Spring Break: By Land, By Sea, By Air

Beach Cruisin’

I took my Mom to get a beach cruiser bike. This will give her another fitness option in addition to walking and swimming. My Mom has a few more weeks before she can ride due to another back surgery. Regardless of her circumstances my Mom always knows how to stay on balance.

18 Wheelin’

I got the ultimate “Pull Up” from a special someone. It was so thoughtful for him to route his job to visit me. We took a ride in his huge cabin to Plant City to get cargo that was going to Syracuse, NY.

Bisou, Bisou!

Chain of Lakes

Winter Haven, Florida has 24 lakes that are connected by canals. My parents and I took a pontoon cruise around lakes Lulu, Shipp, and Eloise.

My Jewels, Phillip Sr. and Alice Smoot.
The Smoots

Lake Eloise is the water ski capital of the world. There are water ski shows that are performed at the site of Legoland, formally known as Cypress Gardens.

Legoland Pirate Ski Show area, Legoland Coaster, Tiny island used to shoot scenes on Giligan’s Island, The Florida-shaped pool used by Ester Williams.

These are a few of the beautiful lakeside homes around Lake Eloise:

Lake Eloise Homes

Sand Key Park

Being centrally located, I have the choice between Daytona Beach or Clearwater Beach. My Mom’s dentist told her about a low-key area called Sand Key Park just south of Clearwater. I am so glad we took her advice to avoid the Spring Break crowds.

Me and Mom. Ocean air without a care.

Sand Key Park has all day parking for $5 with plenty of spaces.  This area is for people who want a laid back beach experience without water sport rentals and pirate ship cruises.  Sand Key has umbrella and cabana rentals for $25 and there are two food trucks. 

Same ocean, less crowds as Clearwater.

The weather was a perfect 78°, with no humidity.  I took a 4.5 mile walk on the nature trail to Gulf Blvd.  I re-entered the beach through an access by some condos and kept walking South.  I was amazed to see how empty Sand Key was during the peak Spring Break season. I was a mile from Belleaire Beach when I walked back with Pier 60 in my view.

Sand Key Beach

Lakeland Sun’n Fun 5K

Lakeland has a strong running community with great races. The Sun ‘n Fun 5K course was very unique. I’ve run on the Indy 500 track, Churchill Downs infields, and football stadiums, but never on an airport runway.

Lakeland Linder Regional Airport

For my 5K results, I placed 4th place in my age group with five seconds away from getting a medal. I’ve been eating too many crepes and calzones, I guess. I placed 19/280 in the women’s division, and 59/476 overall .

The 5K was one of the many events for Lakeland’s annual air show. Five U.S. Navy Blue Angels flanked the starting line.

It was a foggy morning that turned into blue skies just in time for the hot air balloon race.

The tragic death of Nipsey Hussle occured during this trip. I’ve had Victory Lap on repeat ever since. His life and legacy sparked my spirit to be a better person.

R.I.P. Nipsey. The Marathon Continues 🏁…

KelsieLou 💕

Posted in family, fitness, Florida, health, running, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Calzones Made Better @Home

Recently, a calzone that was undercooked with a struggling portion size was served to me from national pizza chain. The food was so bad that the manager gave me $30 worth of gift certificates that I gave away.

I can’t give up on one of my favorite meals, so I’ve learned how to make calzones on my own.

The basic ingredients

The dough can be homemade, but while on vacation a shortcut was made with store bought dough.

Roll out the dough and add your favorite fillings. Don’t be afraid to break out one of those refillable water bottles if there is no rolling pin on hand. 😊

Add what ever you like. Do not precook the veggies.

You can go all veggie, or load up like I did with pepperoni, ham and turkey kielbasa. The turkey kielbasa was browned before adding to the calzones. All of the other ingredients will cook in the oven.

Spicy sausage can be used too🌶️

Layer mozzarella and parmesan cheeses between layers of meats and veggies.

Hook it up!

Add beaten egg around the dough to seal the calzone in a half moon shape.

Don’t act stingy with the cheese, especially when using the store brand😄

Twist the leftover dough to make a rope design. Brush some beaten egg over the calzone to give it that golden color.

All of the hard work is done

Bake in the oven on 400° for 15-17 minutes.

You can use a cookie sheet.

Note: I prefer to have tomato sauce on the side. Some people prefer the tomato sauce to be inside. If you prefer the latter, you will have a stromboli.

Either way, you will have control over what you eat, fresh ingredients and no worries about inconsistent restaurant food.

Old Chicago who?

Bon appetit!😘

💕Kelsie Lou💕

Posted in food, recipes | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

French Crêpes Recipe

Banana and chocolate with roasted almonds/ Strawberry and chocolate


  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 2 cups of Flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 4 Tbsp of Rum
  • 3 Tbsp of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sliced almonds
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Nutella cacao spread
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Bananas and Strawberries


In a mixing bowl add: flour, sugar, eggs, oil, vanilla extract and butter.  Add milk slowly as you whisk the ingredients into a smooth consistency.  Add the Rum at the end, and mix a little bit more.

Roast the sliced almonds in a small pan.  Set aside to use as a topping.

Heat a nonstick pan and oil very lightly. Pour in a ladle of dough.  Spread mixture in the pan by rotating the pan. Cook over low heat.  Flip one time, and remove from heat.

Spread desired amount of Nutella across the crêpe.  Create your own design with fruits rolled or folded.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce.


Bon Appétit


Posted in family, food, Photography, recipes | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Doing the Most French Toast

1. Cut French bread into 1″ slices.

2. Soak in milk, egg, vanilla extract and brown sugar.

3. Brown toast in pan with butter until golden brown.

4. Make your own syrup with strawberries using butter and sugar.

5. Garnish with strawberries and blueberries.

Bon Appetit!


Posted in food, recipes | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Maffé Chicken & Vegetable Dish

This delicious meal was prepared for me.  It was so good that I had to share the recipe.maffe

Serves 4-6 people


  1. 1 and ½ lbs Chicken Thighs (or one whole chicken)
  2. 3 Carrots
  3. 3 Turnips
  4. 3 Parsnips
  5. 3 Sweet Potatoes
  6. 1 large yellow Onion
  7. ½ clove crushed Garlic
  8. 1 small can Tomato Paste
  9. 3 Bay Leaves
  10. 8-9 ounces Creamy Peanut Butter (half of a small jar)
  11. 2 Lemons
  12. 4 Cups of Water
  13. 3 teaspoons of chicken bouillon
  14. Salt and Pepper to taste
  15. 1 cup Peanut oil
  16. 3 cups Jasmine rice
  17. 6 Habanero Peppers
  18. Fresh Parsley (garnish)


Add ½ cup peanut oil to a Dutch Oven.  Sauté finely chopped garlic and onions.  Add tomato paste and stir.  Add water, bouillon and Bay leaves to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Add all of the vegetables.  Reduce to a simmer, and cover.

Prepare Jasmine Rice.

Remove skin from chicken and sauté in a pan with ½ cup of peanut oil until brown on both sides.

Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Remove all the vegetables from the Dutch Oven, so only the sauce remains.  The vegetables can go on baking sheet in the oven to keep warm until serving.

Stir in peanut butter and juice from two lemons with a wooden spoon on high heat until well mixed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Lower heat and add sautéed chicken to the sauce.  Cover Dutch Oven, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serving Suggestion:


This dish is nicely paired with a glass of Chardonnay.

Kelsie Lou

Posted in food, health, recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Louisville Loop

Happy New Year Everyone!

It has been a while since my last post.  I type this with soreness in my right hand from a fractured little finger that happened a few weeks ago.  I was finishing a 5-mile run to prepare for a 10k that I wanted to run in Florida over Christmas Break.  I tripped and fell on the sidewalk less than a block away from my house.  I twisted my left foot, had water on the left knee, a broken right pinky, and a cracked Galaxy 8.  😬

I will not dwell on my fall.  This post is about the joy that I have found over the last two months while biking along the Louisville Loop.

louisville loop regions

If you recall, last year I purchased a road bike with goals to compete in triathlons.  I raced a sprint distance where I could have placed in my age group had I not struggled in the biking section.  No matter how much I wanted to get into the sport, I could not adjust to being clipped on the pedals and changing gears.  The outdoor cycling experience was a lot harder than indoor spin classes in terms of coordination and safety.

Not one to give up, I decided to try a mountain bike.

kelsie smoot louisville bike

Ride #1:  Ohio River Valley

My first ride started at Chickasaw Park based on a co-worker’s suggestion.  I was confused about where to get on the Loop because of construction along Southwestern Parkway.  I parked at the tennis courts and rode out to Southwestern Parkway.  There were green signs for Bike Route on a side street, but I didn’t want to go into the residential area.  I continued past the construction into Shawnee Park.  I finally found the paved area for the Louisville Loop.

shawnee park louisville loop

My first reaction was excitement to see Louisville from a different perspective.  It was a little scary hearing ruffling in the woods from wildlife.  It took so long to get set up on the new bike that I was losing daylight.

I came to a sign that said the area was closed due to high water.  I didn’t see any water and figured I could ride until the path was blocked.  I kept riding and got to the Shawnee Golf course.  The next barrier was a complete road block I could not get around.  I ended up riding on the golf course.  It was cold and I didn’t expect anyone to be golfing, so I kept on peddling.  The 10-mile ride seemed short and not much of a workout.

When this section is opened, it is supposed to go all the way to the Big Four Bridge.

Ride #2:  Floyd’s Fork

The next ride was at Beckley Creek Park, which I am familiar with from marathon training and the St.Patrick’s Day Half Marathon.

kelsie l. smoot

I got there in the afternoon and it just so happened that the Louisville Marathon was getting their last finishers.  I felt bad for the runners, because it was a very cold morning for a marathon.  The park is beautiful and more ideal for biking than running because of the concrete.

louisville loop parklands mile 73.7

The path went on forever.  It is easy to get caught up in the newness of scenery and forget the same miles going out need to be covering getting back to the starting point.  I spoke with a couple at the Turkey Run Park rest area.  They mentioned how The Loop connected to Broad Run Park.  It came with a warning that there were hills in that area.  From Beckley Creek Park to Turkey Run was about 24 miles round trip.

parklands louisville loop

Ride #3:  Brown Forman Silo

The next ride on the Louisville Loop was Broad Run Park to Turkey Run.  I covered 9 miles on this ride and it was very hilly!  I was low gear for most of this ride.  Turkey Run Park is home to the Brown Forman Silo that has been transformed into an observation tower.  There are 109 steps to reach the lookout platform.

brown forman silo observation platform

louisville loop view from brown forman silo

Again, I was seeing parts of Louisville that were new to me.  I went to Broad Run to walk around when it first opened because my parents lived in the area before they moved to Florida.

Ride #4:  Ohio River part 2

On Thanksgiving Day, I skipped the Turkey Trot races and went for a 22-mile ride on the Ohio River Levee Trail.  I began at Farnsley-Moreman and rode to the Watson Lane Trailhead.  From Watson Lane, I rode until a split.  The left side goes to the Ohio River Overlook.  The right side continues the Louisville Loop to Chickasaw Park.

louisville loop path to chickasaw or ohio river overlook

louisville loop ohio river overlook

It was getting dark, and the oatmeal I ate for breakfast was not enough fuel.

louisville loop dusk

Ride #5:  Ohio River part 3

I was determined to ride from Farnsley-Moreman to Chickasaw Park.  The Levee part is okay, because the scenery is nice.

louisville loop riverview park levee

The boring part of this ride is coming out of Riverview Park.  This section is along an industrial park area of Cane Run Road.  It goes around Louisville Gas and Electric stations.

There is a part that I liked in a wooded area.  Sadly, I can tell that this section of the loop is not as respected and taken care of like the Parklands sections.  The residents in this area are to blame for the graffiti and using motor bikes.  A section of the trail was very muddy from motor bike tire marks.  I heard one behind me and pulled over to let him pass.

After the Levee Section, the Louisville Loop goes into a residential area towards an open road.  I did not like being out there on a 50 mph, two lane road.  It was very industrial with factories and 18 wheelers passing by.  Someone in a pickup truck thought it would be funny to yell out the window to startle me.  I’ve experienced jerks yelling obscenities while running, so it wasn’t a huge deal.  Some people are just ignorant.

I was happy the Loop took me back onto a traffic free area by a junkyard and going into Rubbertown.  The Louisville Loop had made full circle when I came out onto Southwester Parkway.  I must admit that I was tired mentally from the concentration and physically.  This was my longest distance for running and biking with a little over 28 miles covered in three hours.

Ride #6:  Parklands

I like riding in the Parklands because of the scenery.

louisville loop parklands views


This was a 16-mile ride to keep it reasonable in terms of going out and back in under two hours.  The trail was blocked due to high waters in some areas.  I saw a guy with a Sheriff bag on his bike and asked how did it look ahead.  He told me it was okay, but very muddy.


With the mild weather in Kentucky, there were a lot of cyclist out on my last ride.  I couldn’t help but notice how smoothly the road bikes were moving.  I got looped on the Loop!

I posted my Trek bike for sale after I failed miserably at clips, gears, and a fall.  I am glad I didn’t accept some of the low ball offers I received.  I have decided to keep my road bike!  Clipping in is going to take some time.  I plan to switch to platform pedals and see how that goes.

The missing piece to the Louisville Loop is getting into the downtown area and figuring out where to go from there with the section in Shawnee being closed.  Once I am fully healed from the fall, I would like to take new routes around Cherokee Park into Seneca Park, and possibly out of town.

Whether mountain or road bike, I will keep you all in the Loop!

kelsie smoot louisville loop


Posted in Cycling, fitness, health, landmarks, Louisville, Sports | Tagged | 8 Comments

More Altitude, Less Attitude

When most people refer to Gatlinburg, TN they are talking about Sevier County which includes Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley and Sevierville.  There are so many activities to do year around.  This first thing for a relaxing getaway is picking out a nice chalet such as Happy Daze overlooking Bluff Mountain:

Happy Daze Cabin

1482 Honey Oaks Way, Sevierville TN

Happy Daze Pigeon Forge

Happy Daze Rec Room

You are likely to run into some traffic during the peak seasons of summer and fall.  There was a misty rain, but it did not stop crowds of people from enjoying time with their loved ones.


Everywhere you go in Gatlinburg from restaurants to adventure attractions will have photo booth areas.

Kelsie Smoot

Kelsie Smoot (3)

Kelsie Smoot (2)

The Ober Aerial Tramway is a two-mile ride from downtown Gatlinburg to the Ski Area and Amusement park.  The ride was packed with 120 people.  The three cables will hold up to a million pounds. I wouldn’t recommend the tram ride for anyone who is claustrophobic or does not like heights.

Ober Gatlinburg

Ice Skating is one of those skills that once you learn it, you are set for life.

Ober Gatlinburg Ice Skating

For dining options, there is a newer place called the Local Goat.  It must be good because the wait was almost two hours.  A quicker place was a block up called, Bullfish Grill that did not disappoint with their shrimp and grits.

Bullfish Grill Shrimp and Grits

Applewood Farmhouse was the selection for breakfast, but they were on their lunch menu after 11 am.  Their apple fritters served with a signature julep were nice appetizers.  The Fall day called for a traditional pot pie and fried okra.

Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant Pot Pie

No restaurant on the Parkway in all of Sevier County could compare to the food that was prepared in the Chalet.  No cap.  Fresh salmon, jasmine rice and veggies prepared for “Lady Kel.”

Pan Seared Salmon

No dinner is complete without dessert.

Apple Flambe

On a sunnier day, horseback riding at Five Oaks was a challenging, yet a beautiful experience.

Five Oaks Stables Horses

My horse’s name was Sally.  I let her do her own thing in terms of navigating the muddy trail.  It reminded me how teachers need to allow their students to be creative instead of being in total control of everything.

Horseback riding Gatlinburg

The trail was so muddy in parts that I felt bad for using this horse for my amusement.  I thought we were going to sink like the horse Artax on the movie, The Neverending Story.

Horseback Riding Five Oaks Stables

They said this ride was for all experience levels, but I would caution taking this excursion if you need a lot of learning reinforcement.  I was afraid most of the time, especially when the horse in front of me was getting wild near a cliff.

Pigeon Forge Horseback Riding

Like all valleys and mountains, I survived.  Ms. Sally wanted to get some food after dealing with my attitude the whole ride.

kelsie smoot (4)

When you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.



Posted in food, landmarks, restaurants, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

New Season, who ‘dis?

Fall Break from school called for a quick trip to Florida to visit my parents. The timing was perfect due to a crisis situation regarding my work as a therapeutic foster parent. Sleep has been difficult, and working out has not been on my agenda.

Somehow, I managed to run the Lake to Lake 10k in Lakeland. The course went from Lake Mirror, to Lake Morton, and around Lake Hollingsworth. I was familiar with the area from dining at Harry’s Seafood and sightseeing the architecture at Florida Southern College.

I was calm and focused at the start. I didn’t expect such a large turnout. I could tell by the conversations that a lot of people knew each other from the Lakeland Runners Club.

I would love to be in this club if I lived in Florida.  Lake Hollingsworth was selected by Under Armour as one of the top 20 places to run in the United States.


Keeping it real with my struggle face finisher pic. I sprinted the last half mile. The lady in the distance tried to pass. I wasn’t having it.


Results: 50:56/ 8:12 Pace

1/27 40-44 Age Group

8/232 Female

37/387 Overall

All participants were given finisher medals. I earned another blue ribbon for my collection.


I like how the race shirts are racer backs. More race directors should consider this functional style.


Later that night, I linked up with my homie Terrence who made the wise decision to relocate from Detroit to the Gulf Coast.


We started off at this Jamaican club in Tampa, then we club hopped in Ybor City.


I flew back to Louisville with the smoke settled on the unfortunate events I faced before I left.  The only way to go is up…to the 16th Floor for a nice dinner and conversation at Ruth’s Chris.


“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

At the end of the day, my Smootents show me love.  I owe it to them to be a whole teacher for 175 instructional days of the year.  Period.


“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

I’m not running ‘from’, I’m running ‘to’.


Posted in Education, fitness, Florida, health, running, Travel | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration

The Black Expo in Indianapolis, IN is a celebration of African American culture.  Underserved communities have a one stop shop with over $2,000 worth of free health screenings, job applications, voter registration and supporting black owned businesses.

Indy Black Expo Convention Center

Being in Indianapolis is like a homecoming for me.  From the ages of 17 to 23, I lived in Fort Wayne, IN while I earned my B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Indiana Tech.  After my first interview, I was hired as an Industrial Engineer at Ashley Industrial Molding, INC.  There was not much to do in Fort Wayne, so the short drive to “Nap” was where most of the entertainment was.

Downtown Indianapolis

The first Black Expo I attended was in 2001, when Alicia Keys and Jill Scott emerged as new artists.  It was also the time I fell in love with Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse after looking for a place to eat dinner.  From the sidewalk, I admired the fancy table settings and décor, not knowing what those menu prices were looking like.  My brother Jason said, “Never let Kelsie pick the restaurant again.”  That’s OK, because I’m still picky.

Fast forward to 2018.  It’s time to pass the torch to the next generation.  My foster daughter Brandy, and Savannah whom I have provided respite care for over the last two years got to experience their first Black Expo.

Brandy is entering her senior year, so we hit up all the college booths first.  I wanted her to practice speaking with people about her career goals.  She and Savannah enjoyed the STEM projects provided by Cummins.

Black Expo Cummins STEM

Cummins STEM engine

IU Indy Black Expo

“Royalty Lives in Your Blood”

Indy Black Expo Royalty Stage

Indy Black Expo Queens

Cultural Arts Gallery

Indy Black Expo Art Exhibit

ArthenticFit Indy Black Expo

Indy Expo Cultural Arts Pavilion

Indy Black Expo ArthenticFit

Indy Black Expo Cultural Arts

Indy Black Expo Art

Indianapolis Black Expo Art

New Jack Swing Concert

New Jack Swing Concert Indy Black Expo


I wanted the girls to meet my Mentor, Steven E. Babcock.  Steve is my go to for financial, career, and relationship advice.  I admire him for his 43 years as a Federal Mediator.  His talents are irreplaceable as he mediates cases across the U.S. and in Europe.  On top of that, Steve is a real estate investor with eight properties ranging from single family homes to triplexes where he mainly rents to people needing a second chance.

Steven E. Babcock Indianapolis

Speaking of #GOALS, my little brother Brad purchased a home just outside of Indianapolis.  I had to pull up on him and check out his renovations.  I’m proud of my Army Vet brother and his accomplishments.Bradford Smoot Kelsie Smoot

Kelsie Lou

Posted in Art, concerts, Education, family, foster parent, health, Indiana, Indianapolis, landmarks, mothers, Travel | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Don’t Worry, Beach Happy!

Summer should get a speeding ticket.  I’m trying to get the most out of Summer Break without doing too much and defeating the purpose.  I flew to Florida for a week to cool off from the 108° heat indexes in Louisville.  My Mom and Dad took me to Treasure Island Beach to watch the fireworks.

Phillip and Alice Smoot

Phillip L. Smoot

It was nice to experience a beach setting for the Fourth of July.  The fireworks were not as extravagant as we had expected.  Later, we found out that the company hired to put on the show had some issues.  To their defense, there were some storms in the area.

St. PETE BEACH Fireworks.gif

Another show on my agenda almost got cancelled due to Chris Brown’s arrest in West Palm Beach.  Thankfully, C-Breezy settled his legal matters so my Mom and I could enjoy the Heartbreak on a Full Moon concert.


Alice Smoot

Chris Brown Tour

We were seated in the second row behind the orchestra level.  I added valet parking to the ticket order for a treat to my Mom.  I was impressed with the stage set up being that his Heartbreak on a Full Moon tour is in amphitheaters instead of stadiums.

Chris Brown Concert

Chris Brown Tour Stage

The next day, I recuperated poolside with ensalada de frutas con chile.  Later that night, it was Giordano’s in Orlando for deep dish pizza and a shopping spree.

Giordanos Mexican Fruit Cup

Because Florida is my second home and future retirement destination, I am always looking to explore places off the beaten path.  Florida is home to the largest concentration of freshwater springs on the planet.  We picked Blue Spring State Park this time around.

St Johns River Cruise

We reserved a two-hour ecological cruise on the Saint Johns River to learn about the native plants and wildlife.  St. Johns River is unique because it flows north.  We spotted alligators, alligator nests, owls, egrets, eagles, and herons.

St Johns River Cruise Blue Spring Park

Blue Spring State Park

After the cruise, we walked on a boardwalk towards the Blue Spring swimming area.  My master swimmer Mother said she was not getting in that water!

Blue Spring State Park Swim

There were park rangers monitoring an alligator that was swimming nearby.  The swim area is very clear and we could see gar, catfish and a manatee sharing the same space.  I always thought manatees were slow mammals, but they actually swim 5 mph.  Michael Phelps tops 6 mph, which puts that manatee lifestyle into perspective.

Blue Spring Swimming alligator, gars, catfish

The spring water temperature is 72° year-round.  It felt so refreshing.  I wish I could have stayed longer and taken photos underwater.

I figured we would stop by Bethune-Cookman University as I had mentioned in my Memorial Day post about Daytona Beach.  I wanted to take a tour of the Mary McLeod Bethune Home, but it was closed due to a high-profile interview taking place.

Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial

I was a little disappointed, but June 10th is Ms. Bethune’s birthday and there was a huge block party to celebrate.  The atmosphere was like a family reunion with a free food buffet, music and activities for children.

We did the typical eat and run.  Ten minutes later, we were driving on Daytona Beach.

alice smoot kelsie smoot

It was very sad to leave Florida, but the beach ain’t going nowhere.  Sea you soon!

Daytona Beach Florida

Kelsie Lou

Posted in concerts, family, Florida, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments