Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Birds I am fine with - spiders are an entirely different matter." ~ Tippi Hedren

As a Christmas present to each other, Bruce and I decided that we would get a family membership to the Florida Oceanographic Society, located here in Stuart.

"Florida Oceanographic Society is a non-profit organization founded in 1964 with the mission to inspire environmental stewardship of Florida’s coastal ecosystems through education, research and advocacy. 
Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center is a 57-acre marine life nature center located on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, FL situated between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. As a leading state and nationally recognized environmental organization, Florida Oceanographic offers EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS to people of all ages and conducts RESEARCH and RESTORATION programs that lead to healthy coastal ecosystems.
JOIN US in our mission "to inspire environmental stewardship of Florida's coastal ecosystems through education, research and advocacy” today."

Now that we can visit the center whenever we want, we are able to take advantage of its walking trails, salt-water lagoon, and on-going educational programs.

On a recent trip, it seemed to be "arachnid day"! Spiders are not my favorite thing, but at a distance, they are quite fascinating.

Basilica Orb Weaver 
At least a dozen overhead

Some type of "fly"
Spiny Orb Weaver

Oyster Shell Recycling and Reef Restoration

"Weekly shell collections from local partner restaurants generate nearly 2.5 tons of oyster shell per month. The shells are quarantined and then bagged by staff and volunteers and deployed to create new oyster-shell reefs in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River estuaries. Their progress is monitored using cutting-edge acoustic technology. These efforts help restore important oyster habitat, leading to long-term and significant improvements to the health of our waterways.
To date, Florida Oceanographic Society has restored nearly 60,000 square feet of oyster reefs in the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon. This was made possible by the help of over 2,400 volunteers and over 6,000 volunteer hours."

The 750,000 gallon salt-water lagoon

Along the trail

Common Buckeye
Black Mangrove Roots

Ibis, rooting about in the mangrove for crustaceans.
A wonderful spot to visit and support.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled." ~ Unknown, but I'm loving it!

I am trying to remember if I have posted on my rosemary toffee before, and I just can't recall - so here it goes, even if it's again! (recipe below)

I love toffee - just love it. I started making it myself a few years ago, and after about the first year, I had the inspiration to add chopped rosemary to the recipe rather than nuts and chocolate. I adore rosemary, and the combination just sounded so good to me. I was not disappointed. Each year since, at Christmas (which is when I typically make toffee) I always do a batch or two with rosemary added.

This year, not being in our own home at Christmas, a lot of our usual holiday traditions were set aside till next year.

One of the wonderful things about being in Florida, is that people have rosemary bushes right in their yards - lots of them. I am fortunate to have a knitting friend who happily shares her rosemary with me whenever I ask. 

This past week I was using some for my daily cooking - added to chicken, fish, a light stew. With some left over, I decided that I would do my toffee! It certainly didn't matter that it wasn't Christmas!

I'm not quite sure why I didn't get pics of the final product broken into pieces, but it was delicious! Thanks Pat!

Tracy's Rosemary Toffee
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh rosemary (Or more!)
  • Sea salt to taste (optional)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a silicone liner (I love mine). In a heavy 2-quart saucepan combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cook over med-high heat, stirring constantly with a clean, dry wooden spoon till butter is melted. Continue cooking and stirring for approx. 7-10 min. till candy is a toasty color (be careful to not scorch or overcook). Quickly stir in the chopped rosemary, distributing as evenly as possible. Immediately pour candy onto the cookie sheet. It will begin to set up very quickly. If you want to add sea salt, do this before the top of the toffee hardens up. Let cool and break into pieces. Store in a tightly covered container in cool place or refrigerator. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Challenge yourself in the New Year - I said. Don't always knit within your comfort level - I said. Try lace - I said.

Well, I can tell you that it is like trying to knit dental floss with toothpicks! I worked hard, really and truly, for the better part of a week, trying to get past the 10 or so setup rows. I wrote out charts into row by row instructions. I set aside the one pattern I wanted to try because it began with "Cast on 329 stitches." I put in life-line after life-line each time I started over. It's not that I can't do all the stitches that the patterns called for - I can - most of them in my sleep! I have concluded that the sheer size of the needles and the yarn are what sits between me and success. A deadly combination!

By the time I finally admitted defeat, my eyes hurt, my hands hurt, my shoulders hurt - if only it could all be counted as an honest workout!

So, fine lace knitting is now set aside. I will probably try to give it another go at some point in time, but not for a bit.

You don't have to be a knitter to understand the frustration of failing at something that you anticipated you would be able to do. Onward, to a project that will be new, but not quite as challenging!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"Home is the nicest word there is." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

As you can tell by the photos, we are no longer in the snowy northeast. The day after Christmas, we began our trip south, with a few stops along the way. In the process, I decided to skip last week's post - first time in nearly 5 1/2 years! Anyhow, we are now at our Florida condo, and so glad to be "home".

I can't tell you how happy I am to close the door on 2016, for many reasons. But - one of the ongoing ones is the fact that we have not had a permanent home. Our Florida condo is fabulous, and we are so fortunate to be able to have it, but it is not "home base". When we sold our longtime home in Central New York last May, we never imagined that we would be this long without another home to call ours. Due to a number of factors, plans fell through and we found ourselves renting and staying with friends while deciding what to do.

Happily, that journey has come to an end! Week before last, Bruce and I closed on one half of a duplex in Tully, New York, about 15 minutes north from where we have lived for many years. We had had so many "almosts" that I held my breath until every "i" was dotted, and every "t" was crossed. We are so happy to put this behind us.

Since the previous owners do not want to move in the winter, we will be landlords until the first of May. I wish that we were already in and settled, but I guess that if we have waited this long, and have a place to live, it's all good. By the time we move in, our possessions will have been in storage for exactly a year. I will be happy to un-box things, and sort through once again. 

So - here's to new beginnings and the hope that 2017 is kinder to us all.  Happy New Year!