Airboat Tour Adventure + Shoulder Burn Circuit Workout

I held an alligator yesterday!

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He’s 4.5 years old and his name is Sergio. The man said to hold his tail firmly, but apparently my grip on Sergio’s torso was a little too much, because then the man said, “If you hold him too tightly there, he’ll pass out and then you’ll have to give him mouth to mouth.”

I opted to just give Sergio pretend kisses. I miss him.

Where did I hold this alligator, you might ask? Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours! We had never been on an airboat before, so my mom and uncle found this company with stellar reviews on Yelp. It was truly an amazing experience! They took us on a laid-back yet informative tour through Lake Tohopekaliga to view the wildlife, which was abundant.

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“She’s going to put this on moves and grooves!”

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A COW (they wander into the shallow parts of the lake from the neighboring pastures)

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A terrible, mega-zoomed-in photo, but do you see the two bald eagles on top!?

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Wild Willy is the one with the sunglasses and camo pants!

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Ugh, it was such a beautiful day. I was totally awestruck by the beauty of nature as we sped through the waters on the airboat. I kinda wanted to cry tears of joy, but luckily, the wind blasting in my face kept my eyes dry and my embarrassment to a minimum.

If you’re ever in the St. Cloud, FL area, definitely check out Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours. We all give it five stars, two thumbs up, and three cheers!

Preceding our afternoon adventure, we had a slow start to the morning. I slept in and did my moves before breakfast, which is a rarity for me! I almost always need to eat something before I feel like a functioning human in the morning. I guess all that sushi the night before stuck pretty well.

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I missed you, burpees! This was a quick yet heart-pounding workout that made my shoulders burn. Those inchworm pushups are deceptively difficult after double unders!

[Super late] breakfast was an ol’ classic: Gina’s cookie dough cereal made with sunflower seed butter and a whole sliced banana. It will never stop being delicious.

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I also ate some random snacks with my fingers including pineapple, broccoli, and mango. I’m like a wild animal hunting for food or something, what the heck?

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Before leaving for the airboat tours, I made myself a sandwich with a two-egg scramble with a boatload [ 😀 ] of spinach and feta cheese. I ate it at around 3PM in the car on our way to the airboats.

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Part two of lunch came after the airboat tours when we decided to try some of their gator bites, aka gator nuggets, served with sweet & sour sauce and a creamy southwestern sauce. They tasted just like chicken nuggets except more chewy and a little less flavorful.

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Looks like mostly fries, but you can spot some of the nuggets in there!

Oh I had a bite of this smoked alligator jerky…”with pork.”

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The gator bites combo came with an ice cream “samich” that I happily ate. I will forever love these things, which are essentially jumbo ice cream Oreos.

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A late lunch called for a late dinner at 9PM again. Last night we dined at a local Latin/Caribbean restaurant, and everything was tasty!

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The world’s smallest house salad

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Grilled shrimp with white rice for me!

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Plus a few bites of my mom’s seafood mofongo (think Latin version of stuffing— made with fried green plantains, pork cracklings, and garlic)

Mofongo— the food you love to say and love to eat even more.

‘Twas a lovely and relaxing day indeed! Today I need to do work, which includes tour guide studying, blogging, letter-writing, bathroom cleaning, reading, and grocery shopping (there are no more bananas in our house and that makes me sad).

Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!

So tell me:

Have you ever held an alligator or other wild animal?

What was something fun you did yesterday?

Would you eat alligator?

Spill It Sunday #2: The Most Embarrassing Travel Pictures Ever

Thank God for weekends. I slept well on Friday night, which did wonders for taking the anxiety off my back. I think it had something to do with a) not having to get up early the next morning; b) having ample time to just wind down. Although the tea didn’t do much for me (I swear it made me more energetic), I’m still grateful that I can get some Zzz’s without resorting to drugs. I did drink some more last night though, and my sleep was pretty solid. I also really like how that Sleepytime tea tastes, so it was still worth it. 🙂

Another reason to love the weekend? Spill it Sundays on Arman’s blog! Last week I talked about my Asian awesomeness and Mulan, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This week is all about travel fun facts— the good, the bad, the ugly, and the awesome. Basically, this is a collection of unflattering pictures of me in my nugget stage. With some cool landmarks in the background. Enjoy!

The Big Man's World
I’ve been quite fortunate to have traveled to a ton of awesome places around the world, but these are definitely some of the top destinations:

Hawaii 2003

I used to live in California (I was born in Los Angeles), so we went to Hawaii more often than the average person I think. I lived in Kansas during this particular vacation though, and this was also our very first cruise! We went with my grandparents and our close family friends.

Highlights: Diamond Head, the beaches, the weather, the pineapples, the luaus, fun on the cruise.

Lowlights: sea. sick. ness. Ugh.

Fun facts: 

  • I was a stubborn child who didn’t have an open mind, so I was skeptical of the whole cruise situation, but when it was time to leave, I think I cried.
  • Also, my brother, my friends, and I decided to film the most ridiculous show in our cruise cabin about a Fart Museum while our parents were out for dinner or something. Yes, we still have the video. Yes, it’s as weird, embarrassing, and hilarious as you would think.

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Celebrity smiles right there.

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I’m such a tourist.

Europe (Rome, Paris, London) 2003

This was a huge trip. The main reason we went was for my uncle’s ordination to become a priest in Rome, but we just decided to make a big European adventure out of it!

Highlights: The Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, seeing Pope John Paul II, Trevi Fountain, The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, The Louvre (and seeing the Mona Lisa!), Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, eating Nutella on baguette with warm milk for breakfast in Rome

Lowlights: I got a terrible eye infection towards the end of our trip, and since I didn’t know how to swallow whole pills back then, it was quite a struggle. My dad would have to crush the pills into little crumbs, and the inside of those things were NASTY.

Fun facts:

  • We climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower! I think my little cheeks almost froze off, but it was still amazing.
  • Also, don’t ever take a picture with a man dressed up as a gladiator if you’re not willing to pay for it. We learned the hard way.
  • As I previously mentioned, my uncle was ordained in Rome, and he said his first Mass in St. Peter’s! We also went to the midnight Christmas Mass there, where we saw Pope John Paul II! My mom got her paparazzo on and stood on a chair to get the awesome picture below. I think I was actually sleeping when he came out…..of course.
  • Oh, and we stayed at a convent in Rome where we happened to meet a family who lived in same town in KANSAS as us. They even attended the same church! What are the odds?! Small world, people.

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Top of the Eiffel Tower

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Garden of Versailles

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Sorry. This is just too good.

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Ben at Big Ben.

Puerto Rico 2010

When we moved to New York, we were craving some tropical weather. Since Hawaii was no longer our neighbor, we took a getaway trip to Puerto Rico for winter break!

Highlights: El Yunque Rainforest, MOFONGO (our eyes were permanently opened to a new world of flavor), the weather

Lowlights: None, really!

Fun facts:

  • Our tour guide was a super fun and kind guy named Jorge, I believe.
  • Lizards were everywhere.
  • Mofongo rocks.

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Montreal 2010

We took a road trip to the very French part of Canada that we never visit, and I totally loved it! The quaint vibe, the food, and the jazz festival were right up my alley. I actually want to go there again next summer!

Highlights: Poutine, Jazz Festival, Underground Mall, street performers

Lowlights: It was HOT (see fun facts).

Fun facts: 

  • It was the hottest summer ever in Montreal (like, 102 F!), and since that was like a whole new world for the Quebec citizens, they were all walking outside while my mom and I took weird pictures in the Underground.
  • We had lots of poutine.
  • We passed by a guy named Marc Lavigne playing piano beautifully on the side of the cobblestone streets, and we told him that Ben is also a piano player. He let Ben show his talents, and he actually got a decent audience!

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Well that’s probably enough photo overload for you all. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed embarrassing myself sharing my experiences!

So tell me: What were your favorite travel destinations? Highlights/Lowlights/Fun facts? Where do you want to travel in the future?

Shortcut Puerto Rico {MIMM #10}

Hey, everyone!

I hope your weekend was restful, especially with the extra hour gifted to us for the ending of daylight savings time. I personally didn’t necessarily get any extra sleep because I just end up going to bed one hour later than usual. Even if I did go to bed earlier, I would probably just wake up earlier because my internal clock is basically set on 7.5-8.5 hours. Oh well!

This weekend consisted of quality family time and the usual activities: dance, homework, Sunday school teaching, and church. Some more exciting things happened though, like a “shortcut to Puerto Rico” on Friday night…

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Thanks for hosting, Katie!

Marvelous is…

Dinner at Don Coqui, a fabulous Puerto Rican restaurant with amazing food and fun Latin dancing to a live band! But guess the main reason why we went there. Groupon, of course. We should seriously star in a TLC show called “Extreme Grouponers” or something. My mom finds the deals like no one’s business, and the rest of us are definitely not complaining. We decided that we would go out on the occasion of All Saints’ Day 🙂 The amount of food we get for such a great price is outstanding. Don Coqui was no different with their HUGE portions. They know it too, because they charge extra if you want to share! Just order for yourself and take the leftovers. You’ll get a few awesome meals for the next day or two!

The “bread basket” was actually a basket of plantain chips with two dips—black bean and an amazing salsa.

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Appetizers: calamari and mussels with chorizo.

I was actually kind of full after the appetizers. Those things were definitely larger than entree portions even! We managed to polish them off because they were so good though.

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My entree: yuca-crusted red snapper with yuca mash and grilled vegetables

This was absolutely fantastic. Puerto Rican flavors never fail to make my taste buds dance (cha-cha-cha). The crust of the red snapper had a little bit of coconut—perfection. And the yuca mash was really good! The taste is similar to mashed potatoes, but the texture is a little more glutinous. I took the leftovers home and they were just as good on tope a bed of spinach and kale!

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Mom’s entree: Shrimp mofongo!

I’m just going to show my mom’s entree because mofongo is a Puerto Rican dish that I think everyone needs to try. It’s basically a mash of green plantains, pork cracklings (no wonder it’s so good), garlic, and broth, and it just rocks. The first time we tried mofongo was in Puerto Rico, and we’ve ordered at least one whenever we go to a Puerto Rican restaurant. It’s the most hoppin’ party that will ever go down in your mouth. Also, it makes for great leftovers!

Other dishes included braised oxtail (Dad’s), rib and chicken combo (Ben’s—such a bro meal), and tres leches and coconut flan for dessert. For the first time ever I think, we couldn’t finish dessert. Colossal meal, guys. My parents still had the energy to get up and do some salsa dancing though! They used to take ballroom dance lessons, so they’ve got some fancy footwork.

Marvelous is…

Tori Kelly on REPEAT. I think se has real talent unlike many of those hyped-up Hollywood folks. Plus, she seems like a really down-to-earth girl, which is always so nice to see! I highly recommend listening to her new EP here.

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Marvelous is…

Oatmeal. Never gets old.

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Marvelous is…

The Camera+ app that I used to edit the above picture of oatmeal. I need to use that app a lot more! I got it for $0.99, and I totally think it’s worth it. The filters, borders, and user-friendliness conveniently help to make my food look more appealing. I really wish I could photograph food better, but my impatience and usual lack of good sunlight often results in amateur pictures. Occasionally, I like to pretend I’m a food photographer, and Camera+ aids my daydreams 😉

Well, that’s about it for now. Nothing too exciting. I am really excited for all the things that are happening this month though! November is definitely one of my favorite months, so I’ll be talking more about the upcoming events I’m looking forward to.

Have a lovely Monday!

So tell me: Have you ever tried Puerto Rican food? Mofongo? What kind of music are you loving lately? Do you use photo-editing apps?