Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thanks for the tips!

Thanks to all of you who sent me great tips, links to other bloggers who live in the Sunshine State. I'm really just trying to expand the list of blogs I frequent and would love to see & hear the perspective of others in the Sunshine State. Please feel free to forward other blog recommendations in/for/about Florida to me anytime!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Special Request

Attention all NativeMom fans, lurkers and accidental visitors! I have a request. 

I'm looking for blogs written by Floridians. The blog can be about living in the sunshine state, or not. The only thing I require is that the writer currently lives in Florida. If you wouldn't mind taking a moment to post a comment and recommend a blog or two you may know that meets this very narrow, I mean special, criteria, I would be most eternally grateful!

Thanks in advance and Enjoy!

Sign of the Times

A friend of mine posted this on his facebook page. I loved it and decided to share (I hate you bike thief!!). It got me thinking about all the ways I could incorporate this person's philosophy into my own life. Don't just get mad, post a sign!

Signs I should have posted recently:

Attached to the check I wrote to the John Hall Chevrolet Service Department 2 weeks ago, the sign would read:

I don't know why I'm paying you. You did a crappy job. Warranties are a rip off. But shame on me for paying for the warranty to begin with. I'll never purchase another warranty in my life because I might as well throw money in the wind. And by the way, Angie the service rep, you can't spell "bitch" with the letters in 'customer service', but nice try.

On a cocktail napkin at the overly expensive bar where I was stuck while attending a conference in Boca Raton recently.

Wow! $12 for a glass of crappy chardonnay? That takes guts! I can honestly say it was the worst chardonnay I've ever had. I think maybe it was because it was hard to enjoy the wine while I was still choking on the ridiculous tab. What the hell is wrong with you folks in Boca Raton? Do you have to pay three times as much for everything just to make yourselves feel superior. I got news for you, my Target box of wine is superior to your chardonnay everyday!

Whew, that feels better. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weekend at Perry's

We took full advantage of the last weekend before school started and spent the weekend at an independent resort in Daytona Beach. While I love the Marriotts, Hiltons, and Comfort Inns of the world, the chain hotels just aren't as interesting as our independently owned superior small lodgings. Perry's Ocean Edge is a true, good old fashioned Florida beach resort at its best. The property has 3 pools, including one indoor pool so that the inevitable afternoon thunder
storms don't result in wet, bored, cranky kids. 

The resort has picnic areas everywhere, perfect for a group like ours with 3 families staycationing together. It's right on the beach with a lifeguard tower strategically positioned in sight. Almost every room has some sort of kitchen, some even have full kitchens, and lots of options for sleeping arrangements. This is where we had MiniMe's birthday party and this time we enjoyed oceanfront kids suite rooms. The view was awesome. The kids enjoyed the bunks and tv/game system in their "room" and we saved a lot of money by bringing drinks and snacks with us, stored conveniently in our in-room kitchenettes. Highlights of the weekend included:
  • Homemade strawberry ice cream made by Beloved and enjoyed by all!
  • Fresh, hot, homemade donuts, served up free by the Perry's Ocean Edge crew each morning for guests. 
  • Watching the Main Street fireworks from our hotel balcony Saturday night.
  • Being able to keep an eye on the kids that were enjoying the beach AND the ones enjoying the pool from our shady table on the resort "lawn". 
  • Did I mention the Tiki Bar?
  • Early afternoon brunch at Tiki Bill's restaurant on site, with the best homefries in town!

If you really want a beach vacation that will give you the true Florida experience, try a superior small lodge in your area. I highly recommend it. And you can visit Perry's here

By the way, we decided that when we retire we may just move into Perry's, on the ground floor of course (ouch, my hip!). So in 30 years I'll be posting a photo of our same group here only a little older and a lot more relaxed!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Channeling Mimi

I remember when my mom taught me how to cook. Every so often, she'd ask me to help her in the kitchen. The real goal of this invite was to teach me something. But she was sneaky enough not to phrase it that way. Maybe that's where I learned my early PR skills?

She taught me to cook spaghetti& homemade sauce. Cornbread. Chicken and dumplings. Clam chowder. Fried chicken. Mashed potatoes. Cornbread stuffing. Chocolate chip cookies. And lots of fresh vegetables. I really enjoyed working alongside her in the kitchen and learning how to make all my favorite dishes. Mom was very patient and would often tell me stories of the dishes she made that didn't quite come out right or what her favorite foods were growing up. 

So I tried to channel my mother yesterday when MiniMe and her lifelong friend asked if they could bake cookies. Dog cookies. Seems the girls went online and printed off a recipe for homemade dog treats. Ommmmm, Mimi-Mimi-Mimi, Ommmm, I chanted repeatedly in my head as off we went to the grocery store armed with the dog treat recipe. 

Whole wheat flour. Check. Yeast. Check. Overpriced plastic dog cookie container to present the final product in. Check. Wine for mommy. Check!

Once the girls started mixing the ingredients, and arguing over whose turn it was to stir and whose turn it was to measure, I reminded myself of how patient my mom had been when I spilled things, didn't measure correctly, etc. Ommmm, Mimi-Mimi-Mimi, Ommmm.

"Ok mom," said MiniMe. "We're ready to roll the dough. Where's the flat surface?"

Ummm, you're looking at it. It's the countertop. We need to spread some flour around and then roll the dough out on the countertop. 

Much excitement ensued as flour was flung far and wide and they only argued a little bit over my only rolling pin.

At this point, Beloved came home, took one look and whispered in my ear as he gave me a kiss, "You're a glutton for punishment."

3 hours (and two glasses of wine for mommy) later, we had trays and trays of dog treats. And after only two warnings, the girls eventually cleaned up the mess. Best of all, the dogs ate the treats with enthusiasm. 

Thanks Mimi for being a good example of patient life lessons in the kitchen. 

Thank You Mud Monkey!!

Now that the kids are on the verge of returning to school, I have to give a big shout out to a summer activity that really rocked. Our local paint your own pottery place, Mud Monkey, kept my girls entertained for countless hours this summer. And here's the ceramic collection that's now covering most every square inch of space on every shelf and table in my house to prove how much fun they had.

I got a little smarter about the weekly trips to Mud Monkey about half way through the summer. After bringing home penguins, turtles, cupcakes, ice cream cones, fairies, and elephants, I insisted the girls paint something useful. The result of which was a colorful chip and dip tray. 

About once a week, I'd give the girls some money and I'd drop them off at Mud Monkey. It was air conditioned, safe, lots of moms around and just a short jog from my house. The girls would paint, walk across the plaza to McDonald's for lunch, then call me on the cell and I'd come pick them up. Sure it cost me about $40 per trip, but how can you put a price on 3-4 hours of peace and quiet, happy kids, and a ceramic monkey you'll treasure forever?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You can't see that from Ohio

For the first time since 1946, the state of Florida actually lost residents with its cumulative population number going down. With that news and Hurricane Bill sitting in the Atlantic staring right at us, I thought it might be a good time to remind myself (and all of you) of just one reason why Florida is such a great place to live. 

We can see the space shuttle and rockets launch from our front yard!

I recently visited the Kennedy Space Center and really enjoyed it. Haven't been there since I was a kid and I definitely appreciated it more this time. I've taken for granted the fact that as Floridians we have been an eyewitness to history by watching the spectacular launches of rockets and space shuttles. In fact, it wasn't until I was in college that I realized that not everyone in the U.S. can see the space shuttle launch. I just assumed it flew over every state at some point or something, I don't know what I was thinking. My stupidity became crystal clear when I was a college Junior and working at the Orlando theme park Wet N Wild one summer. The space shuttle was scheduled to launch that day and the park kept making announcements about it to keep everyone informed of the launch time. One visitor told me his entire family planned their Florida vacation so that they would be able to see the shuttle launch. 

"You mean you've never seen it?"

"We live in Ohio. Of course we've never seen it."

"You can't see it in Ohio?"

"Ummmm, no."

I know he must have been thinking dumb blonde!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's a Girl!

My sister is having a little girl! And if there was any doubt this long awaited only-child will be spoiled, consider that my sister and her wonderful hubby have already bought the girly some shoes. Not just one pair, either.

I don't know what Sissy is thinking about in terms of a name. She won't tell me. And everytime I suggest a name, she says "No that's a White Trash girl's name," or "I'm not naming her after a cartoon character!"

But what I do know, is that any little girl in our bloodline will probably be:
  • stubborn
  • sassy
  • crazy funny
  • witty & sarcastic
  • creative
  • hairy
  • smart but math challenged
  • a good eater
  • a natural born shopper & shoe lover
  • freckled
  • skinny
  • opinionated
and most of all . . . A Florida native!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wash N Dry Lions

While the Bridge of Lions has been under renovation in my hometown of St. Augustine, the actual lion sculptures have gotten a bath and a makeover - a very expensive and methodical scrub & shine. You can see more about their clean-up in this story in the St. Augustine Record. 

That's a picture of a good number of my high school senior class on one of the lions back in 1986 (that's my little pea-sized head at the very top). 

The two white marble lions that have "guarded" the bridge in the historic district of St. Augustine since 1927, got a much needed refurbishing while the bridge is under construction. They were moved to a warehouse, washed, scrubbed and repaired by artisans and art historians. They will be replaced as sentries at the foot of the bridge when the renovation of the bridge is finished sometime next year.

The white marble lions have been highly recognizeable icons for the Oldest City since they were donated by a former St. Augustine mayor and placed prominently on either side of the bridge in the early 20th century. As a kid growing up there, we heard all kinds of spooky stories, myths, and legends about the lions, their creator and their guardianship of the bridge. 

I don't know if any of the stories I heard were true (probably not) but I can't wait to see them back at the foot of the bridge!

Mommy's Hurt!

Over the weekend, Wondertwin took an unfortunate tumble on her surfboard and ended up with over 15 stitches in her left ankle. Luckily for her, Beloved happened to be surfing with her and her kids that morning and was able to come to the rescue. Not only did he help her from the water and administer emergency first aid on the beach (while the teenage lifeguard stood there helplessly trying not to puke), he picked her up "Officer and a Gentleman" style and carried her to the emergency room. That's where I caught up with them.

I found Beloved in the emergency room waiting area soaking wet, covered in sand with Wondertwin's two kids Thing 1 and Thing 2, also soaking wet, wrapped in beach towels and hospital blankets. Thing 1, a girl aged 13, was holding up quite well. Thing 2, a charming boy of 11 and the more sensitive of the two, started to cry when I walked through the door. So as I held Thing 2 and assured him mommy would be ok, Thing 1 was all questions. 

"What happens when you get stitches? How do they get the stitches in you? Do they use a big needle? Is it regular sewing thread or special person thread? Have you ever had stitches? Does it hurt? How do they get the stitches out?

Beloved was patiently and animatedly answering all her questions. Her wonderment and enthusiasm at the entire process leads me to think she's got a future as an emergency room doctor. Or a coroner. Or maybe one of those special effects movie masters.

Thing 2 meanwhile has a future as a world class cuddlebunny.

Wondertwin has a future as a tough as nails surfer chick . . .oh wait, she already is.