A New Yorker in Florida: Top 5 Things that are Surprising to the NY transplant

In NY, particularly on Long Island, it is very common to hear neighbors and friend defecting to the Sunshine State.

“Geez, I can’t take this cold anymore! And my taxes are, like, 16k on my friggin’ house. I can’t take it! I’m soooo moving to Florida.”

Being a popular vacation destination for my fellow New Yorkers it would seem natural to want to live in the paradise that we visit a couple times a year.

Well, about a year ago, my family and I moved to Florida from Long Island, NY which was not a decision we took lightly. The winters had become too harsh and with the cost of living was going up exponentially, so we decided to cut the cord from our Motherland and become Floridians. Aside from the obvious changes, such as climate, we knew that our lifestyle would be altered drastically but there were a few changes that were surprising to this hardcore New Yorker.


The speed is much slower.

Yes, this seems obvious but it’s far more jolting than what you imagine. On Long Island at least, there is an ever present urgency to get things done that I wasn’t aware existed in my day to day life until I moved here. Deadlines, schedules, and specific goals were always present which made everything from driving through traffic to grocery shopping a “gotta go, go, go” mindset.

Was I aware of it? Nooooo. When you’re living in a constant state of urgency you really are not aware that the rest of the world doesn’t roll that way. In Florida, it gets done when it gets done. Though I’m sure there’s exceptions,  for the most part, there’s not a whole lot of rushing around to get things done. It took several months to take things down a notch and even then, I’m still “that intense New Yorker”.


Cookie Cutter Houses and HOA’s. 

I come from an area where the houses are often unique and personalized. You can have a Tutor home next to a Victorian and down the block a basic Cape. Each of them with their own personality that the family chooses to decorate with. Though there are some areas that have  their unique styles (see Cocoa Village) most areas are developments that have near identical houses with very few adornments to separate one house from another. This is often due to Home Owner Association (HOAs) that keep a certain standard so that property values stay consistent.

At first, this seemed very attractive. When you have lived next to a house that had an obsession with collecting beer and soda cans on the side of the house that left a certain aroma on hot summer days, yeah, an HOA would handle that.

However, as time passed, I can’t help but feel like I have been homogenized and sanitized to the point that I want to throw some funky colored paint on my house, put up a Gothic fence and a coffin mailbox just to stand out a little….or a lot. So get accustomed to accidentally pulling up to your neighbors identical house a few times or find areas that are pre-HOA. image

Photo credit to David Daniels

Photo credit to David Daniels


The Beaches are INSANE! 

I grew up on an island so living near the water seems necessary. Granted, I NEVER went to Jones Beach. The endless and expensive  parking lots, the loooong walk to the actual beach (through a smelly dank tunnel), then trying to find a spot that isn’t too close to the overflowing garbage cans….nope. Never appealed to me. Now I live a short trip to Cocoa Beach area. The parking is easy, inexpensive and is within steps of the beach. The walkway onto the beach is like a oasis of exotic plants. Each time I go, I use a different entry and they are all magical. The beach is so CLEAN yet mysteriously, there are no garbage cans in sight….apparently the locals take their beaches seriously. They leave nothing behind or volunteer to clean up regularly. I have gone to the beach about 2 dozen times since moving here a year ago, which is probably more than my entire life on Long Island.

In Florida for a year and I still can't get away from the black.

In Florida for a year and I still can’t get away from the black.

People don’t wear a lot of black.

 I know, it’s cliche but my entire wardrobe was black when I got here. This is partially because I’m a hairstylist and it’s what we wear but it’s also because I’m from Long Island. It’s a staple to our wardrobe and we have no idea how much black you really wear until you are walking around in the blazing sun. It’s a problem that I am working on. I think I have 5 items of clothing that have color now.


Floridians are crazy friendly. 

Hey, New Yorkers have their own brand of friendly. Typically a little more formal and reserved, and only when absolutely necessary  but, yeah, we’re nice people, damn it! But here, it’s a whole different level of friendliness that, at first, I felt slightly off balanced. For instance, I go for a walk around my neighborhood, anyone who you cross, whether they are mowing their lawn, driving by or even just picking up their mail, they stop what they are doing and either wave or say hello.

No….I mean, EVERYBODY. It’s weird.

My friend came to visit from NY and we went for a walk. Every time we passed someone they said hello. He would stop talking, give them a suspicious look and say “Do you know them? Why are they saying hello?  Do they want something? Maybe we should avert our eyes” .

It’s not that we don’t like friendliness,  it’s just an adjustment. A lovely one but going back to #1, we are an intense breed of people and are typically too busy in our heads to say hello to every person who walks by.


I do have some honorable mentions because I can assure you there are more than 5 things that take some getting use to.

The skyline/sky…the sky should have it’s own show. Always changing and just so BIG with nothing impeding it’s view.

Flip Flops. It’s required so get a pedi and get use to your piggy a being free

Publix. One of the greatest grocery stores EVER.

Pop Up Neighborhoods. Just when you think you’ve gotten use to the lay of the land, a new neighborhood was built with a coordinated town square. Weird.


Foodie Friday-Crush Eleven In Cocoa Village


*Photo by Misti Blu


*Photo by Misti Blu

Crush Elevenin Cocoa Village, is the sister restaurant of The Fat Snook in Cocoa Beach. This rustic restaurant offers a very urban and modern vibe with fresh, local food and creative handcrafted cocktails. Nathan is our favorite bartender, who takes his passion home with him and is constantly crafting new spirits. They have taken bartending to a whole new level by creating artisan cocktails with a mix of prohibition and farmers market flare. My favorite was the Scotch with the chamomile tea ice ball.


*Photo by Misti Blu

Next, we tried a fresh cucumber and aloe martini that was surprisingly delicious. It was fresh and crisp and went down very smooth. There were so many jars with fresh herbs and  fruit for their many mixology needs.


*Photo by Misti Blu


*Photo by 360 Enable

We had an amazing platter featuring their Smoked Pork Terrine with a deconstructed pickle slaw and cheddar drop biscuit. The Fried Marcona Almonds are warm and coated in rosemary and sea salt. The platter also featured the Kale Chips with a sambal aoili. I love the fact that I can come here and switch up the normal burger and pizza routine with foodie options. If you have not been yet, they also have an amazing brunch! You can get banana pancakes with maple bacon brittle ice cream and salted caramel with a Patron XO Latte with a candied orange zest. Foodgasms!

*Photo by 360 Enable

*Photo by 360 Enable

Top 5 Tuesday-5 Ways to Get Out of a Funk

 Everyone from time to time gets in a funk. Personally, I do often. Here are some tips to stay positive and to keep your mind happy:

1) Go Herbal

 Going herbal is a healthier option for your mind and body. Valerian Root is my personal favorite. It helps with insomnia and anxiety. I like to think of it as a natural version if Valium. St. John’s Wort is an antidepression and for mood disorders. Chamomile and Kava Kava are very calming and help take the edge off. You can take these in herbal teas and capsules. I get mine from Mrs. Mango’s

2) Get a Pet


Many studies have shown that getting a pet can reduce stress in your life. Think about service dogs for PTSD patients or bringing a puppy into a nursing home or hospital. They put a smile on your face.  It is a different kind of love. Plus, who does not want a cuddle buddy?

Web MD Pets and Depression

3) Words of affirmation 

 Yoda is my guru. This is one of my favorite quotes: Do or do not. I need friendly reminders to stay positive and motivated. When I lack the drive or feel lost, I will browse words of affirmations and quotes until I feel motivated again.  

4) Get a hobby


I definitely have many hobbies. I draw, paint, wood work, write, play drums and take photos…. You name it! Baking is another hobby of mine. For others, going to the gym, hiking or playing soccer and being physically active are good hobbies to have. Having a hobby is something to look forward to. Like learning to play guitar, you have goals: Learn chords, learn a song, start a band! Find passion and a productive outlet. 

5) Hygiene


When you are in a funk, you are probably in bed and have not brushed your hair, or feel like a mess. Get your ass in the shower and wash your hair. Blast some upbeat music and get dressed, brush your teeth and put on a nice outfit. Then, go outside and see the sunshine. It is the best way to start your day. There is something about feeling fresh and looking good that can lift your spirit. If you still aren’t feeling it, get a haircut. 

  • If you still can’t get out of your funk, talk to a friend. You can also check your local resources online and find out about counseling or therapy. Many local colleges offer free services. 

Music Monday – Everymen 07/09/2015 Cocoa Village Show at Dog and Bone British Pub

This was my first time seeing Everymen at a live show. They are a fun-loving sideshow punkrock band from Lake Worth, Florida and tour outside of Florida often.  I remember coming to a show once but it was over and I missed everything. Everyone looked like they had a great time. Before the sweat, blood and music started, I asked everyone why they came tonight to see Everymen.




“The first time I saw them they spit whiskey and lit it on fire, then did the limbo with the standup bass while he was still playing. It is always a good live show with interaction with the crowd. Yeah! What what. But seriously, that guy over there, his cornrows are so cool that I want to lick the skin between the braids.” –Elisha

“They are always shirtless. I don’t really like them.” –Scott

“The standup bass guy is amazingly hot.” –Michelle

“Because they’re all amazing and I want a cuddle fest with them. Their music is amazing and they are great guys.” –Rosie

“The first time I met them, they played at a house party and played ‘My Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Yard’ and they just bring everyone to the yard!” –Carrie

“They’re some of my good friends.” –I forgot who said this.

“They…..” phone rings and walks away. –Logan

“I have nothing better to do.” –Austin

“Facebook bonding.” –Daniel

“My friends are fans so I came to see their fans. They always put on a good show.” –Bryan

“They are awesome. They breathe fire and ride unicycles. They are a sideshow band and nice guys.” –Andrew

“I come here every Thursday.” –Mike (Totally saw him dancing and enjoying himself later)

“You told me to come.” –Jan

“Just ‘cuz.” -Gus Papa Jems

“My girl is here.” –Christian

“It is the last show of the tour and I know it will be amazing.” –Leah

“They play awesome music and have an amazing presentation. They all take their shirts off too. ” –Natalie

“To see my brother Mike D off. So, brews and hugs.” –Wolfy

“I love them. They are so unique and put on a good show. I always make sure to see them when they are here. I love their story.” –Tracy

“Because I fucking love them.”-Aubrey

“Becca made me and they are peaceful loving awesome dudes who bring out a great crowd. I get to listen to great music while I work.” –Andy

” A show at Dog N Bone is always a good time. Free show and no charge for ladies to drink upstairs. Threaten me with a good time!” –TJ

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Reid gets hit in the face with a mic, “Shit happens at shows.” –Reid

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While they covered TLC’s “Scrubs” in an elbow to elbow packed venue, I realized that every single person there was having a good time. My body was getting misted with their sweat and my gin and tonic spilled on my feet with each bump from the crowd. EVERYONE had a huge smile on their face. These guys have been away from home and on tour since the beginning of June. They are very interactive with the crowd. People sing in their mics and they crowd surf while rocking out. Blood, bangos and beards. It was a gnarly and rowdy good time. They stopped mid song at one point to break up a fight. Reid got a battle wound but went right back to rocking out and having fun.

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By the end of the night, their shirtless sweaty bodies glistened under the smokey dim lights. Yes, they are all babes. The girls were right. Everyone was soaked in beer and sweet and wacking eachother with pool noodles.  I walked away with their vinyl and a huge smile. So, now I know: Why would anybody go to an Everymen show? To have a great fucking time!

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Everymen Website

Facebook aftermath: 
Watch a video clip from the show!

Street Style Saturday-Bobbi’s at Parkside


Bobbi’s at Parkside is a beautiful boutique facing the park in Cocoa Village. I must admit that I have sipped on a beer next door at The Village Idiot and popped in to see if there was anything I could wear for the evening without breaking the bank. Sure enough, I found a flowy black dress that I absolutely had to have. 

I love that Cocoa Village is growing and with this new strip by the park, it is full of amazing new and previous businesses. You can spend the entire day here. Start off with a caramel macchiato at Ossorio’s, who makes their caramel from scratch! Then, you can walk over to Bobbi’s and try not to buy EVERYTHING! I have a serious weakness for her jewelry, which she travels outside of the country to inport and personally assist in the designs. Of course, you need a nice cold beer after shopping. We later took the ladies, Elisha and Christie, to Crush Eleven for drinks and dinner, but that is an entire other blog post. Yum! It was definitely a fun ladies night!


What I love about Bobbi’s is that they treat you like family and she is incredibly involved in the community. She is always giving back and throwing fun events to get others involved on giving back as well. Her shop is unique and there is always something for everyone. Styles range from bohemian to beachy chic while remaining affordable. 


Hair by Misti Blu and Danni Gess from The Big Bang Studio

Makeup by Joyous Faces

Wardrobe and Jewelry from Bobbi’s at Parkside

Models: Elisha M & Christie Walker


Foodie Friday-Danni’s Easy 4 Ingredient Pignoli Cookies

One of my earliest memories growing up on Long Island is going to the local bakery with my Pop and our weekly order of Sunday morning pastries and hard seeded rolls. Back then bakeries were the only place where you could get your baked goods. In fact, I remember when supermarkets started adding bakeries to their stores and turning my nose to it. Baking is an art form. At the time, I couldn’t imagine people wanting to skip the experience of entering a wonderland of beautiful baked creations and the aroma of fresh bread. My siblings and I would fight over who got to go with Pop because we all knew the girl behind the counter would sometimes sneak a cookie to small children. Normally it was plain butter cookies but one time I managed to score a Pignoli Cookie.


Pignoli (pine nut) cookies have a perfect balance of a crispy outside and a softer, chewy interior that I’ve long tried to replicate. One of my favorite recipes was from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook which involves A LOT of sugar. Not going to lie, it’s divine but hey, it’s Martha Friggin Stewart! Of course it’s perfection.


Though that recipe is wonderful and worth attempting, I wanted to share a simple 4 ingredient recipe that was quick and equally delicious.  It presents as “special” and I often make it as a dessert for a dinner party because it goes so well with coffee or tea. This recipe only yields about a dozen cookies but you can double it with good results. The egg whites are what makes the cookies spread a little so if you enjoy a crispy thinner cookie go ahead an add the full 2 egg whites. Still delicious!

Preheat oven to 325
Place 2 oven racks in center and towards the top.

Almond paste 8oz carton
1 1/2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 c pignoli nuts

Cut the almond paste into smaller pieces, add sugar and blend well with a hand mixer or food processor. Add egg whites and blend. On a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet place a heaping tablespoon. You can use a bakery bag and star tip but It does not have to look perfect. Carefully cover each mound with pignoli nuts.

I was gathering ingredients for a more complicated recipe. Then thought why not just 4 ingredients!

I was gathering ingredients for a more complicated recipe. Then thought why not just 4 ingredients!

Bake on the center rack for 10 then move to upper shelf for 7 minutes or when tops look golden brown. Allow to thoroughly cool.
Easy enough?
Tell us what you think!

Foodie Friday-Grilling Tips from Murdocks Bistro

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It has been a busy work week! We finished the week off with a few cocktails and appetizers at Murdocks. They are pretty famous for their fried pickles and fried jalapeños. Great burgers too! With tomorrow being 4th of July, I snuck around back and asked the guys in the kitchen for some grilling tips:

  • Preheat your grill. Just like throwing a cake in the oven, you want to make sure it is hot and ready. Make sure you have your grill going for a good 15-20 minutes before you start grilling. 
  • After the grill is preheated, grab your wire brush and scrape up any debris. This is the best time to clean your grill. 
  • Coat your veggies in olive oil or coconut oil to prevent sticking or drying out. 
  • Make sure you soak your skewer sticks in water for an hour prior to throwing kebobs on the grill.
  • When glazing or saucing your protein, wait until the last few minutes to avoid burning the glaze. 
  • Let your steak rest for a few minutes after pulling it off the grill to allow the juices to absorb back into the meat. 

I am going to test these tips out tonight!  Chimichurri steak garnished with pierogis sautéed in bacon, onion and garlic with an avocado, cherry tomato and black bean salad.  Wish me luck! 

Wanderlust Wednesday-Not all those who wander are lost

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DSC_1190 NinaMBD

Everyone decides they want to leave their hometown one day and do bigger and better things. For me, I have had many hometowns. I was born in California and remember chasing chickens on my grandmother’s farm and ducking under tables when the earth shook. I also have memories of my first snowball fight in Portland, Oregon. I lost my neighborhood in a tornado in Clever, Missouri and lived in a house without power for a month during the 2004 hurricanes in Central Florida. My parents always had the itch to take off and start over somewhere new, where I was always forced to be the shy new kid in school. I had fantasies of being someone different in each new town, but always froze when stepping foot in a new school when I was walked into my classroom to interrupted the lesson and be introduced to all the quiet eyes peering into my soul.

I can safely say that I have worked or lived in Cocoa Village for over a decade now, which is something I never thought I would do: settle down somewhere. I always found myself wondering where my home is. What I have learned is that everywhere you go is a small town but with different people and new scenery. Cocoa Village is my home. I may wander off here and there in search of mountains and cute accents but I will always drift back. I have fallen in love with my morning routine of grabbing an iced caramel macchiato at Ossorio’s and walking to work to start my day. I love the historical detail in the buildings and the breeze from the river. So, yeah, I can finally say I found my home.

Model: Nina Justine

Hair and Makeup: Danni Gess & Misti Blu

Location: Jaded Emerald in Cocoa Village

Dress: Bobbi’s at Parkside

Necklace & Photography: Misti Blu Day

Motorcycle: Hard Luck’s Rootbeer Flake