Monday, December 30, 2013

Oh the HU-MANATEE!

Our time here in SW Florida is coming to a close.  We've been packing up and getting to move the trailer to another spot, since ours is rented out as of January 1st and we aren't leaving until the 5th.  We had some torrential rain the other night, and unlike the romance of "the sound of rain on a tin roof", here in the trailer it sounds more like being under siege.  Here is a little video I shot in the dark; turn your volume way up and you'll get an idea of what it sounds like in here!



The wind must have caught our screen door, because we found the handle on the floor one morning.  We took a ride to the Camping World store to get a new one and Mr. Fix It had in on in no time.  :)



While up that way, we stopped at Manatee Park where every winter hundreds of manatee flock to the warm water being discharged by the power plant.  We saw quite a few, but the photographs didn't turn out well - the water was dark and the sun so bright you really couldn't see under the water.  Trust me when I say there are lots of manatee in the following picture!

 
 
We made friends with one of the Manatee...

I even practiced my alligator wrestling skills while at the park.  Didn't know I was that talented, did you?

 
Kids were out flying kites.  In December!  That's my kind of Christmas break!


Over the weekend we took in another art show, this one in Estero, and had lunch at a California Pizza Kitchen.  Those restaurants are closed in Dayton, so I enjoyed my thai pizza, one of my favorites from that chain!








We've been over to Sanibel a few times to do some shelling, and Thursday my friend Elaine and I plan to take in an early sunrise and a negative low tide.  It's tough work, but somebody has to do it.  Those shells aren't going to find themselves! I have to get a few more beach fixes before we head to the desert!  A cloudy day on the beach beats a sunny day of freezing cold temperatures!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Traveling Lemons!

 
Merry Christmas from sunny Florida!
 
 
The week of Christmas has been a fun and busy one!  We started the week going to a movie, which we rarely do, seeing the movie "The Book Thief".  It was an excellent movie and a cried my fool head off!  I couldn't help but think of my parents and all the terrifying things they experienced and witness in Hungary during WWII and again during the Hungarian Revolution.  I can't even imagine.
 
Jason had to work today, (Christmas day), so he came to visit earlier in the week.  It was great to see him, and he asked for one of his favorite home cooked meals - my version (well, actually a spin on Rhonda Turpin's version - thanks Rhonda!) of shepherds pie.
 
Recipe:
 
1 lb of ground beef
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 can of corn
1 package of sliced mushrooms
6 potatoes made into mashed potatoes (with as much butter/milk as you want)
1 jar of mushroom gravy
 
Brown the beef with the onions and garlic and mushrooms until meat is browned.
Put the beef mixture on the bottom of a casserole dish
Add the can of corn, layered evenly over meat mixture
Top that with the mashed potatoes, spreading evenly.
Poke a few holes in the mashed potatoes and pour the gravy over it all, spreading evenly
 
Cook at 350 for 40 minutes.  Simple and yummy!
 
You can see the boys were a big help while I cooked....
 
 

 
One afternoon we headed over to a small artsy, fishing village on Pine Island called Matlacha.  We browsed the funky art shops and had dinner, then watched another beautiful sunset!  You know I love me a fine sunset!! LOL
 


 
 
Going...
 Going....
 Going....
 Gone...
 
 
While I was taking pictures of the sunset, my super sheller in training, Noel, found a cool horseshoe crab shell, (they molt them off like a cicada), and a great true tulip shell which should clean up nicely!
 

 
We found a local church to attend a candle light Christmas Eve service.  It was a beautiful service and a good reminder of the reason we celebrate Christmas.
 

 
Yesterday I prepped all the dishes I'm taking to the campground's Christmas dinner.  I'm taking my favorite strawberry pretzel dessert dish, bourbon balls (you know I love me some bourbon balls!), and deviled eggs.  The hardest part was finagling enough room in our tiny RV refrigerator!
 
Bourbon Balls:
 
1 box of vanilla wafers
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 cup ground pecans
2 or 3 tablespoons of light Karo syrup
2/3 cup bourbon or rum
 
Mix the above, roll into balls and roll into powdered sugar.
 
The mixture is quite sticky, so finger licking is encouraged!
 
Later Christmas day....
 
So now we've had our Christmas dinner, and boy, can these old grandmas cook!  Everything I tried was delicious, and the bourbon balls were a big hit!  There were door prizes, one of which I WON!!  The funny thing is that all the door prizes either related to coffee or booze!  I'm liking this lifestyle more and more!  The prize I won are liquor filled chocolates (it was like they KNEW me!)
 
Here are a few pics:
 


They had a fake fire burning on the big screen tv!


 
 Merry Christmas everyone!  May 2014 be blessed with happiness, health and good fortune!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




Friday, December 20, 2013

Sunrise Shelling....



Low tides are especially low during a full moon, and the pull of the moon was just too much for me!  We got up at the butt-crack of dawn and headed to Sanibel.  It was a beautiful morning, and with my McDonalds coffee in hand, I began walking at the water line.  I was finding lots of pretty shells, but what I really wanted to find was an alphabet cone. 


Now my mother passed away in 2009, and I talk to her all the time in my head, but never before had I gotten an answer.  But as I was walking along, I whispered to myself "come on mom, help me find an alphabet cone".  I took ONE step forward, and there, rolling in the surf, was a perfect ALPHABET CONE!  Mind you all the other shells were kind of smushed into the sand, but this one just rolled to me!  Bazinga!  Thanks mom!


I found tons of shells and Noel and I were having a great time looking at all the live star fish, fighting conchs and roosting pelicans.

 
Low tide pools had lots of live critters, and all those brown lumps you see on the right, are live fighting conchs!  So funny to watch them scoot themselves along!
 
 
 
I let Noel hold the camera for a while so I wouldn't get it wet, but this is why he usually isn't trusted with the camera!!  Not my best side!!  Gee thanks honey!
 
 
 We found three different kinds of starfish!






see the tracks it makes in the sand?


Then Noel spotted something large on the sandbar.  OMG - that is a huge horse conch!  I had to get to it before someone else spied it!  (and there were lots of other hard core shellers out this morning).  I RAN, through the knee deep ice cold water out to the sandbar, and sure enough, it was a giant horse conch.  But, wha-wha, he was alive!  So I took some pictures of him and then put him back into deeper water.

We continued walking along and finding more shells, and I saw something dark buried under the sand.  I tried to uncover it, but soon realized whatever it was, it was big.  So I kept digging, and found another giant horse conch - but this time it was empty!  Bazinga!!  He has a lot of barnacles on him, which I knocked off with our metal grill spatula (hey, being able to improvise and use tools is what separates us from other mammals! LOL)  A little muratic acid and he will be as beautiful as can be!


The trees along the beach front were filled with roosting pelicans, waiting for the sun to warm things up just a bit more before they started their daily task of fishing.





The sun was strong by the time we left, so I'll leave with a photo you can meditate to while its snowing outside!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Twas the week before Christmas....

It has been a pretty quiet week around here. We've been staying pretty close to home since I haven't been feeling great, and last weekend it was cool and rainy (what IS that stuff falling from the sky???).   We started to get a little stir crazy, so we decided to check out the local mall.  It's about the size of the Dayton Mall, and we enjoyed just walking around checking out the decorations and having lunch at the food court.  I enjoyed looking at the various "Florida" Christmas cards and tree d├ęcor -








We spent some time in the large bookstore, and I sat and caught up on all the jewelry and artsy magazines.



On another late afternoon, we drove to a nearby senior community called "Shell Point".  It has upscale homes and condos, as well as assisted living and skilled care medical facilities.  It's really nice, with beautiful landscaping and right on the bay.  We had heard from some locals that it was a good place to see manatee, so we went to check it out.  We not only saw a huge manatee and her baby, but six dolphin!

(Note: if you click on the bottom right button, you will see the video "full screen")
 
There was also a posing pelican, and a nesting pair of osprey.


The weather has been beautiful the last few days, and doing laundry is a pleasure since its right by the pool!  One afternoon we decided to go back out to Harne's Marsh and pick up some more apple snail shells, since several people have asked me to send them a few.  Noel was a trooper, complete with the "gator stick" and did most of the bending over while I pointed.  They were extra mucky and muddy this time, since the county mowed the grass around the lake/marsh and many of the shells were pushed down into the muck.

We saw several wood storks perched in an old tree


And this egret was curious to see what we were doing with his lunch leftovers...


I soaked them overnight, then scrubbed each one, rinsed with bleach water, and then laid out to dry.  Even after the overnight soak, a few spiders found air pockets up in the shells and survived to surprise the crap out of me as I washed the shells.  Then after the bleach, I found two more dead ones!  Oh the things I can get into for shells!

 

Yesterday and today (Thursday, December 19) the truck has been in the shop (it sprung an antifreeze hose leak), so its been spent reading, napping, checking out campgrounds on the internet as we plan our trek west, and a bike ride down to the fruit stand for some fresh fruits and veggies.  What have YOU been doing?