Ah, romance. It might surprise you that this true crime loving feminist is a sucker for a good chick flick but, alas, I’m multifaceted. Growing up I lived for the in depth story lines I’d create for my Barbie dolls and doodled my crushes’ names in my notebook at school. I have a running list of names I’d like to name my children (I should be more embarrassed than I am to admit it’s three pages long), and I’m a big fan of how Kait and Ken sound together.
When my momma shared her love of Julia Roberts with me, something inside me just related with her characters. She was quirky, beautiful, quick witted and introspective. As a young woman, her films bridged the gap of romance between Beauty and the Beast to Sleeping with the Enemy. Maybe that’s why all these years later I never tire of watching the same Julia movies over and over – especially in February.
I know Valentine’s Day is a holiday created by Hallmark but hear me out: what’s wrong with taking an extra day to make sure the people you love are celebrated? Whether you’re celebrating with your lover, your girlfriends, or your family, a Julia Roberts movie is the perfect flick to bring your night full circle. To prove my point she’s the universal choice for movie night: even my husband loves Eat Pray Love!
What are your favorite movies to watch on Valentine’s Day? I’d love to hear your recs!
Brick City Food Tours is an idea that was born out of a search on Airbnb on a weekday afternoon. I was feeling uninspired and dreaming of the day I found *the* thing that would light my fire.
I searched Airbnb Experiences, curious about what adventures or classes were offered in Ocala. It honestly surprised me when I saw there wasn’t much available. That’s when it hit me; my husband, Kendrick, and I went on a food tour in Chicago before we moved back to Ocala and absolutely loved it.
Why couldn’t there be one in Ocala? The economy is growing, families are moving here and there are new restaurants popping up all over downtown. Residents and guests are excited about seeing Ocala gain businesses similar to other Florida hubs like Orlando or Tampa. In short, there’s never been a better time to start.
I’ve lived in Ocala for half a decade and through my work with nonprofits and artists have come to appreciate the downtown food scene, as well as the history that surrounds it. I’m passionate about sharing the unique cuisines, crafted by talented local chefs, that make Ocala’s downtown eateries worth exploring.
What is Brick City Food Tours?
Uncover a vast spectrum of cooking styles in Ocala’s historic downtown. Your guided Brick City Food Tour visits 5 sit down tasting locations in the downtown neighborhood. Between samples, your informative guides (Kendrick and I) will share their experience of local customs, historic stories and specialty shops. This walking tour is ideal for Ocala residents and travelers eager to discover the culinary secrets and traditions that compose the horse capitol of the world. Whether you’re vacationing in Ocala for the first time or a long-time resident, you’re sure to walk away with a greater understanding of the geographic history and culinary techniques of the city.
Where You’ll Be
We’ll most likely visit Sayulita Taqueria (Mexican street food), Ivy on the Square (southern delicacies), Ocala’s Chocolate and Confections (the finest European chocolate), Pi on Broadway (gourmet pizzas and tapas), and Feta Mediterranean Cuisine (generational Greek tapas). However, we could do a slightly different version of this tour, depending on the weather and availability of the restaurant.
What Are People Saying?
“I cannot recommend this tour enough! It really showed off the diverse cuisine options all in walking distance in downtown Ocala. There really is something for everybody! Even as a local, I got to taste items off the menus I hadn’t had before that were so delicious I plan on going back and ordering again. I also enjoyed learning more about Ocala from the awesome tour guides. This was a great way to spend an afternoon, and my husband & I left full and happy!” – Brittany
“The Brick City Food Tour was a great experience. The food selections were great and the tour/learning about some of the history of downtown Ocala made the experience worthwhile. Enjoyed being able to connect and get to know the other members of the tour group. Thanks Brick City Food Tour for a great experience. Would highly recommend to others and will definitely make it a point to do it again!” – Justin
“I loved the day and enjoyed the experience! Was introduced to several places that I had not dined in before but will make a trip back to in the future.” – Michele
How Can You Support Us?
Book a tour here! With a maximum of 10 people per tour, it’s the perfect way to experience downtown Ocala and hopefully make a few friends along the way. The tours run from 2 PM – 5 PM, so it’s great for a fun afternoon adventure or a unique way to show out of town guests your city. We even do private tours for birthdays or corporate outings!
If you aren’t a foodie, you can still support us! Please share with your friends and family, spreading the word about our passion. Thank you in advance for supporting us, Ocala!
Let’s get real. You, like so many others, waited until the last minute to find a Halloween costume. It’s almost too late to order anything from Amazon and your local Halloween store is bare racks.
Instead of freaking out, take these four steps:
Get outfit inspiration ideas from this post.
Check Facebook Marketplace for local costumes sold by your neighbors.
Use the Amazon Prime your aunt pays for and get a costume shipped to you in 2 days.
If steps 1-3 have failed you, hit up Walmart or Goodwill and put together an easy DIY costume.
I’ve done the first part for you – check out my favorite easy, last minute costumes here:
Space Jam Lola Bunny and Bugs Bunny
All you need is the jersey (I got ours from Ebay), white basketball shorts, triple stripe socks and bunny ears. Lucky for you, I’m selling ours on Facebook Marketplace here and here.
Contestants from The Bachelor
Y’all know I love the Bachelor and all things Bachelor-adjacent. Slip on the bridesmaid dress that lives in the back of your closet and carry around a rose. Don’t forget the two drinks per hour limit!
At this point, everyone should own this pair of Spanx faux leather leggings, right? Throw on an oversized pink button down, a cute pair of sunnies, a bandana and you’re ready for action!
Full disclosure, I still may rock this at work on Halloween. It’s tasteful, super cute and only requires a pair of wings from your local Walmart.
“Regina George… How do I begin to explain Regina George? I hear her hair’s insured for $10,000.” Cut out holes in a tee and confidently rock that look.
80s Workout Diva
Channel your inner Jamie Lee Curtis and SWEAT! This is a perfect example of an easy DIY from Walmart or Goodwill. Biker shorts are back in style and every Goodwill I’ve ever been to carries a fanny pack and a windbreaker.
Who doesn’t want to ride a horse at the party? This pony and cowgirl accessories are easy to find at your local Walmart in the toys section!
I saw a girl dressed as this in college and I’ve envied her ever since. It requires a little DIY, but if you’re someone who would rock this you probably have some extra duct tape lying around, anyway.
If you went to Coachella this year you already have this outfit, so why not rock it twice?
Dancing Women Wearing Bunny Ears Emoji
Grab your go-to little black dress, a pair of bunny ears and your BFF!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about December, when the traffic is life sucking and the weather makes you wonder why you ever leave the house.
The most wonderful time of the year is actually October. The Florida weather is starting to cool, just enough to begin layering fall fashion – the best fashion.
In Ocala, festivals start popping up around town and everyone is in the mood for a pumpkin spice latte. This year, there are some particularly interesting events and activities happening in Marion County. Here are some of my favorites:
This downtown event happens every month September – May, but October is particularly special. The theme for this month’s Art Walk is Day of the Dead and Coco is playing in Citizen’s Circle, so it’s the perfect start to spooky season. Enjoy live music, local art lining the streets and extended shopping hours.
Beer, brats, live music, axe throwing – what more could you want? Oktoberfest in Tuscawilla Park is presented by the Reilly Arts Center (love them), and this year they’ve rented a giant tent so rain won’t dampen the day.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Kait, what white nonsense is this? I love crafting and I don’t have kids, but I might borrow one so I can seem normal while I participate in broom making. Also, I’m envisioning the scene from Hocus Pocus where they jump on their brooms (or vacuum) and sing their hearts out, and I’m vibing with the idea of making my own.
I’ve never been to this event, let alone the fort, but this is one of the events I’m most looking forward to this month! I’m a sucker for spooky stories and supporting local events – it seems like the perfect way to get into the spooky spirit.
Maybe what I’m most excited about this month is After Dark in the Park showing Hocus Pocus. My mom is driving from Williston to attend this event with me, and you better believe I’ll be singing, “Come Little Children,” on my broom from the broom making class.
I should probably take Karen and Georgia’s advice and Stay Out of the Forest, but I’ll definitely be checking out this free haunted wooded trail. I’m no fan of Halloween Horror Nights or intense haunted houses, but the description says the earlier you attend the less spooky, so I’ll be there with all the 12-year-olds.
If you’re a creative like me, you’ll love the Ocala Arts Festival. This festival essentially shuts down downtown traffic and fills the streets with art ranging from abstract to sculpture for the weekend. The artists are with their pieces, so it’s really interesting to be able to ask them about their work.
I grew up attending this festival with my family, so it’s near to my heart. There are a ton of great vendors and I wait all year to stock up on my favorite goodies. This is where I find my favorite candied jalapenos that pair perfectly with cream cheese on a Ritz cracker. The food trucks are amazing and the antiques for sale are always top notch.
I’m not typically a fan of 5k/10k activities (don’t sign me up for cardio), but this one includes a Boo and Brew element! The race will have food trucks, live music and a costume contest. I may or may not have to convince my husband to dress up like the Flash.
Now let’s get out there, wrap ourselves in layers and embrace the most wonderful time the year!
I hate all foods that are not served at their proper temperature: pizza should be served hot, salad served cold and I will not touch a Vienna Sausage with a ten foot pole.
That being said, hurricanes are a STRUGGLE for me. Everyone is running around yelling, “HUNKER DOWN! STOCK UP ON WATER AND NONPERISHABLES!”
Do you know what they mean by non-perishables? Non-edible food. They’re talking canned tuna, uncooked black beans and peanut butter sandwiches. I’m allergic to peanut butter, so the only edible option is now ruled out.
I would make myself a tasty salad, but once the seal on the refrigerator is broken, my once prized sauces and veggies are turned to smelly mush.
This leaves me with a dilemma. Do I starve or gag while eating? Thankfully, I’ve thought up some healthy options that don’t make me want to run out into the storm.
My Healthy Hurricane Shopping List
Think the crispy part of an apple crisp. These babies pack a flavorful punch without all the calories. Beware: portion control, because I have been known to eat an entire bag in one sitting.
Full disclosure I haven’t tried these yet. They spoke to me in the chips aisle and white cheddar has never let me down. Will report back.
These come in a ton of great flavors and they’ve never let me down. Larabar is known for having limited ingredients so you know what you’re putting in your body.
Need I say more? Golden Delicious apples are from God and last on the shelf long enough for a hurricane to pass.
Hear me out on these. I know I said canned tuna is disgusting and I stand by that statement. These, however, come pre-flavored and have very little smell to them. They even have a little spoon in the lid so you don’t have to dirty a fork!
My husband picked up whole grain bread for the weekend, but I’m definitely allergic to peanut butter. This sunflower butter tastes just as good and doesn’t make me break out while a storm is raging outside.
If you know anything about me you know this: I love true crime. The maid of honor at my wedding even brought it up during her speech – and reminded my new husband of my extensive detective knowledge.
In recent years I’ve narrowed the scope of my consumption to something easier to devour: podcasts. From the grandfather of true crime podcasts i.e., Serial, to chilling cases like COLD, if you can name it I’ve probably listened to it.
These are what I consider the greatest hits of true crime podcasts, perfect for getting in a spine-chilling mood this fall:
By far my favorite podcast OF ALL TIME. MFM (My Favorite Murder) was my gateway drug into true crime podcasts. What I love most about MFM are the hosts, Karen and Georgia, who every week tell each other about a murder that interests them. Listening to them gives me the same feeling I get when I call my best friend to divulge the details of a gruesome case I just read about in the paper – might not have all the details or pronunciations correct, but it sure as hell is going to be entertaining.
I love these ladies so much I made a trip to Atlanta for a live show at the Fox Theatre and am a proud member of their fan cult. I even wear a Murderino shirt around town and don’t pay any attention to the strange looks I’m given. I guess you could say we’re going steady.
The Tara Grinstead case is fascinating and deeply disturbing. Tara was a beauty queen, teacher and small town girl – not unlike a lot of women from my hometown. The idea that she went missing without a trace and her killer went free for more than 10 years speaks to the investigation done on this case prior to Payne Lindsey’s (podcast host) examination.
What sets this podcast apart is the ending: they break the case wide open.
Remember the Black Dahlia case? Of course you do. Everyone does. This podcast explores the family dynamics of the suspected Black Dahlia murderer and it left me thinking this is definitely the guy.
Warning: if you’re queasy beware. This podcast goes deep into the details of the murder and autopsy, including the torture that was inflicted upon Elizabeth Short.
Root of Evil, paired with its tv counterpart, I Am The Night, delves into the man behind one of the most infamous murder cases in US history. Both are good, but I’d recommend listening to the podcast before watching the show (if you haven’t seen it already). Directed by Patty Jenkins (director of Wonder Woman) and starring Chris Pine, it’s an eerie piece of television that lends itself more to creative direction.
Let’s sit crooked and talk straight: this podcast is raw and raunchy. Marcus Parks is SO GREAT at researching cases and all the guys riff constantly. Their multi-part series are what keep me coming back despite the vulgar humor which is comparable to a Will Ferrell movie and sometimes causes me to shift uncomfortably (especially the Albert Fish series).
That being said, this podcast provides very detailed information with a solid foundation of humor. Their Jonestown series BLEW MY MIND and included recordings from Jim Jones himself. These guys are my fillers when I’m waiting on new MFM episodes and I don’t regret it one bit.
You know what I love? Cold Cases. You know what I love more? Cold Cases that are cracked by a librarian turned internet sleuth.
Bear Brook tells the untold story of barrels filled with bodies found in the Bear Brook woods. More than 30 years later, the case takes a surprising turn and is finally solved using familial genealogy. I never saw this ending coming and that’s why it rounds out my podcast greatest hits.
What are your podcast greatest hits and which do you think I should add to my list? Tell me in the comments!
Wedding season is right around the corner and with engagements come wedding party proposals!
When it comes to wedding party proposals – whether it be bridesmaid proposals or groomsman proposals (yes, it’s a thing and my husband was VERY into it), a customized box is the way to go.
I wanted to go big, but knowing my budget, needed a way to keep the costs low. I was inspired by this post to do something more elaborate than a greeting card, but less elaborate than a candy butterfly that melts to reveal the invitation (yes it exists, no I could not justify it).
I started with a memory box from Michael’s, which regularly go on sale. They were being shipped all over the US, so I purchased butcher paper and paper shreds to line the bottom of the boxes and keep the items from moving in transit.
I designed the actual invite in InDesign, detailing the date, location and some more information. Kendrick and his friends are really into How I Met Your Mother, so I designed his boxes to fit that theme. If design isn’t your thing, you can also use Canva (it’s a free design website that provides easy to use templates).
Groomsman Proposal Boxes
What You’ll Need:
Miniature Liquor Bottle (custom to what each groomsman prefers)
Kendrick’s friends are your typical Georgia fraternity guys. When I showed him my Pinterest ideas, he wanted a mix of a couple options. We visited a local smoke shop to choose cigars that fit the wedding color scheme and chose to include each man’s liquor of choice. He also loved the idea of keeping it southern, so we added in a Mason jar for good measure.
After we had all the supplies, assembly was simple. I used a glue stick to adhere the invitation to the inside of the box and wrote each groomsman’s name on the top in a calligraphy style.
Bridesmaid Proposal Boxes
What You’ll Need:
I was much more detailed with the bridesmaid boxes, because I’ve only been dreaming about getting married since forever. Really, I’m the girl who had a Pinterest wedding board in college when I didn’t have any idea who the groom would be.
For the ladies, I visited Ocala’s local farmer’s market to pick up my favorite soy candles. They’re so fragrant and last forever, plus everyone loves candles. I visited Ulta to find a nail color (Essie gel) that fit our color scheme and included it to give the box a pop of color.
I knew I wanted to include wedding day robes, so I researched texture, color and style. They’re surprisingly pretty expensive, but I found beautiful robes on Etsy that fit the vibe perfectly. (Word to the wise these robes have a blue hue in their photos but actually look more grey in person.)
Finally, I saw a really cute hair tie idea on Pinterest that I replicated for a much lower cost. Rather than spend extra money on a design I didn’t love, I designed my own “To Have And To Hold Your Hair Back” cards and ordered a bulk order of hair tie material on ebay to tie around them.
I assembled them similarly to the groomsman, with the exception of a different design on the inside lid.
That’s it! It wasn’t a difficult project, and I love how we customized each box. How did you propose to your ladies?
The Ocala Downtown Market is the only reason I’ll wake up early on a weekend. With fresh coffee, peach muffins (complete with a crumble top) and pups at every turn, what’s not to love?
The Ocala Downtown Market is one of my favorite spots in Ocala. Every Saturday I make my way to the farmers market to choose fresh produce for my meal prep and support local businesses.
I’ve been craving zipper peas for months and I finally arrived early enough to snag a bag before the sold out – seriously, they are a hot commodity at the market! While there I also bought fresh alligator meat and fried it up for a true southern meal that made my husband glad he wifed me up.
The Ocala Downtown Market doesn’t just have ingredients though, vendors also sell home goods, live plants, pet treats and my favorite mango salsa that is to die for!
This local farmers market has opened me up to so many unique flavors. For example, when my husband’s friend was visiting we tried a raspberry vinegar paired with strawberries and WOW! Our friends poked fun of us for being bougie with this treat at game night but with flavors this amazing, we’re the real winners here.
If you haven’t visited the Ocala Downtown Market I highly suggest you check it out this weekend! It’s open every Saturday 9 AM – 2 PM rain or shine and if you come early it’s likely I’ll see you there.
Have you checked out our local farmers market? What unique finds did you discover?
You know what’s better than a chocolate covered banana? A truffle. You know what’s better than a truffle? Ice cream. You know what’s better than ice cream? FUDGE.
Good thing Ocala’s Chocolate and Confections has them all! I’m always so surprised when friends tell me they’ve lived in Ocala for years and have yet to visit Ocala’s Chocolate and Confections.
This neighborhood store looks like it’s come straight out of Stars Hollow (if you don’t get the Gilmore Girls reference, I’m sorry.) It’s perfectly situated in downtown Ocala near the movie theater and is the perfect place to enjoy sweets this summer. Could there be anything cuter than a movie date at the theater and an ice cream cone night cap? I think not.
Last weekend I stopped by with my friend Brittany as we caught up and explored downtown. I had the blueberry cheesecake ice cream in a waffle cone while she treated herself to a truffle. It was worth EVERY calorie!
Have you ever visited this downtown spot? If so, what’s your favorite treat there?
The Public Access of Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale is now live and will continue until August 4th! This is the first year I’ve shopped the sale and I stuck to a few pieces I’ve had my eyes on that rarely, if ever go on sale plus a few basics. My husband and I are sticking to a frugal budget due to our recent move, so the items on this list are all less than $100!
Save your money. I had high hopes for these leggings but they run extra small, have very little give and aren’t high waisted enough to control the belly. My husband’s remarks were, “Are those showing your knee?” Did I mention the color contrast isn’t super forgiving on us pale ladies?
A staple tee is always necessary and this tee does its job. I bought this in white, black and grey. It’s not as long as I would’ve expected, but is still long enough to tie up if you want to pair it with high waisted jeans or a cute slip skirt.
I was really expecting this shirt to be more flattering with the wrap element. In reality the “girls” try to escape constantly and it’s so short that it sneaks from its tucked in form and is loose within minutes.
What’s not to love about a good workout tank? I love the racerback element that shows off back muscles and the sleeveless element allows me to check out my triceps in the mirror! Come on, you know you do it too.
Do you shop the sale? I’ll feature a try-on session on my Instagram Stories. Share your favorite pieces with me in the comments section!