Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

My friend Connie asked me if I wanted to join her on a kayaking adventure to Three Sisters Springs on Sunday along with her BFF Susie from Colorado and Susie’s daughter Mary Scott from California. 

YES!

There’s not a lot better then a day in Florida in October.  The only way to make it better is to spend that day on the water!

YES!

I lost my waterproof camera over a year ago while kayaking the Weeki Wachee.  I was very sad.  I’ve been planning on getting another one and did a bunch of research and picked up a Fujifilm XP70 on Saturday at Target.  I didn’t have much time to read the manual–I had it just long enough to charge up the battery and stick the SD card in.

And here’s some pics!  Very happy with my new little camera!

Mary Scott

This is Mary Scott. Second time kayaking, first time on the Crystal River and has never seen a manatee! So you know what she’s looking for!

The manatees come to the numerous springs for the warm water in the winter.  Most of them are still out in the Gulf but will headed back as soon as the weather starts cooling down.  But there are usually a few hanging out in the local waterways.  

Bridge

Here’s the bridge that we go under to get to the Springs.

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Connie’s our fearless leader and guides us through the barriers that keep the big boats out of the Springs.

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Very cool roots. I seem to take a lot of pictures of roots. And bridges.

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

So beautiful!

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Crystal clear water.

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Can see the sandy bottom plus all the little fish.

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Here’s Connie and Susie just chillin’.

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

That’s the Three Sisters Springs National Wildlife Refuge. You can see the boardwalk.

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Here’s a group shot of all of us. Yep, that’s my toes!

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

We’re headed out of the Springs area when a boat captain points out a manatee! Mary Scott is the first one to catch a glimpse. Incidentally, that guy in the water is from Russia and is filming the manatees for a movie!

There were several boats any many kayaks in the area but not too bad for a Sunday afternoon.  But as soon as someone spots a manatee—-

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Suddenly a crowd!

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Not just one manatee! Mama and baby!

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

Makes that new camera so worth it!

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

How about that for a spectacular view? Blue has always been my favorite color!

And one last pic just for grins….

Kayaking Three Sisters Springs

A Sail Canoe!

I want to remind everyone that Saturday is open house at the Three Sisters Springs.  You can catch a shuttle at Kings Bay Plaza on US 19 in Crystal River.  Paula Bateman, my friend from the acoustic meetup group, is performing plus there will be mermaids!  And Saturday will be another beautiful October day in Florida.

Out and About. PJ’s Auto World in Clearwater

So where were you Saturday morning in this perfect “top down” weather?

We were at PJs Auto World in Clearwater.

PJ's Auto World

Hanging with Mr. Wayne

Mr. Wayneand Elwood and Jake Blues.

The Blues BrothersWe went south to Clearwater with the Citrus County Corvette and Camaro Club.  Just checking out the available inventory…

Old CarAlien mobile

Out and About. PJ's Auto World in Clearwater

Would have bought this one but it was the wrong color–“All Corvettes are Red”! But I really liked that stingray!

Out and About. PJ's Auto World in Clearwater

And in case there just wasn’t enough inventory at this PJs. There was another one a couple of miles away!

Out and About. PJ's Auto World in Clearwater

Lots of cars to choose from, but we’re sticking with our little red Camaro! (for now!)

 

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise!

Okay.  Perhaps I’m only the healthy part of the above subject line.  

Still dieting.  Which hasn’t been easy since we did go out to dinner for our anniversary to the Rusty Duck.  

Ever been there? We hadn’t either but let me tell you all about it!

It’s in Lecanto on 44 on the way to Inverness.  Looks like an abandoned house complete with landscaping gone wild and ivy growing over the roof.  And every time we drive by I just think “and that’s supposed to be an excellent restaurant?”  The place is only open for dinner and there are two seatings. And it was slammed.  We got there just in time for our reservation and had to wait a half hour for our table. It’s BYOB which keeps the wine costs down although there is a corkage fee plus a charge for using their wine chiller. The food was excellent and priced between $25 – $30 which is about right for a nice dinner. But the ambiance sucked.  It was my anniversary!  I wanted candles! Linen tablecloths! My fellow diners dressed nicely! Ingratiating servers!  All I got was excellent food.  And a lot of it. Seriously, we had enough for the next night. And I plan on going back but I’ll be in jeans and wearing some flip flops. (and possibly some kind of a shirt) I totally recommend it for dinner–just not a special one.

And I still lost 1 lb.  Yippee!

But other than the anniversary dinner and its leftovers,  I really counted the calories.  And I’m sticking with my fitness program.  Walking, lifting weights, yoga.  A combination of those every morning.  Or maybe five mornings out of seven.  

i'm looking good!

i’m looking good!

How boring is this?  Only 5 more pounds to go and I’ll quit giving you the details of my dieting dilemmas.  But have to warn you that could be another 5 weeks since I intend to lose 1 pound a week here on out.

So let’s talk about the weekend.  I can’t find anything special to do in the area this weekend but next Saturday has a LOT going on.  First, the open house at Three Sisters Springs. Then that evening from 5 – 9 is a beer festival in Crystal River at Burkes of Ireland.  So excited to add that Darin and Kathryn are coming to visit so guess where they’re going? Just want to say that they are both nature and beer lovers so it won’t take much to get them to join us for the festivities.  

And the following weekend, besides being Halloween, is the Blues and BBQ on Saturday.  I didn’t find anything on the Internet but did see at sign at MacRae’s so I know it’s on.  And then Sunday Lauri, Riley, Piper and Adley are coming to visit for a week!  Oh yeah, I’ll be putting up more pics of the grandkids. And you know that you are going to love it!  

Cool Corporate Cats, the 18th Annual Blues and BBQ festival in Old Homosassa

2013 Blues and BBQ, Cool Corporate Cats

Then there’s the Old Homosassa Seafood and Crafts Festival on the 7th and 8th.

Crab Cakes at the 2013 Homosassa Seafood, Art, and Crafts Festival

Oh yeah, Crab Cakes at the 2013 fest

 And the inaugural Giant Garage Sale event that’s taking place from the intersection south of Sugarmill Woods all the way to Crystal River Mall.  Lots of controversy about the garage sale because it’s taking place the same weekend as the Seafood Fest.  Traditionally here in Citrus County, two big events are never scheduled the same weekend.   Trouble.  We got trouble here in River City.  And that weekend we have Jes and Andrew here! Coincidence? I think not!

Have a great weekend!

DIY Boxed Corners

I just finished the shopping tote I was making for my daughter-in-law to sell at her Fall Festival that I mentioned last week.  Which means I didn’t have time to write up a tutorial explaining the size or those pockets or any of the fun stuff I added.  

But here it is….

Shopping Tote, DIY boxed corners, #madewithfabric

Yeah, you’ve seen that fabric before.  And I still have enough for a couple more bags.  I wasn’t planning on using this fabric but I messed up the first tote I made and didn’t want to go to the local fabric store and get more.  “Local” for me is a 35 minute drive.  Add the return trip and the hour I spend browsing–half a day is gone!  And I had a deadline–which, by the way was Saturday and I missed it!  I’ll be making a drive to Tampa to deliver the bag today.  

The outside of the bag has two water bottle pockets and a toggle with button for closure.  I used three fabrics–two coordinating from Premier Prints that I got from Fabric.com and a dark blue denim–plus muslin to line the pockets. 

Here’s the inside of the totel  There’s a key snap, phone pockets and a big pocket for your iPad.  I actually made the phone pockets bigger than usual since I saw the iPhone 6 and that sucker is huge!

Inside of toteWhile I’m not doing the tutorial for the bag, I thought I might explain “boxed corners”. 

Know what that is?  Boxed corners make the bottom of the bag nice and square. Well, square probably isn’t the right word since this is a rectangle but you probably get the idea.

Tote

The bottom is called a boxed corner. Because it’s nice and square. This is the exterior of the bag on the left and the interior on the right before I fit them together.

I used to do a different method and when I first stumbled across “boxed corners” on some anonymous blog, I found it a wee bit confusing.  So I practiced and checked out a lot of different blogs and now it’s really easy-peasy.  And they are very useful for totes, baskets, and even cushions.

So here’s the quick and easy and hopefully not as confusing explanation…..

I have a big rectangle lined with fleece, 41″ x 17″, I brought the two 17″ ends together and using 1/2″ seams sewed the one side and bottom. So now it’s 20″ wide by 17″ tall.

Lining

Inside out, of course. The bottom and side are already stitched, trimmed and finished.

Now it’s time to box the corners.  I’m doing the corner that’s in the upper right of the above picture.  Pick up the fabric and kind of tug that corner apart.  Put the side seam on top of the bottom seam.

corner

I stick a pin in it to make sure I have the top seam lined with the side seam.

The “box” I am making is 8″ wide.  So I measure down four inches (half of the 8″ box) from the tip and then measure from side to side.  Should be 8″.  Make sure that the seams are lined up exactly–very important.  After I do the pinning I peek inside the box to make sure the seams are actually lined up.  

Corner

Mark the sewing line.

Marked line

And sew on the line.  I usually sew it twice for extra durability. 

Then cut that point off.  I zig zag the raw edge.

CornerDo the same for the other side.  And that’s it!

This is the entire bottom of the bag.

This is the entire bottom of the bag before I cut off the second corner.  Seems like a big waste of fabric, doesn’t it?

Here’s another look at the shopping tote I made.

Tote

Cute!

 And eventually in one of these posts, I’ll let you know exactly how to figure out all the dimensions you need to calculate to get the exact size that you want your tote to be.  Do you remember when you told your Algebra teacher that you will never use those formulas in real life?  Well, this is an equation that I figured out and it works for all sizes of totes, boxes, and baskets.  And I’m going to add that Algebra was one of my favorite subjects. Seriously.

More to come!

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Spicy Pasta Sauce

Summer means tomatoes, and even though summers gone. Here, in FL we grow tomatoes – beautiful Ruskin reds that are fantastic. Problem is, you can’t buy them in a grocery store. Yes, that’s right. We have, available for purchase, pre-packaged Tennessee, or Canadian, or Mexican tomatoes. Really? Or the ones that look good, but have whitish flesh that tastes slightly better than cardboard. Then there are the plum tomatoes, that used to be the best tasting, until the stores found out we liked them and started selling them nearly green. That’s ok, I know where those yummy tomatoes went – the farmers market. Oh, yeah. I can’t resist a $3.00 basket of the lovelies. And yes, at times even they’re from somewhere else. Usually they’re the ones with a blemish or two, and that need to be eaten now,…that’s good because I want to eat them,…NOW.

So, I found myself with an overload of that summer goodness…I can’t eat them all in salads! I do love a tomato sandwich, I will confess. I also remember a sauce that my favorite Italian restaurant used to make. It was a spicy marinara, that I’d ask for a little extra and take home. It was so good – Fresh tasting. I’d chill it and use it as a salad dressing. Well, that restaurant was sold and the new owners promptly ran it into the ground. *sigh* But wait – I have plenty of ‘matoes to do it myself. Although, sauce (aka; Sundaygravy) takes days to makes, doesn’t it? After spotting a recipe on the Food & Wine site, by Grace Parisi (why doesn’t she have her own cookbook!?), I knew it could be done – and soooo easy ! 

Come on – I’ll show you.

Spicy Pasta Sauce Step 1

Step 1:

Gather up those tomatoes, about 2 #.

1/2 cup Sweet Onion, sliced thin (Vidailia’s are good, but I had a sweet red one)

3 Tbl Good Olive Oil

2 Garlic cloves, large ones, sliced thin

1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

Salt to taste

1 Tbl Fresh Basil, minced

Spicy Pasta Sauce Step 2

Step 2:

Peel the tomatoes. Yes, peel them – there’s trick to this. Very old, and very simple. Since I have newbie cooks reading, I’ll show you…

Get some water boiling. Cut an X at the bottom of each tomato.

Spicy Pasta Sauce, STep 3

Step 3:

Get the fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit) into the boiling water. Get another bowl of water set out with ice in it (an ice water bath). 

Spicy Pasta Sauce Step 4

Step 4:

After about 30 seconds – a minute, scoop them out of the boiling cauldron and get them into the ice water bath. This stops the cooking process and loosens the skin. 

Yes, you can save the boiling water for the pasta to follow. (waste not!)

Spicy Pasta Sauce, Step 5

Step 5:

Now, slip the tomatoes out of their jackets and cut them into quarters. Using another bowl, and the strainer, push out the seeds into the strainer and coarsely chop the flesh.

Spicy Pasta Sauce, Step 5a

Step 5a:

Use a spoon to push all the juice through the stainer and toss those seeds.

Step 6

Step 6:

Slice those onions and mince that garlic. For my newbie cooks, note how far back on the knife this garlic is. Garlic is tiny and so strong it’s always cut up small. You’ll have more control, and be in need of less band-aids, if you choke up on the knife and use the hilt (handle) area.

Spicy Pasta Sauce, STep 7

Step 7:

Saute the onions, crushed red pepper flakes a bit then add the garlic. OMG – can you smell that?!

 

Step 8:

Toss in the tomatoes and simmer for maybe 20 minutes, add the salt to taste (keep it light). Add the basil last to keep it fresh. That’s about all the time needed to make the pasta and a salad…get going…I’m hungry!

Spicy Pasta Sauce, Finale

Finale:

That’s it ! This really only took me about a half hour (without stopping to take pics!). This may seem like a pain with the peeling of the tomatoes and everything, but once you taste it – you’ll never forget the flavor. So simple – like summer should be.

Add a little grilled turkey sausage on the side and it’s a healthy dinner for everyone.

Finale 2

After spending years of opening jars for pasta night, this is a whole other animal ! 

Dressing

 

But wait – remember how I said I’d use the restaurant marinara sauce as a salad dressing? Oh, yeah…

After using it as a pizza sauce – which was awesome ! – the leftovers were run thru the Magic Bullet and bottled.

dressing

It’s a summer treasure. I’ll reserve the store bought jars for winter and await another round of hot weather happiness. 

Enjoy!

Michelle @ badzoot.com