Coastal Living’s Best Beaches

Woo Hoo!
Gulf Shores AL made it to Coastal Living’s list of the 21 Best Beaches. It is a really beautiful beach and especially relaxing along the west end past the crowds. Congrats!Gulf Shores west end (c) eileensaunders
Of these 21 Best Beaches, I’ve been to 8. I’ve also been to a lot of other amazing beaches which I’d consider best. For now, I’ll just enjoy Gulf Shores.
You can read the whole article here to find out where the other 20 beaches are.

Nesting Season

Mid March I was showing a friend’s granddaughter a bird nest in one of my backyard trees. It was thin, weather-worn and had been there for 2 years. Looking up at the nest, you could see right through a large hole along the side.

I walked under that branch today, happened to look up at it and saw a remodeled nest. No longer riddled with holes, the nest was thick and large. A long tail stuck out over the south edge, so I ran to get my camera.

Do you see the bird's tail?

Do you see the bird’s tail?

dove nest 002 (c) eileensaunders

She’s sitting there.

dove nest 006 (c) eileensaunders

See her looking at the camera?

The pair of Mourning Doves have been regulars to my yard every year.  I never knew where they nested until this year.  What a blessing to have them in my yard. Can’t wait ’til the eggs hatch.

Snake House

I have a family of snakes living in a weep hole by my front door. Besides the garage door, this little section of wall is the only part of the front of my house facing South that gets sunlight. The other main wall South-facing wall is heavily shaded by trees and my neighbor’s house. These snakes seem to enjoy basking in the sun. They were there yesterday sitting in the garden, all pointing South. This morning they are hanging out of the weep hole just basking. A third, as you’ll see in the second photo, came from the garden across the sidewalk at my porch. One of the snakes hanging from the weep hole went inside before I got the photo taken, but believe me…there are at least 3.

Mom and baby

Mom and baby

snakes 002 (c) eileensaunders

Mom and a 3rd snake on the ground. Baby went inside.

The pest control guy came by yesterday afternoon just as I noticed these snakes. He said he couldn’t do anything about them. He only keeps ants, palmetto bugs, silverfish and spiders from coming into my home. And he does a great job, we were infested with silverfish when we moved in…they’re pretty much gone now.
Back to the snakes…what do I do about them? This is a single family home, not a condo.

Peeps Show

I went to a Peep Show. It’s not a high priority on my to-do list. It’s actually not on any of my to-do or bucket lists. I wouldn’t be caught dead at a Peep Show actually, but this one was irresistible.  It was really a Peeps Show.

These photos are a sample of a larger exhibit; about 30 dioramas of Peeps.  The Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery in Lake Worth FL hosted this tribute to Peeps last month.  Turns out that there are Peeps fans all over that contribute their art of Peeps to more than 40 exhibits in the U.S. during the Easter season.

Peeps are not my favorite food and I have actually denied my children the experience of eating and playing with them until just this year.  My own childhood memories of Easter included a platter my mom would decorate for the dining room table centerpiece with jelly beans, chocolate eggs and Peeps.  The Peeps were hard and nasty; unedible.  I do remember playing with them like characters but just couldn’t eat them.  To me, Peeps are a non-food, kind of like Twinkies…they are a cultural icon.

So the thought of thousands of people using them as an annual art medium never crossed my mind.  I can’t say I’ve ever Googled “Peeps”. I hadn’t heard of this art thing until I read an article in the March 24th issue of the Palm Beach Post and found out about the exhibit.  Unfortunately, the article was printed a week after the exhibit but a few dioramas remained when we paid our visit to the gallery.  And, aren’t they just cute?

So cute that when we returned from vacation after Easter, I snatched up a few boxes of pink and yellow Peeps, left over and on sale, for the boys and I to play with.  I also let them each have a taste.  Travis liked the chocolate covered one, the others were just “ok”. Austin thought they were bland.  So I guess I didn’t harm my children by not allowing Peeps in the house all of these years.

Anyway, the article gives insight into the Peeps world.  The son of the Peeps inventor has recently retired to FL, from PA, and so he was a feature in the newspaper.  Originally made by hand, Peeps are now made by a machine that this guy, Bob Born, invented for his dad to use.   The article also gave away the secret to Peeps longevity.  Describing how Peeps are fondly subjected to scientific tests for their indestructibility with boiling water, cigarettes, liquid nitrogen and acetone (which is another reason they don’t belong in my belly) , Mr. Born stated that “gelatin is what gives Peeps their longevity.”

Now on to our own Peep art.  We’ll be working on these this week.  I have about 80 Peeps to work with so hopefully we’ll come up with something great.  Here’s one that I threw together.peeps 008 (c) eileensaunders

Five Facts About the Eastern Towhee

vacation spring 2013 001

  • Eastern Towhee nests on the ground or in a shrub.
  • It is sometimes mistaken for an American Robin (until you see the breast color) but it is smaller and the colors are bolder.
  • Towhees eat seeds, fruits, insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, snails, flower buds and parts of plants in farm land such as wheat
  • They often pick through leaf litter on the ground as they spend most of their time on the ground.
  • The Towhee’s nest is often a victim of the Cowbird who lays her eggs along with the Towhee’s.  The Towhee is then left to incubate and raise the Cowbird chicks.  Their eggs look alike.

vacation spring 2013 002(c) eileensaunders

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 

 

Turtle Nesting on Singer Island

I awoke a few days ago to find that turtles had visited the beach on Singer Island FL to lay some eggs.  These areas had already been posted by turtle volunteers by the time I saw them.  This spotting was just too cool for words.

Tracks going up the dunes.  These were posted/staked in two different areas: one at the top of the track on the dune, there is another post midway.  A third post was there a few days prior.  The diagonal tracks crossing the wider path was from someones pet. What an awesome sight.

Tracks going up the dunes. These were posted/staked in two different areas: one at the top of the track on the dune, there is another post midway. A third post was there a few days prior. The diagonal tracks crossing the wider path was from someones pet. What an awesome sight.

Turtle tracks to nesting area on the dune, left of center.  The dark spot in the center of the beach that looks like 3 triangles together, is a nest that was posted/staked the previous day.  There is another directly straight to the water from the dark spot.

Turtle tracks to nesting area on the dune, left of center. The dark spot in the center of the beach that looks like 3 triangles together, is a nest that was posted/staked the previous day. There is another directly straight to the water from the dark spot.

It’s Awesomeness Day

That’s what my 2013 Sandra Boynton “Mom’s Family Calendar” tells me and we’re going to be awesome today, despite the torrential downpour outside.

Awesomeness Day (the International version) is March 10. There was one on April 3 in 2011 but there is no mention of it anywhere else on the internet but we’re not going to let that bother us.  My calendar says it’s today.

So, what does it mean to be awesome?  What does awesome mean?  According to Merriam-Webster it’s “expressive of awe”, “inspiring awe”.  Awe means “profound and reverent dread of the supernatural” and “respectful fear inspired by authority”.  Hmm

Roget’s gives some awesome synonyms: “impressive, awe-inspiring”. It also says the slang synonyms are “excellent and splendid”.  Much more to my liking.

So today I will be awesome to my children, inspiring “awe” to my excellentness (tee-hee).  We will be excellent and splendid to each other and in everything we do today.  BE THE BEST!

So take the day by the horns, plump your peacock feathers and strut your stuff today. Be awesome/excellent/splendid! Be glad today is so awesome: you’re alive, the United States is still a free nation (I checked the news today and so far so good), you’ve got God-given talents and skills to be good stewards of, and you’re just awesome to me.

So how are you going to celebrate?

Happy Birthday Florida

April 3, 1513 Ponce de Leon discovered the land he called La Florida. He claimed the area for Spain. That makes Florida 500 years old.

September 8, 1565 Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles came ashore and founded the city he called St. Augustine, as a Spanish military base; roughly the in the same area Ponce and his crew landed. The oldest city in what is now the United States is still kicking at almost 450 years.

This year the city of St. Augustine celebrates Florida with a lot of activities. From educational presentations at Flagler College to art shows, re-enactments, a Commemorative Mass and festivals there is plenty to do in St. Augustine.  Then in 2015, the city will celebrate its own birthday with more things to do.

Make plans early if you plan to attend.  We had the opportunity to visit briefly over Easter weekend and the city was buzzing. Streets were overflowing with visitors and hotel rooms were not available.   We lucked out taking a cancellation at the Holiday Inn.

We walked around the fort, strolled down the historic district in and out of the shops, checked out the cemetery, saw the “Oldest Schoolhouse in America”, listened in (briefly) on a ghost tour, visited art galleries (I found my new favorite), bought a book called “Ghosts & Gravestones in St Augustine FL, and ate dinner at The Floridian.  For dessert Travis went to the macaroon store while Gary and Austin had chocolate-coated popsicles.

St Augustine

St Augustine, FL

Oldest Schoolhouse in America

Oldest Schoolhouse in America

St Augustine Fort

St Augustine Fort

Matanzas Bay

Matanzas Bay

A little further south, the Brevard Zoo is hosting “Art of Sand”, a unique sand sculpture exhibit representing the timeline history of Florida. We didn’t get to see it, unfortunately, but it’s open through Memorial Day 2013 so if you get a chance to see it please send me some photos.

There is so much to do and see and frankly I would like to have spent more time.  I could just go back.

Contact the Travel and Tourism in FL for more state-wide activities.