Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eagle update

We had a few veggie items on our shopping list so we left this morning and headed to the farmer's market in Punta Gorda.  We were disappointed that there wasn't any crown broccoli this week.  ;o(  We didn't get to listen to the entertainment today.  The weather was kind of overcast but warm and very windy.  The canopy that the musician stands under blew over and crashed into his head.  He was getting medical aid at the local coffee shop while we were shopping.  At one point a leaf/branch blew off one of the palm trees and crashed to the ground.  I don't know exactly what you would call this part of the palm but I do know that you would not want to be standing under it when it fell to the ground.  It made a very loud crash.

We did take a walk over to the coffee shop for an iced coffee.  
Isn't this an awesome flower?  We think it is a Bird of Paradise but we could be wrong.  It's growing next to the wall by the Cafe Ruelle.

On our way to the Fine Arts and Crafts Fair we stopped to check on the eagles.  Mr. Bill's camera takes some great photos.  You can see the one and only baby again in this shot.  
When we arrived, one of the adults was in the nest and the other one was sitting on a branch.  As we continued watching they both perched on the branches.  It's hard to tell the male from the female but the female is the larger bird.

One of the birds became very vocal and Mr. Bill set the camera so that it would continue to take photos as long as the button was depressed just in case it decided to fly.  I was the lucky one holding the camera and these are the shots that turned out well.



How cool is that?  They are such a majestic bird and watching them is incredible.  We believe that it will be sometime in March when the young one fledges.

The fair was okay, nothing really special.  We did purchase a couple of soapstone coasters that fit into the cup holders in the car.  This is a photo of the area at Fishermen's Village where we go dancing to live music.

There are a number of cats that call FV their home and someone created this so they have places to sleep, hide and eat.

It rained this afternoon so we went to the gym after lunch instead of walking outdoors.  
(All pictures were taken by Mr. Bill's new camera.)

Thanks for stopping by...

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Ultimate Discount

I'm not sure whether it was my father-in-law, Robert Wehmeyer, or my former husband, Bob Wehmeyer, that introduced me to the saying...The Ultimate Discount.  I don't think either of them coined the phrase but it was a new one for me.  You can probably imagine what it means: FREE!  What could be better than FREE unless someone paid you to do something you would have done anyway. 

We opened a new account at a local bank in order to facilitate getting money into a house account.  These came in the mail.
Two tickets for a FREE dinner at the Golden Corral, a buffet restaurant.  (When was the last time your bank sent you anything for free?)  We had actually tried this place last week and it was quite good; we had decided that we would go again so these were a pleasant surprise.  We did indulge ourselves a little too much last time at the dessert table but have vowed to be better next time.  ;o)

We got a late start today.  While I showered and did my hair and makeup, Mr. Bill replaced the guts in the toilet in my bathroom.  He had already done some work on it; however, it continued to refill occasionally for no reason and twice has "flooded" the bathroom.  Now, you might ask yourself, "how long does it take me to get ready for the day if Mr. Bill can do all that in the same amount of time?"  My answer is simple...he works slow.  haha, just kidding  I don't wake up lookin' this good, you know.  It takes time!

We went to the shelter, than for a walk, then for dinner at the Fishermen's Village.  Dinner was okay, nothing special; we won't go back.   There was a group playing in the same area that holds the farmer's market.  They played "variety, classic and dance" music.  We stayed for a couple of hours, enjoyed the music and danced.  

There is some sort of musical entertainment there several nights a week.  We went last Friday also when there was a small band playing "big band music".  Unfortunately, last week we were reminded how many dance steps we have forgotten.   The few steps that we do remember are very.expensive.steps. considering the money we have spent on dance lessons.  

We enjoyed a beautiful evening.  Tomorrow is the farmer's market and the Fine Arts and Crafts Fair.  Oh goody!

We heard that the weather was pretty brutal at home today.  Please be careful and stay safe; we love you.

Thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What are the chances?

Yesterday we visited Venice and Venice Beach.  We had been there previously and really liked the area.  It was another beautiful day and it was much closer than I remembered; North on Rt. 41 for about 45 minutes.  We did stop along the way at a little florist and ordered flowers for one of my best friends, Su, who is in the hospital, yet again.

Venice is a great little town that was originally planned as a retirement area by the railroad prior to the Great Depression.  It was called Venice because of all the canals in the area, so nearly every property has water access.  There is a really neat historic district with palm lined streets and lots of little shops and restaurants.

We left our car in the beach parking lot, which offers FREE parking.  I don't think there is a beach lot in the State of Maine that is FREE.  This not only allows FREE parking, but has very nice restrooms and a small concession area.  And the parking is FREE for however long you want to stay!  and they have lifeguards.

 (photo by Mr. Bill's camera)
The beach is very nice and deeper than Stump Pass Beach.  The shelling is better here, too. 

There were flocks of birds sitting on the beach, which would mean that there was lots of bird **** on the beach too I would imagine.
Look at this pretty seagull.  

We stayed in the sun for about 2 1/2 hours, which wasn't terribly comfortable because of the yucky chairs we were still using; however, we perservered.

Mr. Bill decided that we needed to walk (as he continues his mission) so we headed down the sidewalk, not knowing where we would end up.  After 30 minutes, which is usually when we turn around, we came to a very nice park.  There was a sign indicating Casey's Pass which became part of the Intracoastal Waterway System in the 1960's.  This one is looking back to where the first photo in this post was taken.  If you double click on that first photo you can see the jetty in the background.

 We proceeded to walk to the end of the jetty and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was paved so we didn't have to jump from rock to rock like the jetty at Drake's Island.  We were standing at the end enjoying the great weather and the view and Mr. Bill noticed that the woman standing next to us was wearing this...

 the exact same Acadia t-shirt.  Hence the post title "What are the chances?"  We stuck up a conversation with Judy Brown and her husband, Cubby.  They live in Maine near Ellsworth and own an appliance store.  Too funny!

Before returning home we stopped in the historic district for something to eat at T. J. Carney's, a nice Irish bar and grill.  I also spent a few minutes in a little quilt shop down the street.  

Today we drove the other direction, south to Sanibel and Captiva Islands.  There was quite a bit of damage suffered from Hurricane Charley but it wasn't evident today.  In fact, there were a number of times when our jaws fell open as we gazed upon HUGE houses.  We just kept wondering why people needed such ostentatious places to live.

We discovered that they really don't want many people using the public beaches as there were, maybe, 20 parking places.  We drove to the end of Captiva only to find the parking lot full and several cars waiting for a space.  From there we drove back up the coast to another lot, same situation.  We crossed the bridge back onto Sanibel and found a place in the tiny lot there.  $2 per hour to park, still cheaper than Drake's but we did have to walk back over the bridge to the restroom. 

We stayed a couple of hours.  It was very quiet, there were piles of shells and the sand was finer, more like Maine.  The temp was near 75*, not a cloud in the sky.  We were much more comfortable today because we stopped at the BIG K-Mart and bought these top of the line, $40 beach chairs...
They are beautiful, aren't they?  They are backpack chairs so we can store our towels and they have their own pillow and cup holder!  I actually think that for the price they should come with their own cabana boy serving drinks, too.

Thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A day full of exercise

What a long night it was.  We stopped late yesterday afternoon for a Dunkin Donuts coffee and specifically requested DECAF.  Well, apparently, decaf it was NOT.  I was up reading a quilting magazine until after 0130.  Don't get me wrong, I bought extra magazines for the ride down and didn't read all of them, so it was nice to be looking at all the pretty things, but not at that hour.  Mr. Bill said he had trouble sleeping, as well.  That will teach us. 

We did not exercise yesterday but we made up for it today.  We started with a trip to the shelter and walked several dogs each.  We even stopped in to visit with the cats before we left.  You can check out their website here if you want to know more about where we spend some of our time and the animals we are enjoying. 

After an exciting lunch of salad, again, we spent some time at the gym.  Mr. Bill decided we should walk extra long today to make up for not walking yesterday.  Whatever...  We parked at Fishermen's Village and walked along the nice path along the river (and under the bridges) to Laishey Park on the other side and we just kept walking.  By the time we returned to FV Bill had walked for one hour and 35 minutes.  I admit I took a small (20 min.) break and waited for him on one of the piers, sitting and soaking up the sun.  I saw more than one fish jumping out of the water.  Pretty cool. 

Bill is on a mission to lose 20 pounds before we return home.  I'm thinking that his real plan is to lose about 120 +/- pounds by exercising me to death and going home alone.  ;o)

Since we started the South Beach Diet again I am feeling a lot like my sister-in-law, Paula.  She is a wonderful cook (that's not the part I feel like) and I love eating everything she makes.  I'm reminded of her because she no sooner finishes one meal and she is thinking about what to have for the next meal.  That's exactly what I've been doing!  No sooner do we finish lunch than I'm talking about "what's for dinner".   We finish dinner and I'm wondering what we should have for dinner tomorrow.  One of the SBD recipes is Pesto Broiled Tomatoes.  Yum, they are so good we had them again tonight except I added fat free mozzarella on top.

We got to Skype with Greg and Ella tonight.  It's so much fun to see them and Ella just talks up a storm.  She kept saying "Papa Bill come back" every time he went to check dinner.  I love it!  

Greg had a question about the camera that Bill bought yesterday.  The answer is...the camera came with an EF-S 18-55 IS lens and the zoom lens is an EFS 55-250 mm with image stabilizer.  He took it along today when we checked on the eagles.

Wendy asked if we had any big plans for the rest of the week.  The answer, not really.   We seem to spend a lot of time shopping (Walmart, K-mart, Lowe's, Home Depot, grocery store, Goodwill) and will continue to go to the shelter and continue to exercise.  Maybe we will check the map again and find somewhere to explore.

Oh yeah, this is for my quilty friends.  I'm working on sewing the end triangles on the blooming 9-patch which is set out in the spare room.  It's the only way I can keep the strips in order.  

Thanks for stopping by...

Monday, January 25, 2010

What are we up to?

Nothing and everything.  Today didn't get started till afternoon because we were waiting for Sears to deliver the new stove.  They did come during the 2 hour delivery window and were very polite and efficient; even hauled away the old, disgusting stove.  To it's credit, it did survive Charley so I guess I could cut it a little slack but it's time had come to be gone.

I didn't seem to be able to get a photo without my feet reflecting in the darn door!  I can't actually remember the last time I owned a NEW stove.  This wasn't even the cheapest one, which I'm sure will surprise some people I know.  Alas, this is what the top looked like by the time dinner had been prepared.  Not pretty huh?  That would be the plastic bag that was holding the little non abrasive scrubber for the glass top.  I'm pretty sure if you look closely at the writing it says something like..."Hey, stupid.  Yeah, you!  Don't place plastic bag on hot burner, evah!"  Actually, the little bag was stuck to the bottom of the pan before it was stuck to the burner.  All I could think was "swear word, swear word, swear word".  But, never fear, Mr. Bill got it all cleaned up, good as new.  Well, yeah, it IS new and now it looks new again.  ;o)  Mr. Bill turned over the door on the dishwasher so now it is white, too, instead of gold and he had already hung a new range hood.  The kitchen is looking pretty good.  Thank you, Mr. Bill. 

We did some shopping at the "good" Goodwill.  That's the one located in Punta Gorda and it's quite a little drive to get there.  Much bigger and better stuff than the one down the road in Port Charlotte.  I scored by finding these...

a salad spinner (less than $3 when the only new ones I could find were $15) and a little fish for the kitchen window.  The window is over the sink which looks out into the laundry room/sweatshop, then overlooks the back yard and the rear of the shopping centerIt's quite a view so the little fish brightens it up.  I would like to have a whole row of pretty fishes.

I also found a small wastebasket for the sweatshop, a pair of navy shorts, 2 pair of lounging pants and two shirts for the shelter.  I wanted a couple of shirts that wouldn't bother me to get dirty or torn or whatever.  All that for $30!  

While I was shopping Bill stayed in the car and learned all about this new toy.
 It's a Canon Rebel XSI with an additional zoom lens.  He has been looking at them for quite a while now and decided it was time.  Learning about this little gem should keep him busy for several days weeks months. 

That was about all we got done today but it was a good day, nevertheless.  No rain, no snow, nothing but sun.  All is well here, hope you are the same.

Thanks for stopping by...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Super Saturday

Today didn't start out great; it was only 59* and very foggy.  We had talked about going to a yoga class but decided to go to the farmer's market in Punta Gorda instead.  We have been going to the market at the Fishermen's Village on Wednesday so we didn't really need any vegetables.  We are working on week two of the South Beach Diet so we couldn't buy bread or fruit or pasta.  What's the point you might ask?  It feels good to be outside and we wanted to see what was available so that next weekend when week two is OVER we can buy some good stuff to eat (in moderation, of course).  I don't want to get too carried away since I think I can see the beginning of a waistline.  

The market has lots and lots of wonderful looking food, including steaks, seafood, yummy looking Italian pastries, a huge selection of nuts

How about these beautiful strawberries...

and this broccoli that is completely unfamiliar to me.  It was labeled "crown" broccoli but Wikipedia describes it as "Romanesco" broccoli.  I don't know how it tastes but I like the way it looks.  When we eat up more of the vegetables in the fridge, we'll try some of this.  The market is open every Saturday morning till the end of March.

There is live entertainment.   Thanks to one of the vendors, we found a new coffee house.  After a short walk around the corner we found ourselves at Cafe Ruelle (coffee house & wine bar)This is a cute little place hidden down a beautiful garden alleyway which not only has coffee and wine but also serves meals.  We treated ourselves to iced coffees and returned to the park to listen to the entertainment.  The sun came out and we just chilled for the next 30 minutes or so. 

From there we drove a short distance to check out the Punta Gorda History Park and were very surprised to see a number of people with very large cameras watching a bald eagles nest.  Again, we weren't very prepared since we didn't bring along any binoculars and don't own any large cameras.  However, we were able to see the adult eagle in the nest as well as one of the babies.  (You can click on the picture to make it larger and you should be able to see them, too.)  What an incredible sight; we couldn't stop watching. 

The park was created in 1994 in order to preserve a number of historic structures including the oldest known building in Charlotte County.  It includes 200 varieties of hibiscus, as well as a butterfly garden.  Unfortunately, due to the freezing temps earlier this month, much of the vegetation had been killed.  They are going to wait a few weeks before pruning to determine what might come back.  This blossom had fallen off the plant and was given to us by a volunteer.
It's huge, measuring 7" across.

My hands aren't that big but this gives you an idea how big the flower is.

I did take a restorative yoga class later this afternoon and Mr. Bill went to the gym after which we walked to our favorite coffee house.  We had to sit in the shade while drinking our coffee because it was just too hot in the sun. (poor us, I know) 

We tried a new recipe for dinner...spinach stuffed mushroom caps.  I added onion and garlic but thought they were still a little bland.  Personally, I think they would have been great if they were deep fried and dipped in ranch dressing.

Thanks for stopping by...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Third Thursday

This refers to the third Thursday of January, not our third Thursday here.  We learned earlier in the week that on the TT of every month there is a Gallery Walk in Punta Gorda, just over the bridge.  It takes place from 5 - 8 PM and offers art, music, live demonstrations, shopping and food.  It's not just food but drinks too, including wine, punch (spiked and not so spiked) spiced coffee...whatever the business chooses to offer. 

We arrived around 5:30 after a busy day of grocery shopping (me) and condo repairs (Mr. Bill).  We even went to the shelter and walked a few great dogs.  Mr. Bill did suffer a small mishap as one of the dogs scratched his hand and drew blood.  The dog wasn't being bad, just very excited to go out because he had to go!

It was a beautiful evening, temp low 70's and a nice breeze.  We had some snacks, found some great little shops including a Pilates and yoga studio right next to the Swiss chocolate shop, a couple of nice art galleries, even an antique shop.  We will definitely revisit some of these because we found them interesting and they were fairly crowded due to a nice turnout for the walk.

There were also a number of classic cars.  Now, if you aren't into cars you can skip the next few photos...

This is a 1942 Buick Century.  It was the only mass produced car that could do 100mph.  Originally, there were 3312 built but only 7 exist today.  Not my favorite color but it was a beautiful car.

                              1947 Mercury

1947 Hudson Superjet

There were about 50 different participating businesses but we only visited a dozen of so.  We will go again next month (if we can remember).

Thanks for stopping by...

Stump Pass Beach State Park

After such a beautiful day at Gasparilla State Park we thought we would move north a little and check out Stump Pass Beach State Park which incorporates the southern tip of  Manasota Key, along with Peterson Island, Whidden Key and the protected channels between them.  Admittedly, we were a little disappointed. 

 The beach itself was not very deep and the sand was more gray than on Gasparilla.  There was quite a crowd here, many of them "shelling" (like the man in this photo).  They even make a "Florida snow shovel" which is a mesh basket on a handle.  These are used to scoop up sand so that it can be sorted out and that perfect shell or sharks tooth will be unearthed unsanded!  People walk the beach with their shovels and bags for hours looking for the perfect shells.  For a great picture, check out this blog.

As you can see, there are more than enough shells to go around and many of them are unbroken. 

We were much better prepared today, having packed our bag with towels, hats, sunscreen and books.  We took a couple of different chairs but I have come to the very uncomfortable conclusion that I need to purchase some decent beach chairs.  We spent about 30 minutes chillin' there.  Mr. Bill had a nice rest and I listened to my iTouch.  I'm still working my way through the book I downloaded several months ago...Brisingr

We slogged our way to the tip of the island on a trail consisting primarily of beach sand.  The round trip of 2.5 miles wore us out.  We have been walking every day but walking through sand is a whole different story.  Quite frankly, the end of the island wasn't very exciting.  We think that much of the area is probably under water at high tide as the sand is quite hard.

There were some nice properties across the channel...

and Mr. Bill looked good there.

We did stop on our way off the island and checked out Englewood Beach, although we didn't stay.  Overall it was another great day but probably not a place we would visit often.

Thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Terrific Tuesday

We started today without any big plans.  It actually started too early for me with my toilet tank running over about 0700.  What a pain!  Apparently part of the assembly inside the tank came loose and as it was filling, the water was hitting the lid of the tank, running between the lid and the tank itself and covering the floor.  ARGH!!!  That's what towels are for, right?  As I said, 0700 is not my preferred wake-up time, so what's a woman to do...throw down a couple of towels and go back to bed, of course.

There was a craft fair in our favorite little park.  We left the car down at Fisherman's Village (I'll get pictures soon) and walked to the fair.  Although there were some interesting items for sale, a lot of it was jewelry.  Mr. Bill gives me all the jewelry I can possibly wear, so I sure didn't need to buy more.    I did purchase a small dish of mango Italian ice.  OMG, it was delicious!  (probably not on the South Beach diet was the SMALL dish)

From there, we walked back to FV, had a coffee on the deck and headed to the shelter for our time with the dogs.  Since we are not able to have pets at the condo, we are not able to own a dog, so this is our way of getting our animal fix.  We aren't sure whether it makes us or the dogs happier.

We stopped for a quick salad at McDonalds, did a change of clothes at home and headed to the gym.  We decided that today we would try something different; we worked out separately.  We actually got out of the gym in 45 minutes and each had a great workout.

There was another path that we wanted to try across the bridge so we headed that direction.  It runs through a park that is new since Hurricane Charley.  It's a beautiful path that meanders along the Peace River for about 3 miles.  There are many benches to stop and sit and they even supply doggie "poop" bags.  After walking for 30 minutes, we took advantage of one of the benches and watched the sunset, then completed another 15 minutes back to the car.

It was a great day; lots of time outside, lots of sun, lots of exercise.  

Thanks for stopping by...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gasparilla Island State Park

We decided to check out this place one day last week after scouring our local map and FL Gazetteer.  We were very happy with that decision, it was beautiful.  We weren’t prepared for such a great day…no shorts, no sunscreen, no hats.  Oh well, we did think to pack a couple of chairs and limited ourselves to 20 minutes at the beach.

We parked at Sea Grape beach, one of the two beach areas, walked over the bridge protecting the dunes and found this...  The beach appears to run the entire length of the island.  As you can see, we had the beach almost to ourselves.  The area allows swimming year-round in the Gulf of Mexico, although tidal flows cause dangerous currents, so caution is advised.  The Gulf temperatures were running in the low 50's due to the recent below normal temps.  We didn't have any towels with us so didn't bother to get our feet wet.

The park itself is located at the southern tip of the island and encompasses 127 acres.   The oldest structure on the island and one of the oldest in the county is the Boca Grande lighthouse, built in 1890.  It was operated by the U.S. Coast Guard until 1966 and then abandoned.  Twenty years later it was renovated and rededicated.  It is owned by the State and was opened to the public in 1983 where it houses a museum and visitor center.  Although there was severe damage to the island during Hurricane Charley, the lighthouse received little damage.  Amazing considering that it sits right on the beach at the end of the island.  My condo doesn't sit anywhere near the beach and it was heavily damaged.  Go figure.

There is a very deep pass in the water between Gasparilla Island and Cayo Costa Islands which is known as the Tarpon Capital of the World.  You can read all about the tarpon here.

We left our car in the parking lot and went for a walk along the only road to the end of the island.  We walked for about 40 minutes and covered about 2 miles.  It was a great little adventure and didn't cost us much either.  There is a toll bridge to access the island ($4) and a small fee ($3) for parking, which allows parking at any of the areas.  I was a very happy camper.

We will definitely be going here again.  

Thanks for stopping by...