Saturday, February 20, 2010

De Leon Springs, A Destination

De Leon Springs is an amazing area full of rich history! Native Americans inhabited this area as long as 6,000 years ago, it was visited in the 1500's by Spanish explorers, and in the 1800's De Leon Springs became a very popular tourist destination known for its "Fountain of Youth" the natural sulfur and fresh water spring that gives the town its name. Historical significances include Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, Seminole Indians, Civil War battles, and wildlife enthusiast John Audubon expeditions.

In addition to the history there are also several notable attractions in town.

De Leon Springs State Park is right in downtown and has a swimming area that goes to depths of 30 feet at the boil and remains 72 degrees year round. The spring flows at a rate of 20 million gallons per day! The park also includes picnic areas, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboat rentals. The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant is also located within the park, allowing tourists and locals to cook pancakes at their table all while enjoying the views of the park.

Lake Woodruff Wildlife Refuge is also located in De Leon Springs. It has almost 22,000 acres of swamp, forest, and wetlands, attracting deer, alligators, otters, and an insane amount of birds. There are miles of walking trails where visitors can walk right next to an assortment of wildlife.

In addition, Spring Garden Ranch, the largest training facility for Standard bred horses in the country is also located in town. The Ranch has a restaurant that is open for breakfast and lunch and overlooks the track. Diners are able to be spectators as world renowned horses train right in front of the restaurant which is enclosed by windows, providing a great view.

De Leon Springs is a quaint, small town located right in the bustling area of Central Florida. It is located 20 miles west of Daytona Beach, known for Bike Week, Biketoberfest, The Daytona 500, and of course the beach itself; an hour north of Orlando, and all of the attractions it has to offer, Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World to name a few.

Need a place to stay while in town? Check out Spring Water's Inn!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Embracing Nature on your Wedding Day

Planning an outdoor wedding does not have to be totally stressful. Sure there are weather conditions to contend with and because there so many more variables involved, than in say a banquet hall, there is always the chance of something unexpected happening. However if you don’t try to fight nature, but rather embrace it you will be less stressed and your wedding will be beautiful!

Here are some tips for embracing nature:

1. There are certain times of the year that are more prone to bad weather than others. For instance August in Florida is always hot and there are almost always rain showers; February is most often cold. Doing your research and making informed decisions will help you to book your wedding during one of those times in Florida that made you want to marry outdoors to begin with. Spring and fall are much more predictable. The temperature is generally mild and although it does rain, it is not as likely. Also check your Farmer’s Almanac, it can offer helpful trends.

2. During times of the year that the temperature is unpredictable, i.e. beginning and end of winter, budget for patio heaters or fans. According to , the average temperature high for February 13 locally is 71 degrees, with the record temperature high being 90 degrees. Today the forecast high is 52 degrees. That is quite a spread of temperatures. Budgeting for a heater would relieve some of the chill. Also, planning a date sometimes even a week or two earlier or later may make a huge difference in the predictability of temperatures.

3. Find a venue that can offer a covered area, even if you only use the tent/pavilion/indoor building as a backup you can rest easier know you will not need to scramble last minute to make alternate plans. As you plan your décor, seating charts, etc. also have a back up plan as to what décor you will use if under a tent, rather than under the stars! Also, please remember your vendors! For instance, a DJ, especially needs to be in a covered area to protect their equipment.

4. Find a venue that will work with you in the chance of severe weather. Even an indoor wedding can be problematic in the chance of hurricane (or a blizzard, depending on your location). A venue should work with you to reschedule your date if weather has prohibited your traveling guests from attending or the weather becomes a safety concern.

5. Last but not least, RELAX. At the end of the day you and your honey will be married and starting your life together, regardless of whether you danced under a tent or under the stars!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pictures and Date for Flavors of West Volusia

On April 29th, Harmony Gardens will be hosting the second annual Flavors of West Volusia. This annual event brings together fine quality restaurants from the west Volusia area and guests from all over Central Florida for a restaurant tasting event designed to support the Mission to Costa Rica sponsored by Oasis, Deland. Last year 16 restaurants, including the very best that our area has to offer, participated by bringing samples of their cuisine to be tasted by over 100 people from the area. Most of our restaurants have said they wish to return again this year. We are hoping through the efforts of our volunteers to more than double the number of guests while holding the number of restaurants about the same. In addition to the restaurant tasting we will also have a silent auction. Items from last year’s auction included gift certificates from restaurants, golf courses, spas, attractions, and items from local art galleries and artists.

The date for this year's Flavors of West Volusia is Thursday, April 29 at 7:00 pm. Please mark it on your calendar. If you would like to participate or attend, please call 386.804.8404 or email for more information.

Here are some pictures of last year's event.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2nd Annual Flavors of West Volusia

We are getting prepared for Flavors of West Volusia 2010. This event is awesome. Last year we had fifteen restaurants from the West Volusia area that came out and provided sample menu items to our guests. Everyone ended up stuffed and got to try some great restaurants!! In fact, as I was planning the event I found out about several new restaurants that I did not even know existed and even more that I had not tried. I am so excited because it took one taste and now I am a faithful patron at a few of them. The other great aspect of the event is that it is a fundraiser for a mission trip to Costa Rica.

The team that went to Costa Rica last year helped a group of Nicaraguan refugees and local Costa Rican children. They helped in a local community center by providing meals and activities to children that often do not receive any other meal. They also purchased school supplies and uniforms so that children that have been unable to attend school in the past are now able to do so.

One other area that the group assisted with was at an alcohol and drug rehab center. They did construction projects, rebuilding a roof and building a bathroom. This year the team of people that are going will again assist with the community center providing meals and activities. In addition they will do some construction projects to make the center's structure safer and a better resource for the community.

Flavors of West Volusia is a great opportunity to attend a fun event, sample some amazing restaurants, and support a great cause!

The format will be similar to last year with music, a silent auction, and a relaxing low key environment to sit and enjoy the gardens and good company. Please consider joining us this year!

I will post more information on the participating restaurants soon, in addition to date and time, etc. as well as pictures from last year's event!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Brittany & Dane Wedding

Here are some pictures from one of our November weddings last year. I LOVED this couple!! They were so cute and their wedding was so much fun!