Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Vintage Tiara

Occasionally after I bring Pop up for golf and do his food shopping, I stop in one of the thrift shops in that area.  On one of those recent excursions, I was waiting at the register for the clerk to ring up the woman in front of me.  I'm never in a rush during these outings, so I began some leisurely conversation with both the clerk and the lady she was taking care of.  The register at this particular shop has a glass display cases and counters for us to put our purchases on. Those very same cases are stocked with things like jewelry, evening bags, and other nice little doodads.  The woman in front of me was admiring a few things in the case, and the clerk was taking out a few things in between doing the register work.  We gals were all chatting about the things she was pulling out when I spotted it sitting in the case; a vintage tiara!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I like to think of myself as relatively respectful, so I asked the woman in front of me "is there any chance you want that tiara?"  She turned an looked at me directly and said "now what in the world would I do with a tiara?" I was flabbergasted! I wanted to exclaim "what WOULDN'T you do with a tiara?!"

Since we girls were just us, no one else behind me waiting, I asked the clerk if she would please remove the tiara for me to look at, as long as the case was open.  She complied.  I asked the woman in front of me if she would like to try it on. The woman was quite elderly, well into her 80s. She said no, she wouldn't like to try it on; said she had no use for a tiara. She explained when she was growing up, she was lucky enough to have food, never mind a tiara.  She wasn't being mean or rude, she was simply explaining facts as they were in her life.  I felt a little sad at that moment, because I got a sense that she has had some very hard times in her life.  By this point, I knew her husband was deceased, I knew she grew up in poverty, and I knew things were not easy for her financially right now.  All this came out while we were waiting on line.  I wanted desperately to buy that tiara for her, that's all I wanted to do.  I wanted to give her a surprise.

The clerk removed the vintage tiara and I began to admire it.  I asked the elderly woman in front of me if she would like to try it on.  She told me she's never worn a tiara, and she really saw no purpose or reason to try it on.  I couldn't hold back and I calmly explained I think everyone should have a tiara, or at least have a moment where they can say they've had one on their head.  She looked at me and laughed, but in a good natured way.  She said "sure, you can put it on me if you must."  So, I did.  You know what?  She giggled like a little girl, and I don't care if anyone thinks that's a sexist thing to say.  I don't mean it that way.  I'm saying this in the kindest sweetest way possible.  Because for a little moment there, this elderly woman who was so very pragmatic let me place that tiara on her head, and she actually liked it.  She didn't want it, but she at least let me place it on her head for a fleeting moment.

Vintage tiara!
Might be time to get those roots done...

The world we live in is very harsh for the majority of its inhabitants, not limited to people.  For me, I find ways to cope with the overwhelming abuse of the world and all on it, mostly by doing random little things that probably are meaningless to the majority of the world, but to me mean a lot.  Sometimes those random things have been doing my daily run while wearing a (non-vintage) tiara, wearing my magic purple hair because its Tuesday, or dressing up like a faerie while selling cookies at Midsummer.  And, sometimes because I do those random things, I lapse and just assume the rest of the world does similar random things.  But, they don't.  I was reminded of this during my diallogue with the clerk and the elderly woman. But you know what else?  I know that I'm not nuts for doing this after all.  Because in the moment I slipped on that vintage tiara upon that elderly woman's head, she laughed, she smiled and giggled.

She didn't want to take it home with her, so I took it home with me. Yup, I bought the vintage tiara.  Its kind of weird because I used to have a vintage tiara that was in my box of "fancies" that one of my grandmother's gave me through my mom.  Hat pins.  Paste pins. Crystal  bracelets and aurora borealis necklaces.  All sorts of sparkly things, including a vintage tiara.  That box, the tiara, and most other things in it have long since disappeared.  But somehow the Universe dragged me into that store at that moment while the magic vintage tiara was there, along with a joyful clerk, and an elderly woman who I think needed an extra little giggle in her day.

Just another "coping" moment in the world; another great moment in the Keys.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Back!

It's back!  The "it" being the sun.  Welcome back, you've been missed!

We had a stretch of clouds, rain, isolated thunderstorms, squalls, and ick for the last few days... over a week actually.  Life goes on through it all, there's always plenty to do, but things go a whole lot smoother when the sun is out.

Yesterday the winds finally began to abate, and today is just beautiful.  The day dawned with flecks of sun streaming through my windows, and as the hours march on the day gets better and better. I took a ride to Key West for a delivery and planned on picking something up  for a friend. The delivery went well, the store not so much.  They're closed on Wednesday.  Who in the world closes a retail store on a Wednesday?  Key West does, that's who.  Maybe they were just as excited to see the sun as I was, and perhaps they drove up to Big Pine.  Who knows.

Even though I made a trip down to the "big city" and came back without I hoped to return with, it was beautiful.  I bumped into a couple friends, and had a few casual conversations with people I'd never even met before, because that's the way things are down here; friendly.  These conversations were a nice brief interlude as I strolled around the strets of Key West on my way to a closed store on this beautiful day.

The sun is out.  I may run, I might not.  I've already been outside and marveled at the sea several times. It's flattening out. The visibility is returning, and it will be nice again for snorkeling and observing all the special sea life that is out there which people travel from far and wide to see.  I'm beyond estatic, the forecast is for a fantastic weekend, and the week ahead is calling for typical South Florida weather in the summer... sunshine every day, with slight chance of rain.  Here in the summer every day brings a chance of rain.  Nothing to be alarmed about there.  Its so pretty here right now I just feel like celebrating.  So I will.  It's time to take another walk on the beach, and see what the storm brought in.  I've been collecting lots of sea beans, rough waters wash them in.  I might even put up a post for you about them.

Enjoy your day where ever you are.  I hope its sunny, hot and beautiful for you, just like it is here for us.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Goings On

We're still in a less than prime weather pattern in our neck of the woods, although thankfully the rains are mostly gone.  Thoughts are with those in Central Florida, the Gulf Coast and such where Debby is stalling and dumping copious amounts of rain.  Here, we're left with winds.  Intense, never ending, winds.

The big bad wolf has been huffing and puffing for days, but he seemed to ramp things up early evening yesterday, and just hasn't stopped.  Through it all, there's still plenty to do in the area, but we can cross "water activities" off the list for another day or so.

This was early Friday evening; a squall was moving through.
Here, you can see quite well the leading edge of the storm.

I turned to my right and saw the sky had instantly turned black.

This is the last photo I took before I grabbed Peri and ran.
All is well, this was just a squall, and really isn't that unusual.
Truth be told, it was magnificent to see.
For me, I was busy preparing for Key Wests Midsummer Night's Dream and Spectacle.  The event went ahead on Saturday night, it was rain or shine.  As I loaded my car with all things needed for my booth, I took note of a very small spot of sun on my driveway. Windy too, but I can deal with that, no problem, is what I thought as I loaded.  I was happy enough it wasn't raining.  I put on my faerie costume, magic purple hair, covered myself in glitter and tucked my borrowed wings into the car.  Half way to Key West the floodgates opened and I wondered aloud what the heck am I doing? I persevered for the drive down, and by the time I hit Rockland Key the sky was clear.  Not a drop of rain fell during the festival.  I sold a lot of cookies and sweets, although not as many as I would have if the weather was better.  I know for a fact some people stayed home because of the weather, and my friends didn't go because of the weather.  I'm not sure I would have gone myself if I hadn't committed as a vendor.  I sat outside dressed as a faerie with glitter all over me, sparkly tights, wings, magic purple hair and as big a smile as I could muster considering it was so very warm and humid. Perhaps I would have been a little more comfortable with a smaller pair of wings a fact I have duly registered in my brain. Trust me, by this time next year, I'll have that smaller pair to call my own stashed in my closet, because I did realize my Keys wardrobe is just not completely without wings of my own.  "Cookies taste better when wearing wings" is what I overhead one little faerie telling her mom as she relished an organic vegan snickerdoodle cookie; I admit that was a very cute moment.

One of the many beautiful faeries in the garden at Midsummer Night's Dream.
Overall, Midsummer was better than I expected it would be once the weather started tanking last week, but not as good as originally I hoped before the weather tanked. The event itself is beautiful. I will simply hope for better weather next year, and also I shall plan to bring 1 other person to tend the booth with me.  It was a  bit lonely at times, and I couldn't see any of the poetry, theatre, fire dancing, or other events because I had to stay with my booth. On the way to the ladies' room I did walk by a dark but sparkly corner of the garden where bells were set up and someone was playing them. It was a beautiful moment. I was alone and couldn't see the person playing them at first because it was so dark; the moment was not tactile, but rather all sound, energy and emotion.

The wet weather and wind is creating havoc in animal world.  The deer are constantly bedding down, the birds are roosting for days on end in the Bight, Angel is miserable because she didn't get out today (the wind would quite possibly rip off her wings on the way to the aviary.... no way she is going outside on days like this), and even Peri is cranky.  I rescued him twice in the last two days from the wind; once he hunkered down in the sea oats on the beach, and last night he was cowering in a corner near our garage.  He's not our kitty, remember that please. I'm limited on his care because of this reason. He DOES have a home, shelter, medical care, food and blah blah blah.  Just because my kitties are not allowed outside doesn't mean I am allowed to subject my belief system on others. Through all this, Peri spends the majority of his time here. I couldn't leave him so sad and lonely in the oats or in the corner.  He is doing ok, trust me. And, today with no rain, he's still a little crabby, but not so bad.

Speaking of crabby.... the land crabs are everywhere down here, and I do mean everywhere.  We're all commenting on the crab situation because they literally are everywhere.  They are washed out of their hidey holes.  Their colors are amazing... vivid blues, black, red, purple, yellow, orange and more.  And, they like to gather in corners, behind things, and etc.  This is typical, look at some pictures I took of what's going on:

Look at this tiny guy seeking sanctuary near the edge of a flower pot.

Mr. Crab is very orange!

Crabs can go sideways!  Who knew?

Close up.  Wow, check out that claw!

Crab party behind the rain barrel.

That about sums things up for now, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Happy Solstice!  Are you trying to keep cool as much of the country broils?  Here, today dawned cloudy after another night of intense rain.  We're stuck in a wet tropical weather pattern right now, might last another couple days.  We're getting torrential downpours, and when it's not raining, its drab and cloudy.

But, just like in "The Grinch That Stole Christmas," the morning dawned anyway.... Litha arrived.  Also known as Midsummer, this is a celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Without going into too much history, many cultures have, for eons, celebrated this day.  A time to celebrate light, a time to give thanks for the bounty that surrounds us this time of year... the light, the food, the sun.  It's glorious, it really is... clouds and all.

Maybe you remember reading that my dad's favorite day of the year was the first day of Summer.  I love this day, I really do. I owe this love of all things Summer mostly to dad, but also to mom.  She loved Summer, but adored Spring. The two of them were perfect for each other; one counting the days til Spring, the other counting the days til Summer. Staring at those numbers on a calendar while a thick blanket of snow covered the ground was too little solace back then. Now I still embrace the arrival of Summer, despite living in a warm climate year round.

I observed the day in very small ways, but mostly I've been in the kitchen all day today preparing for an event this weekend.  On Saturday night, I am going to be at Midsummer Night's Dream, taking place at the Key West Botanical Gardens. This event is a fundraiser for Art Behind Bars, and also the Key West Botanical Garden. It's a celebration of Midsummer, with fairies, nymphs, fire dancers, poets, a little Shakespeare tossed in, and more.  I'm getting decked out in my mystical best and going to sell my fabulous organic vegan baked goods.  I've planned the menu, planned the outfit, and am working on manifesting the completion of all that needs to be done in order to roll out my door at 3pm Saturday afternoon to be ready for the magic of it all beginning at 5pm.  Midsummer Night's Dream lasts until 11pm.  Under any other circumstance would be perfect, unless you're me running a bed and breakfast (my bed and dinner idea is just not catching on... yet, LOL).  So, if you're in the area, I hope you'll come to the Key West Botanical Garden and be part of Midsummer.  Come on, you're dying to use those angel wings you have stashed in your closet, and that body glitter is sitting there calling your name.  Oh, sorry.... for a moment I forgot that the rest of the world doesn't operate on day to day missions the same as we do in the Keys, where a party springs up at the drop of a hat, and we all have angel wings and body glitter to call upon in a moment's notice.  I really do seem to have a never-ending supply of glitter because seriously glitter just goes with everything, and I do mean everything.  My magic purple hair has been brushed and fluffed, I've got the perfect (glittery) dress too.  All that's left is to make my magical mask.  I never thought I'd ever get so much use out of glitter, purple hair, and a magic wand. Instead the question that really begs to be asked is how did I ever function without them?

Happy Solstice everyone.  I hope you had a beautiful day, and that Litha has ushered in the first of many magical days this summer for you.  Blessed Be.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Another Father's Day, Another Memory

Happy Father's Day to all celebrating.  This certainly isn't the first post on a Father's Day from Deer Run, and fingers crossed it will not be my last.

I miss my dad, and think of him a lot.  He was my hero, mentor, inspiration, role model, dad, father, advisor, and the best, most trusted advocate I had, or ever will have, on my side.  While I may not have been his mentor (daughters aren't meant for that role, are we?) I do know that I was in his top 4 of most trusted advocates... the others being my mother and siblings.  I earned it, as did the rest of my family. My family is tight, and have weathered many storms together.

I was thinking about a Father's Day post for about a week. What could I write that I never wrote before? Not much, partly because if you read my blog, you already know that my dad was everything to me, and its been said before. So, I thought "I know! I'll put up a photo!"  Then began the task of going through photographs.  My life slipped by in decades of images. I looked at some photographs of dad of very long ago, before I was even born.  Dad was a handsome man, but very humble.  And, he HATED having his picture taken.  I have so many photos of dad with a hand in front of his face, a coffee cup (with a cigarette in hand, sadly) held at the perfect height for obscurity, gift boxes at Christmas in place of a face, and blah blah blah.  Maybe some people would be sad by this, but not me.  I laughed.  With every photo of dad's face obscured, I could hear his voice in my head, and good natured laughter of family and good friends around.

And, then I realized yet another commonality I have with dad.  I hate to have my picture taken, I really do.  I've masted the menu in front of the face at restaurants, sunglasses and hats whenever a camera may be lurking, the quick turn of the head, and so forth.

My dad relished his privacy almost like no one I ever knew.  He was fanatical.  Data, photos, documents.  Anything.  I think maybe it was born when he began working for a large computer company as an engineer and saw all the data and information that flew past him at lightning speed.  He was there to make sure the machines (and later as technology evolved, computers) kept running, and fix them when they broke.  He feared his privacy would be compromised by technology and people.  To underscore his point, he related stories to me about information that I'd never tell anyone else because it was understood that what's said within family stays within family.  Then again some of the stories sounded so crazy and unbelievable if I repeated them, I'd be thought of as crazy.  But, the stories were all fact. Dad was a good conversationalist, when he chose to share information and experiences, there was no need for embellishment. Dad had some amazing experiences in his life, and a vast amount of knowledge. Most people just never knew, as he chose to walk the Earth as an ordinary and very humble man.

I like my privacy too, maybe you wouldn't know it.  I write on a public blog, I have a job where my accessibility to people and media is needed, and I am no longer afraid to take risks when there's injustice happening, be it in my family, or victims of abuse... animals, people or the environment.  Putting oneself "out there" so to speak is really hard for lots of people, including me.  I don't like conflict, then again who does.  But, this beautiful evolution of being able to stand up when "someone" needs to would never have happened within me without my father, both directly and indirectly.  He continues to guide me even though he's not here.

As I flipped through those countless photographs this week of my dad, I remembered things mostly forgotten, even as benign as his loathing of having his picture taken.

I've written public and private tributes to my dad, which is never easy to do, and just seems to get even harder the longer he's gone. "They" are wrong.  Time doesn't heal.  It does other things, and makes me miss him more. But, it also reminds me that he still has a large hand in my development even at this stage and age of the game.  And, I realized this week another fantastic trait dad passed down, that I hate to have my picture taken and I can (and probably will) put up another "family portrait" of 2 photos in my living room. One where dad is holding a Christmas package up in front of his face, and  one of me taken decades ago doing the exact same thing.  Like father, like daughter.

I decided not to post a photograph today because I don't think dad would have wanted me to do so.

I sincerely wish all the dads out there a Happy Father's Day.  As I always say, almost anyone can be a father, but it takes someone very special to be a dad.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Another Beautiful Day in Paradise!

Each day has the same amount of hours as the other, but they are not all created equal.  I'm bursting with excitement over all I accomplished today, including perfecting another new recipe, a gluten free soy free mint double chocolate chip cookie.  Kids, this one is so good even I, master of said cookie domain, almost cannot believe this is a gluten free cookie.  Vegan.  Organic. Need you ask?

Without boring you with all my accomplishments of the day, I'm going to share some of the photos I've taken over the last day or so.  I want to say that any time you see those Key deer shots, especially with the fawns, I'm using my telephoto lens so as not to interfere with their development.  For your viewing pleasure, I present the following:

This grew randomly in my garden. A friend says its Amaranth.
I saw a photo, sure looks like Amaranth to me,
but I still don't know who put it there!

My towering papaya tree.
From little acorns do mighty oaks grow... or rather
from teeny seeds do beautiful papaya grow.

Mother and baby at rest. My heart just melts.

Tally me bananas!

Peri always stresses me out when he does his Flying Walenda act.

He has no fear of anything, crazy cat!

One tries to rest in the wrack line while the other forages. Unusual to see.


Slice of life on my beach.

Baby fawn sticking her tongue out!

This is my "Sue plant."
She gave this to me before she died.
It blooms randomly, its an Amaryllis so more people are used to seeing them at Christmas.
Here, it blooms in the summer usually.
When it does, its like Sue is right there in the garden.
We miss her and speak of her often.

This is the Atlantic Ocean this morning about 10am or so.
Flat Flat Flat!

I wondered when someone would finally show up here with SUPs!
I wonder no more.
First guests ever with SUPs.
They invited me to have a go at it.  They made it look far too easy.
Water terror girl said no, but thank you for asking.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Not Born to Run

Did you read Born to Run?  I did, read it twice actually on recommendation of a friend.  I liked it enough to read it again cover to cover.  I'm impressed with the Ultra athletes, and know that one of them is vegan (Scott Jurek).  I'm a fan of his, he's a good motivator. But, its just not enough for me.  Motivation I mean.  I don't think there's anything out there that will turn me into a bonafide runner any time soon.  I'm struggling every day, after more than 2 years of running, its still a chore.

On the upside I get to see things that no one else will see at that moment in time. Today was a run like that, a little heaven sent mixed in with the torture.  I got out much earlier than I normally do, still too late for any "real" runner, but let's not forget I just do this to "get it done" so to speak... to save me from myself considering the amount of cooking & baking I do as part of my work.  Today, I was treated to several fawns bedded down deep in mangroves.  I only saw them because I heard the soft rustling of their protective mothers as my footsteps approached.  I saw a huge variety of wading birds and shore birds too.  I don't even know what they all were, today I saw things I've never seen before.  Most were roosting back in the Bight, I had to scan through the thick vegetation to see them.  I also heard things, many things.  Constant rustling and shuffling in the woods. Probably iguanas, but could have been some serious sized land crabs. I've seen some holes that are larger than the size of a grapefruit. Can you imagine the size crab that lives in there? And, today I finally found the source of the beautiful fragrance that fills the air at a certain spot on my street, an immense fragrant white frangipani completely in bloom right now.

But, through all the beauty and wonder, I'm still out there to run.  I don't like my sneakers anymore, and after I wear out this second pair I got up in Miami at the running store, I'm going to re-think what I wear.  My time is no longer improving, plus we're moving into the time of year where running for time is much more difficult.  It's getting far too hot in the afternoon for me to do anything other than survive. Every day I think "today's the day I will do more, go further, go faster" and every day honestly I fail.  It's all I can to do keep up with my little daily 5k.  That's not much folks, just over 3 miles. Really nothing in the scheme of a serious runner, more like a warm up.  I realize that.  My boot camp friends are so into running, I just sit there and listen.  No, I'm not going to run a full marathon or a half.  No, I don't ever feel the need to do a tri (besides, can you even imagine water terror girl attempting a triathlon?  No, me either).  Maybe its age, maybe its just the reality of the fast twitch fibers that I don't have.  I have no idea, but admittedly it is frustrating.

I think one of the best company slogans ever created was Nike's "just do it."  No frills, yet no explanation necessary.  I say that to myself almost every time I come across something I dread.  Just do it.  So, I slog through it... whatever the "it" may be at that moment.  Running. Cleaning beaches under searing mid-day sun. Waking up when it's still dark out when I desperately want to sleep in.  Just do it.

So, that's what I do.  And, by the way, I do get a lot of motivation from those animals I see.  And from people and animals with challenges of their own. Yes, it motivates me. It helps me to watch the video of the kitty with no back legs as she walks, pulling herself forward.  It motivates me to watch a veteran who had his leg blown off by an IED remove his prosthesis at a mud run, hold it over his head and get through a muddy swamp obstacle, hop by grueling hop. It motivates me that someone like Lance Armstrong (yes, I'm a HUGE fan) beats cancer, wins 7 Tours, and then in retirement moves on to things like triathlons; despite the haters who constantly try to tear him apart, to no avail as of now.

I must have running in my life now to maintain some balance on many different levels.  But, I'm not "born to run" I'm the one no one talks about; out there every day, alone in the mid day sun, hating every pounding step on the asphalt; yet grateful at that very same moment I possess 2 good legs to get me through it.

It's like the people that have straight hair who want curly hair, and the curly hair people who want straight hair.  I want to be a runner, but I am what I am.  Acceptance is part of the deal. Now that I look back, I started begging my mom for "perms" when I was barely 10, and then about 15 years to stop perming and accept my straight hair. Maybe there's a connection.  If so, I guess I've got another 13 years of angst ahead of me as I run before acceptance kicks in. 13 years, lots of sneakers, and plenty of time to keep searching for motivation. Tomorrow is another day to "just do it." I'm glad I'm not the one who has to hand out those royalty checks every time I say it, think it or dream it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It Sucks To Be Vegan (in photos) - NOT!

I recently received a new cookbook as a gift.  The title is "Vegan Yum Yum" the author is Lauren Ulm.  I had heard of this book, but didn't have it in my collection (hard to believe, a cookbook I didn't have?!) A sweet, kind soul sent me a signed copy of the book for my enjoyment.  And, yes, I AM thoroughly enjoying it!

Although there is a lot going on that I promise to post about (it HAS been 5 days or so since my last post, sorry!) I want to take this opportunity to post about food.

When I read the introduction to Vegan Yum Yum, I had to laugh because the author writes how she and her husband have a running joke about when they eat something over the top decadent, they say "sure sucks to be vegan, I'm so hungry & unsatisfied" as they laugh. I laughed reading that because the same thing happens here in my house, and I'm certain it goes on in MANY other vegan households.

To some people, vegan food is a mystery that cannot be comprehended.  Yet, I've written before that we ALL eat vegan food at some time, many people just don't think about it that way.  There's plenty of "accidentally vegan" junk food out there, and TONS of nutritious vegan food out there.

Today's post was inspired by Lauren's cookbook, by the beautiful food that was plucked off the trees in my garden today, and last but not least by the spectacular curly kale I bought at the Good Food Conspiracy this morning.

Organic papaya, mangoes and bananas straight from my garden;
organic curly kale from Good Food Conspiracy!

Organic salad with mango poppy dressing on the left;
 Lauren's recipe for pasta w/fresh grape tomato sauce on right (all organic, of course!)

Sadly, another friend moved. This was a cake I made for her farewell gathering.
Organic carrot cake w/dairy free cream cheese frosting (frosting was mostly organic too!)

When I have extra batter from breakfast, I make waffles for us too.
Not as pretty as the ones that make it to the guest table, but no less delicious.
Here, coconut waffles made with oat flour (organic, need you even ask?!)

Remember that cinnamon roll recipe I mentioned last week?
Here they are, before being iced; my first ever effort with cinnamon rolls.
Pop told me he has never tasted ANYTHING as good as these! (wow!) Organic, you bet!

This was my entree' from the Square Grouper when we went out to celebrate
my friend Katy's birthday. WOW INDEED!

My friend Bonnie is love and light.
This is the (organic!) birthday cake I made to bring to her annual "Pisces Party" this year.

I made gingerbread people en masse as part of the many baking orders I took for Christmas this year past.
What's that you ask?  Are they organic?!  OF COURSE!  

This was just part of the homemade organic candy I made for the other happy vegan's Easter basket.
Dark chocolate coconut eggs, dark chocolate peppermint patties, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups.
All organic, every ingredient!

The other happy vegan's first born got married this past November.
Somehow the top tier of their wedding cake didn't get saved by their caterer.
So, I made a small "top tier" cake for them to stash in their freezer til their first anniversary.
The palm tree is because their wedding cake had palm trees on it; its pink because her color scheme was pinkish.
If you ask me, this is better.... its ORGANIC! its VEGAN!
They were tickled pink (get it?!) over this teeny cake.

Here is my version of key lime pie.  Vegan. Organic.
Made with organic key limes from my garden, the starfruit is organic from my garden too.
The graham crust is scratch made (of course).
I even made the organic graham crackers to start the base.
One day last week, a mysterious box arrived in my mail.
When I opened it, I found a treasure trove of hard to find vegany items from 2 guests who had recently stayed with us.
Included was a batch of their home made (VEGAN! of course!) chocolate chip cookies.
Nothing makes this baker more weak in the knees than someone else baking for ME!
M & M.... you guys are da bomb (so are your cookies!)

It sure sucks to be vegan...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Turtles Are Here!

What a great day! Today brought forth the discovery of TWO new nests on the beach, which happened as Venus was in transit over the sun (ok, ok, maybe not so melodramatic, but they DID happen last night!) We're so excited!  Loggerheads, both of them.  Now there's three nests so far, how exciting is that!

Also in local happenings, the largest turtle ever to be in-patient at the Turtle Hospital is now in residence.  A 375 pound green turtle was found in distress by people in a small boat.  The turtle had become entangled in lobster trap line, and one of her front flippers was self amputating.  Don't forget this important fact: turtle flippers can only move forward, they cannot move in reverse.  Line is especially problematic for turtles because once they become entangled, they cannot untangle.  Every forward motion of a flipper wraps the line tighter, and tighter and tighter.  It's horrible. So, here was this close to 70 year old mammoth green sea turtle in distress once again thanks to the hand of man.  Yet, thanks to the hand of man, people came to her rescue. As mentioned, the Turtle Hospital responded. Several people were required to lift her into that small boat.  She was transported to the Hospital, evaluated, and had the flipper amputated.  She is now resting comfortably and eating well.  If no infection occurs, she will be released in 2-3 months most likely. Turtles can still survive well with an amputation.  The goal of the Turtle Hospital is "treat 'em and street 'em" (my words, not theirs) meaning do all within their means to get an injured turtle rehabbed and returned back to Nature as quickly as possible.

I'm hoping to get up to the Turtle Hospital in the next few weeks for a tour.  I've been through the tour literally dozens of times, it never gets old and every time I go I learn something new.  Plus, I never lose that "tug" at the heartstrings when I see those beautiful creatures.

Continuing on the subject of animals, last evening, a PBS film crew came out to film the endangered Key deer as part of a documentary on their "Nature" series.  The piece is about white tailed deer, and Key deer are included because they are a subspecies of the white tails.  This was done under the watchful eye of Officer Chad (FWS) to insure that things were done properly.  I am hopeful the crew got great footage.  They were here at a time when a good size number of deer were foraging on the grounds, and there were 2 babies who happened to be tagging along with their mommies as well.  I wasn't really expecting to be filmed myself as the other happy vegan made the arrangements.  This is important to note because I would have liked to worn clothes that at least matched.  Alas that was not to be. If you happen to catch the segment (scheduled for airing Spring 2013) please forgive the ridiculous attire I happen to have on.  I've written enough about fashion on this blog for you to know that my daily outfits are, um.... interesting at best, and if I wanted anything coordinated, I'd have a challenge that I'm not well prepared to handle at this point in my career.  Regardless, the most important thing is the spotlight is shining upon the endangered Key deer, and I'm hoping that someone, somewhere will change their thinking when they come to visit us, and finally understand why NOT to feed the Key deer, and also why NOT to flip off the innkeeper who's doing her best to politely stop someone from doing so.

I think that wraps it up for today.  I've got cupcakes to frost, cookies to bake, and a cake to mastermind.  Enjoy your day folks, and keep good thoughts for those baby turtles percolating in nests all around the world right now!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reality vs. MakeBelieve

The reality of my kitchen work is nothing like the make believe stuff I see on television.  I've mused about this before, but I've gotten another large dose of reality heaved my way the last few days. Despite the fact that I honestly believe my baked goods are without a doubt the best (both in quality and in taste) in the Florida Keys, it hasn't come easy.

It's been rainy here for the last day or so.  In fact, it was so rainy yesterday I missed my run.  Sure I run when it rains, but I do not run when there's lightning or when there's an absolute deluge.  Yesterday afternoon if I wanted to venture out I would have needed an ark.  I didn't even get to Pop's to deliver a chocolate muffin for him until close to 7pm.  Rainy weather makes me retreat to my kitchen. I've been experimenting with a few new recipes, one of which is a matcha green tea cupcake.  The flavor was perfect, the texture was chewy and doughy.  Plus, they sunk in the middle. Back to the drawing board on that one.

I do not smile when matcha green tea cupcakes get tossed into the compost, especially when I pay retail for the matcha powder.

On the upside, I've got a cinnamon roll recipe I'm working on today which so far is good.  I had to stop and put that aside though because one of those "reality moments" smacked me in the face right in the middle of the recipe.  When I say smacked, I mean it.

Is it just me, or does anyone else in the world have a cabinet door somewhere in their kitchen which, when opened is perfectly at eye level?  I feel so alone on my kitchen mishaps.  No one talks about it, well no professional chefs will openly talk about this stuff.  They've got their pride.  Me?  I've got no pride.  I'm honest to the core about the epic fails and successes in my kitchen.  So, today's confession is that I got into a boxing match with one of my top pantry doors.  I'm here putting up this post in between icing my right eye socket and forehead.

I have a very bad habit I should break when I'm working in the kitchen.  I leave any cabinet door in the open position until I've put any ingredients I need back into that cabinet.  Horrible habit. Sometimes I'll have 3 cabinets open at once.  It's not usually a problem, 95% of my supplies are located in non-trafficked areas.  Its just that stupid top pantry door.  It houses my baking basics, some spice overstocks, and salt.  I really need a salt box.  I had one, it was a gift from my dad. That salt box broke and I haven't had the heart to replace it, which is probably pretty ridiculous. Since I was still using the salt making my cinnamon rolls, I left the door open.  When I spun around to move toward the bottom pantry door, guess what greeted my right eye socket and forehead.

Corners are pointy. And sharp.  And they hurt when spun into.

I got mad and attacked my pantry door.  At least its still on the hinges, so I won't have to answer any odd questioning from the other happy vegan as there is no door fixing coming his way.  This time at least.

All in the name of a cinnamon roll.

So, I stopped the project, got out the ice, and sat down at my keyboard.

Keep calm and carry on.  Thanks for the advice Your Majesty.

I saw Emeril once do a taping for his cooking show.  A friend invited me.  I loved it.  Although the day we went the theme was horrid.... barbecue, and I don't mean tofu or 'shrooms.... I was mesmerized by the antics in his kitchen.  This man had more assistants running around doing his prep work than lawyers in a courthouse.  They chopped for him, they measured for him, they cleaned for him, they stirred for him.  But, when the cameras rolled, there he was alone and showing how easy cooking is simply by tossing something (usually salt or fat) in a pot with a big "BAM."  No one saw the assistants that numbered in the double digits.

No one slices, dices, chops or measures for me.  When I say something is "artisan made" trust me, around here its "artisan made." My hands and joints are suffering more in these years of cooking and baking than they ever did as a full time massage therapist. My baking is utterly a labor of love. I couldn't do it if it wasn't. Something I find hard to believe myself is that I simply cannot stop.  I must bake. Even the other happy vegan will attest to this fact. Often, my down time is spent baking and trying new baking recipes. As hard as this work can be at times, I love it completely and hope that passion never fades.

I'll bet Emeril has someone hold ice on his face when he needs it; I noticed he left cabinet doors open too...