Travel

Wanderlust: Gainesville, Florida Favorites Guide

Florida is such a great state to live in. Think about it: we live where people vacation. There are many Florida cities that are full of culture, hidden gems, good food and weird fun. Gainesville is the home of the University of Florida. This is not just the home of the Gators and good college football, but a beautiful place to visit and live. Shands is a teaching hospital that is also a home to many specialists. People come from all over to see their doctors.

The first stop I always make in Gainesville is straight over to The Reggae Shack Cafe for the best Jamaican cuisine. They even have vegan options, desserts and a table of hot sauce. The first time I tried their Caribbean style food, I fell in love; Sweet plantains, spicy jerk sauce… every morsel is heaven. The culture is there and the food is made with love.

Even though there is no room in my belly, I walk down University Avenue to their neighbor, Karma Cream. They have ice cream and fresh baked goods. Even if I can’t stay, I at least grab something for the road. My favorite is the vegan peanut butter chocolate.

The Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is an underground spring that was once a hidden gem and is now a hot spot in Florida. If you arrive late, expect to wait up to two hours. After you sign in and pay, there is plenty to do if you need to wait your turn. They have a campground, pool, corn hole, food truck and a large property to wander. When your time has come, you get your snorkeling gear that they rent to you and head down the steps to the brisk clear water. You can look up at the sky and greenery, or down below at the rocks under your feet. It is an amazing must-have Florida experience.

Downtown Gainesville has a lot of great restaurants and shops. Restaurants near the college are more Gator influenced with college vibes and Gator games on tv. If that isn’t your scene then head to downtown. During the weekend there are farmers markets, Depot Park, Brunch at Boca Fiesta and record stores to browse. I spotted an awesome vendor, Medusa Moderna at a pop-up event.

Crooked Path Forge is Jordan Borstelmann’s forge for his blacksmithing and bladesmith workshop. Jordan offers exclusive classes for those who want to learn how and make their own hatchet or knives. The classes are small for more one on one crafting and each student leaves with their own finished working knife that will last them their lifetime. Sign up in advance because his classes fill up fast.

Gainesville is a great Florida getaway, with so much to offer. It’s the perfect Florida staycation for a quick weekend trip. I recommend going when there is not a home game or the hotel prices will be much higher.

Our last stop before heading home was the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful place to explore. It felt like we were Alice in Wonderland.

Hotel recommendations:

Hom

Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown

Health, photography, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Astrid

Astrid is my 12 year old daughter and she also has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and POTS. She is incredibly strong, talented and beautiful.

Astrid is very athletic and she keeps her Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) under control by staying hydrated.

Check out our most recent photo shoot in downtown Eau Gallie Art District in Melbourne, Florida.

Photos by Misti Blu

Danceware by Mirella

photography, Salon Life

Mermaid Morning

I have always loved mermaids! I got Manic Panic from the Premiere Orlando hair show and decided to play. My model, Frazier was previously featured in my Invisible Illnesses Unveiled feature. Check out the photo shoot we did this morning.

Hair/Makeup/Photography: Misti Blu Day

YouTube Video

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Unveiling Invisible Illnesses – Type 1 Diabetes

Frazier has been a diabetic warrior since the age of 12. She is a young, vibrant woman with a fun personality and doesn’t let the illness define her, yet advocates for others and is making the effort to help younger generations on how to cope and live their lives. I interviewed Frazier and around that time she was in the hospital. She rides her sense of humor as a strength to keep her chin up during tough times. Support is everything! It’s not easy and it can be scary but it is important to be happy and take care of yourself.

What is your invisible illness?

Type one diabetes

When and how were you diagnosed?

I was 12 years old. I went in for a double ear infection, got lab work done and I was diagnosed with type one diabetes.

What were your struggles and fear after diagnosis?

At first I didn’t fully grasp the full weight of my disease. Later, I realized how much work it was going to take. I was in denial for a very long time and I thought that ignoring it would make it go away.

Frazier is very involved with Florida Diabetes Camp. She was a camper from 2005-2010, then became a volunteer. She helps the kids learn how to manage diabetes and shows them that they can do anything that non diabetics can. She wears an insulin pump to help regulate her sugars on a daily basis. “I have to count the carbs that I eat, then give myself a dose of insulin to keep my sugar at a normal level. My blood sugar goal is between 80-130. It’s a balancing game that is super important. If I let it get of our control I can end up in the hospital with a DKA, diabetic ketoacidoais. Which is why I’m here now.” (hospital)

What advice do you have for anyone going through a new diagnosis?

Get a good support system. It is very important to have people in your corner. Also tell your friends and close people around you that you have this disease. One day they might save your life.

What are your goals and dreams in life?

I want to be a mom. I have always love kids, even to the point that I geared my education towards a career that includes children.

Three things you cannot live without:

Coffee, diabetes supplies, friends and family.

Favorite Quote:

“I have diabetes, diabetes does not have me.”