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A Family Beach House Vacation in Englewood Florida

Talking about happier times because despite the incredibly awful, life changing news we got about our beloved cat Tito, our shortened vacation to Englewood beach was loaded with family and food and you know I am all about that.

Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliates so when you click on the link and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I will earn commission and it is what helps me keep Mind on Nutrition running!

Zack and I live far away from both of our parents. We grew up in upstate New York. Did I ever tell the story about how we met? Maybe another time! Anyways, we were both born and raised in upstate New York right between Lake George and Saratoga Springs.

It was a great town and it was only 15 minutes from the one of the most beautiful lakes in the country nestled in the Adirondack mountains. We grew up loving the outdoors, hiking so Denver was a natural spot for us to move.

His parents were also born and raised in New York and live there still. My parents? They are both from different areas. My dad is from Sicily. He emigrated from Sicily and met my Mom in Massachusetts. My mom grew up a marble’s throw away from Boston. What my parents had in common were a love for the ocean and sea and definitely raising a family.

I’m biased, but they were pretty freaking great at that part.

I’m the youngest of four siblings and my parents were pretty much ready for retirement when I was graduated college. I mean they had been parenting both kids and animal children for about 30 years so when I was just about on my own they moved to Florida. First Port Charlotte then Englewood which is where Zacks family, coincidentally enough, took family vacations when the kids were younger.

There are a lot of coincidences in my life and why I have a 'Coincidence" highlight on my Instagram.

So, fast forward and Zack and I live in Denver, celebrating 2 years on May 23rd 2018 and visiting our families is a top priority when we plan how to use our PTO.

May 23 2016

It’s kind of a pain having this triangular pattern of distance between us. Here we are in the West while his family and 2 of my siblings and their families are in the NorthEast while my parents and my other brother & sis in law to be are in Florida.

So when Zack's parents told us they booked a rental on Manasota Key in May we were over the moon thrilled. We were actually in Florida when we booked the flight using SouthWest credit card points. I remember driving to Tampa International Airport and Zack booked our flights in the car. Gotta love apps these days!

On Route to Florida we were in May 19th. Uber picked us up at 5:30 and we had only 1 little mishap.

After going through TSA Zack realized our boarding passes never loaded on the SW app! That was an unexpected bummer. But good news because we didn’t notice til we were basically at the ID & Boarding pass check, the airport employee gave us a get out of line free card (i made that name up). All we had to do was run to the kiosk to print our boarding passes and high tail it back this time to the North end of TSA.

Our flight was not delayed and other than some rainy weather we had a pretty perfect flight to Fort Myers Airport.

Heading back to the beach house I was a hungry hippo so we planned a pit stop at Publix, a grocery store chain in Southwest Florida.

We got our shop on and being as hungry as I was I got some ready to eat rotisserie chicken & salads to make myself a hearty bowl of veggies and protein. I also bought...

Unsweetened Silk Cashew Milk

Egg whites


Publix Brand Organic Coffee

Vanilla Macaron Tea

Grapefruit Polar Seltzer


Sweet potatoes

Baby carrots


Quaker Lightly Salted Rice Cakes

Frozen Mixed Berries

Frozen Vegetable Mix

Frozen Cauliflower

Oh yeah I only had a basket which are definitely smaller than usual. And I committed mad food waste I’m not proud of :(

I was standing picking out potatoes, a full basket in one arm and the other arm hold onto the produce, including a 3-head romaine lettuce pack. All of the sudden the Romaine heads pooped out of the bag onto the floor!

I was so bummed because not only did I just waste food but like the country was just in a “no romaine lettuce” and so to think that I wasted the now perfectly edible lettuce made me so bummed!

An associate came over to help and deliver me a clearly needed grocery cart !

Then I went on my merry way, cashed out and we drove to the beach house.

The property was a 3 bedroom 3 bathroom home right on the beach. Couldn’t be more perfect. Zack's mom , a foodie like me, had the kitchen stocked with delicious and nutritious eats!

Literally the counters were covered with food. I was like yeah! This is like camp. We had everything from kale and Ezekiel bread to nacho Doritos and frozen milky ways bars because #balance 🙌🏼

Zacks brother who I consider my brother at this point was also with us and the five of us took that night to just hang out and walk on the beach. We were afraid of the forecast since it was exclaiming rain and a side of rain but we for sure lucked it and watched the most beautiful sunset that night.

I was in touch with my mom that evening and we were making plans for Family Dinner on Sunday, literally my dream. The only thing that would have made Sunday Night Dinner Better was of my brother & sisters family could have been there too!

Food + Family that’s all I’m after in this life!

Sunday morning was your classic beach day. I did attempt a workout on the beach and did some body weight and resistance band workout, in the sand.

Know that working out in the sand is extra difficult and resistance bands, at least mine, got super sandy during transition. I was working out in this Athleta too and these swim shorts and they def held up to the active beach day test!

I didn’t time the full workout but at a certain point I was like yeah, I’m good and dove right into the waves.

Ahhh, sweet salty ocean cooling down my body was just what I needed.

I played in the waves for a bit then returned back to the casa and ate some grub.

Then it was bathing suit number 2 and I wore this little number because I was just so in love with the Yellow and oh yea , your girl needed to correct those tan lines from the swim shorts haha!

Our beach afternoon was saturated with sunshine until the little blip of a rain storm rolled on through. I didn’t mind it in the least because t was like high intensity interval beaching and I pretty much like to approach everything I do with a HII format:





So i went back inside, showered and got into Athleta Trekkies and a crop top i got from a thrift store. I threw on my Sicily shoes that I just call Sicily shoes because they look Sicilian but I actually bought them on Lulus !

Like families always do when they gather, we each conversed with a drink while we waited for the sauce to finish.

On the dinner menu was a spread that can please ALL crowds. Food is meant to bring people together after all.

We had:

Grilled chicken

Homemade Primavera Sauce


Big Ass Salad

And on the table we had dressings, olives, sun dried tomatoes, giardiniera , salt & peppah.

Everyone served themselves from the big bowls of food at the table. This is “family style” that’s actually a real term in foodservice .

So we dined and chatted. I was in family dinner bliss. Oh and then we got in the great debate of Yanny v Laurel 2018. Hilariously enough, the Leonard’s all heard Yanny (actually Yammy) as did my parents.

Me, my brother, and LEAH heard Laurel.

It was concluded that since the person who discovered this discrepancy was looking up the term Laurel but she herself heard Yanny, my brother, LEAH and myself are technically right.


Although I heard Yanny on Zacks phone once 🤔

Dessert was Kinder Eggs imported from Sicily. It rocks having grandparents there;-) and little cakes that were variety of flavors: strawberry, lemon, coconut and rum. Talk about analysis paralysis. I couldn’t decide so I just ate he Kinder Egg Chocolate haha.

We ended the night with hugs and see ya laters. I drove Zack & Dylan back to the beach house and we all fell asleep soon after.

Monday was another beach day. Nothing too eventful which is kind of the point of a vacation right? Just chill and relax. Unless you book a sightseeing trip with a loaded itinerary like in Italy! That’s a different type of vacation. I hope someday Zack & I get to experience a culinary nutrition adventure. Oldways hosts them annually! I’m holding out for a trip to Sicily :)

I hung out with my Mom and she was meal prepping some salads. She made the Cauliflower Salad that I have the recipe for here only she roasted the cauliflower which gave it a tremendously delicious flavor.

Then we took some photos because you know, why not!? Haha. Zack and Dylan went jet skiing and then we all met back at the beach house.

I was chilling in the backyard, Zack's dad was grilling. Zacks mom collected seashells and she found this shell with heart-shaped cutout. Didn’t know it would be used as a background for a sorrowful thank you but that’s the way it goes.

We had a smorgasbord of foods to choose from that dinner, again something for everyone!

Chicken, hot dogs, burgers, buns, lettuce, watermelon, baby carrots, condiments and chips!

Monday night was Dylan’s last night and for some fun reason I acquired the nickname mashed potatoes (thanks to Dylan!). Not to fond of that nickname. He called me Mona Lisa earlier and I way more prefer that !

I called him Tuna. Just like Jim from the office.

Do you watch the office? Funny shit!

Anyways Monday night was Dylan’s last night. Somehow one thing led to another and we were playing hide and seek. Zack and I would take turns and Dylan was basically the counter. I had the best hiding spot but the worst composure!

I hid behind the curtain and would have never been discovered had I not bursted out loud laughing...twice.

You always laugh harder when you’re not supposed to laugh. It makes it way funnier.

Dylan was leaving early the next morning so we all turned in pretty early. I did manage to fix myself a fudgy protein bowl which was delicious!

I got the recipe from Kara Corey Fit Life and she also turned me on to this vegan per vitam protein! Definitely check it out if you are looking to buy a plant based protein powder that tastes good. It’s sweetened with stevia.

That brings us to Tuesday which was Siesta Key Day!

We were on the road by 930 and arrived at Siesta Key Beach. Plenty of parking, too:) we set up our spot and I took some bathing suit pics to share one of my Athleta bathing suits. I bought these pieces with my own mula.

Post photo opp I went for a walk then a run down the key, in just my bathing suit. I had 2 really profound thoughts: 1 this bathing suit is fucking amazing because it’s staying in place while I run and 2 I have come a long long ways since my last trip to Sarasota . By that I mean my confidence.

I’ve been to Siesta Key Beach 4 times in my life.

  1. The first was in 2011. I was a senior in high school and I was into a healthy lifestyle. I ate healthy and exercised and paid attention to my body.

  2. Next was in 2013. I was really into my body and was the leanest I ever gotten in my life. My parents called Zacks nd I buff and fit. I was he most confident I had ever been in a bathing suit on the beach.

  3. Trip number 3 in 2016 was the lowest I have ever felt about myself. I was in the thick of graduate school, totally not giving a fuck about calories and just ate to feel better. I didn’t even take my shirt and shorts off because I was hat uncomfortable in my own skin

  4. Then there was this trip. It’s 2018 and I’ve been pushing myself a little more in the gym. I even hired my own dietitian to keep me accountable :) (Shout out to Tony Stephan RD!)

In terms of confidence levels from highest to lowest I would rank my beach trips as follows: 2013, 2018, 2011, 2016.

By that I mean I really am not as confident as I was when I was at my meanest but I’m way more confident now and honestly just owning what I got.

I could go all day pointing out flaws but why bother these are subjective and I would rather spend my mental energy on feeling GOOD about myself you know?

So that day I learned the best things to take to the beach are a bathing suit you can do your fave activity in and confidence!

Tuesday was the last day for Zack and I. Just as the sun set we found that our beloved cat Tito passed away. There is a full post on that.

We booked our flight back home and Southwest was so thoughtful and accommodating we were able to switch our flight absolutely free!

Now it was because of awful circumstances and the associate Zack spoke with was very empathetic to our situation. Plus, Zack holds a Southwest credit card.

So who knows why we were able to get the flights exchanged so easily. It could be a number of reasons but we’re just thankful we invited no extra costs because we already lost time with our family and our cat.

So other than that end part we were having a fantastic vacation. I couldn’t have asked for a better set up when I think about a beach vacation.

Waking up and throwing on a bathing suit (I packed 11 total!) is living!

I would have loved to stay longer and spend more time with he families. That said, Zacks and I are getting married and we want to have a “family vacation with wedding elements”. We are looking at properties on Siesta Key Beach that can sleep at least 12 adults and is right on the beach.

We plan to have a tiny ceremony in the sand and then catered dinner. I’ll take any recommendations you or someone you know may have!

So now we are back in Denver. We’re a smaller family than when we left but the love is still as grand as it could be here in our little home. I love vacation but since we had taken the full week off, Zack and I are kind of having a “staycation”.

Today we went to Red Rocks and we took Belinda with us.

Tomorrow we’re both going to work and then it’s a 3-day weekend! No Memorial Day plans for us as of yet but I’m sure it will involve food and the family we made here in Denver :)

It will also involve shopping at Nordstrom since they're having a mid-year sale!

Disclosure: Some of the links are affiliates so when you click on the link and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I will earn commission and it is what helps me keep Mind on Nutrition running!