Robinson Family Vacation: Florida

Last month the Robinsons drove down to Florida for a week-long vacation at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee. David’s parents picked us up from our apartment, we drove to David’s sister’s place (Laura) and tucked in for the night before getting an early start on Saturday. Things seemed to be going well. It was a clear, sunny day in Burlington. We were hopeful. We got across the border with no trouble and continued into Pennsylvania.

And that’s when the storm hit.

An interesting atmosphere considering we were listening Chapter Three of Harry Potter and the Philisopher’s Stone. You know, the chapter where the Dursleys and Harry flee number 4 Privet Drive to escape the innumerable letters and end up rowing in a boat, in the pouring rain, to a hut on a small island. In the middle of nowhere.

We were, similarly, in the middle of nowhere in a storm.

The snow was thick and heavy and the wind whipped against our car. Then, suddenly, someone pulled into the left lane in front of us. We slammed on the brakes but nothing seemed to happen

There were a few seconds of simple understanding: “Well shit. We’re going to hit that car.” Then… BANG!

Bits of car flew in the air, and we all sat glued to our seats, stunned. We ended up sitting at the side of the road on an interstate in Pennsylvania. Several state troopers showed up, as well as a rather quirky tow truck driver. He had a distinct beer gut, a long white and curly beard, a few missing teeth, and was fitted in a large winter jacket. He took his jacket off immediately (in the middle of a snow storm, I might add) to reveal a pair of overalls.

The parents got a ride with the tow truck driver, Laura and I went with a rather handsome state trooper *cough*, while David hitched a ride with another state trooper.  We said we were cold, so he blasted the heat and soon enough I was sweating uncomfortably (though my feet were still numb). I decided to ask him about all the gadgets in his car. There was a rifle sitting upright next to him, encased in thick plastic so those sitting in the back couldn’t touch it.

A few minutes later we ended up at an EconoLodge in Meadsville, PA. The woman at the front desk was not encouraging: “The last time Canadians got in an accident around here, they were stuck here for a week!” Thanks for that.

We didn’t get stuck for a week, though. David’s parents managed to find a van the next day after a 45 minute taxi drive. The driver, I should add, did not wear a seatbelt, answered several calls, and smoked. He also kept the windows down (which later got stuck) so poor Mom, who sat in the back, had snow blowing in her face. And THEN, when they got to the car rental location they were promptly told that there was not, in fact, any vehicle available for them.

Don’t worry. Things worked out. The car rental place sort of lied because they did have a van available, it just wasn’t cleaned and we would have to wait.

After this unfortunate adventure, we were all on our way again and I’m happy to say we made it to Florida safe and sound! We even finished listening to Harry Potter and I can’t wait to read the second book with David (right now we’re reading The Silmarillion together).

Once we actually arrived in Florida, things were great! 

We spent a lot of time at the pool (cowabunga baby!), we visited Disney Springs, Epcot, and Wild Florida.

First, the resort!


This is where we stayed, top-left section.


The lazy river!



First sibling trip to the pool!



David’s Aunt Faith and cousin Destiny came and visited, so we trapped Destiny in a bunch of tubes. Always crazy with the Robinsons!


Left to right: Myself, Laura, Sarah, and Destiny. Hanging out on the hammock! I ended up jumping off the hammock and helping David flip the rest of the girls into the sand… hehe.


A group picture! Dad was at a conference so didn’t join us until the evening.


Hanging out at the pool! It was not chlorinated!

Another pool picture!

We also went to Disney World’s Epcot, which was super busy, but fun. Essentially the park is divided into different countries, many of which have a Disney character from that country. So, for example, Norway was one of the countries with Disney’s Frozen being the focal point. My favourite was Morocco (Disney’s Aladdin). David and I also had lunch at one of the restaurants “in Morocco” and it was great!

Here are some pictures from our day at Epcot!


My sister-in-law, Sarah, took this picture. Isn’t it beautiful! Loved all the beautiful flowers. That train track connects all of the Disney parks.


The Canadian section of Epcot.


This was also in the Canadian section. I just loved their performance – they’re from Quebec! They’re members of TradNation! It was a real pleasure to sit and listen to them play.


David, Sarah, and Laura with Woody!


Elsa and Anna in the Norway section!


Just a random couple selfie :).


David’s always such a good sport, haha.


At the end of the night there were spectacular fireworks, and then Sarah caught this picture on our way out. It was a long day, but good.

One of my favourite parts of the day was actually the Mission Space ride. David, Laura, Sarah, and myself all went on it together as a space team. Here’s what the site says about the ride:

Fulfill your fantasy of being an astronaut as you dodge meteors, navigate nebulae and slingshot around the moon.

Before you board, actor Gary Sinise briefs you as you prepare for your mission to Mars on the X-2 Deep Space Shuttle at the International Space Training Center (ISTC). Each member of your 4-cadet crew will assume an important role: navigator, pilot, commander or engineer. During your flight, each cadet will be instructed to initiate a mission-critical sequence, so be prepared!

Board your vessel, lower your harness and brace yourself for the incredible force of lift-off. Get goose bumps as you arc around the moon and then hold on tight as you attempt a precarious precision landing on the Red Planet’s alien surface.

Your crew is counting on you to do your part to ensure a successful mission and a safe trip back to Earth!

Laura was the commander, Sarah the pilot, David the navigator, and I was the engineer. Needless to say, it was awesome. Loved every second of it!

However, my favourite part of the trip, by far, was Wild Florida. I highly recommend it if you visit. The wild park was amazing, and the boat ride was AWESOME! 

Unless otherwise specified, all of these pictures were taken by the photographer at Wild Florida. We all got to pose with the alligator, Fluffy, and in addition to the pictures of the family, we also got pictures of the entire park! These ones are my favourite :). Lots of wildlife at the park!

Dock 1

The pathway leading to the airboat ride!

Gator 2

Gator 3

Scarlet Marcaw with Blue and Gold Macaw sitting besideRed Ruffed Lemur 2


Two-toed Sloth 3


And then we got to pose with Fluffy the alligator!








This picture ^ cracks me up every time I see it, haha.




This picture was taken on the airboat tour by Sarah.


This one was taken while we explored the Wild Park, another one by Sarah.


David, myself, and Dad all tried gator. It actually did taste like chicken, but the texture was like fish. Interesting, right? I really liked it.

If you visit Florida in the future, I highly recommend visiting Wild Florida. You can get an airboat ride, try eating some fried gator, and explore their wild park. A whole day of family fun!

Here are a few more random and silly pictures from the trip!

IMG_7351 PicMonkey Collage


And so, after a rocky start, we had a great time in Florida! Lots of adventures, swimming, and alligators.

By the end of the trip, though, David and I were ready to get back home to Canada. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually missed the snow and cold. I think it’d be hard to leave winter behind forever!


January 2016 Update!

I have not kept up with blogging very well lately. I’m back to work at two part-time jobs, and also back to school part-time. In my spare time I tend to do a lot of crafting, or else spend quality-time with David, which does not leave much room for writing.

To recap, here’s what’s been going on over the last four weeks or so.

I organized a Star Wars event at my library branch, which was super fun and successful. I managed to rope David into dressing up (with very little effort, I might add. I think he was more than mildly interested in dressing up as Darth Vader), along with my colleague (who wasn’t even supposed to be working that day!) and we put off a really fun story time, craft event, and scavenger hunt. We even made it into the local newspaper!

*Bottom two right pictures taken by Adam Martin-Robbins for the Economist and Sun*
*Bottom two right pictures taken by Adam Martin-Robbins for the Economist and Sun*

David and I have also been to Carleton Place twice – once for Christmas and again for New Years (we had to drive back to Toronto in between as I had to work). We had a great time with family; we played a lot of board games and ate a lot of food. Nothing better.

Christmas Collage
Huge thanks to my sisters-in-law for these great pictures. Thanks Laura & Sarah! 🙂

I got a sewing machine for Christmas (WOO!), the Singer Stylist 7258. So far I’m loving it. The first thing I did after receiving it was ask to go to a nearby quilting store. So now I’ve started on my first-ever quilt! I chose a fairly simple pattern, the Yellow Brick Road by Atkinson Designs, to start me off. We visited The Pickle Dish in Carleton Place. The ladies were super helpful! I’ve done a fair amount of rotary cutting, and will likely start piecing over the weekend. Or sooner, if I can’t resist waiting…


I’m back to school this month, too. In case you didn’t know, I’m working towards my Masters of Library and Information Science through the University of Alberta (they have an online program). So far I’m really enjoying it, though I must admit that one of my courses this term seems rather dry and boring…

I’m not really into New Year Resolutions, but I’ve been checking out a lot of cookbooks from the library lately in an effort to re-join the healthy-eating bandwagon. I posted while in Europe that I found it a lot easier (and less wasteful) to go grocery shopping every couple of days. Now that I’m back to Toronto, though, this simply isn’t feasible. Sigh. We do walk down the road to get fresh bread from Emma’s Country Kitchen, though (they have the best bread around!). I’d like to get into baking my own bread again, but priorities! Check out the books I’m currently flipping through! I’ve made several recipes from The Soup Sisters Cookbook (this is probably my 5th time checking this book out… I should probably buy it).

Books I'm Reading

I’ve been working on a couple knitting projects as well. I’m currently halfway through a Snow Storm Cowl for a friend; I’ve also started a new project for David called Pop Rock Men’s Vest. Despite having still not finished his socks… We knitters need to have multiple projects going at a time or it just gets boring, am I right?

I’ve started reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand for my Thursday Evening Book Club that I moderate (and participate in) at my branch. No opinions to share just yet, but I’ll write a review later!

David and I are in the process of planning a trip to Fredericton, New Brunswick to visit our friends; we’re also headed to Florida in February. Later this year we hope to visit with our friends from Austria, one way or another. It’s so hard having your best friends living in different parts of Canada, or the world. I guess that’s how it is these days.

So, it’s only been 12 days since the start of the New Year, but I can tell it’s going to be a good one already. Likely with some unexpected bumps in the road (isn’t that always the way?), but good all the same.


Adventures in Sewing!

Recently I entered into the wonderful world of sewing! I think it’s safe to say I’ve developed somewhat of an obsession…

It all started when I borrowed a friend’s sewing machine so I could hem my pants. Pants completed, I put the machine away and forgot about it for a couple of days.

Until I woke up with the brilliant plan that I would make my own dress for an upcoming Christmas party!  David was skeptical.

“Isn’t that supposed to be hard?” I scoffed and said “Well, yes. But I can do it! It’ll be fun!”


“Okay, well, if by the off chance that it doesn’t work out, I’ll still have learned a lot!”

More silence. And an eyebrow raised.

“Okay, okay. It will likely fail. But it’ll be fun!”

David looked doubtful. “Maybe you should start with something small. Like a pillowcase.”

Pfft. Everyone loves a good pillowcase. But I already had it in my head that I’d make a dress, and at this point, it was too late: nothing could deter me now! I’m ambitious. But sometimes (and David would argue, often) I’m obsessive and not easily swayed. David felt that this project was far too grand for me to take on  – after all, other than pants hemming, I haven’t sewed anything since an apron I made in Grade 8 (which I still happily own, by the way).

So with David sitting back looking both amused and unconvinced, I went to Fabricland and bought some fabric, pins, and shears. I was far too enthusiastic to sleep on it!

I took some measurements and made some dress patterns on parchment paper (I had to improvise), and went to cutting my fabric. I got the inspiration for my dress from hours of Pinterest searching. In general, though, I went with a pretty unoriginal idea.

Dress Design
My *very* amateur design.

I got started and things were going pretty well! I inserted an invisible zipper correctly (for the most part…), but the fabric was really thin and difficult to work with and, well, the top ended up being kind of a fail (*cough* complete fail *cough*). So I did some research and picked new fabric for the top and started again, from the beginning.

It worked out okay, but the sleeves were a little tight, and the neckband was very ruffled and unpleasant-looking…

This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. That neckband leaves a lot to be desired.

There was nothing for it. I tried again. From the beginning. That’s right, friends. I have three white shirts with lace overlay lying around our apartment. The first one was abysmal (laughable, really), the second was good, but the neckband really bugged me.

The third one, however, was great! It had even stitching and the invisible zipper was inserted almost perfectly!

But then I put it on. Or should I say, tried to put it on.

Sigh. Seam allowances are hard to get right.

Dress 2I don’t have a picture of the final version of the third dress, but this is what it looked like before I attached the top to the bottom, put the front and back together, or hemmed the bottom. You can tell already that the sleeves are going to be far too tight – they’re small here and I haven’t even sewed them together yet!

I obviously needed to be more precise because the sleeves were super tight, and the zipper wouldn’t zip up all the way.

Dreaded Sleeve
Such a pretty sleeve. Oh well.

Oh dear. The party was the next day!

So I decided to cut my losses (literally) and seam rip the entire thing and just turn it into a skirt.

And it turned out really well!

Skirt Complete

I’ll probably make a few more skirts to continue practicing. They’re easy, practical, and I don’t have very many, so I’ll try a few different techniques.

Eventually I’ll get back to the dress-making – it’s so much fun! – but I know I need to master a few techniques before I can make a dress that’s 100% my own (I’d like to learn how to do darts!).

I’m all about starting with a big project when trying something new (specifically when it comes to crafting). I know most people suggest starting with something small, but where’s the fun in that?!

Although I’m not easily discouraged, I swore more than once, cried with frustration, and asked myself repeatedly what I had got myself into. But I have no regrets.

Okay, maybe I regret not starting with a skirt. But just a little bit.

All the same, I learned so much from this project! Sewing straight, controlling my speed, what kinds of fabric to use for what projects, taking measurements appropriately (and the importance of seam allowances!), creating patterns, french seams, pleats, waistbands, invisible zippers, and so much more!

Straight Stitching!
Check out that even stitching! So proud of it. This is the waistband for my skirt :).

With all that said, there are two resources to which I need to give a big shout out:

  • The Complete Photo Guide to Clothing Construction by Christine Haynes
    • This book was a life-saver. I referred to it many times with the large full-colour proving incredibly helpful. I borrowed this book from my local library :). I highly recommend taking a look at it if you’re new to sewing, or need a refresher on some great sewing techniques.
  • Elle Apparal Blog by Leanne Barlow
    • She has a lot of great sewing tutorials on her blog, one of which I used for inspiration for the skirt. Great step-by-step pictures, and lots of other tutorials to look at, too! I’ll visit her blog frequently when looking for ideas, I’m sure. Like this dress!

Can’t wait to share more sewing adventures in the future!

Onto the next adventure :).