An Expensive Postage Stamp

It’s been two years since my grandfather’s passing, and I still cannot grasp the reality of it. Just yesterday, I was picking up the mail and got a letter addressed to “Stanley”. Even though it was junk mail and it was sent out among millions, it still felt like it possessed a piece of him.

He was everything to me. We shared common interests, and I would always find myself in his living room reading through his countless “Cooks Illustrated” magazines. I wanted to write him a letter, and although it’s postage might be costly, I know he will read it eventually.

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Dear Poppy,

You have always been in my life ever since I was brought into this world twenty-two years ago. We have always been close, and in the beginning when Nanny passed away, we moved in with you to help you. Although I do not remember these events personally, photographs and videos remind me of the great times I had in your home. I do however remember the days when you and Dad worked at the “Incredible Balloon”, a company you both owned. I would come into your offices and play with all of the stuffed animals and balloons.

Stan

(L:R) My Uncle, Poppy, My Mother

When I turned five, we moved to Poway, and you stayed in your house for a little while. But you couldn’t stay away from us! As I played with Hayley, my younger sister, in our backyard, we would see you working away with your side-kick, Hunter, the gruff dachshund.You possessed a green thumb; always knee deep in the dirt making the plants come alive. You had even started a vegetable garden in the back lot near the creek. Imaginative games would come alive within the walls of the towering tomato plants. The scent of the freshly dewed tomato will always remind me of those fantastic summer days spent with you. Diving in between the tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, green beans, and even pumpkins. We would run from the kitchen with baskets and look in awe at all of the enormous produce we had harvested.

You moved closer to us, but you still seemed too far away. Your job at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park made you smile as you got to talk to people, and got paid for it. At this time our family had decided a remodel was in order, and a new apartment was built for you. Custom with your own private entrance, having you so close made spending time and making memories with you so much easier.

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Showing where I worked

If it wasn’t for you, I would not be who I am today. It was your influence and your love for food that inspired me to pursue my career. I remember walking barefoot into your new kitchen. We had just laid out the linoleum, and the room smelled fresh and new. Big band music was playing, and you were there spinning romaine in the salad spinner. Each leaf dancing to the tunes of Sinatra. I hopped up near the counter and helped as you prepared caesar salad from scratch. The anchovy paste oozed out onto the table spoon sending the fishy scent into my nostrils. You always cut away the inside of every romaine leaf. “The lettuce should be tender but not too crunchy.”

Salad was not the only thing we made. You had an amazing crepe maker and one day we decided to make crepes for the family. We blended up the batter and using the machine we made paper thin crepes to be filled with jam and whipped cream. Whenever the History channel was not on, Food Network flashed across the screen. We always had a love for food in common, and without you I don’t know what I would be doing today.

484130_4603087360322_1031136610_nOne day, you got an infection in your hip which required you to stay in the hospital for months, and learn how to maneuver in a wheel chair. You never let that chair stop you from doing anything. You amazed us as you drove from San Diego to Bend, Oregon with Hunter right beside you in the passenger seat. You went on trips with us, and always had a smile on your face. You never let a handicap stop you.

Always independent, and brilliantly sharp, you were a talking history book. I would sit in awe at the stories you would tell me about your youth. I wish I could hear more; more about your life in loud New York City after the depression. I remember you telling me a story once about how the mob looked after your father’s store. I wanted to know more about your childhood, and your teenage years– Going to college and meeting Nanny.

People were shocked when you moved to Florida. Not about the fact that you moved, but how you got to Florida. You flew, by yourself to Orlando. Not only that, you took the city bus to get to your new apartment which was a few miles away. You took the bus because they were handicap accessible, with one duffle bag in tow. You lived on the fourteenth floor overlooking downtown Orlando and a beautiful lake. You went to card games, went out to eat, and even went on a casino cruise. We were astonished on how many activities you had done within a few months of moving in. We were excited to share many new memories with you.

I am eternally grateful for all of the memories you have provided me with. Your guidance, advice, and knowledge has changed me immensely and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done. I know you are with Nanny right now making your famous caesar salad. You put on some big band era music and dance together, finally out of the chair. Your lungs are filled with deep breaths of sweet air.

I love you so much Poppy.

Love,

Lyndsay

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I felt like preparing crepes would be the perfect homage to my grandfather. He taught me the proper technique of letting the batter sit in the cooler, and adding very small amount of batter when making the crepe. He used to own this “crepe maker” which would make the crepes without the hassle of a pan. It plugged in and you dipped the hot plate into the crepe batter, creating thin pancakes–so thin they did not have to be flipped over.

Strawberry CrepesThis are delicious topped with strawberries and Nutella. When I was in Paris last year, every street corner had crepe stands. They were massive, and packed with nutella. I want to go back everyday.

Crepe

Is that not the coolest?! I took this photo right next to Notre Dame.

The recipe I have provided is from one of my grandfather’s old cookbooks, “Classic Desserts” by The Good Cook in 1979– years before I was born!

Crepes

  • Servings: 15 6-7 inch crepes
  • Time: 3 Hours
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Ingredients

1 Cup Flour

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 Eggs

1 1/4 Milk

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Method

  1. In blender, pulse together flour, salt, eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Pulse until no lumps remain.
  2. Put the batter in the refrigerator for two and a half hours.
  3. Heat a lightly greased 6-7 inch pan over medium- high heat. Pour in about three tablespoon, swirling the pan as you add the batter. Coat the entire pan with batter.
  4. Cook the crepe for 10-15 seconds until it slides back and forth easily on the pan. Slide a spatula under the crepe and flip, cooking the opposite side for 8-10 seconds.
  5. Slide the crepe to a warmed dish, and cook the rest of the batter similarly.
  6. Top with your favorite fruit and nutella.

This recipe was provided by Classic Desserts 

Nutella

Can I have all of it?!

lyndsay paige

 

Seize The Night

I am a total fan of freebies. Samples, coupons, you name it. So when Houseparty.com asked me to host a party to advertise a new beverage, I couldn’t help but type, “YES!” into the text box.

HouseParty.com is a website designed to promote products/brands in the means of “word-of-mouth” marketing. It’s simple to sign up for, and above all: its fun! I signed up to host a party provided by Desperados — A tequila flavored beer. Although beer and tequila are not my favorite, I decided to give it a go and try it out with my friends. (All over 21+ of course)

#Seizethenight Houseparty.com provided me and my guests with teeshirts, sunglasses, temporary tattoos, (which were more on the permanent side, we couldn’t get them off!) and a gift card to buy party supplies– such as the beer and some snacks. Since Desperados had a mexican feel about it, I felt a mexican fiesta would fit perfectly with the party. I was so tempted to buy a piñata just because I haven’t smacked one in a while; and it fit the theme.

My menu included: chips and a dip my friend Kim made– which was super yummy, sangrias, desperados beer, and shredded chicken tacos with all the fixings. For dessert I decided to make home-made Churros.

Churros

The making of the churros was quite simple, and I found a recipe from Rockin’ Robin at Cooking Mexican Recipes. It’s essentially a modified pate a choux recipe deep fried then rolled in cinnamon sugar.

Whenever I am at a Theme park, I usually buy one of those tasty, soft churros from the cart. It’s nice to make these delicious treats at home– without the crowds of people lining up to buy them.

Churros

 

This recipe uses brown sugar, which gives it a great molasses flavor. We couldn’t help but eat the whole batch! I recommend eating these right away, otherwise they can get a little soggy.

Churros

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, depending on taste

Instructions

Preheat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a 10 to 12 inch frying pan to 375 degrees F. In a separate dish mix the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

In a 3 qt. sauce pan add the water, brown sugar, salt, and butter and heat to a good boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour. Stirring in the flour will take some muscle. Mix it in until well blended.

In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and vanilla together and then add this mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until well blended and all the egg is completely mixed in.

Fill your decorating bag with the churro recipe dough and attach the largest star tip you have.

Test your oil by placing a small amount of dough in it. The dough should bubble up right away.

Once the oil is hot enough, squeeze some dough into the oil about 4 inches long. I used my finger to release the dough from the star tip.

You should be able to cook 4 or 5 churros at a time. Cook them about 1 minute and turn them over with a slotted spoon. Cook an additional minute or two. You’re looking for that nice golden brown color.

Remove the churros with the slotted spoon and place them on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath.

While still warm, roll each churro into the dish with the sugar and cinnamon until coated.

Recipe inspired by Cooking-Mexican-Recipes.com

#Seizethenight

I am not fan of beer. Disagree all you want, I can’t stand the taste. Give me a nice cider or a glass of wine and I’ll be happy. Or even a nice liquor based drink and I’ll be singing my praises…literally (Mojitos are my absolute favorite!) So when I tried Desperados tequila flavored beer, I didn’t have high hopes for the taste. I first smelled the beer– my family always makes fun of me because I examine my food before I eat it, or in this case drink it. It smelled a little strong, but I mustered up my courage and took a sip. It was sweet, with a beer high note, and finishing off with a smooth aftertaste. I would drink it if I had too, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. The rest of the night I nursed my glass of citrus sangria, munching on churro bites, and socializing with my friends.

He was a wise man who invented beer. – Plato

lyndsay paige

Three Discoveries

I have made a few discoveries these past few days:

1. I love snorkeling

2. Zumba classes should include a: “May Get Drenched in Sweat” sign on their doors.

3. I have discovered the hidden flavors of pan-frying Watermelon.

 

Blue Springs First things first, I visited Blue Springs the other day with my family and friends. This spring is a cool 72 degrees year-round. During the winter months, hundreds of manatees and their calfs swim into the springs from the ocean to live in warmer water. I have been here during their migration, and I wanted to jump in that water and cuddle each and every one of them. I love manatees so much! (Disclaimer: Under federal law, swimmers are not allowed to touch manatees. Please only observe from a comfortable distance)

This trip however, did not give me a chance to see my majestic sea cows. After walking along a wooden boardwalk, we entered the spring down a series of steps. After swimming for a few minutes up current, we reached the hole. This thing is massive, and scuba divers frequent the caves under the surface. I donned my fins, mask, and snorkel, and explored the fish around the area. It’s so quiet under the water, and relaxing; the only sound you focus on is your own breath. When I was younger, I was terrified to snorkel, just in case I forgot how to breathe. Silly isn’t it? Now I cannot wait to find more spots to explore.

My second discovery led me to a aerobic fitness class held at my college gym. It’s Summer B now, and all the new freshman are now on campus. The gym was packed with weightlifters, basketball players, runners, but mostly freshmen. We were a few minutes late to the class and could barely find a place to stand in the classroom. IT WAS SO PACKED. We were dripping in sweat. Appetizing. Our instructor was energetic, and pumped up the entire class. At one point, three guys opened the door and looked into the class room. All the girls were bent-over shaking their thang. I looked up. They waved. Gauuhhh.

When the class finished, we hopped on over to the locker room to wash our faces. Three freshman girls, (you’ll know why they were freshman in a minute) were standing gawking at the condom dispenser. “You mean these are free?!” The blonde one says, ” Why have I been buying them?!” She then stuffs her hand into the dispenser and fishes out a random assortment. “I wonder if this actually tastes like chocolate?”

Sometimes you are just too classy for your own good.

Moving on to food, I have been slacking on my Cookbook Challenge recently. I was in two accelerated classes which ended on Thursday. I’m currently in one class, but it’s online, and it seems easier than my last classes. I was looking through Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen, and stumbled upon this gem. Pan-Fried Watermelon with Yogurt and Caramelized Walnuts. I died. It sounded too good to be true. I drove to the store, picked up the ingredients, and laid my work in front of myself.

watermelonLet me say this: Gordon Ramsay is hawt. His accent, so dreamy. His body, somebody pinch me! But most of all, his delicious biceps dishes. I read his biography during my time in culinary school, and I look up to his work ethic. It’s a fantastic read for you culinary bio lovers out there. Wherever you are.

Watermelon

Chef Ramsay’s food is simplistic, and brings the naturalness from the ingredients. I was craving something sweet, but healthy to satisfy my cravings. This dish was perfect, and my sister devoured it. She literally licked her plate clean.

Watermelon

Pan-Fried Watermelon with yogurt and caramelized walnuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 2 Hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Watermelon:

  • 1 small or 1/2 medium watermelon
  • a little olive oil
  • powdered sugar, to dust
  • 1 3/4 – 2 Cups Greek yogurt

For the caramelized Walnuts:

  • 1 T butter
  • scant 1/4 Cup Honey
  • scant 1 Cup Walnuts

Instructions

  1. In a small heavy saucepan add the butter and honey. Place this saucepan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Once the butter has melted, add the walnuts. Stir these ingredients to make sure the walnuts are well coated. Keep this over heat for another 1-2 minutes. Once you see the mixture start to bubble and turn a golden brown you can transfer the mixture onto a waxed paper lined baking tray. Set your caramelized walnuts aside for 1-2 hours.
  2. Cut watermelon into an 1 ½  inch thick pieces. Put a little olive oil into a nonstick skillet and place over high heat. Dust the top and bottom of each watermelon with confectioner’s sugar. Place onto your nonstick skillet and pan-fry each side for 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Repeat with each watermelon slice.
  3. Add a scoop of Greek yogurt to the top of each pan-fried watermelon slice. Break the walnuts into small pieces and sprinkle on top! Best served warm.

Recipe inspired by Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen 

I cook, I create, I’m incredibly excited by what I do, I’ve still got a lot to achieve. – Gordon Ramsay

Goals as a Writer: My Life 5-10 years in the Future

For one of my final assignments in my Theory of Creative Writing Class, I was asked to write out a list of goals I would like to achieve within the next five years. It’s a daunting task — I barely know what I am going to eat for my next meal, and yet I should have my life planned out for the next five to ten years. Anywho, I have an idea of where I  would like to end up, and how I started as a “writer” ( When does one become a writer? I struggled with the title Chef  when I was in Culinary School. I didn’t consider myself a chef, but when would I consider myself one? When is that moment a person transforms from home-cook to chef?)

High School Culinary Competition Team

High School Culinary Competition Team

To understand the person I want to become, I must look back at the person I was. When I was younger, I knew I was going to be a chef. The crisp white jacket, the sharp pleat in my hen’s tooth pants — A standard uniform I was destined to wear. After graduating culinary school, and working in the field for a few years, I decided I wanted to discover a different side of the culinary world. The side that I would constantly look to for inspiration and entertainment; cookbooks, blogs, newspapers, magazines. I realized who I really wanted to become.

Competing in the Semi- Finals of the ACF Student Chef of the Year Competition in Reno, NV

Competing in the Semi- Finals of the ACF Student Chef of the Year Competition in Reno, NV

I hope to accomplish a lot in the next five years. I have about a year and a half of school, then I am released into Corporate America to fend for myself. With a pen in my grasp, I plan to unearth the culinary knowledge and explain to the people why I am in love with food; the taste, the smell, the texture. From a creative perspective I can entice the reader to fall in love with the lettuce, or second guess their relations with brussels sprouts. I hope to work for a food publication company as a food writer. To write articles based on topics I found interesting, and hold knowledge of. It’s funny, people always cock their eyebrows to the side, “Huh.” they question, “That’s different.” Yes, it is different, but it’s what I want to do. And I learned to never stop following your dreams, even if they seem unusual.

 

I was required to include a list of 10 goals I hold for the future. Here is my tentative list:

  1. I plan to Intern at Food Network in the Magazine department in New York City
  2. Travel to Italy and experience the culture
  3. Volunteer with a writing organization
  4. Attend seminars and writing workshops
  5. Submit articles to various magazines
  6. Continue taking classes in writing after college, even if its brushing up from videos on YouTube
  7. Keep a journal with me, so I can write about my daily thoughts.
  8. Start a family. It’s ten years in the future– isn’t it?
  9. Travel around the United States – East coast mostly, I’ve already discovered the West.
  10. Take cooking classes to freshen up. I can’t write about cooking if I’m not cooking!

I was also required to write down 5 projects I plan on completing within the next 5 years:

  1. A collection of essays about my family life and myself.
  2. A successful cooking blog to record my experiences – I am currently working on one right now, but it’s in the beginning stages.
  3. The beginning of a food memoir
  4. Articles in magazines
  5. A journal to keep daily notes. I start these, all excited, then forget about them within a week.

 

And 3 possible career paths:

  1. Food Editor
  2. Writer for food show — i.e. “Good Eats”
  3. Test Cook — These people research recipes, write articles, and publish cookbooks

 

This assignment allowed me to sit back and ponder the new path I have chosen. If asked 5 years ago what I wanted to be, I would have answered, “Head Chef” or “Restaurant Owner”. It’s funny how people change. And one piece of advice: Allow the change.  Throw your head back in the wind, and take it all in.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw 

Honey Crunch Cake

A week or so ago, my father was on television. About a few years ago, my father’s company, Qubits, was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank and it’s first re-run was shown on CNBC. We were so excited for a re-run that we invited friends and neighbors over to watch the show with us. I obviously needed to make something, and I decided to make a cake out of some new 8 inch wilton pans I bought at Michael’s.

When I was in culinary school, I applied for a culinary internship at Walt Disney World. On my twentieth birthday, as I was working in the school’s restaurant, my parents surprised me with my acceptance letter. I was working the grill station, which meant cooking the steaks and the fish. We were a small restaurant, with local roots and a small selection of delicious dishes. We were very affordable (It was run completely by students, and the tips went directly to scholarships.) and usually packed a full house. It was my last semester at the school, with my graduation just over the horizon in May.

My parents tapped on the glass window of the open kitchen, and I was surprised to see them. That’s when they handed me an envelope and asked me to open it. I screamed with joy, and all of the guests in the restaurant looked up from their meals.

When I got home that evening, my birthday gifts were all disney related, and one of my favorites was a Disney Dessert Cookbook. “Delicious Disney Desserts” by Pam Brandon.

cake type

I decided to try out the recipe from The California Grill located in the Contemporary Resort. This fun restaurant boasts the best firework viewing dinner options, with a view over the lagoon. I worked in the resort for a short time at Chef Mickey’s , but I never got the chance to eat at the California Grill.

This cake is easy to prepare ahead of time, especially the honey crunch topping. It took me two tries because I wasn’t watching the caramel close enough. Make sure your candy thermometer reader  reaches the  candy, otherwise you will burn the topping.

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I made the cake in advance, sliced the layers, and froze the cake in plastic wrap until I frosted them. I made the whipped cream frosting just before serving.

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Honey Crunch Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 Hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Sponge Cake
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Honey Crunch
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons each: water and corn syrup
2 1/4 teaspoons sifted baking soda

Honey Simple Syrup
1/2 cup each: water and sugar
2 teaspoons honey

Honey Whipped Cream
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons honey

1. For cake, heat oven to 375 F. Combine milk and butter in pan on low heat, stirring, until butter melts. Remove from heat. Mix flour and baking powder. In bowl, whip eggs to break up. Whip in salt. Gradually add sugar, whipping until mixture lightens. Add extracts. Gently whip in milk and butter mixture. Fold in flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until smooth after each addition. Pour into buttered and flour-dusted 9-inch pan. (Line with buttered parchment paper, if desired.) Bake 15-20 minutes.

2. For crunch, combine water, sugar and corn syrup in pan. When temperature reaches 310 F, whisk in sifted baking soda. Turn off heat.
Let mixture rise up without stirring. Pour onto a Silpat mat. Cool completely. Break into pieces; store in airtight container.

3. For syrup, bring water and sugar to boil. While still warm, whisk in honey. Refrigerate.

4. For cream, whip cream and sugar on medium 2 minutes. Add honey.
Increase speed. Whip to medium soft peaks.

5. Cut cake in half. Drizzle bottom layer with syrup. Spread whipped cream on bottom layer. Arrange honey crunch on whipped cream and press into cream. Spread with a little more whipped cream. Set on top layer.
Drizzle syrup on top layer. Frost top and sides with remaining whipped cream. Keep cake in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with remaining honey crunch.

 

Recipe inspired by “Delicious Disney Desserts”

 It’s kind of fun to do the impossible – Walt Disney

Exploring the Florida Keys

This past week my family, my friend, my two dogs,my 18 year old cat, and I visited the beautiful Florida Keys. School had just ended for both my sister and I, and our family decided to take a small vacay before our summer classes started.

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Ready for an adventure! Buddy, Holly, and Kitty Whiskers

Our journey started in what seemed to be a clown car; suitcases bursting out of the trunk, minute leg room, and of course, the smell of the litter box. My cat, Kitty Whiskers, is beautiful. Tuffs of fur graze her neck as she sits comfortably in the nest of pillows in the back seat. She is a world traveler, and has seen many states and sites. As an eighteen year cat, Kitty Whiskers requires special attention of her diet and her daily patterns. It just seemed easier to bring her along, rather than drive a house-sitter crazy with her night howling. ( She gets a bit confused and meows in the middle of the night. Sometimes while she is lying on your stomach. Talk about a wake-up call!)

Our journey took us to Miami on the first night, admiring the culture of Little Havana, and the lights of South Beach. I wished I could have visited South Beach in it’s heyday– The 80’s. I expected flashing lights, flamboyant bars, and eccentric fashion. I guess I was really expecting to walk onto the movie set of “The Bird Cage” starring Robin Williams. Now that would have been fun.

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Street Painting in Little Havana

The next day we enjoyed our ride to Key West, with a pit stop at Key Largo for lunch. There, we got our first taste of Key Lime Pie. It was tart and creamy, with a crumbly graham cracker crust. It was the perfect piece of pie.

Since I discovered and learned a lot in Key West, (Way too much to describe in this post) I’ll share a list of 10 of my favorite memories from Key West

 

 

Places You Must See!

  1. Ernest Hemingway House
  2. Truman White House
  3. Sunset Water sports
  4. Key West Aquarium
  5. Duffy’s
  6. Higg’s Beach
  7. Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
  8. Dante’s Key West Pool Bar & Restaurant
  9. Mallory Square Sunset
  10. Tennessee William’s Exhibit

My list contains some of the main sightseeing sites, but I added some of my own personal favorites, and the best part is — Most of them are free or dirt cheap!

Ernest Hemingway House

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Hemingway’s Writing Desk

My absolute favorite part of the trip was visiting Hemingway’s home. I had just finished “The Paris Wife” a few weeks ago, and had a sense of the man he was. It was eyeopening to see how this amazing author lived.What fascinated me most was the six-toed cats. My sister, friend, and I searched the entire grounds to find cats, and we ended up counting about 38 of them. One even climbed up in my lap and curled up with me during a portion of the tour. After walking around in his house, we decided to step farther into Hemingway’s shoes by visiting a few of his favorite bars. It was a spectacular day. The ticket to see the house and receive a tour was quite reasonable, and was even cheaper when we packaged the tickets with the aquarium. It came out to be around $25 for both tickets combined.

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Polydactyl (six-toed) cat

Truman White House

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Truman’s Presidential Home in Key West

True Key West architecture takes center stage while one walks through the Truman Annex to the White House. Located near the downtown area, The Truman White House, is a historical house is which housed President Truman during his working holidays. We learned about his presidency in a free exhibit, but priced tours are brought into the house, which is filled with Truman’s original furniture.

Sunset Watersports

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Enjoying the water slide

On my sister’s birthday, we decided to book an excursion with Sunset Watersports. The best deal?…The birthday girl got her ticket for free, a $169 value. Unfortunetly the day we took the tour, the wind speed was high and we were unable to parasail or participate in a variety of activities which were included in our package. My sister, friend, and I decided to kayak, and the current decided to take us further into the sea. I was humiliated when a rescue boat had to take us back. It’s a really great trip…just check the weather beforehand.

Key West Aquarium

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They bite!

This open-air aquarium is quaint and easy to navigate. Plus it’s dog friendly. Touch tanks are plentiful, as are feeding demonstrations.

 Duffy’s Restaurant

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Cream of Mushroom Soup

This was our favorite restaurant during the trip. It’s reasonable and hosts a variety of fresh seafood and steaks. Large portions — large enough to share. I had a meal of Cream of Mushroom Soup and shared a Prime Rib Entree with my mom. We gobbled it up, along with their warm bread.

Higg’s Beach

Key West is not known for their beaches. Something to do with their location and how the Gulf meets the Atlantic Ocean. This beach, however was our favorite for snorkeling. A wooden dock leads swimmers to a deserted broken dock filled with tropical fish and coral. We spent at least an hour in the water marveling at the fish. I really adore snorkeling and felt so at peace in the water. All you hear is the sound of your own breath. It’s simply fascinating. Oh, and free parking is a plus too.

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

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The “Kids”

This free museum housed information regarding the reef, the environment, and how scientists study the diverse ecosystem of the Florida Keys. A short informational video repeatedly plays, informing guests about the mangroves and the reefs which make the Florida Keys so spectacular.

Dante’s Key West Pool Bar & Restaurant

This hidden gem is a great spot for lunch and to cool off. Just by ordering a drink or lunch, guests have full use of the pool to splash around and cool themselves off. A hidden mirage near downtown Key West.

Mallory Square Sunset

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Juggling fire, sword, and a machete…while on a unicycle

Key West is known for its beautiful sunset, and its “Green Flash”. Every night, street performers dazzle audience members with their skill as tourists flock to this sunset celebration. It was fun to watch the amazing talents some of these men possessed, but the real show was the sunset. Hues of pink and orange circle the sky as the sun sets for the day.

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Key West Sunset

Tennessee Williams’ Exhibit

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Tennessee Williams’ works

Hemingway wasn’t the only famous writer on the island. Williams’, author of “A Streetcar Named Desire” resided in Key West until his death. The free exhibit honors William’s work.

I enjoyed my trip with my family and enjoyed making all of the memories…ones I will cherish for a lifetime.

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another” – Hemingway 

Spring Break 2014

Wow! I can’t believe this semester is more than half-way over! My spring break was filled with adventure and new experiences. I enjoy exploring the areas around Orlando I haven’t seen yet, and this break I was able to visit a couple of Unique places in the Central Florida region.

Bok Tower Gardens

IMG_2948Located in Lake Wales Florida, this national historic landmark is a must see. Boasting 250 acres of gardens, this landmark was beautiful and calming to walk around. During our visit we walked around the gardens, ate lunch, toured the mansion, and listened to the carillon. This 60 bell carillon hosts international composers during its festival, which was coinciding with our visit. This carillon is one of three in the state of florida, and one of 600 of the world.

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