Archive for the ‘Florida Musings’ Category
Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 20, 2015
Are you prepared for disaster? The other morning, we were taking our daily walk when we heard a series of explosions. Then I noticed sparks from among the trees. Getting closer to the source, we noted the disturbance came from a utility pole on our community’s main street. Upon rushing home, our fears were confirmed. The power was out.
Not to worry. We kept the blinds closed along with the refrigerator. I shut down our computers as they still were running on battery power with my backup APC unit. And it was daylight, so we could see just fine. I decided I’d read newsletters on my iPad. And so I got the reading done that I’d been postponing.
At 11am, I had a hair appointment. My husband and I were starting to get restless. He’s used to running out on errands while I get my writing done. But as we attempted to manually lift the garage door, we failed. It was incredibly heavy and required both of us to shove it upward. I wasn’t tall enough to push it over the edge. And then it came crashing down if we didn’t lower it. It wouldn’t stay in place. I got out the manual for our hurricane-proof steel door. From the instructions there, it appeared our springs were not working properly. We’d need a service call.
Fortunately, we still had landlines. Our portable phone units didn’t work, and I wanted to save my cell phone for checking email and doing posts on my social networks. So we called the garage door people. A breath of relief. They’d send someone out later that day.
More time passed. Another call to FPL said the power wouldn’t be restored until 1 pm. There was damage to the main line. Great. I cancelled my hair appointment. We couldn’t go out for a second walk in case the garage door guy called. So there we were, trapped in our house. We ate snacks from the pantry, not wishing to open the refrigerator and raise its temperature. It was relatively cool in the house, being partially cloudy outside and not the summer heat, thank goodness. It gave us the opportunity to test our flashlights and battery-run radios. We have a solar powered/hand crank device that has a searchlight, radio, and cell charger. And I have a portable cell phone charger as well.
Without a laptop, I couldn’t do any writing, but I’d already finished my task for the day before we’d gone out earlier. Finally, just around one the garage repairman came. He adjusted the springs and lubricated the joints. Lo and behold, I was able to easily lift the door myself thereafter, and it stayed open. We pulled out both of our cars. And right after the serviceman left, the power flickered on.
The outage had lasted six hours. It had made us do garage door maintenance, which we’d needed and wouldn’t have known otherwise. And it made us take stock that we really weren’t prepared for hurricane season. But at least for those storms, you have advance warning.
Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life | Tagged: Florida, FPL, garage doors, Nancy Cohen, power failure, Power outage | 2 Comments »
Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 6, 2015
Vizcaya was built in the early 1900’s for James Deering. The mansion, located in Miami, is Italian Renaissance style. You can tour the house and gardens and lunch in a pleasant café adjacent to the gift shop.
We began our stroll outside to take advantage of the cooler morning air. Surrounded by a lush tropical forest, the estate borders Biscayne Bay. We passed a swimming pool on the east side that’s partially under cover. Facing the water at the back are boat landings where guests arrived by boat at the property. This was actually the main entrance back in the day. A replica of a barge sits in the water to stem the tide. Note the little tea house gazebo in the distance.
From here we entered the formal gardens via steps made from coral. Hedges, quaint grottos, and a maze of paths take you along this tranquil garden. Statuary draws attention as do fountains and secret little nooks.
We headed to the house next and were informed photos were not allowed inside. On the ground floor, we viewed the library, living room, music room, reception rooms, open-air loggia facing the water, and a formal dining room with a serving pantry at its side. Tapestries, huge paintings, and silk panels decorated the walls with lots of gold trim and marble columns. Fancy chandeliers have been converted to electricity but still maintain their historical design.
Upstairs are the bedrooms, a breakfast room, and the kitchen—which always fascinates me in these historical homes. There were bathrooms as well. We didn’t get to see the servant’s quarters because they’ve mostly been converted into offices.
After getting our exercise climbing up and down stairs, some of which were narrow spiral staircases, we aimed for the gift shop and café. Here we ate a substantial lunch (self-service only) and then left to return home. It was wonderful to imagine what it must have been like living in such a big house. I’d call it Downton Abbey – Florida style, except Mr. Deering was a bachelor and his nieces inherited his property. They donated it to Miami-Dade County, which opened the house and grounds as a museum in 1953. http://www.vizcaya.org
Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: Florida, historic houses, James Deering, Miami, travel, Vizcaya | 4 Comments »
Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on March 30, 2015
On Friday, we took a ride over to Venice, Florida in preparation for the big Book Fair the next day. This charming seaside resort is on Florida’s Gulf coast just a bit below Sarasota. After checking in at our hotel, we drove to the fishing pier for lunch at Sharkey’s. This highly popular restaurant also has an upper level, but we chose to dine downstairs with a lovely view of the beach. The New England clam chowder was thick and creamy, just the way I like it. But the coconut shrimp didn’t compare to the ones at Bahama Breeze. These tasted greasy fried and the sauce had no flavor. I recommend you avoid this dish here. The stuffed mushrooms were good. These two appetizers and the soup were enough for lunch. From here, we strolled down the fishing pier but not to the far end as storm clouds were moving in. By the time we drove to downtown, it was pouring.
Nonetheless, we gamely took out our umbrellas to stroll up and down the street lined with outdoor cafés and gift shops and bordered by majestic date palms.
The deluge kept us in our hotel room for the rest of the afternoon until we met some of our gang at Left Coast Seafood, recommended by FMWA member Nancy Gazo. Nancy and her husband joined us along with Alison McMahan and her spouse. This restaurant is hugely popular and the food was worth the wait. I had grilled salmon with hush puppies and a vegetable medley. It was cooked just right.
The next morning found us all at Centennial Park for the Book Fair. While Nancy went to set up our exhibit booth, Alison and I met another FMWA member, Randy Rawls, who was our panel moderator. We were joined by thriller author Leo J. Maloney, whose experience as a black ops agent had us enthralled. Our panel went well and we proceeded outside to man the booth.
Aside from a strong breeze, it was a lovely day to be outdoors with cooler temperatures and sunshine. We represented our Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, gave out brochures, and acquainted passersby with our books. All too soon, it became time to leave. Many thanks to Nancy Gazo for organizing these events for us. See you at the next one!
Back home, we took advantage of the cool weather the next day to take a walk at Tree Tops Park. Little did we realize when we entered the path for the Pine Island Ridge section that we’d be in danger of getting lost! The trail wound around with no maps to tell us where we were. It seemed to go on for miles. Finally, we turned back and asked other walkers which way would take us into Tree Tops again. How scary to be lost with only a cell phone for communication with the outside world. What if there wasn’t cell service? Should we have marked the trail so we’d know the way back? I can just imagine Marla and Dalton getting lost with a killer on their tail.
Okay, back to reality. Murder by Manicure (Bad Hair Day Mystery #3) is now available in a Print edition as well as for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks (See previous post for links).
Spring Into Summer Contest—March 24 to April 3
Enter to win a signed hardcover Shear Murder and $10 Starbucks gift card or one of two ebook copies of Hair Raiser http://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/
Posted in Appearances, Business of Writing, Florida Musings, Food, Marketing, The Writing Life, Travel | Tagged: book festival, dining, Florida, food, Nancy Cohen, travel, Venice, Venice Book Fair | 4 Comments »
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.
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.
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: fiction writing, Florida MWA, Fort Lauderdale, Joanna Campbell Slan, marketing, nature park, Secret Woods | 3 Comments »
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.
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.
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.
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.
And so a sense of peace descended upon me until I returned home. And now it’s back to work.
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: attractions, beach, dining, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Nancy Cohen, travel | 6 Comments »
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.
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.
Further along, I sampled the sweet corn pancake from Venezuela at a booth labeled Botanas Botanico. It was tasty but filling.
I topped these meals off with a lemon curd and blueberry tart from Florida Fresh. This dessert was lip-smacking good.
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.
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.
Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: Central Florida, Disney, Disney World, Epcot, Flower Festival, food, Garden Festival, Orlando | Leave a Comment »
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.
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.
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.
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.
Look at this iguana sunning itself on the rocks. There’s a whole bunch of them. A family, perhaps?
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.
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: Bass Pro Shops, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Islamorada Fish Company, Nancy Cohen, Swap Shop, travel | Leave a Comment »
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Holidays to all!
Posted in Disney, Florida Musings, Food, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: Disney, Disney World, food, Fort Wilderness, Magic Kingdom, Orlando | 4 Comments »
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?
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: Brio, Brio Tuscan Grille, dining, food, Fort Lauderdale, Italian, restaurants | 6 Comments »
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
Posted in Florida Musings, That's Life, Travel | Tagged: botanical gardens, Davie, Flamingo Gardens, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, parks | 4 Comments »