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The Ringling Museum and Breakfast House Review (Sarasota Day 3)

28 Aug

This was the last day that Paul and I spent in Sarasota. We started off the day with breakfast at The Breakfast House. We had never been before, but the reviews online looked good, so we headed over. The Breakfast House is a house. Really. So the parking lot and inside is pretty small, but very cozy. One note is that the only waiting area they have is outside, so if it is hot or raining (not that it would ever be hot or raining in Florida . . .), then the wait can be uncomfortable. We were there at about 10:30, so it wasn’t too hot and the 10 minute wait wasn’t too long.

I had the quiche and it was delicious! The coffee was also very good, but it was a bit warm inside the building so I couldn’t drink as much of it as I wanted.

After a delicious breakfast, we went over to the Ringling Museum of Art. The Museum is quite large and includes an art museum, a circus museum, a rose garden and the Ringling’s home, which itself is full of art and antiques. It is definitely a full day trip.
The art museum also has a beautiful courtyard.
The inside is a very grand space and the interior design is very well-matched to what is on display.
This is my favorite painting. I love the expression on her face.
After we enjoyed the museum, we headed home. We will definitely be returning to Sarasota, the Hyatt, Lido Beach, Cha Cha Coconuts, the Breakfast House and the Ringling Museum.

Lido Beach, Florida and Cha Cha Coconuts Restaurant Review (Sarasota Day 2)

21 Aug

So . . . I have completely slacked off on posting this week, I know. However, it is the week before law school begins and I spent a long weekend with the in-laws. Cut me some slack, y’all.

Moving on from my slacking and on to my actual topic today . . . My husband and I have become somewhat of beach connoisseurs. I was raised about 10 minutes from a beach, but I never truly appreciated it until I met my husband, who is from New Jersey, and he made me realize how amazing it is to live in Florida and have access to some of the most amazing beaches on the planet. So now, we take a few trips a month during the summer to different Florida beaches.

One of our favorite beaches is Lido Beach near St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota, Florida. Why do we love it so much, you ask? Well . . . here is a hand-dandy list:

Top 5 reasons we love Lido Beach:

  1. Soft, white sand
  2. Warm (we are talking bath water warm) water
  3. Beautiful scenery
  4. Quiet spots, if you know where to look
  5. Quick access to food on St. Armand’s Circle (more on that later)
And, now some photos so you can see for yourself how wonderful it was:
Palm trees . . .
. . . white sand, green and brown sea oats and beach signage . . .
. . . the view from our spot on the beach . . .
. . . our (relatively) quiet spot on the beach . . .
. . . our super amazing beach set (and Paul, the super amazing man who set it up!). . .
. . . the not-so-quiet part of the  beach. I didn’t want you to get the wrong impression, Lido Key and Lido Beach can be busy. We sat away from the crowds, but also away from the bathrooms and life guards. Quiet beach-going sometimes demands sacrifices and a strong bladder.
See? It was even busy in the water!
And, now for more on reason #5 we love Lido Beach: proximity to food. After our long, luxurious day at the beach, we ate dinner at Cha Cha Coconuts, a beach bar-esque restaurant on St. Armand’s Circle.
This was the perfect restaurant to end our beach day. We had amazing fish tacos. I would have taken pictures, but we ate them too quickly. 😉 Coconuts is inexpensive, has a great beachy atmosphere and good food. What more can you ask for at the end of a long, hard day of relaxation?

Hyatt Regency Sarasota Review (Sarasota Trip Day 1)

15 Aug

Front of the HyattLast weekend, Paul and I took a long weekend down to Sarasota, Florida. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency. By the time we arrived at the hotel, we were a bit travel weary and we just wanted to stay in and relax, so we decided to go to the Hyatt’s restaurant, Currents. Though the staff was very friendly and the wine selection was good, the food was very disappointing (see my “Things I don’t like about the Sarasota Hyatt”) and fairly expensive ($20-$36 a plate). Otherwise though, we enjoyed the hotel immensely. I would give the Hyatt 5 stars, but their restaurant only 1 star. 😦

Things I love about the Sarasota Hyatt:

  • Clean, well appointed rooms
  • Each room has either a balcony or a glass-enclosed siting area (if you go in the summer, get the glass enclosed sitting area, the balcony is just too hot to use, even at night)
  • Wonderfully comfortable beds (so comfortable, you don’t want to get up in the morning, even to get delicious macaroons from St. Armand’s Circle!)
  • Nice pool area with 2 waterfalls
  • Friendly staff!
  • Free parking!
  • Walking distance to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center and G-Wiz
  • 2 blocks from the Sarasota Players theater
  • 3 blocks from a Publix grocery store
  • 2-3 minute drive to downtown Sarasota and all of its delicious restaurants (and a Saturday morning farmer’s market)
  • 5-7 minute drive to St. Armand’s Circle, with its amazing restaurants and cute shops
  • 7-10 minute drive to Lido Key Beach, with its beautiful white sand and warm, azure waters
Things I do not like about the Sarasota Hyatt:
  • The downstairs restaurant (Currents) is not very good and expensive. I had the grilled mahi mahi and the portion size was small, the fish was dry and didn’t have much flavor. And it was $22. Fail. Even worse, we got cheesecake with balsamic strawberries and it was awful. The cheesecake mixture was very tart and when combined with the tartness of the balsamic vinegar it completely overwhelmed the wonderful sweetness of the strawberries. The flavor combination was an interesting one, but they get an F- for execution.
  • Small bathrooms (room to open the door and that is about it, but otherwise, the bathroom area, with its separate sink area is nice).
The Room
(This was a very comfy, sleep all day kind of bed!)
(Comfy chair and Paul’s shoes)
(Tiny bathroom)
(Our balcony)
The Hotel
(The hotel lit up at night)
(Pool with waterfall!)
(Better view of the pool)
(The hallway – I know, riveting, right?)
A few random shots . . .
(The view from our balcony)
(This picture was taken from our 3rd story balcony and was on the marina fence, about 500 feet from the building, great zoom and stabilization from my Kodak Z990!)

Kodak EasyShare Z990 Max Camera Review

10 Aug

The first item on my pre-baby list was to learn to take amazing photographs. Unfortunately, my Nikon Coolpix, though wonderful, just wasn’t doing it for me. I wanted something that had at least some manual options. I also wanted something that took better pictures on auto mode.

I made a list of cameras that I would like. Then, I looked at prices and lowered my sights a bit. (Sorry, future baby, $600 for a camera is just too much if I am not a professional photographer – which I am not!) I found the Kodak EasyShare Z990 Max on Best for $264.99.  That was much more in my price range. So, I bought it and I have experimented with it a bit.

Things I Love:

  • Full manual mode option
  • Aperture priority option
  • Shutter priority option
  • Dial to facilitate easy switching between different modes
  • Panoramic feature
  • Great photos, even in low light (see the picture of my nephew to the right. There were no lights on in the room, since he was sleeping and I couldn’t use the flash, also since he was sleeping.)
  • Automatic mode that takes nice pictures (the low light photo of my nephew is an example, as is the palm tree picture below.)
  • Stabilization (even when I take photos that use the zoom or photos with a long shutter speed, such as night photos, the pictures are rarely blurred)
  • Full HD video
Things I Dislike:
  • Lag time between photos (this isn’t really a killer for me, I am not taking photos of professional sports or anything, but it can be annoying when I want to quickly take a photo from another angle.)
  • Size (it seems much bigger after my little point-and-shoot!)
  • Battery cover can be difficult to close
  • Loud zoom (this may seem like an odd issue to have, but you can actually hear the zoom in some of my quieter videos!)
  • Battery life (I charged the batteries and took 189 pictures over a long weekend and the batteries were almost dead.)
Of course, this isn’t a professional photographer’s review of this camera. This is my I-want-to-take-cute-pictures-of-family review. If you are a hobbyist or someone who just wants to be able to take nice photos, this is a camera I would definitely recommend. This is a great point-and-shoot-plus camera. It has a great automatic mode with lots of room to experiment.
I leave you with a picture from my long weekend. Rest assured, more photos and reviews of things I did in Sarasota, Florida are soon to follow! Also, if you want to see more pictures taken with the Z990, click the “photography” blog topic to the right.