February 19, 2012

Two Parts


Our Saturday was divided into two parts.  Part one was work related, part two was friend related.  Here’s the recap!


Part 1:  Wetlandia

I call Mike my “nature boy”.  He loves anything outdoors, looks forward to the days he gets to work in the field and get out of the office, and would chose camping over a fancy hotel any day.

For the past couple of years, he has been involved in the planning of the Orlando Wetlands Festival, which is a nature inspired festival aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness of Florida’s native animals and ecosystem.  It is put on by the City of Orlando, where he works, and his Environmental Control section is very involved.




Mike was in charge of the registration table and door prize giveaway and I came along to volunteer.  The door prizes ranged from Universal tickets, restaurant gift cards, airboat rides, Publix gift cards just to name a few.  We must have registered over 2,000 people for the door prizes and our tent was non-stop!




Because it was a very early morning, I brought chocolate muffins for the set up crew.  They were a hit and I even used left over Valentine’s Day candy as the chocolate pieces.  This was a great way to get rid of the sweet stuff just sitting around in my kitchen!





Chocolate Muffins

Print this recipe!

-yields 24 muffins

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 T instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or chocolate of choice)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, milk, oil and vanilla.  Add the instant coffee to the water component and add to the wet ingredients.  Beat until combined. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.




The venue at Ft. Christmas was nice and spacious for the main festival, but nature hikes, photo hikes, birding tours and bus tours of the Wetlands were also offered – all for free! 

People were amazed that the only thing they had to pay for was the food if desired, but they could even bring their own if they wanted to.  Everyone was so appreciative!



Since we had been working all morning without much stopping, Mike and I took a quick lunch break around 1pm (veggie burgers were even available – so yummy) and toured the exhibits.  Lots of native animals with many hands-on opportunities!

After finishing up the door prize give away around 3pm and helping the other volunteers and crew break down and clean up we were exhausted, but very proud. 

The festival was a huge success!



Part 2: Orlandia

After getting home, sitting down for 20 minutes it was time to go again.  We took quick showers and headed out to meet our friends near downtown Orlando for dinner and late-night funsies.

We met our crew at a local burger joint called Graffiti Junktion


(Picture source here)

They have delicious burger combinations and it was much needed after a long day of standing!  I didn’t take any pictures of my “Brotherly Love” Burger, but it was stacked high with onions, peppers, mushrooms and provolone.  Paired with a baked potato instead of fries, this meal was delish!

After dinner we headed downtown for some festivities.  The bars were hoppin’ and the mood was festive.  Everyone was getting in the Mardi Gras spirit.


We made our way to a few different establishments around the city taking in all the different vibes. 

I do have to give a thank you shout out to Jamie for wearing the best pink shirt in the whole world.  She was like our navigational beacon – we never got separated, we just followed the shirt!  If only we would have had that for our trip to Europe!


We also celebrated a new engagement.  My friend Jenny’s friends Danielle and Luke just got engaged Friday night at Epcot while visiting from Buffalo – congrats!


Fun times were had by all!





To end the night, in true Fat Tuesday fashion, we were treated to a New Orleans style drum line – they were awesome!









After a fun night and a morning of sleeping in and being lazy we are gearing up to run our 11 miler and hoping to miss the rain – wish us luck!

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