Monday, August 24, 2015

Favorite Orlando, FL Spots

Monday, August 24, 2015

1,000 miles later, we're in our new fair city! Previously, I posted an entry of our last year in our downtown Orlando house. And now, through our years in Winter Park, then Thornton Park, and now in Wicker Park, I'm including the top Orlando spots that I will miss dearly. I find some of these to be the best kept secrets of Central Florida.

Also, there are only two days left for you to enter to win a pair of glasses from! See my giveaway here.


East End Market | This indoor market is my favorite place to spend a weekend afternoon. We love getting a beer or glass of wine here, then shopping for sandwiches or cheese to bring home, or sitting outside listening to an acoustic musician. There's a fabulous coffee roaster, Lineage, and my favorite garden shop, Porch Therapy. There's also the 7-seat Japanese restaurant in this market that is always busy so I've never been able to eat there! It's called Kappo and the chefs prepare the food right in front of you, and each dish is meticulously constructed with care [and sometimes tweezers].

Orange Tree Antiques Mall | This is the antique shop that S and I have been shopping at for years. It's made up of little booths, each one with it's own style. We've found many treasures here. There's affordable furniture, mid-century kitchen wares, and all the way in the back there is a room full of vinyl records. Each record is $5 and these days, it's organized by genre. Records used to be piled high and hidden low under tables, uncategorized, making the hunt half the fun.

Adjectives Market | This is a newer antique shop that we go to. It's called a market because this one is also made up of different vendor booths. A year or two ago we found an orange Plycraft chair there, and we bought it as an anniversary gift to each other. There's also a vendor that mounts taxidermy insects, so of course, we love to see what new bugs are in.

Curio Curiosity Shoppe | This shop is smaller than my second bedroom, and it's very dimly lit, like a closet full of treasures. S has found many rare items here, including an old Chinese opium pipe that a woman had to sell to them because she was moving back to China, where it's illegal to even own an opium pipe. S never bought it because it was a little more expensive than we wanted to spend for an item that we would never use, it would just sit on our shelf. After a year of thinking about it, S went back to the shop to finally buy it, because he always remembered it. When he went in, the shop owner said that he sold it not even an hour before. Like I said before, the hunt is one of the most enjoyable parts of antiquing.

Edge Salon Oviedo | I've worked at a few different salons as a hairstylist while getting my college degree. I still have my hair license and out of all the salons I've worked at, the one stylist I continue to go to is Connie at Edge Salon. She is an American Board Certified Colorist and taught me everything I know. She is a scientist with chemicals and a magician with styling. Other salons where I know the hairstylists and know how wonderfully talented they are include Bekka at Trim Salon and Spa, and Didi at Atelier Salon and Studio.


Ravenous Pig | Our favorite restaurant, where we ate many a monumental and memorable meal like the night we got engaged. Not only was it the best meal of our lives (I sincerely mean that) but that night topped all other nights because during our port wine night cap back at our apartment, S proposed.

Sapporo Ramen | This is the only place I have found in Orlando to get a good bowl of ramen! I like to get a hard-boiled egg in mine, as well as a side of takoyaki (fried octopus). It gets busy on weekends, so we try to arrive as soon as they open.

Prato | This is my other favorite restaurant, and this one's menu is Italian.  They have the best pizza pie in Orlando called the Widowmaker - so good it can kill a man. There's an egg in the middle and it comes out hot from the pizza oven in the restaurant, the egg perfectly runny for dipping by the crust in. There's also other amazing dishes like stuffed squash blossoms, beef carpaccio, and they make all of their pasta noodles in house. Heaven!

Chuan Lu | Hand. Pulled. Noodles. Yes! There an amazing dish called Dan Dan with pork and the noodles. It's incredibly savory and has a particular kind of spiciness to it that is almost like licking a 9-volt battery. It's amazing, trust me. Also, szechuan wontons. Theirs are buttery and spicy, and absolutely melt-in-your-mouth.

Nile Ethiopian Cuisine | Hidden in the touristy area of I-Drive (near the theme parks) is this fantastic Ehtiopian restaurant were you can sit inside a little hut, around a small table, eating with your hands and sharing a delicious meal with friends.

Infusion Tea | One of my favorite places to go out for lunch during the work week. I love getting 1/2 a roasted pear and balsamic salad with 1/2 of a goat cheese panini. My favorite tea here is the Genmaicha, which is a green tea and little pieces of roasted brown rice. The flavor of the brown rice makes it taste a bit like popcorn! So wonderful.

Se7en Bites | For years that S and I have lived in Orlando, we did not had a good breakfast place. Only recently did we try this place for Sunday brunch and I am so sad that I've been missing out all of these years! Every time I go my meal gets better and better. Also, in addition to walking away with a belly-full of delicious breakfast, we always walk away with a dessert from their display for later. Every single dessert has been better than the next!

Ceviche Tapas | We also visit the St. Petersburg, FL location which is on the water, but I love the Orlando location for it's downtown/lively atmosphere. I love their red wine sangria, and their plate of house-cured ham and cheeses. Everything is small plates so it's perfect for sharing and nibbling. My favorite kind of meals are made up of courses, filling up on different things rather than one large portion of the same dish.

Stardust Coffee and Video | This has been a staple to Orlando since before I started college here. It started as a coffee shop and VHS/DVD rental place for independent and hard-to-find films. Slowly, they converted the film section into more seating and a bar. At night, they have great events like local music shows and poetry slams. During the day, it was always a great place to study for exams together. The photobooth still remains, and we have many strips from that booth.

Pom Pom's Teahouse and Sandwicheria | There is a sandwich here called Mama Ling Ling's Thanksgiving sandwich. Mashed potatoes and gravy on a turkey sandwich? Always. The Fu Man Chu sandwich is also a favorite here. Plus, on weekends this place is 24 hours. There were many college nights that we would go here with friends.


Hansons Shoe Repair | This is a true speak-easy where you have to know the password in order to get in. Even if you know the password, finding it can be sort of tricky because you need to know where to go. It is actually up three flights, inside of another bar. Hands down, the best cocktail in Orlando is made here by the bartender Rene. It's called an English Channel made with gin, vermouth, orange bitters, and the glasses is rinsed with cynar - an artichoke liquor.

The Courtesy Bar | Also another great cocktail bar. Plus, how can  you beat $4 wines during happy hour? They update their cocktails every season, and they even serve absinthe with a chilled water drip over a sugar cube on a slotted spoon.

The Woods | Another cocktail bar, and I like to think of their cocktails as a little heartier. It's an upstairs bar on the main downtown strip so you can quietly look over the crowds if you snag a window seat. Not sure if they still do this, but onWednesdays  they serve a slice of crispy bacon with your cocktail.

Wall St | This is where we go to meet a huge group of friends for events like Halloween and St Pattys day. We bar hop and the street is closed off, making it a festive and lively time. We ALWAYS make sure to Uber home after an evening of bacchanal on Wall St.


Downtown Thornton Park | I've written a detailed post on our little neighborhood near downtown Orlando. We love everything from the monthly wine and art walks to the tree-lined streets to the French bakery on the corner. We are close to the action like the downtown strip, but also a few minutes closer to old family homes and the weekly farmers market.

Famers Market | So many market here's! Our favorites are Winter Park, Lake Eola, and Lake Lilly. We live a few blocks away from the Lake Eola market where there's vendors, live music, and endless mimosas. However, we have a soft spot for Lake Lily's market because it calm, shaded, lots of favorite vendors like Olde Hearth Bread Company (their fig and anise baguette is incredible!) and the super affordable produce guy. Lastly, we do love Winter Park's farmers market because we rented that building for our wedding, an old train depot with market lights. It is a very special place to us. Before I moved to Orlando I would visit S and he would always take me to that market on Saturday mornings for us to walk aimlessly, share a bagel, drink some fresh-squeezed lemonade, and just enjoy what would be my future home.

Winter Park's Christmas in the Park | Of all the holiday events, this is the one S and I make sure to attend every single year. The city lights up Tiffany windows from the local Morse Museum. The historic Casa Feliz house serves cookies and has an open-house. We grab decadent hot cocoa from Barneys and we listen to the choir and carolers on the stage. Families set up elaborate picnics with chairs, tables, candles, and bottles of wine. A simple blanket or even just a walk through the park, it's enjoyable no matter how you do it.

Timucua White House | For music events, this is the place. This is actually a residential house, built for acoustics. The owners are very much involved in the music scene and built a room in their house with a stage and a spiral staircase that goes up three floors of seating. Different performances have different admission prices, but sometimes you can bring a bottle of wine to share or a plate of food to share as admission.

Flying Horse Editions | Our friend works here and actually printed our wedding invitations on these very presses! A few times a year they host a Letterpress Happy Hour where you enjoy some drinks, you're given pre-designed and pre-printed cards, you just pick the letters for the inside phrase. The staff shows you how to operate the press yourself!

Lastly, Orlando Science Center | I've learned everything I know from this museum and it's events department. From our beautiful outdoor terrace with market lights, to our dinosaur exhibit that I know so well that I could navigate it in the dark (and I have), to our observatory with the largest refractory telescope in Florida, this place has been my second home for the majority that I've lived in Orlando. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Giveaway: Firmoo Glasses

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's the weekend! That means I'll be unpacking all of my belongings into our new home, and hopefully I can enjoy Chicago for the first time as an official resident before I start my new job on Monday! So for you, while I'm away, I have a giveaway!

I already have a few pairs of Firmoo glasses, and I am always so pleased with the quality of them for the great price. I have a pair of my go-to glasses for work, but on weekends and during travel, I love having different options to wear. Firmoo kindly reached out allowing one of you to win a FREE pair of glasses from their Collection For Bloggers. Glasses include the frames and standard 1.50 index single vision lenses. Upgraded lenses and add-ons are available for an extra fee.

I love tortoiseshell glasses so much that I have multiple pairs and always travel with a backup pair in case I lose or break my glasses on vacation. I once tried on a clear pair of glasses, and they looked so chic, like I was wearing glass, and it really brightened up my face. The best of both worlds would be these combination clear and tortie shells! Even if you don't wear prescription glasses, you can always get a pair of sunglasses from this trendy collection. 

Rules for the giveaway:
  1. Visit and like the Firmoo Facebook page
  2. Follow the Firmoo Twitter page
  3. Leave a comment about what glasses you would pick from the Collection for Bloggers
  4. Follow Tender Roots blog on Instagram
  5. Bonus entries for following me along on Bloglovin', Facebook, and Twitter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open until August 27th. Good luck!
Update - The winner has been chosen randomly via Rafflecopter! Samantha, if you didn't receive an email, please reach out to me via email at tenderrootsblog(@) Congrats!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Leaving Orlando Behind

Friday, August 14, 2015

Didn't it seem like yesterday when we were packing to move into our house in downtown Orlando? And here we are, an entire year later, packing up to move out of state. We never even got to paint! We joke that we should finally do that, since we've wanted to for so long. And it will be great because we'll already have the drop cloths out in order to re-paint it back to the neutral beige.

I took these photos for our realtor to list our current house. She's been the most helpful with giving us great reviews for all the applications we put in on apartments in Chicago. There were no photos of our house when we first decided to go to the open house, we took a chance on "great downtown location!" and "hardwood floors!" I figured, having photos would make it that much more desirable for potential tenants looking online.

Orlando has been very good to us. We've had great jobs, a lovely home, a retired greyhound to call our own, some great restaurants and bars, and incredible friends and coworkers to enjoy it all with. And of course, there's each other. We met in Orlando, grew up in Orlando, explored Orlando, and now it's sadly time to say goodbye. This weekend is going to be spent putting our items in boxes, getting together one last time with friends, and trying not to get overwhelmed.

Today is my last day working at my current museum, and after this, I have one business day to get my necessary documents from the local DMV, transfer prescriptions, change bank accounts, etc. Last year when we moved, we had very little to change within the same city. This year, it's a world of difference (1,000 miles to be exact). I'm learning so many things about Chicago in the process of moving, as well as from all the books I'm reading (currently, Devil in the White City, where a serial killer in Chicago set in the turn of the century, 1893's World's Fair). I was never sure when I would be ready for such a big change like this, but knowing all of our opportunity that awaits 1,000 miles away, every bureaucratic headache is worth it in between. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3 Essential Apps for Living in Chicago

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Transitioning to a new city is never easy, especially when the city is so different from what you’re used to! Often we need all the help we can get in getting to know this new place, and so we ask local friends, consult maps and travel guides, and take the time to explore the city before we actually move.

Thankfully, however, there are several different apps that can help you not just explore Chicago, but live in the city, without fear of getting lost. We’re not just talking about how some of Chicago's major news outlets are already hard at work developing and releasing mobile apps so readers and viewers can stay in touch with local news. As the owners of mobile gaming portal Iceland Bingo have said, growth in mobile internet is among the strongest trends on the internet landscape today, and more and more people are relying on their phones for easier access to information. This has given rise to apps that put a wealth of information in the travelers’ hands, including:

1. iTrans Chicago CTA Not everyone drives in a big city, and those who want to take advantage of Chicago’s public transportation system can make use of iTrans Chicago CTA, a handy app that gives you easy access to train schedules and train stations so you never get lost while taking the train again. It includes live departure times, easy transfers, and alerts you of service disruptions, all on the go!

2. GrubHub Having been established in Chicago, GrubHub is perhaps the most useful when trying to get takeout or delivery from within the city. All you need to do is input your address, and a list of nearby restaurants will show up. You can then order food right from the app itself, or go out and visit the place – useful options for people who have just moved to the city. The delivery option is most useful in the winter when it's too cold to go out for a quick dinner.

3. Chicago Free & Frugal They say that the best things in life are free, and that’s probably most true for Chicago, with its wealth of museums and art shows. Chicago Free & Frugal puts together a list of all the great sights that can be seen and experiences that can be had for cheap, or for free! It’s one of the few apps you’ll ever need to be able to see Chicago.

This post was contributed by an affiliate. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own. Please see more about my disclosure policy here.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

On Moving, Packing, Purging

Sunday, August 02, 2015

It really sucks to feel in limbo. It's not feeling at home in your own home, knowing that you have another home, miles away. Home normally makes me feel so relaxed and at ease, so comforted. But now, now that I know my home is no longer going to be my home, I feel restless and uneasy. There is always so much to do. Knowing that I don't yet live in my new home, I'm feeling in between.

My mom visited me over the weekend while S was in Chicago scoping out our new apartment and exploring the city with his brother. My mom brought boxes, tape, bubble wrap, everything you need to start packing. We packed some of the dining room, office, and living room like books and art on the walls. Thankfully we didn't pack too much away, or else I would feel like I was trapped in a box for the last few weeks of us living here. There are enough of our favorite items and favorite books still out to enjoy.

While S was in Chicago, he visited our new apartment and filmed a walk through for me. Being that we only saw cell phone photos of our new home, and that I can't see the apartment until we arrive with a truck packed with all of our belongings, it was so comforting to have S film walking through the entire space. I create event layouts at work and I design Sims 4 houses at home, so understanding a good floor plan is important to me. And finally, it feels as though it's coming together, one box at a time.

Isn't everyone purging these days? My friend joked that this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has recently broken the internet. Everyone is reading it and everyone is purging. Well, I was planning to purge before I even knew of the books existence. Once I knew that we were moving and since we moved into our current house one year ago, my plan was to donate anything that we have not touched in this last year. It's really easy actually. There are books stuffed into boxes, DVDs piled in trunks, video games unplayed, and trinkets collecting dust in corners. My philosophy was to get rid of anything that we have not used in the last twelve months since we've moved. My exceptions were for items that still brought me joy (very much like the philosophy from the book). 

One Christmas, in the beginning when S and I were still getting to know each other, when we were still in college, when our future was very bright and very unknown, I bought S a beautiful easel from his favorite art store. It folds up into a case that can be carried, and it's legs extend like spiders. It's face expands to hug the largest of canvasses. It's a lovely light wood with compartments for paint and a palette that fits inside. These days, it's been collecting dust, unused, closed up for the past year. There's paint marks on the edges, dirt in the hinges, the metal screws are discolored, it's worn and loved and absolutely gorgeous. Seeing it still brings me joy. The years of scratches and paints reminds me of all of our apartments that we've lived in together, all of the times S met me between classes at college, all of the times we changed jobs, and everything in between. So it stays, some other things go, making room for more things to love in the future, more memories to make in our new home.

Moving is stressful, purging is overwhelming, and packing is tedious, but there's no one else I'd rather do it all with. 
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