking poles to walk himself down to the waterfall. (What a champ! I KNOW)

Parked in the lot we headed straight down the main path towards the waterfall; just about 100 steps down a paved walkway and two flights of stairs down. We made it and it was INCREDIBLE. Water was falling off the side of a cliff into a 100 foot deep sink hole! It was just breath taking; there were no crowds of people or dogs and there was no noise other than the water falling into the well. Absolutely worth the trip!


Although my husband ended up getting hurt and we missed out on seeing the caverns; we still had an unbelievable road trip. I will defiantly be camping here again in the fall!