Nancy's Notes From Florida

Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

  • Subscribe

  • Hanging by a Hair

    Hanging by a Hair, a Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Hair Raiser

    Hair Raiser

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Murder by Manicure

    Murder by Manicure

    A Bad Hair Day Mystery

  • Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing the Cozy Mystery

    Writing Guide

  • Archives

  • Categories

Archive for the ‘Florida Musings’ Category

Secret Woods

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 23, 2015

On Saturday, we heard bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan give a talk at the monthly meeting of Florida MWA. Joanna gave pointers on how to be a good speaker but the best example was her own talk that kept us fascinated for an entire hour. I hope I can utilize her tips during my forthcoming speaking engagements.

JoannaSlan2  March2015 Meeting

Sunday found my husband and I at Secret Woods Nature Center for our afternoon walk. We’d been here years ago, and it hasn’t much changed. We walked down various trails, enjoying the natural vegetation, the mangrove swamp, and the view of the New River. From here, we went for ice cream. After all, it was ninety degrees out and we were pretty steamed after that walk.

P1040497  IMG_1330

P1040487  P1040490

P1040491  IMG_1331

P1040494  P1040495

Today I finished Facials Can Be Fatal and sent it off to my agent. Yay! Another book in the bag. This one will be Bad Hair Day Mystery #13. It’s always such a relief to send a book on its way. I still have to work on things like back cover copy, promo blurbs, blog topics, and more, but the creative work is done. Those will come under the auspices of marketing.

Here’s a reminder to sign up for my newsletter to hear all my book news, contests, and more: http://nancyjcohen.com/contact-nancy/newsletter/

And speaking of marketing, tomorrow I’m launching the reissue of Murder by Manicure. So reserve the date for my online launch party: March 24, from 2-4pm EDT https://www.facebook.com/NewReleaseParty Guest Authors & Giveaways!

So what’s your favorite nature park to visit?

 

Posted in Business of Writing, Fiction Writing, Florida Musings, Marketing, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 17, 2015

Yesterday I took a break from work to relax at Fort Lauderdale Beach. On Saturday, I’d attended a meeting of Florida Romance Writers, and Sunday I spoke at a benefit for the Palm Beach School of Autism. Fellow panelists were Elaine Viets, Joy Fielding, and Michael Haskins. Some very talented members made paper sculptures out of books. The table decorations were inspired as well. We spoke a bit about our work and then fielded questions from the audience.

P1040448  P1040445

P1040452  P1040454

Monday I decided that I deserved a day off, so I suggested to my husband we head to the beach for a walk and lunch. We drove down Las Olas and parked at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park across from Bahia Mar resort. It’s cheaper than one of those flat-rate lots. After paying our money via the meter and placing the sticker on our dashboard, we walked alongside the low wave-shaped white wall that borders the beach. Fort Lauderdale officials had the foresight to ban condos here so there’s an unbroken view of the water. Across the street are souvenir shops and cafés bustling with customers.

P1040459P1040462

IMG_1307  P1040476

We passed the cruise-ship shaped Ritz-Carlton hotel and went as far as the Casablanca Café, a popular restaurant on Route A1A. Then we turned back and went to lunch at Coconuts Bahama Café on the Intracoastal. The breeze was pleasant as we sat outside under an umbrella. I had a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp and we split a Key lime pie for dessert. Tourist boats and yachts plied the water while pelicans groomed themselves on the adjacent boat dock.

P1040464  P1040465

P1040466  P1040473

P1040472  P1040463

Satisfied after our meal, we took our beach chairs from the car and found a shady spot on the sand. Here we sat for an hour or so until we were ready to leave. The ocean looked pretty clear down by the shore and I listened to the waves crest and recede. It was fun to people watch. Young girls wearing bikinis strode past while their male counterparts played on a basketball court or used the outdoor gym apparatus near the picnic tables. When I closed my eyes, I heard the ocean surf, seagulls squawking, people chatting, the thump of the ball on the court, the roar of a motorcycle, the drone of prop airplanes overhead dragging banners.

P1040478  P1040483

And so a sense of peace descended upon me until I returned home. And now it’s back to work.

Contest Alert!
One more day! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free books from Booklover’s Bench authors, including an ebook copy of Hair Raiser (Bad Hair Day Mystery #2), in our March contest http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Disney World: Epcot

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 12, 2015

We always enjoy Epcot’s annual Flower and Garden Festival. Colorful blossoms met our gazes everywhere with perfect landscaping as only Disney can do. Not a weed in site, even in their vegetable gardens.

P1040437  P1040444

Our main purpose being to eat, we aimed for World Showcase and the international food booths.

Turning right, I passed on the hot dog with spicy pineapple chutney and the refreshing pineapple soft serve at the Pineapple Promenade to head for France. They always have the best food. Here I had the pulled duck confit with parsley potatoes, and it was as delicious as expected. My husband had the Parisian dumplings with mushrooms and vegetables.

P1040439  P1040440

Further along, I sampled the sweet corn pancake from Venezuela at a booth labeled Botanas Botanico. It was tasty but filling.

P1040441

I topped these meals off with a lemon curd and blueberry tart from Florida Fresh. This dessert was lip-smacking good.

P1040443

As the sun blazed overhead, it neared eighty degrees but wasn’t nearly as bad as in the humid, warmer months. After ending up back where we started, we headed home for a much-needed nap. Since we have annual passes, it’s easy to show up for a long walk and lunch and then leave. One thing I will advise, and that’s to avoid Downtown Disney. The construction is a mess over there, and parking is difficult I’ll wait until things improve, and the new restaurants open at the renamed Disney Springs.

P1040438

Spring is the perfect time to visit Disney World, same as November, when temperatures can be milder. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck at home, look for the new Cinderella movie debuting on Friday. Hopefully, it’ll be a winner. How can it not be, when Lady Rose from Downton Abbey plays the title role?

Contest! Enter March 4-18 to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free books by Booklover’s Bench authors.
http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Playing Tourist in Fort Lauderdale

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on February 3, 2015

Last weekend, we attended a family wedding. It was a lovely affair at a country club.

P1040188  P1040192

P1040177  P1040184

Look at this cake. Isn’t it worthy of the one in Shear Murder? And note the floral centerpieces have orchids that play a central role in my story.

P1040196  P1040194

I got to see my cousins, and my brother visited from out-of-town. This gave me the chance to show him around. He loves flea markets so we went to the infamous Swap Shop on East Sunrise. I remember the days when there used to be a circus with live animals.

P1040202  P1040203

P1040204  P1040205

We headed over to Bass Pro Shops and lunch at Islamorada Fish Company Restaurant next. I had coconut shrimp, while my brother had a conch salad and the husband had fish and chips.

P1040211  P1040214

Look at this iguana sunning itself on the rocks. There’s a whole bunch of them. A family, perhaps?

iguana3  iguana4

Anyway, it was a neat day, and we were sorry to see my brother leave. I’d bought vegetables at the Farmer’s Market, and what I made with the eggplant will be posted on my next blog.

P1040206  P1040208

Winter Contest, Jan. 27-Feb. 14
Enter to win a signed hardcover copy of Shear Murder & a $10 Starbucks gift card. Two prizes to be awarded.
http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

 

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Disney Revisited

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 23, 2014

The Magic Kingdom never loses its magic for us, even though we’re approaching our later years. We celebrated our engagement there, and this year we celebrated our 38th anniversary at this magical theme park.

First we had a lovely dinner at Eddie V’s on West Sand Lake Road. I’d made the reservation and said it was our anniversary, so they greeted us with a “Happy Anniversary.” The white clothed table was strewn with red rose petals and a congratulatory note from the restaurant. Then they offered us a complimentary champagne toast, which we gratefully accepted. Dinner was delicious. We’d definitely return again.

EddieV

The next morning, we parked at the ticket and transportation center and took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. The streets were festively decorated for the holidays. A mini-parade was going on so we stopped to watch.

P1040045  P1040050

P1040043  P1040046

Then we boarded the People Mover in Tomorrowland. This sedate ride is our speed these days. We skipped another favorite, the Carousel of Progress, to see if we could get in for lunch at the Beauty and the Beast castle. Alas, reservations were full. We proceeded past Fantasyland toward the Haunted Mansion, noting the store that used to hold kitchen wares now sold Haunted Mansion souvenirs. Why not? Every other ride has an associated gift shop. Some of the items were imaginative. We ate lunch in the nearby Colombia House, then strolled around the rest of the park. That’s the beauty of having a condo nearby and annual passes. We don’t have to stay late because we’re trying to make the most of our money. We can go for a walk and a pleasant lunch out then go home to read and rest.

P1040048  P1040052

P1040051P1040054

Another day found us at Fort Wilderness for another lunch and stroll. We like this wooded park where guests can rent camping sites or log cabins. It feels more like a wilderness area than the other theme parks. It’s interesting how trees have changed color in Central Florida. You’ll see vibrant reds and golds like up north mixed among the greenery. It gave us a taste of Fall.

We couldn’t resist trying the new parking garage at Downtown Disney to see what was going on with their renovations into Disney Springs. Lots of changes are coming. We saw one restaurant under construction called the Boathouse and another one that looks like an airplane hangar. Captain Jack’s restaurant is gone. The Rainforest Café now has a Lava Lounge, and there’s a bridge being built across the lagoon. We ate lunch and watched the latest Night at the Museum movie in the Dine-In movie theater. The film was entertaining, good family fare for the holidays. Here’s the new Starbucks at Downtown Disney. It has a cool outdoor seating area and a reserve coffee bar separate from the regular counter.

P1040057 P1040058

P1040059

And we even made time for a restful stroll around our condo lake. Didn’t spot the resident alligator this time. Now we’re at our house gearing up for more holiday parties while I’m trying to get back on a work schedule. I miss those walks around the Disney parks.

P1040056

Happy Holidays to all!

Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Brio Tuscan Grille

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 14, 2014

I love trying new restaurants, especially when they’re right around the corner from where I live. A new Brio Tuscan Grille just opened on the southeast corner of Westfield Mall in Plantation. We had an excellent meal, starting with the tomato and mozzarella Caprese salad. My husband had shrimp and crab cakes and I had grilled salmon. The fish was accompanied by roasted diced sweet potatoes, asparagus and other vegetables. It was delicious and the service was excellent. I can’t wait to go back. We also liked that they served butter instead of olive oil with the crusty bread. Prices are reasonable, and they are open for lunch. And who can resist the mini-desserts for $2.99?

IMG_1136  IMG_1138

IMG_1140  IMG_1139

IMG_1141

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Flamingo Gardens

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 7, 2014

Yesterday, we revisited Flamingo Gardens where we’d been members years ago. It’s the only botanical gardens in the Fort Lauderdale area. For an $18 admission fee, you can enter the lush grounds through the gift shop. In the back is the entry through an impressive arch of holiday lights.

P1040019  P1030989

P1030991  P1040020

Along winding paths, you can admire the tropical greenery and enormous trees like the live oaks that have grown here for 200 years. Who said south Florida didn’t have tall trees? Colorful flowers abound amid trickling waterfalls and spreading plants.

P1030993  P1030997

Next comes the Aviary where birds run free, then a caged section holding owls, eagles and hawks. These birds of prey are all injured and can’t be released into the wild. So they are, in effect, rescue animals.

P1030998  P1040001

We skipped the snakes behind glass cases and the guide-led wildlife encounter to head toward the historic Wray home. I love seeing how people lived in 1930’s Florida.

P1040009  P1040003

P1040004  P1040005

P1040007

After eating hot dogs at the outdoor café, we viewed the zoo area with a bobcat, turtles, alligators, a black bear, and more. We passed on the tram ride, annoyed at the extra cost and that they don’t allow visitors to stroll the expanded acreage because you have to take the ride there. That’s one reason why we dropped our membership. The place isn’t as well maintained as Fairchild in Miami or Leu Gardens in Winter Park. It’s pleasant for visitors but limited for locals due to these reasons.

See the iguana in the picture below on the right? And you do know that flamingo get their color from eating shrimp?

P1040011 P1040012

P1040014  P1040015

I am not sure, but I think that might be a breadfruit tree above. The path ends again at the gift shop which always has an appealing array of Florida knickknacks, books, souvenirs, snazzy umbrellas and more. The gardens are certainly worthwhile for visitors who wish to experience our ecological environment. I suggest you go in the cooler months when it isn’t buggy. Yesterday was perfect, in the seventies and sunny.

P1040018

<><><>

Contest Alert!

Win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card or free ebooks from Booklover’s Bench authors, including a copy of my cruise ship mystery Killer Knots, in our December contest: http://bookloversbench.com/contest/. Unfortunately, if you entered before, you’ll need to enter again. Rafflecopter screwed up and lost all our entries.

Now speaking of flamingos, Freddie the Flamingo is the official mascot of Florida’s MWA chapter. Come join us for SleuthFest 2015 in Deerfield Beach on Feb. 26. Guest speakers include bestselling author James Patterson and humorist Dave Barry. For more info, go to http://www.sleuthfest.com

Spider2

Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Cooking Class

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on December 2, 2014

My husband and I have always enjoyed taking cooking classes together. This time, we brought our grown children along. They were visiting for Thanksgiving weekend and we thought it would be a fun experience.

Here’s a recap of the weekend up until then: We enjoyed our traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day, followed by an evening of TV viewing wherein the ladies watched the Hallmark Channel and the guys watched sports. Friday morning, we ate breakfast out and then headed to Westfield Mall to shop at Dillards. Lunch followed at the Red Robin. Then we saw The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. It kept your interest although the movie dragged out with too many close-ups. That evening, we ate out at J. Alexander. Saturday, my daughter and I indulged ourselves in nail treatments at the salon. Then we all took a walk at Volunteer Park on Sunrise Blvd.

Volunteer Park

Saturday at 6:30 found us at Aprons Cooking School inside our local Publix. If you have one near you, by all means go take a class. But bring an appetite. You’ll come away stuffed from all the delicious dishes you get to taste. You can choose either a Demo class, where you get to watch the chefs; or a Hands-On class where you do the work. I prefer the former at this stage in my life.

IMG_1129

Chefs Maggie and Wes poured us each a welcome drink, a Pinot Grigio. I liked this light white wine. Oh, did I tell you the title for tonight’s adventure? The class was called “Girl’s Night Out.” I called up in advance to make sure guys could attend. I told our family during the drive over. The guys took it in with a sense of humor. No matter; one of the chefs was male, and it was a small class so the title really didn’t matter.

P1030977

We began the night with a Walnut and Brie Strudel with Cranberry and Florida Citrus Jam. The strudel pieces looked like egg rolls, but they were lip-smacking good! This was my favorite of the evening and it was served with a Sauvignon Blanc wine.

P1030978  P1030979

Next came crispy fried crab fritters, with the crab on the side for people allergic to seafood. “A slice and a slice equals a dice,” said the chefs as they demonstrated techniques. Served with an avocado remoulade, it hit the spot. Another winner. I liked the Chardonnay served with this dish.

P1030981  P1030983

The entrée was a Caesar roasted swordfish with citrus roasted asparagus and a scoop of an orzo mixture on the side. A parmesan crisp added a decorative touch. Swordfish is a meaty variety with a fishy taste. I was surprised when the chefs said that tilapia, one of my favorites, has little nutritional value compared to other fish. Think I’ll stick with salmon. A different Chardonnay accompanied the seafood.

P1030984  P1030985

Finally, for dessert we had red velvet cupcakes topped with cassis cream cheese. These melted in the mouth and so did the warm frosting. They’re unlike anything you’d buy in the store and are like a dessert from a gourmet restaurant, including the presentation. However, the ruby port wine served with this sweet was too strong for our taste.

P1030987  P1030986

P1030988

All in all, we had a great time and walked away a few pounds heavier and with a packet of recipes to try at home.

 

 

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, Recipes, That's Life | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

History of Food Sources in SE Florida

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on October 27, 2014

What did the early peoples of southeast Florida find to eat? Recently, Michelle Williams from the Florida Public Archaeology Network gave a talk about “Weeds and Seeds: Dining on the Riches of Southeast Florida.” Any errors in this report are due to my interpretation.

Archaeologist

She mentioned how the early people build pyramidal shaped mounds as symbols of power. About 2000 years ago, papaya could be found here, although it probably came to these shores via bird poop. Zoo archaeology is examining animal bones to study our history. She is a paleoethnobotanist. This discipline studies plant remains to understand how people lived.

In southeast Florida, we have environmental interfaces where there’s an overlap of more than one type of ecological environment (if I understood this correctly).

The Everglades has tree islands. The trees there have a specific orientation in a teardrop shape based on water flow. Every island has evidence that people used to inhabit the land. Animals lived there, too, and provided food. Plants and trees provided wood and other resources including a type of flour. Among other things, people ate tubers, alligator meat, fish and birds.

Another environment here is the Ocean, including the ocean’s edge and mangrove swamps. There people ate conch, dolphin, seaweed, seagrapes, and cocoplums.

Another system includes Rivers and river banks, with turtles, fish, muscadine grapes and prickly pear cactus.

Lake Okeechobee is another region with snakes and fish. Catfish was popular there and now it’s bass. Elderberries and other plants grow there. The Kissimmee River feeds Lake Okeechobee, and this in turn feeds the Everglades. So Southeast Florida had hunting and gathering but no agriculture. Yet the abundance of plants and animal life supplied enough provisions for these early peoples.

Some of the current problems are Burmese pythons in the Everglades, giant African land snails and green iguanas.

Posted in Florida Musings, Food, Research | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Epcot Food Festival, Day 2

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on September 25, 2014

Epcot Food Festival, Day 2

Today was overcast and hot so I couldn’t eat much in the heat. Only made it to two places again but the portions were generous and I wasn’t hungry after the hearty dish at France. We started off to the right past Puerto Rico. Next time, we’ll have to go in the other direction as Patagonia is new and a couple of things there sound good.

Puerto Rico
Braised beef with rice in vegetable sauce was very tasty and worth the wait in line.

P1030843  P1030846

P1030844

France
Wheat pasta gratin with mushrooms and Gruyere cheese very creamy and delicious. Also rather filling.

P1030847

Belgium
Our kids always like the Belgium waffle with strawberries and whipped cream.

P1030848

Eddie V’s
Another night on the Magical Dining menu found us ordering Lobster and Shrimp Bisque at Eddie V’s on Restaurant Row. It had chunks of lobster, fishy/salty taste, but I am more used to New England clam chowder.

P1030852 P1030851

P1030855

Excellent Scottish salmon with a few vegetable garnishes. We ordered a side dish of truffle mac and cheese, very tasty with crispy topping. Beef filet medallions very tender.

P1030856  P1030857

Dessert choices: dark chocolate mousse with whipped cream and fresh berries, Crème Brulé and Bananas Foster cake with butter pecan ice cream. Elegant, modern upbeat interior and excellent service. I would return here.

P1030858  P1030859

P1030860

What are your favorite restaurants at Magical Dining Month? If you live elsewhere, does your community have something similar with fixed price meals?

Coming Next: Disney’s Fort Wilderness

 

Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,393 other followers

%d bloggers like this: