Who’s Up For Spring Break 2014?

Duval Street, Key West

Duval Street, Key West

Among the top Spring Break destinations in the United States for America’s young adults are:

  • Key West, Florida
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • South Padre, Texas
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Lake Havasu, Arizona
  • Panama City, Florida
Family Lunch at EPCOT's Rose & Crown

Family Lunch at EPCOT’s Rose & Crown

Among the top five Spring Break destinations for families this year are:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Bahamas
  • San Diego, California
  • Captiva, Florida

Five Spring Break tunes for college-age kids (or young at heart):

Five Spring Break songs for the over-40 crowd:

I never experienced Spring Break as a college student, but have enjoyed many as an adult, usually with the family in Orlando. Happy times! For all of us unable to travel this season, how about we pour ourselves a glass of our favorite beverage, turn on our personal Spring Break playlist, and relax.

x0x0~Jolyse

Are you traveling for Spring Break? Any Spring Break moments–good or bad–to share?

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Winter Boots, Hello Heels

Can't wait to wear these!

Can’t wait to wear these!

For anyone living in America, you are well aware of how tortuously long this winter season has been. Extraordinarily so. Retail therapy was one of my ways to escape the dreary weather.

I. Love. Shoes.

When I spied this gem of a pair made by Mercanti Fiorentini in DSW’s clearance section, I immediately pictured wearing them at my first book signing. They aren’t a pair my feet will tolerate for an evening of dancing, but are too pretty not to own. Right?

Surprisingly Comfy!

Surprisingly comfy!

This next pair reminds me of Cherry Adair, NYT Bestselling Author of romantic suspense and hilariously fun and competitive shoe maven at RWA’s annual national conference. These black heels are as sexy walking away as they are cute coming toward you. Think I’ll have an edge over Cherry if we bump into each other while I’m wearing these beauties?

Ooh la la!

Ooh la la!

After a dreary season of neutrals, it’s fun to select heels with a bit of spunk.

A Pop of Pink

A Pop of Pink

Do you subscribe to retail therapy or are you strictly a buy-for-a-purpose kind of gal?

 

 

 

 

Saving Mr. Banks, Miss Potter, and Magical News

Castle at Disney World

Castle at Disney World

Saving Mr. Banks

One of my favorite Disney movies is Mary Poppins. I’ve often joked with children in my care that I’m “practically perfect in every way.” I’ve seen the play on Broadway three times (once without any kids) and of course, know all the songs. I thought I already knew everything about the classic movie the night my honey and I decided to see Saving Mr. Banks.

I was wrong.

P. L. Travers:

  • grew up in Australia, not England. (She moved there later in life.)
  • idolized her father, who died quite young due to alcoholism.
  • based Mary Poppins on her stern aunt rather than her mother
  • originally declined Walt Disney’s repeated offers to buy the rights to her story because she didn’t feel a musical set the correct tone
  • eventually agreed to the musical when she fell in love with some of the songs
  • disapproved of the animated portions of the Disney movie
  • created Mary Poppins was her way of “saving” her father in fiction since she hadn’t been able to save him from himself in reality

Illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Illustration from The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Miss Potter

As a kid, I memorized Green Eggs and Ham, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Peter Rabbit. When I became a mother to a baby boy, I decorated his bedroom with Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter characters. I read all her stories to my children and own the video adaptations on VHS. When I came across Miss Potter on Amazon Prime a few weeks ago, I figured I knew most everything there was to know about the author.

Once again, I was wrong.

Beatrix Potter:

Illustration from Peter Rabbit

Illustration from Peter Rabbit

  • was from a wealthy family
  • was secretly engaged to her publisher but he died before they could marry
  • was very particular about the final appearance of her illustrations
  • insisted on limiting the cost of her books so more people could afford them
  • eventually married later in life to the realtor who sold her a country estate

I also recently watched Magic Beyond Words: An Unauthorized Biography of J. K. Rowling, but too many reviewers of that movie question its authenticity for me to feel comfortable sharing my comments.

Why the recent interest in author movies?

A typical summer day writing on the patio

A typical summer day writing on the patio

Perhaps it’s because…

I sold!

I’m a bona fide, sold-my-first-book author. (See, all those late nights, early mornings, and weekends tapping away at a keyboard eventually pay off.) Entangled Publishing has bought the rights to One More Sunset, my romantic suspense/magic novel set between two of my favorite places–New York City and Key West. Entangled is a wonderful, quality company and I’m thrilled to join their team. The book’s release is estimated for late fall/early winter 2014 and will be part of Entangled’s category suspense line, Ignite.

Until next time, enjoy the Moments. Springtime, here we come!!!

Jolyse xoxo

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

A Key West “Choose Your Adventure”

Need an escape from endless shoveling, worries about heating costs, and that cold white stuff that makes going about your daily business so difficult–if not downright dangerous? I do. Let’s go. Imagination is free.

Fly free of responsibilities...

This tropical locale is the kind of place where the biggest decisions are which restaurants to choose, which activities to enjoy, and which drinks to sip as we laze away the days.

Landing at your island destination, you enjoy the freedom that comes along with shedding heavy layers of clothes and leaving your daily routine behind. You check into your accommodations. It’s everything you hoped for. When you pull back the curtains of your luxury suite that leads to your private balcony, you wonder why you waited so long to make that leap and visit the southernmost city. Your view overlooks Mallory Square, one of the world’s most famous places to people-watch and enjoy the sun set. Oh, but the clock tower at nearby Key West Museum chimes one, so you figure you have plenty of time to explore before considering the night’s entertainment.

One of those balconies has your name on it. :)

One of those balconies has your name on it. :)

What will you do first? If you stroll down Key West’s main drag, Duval Street, you choose to stop for at Hog’s Breath Saloon, where you strum your fingers to the live music and chat with fellow escapees on the adjacent bar stools as you sip a Hogarita or two. Waving goodbye to your new friends, you finish your drink and head into the brilliant sunshine for another adventure. You make your way toward Upper Duval, stopping to read the crazy t-shirt sayings at the tacky souvenir shops or visiting bars such as Sloppy Joe’s, Irish Kevin’s, Rick’s, The Bull & Whistle, Fat Tuesday’s, and Buffet’s original Margaritaville.

Fogarty's on Duval

Fogarty’s on Duval

If you opt to visit a number of those establishments or even one for an extended period of time, be prepared to learn the true meaning of the phrase “Duval Crawl.” Otherwise, you can choose to continue your walk to the Butterfly Conservatory and South Beach.

South Beach, Key West

South Beach, Key West

Butterflies and beaches aren’t on the agenda for your first day? Retrace your steps, making a right at the Conch Train station and heading past the Hyatt Resort to the Key West Historic Seaport. You could relax on the deck of Turtle Kraals and watch the comings and goings at the marina or trek the boardwalk until you spy another eatery that fits your style.

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyAfter your late lunch, you could shop (perhaps buy a bottle of wine for later in the evening), talk with local tour charter vendors to book a ghost tour, sunset sail, fishing boat, jet skiing or kayaking eco-tour for later in your stay, or return to the hotel for an afternoon siesta. Before you rest, however, don’t forget to talk with your concierge about selecting just the right restaurant for that romantic dinner before you join the crowd headed to Mallory.

Mallory Square Performer

Mallory Square Performer

After your scrumptious meal and a picturesque sunset you wind your way through entertainers and tourists to Old Town’s quaint side streets, breathing in the ambiance and architecture of the city before returning to Front Street and your hotel. If you’ve had enough excitement for your first day, you can choose to stroll hand-in-hand to your suite, open that bottle of wine and enjoy your loved one’s company.

The following morning…you’re off to a new adventure. What will yours be?

Sailing in Key West Harbor

Sailing in Key West Harbor

Awkward Moment, my Valentine?

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyFebruary fourteenth, the holiday of love, anticipated by some, ridiculed by others. In America, heart displays are featured in the malls and in jewelry commercials with cuddly teddy bears and rose bouquets.

My honey and I tend to celebrate low-key. Winter is a hectic time at work and school is in session. We may watch a movie, go to dinner, or exchange cards. One year was particularly memorable (See LOVE IS IN THE AIR post. My honey still gets kudos from my friends and me for his unique and lasting gift.)

People often remark that we should be as generous and giving like we are on December 25th. I agree and feel the same way about Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t we appreciate our loved ones every day?

Exhausting, you say? Unreasonable? Perhaps, but as a gal still crazy in love after more years than I could have ever imagined, I believe it’s worth the effort. What are the keys to forever love? I don’t know for certain. Marrying our best friend, learning to laugh at ourselves, growing close in good times, and holding each other closer during bad, never forgetting why we fell in love…that has worked for us.

February Movie?

Rylie and I recently saw THAT AWKWARD MOMENT with Zac Efron and cast. We liked it- a lot. I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies as well as witty, off-beat (sometimes raunchy) dialogue/humor. This wasn’t your typical romantic comedy. It focused on three guys and their relationship issues. Still, I was satisfied with how their characters evolved, and I loved, loved the ending. I really like when a story comes full circle and ties together with a beautiful, metaphorical red ribbon.

So…you can imagine my surprise when I saw all the poor reviews for this movie. I’m curious. Have you seen THAT AWKWARD MOMENT? Did you hate it and regret spending money on it, or did you enjoy it for the elements that made you laugh out loud and the dark moment that left you with a tear in your eye and a lump in the throat?

Whatever your relationship status, Margarita Moments wishes you a wonderful Valentine’s Day.   xoxo  Jolyse

Do You Believe in Signs?

Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and my little island life inspired blog, please sign up for your free, weekly escape. (Look on the right sidebar.) It will sail to your inbox on Mondays, more or less, depending on life’s currents and my novel writing schedule. Thanks for visiting!

Fools Rush In, the 1997 romantic comedy starring Selma Hayek and Matthew Perry, is a story about opposites attracting and finding true love in spite of all their differences. The heroine’s belief in signs plays a pivotal role in bringing the two lovers together for their happily-ever-after.

I like that because I believe in signs too.

Jolyse Barnett PhotographyOn our recent Key West getaway to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary, my honey and I arrived at our favorite B&B to learn I had an offer of contract for my romantic suspense novel. That story is set in Key West.

Sign Number One.

We went into full celebration mode, biking, swimming, fishing, and dining at five-star restaurants. On the last night, we embarked on the Jolly Rover II, an eighty-foot tall ship known as a schooner–built in the same style as turn-of-the-century pirate ships. The friendly crew taught us the history of the ship as we soaked in the view.

Key West Harbor

Key West Harbor

Jolyse Barnett Photography

Key West Evening

As if all these wonderful experiences weren’t enough, a small yacht motored past our pirate ship just before sunset. On board appeared to be none other than Howard Livingston crooning his song,”Living on Key West Time.” (Judge for yourself by comparing to his official photos on Mile Marker 24′s website.)

Sign Number Two.

Howie Livingston?

Howie Livingston? I’d say yes.

The Cherry on Top of a Perfect Sail

The Cherry on Top

Mallory Square

Mallory Square

We were thrilled. You see, not only did we know and love the song, but I’d created a YouTube video for this blog  using it a few years ago. We listened as we sipped our favorite wine and enjoyed one more sunset before returning to our Long Island home. By the way, if you like your signs in sets of three, this story won’t disappoint. The current title of my novel happens to be One More Sunset.

Some say there is no such thing as coincidence, while others say signs are only a person’s wishful thinking, attaching meaning to a random event. What do you think?

A Bonus:

I hate cold weather, but these photos of frozen bubbles are utterly breathtaking.

http://kellyimagesandphotography.webs.com/

The Scariest Moment

“The scariest moment is just before you begin.”       Stephen King

Which direction for you?

Which direction will you choose?

This quote is true for people like me, people leery of the unknown. I tend to frequent the same stores and restaurants, eat the same dozen or so meals, and follow the same daily routine. I even visit the same vacation spot and stay at the same great little B&B each year.

There’s something to be said for comfort.

But there may come a time when you realize you need to push yourself—to grow, to change, to improve your life. What do you want to accomplish more than anything else? What are you doing to reach that goal? Have you surrounded yourself with like-minded, supportive, or inspirational influences?

A new year is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive change in your world—big or small. Embrace change for the better by making the most of each moment.

Happy New Year 2014!

Key West Wonders

Boating through the backcountry

Boating the backcountry

I treasure many moments from our recent getaway to the Conch Republic, including a kayaking tour, a romantic sunset dinner at the famous Latitudes Restaurant, and to my honey’s delight, an early morning fishing excursion.

Sunny Key West Morning

Sunny Key West Morning

I’m not exactly a morning person. Okay, I’m most definitely not, and vacation is the perfect excuse to savor a lazy wake up. But we had so much fun fishing with Captain Ron a few years back on our first Key West charter that I agreed to do it all over again. This time out, I promised myself I would remember how to cast a line and I was determined to bait my own hook and learn how to handle any fish I caught.

Sailboat neighbors

Sailboat neighbors

You see these sailboats floating around on the gulf side of Key West? People live on these vessels, some full-time in the harbor and others staying anywhere from a week to a month before moving on. Imagine how much thinking, writing, or reading you could accomplish without all the distractions. I wonder…

Jack and Me

Jack and Me

I loved every part of the experience, from watching the sun rise as our skiff motored through the channels to the backcountry fishing spots to learning about the different baits, lures and eating fish, to catching  our lunch and releasing my first-ever fighting fish–a beautiful jack.

The competition

The competition — a brown pelican

For four beautiful hours we were part of nature, the warm sun at our backs, the waves lapping against the skiff, and exotic birds landing near us as we waited patiently for a tug on our lines.

An egret

A Great White Egret

I hope to travel to the southernmost city in America again one day soon. The waters are calling me. I’ve added Pilates to my routine in preparation for our next adventure–paddle boarding.

Our Catch -- feed us and guests at Turtle Kraals

The catch we shared with fellow guests at Turtle Kraals

What’s one of your favorite memories from 2013?

Hemingway and Gellhorn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErnest Hemingway. You’ve likely heard of him. Martha Gellhorn? Likely not, unless you tuned into HBO’s 2012 movie about the late macho writer and his third wife. I haven’t paid for premium channels since I began writing seriously three years ago, so I was unaware of this little gem. Rylie and I happened to be browsing the DVDs in our public library when she came across it and said, “Hey Mom, this one looks like one you’d want to watch.” She was right.

Summary:

The movie starts out in Key West. Martha Gellhorn meets Hemingway at the famous Sloppy Joe’s bar and sparks fly between the two, despite the fact he’s married with children. Papa follows the intriguing war correspondent overseas to the Spanish Civil War and their romance explodes full-force.

The Original Sloppy Joe's

The Original Sloppy Joe’s

They eventually return to the states, his wife learns of his infidelity and refuses him a divorce. Hemingway dedicates For Whom the Bell Tolls to his Marty and leaves for Cuba with her. He ultimately wins his divorce and promptly asks Gellhorn (living with him) to become his third wife. She agrees. Always the roving reporter, she begs him to accompany her to China.

Hem reluctantly agrees. The film alludes to her interest in other men during their travels. Upon their return to Cuba, she is bored with the domestic life and he drinks more heavily, lazing the days away on a boat with his friends. They fight. He hits her, tells her he has taken her Colliers job as war correspondent, and basically destroys the love she felt for him in one fell swoop.

Marty refuses to sit by while Hemingway gets the first-hand account of the war, managing to gain access to a Navy ship floating hospital disguised as a nurse. Hemingway meets another woman (who later becomes his fourth and final wife) and Gellhorn divorces him. Fast-forward to the final events of his life and a glimpse at Gellhorn’s subsequent attitude toward her days as Mrs. Hemingway.

Favorite Quotes:

Hemingway to Gellhorn on writing well…

“The whole trick is learning how people talk. Most people don’t listen.”

Hemingway to Gellhorn on war…

“There are a lot of bargains to be had in time of war if you don’t mind wearing the clothes of the dead.”

Gellhorn’s reflecting about her marriage to Hemingway…

“When there wasn’t a war going on, we managed to create our own.”

“I don’t want to be a footnote in someone else’s life.”

Bravo:

Fiery on-screen chemistry between Nicole Kidman as Martha “Marty” Gellhorn and Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway. Their first love scene is one I won’t soon forget and a reason I’d watch the movie again.

Objective presentation of both figures, allowing the viewer to make her own conclusions about them.

Quick pacing throughout the first three-quarters of the film.

If I were the movie producer:

I would have delved a bit deeper into some of the secondary characters’ connections to Hemingway and Gellhorn’s relationship.

I would have included more details about Hemingway’s writing habits.

I would have ended the film in Cuba while Hem and Marty were still madly in love. Yes, we can guess (if we didn’t already know) that this couple didn’t get their happily-ever-after. The final quarter of the movie was sad and slow for me as it showed the inevitable unraveling of Hemingway and Gellhorn’s relationship and even worse, Papa’s difficult, final years.

For the curious:

Article and photo from the Hemingway-Gellhorn Wedding

Jerome Tuccille wrote the book, Hemingway and Gellhorn (2011).

Martha Gellhorn wrote a memoir, Travels with Myself and Another, that details many of the events touched upon in the movie. The “another” of course, refers to Hemingway.

Boston Globe Review of HBO’s Hemingway and Gellhorn  (I read this article after writing mine. I think it’s interesting how the two leads are so similar.)

Has any movie caught your attention recently?

Casa Antigua - Hemingway's First Home in Key West

Casa Antigua – Hemingway’s First Home in Key West

Giving Thanks 2013

Today in the United States we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving, begun in 1621 at Plimouth Plantation. The Pilgrims celebrated a successful harvest with their Native American friends, the Wampanoags, for three joyous days.

In addition to the traditional blessings, I am especially thankful for these three:

DSCN7956My honey is in complete remission from prostate cancer, his blood counts back to normal for a man his age. He hardly broke stride this past year, and I pray his good health and attitude continues.

My readers, followers, and friends through social media are a treasure I could never have anticipated when I began this journey toward publishing three-and-a-half years ago. I have learned from you, laughed and cried with you, but most of all, have welcomed into my heart your wonderful friendships from around the world. Thank you all. You are dear to me. I wish I had endless time to respond to every post, Facebook Update, and Tweet I read of yours. Please know how important you are to me and how your being there has impacted my life. I only hope I have brightened your life half as much as you have brightened mine!

Row your little boat. You'll get there!

Row your little boat. You’ll get there!

Finally, thanks to all of you who encourage me to keep writing, to keep querying. I recently received an offer of contract from Entangled Publishing to make my romantic suspense/magical novel part of their Ignite line of ebooks. I promise to share all the incredible details as soon as I can!

Hugging Couple outside Key West Museum

Hugging Couple outside Key West Museum

In the meantime, I appreciate my family’s support as I clickety-click on the keyboard of my laptop, gaze into space while I imagine instead of clean, and work out story elements at the dinner table, on car rides, and–okay–pretty much everywhere they will allow. I realize how lucky I am they believe in me and my dreams.

And for you all, a big virtual hug.

Enjoy the moments!

Key West Sunset 2013

Key West Sunset 2013

Sunset Key and Latitudes

DSCN7912Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and are a newcomer to my little island life inspired blog, sign up for your free, weekly escape. (Look to your right.) It will sail to your inbox on Mondays, more or less, depending on life’s currents and my novel writing schedule. Thanks for visiting.

The History of Sunset Key

During the 19th century, sediment from repeated Navy dredging projects in Key West’s Harbor was deposited a few hundred yards off the northwestern corner of the island. One of the resulting new islands was designated a fueling station and named Tank Island.

In 1986, the US government sold the 27-acre Tank Island to a developer. Westin Resorts built an exclusive resort on the northwestern quadrant and the island became known (at least to tourists) as Sunset Key. Exclusive vacation properties, owned by celebrities and wealthy business owners such as Oprah Winfrey, span the other three-quarters.

A Sunset Key Property

A Sunset Key Property

Latitudes

Latitudes is the renowned Westin resort restaurant on Sunset Key. I mentioned this restaurant in a previous blog post about romantic dining options in Key West. If you’re interested in planning a romantic sunset dinner at this particular restaurant, I suggest you reserve well in advance. Determine the time of sunset for your selected evening and then book online through Open Table. Take into consideration that the reserve time is when you’re expected to be at the Sunset Key Ferry on the Key West side. There’s a ten-minute ride across the harbor.

The view from ferry of Sunset Key Westin Resort

The view from ferry of Sunset Key Westin Resort

Once you arrive at Sunset Key, you may stop at the outside bar for a drink or enter the restaurant directly for your table. On the evening we dined there, we were given the option of a patio table or inside. The view outside is breathtaking but beware the heat. The inside tables still allow for a beautiful view while providing a cooler, intimate setting. Diners are welcomed (even expected) to leave their tables as the sun makes it descent beneath the watery horizon.

View from an intimate inside table at Latitudes

View from an intimate inside table at Latitudes

Coconut Crusted Grouper

Coconut Crusted Grouper

DSCN7909

Citrus Marinated Salmon

The food at Latitudes is delightfully presented. I chose the seafood cocktail appetizer, the mixed greens salad, and coconut crusted grouper with baby bok choy and black beans. My honey had the lobster bisque and citrus marinated salmon with risotto and grilled asparagus. The service was fine, the wait staff attentive but not intrusive. A couple can enjoy an intimate conversation, a great meal, and an unforgettable sunset. After your meal, transport will be waiting at the end of a short walk to the launch.

We found our meal at Latitudes to be a beautiful start to another romantic evening on our Key West getaway.

DSCN7893

Sunset at Latitudes

DSCN7903

Sailing Past Sunset Key

A View from the Dock

A View from the Dock

Kayaking the Keys

DSCN8176

Downwind EcoTours at Geiger Key, 8 miles east of Old Town KW

Kayaking the Keys

Floating through the Mangroves

Floating through the Mangroves

If you love water and ocean life, you may enjoy kayaking. It’s quiet and laid-back, a perfect change of pace from the Duval Crawl nightlife.

You may opt for the kayak/snorkeling tour leaving from Key West Historic Seaport, which involves taking a motor boat out to The Lakes section of Key West Harbor where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf. Your guide will teach you all about the creatures swimming in the crystal clear waters beneath you, such as the nurse shark, a variety of tropical fish, and the delicate coral reef ecosystem. If you take the last tour of the day, you will have the added excitement of watching the famous sunset as you motor back to the marina.

DSCN8139

Years ago, we enjoyed our kayaking tour. For this getaway, we chose to explore the backcountry. What a great choice! I learned more about the mangrove ecosystem in five minutes from Tortuga Jack of Downwind Tours than in all our years of travel to the Keys.

The Highlights:

Double-Crested Cormorant

Dry and Ready for Flight

The double-crested cormorant isn’t a favorite of local fishermen as this excellent diver and fisher competes for the tastiest meals. Unlike most birds, this one doesn’t have waterproofing oil glands. When the cormorant dives into the water for its meal, its feathers become saturated. That’s why you’ll often see them perching in the sun, drying their feathers. I was excited to snap the shot (above) just as this creature took off.

Cormorant nest in a red mangrove.

Cormorant Nest in a Red Mangrove

DSCN8202

The creature shown here on our kayak paddle is called a Cassiopeia. Like its namesake constellation that’s an upside-down M, this jellyfish floats along the current upside-down in Key West’s shallow waters. They can grow up to ten inches in diameter, but their poison is weak.

DSCN8204

Tortuga Jack with a Horseshoe Crab

Living on Long Island, we are familiar with the horseshoe crab. What I didn’t know was that this ancient creature’s blood contains copper. This made the crab useful in scientific research and as fertilizer in the past.

A Horseshoe Crab

A Horseshoe Crab

Like most Floridian waters, the channel we traversed contains crocodiles. According to our guide, they are “elusive, exclusive, and seclusive.”  We also learned from Tortuga Jack that crocs have ventured as far south as Cuba in recent years, with a population of two thousand and growing,  competing with native species for available food sources.

Paddling the Quiet Channels

Paddling the Quiet Channels

We looked carefully, but those toothy creatures remained hidden. I suppose that was a good thing.

Crossing the channel; Overseas Highway in the distance

Crossing the Channel with the Overseas Highway in the Distance

A Mangrove Maze

A Mangrove Maze

The mangroves’ evolutional goal may be to create land, but the combination of Key West’s two tidal systems along with strong currents prevent the accumulation of soil in many areas. Winding through the tangle of branches, prop roots, and leaves, you realize why drug dealers and other lawbreakers used these waters to evade capture.

Nature meets Civilization

Nature Meets Civilization

As you float back to the starting point, you can imagine life on these waters. As beautiful as they are, the guide is your key to a successful outing. Not only was ours knowledgeable about the science aspect, but the history and literary aspects as well. We were the lucky recipients of an impromptu poem or two.

What special memories have you collected this autumn season?

Five Quotes to Live By

Fun Times at RWA13

Fun Times at RWA13

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

EE Cummings

Living it Up at Disney

Living it Up at Disney

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”  

William Purkey

DSCN6787

“Everything you can imagine is real.”   

Pablo Picasso

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”

Émile Zola

Savor Each Day!

Savor Each Day!

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

100_2472

What quote inspires you?

A Marvelous Mash-Up

Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and are a newcomer to my little island life inspired blog, sign up for your free, weekly escape (Look along the right sidebar.). It will sail to your inbox on Mondays, more or less, depending on life’s currents and my novel writing schedule. Thanks for visiting.

Hey, all! You’re in for a treat today. Rylie snuck away from writing her secondary applications for medical schools to share a photo montage about Venice, Italy. She studied abroad her last semester of undergrad this past spring. If you missed her earlier posts, you’re invited to check out Off to Brunnenburg, Eating Northern Italy Style, Hiking the Italian Alps, Meran, Italy, and Dorf Tirol, Italy. I promise her photos are worth the click.

Venice

Hi! Rylie here. Like Mom said, I’ve been swamped with essays for medical school, but I want to show you the most incredible pictures and memories from this beautiful city. *drum roll* And the highlights are:

  • Traveling by waterbus down the Grand Canal
  • Seeing someone buy a freshly killed shark at the Rialto market
  • Getting gelato from every store near San Marco plaza
  • Waving to gondoliers
  • Finding as many paintings with Jesus in them as we could at the Gallerie dell’Accademia
  • Having – and hating – my first cappuccino
  • Getting lost on the way back from San Marco and unsuccessfully asking the police for directions
  • Almost knocking over a statue at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
  • Going to over 40 stores to find the perfect Murano glass earrings
  • Watching two kittens play-fight in the garden outside our restaurant during dinner
  • Getting a beer glass for free at a pub after asking the bartender if I could buy one
  • Sitting on the Arsenale pier at night to watch the waterbuses finish their route
  • Getting lost in the back alleyways in San Marco
  • Learning that a dead-end in Venice is an alleyway that ends in water

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fiction Fest

Five writer lessons I learned at Connecticut Romance Writers’ recent Fiction Fest:

1. Secondary character subplots must match the story’s main plot theme. (Kristan Higgins)

2. When ridding of that pile of papers on your writer desk, turn it over and start from the bottom. Quickly choose which items can be thrown and which need to be kept. Then file time-sensitive papers by the month, with files for the current month in files from 1-31. Check the following day’s file folder at the end of each workday to prioritize the next day’s to-do list. (Lisa Lelas)

3. Hybrid authors are fast becoming the trend in publishing. (Roxanne St. Claire)

4. Smashwords provides free books on its website for those authors going the indie route. (Jim Azevedo)

5.  Attending writing conferences are worth the time, money, and effort invested. (Jolyse Barnett)

Farewell to Summer

Are you silently mourning the passing of summer, pretending to be Turning Fall Into Spring? Are you nostalgic for the sunny days, reliving Summer Highlights to keep warm on chilly nights?

If you answered yes to these two questions (and even if you didn’t), this photo is for you:

2012-07-20 16.10.23

How have you welcomed the new season?

 

 

Top Five Reasons To Visit Key West

In 2011, 9.6 million tourists visited Key West, contributing $8,200,000,000 to the local economy and creating 102,000 jobs locally. Wow! That’s a lot of dinero. What is it about this little 2×5 mile southernmost island that attracts so many?

KW2011 238

The island’s OTHER wildlife

People from all walks of life visit here, from those who camp at Bluewater Key RV park to those who rent a Westin cottage on Sunset Key. Key West is like Vegas, but with fishing on the high seas instead of high stakes gambling. For some tourists, the highlight of their vacation is the freedom to drink their way from one end of Duval to another. For others, they come for the laidback, casual step away from demands of everyday life.

La Concha Hotel on Duval Street

La Concha Hotel on Duval Street

This island has something to offer almost everyone.

Here are my top five reasons I keep returning to the southernmost island and why I think you should put the Conch Republic on your bucket list–if it isn’t there already!

5.  Incredible Dining:

If you love fresh seafood, this is the island for you. If you don’t, you still will have plenty of five-star restaurant food selections. From the local favorites to the touristy Historic Seaport and Duval establishments, we’ve yet to be disappointed. Foodies will be in heaven here. I can’t wait to report back to you in a few weeks about our upcoming dining experience at Latitudes.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Mashed Potatoes

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Mashed Potatoes

4.  Fantastic Water Sports:

You have your choice of snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayak ecotouring, swimming, scuba diving, flats fishing, deep-sea fishing, sailing, jet skiing and more. My favorite activities are the snorkel/kayaking combo, the flats fishing, and of course, the sunset sail.

Mangroves off Key West

Mangroves off Key West

3.  Awesome People-Watching:

Whether you stroll Duval, soak in the entertainment at one of the many bars or restaurants, lounge at a beach, go shopping, visit a museum, or take a ride on one of the tour trolleys, there will be plenty of opportunities to people-watch. As a writer, I get some of my best character and dialogue ideas from people I’ve observed or chatted with on that tiny, diverse island. Enjoy the variety!

Performer at the Aqua Club

Performer at the Aqua Club

2.  Biking:

Biking the island is so easy and fun and freeing. You are connected to nature, cycling everywhere like when you were a kid. I don’t know about you, but my busy suburban life doesn’t lend itself to leisurely bike ride through quiet side streets to the beach or bars. Just saying.

Lounging at the Beach

Fort Zach Beach is a short bike ride away!

1.  Being Accepted for Who You Are:

I always feel welcomed on the island, not just because my honey and I bring our tourist dollars, but because of who we are. Yeah, it’s a nice feeling. I’ve traveled other places, and nowhere else has quite matched it. I’ve yet to meet a local or tourist that I haven’t enjoyed talking with and learning about. Don’t be surprised if your concierge, taxi driver, or the restaurant wait staff engages you in conversation and shares a little about him or herself too. Key West’s motto, “One Human Family” may strike a chord with you as it has me. There’s a relaxed vibe of “live and let live” and in appreciating, or at least accepting, people’s differences. At the risk of sounding preachy, here’s one of my current favorite songs…

I’d love to hear about your favorite destination. What are your top five reasons for returning there time and again?

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,182 other followers

%d bloggers like this: