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!
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!
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!
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!
One of my favorite things about living in Ocala is how my calendar stays full with community events. When I first moved here I was at a networking event and commented on how hard it was to find things to do. The response I received was shock and awe – and rightfully so! It wasn’t that there weren’t things to do, I just didn’t know how to find them!
Now that I’ve learned how to find events I’m constantly asked, “How did you hear about that?” Here’s how I hunt out events and find adventure in my city:
Find Your Favorite Venue
There are so many great venues in Ocala that have a wide variety of shows and events! Between concerts, festivals, art exhibits and plays there’s no shortage of entertainment. I’d recommend following them on social media, checking their website, and joining their email newsletters so you always know about upcoming events.
By paying attention to what’s happening at The Reilly, I learned about Couch Sessions which has become one of my favorite ways to support local artists. These are a few of my favorite venues:
As a graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism, I love supporting local publications. They’re also some of the best ways to find events I never would have heard of, because they have great connections with local nonprofits. Nearly every newspaper, magazine and blog has an “Events” section that’s always filled with out-of-the-box events like the “After Dark In The Park Movie Series,” which I found in Family Times Magazine.
Luckily for Ocala residents, a lot of these publications also have a strong social media presence. It’s not uncommon for me to watch Instagram stories and see Ocala Style or Ocala Magazine to post about an event for the coming weekend.
Support Local Nonprofits
If I had to list all of our amazing nonprofits this would be a 6-part series. Ocala has a strong nonprofit presence that always supplies exciting community events, and Marion Cultural Alliance is where I find a lot of them.
My all time favorite is the Levitt Amp Ocala Music Series, a free concert series that supplies our community with live music. This is the second year Ocala has been awarded a grant to host the series, and I pray it continues to receive support. With food trucks, amazing touring musicians and a pet friendly atmosphere, what’s not to love?
Make Your Own Events
Sometimes you have to be the leader! The best times are spent with friends and it doesn’t always have to have large costs associated. Try a fitness class with friends, throw a potluck Taco Tuesday (or any day, tacos are never a bad idea), or a dog party!
I hope this helps you experience more of Ocala’s culture, meet new people and feel more connected to your community! What ways do you find events and what are some of your favorite places, publications or nonprofits that I missed?
If you know me, you know I love my pets with all my heart. I work hard so I can create a better life for Nashville (cat) and Winslow (dog). Winslow comes with us pretty much everywhere, and over the years I’ve discovered some really unique products to keep them as happy and healthy as possible.
There’s nothing I hate more than having a fur covered cat tower in my living room. After searching for a more decorative option, I found these elevated shelves that give the appearance of plants. They give Nash a place to play and hide without sacrificing style.
PSA if your kitty is over 15 pounds I’d recommend using anchors so they don’t fly off the wall like ours originally did!
Recently Nashville has gotten into the habit of stealing Winslow’s bed, which leads to him snuggling up between us in the night. I’m not one to turn down a cuddle, but there’s just not enough room for three of us in the bed. I bought Nash his own bed, knowing he would turn his nose up at it initially.
I sprayed this catnip mist on the bed and within a few days he was giving it a shot! Now when I’m getting ready for work he’s not only in his bed, but stays chilling there until it’s time for breakfast.
As part Maine Coon, there’s no secret that Nash is a big, cuddly boy. Despite his large size, his vet still wants to work on keeping him active (hence the shelves) and on a weight management diet. Nulo is a grain free dry food that includes L-Carnitine, which supports the metabolism of fats. I’m considering switching him to wet food, but this is my favorite dry food by far.
I’m being a little silly with this one, but I truly have to hide our hampers to keep Nash out of them! He loves to hide in them and pounce at Winslow or use them as a hiding place for a cat nap. Skip the expensive cat toy and get yourself a $5 mesh hamper to entertain your cat for hours.
We’re always on the go, and inevitably Winslow will need to do his business at the most inopportune time. This leash and waste bag attachment is my life saver. Most attachments have a clip that hooks to the leash, but doesn’t fit most retractable leashes. This attachment slides right onto the leash, freeing up my hands to pick up the business.
Like most pet parents, we love spoiling Winslow with new toys and treats every month. I’m also a token millennial, which means I love supporting organizations that give back. RescueBox is awesome because with every box, the company works with charitable partners to provide donations of food and vaccines in shelters across America.
A short hair dog and cloth seats do not make a good pair. This seat cover has saved my Jeep from damage, mud and slobber. It was also the perfect way to keep the boys comfortable during two cross country moves.
Another can-not-live-without item is a portable dog bowl. We take Winslow to brunch, concerts, the park, you name it. The last thing I want is for my man to be thirsty. This bowl zips up for easy transport and is easy to store on a leash.
Hey there! My name is Kaitlyn Butler, and I go by Kait! I love online shopping, eating well and living well. I live in Ocala, Florida with my husband, staying busy with a variety of community events and local offerings. I studied public relations at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and love interacting with all types of people. My blog is primarily focused on fashion, food and fitness.
Why A Blog?
In the last year my husband, Kendrick, and I moved across the country with our dog (Winslow) and cat (Nashville) to Chicago, got married and moved back home to Ocala. To many, it seemed like we couldn’t take the cold (it wasn’t the greatest, I’ll admit). In reality, we missed our life back home.
Moving thousands of miles away from family and friends put a lot of things in perspective.
Prior to the move I prided myself on my career and ambition. Changing jobs three times in a year really threw me for a loop. I’ve now started a 9-5 job and am looking for a way to express myself creatively outside of work.
A major factor in moving back to Ocala was the community. We met some wonderful people in Chicago, but we kept comparing life in the city to our life “back home”. We had no idea how much we would miss the people and places until we put a 16 hour drive between us. In this blog I hope to showcase the hidden gems of Ocala, bringing to light the things that make it home for us.
Then, there’s the Enneagram. I’m a Seven, which means I love any and all things exciting. Food, fitness, shopping – you name it. I’ll be sharing all my favorite activities here and I hope it lights your fire, too!