Saturday, March 31, 2012

Florida Keys- Day 4

Today we went to Key West, which is about an hours drive from where we are staying in Marathon.  We thought we would spend the day shopping, drinking, eating... the typical low key style famous for this area.

On our way there we ran into a traffic jam which involved a helicopter landing on the bridge.  We aren't sure of the exact situation but we think there had to be an air lift of someone on a boat under the bridge here.  I just hope whatever happened that everyone is okay.

It was very hot today.  A muggy 85, which had us sweating pretty much all day.  But the quick stops at local bars for a drink or two helped cool us down.  We even stopped at this bar where clothing was an option!  Of course, we kept fully clothed, but we saw quite the packages on two heavy set men with what seemed to be a very even tan.  I don't know if I could be naked like that in front of complete strangers.  But to each their own!

 As for shopping, I didn't find much.  It was more touristy stuff with ugly t-shirts and stuff that was made in china.  I really wanted something local and I finally found it!

Isn't it beautiful!  It was made by a beautiful woman with dreads which makes it that much better :)

For dinner we ate at a Cuban restaurant, El Meson De Pepe.  It was delicious!  It was really the best meal I've had this whole trip so far. 

We than went to the ocean front to get a view of the sunset.  This is what we got:

Ugh!  Can we not get a good sunset?? Just once??
And of course we had dessert.  Tonight it was chocolate dipped key lime pie.  Mighty yummy if I do say so myself :)  Also notice my other purchase of the day.  A ring made out of a coconut!  I love it.

And after tonight, I have officially been to the southernmost point in the continental USA.

Tomorrow looks like we might be kayaking the ocean.  I'm so excited!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Florida Keys- Day 3

Today I puked... a lot.  That pretty much sums up my whole day.  What started off on a good start with a very yummy veggie and egg beater omelet at the Stuffed Pig here in Marathon, quickly turned for the worse.  We all decided that today would be a good day to go on a charter fishing trip.  My brother was pretty fond of the idea of catching some fish and surprisingly I was kind of interested in it too.  So this afternoon we packed onto the boat like a bunch of sardines and off we went.  I knew 10 minutes in that I was in trouble.  Big waves + me = catastrophe.  It was a 4 hour trip and only an hour in I was puking my brains out.  Of course they won't let you puke in the bathroom.  I think they like to watch you humiliate yourself in front of complete strangers as you hang your head over the side of the boat spewing breakfast chunks onto everyone else's fishing line as well as the side of the boat.  It was not my prettiest moment in life as strings of stomach bile hung from my face and blew in the wind.  Did I make you puke yet with all this nasty detail??

My brother and his girlfriend didn't have the grandest time either.  They were hoping for a successful fishing day but instead caught this:


A shark whom we promptly put back into the ocean!

And this tiny little dude.  We put him back into the ocean too.
After what seemed like forever to me, the 4 hours came to an end and we were safely back on land.   We were extremely disappointed in our fish charter experience, but oh well.  We can't win them all.  After getting off the boat we went over and fed the "pet" Tarpon.  They were huge and scary.

Amanda laughing at my scared ass while that fish tried to eat my hand off.
This pelican also tried to kill me.  And by kill I mean he took 2 steps toward me and I ran away like a baby.
We than went to eat dinner at this place called the Island Fish Company.  It was very unsatisfactory with mediocre food and the worst service I have ever had.  Good thing we had these drinks to swallow our tongues from expressing our disgust.  The money we left for our bill/tip said plenty as to how dissatisfied we were. 

Luckily, our night actually ended on a good note when we went to Sparky's Landing and had a ginormous slice of key lime pie.  The one man band, or as Ryan described him, "Ned Flanders with a guitar" helped make it a good night too. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Florida Keys- Day 2

Today was a very low key day.  We went to the beach, swam in the ocean (!!!! It was awesome, btw), ate some food, drank some beer, listened to live music... I'm almost too tired to even go into detail of my whole day.  BUT I do have pictures! :)

The beach at Bahia Honda State Park... There was a bit of a seaweed problem, but not enough to ruin my day.

Apparently suntanning means laying out with a hat over your face and t-shirt on.

My E.T. toes and the beach.

Bought a sunhat.

We had drinks at The Wreck & Galley Grill.

Ryan kind of looks like Malcolm X in this picture... may just be the beer goggles though too.

Isn't she pretty?

Sunset #2... still blocked by clouds.  Third times the charm?

We saw a live band that was okay, but we stuck around for a guy named Art to give us a private concert instead.

The gang with Art.  It may be his beard, fanny pack, or old man ways, but I think I'm in love.  He reminds me of Andy when he turns 60.
Day 2 was a success.  Especially since we ended it with some more key lime pie.  Ryan had to one up me and get it fried, but I still think mine was better.  Tomorrow looks to be more sunny skies.  We are thinking about renting some kayaks.  We'll see where the day takes us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Florida Keys- Day 1

I will be spending the next week in the Florida Keys and day 1 did not disappoint.  I already want to come back next year.  Heck, I may go back, pick up Andy and Finley, and return here for good.  

We are staying at a very inexpensive place called the Pelican Motel.  It is quite nice.  Being recently renovated, the rooms are clean and updated.  The bathroom is less than to be desired and according to Amanda, the shower is more of a trickle.  The sink has more water pressure than the shower, so that should be interesting.  But personally, the motel room is the least of concerns.  I'm here to sleep and that's it.  Luxury is not needed to keep this girl happy.

First here is the view from the stretch of beach they have at this motel... isn't it lovely?

Here is the "pelican" by our motel room.  So cute.

Here is a real pelicans at the beach.

We than went and decided to eat at Herbie's which Ryan raved about.  Sometimes the "dives" are the greatest places to eat, and this was no exception.

I was completely naughty and I ate... fish!  (please don't judge or hate me!)  I haven't eaten meat in almost two years and this was a really really hard decision to make.  I almost didn't do it and was going to order the grilled cheese, but the fish is local, the fish is fresh, and seriously the fish was delicious.  I'm dealing with a bit of guilt right now about eating something that was once alive, but hopefully that will past.  But fish is where I draw the line.  You will NOT  be seeing me shoving a big ol' burger in my mouth anytime soon. 

Tonight the fish was Mahi Mahi.  It was a little overkill with the lemon butter, but it was still yummy.

And I couldn't come to the Florida Keys and not try some Key Lime Pie. 

This was amazing.  Too bad I was so overly full from the fish to fully enjoy it.  Also, I like to keep it classy by pairing the pie with some good ol' Michelob Ultra.  That's just how I roll.  My brother, Ryan, had the rum bananas and he loved them.  I honestly thought he was going to lick the plate.

After feeling like we were all going to puke from eating so much, we took a walk to the beach to enjoy the sunset.  Unfortunately, Day 1's sunset was not very impressive (too many clouds at the horizon). 

Ryan and Amanda are asleep now, weary from their travels and I'm about to hit the hay too.  We don't have specific plans for tomorrow, but I'm hoping I'll get to take a dip in the ocean for a bit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Is In The Air

Yesterday was the first day of spring and it was quite noticeable indeed.  Typically in Wisconsin this time of year we are still getting snowstorms and 30 degree temps, but this year is proving to be beyond different.  80 degree temperatures, sunshine and the shade of green finally returning has been more than refreshing.  The grass is green, the winter coats have been put back in the closets and the days have been spent 70% outdoors... it can't get any better!

Unfortunately, Spring also brought something else this year.... the terrible terrible two's.  Finley has hit a whole new level of terrible-ness.  I'm a very patient person with her, but this past week has been just awful.  But of course Finley can find it in herself to look completely innocent and adorable for a photo.

I Love Sunny Days!

Other than Finley, here is how spring is appearing around every corner of my home:

Seed starting is going on inside (Broccoli, Cabbage, and Onions)

Strawberries have come out of hibernation.

A baby rhubarb sprout!  We thought they were dead after a poor performance last year.

Garlic and Onion growing in the front after planting them last fall!

I majorly cut back my raspberries this year and they have taken off full force.  I'm thinking these raspberries are going to be delicious!

Blueberry buds... Finley is in for a real treat this year.
Isn't it all so beautiful?  To have all this happen in March is truly amazing.  The life in our plants have given me much needed fuel for my soul.  I am so excited!  Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patricks Day

St. Patrick's Day in an Irish family is A LOT different than in any other family.  I married into the Irish and the Irish side of Andy's family is simply the best.  They are so fun, energetic and passionate.  This year the Daly family called all Daly's to walk in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Madison yesterday... a whole 9 people showed up :)  But those 9 people are the greatest 9 people I know!  We had a lot of fun yesterday and I believe it was my first time to ever walk in a parade.

We left in the morning to meet everyone down there and get dressed up for the parade.  I am definitely not one to dress up for St. Patricks Day- I usually don't even wear anything green- but with everyone else doing it, I joined in on the fun.

My Father-in-law (he soon added an orange wig).

Andy as a leprechaun.  He speaks fluent blarney.

I think I rocked the tats and shamrock glasses.
Soon we headed down to the square and prepared to walk the parade. 

I was quite confused by the parade.  Can't you see the confusion on my face in the above picture??  All around us were tons of political groups and protester groups.  And behind us... a Guatemalan dance group... huh??  I thought this was a parade to celebrate the Irish?  oh well, I soon learned the real reason for this parade.

 But first a picture of Finley being a good girl and taking all the action in.

Now for the real reason for this parade:  so a whole bunch of greedy, rude, poorly mannered children (and parents) can fill their old Halloween trick-or-treat bags with candy and beads.  They will push, hit, and beg (with no "please" or "thank you's" mind you) and steal candy from tiny unsuspecting ones setting them up in life to be defensive and be exactly like them.  Oh, it was awful.  These kids couldn't even stay on the sidewalk.  Luckily, I ran out of beads and candy and I didn't have to submit to their bad behavior.  The beads and candy I did hand out were to the sweet children standing nicely and patiently even though every kid surrounding them were quite the opposite.  Perhaps all parades are like this?  I have a feeling they are.

After the parade and sweating my ass off (it was 80... in march... in Wisconsin... crazy right??) we headed over to Andy's Aunts house and ate entirely too much food while Finley destroyed the home with the other children by exploring every toy in every corner and crevice of their home.  Her favorites were the Polly Pockets and the old Heman figurines that haven't seen a child's hand since I'm sure the 1980s.

I ate cheese, more cheese, potato soup, vegan Shepard's pie, grasshopper pie, cookies, and I drank beer.  I was NOT on my best behavior yesterday in regards to eating healthy.  But it was St. Patrick's Day with a bunch of Irish folk... it couldn't be avoided. 

My only regrets to the day?  One- I didn't throw my beads as hard as I could at all those naughty children's faces.  Two- I didn't drink nearly enough beer.  And Three- The tattoos on my arm weren't real and were left behind with those killer shamrock glasses.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ewwwwww! Worms!

"Ewwww! Worms!"  That has pretty much been the response we got when we told people we were building a worm bin this weekend.  What is a worm bin you ask?  Well, Its a "house" for worms where they will be making compost from your kitchen scraps.  It is contained so it makes it convenient to have it indoors so that in the winter months (half of the year here in Wisconsin) I don't have to walk in 2 feet of snow and try to bury my kitchen scraps in our big compost bin outside.  So, yes, these worms will be living in my basement and I love it!  I'm far from grossed out.  In fact, I'm totally excited to have these little buggers eat my banana peel or onion skin.  It's a very easy (and cheap!) project and in a couple months you could have some seriously good compost.

How to build a worm bin:

You will need two plastic totes (12 gallons or more).  Mine are two 18 gallon totes that I had on hand.  Just make sure they are not clear or see through.

Next you will need to drill about 20-25 evenly spaced holes in the bottom of each tote with a 1/4" drill bit.  As you can see my holes are not very evenly spaced.  I think I had too much caffeine in my tea that day because my markings for Andy to drill were just plain awful.  He really should have fired me from the job.

Next, with a 1/16" drill bit, you will need to drill two rows of holes all the way around the top portion of the totes and on ONE of the lids.  They should be spaced about 1" to 1 1/2" apart.  My markings continued to be sub par.

 After all the holes are drilled you will need to gather shredded newspaper or even that shredded junk mail and get it wet.  Wring out any excess water so that the paper is just moist and fluff it in the bottom of one of the totes (about 2-4 inches deep).  Throw in a couple handfuls of dirt and some kitchen scraps, but be sure to bury it into the newspaper to avoid fruit flies. 

The best part?  Adding some worms (beneath some of the newspaper).  You will want to use red worms.  We got ours from a bait shop.  $3.00 for about 30 of them.  We got 60 worms because now that it is starting to warm up we will be using our outdoor compost bin more.  And we can just throw in a small amount of scraps into the worm bin for now.  It is said that a few female worms can produce 1000 baby worms in just a couple months, so we will hopefully have an abundance come fall.  If you want to get free worms instead, just wet a piece of cardboard and leave it outside for a couple days and gather the worms that gathered there. 

Wet a piece of cardboard and place it on top of the newspaper/dirt/worm mixture and put on the lid on.  Sit the tote on top of two brick sitting on top of the other lid.  This is so any liquid can drain out (this is compost tea) and be caught in the lid.  The compost tea is a GREAT fertilizer for your garden.

When the compost is ready to be used.  Set up the same scenario in the other tote with the exception of adding worms.  Then place the composted bin into the newly set up tote.  It will look like this:

In a month or so all the worms should have traveled from the first bin to the second one via the holes in the bottom.  Than you can than use that lovely compost from the first tote for whatever you desire! 

-Don't add too many scraps.  Before adding new kitchen scraps make sure all the old scraps have been composted. 
-Make sure the newspaper is moist.  But you don't want it too dry or too wet.

Obviously, Andy and I didn't just learn how to do this out of our... yeah.  So check out this source because it was beyond helpful!