Healthy Living

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Rice Recipe

Pumpkin season is upon us! Although it certainly doesn’t feel like fall here in Florida, we still enjoy the change of seasons. By now you have probably seen a lot about pumpkin spice. We wanted a quick and easy way to add pumpkin to a meal, and decided to add it to rice! If you love pumpkin, this is a great way to get your pumpkin fix.
autumn pumpkin rice recipe

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Cruising

Top 10 Tips for First Time Cruisers

Top 10 Tips For First Time Cruisers!

10. Fly in the night before to be on the safe side. It will give you more of a cushion in case of weather delays, lost luggage, etc.

9. If traveling abroad, look into an international call package before leaving (contact your cell provider for suggestions)

8. Stay on board on one of the Port Days. That ship will be less crowded and you can enjoy the onboard amenities and maybe have the hot tub to yourself!

7. Make reservations ahead of time for spa treatments and special dining options.

6. Pre-book special Shore Excursions before the cruise. The ones you want may be sold out once you get onboard.

5. Skip the elevator and take the stairs (if possible). This way you can burn off some of those extra vacation calories.

4. Pay attention to the time when going ashore. You don’t want to miss the ship because you didn’t realize you were in a different time zone!

3. Bring a small duffle bag or carry-on bag for the first day of arrival onboard with incidentals that you may need for those first few hours, like your bathing suit and a change of clothing. Usually your staterooms will not be ready when you first get onboard and luggage can sometimes take several hours to be delivered.

2. Bring your important documents (passport or birth certificate, visas, credit cards). Check and double check with the ship for individual requirements. You will not be allowed onboard without these!

1. Enjoy every moment! The days go by very fast on a cruise and soon you will be back to reality.

What tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

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Top 10 Tips for First Time Cruisers

Canoe Florida Fall Foliage
USA Travel

Fall Foliage in…Florida?!

Fall Foliage in Florida?!

We are starting to feel cooler breezes reminiscent of fall. Of course, this is Florida so that means a drop in humidity…not temperature!  Obviously Florida is not the first place that comes to mind when you think Fall Foliage.  When living in Chicago, Fall Foliage meant a weekend trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to see the beautiful leaves turning colors and hiking around the lake for the final time before winter.  Living in Florida, the colors are subdued but there is foliage nonetheless changing into muted hues of yellow, orange and red.  Fall colors can be seen on such trees as Cypress, Red Maple and Sorrel trees among others.  Since the evenings do not cool off until well into October/November, the leaves tend to change colors here sporadically and not until long after northern leaf changes have peaked.

Torreya State Park Fall Foliage

Torreya State Park – from floridastateparks.org

The Traveling Gals Tip:  Try something new and view foliage while canoeing!                                    

The panhandle and northern Florida are the best for viewing in places like Torreya State Park. This is a wonderful place for hiking, fishing, etc. and you can even spend the night camping or rent a yurt!  The stretch along I-75 north of Tampa is surprising hilly and can display a multitude of color, at least by Florida’s measures.  The I-10 corridor through the panhandle can some deeper hued color changes especially in the most northernmost part of the state.  Although Florida is not a conventional choice for Fall Foliage, it is a wonderful time of year in the Sunshine State to get out and experience nature.  If that is not enough for you…you can always travel!!!

Canoe Florida Fall Foliage

photo via Flickr user LOLren

Where are your favorite places to see Fall Foliage? Let us know in the comments!

Tofu Shrimp
Healthy Living

Grilled Sweet + Sour Tofu “Shrimp” Recipe from Australia

I am always looking for ways to take great recipes and make them healthy.  This adaptation is from the Grilled Shrimp served at the Australia booth in this year’s Food & Wine Festival.  All the ingredients are healthy and while I will eat seafood on rare occasion, I wanted to try an alternative.  I did a lot of research and found that tofu can be a viable alternative. I have never worked with tofu, but now is the time to give it a try.

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Alesund, Norway
World Travel

Norway: Land of the Midnight Sun

Norway is known for its world famous fjords, majestic mountains and spectacular glaciers.  Norway encompasses a beauty so stunning it almost does not feel real.  The other two gals and I were lucky to visit Norway as part of a trip to Northern Europe.  We visited Bergen, Alesund and Geiranger.  Cruising the fjords to Geiranger felt like I was part of a movie.  The scenery was unbelievable.  When we arrived at the bottom of Geiranger fjord we embarked on the most memorable hike of our lives so far. The climb to the top was steep and physically demanding, but entirely worth it.  You could drink the crisp, cool glacial water streaming the waterfalls.  The view from top evoked a feeling that our small group was the only people in the world.  It was July so it was misty, but warm enough to wear pants and a light jacket.  The hike down was the most treacherous part as the mist created a slide of mud and foliage.  It was thrilling, exhilarating and unforgettable.

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Nangodi, Ghana
World Travel

5 Things I Learned Traveling Through Ghana

While I was in school I had the opportunity to travel through the beautiful country of Ghana. I visited Accra, Kumasi, and Bolgatanga. I also crossed the border into Burkina Faso. If you don’t know where any of these places are, it’s okay. They are not well known countries. While I was going through airport security the TSA officer had never even heard of Accra. I hope to inspire some to at least learn more about Ghana and its culture!

This trip quickly became one of the most interesting I have ever been on. Traveling through a developing country, meeting and working with locals, and really getting to experience a culture is a truly remarkable experience.

[Read next: Ghana In Pictures; 10 Things To Do In Accra, Ghana]

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Healthy Living

Vegetable Moroccan Tagine Recipe

Inspired by a visit to North Africa and of course, my countless visits to the Moroccan pavilion at EPCOT I have always been curious about cooking in a tagine.  Thanks to my wonderfully thoughtful daughter, I now have the opportunity!  She gave me this beautiful tagine for my birthday purchased from Sur La Table.  For those not familiar, a tagine is a ceramic or clay slow-cooking pot popular in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The bottom is a wide, circular shallow dish used for both cooking and serving, while the top of the tagine is distinctively shaped into a rounded cone.  Tagines are traditionally heated over charcoal and eaten communally.  Diners gather around the tagine and eat by hand using pieces of bread to scoop up the vegetable and sauce.

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USA Travel

Top 3 Must-Do’s in Sarasota, FL

We moved from Chicago to Sarasota about 6 years ago. Although we love the big city, we hate cold weather and were looking for a change of scenery. While Sarasota may not be on your radar when you think of Florida, this small city has a lot to offer! If you are planning a trip to this coast of Florida, you definitely should make a stop here. Check out our top 3 things you should in Sarasota.

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