Tag Archives: Florida

CrossFit Manatee Drop In Review

Michael and I spent Christmas in New York this year. So, a few days before we flew out to the bitter cold of the Northeast, I drove three hours to see my parents and have a little R&R before the hectic rush of holiday travel. My parents were actually staying at condo on the beach when I came to see them (Hmm, wonder where I get my travel bug from?), so our R&R was that much better!

I packed my sneakers and researched local CrossFit boxes in their area and picked CrossFit Manatee because of its proximity to Anna Maria Island, its easy-to-navigate website and member quotes/testimonials up on their site. I also really liked their mascot!

Dropping In at CrossFit Manatee

Pricing: A-
Twenty bucks gets you a drop in at CrossFit Manatee. Another $20 and you can get a shirt with a buff manatee on it. It is still one of my favorite shirts from the gyms I have visited! It is soft too! I do wish they would have decreased the drop-in price with the purchase of the shirt, but only because I think it is a nice gesture. But, to each their own.

Depth of Knowledge and Quality of Coaching: B
By definition, all CrossFit coaches are certified through CrossFit or they are not CrossFit coaches, just coaches. All three coaches are certified at Manatee CrossFit. I met Lucas, the owner the day I dropped in. He helped me with the (incredibly easy) drop in process of signing a waiver and paying. Rob was our coach and his sense of humor was silly, but welcome! The day’s workout (listed in entirety below) began with Snatches, heavy snatches. Rob worked with an athlete to modify his snatch due to limited flexibility and he also worked with another to keep the path of her bar closer to her before dropping under the bar. His coaching for them was solid. However, I gave a B as I did not receive much coaching myself. I got some “atta girls” which I definitely appreciate, but snatches are complicated and technical feedback is crucial to improving. I will chalk it up to the fact I have some of the best coaches in the CrossFit world, so my form is pretty good to begin with. ūüôā But there is always, always room for improvement.

Intensity of the WOD: A
I loved the Snatch work at the beginning of the day and even though the WOD was quick, it definitely got my heart rate up! I wanted to rate this WOD lower than an ‘A’, but only because of my own intense dislike of double unders, not because of the intensity.  I also liked that there was a cool down and mobility options programmed in and written up for the last few minutes of class time. On another good note: Unlike my drop in at Arena Ready CrossFit in San Fran, I had my own jump rope! Yay!

CrossFit Manatee WOD Drop In

Appearance and Function of the Facility: B
There were three people in the class that I dropped in on. With a small group, the space was just fine. However, with any more than 19 or 10 people, especially with barbells out, I can see how the space would be too small. There are two rooms to use, but the space is divided up. They have rigs in both rooms, and make the most of their space. The paintings on the wall were a cool mixture of humor and inspiration – both of which are important to CrossFit training! They also have a huge white board where members get a space to write their own goals and PRs. It struck me as a great place to showcase their sense of community and hard work. The gym was clean and the equipment was new or gently used and very functional.

Dropping in at CrossFit Manatee Bradenton

Overall Impressions:
Overall, I really liked the coaches I met while working out and I think CrossFit Manatee has huge potential with Lucas at the helm. Their cute mascot may or may not have persuaded my decision to drop in, but my time there assured that I’ll drop in again if I ever find myself back out of Anna Maria Island.

CrossFit near Anna Maria Island

Key West – No Boat Needed

Mike and I are lucky enough to live in Florida. We frequent the Florida Keys as often as possible both because of our short drive time and all of the fun we have.

Now, logic tells us that since water surrounds all islands and boats make the water fun then you must need a boat in Key West to have fun. This makes sense, right?

What to do in Key West without a Boat

Wrong! Key West is (in my opinion) the only island in the Florida Keys that a boat is not necessary. There is plenty to do on dry land. Here are our favorite activities in Key West that do not require a boat.

1. Duval Street РThe ever popular Duval Street is full of  shopping, office buildings, restaurants and, most-notably, an active night-life scene. It is fun for the family, until a certain time of night. Consider yourself warned. There are a variety of bars and restaurants to fit your budget, lifestyle and nightlife needs on Duval Street.

Irish Kevin's Bar Key West

*It should also be mentioned that a lot of great, great dining and drinking establishments are not directly on Duval Street. These are our favorites:

  • Hogs Breath Saloon¬†for a mean chili dog and lively¬†atmosphere
  • Turtle Kraals¬†for an assortment of great seafood
  • White Tarpon¬†for a perfect Pina Colada
  • Harpoon Harry’s¬†for breakfast and¬†exquisite¬†caf√© con leche

2. Dante’s Pool – If you stay at a hotel with a pool, there is no need for Dante’s. However, many visitors to Key West have accommodations without a pool. Dante’s is your solution. There is (usually) a DJ, or at the very least, music playing. There is also a full bar and restaurant with plenty of seating around the pool. It’s a fun place to spend an afternoon if you need a break from the salt water and sand.

Dante's Pool Key West

3. Shopping – There is shopping for anyone in Key West. Whether you want a kitschy, beachy tie-dye shirt as a souvenir, a cute top to wear out that night or high-end designer duds or jewelry, there is a store for you! There are also tons of “surf shops” with bathing suits and beach wear and stores that sell key lime goodies – a staple in The Keys!

4. Sunset at Mallory Square Р As the sun sinks down into the ocean, Key West kicks it up a notch and Mallory Square is ground zero for entertainment at sunset. Mallory Square is known for its street vendors, artists, acrobatics, musicians and a variety of other unique entertainers. But, be careful not to miss the fun. The party and entertainment leave with the sunlight.

Sunset at Mallory Square

5. Historical Buildings and Sites РThere is at least one full day worth of sights to see around the city of Key West. From the Truman House to the Southernmost Point to Hemingway House Рthere is a lot to see! Make sure to plan a day of paid tours or walking the sidewalks to see the beauty of Old Key West.

Key West MusuemsKey West Homes

Marco Island, Florida

When your friends ask you to meet them for a relaxing weekend getaway on a beautiful island you say “Yes!” There was really no hesitation for us since¬†traveling with friends is fun and cheap(er) than traveling by yourself! Plus, this destination was a simple road trip away (read: no plane ticket to purchase!). So, we packed our bags (mine a rolling suitcase and Mike’s a duffel bag) and drove the 2.5 hours to Marco Island, Florida.

A Weekend Getaway in Marco Island

Marco Island is a (very) quiet island at the Southwest corner of Florida. It is near the Everglades and the city of Naples. It has world-class resorts, spas, golf courses and fishing. But, for this trip, all we did was enjoy the beaches, the restaurants and our friends!

We stayed at the Hilton Resort and Spa. The room had two queen beds, a small couch and a million dollar view!

Hilton Marco Island View

Hilton Marco Island Pool

Good Morning towel greeting at Marco Island Hilton

Of course you one does not stay at the Marco Island Hilton Resort and Spa for the room. Although clean and comfortable, the outside activities are the highlight of the property. The pool has plenty of seating, towel service and dining/bar area.

There is more fun out on the beach with catamaran sail boat, kayak, stand-up paddle board and wave runner rentals.

Hilton Marco Island Jet Ski

Stand up Paddle Board Marco Island HiltonSailing at Marco Island Hilton

If these water activities are not for you there is plenty of space on the wide beach to rest and relax. The sand is powdery white and perfect to lay your towel on! However, lounge chairs are complimentary to hotel guests. Umbrellas are $18.00 per hour for unlimited use each day. (*Hint: the rental price drops to $11 per hour after 1 pm.)

Umbrellas for rent at Marco Island Hilton

Marco Island Beaches

Marco Island Gilf of MexicoRelaxation on Marco Island

Seashells on Marco Island

One event that is sure to be the highlight of your stay is watching a sunset over the water. Guests are drawn out to the water’s edge on a nightly basis for this spectacle – and for good reason!

Colorful sunset GUlf of Mexico

Watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico

Dusk on Marco Island

Sunset at Hilton Marco Island

We spent most of our time out on the beach – drinking fruity beverages, telling funny stories, walking the beach to find shells and swimming. When not on the beach we were eating. (Tough life, huh!?) Here are the names and our opinions of the establishments we visited.


  • Empire Bagel Factory – Their coffee isn’t great, but their bagels, cream cheese and muffins are! The service and prices are just right too!
  • Paradise Cafe at the Marco Island Hilton – The food is average, with above average prices. The staff is helpful and pleasant.


  • Beach Club Bar and Grille¬†at the Marco Island Hilton¬†– Once again, the food is average – but the added perk of ordering and eating without leaving your beach chair makes up for this! The service is consistently quick and courteous!


  • Sunset Grille– Even though eating dinner while watching the sunset is nice, I would not recommend doing so here. The wait staff does a great job, but the food is just not good. Period. It’s “bar food,” but bad bar food. I hate to write negative reviews, but honesty is our policy at WWB. We were very disappointed with our meals.
  • DaVinci’s Italian – Italian food after a day in the sun might not sound great, but it was just what we wanted. The homemade pasta and gnocchi were exquisite and the Chicken Parmesan could be cut with a fork! There is a great wine selection and a very friendly wait staff.


  • Beebe’s Ice Cream – We went both nights – enough said!

We anticipate another trip to Marco Island soon to kayak 10,000 Islands, play a round of golf or to just soak up the Florida sun a little more!!

Bringing the Desert to Florida with Succulents

I visited Arizona a few years ago and hiked in Sedona, AZ with a girlfriend. While there, we passed a variety of beautiful succulents. We don’t see many succulents in Florida, so I loved this local flora. ¬†They are sturdy, yet pretty, plants that are perfectly suited for the harsh climates and weather of the area. Fast forward to present day. We attended the 2nd birthday party of good friends’ daughter a few weeks ago. Much to my delight, the party favor (from the ¬†“Lorax” themed party) was a succulent. At first, I wasn’t so sure the plant would survive Florida’s rainy season, but then I realized they would make perfect indoor plants!

Travel Inspiration:


I decided they’d go best next to our bay window, where they’d be on full display and still receive bright sunlight each morning. I picked two “containers” for them (buying one and re-purposing another) and used left over potting soil we had in the garage for planting.


  • succulents of your choice.
  • containers/pots of your choice
  • potting soil (We like Miracle Grow soil products.)
  • garden gloves and shovel if you’d like

Indoor Desert Succulents

Travel Inspired Home Decor Arizona

Reading Nook Travel Inspired Decor

My efforts to bring a little AZ to FL worked! Michael and I love to read and drink coffee in our reading nook, hence the coffee cup planter. The succulents add color and bring the outside in to this part of our home. The plants are low maintenance, as they only require a small amount of water each week, which is nice for two busy professionals. Plus, I scored brownie points with Mr. Wife with Baggage for keeping this project under ten bucks. I love getting my hands dirty (literally) with travel inspired DIY projects!