St. Petersburg Garden

St. Petersburg Garden

Monday, July 27, 2015

Just Monkeying Around

The Blue Course
There's nothing I love more than a good obstacle course. Well, actually, that might not be true but that would be another post. However, I DO love obstacle courses. And heights. And zip-lining. Okay, so there are a lot of things I love. My point here is that I love adventure. I'm always on the hunt for new and exciting things for us to do.

I'm so addicted to these courses that I even submit myself to torture of some sort so that I can play on them. What torture might you ask? The torture of Running. I'm sure many of you have seen the various 5k's and 5 mile runs, complete with obstacle courses, promising a day of fun.

Somehow, I always block out the running part and zoom in on the course part. They get me every time. I sign up, so excited for climbing, jumping, balancing - then the reality sinks in. I must run. A lot.

I still do it. I can't help it.

I was finally able to find a place where I can kiss that running goodbye. Until the next race that is. The Adventure Park at Long Island. Release your inner Monkey! I first discovered this place last year thanks to a friend. I was hooked. Obstacle courses in the trees? I mean, really, it couldn't get much better. Twelve different courses, ranging from easy to very hard, beckoned to me. I was in my happy place.

When you arrive at the Park, you have to go through a brief training each time, great for first timers, a nice refresher for those of us that haven't been in a while. I was raring to go. Just seeing the zip-line in action had me hopping up and down. We completed our mini training course and ran to the starting line.

Blue Course
There are 3 Yellow courses (beginner), 3 Green courses (almost beginner), 3 Blue (getting better), 1 Black (hard) and 1 Double Black (very hard). Each trail has an "escape route" halfway through the course, a.k.a, the quitters route. It's a zip-line where you can exit from the course if you don't think you can continue or if you don't feel like being on that course anymore.

Our goal from the first moment we had arrived was to conquer the Double Black course. Baby steps. We had to work our way up.

We breezed through the easy Green. Same for Blue. Sure, there were a few hang ups (no pun intended), but we flew through that course and before we knew it were standing before the Black. Without a second thought, we were up that ladder. No going back.

We were alone. No worries about rushing or waiting. Perfection. We made our way through the fun, high zip-lines and tricky obstacles. For the first time we encountered a hard spot....THE TRIANGLES. It was touch and go for a bit. I knew we'd make it but not without some bruises. All a part of the game.
Double Black

Black was great but it was challenging and we needed a break before we got to the ultimate goal: Double Black. We were ready. I was ready. Maybe. Yes, yes, we were ready. We headed up. And up. We were tired and made a deal that if we couldn't do it we would take the escape route. I knew I would never quit once I got up there. I was in for good.

Those triangles I mentioned earlier? Yup, we found worse. I called them The Discs. I knew I could do it. Had to do it. I would find a way, my way, anyway. I won't lie - it was hard, very hard, but we got through it. Tired and hot, we came to the escape route. We looked ahead and saw the most amazing zip-line. Escape route, zip-line. There was no question of what to do. We forged on.

Double Black Course
As we kept going, we actually saw people on the course with us. We weren't alone! Surprised that there were others who braved Double Black, we paused to watch how they would conquer The Discs. Some did, some cheated. They zip-lined across and avoided the challenge. Disappointed, we turned and climbed on.

Double Black is a shorter course than the others because of its difficulty. We only had a few more obstacles to get through and we made it. We felt so accomplished when we jumped off of that final element and slowly made our way to the ground. Would we do it again? Probably not. Our goal, my goal, was to do it and I did. We did. Now I can come back and do all of the fun courses and relax when I climb. And I will be back.

We came, we saw, we conquered. 

If you'd like to visit the park, check out their website:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Just Another Day

Ah, Father's day. A time when we can all spend that one day basking in the awesomeness of Dads everywhere. A time when we look all around us at commercials and ads touting what we should do for that special guy. Gifts for that great Pop in your life. Dinners for the big man.

Except what if you don't have a dad anymore? Your first thought is, damn, this sucks. Really sucks. You start to ignore it all. Then you think you should plan a day of craptastic un-dad like events. If everyone is celebrating their dad and you can't participate, maybe un-Father's day is the way to go.

Then you realize, why un-celebrate who your dad is just because he's not physically here anymore when you can celebrate the total awesomeness of who he was. And really, everyone knows that my dad was fab-u-lous.

Everyone thinks they have the best father. Well, mostly everyone. Except I really did have the best one. No, seriously. He was so awesome they named a street after him. True story. 

Okay, so maybe he wasn't always awesome all the time. Sure, he could be a pain in the ass. Hey, aren't most parents like that? I'll admit, there were times that he drove me crazy. A lot. Like when he stole my bread. My special dairy free, $3.99-a-loaf, I walked 10 blocks from work to get that, kind of bread. I always yelled at him to leave it alone. He never did. So I started to buy two loaves. 

Then there was the worst offense - he stole my champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Nobody steals my champagne. Nobody. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was not happy at that moment.

Champagne steal at Eiffel Tower
BUT through theft of my food and drink, he was entertaining. And we did share a love of a good cocktail (hence my stolen bubbly). After all, in the words of my dad, "it's always 5 o'clock somewhere".

What I loved most about my father was that he wasn't a rule follower. By this, I mean that he had his own set of rules, he did his own thing. If he wanted to do something, he did it. (See paragraph above). If he didn't feel like doing something, he didn't. Sounds like someone else I know....

He also loved hanging out with my friends and he loved their nicknames too. If they didn't already have nicknames then he made them up. There was the friend he dubbed "The Bod". There was "Funk" and ah yes, there was the Doofy Award recipient (she knows who she is). We even had a fan club newsletter dedicated just to him, aptly named "The Robert C. Lohnes Fan Club". I know, catchy.

My dad always told me stories of growing up in Astoria. Always mischievous of course. A favorite one of mine was the Coyote Club. He was so amused by his old Coyote Club stories that he would call me up and leave howling messages on my voice mail. No hellos, just howling. 

There were so many adventures and not just with me, but with my friends as well. That is what I loved best. He came out to play with all of us.

I remember us strawberry picking with Sarah and Nicole, followed by wine tasting on Long Island, NY. Hot Air Ballooning over the Temecula Valley. Blackberry picking in Ramona, CA. Road trips across the United States and up the California coast. Wine Tasting in Sonoma County. A Can Can Show in Paris. A road trip to Nova Scotia with Mike. Kayaking, whitewater rafting, Broadway shows, Fraunces Tavern - we had so many adventures. 

So many adventures but not nearly enough. It's never enough though, is it? But we can look back on all the amazing times we did have, all the fun things we shared together, and raise our glasses in celebration to my dad, to your dad, to all of our amazing dads - because no matter what the time - never forget that it's always 5 o'clock somewhere.

Dad holding my beloved Lambie

Working hard - my rare topless moment

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Weekends in New York

Morgan Ave, Brooklyn
I love discovering new things. I also love walking around new (and old) neighborhoods. This is why New York is such an interesting place. Even in the winter, which I hate, there is always something going on.

Not that I'm always out discovering it. I've been a hermit for so long thanks to this brutal weather that I know I've missed out on so much. I do not like missing out on anything. But that's over now. It's spring. It's supposed to be warm. Which means me, outside, exploring.

My latest explorations have taken me from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back again. While I say explorations, some might say obsessions. I've mentioned it before and it definitely warrants multiple mentions. The Macaron.

Grattan Street, Brooklyn
Ah, the Macaron. Such perfection. I first became smitten with this little orb of perfection on one of my trips to Paris. Of course the perfect city would have the perfect treat. I was in love. I wanted more. I always needed more.

Then I began following a vegan diet. I thought it was the end of my pillows of perfection. Until I discovered Sweet Maresa's. It was an accidental find at my first vegan pop-up shop a few months ago. I began following where they would go next.

This is how we wound up in Bushwick, Brooklyn at the Pine Box Rock Shop. Our mission was quick - get in, get the goods, get out. I was pretty good that day, unusual for me. I'm weak, I admit. But our adventures always start from one idea and morph into another.

We left the Rock Shop and walked into a tour group. Odd. We didn't think there was anything around here to tour. That's when we noticed our surroundings. It wasn't just any tour - it was an Art Tour. That's when we saw them. All over most of the buildings. Grattan Street, Morgan Avenue, Knickerbocker Ave - Wall Art. We could have driven around all day just looking at Art. But we had more to discover.
Central Park South

Our next adventure took us to Manhattan. We're always guaranteed to find something interesting in the park and what a find! Spools and spools of rope. Thanks to the Public Art Fund we found "Desire Lines" by Tatiana Trouve. On display March 3 though August 30, 2015.

Each spool is wound with rope equivalent in length to a corresponding pathway and is labeled to identify its location in the park. There are 212 spools and each pathway has a title drawn from culture. Seeing giant spools at the entrance to the park was definitely something that was going to get our attention.

Of course I found the spool that referenced Paris. What else would go with the macarons?

We had night plans so it was home for a quick change and back out for Broadway time. What goes better with the theme of macarons & Paris better? Why none other than....An American in Paris!

This was one show I couldn't miss and I wasn't disappointed. The lead danced like Gene Kelly and just thinking about being in Paris was enough to keep a smile on my face the entire time. The dancing was mostly balletic so if you enjoy dancing this is a great show, or if you just enjoy Broadway in general it's a great show.

We weren't ready to head home so we went across the street to the Maple, a place we scouted earlier in the night. Paris was still in the air and I went with it.

The French Cocktail. St~Germain. Perfect. Gin, muddled mint, lemon juice, simple syrup, topped with Proseco. I controlled myself and stopped at one. Only because I knew the last bus was coming or else who knows what would have happened.....

Before I knew it another week had gone by and it was time for new discoveries. New discoveries and old favorites. By this I mean Macaron time. In a new location. We had run out. I couldn't have that. I wasn't alone in my desires for puffs of heaven though. Mike was in on my quest.

I did some research. The next vegan pop-up shop was at Moo Shoes. Uh oh. This looked like trouble. In my quest for macarons I was being sent to a shoe store. This couldn't be good.

It wasn't. I mean, yes it was good. It was beyond good. IT WAS AMAZING. There were macarons and chocolate and those delicious Yeah Dawgs, and shoes, shoes, SHOES!

I didn't know where to go first. But then I saw it. Tiny pillows in every color. I ran. Well, walked fast. I wasn't the only one excited. There was almost a fight on that macaron line. Apparently this woman didn't get the "no cutting" memo. I would have thrown her down but the mood around me was all zen and shit. I couldn't let it get to me. I was seconds away from more bites of Heaven.

Besides, I used my line time to scout for shoes. Of course I found a pair. Cute little mauve flats with a bow. It was a successful mission. The best part was Moo Shoes is just around the corner from BabyCakes. Baked doughnuts, savory biscuits and chocolate dipped Madeleines - yes, it was a very successful day.

For more information on the places I've mentioned, please visit their websites:

Central Park West

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Market & Macarons

 I love snacks. I'm not ashamed to admit it. More often than not, I think I can choose snacks over "regular" food. It used to be that I was more of a dessert person but I've gotten better. I've branched out. The possibilities are endless. Especially with the amazing choices of healthy snacks that you can find today. I try, really, I do.

I started the day out pretty good. Had my smoothie and headed out to The Seed Market, the monthly pop-up vegan market at 135 West 18th Street. I was excited to see what selection of vendors would be out today. I'd heard about a few new ones that I couldn't wait to try and there was always room for sampling.

I am weak. I want to establish that right now before I continue. I walked through the door and all hope was lost. Hope for self-control. There was the Cheese lady. Why hello! Is that mushroom pate I see? In my bag. It was incredibly delicious....and mine. All mine.

Next was Yeah Dawg! For anyone that has ever tried a vegan hot dog you may think, uh oh. But don't let that fool you. I have heard about this place from social media and from a co-worker who vends with them. Word was great. I was excited. The dog did not disappoint. I was very happy. Cooked to perfection with toppings that were just right. No ketchup Mike. I need these for BBQ season. If it ever gets here...

I turned a corner and there it was. Beams of light shining on a Chocolate Heaven. Gone Pie Vegan Bakery. I'd been following this bakery for a while, reading about the delicious chocolaty confections and wondering when I'd be able to partake.

I ran over and didn't know where to begin. So I took them all. Just kidding. I looked over all the chocolate goodness and chose a peanut butter rice crisp treat, a peanut butter brownie, junior mint balls & to balance out all of my chocolate, a few lemon cookies.

Sweet Maresa's Macarons

I was so excited after my purchase that I think I just wandered around for a few booths. I let Mike check out some healthy items (we bought those too - I had to balance out my chocolate) and I found some really nice coconut snacks. Two different kinds - jerky and crunchy.

After all of our snacking, we had some juice tasting to do. Balance out the sweet with a little healthy cleansing properties. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Snacks, main course, juices, teas, desserts - this pop-up really does have everything. Even......mosquito repellent! Yes, I was even excited for this because with repellent it means hiking and spring. All natural repellent that can even be applied to your pets. Sold. But as I was finished up my sale, something else caught my eye...

Wait, are those...are those really....MACARONS! I ran. I might have knocked a few people over. It didn't matter. The important thing was that there were vegan macarons and I was going to get them. In every flavor. Just for me. And not share.

What I'd look like if I ate all my goodies
Yes, I said it. Not share. I bought two in each flavor and specifically told Mike I wasn't splitting. Rose, Chocolate, Almond, Pistachio, Lemon - mine. I was beaming. Like a ray of sunshine, the macarons had lit me from within. I'll be here every month for more.

I started the day with good intentions. Really, I did. The important thing is that I made sure that I mixed it up. I had a few treats mixed in with my healthy snacks.

Besides, I didn't eat ALL of my goodies in one day. Knowing that I can get my monthly fix makes it all worthwhile. Moderation is the key - and when it comes down to it I really will share everything - except my macarons.

If you'd like to attend The Seed or to get information on any of the goodies I've talked about you can visit the following sites:

Friday, February 6, 2015

*The Lost Post* Summer of Bob

I love adventure. I think it's pretty obvious. If I'm sitting still for too long I get bored. I need constant action.

Some may view this as a bad thing.  For those around me, it's always a positive. They have a built-it entertainment coordinator.

When I lived in San Diego I was always on the look-out for things to do. Different, new, out-of-the-ordinary. You name it, I was up for it. Not everyone was always game for my selections but I'm okay with being a solo flyer.

The important thing is that I was always keeping my eye open for things to do. I knew I had to maintain my duties once we moved. People were depending on me.

Thanks to websites like LivingSocial and Groupon, my search was made easier. Activities were delivered straight to me. All I had to do was decide which ones were adventure worthy.

 I know, tough job but I was determined. The adventures were on. They kept flooding in. I didn't know where to begin. Or where to stop. So I didn't.

 I thought I'd take it easy on our first trip. Kayaking. Two-hours of gliding through Bullhead Bay in calm South Hampton. I had two adventurers with me - Mike and my dad, a.k.a. Bob. We were ready for some serenity.

Notice I said we were ready for serenity but I don't think serenity was ready for us. Or at least it wasn't ready for Bob. As soon as we hit the shore and sat in the kayaks...SPLASH! Bob was in. Yes, we laughed. It was blamed on his height. I'll go with that.

And then it happened again. Two hours into our adventure. We pulled ashore for a little rest and upon shove off...SPLASH! There Bob was again, in the drink. I think this was the highlight of our trip. Not Bob's.

We thought we'd try something a little more fast paced after this. It was time for a different kind of adventure. Since we knew Bob had a penchant for getting wet, we knew he'd be on board for whitewater rafting. Up to the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania we went.

Since he had tamed the rapids before, he was dubbed the pro and sat at the back of the raft. He was in charge of steering. I think he was paying more attention to staying on the raft this time. There were 5 people to a raft, each of us had an oar and a job to do.

The most important job - staying dry and not falling in. Pretty hard when you have 10 other rafts chasing you down with super soakers. Our lunch break was on top of a massive rock formation overlooking the rapids.

After a morning filled with rapids conquering, it was a beautiful spot to sit, relax and regroup for the next portion of the water trail. This was an amazing adventure - more my speed than kayaking. I know Mike and Bob agreed and we couldn't wait to come back for more.

We had already done sea so next up was land. Bob took a pass on this one so it was just me and Mike. Back up to Lehigh, PA for a 25-mile bike ride with the best part at the end - wine. That was all the incentive I needed.

We got fitted for our bikes, started with a group and a guide and hit the trail. All along the way were beautiful, scenic view points. Trees, waterfalls, cliffs, train tracks - they were all there.

I love to take pictures but I also love to be first. I knew it wasn't a race but when I looked behind me and saw all those people....

We had a plan. We weren't technically racing. We were just biking a lot faster than everyone else. A lot. So we were able to take all of the pictures we wanted and get to the finish line first. Well, there wasn't really a finish line but we got to the end first.

More importantly, we got to the wine first. The wine! When we got there and saw our wine, and no one around, we realized we hit the jackpot. Now I bet Bob wished he were here.

Since we were so early, we had plenty of time to walk around the town before our bus took us home. Old historical homes, nice shops and restaurants - we were glad that we had the chance to explore as much as we did.

The bonus - before it was time to leave - extra wine!

Our Summer of Adventure was a great one. Each one had positives, some more than others, but they all gave us a lifetime of memories. Now it's almost time for fall.

I have to search for some crazy new adventures. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Adventures Gone By

Summer 2012
I wasn't going to address the gap in-between posts but it's like not addressing the elephant in the room. It's there, hanging out, screaming for attention. Here it is. Almost 3 years. I have a lot of excuses. They sound pretty plausible, but really, are they? Probably not. So I'll leave them out. But I'm back.

Summer 2012
A lot has happened in 3 years. I had every intention of writing about it. There were so many adventures. Whitewater rafting, kayaking, 25-mile bike rides, the Nutcracker Ballet, Cirque du Soleil, group painting events and the biggest one of all - my return to Paris, not just once but twice - yes, twice! - for Christmas in 2012 and again in April of 2014. Most of it all has been great. Most of it. 

Through it all, like so many of my events, my father, Bob, was right there with us for most of it. Whitewater rafting? He was steering. Kayaking? In the Kayak. And in the water. Twice. Tipped that kayak right over. The ballet? Cirque du Soleil? Paris? Yes, yes and Yes. Just the first time though. I was most surprised about Paris but yes, he didn't want to miss out. Who could blame him? It's Paris!

Paris December 2012
Bob always loved hanging out with us - Mike and my friends, or as we call them, the girls. He had names for many of them and would always ask if they were coming over or if I was going to see them. There was "The Bod", "Funk", "The Doofus Award Winner" (you girls know who you are). When we had parties he loved to be there. He was just like one of the gang.

April 2014
We had plans. Breweries to try, wineries to see. Scotland. We just ran out of time. 

Bob was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in August of 2013, a type of cancer where the bone marrow doesn't make enough healthy blood cells. We signed up with the Icla da Silva Foundation in March in the hopes of having a bone marrow drive for him. Sadly, it was too late. He passed away on March 15, 2014. 

We continue our mission of raising money in his name and our team, Bob's Mustaches, partner with the Icla da Silva Foundation, in the hopes of raising awareness and encouraging people to sign up to become donors so that one day, others in need of bone marrow will hopefully find their match. 

May 2014
*While writing this, I stumbled upon an unpublished blog about the adventures we had taken with Bob. Coming soon....the forgotten Summer of 2012.*

For information on how to donate, how to become a donor, or on the foundation,  please visit the websites below:
Bone Marrow Donor:
Bone Marrow Donor: